On a hazy, 114-degree Friday afternoon—while hiding away in the house with blinds pulled and fans blowing on full-blast—one can still experience so much of life and learn a few lessons along the way. Here’s what I learned today:
A perfect Friday afternoon can be simple. It can mean work is slow, Netflix has a good limited series, and there’s plenty of Diet Coke in the fridge. #LetsRockThisSummer
Naps are sacred in our house…so when we were ALL awakened from a mid-afternoon nap only to discover that our mini American Eskimo had dragged a pigeon into the house for a late lunch buffet, the sacred silence was broken by maniacal, shrill barking. Certain “talking” breeds are not conducive to peace…or naps.
No vacuum is meant to handle pigeon feathers. It wasn’t pretty. Nothing more to add to this one.
Bonus learning: Always block the doggie door before any sleeping occasion—or you, too, could discover random wildlife in your home at the most unexpected time.
I’ve recently discovered that you can tell a whole lot about a person—and a family—simply by reaching your hand down into the side of their sofa and rooting around for treasure. Now, you have to be brave and reach really, really deep…like up to the elbow, so if there are kids OF ANY AGE in the home, say a little prayer and cross your fingers that there’s nothing alive in the crevices.
We Are a Clean People
I feel like I need to put that out there, because what I’m about to tell you might land us on an episode of Hoarders or, at a bare minimum, on some sort of shameful internet list mocking families who find pizza crust in weird places.
That being said, it’s become clear that the contents stuffed into the depths of your sofa can say a WHOLE LOT about what’s going on in the house. We have two teenage boys at home. Here’s are 3 things I found in our sofa today:
17 mismatched socks. Contrary to popular belief, we DO have a laundry room with a fully functioning washer and dryer. However, our teenage sons seem to have either forgotten its location and/or how to work the very complicated machines.
Miscellaneous snack wrappers and 3 plastic drink bottles. And a whole LOT of crumbs. I can’t adequately describe the sensation of reaching deep into the sofa only to have your fingernails impacted with stray (and likely weeks-old) crumbs that were left wholly for my enjoyment. It was a special moment.
4 dead batteries…and the wrapper from the new package of batteries. We could have zero food or drinks in this house, and as long as we have batteries, the boys would be happy. Especially in the summertime, batteries are the lifeblood of existence. Games must be powered at ALL times.
I have questions. So many questions.
When did our sofa turn into a trash can? And do my kids have some sort of disorder that prevents them from walking from the living room to the kitchen to throw away their trash? Should we see a physician about this troubling inability to…ummm…physically MOVE during the summer?
Is it wrong to throw all couch-debris into their beds? Can I volunteer them for some sort of neighborhood cleanup?
Mostly though…HOW LONG is this summer vacation going to last??
3 Totally (Not) Legit Reasons My Kid Flunked Geometry
Please note these are NOT legitimate reasons for failing any class, so this is me throwing the bullshit flag on my teenager. Yeah, I know, my kid is 15 and like totally cool, but here’s the thing:
Ain’t no trick he’s tryin’ to pull that I ain’t tried before.
(That’s me, Mom Dude, with my best gangster line. It’s usually good for an eyeroll or two.)
In other words, been there, done that. Know what’s worse than the boat my kid’s in? My mom was a teacher in the small high school where I attended. Most of the time, she knew how I did on tests before I did. Now, that’s rough.
Apparently (unbeknownst to me), my kid had it very rough time in geometry this school year. I had no idea! You’ll probably be shocked to read about the 3 things his teacher did that MADE him flunk the first semester…resulting in his attendance at summer school.
Shocking classroom incidents that led to my son getting BELOW a 50% for the first semester include:
The teacher graded all the packets—except for his. Of course he turned it in, he assured me. And he absolutely completed the entire packet. He had ZERO idea why the teacher might overlook his packet. Hmmmm… #Sus #ISmellARat
The teacher won’t put anything in the gradebook. So it just shows up as a zero, which is why his grade looks so low…but it really isn’t…it’s just that darned lazy teacher. #ItsGettingDeep
The teacher hasn’t given any extra credit yet. But, like, she totally does…that’s what everyone says, so if you just scrape together 500 extra points from the imaginary homework fairy, you might have a chance in hell of passing. #Reassuring
I don’t even know where to start. First of all what is WRONG with this teacher? What is she even DOING? I mean, aside from getting carpal tunnel from red-marking all the crappy, half-assed work that crosses her desk. Aside from that, what is she up to? Because…wow, she seems kinda lazy, right?
(Disclaimer: It’s unfortunate that this needs to be a disclaimer, but here goes. It must be said. In NO way do I think that my child’s teacher is lazy. I was being sarcastic.)
