by Tracy Kiely
Every once in awhile, I tune into some show like Dr. Phil, and the topic will be something like “Families on the Brink,” or “Children Out Of Control.” After a brief introduction by the host, the camera will pan to a fairly normal looking couple. The husband usually looks Very Serious and the wife looks Very Sad. When prompted, they will haltingly tell of their inability to control their children and how it is ruining their once happy lives. The host will nod knowingly as they tell their tale of woe before turning to the audience and saying something like this: “Well, we wondered what a day in the life of this family was really like so we placed cameras all throughout the house. You won’t believe what we saw.”
Cut to a grainy image of the wife – now looking like a well-dressed Tasmanian Devil on crack – screaming at her fourteen-year-old while the father shouts his own profanities and slams his fist into the counter.
I always have the same reaction to these shows – which is jaw dropping disbelief. Not at the rotten behavior of the parents – let’s face it – if you have kids, then you have had that moment when you‘ve done and said something stupid. And if you have teenagers, then odds are you’ve lost your temper and shouted. Loudly. But for God’s sake! Who in their right minds would ever let someone put cameras in their homes? That action right there, and not than the yelling and swearing, is what bespeaks a sick mind.
I would like to tell you that were you to watch me write, you’d see this: I enter my beautifully decorated (and spotless) writing area. It has a view of the early morning sun bouncing off the rolling ocean. I am showered. My hair is artfully pulled back into one of those carelessly looking soft buns that actually take hours to perfect. I am wearing white linen pants and a light sweater. As I sit at my antique desk, my golden retriever flops loyally at my side. I take a sip of my hot tea and begin typing with a quiet intensity. I remain that way for three hours.
However, that is a big fat lie. Were I to allow cameras in my home, here is what you’d see. I enter the kitchen. It is a disaster of dirty breakfast dishes and open cereal boxes. I have not showered. I am wearing torn sweatpants and an old t-shirt. My hair is best left alone. I go to my desk off the kitchen. My writing area overlooks the backyard, which is littered with soccer balls, lacrosse balls, nets, and what appears to be a pair of dirty socks. My golden retriever, who is a ball of energy, runs past me with a pair of shoes in his mouth. After chasing him and saving the shoes, I sit at my desk. I type. Then I read. Then I chase the dog again. Then I type. Then I have an idea that needs verification and so I look it up on the Internet. Then I see that Jcrew is having a sale of sorts and so I bop over to that site for a while. Then I think maybe having some chocolate might be a good idea because I just read something that claims that dark chocolate is a “super food.” From there, I wander over to the cupboard to see if we have any. We don’t. But we do have milk chocolate. I wonder if that counts. I decide it does and eat it. I resume my seat at my desk and reread what I’ve written. (This is usually where any cursing occurs.) Then I repeat everything again.
Were you to be forced to watch this you would begin screaming yourself. It’s a bit like that odd adage – you might like sausage, but you sure as hell don’t want to see how it’s made.
I would say it’s the same with my books. You might like them, but you don’t want to watch me write them.