Wednesday

...a whirl of fantasy

My aunt’s question was innocent, “So, when are you going to write a book?

It was New Year’s Eve and she and I were standing body to body in a festive crush of family. This is the day that is officially recognized as National Delusion (Resolution) Day, so I’m not totally responsible for my flippant answer, “Oh, I have one started."

Heads swiveled as forks halted midway from plate to mouth, or mouth to plate, and all eyes looked center stage.

In the lull, I heard repeated, “…writing a book, she’s writing a book.” Suddenly there I was, caught with no way to back out and no way to blame the children or the husband. This was bigger than baby or wedding announcements! It was exciting. It was crazy!

And it would best be ignored.

The memories of our youth seeped back into my siblings’ brains and they remembered that it was me talking—me, the master storyteller—the drama diva, and their collective attention flowed back to the buffet table.

Shocked by the full weight of what my mouth had just blurted out, I stumbled backward and dropped into an overstuffed chair that squirmed with children—while I waited for the familiar surge of regret.

Food and family are always a deadly combination for me, but over the years I thought I had mastered the technique of speaking fluently around my speech impediment—one foot firmly inserted.

I mumbled a clarification, “I have some stuff written, already,” and then a half-hearted retraction, “I’ve just been too busy to put it together,” but it was too late. I had been replaced as the court jester by two-year old cousins who, perched together on a stool, were elbow deep in the dessert.

I have tried for years to assure the family that random blood testing is unnecessary—that my ebullient enthusiasm is not artificially induced. I only wish I could blame artificial stimulants for this last lapse of propriety and good sense.

I had the eerie feeling from the moment the words left my mouth that I had pitched headlong into a mid-life puddle of something that would be so much messier than a sportier car or a younger spouse. The light-hearted swirl of verbal recklessness hit the surface of the stagnant pond that was my life and demonstrated how loose lips can sink ships.

Back at the New Year’s party, my brain returned to my twirling body sitting askew amid tickling children. I feigned an outward calm, but another unhealthy personality trait surfaced and made me decide, “That’s it! I’ve said it and I’m doing it! I am writing a book!”

Reality Bite: Stubbornness is motivation. It should be a virtue.

Sunday

...weird but wonderful


     The whole point of this book can be summed up in this one essay.  I am unique, just like everyone else and I have found that through forthright examination of my/our pecularities, I/we can find unaminity in purpose and understanding---if for no other reason than to elicit laughs.  

Dear Me,
When I’m asked by a form-filler-outer to state my occupation, I say, “I’m an enigma.”  
“Oh,” they respond, “Could you spell that?”  It's Me, T. 

     I’ve never been comfortable with the title of soccer mom, domestic engineer or goddess, because all those titles suggest a perfectionist slant that I don't have time for and while some would insist I'm a homemaker, I would have to insist that's a baldface lie and stay-at-home really means hardly-ever-stays-at-home-Mom. The fact is that I defy explaination and now when I mutter the newest title, alternate schooler,  I expect someone to show up at the door to review my credentials and revoke me entirely.   
Hippie Flowers. jpg - big, flowers, kolorful, bright


What it is that I do is cook, garden, repair, sew, mud walls, paint, make bread, craft, remodel, collect bugs and I delight in making my children do all of those things—which makes me an oddity. Forty years ago, the term would have been “hippy,” now it's unfocused pinterest junkie.  


Wallpaper in my Mom's kitchen growing up.  Must have molded me somehow.


I’m happy to settle for the word enigma.  I suspect that most people are enigmatic and deeply interesting, but we all just muddle along striving to fit in and to appear on the surface as if we live homogeneous lives like everyone else.  

I'm outted.  I admit it, I'm an adventurer.  I beam with delight when I hear the words, “Why are you doing that?” or “I didn’t know people did that anymore,” because deep down in some part of me, I enjoy being inscrutable.[1]   I'm struggling to dump those remaining bits and pieces of the matching set of teen baggage—the pubescent paradox that seeks to be different while struggling desperately to fit in, and I have decided to get comfortable in my skin and become my authentic self.   

Just the other day, one of my neighbors made the "you're inscrutable[2]" comment, and then followed it with, “Why are you doing that?” when she dropped by and I was attempting to quilt.  I had material and padding stretched in between frames that were placed strategically over the couch and between the end tables and television, and I was crawling over and under the maze, tying it all up with yarn. She said, “People don’t do that anymore,” and I hoped she meant it in admiration, “…because they don’t know how,”  as I’d like to be an innovator rather than a relic. 

