Mostly Drivel, Plus One Good Tip for Writing (and Life)

I love my family. I loved being on vacation with them. I love that our kids are consistent (that questionable hallmark of good parenting), which they exhibit by dependably peeing on and around toilets no matter where we reside and reliably making messes in mere hours that would take others weeks and weeks to achieve. And I will undoubtedly tell you more about vacation eventually, because it was as awesome as I’d hoped and not as awful as it could have been, but right at this moment I must say I love being on Not Vacation with my family.

I love being on Not Vacation with them very much.

Very, very much.

Very, very, very much.

ALL THE MUCH, is what I’m saying.

Because it turns out two weeks of vacation is a LOT of time with People, folks. And, not to be dramatic, but, for those of us who are introverty, a LOT of time with People, even the People We Love More Than Any Other People in the World, equals a LOT of time having our energy siphoned away, as though all those People were issued Mystical Straws and then they popped those suckers right through our bodies and straight into our souls and slowly but surely sucked our Life’s Essence from our now-useless shells, Dementor style, leaving us empty and breathless and pretty much dead. Like, way more dead than the guy in Monty Python’s Holy Grail who insists he’s not quite dead enough to go on the death cart. Compared to us, that guy is downright spunky. No; we’re more like Wesley in the Princess Bride after he was tortured by The Machine. Dead by all appearances. Dead to everyone who needed him. But not so dead that a miracle, given enough time, couldn’t resurrect him. Just mostly dead, you know?

We arrived home on Saturday at 4:00pm, and I spent the next 5 hours at Full Crazy Mama TILT doing All the Laundry in All the World, and putting away All the Crap, and – get this – Cleaning My Bedroom which is also my office, which is really just a desk, which I couldn’t see because it was hiding under All the Piles. And why did I clean my bedroom, you ask? Why do something so very out of character? Because I was frantically and giddily anticipating today – Monday – the Best of Days! The day I would send my children to Day Camp and have ALL DAY to write! ALL DAY to sit on a potty with no surpise pee sprinkles! ALL DAY without the MomMomMomMomMommyMoms! ALL DAY to craft something brilliant for you out of all that’s been bottled and ready to burst from my brain.

And so this morning I sat at my pristine desk in my comfy pants. The off-yellow velour ones that are threadbare in the inner thighs. And I got straight to work, because that’s what we writers do. Butt in chair. Words on page. Discipline. Discipline. Write.

So far I’ve played all my lives on Candy Crush.

I’ve ordered nail wraps online.

I’ve ignored my panties which insist on rolling down the lowest of my belly rolls to constrict around my hip bones.

I’ve used the words “hip bones” in their loosest possible sense, since there’s no empirical evidence I have any.

And I’ve wondered if I’m constipated.

I mean, I’m either constipated or there’s a giant ghost poop haunting my bowels. And THIS IS WHY IT’S IMPORTANT NOT TO TAKE TWO-WEEK WRITING BREAKS, people. BECAUSE IF YOU TAKE BREAKS, YOU COME BACK AND WRITE CRAP LIKE THIS.

Of course, if you don’t take breaks, you can write crap, too. That’s possible.

So, basically, to clarify, Shit Happens either way.

BUT, and here’s the writing tip I promised you in the midst of all this drivel, you can write in the poo, friends. And through the pretend poo – the feelings of inadequacy, the certainty you’re a fraud, the belief you’re doing nothing worthwhile – that haunts you, too. Because you will find, in writing and in life, the poo is ever-present and very, very good at trying to block your way. Your way up. Your way out. Your way past and over and onward and through. And so you face a choice. Every day. Every moment. Live fully in spite of the poo or go nowhere at all.

To be clear, going nowhere at all is totally an option, and one of which I avail myself frequently, because sometimes we simply must sit in the muck and the mess until we find the magic. We know this, right? Right. There’s no shame to be found here for resting a while. No shame. Not ever.

But sometimes we’re eager to move, to take next steps, to find the next right thing, to blaze a path through the jungle, to find the illusive Village… and we look at the overwhelming piles of crap surrounding us – emotional crap, writing crap, life crap, parenting crap, marriage crap – and we wonder HOW.

