What’s it called?

I was reading an article yesterday on the difference between a memoir and an autobiography.  I’ve questioned that myself, so found the article to be helpful.  It basically said that a memoir covers an event in one’s life whereas an autobiography covers ones entire life.  Makes sense.

Then, at 4:00 a.m. this morning, my mind decided to re-review this theory.  I could say that my book covers a single event.  That event would be described as the struggle of life.  But not my whole life.  Just some points in my life.  So, it’s a memoir.  Is it too broad?  There could be a follow-up so that definitely means it’s not a whole life.

I think of whole life as someone, an author, writing the story of someone else’s life.  An autobiography of that person.  Do people really write their own autobiography?  Then it wouldn’t be a whole life because they’re writing which means something is happening.

I look at the clock.  4:15.  Two more hours before I get up.  I think back to the last book I read, “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed.  It’s a memoir.  She writes about her trek on the Pacific Coast Trail.  But interspersed was parts of her life outside of the PCT.  That sounds like my book.  Some things happen and while they’re happening, I write about other things happening.  Yep.  I wonder if Cheryl will come out with a follow-up?

The book I’m reading now is “Alcatraz 1259” by William G. Baker.  During a visit to Alcatraz – probably my 3rd, taken while a family member was visiting – 80 year old William G. Baker sat in the gift shop surrounded by stacks of his books.  I was so excited for him.  I grabbed one off the stack and stood in line to have him sign it.  I love talking to older people.  They have such a different view of things.  I eased up to him and said “hi”.  He stuck his hand out and I shook it as he said “hi” back.  He then picked up a bucket sitting next to him and spit in it.  I thought of my granddaddy who, embarrassingly, does this very loud snort, hawk and spit whenever he’s outside.  Usually in a very public place.  I smiled, feeling uncomfortable, not knowing what to do.  He reached out to me again and I handed him my book.  He asked my name so I told him.  He wrote “To Michelle  William G. Baker  Jan 15, 2014”  I smiled and thought I should probably ask him something since that was the whole purpose of meeting the author.  I asked “What did you do to end up in Alcatraz?”  As I said it, I felt this fear come over me.  I was standing there talking to someone that had been in Alcatraz.  He could’ve done something horrible.  He could be a very mean person.  I looked back at him and saw the little old man.  He said he stole a car.  Stole a car?  Damn.  Alcatraz seemed pretty extreme for having just stole a car but then again, Al Capone was just a tax evader, right?  I felt bad for William.  He slid the book to me and I took it from him.  He picked up the bucket again as I walked off.

That’s a memoir.  He writes about being in Alcatraz and reflecting on his life.  I have a memoir.  I have a novel.  Wait, what’s the definition of a novel?  4:35.  Is a book a novel?  I’ll have to look that up.

I think about the post I put on Twitter last night of when I met RuPaul.  It went viral.  Yay!  But I didn’t get any new followers from it.  Booo.  I remember meeting him.  He reminded me of Michael.  Super tall, skinny and fabulous.  For just a minute I stood next to my brother again.  He even smelled nice like Michael would’ve smelled.  I love Ru.  So even after our photo, I was elated to be near him, not just because he’s famous but because he’s a good person.

I wondered what I could write a blog post about today.  I didn’t write one yesterday because I was combing other blogs seeking out book review blogs to review my book.  Then it hit me, whatever keeps me awake should be a blog post.  Brilliant!  It’s so much better than those ideas that are genius that I have just before I fall asleep that I can never remember in the morning.  I wonder how many scientists have cured cancer in their head just before they fall asleep and then can’t remember it in the morning.

5:00 a.m.  Time to get up and write.

The Game of Life

My mom was a guest at my house for a few days last week.  I saw it as an opportunity to pull down my board games.  I’ve loved playing games since I was a kid.  I grabbed the two that were easiest to get to – Life and Monopoly.  We started with Life and I was shocked that I couldn’t remember how to play it.  I went to the directions and still struggled.  The first time through, we missed the STOP to get kids and it really bummed us out.  But we both had really good jobs but I failed to land on a single PAYDAY so I ended the game owing the bank $280,000.  It was such a let down that I wondered how I found the game fun when I was a kid.  It all looked good on paper though.  I had a $100k salary, a farm house.  It’s almost like it was too real to be fun as an adult but loved it as a kid.  Maybe it was the prospect of it all when I was little.  The glamour, the uncertainty.  Now, I just found it too real, too telling, too serious.

