Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Thanks A Lot, James

Hey! I have a great idea for a blog post! I could talk about the whole James Frey scandal! Because, you know, hardly anyone has had anything to say about it.

Actually, here's my point of view in a nutshell: Fuck you, Frey. You did this to me on purpose, right? You knew that I'd finally begun to buckle down and write my own memoir, so you just HAD to go out there and make it so that nobody's ever going to be able to sell a memoir ever again, didn't you? You did it just to hurt me, James. I know you did. Oh, don't go acting like you have no idea who I am, have never heard of me, think that maybe I'm just the slightest bit delusional. I know better. You're out to get me. You and all your lying-memoirist friends.

So, yeah. Did I mention I've been kickin' butt and takin' names (or, actually, pseudonyms) in my memoir about Stalker Girl? I have been. It's hard work. Painful. But interesting to look back, and to look deeper. I'm seeing things I hadn't seen before, finding connections and learning lessons that I'd neither found nor learned until I wrote them down.

And they're all true. Or as true as memoir can be. Which is the only interesting part of this whole Frey/whatever-those-other-liars'-names-are debate, this consideration of what is truth and whether any one person's memory of events can ever really be a telling of truth. Though I do want to point out that I am SO VERY HIP that I was actually blogging about this back before James had even THOUGHT about the jail sentence that never happened. And to prove it, I give you...

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

I have always edited my life.

Usually, it's a minor edit: I'll give myself a line I really WISH I'd said, or enhance a reaction that was a bit murkier than I'll admit to. I'm a writer, after all. Even when I tell stories out loud, rather than on paper, it irks me to have them be dull, or illogical. So I fix them, just a bit. Or sometimes more than just a bit.

Yes, I know the word edit is a euphemism. What I'm really doing is lying. And I do it all the time. I've always done it. I look back sometimes on journals I kept as a teenager or a college student, and I can just tell where the reality and story depart from one another. Well, mostly.

And there's the rub: After a while, the lie becomes the truth, if only because I can no longer remember what the truth was.

Case in point: My sixteenth birthday party. Recently, I had cause to talk with my sister, J, about our no-longer-stepmother, S. She was telling me a story about a time when S smushed an entire piece of cake into J's mouth during a party, and how humiliated J felt. I remarked that I didn't really remember the story in full, but that I had my own, the time when S threw a plate at my head at my sixteenth birthday party. Except, even as I said it, I started to doubt myself. Not that some kind of dishware was thrown in my direction that night--I know it was--but that it was a plate? At my head? I really can't remember any more whether that's true or not.

I know that everything I can think of leading up to that moment is true. It was my Sweet Sixteen party; my father had insisted on throwing me a birthday party, perhaps to make up for all the ones he'd missed over the years. Whatever. In any case, it was a really fun party, if only because my dad was trying so hard to be seen as "cool" by all my high-school friends that he made a champagne punch for all of us. (Yeah, I'm thinkin' that maybe a few of the parents were less than pleased when their underage kids came staggering home that night...not that it would have been the first time for most of them, but it may have been the first time it was sanctioned by a supposed adult.)

Anyway, I'd had more of my share of punch when, after opening gifts, someone called "Speech! Speech!" Thinking I was being awfully clever, I started, "Well, I'd like to thank everyone who made this day possible..." Before I could get out the rest of the sentence, which was "...My mom and dad, who brought me into the world," or something like that, my stepmother laughed and said, "Thank you, thank you," thinking I was talking about the party. I wasn't following her and, still thinking about the rest of my sentence, said, "Well, you had nothing to do with it!" Her face dropped, my stomach dropped, and she went storming off. I sat there, flabbergasted, still not sure what I'd done wrong.

After a while, my dad suggested I go and apologize to S, saying she'd been working for weeks to make this party special for me. S and I didn't get along, I should add, but I did appreciate the fact that she'd made such an effort. So I went upstairs, and went into the kitchen, where she was rinsing dishes and putting them into the dishwasher. Still drunk, I tried to explain about the miscommunication we'd just had, but she was having none of it.

