Today is my birthday. I’m 54. My husband gave me an unusual card. It’s not a birthday card per se, but rather one of those encouragement cards. The front has an Oliver Wendell Holmes quote: “I find that the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” Inside it says “Keep going. I believe in you.” And then he wrote in “Happy Birthday!”
Inside the card was sheet of paper with a list. I’d forgotten that I’d asked for this list. He wrote “Let me count the ways…” and then he listed the things that he loves about me. Me. As I am. It is an amazing list. It made me cry. Still is, as I type this. See, I’ve been kinda down lately. Thinking of all the innumerable ways I’ve failed. But the other day, he said something that slipped in through the cracks, I don’t remember what, but I realized that he sees me differently than I see myself. As I’ve been seeing myself for far too long. And I wanted to know what he saw. Sees.
Today it’s raining. And I just deleted two paragraphs where I went off on a negative tangent. The magnet of self-loathing is strong. But today, despite the dismal, cold drops hitting my window, I’m going to try and focus on the positive.
Yesterday, a good friend told me, “54 is a good year!” I hope she’s right.
I am baking myself a chocolate cake. I will make some mocha-flavored icing for it. Soon, I’ll sit down and just read for a bit. Right now I’m reading Patti Smith’s “Just Kids.” My copy of her CD “twelve” is missing from it’s case. I must find it. In the car I will listen to her rendition of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” over and over again. I think it reminds me of when I was a new mother, because it was a hit back then.
My kids are all very artistic. This makes me proud. There is art in their bloodlines, though some generations did not value these talents. Their sons and daughters were then conflicted and confused by their gifts. My mother was a frustrated painter. My father was a frustrated writer. It’s hard to encourage what you yourself have been denied.
Often I’m too thinky, or I think I am. I think I should be busy doing. Today I’m not doing much. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I’m trying to not worry so much about all the things I think I should be doing. My coffee is almost gone. Trying to decide if I want more, or if I’ll have some tea. Decisions, decisions.
The other day, Daniel Nester wrote about truth. Today, while I was driving, I thought that one thing that stops me, when I try to write truth, is that I think it might just come off as me whining. We’re not always filled with big thoughts. Often they’re rather small thoughts, and sometimes we post them as our status on that social networking place. It’s a good place to tell the world that you’re not happy with the sounds your washing machine is making on your birthday. But yeah, that’s probably whining. Or is it? I probably could start quite a debate about that. Don’t think I will.
Yeah, I’m rambling. Trying not to wander into the kitchen and check on the cake. It’s a mix, gluten-free since I should not eat wheat, but it looked a little funny because the butter wasn’t completely incorporated. So, there might be funny places in the cake. I debated making a cake. But I wanted something for dessert. I’m in a funny mood. Trying to cut myself some slack. Give myself some room.
Tomorrow I’ll get back at it. Though I’m not sure what “it” is.
The buzzer went off and I slid a toothpick into the cake. Needs a few more minutes.
The cake is done. Yes, I didn’t write anything for three minutes. Then, what I started writing right after the buzzer went off again? I deleted it.
Am I just wasting time, taking up space?
Yes, this question is meant in all ways possible. This has been just stream-of-rainy-day-consciousness writing. I’ve not set out to say anything in particular. I’ve thought of saying some things, then thought better of it. While I admire those who can turn their skin inside out on the page and show us the gooey stuff, I’ve not quite acquired the bravery to do that. My husband once whacked his shin with a machete (don’t ask, it was a long time ago and involved overabundant bamboo, a toddler in a backpack, and a Sunday afternoon ER visit). I still remember the way the layers of flesh, so cleanly cut, looked just like one of those diagrammatic side views from biology. I always wanted to take anatomy, the one where a cadaver is dissected, but it wasn’t required for my major.
My husband is making tacos right now. Our dinner. Like how I went from cadavers to dinner? Hahaha. I am being self-indulgent. Writing about whatever-the-hell-I-damn-well-feel-like. Whatever pops into my head. Tonight we’re watching “Finding Forrester.” I haven’t seen it since I started writing again, about eleven years ago.
When I was in junior high, I wanted to be a writer. Teachers had written positive comments on stories I’d written. I thought in stories. I liked haiku. They were very short stories, in poetry. But my writerly inclinations were fragile. Always trying to figure out what was wanted from me, I deduced that my writing was not it. So, I moved on to science. Of course, nothing would every make someone else happy enough with me to make me feel good about what I was doing. It’s taken more than a half-century (and still counting) for me to actually start thinking about my desire to write as something well and good in itself.
I think we’ll be eating soon. I hear plates being set on the table. I’m hungry. I like my husband’s tacos. I’ll have a margarita. And chocolate cake. I’m 54. And maybe this year I’ll move ahead some more.