Monday, February 27, 2017

The Cold Hard Ugly Truth

Well, hello to you who are still with me. I can't believe it's been so long since I've been here. Yes, I did finally finish the book I'd been working on last fall. Eleven days ago--the day before Valentine's Day. And I was worried I wouldn't finish before Thanksgiving.

For those of you who are wondering, yes, my mother finally received her diagnosis--it is Alzheimers. Mild to moderate leaning more toward moderate heading into severe. Needless to say, it's been a long winter.

I realize it won't get any easier, and I've learned to take one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time because I can't really do anything else. I've had fights with my father, with God, and myself, because I don't really understand why I've been saddled with this responsibility on top of everything else I have to bear. But what am I going to do? Walk away? It would be soooo easy. Just pack it up and head back to Rhode Island. But you and I know I won't do that. I'm a good daughter.

Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

 My Monster
Monster, (who's 12 now and playing every sport imaginable -- she went from just volleyball, to basketball, now field hockey, track starts tomorrow, and softball in April) Monster and I were having a conversation about her so-called friends. You know, those little witches in middle school who just have to make fun of everyone and everything. She's been having a problem because she's not hip. Okay, what's the word these days--with it? Groovy? I have no idea. They think she's not cool enough because she doesn't have the right shoes, the right phone, the right sports equipment, the right mom. I'm doing the best I can, but I can't give her everything she wants.

Anyway, the other night the conversation turned ugly and I lost it. Monster was complaining about these girls and how they're so petty and back-stabbing and just fucking nasty. To HER! My daughter! My perfect, beautiful, sweet, athletic, smart, funny kid. Short of slapping every single one of them across the face, and getting kicked out of school, I told her, "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum."

Don't let the bastards grind you down.*

She looked at me with "the face". You know the one. Like I was from Alpha Centauri. I said, "Hey, if you think about it, five years from now, these people won't matter. Ten years from now, you won't even remember half of them. Twenty years from now they'll be a distant memory, like a movie you watched when you were little. Just keep on doing what you're doing, get good grades, have fun playing your sports, and take the laundry downstairs." I got the big sigh in return. But like the good girl SHE is, she took the laundry downstairs. She won't think about what I said now, but she'll remember it when the shit really hits the fan.

But isn't that what it's all about in this rat race? Just do what you gotta' do to keep your nose clean, your head on straight, and make it until retirement. Hah! I know there's more to life than just that. Every day when I take my mother's dog out to the back forty, I see the deer crossing through the meadow, the geese making their flight to wherever they're going, the robins are back, the daffodils are up. I see the simplicity in what God gave us and I try, try so very hard to keep from losing it. Some days it works. Others not so much but what are you going to do?

I suppose I could cry and lament and gnash my teeth and just make my friends miserable with the poor-poor-pitiful me scenario. But why bother? They don't really care. Honestly, they're just glad they're not living my life. You know how I know that? One of them told me. She said, "I don't know how you keep it together. I know I couldn't do it. I'm glad I don't have to." Yeah, we don't talk much anymore.

The Cold Hard Ugly Truth

Yup, this is my blog now. My writing blog, where I'm supposed to dish on all things creative. How I'm supposed to wow you with fabulous bits of information to help you in your writing endeavors. This is a far cry from when I started out. But hey, life's messy.

So, here's my advice for today (God knows I might not be back for another six months)--Just keep on trucking. Do what you gotta' do to get through the day. If you only write 50 words, so be it. If you open your word.doc and stare at it for a half hour, then close it up again, so be it. If one Saturday, you manage 2500 words and on Monday realize they're all crap, so be it. Just keep working at your craft.

And I know my last blog post said almost the exact same thing, but it's true and bears repeating. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Or fingers to keyboard and one day you'll actually write The End. It was a long hard winter, but I finally finished the damn book. I took a week off to clean my house and then started on the next one.

Why? Because I'm a writer and writers tell stories. That's my job. It's what I do. It's who I am. And no one will keep me from doing the thing that I love. Not God, not my mother or the damn disease that's eating her soul, not anyone.

If I can get through it, so can you. I told you all this just in case you wonder why you're writing--when you get another rejection, when your sales take a dive, when life slings crap in your direction and you're too overwhelmed to duck. Just remember Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. And me stuck in the life that I don't think I deserve.

Don't let the bastards grind you down.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2017

* Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale


Bish Denham said...

I'm still here, Anne. And you are such a trooper. Indeed, all any of us can do is keep on going, and your advice is the best there is.

Tell Monster for me, that she is beautiful. I, who was not nearly so lovely when I was her age, realized if I wasn't liked because of how I looked, then those people were not worth my time. Your words to her are absolutely true. My mother used to say, "Don't let the bastards pee on your bound posts." Perhaps you remember... Bound Post Publishing.

Hugs to you both. Keep up the good work.

You ha

Stacy McKitrick said...

Saw your blog post on my side bar and realized it had been awhile since I've seen it, so of course I clicked on it first. Sorry to hear about your mother. Life is messy, indeed. All we can do it live through it, huh? Oh, and keep writing. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Bish -- Thanks for always thinking of me. I get your cards, I say I'm going to send an email and then something happens. I think about you often and wish it was 5 years ago when we were still newbies. I do remember Bound Post Publishing. Thanks for sticking with me.

Stacy -- Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, life is messy, indeed. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, or so they tell me. Yes, keep writing. It's the only thing that keeps me sane these days.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You're a strong person and I'm sure your daughter has learned from your example. Middle school sucks but it passes. Praying for you and your family.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Poor Monster. That's a hard time. (don't tell her about high school when it gets even worse)

Anne Gallagher said...

Susan -- Thanks for your prayers. I'm glad I'm seemingly strong for her, but there are days when I just feel like giving up. I think that's why I hate housework. It's my only act of rebellion. lol

Mac -- Yeah, high school. I can't wait. Luckily, sports are her outlet so I'm hoping she keeps her head on straight. Wake Forest is just up the street from the house, so maybe that will give her incentive.

dolorah said...

Very apt: don't let the bastards grind you down!

And I'm sure, when you were Monster's age, you were every bit as pig-headed as she is now, lol. She gets it somewhere, yeah?!

Yeah, you do the best you can as a parent, give all the right advice. Even though it seems like she cannot hear it now, I can tell you from the experience of raising 5 kids that they are listening somewhere in the back of their mind. Telling her she is listening to the wrong clique is the right things to say. You are likely just reinforcing what she already knows, but cannot quite admit. She is a kid. Sometimes you have to remind yourself of that, and remember what you were like as a kid too.

And, just keep smiling, and know that Rhode Island awaits someday.

AS for your mother; terribly sorry this has befallen her. I know you will do the best you can, for as long as you can. Eventually she will require professional, full time monitoring and that will be hard for you. But I know you Anne; you are a good daughter, and you will get through this. You are awesome, and so is your Monster. I can tell you two love each other, and can see how much you love your mother.

Good luck Anne; see you when we see you :)

Ted Cross said...

Sorry I so rarely comment. I like to lurk unless a particular post hits on a subject dear to me. I'm rarely posting to my blog anymore either, though for me it's mostly about giving in and getting on Facebook, so I end up posting most new thoughts there. I'm at the stage where both of my kids are teens, so I sure feel for the common struggle. It is frustrating to see bright kids focus such importance on what their peers think when we all know how little it matters in the grand scheme.