It is said that when Golda Meir, the fourth prime minister of the nascent nation of Israel, had something on her mind, she’d spend hours polishing her silver teapot. I doubt that the pot looked like this one, but I bet it was just as shiny. Being prime minister can deliver some hefty problems to a person’s shoulders. Rubbing a teapot is a mindless activity, almost hypnotic and soothing, freeing the mind to explore problems and their solutions.
Lately, I’ve found that rubbing the alcohol pad on my PICC line’s port has the same effect. I’m only supposed to do it for a few seconds before shooting the saline or Heparin into my vein, but I find myself comforted by the motion, and I keep rubbing until whatever my mind is working on is settled. Fortunately it doesn’t take hours–my problems aren’t as heavy as Golda’s. Mine are a writer’s challenges. How can I bring this scene to life? How can I introduce this character? How can I infuse tension into this chapter? Rub. Rub. Rub.
When they remove the PICC line, I’m going to have to buy a silver teapot.
People have different ways of mulling things over. One friend says she uses her walk to the mailbox–which apparently is quite a distance from her front door–to work out problems. Washing dishes by hand always works. Vacuuming. Dusting. Even scrubbing out the tub. All that sounds too much like work, but it’s mindless and perfect for settling plot problems. Still, there’s only so many times you can clean a house.
When I’m not rubbing my port, I’m staring out the window, as if all the answers I need are out there. Of course, they’re not–they’re in my head. Dialogue. Action. Poignant scenes toned down from melodramatic to just the right degree of tear-jerkiness. I mull them all over as I watch bluebirds winging from the oak to the elm or follow the chase of the squirrels across the lawn.
What do you do? What’s your teapot?