Teach a Man to Sandwich

So I'm halfway through a first draft.

First draft of what, you say?

Shut up, I'm not telling.

Why not?

Well, just cause.

And the only reason I'm mentioning it now is because this is the third time I've reached this point on two previous ideas, and well, I sorta totally psyched myself into shelving them because I convinced my self that they were no good.

This one isn't any good either, but I'm quickly running out of time, and a finished terrible is exponentially better than an unfinished terrible.

Or something like that.

But enough about me and more about process.

See, there are two main parts to writing anything (Poems, songs, Facebook Posts, et cetera)

The first is problem solving; What do you want to say? How do you want to say it? Who is going to hear it? Is it funny without being insulting? Is it insulting without being too insulting? How angry will my wife be when she reads this? How embarrassed are my children going to be when they read it fifteen years from now?

You know: Problem solving.

Really the only difference between an artist and a scientist is table manners.

The second part is demon slaying. Or faith leaping. Or unblocking the muse, or healing the inner self, having courage, releasing the lower chakras.

Permission to fail? Captain?

Permission Granted.

Whatever basic or hoity toity metaphors you would like to use, rock on my friend.

It's really just a paradox of the soul. Deep, deep, deep down, you know you're gonna lose, BUT, you also know that the only way NOT to lose is to know deep, deep, deep, down, you're gonna win.

Or something like that.

Doing something for the first time is just plain scary. For EVERYONE.

And when you're creating, you're always doing something for the first time. A perpetual state of trepidation, like waking up every morning with a spider on your face.

The only way to approach both of these parts, the Problem Solving and the Spider Face, is to get in The Zone.

Or whatever you want to call it.

I'm just gonna call it The Zone to keep things simple.

The Zone is a particular place the mind goes where it can focus and un-focus at the same time. Like crossing your eyes to try and see the 3D whale at the poster shop in the mall.

Focus on the problem, ignore the spider.

The thing is, is that being in The Zone, looks an awful lot like being a lazy bum.

An awful lot.

Staring at the carpet for an hour isn't writing, it's at best daydreaming, and sleeping till 11:30 is just ridiculous.

Do you think Beyonce sleeps till noon?

Of course not.

But having listened to her last album, I'm thinking maybe she should start considering it.

Stephen Sondheim lays on his back and naps while he writes.

And he's been interviewed by Terry Gross, like, twice!

So there.

But the best part, is that I am supremely blessed, with a wife who gets it.

If ever there was a housemate with a more Zen-like mastery of living with a man in The Zone, such would be the stuff of legend.

She knows my stages like the back of her hand.

She knows how to engage me before I'm in The Zone, she knows when and how to tip toe around The Zone, she knows when I'm actually just being a lazy bum, and most importantly, she knows when I've been in The Zone a bit too long and how to convince me to do some manly chores until it's safe for me to return.

So I got that going for me, which is nice.

My son is not so lucky.

He doesn't pick up on certain cues like closed doors, clattering keys, or Mr. Monster Face.  He can't tell the difference in my voice between Ward Cleaver and John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

All he knows, is that he wants something, and Daddy's home.

So, while most men are concerned with teaching their young boys to throw a ball or mow the lawn or how to pick up cheap women, my moment of great happiness will come when I can finally teach my son how to make his own sandwich.

I'm pretty sure it was Jesus who said that if you make your son a sandwich you feed him for an hour and totally lose your place, but if you teach your son to sandwich you don't have to worry about a damn thing until dinner time.

Or something like that.

Fish may have been mentioned too.

The only reason I've waited this long is because he doesn't like peanut butter.

Had he been able to stomach peanut butter this problem would have been solved by the time he was three.

Bread, peanut butter, jelly and whatever knife is the closest.

But he's a child of more sophisticated taste.

Buttermilk bread and thinly sliced deli turkey with fresh cut provolone. Light mayo, yellow mustard.


And also, as I've mentioned before, he's got quite the problem with getting enough calories into his system, so no matter how deep into the zone I delve, when I hear the words "I'm hungry" I have to act with preternatural speed, otherwise I might lose the window of opportunity.


But one day, one day not too far in the future, when his little button nose is higher than the counter top, I will lead him to the hallowed refrigerator, show him how to remove all the items he's going to need, teach him how to slice tomatoes and rinse lettuce and evenly spread the dijon. He will take a course on the right level of meat based on how close it is to dinner time. How to make the sandwich both hearty but easily bitable. How to incorporate such leftovers as chicken cutlets and meatballs. Finally, he'll learned the toasted method and how much cheese is enough cheese and what butter can do to a slice of sourdough.

When to sprinkle salt.

When to sprinkle pepper.

How to add capers to tuna and how rye is a sin without sauerkraut.

These are the things that a writer's child must learn, or risk being killed to death with a nubbed out Ticonderoga.

Number 2.

"Teach a man to sandwich," Jesus said "and you can join me in heaven with your finished first draft."

Or something like that.

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