Last night, the only way I knew how to deal with my fear was to angrily write this piece. Still not sure where to go from here. This world. Yikes.
I will be writing about my family each day for the month of October.
I figure today’s post about my dad counts. I mean, patriarch, head of household, yadda yadda, right?
Don’t bother arguing with me, I’m not changing my mind. I’m stubborn like that.
First of all, I want to offer the most sincere of Thank Yous to everyone who read my piece in xoJane this week. And a friendly high five to the 390 (and counting) people who shared it somewhere out into the interwebs. And this non-touchy-feely writer would like to offer a warm and friendly side hug to all of the lovely folks who took the time to leave a comment on my story. (Maybe even a full-on hug for some of you sweet people)
Before my post went live, I had a momentary panic full of “WHAT HAVE I DONE?” after reading the comments sections of some other essays I’ve seen around the ‘net. It’s no secret that people can be impressively awful in those comboxes, and I was wishing I had some Xanax or whatever it is the panic-stricken take these days lying about.
But it was so great. Seriously. People were so supportive, complimentary, positive, affirming, etc. What a wonderful way to be.
But a couple of people wanted to know how I could see my dad as selfless. They weren’t mean about asking at all, but it was mentioned in a few spots, both in the comments section and on fb posts, so I wanted to issue a small postscript to my story in the hopes that people can find a way to trust my take, even if we are only connected through their readership.
So here you go:
When you have 1200 or so words to work with, there is only so much you can say. Only so much you can include. I alluded to my father’s difficult life before the tragic loss of my mother, but I couldn’t flesh it out. So there’s that. And I also couldn’t manage to fit all the times my dad was there for me. The time he called me at college because he had heard my boyfriend broke up with me and he just knew it had to be a misunderstanding because I was so wonderful. The time he schlepped us up to Sesame Place so I could run around all day long, the countless times he told me he loved me and how proud he was of me. You can’t fit all that stuff into 1200 words. There’s no word count high enough, really. I just want everyone to know that it’s alright if you don’t understand, I can appreciate that.
But I’m the one who needs to understand that my father was selfless. And I do.
Hi all. So here it is.
I think i might need a glass of wine. Yes, I know it’s 2:07.
I’m in a band. 20-something Jenn
I’m writing a book. – a few more years older than 20-something Jenn
When I was in my 20s, I had a lot more time for creative outlets. Sure, I had a full-time job, and a demanding one at that, but I had hardly any responsibility outside of myself. When I wasn’t wasting that precious time, (SERIOUSLY – what I wouldn’t do to have back half of it) I pursued my fantasy life of rock star.
My heavily-glitter eyelined little self loved the heck out of performing. I wasn’t the best, but I wasn’t the worst, either. But as the mundane details of life distracted me from the primary goal of world domination through music, I would often cling to the “I’m in a band!” defense. With “I’m in a band!” as a key element of my identity, I was able to convince myself that I was fulfilling my need to create.
But I wasn’t.
Sure, we wrote songs, and we recorded, and we performed, but I was more in love with the outfit shopping, the persona creating, the surface stuffs that are great fun but completely and totally secondary to what should be the focus of any creative endeavor.
This is not to say that it wasn’t a blast. I loved every minute. I strongly suggest anyone with the slightest amount of musical talent be in a band just the one time. Traveling with friends, writing songs, eating gas station fried chicken, hauling amps up rickety steps, having self-indulgent photo shoots, getting to play with fun gear in vibe-y studios, it was all the best of experiences. Even the time in a redneck bar that some yahoo kept screaming, “Show us your tits!” (First sign I was not cut out for the rock life: I responded, “Oh, no thank you!”) And totally something I will use against my kids when I am inevitably referred to as uncool.
“Shut your yap about my mom jeans, kid. I was in a band.”
Alas, I have hung up my platform shoes and my armbands because I am middle-aged. And not the Gwen Stefani/Shirley Manson/Annie Lennox kind. I’m the “I drive a minivan and that’s cool with me” kind.
But I still have a need for creating. And while making four people was impressive, and it was, I have more to offer. So I started a novel. As someone who has been writing all her life, whether it’s been in a journal, a letter, school assignments, or yes, song lyrics, I have something to say.
But I don’t want “I’m writing a book” to be the “I’m in band” of my grown up life. I don’t want to get caught up in the daydreams of writer life. Yes, it would be amazing to have author photos shot by Annie Liebovitz in Central Park, or a glowing review in the New York Times by Michiko Kakutani, and I would be lying if I haven’t procrastinated by dreaming of a film deal where Kate Winslet puts on her best American accent and takes on the meaty role of my lead character, (she would ROCK THAT, by the way!) but my one and only goal is to write. And write well.
I meandered around a bit before arriving here. But I have arrived. Which is good timing, because nobody wants to see my minivan mama self in leather pants.
I just finished writing a piece for xoJane. Which is super exciting for me, to have pitched them and gotten the “please tell me more!” email reply. It’s exhilarating. I spent the entire day just high on my own enthusiasm.
Until I started writing. And I thought, DAMN. This is some depressing shit.
I didn’t mean to be depressing. I really didn’t! Honest! But this seems to happen to me more often than not. I’m going for unique, fresh take, personal, and I end up with a piece that can only be described as, “That is seriously effed up.”
Sometimes, I’ll start to tell my husband something and realize about halfway through that what I thought was a quirky little anecdote is actually not normal or even in the same time zone as normal. I see it on his face. I get the “blink blink” look from him, and in that moment I know that I’ve yet again managed to take a sharp left turn from the relatively normal adult he has always known me to be and back to “before hubs” land, where some pretty crazy ish went down. Let’s just say I locked that down in the nick of time. (Love you, babe!)
And it’s not just the hubs. Although I have gotten better about recognizing the difference between Jenn normal and typical normal, I have been known to divulge some record-scratching tales in social situations.
So I am posting this as a warning. In a few days or so when I link up to my published piece, just know that I am okay. And that I am aware it is depressing as hell. And that I didn’t mean for it to be. But I’ll be damned if I don’t feel a bit like this:
I’m going to have to get okay with that.
Confession: Like most people I know, I haven’t the foggiest idea what I am doing. I particularly have no idea what I am doing when it comes to blogging, alas, I am told this is what writers do these days. Me? I’m over here longing for the olden days of longhand notebooks or typewriters or something. Not really, but maybe just word processors? Can I get a witness?
I’m just a little overwhelmed at the idea of “putting it all out there” on the interwebs, but I suppose I’ll give it a whirl. If you found me, you’re a wizard. Or you saw my piece on xoJane and want to see what kind of lunatic I turned out to be. Either way, you’re cool and we should hang.