a prayer for women: i decided that instead of this being a keynote, it would be more like a commencement. commencement has a really good ring to it. you know: beginnings. graduating. next steps. i’m dedicating this commencement to Joules Evans who shows me every single day what courage looks like. and let me tell you, she wears courage so beautifully, she can mix & match courage with anything, even plaid. every day i wake up and i think: how can i make the world a bit better? and then i have coffee. and then of course, i do my morning facebook post/musings: what i know this morning post coffee, pre-wine. so this is what i know this evening. I know that we are fierce & mighty and powerful beyond belief. we are feminist warriors. and warriors are not without struggle or self-doubt, suffering and pain. i know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but sometimes, many times, the tunnel is excruciatingly long & dark, and scary. i know that with pretty much every obstacle, every set-back there is a stunning benefit, a grand result that matches in size. i know that the good outweighs the bad, but sometimes the bad feels never fucking ending. i know that kindness wins over cruelty. i know that love can beat hate and win at any & all games and or matches. i know that actions speak louder than words, but words – when spoken or written – can change someone’s life forever. i know it’s easy to say, ‘let go, put it behind you, give it up…stop beating yourself, eat gluten-free’ i know, i know… it’s much easier said than done. and sometimes, actually many times, it’s much better to say nothing, and just listen. and yes, listening is hard… but paying attention is what’s important. i know that there isn’t a woman who can’t turn lemons into lemon sorbet. mistakes into mission. bad boyfriends & bad girlfriends into really cool anthologies. toxic friends into supportive allies. and a fuck you into a thank you. i know that every woman – every single woman – is capable of the most stunning, gorgeous, extraordinary, stupendous, glorious things. capable beyond belief. we are each filled with more goodness & kindness & love than you can probably even fathom. i know that we are, every single day, capable of shaking up the world, turning it on it’s side, and making it spin like a 45. i know that each of us can make the world bigger and better and sexier. please, oh, please…don’t underestimate your greatness. we are, each of us, goddesses. we are. we have magic in us. magic. glitter. moondust. sparkle. there is a light – a gorgeous light – in each one of us, and we must never, ever let it dim, or die out. we are IT. we are. and let me tell you, it is time for us to let go of everything that holds us back. all the unnecessary crap. all the clutter. All the stuff & crap that makes us feel oh so small, so fucking unworthy. all the folks who don’t support us, who don’t believe in us, who don’t root for us. who wish us well, but … you know, not too well. yeah, those folks. time to let them go. it is time to let go of all the baggage we’ve been packing & repacking & schlepping around because it serves no purpose other than to weigh us down, and god knows in middle-age, we have enough extra fucking weight. it is a grand time – a perfect time – to fall madly in love with our own lives. to step into our own gorgeous glorious power. and as a reminder, anger is not power. anger, loud, mean… that is not power. do not mistake it for power. power is, and should be soft. we don’t need to be angry to be heard. we just need to show up. it’s time for us to step out of the box. to start a new line. to stop believing all the negative, nasty, mean stuff that is said mostly behind our back by folks who don’t know us at all. to take a leap of faith. to write that book, to make that film, to start painting…to make art, play an instrument, start dancing, singing, and yes, stretch our wings. oh, my goddess…flutter those babies. It is time for us to go for what it is we want in life. without reservation or