Musings, and a big-ass goal

The second half of last year really wore me down. Well, let’s be honest, the first half did, too. I feel like I spent an entire year not knowing who I was. I forgot how to dream. I wonder, is it possible to ever reach a point in your life when you know exactly who you are, what you are all about, and where you are going? Is that even desirable? I don’t know. I see people who make me think they have got it together, like they never have a moment of crisis or indecision, never need to just sit and stare at a wall for a little while. I want to be one of those people, but I feel like I am still trying to figure out who I am. Now, many people who know me will disagree with this. They will say, “Oh, you are so self-possessed, you know exactly who you are and what you are all about,” but they are just confused because I have opinions about almost everything and am loud. Do my opinions make me who I am? I think not.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, of the soul-searching variety. Like, what do I want to be when I grow up? How do I want to spend my time, what is important to me? What kind of parent do I want to be? And on a more superficial level, should I keep that cute pair of shoes I bought even though I want to be a minimalist (a chic minimalist, mind you) and live simply? These are the things that keep me up at night. Well, these things and my bad habits, but it’s so much easier to blame an overactive mind than bad habits. Much less guilt-inducing.

One of the things I came up with in my soul-searching, or rather, one of the things I returned to, is my lifelong desire to write a book. I have always, for as long as I can remember, wanted to be a writer. I wrote a lot of bad poetry and fiction during the angsty years of adolescence, toyed with the idea of getting an MFA when I was in my twenties, and finally realized that what I really want is to write a memoir. I don’t know how to go about this. I know that I don’t want it to be self-indulgent. I want it to be interesting and to help other people see things in themselves that maybe they have been ignoring or perhaps didn’t even know were there. I thought that I should start by writing short essays about specific events in my life, to help me figure out how to approach the telling of a larger story. To help me figure out what the larger story is. I always get stuck on that part, but I figure maybe I just have not lived long enough to have a story yet…but in many ways that is just a crap excuse. I need to buckle down and just start writing some stuff, because I’ll never get anywhere just by dreaming a lot and being a perfectionist. Maybe I should title my memoir, “Paralyzed by Perfection.”

I listen to The Moth podcast a lot, especially when I am cooking or doing dishes. I imagine that it must be so fun, so satisfying, to tell a story at The Moth. Somehow I came up with the idea that it would be a good exercise for me, in terms of writing and storytelling, to tell at story at one of The Moth StorySLAMS. But then I thought, well, anyone can tell a story at a StorySLAM, all you have to do is have your name picked out of a hat. But then I remembered that the stories are judged and there are winners. So it was decided, and I have a new goal. This might actually be my only goal since most of my other “goals” are really just to-do list items that I am pretending are goals so I don’t have think about what I really want out of life. Anyway, here it is, stated clearly so I can’t fool anyone, or more importantly, fool myself:

I want to tell a story at one of The Moth StorySLAMs in NYC, and win.

This scares me and makes my heart do a little flutter, so I know I’ve hit the target. Brian and I have been talking about dropping Dylan at his grandparents’ house in PA for a few days this summer and going up to NYC to visit friends. I think we need to make this trip a reality and schedule it around a StorySLAM.

2 Comments

  • That’s a fantastic goal Jessica! I am sure if you tell a story anything like you write one, you WILL win! Good luck – keep us followers posted 😉

  • I’m sorry you’ve had a tough year. But you know what gives me hope? That someone who is such a fantastic, devoted mother has goals and dreams for *herself*, not just her son. One of my biggest fears about having a child is that I would lose sight of myself and focus all my energy on his or her future. It’s encouraging to know one can still be supermom (like yourself!) and also have ambitions to accomplish major dreams.

    I am so excited to get to support YOU in such an amazing endeavor! This sounds so cool. (I need to check out the Moth podcast BTW – thanks for the recommendation.)

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