Tag Archives: huck finn

Because this Facebook post is going to save America

I’ve been reading a lot of Mark Twain this summer. In fact, a few weeks ago, I dramatically declared to my husband that “this is The Summer of Twain!” while wearing a straw hat and holding a fishin’ pole (because everything is more fun when you can annoy your spouse with it).

It started out that I simply wanted to re-read the adventures of Tom and Huck on long, hot, lazy afternoons. But then, while searching for my copies of these books, I found seven other Twain books languishing on my shelves. Challenge accepted! I thought to myself as I instantly started searching for fishin’ poles on Amazon so I could properly break the news to my husband.

I’m happy to report that so far it’s turning out to be one of my better life decisions (much better than my decision last summer to sign my toddler up for soccer). It’s also having some unexpected patriotic side effects.

I was halfway through “Tom Sawyer,” for example, when a flood of memories from my semi-feral childhood in rural Ohio crashed into my brain. The next thing I know I’m asking my kids if they want to go down to the “crick” and have a picnic (to which they responded by staring at me with professional-grade disdain).

I was only one chapter into “Life on the Mississippi” before I found myself doing CPR on my ancient, wheezing junior high plans to visit every state in the Union.

And then there’s the quotes. Oh, those quotes. The man would just spit out viral-ready gems like “Loyalty to the nation all the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it” long before the Internet was even a twinkle in Al Gore’s great-grandpa’s eye.

It’s that last one I blame for convincing me it was a good idea to write a political post on Facebook even though previous experience has taught me that there is only one way that ends, which is with all parties involved concluding this world can only be cleansed by fire.

I knew better. You reading this know better. My dog, who has his own Twitter account, knows better. Yet, there I was, romanticizing in my head how Twain brilliantly shed light on our faults as a country and why can’t I do that? I mean, I know words and stuff. Sometimes even BIG words. And with that fail-safe logic, I quickly assured myself that this Facebook political post would be different.

Not only that but it would MAKE all the difference.

It will be well-thought out, says I, clever even, a bit funny, yet poignant, a chastising that morphs into a rallying cry but with a sprinkling of self-deprecation so as to make the medicine go down easier. I mean, I’m not such a Pollyanna that I think a cheesy little paragraph on social media could truly solve anything (I’m only a quarter Pollyanna on my mother’s side). But, on the other hand, these four sentences could be the wisest and most courageous thing the Internet has ever seen.

I won’t know until I try, right?

So I type it out on my phone while pacing the dining room floor, my fingers flying over the tiny keyboard. I’m excited. Nervous almost. So much so it takes a while because I keep making typos. I reread it. Erase that part. Think it over. Put it back in. NO, SWEETIE, MOMMA CAN’T HELP YOU WITH YOUR UNDERWEAR. SHE’S BUSY SAVING AMERICA. Change the wording here. Is that how you spell “tyranny”? I don’t want to get ahead of myself but can you win awards for these kinds of thing? SO GO NAKED THEN. I’LL HELP WHEN I’M DONE BEING AN AMAZING PATRIOT.

I quickly post it. Before I lose my nerve. But already regret has started to set in. I take a deep breathe and remind myself it will all be fine. I just need to remember not to respond to any comments. I already said what I had to say. Let everyone else sling mud at each other down in the gutters.

And I firmly stick by that. For all of three minutes. It’s just this one guy, you know? He’s so smug. So I gently point out how he’s wrong. And three exchanges later, I gently point out how he can suck it. I’m outraged and also nauseous that anyone could believe the things this random person I now hate believes. But I can’t stop. I can’t just WALK AWAY. I have to win this fight. I have to make them see how stupid they are. Win the online fight, win AMERICA.

Except no one wins. Except maybe Facebook.

Hours, sometimes days, later, it’s all over and I feel vaguely dirty and vow to never, ever discuss politics ever again.

But I will. Because this country has been very good to me and I love it for that. So I’m going to keep fighting to make it good for everybody.

And because I may just be another idiot arguing on the Internet but I refuse to let those other idiots have the last word.

