In Which Ways Do You Art?

At one point as a child, I thought I’d become an artist. These aspirations began at quite a young age, though we’re not counting the impressionist feces wall-art I made before I could form complete sentences. We may, however, begin where my memories do: around age 5.

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I remember finger fists with flying fingers. I remember front and back views of subjects. I remember trying to replicate illustrations I saw in stories.

 

My grandmother was an artist. She illustrated, painted, drew, sculpted. She was my idol, though I was far from her favorite grandchild and I knew that. Still, I wanted to be like her. I hurt that I wasn’t that good, not realizing that her childhood work probably looked like mine.

Now, I dabble. I scribble on children’s lunch napkins, create over-the-top door decorations for teachers, and practice elaborate snowflake patterns. I seem the best at paper cut-outs.

 

And this is art.

 

At another time in my life, I thought I might be musically gifted. I asked to learn piano. I tried trombone. I envied my sister for learning violin. I also sang in a school choir.

My husband is a very good singer. He’s even released some YouTube videos. He’s part of a rather impressive choir at the moment.

Given that people frequently tell me how good he is (but do not say the same to me), I tend to restrict myself to showers and cars.

Still, music moves me. Music is art.

Tell me you aren’t moved by the chorus of that.

 

These days I mostly write. Maybe you’ve noticed.

I thought this writing thing was a more recent expression, but my diggings to find early drawings uncovered …interesting stories I invented in grade school. Granted, I worried much more about handwriting those days. I was more concerned about everything being ‘just right’ than about allowing my imagination to run wild on me.

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Nowadays, I care less about formalities. My exposure to many varied writers and styles and my practice of writing almost daily have unfettered old writing restraints.

Writing is not my first choice of expression after trying others, but it is the most accessible. When the creative itch creeps up my spine, I run to record my thoughts. I feel anxious at any barriers or delays. When I hit The Muse just right, the result is extremely satisfying.

And this, too, is art.

 

Speaking of art, there are many creative ways we are able to express beyond the three I listed. What of dance? Theater? Speech? Display? Organization? Rap? Cooking? Baking? Psychic sensing?

Awhile ago, I wrote this poem:

Shade the negative space of a lone woman;
Daub the dying sun’s embers behind her,
Then soliloquise of heartbeats echoing sunsets.
Charcoal, paint, poetry.

Commit her uplifted hand to a memory-keeper.
Film her swirling hair against swirled light,
Harmonize with deep wind-flutes of regret.
Photograph, film, symphony.

Beat softly to echo the oboes’ cry
And pulse sorrow through interpretation,
As patrons study her angles solemnly.
Rap, dance, art in 3-D.

Feel her dramatic, poignant tears.
See Earth’s brilliant display at days-end.
Then turn, and show us what you see.
Myriad media, expressed endlessly.

We have so many means of expression, and sub-means within any category of these. Clearly, most of us choose words -but, how do you feel about the subject?

Do you agree that we have many arts?

Which do you prefer?

What Do I Believe?

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“If you go with the Calvinistic or traditional Christian notion, after Adam’s fall, everybody is totally depraved, and often virtues are just masked vices, and even a good deed done is grace. A personal relationship with God is the right thing… As far as people are concerned, yes, there are a few people who will stand by you, come what may, and they’re worth finding and keeping.”
-Nitin, Fighting the Dying Light

There are frequent times I am faced with a question I’d rather not answer. These queries all seem to fall beneath the subject of categorization.

How old are you?

Where do you live?

What are your political leanings?

What is your writing experience?

What do you believe?

For one so inclined to choose brutal honesty in conversation over tact, my hesitancy to answer these questions might seem odd. I also participate in an online community that may very well be read across the street -or, across the world. Why hold back on some issues?

I might choose to remain in obscurity. Who would care, really? However, many of the writers I follow have recently come out in declarations of belief. If I admire their honesty, surely others will not desert me based on what I admit.

So, what do I believe?

The truth is that I grew up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A few years ago, however, I read the very entertaining The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. If one ever needs his faith dissolved in a few peals of educated laughter, he is welcome to read it.

