Monday, August 1, 2016

August Already

I have so many things I'd like to blog about but can't. Some are not my stories. Some are a little bit my stories but mostly belong to somebody else. Some are really good stories that I've agreed not to write about yet--I'll get to tell them eventually.

Then there's my novel. The War I Finally Won. I sent revisions in before I went to ALA, and in my imaginary perfect world I would have been working on the next draft for the last two weeks, while my children were both gone (a state I will soon be reconciled to, I'm sure), and I would have completed it in spectacular fashion, etc. Instead I have a loving email from my hard-working editor saying, tomorrow, maybe this afternoon, for her notes. I tore off a calendar page this morning. It is ALREADY AUGUST.

Also, I no longer have a student in high school. I knew this, of course--I did attend my daughter's graduation--but it's being brought home to me with force this morning, because on the Tennessee side of my hometown school begins again today. That's right. Summer's over. Now this is of course ridiculous. It should not be allowed. But here we are, and not for the first time--four years ago my daughter actually missed her first day of high school because we decided to go to London to watch the Olympics instead. Neither of us regret that decision--it was eight whole days of awesomeness--but then our flight was delayed coming home, and showing up for high school exhausted, jet-lagged, and one day behind everyone else, having come from a small parochial school and therefore knowing almost no one, was a bit tough for my daughter.

Still worth it.

I look at what a mess our country seems to be right now. I don't mean all this blather about Making Merica Great or what have you. I mean the politics and infighting and stupidity. I mean the short-sightedness, the fear of people who we can safely call Other.

No one is really Other. That's the secret we all need to learn.

When we were in Germany I had a sudden unexpected need for tampons. I went into a grocery store and could not find them, not anywhere, not by the shampoo or baby supplies or first aid or kleenex. I walked the small store in increasing perplexity. Finally I found a female shop clerk, my age, and asked for help. She spoke no English. I spoke no German. It is a little embarrassing to resort to gestures in a case like this, but I managed to explain myself, and the woman very helpfully let me to the dog food aisle, where the tampons were. I said, "Danke, danke," and she said, "Have a nice day!" and we both laughed.

Everyone in the United States, right now, should have to go ask for tampons somewhere no one speaks their language. They should have to go ask a Turkish Muslim for tampons. A Zulu woman. A tiny elderly person somewhere in China. They should have to go and feel foolish and look foolish (those gestures!) and be treated with compassion. The country would be a better place.

Meanwhile, what the hell happened to July? And how did my children age faster than me?