So sometimes this blog makes people uncomfortable or even upset. It can be upsetting for me to write, but I think there is value in sharing my life story, all of that story, with the world. I decided long ago if I was going to do this I was going to do it right. I’ve done 718 posts, for 6 years and managed to walk the line most of the time but I knew it would happen eventually.
I remember hearing Haven Kimmel speak in Provo last year and I asked her if she regretted writing her very personal book ‘A Girl Named Zippy. She kind of surprised me by saying that if she could do it all over again she wouldn’t do a memoir and that family members and members of her community do not speak to her any more. This especially surprised me because I was so moved by her story, so grateful for its existence. She did write flawed characters, especially her mother who is bipolar and father who is lazy with a heart of gold.
I’m grateful that she shared her story. I hope that people feel that way about my story even if I do ruffle a few feathers from time to time. I try my best to keep it as just my story but I don’t live in a vacuum, so sometimes aliases and fudgey details are required to keep the peace. What makes it all worth it is comments like this:
“I needed to read this today! Thanks for posting, sometimes I feel like the only women dealing with this. You rock!”
I know that if I ever write a book I will tick a lot of people off, even a soft, seemingly fluffy book. I apologize in advance. I am not talented enough to create worlds of fantasy, far removed from every day life. Those stories are not helpful to me, never have been. Even if it is a silly romance novel I need to be able to use a story to make my life better. That takes a lot of courage but isn’t the best writing the most courageous?
I hope if I do write a book for real someone will be able to say ‘I needed to read this today’. Writing is an inherently bold occupation and if you aren’t willing to take a few stripes along with the praise you aren’t saying anything important. And I would certainly rather be real than be safe. That’s my theory at least.
To all the other nanowrimo writers- no regrets, write you heart and have a great time. I can’t wait!
So I Nanowrimo is coming up and I thought it would be fun to post another section of my last book. In the story the 2 characters have spent a lot of time together but have never actually been on a date, so the male character decides to set up what he calls the ‘superdate’. This is an all day affair that tries to help the female character conquer her fears, make her feel bold and empowered.
Remember this is a romance and it is not supposed to be realistic. Dating can be anything but super but I thought it was fun and these stories require a little bit of fantasy so enjoy.
With lunch done there are a few more hours of work and then it is time for the big date. Oliver comes up to me and is visibly excited and this makes me excited!
“Let’s go!” I squeal with delight.
Oliver makes me close my eyes as we pull up to a big cement building. As he guides me inside like a blind person I feel anxious with anticipation.
“Open your eyes!” Oliver says. I look and at first am disappointed when I see what looks like an old grimy gym. “Where are we?”
“It’s called American Boxing. You can do boxing, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, whatever” he says with enthusiasm.
I give him a skeptical look. Sometimes I wondered if he saw me through some type of magic filter. “I don’t know if I can punch and kick like that” I say pointing to the all of the boxers who seem to kick and punch so hard and high.
“You don’t have to be like them but trust me you will love it. I bet you’ll become addicted to it. Give it a shot”.
“Ok. Why not!”
The teacher is named Isabella and she is a stunning athlete with rich Latino features and a big smile. I look at her and look at me in the mirror and then look at Oliver. I don’t get it. You could date her, I think, what are you doing with me? Anticipating my thoughts he gives my hand a little squeeze and a kiss on the cheek. I melt a little bit. Whatever he wants me to do I will try!
“First you wrap your hands” he says handing me a long pink roll that looks like an ace bandage for an ankle or wrist.
This looks tricky but with his help I get them over my hands until I look like a pink mummy. Then the red boxing gloves come over the wrapped hands. It feels heavy but not as awkward as I might have expected.
Isabella holds up 2 punching mitts and shows me how to do a basic jab, undercuts and round kicks. At first I worry about punching Isabella in the face but she seems to catch everything I do. After about 15 minutes of awkward kicks and punches I forget where I’m at and it all feels more natural. Kick, jab, and kick, uppercut, jab, and kick. Before I know it 30 minutes has come and gone and I’m gasping from the exertion. I’ve even forgotten about Oliver for a second but I look over at him and his mouth is agape. “Whoa! You were awesome! I think we have found your gift!”
“Really? You really think so?”
