Thursday, October 12, 2006

a night out for the old lady...

I broke out on my own tonight after telling B that I couldn't make it one more night without some time that didn't involve babies that won't go to anyone else, children who won't go to bed, evening prep to get Samuel ready for school tomorrow (so that he can be the best, smartest first grader in the history of first graders), or that behemoth pile of laundry at the bottom of the basement stairs.

Since I couldn't find anyone else to go out with me (things are much different these days, I guess. All my friends are so incredibly responsible...), I decided I'd go to the bookstore and just browse and then take myself out for sushi, which is what I always want when I go out to eat.

So, I'm at B&N, browsing and checking out what my favorite writers have come out with lately (since it's been an eternity since I've actually browsed through a bookstore--and no, I'm not counting the kid section), and then I check to see if any of my old professors, friends, and colleagues have published anything (or anything new). And then I see this book written by an old co-worker about a failed relationship with another old co-worker and I can pretty much recognize all of the major characters. I should feel happy for her that she turned this bad breakup into a novel, thus launching her literary career, but I don't because I'm insanely jealous. I find myself thinking, 'What have I been doing with my life? Why haven't I been writing?' I'm just as good a writer as this girl, but I did not write a novel. I don't even write much these days, and I've been putting together different variations of the same short story for about two years. Okay, five years. The only piece I've actually finished recently was a poem I wrote in Italy last year that I thought was pretty good, but then I lost it. Seriously. It was in a journal and I lost it. The one piece.

Granted, I have been a bit busy lately with this whole growing a family thing and sleep deprivation has left me partially brain dead. So to make myself feel better, I buy this year's Best American Short Stories of 2006. I take myself to the sushi place, get a beer and some spicy tuna rolls, and start reading the anthology. The first three stories I thumb to are about children. Not about adults raising children, but from the perspective of kids. It's the quintessential growing up story from the perspective of every writer ever. The first two were good pieces--I liked them. But, I feel like I've been reading these over and over. I want to read about adults. I desperately want to read something that's inspiring or enlightening. Maybe it's just the timing since I have so many things going on in my life right now, or maybe it's because I'm still feeling bitter about the bad relationship book, or maybe it's frustration that I just did not find a good book on my one night out, but I'm crabby. Where are all the good books about people with families going about their boring, but meaningful lives?

I finish my beer and my sushi and go home. It's 10 o'clock, but Tali is still up and I hear her little footsteps into the hall as close as she can get without me seeing her, so I go up to say goodnight. She's got the huge volume of The Complete Curious George under her arm and tells me, "Oh Mama, I'm so glad you're here because I want to show you my favorite something about George." And after an evening away, I feel no frustration at all that she's still awake and out of bed, or even that instead of staying in her room, she's been sitting in my bed and "keeping it warm." And it occurs to me that maybe the reason there isn't a best selling novel, or even a memoir about kids staying up too late and their parents not minding after a night out is because maybe it is a bit boring. But then, maybe boring isn't so bad.

And there's still time to write that novel... What a difference a few hours can make.