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I don’t think of myself as superstitious, I guess, but what with the whole bathrobe situation I’m having to rethink that theory.

Lately I have been eying my ratty old bathrobe with disdain. It is red fleece and very cozy, but pilling all over and going a bit black at the cuffs, and I’m afraid the insides of the pockets have not fared well from years of used kleenexes being stuffed inside of them. So when recently my mother-in-law, who is a ninja of birthday gift-giving, bestowed upon my lucky self a Gap gift certificate, I happily counted among my purchases a new bathrobe.

This sleek new model is pale gray and t-shirty. Donning it post-shower this morning felt like walking into a recently painted or rearranged room — the same, but different. Fresher. Cleaner. It’s the thinner, younger spouse to the frazzled, frumpy ex of my old bathrobe. Not quite as cozy, but cool and smooth all over.

Of course, due the Rule of Apartment Dwelling, something has to go. Something comes in, something goes out — that‘s how it works, I believe, in a small space with limited closets. My husband has serious pack-rat tendencies which I am always telling him just won’t do. “You don’t need these slippers just because they were the first thing you ever bought in New York! Don’t be ridiculous!” I’ll say, unsentimentally flinging the disintegrated items in question into a trash bag along with letters and cards from loved ones, as he sighs mournfully. So naturally I didn’t think I’d flinch as I held the ratty red bathrobe in a stranglehold over the trash.

Reader, I couldn’t do it.

Now, this might not seem relevant, but bear with me a moment: When I was writing my first novel I acquired certain habits that I followed somewhat obsessively. I wrote in the mornings before work, dragging myself from bed at 5:30. Even though the writing of the book happened over many changes of season, I seem to remember every writing morning as a winter one — dark and cold and incredibly quiet. I would make a cup of tea or coffee. I would go into my office, turn on my computer, sit at the desk, and write until 8 am, when I showered and got ready for work — showering or getting dressed and THEN trying to write seemed insane and impossible, like suddenly trying to be left-handed. On my desk, crucially, there was only a lamp, laptop, and glass globe of sand. (Once I removed the globe of sand and had to replace it within a day or two.) And all this time, yes, I was wearing the red bath robe.

Lately, somewhat stalled a few hundred pages in to my newest project, I haven’t been so productive. For many reasons, not the least of which being the morning sickness and exhaustion that came with my first trimester of my first pregnancy, I have (temporarily, I hope) abandoned the early morning routine. I miss it. I miss writing every day. I miss having that exciting, creative, sometimes infuriating, sometimes satisfying time each day before going on to work and normal life. I feel confused and potentially panicked about the progress of this next book, or whatever it is.

So this morning, as I stared at my disgusting old robe, I suddenly wondered whether this little lapse in productivity hasn’t been about being pregnantly mush-brained, or about being distracted by my book coming out, or about the new project really being several hundred pages of worthless crap, or any of those other, sensible excuses. Maybe it’s because I’ve been avoiding my robe. Maybe if I get rid of this robe I will never write again!

Who knows where the weird alchemy of creativity lies, but one thing I know for sure is that — shh! — I’m breaking the Rule of Apartment Dwelling, and keeping the robe. For now maybe I can cut myself some slack. I’ll get back to the new book at some point. In the meantime, the red robe can live draped over my office chair, like a writerly cape, just in case I need it.

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Amy Shearn AMY SHEARN is the author of the novel How Far Is the Ocean from Here. She lives in Brooklyn with a husband, a baby, and a dog. Visit her online at amyshearn.com.

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