Monday, July 29, 2013

Ramblings From a "Different" Point of View

I love my family.  Really I do.  With all the crazy ups and downs, laughter filled dinners, cold stoney after-fight silences, hugs and rough-housing, raucous cheering at sport events, and quite admiration at award ceremonies.

But they don't always get me.  And after years of feeling so out of place, black sheepish, anger at myself, I've arrived at a place in my life where I can say with confidence that my family may not always get me, but I'm okay with that.  I'm not ashamed to be me because I am different.

And that's what I think my mother has come to accept in my too.

I've been childless for the past month as The Growing Boy has been down in Fl visiting the bevy of aunts and uncles.  I know he's been having a blast and missing me at the same time.  I can't wait to pick him up later this week.  I've missed him so much more than I ever could have imagined. 

I was filled with much trepidation and anxiety last month, waiting for my mother to show up for a week long visit before she would fly back to Fl with The Growing Boy.  I was half prepared to drink or Xanax myself to sleep every night, frustrated and exhausted from her disapproval and judgement.

But something happened on the third night she was here.  We stayed up until 3AM talking about everything under the sun.  Mental Illness.  Child rearing.  Diet.  Love of food.  Life decisions.  Relationships.  And it finally clicked for the both of us when we started talking about defiance.

One of my younger sisters is going through a difficult time right now.  She feels lonely and friendless, out of place and angry, mixed up with adolescent emotions and dreams of her future.  My mother said to me that my little sister was "defiant."

I challenged her to look at my sister as different, rather than defiant.  Mom countered that she thinks I'm defiant because I have blue hair and that I hold onto the silly idea that I should be loved for my individuality, when in reality life would be a lot easier for me if I did more to fit in with the mainstream, rather than fight it.

When she said that, a bulb went off in my head.  Everything I've read about every wonderful, crazy, intelligent, emotionally wounded, talented person came to mind.  And I realized that I fit there, too.

"I don't see myself as defiant.  I'm just different.  To me defiant is the Russian rock band Pussy Riot that climbed up on the alter of an Orthodox Church for an impromptu performance, calling for the ousting of Putin."

I continued, "Look at all the lovely works of art that have been created over the ages.  The music played, the stories written.  All that came from artists.  Artists who were considered weird, who didn't fit in with society.  And some of them were kinda bastards that no one wanted to hang out with.  Sometimes with one side of their brain being open to such creativity, their social side was crap.  Michelangelo was not a really fun person to hang out with.  But out of his differentness, came amazing beauty.  Look at Van Gogh.  That man was a tortured, mentally-ill nut case.  He died penniless, yet The Starry Night, painted from his asylum window is one of the most recognizable works."

So as we continued to talk, late into the early morning hours, my mother got to know me a bit better.  And I got to know my place in the world a bit better.

And I'm so happy.  Happy knowing that the imagination I have, the dancing in the aisles of Wegman's, the bursting laughter, the blue hair, that's all me.  I am different from the next door neighbor.  Not the same mother as the mom from karate class.  And as I work hard to raise a wonderful, scary intelligent, Tourette tickish, loving and lovable little boy, I can take pleasure that my differentness, my weirdness, my individuality is a strength.  Not a defect.

 (Side note, I am a firm believer in hate-free, freedom of speech, and public protest, but storming the alter at a church whether it be Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Buddhist is just wrong.  Wrong time, wrong place, wrong audience.  If you are going for shock value, you aren't going to convince your enemies that you argue is valid.  If anything, it will solidify your opponents believe that you are a total douche bag.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

More of Chapter 1

Within moments Bod had consumed the plate piled high eggs and tomatoes.  As he turned his attention to the bangers and mash, a small burp escaped from his lips. 

A pig-tailed toddler across the car giggled.  The child's mother tried to shush her all the while proclaiming with a loud, self-righteous scold that, "Some people are born with manners and others aren't."

Blissfully unaware of the sneering woman, Bod returned to the food table and served himself another steaming bowl of porridge.  He drowned the hot mash in heavy cream and sugar.  The taste was so sweet and satisfying he felt like a little child sneaking cookies from the cupboard before dinner. 

A young woman wearing an apron with a matching cap stopped by his table.  "Good morning, young Master.  Are you enjoying all your breakfast?"

When Bod looked up, the wind was knocked out of his lungs.  The girl, this girl, was it Liza Hempstock?  Where those the same dancing grey eyes that bewitched him?  Had she followed him out of the graveyard?  Surely she wasn't bound to the graveyard as she wasn't buried on consecrated ground, but how did she get so far?  And how could he see her so well, for at the height of his Freedom of the Graveyard, his ability to see her clearly was like seeing a gray cat walking in the shadows of early night.

