October 12, 2011

Monkey Piss

I've only seen my father flip out twice in his life.

For those of you who don't know my dad, I can only describe him as the kindest man alive. He never loses his temper, never complains, and is quick to calm one down in moments of crisis. His two nicknames, Cabana Boy or Jimbolina, pretty much sum him up.

The first time I saw my dad flip out was when I was in 7th grade. I wrote a poem about a physically abusive and drunk father titled "When Poppa Comes Home" and then chose it as my favorite piece to display for parent's night.  He nearly had a panic attack when my classmates' parents read the poem on the wall, slowly turned to look at him with forced smiles, and noted what a creative writer I was.

The second time he flipped out was in regard to an infestation of squirrels that attacked our birdseed feeder. My dad tried everything to prevent the squirrels from jumping on it, moving it from branch to branch, trying different types, and spraying it with squirrel repellant.  When we returned home to see multiple chainsaws duct taped to the feeder, we knew that he had officially lost it. The squirrels had broken him.

I can only now relate to my father's squirrel meltdown. The monkeys in Mombasa have been infiltrating Jared and Ilea's apartment.  At first, I thought they were cute and would talk to them from the balcony, cooing "hello youcutelittlemonkeycreature."  But when they broke into the apartment when I was home alone, I freaked out.  Grabbing a wooden banjo from the shelf, I waved it at one of the monkeys.  The monkey would hide behind a corner and then pop its head back out until I waved the banjo again.  Three minutes went by until I realized that the monkey thought we were playing peek-a-boo. They weren't afraid of me.

A few days later, one of the male monkeys entered the abode. In an attempt to mark my territory,  I beat my chest and yelled at it. Jumping into a tree, the monkey then swooped a branch aside, stuck out his head, and thrust its chest forward.  I ran away screaming.

Yesterday, however, they officially broke me. After a long day of errands, writing, and torrential downpour, we returned home to make dinner. As we opened the door, Jared yelled, "OH NO THEY DIDN'T!"  Ilea and I glanced around the room in shock. We had been robbed.  Food was everywhere. Peanuts were strewn around the room, gnawed tomato peels covered the counters, cupboards were opened, and plastic bags filled with cookies were ripped open.  Dirty monkey footprints covered the walls, the oven, the windows, and the tile floor. And the monkey piss was everywhere.

We spent the next hour cloroxing the apartment and grumbling how we didn't have any tomatoes for the chili dinner we were supposed to cook.

I don't really have a moral of the story here. I know I usually like to explore how ordinary moments may hold greater meaning in our lives, but the only the only words that come to mind are: (1) shut windows; (2) buy slingshot; (3) fight the monkey piss.

October 7, 2011

Chronicling the Process . . .

So, I've been chronicling the book writing process in my journal.   I thought I'd share my journey thus far:

3/27/11: At dinner, we talked about the Bradley Cooper movie premised on “if a pill could make you rich and famous, would you take it.”  The question “if you could take a pill to be anything, what you be?” was posed.  First thing out of my mouth was “author.”  I paused, surprised by my answer. Really?! I asked myself.  Really. I responded.

4/9/11:  I told my mom and dad I had decided to write a book.  They weren’t particularly thrilled. My mom asked me if writing a book was distracting me from looking for my next job. I said looking for a job was distracting me from my truest calling.  I hadn’t expected full-fledged support necessarily, but it would have been nice.  My guess is that they’ll come around. They just want to ensure I'm financially stable, which makes perfect sense.

4/15/11: I'm telling as many people as possible I’m writing a book.  The more I say it, the more I start to believe that this will happen.  I need to hold me accountable.

4/30/11: Fricking internet, distracts me everytime. Nothing blocks my creativity than looking at my gmail/facebook. So why do I do it?

5/10/11: What I am realizing is that the more I tell people I’m writing a book, the more they tell me that they, secretly, have been writing down their stories too.  Who knew I was living amidst such secret authors! Why are people not sharing this beautiful part of them?  Is it because of expectation? Such a beautiful thing though for us to share this with each other, in a vulnerable, if not abashedly, admittance that we too want to be a story teller.

5/30/11:  I told myself I’d write today and then wasted a ton of time on my computer. Wtf. My mind was telling me to write and I acted like a complete addict and couldn’t give off the internet.

6/3/11: Went to my high school reunion and told my old English teacher that I was writing a book, he wants to invite me back in the fall and have me talk to the high schoolers about this process. Excited. But GULP. I’m doing it!

6/10/11: Happy birthday to me-bought my ticket to Mombasa Kenya for a month in September-October. Writer’s retreat here I come.

6/14/11: I need to be reading more. Need to collect more knowledge from the outside b/c starting to doubt whether I have it inside. But then again, all the answers are inside right?

