by Larkin Vonalt


I just can’t do it, not tonight. I give up. Consider this my unconditional surrender. I finished yesterday’s piece at six in the morning, after writing through the night. By then my son and husband were up and I thought I could clear the hurdle that is the oppressive desire for sleep, and I stayed up. Until 9:30 anyway and then I fell down in my bed, with my shoes still on for God’s sake, and slept until two in the afternoon. It wasn’t enough, and by the then half the damn day was gone anyway. More than half.

This madness has gone three weeks straight. Last night wasn’t the hardest. Tonight isn’t even the hardest, but this is the night when I am the most fed up with myself. I have managed to write everyday, but I have failed (spectacularly, I might add) at putting the writing first. With all due respect to Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass, this is life out of balance. The writing is supposed to come first. I don’t know how to put it first. By the time I get up in the afternoon, I don’t even want to see the keyboard. I am tired of my own opinions, I am sick of the sound of my voice.

Everything aches. Even though I have a wonderful Aeron chair, one of the best inventions known to anyone who has to sit at a desk for hours– I tend to lean forward on my elbows, shoulders folded like an accordion. One night I got out of the chair, poured myself a glass of Maker’s Mark, turned up the music (Seal’s covers of great soul songs) and stood in the doorway, listening, humming, singing a snatch of this song or that one, until it was four in the morning and I really had to write something. I’m not sure that’s building a work ethic.

Today, after Christmas shopping with my mother, and finally addressing the issue of 500 lights on the naked ten foot tree in the living room only to find the lights had been rolled backwards onto the reel, so the plug at the very end was the female version– so the tree’s been undressed; and after listening to my son talk about his final exam in algebra, and after talking to my aunt and my father’s widow about my decision to not go to the extended family Christmas party on Friday, after the taking of toast and tea (thank you T.S.E.) do I have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? I do not.

I started at it. A few weeks ago I found a tiny pink bathroom scale, about the size of a matchbook. Guess who it belongs to? Barbie, of course! Of all the weirdness surrounding Mattel’s iconic doll, this was the thing that struck me as the most sinister. The weight is perpetually stuck at 110, which is about 35 pounds underweight for a living doll of Barbie’s proportions. I could just picture some little girl saying “Oooh, Barbie, those pants make you look fat! No Christmas cookies for you, you little sow.”  Say what you will about Barbie, she does not need to be on a diet. I sketched out the draft, and checked out a few other columns about the nefariousness of Barbie’s “weight problem” and watched a video for the first Barbie commercial in 1959. But I just don’t have it in me. I have reached for the reserves, and dear reader, those are empty.

There’s a little list pinned to the bulletin board next to the desk, with prompts for 17 more stories. There are only 9 days left to go in 30 Days Notice— so they’re not all going to make it. Some of these stories really do deserve to be told, but by the time I get to the writing, after all the day-to-day nonsense that populates my life (and yours too, and his, and hers, and theirs) after all that, I don’t have what it takes to do those topics justice. So I push them around on the plate and feel discouraged. I am so damn tired.

So I am going to go upstairs, unbuckle my shoes, pull off my clothes and crawl into bed next to my husband and go to sleep. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. I’m sorry.