Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sofor lack of having any new photos to share, I've adorned this post with a little something I snapped at a work Christmas party.

I don't know how successful I'll be at this whole blogging venture considering that I'm deathly embarrassed of taking a photograph of my tea and book in public (as bloggers do). I don't want to be that girl. But I am that girl, so much so, writing alone in a coffee shop. But at least I'm writing in my day planner because interestingly enough, I didn't plan ahead and plus, it looks more inconspicuous that way.

This irrational embarrassment is an innate and deeply embedded part of my personality, although most people may not know that about me because I'm too embarrassed to admit it. Most facets of my personality and most of what I like to do and pursue are humbly never brought up because I guess I'm just too private. Or self-concious, I can never tell.

Somehow I stomached putting my writing out into the world in college. I published my amateur musings, my giving-it-a-go fiction with scenes of casual sex and references to tripping on mushrooms. There was more to it than that but I just didn't know if, when published, people like my grandfather would understand and see something beyond the occasional profanity.

My grandfather was a writer and an editor of a major newspaper for 16 years so I suppose he had seen it all. He sent me a letter in college, saying, "The first time I read your stories, I thought they were quite sad but in second reading, they seemed much more." I put the letter away and although the sentiment was as much as I could hope for, it made me feel far too vulnerable. I retreated after I published a collection of short stories, only to come out now, writing in the pretend obscurity of the internet.

I am saying all of this because I'm reading Meghan Daum's new collection of essays "The Unspeakable" and I suppose it makes me want to confess my own unspeakables. I'm reading the book in hardcover, by the way, with sage and mint tea, which would be a nice little snapshot if only I had taken a photo.

I had originally planned to write about my Mom's old Christmas letters that I read through on Christmas Eve. My grandfather devoted his life to writing and my mother, come Christmas time, showed that she had it in her too. In a fashion I can't help but think Meghan Daum would approve of, my mother bypassed the tendency to turn the Christmas letter into a year-in-review of all the accolades one's perfectly mannered children had received. Instead it was a time to be honest about what life with four children was like:

When sick on Christmas -- "I'm sitting here surrounded by kleenex, thermometers, cough syrup and children. Nothing says 'It's the holidays' quite like a refrigerator full of amoxicillan."

When moving into a new house -- "May 30 - Put old house on market. "For sale by owner". June 13 -- Hire realtor. August 30 -- Children start school. Melissa tells new teacher that her family has nowhere to live and dissolves into tears."

When reflecting on being a stay-at-home mother -- "[My husband] continues to spend his free time fixing things we break during the week. And I find myself still enjoying being at home with the kids. There are THOSE days but then at least I get to keep up with All My Children. I'm room mother at school (you know those Catholics, all they do is bake and donate) and am learning to play bridge. The scary part is I'm having fun."

It seems honesty is so very well received when it's also funny, as my mother and Daum is. I'm not, which makes my writing a tad sad, as my grandfather puts it. But if I'm to be honest, hilarity is just not where I excel. Who knows where I do but I suppose that's for this space to explore. Sometimes a little pretend obscurity is all you need.

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