Sunday, October 31, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
As most of you know I’ve recently completed my memoir Only Good Things, the story of my zany childhood. I liken the process to giving birth - messy, painful, ooey-gooey. The last phase was the toughest… pushing, pushing, puuushing to finish it…all the while screaming GET IT OUT OF ME! like a possessed demon woman. And finally….
IT'S A BOOK!
Break out the cigars! Balloons! Champagne!
Then came the next step. After recovering from the long arduous labor, everyone wants to see the baby, and you worry – well, the baby does look kinda scrunchy. Will people think it’s ugly? Cute? Undercooked? But – you have to release it into the world. That’s what it came here for, you know. If I stuffed that baby away in a drawer for a year…well, people might think I was a negligent mother. So I did it. I started sending my baby out to be seen.
My friends all loved my baby. It’s so YOU. It has your voice! They got what my baby was all about, and because they love me, they loved my baby.
Then I sent it out to the big guns…agents who didn’t know or love me. People who would look at my baby with a critical eye. I mean, it’s not like I think my baby is the next Baby Gap model, but…it has ten fingers, ten toes and all that, and…well, it’s hard for me to be objective but my writer friends say it’s a great baby!
Yesterday I got my first rejection. Ouch. Even though I knew this was coming, after all - J.K. Rowling had 12 publishers reject her baby before the 13th accepted it…(and that baby grew into the biggest giant the world has ever seen! ) it still smarts. Because when it’s a memoir, it’s not only your work they are rejecting…it’s your life story. I tried to think of it this way: Everyone gets rejections, even the Beatles. It’s part of the artistic process, and with each rejection I get, I’m that much closer to the one who’s going to say yes. Right? Yeah, I tried to think of it that way. And I know there will be more, so I'm building my callouses.
This agent was actually really nice and said some lovely things about my writing and my “voice”, but here’s why she didn’t take it, and this is what’s plaguing me….she said -
Abuse memoirs are very hard to place in today’s market.
ABUSE MEMOIRS?!!!??? I never ever thought of my baby as an abuse memoir! I’ve never thought of myself as an abused person. I’m not a victim, and neither will my baby be. Well this got me thinking. Just because I know my baby isn’t an abused baby, doesn’t mean everyone else will. So maybe I presented the first three chapters of this baby in the wrong way. (Because that’s all they read- the first three chapters). This is actually a book about survival and hope. The story has many twists and turns, at times its zany and kooky and ironic. But they only saw that one snapshot of my baby- they don’t know it’s many expressions and moods.
So you know what that means? I have to shove this baby BACK UP INTO MY UTERUS again and let it cook a little while longer. Now, for some reason, I am avoiding this painful step with everything in me. I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna (kicking, screaming, crying……waaaaaaaaaah). Well – would you? I mean, really.
I don’t know, maybe I’ve got to take some Lamaze classes or something to get courage…cause all the breathing in the world isn’t gonna make me want to do this.
So… take down the balloons, stub out the cigars , send back the Congratulations cards. This baby is going back in the womb for now.Sympathy cards gratefully accepted.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Oh what a wonderful world it would – (scratch that) will - be.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
This month we’ve lost too many young people to suicide. They have surrendered their lives over simple acts of cruelty. My stomach is churning over this, not only because of the tragedy itself, but because my brother who I love so much is distraught over it. He too was bullied as a teen, simply for being who he was, a young gay man. I can’t for the life of me understand this form of bigotry, and can only surmise that it’s ignorance at its most elevated form, because if you knew my brother Ted, or my youngest brother Caleb, or my best friends Erin and Beth and their son Ben, or Julie and Mary and their daughter Sarah, or Tobias and Michael whose marriage has lasted longer than most straight couples I know, or Richard and Nico, or Michelle and Cary or Christina and Iliana …I could go on and on, there is no way you could feel that fear or hate. These are some of the most loving, giving, family-oriented people I’ve ever known.
But oh…we lowly humans, it is our caveman nature to fear what we don’t understand, and to hate what we fear. Fear spreads the hate that drives people to ledges.
And it’s not just gays. The bullying spans to anyone who is different from the herd. Too many teenage girls, too many young boys are gone now, victims of bullying. Thankfully there has been a real public outcry over these tragedies as we are all moved by these senseless losses. But some of us are more than moved, we are rocked to our cores, because we were those boys and girls standing on ledges who lived to tell the tale.
I was once one of those girls. More than once, actually. I think for some of us, we grew up with a feeling that we weren’t supposed to be here. When we began to believe, or were told, that something was defective in us, it started a hairline fracture right through the foundation of who we were. We could spend our lives trying to belong but all it takes is one act of cruelty to break us wide open. Those of us with the defective foundations…we’re like the weak gazelle in the herd. Easy prey for hateful people, because we accept the hatred they project onto us. We believe in it, even feel we deserve it. I was lucky. There was always one random person who showed up and lifted me back to my feet with love and kindness. That’s what saved me.
