Two Ninety Nine

what if it were my real job?
then would it be okay that they mindlessly eat breakfast during the second hour
of Tom & Jerry?
while I sit here nourishing myself on waffles and the laptop
surely, I can justify the $2.99 download
if it’s childcare for work

what about for unpaid work?
to read to eat my breakfast in peace?
for pursuing a passion?
multiply the corresponding level of guilt, divide by the amount of energy you have
raise to the power of what else is on your plate today
factor in cultural expectations
(well, your own impossible expectations of yourself, I mean)
and consider the iTunes bill so far this month
and how many hours have they played outside
well, there’s even more to it-this set of formulas I use to determine whether it’s okay

I couldn’t possibly explain it all to you right now
how quickly I run through the calculations while I slowly stir sugar into my coffee
and contemplate my next (immediate) move

open the laptop and push away the guilt
and that nagging question about the passion
(do I have enough?)
(how do I know?)
(really, is it okay or not, would somebody please tell me, this is the unknown in my equation still, to pay for childcare, to justify the expense, to plug them in or drop them off ignore forget
be someone without them
for a passion?
or only for work?
paid work, right?)

it’s only $2.99
only one morning
only my life

three bites in she’s insisting to be on my lap
dragging cut up bananas and tangled hair and her attention away from the screen
setting her plate between me and the laptop
going back for her napkin buys me another few lines
a short moment to switch gears
recalculating my next (immediate) move

The Difference

I looked her up online
she’s a real one
looking for clues to the how
how can she do it?
with three?
there’s a picture of her desk online
it’s just a slightly messy desk on hardwood floor in the middle of the house with evidence of
kid stuff all around
not a special office hideaway retreat space dedicated quiet clean
a lot like my desk, house, hardwood floors
kid stuff all around
so I have no excuse

well, there’s the MFA and the job teaching writing
and the long list of what’s been published already
that I lack
but we’re the same age, hair color, freckles busy distracted
the other one also had the degree professional official resume publications
plus unique upbringing, memoir worthy
and blonde
but then I found out about her by sitting across from her
at a training
because some of the work we do is the same, actually
with the same qualifications
but I’m not blonde or memoir worthy, so, there’s that
and they started a long time ago and focused on this more and some other excuses
wait, I have them here somewhere

they claim, they all claim, when I look them all up
the real ones
in my search for the clues to the how
to fight self-doubt and -loathing and fear and all the things I’m feeling
so that’s the same
and makes them seem not so special after all
but then what is the difference?
is it just the doing it?

I fear I don’t care enough
just an A minus B plus kind of care
like I always was in writing classes
just enough to want to write the first time but, oh, the editing
yeah I know how important it is blah blah
I’ve told my students that, insisted upon it myself
but the editing is
a judgment
and boring like practicing piano
and living up to someone else’s standards of what it is supposed to be

maybe it’s all about the editing
committing to worrying about someone else’s standards of what it is supposed to be
that’s my sticking point
or maybe it’s the not worrying about someone else’s standards of what it is supposed to be
it could be that, the confidence

or is it just the doing it?