Row Boat Man

In the Spring of 1976, I told my dad that I was thinking about quitting school. I was not asking permission. Back then, a 16 year old in Illinois could quit without parental consent, no signature required. My older sister quit every other day. Okay, just once a week, on average. She’d stomp into the school office on her way out the door, slam her books down on the counter and declare, “I quit!” And, on the very next day, mother would march her right back into the office to re-enroll.

Sis was emotional, so her quits were always in reaction to something, a tiff with a teacher or whatever. Mine was different. My quit would be an action, not a reaction. Much consideration needed to go into my decision, which is why I wanted to talk my dad. It never occurred to me that my parents may object. But, like I said, I wasn’t asking.

He did not tell me no. Dad never tried to control me, at least not in my teen years. I didn’t even have a curfew. I was expected to be courteous, to let my mother know if I would be home for supper, to call if I was going to be out late. At the most, he’d say, “think about what you’re doing.”

Oh, he did firmly ask me to stop trying to sign my sister up for the Army. That’s about as close as I can recall of him ever telling me no on anything, and that was just because they were getting tired of recruiters coming to the house. Yeah, every time my sister ticked me off, I’d fill out one of those military postcards in her name, get her a free pair of socks or whatever incentive was offered for requesting more information. Do they still do that? Maybe it was a 70’s thing. Those postcards were in about every scholastic magazine.

When I told dad that I was thinking of just not going back the next year, he knew it was my decision. I would be 16 in July. All he did was ask me why, and then he told me a story about a man in a rowboat.

Yeah, a man in a row boat. This poor sap set out to row his little boat all the way across the ocean. It was a long and perilous journey, months and months at sea. He was almost there, but he didn’t know it because he could not see the shore. Just another day or two, and he’d be there. But, he was tired, so he told himself that it’s too far away, he can’t make it, may as well give up. So, he turned his boat around and rowed all the way back.

It made a lot of sense. I already had 11 years of schooling, so what’s two more? Even if I did not graduate, I’d still have a 12th grade education.

Still, it was my decision. I opted to sign up for Graphic Arts at a vocational school for the next year to give myself a change of pace, with only a half day of High School classes. I was back in regular classes for 12th grade, as we moved to Ohio just before my senior year and Graphic Arts was not an option at the vocational school there. And yes, I graduated at age 17.

This is on my mind tonight… not exactly sure why. Maybe it explains why I don’t give up so easy, or why I hang in there far longer than I should at times. If it is a relationship, I don’t want to start over with someone new. If it’s a goal or a project, then it’s a “what if I’m almost there?” Maybe I’m just lazy. I don’t want to row my boat all the way back across an ocean.

Thanks for reading!

Water Cooler Blues

img_20160127_011855.jpgNew addition to the homestead relocation program: one slightly used water cooler. Three 5 gallon jugs of spring water will arrive later this afternoon. Yes, I signed up for home delivery service. It is well worth the $3 fee as a full jug weigh 42 pounds, which makes it a bit hard for a disabled woman to haul home via bus.

Someday, the jugs will be delivered to my workshop.

There has been a shift in the paragon. I am more focused now. The only difference between an illusive dream and an achievable goal is a well executed plan of action.

Why did I use that word? What is a paragon?

I had to stop and look it up.  Paragon is a noun that means “a model or pattern of excellence” so yes, I suppose it is the right word to use as there has definitely been a shift in my life patterns since I wrote Sixteen Changes.

The water cooler comes with two taps handled in primary colors: red hot and blue cold.

I don’t have taps inside me. I cannot turn my feelings on and off, cannot make myself stop caring about someone who axed our friendship just because they jumped to a raw conclusion.

Yes, he was hurt because I kept secrets, lied by omission, did not immediately tell him about everything that was going on with me… it was personal, about ME… had nothing to do with him.

Want to talk secrets? Lies by omission?

I lie every single time I say a variation of “okay” in response to “How are you?” Why? Because giving an honest answer feels like asking for pity and I won’t tolerate pity from anyone; refuse to pity my own self. What I deal with is no one else’s business, unless you happen to be my doctor or sleep in my bed, feel me jerk with every spasm. Besides, attitude is everything… how am I supposed to keep a positive attitude about living with disability when those around me look at me with sad puppy eyes or burst into tears because I can’t do what THEY like or want to do?

Everyone lies by omission. Meow. Yes, even that friend lied by omission… hid the fact his kitten survived. Oh well… unfriending me was his choice.

I miss my friend, but harbor no hope for redemption.

I’m thinking this shift in the paragon might be good for both of us. That maybe being each other’s long distant muse was no longer beneficial to him… like texting me was a diversion, a way to pass time, a means to think about doing without actually doing anything… like the man is an excellent poet with performance art experience, but is too paralyzed by depression to go to a poetry reading.

As for me? I will survive.

It feels odd to slam out a chapter on a new story and be really psyched about it and NOT discuss it or toss a printed copy into the mail. But, I read it out loud to my sister in Michigan and I will take it to my local Writer’s Workshop on Thursday.

I went way out on a new limb with this one… jumped right into the middle of a fantasy action adventure story by writing the chapter as it would be if it were a scene in a movie.

I don’t know what chapter it is… it might be 4 or 5 or 18… sis thinks it could stand AS the first chapter, being that it is an action adventure story. I do have a vague idea of what came before; but, this particular scene is what filled my mind. It was the scene I had to write. And it was so much fun! Things happened that I did not plan. I have no idea of how this story will end. I’m just going to write it, one scene at a time.

Then I really went out on a limb… gave a printed copy to a reader (not a writer) because he asked if he could read it. That is scary because it feels like I am exposing a part of me that he does not know yet. Writing about anything, even pure fiction “outside” yourself, is kind of like walking naked in public. When you pour your heart and soul into anything creative, it comes out in the work. Other people might not see it, but the person who made it or wrote it does. On that note, thanks for reading!