15 July 2011

"My mama told me never trust a space engineer"

Good writing, like second grade homework, requires complete concentration. Do you remember parking yourself on the family room carpet, fat pencil clutched in your little fist, a marbled Mead composition book on your lap (because you were flexible in second grade, unlike now when sitting crossed-leg and leaning down is a position that, if attempted, your body might never escape), copying "bats", "man", "spot", and the bonus word "grandma", letter for letter, four times each? You gave it complete concentration.

...Until, unexpectedly, your scrawls stopped. Your seven-year-old attention span had been lured away by the entrancing, adorable voices of Baby Rowlf and Baby Kermit (or one of those indescribable Fraggle Rock creatures, if your home had cable instead of a giant, outdoor pole which you rotated by hand-- by double-hand-- whenever someone changed the channel, so that the antennae could point toward the broadcasting station on the other side of the county). Under the influence of audiovisual distraction, pressures of scholastic performance ceased to matter, and all that existed was the homey cartoon nursery on the old CRT television in front of you, along with the simple, pint-sized desire to see a little something more of the Muppets' nanny than those silly green and white stripped socks she wore-- everyday.

"Did you finish your homework?" That was your dad, calling from behind a newspaper. (When you were a kid, teenagers on bicycles threw plastic-wrapped paper news onto everyone's driveway, and someone would pick it up and physically carry it into the house. Yeah, I know, strange.)

With wisdom beyond your years-- the kind of sagacity that even full-grown people struggle to employ when questioned about a date's buttocks size or the boss's competency-- you kept the answer to yourself. Had you finished your homework? Nope. But no point speaking up; better to let disappointing responses fade away into the unspoken void.

Unfortunately, the void can retain and cloak provable information for only a short time, and soon enough you received the dreary, uninspired request: "Turn off the TV." The explanation for such lamery? "You can't do two things at once."

Your dad was, of course, wrong. You were more than capable of watching the "Muppet Babies" while simultaneously shirking schoolwork-- two enjoyable tasks at one time. But back then, a second grader didn't point out these kinds of things to her father, and she certainly didn't tweet it behind the old man's back, under the account called Dumb Stuff the Old Fuddy-duddy Says. Instead, the television would be turned off (or tuned to "T.J Hooker", which you were never really into), and you would get back to copying letters in your composition book.

What's all this got to do with my assertion that writing, like second grade homework, requires complete concentration? Well... According to Chrome Nanny (an Internet lollygagging watchdog that, because of the incessant manner in which I check its statistics, actually eats up as much of my time as the social media websites its meant to protect me from), I've been repeatedly listening to a mesmeric song on YouTube since around one o'clock this morning. Very few of the two thousand words I set to have churned out by now have shown up in my Word document; about 70% of them never arrived. It's going on 2:30 AM, and though my appreciation for the song has not waned, both the prime overnight creative hours and my sitzfleisch have. I'm chalking up this discarded writing session to the ever-looming dangers of instant-access multimedia entertainment. To ensure that the night is total bust, I'll spend the final bit of it blogging about none other than the distraction itself (in my next post, Song Review: "Space Girl" by The Imagined Village), preceded by a nomadic introduction (vide supra).

Good ole Officer Romano

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