My Life

Sunday in the Park with Brian: Therapy Session # 22 (The “Originally Meant to Be Whimsical Time Travel Ploy That Suddenly Become a Bit Deep” Version)

Therapist: “Let’s try a new exercise, mainly because all of the other exercises have failed to get you to emotionally adjust in any satisfactory way. Why don’t we spend the rest of our session with you thinking of things you wished someone had said to you as an adolescent?”

Brian: “Why would I do that? It’s a bit late for that now, don’t you think? My emotional ship has sailed. And then it hit a rock. And it sank.”

Therapist: “Don’t be too quick to judge. Studies have shown that this exercise has a solid history of helping to improve the attitudes of bitter people, no matter what their current age.”

Brian: “Still not buying it. This sounds like something designed to run the clock out so you can charge me the full hourly rate.”

Therapist, consulting patient history: “Ah, I overlooked one of your triggers. Studies have also shown that ‘advice to your younger self’ has proven to be one of the most popular things to write about on blogs, with some bloggers who do so gaining instant fame and a guest appearance on Ellen’s talk show.”

Brian: “I’m on it.”

Brian clears throat.

Dear Me.

It’s okay that you lost the dime your father had given you for the ice cream truck. The driver probably didn’t have your favorite flavor that day, anyway.

It’s okay that you really didn’t grasp the concept that your clothes should match for the first few decades of your life. It’s admittedly a giant leap to go from “I’m going to wear this because it’s relatively clean” to “I need to make a statement with my choices”.

Divorce is not about anything you might have done as a child. It’s about adults who come to differing conclusions. You are not the reason; you are the fallout, you are the pawn. Just be strong, and someday you will control the chessboard.

By the way, you will never be very good at chess. Despite the allure of such prowess, you just don’t have the focus. Play solitaire instead, and keep the shame private.

There will be a lot of people who think they know what’s best for you. They don’t.

Family is not defined by DNA and legal documents. Family is defined as those who love and support you. Do not feel guilty about making the distinction.

Do not feel guilty about your adoration of cheese. Yes, it’s intrinsically unhealthy, what with the clogging of arteries and such, but we all have our weaknesses and we should all be allowed to embrace a foible or two, even if it involves rigid dairy products.

Yes, you are gay. But you knew that. You’ve always known it. And you’ve never felt bad about that. It’s simply what you are. Your fear has always been those people who don’t understand it’s a birthright and not a choice, and the ways they can cut you because they feel superior. Don’t worry about them. Let it go. They made a choice, not you.

It’s okay that you would go to the local library and check out showtune albums when you were 12. It’s a miracle that such things were available in Oklahoma, and nobody in your sphere of influence (translation: the people with actual finances) was going to waste any money buying something like that for you.

It’s okay that you would put on those bulky headphones from the late 70s and then belt out the showtunes you had just borrowed from the library. Some people get true art, some people don’t. Just like some people don’t appreciate off-key warbling and would slam the door to the room where you were doing an impromptu interpretation of the “Cabaret” original cast recording, Mein Herr.

Attending college will open your eyes to so many things. It will also let you see how many eyes are closed, with supposedly intelligent people unquestioningly adhering to stereotypes and ancient misconceptions. This is the way of the world. The knowledge and insight is right there, burbling from a fountain of truth, but so many choose not to drink, not to acknowledge, not to grow.

You will have an amazing amount of spontaneous and random sex during those college years. This will be partly due to the liberating freedom of making your own choices, partly due to the underage-drinking that is a mainstay of the college experience, but mostly due to your hormones, which are at the peak of their intensity. Embrace it and get it out of your system, because in a few short years the liberation and the intensity and the hormones will dissipate, and most of your focus will be on paying off the student loans that let you have all that sex in the first place.

Do not drop out of college just because you need to go “find yourself” in another state. It will take you decades to work your way up to the salary you could have started at if you’d just toughed it out for a few more semesters. And that new state you move to will be filled with just as many idiots. It’s not where you are; it’s where your mind is.