We decided to give it another try.  I thought I’d try the college route this time rather than the career route.  It was ridiculous.  It started off in debt and didn’t get a payday until much later so I changed my mind and went back to the career route.  I figured why start off so far in debt with no guarantee of grabbing a career card that would offer a nice salary.  It just didn’t make sense.  It was mimicking my actual life.  I grabbed my career card and was so disappointed by the $20k salary.  But we stopped for kids this time.  I ended up with a ginormous house which was very uncharacteristic for me but the best part was that I ended up writing a novel and won the Nobel Peace Prize.  How awesome.  And I won the game that time.  Not like life at all.

We moved on from there to Monopoly which took so many hours that we basically threw in the towel.  Monopoly reminds me of my brother.  He was a pro at the game.  I think I beat him once which I’m sure he let me.  Early on with mine and Mama’s game, I was able to buy Park Place and Boardwalk which was also very reminiscent of Michael as well.  I ended up winning.  Thanks Michael.

Coming Out

In honor of National Coming Out day (Oct 11, 2014), I thought I’d write about my Coming Out experiences.  I write in my book about first coming out to my brother.  I wrote him a letter.  I was in my late teens so not all that comfortable with verbal communication.  I wasn’t sure how he’d take it but he was ecstatic.  It made us just that much closer.  It opened up a world of Gay Pride Celebrations, learning to become comfortable with myself and living a life out of the closet, not having to look over my shoulder or conjure up stories of “roommates” or “female friends” and why we’d lived together for years or went out together every weekend.

It wasn’t always happy times though.  There was a lot of anxiety to begin with along with the fear of rejection from my family and friends.  When I was a young adult, I decided, along with some pressure from my brother, that I should tell my mom.  She took it ok.  She grieved some over me having a “normal” life but in the end, she was resolved to just wanting me to be happy.

It took a few more years before I was able to come out to my dad.  I guess I knew that my mom wouldn’t reject me but I wasn’t so sure about my dad.  As with my mom, he said he’d known all along but his struggle was with how to introduce me and my partner to his friends.  We went through some practice scenarios until he was comfortable.

I was beginning to be comfortable, wearing my Keith Haring Coming Out t-shirt, but still not truly out of the closet.  My employer didn’t know and the majority of my straight friends didn’t know.  It took even more years to get through to them all.  When we decided to move to another state, it forced us to come out to our employer.  I quit my job and needed to be on my partner’s insurance so it was imperative to not only come out to them but to ensure that they offered domestic partner benefits.  It was a huge hurdle to overcome but it was so necessary.

What made things a bit easier was that me and my partner ended up working at the same place so it sort of forced people to face the fact that they worked with gay people.  It was a bit of forceful acceptance.

What’s funny is that when Facebook first came around, I was terrified to join because I knew that I’d have to come out to more of my old friends from school.  I’d already come out to both of my parents, my only sibling, co-workers and employers but still faced the fear of rejection from lifelong friends.  I expressed my concerns to my partner and heard her when she explained that if those lifelong friends couldn’t deal with the fact that I was the same person that they’d known for our entire lives, then we didn’t need to continue to be friends.  It was loud and clear and I even agreed but I didn’t want to lose my friends.  And I haven’t.  Most already knew, just as my parents and my brother knew and the others that didn’t know, didn’t really care.

I live my life now, not even giving being gay a second thought.  I have an incredible person that I share my life with.  We don’t put a label on ourselves so we don’t expect anyone else to.  We’re just who we are.  We do the same things that straight people do.

I know it hasn’t been this easy for everyone and I don’t take that for granted.  My brother is actually gay as well and I thank him and all those that have come before me.  They paved the way and made the first, crucial breakthroughs that have allowed others to walk after them, with our heads held high.  Having come from a small, rural, southern town, my brother was actually shot at.  He had bullet holes in his car.  That is inconceivable to me today but I know that it still happens and it’s just ludicrous.  How one human being can want to harm another human being just over the person they love is just stupid.  There is no longer room for narrow minded people in this world.

Differentiation is what makes the world goes round.  If there’s anything I could offer to anyone that has yet to come out, it would be to find someone that you trust and are comfortable with and talk it over with them first.  It will allow you to try out your words and find your voice.  Don’t be afraid to stand up for who you are.  And know that you’re not alone.  We’ve all faced the same fear to which I hope you find resolution and comfort to.

Football Follies

It seems that the NFL has been in the (negative) spotlight lately.  They tend to come out swinging, saying they’re going to do this or that and then nothing ever happens.  They make promises and then don’t deliver.  That made me think about a few other things that have seemed to go unnoticed or maybe it’s just me.

First off, what happened to the female referees that were so publicly displayed during the preseason?  They seemed to have disappeared.

