Thursday, March 13, 2008

I never promised you a rose garden.

Listen, I told you I was an undisciplined writer; I told you the very first day. I only write when I need to spew, and unfortunately, not always then. I probably would have been happier to have written a while ago. But maybe it's better I write today. Today is a fascinating day.

But let's talk about before today first. So, geez, what was it, two weeks ago? I inadvertently had a seven course dinner party for 12 people. That's not as horrifying as it sounds; I just had to provide the house. I was sort of a last minute venue, but here I have no danged dining room table and they were having to rent a table anyway, so why not my place? I needed an excuse to clean it and I was excited for the company of the chef and his girlfriend and eventually the guests. I took several days to clean the place (many of which were spent watching TV and thinking about cleaning it). Then came the Saturday afternoon of said chef and girlfriend preparing the meal (he'd actually been preparing it since Monday). Clearly this man is a nut. But a delightful talented one. 84 plates of food served; nice lunatic to be. The guests weren't my invitees, but I like them all nonetheless. And we had assignments of wine to bring for each course. May I mention each course, by the way?

Shallot Pork Rilletes, Dijon Parsley Butter

French Onion Soup, Comte and Thyme Crust

Sautéed Skate Wing with Nicoise Tapenade, Fennel Onion Confit

Ruby Grapefruit and Tarragon Sorbet

Chestnut and Mascarpone Agnolottii, Celery Root Truffle Purée

Herb Crusted, Frenched Rack of Lamb, Cassoulet of Winter Beans and Rosemary

Chocolate Terrine, Pistachio Creme Anglaise

Again, nice madman to be. But oh, that food . . .

Needless to say, I slept in on Sunday. Couldn't face the kitchen. My sister and b-in-l came over that night to take home their chairs and wash their glasses and take them home. That helped start the ball rolling. The next day the chef came and took home all his many dishes and pots and pans. Took them home dirty! Because it made more sense to do that and put them in his dishwasher then washing all that crap by hand at my place, lord knows. So I could have really gotten down to brass tacks that night. But I didn't want to. Nor did I want to on Tuesday. And herein lies a message about procrastinating. On Wednesday I sprained my ankle. Kinda badly. I mean, not too badly. Enough to fuck me up for a week but not much more.

Until this afternoon, a week and a day since spraining my ankle and two and a half weeks since the kitchen was destroyed, I've lived with a filthy room that smelled of lamb. But two things happened today that were fully motivating. One, my ankle is healed enough that I can stand on it for prolonged periods of time (long enough to clean said kitchen and wash all the dishes that have piled up in a week). And two, I had an epiphany at the shrink.

Now I have to work hard to come up with anything worthwhile for the shrink; we did all the juicy stuff years ago. These days we do what I believe they call growth therapy. I go every three weeks. We gab. He schedules my appointment at lunchtime so I can partake in the spread with which the drug companies shower the doctors (the drug companies rule the world, by the way, and we should be afraid of them. We really need to reform how our healthcare dollars are spent, man. And we need universal healthcare, but I digress. I'm perfectly happy to eat Pfizer's sushi.). I'm still learning how human beings work and how they communicate. It's fascinating. I learn new stuff about people and the world all the time.

So now and again over the years I've mentioned to the shrink my dislike of my abject laziness and procrastination and occasional excessive napping, etc., etc.. He never really understands it because he feels I'm far from lazy. But I must have said something today that made a light go off over his head. "You have a television addiction," he says. "Boy howdy," I say. "You couldn't have mentioned this 10 years ago?" He tells me he clearly thought too highly of me for it to occur to him. But you read and you paint and you this and you that, he says. Yeah, I say, but there are still a million hours in the day and I do most everything with the TV on in the background. And I turn into a couch potato and I don't do the things I want to do and the things I have to do. He had no idea I used the TV as I do.

Dude, I've lived alone for a hundred years. I like noise. I turn on the TV. I try to pick something engaging enough, but not so engaging that I'll sit down and watch it. But I do often sit down and watch it. And I'll feel compelled to do something with that time. Play Scrabulous. Floss. Knit. Busy work for my hands. But it still makes me feel crappy and unproductive.

The shrink mentions how TV these days is a babysitter, and I'm like, these days? (He didn't even have a TV until he was 16.) I'm like, dude (I recount stories this way. I most assuredly didn't call him dude. Come to think of it, though, I certainly have done), I'd come home from school, make myself something to eat and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening watching TV. Actively not doing my homework. I have distinct memories of watching Lost in Space reruns thinking, man this is boring, but there's nothing else on. God forbid I should actually do something else. True, I also read voraciously and talked on the phone and must have done some homework and hung out with friends and the like.

My shrink points out that there is a difference between watching a program and watching TV. He tells me that TV addiction's a real thing and it sucks the life out of you and makes you lazy and tired and unmotivated and miserable. He was preaching to the choir, boy-o.

I accomplish all sorts of stuff on the weekends. And in the morning. Because at those times I'm listening to NPR! I'm the most productive person ever! I will happily get up at 6:00 and listen to Morning Edition Saturday until it stops at 10:00, even though the show repeats! But man, if I turn the TV on, party's over. It's not that I have too much time in the day (ever heard anybody complain about that before?), it's that I've lost the will to fill it with engaging things. I haven't lost the engaging tasks - they're all there - I just lost the forward motion to do them. I'd be full of energy in the car on the long way home from auditioning at my agent's office (where most voiceover auditions are done), laying out my plans and schemes, the mouse beside me furiously scribbling his to-do list. Then I get home, turn on the TV and quickly everything gang aft a-gley.

But today, with my new found knowledge? I stopped by the library after the shrink. Got a massive pile of audiobooks, as is my wont. Came home. Didn't turn on the TV. Put an Agatha Christie novel on. Cleaned the hell out of the kitchen, occasionally breaking into that task to play fetch with my Wiener Dog. Called my sister. Read. Wrote this. True, in my kitchen cleaning zeal I completely spaced an audition, something I have nightmares about actually doing. This is only the second time it's happened in 12 years, so I'm not too horrible a person.

I'm a fool of energy, I love life, love you, love the lack of lamb smell. I may watch a soupçon of stuff I've Tivo'd before I go to bed. But then I'll be watching TV as I like to and deserve to watch it, as a kicking back at the end of a full day. I'll be watching specific programs in which I have an interest. And the nice thing about this addiction is it's easy to cure. I just don't turn on the TV, which, in turn, means I don't sit down and never get up again.

And why, you may ask, in those eight days of elevating and icing I couldn't have posted a blog? Dude, I was watching TV.

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