Friday, February 22, 2013

The Bitch is Back

Elton John and I have always had a lot in common: an uncanny ability to find the loudest accessories the most appropriate, the urge to break into songs that we've composed (sometimes songs entirely about our cats)(okay, that one is mostly all me), and the smug assurance that Madonna isn't nearly as awesome as we are. Because she's not.

Also, we both identify with the blog title - Elton, sure, because it's one of his songs, technically. Me? That's pretty obvious, Readers in Sri Lanka, keep up here, I can't do all the work for you.

We should totally be friends; just so I could mangle my way through Be-be-be-benny and the JETSSSS, as friends do.

I mean, you can see how we connect, right?


You see, readers and weird internet bot creatures, I've been missing for awhile. I've spent a lot of time wandering the dusty metaphorical streets of my own personal early mid-life crisis. I've called The Man at work and cried and raved about how if he were hit by a BUS for the love of God, what would I dooooooo? I have nothing! NOTHING! I am a woman of education, by golly, and here I am, checking fabric softener levels before sorting my whites.

The shame, it scorches.

I talked with all sorts of people. The Usual Suspects = My BFFIC, my semi-pro Life Coach T. Jo, K. Jo (who will now have to be renamed thanks to her changing her married name or what have you), my partner in crime and soul sista-in-law, my mom, and of course The Man. Also, for purely intelligent reasons, my very accomplished therapist, because WHY the hell not?

I've thought and thought and had some Coke Zero and thought some more. I did what your mother always told you to do when you're facing some tough life decisions: I made a tattoo appointment. I'm going places, doing things, obviously.

This is what we've learned, Readers, if we (and by we, I mean the royal plural. Elizabeth I and I have lots in common. Pale skin. The royal plural. Not liking anyone bossin' us. A love of literature and the arts.) have learned anything:

1. I Am A Writer.

I do not, actually, like editing. A very, very kind friend from the good old bygone days of Your Favorite Writer's youth had put me in touch with a company and I did freelance work for them for about six months. At first, it was novel. (No pun intended, but...damn.) It was work and it was a learning experience. I learned that I don't like it.

First off, we're not talking about editing Dennis Lehane or John Connolly or Lee Burke or Lee Child. We're talking about books that people might get their moms to read...maybe. If their moms even like them. Frankly, if my grown child wrote a book like the ones I read? I might have to "drop" it in the tub, then dry it off, then burn it, then accidentally throw the ashes into the pond during a moonlight ritual meant to clean the world of such drivel.

Even assuming that the writing itself was stellar (note: emphatically NOT), I just cannot spend my days arguing the finer points of fucking comma usage. Funny aside, and by funny I mean actually "boom, I fucking win" = I received helpful email after helpful email from one person, painstakingly explaining comma usage in particular settings. Right. Sure. I made notes. Then? I read the newest best-seller by John Connolly (The Wrath of Angels for anyone curious) and saw commas all over the place that would have driven this person mad with technically-wrong-yet-stylistically-pleasing-comma rage. And we're talking a book edited by someone who makes more working for this major house than you, me, and the cost of Elton John's feather boa combined.

A way, way better editor than I am, by the way, let stuff stand and/or added it, just the way I would have. That's comforting. What's more comforting is the knowledge I gained:

I'm a writer. Most writers can edit, not all editors can write. Stick with what you love and what you do, Readers.

I am a WRITER first... and an editor, possibly, after all the other awesome things I am. Editing is fine if you like it. I think it blows hardcore. It's an interesting challenge if it's just one part of your day, but your ENTIRE day? Fuck. Go jogging, it's less painful. Go jogging on cracking shins that jolt you with the agony of your own calcium density problems. Still better. Go... Well, you get the idea. It BLOWS.

2. I Don't Have to Have a Plan

Now, you know that lists soothe me and my inner savage beast. (For the record, the quote about music is actually "savage breast" - you're welcome. I have an inner savage beast, and now we're clear.) The thing about list-making is that it generally helps Type A people get shit done. And that's what we like! The problem is when your list looks something like this:

a. Choose awesome career path now that your children are in school.
b. Do awesome career.
c. Be super fulfilled!

Yeah, about that list. NOT helpful. That just leads us to cry in the shower and shout unintelligibly at the cats when they look concerned. Or hungry. Note: cats do not trifle in human life struggles of the inner kind.

