I really considered going to City Editor Chet Diestel and pleading overwork to get excused from writing my column this week.
However, I used that very excuse, albeit legitimately, two weeks ago.
Then, I thought I could plead with his sensibilities and ask for a pass in consideration of my upcoming vacation.
But then I realized I'd need that excuse in two weeks.
I had every intention of writing my column over the weekend. But you know what they say about good intentions. Instead, I gave into other demands: The yard needed work, the dog needed a bath, the kids came home for a visit and suitcases needed packing. I told myself, as the weekend flew by, that I could always come to work early or stay late Monday. If all else failed, I could simply write my column at home Monday night.
Well, my Monday morning bed was simply too snuggly and the work day was too long and hectic. By the time I finally attempted to sit down with my laptop at home, I had no surviving brain cells left.
I've recently developed a theory: We have a finite number of actively working, productive brain cells to use in the course of a day. When they're gone, they're gone. Sometimes, as the supply becomes low, those fading brain cells can be revived with food, a little break from the stress of the day or a jolt of caffeine.
None of this has been working for me. In fact, if you could see my brain cells in the form of a balance sheet, they are now technically in the red. Combine the lack of vital brain cells with an ebb in the creative flow and it spells a troubling combination that is death for a writer. As much as I love writing, sometimes life just gets in the way.
I've been writing this column for several years now. Sometimes, I get the opportunity to actually talk with a reader and they often ask surprisingly similar questions.
How did you become a columnist?
Depending on your belief system, the opportunity to write could be due to the intervention of God or fate. Actually, Publisher Marty Weybret and Editor Rich Hanner made me an offer I couldn't refuse. It's just more fun to believe that fate has a way of intervening in life and God has a real wicked sense of humor.
Do you have a real job, or do you spend all your time writing?
Yep, I have a real job here at the newspaper. A real busy job. A really busy job that requires a really big hat rack and a revolving door to my office. A really busy, really big job working long hours. A really busy, really big job that seems to constantly suck every vital, living, functioning brain cell from my head! A really busy, really big job that … well I digress and you get the picture. Although I spend a lot of time writing in my "real" job, it's not the creative form of writing you see in my column. This column, most of the time, is an escape from the "real" world of my "real" job as administration manager for the newspaper.
How do you come up with the ideas for your columns?
I have absolutely no idea. The creative process is fascinating, and at times, elusive. It's much different that dealing with numbers that you can see, people that you can talk to, or a product that you can touch. The process of expressing an idea, thought, feeling or experience is ethereal and magical. It's kind of like listening to a barely audible a whisper in your ear.
Right now, I think I need a hearing aide.
But there is light at the end of my tunnel. Vacation. It's coming. It's coming soon. I'm all packed. The e-tickets are sitting on my desk. I've already tried out the binoculars we'll use on vacation. I used them to spy on a pair of hawks nesting in our neighbor's pine tree. The cool temperatures of Alaska beckon. Oh, boy, am I ready. I just need to survive the remainder of the week, and I'm outta here. There's just one more thing to take care of.
Hey, Chet! I won't have a column in two weeks. I'm on vacation and, hopefully, I'll be replenishing some badly needed brain cells. God knows I need them!
Theresa Larson is the Lodi News-Sentinel's administration manager. She is married and the mother of five children. Her column appears the first and third Wednesday of the month. She can be contacted at 125 N. Church St., (209) 369-2761 or via e-mail.