Stranger Dialogue

Have you ever watched people conversing but could not hear what they were saying?

I think it is so much fun to make up dialogue for strangers as if they were characters in one of my books. It is a great way to spend time you have to waiting.

The other day I saw three teenage boys walking on the sidewalk. It had snowed the night before and it was very chilly even though it was mid-afternoon.  One of them stopped and showed the others something. I dreamed up him saying, “Hey look, snow!” As if they had not noticed until that moment.

There are also two teenagers at my son’s junior high who like to show the world they are in love every day after school. They smooch and lay on the grass with each other. When I picked up the kids in our carpool for Christmas Break, we watched them saying good-bye to each other for the two weeks.The kids helped me with dialogue.

“It will be alright,” he said rubbing her back. “I will tell Santa you have been good and he will bring you some cookies.”

“Oh, thank you, but I don’t like cookies,”she said and sniffed.

It is a very fun activity to do when you know the strangers can’t hear you, but probably even more fun if you are daring enough to do it when they can.

I love this clip from Gilmore Girls.

Trapper Keepers and American Girl Dolls

Back in the early nineties, my family moved from our log home to run a bed and breakfast across town.  I am the youngest of six children. I have an older sister, then four brothers. We moved while my third brother was on a two-year proselytizing mission for our church in Bolivia. The only two children left at home were myself and my brother who was two years older.

When we unpacked our belongings into our new rooms, my brother found a Beauty and the Beast Trapper Keeper in a box of his. It was not his and so he put it on my bed thinking it was mine. I saw it and knew it was not mine so I put it on his bed. This went on for days until finally I got upset and said,”Quick putting this thing in my room. It isn’t mine.”

“Well, it certainly isn’t mine!” he said.

We figured out it must have belonged to our brother who was on a mission. My brother put in a box in his closet and I thought it was the end of it until the next day when I got home from high school. My brother sat in the living room, not watching television, reading, or doing anything. He never just sat. I knew he was up to something. He nodded at me when I came in. Then he smiled. It was an eerie, mischievous sort of smile. “Aren’t you going to take your stuff up to your room?” he asked.

“No!” I yelled and ran to my room. “Where is it?” I searched my room for the offending Trapper Keeper. I looked in my pillowcases, in my dresser drawers, in my closet. He followed me and casually leaned against my door watching my erratic behavior. He had an amused look on his face.

“Where did you put it?” I asked ready to tear my hair out.

He laughed and looked at the ceiling.I looked and he had taped the Trapper Keeper to the ceiling above my bed.

“I wanted you to have a good dreams,” he said.

I immediately stood on my bed and tore the offending item from my ceiling.

The next day, I put it in the cupboard under his television where he kept his video games so his friends would see it as they got the games out.

The next day, he taped it to my shower.

The Trapper Keeper would never disappear. The game went on for the rest of the year until my brother graduated and moved away. I put in my closet and laughed when I saw it.

It felt weird to be the only kid at home with my parents that fall. When the spring came around my brother decided to go out and serve a mission for our church as well and was sent to England. The following Christmas, I got the Trapper Keeper out, wrote him a bunch of letters, filled it with candy and mailed it to him. It was the best!

Our family talked to him on Christmas and he had not received my package yet. Then a few weeks later, I got a letter saying he had received my package, but he wasn’t very happy about it. I believe he threw it away in a bin in Manchester, England. trapper-keeper

It is a funny thing to remember. Then similarly, a few years after my husband and I had our first son, we were expecting another baby and we bought some curtains from Pottery Barn Kids.  My husband got on a mailing list somehow and they sent him an American Girl doll catalog. We laughed about it and I would call him at work to tell him it had come in the mail so it would have something to look forward to when he returned home.

As our boys have grown, we still get the American Girl Catalog. My husband started putting it in our oldest’s sons room and then I would help him come up with a place to hide it in my husband’s things. Then our two younger boys have got involved and they hide in each other’s bedrooms. We moved three years ago and made sure that we changed our address so they would continue to come, however, we put the catalog in our oldest’s sons’ name.  We wanted him to feel special. With so much technology these days, who doesn’t like getting special items in the mail?

We continue to get them to this day and find funny places to hide them.  The best hiding spot was when I put it in a part of my son’s backpack he doesn’t use very often and he carried it back and forth to junior high for a week. Good times! It is the little, silly things we do that our kids remember. Just as I always think of my brother whe I see Beauty and the Beast, I know in the future, I will never see an American Girl catalog without thinking of the funny times we had with our boys when they were young.

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Adventures with a Teenager

The other day, my thirteen year old son and I went around to a few local businesses. He is in a musical at his junior high in the spring and is required to help with fundraising. He had a letter from his teacher and had to talk to the managers of the businesses. He was nervous, but he did a good job. We went to a local grocery store and we asked to talk to the manager. While we were waiting for him, we entertained ourselves by looking in a bin of old DVDs.

