Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Growth



My husband stopped sugarcoating his thoughts as they transformed into words. The problem is, he forget to tell me.

Last week, I drove along performing a soliloquy about how I didn't feel like writing because I don't write the way I once did. The honesty for which I was once praised, has gone from my writing. It's a common problem among people who draw material from their lives.

I hold back, worried about my job, our family. My relatives on Facebook. The cats. If I wrote the way I once did, who or what could be hurt? I'm hesitant to write about the kids because now that they're getting older, telling their stories seems like more of a violation of their privacy.

MathMan messed with his phone while I erected my tower of excuses and then, with a single sentence,  brought that tower of bullshit down.

So what you're telling me is that you've grown a conscience.

Ouch. Wow.

I processed that for a moment. (Process isn't a word I use all that much because I'm more react than reflect.) It felt like a blow. A physical blow.

And before I could stop them, tears fell.

That may be the meanest thing you've ever said to me.

A bit of perspective - if you stack that statement up next to all the mean things I've said to MathMan over the last twenty-five years, it's nothing. If you were to create a pie chart of ugly comments exchanged between the two of us, his statement wouldn't even make a big enough sliver to require a fork.

But when you stack it up against all the mean things he's ever actually said aloud to me? It doesn't leave much room in the pie for anything else.

He apologized. I didn't mean it that way. I just meant -----


Don't apologize. It's true. We both know it's true.

Sniff!

This marked the first time he'd ever mentioned that he thought my writing about the family and our relationship was out of line. I chewed over that revelation for the rest of the drive.

What? You didn't think I was going to quit the GIFs so soon, did you?
Far be for me to let go an opportunity to milk a good line. This martyr is all over it. A week later and I still haven't let it go.

Damn it, some cat puked on my conscience.

One sec, let me set my conscience aside so I can help you.

Do these earrings go with this conscience?

Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to grow a conscience?

I don't know if I can go. I have to wash my conscience that night.

Does this conscience make my butt look bigger?

You're standing on my conscience!

Now where did I leave my conscience?

Step aside! Lady with a conscience!

So what do you suppose is the standard gestational period for a conscience?

I may have been late to the conscience party, but don't let me slow you down.

A few more days of this and I'll reel it in. There's no point to taking that joke too far.

Of one thing you can be certain. If he doesn't kill me for being such an unconscionable bore and I do decide to write again, I won't be telling MathMan my pen name.

24 comments:

  1. i am thankful my wife has given me much grace to write whatever i need...that does not mean we dont talk about it...haha...but...its interesting though because we really start to limit ourselves as artists if we dont find the balance of what we can and cant talk about...

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  2. Which is why fiction exists I think :) Take real life, write about it, and then fictionalize it so that no one gets hurt. Then insist it is all made up and hey sometimes it is!

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  3. Damn conscience. Way to break up a good party.

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  4. ...and that's why I've never taken up blogging. I'm not good enough to make the mundane interesting, and not courageous enough to write about the interesting stuff.

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  5. I struggle with the same issue: how much to tell on my blog. I haven't written much the past 2 months because of it. Good luck hauling that conscience around. They get awfully damn heavy sometimes.

    And please let me know your new pen name. I promise I'll keep it to myself.

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  6. Yeah, its a fine line we draw - I know I am not honest. I told T-bone I hoped sunshine and rainbows poured out his ass the other morning when he sniffled about my less than enthusiastic, "bye, love you." blech.

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  7. Does this mean I may as well stop blogging now? I thought it was supposed to be about mutual understanding and general entertainment to the best of our abilities in this overly harsh culture we inhabit. Your thoughts and stories (which I've always been sure were totally fictional) have brought about many a responsive smile.

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  8. If you spent less time talking to your spouse and more time watching Daria, you wouldn't have this problem. Let this be a teachable moment, grasshopper.

