In order to take our writing to the next level we must embrace our strange, unique, and often embarrassing selves and write about the things that really matter to us. We need to be willing to peel our own layers back until we reach that tender, raw, voiceless place—the place where our crunchiest stories come from. We need to get some skin in the game. It should cost us something emotionally to tell our stories. But many of us who come to writing do so because they were voiceless at some point in their lives, so doing that can be the most terrifying risk of all.- Robin Lafever
The dogs got out again today and everything I did seemed to go wrong. The last words I said to my middle child before she fell asleep were angry.
So here I am, staring at the computer screen. All the incessant noise, meaningless activity, pointless stress, and the hum of my brain on overdrive have me running at the first available opportunity to solitude and a place where I can siphon the nonsense. If I review the day, one event at a time, perhaps I can find where things went wrong a devise the secret recipe for life. Maybe I’ll find the shiny coin in the bread pudding; that piece of meaning that somehow makes all this seem worth it.
Only now all I can think of is how many times I went through bowl after bowl of that crap and never found anything. Or if I did I held it up to the light only to find that the prize was really only some cheap estimation of something cool and really wasn’t worth all crap I had to swallow to find it.
When she was a child my daughter Maryrose wanted to go to Russia more than anything. When asked why, she said, “Because there are castles with spires and Anastasia was born there. Also, there’s a couple perfectly preserved dead guys in glass cases. Very cool.” So Russia went from being #5 on the list of places I wanted to visit, to #1. Funny how we feel our children’s desires more acutely than our own. At the time I didn’t know if I would ever be able to afford to take her there, so I bought a music box just like the one Anastasia had in the cartoon. It was a gift for her yes, but it was also a reminder for me of my goal to take her there someday. But children grown up, and in a few short years, Anastasia wasn’t the princess who lived after all. So by the time I could afford to take my children anywhere, Ireland was at the top of her list. So to Ireland we went. When I was a child and the center of my own universe, Africa was the place I dreamed of. I wanted to see giraffes, ride elephants and dance with the Swahili. Acutely aware of my mortality and fragile finances, none of that is tempting today. Too many other places to show the kids first; Places on their lists. Being a mom is a sort of melting process. I flowed out into my children. I melted into them, so that I can no longer tell where they end and I begin. If they weren’t a part of my life, as hard as that is to imagine, would Africa, still be my #1, or has time, as much as children changed me also?
She said “When I grow up I am going to set the world on fire. I will never be like all of you.”
She was beautiful and glamorous and free and too stupid to know that time would dictate a cost to all of these. Never mind a one-way ticket to New York is $295. Fate would bless her. She might marry rich, be discovered, finally be recognized for her beauty and brilliance, then become independently wealthy, never having to worry about trivialities such as paying the bills or taking out the trash. This carefree barefoot nymph with wild hair was meant for something more. God or fate, would recognize her destiny, she is special, she will never be just another defeated cubicle 8 hours day 5 days a week until retirement. That life is not meant for her.
The enormous effort required to pay the mortgage, car payment, electric bill, cell phone, water, cable, insurance, taxes, dental, food- not to mention the necessary glamorous party accoutrements and all those trips around the world, would inevitably pay for themselves, coming easily out of the brilliant girl fund, naturally provided to all those as worthy.
“When I grow up I’m going to set the world on fire. I will never be like all of you.”
Was I really so stupid? Or was I smarter, seeing life more clearly at the distance youth afforded before being thrown full force into the muck and weighed down by the tedium of everyday existence. Have I simply given way to disillusionment at the realization of reality, or has hopeless optimism bowed to wisdom and actually paying the bills…. on time!?
Inside I remember once making the same proclamation and realize that now I more resemble “all of you” rather than the girl who would set the world on fire. Where did she go?
Disappeared in the coulda, shoulda and woulda’s I suppose, trading one cliché for a million others
nothing in life is free… It takes all kinds…..youth is wasted on the young…..
hind sight is 20/20…. day late dollar short….. better late than never…it’s a zoo out there….if you lie down with dogs, you rise up with fleas….
rain on your parade
the golden age
not worth a hill of beans
year in and year out
put the cart before the horse
win some, lose some
of mice and men
Heart of stone
make ends meet
The list goes on…
I was supposed to make a wish and blow, but everyone’s eyes were on me and all I could think of was getting the obligatory office birthday ordeal over with as soon as possible. So it wasn’t until my co-worker asked me what I wished for that I realized I had forgotten. Apparently I don’t do well in high pressure wishing situations. So if I HAD made a wish it would only have been that I might better know what I ought to wish for.
I also didn’t prepare a pop tart answer ahead of time. So I mumbled something about not liking to make wishes and felt the gulf between us, grow even wider. I guess what I wanted to say, was that the annual wishing tradition seems hallow to me. If it’s worth wishing for, isn’t it worth praying for? Because it seems to me, given a choice between the two lotteries, that praying might offer better odds than wishing. So I imagine I can do that birthday candle or not, with bunches more time to choose.
Remind me to be call in sick on my birthday next year.