Part II: Love is…

Love is when a foul egg scent emits from your body either in quiet stealth mode or explosively loud and this is typically followed by either people denying there is anything wrong as they continue to make casual conversation; or if they are family or close friends, there will be an acknowledgement of what just happened with groans and snort-filled laughter.

But no one really cares, because we all do it, and you’re loved anyway.

Even if you do smell – just a little.

Love is…

Part I

Love is when you’ve been particularly neglectful in trimming your eyebrows and plucking them and the gap between the two eyebrows have unified and become one. Wayward hairs arch forward here and there, as if they are reaching to shake a passerby’s hand.

And somehow, your husband or wife, never seems to notice.


Love is when you get an unrelenting flu bug that knocks you flat into you bed and you stay there for hours without the ability to so much as raise your head. (In an annoying deal of a bad hand of the cards of fate, you got the one strain that was not contained in the flu shot you got months earlier.)

When the moment arises when you MUST use the washroom you push the pause button and hold it a little longer because it seems the effort will deplete what remains of your energy. Eventually though you rise, and stammer your way into the bathroom and do your business as quickly as possible as your bed is beckoning you to return to it.  In a swirling world of dizziness, you stumble back towards in the direction of your soft duvet, when your husband bursts into the room carrying in one hand a glass of water, and in the other one a bottle of Gatorade. You hear in rushed words that sound that they are said far away, even though he is close by, that he’s going out to get soup for you and crackers.

Back in your bed finally, he hands you the water and you take a few sips of it, and pops the Gatorade open as well. Once you’re safely snuggled in your bed, he rushes out of the room, turning the light off behind him with his cape flying behind him in his quest to locate soup and crackers.

You roll over on your side and mumble, my hero…

Some of My Favorite Things

Memories of my life drift in my mind like the snow that spirals along sidewalks, roads, and that dances on rooftops. It’s odd the moments that I remember fondly, and the ones you think I would, I can barely recall.

It seems what I should remember are the highlights: graduating from University, or getting married.  But while these were important pivotal moments, they are nothing in comparison to the time my father skipped work (he worked almost every day of the week) to take my brother and I tobogganing. Dressed in snowsuits we climbed up a hill located in Fonthill, ON  and then flew down again on a wooden toboggan. It was special to me, because it was such a rare event.

Or the very first time my Mom and I paid $2 to see Casper in theater.  When we drove back home I looked over at my mother who was giddy from the experience and recounted the story and how wonderful it was with a smile spread across her face. I believe the last movie she saw in theaters up to that moment was Love Story.

Then there was a Valentine’s Day where I was still stinging from the pain of my father dying when I felt isolated and alone, even though I wasn’t. My husband and I had driven to a small town called Merrickville that’s about 45 minutes from Ottawa.  A picturesque and quaint town that bustles with tiny shops and restaurants we make our way there a couple of times a year, in a quest to purchase the most delicious and diverse selection of fudge that my palate has ever had the joy to experience.

After we made our purchase we found a quiet little restaurant called the, Yellow Canoe and had soup and a half-sandwich. There was something about the quietness, the smallness, the gentleness of the place that suddenly made me feel reflective of the moment, and I realized how grateful I was to be there with my ever-supportive husband.

My husband had not purchased long-stemmed roses for me, or written a poem describing me as a wonderful Wonder Woman. It was hot soup and half-sandwich. And it was beautiful. Even though I’m fairly certain I cried a couple of times as I talked about missing my Dad, it sticks out in my memory as by far, my favorite Valentine’s Day.

Finally, there was the time I got my favorite birthday present. It didn’t come wrapped in gold lined wrapping paper with dazzling diamonds embedded in it.  It didn’t come from Canada Post, or UPS. It wasn’t something that was purchased at the store, or something that someone spent many anxious nights racing to finish in time to complete by a specific date.

It came in the format of an email, and with a click of a mouse, I saw a few words written…It was a wish from my brother for a happy birthday with a few additional words written about how much he loved me.

My brother rarely remembered my birthday and when he did, would send his wishes late. The fact that he remembered on the right date even though he was facing so many challenges in his own life, and with his note of love included, it made it even more special.

At this time of year, I’m reminded of the simple experiences and gifts that have made my life exceptional. It is the rare and golden moments I’ve shared with family and friends that have brightened my life. On the eve of Christmas I will keep this in the forefront of my mind as I remember what Christmas should mean to me.

