Saturday, December 6, 2014

Rebel Girl

Where we last left off, I was, if you remember, "fucking done." Well, I still am. In fact, this past week, I was ready to be done immediately. As in, leave my job, no notice, no call. Jump in my car and just ride until the present was a distant memory. One might say I panicked. Luckily, I have some very level-headed and stable people in my life who reminded me: That's not going to change anything, only create more problems.

See, the problem with me is once I get something in my head, I can't focus, calm down, or concentrate until that "something" is achieved. And right now, that "something" is this. (Drumroll, please...)

I am leaving my job as a nanny in June and staying with my parents for a few months in South Carolina to regroup and figure out how, exactly, to make writing my career. My profitable career. Because writing is the only thing I have ever wanted to do. That's what my "inner punk" that I referred to in my previous post was telling me. Pursue writing. You have always wanted to write. You should write. And then: You need to write.

And it's true! I wrote my first story at age 7. It was an outlet for the massive bullying I was enduring as a shy, people-pleaser in a new school. I wrote about the bullying the only way I knew how, as a second-grader: I assigned each of my antagonists a mean animal and gave myself (a pretty cat, of course) a strong voice, telling them EXACTLY what I thought of them. Unfortunately, I didn't have the foresight to a) not bring the journal to school or b) hide it better. So, after art class, my head harasser found the notebook, read it aloud, and laughed...until she realized it was about her and her friends. Mwahahahaha! And then started my love affair with the written word, as I realized early on how healing it was for me. 

I was now a girl on a mission. I read and wrote ferociously. I would love to say I was one of those Rory Gilmore-type savants that devoured Anna Karenina at age 8, but alas no. I was intrigued with the more mainstream The Babysitter's Club books, written by Ann M. Martin. I was mainly fascinated with the closeness of the friends (something I had not yet experienced) and their commitment to important issues. Some themes included racism, eating disorders, Diabetes, learning disorders, and (of course) bullying.

I vividly remember one Christmas season, my mother took my brother and I took the North Branford Firehouse Christmas Party. This was a staple in my family and while I still believed in Santa Claus, I had no idea the "Santa" at the party was my grandfather's BFF, Wayne. Each child had a turn to sit on Santa's lap and say what they wanted for Christmas. Hopped up on popcorn balls and Anginettes, I practically leapt onto Wayne's lap and excitedly stated what I wanted for Christmas: an electronic typewriter, "because I'm going to be a famous author, like Ann M. Martin!" Wayne just looked at me, confused and amused, ho-ho-ho'd and gave me a pre-wrapped present marked "Girl."

I wasn't expecting my typewriter from the Firehouse Santa, I knew better. But, I waited for Christmas morning, just knowing I would find it under the tree. And...I DID! A beautiful, brand-new, electronic typewriter and a glorious stack of blank pages; ready for me to write my stories. My poor parents. I dragged that bad boy EVERYWHERE! Friends' houses, relatives' houses, even the bagel shop my parents worked at. I needed it close by, at all times.

Then, something happened, when I was 10, that was a game-changer. I excitedly told a relative (after asked what I planned to be when I "grew up") I was going to be "a famous author like Ann M. Martin!" My other relatives all but patted me on the head and said the generic: "That's nice" and moved on with their adult conversation. But this one relative looked at me, seriously, and said: "That is a starving artist job. You won't make any money." My face and stomach dropped. I'm certain I did write after that, but I don't have any memory of it.

Please let me be clear, this relative was not being cruel or mean; they were old-school and just being realistic. It didn't matter that I was ten, in his eyes that was irrelevant. And let me also state, I didn't have to listen. I could have had the "fuck it" attitude I am still trying to embrace, but I didn't. I don't. I was and am sensitive, self-conscious, and most alarming: desperate to please. So, I stopped writing. And only a few years later, I had all but forgotten about my desire to be a writer. Once I hit puberty and discovered boys, I had a new focus. I lost most of my previous interests once I hit middle school, my main goal became: get acceptance from other girls and attention from boys. And that was all I cared about until my last year of college.

So, I spent ten years denying the part of me that wanted to write (ages 12-22), ten years figuring out what my "career" should be so I can "write on the side" (ages 22-32), and here we are now. I am 33 and determined to make writing a priority. No more side streets. No more false starts. No more "day careers." I am Writer: hear me...type? Okay, so I might need some time, but I am worth it. I have always been worth it. I just didn't know.


*Title credit: Song: "Rebel Girl" released by Bikini Kill in 1993