Little Letters: April 10, 2017

In my previous blog persona, ‘Love2Bloom’, I was a happy, positive, chipper, maybe and entirely true at the time, “goody-two-shoes”.  I honestly think that my always looking on the brighter side of things annoyed most people, because most I think, thought it fake. Yet, at the time I was writing ‘Love2Bloom’, I was for the most part a truly happy, positive, chipper, goody-two-shoes.

But people change.

Things happen to them that makes them change, whether that be something sad, like failure, loss, hurt, theft, gossip or something very good, like the realization that one’s self-worth is tied, not to the opinion of others, but to being who you truly are meant to be and loved and valued for being:  the “I Am” reflection of the person as they reflect their Lord, warts and all.

For me that meant cursing the way I cursed in private and letting my anger, disappointment, and generally frayed and harried edges show.  Somewhere along the road, I had picked up the idea that letting loose an F-bomb, scowling at others once in a while, crying out in the town square that, ‘The Emperor and Empress are indeed standing on their pedestals, naked’,  and sometimes having a bad mood, a bad day, a bad life and not being ever cheery about every damn day and every damn moment would make me less worthy, less put together, less included, less able in the eyes of others.  Still more important than what others thought of me, was the notion that if I let the surly, cursing, stay at home wife and mother who appeared to have it all, out,  I would be somehow less lovable by Christ and less worthy of redemption.

Yes, I know that Christ loves the sinner and all that, but somewhere along the pit stops of my particular journey which included, but certainly were not limited to: the church pews, the community parish meetings, the PTA meetings, the bake-sales, the carnivals, the fish fry dinners, the bible study groups, 8 am mass, and the stations of the cross, I thought I would be unlovable by Christ if I didn’t act in the same way that all the smiling, ever gracious, ever noble, ever giving Christian women, at church, in the school waiting line, at the market, or at the neighborhood Starbucks and especially on social media, where it seemed to me, so many women were bible journaling their hearts happy , quoting bible verses easily, and decorating their home mantels with perfect family portraits, sculptures of angels, and big block lit up letters that spelled, ‘Peace’ and ‘Joy’,

It wasn’t that my faith in God was false.  I see that now.  God as the center of my life was never the problem. What was false was my way of showing my faith, because it wasn’t faith in God that was on display, it was fear.

Fear of not fitting in.  Fear of not being one worthy of fitting into one of the church groups or being one of the church ladies. Fear of doing something wrong that would irrevocably send me and my soul hurling down to hell, damnation and a fiery, crispy end.

Funny thing was that I never did fit in.  Never was I fully embraced by my local church community,  but they sure did take my hours of service that I offered to them. Took it they did.  Yes, they could see a desperate soul and they were at the ready to take me for all I had. They used me. Let me say that again, they used me.

But, God did not.

I see now that all that nonsense about God, the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, not loving me or finding me not worthy that I felt if I didn’t meet some standard of someone’s made up definition of virtue and piety was false.  Actually, it was a ploy on my part to keep myself diminished, small, scared and in a dark place, that though confining, I found safe.

But spaces, real ones or the ones in our heads, are never sanctuaries.  They may provide us with comfort and safe haven for awhile but they are only temporary because we can not dwell among their four walls forever, shut out, faking our safety and wellness and agency.  Smiling all along, all along, all along.

I must be who I am and if that be a cursing, angry, fist raising individual driving back the ‘Romans’ in my head or on the streets (these days, it’s so hard to make the distinction) who still and above it all believes in the power of love, which it turns out is my higher power – God the Father, then that is who I must be.  And so I wrote,

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One last thing, this was supposed to be a short post.  Believe it or not. I chose this particular poem thinking that my remembrances back to why I wrote it, would be short and not complex. Then I started writing and well, like all things thought small and innocuous, lies, the unhealed wound and the possibility for a cure.

– Mona

 

Little Letters: Monday, 3/27/17

Good start of the week to all.  Here I am in front of my laptop, writing. Writing a blog post and not the next great novel, but I am writing and I’m taking that as an inch forward.

The poem I selected to look back on for today’s post, was written very early on in my Instagram poem sharing experiment, one or maybe two years ago.

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I wrote this poem at Occidental College sitting behind an iron fence, on a dark green bench, looking out at the school’s track, while waiting for my daughter’s track meet to begin.  I would arrive, purposefully, very early to all her meets. At least 2 hours because I liked the quiet of that campus, the trees, the benches, especially the view of the track, with its burnt rust colored track, large green expanse, hearing the chinkclinkclack of the hurdles being set up, the grass being mowed, the sprinklers.

