Sunday, August 28, 2016

Echoes of wedding bells

About a thousand and a half eons ago, I got married.
There were witnesses and officially signed paperwork. Vows and rings were exchanged. There was even a (surprise) bouquet of roses gifted to me by the groom.

Aside from a technical ceremony in a government office, there wasn't what most people consider a wedding. My dress was a sundress purchased at the last minute at a closeout store in bright spring colors. The groom wore his best button up long sleeve plaid shirt. Our rings were some kind of silver that my skin had a reaction to within days of wearing. There was no reception aside from 2 of my friends grabbing lunch with us at our favorite mom & pop tex-mex place. My husband's best friend at the time didn't even bother to take off work from the bowling alley to show up. And our wedding night dinner? Fast food drive thru on the way to a hotel we maxed out our credit cards to stay in for a few nights. We were so freaking young and naive. It blows my mind now.

We didn't have two dimes to rub together. None of our families approved. And contrary to the catty rumor mill, I was not knocked up. Even if my folks had been pleased, they certainly couldn't afford to spring for the wedding of my dreams. Or even a barefoot backyard one. We (my hubby and I) were, in fact, a gnat's ass hair away from being homeless upon our return from the mini-honeymoon. By the grace of no less than 2 deceased grandparents and a slew of guardian angels pushed to their limits, we managed to pool enough resources to split an apartment with a friend and sleep on a mattress on the floor in the apt that night. The ink on our lease probably wasn't even dry. Eventually and begrudgingly, each side of parents contributed the odd bed frame, love seat and cooking implements. Years later when I happily purchased a matched set of silverware (without plastic handles), an in-law of mine pointed out that if I'd had a real wedding and registered at a store I could have had something that nice sooner.

With love and support like that, how surprised are we really that I eloped?

Here's where we get back to this horrific, first world problem. I dreamed of a poofy dress, the perfect cake, all of it, most of my life. Not because I needed a man. Not to fulfill some expectation of female excess. No, because I wanted the big party and the big dress with the right guy. I wanted a celebration - good food, good music, a good time. I didn't expect my parents to get a second and third mortgage - I'd been in and gone to weddings that were paid for that way. All divorced now, FYI.

After the thrill of being married!! settled into domestic life, I resolved that someday we'd renew our vows. In a pretty, fluffy dress. You know, for me. Hubby's got a nice suit or two that work just fine. Anniversaries 5 & 10, solid numbers for renewals in my mind, came and went. Life happened. There were no babies to pass on a beautiful wedding dress to. Our social circle narrowed. I eyed a little 20-seater chapel that was part of a larger church. Did I mention I've never gone cake tasting? No top tier ever sat in my freezer for the next anniversary.

My husband, as I honestly would expect, is ambivalent about the whole idea. He's not the guy who tears up with joy. If I were to make this happen, it's up to me.

I don't even think the majority of my siblings would attend. That alone cuts out almost half the guest list. And I was in all their weddings. I even helped prep, cook and clean up for one of them.

My parents aren't getting any younger. It is a very real possibility my mom wouldn't even be able to attend something like that given her current rate of decline.

But I realize it's still on my bucket list. I still want the dress. And the cake. And all 8 guests to hang out afterwards. I still want that one glorious party. To tip the hat to 2 young kids fresh out of college who didn't know what the hell they were getting into. And amazingly enough still have a lot of fun (and eye rolling) together.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Impostor Syndrome - Artist level

One of the wonders of the internet, if you're the kind of person who dodges comment section vitriol, 'guaranteed' home remedies, click bait and the like, is stumbling across pockets of information or like-minded squirrelly folks who enlighten you about things you'd otherwise dare not speak. Or, you know, just not have a name for.
For instance, a month or two ago I came across someone who introduced me to the term "ghosting". It's where people suddenly drop any and all contact with you, avoiding you even, with no warning or explanation. I'm familiar with this situation from a number of experiences, mostly though when I stop enabling users to suck all the goodie out of me so they drop me like a bad habit in search of their next lackey. In reality, when I'm not in a catty mood about it, it's when someone I thought I was close to suddenly can't handle a mature, mutually respectful relationship so they push me away. And then usually lament, on social media, of some mysterious loss in their life they don't understand. I've hit the point in my life I don't chase them down and help figure things out. If I don't have to help bathe, clothe or feed ya, I don't need to respond to your drama.
On a more personally applicable level, an ah-ha moment came for me when I read about impostor syndrome (or phenomenon). Essentially, a person believes that she or he is less capable, intelligent, successful than the rest of the world perceives them.

