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This Week's Topic is: Tons of writers are in the midst of NaNoWriMo, trying to stay inspired as we reach the dreaded middle. Share your most inspiring and/or motivational video, book, or quote on writing!
Today's Road Trip Wednesday asks for inspiration. Friends, I present to you my hero, Amy Poehler.
When I saw this video for the first time I was sitting in my living room in New York, surrounded by eight-foot-tall piles of all my earthly possessions. I was packing for our impending move and contemplating what it would mean to leave behind the only place I had ever lived as an adult. I was thinking about my blind leap into (hopefully meaningful and temporary) unemployment. I was wondering, along with Mr. S, if all the studying he did over the summer would result in him passing the bar exam.
Yeah, this video made me cry.
Because there's Amy Poehler, sitting in her bathtub, imprecisely retelling the titular anecdote from Bird by Bird. When I was little--really little, but already a sloppy disaster--my mother invented her own take on this idea called "The Story of the Little Girl Who Wouldn't Clean Up Her Toys." In this story, a little girl (who bore more than a passing resemblance to me, and who I for some reason decided was named Kellogg) never cleaned up her toys. Like, ever. And then one morning she came down the stairs and realized she couldn't get into the downstairs rooms at all because all her toys were in the way. So she yelled for her mom, who said, "Just start with one thing at a time. Find the pieces to one toy, and put them away. Then find the pieces to another toy and put that away. One at a time." And eventually, one toy at a time, the downstairs got cleaned up and the little girl could get to the kitchen for breakfast.
This is the single most useful piece of parenting my mother ever did. I have this conversation with myself pretty much daily, especially now that I am doing all the housework. But even when I was teaching: "Get all the Period Six essays together in a pile, and just get them graded. Okay. Now pull together the middle school theater packets. Good. Grade those." And CERTAINLY when I'm writing. 2500 words a day? Ok. But before you get sucked down the rabbit hole of checking blogs and Tumblr, write 500.
And you know what? Our stuff got moved (well, except our couch, but I made peace with that pretty quickly). And I do miss New York (and can't wait to go visit my students and colleagues and favorite places!!!) but I also love Buffalo--new restaurants, new friends, closer to family, about a million times more space. I am getting exactly what I wanted out of my time away from work--writing time, rest, relaxation, mental health, time to think hard about my next move--and I've been putting my feelers out and I'm starting to track down leads on some really exciting job opportunities. AND! AND! AND! Mr. S passed his bar exam, because he's a rockstar and worked really, really hard.
So pals, when you feel stressed, I urge you to listen to Amy Poehler and the wisdom she dispenses from her tub. Look at all the amazing things she does, and realize, it's ok to feel this stressed. Just take one thing at a time, work at it, and slowly but surely (bird by bird, one toy after another) you will get through it.
And if you don't need inspiration but you do want to laugh at something really, really strange from this week's Saturday Night Live? (AND see the exact spot where I caught the F Train every day for three years?)
See the thumbnail shot? It's from about 0:34 in the video, if it's not showing up, on a subway platform by some stairs. Right there where he is dancing, that exact spot, is where I waited in the mornings. (I miss a lot about New York but I wouldn't be too sad if I never waited for a train there ever again.)
...I can't stop watching. Enjoy.