By A.J. Llewellyn
I've had a few emails recently from readers who want to be authors, or who are struggling to write, juggling their many family and day job commitments. They've said how envious they are that I get to stay at home all day and churn out lovely, best-selling novels, whilst they deal with the realities of life.
I deal with the same realities and can only encourage them to do what I do. WRITE. NO MATTER WHAT.
With this point in mind, I present to you my day yesterday. No, not typical. But, true. And still, I managed to write 5,000 words.
6.22 AM alarm goes off. My kitten Henry, asleep on my feet, is an instant furball of action. He jumps on my head, my chest, my arm...anything to get me to feed him. The house is cold, I can feel it. I refuse to get out of bed until 6.40AM. I am a devoted listner, nay, a crazed fan of Bill Handel and I must listen to him and the news before facing the day.
6.32 AM Not that my animals control me or anything, but I rise and stagger, oops, I shine...into the kitchen to feed and water my dog, cats and a house full of plants. I make coffee, waiting for the water to boil as I do this.
Having had a nasty bout of flu for two weeks, I am enthralled with my good health. I can see, hear and smell again.
My plan is to chant for half an hour before I do any writing. Once I have done this, I will come back to the kitchen and investigate the funky odor in it.
For now, I will not do nothing but focus on my goal, which is to change my karma this lifetime. Yes, we Buddhists believe we get our rewards THIS lifetime, not the next. No celestial virgins for me.
I have written out my goals and I will work with my gohonzon on achieving each and every one of them.
6.50 AM I am in front of the gohonzon with my coffee, a glass of water and determination to do deadly serious daimoku.
6.52 AM I am chanting when the phone rings. Assuming it is my best friend Tony, who is visiting and never came home last night, I go downstairs to answer it. Too late. Ten seconds later, there's a knock at the door. I open it. It's the guy from the Gas Company. He'd just called me, but saw my car in the garage and knew I was home. He's here to disconnect my service for non-payment. he knows it's my car because he's been here before and my car is noticeable. It's the one with all the surfing stickers on it.
How embarrassing! I tell him I was sick last week with flu. He says he'll wait for my check. I feel my determination to succeed is already working, because he could have cut me off and left me without gas. I stare at the bill. $74. Had he cut my service, it would have involved extra fees and a gigantic deposit. I thank him profusely.
He says, "The guy in your car looks like a weirdo."
I say, "What guy in my car?" and I go to the garage and sure enough, he's a weirdo and he's sleeping...IN MY CAR!
He tells me his name is Eddie and he refuses to leave "his crib."
He's a young guy from the midwest with a red and white bandana on his head. I have no idea if he has gang ties and if this color will get him shot, since I don't follow this stuff anymore.
The police are mentioned and he reluctantly vacates my car. I lock the doors and he gives me the finger.
I give him directions to the front door.
7.10 AM My phone rings again and I ignore it. I am now fearful other services will be cut off and I immediately make calls checking on my own well-being.
7.39 AM My dog, Venus, pitches a fit and pees on the carpet. She wanted to meet Eddie the weirdo. I take her for a walk. It's a gorgeous Cali day and Eddie's outside my building with his belongings strapped to his back. He mutters something as I walk past and Venus jumps up and licks his face.
On her way back down again, my geriatric companion twists her right front paw and I am stricken when she needs to be carried home. I give Venus an Aspirin and she contemplates her misery. I give her a cookie, which she accepts with grudging reluctance. Nothing is broken, so I'm getting back to work. She's going to be okay.
8.30 AM Okay, I've lost valuable time and I must start writing. I'll chant in the evening. I have three book deadlines looming and I am halfway through writing Blue Moon, my December 15 release. I have struggled with this book not because I'm stuck or anything...I just can't bear to put my protagonists through the anguish they are suffering. I am a method writier. What my characters go through, I go through. I re-read what I wrote last night and immediately pick up the threads of my tale.
8.45 AM My mate Tony comes home and asks me what I did to my dog. I tell him Venus twisted her paw. It's the same paw she had problems with before. He wants to hang out, but I have to work so he goes downstairs to talk to her and I can tell they decide I am a complete, uncaring bastard.
So do my book characters.
9.04 AM My phone rings and Tony answers it. It's a pal of mine from Universal Pictures. She picked up some script-reading work for me and I must be at the studio at 10AM to collect the material. I'm jazzed. Woo-hoo me!
9.55 AM I am outside Universal. Nobody left a drive-on pass for me and the woman I am to meet with is not answering her phone. I'm forced to park in the studio lot like a tourist and walk over to the office. I chant Nam myoho renge kyo. I feel better, even though I'm going to be late.
