Posted by: Erica | March 5, 2010

I Am One Of Those Melodramatic Fools

“Do you have the time

To listen to me whine

About nothing and everything

All at once”

My friends, you have lent me your ears, or eyes, rather.   But, beyond the gaining readership this blog is experiencing, much has happened since that fateful night in my bedroom closet when I decided to go public with my personal crisis.   At that moment, I was confused about many things:  Had I wasted the best years of my life on mundane housework and an unfulfilling job?  Had a series of wrong decisions routed me on a path toward an apathetic adulthood?  Was the master of the universe trying to send me a message through Green Day songs?  I had questions, for sure.  But let there be no mistake, at that low point, I never doubted God was with me.  In fact, I was sure one of two things was going to happen–God was getting ready to kick my butt back in gear, or He was going to soon send some provisions.  Either way, I figured, if you were to witness it, His presence would be revealed in a mighty way.   

So I wrote an edgy blog post, held my breath, and clicked the submission button.  Was it a bit of a gamble?  You bet!  But sometimes you’ve just got to go “all in” with the Lord and the cards He deals you.  I expected a response–something akin to the hard time we humans have with, say, looking away from a bad car accident as we pass it by on the highway.  But, the magnitude and diversity of reactions….well, that has been an interesting surprise.  I have received extensions of condolence, expressions of concern, sage words of advice, book recommendations, personal testimonies, many emails with offers of support, and, my personal favorite, a care package of homemade chocolate chip cookies and gourmet tea.  I have also endured awkward periods of silence from acquaintances that just didn’t quite know what to say.  And, I noticed that my 70-year-old aunt, who doesn’t know what “google” means, suddenly joined Facebook. 

The results came in, and the consensus seems to be that most everyone feels something similar at one point or another.  No matter what choices we make, or what level of success we achieve, we tend to fall victim to what one of my friends described as “the grass is greener syndrome.”  Even Billie Joe Armstrong, who in a 2007 interview expressed a level of regret about never attending college (1).  Imagine that, he’s just created the Grammy-awarded best rock album and, yet, is a little envious of the time I spent in Sociology 101.

A strange thing happened.  I kept writing.  Amid the stir I was causing, I started to feel an eerie sense of calmness, of control.  It felt like I had tossed everything in my life up in the air so high that it would have enough space to sort itself out on the way down.   And then I hit a wall. 

“Sometimes I give myself the creeps

Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me

It all keeps adding up

I think I’m cracking up

Am I just paranoid?”

Ah, the whirlwind of human emotion!  At some point between getting food in the mail and taking the time to return some of your emails, I started to remember just who all has access to my blog.  I started to wonder about the awkward silence people.  I started to worry over what might be whispered the next time I was with Martin’s family…and what would be said straight to my face the next time I was with my own.  I started composing my defense for “unfit mother” allegations.  I mean, I care about the reputation I have in the roles of “mother,” “wife,” and “Christian,” and I started to think that the possibility of finding a new aspect of “me” with this writing business was not worth the possibility of losing the old ones.  Some say you can’t have it all.  Maybe they are right.

Runners refer to “the wall” as the point when they feel they can run no more.  Sometimes it’s a physical thing.  Sometime’s it’s mental.  I think for me, as a writer (yes, I’m claiming that title now that I have my first publication…lol), it’s the point where I have to adjust to sharing my innermost thoughts and ideas and find a way to still maintain a separate identity from the art that it creates.  That’s hard to do when you are writing about real feelings and experiences.  But, those real feelings of hopelessness come and are then followed by a healthy dose of optimism that I draw upon from God, Ansley, Martin, or otherwise.  Just like everyone else.  Only, writers take a moment of hopelessness and turn that feeling into 600 words that don’t even get read until days, years even, after the situation occurred.  And, sometimes the upswing of the event is saved for another day, another blog post. 

“Grasping to control

So I better hold on”

So, where am I going with all this?  The short answer is:  I don’t know.  Here is what I do know:  On September 30, 2011, my contract with the FDA comes to an end.  And I think that’s it for me as a scientist.  I’m hanging up my lab coat.  I don’t know exactly what comes next, but I’d like it to include wordsI’m being vague on purpose.  For now, the beauty of this blog is that I don’t have to define it.  No limitations.  It is what it is.  The inferred suggestion in “find your voice” is that you have to start looking for it somewhere.  Well, here I go.  I’m going to work on breaking through this wall.  What lies on the other side-English professor, magazine columnist, editor of a small town newspaper–that’s kind of an exciting mystery.  Who knows, maybe I’ll find a way to make a living deconstructing song lyrics.  Anybody have connections at Rolling Stone?  (Wanna buy five copies for my mother…well, there I go again.)   

I don’t know what the deal is with this Green Day stuff, either.  It’s following me.  It’s in waiting rooms.  It’s the first song on my radio.  I suppose if “little voices in your head” come with the territory, theirs are not such bad ones to have.  Stay tuned!

(Title and block quotations are lyrics from “Basket Case” by Green Day)

1.  Fricke, David.  “Billie Joe Armstrong.”  Nov. 1, 2007.  www.rollingstone.com

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