How To Rule the World


Thin, brown hair tops his head. On Jacob’s face rests his black-rimmed glasses allowing him to read the gospel on a sunny, fall day on a brown bench overlooking water. With a book placed in his hands he reads the lines with the utmost concentration. There are truths written in the book and if he follows each step, HE WILL RULE THE WORLD!  

Father is disappointed in him, mother too. He is twenty-four years old and is a failure in most aspects of his life both professionally and personally. An unfinished degree; a degree that is a blatant reminder of its incompletion in the way he left when he woke one morning in his fourth year and decided not to write the scheduled exam that day. He opted instead to pack his knapsack with clothes, and booked a last minute ticket to one of the oldest cities in Europe: London.

The cost for the ticket and the first few months of expenses was paid through a part time job that he held while attending University. His parents funded his tuition and living expenses, and his part-time job was his “play” money. Turns out, he was good at penny-pinching and had socked away quite a bit in the “play fund.”

His parents didn’t seem to mind footing the bill for his education given that he ranked in the 95th percentile on the Law School Admissions Test, and had an overall GPA of 3.8. The combination of the impressive LSAT score and GPA meant he had his pick of law schools.

A genius, his mother beamed at him with pride.

He was the genius who carelessly walked away from it all.

A phone call this morning with Mom, she asked again, did you plan to leave all along? To just quit?

The answer comes swiftly to him as she’s asked the same question so many times: No, I didn’t. I just didn’t know if I wanted to become a lawyer anymore. Or, if I ever did. He says as his voice trails off in remorse.

It occurs to him suddenly, she might not have known that last part. He never mentioned it before.

It’s what you always talked about Jacob! We just supported you in what we thought you wanted to do! She says in a shrill voice with exasperation.

Mom’s working day would have just ended. She works as an Executive Assistant at the General Hospital. He can see her standing in the kitchen as he remembers her when he lived at home. She would be wearing high heels, a skirt, and a blouse as she clutches her cell phone to her ear with arms folded in front of her, defensively. The blazer she wore to work would be flung aside on a nearby couch. The knife she used to dice vegetables until Jacob called, lies on the cutting board. It sits there ready for her to resume the preparation of dinner once their call is over. She loved onion and garlic and threw it in most foods and for that reason, the combination of the aroma of these two vegetables would linger in the air of his childhood home.

I know. I know… He says in short spurts with an edge of frustration.

The late autumn sun is cool and with the breeze, it gives him a chill as he wonders: why did I want to become a lawyer?

Mom is right. He was the first one who talked about law school.


He knows the answer, but is too embarrassed to admit it.

He knew it would make his parents happy. And he always tried to make them happy. But after he left, he wanted to do things differently.

And he did. 

London. Five feet six inches, short, blonde, bob haircut, blue-eyed Elsie breathed into his ear the first night he arrived in the city as he stumbled his way into Adventure Bar.


Sure, he had been with other women. There was Victoria, his long-time girlfriend during University. He saw Victoria in first year astronomy class. Vibrant red hair, freckles dotted her nose, green eyes, and a voluptuous figure. Their first time in his dorm room he remembers well; he grabbed her breasts as his lips opened and his tongue searched for hers.  Initially, he couldn’t get enough of her; legs tightened around him encouraging him to finish. The warmth of Victoria’s breath on him as moans escaped over his lips, drenched in sweat, and he was left satisfied.

But she was less satisfied, and he knew it. In their second year they began arguing over little things: movies, dinner locations, and how often they should get together.  As Victoria became unhappy, she piled on some weight. Her curvy figure became a little heavier as his wandering eye watched other women, comparing.

And he told her. Was it a jerk move? Of course it was. Eventually, sex diminished and was assigned to the Saturday night chore list:

  • Do laundry.
  • Have sex.

In their fourth year, Victoria dropped twenty pounds. While his eyes continued to drift and he flirted with other women, she found a new guy. The guy was his best friend, Gavin. Embarrassingly, as he danced and mingled with other women at Dance Bar 21, Gavin and Victoria snuggled close together in a corner booth one night. He watched them as they talked and laughed into the early morning hours.

He noticed it, but he thought she would never leave him.

He was wrong.

