Did you know it’s possible to clean a house in four hours? A two-story house, a house which has for the last five weeks been overrun by six dogs and three cats? A dusty house, a house whose every inch of off-white carpet is overlaid with clumps and patches of black Australian Shepherd fur? In four hours! Yes! It’s possible! It’s amazing!
Did you also know that it’s possible for a woman, a fickle woman who took over twenty minutes trying to perfect her “look” today, even though her look was “I just rolled out of bed,” complete with worn-in gym pants, a tank top, and hair sloppily pulled back in an elastic band—a woman who can’t decide what she wants to eat in under half-an-hour, even if she were being held at gunpoint—to pack for a longish trip in five minutes? A woman, mind you, who has been working in a newspaper office for TWELVE HOURS, copy editing and fixing layout and working with photos and trying to calm herself down because she’s worked herself into a fit because IT’S FOUR SPACES FOR AN INDENT, NOT FIVE, NOT THREE, NOT SEVEN, NOT TAB AND THEN TWO SPACES, NOT “oh let’s just hit the spacebar an arbitrary number of times with no sense of pattern, rhyme, or reason”—FOUR, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND THE NECESSITY FOR CONSISTENT LAYOUT???
But yes. Yes! More with the Amazing! I, who am currently running on fumes, packed a bag for a five-day trip to Honolulu in FIVE MINUTES. Absolutely mind-blowing, how necessity can drive a person to do the impossible. What I accomplished today is on par with those people who, with a sudden rush of hormones and adrenaline and Miracle-Gro Strength, can lift an eighteen-wheeler with one hand tied behind their back because of the ABSOLUTE NECESSITY to lift the vehicle, because of the Very Important and Dear to Their Heart person lying beneath one of that truck’s massive wheels, or maybe a lemon cookie, because God knows what I would do if a lemon cookie needed rescuing from the murky depths of Sub-Eighteen-Wheeler Tire.
Except for immediate and dire tasks, like changing the cat litter or changing the newspapers or sanitizing the counter that still has remnants of the month-old rotting mangoes which turned into squishy plump mounds of dark brown goo held together by a dark brown wrinkly skin, mangoes which were thrown away but whose excess spillage was never dealt with until the lingering odor—smacking of really bad wine with a vague hint of sewage—got to be too much to handle. I would pass by the spot on the counter where the fruit had melted, and I swear I would walk away with a slight drunken buzz—except for pressing things such as, I have not really cleaned the house since… well, since I moved back home in the beginning of July. I’ve wiped the surface clean with some cotton pads and astringent, but I never bothered to do a deep-down, pore-flushing, exfoliating Event.
Why today, you ask? I couldn’t really tell you. I suppose the spirit finally got around to moving me. The fact that my mother is returning to Vegas for a few days (which is why I’m going to Honolulu, to switch places with her), naturally, has *nothing* to do with my sudden desire to vaccuum and organize and clean and make pretty. Absolutely nothing. Pure coincedence that my mother will now walk into the house, from where she has been absent since mid-July, and not get the impression that her residence has been a Zone of Massive Destruction and Shedding the whole time she’s been away.
Four hours of non-stop cleaning. Sweat and swear words were in prolific abundance. The dogs were locked outside the entire time because I didn’t want them in the way of my obsessed cleaning process, and then some because I didn’t want them to ruin in minutes what had taken me hours to create (that is, a semblance of order and cleanliness).
And from the cleaning, I went straight into the shower, and from the shower, I went straight to work.
For TWELVE HOURS.
Granted, I spent the first two hours not really working, messing around with Photoshop for a project I was compiling for my mother, reading Internet news sites and checking message boards and just fucking off with the other editors, laughing and insulting and being insulted and cursing. But I was there, I was in the office, and I was logged onto the network and I had a story on my screen the whole time. The fact that in those initial two hours, I only edited the first three paragraphs of that one story, is quite beside the point. Or it would be if I had a point to begin with
I gradually threw myself more into my work, and around nine I really cracked down and got serious.
Six hours later, still labor-intensive, there were still three sections that I hadn’t had the time to even *look* at, let alone edit and fix and repair.