And that's where it gets unclear. I know she turned around and screamed something at me about being an ungrateful brat (or was it bitch?). I know she was holding some just-rinsed object in her hand. I know she tossed it, but was it on the ground? toward me? toward my head? I dunno. And then she went storming out of the house to take a walk to cool down. And that was the last time it was ever even spoken of.

Now, obviously, a spoon thrown down onto the ground would be a much less dramatic story than a plate thrown at my head. And I know that I've always keenly appreciated drama. I also know that when I went back downstairs to the party, I burst into tears, and the plate story was the story I told all my instantly concerned friends. But something makes me think that's not entirely true. Or at least that the intent wasn't there. Or something. But I'll never know. And so, for all eternity, I will posit that my stepmother threw a plate at my head on my sixteenth birthday. And every time I say it, I'll feel a twinge of guilt.

My point? I'm trying my darndest to be truthful here. I've fought myself a few times already when I've wanted to put 'better' words into my mouth, or make some incident I'm describing just that much more compelling. But I'm making no promises. Consider me a repentant, but not-entirely reformed liar, and read on at your own peril.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Mind Reader

Em: My mom is a mind reader!
Jen: Why?
Em: She just called me upstairs and said, "Yes, you can have a sleepover tonight," and I hadn't even asked her yet!
Jen: Wow! How did she know we were planning to ask?

Hey, I'll take the credit. Never mind that they ask if they can have a sleepover Every. Single. Weekend.

It's so easy to impress 8-year-olds.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Big Boy

He's 5 today, my baby boy. Five years old. It seems impossible.

But then again, it also seems impossible that I could have given birth to such a delectible, unusual, hysterical creature. It seems impossible that he is mine--that I could have done anything good enough to deserve him.

He woke up early this morning, climbed into bed with Baroy and me, played with my hair, sucked his thumb, hid is face in the pilllows when we both sang "happy birthday" to him, because even though he was totally thrilled, grinning wide, it's too much for him, even coming from just the two of us. (Later on in the day, when I brought cupcakes topped with little Tonka trucks to his preschool, he kept his fingers in his ears when they sang to him as well, and refused to look up. But loved every minute of it.)

He accepted Em's bought-by-herself-with-her-own-money gift of a stuffed Curious George with an embarrassed but pleased grin, looked only briefly at the card that Baroy had made for him (we'll give him his other gifts at dinner), then wanted to just to be left alone to color in his coloring book. N at 5 still definitely has his limits, even for good stuff, and especially when he's the center of attention.

What made him happiest this morning? A piece of gum, usually forbidden before breakfast. Birthday gum. *That* is what got a "woohoo!"

Yesterday, driving home from preschool, he announced that he wants to be a fireman and a policeman when he grows up. "Three things," he said.

"But that's only two things," I said. "A fireman and a policeman, and what else?"

"A painter," he said, without hesitation, my boy who is conventional and like every other little boy, until suddenly he is so very much not.

He got punished last night for swinging his hand at Baroy in a fake but intentional slap when he was told it was time for bed--and for doing it three times. The planned sleepover in Em's room was cancelled, and he had to sleep in his own bed. He cried for a few minutes when Baroy handed down the decision, then settled into bed with total equanimity, cuddling up next to me as I told him the story of what had been happening at exactly that time five years previous.

"And then Cara came..."

"I know her!"

"Yes, I know you do...Anyway, then I took a bath..."

"And I took one too, in your belly!"

It was Em who was devastated by the turn of events, Em who so very much wanted her brother to wake up in her room in the morning so she could be the first to wish him a happy birthday. She cried in her bed for a good ten minutes, even after Baroy went in to explain why he thought this was necessary.

I love the relationship these two have, a total love affair, but a realistic one. They argue semi-regularly, and N drives Em crazy just the way a little brother should, but he absolutely worships her, and she is so protective of him, and so affectionate. When she came home from her weekend in Big Bear, he was overjoyed to see her, and she was just beaming. "I missed you *so* much!" she told him, hugging him to her.

