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Fiske-y Business

Greetings and welcome to a cheerful Saturday here at the Wannaskan Almanac. Today is Saturday, January 12th.

Today, I'm teaching a workshop on how to improve your writing for publication. If you're local (I said, loc-AL, not loco) and you're catching this before 10am, join me at the friendly Warroad Public Library for this awesome, info-packed, FREE event. Head librarian, Miss Kelly, tells me that there may be coffee and donut holes. Learning, talking shop with other writerly folk and BREAKFAST to boot! Woohoo!

My oldest daughter would absolutely die of embarrassment if she knew I were writing this post, but she's busy with the F.R.E.D. Robotics team and doesn't read my blog posts (much) anyway. So, mum's the word, peeps, and welcome to the inner chambers of our busy family.

Over the Christmas holiday she turned seventeen and someone gifted her the Fiske Guide to Getting Into the Right College. (Okay, it was me.)

Back in September, at the beginning of the school year, she reasoned that, because she's a junior, she didn't need to be thinking about college. "That's senior stuff."

As parents, and having the full benefit of knowing our daughter well, we bat the tennis ball back into her court with our logic. "It takes you forever to make a decision so you need to be thinking about this now. Next year is too late."

Because this is our first hatchling, I've been researching and reading up on this thing called "College Admissions." It's a new beast nowadays. There are things called "early admissions" and "super scores." It's all about diversity and having a unique story.

This reminded me of the opening scene from the movie, 21 (2008) about the MIT college students who learned how to cheat at Blackjack and went to Las Vegas to make a bucket load of dough. (Isn't that one of the expected outcomes of college? To acquire sufficient skills that will enable you by employment, or otherwise, to make some moolah?)

Anyway, the main character, Ben, is interviewing for the Robinson scholarship at Harvard Medical School. His application comes with all of the highest scores and accolades. However, Professor Phillips informs Ben, that the recipient of the scholarship needs to "dazzle" and be someone who "jumps off the page." The professor says, "Ben, last year the Robinson scholarship went to Hum Jay Wu, a Korean immigrant who only has one leg...Have you considered cutting one of yours off?" He goes on to ask the one question that strikes fear into the heart of any parent who wants to see their kid succeed. "What life experience separates you from all the rest? What can you tell me, Ben, that's going to dazzle me?"

How can my child dazzle and keep all her appendages? Hmmm....

So, back to Fiske, who's been sitting on her bookshelf, presumably untouched, for a couple of weeks now. I couldn't take it anymore. I went into her room and slipped the pristine book off the shelf like a mid-day thief. If I read the first chapter, I reasoned, maybe I could coax her to read it, too. Together we would navigate the dark murky waters that inevitably lurked somewhere beyond the horizon.

Personally, I love thinking about college. Making those plans for the next phase of one's life is totally my jam. (a phrase that I severely overused in the first draft of my current novel-in-progress, all references which I've removed.) Seriously, I love this stuff. In another life, I bet I was a high school guidance counselor or a college admissions officer.

Wit a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee with a splash of cream, I sat at the kitchen table, marveling at the clean, glossy cover. So shiny and filled with possibility. I could hardly wait. I opened the book to the title page, then the dedication - to our parents - then the Contents page, careful to not crease the cover or make that first satisfactory crack of really opening the book. (After all, that should be my daughter's privilege.)

Part One: Finding the Right College (I'm SO excited!)

*Turn the page*

I: The Search Begins (or, What to Do When You Don't Have a Clue)

(Perfect for my daughter. Ohmigosh, I can't wait. *clap, clap, clap*)

"The college advising office in your high school can be a pretty intimidating place, especially on your first visit."

My heart palpitations are similar to those I get when watching Star Wars or Indian Jones movies.

"flea-bitten Nirvana girl from down the street...doting mother...."

Looking all good. Relatable. Yes.

Then I get to this paragraph.

