Coming out of the closet

I’ve been struggling to write.  I haven’t been especially inspired.  Really it all began with the shutting down of Single in the Southwest.

That was my choice – yes it was, in many ways – but to be totally honest, I hated ending that blog. It still exists, it’s just that I don’t write there any more and no one has access to it unless I allow it.

My Ex, T-dub, hated Single. Vehemently.

And I sort of can’t blame him, yet I repeatedly explained the math to him – stop giving me so much to write about and I will quit publicly raking you over the coals. I thought it was simple, yet apparently he didn’t see it that way.

In a moment of, I’m not sure what, frustration? indignation? I got so sick of him and his oh poor me I am such a victim of her writing act that I decided to rid the world of Single in the Southwest.

I understand why I did it and in the moment it seemed like the right thing to do – for the children.

Not that I believe the children were being hurt by anything I had to say – they didn’t even care about the blog – but T said that he would cooperate and be respectful if the blog was gone so poof! gone.

And I called his bluff. He “spoke” to me one time after that – ONE TIME.

And that was via text and just enough to inform me that no, he would not be paying his portion of the kids medical bills.

That was a year ago.

Could I have had my First Amendment Rights upheld in a court room? Probably. I certainly wasn’t writing anything that wasn’t true.images-2

I didn’t lie about him calling me a whore. I didn’t lie about him dying his chest hair. I didn’t make it up when he threatened me in public – in front of the kids and their entire football team – screaming that I had failed my children.

I also didn’t only write about him. There was a series on vibrators, quite a bit about parenting teenagers, and the one about work that almost cost me my job. And yet, he thought it was all about him.

Typical.

So yes, there was a good chance that I could have kept on typing away but I grew tired of the fight.

I also had a lot of fear. What if a Judge saw me as a bad parent because I wrote the things that I wrote? What if we stood in a courtroom and the Judge agreed that I was harming the children with my words? What if the judge called me a whore?

Then, the moment preceding the moment where I threw my hands up in the air yelling “I give up,” T was in the middle of insisting that of course, the blog could stay, but that he would be able to determine if anything that I wrote was suitable or acceptable.

In other words he believed that he should have final editorial approval before I hit “Publish.”

C.E.N.S.O.R.S.H.I.P.

Fuck that noise.

So, Blog – Gone.

Writer’s block – here for the long haul.

One of my greatest sadnesses when I look back over the years is realizing just how much of my life has been run by fear – primarily fear of him.

I have this deep anxiety-producing paranoia of getting in trouble which most likely started when, surprise surprise, I was a young kid and didn’t want to get in trouble.

Unfortunately I lived my marriage in a way that created the same dynamic. And then it showed up in a few other areas of my world, like work, and suddenly it became crippling.

I’d like to say that it became the litmus test for all decisions that I made, but the truth is, it didn’t.

I’m still independent and feisty enough to not let anyone else tell me what I can and cannot do.

I just suffered the consequences afterwards. In other words, I got in trouble.

So with my kids’ well-being at stake, I cowered in the face of fear and shut my trouble making mouth.

And in the process, shut myself right down.

But things are shifting for me. Or I actually need them to shift and so here is a step that will hopefully take me in that direction.

Over the last couple of years and the last few court hearings, I have come out on top – way on top. I have seen that the court system may be really flawed, but if you get a wise judge who is also a parent, sometimes things work out the way that they should; the way that is actually best for the children and…fair.

With the freedom of a few wins and watching a judge put him in his place and validate that I am a good mother, I am able to shed some of my fears.

So today, I am taking a monumental step. I am coming out of hiding.

Have I thought this through?

Probably not thoroughly enough, but I tend to be impulsive anyway.

I’m sick of the fear. I am sick of hiding. Sick to death of handing my power over to him. And living in secrecy has been doing just that.

So, today, I will link HDD to my own Facebook page.

And right here, right now I will say:

I , Suzanne Strazza, am High Desert Darlin, the artist formerly known as Single in the Southwest.

And I am a writer, a mother, a lover.

I am exercising my First Amendment rights.

And I am free.

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Your very bad grammar

I’ve been so good.

I’ve been totally behaving myself.

I haven’t ranted or raved or made fun of them for quite some time.

I’m really trying to just ignore them completely.

But I just can’t help myself – they’re too easy. It’s like they are begging for ridicule…

…or at least a hearty smack down by the Grammar Police.

First, the overuse of the word “rather” – 3 times, 2 sentences.

Then, “diseased” instead of “deceased” – Wow. Just. Wow.

But this:

I understand that the complexities of two-syllable words might just be too much but seriously, can’t you figure out “I” versus “Me”???????????????????

