The Execution

You know what writers used to do? They used to ride the rails to investigate hobos and no one cared. If I jumped a train now, surely I would get arrested and it’d be this big bureaucratic incident that would go on my permanent record and no one would appreciate that I was just trying to see if aimless vagabonds still rode the rails in search of new life and adventure. Or I would find a hobo and he’d be desperate for food, not adventure and he’d probably shank me thinking the fur on my coat was real and it’d be a whole bloody ordeal.

Or hopeful writers used to just brazenly walk into a newspaper to pitch a story and some editor appreciated their pluck and suddenly they had assignments.

Or maybe that’s just the romantic version in my brain, and maybe it was no easier then than it is now, but I feel like now, you have to sign a waiver in blood to the devil himself promising him your first born. And still all the magazines and publishers would cackle and sneer at you, throwing crumpled up McDonalds wrappers in your face and telling you not to quit your day job—and you’ll have given up your first born and half your blood supply for nothing.

Okay maybe I am getting carried away. And I hate to be cynical as I love my craft. I have loved writing for as far back as I can recall. It brings me the same kind of euphoric high that completing a run gives me, but without all the sweat. Although, truthfully I have been known to get rather excitable whilst in the throes of my writing and perhaps get a glossy glow.  Or pit stains… but uh, one of the kids I used to babysit for informed me not to mention my sweating problem in those terms as it was unladylike. So I will stick with glossy glow.

Anyhow. I was admittedly having a rough go of it at work yesterday. Meaning, I really, really loathed waitressing. People were hardly tipping, if at all. I have had an inordinate amount of stiffers lately (as in people flat out just paying their bill, sans tip, disregarding the fact that I basically make slave wages).  And I berated myself over and over that I wasn’t making a difference in the world at all. How was serving people pancakes and up-selling pies making one iota of a difference when I knew the difference I was supposed to make?

My panic levels crept up steadily and were exacerbated when I threw silverware into the soak bucket and all the gunky, putrid water splashed back and hit me directly in the face and mouth. I tried not to jump to my usual action plan when I am deeply disturbed by my life and that is running away and joining the circus. The Swiss circus was what I decided. I told this to one of my coworkers and he asked, why Swiss? I said it sounded nice. I bet the Swiss have a great Circus. Actually, they seem like the types who might frown upon all that lycra and animal cruelty.

I joked with my boyfriend that I was going to jump on the beer delivery guy’s dolly and have him whisk me out of there. He told me not to leave him for a beer guy. I pointed out I wasn’t leaving him for anyone, not even someone who was a chocolate maker with his own railroad, but that I needed to escape before I had a full blown panic attack.

I have this journal where I jot down highlights of my day or at least the notables. I felt very sullen and so I doodled a noose and joked in my journal how worth it it would be to swallow some poison. Then one of the cook/drywallers (don’t even ask) came up and asked if I wanted to see his paint job. This isn’t a euphemism for his penis; he is gay. And he really likes to show off the walls he has recently patched or painted and go over every detail with great pride. I am not exactly sure why, but I suspect it has something to do with loneliness and/or needing some sort of attention or validation.

So poison it is, I thought. Get some dishwashing detergent and swallow half the bottle before you have to go check out another freshly painted wall and get a tutorial on it.

I didn’t poison myself, obviously. I went and politely inspected the freshly painted basement room while my coworker pointed out how much better it looked, didn’t it? I nodded. It sure did. I knew this, because it was his old room and he had brought me down there before to show me his dog. Also not a euphemism. He really does like Show and Tell.

I went home and rationalized that it was no use to get worked up and expect instant gratification, as even if I did have my novel done, (which I don’t) it wouldn’t get published or sell or probably even make money by uhh… tomorrow which is what I wanted so that I could throw my apron on the counter and storm out, vowing never to scrape another sticky pancake plate and get silverware splash in my face again. Unless it is my husband or kids. I will scrape their pancake plates. That’s all right. And so I may as well keep plugging at it with baby steps and not freak the heck out and doodle nooses (or is that like gooses and it’s not a word?)

