I first heard this song, “Pretty Enough,” by Kasey Chambers, years ago, when I saw the video on VH1’s country channel. They used to show alt country, as well as the usual Nashville stuff, and this song just hit such a note with me. It stuck, even when I couldn’t remember the words or the name or who sung it, I remembered the feeling it perfectly captured. The one of wondering what was wrong with you this time, what wasn’t enough. I’ve had a few weeks of the type where you just hunker down, waiting for the next hit, wondering where it will come from, hoping it won’t be the one to take you out, wishing you had an emotional bomb shelter. I’d bought this song on iTunes finally, and played it on repeat while I tried to cry my soul out.

I don’t know why there are these periods where you feel like everything in your life is broken apart at once. Sometimes you do it on purpose, picking up what you want of your life and taking off with it, leaving the rest behind. I’ve done versions of that from time to time, sometimes it’s the only way forward. But sometimes it seems like the choice is taken from you, that fate has decreed that things will be torn down and what you get to keep will be a mystery. That’s what happened this time, like a tornado tore through. I’m trying to take stock of what’s left, while hoping the rains won’t follow and wash even more away.

I’m not one of those who thinks that drugs for mental illness change your innate personality, that would be like thinking taking insulin changes a diabetic in some important way. But the fact that as of Tuesday I will be without any kind of antidepressant in my system for the first time in over a decade is scary. I was on them for years in low doses to help prevent the migraines, before the major depression started and the meds changed and the doses went up and up. I don’t think the emotional turmoil I’m experiencing is some natural part of me the drugs had been suppressing, it’s my brain’s natural freak out at being expected to control its chemistry for the first time in years, something it wasn’t qualified for in the first place. For someone who is used to dealing with her emotions by intellectualizing and/or repressing them, being confronted with ones that refuse to be managed in any way is terrifying. My stiff upper lip gets a cramp trying to make it through Target without quietly weeping. Bitterness and spite are saving me, as I refuse to give up and let them win. Them who? my therapist asked. I don’t know, the universal Them, The Man, people who want to see me break. Pick one, pick them all.

You can’t always get what you want, and despite what The Stones say, try or not, you may not get what you need either. You get what you get. But it’s good to want things, it’s even better to know what you want. I know I want that little house in the hills, filled with books and laughter, smart babies and a true partner. Maybe even the New York Times Wedding announcement framed on the wall. I have to believe there’s someone out there who wants that too, and wants someone like me to share it. I plan on having lots of fun looking for him.

One of the hardest things in the past few weeks was getting the best interview I’ve had in the 11 years I’ve been in LA, an interview for just the job I’ve wanted all that time, assistant to a writer on a one-hour drama. It was on a good show, not one I watch regularly but good all the less, and one with subject matter I know extensively. It wasn’t just a case of saying they’d be lucky to have me, I actually knew it, felt it. And they hired someone else. It was like glimpsing Nirvana and having the door slammed in my face. And there was no window opened in exchange. I’ve been trying for this for so long now, to get there finally and be turned away was shattering. Hence crying my soul out. The damn thing won’t go, though, and it’s such a hindrance in this town. Without it, I’d have no qualms at stomping on people to get where I want, doing whatever it takes. I know there are people with souls who have made it here, I just hope my resume is “on file” in one of their offices and that they find it when they’re hiring.

In the meantime, I still have a spec pilot to finish. I owe it to my heroine, whom I just love, even though she is a challenge to write. How someone who sprung from my brain can give me so much trouble getting herself on the page is a mystery to me, but she has a mind of her own and I have to do her bidding. And I’m keeping at the blogging. My “naked emotional honesty” may terrify some, but I’m pretty chuffed to have found it, and am hoping to infuse it into my other writing. These essays flex a different writing muscle, one that had gone weak from years of underuse. When it’s stronger, I’ll give it a stretch and see what else it can do. I’ve been told that my fantasy job of reading mystery manuscripts for plot holes and such may actually exist, and pay, so I’m going to look into getting some training in copy editing, get some kind of certification to prove my knack for it. Might finally be able to make being a grammar and punctuation nerd a marketable skill.

Maybe things fell down because they were badly constructed, things I had rushed up to fill a momentary need, facades to fake what I thought was expected of me. I know the initial breakdown happened because I had shoved down so much of who I was to fit who I thought I had to be that I finally snapped. It’s tiring trying to be someone I’m not, and it didn’t get me to happiness and success. I’m searching through the rubble around me for the pieces I want, the ones that truly matter, the ones that are me and no one else. Because maybe there was nothing wrong with me this time, maybe I was just trying to fit into a place meant for someone else. To quote the great Lyle Lovett, “If I were the man that you wanted, I would not be the man than I am.”


June 28, 2010. Tags: , , . Life, the universe, and whatnot. Leave a comment.