And what happened to the Redskins changing their name?  I thought I read an article that said they were going to be the Washington Warriors or something like that.  Why are they still the Redskins?  And not to run down a controversial alley but why not – yes, I do feel they should change their name.

If the NFL is so into head injuries, and the new rules certainly prove that with penalties being more prevalent this year than in past seasons, then why do players still head-butt one another after a great play or a touchdown?  Why do they continue to slap and pound one another in the head to congratulate each other?  Isn’t that just stupid?  I know a slap or a butt isn’t like having a 400 pound man ram you in the head but they get pretty pumped up at times.  I can see the head being moved when they’re celebrating that way.  It just seems like it’s not right when there’s so much focus on keeping athletes healthy.

And when the hell are they going to stop the end zone celebrations?  It’s just disgusting.  I don’t need to see gyrating, humping, or any other pre-adolescent motions.  How is it not considered unsportsmanlike behavior?  It’s just not necessary and I feel it’s actually wrong.  Grow up athletes and set the example you’re supposed to set.

OK, enough of that ranting.  I love football.  I love baseball.  I hated leaving my beloved Red Sox behind and I miss Fenway Park but it’s fun to visit other parks and learn other teams by moving around.  I think the Red Sox will forever be in my heart, however.

I used to love hockey but seemed to leave it behind.  I moved from a warm state where I loved hockey to a cold state where I left it behind.  Weird.  With hockey though, there’s the issue of fighting.  It’s funny that when I went to games all of the time, I thought it was a part of hockey.  You can’t have hockey and not have fighting but now that I’m not that in to it, I’m not sure I still agree with it.  It really doesn’t set a great example for kids.  And of course, it’s all about the children these days.  God help the children.  Don’t get me started.  Oh right, and I was supposed to just be talking about football.

So, it’s Thursday night and I’m already thinking about what type of football food I’m going to make for dinner because sports is actually all about the food, as are most things in my life.

Virally Social or Socially Viral

When I published my first book, my partner and I knew that the only way to get it out there was to get it out on social media.  Duh, right?  Well, what I didn’t take into account was that I’d have to be social in order to get it to go viral.  How does a person, that’s anti-social, become social?  I haven’t quite figured that out yet.  And my book is not selling.  It’s frustrating and ends up taking me to very dark places in my mind.

You would think that going “viral” would be easy.  I hate the term.  It puts such a negative connotation on the thing that I want to go viral.  Having a virus is NOT good.  Catching a virus is NOT good.  But going viral is the best possible thing when marketing. It just doesn’t make sense but a lot of things don’t make sense.

I joined several meetup groups but haven’t been to any of them.  I’m afraid to go.  It’s more of putting yourself out there which I’m not comfortable with doing.  I stay home, I write.

We designed and purchased business cards but I’ve strategically placed maybe 20 of them.  I read an article that business cards should be flowing out of my hands.  So, I put one on the mirror of a restaurant bathroom.  I put two in an empty tourist brochure holder.  I tacked 4 to a community board at the library.  That’s pretty much how it’s been going.  You have to be out and about in order for flow to happen.

I created a Twitter account and found that just between Facebook and Twitter, it takes an exceptional amount of time combing and following and watching everything that’s going on.  So, now, I’m no longer writing, I’m advertising.  I’m on my Twitter account all day waiting for someone to post something that I can retweet, or answer a tweet in order to bring more people to my Twitter feed so that they can become aware of my book.  It’s truly crazy.  And it appears to be making no difference whatsoever.  It’s frustrating.

I’ve been told to be patient, however.  It’s been a month since I published the book.  A month.  I have to give it some time.  I have to go to meetups and meet people (even though I don’t want to).  I have to be patient (which is something I’m so not good at either).  I have to continue to learn the ins and outs of Twitter and maybe create Pinterest and Instagram accounts as well (which will take more time away from writing).  I struggle with what’s more important – writing or marketing.  I’ve figured out that if I can’t get this book marketed then there’s no reason for a second book, so for now, I have to focus on marketing.

I guess that’s enough bitching for one day.  I do get to write on my blog (another marketing tool) which allows me to vent and rattle on about miscellaneous thoughts that cross my path.  I enjoy it the most because it’s marketing and writing all in one.

Work Backup

Have you ever just wanted to send someone in your place for the day?  It could be to the office or just as a fill-in for whatever you do every day.  In our case, it’s just the two of us so the only logical substitute is the dog.  We paint the picture by discussing him trotting into the office, going down the hallways, with little glasses on that we feel he needs in order to make him look more professional.  He could hop up into our chair at our desk, putting his little paws on the keyboard and looking at the computer screen like he’s perfectly comfortable and confident in what he’s to do.

