Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Meditation on Getting Old

Today I turn 43. It's not one of those magical numbers that hold any kind of special meaning. It's not 45 for example, or 50. But it's past 40, and it's easy to remember a time when 40 seemed so very old. Like many young people, I romanticized not living this long. Unlike most young people, I also fantasized often about suicide, and engaged in a couple of half hearted attempts. A healthy terror of death kept me from making too deep a cut or swallowing too many pills. I wanted to die but I also dreaded what might lay beyond. At twenty, the thought of making it another twenty three years filled me with a kind of horror. Another twenty three years of this shit, I would have thought, is not worth it at all.

At twenty, I moved to Rochester on the whim of being madly in love. He wrote me romantic letters filled with scraps of poetry on handmade marbled paper. I would hold those letters close to my face and inhale the scent of paper and ink. I think now I was in love with the idea of him. The romance he created in distance wooed because the reality of him was not that wonderful. But there I was in this ugly city filled with strangers. A lone. And as always achingly sad and longing for something. I celebrated my twenty first birthday in that city surrounded by people who were not really my friends but just some people that kept the loneliness at bay.  That night he was with his wife. I wore a black lace dress he had bought me. Vintage, 1930s. Frail and lovely. I wore it with black combat boots. My black hair cut into my first stylized bob. I bought a bottle of Love My Goat red wine, and drank the whole bottle myself. I sat drunk on stoops surrounded by young and achingly beautiful humans. Someone took my picture with a white rat on my black feathered hat. Twenty one seemed like an awfully lot of years.

I woke up the next morning, my head aching. My dress crumbled on the floor of my sad bare room.  He of course was not there. He was never there. I felt this unbearable crush of despair. I felt hollow. After that day a lot of drinking filled my nights. Not much eating. Lots of strangers beautiful and otherwise. I just wanted to lose all feeling, and I did for the most part. Everything but the anxiety and fear. I didn't love him anymore. The first wave of intoxication washed away in the reality of him. I played along because I didn't know what else to do. But I suffocated in the longing for something I didn't know. A longing that followed me for so much of my life. Twenty three more years of this would have destroyed that hollow girl.

I woke up this morning to hushed whispers and cries "Don't come out yet mama." Imagine me with five kids. Beautiful, wonderful, quirky kids. A gorgeous husband whose love was not made of paper and ink. When I came out homemade cards and "Happy Birthday." A romantic poem translated by my lover and partner. A poem hand crafted in water color and parchment and filled with the smell of art. These things don't go up in ash. They don't leave a bad taste in my mouth. They are not a crumbled dress on the floor of a bare bedroom.

Being old is going to be okay, I realized as I hugged my children and kissed my husband. Being old with these people is like a bright prize won for no reason at all. Even though the deep hollowness of depression never went away, these people make me want to cope, they make me want to look for other ways of walking through the forest. After all the fairy tale forest is brighter with their laughs and their flickering lights like fairy lights leading me deeper into enchantment. Today I will grow old with no regrets. I will not wake up tomorrow to the feeling that twenty more years is too much. Twenty years is not enough. Time slips too fast through my fingers because it can never be enough with this kind of love.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

If One of Us Falls

Piper fidgets as I pull her dark hair into a pig tail. Today is her spring trapeze show and it's been a full year since she last performed in front of an audience. We always miss the winter show due to sickness.

"There were a TON of people last time." she says, jumping up as soon as the elastic snaps. "You said there would only be families." She twirls around the kitchen her pig tails spinning to the sides of her head.

"It was just families." I reply. "You'll be fine." 

"There's only two of us." she answers getting to the heart of what worries her.  "Wonder if E doesn't show?"

Her friend and classmate E does show. They run off together to the backstage where they will paint peace signs on their cheeks. They will bound onto the mat, the two of them, to perform an amazing duet to "Spirit in the Sky." And when they finish to the applause of the audience, they will glow.

After the show, Piper tells me "We had a plan if one of us fell off the bar. The other would wait until we got back on." 


I don't often write about Piper and trapeze. Piper started the family trend almost two years ago after a field trip with Freedom To Grow. I, overjoyed that finally one of my kids wanted to do this, signed her up the next week. Piper took to the air with her usual enthusiasm. I waited for it to dim as Piper tends to cycle through her interests in ways that resemble my own. Great passion and borderline obsession followed by a lost of interest and a move to something new.  But that didn't happen for Piper. Instead, even when things got tough she plowed through until she found the joy again.