The ultimate comeuppance came on Valentine’s Day – when she sobbed and said: we’re not right for each other. At the time, he didn’t understand why she was crying. She was ending it, not him. The answer so elusive before is clear to him now. It was despite all of his neglect and unkind words, she loved him.

Yes, she was better than him. Happily married for a year now, Gavin told him they are expecting their first child. He’s still friends with them.

Shortly after Elsie and Jacob meet they take the adventure back to his hotel room. What a night it was. Elsie’s soft, red lips on his mouth as she worked her way down his neck; moving down lower still to his chest, abdomen, thighs.  Lips that moved lower still. Elsie was his first one night stand.

What an adventure it was.

Jacob snaps himself back to reality. A small half-smile crosses his lips, eyebrows raised, and he realizes that the solution to, How to Rule the World, is not to spend your days fantasizing about women you’ve been with, or women you may want to be with.  Sex, is the downfall to ruling the world.

As he cracks the spine and turns the page he reads these words….



If you purchased this book you are on a wayward spiral to nowhere. I am here to help.  Owning the world will take some time.  But if you read each chapter and follow each step, world dominance will be yours.

First off, let’s debunk some myths. There are at least a half dozen websites and books that will offer self-help advice. They would advise you to do some, if not all, of the following:

  • Do something you love because money will follow. (Who hasn’t heard that one? )
  • Be hard working.
  • Be Diligent.
  • Be a Leader.
  • Be Action-Oriented.
  • Be Honest.
  • Be Modest.

The list goes on and on. But, you get the idea. Ultimately, if you are an all-around good person then, good things will follow.

I am here to tell you – its rubbish. Don’t believe a word of it.  The best thing you can do for yourself is to make YOU the top priority. This will sometimes be to the detriment of family and friends. But, those people are a means to an end. USE THEM.  When they stop being useful it’s time to find new family and friends.

And never, EVER, should you give too much time, money, and commitment to anyone as this will slow you down in your quest to rule the world. It’s a cold world out there baby, and you’re the only one who will take care of you.  Family and friends will be the debris left on the path to ruling the world. Debris is a natural by-product of such a large quest.

Now, I want to provide the following outline of topics to be covered in each chapter. This will give you an understanding of how this book is organized. Please feel free to grab a pen and make notes in the margins. Or, you could buy some of that 3-hole lined paper that we used in high school. Then, you can put all your hand written notes in a binder, flagging the ones that are the most important to you.

I think I just dated myself. Or, you can use one of those fancy laptop, iPad, iPod, tablet thingy’s to take notes. Whatever, you want.

Ok, here is what will be covered:

  • The Art of Manipulation
  • YOU FIRST. Then, use, use, use them….
  • How to be a Successful Arrogant Man/Woman (This is a gender-neutral book.)
  • Buffering Yourself Against the Fall-Out (Should one eventually occur)
  • Disclaimer

Ok, so you now have the general outline of the topics covered in each section. There is one last point I want to make before we get started. I would ask that you NOT apply any of the principles to your life until you’ve read the COMPLETE book. That is – READ THE COMPLETE BOOK. You will not be successful in ruling the world until you’ve read everything from start to finish.

Did Gru from Despicable Me start off with only a half a plan to steal the moon? No, I didn’t think so.

Oh wait. That’s the movie where Gru ends up taking care of those three little girls and becomes a father, right?

He’s a bad example.

Darth Vader. YES! He’s a good example! He built the Death Star!

No, wait…he’s the dark, robotic guy that pretends to be all evil until the end of the trilogy and then he becomes a big mushy pushover.

Don’t use him either.

The Emperor in Star Wars. There’s a guy who built a plan and implemented it completely! Sort of. It didn’t end well for him. But then, he didn’t have this book. So, PLEASE READ THE COMPLETE BOOK.

And, we’re off…..

Chapter 1 – The Art Of Manipulation

Manipulation should be taught to all children at an early age. (Parents, are you listening?) You can be the parents of the Supreme Ruler of the World. But, you’re responsible for coaching them on the best methods to manipulate. It is a necessary skill that can be taught to toddlers, used by your child throughout their school years, when they are teenagers, and finally as full-fledged serpentine adults. Parents, this will truly benefit you in the long run.

Ok, so how do you manipulate people? Here’s an example. Kids, listen up.  (Parents – now would be a good time to whip up breakfast, lunch, or dinner for your mini Dr. Evil child. A.K.A. I NEED YOU TO STOP READING HERE. THANKS.)

