:: WHY WE BE ::

Boo to false, self-imposed limits, we say. These champion oracles want to live enthusiastically. Follow our trip through projects that challenge, frustrate, and/or scare us. In the end (which is really the middle) we want to live like big bright free and authentically awesome people.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

the girl on my front steps (Patresa)

It's been a strange three weeks. Or rather, *I* have been strange. Strange-er. I will blame it on pregnancy, because that is convenient. Although, really, I think pregnancy is only to blame for rattling my screen until all this latent weird junk materialized on my front porch. Literally (sort of).

I think it's because my body is so out of balance right now. Food, exercise, sleep, altered. As soon as my body goes lopsided, everything else does, too--the mind body soul braid, you know. In this case, raging teenage insecurity surfaced. Why this insecurity would be the thing to pop up, I don't know. Maybe it popped up graciously as a reminder, "Hey, you need to fix this before you have a kid. It screws around with you even when you don't see it."

Originally, I called it--this insecurity--a demon. We all have demons, don't we? But then I had a dream two weeks ago, in which I opened the front door of our house and found my teenage self sitting on the front steps. "What are you doing here?" I said to her, annoyed. I don't remember what she said, if she said anything. I woke up immediately.

It was important. I laid in bed a while thinking about that girl on my steps. I've talked before about the thing I say to myself "Get on off the porch, now," from one of my favorite books, Beloved, by Toni Morrison. The ghost of Sethe's daughter, Beloved, whom she had killed in order to save (in a complicated way), had come back to haunt her. Sethe is finally evicting Beloved when she tells her to get on off the porch. I thought of the girl on my steps--was she a ghost? A demon? I would exorcise her. I would slay her. Eject her. How dare she come back now.

But she was no ghost or demon. She wasn't Beloved. She was a good kid who didn't believe her worth. I recognized her then as a muddled soul needing compassion and clarification. Not exorcism.

I imagined a conversation with her. I explained to her the real reasons behind each of her perceived rejections--she was a lovely girl who didn't believe she was lovely, so she hid; she was a talented girl who didn't believe in her own talent, so she trembled until it was unrecognizable; she was a likable girl who feared she'd be abandoned if she wasn't, so she acquiesced and avoided. It was all brand new information to her, which was enlightening for me. Why had I never done this before--ticked through each of those little hurts and fixed my understanding of them? I hadn't, because I thought they were foolish and too petty to devote any time to. Get over it and move on, pansy. The girl on my porch convinced me that is not the case. Although such hurts are microscopic and meaningless from an adult perspective, they were huge and profound at the time they were experienced. Impressions follow even if the logic behind them loses weight. I'm sure there's not one among us who couldn't recount an adolescent rejection and still feel the cut of it.

I mention this sad sorry tale of woe here [sarcasm] only because it's been needling with my COFFEE goals to write songs and books. I don't remember specifically what my goals for the last 3 weeks were, because I deleted my last post hours after posting it. Why? Because I later learned that through some clumsy writing, it looked like I was saying I wanted to write songs for a living. (That is not what I meant, for the record. I meant I wanted to continue to write songs as a creative outlet. Period. A hobbyist who plays at local coffee shops.) At the point of this realization, the girl on my porch hollered through the door, "You're not good and everybody knows it. They're rolling their eyes at you and think you're a naive little prissy pants! You big fake phony baloney! Go back to your room and sing into your hairbrush!" Delete.

That was a Monday. Thursday it was time for another open mic. I dragged myself there and performed sheepishly. If I could have played my guitar with my hands in my pockets, I would have. But I did it, so at least I'm aware of my own irrationality enough to counteract it. Success.

At any rate, I don't mean to sound like a big poor-me-apalooza. I really don't mean that at all. When I reveal and over-explain crap like this, I honestly just do it because I assume it's universal, I enjoy examining strange phenomena, and I enjoy providing the connection. It's all erroneous thinking. I don't need anyone to tell me I'm amazing and magical. Competent, yes. Jesus Christ incarnate, no. I recognize my insecurities as my own skewed thinking and not reality. I'm fixing it. I actually feel quite a lot better after my talk with the girl on the front steps.

Progress has been made:

1. I signed up for a songwriting workshop for May 7. Next Saturday. It doesn't matter if the girl on the porch calls me a fake phony baloney. If I go as myself, then it will be impossible to be fake about it. Can't fake yourself, Puddin'. So my goal for the next month is… well, to go to that, even if a confused voice in my head calls me a fake phony baloney.

2. I bought a portable digital piano, because it will double my "play-out" set. I'm better on the piano. Now I can haul my own piano around. So my goal for the next month is to write at least 1 more original and 1 more cover on the piano.

3. I have a full set put together for Happy Fest on May 13. Excited and nervous. Optimistic. My goal for the next month is to tell myself at least 5 things that were great about it afterward, and forgive myself immediately for imperfections.

