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    Wednesday, December 09, 2009

    The Toilet Roll Talk

    We had a family meeting, inspired by a really bad beginning line for an imaginary book. *chuckle*

    In 2002, I heard of an exceedingly bizarre writing contest, and was enamoured, quite disturbingly, by the winner's prose, if you could call it that... The only thing that stuck in my mind, from all that tie ago, was how it described a woman't love life like a flattened roll of toilet paper, and how it went ka-thunk, ka-thunk, ka-thunk, as it floundered on the dispenser, releasing only 3 sheets at a time, and being really, really annoying...

    So with all that my family has been through in the past year, and how the kids were reluctant to change their ways or views about what living in our family meant, I grabbed hold of that comparison, and used it to describe what our family was going through in our effort to become more, and better than we once were.

    Indeed, our family life was like a flattened toilet roll. We'd get going, moving towards our goals, and ka-thunk, a glitch, a roadblock, a tantrum, a... something, would get in our way. And we'd have to take the roll off of the dispenser, try to straighten it out, and deal with the slightly improved, but still not perfect, wobbly roll, until it was time to replace the entire thing, whence we could begin again.

    So I talked to the girls about our flattened roll of toilet paper. Called them into the bathroom and flattened one of our rolls to show them what I meant, and explained. I talked about how we are trying for a nice, round roll, a life that moves smoothly, and transitions from one experience to the next, positively, and gently. I said that for the last little while, our roll has been squashed so flat by our experiences and thought patterns, that it has been hard to get any toilet paper (happiness) off of our roll because of how negative we chose to be about what had happened in the past, and our options for the future.

    Then, I bent it back a bit, and replaced it on it's holder. Talking about how just a little bit of consistent effort, like trying to think positively about everything as much as possible, and working together towards our common goals could make things better... But pointed out how the roll was still a little weird, still wasn't quite right, and that that was alright. That it would take time, and patience too, to get our family, and our lives, where we wanted it, but if we just kept on with the positive effort, and didn't purposely squash the next toilet roll, we could have a nice one. One without glitches, bumps, or awkward pauses.

    A lovely, pristine toilet roll, that moved gracefully, dispensing just the right amount of paper each time.

    I also talked about how our attitude effects the outcome of our lives, taking a new toilet roll out of the drawer, and showing how, if we maintained a positive attitude, that even if something seemingly bad happened, we could bounce back, like the paper on a full roll, and not let it squish us, not let it have a lasting, permanent effect on our lives.

    Things have been a bit better, a bit smoother, since the toilet roll talk, and I think it is in part because of the ability to use visual references to describe things that we can only feel, and usually have trouble effectively putting into words.

    In closing, yes, we've had some setbacks, yes life is... life. But all in all, when all of the past few months are weighed and measured, life... Life is good. *smile*

    * The winning entry that inspired my little family discussion was as follows; "On reflection, Angela perceived that her relationship with Tom had always been rocky, not quite a roller-coaster ride but more like when the toilet-paper roll gets a little squashed so it hangs crooked and every time you pull some off you can hear the rest going bumpity-bumpity in its holder until you go nuts and push it back into shape, a degree of annoyance that Angela had now almost attained."--Rephah Berg, Oakland CA (2002 Winner)

    * The contest I referred to is the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest; a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. The contest was the brainchild of Professor Scott Rice, whose graduate school excavations unearthed the source of the line "It was a dark and stormy night." The contest was named after Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who was best known for perpetrating many, really bad novels, not the least of which, being "Paul Clifford", whose famous opener has been plagiarized repeatedly by the cartoon beagle Snoopy.

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