Tuesday, December 29, 2009

If You Give a Mom a Project

This post is inspired by the children's book, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," and my good friend, Catherine Denton, who always said this would make a good post.

If you give a mom a project during Christmas break, she will pick the bedroom closet. She will pull everything out of it first thing in the morning while the kids are watching TV in order to organize it.

After she gets the closet empty, the kids will start to ask for breakfast, so she will head to kitchen in her pajamas to pour them a bowl of cereal.

When she opens the refrigerator to get out the milk, she will notice the sausage links she bought the day before and think pancakes would be really good with sausage.

So she will mix up the batter and pour a pancake into the skillet. While breakfast is cooking, she will decide to check her email.

When she checks her email, she will remember the blog she started the night before and decide to finish it. Pictures would be good with the post, she thinks, so she does an Internet search for clip art.

While searching the Internet for clip art, she will smell burning pancakes and remember breakfast, which she will narrowly save.

After breakfast she will tell the children to get dressed and decide she should get dressed herself. She will put on clothes and go to the bathroom to wash her face.

When she washes her face in the bathroom sink, she will notice the sink needs cleaning and grab a disinfectant wipe to clean it.

Once the sink is clean, she will see that there is still plenty of usable solution left on the wipe and will not want to throw a half used wipe away, so she will wipe down the bathroom cabinets.

When she wipes down the cabinets, she will notice the bathroom trash needs to be taken out. And since she is taking the bathroom trash, she may as well take the kitchen trash.

And if she's going to take the kitchen trash, she should check the fridge for old leftovers to go out with it. When she opens the refrigerator door, she will see the box of chocolate covered cherries she gave her husband for Christmas and will eat one.

"A cup of coffee would be good with this," she will think, so she will pour herself a cup with sugar and milk and decide to drink it with the new decorating magazine her neighbor gave to her.

After she reads the magazine and drinks her coffee, she will put the milk back in the fridge and remember that she was supposed to clean out the old leftovers. She will notice the juice spill in the bottom of the fridge left there the week before by her five-year-old. So she will decide to clean the spill. And if she is going to clean the spill, she might as well wipe down the shelves, too.

After she cleans the refrigerator shelves and throws away all the old food, her sink will be full of dishes from the old leftovers and breakfast and she will want to load the dishwasher.

But before she can load the dishwasher, she must unload the clean dishes from the day before, so she starts to unload. When she opens her cabinet door to put away the clean dishes, the Tupperware lids will come falling out on top of her, and she will realize she needs to organize the kitchen cabinets.

While she is organizing the cabinets, the children will come into the kitchen asking for lunch, and she will have to stop what she is doing to feed them. And of course, the five-year-old's favorite Tinkerbell cup with the curly straw will be dirty because the dishwasher is still full, and she will cry, and the mom will have to wash it by hand before she can make lunch.

After lunch, the sink will be overflowing with dishes and the mom will need a bathroom break because of the coffee she had earlier, so she will go to the bathroom before tackling the growing kitchen catastrophe.

When she goes to the bathroom, she will look in the mirror and notice her eyebrows need plucking, so she will grab the tweezers and set to work.

Tweezing her eyebrows will remind her of putting on makeup, and putting on makeup will remind her of the date she is supposed to go on with her husband that night. She will remember she needs to call the sitter and confirm a time for her to come over to watch the kids, so she will reach into her pants pocket for her phone.

Her phone will not be there, and she will remember she left it charging in her bedroom, so she will go to her bedroom to get it. When she picks up her phone, she will see she has four messages from her husband.

After spending twenty minutes texting back and forth to her husband, she will look around and notice the contents of her closet are still lying all over the floor, so she will decide to get back to work on her project.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Revelations at 2 AM

It's 2 a.m. and I am awakened by the involuntary conjugating of Spanish verbs in my head.

hice, hiciste, hicio, hicamos...

I wish I could say the conjugations were correct, but at 2 a.m. it's hard to tell. It's really more of a mixture of stems and roots floating around up there. Also, at 2 a.m. it is difficult to make your verb tenses agree, even in English, hence the reason I used the present tense in the first sentence above and the past tense in the third.

