Not to brag, but…

This past weekend I was responsible for my three daughters for the span of roughly four hours. During that time they:

  1. ate a nutritious meal
  2. watched zero minutes of screen time
  3. only ingested one substance that required a call to Poison Control (a hefty dollop of froofy sun screen by Delaney, age 2)

So yeah…got this whole parenting thing pretty much under control.

My Fart Darling

There is an expression in writing, “You have to kill your darlings.” This means when you revise your work, kill everything you love before sending it out to agents.

So it follows that I had to cut the following darling from my novel. May you live on, my little fart darling, in my faucet humor blog that plumbers keep opening by accident.

My Fart Darling

Brian woofed down another spoonful. “Uncle John farts a lot,” he said, chewing. He inhaled quickly, lifted his leg and with vibrating lips motored off a long fart that resembled a well-tuned lawnmower. Barbara leaned away. Like a singer he sucked in more air and squeezed one side of his mouth, the motor humming an octave higher. Then he twisted his mouth, abruptly slowing the humming engine sound and giving it a juicy quality. He pulled air up his nostrils and released it in a halting sputter, ending with one final gust that died a slow, rattling death. On its deathbed, with the whole family aghast, Brian pushed one last poooooooffff through his wired teeth.

“Really Brian, was that really necessary?” his mother said.


No room for cream— the admiration is enough

If you— and by you, I’m referring to the confused plumber in Alaska that reads this blog— are wondering why I don’t post more, it’s because I’m currently revising a novel. Truth is, I haven’t really told many people that I’ve written a novel and get sort of embarrassed when people that know I’m writing ask, “How’s the book going?”

I won’t go into it. Rather, I would like to share how I’ve changed my tune and now tell every single person I meet that I’ve written a novel. I’ve noticed that Starbucks baristas are particularly impressed.
Here is a conversation from this morning:
Barista: What can I get for you?
Me: Well, since I am a novelist, I guess I’ll have an iced coffee.
Barista: Okay…. Any room for cream or sweetener?
Me: If I was a short story writer, I might, but I’m a novelist.
Barista: Your name?
Me: My real name or my pen name?
So yeah. Pretty impressed.

Naptime Witness

Look, I understand you have your mission, your higher-calling or whatever. I get that. Maybe that higher-power sent you here to my doorstep at 1:24 in the afternoon for some greater purpose. I can respect what your doing with the piece of paper you handed me about the convention.

(And yes, I’m sorry I wasn’t more polite. I am a Christian and it wasn’t very, um, Christian of me to be short with you.)

But the thing is, my daughter just fell asleep. It took over an hour to get her down. And she really needs a nap. Grump-city if you know what I mean. So maybe you could carry out this higher-calling higher-power mission a little more quietly at nap time? You know, like just slip the flyer under the door? (It might be more pleasant for you too, rather than the awkward glares you get from parents of sleeping toddlers.)

Thanks so much. God Bless. Or Jehovah. Or maybe let Jehovah witness God blessing you? I’m sorry. I gotta come clean here. I just don’t know much about your religion. I’m normally a lot nicer, it’s just when you ring the doorbell during nap time it’s like the fires of hell rage within me. Oh shit. Do you believe in hell? I’m not aware of your position on that issue, either.

All I can say is that I’m sure Jehovah witnessed something pretty important. And it’s important to you that I know about this conference to know more about what Jehovah witnessed. But you know what else is important? Naps. For toddlers. There’s five of them on this street. Is anyone or anything witnessing you waking them all up with your doorbell ringing and your flyer that you could just slide under the door?

Sorry. I got carried away again. Regardless of the whole spiritual soul God Jehovah heaven hell witness eternity thing, can we just agree not to ring doorbells between, say 1 and 3? Thanks so much. Peace be with you. Is that OK to say?


Millennials, Take My Interjection And We’ll Make It I Swear

I’m not going to. Obviously. But if I did, this is what I would say to the two millennials sitting next to me, very close in proximity, at Starbucks.

“Pardon me, I don’t mean to interject, or be rude, or tell you how to live your life, or really do anything other than just plain help you, but I just couldn’t help overhearing (despite my headphones) about how your undergraduate classes are proceeding and thought maybe I could offer you some words of wisdom. Free of charge.

First, to take a look at some raw statistical data, the two of you have been sitting next to me for over two hours, 137 minutes, to be exact. If I had to ballpark it, let’s be on the safe side here, I’m going to go ahead and say that out of the 137 minutes, the amount of time that both of you spent actually STUDYING, learning, doing what I presume you set aside this time for, is roughly five minutes each. Let’s call it seven. To calculate this as a percentage (I’ve got this one since math makes you sooooooo sleepy), the actual amount of your study time that you spent, um, studying, is 0.051%.

