Thursday, September 23, 2010


It's the Eve of Destruction, by which I mean my son has a huge homework assignment due tomorrow .. and he has barely started. It's past his bedtime and he probably has a couple hours of work to do. He couldn't fall asleep until after midnight last night and had to wake up early.

One of us is tired and cranky about the situation. And it is not him.

I am wondering if he is learning anything while I bail him out and hold his hand through this assignment. Probably. He's probably learning things like ...

"If I wait long enough, Mom will do my homework for me!"
"Gosh, Mom really does get cranky in the evenings..."

My oldest is in an accelerated learning program this year and the learning curve is steep for both of us. I just hope we learn the right kinds of lessons. And soon.

Friday, September 17, 2010

In Which I Am Profoundly and Irreversibly Screwed Up

It all started several years back. It had been one of those days and I vented my frustration the way I normally did: blogging it out. I took pride in the honesty and rawness of my blog. True Confessions. That summed it up.

Then it happened. One of my neighbors posted on her own blog, ranting about people who are weak and can't handle their emotions and ... I don't remember the details but it was clear she was talking about me. The things she said could not be coincidental. She seemed to avoid me at church from then on and when we talked, she didn't look me in the eyes anymore.

I wanted to scream: "Just because you're so strong doesn't mean everybody in the world can be, too! You should be grateful for the strength you have instead of ridiculing those of us who are depressed and unhappy and profoundly screwed up!"

But I didn't. Because I was completely traumatized by the fact that she was probably right. I should be stronger. I shouldn't complain. I should buck up, young camper, and stop being negative about life. But I was lost, oh so lost, at that point in my life.

One of my friends recently said, "Wow, you really put it all out there on your blog." My reply was: no, no I don't. I don't post anything that would embarrass or harm those I care for. And the things in my life that matter the most are locked away so deeply inside that nobody knows about them, not one soul.

Years passed. The anxiety increased over how I was presenting myself to the world. Is this an accurate representation of who I am? Do I present a fair view of my life? Yes. No. I don't know.

I resolved to stop whining and being negative and cut the snark in half. This is slightly unfortunate because the original readers of this blog enjoyed the snark. They liked how I made them laugh and how they could say, "Yeah, that's exactly what I think ... but I'd never actually say it." I was their Mormon Housewife Sitdown Comedian of sorts.

But that had to stop. The snark was unhealthy. It was negative. And really, I'm actually a relatively happy and optimistic person deep down. I hate negativity. The snark was my way of flushing the negativity out of my system so I could return to the happy-go-lucky Juliana. (As my friend Josh once said, "You're like the drunk chick that everyone wants to hang out with ... except you never drink." That's me, all right. Idiotically cheerful and clueless. At least that's the social part of me. When I'm left alone with my thoughts, I am another beast altogether, which is why I enjoy socializing so much.)

I still stand by my reduction of sarcasm here on the blog because I'm a very kind person and mocking human frailty just doesn't sit right with me. But there were other things that went by the roadside, foremost the honesty, little by little. I was freaked out about all the various people reading this blog: family, friends, neighbors, people from high school that I haven't seen in almost 15 years, ecclesiastical leaders, professional connections, that random guy from Mormon Bachelor Pad--how in the world did he end up here?

Holy moley! How could I write anything that would please all those varied connections? Somebody was bound to be bored or confused or embarrassed on my behalf. So I wrote less and less often. I hardly wrote at all during my pregnancy because I just didn't have a lot of upbeat, cheerful things to say and I didn't want to be accused of ingratitude.

I miss my blog. I'm trying to write a novel right now and it's just not satisfying to me like blogging is. This, to me, is so much more creative for some reason. No rules. No "you can't do that in that genre." No worries of whether or not an editor will agree with my stylistic decisions. Just my voice and my life, through the lenses of my creativity.

The solution is obvious: stop worrying about what everybody else thinks, Juliana! Just be yourself! You're great just the way you are! Be true to who you are, deep down inside, or you'll never be happy!

The problem is, I don't actually like being laughed at. Ridiculed. Looked down on. And sometimes, as important as it is to "be yourself," life is more complicated than that. Other people's opinions matter, and if you make a bad impression, you miss out on cool things. You don't get invited. You are overlooked. People laugh you off as too socially awkward. And that hurts.

Still, I'm pretty much guaranteed to be a social outcast anyway, so I may as well enjoy myself here. This blog entry is proof of my commitment to be more honest, heaven forbid. I'm not really sure I have the nerve for it. But we'll see what happens. If it doesn't work out, I'll polish up my social networking skills, create a new identity for myself and start a new blog elsewhere while this one gathers dust. Because being honest is not just telling the bad stuff--there are a lot of amazing things about me that I never blog about because I don't want to appear full of myself. This blog is, and will increasingly be, a work in progress. Much like yours truly.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Inner Debate

You call yourself an author?

Yes, yes I do.

What kind of writer are you? The kind that doesn't write?

I furrowed my brow.

She continued mercilessly. Yeah, that's it. An writer that doesn't write.

I write, I muttered angrily.

299 words per week? And every week is the first chapter of some new project? That's not writing. That's just playing around.

She was baiting me and I resisted the temptation to give her a snarky response. Snark is my specialty. She wasn't going to let me off the hook, though, so she pushed me. She reached her arms out and pushed me.

I stumbled.

This is the funny part: the stumble. Because the entire conversation was an inner dialogue with me and my Writing Conscience. It began about 30 minutes ago when I could have sworn I saw Brandon Mull (the NYT bestselling author of the Fablehaven series) dropping off kids at my elementary school. Impossible. Is my brain playing tricks on me? Or is my inner writer demanding attention?

Fine. She had my attention. She started arguing with me. I wanted to go shopping. She wanted to get home immediately to get in some time writing. She won that debate but she knew I'd get distracted with housework or crafting or blogging ... ahem.

So she pushed me. Taunting me with maliciously accurate insults first. Then she reached out her arms and pushed me. Granted, my writing conscience is made of Imaginary Friend (err, enemy?) Vapor and an inner shove should be painless. So why did I stumble?

This is getting ridiculous. Tripped up by my own imagination.

There's a lesson there and I'd love to stick around and learn it, but I gotta go. I have some novels to pen.