Friday, December 23, 2011

Taking Time to Smell The Diapers

It’s that time of year, time for thanks, reflection, and yes, lists. I promise this list won’t leave you feeling listless. Alright, you have my word and personal guarantee: I can’t make that promise. You’ll probably go limp with listlessness.  
While the coals were hot (or the baby was asleep-ish in her sling), I thought I’d strike a few keys. 
The other evening, Al said we were lucky. I’d been having one of those days, the kind where you try to manage caring for a new baby while bidding fare-the-well to the cozy routine you’d once known. I’ve been struggling lately because I haven’t found any semblance of balance. I’m behind on work ... I haven’t put nearly enough energy into writing or submitting fiction ... I can no longer call the dust mites guests (because it’s official, they’re roommates—the kind who stink up the fridge with their olive loaf and hog all the hot water) ... I’m “preparing” prepackaged caramel corn for dinner ... My drawstring pants have filed a restraining order against me. 
Sure, I have my Type-A moments, but I’ve never thought of myself as particularly high maintenance. Yet the disorder around me is now weighing me down like a urine-logged diaper (worst [baby] metaphor ever), and I have no idea how to clean up the mess. I know. You’re right. I just have to accept the mess as the new clean. This mess is just going to have to have a nice (weakest [baby] modifier ever) sleepover, one that lasts until Ava is say 32 and a half. 
Chaos aside, Al was, and is, right. (Good thing he probably won’t read this and get a big head.) We/I have a lot to be thankful for, so here it is, that list you’ve been lethargically awaiting! Don’t worry, it’s only “10 Reasons Why I Feel Really, Really, Really Lucky,” and only 15.2 of these reasons are random:   

1. Eight years of infertility and one failed adoption brought us to our daughter, and our daughter to us. It isn’t 100-percent official yet, but we are hers. And she is ours. Enough said. 
2. A husband and best friend whose biggest shortcoming might be his lack of closure. (Example #1: If he’s having a good time with good people (almost always), he has a hard time leaving that good time and those good people. Example #2: He struggles to close virtually anything you can/should probably close around our house.)
3. Family and friends who continue to amaze, inspire and surround me (even when I’ve consumed too much brie).
4. I do what I love. Really. I don’t always find or make enough time to write what I want (or hope) to write, but I write. And people even pay me for some of it. Enough said. 
5. A dog who adores me with one condition: ceaseless ball play. 
6. My unhealthy relationship with sarcasm. Often, the only person chuckling is me, but I get bored and weary of taking serious shit (and there’s plenty of it out there) so seriously. 
7. Pork rinds. (See #6.)
8. A bowling average hovering in the 120s (see #7 and #6).

9. A place to shout home (even if it isn’t even close to baby-proofed, and every cupboard, drawer, door, milk carton, ketchup bottle and toothpaste tube has been left open). 
10. More time. No matter how compressed the minutes and the hours sometimes feel, every day I wake up, I’m given the blessing of a little more. 
Remember, whatever you do or wherever you are this holiday, be merry and take some time to smell the diapers.

"I would never leave Ava's diaper open."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Still The BA MOFO You Know and Hopefully Love (Or Kinda “Like” on Facebook)

Yesterday, I posted how “sometimes it’s mandatory to pick your baby’s nose.” 