It took me back in time to when I ran round and round on college tracks. The hard pain of sucking in air through lungs that burned, face solid and expressionless  while one’s legs churned through runner paces of quick, light, powered pushes of speed.  It almost felt, at times, that I would lift off, take off, go up and away. That feeling, alone, is why I ran.

At the track, eighteen year old me was an embarrassment to my close-knit, glamorous, female centered family.  I sweated. I smelled. My hair was in disarray. I breathed heavy. I looked like dust.

They never came to see. Tracks aren’t shopping malls with cute boys, fried fast foods, and plastic containers of sparkly goop and gob. My female cousins.  They ignored my accomplishments.  Treated them and me like they never existed, taking my mother along, sometimes, with their beliefs that I was “odd”, “fast”, “ugly”, a “loser”, a “partier”, “selfish” for going away to college and the list goes on and on and on.

One day she came. She escaped her close-knit and clannish ways. She got in her car and drove down the 405. She showed up. All made up. All fancy in her beautifully matched outfit, coiffed hair, perfumed heavily, and wearing a bright pink lipstick.

In addition to the glitter that was my mother, I remember she stood up the entire time I ran.  I saw her through the corner of my eye, as I turned each corner of the track, as my legs churned through, lungs burning, as I took flight and was out and up and away.

After, I went to her in the stands. Climbed up the stairs. Folks around her were congratulating her. Fawning over her. Saying this and that. More that, than this, to be honest.  I reached her, tapped her on her shoulder, as her back was to me facing her audience and  she hugged and kissed me, squeezing me back down to her atmosphere of make-up, matched outfits, combed through hair and perfumed air. My lungs burned more. My eyes welled up as I watched her eyes darting around to see if anyone was watching her actions. Always playing to the audience. Playing. Pretending. Wishing. Dreaming.

But the burning of lungs, the almost flight was real, ma.  I don’t have to wish for it. I am.I am. I am.

My flume of escape went far beyond the smeared pink lipstick stain left on my cheek that day in the stands at the track.

That’s what I thought about as I wrote and worked on the above poem, waiting for my daughter’s own track meet.  No plastic pink lukewarm smear shows of supposed female solidarity from me to her, for sure.  Just a loud-mouthed cheering fool who remembers. what I remembered.  And so, I wrote.

– Mona

Biting the Bullet

It always seems like I’m always planning my life in the newest planner instead of doing life. Buying the newest one with its cute stickers, sparkly bookmarks and page clips always holds the promise for me that life is about to get grand and my dreams are about to be reached. Inspirational quotes abound from Edith Stein to Jesus Christ himself, in these planners of mine and  I find myself filling pre-made, perfectly drawn weekly squares with words of inspo.

And then it happens. 

Nothing happens.

 I find myself still writing the novel. Still re-editing that short story. Still grappling over tone of that poem about the Port cranes. The floors are grubby and pock-marked, the grass needs to be cut, the bathroom smells like mold and on and on and on. Life doesn’t get grand and dreams are not reached because of a shiny new planner. I end up feeling less like the #BossBabe and more like, well, shit.

Life seen through a glossy plastic planner just gets busier and cluttered with more appointments, events, tasks upon tasks upon tasks interspersed with all the pretty drawings and curly swirling letters reminding me that we are at the end of March, and April needs to be planned out and yes, busy one, we are nearing, in three months time,  the half-way mark for 2017.

And in 6 months time, my only child will be entering her senior year of high school and in a year, she will decide on what college she will attend and in that same year, she’ll be gone from my house, starting her own adventure of planning and living her own life. A part of me will be happy for her. I will be proud. And yet, another part will be scared to death for her and for me. Mostly, for me because what am I if not this other person’s active mother/friend planning life for them and us, spinning a web of “fun, educational, and memorable life experiences” for us to remember for a lifetime. What am I without the role of planner?

Until then, I often ask myself, feigning exasperation, “Can I stop all this planning and organizing and just get to the business of life and living? ” If I’m to be honest, I have to admit to the possibility that maybe I don’t want to stop planning.  I like feeling caught up in this whirlwind of family, dinner, house chores, hobbies, cleaning, gardening, driving here, driving there, working out, writing, blogging, and making things because it makes me feel real, full, significant.