4. I've settled on the novel I'm going to finish and revise. It was the first one I started 10 years ago. Unfortunately, the most recent version is on my old, crashed laptop. The only back-up discs I have are incomplete. My goal for the next month is to take that laptop to the repair shop to get uncrashed and all documents recovered.

5. I do remember that I was going to create a vision board over the last 3 weeks. I didn't do that. So my goal for the next month is to create a vision board.


Tanner May (Tanya) said...

Oh Patresa, I think you are amazing, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE that you right so real and human. I know I use that a LOT... humanity, but I very much believe in us giving ourselves a break (but of course am not so hot at insightful things......). Anyway, you are a creative delight, and I am high fiving you all over the map. I love your BOLD goals, and I applaud you for supporting and nudging the girl on the porch. Rock on you strong, motivated, ambitious, uber-creative creature, you.

(Was all that too much? If so, feel free to delete this as well and just keep this comment: YOU ARE SO COOL!)

amy said...

It is true, Patresa: your body is a roiling mass of irrational-making hormones right now. Pregnant people cannot be held responsible. They simply cannot. I say: go for it, blame away. Pregnancy understands, I promise.

I feel you on the insecurity thing, p. I'm also hyper-aware of it with Melissa, because I have it and I don't want her to have it. Like, I wrestle with: do I have her attend the school I teach at until she's in 5th grade...but then I have to send her to a middle school none of the friends she's made will be at, and middle school is the worst. (It was for me, and I'm imagining all sorts of horror scenarios here.)

And I read so much stuff about this--what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. It can all really be paralyzing. In the end, you kind of just have to go with your heart and your gut (I think).

You're a very reflective person--far more self-aware than most. I don't think any of the fears and worries you have about yourself or incoming Baby H are weird or unusual. I also think that because of your reflective, thoughtful, and (very very) kind (in my personal experience) nature, you and your kid are going to be a-okay. A-okay! Plus, you have a good sense of ironic humor, and this is an absolute must for successful child raising. It is chock full of irony and ironic people, I've found.

Much luck at your May 7 workshop! I hope you have fun and get a thousand good tips on song craft!

So sad I can't be there on Happy Fest. I thought I could do it, but found out I get docked for personal days in May :-(. Poopy work rules. Poopy finances. Poopy poop. But I think you'll do super fabulous, and make a whole bunch of people extra happy and Happy Fest!

And in conclusion: I love vision board making (this reminds me: I should probably revisit the one I made way back in October? November? because clearly: I've fallen off whatever wagon I created when I made mine).

I think you and your teenage self are super fabulous, on the porch or off. :-)

Steph said...

Oh, P.... wouldn't it be so fantastic to be able to go back and heal all those teenage hurts before we had to deal with all the stuff of adulthood?? In the absence of being able to do that, you're doing the next best thing. You're dealing with your stuff so that you might be able to avoid passing it on to your offspring! I think that's AMAZING!
Our teenage selves could learn a thing or twenty from our adult selves... Sure could. I also think our adult selves might just be able to learn a thing or two about life from our teen selves. Huh. Interesting...
I wondered what happened to that last post. Now I know. I don't recall thinking that you sounded like you were chucking the job and hitting the road to write songs for a living, although it has to be said that you certainly could sell your work. It's radio-worthy, P. Sure 'tis.
I SOOOOOOOOOOO hope I get to make Happy Fest. In all sincerity, I can't think of much I'd enjoy more than seeing you play a whole set. Truly. Fingers crossed, girl. FINGERS are CROSSED.
Amy said it better than I ever could: Blame pregnancy. She can take it. FACT.

Tawni said...

I'm going to second, third, or fourth the sentiment that you *do* get to blame a LOT on pregnancy. Give it credit for the strong effect it's having on you physically and emotionally (that braid). Hormones are crazy-powerful. I experienced my first bout of non-situational depression postpartum, and was completely taken aback by the power of my body over my emotions. Freaky. But it sounds like you are handling the changes really well to me. I've been reading every one of your pregnancy blog updates, and they remind me so much of the things I was going through during my pregnancy. I've even read parts out loud to my husband, like, "Remember when I was in that phase of pregnancy and feeling/doing the same thing?" :)

I now tell myself to "Get on off the porch," because of your writing, just so you know. I love that. It's in my head. I am also really impressed with your ability to analyze yourself so effectively. You seem to know yourself so much better than I ever feel like I know myself. I would probably just be like, "That was a weird dream. Huh. Well, where's my morning coffee?" Haha.

It's so cool that you play piano too. I think it is so awesome that you're adding that to your set. Great idea! And I can't wait to read your novel. You are one of my favorite writerly voices ever, in all seriousness. If you write it, it will get published. Of this I have no doubt.

I want to make a vision board too. I need a daily visual reminder of what I want to do with my scattered life. I think that might really help. And I need help! :)

Good stuff, P. Hang in there with the pregnancy-induced issues. It will be over before you know it, only to be replaced with so much love and goodness. You're going to be such a great mother. xoxo.