Kids, here we go. If your parents demand that you clean your room and you are blessed with a little brother or sister, you can take full advantage of your over-eager younger sibling who idolizes YOU for no other reason except YOU were born first. (Sorry, second, third, fourth child etc. – life has dealt you crappy cards in your attempt to rule the world. You were born later. It’s tough out there. I can’t help everyone. You’ll have to figure out how to manipulate your older sibling(s) on your own.)

Anyways, to YOU the first born, here are a few ideas:

  • Tell little Timmy or Suzie that you are going to study group to work on a school project that is due tomorrow. Throw your hands up in the air, stomp your feet and say, Mom and Dad are being COMPLETELY unreasonable on insisting that I clean my room first before I leave! It’s a project! It’s not like I’m going to a movie! I’m going to fail! (It doesn’t matter that you’re in kindergarten and you don’t know what a study group is. If you don’t know, pipsqueak doesn’t know either.)

When little Timmy/Suzie offers to clean your room – go to that movie instead. You receive extra points if you conveniently leave your allowance money behind thereby, the chump parents of your friends have to pay your way. Everyone else wants to see the movie too. What are the parents going to do? Not take you? You’re only a kid! It’s not your fault Mom didn’t give you money. Someone else will pay. I promise. (Did you see that? That was 2 manipulations for the price of one.)

  • Oh god, my stomach! My tooth! I am so sick and Mom and Dad STILL want me to clean my room! Who makes a sick kid clean their room? 

Here are a few other ideas for illnesses that you can tell little Timmy or Suzie:

  1. I’ve had diarrhea for three hours. (Trust me on this – no one’s going to check.)
  2. I’ve had a headache since last Tuesday. (There’s no verifiable way to validate this statement.)
  3. I stubbed my toe.
  4. I have a hang nail.
  5. Just pick something already!

Add tears, people are suckers! Then, you are permitted to sprawl out on the couch, order some delicious buttery and salty popcorn, and secretly begin hatching your next diabolical plan.

Now, some people would suggest that you just beat up Timmy or Suzie to make them clean your room. But, alas, that is truly diabolical. You don’t want to be a thug. And here’s why. Being a thug requires work. You will expend great energy in physically throwing punches, keeping someone in a headlock and then subsequently, plotting how NOT to get caught by your parents/teachers/police officers.

Being a thug is a huge waste of energy and time. Besides, with a little brother or sister, if you start early you will be able to manipulate them for life. As well, being a brute is not a transferable skill in the workplace. It will get you fired, arrested, or both.

Never underestimate the importance of brain power versus physical power.  Your brain will help you think of new and interesting ways to manipulate people. I believe that potential candidates in job interviews should be tested on the ability to manipulate other people as I’m certain it will do wonders for a company’s profits. A company made up of people who are the Jedi Masters of Manipulation are guaranteed to increase profits for the business.

I can see it now. A customer says, “I can’t believe you ran out of cream! What kind of an incompetent run coffee shop runs out of cream?”

The Cashier says, “Oh, are you certain that’s what’s really bothering you? It sounds pretty ridiculous to be so angry because we ran out of cream five days ago, and we still don’t have any?”

Customer: “Well, I did find out that I have to spend $2,000 to fix my fence because the 110 kilometer winds we had last weekend ripped a section of it apart.”

Cashier: “That’s terrible! You poor man! (Or, you poor woman!) But, we just serve coffee and donuts. Maybe you want a donut to go along with your coffee to cheer you up?”

Customer: “Actually, a donut would be nice.”

Cashier: “Ok. Let me add that to your order. That will be $8.”

Customer: “But, what about the fact that you haven’t had any cream for five days?”

Cashier: “We have milk. You can put that in your coffee. And with the donut now, it’s loaded with fat. You can’t afford to put cream in your coffee and have a donut today, or for the rest of the month. You’re in really good shape, and I wouldn’t want to ruin that.”

Cashier is assigned double points as the man no longer cares that he doesn’t have cream for his coffee, she sold him a donut, and he now believes he’s got the same body as Superman. (Or ladies, Superwoman! Or, Wonder Woman! Now that I think about it, some women might want to have the same body as Superman. Whoever’s body you admire most is the one you have. You have a phenomenal SUPER HERO body. Go Girl!)

