Without going into the details and my inability to cheat with my cell phone, I flunked. I can't add 5 + 5 with both hands.Though it was humiliating, in retrospect, why would a mother of 4 with an infant want to work part time, potentially all hours of the day and night? Regardless, in order to get over my feelings of ineptitude in all things math, I proceeded to tell everyone. Really, everyone. It made for a great story at neighbor night and after a beer or two I was even more self deprecating and really enjoying this story at my own expense. Later after commenting on my stupidity to Doug, he kindly reminded me I didn't need to tell anyone. No one would know and I shouldn't feel stupid. But the thing is, telling the free world was easier than beating myself up. Cathartic even.
Which brings us to Creative Non Fiction at Waubonsee Community College. I thought it would be helpful to hone my skills as a writer. Assist my ability to just do it and attain life list goal #9. Unfortunately, it never occurred to me I'd have to actually share what I wrote. Doug reminded me of my blog writing and how the lovely Tara has kindly posted my words on Go West Young Mom, why would this bother me? Good question.
The first class met on Tuesday and I was looking forward to it - until I walked in the class room. But for the grace of God, I held it together and made it through quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever had to do. So now - I have to tell about it thus freeing me...of me.
Long story short, we had to write a short story...in 20 minutes...with a pencil. I can't write fast and prefer to write on a keyboard. No big deal. I'll crank it out and re-write fast so I can actually read it. Aching shoulder and claw-like hand, I finished it and felt pretty good. I was proud of the story I had put on paper, though more vivid in my head, I knew it would translate. Well, I was wrong. And so goes my first lesson in creative non-fiction: There is no shame in having a better story in your head than you initially manage to put on paper..or screen.
When I got to the car I thought I would puke and by the time I made it to Main Street I thought I'd cry. I now feel much better. Anxiety be damned, I'll go back next Tuesday, with my computer.
Thanks for your shoulder and if you ever need a good neighbor night story, feel free to use mine.
In the meantime, if you're so inclined here is draft #3....
Jake stands in the center of the yard engrossed in the activity at hand; cleaning the ugly, gray yard box to be refilled with a redundant assortment of battered sports equipment. Max is weeding. The incessant whoosh of the hose buzzes in my ear and lulls me into my head. I recite to myself, as if present company would listen anyway, “Yard waste. Sow carrots. Where is the rake?” I am beginning to tire, it’s been a long day in the yard directing teenage boys and refereeing neighborhood games.
I really must remember to thank the boys. They do their best to work hard, especially when they’d rather be elsewhere. Teenagers growing up and away, sometimes leaving me feeling my only hold on them is a to-do list of yard work. Working side-by-side-by-side in the mottled light offered by the swaying leaves of the huge silver maple. The sun is warm, the air smells of dirt and chirping birds are interrupted by an occasional cluck.
Suddenly, pulled from my mental list, I come to with a fleeting annoyance; a rhythmic pulse. The hollow echo resounding from the ugly, plastic box as jets of water reverberate on its' wobbly sides. On and off, long and short, staccato then sprightly. Jake stands trigger attachment set to pulse, shiny black hose held loosely in hand. He is intently focused on the intermittent spray. Beat box? FUN.? Lady Gaga?
To his ears the musical message is clear. To my eyes – and my heart – he is still just a boy creating a toy out of anything and turning every chore into a game.