Polly and Dolores: Ode to My Inbox.


Years ago, I read an interview with Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park. His day began with straightening papers, stacking books, sharpening pencils.

If his desktop was a mess, so was his writing life.

I’m sort of the same. Before I can settle in to write, I require a neat, dust-free, pretty work environment, whether I’m sitting at my desk, the dining room table, in bed, or on the patio. The patio is especially dangerous because if my eye spots a weed or a plant begging for water, it may be sunset before I recall that once again (sigh) I’ve succumbed to the demon on my shoulder and the monkey on my back.

I’ve even named them, we’re so intimately acquainted.

Meet Polly Procrastination and Dolores Denial.

Obviously, I chose the names for the alliteration. So imagine my stupefaction when I researched the derivation of the name Polly and learned it means ‘great sorrow’, as does Dolores. How perfect is that? Nothing, nothing, nothing makes me more sorrowful, deflated, discouraged, and — as my partner can attest — flat-out bitchy than an unproductive writing day.

One way I exorcise P & D is to bribe my neat freak and warm up my muse. I open my inbox.

I organize podcasts and blogs for later viewing, delete chaff, then do a high dive into the sea of nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and articles awaiting formation into this essay or that poem by answering emails. A clean inbox not only feels good and productive, like scrubbing the ring out of a toilet bowl, it clears the wax out of my ears. I better hear my muse’s whisper. I open wider to flow.

Or so I claim.

Maybe it’s actually P & D making a last stand.

More than likely, it’s both. Mystics call this holding the tension. I call it embracing and over or. I accept that a thing, person, situation is good and bad, right and wrong, beautiful and not-so-beautiful, redeemed and lost, yin and yang.

My epiphany occurred while driving in a summer storm. Thunder boomed. Lightning crackled. The windshield wipers were a blur. I stopped at an intersection and, voila! just across the street, saw dry pavement and blue skies.

On one side of the street, Polly waves. My muse waves from the other. I’m the traffic light. I decide what color I’ll project, whether my heart and spirit signal stop, go, or proceed with caution.

Like most of humanity, I’ve been on lockdown during the pandemic. So, too, is my wallet. Thanks to a move, rent for me and my partner has nearly doubled. Even before the virus, we were eating out less, attending fewer events, and thinking twice before making a purchase.

The last option is particularly hard for me. I adore retail therapy, and it haunts me that smaller businesses now need my patronage more than ever. Nevertheless, I resolutely delete ads and offers. The other day, however, I scudded to a halt between Travelzoo and Macy’s.

On one side of the intersection, a deluge of emails continued to pour into my inbox. The other side was flooded with light. The proverbial lightbulb — galaxies of them, actually — had turned on. 5500 lumens per bulb, all illuminating one point:

My soul’s inbox needed deleting, organizing, and responding to every bit as much as Google’s. It was time to tackle not only Polly and Dolores, but all the demons that cost me — Blame, Insecurity, Resentment, Envy, Ungratefulness, Greed.

Granted, these demons are no more deletable with a click or the press of a key than Polly and Dolores are. They’re tough foes. The Bermuda grass or devil grass in the nasturtiums. I yank, I dig, I’m certain they’re vanquished… then, WTF, they’re back.

{Photo credit: Jenine Baines}

Organic Growers School calls Bermuda grass “a gardener’s nightmare” with roots that extend to China.

{Photo credit: Jenine Baines}

It’s a great image. But I now choose to view my inner devil grass as an opportunity. I will cultivate holding the tension.

{Fenced in and free. Photo credit: Jenine Baines}

Of course, I’d love my heart to be a pristine bed of thorn-free roses, but let’s get real. That ain’t happening. Last I checked, I can’t walk on water.

Here’s a shout-out to imperfection. To my imperfect weeding of my imperfect garden, yet being perfectly content to try.

{Sagging but still trying. Source}

Ode to My Inbox

I’m making do with less these days.
My rent has soared,
and I’d like my spiritual growth to follow suit.

When I’m flat on my face, do un-scuffed boots
help me walk taller?
Does a pretty new porcelain mug make rejection
easier to swallow?

Will a V-necked dress reveal more inner beauty,
designer handbags help me hold on,

or a shiny, sharp trowel penetrate
strata of resistance?

I select. I delete,
praying a rosary of deliverance from promotions.

Oh, to unsubscribe from unsolicited challenges
and changes.
From sagging jowls, sagging strength,
sagging belief in myself, others, God.
From escalating pain in my joints and heart.

Still, none of this need block me
from selecting
the overlooked box within my spirit — openable
with deepening, dredging breaths

on a whim,
in desperation or celebration;
linking me to the mockingbird
outside my window

as the ceiling fan sings,
and I make do with more.


{Join us on FacebookTwitterInstagram & Pinterest}


Jenine Baines

Jenine Baines

Jenine Baines is a retired publicist who’s replaced press releases with poetry and plants. Eventually, it dawned on her that a book of essays -- An Archaeologist in the Garden: Excavating Lessons on Blooming from the Dirt -- was germinating as she weeded, amended soil, and planted to terraform the blight called a back garden at the funky little rental house in LA she shares with her partner.
Jenine Baines
Jenine Baines