I’m from pioneer stock and that fact makes conformity difficult.  I'm constantly beating down my yearning for challenge and therefore I camp (begrudgingly), hike (accidentally), fish (badly), preserve food, and cook in Dutch ovens (in desperation, when all the other pots are dirty).  Although I sew, cook and grind my own flour, I’m too young to be an artifact so that makes me an enigma—which really means inscrutable[3] .  

It does make for interesting and amusing conversation at most dinner parties. [4] 

Dear Me, 
Today the doctor wanted to know what "I did." 

"For a profession?" I asked, knowing full well she was trying to understand why I had attempted my own medical procedure before I went into her.

"Yes, what is it that you do?"  

I answer, "I am an enigma." 

I'm effecting a personal mystique because it only seems fair that if I haven’t yet defined who I am or what I’m doing, then no one else should figure me out before I do! 

 Reality Bite: My children are just grateful that different, for me, doesn’t mean headbands, fringe, experimental drugs and psychedelic hose.




[1] I had to look it up too.  It means difficult to understand.  Use it twice more today.  I plan to. 
[2] Twice,
[3] Thrice,  Did it!
[4] More about intriguing conversations at dinner parties later … I’ve lost track of where and when.  

Friday

…a stealthy start

Life turns into a covert operation when you have a partner who is attuned to your every inclination.

When the urge to start something new creeps over me, I have to keep it top-secret—can’t even allow the idea to escape my brain or my husband will intercept and intercede. And that is where long-distance business travel has its benefits.

While he is gone, I plan, research and then I advance the new project to an irretrievable condition. And upon his return, I enlist him to rally the troops and put every able body to work repairing my extreme demolition.

To me,
…unfortunately, the innocuous dust in the windowsill led my eye right to a crack in the wall. Was it foundation problems? No. Water damage? No.


Termites! Yup, an infestation in the whole front wall. So we replace six studs, and the window header, but the whole process of rebuilding a wall means there will be some ceiling damage and if while repairing a ceiling one discovers asbestos in the popcorn throughout the whole first floor... well?

While in the middle of that, one may as well install new can lights in the kitchen, which brings to light that fact that the cabinets are overdue for a re-glazing, and while we're in the mess, we might as well finish the job and repaint the kitchen.

Finally, a year later, we're finished with the termite project but he's in New York today and I'm thinking that french doors to the back yard...
So I’m a starter and my husband, much to his chagrin, is the project finisher. I give him the credit because he completes the big things: The new addition, the front window, the wallboard, the molding, the bathroom faucets, and yes, all of the painting because all of those little details take more that I have patience for.

He doesn't know I’m writing a book, but the scent of a new project is in the air. When the dust on the furniture reaches his armpits, he'll know it’s the dawn of the newest venture. Right up front, he’ll want to know about his part in this new endeavor and my response will be, “Just be there for me when the dust hits the fan, as usual.”



Reality Bite: He is the wind beneath my…

Wednesday

…just do it


My book notes:
I can use those three words, “Just Do It” and stay within the parameters of the intellectual domain laws of copyright, as long as I don’t revise the original intent, don’t use it in a contra-indicated manner or product and throw in a plug for Nike.[1] [2]

Writing a book can’t be that difficult. I’m up to the challenge. If you walk into my house on any given day, you may find a wall bashed out and a stack of home improvement books on the counter. Chalk it up to genetics. My great-grandmother did it. She bashed out a wall and the next day when her husband came home, she said, “I’m putting it back. We’re having company.”

I didn’t hear about Grandma Pearl until after I’d bashed out my first wall. The father told me her story as he tilted back on two legs of a kitchen chair, drummed his fingers on the tabletop and surveyed my handiwork. He then asked the big question, “So, was the wall load-bearing?”

“Load-bearing?” I ask, “What’s that?”

Dear Me,
I smashed out the back wall of my closet this morning. From the outside, it looked like the wall extended four feet and who doesn’t need more feet in their closet?
Wish me luck. T.

Thank goodness dumb animals are watched over, for I am the beneficiary often. The house didn’t fall down and the kitchen was remodeled! It was finished after waiting for eight years because I did it! I started! Where would the world be if someone didn’t start? Everybody would be running around saying, “Wow, if we could only…” and “When this happens, won’t it be great?”

