I was brainstorming with a student this weekend about her college admissions essay, and found myself asking this doozy of a question: “What kind of person do you think you are?”
As polite as this kid is, she couldn’t help but squint and look at me as if I had two heads. I recoiled slightly and realized I sounded exactly like a stupid, stodgy adult. In fact, I could practically hear her response, which was (and rightly should have been): “Lady, if I knew that, I sure wouldn’t be spending my Sunday afternoon with you.”
But it got me thinking. What is it about self-introspection that makes it so tough? What is one’s character, exactly? And how can you ever really know if you actually know yourself?
I was standing in Gabrielle’s dorm room desperately folding t-shirts. It seemed, at the moment, that my life depended on this growing stack, so I pulled 100 percent cotton from a suitcase and I folded. T-shirts advocating coffee consumption. Ones promoting unicorns. Ones boasting Sherlock Holmes. Ones with stripes. Ones with watermelons.
All in a stack.
One after another.
I folded and, buddy, I folded.
If that stack were neat and pristine, then I would stay neat and pristine.
Can you we please talk about the word “vacuum?”
Because, I’ve had enough. I spell it wrong every single time and, every single time, I get annoyed. I mean, is that seriously how it’s spelled? Two U’s? One C? No E in sight?
Adding insult to injury, there is no surefire way to remember how to spell it either. For a while, I tried to convince myself its hose, when hung, looks like double U’s. But it doesn’t. When hung, it looks like oval-shaped O’s. It looks about as much like U’s as it does C’s.
I’m sitting at the eye doctor with Gabrielle, who has just had her pupils dilated. It’s appropriate enough, as, nearly since I started writing this column 13 years ago, I described her as being a saucer-eyed kid. Today, her beautiful, big eyes look like they might contain whole planets and as she looks blindly around, I’m grateful she can’t see the tears in my eyes.
This, dear readers, is the last doctor’s appointment I will take her to before she leaves for college this weekend. It’s a strange feeling, and I’m seeing everything with new perspective this morning.
Let me tell you about a girl named Tilly. That’s right, dear readers, it’s time to update you on our little Bostie babe, who has been with us nearly three months now. I know you are beyond excited to read yet another column about our puppy, amIright?
Right now, Tilly is sleeping beside me with one ear up and one folded over like a baby puppy’s. Tilly’s ears are a serious subject of conversation in this house as they truly seem to stand upright or droop over according to her many moods. The one up-one down look generally happens when she’s feeling particularly feisty, which she certainly was from 6:45 this morning onwards.
So feisty, in fact, that she promptly peed on the rug that lies beside the front door. Keep in mind, I was leaning over to open said door so she could go outside. But, nope, with the ultimate amount of both elegance and confidence, she squatted and stared right at me, as if to say, “Peeing al fresco is for peasants, mother.”
Pip pip, cheerio, readers! I’m sitting here writing from Oxford, England, this week as part of a family vacay, our final one (and grand finale?) before Gabrielle heads off to college.
I’m looking out the window from the Red Mullions Guest House, getting ready to head back to London today, where we’ll hopefully tour Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The weather is warm and sunny and our Peugeot is ready to rock. William has managed driving on the left side of the road with aplomb.
Of course, the biggest development of the trip is that my British accent has gotten better over the past few days. I know, aren’t you as relieved as I am? Take a listen:
“Don’t listen to him. He’s all mouth and no trousers.”
“I was chuffed at the football match.”
“Great job, William, you’re a real corker.”
Yesterday, I sat on a little silver ottoman that I found outside of the fitting rooms at H&M. It was shaped like a cube and was button-tufted to boot, the kind of perch meant for parents who are waiting for their teens or forlorn boyfriends who wonder how they’ll be compensated after being so patient.
I sat looking out at the bright, shiny store, musing about what had landed all of these people at Fayette Mall at 2 o’clock on a Tuesday. A girl flipped through the racks looking at a series of cropped tops with words like “Oh” and phrases like “Où est la piscine?” written on them. Meanwhile, another, holding an armful of prospective purchases, declared she hated shopping.
Then my phone buzzed.
Some women buy a new outfit to commemorate a birthday. Some a new pair of shoes to celebrate an accomplishment. For others, a little T.J. Maxx purchase as a pick-me-up on a low day. For me? My wardrobe reliably expands every second weekend in July when I add a festival dress to my closet.
The dress, of course, is in honor of the Master Musician’s Festival, the most wonderful time of the summer. If you haven’t been, MMF is a two-day music festival set up on the verdant grounds of Somerset Community College. In the past, Tiffany Bourne and her crew have hosted Counting Crows and Willie Nelson and, this year, the legendary John Prine takes to the stage. Yes, the John Prine, the “daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where Paradise lay” John Prine.
I’m writing from the basement bedroom right now while thunder booms upstairs. The dogs are playing somewhat happily at my feet (it’s hard to tell when their form of play is biting each other’s face), though Fitz stops and looks up with concern with every particularly loud clap. Unlike his sis Tilly, who ain’t afraid of nothin’, Fitz isn’t big on rain.
I, on the other hand, am firmly in the opposite camp. You could even call me a ceraunophiliac, provided I’m not standing near a tree, and the boomier and forkier the storm, the better.
“Right now, I’m about as hungry as the person who discovered snails are edible.”
Last week, I was welcomed to Planet Colonoscopy, a world I discovered isn’t as crappy as I thought it might be. In fact, most of the process was actually rather painless, even the drinking the medicine and pooping your brains out section.
But the part that got me?
The not eating bit.