Thursday, October 6, 2016

taking it back...

I've missed writing because I've been super busy and felt like hiding away. So here is a long, truly scary confession post for me with *gasp* a photo with MAKE UP ON. 

Triggers here. Fyi.

I don't wear make up pretty much ever. If I do, it's basic mascara and some pink blush used as eyeshadow. Nondescript. Barely there. Fiance is cool with it - "You're naturally beautiful.  Women really are. I wish you - all of you - could see it too." Love him, right? Anyway. We did engagement photos a week ago, and so I did the thing you do and put on my face - and though I look very Jane Austen? I about had a panic attack walking out of the bookstore restroom to go meet up with our photographer.

Fiance immediately asked what was wrong - and I almost cried off my face as I told him I hate wearing make up. "People look at me more. They see me. Men see me. I want to be left alone. I don't want them to look at me." He was confused. And as I thought about it from his perspective - I found myself analyzing why I think this way.

Guy from high school who locked me in his car and threatened to rape me? He wouldn't let me wear make up. Or cute clothes. "I don't want other men to look at you. You're mine." Checking my phone, playing mind games, making me change outfits before dates if I looked "too hot." Don't be seen.

Supervisor who locked me in the janitor's closet with him. He let me go when I stared too hard at him, wide-eyed and more confused than scared. "Close your eyes, girl. What the hell you doin' with those?" Don't be seen.

Ex who repeatedly abused me for two years - "You attract so much attention just because of your face. Especially your eyes. Stop looking at me. Look down." "Take off the eyeliner, you look stupid." "Did you see that guy checking you out? Don't wear that shirt when we go places anymore." Don't be seen.

I've always been shy. Awkward. Looking at the ground. But to have a panic attack because I put on make up? Unable to breathe because my eyes shine? Afraid to show fiance my face when I put this stuff on because he might see something he's suddenly afraid of or made angry by and tell me to disappear? He wouldn't. He won't. But my crazy brain says he might - it's ridiculous.

So guess what? This cleansing confession post now has a DARE. A BIG ONE.

Be seen. With or without make up on. With or without a nice outfit. I'll Be Seen. I'll see others. I'll smile and laugh and walk with my head held high.

I'm taking back my face.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


I've always found it silly and cliche to call myself a writer.

"Hi, I'm Sarah Anne -- a 20-something volunteer addict who checks out more books from the library than she can read in a month, stresses over everything you can possibly imagine and more, owns a dog, is engaged, and has a bunch of other things she should be doing but is probably watching Netflix instead.

Oh, and I'm also a writer."

It's always an afterthought. Almost a confession, like it's embarrassing to admit because I, like some others, hear people say, "I'm a writer" and immediately do a silent eye-roll while smiling enthusiastically, "Oh, are you ? That's great!" Never asking their genre or subject or storyline. Never offering help or the tidbit about being a 5-star writing tutor for over a year in college. Just the internal eye-roll and the smile.

Let's just say I've helped with far too many terrible writing projects of which the author was over-proud and overzealous.

So now that I have this confession -- I'm a bit embarrassed.

I. Am. A writer.

Like many self-conscious and conflicted students of words, I keep it to myself. Mostly. And, I go through long periods of inactivity. Days and weeks and months of time pass without setting a pen to paper or fingers to keys, because writing? Writing really well?

It's exhausting.

And the thing about writing and writing well is that when you know how to do it, and you've seen all of the ways people go wrong. . .well. You get even more blocked than you did before. You edit as you go -- instead of word vomiting all over the page and saying, "Hell yeah, that's a plot hole -- Ima fix it on the next round. Deal with it." You get paraylzed by the need for just the right word; just the perfect way of expressing all that stuff swirling around inside your head.

Justice is served with the perfect word.

Falling short. Because it's an injustice to the story and the feeling and the experience if the words aren't just right. That's the main thing for me. I can't find the perfect word, the just-right piecing together of the dictionary's tenants into a party that screams THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE ONE!

The sentence of the year. The story of the decade.

It's not that I want people to think that the story is perfect. It's that I want how I feel and think to be expressed perfectly -- for myself. So I can represent all of the twisting mess of feeling and strangeness taking place inside my head.

Why else would I be awake at 3am every night? Unable to sleep because images that need description plow through my mind with reckless speed. Yet, I can't find the words. "Play on!" says Shakespeare, "Play on!" Like an old VHS recording on fast forward, my static-filled mind joins with him -- play on!

But there is Hamlet, standing with his now iconic skull, posed as the Boy in Black. "To sleep -- perchance to dream."

Dreaming isn't the problem. It's sleeping that makes no sense to me.

