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This Is How You Do It

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard, and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy and that hard. Neil Gaiman

This is how you do it when you crave peace and quiet, and life offers little of either.

This how you do it when the time to think and work comes in fragments and short bursts. You grab onto those precious moments with both hands, find your spot in the bright, sunny kitchen and begin. But not until you grab a cup of coffee and settle the dog at your feet.

This is how you do it when your husband is working from home, wandering around the house, opening the refrigerator door and watching MSNBC. You work on what can be accomplished with a distracted mind. You learn when to give him your undivided attention and when just being close by is enough.

This is how you do it when life gets complicated, overwhelming, painful. You get out of bed. You take a hot shower. You take the dog for a walk, and walk and walk and walk until you can see the beauty and the world makes sense again. Or, if leaving the house is too painful, you climb into Jimmy’s soft chocolate brown LazyBoy recliner and invite the dog onto your lap. Feeling his body grow heavier as he drifts off to sleep grounds you.

This is how you do it when you can no longer think clearly or face what needs to be done. You binge watch series on Netflix with your husband late at night, trying to distract yourself from the horror of what is happening under your own roof. Sneaky PeteBreaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy. You realize that pompous, uncaring asshole teaching your daughter’s high school chemistry class looks like Walter White, and you wonder if he, too, is making meth on the side.

When your husband is out of town, you binge watch shows about death and loss and the broken aftermath. Ricky Gervais, Christina Applegate, Elizabeth Olsen .. snarky, funny, pissed off. They start to feel like old friends. Willing to tell a nosy passerby to fuck off for complaining that the dog is off leash near his wife’s grave. Unafraid to explain to a smug neighbor who’s appeared with an unwanted casserole, saying she “just can’t imagine”, exactly what it would be like if her husband was hit by a car and left for dead.

This is how you do it when you’ve spent your life with too many ‘to do’ lists and too many obligations, refusing to acknowledge that you are the one who said ‘yes’ to all of them. You start by prioritizing the lists, putting the unimportant tasks and the calls to people you don’t want to talk to at the bottom. Eventually, you get tired of copying these same ten or twenty items over and over again. Instead of dropping them from the list, you discover the joy of deciding not to do them at all ever and cross each one out with a bright magenta pen. Over time, you add a flourish and a sweeping arm gesture. It feels good, powerful even. Miraculously, the wheels do not fall off the bus.

This is how you do it.

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