Most of my days are spent walking around in a fog, but sometimes I have these deep breadths of clarity. I had one the other night. Well, the other day, really. I was working. It was a Saturday. I had been at work for a couple hours past my quitting time when my poet friend called and reminded me of a workshop that I wanted to attend. I’m not a hug fan of workshops. Well, really, I’m divided on it. I like workshops, but I hate them at the same time because they make me uncomfortable. I love to hear what other people have to say, and I love to hear other people’s works, but I hate sharing my own. It’s a peculiar dynamic really. So I went to this small workshop and it was really just a series of writing exercises, which I am love with. I think every writing class I ever took in college became my favorite as soon as the writing exercises started. I even have a couple books at home that have exercises in them, but it’s not quite the same. Anyhow, I went to the workshop. It was only my poet friend, myself, another girl and the leader of the whole shebang, who was a nationally known poet and author from North Carolina. He talked a bit and there was some Q&A, and then the workshopping started. He would give a prompt, and then we would have ten or fifteen minutes to put our thoughts on paper or in my case on computer. The time went by way too fast and when it came time to share, as always, my inner demons crept up on my shoulder to remind me how awful of a writer I was and how if I were a better writer, maybe I would have half of the successes of this poet four years my junior, but still, I read my “assignment” out loud to the group, because I’m good in small company. It’s the large groups that make my palms sweat and my armpits stink. After the workshop, we were talking about the open mic/ poetry slam that was the finale of the festival that had taken place over the weekend. My poet friend was the master of ceremonies for the event and I told him I would come. I was really just going because I love watching the slams. I have this idea in my mind that one day, I will be featured on some cable special on a stage reciting some earth shattering truth that I came up with all by my lonesome to thousands of people who will stand up and cheer my name while wearing the “i want your words in my mouth” shirt that I have copy written. So when my poet friend asked me if I was going to perform at the open mic, even though I was ill prepared, there was something in me that just could not say no. So amidst the crowd, which may have been the largest I have ever stood up in front of even remotely sober, I got up on stage and recited my (favorite so far) Ten O’clock Men. I couldn’t recite it from memory because I was way too nervous, but there was such clarity in that moment as I scanned the crowd looking for at least one familiar face in it that I never found. There was a sense of belonging. There was a feeling of peace that came over me despite the fact that I was ridiculously nervous to stand up in front of the “professional writers and poets” that littered the back of the room waiting for the “real show” to start. And when I finished, for the first time, I could hear the applause. It’s usually just a blur lost in the bundle of nerves that overcomes me at the mere idea of speaking in front of group of strangers, but that day, it was like water covering my face at a baptism. And I knew, more than ever before, that the life I have carved out for myself, is not the life that is going to satisfy my existence.
I’m an animal lover. It’s no secret. I love all animals: birds, squirrels, kittens, fish, lions, dogs (especially dogs) and so forth. I wouldn’t hurt a fly, literally, I will not kill a fly, I can’t and I won’t. I try not to step on ants when I see them outside. I let a whole hive of bees live under a tree branch/root in my flower bed even after they swarmed me and stung the shit out of me because I knew they would be gone next year, which is now this year, and they are. But now, I’ve come to a crossroads of sorts in my life of pacifism and loving of animals. I have a critter. Not a pet critter. A wild one. In my kitchen. I’m not sure what it is. It could be a large rat, a small raccoon, possibly a possum, maybe even a monkey. I’m not quite sure. What I am sure of is that it eats no less than one half of a banana every single night. I have a banana hanger on my microwave which sits on my countertop and every night, something makes its way up there to snack on the bananas. And my “guard dogs” aren’t saying shit about it. Not a growl, not a bark, not even an attempt at eating it. I went to Home Depot to get a humane rat trap, because my logical mind says that’s what it is, but they only had lethal traps. The kind that snap a neck and the kind that their little teeny tiny rat feet and hair get stuck to. So I left empty handed. I haven’t replenished the bananas in days, since it ate the last of them, but I’m on the fence about whether to humanely trap it (because then where will I take it?) or if I want to just put it out of my misery and snap it’s cute little neck and ask the rat gods for forgiveness. This really has me losing sleep at night. Well, not really, but it is literally stealing my potassium. I just don’t think I can do the neck breaking trap. And what if I do buy that trap and despite my bad jokes it really is a monkey, a city monkey, and not a banana rat? I’d feel like total shit….
