Wednesday, May 26, 2010

my 15 minutes of anonymity

My BEA experience lasted all of 15 minutes. I got there, got my press pass and got a phone call from Jack's teacher about chaperoning the class trip to Lincoln Center. I'd volunteered weeks ago but never received confirmation. Turns out I did but never saw it. So, I hopped in a cab and headed home.

I haven't been on a trip all year and this means so much to him. And at BEA I'm nobody. A faux reporter. I was overwhelmed at all the purposeful people milling about, toting rolling suitcases, carrying stacks of stuff. Waiting for special events. To meet authors.

I'm am author. No one's waiting to meet me.

Last year I came to BEA so excited about FLOW and the thought that this year I'd be someone, a presence, a worthwhile entity. Looking back over the past year it's mind-boggling to remember all that's happened. And yet, at least at BEA I'm in the same place. An anonymous (in a very loud vintage dress) spectator, not a participant.

It's moments like these I want to give up. That I feel like a complete loser. That nothing I've done or accomplished means anything.

I feel like why bother. Maybe field trips are my destiny. Maybe selling potato chips at a middle school play is what I'm meant to be doing. Maybe the universe is telling me, not so subtly, that my ideas aren't worthwhile, that what I put out there isn't worth the effort, that if I was supposed to be writing I wouldn't still be a nobody.

Yesterday I had the most offbeat astrology reading ever. It started out with me making a collage out of NY Times images and then spending 2 plus hours talking about how the images fit together to reflect my current state of mind and my astrological chart. The gist of the conversation, which was actually quite introspective and enlightening, is that I have to learn to put myself first, to nurture, to love, to appreciate and heal. That I can't keep being at the bottom of the list. That my voice, my ideas are supposed to come out into the world and I have to stop stopping that from happening. That the drama of my family is mine too and I have to find ways of letting it go, of stepping away, of emotionally freeing myself from the angst and pain and guilt. That fear is turning me into a seething volcano and I will destroy myself if I don't find a different way to be.

That was yesterday. I came home with glimmers of hope.

Today I was woken up at 6:30 by a very cranky kid freaking out about homework. I left my house at 7:30 to get lost in a sea of people who belong where I don't. I grappled with putting me or my child first and chose, as usual, my child.

This battle is so hard. Roadblocks are constantly thrown at me, keeping me from getting to a better place. I don't know how to not be here. I don't know how to nurture myself.

I don't know how to take care of myself.

I don't know what to do next.

I don't want this journey to always be this hard.


Caroline said...

I think for all women it is tough to put ourselves first, I guess it's the social norm, the media barrage with us bringing home the damn bacon and frying it up in the damn pan (hate that image), all while looking fantastic. No we are humans with maybe a special ability to nurture, but maybe not, I know nurturing men as well. My point is, somehow we are still considered second; second to men, children, work, life. I really liked Judy Clement Wall's post: I know you are a writer, so the morning pages are probably nothing new to you, but what I like is her battle with that little voice. We all have one, we all fight with it, I think we always will. Try kicking yours to the curb. You are a fabulous writer, you "belong" wherever writers belong and you cannot let that little stupid voice boss you around, OK? xo :o)

Carla Ray said...

I find this statement a bit troubling and quite revealing: "this year I'd be someone, a presence, a worthwhile entity."

Sounds like you are seeking validation outside of yourself. Fine, but you have to be prepared for such disappointments.

Do you REALLY want to make an impact? There are a million ways to do it and most of them not so very glamorous. They take place on small stages and not in big arenas with bright lights.

Anonymous said...


Elissa Stein said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I wasn't talking about in the context of the world as a whole, I meant a presence as a writer talking about a subject I strongly believe people should be talking about. Conversations about FLOW, women's history, our evolving place in society are important whether it's one on one or me and a room full of people. Small stages are often the most meaningful. No stage at all can be frustrating.

quin browne said...

Yo! Anon!! Elisa is a writer, I am a writer... and I can tell you from our souls--if you don't put your name on your words, they don't mean jack shit.

SO, meh.

Elisa... I've been living by this statement:

"You can't take care of others until you take care of need balance and joy in your life."

This is the modern way of saying, "If Momma ain't happy--no body is happy."

MOLLYC said...

Whine all you want. Who is the owner of your blog, anyway? And by the way, anyone who has ever had a rough patch in life can empathize with you. It is very, very hard to be a Mom and a career person. My love to you as always. molly

Megan Potter said...

I just wanted to say:

I TOTALLY understand what you are saying here. I'd be happy to provide the matching "Been There, Done That" Tees if it would make you feel better :).