Having No Idea

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m a curious soul. Plain and simple, I have to get to the bottom of things. I want to know the how and why of every situation because that’s who I am. I firmly believe, she who asks the most questions, learns the most.

My father, however, doesn’t share my passion for curiosity. Whenever we’re catching up, I always ask him questions such as  “Whatever happened to so and so” or “How did this or that ever turn out?”

Inevitably, my father’s response goes something like this:

I have no idea.

It makes me crazy that he doesn’t know the rest of the story but no matter how hard I pry or how many questions I ask, my dad’s answer remains consistent.

I have no idea.

My dad’s curiosity level about something ceases to exist the minute it is no longer in his immediate trajectory. He doesn’t give a shit about the couple who lived next door that moved away because, well, they moved away. That’s the end of the story for him. He doesn’t need to know any more.

My curiosity, on the other hand, is infinite.

I want to know what happened to the neighbors after they moved away.

Were they happier? What became of them? Do they miss having my dad for a neighbor?

I want to know all of it, whatever all of it is.

So here’s the ado of it, folks.

When it comes to this blog, I have no idea what I’m doing.

None.

Wish I did. Hope I do one day but right now I’m just trying to figure it all out and determine what it is exactly that I want to say.

But for now…

I have no idea.

There’s this part of me that feels like I’m not being a very good hostess. Here I have invited you to come along and I haven’t been able to tell you what to expect or what kinds of things are going to happen here because

I have no idea. 

But, I can tell you this.

I’m going to figure this all out. I’m going to pry and prod and ask myself questions. I’m going to get to the bottom of what it is I actually want to say.

In the meantime…we’re going to have fun!

We’re going to have fun because we’re flying by the seat of our pants out here in Cyberland and even though I have no idea about the rest of it, flying by the seat of my pants just happens to be in my wheelhouse.

You’re in good hands.

So sit back, pour yourself a beverage and enjoy the ride!

Negative Space

The Case of the Vanishing Childhood

Hands down, Nancy Drew had the coolest job EVER.

And it wasn’t even really a job. I mean, it’s not like she got paid for it, right?

scarletslipper1aNancy Drew got to hang out with her best friends and hunky boyfriend, Nick Nickerson, while searching for clues that would ultimately lead her to solve some baffling mystery that had left everyone else in River Heights perplexed.

Growing up, my best friend and I read ALL the Nancy Drew mysteries. From the very first page, we decided that we were going to have a future in sleuthing. We would pretend we were the characters from the books and assign titles to every suspicious activity we encountered. The Mystery of the Fallen Tree. The Secret of the Broken Clock. The Key to the Missing Mailbox.

When it came to assigning parts, I, of course, got to be Nancy Drew because I was the bossy one. It doesn’t take a degree in criminology to know it’s the bossy friend who gets what she wants because no one wants to deal with the repercussions if she doesn’t. My best friend got to be Nancy Drew’s dark-haired, tomboy sidekick, George Fayne, despite the fact that I was the one with the dark hair. (Neither of us wanted to be Bess Marvin because she was always described as “slightly plump”. Plus, let’s face it. Bess was not as savvy at sleuthing as Nancy and George).

We established our own club, the Cub Club Detective Agency (we collected teddy bears on the side), of which we were theblackwood2a sole members. We spent hours sketching out plans for a clubhouse that never came to fruition. We would invent mysteries out of thin air. Everyone was a suspect, including Inky the cat who had suspicious spots. We had notebooks and brief cases and fantastical ideas. We had badges and Morse code detectors. We even had a theme song! We used to make commercials on cassette tapes, advertising our amazing ability to solve crimes. Playing detectives kept us occupied for hours. It was our perpetual playground and we lived in it 24/7.

When the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew television series starring Pamela Sue Martin emerged, we were right there watching it. Nancy Drew Hardy BoysWe huddled on the couch of the little house where she and her mom lived and watched it on their little black and white TV (cable wasn’t available where I lived and all my bossiness couldn’t get me a signal without it). We were mesmerized by the handsome Hardy boys and immediately tossed our imaginary River Heights boyfriends aside. We decided the Hardy boys had much more in common with us because they were, after all, just as passionate about solving mysteries as we were. (Wanna take a stab at who got Shaun Cassidy for a boyfriend? I justified it by claiming Shaun Cassidy was the star of the Hardy Boys and since Nancy Drew was the star of the series, it was arguably a logical partnership. Oh, and yeah. I was the bossy one.)

BionicwomanWe didn’t limit ourselves to merely G rated characters from books. We were in the business of solving mysteries and whatever tools we needed to adopt to make that happen we were happy to incorporate. We gave ourselves bionic powers and ran around the neighborhood in slow motion searching for clues. Like Jamie Sommers, we swept our hair back behind our right ear, which allowed us to be privy to conversations out of hearing range. (I let my best friend have the Six Million Dollar Man for a boyfriend. It only seemed fair).