"I missed you so much, too," he said, hugging back.

Of course, on this day when I want to regale you with his humor and his smarts andh is extreme specialness and utter uniqueness, I can't remember any good stories to tell. But he is all those things: smart, special, unique, charming, loving, pigheaded, funny, boyish, adorable and more. Totally, completely, absolutely his own person. He may look like a Disney cartoon, with his doe-eyes and perfect face and Dennis the Menace hair, but he is no creature from anyone's imagination. He is, however, a character. I am continually awed by him, even as I worry about his fragility and his future.

Happy birthday, big boy.

Monday, January 23, 2006


I turn 42 tomorrow.

Can you believe it? Don't I just look too young to be 42? I knew you'd say that. You're such a good friend.

If I'm supposed to have anything to say about turning 42, I didn't get the memo. I mean, I'm all for the hugs and kisses I'll get from my kids (and Baroy). But milestone? Not really. It's just a day, you know? Too close to the turning of the new year for me to really feel like reassessing my life and my goals and what I've accomplished lately, and too insignificant of a number for me to do much more than that.

None of which removes the requirement for you to leave me a comment and wish me a happy day, of course.

Then, on Thursday, N turns five. That's the one I'm really having trouble with. Five is like the demarcation between baby and big boy. And yet, he's still such a baby. On both days this weekend, he came upstairs to our bedroom (my refuge from house o' kids when I have work to do), climbed into bed with me, threw his leg over my hip, played with my hair, and took a nap while I proofed .pdfs. I could literally just devour him. It wouldn't take all that many bites, either.

Last night, Em came into our family room, looking tired and sad. She's been a bit off lately. I tried to get her to talk to me, but there wasn't anything there. Then she asked if she could sit on my lap (oooph! she's a big kid now!) and as she cuddled into my chest, she whispered, "I can't wait until you get to be a stay at home mom."

And then N, feeling jealous, insisted on climbing onto my lap as well, and slid in between Em and me. We sat and hugged like that for a few long, delicious minutes, and I got many kisses.

Maybe that's why tomorrow doesn't feel particularly momentous. What could possibly be so special about tomorrow that it could beat my Sunday cuddle?

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Clean-Up Crew

"There is a very good reason that I'm a writer," I find myself constantly saying to people, "and that is because I'm not a speaker."

I hate speaking--public speaking. I'll talk your ear off in private; that's not a problem. But ask me to get up in front of a group and talk? Turns my skin cold. I have a hard enough time doing it when I'm volunteering in Em's classroom. Turn those little hellions into adult hellions, and I'm outta there.

Tonight, my temple's sisterhood--of which I am a member--is putting together a potluck and a shabbat service. When I went to pick up Em at Hebrew school on Tuesday, I ran into the Siterhood President, who asked me if I'd be attending.

"Of course," I said. "In fact, I was going to drop you a line and see if I could do anything to help out."

"Well," she replied, "actually, I need some people to do some of the English readings during the service."

I laughed more than just a touch nervously. "Oh, god, no," I said. (I have no idea why it is, but I have a habit of 'taking God's name in vain' almost compulsively when I'm at temple. Or maybe I just notice it more when I'm there. One of these days, I'm simply going to be struck dead by some errant lightning bolt in retribution, and I'm totally going to have deserved it.) "You mean get up in front of the congregation? And speak? During services?"

She laughed. "Or, I could just put you on the clean-up crew."

And so, clean-up crew it is.

Phew. That was a close one.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Being Irresponsible

I grew up in a household with a father whose bipolarity showed in ways which I now realize read like a textbook--hell, like MY textbook--on the subject. He drank too much, he was hypersexual (and the fact that it was obvious even to me by the age of 12 or so tells you just HOW hypersexual he was). And he spent money like it was going out of style. Once, when I was a young adult, he made an offhand comment to me: "If I make a million dollars this year," he said with a laugh, "I'm going to spend a million and one." The sad thing? He probably did make close to a million dollars that year, and he spent way more than a million and one.

