I write my shopping lists and phone messages and scribble verruh important notes to myself on corners of take-out menus, used junk mail envelopes, the back of my checkbook, or torn off scraps of paper bags, because real, proper paper, sticky notes, legal pads and the like? Those do not belong to me. They are commandeered immediately upon crossing the FriedOkra threshold by my elder child, who is learning to write (FUN ET ICK LEE), and also enjoys the drawing, and apparently enjoys, more than anything else, making me crazy.
I KNOW you know what I'm talking about.
A few weeks ago I went into Hobby Lobby (angel song) and in my Cloud 9 rambling, roving, sighing and cooing wander-about, I happened across a big, fat, fancy, phonebook-thick pad of beautiful, crisp, brown houndstooth note paper, tied with a big, fat, red grosgrain ribbon. It sang to me from its shelf in a chorus of angel-voices, narrated by a subtle undercurrent of sultry Hey baby, where have you been all my life and You feel it like I do, and you know it... We were made for one another. My fingers burned and ached to caress this paper, to boldly scratch my mind's contents onto it, to jot and doodle and scribe and ponder from edge to edge, corner to corner.
And it was on SALE.
So I took it home.
And as I pulled it out of the bag and placed it ever-so-lovingly on my desktop, I saw my daughter fall in love, and feel the same burn and ache in her fingertips that I'd felt a few hours before.
And I GLARED AT HER.
And I said:
THIS PAPERRRRRRRRRR IS MI-I-I-I-INE! DO NOT TOUCH IT. DO YOU HEAR ME, CARRIE ALEXIS FRIEDOKRA? YOU. DO. NOT. TOUCH. THIS. PAPER. IF YOU TOUCH THIS PAPER -- EVEN ONE PIECE OF IT -- THERE WILL BE EXCRUCIATINGLY BAD CONSEQUENCES FOR YOU.
And she looked at me like I'd lost my mind.
(I suppose it was warranted.)
BUT! Her silence indicated complicity. And I knew I'd made my point.
So I went about my business. And for WEEKS, I sat at my desk every day. Out of the corner of my eye, the paper beckoned and teased, but I was waiting for the right moment, the right thought, the perfect opportunity, to make my first mark on its pristine and perfect surface. It couldn't just be any old phone number or date and time. It had to be a major thing... a special thing... this was my special note pad!
Three days ago I had the amazingly rare opportunity to a) plan menus and b) grocery shop by myself. And I decided. NOW IS THE TIME! I'M GOING TO MAKE MY SHOPPING LIST FOR THIS SPECIAL TRIP ON MY SPECIAL PAPER.
And I did! And Bean watched me, carefully penning each item on the list in dark, rich, black ink which this just-rough-enough paper grabbed and held beautifully. My hand flicked i-dots and t-crosses and curled fancy y and g handles with confidence and artful grace. I am certain, people. SURE AS I WILL TAKE MY NEXT BREATH. That the child watched enraptured with the process and my absolute, sheer joy in the sensation of this pen and paper, and at that moment, took complete leave of her senses.
Again, totally warranted!
And I finished my list, tore it off the pad in one motion, across the perforation in a fast rip that sang out a short HURRAH! of efficiency and accomplishment. And I folded that list and tucked it into my purse, all the while with Bean's two eyes watching me, riveted.
I walked away briefly and returned.
ON A TORN OFF SHEET OF MY PAPER.
And my lips went white with rage.
Through gritted teeth I reminded her: WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT THIS PAPERRRRRRRRRRRR, CARRIE ALEXISSSSSSSSSSSS? ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO BE WRITING ON THIS PAPERRRRRRRRRRRRRR? ALL I WANT IS ONE THING!! ONE. LITTLE. THING! TO BE MINE. CAN I NOT HAVE ONE THING OF MY OWN? HUH? WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU WRITING ON MY PAPERRRRRRRRRR?
And she sobbed out, "I couldn't hellllllllllllp it, Mom! I had tooooooooo!"
And I continued to shout and snort and breathe fire at her as I stormed to her side and looked over her shoulder at MY PAPERRRRRRRRR!
And she had written:
To my famlee and frins:
I love Mom.
I love Dad.
I love Pebode.
I love Kathrin.
I love Kyle.
I love my famlee and my frins.
And my heart exploded. And she cried big old tears and ran up to her bedroom sobbing.
And I am a monster. An insensitive jerk. (I AM!)
And also possibly a complete wimp.
And now we're sharing MY PAPERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.