2018

If only I could translate sarcasm and cynicism into an active writing career.

… … …

The end of the year means a lot to me. I don’t find it as flippant and eye-roll inducing as a lot of people do. It means more to me than astrology and religion and a bunch of other if’s, and’s, or buts.

I can look back on a year and tell you how I felt with detail and emphasis. It’s just enough time for me to take a lesson, maybe one that I will ultimately ignore, and mold into something real. Looking back on 2017 feels different than looking back on 2016, than looking back on 2015, and so on. I find enough value in it to make sure that I write something, anything, on New Year’s Eve. There hasn’t been much to stop that from happening in the past 7 or 8 years.

This year was a lot of…nothing. Alabama was a mistake but one that I needed to make in order to move forward. This year started with a car accident and ended with a death. It started with a fresh start and ended right back where I was running from. But it did start. And it did end. And I’m not dead.

I made a lot of money this year. A whole lot. I think I made more money this year than I’ve ever made in my life (in terms of working – my Dad’s death obviously reaped me more money but that was lost as quickly as his life). I earned. I worked so hard sometimes that I wouldn’t sleep (or eat) for days at a time.

This year, I had two sexual partners. One that I’ve known for almost ten years and one that I’d only known a couple of weeks. This year I kind of lost the feeling that love gave me, the feeling that made me want to keep going back to it over and over. The feeling that made me deal with situations and attitudes I didn’t like.

The excuses seemed to fall from existence this year. The fear was immense. The desire to withdraw from humanity and become someone else, to live in my own head until my body gave up, that intensified. I’m going into 2018 understanding that I want to escape reality some way,  some how. Even if it’s just by doing well as a writer, moving somewhere remote, and dying in the woods of old age and romanticism.

I understand that my depression makes things up a lot. It tells me things that aren’t true. It takes things from me, things that help me cope: music, art, movies, love, lust, everything. But it can’t take my stories, and it can’t take my day dreams, and I understand that now. My fear of my writing dwindling and dying out have always been unfounded.

Writing will always be there for me. My characters will always be there for me. And so, I’ll take better care of them this year.

 

I don’t know. I go into 2018 as Shaquana Amanda Briggs, Trey Briggs, Treys Ludlow. I go into 2018 as the mother of Rajesh and Urijah. The sister of Tairina, Derrick, and Keith. The daughter of Denise Briggs. I go into 2018 as the on again, off again girlfriend of Wolf. I go into 2018 as a lot of old things, and also a lot of new.

 

I look forward to all the success, all the failure,  all the tears, all the fear, all the love, all the lust, all the writing and fantasies that 2018 will bring. I love being me. I love myself and all that I can endure.

I go into this year as a monster that I most definitely created, and I fucking love it.

Entitled to It

Is it my duty in life to feel something?

… … …

Nowadays, I’m often surprised when I get more than a little excited. It’s jarring. It feels like I’ve grown immune to these types of feelings, to truly experiencing anything other than survival emotions and extremes. You’re depressed. You’re euphoric. You’re engulfed in love.

You’re dying.

It was getting to the point where any feeling other than complete and utter panic was nonexistent. So it is really surprising when something like an episode of a show I like, a conversation, a thought, a game, a smile, when those things make me FEEL. They make me feel small snatches of something and I’m thrown off balance. Really, anything other than one terrible extreme after the other feels alien.

But I don’t mind being able to enjoy amazing stories again (hello Game of Thrones, Hi Man Seeking Woman, what’s good West World, nice hat you got there Stranger Things). I don’t mind reading great stories and loving characters (you’re awesome Saga, great reading The Good House, let’s chat again Youth in Revolt). Even rereading things I read while I was deep underwater is a treat.

There is so much that you lose in depression. In giving in to what other people think is right for everyone. I found myself in this big house in Alabama, in these rooms that I’m decorating slowly and awkwardly. I find myself in the clippings from extra books I have, from the second copies I purchased by accident. I live in dark, brooding paintings of squid or men with tentacles for faces.

These little things, they make up for so much lost time. Rajesh talks and I can truly laugh. I can stand with him in the kitchen and tell him stories about my childhood, show him a tour of bookshelves and explain why I like these books, encourage him to collect things. Urijah jumps in the bed with me in the morning and I tell him about the day we’ll have while we stare at the windows, at the ceiling, at the walls. We laugh and cuddle and then I carry him to the bathroom for his morning pee, and I open the door to his playroom so he can start his own adventures.

I can live like this. And I honestly didn’t expect this to turn out this way. I expected this war with my own self to be the great war of my life, the war I would agony over into old age. Maybe the war I would lose way before then.

I like these little feelings, these variations of feelings. This life.

 

The Boy Chin Wonder

A bit jumbled, a bit thick…
… … …
Rajesh and I just had the longest, most serious conversation we’ve ever had. We talked about his art. We talked about death. We talked about what happens if I die, what happens to Urijah, what I would want for a funeral, what I want for his future.
 