Besides being a fantastic status update, it’s just one more thing in an ever-expanding list of things I’ve learned about motherhood. On that subject, I still find it a little strange to call myself that, and by that, I mean M-O-T-H-E-R. In the past, that title only applied after B-A-D-A-S-S and before the mother of all swearwords (plus E and R). 
Dear Samuel L. Jackson:
I may dig on swine, but I also own the wallet.
Your BFF,
BA MOFO II (AKA The Chopper, AKA Amie)
I guess there’s part of this mother that still feels like an impostor. I might be having trouble with the title because I hope to never own jeans that sit too high on my waist. While that’s true, another reason I’m shying away from the name could be because we tried for so long to produce a kid, and then **KABOOM**, my husband and I sprinted outside just in time to catch a swaddled baby girl shot out of a cannon. (Remember, swaddling = safe sleeping. Safety first, people.) Given we had less than one day’s notice of Ava’s arrival, I think this analogy seems more appropriate than a stork landing. 
Most people get at least nine months to “prepare” for the arrival of their child. I use the term “prepare” loosely, as I know, I know, no one is ever “prepared” for parenting, but nevertheless, I do feel our situation was (and is) different. After the initial phone call from the agency, and the sixty whole minutes we had to decide whether to pick up Ava (she wasn’t named yet, but Baby Girl sounds too sterile and distant now), and the sleepless night of all nights, and the frantic drive to Southfield, and the tidy signing of many white papers with many intimidating words, and the trip to some hospital we’d never visited, and the brief chitchat with some overworked nurse we’d never met, we were handed a newborn. 
We weren’t even asked if we wanted fries with her. 
Maybe that sounds insensitive, but it did feel a little like drive-thru delivery. I might be wrong about this, as I personally have never given birth, but don’t expecting parents get at least a day or two in the hospital to, um, learn how to care for their newborn? Yes, I know you can’t master the childrearing ropes in that timeframe, but I’m pretty certain our nurse wouldn’t have told us how to feed or change Ava if we didn’t ask (protest might be a better word choice). 
Many of you are probably now thinking, duh, how hard is it to insert bottle into mouth or detach diaper from butt, but to say my husband and I were (and still very much are) rookies is an understatement. Though our inexperience is the result of our own doing (we weren’t exactly goo-goo for babies in the past), it’s funny how scant instruction we received, especially considering the microscope we endured to become “expecting” parents. (We’ll be under that microscope, by the way, for well into 2012. Thankfully, we have very resilient mitochondria.)
Despite our absent Ava Manual and our present naiveté, we’re learning, and we haven’t encouraged our baby to go ahead and play with matches (yet). In just over six weeks, we’re getting the hang of Ava, she’s getting the hang of us, and someday soon, I might stop wondering who the hell people are talking to when they call me M-O-M. 

This is your baby.
This is your baby on Boppy Pillow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Good Nipple is Hard to Find

No, this isn’t a blog entry about the pros and cons of certain bottle (or human) nipples. Yes, I just thought the title was funny, and Flannery O’Connor, well, her short stories are perfection. Yeah, I said perfection. 
To this day, I can’t read “A Good Man is Hard to Find” without the hairs on my arms standing up, and now that I’ve managed to sneak something literary into this post (insert virtual patting on the back), I’ll drive around the block and enthusiastically wave at the irritated, but hopeful point. (You may remember from an earlier post how much I value digressing.) 
Perhaps I’ve got nipples on the brain because with less than 24 hours notice, Al and I drove to the east side of the state to pick up Ava Harper, the baby girl we hope to adopt. You may think “hope to adopt” sounds strange, but it’s simply a layer of linguistic protection until Ava’s birthmom and birthdad’s parental rights have legally expired, something we’re trying with all our might to keep tucked far, far away in the back of our minds. (November 23 is the date.)
There’s so much to say about what we’ve been through to get us here. I don’t know where to begin or where to end. I just know I need to put something down on paper. Even if I know it probably won’t touch how I’m feeling or how Al is feeling. 
With so much to say and so little time, I’ve decided to talk on the latter. Since the arrival of Ava, time has turned into an even greater mystery. Seconds turn into minutes, minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days, days turn into nights, nights turn into wizards with white beards and purple hats. Rinse and Repeat. Seriously, I can’t understand how I used to complain about not having enough time. Caring for a child, you officially become Time’s bitch. Cross one thing off that to-do list (not including feedings or diaper changes) and you should be awarded Employee of The Month Millennium. (Yes, this should include a commemorative t-shirt, preferably bedazzled organic cotton.) 
If this sounds like I’m whining, well, I guess I am. I don’t think whining is all that unexpected, considering I spent 38 years and 354 days (I think I’m right on the math, but who’s counting?) caring for me, myself and I. (Yes, I care about and care for my husband and dog, too, but babies deserve a category of their own.)
People say blink once and your kid is out of diapers, blink twice and your kid is off to college, blink three times and your kid is mocking your haircut, blink four times and your kid has your haircut. I don’t know who these people are, but I’m sure they’ve said something like that at least a few times. And you know what? These people are right. No, they’re genius. It’s hard to believe Ava is already 1-month-old, and it’s even harder to believe she’s allowed me fifteen minutes to sit here and type. Granted, she’s sort of napping on my chest in a sling, but it’s progress. (Pay no attention to that wet diaper behind the curtain.)
Besides writing, one of the things I should do more in my nonexistent spare time is take vocal lessons, because I’ve been singing a lot more often lately. As it turns out, babies like singing, and they don’t give a rip if you’re way off key. Okay, they might rip one, but they won’t judge you, and shame on you if you judge them. 
Ava has been “enjoying” plenty of Son Volt these days (Trace is one of the CDs I dug out of haphazard stack next to my outdated stereo. I still feel such an immense sense of peace and nostalgia when I listen to that album.) With her in my arms, when I sing “Can you deny, there’s nothing greater, nothing more than the traveling hands of time?” the words mean something entirely, amazingly new. 

