What Carrot does during the school day.

So once upon a time, I use to play with making mead. And when I say “play with” I really do mean it. I have this delightful inclination to go full on Lab Kid* when doing anything halfway arty. I can’t say halfway sciencey because we all know the difference between fvcking around and science is writing it down.

I was not writing it down in those days.

In that Fvck Around Phase I made some hella good mead. A few stands outs were a my plain sweet, a morat (mulberry mead), and a peach mead. My brewing process went as follow –

1.4 cup orange juice to start off a packet of Montrachet yeast

2.5 gallons of tap water (Lake Michigan for you aqua connoisseurs)

2.5 gallons of blackberry honey from the Great North Wests somewhere. I think from Glory Bee.

I’ll give a few of you a moment to wipe the coffee you just spit all over your screen. Yes. 2.5 gallons. We good? Okay – so I like mead sweet. Those of you with even the smallest bit of fermenting knowledge will not be surprised to hear it took me nearly two years for it to be drinkable. And I bet it could have gone longer, but as soon as I brought some bottles out to test drink, it went fast. Any notes I took – if I was even halfway that organized – had me do some math. I only remember this math on the alcohol content because I did it several times over, 100% certain I had totally fubar’ed my math and it just wasn’t humanly possible.

It was clocking in at 20%.

Okay, you really need to stop drinking when you’re reading my hilarious interludes. Get a fresh cup and come back.

This ridiculously high alcohol content is hilarious because I am a lightweight beyond compare. I bring shame upon my known-for-heavy-drinking ancestors with my two drink drunk. Alas.

My morat ran as follows –

Same juice set up, 3 gallon bucket, who knows how much honey, topped off with water.

No notes. Because I was full on mad scientist, which wasn’t really all that sciencey because no documentation. Who knows what my alcohol content was. But that got drunk as fast as the blackberry sweet.

The peach?

Same juice set up

12 pounds of mashed peaches with skins ripped off (you can’t really peel peaches when they’re really ripe, just mutilate them)

Oh hey, look, I have some left over honey in this three gallon bucket. I have no idea how much honey is in there, lets just dump it all in and add some water and call it a day.

See? Very precise. Such Math. Much Science.

Even with my lightweightness, that had a kick. I had racked them into 16 oz Grolsch bottles I had saved for this project. Half way through one of them I had to lay on the floor and recover. Five years later it was still amazing. I only know this for it having shown up in a Mystery Brew Box (for having no label) where adventurous re-enactors would drink for a dollar donation. It was the hit of the evening.

And now we are here. I have a little black book now and am more sciencey than arty.

Raw honey and here we go! I know some of you are thinking – why is the water and honey separated? Are they supposed to be mixed?

Yeah. I guess so? I did this with my blackberry sweet. I’d have to roll the carboy every couple of weeks to agitate the top layer of honey as the yeast slowly ate its way down. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason the yeast was able to accomplish this task, it gave it time to build up tolerance. Also I’m sure there’s some sort of very niche-trick of slow fermentation that impacts the final product something something wine snob goes here.

Weirdly, the water/honey was more homogenous until I poured in the o.j. with the nicely foaming yeast. Cleared it like oil and water. Fascinating. So now my yeasties beasties are going to slowly nibble from the top down.

I guess we’ll see what we get? In two years? It’s only three gallons, so maybe we’ll see in one year.

Wish me luck.

All figured out.

(scene opens in a tossed dinning room)

Delta: (eating post school snack) Wouldn’t it be great if people figured out what the meaning of life is?

Me: (looks up from laptop, suspicious) ….yes. Yes it would.

Delta: What do you think the meaning of life is?

Me: (quiet for a moment) Creation. The whole reason we’re here is to make stuff.

Delta: Do you know what I think it is? Happiness.

Me: That seems like a good answer.

Delta: (sighs, satisfied) Now we just need to let everyone know what the meaning of life it!

Me: (stares)

Mother Tongue

(scene opens in bright cluttered kitchen, Carrot enters wearing rain dotted jacket)

Gamma: Cómo estás, mama!

Me: (thinks) Asi asi.

Gamma: No bueno?

Me: Just tired, baby. (hangs up jacket)

Gamma: I want to learn Japanese! Konnichiwa!

Me: Konnichiwa. You can learn Japanese if you want, although that might have to wait until college. I’m sure the local schools aren’t offering.

Gamma: You’ll have to learn it too so you can help me!

Me: (snort) I can’t keep up with the ones I was trying to learn before and now you want me to add Japanese to the mix? Japanese is very difficult.

