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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

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Promissory Note to Self

I don't know if you remember this time last year when I admitted I'd been writing all this time on a laptop that was missing several letters of the alphabet and punctuation marks, including the first vowel, and the exclamation point. The latter was no biggie; I don't much care for exclamation points. But having to paste in an 'a,' even though I'd gotten pretty fast at it, was probably not the most efficient way to type.

That was two feature articles and one book deal ago. God knows how many blog posts.

Would you believe I am still using that laptop? Like, right now?

Someone caught me using it the other day, and called me out on it.

"It just seems like there's always something more important to spend the money on," I said weakly.

She wasn't having it. In her best school marm voice, she told me I was to go get a new laptop. Not just any laptop, not the one on sale, or the one that isn't exactly what I want, but will do.

"This is your tool," she said. "You go get the one you really want. "

I looked at her uncertainly. She and I have both survived some lean and scary times in pursuit of authenticity and fulfillment. It's been worth it, but there are places within us both that can throb with fear sometimes like an old war wound.

In response to my last post, some of you shared how hard it is to claim a creative profession in the world with conviction. I grew up in a family where a life in the arts was what was expected, and I want to tell you, it's hard for me too. What does it communicate to my fingertips everytime they have to go the long way around for the vowel I need to use most often? What is the message that is tapped out like Morse code, hundreds of times a day, through the nerves of my hands, into my brain? What does it say my work is worth?

I honestly tried to get my new macbook the very next day. I really did. I wrote the check. Twice, in fact,because the clerk at Best Buy messed up the first transaction, and the automated check clearing service decided a second check in the same amount meant someone had stolen my checkbook, and shut the whole thing down. The people at Best Buy shrugged and asked the next customer to step up to the checkout. I swore I wouldn't spend another dime there.

I know I can order one direct from, and I tried that, too. But the electronic red flags hadn't cleared yet, so that transaction didn't go through. I didn't exactly think the words, maybe I'm not supposed to have a working 'a' key, but I kind of let it go after that.

That insane surge of activities that come with the dying days of the school year has put me a couple of chapters behind schedule. I woke up this morning determined to make it up. I had to run a snack to my son's class, get groceries, and take the car into the shop (next book deal, I am asking my agent to negotiate a complete halt to spinning of the world on its axis until "The Work" is completed).

I put the car in the garage, ran into the coffee shop across the street, and pulled out my ibook, the usb keyboard and mouse that is my other, bulkier vowel workaround, and saw that I'd forgotten my power adapter. Did I mention that the battery on this computer will keep about a 30 minute charge, tops?

I can't go on like this. Except, I probably can. My friend is on vacation, so I don't have to fear her catching me working on this old clunker and kicking my ass to kingdom come. So I'm letting you catch me.

Believing in ourselves is really hard, isn't it? Even when it looks like it ought to be easy by now. Sometimes it takes a boost, (or a kick in the ass). So here's the deal: I'm going to Best Buy today, to suck it up, and buy a macbook. The macbook. You leave a comment declaring some action you're taking, or need to take, to telegraph the message to your own brain that your dreams are important. Let's all make some kind of a down payment on them today, however small or large.

Because if it's okay for you to say you're worth it, maybe it's okay for me, too.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have decided to admit my dreams publicly. To talk about them to people I know and complete strangers. Even though it makes me terrified that admitting them will somehow stop them from ever coming true. Or that other people will look down on me if I fall on my face.

Because it's one thing to say in your mind, "Maybe..." without doing anything, but it's quite another to actually declare yourself. At least this is what I'm telling myself.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Amy B. said...

Thanks for that message today. I like Amber's ideas of admitting dreams publicly.

Why don't you just road trip it to Memphis to get one from the Apple store? Any excuse for a shopping-centered road trip...

12:10 PM  
Blogger bluebird of paradise said...

Great idea tombuy it in Memphis!shag the Best Buy...
I'm going to call someone about the flooring, I've put off for over ten years!

12:39 PM  
Blogger Jessica @ A Bushel and a Peck said...