“Yes, it was awesome!” Isabella agrees. “We will definitely have to get you in here again soon. Let’s set it up!” I can’t believe that anyone thinks I can be good at something like this and that maybe I am? It’s just an activity I never even considered. It is so exciting!
“All right. Let’s set up another appointment.” I grab my phone from my purse and schedule ‘Meet Isabel’ for later that week.
I’m so thrilled by my unexpected success that I give Oliver a big kiss in front of Isabella and everyone. It feels exciting and passionate. Perfect for a super date!
“Ready to move on to the next adventure?” Oliver asks me?
“What else could we be doing? This was awesome!”
Back into the car we go and he makes me close my eyes again.
“All right. Phase 2 has begun. Open your eyes”. I look and it’s another cement building but after having so much fun the last time I decide to give Oliver the benefit of the doubt and head inside.
‘We are going to learn how to shoot! This is something I’ve never done so I thought it would be fun for both of us” he says.
“I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that! This is awesome!” I say with delight. I have always wanted to learn how to shoot. Strange I know but true!
Our instructor Ray gives us the massive ear covers and teaches us how to aim, shoot and withstand the force of the shot. Keeping the target relatively close I take aim and fire! The bullet goes in the posters shoulder.
“That’s good for your first time” the Instructor says. Oliver tries and has better luck closer to the heart. Wet a couple rounds for each of us and honestly at the end my shoulder and arms are sore (especially after the boxing!).
“That was awesome! I loved it!” Then I add “Thank you so much” I give Oliver another kiss.
“You’re kind of cute with a gun.” he says with a wink.
“Gosh I love you!” I say with a smile and give him another kiss.
“I love you too!” he says and we head out of the building. All it took was shooting and boxing but we had both said we loved each other. The big L word! This was definitely the best day of my life! I can tell that he is thrilled with the moment also. His smile says all the work on the super date was just made worthwhile!
“One more stop!” he says with excitement.
“What, no. This is enough!” I protest.
“We’ve got to eat something! He says.
Again he gets me into the car and makes me close my eyes. And again he tells me when to look.
When I open my eyes I see another cement building. At first I don’t get it and then I see it is Mel’s Wing House. What on earth?
When we get seated Oliver will not let me order but places it at the front desk away from me. The wings arrive and they look delicious but before I dive in Oliver gives me a warning.
“These are the fieriest wings they make. You’ll love it!”
With great trepidation I pick up a wing and take a bite. “Oh my gosh! That is so hot!” I grab a drink of milk and Oliver laughs. My eyes are watering and my mouth feels numb.
“Try one more and here are some lighter ones as well but the spicy really does have a deeper flavor”
After about 3 of the spicy and a few of the mild I can start to appreciate the experience of eating the spicy wing. It shocks you but that is part of the fun of it and eating above all things should be fun shouldn’t it?
“It’s delicious! Thank you. I’m so excited to know about this place. It is totally the type of place that I would never have gone to on a date before but it’s delicious.”
“Why wouldn’t you have gone here on a date?” he asks
“Because it’s messy and unladylike. I would have been afraid of spilling on my clothes. I had about 3 items I could order on a date and most of them required a lot of cutting with a knife and fork. No fingers.”
“I’m glad we met in the way we did. You weren’t trying to impress anyone and neither was I.”
“Me too. We could always be real with one another. Once you are caught crying about your mother visiting it is hard to be not be real” I say with a smile. I had sauce all over my fingers and my lips felt fiery with all the heat. When we kissed his lips felt spicy and it made my whole body tingle. It was certainly clear to me why Oliver had picked this restaurant.
As my body and mouth started to cool down I could feel the chili peppers in my stomach. I hope I didn’t get sick but luckily the wing place had frozen yogurt as well and that helped cool everything down. It was all unforgettable! The whole night was unforgettable. It really was the super date.
“So you did it. Best date in history! I only have one question for you…” I say with a flirty smile.
“What’s that?” he asks
“How are you going to top this? Setting the bar pretty high for the first date don’t you think?”
“That’s how I intend to do things! Set the bar high and keep jumping over it”
“I have one more question for you” I say with a slight degree of awkwardness. This is the big question. “Why me?” I couldn’t help for a second to think of Isabella at the gym. “You could have anyone you want. Why me?”