Warning: I'm just resting my eyes. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Just Better Than

When I get one of these ... 

Amie--Managing editor recommended this story--I spent some time mulling it over after reading. It's a great story, well-written, but just not what I'm looking for right now. Submit something else soon if you'd like! 
I need to read this ... 

... to remind myself that almost is better than. Just better than. 
Writing is hard work. Those of us in the throes know that better than. Just better than. No, in this case, better than those who aren’t in the throes. Sure, I’m not cutting or injecting people. I’m not shaping the young minds of future generations or running into buildings swallowed by flames. I’m certainly not putting my ass on the line on a battlefield (unless you think Love is a Battlefield). The truth is, I don’t have the courage to do any of those things. That being admitted, I appreciate those who do do those things. 
So I’m posting this here little post to give a shout out to all the writers out there (wave your hands in the air), because I’m feeling a little under appreciated, and well, goddamn lonely. I suppose most artists would describe their craft as a lonely profession, but because I don’t paint or sculpt or construct or compose or bake or soufflé, I’m categorizing writing as THE Lonely Profession. 
I write, and while there aren’t really days when I wish I didn’t, there are plenty when I wish it was easier. Easier to be great, I mean. Sure, it if was easy I suppose it wouldn’t be worth doing (blah, blah, blah), but no matter how much you want to snuggle up in that silver lining, almost can leave you feeling like compost. (TGINAP: Thank God I’m Not A Poet.) 
Then, just when I’m wallowing—wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am—I’m inspired by somebody like Ira Glass or somebody else I’ve never met whose story just got picked up by _______________________. Or somebody I know really well who had the courage (yes, courage) to tell me about something, anything, they wrote down.  
While I believe it takes at least some raw ability to write, I believe it also takes a fuckload of work. And Ira is right: it’s gonna take a while before the fruits of your work won’t disappoint you. Right now, for two minutes and forty-three seconds, I will let my latest rejection be a reminder that I’m inching that much closer to not being disappointed. 
Remember, My Dearest Writers: We Are Strong. (And No One Can Tell Us We’re Wrong.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hello, My Name is GEORGE

It may have been the approaching tenth anniversary of 9/11. It may have been the frustration my husband and I have endured trying to start a family over the last eight years. It may have been realizing my dad’s 66th birthday would soon be here, but he wouldn’t be. It may have been the horror that yes, I graduated high school not one, but two decades ago. 
Whatever it was or wasn’t, I have to admit, I struggled with my high school reunion. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed myself, and it was wonderful to see and talk to people I haven’t (and even have) glimpsed over the last 20 years. Still, I felt a little heavy from something I couldn’t quite single out.  
It’s funny (ha-ha!) how events tied to celebration and joy can evoke sadness. Except for the first holiday season after my father’s death, I don't remember ever having a blue Christmas. Yet I know there are plenty of people whose hearts ache with every twinkling light, every falling snowflake, every fa-la-la  and ho-ho-ho. 
Though I doubt anyone noticed, I was the 38-year-old clown in street clothes whose heart ached at her 20th reunion. Maybe that’s why I just surrendered and became GEORGE. 