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A eulogy for procrastination (that I’ll finish writing later)

When you have a baby, many things are added to your life. Pure joy, for one. A love you didn’t know was possible, for another. Happiness. A sense of meaning. Wisdom (well, relatively…babies are super dumb so you are super wise in comparison).

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Of course, it’s a bit of a trade-off because you lose things too in the process. A good night’s sleep. Daydrinking. The ability to talk to people without mentioning poop or very private medical details.

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But the thing I miss the most is procrastination.

We’ve been friends a long time, procrastination and me. We first met in high school, where we spent countless mornings in the girl’s bathroom together, furiously copying Misty’s Spanish homework in the seven minutes between arriving at school and the first bell (which wasn’t really cheating because I was totally absorbing the material as I sloppily scribbled it down…el gato esta en la microonda, comprende?).

Procrastination is also the reason why I read “Huckleberry Finn” in one night in college, closing the cover at 4 a.m. and realizing I had just read one the greatest books of all time as I drifted off to sleep (and then continued sleeping right through the exam).

But once you have a kid, being able to procrastinate is the second thing to go, right after the ability to watch any TV show in which a child gets kidnapped.

Yes, no longer do I possess the luxury of putting things off. Oh, trust me, I tried. There for awhile I kept my same kitchen cleaning schedule of “only do the dishes once you find yourself eating soup out of a Frisbee using a shot glass.” But then what ends up happening is that all the bottles and sippy cups are dirty and you have to wash an individual one in the sink like some kind of peasant and all the while the baby is screaming because he’s hungry and you realize you’re just going to repeat this whole horrible process in three hours unless you finally just cave in and load the dishwasher. And before you know it, suddenly you’re emptying and reloading the dishwasher every single day.

It’s the same way with the laundry. I put off doing it until the evening I realized Riker was completely out of clothes. So I just slapped my old Nirvana T-shirt on the kid, tucked him in and called it a night. Except I didn’t get a wink of sleep that night because I kept worrying that, of course, that night would be the night something horrible happened and I’d have to take him to the emergency room and the doctor would take one look at this tiny thing swimming in Kurt Cobain’s face and immediately call child services because I am obviously an unfit mother.

And let me tell you, you will only once, ONCE, miscalculate how many diapers you have and say to yourself “oh, that should be enough, we’ll just go to the store tomorrow.” Because babies can sense when you only have three diapers left and they view it as a personal challenge to use them all in the next 37 minutes.

I don’t even procrastinate on paying bills anymore. Because while having my electricity cut off and my landlord knocking on the door while I drink vodka in the dark and praise my creative spirit that wouldn’t let me sell out (I am CREATING ART, I have a DREAM, dammit) seemed very “la vie boheme” a few years ago, it’s just irresponsible and sad when you’re a parent.

But I think what I miss procrastinating the most on is this right here. Writing. As I type this very sentence, it’s been two hours since I sat down and started this column. And I’ve sat here this whole time, just typing word after word, until they became sentences and the sentences became paragraphs. I haven’t gotten up. I haven’t checked Facebook and Twitter. I haven’t made myself a snack or Googled new diets as I ate my snack or online shopped for clothes I would fit into thanks to my new future diet.

I just wrote.

Now, if you’re not a writer, you might think “well, yeah, that’s how it works.” But it’s not. Writing is the thing writers spend the least amount of time on. When a writer says they’re writing, what they’re really doing for three hours is anything else in the world followed by ten minutes of actual writing followed by Googling their own name as they eat Cheetos.

And I miss that. Deeply.

But here I sit. Actually writing. Because my husband has stuff he needs to do today and in a few minutes it will be my turn to play “Let’s Not Kill Ourselves!” with the baby.

So, for those of you out there who are still able to procrastinate, enjoy it. Luxuriate in it. Hug it, kiss it, then air hump it and spoon it for an hour.

Because once it’s gone, once you actually have to do the stuff that needs to be done all the time, you’ll miss it.

Or at least you would if you weren’t busy sweeping the floors because you just pulled your baby out from under the table and he looked like he went a couple of rounds with some mammoth dust bunnies on steroids and lost.