Tuesday, April 5, 2016

On Writing: Battles, Bill Murray, and BOC

Some people prefer lives of peace and solitude, and I am content to be counted as one of those.  I am, for lack of a better word, a home-body.  I like my peace and quiet (treasure it!!!!), and I don't get out and socialize with brand-spanking-new people that often, due to personal preference and some legit nerves.

Occasionally, however, I do venture out for social events and happenings, and do stumble across Brand New People (henceforth to be known as BNP).  And there invariably comes the part of the conversation where they say:  "So. . . what do you do?"

**The question of what I DO always seems to make me feel antsy for some reason. . .   I'm a mom, and a wife.  I'm a cat-herder, and a homework-helper, and even, (on rare occasions) a gym-person.  I take care of kids, and the house, and I think I do it fairly well.  . . . I'm not going to win any "Cleanest and/or Most Presentable" awards for either one. . .  but I think I might just almost be okay with that.  =)

(Learning to own your imperfections is a brand of nirvana I find myself reaching for constantly.)

After that. . . what DO I do??

I paint. . . and I bake. . . and sometimes I write.  And nobody is currently paying me to do any of these things, which has, unfortunately, made it veeeeery easy for me to question the validity of the things I do.

WHY do I do it?!?

I've been thinking about it a lot.  And the answer I've come up with is:  I do it for the same reason that anybody writes.

*And I have compiled a brief list, as follows:


(Sidenote:  Go on and prepare to be SUPER impressed, because these are all just stupidly noble reasons.)

#1.  To make their voices heard.

I'm going to die one day.

We all are.

(I promised you 'noble', not uplifting.)

Some people deal with this knowledge in a very stoic manner, while in others it inspires a sense of quiet desperation.  A sense of:

I was here.  I mattered, dammit!!  I NEED TO BE HEARD.

I had these experiences, and though they might not seem like much, they were important to me at the time.

And so writing is, in a way, a means of scrawling: 


in dark Sharpie, on the bathroom wall of Life.

And people get to see it, and acknowledge it:

Hey.  Look at that.  Somebody else was here.

. . .every time they go pee.

Hmmm. . .  I'm now looking back at this last section, and rethinking the whole thing. . .

But I'm in a mood where I refuse to second-guess myself. ONWARD AND UPWARD!!

*I* think it's noble, and I'm sticking with that.

Deal.  With.  It.

#2:  To keep a log of events.

You know.  As in, "for FUTURE PEOPLES!!!"

People have done this for as long as writing has been around.  As a way of communicating with those that come later.  As in:

"So hey, we've noticed that the banks of the Nile overflow at pretty much the same time every year.  You might wanna watch out for that."


"My neighbor figured out that if you chew the bark from this tree, it makes your fever go away.  I know--sounds crazy, right?  But all 10 of my kids are alive because of it.  Just FYI."

Or even:

"Notice:  If you're nice to dogs, and feed them and give them a place to live?  They will HELP YOU herd your sheep and stuff.  NO LIE."

(. . .I'm fairly certain that there are far better examples out there. . . but I'm working on my second Big Gulp of coffee right now, the caffeine is kicking IN, the toddler is squealing, and I find that I'm a tad scattered upstairs at the moment.  All apologies.

Besides, I feel that these examples adequately illustrate my point, so I'm just going to move on now.

While I am NOT writing to warn future generations of flood-times, natural remedies, etc., I am still essentially doing the same thing.

I write this blog for me.  And for my son.  And for my family and friends.

Just as a way of saying:  This is what happened.

This is what we did, and how we did it.

This is what your childhood was like, Took!  This is how we spent our days.  =)

And, on rare occasions:  This is what I learned.

(I DO actually learn lessons occasionally.  Not ALL the time. . . but sometimes.  But I prefer not thinking on the "lesson" part of my life too hard.  Puts too much pressure on me.  I'd much rather just go through my days, experiencing my life, and then every once in a while I'm all:  

"OOOH!!!  Look!  There, on the ground!  A lesson!!  . . .I'm growing as a person!!!"

And then I pick the lesson up, and put it in my pocket.

. . .And then I usually have a snack.)

Because 'growing as a person' is freaking exhausting.**  

**Pretty sure it was Ghandi that said that.  But you don't have to look it up.  . . . I'm pretty sure.

#3:  As an attempt to be understood.

This is my effort
To be heard through the howling.
Adored, though imperfect.
Understood, though unclear.

As a way of relating to people, nothing beats writing.

. . . I still remember, quite clearly, the day when I was in 4th grade, and our teacher introduced us to Shel Silverstein.

We followed along in our books, as we sat there as a class and listened to Where The Sidewalk Ends on cassette.