Parchment High School’s 1991 Class Clown (along with Jason Wheelerwho was and is, I’m ecstatic to report, the riot of the party) had to shed the serious by not taking herself serious. 
Welcome to Jackass, section BS of Deflection 101. GEORGE is here to make you chuckle, or at the very, very least, scratch your head and mutter “huh?” If you’re looking for Amie, she promises (really!) to make the 30th. If she can locate her prom dress and coat herself with enough "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!" to squeeze into it, she’ll be the one in the "Green With Envy!" Circa 1988. 

We weren't merely freshmen (well, I was). Me and my date, who shall remain nameless for his own safety.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Waiting

They wait at stops—kids waiting for the bus in Topeka and businessman in monochromatic suits and ties, silver on silver, waiting to grab the EL and head off to another day’s work, both weary and enthusiastic. They wait in traffic jams, on steaming pavement, their bladders busting with coffee or bottled water or Sunny D. They wait in long, tenuous lines at the grocery store, one of those self-serve lanes, the sorority girl in front of them blabbering away to someone invisible, the Bluetooth above her ear an obtrusive hot pink. 

They wait at Denny’s for white plates heaped with scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon and a short stack of pancakes with a glistening mound of butter. 

At hospital bedsides, they wait to find out if their grandmother will survive another day, another hour, transfixed by the life support, a mess of circuitous tubes. They wait for a whirring box fan to seduce them into dream. 

Missing the homerun, they wait for a lukewarm beer in a plastic cup that costs eight bucks. They wait to renew their driver’s licenses, the woman at the counter tapping her fingers, her fake nails coated with gunmetal gray. They wait for the water to boil, for their rigatoni to become al dente. In the morning, they wait for the sun to rise, streaking sherbet across the horizon. 

They wait, pens clutched, for the infomercial to repeat the telephone number.

Holding their breath, drinking from a cup backwards, they wait to subdue their hiccups. They wait for the toast to pop up. They wait for first signs of hair loss, first heart attacks and first wheatgrass smoothies.

They wait to see if there’s a single line or a double line, a plus or a negative, a color that resembles blue. The wind snaps the branches, topples the garbage cans and the wheelbarrows, and they cower in windowless bathrooms, crouched inside bathtubs, waiting the storm out. They wait for the teacher to call on them, their arms shooting up, their sticky hands waving.

They hold the door, waiting for the old man with the driver's cap and the rubber boots to pass them by. They wait for some inspiration, motivation, provocation. They wait under hair dryers that look like the uniforms of astronauts. They wait to hear from the doctor’s office about their CT scans, MRIs, TEEs, EMGs, the LMNOPs of their diagnosis.

Newspapers hiding their faces, they wait for the waitress to pour them a refill. They wait for the final act, the final answer, the final seconds in regulation, the final episode, the final walk through, the final chapter and the glittering ball’s sluggish decline for the final countdown.  

They wait for the inevitable waiting, what that rock and roll singer said is the hardest part. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Whatever Floats Your Tube

Instead of stopping to smell the roses, make time to float a river in a tube. Seriously. We should all spend more time floating instead of flying through life. 
Nothing brings people together or cleanses the soul like canned beer and slightly moist, mostly salty snacks. Today, I’m thankful for friends who are willing, year after year, hurricane after hurricane, to plop their asses in inner tubes and float beside me. 
Friends, here are some vital lessons (in no particular order) I’ve learned from tubing: 
  1. The river is a great place to talknot arguepolitics.
  2. Judging is a four-letter word. 
  3. If you have a lesson on anatomy, by all means, bestow it. Don’t be shy. (See #2.)
  4. Tubes should be named (and christened) appropriately.
  5. Nostalgia should be embraced with a bear hug.
  6. It’s mandatory to laugh, and it’s also perfectly acceptable to cry.
  7. She may make you pee, guide you into sharp debris and write bad poetry, but the river will ALWAYS provide.
  8. Beware of The Mateo and raccoons with laser-beam eyes.
  9. We really, really should have commemorative t-shirts. 
  10. Why can’t someone just invent a floating fire pit? 
  11. If anyone is on the verge of capsizing, save the cooler. 
  12. Rapids ahead. Asses up. 
  13. Sure, a tent will protect you from lightning and gale-force winds. 
  14. Taquito hunting is a sport. 
  15. If you buy a pair of croakies for $11.95 at a gas station for yourself, and yourself only, well, that’s just short-sighted. 
  16. Nearly naked is not naked. 
  17. If you touch a frozen donut, you buy a frozen donut. 
Seventeen is enough. For now. If you’re feeling this vibe, feel free to drop some knowledge of your own. Just don’t drop a deuce. In the river. 

