Illustration of Derek Powazek by Adam Ellis

Things Mom Was Right About

As Illustrated by Three Short Stories of Conversations with Professionals

Someone once told me that one of the signs of true intelligence is when you’re able to change your mind about things. To learn from experience and grow as a person. If that’s true, I think I’m becoming a fucking genius. It’s only taken me 31 years to learn my mom was right about (mostly) everything.

1. Learn To Type

I’m on the phone with my editor. It’s my deadline for turning in the first draft of the book and I’m only half done. After we’re past the groveling and have settled on the new deadline, which I will also miss, I joke: “I’m a pretty fast typist for someone who only uses two fingers and a thumb.”

“What?” she asks, with exasperation in her voice.


2. Don’t Crack Your Knuckles

I’m in the doctor’s office, at the end of an appointment, when he asks if there’s anything else bothering me lately.

“Well,” I say, “my hands hurt a lot these days. Do you think that has anything to do with me cracking my knuckles all the time?”

He lowers his head and looks over his glasses at me, saying nothing.

3. Don’t Chew Ice

It’s weird. I go to the dentist, and it’s all old Asian ladies in this kinda run down Noe Valley place, with a giant jungle scene mural on the wall. Then I go back there, only like three years later, and that practice has moved out and a new one has moved in. What the heck, I think, and sign up.

The jungle mural is gone, as are all the old ladies. Now there’s these hip thirtysomething women running the place and it’s been repainted in shades of white and khaki that are right out of a catalog. The jungle mural is gone, but they have leather chairs and black monitors with iTunes playing an internet jazz station.

My new dentist is very nice. As she’s telling me about the crown procedure they’re going to do to repair my cracked back tooth, I ask: “Does this have anything to do with me chewing ice?”

She stands there, confused, trying to find a polite way to say, “Duh.”

“Yes,” she says. “Yes it does.”

“Mom was right,” I say.

Bonus item: 4. That Girl in 8th Grade was Loose

Totally. But I knew that then, too.

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Hi, I’m Derek. I used to make websites. Now I grow flowers and know things. I’m mostly harmless. More.