May 25, 2010

Oh Hello Middle School

This morning on the way to work, I heard We Will Rock You, which took me (kicking and screaming, if you know me at all) back to 7th grade.

Middle school was an evil, dark time for me. But one of the realizations I came to this morning was that there was one truly positive part of those (blessedly few) years -- music. When everything else in my life was confusing and cruel, I found true love with pop music and discovered my bad girl side during my earliest forays into rock. My parents were fans of neither, and I wasn't allowed to listen to the radio (elevator music stations do not count) until I was in 11th grade.  Which meant that at age 12/13, any time I was left alone in the house for five minutes, I had the radio tuned to something good while listening for the sound of the garage door going up.

I discovered, sliding around on the linoleum in my socks, that music soothed the aches and pains of growing up. Feels Like the First Time and You Make Loving Fun conjured desires to know what first time love felt like at all, and I Just Want to be Your Everything described perfectly how I felt about that cute guy in PE who never, ever noticed I was alive. I danced in the kitchen to Knowing Me, Knowing You and More Than a Feeling, and sang along to What's Your Name while wondering what it took to be the girl who inspired those lyrics. Music helped me feel connected, during a time nothing else did.

As I drummed on the steering wheel this morning to the sound of Freddy Mercury, I thanked him for giving me that lovely memory of participation as he stomp-stomp-clapped his way across the late seventies, while I stomped along with him.

May 1, 2010

Ding Dong

Some people describe setbacks and rejections as opportunities.

These people are annoying as hell, and I refuse to be one of them.

Why? Because rejection is ass. A rejection makes us question something we were proud of doing, being, or participating in - or wanting to, desperately - minutes before.

You apply for a job you're sure you can do well, and hope you'll get the chance to prove it - until you get a no. You apply to the college of your choice, ready and willing to become a proud Tiger or Cowboy or Acorn or whatever - until you get a no. You write a story, a poem, a childrens' book, a novel, and submit it to an agent or editor, with dreams of people reading it - until you get a no. If you're like me, you start to wonder if there's such a thing for you as ever getting a job, ever getting into a school, or ever getting published.

Does God open a window when he closes a door? Who thinks up this shit? Because I don't know about you, but I prefer to do my coming and going through a door. (Are we trying to get in or out in that scenario? If there's a fire in the house and you can't get out through the door, then hell yeah, a window will do. But if you're trying to get in and the door doesn't open, and you find yourself saying, "Hey, look - there's an open window. I'll just go in that way," then you're likely to find yourself staring down the barrel of a .45.)

I got another no this week, and for the past two days, I've questioned whether I'm good enough to ever be what I want to be. This rejection is not an opportunity, and it is a failure. (Didn't think I'd say that? Well, I said it.) So I spent a couple of days trying to decide if I should (a) give the whole thing up as hopeless, or (b) stubbornly continue to fail because I refuse to take no for an answer.

But this morning, I realized that I don't believe in destiny. I am not my past failures, or the past failures of others. I can learn from my mistakes. And I can change my plans, my direction, and if need be, my desire to write in a specific genre.

Hearing no doesn't mean there isn't a yes out there, somewhere. I've just got to find the right doorbell to ring, because I'm sure as hell not trying to go through any damned window.