I Am a Writer

writer mug
I race to the computer. But first I furiously open a bottle of wine. But first I tear off my skinny jeans and thrust my legs into a pair of worn out, fraying “sweatshirt” shorts, the ones with a drawstring. But first I pee.

I race to the computer to say this: that I am a writer. That I wish I had listened to that pull of the words on paper that I remember first knowing when I was seven years old, when I won the city’s contest for creativity. The prize was a $50 bond. I think I still have it, pockmarked with thumbtack holes from all the places I have lived – my first prize for writing, on display. I wore a white turtleneck studded with multicolored shapes that looked like Good ‘n Plenty when they gave me the award.

Tonight I sat in my child’s third grade classroom, a monster of an adult perched on a tiny child’s chair, listening to his teacher describe the many ways that her students, her bright, inquisitive students, surprise and delight her. I heard a mother whisper to another “We’re so lucky.”

They’re so lucky. We’re so lucky. I’m so lucky.

I’m so lucky that even after decades of redirection, somehow I found my way back to writing, to the struggle of identifying myself as a writer even when nobody is paying me to write words. I’m lucky that I do this even for myself, so that when I want to remember what it was like to smell my newborn baby, or dig a steamer clam out of the Bay of Conception in Mexico, or throw a rage-fueled punch that puts a hole in a wall, I can look back on these digital bits, and remember.

Somewhere between age 7 and my stellar performance in high school, I decided that I would be a doctor. It was a great detour, a misstep, a wrong turn. I wrote during all of that. I kept a journal, a cringeworthy Moth-worthy journal of angst and teenaged love in a composition notebook in high school. I kept a journal in college, when it was now my job to process thought and spit it back out in an organized fashion. I wrote about world events like the Berlin wall coming down, the Rodney King riots, the earthquake. I wrote about young love and betrayal. I wrote about my friends. I wrote about my dying grandmother.

And then I didn’t get into medical school, and I lost a great love, and I wrote about all of that in my paper journals, too. I moved across the country to find myself and have a grand adventure, and here I am now, living in a suburb, heating up chicken nuggets before the babysitter gets here, sitting obediently in a third grade classroom at Back to School night. I’m on the board of the PTA. I wear my dyed blonde hair in a ponytail. I am a stereotype.

And I love it.

Because I have had rejections, because I have taken time off, because I have stalled at selling my story, I have been feeling like a poser, a fraud, a mother who is “working” with air quotes formed by fingers when someone asks me what I do. Still, I read books about writers, I am in a writers’ group, I am on a writers’ message board. After being a student again just for one delusional moment, I came home and picked up a book about writing, and I felt an electric moment of recognition. “Yes!” I screamed silently. “I know this! I am this!”

So that’s it. Whatever I’m doing, however successful I am at it, this is the truth. I am a writer.

I’ve always been a writer.

It’s nice to say and mean it, even if I have to keep doing this. When you’re in love, and you say “I love you,” you don’t only say it once. You keep saying it. Your lover needs positive affirmation, maybe sometimes, maybe often. So I’ll say it again.

I am a writer.

I remember.

Songs That Stab Me in the Heart: “No One’s Gonna Love You” by Band of Horses

no one's gonna love you

This tune is courtesy of my “The Shins” channel on Pandora, which tends to play depressing hipster love songs, and I just had it on while I was writing businessy stuff, but then there was that one moment when I stopped to pay attention.

Anything to make you smile
You are the ever-living ghost of what once was
I never want to hear you say
That you’d be better off
Or you liked it that way

So yeah, this is for you and your ghost.

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Wordless Wednesday: 2001

kim and stew nov 11

New Iberia, LA. November, 2001.


Referee

referee-1Kyle had a playdate today and I thought Stewart was taking Brady out for the day so Kyle and his pal could have 8-year-old time uninterrupted by the little brother, but once the visitor arrived it became clear that Stewart had no intention of leaving his computer. So for a little while the boys all played together nicely but it didn’t last. For the next two hours I had to intervene what felt like every ten minutes as one kid or another got his shorts in a bunch because this one wasn’t being nice, that one was making a mess, the other one didn’t want to play what this one wanted to play. Kyle wound up in a terrible mood and I was praying that the doorbell would ring and the boy’s parents would come and pick him up. To the boy’s credit he was fairly pleasant about the whole thing but Kyle wound up in time out because of his foul attitude which made him also talk back to me.

I tried to explain to him that not every playdate – which once was just called “playing” – can be a winner. You can have times with your friends that are not 100% fun but you can still be friends again. And even though you’re mad, you can’t talk to Mom and Dad that way. So go to your room until you can calm down and speak nicely to us.

Overall I think it is a good teaching moment, but I am exhausted. During the summer there was a day when my friends and I had all of our kids playing together and their disagreements were nearly constant. We mused that when we were little, our parents were not expected to intervene in our arguments with our friends. We went off to play and if there were problems we had to sort them out ourselves. But now every five minutes it’s “He did this, he did that, this one is cheating, whine whine whine” when honestly one of the points of a playdate is to occupy your child so you can get some laundry/housework/reading done for God’s sake. Today I tried to steer them into working out their differences themselves but it was torturous to listen to it.

This is why I think it’s pretty important to be around for my kids now that they are older. I was important in their lives when they were babies, of course, but now they are so impressionable and the scope of bad things that can happen to them if left to their own devices is no longer limited to the physical world. It’s how they think and the way they solve problems and the influences upon them. This shit is getting real, yo.