Sometimes, You Have to Slow Down to See Yourself


MEP
MEP

Words. So many words. Too many words.

Ann at The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally blog wrote about brevity last week. It made me think of the monstrosity that was my Coffee-House Applause post a couple of weeks ago. When I hit save, it weighed in at more than 1,000 words.

That’s too much, y’all.

I pared it down to 800-plus and published. I should know better. My mentor, copy editor Harry Pickett, said to make every word fight to stay on the page. On my blog page, words did not fight. They made love and had babies. Dozens of them.

I’ll be brief today, if anything, to prove to myself I can.

MEP
MEP

Saturdays are made for dads. During the offseason, its the day we get up early. To make pancakes. To wear jeans and college sweatshirts and get up early to get eggs or antifreeze. To wash and wax our cars. Around the dents and paint chips.

Here’s what my dad’s Saturdays were made up of: Washed cars, oldies, and something grilled. 

Mine? Washed cars, hits from Flock of Seagulls to Kajagoogoo on Pandora, and something for dinner, straight out of Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2.

Some things are the same. MacGuire’s car wax. A little gray in the beard. Ill advised stanzas of singing along with the Foo Fighters and Blues Traveler. It would have been Everly Brothers or The Drifters for my dad. Maybe the Dell Vikings.

MEP
MEP

Nothing makes you feel more like a dad than doing the things dad did. To shave your beard. To hang a dart board and a poster of your hero in your garage. To choose an after shave and hope that when your daughter is away, at movie dates and sleepovers and birthday parties, she’ll smell it on her shirt and think of you.

We’re so busy now. Busy is a badge we wear with ill-conceived honor. We feel we’re not doing our best if we’re not insanely busy. But not too busy to update our status about it. So damn busy.

What would happen if we wrote just one thing down on the to-do list? What would happen if we didn’t care when it got done? What would happen if we didn’t care if it got done at all? Would that make us busy, too?

Soon enough, Saturday will mean no time for pancakes. Saturday will mean eat something fast. Get your shin guards. Find your jersey. Get that kit together. Your notebook for the lineup. Cones. A game ball. A water bottle. Hurry up.

It’s a post for another day. Soccer Saturday means the world to me. It’s ponytails and headbands. Laser focus. Steely reserve. If fear lives there, it stays hidden. I love those days. They lift you and drop you and stir your soul.

car me
MEP

For now, though, I’ll take this. Soon enough, my car will fill with soccer balls and notebooks. The floorboards will disappear under cookie wrappers and goalkeeper shirts. Bags from lunch on the run. Shin guards. The odor of shin guards.

Today? I won’t look at the clock. The setting sun and my hungry belly will tell me when it’s time to cook. With Armor All, Windex and Meguiar’s, my 10-year-old Pontiac will become pretty. Like a girl stormtrooper. Like Eva, from Wall-E.

Her name is Gabi, by the way. Short for Gabriella. My car. During a rough week at the shop, when I willed her to get better, my friend Stacey suggested she might heal quickly if only she had a name. So she got one. Plus the nickname.

I think it worked.

MEP
MEP

The miles pile up. Dad showed me how to drive a car with caress. Don’t stomp the brakes. Easy on the gas. Take the corners like you have a mug of root beer on top of the hood. Easy does it.

I think that worked, too.

Dad sometimes took my car for a week if it ran rough. We’d switch. Every time I got it back … it felt smooth again. Although dad’s cars were so well-waxed, that mug of root beer wouldn’t stand a chance. I think of him when I take a corner.

Gabi still struggles. She hates cold mornings. She hates even more turning on cold morning. I told the girls she’s like a pretty woman who has a bad cough because she smokes. But that’s not it. She’s like a beautiful woman whose joints aren’t what they used to be.

But she can still shine.

And there’s beauty in comfort. And comfort in beauty.

Gabi isn’t the only one with a little mileage. My Rockies cap has been through it all. She wears a little car wax. Pink paint from an old lady’s bathroom. And green paint from a young girl’s dresser drawers. They loved them, by the way. The bathroom.

And the dresser drawers.

So the Rockies cap has miles too. So does the dude who wears it.

MEP
MEP

I don’t think Saturdays are only for dads. Moms get after it too. Our girls are lucky. They see it both ways. If they find either parent laying on the couch on a Saturday, there’s something wrong. There must be a virus. Who wants to waste a Saturday?

MEP
MEP

And my girls will have Saturdays, too. How will they remember them with me? So much of mine comes from my dad. But it looks different. It feels different. But still the same. There’ll be music. A shiny car. Something delicious for dinner.

