My sister, Emily, is putting on a 5k in Shelbyville this August and over the past week or so, I’ve been training for it.
That’s right. The eden who said she would never run—specifically, the eden who said that even if something awful was chasing her, she would rather be eaten alive than pick up the pace—is going to run (and probably keel over dead during) the Runaway Bride/Runaway Groom 5k.
“What on earth could drive someone as adamant as eden to go against principles she’s held for most of her life?” you might ask. “Charity? Personal betterment? An attempt at a healthier lifestyle? The desire to measure oneself? The need to achieve something?”
None of the above. I just don’t want to do any of the jobs Emily might find for me to do if I’m not running. And I imagine there are a lot of them—timer, register, water-hander-outer, the guy who writes down what everybody’s number is, etc., etc., etc.
“So, you would rather run 1-3.1 miles a day for the next two months than do a small menial job for half an hour? Say, holding a stopwatch or handing out t-shirts?”
Yes. In fact, I have a long history of doing more work to get out of doing less work.
Ask my high school biology teacher. Instead of gathering, pressing, and labeling the native leaves of Missouri over the allotted 3-month period, I found them all the night before they were due, pressed them between cookie sheets and baked them in my mom’s oven. Then I pretended to be sick that next morning so I had time to glue, label, and binder my leaf project, before suddenly feeling better, calling around, finding a way to school to turn it in that afternoon.
Better yet, ask any teacher who required my class to keep a journal and then turn it in at the end of a semester. You think it’d be easy for a writer to write half a page a week about anything he or she wanted. The thing is, though, you can find about ten different pens and pencils around your house and fabricate entries the night before they’re due. (Helpful Tip: To make it especially engaging for your reader, refer to a “previous” entry in a “later” one. Maybe you realized something about yourself as a person or learned to see things from a different point of view.) My favorite trick is to start an entry with a pen that’s almost dead, run out of ink, try scribbling at the top to get that darn pen to work, then get a different pen to finish. It gives your journal an earnest, true-to-life appearance that your reader can relate to.
I once made, printed, and “wore-in” a funeral program for my little brother, falsified airline e-ticket documents, and forged an excuse from my dad just so I didn’t have to do makeup work for skipping one too many (terminally boring) composition classes in college.
I just don’t want to do the up-front work required to make life easier. I can’t even imagine living in a world where I put my nose to the grindstone, make a sincere effort, and rise through the ranks until I hold some respectable position in a reliable 9-5 job.
This is probably a huge reason I’m a writer. Say I write a book over the course of a year (Halo took me eight months, but let’s round up). Then I spend a year revising it, getting feedback, overhauling, and re-revising. Then another year doing the various and sundry things it takes to publish a book. Three years.
If I had a consistent job that paid $7 an hour, with two weeks’ vacation (and not counting all the days I would undoubtedly call in sick because I’m a terrible employee) I’d have made $42,000 in three years’. Also, I’d have 3024 hours of free time (not counting the assumed 8 hours a night for sleep).
The payoff for those same three years as a writer is anywhere from $80 on the low end (this is assuming every one of your family and friends buys your self-published book and not counting the expenses of self-publishing) to $20,000 on the high end (assuming you sign with a major publisher who thinks you’re aces and wants to promote your debut book out the wazoo (Which, by the way, they never want.)). The best-case scenario figures out to a whopping $1.14 an hour. And in case you’re wondering, there’s no such thing as “free time” for writers, only “wasted time.” If you’re not making words into sentences, you might as well be hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.
But I’d still rather write because, in my mind, it seems like a keen way out of doing a real job. (And other reasons that even fewer would laugh at.)
What was my point? I guess that I realize I would rather take the hardest possible way out than do a small amount of work because any way out at all makes me feel like I beat the system.
Or, “The Annual February Progress Report”
This year, I decided to teach myself to skateboard.
For those of you keeping track at home, this is my third New Year’s resolution since starting this blog. The difference between those other resolutions and this one is that, this time, I’m going to accomplish my goal. No more half-finished classy as balls for me. This year, all the stars have aligned—I have access to non-interstate asphalt, I have a place to practice when the weather’s bad, my youngest son got a retro dart for Christmas, and I’m finally, finally, FINALLY coordinated enough not to kill myself.