Let’s try this again. I guess it’s obvious I went back to work. Every time I do that, I disappear from the blogosphere. So my “boss” and I made up and I accepted a position back at the granite shop. It was originally supposed to only be part time, but none of the other office people worked out and I ended up being there way more hours than I wanted. And now I’m miserable again. When I can’t write, I feel lost. I know it probably sounds odd but it’s true. And so, here I am again, working to make someone else’s dream come true and putting all of mine on the backburner. I was so happy those few weeks I was unemployed. Of course, I was worried about money but I was happy. Now, I feel like I’m depressed. I know I should be ecstatic to even have a job and one that pays well at that, but I’m not. Miserable is an understatement. I go to bed dreading daylight. Life shouldn’t be like that. And then I wake up and go through the motions of being dependable and happy. I get so tired of lying. I’m sure I’m not the only one who goes to bed every night just praying for the winning lottery numbers to etch their way into my brain on the exact day that they are going to come in. I don’t even want millions, though I wouldn’t turn it down. I just want enough to live the life I want. I know….waaaah, waaaah, waaaah, that’s what we all want, why should I get it when nobody else does? I don’t have an answer, but if I did, I guess it would just be because I’m so….fucking….tired.
As you may or may not know, I got into it a few weeks ago with the owner of the company I work for. It’s hard working for friends. I guess it’s hard doing anything with friends besides being friends. Anyway, we got into it, he said some things. I had hurt feelings. I said some things. He had hurt feelings. He fired me. I was fine with it. So I decided to take some time to write and do some freelance type work. I’ve been kind of writing. It hasn’t turned out the way I had hoped. First, I text my sister about a catering gig. So she was calling me for that and I would go for an hour or two a lot of days to set up a cater for her restaurant so she wouldn’t have to. The pay was decent and it was, like I said, just an hour or two. Then, I went to have my oil changed because, I’ve traveled a lot in my car since I got it 6 months ago and have never had an oil change. I was talking to the mechanic about Facebook and marketing stuff and he said that maybe he’d like me to do some of that for him. So he called me and we are still working out the details on that, but it’s pretty much a go. And, then, friend and I apologized to each other and he asked me to come back into the office for even a couple hours a day and to do outside sales, on my schedule. So now, I have all these little gigs that I can’t seem to fit into a neat little schedule and I haven’t written shit in a week. I feel like I need to come up with some sort of system or I need to prioritize. I’m not so sure. I’m confused and it’s stressing me out. I really just want to win the lottery so I can go take cake decorating classes and painting classes and photography classes and dance classes, so many dance classes my feet blister, and then write about those things. But until I get my life together, I guess I’m stuck trying to figure out how I went from no gig to holy crap in just a day. I’m not complaining, if it’s going to rain, I’d rather it rain feast than famine. Happy Friday everyone. Have a great weekend.
As you know, I’ve been out of work, kind of. Well, I’ve been trying to find my way in the “self-employed/ writer” world. It’s been slow going. Very slow. So in a moment of panic, I went to the Department of Human Services to see if I qualified for food stamps, just in case I was a huge failure. I didn’t want my kid to starve because his mother can’t get along with most people who call themselves her boss.
