Over the weekend, I was poking around a bookshop in Chagrin Falls and I came across a volume called “642 Things to Write About.” And, of course, I had to buy it. You’d think that as someone who writes quite frequently I would be able to come up with creative things to write about at the drop of a hat, but it’s not that easy. Sometimes you need a little prompting. And a little prompting can go a long way. At random, I’ve picked several prompts and for this week’s column I will answer them, as simple as that. Some of the answers may be long, some may be short. To be honest, I don’t really know where this will go, but I’m willing to take the plunge if you are.
“Something you had that was stolen.” This one is easy because the wound is still a little sore. While I was in Ireland, I had my favorite blue double-breasted peacoat raincoat stolen off of the back of my chair whilst I was sitting in a pub. I wasn’t drunk. I wasn’t even drinking. But someone came along and swiped it and kept it for their own. There was nothing of much value in the pockets, thankfully, with the exception of my Maynooth student ID, which cost me 20 euro to replace. I got a new raincoat for my birthday, and so that was fine, too. The worst thing was the feeling of powerlessness. I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to find the person who took the coat, and therefore knew that I would never get it back, but I felt like there was something I should have been doing to be trying to find it even though I knew that all attempts would be in vain.
“Name the trees that stood in the neighborhood where you grew up.” I grew up in a house surrounded by trees. There was a White Birch (Betula papyrifera) in the front yard that always had tent caterpillars in it, which were the worst. Its bark was always peeling off and once I made a mini wigwam out of it for a school project when I was in 5th grade. It’s name is Bertram. The side-yard was lined with Norwegian Red Pines (Pinus resinosa), but there were three in the front side-yard that were always more distinct than the rest. They were like three old stately sisters who were daily mourning the loss of their fourth sibling who had blown over in a storm. It’s only fitting that they be given “old lady” names: Ethel, Penelope and Rosemary. There is a maple (Acer) down the street that always turns a brilliant shade of red in the fall, so obviously its name is Ruby. The two dogwoods (Cornus) are Cornelius and Florence. And no, Florence is not the pink dogwood. Take that, gender stereotypes.
“Write a recipe for disaster.” Two cups failed planning. Three quarters of a cup of misread clocks. One teaspoon insanity. A pinch of misplaced keys. A dash of unexpected meteorological phenomenon. A quarter of a tablespoon of emotional instability. Two teaspoons misread directions. Two thirds of a cup of unwarranted physical retaliation. Combine ingredients. Beat well. Bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes. Enjoy (or barely survive)!
“Thoughts on your favorite pet’s personality.” Zoe was my favorite pet. She was a black lab-Sheltie mix and she was perfect. She was just over 60 pounds and probably 25 of that was fur. She had the fun-loving adorableness of a lab, but she was smart like a Sheltie. We always said that she was dumb, but she really just had dopey moments. And that was when she was the most adorable. She wasn’t aggressive. People who didn’t like dogs liked her because she wasn’t all up in your business. She didn’t lick, but when she wanted to be pet she would put her paw on your knee or nudge your hand with her nose. She was the perfect animal.
“The last time you changed your mind about something important.” I guess I would have to say it was when I decided to come to John Carroll. I was all set to go to DePaul when at the last minute I followed my gut and decided to come to JCU. I don’t know why I did it, but something about the vibe made me more comfortable. Needless to say, it was a great last minute flip-flop.
“Your most memorable experience in the back of a car.” I threw up on the way to Nebraska when I was a child. Those things stick with you forever. It’s not a good memory, but it’s the one that sticks out the most.
“The car your father drove.” My dad has always been associated with a pickup truck, because that’s what he drove for work. One of his first cars, however, was a (now) vintage Volkswagon beetle. I like to think about him driving that one past my mom as she walked to school (she didn’t have a car and he never offered a ride).
“A letter to the editor.” Not even gonna go there.