"Liza?  How did you find me?"

"No, I'm sorry.  My name is Melody.  I work the morning shifts on the food car to London, but I think there is a girl named Lilly that works the evening shifts.  Is that who you are looking for?"

A lump formed in Bod's throat and he swallowed hard.
You looked like a friend of mine.  I was just so surprised, so excited," Bod trailed off, unsure of how to explain that moments before he had mistake this girl for the gray-eyed witch.

Melody smiled.  "Is there anything I can get you?  You seem to have eaten your fill but would you like a glass of juice, coffee or a cuppa tea?"

"Oh yes, that would be marvelous!"

"Alright, so which would you like?"

"All of them."  And then seeing the puzzled look on the girl's face, Bod wondered if he made a mistake.  "Uhhhhh, if that's allowed."

"That's quite alright.  I shouldn't be staring.  You are welcome to anything you'd like.  I've just never heard of anyone wanting all three drinks at once," she chuckled.

"Well, I've never seen so many different food and smelled so many odors.  And they're all good.  Except that stuff labeled haggis.  Looks a fright.  But I keep smelling something pointy and I must have it.  Can you bring me the pointy thing?"

"I'm not sure what Young Master wants, but I will bring the drinks round."

"Please, don't call me Master." Remembering the Sleer had told him to find his name, he said proudly, "I'm Nobody.  Nobody Owens.  Bod for short." 

"Okay, Mister Nobody Owens, I'll see if we can find this pointy thing for you."

With a wink and a turn on her heel Melody strode away from the table.  

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Bod's Travels Chapter 1: Pointy*

Not too long ago, the boy named Bod packed his bag and left the graveyard.  With money in his pocket, a passport in his hand, the boy called Nobody Owens boarded a train and traveled far into the night. 

The train rumbled across a weathered trestle, down through valleys, and as sun peeped through the widow curtains Bod awoke with a start.  He was hungry.  This was the first morning Bod had ever spent away from the graveyard.  Years of the cool comfort, the dampness, the wizened inhabitants, the old that was the graveyard.

Silas had always provided food for Bod but it had always been packaged food, items with a long shelf life, mechanically wrapped away from the elements.  When Miss Lupescu visited she brought food that she had cooked, but the smell was never pleasant and the taste was even worse.  Foods she called borscht, tripe, and sauerkraut.

But no.  These smells were different from what Bod had ever experienced in his 18 years in the graveyard.  It smelled sharp and pointy.

Can smells be pointy? Bod wondered. 

Eager for an answer, the boy pushed open the door to his sleeper car and stepped into the hallways.  He stumbled a bit for he had yet to adjust to the rhythm and sway of the train.  The sensation of having the ground under your feet fly by as you stood still was new and curious.  Bod wondered how long it would take from him to get the hang of this.

He push forward, shoving aside the accordion door and walked into the adjoining car.  A table ran the length of the wall of the car, piled high with foods he had never seen. Had it not been for the small signs in front of each item, he would have never know what to call these things.

Scrambled eggs. Grilled tomatoes and fried mushrooms. French toast. Bangers and mash, beans and oatcakes. Porridge. Hog's pudding and haggis.

The last item Bod stayed clear of.  He wasn't sure what haggis but it look suspiciously like the black sausage Miss Lupescu had tricked him into eating one time.  When she finally admitted to Bod that it was a sausage made with jellied animals blood, the boy had gotten thoroughly sick.  It wasn't so much the taste that had made Odd gag, but the idea that he had chewed up jellied animal blood.

When one plate was piled high with eggs, tomatoes, and mushrooms the boy grabbed a second plate.  Unaware of the curious stares Bod grabbed half a dozen bangers and enough mash to serve a small family.  

What is that pointy thing I keep smelling, Bod wondered.  He looked about the cart but couldn't locate the source.  Disappointed that he was missing something Bod plunked down in a booth and began his feast. 

Smacking his lips, eating fast as if afraid someone would steal the plate away,Bod couldn't help but make little noises of delight with each bite.


But as he ate, there was one thing that bothered him.  What was the pointy thing and where could he get it?

 My apologies to Neil Gaiman.  He wrote a wonderful story "The Graveyard Book" which Jeremiah and I listened to in the car at least 6 or 7 times.

As Jeremiah is away for the month, I promised him that I would write little stories for him to read each night.  I decided that the story of Bod's journey outside of the graveyard needs to be told. 

So while it cannot compare to the writing of the fantastic Mr. Gaiman, I hope that I picked up some of his voice.

And thank you to Jenny Lawson who introduced me to him.