Again, it's me,
It doesn’t…extend. That part of the wall is where the builders put all the utility wiring, the vent for the sewer and other important yet immoveable objects. So this afternoon, I’m putting the wall back and installing a mirror instead.  Still working for the illusion of space…it’s all in the mind. And the husband agrees that I am out of mine. Whee, T,

Great things must begin somewhere and the world’s greatest starters are people willing to tear off wallpaper, break out walls, pull the plumbing, dig up the swimming pool or write a book.

Reality Bite: Just strip it to the studs and begin.[3]

[1] Legalize aside—because I want to use these three words in my book, I have to include the aforementioned dull and boring paragraph. If you ever use these words, you must do it too, so memorize it!
[2] Note to self: Investigate product endorsement.

[3] Dad again, the bona fide contractor.

Monday

…suspicious beginnings

To Me,
The book is coming along great. The working title is, "Trust Me, I’m not as Psychotic as I Sound." Hugs, Me, Myself and I


I'm starting! I'm writing a book!  I bundle up the children and head to the library. In the children's section I drop the youngest at storytime, arm the second with comics and set the oldest on guard with fantasy. The clock is ticking and before the librarian’s patience grenade explodes, I must make some important strides on the path to book writing.

First things first, I proceed to reference section 808 and denude it of every worthy book on writing. I stagger with my burden to the teen section. If I can ignore the clack of computers and vacuous stares, this area of the library always provides ample reading space and really soft chairs, and so it begins.

Each book about writing books is, by virtue of itself, tangible evidence that its concepts were successful—at least once anyway. I read each book front to back, or rather front and back, and from the fly leaf and teasers, I discovered an element of writing that was so daunting that I slammed the books shut with the discovery!

There is a book conspiracy 
[1] intended to weed out the weak-hearted right at the onset! I read: “Only the most persistent writer, willing to hurdle this first obstacle can ever hope to develop the tenacity necessary to surmount the inherent challenges of writing. The initial, yet vital task that must be undertaken preparatory to…”

My mind wanders, imagining the possibility of being bored unto death and I struggle to rouse my faculties and get right back to… what was that obstacle?

Reality Bite: Librarians frown on snoring.


[1] Created  by publishers who are buried under stacks of bad book submissions?

…disorder in the fort

Hi, It’s me again,
A sedentary opportunity is a terrible thing to waste. So here, hidden in the bathroom I relax; just wait, it won't be but two minutes and something or someone will intrude and re-motivate me. T

In life there are those busy moments when all parts of life begin to slip dangerously out of control, and that’s when my PPP-MO, passion for perfect placement—meticulous organization, can sway dangerously close to unhealthy obsession.  

It is in those moments of supreme chaos that the sight of an organized underwear drawer comforts and affirms to my conflicted soul that someone, somewhere is in charge of something and all is right with the world.

As the drawer slides open and the nice, polite rolls of order come into view, I am assured that indeed, I am the bureau chief… and I wonder if those in Washington feel as empowered by this power as I?

I know it’s risky to connect self-affirmation to the state of one’s underwear, but mothers have been doing it for centuries. They've credited all kinds of mythical powers to clean underwear and in this moment, that is my delusion de jour.[3]

It is in this moment of calm reassurance that sanity rears it's ugly head and I remind myself that the warning sign of a truly futile existence is a sorted plastic wrap drawer.[1] Any person who spends an inordinate amount of time on the fruitless enterprise of organization must be one tree short of an orchard and a half-bubble off plumb...[2]

Hey me,
I sorted Legos[4] today. I retreated to the bedroom and sat hunched over, dividing Legos by color and size. It’s been another of those nasty weeks. Nothing specifically happened that drove me to the Lego pile. Yet for supreme serenity, there are very few absolutions that beat the calming power of Legos…

I have felt the draw of the drawer—that small, superficial satisfaction that can be found in organization. I must admit that there are times when I enjoy a house of order, but the urge to purge can become dangerously addictive, like the last time I raked and fumigated the son’s bedroom. Wielding that much power is heady stuff, not brought on by the smell alone!

Reality Bite: May the force be with me.

[1] Mangled from a quote by Kate Capshaw.
[2] Still related to fruit, right?
[3] means of the day…or maybe with ice cream, either works.

[4] More free advertising… will somebody pay me, please?

Book style notes to self:  footnotes will be numbered however.