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  9. Lisa, I'm sorry. I know we've talked about this before (on facebook). I had the same issue, and only write about my own life or about the dead. Even so, writing about my own life has caused problems, because the circumstances of my youth were directly impacted by parental decisions and one parent is still living. I wish I knew the answer. My kids asked me not to write about them and I don't although I wish I could because they're so funny and talented. I'm sending love and hugs.

    xoxo

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  10. Lisa, this makes me sad. I have always loved the way you write. And I have NEVER thought you exploited your family and friends. EVER. You have always written from the heart. And I will miss that. A lot.

    I suppose I am lucky. My family embraces the fact that I write about them. Especially my father.

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  11. "Do These Earrings Go with My Conscience?" is the perfect title for your memoir. At this point, you have two choices: either explain to your loved ones that talking about them in writing is how you love them, not in spite of your love, and write a book of nonfiction essays ala Sedaris, OR finish a novel. I think your heightened reflection is a normal phase for writers. It doesn't mean you grew a conscience where once there was a barren waste. It means you've found your voice and you can hear yourself talk, all the little voices. That's great news! So make yourself write at least 15 minutes a day, and keep at it, and you'll have finished it in a year or sooner. That voice that gives you pause also gives you the ending to your stories.

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  12. Conscience or not, everyone's story is sooooo important. Facebook and Twitter have proven the human condition is a non-opus.

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  13. I like what Summer said. Having a conscience doesn't mean you don't write. It just means your focus has narrowed.

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  14. I'm calling bullshit. Lisa H. Golden you are full of conscience, have been for as long as I've known you. a perfect mix of sweet and caustic. ...there is also an obligation to writing that is not nothing.

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  15. Yep, you need a new pen name. Just make sure to tell the dirty girls about it so we can follow along.

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  16. Zomg I have missed reading your stuff Lisa! So glad this was the post that I came back to you with!

    After my Maifan-San and I got serious, I had to sort of censor myself online too... which I totally do.

    Mostly.

    ...

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  17. 2 words: Erma Bombeck. She had all the fresh comedy material she needed right there @ home. I think the names were changed to protect the guilty.
    So maybe you fictionalize reality into fantasy.... if there is some big effing deal issue, you can use discretion & decide to *change the topic*.
    Erma sez: When humor goes, there goes civilization.

    If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it.

    Never have more children than you have car windows.

    Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving.
    Love to chat more, but my conscience is ringing!

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  18. I like your conscience just exactly where it is, and where it could be, and where it's probably always going to be. About an hour ago I read this sentence from an interview with Kathryn Harrison. She says, and I quote: "I understand myself to be a writer who people aren't tepid about. People tend to really like my work or find the subjects I choose -- the ones that choose me -- offensive. I like being that writer, not the writer whose work you read and forget. I like to hit a nerve."

    That's you, sister, with humor sprinkled on top.

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  19. Every day that you wake up is another day to learn something new. that is, life doesn't have to be static. Yours isn't. So blogging or writing or whatever may be something you need one day, something you sort of like the other.

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  20. Hmmm. Me too I freak out about comments like this. Thank God my kids can't be bothered with whatever I write, and I guess that's worrying because perhaps I should care. But hell let's carry on with the 'conscience' stream..

    I lost my conscience in the wash.

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  21. It seems to me you have always written with a harder edge about yourself and a softer one about your family. So please don't take this too much to heart.

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  22. I call bullshit on this. Yes, writing about family or personal matters on a blog (or anywhere) is tricky and full of landmines. But if you do so, it doesn't mean you don't have a conscience. It's a complicated matter full of all sorts of concerns and obstacles to navigate, but writing about these issues does not mean operating without a conscience. Reconsidering what/how you write, or trying something new, or working through a change in your writing, doesn't mean you suddenly grew a magical conscience out of thin air, either.

    I know a certain level of care and sensitivity is required when writing about personal stuff -- but I tend to get riled up when people try to squash a writer's work. "Keep it private, keep it to yourself," "don't air our dirty laundry," etc. etc. are attempts to silence. Maybe part of the reason I get so irritated is that it seems like women writers are more often on the receiving end of this.

    And I'm framing all of this through my agreement with Maleah's comment, by the way -- I never viewed what you write here about your family as exploitative.

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And then you say....

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