I'm the pretty one in the purple tube.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Check One, Two, Three, Four, Niner

Dear All One of You Who is Faithfully (or Not-so Faithfully) Following Me:
[Scene: The sound of a woman clearing her throat, followed by a pause, followed by the sound of someone passing gas (because face it, that's always funny), followed by the woman asking, “Is this thing even on?”] 
I need to read something dramatically genuine. A dear friend of mine and I are going to once again enter The Missouri Review’s audio contest (check out: Last year we got our shit together way too late and felt fortunate just to submit something.
This year we have the freedom of more time before the deadline (typically in March), but I’m still fretting about my voice. Does anyone like the sound of their own voice? Keep in mind, I’m talking about reading, not singing. Because my singing voice is like a songbird. (Imagine the screech of a one-winged seagull circling a landfill.) 
Maybe I’m over-thinking it, but if you happen to have a flair for the dramatic, and have any advice, please go ahead and belt it out from your shower now. Trust me, I’m listening. 
In the meantime, I’ll get back to doing what my dear friend suggested: gargling whiskey. I mean, practicing. 
The Notecracker 

I only want to sound (and dress) like her in the shower.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lost & Hoping to Find

Dear Story,
I feel like you’re lost, and while I know I have to make myself write to find you, could you pretty please give me a hint on your whereabouts? My subconscious? My basement? Behind the veggies in the crisper? 
I remember what you were last wearing: an ascot of cinnamon heather and an overcoat of sandy beige. (No, it isn't called orange. It’s all in the details, sweetheart.) 
By the way, I refuse to utter the words Writer’s Block because that's Whiner's Bullshit. (Excuses, excuses. For now, let's just go with WB, for short.) Still, I’m feeling a little tapped out these days. I need some inspiration. A muse. Or amusement. Maybe it’s work. Maybe it’s too much revising and not enough creating. Maybe it’s too much Bravo TV? 
I know. You’re right. It’s probably all three.(Okay, maybe not the Bravo.) Just remember, you don’t even have to text or send an e-mail or facebook me first. You can just show up. Unannounced. Out of that wide blue canopy we call a summer sky in Michigan. Go ahead, stalk away. You know where I live.
I’ll be waiting here with open arms or bated breath or some other cliché that I'll just have to delete later.  
A Humble Storyteller 

Isn't this free stock photo of broccoli adorable? 

Monday, August 8, 2011

I Really, Really Love My Pets and Am Not Ashamed to Admit It

I picked up my cat’s ashes last Friday. As I waited to pay, all the "kids" at the front desk kept eyeballing me, eyeballing the box of ashes on the counter, eyeballing me. I think they expected to witness a meltdown. I’m a veteran though. I’ve been through the drill before, which isn’t to say, I didn’t sob about it earlier in the week or won’t sob about it again. I miss the daily presence of my cat in my home. He was part of our family for over 14 years. I still miss Ruby, the Black Lab we lost over three years ago.  
I don’t judge people for making the choice to not have pets. Just as I don’t judge people for making the choice to not have children. That being said, I know I’ve been judged for loving and grieving the loss of my pets. I know I’ve been viewed as The Crazy Cat or The Crazy Dog Lady. I spent hundreds on medical care related to our cat, Ben. (I spent thousands, yes thousands, trying to save our Ruby.) I don’t have children, so I can’t say what I would or wouldn’t do to save a pet if I did. 
Then again, should love have a hierarchy? 
I don’t think so. And I’m glad I’ve reached the point where I don’t give a shit if people think I'm The Crazy Cat or The Crazy Dog Lady. I refuse to feel bad about giving my heart to anyone: feline, canine or human. Nobody is going to convince me the price tag I put on love is too high. 

RIP, Ben. (I don't know why "they" put your name in quotes.) 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

(Me)mentos: The Freshmaker

After my father passed away in 2007, I asked my stepmom for some mementos of his to remember him by. Unfortunately, my father and I weren't as close as I would have liked us to be. I'm not placing blame. To be honest, we were both at fault. (Accountability is, in fact, a two-way street.)  