Four in the morning. I haven’t eaten since 7 p.m. and I’ve been awake since 8 a.m. My flight to San Francisco leaves at 6:30 a.m., but I haven’t even packed for the trip and I need to be out the door—of my house—by 5:15 in order to get to the airport in time to check-in and muddle through security.
4:30. I’m getting that heady, dizzy feeling, that weird sort of brain cloud that makes me feel perpetually on the verge of either throwing up or blacking out. News still needs to be edited and fixed, and I have to check the captions and such for the front page. Hubert and I are the only ones left in the office—have been for at least an hour, now.
5 a.m. STILL IN THE FUCKING OFFICE WITH THIS FUCKING PAPER THAT FUCKING STILL ISN’T DONE. Though, I’m not angry—I don’t have the brain capacity or the energy to manage to be angry. I am, however, sweating bullets because it’ll take me at *least* ten minutes to drive home, and that’s if I speed my ass off, and then I’ll have to find a bag and throw clothes and toiletries and shoes and school stuff into it, but I’ll only have a couple of minutes to do that because I HAVE to get to the airport on time because if I miss my flight the world will explode and everything will be ruined and I’ll have to drown myself in a parking lot puddle.
Five minutes later, I leave after (half) jokingly telling Hubert that if there are any typos in the Events Calendar or the random fact box, I’m going to hold him completely accountable (even though he’s just as exhausted as I am). Speed like a bat out of hell, get home—my dad’s watching the morning news, clearly waiting for me, though I didn’t pause long enough to see if he was surprised to see me only just coming home—shouldn’t I be coming *down* the stairs from my bedroom, instead of going *up* them to it?
The second miracle of the day happens: I pack everything I need. IN FIVE FUCKING MINUTES. Never before has such an event of this magnitude, of this incredulous power, occurred, and I remain confident that never again will a similar event take place (not if I have anything to do with it). I run downstairs, fly into the garage, throw some shoes into my bag while putting another pair on my feet, grab some last-minute stuff out of my car, then get into my dad’s car and catch my breath as he drives me to McCarran.
I’m writing this from the airplane—this flight was so drastically undersold that I not only received a seat before the plane even arrived at the gate, but the gate agent gave me a whole row to myself, which was nice because the bag I pac ked was ridiculously heavy and I’d been trying to figure out how I was going to get the damn thing into the overhead bin, as my smaller bag with my textbooks and my Streudel were, of course, going to go under “the seat in front of me,” to ensure their utmost safety.
Well. As of now, I’m writing from the San Francisco airport at Gate 80, waiting for the boarding process to commence. I’m exhausted and I still have that funny feeling going on in my head, which I assure you is far from being fun, and occasionally my stomach still feels like turning itself inside out, except there’s really no food in there right now, so all that would come up would be acidy spit, which I’m pretty sure equates to something of an unpleasurable experience.
I need sleep. I need food. I need some semblance of sanity and repose, and I won’t get either for some time. I also need a power outlet, because my battery is estimated to run out in three hours and I’ve got about six or seven hours until I’m settled in Hawai’i. And I’ll be damned if I can’t write when I’m finally in the mood to write and when I’m actually writing on a level above Really Crappy. Forget the fact that I’m not particularly coherent due to my lack of sleep—it’s quality incoherence, people!
The RY office was incredibly cold, no surprise—and after twelve (TWELVE) hours of sitting in that office in a sleeveless top, I was freezing and more than a little glad to be walking outside into a still warmth of a morning. Then came the Running Frantically Everywhere because I was desperately afraid of missing my flight, which made me Uncomfortably Hot, a condition which was not remedied in the least by the shoddy air conditioning of the airport terminal. Following this came Plane Flight the First, which involved an irritating but persistent stream of Freezing Cold Air which hit every square inch of exposed skin on my body, and maybe even a couple of square inches of hidden-under-not-insulating-clothes skin, too. Shivering ensued, which induced a Cranky Attitude, not helped at all by the Lack of Sleep issues—and now I’m Comfortably Room-Temperature here at Gate 80. This constant change of temperature states, however, has only left me all the more fatigued.