This is not to say that Dawkins is fully credited with my disillusionment and departure. His voice merely allowed for more enlightened means by which I might attain answers to forever-niggling doubts and concerns. I have since realized the human mind passes through many ‘ages;’ many changes of perspective. I believe that doubt and a removal from the faith of our upbringing happens to most, if not all.

As a child, I was very much susceptible to the explanations and teachings I was given by my parents and religious instructors. These ranged from paranormal to superstitious to wonderful. I trusted that the doubts I had would, as I was told, be resolved with time and faith.

My pre-teen years were spent in rigid conformity of a self-imposed nature. I was, in colloquial terms, a Molly Mormon. I was a Christian Girl, controlling my thoughts and feelings and emotions to the extreme. I exulted in my perfectionism and delighted in my absolute obedience.

That all changed around the teenage years of hormonal outbreak. This may all be tied into mental issues, but the pendulum of perfectionism swung a bit to the opposite side…

As I said, I’m a very honest person. At times I have thought to not attend church because of my personal feelings. I have prayed, consulted scriptures, and argued with a God who sometimes answers.

Most of the time, I withdraw.

I believe my decision to consider atheism may not have been the best, because it seems driven by a desire to self-protect. Others may read about God and conclude that He loves them and holds their life in His hands. I, instead, wonder at the birds He not only allowed to fall but also burned to death in the breath of His voice or the wrath of His hand.

I truly do wonder why bad things happen to good people, or to any people.

I have come back to faith, but from a wary distance. When I think of trusting The Almighty I often feel sick inside. He might take away those I love, remove my health, smite me blind, or cause any number of calamities. And I am expected to say, “Ah. It was God’s will.”

Where I stand on the faith spectrum is somewhere in-between.

Yes, I know that is the lukewarm place where adherents will be spewed out. Yet I also know it is where I am. A toe here or there causes me to shrink back protectively. The middle is the safest place.

Which may also answer a query regarding political leanings.

If one is to set my person on a judgment stand, to vote whether he may or may not listen to my thoughts and opinions, hear this: we are all of us human. It is human to doubt, to question, to make mistakes, and to act based on feelings. It is human to change; to hopefully grow.

My religious life may have its ups and downs, but I’ve come to some revelatory conclusions because of that path. And, as much as I tried to deny it, those conclusions could not have been solely my own.

People like to sidestep a bold embrace of the idea of God by saying, “God,” “A Spirit,” “Your happy feeling,” “Nature,” or, “Whatever you believe.” Fine. None actually knows for certain what is out there. I mean, for certain certain. One can only know based on his personal feelings affirmed by a core spiritual feeling of closure -and that same feeling can be experienced in another person about a completely opposite issue.

And so, like a child, I wait. I trust. I fully expect The Answer of our eternal end will involve a breaking of our consciousness into reusable matter of a collective-mind sort -but, of course, I do not know for certain.

Now that I’ve borne my religious soul, what about all of you? Do you still talk to God? What have you concluded?

The Stages of Being a Writer Reader

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I read a book recently.

Whilst reading, I noticed I was mentally composing questions or reprimands to the author.

Did you really just do that? Why’d you make her go there?

This is a change from the reading mind of my childhood; the time when I completely absorbed into a story, lived in the world, and watched the characters walking about. I’d surface from the last page, blinking at supposed reality, but not really entering it till all memories of Narnia or Yorkshire or The Enchanted Forest dissipated.

And then I’d pick up the sequel.

Looking at both ends of my experience, I’ve realized a path, a journey, a progression in my reading.

At first, in the child years of absorption, I was a toddler at Disneyland. Everything was beautiful, exciting, without flaw, and controlled by adults who handled all the details so all I had to do was have fun.

After that, the pleasure of the thing was ruined by high school English teachers. They insisted on an analysis of why every ride was fun, what the motives of the costumed characters really were, and what else Walt Disney meant by his questionable “It’s a Small World After All.”

