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Convinced.

I am convinced that the universe needs me to be at a certain level of desperation on a daily basis in order for the galaxies to remain harmoniously aligned.

I am convinced that if I hadn’t recently freed myself of self-inflicted guilt about giving up on relationships that I clearly can’t salvage without divine intervention, I wouldn’t have old relationships seeping stealthily back into my days, bleeding guilt right back into the scrubbed-clean parts of my psyche.

I am convinced that if I hadn’t gotten so close to being caught up at work, we wouldn’t have had a surprise audit last week.

I am convinced that there are people in my life I need to spend more time with, and that if I hadn’t had the luxury of spending time with those very people recently, I wouldn’t be feeling so badly about the people I haven’t spent much time with.

I am convinced that if I hadn’t started cleaning my house as soon as I got home today– doing the dishes from last night, washing towels we used over the weekend, and scrubbing the shower that was still fairly clean from its last scrubbing–the sewer would not have backed up an hour ago and ruined a bunch of our laundry.

I am convinced that I’m cursed by a God of hilarity, humility, and all things in between.

 

 

Mary. Poppins.

I’ve never been a fan of movies with Mary Poppins endings. You know the ones, the stories that end with all the broken people being put back together again while the person who did the fixing disappears silently into the ending credits?

As a child, I had questions.

Questions such as:

Did the children ever see Mary again? What about on Christmas or Easter? Did she send them postcards to tell them about the other children she was helping so it didn’t sound like a bullshit excuse to hightail it the hell out of their lives? (okay maybe I didn’t think that last thing in those exact words as a child, but it was close).

And what about that Pete’s Dragon? Whatever happened to him? Did he find another little nearly-orphaned boy to take care of? What if he didn’t? What the hell happened to Elliot?’

And did Poppins ever get a hard case she couldn’t crack? Did she ever stay years at a house, and in the end, the daughter ended up hanging off a pole showing fat old businessmen her tramp stamp? Did Poppins ever have to sneak off to the pub and drink herself silly? How far does this Practically Perfect nonsense really go? And are there really people or magic beings who can detach themselves from others so much as to leave them forever, even when they were solely responsible for these people’s happiness?

If so, how do I become one of them?

ugly.delicious.

Everyone who has been overtaken with a passion to do well in a creative field knows the struggle. What you’re doing isn’t important. It doesn’t make enough money. It serves no real function. 

My husband is obsessed with cooking shows, chefs, exotic food, etc. And today while I was executing the ever-exuberant task of folding clean laundry, I thought to myself, “You know what? I could use some background chatter in the key of Dave Chang.” So I turned on his Netflix Original, Ugly Delicious. 

I can’t really think of a better title for his show, nor a better title for the creative process itself. Every time I watch a documentary about some other expert in a field other than writing, I’m struck by the commonalities, by the way they’re so inspiring to a writer even though their field affects completely different senses.

How many of us have taken what those who have come before us have handed down and tried to make it our own? How many of us have shunned what we knew growing up, only to come back to that very thing when we were older and wiser? How many of us have studied how our own passions have influenced or recorded history?

How many of us, at the later stages of our process, are discovering that we’re actually late to the party?

It doesn’t matter what the creative outlet is, we all seem to suffer from the same maladies: We want to change the world. We want to inform the next generation. We want to tell stories that matter.

And the next generation is looking up at us and saying, “We got this. Go to sleep, it’s past your bedtime.”

 

romantic.getaway.

Things You Want Out of a Romantic Weekend Away:

  • Fancy dinners with great food and drinks
  • Sitting close to your significant other in the back of taxis, laughing about something you may not have found as funny if you had kids with you and were in your Suburban
  • Concerts and museum visits you wouldn’t normally treat yourself to
  • Walks through the city that make you feel like you’re inside a snow globe
  • Late morning brunch
  • Long hot showers and a big comfy bed with sheets you don’t have to clean

Things You Do Not Want Out of a Romantic Weekend Away:

  • A drunk guy nearly passing out on top of your significant other as soon as you get to a concert
  • A group of four bros starting a mosh-pit directly in front of you
  • Your hotel’s fire alarm going off as soon as you get out of a long shower in the morning and you have to stand outside in 6 degree weather with wet hair
  • Going to brunch reluctantly at the café next to your hotel–with wet hair, no socks, no bra, and carrying your beloved laptop & four notebooks, because you can’t get back into your hotel until the fire department makes sure it’s safe to go back in
  • Having a taxi driver who has to open his door at every stop light to hock up a loogey and spit it onto the street
  • Walking into a snow-globe-like street where it feels as if a toddler is repeatedly throwing said snow globe up against a wall.