Come on, Grammar 101, folks.

Binging

What is it about the word “budget” that makes me want to hit the mall?

At least Amazon and PRANA dot com.

All I want is new shit to wear in my poverty: new things to distract me from my empty stomach. All under the guise of  “If I dress like a writer then I will be a writer and then I will write the Great American Novel and make it onto the New York Times Best Seller List and it will be totally worth the new yoga pants. And, if I don’t get those cute pants, then when it’s time to sit down and write all I will have to wear is distractingly uncomfortable clothing that will not allow my brain the freedom it needs to put words on paper.”

So yeah, I need to shop.

Most of the time, online window shopping works for me. I go to multiple websites, spend hours finding just the right items (including the solar powered rechargeable battery charger for my new wireless mouse that goes with my new desktop computer) fill up my shopping basket, narrow it down, then close the page and leave feeling totally satisfied.

But when I am on this tight of a budget, the kind where I am not allow to spend any money on any thing except living expenses, a few full carts doesn’t make a dent in the need to spend.

Eventually I’ll get into the groove, I will enjoy seeing how much money I can save. Having been extremely successful at denying myself food for several years, I can easily starve my spending habits and gain a little pride with every penny that lands in the piggy bank.

It’s just that getting to the place of sensible self denial takes a lot of tenacity that I’m not really feeling today as much as I am the need to have a new dress to wear on my book tour.

 

The day I’ve been waiting for all of my life

Or at least as long as I have been evolved enough to appreciate the genius of David Sedaris.

I’ll admit, the first time I heard his voice on NPR, I hit scan. It was nasally and effeminate and what I perceived as a tiny bit whiney.

Then, one day I heard him talking about living in France and missing hearing English and the highlight of his day being when he tuned into NPR and heard Terry Gross say “Fresh Air,” and I was hooked.

And for all I know, it didn’t happen that way and he said he couldn’t stand Terry Gross and maybe it wasn’t even David Sedaris, but this is how it has played in out my mind over and over, so now it’s truth.

And I have no idea how I came across “Me Talk Pretty One Day” – maybe it was on the new release shelf at the library, maybe I heard Terry Gross talking about it, maybe Scott Simon. I’ll never remember, which is somewhat sad because it was a pivotal moment in my life and  I like to remember those moments that changed my existence forever.

Shit. I had a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old when it was published. I honestly can’t believe I found time to read.

But that was at the time in my life when I would announce to the entire household, “Mamma has to poo,” and then run into our tiny bathroom where I could sit on the pot and rest my head on the edge of the sink and breathe, trying to remember that I liked my family. Occasionally I did some reading in there too so that could be how I found time for Talking Pretty.

I actually hardly ever pooed

I was enjoyed it from the get-go, but when I got to the story about Easter and the Flying Bell…

Changed perspective on the world.

And, this is when I decided that I would become the Female David Sedaris.

If you have not read Jesus Shaves, you must.

I have since devoured, multiple times, every word that he has produced.  I have come to find great comfort in his snarky little voice; his brilliance has become my guiding light.

I want to live in France.

I want Hugh.

Once, I was asked to teach a writing class for teenagers. My first class was awkward, as always; angsty teenage girls (only girls, as no teenage boy would EVER sign up for a writing class, after school, for no credit) many of them homeschooled, so incredibly uncomfortable in an 8×8 room with other people, then Breakfast Club Ally Sheedy was in there as well as the two besties who wrote “fiction” about each other’s love lives.

I began the class by talking about “Voice” and finding one’s own voice in writing. I read several bits from different authors not only as examples, but as eye-openers into a world of stories that didn’t involve blood-sucking, glitter-glued vampires.

I saved my favorite for last: Jesus Shaves.

Again, a must-read. At least watch the video.

In brief, the story is about French class, in France, with people whose only thing in common was that they all had other languages as firsts and were trying to communicate in a second one about, Easter.

I won’t say anything to ruin it for you, but I will say that if someone was Jesus-sensitive, it could be a bit offensive.

Which is what I began to think, about 1/2 way through my reading, and watching the faces of the sisters-with-religious-hair go from timid smiles, to shock, to horror, to “You’re going to burn in Hell, Teacher.”

And I didn’t know what to do.

It was like that time I was waiting tables and I was really stoned and for the first time in my service career, I carried four water glasses, instead of the inconvenient three, in my diminutive hands to a table of thirsty middle-aged vacationers.  I was so excited that I began telling them about my tiny hands handicap and how it’s been plaguing me for years. Half way through that, the part of my brain that wasn’t connected to my mouth said, “Honey, they know you’re stoned. You should stop.”