For me, I’d have him write blog posts about getting to fetch fluffy toys, how to properly discover and roll in stinky things in the yard, best practices for reminding your owner of when it’s dinner time.  He could research Twitter members to help promote my book.  He knows if he helps his mamas, he gets more cookies.  He’d look up Lassie and Bub to follow, like minded pets and people that he can relate to.  He’d take a break every so often to get a drink of water and ask to be put out for some fresh air.

For my partner, he’d drive to work, honking the horn and barking at everyone that cut him off or for the horribly long traffic lights.  He’d sit in meetings, play on his smartphone, interject every so often with a sigh and a growl before retreating back to his open office, adjustable desk.  He’d shake all over flinging dust and hair onto the neighboring desk but since it’s just a guy, he barely notices.  Before heading to lunch, he lets out a big yawn causing half of the office to pass out.  It’s all a part of his plan to get in front of them before the caf gets too full.  He grabs a slice of pizza, eats it right on the floor and retreats back to his desk where he curls up and sleeps for a few hours.

Upon waking, he heads outside again before heading to the next meeting where he tries to draw his plans on a white board but can’t reach so he just scribbles on the wall below it.  He drops the marker on the floor confident he’s made his point, knowing that he’s a genius and under-appreciated everywhere he goes.  And with that, he hops back in the car, drives home with the windows down so the wind can blow the hair from his face.  He arrives home exhausted, pleads with his mamas not to make him do that again, has some dinner and retreats to his fluffy bed where he can curl up with his plush toys and sleep through the evening.

My partner and I discuss if anyone would actually even notice the substitute.  Would he end up biting the people we didn’t like in the office or growl at them?  Would he get distracted and end up peeing on the floor or try to mark every desk and pee on each one?  Or worse, get frightened and poop right in the middle of the hallway.  We think it might be too much for him but want him to succeed.  Just then, he lifts his head to peek at us from behind his bangs.  We’re stare at one another for a moment as if he knows we’re talking about him.  He flops his head back down on his bed, down for the count.  We face the realization that there is no backup.

Coastal Motorin’

Driving along the highway, through a small storm cloud, I felt the tiny needles of rain pierce my jeans and spatter on my helmet. The moisture rich air smelled clean and warm even though my nose was getting cold as I drove toward the northern hills.  Taking the exit started the series of sharp turns, narrow streets, and bottlenecked cars with drivers too busy looking at the cavernous hillsides and streets lined with eucalyptus trees shedding their bark and casting shady shadows on the road.  The scent of eucalyptus washed over me as I passed by.  I breathed deep, wanting to take the smell with me on my journey.

Once I’d made my way over the mountain, I maneuvered through some downtown streets and then started on the coastal roadway.  Within minutes, I was cruising high up on the road with the sea far below.  The cliffs were stunning and the see was a blue-green against the powdery blue of the sky.  Up and down hills, around corners and I was suddenly at sea level with white-capped waves crashing on white sand beaches with the orange, brown and green cliffs in the background.  The sea salted air filled my helmet and the tiny particles of mist covered my shield.  It was beyond beautiful.

As the road flattened out further up, it was green for as far as I could see.  There were manicured rows of fruits and vegetables. I always love to see the anal retentiveness of farms.  It smelled of manure and fertilizer which wasn’t pleasant but it was so amazing going between the extremes that I didn’t mind.  I could see the sea just beyond the rows of green.  I thought that it must be magnificent to own a farm right on the ocean.  It’s the best of both worlds.

I continued my journey for over 100 miles and finally wound my way back home, tired but exhilarated at the same time.  It was my new favorite thing to do.  I felt fortunate for the opportunity to experience something, a ride, a site, an area, that some may never get to see.

Hugs

I’ll admit, I’m a hugger.  I love hugging others and being hugged.  It’s warm and comforting until you come across a non-hugger.  Then it’s stiff and awkward.  I guess not everyone has to like hugging but shouldn’t hugging be in the same category as hand-shakes?  So much is read into a hand-shake.  It determines your sincerity, your stance, your professionalism, your integrity.  When you shake someone’s hand and it’s like grasping a dead fish, doesn’t it turn you off?  It does me.  I almost want to wipe my hand off on my shirt.  It’s the same with a hug.  When you get that lean in that doesn’t actually touch you and then a tap on the back, I feel almost embarrassed.  On the flip side, it seems invasive when those that aren’t ok with hugging grab you with some force and practically slam your body into theirs with a pound on the back and then a push away.  It’s almost violent and notably uncomfortable for both.
There’s nothing quite like seeing a loved one and embracing, however.  It’s familiar, sometimes intimate, and overall welcoming.  It allows me to share myself with those I love, those I connect with and those I feel for.