 

writing.stories.

writing.stories.

It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way. 
~Ernest Hemingway~

 

We start learning at a very young age which sorts of stories work, and which do not. Who our intended audience should be, and what reaction we’ll likely evoke. Have you ever witnessed a toddler doing something she knew she wasn’t supposed to do? Like saying a bad word, or throwing her food at the dog? And instead of getting reprimands, the toddler is rewarded with laughter–sometimes stifled, sometimes not–so the toddler repeats it. For the laughter. The smiles. Getting away with being naughty.

Once she learns how to speak, she can figure out the lines that’ll get her out of trouble, which ones don’t work on Mom, but will work on Dad. Which tall tales get her detention, which make her Teacher’s Pet. Trial and error, over and again, seeing which stories make new friends giggle, which ones makes them cry, and if she’s lucky, she’ll discern the best time to tell each.

That’s basically what writing is like, except it takes a hell of a lot longer for feedback.

Over the weekend, I visited the American Writer’s Museum in Chicago. The Ernest Hemingway quote at the top of this page was displayed on a screen there and I stood and stared at it a long time. I’d heard many of his quotes before, but not this one. I committed it to memory. An old-school, writerly version of Fake It Until You Make It. I’m not sure why, out of all the inspirational quotes I saw at the museum, that one stabbed at me the most, but it did.

I thought about it all day, wondered if some people really were born that way and never had to fake it.

Later that same afternoon we sat in a pizzeria, listening to conversations going on around us.

Okay, fine, I was eavesdropping. You wanna know where I get my dialogue? I eavesdrop all over the damn place and there’s nothing anyone can do about it (except maybe, you know, you all could talk a bit quieter when you’re in public. Seriously, the only people who give a shit about what you’re saying are those with ulterior motives, who wish to put you in a blog or story).

Anyway, a guy was sitting at a table next to us, by himself. He was maybe in his mid to late twenties. For a long time, he was too boring to pay attention to, so I’m not sure how, exactly, the conversation started up between him and the man sitting a table over. My ears didn’t perk up until I heard him say, “My girl’s in rehab. It’s been real hard, ya know?” and the second man say, “Oh, sorry to hear that, man. That’s rough.”

At this point, my Ulterior Motive Writer’s Ears switched on. (I keep meaning to ask my husband if my face glows when this happens. I feel like something Super-Powery should signal when my ears turn on.) The first guy–we’ll call him Tattoo Steve–said, “Yeah, she was drinking too much wine.” (This is the part of the story where I became dubious. Or in denial. I don’t know, whatever). And the second guy–Gullible Bob–was nodding in sympathy, and Tattoo Steve turned it up a notch. “Yeah, we’ve got a baby on the way, too. I’m just trying to get myself together for when she gets out.” Cue Gullible Bob coming in with more sympathy, words of encouragement, general shit you say to a person you don’t know who is inexplicably baring his soul to you.

Then my husband and I had to order our food or something obnoxious like that, and part of the conversation was lost on me. (There may have been a pint of beer somewhere in there, contributing to my distraction.)

Once our waiter was gone, and we’d held some conversation of our own to make it look like we weren’t trying to listen in on anyone else’s conversation, we tuned back in to Tattoo Steve being offered some of Gullible Bob’s leftover pizza, even though Tattoo Steve had his own pizza. They were fast friends now, chumming it up, Tattoo Steve spinning all sorts of stories that were tugging at everyone’s heart-strings. The pace at which he was leaving bread crumbs of his story was impeccable, it didn’t sound rehearsed at all, not like some sob stories you hear from pan-handlers or people who are accustomed to begging. This wasn’t some regurgitated script.

That’s what I thought until it came time for Tattoo Steve to pay, and he presented his bus card. To which his waiter said, “Well, uh, hey you can’t pay with a bus card.” As if Tattoo Steve didn’t know such a thing. I grinned wide at my husband. It was all a scam, that story-telling little shit was just making it all up (that was what my grin said, for those of you who weren’t there and couldn’t see it).

