I know they say that time goes by fast but this week … this week Halloween managed to slow things down as I felt each hour and each minute during the jam-packed Fall festivity sessions.
I thought there would be fireworks and it would be magical.
I’d built it up to be such a great thing because I’d gotten so much out of the book… but being stuck in traffic, parking way across campus, and showing up 20 minuted late really seemed to fizzle things out. Nothing was going according to plan…
I had met her when my life was in shambles, Telenovela shambles … the kind where you wish you weren’t the main character because everything was so jacked up but it turned out that when you looked in the mirror you were that character, you were in shambles.
Yeah that was me some years ago, and I found such comfort and Aha! moments in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love novel that it helped me transition through such a tough time. Going through that with her words swirling in my thoughts and settling in my heart, I’d expected that same transformational lightning-bolt moment to happen again. But the two hours in traffic seemed to take the umph out of the lightning.
Sadly … I’d missed the opening. I hate missing anything, I’m the kind of person that gets to the movies early just to enjoy the previews, I don’t like missing the Oscars monologue, I don’t like missing beginnings, they sort of set the tone for everything else. So missing out on the first half of anything, especially this speech was kind of a downer.
But just then and there as I walked into the auditorium, sweaty and hair in desperate need of a hat or some Aquanet hairspray, I saw her and gratitude kicked in. I wasn’t focused so much on what I had lost, on how far I had parked, on the disasterous traffic, or what nugget of Big Magic I had missed, but I was centered on my gratitude.
I had caught the second half.
I mean in sports that’s when things matter, the second half. That’s when Hail Marys are thrown and the crows go wild. In books that’s where thing matter, in the second half. So as I stood there in the aisle leaning against the pillar I focused in on that voice I had heard so many times before in the Magic Lessons podcasts, and it appeared.
I came away with two great take-home moments from stories that seemed to resonate with the writer and creative force inside me. Great lines that made there way into my morning routine and do t-give-up inner dialogue.
And even though after the lecture ended the bad luck continued, I still found gratitude. The line was long for the book signing, and even though the chick in front of me took longer than she was supposed to and stole my moment with Gilbert making her posse quickly usher me away after she signing my book, I still felt good.
I had gotten my spark.
I had gotten my take-home moments … two of them and I was thankful for the mini lesson.
It’s not just a normal Wednesday.
I mean I’m sure 9 a.m. might of looked and felt the same. I’m sure there were milestone birthdays being celebrated at Morton’s Steakhouse, but the nerd in me was excited for a completely different reason.
Yeah … Today was the day that the male version of myself, Marty McFly, and Doc Brown blasted Huey Lewis & The News and went Back To The Future. If you have no idea what a DeLorean is … then this might not be the post for you.
For the rest of who grew up in the Walkman era and phones with mile-long twisty-turny chords then you know the beauty of the this movie. the importance of the time-space continuum and the whoa-factor to this date. October 21, 2015 was the day that Marty and Doc went back. This is the day when hoverboards, flying cars, and shoes that tied themselves were supposed to exist. The Cubs were supposed to win The Series. It was supposed to be The Jetsons Era.
The fact that it’s 2015 and most of the predictions have yet to happen just goes to show you that Zemeckis and Spielberg’s imagination gave us too much credit. But all the cool gadgets and futuristic innovations that we were supposed to exists wasn’t what drew me to the movie.
I wanted to see what happened next.
I wanted to find out what was up with Marty.
The first movie was such a great story about how friendship and a moment of courage changes your life. You know I was going to tune in to see Part II. And that was a story, within a story, within a story. It was a cool concept for me. I wondered what I would see in 2015. I wondered where I’d be and what I’d be doing on that day. It was so far ahead I couldn’t imagine it, I couldn’t even picture it, but I knew I’d be something and be doing something with my life. Something futuristic, something cool I imagined.
The day came and went.No hoverboards, no hydrogen-powered cars, no shoes that tied themselves. Not even a visit to the Sharper Image Store. Nope. Nothing cool about fighting an ear infection.
So even though today wasn’t what I thought it would be, I still enjoyed Marty’s time travels. I watched those flicks again, trying to remember where I thought I would be in 2015, trying to get that feeling back. Remembering the theater and the popcorn and the people I went to see it with, I ended up going back in time myself, and the night ended on a good vibe.
