Anyone who’s been reading this blog for more than one post, knows that I say for the record, all the time. Pretty much every post in fact. And anyone who knows me for real, knows that I say that a lot too… probably as much as I post it, if truth be told. And truth be told is what this post is about. Setting the record straight. Truth being told. Clearing some misconceptions…. you get the idea.
It’s the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, (L’Shanah Tovah to all of you who celebrate) and this week is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Since falling into the Woody Allen movie that I live in (aka: all the Jewish cliche’s that Mr. Allen uses, viewed by a non-Jew like myself, tyring to keep up with the action), nearly 30 years ago, I’ve definitely come to feel that this is the new year for me. Having attended public schools and then college and grad school for nearly half my life, September was always the start of the school year, and a fresh start for: making new friends, achieving goals, carving out my life… so to speak. Marrying a Jewish man and raising Jewish children, it makes even more sense each year when Rosh Hashanah comes around and all of our Jewish friends are wishing us all a Happy New Year. Yom Kippur is a time for apologies and owning stuff, and Rosh Hashanah offers an opportunity to start fresh. The High Holidays bring out my desire to improve things, to work on issues or clean up messes, to clear away the clutter. For the record, that does not really apply to my dining room table. As I wrote in This Is My Brain On The Dining Room Table, I’m working on clearing my head. I’m really trying to not rush and just put the stuff away or clear the mess, but get to the root of the mess. Run with that metaphor, you’re free to read into it whatever you like! That said, the table has been slowly clearing. Some days it’s 2 steps forward and three back.
I’ll start with a big misconception: I am not depressed. I am not sitting at home licking my wounds day after day, or feeling all melancholy baby. Yes, there are moments when the past year (a sucker punch of events for sure) grab me by, well if I had them, and I feel a bit oh-woe-is-me-ish, but not that often. Definitely not as often as my writing might suggest. I write what I’m feeling or thinking about in the moment. So, the week of my mother’s birthday and the Huntington’s walk with my sister made for some bigger than usual moments for wound licking. Hell, it was a tough week. I feel pretty confident that my responses were fairly normal and grounded, it’s just that I write about it… which gives others the impression that that’s all I was feeling that week. Not so. I was thinking a lot about fruit flies frankly, but that makes me look like a pretty uncaring daughter/sister… and I managed to slip in the whole Barry White fruit fly love making (for the record, I have watched this too many times), which pretty much qualifies me as ungrounded.
Another big misconception, which seems to go hand in hand with the depression one is that I feel like a bad sister, mother, daughter… person. Ok, as part of my personal growth plan I can acknowledge that I am my own worst enemy, as so many of you have so astutely noted. I can be very hard on myself. Noted. However, I am not nearly as self-loathing or self-pittying as I seem to come across. Trust me, I appreciate each and every lovely comment and private email sent my way that seems aimed at boosting my moral, lifting me up. Some of you are simply the Wind Beneath My Wings (take it away Bette!) with all the loving. I appreciate it all, but I guess it also points out that I’m not writing as well as I’d like, if that point is coming across so strongly. The reality is that I think I’ve been an amazing daughter, seriously top notch. I think I am a kick ass sister. I slay it as an aunt, and the fact that my teenage boy nephews love to play lexulous on line with me, to chat, is truly a crown I wear proudly. I’m a really good niece too. I’m a very good dog owner and Luke adores me. Finally, I’m as good of a mom as I can be and I know my kids love me, and appreciate me. I have been done the best with what I had available, which adds up to some very stellar moments and a few I could improve on. But overall, Good Mother. There, I said it all. Sounds a little arrogant does’t it, when said like that… Toot, toot!
So, let me clarify why it comes off so differently sometimes in writing. I have said it before, I did not come from the stablest of backgrounds. I didn’t have a good road map for these roles and I do feel like I’ve been flailing around for the most part. I got a Masters in Social Work, and that helps. I studied child development, adolescent psych, and I practiced them… on other people’s kids and families. I was good at it. I got very good jobs in my field and gold stars when they were handed out. But, raising your own family is different. I have definitely been bumping around in the dark for that part. I think I’ve done pretty well considering, but I admit that I’d like to have done many things differently, and mostly better. That doesn’t mean that I think I’m a bad mother. As a daughter, same thing. I was working with a pretty difficult set of manuals. I was much more of partner, even spouse at times, for my mother than a daughter… That’s just how the chips fell. As a sister and brother, that made me a parent at 9 and that role has been hard to shake. It also makes for some tricky moments when my sister just wants a sister, or visa versa. So, I sound self-deprecating about those roles because it really has been shots in the dark for the most part, and I can’t help but assess things and wish I’d done some it a little differently, better, stronger, thoughtfully… all those things that make it sound like I don’t give myself any credit for what I did get right. But be assured, I do know that I got a lot of it right… as right as it could be, with the tools available. (Ah, love the psycho-social terminology we have at our fingertips!)
