Inner Critic

The number one thing people told me we needed to do when Al retired was have two television sets. I immediately saw the wisdom in this. Al loves sports and I do not. So by Big Game day, we were all set. Not only had we purchased a new television for Al, but a new recliner, too.

So Al reclined in comfort while I watched Sanditon, Taylor Swift’s documentary, and two Grace and Frankie episodes in the guest room. Perfect. Al seems to really be enjoying his retirement and I get a kick out of this new laid back husband. Everything would be perfect if only my inner critic would shut up.

Most writers have some acquaintance with the inner critic. I used to shut mine up with chocolate, but now I have to watch my sugar. So, I need a new coping mechanism. Meanwhile, my inner critic laughs in glee, remarking that writing about retirement is not quite the riveting subject I had stupidly presumed would provide fodder for many a post to come.

I have a writer’s group here in Florida. I don’t say much about them because we have all agreed not to discuss anything said in the library where we meet. I am going to bend that rule a little bit because I don’t know how else to say what comes next. One woman wrote in present tense. It turned out really well, we all loved it, but then we all love everything she writes.

I was having one of those rare moments of hubris when I proclaimed “I don’t know what I’ll write next week, but whatever it is, I will write it in present tense!” That was three days ago and I have not been able to stop thinking about it and trying out sentences. My inner critic hates every single one of them. I even tried to write this post in present tense. How hard could it be?

Very. So while retirement continues to flow harmoniously, the writing has hit a speed bump. It’s not like I’m blocked. I can always write. But never have I ever had to use the backspace like I’ve done this morning. That’s fine. I love a challenge. I thought Al’s retirement would be a challenge, but no, it’s wonderful in every possible way.

I can feel myself about to do something reckless here. I’m not only going to write the group pages in present tense, I am going to post them here one week from today. And that is how to shut the inner critic up. For now.

Alone Together


Everybody who lives with a sports fan but is not one herself needs a room of her own. Sometimes, it might even save a marriage, because when one person in the house takes over the main space without regard to the other, and the other just lets it be, resentment might simmer. Not mentioning any names:)

But, if you’re older and your powers of concentration aren’t what they used to be and you have a guest room that hardly ever gets used…there may be an alternative to simmering resentment. Through the years, I have lost the ability to tune out sports. Used to be able to read and just have whatever game Al was watching going on in background. (I can still do golf, as the fans and announcers are so nice and quiet:)

My thinking was, hey, at least we’re in the same room. It kind of seemed romantic to me at the time, because we don’t have a ton in common, like he doesn’t read novels and I don’t watch sports, and I read novels all the time and he seems to spend about an equal amount of time watching sports, so if we can do our separate things together, we’re good.

Except. Something happened since we moved. I can’t focus on the page anymore while he’s got The Game on. And The Game is always on. Sometimes it’s a switch from one game to another. Crazy! At first, I tried reading in bed, but I’d fall asleep too early. Then I tried my office, but that’s for, you know, work.

I don’t have a comfy reading space there. I check papers there. I write blog posts there. I organize plots and things. But I don’t curl up with a good book. Or for that matter a television program, like Elementary  or Castle or Masterpiece. I like story television. Al … not so much. He likes Nashville and The Blacklist, so whew, at least we have a tiny bit in common there. Last night we watched Bones and while he got points for only checking the hockey scores during commercials, he annoyed me slightly by saying non-addict things like “Sweets is DEAD?” and “Booth was in PRISON?”

I know lots of people have televisions in their bedrooms but we don’t. And I really don’t want one in there. It’s a personal choice. We used to have one, but he’d always fall asleep, you guessed it, with sports on. So there’s been a ban on television in the bedroom for at least a decade.

We do have other television sets, one in a rarely used guest room upstairs. Which got me thinking…and that always leads to trouble. In this case, Al was totally against me fixing up a Sports Free Zone. Because I have LOTS of ideas. I wanted to take that hutch off the dresser and put it in the basement. (“It cost an extra $1000 for that hutch!”) I wanted to get rid of the black and glass television console and put the television on the tallboy. (“It’s a perfectly good television stand.” “Takes up too much space. Not feng shui.”) And I wanted the old end table beside the bed swapped out for a lovely bookshelf we were not even using.

So we did all that and then he tried to hook up the cable. Oh-oh. Time to update the old cable box. Also the lamp needs to be replaced. And the hutch had the mirror, so I needed a new one. Plus a few other things. You can see where all this is going, right?

$$$ + Time = Unhappy Man

But finally he has given in, as he always does when I really want something, and I’m working on my Sports Free Zone. I listened to music in there the other night. Still no cable, but soon. He’s trying to “fix” the old one in the meantime. Marriage is all about compromise. I’m getting my new space, and that’s what matters.

Bonus I had not considered: by using the room, I’m finding ways to make it more comfy for Tim and Alicia when they arrive on Christmas Eve. It is going to be perfect! For them and for me.