Who I am as a Writer

That is the fun about exploring who cares if it matches or makes sense?

Of late I have found myself reading posts and forums on the work of writing. How outlines must be created, chapters briefly explained. How every day one must sit down at a certain time and write a certain amount of words. I read these words and I am at a loss to understand.

I am not that type of a writer. I cannot do outlines. I cannot set aside time every day at a set time to write.  I write when my voices speak to me. I have no control over what I write because I am only the conduit for my characters.

Does that sound odd? I have always been lost to my characters. I can write no outlines because I do not know where the story is going. I cannot control much beyond finding pen and paper or my phone to write on if they decide to talk to me when I am not at home and have my computer handy.

My email is filled with little notes to myself from my characters. Not because I believe that they are truly sending me emails but because some times they let me know of a small but important factor of the story not yet told. And so I email myself that note so as to not lose it and every time I open up to check other emails, there is it re-reminding me of their intent.

My first draft will include everything that my characters want it to include. The second draft will be a parsing of the first draft. In some cases whole chapters will be rewritten or deleted as unnecessary. Third draft a little more cutting and reshaping. The story is still all theirs I am just modifying with their assistance. Fourth draft, by than we have found our voice and the story speaks strongly. This is based on my experience of writing a novel in high school.

My characters stopped coming to me when I become not me. Twenty some long years while they remained silent. My poetry was my only outlet but it was written in bursts of heartache and pain. Depression and naked vitriol. Since becoming the saner happier version of myself, my characters are returning in full force. They are awakening and boy oh boy are they rarin’ to go.

I look at my writing today and I love where it is going. I am never going to be famous because of my words and I probably never will make enough money that would allow me to retire from my job and write full time. But I will write. And I will create. Because for me, like the Bards of times passed, it is the story and the characters that call to me and draw me in.

I chose to share my writing in part due to a fellow blogger who pushed and kicked me into joining WordPress. Also, I finally am in a space in my life where I am proud of how I write and I want others to enjoy it. I do not seek acclaim (a wee bit of praise is nice lol but just knowing others see my posts is validation) for I finally am writing in freedom and peace, and I am loving it.

 

Would you jump too?

When I was a little girl and well let’s face it right up until the time that I moved out of the house, I did not get all the things I wanted. Cabbage Patch Kid phase, I was the only kid on the block without one. One of my friends had two and I was green with jealousy. I cannot quite recall the other things I wanted in life that all my other friends had but what I can tell you is my mother’s comment on all these passing phases. (And yes I realize that having a Cabbage Patch Kid now would earn me some serious cash but alas, I am missing out. Thanks a lot mom.)

My mother was a single mom in a time era where divorce was still frowned upon. But that is a subject for another story. Here we are discussing her absolute disdain for popular phases and my desire to follow them. (Just remembered another one, in grade 7 it was Melissa Jeans with a white stripe down the side. Finally got them as they were on the down swing. And the pair I had were defective. The zipper refused to stay up. I walked around half the day with my zipper down, showing off my scarlet granny panties for everyone to see before one of my friends alerted me.)

Our conversations would always start off the same. ‘Mom I really really need a Cabbage Patch Kid.’ ‘Jay, it is really close to Christmas just wait until Santa comes.’ So I was excited. Ten years old and although I knew Santa was my mom, I had expectations. I wrote a letter I believe to Santa. And than came Christmas. There was no Cabbage Patch Doll under the tree. What on earth! Santa always got me at least one of my asked for gifts on my list. Why had he forsaken me?

Now every smart child knows that the time to ask for a much needed item is not during the holiday season. So I waited. And waited. My Amma passed away just before Christmas that year and in January I was struck with (as the doctor put it) good old fashioned Scarlet Fever.

Finally I asked again for a Cabbage Patch Kid and this was my first (probably not but the first time I recall it) introduction to what would become my mom’s famous last words. ‘Jay-lyn Anne you are not going to die without a Cabbage Patch Kid. If all your friends were to jump off a bridge would you do the same?’ I think I may have made a smart ass comment about knowing how to swim but alas, it failed to impress.

Let us fast forward 33 years. There is a new fad in town. It is called a Fidget Spinner. It is a plastic toy for kids to keep their hands busy. Are you kidding me? It is literally a piece of plastic that kids spin around their fingers. M has indicated to me that it is kinda neat but I am appalled.

