September 26, 2000
Prefection  Perfection ... Thirty Minutes at a Time


For thirty minutes every day, my life is perfect.

For that first half hour after I open my eyes every morning, the whole world is bright and shiny and new and filled with limitless possibilities. Usually I feel so good that I just lay there in bed for a few minutes, revelling in the bright shiny newness and the limitless possibilities and stuff, and I tell myself Today is going to be the perfect day.

And for about thirty minutes or so, I actually believe it.

I will look perfect today, for one thing: the absolute model of pulled-together Executive Assitude. I'll reach into my closet and the perfect outfit will be hanging right there: clean, pressed, incredibly flattering (preferably bright red) and ready to go. My hair will hold a set, my makeup will be flawless, my pantyhose will be dry and my feet won't bleed.

Today is the day I will feel boundless energy, all day long. No mid-morning slump. No lunch-hour coma. No emergency 4 p.m. *caffeine infusion* necessary. I will soar through my day on wings of vitality.

Today is the day I will spontaneously hear from all three of my children, for no reason at all, and not a single one of them will ask me for money. Plus Daughter #1 will announce that she's reverting back to the original, birth-certificate spelling of her name ... none of them will ask me to recommend a good lawyer ... and all three of them will remember to say "I love you, Mom."

Today is the day I will write the perfect post for my website. I will sit down at the computer tonight, after work, and it will just sort of pop out of my head and onto the keyboard: effortlessly bright and funny and profound, perfectly formatted HTML-wise, suitable for framing and/or immediate publication. (Oprah herself will write me an e-mail and say Screw Elizabeth Berg: I'm featuring *FootNotes* this month.)

Today is the day I will finally achieve the perfect balance between professional commitment and emotional detachment on the job. (Read this: Franz will call me "unresponsive" and I won't give a fudk.)

Today is the day that everything will be prefect perfect.

Of course, it's easy to feel that way for those first thirty minutes of the day.

For one thing, I wake up next to The Other 50% of the Population every morning. In a few weeks we will celebrate our two-year anniversary. I figure I should be getting sick of him by now. Little things should be starting to annoy me: his snoring, maybe, or the way he plays the Rickenbacker in bed for hours on end, or his unnatural fondness for pasta, seven days a week, fifty-seven weeks a year. Instead, I think it's accurate to say we're both still as icky/gooey/sticky/pooey heels-over-head in love as we were that first overheated, overwhelming, overeverything weekend.

I wake up in the morning and see David laying next to me, and my heart soars. It sounds stoopid but it's true.

For another thing, there is the whole business of getting into the shower and standing under a stream of hot water, washing off all the *yesterday molecules* in preparation for all of the groovy new *today molecules* I will accumulate later. Lots of symbolism there. Lots of comforting ritual. Lots of ridiculously expensive personal grooming products. I emerge from my shower at 6:10 a.m every single morning, scrubbed and pink and smelling like the Neutrogena counter at Long's Drugs,and I feel positively invincible.

And of course there is the Holy Communion of the First Cup of Coffee. That primal moment when caffeine first connects with bloodstream. The Bliss Moment. Heaven in a pink ceramic coffee mug.

It's just too bad I can't make the feeling last longer than thirty minutes.

Inevitably, the fabric of all this bright shiny groovy new perfection stuff begins to unravel, as the morning progresses. On The Today Show, Katie and Matt are both wearing the professional Frowny Faces: Romanian gymnast stripped of gold medal. T.J. Hunter tearfully denies charges he used steroids. Huge unexpected thunderstorm in Sydney plays havoc with Katie's 'do. I take a sip of my coffee, and it has turned ice-cold. I sneeze in mid-Maybelline and wind up with an eyelash curler full of severed lashes.

An ant tiptoes delicately across my tender inner thigh. ("Hiya, Secra! We're baaaack!")

By the time David finishes his message-board-and-coffee routine and announces that it's time for the two of us to head to work, dread has begun to settle into the pit of my stomach, cold and heavy as Grandma's Sunday meatloaf.

Some days are worse than others. This morning I sit on the sofa, watching David put on his jacket and look for his car keys and turn off all the lights ... and all of a sudden I feel frozen to the spot. I wonder what would happen if I just said, 'Nope. I'm not going?' It is only through sheer force of will -- and the fact that today is payday -- that I am finally able to make myself stand up and grab my purse and walk out the door.

By the time David and I are navigating the Subaru through erratic downtown Oakland traffic, I am no longer convinced that this is going to be the perfect day. In fact, I'm pretty darned sure this day is going to be just like yesterday, and the work day before that, and the work day before that: long, difficult, exhausting, filled with little humiliations and aggravations.

But for those first thirty minutes every day, at least ... things are prefect.

throw a rock