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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

People have been asking…no begging…no nagging me to update my blogs. 3women was created for the sole purpose of developing a creative blog, and well, when one of the authors doesn’t feel very creative, the blog suffers.

It’s like having a palette of greys, whites, and blacks when all you want are rich reds, bright yellows, and sultry blues. And then, finding the will to paint, the will to sit down and paint, write, create is near excruciating. It’s embarrassing as talented as I suppose I am and as educated and privileged as I am that I sit here with severe writer’s block, slowly slipping into the worst kinds of sorrows, anxieties and fears.

Look at the world around us. Take a good look. Wars. Famon. Poverty. Hate. Murder suicides over unpaid bills. Uncertain economy. Dow Jones. Rent is due. Massive layoffs. Obesity. Early retirements. Angry emails. Lethargic bodies lying on couches watching the world go by. Lack there of’s.Career changes. Cold weather.

Nothing’s really that funny or worth writing about. Revisiting my past with creativity seems ridiculous when I can barely find reason to live in this moment. I know I’m a bit dreary and negative, but aren’t we all lately?

I promise to write more. I hope my two other women will too. Let’s just get this shit out, even if no one reads it.

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Lost Time

This past month has been lost time. Time spent reading the Twilight series, hanging on Alan’s couch, restless sleep, drinking beer and most of all revaluating the “big picture”. Who am I and what am I doing here kind of shit.

The 9-5 wasn’t working for me anyway. I’d scratch my head at the obvious questions they’d ask me and wonder how they got where they are today. I saw myself 5 years down the road, unhappy, vapid, worrying about fax machines and conference calls instead of how to finish the chapter in my novel or what kind of wine would go best with my dinner party in a new home. There’s nothing more heartbreaking then leading a life I’d never really want to live.

So, I’m back on the hunt, searching for who I really am and lucky to have some companions helping me along the way. The silence on my end is embarrassing – I should be writing more but instead I have been busy with errands, laundry, applications and figuring out how this whole “career” thing is supposed to work. I miss my mom and my dad. I’m drinking beer instead of tea before bed some nights. My jeans are hating me again and I don’t blame them.

Hopefully Decemeber will pan out to be a better month than November or even October for that matter. Sometimes I wish I were a 1950’s housewife who secretly wrote a great novel in her husband’s home office while he was busy at work. The kids would be playing or watching the TV in the next room, the laundry tumbling in the machines, and I with frenzied hand would write as much as I could before it was time to drop the kids off at dance class or to a playdate.

But I live in 2008 nearing 2009 and I don’t have a husband or kids or laundry that tumbles in the background. I have a one bedroom apartment, laundry on the floor and a strange habit of saying I’m a writer when I barely do these days.

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Sorrow

Sorrow is a tricky thing. Sometimes it’s there with you in the morning, like messy hair and stale breath- it’s just there. Other times it suddenly comes upon you like a sneeze or a muscle cramp. It’s a reminder that you are human, susceptible to life’s complexities and pain.

There are some periods when sorrow will linger- a chronic feeling that sometimes gets better after spending time in the sunlight; sometimes gets worse after finding an old photo or hearing an old message on the machine.

It is not a scratch that can be buffed out but rather a stain that will always discolor part of the soul.

I am the sorrowful. I am the lingering sad that hovers even on OK days. I am the sudden urge, the sudden loss of breath when pain becomes too unbearable. I have the ability to go to bed smiling and wake in such anguish, tortured by horrifying dreams.

It is as real as anything: leaves on a tree, wind on my face- sorrow is real. It is no trend or fashion. It is a very part of who I am and the side effects of that sorrow lead to the fears, the lazy, the wall between publishing and living alone with notebooks of writings and unfinished canvases stacked high.

I am the sorrowful.

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A Counting

“When you think things are bad, when you feel sour and blue, when you start to get mad… You should do what I do! Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky! Some people are much more…Oh, ever so much more…Oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!”
–Dr. Seuss, Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

When I was a child, my Mom read me DIETYHLYA? about a gazillion times. She did and does have it memorized. As a melodramatic teenager, I listened to her pull phrases from that book and drop them to me as a gentle and loving reminder that I’d be OK, and that it’s not so bad.

Well, there are two kinds of blessings to count – positive ones and negative ones. I gave DIETYHLYA? to a friend when her son turned one year old. The boy’s daddy read it and said, “What? So everyone else’s misery should make you glad?” He entirely missed the point. You can enumerate all of the good things in your life, to remind yourself to be glad. But enumerating all the ways it could have gone wrong but didn’t… the “negative blessings”… that’s a way to remind yourself how quickly it all can change and how appreciative to be right now.

Well, in the past few months, I have had occasion to reflect on just how… safe… I should feel. The gambler’s fallacy says that I’ve had a run of good luck, so the odds of it changing now are greater than they were before. Superstition would say that to enumerate the good things in my life is tempting fate. But then I’m also told that “thoughts become things – choose the good ones” is a motto to live by. I like that better.

