I’ve decided I’m going to write and self publish some books. Possibly some serialized fiction, definitely with some “erotica” in it. Before you barf, hear me out. I don’t know if it’s because I’m 43 or because I started working out 7 months ago, but I feel very connected to a sensual part of myself. Over the summer, several of my posts here wandered into sexytimes territory, but I never went all the way because it seemed an unfair thing to spring on my readers. You come here expecting some wry observations about teaching, parenting, marriage, and blogging only to be hit in the face with a load of middle-age lady porn. It just isn’t polite.
Work is overwhelming, as always. Odie and I have our ups and downs like all married couples. I love him so much and sometimes I find myself full of angst, worrying if he still loves me. My insecurities are all up in my face the past 10 months to a year. Aging is a big part of it. Meeting new people and thinking of them as my peers only to discover that they see me as part of an “older generation” is part of it. Who the fuck knows is part of it.
I have a friend who is insanely confident. Some might say unjustifiably so, but I didn’t say it. To a male friend, I said, “If you took X’s bewildering self-regard and combined it with my crippling insecurity, you might have a completely normal person.” He replied, “What the heck are you insecure about?” I think it was the sweetest thing he’s ever said to me. Or maybe anyone’s ever said to me. I may have cried a little bit. I’m soft like that.
I always want to be a better teacher, but I hate the part of teaching where you have to grade papers and maintain a gradebook and report grades. Unfortunately, that’s the only part of the teaching/learning scenario students and parents care about (with exceptions of course), thus I’m always struggling to please students and parents.
They never say, “What an amazing learning experience you gave me today, Mrs. Odie! I was completely aware of how I made meaning out of the text and what I did when I came across a stumbling block! I was then able to articulate those thoughts to my reading partner, and we had an engaging and enlightening discussion about our reading and the text!”
Oh, what a fantasy! Nope. It goes like this: “Did you grade our papers? What’s my grade? How can I get a better grade?” Grade, grade, grade. I’m so sick of this obsession with grade. I honestly think the “online gradebook” phenomenon has made it worse and there’s no end in sight.
After 8 years of marriage, I’ve almost convinced Odie that we’re never going to be the kind of people who keep a neat, orderly household. In consequence, I’m working on getting him to admit we need a housekeeper. His argument is “While we haven’t managed to save enough money to get through the summer, it seems ridiculous to pay someone else to do what we should be doing ourselves.”
Should, should, should. There he goes shoulding all over me again. Whether or not we “should” scrub out our bathtubs and vacuum the carpet, the fact is that we don’t do it. I guess his belief that we will somehow become “cleaning people” is the triumph of hope over experience.
As for the writing, I plan to sell it on the cheap. I’ll let you know when it’s available. It will be on Amazon on the Kindle platform. I will also be writing some “bloggish” stuff. I have some “Mrs. Odie origin stories” I’ve never written because even though it’s under a pseudonym, it’s the kind of thing I don’t want on the internet. I also can’t write about my teaching as much as I’d like, so I will do that too. I’m not going to stop blogging and I’m not going to spend all of my blog time pushing my for sale stuff. Promise.
But I will be honest with you. I want to make some money. I love to write. I am grateful for the success I’ve had and for the readers I’ve acquired. I love those emails I get from you guys telling me you miss me and you wish I’d write something. The ones with penis pictures I could live without.
Totally kidding. Thank God.
My Sister the Therapist and I were talking after our exercise class today, and we agreed that young people need their parents to be excited about their dreams. We need them to want that for us. I dreamed of writing books all of my life. My grandmother told me my stories were stupid. I loved her, and I know that she didn’t intentionally crush me, but she told me, “That was the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. Where the hell did you get that idea?” I was only 10. It probably was a stupid idea. But I think my writing career would be far more successful and satisfying if she’d just lied and said, “You’re a beautiful writer, Mo. I can’t wait to read more.”
Dad wasn’t mean. He was just discouraging under the guise of being realistic. “So, you want to be a writer? Guess what? So does everybody. You’d be competing with the whole world. Better to find a job that pays the bills. Something you can stand to do.” I did that. And it never made me happy.
Every day, I write. I write in my journal with my favorite pen. I scribble a mixture of fiction, nonfiction, grocery lists, exercise plans, lesson plans, and prayers. I always do it with a tiny bit of fear of rejection.
That’s bullshit. I do it with a crushing fear of rejection. But I’ll tell you something, and I think this happens to all mothers of daughters. I’m watching them grow up and become beautiful little girls. My oldest, Viva is long-limbed and skinny with thick, wild, lustrous hair. She is going to be striking. My youngest, Pringles, is blonde, big-eyed, and pretty. They will replace me. I will go places with them when they are young teenagers and then women in their twenties and no one will be able to see me anymore. In a very Oedipal way, they will murder me and take my place. My time is short, and I’ve pissed it away for years worrying and fretting over the insecurities that were accidentally put in place by adults who didn’t know any better. I can keep doing that. Maybe I will keep doing that. But now that I’ve made it conscious, if I don’t write my books and offer them for sale, it’s a choice I made to be fearful instead of brave. To be lazy instead of committed. To lie down and die without ever really living.
I have a friend who insists that his pseudonym be “Argus, Slayer of Hypocrites.” I’ll call him Ash. I had a fight with Ash about Thoreau. I read Walden and thought Henry-D was kind of a dick. The bastard can turn a phrase, though. Ash would pack up for Walden and go live Thoreau’s life tonight, and didn’t appreciate the New Yorker article denigrating his hero. My Sister the Therapist (MST = Mist = Misty), Misty said that the article made a lot of good points about HDT, but she found something to defend.
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” That one is definitely a keeper, she said.
And she’s absolutely right.