“Run for the rose, get caught on the briar
You’re warming to love, next thing, there’s a fire
You got the do re, I got the mi
And I got the notion, we’re all at sea
Yes, we’re all at sea
Run, run, run for the roses
Quicker it opens, the sooner it closes
Man, oh, man, oh, friend of mine
All good things in all good time” – Jerry Garcia, Run for the Roses
I attempted to look for a job over the summer, contemplated going back to bartending, and then decided that two months of work was less important than doing what I did, which was spending time with my son. We celebrated both of our birthdays (mine in June, his in July). We hung out in bed and watched “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” ate pancakes, went on mini adventures to waterparks and on little hikes, played video games, played with cars and Legos, watched movies and made dinner together (he likes to add the seasonings and mix things). We danced to music, went to the train museum and visited grandparents, did a sunflower maze (he was line leader and didn’t let me forget it), went down the shore and felt the waves, and ate lots of ice cream and peanut butter cups. He will only be four once, and I am happy to have spent my summer just the way I did. My son, and spending time being his mom, is more important to me than the few paychecks I would have earned or the objects they would have bought me.
I also caught up with grad school friends, more than just the angsty, exhausted conversations and texts we usually share. It was actual quality time, like human beings who are friends spend together. This time with them reinforced that a) I love them, and b) I have no idea how the hell I would get through any of this if not for their presence and friendship. They are a family that you have known for a year that, due to circumstance, you have really known for approximately ten years. You don’t have to ask, or even think, “Are we here yet? Can I go there?” because you are and you have.
And now I’m back to the first few weeks of school. Back to the existential questioning of who am I? What am I doing? What is this life? What level of Car Parc is my car on (it’s always wrong – go back to the stairs) or where in that vast wonderland that is lots 45 and 60 is my car? When will I eat an actual meal? The questions will pass and become the norm. Especially around the time of final papers, I will morph into animal zombie machine hybrid and most likely stay that way through the spring when writing my thesis. I just finished about 100 pages of reading (approximately 500 pages are due this week between my three classes) and I feel like [insert metaphor here I can’t even think of one]. I’m excited too, and I’m eager to be challenged or else why would I be here?
I’m also adjusting to the commute again. I live in the far far away, about 45 minutes to an hour from campus, depending on traffic, road closures or construction, weather etc. You never really adjust to a commute, though. You just bury the anger deep within your soul, or write a blog post about it.
Accordingly, I’ve created 13 basic rules of the road that also apply to writing. Feel free to add your own! I’m also guilty of using a lot of “bad” words during all of these 13 driving and writing occasions, but then as my man George Carlin (RIP) said, there are no bad words only bad thoughts and intentions. Writing rules are in italics.
1. You don’t own an 18 wheeler. Therefore, when you make a turn, there is absolutely zero reason for you to swing your vehicle out before you turn. This applies even if you have a ridiculously large SUV like a Tahoe or something for your one child and her toys. Don’t ruminate, run right at the thing.
2. When other vehicles are exiting a store or other establishment’s parking lot and attempting to get on the road, do not stop a long line of traffic to allow them to exit. Especially, do not do this suddenly, or when there is a red light that just turned green. This is a very good way to cause an accident. You think you’re being nice, everyone else thinks you’re an idiot. Including the person in the car that you just allowed to go. Don’t open Netflix, YouTube, or 10 other tabs while working on a writing assignment. You think it’s a few minutes but it’s not. Next thing you know you watched an entire season of something and it’s 2 a.m. and nothing has been written.
3. Similarly, stop hitting your brakes when someone is exiting a parking lot because you *think* they *might* pull out. Again, good way to cause an accident: your hesitation will make them think that you’re allowing them to go, which….see rule 2. Don’t hesitate to just WRITE. Stop hitting the brakes waiting for inspiration or the perfect word/sentence and just get it out.
