Hack Dad’s No Good Very Bad Day

The last month has sucked.

I started things off by cutting my hand while opening a can of chili for nachos (this happened at the end of April). I had to go to Urgent Care and get stitches and I lost most of the flexibility in my right hand. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, I would just suck up the inconvenience because Alicia would be home to help me with chasing around the baby for a couple of hours and let me and the hand get some rest. But it wasn’t a normal week, Alicia had to travel for her job and I was solo for four nights and five days—five very long days. I muscled through it, not like I had a choice. Luckily I was able to hand the baby off to my mother-in-law for a few hours during the days so I could get the day-to-day crap of the house dealt with and get a little rest in. The week shot by like they usually do; blink and it’s gone and everything’s back to the way it should be.

Except Alicia’s brought something back from Minnesota, a nasty virus that rolls through us all. I don’t get sick often, it happens to me once every five or so years, and when it hits, it’s like a sledgehammer. I fight it hard and I’m the last one to go down, and I am, of course, the whiniest about it. Even the baby is tougher than me. Then again, she’s a baby, and her happy little immune system chews up the cold and spits it out within twelve hours. The cold lingers for a solid two weeks, it drains me and Alicia, turning us into infected snot zombies. More or less, it was a glorious time at the Rawson household full of blood, snot, tears, and deadlines needing to be pushed back. It’s a shit show, but you have to keep rolling on. You have to work past the exhaustion, but sometimes it’s so damn hard.

This is particularly true of writing. When the body isn’t working, typically the mind isn’t doing much better, and it’s so easy to push off writing. To be blunt, when I first pitched the idea of writing a column about how to deal with exhaustion, I was thinking I would put together a handy-dandy listical of ways to get the imagination pumped and work past your physical malaise.

1) GET UP AND GET MOVING!
2) SWITCH UP WHERE YOU WORK!
3) GET OUT AND ABOUT!
4) STREAK THROUGH THE PARKING LOT OF YOUR LOCAL MALL!

But then I quickly figured out that I don’t know jack or shit about pulling myself out of a physical funk. Typically, when life starts kicking my guts out and tries to get me down for a curb stomp, I curl into a deep comfortable ball and wait it out with a blanket in front of the television. I tell everything to fuck off for a little bit and focus on getting better as opposed to pushing myself. I mean, if you’re running against a hardcore deadline, sometimes you don’t have any choice but to grit your teeth and work through it. There’s no sick time with writing and parenting, you just summon up your inner Shia LaBeouf (by the way, am I the only one who thinks his name sounds like the answer to one of those ‘Your Pornstar Name is’ memes?) and make with the typing.

If you got a choice in the matter, though, curl up and sleep for sixteen hours straight—you’re, of course, not going to be able to do this with a couple of kids—zone out in front of the tube, sleep some more.

So, yeah, that’s my advice on how to deal with exhaustion, just give up, lie down in a corner for a couple of days: Sleep, eat, shit, drink lots of water, in exactly that order.

Now that we’ve got that sage piece of wisdom out of the way, how do you deal with exhaustion and sickness? What are your favorite movies and TV shows to watch? What are your favorite books and comfort foods? And how do you get back into the rhythm of writing once the shit storm has passed? Let me know in the comments.

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Keith Rawson

Column by Keith Rawson

Keith Rawson is a little-known pulp writer whose short fiction, poetry, essays, reviews, and interviews have been widely published both online and in print. He is the author of the short story collection The Chaos We Know (SnubNose Press)and Co-Editor of the anthology Crime Factory: The First Shift. He lives in Southern Arizona with his wife and daughter.

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