belief in oneself


As the final pages of the first draft of my next novel fell out of the printer and were punch-holed into submission, it became time for me to tackle the next challenge: the recalcitrant toilet paper holder problem.
            Its downward slant seemed designed on purpose to send the roll of toilet paper off itself and onto the floor, out of the reach of the seated roll-ee. Dangerous. I found an Allen wrench, the place where a tiny screw was not screwing well, and I crawled along the foot of the toilet bowl towards the culprit .
After few minutes of fiddling with the wrench, I got good at “righty tighty, lefty loosie,” and I worked the screw loose. About the size of a comma, it, now liberated, dropped to the floor behind the toilet, not once but thrice, and I was forced, on my knees, to feel my way to its resting places. Each time, the wrench slid under the rug or the counter or under an aching knee. I gave up, limped away.
            So, that evening, over a glass of wine and his latest manuscript, I coerced my carpenter/writer buddy to help me. It would be an Even Steven deal. I was willing to assist him in placing his commas. He would get my toilet paper thingy level. He agreed.
 I noted that he straddled the toilet, rather than crawling behind it as I did. His approach, aggressive, male, however, led to him dropping the screw, the wrench, and then, with a deep inhale, a mutter of the same words I’d used. The bar went on slumping. My friend wondered out loud if commas were worth the effort.
            “Would super glue work?”
            “Haven’t a clue. Any Malbec left?” he asked and we went on to commas.
This evening, undaunted, I discovered a tube of super glue in our weird-tubes cabinet.  I can do this, I told myself. I straddled the toilet, loosened the screw, dropped it but didn’t swear, squeezed the glue into the hole and when I found it, onto the screw, wrenched it one more time, and wiped the overflow off with my fingers.
Within minutes the holder was solidly parallel to the floor, no longer a threat to the rolls that trusted it. And within the same minutes my fingers had become a mass of bone and flesh, no longer fingers. No longer possible were attempts to poke at keys on my computer. No longer did the corkscrew fit into my paw. No longer could I avoid noticing the irony of believing that one can be good at anything she tries, when her fingers are glued together.
I still believe. But sometimes it takes time, a very hot shower and a bottle-opening husband to affirm that belief.


I’m waiting today, only capable of small deeds like removing the salon-thickened flesh-toned polish from my gnarly toes. I hadn’t noticed the growing-out white spaces and the chips because I don’t like to look at my toes very often. However, to fill my empty waiting hours, I went to a yoga class, and when the teacher pointed at my toes, I looked down. She wasn’t commenting on my nails’ color or lack of it. “Weight on the outside of the arch, Jo. Your ankles are falling in again.” Then she added, “Aim your buttocks toward your feet, not your waist.” I knew what she meant.  We go through this every yoga session.
It’s hopeful, her desire to straighten out my pigeon toes and sway back.  It means she believes in me despite my inability to stand in a perfect Mountain Pose.  It’s great to be believed in, despite my flaws.
I suppose that’s why I gathered the energy and the courage a few days ago to offer a group of friends free copies of my ebook, EDITH. They only had to promise to review the book. My instructions:  Be truthful, but don’t make me cry.
Twenty people have received EDITH. And now I’m waiting, waiting for their reviews.  It’s only been three days, but surely at least one of them couldn’t resist tearing into the story and was so impressed she sat right down let Amazon know of her amazed opinion. Right?
The sane, adult part of me knows that even for my best-friend-writer, I would not have put down my Thanksgiving grocery shopping list and my seasonal to-do self-mandates to respond to such a request in three days. Even if they liked parts of the book, most folks read slowly and write even more slowly.  I must be patient, breathe, practice mindfulness, as I’m always advising my husband to do.
This whole process is a little like going to yoga and being told to tuck your buttocks. Even though I thought they were already tucked, because of the care I heard in her voice, I tried, and I discovered I could tuck even more.  A perfect Mountain Pose may be within reach.  When she murmured, “Looks good,” I believed her.
Whatever my reviewers say, I will be grateful for their belief in my writing, in my ability to grow as a writer, for the “good jobs” that some will say to encourage me to keep working on the perfect writing Mountain Pose. 
So instead of lolling about in this lethargic Waiting Pose, I’m going to stop looking at my toes and go out to pick up the turkey waiting for me at Zupans, She has a good reason feel lethargic.

Scroll to Top