Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Responsibility, Gravity, and Other Pesky Ailments of Adulthood

I'm on my way to wasting today. I could feel it coming on yesterday when I spent all day dawdling, sitting sideways in random chairs, welcoming any distraction, before I finally finished the little bit of real work that had to be done. When the work was finally done, I packed my family in the car and drove to a park. I watched Responsibility in the rearview mirror, rushing out to chase us, waving its arms and yelling something about the chicken in the fridge and the plans to clean the kitchen floor. I pretended to not see.

We ate cheap takeout and let the boys ride their bikes and scooters around on a paved path, while Ryan and I sat on a bench and sipped soda. He said parks sometimes make him sad, like when he sees grubby, wandering kids who have nothing else but the neighborhood park for entertainment. I meant to ask him for further explanation, but we got interrupted by our kids who had completed an entire loop around the park and wanted our accolades.

Later at home, after leaving the park and getting an ice cream cone, I laid on the family room carpet and watched one of my recorded shows. I could feel a pull to get up, to clean the kitchen floor, to do something effective, but that pull was no match for the gravity that was holding me softly against the carpet. "I'm sorry, Responsibility," I said, "Gravity got me."

I finally got up and slogged my way through bedtime, refusing to read a chapter to Max out of his favorite book. I said I was too tired; it was too late (it wasn't). I was going to explain to him how Gravity was pushing me around and Responsibility was getting on my nerves, but I figured it would only confuse him. Kids are immune to Gravity and Responsibility.

This morning Responsibility was waiting for me at my bedside, arms folded tight, toe tapping anxiously, throat clearing and eyes glancing at a ticking wristwatch. It submitted a request for breakfast, packed lunch, homework, two recipes, an hour of exercise, and writing time with that pesky unfinished novel. I looked over the request, overwhelmed and annoyed. I stamped "REQUEST DENIED" all over it and gave it a flippant toss as I walked away. Responsibility is wound so tight, I could feel it seething as I secretly made breakfast behind its back and shoved lunch money in Christian's pocket.

I hope Responsibility hasn't noticed, but I cleaned the kitchen, produced a recipe, and even exercised--but only for a half hour. Hah! But that's it. I'm not budging another inch. I'm not going to coordinate homework, and I'm certainly not going to be forced to work on my withering, neglected novel. YOU CAN'T MAKE ME! I can waste today if I want!

I can, can't I?

Responsibility is in the other room now, scribbling furiously on a giant legal pad, writing me a reprimand. No doubt it will include all the regular arguments: the sense of accomplishment I'm missing out on, the obligation to myself and my family, the doubling of work for tomorrow, the obvious reminder that every book is written one word at a time. I've heard it all before. I turn up the stereo, drowning out the sound of the methodical T-crossing and I-dotting going on in the other room. I should get on with my wasted day, but I'm all thrown off now.

Responsibility is so damn smug.

17 comments:

Kelli said...

Wow. Now I know why Responsibility was so pushy with me this morning. She has already faced a lot of rejection today! Good luck with tomorrow.

Soul-Fusion said...

LOVED this! Beautifully written. I am in desperate need of blowing off Responsibility- he has really been pushing me hard lately with that legal pad and that damn stop watch.

Leslie said...

Oh my! We are living parallel lives. Only, I've neglected Responsibility for so long now that mostly it just waits for a glance from me, at which point it feebly lifts the legal pad to show me all the things it knows I'm never going to do.

Becky said...

Responsibility can stuff it! I would NEVER say that to it's face- but it felt good to say it here on your blog. I loved this post!

The Coolest Allen Family said...

Responsibility and I have been fighting for years. I like to think I am winning, but really, it is a hollow win.

Christy said...

Loved this post, it was amazing! I need a "request denied" stamp too rushed to me for tomorrow.

Artax said...

This is great writing. Responsibility totally acts that way at my house, too.

Kami said...

Responsibility-shresponsibility...I need the request denied stamp!

That sounds about the same as my day today...driving around from tire store to tire store only to not get any new tires. Productive, eh! ;)

Great Writing, btw.

Donna said...

Oh I hope you don't let that book wither away-- you are such a great writer, and this post is proof.

But do feel free to tell Responsibility to shove it every once in a while. :)

tiburon said...

I heart you and I heart your writing. Responsibility is a smug bast@rd. He is right up there with neglect and guilt.

Annie said...

You should get pregnant. Responsibility's got nothing on the "but I'm pregnant so it's okay" excuse.

MiaKatia said...

Responsibility is quite often frustrated with me. When I am fully satisfied with a job well done, she usually wants me to do one more thing. And that one more thing usually turns into just one more and one more and one more. I am fully comfortable wielding my "Request Denied" stamp, and depending on who you ask I should either use it way more or way less often. Beautiful piece. I hope you enjoyed your day of less, because there really are no days off!

Ann said...

You're just a terrific writer.

alex dumas said...

I hate that guy. Way to tell him.

Omgirl said...

You are brilliant.

(I've heard of a good hit-man you can call if you want to take Responsiblity out permanantly. His name is Mr.Valium)

Miranda said...

I don't know how many ways I can tell you how much I love your writing. It is incredible. I want to print this post and keep it forever.

Mindi said...

tiffany--you are still SO my favorite writer.

sometimes you amaze me with your cleverest of descriptions or the way you put a combination of words together--very few writers know how to do that in just the right way, without too much snark.

i'm still here! still reading! still digging you!

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