The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Part I

As Rob M. noted in the last entry, I haven’t posted in awhile.   And, while my mom was here, I posted less frequently than I normally do.  There is a reason for that.  Though my mom and I have made great strides in our way of relating with each other, there is still a lot of me that I hesitate to show her.  Now, I am not worried she will read my blog because she won’t.  However, just having her around felt constraining.  I haven’t written much fiction lately, either, which bothers me greatly.  At any rate, I notice myself retreating while she was here, and once she was gone, I crashed physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

During her visit, I realized that she does truly want what’s best for me.  Sadly, in the past, I have doubted this.  Now, I know that she loves me and wants what’s best for me, but she simply cannot fathom a life that doesn’t include a career, a husband, children, and the church.   So, her concern for me is classic parental concern in one way–how is my child ever gonna be happy if she doesn’t do X, Y, and Z?  So, intellectually, I get that she is concerned about me.  Emotionally, however, it feels as if nothing I want is legitimate and/or viable.

Ten years ago, I thought about going the server/barista route along with performing.  My parents came down hard on it.  They said it would be ‘a shame’ for me to waste my brains and education that way.  They were pretty adamant about it, and I didn’t do it–even though I didn’t agree with their reasoning.  I mourn the fact that I caved so quickly back them, but I know that I wasn’t strong enough at that point to make such a complete break from the family line of thinking.  I was a fucking mess back then, and really emotionally fragile to boot.

So, now I’m spiraling back into that dark place.  The demons are increasing their chatter, and I’ve been slipping into some old self-defeating thinking/ self-harming behavior.  My therapist pointed out that I am changing; my mom is changing; we don’t know how our future relationship is going to be.  For someone like me who tries to control everything to the most minute detail, that’s not comfortable at all.  She said that going back to that place would be comfortable.  So true.    I’ve realized that depression wasn’t easy and it wasn’t enjoyable, but it was comfortable.  It’s my security blanket, as it were.

Kel says I will get my mojo back, if I want it.  The problem is, I’m not sure I do.  Let me explain.  And, in my typical fashion, it will take many many paragraphs for me to get to my point, so grab your favorite beverage and settle in.

My mom left a week ago Friday.  I had Taiji the next day.  Something came unblocked during meditation (I have a block in my right wrist.  I’ve had it for years), and an overwhelming amount of sadness consumed me.  Then, we did the solo form to music, and I immediately had the overwhelming urge to fall asleep.  I had to consciously fight off the desire.  When I talked to Choolie about it, she said it just showed how truly sleep-deprived I was because once I relaxed, my need to sleep was powerful.  She made sense.  The other times this happens to me is when I’m driving (not because I’m relaxed, but because I don’t really have to think while driving, just watch) and when I get tattooed.  Getting tattooed is both erotic and soothing to me.

Anyway, after that class, I needed to sleep.  Lots.  And lots.  Only, the sleep wouldn’t come and when it did, it was filled with disturbing dreams.  My schedule has reverted to the old days of going to bed around five or six in the morning and getting up in the afternoon.  That’s actually OK when I don’t have to be anywhere at any specific time, but when I have to get up before noon, it’s hell.

So, the performance was the next day.  It was really cool, but kinda weird.  I mean, five of us crammed into one bathroom (though it had two rooms) stripped to the bare skin.  Before, we had been mostly under the scrim so only flashes of nudity were observable.  In this case, we were all letting it literally hang out.  Now, I know Choolie, of course, and I’ve hung with Robert at a couple of Choolie’s parties, but this was the third time I had ever met Stewart and Kendra.  Very strange.

The performance itself went well.  I heard from people in the audience that it looked awesome.  I can’t wait to see the actual video.  All I know is that during the performance, I had to anchor the scrim with my foot, or I would have been mooning the audience.  Lei’s performance was wonderful, too.  Edit the video, woman!

Performing that night reminded me of how much I miss performing.  It’s as important to me as is breathing.  I told my therapist that when I perform, it’s impossible for me to remain static.  Performing is antithetical to remaining inert (which is another reason I eschewed it while depressed).  And, it reminded me of how much I gave up by not performing in the last ten years.

I know I have to make peace with my lost fifteen years, but it’s eating away at me.  So much time wasted.  I’m thirty-fucking-nine years old.  I let fifteen years go without a fight.  It drives me bonkers some nights.