I was recently reminded not to be a jackass, which tends to be important when you’re a parent.
You’re gonna have these moments … however your mission in life is trying to minimize them. As a person or parent, this should be a great guideline. And there I was on the tip of it, about to cross into jackass territory when my internal dialogue checked me.
I heard it.
It wasn’t a scolding, you shouldn’t do this, watch your tone voice. It was a story. I had heard a story and it stuck with me. I had archived it. Didn’t know when I would need it, but thought it was important enough that I needed to keep it close. Being a sports fan and growing up as an athlete I figured it was just as powerful a lesson as Rudy, Hoosiers, or The Natural.
There I was on the soccer field watching my son and his Bad News Bears team trying to get the ball down the field. Just trying to get it to the other side. Now they’ve had difficulty doing this for the past few games as a number of members tend to kick it out of bounds.
Now seeing how my son is usually assigned the role of defender he never really gets a chance to lead the charge. I guess his ability to check people and clear the ball served the team better as a defender, closer to the goal.
So when he got the opportunity to kick the ball out of the box and down field, I thought he’d be eager and quick to blast it. But as they placed the ball in front of him, he turned trying to find an open teammate. Everyone appeared to be covered and it hadn’t dawned on them to try and move around or closer to my son.
So he waited.
Then I heard my voice.
Kick it! Just kick it!
Then I heard a few others saying … Hurry, kick it!
And he didn’t.
But after a few more seconds which seemed to feel like forever, he finally passed it down field to his teammate. This happened three times in one period.
So when he came in for a water break smiling about the fact that he was chosen to kick it down field, my thoughts were replaced by the story …
It was a high school football game and two Dads were in the stands watching their kids play the game. One of the players, John, was an all-star offensive player, always getting an opportunity to get his hands on the ball and gain first downs or score touchdowns. The other, George, was a defensive player who never really handled the ball, until that night.
There was fumble and George was able to pick it up. He took a step to the left, then a step to the right, and then got pummeled by huge offensive linemen. It was the kind of tackle where you could hear the crunch of the helmets. Everyone in the stands winced. The only thing people remembered about that play was not the fumble but the way George was leveled by the other team
John’s Dad put his arms around George’s Dad and just as he was about to give him his condolences, George’s Dad said …
“Did you see that? Did you see that! Those were the best two moves ever!”
George’s Dad didn’t see what everyone else saw. George’s Dad was beaming with pride as he saw the best offensive move his son had made to date.
So when my son came in smiling, I handed him his Batman water bottle and told him those three kicks were awesome. Maybe he’d get a chance in the next game to kick four.
The danger of being a jackass … avoided.
My Happy Place…fixes almost every bad mood.
I’d never been in a state of hilarity, disgust, fear, and anxiety all at once. Those tend to hit me one at a time. But nothing like a visit to the dentist to just bring out the best in you.
I didn’t hate him, but I sure didn’t love him. I don’t think anybody loves him. I mean he’s got root canals for crying out loud. Drilling at the vary root of it, the most painful, uncomfortable and exposed nerve possible. And at the end of it it’s not just your tooth that hurts…your whole freakin’ face hurts, and all you can do is move in slow motion for about a week.
But it doesn’t stop there … no.
They try to put television now to distract you from the pain of it all, but sometimes they put stuff that just adds to the pain, like the stupid Kardashians. Watching them hurts my brain … and if you do watch them it’s all good for you … but don’t tell me. I still want to think highly of you.
However this visit to the dentist had nothing to do with root canals or that talentless family. Nope. This was something much worse. I’d imagine much more painful if I’d gone through with it.
Although my dentist assures me it’s a necessary procedure if I don’t want my mouth to cave in or whatever in 20 years. But I’m up in the air about it. I wonder what Ferris Bueller would do?
You see there I was enjoying the sounds of the Showcase Showdown and Drew Carey on The Price is Right, when my dentist paused.
Hmph.He told me to give him a minute and then another chick entered the room. They both examined me, with that the miniature Captain Hook hook and the tiny mirror. They nodded in agreement and then he took off his mask.
You’re gums are receding. They’re in bad shape.