Because words, words, words are the real issue. Which one to use, which to strike from existence, weighing the options of this one and that one. Literally keeping me up at night. Even the placement is cause for grief. Put it there? Or over there? A comma? A colon? I use that form of punctuation (the colon) and think of cancer every time. Probably because someone I know died of it a few months ago.

What I'd write about?

I'd write about dad's cancer.

I'd write about our cancer jokes.

I'd write about how when I make cancer jokes in public, few and far between people get offended, saying angrily "You shouldn't talk like that, it's offensive!" and I shrug and say, "Well, seeing as my dad is terminal, it's kind of how we deal with it"; and then they just sit there, quiet, like dad is dead instead of dying.

I'd write about my own kind of cancer, the flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder episodes; silent killers that come out of nowhere like a poisonous viper and strike when the sun is out and you're in love and then WHAM. The snake bites your ankle while you stare at it wondering why you didn't see the thing lying on the pavement.

Plenty of colons and commas and heres and theres to satisfy even the pickiest of word readers -- unless of course you're including me in the bunch.

Reading is easy. Writing, and those who can accomplish it -- now, that deserves all of the glory.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

concerning habits. . .

I used to be out of my mind concerned about really strange things.

Like how I had to take the exact same route in the kitchen every morning to get the same cereal: pantry for cereal to fridge for milk to cupboard for bowl and big spoon to table. And the exact inverse to put it all away: counter with dishes and so on. I'm still particular about my utensils. Always a small fork, no matter what I'm eating. And always a small spoon except for cereal. You get more milk that way.

Or how my outfits had to be entirely color coordinated. No patterns with patterns. Very business style or jeans and tees. And that period of my life where everything was long sleeved, long legged, and booted. All black. Very particular. And later on -- white socks with white or light shoes; black socks with black or dark shoes. Particularly if the outfits were light or dark. Though I'm still that way about my socks needing to match -- and that they should match something in the whole ensemble. If I wear socks at all.

Or how the closet had to be organized. And not just organized by type, but by color and sleeve length. Starting with the R of ROYGBIV and working through the spectrum of tone and shade and whatchamacallits, making sure that the browns and blacks and whites fell on the outside somewhere. Absence and absorption of color and all that. Can't mix it in. Same for pants and dresses and skirts. Even shoes. All by color. Length. Or heel height.

I'm still organized. I still worry about weird things. I used to think I was over all of this weirdness. Be it my overactive, over intense brain is now medicated to the point of closer normalcy or I've just grown up and moved on. Not so much moved on -- moved on from those specific, consuming routines and must-have patterns. Moved on to new ones.

Other strange things concern me now. Like which pockets the wallet and the glasses go into in the backpack -- they must be the same each time. And the respective pockets for all of the other things I pack around with me for various reasons. Respective pockets. To each item its own home.

Or the phones at work. Geraldine lives on the left side of the desk; Batman lives on the right. And Batgirl lives over by the till because she came to us last and that was the only place left for her to perch. I didn't name the phones. They were like that when I got here. But now they have specific places to live. Strangely, my coworkers now do the same thing. Perhaps because they can see the genuine panic that comes across my face too fast for me to hide when I see Batman heading to Geraldine's house for a nap. Their prongs must not share cradles. Ever.

We never have that problem with Batgirl. Batgirl always ends up where she is supposed to rest.

Placement is and has always been ridiculously important to me. Knowing where things are. Where I am in orientation to those things. When things are thrown off -- it upsets me. Often I tried to hide it. But that little flash of panic can be terribly hard to hide from some people. Sometimes -- and I am the first to admit -- a stupid tantrum gets set off. A suppressed connection to 3-year-old Sarah Anne is sparked and internal screams manifest themselves in the form of pouting, quiet tears, and all-around obstinacy.

For example. When my sister's husband began joining us for Sunday dinners and they moved me out of my chair so he and she could sit side-by-side. My. Chair. The chair I had sat in at mealtimes for almost a decade. And it felt wrong. Horrible. Awful. That sick kind of sick you feel when you see someone you once loved and who once loved you with another person, and you get this awful mean jealousy and displacement. Even though you know you should be over it.

"But it's mine," petulant 3-year-old says. Not sadly, either. Angrily. "That's my spot. All of my memories and perspectives and sitting nearer the corner than you'd think humanly possible. They're all in that chair."

I know. It's weird. But I'm still not over that chair.

More than a year later; I really want my chair back.

My brain knows that this is all weird. That someone looking in at my life would think, "It's just a chair. It's just a phone. It's just a pocket that holds stuff. Who even cares?" I think that at myself too, every single Sunday dinner. Every single time I put Batman to bed.  Every single time I open the pockets in my backpack and panic when something isn't right. When it's wrong. Disconnected. I think that's the word I'd use when certain things aren't just so. When specific, tiny, ridiculous details are overlooked or aren't just right. The porridge too hot or the bed too soft. Not right.