Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's Getting Hot in Here

I've never had a guest blogger on the site.  Mostly that's because I don't like people very much- a lot of them are stupid and the rest of them generally suck.

One of the few exceptions  to my "People are stupid and/or suck" rule sent me this today:

Perhaps you could write a post about how it is NOT badass to show your bad ass - cheeks AND crack - just because the weather seems to suggest short shorts. Furthermore, if you are David Beckham, feel free to take off your shirt and walk around downtown. Otherwise, KEEP IT ON! 

See, it's gotten unseasonably warm, unreasonably early and that has brought our lumpy, pasty  New England bodies out of the fleece-and-wool cocoon in which we usually encase ourselves until at least May or June.  This is the time of year where most of us go "Oh hell.  I'd better start going to the gym or cutting back on the damn Girl Scout cookies 'cause I'm going to have to put on shorts in 6 weeks."  

Except we didn't get the 6 weeks we were hoping for and that we so desperately needed.

So, some of us have chosen to squeeze our March bodies (flabby, pasty, not-ready-to-see-the-sun) into our June clothing.  As a result, some of us need to rethink our June clothing choices, 'cause this look:

only works if you're young/hot enough to actually be in a music video. And it only works DURING the video.  Not down at the Piggly-Wiggly.  Not at the drugstore.  Not (for the love of god) in the pick-up line at school.  

Look, I'm not one to get too tied up in the body-image thing.  I think PhotoShop should be freaking outlawed and I've worked long and hard to love my body just the way it is.  But part of that lovin' is about knowing what I really look like and how to show it off to its best advantage.  So unless your highest aspiration is to end up on People of Wal-Mart?  Put some damn clothes on.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Putting the Words to Bed

Recently someone (okay, my shrink if you have to know) asked me "What I do" when I write.

I sort of thought the verb was, you know, self-explanatory but...she just sat there and waited.  And waited.  Seriously- I think this chick would sit in silence for the whole 50 minutes if I let her.  So I felt like I had to answer.

"I...um...I write.  You know.  I sit at my desk and I throw words on the screen until something sticks."

And she just sat there.  Like she was waiting for more.

Remind me again why I pay for this?

I tried to default to the old "I open up a vein," but she wasn't having it.  Still sat there, like my dog waiting to see if I'm really going to finish that cookie.  So...

Okay.  Here's what happens.  For whatever reason- the blog needs updating, I get a request for a piece, I have an idea that just wot stop nagging- I make the choice to Write.  (This is different from writing, which includes everything from letters to the editor to grocery lists- small, mundane things that take nothing from me) Naively, I start with a sentence or a word and before I know it, there they are- a gaggle of them-  and I have to sort them, one from the other, to see which ones are this piece and which ones are some other piece for some other day.  It's like trying to put toddlers to bed- all the voices and the words and the phrases all clamoring for a spot right next to me.  So I herd them.  One onto this page, another onto a different page, moving them around from place to place on the page, figuring out who can sit with whom and who just won't play nicely no matter how hard I try and who will have to go back into the crib if I really want them to stay put.

There's no place for some of them, which is sad because they really, really want in but...they're not ready yet.  Or maybe they are, but I'm not ready to write the story that they're a part of.  So I nudge them back, tuck them back in, and I go back to sorting the ones that belong here.

I guess it's mostly like trying to run a really, really crazy orphanage.  Or maybe it's like bedtime at the Duggars.  I don't know, but it's exhausting.

So I can't do it every day.  I'm not one of those disciplined 'write for an hour every day no matter what' writers because it's too damn hard.  I wouldn't be functional.  I can't manage all those loud, needy word orphans and also manage my loud, needy family.  It's not about commitment  or discipline or passion.  It's about getting just a little too close to the edge of the dock and finding myself plunging into deep water, floundering to find my way back to the surface before I drown.  I'm over my head but the only way out is through so...I...keep going.  I wrestle and I bitch and I look like I've gone 20 rounds with Buffy and I ask myself why in the hell I ever thought this writing thing was a good idea.  I'm miserable and mean and distracted.  I let dishes and e-mail pile up.  The dog moans from her spot by the door, begging to go out, but she's out of luck.  I'm up to my neck in unruly literary children and I cannot stop until everyone is bedded down or they'll overrun my mind, turning over the furniture in my brain until the mess is too big to clean up and I'm forced to move us all to Australia or Nova Scotia before DCFS comes to take them away.

