Buttoned up

I shake the principal’s hand but clam up and don’t introduce myself, starstruck I guess, and then file in behind others to the auditorium and a seat comfortably in the back. A couple comes in at the very end and takes the two seats in front of me. He is waiting for her to sit down and she is waiting for him to read her mind and take the water bottle and papers from her hand so she can remove her jacket. My jacket is still on, buttoned up and everything. The first speaker has a gravelly, high pitched voice and the second speaker is smooth baritone, but peppered with uhs and ums. The third speaker is just right, but implies our children should be taking Advanced Placement Calculus and Physics. He must be talking to the raven-haired mom two rows ahead, who nods vigorously. I drift off and count gray heads in the crowd. Two gray ladies, just like me, one stylishly cut with cute glasses and the other with long straight hair and ruddy cheeks of a young girl that somehow makes me think ‘older woman’. I spot a man I remember from AA meetings a million years ago. His hair isn’t really gray and he wouldn’t remember me. I imagine plucking these three from their seats so we could meet afterwards and I would say what was all that nonsense about AP Calculus, hm?

This is something I wrote in the spirit of Homework for Life, which I mentioned late last year. It has failed to freeze time like it does in movies so that I can run around and tweak the noses of people I do not care for, but I am enjoying the practice. Every morning when I journal, I take something from the day before and turn it into a mini story or byte. We literally have stories all over the place and it helps me to stay present by looking for the details there. Like, in the above sequence, I not only remember the woman who couldn’t sit down because she was holding a water bottle and wearing a jacket, but I also remember how sheepish her husband looked when he finally did read her mind. I remember he was wearing a belt holster for his phone like it was 1999. He had a fuzzy haircut like a baby chick. I remember another woman three rows up who was chewing gum so distractingly I decided maybe I shouldn’t chew gum at all.

Right now my homework for life tends to be snarky, and this worries me a little. Snarkiness is fear-based, and maybe I should have chosen Fear as my word-of-the-year because I am able to poke at it with a stick through exercises like this. Time and Fear wait for no man, and so they are hard to slow down to get a really good look. I like being able to go back and get a closer look in these tiny, frozen snapshots.



26 thoughts on “Buttoned up

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  1. I find it kind of cool that you were counting gray heads in the room. I’ll have to try this sometime.
    I still find things that I’m afraid of. I try not to be afraid but some fear is good (I think) mainly for self preservation.
    In the course of doing “word of the year” for quite a few years now, I will tell you that usually one year’s word leads to the next year’s word. Don’t worry about it. Just be open to learning more about yourself. The rest will fall into place. xo

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I like that idea … of taking something from the day and trying to turn it into a story. But, as you’re not liking the snarky tone of what you’re doing lately, I think the tone of anything I write at the moment would not be very productive either.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Just a simple writing exercise and you captured me again. You really should work on a novel, Kristen, really. I’m wondering about the different stories you could conger about the gray hairs in the room.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. what a great idea…is that a course?…you gave the name, i’l look it up…LOL!
    I was thinking exactly about you the other day when deciding whether to color my hair again or not. The roots were a disaster and it was past the usual timing, but i am so tired of it. However, i don’t have beautiful grey hair….mine is just a crummy dark brown with a lot of flecks in it.
    So i colored.
    But I am tried of it….sigh.
    and i agree with joanne above….the next word does tend to flow into the next year, altho it is perfectly acceptable to change words at anytime

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I had no idea what my natural color would look like, even months in. I’ve heard other women say the same. If you want inspiration, there’s a great group on the FB called going gorgeously gray. Homework for life is from a TED talk, should be a link in this post but maybe you found it already. It’s worth watching.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m having fun doing similar Kristen, and it’s really satisfying…it’s surprising how much you can lose from memory and recall, if you want to reuse it in story-writing or any type of writing, and similarly, surprising how much stays in there too, or what comes up from the past if you really focus on bringing it up. I’m doing that and having lots of success with it this month, and writing in the mornings too before anyone else is up. I wish you well and hope you keep at it, if it’s bringing you joy. The blog is a great way to share, too. Fear is a funny, terrible thing I think. It can run so much of our lives and really prevent us from living I think…but I’ll shut up and shut down here now. Bill

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Kristin, your creative genius never ceases to amaze me. Seriously. Did you think this up on your own? Can anyone join in? The lesson I am taking away… other than the validation that Kristin is the Queen of Creative Writing… is “Snarkiness is fear-based.” Uh-oh, that one hit right between the eyes, which means I’ve got some reflection to do. Anyway, I love the original writing, I love the way you can see how much it seals moments in your memory, and I love that you can chart the evolution, and whether the progression is healthy or something to check within yourself. Love, love, love!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Love your description of the sheepish hubby with the baby chick fuzzy hair and 1999 holster.
    The interesting thing about writing every day is that your focus, theme and style changes as the weeks go by. I’ve found that reading over and analyzing any journal / writing project entry too soon after it’s written affects the natural flow of entries to come, which is the goal of daily entries right? Let your thought processes flow and evolve without critiquing them. Review them next year. 🙂 You just might surprise yourself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great point. It does change and evolve and I regret labeling it snarky. I never go back and read old entries and don’t have any desire to. I keep them all just in case. Who knows. Thanks for making the comment and point.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for being gracious. After I hit send I wondered if I overstepped. I do love you writing and admire anyone who can inject humour and wit into their writing. I might’ve been projecting a bit with my comment as I too, tend to over-evaluate and not so kindly judge my own writting. Hugs and happy-writing to you. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I do try, really. I notice it and then imagine the flip side, or where the other person might be coming from. Maybe it’s hopeless (retraining a lifetime of snark), maybe it just takes a long time. I’ll keep at it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I knew I was saving this for a reason…for the just the right moment.
    What an amazing piece! I loved the scene in the gym–I could have been there myself.
    I wish I was a better journaler. You bring such a sense of clarity, of story, of relevance. I wasn’t there, it wasn’t about me…but, it could have been.
    You have a real gift, Kristen. Wow.


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