I had no idea they could do that, but apparently I’m an angry brusher. I was told I could no longer scrub my teeth like I was at a car wash, I needed to be doing it in a gentler manner, which was weird because I never thought of myself as an angry brusher, I just wanted my teeth to be clean.
All right sounds good doc, I’ll take it easy on the brushing. Am I all done?
You see because you grind your teeth at night and because the recession is so severe…you see here and here and on the other side there…the nerve is almost exposed…you see that? You feel that? That increases your sensitivity.
Yeah I guess I see.
Well we need to cover that up. There are two options.
He went on to tell me about the seriousness of it all, and suggested surgery. It was the only way to fix it. And I agreed. Totally … until he got into specifics.
You see this procedure would entail cutting the roof of my mouth and placing that extra gum piece on the side where my gums were down to the nerve. They would then stitch me up and wait a couple of weeks after I healed before cutting the other side of the roof of my mouth, grab some more Guat cells and replace the other side.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever burned the roof of your mouth with a hot cheese pizza, but that tends to hurt for hours, I can’t imagine how having stitches on the roof would feel.
Dreamy I bet.
I could just get some tissue stuff they had there. Benefits are that healing time is reduced and no stitches on the roof.
So what do you make this tissue stuff out of?
Wasn’t sure what kind of technology was going to be up in my mouth. But apparently it wasn’t Flubber or some other advanced form of tissue.
It was cadaver tissue.
You know the kind that dead people hang onto when they pass on.
Yeah. I’d have someone else’s gums in my mouth.
And it was right there and then that I lost it, right on that leathery Lazy Boy type of chair, with that chick from Iowa losing her Showcase Showdown. I lost it.
Disgust, fear, anxiety and hilarity all rolled up in one.
I laughed. I cracked up. I couldn’t stop.
The doctor didn’t know what to do, he looked confused and just smiled.
I’m gonna need a minute to mull that over I said in between laughs.
After about five minutes of gut busting laughter I left the office and told him I’d give him my answer next week.
It’s been about two weeks now.
I’m thinking dentures might not be that bad.
I had a breakthrough.
I just had it! Wanted it a couple of weeks ago, needed it a couple of weeks ago, but things don’t tend to happen on your timeline.
But it happened. I was on a roll and it culminated with the awesomeness of a Zac Brown Band concert.
I was going to tell you about my Anti-Dentite moment just for laughs, because that’s exactly how I found myself at the dentist’s office, contemplating between two of the worst possible choices presented to me, and instead of freaking out right away,which would have been the normal reaction, I guess. I started cracking up, at the absurdity of the choice, but I’ll save that for your Monday and hope to get you smiling at the beginning of the week.
Now this post … Tonight on my Netflix Night, I stand at peace thinking of the writer’s block I just Ninja-ed my way through. I was on a serious creativity drought where I found myself bored with my character and the thing is … She isn’t boring. I was super pumped when I started this literary journey. Tuning in night after night just to see how it all panned out. I was totally into her. Totally.
But then … I don’t know. The spark fizzled out.
I think reading it for the thousandth time and rewriting, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting it … I was like duuuuuuude I don’t want hear it. Enough with your life chick. Enough!
I couldn’t get my groove back and it didn’t help that the weeks were filled with the daily chaos that lives in the nooks and crannies of every mom’s life, the one that exhausts you because you got very little help, the one that you love and dislike at the same time, but the one that you’re super grateful for at the end of the day. You’re tired and grateful at the same time.
That’s how I found myself at the end of the night, just wanting to unwind, with no creative energy pumping through my veins and onto the page. I had broken up with my main character and didn’t even know it. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been so into your story but then after weeks of editing you feel like … yeah it’s not me, it’s you, has that ever happened?
But after a couple of weeks … I found myself searching for her again and reacquainting myself with that badass quirky character.
I snapped out of it.
I found inspiration through podcasts that I had no idea existed.
I got some Magic Lessons from Elizabeth Gilbert, soulful help from Rob Bell, and a dream chasing curiosity session on The Nerdist featuring Brian Grazer.
I stumbled across this podcasts phenomenon by accidentally tapping on the icon in my phone and then bam! Before I knew it I was rewriting like I meant it, not just getting through the pages but reconnecting with my character, Ms. Elena, watching her future unfold and cracking up as I remembered why she was created in the first place. I reconnected with inception. I didn’t want to break up again.
