Let me tell you a story.
Credit: It’s a short story within “The Nobodies Album.” That book itself is a novel, with a small collection of short stories throughout that build on the theme of the actual novel. And I’m going to completely go all spoiler on one of the short stories, but there is no spoiler for the novel as a whole. This short story alone is really a great look at humanity, and worth the entire cost of the book I promise.
It’s called “The Human Slice”, about a world where everyone forgets all the unhappy memories. No one knows why. But the rare few who remember, those people are called The Heavies, because they’re such downers! Why would anyone want to bring up the unhappy past?
One family had a trauma just before the memories were taken – a toddler dying. But the family forgets, and only the grandma remembers, the only Heavy. The grandma reminds them of their past, and they all have various feelings of hearing it – some wanting to live in blissful ignorance, some wanting to know like really know their own past as their own. As this short story progresses, we find out a lone granddaughter remembers too, and is simply pretending to be like everybody else. Happy. Blissful. Forgetful.
When they visit the scene of the accident, the grandma finds the girl in tears. It’s almost like a reuniting for them. They are once again together to suffer their grief, no longer in it alone. It’s hopeful. They can finally chat about the memories together, work through it together. And then, the ending. The granddaughter wakes up to breakfast and asks grandma – “Will you take me to put flowers on Jonah’s grave?” and grandma says, “Who’s Jonah?”
Boom! What an ending! She forgot, ya’ll! I rarely have the urge to throw a book across the room, but I was so close with that. SO GOOD! and so terrifying. The granddaughter finally admits her secret and has a companion to grieve with, and the memories are taken from yet another! Which leads us to think “poor granddaughter” of course, but also what is going on in the world and will it not stop until no sad memory is left?
So why am I telling you this tragically beautiful story? Because sometimes I forget that pain isn’t the end. That sorrow being taken away isn’t the answer.
The story brings up so many quandaries, of people no longer knowing what dangers they have encountered. Kids punch other kids and say “It’s okay, they won’t remember it later.” Students don’t remember the sad parts of history to take the test, but obviously repercussions go further than that. An abused wife would never remember to hide from her husband and call 911. A teenager would consider getting back together with the boyfriend who cheated on her.
Sometimes sorrow is a protector.
But also, sometimes sorrow is proof you’re living, proof you’re human.
The mother in the above story kept asking to be retold the story of her toddler, because she couldn’t remember her own son. Every morning she’d awake having forgotten again. She’d forgotten something so much a part of her. She couldn’t move on, because she didn’t have a memory to return to.
I’m an introspective, intuitive, analytical, and emotional person. I cry too easily, I hurt too easily. And sometimes I just want a break.
I once apologized to my boyfriend – “Sorry. Most people wouldn’t cry over something so little.” I don’t remember what it was I was crying about then, but I’m sure it was true. I’ve cried over him having only refrigerated butter instead of room temperature, so case in point.
You know what he said? “Maybe other people should. Maybe you’re supposed to feel this much and you’ve got it right.”
I don’t necessarily agree with him – I remember quite distinctly thinking “No, absolutely no one should cry because [insert ridiculous reason here.]” But he was thoughtful, and he did have a point.
That it’s okay to feel, even alot. And I shouldn’t wish it away for the world, because it’s a part of living.
Plan A was to write this blogpost about Plan B. Then my boyfriend said, “Not like going to the pharmacy for Plan B?” and then Plan B was to preface this blogpost with this paragraph. No, it has nothing to do with pharmacy plan B! Okay, now that we’ve got that cleared up…..
Plan A was to call this post “The Beauty of Plan B” and it’d be like that inspirational basic chick type post. Plus there’s the alliteration of “The Beauty of Plan B.” It flows off the tongue so nicely.
But Plan B doesn’t flow so nicely. It’s more like “The Blehhhh of Plan B.” It’s inconvenient. It forces ya into going its direction when Plan A was all meadows of daisies, and Plan B is a little prickly and a little messy.
Two roads diverged and I….I was incessantly pushed away from the road less traveled and fell into this second path that just wasn’t it, grrrr, why can’t I just go this epic less-traveled dream life way?!?
Oops, end rant.
But seriously, I am the poster child of Plan B.
- I was going to teach English until I realized I didn’t want to teach in a structured classroom setting, so I dropped the Education part of my degree and landed with an English Lit degree. What am I to do with that, right?! I didn’t know either, I just knew I liked what I was learning.
- At the last minute, I decided that Amy’s Big Plan for Her Life was to become a copyeditor at a fiction publishing company to support writing on the side. In case you missed the memo, full-time writer isn’t an instantaneous career and the publishing industry isn’t exactly prevalent in central IL. I fell into – would ya know it – teaching.
- And I fell in love with that job – Youth Education Specialist at the Red Cross – until that job ceased to exist and I had to reevaluate my life. And I fell into the role of Executive Assistant, where I loved the people and certain aspects of the job, but I still heard the writerly life calling. I was tinkering with my novel with what spare energy I had and searching job sites for a copyeditor position at a fiction publishing company.
