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Taking the scenic route from Point A to Point B

May 11, 2008
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer
I’m beginning to think I can’t think unless I’m brushing my teeth.

Every time I lean over the sink, my mind must rearrange itself and I come up with these blistering epiphanies that grab on and won’t let go. It’s annoying, to say the least, but probably so because it’s always true.

In the recent past, my home computer choked and coughed and came up with odd configurations in a lot of places. It still worked, but nothing was the same. Being the computer genius I am, I played a game of solitaire. When it still didn’t work right, I played another game. That was safe. That didn’t change. I could do that without fighting the demons — those little guys with their thumbs in their ears and fingers waving in the air who mock me beyond mercy. “You can’t do it. Why try. Give up. Do something safe. Play solitaire.”

Those little beggars have plagued me all my life. When I was in high school, my sister Suzan and I took night classes at the high school. She took knitting; I took art. I was supposed to show her what I learned, and she would share her instructions with me so I could learn to knit.

What I learned instead haunts me yet today. I cannot learn from destructions. Stick tab A into slot B and you’ve got a tube — something I never got. In school work, it wasn’t quite so bad because I could read my books and understand, but when someone threw a word problem in math at me, they might as easily hit me with a rock. If train A moves toward train B, my reasoner might be broke.

But that’s not the worst of it. If something interests me, I like to do it and do it and do it. Forever. When we moved back to Dodge, my sister taught me how to quilt. In essence, she taught me how. I’ve got the tools, I’ve got the fabric, I’ve got the training. But, unless I actually see something being put together, I can’t look at a book and do it. Which is distressing.

Many years ago, the quilt club had a mystery quilt. I cut two different quilts while I was at it because we were supposed to sew a little bit every month. I figured the first one I did I’d give to Mom because she’d love it no matter what, and the second one would have all the kinks worked out and it would be better and I’d keep it and pat myself on the back for a job well done. I never finished either. And now it’s been so long I can’t figure out how to do them because all I have left are the destructions. I can’t read destructions and figure it out. Period. Mom’s dead now, so I don’t have to hurry with hers.

I’m in the middle of a novel, but I don’t continue writing because I can’t figure out the mystery of it. Outlines and notes and even partial chapters don’t help because I can’t look at all that and figure out where those crazy people are going. The main characters are based on characters in The Magnificent Seven played by James Coburn and Charles Bronson. When I started the novel, both of them were still alive, and I meant to send each a manuscript. They couldn’t help but see themselves in it. Now both of them are dead, too.

There are several things I need to know, and everybody says, “Just look it up online.” My stock answer is, “You can’t believe everything you read online,” but that’s not so much because I believe that myself as that’s a good way to keep from looking.

In it’s recent cough-and-choke, my computer ended up with an odd format when I go online. It doesn’t even give me a place to put in a Web address — just offers shortcut links to things it thinks I’d be interested in seeing. And believe me, none of them are places I’ve ever been or ever would go. But I don’t know how to change this screen back to what I want it to be, so I just don’t go online. And this is the second configuration change I’ve had since I changed providers for Internet service.

In my tooth-brushing epiphanies, it occurred to me those things might be related. I’m afraid to call and ask, though, because they might tell me how to fix it.

Just slip tab A into slot B and call it good.

I may have to buy a lot of pencils.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or


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