Most Epic Procrastination Ever

This is a story that I documented years ago, because it was frustrating and funny at the same time. Someday, David will be famous for his ability to turn a situation around for his benefit. After reading this, you will probably understand why!

In 2009 David had some homework to complete on a Thursday, because it was due on Friday morning. He was not yet 8-years old.  At the time my work schedule allowed me to pick him up at home and take him out to look for trains – along with doing his homework. Generally this method worked well; we both love trains and it was a way to keep him engaged. I tried to help him work at his own pace, while setting the goal that the work needed to be completed. The key with him is to maintain his flow rather than forcing my own. But on one particular Thursday, his flow became so funny that I started taking notes. It started when we got trackside in Seattle, at 2nd Ave S. and S. Horton Street at around 5:30pm.

Kurt: “Okay, now that we’re trackside let’s do some homework.”

David: “Not yet. I want to eat first. I want Burger King.”

BK is a mere block away from where we were shooting video. So we watched trains for awhile, went and got our food (Angry Whopper meal / Kid’s Plain Cheeseburger Meal) and went back to Horton. After eating our food and watching a few more trains, it was time.

David: “Not here. I want to do homework at Holgate.”

So we headed that direction, just in time to have a massive freight train go through the crossing. We parked along the side of the road and I shut off the truck.

Kurt: “Okay let’s get started.”

David: “No, not here.”

Kurt: “Why not?”

David: “Because we’re not at Holgate.”

He was right. I had parked on South Lander Street by mistake. So we headed north to Holgate and parked.

David: “I can’t work. The sun is in my eyes.”

Kurt: “Turn your back to it. This is where you chose to do homework.”

David: “…But I need to go to the bathroom.”

There isn’t a public restroom for miles in SODO. No parks.

Kurt: “Then we’ll need to go to Georgetown, mister. There aren’t any public restrooms around here.”

David: “Okay, I’ll start working on it. Can we play at the park after I do homework?”

Kurt: “Yes we can.”

So we headed south to Georgetown.

David: “Where’s my board?”

He was referring to the piece of wood he uses as a tabletop while sitting in the truck.

Kurt: “It’s behind the seat.”

David: “I can’t work without my board.”

We were almost there, so we parked the truck near the Georgetown Playfield. on a side street. I dug out the board from behind the seat. David looked down there and saw something else.

David: “I’ve got Hot Wheels down there.”

He tried to dig a bunch of stuff out.

Kurt: “It’s not time for Hot Wheels; it’s time for homework.”

He managed to dig something out anyway.

David: “Look…what’s this?”

He pointed a Potato Gun at my head.

Kurt: “I’ll tell you after you do homework. DON’T point that at people, mister. Even if it’s a toy.”

David: “Why? It’s not even real.”

Kurt: “Because it’s still not okay to point toy guns at people. Bad habit.”

David: “Where’s my pencil?”

He had managed to lose his pencil between Holgate and Georgetown.

David: “I don’t see it anywhere, Daddy. Did I throw it out the window?”

Kurt: “I really don’t know if you threw it out, mister. Here’s another one to use.”

I pulled another pencil from the visor.

David: “But my pencil had a Tiki eraser on it. I want that one.”

Kurt: “There are no choices here. That pencil is lost and I have another one.”

David: “Okay. What are you writing Dad?”

Kurt: “Nothing mister.”

I documented some more of our conversation on the back of an envelope. Then I went silent and looked out the window for the next 15 minutes, while David completed the three final pages. Total time involved to finish that last 15 minutes worth of homework?

1 3/4 hours.

Most Epic Procrastination Ever!

Broken Cookie

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The young woman ascended the stage with frailty, dragging a cane up the steps in her left hand.

The pastor’s wife stood near, ready to help her if she tipped or became wobbly. Stepping to the stage behind the woman was her husband, cradling their infant. Neither of them were over the age of thirty.

“I’m not here to tell you that our lives are perfect or great,” the woman said with a mild slur into the mic. “Our last year has been filled with garbage.”

The couple spent a good portion of the year handling her husband’s Crohns Disease flare ups, and it took a lot out of them. Then in September their child was born, a beautiful healthy baby. Two weeks later the young woman had a stroke. It changed so much of their lives. Now she talks with a slur, and walks assisted. But through it all she portrayed a strength and confidence that transcended any cane or paralysis.

“Life continues to be hard. But we have a beautiful healthy baby, and we are still together,” she said. “I could sit back and wonder why it all happened. These events were put in our lives for a reason. We’ll find out why someday, and I would rather look ahead and known that what we’ve endured may end up helping someone else.”

Her mindset reminds me of a broken cookie.

It may be in two pieces sitting there on the plate. It’s not perfect. Some might consider it unpresentable. The crack may have been unexpected, and the crack may also be severe. You can sit there and complain about the broken cookie, or you can eat the damn thing and take in all the wonderful tastes and textures it still offers even in two pieces. A cookie is a cookie. It tastes like a cookie. Work with the two parts and you still have a cookie. Expecting that cookie to be an exact circle, and unbroken, is like expecting a perfect life that only exists on paper or in a movie from the 1950s. What happened to that young couple could happen to anyone.