question, without the self-doubt lingering, or hiding in the corner. we need to stop apologizing for being us. imperfectly perfect us. let me repeat that: stop apologizing. stop seeking approval. stop seeking validation. the only validation you need is in a parking garage. we need to stand up. to injustice. to inequality. to start a ruckus. a SHEvolution. to demand more for our lives. to demand more for our children & grandchildren. to stop making excuses. to stop taking less than. to stop taking crumbs. to own the absolute irrefutable truth that we are enough. more than enough. so, do your life. go on. do it fully. balls-out. no holes-barred. And for god sake, let it be messy & complicated and pile up those mistakes, pile them up, and please don’t think for one moment those mistakes are who you are. mistakes are detours, wrong turns and sometimes they take you places that you would’ve never known existed. remember a bad first date can turn into a great marriage, and an awful first draft can win a pulitzer. messy is a life well lived. a life well lived, and well worn. to be able to look in the mirror and say to yourself, “my god, i am so fucking beautiful,” so, please, on this evening of new beginnings: choose to live your life well. fill it to the brim with goodness, and kindness and generosity and beauty and magic and mistakes and messy and love. good love, kind love, sweet love, unconditional love, and self–love. do not allow anyone to make you feel small, unworthy, undesirable, or less than. wear all of your scars like stardust. you earned them. every bit of them
this is what i know this morning
yesterday i went grocery shopping. and there in aisle three was a guy covered in tattoos. now, truth be told, i like tattoos…i always wanted one. a small one. a teeny one. but this guy was covered in a bit of hate. not full on hate, but some tattoos were, you know, offensive. i could feel my heart pounding, and so, i moved along faster, quicker, piled the crap i needed in my cart and went to the cashier. as it turns out, he & i made it to the door at the same time. the automated door was not working. so, he opened & held the door for me, and said with a gorgeous smile – a seriously gorgeous smile, “you have a good day.” i couldn’t speak. i just couldn’t. that lump that gets caught… you know what i’m talking about…that lump mid throat… and he saw that. he did. he saw my face. he saw my eyes, and this was what he said to me: “i gotta live with my mistakes, i gotta wear ‘em.” wow. wow. wow, i thought, holy motherfucker, wow. i thanked him for holding the door open, and wished him a great weekend. i went to my car, tossed the bag on the backseat, and got in the driver seat. and sat.
i gotta live with my mistakes, i gotta wear ‘em.
how fucking brave to even say that.
to own it.
and full disclosure: i felt awful – full-on god awful – that i judged him. of course i judged him. of course. human nature, right? but still. but still… who hasn’t made mistakes? my god, i’ve made a shitload of mistakes, a boatload. fucked up, screwed up, said & did things i wish i could rewind and take back. i could list my mistakes alphabetical. i could list them, but i don’t wear them. big difference. we make mistakes and pray to god that we’ll be able to do better, be better, refill the tank. get a second chance, a third chance…maybe even just a chance & a half. and you bet we continuously beat ourselves up over the shit we did when we were younger, when we wanted to fit in, be liked, be loved, be accepted. we beat ourselves to a pulp.
he wore his mistakes full out, balls out for everyone to see.
he wore his scars like stardust.
and my guess, he gave himself that second and third chance.
he gave himself another chance or two or maybe even three.
so, this is what i know right now:
give them to yourself.
give yourself a chance at greatness, at goodness, at boldness. at brilliance.
fuck up, screw up, redeem yourself, inspire others, change the world.
go on people, go on:
STRUT YOUR GORGEOUS STUFF FOR EVERYONE TO SEE!
