Linda Hirshman on one shoulder, Momma Zen on the other
My mind has been thoroughly colonized by the Mojo Mom revision process. I find that to hold such a big project in my attention at once, it really has to seep into my brain. The other night I dreamed that my literary agent was trying to recruit me to work for them and I was trying to figure out how to tell my husband that I could realistically commute between Chapel Hill and New York on a daily basis. Most days I wake up thinking about my writing one way or another.
Over the Fourth of July Weekend I had a truly surreal experience. My daughter and I went shopping at our local big box retailer shopping center. It was a descent into retail hell but so we dove in to a few specific things, tying up several loose ends in one trip. Our last stop was at the craft store A. C. Moore. I avoid it as much as possible, because crafty clutter is the last thing we need in our house. They might as well call the store CRAP I DON'T NEED. But we went in because I wanted to get some Crayola Model Magic. This stuff is a tactile delight--it's like a spongy cross between Play-Dough and clay. We're going to a family reunion and I needed something that could entertain an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old together, and take the edge off the tension of a family gathering. It's my favorite stress-buster toy in disguise.
So we found what we needed and got in line to pay. There were about five people ahead of us, and a grand total of one register open in the store. We stood there for a while and were not making any progress. The check-out woman called for help over the loudspeaker about four times, "Linda to the front register....Linda to the front register...." The line grew to over a dozen people and there were in fact two A. C. Moore employees in line behind us, but no one to come up and help check us out. It was truly the nadir of retail hell (with dramatic storm clouds gathering outside ready to break loose into a thunderstorm, by the way). I noticed that the other people in line were all women. Mostly elderly women. Women who looked like they were used to waiting...in doctor's offices...at the bus stop...waiting for something to happen. And they were here at A. C. Moore, waiting to buy something they could work on to pass the time while they were waiting somewhere else.
I heard a voice inside my head. It was my inner Linda Hirshman speaking (and believe me, I didn't realize I had an inner Linda Hirshman), like an angry little orthodox feminist cartoon devil sitting on my shoulder. She said, "If making crappy crafts is so great, how come there aren't any MEN in here?" I told her to shut up, reminding her that I didn't even want to be here and had stopped in for one specific thing. This was a little detour--it wasn't supposed to take all day long.
Luckily my inner Momma Zen spoke up, like an angel sitting on the other shoulder. She reminded me to breathe and said, "Relax. Just be here. You're having a fun day with your daughter. Yes, retail hell is exhausting, but who cares if you have to wait five extra minutes? It's no big deal. Don't let it get to you."
I did my best to shake off my sense of hurry and consumer huff about the fact that the store was so poorly run. It wasn't the fault of the woman behind the cash register. A second cash register finally opened....just in time to be no help at all to us, but that's just the way it goes.
So we got out of there with our Model Magic, but there is probably not enough squishy compound in the world to calm my racing mind right now. I just need to harness the energy of this mental cyclone to fuel the book revisions, find time to sit down and write it all out, and then look forward to a calm weekend later in the fall when I can relax...and give both Linda Hirshman and Momma Zen some time off.