We all react differently to the traits we see in our parents. My father's profligate spending rubbed off on my sister, at least to some extent--she sometimes makes less-than-wise financial choices. Me? I went the other way; I'm the stereotypical Cheap Jew. I hated every minute of the financial lifestyle I saw my parents suffer through. I never found it "fun" to come home and play "let's see if the lights are still on." I thought it was humiliating to return to my newly divorced (and soon to be remarried) father's apartment and see an eviction notice pinned onto the door. There was no way...NO WAY...I was ever going to be like that.

And so I never have been. I've been careful. I've saved, sometimes obsessively. (I'll never forget the day the cashier at my bank--back in the days of old when one actually talked to the cashier at one's bank!--looking at me when I deposited another check and saying, "Honey, you really need to talk to a financial counselor. You have WAY too much money in your checking account. You need to be doing something with it!") Even after Baroy and I got married--he of the years of debt and collections people calling our house all the time and the nonexistent credit rating--I simply overwhelmed his profligacy with my penuriousness. We were not going to live paycheck to paycheck if I had anything to say about it.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. But still, I've soldiered on. I've kept the purse strings relatively tight, when I can. I've pared the budget. I've sacrificed and scrimped--at least with regards to myself. The kids? They're a different story.

Anyway, last weekend, my best girlfriends and their families--our gang, our posse--went up to Big Bear for what has become an annual weekend away, a chance for our little Angelenos to visit snow. We, in our current financial crisis, declined to join them. My lovely friends took Em with them, anyway, because they knew how sad she'd be, left behind with her best friends having all the fun.

It was an awful weekend for Baroy and me. He felt guilty; I felt resentful. We snapped at each other a lot. I found myself feeling jealous of my eight-year-old. Shouldn't she have to suffer with the rest of us?

It was, in a word, stupid.

And so, the day she was returning, I looked at Baroy and said, "I want to go on a cruise. For our tenth anniversary [in March], I want to go on a cruise, and I want to take the kids with us." After all, we never did have a honeymoon (too expensive, the trip to England we'd talked about), and our one and only family vacation thus far was when Em was 2 and N not yet even conceived.

And so, we're going. We have a HELOC, and we're just going to put it on that, close our eyes, and jump. We haven't actually booked it yet, but we will, in the next day or two. A trip, probably on the Love Boat (i.e., the Princess Cruise Line), to the "Mexican Riviera." (Yes, I know. Tacky. But I'm looking forward to it, so don't rain on my parade, please.) It's going to cost a lot of money that we don't have, way more than a trip to Big Bear would have. But it's our tenth anniversary, and I'm tired of being cheap me, and I want to do it. So I will, irresponsible or no. In a way, I'm proud of myself, for breaking free of my natural frugality and doing something that may be more than just a little bit stupid. Check me out! I'm fiscally irresponsible!

And the best part? My therapist gave me the big thumbs up when I mentioned the plan to her. So I'm being fiscally irresponsible, but I have *permission* to do so. Yep, that's me. A rebel without a cause, but only if someone tells me they approve, first.

Monday, January 16, 2006

My 15 Minutes of Fame (At Least Amongst People Who Live in The Chicago Area and Read the Tribune)

My bipolar book just got what may well be its first real media exposure:

The secret is out--finally

(You may have to register--it's free--to read the piece, and I don't know how long they keep stuff on their site before secreting it away in their archives, but give it a shot, will ya?)

Anyway, it's only one line out of the book, but there's my (actual) name, with the word 'author' preceding it. Made my weekend.

Oh, and the way I found out was that the woman who wrote the piece emailed me to let me know my book had been quoted, which was almost as impressive as having it quoted in the first place. I've NEVER been organized enough to do something like that for my freelance pieces. She rocks.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Calling All Coffee Connoisseurs

I am going to be 42 years old in nine days. And I am, just now, becoming entranced with coffee, after all this time spent insisting that I hated it, wanted nothing to do with it.