But enough about grammar. I can't sleep. It could be the spontaneous conjugation. It could be the three cups of coffee and a Diet Dr. Pepper I had yesterday. Or it could be this looming, pressing need I feel to make a plan for my life.

Yeah, maybe that.

In a year, give or take, I will have completed my BA in Creative Writing that I began four years ago. Four years I've been doing this. Four years I've been writing research papers while cooking dinner. Four years I've been getting up early, before the kids wake up, to read material that sometimes makes me want to go back to bed. Four years I've been taking an hour bus ride to sit in classes with young adults who make me feel wise and ignorant all at once. And when it's all said and done, the grand total will be five years.

Then what?

Then I will return to my life as a stay-at-home mom and write a wildly successful novel, along with an uber-popular blog that will skyrocket me to the top of the literary ladder, followed by a book of short stories, and maybe even a poem or two, just to keep me creatively sharp. And this will be achieved while getting all those things done around the house that I never had time to do before because of school, of course.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Except, how many wildly successful novelists do you know? I mean, personally know. Like, have them programmed into the list of contacts in your phone.

Yeah, that's what I thought.

See, I have professors who have published several books. My Poetry Writing teacher is a nationally recognized poet. One of her books won the National Book Award. Just to give you a point of reference, other NBA winners include Alice Walker, Eudora Welty and Cormac McCarthy. So, I'm not talking about total schleps and wannabes here. These people have at least some measure of talent and ability. Yet they also have "day jobs", because unfortunately, talent don't pay the bills.

The truth is, even some of the most renowned literary geniuses in the world never knew success in their lifetime. The pinnacle of their careers was reached posthumously.

Emily Dickinson
Zora Neale Hurston
Jane Austen
Sylvia Plath
Ralph Ellison

People, Van Gogh only sold one painting in his life.


Which I know he was a painter, not a writer, but it's all art, so stay with me.

I could be the most gifted writer to ever walk the face of this planet, but reality is telling me I might be wise to leave myself some options. Especially if I am having trouble getting my verb tenses correct.

So, I've been thinking about how very much I love my Literature classes. What other class can you take where your main course of study is to read stories? Seriously, I read my anthologies for fun. I'm a total nerd. And then we get to talk about them in class and my professors have to shut me down in order to give others a chance to talk.

Reading and monopolizing conversation - two of my favorite pastimes.

What if I could put those two together to make some sort of a dream job that would actually guarantee me a paycheck while I did the writing gig on the side?

Wait a minute...isn't that what my professors are doing?

Well, Supermom, yes, it is. However did you come to such a stupendously intelligent and observant conclusion?

I'm just smart like that, you know. And rather than let all that smartness go to waste, I thought perhaps I should share it with the future of our great nation. I should impart my wealth of literary insight unto the young people of the world...or at least the metro area.

I should teach.

Well, I've spent the entire four years of my college career answering conversations just like the one below:

Them: What is your major?
Me: English.
Them: So you want to teach?

And now I find myself not only refuting my own objections, but looking at another 4-5 years of school for a Master's Degree, and yes, even a Doctorate.

I don't understand how it came to be like this, but at 36 years old, I have finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

A Literature Professor.

And really, doesn't it just make perfect sense? Why didn't I think of it before?

Dr. Supermom. I can see it now...just like the picture above. I will be a saintly patron of wisdom and enlightenment, leading thirsty young minds to the fountain of knowledge, where they will drink happily and heartily.

Yeah, right. Probably more like this:

So, the requirements for a doctorate in Literature?

  1. 60 hours, including 18-20 dissertation hours. That's not so bad. I can do that in two years. Two and a half, at the most.

  2. PhD exams in two subject areas. Okay.

  3. Write and defend a dissertation. Yeah, I knew that would be in there.

  4. Mastery of a foreign language. Well, crap.
Four to five more years of conjugating Spanish verbs in my sleep.

Sleep. I never really liked it anyway.