I don’t even know if I can live without having a plan, anymore.  Free-wheeling the day is a shocking proposal. What? Just do and just be. WTF!!!! But, I know that one day, that is what I’ll be, another old lady in my small town without a need for a plan and that scares the living crap out of me.

Without a plan my house will definitely go to hell. The bathroom and kitchen and laundry will not get picked up, cleaned up and get done.  I need to write those things down if they even stand a chance at completion because if left to my own devices, the less savory tasks of life, like deep cleaning a toilet or sorting and washing dirty and smelly gym wear will not get done. They will sit and be. Would that be a good thing? I can’t even remember.

Then there’s my writing. Yes, let’s mention my writing. That little albatross I’ve been carrying around my neck for the past 30 years is in definite need of a task list. So, there it is. Once again that dream of mine that needs a plan is in my sight.  I can see it. Yes, I can! It’s there within grasp if only I had a plan.  That’s exactly what I need. A plan. First, though I will need a planner to put that plan in. 

This time though I’m eschewing the fancy leather bound, sticker filled, glitter #bossbabe expandable filofax. This time, I’m going for a simpler, more handmade planner that feels more authentic, more transparent, more pointed… A Bullet Journal.  Yes , that’s my new planner for the real me, with hands clenched and wide smile, says the whirling dervish as she  bites the bullet and drives herself to Office Depot for a new set of Flair Tropical Colored Pens.

I’ve got a plan.

– Mona

 

Why Can’t I Just Finish a Story?

Okay, here’s the story. I am one of those sad little writers who has been writing something that she just can’t seem to finish.  My problem is that I get distracted and start writing something else and then before you know it, I have two started but unfinished written works. And then, what do you know, I get another rad and bad idea, start working on that and yep, you guessed it by mid-year, I have 3 unfinished projects. That little nightmare of a carnival ride just goes on and on. And I let it.  Crazy making for sure and not too good for the self-esteem having all these unfinished projects just hovering about.

A friend suggested that if my work was engaging to begin with I wouldn’t get distracted and I would finish the piece. With friends like that, you see why I prefer being a recluse. Who needs the fucking negativity and feeding of self-doubt?, I ask myself.  I’m better off alone in the company of my stories, my characters, my plot devices with only my brooding poems to break up the monotony when needed. I write alone, she says with false bravado.

But why can’t I finish a story? Are the stories truly not engaging enough? Am I not that dedicated to my craft? Am I just not that talented of a writer that I think I am?  Damn those university professors who told me that I had a story to write. What is the answer. All of the above, or half of the above? Who the hell knows at this point.

What I do know is that I have to just finish one piece, one story, one more chapter, one more draft. Just get on with the damn business of writing and write the goddamn stories and be done with it.  At this point they don’t even have to get published, be liked, or be read.  I just want to finish one story and move the strap around my neck to a more comfortable hold.

Finish a story.  Okay.  Just that. Just. That. That. That. That.

– Mona

The Typewriter

This typewriter, a Royal, used to belong to my mom who was born in Venice, California in 1935. She used it when she was a student at Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, California. She wanted to be a secretary but somehow that never happened. Instead, after she graduated from high school, she took a job at Max Factor factory in Los Angeles labeling lipstick tubes.

While I was growing up she would sometimes take her typewriter out and practice her typing speed. Taptaptapratatatattaptattap. So fast. I thought my mom was awesome because she could make words appear on a sheet of paper so fast, like lightening.

When I was in middle school and high school, I used this typewriter to write my school papers on and I used it to fill out my college applications. Eventually, my mom let me borrow it and I took it with me to the university.

I only used it for one school quarter to write my college essays. The next school quarter the student computer center opened and I returned the typewriter back to my mom. She put it away, way back in her closet, behind the red lace party dress of 1955 she still kept, my grandmother’s fur trimmed wool coat and the orange tweed coat she wore on her drive in the early morning to mass at church.

And there this old Royal typewriter stayed, until a year ago, when she called me and said she was throwing out some old stuff and would I like the typewriter. I asked her why she wanted to toss it and she said it reminded her of all the things she had wanted to do and never could do. She wanted it gone so she could go on.

I rescued my mom’s typewriter from the junk pile, brought it back home with me and now I think this old Royal will be a reminder to me, not the albatross it was for my mom, but a reminder to rescue myself, to write and to write and to write some more.

Rat a tat tat tap tap tap.

– Mona