Then, suddenly, it's done. It's "like silk off a spool," all smooth and pretty and it says just what I want it to say.  The right words in the right spots, creating just the right...everything.  I take a deep breath. They're calm and in their beds and sleeping and I look in on them, angelic in the glow of the post-copy-editing nightlight, and I love them.  I want more of them.  I forget the flailing and the herding and I just want to do it again.

 So, badass or not...that's what I do when I write.  I put all the hyperactive, badly behaved, out of control words to bed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dear Insane Clown Posse Lady

Dear Insane Clown Posse lady:
You took over the lobby of the soccer club meeting last week with your rant on how the kids we see hanging around in parks are all devotees of the Insane Clown Possee and how they’re all going to kill us in our beds. I’d like you to know that 1)  I’m pretty sure that everyone in the room under the age of 7 (and boy were there a lot of them) didn’t need to hear your rant, and B) Your call to action isn’t really going to go anyway and 3) Yeah...you’re crazy.

I’ve sort of suspected this for awhile- it’s a small town and I recognize that I’m going to run into you a lot.  That’s okay.  I like to think of you in capital letters- the way I think of Dude Who Wears a Dress Downtown and Isn’t Fooling Anyone or That Mom with the Wig or Scary Nature Lady.  For a long time I’d dubbed you In Charge of Everything Mom- but now I’ve renamed you- Insane Clown Possee Lady. 

So today when I ran into you again in the lobby at the Music Hut (waiting for our kids to come out of choir), I sort of wondered where you’d go with it.  Would you continue on the ICP rant or would you pick up a different thread?  Would it be antibiotics in the milk?  Slutty Halloweed Costumes -you touched on that one briefly last week so maybe you were testing the waters?  Trying out new material ? 
Nope.  You really topped yourself this time.   And you did it in front of my 10 year old.  So let me take just a moment to thank you for teaching my kid about the following words and ideas:

1.     Adultery:  Calling the mother of one of his friends “a slut” by name, as in  “Max’s mom is such slut, which is the only reason she still has that job”- nice touch by the way.  Now not only do I have to define the word for him, but I also have to unpack the idea that successful women are assumed to have slept their way to their success (“But mama, you’re successful, right?  That’s what dad always tells people.  So who did you sleep with?  And why does sleeping with someone matter?”)  and that “sleeping with” is a euphamism for sex (“Do you have to sleep?  I don’t remember that part, Mama.  Where did the sleeping come in again?”)  Add also the words “Whore” and “Manwhore.”
2.     “Pot head” “Doobie” “Druggie” and “Wasted”:  Yes, I know you were trying to share your anger and frustration over what you perceive as a lack of consequences for a public official who made a bad choice.  We, on the other hand, used that whole story as a way to teach about compassion and second chances and about how people are more than their last bad choice.  Now I get to teach all about hypocrisy and bigotry and narrow mindedness.  By the way- that official?  Kind of a hero for my kid.  A big hero.  A person we sort of love and respect.  So yeah...thanks for that.
3.     White Trash:  Talking about one school in town as the “White Trash” school, even when your kid is one of the students there, is not really useful.  Yes, the schools have different populations but your need to define them by the lowest common denominators of race, class and affluence sort of sucks ass.  Actually, not sort of.  It sucks ass. My kid was sort of clueless about his school’s identity as “The Rich School” which it isn’t- we give away coats and meals and subsidize field trips for about half the students through the PTA. 

So...thanks for all of that.  I’ll get a week’s worth of bedtime conversations out of your 20 minute rant (thank God I took him to get his hair cut first.  I hate to think about what would have happened if we’d been there the whole time).  I’m still trying to explain why those clowns are crazy and why they felt the need to form a possee.  And why they’d want to kill us in our beds in the first place.  

So not badass.