Posted in Blogging, Creative Writing, Inspiration, Non-Fiction, Short Stories, Uncategorized, Writers, Writing, tagged Essays, Girls, Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl on February 13, 2016 | 4 Comments »
Lately, anyone who can get me to finish what I’ve started has my full attention.
It might also be obvious—at least I hope it is—that I get joy from writing. Despite the fact that tucked inside that joy is a tag. Much like the grating kind that is often stitched into the neck of a shirt.
Okay. Side note – Why do they do that? I can’t be the only one who thinks it an unnecessary form of torture. No matter how painstaking my snips, I have inadvertently cut holes in 80% of my wardrobe while trying to remove every last pokey bit.
Unnecessary, perhaps. But clearly effective in capturing my attention.
And writing is that for me too. I never forget it’s there. It scratches at my skin. Claws at my neck. Breathes, I’m here and you will not be rid of me that easily. Writing is up in my face as boldly and relentlessly as that damn razor-threaded spikey tag. It won’t let me clean. Or organize. Or putter contently the way I used to.
It sticks to me while I attempt to be as satisfied as I once was, arranging a closet or making the beds. “You’re not thriving,” it hisses behind me. “None of this stuff will last.” Its tone is chiding, as it references my efforts to keep the house clean. The words, you are not making a difference, branding my neck red and raw. Leaving holes in what once was the solid fabric of my life.
So yes, writing itself is a distraction for me. It even makes reading tough. I start a book and can only think, you should be trying to write. Look at this author. They did it. Why can’t you?
I have a lot of ¼ (not even ½) read books on my shelves because of this. And I know this is wrong. It is the opposite of what an aspiring writer should do. If you want to be kickass, one of the most important things you should be doing, besides writing, is reading. Lots.
Thankfully being unable to finish them for the last year or so hasn’t squelched my enthusiasm for buying books.
A short while ago, I picked up Not That Kind of Girl. Purchased in a University bookstore, no less. Which now makes me feel kinda kindred with the author. Like, I “got” her before I even read the book.
And yes. I did read it. Cover to cover.
It’s a compilation of essays. Journal entries. Perfected blog posts. Micro stories. (She may cringe at those last three depictions) And in them, Lena Dunham chronicles the notable times and moments in her life to date.
Entertaining. Painful. Hilarious. Tragic. Raw. Moments.
She masterfully pegs subjects to the line most of us tend to keep buried at the bottom of the pile. With a hilarity that can only be understood as, broken but mending.
Things like, an aggressive sexual encounter in university. One she tried to laugh off initially, but later, had to admit was pretty much a rape. You don’t usually, after all, cry regularly over an encounter that is not.
She talks about drugs. Prescription. Illegal. And her use of both. Her family. Growing up. Relationships. Interactions. STD’s. Sexuality. And sexual orientation.
Disorders. Eating. Mental. Personality. And physical. Her weight. Her fame. And her low self-esteem. Despite the fact that she has achieved massive success making use of all of these.
I know there are a lot of people who will wonder why anyone would ever need or want to share such delicate thoughts. To tell the world they are imperfect. That their life to date has been far from the Shangri-La it may have seemed. “Air dirty laundry,” so to speak.
But, even though I sprout from a tight-lipped culture, I do not find myself wondering.
Not one of us will get out of here alive, so why be a façade? What’s the point? Like Lena, I believe there’s a bigger picture to be disclosed. We’re not here to impress. To come across like we’re living “the dream” day after day.
Positivity is a gift for sure. To ourselves. And to our circle. But so is sharing what’s real.
When a life ends, we scramble for answers. We tend to ask, what was it all for? And if the only answer we come up with is, to create the illusion that life was seamless, well, that’s a sad injustice to those that struggled, isn’t it?
They were more than that. No matter what it was, good or bad, they had something to teach.
Lena Dunham is the itchy tag of her generation. She refuses to be cut out and forgotten. She leaves a hole. Retaliates the smokescreen.
That’s why she wrote this book.
So we don’t feel alone. So we know someone else out there feels like we do. So we can see that there’s “crazy” in us all. And that it’s okay.
And, that it’s also not all that crazy.
That we’ll be alright. Somehow. That mistakes are standard. That it’s fine to make them. To be where we are.
And to stay there until we’re ready to move on.
That’s why we’re living. That’s why we connect. That’s why we ask what it was all for.
Lena Dunham is letting us in. She’s just not waiting until she’s gone.
I appreciate that.
I’m just in from a coffee shop. Alright. Yes, it was Starbucks. And, surprise, surprise. There were 4 people in there with MacBook Airs. And they looked pretty much how I would’ve looked, had I also brought mine.
They were scarfed and sweatered. Fenced in by open books, cords, pens, mugs and, of course, phones.
At first, I was envious. Thinking how I long for days of doing nothing but writing. It’s a glorious feeling, you know. To be sure of your purpose. And for it to be something you enjoy. Something you find fulfilling. Albeit scorching and torturous at times.