Except I was still on edge and very much wanted instant gratification anyway. So I ate a whole bunch of peanut butter kiss cookies and felt sufficiently bad about myself, huffing into my bedroom and crying for all of two minutes until I became annoyed with my antics. And then I really did make an action plan. That didn’t involve a noose, poison, running away with the circus or a beer delivery man and mostly involved putting on a sports bra, tying my hair back and brutalizing myself in the room we loosely call a “gym”—a storage room with a few weights, a couple broken cardio machines and an aqua massager—at my place of employ. I reached some semblance of an endorphin high, regaining my clear rationale.

I would find a way. Even if I had to shove my writing down people’s throats, as was suggested to me by one of my Biggest Loser trainers. I hoped it didn’t come to that, but instead of being a big Debbie Downer, I would employ Biggest Loser tactics and get angry and get goin’. Because what else could I do? Boo-hooing into murky silverware water wasn’t going to make me an accomplished writer. I was. So I may as well shut the hell up about writing and get to it. Words to paper, man.

Or something. So here is my execution. Not of myself. Because how very macabre. No, of getting the writing going. And hobnobbing with other folks who write and generally just being a writer and not bemoaning that I am not a writer. Fourth grade me knew I was a writer and didn’t need a paycheck or validation to put pen to paper anyway. So maybe I should channel fourth grade me. Though really un-savvy and prone to wearing oversize Winnie the Pooh shirts, that girl had gumption.

Cheers to fourth grade me then. And not running away or offing myself when things seem bleak. And the written word. Always the written word.

 

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If You’ve Got Worries

I worry constantly. If worrying were a payable endeavor, I would give Bill Gates a run for his money. I don’t enjoy this little facet of my persona. In fact I worry about the long term effects on my health. So then I try and combat the worry with yoga, deep breathing, regular chats with God, and good-vibe mantras, like chill the fuck out, you’ve got this. I recently saw that one on a greeting card which I promptly sent to my best friend who enjoys the F word as much as I do.

Currently I am an almost 29 year old who lives with her parents and babysits for a living. Okay to be fair, I also teach the children writing while I’m there and I freelance for a magazine, but still. I work three days a week and TurboTax has definitely classified me as poor. Okay, fine, they didn’t say it outright, but they ever-so-helpfully hinted at certain tax breaks I can receive for being below the poverty line. I appreciate that TurboTax. Way to have my back.

At any rate, my artsy soul is constantly conflicted with a deep desire to be true to my art and not have my soul ripped out by The Man and then uh, being an actual adult who pays her bills and has health insurance and can afford her penchant for almond butter and fancy coffee but has to have her soul ripped out by The Man, because that’s the way to afford almond butter and bills. It is very disconcerting all this warring back and forth, between soul and The Man.

As any starving (though I never starve, I could never allow that. Not because of prolonging my life reasons, though that’s of course important, but because I genuinely am mad crazy over food) artist would tell you, being a slave to your art is not for the easily discouraged.

Right now, however I am at an impasse. I just regretfully watched a Ted Talk video on why your 30’s are not the new 20’s (I never believed that anyway) but the video made me very uncomfortable. Why haven’t I figured my shit out yet? What is wrong with me? The speaker gives all these examples of 20-somethings making their big life decisions. Getting careers and finding love and paving the way for their 30’s. And I don’t have any of that figured out.

Sure I know I want to be a writer as much as I want my next sip of expensive coffee followed by a bite of chocolate, but making it as a writer who also has a 401K and can eat for good measure… that’s the big times.

My best friend just turned 30 and while I heartily enjoyed picking out a card mocking her last days of youth and leaving her messages reminding her that she’s old, it was all in good fun and truthfully I envy her. She pointed out to me that a whole bunch of her major life decisions were made in her 20’s and how great that was (the speaker in the Ted Talk points this out as well). She went to school, settled on a career, got a job in that career field, found her husband, bought a house, brought home a dog. By society’s standards and turning 30 standards, she’s fucking killin’ it.