1) I have been married to my husband for ten years. We rarely fight and have virtually never gone to sleep angry. He’s carried me through the toughest times in my life, and I’ve tried (although feebly, at times) to do the same. And although some would say that it’s naivete to think this, I’m fully confident that 10 years from now, I will love him just as much and more. I love him more than I did 10 years ago, for a start, and I trust him to do the right thing.

2) I have a sunshine of a daughter. She is persistent as only a toddler can be, but she’s also easygoing, happy, and full of life. She’s rarely sick, she’s usually polite, she likes to sleep at naptime and nighttime, and she’ll eat almost anything. My daughter dances in delight at the simplest of things and is patient enough to sit [mostly] still long enough to get a haircut.

3) I have a family I adore. I was left behind by one deadbeat dad, only to acquire a Dad I know would never let me down. We haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but he has a heart of gold. I have a mom who nurtured me when her own heart was ready to give way, who taught me how to be a lady and a woman, and whose moral stature is unparalleled in my experience. I have three siblings, all at the cusp of adulthood. It has been challenging, to say the least, to watch these three grow up. Each has taught me a lot about life – compassion, internal contradictions, generosity, fear, addiction, passion… so many things that I remember feeling and not understanding at the time. And having watched my mom and dad navigate these rough waters (and helping them when I could) is bound to strike a chord when my own little one(s?) is there.

4) I have the best friends a person could ask for. And better friends, I often think, than I deserve. They’ve stuck with me through thick and thin, sick and healthy and sick again, generous and down-right mean. The winds of change have blown some of them away; I desperately feel those losses, but they twinge as a reminder of those I still have and those I’ve gained.

5) I’m healthy. I know, you laugh. But consider how much worse it could be. Everything that’s wrong with me is manageable, and none of it is terminal or even dangerous.

6) I have a well-paying job, with excellent benefits, working in the air-conditioning. It is satisfying, rewarding, intellectually stimulating, and busy. At the high point of frustration at my previous employer, I learned a lot and things got easier. At the next highest point of frustration, another job practically fell into my lap. At the high point of frustration at my current employer, I learned a lot and it got easier. I developed sustaining friendships to carry me through, and my personal life took a turn that took my mind off work for a while. And then, at the next highest point of frustration, I got this transfer. The first six months were hell on wheels, and I thought I might die. But somehow, here I am, happier than ever.

6) I could go on and on. Last but not least for now, though, is this. On September 11th of 2008 I went to work. On the way, I listened to the radio, and people were recounting where they’d been 7 years ago. Once I got there, I sat in a conference room all day. I watched and listened to a room full of brilliant scientists discussing dozens of ways to make the world a better place. Sure, each one of them had an agenda… an interest to preserve… a gain to be had. But at the core, each one of them had and has one central goal. To make things better. Going to work, and working hard, for that goal is the most patriotic thing we could’ve done that day. I left there proud to be one of this group.

A few “negative blessings” bringing all this to mind.
I didn’t just find out my husband’s been having an affair (or several). I didn’t just lose my parents in a tragic accident. I didn’t just lose my only child in a tragic accident. I wasn’t just diagnosed with cancer at an unreasonably young age. I didn’t just break my arm and have never broken a limb. The worst damage I’ve ever suffered in a storm is just enough hail damage to allow the insurance company to increase the value of my home. My auto accident totaled my car, but I walked away with brain and body intact. Not only do I not live several states away from my beloved, I live in the same house with him.

Enough said. I lead a truly charmed life.

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Lying on the hard, cold linoleum floor with my legs propped up on the couch, I started to close my eyes and drift away to the music on the radio. Renee laid haphazardly beside me to my right, sipping on a wine cooler and smiling to herself as if she had the best kept secret in the world. The boys were somewhere else. Can’t remember if they went to buy food or more beer, or attend a parade.

I let my 18 year old fingers slide in and out of my jean belt hooks, tracing the indents of my skin from my hips pressing up against my jeans. I hadn’t slept that night, I don’t think. Lundi Gras had melted into Mardi Gras, and our heads just felt heavy and gras after all the drinking, laughing, and sleeplessness. But we didn’t care. We spent that entire weekend giggling and staying up late, the sort of thing that young girls do in college. Renee would get sudden bursts of energy and suggest pillow fights, or running around on the cold grass.

And as we lay there, her sudden surge suggested that we clean the boys’ house as a surprise. I rolled over, looked around and noticed that the house was indeed messed by empty bottles of drinks, food wrappers, and other miscellaneous evidence of partying. I agreed because I was ashamed of the havoc we had wreaked. As we cleaned, we giggled, and as we giggled, we swatted each other’s arms with rags in a playful, elementary school way. It was like I was a girl again, not the young adult I was becoming, and the young adult I wasn’t ready to be.

So here we were, young girlfriends trying to impress boys we pretended not to like, in color little t-shirts, dancing to songs on the radio. And here I am now, some 6 years later, with merely a shadow of my girlish behavior remaining. That young Meredith would have never fretted about utility bills, gas prices, or even how she wore her hair and if that day ever came, she would be thirty-something and living somewhere fabulous.