And while I waited for my order, I, for the zillionth time, imagined a world where writing is my only focus. A world, that in reality, will never be. And, that’s okay. In my heart of hearts, I really wouldn’t want that, would I. I mean, where would my family be? Where’s my home in that scenario?
I don’t ever want to be without those things. Those distractions as they are sometimes referred to.
Anyway, what started as pre-beverage envy ended in post-coffee realization. Not one of those blessed little lambs was actually using their laptops. Every single one of them was on their phone.
Texting. Liking. Sharing.
Using valuable time. Precious, hard-to-come-by freedom. To generate useless statuses and insignificant tweets.
But, in truth, I really have no clue what they were doing on their phones. Never mind judging whether whatever they were doing was insignificant or useless. They may have been replying to agent’s proclamations, “CONGRATULATIONS, we sold your novel!” Or throwing out a few likes in support of fellow writers. Perhaps sharing triumphant news of a book deal.
Who knows? Like I said, not me. I just tend to make wild assumptions when I’m coffee-deficient.
So, I admit to suffering from misplaced projection. Putting myself in their chairs. Surrounding my own being with beloved writing gear. Staring into productivity-stealing space. And spending too much time on a phone of my own.
But luckily, the coffee-sufficient me sees the advantage to having, what one might call, an overactive imagination. Next trip, the phone stays in my pocket.
What? You didn’t think I’d turn it off, did you!
I don’t know where I’ve been, so I guess I can hardly ask you to know either, right? But if you’ve been wondering at all, I thank you.
I wish I could tell you I’ve been writing a novel. Or busy becoming addicted to exercise. But that would be so not the truth. Though I have been busy. Doing other things. Parenting. Cleaning. Working. My make-up magic.
And yes, I have been writing.
A different type though.
I’ve been writing articles. Copywriting. Which I am finding terribly interesting and incredibly educational.
Although they like the way I write. My style. My tone. It has to match the tone of the publication. So, I find myself changing the way I write. My style. My tone. For publication. It’s a new world to me. One that I’m enjoying. In a different way from blogging.
A very different way.
I realize my blog is a blurp. Meaning, I am allowed, here, to spill onto the page. In any flavor. Color. Texture I want. And I’m so, so thankful for that.
But, I am also extremely thankful for the structure, feedback and guidance of copywriting. It’s teaching me so much. And, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a sense of euphoria in being paid to write. In knowing someone is willing to pay for my writing.
Because they think it’s good enough. After 20 edits, but still…
So, if you’re concerned at all about me going MIA again, or ensuring that my state of euphoria goes uninterrupted, let me know. I can always set up a Hazy PayPal button.
No really. It would be no trouble at all.
And if you don’t want to pay off my mortgage? Well, I’ll still be here. Because I love this place. Paid off or not, it’s home.
I accidentally spent most of the other morning in tears. Not one, not two, but cheek-soaking, hair-matting amounts of tears. Tears chased by gulps of air between grabby sobs—-tears squeezed from the epicenter of my very sad heart.
I started out upbeat. Honest. House to myself—an almost impossibility nowadays—I lay in bed, my hands rubbing together greedily as my head flooded virtual To Do blanks with productive and satiating tasks.
Now, you may be surprised to learn that although I do treasure my time alone, I do not love the absolute silence that comes with it, so, for comfort, I often turn on the TV. But this particular morning, that was a mistake of epic proportion.
I need only say three words – Marley and Me.
Sure, I’ve seen it before. We took our kids to watch it back in 2008, so no big deal, right?
Life, perspective, time, age, loss, choices, experiences…all of these things can change the way we absorb and process things.
I didn’t choose. I didn’t flick. The TV came to life and there it was. Dropped instantly into a world with a family much like my own. Complete with mom, dad, (who happens to be a writer—score) two sons, a daughter and a dog they all dread, but mostly plain old adore.
And, after many years of loyal shenanigans, he, the dog, simply dies.
I lie. It wasn’t simple. Far from it. They, the family, had to decide to let him die. And, much like my family’s past ordeal, it was not so much optional, but a surrender of suffering, a kindness. No matter though. Once it’s in your hands, you always, always feel like you chose to end the life of a living being and it’s utterly breaking.
I could hide the remote. I could cancel my cable. I could ban all pets. I could avoid attachment. I could toughen up. Or, I could embrace what it is to be compassionate. And human.
It’s okay to be emotional. It’s alright to take time. It’s okay to let it linger. (Now don’t be singing. We all love the Cranberries, but this is a serious post) It’s alright to feel. It’s okay to love. And it’s acceptable not to move on any faster than the pace of a slow moving cloud.
You’re allowed to well up every time you see a Beagle…or a box of Black Magic at Christmastime…or a jogger…or a brisk walker sporting an Irish cap…for as long as you like. Forever even.
It means you’re not a dick.
I need a fake blog. One where I can post to my heart’s content without anyone knowing who wrote the posts. Why, you may wonder. Well, because post post seems to be the optimum time for me to see the errors of my ways with pure and utter clarity …the many, many errors.
It happens every time. I write for hours. I read and reread. I edit. I edit some more. I perfect. I post.