This couldn't have been more timely. Just this very morning, I taught my first ever Itsy Bitsy Yoga (parent/child yoga) class that I got paid to teach. I got my certification in February to teach and I started my own little business in April and I made my very first money today. I am making tiny little steps toward making that my job, rather than my "side job". I can do it. So can you. YAY FOR US!

12:53 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I hope you will write your next post from your new imac and tell us all about it. As for me, I've been putting off updating my resume for a month because it brings up too many scary issues about what I'm doing versus what I want to be doing and how to get there. Today I'm going to take one little step in working on it.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Cid said...

Baby steps for us mothers re-entering the so-called real world. I am going to tell my Other Half that my blog:
a)Exists and b)It is important to me

1:51 PM  
Blogger Wendee said...

What a great prompt!
Rather than say I'm going to work on being an artist or a writer, I'm just going to say that I *am* a writer/artist.

I'm taking off on several long roadtrips this summer to see how my life's Plan B could work, drawing, painting, photographing and writing. I get wistful looks from friends, who wish they could do the same, and so far I've waved it off as something we're able to do because I have the time (being, basically, under-employed. Sigh). I'm going start to take ownership of this, believing that fortune does indeed favor the bold. These are trips to develop another path in life, purposeful and deliberate, time we're putting in to develop our crafts and skills..

I'm also going to stop sauntering to train for run/race walks later in the year, and get that GPS training watch that I've been lusting after for so long, to be much more accurate and aware..

1:56 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

You of all people most definitely need a good tool. Your writing is amazing and you deserve the best to work with.

Don't put it off too long!

7:12 PM  
Blogger Lindsay said...

We kind of did this a month ago when we got a lawyer and started the immigration process to the US...talked about since '06 and said we'd do it when a certain thing happened. We finally realized that certain thing isn't happening for a while, maybe never sooooo just move anyway we said. So we're in the midst of it and it's sort of hellish but it's also really nice to acknowledge we're worthy of living where we desire and then going about getting it. Good luck with the purchase! I remember when you wrote a year ago you had no 'a' and I was like what the hell? You 'best buy' one already...

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just watched Revolutionary Road last night, and now read your post.
Yes, dreams are important. Once a month I want to take off for a day or two and see all the beautiful sites around this area. I am making it a point to head to SF this Sunday.

1:35 PM  
Blogger Sweet Laura said...

In December my laptop turned off and decided she had had enough. She never turned back on again. My husband took me to the store and kept saying "It's not a waste of money if you will USE the MAC" when i kept arguing for a cheap replacement. We ended up getting me a MAC book to match his and on the way home in the car I had a panic attack about having spent that much money when we had a 2 week old baby and were about to move cross-continentally etc. I hyperventilated and my husband was VERY SORRY he for the joke he had made about how we would have great computers and no food.
So, I understand how you feel (always other things to spend the money on other than ourself/computer).
But here's the thing...I am absolutely certain that this lovely, shiny, multi-talented appendage of mine has earned her keep already. Within months I had used it for so many important things, that I can't imagine how I would have survived without it.
And yours is the same, but MORESO since you are a writer!
What I am rambling on about is ...that this decision is like resist for so long and don't want to, but you NEVER regret it afterwards. And it has the potential to make you Sensationally happy in ways you didn't realize you were less than happy to begin with!

3:33 AM  
Blogger HaikuKelly said...

When I'm not writing haiku, I'm working as a travel writer. For the past six months I've been swearing at my camera. It's going goofy, which is not a good thing seeing as how I need it and use it in that line of work!

After reading this, I'm convinced I need to go out and invest in a new one and very very soon. I leave on another press trip next week!

1:36 PM  
Blogger Caron said...

I too, had become accustomed to believing I don't deserve the things I want and often need. I have lived so frugal a lifestyle for the last couple of years, I unintentionally saved up a significant sum. It's been really hard convincing myself that I should spend some of it, but yesterday, I ordered a cool new bike, and bought 4, yes - 4 new bras. It's 3pm, and I haven't tugged on a strap all day - I feel like a queen.
Congrats on a well deserved new computer.

3:19 PM  

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