How to Tell If You’re Lazy

I grew up lazy, and I’ve stayed lazy. I’ve always liked to eat ice cream and cake, and the line of least resistance for me has always been close to the border of sleep. When I was nine or ten, I kept an enormous mound of comic books on the floor of my bedroom, and my favorite thing was to burrow into my mound, find myself a comfortable position there, and in this wonderful swamp, which was also readable, I would reach a state that fell exactly midway between reading and napping.
Wallace Shawn, “Myself and How I Got Into the Theatre”

This post title and quote have been sitting in my drafts folder for a few weeks. I even drew a mind-map on 9″x12″ newsprint in an attempt to figure out what to say. “Lazy” is in a circle in the middle. There are other Wallace Shawn quotes, questions, phrases, reminders of anecdotes, solid lines and dotted lines all over the page to connect them.

It’s all an artifact of a couple of days when everything I thought of seemed to connect to everything else. If it had all come together, wow, what a great essay that would be. But it didn’t, and now I’m pretty sure the moment has passed. (Maybe because…I’m lazy?)

So I thought I’d just post it now, because I love the quote, and because I’m still wandering around in the fog, trying to think about discipline, willpower, schedules, rebellion, whining, stress, fatigue, time, failure, change, and laziness. And then trying not to think about them, because none of it seems very useful. I guess I’ve had a week of mostly failure. Writing time comes, and I sit there doing whatever I was doing. The hour for writing shrinks to the half hour, then is gone like the last bits of moisture from a cast-iron pan when I dry it on the stove. I just want time to stop. I have difficulty wiping my mind clean and focusing. I resent the things that steal my time, but considering they’re things like “earning a living” and “procuring food,” who do I think I am that it should all be handed to me? And when I have a chunk of time to write, I am not writing anyway!

You see how it goes, round and round. “Fighting tofu,” Writing Down the Bones calls it. (Hmm, in 1986 Natalie Goldberg felt it necessary to explain that “tofu is cheese made out of soybeans.”) I feel worn out with making myself do stuff, and with fretting. I feel like that horse in Glen Balch’s Midnight Colt that’s too high-strung to race. (Hee– the remedy for that was making him walk and walk and walk around an Idaho ranch all day, never allowed to run. He wore out three halter ropes with all his fidgets and fussing, then became a solid racehorse and won it all! Woo hoo, sign me up! Oh.)

Next week I am going to nail 12 hours of writing. I may not reach my ultimate goal of 21 hours/week until after next month’s 50-mile race. Because oh boy am I behind on that too. On Saturday I pulled on my running clothes in slow motion…sat on the couch and did nothing…filled my water bottle…sat…couldn’t force myself out the door until noon. I think I felt defeated already, and didn’t want to go through the pain and make it real. But then I did 20 miles with no knee trouble. Go figure. Now if I can just do some hill work in the next couple of weeks…

After a long stretch of kidlit and YA, it was jarring to open China Mieville’s The City & the City (the last “M” book in my alphabet project!) and start in on a murder-mystery opening much like The Black Dahlia, with a murdered woman’s body providing everyone’s investigative fodder. Not sure how I feel about that genre convention. Still, I liked some of his descriptions of police work:

Corwi did not try to disguise her police clothes because that way those who saw us, who might otherwise think we were there to entrap them, would know that was not our intent; and the fact that we were not in a bruise, as we called the black-and-blue police cars, told them that neither were we there to harass them. Intricate contracts!

And, more simply, of the lab at the station, “There were notice boards on the walls, from each of which grew thickets of papers.” Ah yes.