What does it take to change? I mean, think about it. If everything was great all the time, where would be the incentive to do anything different? If life didn’t get uncomfortable sometimes, we would just wallow in mediocrity.
How many times have you been provoked into change? And would you have changed anything if you weren’t provoked? Think about it. People say, “why do bad things happen?” I believe most bad things happen because it’s the only way to get us to change, move, leave or stay.
I made up my mind about two memoirs I will write. The first one is about my journey through the last year of my addiction. It was pretty gruesome. I was provoked into sobriety because life became so unbearable. I lost everything. I have already written half of it in my ‘life story’ that my psychic advisor told me to write.
The other one is the one about the Wagon Wheel after getting kicked out of my psycho in-law’s house. A part of this is also in my ‘life story’ that I have written. In that story, I was hassled into staying in an already dead-end marriage because I had two children and was pregnant with a third. Throw in a crack head husband who steals pallets to make a living along with living in a hotel room above a seedy bar, and I think we have a story.
Writing down my regurgitated thoughts is the easy part. It’s like writing a grocery list or a step by step on how to boil water. Easy Peasy. For me, the editing is the hard part. I have no problem writing, “I wasn’t sure if it was the smell of the dead skunk outside the window or the fact that I was sitting in a puddle of my own blood that woke me up, but whatever it was it ignited a spark in me. A spark that something had to give.”
But how do I make that pop? How do I make that really jump off the page? That’s where the work comes in. And that is where I’m at right now. April 1st is when I send my polished fiction novel to my editor. And April 1st is when I start breaking down my memoir.
Despite my heavy love for rock and metal, I am an excellent dancer. I was born in 1973, so my ears were blessed with everything from the Bee Gees to The Cars to Dokken to Slayer.
And I can dance to all of it. Because dancing makes everything better. If you’re in a bad mood or feeling down, I challenge you to put on any song you like and dance to it. How could you be bummed out and dance at the same time?
You can’t! There is no way someone could be sad or mad or upset or depressed while dancing. It goes against the theory of dancing relativity. Okay, so that theory doesn’t exist, but if it did, my statement would be the basis.
You cannot be sad while dancing.
The first time I danced to anything was in my crib as a baby when I wouldn’t stop crying. My grandmother told me I was wailing and wailing and she had two choices: smother me or soothe me. She took the little Fisher Price music box on the dresser, wound it up and threw it in my crib.
I stopped crying and started kicking my feet and smiling.
So I guess the first time I danced was before I could walk. And I still love it. Every day on my way back and forth to work I have the radio turned up loud and sing and dance in my seat to get through my grueling one hour commute (two hour round trip).
Even when I used to drink and go to bars, I always made sure I was at a bar that had a working jukebox or a live band because the music made it better.
Music is life. Dancing is a close second.
I’m still writing the NaNoWriMo 2017 novel.
Keep on keepin’ on friends! What are you working on this month?
So, in 1996 I had a stroke (brought on by taking too much Ultram) and was dead for about somewhere between 20 minutes and two hours… my six-year-old daughter found me, and after the EMT’s showed up and worked on me for nearly 30 minutes, I regained a pulse. I also gained some brain damage. After a week long hospital stay and two weeks of grueling occupational therapy, I was sent to live with my mother because I couldn’t be trusted to take care of my children.
Everone was afraid I’d start dinner and burn the house down because I forgot the stove was on or even worse, have the baby in the bathtub, get distracted by the phone or my reflection and let my baby drown because, ‘what baby?’ Or maybe I’d drive to the store with the kids, forget I went there with kids, leave the kids there and then think I lived in Oklahoma on a llama farm or something.
My short term memory was shattered. People have compared me to Drew Barry’s character in Fifty First Dates which was cute until I actually saw the movie and I wasn’t as amused as most people.
“Jesus Christ, I’m not that f**king bad,” I’d snap in annoyance. I was finally able to watch the whole movie about a year ago and laugh at most of it.
My long term memory was fine. My memory about grade school, getting picked on, and my abusive cheating husband at the time were all grooved in my brain like a brand new tire tread. I still remembered I was married (miserably), that I had four kids and amazingly every word to any song I ever heard prior to 1996. But it ended there.
I couldn’t remember anything new. I couldn’t remember that I told my mom a story (from my long term memory) every twenty minutes. I couldn’t remember that I just ate or just drank coffee or just smoked a cigarette. I couldn’t remember that the bedroom I occupied at my parents’ house was mine; my old bedroom – my childhood bedroom – was the back bedroom and now my little brother had that one. How the hell did I get downgraded to the oversized closet with a bed?
Oh right… I hadn’t lived at home since 1990. I had no clout there. I was the dysfunctional eldest daughter; the oldest sibling who could never quite get her shit together… ever. And now I was back like the beer stain everyone thought was permanently scrubbed from the carpet.
I moved out of my parents and got my kids back in 1999, and while I had great intentions and did my best, it all fell apart in two years and then I was back in a new level of hell with less kids and more drama.
Fast forward to 2017, twenty-one years later, and I can honestly say while keeping weird lists, writing down directions to a place less than five miles away, writing down on my hand where I parked the car and other things that I should remember, it is a little less daunting, but still embarrassing.
