Saturday, November 15, 2014
365 Days of Writing
I began this year with the challenge to write every day. I did not, in fact, write every day. In true Tammie fashion, I filled the pages of my 365 Days Of Writing journal heavily in those first few months. And then I quit.
Still. I stuck to my 300 words a day challenge for enough time to gather some interesting thoughts. I have decided to share those thoughts with YOU. Understand that these are bits and pieces of other works. They are beginnings and middles and ends. Some have seen print on this blog before and some have never seen the light of day. Some may be too private, but I will do my best to be brave and share what I can. None of them have been edited. Every one of them is straight from my head.
My goal is to post ten days or so worth of writing whenever I get the urge. At least that is the goal. We will see how that goes.
I’m ringing in the New Year in some hotel in the middle of Texas. My big New Year’s Eve celebration consisted of doing a week’s worth of road trip laundry for a family of six and playing board games from a sleeper sofa while enjoying my two complimentary drinks from the Manager’s Reception and polishing off the bottle of bubbly we picked up from the Target around the corner. We do this every year, my family and I. We have for about the past sixteen years. We lock ourselves together in the car with nothing more than a couple bags each, a loose idea of where we may be headed, and a stack of AAA road maps. I sit writing this with my laptop perched on a vanity counter, charger strung across the sink. My daughter’s toothbrush, my pretty pink gift with purchase cosmetic bag, and my big fat movie star make-up brush provide the backdrop for the essay developing in my head. My New Year’s resolution is to write, dammit, regardless the obstacles in my way. If this means pounding away at the keyboard while my family packs their bags and readies themselves for the next leg of the trip, then so be it.
There’s a strange feeling about waking up in a bed that’s not your own. You look around, wondering where you are, making out the features of the room as if they are some sort of brain challenge, pieces of a puzzle, the answer to that puzzle centering you, bringing a sense of comfort, acknowledgement that things are going to be okay, that YOU are going to be okay.
My dad got this idea in his head that he could make a dollar picking cherries in some place called Michigan. I had never heard of Michigan and had no idea what it was. For a five-year-old who had never much been out of Jackson, it was the farthest thing from Tennessee I could imagine.
You know how sometimes you take a photograph of yourself and a friend at the park and there is that one random person in the background sitting on a bench eating a hot dog and reading the last chapter of some trashy romance? Writing is sort of like that.
Despite what I said about being okay with who I am, with loving myself unconditionally, with going easy on this tired old soul, I am feeling the need for some turn-of-the-year resolutions. Typically, this list would include gym memberships, diet plans, and an ungodly number of bags set aside for Goodwill, the neighbor girl, the animal shelter down the road. This year, I won’t be doing any of that. I won’t be committing to that which is more for others than myself. I have never been a gym person. The thought of walking on a treadmill for an hour while staring at a wall, a window, a screen is enough to make me want to keel over on the spot. I prefer the woods, the birds, grasshoppers and turkey vultures. I prefer a nice breeze and the warm sun on my bare shoulders. Indeed, I won’t be committing to whittling inches from my waist. This year, my resolutions are for my soul.
A friend once asked, “What are the glitter and butterflies in your life?” I was having a down time. I had lost my happy. I had forgotten the joy that is usually me. It was a draining time full of obstacles and misfortune. The Universe had sat on me, twisted my arm, and was not letting me up until I called, “Uncle.” My friend asked simply, “What are the glitter and butterflies in your life? You need to do more of that.” Before I could answer, she had spoken for me, “They are laughter, romance, flowers, art, food, music and words.” She knew me well. She knows me still. This year, these are my resolutions. I am going to do my darnedest to bring more of these things into my life, to laugh, to write, to read and sing and play, to eat beautiful food in beautiful places, to fill my life with things are pretty to the eyes, pretty to the ears, and absolutely gorgeous to the soul.
I am going to add yoga. Unlike other exercise, yoga calms me, centers me, soothes my soul. I have never understood the frantic, fast-paced, feel the burn sort of workout that is so loved by some. I seem to be able to manage that sort of pace on my own. I have always been a nervous sort. I have always operated on high speed, jumping from here to there in the blink of an eye, doing eighty things at once, mind turning a thought, turning many thoughts, too many thoughts over and over and over. I am like an Energizer Bunny that has no need of batteries to maintain her manic state. What I DO need is someone or someTHING to come to me, look at me, take me by the shoulders, and tell me, 'Tammie, you are becoming a freaking lunatic. Take a breath.' What I need is yoga.
How to Get a Man
First, a disclaimer:
This essay has nothing to do with painted on eyes, low cut blouses, or perfection of your wiggle or stare. It has nothing to do with boob jobs, highlights, or crazy diets that edge on the verge of eating disorder. Neither, however, is it a take-me-or-leave-me dictate addressed to anyone born with excess facial hair, a penchant for peeing while standing, and male parts. 'If you can’t handle me with my rude remarks, low self-esteem, and excess ass, baby, then there’s the door.' No. This essay seeks neither to compromise your morals and values nor to spit in the face of men.
It also does not assume that you necessarily WANT a man.
I cannot do it. I have told myself to put you out of my head. I have told myself to get over it, forget it, move on, and yet I am consumed with the thought of you. You deceived me. You entered my life dressed as a regular person, a potential friend. I invited you in, sat you down, offered you tea. THAT is when you stepped out to make the change.
Understand that when I write of tutus and pixie dust and rainbows and butterflies it is only because there are deep, private thoughts running through my head from which I am trying to distract you, thoughts that would be painful in the confessing, that are unknown to any who know me, that are secret and serious and somewhat shy, hoping never to be standing in front of a crowd, center stage for all to judge. Understand that when you read me as I flit about the page flinging hearts and hugs, smiling and winning over the audience with an irresistible charm, that there are feelings inside of me bordering on dark. It is easier to be the princess, waving to the crowd in her tiara, inspiring her charge. It is easier to distract with glitter and a batting of the lashes. It is easier to hide the deep, the secret, behind the feathers and fluff. It is easier, yes. But it is not better.
It is not better because the dark cries for space. It cries for release from the confines of the heart that is its prison. It cries. It cries.
If I were to open this heart and show you the dark, would you love me still? Or would you judge? If I were to open this heart and confess that which I cannot confess, would you turn me out? Would you lecture, reprimand, show me the way? Would you turn the me who stands before you out until I am the me you wish me to be? Would you judge? Or would you love me still?
I am tempted now to pen again a joke, a witty remark, a distraction from the heavy. I am tempted to make you laugh, to avert attention with a smile. Instead, my words stand before you undressing themselves as we speak, my pen no longer of my hand.
This is an easy two-step plan. Step one: Love yourself. Step two: Love others.
By love yourself, I mean crepey décolletage and all. Look at yourself in front of the mirror. LOOK at yourself. Get a bit sexy, sassy, slutty if you like. Get a little naked. Again, LOOK at yourself. Embrace those stretch marks, ass cheek dimples, chicken wing arms. Embrace the curves. No negative self-talk allowed here. Get comfortable with your bad self. Fling out a compliment or two. Seduce yourself. Shoot yourself a look. Even if you feel silly here, give it a try. It’s a great feeling to fall in love with yourself. It’s a great feeling to like who you are.