But I did tell Cory recently that this year (my 34th year that is, not 2014) I wanted to work on writing a book and learn how to play the guitar. Those are both goals I've had for the last 20 years or more. Procrastination is a gift. If only I could've majored in such at college and gotten a $54k/year salaried position procrastinating and worrying about things that never matter in the long term. (Please advise is this is a thing I can do.)
That statement coupled with finally reading Bird by Bird has kind of forced me to go through the deep dark pits of my google drive account (where I keep all the things I write then let save automatically never to be looked at again).
For me, writing has always been a form of therapy. What that translates to is bitterness and sarcasm. There's hurt there as well. And pain. But rereading those thoughts from the past me has cast a weird aura of calm and everything is gonna be okay-ness that I haven't had for quite some time.
If I scoop out all the bad memories (the ones I can access in my brain that haven't been blocked out) I can only assume that I'll have more room to insert happy memories. Good, healthy memories that I'm building with my husband and children. The memories of laughter with my platonic life partner on porches while getting attacked by june bugs and drinking whiskey sours. Those are the things I want to hold on to, not the bitter bitch inside who can't decide whether causing someone else pain to bring about piece of mind for herself is actually worth it or not.
There's a part of me that's always hesitant to share too much of what I write, or even what's in my head. Suffice to say that there's some shit in there not everyone needs to hear..or would even find remotely interesting. I'm guilty of "god would they just quit complaining" syndrome, when really all any of us are trying to do is survive. Staying afloat is a full-time job for most of us. One we work on top of our other full-time jobs. And if any of you are anything like me (which I gather most of you are) nurturing and taking care of ourselves is always last on the list.
I've gotten better about letting other people take my kids so I can have a night alone with a book or a bad movie coupled with a glass of wine. These few hours here and there have become vitally important to maintaining my sanity. I think it's why I've been known to take 2 or 3 showers a day. There's something about the scalding hot water and quiet that calm the persistent voices in my head screaming all of my responsibilities at me.
Anyway. In 2014 I want to write a book. I don't know what it'll be about. What would be best for me? That would be to write about my family. Have you guys seen "Peep World"? Premise: Writer dude writes book about his fucked up family (that makes mine look like a walk through Disney World) and family gets pissed. Yea...that's what I want to write. 99% my mother. Anne Lamont told me in this book to "write as if your parents are dead". Words to live by...
When I decided to write that book about my family two years ago I wrote this as the first chapter. (I'll spare you the introduction..it was all self loathing and shit)
This I offer up to you as a piece of me...
Warning: it's about my first period. Because it doesn't get much worse than your most embarrassing day ever. So there's menstrual blood. Don't read it if you're a pussy or it'll cause you to be even more socially awkward around me at some point in the future. Group hug, Ladies. I know y'all feel me.
Since I’ve already told you about starting my period this morning I may as well continue with the uncomfortable feeling you already have and tell you about my first menstrual cycle ever. I’m channeling Judy Blume; don’t judge me.
The year was 1991. I was a young, naive 11 year old. My mother’s sex talk went something like this: “Don’t do it. It’s a sin to think about boys. Your body is a temple, don’t masturbate or you’ll go to hell. Unless you’re a boy, then it’s medically necessary.” It was a Sunday night and I was at church, as was to be expected since we went three times a week. Minimum. A little Pentecostal church in small town Oklahoma. And there I was, in the tiny bathroom in the back of the long corridor. And there it was. The blood..there...on my underwear. Oh God, this is what they’ve all been talking about. My period.
I did what any average 11 year old girl would do. I stuffed some toilet paper down there and opened the bathroom door, hoping to find my mom. Only I didn't take into consideration the fact that I don’t have an average mom. It’s something that constantly escapes my memory, because I’m still shocked when she disappoints me. Thirty-two years of life and I still hope that things will change. It’s the very definitely of crazy, doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome.
“Mom, I think I just started my period.” Whispered, wallowing in my shame. “What?” Shouted, like everything else she’s ever said. “I started my period.” “Oh my baby! Oh! Oh!!” That’s when I saw him. Down the hall, just right there, was Brandon Joshman. (I changed his name here for obvious reasons. Although if he managed to get a hold of this ridiculous display of self indulgence he wouldn’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this was totally about him.) Brandon, with his short curly hair filled with massive amounts of hair gel. Brandon, with his perfectly cut Levi stone washed jeans. This boy was the epitome of all that was hot in my 11 year old mind. He was everything. And there he was, at the moment the crimson gates opened, witnessing my mother’s tearful moment. Because, say it with me, “Why wouldn’t he be?”