I found a wall outlet, however, so that’s one thing to raise my spirits—and I’ve been watching this adorable little baby who has been entertaining himself to no end by crawling around on the dirty airport floor, rolling his plastic bus which has little plastic people who bounce up and down as the bus wheels move. He has these tiny little feet with these tiny little toes—I can feel my biological clock ticking in and, being Hungry and Tired and Hot-Potato-Peas-Porridge-Cold to boot, I am powerless to stop these maternal yearnings.
Fifteen minutes and boarding should start. Standbys should be getting called soon.
Sometimes, I wonder about this whole newspaper editing business. I honestly worked my ass off tonight, trying to make sure that this edition is completely free of typos—last edition, I made the mistake of relegating some of the stories to other people, whom I trusted would catch each and every mistake—I checked the stories, made sure the section editors had the edited copies of their stories, gathered my shit together and waved good-bye. Because, as a copy editor, my job is to edit the copy, and “copy” consists of merely stories, right?
Copy consists of headlines, headers, captions, bylines, drop decks, quote boxes, last-minute in-house ads—and so much more. I learned this the hard way—by picking up a copy of the issue the next day and staring blankly at the plethora of typos littering the FRONT FUCKING PAGE. Opening the paper only revealed more typos, more mistakes, more “little overlooked errors” that brought my world of complacency crashing down with a jarring cacophany of dismay.
So for this edition, nothing got finalized until I’d scrutinized every inch of the section. This meant, however, that I couldn’t—by my own imposition—leave the office, leave the paper, until everything was finished. Hence the Still Being There at five in the morning.
And yet, for all my careful preparations, for all my careful editing, for all my careful triple-checking of the littlest details, I have this terrible suspicion that something still sneaked by me, that there’s going to be a glaring error in this edition—and that one little error is the rotten apple that spoils the entire barrel, for me. One uncaught typo, in my overly-intense world, immediately devalues the hundreds of other typos I *did* catch—and that pisses me off. Perfectionism is highly overrated, but so damn inescapable. At least, for those of us cursed by the trait by birth.
The worst part of this all is, I’m not going to be in town for this next issue, which comes out on Monday. I won’t be back in Vegas until Tuesday—the thought that I won’t be able to pore, to literally scan every microcosm of this next issue the way I just did for this one—sends me into a near-panic. I don’t trust anyone else with this paper. And it’s not so much sheer arrogance that drives me to say something like that—it’s the fact that, I trusted other people with it before and that trust was irreparably broken. I’ve nagged to death the section editors to E-MAIL ME THEIR STORIES FOR EDITING, but knowledge is a deadly weapon—I now know that I can edit to perfection every story, but there will remain all the same so much room for gigantic typos. Headlines, after all, are the first thing people read when their eyes scan over a page.
Yes, it’s only one issue, but it’s still my name listed as a copy editor, it’s still my name that plays the scapegoat for all and any typos—though the majority of our student readership couldn’t ever be bothered into actually contacting me and telling me what a crap job I’m doing. I still hate the thought that I could have done something more to make it all better, to prevent these mishaps from happening.
Hot damn. Any publication would be so lucky to have someone as driven as I am when it comes to this sort of shit. That I can, while running on fumes and stressing like mad and needing to get the HELL out of the office RIGHT NOW I’M LATE I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS, still retain such a nit-picky attitude, unlike other editors I’ve had to work with in the past who, in the later hours of the morning, after hours of endless battling with software and writers and hardware and other such factors, all of which are stubborn and uncompromising and difficult and causes of migraines, will suddenly take on an attitude of “Oh fuck it, who cares, it’s just one issue and no one’s really going to notice if this one has some typos or if that onemakes less sense than a French translation of a Pauly Shore movie, and even if one or two people do, no one’s going to make a fuss about it.” And mistakes deliberately go to the printer.
It’s a crap sort of cop-out which I am incapable of ever taking. Which is a good thing for whoever employs me, but a damned nuisance for me.
Have finally made it to the plane—this is the first time in years, literally years, maybe five, which would amount to about ten trans-Pacific flights, that I’ve sat in coach. I’m not used to being in such close proximity with other passengers for five hours—but then, I’ll probably sleep. I’d better sleep. I certainly don’t plan on just writing the entire duration of this flight.
Oh hey—a blanket! Joy of joys, a blanket. Sleep is on.
Or maybe not. Screaming babies could be nearby.