Monday, August 4, 2014

The State At 48

I recently spent thirteen hours in Raleigh, NC, in a newly renovated Four Points Sheraton off Highway 40, next to a Hooters AND a Bojangles. Jealous, I know you are. It was uneventful, except that every service person that I came in contact with, the sparky desk clerk, the van driver, the older cashier with a terrible limp at the Starbucks all said the same thing when I asked them, “How are you today?” They each replied, “I’m blessed.” I found it especially charming, as Yankees don't use expressions like that.

I have not written for this space in quite some time as I generally only post here when I feel particularly inspired to share something meaningful, an insight I feel might be helpful to others, a story with a positive message. The last few months I’ve spent stewing in my own juice, simply struggling to get by. But today I turn 48 fucking years old, so I figured I’d make a point to cobble a few words together.

TBTYA (Throw Back Thirty Years Ago)

YIKES. Orwell's dystopian vision of 1984 isn't as scary as this 1984 hair.

Even at my advanced age, I often channel that moody girl with too much eye makeup, drunk on wine coolers, dancing with a mopey smirk to the Smiths on heavy rotation. In many ways, my 48 year old life style isn’t too different from your average 18 year old. I currently live with roommates, I am struggling with my weight, I have no major responsibilities, I am prone to bouts of heavy sulking (although I’ve traded Morrisey in for Leonard Cohen. UPGRADE!)  To top that all off, it's summer, so I’m sporting my usual hormonally jacked up sun mottled face, a condition that gets worse every year. I am on week 34 of 42 weeks of Invisalign. Wearing a mouthguard made of teeth shifting plastic in my piehole for 20+ hours a day has guaranteed that if I’m tired or I’ve had a drink or two (let’s be honest, one or both of those states is most of my waking life) that my speech sounds like I suffered a minor stroke. I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that I’m coming into 48th tour of the sun suffering from a bit of an 

This all brings me down a bit, hence the stewing and pouting. But I’m slowly sensing a shift happening, and I’m doing everything I can to keep that momentum going. I could choose to focus on what I no longer have; a creamy complexion, a flat stomach, a love interest, the ability to function without sleep, an automobile, a job that values my personal space, feet that can run without pain, clear enunciation, a mindset that allows me to smile and shut up in the face of life's fuckery. All these concepts are in the rear view mirror for me, some temporarily, some are most likely gone for good. But to lament these lost blessings seems like a misguided waste of spirit.

I choose to look at what I do possess, right now, on this day, on this morning. I celebrate that am physically and emotionally well, that I have enough money and flexibility to come and go as I please for the most part, that I live in a house with people who always have my best interests at heart, that I am surrounded by friends who bolster me, who find my signature blend of hope encrusted cynicism refreshing. And I have this, my most cherished jewel. My writing.

In the last four years, I’ve accomplished more than I ever thought was possible in terms of writing. There have been projects that are considered to be under the traditional “success” umbrella; reading a story with loving Story Sessions friends at City Winery, dabbling in fiction for a WBEZ podcast (, having Wally Lamb, a writer I’ve admired since his first book was published, offer me words of encouragement about my work. These accomplishments write my name in the sand, briefly exclaiming I WAS HERE! These are the stuff of Facebook “likes”, the kind of things my mother can tell her friends that I’ve done, thus proving I'm more than a sky waitress. But writing to me is so much more than those treasured moments, writing has provided me with an unprecedented feeling of being HEARD. It has been life altering for me to interact with people who make themselves available to listen or read what I have to say intently. I am continually touched by the kind souls who attempt to understand me through my stories. The most meaningful gift I can ever receive is the trifecta of your time, your eyes/ears, and your mind, and staying worthy of that will forever motivate me to keep writing.

I’m not exactly sure where my words will take me in the future. I feel like I’m living the E.L. Doctorow quote: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog, you can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” I'm only focusing on the projects that are right in front of me that make me feel whole. My only clear goal is to keep working diligently, looking ahead through the headlights' beam, trusting that I can find whatever trip I’m destined to make by that light.

So here I am at 48, a little tired, sun dappled, not so toned, with a mouth full of plastic teeth. How do I feel? Absolutely, positively, extraordinarily blessed.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, people. I'm on a quest to see friends all around the country these days. I hope our paths cross somewhere soon.

Photo credit: black and white photo by Jill Howe (

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