I Could Really Go For an Overpriced Sissy Drink About Now

Over the past several months I’ve been toting my laptop out to the Borders and working there. It’s been a big win for me, productivity-wise. I don’t get distracted by the chores that need doing around the house. There’s no refrigerator to poke around in. And I’m about 100% less likely to curl up in a blanket, settle my computer in my lap, and drop off to sleep.

Problem is, the productivity bump is starting to taper off. Partly it’s that the novelty of the bookstore has worn off; partly it’s that I’ve discovered I can leech free wifi off the Applebee’s next door. I suppose I could consider moving down the street to the Barnes & Noble, where there’s no free wifi. But that would mean giving up Borders’ sweet hot chocolate with a ridiculous amount of crap on top for B & N’s slightly bitter hot chocolate with next to nothing on top. Bummer.

It would also mean giving up the relationships I’ve been cultivating with the Borders staff. These relationships aren’t exactly a linchpin of my social network, but they allow me to engage in some brief small talk when I hit a lull in my work, and to “rent” my cafĂ© space on the cheap: I only buy drinks when I’m thirsty, instead of feeling obligated to pay into the coffers each time I visit.

I cultivated these relationships quite deliberately, mostly just by being nice, and by over-ordering slightly in the initial weeks, especially when the manager was in. After a few days, everybody working there knew my name, and now I think I’ve basically become their mascot, sort of a writer-in-residence. They ask me about the book, wish me luck, and when I come back after a few days’ absence, they tell me anecdotes about what I missed. I think I can count on being a "Staff Pick" if any of these people are still working there when my book comes out. And they’re nice guys; they often brighten my day.

Long story short, I’d hate to give all that up. So, the question is, do I have it in me to refrain from logging on to the web? Or is this another distraction I need to eliminate in my life, the same way I eliminated my household distractions by heading out to Borders in the first place?

OMG I'm 31!

I recently had a birthday and went around telling everybody it was my 30th. Apparently I've hit early senility, because it was actually my 31st. Mark was kind enough to keep it a secret from me until I figured it out for myself, during the course of a conversation that went a little something like this:

"Honey, can you believe we've been married nearly six years? It seems like it was just yesterday. Wasn't it romantic? I was so happy and in love, just twenty-fi-... wait a minute."

I can't keep track of the passing years, but I can do basic math. Much to my sorrow. I thought I had made my peace with being 30, but losing a whole year right off the top like that really stings.

And of course it brings up the question of whether my life measures up to this new, adjusted number. It doesn't help that I'd already been feeling a touch... behind. At least in the career department.

I find myself looking at successful writers and saying, "Ok, sure, she's a huge success. But she's 38. I've got 8 (oops, 7!) years on her. I can still beat her!" And other such nonsense that shouldn't really mean a thing to me -- and yet somehow, in one insecure little part of my heart, does.

Because I've been responding to "What do you do?" with "I'm working on a novel" for a long time. And it sounds good and people act impressed, but there's a part of me that wonders "For how much longer?" How long can you really be "working on a novel" before you have to just go ahead and admit that you're a failure?

Never mind that it's the second novel, that I shelved the first one for good reasons, and that this one is immeasurably better. Never mind that it says things I've been trying to say for a long time. It ain't done, and it ain't published, and so in a very real way I don't have a career -- not yet.

And I'm 31. And it scares me a little.