this is what i know this morning
yesterday my friend asked me, did you ever try it? yes, i said, yes, i tried suicide. obviously, this was all around the news of robin williams & his death. yes, i said… i was young, much younger, and so sad, i was so miserable & so unhappy & i felt all alone in the world. i felt like nobody knew what it was like, this damp darkness. everything was pitch black. there was no color anywhere. it was dark & lonely, and the best way i can describe how i felt at that time in my life was like being in the middle of a forest, and it’s eerily dark, and you don’t know which way to turn and so you take baby steps. teeny steps because you don’t know where you are, and you can’t see anything, and you don’t know how to find your way out, and you reach out for something to touch, but it’s not there. you fall down, and you don’t know how to get up, so you start by getting up on your knees, and then slowly, very slowly, you straighten up… and start to walk through the darkness and you’re not sure you’re gonna make it out, but you silently hope & wish & pray that you do. and i said to her – my friend – you know that saying, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, well, the truth is, there is no tunnel. no tunnel in the pitch blackness. forget about finding the light at the end… you can’t even find the fucking tunnel. so, yes…i tried suicide. the pills, the stomach pumped. and all that follows. but i was lucky. fortunate. blessed, whatever you wanna call it, because at 19 someone wanted to save me, help me, hold me. and then i became a buddhist, and then i battled my demons & unhappiness & self-hatred every single day. well, not everyday. some days they got the best of me & i could barely move. but i fought like a motherfucker. and some days i won, and some days they won. and some days it was a match. and some days i wanted to die, and some days i wanted to not only live, but live with passion & find beauty in my life and find love. and then what i found out, i found out that you gotta save your own life. because the person holding your hand, they can get really tired. they hold on so long & so tight that their arm aches. and that’s when i had my epiphany, my breakfast at epiphany moment, my ah-fucking-ha moment – if you really wanna save yourself, you gotta be willing to throw someone else a line, grab onto someone else and save them, help them, hold them. you gotta be willing to see another person’s suffering & pain and look them in the eye and say, i know how you feel. i. know. how. you. feel. i have your back. i’m gonna hold you and i’m gonna hold you tight. and the truth is, the balls-out truth is this: those of us who suffer from bouts of depression, who don’t believe we’re good enough, who can barely make it out of bed some days, who struggle with self-esteem and the whole concept of self-love… when we use our own pain & suffering so that we can understand another persons heart… it doesn’t eliminate our pain, or make it vanish, or go pouffff – but, it does make it bigger then ourselves, it makes it worth the struggle. i look at the folks i know – some very personally, some on the periphery – who have gone through hell & back a million times, and they use their life every day to inspire, encourage, awaken the good & greatness in others because they know what it was like to be flat out broken, broken into little pieces.
so, yes, i tried it.
and i’m awfully glad that i didn’t succeed at it.
i’m glad, wholly motherfucker glad, that i was a failure at that attempt.
because i get to rise up every single day and work through my life-stuff, face my own demons, and strut my stuff, and then i get to tell each of you that you are fucking awesome, you are magic & glitter & all that’s extraordinary in the world. because the truth is we are, even in our darkest moments, even in our saddest moments, even in our most broken moments – we have magic in us, we have glitter & sparkles; we are goddesses & gods, buddhas, kings & queens.
and we are amazing beyond belief.
so go on, strut your gorgeous stuff today knowing – absolutely fucking knowing – that you are not alone.
this i know for sure.
this i’d bet my life on.
okay, so, let me just say right upfront that i have been on edge. like super duper close to the edge. i’d like to say that i’ve only been on edge for say a week or two, but that’s not the truth. oh, please. i’ve been on edge for about four, or five, or … eight months. and i’d like to say i’ve been on edge because i’m head to toe full blown menopausal, but that would just seem like a bigger fatter lie.
i mean, how can i be menopausal for over 10 years?
okay, well, i can be. but not likely.
ken i and started an addition on our home about, oh, 2 years ago, 2 & a half years ago, because, well, we decided that it would be just so swell to have an extra bedroom, and a bigger, sexy dining area, and another bathroom so that when our entire “friends and family” verizon plan come to visit, they can have their own gorgeous space. no one told us (or maybe they did, but we didn’t listen, or hear, or want to listen or hear) that it would also cause major hemorrhaging of money. major. like huge buckets of money. and well…on top of that, my entire family imploded, and so, we’re hoping that by the time we finish this addition that we started oh, 2 years ago, 2 & a half years ago, with big smiles on our faces and money in the bank, our friends will come and visit and maybe even stay for a while.
but as always, i digress.
recently our dryer (the fab partner to our washer) broke. the knob came off in my hand. in my hand. GE, it brings good things to life. i told ken he had to fix it now. as in get out of the tub and go down to the basement and fix the dryer knob NOW. he told me, very politely i might add, to go fuck myself. as you can imagine this didn’t go over very big with me. ken got out of the tub and informed me that our dryer was now knob-less. i have no idea what that means. i called mr. cronk, our appliance repair man and explained what happened and he very quietly and calmly me told me that we obviously needed a new part and that he would order it for us and come over by the end of the week. ken wanted to know why i didn’t order mr. cronk to get out of the tub now and fix it now. because i’m not married to him, i said.