So, I thought about it and talked to people. I thought about the goals I'd had when I was young and shone brightly with untapped potential. And when I got more sleep, and didn't have small children demanding every ounce of my energy to settle television timeshare disputes.

Why, I even met with one enterprising woman. A career woman who shared the same undergrad degree as Your Favorite Writer. A lawyer, ladies and gentlemen. Fancy! She was very helpful and kind. She has a nice office and I like her coffee maker too. I'll also add she has excellent taste in music, because we've gone to the same concerts.

I still don't know if I actually want to be a lawyer. I may, or I may not. But she answered some questions for me that only a lawyer would know, and had a nice cup from Starbucks while I was at it. I learned something.

I also, ahem, got a job working as an Admin/Legal Assistant in a law firm. It's interesting, and even if I never go to law school, I'm doing something; I can see a lot of potential and possible growth in other areas. And, I'm a notary now, so I'll get to stamp stuff. That's right. I will have a stamper!

The main point though of #2 is the one I credit to my mom. She asked me, boldly (as she does), "Sam, did you think I had a plan when I went back to work? No! I knew the hours were good for when you guys were in school, and it got me out of the house and into the world."

My mom, it should be noted duly, is a total badass. She's in her early 60s, ravishing, and fantastic. She has her business degree in accounting and finance, and decided that she liked people more than numbers. She stayed home with me and my brother for about...oh...(oddly enough) eight mildly-soul-crushing years. Then she worked part-time delivering packages at FedEx. I know, right? She loved it. She was in crazy good health from running all over the place. She loved talking to people and having a challenge.

Then, she went and got a job as a commercial insurance rep for a major company. She worked there, and did really well, until her recent early retirement. Now, she works part-time in a credit union because she likes to be around people. There was no plan, per se. She went one way at one time, and found her way. She reminded me that it's OKAY not to plan each and every thing and have things happen just so.

That's hard for me. I like to set things up and then conquer them. I, just like Hannibel on the A-Team, love it when a plan comes together.

So I'm just making choices right now, and letting things unfold. In short, I'm letting go of what I can. I cannot plan everything. I can always make different choices if things aren't working. Inspired yet? I'll let you know when my book comes out.

Still beats reading anything written by this guy:

 3. I Know Who I Am

At base, I know who I am. Now, this may surprise you, or not, but I'm really not as conservative as I look. Believe it. If I'm dressed and prepped, you may mistake me for a very cheerful drug company rep. Maybe even someone sampling her own wares of Xanax. Unless I sold urology drugs. Then, not so much with the sampling. I look very shiny and wholesome and fancy. As you may have guessed though, this is really a story of books and their covers.

Outwardly, I'm the pharm lady. Inwardly, I'm a rock star. I actually should be on the tour bus (what tour? Not fucking Taylor Swift's) and helping change awkward rhyme schemes in famous rock songs. Also: Not fucking Taylor Swift's. There is no help for them.

I'm still 17-year-old-Sammo on the inside. Where it counts. Sure, I have more children and life responsibilities, but when it comes down to it? I'm the person who was THRILLED with her Valentine's gift. Satellite radio, from The Man. Now I have Octane again! He really, really knows me, people. Keep your dinners out and your roses, I want Octane!

When I was wallowing in the dark and chiche pit of my trevails, I emailed the tattoo artist I'd picked months ago. You know, when The Man got me a gift card for my birthday. (Again, he knows me.)

As my BFFIC noted, I'm no Kat Von Dee. You're not liable to get me confused with some weird aging emo rock chick any time soon. I'm tasteful with my body art, dammit.

This, apparently, is what I do when I struggle. (I also tried to write but nothing really came, so I let that go too. See above: letting things go.)

I let go of my judgement of letting go. It was a good thing.

My appointment was last night and I had to reschedule because I'm sick and that's no good. Send flowers and scads of rum. Rum kills asthma, right? No? Damn.

But I'm going to get a new tattoo. The artist I'm seeing is a serious artist. This place is serious. It's not off-the-street-drink-and-ink joint. It's appointment only and they've all trained as actual artists first. It will be amazing.

I know who I am. I'm an extrovert, aggressively friendly and a generally relentless optimist. I dislike hiding in a dark office circling mistakes; I like talking to people and being out in the world. I'm a more tattooed, taller, but mildly less badass version of my mom.

I have no plan right now, but that's okay. I'm not editing. I'm writing. I'm working.

And it's awesome.

The bitch is back.

Comments, questions, you're welcome?