Fleas

Lately, I haven’t had much time to write.

Sometimes, it’s like this. My head is a mumble jumble of to do lists, relentless and never-ending. Every day, I fold laundry and empty the dishwasher and every day there is more laundry to fold and a dishwasher full of clean plates, ready to be emptied. Who can write when there’s so much to do? The dog needs to be let outside, there’s a birthday party to plan. Oh crap, I forgot about my dentist appointment tomorrow. Mom, can you find a pair of socks for me? I need help with my homework. Honey, did you put that check in the mail? We’re out of toilet paper.

It’s never ending. In a blog post, Dani Shapiro, one of my favorite writers, nods to an interview with writer William Styron in which he calls such chores the “fleas of life.” Shapiro quotes Styron’s interview with the Paris Review:

“Every writer, since the beginning of time, just like other people, has been afflicted by what a friend of mine calls ‘the fleas of life’ – you know colds, hangovers, bills, sprained ankles, and little nuisances of one sort or another.”

I know about fleas. Real ones. Our cat, last summer, had a terrible bout and we could never quite rid her of them. I switched treatments twice, vacuumed daily, bought her a flea collar. We finally shook the fleas in October; I suspect they’ll be back with full vengeance come summer. 

Back to writing—I’m scribbling away now while waiting in the car rider line to pick my son up from school. Because if my “fleas of life” keep me from writing, then here I am winning the battle, little by little. In a few minutes, my son will walk out to my car with his big book bag bouncing on his small first grade shoulders. He’ll open the door and plop inside and I’ll shut my notebook. He’ll smile and tell me about his day at school while I drive the long stretch of highway home.

My cat’s fleas were non-redeemable little bloodsuckers. The flip side of most of my “fleas” is sustenance.  A long car ride home yields a lovely story from a child. Dirty dishes pile up from a well-enjoyed family meal. A laundry basket full of clothes dirtied on a weekend outside together. Bills to pay for the home that gives us shelter.  I’ll continue to scribble away in my car just as I’m doing now because if these are the “fleas of life” allotted to me, I will take them. And I will write about them.

I'm a lucky girl.