Sunday, February 24, 2013

Two Brains

Last summer, the Scientist’s daughter and granddaughter (Miss S., age 5) were visiting from California. I was in charge of entertaining Miss S. one afternoon at the house. We climbed backyard boulders, searched for “crystals” (flecks of decomposed granite), and collected acorns and other bits of “food” for her innumerable toy figures. I even found a small scrap of plywood that looked like a nice slice of layer-cake, quite suitable for a mountain lion tea party. At one point, we came inside the house where Miss S. discovered a 10" piece of driftwood with a hole in it, just the size for one of her little stuffed animal friends. “Can you make a car out of this, please?” came the request (and expectation).

The smooth ocean-worn souvenir did have certain automobile-like qualities—a long body, a place to sit, and attractive curves. It was my job to add the standard features. I began by locating round items for wheels, starting with lids from water bottles or gallon milk jugs. But I couldn’t figure out how to attach them, to each other or to the car. Then I found four cork bottle stoppers with black, hard plastic tops. I got out my sewing box and found two large needles, for axles. Inserting the end of each needle into a cork stopper, I created a set of front wheels, and a set of back wheels. The next challenge was how to connect the wheels with some sort of drive shaft and then secure the whole apparatus to the driftwood car body. Somehow I managed to contrive such a setup with a long pencil and several rubber bands (and possibly a good bit of tape). I was quite pleased with myself until Miss S. said, “but there’s no steering wheel.” She was right. I knew we didn't have any pipe cleaners (the fuzzy bendable wire-of-choice when I was a little girl), so I resorted to grocery-store twist-ties, bending them into a round wheel-shape with a connected shaft that I then jammed into a crack in the driftwood near the driver’s seat. “What about lights?” said Miss S. I rummaged through my sewing box and came up with some plastic beads, two red ones for the tail lights and two clear ones for the head lights (I didn’t bother with yellow parking lights, back-up lights, or high beams). We glued the beads to the top of the wood, front and back. After the glue had dried, Miss S. supplied plenty of engine and battery power, so off the car went with Mr. Mouse in the driver’s seat.

When her mother and grandfather returned from their outing, Miss S. ran to them to show them her new toy. “Look what Andi made,” she said excitedly. “She’s so smart, she must have two brains!”

Miss S.’s comment came to mind recently as I have felt the push and pull of those “two brains.” I have been simultaneously engaged in many activities associated with my poetry (writing new pieces, giving poetry readings, attending literary & art events) and employing my “other” brain in an intensive career building process: researching opportunities, networking, submitting applications, and interviewing for several positions. I’m looking forward to applying both brains to my next challenge.

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