"Meanwhile, all the adults in your life (and a few you've never seen before) offer their two cents about where you should go to school. From your grandfather, you get the latest updates on colleges and the job market from the Wall Street Journal. Mom says that you can choose any school you want - as long as you stay within fifty miles from home. Even your great uncle Pete, whom you barely know, takes you under his wing and says he has the perfect college for you based on his wonderful experience in the early 1960s." (p. 4)


Except in our house, it's Hospodářské noviny, the Czech equivalent of the Wall Street Journal. While mom (aka, me) has long since given her blessing for said daughter to attend college anywhere she chooses, she admittedly has fairy tales of "selective schools" dancing in her head. Dad has said, "Sure you can be anything you want - after you become a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer." And yes, we even have a great uncle Pete, the only difference being our daughter does know him well and his name isn't Pete.

Sounding like a hover parent, am I? You betcha. And I bet you didn't even need a college degree to come to that conclusion.

Recognizing the symptoms of my (latest) obsession - googling ACT score requirements, scouring Top 10 lists in several majors, Facebook stalking other parents for the inside scoop and tips, hijacking my daughter's book - I realized I had to take one giant step back. It's not my job to pick the "best school" for my daughter. And it's not her job to make me happy.

Admittedly a bit shamefaced, but a bit wiser, after writing this blog post (I like to cite sources, after all), I raced up to her room and slipped the book back into its previous spot, hoping there would still be enough stiffness in the new cover to keep any suspicions of my well-intentioned perusing at bay. Then I joined the toddler to watch PJ Mask cartoons, looking as innocent-guilty as a dog meme.

Kids' Corner

Good luck to David who will be competing with his Lego League team, Lego the Woods, today at the FLL Sectional in St. Paul! I've already extracted a promise out of him to let y'all know how it goes!

On This Day

Historic Highlights (credits)

2010 - An earthquake kills 316,000 in Haiti
Most of the country's capital, Port-au-Prince, was destroyed during the disaster.

1991 - The U.S. Congress votes for war in Iraq
President George H. W. Bush was given the authority to use military force to expel Iraq from Kuwait.

1969 - Led Zeppelin releases their debut album
The album was imaginatively named “Led Zeppelin.”

1967 - James Bedford is frozen with intent of future resuscitation
Bedford was the first human to be cryonically preserved; his body awaits resuscitation in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Here's a fascinating account of the Evaluation of the Condition of Dr. James H. Bedford After 24 Years of Cryonic Suspension in 1991.

1908 - The first long-distance radio message is broadcast from the Eiffel Tower in Paris
Scientist Lee de Forest's broadcast was heard by an audience of 50.

Happy Birthday to You!🎶 

1968 - Heather Mills, English model, activist

1917 - Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Indian guru

1916 - P. W. Botha, South African politician, 1st State President of South Africa

1876 - Jack London, American author

1729 - Edmund Burke, Irish politician, philosopher

Remembering You

1976 - Agatha Christie, English author

I have a quote from Agatha Christie above my desk which says, "The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.” Wherever you get your inspiration, make it a great Saturday!

- Kim


  1. I'm seeing a metaphor, here: toad on a stone in a dark forest. Maybe the key to Oldest's leap off the stone is through her CliffStrengths?

    1. Good idea! She has a Strengths Finder 2.0 parked right next to Fiske that I gave her already a year ago. Our mutual friend, Kathy, will be going over it with her.

      My own cheerleader strengths are all rah-rah-rah! ;)

  2. You're a Five Star Mom, Kim. This was funny. Your next novel could be "Acceptance Letter Girl."

    1. Thanks, Joe! I felt nervous being so honest, but glad it worked. I like your novel suggestion! I see a series in my future. :)

  3. Thanks for the dog pic - always warms my heart - even if it is a guilty canine who could walk underneath either of my pups.
    Thanks for sharing all the buzz of your family.
    You know, if this post is any indication, your writing is getting better and better as you teach others about writing, and dedicate yourself to the "practice" that supports the "project" itself.


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