Ant Conga Line Betrays My Obsession

I emailed my friend in Santa Fe yesterday announcing the news that I finished the first draft of my book project “We Were The California Girls—Seeking the Sun, the Sea, the Spirit.”  It’s important that he know because he suggested the project after rejecting my original manuscript which was a collection of published columns, opines, and essays.  His thoughts and critiques I respect because, well, because he’s been there, done that.  Besides, the story begins when he and I first met in cancer treatment.

He advised, “Give yourself a few days off before you read it. Do something else, like go to Larry Hagman’s auction of Dallas memorabilia, or a picnic on the beach. Forget it for a while. Go back fresh and ready to work for real.”

He’s funny, wise, and golden.

I know he’s right, but I’m obsessing.  I’ve obsessed so much that I’ve been off the blogosphere, and I just learned,  off the tidysphere.

I woke up this morning to battalions of tiny black ants marching in formation through my bedroom, across the stairwell landing and into the kitchen where they feasted on our cat’s feeding debris. I still itch at the vision of the 40-foot-long ant conga line. 

They boogied under a pile of dirty jeans and socks, hustled through several ginormous dust balls, cavorted over a stray shoe, frolicked below a liberated but used fabric softner sheet, kept the conga line grooving around the curtains skirting the floor (and visibly collecting ignored dust), then strutted against the cat’s askew cardboard super scratcher, and finally jitterbugged all over the cat food crumbs.  Eww.

While I hate to spoil a good conga line, this one had kibosh written all over it. Still pj covered,  I grabbed a smelly damp sponge and broke up the dance leaders, took the sponge to rinse off in the bathtub where I discovered that approximately ½-inch of dust and wild hairs (so many that either spouse or I are balding) coated the entire base.  This led me to wonder when I last bathed.  Well, I’ve worn the same baggy sweats for the last three days.  I warned you—writing obsession dominates my brain.

Ants now swimming through our sewer lines, it was time to give Mouser his feline insulin injection.  We do this on the bathroom counter.  I began removing the hairbrush, a half-filled glass of water and a still-damp wash rag from last night, but my dressing table was so heavily cluttered with the other stuff I’ve dumped on it from the cat’s last insulin injection that it led me to wonder when I last groomed myself. Tweezers, face creams, sunscreen and assorted makeup hid like unwanted children under the all the crap I previously pulled off the bathroom counter.  I thought someone stole my makeup mirror.  But a face towel draped over a cleaning rag draped over another face towel secured the mirror from vision.

Spouse brewed coffee.  “Honey, did you move the coffee cups to another location?” he cheerily asked knowing how I frequently remodel my cupboards.


“Well all 12 cups are missing.”

“Check the dishwasher.”

A booming “Gross!” echoed from the kitchen.

“More ants?” I queried.

“No. Either the dishwasher’s broke again, or….”

“Yeah, I might not have run the thing for a while,” I admitted.

You get the picture.  Tidy Town is not here.  But I did complete draft one of a challenging manuscript.  It’s an odd kind of balance. 

My office is uninviting. It’s a project I’ve got to tackle someday.  Consequently laptop and I are at the dining room table. I use the description “dining room table” loosely. At one end is a fully packed tote bag; my friend’s collection of poetry beneath the envelope she mailed it in, next to that original and rejected collection of columns and such, topped with the book “Seasick,” next to my book, “The Gathering Basket,” leaning against a note I scribbled about environmental demonstrations in Mongolia, rubbing against my glass of water, just across from two three-ring binders with assorted manuscripts I’ve been referencing, touching my sacred Day Runner opened to June and slightly covered by news clips for The Daily Prism; a few unopened bills and my Blackberry peeping and buzzing away like a  maniacal  one man band. 

Today is the first day of the rest of my life–and perhaps heeding my friend’s advice. Maybe I’ll even find  loose change as I begin putting tidy back into my life. We’ll also experience eating at a proper table–maybe.

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