Holy shitballs, you mean other people feel that way, too?!

Curious to see where you score on a questionnaire designed by one of the psychologists who coined the phrase?  Impostor Phenomenon Questionnaire  I came across this while doing a bit of research for this post, so it didn't factor in how I viewed this IP (impostor phenomenon) relating to me. I'm only slightly amazed that I aced the hell out of this test! Like broke the curve on that bad boy.
Let's move forward a bit from the realization that there is in fact a name for this soul crushing paranoia. That it's a little more than just a lack of self esteem or insecurities. And let's move on to the double jeopardy round.

So one of the coolest things to come out of the last few years is leaving my comfort zone, going out into the world and making some new friends. Friends who actually share my interests and expand my horizons. Creative types.
What does that have to do with IP you may be wondering? Because they are crazy, amazing talented. Drop a house on me and knock my shoes off potential. In short, they are annoyingly fantastic in their chosen areas of the written word.

Their book suggestions? Leaps and bounds ahead of the pure entertainment tomes I reach for most often. My TBR pile has grown exponentially to impossible proportions since meeting them. And music? Pardon me while I hide my pop predilections, my reverie for hard rock, my... well, you get the picture. Don't even get me started on the quality, content and volume of movies between us.

I take a little crap, completely good natured, for the way I brush off even the mildest complement about my writing from them. Because I cannot believe pity or scorn is not wrapped firmly around the kindness. Don't they know?! Don't they know that I'm still a 13 year old nerd with buck teeth and glasses, hiding in the downstairs spare room writing fan fiction?! Before that was cool, before there were forums and sites and people who parlayed it into a million-dollar writing career. When are they going to finally rip off the veil and reveal my impostor-dom?

Aside from shedding an uncomfortable light on this particular shade of personal anxiety, it's my intent and hope that this topic helps someone else. I'm really big about wanting people to know they aren't alone. When someone shares something, I try to converse with them in such a way that it shows they aren't alone in going through it. NOT to take away their feelings or invalidate their experience, but so that it doesn't foster that sense of isolation. "Hey, me too!" has a ridiculous amount of healing power.

And hopefully it deflects from them noticing I'm an impostor.

On another note, last month marked the 1 year anniversary of this blog. Quality of content and rambling aside, I'm impressed I've kept it going for a whole year.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Annual Rite of Passage

In the not too distant future, I will officially turn another year older.

And historically, this is how I feel about my birthday:
It's not about the uptick in my age, although that number's starting to make me twitch just a little.

While I secretly wouldn't mind some kind of fuss, I am deeply embarrassed by the attention and feel undeserving. When someone is kind to me, I vacillate between wanting to gush like a goober and averting my eyes and turning seven shades of please-let-the-floor-eat-me red. There's a few other issues when it comes to my birthday, like my mom people who have a compulsive need to make it about them.

And that boys and girls, aside from truly being a first world problem, is a personal thing I've got to get a handle on.

So much in the same way I'm trying to figure out who I am (and to borrow from and paraphrase my favorite cousin) how to get my head screwed back on again, I'm working on making this birthday thing comfortable for me. Whatever that means. No gifts? No cake? No candles? No special dinner everyone but me complains about?

I don't know.

And I'm not worried about it one bit. For a refreshing change. I'll figure it out as I go.
*party may mean read a book and eat a bagel w/cream cheese.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Writing Advice

There seems to be no end to the helpful tips for writers. "Cut these 6 words to be a better writer." "The secret to finishing 3 bestsellers a year." "Only assholes don't know these super editing tips." "Words only people who drool would dare type."

I mean, does this get on anyone else's nerves? Am I the only one whose eyes roll when they see what I consider writing clickbait at best and high horse bullshit on the whole?

I just want to get the damn story out. I just want to purge myself of the characters like I'm on a cleanse. I want borderline coherence, something I can work with hopefully once the basics are covered. That's really where I'm at as a general rule. Exasperated with this idea of trying to spit shine a drippy lump of clay. Let's pour extra anxiety alllll over expressing yourself by nitpicking from the word go.
Do any of these tips to get in touch with your inner Pulitzer winner do a damn thing other than generate web traffic or $$ if you buy what they're selling?