Charlie’s Angels empowered us. We realized we could be detectives AND be pretty. No longer did we have to rely merely onCharlie's Angels our sleuth savviness — we could be fashionable too! Our feathered hair would blow in the wind as we rode around on our skateboards searching for clues. We investigated every inch of our community for evidence of injustice in an effort to make Charlie proud. (As my bossy fate would have it, my brown hair meant I never got to be the most beautiful angel of them all, Farrah Fawcett. Karma gave me the option of choosing between Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith instead.)

My best friend and I thought growing up and becoming detectives would be the coolest thing ever.

But we didn’t grow up and become detectives.

We just grew up. And when we did, our childhood vanished.

My best friend ended up moving away and it’s no mystery that things were never the same. We still got together but geography put a damper on our creativity and the time we spent together became few and far between. Our plans to become partners in solving crime, that we had spent our collective childhood preparing for, had begun to fade. Eventually, the doors of the Cub Club Detective Agency closed once and for all.
2015-11-03_00.19.53

I recently came across this unrecognizable stamp that once had our names etched on it along with Cub Club Detective Agency and the address where the clubhouse would have been. It brought a smile to my face.

It turns out my childhood hasn’t vanished at all. It’s right here in my heart where it belongs.

You’re Invited!

One of the cardinal rules for maintaining a successful blog is to blog consistently. Survey says, the only thing I have been consistent about is breaking this rule.

But that’s about to change.

Here’s why.

It just so happens that November is National Blog Posting Month (more affectionately known as NaBloPoMo) and I have decided to participate! I realize this is a pretty epic task to accept for someone whose last post was over a month ago. But here’s what I’m thinking. Maybe you could come along with me on this journey and help me out a little. Accountability, after all, is clearly what I am in desperate need of.

So here’s what I am proposing:

I have accepted the challenge of posting a blog EVERY day for the month of November. I realize this means you will be hearing from me A LOT. I’m by no means asking you to read EVERY post EVERY day but if you could occasionally check in and see how I’m doing and give me some feedback in the comments section, I would GREATLY appreciate it.

I think it will be fun and I’m SUPER excited about it!

So what do you say?

You in?

C’mon.

It’s gonna be GREAT!

I

Where Do You Write?

What are your writing habits? Inconsistent, sporadic, haphazard but always with the best intentions. Sitting on my deck with a cup of coffee and determination seems to yield the best results.

What equipment/supplies do you use to write? Hands down, my preferred method of writing is in a composition book with a colored (typically pink) pen. Ultimately, my thoughts need to be transferred to the computer if they plan to go anywhere, but generally I begin with a pen in my hand. It is mightier than the sword, after all.

What do you need and want in a physical space? I don’t discriminate when it comes to writing. If I have an idea or thought I deem important, I write it down no matter where I am or what I’m doing. That may mean sending myself a text, or jotting it down on a napkin or writing it in my journal. If I had to choose the ideal writing atmosphere of course it would be a villa in Italy. But truth be told, I probably wouldn’t be able to come up with stuff to write about as easily as I do in the chaos of my daily life. When I’m knee deep in life, trying to figure it all out –that’s when the ideas come flooding in.

A Story in a Single Image

While frantically searching through my office for my missing insurance card, I came across this photograph that used to reside in my father’s office. For as long as I can remember, the frame has always been cracked, though I can’t say how that came about. My younger sister’s picture sat next to mine on the shelf, all of her adorableness shining through in her unbroken frame.

I’m not sure when I first noticed the crack or when it first started to bother me but it did.

For years.

After my dad retired, I came across the cracked frame in a box at his house and specifically asked if I could have it. I wanted proof I wasn’t my father’s favorite daughter.

I have a habit of harboring shit like that.

I don’t know what irked me more: the fact that my frame was ruined or that my dad didn’t bother to fix it. I entertained endless possibilities debating the two sides, convinced the entire time that had my sister’s frame been cracked, it would have been repaired immediately.

The frame could have fallen off the shelf. More probably, it simply tipped over and cracked and like so many other things in life, went unnoticed.

To everyone except to me.

Fast forward years later, when I too become a single parent like my father. In the hallway of our house, hung three frames displaying my children’s artwork.

Except, the thing is, one of the frames was empty.

For quite some time, one of the frames didn’t have a picture in it.

And I can’t remember why.

It could have been because I couldn’t find the picture I wanted. It could have been because the picture I wanted to use was too big for the frame. Whatever the reason, the frame hung empty on the wall.

I’d put it up with the best intentions, never planning for it to hang empty as long as it did. For the longest time, I would walk past the empty frame and remind myself it needed to be addressed.

But for some reason, it never did get addressed.