She bought K one. I said when I saw it, no way in hell is T getting something dumb ass like that. His dad has agreed to ‘make’ one for him at home in the shop. Not sure if his dad is waiting for him to forget or will actually make him one. I do not care. I refuse to spend money on something this dumb. Which brought back the statement ‘If all your friends jumped off a bridge would you too?’ and I understand now where my mom was coming from.

T and his dad came to the store to shop yesterday. We had a conversation about the Fidget Spinner and how I most certainly was not going to buy him one. With a slight pout and whine T asked me why not? I did not use the statement my mom used on me but I did tell him that the reason why was because his interest would last as long as it did for his talking Elmo and Chuck the Truck. He asked how long was that? I said one day!

As I said one day to him, the statement if all your friends jumped off the bridge would you do it too? And I finally understood what my mom meant.

The Invisible Brake

I am sure that as every teenager passes into that realm of being a responsible adult by learning how to drive every last one of us….we have driven with our parents.

I am unsure if when a father teaches his daughter or son that the same things occur when a mother teaches the same children to drive. I will actually never know. My mom taught me how to drive. Kinda. I mean, because of her, I learned how to drive a standard. The rest of it, I learned in an automatic. Most cars I drove were automatics because well my mom did not trust me enough to let me drive her car.

When I was 14 we took a trip down to Texas. My mom allowed me to sit in the driver’s seat in a McDonald’s parking lot and practice shifting gears. Totally awesome right. I am one of those summer babies. So while all my friends hit their landmarks in school, I hit them all before the next school year started. (Try being the only 17 year old in your group of friends graduating, sober, boring and watching everyone else have a grand time) PSA Drinking does not lead one to have a good time. But in moderation and with good friends, it can enliven an evening and make for good memories.

So while all my friends were getting their driver’s license’s I was held back by my age restraint. And than the fact that the first time I went for my driver’s test, my brake lights did not work, second time I failed everything but the parallel parking aspect and third time is the charm. Got my license.

Alright, I have my license. Hey I even had a job. I was well on my way to becoming a responsible and active adult member of society. But mom, well mom had some issues.

The first time we drove together after I got my beginner’s was in the Kmart parking lot near our home. There was a lot of shouting. It was a Sunday. (This was before Sunday shopping was a thing, so the parking lot was empty.) I stalled a lot. Do you know, that really to shift gears is so easy, 20, 40, 60 and 80 and 100. Learned that from a boyfriend. Prob only good thing cause I don’t recall his name.

Mom yelled. I slammed on brakes. A lot. Not the invisible one. The real one. I stalled. She drove home.

Which leads me to this recollection.

One Friday evening mom is going out with the girl friends. I am going to babysit for one of them. Mom decides that I should drive from one end of the city to the other. Back in my day it would take about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes depending on how I hit the lights. Today, it would take us close to an hour and a half.

Hyundai Pony. A blondish gold color. Very basic. Had the radio on to my station. Yes, mom allowed me to have my radio station on. She sat in the passenger seat which underneath the glove box had a shelf that held the interior warmer. This is an item that you have when you live in Manitoba.  One plugs it in along side their regular block heater. This one though kinds takes the chill outta getting into a car in -40 degree celsisus weather.

The drive from home to the downtown area of Winnipeg is uneventful. It is twilight and I have made most of the lights so it has been clear sailing. Part of my route is a known route for it is the way we drive to my grandparents every week. Mom and me we are talking. Laughing. Having one of those really rare mother daughter (when she is a teenager) moments. Where all the animosity, the ‘you know nothing attitude’ the exasperation because well how do you understand a daughter who is nothing like you? That night mom and me, we were in a groove.

We are driving up Donald Avenue. This area is center downtown Winnipeg. It is a bus route. It is Friday night approximately 7ish in the evening. Traffic is enough to make mom a little nervous. So we are cruising along. I am doing all the right things. I am, for one, in the damn lane I need to be in. Two, I am watching all angles of traffic…..including the buses to the right of me. And yes, I am aware that the bus has it’s flasher on. Yes mother I am aware, I am watching.