In college, I moved on to read about the underprivileged workers at Disneyland. Who was the real ‘power’ behind what powered the rides, how could we feel exactly as he felt, and why must we be part of the hedonistic problem?

Between then and now, of course, is Mom Brain. With limited cranial capacity, I’ve had to read non-fiction to plan the amusement park trip so that every else could have fun. I got to ride a few fun books, but always followed up with the self-help variety once guilt kicked in.

And today we’re also here: a year after dedicating myself more fully to the idea that I can write, that I can create something like Disneyland.

Eventually.

Right?

So I’m mentally yelling at other authors about their design. Typical.

I wonder when I’ll get to the point of recognizing constructions or anticipating smart-sounding elements like ‘rising action.’ Will I ever be invited to Club 33?

I probably need to read some more. Has anyone else noticed a change in how s/he reads? Do you still enjoy reading?

Blogging, Blogging, LOOK AT ME! Problems

The irony is not lost on me that I’m posting this directly after observations of phone narcissism. Problem is, I’m sort-of, kind-of, often saying that I’m writing a book. -All right! I’m at least writing, okay?!

I got on WordPress because the wonderful crowd of social-junky peeps on Facebook were giving my ramblings over there a lukewarm response. I had a few loyal, wonderful, intelligent, devoted, absolutely fantastic fans -and I love that handful more than I love myself. But the real-time responses of my ‘friends’ were killing my self-esteem.

I’ve told this story before. My wiser, better-looking, very talented actual friend said I need to move over to a blog. And she was right. I *sniff* love you guys who read my blog posts.

You’re just not thousands of adoring fans pouring over here from everywhere. Okay -I’m kidding.

Over a year of blogging has taught me how things work, and I’m cool with that. I have a very long reader’s feed of wonderful material to get through every day and can stop anytime I want but right now I just need a poem or two then I’ll get to my WIP…

As such, I started another blog specifically to promote The Book That May Come to Be Sometime Before My Death. I joined *shudder* Twitter. I’ve searched, followed, commented, and created another Reader’s feed of amazing articles I love reading and can quit reading anytime…

But it’s discouraging. Everyone wants to be read and hardly anyone wants to do the reading.

Twitter is the worst indicator of this: tweet after tweet after re-tweet after ad. Noise, noise, noise, noise, NOISE! I know that I need to join the cacophony. I need to keep trying, shout louder or funnier, or woo the poor just-starting-out blogger because s/he actually pays attention to comments.

*Sigh*

I suppose I’m still attached to my writing. I put a lot into stories like What’s the Point? then send my babies off all teary-eyed, knowing no one will read them because they’re not at the top of the pile when I start getting people to investigate who is following them.

That, and I’m a bit frustrated at finding like-minded, like-themed sites. My WIP is about motherhood, and so many parenting blogs are clickbait. And if anyone knows about that sort of site, it’s someone like me who worked 8 months creating that kind of crap.

Makes sense, I suppose. I’m barely finding time to write because I’m too busy with actual life so others in the same sort of boat are only going to send up a flare or two if there’s a chance money will come raining down in the ashes.

I know, I know: get off my (extremely) sore coccyx and stop whining. Thanks for listening, anyway. Sometimes it’s just good to get things off my mind and out where millions of people can read my complaining.

I love you guys.

Life Lessons, The Hard Way

I remember my first in-the-car auto collision like it was a mere eight years ago, because it was. I was stopped behind a midsize vehicle in my sedan when *WHUMP!* -a teenage-powered Suburban rolled down the short hill and forgot to stop behind my car.

“Are you an artist or something?” the policeman teased as I attempted to draw the scene on the official record afterwards.

Laughing, I said, “No. Why?” He showed me the other two drivers’ simple, boxes-and-arrows graphics. “Oh.” And I’d been worried the insurance adjuster would notice the sloppiness of my miniature, expressionist Mazda Protegé.

I’d learned to call the police because an older lady attempted to remove our backseat door of that same Protegé just two years prior. I was parked at the time and had opened the door to unbuckle my two-year-old when she did it.

“Do you mind if we just settle outside of insurances?” She’d asked.

