Category Archives: Writing

Sweaty Betty, an Update

It took less than an hour after I posted my Fretty Betty Disorder story to develop a new obsession:

What if the memoir-writing class doesn’t get its minimum of five students? They’d have to cancel. So I’m in, but what if? I’ve had other writing classes cancel at another place.

Now I have a lemony-fresh thought to worry about. What a relief. I must be a stress junkie.

I do fight this. Really. I tell my brain about how popular this class is. It’s always full. There’s always a wait list. It’ll happen.

My brain thinks I’m a chump.

(Paul is Rachel, and I am both Monica and Phoebe – mostly Phoebe)

Fretty Betty Disorder

I have no off switch for worry. If there’s any way to chill and let things flow, I can’t find it.

Then there’s Paul, my vanilla-flavored glacier. He can’t envision a reason to push events forward at top speed or sweat about anything.

I don’t get it. Why doesn’t he recognize the value in unnecessary stress? It could be that he sees when I freak out, I’m no less uptight, but it’s more likely that there’s something wrong with him.

Like when I recently submitted a project description to apply for a ten-month memoir-writing class.

I said, “Oh, my God. I’ve waited a year to register for this. I thought I could just sign up. I have to wait for approval. The instructor’s going to scratch her head and wonder how such a moron could belong in her class.”

Paul’s response was as disturbingly calm and predictable as always: “Don’t worry, Sweetie. You’ll get in.”

How naïve.

So I spent sixteen years between August 8 and August 14 waiting to see if I would be accepted. I hit the refresh button on the submissions website seventy times an hour, and it stubbornly said, “Submitted” every time. No “Accepted,” or more sensibly, “Rejected.”

Then came August 14, and the site conceded that indeed I was “Accepted.” This bewildered me, but I was happy. For five minutes.

Then I realized there were probably 40,000 people applying for fifteen seats in the class, and they would all get into the class ten seconds after registration opened the next day.

Starting at 7:00 in the morning on August 15, I began checking the institution’s site, only to find that the “Register” button was available for every class but the one I wanted.

Trying to get any work done while hitting the refresh button every five minutes isn’t easy. Plus after three hours, I imagined that the class’s fifteen seats were full, with a wait list of 39,985 people ahead of me.

So I emailed the school, and they said, “Well, for this class, you have to register by phone. We sent you an email about it.” There was no email in my inbox.

Now my mind was whispering, “This is a special, secret society, and you don’t belong.” Made sense to me.

When I called and told the nice lady that I didn’t receive an email, she said, “The message is in the submissions site, which is a separate program from regular email.”

Of course the site has a separate email system. It’s a secret society. Why hadn’t I thought of that? But maybe I could still get in. I took a deep breath and asked if I could register, and she said, “Sure.” That was easy. Too easy.

Now I’m in the class, but part of me expects to be the accidentally registered sixteenth person, and I’ll be turned away on the first day. Still, that insane part of my mind hopes to be surprised in a pleasant way.

But I think my paranoia may not be a disorder after all. If I hadn’t fretted and sprained my finger hitting the refresh button and then finally asked, “What’s up?” I wouldn’t be in the class. So everything’s fine now.

But what if it’s not? What if my printed confirmation is the product of a random punking scheme? Thank goodness I have thirty-four days to worry about this. Otherwise I’d just have to invent another obsession.

Paul doesn’t know what he’s missing.

The Chump Factor

I love a good bait-and-switch, especially when I’m the target. Especially when I feel appreciated for being me and not just my willingness to write a check.

I’m always surprised when movie characters are surprised that an artist sees them as walking billfolds, but I’m even more surprised at how surprised I am that it can happen to me.

It’s like that moment in every thriller where someone tiptoes into a pitch-black basement to see what’s making that mysterious noise. The urge to scream “Don’t be an idiot!” is overwhelming, and the result is predictable.

I’m supportive of artists trying to monetize a craft, but if I’m lured to spend money on Project #1 because I’m so wanted as part of the process, then I’m rejected from Project #1 and redirected to Project #2 because it needs more money, at some point my instinct is going to say, “If you go into that basement again, you deserve an unpleasant encounter with a chainsaw.”

So thanks in advance for any further spending artistic opportunities, but:

Maybe you should reach for someone else’s wallet next time

 

On Writing without Airsick Bags

For those who are considering writing their memoirs and those who are already in the roller-coaster process, I want to share a gorgeous, encouraging quote from Your Life as Story by Tristine Rainer:

“In autobiographic writing as in journal writing, there seems to be an internal wisdom at work that guides us to write what we are ready to understand. Different memories will ask to be written at different times, and this is an instinct we generally can trust. For the most part, people’s natural defenses protect them from memories they are not ready to face.”

When I read this just now, I caught my breath and slammed the book shut for a moment to absorb it. As I work through this fabulous guide, the truth of her statement is becoming clearer by the exercise.

What a relief to know I don’t have to be the one totally in charge of this situation. My brain keeps deflecting what it isn’t ready to explore, thus proving it’s a lot smarter than I am.

private memoirs of a justified sinner
No point, really. I just like the title.

Happy writing.