Then I started talking my walks for exercise, and combining them with the errands I needed to run. And they invariably walked me past Starbucks. And the Siren's call came floating out, and the next thing I knew...

Eventually, though, the 'frugal' side of me won out over the newly minted coffee-loving part of me. And so I asked Baroy for a small coffee maker for Chanukah, and got one. And I used a gift car my mother sent me to get an electric coffee grinder.

But, dude, this coffee I'm drinking? Isn't very good. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. This is literally the first time in my life that I've made coffee, so it could be anything. Too little water? Too much? Too many teaspoons of ground coffee? Too few? The wrong kind of coffee? A bad brand? I'm lost! I need an Idiot's Guide to Making a Good Cuppa Coffee, methinks.

For the record, I can only drink decaf. Sad, but true. I'm one of those people who gets about every negative physiological and psychological side effect from caffeine. When I was younger, my friends used to think it was hysterical to give me a Coke and watch me go a little bit crazy. Once, when I was about 12, I got so hopped up on caffeine that I tried to fly off of the top step of a porch at my sleep-away camp. I wound up in the infirmary, and was picking gravel out of the cuts and scrapes down my left thigh for weeks afterwards.

And my current preference, because I'm a neophyte, is for flavored coffee--vanilla, to be precise. But it tastes like dreck when I make it. Should I just be making regular coffee and adding a few drops of vanilla to it? Do I have to buy some vanilla syrup or something? I haven't the faintest.

Help! I need to catch up to the rest of you! I need to be an adult! Can you help?

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Early last year, a woman from my university's occupational therapy department assessed N as part of a general teaching experience at his on-campus childcare center. Then she spoke to me about some of her concerns. This led to a speech assessment, a school-district preschool assessment, an assessment by a developmental pediatrician. All agreed that there are some issues; none agreed on what those were. None was able to even give a name to what we were/are dealing with.

And so, after all that? Those first folks are the ones who are going to save the day.

Tomorrow, representatives from the graduate OT program on our campus as well as from UC Santa Barbara are starting an 11-week 'intervention' with N and one other boy from the other preschool class. Every Thursday and Friday for the next 12 weeks (one week is off for spring break), an OT student (one who will come every Thursday, the other who will come every Friday) plus an occasional OT supervisor will be spending 3 hours per day with N as part of a program "to train graduate occupational therapy students in strategies proven to assist children to fully participate in childcare settings and promote positive social integration needed for successful kindergarten transition." And, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, because I can't believe our luck, it's all free because of the preschool's affiliation with the academic medical center I work at. Yep, I think I can wait until at least the beginning of April to quit my job if it means getting my kid free OT, with a focus on exactly the issues I worry about most!

[For anyone who's interested, they're going to be using "a variety of social skills strategies" including Pivotal Response Training, play-based intervention, occupation-centered practice and teacher training. They'll be videotaping sessions over the course of the program, since this is a training grant they're using to provide the services. Some day down the line, my boy is going to be the spokesmodel for how preschool teams can work with children with social skills issues. Go N!]

The truth is, my areas of concern with N have significantly narrowed of late, and I worry a little that this won't be able to address them. He actually does just fine with his preschool friends these days; has a little posse of kids he likes to run around with at times, though he does still spend some time alone, which is fine, just his personality, etc., etc., etc. The problems are larger groups of kids, which still overwhelm him, and new kids, especially if there's more than one to deal with at a time. Mostly, I need it not to take another five years for him to feel comfortable enough around the kids in his class to have more than one friend, you know? And I don't know how they can address that issue in a familiar surrounding like preschool. But, we'll see. I'm excited nonetheless.

Wish him luck!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Very Poor

We are so poor right now. I just can't figure out how we got that way.

Now, you have to understand, poor in my vernacular includes a still-reasonably-healthy emergency fund, as well as some mutual funds that we'd lose money on if we dipped into (what with fees and all), but are there for the dipping, should dipping be necessary. I'm the child of a bipolar man, remember, who spends like a bipolar man. I have serious financial 'issues,' and even the slightest bit of instability makes me a little, well, unstable.