My body is more in keeping with Baymax myself; and I like it that way. But, I digress….

Now, if manipulation is done well and over many years, you have a very good chance of controlling other people. How? Because, if you are VERY GOOD at manipulation, people will never know that they were/are manipulated. They will constantly be doing things for you and will not have a clue as to the reason why.

When you start manipulating people early in life it means patterns are established in terms of how one person interacts with another person. (You can probably also call this behaviour).   If someone starts by being your sucker (oops, I mean helpful sibling!) it will be very difficult for them to break the learned pattern unless they have a lot of money and can afford counselling to realize:

1) They have been manipulated in the past.

2) They are able to identify new situations where you are manipulating them.

3) They are able to stop themselves from being manipulated again by you.

By then, they will have paid more money on counselling than it would have cost if they just let you use them. At the very least, isn’t it better that a family member benefits in taking a younger sibling’s money and time, versus that of an outsider, such as a counsellor?

Yes, I thought so too.


Now, manipulation and owning people – how does that help you rule the world? This is easy. Even if someone is considered above you such as a grandmother, father, mother, aunt or uncle you can still own them.  Here’s an example. If your father says you can’t go to the University of Windsor because you live in Ottawa and it has two completely acceptable Universities and living away will be too expensive, than counter his arguments. Provide him with real examples as to why the University of Windsor is the best University, like, EVER!!!

If you have no real reasons as to why the University of Windsor is superior to all other Universities, make shit up. Convincingly. Puff your chest out and flap your arms around for emphasis.

You can say, But Dad! Windsor has the best English Program! Did you know that Jane Austen went to Windsor University? Manipulation comes into play because he will want the best for his kid.   As well, if you lied to him before and never got caught, he will fall for the new lie too.   Guaranteed.  As well, once you are there, even if University is too expensive Dad will be on the hook. He would never drag you away from your education.

Your Dad won’t have a clue that Jane Austen wasn’t Canadian, continues to be a well-known British author who wrote Sense and Sensibility and Emma (to name just a couple of her books)  and sadly, died almost two hundred years ago.

It will work. Trust me.

Manipulation and lying are synonymous together. It’s like the Easter Bunny and chocolate. Santa Clause and presents. Bacon and eggs. You get my point.

Thanks for reading this chapter.

P.S. I know the real reason you want to go to Windsor is because you don’t want Mom and Dad to “pop in” for an unexpected visit and catch you blowing your tuition and rent money on alcohol-loaded-all-night-parties.

How do I know this?


I wrote the book.


Jacob thinks about his own life.

He wishes he told his parents that he had doubts about Law School. The doubts began in his third year when he felt an overwhelming sense of trepidation about pursuing a career as a lawyer after speaking with friends who were articling at law firms.

Stories told from his friends painted a dismal picture of what his future life would be like: long hours at work that would leave him with little time for family and friends. Divorce amongst the lawyers in the firms was rampant.

Then, there were the ethical dilemmas in law that would appear no matter what area of law he chose to practice in. Sure, lots of money and prestige came along with being labelled a “lawyer”, but he didn’t really care about the title.

All in all, he didn’t want that life. He wanted an easier life. A more adventurous life. Or, a creative life. As it turned out, he wanted any other life: except to be a lawyer.

But, he couldn’t watch the crushing disappointment in his parent’s faces when he told them he didn’t want to do it anymore. They were so proud as they bubbled with joy and announced to everyone that would hear it, how brilliant their son was, and how he was well on the road to becoming a successful lawyer.

It was a weasel-way; to cut and run with no explanation. Jacob only called his parents to tell them he had skipped his exams and was in London, when his plane landed on the tarmac. Safely on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, his parents could do nothing else but hiss at him through the phone.

Then, there was Victoria. In the summer between second and third year he should have ended it.  He became less attentive, more argumentative, and knew they were drifting apart. He used her so he didn’t have to be alone, for sex, and his fear of ending their relationship.

Gavin is so much better to Victoria: stroking her hair without even thinking about it, wrapping his arms around her waist, and he constantly snuggles close to her whenever he can. But, more importantly, he always looks at her as if he is in awe; still, two years later. They taught him what love should look like.

