I had planned to start my new year, new me, routine today. You know, the one where you get up on time, exercise, and dedicate your day to aspiring to be something bigger and better, while practicing newfound patience with your children.
The universe had other plans.
The current outdoor temperature is -10 degrees with a wind chill of -36. In layman’s terms, it’s too damn cold for school. I hope I’ve established a rapport of a loving parent and no longer need to qualify complaints with the I love my children more than words… but… preamble. So today is the last time I’m saying it: I love my children more than anything…but, the past two weeks have been comprised of nothing but overindulgence and refined sugar. Myself needs some quality time with myself.
I’m presently writing from the comfort of my own bed, behind locked doors, listening to “That is MY PAINTBRUSH, I own it!” “No it isn’t, it’s OURS!” It’s not that they’re fighting over who gets to use the paintbrush, they both have one in hand; they’re just establishing paternity. I’m questioning how likely I am to come up with any usable material. But I’m surrounded by near-illegible notes I’ve taken on envelopes, post-its, and even Christmas cards. It’s time to write.
The Story of How I Spent the Second Half of My (never ending) Holidays
Because I made it through the whole what’s-in-this-box?, are-you-Santa?, I-can’t-sleep-I’m-too-excited!, jumping-all-over-in-anticipation!!! phase relatively gracefully, I figured I simply needed to continue doing what I was doing. It worked well at first. Then the merriment cooled and there were no impending gifts and the whole we-can’t-do-anything-because-we’re-broke-from-buying-you-so-much-crap phase set in. Then the fighting set in. Then the indoor painting and crafting and roughhousing began. Two days ago my daughter spilled bright green paint all over the carpet in her bedroom. What did she do? She put up a sign. She took the time to draw an abstract of a guy falling in pastels. She covered everything but cleaning it up.
I did what I could to make the vacation fun and memorable for the kids. I put forth my best effort. But a shoestring budget, frigid temperatures, and limited available indoor activities weren’t enough to stifle our increasing cabin fever. Like I said, I did what I could. Here’s what I accomplished:
1. Took my daughter to an indoor trampoline park
One night not so many days after Christmas, the husband took my son to see the latest installment of the “Lord of the Rings/Hobbit” movies, based on books I can’t like no matter how hard I try. This left my daughter and I alone, unsupervised. Our plan was to pick up new shoes for both children (which we did), stop by Target for New Year’s Eve snacks (which we also did), and head home (which we did not). Somehow, while standing in the middle of the JC Penney shoe department, we decided it would be a good idea to run by a local indoor trampoline park called “Defy Gravity,” for some quality mother-daughter time. I wasn’t dressed appropriately and driving home to change seemed like a lot of work, so I bought some sweatpants on the spot.
I can’t aptly paint you a picture of the “Defy Gravity” experience. I can show you the photos from the website, but they don’t do it justice.
It’s loud and crowded and on particularly busy evenings, it smells like a 6th grade boys’ locker room. The body odor was overwhelming. Being the good sport that I am, I overlooked the stench and put on my special jumping shoes (I suspect these are wrestling shoes). They were sweaty. I mean sweaty like a pre-adolescent boy had worn them minutes earlier. Sweaty like the armpit of an NBA superstar. I wanted so badly to complain or at least exchange them for another pair, but jump sessions are timed and expensive, so every minute you spend remedying a shoe-perspiration situation, is a minute you paid for and didn’t get. My daughter also noticed how wet her shoes were. If an eight year old notices, they’re seriously disgusting.
If I owned “Defy Gravity,” I’d rename it “Defy peeing a little every time you jump.” Trampolining after birthing two children has made me a prime candidate for a career as an Enablex spokesperson. Not to mention, I was the only parent participating in lieu of sitting on a cozy bench in non-sweaty shoes. I tried to explain the peeing issue to my daughter, but she only stared at me with a confused expression. One day she will call me and tell me she understands. I look forward to it.
