Brace yourself

A couple days ago at the library, Sam was searching for The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek. The book wasn’t in the stacks, so I had to electronically request it.

“It’ll be available in a couple days.” I told him.

“That’s fine,” Sam said as he grabbed a copy of American Marxism by Mark R. Levin. “I think this is written by a conservative,” he said. “I’m kind of curious.”

“Good for you,” I said, secretly bracing myself to allow right-wing propaganda into my house. “Read it.”

This is one of the many things I love about my oldest son. He’ll read anything and he is an outstanding perspective-seeker.

But you know what happens when you live with a 15-year-old seeker of perspectives? They argue about everything.

And win.

So brace yourself.

Brace yourself? I just asked myself. That’s the second time I said that. Where did that come from?

It took me a few seconds to remember the origin of “brace yourself.” It was my dad who taught me this self-help trick when I started editing a small literary journal in 2010 for Rockford Writers’ Guild.

“After you pick up the books from the printer, go home and read the book. You’re going to see mistakes and typos,” he said. “Brace yourself.”

Truer words were never spoken. The first few times you edit something, all you see are your mistakes. It’s a terrible feeling. I went over to his house to talk to him about it. I don’t remember the exact words, but they were something close to this.

Dad, you’re right. I found a million typos.

That’s typical.

Do I apologize before I distribute the books?

No. And he laughed a little. They’ll let you know. And you have to let them. Brace yourself.

He had great advice about editing a small press. None of the challenges I faced ever surprised him and he frequently used the word “typical” to describe situations I found outrageous. Dad, also a perspective-seeker, loved the Guild and everything that came with it.

Me? Well, I loved my father, but I did not love the Guild. I braced for the Guild.

I didn’t realize until I started writing today that I still haven’t removed my “Guild brace.” I’ve been away from the presidency and editorship since 2019! I think I know why I am still wearing the invisible brace. If I take that brace off, that means Dad’s really gone. I still can’t stand it.

I have to get ready for Tuesdays@9 and drive to the city. Glad I have a long commute to and fro Chicago tonight so I can think about my “brace.” Maybe by the time I get back tonight, I’ll have finally removed it.

Or maybe I’ll wear it a little longer.

In any event, thank you for reading. -Connie

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