When I returned home from work on Monday, I was greeted by a strange, chemical smell. Full disclosure: The Smith residence has a cleaning lady. We need all the help we can get in this place. If the place ever smells of pet, Imma gonna have to burn it down. So a cleaning lady is a more sensible alternative. Anyway. The smell was not the cleaning ladies signature scent of Fabuloso. It was a smell that overpowered the Fabuloso and was a chemical scent I didn’t recognize. I slowly crept through the house trying to identify the smell. The bench had been pulled away from a wall in the living room that we affectionately refer to as “the lounge” and there was a coating of dust on everything.
I texted Andrea: “Did you let the floor guys in this morning?” thinking it odd she hadn’t mentioned that.
“Well. They were here.” I reply.
Turns out that I was to have left our door unlocked for the floor guys who may show on Thursday, Friday or Monday. Don’t these people realize that I live with Sally Safety?! Don’t the cleaning ladies realize I live with Sally Safety? I’m gonna go with a hard no on that since the cleaning ladies let them in. Anyway. Hooray for the floor people showing up to finish the stairs and floor at the top of the steps in the hallway! These floors needed to be redone after we ripped carpet off of them this summer. The work meant that we had to camp out in the first floor guest room while the floors dried. Which turned Wednesday into a scavenger hunt for pants from the mountain of clean laundry in the basement. I couldn’t find my black pants and as I stood there, frustration fueled by my missing debit card as well, I wailed, “I’m calling out sick today! Only I can’t because I have a shit load to do!” Being a grown up is overrated. Turns out I was coming down with a cold – instead of a mental breakdown. But the symptoms can be interchangeable. Andrea found my debit card and I found pants and went to work, narrowly sidestepping those crises. Then I came down with a cold. You’ve likely heard of the dreaded “man flu”. This term has actually been included in the Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries. Oxford defines it as ‘a cold or similar minor ailment as experienced by a man who is regarded as exaggerating the severity of the symptoms.’” So I don’t have the man flu because I am NOT exaggerating. I’m bone sneeze away from potential extinction. In an effort to save the human race, or at least my office, from extinction, I was sent home from work yesterday. I would have hugged the person but...germs. My mom would not classify my symptoms as man flu. She would say I was being dramatic.
In Provincetown, MA, there is a “Fine Arts Work Center” that is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “encouraging the growth and development of emerging visual artists and writers and to restoring the year-round vitality of the historic art colony of Provincetown.” The Work Center is well known for its 7-month residency program. I like to think that the program is devoted to starving artists because who has 7-months to devote to a craft full-time? Even with the grants that the program gives out. Because I like to pretend I could drop my life for 7-months and hang out in P-town, I sometimes surf over to their website. That is where I learned that they also have an online program for schlubs like me. I signed up for a “Writing the Personal Essay” course taught by Ann Hood. If you don’t know who that is, she’s a real live author who has written fourteen novels, four memoirs, a short story collection, a ten book series for middle readers and one young adult novel. Months passed and I never heard another thing about this class and I made a mental note to look to see if I’d been charged for it because it was starting sometime close to now. Then I got an email that the class starts on Monday. THEN! Ann Hood herself posted on the forum we are using to tell us how this is going to go and it’s going to go something like this… On Mondays, Ann will post links to essays for us to read and we will post responses to those essays by noon on Wednesday. On Thursday Ann will post a writing assignment, which will be based thematically on that weeks readings. We will post our essays by midnight on Sunday. The secret to writing anything is pretending that no one will read it. But in this class, people WILL read it and one of those people is A REAL, PUBLISHED AUTHOR. National Mental Health Day and National Coming Out Day were back to back this week. I don’t really recall National Mental Health Day from years past but I’m glad it’s a thing in the same way that National Coming Out Day is a thing. I hope these “days” will raise awareness and reduce the stigmas surrounding mental illness or being gay. I think either of these could potentially be easy to conceal. What good does that do anyone? I strive to be authentic at work and to tuck in my crazy. It’s a delicate balance because we’re human and crazy comes with the territory. Even so, I suspect it seeps out if someone looks closely enough and sees you for the vulnerable, perfectly imperfect human you are.