Telling: Altars & Artifacts


taking a bath

All week I've been doing scripting work. Programming of sorts. Making things happen with language. The next best thing to writing stories. Requires a sense of the rhythm of a process, a niggling attention to detail, the willingness to work it over again and again till it comes out clean. Till it feels right. Produces the desired effect. What it's like for me anyway. Doesn't feel like working. Guilty pleasure. Hard to break away at the end of the day. Especially on Friday because I know I won't get any time to really apply myself again till Monday.

That's why, when Gus sat down to watch the Bull's game and Tucker and Jake were playing happily in the tub, I slipped upstairs to fix one more detail. Fixed it. Came down to check the boys. All hunky dory. Back upstairs to fix one more thing. And down again. Kept it up for I don't know, half an hour, forty five minutes, never gone for longer than five, ten minutes. And my desk's not far from the tub, can get there in a flash if they needed me. And they were playing so peacefully, quietly, happily.

And then they decided to make art. Tucker opened a package of four rolls of toilet paper and introduced them into the bath. Jake unfurled the sodden cardboard rolls and stuck them, criss-crossed on the white wall tiles to make stars decorated with blobs of toilet paper. When I stepped into the room, the water was murky with the stuff. Tucker and Jake were singing the refrain from a story we'd read two nights before, some silly hippos singing: "Mud, mud, glorious mud."

I screamed a little. Which didn't seem to faze them a bit. They were having too much fun. And I did feel like I'd gotten what I deserved. Wasn't paying attention, trying to squeeze too much in. So instead of getting the kids to bed and getting back to my desk, I got to spend - oh how to measure time thus spent? - extracting toilet paper sludge from the bath water with a goldfish net.

A Mother's Journal

field notes from
1997 - 1999