I could type out a million excuses, all of them probably valid, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that all these years I have been wagging my judgmental finger at my father for the exact same thing I did to my own child.

It seems my cracked frame compliments my glass house perfectly.

Did the son whose picture was missing wonder why his artwork wasn’t represented like I wondered why my cracked frame hadn’t been repaired?

I don’t know the answer to that question. All I know is that when a friend visiting me asked why I had an empty frame on the wall, I rectified the situation immediately with a drawing off the fridge.

Years later, I confronted my father and asked him point blank why he favored my sister over me. His response was simple and concise.

I didn’t. 

That sentence could have seriously changed my life if I’d heard it earlier. But I didn’t know how to ask it because I was too busy worrying about my cracked frame.

Misplaced Musings

So two things that I desperately need have gone missing: my dental insurance card (which I need for my 9 am appointment tomorrow) and my old cell phone that houses old photos and contact information I never bothered to back up. (There’s actually nothing specific I need my old cell phone for, it’s just that now that I’ve reminded myself it’s missing, it will do my head in until I find it.)

Because that’s the way I roll.

This dilemma sends me digging through piles of paperwork stacked on my desk at almost 11 o’clock at night. Paperwork that according to my desk calendar hasn’t been addressed since July.

I sigh, consider the possibility of a Plan B and realize there isn’t one.

Not quite at the hurling papers point but rapidly approaching it, I remind myself that I am behind on my Blogging 101 and Writing 101 assignments that a) were due last week and b) I promised myself I wouldn’t get behind on.

I quickly log onto my blog, eager to rectify this situation. But instead of starting on my assignments, I proceed to read the blogs of my fellow classmates. I gleefully discover that I am not the only one who is behind on their assignments! This evolves into pressing Like after Like and posting a series of clever comments to my partners in procrastination until…

Nearing midnight, I realize I must get serious about finding the insurance card. In the midst of convincing myself that I will eventually find my old cell phone and to just focus on finding the insurance card, several interesting things occur.

First, the drawer I’m certain will produce the misplaced card actually results in the discovery of the missing cell phone!

How do you like them apples?

Then, after digging through more paperwork piles in my office, I not only find a receipt with all my dental insurance information but also locate Stephen King’s On Writing (the book I thought I inadvertently sold to the bookstore) and a play I wrote several years ago that I have been in search of for ages.

But wait, there’s more.

I feel like I’ve just won the lottery when all of a sudden I come across the perfect inspiration for my next blog that will simultaneously complete both my Blogging 101 and Writing 101 assignments.

Can you believe it?

I’m thinking Shakespeare was right when he said “All’s well that ends well.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Dear Fear,

Dear Fear,

First of all, I want to thank your for your input. I appreciate your honesty. I can see how you believe I would be interested in subscribing to your philosophy considering this partnership has gone on between us for so long. But the thing is, you have been calling all the shots for a very long time. You have been determining what direction we will be going in, or more accurately, not be going in. I’ve listened to your doubt and embraced the insecurities you have imposed on me. I’ve been comforted by your presence because it has been a consistent part of my life. You are the familiar face I recognize in a world of uncertainty.

You have talked me out of making decisions, claiming to be looking out for my best interests when really I think it is your best interests we have been serving all this time. I have willingly empowered you to become a stronger force in my life. I have fed you the fuel you needed to become stronger and bigger. I’ve allowed you to dominate my life.

You’re the toxic friend I have to let go of in my life. You’re the one who reinforces my lack of confidence. You remind me on a regular basis that I am not good enough. I need someone to lift me up not drag me down into the abyss of self-doubt while pulling away the rope. I need someone who believes in me, not someone who believes in suppressing me.

You have filled my head with so many versions of “What if…” that I never even considered the possibility What if you are wrong? What if all the stuff you have been telling me isn’t the truth at all but devious fiction you’ve created to serve your own purpose?

You believe that I don’t matter, that my thoughts and opinions aren’t valid, that I will fail if I give it a try.

And maybe you’re right.

But maybe you’re not.

Maybe, just maybe, I do matter. Maybe my thoughts and opinions are valid to someone other than you. Maybe I’ll fail but maybe I’ll try again and succeed.

You’ll be missed like any bad habit one acquires and tries to give up. I imagine you will find a way to try to creep back in my life. But I want you to know YOU’RE NOT WELCOME HERE ANYMORE. I’m dissolving this partnership. I’m stepping out of this dance I have become so dependent on and accepted as truth. I’m finally looking you in the eye and seeing your for what you really are

An excuse.

An excuse not to try, not to create, not to live.

Goodbye, Fear. We may meet again, but next time I will be prepared for you. I will acknowledge you but I won’t embrace you and let you back into my life.

Ever again.

And that, you can count on.

Melle

Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast Magic Lesson #9