It was strange to be asking my stepmom for something that would somehow embody my dad's essence. It was stranger still when among what she gave me, I found photos of our childhood. Photos of mainly my brother and I. School pictures my mother sent my dad so he'd have some mementos of his children. 

When I asked my stepmom for "photos," I meant photos of my dad, because I don't have many (especially of him in more recent years). Why would she have sent the photos of my brother and I back? Were they too much of a reminder of his absence or the lack of family connection between all of us? I don't have an answer, but today, I put one of these school photos to use by downloading it as my profile pic on facebook. It became clearer than ever to me: I do look a lot like my pops. So I guess I'll have to settle for carrying around his essence in my DNA. 

Me and My Pops

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yes You Can Write The Perfect Status Update!!!

Quotations can be thought-provoking. Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Sarah Palin, The Dalai Lama, Einstein, Jesus, Papa Smurf, Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Lady Gaga, Socrates, Oprah—they’ve all delivered nuggets of wisdom. Don’t think of it as plagiarism. Remember that Charles Caleb Colton said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” 
Don’t be afraid to express some enthusiasm by sprinkling in an exclamation point (or three). 
Shake things up by telling a dirty little secret about yourself. Maybe you:
  • steal silverware from restaurants;
  • had a one-night stand with your best friend’s mom; 
  • like white wine spritzers;  
  • downloaded Carly Simon’s Greatest Hits; 
  • ate shrooms before your stepdad’s funeral; 
  • don’t believe in recycling; 
  • overlooked paying your taxes in the mid-90s; 
  • got a tattoo of Bob Marley that looks more like the guy who works in the cubicle next to yours. 
Whenever possible, refer to yourself in the third person, and by all means, embrace your omniscience. 
Nostalgia rules. Tell people:
  • how your heart bleeds for your alma mater; 
  • how you loved your grandfather who put salt in his Budweiser and let you fishtail his pickup years before you had your license; 
  • how lilacs remind you of spring in Michigan.
Keep The Good Book handy. Bible verses will do in a pinch. 
Song lyrics will make you look hip. It doesn’t matter if you’re a closet admirer of Garth Brooks— “‘Cause I’ve got friends in low places where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away”—or Lil’ Wayne—“I’m a cash money millionaire look at my Rolie girl. Drop to your knees top ya hair, ah ah slow me girl.” 
R.I.P. FILL IN THE BLANK. Give a shout out to someone no longer among the living.
When in doubt, post random numbers. While the first digit that pops into your head will suffice, posting the sign of the devil or your ex’s phone number is sure to raise eyebrows. 
Lay the sarcasm on thick as buttercream frosting. E.g., Amie Heasley 
  • has learned about humility from watching America’s Next Top Model. 
  • ’s voodoo doll has an abnormal tolerance for pain. 
  • is a frontrunner for the Nobel Prize in Physics. 
  • has biceps of steel from doing Buns of Steel
  • doesn’t fear humiliation, white supremicists, death, cockroaches, brain tumors, headcheese, failure, tornadoes, plane crashes or everyday clichés. 
  • is The Greatest Ever.  
Mundane doesn’t have to be synonymous with ho-hum. Devouring a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich can be worth sharing, particularly if one is allergic to peanut butter or the jelly is petroleum.
If you must throw a pity party, do it in private. Now is the time to pull out that Thesuarus and show off newer, bolder ways to smile with your words. 

Positively Rejected!

"Thank you for submitting 'XXXXXX' to us--we enjoyed it quite a bit. Unfortunately, after some discussion, we decided that it wasn't quite right for us. We wish you the best of luck in placing this piece elsewhere, and hope that you will consider submitting to us again in the future."

This is what's "known in the business" as a positive rejection. There really are some positive takeaways here, and I'm not complaining. Wait, I guess I am, a little. I have received a lot of these lately. While I'm glad at least some of what I'm submitting is helping spread enjoyment among the publishing world, I wish said enjoyment would result in actual publishing. 

Remember, there is only one I in FAILURE. Thankfully, one thing I've never been is a quitter. So for now, it's back to the clickety-clacking. 