The demons get in their licks, there, too.  They mock me for my lack of productivity.  Oh, and the fact that I’m fat.  Sorry.  That’s been very difficult for me lately, and I know that’s directly correlated to how much time I’m around my mother.  Right before she went back to Taiwan, she was blathering about how she’d gained a couple of pounds while in America and blah blah blah….She had been afraid to step on the scale, blah blah blah.  Now, keep in mind that my mother still worked out three to four times a week while here in addition to working outside and walking ten-thousand steps a day.  She didn’t eat outrageously much, either.  So if she’s doing all that and still gained a pound or two, I would say her body needs it.  At my thinnest, I had a twenty-four inch waist.  However, I had to work out two to three hours a day and eat less than 2,000 calories a day to do it (a woman my size needs a minimum of 1,300 calories a day to maintain the same weight, even if she does nothing but sit all day).  So, in theory, yeah, I could be that size.  In reality, the amount of work it took was not healthy.

That said, I am contemplating going down that road again.  This is where the ED thinking enters the equation.  I feel like a fat cow.  My mom’s obsession with her own weight and my ‘healthiness’ (her pseudonym for my grotesqueness) has kicked my ED thinking into overdrive.  When I looked at Kendra, besides lusting over her body, I also coveted it.  I wanted to have a body like hers.  I have said it many times, but even though I don’t find Ziyi Zhang attractive in the least, I would kill to look like this.

In general, my dissatisfaction with myself is pretty encompassing.  I find myself gauging what I do and say and castigating myself for any perceived misstep.  It’s actually a pretty good indicator of how far back I’ve slid because I know the more critical I am about small mistakes, the more depressed I am.

I have taken to thinking that my life doesn’t mean shit.  Oh, I know in general it doesn’t.  I mean, there is no particular reason I’m alive, and the world wouldn’t especially give a damn if I were to suddenly die.  I’ve actually had to make my peace with that because it was driving me crazy that I couldn’t find a meaning to life.  Finally, my therapist said to me in exasperation, “Minna, it doesn’t matter if there is a big meaning to life or not.”  She’s right.  It’s really a distraction that my brain likes to play on me in order to keep me from, you know, actually doing anything productive.  So, I’ve given up on the idea of finding a big-picture meaning of life.

In the last week or so, though, I have struggled to find even a small-picture reason to live that doesn’t include doing it for the people I love.  Through my blog here and my posting on various political blogs, I have realized that people want to hear what I have to say.  That’s a good thing.  Even my mom said something rather sweet.  She said that it was a shame I wasn’t published yet.  She wanted to read my novel when it got published.  I half-laughed and said, “You won’t like it.”  She said, “That doesn’t matter.  It will help me understand you better.”

The thing is, I’ve been rereading some of my fiction.  People have asked me why I write fiction.  I actually write it for the same reason I blog–I write things I would have liked to read growing up.  Hell, I write things I would like to read now.  In my fiction, most of my main characters are Asian females.  Many of them are lesbians or bi.  None of them are religious.  In other words, they are variances of me to some degree.  I had a story I wrote in my MA program about a female serial killer who was Asian.  My prof, who was Mexican himself, advised me to make the character white or people were just going to focus on the fact that she was Asian.

My response:  So what?  I didn’t want to have to make all my minority characters positive ones so people couldn’t misconstrue whatever it is they will misconstrue about race, gender, sexuality, religion, etc.  I am from the school of writing that says, “I write what I want to write.  Whatevs.”  I don’t believe that I should keep my mind on my audience because that’s the quickest way to stifle my creativity.  I know a writer who wrote that way, and he framed it as engaging with his audience.  He managed to imply that I was wrong for not writing that way.  He might be right; I don’t care.  I have a piece I wrote, and I just loved it.  Natasha liked it a lot, too, when I let her read it.  I had it critiqued in a workshop in my MA program, and I rewrote it after that.  I could see the life draining out of it as I edited, and I haven’t been able to read it in the last few years.

Writing is an inherently selfish occupation, and I make no apologies for it.  In the same way that I rarely ask for advice because I tend not to take it, I rarely ask for critique of my fiction.

The thing, though, is that there is no niche for me.  I read lots of mysteries, and while there is a healthy lesbian/gay section, and there is an African American presence, there are no mysteries with a bi Asian female protagonist.  I also write non-genre fiction, and it wouldn’t fit in any category, either.  In my MA program, my cohorts were much more traditional writers than I for the most part, even the program purported to be different than the norm.  They didn’t like my style of writing, even though they tried to be nice about it.

My mom asked me if I could write something more mainstream in order to make a name for myself and then write what I wanted to write.  I said I could, but there were a few problems with that.  One, most writers never reach a level where they have the freedom to break out from their niche.  It’s only if you reach Stephen King, John Grisham, J K Rowling-level of fame that you can pretty much write whatever the fuck you want.  Secondly, if I am going to make a name for myself as a writer, I don’t want it to be of shit and schlock.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, the viability of me as a published writer.  My writing is strange in many ways.  It’s not something that many people will want to read, frankly.  Right now, I’m questioning whether it’s worth it to try to get published at all.