“No, it isn’t a tattoo. It is directions to my car in the parking lot.”
There are even times I am talking to someone and the thoughts I have in my head are disappearing as I am trying to convey them. I’ll be mid-sentence and just wrap it up because I literally forgot what I wanted to say.
:(I have tried Ginko Biloba, changing my diet, more sleep, and lots and lots of brain puzzles. Every day I do word searches and even play my own ‘memory games’ in an effort to make my brain stronger, but honestly, all I can really ever do is memorize lyrics to songs.
That’s it. I mean, yes, I remember other things. But I have to work really hard at it. But I don’t have to work so hard to remember music. Never music.
Maybe I should sing everything I want to remember.
Take nothing for granted my friends.
Do you have any tricks to remember stuff or are you like an elephant?
So, I have always been an overthinker. Even when I was about six or seven and attended the awful Sullivan elementary school in Philadelphia (a lot of schools in Philly look more like prisons) confined to gloomy hallways and blinding classrooms, my mind was racing. It was dark and freaking gruesome like some medieval castle from a Dracula movie. All the kids were brats, the teachers were mean and that one time I threw up my recess Original Flavor Slim Jim in my favorite phonics book just about did it for me.
Somewhere along the way, I started to fret about this crap. Like, weird thoughts would just get in my mind and then they’d kind of just hang around like vagrant inhabitants of an abandoned building. There was a time when I thought if I dropped the milk cap on the floor that it was better for it to land open side down so dust wouldn’t get in the inside. You know, because mounds of dust fall from the air in split seconds just to cake the inside of milk caps.
I felt like a weirdo since I was small but since it was the ’70s, there was nothing that could or would be done about it. We weren’t rich, we didn’t live in New York City and mostly, no one noticed that I was weird. I just felt weird.
That is probably the number one reason I started writing… to get rid of the weirdness. Despite all my writing over the years (I once locked myself inside my apartment for a weekend with cigarettes, liquor, and a computer to write out one hundred and thirty poems in less than 48 hours) I have only been officially published once – one stinking poem. All my stuff gets rejected. Maybe it isn’t good enough, maybe it is too weird, maybe it just ‘isn’t a good fit.’
I don’t know.
Then, like yesterday into today, I get down on myself when those icky, negative thoughts of self-doubt inhabit my mind. Ugh. I cry and yell at myself. “Why am I wasting my time? I am just not good enough.”
I submitted a piece for an anthology about shame and it got rejected. Everything I submit gets rejected. Do I need to add a whole bunch of fluffy bullshit to my prose to get people interested? Do I need to be fake? I don’t want to be fake… being fake led me down a drunken path and I’m not doing it.
Anyway, since it was rejected, I will submit it somewhere else and see where it goes. And if it goes nowhere a couple more times, I’ll just post it here and let you all read it. I also submitted a query for the novel so I am waiting on word from that publisher.
Happy Friday everyone! Today is your day to shine.
Chaos was my sidekick since I was about four years old. I was always pushing the envelope in disturbing ways from shoving an eraser up my nose when I was seven to putting toothpaste on my eyelids when I was nine… I was one of those “What would happen if…” kids.
Later, it was me coasting down my grandmother’s driveway and into the garage on roller skates. There was a half-inch lip where the concrete floor of the garage raised above the driveway. I coasted down; watching the lip draw closer I thought, “I’m not lifting my feet. I want to see what happens when my skates hit that lip.” (Even as I write this over thirty years later, I am shaking my head – what the hell is wrong with you, girl) Needless to say, I hit the lip, went airborne and landed on my knees and face – and I had boo-boo’s to prove it.
I cried and wailed… my grandmother came running. “What happened?” I told her my story of pain and even at ten years old, I embellished it, peppering in imaginary details to make it sound more dramatic.
My grandmother was not buying any of it. “Well, what did you think was going to happen, you stupid ass? Get up. Brush yourself off and go get a Popsicle.” I did just that and when I saw my friends later, I told them my embellished Daredevil story of self-inflicted boo-boo’s and how I must have been cruising down the driveway doing at least twenty miles an hour!
It was the last time I cried over physical pain, but it was not the last time I intentionally created chaos to get attention. Later in life, I found emotional ways to create chaos and keep the drama flowing in my life. “Hey, over here! I am a human trainwreck but I’m cute so come and love me!”
I created chaos because I had to compartmentalize all the weird, icky and dangerous feelings I had inside that didn’t sit well with me. Being an ACOA besides an alcoholic/addict, I had a double whammy of stunted emotional growth. So when things got chaotic in a way I didn’t understand, I would make them more chaotic by inserting my own melodrama, thereby making sure that all that weird inner shit really did have something to do with me instead of me just being a victim of circumstance.
It took me a long time to realize that most of my chaos was self-created, even after I got sober in 2006. I had a real case of the ‘woe is me’ sniffles until I finally stopped self-sabotaging and realized I truly can be my own worst enemy.
So if you are anything like the old me (who still tries to poke her train wrecked head into my life from time to time) and you are surrounded by chaos more than peace, maybe take a long hard look at the center of it all.