1. Mom’s dementia — a turn for the worse, now including physical symptoms.
2. Deadlines in my day-job.
3. Notification that I was chosen as a debut author for The Debutante Ball group blog, so learning curve and tasks and a million emails to coordinate with my four fellow debs to re-launch the site.
4. Reading page proofs and tons of other novel tasks related to KILMOON.
5. New website. Who knew it could take so long and be so much work?
The worst part is, I add to my stress. The more crazed I am, the more of a perfectionist I become too. There must be a mental disorder related to that. I simply call it going into manic mode. For example, I didn’t just read the page proofs once. I read them twice. TWICE. And the website HAD. TO. BE. up by September 1st, The Debutante Ball re-launch day, so visitors could click a link to read all about me.
Yeah, so I was a bit nuts, and in the midst of it all, ants appeared in my kitchen. I barely noticed them at first. A mere trickle. So what? They were hauling away the dog and cat food bits stuck to the floor near the food bowls. More power to them. I thanked them as I rushed in and out of the kitchen, grabbing up forks for my deli dinners.
A bizarro thing then occurred: I began to observe the ants. I marveled at their communal efforts, cooperation, and brute strength. Never mind that they didn’t belong in my kitchen, I entered into nature-observer mode. Those quiet moments watching the ants saved me from a complete meltdown, I’m sure of it. Everything else slipped out of my mind as I stood amazed while a gang of ants pulled a piece of dog kibble from one end while another gang pushed from the other end. When a piece was too big to fit into the crack between the light switch face plate and the wall, a bunch more would gather round to break it up into smaller pieces.
After awhile, the trickle of ants became a stream, and they expanded their territory away from the food bowls and into the food cabinets. I couldn’t help but think about “ants in your pants,” only in my case it was “ants in your brain.” Twitchy. But still, I’d deal with them later.
At one point, I even experimented. Before bed, I placed a mound of wet dog food on the counter. From an ant’s perspective, it was the Mt. Everest of food supplies. By then, I thought of myself as a fickle and random god. Sometimes benevolent, sometimes cruel as I sponged up bunches of them when they ventured too close to the sink. I apologized to them, so at least I was a god with a conscience.
Back to the experiment: Would the Mt. Everest of dog food still be there in the morning? No, it was not. Wiped cleaned as if it had never been.
Fascinating! <<rush out of the kitchen again>>
By the first week in September, The Debutante Ball was up and running, and we debs began to settle into the site routines. I’d resolved Mom’s home health care needs. My new website looked great. And, it looked like I was indeed going to have advanced review copies of KILMOON in time for the Bouchercon convention. Somehow the pieces had come together in the most amazing way.
And most amazing of all, I stumbled into the kitchen and saw–no ants. I hadn’t cleaned. I hadn’t bought ant killer. They’d just vanished. Not a trace. I swear I’m not making this up. Maybe I manifested the ants out of my chaos and stress. If so, despite their twitchy presence, I had manifested about the best animal mascot ever. Diligent and efficient and cooperative.
Our government could take a few lessons, couldn’t it?