Anyway, I was standing in this line with my application. There was a Spanish speaking lady in front of me. There was a Muslim lady in front of her (she was white), there was a white lady behind me and a black girl behind her. So I hear this white woman behind me start running her mouth. First, she’s talking about the Muslim lady. “Look at her, in here, applying for food stamps. She probably got a husband who owns a convenience store that make plenty of money.” Yes, i am writing how she is speaking. And she’s talking to the black girl next to her. Then another lady who speaks Spanish, comes to stand with the Spanish speaking lady in front of me. White lady behind me says, “Oh, hell naw. That bitch wasn’t in line. Did she just cut line? Oh, we doin that now?” I’m still facing forward, listening to this rubbish. Then, she starts talking to the black girl next to her about how she’s glad Trump got into office, he’s already sent a “bunch of them back and soon they won’t be here to take our jobs,” because in Tennessee, everyone that speaks Spanish must be Mexican. At that point, I turn around and look at her in her hot pink tank top and jean shorts with crocks, fake blonde hair pulled into a ponytail not looking a bit like she had to get off work from a job that the “Mexican” lady in front of me was vying to steal. I’m not going to say that she looked like she just pulled in from the obese crack whore side of the trailer park, but if I were going to be judgy and make a comparison, I might go with that one. I decided to bite my tongue and mind my own business, because I didn’t want to be that crazy white girl on a World Star video fighting in the food stamp office like the piece of white trash everyone would assume I was. Plus, I’m a pacifist. I prefer a mental battle over a physical one any day. So instead of saying, “Bitch, we are all here, because we’ve fallen on hard times, how about not looking at people from 45’s perspective and maybe look at them like human beings who are just trying to make sure their kids have food just like you,” I just turned back around and waited for my turn to turn in my paperwork.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of going to the DHS office to apply for health benefits or other benefits, it’s not swift process. So, just as I was starting to calm down and go to my happy place, this woman, and I use that term loosely, starts talking about the lady two or three people behind her who has a two or three year old little boy with her who is full of energy and not so happy. All of a sudden, it’s, “that wouldn’t be me. I’d beat his ass. I be damned my kid act like that.” Of course she’s loud as all get out, because that’s how ghetto people are. They want to make sure they are the center of attention and they want the confrontation like a child misbehaving at school. I hear the mom telling the lady in front of her that this is the third appointment they had been to that day and he hadn’t had a nap so of course he is fidgety and cranky. The more this loud mouthed ghetto woman talked, the more I thought to myself, “what’s the opposite of a pacifist? Maybe one little fight in the middle of a food stamp office wouldn’t completely ruin me. I could go back to being a pacifist after this, right? Like eating a piece of chicken and then going back to being a vegetarian. I can make the rules up as I go along. I do it for everything else.” But, instead, I was on my best behavior and I didn’t say a word, but all I really wanted to do was ask her what church she attended because I just kept seeing her on the front pew at church every Wednesday and Sunday, like a lot of these good church folk do round these parts. Love your neighbor (just don’t get caught). Don’t drink (in public). Be kind to others (that look and love like you do).
Moral of the story, I have to be successful at this so I don’t ever have to go back there again, because next time, I will probably need bail money.
I saw an event scroll through my news feed on Facebook the other day. It was an evening with Anne Lamott. I looked at it with interest. I checked the box, because I was definitely going to try to go, and then I went on about my day. A couple of days later, my aunt, who is currently being referred to as “Favorite Aunt,” sent me the event in a Facebook message and I told her how I LOVE Anne Lamott. She asked me if I would go with her if she bought me the ticket. Would I? Fuck yea, I would!! So a few minutes later, she messaged me and told me she just bought the tickets and not only do we get to spend the evening with her, we also get her newest book. I was so excited, I didn’t know whether to squeal like my sister at the New Kids on the Block concert or cry tears of joy. So, I did neither. I just jumped up and down like I just won on the family feud and went back to my real life.
