Hello again from a Kozy place!
OK let’s make a deal, if you don’t see an updated Chronicle within say, oh maybe, two and a half weeks, then please call the police, coast guard, whatever. Up until the two and a half week mark though, you can assume that I am busy being a Handy Person with no life to speak of. Yes, I am still embroiled in work and when I am not doing such useful tasks as passing power tools or sweeping sawdust I am frantically working on editing my novel.
But joy oh joy! Prez is off on the annual Boy’s Club Fishing Trip (aka, the Boy’s Club Lots of Drinking, Loud Talking, and Bullshitting Trip) so I have four whole days to myself (two of which have already been consumed by chores).
I sent an email last night to Mickey and Minnie. You may remember them from waaaaaaaay back as the two friends who I discovered, through the grapevine, had lots of not so nice things to say about the Prez and I. You may also wonder why I have waited nearly two years to deal with this issue. Well, it’s my “Thing”.
Everybody has their Thing – good and bad. We all know the friend who dates one loser after another and refuses to see that they’re making the same mistake over and over. Or how about the parents we know who believe their child is an angel when the rest of us can see quite clearly that “Spawn of Satan” would be a more accurate title. The friend who can’t be relied on for anything, especially showing up on time. The friend whose spouse down talks them at every turn and yet they still worship them. These are our bad “Things”. Our glaring faults that we cannot see, will not see, or see and ignore. And we all have a Thing, trust me.
My Thing, or one of them, is my fear of confrontation. Oooooooooh confrontation, scary. Well, it is to me. I detest confrontation, and so I avoid it.
When I am angry, hurt, scared, offended or all of the above, I swallow it. All my bad feelings get jammed down inside, out of sight but not out of mind. Imagine getting to the checkout with a week’s worth of groceries and the cashier handing you only one bag to put them all in. You’d get some of them in, sure, but sooner or later they’d all be spilling out. That’s kind of how it is with me. I try to stuff every bad feeling I have inside but sooner or later they start spilling out in weird and frightening ways.
Shortly before my marriage to The Ex, I had one of these bad “spills”. The Ex did a pretty good job of losing every single friend we had, and one of the few good ones left was slowly backing away. Of course, being young, stupid and in love, I blamed all the friends and not my alcoholic hubby-to-be. Well, I received the wedding invite RSVP from this friend – I’ll call him Mr.Misunderstood – and in the part where it says “___ guests will be attending” he marked down a big, fat zero. My nerves, which were already stretched far past breaking, snapped. All the anger, frustration, humiliation, and rage I’d pushed inside during two years of a very bad, abusive relationship erupted.
My whole body was shaking as I drove to Mr. Misunderstood’s place of work. (It gets embarrassing from this point on, ugh). How could he not come to my wedding? After all we’d been through, after me being such a loyal friend, how could he do this to me?!? All my higher thought processes shut down; I was on autopilot with a terrorist at the helm. Storming to the front desk I saw him there and I wanted to scream. Oh wait, I think I did scream. A torrent of garble came out of my mouth and then…(truly embarrassing)…I said, “You want to treat me like dirt? Fine, I’ll treat you like dirt too!!” and threw a handful of actual dirt in his face. Then I stomped out and cried all the way home. (Told you it was embarrassing).
The worst part of all this is that it turns out Mr.Misunderstood, not being up on wedding etiquette, had made a simple mistake. He thought that when he put down “0” it meant that he was coming but he was not bringing any guests with him. (Groan). We did, eventually make up and I apologized profusely. And he came to the wedding! We remained friends even after my marriage disintegrated.
I’ve learned to be a little better with confrontation and there have been no further dirt throwing incidents…but it’s still tough. I recognize my Thing and I’d like to change it but I’m a realist, I will probably always have a hard time confronting people. Except…something very interesting happened last Sunday.
I am a proud member of the Shoreline Writer’s Society and we meet one Sunday per month to talk about writerly things, discuss upcoming events, read our work and have it critiqued by the group. I love it. I live for that Sunday meeting. This past Sunday I read a short story I wrote recently that I was feeling quite proud of. It was good. From the moment I hit that final key I knew I’d written a powerful story, what a feeling! And my fellow writers seemed to agree with me.
Now, I usually accept critiques of my work graciously. Even if I don’t use the suggestions, I am thankful for them and say so. This story was no exception, almost. One new girl spoke up and made a comment about a detail she thought needed to be added and I was getting ready to do my usual smile, nod, thank you routine (knowing I would never use this suggestion) when a little person inside of me started poking me in the ribs. No way! the little person said, This is a damn good story and you know it, so defend it! Stop playing nice and start sticking up for yourself!! And, wow, I did. I actually confronted. All by myself. And it felt good, no, it felt GREAT!
What gave me the power to do this? My good “Thing” – my writing.
You see, we all have a bad Thing but we all also have a good Thing. This Thing is a natural talent or ability, and we all have it but few of us act on it and many of us never recognize it.
All my friends have a good Thing. Martha should be running a botanical garden with her ultra-green thumb; Ironwoman Benson has a drive and determination that most Olympic athletes would kill for; Mo should be nominated for mommy of the year (motherhood actually oozes out of her pores); we should send Miz Liz to the middle east to clear up that whole mess (with her negotiating skills she’ll stop them from shooting and soon there will be a decorative mural program to bring tourists to Lebanon); CB needs to quit that high level corporate job of his and start offering seminars on trolling with cut plugs (J); I’m nominating Patty-Cakes to replace Oprah when she goes, what a way with people that man has; and Kozy, you mean Diamond Chef Kozy? I could go on and on and on…but talking about Kozy reminded me of something, something to do with how few of us see our good Thing.
At one of our ClubFred barbeques, we were sitting around an impromptu fire (in the middle of our lawn, long story) playing a game called “If”. Basically I read questions from a book and everyone takes turns answering them. One of these questions was, “What is the one thing you are best at?” and it was surprising, and a little sad, as we went around the circle how few people could answer this. “Well, I’m kind of good at this but, um, I don’t know, um…” was the usual answer. Even I couldn’t answer definitively at that time. (Prez said his was ‘sex’, that was unpredictable huh?).When it got to Kozy he paused, then asked if we could skip him and come back. We did. Once everyone was done we returned to a stern faced Kozy. He began, “I know materials. I know polymers, and molybdenum, and…” he went off naming material after material, growing more excited as he went and finishing with, “I f&%$ing know materials!” The crowd went wild. I’m smiling just remembering that moment. And now I know how he feels.
When you finally find your Thing, your good Thing, it sets you free. It gives you the confidence to look your bad Thing in the eye and say, “You ain’t so tough, I can whup you!”
I know writing. I f&*%ing know writing. Now, when my grocery bag of bad emotions gets too full, I simply empty it onto the written page. And I am free.
So, what’s your Thing?
Until next week (or thereabouts), I hope this finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!
p.s. – I want to make a book recommendation. Recently, I read “Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood and I cannot get it out of my head. Set in the future, it is haunting simply because it is a future that is all too similar to our present. Fabulous, fabulous book.