And I still remember hearing the first poem, Invitation,

---and thinking:  


THIS guy.


Wait . . . this was written by a grown man??!

. . . I'm pretty sure this guy is a sorcerer.


Nothing had ever spoken to me like those poems did that day.

And I spent the next several years searching for Shel Silverstein books in every bookstore and library I was lucky enough to visit.

. . . those same books are stacked on my son's dresser at this very moment, patiently waiting for the day when he is old enough to discover them.

Which brings me to:

#4:  To inspire.  To lift up.

I make very few, if any, promises to the readers of this blog.

But I do strive to maintain it with a couple of rules in mind:

First off---don't bitch.

I might've broken this one occasionally, but I really do try not to complain.  I don't like complainers.

Of all the lessons of my childhood, one of the ones that has stuck with me the most is something that both my mother and my grandmother taught me from the time I was just a wee-one:

No matter how bad you have it, there's always someone out there that has it worse.  There's always someone out there that would get down on their knees and be grateful to only have to deal with your problems.  So suck it up, and try to help.  (I'm paraphrasing.)

So that lesson has stayed with me to this day, and I try to keep it in mind when I'm writing.  I feel that writing, just to complain, is kind of. . . pointless.  Everybody has problems.  Why waste the time and effort just to complain about yours?


That brings me to the second rule I try to uphold with this blog:

Be sincere.  Be honest.  Be genuine.

And honestly?  Yeah, I've got problems, just like everybody else.

And I do write about them.  In a way that (I hope), comes across as genuine and sincere.

And I also pretty much refuse to write about troubling things in my day-to-day, UNTIL I have found a positive way to look at them, or a productive way to deal with them.

And while I will readily admit that it is probably not exactly prudent to be so open with my own shortcomings and demon-dances. . . I do it anyway.

Because I know that if I'M going through something. . . chances are pretty good that someone else might be, too.  And maybe they'll read what I write.  And maybe they'll relate.

And maybe. . . maybe they won't feel so alone any more.

So if I learn something. . . I'm gonna share it.  Even if it makes me look like a dumb ass in the process.

It's Shake N' Bake, and I helped.


#5:  For shits and giggles.  (aka: Humor)

I think a lot about humor.



I mean, seriously.  I really think about it a lot.

You know the line "My heroes have always been cowboys"?

Well, my heroes have always been comedians.

As in. . . ALWAYS.

People that make me laugh just kind of instantly own my heart.

It takes. . . it takes a special awareness of the world around you to be funny, I think.  I don't believe it's possible to be funny if you're walking around wearing your rose-colored glasses, willfully blind to painful truths.

I think it takes a recognition of the darkness, of the insanity, and of the helplessness that is synonymous with the human condition. . . to be funny.

Let me rephrase that:

I think it requires a recognition of the darkness, and then a shrug of the shoulders, and then a cosmic thumbing-of-the-nose.


To me, comedy is seeing all that can be bad in the world, seeing it as it REALLY is, and then choosing to say:

"You know what?  SCREW YOU, Darkness!!  SCREW YOU RIGHT IN YOUR BIG STUPID EAR!!!"

This is the only life I've got.  

It's the only one you've got, too.

Why not laugh?

. . . And if I could pass on words of wisdom, to my children perhaps, about the nature of comedy?

You have to look for it.

You have to always be looking for it.

But this life is inherently absurd.

Just keep your eyes open.  You'll find it.


To my way of thinking, humor is a weapon, and a shield, and a freaking LIFE PRESERVER.

It is laughing in the face of our own mortality.

It is fighting back the Reapers.

It is nothing short of bravery, defined.


So I write.

I don't get paid for it, and it is possible (even likely) that I never will.



I'll still do it.

Because I'm an earthworm out of dirt, squirming around, trying to find meaning.

And in order to DO that, I have to walk my own path.  Kick the stones, smell the rain, get my feet dirty.

And what do I want in return?

Hmmmm. . . 

Just to grow.

Maybe leave something shiny behind when I'm gone.

Create a smile, or a laugh, or a sense of belonging. . . that maybe wasn't there before.

To connect with other weirdos.

To say:  "Hey.  Check it out.  I learned something."

To leave love.

. . . So that's it.

That's my list.

And honestly?  . . .I think I feel better just having written this.


No matter how bad, how good, how grammatically satisfying, or how much money I'm not making for doing it --- I will write.

Because I no longer have any fear of being anything other than my flawed, but seeking, self.

And because this is MY blog, my record, my work.

The value is whatever *I* say it is.

These are my demons I'm beating back; my own battles, my own lessons.

My wins, and my losses.

The worth, and the value . . . they're found in the fight.