*~*~*~*Spotlight on writermama12!!!*~*~*~*
Melany, My writing genre and topic preferences change as I change, almost seasonally. I just finished my master's degree in Transformative Language Arts in which my thesis revolved around a memoir in prose fragments I wrote about my mother and becoming a mother myself. But I love poetry! Poetry is really my life-long passion. I got my undergrad degree in poetry and creative non-fiction writing, so I guess I kind of go back and forth between those genres the most. I also like short fiction stories but fiction is harder for me.
As for recent topics, beside writing about my emotionally ambiguous and chaotic relationship with my mother, I also have been writing about my own mothering moments, about what I see, hear, and experience outside in the woods and inside of myself. I like to write about difficult relationships between people, not necessarily real people, but usually metaphorically about me.
I enjoy reading poet Mary Oliver, but a few of my favorite poets are Sharon Olds (writes a lot about "real" mothering), Anne Sexton, Robert Hass, and lately Anne Carson who is a highly intellectual and intuitive poet. Non-fiction writers I adore are Louise Erdrich and Joan Didion among many others.
Jodie, How I met and came to marry my DH is a story I will write someday!
The short story is that we met in college through mutual friends my junior year. We "work" by laying everything out on the table. Our wedding rings are made of wood and on the inside is the acronym W.I.T.F. (walking into the fire) which means we will go through the hardest parts of life together, baring our innermost secrets in order to find truth and beauty in companionship and to have a companion worth our trust. We are totally honest and open about our opinions and thoughts and biases...we consult each other about everything. We are best friends and truly enjoy each other's company over everyone else. We also have a long and complicated history that informs our decisions. We are equals and push each other to be better selves.
The longer story for those who are interested in the complicated history of how we eventually married is below:
We met in college. He was a part of a small college within the larger university I was attending in California. His college was unique in that the students got to create their own major, were not graded but received narrative evaluations, and were basically present-day hippie "creative geniuses". I was in the writing program and so most of my friends were also a part of that small college. I met him through some poet and artist friends of mine. He was wicked smart, studying philosophy and literature, and was the hippiest of them all. He'd walk around barefoot and was called "Acid-Tim" but had kicked drugs before I met him. That is one of the reasons we connected too. I had kicked a serious drug addiction when I was seventeen. We both viewed the other as courageous and smart and as survivors. Anyway, I was not in the dating game as I was in the process of getting a divorce from my first husband and was the single mother of an 18mo. I had gotten married and had the baby my second year in college (when I was 19) to someone who never went to college, had no real passion other than spending my family's money and drinking, and was basically a total loser who knew how to manipulate his way into my life and control it.
Anyway, about 6 mo after I'd been on my own Tim asked me to go on a hike and picnic in the desert. Then we went to a big music festival a week later for my birthday. I wasn't sure I wanted to begin anything new as I was enjoying my freedom from the controlling jerk, but I'll tell you what...The day after the festival Tim got on a plane to backpack through Ireland on his own and I cried when he left. I began to write to him everyday in a journal, letters I couldn't send to him, and I gave him that journal when he returned. He also sent me postcards with poems on them that I still have in a box. I kind of just knew I could love him early on. He was so like me. Romantic. Serious. Stubborn. Creative and witty. Adventurous. We dated all through the rest of college and he moved in with me and my son after college and got a job as a railroad conductor for the Union Pacific railroad to help support the family (it paid well but he was on call at all hours) and I was a drug rehab counselor (which paid $10/hr). Our relationship was rocky because of the financial inequity and my dependence upon him. Then he got in a bad train wreck. He should have died but didn't and came back with PTSD and a bad drinking problem. We couldn't live together anymore so he moved back to CT with his father and we stopped speaking. I was a single mother again and struggling through the hardest part of my life thus far. Here is where I learned how to take care of myself and be a grown-up.
I began substitute teaching, working at a coffee shop, doing yard work, writing resumes, and teaching reading on the weekends for a private company. Eight months later, Tim started writing me letters and poems again. He quit drinking, went to therapy for his PTSD, and wanted to take advantage of his second chance at life. He told me the best possible life he could envision included me in it. We talked and write to each other for six months and then I took a temporary job teaching reading through the fall in New York. I left my son with my mother. He drove up to upstate New York to see me (for the first time in over a year) and we spontaneously took off on a weekend trip to Niagara Falls. In the freezing fall rain, on an island, I told him to ask me and he proposed although it was unplanned. No rings. Nothing fancy. Soaking wet and shivering under a golden tree. I was so in love with him I didn't care about HOW it would work.
He had received a large settlement from the railroad (because of the wreck) and had the money to move my son and I out to New England the following summer. Against all odds, we have managed to make our family work. It is a lovely, simple, quiet, fulfilling life. I am so lucky.
Jodie, my DS1 is going to be 12 yo next month. DS2 is going to be 2 yo in April.