Gamma: (brightly) Just like me!

Me: (pauses, processes, kisses Gammas forehead) Technically correct.

Gamma: The best kind of correct.

Anticipa…

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen, conversation in progress)

Me: I’m really sorry they’re moving. I wanted to hang out with him more and make fun of each other.

Beta: (attempting to be witty) You’re bald! (crickets) And I’m out! (turns to leave)

Husband: Beta, come here.

Beta: (nervously edges toward the door room) No!

Husband: I said come here. (crosses room)

Beta: (whimpers)

(Husband embraces Beta gently, pats him on the back)

Husband: Sorry I missed your concert tonight. I heard you did a great job.

Beta: (confused, whimpers again) What just happened?

Husband: (lets him go, picks up tea mug, smiles)

Me: Good night, Beta.

Beta: (edges out of the room, slightly panicky) I don’t know what’s going on.

Me: (sotto voce) There is nothing he can do to you that is worse than your own imagination.

Husband: (smug humming)

School Days, School Days

(scene opens in chilly mini-van)

Gamma: Mom, how come my school has numbers instead of grades?

Me: (weary sigh) Grade schools like to go with numbers, for some reason. By the time you get to high school, you’ll be back on that whole A, B, C grading system.

Gamma: What’s a GPA?

Me: (tries to remember the words) Grade Point Average. Every letter grade is worth a certain amount of points. As are like 4 and Fs are 0. You add all those points together and divide them by how many classes you took and that’s your average. If you get all As, you have an A average. If you get a mix, you might have only a C average. Its hard to get your grade point up after a certain point because of math.

Gamma: Why do we have GPA?

Me: Well….okay. The way it was taught to me was that you had to get good grades in grade school so you could get into honors classes in high school and get more points on top of your good grades so you had a wicked high GPA so you could apply to colleges and they’d go “Wow! Look at this GPA! I bet they’re really smart!” and they’d let you in so you could get more high grades and put that on your resume and companies would go “Wow! Look at that GPA! They’re really smart, we want them to come work for us!” and that would translate to more money.

(moment of silence)

Me: Which….if you think about it….is really kind of soulless. I want you to get good grades because it means you’re learning and understanding the material. Theoretically. Learn. Learn, learn, learn, never stop learning. Learn to love learning. Read books, watch documentaries, talk to experts. Hell, observe the world and talk to people who’ve sunk thousands of hours into their hobbies. Figure out what you like to do and we’ll go from there and make it work somehow.

(mini van pulls into drop off)

Gamma: I’m going to be a YouTuber.

Me: (disappointed sigh) Maybe something better than a YouTuber.

Gamma: (scathingly) Way to support your own daughter, mom. (Jumps out of van)

Delta: I know what I want to do when I grow up.

Me: Oh yeah?

Delta: Have fun.

Me: Good attitude to have, Delta. Have fun at school.

Delta: And you have the best day of your life, mom.

(Delta exits van, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

Literary References

(scene opens in messy kitchen, Carrot hastily making school lunches)

Gamma: Mom? Can I wear this jacket? (holds up ratty Starfleet letterman)

Me: (pained) I’d rather you not, the sleeves are peeling and I’ve not replaced them with real leather yet.

Gamma: Please?! Look! It almost fits me! (puts it on)

Me: (defeated) Sure, just be very careful with it? I don’t want it to get beyond repair. (goes back to making sandwiches)

Gamma: Mom? What’s Battlestar Galactica?

Me: (taken aback) What? Uh…its another space show. About humanity’s survival against the Cylons. Sentient robots – maybe androids – that rose up and rebelled against their masters.

Gamma: (with deep and excessive sarcasm) Oh. Robots rising up against their masters. Where have I heard that before?

Me: All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.

Gamma: Wut?

Me: Nothing. It’s a trope. Tropes are reoccurring themes in entertainment and literature. They’re meant to convey certain concepts. Everything is referencing something else. If you understand all the references, you get a much deeper story.

Gamma: (dismissive) You’d think they’d come up with something new by now.

Me: Yeah, well, everything old is eventually made new. Get your boots on, it’s go time.

I need an adultier adult.

(scene opens at cluttered dinning room table, Pandemic Homeschool in Progress)

Me: (too through) Okay, next project. Remember the book the teacher read to you this morning in Zoom? Here you have to draw a picture about what makes you “you” and record it.

Delta: (anxious) I don’t know what makes me “me”!

Me: (striving for patience) It can be anything. Anything you like about yourself.