which brings me to this.
when the dryer broke, we had a load of white wash in the washing machine, and it so happens that while the white load was washing & spinning & washing ken threw in his old red – well, maybe not red, more a maroon color – tee-shirt…
and well, you can just imagine.
me being me.
not so fucking pretty in pink.
sometimes we look up at the heavens (or we’re under the covers, or sitting in a bathroom stall or just in prayer mode) and say, or think, or scream,”please oh please, i want my life to change NOW, RIGHT NOW. my life needs to change this instant. a big fat change. period.” we say – demand – that we need our life to be bigger, more open, re-arranged, and usually that need comes from a very intuitive place in our soul. we are starving, hungry for new. and then sometimes in a matter of days, weeks, months… things start to fall apart, implode, disappear, evaporate, shrink. get lost, people leave, walk away, cars breakdown, cats die, whites turn pink. and we freak out, and stomp our feet, and cry and spew and curse, and carry on because everything – everything – is falling away, apart, to the wayside. and then the epiphany, the ah-fucking-ha moment, the holy shit wow moment when you realize that all this, the mess, the crisis, the radical smash-up is all because you looked up at the heavens, and had the audacity, and balls out courage to say out-loud i need my life to change.
the universe heard your cry, prayer, hope, dream, frustration – NEED.
loud & clear.
i pleaded, prayed, begged for change.
i was hoping for a trip to paris with a side of Arles.
what i got was full-on chaos, a huge mess, a hemorrhaging bank account, and broken appliances.
the kicker – I GOT WHAT I ASKED FOR.
FULL ON 100% CHANGE.
ah. surrender, amy.
life is messy.
it is messy.
and most folks don’t like messy.
most folks like tidy & neat & wrapped in a bow.
yes, it’s true.
not all folks, but most.
we love the happily-ever-after, the non-confrontational, the clean sheets and yes, the neat drawers.
but life is not like that.
marriage, friendship, co-workers, neighbors, brothers/sisters, sisters/brothers, housekeepers, contractors, mothers/fathers…parents, children, pets.
pets are messy.
the list is long.
it goes on.
life is messy.
and messy is different – way different – than hard.
messy is cleaning up, mopping up, re-arranging, washing & drying, replacing, replenishing, renewing.
messy is cluttered closets, embarrassing basements, junk drawers, overgrown lawns, overgrown cuticles, unpolished nails, misshaped eyebrows.
messy is over flowing garbage.
literally & figuratively.
life is messy.
we say things and do things and rewind and rehash and remember too much.
we apologize too often for being all too human.
we push shit under the rug, and then pray & hope – out-loud & silently – that no one wants to vacuum.
we speak our truth and then wish we hadn’t.
we say yes, and wish to god we had said no.
we say no and wish to god we weren’t so impatient, impulsive.
life is messy.
it is filled with screaming & fighting & kicking & fuck you… no, no…fuck you.
it is filled with miscommunication, misunderstanding and mistakes.
and yes, life can be horrifying, unjust, painful, cruel, unfair and scary.
horrifying, and unjust and painful and cruel and yes, scary beyond belief.
last week ken had surgery, and his anesthesiologist came in (right before the surgery) and told ken that because of his heart problem which, yes, we knew about, they would have to keep him – ken – in the recovery room for 24 hours. to monitor him, to make sure nothing goes wrong.
i know, i know… it’s a good thing.
monitoring, watching, but trust me, it’s very easy for me to go from oh he’ll be fine, to body bag in 30 seconds flat.
and so, we – ken & i – kissed, and said good-bye and i left…
and i sat in the waiting room and waited.
with other folks.
some were worried sick, some were texting, some were watching tv, some were drinking coffee, some were meditating, some were praying, some were talking about (or to) their spouses, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, friends, neighbors…some were just staring out the window.
the waiting room was filled with life.
and then, after a few hours, i was able to see ken.
and the very first thing ken said to me was this:
we get to argue more.
life is so beautifully messy.