But, still, things aren't rosy. We're having to take a couple of grand out of the emergency fund every month or two to cover our bills, because my salary alone doesn't do it, and freelance payments just never come in in time to pay the mortgage. So that still-reasonably-healthy fund will be a lot less reasonably healthy real soon if things don't get straightened out.

Taking off my and my neighbor's side mirrors didn't help the situation any, and Baroy's getting a ticket for an illegal U-turn and THEN for not wearing a seatbelt (he swears he was, but he took it off to get out of the car, and so when the cop said he hadn't been wearing it at all, he had no ammunition to prove him wrong), which will cost as much as the mirrors, if not more, plus there's the whole insurance thing, and woe is me woe is me woe is me.

The holidays wiped us out. I'm waiting on checks from the PTA board, because I front the money each month for our newsletter, and they're late cutting them due to one of our twice-yearly audits, so that money is coming out of my pocket right now. I have a bunch of doctor's bills that I've been putting off paying, mostly stemming from N's surgery back in June. (Yes, I SAID I was putting off paying them, and I meant it.) N's birthday is in a couple of weeks, which means a party, which means mo' money. I need to pay for the next term of gym classes for the kids (N's is like therapy for him, a pseudo social-skills group, so I really need to do it, and Em is so into gymnastics that I can't see taking that away from her, though it's possible I'm going to have to, even though we actually COULD afford it, it would just mean more emergency-fund hemorrhaging for a non-emergency). That's a nice chunk of change right there.

And have I mentioned that Baroy had less than two weeks of work last year? And that so far all the promising things he's been going for have come to naught? And that he is so depressed that it's almost worrisome, but he won't get help?

And amidst all this, what am I doing? Planning to quit my job, to work from home. I must be nuts. Oh, wait, that's right. I am. Certified, even.

I'll spare you the rest, because I know that long lists of other peoples' financial woes is SO MUCH FUN to read. But suffice it to say, I'm preoccupied these days.

Oh, but before you go. I'm crappy at figuring out how to put little buttons and stuff on my blog, but apparently this is DELURKING WEEK. So if you're reading this, you're supposed to drop me a comment, just to say hi. Or to tell me that you have a fabulous, benefits-laden telecommuting job for me that pays bundles and has no pressure and no stress and is exactly what I want to be doing with my life. One or the other.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Best. Parents. Ever!

You know what I'm really glad about? I'm really glad, when I arrived home with N today 45 minutes after Em's gymnastics class had ended and said, "Where's Em?" and Baroy and I realized that he thought I was getting her and I KNEW he was supposed to get her (having only told him three times earlier in the afternoon that if I was picking up N, then he had to pick up Em), I'm really glad that we sprang into action like a well-oiled machine, working together, a true TEAM, rather than spending the next few minutes screaming at each other at the top of our lungs like a couple of lunatics and trying to decide who was to blame. (Did I mention it was HIS fault? Because it totally was.) After all, that would have been just stupid and dysfunctional. Yep, I'm really glad that's not the way we handled it, because, phew, I wouldn't want to be in that other blaming-and-yelling kind of relationship, would you?

And Em handled the whole thing really well for an 8-year-old, if you ignore the first half hour after she got home when she collapsed sobbing into my arms, and the hour after that that she spent blaming herself for not thinking to just call her dad's cell phone or call home once she realized he was more than just a little late. Poor baby. But she bounces back quickly, my girl. She's already loaded this little gem of a parenting moment into her arsenal of incidents with which to teasingly torture her father. (He deserves it; he's the one who's trained her in the fine art of torture by teasing in the first place.)

As for me? Well, just name the time and place, and I'll be there, ready to accept my Mother of the Year award. As long as it doesn't conflict with the Best Relationship of the Year award ceremony. It's hard to keep up with all the accolades, you know, when you're just this good.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What If I Really Do Just Suck?