10.20 AM the only thing security didn't probe as I cross the barricade into studio business territory was my ass. And I'm sure it was only because others were waiting. I arrive at the office and they're pissed because I'm late. I explain about the drive-on and the seven executive assistants all turn on each other pointing fingers.
11 AM Having been duly punished by being forced to wait, I'm ushered into the executive's office. She asks me for my resume. I blink and blank out. I tell her I was referred by our mutual friend. She checks her computer beside her, tip-tapping with a large, fake fingernail.
"I thought you were here for the assistant's position," she barks. "I'm interviewing people to replace Anna [not her real name]. You don't need to see me."
She points to the door. One of the flunkies out front hands me a batch of screenplays.
"Would you prefer me to email them in future?" she asks me. I see her nameplate on her desk.
Hello Anna, and goodbye.
11.32 AM Having lost valuable writing time and $12 to parking, I dash home and coax my dog down the stairs to my front door. I open it and my loony next door neighbor is standing there, naked.
"The voices in my head told me to jump in the pool, except the pool is empty."
"Yes," I said. "We had to drain it to re-tile it."
"The voices in my head want me to die."
She starts dancing around in the courtyard and the old Russian man who just moved in opposite me is doing exercises in his bedroom with the blinds and windows open. He's wearing big daddy underpants and black socks. I'm not sure which sight is more gruesome. Him or the mad dancer.
Tony comes out of my apartment. He takes my neighbor back to her house. Upstairs, I have her ex-husband's phone number so I will call him after I walk the dog.
Poor Tony is given a tough time by my neighbor. We swap duties. I take her home and I'm devasted by the condition of her townhouse as she tells me garbled nonsense about people spying on her and how we're all CIA or Nazis, I couldn't follow which. I'm even more horrified that she hasn't been looking after her dog. The dog, an old Bichon, is lying on the floor in her own feces. I call 911 when I realize the neighbor has gone mad.
An emergency mobile unit of therapists comes out. The guy who comes to the door is a huge black man. He asks me to meet him outside the building.
Poor Tony rushes Venus back to my place to come and help me. Apparently this unit knows my neighbor well and tells us how the whole thing will go down.
They send big guys like him out because they never know what to expect. He tells us he will ask her some questions and based on her responses, he may or may not recommend a 72-hour hold.
All three of us return to her unit. Tony and I hunt on the table for her insurance card. She is not responding to generic questions and keeps shrieking, "You know it's hot on Saturn."
The therapist orders an ambulance and helps the woman dress. I walk downstairs with her and she is the picture of mental and verbal decorum until they try to get her inside. The neighbors all come out to watch her go nuts when they put her in a strait jacket.
12.40 PM Tony takes the Bichon to the vet. I go to my neighbor's apartment after the mental hospital calls to tell me that her insurance card is old. I find a current one. I find her ex-husband's phone number. Disconnected. I spy a goldfish in a filthy aquarium. I have a neighbor who loves fish. I carry the disgusting-smelling container to her unit. She takes it from me.
"I can't promise you I can save the fish, but I'll try," she says.
1.00 PM I read through the screenplay deemed urgent by the studio and it's a pile of bat shit. Tony has good news from the vet. The dog's getting fluids but she can't stay with me because she and my dog hate each other. We ponder the problem of what to do about the Bichon.
I call my go-to guy, my wonderful friend Tracy who says he will take her.
I call the president of my HOA to check this is okay and leave a message.
I get back to work. I must report on the horrible screenplay by 6PM. I am due to go to a district meeting, the last one for our Buddhist group for the year and I need to be there by 7. I will make it. I will!
2.00 PM I'm working on my ten-page report when the phone rings. As usual, I ignore it. There's a knock on the door a few minutes later. Lord, help me. I open it and it's a geriatric couple. The cutest little Japanese people I ever saw in my life.
HOLY CRAP! I forgot. These are pioneer members of my division and they booked a home visit. I have no recollection of doing this, but smart peope that they are, they know I never answer my phone and apparently emailed me. They show me the email. I must have been in high fever when I scheduled the visit. Of course, I welcome them inside.
I make tea and discover the bad smell is vegetables I left in a cooking pot last week. They play with my dog and ask me what's wrong with her.
I've never had a home visit before but I am blessed that in spite of everything, they came to see me. Their stories and their courage inspired me. They come upstairs to chant with me. They love my altar and are encouraging about my chanting. They feel the love I put into my life they tell me. They enlighten me and I still feel quite...high from their benevolence.
Tony arrives with the Bichon, with whom they fall in love.
The homeowners in my building meet in the courtyard. We all have felt for a longtime that our kooky neighbor did not look after her dog. She now has a new home with my elders, so I can always check on her.
I finish my report, send it in by email, take my dog for a short walk. Her limp has improved.
Tony and I go to our meeting and come home. I write.
Today, it all starts all over again. Another day in the life of a published, working author.