So, if your kid is in summer school—or just barely missed the distinction—be on the lookout for a few of the hidden signs. Is the teacher overlooking all the hard work your kid is putting in? Is your child a prodigy who merely forgets to put his name on ALL of his papers?
I’ve learned from my 15-year-old that there are so many ways one can fall through the cracks, so be alert, parents. Be alert.
I know. It’s not nearly as exciting as other types of wardrobe malfunctions that have made the news, but if you’re a creative who switches gears often throughout the day (or the hour), you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
You know that project, the one you’ve had in your head for weeks but just haven’t started? The one you’ve been plotting and scheming and planning? The storyline is built out in your head. You know the characters. But when you sit down to write, you end up shooting yourself in the foot. Why? Because you sat down wearing the wrong hat.
Wardrobe selection is key
Recently, I’ve gotten into a habit of trying to write creatively while wearing my editor and proofreader hats—and let me tell you how that works. I sit down, take a sip of my caffeinated beverage of choice, crack my knuckles, belt out a couple of paragraphs—and THEN (this is where things go awry), I go back and read them, rip them apart, and rewrite them. Over and over and over again.
When I’m wearing my editor hat, I may as well type in red ink, because my story will undoubtedly be massacred as soon as the letters hit the screen. When I write with my editor hat on, I’m acting as judge, jury, and executioner to any idea before it even hits the page, when really what I need to do is just get the story out.
The fixing can come later
This is not an anomaly for writers, by the way. We’re all guilty of it. We all have a LOT going on, and some days, it’s really, really hard to be 100% present. We live in a time when it’s heroic to multi-task, it’s admirable to have a completely booked calendar, it’s the norm to eat dinner in the car between extra-curricular events. And it’s not really surprising that it’s difficult to separate all the jobs we do on a day-to-day basis.
In lieu of driving myself stark raving mad, I’ve written job descriptions for some of the various hats I wear, which will, ideally, help keep me on track (and working productively toward my goals):
Editor Hat: This hat gives me complete freedom to rip apart, change, and update copy in order to benefit the brand or story I am representing. With a focus on mechanics, readability, and seamless messaging, I take a line-by-line view of the content I’m editing and offer suggestions for grammatical corrections, as well as clarifications for consistency and style. The nerdy, sentence-diagramming girl in me really LOVES this hat.)
Writer Hat: This is a flamboyant, creative, might-only-make-sense-to-me hat. It’s a wear-it-with-sweatpants hat or a dress-it-up hat or a write-on-a-park-bench hat. All of these are ok, because right now, I’m the only one who’s going to see a single word that made it onto my screen. Half sentences? Run-ons? Rambling thoughts? Everything goes! (Honestly, they’ll make me angsty, and it will take every ounce of willpower I have NOT to correct things, but this is exactly where they belong…in the writing and creating phase.) This is the get-it-out phase, the fast-and-furious phase of getting words and plotlines into some semblance of a story. Everything does NOT have to be perfect at this point.
Idea Generator Hat: This hat is a hot mess. It has feathers and sequins with a dusting of glitter. It has a little bit of felt mixed with satin and wool, topped off with a glued-on band that’s partially falling off. It’s pretty much a hodge-podge of everything—an anything-goes hat. If an idea crosses my mind, it goes into the book or onto the list or wherever I’m keeping the latest compendium of evil plotlines. Absolutely NO editing or writing should happen with this hat. It’s a collecting hat of out-of-this-world ideas and what-if concepts. No correcting allowed.
Not Creating Right Now Hat: This could be the Mom Hat, the Family Hat, the Netflix Hat, the Shopping Hat…you get it. It’s the Don’t-Expect-Creative-Output Hat, the one that indicates it’s time to pay attention to other things and be fully present in equally important stuff that is NOT related to writing. (GASP?! What?) This hat’s pretty cool because it delivers a VERY necessary brain break—and it reminds you that it’s important to focus on all the really awesome LIFE stuff. BONUS: All that life stuff is what inspires our really awesome stories.
I’m hopeful that by choosing the correct hat for the task at hand, I can keep ME from sabbotaging myself! Very often writers find themselves going backwards in the middle of the creative process because they’re focused on the tiniest details of grammar and story construct, when really, what should come first are their personal insights, feelings, and learnings. Grammar and construct can be refined anytime, anywhere. Experience, nuance, and story are much more difficult to reconstruct.
Choose your hat
No more self-sabbotage for writers. More self-confidence. More finishing; fewer excuses. More moving foward; never backward. More confindence and pride in hard work. More excitement to begin again. More learning and listening. MORE CREATING.
Your hat—at any given moment—defines who you are, what’s important to you, and what you’re working toward. So, don your chapeau, author…it’s gonna be a helluva ride!