By Lisa Batten Kunkleman
Do you ever have one of those days when you finally get the free time and quiet you’ve been craving, only to find you spend so much time deciding what to do first, that nothing gets done? That’s me. Today, I’m in my mother’s lake house, looking out at the glassy still water, laptop on my outstretched legs, ready to write something fabulous. But what?
This dilemma is not new. Last month, I wrote a piece about the same situation. Having free time to write and not knowing what to do with it. Since I never got around to sharing the original piece from last month, perhaps it’s a good idea to do so now. The draft that never got posted went something like this.
“I lost far too many hours of my life today. Hours I will never get back. With the house to myself, I decide to act like I did in college after each major test and reward myself by doing nothing. Nothing constructive, that is. I used to lounge around in my apartment on the brown plaid sofa or orange shag carpet and watch MTV music videos for hours at a time. Starting in 1981, MTV was the newest TV phenomenon. Some of my first video binge watching included REO Speedwagon’s Keep on Loving You, Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight, and Stevie Nicks’ Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around. Man, that was good music.
Today, in this modern, technological age, with plenty of DVR’d shows and Netflix available at a moment’s notice, I choose to watch my favorite show, This Is Us. Not only do I watch a couple of episodes, I stay up until two a.m. watching all of them. Since I am behind the rest of the world in my TV watching and don’t want to hear a spoiler about what’s going to happen, it’s actually kind of important that I catch up. How’s that for rationalizing laziness.
Here’s an analogy, which exhibits a bit more of my expert rationalization skills. It’s sort of like having a multi layer chocolate cake in the house. Some people can look at such a marvel of baking, have a small piece and feel satisfied. Other people, like me, decide it’s best to get that nasty troublemaker, Tim Tation, out of the house. It’s best to go ahead and eat the rest of the cake so Tim Tation isn’t hanging around causing trouble.
That’s what I do with this TV series. I totally give in to Tim Tation. I attempt to ignore other voices like Shoulda Ben, but with little luck. Shoulda Ben stands on my shoulder nagging about phone calls I should make to old friends, and distant relatives. And what about the homebound people that my church tends to? They could probably use a hot meal. But Tim Tation says that can wait til tomorrow because I need to catch up on This is Us. Looking at my options, I agree.
I try to return to watching my third episode from Season One on Netflix, but again, a voice interrupts me. Shoulda Ben destroys my solitude, ranting at me about writing thank you notes, and that drawer-full of Thinking of You cards I could be sending out.
Shoulda Ben starts grumbling at me about cleaning those disgusting corners and baseboards that I would be ashamed even for a cleaning person to see, that is, if I had a cleaning person. Ya’ll know what I mean. I am not the first person who would clean the house before allowing somebody to come clean it for pay.”
Yep, that’s what I wrote a month ago before I gave up and watched Netflix. And here I sit, reading the piece I never posted. Wisha Could is sitting here with me, tossing out ideas I wish I could write about but I can’t decide where to start. Wisha Could says I should stop stressing and finish one thing at a time and post this piece already. Worry later about Shoulda Ben, and spend some time with Ithinka Might for inspiration, as if looking at this lake isn’t inspiration enough. Should I walk out on the pier or not? I think I might. Maybe later, Tim Tation can come back and watch Season Two with me.