Last week I had to write another short story within 48 hours as part of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Writing Challenge. My assigned genre was Science Fiction, my location, a park fountain, my object, a paper airplane.
Now, Sci-fi is truly not my thing. I don’t read it and I certainly don’t write it and I admit that writing it in 48 short hours would have been challenging. However, writing it in 5 hours was downright ball-busting.
You’re sent your prompt at midnight on a Friday and you have until midnight on Sunday to submit a 1000-word (max) story that includes all of the elements you were given. As luck would have it, I had commitments pretty much all weekend. I do, after all, consider taking my 3 kids downtown for the entire day to eat, watch a movie and enjoy a live soccer game a priority.
So by the time we got home I was exhausted and convinced myself I’d get up at 5am to start writing Sunday morning. And I did. I got up at the crack of dawn, but when I got downstairs, I decided that getting the laundry corralled, sorted and spinning was yet another priority.
I could write in between cycles, right?
Well, there’s not as much time in between laundry cycles when you’re trying to get something done, as there is when you’re in a frazzled frenzy waiting on your favorite jeans to dry before you’re due to meet a friend.
And then there was the tidying so that the cleaning I needed to do later would be faster. There was an event scheduled to take place at my house the next morning, so Sunday required some home TLC and as we all know, less clutter equals quicker results.
I started writing at 12.
I finished writing at 5.
5 agonizing hours of trying to wrap my mind around the Sci-fi genre, of trying to hurry, of fretting over the impending cleaning, of wondering what dinner would be and who was going to make it, of not hearing what I was reading anymore, of trying to get it right. Of freaking out. Of torture.
Anyway, here’s a link to my story just how I submitted it.
He fills with words that will only reach the earth, he’s been warned, should they carry their weight in truth. The sweat of his pudgy finger crimps the creases he’s so carefully bent, and he pulls himself in tight, hurdling his most sincere spirit into what he must believe, is an accepting unknown…
It can be hard to remember how something began. Details fuzzy and timing, non-specific, but Elian and Luna are not spared in this way. The moment that first child disappeared is forever cut into their hearts. After all, watching someone fade is not easily forgotten. Laughing one minute and evaporating like a recalled raindrop the next, hangs heavy in the atmosphere.
At one time, this small town had been a home. Long before despair scraped its way to the core with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel, they’d slept on cozy beds inside colorful houses and shrilled as they’d swung high enough for their toes to touch the moon. They’d trailed fingertips in the park fountain and sacrificed their pennies for precious wishes.
But children continued to vanish. Panic rose. Terrified mothers fictionalized mass killings and undiscovered bodies. Fathers waited with shotguns at the ready for evil that would never show its face. Paranoia and mourning became their way of life.
Time passed and slowly, the township reached a decision to understand it rather than to fight. And as they deliberated ideas, they became shamefully aware that the departed were solely the ones conceived without love. The conceptions cultivated from seeds of greed, selfishness or pride, some spawned out of lust or envy. They determined that not one of the lost had blossomed from a pure moment of tenderness.
True to human nature, they were eager to replace what was gone, to fix what was broken. They attempted to conceive through despair, but their still loveless efforts refused to bear the fruits they once had and a relentless darkness swathed their barren souls.
Now, unearthly quiet fills the creeks and crevices as Elian and Luna make their way to the fountain. Swings sway loosely in the intermittent wind, their rusty chains straining against a tongue-tied backdrop. The two make their way through the littered streets, Luna’s fingers curving around Elian’s palm, long and loose like the limbs of a weeping willow.
The park is so much smaller than when they were young. The surrounding fence halts at their shins and they now loom over the jungle gym they couldn’t quite conquer at three feet tall. Roots from the massive Oaks have thrust up through the dusty earth and turned the timeworn slide upside down. A carousel is cocked on its side, a discarded toy on a vacant nursery floor.
But, today is unlike any other time they’ve ambled this path. The waterless fountain urges them on, the air surrounding it fused with static and a vibrating hum that pulls them to it much like the tow ropes used to haul them up to the highest mountaintops. With no words, they each hear what the other is thinking. With one glance, they feel what the other is feeling. With one touch, they each want what the other is wanting.
They are one.
Elian turns and presses his lips to Luna’s forehead. They stand this way for some time, paused in the moment between what was, what is and what could be. Most had given up, some had moved on, others, simply bided their time, withering to ash between their sheets, but Luna and Elian only got stronger, looked after one another, grew together.
Built a life.
They stand at the fountain’s edge with Luna’s coattails flapping in the wind and Elian’s dark curls shifting freely over his brow. He takes her hand in his once more and they wait together while the sky begins to change. Shapes and patterns kaleidoscope into brilliant hues of azure and indigo, folding into amethysts and tangerines. They believe it to be the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen.
And it is.
Until a small white tip—the nose of a well-intentioned craft—breaks though a slit in the colorful clouds and glides gracefully, softly, silently into their hearts.
This is the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen. Luna feels the stir. Elian reaches to touch the swell of colors that have drifted down from the sky to stretch across her belly.
“Welcome, little one. This is love.”