Wednesday, August 01, 2012

A Day Late and a Dollar Short, on the First Day of BLAugust

 This isn't the post I wanted to write. I was going to start yesterday, and write a really good, long, literary, reflective post. But, hurdles, you know--I had to take T. for an EEG, which I must say gets easier and easier. When he was a baby and barely moved and basically slept through the whole thing, I used to dread future EEG's. He's still not very mobile, so that's a way in which my prayers were unexpectedly, and a tiny bit horribly, answered. However, what made it the easiest yet--in addition sheer experience--was the [warning, product plug:] SweetPea3 mp3 player loaded with music and stories. Also his sweet personality.

All that to say that while the EEG itself gets easier, the hours between the end of the EEG and bedtime, which reflected the fact that neither T. nor I had enjoyed his usual afternoon nap, were the opposite of easy. Also daughter S.'s pet rabbit died last week, and the hutch and equipment I listed on Craigslist were snapped up so quickly that I unexpectedly had to spend some time half-heartedly cleaning them before they get handed over this morning.

And, laziness, and tiredness, blah blah blah. Excuses.

So I'll go with one of my backup plans, which was to sift through the abandoned drafts of 7(!) years of blogging and finish one. I'll probably dig up all of them before the month is through but I'm not sure I can do anything with the post that reads: "Borges. Filling out forms Allentown. At bay. Stags At Bay."

I do know what "The Corncob Principle" means, though. That's the title. The text so far reads simply "Hi! I won't fill up space with a lot of apologies and explanations about my eight-month absence." Thanks, MomVee. You just did.

The Corncob Principle

My mother's friend S. has a daughter K. who is about six years younger than I. When she was in kindergarten her class did a group project at Thanksgiving: they created a cornucopia, with each member of the class making a different food item out of clay. K. made an ear of corn, and she described it to her mother while it was in process, eagerly and in great detail. She was forming, she reported, each kernel individually for maximum realism.

When the display was dispersed and the ear of corn came home, it proved to be a rather misshapen, vaguely cylindrical piece of clay into which some holes had been poked at one end with a toothpick. When S. told me and my mother this story we all burned with sympathy for K., although she--being five--was satisfied with her product. We all knew too well how hard it is to produce anything remotely like the ideal you had in your head when you began a project.

What is the age when you begin to realize it? It probably differs for different people. A more important question is, how do you go on? This isn't just about the impossibility of being perfect. It's the difficulty of realizing goals that you can visualize or define so precisely, even those far short of perfection. And then, once you're acquainted with the corncob principle, it can be hard to even get started on a project. Or, as my beloved Dorothy Parker put it:

If you're going to write, don't pretend to write down. It's going to be the best you can do, and it's the fact that it's the best you can do that kills you.

Any other readers have this problem? Any advice?

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