This mini-rant was brought to you by a 3 minute escapade on Pinterest. While waiting for tonight's vegetable du jour to finish cooking, I took a quick peek at everyone's favorite save-all-the-ideas site to see if anything interesting grabbed my attention and needed to be pinned. A recipe I'd never make or a craft that costs $45 and involves 15 toilet paper rolls and gold leaf. Or, what takes up most of my boards there, anything and everything to do with writing: character fashion, setting inspirations, blog prompts (clearly putting those to no use whatsoever), research, etc. I came across a cute writing meme and before you know it, the interweb algorithms whirred to life and below three recipes for cupcakes and chicken fajitas, were endless improve your writing tidbits.

I made the mistake of finding a few humorous and pinning them, then WHAM! the algorithms kicked in again and offered me every variation of how to write the novel of my dreams.

Ultimately (aside from mini-rants) I file this stuff away in the same way I file away a majority of self-help stuff like "How to lose 5 lbs" "What color to wear after Labor Day" and even "How to properly scrub the grout under your kitchen sink":
Do whatever the heck works for you. Stop stressing about how anybody else thinks you should do something.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Scream, cry or laugh

In the annuals of history, hell in my own personal history, this afternoon and evening doesn't even register as a spike.

But this is how I feel:
I am the peace keeper in my house. And I am the one who more often than not makes allowances for everyone else's quirks and listens to just how weird anything and everything I do, think, whatever is.

Today I hit tilt.

I've had a difficult time learning how to maintain healthy boundaries. I've had a hard time learning how to speak up for myself. I bite my tongue so often I'm surprised the whole thing isn't one giant calloused piece of scar tissue.

Because I don't want to be a jerk. I don't want to hurt people's feelings. I don't want to be an inconvenience. I don't want to be a nag.

How's that working for me?
Yeah, not well.

No one particular thing that contributed to setting me off will matter in six months, a year, 10 years. But my temper is not one easily put to rest once the tie downs snap and it roars to life. Not that I become violent (I'm afraid of hurting someone's feelings. I've never so much as slapped anybody.) and not that I scream obscenities until the huddled masses are quivering in cooling puddles of their own urine.

I seethe. I want to crawl out of my skin and shriek like a cacophony of harpies. I expect my brain to leak and steam to come out of my ears. I'm always surprised I haven't spontaneously combusted.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Playing catch up

So we meet again. Along with the dreaded blank screen.

I cannot count the number of blog posts I mentally composed in the last few days. And forgot.
August arrived hard and fast, an unyielding month of heat, humidity and family events. The first third of the month a blur of my mom's birthday and visiting niblings. So much drama. So much martyrdom - and that was just my mom talking to my siblings on her birthday!

I've accomplished absolutely nothing short of paying the first wave of this month's bills, entertaining children & teaching them to play Pokemon Go, and trying to help Mom navigate her birthday excitement and then the post birthday let-down as the world goes back to not revolving around her. Even if it kind of always does. (This is me dealing with my post-Mom's-birthday resentment at wanting more than we could possibly deliver.)

So I let go of the annoyance of blog posts (really nifty & inspired) long forgotten. Or I try to, anyway. I take a little solace in the fact that I did finish reading 1 book in two or three days - the latest Harry Potter script. While not necessarily winning the hearts of many diehard Potter fanatics, I felt like it was a fairly honest followup to what happens to a a character's life and family in the aftermath of such an amazing and scarred childhood. I know a lot of people haven't cared for it, and it wasn't something I'd likely re-read BUT I got it. I could see how all parties got to where they did.
In the spirit of cleaning out my brain of stray thoughts, despite my earlier post about not joining in with Camp NaNo this July, I ended up registering for it anyway. I wanted to give it a fair shake by joining a cabin of other writers who I didn't know in real life to see if there was anything I had missed out on my first time out with it last year.

There was not.

At least not with my group of last minute Nano'ers. It's a cute idea, but with no clear leader or unified goal, it just doesn't drive me in the same way November's writing event does. And that's okay. If it works for other people then that's great. Freeform is what I do regularly anyway, so I respond better to the writing kick in the pants that involves peer pressure.
I don't want to do things

To the End

When I began this blog 5 years ago, it ended up being a catch-all for whatever slogged through my brain, mostly writing and the difficu...