Instead I've been dealing with - bugs. (see above illustration)
No, I haven't been spending my time drawing that art either. That's a 2009 - a very good year for bug art I must say.
My bugs have been of a different ilk. Bug #1: Computer. Black screen of death? I has it. Or had it. But after struggling along with my handy-dandy netbook for a couple of weeks and knowing all my data was backed up online, I wasn't balled up into a knot of despair while waiting for my computer to be brought back to life by the computer fairies. So this was a couple of hundred dollars kind of bug instead of a LIFE CHANGING EVENT. So, if you haven't figured out a convenient and reliable way to back up your stuff - do it. Seriously.
Bug #2: Viruses. And I don't mean computer viruses. I mean icky, icky, working in 6 different schools and being touched by hundreds of children kind of viruses. I'm not going to go into disgusting detail here but I'm definitely going to will my body to science. After all these years teaching I bet I have, to paraphrase Carl Sagan, billions and billions of different immunities swimming around inside me.
Bug #3: Creepy crawly bugs. Each year there's this weird kind of waving antennae beetle that invades my house. I'll look over and see one lurking above the printer, or peering at me from the bathroom sink, or worse, have one dive bomb me from behind, RIGHT NEXT to my ear. And here's the thing, screams do not scare this bug. But Twig, the terrible min-pin puppy does scare them and when she does they let loose with some foul citronella type smell. Twig gleefully pounces, chomps and then spits the bug out while I run to open the windows. Good times.
Other kinds of bugs abound, and this time they come from people. There are the social networking reminder bugs. I guess these days, the worst thing you can do not have a strong internet presence. What happened to the good old days when the worst thing you can do is wear white shoes after Labor Day? Then there are the well-meaning questioner bugs. "So how's that book coming along?"
But I think the most wretched bugs of all are the self-doubt bugs. These vile vermin exist only to make you lose confidence in yourself. They not only want you to stop you from keeping with your craft - practicing ALL THE TIME in order to try to get better, they want to keep you from ever starting in the first place.
Sometimes these bugs wear old, familiar faces. Maybe it's a teacher from way back that told you you couldn't draw, or corrected your poem to the point it was nothing but a mess of red ink. Maybe it's a neighborhood bully that called you names because you won that writing or coloring contest. Bad, bad bugs.
But here's the good news. Unlike computer catastrophes, runny noses and invading stink beetles, you actually have control of the self-doubt bad, bad bugs. You can quash them, squash them, dance around their little imaginary bug resting places by just continuing to practice - to write everyday, to finally open that set of acrylic paints, to finally dare to possibly fail. Because failing really IS the worst thing that can happen. And if you do, you brush yourself off and you get right back in there and try again, and again, and again. Once those nasties get that then they'll leave you alone.
And then there's always Twig. She's all about killing bugs and available by the hour.