And lots of love. If that means a ride to a friend’s or a job at my side. Maybe both. Maybe it’ll be a request to take some photos with your beat-up HTC Incredible before the sun goes down. Thanks, Elise. Why is everything we own so beat up? Maybe that’s out of love, too.

And I wonder what music they’ll play when they’re grown or what they’ll do on a Saturday, but I hope it doesn’t feel too busy. That’s the thing. One thing on the to-do list. All day to do it. We don’t often get days like this.

Why not?

My word count has passed 1,000. So much for brevity. But maybe the one thing on my to-do list had nothing to do with brevity. Maybe it’s about a step back from that one thing on the to-do list to talk with a friend.

That means you. So if you don’t mind the mess, or snarled up Rockies cap, there’s probably something good for dinner. Good timing. Let’s go in.

But before we do, look at that shine, that reflection. You can see yourself.

Pretty, isn’t it?

done

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48 Replies to “Sometimes, You Have to Slow Down to See Yourself”

  1. Like the crisp new style of the blog Eli. I always try to keep it at about 2,000 captivating words. Ahem. Your girls are lucky to have a Dad who does something with them. The hat has seen better days by the look of it.
    Cheers
    Laurie.

    1. It could get crisper, mate. Your 2,000 read like 500, friend, no joke. Captivating has no word limit. I’ll drop it all to do something with one of these kids.

      That hat feels like an extension of me by now. I’ve bought newer Rockies cap, tried them for a while, but always seem to reach for old reliable.

      1. Thanks Mate, I appreciate it and I see you have your priorities right, the kids come first. As to hats, I have a bush hat that looks like it’s been in a buffalo stampede and it’s still so comfortable. I was going to get a ten gallon hat but realised I only had a 5 gallon head.
        Cheers
        Laurie.

    1. Absolutely, Ann. Really, your post helped me see that. And thanks for the kind words. I won’t feel bad about four-digit word counts. Someday, I might write one at 300 words.

      Ha! Probably not.

      I’m grateful for your words, too.

  2. Loved your Saturdays and will say it is Sundays (for soccer) during the on season that is more hectic, but we too are off for the next few weeks and tried to enjoy as much of it as I could yesterday, too. Now on to Monday, I suppose and enjoy your week!! 🙂

    1. Saturday is the grown-up version of recess. Glad you liked it, Carrie, and if I can remember that last quote every day, just once, I’ll be all right.

      Not every bit of our calendars need fillin’, right? We need a little time just to BE.

  3. Sometimes it is Saturday and sometimes Sunday, but I truly believe that every weekend has to have a day like this – otherwise I get to about Wednesday and have a melt down!!!
    I love that you emulate so much of your DAD. I remember that Saturdays when I was little meant brunch and something from the grill with my dad.

    1. Yes, we need at least one calendar-less day, or at least half day. I feel a real connection with dad on days like that. I hope that my girls will remember Saturdays with me the way you do with your dad.

  4. My post today is well over 1,000 words. I really did try to cut it! I’m not very good at that.
    On Saturdays, Cassidy wakes up with the kids and makes waffles from scratch with our farm animal waffler. I sleep on. Or I pretend to sleep on. Des screams for waffles and no one could sleep through that.
    Then Cassidy sets to work with or without the kids and just..gets s*** done.
    I’d be happy to lay around, to be honest, with a book and an iced coffee. And warm sun. I waste too many Saturdays.

    1. I didn’t even run my post through the Hemingway app. It felt like a time I should just write and not worry about word count, despite what I said.

      Your post didn’t feel like 1,000 words today. That’s a good sign.

      You have a farm animal waffler? I’m really jealous. We had a Bugs Bunny one but it burned up. We dads can sometimes get s*** done, can’t we? (High five to Cass).

      If you read a book and drank tee – in the warm sun – that’s not a wasted Saturday.

  5. I love lazy weekends with no plans. Then again, I like having something to do. It’s the mix that keeps life interesting. We’re getting ready to start up soccer again. Maybe after a game, I should wash and wax my car, too!

  6. Make love, not war, that’s the spirit! Once that 6 word maximum is exceeded, who really cares..?
    And word babies are so cute!