How do we write past, live past, move past this enormous mess?

Here’s the truth as far as I know it: We don’t move past the mess. Instead, we live and love and learn inside it. Despite it. Because of it. We write things – and push “publish” on them – knowing they’ve got crap clinging to them. We parent from sheer and brilliant imperfection. We inadequately shovel the poo and clear a way forward knowing more is on its way. And we take bold next steps knowing our shoes may squish and slide on the trail.


And what about you?
What’ve you been up to these past 2 weeks?
I’ve missed you, and I’ve missed hanging out here. I’d beg for someone to tell me that’s not weird, but I think we’re way, way past that. We’re weird. We’re good with that. It’s what makes us rad.

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22 responses to “Mostly Drivel, Plus One Good Tip for Writing (and Life)”

  1. Oh Beth, you have no idea how much I needed this today! I sent you an email with all the details. It’s just been a ridiculously tough few weeks – months, honestly. Husband on another continent, one really sick and one malnourished new baby at the orphanage, more delays on visas so we can come to the US for a break and for donor meetings, a huge opportunity to improve things that also means a HUGE amount more work and fundraising, running a big summer campaign (link in sig) to at least start towards that goal… I am just exhausted. And a four and six year old who need me, all the time. Oh, AND my back keeps going out! Think I even left that one out of the email. Anyway, thank you. For showing that our kids will survive and thrive even when we are not perfect. And that it’s ok for us not to be perfect, and to be freaking tired, and not be ashamed to say it.

  2. Beth:

    You are a hoot!!! I missed your twisted humor. I actually can relate to the funky colored pants, and now “shorts” because it is hot. I actually got tired of my panties rolling down to known parts so I decided one day to remedy the situation. I had the answer. I took a pair of scissors and cut a slit about 4″ long right down the middle – yup, right at the waist/hip line. I figured it would be more comfortable. That didn’t work at all. The panties actually rolled down all the way around so when I went to the potty they really weren’t there but rather all rolled up. I faced reality and bought a size up! “…”

    I know we all get tired of the folks we live with and especially on vacation. After a few days family becomes like fish, they start to stink. 2-3 days is a cap on the number of days we actually spend anywhere. The other 2-3 are spent traveling to get there.

    Glad you ordered your press-on nails. First things first!

  3. Thank you for the comments on how your family suck the life force out of you. That is exactly how I feel. Never mind, in 3 years the youngest will be at school full time!

  4. “Writing through the pretend poo” is going to be my new mantra. Maybe I will even put it on a plaque and hang it over my writing spot. Which happens to be the living room sofa. If I ever manage to make some money from writing the first thing I’m going to buy is either a new office chair and desk or a new sofa. Because writing is hard on the butt.

  5. Lovely to have you back Mrs W. I have a very good friend called Beth and when talking to my husband I have to differentiate between the two of you by calling you my “Internet friend Beth” as opposed to my real life friend Beth. This is a weird thing as I guess we will never meet in real life but you do brighten up the days and I often quote you in conversation.
    I am currently in the middle of waiting to move house, completely powerless to influence the timing of this event so instead of doing useful stuff, yesterday on an extraordinarily rare day off without the kids, having had a pedi and met friends for coffee, I drove all the way to a posh tile shop not particularly close, paid for 30 mins overpriced parking and bought 2 beautiful tiles to use as heat protectors for the surfaces in a kitchen that does not yet exist in a house I have yet to move into. Uh huh. I know how to live.

  6. You’re Back!!!! (and I don’t mean that in the creepy Poltergeist way) 🙂 I just have to say I LOVE that you referenced Harry Potter, Monty Python, and The Princess Bride all in one paragraph! Have a great week and enjoy peeing alone, I am WAY envious!

  7. We are in the midst of trying to decide where to live. Over the past two weeks we have DECIDED on each choice about three times. STRESSED! I have missed you. Have looked expectantly for a post, selfishly, multiple times a day – knowing you’re on vacation, and that you need and deserve a break….but, I missed you. And JUST now, at my mother in laws for “vacation”…slipped away to the bathroom for some me time, with you and my kindle….my child comes, opens the door and says, “the baby’s awake, can I get her. Me: “is she crying – no- just leave her. And…how do you know then that she’s awake?!” And now my MIL will step in to rescue her, make her cry, and I will be needed. Bathroom vacation….Over.