Word(s) = Love! 

Typing With Purpose

I told you I made t and a my bitches. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Fellow Bloggers & Blippers

How on earth do you stop editing yourself? Good God, I can't help myself. Edit, edit, edit. Nothing like re-posting something 1,000 times that 1 person will probably read.

All Smiles

“When you’re smiling, the whole world smiles with you.” How could I—how could anyone—not be seduced by these words? So what if a toothpaste commercial borrowed Louis’ line? 
Borrowed. Pilfered. Plagiarized. Bastardized. Whatever. 
Before you decide to read on, be mindful of one key fact: this is a manifesto about teeth, not truth in advertising or the power of positive thinking or jazz’s shift from collective improvisation to solo performance. To be clearer: this is a mission statement about how I, Amie Heasley, view my teeth. (It’s okay. I hear the buzzing of your oven timer, and yes, of course tater tots are best served medium well. Sure, now is a good enough time as any to get back to that documentary on gypsy weddings.) 
Still reading? 
Then let me continue avoiding the point. While I have plenty of anxiety when tackling new writing ground, I’ve found my angst is at a fever pitch when I’m not writing anything. Idle minds are fine, but I simply cannot bear idle keyboards. (Because I type with purpose. I make those keys, especially t and a, my bitch.) That being said, sometimes I do find it painful—like a shin perpetually ramming a coffee table—to write. The pain comes from two sources: 1. lack of confidence and 2. lack of plot. 
For this dissertation, which again, is about teeth, we’ll briefly examine 2. (Because let’s face it: nobody can save my SELF from my ESTEEM. I will find the right literary moment to replace “drunk” with “tight,” but I’m certain I will never ever locate my inner Hemingway. Okay, it’s official: there are too many colons and parenthetical statements in this piece. Fuck, fuck, fuck, I’m leaning too heavily on adverbs. And obscenities. I shouldn’t start sentences with and. Or end them with and. Or start them with or. Fuck.) 
See what I mean about plot. 
Despite my issues with confidence, I like to get good and lost. Most of the time I like to get good and lost in characters. Human beings are what interest me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been embarrassing my loved ones by ogling people in all settings, from churches to strip clubs. (Actually, I’ve never been inside a strip club. This is another “problem” with writing. It encourages you to [James] Frey.) 
What in God’s name does any of this have to do with teeth? Patience. We’re getting there. We’re just taking the scenic route. You said you wanted to see the largest ball of twine in the Midwest, so you will goddamn see the largest ball of twine in the Midwest, along with the tiniest ball and the medium-ist ball. (And yes, we will snap pictures of you smiling in front of each ball.) 
Back, ahem, nearer to the point. 
Like most people, one of the first things I notice about other people is ... wait for it ... wait for it ... their smile. Research has shown that those who often smile are “perceived to be more in control, at ease and attractive than those who don’t” (Lau, 1982). Studies have even revealed a link between smiling and general health and well-being. 
Today, teeth aren’t just for eating anymore. Bleaching, bonding, contouring, reshaping—cosmetic dentistry has become an art form (albeit a creepy one). Everyone seems to be paying the price to say cheese celebrity style. Everyone, that is, except me. 
Look, my mother couldn’t afford braces for me growing up, but now that I’m all growns up, I could spring to have at least some work done on my grill. So if I’m not confident in my smile, why don’t I do something about it? I could tell you it’s because I, like the other 9 to 20 percent of Americans, am afraid of the dentist. (I guess I just did tell you that. Yet again, it’s stretching the truth. But I managed to sneak in an insightful statistic.) 
Yes, I’d probably rather spend an hour cleaning my toilets than sitting in a dentist’s chair. Yes, I’d probably rather spend hundreds on stuff that stains my teeth than stuff that whitens them. Yes, I have superficial wishes I wish I didn’t have—wishes of being prettier, thinner, younger. Smilier. 
Yes, my crooked teeth are part of what makes me Amie Heasley. They aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect. Maybe they’ll change. Maybe I won’t. Either way, I hope my teeth reflect more of my character and less of my plot. I’m happy, I’m blessed far beyond most, and on the inside, I’m all smiles.