Friday, January 24, 2014

Ruthie, Ruthie, Ruthie...

I'm too lazy to look back at posts to see if I ever mentioned my friend Ruthie here. Put it this way: if I've talked at all about writing, I've talked about Ruthie.

Ruthie is that friend everyone wants to hide from every now and then. She is great, really, but she can be like a bad toothache. The pain is a bitch, but thank god it reminds you to keep up good habits - like brushing and flossing.

The bitch-pain part of Ruthie is that she has more faith in me than I sometimes have in myself. I say I want to be a published novelist. Ruthie knows I'm going to be published someday. She's not going to give up on me even if I have to kill her and write about it from Death Row to make it happen.

We have a pick-up-where-it-fell-off kind of friendship, Ruthie and I. She's married. Has been since the first days of elephant jeans. Actually, if I'd stayed with my first husband, Ruthie and I would be wishing each other Happy 30th anniversaries soon. (Yeah, I do have regrets.) The hilarious thing is, Ruthie and her man divorced once for a few months and got back together but none of us count the breakup. Ruthie gets busy with the "renewed" marriage and her two grandkids (yeah, another thing for me to "what if?" myself about) and our separate lives get in the way. Plus, she lives in another state which forces us to use the phone and internet to keep in touch. The last time we dropped the phone-call ball was last year when I had a minor romance and Ruthie was moving with her husband into a new house.

The other day, Ruthie saw my post about Amazon's writing contest. This blog is her way of peeping in on my life, I guess.

My phone rang at around one this morning.

Those too-late-to-be-good calls always stop my heart for a few seconds. You know how the brain's worry cortex - or whatever it's really called - kicks into gear before you're fully awake, right? Who's sick? What happened? No, God, no...

I've already had enough bad, sad and frustrating news in the past few months to last the next decade. I never even thought to look at the caller's I.D. so I was pretty relieved to hear Ruthie's maniacal cackle when I answered my phone.

"Girl! You sleeping?"

Yeah. That's my Ruthie.

"Sleeping, scared straight, having a minor heart attack. Whatever."

"So, listen. What are you submitting to this contest?"

Ruthie was talking like she was calling during a lunch break. One a.m. here means four a.m. where she is. Really, heffa?

"I'm trying to submit sleep to the contest of 'Be My Ass on Time to a 7:30 Doctor's Appointment'," I told her. "What the hell is wrong with your clock?"

"I got a Keurig for an early anniversary present and I've been trying all the different coffees," she said. "I haven't slept in four days."

"Well, I have a twenty dollar Living Essentials one-cup maker that drips mostly water, so I was sleeping just fine."

"Ooh, girl. We're going to have to get you a decent machine," she came right back. "You know how you get without a good cup of caffeine."

I kept reminding myself how I love this friend of mine. And I really was glad to hear from her - even at the ass crack of before dawn.

"Back up. You got a coffee pot - for your anniversary?" I wanted to know. "What's really going on with this 're-marriage' thing?"

"I got myself the Keurig," she said. "Calling my Keurig a 'coffee pot' is like calling Denzel a 'man' Now, what about this contest?"

One-track Ruthie.

"I'm working on something, but I don't know if it will be done in time."

"No excuses," she said. "Get it done, girl. Just. Get. It. Done."

"I can't rush my process."

"What process is that? The one where you criticize yourself to death while you're writing, then delete everything and start over?"

This is what happens when you have a friend who knows you too damn well.

Ruthie did her full routine. She nagged, she encouraged, she made me feel way more intelligent that I am. By the time she finished, Hemingway was a hack who learned under my mentorship in a previous life.

"Yeah, okay," I gave in. "I will get something submitted. I might go crazy trying, but..."

"Good. Now, are you seeing anyone special?"

I ended the conversation right there by reminding Ruthie I had to be up soon to drive in messy weather. Basically, I damn near hung up while she was still talking. If I let that woman get started on my love life, I'll be married before Valentine's Day.