In line

At every event I go to, I can’t help but think back to the days of elementary school when we were all taught to form a single line, standing perfectly straight behind the person in front us. Sometimes we got to stand against the wall but we weren’t allowed to put our backs on it, we just used it as a guide to line up our shoulders, using it as the example of how it should be when we didn’t have the luxury of the wall to help us.  This procedure was taught early and we used it throughout our lives.  That is, until we became adults.  Now, when the airline folks continually repeat for the customers not line up until their row is called, it’s as if they’ve requested each person stand and move to the boarding area to wait for their row to be called.  I understand being anxious about flying but the plane is not going to leave without you.  And if you think about it, giving the pilots and airline staff a few extra minutes to go through their safety checks and make sure that your bags actually get onto the plane might not be such a bad thing.  Then the next set of rows are called and each person pushes their way to the door having everything that we’ve learned over the years fall out of our heads.  There is no line, no wall to use as a guide to line up against.  So each person presses up against one another in a giant, filled in, V shape, scootching, scootching, uncomfortable, couples getting separated, scootching.  I HATE IT!  Why can’t we just get in line?  Why is it so hard?  I blame it on the men.  Why?  Because there’s always a line to the women’s restroom and THERE’S A LINE!  We obviously know how to do it!  Get in line!

Awoken

I woke up last night in the middle of the night because I had an uneasiness about me.  As soon as I came to enough to realize what was going on, I felt the migraine pain squeezing my head.  I tried to figure out why it decided to wake me up out of perfectly good sleep.  I laid there for a few minutes and felt the familiar nauseousness.  Luckily, I nodded back off to sleep.  That never happens.  I’ve been pretty wiped out the past few days because it seems like every other night, I can’t sleep.  It was my turn to sleep last night but for whatever reason, I had to be awoken.

Next thing I knew, it was time to get up.  I really didn’t want to but I did and while having coffee, I reflected back on the dream I was having, that pulled me back to sleep.  I had returned to my techie job.  I’d been asked to return as a consultant.  I was sitting at some unfamiliar table with the team that I last left.  I was talking the talk with them, their faces, mannerisms, voices, all just as they should be.  My boss was there along with the other leads.  For a moment, I couldn’t quite realize why I was there.  I felt confused.  When I tried to insert my thoughts, the knowledge was already there.  I said to them “You’ve got this”.  In the dream, at that point, I felt the pang of discomfort in my head.  I laid my head down on the table for a minute and when I picked it up, a guy, from not my previous job but the one before that, was standing there with a sandwich in his hand.  I thought back and could see myself just moments earlier giving him my lunch order.  He always went to the sub shop up the street and was willing to grab mine too.  I asked for my usual steak and cheese with lettuce and tomato.  When I opened the paper on my lunch, it was a breakfast sandwich with eggs and hash browns on texas toast.  I wondered how he got that out of my steak and cheese order.  But I took a bite.  It was horrible.

He returned just then and said that he’d given me the wrong sandwich, holding a different one in his hand.  I looked at the sandwich that was clearly not mine, but now with a bite taken out of it.  I pushed it in his direction and said “Sorry” through my mouth, full of his food.  He smiled and said that it was ok.  We exchanged sandwiches and I once again unwrapped a new meal.  It was a shrimp salad salad with lettuce and tomato.  I was stymied.  Did I not speak clearly?  Did “Steak and Cheese” sound like “Shrimp Salad”?  I took a bite.  It was odd.  I’d never had a shrimp salad sandwich before.

My friend and teammate asked me what I was having.  I told her.  She curled her lip.  I just said “Yeah” and realized I was at my desk.  I took my sandwich and walked down the hallway.  I had to use the bathroom.  When I got close enough to see the entrance, I looked for a trash can to throw away my sandwich but then realized that I no longer had it.  There was a line to the bathroom but there were men and women both waiting.  I asked what was going on.  They all spoke at once, complaining, there was only one bathroom and that we had to share it.  A woman would go into the stall and the man would enter as well but use the urinal.  I wanted nothing of it but had to go.  When it was finally my turn, I could hardly hold it any longer.  I entered and saw the uni-sign and thought there never were two restrooms.  There was standing water on the floor that my feet sloshed in.  I opened the door and saw the man that came in behind me standing at the urinal out of the corner of my eye.

I was awoken.  It was time to get up.  Headache explained.