I had considered. Respect your elders and such. We were newlyweds, considering, and couldn’t afford much on our own. However, I opted to phone the police and our insurance.

I found out later she’d tried to contest it. She suggested that I opened my door right as she was pulling into an angled spot, from across double-yellow street lines, at an obtuse angle of entry.

Yep.

The collision I first mentioned was bad because our insurance decided to total the vehicle, and we were left to fill the void with an adequate replacement of equal- or lesser-value. I also experienced minor whiplash.

“I’m so sorry to hear about your accident!” My son’s preschool director said, once I finished with the police reports and continued on to retrieve my then-four-year-old. “I’ll bet that was a real headache,” she commiserated.

“Well,” I said with a straight face, “It was more of a pain in the neck.”

My humor would keep me company over the next few weeks as I learned exactly how fun whiplash was to recover from.

This story crossed my mind early this morning, around 3 a.m.

I’d risen to facilitate an answer to Nature’s call and had nearly not made it back to bed, or even erect again to hobble there.

This was in consequence of a foolish decision I made yesterday to forego a ladder and climb our garage shelves like some lesser-intelligenced simian ancestor.

Had I been said primal ape, the resulting slip and fall would have broken my perfect prehensile tail. Being a Homo sapiens, I instead damaged my rump (and my pride).

This time, my husband got to deliver the zinger. “I’ll bet that was a real pain in the butt!” he said. (Our youngest, age 4, was within earshot. Plus, my husband never curses.)

I’m sure he’s laughing now, as I type on my backlit phone to pass the hours before a health clinic opens.

I’d assumed only minor damage last night. Though slow, I’d managed to drive, walk to book group, and water the house plants. This (early!) morning, on the contrary, I was overcome with nausea upon standing -okay, upon upright hunching. I finally made it back to bed to beg a bit of bread and Ibuprofen from my drowsy helpmeet. And an ice pack.

I suspect I’ve broken my tail after all. We’ll find out in a mere four hours.

Not that I’m counting.

The Sunshine Blogger Award Thingie

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Anisha over at Charlie and the Cerebration Factory nominated me (with 10 others) for The Sunshine Blogger Award. If I understand correctly, this makes me unique just like everybody else.

The rules* are stuck down at the end of this post. If you make it there, you can read them all. First, though, I need to answer eleven questions.

  1. Name one thing unique to your country that you’re proud of and why.
    So… I’m American. There are a heck of a lot of people here, and a wide variety of them at that. I am proud of how clean and functional most things are here. Most things.
  2. Would you rather read a Sci-fi or a medieval fantasy?
    The choice of what to read depends on the day, but I enjoy both science fiction and medieval fantasy. I do not enjoy purely romance stories.
  3. What’s the best quote you’ve come up with so far?
    For today: “(O)ur friends and family don’t have to be idiots.” From Depression for Dummies.
  4. Do you have any life mottos that you abide by? If yes, what are they?
    I do not really have a life motto. I do enjoy a good, inspirational quote occasionally and like to post the ones I’m fond of.
  5. If you could bring back one dead person to life, who would it be?
    If I could animate a dead person without negative repercussions, I’d pick Jesus. No, seriously. We need healing.
  6. Name a famous person you’d like to go on a date with.
    IF a famous person would agree to go on a date with me and be cordial about the whole thing, I’d pick Emma Thompson. I’m married so I can’t pick a dude, after all.
    Sybill Trelawney looking mystically mad from the Prisoner of Azkaban
  7. If you could be omnipotent for a day, what would you do? (And no, you can’t wish to be omnipotent forever, all you Chandlers)
    With all power, I would first play with the dynamics of time so that I might accomplish much more than everyone else in the cosmos. I’d create some light and dark, separate waters, create animals, build people that look like me, then take a long sleep.
  8. List some things you want to do before you die.
    Before I leave this world, I’d like to publish a book and get rich and famous. Really, though, my goal of never having to do housework again might be more attainable.
  9. Would you rather be able to read minds or to control time? Why?
    Given the choice between mind-reading and time-control I’d pick playing with time ANY DAY. Do you know the sick things people are thinking about? Just talk to my boys and they’ll tell you.
  10. Does blogging ever feel like a burden to you?
    When it’s about time for a serial story to be due and I haven’t read my reader’s feed for three days and the dishes and laundry still need to be done EVERYTHING feels like a burden.
  11. What’s your favourite kind of weather?
    love LOVE LOVE the ominous, wild, windy period just before a storm. It’s almost as fantastic as standing in the storm as it rages around me.
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I hope you had fun reading my responses, or at least exercised your skimming muscles. In terms of who to torture nominate next, I’ll give you my list of cool blogs to follow:

  1. Cricketmuse: a highly intelligent writer who will get published before I do and will then send me a signed copy out of pity. (Please?)
  2. Sunshine and Robins: a sweet, talented writer who tells about daily struggles and then shares tasty recipes I can’t eat because she lives on the other side of the world.
  3. Fractured Faith Blog: Stephen (and his family, occasionally) share thoughts on writing, life-ing, running, and faithing in a personal and relatable way.
  4. Beauty Beyond Bones: Caralyn hardly needs the attention, but I like to read her posts because she is also an excellent writer who has spot-on opinions about life and recovery.
  5. Little Fears: The Pun King. He’d argue he was working on his punmanship. He also draws little pictures, narrates them, and is extremely good at the whole networking/blogging thing.
  6. Heylookawriterfellow: Mike doesn’t need the attention either, but he’s a funny guy and you’ll like his posts. Just try him.
  7. Myths of the Mirror: Diana is a (darn good!) published author whom I don’t know very well but whom I respect. She always responds to comments and is always the nicest person for it.
  8. Lunch Break Fiction: It is what it is, and they are interesting stories.
  9. Trefology: Short, odd, and possibly to a point.
  10. Read After Burnout: Yet another great writer. You watch: he’ll be published before me, too. Yes you will, Mike.
    You may want to fix your header, though. I can’t read a thing.
  11. Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50: LA has astute and engaging observations of her daily life in New York City. I enjoy reading her perspective.

If you felt left out not being named, don’t. I already named a few last award thingie, plus I need to save some in case it happens again.

If those who were named feel like it, here are my questions:

  1. Why did the chicken cross the road?
  2. What’s black and white and red all over?
  3. Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?
  4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  5. What would you say is your greatest weakness, and how have you learned to overcome it?
  6. Why is 6 afraid of 7?
  7. Why am I here?
  8. Why is the sky blue?
  9. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  10. What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t come back?
  11. What is the meaning of life?

I may have plagiarized a bit, but you get the idea.

 

*The rules

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger(s) asked you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo in your post and/or on your blog.

It’s All A Lie

I just love life aphorisms. I love them about as much as the daily grind of housework that regenerates every five seconds.

“Don’t worry; everyone feels that way.”

Really? If everyone felt the way I do, the world would be on fire. At the very least, I would not see so many smiling people getting out of the house and purchasing avocados for their lunch break.

In an actual session, my counselor voiced this advice. “I don’t think that’s true,” I countered. “Most people, when asked about a recent vacation, don’t go on about world disparity.” She laughed, and I noticed she didn’t disagree. Face it: everyone does not feel the way I do.

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“People will love you for who you are.”

No, people will not. People sense or see or smell the negative vibes emanating from my socially-anxious person before I even speak about world disparity. I see it in the falter of their smile (if it was there), in the excuse to go… anywhere and get out of the conversation.

Close family members are the only ones to use “love” with me, and do so with hesitation. I can tell they expect that world-burning explosion part of me to bite them in response. I probably ought to stop doing that…

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“You can do anything you set your mind to.”

Yeah, maybe after the laundry is done. Even then, ‘anything I set my mind to’ is probably going to be an uninterrupted trip to the bathroom.

I’ve thought of writing a bestseller, but that requires daycare and emotional stress on family life. I’ve considered a job outside the house, but that requires daycare and emotional stress on family life. I’ve also toyed around with going back to school, but that requires an insane amount of debt and daycare and emotional stress on family life.