In fairness, it was pretty fun after I got past the ambiance. I discovered I could both jump over my daughter’s head and do a pretty fantastic backflip. The next morning I discovered I could get a really, really sore neck and shoulders from jumping over my daughter’s head and doing backflips.
P.S. When I went on the website in search of a picture, there was a link that said “Trampoline Ninja,” so I clicked on it. All it said was “Trampoline Ninja: Coming Soon!” What???
Also, I’m completely in love with the sweatpants. Best $9.99 ever spent.
2. Discovered that Macklemore and Ryan Lewis are white guys
I always pictured Biggie Smalls singing “Thrift Shop.”
3. Lost my “Horsey’s Kisses”
I noticed at some point during the holidays that my daughter had quit saying “Horsey’s Kisses” and started saying “Hershey’s Kisses.” I suspect her being able to read had something to do with it. I don’t typically struggle with remorse over my children growing up, but this one hit a little hard. It was my favorite mispronunciation. Although it is also pretty amusing when your kid says “They made us go out on the playground today and it was only twenty degrees, not even counting the windshield!”
4. Had a 30-hour “Twilight Zone” marathon
These are the snacks we purchased on our way home from defying gravity in (sweaty) wrestling shoes:
We did pretty well overall; my son bailed after approximately 15 minutes, knowing he would likely (literally) die of fear if he watched any longer. My daughter made it as long as I did; I’m impressed she had it in her. Here’s the 24-hour point:
(Keep in mind; this is a basement, I’m very aware of the poor décor)
The plan was to watch for 36 hours straight, but when episodes with creepy dummies and serial-killer dolls started popping up, we unanimously voted to end a bit short of our goal. 1. Because she was getting scared, and 2. Because I didn’t want to be woken up every two hours as a result of her being scared. Also it allowed me to sleep in my own bed and watch the last hours of the “Walking Dead” marathon over on AMC. Win.
5. Signed up for a class on earning income from online writing
I’m making this business for-profit; I’m going pro.
(I really wanted to put This shit’s goin’ pro above, but decided it would be tacky)
6. Read Stephen King’s “On Writing,” cover to cover in under 24 hours
My sister sent me this book a few years back and it ended up disappearing in a cabinet among all of the other books I intended to read. Over the break I had dedicated some time to researching literature that might be of use in my quest to become a renowned, professional author. When “On Writing” was recommended, I remembered I had it stashed in the house. Unfortunately, I must’ve stashed it a little too well because I was completely unable to locate it. I dusted off every book I own, looked under beds, and cleared out closets. I haven’t exactly declared it lost yet, just M.I.A., but don’t worry; my book of Chuck Norris jokes is safe.
I ended up downloading the Kindle edition using a gift card that my other sister gave me. I’m an awful sibling.
I have a newfound respect for Stephen King’s work. The book was engaging and extremely beneficial. He imparts technical skills, but is practical in his stance on creativity. His views on plot, symbolism, and writing as a whole are very much in line with my approach. I laughed out loud at how familiar I am with the experience of reading something and thinking “I can write better than that! I already have!”
I’ve always seen myself as a non-fiction writer or possible columnist, writing more editorial-based pieces. Yet after completing “On Writing,” I gained a desire to write a novel. It seems doable. I’m concerned with grammar and formatting though. As you may have noticed, I take a lot of creative license when it comes to dialog, paragraph, and sentence structure. I recently realized I have been using punctuation in quotation marks incorrectly. Oops. That scares me more than fine-tuning my writing abilities.
Initially I leaned toward a non-fiction piece, more relating to my own life, but gradually drifted into the realm of real-life fiction. The idea of writing about someone like me with coinciding experiences is alluring. I suppose similar to James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces,” but having clearly established the work as fiction. I’m asking for input from readers for the first time. What would you prefer? Seriously. Opinions please!
It’s funny, while I was in a residential treatment center myself, I actually thought about “A Million Little Pieces,” from time to time and how so much of it was implausible. Too bad it wasn’t marketed as fiction in the first place. It was a good read.
If I wrote a book, would you read it?