Tag Archives: Hope

The Winter of Our Discontent

images-2It’s been bad. Maybe not everywhere but almost, and us New Englanders have had one WTF day after another. The travel conditions and gray skies were overwhelming by themselves but on top of that we had leaky roofs, window condensation, broken doors, broken bones, influenza, ice dams, pot holes, salt and slush and filthy mountains of snow obstructing views at every intersection.

Everyone you talk to says, “I am so done with this.” Every single person says this. “I am so done.” It has created a certain zeitgeist, a cultural temperament. We are the sound of a thousand whoopee cushions. We care about nothing. We can barely open a bag of potato chips for dinner. We have so much longing we don’t even recognize it anymore.

This winter let us have it, under no uncertain terms. We watched the weather report like Czech villagers waiting for the curfew to lift, the bombs to stop dropping. We are ragged, pale and snippy. We are so done.

April may be the cruelest month but March is no picnic. The thaw has started bringing water, fog, swollen doors and jagged slivers of hope.

But will spring redeem us?

I’m not sure, but I am feeling the itch to blog again, and that must be something. That must mean I am not quite done.

What about you?

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When You’re a Jet You’re a Jet All the Way

Jets
Over a month since I’ve been here and I don’t have a single decent excuse to throw at you. My head feels like a Ninja blender most days, filled with ice cubes and peanut butter and eggplant parmesan and big honkin’ Brazil nuts and liverwurst and gouda cheese and low sodium V-8. A smoothie from hell.

The day job’s spilled over into the rest of my life, the car’s on its last leg, the writing plods along like the slug that it is, my house is falling apart around me, my kids are my kids are my kids, my dogs need their toenails clipped and their butts expressed and they have cabin fever and keep humping the couch pillows, my spouse is working like the workaholic that she is and fades out with me during Primetime television at night and here’s the damnedest thing, I keep getting older. That bugger time just pushes along.

Don’t get me wrong, I go through the motions, but I feel dull as an old nickel choking at the bottom of someone’s penny jar. My only hope is to write to Ellen and get her to fly me out to California and save my sorry ass. But my story is so lame compared to all the other heartbreakers with their deployed spouses and termite infested homes and 17 children and gambling debts.

‘Tis the season. Inadequacy looms behind every missed bargain, limp latke, pilled sweater, new chin hair, broken ornament.

I know, as my mother would always say, this too shall pass. I will wake up soon and feel lucky. My hair will behave, there won’t be a run in my knee high stockings, the coffee will taste amazing and give me the perfect buzz, the kid at the Dunkin Donuts drive through might wink at me, I’ll think of a perfect sentence, write an scene that’s hysterical and poignant, my kids will make me laugh, I’ll have dinner with a friend who will tell me I smell good, I’ll organize my linen closet or find the perfect recipe for vegan gingerbread with only 5 ingredients. Life will smile on me, show me the error of my ways. All things will once again be possible.

I know there is an up to this down, a ying to this yang. I know I’ll come back to this blog eventually. I’ll write shit for anyone bored or brave enough to read it. This is the way my world spins. With a bang and a whimper, both.

It’s good to be back here, waxing and waning. Gives me a glimmer of the “H” word, dare I say it, hope. Throwing it out there to you. Spread it around when you get it. If you’re in the gang of shame and loathing, you know we’ve got to keep that sucker going.

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Help Yourself

I buy books about writing like other people buy self-help books. They inspire me for a few weeks, get me back to the writing and make me feel like I can finish and publish a novel some day. My latest find, however, is an actual self-help book, written by one of my favorite writers and someone who I consider an authority on self-help because he has had a shit storm of a life and lived to tell. Or perhaps more accurately, told to live.

Augusten Burroughs of Running with Scissors, Dry and a host of other hilarious, gut wrenching memoirs is one of my many literary heroes. His latest, This is How, offers kick butt advice on just about everything that ails you. If you can’t find yourself in this book you are either an alien or a Stepford wife. I’m going to reread this book until the pages are thin and stained beyond recognition with coffee and greasy Frito thumbprints. I’m thinking if I read this book for one hour a week it will save me a fortune in therapy bills and I can stay home in my pajamas.

OK, so maybe this book won’t transform me overnight, and maybe it won’t be the answer to my existential crisis of late, but it gets me thinking about things I am uncomfortable with like failure and shame and grief. And it gives me hope. Not Hallmark hope or Obama hope and not even as Emily Dickinson said, the thing with feathers. It’s a small hope. Smooth like a stone that’s been dashed by a thousand waves. Surprisingly strong, like a baby’s grasp around your pinky. There in the morning when you hit the alarm and stagger into another day. There at night when you drift in and out of dreams like a stranger. There when a friend calls out of the blue and saves you from loneliness.

But maybe none of this floats your boat. Instead, you can always go get Jane Fonda‘s latest self-help book, Prime Time. I cracked it open in the bookstore and randomly landed on a page where Jane was interviewing an eighty-something man in an assisted living facility. The topic: sex. Yup. Apparently this man, Norm or Bob or whoever, was crushing on another octogenarian in the home and finally got up the nerve to ask her out. After a few dates in the dining hall they went up to her room and got busy. Jane says, isn’t skin on skin great Norm (or Bob or Fred or whoever). Sex isn’t just about penetration, right Norm, wink wink. I swear she said this (ok I added the winks). Really Jane? This excerpt did not make me want to purchase your book. In fact, it kind of scared me. I always thought I’d like going into a nursing home. Bus trips to the mall, bingo with the high school volunteers, yoga sitting in a chair. But I really don’t want to wind up in bed with the likes of Norm or Norma or whoever and have them spill their guts to Jane Fonda. Can’t say I recommend this one but Fifty Shades of Grey is being made into a movie so what the hell do I know.

Maybe you’ve read a self-help book that changed your life. Or a book on writing that inspired you to new heights. Don’t hold out on us. Tell all.

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