Saturday, January 9, 2021

Squint (Day 9)

 I thought that Saturdays might be a nice day to dedicate my personal writing journey to doing writing exercises, while also acknowledging that I am a creature of one habit, and that habit is to never stick with any habits for too long. 

A creature of non-habit habits? A creature of counter-habits? A creature of a singular habit that is the habit of rejecting habit?

Anyway, I want to take this moment to remind myself and you, if you are reading this, that my year long experiment of doing certain things every day (writing with abandon and hitting publish here, 5 minute abs and meditation) is really totally counter to how I typically go about my life. 

As my husband will you tell, it is a bit infuriating to witness me just doing whatever I want, whenever I want without really explaining it to anyone. 

I change my mind a lot. 

Which brings me to the writing exercises. 

Way back in the 1990s, my husband gave me this amazing box of cards called "The Observation Deck." The idea is you pick a card, you look up the word or phrase on the card in the companion book and then you do the writing exercise. I remember the Christmas he gave it to me--my dad and brother were still alive. We were not married. We had just moved back home from our couple years in Vermont. On Christmas Eve of that year, we were both too excited to sleep. So we grabbed a bottle of what we thought at the time was really good sparkling wine and drank it in bed at midnight. 

The next day, he gave me my Deck and the most fabulous Coach wristlet with tickets to see Wicked on Broadway. (Remember when there was theater? How I miss theater!).

I have no memory of what I gave Mike. But it was surely not as memorable as all this. 

Anyway, today, I sat down to do my exercise and I picked one card: "Conduct an Interview." I was immediately irritated, because while I love conducting interviews, that's my work life. So I shoved it back in with resentment at the bleeding in of work on my weekend. The card was unmemorable and I decided I hated it first sight. So I picked a third and PROMISED myself I'd keep it.


Yeah, it says Squint. 

My first thought was: I hate squinting. It gives me wrinkles and a headache and really I hate squinting.

BUT I have been trying to stick to my commitments this year, no matter how ludicrous or trivial, so I kept it and read about the exercise. I was supposed to Squint and look about at my familiar surroundings and then write about what I see with new perspective. I don't even have to use complete sentences and can just write random squint observations.

I am really, really not looking forward to this. 

So, here I go: 

The first thing I notice when I squint is how annoying it is to squint. I know I've mentioned this before. But it is like a lot of work. And it is really hard to see things differently, isn't it? When we've been looking at things one way all along? Impossible. 

And it is hard for me to hold my squint, it reminds me of when I hold a plank. At first, it is like, I've got it. But then it all goes to shit and I shake and sometimes ridiculous look around the room that is empty, but for me, to see who is watching and if I can just like stop planking. Then I immediately feel like a total failure for even entertaining the idea of cheating and I go back to the plank.

When I squint and look over at my dresser, a dresser which my Dad once bought on a whim because he loved the leather top, but quickly realized the drawers were too tiny for his carefully folded collection of white undershirts, I see the blurred edges of the past weeks--the Dyson Airwrap (Christmas gift from my husband, who really gives the best things, ever), some sewing scissors which I noticed mysteriously and ominously appeared there yesterday (in our house, misplaced scissors always indicate some sort of terrible thing Nicholas did involving something he had to cut his way out of.), the Junior Tylenol from when Chloe sprained her hand on Christmas Eve, my collection of lotions and potions and dry shampoo and eye shadows and serums and brushes and iWatch bands. 

It's like a high maintenance situation I've got going on. 

There is a framed photo of Mike and I in Vegas. A photographer took it as we were going into the Michael Jackson show. When I don't squint, I just see us kissing. When I do squint, I notice how dark my hair was then and how the sequins on my dress pick up the light. 

Oh, how I miss sequined dresses and nights in Vegas. 

Then next to me, when I squint, there is Mike. He came to find out what I was doing. I can always count on him to find me somewhere. (and it must be hard, I am always somewhere different, even when just endlessly in our house). If I unsquint, I see Mike as he is today, handsome as ever and 40-something. But when I squint, I can see him as he's always been since we were 15. Kind, handsome and just edgy enough to be interesting.

And with that. I am totally done with the squinting. 

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