But the problem was, I couldn’t. To do so would have been even more awkward that the rambling telling of the victory.

So I finished my litany and skulked away to the kitchen to do a bong hit.

And that’s how I felt with the ass-length braids staring up at me. What was I to say, “Oh my, have I offended thee?”

So I rambled on, rushing through, just to end this torturous moment. But then I got to the bit about the bell and I couldn’t contain myself. It began as a giggle and soon became a cackle, then a roar. I tried to contain it, but then snot came out of my nose, so I gave up.

Fuck the Bible Sisters. Fuck Ally Sheedy. Fuck the latent lesbians.

Fuck teenage girls.

So years later, here I am, bouncing in my seat because in just 11 hours and 7 minutes, I will be sitting in my front row seat (because I did buy the first two tickets sold) gazing adoringly, and listening raptly to this man who is my soulmate. I know, too, that he is going to look at me and think “I’ll be she’s funny – I want to be her friend. She’s probably a brilliant writer too.” and after the show, he will ask me to be pen pals so we can exchange witty observations on humanity and he will offer to introduce me to Scott Simon, then suggest that we read together on Weekend Edition, just wouldn’t that be a hoot.

I am so excited about tonight, and have been since I first heard of his appearance, that I am am actually becoming a tiny bit sad because it’s almost over.

And I have so much angst about meeting and him not having the space to really to know me until it’s too late and he’s back in his hotel room missing out. Or worse, not meeting him at all.

MyAdorablyCuteBoyfriend is a saint because he is acting very enthusiastic about this night but when I said, “You might not like him,” he responded, “I already figure that I won’t,” but he’s going with me anyway and might even wear a bow-tie.

So now I am down to 10 hours and 59 minutes and I’m thinking that I better stop writing and go scour my closet so I can find just the right attire to meet the coolest uncool man I’ll ever know.

 

Roget

roget

I love him.

Backstory: I’ve been in a foul humor lately and trying to figure out some things in my life because I need some changes. Something bigger than the dead friend’s dog. Bigger than finding 8 eggs in the henhouse instead of 2, and bigger than sitting on my ass and not running for the last month.

I know, hard to beat.

So I started picking through all of the things in my life that make me feel bad about myself, of which there are many, and many of them can’t be changed overnight, if ever, and tried to come up with one thing I could do that might bring in a little light.

One particular area which offers many opportunities for self-flagellation is the fact that I am not using my god given gift of writing except to entertain myself every once in a while. I’ve completely fizzled out into the land of writers who have either been blocked or just plain given up.

First step, start some consistency in the journal.  Next step, pick up the pace with the blog. After that, start being regular with my 11-year-old column. Then, find some freelance work. Segue into pushing the comfort zone with submissions.

And yes, this is all feeling good.  It’s kind of the bright spot of my day when I can create a blog post or respond to an editing gig.

And then today, I came home sick, and I actually do feel like shit, but I’m also excited to be at home writing rather than at work doing data entry, which is what I was working on when my head started to hurt, and I sat down to write and I needed a word and instead of going to Dictionary.com, I actually ran upstairs and got my friend Roget, who has been sitting on the shelf, ignored, for over a year now.

And even after all of this time, he is still speaking to me.

And as I grabbed him off the shelf, “The Glamour of Grammar” called out to me in her compelling voice, so she came down to the kitchen with me too, and here the three of us sit, getting reacquainted, and I realize that, in this particular arena of change, by inviting my old friends to sit down at the table, I’m on my way back.

Man of My Dreams

I had a total swoon moment last night.

Something I was reading reminded me of high school english and Charles Dickens.

I said, “Now there’s a book I want to reread – A Tale of Two Cities.”

His response, “It was the best of times…”

Pitter. Patter.

Total Overwhelm

I am truly a pinhead when it comes to social networking.

With my last blog and a basic Facebook page, I was able to Write. Publish. Automatically post on FB. View.

It took me about a year and half to figure out all of that. Thing is, I wasn’t trying to keep anything secret, so my friends were my blog audience and faithful readers and I could contact anyone I wanted through the blog or Facebook because there was no masking my identity. My print by-line even gave the web address.

And look at where that got me… Divorce and Custody Court.

It also almost got me fired because I mentioned that talking to a certain client got me wet.

So, there is definitely an upside to anonymity.

The downside all revolves around reaching readers.

At first I thought that if I just built it they would come.

That didn’t happen.

Then I thought that if High Desert Darlin’ had her own Facebook page, that people would stumble across it and congratulate themselves on their discovery.

Didn’t happen either.

Also had to come up with another name because I couldn’t figure out how to get around the fake name filter.

So then someone  suggested a secret group on Facebook through my real Facebook page, which I have created.

