Why Ann Patchett?
I saw her interview one of my favorite authors and she quickly became another favorite author. It became apparent that she would be a favorite by simply telling the audience at the Q & A time after interviewing the above mentioned author, that if you were crazy not to stand up to ask a question. Only sane people were allowed to ask questions at this event.
At that point I didn't care if I didn't end up liking her writing, she would still be one of my favorites. I did end up reading most of her work and I have loved all of it. She's so much a favorite that she now has a place at the top of my vision board.
Yes, I'm embarrassed to say that I do have a vision board. Why am I embarrassed? Well, I hate jumping on "vision board," "The Secret," "we're going to homestead and be self-sufficient," "let's all 4 of us and our 60lb. dog live in a super tiny house," "we should start growing pot" or " we're going 100% gluten-free" type bandwagons. They all feel and seem like trends.
Okay, that's a lie. At some point throughout the years, I have tried to convince my husband that we should do all of these things, except for the growing pot part because that would be illegal and I'm a rule-follower by nature. What should be illegal is going "gluten-free," because that life choice can tear families apart. Trust me. I tried it. Twice.
Back to the vision board. I decided to actually do a vision board when a friend that I have a lot of faith in was teaching a vision board class. I still had a hard time completing one because it felt a bit weird actually doing one of the bandwagony things I claim to hate, and because I have medically diagnosed ADD and I hadn't taken my meds that day.
In the class, my friend kept saying that we should add pictures of things that made us feel things we wanted to feel - like hope, joy, love, stability, etc. She said that it wasn't about putting things on there you wanted like a new car, but about having a picture of something that represented how you thought you would feel if you had that new car. Or, putting a picture of a car on there to represent how you might feel if you had the income available to be able to buy that new car without having to worry.
I put a picture of Ann Patchett at the top because I wanted to know what it felt like to have the courage to tell people that if they were crazy, no need to stand up and ask me questions. I wanted and still want to know how to say "kindly walk away," when needed.
It's also a picture that looks like she is looking at me. I often look at it and imagine her saying what my therapist keeps saying: write, even if it feels awkward and painful and silly. It doesn't matter if you are good at it or not. It is what feeds you and keeps you semi-sane and we need you semi-sane so that you don't fall into the wholly insane category.
I have also secretly imagined her (Ann, not my therapist) telling me to "write that damned book you have been thinking about all these years and then I will one day interview you too, but I can't really promise to tell crazy people not to ask you questions. You have to understand what I am working with here." I respond by saying "Okay Ann, I'm working on it. And I promise not to re-schedule our interview no matter what, even if Oprah calls and says she needs to interview me on the same day."
She smiles and winks and then I go write for a bit.
Yes, but only because I have to. All those "experts" that say that you should work until you can't any more so that your life feels fulfilled are full of it. I love not working. I love sitting in a chair and not moving until I absolutely have to. I love sitting on the beach for hours on end in long-sleeves and pants so I won't get sunburned because you can't sit comfortably all day if you are sunburned. I love sending my children to my parent's house so that I can do even less work.
I do own and operate a part-time school for families who want to homeschool, but who don't really want the responsibility of educating their children for real. Who really wants to be completely in charge of their child's education? I guess some do, but I know I don't want all the responsibility.
I started the school so that all of us that have our children attend can feel a bit at ease that we can at least partly blame someone else if our child is a huge failure in life without having to give 100% of the blame to the underpaid, overworked public school teachers or 100% blame to ourselves.
It's all about balance. My teachers only get part of the blame. They sign a contract saying that they will be three-fifths or 60% blamed if any child ends up failing at life. Our teachers aren't educated enough to know that they should always read the fine print. I didn't want to hire overly educated teachers because we really do need someone to blame if it all goes south.
In all seriousness, though, I do love this work because it really doesn't feel like work. I think it doesn't feel like work because it mostly fills my need to be creative. Plus, I get to tell parents that everyone is going to be okay even if their child can't yet read at 10 years old. Ringo Starr quit school as a child because he was so behind he couldn't catch up and he is a drummer worth 300 million dollars. I get to tell people this and see exhausted parents relax a bit and then see them enjoy the fact that they do get to be involved in educating their child as well as learn alongside of them. The even better part is that they also get a 3 day break from all of it each week. They only have to "educate" their children and "learn" something themselves for 2 days a week. It's a win-win for everyone involved, except for the teachers.
So, yes I do work and not because I have to, but because I love it.
Two. However, we are wondering if one may have been switched at birth.
