Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Write What You Know: The Universality of Utter Frustration

There's a scene in my current WIP, Flower of the Desert, where Count Raymond, one of the Crusader nobles, feigns illness so he doesn't have to ride out to battle with the rest of the men. His plan? To accept the surrender of the enemy's citadel while his fellows are otherwise engaged.

Unfortunately, his rival Bohemond suspects his sudden sickness, and--sending a midnight messenger up the mountain--performs a power grab of his own. Bohemond makes a secret agreement with the citadel commander who promises to surrender only to him.

The Crusaders capturing the city of Antioch
I've had fun imagining Count Raymond's utter frustration when his carefully laid plan goes awry. I've had fun typing how furious he must have been when the citadel commander refused to fly his flag and bade him send up Bohemond's instead. The fun, however, has been entirely on my side of the computer screen, and not on Raymond's.

As a former teacher and now a stay-at-home mom, I've never been in a situation that's similar, on the surface, to Raymond's. But like most of humankind, I have experienced the emotion of utter frustration. So, in a sense, I'm writing what I know.

I used to think utter frustration was encapsulated in the computer printer not working--when you're about to be late to class, and the ink cartridge keeps telling you it needs to align, and you need that stupid assignment that you just finished seconds ago to PRINT! I now know that printing problems, although they're a close second, must yield the podium to the greatest frustration of all: taking apart my son's port-a-crib.

Normal port-a-cribs have their challenges, but this port-a-crib is a punishment that should have been reserved for one of the lowest circles in Dante's Inferno. The bottom bars (as well as the top bars) lock, and each bar has hidden pressure points that must be pushed so that it will fold in two places.

You have only to read the warning tag on the side of the crib to realize that its makers were not concerned with being user-friendly:

FALL HAZARO-To help prewenl talls, DO NOT use this product when the inlanl begins to push up on hands and krees or has reached the manufaclurer’s recommended maximum weight, whichever comes lirst. 
SUFFOCATION HAZARD-Inlands can sullocade: In gaps between an etra pad and side of the bassinetcradle. On soft bedding. 
-NEVER add a mattress, pillow, comforber, or padding Use ONLY the pad provided by manutachurer. 
-If a sheet is used with the pad, use ONLY the one prowided by the bassinet or cradle manutadurer or one specifically designed to fit the dimension of the basshet or cradle mattress. To reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden infant Dead Syndrome). Pedatricians recommend healthy infants be placed on their back to sleep, unless otherwise advised by your physician.
I kid you not. This is, letter for letter, the exact spelling of the tag on the outside of the port-a-crib. It looks like the "manutachurer" scanned in the text from the tag on another crib and then didn't care to (or wasn't able to?) read through it to see if there were any errors. 

While I may never have been thwarted in my plans to seize a mountainside fortress, I have definitely been thwarted more than once in my plans to collapse a recalcitrant port-a-crib. And if Count Raymond feels like cursing a little when he hears the bad news, I would certainly not be the one to cast the first stone.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Teralyn! :-) Glad you enjoyed it. It's funny to me retrospect.


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