Delta: (thinks) My skin!

Me: (begins to tremble) …..maybe something different?

Delta: If it weren’t for skin, we wouldn’t be human!

Me: (closes eyes, hangs head, submits to the will of the gods) You are technically correct.

Delta: (hums to himself as he beings to draw) Look mommy! I drew my skin! (camera cuts to computer screen showing a flesh colored blob)

Me: (faintly) Great job. Remember to use the microphone to explain what you drew and why it makes you “you”.

Delta: (leans toward lap top, hisses) ….mmmmmyyyyy ssskkkkkiiinnnnnn. (normal voice) Goodbye! (digitally submits assignment) All done mommy! Time for a brain break.

Me: (stares at her coffee) Yes. Quite.

The Old Tongue

(scene opens in mini van, sound of something rolling around)

Gamma: (in hypersensitive) What is that noise?!

Me: (focusing on road) Check the ash tray.

Gamma: (pause) Ash tray?

Me: (opens recessed drawer, reveals car adapter)

Gamma: Oh, its a stylus for the touch screen! (picks it up and touches end to screen)

Me: No, it’s a car charger. You plug it into the cigarette lighter and it charges your electronics.

Gamma: (longer pause) Cigarette lighter?

Me: Damnit. Okay – back when everyone and their mother used to smoke, there was this thing in the car that you would push in to turn on and it would heat up and then you could touch it to the end of your cigarette to light it. Now they use them as car outlets because it’s just an electrical contact point inside.

Gamma: (side eye) Oh. Okay. That was weird.

Me: The more I have to explain it to you, the weirder my childhood gets.

Poker Face

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Beta: (describing the gear needed for Welding class)

Me: (looks up from computer at Husband) So…now we’re buying him boots?

Husband: Something like Timberlands. Heavy duty work boots.

Me: (turns to Beta) Are you going to wear them all day?

Beta: No, they’ll stay in my locker.

Me: Finally using your locker? Glad someone knows what a locker is.

Beta: I have a locker in my welding classroom. I don’t use my real locker.

Husband: Only use your step-locker?

Me: (absentmindedly) What are you doing, step-locker?

Husband: (whips around to stare at Carrot)

Beta: (points at Carrot, yelling) NO!

Husband: (whips around to stare at Beta)

Me: Ha-ha. Outted you.

Beta: (flames bright red)

Husband: You’d better go to bed.

(Beta flees, stage left)

Husband: (to Carrot now laughing helplessly) I think this makes you the bad parent.

Carrot: (wipes tears) I’m okay with that.

Mysteries of the Universe

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Me: (to husband) I found one of Gamma’s stories in my Google Docs. I don’t know if it got emailed to me or what.

Husband: Yeah?

Me: It was amazingly complicated. There’s a deep and wide ranging mind in that child. Alarmingly and creatively intelligent.

Husband: I know. I’ve read some of her stuff.

Me: (looks out window, Gamma running around in circles talking loudly to herself and swinging a scooter by the handle) Y’know how some of our other friends have really smart and clever and deep children?

Husband: (warily) Yeah?

Me: How come they’re all self-possessed well spoken polite little mini-adults and ours is swathed in chaos?

Husband: Swaddled.

Me: Swathed. Swaddled. Difference?

Husband: Swaddled is comforting.

Me: (thinks) Fair.

Ouch

(scene opens in mini van, pulling away from kindergarten pick up line)

Delta: Is today Mother’s Day?

Me: No, yesterday was Mother’s Day.

Delta: Mother’s Day is only one day?

Me: Yes. Only one day.

Delta. Only one day a year?

Me: Yes. Mother’s Day is only one day a year.

Delta: So only one day a year you have a life?

Me: (quiet, merges into traffic) Yes. Thanks for pointing that out, Delta.

Delta. (happily) You’re welcome, mommy!

Did you eat them?

(scene opens in dinning room)

Husband: (grouchy) Beta is wearing shorts.

Me: (too through) I told him to go through Alpha’s dresser for jeans if they’re not in his.

Husband: They say they don’t have any. Alpha has been wearing the same shorts for two weeks now.

Me: But…I went to Goodwill. In a mask. I bought a dozen. It’s a pandemic. We. Haven’t. Been. Anywhere.

Husband: (throws up hands)

Me: (still confused) All the laundry has been done.

Husband: I told them at lunch they’re going up to their room and finding all their pants.

(the two stare at one another)

Me: It’s gonna get real cold in here when the Polar Vortex comes and they have no pants.

Husband: I doubt that will motivate them.