I arrived home from The 2012 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio a little wiser, a little happier, and a little jigglier after spending four days surrounded by humor writers who fed me nonstop knowledge, jokes and chocolate cake.
My family on the other hand, based on the state of our laundry room when I returned, spent the time I was away wearing every article of clothing they owned.
It wasn’t just the dirty laundry that had piled up. So had 17 unchecked messages on the home answering machine.
“Did you check the answering machine at all while I was gone?” I asked my husband, Chris.
“Why would I?” he answered. “Nobody calls me at home.”
I pressed the play button and for the next twenty minutes listened to messages, all for Chris: “Mr. Tognola, this is Dr. Weismann’s office, you missed your eight o’clock appointment, please call back to reschedule.”
“Chris, it’s mom. I haven’t heard from you and I know Lisa’s away this weekend. Just checking in to make sure the house hasn’t burned down.”
The house had not in fact burned down, but the food supply had diminished to wartime rations. The last time our refrigerator had looked that empty was the day it was delivered from Sears. A few shriveled potatoes were the only remaining vegetables in the house, and they had more eyes on them than Kendra Wilkinson poolside in Las Vegas.
“When was the last time you ate a home cooked meal?” I asked Elizabeth while I searched the cupboard for food, finding a lonely package of bread containing two heels, and a half eaten apple.
“I don’t remember. We ate out every meal while you were gone,” she said.
“What did you order last night?”
“And the night before that?”
“And before that? Let me guess. Chicken nuggets?”
“No. A hot dog.”
It will take some undoing and some catching up, but eventually I’ll whittle down the pile of laundry, fill the bare fridge with food, and reschedule my husband’s missed appointments. After some regular exercise I may even whittle down my jiggle.
I’m glad I broke away to feed my soul with inspiration at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. As Erma said, “Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven’t thought about it, don’t have it on their schedule, didn’t know it was coming, or are too rigid to depart from routine.”
For me, what grew out of the conference was more than what meets the eye—and I’m not talking potatoes.
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