Once upon a time there was a phone that rang constantly, distracting Author from the most important story she had ever written.
It rang so often that Author had seriously considered dropping the phone into the fish tank on more than one occasion, but she thought perhaps phones weren’t very good for fish, and fish probably weren’t very good at taking messages.
It wasn’t that she particularly liked the fish, in fact she regularly thought about feeding them to the chickens, but she worried that would make the chicken eggs taste fishy, and surely someone would complain about fishy eggs (and missing fish), and complaints were the last thing Author needed with all of the other distractions keeping her from her work.
She didn’t particularly like the chickens or their eggs, either, because the chickens liked to eat the vegetables and dig for worms in the garden, requiring Author to come up with new and ingenious ways of keeping chickens from gobbling up all the green onions.
But she had to admit that chickens were far better than guinea pigs, because at least chickens stayed outside where chickens belong, and for some strange reason guinea pigs had to live indoors, which meant regularly dealing with guinea pig waste–not her favorite subject.
Even so, Author definitely liked guinea pigs and chickens far better than the phone that rang constantly.
One day, Author decided to make a list of all the things that distracted her most from her work, to try and put the constantly ringing phone into perspective and determine if there was anything that could be done to resolve her distractions, so that she could get back to the most important story she had ever written.
As it turned out, there were several things that were almost as distracting as the phone, like the tree that had barely survived the previous winter and was dying a slow death right before her eyes, along with countless other things around the house that needed fixing and just wouldn’t be fixed because there wasn’t time or money.
The news was almost as distracting as the phone, as well, often causing anxiety from the worry over foreign conflicts and incurable diseases, or worse yet, causing debates about everything from climate change to equal rights.
But those distractions could all be controlled by simply practicing avoidance and self-control. The phone, which could not be turned off, in case of emergency, was an intrusion from the outside world, demanding at least a cursory glance at the Caller ID before being swiftly ignored, unless it required an answer. And that tiny glance, however brief, and the quickest push of a button a dozen or more times a day had directly caused the loss of countless sentences, driven from Author’s brain with each shrill ring, ring. ring! Surely, the most important story Author had ever written required sentences!
However, as Author made her list, she realized that the phone was not the worst distraction of all.
There were three things in this world that were far more distracting than any phone that ever rang constantly…
…and their names were Plava, Aziz and Rorschach.
When they weren’t sitting in the front window, waiting for the next unassuming postman, car, cat, dog, bird, skunk, or ladybug to wander past, so that they could howl another rousing verse of “Bark! Who Goes There!” a song which provided the two dogs with endless entertainment, Plava and Aziz made certain to keep things interesting by taking turns whining at the back door, coming inside and out, going outside and in, forcing Author up from her seat, away from her computer, at least fourteen times a day.
The instincts of dogs could not be silenced with the quick push of a button. Author knew these dogs were definitely much more distracting than ringing phones.
But far worst of all–
Worse than Plava and Aziz,
Worse than the most terrible news and the endless lists of incomplete tasks, which only grew the more it was avoided,
Worse than guinea pig excrement and garden destroying chickens and fish that didn’t know how to answer constantly ringing telephones–
was that heinous,
Rorschach, with his sweet fuzzy cheeks and his entirely-too-innocent purr, was the biggest distraction. Rorschach, with his swishing fat pouch and the charming way he wound himself around Author’s feet causing her to trip almost every morning before she was quite awake, was the greatest of menaces.
If he was not meowing to be picked up and sat on the counter so he could eat three nibbles of food before jumping down again, wrestling with Plava or chasing Aziz, clawing at furniture to sharpen his interior decorating skills or jumping on the piano to play his favorite horror film tune, “Cat Walks Up Piano, Cat Walks Down Piano”, trying to catch guinea pigs through the bars of their cage, eating houseplants, scratching at the back door hoping that he would be allowed outside to harass the chickens, the birds or the squirrels, or napping in some warm patch of sunshine, then he knew Author was writing, which meant he knew it was time to strike. If Author was writing, Rorschach, with his big green, slightly off-kilter eyes and the curious way he licked his side whenever he was embarrassed for falling off the table unexpectedly, could be found walking back and forth across Author’s keyboard, rubbing his nose against her forehead, demanding attention while she uttered impatient curses. If he knew Author was writing, he could be counted on for attempting to knock Author’s computer from its stand because that was when he just had to know how the stand was engineered even though he figured that out at least twice the day before. If Author was busy trying to write the most important story she had ever written, then Rorschach was surely right there, having an exciting game of catch the typing fingers, which involved the cat hiding behind the computer and quickly reaching around to bat at Author’s hands as many times as possible before she finished typing a sentence–current record, 42!
After taking all of this into consideration, Author decided the phone wasn’t so bad, but she knew exactly what she would do with it the next time it rang, and the fish were going to love it.
4 thoughts on “Distractions: Day in the Life of Author”
When did you guys get chickens? This is a cute column.
Last spring, the mother of a friend of mine had a cancerous brain tumor, and she couldn’t take care of them anymore after surgery and with her treatments. Her biggest concern in giving them away was that they never be eaten, which made adopting them out difficult, but we agreed to take them in, and my friend made a four hour drive with chickens in the back seat just to get them here. There were two reds in the beginning, but Henrietta had an egg stick about two weeks after she arrived, and she died, which was terribly sad. Another friend gave us Simba so that Camilla wouldn’t be lonely.
They are both fairly old and don’t lay well, but we like the fresh eggs when they happen, so I expect we will get two more young ones in the spring.