For the record, Smart Guy and a few others hate when I say for the record. They hate that I always italicize it. It has been pointed out to me that it sounds like I’m being bossier or more self-righteous than I should be. Well, hmm… get over it. It’s just a phrase. I like it. It doesn’t mean any of those things, it’s just a talking point: Hey, note this! I mean this one! And sometimes, it is just poking fun at my own self-righteousness. So, I use it and will continue to use it.
I admit the self-deprecating humor gets in the way, and isn’t always accurate. Smart Guy pointed out that at a dinner party recently I should not have been so self-deprecating about my lack of athletic skills. Yeah, but those people were unreal! I
whine argue. They all do Iron Man races; or Cycle across the globe (seriously, very close!); trek in Nepal like it’s a walk on the Interurban, my main source of any exercise; and half the table had been Ski Patrol or Instructors. I barely manage some blue runs. Feh! I felt like the token couch potato. All true points, for the record. But Smart Guy is nothing, if not very smart. “Ok, they were all pretty amazing, but all those jokes just draws more attention to it and set you up as more different than you are. You are very active, just not in the same ways. And not everyone could have done that trek in Peru you just did…” With a torn meniscus, I throw in. “Right. So why make yourself sound lame when you’re not?” Damned Smart Guy, being all smart and stuff. I guess I just grew up in a pretty sarcastic home. I also learned early to wear Teflon whenever possible and I just automatically deflect compliments. Admittedly, I could work on this.
It hasn’t been all serious and sad, for the record. I had a lot of fun with fruit flies (even if the word Fu@#ing assured that it would never be Freshly Pressed), even if they are still driving me nuts in real life. I had a hypothetically great time as a Cougar… and you can just think whatever you want about that. It was goooood. I provided some light reading with my Read Me post… There have been lots of laughs as well. I am not depressed.
To clarify a big one: I am not sitting around my house mourning my mother every day or missing my daughter. Really, I’m not. I’ve written plenty about Huntington’s and my Mom, so I shouldn’t need to clarify those details… but the bottom line is that they are issues that just don’t really go away. My mother’s death is still pretty recent and raw at times, but I have much more closure around it than it may appear. Mourning, is a process. It doesn’t just clear up after a set amount of time. When complicated by her illness which will continue on in our family, the topic pops back up pretty regularly. That said: I miss Mom. Fall is a reminder of last year when everything went downhill faster than I could stand, and some days that’s just what’s on my mind. My daughter… that’s a tad more complicated. I have always been very good about my kids going out in the world and spreading their wings. I’m not the mother who hoped any of them would stay very close by. If they had, I’d enjoy seeing them, but I was totally cool with them flying. That said: Principessa chose a very far away place, where there is a lot of political and military instability (not necessarily in Israel, but all around it) and that just makes a Mom a wee bit uneasy. I think, that also makes me normal… for the moment. I do miss her, I do think about her welfare and wish we weren’t nine hours time difference apart, but I am not sitting at home wistfully thinking of my Mom and my daughter each and every minute of each day. I’m thinking about fruit flies much more often.
For the record, I am indeed working on my novel; it is real. I got it back from the Chicago editor in late July and I’m finally working on it. There is not a lot to fix, but there are some things. The slippery slope is that writers tend to edit and edit and edit… an it never ends. I’m trying not to do too much of that. If I spent the time I spend writing these posts, on the manuscript, I’d be kicking a$$ right now. I am hoping to self-publish, after much debate, self-flagellation, and strong advice from some well respected authors and publishers… I will self-publish and simultaneously market it to “real” publishing houses starting sometime between now and the first of the year. I’m working on building my
“platform,” which is all that stuff that makes me marketable. The more subscribers to my blog, the more hits and comments, the better for my book platform… hence the steady stream of self-promotion. Not easy for a girl who is prone to self-deprecating remarks and self-flagellation… for the record. In the meantime, I am excited to say that I will be featured in another book that will be out before the holidays. That’s all I can (“contractually”) say for now, but I’ve seen the layout and PDF and the book looks wonderful! I’m very excited and honored and will blatantly self-promote it as soon as I can.yes, my posts tend to be long. I get it. I do see that for myself. I try and I try to avoid it, but I just write too much… consistently. It’s been suggested by some other sharp bloggers that I cut them up and write “to be continued…” I haven’t found that to be as easy to do as it sounds. There have been a few record short ones recently (Therapy, Read Me, etc), but I will continue to try and shorten them overall. I will try not to be so hard on myself in my writing, and I’ll try to assure you all that I’m not actually perched on a ledge. I’m much tougher than I sound. So thanks for reading, thanks for all the good feedback, thanks for all the encouragement and kind words… Even if I don’t need them as much as it seems, I am enormously grateful.
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