“I could ask the same thing of you. Why would you a master’s graduate want to be with someone who is a college dropout? Believe me I’m every bit as insecure about that as you are about your weight. “
“But that doesn’t matter to me at all” I say in amazement.
“See, I feel the same way about you. Will you finally believe me?” he says
I look into his eyes deep inside. I have to know for sure and I finally I know. He is the real deal. He really loves me as much as I love him. Wow. I still can’t believe it!
“I meant what I said earlier. I love you! I’ll never be perfectly secure but maybe if I am loved by someone as great as you it will get better. It’s been such a long year I don’t know what I think about myself. On one hand I feel strong and the other it has been a very weak year. Panic attacks, anxiety and more”
Another kiss and I look down and ask one more question “What would you think if I still quit my job?”
He looked surprised but nodded “Even with all the changes Rich has installed you still want to change?”
“Yes, I just keep getting this feeling that God needs me somewhere else. It won’t be right away but maybe at the end of the summer? Who knows why God wants us one place or another? I couldn’t tell you but I keep hearing the direction to ‘make a change’. I’ve been hearing it for three years and I can only ignore it for so long. Believe me I know what it feels like to push against what God wants you to do and it is not a pleasant experience.”
“If that is what God wants you to do than he will prepare a way for you to accomplish it? Go for it!” he said with more enthusiasm than I expected.
“It seems crazy to quit a job with benefits and good pay in this economy but I’ll end up having another panic attack if I don’t follow what God has in line for me.”
“Who cares what other people think? Your family and friends will support you and that’s what matters.” He says
“You are right.” I feel like this was the lesson I have to keep relearning again and again throughout my life. “Don’t’ care so much about what other people think” my mother used to say. Caring what others would think of me had caused my panic attack and yet I couldn’t quite get it out of my head. Perhaps nobody can but I will try and do better at it. I know my life would be a lot happier if I could figure out that one thing.
“I’m not sure when I will make the announcement but it will be such a crazy day. I think I will talk it over with my Dad while he is here because the last thing I want to do is appear ungrateful”
“That’s that caring what other people think thing again…” he says.
“Oh yeah, darn it but it is good to be considerate of other people’s feelings” I say in response.
“True. Just be cautious and don’t use other people’s opinions as validation for your own self-worth. That is the most important thing. God should tell you who you are and your value not any person, even me” he says.
“Do me one favor” he adds “give me a couple days heads notice when you are leaving. That might be a good time for another super date!”
“Deal! If it’s anything like this night I am in for a treat. It has honestly been the best night of my life! Thank you so much!” I say with glee, giving him one longer, soft, still a little spicy kiss.
“By the way, I think it might be a good idea for us to implement a new rule, I will call it the 20 seconds in heaven rule.”
“What is that?” he asks with a questioning expression.
“It’s that we cannot kiss for more than 20 seconds especially when we are alone.” I then explain that I made a promise to God years ago that I would remain morally pure until marriage and it’s just too darn fun and exciting to kiss him. “I don’t want to risk breaking a promise to God.”
“That’s going to be hard but I agree. Most of the married couples I know who waited seem to have the best marriages. I think if we work together on this we can do it.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever loved you more than at this moment. Let’s do it!” and then we kiss maybe longer than 20 seconds. It will take some getting used to! At least we are heading in the right direction and on the same page.
“Life is certainly going to be interesting the next few months. I’m curious to see how it all turns out” I say with a sigh.
“Me too. Curious and excited! Let’s go home. I’m exhausted. “
So that was the end of the super date. The great thing was each part of the date was repeating many times in the months to come. I started going to the boxing gym at least twice a week and the wings joint became a regular favorite. I would certainly never look at hot sauce the same way. Probably the greatest blessing of the super date is I learned ways to release adrenalin, aggression and frustration in healthy productive ways. It was so exciting and I was so grateful for Oliver to introducing me to every part. My rapid heartbeat lessened with each balanced happy day and I became all the closer to being an anxious free, happy person.
Growing up my sister was the writer of the family. I was the opinionated one. She used to have these little notebooks where she would write poems and other witty observations about the world. I was the commenter. I would tell my thoughts to whomever and whoever would listen. This got me into trouble on more than one occasion.