Our oldest is just like us. He's 9 and he can barely read, but he's not worried about it because of Ringo Starr. He likes to do the least amount of work possible and loves to sit around all day, like his parents. He is definitely ours. Oh, and he is taking drum lessons which, although is only 30 minutes a week, definitely counts for one of the homeschooling days. Maybe not legally, but we believe in the "spirit" of the law over the "letter" of it.
Our youngest, however, is a soccer freak and she is good at it. Her dad and I don't even watch sports, much less play them. I am pretty sure I signed a contract saying I would never be a soccer mom, but I can't seem to find it anywhere. On "homeschool" days she is ready to start her lessons at 6 am. I am constantly having to remind her that homeschool never starts before about noon because mommy needs some time to wake up in the morning. She will even go out of her way and make up her own lessons because she is a very hard worker. If it weren't for the fact that she looks like her brother's twin we really would wonder if she was truly ours. To each its own.
No. Unless twins can be born two and a half years apart, so then maybe. I didn't go to medical school, so I can't really answer that question. Next question please.
Yes, you should, but not enough to call the authorities.
For two reasons, really. Reason number one is that I don't know how to put makeup on. I'm not exactly sure why I don't know how. My mom taught me when I was younger, but as I mentioned above, I have ADD, so I probably wasn't paying attention.
The second reason is because the only thing I hate worse than cooking dinner is getting ready for the day. Putting make-up on just adds an extra thing to the thing I already don't like doing.
I also don't brush my hair. The most amazing part about this is that my husband didn't even notice that I didn't brush my hair until my daughter's hair had grown long enough that it needed to be brushed. That's like 10 years of him not noticing - thank you Goody for your "ouch-less elastic hair ties" that come in packs of 100.
One evening he asked me where my brush was so that he could get the tangles out of our daughter's hair. I answered purely and honestly, "I don't have one." He responded, "You don't own a brush? Seriously?" I answered, "Yes, why?"
The next day there were two opened brush packages on the kitchen bar. I'm not sure if they were left there on purpose or not. We're still together, so I guess it doesn't really matter in the end.
It was at his place of work. He brought me the meal I had ordered, looked me in the eye and asked, "Are you unemployed?"
Staring blankly, I responded "Wait, what?"
"You are here so much I figured that you must not have a job."
Four years later we were married.
Also a true story.
He was born and raised in Idaho and lived in Oregon. Ashland of all places. Make-up was and is the least of his worries. He's just thankful that I shave my legs for at least 3 months out of the year.
Of course, Ann. A big picture of an elephant. This picture wasn't planned. I was looking backwards through magazines at the vision board class. I'm not dyslexic. I don't think. But, I always start at the back of magazines. I have no good reason for this. (Please refer to the question above about homeschooling.)
Anyway, I saw the picture and could not not have it. I don't even really know what it made me feel like in the moment other than it felt right to have it all for myself and my vision board. I hid the picture so no one else would think it was up for grabs and then I went up to my friend and said "I'm going to need a bigger poster board." She kindly handed me a full-sized board and I glued that elephant right dab in the middle of the board, everything else surrounding it, even Ms. Patchett.
I went home that night and googled "elephant symbolism" because google knows everything and because I wanted a reason for being so drawn to that picture. A website about spirit animals said things like "elephants represent wisdom, strength, leadership, etc., etc." In my humble, non-elephant like opinion, there are no coincidences. Those are all things I have been seeking in my life and now I have a picture to remind me to not stop searching for all of those things. That website also said something about "being a goddess." So much for being humble.
One last vision board picture I'll talk about. It is a picture of an FBI agent in the desert, squatting down at a laptop. A huge helicopter is off in the distance. It reminds me of what I am really doing here by writing. I am constantly searching for "truth" or "evidence" in this desert we call life. I rarely get it, but I can't stop searching for the reason of ultimately protecting my soul. It is my job to protect this soul of mine and to continue to search and to continue to seek. The helicopter is a reminder that there is always an escape when things seem too dangerous. I always have a choice to escape the danger, to fly off to what seems like a safer place. I often take that escape because, at times, the real truth feels so very scary. And, sometimes I just need a break from it all. But, I always come back. That picture, for me, is a reminder that I always have a choice - to stay or to go, but I must always, at some point, come back.
There is no retirement from the job of protecting my soul. There is no end to the work of searching for the truth. That is a job I can keep working at so that I feel fulfilled in this life. Maybe those "experts" aren't so full of it after all.
She is a really good local author who also owns a really awesome bookstore called Parnassus Books here in Nashville, TN. She has no idea who I am...yet.
(If you are not sure whether or not to believe me about any or all of this, the post here should help.)