In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.
Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more columns by Palmer here.
Steamboat Springs Baffled by Sudoku? Confounded by crosswords? Here's something new to try.
Grab a cup of coffee, settle into your favorite chair and write the story of your life - start to finish - in six words. That's right. Six words. No more, no less. Sounds easy? It's not.
It all started innocently enough last Saturday night when a friend handed me a book, "Not Quite What I Was Planning."
"Here," she said, "This is fun to read in the bathroom." The 218-page book is a collection of mini-memoirs by writers famous and obscure. As soon as I read one entry, I was hooked:
"A Sake Mom, Not A Soccer Mom."
Sake Mom was going to be hard to beat, but I was ready to try.
The next day, a snowy Sunday, was the perfect time to lie on the couch and flip through the book for inspiration.
"Pack-rat cleans house, loses husband."
"I like big butts, can't lie."
"I wrote it all down somewhere."
"Rich in degrees and student loans."
"I'm the fine print; read closely."
"Fifteen years since last professional haircut."
"Brought it to a boil, often."
"On the seventh word, he rested."
Do you try to sum up your entire life in six words or just one aspect of it? I contemplated this at great length as I scrubbed chewing gum out of the dryer. This activity did not seem noteworthy, although, if the petroleum-based product I was using to rid the dryer of chewing gum caused the dryer to blow up later in the day - that could rate a word or two. But laundry is no excuse. It inspired another writer:
"Detergent girl: Bold. Tide. Cheer. All."
Lately, my life seems to consist of too much of everything except fun. Too much work, too much laundry and too much negotiating with a soon-to-be-11-year-old about his growing, changing and urgent list of wants and demands. After my son started badgering me for a studded belt and a body spray called "Axe," I had to face the fact that he was growing up. Growing up and away from me! Interestingly, Axe has a six-word slogan, "Spray it, and they will come." They, of course, meaning girls. Heaven help us, it's time to lock all the doors. And change the garage door code.
In college, my six-word summary would have been easy:
"Study. Party. Eat. Study. Party. Eat."
OK, I'll be truthful about college: "Party. Party. Party. Eat. Party. Study."
After college there was: "Travel. Travel. Travel. Graduate school. NYC."
I did a seven-year stint in the corporate world and then bailed on the Big Apple for a job in Steamboat Springs. "Ski. Work. Ski. Work. Ski. Work."
As a sleep-deprived new mother, I would have written:
"Exhausted. Exhilarated. Exhausted. Exhilarated. Exhausted. Exhilarated."
It was easy to sum up small sections of my life, but trying to write about the whole shooting match was not working. Why not write about the dog's life instead? Even though she doesn't talk, it's easy to figure out what she's thinking.
"Feed me. Walk me. Feed. Walk."
I even came up with six-words for the dog that sounded like a haiku.
"Snow tickles my tummy. Treats. Treats."
After dinner, inspiration finally struck. Get ready!
Dear readers, I will now share with you the six words that encapsulate all 53 years of my life.
Drum roll, please.
"I wish we had ice cream."