the other day i drove by a billboard: a young woman holding a newborn in her arms, the caption read:
THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE: PRO-LIFE.
there is no other choice…
i beg to differ.
i’m all for people making choices in their lives.
and, you know, they don’t have to make the same choices as me.
they can have their OPINION.
i love that i have choices.
i get to choose friends, and partners, and clothes, and food, and furniture, and politicians, and hair salons and doctors and restaurants and medication and pets and cars and all sorts of things, i get to choose where i live, and what i say, and who i love.
and i just love that.
and sometimes i make choices and wow-oh-fucking-wow are they the wrong choices, so i get to make new choices, and hopefully i get to learn from my mistakes, and if not, well, then i get to make more choices.
and it seems to me that those who are so clearly pro-life get to choose too. boy oh boy do they choose. they get to choose who they love, and who they hate, what they wear and what they say, and who they vote for, and where they eat, and where they picket, and what they burn and who deserves to go to heaven and who deserves to go to hell, what kind of cars and houses they buy and drive, and the company they keep. and you bet a lot of their choices i don’t agree with.
they’re not my choices.
so, it looks like everyone is choosing.
holy shit … everyone it seems is just like me: pro-choice.
and to clarify, i’m pretty pro-life also, i love – okay, maybe not every single day – waking up in the morning, i love that i get to kiss my husband and friends (yes, on the lips, thank you very much!). i get to watch the sun rise and set, i get to write and speak and share my thoughts, visit my friends, go to the movies, the theater, and laugh and cry and help someone else get through a day. i’m pretty fond of life. i think life is extraordinary, even in the worst of times. so, yeah, i’m all for life.
doesn’t that sound pro-life to you? does to me.
someone said to me a while ago that she was pro-life and, “didn’t think i was,” and so, i challenged her, and i looked at her and asked, “well, why, what makes you think that? what makes you think i’m not pro-life, i love life.” and she said, “well, because you’re clearly pro-choice,” and i said to her, “well yes, I am pro-choice. i’m both. pro-life and pro-choice.” and she asked all flustered, “how can you be “pro-life and pro-choice? how is that possible?”
and i said this:
“well, you know, i’m also all for pro-bowling, and pro-tennis, and pro-golf. pro-skating, pro-bono, pro-duce, and pro-phylactics.” and boy oh boy was she confused, like so ridiculously confused, and she looked at me, interrupted me, and said, “yeah, well, i’m talking about abortion. what about an abortion? you think that’s okay? you think having an abortion is okay? is that what you’re saying?”
boy oh boy oh boy, did she choose the wrong person to say that to. i looked right at her, right in her eyes, and with every bit of might & conviction in me i said: “well, it seems you’re trying to kill my opinion before i even get to finish what i have to say. wouldn’t you call that an abortion?”
she was speechless, and so, i chose to leave it at that.
(Excerpt from Marrying George Clooney, Confessions From A Midlife Crisis, Seal Press. Check out the vimeo at the end!)
The clock reads 2:34 AM.
I am determined to fall back asleep. Determined. I am determined to fall back asleep without any help from any sleep enhancement drugs — just plain old will and strength.
THE CLOCK NOW READS 3:47 AM.
I turn on the light.
Dim, very dim, as to not disturb my husband, who is sound asleep and snoring.
I would like for you to envision what I now see as I roll on my side to grab a magazine, a magazine that is on his side of the bed because he wanted to see the photos of Brad and Angelina.
An eye mask, earplugs, a lip-drool thing that looks a bit like Bell’s palsy, and my favorite part of this whole nighttime sleep ritual: what my husband likes to refer to as a PENIS RAG — a piece of toilet paper wrapped around his penis.
This is what he does after he pees in the middle of the night.
He pees. He wraps. He comes back to bed, all while wearing the eye mask.
There is a trail of toilet paper from the bathroom to the bedroom.
I kid you not.
While having breakfast, I hand my husband a paper towel. He reminds me, in a semilecture sort of way, that I need to be more “green,” more conscientious, more eco-friendly, more aware of the environment —I should start using “linen” napkins, because paper napkins, paper towels, paper anything is a waste.
