Friday, January 21, 2011

Nature Abhors Them -- But They're Necessary Once in a While

Today was what I call a Day of Vacuum.* A Day of Vacuum has nothing to do with housework; rather, it's a day when lots of things go wrong, when you screw up repeatedly or get called on your screw-ups deservedly, when painful and annoying things happen, and they all pile up at once. For instance, my day included missing my train both going to and coming from work; being lambasted by someone whom I wronged, and deserving it; sending a group e-mail to important people with an incorrect e-mail address, thanks to autofill, and having to correct it (e.g. sending another e-mail acknowledging I did something stupid); writing catalog copy; a dentist appointment for a filling; another painful personal procedure; worrying about an issue related to my book I should have resolved months ago; being reminded of the endless and ever-growing list of things I have not done and need to do; and on and on. . . .

The main redeeming feature** of this day was that once I realized it was going to be a Day of Vacuum (after the lambasting, when I remembered the dentist appointment), I DECLARED it was a Day of Vacuum, thus embracing the vacuum. And this encouraged me to deal with lots of little vacuumy tasks I've been putting off for a while, and now they're done. The personal procedure, for instance: I chose to do it, because hey, it's a Day of Vacuum. Or when something else went wrong, I shrugged: Day of Vacuum. Once you accept the vacuum and you have this motto, then the refrain becomes almost a comfort: It reminds you that it's just one day, and it will pass.***, ****
* [Actually, I call it a Day of Suck, but my mother wouldn't let us use the latter word in its slang sense when I was a teenager, so my sister and I replaced the word then with "vacuum". And in deference to her sensibilities (hi, Mom!), I'll use that term in this post.]
** The other redeeming features: I finished a second-pass line-edit, when the book is more or less in focus and the rest is all pulling the pieces together; excited about a revised manuscript; my filling didn't hurt or require Novocaine . . . and getting to blog, I guess.
*** Or, to put a kidlit spin on it: Today was a difficult day, but tomorrow will be better. (Even in Australia.)
ETA: After I posted this at nearly 1 a.m., I decided to knock off one more task and write an e-mail regarding the program for an upcoming writer's conference. Finished it, hit "send": The computer system ate it. At which point there was nothing to do but go to bed to make the day be over.


  1. Is there such a thing as a month of vacuum? For the past few weeks it seems everything I touch, from coaching my daughter's bball team to teaching a Sunday school class at my church, I've managed to screw up royally in one way or another.

    Good to hear other people are experiencing misery too. :)

    Strangely it does make me feel a bit better...

  2. Great post. Perspective is such an incredible thing - it can change everything.

  3. I love your use of the word, vacuum, that is all. :)

  4. I hate it when that happens! I had a year of vacuum last year, and it seems to be continuing this year. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has these hard times, including dental appointments.

  5. Thanks for sharing how you handle those of days. Because we all have them. I know I do. I tend to stew about them and lose lots of sleep until I get over it and realize I'm not perfect and no one is.

  6. Having a day of vacuum myself, but already feel better after adopting the phrase :)

  7. Oh good! I'm not the only one who grew up in a house that had about twice as many swear words as everyone else's.