Thursday, August 31, 2006

Don't Mush With Me!


The gloves are off.

If there's one thing good bloggers are good for it's making you think about things from a different perspective.
It all started when a fellow cyberwriter known as
Gale Martin (GEM'S blog), jokingly placed a blond bombshell pic beside my name in her post entitled Happy Friends Day, which you can read here.  I was in good company that day. Gem's not-so-subtle hint that most everyone else in our cyber circle had a pic posted but moi, did not immediately persuade me to show my face on international television. I was content to go incognito. But something she said in a comment to my post dated August 20, 2006, cut me to mincemeat - as it were.

Gale - reinvented - vowed to"embrace the mush" in her own life, gently admonishing me to crank up that novel I'm sitting on. Her insightful observation that my writing is susceptible to wounds (mine) reeked of prophetic wisdom. I prefer - and hope - that also translates into openness for my readers.


Looking into crystal ball........My theory is that before she perfunctorily took the mush-plunge headfirst into Gale, I suspect she tosseled with the transparent types of Mimi messes I fall into. "I see the same kind of vulnerability in your writing, too," she commented regarding a piece I'd written entitled The Kindness of Bloggers, referencing a common midlife teetering she'd heard between the lines of my prose and apparently recognized. Strange thing about messes.

The story of my life - as it were.
Let's rewind the tape. It is 1972.


"Stop playing that piano! We're trying to get some sleep in this house!" I heard from every room but the tree house, where my brother threatened to sleep periodically - and did once - if he had to endure "Fur Elise" one more time..

And the ever famous question, "What are you doing in there?" except in my case it was "What are you doing in there? Writing a novel??" (well, actually, mother.....I am, said my twelve-year-old head.  Didn't she know that?)

"I need you to help your brother bring some tomatoes from the garden. Now hurry up! You should learn how to cook you know." That last sentence I blame for the terminal case of writer's block I suffered for years every time I ate marinara sauce.

After dinner she would try to coax me into climbing the mimosa with my brothers and sisters "to get the exercise you need" - I never understood that. I weighed 90 lbs - I just thought she didn't like my Beethoven. It seemed to me that every attempt at stealing away into my cocoon was blocked by some well-meaning platitude complete with a knowing wink...... "You can't be pretty and smart," my mother used to say.



I never knew which attribute she pitied and which she prized.

That advice did not work for my sister either. She baked culinary wonders in the kitchen, meringues and pudding creations and learned how to sew. AND she was beautiful.
I had an Easy Bake Oven that was possessed.
Who wants to learn to cook after THAT??

I'm sooooo misunderstood.

People have been messing with my mush all my life.
The only man who ever appreciated my marvelous cuisine was my grandfather. He sat in pressed pants, a button up shirt and tie on the hard-swept dirt floor of my kitchen behind the garage. He said my mudpies and tea were "to die for yum yum" and I pretended not to notice that he was really eating tiny little pastries my grandmother had slipped in the playhouse door so he had to tell the truth to his culinarily challenged granddaughter....who adored him.
The feeling was forever mutual.

It didn't matter to him that I was a mush mess.
He loved my mush.

Which is why Gale's comment on vulnerability set the wheels to spinning.

For days I've been toying with the inconvenient concept of authenticity. Bloggers have been writing about it lately. The courage - and honesty - and simple kindness - it takes to be selfless and encouraging of others in your own field.
In a world where your value is determined by the number of links in, it is indeed a brave thing to visit- and revisit-the unpublished and unnoticed.

This is the intrinsic value and underlying wealth of blogging.
And the Emmy goes to................total strangers.
It's a beautiful thing.

Not money or hollow favors or mindless chatter either. But carefully worded critique - oftentimes humorous and witty - as we wonder at the daring artistic talents (and sheer guts) of the scores of craftsmen in these blog pages. You have to weed through a bit of mincemeat to find them, but they're there and well worth the wading.

So why did my friend's worldwide comment cause me such angst? And what does that have to do with mud pies and tea in a playhouse? And why am I so admittedly disturbed - even miffed - that "vulnerability" landed in my lap (er....blog) again. Ahh.....again. Might hold a clue.

Why now? When I am stronger than I've ever been, when the best of the best of the best is happening in my life FINALLY, why now, when I know who I am. Really.
Epiphany approaching. .....

