Working among hormonal teenagers and equally hormonal parents all day, I arrive home every afternoon with only enough energy to shed shirt, tie and one shoe before collapsing on a recliner to Netflix and ponder my lot in life — Hey, it’s not a lot but it’s a life! *rimshot* Some evenings the very act of closing my eyes feels like a Herculean trial. Finding time to write is one issue, but finding topics upon which to cleverly spin epics and brushes with death appear limited while teaching at a Catholic high school — which for the sake of my life and sanity is a good thing. Posting details about my class and chemistry lessons edges on the unethical; besides most days prove all too repetitive and boring unless you happen to relish tales of paperwork and two-hour meetings on teaching paradigms and the philosophy of grading matrixes (neither terms of which I can adequately express my loathing). Moreover, with a new principal and administration — we receive more status updates than a thirteen-year-old’s Facebook page — I am yet uncertain which emails should be carefully scrutinized or tossed like so much spam from the latest male enhancement drug or Egyptian princesses seeking potential investors for mysterious oil reservoirs.
In short, I find myself morbidly bored and too busy to do anything about it. My mind craves a topic upon which to write, and life — like the stubborn mule in Donald Duck cartoons — refuses to come to my aid. When facing a difficult problem or quandary, I rely upon my one true confidant and friend: the local bookstore, the Goofy to my irate duck. There amid the journals and recycled birthday cards — the No Man’s Land of retail; the one place in the store or whole country where an extreme introvert may seek out solitude — I discovered the following tome:
642 Things to Write About . . . Be careful what you wish for is the lesson for the day, kids. The gods of literature was clearly suggesting that I quit my whining and start putting pen to paper. Some of the suggestions asked you to recall an embarrassing moment or favorite photograph. Others pulled at the heartstrings: “Pick a country and imagine we’ve been at war with it for fourteen years. Write a love story se in that world.” Others suggested the hint of tragedy: “Study a stranger. Go home and write a tragedy about his or her mother.” That’s rather depressing. One even sounded like a dream I once had: “You have been evicted from your home, but rather than live on the street you go to Ikea. At night you hide in the bathroom until the janitor leaves. Write about your life.” Weird, so you become like the Phantom of Furniture, a paper-mache mask of poorly illustrated assembly manuals? I picture Joe Pesci in Home Alone 2, sneaking out in the middle of the night to assemble cheap furniture. The police would find me years later beside an unassembled bookcase; my last moments attempting to insert Peg A into Slot J . . .
Wow, I guess these suggestions really do work!
Then I considered that the book might offer a unique opportunity. What if I worked through the book from page 1 to page 303, Suggestion #1 to #642? That might prove an interesting challenge. Do I have the writing chops to pen 642 individual posts? Essays and stories of which I can be proud? I suppose we’ll find out.