Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tired Old Jurl

Today I feel like an old donkey that's been hauling fat tourists up and down the grand canyon for a million years. And I look like the sweaty, fat tourist on said donkey. In this mind set I should avoid magazines at all cost. So what did I do today? Perused four different fashion magazines. Page after glossy page of items I can't fit in or afford.

And what are the prime products being pushed on defenseless women all over the world via high fashion mags? Youth and perfection. And on a bad day, like today, I buy what they’re selling lock, stock, and brassiere.

Shiny, skinny, smoothed skinned women staring out of the pages with sneers that say, “Give it up, old donkey! It’s over. At your best you weren’t this beautiful and you didn’t look this young when you were a fetus! Go back to your grocery shopping and laundry because that’s all you have to look forward to—fluff and fold!”

So after flipping through the first forty pages of ads and suffering this abuse, I'm ready to kill myself. Then I realize I feel suicidal over images of fake women while children are dying in Africa and then I want to kill myself twice! How can I dwell on my big ass when there is so much suffering in the world?! Because I can. It’s my big ass and I’m compelled to agonize over its expanding proportions. And let me say, I realize I have two beautiful children and one pretty good, though domestically challenged, husband as well as a multitude of other blessings, but this isn’t about them. It’s about me. I’m not my husband. I’m not my children. So my happiness is not completed by my love for them. And I can’t feel guilty about that because I just can't.

This is about how I feel today and nothing more. And today I feel old, fat, ugly, and lame. Most days I just feel fat, but other days, like today, it's a smorgasbord of sad, shameful criticism. Thank you, Vogue.

Not that it’s really Vogue’s fault that I’m feeling gross and over the hill. I’m clearly having some “who am I?” issues. I find this state of mid-life depressing. At 35 I feel like it's all over. The best looking years are behind me. The best feeling years are behind me. The time to figure out what I want to do with my life is behind me. So what's ahead of me? The steady plod of life passing me by? Mammograms and colon checks? I'm mired in the fear that it's all over before I even got started.

I’ve always had a rich fantasy life. When I was fourteen I dreamed of learning karate and dating Ralph Macchio. These days I dream about becoming a published author and introducing myself as a “writer.” I even pretend to be appearing on Ellen or Oprah when no one can hear me giving my interview. Although, I still dream about learning karate and have added ball room dancing to my wish list.

In 2006 I told my girlfriends it was going to be the year of Me, but it was just the year of the same old me. I was even going to do ten minutes of stand-up on an open mic night. Bless my sweet friends, I think they sort of believed me. But, who am I kidding? I get nervous just walking into a crowded room, much less getting on a stage and performing in front of a crowd of people. The problem is, I really wanted to do it, but I'm paralyzed by a fear of failure and allow myself to be anchored by what I perceive as the shackles of my life. Just when would I find time to write ten minutes of material? When would I rehearse? When would I perform? I'm a busy working mom! When I get five minutes to myself I want to do something completely mindless like read or watch E!, not "work" on an alternate career. This is the same excuse I use for not finishing my book. The truth is I don't really believe there's a chance in hell that my book will ever be published so I quit and read some one's work that was good enough to get published. My problem isn't that I dream, it's that I don't do anything to make my dreams come true.

UGH! I want to break out. Break away. Break some fat off my ass. Oprah would say it’s never too late and that she feels better at 50 than ever before. So, why do I feel like I’m ready to write my obit? Because I’m afraid. It’s not that my life is really over at 35 it’s that I’m afraid I will never make a single change or get off my ass and do something about my problems, so that when it is over I will be filled with regret. What a shame- to actively contemplate your own complacency.

But, I will not do this. I will not fade into my 40s, 50s, 60s, wishing I had tried something, anything that would fill that place in me that can’t be filled by other people or material things. What I want in life is not so ridiculous. It’s not like I’m looking to be a rock star or win the Nobel Peace Prize. I want to feel a little better, look a little better, and I want to finish that freaking book. All things completely within my control. So I just need to take control.

Can I lose weight? Yes, if I really want it.

Can I still learn karate? Yes, if I really want it.

How about ball room dancing? Yes, if I really want it.

Can I finish my book? Yes, if I really want it.

Is it too late? Never, jurls, never.


35th year assessment jurl said...

let me ask you what if you try and fail? are you going to be worse off? what if you try and succeed?

jurl said...

Ah. The worst thing possible will happen if I fail. The dream will die. And writing/publishing the book is the only real dream I have left to me. If I finish I finish it and if it never goes anywhere I will wilt. And I will never attempt another book. The dream keeps hope alive that I will one day have a job I love instead of one that is slowly draining my will to live. So, death of a dream, wilting of my soul, and a lifetime sentence of lawyering is the worst that could happen. But, that's just the worst case scenario. I'm such a Pollyanna I don't how anyone stands me!

jurl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FeeneyMama said...