Piper is our anxious child. The one who had a series of panic attacks when we first moved to Athens. The one who frets about the night. Monsters. Every ache of her body is a cause for concern. But in trapeze Piper transforms into something entirely different. She unfurls her wings and takes flight. She pushes herself until she masters new moves. I've watched her practice with hands aching and red from holding the robe. Watched her breathing become heavy because she refused defeat in the face of challenge. Trapeze makes Piper stronger. It calls to the courage deep within her and helps her to express it in the muscles of her arm, the way her legs spin around a robe and a bar. Trapeze transform Piper into her best self giving her the power to bring that self out out into the world.

There are no doubt many sports that could have pushed Piper out of her anxiety shell. I do think that exercise helps us to feel our body in the world in a less anxious way. But I also think the key to why trapeze works so well for Piper, and for our family, lies in two girls who made a plan to lift to each other up instead of tear each other down. My family, as so many of you know, are anti-capitalist which means we actively attempt to eradicate certain features of a capitalist society from our life. One of those things is competition. This is not an easy one for me as my insecurity tends to push me to compare and then to want to compete to be better. I've tried very hard to be conscious of not passing this onto my children especially Piper. I suspect competition is the kind of thing that could sink someone with anxiety. 

And I admit to being nervous when Piper started. I had to rein myself in from comparison which I never expressed aloud but too often thought as I watched in her class. I worked to weed it from my thoughts as part of my work on not comparing or ripping down others. Piper didn't need to compete against her classmates. She never once expressed jealously and instead celebrated her friend's triumphs. Her teachers never encouraged competition and I admired how their emphasis on team work wasn't inspirational word fluff. I saw it in the way the teachers performed. They lifted each other up, stepped back to let others take their turn to shine, and showed genuine appreciation for each other's work. 


For Piper, with her all her bottled up anxiety, trapeze became a place where the only competition came in the form of pushing herself. Today I watched as she worked with a new group; all girls who  more advanced than she. They worked on a metal cube something Piper has longed to do for awhile . At some point, Piper was standing and I watched as she asked Ann if she could practice some moves on the bar. Ann lowered a bar for her. Piper had told me earlier she wanted to master a move called the Tango Turn. And that is what she did for a good twenty minutes. Again and again she went through the move until her face grew flushed and her hands red. Even then she didn't stop. I realized as I watched her that she didn't do this to be better then anyone else. She did this because she wanted to be better for herself. To prove that she could do this move. To push her body to it's amazing potential. At trapeze there was no one to beat. There were only others, including oneself, to pick up if they fell. 




Friday, June 12, 2015

Missed

When she says "I'm sorry honey there is no heartbeat," I am not surprised. I knew from the first ultrasound that something went wrong. I nod, brusquely and say "Well it's not as if we planned this pregnancy." And I tell myself that it's for the best, really. Then I go and sit among women who happily hold ultrasound pictures of their live babies. Babies who will likely continue to grow and be born. I feel the emptiness yawn up in me. My poor fetus didn't make it to six weeks. I hold it together until I hit the exam room where I proceed to sob silently as the nurse quietly takes my blood pressure and weighs me as if nothing is wrong. When the midwife arrives, I am relieved to find it to be the woman who delivered Jude. She holds me while I cry and I feel validated in the conflicting emotions between relief and a deep grief.

"You have some choices." she says. But none of the choices are the ones I want to make. I ask for a week.

The next few days are difficult. I have to tell everyone I am not pregnant. Not really. I shouldn't have told anyone. I end up being more public that many think is prudent but it's easier to tell a mass of people instead of waiting until I see someone or until I'm asked. Still there are many people who do not know and what follows is a awkward exchange where I have to explain that I have a missed miscarriage.

Perhaps that is part of the pain and the awkwardness. I haven't really miscarried. Nothing has come out of my body. Instead I still feel pregnant. I still have the bloated pregnant belly. I still have morning sickness. And when I tell people what happened they assumed I have miscarried. Not that I am still carrying something, what I don't really know, in my body.

Still everyone is kind. And women whisper to me that they too have visited this place. There are the warm touch of hugs and compassion. It keeps me moving through the daily rhythm of my life.

At night, I wake up on the edge of panic attacks. Dreams of doctors coming at me with knives. I hold Jude when I wake up and soak in her babyness.

During the day, my rational side keeps me afloat. We didn't plan this baby. Jude was supposed to be our last. We don't have the room or money for another baby. But deep down I still mourn what could have been. We would have made it work just as we made it work with them all.