The thing about getting your first menstrual cycle is that it should most definitely be a private thing, right? Not something to be shouted about in church corridors in front of hot boys, or shared with your brother who’s 9 years older than you. “Your sister became a woman.” And it should absolutely, most definitely, not share itself with your entire 7th grade class in the cafeteria on your first day of junior high. But it did.
1991. The 80’s were technically over, but socks with dress shoes and denim jumpers were still completely acceptable. So was curling my bangs and aqua net hairspray. And this particular denim jumper was so great, you guys. Like, first day of junior high great. I was finally allowed to shave my legs, a good year or more later than the rest of my friends. I had become a woman and put the humiliation of the night before behind me. It was in the past, and I was ready to conquer. Junior high was when all the good shit happened. I was gonna kiss a boy, smoke cigarettes, and have my very own locker. The locker happened. The other stuff? Well, kissing came at 19. Cigarettes came around 16, with the window of my red Pontiac Sunbird rolled all the way down and Green Day in my tape player. I was basically a delinquent.
You should know that I went to a school run by Baptists. A school where girls weren’t allowed to wear jeans, but boys were. Where self expression and free thinking were not only frowned upon, but grounds for immediate reprimanding and demerits. I had been going to school with almost the exact same group of rich, entitled brats since the third grade because my parents were trying to shelter me from books about witchcraft and being a virgin sacrifice offered up to Satan himself. No, really. My favorite book in junior high was about a teenager who listened to rock music which led her onto a path of self destruction, Satanism, and tantric sex. It sounded awesome.
My hair was big, my jumper was starched and ironed, and my socks were perfectly folded down to the point where they met my white keds. I even had a tiny brown leather purse to match because I was obviously an adult who needed a purse. In that purse? I had done it. I had managed to put make up inside it without my mother ever knowing. A compact with pressed powder and lip gloss. Rebellion is of the sin of witchcraft, and I was ready for my burning at the stake.
On my hourly trip to the bathroom to cake on more powder and smear bubble gum scented lip gloss all over my lips I turned and saw it. There it was on the back of my beautiful denim jumper. The crimson curse had placed itself firmly on my ass for all the world to see. Because in that sacred moment of buying sanitary napkins the night before my mom, as she always did, bought the cheapest ones possible. Wings? Fuck that, they cost an extra 74 cents. And the talk about changing that pad every couple of hours? What talk? There was no talk. If only the internet had been around then. Raising my daughter will be so much easier. I can just avoid the whole uncomfortable period and sex talks by saying “google it”.
Naturally I did what any terrified 11 year old girl would do. I ignored the problem and went to my next class, because surely I would be accused of some kind of mortal sin if I pointed out that I had period blood on my ass. Lunch happened, in the cafeteria, in front of everyone. Then I saw them there, the thin popular bitches, pointing and laughing. I’ve given birth three times, and shit myself every single time. The third time I was standing when it happened. The shit left my body and hit the floor right between my feet in front of my husband, my mother, and what seemed like 17 nurses. Those skinny bitches laughing at 11 year old me is still the most humiliating moment I’ve ever had in my life.
That’s when it happened. That’s when enemy number one saved me. The uptight Baptist principal of my school, with her gloriously huge permed bob, became my savior. As I hid from my shame in a bathroom stall, that woman became a saint and scrubbed the blood out of my denim jumper. In that moment she became more nurturing that my mom had ever been. As I left the bathroom she whispered, “Just use your purse to hide the water until it dries.”
My period has been nothing but a total bitch since that first Sunday night when she appeared. Interrupting hopes of sex, causing me to swear and cry over nothing important, and forcing me to get pregnant three times. Yet there was a lesson she was destined to teach me that day. Never judge a book by its cover. That saint of a woman was my principal until the day I graduated from high school. And while everyone else around me cursed her for ruining their lives by not letting them wear dangly earrings or blue nail polish, I knew that there was a caring tender woman underneath it all who rescued clueless little me and my denim jumper. I know what you’re wondering. The jumper lived to tell the tale, and was my companion through the rest of 7th grade. Sometimes I think that I should’ve saved and framed it. On days when my kids think I’m the worst human in the world and our dog has pissed on my kitchen floor for the third time in an hour, I could set my gaze upon it and remember that things could, in fact, always be worse. So much worse.