Another thing that came up while my mom was here:  I fucking hate outside work.  Now, I’ve never been a fan of it, but this time around made me realize how much I hate it.  First of all, I don’t see nature as a creature that needs to be beaten into submission.  I think having to water the lawn every day because the grass is not indigenous to the local area is a waste of water, and I am allergic to everything under the sun (including the damn sun), so weeding and mulching and such is pure hell.  Why am I bringing this up?  Because one of the main priorities on my list was to get a house (pushed by my mom and bro, the realtor).  What I realized is that since I fucking hate yard work, a house may not be the best idea.  Yet, I do want a place of my own.  So, I could rent.  Huh.  Hadn’t thought of that.  My therapist pointed out that there are artist lofts, too, with living/working space.

My mom doesn’t meant to, I don’t think, but she really erodes any confidence I have in myself (which is shaky, anyway).  She talks about me being so gifted and talented and blah blah blah.  She says how I should have no problem getting a job blah blah blah and in the very next breath, she frets about whether I can actually be independent or not.  I can’t fault her the indecisiveness since I don’t have much faith in myself, either, but it certainly doesn’t help.

OK.  This is running long, of course.  I will stop here and start part two (and no, I haven’t forgotten about my mojo.  I will address it in part two).

5 Responses to The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Part I

  1. 1) “Now, I know that she loves me and wants what’s best for me, but she simply cannot fathom a life that doesn’t include a career, a husband, children, and the church. So, her concern for me is classic parental concern in one way–how is my child ever gonna be happy if she doesn’t do X, Y, and Z? So, intellectually, I get that she is concerned about me. Emotionally, however, it feels as if nothing I want is legitimate and/or viable.”

    Your mother is incapable of seeing the world around her. She is not willing or able to see that the man she submits to invalidates her “perfect family” bullshit mythology. And she is unable to see you as you. Rather, she sees you as the character she believes you should be in the play running running in her head. That puts you in the position of having to confront that your mother cannot see you for the woman you are, AND the fact that no matter what magic ponies fly out your ass, you will never be the Professor Barbie her play´s character is. Those the feeling that what you view as success isn´t valid for her. Simply put, she is making her problems your problem. And you´re letting her, because you know how to fall in that trap. It´s familiar to you. Kinda homey.

    2) “I know I have to make peace with my lost fifteen years, but it’s eating away at me. So much time wasted. I’m thirty-fucking-nine years old. I let fifteen years go without a fight. It drives me bonkers some nights.”

    Uuummmmm…fifteen years, and counting. The time you waste worrying about wasted time, is wasted time. I know there are things in your past that you have to confront, but even that victory is in front of you. Look forward.

    Welcome back. I soooo needed someone to be bitchy to! 😉 On to the Mojo…

  2. Rob M, wait a minute. You encourage me to blog so you can bitch at me? I will have to keep that in mind the next time I see you urging me to blog.

    1) Yes and yes. She will not ever be able to see a life other than the one she leads as valid, and yes, it’s easy to believe her because it’s familiar but also because I already have doubts about myself.

    2) Definitely. As my therapist said to me once when I was talking about the lost fifteen years, “And if you don’t deal with it now, you’ll be here fifteen years from now telling me about the lost thirty years.” I fully acknowledge the futility in looking toward the past. It’s just how I roll. I am working on it, but it’s pretty deeply ingrained in me.

  3. Minna, I definitely give a DAMN that you’re here.

    Your mom is an authority figure. The first one you ever had. That’s one reason why her wrong opinions about you make you question yourself. But you also know she’s just a human being, so she can be wrong about you. And she is. You have subjugated your dreams for others long enough, and it only brought you unhappiness.

    The demons that tell you ‘you’re not productive enough’ also whisper that you ‘wasted’ fifteen years. I say that you were seriously injured, in critical condition, and you needed those fifteen years to gain the strength to be here now.

    You didn’t really talk so much about the specific sadness that accompanied your wrist coming unblocked. The exhaustion could have been due to you finally letting that sadness move. It is exhausting. But, when it can move, it can move out.

    Your fiction is great. I think the fact that you have no ‘niche’ will appeal to someone smart. Plus, self-publishing is cheaper and easier than ever now. And you know a book designer.

  4. Choolie, you have been one of my biggest supporters every since I met you. I am truly grateful for that.

    My mom: Yeah. True. She’s indoctrinated me with what I should be for so long, sometimes it’s hard to separate that from what I really want to be.

    Demons: You make a good point. I’m going to touch on that in the next blog entry.

    Taiji: It’s definitely moving things in me. I don’t like it, even though I know it’s necessary.

    Fiction: Thanks. I definitely don’t want to be in a niche, but that makes it harder to market myself.