As my week deadline draws closer, it's clear that I will need a D & C. I choose to not get an abortion and here I am basically walking into what is similar to an abortion. The universe sense of irony is cruel, I think.

On the day my week is up, H and I walk to the midwife clinic. I am tense and angry meaning we argue before we leave. As we get closer, I start to cry. I am not going to this place to hear a heartbeat as I did with Jude. When we arrive, I go through the routine as if I was pregnant. The wait is agonizing as I sit among pregnant women. I cry silent, burying my face into H's shoulder. When the newborns come in, I tell H that I am going to leave. Their tiny cries pierce through me. The thing in my womb will never cry these hungry cries. I carry something dead inside me, I think. I cry through the weighing, the blood pressure check and when the midwife comes in to talk to me. Again there is compassion and wisdom, and eventually there is nothing left.

The doctor arranges for a D & C the next day. It is so soon but I am glad. I need to be done. This half way road is not leading towards a good place. I need the completion so that I can began to process and heal. To put behind me my fertile years and focus on new stages of life. I am lucky I know to have five children at home.

The night is spent in nightmares again. The doctors tell me that there was something living inside me but they made a mistake and now it's gone. It is my biggest fear even though I know the fetus never even developed a heartbeat. I saw with my own eyes the lack of change in a two week period. But my subconscious plays tricks. I go into the hospital tired but resolved. Calm. Once again I am meet with gentleness and compassion. People are kind when they hear what I am there for. My friends love me and I feel their love and support as I wait to be put to sleep.

I wake up clam and alert. I even get into a debate about insurance with the nurses. H comes to me and we chat about the kids. I don't feel any pain. I feel almost high. I feel guilty like maybe I am betraying the future I just loss. The nurse gives me the care instructions and I say

"This is like when I gave birth." And it hits me just a little then.

"Kind of, " she says, "But it is different."

Different in that I am not coming home with a newborn in my arms.

We go home and I embrace the present in my children. I smell Jude's warm hair and laugh at Rowena's antics. I marvel at the man my son has become.

When I wake up from my nap, I notice that my stomach is no longer bloated. Then I feel the first twinge of grief. My stomach will no longer feel that swell of baby. The kicks and the flutterings. I realize I don't feel sick any longer. As I wobble around, I feel like I did after I gave birth but there is no gift for the pain. No sweet baby to hold to my breasts. I have given birth in a way but it's a birth that we only whisper about, that we pretend isn't a birth. A grief often dismissed because it was early on, because you already five children at home, because there was never a heartbeat.

But there was something. A flicker. A story. A future to imagine. And now that is gone. So while I mourn the end of my fertility, I will also give myself the space to mourn the baby I had began to want. The future I imagined in a tentative Amazon wish list and in the plans for a bigger van. I will hold this future with me forever really because even though that heart never developed it still is imprinted on my own cells.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Town in Georgia

Sunday evening. Sky still gray from those southern spring torrential thunderstorms. Driving the now familiar route from the little red brick ranch we call home, past Athens Regional where people scurry from the cold sterile hospital corridors to the parking deck. Down Prince where a cluster of fast food joints mar the entrance to Normaltown. Wait at the light that lets me turn down Chase. Past the medical complexes, the local elementary school, a new costume store (Guise and Dolls), and then onto a road of industrial architecture. A plumbing company guards the tracks, and then the opening of the old warehouses transformed into a miracle of wonder: yoga studios, hairstylists, homemade rap pops, art studios, and the place we come to the most often: Canopy. Trapeze. Ariel dance. The high space that has transformed my daughters' lives in wonderful ways. Maybe mine too.

Tonight I stand with a clipboard and a tiny plastic container filled with blue paper tickets, the ones you used to use to get into the movies. Admit one they say in black ink. I chat with the people as I check off their names, making sure to hand tickets to the children. Having your own ticket to hand over adds to the magic of what is to come. Unlike the last time, I performed this job, I recognize many of the people who come through the doors. Some are wonderful people on their way to becoming friends, like Ann whom I last saw waiting for the baby who is now earth side. Others I recognize from Facebook encounters. Most I just know from around town: stores, festivals, shows. Athens is still small enough to allow that familiarity. One woman, a local doctor we meet at a lawn sale, tells me she saw H walking with the kids on Saturday.

