When You’re a Jet, You’re a Jet All the Way

I scribbled this all down on a napkin once – with a permanent marker too!

I’ve been scribbling down these notes, or notes just like it, probably since I could scribble down notes. Sometimes I think I’m getting closer to what I want to be when I grow up, and other times, I realize I’m already there, or past there. Writer. Photographer. Mama. Did I think my photography would be on museum walls? Well, yes, I had hoped. Having it on family walls means more these days anyway. Did I think I’d be a published author? Well, yes, I had hoped. Having my name on three different co-authored books means more these days anyway. Did I think I would write for magazines and bring coffee to senior editors in NYC? Well, yes, I hadn’t really hoped, actually (at ALL). Writing my blog means more these days anyway.

I’m thin-skinned. I’m not used to heartbreak or rejection. I think more times than not I’m on fire. Moving, prowling, crawling, reaching for what I want and getting what I want. Not always. I’m either a diligent perfectionist or completely useless. There’s no in-between. There’s a difference, though, and it lies with when I’m doing what I should be doing vs. when I’m doing what I shouldn’t be doing. This week I broke all sorts of molds and records. Did I do well, though? Well.

That remains to be seen.

The contractors returned and we now have a hole in our house. I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s all progress. Even though I live in my basement office and I sometimes can’t remember the last meal I had, or full drink of water, and I’m scheduling back to back photo sessions (which is as big of a no-no to me as drinking two cups of coffee in one day), and I’m writing four blog posts a day, and I’m managing two inboxes, and other people’s content. Can you do ALL of that well, though? Well.

That remains to be seen.

Here are the notes I scribbled down once, on a napkin, and with permanent marker. It’s about writing:

When I was just about Scarlet’s age, I wanted to be a Garbage Man. True story. I’d tell it to anyone who listened! Then I gave up that dream and settled on movie star for a few years. Finally as a teenager, I had things much more figured out:

I wanted to be a Filmmaker/Marine Biologist/Pianist/Poet.

These were all floating dreams. If you nitpicked, you’d see why none of it would have worked:

1. I have no love for the art of film. I’m seriously horrible. I just like movies that have happy endings or make me gasp.

2. I failed Biology freshman year of college. I think Marine Biology might have something to do with Biology.

3. I think to be a Pianist, you need to take piano lessons. For more than two months. That’s just what I think.

4. I’ve only written a few poems in my life and I’m almost certain all of them were written under the influence.

And by “under the influence,” I mean NyQuil or Benadryl.

So when it was time for me to choose a college major, I treated it as the game I thought it was. I deferred my decision. While all of my friends had been focusing on Psychology or Business or Basket Weaving, for years, I finally declared my major the summer before senior year. Somehow I still graduated in four years. I was just that good. It was Journalism.

The magic answer. Six writing classes at once. Enough to make me nauseous. And it did.

After seven years blogging, I think it was the right answer. It wasn’t so random. I was a child who once stayed up nearly all night trying to write a letter to my fourth grade teacher because I had seen her with tears in her eyes one day. She tried to hide them and called them allergies and every other kid in my class believed her. I didn’t. It took me nearly all night to compose what I wanted to say and I said it. She appreciated it and called me at home. She called me “expressive.” I am.

I am someone who has felt like crap about myself FOR YEARS, because I couldn’t seem to figure out what to do with my life.

And maybe, somehow, I’ve been on the right rocky path for awhile. Always over the years, while I was spouting nonsense about being a movie star or poet, I was always writing. (And taking pictures but that’s a separate story) My instinct taught me how to express myself, and maybe even a bit about how to pace myself and find my voice. The schooling in Journalism taught me how to structure my writing, and to consolidate powerful thoughts into more concise stories and articles.

And then one day, seven years ago, I found blogging. And the rest is mere history. I find myself changing so much that I can cringe at the immaturity of a draft I started only a month ago. You have to do it in order to learn it. Then it grows.

I’d like this to not be the end of my story about finding my way back to writing through blogging. I’d like it to be the beginning. I don’t know where this will end up but I know I found my way here for a very strong reason. I’m a writer.

This is what I know. When you’re a writer..

..You spend nearly all night writing a blog post about writing.

..You treat greeting cards as challenges – to write something powerful in as few words as a piece of cardstock will allow.