I am wasteful, and I need to be more eco-aware.
I tell him that he’s absolutely 100 percent right. Yes, I am wasteful; yes, I need to be more eco-friendly. I can tell by the way he tilts his head and sips his coffee that he feels thunderously victorious. I give him his moment in the sun. I let him bask. And then I do something I never, ever think in a million years I would do.
I say nothing.
Not a word.
I know that actions – actions – speak much louder than words.
In the middle of the night, when Ken gets up to pee, folded ever so perfectly over the toilet-paper holder, is a linen napkin.
And because I am up at this ungodly hour, sitting at my computer, I can hear him – somewhat faint, but definitely irritated:
(and here is a toilet paper commercial vimeo link that is now running in France - love love love it)
(a love letter to my husband because our 20th – yes, 20th – anniversary is coming up in 3 days)
Thank you for loving me, for loving me good.
Thank you for putting up with my crazy little (okay, not so little) nut-dances & my shit. I don’t know how you do it, but you do, and you do it with such grace and kindness, and it just makes me love you more.
Thank you for the gorgeous garden, and the beautiful home, and the care you put into our lives.
Every single day without fail.
Thank you for holding me when I’m scared and worried.
That is a huge massive job, and you took it on without a fight.
Thank you for being so generous, in every way humanly possible.
Thank you for your passion, and spirit, and determination – not just in our life – but in the world you live in, you’re not afraid to speak your mind, open your heart, forgive easily, share your opinions, and fight the good fight.
I am so fucking proud of you.
Thank you for paying attention after I kick & scream & holler at you to pay attention to me.
Thank you for working so hard.
Thank you for the magic you seem to create in the moments when I so need some magic.
Thank you for being a very good man, a great husband, a spectacular gardener, a joyous friend, a sexy lover.
Thank you for being oh so funny.
For making me laugh.
I am so frickin’ lucky. and yes, yes, I know, I know … you are too. But today it’s all about you. Tomorrow it can be all about me.
I so very much love you.
And, I like you plenty.
I like you a lot.
Suzanne Braun Levine is a force of nature.
A great force of nature.
She is a mighty woman, a fierce editor, a glorious truthful writer.
You Gotta Have Girlfriends. (go to Amazon, and please, purchase this book!)
They sustain us. Fill us. Nurture us.
And sometimes, yes, they can break our hearts.
Suzanne has written an e-book about the importance (emotional, spiritual, and physical importance) of having girlfriends post 50. And good God, I just love the tag line: a post-fifty posse is good for your health.
How perfect is that?
The book is filled with hope and joy, the sheer power of friendship. It is filled with so many truths. So many you’ll recognize and nod, and see yourself in.
And she lays it all out in this glorious small compact necessary e-book.
She shares stories, and insight. Friending ourselves, the poison of toxic relationships, friends that last a lifetime, and yes, friends that last a moment. The good health of friendships.
We women – friendships – literally keep each other healthy.
In person, Suzanne is a magnificent gorgeous soft-powerhouse. The kind of woman you hope will be your friend. On the page she is more of the same, and after reading her, you long for that friendship even more.
What I love about this book, is that in reading it, I don’t feel alone. Unfortunately, you can’t dog ear an e-book, but trust me when I say that each page has a gem or two you want to remember, engrave in your heart. Suzanne shares her wisdom, her insight, her years of strong well-worn friendships starting at MS. magazine and how fortunate we all are that she’s so great at sharing.
Buy it, read it, share it, and please, oh, please… create circles of trust.
ken and i are together 24/7.
okay, you know what, that’s not entirely true, we’re not together 24/7, we’re together more like 48/14. we’re together so much it feels like we’re fucking conjoined.
‘hey, i have to pee.’
