Chew! PLEASE!?!

“Chew.” The man was trying to be patient. He could get recalcitrant students to keep up in his economics class, but was failing at this seemingly simple task. The child’s jaw moved twice. Then stopped. The man took a breath. “Terri? Chew.”

The rest of the family had finished dinner a quarter hour earlier. And yet, the man still sat at the table, watching his young daughter in the chair beside him in this nightly ritual: getting me to eat.
I wasn’t a picky eater. Nor was I simply stubborn – although that is a trait I have been accused of from time to time. The truth is, I’d forget. Yes, forget. Despite the delicious food in my mouth, my mind would leave the chair I was in, the dining room, the house, the world, and be whisked away by random thoughts that consumed me beyond me consuming my dinner. I couldn’t explain, then or now, what the ideas where or why they were so captivating. They just were.
A number of articles have been circulating over the past few months equating creativity as something akin to schizophrenia – more conscious information in the brain than other people have. The difference between the schizophrenic and the creative is the ability to function despite of it. But sometimes, it’s a fine line.
I look back on my life and that makes sense. Between forgetting to chew and the worm family that I played with outside the back door and the box of live snakes and the Barbie dolls I would place in my toy oven to play mad-scientist, I was different from other kids. I should have known I was writer. Yet, I always thought I should be more “normal.” But looking back, I’d say I never was.

7:35 p Mom

The house is quiet. The weak rays of the cloudy evening filter through the curtains, casting the room in an eerie twilight. Or maybe that’s my imagination. I strain to hear … I’m not sure what. I lean back in the chair in the corner, pulling my laptop open and staring again at the entry in green letters on my Google calendar.


7:35p Mom

I hold my breath. And wait.
The minutes pass. Nothing. The disappointment of that nothing flows through me, washing away the trembling fear that something might have happened. In the end, only the disappointment remains.
You see, I have no explanation for that entry on my calendar. Two years ago on this day, my mother passed away. It was a welcome end to her suffering, but a tragic loss to our family and the community to which she was so dedicated, leaving a gaping hole in many lives. But the end of her life was not at 7:35 p.m. Nor did I place this entry on my calendar. No explanation.
I shiver. And wait. And still nothing happens.
And I wonder. What would my mother think of my life now? Would she approve of the people whose lives have become entwined with mine on this journey? Could she make sense of my constant struggle to balance my day job with my writing, and editing, and querying, and still have a bit of a life? I’m not sure Mom would understand the writing part, but she would understand the passion and commitment. I get that from her. That woman could do more in a day than any normal person could do in a month. I smile. Yes, she would understand that part of it.
To the best of my knowledge none of my Scottish, English or Japanese ancestors were writers of any sort. Not a single novelist, playwright or poet. The talent and understanding of the craft I’ve had to develop on my own. But what I got from my mother is just as important: the understanding that unrelenting hard work, aimed correctly, bears its own joy, the wisdom of picking my battles carefully, mixed with the stubbornness to not give up until the result satisfied me.
The sunlight fades, and with it my disappointment. Something did happen at 7:35 pm. The inexplicable entry on my calendar forced me to sit back and reflect on how much my mother is still with me.
Thanks, Mom.