Morning is a hopeful time. The day stretches ahead of you waiting to be filled with good ideas and hard work. Everything seems possible, even though you have a massive to-do list. Your to-do list is actually a to-do pile. This is revealing and disturbing if you think about it so you don’t.
You fix a bowl of cereal and notice that an animal has gotten into the garbage and your driveway is now the canvas for a sickly collage of coffee grounds, fish wrappers, onion skins, a sponge, a broken light bulb, leftover salad, bits of styrofoam and clawed-at bags of dog shit. You curse the squirrels and the City of Newton for their garbage cans that don’t lock. You clean it up, breathing through your mouth, then scrub your hands and head upstairs to work. In a few minutes the dog pushes the door open, lays down, and starts rubbing his chin furiously on the rug and moaning. This has been going on for a few days and you finally call the vet to make an appointment. You feel bad about waiting for so long and decide to walk the dog because he’s old and decrepit and the only thing that brings him pleasure is smelling things. When you get back you poke your head into the den to say hello to Satchel and he tells you that he feels sick. You are a pretty good mother so you ask if there is anything you can do for him. He says “soup.” There is no way you are making soup so you drive to Barry’s and buy some.
Now it’s lunchtime. There’s nothing good to eat in the refrigerator and the soup is spoken for so you microwave an Amy’s frozen lasagna, which is always weirdly satisfying, and go back upstairs. You’ve made a deal with yourself that you will work on music after you get two hours of admininistrative stuff done. You send interview requests to Henry Rollins’ publicist (he’s passing, which is bogus, he should totally talk to you) and T Bone Burnett’s manager (no word yet). You finish editing your Frank Black interview, scour the web for early Pixies footage, and email links to Aimee Mann’s and Chuck D’s handlers and to Mary Gauthier with notes encouraging them to repost the links. You can’t believe you haven’t been doing this all along but self-promotion doesn’t come naturally and that’s a huge problem. You wonder for the hundredth time how to rank friends, followers, and likes in the popularity contest that your life’s work has become, and what you would do with the information even if you had it.
Now it’s late afternoon. Dinner, which was supposed to be a joy instead of a burden after you left your job, looms like a shadow. You wonder about the marinating meats and simmering pots that were going to perfume the afternoons. You close the computer, set the phone to silent, and open your notebook to the “Middle-Aged Rock Band” lyrics. You’ve been wanting to finish this song for weeks. You love the first verse and the chorus. You like the second verse even though it’s not as pithy as the first. You pick up the guitar. And then, nothing. No words. No direction. No patience. You start to play a different song because it feels better than staring into space. This is your new pattern, a horrifying pattern of giving up. You remind yourself that practicing guitar is important, too. But you know it’s not as important as developing good songwriting habits. Maybe you should step away from the troublesome unfinished song and start a new song. Is that lame or sensible? You have no idea. It doesn’t matter because look who’s back.
Now it’s dinnertime. No, it’s past dinnertime. You feed the dog and jump in the car and drive to Whole Foods, as you do every day, trying to think of the fastest, easiest possible thing you can cook. Whatever you make, no one complains. Everyone understands. They’re all rooting for you and that makes you want to cry. After dinner you pour a giant glass of wine and climb the stairs back up to the attic. You know you can do this. Even though the day was a wash. Even though everything is confusing. Even though you’re disappointed in yourself. Open up the notebook.