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Correct Me If I’m Wrong

I could feel my face turning red.  Maybe even an unsightly blotchy red. Not a flush of beauty, but of embarrassment. After I heard my name called, time slowed down.  I looked up at Lucy at the front of the class and saw that she was looking right at me.  She really must have called my name.  She was holding aloft my homework assignment, presumably because she thought the class should hear the boring details of an average day of a housewife.  I tried to shrink but realized that was not my super power.  I slid out of the student desk and walked to the front of the classroom as the others who names were called before mine had done.  I smiled weakly and took the paper to turn to speak to the class.

While I took a couple of deep breaths, I glanced over the paper to see the notes written in red.  Would I be able to correct those as I read?  I knew that there would be corrections but I wasn’t sure my mind could work that quickly.  Some of the marks made on the paper were in some kind of code with circles and lines off to the side.  I had no idea what those meant.  I knew that my work would be critiqued and I did want to learn how to write better but I wasn’t sure how reading my poorly written thoughts could encourage others to do their best.

I mentally thought back to the few students who had read before me.  They most likely had the same thoughts as they heard their names.  One young man had read his work in a voice barely above a whisper.  I actually thought his paper was interesting because I would never have looked at him and had thought of him as a train conductor.  Another tall female student read hers and I was surprised by her average day also.  She was a pie baker and she wrote about the endless number and kinds of crusts she had to make all day, every day, in a bakery whose work tables were too short for her height.  She called her constant back pain, “pie pain.”  I know when they were reading I was thinking good thoughts and not noticing anything wrong with their papers.  But mine was about me and my boring housewife chores.  I was sure that the other students would fall asleep or think that I was out of my mind to consider myself a real student.

As I started reading, my voice cracked a little and I cleared my throat.  I figured that if I sounded as if I was describing just one of my most boring days in a cavalier manner, the students would realize that I intentionally tried to squeeze all the life out of my real world.  I read a little too quickly at first about the way I scheduled my chores based on the day and what I had completed before lunch.  The description of my afternoon was a little more varied because that is when I have more options and was able to describe a few of the choices I had in using my time before returning to my humdrum world of what to make for dinner.  I described it as “the eternal question” and heard a murmur of agreement from the women in the class.  Wait, were they really listening to me?  Were they actually agreeing with the stupidity of having to answer that same question every damn day?  This was epic.  I felt a little more secure in making it sound like I steered my children to brilliance as they completed their homework at the kitchenette.

For those who understand food preparation, describing the complexity of making a multi-course dinner every night might be of some interest.  For those who never have to perform those duties, they might just learn something new.  I tried my best to make it all sound more important than I really felt about it.  It was suddenly my purpose.  There were many nods of appreciation as I finished with the description of the dessert course and I was glad I had not made pie that night.  I looked up at the ending and saw many smiles from my fellow classmates.  I thought that they were going to think I was an imposter and ended up understanding that one of the keys to writing is finding a similar thread that weaves its way through our lives.  We all want to be understood; maybe that is what good writers do the best – show us ourselves.

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