‘no, no… i have to pee.’
ken is retired, and i’m a writer. if you say retired and writer ten times really fast, you’ll get what i mean. it ends up sounding like retarded fighter. (i know, i know, I KNOW… politically incorrect) i work from home. i’ve worked from home since we’ve been married, which will be 20 years this may. i thought we had been married 20 years last may, but apparently i had read our marriage certificate wrong. so now we get to celebrate 20 again.
the point is: ken used to get up, and go to work, and i would be home writing.
well, that’s not entirely true, ken would get up, and go to work, and i would make believe i was writing, and then ken would come home and ask how my day went, how the writing was coming, and i would lift both hands in the air and say, ‘oh my god, my fingers hurt from writing all day long. i need a mani-pedi.’
and yes, god yes, my pants caught on fire.
day in & day out.
he would leave, and i would stare up at the ceiling, coffee cup & cigarettes near by (when i was a smoker, i’m no longer a smoker, but there are many days, more than i can count, that i wish i were still a smoker), and i would think about everything i wanted to write about, but didn’t want to get up off the couch. thank god for cats, they don’t need to be walked. they can entertain themselves and toss little balls around and be happy & content. many days i longed to be a cat.
ken would spend 12, 13, 15 hours working on a film or TV series, and come home spent, exhausted, depleted, and i would be lifting my hands up to the heavens feigning arthritis, and have the chipped nails to prove it.
and there were many, many, many days – an amazing amount of days – that ken would go to work (leaving at 4, or 5 in the morning), and i would get up, and sit at my computer, staring endlessly at the screen and screensaver, and then click my way over to solitaire, and/or writing/returning emails, and/or reading every piece of dreck online that i could find. and there were days, many, many, many days, when i would figuratively bang my head against the fucking computer screen slash screensaver, and then, when i heard ken’s key in the lock, i would instantly click on a WORD DOC, and make-believe i was writing.
how was your day?
oh my fucking god, my fingers hurt.
look at my chipped nails.
but now we’re both home.
we go to bed together, we wake up together.
well, that’s not entirely true, we go to bed together, but ken gets up – wakes up – a few hours before me.
he no longer works.
he loves retirement.
well, he doesn’t love love it, but he likes it plenty, and there are days i can find him swooning as he listens to the beat of his own iPod.
and even though i have my own room – yes, a room of my own – and even though we live in a fairly large, very comfortable house, i am no longer at ease lying on the couch staring up at the ceiling imagining grand stories that i will write, or wishing i had a pack of newports. although, truth be told, i still long to be a cat.
i replaced solitaire with facebook, and internet bowling.
i recently told ken that he has completely – completely and utterly – upset my daily rhythm by being home with me 24/7. that his being home with me completely disturbs, shakes, rattles my need, desire to be lying (yes, face-up) on the couch, staring up at the ceiling, thinking about all the things i want to write about but can’t, or won’t. that his being around, tip-toeing, lurking, being in the very next room talking out-loud to himself upsets my creative juices. that his coming into the living room, sitting down in the chair – while i’m staring at the screensaver wondering if i should go back to the black and white photos, or the squiggly colored images that would pop up every 60 seconds – disrupts my delicate thought process. that his retirement has stunted my growth as a writer, as opposed to the pack a day i smoked.
but the truth is, the dirty truth – the ripped from the headlines truth – is that his being home with me 24/7 (or really, truly more like 48/14) doesn’t allow me to lie to myself.
there i said it:
his being home with me doesn’t allow me to lie to myself.
i can no longer make believe i’m writing when i’m not writing.
and so now when he asks me how’s it going, i lift my hands up to the heavens, and i say: i’m leaving it up to the universe. and without missing a beat he says, you are the universe. and goes into this long amazing gorgeous lecture about faith and self-love and power, and owning our stories, and how words have power and tells me what a grand writer i am and no, no, no… you don’t need to be perfect, you don’t need to be perfect…just write…just write, he says. write, write, write, write, and then he kisses me on the forehead, and rubs my shoulder, and offers me a hearty thumbs up, and then mouths the word: WRITE!
i really wonder how this retirement thing is gonna work out.
maybe, just maybe…
i should write about it.
or make-believe i did.