It is no longer about dishing out mush.
It is, as Gale so eloquently pointed out, about minding the mush.

Her words set me on a path of memories I've been reaching for - and giggling about - for some time. The courage and the spunk to be that little girl again. One who happily cooks a disaster with bubbling joy ....to simply present it to someone she loves.

Such is good writing.
Courageous writing is mush.

At times (who am I kidding.. most of the time) the labor is soooo over-exaggerated ("I'm soooo exhausted from writing those stories. I stayed up allllll night long slaving over the oven....I mean typewriter. How will I ever keep up with all this endless bloggin??!....) Enter violins. Swoon. Faint. Where is Rhett when I need him?

You may have noticed a certain fascination lately with one Scarlett O'Hara, in my
Dating Profile of the Day blog and an occasional mention of her antics here.
I doubt that is an accident.
I find her famous lines and silly quips to be .......well......dare I say....me?

Vulnerable indeed.

So why am I so bothered by that silly ole word?
Not because it reminds me of a time in my life when I was vulnerably at the mercy of someone cruel (although that certainly could be a part of many women's psyches), not because I was trampled on by a man climbing up the testosterone ladder (although that certainly DID happen), and not because I lacked the confidence to sew or bake or stitch.

I am not bothered by that word.
I am terrified of that word.
Which brings me and my adventurous just-gotta-figure-it-out-part-of-Mimi running straight to it.

My fear is not of uncovering pain or looking at regret and being hurt by it. 
My fear is that I won't.
Because deep down I know that that is the only place in me that is truly universal.

What I discover every time I run screaming from anything, is that my self-proclaimed I-am-woman-strength never holds a candle to the fear that nips at the heels of real. What I have discovered through the unassuming greatness of unmet artists across the globe and far-flung friends and passersby is simply this: I am nothing without my willowness.
My work is not a damn thing without it.

No matter how many mud pies I want to perfectly make, how many straight A's I want to present to my once-upon-a- dad, no matter how many smirky glances I give the "rights and the "shoulds" and all the politically correct garbage that surrounds the "truth"........nothing can penetrate the lets-make-em-laugh-crack-a-joke-mimi-girl armor faster than a little girl's loving nod to the man who ate her mud pies.

And if that screams vulnerability then so be it.
I've decided to be the Barbie doll with brains.

So here I am.
De-fluffed. Not a blonde hair in sight. Not perfect.

Not invisible.

I'm here to stay.
Thank you,
Gale.




5 comments:

Lizza said...

Brava! Wonderful post.

Vulnerability is a word that bothers me somewhat because it hits too close to home. When we write, parts of our psyche show themselves (sometimes unintentionally) in the way we use words. Kinda like finding out at the end of the day that your fly was open the whole time you were at a mall.

It's gratifying to find that other bloggers/readers appreciate your thoughts, that you influenced their way of thinking somehow, even for just a moment. :-)

gem said...

You're so welcome, mimi. I didn't think I was being that deep...there was just something about your writing, your voice--gently or playfully sardonic--I could relate to. I merely wanted to encourage you just as others, mostly strangers at my online writing site, have encouraged me. I'd like to reread this. My husband's waiting for me to come back to the motel room. But I'll be back...soon.

Mimi Lenox said...

Hi Gale. Whether you intended to or not, your comment, more than anything, helped me pen all I wanted to say in that story. As you know, sometimes that's all it takes for the light bulb to go on. For someone else to hear "the voice" is a writer's dream. I know what mine is. I have a sense of yours too. I'm finding the courage to say what I want and it's a wonderful freedom. I am truly Mi(me)Mi now.
If there is anything in the post that does not sit well with you regarding any references I made about you, please correct me and I will publicly change it. I meant everything in the kindess regard, I hope you know that.
Deep you say? Ha! Today I wrote about a paperclip. Go figure.

P.S. Can't wait to hear your comments. Don't worry. I'm tough. (grin)
I can take it.

Don said...

Th3e truly strong people of this world are the ones not afraid of showing their vulnerabilities - thus turning them into their strengths.

You can quote me on that... ;-)

Mimi Lenox said...

Don - Duly noted and quoted. Thank you.
You have no idea how much I needed to re-read this very post this morning. Really.

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