Have we ever discussed the fact that I have loved Zima for many, many years? Not to brag, but my home town of Nashville was one of the test markets for Zima back in the early 90's, and for the first year of test marketing when it was still unavailable nationwide I carried multiple six packs from Nashville back to Dallas after law school holiday breaks so I'd have my fave booze to drink at law school parties- yes, I BYOZ'd. I have called the Zima hotline to compliment them on their fine beverage. I have Zima paraphrenalia displayed in my home. I truly love it. And I thought I was alone, as I am liberally mocked by one and all. How did we never know this about each other? How have we never been out quaffing Zimas together? Next time I'm in Dallas we're going out for Zimas, you n' me. We'll probably have to go to Milo's or some other college bar to get them, but that's cool. Just you, me n' Z! PS-- your blog rox.

Anonymous said...

I am getting to see a whole new side of you, not that I really know you on a perosonal level. You are such an interesting and caring person, and so real. I think you are a fabulous writer. Don't let the dream die. Maybe you will never have a published book, maybe you will, but you will get to look back and say, I did that, I took that chance! Don't look at yourself as a failure if your book does not get published, but look as yourself as a success for reaching for your dream and completing something as awesome as writing a book, something you obviously love. Where would the author of Harry Potter be if she never took that chance? Write from your heart as you do on this blog and I know you will be a success.

Mom to the travelilng circus said...

Not to sound cliché but it is sort of like the old wise tell. "It is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all." What would be worst? Try and fail or give up all together.
In some ways we are in the same boat. I want so badly to make a difference in this world (no matter how small). I keep promisng myself I am going to put me first, but with three kids, I just get lost in the shuffle. My husband thinks I should take some classes figure out what I want to be when our kids are grown, so that I will have some sort of calling. Truthfully, I have no desire to ever go back to college, I always hated school. At the moment my calling is making sure my house does not fall apart, and that the boys can get to soccer, football or baseball, kids get to and from school and the baby's diaper gets changed. I freak at the thought of not being there in a crisis. Ever since my first son was born I have irrational fear and anxiety of separation. I want to be home but I also want to feel fulfilled. I know that I can't put that expectation on my children, but for know they are my reason for everything I do. How do I shift into something more balanced, so that when I become so frustrated with being stuck in the house all day I am not a B*tch to my husband because he has been in the real world all day, taking clients to lunch and having uninterupted adult conversation. I
am lacking serious passion in my life. Of course I have passion for my kids and all of their endeavors. But what about me. I can't even find time to go to the gym.
I also lack the motivation to change. And in some ways I have become comfortable in this life. Then there we were last night at Chili's'and my 11 month old is acting like a banchee, we have to play musical chairs in the middle of the appetizer. I spilled the queso all down my white shirt, my husband spilled his beer in his lap while trying to help my four year old with his drink lid. Then not even a minute after our food arrive my 4 yr old has to use the bathroom (never fails) but ended up throwing up when he got there. Can you say OMEN! Is this really what my life has become? I keep telling myself when my daughter starts school that will be when I will find my passion. But I wonder what my excuse will be then. Am I already setting myself up to fail? If I don't try something then I could die tomorrow miserable. I need to get up off my but and try, even if it is just being more involved at church.

I guess it is time to decide if we can love ourselves enough to change. I think I am going to try. Baby steps.

Anonymous said...

Jurl - if this was your daughter saying this, what advice would you give her?

jurl said...

I hear ya. I would tell my daughter to put up or shut-up. At least I've figured out that I really want to be a writer. (Circus Mom- that's a recent discovery. You'll find your passion when you lest expect it and you may even be surprised by what it is.) So I submit to my jurls that I WILL finshish the book and, in the words of my dear friend Syd, pull my head out of my ass (so good to have such supportive friends. I may even add a blog to the section to keep a tally of how much I've done. Thanks for "listening" jurls.

Anonymous said...

Terribly upsetting for me to read. I have always thought of you of someone that when she wants to do something, she simply does it. It makes me cry to think that you are unhappy. I just hope that you are only in a temporary funk and will feel much better soon. Remember when we met, we were what.. 21? So, about 13/14 years have gone by, and you know what, we are still us, you are still the same jurl. So, if you want a change, really want a change, then make it happen. I have all the faith in the world in you! Jurl, HAVE THE GUTS TO FAIL!!!

Love, Robin

Anonymous said...

I am with Robin, have the guts to fail! We all should

35th year assessment jurl said... said...

right on sisters.

35th year assessment jurl said...

to look at it another way...what might you gain if you try? phenominal success? creative satisfaction? the life you spend your time dreaming of?

jurl said...

alright! alright! I wrote ten pages today and if I work really hard all week I just might finish it (the first draft). I'm that close. Then I will try to get each of you to purchase it for two dollars. I'll make a whole ten dollars!

Mom to the Traveling Circus said...

That would be ten dollars you didn't have yesterday. I bet we would all pay more than that. It is awesome that you are so close. My fingers are crossed. It will be great I am sure, you have amazing talent.