  8. Have missed you, too. 🙂 Went to a Thirtyone gifts convention and had my soul and my business resurrected, then came home and kind of collapsed. Waiting for the muse, i guess but she is apparently on vacation too.

  9. This made me laugh hysterically. It was the “ghost poop” line. And the truth.
    We also just returned from vacation….and the laundry was horrible. I mean, the stuff I found in pockets, and jammed in with the laundry. I cannot even begin to describe the horror, of both the ride home (during which I looked forward to doing said laundry) and while doing the laundry (the stench). Ahhh, vacation. So wonderful, and yet, so exhausting.

  10. This is great because lately I’ve been thinking, “I should write more. But I don’t really have anything to say.” Oh, but we always have things to say. Also my underwear was doing that same thing today and it’s the most annoying thing.

  11. I just love how you explain how I’m thinking and feeling!! Life is a mess! My house is a mess my business a mess and most of the time I don’t know where to start… Thinking I need to clean up all the mess for life to be perfect… But you reminded me , it already is perfect…because I have my hubby ( who does not contribute to the mess, just me and 4 out of 5 kids are messy) and kiddos. Trying to learn to enjoy life as it comes.. Mess and all! AND by the way.. We have our last family vacation before the oldest heads to college and I already have anxiety about not having all my kids together on holidays .. Lol.. AND hubby and I are “introverty” and I invited both sets of parents to join us on vacation… Lol.. What was I thinking???

  12. I’m currently on a two week vacation with my family! Someone once told me, when my 4 children were young, that IT doesn’t get any easier. I thought, “How can that be?” But now my youngest is 17 (and thus “forced” to vacation with us) and my other 3 are 20-something’s with burgeoning lives of their own, and I can attest to the truth that IT doesn’t get easier – except for vacations! The older the children, the easier (but not always pleasant) the vacation. In fact, it is more of a heartache, not being able to vacation with all of them. So – two bits of wisdom from “the other side”: cherish these times, knowing that you are making amazing memories, and that those memories will become the stuff of legends when you are vacationing with your grown children. In the end, it’s ALL SO GOOD!

  13. My father has had a theory for DECADES that little children drain the energy and life-force of adults around them by means of an invisible, intangible tube, which is why small children are ALWAYS going at 177% exactly when their parents are ready to curl up on the floor and die.

    It’s an introvertish theory, apparently.

    I have spent the last couple weeks Learning How To Keep Chickens and, consequently, Dealing With Poop. You’d think I would have learned my lesson about adding things that poop to my household, right?

    But my chickens are awesome. And, on a related note, so are my kids.

  14. I’ve been working out with my Mom in law who recently had knee surgery and needed a workout buddy. And the rest of the fam has been taking turns visiting the Urgent Care clinic to the point I told a friend that they should really think about a punch card program. I’d be up to a free mocha by now this month alone! Nothing life threatening. Just sight, and finger threatening, but all has worked out and was saved. 🙂 I leave for vacation (by myself!) in two weeks.

    • Yes. Once my children are all adults and on their own (please, dear Jesus) insurance, I expect our local ER to put up an Endowment Plaque in our honor. It shall read, “This Emergency Room funded in its entirety by the Woolsey Family,” and it will be TRUE.

      Have a GREAT solo vacation, Aurora!

  15. I have spent the past several weeks trying to figure out where the next step is. In the hopes that when I figure out where it is I may be able to figure out how to get to it. So far both have escaped me.

    • Oh, I just hate the waiting stage, Savana. It’s so important, the wait. So essential to finding the Next Right Step… or the closest to the Next Right Step. But waiting is just SO AWFUL. Sitting in the much with you…

  16. Ok, I love the part about ignoring your panties. Why do they do that, bugs the crap out of me, I find it hard to ignore. And this, instead of writing, it’s what I do!

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