Well mom had very little faith in my ability to gauge traffic. To this day she still grabs the door handle if she thinks I might be about to kill us all. First she says ‘Jay, watch out.’ I look at her and say nothing. (From the corner of my eye) ‘Jay-lyn do you see that bus?’ I glance at her and return my concentration to the road. Please note, the bus is 50 feet in front of me, edging out and I have already taken my foot off the gas because a) my depth perception is a little off and would rather be safe than sorry b) mom is starting to panic.

The bus swings out into my lane. There is more than enough room to spare. I am no where near crashing into and killing not only ourselves but the bus riders. Mom shrieks. I look at her in dismay. Radio is playing Bon Jovi. And mom slams on her invisible brake.

Her invisible brake? The shelf that held the interior warmer. She slammed her foot into that shelf like it was going to bring the car to a complete and utter halt. My head whips around and in a split second I gape at her than return my attention to the road. The bus soars off into the distance and four cars are able to slide into the gap.

I glide to a stop at the red light. And my head swivels to look at mom. Mom stares back at me. I cannot even ask the question. But I do. ‘Mom what do you not trust me?’

Mom looks at the the shelf. She looks at me. (and this is poetic license)

‘Onward Jeeves.’

**If memory serves I think there was a lot of giggling and accusations shouted in fun. I demanding to know if she didn’t trust my driving skills or what? And her defending her actions……’but that bus was soooooo close.’**

Apple…..Tree

I am a rather sarcastic person. My humor tends to be a little rough. Not quite as rough as fart jokes, but it can be a little rough. I make smart ass  comments in an aside to M all the time. Than we giggle like little school girls. However, I never realized quite how much T takes after me until last evening.

Soccer practice was cancelled due to rain. Rain had stopped but the fields were a mess so Thursday it will be an hour and a half practice. (Wohoooooooo) T and me are at home and I have informed him that he must come and help me with the dishes. All I needed for him to do was put the dishes away. First we bartered about how much money this was going to earn him. I informed him that at the end of the week I would let him know how much money he earned so long as he did what I asked.

This lead to a conversation of how unfair it was, that none of his other friends ever had to do chores. I responded with ‘I am not their parent, I am yours. And to teach you to be a responsible adult, you are going to learn to do chores. Do you know why buddy?’ He looks at me like I am crazy. ‘Because life as an adult is one never ending chore. I clean the house, I do laundry, I work, I make your lunch, I cook dinner, I do and do and do……with the possibility of getting fifteen minutes in at the end of the day, before I fall asleep.’

He stared at me and blinked his eyes before grabbing the cutting board and asking where it went. Our conversation as he put away the plates, the wine glasses, was the daily things all people talk about. Nothing you would attach significance to. Finally as the sink is empty of all put the cutlery I begin to wash the dishes.

I had been making a steak last week to a request of rare. I had never ever cooked a steak rare, I am a well done kinda girl. So I had my probe thermometer out and googled it to ensure I had the right temperature and score!!!! I did it. That aside, it was in the sink with the cutlery, stem pointing up so I cautioned T to be careful so he didn’t poke himself. He proceeds to take the thermometer out and spin it around the counter. By now I have washed my cutlery twice and want to rinse it off and put in other sink to dry.

‘Hey buddy, do you think you could take the cutlery out? Just grab it and put on counter. Than you can put in the drawer.’

‘Sure mom.’ And he does. Grabbing two pieces of cutlery at a time. Two!

I can feel my jaw clench as I grind my back teeth. Like seriously grab all the cutlery.

‘Dude what are you doing? Grab some more. Like this’

I reach over and scoop up all the cutlery and dump it on the counter. I look at him standing behind me and he is grinning from ear to ear.

‘Like dude, seriously why didn’t you do that?’

‘Because mom, there might have been something in there that would have poked me.’

And his eight year old voice took on that forced falsetto all men do when they are imitating women. Only he was mocking his mother! I stared at him for a minute as my brain tried to process the fact that my child had just turned my words around on me in the perfect sarcastic play that I actually envy. I played right into his clever little hands. (We all know he didn’t plan it; it just played out this way) I tried to glare but he knew I was faking as I hollered ‘why you little booger!’ T chortled with glee and I kicked him in the butt and we both laughed.