Now, I’m obsessed. I’m counting down. I’m nervous. I just want to hug her and maybe lick her face if it’s not too awkward. She’s like one of my writing idols. Actually, flip a coin between her and Stephen King. Actually, it would probably be her, because Stephen King broke my heart that time he said he was retiring and wouldn’t write another book and I had a funeral service for all the stories that would never be told and I cried and I mourned for weeks, maybe even months, and then one day, out of the blue, he came back from the dead with a new book. And I was like, “What the Fuck, Steve?!” I don’t know if he ever goes by Steve, I would guess he doesn’t, but isn’t that the point when you’re pissed off? Call someone by a name they hate, like champ, or Einstein, in the most sarcastic and unloving way possible? So Steve it was and I was pissed. I mean, I was happy that there would be more books to read, but now, I will be doubly traumatized when he actually does quit writing. I mean this in the nicest way possible, I hope he dies before he quits writing. You know, then I can actually mourn him and there will be no more surprises. I’m not saying I hope he dies any time soon. I don’t. I hope he lives to be a hundred. I just hope he’s still writing at a hundred, all hunched over and creepy looking on his big creepy front porch in Maine with his old coffee stained cup sitting next to him in his squeaky rocking chair with his outdated laptop sitting in front of him. In my mind, he will die as soon as he puts the last period on “The End” of his final novel. That’s how you go out if you’re Stephen King. Not with a big dramatic, “Hey, everyone I’m retiring, never to publish another novel again.” and then BAM! “Just kidding, ya’ll, here’s ten more for you to read.” Fuck you, Steve!! I’m not bitter, though.
Sorry, so I got a little off track. Back to Anne.
I fell in love with her when I read her book Bird by Bird when I was in college. After reading that book, I took it with me everywhere. If it wasn’t in my bed, or in my purse, it was on the dashboard of my car. I carried that book around with me so much, the cover was discolored and the pages were swelled. If that book was a pair of jeans, they would have been way past the point of well loved, more like holes in the knees (and the thighs) and a back pocket ripped off. I love that book. It changed my life. She is the reason that I write whatever the fuck I want. My favorite quote from her (and I’ve re-quoted her often) is: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” It is this quote that I think about every time I second guess what I’m about to write. I also think of this every time I write something brutally honest about myself. I know when I’m behaving and misbehaving. I’m sure that I am somebody’s not so nice story, but if I wasn’t worried about it then, I can’t be worried about it now.
So, yes, I am super duper excited to spend an evening with Anne Lamott. I’m even more excited at the thought that I may get to meet her and possibly hug her and steal some of her creative energy. FYI, that’s not the only book she wrote. She’s got a bunch of them. Mostly non-fiction. She’s just honest, and real, and raw. I know, I’m fan-girling like I did when I thought I was going to meet KyMani Marley (and I did!). So I’m pretty sure this dream will come true too, and maybe one day, I’ll get to meet Stephen King and apologize for calling him Steve. And he can apologize for breaking my heart. So to my currently favorite aunt, if you are reading this, thank you for making me feel like a kid again!
I’ve noticed, especially in the winter months, even if it is cold out, I feel so much better when the sun is shining. I love driving in my car, even in the freezing cold, with my sunglasses on and my sunroof open (with the heat on my feet, of course). I was doing that today, and out of nowhere, I discovered the solution to my Seasonal Depression. Forget those fancy light bulbs. I just need a house with a sunroof.
Yep, you read that right. I’ve been mulling it over and I think I just need a house with a roof that opens up like a bridge opens up for boats to pass or maybe they would just slide off still facing the sun, because, of course, the new roof would be made solely of solar panels, because I’m so fucking green, but I think it’s a great idea. I don’t need you to agree, I’ve already broken my arm patting myself on the back. I even googled it. I didn’t find any. I found lots with skylights, but nothing with a fancy roof that just slides off and slides back on. Of course I’m going to have to get with an engineer to see if I can make this happen. I think I know one or two. If you’re reading this and you are one, go ahead and send me the feedback on this. And then, I’ll actually have to buy this house, because I’m pretty sure, friend or no friend, my landlord may frown upon me ripping the whole top of the house off to try out my new experiment. I’m sure there are some factors that I haven’t considered yet. I should probably patent this idea before someone else does and makes a bazillion dollars on it, but in the general nature of how I do most things, I’ll probably just give this idea away like the last dollar to a homeless person. I don’t really need to be a millionaire after all, I just need enough money to give my house a sunroof.
Basically, if I could just have this, I think my life (or at least my life at this point) would definitely be complete. I feel like you and I are in a huddle right now and we should put our heads and fists together and chant something super encouraging and then meet at my house with beer and sledgehammers. Any takers?