Shaved Meats, Piled High: November 2022 edition
I wish I still had a copy, but somewhere there is a cartoon I drew of myself, depicting my head as a giant rectangle, sectioned off like a page in a monthly calendar. It's my superpower, it's my curse: When it comes to time, I see the big picture.
My kid, not so much. My beautiful 12-year-old, reared in an Internet world, believes that if you can see it there, you can manifest it here in less than 24 hours. This has created problems for past Halloweens. But this year, we were cruising toward a no-costume, no trick-or-treating Halloween -- until we weren't. Suddenly, there was a friend group with forever shifting plans, and I found myself in Target, 48 hours before Halloween, trying to cope.
And thus was born the concept of "Swerve." I told my daughter that if you can't execute a plan exactly as planned, the best strategy is to embrace your differentness, to do something that's arguably better than the original plan. Can't get that $17.99 Pooh T-shirt in time for Halloween? Make your own. I am not a crafty person, but I have one peculiar skill: I am very good at freehand cutting, something I learned in my Baltimore City grade school.
(Tinyletter seems increasingly dysfunctional and won't let me insert photos or links, so I'm going to insert the link this way: https://twitter.com/LauraMLippman/status/15865139397598617620.)
The concept of Swerve is that you're not trying to fake it; you cheerfully acknowledge that you can't do the thing you were supposed to do, so you do something different. It aligns with one of the "Four Agreements" -- Always do your best.
I'm skeptical of self-help lingo and I was particularly skeptical of this one tenet because it sounded dangerously close to perfectionism, a scourge in my opinion. But then I came to understand that one's best is often far from perfect. (The Four Agreements is quick to point that out as well, noting that one's best also changes depending on circumstances.)
The fact is, I also like the other three "agreements":
Be impeccable with your word.
Don't take anything personally.
Don't make assumptions. (This is the hardest one for me because it can require. being vulnerable.)
Someone asked me on Twitter (I'm staying for now) if I was always "crafty" or if it was a skill unleashed by motherhood. I don't think I'm crafty at all, but I do know what my skill set is. I'm good at deadlines and long-range planning, things I learned from journalism and novel-writing.
Now excuse me, but I have to go make a tutu. Piece of cake for someone who's lived in New Orleans and masked on many a Mardi Gras day.
Reading/Read: I Have Some Questions For You, Rebecca Makkai and many, many other galleys for forthcoming books. (I got really behind because of some family issues.)
Re-Reading: (Really Re-Listening): Cleaving, by Julie Powell.
Me, Me, Me: I showed up in another trivia quiz and this one even spelled my name right. But I won't feel I've really made it until I make the New York Times crossword puzzle (a four-letter word for Baltimore's most famous private detective would work nicely in the Monday puzzle) or, the summit of summits, Jeopardy.