Moomah the Magazine
Flip Ahead

Flip Ahead

- Kim Korson

I did a bit of an Oprah thing last night: I imagined the cover of my book. I know, in order to fully achieve my dumb best life, I should have gone with a vision board but that would have required tape and poster board and getting out of bed. So I settled on the board’s more shiftless cousin, visualization. The book I conjured up was minding its business on a spiffy 1960’s credenza in a living room too tidy to be my own. Now the first thing I do when meeting a new hardcover is undress it so as not to rip or ruin the jacket. But just before disrobing it, I take a moment to admire the artwork and read the praise on the back. I never, however, peek at the author photo because if the author is peculiar looking, I spend the entire reading experience focusing on the wrong thing.

The jacket I envisioned was a darkish olive with tall pines dotting the landscape and on the bottom right was an old timey 3 x 5 snapshot of me as a wee malcontent. It’s a summer camp photo from 1976; I am slouching by the edge of a lake, my bangs are too short, I am brooding. And while I didn’t look at the back author photo, I did spend a bit of time staring at the kid on the front. I didn’t do this to get all Circle Game on myself--I did it because I was dying to flip ahead.

A side note about my nature: I am terribly nosy. I have participated in some diary hijinks of which I am not proud. Look, I can’t help it if I have stealthy eyes and I notice stuff. I like to think it is my job to be observant, that all this interest in other people’s privacy helps me hone my craft but really, I’m just a snoop. And while I will definitely dip into your letters, I will never read a book out of order. Ever. I do not, under any circumstances, flip ahead; a book and its chronology demand respect. Plus there was a small incident when I was nine and accidentally read the last line of I Was A 98 LB Duckling by Jean Van Leeuwen. It was one of those I’m-a-funny-looking-kid yarns I so indentified with. There were several copies stacked one in front of the other, so I picked the third in line as it appeared to be in the most pristine condition. Somehow there was a bit of a book kerfuffle causing a good seven copies to jump off the shelf and onto the linoleum. Without delay I picked up what appeared to be the most unblemished one and, hoping to seem too engrossed in a book to be the cause of the avalanche, I opened the soft cover backwards. Instead of reading the first paragraph, I was confronted with the very last sentence of the book, which then promptly imprinted on my brain. For the next many years, the line continued to harass me. It would taunt me in math class, during a root canal, even once at my wedding. Now when I read a book, I have to actually cover the last few lines of a paragraph just so I don’t read ahead. I kind of think it was Jean Van Leeuwen’s fault. She was probably the trigger for a lot of my neurotic tendencies. Let’s go ahead and blame her for some other stuff that’s wrong with me, too.

But last night, I wanted to flip ahead. I needed to. The glass half full in me would like to pretend it’s because everything is exciting right now. But, if we’re being honest, I am never even close to half full--I barely even have a glass. I wanted to flip ahead because we are days away from packing up our urban—briefly--suburban life to move to more rural environs, and I am not comfortable with change. I know, I know, life is a journey. But journeys are often long and dusty and they make you tired. People tell me I’ve got nothing to lose. People say a lot of things. You can always move back (please, who does that.) The city will always be there (how do they know?) Live every day like it is your last—Carpe Diem! (shut up). And you know what? If I found out it was my last day on earth, I can guarantee I wouldn’t rummage through my desk to find some sort of bucket list. And I can also promise you it wouldn’t be called a bucket list because the only thing that makes me more hostile than the term bucket list is The Help and poached chicken. If I found out it was my last day on earth, I’d take to the bed and worry about the exact time said death would be happening. Come to think of it, I have been living every day as if it were my last. Sometimes, I live it like it’s your last, too. There are mornings when I am drinking coffee or moisturizing and I cook up all the gruesome ways one of us could go. I even hear the sound bites by neighbors and reporters recounting how my day began just like any other, with coffee and moisturizing. When I leave for an airport and foresee my fiery demise, I envision the article that would begin by stating my day began so routinely, so normally. This is how I spend every day living like it is my last. And for a little extra credit, when I have the sniffles, I don’t just reach for the tissues. Instead, I head to the computer to call up that article I read about that woman who thought she had the sniffles only to find out what she really had was some ghastly flesh eating cancerous plague virus malady and died not six hours later. If my stomach aches, it’s that festering tumor I once saw on NOVA, the one that grew so big it ended up sprouting hair and teeth.

It took me just short of a year to make the decision to move to Vermont. You might call me indecisive, a waffler of sorts. I made the family try the place on numerous times to see how it fit, check if Vermont made our ass look fat. A very wise Vermonty friend assured me she breathes easier there and can hear herself think. I don’t think I need that. I’ve had quite enough of myself, thank you. I can hear my thoughts as loud and as clearly as that freaky pack of coyotes that screech below my bedroom window on moonless nights. And this is why I needed to flip ahead, so I could see what I’d be like there and what shenanigans my character will get into.

Will I actually start that vegetable garden or change my mind and farm goats or cheese or hemp. Will there be hilarious spinach stealing antics with Hank, our resident groundhog-woodchuck-gophery thing? I really do get giddy when he makes an appearance. I used to feel the same way every day in Brooklyn when I’d spot a character I knew only by face, one of the many day-players in my life. Maybe exchanging hipsters for field rodents isn’t a bad thing. And what about the family? Will the kids fall out of trees or get run over by wild tractors? Will my husband lose three of his fingers to the gleaming new machete he is now the proud, Jewish, owner of? Will all that silence and nature calm me down or turn me into The Shining. I kind of need to know.

But, I realize the only way to read the book is to write the book. How bad can it be? The Ingalls were mostly happy in Walnut Grove living in their little house on the prairie, even after street urchin Albert came along to get adopted and ruin the show. And should I ever go blind like Mary, I am told the community will absolutely rally around me. That’s what small, chummy communities do. They rally. They call you by name at the bank and DMV. They make meal trees. Another local friend assured me that if something happens to one of their own, say they get stricken with some cancer, the whole town just comes together to help in any way they can. It was a touching exchange, super reassuring. I left that talk finally feeling like I could do it, just pack the bags and everything will be fine. It was only later that night that I squirmed in bed, thinking, “Wait, I’m going to get cancer?”

Posted in: For Laughs   

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Recent Comments

Michelle said…

I think you should absolutely farm goats and please keep writing.  You are an incredible funny writer.  We all go Circle game from time to time.  Nice to know I’m not the only one.

Jodi Paloni said…

So nice to see the humor in writing and living. Refreshing!
FAVORITE: “There are mornings when I am drinking coffee or moisturizing and I cook up all the gruesome ways one of us could go. I even hear the sound bites by neighbors and reporters recounting how my day began just like any other, with coffee and moisturizing.”

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