We talked about understanding rejection and not being one of those crazed assholes that kills women/others when they’re rejected/fired/hurt. We talked about how ups and downs are what makes life LIFE. I gave him scenarios where he was being rejected and asked him what he would do. For every one he just said, ‘walk away or leave them alone’.
We talked about the 11 months I was pregnant with him, how I planned him with his Dad, how I cried because I wanted to see him so bad. We talked about how I watched Baby Shows day in and out, how excited I was. Singing and listening to his heartbeat and just really READY to see him.
 
We talked about how my Dad died and what type of person he was. He was horrified – he said it sounded like a painful and sad way to die. I agreed. I showed him pictures of my Dad, read the part of his obituary that I wrote. I showed him every photo I have of my Dad and all the stories about him. I told him stories about his grandmother, his great grandmother, his aunt and uncles.
 
We talked about Urijah. What Rajesh thought about Autism. What he thought about home-schooling. He admitted that the kids in his school treated the special ed children differently, harshly, and he was glad Urijah was home-schooled. I explained Urijah’s evaluations, what Urijah could and couldn’t do. We discussed the 4 year old autistic boy whose mother died and then he was found dead from starvation, having wrapped himself around his mother’s body and stayed there until he died, too. He said, as he’s said before, that the best feeling in the world is seeing Urijah happy. He said he would take care of him if anything ever happened to me, no matter what anyone else did or thought.
 
We talked about my car accident. How Tairina was 10 when my dad died, and that really scared him because he was 10, too. He told me his fears about the kind of jobs his dad worked (warehouse). He said my car accident scared him, and I gave him every single detail. The crumpled car and the oil in the road, the dust from the airbags. The anger. The shrieking and the police and everything. We talked about how I wanted to be cremated if anything happened to me, and he couldn’t stop laughing when I told him to take my ashes and throw them in the trash in front of the crematory. I told him it doesn’t matter when I’m dead – don’t be sad, just remember laughing with me.
 
He said, very finally, that he would take care of the house he knew I would have left him ‘by then’ (as in very far off) and he would live in it with Urijah. We made up a story about a key I would leave for him via a lawyer, and a treasure hunt for him and Urijah in the woods, only to find a box full of peanuts. I promised I would leave him all my unpublished stories when I go.
 
We both agreed that you can’t live your whole life afraid of dying.
 
I told him about all the pain he’ll feel. That, no matter what, someone would think he was terrible. One day, someone he loved wouldn’t love him back. And vice versa. Someday, something he wanted with all his being wouldn’t happen, and he had to find a way to keep going anyway. He agreed, and he agreed that without all those emotions you’re pretty much dead.
 
We talked about our appearance. I told him I don’t really worry about my appearance unless I’m dating someone, and not even really then. I try, but I just don’t care how I look. I just don’t. And he said he feels the same – that he feels like he’s fine and it doesn’t really bother him if other people don’t. I told him about how awkward I have been in the past, how unwanted I’ve felt, and how I still managed to be awesome. He agreed.
 
We talked about what Rajesh thought about school, about bullies, about expectations. We talked about girls, about boys, about his freedom to like either (when you get older and discover who you are, don’t let anyone make you feel bad for being you). We agreed that you have to give people space if they don’t like you.
 
We talked about my being weird. About his being weird as well, about people reacting negatively to it. My wishing I was home-schooled (and him chiming in to say he wishes he could be home-schooled as well). We talked about feeling like outcasts. About not feeling bad about that – about actually feeling pretty cool. He said he thinks he’s awesome, and he thinks I’m the coolest, funniest person on the planet – and he’s proud to be like me.
 
Shit, we even talked about my relationship with his Dad. We talked about it in comparison to the relationship with my Mom and Dad, how they treated each other. We talked about why his Dad and I broke up. We talked about the year I was homeless, when I had to let him stay with his Dad. I explained why I didn’t take him back, how it was just me and he would’ve been lonely. How he had a huge family with his Dad. And I almost cried when he really nodded, really said, ‘Yeah, I think you made the right decision but I bet it really hurt. But you did the right thing and I was never mad at you.’ Oh man, I really just wanted to cry because I have felt nothing but guilt for that for so long and to hear my own son say that is just magic.
 
We talked about my writing. About the difference between self publishing and traditional publishing. I explained what I do for my day job and how it will prepare me to market my own books (we both agreed I should self publish). I pitched my novel to him and he listened, chiming in with ideas and questions, and he said it was a ‘strong idea, I am really excited about that’ and then he made a story for me to critique.
 
We sat for hours and just talked and understood each other. I gave him a new sketchbook to write/draw his new story in and my fancy art set I’ve never used. It was hard to say goodnight, and he kept lingering and adding more to the conversation.
 
Rajesh is 10. He is as smart and thoughtful as I was at 10. He is as withdrawn and eager for space as I was and am. Except he accepts himself for it. Though, I didn’t lose that until I was 11 or 12. I want to protect this part of him with my entire being.
 
We went on and on and on.
 
Best moment of my life. Hands down.