I’ve never had a life list. I’ve written manifestos for brands, but never for myself. Have you?
1) Pay taxes
2) Get brows mowed
3) Get new Joel Plaskett
4) Take out godforsaken compost. Just take it out. Maggots only lay eggs in your ear if you stay real still.
Last week I saw the PDF of the book. Two things. First: I have an ISBN number. I have an ISBN number? Howdy, Lucifer. Anything I can get for you today? Moosehead Red? Fresh baked granola? Yop? Just let me know. I’m your girl. Second: Inglis, Kate. NOT YET DEAD. IS LIKELY TO BE, SOMEDAY. INSERT FATE <HERE>. WILL UPDATE.
I am Inspector Clouseau.
I tripped one day and my book flew out of my hands and it landed in Penelope’s lap. My nemesis landed in a pool full of jello. After felling a nameless guard with the backside of a vigorously-opened door, I judo-chopped a yappy dog and floated through the sky over Halifax wearing a Hunchback of Notre Dame suit. I landed within ten feet of Nimbus’s offices, but only after my inflatable back exploded. I lost my hat.
Even though I’ve drawn myself as a straight-haired author since childhood (the only occupation for which it is acceptable to be pale and uncurly), making this happen had little to do with me.
It occurred to me that writing something silly was highly speculative, a debatable spend of marital and mothering time. I shrugged. I kept it to myself because I thrive in the pressureless void of low expectations. I had 15,000 words before telling my husband—with my mouth full, behind my hand—that I was writing a book. A three-year spell of insomnia was my groundswell. Getting published was an accident.
If I had the coolest lime-green wall ever—and a dry-erase board mounted onto it, with markers that smelled like watermelon and bubblegum—what would I put on it? I wish I had delicious secret plans, something to whisper, giggling, please don’t make me tell you. I long for ambition’s quiver, for a crush on possibility. I daydream about a burning in the pit of my stomach, a calling, something other than yesterday’s falafel. Seriously. What moments do I want in this life?
I dunno. (In Kate’s head, two hobos sit with legs dangling over the edge of an empty freight car. They stare into empty fields. A single fly buzzes lazily in the space between them. One hobo says to the other, “Where are we going?” The other belches, says nothing.)
Am I content, or lazy? Am I woefully oblivious to how little time I have? Or am just I cynical?
I’d guess like a teeny-tiny woodstove in here, but you already knew that. I’d like a path in the snow to the cabin, and to write in here all year round. I’ve never seen whales except for a dead one washed up on a beach, rolling in the tide. I’ve never seen New York or Paris. I’ve never been fit. I’ve never been on a creative retreat in some exotic locale with other women who like to take pictures or make art or write speculatively. I’ve never experienced an altered state by any means, not counting occasional drunkenness. I’ve never gone scuba-diving. I’ve never managed to make yoga stick.
Yeah, I know. I’m cheating. I’m not telling you what I want. I’m telling you what I’ve never done but stop short of claiming them as aspirations because if I do, then you’ll all know when I sit on my ass and breathe with my mouth open. I’d rather surprise you. Yeah. That’s it. At Eiffel Tower with a whale and a woodstove. Won ultramarathon yesterday. Will eat pot brownies tomorrow.
I see random things fly past my head and perk up and say Hey! Cool. I’d do that. Like Neat! She saw elephants. Or OMG an Indonesian treehouse with a personal chef. Or I wonder if there’s good food in Oprah’s green room. That doesn’t necessarily translate into me raising my hand and saying Me too, please.
I don’t have the balls to want anything else right now. Or no, not so much that. I’m being strangled by a to-do list that includes picking someone else’s fossilized booger off the inside of my favourite sweater. Or I may just be awash in hobos who leave it all to chance.
Do you ever look at your life and see planets aligning—even in small, non-profound ways—and wonder what you’d be capable of if you dedicated yourself to something? What have you willed into reality with sheer sweat? What’s been dropped in your lap? What turns of fate and missed subway transfers changed who you are? What personal goals have been shelved because of parenthood or other intermissions? Will you pick them up again?
What’s on your life list?
I posted this and have been wracked since doing so at the risk of bringing up that pirate thing too much. It's a context right now, the thing that frames everything. So if I did indeed choke you with lollipops, I'm sorry. I'll do my best to limit what might seem like crowing to the book blog. Gaarrgh. This is hard. I think I need those pot brownies after all.