I’ve been having a rough couple of days. There are a lot of things I am supposed to be working on, but somehow I couldn’t get myself to move on any of them. And the longer it goes like that, the worse it gets. Like a hoar frost spreading into every reach of my life – the closet I started cleaning but never got further than emptying out all over the guest room; the cracked window that needs to be replaced but if I do one, shouldn’t I do them all, and really, can I afford that now? And right there at the top of the list, the book proposal I am supposed to be working on, not to mention the book itself.
It goes like this, back and forth, back and forth, in a kind of mental ping-pong, all day. And pretty soon all the projects and ideas I have are stacked like planes over LAX, unable to land because of the fog.
The one thing I finished was an essay that I posted on OS. It was about a friend’s suicide. Not exactly a cheery topic, but I thought it would be a good way to honor him, and an apt true story for OS.
A few people found it right after I posted it (thank you!). I thought about sending emails out alerting people to it, but really, I felt funny about doing that, especially because of the topic. (Hurry up and read this sad story!) Then it became an Editor’s Pick (thank you!). But it didn’t make the cover, and no one else found it, and soon I watched it slip away faster than a stick on an outgoing tide.
I started wondering if it had been worth my time to write, or to post. Soon I was on the verge of having a full blown Sally Fields moment in reverse (They don’t like me! They really don’t!). I wondered if I was investing a tad too much emotional energy into OS.
I continued to watch the stories that had made the cover on my day go higher and higher in the ratings and most read column, like one of those strength testers at a county fair. They were excellent pieces, don’t get me wrong, but harumph, my piece was as good as that, wasn’t it? Harumph, my last Editor’s Pick didn’t make the cover either. Harumph, it must be personal. Harumph, the last thing I had that made the cover was a picture of my cat, which is fine, I’m not sneezing at it, but, well, what’s the point of writing, I might as well just take pictures of the cats.
And then I realized I was obsessing over getting on the cover, which reminded me, of course, of Freaky. And then I fully realized the evil genius of the troll: you just *can’t* take this too seriously when you are competing with a 6-inch doll.
Meanwhile, I had commented in one of Stella’s posts about why we should care about Sarah Palin’s wardrobe. In her reply, she called me Sandra, which is not my name, but not a big deal, really. I wasn’t sure if it was because she thought I was Sandra, or because my last name is Sandstrom, or what. I made a small attempt to clear it up but by then the thread was long and the party was moving on.
I can almost always shake a dark mood by getting some exercise. So I took a long walk at Lincoln Park, a 3-mile stretch of forest and beach that’s just a few minutes from my house. The sun slipped like a gold coin behind the blue Olympics, lighting up the trees in their full autumn regalia, and two eagles flew overhead. I was starting to feel better.
Later I logged on to OS again and came across this great post by Cam about the new album by AC/DC. I’m not much of a fan (don’t hate me) but Cam’s enthusiasm for the band and the new album is irresistible. Such is his power of persuasion that for the first time in my life I watched a whole video of the guy with the shorts, leading the crowd into rock and roll ecstasy at a concert in 1978. I watched it all the way to the rip-roaring end, and I realized that Cam feels about Angus the way I feel about Bruce.
So I posted a link to a video of Bruce in 1978, and remembered that Thunder Road always had the power to rouse me from a malaise: “you can hide neath the covers and study your pain, make crosses of your lovers, throw roses in the rain, waste your summer prayin' in vain for a savior to rise from these streets…” I was feeling much, much better.
In the same thread, Stellaa had posted a link to, well, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I’m warning you, it involves Austrian men wearing shorts, and it could give a person nightmares.
I said as much, and in her reply, Stellaa called me by the wrong name again. This time, since the Real Sandra had also commented in the same thread, I thought we should clear it up. I’m Donna! I piped up, with an exclamation point, even.
Stellaa immediately apologized. In fact, she said she was going to put her head in a meat grinder. As an apology, she also offered a link to this. And that, my friends, is when my night, my day, my week, and maybe my life changed.
I started laughing the second the video started, and laughed harder and harder as it went on. You know that scene in Mary Poppins when they have the tea party in mid-air and they are laughing so hard they are almost crying? Like that. It was a soul-clearing, fog-cleansing, primal force that sprung up from my belly and melted the frost like a blow torch.
When I got up from the table, I felt a little buzzed, like I could float. I started doing the dishes, and threw out the old flowers drooping in their vase. And I thought about Norman Cousins, the writer who recovered from a serious illness with a self-prescribed program that included watching Marx brothers movies.
"I made the joyous discovery that ten minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me at least two hours of pain-free sleep," he reported. "When the pain-killing effect of the laughter wore off, we would switch on the motion picture projector again and not infrequently, it would lead to another pain-free interval."
Aha. Exactly what I needed. So thank you Stellaa, thank you Cam, thank you Freaky, thank you OS. The Finsk Disco will be on my medicine shelf for a long, long time. Today feels like a new day. Now I’m going to get started on the closet.