Note No. 28

December 13, 2009

When I was 7 or 8 years-old, I got sent home from school with a temperature. I don’t know where my mom was; normally, she would have been home to take care of me but my dad was there, instead, and he was out back working on a project with a family friend, whose son was sitting on the sofa in the living room, when I woke up from my bed, wandered out and opened my mouth to say something, instead releasing a pile of projectile puke. It shocked me as much as it did him, because even more unbelievable than the fact that it was preceded by absolutely zero nausea was that I come from a family of iron tummies that do not throw up, even when they have typhoid fever, which I had during my first year on the island.
It was an insult, really, so while he started laughing, I burst into tears.

I think the same thing happened to me again earlier this week, except that this time, words actually did come out.

I have not since gone back to read the post and confirm this suspicion but I have a feeling (something about chirping crickets) and for the moment, I will just leave it alone. I know it’s there and one day I will go back to it to analyze it more and learn from it but I don’t want to see it right now, kind of like the clock on my mom’s bedside table that she squints and hums at it when she wakes up to pee in the middle of the night. She doesn’t actually want to know what time it is. It’s uncomfortable enough as it is, getting up at that hour; so why make it worse?

My life is in a bit of a toss-up at the moment: people are shifting in and out; I am thinking about my future; and my hormones are going left, right and center.

Growing pains. I guess they happen at any age and whether you are teething, getting longer legs or thickening your skin, they ache. I kind of wish I had a T-shirt right now that said: “I’m going through an awkward phase.”

Also earlier this week, I got a royal (and very deserved) reaming from a best friend. I thought I was being hurt but actually, I was just being selfish. It was a side of me that I am not terribly familiar with but there it was, as reproachable as a screaming child having a hairy hissy fit on the toy store floor, and only when she pointed it out to me was I able to claim said child, take it by its flailing arm, lead it outside, give it a good what for and take it back inside to apologize to all the poor patrons whose existence had been assaulted.

To err is human, to forgive divine, and thankfully I have a friend who is not only wise but forgiving. Ultimately, the experience was cathartic. I got to know myself better and just like you need to know your enemies, you also need to know your boundaries and your limits. One day, they could all three be the same thing.

You cannot correct a mistake until you’ve made it and just as I am reevaluating myself, I am also working out some kinks in my writing, trying to find a true voice in there. The only way I see to really do this is through tons of trial and error, because I am not going to know what’s good until I know what’s bad.

I am also coming to terms with the fact that blogging could be a good way to break into writing and in doing that, I have been reading a lot of blogs lately, thus getting over my previous mental block against them. The word alone is detestable; it gets stuck in my throat like phlegm. But I have fallen in love with two sites in particular: Penelope Trunk’s and Heather Armstrong’s.

Though each woman has her very own style, they both share a frankness that I, as a reader, appreciate and respect. I am thus trying to take the message to heart for my own audience (Ego check: is it presumptuous to even assume I even have such a thing?), because I am often guilty of writing about something once I have gone through it, not when I am in the middle of it, which is characteristic of how I deal with things in life: go off with a long face; sort it out on my own; then come back again when a truth is achieved and I can smile again.

That’s not very forthcoming, though; now is it?

The problem is, I have always worked well on the momentum of privacy and surprise. If I am trying to do something, I do not like to talk about it, because that kills the motion. I would rather just silently strive towards it and get it and then talk about it. Add to that Rudy Giuliani’s mantra to “underpromise and overdeliver” and you probably get the idea of how I like to work.

Of course, I see the holes in this method (inability to admit weakness, isolation from others, incomplete disclosure), as well as I see the strengths (independence, self-motivation, goal setting), which means there is room for compromise. I’ll start by revealing something that I do not like to talk about very much: I want to be a writer. No more thinking about massage school, or running a restaurant, or buying a business, or doing translation and interpretation, or going into the Foreign Service. I need to admit that I have a monkey on my back that wakes me up at dawn and makes me go downstairs and type for a few hours, turning out pages and pages of undeveloped stories.

There. I’ve said it. Now I have to go about making it happen. How I am going to do that, well, I have some ideas but I am still forming them, so that remains classified information.

In a recent post, Trunk said “you have to be learning on your blog. If you’re not learning, no one else is learning. … It’s safe to talk about what you know, but it’s not that interesting; no one likes a know-it-all.”
Not even know-it-alls.

So, maybe I don’t know where I am going at the moment but that’s okay. What matters is that I am not standing still. I am learning and I am talking about it.

A friend on the island gives me his Zen calendar readings when he is finished with them. He just hands me a stack with the dates cut off, so it’s up to me to draw one each day. I like yesterday’s a lot; it seems to coincide with where I am right now:

“Madame, there are always two paths to take; one back towards the comforts and security of death, the other forward to nowhere.” —Henry Miller

And to be nowhere is to at least be somewhere.

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