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I can’t write at home today. I have left Annie’s Odyssey’s neat-little-color-coded file on my computer closed. It’s all because of my dining room table. It’s trying to tell me something and I’m not listening. This chipped-black remnant of my days with the murmuring-ex-husband has become the barometer of my mental well being. The way it looks right now I should be worried.

I shouldn’t really even call it a dining room table since I only eat on it when I’m not dining with HGTV stars or Alex Trebek — which unfortunately is seldom. I read one time that eating while watching TV was a sure sign of a worthless life—right up there with drinking alone… But we won’t go into that. Maybe if I had a proper, cute little dining room off my kitchen like the folks on HGTV, everything would be different. I wouldn’t be using my table as a dumping ground, my moods would soar and the writing would flow like Vesuvius’ lava…or not.

At the moment, every inch of this table’s surface is covered. Not just one layer but several. It will be a major job sorting through it. I think of alternatives and start humming “I burned a hole in the dining room table…” (A very good rendition, if I do say so myself, of the 1950’s Hilltoppers version of P.S. I Love You). It would be a quick solution to this clean up but if I tried to burn a hole I’d end up burning down the whole house.

Actually, this pile of stuff is like an archeological dig into the life of Ann E. Eyerman and her subsequent sinking mood. There’s three pairs of gym socks (clean) and two swim suits (dry) that never made it back into my gym bag (also on the table) and from there to my locker since I haven’t made it back there either. (A contributing factor to low mood for sure.) Three library books that I swore I would take back before they were overdue. ($1.80 and counting) There’s last week’s Saturday Toronto Star newspaper that I never got around to reading (except for the TV section) which I’m sure contains vital information for my survival in this city. The pristine, unopened Spanish textbook that I spent $20 on swearing that this time for sure I would learn Spanish properly. A red courier bag I found on the street and haven’t gotten around to cleaning. A pile of junk mail. Shopping lists. Two notebooks waiting for journal entries… and … of course … the cats.

I know that it is disgusting to at least 50% (probably a lot more) of the population that these two black-and-whites have decided to nest in the middle of my confusion. There’s not a lot I can do about it. Cats sit on tables, counters, bookcases, laps, washing machines, computers, backs of couches, beds, window sills and anywhere else they damn well please. There’s no stopping them. I’ve tried.

These two actually prefer when my life is in chaos which I find a bit sadistic and totally unsupportive. They move around the table like they’re in a furniture showroom. Nick tries the Spanish book but rejects it’s shiny, cold cover and chooses, instead, the red courier bag. (He doesn’t care that it has been on the streets and remains uncleaned). Rose, pickier than her brother about where she sits, takes her time deciding. As she looks, she complains mightily about the poor quality of my piles. I apologize. Finally, she squirms into the swim suits. Goldilocks is satisfied.

I can’t disturb them now…so the mess will stay. Instead, I’ll go in search of somewhere else, away from the dining room table, to write…