This Ambitious College Student Sent Me Her Writing…
…So With Her Permission I Decided to Publish It
Picking Up Sticks
By Guest Writer Chloe Inhelder
Memoirs are not just a list of memories that pop up in an author’s head when creating a novel; it is more than that. Memoirs reflect a writer’s adventures, where the feel and meaning behind them grasps a reader’s attention. This is something that American author, novelist, and poet Haven Kimmel does exquisitely well with her writing.
Kimmel’s novel “A Girl Named Zippy” provides numerous memories of her family living in a small town known as Mooreland, Indiana. The narrative demonstrates life long lessons for her that are hidden beneath each story, allowing her audience to reflect on their own lives. As Kimmel was explaining the memory of how she would sigh every time her parents would ask her to complete a chore, it made me think of my own chore memories of the past.
When I was little, I used to live in a beautiful house in a different neighborhood than I do now. My family had to move from this house to one we were renting for a short period of time due to the 2008 economic recession that occurred. Before this had happened we enjoyed living there and had some great memories which come to mind.
This house was perfect to play hide and seek in; no one was able to find you for a good half hour. The enormous doors of the house required you to use all of your energy to push them open in every room of the house. The movie theater basement was spectacular. Curling up on the cozy couch under a toasty blanket made every movie night weekend an experience with my family.
One part I will never forget about this house were the number of trees that were in our backyard. This definitely had some pros and cons. It was an advantage because we had a great deal of privacy from our neighbors. The downfall was that every weekend after breakfast, my two older sisters and I had to go pick up sticks in the backyard, while our dad would mow the lawn. These trees were not your average small tree though. They were cottonwoods that had trunks that were so wide around that an NBA player wouldn’t be able to wrap his arms around it to hug it. We would always groan at this and glare at each other as if this were the worst chore to possibly do as little kids.
We would say with a sigh, “Do we have to go pick up sticks?”
Our mom would tell us “Only for 30 minutes; it won’t be that bad.”
However, our dad would instruct us, “Find ten sticks each and pick them up. If you are the first to find your ten sticks, you have to help your other two sisters to find ten”.
When everyone was done, we had to go show our ten sticks to our dad, before we threw them in the trash bag. This chore was a major pain in the butt because I remember picking up sticks when it was freezing outside. Would I give up this memory? No, not even a little bit because it is part of my childhood and I cherish this memory I had with my family when we lived in that house.
Picking up sticks may have been one of the last chores I wanted to do as a kid, but there was a silver lining behind doing this time-draining chore. It gave me the lesson that we all cannot always do the fun activities in life. We have to do the dull, tedious tasks as well in our journey to becoming the responsible adults that we grow up to be.
Now looking back on these weekend responsibilities my parents gave my sisters and I has allowed me to reflect on how significant it is to help around the house. Picking up sticks may not have always been a fun activity, but reflecting back on this weekly routine of my sisters and I reminded me of how grateful I am for the bond we shared during this time and the relationship we now have with each other from doing uninteresting housework together. It shows that the memories in our lives made it worth doing these necessary duties with the people we love.
Responsibility is one thing I know now as a person. I have made numerous errors throughout my life, but it results in me understanding how I can learn from what I did. I may not have been a stickler for yard work, but there were a couple of instances that I can draw from my brain where I broke the mold when it came to being an irresponsible kid.
By way of example, I recall going to cheer on my sister at her lacrosse game with my mom one weekend. Unfortunately living in the Midwest and in Colorado, it was frigid. And give that I was thirteen year old at the time, I did not want to be standing out in the cold. So I decided to convince my mom to let me stay in the car while she went to watch the last half of the game.
“If you plan to come watch the rest of the game, don’t forget to grab the keys” my mom instructed me.”
“Okay, that sounds good” I answered her.
Unfortunately, I did the exact opposite of what she had said. I forgot the keys in the car, locking us out. Seeing a parent’s fuming facial expression will make any kid want to have a time machine to go back and do things differently. In this case it was about being responsible. However, that is not how life works and being a young teenager at the time, I learned from my actions of what being accountable means. Over time, I have discovered that while I am not perfect with every task I complete, I learn from each successful and failed attempt that I encounter.
Chloe Inhelder is an undergraduate student at College of St. Mary in Omaha, Nebraska