Even with my friends I would talk about my opinions about my family, church, and feminism. I remember when I was a little girl being disgusted at a wedding when they introduced the couple as ‘Mr and Mrs John Doe’. I immediately thought ‘hey why doesn’t she get a name?’ I was talking about this experience with a friend and she was surprised at how a young girl would even notice such thing but I did.
Megan and I used to make little newspapers where we would write comics, movie reviews and of course the news of the day. One of the editions I saved has a pretty good critique on the democratic primary of 92 and Bill Clinton’s performance. What 11 year old kid watches the debates and can gather her thoughts into a concise argument for fun?
I also have a persuasive essay I wrote around that time about how my mother is so ‘overly-cautious’ and ‘won’t let me do anything. Even go to the mall alone’. I actually turned that in for a grade. I found it and gave it to my Mom for Mother’s Day a few years ago. I hope I got a good grade!
I found some journals I did for a civics class in middle school where I railed on President Clinton and the welfare system and how people should be taught work skills as well as be fed/clothed.
It continued on to my high school years where I was involved mainly in drama and swimming but I still found ways to express myself. Mainly in debates with my mother. I read much of the feminist mantra when I was that age and my mother caring for an infant seemed far too backward. I’m glad she was patient enough to challenge my newly forming brain and help me develop more nuanced ideas. It actually became a part of our relationship I cherish most. We can talk and debate and challenge each other and leave with a smile. I miss it if we go too long without a deep thoughtful discussion on the issues of the day (I’ve pretty much come around to her way of thinking in the end!)
Then I started college and what do you think drew me in immediately? It was politics, particularly political theory, because theory can be discussed and pondered forever. There is no right answer to what freedom means or justice. You can talk about such things until you are blue in the face and believe me during those years I tried.
I also took fabulous classes including ‘theories on human freedom’ and the ‘political economy of women’. Both of them taught me the importance of words on people’s lives and how I must always find the heart in my writing. Whether it is advocating for the Lost Boys of Sudan or Speaking out against domestic violence, words should matter and effect the reader or they are just words.
Then there was the mission. I didn’t have a lot of time to write on the mission, but when I did, it was my salvation . I found a mission to be a very difficult and lonely experience. I lived off of letters from home and writing back. I have always collected stationary and I used up most of mine on the mission
“Life is like a great human chain. The point of the human chain is so no one gets lost. Everyone has someone in his or her life to hold on to and everyone has someone else holding on to them”
It’s not the most profound statement ever written but the point is I was writing and giving opinions even when on a mission.
The the journey of writing continued into grad school. I wrote papers about everything from HR needs and Economic policies. Writing for some reason felt easy for me in grad school. It’s like all the jumbled up stuff I wanted to explode out in high school had gotten out and it was a great time for writing, even if it was business writing!
I even became a pretty good editor at this point. Who knew!
Then I graduated and quit my job. All of the sudden there was a void in my life and what was I going to fill it with? What I had always filled it with- opinions and writing. That birthed this blog. I am excessively proud of it and it fills me with joy when people can feel my honesty and they feel they know the real me. Because they do. It is how I have always written and spoke and it has served me well for many years.
It means a lot to me to write. But also to write to say something, to comment on the world. I want someone to read my entries and say ‘I’ve had that same situation in my life’ and then we can bond and share and grow together. The world really is small when you can write and opine.
I’m so grateful for the many people, particularly in the last few weeks, who have told me that they relate to my writing and that it speaks to them. That means a lot because my writing is my heart. There is no writer veil. It is just me.
So my sister invents characters and creates worlds. I see the world around me, comment and create words. Both great. Both needed.
It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living.”
Anne Marrow Lindbergh
If my writing can help someone else live better than this blog may be the greatest thing I do. I’m proud of it. Proud of each post whether silly or profound, and I intend to make it my legacy because it is me in full on technicolor.
So writing and commenting. That’s my way. Particularly in the last few weeks I seem to be phrasing issues in a way that people really respond to. This makes me very happy and I’m excited for the future as we learn and grow together. I’m excited for more writing!
Going to be interesting to see how that meshes with nanowrimo coming up. Anyone out there want to be my writing buddy?