But when you’re young, you don’t yet know that this is only a chapter. You can’t imagine all the beauty that lies ahead, how strong you will be one day. You don’t yet understand that the hate directed at you is only a bully’s own self-hatred projected outward, that it really has nothing to do with you.
This is a crazy time in the world. It feels like the planets are spinning out of control and all we can do is hold on. Bigotry and racism, political rage, road rage and just plain rage are all on the rise. We are losing control, and so we get crazy with fear. Fear is what makes us hateful and cruel and destructive. FEAR is what destroys our souls. We have to rise above this, and teach our young people to do the same.
Where to begin? We can’t change others, but we can change ourselves. Starting with myself, I will be a voice of tolerance. And in my own heart, I vow to replace fear with love.
REPLACE FEAR WITH LOVE.
Like my friend Amy Ferris who gave a beautiful speech about tolerance in her town this weekend, we can all speak up in our own ways. If you can’t stand up and give a speech, then just stand for love in your own home. Sometimes it’s the smallest things that matter. Reach out, make a phone call, offer a smile, do something kind for someone today. You never know - your hand reaching out could be the one that just pulled someone in from a ledge.
I envision a world where we all coexist peacefully, a world where my brothers are safe, a world where there are no boys and girls standing on ledges….
It’s not so far fetched. It could be a reality.
FEAR cannot exist where LOVE resides.
Please. Spread the word.The word is LOVE.
Friday, October 8, 2010
The other day I was having a conversation with my friend Barb about, you know, all the usual girly stuff: The arc of life, karmic patterns we repeat, the existence of god, and shoes. She said she wasn’t at all airy-fairy, had never been to a psychic (can you imagine?) but asked if I believed at all in astrology. Yes! I said. Well, usually. I added. Actually, sometimes not. The truth is…I told her, I think everything is 50% true, whether it be religion, politics, Nurture-vs-Nature, the Secret, the Power of Positive Thinking, Karma, The Bible, Reality shows.
I mean, yes, I believe there is something to the alignment of the stars and the way it affects us. The moon affects the tide, farmers plant according to the cycles of the moon. So why not? Gravitational pull and all, I do believe we’re affected. But I don’t believe most of the astrological crap on the internet or in entertainment magazines. So, you know…I believe in half of it.
I believe in the good parts of most religions, and as far as I can see, the basic tenets are the same. Be a good person, don’t steal,cheat, lie, kill people (unless, of course, you need to steal their country or stomp out their religion). But then there are the parts about selling your daughter into slavery and smiting your neighbor for…I don’t know, things like wearing a fabric made of two fibers or eating shellfish. And no one really knows who or what God is or who EXACTLY wrote the Bible and who EXACTLY has tampered with it throughout history….and since it is written by man, and we humans are flawed by nature, it is certainly prone to error and the influence of a certain scribe’s own perceptions or political intentions. I mean, Glenn Beck has written a lot of books, he considers himself inspired by God…and it frightens me to think that in 2000 years someone could find his book in a cave somewhere and uphold it as an absolute truth. So…again, 50% belief there.
I believe that politics is mostly a game of power, but that some people go into to it for truly altruistic reasons, or some go in for 50% altruistic reasons and 50% power reasons. I believe half of what politicians say, and half of what the talking heads say. (The hard part is figuring out which half to believe.)
I do believe in the power of positive thinking (the Secret and Tony Robbins and all that). I mean, yeah, it’s great to believe in something good and put all your intention there. But then, shit happens. Your business burns down, a hurricane hits, people betray you out of nowhere…and no positive thinking can prevent some of that stuff. So, you know, it’s all good, but still, only half of the picture.
But let me tell you what I believe in 100%. I believe in the power of love. This is not some cheesy cliché or song lyric, I mean this wholeheartedly because I am living it. I have been knocked down so hard this year, by many more things than I reveal in my blogs, and I’ll be damned if every time I wasn’t scooped up by loving arms and put back on my feet. Love is what strengthened and healed me. I can’t find anything about love to not believe in. Not even 10% doubt.
Something else I believe in 100% - my husband. Because the other day, when I was in tears feeling completely defeated as my relationships and appliances were all exploding at the same time, I sobbed I’m losing everything. He took my hand and simply said, “Love wins.”
And even today, as one of my best friends is going through a heartbreaking awful experience, as are many of my sweet friends, I know we will all make it to the other side of this, because we’ll hold hands, form a chain and walk through that fire together. Because LOVE WINS.
And for anyone who might be mad at me for what I said about the Bible, please know that although I struggle with it every day, I have great respect for those of you with good solid faith. Truly. And anyway, like I said at the beginning of this blog…everything is only half true, so you can throw out the parts of this blog that you don’t like.
Except for the love part. That part is absolutely true.
Trust me on that one.LOVE WINS.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Friday, October 1, 2010
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.Give the world the best you have anyway.