“You see, we may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. It may even be necessary to encounter the defeat, so that we can know who we are. So that we can see, oh, that happened, and I rose. I did get knocked down flat in front of the whole world, and I rose. I didn’t run away – I rose right where I’d been knocked down. And then that’s how you get to know yourself. You say, hmm, I can get up! I have enough of life in me to make somebody jealous enough to want to knock me down. I have so much courage in me that I have the effrontery, the incredible gall to stand up. That’s it. That’s how you get to know who you are.” — Maya Angelou
Category Archives: writing
I wrote this piece, and posted it, to my private Facebook profile on Feb. 1st, 2016.
Writing about family is tough for me. I’m never sure what’s really gonna come out. Sharing it is difficult, but I think I’m ready now.
I’ve had some memorable concerts. This one’s up there with Voodoo Lounge in ’94.
Rock ‘n’ roll.
~ ~ ~
We had KISS tickets. I think T worked her concert mojo and won the ticket seller’s lottery because she had come out with four seats not only in the same section, but RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. That’s rare.
It was done. We needed to prepare. We headed for the joke/magic shop.
The old dude behind the counter was rather awesome. While I was browsing the rubber chickens, Whoopee cushions, dirty dice, and playing cards, the others were picking out various makeup containers in shades of silver and black. The silver glitter was an afterthought from the old man. He got us. Like attracts like. We took our loot and headed home.
Hungry but too excited to eat. We painted our faces and dressed in our blackest finery. I wore my silver sequin tube top and black vinyl pants. If I had a tail, I don’t remember it. Erik wore the Demon face, Marci had the Starchild, T and I were both Ace. If I’d been a little more sure of my skills, I’d have worn the Cat makeup. No time for regret! But… regret.
Sunset. Time to roll. We filed out to the hoopti, garnering strange looks from the nieghborhood kids. They knew we were odd, but they hadn’t known just how much. They still don’t.
Flying through the darkened streets, tunes blasting, we arrived at the parking garage more or less in character; a state of mind that crystallized when T found herself on the wrong floor. First she was next to us waiting for the elevator, then somehow we were up, and she was one floor below. “Goddammit, Ace!” Then we went down and she was up. I’m still not sure how she pulled that trick off–hell, there was only one elevator on that side.
We were on the right track. Rock n roll, baby.
After extricating ourselves from the garage with much laughter, we head into the venue. Our silver makeup glinted in the light. My sequins made me feel like a disco ball. We bought one concert tee forever known after as “The KISS shirt”. I did a quick change on the escalator. The disco ball was feeling vulnerable showing so much skin.
We find our section and show our tickets to the usher. They call another usher over. They look at the tix again and murmur amongst themselves, casting quick glances at us. They say, “This way,” and we follow. Up, down, up, round and through half a stadium and some parted curtains into… box seats. The swanky seats the rich snots usually sit in. We sit. We look around. We see a sea of Aces and Peters and helluva lot of Genes and Pauls. They look good. We look better. The old man’s brainstorm on the silver glitter was genius.
The Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ was playing low throughout the place. It was five minutes in before I even registered it. The crowd was getting rowdy. T and I started waving at everyone, cheering them. The crowd got rowdier. The song got louder. We waved more.
And then… “Yeeeeaaaahhhhh! Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”
The crowd goes wild!
And then the lights went down.
Showtime. The smoke. The boots. The codpiece. My eyes. Dat bass. The shattered mirror guitar. The sunburst. The swagger and the blood, the synchronized guitar and headbang. Ace’s perpetual slur. The spectacle, indeed. It was everything that had been promised, and it was good.
It was only after we sat sprawled, exhausted, into our seats that we looked up and saw the video cameras filming the crowd, us included.
That was a good night. Hope you enjoyed the view, boys. You’ll never get that again.
When you can dig deep to uncover that stinging level of honesty, people will relate to your authenticity. So stop being scared and write the hard stuff. Fiction or nonfiction, it doesn’t matter.
Accept now, before you even start, that some people will hate it. Then again, some will love it. Write for the lovers.
Strip yourself naked, bare your soul, and be brave.
For most people I talk to, when I tell them I have an anxiety disorder, they nod their head and tell me it’ll be okay. When I tell them, “I’m sorry, I’m having a bad anxiety day, can we reschedule?” They smile and tell me there’s nothing to worry about and if I just get out of bed, I’ll see that everything is fine. When I don’t want to go bar hopping because I know that alcohol only increases my anxious tendencies I hear, “You’re fine. It’ll be fun. Let off some steam!”
Meanwhile, my heart is pounding so fast that I’m afraid it may be visibly beating out of my chest. But it isn’t. My head isn’t actually spinning in circles. My eyes are not crossed like my blurred vision indicates. My knees aren’t wobbling along with the trembling muscles fighting the urge to collapse. My face isn’t pale and my eyes aren’t bloodshot. No, on the outside, I look like I do every day. My hair is clean. My clothes match. I am awake, alive and breathing fine. So nothing is wrong, right?
That’s the thing about anxiety disorders. We look fine. Of course, we look fine. Our legs aren’t broken. Our tongues haven’t been cut out. We aren’t cut or bruised. Because anxiety is not a physical disability. That however, does not make it any less debilitating.
Anxiety is a complex disorder and it is nothing to simply smile and nod away. You telling us everything is okay not only doesn’t help us, but it hurts us more because nobody seems to take it seriously.
So here are some things I would like you to know about struggling with anxiety.
It is not constant.
There are days when I can make it through without having to stop and breathe or pop a Xanax. I can smile and laugh. I can be productive and go to work, go out to dinner, go see a movie with my friends. And trust me, I know how difficult it is to understand how I can be fine one day and the next, not be able to get out of bed. That’s just how it is.