..You don’t think feedback forms give enough room to say something that’s enough.

..When you go to the Pediatrician and have to fill out forms about your kids, you write so much that you have to turn it over and write on the back. If the back has other questions, you ask for extra paper to attach.

..You’ll find your way to write, no matter what you go through and how you get there.

..When you’re a writer, you always know why you write. It’s the same reason you breathe.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “Why I Write…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on any of the matters: HERE.

Why do YOU write?

What if I Got it Wrong?

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“What if I got it wrong
And no poem or song
Could put right what I got wrong
Or make you feel I belong
What if you should decide
That you don’t want me there by your side
That you don’t want me there in your life

— Coldplay “What If”

I don’t know if I’ve ever told anyone this story, but if I have, it was probably here in this blog. So I apologize for my suspected repetition. I tend to be repetitive because that’s the way my brain works. Everyone has their own “gift” that can also be a curse. For me, I have a photographic memory. That’s why I could never be read to as a kid. Now I’m definitely being repetitive because I know I’ve told you that story! It’s reason #2 of why I was such an early reader. Reason #1 is because reading was my escape from trauma. Back to reason #1, I need to see the words to make them come to life – I like the way they bleed and blend together through tears and imagination. I like the way they stick. No in one ear; out the other.

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And yet, I remember everything anybody has ever said to me – as long as it wasn’t from the pages of a book. If it’s about me, or if it’s about them, or a mishmash of both, that’s what I remember. It’s my gift and curse. Maybe I can remember everything I ever said to you, and maybe I’ve told you this story. I wrote a 20-part love story that you can find easily on the front page of this blog (to the right). You might read it, should you have the spare time to read 20 parts of a love story (and I feel like you do because I had the time to write it). Sometimes when I see long-winded, dead-ended political arguments on Facebook, that’s when I realize we all have too much spare time. Have we run out of Archie Comics to read, people? I have.

Who has the time to write such drivel?? Well, who has the time to read it?

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I do. And maybe you do too.

The short story is that I have had only one major heartbreak in my life, and I was fully in love with someone else when the heartbreaker came back into my life (via phone call) years later. I was torn. We get these paths in our lives, and these forks in our roads. Go one way and this happens. Go the other way and that happens. Although I imagine, to some degree, that no matter which way you go, you’ll achieve certain heights. That’s when you go crazy thinking about all the subtle things that make up a life. Marry someone else and you’d have different kids?! Or maybe your partner wouldn’t want any or you’d have fertility problems or you’d adopt 17 stepkids, and it’s all baffling to me. All we can do is make decisions in the present.

The past and future can drive you crazy.

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So in this story, in this dimension, I had a boyfriend I was madly in love with, but I went back to my ex. And it was good. Really good in the beginning, and rocky/treacherous sometimes in the middle, and now I think it has the capability to be better than it ever was. Even better than the magical beginning – before clogged bathtub drains and kindergarten paperwork. I made that choice. And the story I may have (not) told you is that I had the same thought every day for years.

I thought, what if it was all a dream and in my “real life”, I had chosen the other guy. And one day I’ll wake up, and I’ll be next to the other guy in a bedroom in New Jersey and I’ll be fumbling and clawing through the air – trying to grab that dream and capture every detail before it disappears in a poof – like so many dreams before it. I can’t breathe and Cassidy is so far away, 3000 miles away – cold and indifferent – and he never called me. Scarlet and Des and their smiles and their rainbows and their kindness are all an illusion. A forgetting dream. Gone in an instant in a sweat-covered waking nightmare.

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If I had taken another path, there would be another rich life unfolding and this would be a dream. I took this path, as I’ll take many paths in life, and all of the other stories are dreams – some within reach – and others always to be just missed.

The what-ifs can drive you crazy. Don’t let them. Think instead of the beauty of the path you’re on, and the choices you made to live and to love this way. This post is inspired by a “path” – the bike path in Northampton. Six years ago, Scarlet asked me to buy her a giant rubber ducky downtown, and insisted on carrying the thing all the way home herself. Uphill.

I’m linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday – #FTSF. This week’s topic is “The ‘what if’ I have the hardest time letting go of is..” And there’s time to link up with your spin on the subject: HERE.

What would you say?