Is he sorry? Sorry that he wasn’t brave enough to tell people the truth and deal with the aftermath of being honest. Instead, he slinked away as a snake hidden in long grass after devouring its prey. But as he sits on the bench overlooking the River Thames two years later, he’s only sorry about how he did things – not that he did them.

Jacob’s life is this impossible, reckless mess. But one day at a time, one step at a time, with the odd step backwards for self-reflection allows him to improve, change, and hopefully – become a better person.


YOU FIRST Then, use, use, use them

What I Meant To Say

“Why did you say that?” He asks abruptly.

“Say what?” I ask casually as I flick my hair back in annoyance. I push my hip out a little and rest my hand on it.

I refuse to back down.

He’s not going to win this time.

My eyes skip across our shared home. Behind my husband is a photo of us at the San Diego zoo last year. His arm is lovingly draped over my shoulder. White toothy grins are splashed across our faces. In the photo we stand at the front, and in the background is a panda bear. He is reclined against a tree and leisurely chews on a stick.

Another photo of us on our wedding day is proudly displayed on our fireplace mantel. The sun was warm that day even though it rained on us. My mother said to me, people say if it rains on your wedding day, its lucky!

I huffed. I pushed my drenched veil back as black mascara ran down my face. I snapped at her, I think that’s something people made up recently, so when it rains on your wedding day, you don’t feel like your marriage is doomed from the start!

“Why did you say that?” He annoyingly asks a second time.

He shifts uneasily from one foot to the other while staring down at our ceramic tiles.

Nothing screams lack of confidence, than a person who refuses to make eye contact. It’s one of his less appealing habits that he displays from time to time. When we’re having a fight like this one and he does it – it will push me a little further to say things I don’t mean.

My face twists. Thanks to him, I’m certain every one of my wrinkles is visible. I probably look like a Bulldog.

“BECAUSE IT’S TRUE!” I explode with rage.

“So, what you’re saying…. is that because I don’t do the dishes, it means I don’t love you?” He asks incredulously.

His uneasiness has disappeared. His eyes stare at me. It’s as if he’s trying to break my will with that “look.” He’s challenging me.

Stubbornly, I refuse to budge.

“Yes!” I scream.

“And…I NEVER DO THE DISHES?” He asks in a raised voice as the words splinter apart near the end.

“YES!” I counter his dramatic tone.

Even as I answer the last question, I know it’s an exaggeration on the back of a small version of the truth. It’s like on our wedding day when I declared, our wedding is ruined! Look at my hair! And your suit! We look like drowned rats!

Our wedding wasn’t ruined. White linen was draped over the tables and chairs. Red rose petals were scattered across each one of the tables. The centerpiece was made up of a single red rose surrounded by baby’s breath. The rose produced a sweet smell whenever you came close to the table. Beside the vase, was a single candle that created an even more romantic and calm atmosphere.

My new husband at the time, stood before me. His black hair glimmered from the dampness as water droplets slipped down his forehead and cheeks. He took one hand and pushed his hair back. Then he said something, and I started laughing. Something about how he wished I had worn a white t-shirt….

“I have to go to work.” The same man announces as he grabs his lunch bag with one hand, and pushes his tie to the side with the other.

I stand there motionless.

I won’t move.

Not a muscle.

My mind scurries around grabbing together the facts as I know them to be true.

I want to say: I’m sorry. I exaggerated. But really, when you said you do JUST as much as I do, was that the truth?  I know you’re tired, and you’re working a lot. I know my job’s not going well. I know you’re worried about money. I know I’m worried about my sister.

Let’s start again.

Instead I say in a miserable, dismissive, I-don’t-care tone, “FINE.”

He’s standing at our front door. He places one hand on the doorknob and swings his head in my direction. His eyes linger on me for a few minutes too long.

I always give him a goodbye kiss.

Not today.

He won’t win.

The doorknob turns. He swings the door open, disappears through it, and slams it behind him.

Once the echo of uttered angry words stops, and the ringing sound of a slamming door ends, quiet descends.

In the kitchen, I stand, alone.

Evelyn, Why I Write

Dear Evelyn,

I want you to know that I heard all those things you said to me. You know, the nights I sat with one finger that hovered above the ENTER key as you whispered in my ear, it’s not good enough. You’re out of your league. What are you doing?

