Imagine wanting something so very, very much you are willing to make sacrifices for it. Now imagine you get that thing. And then imagine how you are forced to give it up after having it for three days. I got my kitchen. On Wednesday. On Saturday we left for the city.
The stuff of dreams
I know it’s good manners to dream about profound things such as making the world a better place by planting a dozen trees or having money to donate to charities that feed the starving or magically making people more critical in their thinking rather than TV and social media consumption machines but you know what? You can have those dreams and some smaller, more material ones. I dreamed of having a big kitchen. And this week I got it.
It’s a funny thing when a dream comes true even one as easy to fulfill as having a new kitchen. I remember dreaming of moving to England in my teens and the awe and fascination that overwhelmed when that actually happened. It felt unreal at first and it took a while until it began to feel real and actually happening. I had the same feelings when I beheld my brand new, fresh-smelling cupboards with doors with anti-slam mechanisms I hadn’t asked for but got nevertheless.
A dream come true opens up so many opportunities. When I went to England I began writing. When I looked at my kitchen the other day I saw all the space I had for cooking and baking, and I had the best feeling ever — the eager anticipation that only comes with dreams fulfilled that keep on giving. Also an odd sense of liberation I can’t exactly explain but suspect it might be related to the stress I subjected myself to while we were getting it done. And I promise this is the last you’ll hear about my kitchen for a while.
Back to school
It’s that time of the year again and while I will as usual celebrate the end of a period during which I had to worry about Little C.’s screen time and have arguments about it, I would also need to mourn the start of fresh worry about how she will do this year.
Fourth grade is important. It ends with a national exam and the better C. does at that exam the better her chance of getting accepted into a good school next year. Fourth grade — and then seventh — are the two highest anxiety points in a parenting career and most miss the first one because kids stay at the same school until seventh or eighth grade, which is the end of middle school and obligatory education. Lucky lot.
This anxiety is normally treated with private lessons in this or that subject, a lot of nagging and a lot of additional homework assigned by the ambitious (and anxious) parent. And you know what? Now that I write this, I realise I don’t have the energy for this anxiety. C. has been taking private maths lessons since first grade because she wanted to. We’re going to stick with these and as for the rest I’m happy to say I can rely on her sense of responsibility and dread at the prospect of a failing grade.
This wasn’t even our fault. She received a failing grade at a midterm last year in a subject I refuse to translate but is basically geography and history in one. The midterm was in the historical portion of the textbook (1500 years of kings and wars and cultural heritage squeezed into one term. Nice, right?). Her father and I promptly shrugged it off but she was so scared she would have to repeat third grade (again, not us) she sat and studied the way I’ve only studied at university. And she got an A in her final. With a mind like that the only thing I need to worry about is stress and that naughty boy who distracts everyone in class. If you want to experience real life, procreate.
Experience the experience
I noticed it in passing a while ago but recently it slapped me in the face so badly I couldn’t move on to the passing point. “People who experience homelessness” was the phrase that slapped me. It was in the lead of an article someone had shared on Twitter and while I didn’t read it that phrase stuck out and, like I said, slapped me. And put me in the mood to slap back at whoever had come up with it.
I have the suspicion some media use certain words to make what they report more palatable, more normal. This, of course, makes their writing something very different from journalism but this is another topic altogether. There is nothing normal in homelessness or hunger and there is nothing glamourous about them, either. You don’t “experience homelessness” the same way you don’t “experience starvation”. You’re homeless and/or starving, that’s it.
I would also argue people do not experience love, empathy and life in general. They fall in love, they give and receive empathy and they live. For the love of all that’s pink in this world, there are so many verbs in the English language and they are being shunned in favour of one that’s sterile, boring, and devoid of any meaningful emotion. I blame the marketing industry.
P.S. Autumn is truly here, the most profound of all seasons. Have a pine cone with a ladybird in it.
As always, welcome to my book-peddling corner (because books won’t sell/download themselves much as I’d like them to).
For a thriller wrapped in a dream made of smoke, death and destruction, with a filling of tragedy and atonement sprinkled with drama and served with a side of a relatable villain, press The Dreamer.
For random scary stories, here’s a complete list of my published shorter fiction.