- I vowed for years that I wouldn’t get swept up into this local Christian job vortex called Samaritan Ministries. I had a number of friends working there that every time the above plan A’s didn’t pan out, they’d tell me I should apply for a job at Samaritan. But noooo, that’s not a fiction publishing company copyeditor job. I wasn’t gonna “settle” for “less” than my dream. But I was also feeling stuck. I just wanted to be writing and editing and be paid for it. And so I fell into Plan B – copywriting and copyediting for Samaritan, a Christian approach to health care. Not quite fiction publishing, but at least I got the first half of my dream job description right 😉
- and that’s where I am now. And it’s good. I like it. In fact, I got paid to write an article, so it’s a great start.
Plan B is a little frustrating. The pharmacy kind and the life trajectory kind. It’s not The Plan, but it just keeps coming up anyway. Sometimes destiny knows what it’s doing though. It might be a little like Kuzco’s trip instead of like Izma’s, but don’t we all wanna be the pseudo-good guy anyway?
I’m not saying let’s do Plan B forever. I’m just saying let’s try to enjoy the detour a bit. Maybe relax on the trek with Pacha while trying to avoid being murdered, maybe enjoy the weirdness of being a llama and try not to eat the disgusting bug but enjoy the fun disguises. That sorta thing 😉
I’m not sure when it happened. There’s no moment I can pinpoint, no catalyst to blame. Or maybe there’s too many. Did it happen when I lost my dream? When I lost my community? When I lost my future?
The symptoms, the evidence piles up against me. I’m out of control. To be blunt, I’ve gained weight, I’ve lost friends, I avoid gatherings, I’ve neglected my blog, I’ve postponed my writing/teaching, and I failed a dream I’ve been working toward for 4 years.
But this isn’t supposed to be a pity party. I haven’t lost everything (for instance, I haven’t lost weight…haha. ha. ha. I know, not funny…). I am discouraged, but I’m not gone. I am discouraged.
The thing is, we don’t go through this life unscathed. There’s some days I just don’t know if I can make it, but an easy life isn’t promised and I’m not sure that’s one I’d want anyhow.
I’m still working on myself. I’m still working on my dreams. I’m still working on looking past myself to all the other people in this world I can care for. I’m still working. I’m still here.
Those picture-perfect people who are the epitome of grace and beauty? You know the ones….You’ve got them on your facebook because they’re friends, but also to remind you that you’re not who you’re supposed to be, not yet. But when we enroll in a battle, when we’re fighting for something, it’s not pretty. We’re not necessarily gonna be pretty. We’re gonna be scarred and bruised and calloused and somehow still beautiful.
Some warriors have frazzled hair and cautious steps. That’s me. I’m not supposed to be this way, but if that’s the wound I carry from battling for love, for dreams, for life, then I’ll take it.
I’ll limp my way through and believe that somehow at the end I will come out “a pure and spotless bride without wrinkle.” I don’t know how I go from broken to spotless. I don’t know how I go from weary to youthful. But it’s my hope. And until then, I’m broken yet beautiful.
My goal of writing 1000 words this weekend flopped. Due to a minor personal crisis. Sure, I could write through crises, I mean that’s what we’re supposed to do. But I was a slacker.
Lucky for me, I was venting my problems to my friend and unofficial business manager, Yasmeen. Out of the blue she said, “What would Analiese say to you right now?”
“Suck it up!” was my response.
And despite my not writing practically anything this weekend, there was one thing I wrote:
What My Characters Would Say About My [& Your] Problems
In case you wondered what characters think, in case you wondered what it’s like to pour your problems out at a Freaks Anonymous meeting, in case you wanted some group therapy, here ya go:
- Mrs. Trencher – “Hush hush, someone may hear. We’ll get you to a Doctor, get this fixed right up.”
- Mr. Trencher – *buries head in book*
- Dr. Wise – “Is that all? Not fascinating at all. Dr. Evil can fix you right up.”
- Dr. Evil – “Is that all? I don’t give a wit about you, all I care about is ol’ Gep, but of course I can get you a right fascinating problem for that coot Wise if I really wanted.”
- Geppetto – “There, there. I’m sure we can work this out for all of us. You just need family. We’ll be your family” *hands over lifelong contract for me to sign*
- Sylas – “What’d you expect, a couple freaks like us?”
- Analiese – “Suck it up, you spoiled rich brat. Suck. It. Up. Poooor you, you have it soooo hard. Deal with it.”
- Phoebe – “Well I suppose I can’t say I understand where you’re at. Never will, never can at least. That must be rough, I’m so sorry.”
- Nick – “It’ll be a’ight. Give it time. You’ll get used to us.”
- Sullivan – *nods head empathetically, saunters off ‘cause no one’s looking*
- RaeChae – “Get over yourself, we need to do something. There’s a bigger problem. Get rid of big problem, maybe little you problem goes away. Now, what’s the plan?”
- Jasper – *hands The Forgettable some paper and pen*
- The Forgettable – *scribbles note* “Read this once I’m gone.” *Leaves* Note says: “For Freedom: get out now!”
- Narrator – “Maybe it’s good I can’t remember. Maybe I’d have more problems. But maybe having a reason for problems is worth it…?”
- Julia – “Wow, you just throw it all out there, yeah? Dump it on anyone who will listen? Hmmm. Well, let’s get you out of this mess.” *leaps right into the ‘mess’ before making a plan*
What About YOU?
What do you think your favorite character (not just from my unpublished book) would say about life’s problems?
And which of my characters do you think you’re most like when responding to someone’s life problems?