Hello, friends! Tonight I am digging in the back of our beer fridge, and what do I find but a Great Lakes Christmas Ale. Why it’s still there is a mystery, but it won’t be for long. I am sipping it now, with the rim coated in cinnamon sugar. I know some of you just can’t get your head around beer mixed with sugar, and beer consumed alongside items such as cupcakes, and I tell you once again, IT WORKS. Especially when life sucks, and it kind of does, right now.
Yeah, sorry to report this won’t be a cheery post, so don’t say you weren’t forewarned. You should be cracking your own brew open now anyway, since if you’ve been following my posts, you know they’re not exactly sunshine-y.
You may need a refresher, though, as it’s been months since I’ve visited my abandoned blog, due to that pesky project called writing a novel. Well, guess what? Right now, that two and a half year project sucks. I just want to listen to sad folksinger songs that nobody has ever heard of, drink stouts, and then get mad all over again because nobody knows who the songwriter is. What the hell is wrong with people, I rail. They make talentless, lip-synching fucks famous, and people with REAL PROMISE go unnoticed. Like me, maybe? So suggests a little voice.
Anyway. At this particular juncture, my work sucks, because I’ve recently gotten feedback telling me it has no real direction, there doesn’t seem to be a point, and I should do X, Y , and Z. Breathe deeply, I tell myself. No writing is wasted, I try to remember, and I want to wring the wrinkled neck of whoever thought of that son- of-a-bitching useless mantra. Another deep breath.
The truth is, every good writer requires and uses constructive critique to improve their work. We in the writer’s world are told at every turn about its’ essentialness, and I believe it to my core. That being said, does it still sting like the wasp that attacked my son years ago, landing on every knuckle with vicious delight? Absolutely. Part of it is, of course, you become so immersed and attached to your story, the characters are like your babies. You envision yourself, instead of smiling politely, responding to your very well-meaning and most likely correct critic by shouting at them: What do you mean, you don’t UNDERSTAND why X, Y, or Z, would do THAT? I’ve spent hundreds of fucking hours making it clear why. Apparently, as clear as mud. What the fuck is wrong with you? Let me guess, what are you, twenty five? You don’t know SHIT!
So. To preserve my thinning perseverance, I am stepping away, for a bit. After I’ve received some more commentary from various valued comrades, I shall return. And like a bulldog, I won’t let go until it’s right. I guess that will be an accomplishment in itself, because do you know how unlike a bulldog I am? It’s true. I’m more like a dopey boxer-mix who chases their own tail because they don’t know any better, who forgets where they buried the damned bone. I’m fighting against the tide here.
Aside from my pity party about the above, there’s other stuff making life suck. There’s the ever present grey skies and rain, which is like living in Ireland, without the awesome pubs and people. It is so utterly depressing, and to complain results in…nothing. My husband hates whiners, and actually I do too, but I want my Michigan snow back. Where the hell did it go, anyway? The grey is similar to the cement block that is weighing on us from another ongoing situation that, if not resolved soon, I fear will literally kill my partner. My love, my children’s father, and I am powerless to stop its’ poison. This is how long- term stress works; it eats away like a parasite taking over the host. In the meantime, we just try to take it day by day, hoping it will soon be an unpleasant memory.
Have you cracked open that craft beer yet?
The key to dissolving the said pity party is perspective. We all know this; it’s only in a thousand different Facebook memes. Remember? The self-righteous ones that tell you to be grateful for overflowing laundry, because it means you have clothes? Yeah, yeah, whatever, those are the ones I share when I’m in a good mood. Which I am not, even though I know their truths. So here are my sobering face-slaps.
There’s my dear friend and neighbor, who is slowly dying from a rare type of lymphoma, and if there is anyone who deserves to live it’s this man. He is the closest thing to a saint on the planet, and he lives alone, and I wake up in a sweat worrying whether today is the day God is taking him, and nobody will know. So I call him and bring him cupcakes because he just turned sixty six, and by the grey in his face that matches our current sky, I don’t think he will see another birthday.
There is my sister, who must think about which nursing home to possibly place her husband, who suffers from Parkinson’s. And if and when she does this, how to pay for it. An attorney has suggested a divorce, “on paper,” because if you have any assets at all, Medicare won’t pay for long term care. How’s that for a choice?
Are you wondering about my cure for when life sucks? Well, it may not work for you. In fact, you might even break out into hives at the thought. If that’s the case, it’s your problem, and I’m sorry for you. But my balm right now, my sustenance, is this: Avoid adults. I’m dead serious. I’ve decided I prefer the company of children anymore, and maybe I always have. They are incapable of bullshit, they don’t know or understand politics, and maybe most importantly, they make me laugh or cry, depending on the circumstance.
The last couple of weekends have been spent in the presence of four different young girls, each of them as unique and beautiful as the snowflakes I wish would reappear. And I couldn’t get enough of them; of their sweet, innocent conversations and overwhelming politeness, their clear, youthful faces and most of all, their honesty. In one instance, the girls are daughters of our friends, and we were skiing. Afterward, I colored with them (YES! How I miss coloring!), and played tic-tac-toe, and Hangman, and there were belly laughs all around. Oh, how I need this now, I thought.
And then there was a dinner this past weekend, which included people my husband works with. Some of them brought their kids, two girls who sat at the end of the table. I asked John to switch seats with me so I could talk to them, because I always feel bad for the kids who get dragged to adult/parent events. I didn’t regret it either, because sure enough one of the spouses began bitching about their job (with kids!) and another was on about the joy (not) of working in a high school lunchroom, which included the power of granting detention.
Jesus Christ, I think. Don’t. Get. Me. Started. On this subject, of Nazi-like adults loving to wield power over helpless kids. This is where I check out, turn my chair, and start actively engaging the girls in conversation, and it was wonderful. I pay more attention to eleven year old Ashley, because she doesn’t have an electronic device, and she is answers all my nosy questions with eagerness. She tells me art is her favorite class, (big surprise), and her current task is drawing her “dream bedroom.” I ask what that would entail, but she says it’s a brand new assignment and she still has to think about it. I tell her I’m a writer, which is something I don’t openly admit, because to my ears it still sounds imposter-ish, but I know I will be safe in revealing it to her. And I am right. Her face brightens at this, and she tells me of a ‘personal narrative” she had recently completed. We chat some more, and she notices her mother is not at her chair. Her dad tells her that mom is outside to get some fresh air, that she’s not feeling well, and because she is eleven and a girl, she’s worried and asks to go see her. She is clearly relieved when her mom is okay, and my throat closes up watching her.
Children are our hope, and our future. We know this, logically, but we don’t give them the credit or the respect they deserve. They are also central to the book I’m writing, and for this reason alone I will keep plugging through. I know that my strongest passages involve characters that are children, so it may mean I have to expand on this strength. Wish me luck, friends, that I can do them justice on the printed page.
And may the things that suck right now for you, every day be a little less sucky. Sometimes, life has to be measured by those kind of increments.