Posted on August 28, 2012
Since we last spoke I’ve been struggling to overcome my passive-aggressive mentor-relationship (as I like to call it). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read her comments on my last annotation packet looking for something, anything to change my pattern of thinking about her. The funny thing I realized is although I’ve changed mentors, and although we haven’t exactly bonded, it may be more of me adapting to change. It is easy when someone nurtures you to want to cling to that person, but in the writing world you have to cut the apron strings and sometimes go to a less nurturing person, or else find a way to nurture your own damn self for change if that is what you need. We all like to have our egos stroked and it feels good to be told you are making progress or are doing something right. The real challenge lies in how you react when the rules change.
I’ve always said I’m good with change, and in some ways I may be, but I’ve always also been very opinionated, and hate to be misinterpreted. Add all this together and I’ve made my own private little storm. Doesn’t it sound silly to be fighting against oneself? It doesn’t make sense to me either. I wasn’t really fond of Business Calculus, but I found a way to come to terms with it so that I could get a good grade. Same principle here. It’s not like I’m going to marry my mentor – we just have to work together. Who knows, maybe down the line we might actually click instead of the immense void I feel right now. The fact is that I have to be open to allow that to happen, and well – I’m working on it.
I’ve been working on the short story my latest mentor requested, because she said my characters in Straitjacket (she also changed my spelling, but I digress) seem to be lacking emotional depth. How odd I thought. I’m so emotional! I sent her something from a story I’d been working on called In Pieces for feedback. In her defense she said she wasn’t a creative nonfiction expert, and after reading it suggested I draw from some personal experiences (since I obviously have an abundance of them) and transform them into art. Wonderful advice I thought, but I didn’t want to write about what she suggested I pull from. Do you ever get sick of re-living an experience? Instead, as I mentioned previously I’m writing something darker and revamping Three Day’s Grace about a woman contemplating suicide. Hopefully, this time when I’m finished people won’t think it’s all about me and accuse me of planning to off myself. Talk about awkward! I’ve made quite a bit of progress with the story, but my challenge here will be to keep it short and tight, yet still manage emotionally empty the character. I feel like I don’t know her yet, and until I do I can’t feel her pain. Only when I truly know her pain will she come alive. My packet is due for mail-out in the next three days so hopefully I can dig deep between now and then. It doesn’t help that I have to work when I need to be writing.
Those of you who have been along with me on this journey know I’m new to Tennessee, but I may or may not have filled you in on my latest job endeavor.
Have you ever been standing in line at an amusement park, waiting to ride the most popular ride, when all of a sudden the gate closes because the ride is full? Then you have to watch while others enjoy the ride, until your turn comes. It seems like the longest wait in history doesn’t it? There are even times while waiting, that the ride actually breaks down.
That’s what my journey from college graduate to cashierdom feels like. The picture you see above is my dog patiently waiting for me to come home from a long night of cashierdom. Like me, she is weary from standing in line for so long.
I miss the days when we got to spend the entire day together on the patio. She’d stare at the different kind of birds and smell the air, while I attempted to write or revise another chapter. Both of us were living in dreamland then, wishing on stars and living on our hopes. Don’t get me wrong – those were all really cool things, but since neither of us had a trust fund, and my writing wasn’t going to pay the bills, one of us had to get a job – meaning ME.
The road to cashierdom was paved with grandiose (although unrealistic) desires of success and financial stability. One can’t singlehandedly or reasonably hold down a full-time job and pursue a graduate degree in creative writing – at least I can’t. To those who can – I take my hat off to you!
Don’t get me wrong, cashierdom isn’t what I’d call easy. In fact, it requires a particular state of mind, and an almost otherworldly perspective of one’s situation. In cashierdom one must be cheerful, smile and greet customers (3 out of 5 who are rude) while simultaneously pretending not to attempt to sell them a product or service they didn’t ask for, and disguising the fact that 1) your feet hurt 2) your back hurts 3) it is entirely too damn hot in the store and no, that wasn’t sweat that just dripped from your forehead onto the counter, and 4) the only thing that keeps you sane is you’ve been reciting, “There’s no place like home” “There’s no place like home” between customers.
Cashierdom is a special place, where special people are being held captive, because the economic roller coaster broke down once they paid their fare, and received their college degrees. So the next time you’re in line remember to say things like “please” and “thank you” to the person standing before you. After all – it could be you one day taking his or her place in line.
Thanks for reading!