I was about to kick Hubs under the table and demand we pay for his pizza–the story-telling was entertaining enough to me to be worth it–when, of course, his new buddy Gullible Bob offered.

This guy was excellent. He had perfectly picked his target and waited patiently, trusting in his story to do what it needed to do.

I thought, maybe some people really are born knowing how to tell stories. I mean, sure, you have to learn where commas and periods go (maybe), and figure out style and syntax, and maybe a few more of those other grammar rules over-and-above comma placement (perhaps), but telling stories? Maybe sometimes it can’t be taught in a classroom or workshop or on a YouTube channel. Maybe it can only be conditioned into you by years of throwing food at your dog and seeing who laughs, who screams, and who gives you more food to throw.

 

 

 

smudged.sky.

smudged.sky.

Sometimes you have to be late to dinner for reasons outside of your control. Like your kid covers herself in yogurt, or your husband can’t find his shoes, or you can’t find your car keys.

Other times you have to be late to dinner because the sky is a smudge of colors so astounding you can’t believe they’re real. And not just real as in, you can see them, but real as in they’re up there in the sky and the pictures of them are not photo-shopped or filtered at all.

So you obviously have to drive past your destination because there are too many cars and hills and buildings around for your kid, who you’ve told to take a picture of said sky, to get a good shot. You drive past your dinner destination, a little away from town, back into town up a big giant hill and pull over onto a picturesque, cobblestone road you’ve been on many times for this thing: to take a picture from above, of the sky and river and marvel at the way they meet, the way they’re never the same colors or shape.

Luckily, in the time it took you to get away from all the cars and buildings, the colors didn’t dissipate too much. They’re still there and brilliant enough to warrant such a thing as going off-course to take some pictures in six degree weather. You bail out of the car with your daughter, snap a bunch of pictures, then get back in. Drive to your grandparents’ house.

Your daughter says, “We can show these to Grandpa.” And your son says, “Yeah maybe Grandpa can paint it!” And you smile because, yeah. Maybe Grandpa can.

Then you get to your grandparents’ house and explain that you were late because you were chasing the sky. And of course that’s okay with them. They’re the ones who taught you to chase the sky in the first place.

adult.friends.

There should be a dating app for adult friendship. Like Tinder but with no inappropriate exchanging of pics. Finding friends as an adult is hard. Harder than hard. Because even if you find a person you really like and want to hang out with, they probably already have a group of awesome friends to work around. Or their kids are in a totally different developmental age than yours, or maybe they don’t even have kids so their idea of a night out is something like, going out for appetizers at 9pm and not getting home until 4am. And how many times can you do that before your husband divorces you?

I don’t want to find out really. My husband’s pretty cool.

So what if you could design an app with different categories such as:

Stay-At-Home Mom (SAHM) looking for other SAHM’s to commiserate with about how to get home-made slime out of my carpet, hair, the dog’s hair, etc. and who also won’t judge me for drinking wine at 10am.

OR:

Full-time Working Mom (FTWM) looking for other FTWM’s to make up after-work meetings with and really go to Happy Hour or Karaoke Night before heading home. Must enjoy singing in the car, fart jokes, and random movie quotes hidden in everyday conversation.

OR:

FTWM looking for crazy-ass single friend who will remind me that I haven’t always been an uptight bitch and can still hang with women a decade younger than me as long as they go out before midnight. (Disclaimer: I probably cannot actually still hang with women a decade younger than me, so this person needs to be cool with having to cart my drunk ass to her car and carrying up my front stairs and leaving me on my porch).

Or you know, other descriptions that other women can probably come up with that are more relevant to their own lives.

Remember when it was easy? Remember when you would just catch sight of someone across the playground wearing green shoes, and you’d run over to them and hit them with a rock and proclaim, “Green is my favorite color! Wanna be my best friend?” and they were just like, “Um yeah, just don’t throw another rock at me, okay?” and then you were best friends?

I miss those days. Adulting is hard. And sorta lonely. Let’s buck the system and make 2018 the friendliest year ever. Now can one of my readers make some sort of Friendship app?