So, not to belabor the point here, but I think that a brief search on effective study habits might help with that failing science class or the “annoying” professor that gave you a D on your last paper. You know the one whose feedback you spent approximately eleven minutes reading out loud and making snide comments like, “Passive voice, what does that even mean?” And, “The only paragraph I wrote that he actually liked is the one about America. So what does that tell you?”

I want to help you. The fact that both of you are not looking up your ex-boyfriends on the Internet tells me that you are good people that want to succeed. Also, that you each spent close to eight minutes (ballparking here) looking up Danielle’s ex-boyfriend on the Internet tells me that you are easily distracted. (Millennial A: He is hot! Millennial B: Yeah, a hot mess.)

This tendency to get distracted is all the more reason to look up effective study habits and perhaps find a quiet place, away from professional writers with professional blogs that professional plumbers click on often, to their confusion and dismay.

Look, this isn’t about grinding an axe or my own stress in revising work set to be published. Never mind the job interview I have to prepare for or the giant stress zit on my forehead. I’m simply offering advice as an elder. It’s not your fault. Many schools never teach how to study.

There are many small things that make a big difference. Turning off your phone I think actually qualifies as a big one. Location. Scheduling breaks for snacks and coffee. (Seriously, Google has over 154,000,000 results for “effective study habits. Just do a quick search since you haven’t put down your phones the entire time.) Also, I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but perhaps you two aren’t right for each other, Study Buddy wise. While it’s obviously clear that you are great friends with a lot to talk about, including potential boyfriends (the advice to “go home tonight, write about him in your journal, wake up, read it, and see if you feel the same way,” shows how much you care about each other and want nothing but good things like finishing college to happen); it might not be clear that academically speaking, you guys are oil and water.

To again return to some hard data, something that is often useful in making important decisions like where and how to study (even if your stats teacher is “clueless on how to actually teach”), I’m going to go ahead and ballpark estimate here, on the safe side, that each of you spoke roughly 5,000 words in the past two hours and now twenty-one minutes (roughly 35.46 words per minute, each). One thing I’ve found in earning both a Bachelor’s degree and Master’s degree, is that it is difficult to study and talk at the same time.

Why not plan to meet up after studying? You’ll both feel much better about having been productive because you won’t have distracted each other (or those around you, like professional writers editing an essay for publication, an essay that has already been accepted, one where the writer has to concentrate, really scrutinize each word and sentence so as not to make a small error that could slip past the editor and this small error could hurt this hypothetical writer’s chances of really making it as a writer? Unlike a blog which allows writers, even professional writers, to write off the cuff and make all kinds of misakes.)

So now, as the students from the nearby middle school swarm in and eliminate the remote chance that the two of you will do anymore studying, let me end by closing my eyes, turning up my headphones to dangerous levels so as to drown out your incessant chattering, and pretend to be Jon Bon Jovi, wearing leather pants, grabbing my pen as a microphone and singing to you, while the middle school kids spontaneously join in as background singers and and flash dancers.

Wooooooaaa! Just going to Starbucks is only half way theeeerrrree! Woooaaa! Livin’ on a prayer (if you think this is studying)!  Take my polite suggestive interjection based on actual data constructively and we’ll make it to adulthood I sweeeaaarr!”



Indispensable Parenting Advice: The Soap Game

My four-year-old would not wash her hands. It was dinnertime. Food was getting cold. We were all hungry. And tired. We asked nicely. We asked not so nicely. We told. Then the inevitable threat, rendered less effective as an interrogative sentence.

“Do you want to go the stairs?”

Still, the hands remained unwashed. They were visibly dirty. Playground equipment. Three-day-old rain water. Probably some nose-picking.  I imagined the bacteria singing a high-pitched, prokaryotic version of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Good times.

That’s when I made a fatal error.

I was fun.

Both the Blue Soap and the Clear Soap wanted to be chosen. They started to argue.

“Pick me!”

“No, pick me!”

Mia, despite her four years of worldly experience and skills as a negotiator, didn’t see this coming. She did “eeny meeny miny mo.” Clear Soap won. Blue Soap threw a fit. Then, to show her deep compassion for losers that never get picked, she allowed Blue Soap to do her right hand and Clear Soap to do her left.

Problem solved. Until the next night. And the night after that. And every night. Because now we have to play the soap game before washing hands. And I don’t really mind. The soaps argue. Or Blue Soap falls asleep and then the spatula wakes him up, to the dismay of Clear Soap. It’s fun.

Except of course, when you just want to wash hands and eat.

So the lesson here, parents, is obvious. Never do anything remotely fun or interesting.

You’re welcome.