Which leads me to my next point:
It comes in waves.
Anxiety is a strange beast. It will let me have some fun for a couple of days and I think, hmm maybe it’s finally left me alone. Then a few days go by, and I wake up one morning unable to even think straight because for whatever reason, the beast has once again emerged and there is nothing I can do to stop it from coming because I have woken up to it sitting on my chest smiling as if I’m welcoming it home.
It can be completely paralyzing.
I don’t know if this one applies to everyone, but I know it is a very big piece of my anxiety disorder. When anxiety hits, I am frozen. I can get up and go through the motions of my day but my brain is elsewhere, held captive by whatever “demon” is inhabiting me this time. I cannot think about anything except my inability to think or breathe or feel. Let that one sink in. My brain feels like it is literally paralyzed, as if it is stuck in some kind of limbo with no doors or windows or exits of any kind.
The worst part? I’m completely alone in there.
It can ruin relationships.
Not just romantic relationships, but a relationship of any kind. Friendships and relationships alike can be destroyed by this condition. I have experienced both, and it is the most devastating kind of loss. Why? Because it is not our fault.
It is a disorder that, without the knowledge of how to care for it properly, can explode over time. Eventually, it can become too much for someone else to carry around with them. If they become close enough to you to experience firsthand the effects of your anxiety, it can become too much for them and they might sever the ties for their own mental health. And it hurts like hell.
But I can’t blame them because if I could choose to stay as far away from anxiety as they can, I would in a heartbeat.
It can make trust nearly impossible.
I know it sounds awful to blame trust issues on anxiety but in all honestly, it’s not placing blame, it’s placing responsibility. Anxiety almost never fails to make you think the worst of every situation.
If someone doesn’t answer my text, well then that’s it, they no longer like me. If someone doesn’t text me first, they don’t think about me. Someone is busy? Forget it. They just have better things to do with their time than spend it with me. I sound ridiculous, right? Welcome to the anxiety life. We do not have cookies, sorry, but can I interest you in crippling loneliness at a table for one? No? Didn’t think so.
I do not want this.
. . .
I will overcome it.
But it will take time. Fighting anxiety can be a never-ending battle with frequent slip ups and breakdowns along the way. I am still in the process personally, and it is not easy. At all. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life. And I have been through a lot. Anxiety however, takes the cake.
Note: I tried to keep it short, to not actually use all the article’s text, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut more out. Every word of it needs to be said, and read, by as many people as possible. Understanding is everything.
Here’s the thing about inner conflict: it’s the heart of everything. It’s the recognition that you are your best friend and your worst enemy. It’s the battle between what was, what is and what will be. It’s the ultimate choosing of right and wrong, of what feeds you or what sucks your soul dry. It’s grabbing your childhood by the throat and saying “enough already!” It’s learning how to take all those chronic character flaws and turn them in your favor. It’s recognizing that there are certain things that you will never change about yourself.
. . .
I’m putting a spin on my forties, when I decided I’d become a martial artist, super mom, Japanese ink painter, personal trainer, officer of the law, marathoner, web genius, everywhere volunteer and organic vegan superfreak. It was all research for writing. It sounds so much better than a midlife panic.
And something about working in a notebook frees me up to make this mess without worry or guilt. I can’t explain why exactly. I’ve tried to see if there’s a scientific basis that connects working longhand with uncritical creativity, but evidence for that notion seems pretty scant. The actual work of shaping letters one by one, though, seems to turn off the part of my mind that hesitates and likes to second guess. My conscious mind kind of goes away. I think it helps that I know my notebook is just for me, a private thing, almost like a diary. The work becomes a recorded daydream.
Read the entire piece at Joe Hill’s Thrills | Scribble Scribble.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow’d to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
“Just the other day, I was in my neighborhood Starbucks, waiting for the post office to open. I was enjoying a chocolatey cafe mocha when it occurred to me that to drink a mocha is to gulp down the entire history of the New World. From the Spanish exportation of Aztec cacao, and the Dutch invention of the chemical process for making cocoa, on down to the capitalist empire of Hershey, PA, and the lifestyle marketing of Seattle’s Starbucks, the modern mocha is a bittersweet concoction of imperialism, genocide, invention, and consumerism served with whipped cream on top.”
This! This right here! I finally leave mum’s house, meet a wonderful man and move in together to start our new life, and I settle into my new life and happiness
PANIC SETS IN because one of my sisters can’t get her shit together and yells at me about it on the phone. Because my mother will always see me as her baby girl and not the woman I’ve grown up to be MORE THAN 12 YEARS AGO. Because three moves, falling in love, and starting my own family wasn’t stressful enough. Because of so much family shit packed into 30 LOOOONG years I am a fucking nervous wreck.
I am not your therapist, nor am I your journal/diary. Do not call to complain about things I cannot control because all it fucking does is make me PANIC. You (plural “you’) ALL know I suffer from panic attacks and fucking ptsd so you best remember this: If you want to continue to be in my life in any meaningful way, then you will restrain yourself (plural again) and be civil in every last one of our fucking communications or, I swear to you, there will be no further communication between you and I. I will answer your calls again, but if/once they turn for the worse, then the call is over.
I don’t know if this is a form of Tough Love, and I don’t really care. All I know is this is now affecting my health very seriously. And if my family, my literal flesh and blood, can’t bring themselves to care, then so be it. I will always love you, even though you never believe it. But I will not die for you. I will not lose my sanity for you.
I am shaking so bad right now. I’m ready to cry again. Fuck. Fuck this shit. I need chocolate.