When you’re 18, you feel invincible. Your hair is always pretty no matter where or if you slept. Your lights are always turned on. Someone is always driving you to the next place to hang out. You sing loudly to the radio with a girlfriend in your favorite jeans that only fit teenage hips. There is no twenty-something. There is no twenty-something because that’s the end of irresponsible youthfulness and the beginning of your life path as a dependable and perhaps often depressed adult. Or is it?

I failed to mention that Renee was 5 years older than I was at the time of my first Mardi Gras mayhem. She was a twenty-something, and instead of shedding her teenage persona, she had found a balance between the two. Giddy happiness is something that I don’t allow myself to have anymore as I approach my mid-twenties. I’m sure that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m sure I can stay awake until the sun comes up again instead of keeping my 10:30 p.m. bedtime. I’m sure I can sing to the radio wearing unmentionables and laughing like a silly, young girl. I could probably even get away with drinking a little too much, smiling a little too big, and finding the best secret to keep away from the world, the same one that Renee kept, and still probably keeps to this day.

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Born in north Jersey, I spent a few years of my early childhood playing acrobats in the evenings with my father, dancing to Sesame street songs, and going to bed with pink curlers in my hair. I survived my adolescence in busy Los Angeles through shopping trips with my mother, my high school English teachers, and bleached blond hair. I went searching for this thing called “myself” in humid New Orleans, and ended up finding out how to eat boiled crawfish, the potentiality for evil in human nature when flooded out by mother nature, and my calling in life: Writing.

So, here I am. In Austin, “the oasis of Texas” as one of my poetry professors once said. And, in some ways, it has been my oasis from a tumultuous life in Post-Katrina New Orleans. Living in a “One Dead in Attic” mentality had aged me out of my early twenties and into an ageless state of cynicism and woe. I now have my tiny apartment adorned with tiny treasures from my travels abroad in Paris, Venice, London, and my short stay in Boston in the fall of 2005. And of course, I now have a magnificent man in my life, The Chemist.

The scenes of my apartment best describe me. My Miles Davis poster from Hollywood is taped tight to my fridge door; an Indian ivory salt and pepper shaker brought back from my grandfather in WWII accompanies family photos on a bookshelf. Dried roses from my mother rest in my grandmother’s old vase atop a chest I acquired in New Orleans. Spices on my kitchen sit on a shelf with an old broken rosary belonging to my great grandmother.

My bookshelves are packed with an eclectic mix of goods from SoCal wacky to Parisian tacky with a giant, silver Effiel Tower candle propped next to my signed copy of Candace Bushnell’s ‘Trading Up’. She wished me ‘Good Luck in Writing’ in big, black permanent ink, and it’s something that I look at every day, something that breaks the writer’s block.

I am my bookshelves in a way. I’m packed with literature, from Chaucer to Hemingway. I value and display my books, my trinkets, my rosary collection, and even the 40 some odd Pez dispensers that are lined up like a choir on the top left shelf. I am not just one thing- I’m not just a writer, or a woman, or a high school actress, or a daughter, or a girlfriend- I’m all of those things and hopefully more.

I find my creativity is best unleashed for the world to see, rather than bottled up. I struggle daily with my level of confidence- I don’t give myself enough credit. My friends tell me I’m beautiful and I believe that they need an eye exam.

But, when you boil it down, at heart I am that construction paper book written in crayon when I was a young girl, tucked away on the bottom corner of the shelf, innocent, full of color and life, and waiting for someone to open me up and read me. But, I need to open me up first, write the stories that I was born to write, publish those stories for the masses, and really learn how to live and love life.

Joyce Carol Oates’ advice from one of her books is for young writers it to “write [their] hearts out.”

3 Women is just one of many facets of my heart.

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I admit it, collaborating isn’t really my thing. The last time I seriously worked with other creative individuals was my high school musical, ‘Bye Bye Birdie’. Sure, I won a production and drama award which padded my already fluffy college application, but at what cost? I lost a few friends, my high school sweetheart, and ended up spending the rest of my senior year stressed out and completely unapproachable. I poured my heart and soul into that damn musical, and I don’t think we sold out any of our performances.

The next time I tried to work with someone on a creative project was during my sophomore year of college in my Intro to Creative Non-Fiction class. I got stuck with the class stoner- a General Studies major and wannabe-punk-rocker edited my very personal and emotional essay about my relationship to Joyce Carol Oates’ books. I think he ended up butchering it , having never read nor heard about Oates, and I went home disheartened and cynical of the workshop method of teaching writing.

Of course, I later found my own voice through other workshop classes in which I proudly refused to partner up with anyone again.

Until now.

The idea behind this blog is simple: Three women from three different parts of the country, working in three different professions, living three different lives will be writing here. And somehow, through all of our differences, we seem to find a common understanding of what it’s like to be a young woman in 2008. Let’s face it: We love. We laugh. We hold our families near. We eat. We drink good wine and beer. We create to feel alive and make love to feel invincible. Well, at least I do.

We are three women who share our stories, different narratives but with the same purpose: We love life, for better or for worse.

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