I guess a lot of people in 2014 typed in the question, “What should I write about?” in their internet browser. Why do I know this? Because when I opened up this blank space and could not gather mental notes in any real way for this post today, I decided to just type that question to the internet so it could help me out. After all, my mom told her friend after Layla was born that our generation asks the Internet questions first that her generation asked their mothers’ first. A few authors I’ve followed say that they never start writing on the computer because there are too many distractions. I can see their point.
I want to be here with you, so in the light of the morning, here we go:
I was circuit training at the gym yesterday and it was on the rower–not kidding–that I had this significant shift in thinking. Maybe the fatigue helped me see clearly. Contrary to what I share here in this public space, which was a difficult decision when I started because I’m a pretty private person, I tend not to let personal goals out beyond a select few because I feel it punctures the goal and lets the steam out of it. I shared that I’m working on an online course for students, and now the project is just hanging there with it’s door half open.
I think privacy is enough for my capricorn determination to handle resolves without an audience. However, there is more to this silence than that. I’m from a culture that is once removed from this idea of “the evil eye.” For most purposes, that’s the eye that carries a nasty wish from someone who is jealous of you. The idea is, for example, that you can be gifted with a lot of desirable things or qualities, and then someone else has the power to break it down with the eye of an ill wish or a jealous eye. Personally, I have a huge problem with how our culture can use the word jealousy. More often than not, I hear people call other people jealous when they themselves are arrogant, unwilling to see beyond themselves or reconcile their feelings, or have this nasty quality in themselves. But this underlying fear of sharing something good to a big degree is similar to what I’ve alluded on this site in my own way–this idea that when you’re in something good you may fear that the other shoe will drop. And sometimes that weird pattern happens when you do something great and share the joy, and then you run over a nail and have to change your tire, or you lose 5 lbs and then you get a cold that keeps you away from the gym for two weeks.
Additionally, it wasn’t really until I married that I realized people protect their compliments with the word “Masha’Allah” (God has willed) to both profess their good intention and be deferential. For example, I will tell my friend that her daughter’s eyes are beautiful, Masha’Allah. Additionally, the culture uses, depends on, and sometimes misuses the word “Inshallah”(God willing) to recognize that the outcome is out of our mortal hands and, sometimes, to stay in a space of respectful indecision. I could say with all truth, “I am dying to go back to Chile, Inshallah.” And I can also respond to someone’s request to hang out by saying “Inshallah” whether I truly want to or not. A long time ago, my friend and I combined our middle eastern, American, and Southern backgrounds by coining this phrase for Inshallah to “Inshallah-God-Willing-the-Creek-Don’t-Rise.” We shorten this via text as IGWTCDR when we’re really excited about something happening.
So, I confess that its from this underbelly of ingrained worry and having a beautiful mom who is always worried, that comes a lot of things, one of them including not sharing short-term ideas as much. I often share reflections here, and I’ve even shared resolutions (last year I actually met all of mine!), but I think I’m going to share some short term stuff here and then follow up with you guys. It’s not about accountability–trust me, I have apps and trackers and my own nature checking in. It’s kind of about wanting to fear less and to push myself to be okay with anything hard that comes along with it. It’s me saying that I believe people are mostly good, that life is meaningful in any way we learn from living it, and that I don’t want fear to mess it up. I’m so sick of that underbelly; I really am.
In another angle, I think Jen Pastiloff is truly affecting some aspects of what I share. I recently let Layla’s friend’s mom into the guest room with the gigantic never-ending pile of laundry covering the bed and scattered on the floor and maybe even in corresponding baskets. She asked me to see a piece I’d been referring to in a conversation, and I would normally tell this newcomer to my house that the room is a mess and I’d show her later, but then I thought of Jen and said, let me take the nobullshitmotherhood approach. Here is the room, and here is the mess we all make so we can all wear clean clothes. I hate folding laundry. It never ends. Done.
So here it is. Like half of the U.S., no surprise, I’m trying to stay fit and get back to a 2006 weight (any early 2000s will do!). It could work; it could fail. I work out usually and try to eat well usually, but I just got sick of “trying.” I joined Orange Theory in November. I’m on the Weight Watchers app (which is awesome, but saying that still makes me feel like a 35-year old mom–oh wait, I actually am that). I’m parceling out my points effectively. I’m learning more about food and about decision making, which is a surprising and unintended result.
So here what I’d like to continue next week: I will not go over my allotted points. I’ll continue going to the gym 3 days a week at Orange Theory, which I freaking love. I will continue reading The Year of Magical Thinking despite the weird dreams I’m having all week (possibly related to reading about pain and death). And I’m throwing in another while-rowing idea: I will not spend ANY money from this last paycheck that is not ABSOLUTELY necessary. If it’s not related to getting fruit, to getting gas, or to a kid necessity, I’m not buying it. I’m sick of feeling like money slips through my fingers.
And one more? I submitted a story to a literary magazine yesterday. I don’t usually share that I do that here, but now I am. I had submitted the same story to another literary magazine who has a gigantic turnaround time and hasn’t gotten back to me. I hadn’t heard back from them, so I sharpened up the work and sent it to another literary magazine last night. If it’s a good match for them, great. If not, I know I sent it. That seems to me about 80% of the gratification. I’ll submit another one to a place I’m looking at with a January 31st deadline.
Like I told my best friend last night, we sit there and talk about wishes we had when we look back at our past. Saying I’m thankful for my life now and all its challenges is an understatement, but I have a whole host of “I wish” sentences: I wish I was a better student in high school and pushed myself harder. Why didn’t I just take more AP classes so I wouldn’t be so bored? I wish I took more interest in my long-term me. I wish I started a writing club or took up art classes and didn’t always doubt myself when I was younger. Why wasn’t I in more plays? I wish I defied culture and parents and relationships by dating more. Seriously, what is the worst that could have happened? I wish I went the creative writing path instead of the literary studies path in college. I loved literary studies and how it skilled my brain, but I wish I’d allowed myself the creative writing joy which felt frivolous at the time. And I can look back and say more “I wish” sentences.
A friend told me once a couple years ago that there is an element of regret in some stories I tell. Yep, that’s definitely true. It’s been true, and I’d like to stop that because I don’t want want that same shade on my 30s. I’m newly 35, and Inshallah-God-Willing-the-Creek-Don’t-Rise, I’m going with less “I wish” sentences and more “I did” sentences. So here we go. I’ll keep you posted.