POETRY November 5, 2021

Why I Wake Up in the Dark to Accomplish All the Tasks in My Morning Routine

1.

I don’t like to discriminate against any self-improvement strategy. What if the one I drop turns out to have been the one I truly need?

2.

If I wait till everyone wakes up, they distract me while I’m meditating.

Instead, I roll first thing onto the rag rug next to my bed, lean against my mattress, and say my mantra over and over. But I get distracted anyway, wondering whether I should give my daughter back her phone. How will she keep friends now that we’ve locked down her social media?

I want to ask my meditation teacher for guidance, but I access him only through pre-recorded videos. I paid $69.99 for a year’s subscription to his app.

3.

I need to make mood-boosting foods for my daughter.

According to WebMD, it’s easier to face the world when your spirits are high. She kept leaving her yogurt with dark chocolate and blueberries untouched, so now I pepper the house with ramekins of sunflower seeds, hardboiled eggs, and bananas sliced in small circles.

Take it easy, my meditation teacher says. Trying is prohibited.

Don’t get me wrong. We keep cookies in the house too—pink and white frosted elephants with sprinkles.

4.

Podcasts have ruined socializing for me.

I used to walk the bridge loop with my across-the-street neighbor after dinner, but now I go by myself before work. The hosts of my show have charming banter, their awkward pauses edited out.

I like the way one of my hosts prefaces his stories with, I’m a codependent addict. As in, I’m a codependent addict, so I need to take care of everyone or I’m a codependent addict, so I get mad when people aren’t happy.

5.

I typically try to eat enough circus animal cookies that my daughter will have fewer left to binge on, but not so many that she opens another bag. About twelve.

6.

My only real addiction is urban paranormal fantasy novels.

Some nights, I stay up reading until my alarm goes off. I like the way I don’t lie awake wondering whether we’ve left out anything my daughter could use to harm herself. I know we got the prescription meds and the knives, but did we leave out any nail clippers?

Instead, I stay wrapped up in the battle between the shapeshifters who want to integrate with humans and those who would keep themselves in exile.

7.

My daughter keeps asking whether we can move somewhere new and start over.

I just think I need a better environment, she says. I’ve already let her switch high schools twice.

At the second school, she found an upstairs bathroom overlooking the baseball field. She’d lean on the windowsill and call me. Can you pick me up? she’d ask. I don’t want to be here.

I can’t, baby. I have a meeting, I’d say, by which I meant, I can’t keep helping you hide from life.

I’d sit at my desk with my eyes closed and listen to her breathe.

Still, I like the way the coyote mechanic grows more and more into herself with each sequel.

8.

I freewrite every morning, leaving my worries on the page instead of carrying them in my head. I’m supposed to do three pages. I’m trying to set myself up for success, so I’ve switched to a smaller journal.

9.

I want my daughter to benefit from what I’ve learned. I keep writing morning routines for her on yellow cardstock in faux calligraphy. I leave them on her pillow before she wakes up.

Get fully dressed
Brush hair, teeth
Make bed
Go outside
Let sun shine on face

10.

Tonight I noticed one of my cards taped to the back of her closet door.

Don’t push the river, my teacher says.

LINA HERMAN lives in California where she writes poetry and short prose. Her work is forthcoming in New Ohio Review.