    Saturday used to be busy Dad Day for me, too. I was his involuntary, grumbling, lawn mowing and driveway sweeping little helper. Then he shared his snack. I didn’t like the beer nor the bacon, but the real reward was the 7pm cartoon on the Italian channel. It was called Scacciapensieri and consisted of Woody Woodpecker, Pink Panther and La Linea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0s_T_Vwl2k

    Thank you for sharing your Saturday and the pics, especially of the Rockies hat! Speaking of sports teams – you have a Red Wings friend, I like that 🙂

    Flock of Seagulls… what if… I ran?

    1. Sometimes, a blog is just a love fest. But most times, it needs a one-child policy to keep things in check.

      Wow – that’s an all-star lineup of cartoon characters. Even if it is Italian!

      I have a couple of red wings fans. I am showing my incredible tolerance here. they’re good people who root for the wrong team.

      you mean, so far away?

  7. So many stories…so little time. Let go of the concern about the word limit. Your stories are worth every word. There may be beauty in brevity for some. Not of all of us, however. A well told story like yours provides us with so much to enjoy and imagine for ourselves. Write on. 😉

    1. It’s true – I probably have six beating around in my head right now. I won’t worry about word counts. Thank you for the encouragement! If every word fights to stay on the page, word count won’t matter.

  8. I love Saturdays! We are already packed in the car with all the sports stuff, it smells of sweat and dirt and sunscreen and I love it. Eli, I have a feeling your girls are going to remember plenty and it will all be good. Love this..thanks!

    1. Saturdays rock. The lived-in look works for me in the car, too, and I know it’s just a matter of time until they wipe away all this silly cleanliness and make it their own.

      I hope you’re right Sandy – I’m having a blast.

  9. Very nice and interesting post. Loved every word. You write very well. Key word is being comfortable whether in a cap, in relationship or whatever you do or simply rest.

  10. So true what you say about how we all think we have to be busy, over busy, or we don’t feel like we’re doing enough. That neverending to do list just needs to go but it’s hard to let go of. My childhood memories of Saturdays are of my dad sounding reveille to get us up for a day at the ball fields. They are great father/daughter memories, and I’m sure your girls will treasure them too.
    Angela @ Time with A & N

    1. It’s like hectic is a badge of honor. I think the list will never go away, but it doesn’t all have to get done today.

      I hope the girls will remember the pancakes on Saturday morning and the grilling on Saturday night and a few soccer adventures in between.

      Thanks Angela!

  11. Flock of Seagulls? Dude….. LOL
    Beautiful – and so important. I used to worry about my word count too, but you know what? I hung on every word here. If people are feeling ya, they stick to the end.
    And I prefer the Philosophy of the Ents: ” we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.”

    1. Yes! You’re with me on the 80s tunage, right?

      Glad you liked this. I liked your contribution today on Work in Sweats Mama’s post, by the way. And it means a ton to me that you stick with me through all the inefficiency of words. Seriously, things like this keep me going.

      Need to make my way back over to your page. Life’s too short.

  12. Oh Eli!! I love this hard huge big. Today wasn’t Saturday, but a snow day here, and yeah, I get the word count and the fleeting Saturdays with young kids (and the smell of shin pads). This was beyond awesome. Also? The CR? I’m from (born and raised) Denver. Met Dante B in a sporting goods shop before he was a jerk and just part of the whole Blake Street Bombers (he was in that right?).
    And I have NOT forgotten about your guest post. I promise.

    1. Thanks Kristi! It was one that I wrote and it felt like it was about everything and about nothing at all, all at once. A lot of stuff is like that, isn’t it?

      People still ask me what team my cap is. If it’s possible to be an obscure major-league baseball team, that’s the Rox. My last contact with Dante Bichette was near the end of his career.

      Writers went to the clubhouse during a spring training game to talk to Pedro Martinez, who’d just finished a three-inning stint. We walked in on Dante stuffing pizza in his face.

      I don’t think he made the 40-man roster! He was stellar as a Blake Street Bomber, though.

      Looking forward to that guest post, too. Thanks Kristi!

  13. Ah yes, Saturdays. I used to insist on keeping the weekends free, but as the kids have grown, it’s become obvious this was never going to happen. Now it’s gym, golf, football and whatever else is going on. My husband and I wave to each other in passing and catch up on the evening for a glass of wine, as we flop in front of the sofa, lucky if we get to the end of the film and almost always in bed by 10. Rock on.

    1. Aren’t Saturdays great, Nikki? We get the odd free Saturday now and then, and treat them like Christmas – or at least Arbor Day.

      I do love the busy Saturdays, too. Sometimes, it’s a feat of great proportions to get everyone everywhere.

      Rock on with your bad-ass life, Nikki!

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