We decided to play a game. We would pick up a DVD and then say a line from the movie. Well, the first one I picked up was called “Harry Brown” starring Michael Caine. It showed a photo of him on the front with a gun. I have never seen the movie and so I did my best Michael Caine accent (it more resembled Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins, but oh well) and made up a line. I said, “I will shoot you and you will die.”

harry

Our game didn’t last long as the manager approached and we talked to him for a minute. He wasn’t able to help us out with the fundraising because it was not specific enough and so we left. I was proud of my son for thriving in an awkward situation and we laughed about the stupid line I made up on the way. Sometimes it is the silly little things that make your day. I was glad to bond with my teenager if only for a moment. I’ve got five years, (five years!) and he will graduate. I am determined to enjoy my time with him, even if it is for a few minutes at a grocery store.

 

Carpooling

My boys go to two different charter schools in our valley. I carpool with two other families to the schools. The two other amazing moms take turns taking the kids to school and I rotate with one of them on picking up the kids. We take another teenage boy and two sisters, one is twelve and the other is ten. Throwing the girls in has been really fun this year.

We have had some fun and interesting conversations. It is funny that the kids can remember things from a year or so ago. One time we saw a black fluffy dog and a white fluffy dog running down the middle of the road.

I pretended I was the voices for the dogs. “Run, Kiki! We are finally free!” said the white one.

“Yes, Fifi, we are! Run! Run like the wind!”

Then I sang the words to “Born Free.”

Then their owner came chasing after them. It was pretty funny to see him try to catch up.

One the same street, someone posted a weird cardboard stand-up by the telephone pole with the words “Slow down” next to it. The cardboard stand up was of a cartoon woman wearing a white robe. My son named it Veronica and we called it his girlfriend.

I am sad to report she isn’t there anymore. The other teenagers started  a conspiracy saying my son might be responsible for her disappearance. No comment.

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Finally, the kids have come up with this game whenever we see a certain color of car, they do something different to each other. It can get violent. Luckily, they leave me as the drive alone!

  • Orange car-hit your neighbor
  • Green car-tickle your  neighbor
  • Purple car- hug neighbor (contributed by the ten year old girl of course)
  • Yellow bus- hit your neighbor
  • Hot pink car=death for everyone

I am glad we haven’t seen any hot pink cars!

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A Visit with My Twelve Year Old Self

I was twelve and helping my mother set tables for a fundraiser dinner. She was hoping to raise money to help my brother go and play basketball “down under.” Instead of helping, my two older brothers spent their time teasing me about the meticulous way I was placing silverware. I was used to this. However, somehow the subject of their teasing went from my fussy table setting skills to my weight. Within a few minutes, I had to run away to the bathroom so they wouldn’t see me cry.

While my brothers words were only meant to tease, I created a fallacy in my mind that day that I was not “worth” anything unless I was thin and as beautiful as a super model. Of course, I never lived up to those ridiculous ideals, but deep down I carried this idea that I was not “worth” anything.

In the last twenty-five years since, I have struggled with my weight and self-confidence. I think I still had those lies embedded deeply inside of me and they take priority without me realizing it.

However, I am happy to say that those ideas and fallacies die today! I am more than some number on the scale. I am my own kind of beautiful and it is great to be me. I have so may blessings in my life to be grateful for.

Today I am sitting in a nice, comfortable home when the weather is in the teens outside and the ground around my house is covered in two feet of snow.  I am warm and I have a roof over my head. I have so many things to be grateful for. I have an amazing husband and three great kids. I could feel blog posts with the number of blessings in my life that I am grateful for.

I imagine myself going back in time and finding myself in the bathroom with the tears flowing down my face. First, I would tell her that our brothers were only making fun of her because they didn’t want to help mom and she shouldn’t listen to what they were saying because it wasn’t true. They grow out of it and turn into great husbands and fathers. Second, I would tell her that weight doesn’t matter and it is who she was on the inside and how she treated other people that is important. She is always “worth” something to her parents and to the Heavenly Father who created her. I would give her a hug and dry her tears and tell her she was already beautiful.

Thirdly, I would point out the good things about her, how she should continue to sing, to write, and to be kind to others. I would encourage her to continue to be vivacious and not to worry what others said about her. (Finally, I would tell her that I could come back late in the night to our log house and cut off my sixteen year old brother’s mullet and he would have to go to Australia without ‘looking cool.’)

Now back to today, my brother recently took photos of our family and here is the one he took of me.

karen
copyright 2016, scottgutke.com

I have to say it is the first photo I have liked of myself in a long time–a really long time. I want to talk to myself now. First,  the idea that you are only “worth” something if you are thin and look like supermodel is a lie.  Who you are on the inside and how you treat others  is important. You do not have to be certain size to be “worth” something. You are always “worth” something to your husband, your kids,your extended family, and your Heavenly Father who created you.  You are beautiful.

Second, you should continue to sing, to write, and to be kind to others. Continue to be vivacious and not to worry what others say about you.

Finally, mullets weren’t a good idea in the eighties and they certainly aren’t now.