I only included a few folks who I can totally totally trust. A couple of them seemed thrilled, others haven’t even acknowledged their special status.

But beyond sending out invitations, I can’t figure out anything else. My biggest struggle is how to get my posts from here to show up for the secret group without showing up for all the world to see.

Part of the problem is that I have terrible ADD and once something gets even the tiniest bit frustrating, I move on.

So, to be quite honest, I have 4 Facebook pages, 3 separate blogs and 2 twitter accounts. I spend a lot of time signing into Facebook as one person so that I can see what shows up on another identity’s public page.  Yesterday I friended and unfriended myself 7 times and logged in and out at least 22 times.

This is fucking ridiculous.

The Bee across the street seems to be able to help – if I can only find the time to get over there.

I want so badly to figure this out and feel like a totally hipster writer. I also want, so badly, to be able to write as just little ol’ me without having to worry about the repercussions.

I really just want to twitch my nose and fix all of this.

Elizabeth-as-Samantha-Bewitched-elizabeth-montgomery-7324100-500-376

 

I guess it’s really happening

The cat’s out of the bag. Sort of.

I have now told exactly 6 people about this blog – 6 people who I trust with my life.

I need to be extra super cautious so that I don’t find myself back in the courtroom. I’m getting really fucking tired of it.

So I reached out to these six people asking them to be my friend on my brand spanking new Facebook page. Who knows if they’ll accept my requests given that they have no clue as to who I am.

But the Facebook page is the link between this page and the world at large.

I’m really just building the Facebook page.  I haven’t even put information such as my hometown in there because the damn system won’t let me be vague. You should have seen me trying to put my fake name on the page – Facebook is smarter than I would have thought and I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently telling Mark Zuckerberg to bugger off.

But I can totally make up an identity – completely recreate me. I can like whomever I want and admit to reading the stupidest books in the world and confess that I can’t get enough of Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

Yes, I have seen them in concert – white jumpsuit and all – rocked my world.

Anyway, I can be tall, blond, sexy, intelligent, a concert pianist and a fabulous pie maker – anything I want – I can make it all up.  I could even act well-bred and my readers would be nonethewiser.

Until someone actually reads what I’ve written.

But the biggest thing is that I have been dabbling in starting a new blog and it really has been just that, dabbling. I’ve started probably 4 or 5 and then given up on them because they weren’t “quite right.” But truth be told, I need to write for an audience. If I’m just writing from myself, I do that in my journal or on little scraps of paper that I keep in the bull-shaped tea-pot in my office.

A blog, or an article, or a column, is for public consumption and therefore forces me to write as if someone is going to read it. I try to be a little more succinct, more particular about my word choice and certainly a bit more humorous.  At the very least, I will correct my spelling and grammar.

So, from the day that I shut down my last blog until I sent out those 6 invitations today, I’ve been nothing more than a journaler, but those six people, especially if they accept my friend requests, will transform me back into a WRITER.

So then, people might have expectations that I will actually write something, so then I actually have to do just that and then it becomes habit (a habit that I have missed) and something that I do.

6 puncey invitations just put me back into the seat in front of the typewriter.  It’s quite nerve-wracking actually, but also so goddamn exciting.

I’m back.  Whomever I decide to be is yet to be determined, but the bottom line is that I am writing again.

First Post

dscn0269Wow, what do I say for my first post?

It’s important – it’s a first impression – and you only have one shot at a first impression.

So here I am blabbing about instead of saying anything that will make you want to keep reading.

Who is High Desert Darlin’?

You will definitely have to read more to figure out the answer to that one – I’m not about to give it away.

I’ll give you a few tidbits:

Single-ish.

Mother of three teenage boys – Bobby, Peter and Greg.

I paint my fingernails.

Almost 50.

I live in a really small town in the really rural west – Mayberry is rockin’ in comparison.

Lake Woebegone’s got nothing on us.

I chose to live here because Here has mountains, rivers, and the desert.

I am a bleeding hearted liberal who sometimes shoots things just for fun.

If I didn’t write, my brain would shrivel up and die.

And I have great legs.

So let’s start here.  This is not my first rodeo. I have had a blog before. My name was on it. It got me in trouble. I shut it down.  The problem is, that I can’t stand not writing, so it has been torturous lately.

The reason I shut it down was because there was an attempt to censor me – a person who shall remain unnamed (but thank god I am rid of him) felt that he had the right to tell me what I could and couldn’t discuss. Each post was subject to his approval or disapproval.

Fuck that.

So I went into hiding for a while and now I am emerging, not new, but definitely improved and ready for a fresh identity.

So High Desert Darlin’ has been born.