I heard you. And then, despite your never-ending taunts I pushed down on that key, and off my submission went to the literary journal.  As my chest tightened, and my breathing became shallow, I turned around to see if maybe you changed your mind after I submitted the story.  Maybe now that I pushed on that key, you thought it was ok, that I tried this “writing thing.”

Instead as I glimpsed over my shoulder, I saw this: your head bent forward while you placed one hand over your face, and shook your head from right to left, with a signal of, no.

It was a look of utter disappointment.

I gulped.

I sweated.

And then, I waited.

You told me not to say a word to anyone when I first began writing. The fictional people and places that I created in my mind would slowly transform and become real to me on my computer screen. But in the beginning, I was the only one that knew about them.

I built worlds. And I created characters.

For three years, no one knew except for my husband.  I want you to know that it was hard to lie to family and friends who asked me, “What are your plans for the weekend?”

I would casually answer, “Oh, maybe I’ll go to Starbucks and read a book.” But quietly in my mind I would scream, AND WORK ON SOME WRITING PROJECTS!

We both know it was important to me that I get published in a literary journal before I revealed my secret ambitions to anyone. Then one late Sunday night, after returning home after visiting family, I perused my email and saw a response from a literary journal. I scowled at the email.  Clicked on the message, and prepared to be rejected again.

In the background, you laughed at me.

But it wasn’t a rejection.  They were ACCEPTING it. My first online publication with a literary journal called Potluck Magazine, and a short story titled, “Do You See Me?” caused me to throw my hands over my mouth as tears gathered in my eyes, and I let out a scream. A reason finally to dance, I started to spin around in circles in my office as I threw my hands up in the air and did my own amended version of the Macarena.

My husband charged up the stairs believing I was facing another catastrophic moment in my life (I guess a happy scream and a sad one, sounds the same coming from me) and he pushed the door open and said, “What happened?”

I yelled, “They accepted my story!” and continued to do some form of an ostrich dance. My husband cautiously approached me with my arms flailing about, beamed at me, and said, “That’s wonderful,” and he wrapped his arms around me.

You were wrong, Evelyn. When I finally, very slowly, began to tell my family and friends, they were happy for me. They patted me on the back proudly, and offered their congratulations.

But we both know the truth, don’t we?

It was never you.

It was me. 

Me: You can’t write. You’re not good enough. Stop wasting your time. It’s impossibly difficult. Why do you even bother? You’ll never be successful at this, “writing thing.” IT’S A LONG SHOT.

I know all these things are true. But I have rebuttals. Everyone starts somewhere. I’ll keep working on it. If I don’t try, I’ll never know. In my head, there’s a constant battle between the two sides.

Just like me, my writing is a work in progress. Just like running, I’m slow at it, and take my time.

There’s a part of me that knows I should stay in the real world. The problem is the imaginary world is so much damn fun. Creating places and people, that are quirky and weird that do odd things; or sometimes I create fictional characters and situations inspired by my life events. Finally, there are the stories based on my life.

The other problem with giving up on writing – I LOVE IT! It’s given me a voice, an imagination, a life that I always felt was impossible.

I won’t lie to you Evelyn, writing is challenging. The creating is difficult, and creating a cohesive story where you don’t accidentally place a character in France, while they are simultaneously living in New York, requires a keen eye and the ability to critique your own work and laugh at your mistakes. It’s exhausting.

Then there’s the grammar portion. Sometimes this part of it is easy and the words flow like a river. Sometimes it’s as if someone has stolen my dictionary and thesaurus, and I’m stumbling around blindly with my mouth stitched closed.

But I work at it. I struggle through the writes, re-writes, the criticism, the bank account that suffers due to the overwhelming amount of paper I go through, printer cartridges, and general stationary.

Because every now and then, maybe I’ll write something that a reader sees and says, yeah, me too! And sometimes, people will just enjoy my stories about a Hero Mouse. If through my writing, there’s just one person who likes a story, or I connect with them on a personal level because of a common experience, it makes the long hours sitting at my computer tapping away – worth it.

Evelyn – that’s why I write.

I want to thank you for always being there. Because you weren’t the one discouraging me, it was me. But even that voice, that self-doubt, allows me to blossom as a writer. By reviewing my work, I’ll look at it critically and wonder: how can I make that sentence better? How will that be interpreted by readers? Am I communicating what I meant to?  

So maybe my lack of self-confidence can be a good thing – as long as it doesn’t stop me from hitting the send button.

Your friend always,