DS1 is a real character, dramatic, loud, active, sometimes annoying, and so so very charismatic. A cool kid! He is convicted and strong-willed and smart. He is a fabulous writer. He makes friends with every adult in town but has a hard time making friends with children his own age. He loves loves loves his little brother and plays with him ALL. THE.TIME.
DS2 is more calm, observant, quiet. He doesn't demand everyone's attention all the time and is a sweet-natured, snuggly boy. He shares, is kind, and avoids conflict with children. He loves his big brother and tries to copy everything he does!
Oh, hands down I love New England!! I grew very tired of the constant climate, constant smog, and constant foliage of SoCal. It is either really hot or rainy and in between is nice but when you live there, you take it for granted. Most people I know who are still there don't spend time out-of-doors at all except to wash their cars or have a yard sale. All the foliage is palm trees (overgrown weeds) and saplings on crutches and rose bushes, which here add spice but there are unnoticeable within the tightly professionally manicured front yards. I am talking mainly about the Inland Empire which lies about 45 minutes East of LA and where I lived for most of my life.
Jodie, I really enjoy reading and try to have at least one book going all the time. I also got back into knitting once I finished my thesis but my projects are all on hold: one needle broke, one dropped several stitches and I don't have a crochet hook, and the other I can't afford the rest of the yarn yet. Other than that, in the spring and summer I garden and I am learning to grow veggies. Also my family spends a lot of time outside hiking and camping when the weather is nice. I have been really getting into cooking and baking too over the past two years!
w/littlelungs, DS1 is excited about the baby coming, which surprised me. But I guess he figures the more little kids around the better for him. He loves playing and horsing around. For example, one of his favorite games to play with DS2 is to fly him around the house on a "spacecraft" which could be a stool turned upside down or a plastic storage bin lid...I am really hopeful about having two close in age. I did it intentionally. I wanted DS2 to have an ally growing up taht he could depend on and even if they end up not talking much through adolescence, they will know they are not alone in the house. I could have used an ally in my house, and my DH has a little brother (two and a half years younger) that is one of his best friends now. They do a lot together. So, yeah, we are crossing our fingers that they become friends.
cocoa, this is a hard one for me right now. Dh and I never really planned to have any certain number of kids. WE also are aware of the over-population of our planet and how that taxes the resources here. But since having DS2 together, it is just so lovely and fulfilling that I began daydreaming of one more. Maybe. I would LOVE to mother a daughter. Dh might be game but we are going to see what baby Rowan's personality is like and if he could adjust to sharing mommy as well as I think DS2 will.
Jodie, You know what? I Cannot exactly put my finger on it. I was seventeen and hollow. I looked like a skeleton and couldn't eat. In addition to my methamphetamine addiction I also had an eating disorder (they were linked for me) and even though I was pencil thin, I felt I looked very fat. I had been managing this drug use for years (since 13 yo) getting decent grades and keeping a job for over a year. But something changed and the addiction took control of my life. I was totally out of my mind toward the end, hallucinating from no sleep and no food. I was very close to overdosing any day. Then, one night, my mother decided to interfere. She had always left me alone to my business before that. In denial of truth. But one night she refused to take my excuses for not opening my bedroom door and I chose to open it, and to give her all of my drugs and tools. I wanted her to help me stop. It was that fast. I didn't want that life any more. I felt close to death. I wanted to survive. And she did help me. I didn't have to go to school anymore and she didnt' let any of my friends see me. I went to a drug rehab far away for several months and then off to a wilderness survival training for an entire summer. After that a boarding school across the US. I lost contact with all of my old friends which is exactly what I needed. I also realized that I had a gift for writing and singing and that I could be happy all by myself. I have been sober since then. Fifteen years.
sunshine, I don't know if I don't have any or if I am just too tired to think of one (I have reflux and cannot sleep). It would be nicer to think I don't have any regrets. Every time I come up with a regret, I also know that something essential came out of it. For example, I regret getting pregnant when I was 19 and marrying that awful person. I regret that it was him. I have to deal with his anger and issues for a long time (in corresponding about my son) and worst of all he is a bad father when he does see DS1. He bullies him, belittles and curses me, and manipulates DS1 into trying to do anything to please his dad. He is truly atrocious and still lives with his mother after two other children and a third divorce. So I guess HE is my regret. But out of such a massive mistake came this wonderful, loving, talented human being that I couldn't live without. So there you go.
It's interesting to me that we've had so many stories in the spotlight threads of people overcoming addictions and eating disorders of various sorts. You are all some strong mamas for getting through it and taking care of yourself!!
writermama, what are your favorite things to cook and bake right now, since you said you've gotten really into it recently?
You described your husband as "the hippiest" of his college group. Would you still consider yourselves hippies? What's one of the hippiest things you do?
I love your description of cuddling a newborn...