Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Time To Call The Plumber

I've taken a few weeks off the blog, but I'm back now. I wasn't completely wasting my time while away from the computer, but definitely taking a sabbatical from all things thought-provoking.

My mom, two brothers, and three in-laws came to town. My mom was here for about a week and a half, Dan was here for a week, and Tim, Bob, Jill, and Jeff were here for an overnight each. I love having my family around, and I wish wish wish that they lived closer. But you have to live where it's right for your family, so I'm accepting.

Here's what I've learned about myself, with all of this togetherness: it's not conducive to blogging. Apparently what I need to be an effective blogger is isolation. In my normal day, I have many, many hours of talking to a preschooler and a none-too-verbal 1 year old whose favorite word is "go away". So the deeper thoughts in my head tend to get clogged up in there, like a hairball in the pipe, collecting random other bits of thought. The whole mess congeals and rots and backs up into the sink and eventually I need to get at it with some Liquid Plumber.

When I have actual adults to talk to all day long at the drop of a hat, my mental process flows like a perfectly working toilet. No clogs, no backups - as soon as I have a thought I say it out loud, and that's the end of that. There's no need to dwell, and obsess, and come up with just the exact perfect way to describe whatever thought happens to be in my mind.

And you'd think that'd be a good thing, but it's not. I like obsessing. I like making mountains out of molehills. I like attempting to have deep thoughts, even if it means occasionally bumping my head on the bottom of the shallow end of my brain. I like thinking of myself as an actively creative person even though, to paraphrase from a short story I just read, my work is completely volunteerism.

I sometimes wonder what I'd be capable of accomplishing if given a substantial amount of time to myself, you know, like a regular person who has a job. If being by myself were a full-time job, here's how I think a typical day would look:

9:00 - Get to work

9:02 - Log onto Facebook, update status to "Emily Simmons is hard at work!"

9:05 - Read friends' statuses, comment on half a dozen, read some notes about people's 25 Random Things and ponder just why so many of these adults spend so much time talking about drinking. Jot down on a notepad "why do responsible adults talk about drinking like they're 20-year-old frat boys" as a potential blog subject, keep browsing.

9:37 - Head over to and read about how people are getting ripped off by unscrupulous businesses. Get riled up over a story about a mother who got kicked off a plane for having a crying baby and all of the comments about how children should never, ever be allowed on planes and how mothers who travel with their children should have their heads on a pike to teach all other mothers a lesson to just stay home and suck it up.

10:03 - Back to Facebook to change status to "Emily Simmons says, Mothers of the world, Unite!" Join group called "Mothers Against People Who Hate Crying Babies." Also join group called "People Who Hate Crying Babies" because, hey, who likes crying babies?

10:18 - Respond to some emails. Send a long missive to a long-lost acquaintance from 8th grade who I have a hard time picturing, but seems nice enough. Turns out, it's a person who only friended me because they really wanted to catch up with my brother, and he's not on Facebook.

10:44 - Grab notebook and peruse ideas for blog entries and possible stories.

10:46 - Decide that maybe the next story should be set someplace exotic, so go to and start browsing. Greece? Or maybe Italy?

11:30 - Get so excited about Italy that maybe it would be a good idea to go there for a research trip. Price check flights at Orbitz, Travelocity, and Delta before realizing that it's too expensive and besides, how would any work get done if the kids were there?

12:03 - Stop for lunch break. Change Facebook entry to "Emily Simmons has been staring at the computer for three hours and needs a break!"

1:17 - Decide to shelve story plan and write a blog entry instead. Open word document and stare.

1:22 - Update Facebook status to "Emily Simmons is at a loss for words." Go to bittorrent website and download yesterday's "Biggest Loser" episode.

1:28 - Write the opening paragraph to a blog about having writer's block. Hate it and delete the whole thing.

1:35 - Write the opening paragraph to a blog about people's unrealistic expectations and how they should just get off your back already! Too nasty, delete.

1:42 - Sit, in a funk. Spin chair around, back and forth. Scootch from one side of the room to the other.

1:50 - Realize what is needed is some outside interaction. Call Ryan.

1:52 - He's too busy working to chat. Call Dad. Talk about the current economic crisis, some good books, what Dr. Laura had the nerve to say to some poor woman yesterday.

2:15 - Get off the phone, change status to "Emily Simmons (hearts) her Dad!"

2:21 - Decide to sharpen all the dull pencils in the drawer with the electric pencil sharpener. But wait! One gets stuck and won't pull out, sucking the pencil into the spinning vortex of blades that inexorably leads to the pencil's demise! It gets shorter and shorter, until the only thing left is the metal band around the eraser, and finally that goes in too, making a horrible grinding sound of metal on metal. Sparks fly out and the motor shuts off, as a wisp of smoke comes out of the pencil hole, smelling vaguely like burnt popcorn and metal hangers.

2:22 - Inspiration has finally struck, and writing commences on the state of Chinese imports, the pencil industry, and how creativity is reliant on outside forces. After all, you can't expect someone to create in a vacuum!

4:00 - Post blog. Call it a day. Change status to "Emily Simmons is going home after a LOOOOONG day at work."

So that's what my day would look like if I had unlimited time to myself. And we already know how it would look with lots of social interaction - three weeks of no blog entries. Could it be that I'm in the perfect middle ground and I didn't even know it? I'll have to let that thought congeal for a little while before I know.


rachel said...

Emily, I love the way you write.

Drake Steel said...

Hi Emily,

I've gotten turned on to trip advisor also! Our secretary at work showed it to me and i was looking up a B&B for a Holland bike trip we're planning. I get too many choices however and like you I give up... or rather, unlike you I give the project to my wife! Everyone should have one, no wonder Big Love is such a hit.