And there’s me who has one year and a handful of months left in my 20’s to make some semblance of it count and all I can do is worry. Here in no particular order are all my worries right now:

Why don’t magazines want to hire me? Is it because I’m sort of chubby? Wait, they can’t profile like that. Don’t be absurd. But maybe… Or worse is it because I’m untalented? No. Take that one back. I’d rather be sort of chubby and know it, rather than believe myself to lack any real talent.
Am I unlovable? Also, is it the sort of chubby thing?
Seriously when will I be gainfully employed by someone who doesn’t make me memorize the new french fry menu, or isn’t paying me under the table? (We’ll talk about that next year TurboTax).
Why can’t I finish my blasted book already?
Will I even write a bestseller? Of course I will. Don’t be an idiot.
Am I an idiot? Could be… the other day I was mildly unclear on the rules of communism and had to look it up on Wikipedia.
Why do other almost 29 year olds have pensions, houses, dogs and love lives, or have already invented a new billion dollar website? Where is my motivation? Where is my drive? Where is my love life?
It’d probably be easier if I was a singer. Then I could just go on the The Voice and…
Wait how would life be any easier if I was a struggling singer instead of a struggling writer? I don’t know, but it might be. At least they have open mic nights.
Maybe I should start reading my writing aloud on street corners. Could I be discovered in that way?
Why hasn’t anyone discovered me yet?
Seriously have I been negligent in the love department? Was I supposed to set my intentions and look for my mate? But I always hear it happens when you’re not looking. Should I be looking or not looking? Coy or aggressive? Coy is better right? Always be coy. Except I am not coy. I am super obvious and out there. Dammit! Why didn’t God make me coy?! All the coy girls are the ones finding their life partner. Instead I am failing at my 20’s.
Do I eat too much peanut butter? It has protein, but it’s also fatty.
Where do people find cowboys? I mean, more appropriately, where are women finding cowboys who are interested in marrying them? Why haven’t I landed a cowboy and how come life is so unfair? I have so much cellulite and no cowboy. I mean shouldn’t there be a cellulite cowboy trade-off? It only seems right. I did my time with the cellulite now I should be rewarded with a man who rides horses and then rides… the rails you pervert. Gosh, any good cowboy obviously has to take the train sometimes for business.

Ughhhh. There are so many more worries. I am worried I’ve forgotten some of the best ones. Sometimes I find myself utterly at peace and content and I suddenly start, like when you’re falling asleep and think you’re falling out of bed. I think, what were you just worrying about ten minutes ago… I can’t recall, so I backtrack, oh thank God, there you are worry, finances, you were worrying about finances. Oh that one’s a doozy, we could be here all day with this one. Alright, let’s get started.

Honestly writing this post in some ways has inflamed my anxiety to the point where I am having fantasies of dancing Xanax, but in others I realize how truly absurd most of my worries are. Also the fiery optimist in me is seriously chagrined by all this worrisome talk. Hence why this post got written. She was not having any of it and every time worrisome me mused to the universe at large that maybe it’s impossible for someone to love me, really love me as in also want to take off my clothes at some point and acknowledge my cellulite while still maintaining that love, she battled back with ferocity saying, of course it’s possible you ninny! You are fully worthy of love, and not just love but great love, cellulite and all! And any cowboy worth his beard and boots would be lucky to have you. Also you’ll get a job and sell your book.

She’s nice, the fiery optimist. I ought to talk to her more often and maybe have her stronghold the worrier and lock her up in a closet under a staircase, Harry Potter style. Yeah, that’ll shut her up. Anyway I have a homemade almond peanut butter cup with my name on it. And nothing says drowning my worries like chocolate and almond butter, so I’m going to get to that. Besides. I am only an almost 29 year old. I have one full year and some odd months to get my 20’s right. I am not worried… Ish.