Expecting perfection sets all of us up for failure.

Life is real and life is unfiltered. There will be hardships, trials, setbacks and sideswipes. We don’t always get the promotion. Sometimes getting a 4.0 doesn’t mean you’re on a track to moneyville. There are bumps in the road. Curve balls come out of nowhere, and next thing you know your path has completely changed. I will admit that I don’t always react well when faced with an unexpected trip-up. But lately I’ve worked on taking a different approach when sidetracked by adversity; I ask myself “where could this take me?” I also try to look at it in a productive way. It’s not easy giving up control over something that you feel must be done a certain way. For some people, it’s nearly impossible. But consider this: It could be that the sidetrack was actually the way something was supposed to happen, and not necessarily the original plan. I’ve discovered that unexpected opportunities have presented themselves by taking the unexpected path.

I look at the cookie as a whole, and ignore the break.

If a young stroke victim can stand with her husband and child on a stage, and proclaim publicly that she’s taking on what’s being handed out, then I can look at my own life and unexpected struggles in a different way. How we see it is how it plays. Do you want to wallow or win? I choose the latter, and so did that young woman.

The cookie tastes great if you want it to.

Lighting The Past

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“Dad? Can we light my candle?” Jack asked me yesterday morning.

I looked to the clear mason jar on the hutch in the living room.  It was magnificent.  The lid was dotted with toy gems, while the innards of the jar were filled with colored granules in a red/white/blue flowing pattern.  Jack’s handiwork had been sitting there long enough for the candle to be invisible to my eyes over time.  “Sure,” I said, despite it being the middle of Summer with the temperature hanging around 80.  “How come?”

“We were never able to use it after I made it, because of Grandma’s oxygen machine.”

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Ghost Poke

1978 – One day I was sitting in the rec center at Cordell Hull Junior High, around a table in one of the four chairs.

Three of my friends were sitting in the others. One friend found a hole in the naugahyde and put his finger in. “Hahahahaha,” he said as he jammed his finger in and out of the hole. We all laughed too. Then he made one big hard jam into the hole with his finger.

The girl sitting across from him jolted almost out of the seat, like she was slipping off the naugahyde.

We all started laughing hysterically at this physical comedy that just unfolded in front of us. She laughed for about three seconds, then looked really creeped out – like something had poked her from inside the chair.

We all stopped laughing, looked around at each other, and never spoke of it again.

Protecto-Kitty

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This is Mollie.

Crosseyed, overweight, goofy-looking and 100% declawed (by a previous owner), Mollie was a wise and big-hearted companion. She squawked like a Siamese cat when she meowed, moved like a loose sandwich bag full of flour, and left a trail of stiff white fur most everywhere she went. Combing her fur created an entire second Mollie.  As it was with her feet, the tail was tiny and outsized by her jumbo body.  All that didn’t matter, because Mollie had such a gentle friendly soul.

She regularly slept with David​ when he was a baby, to the point that we called her Protecto-Kitty.

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We don’t know if she had ever been a mother, because she was fixed by the time we got her.  But she handled herself like a Mom; always loving, always watching.  Mollie came home with us in the late 1990s; at the time we had three cats: Salvador, Callie, and Tony. When Mollie got in the door, she followed her nose and gently introduced herself to each one.  And when she was finished, she flumped down in the living room and cleaned herself.

Her probationary period in the house was over in five minutes.

Being completely declawed meant that she was quite ungainly when she walked.  Her feet were very little, and she seemed to be pained making any sort of extended movement.  Her added weight probably didn’t help matters, but she was caught in a Catch-22: weight making it hard to walk, and walking making it hard to lose weight.  So she walked as gently as possible, and treated all creatures when the same amount of gentility. Mollie got along with everyone.  She had no enemies.

Mollie was happy and kind.

With no claws, one would think Mollie would be quiet and stealth.  No such thing.  She would make a small grunting sound when she walked, a cute feature to us – but possibly an indicator of what it felt like for her to walk at all.

Around 2005 Mollie became weak.  She wasn’t moving much, and spent a lot of her time in one spot – purring and sleeping.  She became dehydrated, and the vet injected saline under her skin.  The saline never absorbed, and the injection spot wouldn’t heal.  When we took her back to the vet, we discovered that she was a lot older than we thought and that she probably had cancer.  There would have been no quality of life for her going forward, according to the doctor. Part of that message was comforting, knowing that Mollie would no longer be suffering.  Still, nothing prepares you for saying goodbye to a big-hearted friend like we had to that day.

I’m sure she’s watching out for us from where she is.

 

 

Honor In A Cone

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The man was finishing his ice cream cone as we walked in.

Dressed for Sunday, he was clearly enjoying it while sitting by the window in the sun. The store was busy, and the server scurried around behind the ice cream counter scooping and mixing. As she began cashing out a customer, she stopped suddenly and headed to the door – where the old man was about to leave. Thanks for coming, she said to him – touching his arm slightly as only as friend would do. After finishing the customer’s transaction, she started to cry before helping us.

“That man? His wife just passed away. He came and ordered a cone for each of them and ate both.”

She wiped her eyes. “Sorry,” she said smiling. “It’s totally fine,” I said back.

I was crying too.