I'm working through this artist's self-helpy kind of book (which is so so so so so so so so not like me, but I'm really trying to find the key to why it is I haven't accomplished what I want to accomplish in my writing, plus there's an online group I'm hooked into that's doing it, so I'm there) and one of the early exercises in the book--it's The Artist's Way, which about half the people in the world have read and done, I know, I know--directs me to think about where my artistic/creative 'blocks' come from, and then to do all these sorts of exercises, affirmations, writing of letters to the mean teacher who told me my writing sucks (which didn't actually happen, but just as an example). And while I'm all for people ridding themselves of negative self-images, of outside influences telling them what they can or cannot do, there's something that niggles at me here. And it's this:

Isn't it just possible that some or all of the negative things I think about myself are true?

I mean, not every person in the world is a good writer. You can positive-self-image yourself from now until tomorrow, but if you ain't got it, you ain't got it. So how much good is it going to do for me to talk myself out of believing what my fiction-writing professor in college said to me about how I had to develop my own voice, that I had a habit of taking on the voice of whoever I was obsessively reading at the time, and that I needed to find an authentic voice of my own...how much good would it do for me to do the whole Stuart Smalley "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough" thing if what that teacher said is true? What if fiction writing is--as I have this sinking feeling it is--a waste of my time? What if I really do just suck at it? What if nonfiction is where I need to be putting my efforts?

I guess what I'm saying, in both a larger and more personal form, is that I do think there are people who are just Not Good at writing or at certain types of writing, and I'm not sure anyone is doing them a great service by banging into their skulls the mantra that the only thing holding them back is their negative thought processes. I think I suck at writing fiction, mostly because my imagination is limited, and because I can't write dialogue to save my life. Now, if these things are true...should I still be pursuing a dream of writing a novel, or should someone slap me across the face and say, "Snap out of it! Do what you're good at, and stop pining over the things you're not!"

Which is not to say that I'm not going to write. I'm a writer. I am good at some forms thereof. I'm in no hurry to quit. I'll even consider that I'm wrong about the sucking-at-fiction part. But if I'm not? Then I really think I'm just wasting my time blaming my lack of creative progress on people who told me the truth, rather than blaming my lack of creative progress on my creative suckage.

[And on a completely unrelated note: It's 'only' going to cost $200 to fix my mirror, which is better than I'd thought. Haven't heard yet from the owners of the car whose mirror I also broke, but I'm hoping that it won't cost them much more than that. That will hurt us financially, but it won't kill us.

And thanks for all the commiserating stories. Who knew there were so many people whose years get off to such a crappy start?]

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Crappy Start

Last night, after we opened the last of the Chanukah gifts, I ran out to the store to buy some batteries for a remote-controlled car I'd gotten for N. On the way down the narrow, dark, rain-soaked street, I noticed some teens standing basically in the middle of the road with their car door open. I moved over a bit to see if I could get past them, and that's when I heard the THONK. When I got out of my car (the teens barely looked up from their oogling-one-another session), I found that I'd completely ripped my passenger-side mirror off my car, and broken the driver's-side mirror off of a car on the street.

I know this is a minor thing. I know it. Intellectually. But emotionally, I'm so depressed today. I left a note (in a plastic baggie--it hasn't stopped raining for days here) on the car in question, saying I'd obviously pay for the new mirror. But between their new mirror and mine, there goes all the 'extra' money I made last month--not that it was extra, mind you. It was just going to allow us to not take money out of savings to pay our basic bills this month or next. I have no idea how much of that this little escapade is going to eat up, but it just feels like I can't get ahead, no matter what. And here I am, committed (internally, emotionally) to quitting my job this year. Every time I think I have it figured out, something like this happens, and I realize that I'm full of crap; I can't make this work WITH my job, how am I going to make it work without my job?

Oh, and best of all? The remote-controlled car doesn't work. Piece of crap.

Yeah, yeah. Happy frickin' new year.

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