Unearthing the Stories Within

live mic image

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but lately I’ve begun to feel invisible. At 53 years old, my natural brown hair has a funky flair to it. Due to tons of time at the gym and strict vegetarianism, I can still wear a swimsuit with pride.

Even so, for reasons I don’t understand, I go through entire days as a bystander.  It’s like I have become a trope – a cliche version of myself that even I don’t recognize.  To the external eye, I live the live the life of a suburban mom – driving a Jeep Compass, dropping my kid off at school, and spending my days writing a book on Experiments in Living in Starbucks.

“This is not who I really am!” I want to shout to anybody who will listen, “I am more than my current life!”.

In an effort to take my written words to the stage, I sign up for Storytelling and Improvisation Classes.  I get vintage glasses and some funky overalls. I begin performing at open mics.  Just going out at night is an exciting diversion from my old life of shuttling my kid around and cooking dinner while listening to Marketplace.

Going to clubs alone, surrounded by strangers, I just want to be Victoria. I don’t tell people I am married and a mom.  These forays into my new world are like a beacon drawing me towards the not-so-distant future when my kid will leave for college.  My true self keeps calling me, waking me up at night, tugging on my shirt tails and begging to be heard.

Up until recently, I’d been stuck in this almost-done-parenting and getting-through-the winter mode. Comfort had become my main priority.  On any given day, my survivalist uniform was made up of: yoga pants, tank tops covered by hoodies, plastic/fleece-lined clogs, hip-hop head wraps around my Jewish Afro and a beaded choker.

Entire days would pass where my only interaction would be with a barista. On rare occasions, my teen son would grunt a one word response in my direction. Our conversations revolved around who would use the car and when, or how annoying it was that I was asking him yet another question. I found these conversations just as exhausting as he did.

My daily thoughts toggled between memories or themes I wanted to incorporate into my stories and how much I wanted to be done with parenting.

Looking at the calendar now, I see we have 5 more months until my son starts college.  5 months feels like an eternity.  Jumping off that cliff will be both terrifying and exhilarating.  Either way, I know I will discover iterations yet unknown in the process.

For now, stuck in that in-between space and ready to launch, all I can do is write, reflect, think and plan.  Tectonic plates are shifting – in my body, in my apartment and in my family.  New Victoria is begging for air time, as the threads connecting her to her previous identity slowly unravel and she emerges stronger than before.

I finally realize that the person I want to notice me is me. Walking onto the stage, I hold a live mic in my hand and begin the courageous journey of telling my story.




Thoughts on AWP#14 Seattle

I attended the 14th Annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs  (AWP) Conference this past week in Seattle, and it was a  life-changing experience for me.    I took enough notes for fill an entire spiral notebook, and attended about 18 workshops/lectures over a 3 day period, along with navigating a crowd of 15,000 writers, editors, publishers and fellow book lovers.  I slowly networked in the massive bookfair, and met editors/representatives from Creative Non-Fiction, Bitch, The Sun, So to Speak, Phoebe, Boulevard Magazine and more.  I found out about VIDA, Hedgebrook, A Room of Her Own and other organizations that support women writers through workshops, lectures, retreats, fellowships and guidance.

I feel so supported in this journey of writing and publishing.  I feel I am part of this huge community now, and not just a woman sitting on her iPad in a Starbucks listening to The Caravan World Music Show on KBCS FM and trying to find her voice.  Even my Americano tastes better, and I can face down the blank page with courage and conviction that writing is a valid, serious,  and important way to spend yet another rainy Sunday afternoon.