In the midst of all this checking in, the magic seeps out into the hallway. The Fourth Doctor complete with scarf scurries about and I hope he offers me a jelly baby. I always love being backstage. Performers in various states of costuming rushing about trailing behind some of their secret spells mingled with the kiss of real life. People I know from so many hours spent watching my girls practice on the bar now transformed into super heroes, comic book characters and scifi movie personalities. The magic weaves its spell before I am relieved of the clipboard and urged to find a seat which I do towards the back under the silver pole that extends from ceiling to floor.

Inside the studio, the space is wide open and even though the ground is on the small side, the up extends high enough to make you feel free. I love the industrial feel of the black steel cross beams that hold the knotted ropes from which hang a multitude of bars but also silk drapes, ropes, and iron ladders. Tonight the windows that line the top of the outer wall have been covered, and when the lights turn low darkness falls. The music swells, and the crowd tenses in excited anticipation. A glad cry rises as the performers no longer the mundane teachers we know march out onto the floor.

What follows is nearly impossible to describe in words, or perhaps it's just that it would be too many words. For the next two hours, I watch the human body do amazing, magical things. Bodies twist and propel on bars, held up right with just arms and legs. Women hang from bars with just the top of their feet. Superman shows a vulnerable side with what can be described only as a dance with two silk drapes. Cat woman steals a diamond bracelet after walking a tight robe. A charming, funny routine happens with two steam punk beauties on a steel ladder. Wonder Woman and her invisible jet leave the crowd cheering with an impressive display of acrobatic feats including the jet bouncing and moving Wonder Woman with her feet. The woman who do the Star Trek portion create a dance with robes and near perfect symmetry. Everyone performs with grace, strength, and a perfect sense of drama.

What occurs to me as I sit there like a little kid with my mouth open, lost in both wonderment and envy, is that this moment encapsulates what Athens means to me. There was a reason my main characters meet at Canopy. When we first moved here, I described my ambiguity about the town as loving the town but not feeling the people. I struggled with a heavy depression, and a profound sense of isolation and loneliness. While it took years to make friends in Charlotte, I had made them eventually, and relocating to Athens started that whole process again. But my heart loved the town even in the midst of that sadness which hung over me. She won me over with her charming old houses, her quirkiness, her sense of rock and roll.

And somewhere along the way, I started to make friends, connections. People knew me in stores. When the girls started to take classes at Trapeze, I found myself loving their teachers not just for their wonderfulness with my children but because of who they were as people. And this happened at other places. Treehouse Craft. Freedom to Grow. I meet wonderful women at these places: Kristin who had the vision for an amazing toy store that taught art and crafts, Mary Katherine who embraced Piper and taught her to sew. Hope the beautiful, gifted artist who won Camille's heart in one class. Michelle whose artwork blows me away and who taught Rowena to take risks. Ann who worked with Camille, drawing her out and planting in her a desire to go ever further with trapeze. Ellen who is not just a business manager but a friend and a comfort. MJ whose words gave me the final push to try trapeze myself. Megan who got Rowena to flip upside down. Lora whose dream of unschooling so closely mirrors my own. And so many other woman who have made me see Athens is more than just it's spirit but also it's people.


As I watch the display before me, I feel that warmth, that joy, that exuberance for life and art and beauty. It is a special place. Not just this studio but the whole town. I remember a man once told me that Athens holds special children and I thought later that Athens allows children to be special, to be more, to be magic. It does this for us all if we just let ourselves get caught up in the splendor of it's soul. And after the show when I congratulate the performers and get to have some magic rubbed off on me, I think again as I always do how this is a place to nourish my own creative self. I want to stay here and grow roots in this glittery sparkle stuff that makes amazing things grow. I want Jude, who someone once told me was like a superstar, to grow roots here as well. And Camille. Here where their souls are honored not because they are the same but because they are different.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Day In the Life of Jude



When I first wrote about Jude, I included a bit about my fears for the future in regards to our family. I spent a lot of time imagining how very different our lives would be. I found myself dreading some of the things I thought might be mandatory. And I worried that having a child with Down syndrome would disrupt our rather bohemian life. While having Jude has brought change and new considerations, the change has not been earth shattering. Jude fits us so well and she fits into our lives as we fit into hers with perfect ease. The adjustments we've made have actually made our lives richer and pushed us more into the community. 


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Monstrous

A couple of weeks ago, two stories flashed through my Facebook feed. The first time they sped through and I moving through the paces of life missed them. The second, third, fourth, times they caught my attention. Stories on plus size models usually do that for me. The first about the FIRST SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT MODEL automatically had my eyes rolling far back into my head. She's a size 12. Plus sized. When the second story, hit my feed, I almost didn't open the link to the story. From the thumbnail, this plus size model didn't look plus sized. But always on the look for some distraction, I hit the link and loo and behold here was a model who had my body.  They are both beautiful woman. And I guess technically if you're a double digit you're a plus sized human.

