How Ms. Peters Named My Blog

First, do me a favor: think construction paper (choose your color; mine is red, always red). In the center, imagine a fat black outline of a duck. Now place the paper on a sticky dwarfed table in front of a bunch of five-year-olds awkwardly holding some rubber-handled scissors.

Okay, now read.

Some skills we learn early. In fact, we learn them so early that we don’t actually remember learning them. At least not without some thought. Holding a pencil, tying our shoes, blowing our nose —skills we perform so instinctually that we don’t stop to think that once upon a time someone actually had to sit down and teach us how to do them. Random, mundane, perfunctory, but skills that, none the less, our lives wouldn’t be the same without.

I learned the rough cut in Ms. Peters’ kindergarten class. It was the room we’d followed the oversized green footsteps to — not the red ones that lined the other side of the L-shaped hallway and led to the first room on the left — but the green ones. Second door on the left, at the end of the hall.

For us rookie five-year-olds, cutting out that duck was a daunting task. But Ms. Peters threw us some hope when she taught us the rough cut. It was the cut before the cut. The uninhibited, outside-the-line free cut where we hacked and chopped and sliced a couple of inches away from whatever shape it was we’d eventually be making. It was the cut whose edges were supposed to be jagged and frayed. It wasn’t meant to look pretty and we didn’t have to worry about making mistakes. It was simply a first attempt, a place to start, a trimming away of the unwanted edges.

Sure, there are some more technical definitions. In filmmaking, it’s the stage when the film begins to resemble it’s final product. (When compared to how I feel about my writing, the descriptive phrases do not flow well and untreated, unmatched and generally unpleasant are so authentic they make me laugh.) In publishing, it’s leaving the edges of a book in an unfinished state. In the Bible, it’s a young king David taking what isn’t his. In sports, it’s Aaron Rodgers waiting his turn. In literature, it’s Wilbur before he meets Charlotte. In a sitcom, it’s Michael Scott . . .um, okay that one might be too much of a stretch even for an optimist like me.

In life, it’s my story and your story and, I’m learning, pretty much everyone’s story I know.

The thing I’ve come to realize though, and am starting to embrace, is that the rough cut isn’t a waste of  my time. It’s not haphazard and isn’t done without care. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s thoughtful, intentional. It has vision and purpose. It’s the process of becoming something that may one day actually look like that stupid duck. And while it’s not done without some unbearably ugly and gutfully painful chops, it’s okay because it’s all part of completing the picture. 

So, here’s to Ms. Peters and clunky fat scissors and scraps of paper that fall at our feet. Here’s to strange-looking shapes with unfinished edges that give us the freedom to be who we are while still holding before us who we want to become. Here’s to finally understanding that the rough cut is a necessary and invaluable part of life, faith and living out our dreams.

Oh, and here’s to my blog that allows me to hack and slice away – edges jagged, frayed and unfinished indeed. And for the record, I can’t remember if it was a duck or circle or some other simple barnyard-geometric-animal-type shape.  But, I’m guessing you get it by now.  Doesn’t really matter, because it’s all . . . part of the cut.

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12 thoughts on “How Ms. Peters Named My Blog

  1. Well Suanne! I never really knew THIS side of you in our short time together in Chicago. Only our frazzled lives together as moms and me in my journey as I searched to uncover more of the face of God in our bible studies together( i miss those quite a bit:))
    Its a beautiful rough cut you have written here, and i look forward to reading more of your blogs as they develop.
    Great job! I am sure God plans to use you in a big way.

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  2. Hi Suanne,

    I enjoyed that very much. It reminded me that the only way to be a good parent is too make the rough cut each and everytime we make a new decision in parenting. We don’t know all the answers but we are working our way there a little at a time just like we did in Kindergarten.

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  3. YES! I totally remember the rough cut now that I think about it. Suddenly I am filled with flashbacks from elementary school and I think the name you chose for this blog is so perfect, so apt to describe your writing journey. So here’s to rough edges and all the trimming to go along with it!
    Peace to you on your journey sister.

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  4. Best line (and this may be good to keep in mind for tag line for the blog or for you in general): “The thing I’ve come to realize though, and am starting to embrace, is that the rough cut isn’t a waste of my time. ”

    Good, good, good. That’s a truth more people need to hear. Love it said this way.

    I also love that you called your K teacher “Ms.” You must’ve lived in a very liberated community–or be even younger than I thought you were. ; )

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    • Caryn, you know what is so funny? I had a line in about Ms. v. Mrs. that I took out. Nice editor eyes. To this day, I’m still not sure if it meant she was never married or was divorced or what, but I distincly remember having to work at calling her Ms.

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  5. Hey Sus-

    Love it, love it, love it! It’s awesome to know that I’m still being shaped and molded…that I won’t be “rough cut” forever.

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  6. Suanne, I think Ms. Peters would be honored to know this is here. I could remember every bit of her teaching that as you described it….very surreal. She was a tough one at times but boy…do I “get it” now! She was also one of my most “unforgettables” (not a word I’m sure) and obviously one of yours too! Great story, and moral …… I’m glad you shared

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