I saw the Big Picture again. I saw myself reading excerpts at Vromans Bookstore and Barnes&Noble, I saw myself listening to people laugh at the story, I saw myself signing copies (at Costco maybe), I saw myself in my white tent at the annual Festival of Books, I saw myself smiling because I had a copy of my novel in my hands.
So the podcasts lit the fire and I wasn’t burning daylight or midnight anymore.
Writing and rewriting everyday…consistently. Yup consistently, which has always been a technical difficulty for me.
But I had a breakthrough … All because of an accidental push of a button.
I like those kinds of happy accidents, because most the ones that happen to me suck. Majorly suck.
So I high-fived myself at the end of these two weeks. I let my freak flag fly at the Zac Brown Band Concert and I rocked out with the sold-out crowd, celebrating my accomplishment and enjoying the sounds of the best country band to play under the stars.
It was a great reward for keeping this writer workout going. No more break-ups here.
Breaking through boundaries is fun sometimes …
Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of the Daily Post.
I’ve always been scared of it, but realized now that I’m 40, I’ve reached the top level. Yup I’m close to Jedi Status on this one, but seeing how I still have blow ups and meltdowns, I can’t say I’ve reached the elite Zen level.
But I’m close.
I’ve become really close with it, my twenties and thirties were definitely times where failure and I became bosom buddies. And the truth is I hated failing. I didn’t look forward to that experience, or toward searching through the pain and heartache to learn the lesson that was hiding. No one does, really.
Failure is a hard thing to come back from, but I’ve realized I do a good job of it.
Relationships, family bonds, friendships, job interviews, career breaks, story writing, novel writing, article writing … I’ve had failure on every level, the most epic being parent failure as I feel that no matter how hard I try I seem to always fall short to some degree. There’s always some variation of failure staring at me by Friday night.
But the thing is I’ve learned to always get up and I don’t know if it stems from all the experience, or if it’s an inherent quality in my underdog mentality, but I first noticed it back in college when I saw a Meg Ryan flick.
Now, I don’t know if most of you are aware of Meg Ryan, but she was my 90s girl with films like When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail, and City of Angels. She took over where Molly Ringwald left off
She was my go-to chick flick, and it was because of her that I first realized … anything can go wrong. Anything and everything. It can, and there’s nothing you can do to prepare for something like that.
I was reminded of this just recently when I saw my favorite Meg Ryan movie for like the thousandth time. French Kiss.
The thing is, I don’t think it was a blockbuster or made millions, in fact some people probably hated it. But for me it was such a great movie. It highlighted the fact that failure happens, even when you do everything right, it will happen to you. It will. Somewhere on your timeline failure will hit you and it’ll feel like you can’t breathe, that you can’t get up because the air has been knocked out of you, that the humiliation, embarrassment, anger, hurt, or sadness of it all won’t let you. The weight will be heavy.
Sometimes failure won’t hit you all at once, it’s peppered throughout a decade, other times it will all hit you in a week.
No matter how great a person you are, you will have a relationship that will fail and leave you listening to 80s love songs. You will break your straight A streak with a C+ in statistics and find yourself eating pints of Ben & Jerry’s just to get through it. You will be replaceable in a job where you thought you would never be forgotten. You will not get the job after that kickass interview. You will fall down, even when someone is not trying to trip you.
Yup I think Meg’s the reason why I realized I could get back up. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the story is about a woman who has her white-picket fence dream fall apart when her fiance leaves her, and she ends up flying to France to confront him. The story follows the physical and emotional adventure that happens because of this choice.
But best of all the film shows you someone whose world falls apart, the big things come crashing down, and then on top of that, the little things follow that same route. Failure rains down. It did on her and it does on us.
But she doesn’t give up.
Failure happened, it tore her apart and left her crying in some strange country but she kept going. She woke up and she kept going. Failure didn’t kill her, although it might have felt that way, but it didn’t. She got up and she kept trying.
I love watching this movie just to get that feeling, that sense that … dude you can get up after failure. You can and you should, because it’s probably going to happen again and you need to be standing when it does. The recovery is easier. But you still recover if you’re on the floor, just takes a little bit longer.