When did you know you were grown up? Are you grown up? Do you have a set of balls? A set like these ball-point balls below?
I found this set of cockandballs at my local cafe. It’s a twenty minute walk from my house, or a five minute drive. Four if you speed.
Deep in conversation was I with my new writing friend Carmelita* who incidentally, owns a tiny wide-faced black pug. Pugsy* and Nyla met last night at the Howl-o-ween dog costume parade. I think they are going to be fast friends. At least I hope to force Nyla into a canine friendship come hell or high water. Unfortunately we got no good photos of Niles as a bee or Pugsy Peacock, or the bulldog dressed as a harem girl, or the grand prize-winning shih tzu elephant or the disco chihuahua, because I hired the kids to photograph the event and all we got were thumbs and flash spots. C’est la vie.
Also, we got there late due to the kids’ conflicting piano lessons, so we didn’t get a chance to enter the costume contest, something that provoked Spike to repeat, We could’ve won! every two minutes and then pour a cup of cold water into my lap, which he says was an accident. I screamed at him, he cried, the woman sitting next to me gave me a dirty look, and at the end of the night I vowed to take the contest seriously next year, because I like to win. I’d love for Nyla to go as Gaga, or a bellhop but would consider Peaches’s desire for her to be a mermaid or a princess. Will be thinking hard about it and scouring the sales post H-ween.
So. Deep in conversation at Delancey Bagels was I with Carmelita. She is the kind of fast friend who laughs at my jokes and buys my books and reads my blogs, but she’s smart and funny and quick herself so it’s an even bigger ego boost—my inner needy narcissist’s favorite type of gal. No pressure! Just sayin’. Just keeping it real. That’s how I do.
It took maybe ten minutes of blathering on about myself before I realized that this tiny dicky graffiti was hovering just inches from my face, begging me to notice its scribbled liveliness. Wish I could have gotten a less blurry photo but at least it came out at all. Ahem, kids.
The point is that I broke through a barrier this week. I grew a set of balls.
I taught my first writing workshop. I planned for weeks. I came up with writing prompts, fiction and memoir elements to discuss, and I Xeroxed hand-outs. I lectured, scheduled and surmised. I let them know when it was time for a fifteen minute break and told them where the closest Starbucks was.
My students, they TOOK NOTES on what I said. I looked up from my notes, saw them scribbling, felt compelled to shout TITTIES! (but didn’t). It was heady, exciting. Exhausting. I collected checks and cash. Surreal.
And somewhere in the middle, I realized that all the work I did to make that one three-hour class a success would have to be repeated five more times, and then more if this thing takes off. And then I realized that it was fine with me, that my mind was spinning after class with what to do for the second meeting.
My students are jewels, wonderful spirits and writers all. I feel blessed and lucky to have them, and finally like the adult I always craved to be, after YEARS of being the girl—THAT GIRL—who cried in the bathroom at every one of her very low responsibility jobs over the past what—twenty years?
Of course I didn’t give a shit about any of those jobs, not the way I give a shit about writing and being a writer. What I cared about was how people perceived me. I wanted everyone to think I was all that and a bag of barbecue chips. Now I just want to supplement my family’s income so we can eat out and vacation without having to wring our hands in fear for our bank account. And I want to do it using my skill-set—writing. And gosh darn it, I did it.
It’s almost agitating, teeth-grindingly uncomfortable to finally get to a place I always wanted to go. I fear for my self-esteem—that it will get hijacked, and that everything I worked so hard for will disintegrate under a vinegary salad of mental self-harm. But apparently that’s normal. It’s an adjustment period. And I always have my magic pills.
I remind myself that I was once in this exact spot, when I started dating Bryan. When we fell in love after years of my yearning for assholes and being alone and feeling like everyone knew something I didn’t.
Here’s what I know now. Everyone gets insecure. Everyone feels like a fraud sometimes—everyone who’s sensitive, honest and self-analytical, anyway. And people who live their dreams know they have to push forward anyway, that fear is just fear and the thrill of following your bliss is a reward in itself. The bigger fear is not to try.
At 43, life is too damn short to believe the naysayer inside. I imagine he has the tiniest balls.