6/16/11: I meditated this morning and what do you know, the words are flowing like water! It’s 7:32 in the morning, and I know I should go shower and get ready for work, but I simply don’t want to stop writing.  Last week I kept having writers block and doubts about the validity of anything I was saying. Now I just want to put it all out there and see what sticks.

6/21/11: I finished the Artist’s Way. But it’s really just the beginning. Can't decide whether to write this morning or clean the apartment (a normal morning debate).

6/27/11: I miss the Artist’s Way. Haven't done my morning pages, and they ground me.  I need to buy a journal to start writing down when women say wise things (which is often). Everytime I try to remember their story and try to write it down later, I never say it as well as they said it.

6/29/11: I pulled out all old journals from my bookshelf. All my life thoughts on the past 8 years of my life.  Going to read them and feel weird. Scary that most of what I think isn't true.

6/30/11: Roll out of bed and first thing I do is start to write. I cant help myself. Don't feel like going to work, but obviously not an option. Writing a legal opinion translates well into writing a book, right?  Although there is an undercurrent between justice and healing and the telling of narratives, I'm just not sure quite how it all comes together.

7/12/11: Went to my first writing group. Everyone says I should blog before writing a book. I stopped blogging to write a book. I’m screwed.

7/19/11: Submitted my first thing to my writing group, what should I give them? Gave them old blog entries to convey my voice. Wasn't particularly thrilled at what I chose.

7/25: Got my first writing sample back with edits. Think English paper w/ tons of red writing on it. But good advice.

8/5/11: Started blogging again. I needed it-helps me reclaim my voice.

8/20/11: Returned home to visit parents at lake house w/ intention of writing. Found out I have an interview at a job in Spanish. So rusty. Freaked out. Took daily Spanish lessons. No book writing.

8/27/11: Submitted an essay for women and power and WON! Good boost for morale.

9/25/11: Began writing "retreat." In Kenya, here I go.

10/1/11: James Pearson tells me about his book--he has a whole plan for what he's going to do when it's finished. Should I have plan on what I'm going to do when I'm done? Not there yet, must keep writing.

10/2/11: Intervention from Christy telling me to stop reading self help books.

10/3/11: Totally changed the narrative of book. 2 weeks left to focus before NYC distractions creep up on me again. 

10/5/11: Jared and Ilea sit me down on talk to me about the process of publishing, self-publishing, marketing, branding, etc. I need a permanent life coach. Can't I just hire some one to do all these details? Jared already got a book deal. Maybe it's good luck to be around him. 

October 3, 2011

"I just need to learn to like my face."

A few nights ago, I pressed up my face against the mirror scanning my face and taking mental notes of its imperfections.  No good ever comes from a close up inspection of one's face, which is why I refuse to buy a magnifying mirror despite my mom's continual insistence that I place one on the back of my bathroom cupboard.

Grumbling as I examined my skin, I had a flash back of a conversation from the month before.

I was sitting on a lounge chair overlooking the lake next to my nineteen year old cousin.  She was about to enter her sophomore year of college.  We talked classes, study abroad options, friends, and, then of course, boys.

"I don't know," she began, "I have a lot of guys who are my friends, but I never believe that any of them really like me, even when they say they do."

She continued " . .  . and everyone gets really dressed up when they go out, and so I've started wearing more makeup, but I've started to realize that regardless of whether I wear makeup or not, I just need to learn to like my face."

I laughed at the comment, but then paused as the wisdom soaked in.  "I just need to learn how to like my face."

How often do I look in the mirror and say, "Why hello there, Kerry, I like your face."

Women spend a lot of time and energy trying to like our face more.  But we think that before we can like it, we must improve it by wearing makeup, getting botox, buying expensive creams, or using a scalpel to reconcoct our features.  None of these fixes are ever enough though; it's only a matter of time before we find something else that we think we need to change.

The irony is it's all in vain. (Pun attended). It doesn't really matter.  No badly how much we want to, we never, really, look that different. We always just look like us.  Regardless of whether my friend dresses up for dinner and has on foundation or shows up with greasy hair piled on head and no makeup, she still looks like her.  We can't hide from the our most identifying physical trait.

If we always look pretty much the same, why don't we spend the energy trying to learn to like our face as opposed to trying to change it?

Sometimes I get so fed up by the pressures of beauty that I feel like I'm "sticking it to society" when I wear nothing on my face.  Though my sun spots are exposed and my smile lines extend from my eyes to my ears and my skin is pale with a touch of blotchy, it feels freeing to walk in the world in my most natural state. There's a Zen quote that says, "true freedom is being without anxiety about imperfection."

I'm not saying that products or makeup can't help us to feel beautiful, but I am saying that at the end of the day, I just need to learn how to like my face.