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Creative Nonfiction Teens & Young Adult Contemporary

She doesn’t feel like writing today. Her head feels foggy, her words lost inside. She tells others she doesn’t have any original ideas. That isn’t quite true; she wants to write about the unique scenes in her mind. She thinks another author could turn her ideas into a New York Times bestseller, but she can’t make it past a few pages. She doesn’t believe she can. Maybe if I wasn’t so lazy. Maybe if I paid more attention to real dialogue, she thinks. She wishes she could translate scenes into a collection of chapters people would actually pay to read. She avoids listening to that ‘80s soundtrack song she loves because it reminds her of one of her ideas. It stirs up emotion and makes her want to write. And she just doesn’t feel like it.

She doesn’t feel like playing the piano today. She bought new sheet music recently, going through her Spotify playlists to find inspiration, but it’s difficult to play. There are so many sharps, so many flats, and she can’t sight-read it as well as she hoped. Her fingers are out of practice, and the last time she played for an audience, she said she’d never do it again. Her mind is distracted when she tries to play, anyway. Even when she feels excited and cheerfully plugs the keyboard in, the energy fades when she starts to play. She used to love playing certain songs, and they hold little joy for her anymore.

She doesn’t feel like cooking today. The sink full of dishes reminds her that she needs to clean. She hates doing dishes, hates all housework, really. Or, more accurately, she struggles to get started, to leave her recliner and sitcom and start to do the necessary work. She compiles healthy recipes, knowing she needs to eat healthier, feels how her pants fit more tightly around her stomach than before. She enjoys the satisfaction of a homecooked meal, and although she may eat too much, she reasons it is still better than whatever she’d have ordered at the fast-food drive-through window. It takes time, though, and effort. With the pandemic she feels like she needs to wash her produce more than before. Not more vigorously, perhaps, but that her kitchen will be contaminated if she doesn’t do it just right.

She doesn’t feel like working out today. She used to have a gym membership, and although she didn’t go often, she enjoyed having the option to. She would ride the stationary bike for her cardio, sometimes venturing to the treadmill but worried about her appearance and her joints. She loved the leg workouts, knowing she had powerful leg muscles, feeling just the slightest bit of smug satisfaction when she had to move the weight limit up from the previous person’s setting. She loved how her body felt after a workout, how much easier it was to breathe. But her membership had expired and the pandemic made her cautious about going somewhere like a gym. She could try Zumba at home like she knows she’ll only do a song or two.

She doesn’t feel like doing trivia today. Some days she can stay on the trivia site for hours, creating new quizzes, accepting challenges, and earning badges. Sometimes those badges motivate her to learn. She remembers feeling confident enough to showcase her knowledge in real-time challenges. She can go days at a time, obsessed with the site, and then abandon it for a month.

She doesn’t feel like reading today. She has multiple books, sometimes, like now. She has books in her home she could read, books she was thrilled about buying; she spends far too much money on these books. The book she’s interested in sits on the passenger seat of her car—it’s her work book. She doesn’t bring it inside because she can’t sanitize the pages, and she’s had the book in her purse and in her car. These things may be contaminated by Covid, she doesn’t know. She could bring it inside and read it in the bathroom—she’s done it before—but then she couldn’t take it back out to the car or to work. So she figures she’ll read a bit next time she goes somewhere or maybe on a work lunch break.

She feels a bit like driving, maybe blasting music, and picking up some takeout from a few towns over. When people ask her what she does for fun, she doesn’t know how to tell them that she watches her favorite nineties sitcom and drives ridiculous distances to eat alone. It’s a hobby she can do alone, sometimes in sweatpants and without a bra, without pressure from anyone else. She doesn’t know how she can be too lazy to wash dishes for thirty minutes when she has the energy to drive for an hour. Some days even this hobby fails her because she knows she’ll have to shower when she gets home. She’ll have to transfer the food from its containers handled by, well, who knows how many people? The shower will cleanse her from the possibility of Covid germs. Other people don’t do that, she knows. Her boyfriend doesn’t. She can go to his house without feeling like she is contaminating him but cannot go into her own. She didn’t used to be like this.

She doesn’t feel like doing homework today. Going back for a master’s degree was supposed to give her a sense of purpose, and it did, when it was an idea and not a reality. She wonders if her work is trivial, if her courses are going to matter in the grand scheme of things. She worries because she knows she is not as smart as she pretends to be. She excelled in school because she knew how to do homework. She could write grammatical sentences and stayed one step ahead of classmates. It was a competition, not a learning environment, not in her mind, anyway. She’s trying to focus but she can’t. She worries she isn’t going to see this through, but she’s determined to. Doubt gnaws at her, but she will complete this degree.

January 24, 2021 18:09

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6 comments

18:41 Jan 24, 2021

Mood. Well done on this. You capture, well, everyone I know :)

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Paige Leppanen
21:04 Jan 24, 2021

Thanks!

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Helen Smith
16:56 Oct 19, 2022

Enjoyed your story. Can identify with it as I love studying too - though not done much lately! Also Covid has had a far-reaching effect

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Paige Leppanen
23:50 Oct 19, 2022

For sure, it changed things dramatically

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Kevin Schenk
16:08 Feb 06, 2021

This comes for everyone, I feel. A sense of misdirection and lack of purpose or that the path we chose is not the right one. It only takes one good thing to rip us out of that spiral. I hope you or the protagonist;) found that spark.

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Paige Leppanen
04:02 Feb 07, 2021

Thank you

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