Honestly as I write this I am giggling away. He is so much like me that it is unbelievable. He is also so much like his father. And yet, he is so uniquely himself. This little boy, no not even, he is becoming a young man….the evolution is slow and I hope it will be good, but he is no longer my little baby. As funny as he is.

****I did not come up with this title. I stole it from a friend who said this to me after I told ’em the story.

Total Recall

Tonight my mom and me were talking. She asked me what I remembered about a family trip we had taken in 1983. I listed off a few things that I recalled. And even more sprang to mind. 

Mom than says to me that as she reads it becomes real and there are memories she had forgotten. And was not sure how me and the bro would react to the emotions and memories.

‘​We are different now mom. And that is a cause for reflection. And seeing a glimpse into our shared past and I don’t know how to explain the rest of what I want to say.’

But now I do. What I wanted to/was trying to say was: The people that we are now and the shared experiences that we have had, colors how you look at the memories. You see the child and the woman/man that we have become. Imaglimated. How we act and the way we speak now will tinge those pictures recreated as the evolved personality is seen. 

The diaries she is reading were written between the years of 1983-1987. Part of me wants to relieve those memories to laugh and cry. To see the life the three of us carved. 

A large part of me wants to hide. 1986-1987 were not good years and I don’t mean for wine. They were brutal years for me and I was a nasty teenage girl. 

However in my insights to how my mom feels lays my own insight. To continue on this path I have begun I am going to have to face that horrid scared 13-14 year old me. And I am going to get to know her again through my memories and hers. 

Mother and Son 2…

Having a boy is hard. Not because well, I am a woman and do not understand the whole car and what not aspect. Not because I am watching him evolve, and girls are becoming more of a ‘thing’ in his life. T has a girl who is friend, not a girlfriend. Boys are just hard because I have to learn a whole new language and discard some of my ideas and proprieties. Case in point a conversation between K and T yesterday.

K to T: Do not waste your diamonds on a ho!

M: What is a ho? (Cause y’all know that is what she is thinking.)

K: You do not know what a ho is?!?! This is a ho! (Total exasperation because mom is such an idiot)

T: No that is a booty slapper! (Hint it is a shovel but he believes it sounds funnier calling it a booty slapper.)

M: Do you even know what a ho is?

K: (with a look of total disdain) you use it to hoe grass mom!

They were playing Minecraft. The conversations that we hear with these two boys often includes slang that we just are not sure which context it is being used in. I have also discovered this week that my child has a bit (okay a lot) of my sarcastic side comments. He though does not mutter them under his breath the way I do, he just blurts them right out there for everyone to hear and acknowledge.

M has been mulling over the possibility of getting herself a motorcycle. Not entirely sure why and when she announced it to the boys, they were flummoxed. Her point is that prior to their appearance, we both did have other lives. T’s response was to state “That is not going to end well.”

His babysitter has two daughters. Both older than T. He is like their little brother and it is different for them to have a little guy around. On Friday as everyone is in bathroom whether blow drying their hair or brushing teeth and hair, there is my child banging his balloon around asking someone to play with him. K (his sitter) slams it hard and it bounces out. T is dismayed until it is pointed out to him that it is right behind him. Than they are all getting ready for school. Well, T’s bag is already to go and he is leaning against the door waiting and waiting for the girls. K says to them to make sure that they have everything as she has an appointment and will not be home. T’s response “Yeah like that is going to happen.” Death was almost instantaneous from the laser eyes except for the wall between him and H. J just snorted because she knew he was right.

Lastly, Saturday after suppper, M and me are sitting talking. I am telling her how with my spending spree that I am into my overdraft. Not hugely, I can live with the amount over I am but still I just got paid lol. All gone. But the bills are all paid and the fridge and freezer are full. T is playing on the floor when he suddenly looks up at me, worry etched on his face. “Mom am I into my overdraft?”

There is never a quiet or dull moment in my household. T has so many things he wants to know, or has an opinion on. I love all of them. Because no matter what, he knows how to make me laugh. And I treasure the smart ass quality that appears every now and than as it reassures me that a small part of me is in there. It also means he listens when M and me mock others. Not sure if that is a good life lesson, but he would learn it anyway. As long as I teach him, he can be kind in his mockery and absolutely never ever mock the person to their face. Unless a close friend who gets you. M mocks me all the time and vise versa.