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“We only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

I regret everything. I second-guess myself before the chance, during it, and after it’s passed.

Besides, in my profession as mother, I can’t simply decide to be a roving gypsy. Child Protective Services frowns upon decisions like that.

 

Perhaps good advice works; you know, for ‘everyone.’ For me and others who may view things similarly, what do you say? “Tomorrow is another day?” Of course it is, stupid. Yesterday was another day, too.

There’s got to be an evolutionary advantage to cynicism, right?

Who’s Driving?

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I was supremely confident as a child that I could drive a car. All I needed, I’d say, was the green flag from the government for seven-year-olds to operate a vehicle and I’d be off!

Oh, I had experience: My parents occasionally allowed me sit-on-their-lap steering privileges home from church on Sundays. And at fifteenish, I pulled a few turns unassisted in that same church parking lot.

Man, I was set!

By the age of nearly-sixteen, however, shift got real. My mother may have realized this, as I was enrolled in Driver’s Education at school and had grown tall enough to look her in the eye. One day she took me to a quiet neighborhood side street, steered herself for the worst, and told me we could switch places.

Even on the best of days (as in, post-op heavily-medicated) my mother does not handle other people driving. When my annoyingly patient and meticulous father is navigating the roads at a rate that would put a sloth to sleep, she’s frantically kicking the floor of the passenger side in phantom braking actions.

Turning the wheel fully over to me is on my mother’s list of Bravest Things She’s Ever Done.

For my part, I was counting on my first time driving as heading the list of Epic Life Adventures or Most Awesome Experiences Ever. Right? Instead, as I sat in front of the wheel completely on my own, I was gripped with terror. The awesome power of everything I was now in charge of washed over me and my mind blanked. My foot convulsed at the pedals the same way it did when I tried to navigate a sewing machine. The wheel was strangely hyper-sensitive. All of the cars parked calmly at the sides of the street were trying to leap out in front of me.

“I thought you knew how to drive!” My mother screamed as we jerked along and sashayed from right to left.

I thought I did, too, I told myself. I felt sad, confused, surprised, and hopeless. We pulled over and returned to our former roles. My confident plans of self-dependency and road freedomness dissolved forever. Maybe we should’ve used an automatic.

Luckily, my driving actually improved from there. I throw that out, in case anyone has determined to never set wheels on pavement when I’m out and about.

This morning, however, I was thinking about life. Specifically, if at all, I was pondering on my decades-long feeling of directionless discontent.

I kept thinking, Who’s driving, anyway?

I have been a stay-at-home mother for thirteen years, ever since being fired in the first trimester of my first pregnancy. I have felt motivated some days more than others. Lately, however, my life has felt completely out of my hands. My children cannot legally drive (yet), but I’ve put them and my husband in the front seat, crawled back over Cheerio crumbs and Hot Wheels cars to the dirty back of the car, and wondered why I keep getting car sick.

And yet, I don’t move.

What do I do?

Well… I pretend to be useful. I hand around a few snacks, break up fights, give the pretense of modeling good behavior, and pick up loose wrappers now and then. Oh, and sometimes I tell the person steering exactly what’s wrong with his driving.

As the tension in the car rises, I withdraw to less activity. I tell myself I am not sleepy when the suns sets over our dented hood, intentionally tiring myself to a state of drunken drowsiness when that same sun rises over that same hood. I eat the bad car snacks. I forget to shower at camp sites. I wonder why the floor cannot stay clean even though I’m snapping at everyone to please pick up your garbage!

Who’s driving, anyway?

Shortly after that first, fateful day at fifteen when my mother gave me full control, I attended the driving portion of Driver’s Ed at school. Perhaps because I was the tallest female, our instructor picked me for the first turn. I don’t learn well by going first; I’m an observer.