But....

I already feel like a monster. My body takes up too much space. I sometimes find myself curling my arms around myself, pushing myself into corners to ease the worry I imagine on people's faces when they see me enter a small store or restaurant. I carry wounds from the past, sometimes not so distance, of being mooed at by adults in Walmart or from cars. Jr. High taunts of "lard ass," "pig," feel like they hang like labels on my body. A life time of looking in the mirror and never seeing a body worthy of love, praise or acceptance.

Is it any wonder, I think, looking at a model who in my mind is safely in the slim category, that even when I hit a size 12, I see a fat woman in the mirror? That I still walk the world feeling ungainly, lumbering, obstructive? Even at a weight I find acceptale, I have been told by doctors that I am too big to be healthy. A size 12 for the rest of the world is fat. Period.

And what does that make me now? At a size 18, I am clearly in the monster category. I am a giant among women. Shameful and disgusting. Or so I am told. I am regulated to special stores who only in the last ten years began to carry clothes that were sexy and lovely. They cost three times as much as Target but at least it's a whole store and not a tiny corner hidden from the "normal" clothes. Models my size are mocked on line with a cruelty that leaves me breathless. When I dress up, I sometimes still have to push aside that I don't deserve to look attractive because my body is a monster. Monsters are not supposed to be pretty or sexy.

I do not write this to garner sympathy or to hear about thin bodies being mocked. I am not unaware that all women's bodies are policed. I write this because the reality is that when slender women are held up as plus sized, we not only continue to push a very rigid notion of acceptability but we make other women's bodies monstrous. I am 42 years old, and I have dieted my whole life. I have starved my body, purged it, exercised it to exhaustion doing things I hated. I have hated this body, mocked it, sliced it open in disgust. I misused it. I tried to pretend it didn't exist. It was never a good enough body. It was never thin enough. Never pretty enough.

As I walked through life trying to make myself invisible, I could never imagine myself as anything but highly visible. Last year a woman published photos of herself with people reacting to her weight. Many many who commented said she imagined the reactions, that she was just seeing things that weren't there. There were other stories. But what many missed was that this was this woman's story, and as a fellow fat woman I knew the story well. I knew the looks and snickers of young college girls when I shopped. I knew the jokes about weight coming from men who were often bigger than I. I knew the pain of having women flirt with your husband in front of you, not that you weren't invisible but that you were so insignificant that you didn't matter. Eventually these moments add up and become the narrative even when the words are not being spoken.

And I woke up a few months ago, done. Done with the constant self hatred that I carried on my shoulders like a yoke. Done with the paranoia of worrying what others were thinking when I eat or shop. Done with worrying if people were mocking me. Mostly I was done with the years and years of self abuse. I started to buy lovely clothes. And I dressed the way I wanted to dress not the way that society deemed OK for a monster. I started to wonder if maybe I was sexy and beautiful in this monster's body. And eventually I started to think that perhaps I was not a monster.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Qutting Isn't Easy

The words from the message haunted me long after I shut my computer down. During the conversation, I had been able to show a disregard, a carefully calculated distance.

A new PhD program? Pfft. I was done with the academy. Over it. Moved on.

But later that night as I lay in that inbetweeness of sleep and awake, I started to make plans. I could retake my GREs. H wouldn't mind do some teaching jobs while I did my thing. Umberto would be old enough to do some babysitting if we had gaps. Surely I could juggle therapy and class schedules with a little magic. Only when I felt the tears starting to form did I snap myself out of this hazy dream world.

For a few days, I walked around with the heavy load of failure. I joke often that I am an academic failure but like most jokes this one has a stinger. If I had my PhD, I could rely on the evidence that on the impossibility of tenure especially for women. But I don't have that piece of paper that at one point represented to me the pinnacle of success. Instead, I was the person who couldn't even get her foot in the door for a more noble failure. When I told people that I was not accepted into a PhD program, I imagined that I could see in their eyes my own thoughts: She wasn't good enough. She wasn't smart enough. Of course time dulled some of these feelings, or at least help me push them into the background of my life.