Yessiree, 2013 is the year of skateboard.
The thing is, almost no one is taking me seriously. I realize there are some ridiculous elements to a stay-at-home mother of two learning how to skateboard and that most of those elements are in the way I phrased this sentence. But I’m already making respectable progress. I know how to shift my weight to weave around something, how to make a very, very wide turn, how to go up and down small hills without falling off or sliding backward, and I’m working on sudden sharp turns.
Since most of my detractors have the same “concerns,” I’ll be addressing them in this handy FAQ.
“Yes, skateboarding is a skill, but what will you do with it once you learn?”
Well, not become a professional skateboarder, that’s for sure. I’ve got a busy year ahead of me. In case you haven’t heard yet, I’m turning 26 tomorrow at 6:19 a.m. and that’s kind of a big deal. What with making Halo (How to Kill Yourself in a Small Town, for you non-inside-my-headers) a best-seller, finishing Halo II, spanking my kids, getting snakebite piercings, and spending as much of this this summer in the water as possible, I don’t have the kind of time it would take to find out how somebody becomes a professional skateboarder and then become one.
“Why waste your time learning, then?”
Because I’ve always wanted to know how to skateboard. My whole life I’ve thought, “That looks like so much fun! And it’s so cool.” And guess what? I was right. Skateboarding is fun and cool.
There’s also this brilliant article I read a few months ago called, “6 Harsh Truths that Will Make You a Better Person.” If you need motivation to do anything at all, you should read it. It will also help answer the question, “Why bother?”
“But if you’re not going to use skateboarding for anything—”
I’m going to use it for being awesome and having fun. What other anything is there?
Or, “The View from February”
It recently occurred to me that I’ve been making respectable progress with my New Year’s Resolution and I haven’t even mentioned it on this blog yet. Most of my loyal readers (assuming there are any) know that earth-shaking resolutions aren’t my style. I don’t want to look back on January from the vantage point of my birthday and think “Man, I was going to lose five pounds, but then I learned how easy it was to make chocolate chip cookie dough with Bisquick.” (So easy, by the way).
I tend to make resolutions that are easily achievable—“Go outside at midnight” to combat my fear of the dark or “Have another baby” the year I was pregnant with Bear—or that reflect who I am on the most fundamental level. This year is a prime example of the latter. My New Year’s Resolution for 2012 was to use the phrase “classy as balls” more often.
What does that mean?
Literally, it means as stylish or sophisticated as a pair of human testicles.
No, what does it mean?
It means that part of me is a twenty-two-year-old male who is exactly as cocky as he sounds.
That actually explains a lot, if you’re my husband. Why I love the song Keasbey Nights by Streetlight Manifesto so much. Why every time a jacked-up truck with mud tires and no muffler rumbles by my heart goes crazy. Why I like Arrogant Bastard Ale and why on rare, wonderful mornings I eat barbecued hot dogs for breakfast.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that the twenty-something guy inside of me is also a serious white trash hick. Again, lucky for me. I’m faithful to the death to Ford. I just got a tat on the back of my right hand that will tell you everything you need to know about my beliefs. I say “worsh” and mean it. And the next time my husband starts to make fun of me for owning my cricker heritage, I’m going to point out that he chose to get a tattoo of a cross on his side. There is nothing more white trash, balls-classy* than that—except maybe growing up in Arkansas.
That got off-track fast. The point I was making at the beginning of this post is how well I’m doing on my New Year’s Resolution. The rules clearly state that I must use the phrase “classy as balls” in regular, everyday conversation in a way that is both relevant and natural. That means it can’t be forced and that my writing doesn’t count toward usage. So far I’ve said “classy as balls” seven times in as many weeks. I feel like I’m making progress. The going is slow, but by the end of the year, I hope to have used it at least 100 times.
To keep myself accountable, I’ll regularly update my readers on the running tally with a “CAB Count.” (By “regularly” I mean “whenever I write another post” which could be any time, really, and probably won’t be on any regular schedule.) And, of course, at the end of the year, I’ll be throwing a Classy As Balls Party, which will be everything it implies. I hope to see you there to celebrate my victory over sophistication.
*Permutations of the phrase “classy as balls” are acceptable if used in conversation and count toward the running score which is being kept officially on my whiteboard at home.