The rest of our small group piled into the small sedan, buckled for safety, and waited for me to start the engine. I gulped. I adjusted everything I could think to adjust: seatbelt, steering, seat, side mirrors, rearview mirror, headrest. We’d been walked through this in instructional videos during class, and I was determined to get all the steps right. Then, ignition -with foot on brake pedal, of course. My hands flew to 10 and 2 like boot camp soldiers. I looked forward through the windshield, and waited for whatever hell the instructor at my elbow would direct me through.

My turn didn’t last long then, either. Another boy in the class took over after a few blocks and did marvelously. He drove better than the instructor! It turned out that he’d been allowed to man tractors on his grandfather’s farm since thirteen years old. Cheater.

Who’s driving? Floats through my mind when I wake up and get ready for the children’s day. They need to dress for school, eat breakfast, sit up at the table, not punch their brothers, pick up their shoes, do their homework, eat right, not talk back, feel loved, and then understand that I am a person and I love their father and our relationship is the most important of all.

Yeah, we’ve been seeing a marriage counselor. She’s a good driver.

Who’s driving? My mind recalls the sappy Country Song “Jesus Take the Wheel.” That’s a subject for a few pages all its own, so I’ll summarize with: I may not be in a great place discontentedly backseat driving, but I trust that spot a lot more than the places He might take me.

I know others in a similar state. Their reactions have varied from meekly asking for a turn at steering, to pushing the special Eject button James Bond-style and parachuting irresponsibly to a new adventure.

I’d love to end this personal reflection with a determined statement; a wonderful aphorism on life to pass on. Unfortunately, all I’ve got are chocolate almonds, yesterday’s clothing, and criticisms.

Perhaps you know a good solution? Anything’s better than here.

Maybe.

Life, The Universe, and Jerseys

My adult goal was to get a vanity plate.

The opportunity presented itself when we purchased a new family car four-and-a-half years ago. Granted, the “car” was really a minivan. I had wanted my long sought-after custom license plates on a lifted pickup truck or a sports car. But beggars can’t be choosers, especially on our budget.

On the DMV’s online form, I entered three choices in order of preference. The second was HHG2G; the third was Desiato (because the van is black).

The day the plates arrived was seminal for me; I opened the envelope and saw they’d agreed to my first choice! Ecstatically, I removed the dealer-assigned ones from their screws and hung my beautiful replacements in their place. Soon enough, I drove out onto public roads and parked at public grocery stores. I felt conspicuous, but proud.

A few days later, in a parking lot, I noticed a fellow patron checking out the front of my momvan. I geared up for his inevitable question and what my happy answer would be.

“So, is that a sports jersey?” He asked. “Whose number is that?”

Flabbergasted, I did the only logical thing a non-sports-watching nerd of my caliber could do. I corrected him. “No, no. It’s from a book.”

“Oh.”

I should have noticed the loss of interest. But I didn’t. “Yeah, it’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything.”

“Oh.”

He wasn’t the first. Thanks to my fancy vanity plates, I’ve since learned that they do represent Jackie Robinson’s number. The internet says that (as of this posting) 163 NBA and ABA players have had it. So that’s cool.

I don’t get asked about my choice frequently, mostly because people don’t talk to each other the way they used to. Exactly two strangers of those who asked have heard of the book my plates are from; most others assume sports origins.

Slowly over time, I’ve forgotten the magic. I simply drive, and forget how much I might stand out with such a short insignia on my front and back bumpers.

Today, stopped at the end of a freeway offramp, I happened to look out the passenger window. An older man was pointing his finger in an upwards gesture. Since it was his index finger, I assumed good intentions and rolled down said window.

“What’s the 42 stand for?” He called. He was smiling in a friendly manner.

A split second’s thought didn’t save me. “It’s from a book,” I yelled back. “It’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything.”

His pleasant expression lessened a bit. “Oh. Okay!”

The light changed. I rolled the window back up, and off we drove.

I know I ought to just give up. When an interested party asks, I ought to say, “It’s Jackie Robinson’s number, of course. I love sports! I sports so hard; don’t you?” A part of me just can’t. It’s a small, stubborn part; but it just can’t let the literary decline of America be somebody else’s problem.

Blue Car Edited