As time puts distance between my academic past and me, I found myself still floundering. I no longer posted on my academic friends post and when I did I offered apologies for my ignorance. At some point, I stopped reading academic books because it felt like torture: launching myself into something I loved but from which I felt utterly disconnected. I no longer imagined myself as a free range academic because without a PhD and an institution no one was going to make my work seriously. I alienated myself and struggle through this gap of wanting and not wanting.

When I woke up the morning after that message exchange, I realized just what I had lost. There are few things I can list under what I believe. Belief is a horribly problematic word and concept. But I do believe that we humans are meaning make machines. All of us find ourselves constructed by stories, practices, and significations. Some of us have more power than others to shape those constructions of course but we all engage in this activity. Usually unawares. For the last few years, there is a part of my life that feels in stasis. Unconstructed. The part of myself that I saw as an academic was a part that had been built upon for many years. Boards laid in place through encouragement and amazingly enough rejection.

See, my original plan from the time I was ten or so was to be a writer. I tried my hand at publishing when I was in my 20s and like most early writers faced a landslide of rejection notices. When I was 23, I applied to the creative writing program at a local college. Not only was I rejected, I was rejected after receiving someone else's acceptance letter. After all these years, the feeling of joy when I read that I was accepted only to go on and realize the enclosed story wasn't mine still aches. I imagined this some other person sat at her kitchen table reading MY rejection letter.  I remember when the head confirmed the news, and said as a consolation "We felt that you would be successful at many things not just writing." At the time that felt like cold comfort. I walked around in a fog of pain, insecurity, and meaninglessness. The yearning to be told if I was good enough had been meet with a resounding no and now I wasn't sure if the knowing helped.

But this time I got lucky and a professor commented that I was smart. A horrible writer but smart. I believe his words were "I don't know how someone as smart as you can have so many grammar errors." But it was a lifeline and I took it in my hands like a drowning victim. For the next 15 years these words followed by others shaped me into an academic. Of course I struggled with that nagging insecurity but it was something. I was something. Somebody. I had purpose.

The first rejection letter stung. But when the U of Toronto letter marked my final rejection, I felt the same way I did when I had to sit with that department. Another confirmation that I was indeed not good enough. You wanted to know I taunted myself because I house a deeply mean inner girl. Fortunately this time around I had other meanings built up. My family. Homeschooling. Things that were vital and important.

However I still floundered because there was this piece that felt missing. I tried religion, and for a time it worked. I imagined myself getting into theology or counseling. But the problem of not really believing (and yes I know the word is complicated) kept me at a distance. I tried to engage through practice but it felt fake and awkward. I tried spirituality recently with the same results. I am not a religious person anymore even though I still find religious things deeply fascinating. There was no building me into that religious person. I dipped my foot into the being the "disability mom" but that didn't fit either. I don't like making so much of my meaning rest on my children. Icky.

Lately I tried writing. I finished a novel. I think it's okay. And I realized when I got the news about a potential graduate program close to me that something important had shifted in the last six years. There was an identity in that space; one that scared me yes but it was there. I wrote my novel in a month. A month of frenzied, wonderful, exhilarating writing. Editing has not been meet with the same enthusiasm. It is February and I am only 30 pages into my novel. In December, I told myself it was the business of the season. Exhaustion from writing so much so fast. The drudgery of five six kids and a six mama. But by mid January I admitted it was fear. Wonder if my novel was so horrible I couldn't even read it? I couldn't bear the thought. Still I pushed myself one to day to read. And yes there were some major problems but it was a solid story. I pushed further and realized I still loved my characters, and loved my plot. Tentatively I began to sit more firmly in the idea I was a writer. An identity I had shied from since that long ago rejection.

Over the last few weeks, a few incidents have popped up that make that old insecurity crack open again. Fears that I am foolish and presumptuous to take on the title of writer. Fears that the local college had it right in denying me the title writer. Graduate school became something else in this moment of fear. It was the second choice. Something I knew and felt comfortable doing even as I felt I was not good enough. A chance to prove myself and make a claim about worth. Graduate school for all it's shit did a fairly good job of giving me constant feedback about my place in the world. Being a writer does not offer these same comforts. My blog doesn't get enough hits to give that kind of feedback. No one who has read my work has come out and said "Wow you're shat time to move on love"  but they've also not said "Wow you have talent. Keep writing." And slowly I am starting to think that even if someone did say these things that this wouldn't be my defining moment as a writer. While I don't buy into the ridiculous notion that we give ourselves meaning, I am sure that my identity as a writer comes from having stories to tell not necessarily from having admirers. And for the first time, I feel that the academy does not get to be the end of my story.