4. Stop putting your makeup on in your car. Just stop. Unless your boyfriend/boss/coworkers/friends/whoever are going to teleport to hang out with you in your car, while you’re driving, right now, do it when you get to wherever you’re going. Or just like, don’t wear any and don’t sweat it that much, because you’re pretty, babe. Don’t cover up your voice because you think it should sound a certain way. Audience is important, of course, but it shouldn’t preoccupy your mind over all other concerns. Because I like your voice, babe.
5. The fast lane. It’s for people who are going fast. In New Jersey, that means pretty damn fast. If you look in your rearview mirror and you see that there are at least two cars behind you, following very closely, MOOOOVE OOOVVVVER. This applies even if you have a Lexus, or some sort of expensive red convertible because you’re having a midlife crisis. People will begin passing you on the right. This is not what the right lanes are for. More potential for accidents. If you’re having trouble, walk away for a while. Move your mind over. Switch gears. And come to the CWE!
6. Those who drive motorcycles: stop zigzagging between cars. I almost hit one of you two days ago because I changed lanes and you magically appeared behind me right as I did, and consequently you almost came through my rear windshield. If you had, I would have kicked you out of my backseat and berated you for being so stupid. Assuming you didn’t badly injure yourself. One thing at a time. If it works for you to be thinking about your conclusion before you write your introduction, then write your conclusion. If you want to get right to the meat of your paper, go for it. But once you commit, commit: don’t zigzag around your paper and make more work for yourself.
7. If your exhaust is louder than my music, which is usually pretty loud, your exhaust is too loud. Turn down the noise. Stop thinking about what your prof/sister/girlfriend/parents would say or think and think about what it is that you’d want to hear in your paper. Don’t allow judgment: turn those voices down.
8. Look for a parking spot AFTER you get off the road. Looking for a parking spot when your car isn’t totally off the road yet is just so amazingly self-absorbed that I can’t comprehend it. Stop looking at the page length, formatting, and other requirements and allowing it to dominate your mind. Go with the flow: you aren’t even writing yet. You’ll get there.
9. Signal before you turn. I have no idea why you’re slowing down and I’m seeing brake lights when the speed limit says 50. Which is awesome because a few miles ago, you had your turn signal on for like a solid three minutes of driving straight. If you’re having trouble, tell someone. Go to your professor. Come to the CWE. Don’t think you can figure it out on your own, (but also don’t rely on others to figure everything out for you). Blend confidence and humility.
10. When I’m getting on the highway, and you’re in the rightmost lane, and you see me getting on the highway with my turn signal on, and you see me increasing my speed, and the next lane over is totally free of cars, think you could maybe move over? That’d be cool. I’m just merging, no big deal. Give yourself space, mental and physical. Set aside time, expect that you will encounter things that won’t move over.
11. Speaking of merging, why is this concept sooooo difficult?! Just merge! You’re overthinking it, man! It doesn’t matter if you get one car length ahead! It doesn’t matter who goes first! This isn’t a car line that leads to free food or money! This is business, people. You’ll have friends that miraculously can write a page the night before and get an A. This won’t always be the case. Remember that writing, like a lot of things in life, isn’t a competition with others, it’s a competition with yourself.
12. If you walk in front of my car, as many a meme has demonstrated via Samuel L. Jackson, I want to see heel toe action, knees to chest. Move it. As much as it may be tempting to go to a party the night before a paper is due, or do a favor for a friend, or work an extra shift when your paper is not written yet, you’ve gotta resist. Learn to say no sometimes and be comfortable with that.
13. Drive past accidents. Just drive past them. “Oh but I just want to see” NOPE you don’t, you don’t need to, you can keep going and you will still be whole even though you didn’t see what was happening. If you hit some writing congestion, move past it. Have a short memory when it comes to supposed “mistakes” – you’ll see it was all part of getting to your destination.
Thanks for reading. I’m gonna go back to page 156 of Great Expectations now.
Just kidding, I’m gonna go watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and not drive my car (or write) for the rest of the day.
Baby you can drive my car, and baby I love you. Beep beep, beep beep yeah.