Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Did You Hear the One About the Dishwasher and the Rotator Cuff?

By Elizabeth

I love NPR. I am hopelessly out of touch with any and all current popular music because I really don’t have a sound system in my home, don’t own an i-Pod, and the car radio is set to KERA at all times. What can I say? I’d rather hear Terry Gross or Krys Boyd talk to an author than listen to Lady Gaga belt out her latest.

Not long ago, I was richly awarded for my preference as one of the regular shows interviewed William J. Broad about his book The Science of Yoga. A few weeks later, I saw a copy at the library and swiftly yanked it off the shelf. And perusing through it, one of the things I learned is that it’s possible to fix a rotator cuff with certain yoga poses, though alas! It came too late for my mom’s husband who’d had surgery for his this summer. Meh, I don’t see him downward-dogging anyway.

As much as I love NPR, that might be how much I hate my dishwasher. We’ve owned this house for 12 years, and this is the third dishwasher to inhabit it along with us. Annoying, to say the least, especially since this latest one—only about three years old!—is a fairly chi-chi brand, and I spent more on it than my normally cheap heart would permit, and yet, and yet—dishes were coming out not only not clean, but actually dirty. Food-crusted. Frustrating!!

So we got on the Internet to research new ones, found one that again challenged my frugality, and headed over to the big box to take a look at the innards. Not bad, but the store couldn’t get the model in the color we preferred, so I called the husband to have him order it online. Talk to me when you get home, he said. Turns out there were some issues in the reviews on the manufacturer’s site. Basically, good machine, but problems about a year or so in. Did I mention this would be the third dishwasher we’d replaced in a dozen years?

Back to the drawing board, but first, I decided to see if the Internet would provide not only info on new machines, but maybe some hints on what might fix the problem on this one. Do this, one site advised, and try that, said another. Well the “this” wasn’t the problem I knew (hard water issues), but “that” turned out to be revealing. And right. And all by my lonesome, with nothing more than water and a pile of toothpicks, I fixed that darn machine while the family watched The Simpsons in the other room. (We are bad parents and let our kids watch inappropriate television. Not so bad now at 12 and 14, but at four and six, Bart probably isn’t an ideal role model.)

Just like the yoga pose and a little investigation fixed the guy’s shoulder, so a little investigation and simple tools and time fixed my dish issue. So I thought about my WIP.

I’ve been flirting with the idea of putting it aside and picking up a new work. Some fresh ideas have been brewing, and although I really am within maybe a score or two thousand words from finishing the first (fairly polished) draft, those words have been elusive to say the least. There’s a knotty problem with the plot I just haven’t been able to figure out, and it’s tempting to just dump the whole thing in favor of a clean start elsewhere.

Except. Rotator cuff surgery is painful and requires extensive physical therapy. The yoga pose can be done in mere minutes every day. A new dishwasher is expensive and I hate waiting for the installation guys to show up, and there’s no guarantee with my luck the replacement would be any better than its three ancestors. Except I’ve already poured hours of work and thought and love into this story, and it’s really so close I can almost see it. And all it takes is a little extra effort, a little trying something that’s maybe obvious but still oblique, a little time to do the thing that makes what’s already there work the way it can and should.

So I’m not dumping my dishwasher and I’m not dumping my WIP. I know now how to fix the machine if it balks again, and the truth is, I know how to fix what is wrong with the manuscript, or at least how to get there. I just need to take the extra effort, turn the corner, and save myself from…well, myself. The work is worth it. Just like the cash, just like a healthy range of motion, just like anything. Fix what you can the best way first. The stores, the hospitals, and indeed the new ideas—they’ll all be there if fixing it at home fails. But chances are? It won’t.


  1. Great post, Elizabeth. Way to hang in there! (And I hear ya on The Simpsons...been there...) ;)

  2. Wow, Elizabeth! You have been busy behind the scenes! Can't wait to hear about the almost finished draft next weekend! Maybe we'll kick your, um, BUTT to The End while we're there! :) And I am really intrigued by the dishwasher toothpick fix.


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