Do not go see any of the “Star Wars” movies after the first three. They won’t be the same.

Do not agree to go on a first date with anyone named “Marty” or “Mark”. This will lead to relationships that will test your sanity. It will not be worth it. One of them will destroy everything you have written up to that point. You will never get over that, so just say “no” when the invitation is offered.

Buy Microsoft stock as soon as it becomes available. Do not buy Enron stock.

Get over your fear of singing songs around other people as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter what you sound like; it matters that you sing.

The Y2K Bug will prove to be nothing but crap. Your money is safe and no one dies.

You will be tempted so many times to just give in and stop fighting injustice and inequality, because the fight is difficult when there are millions of people on this planet who don’t give a damn about their fellow man. But this is not how you are wired, not your path, and you will never be happy sitting on the sidelines. Keep marching onto the field and grabbing the ball.

Do not grab the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 when it comes out. Something wicked that way burns.

“Pushing Daisies” will become one of your favorite TV shows, but it will be cancelled abruptly after a season and a half because tight-sphinctered executives at the ABC network don’t know how to handle a series that is smart, funny and clever. Prepare yourself accordingly.

You will sigh with delight every time you run across a copy of any one of Douglas Adams’ books.

You will sigh with respect every time you run across a copy of any one of Anne Tyler’s books

Oh, screw it, you will sigh any time you run across a book by any of your favorite authors, of which there are many, studying the cover and studying the author photo and flipping the pages with awe. So much of your life has been shaped by those pages you flip.

But you will not become the writer you dream of being. You will become the writer you were meant to be, a big difference, and this will involve a lot of falling backwards and sideways until the pinball finally makes it past the flippers and you land in the right hole.

Never stop reading books.

Never stop writing words.

Never. Stop.



33 replies »

  1. You had me vacillating between laughing and wanting to cry. A beautifully-written, poignant and funny post.

    Your last thought, about being the writer you are instead of the writer you want to be, really struck a chord with me. When I was a teen, I dreamt of being a playwright and furiously wrote one act plays that were going to Change The World. They really weren’t very good, but they kept me out of trouble and they gave me an appreciation of a well-written script.

    Thank you for sharing your observations, and for being encouraging at the same time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much. I have tons and tons of drafts and stories and whatnots from decades of trying to figure out my mission with words. As writers, we all try to hit the target, but that target can be elusive and variable. Perhaps that’s the nature of the beast. Maybe we shouldn’t know the final destination, because if we know that, we might stop trying. Maybe it’s better that we fumble, and in so doing, we manage to put the right words together from time to time…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. “Family is not defined by DNA and legal documents. Family is defined as those who love and support you. Do not feel guilty about making the distinction.” They won’t always love and support you, but you will recognize them and know them better in in 15 seconds than you will ever know the people who share your DNA. And wonder why some of the people you grew up with in that narrow minded world of this is that are millionaires, and some of them are homeless. And most all of them are the same old assholes they were the last time you saw them.

    And the last bit. I was ready to stop stepping on my (private parts) and throw in the towel. Turn into the guy who blows leaves out of gutters and of telling stories in a bar. I have all the tools, all I need is some ready mixed 2 cycle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And isn’t that the crucial ingredient, the steady supply of ready-mixed 2 cycle? Lubrication is the key to sliding past the gutters and millionaires and the assholes and the DNA. And hopefully we’ll and in a world that is less narrow…


  3. I loved this, Brian, in every possibly way. Pushing Daisies was a fav of mine too, sad to see it go, but they wrapped it up so perfectly in that last episode. So maybe we should be happy it never had a chance of going downhill? (This is me being Stoic.)
    And – OH – I didn’t know you felt that way about Anne Tyler too?! WOW, it’s like we really ARE family!!! (Okay, maybe not so Stoic.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! And yes, I’m an Anne Tyler fanatic. Here’s some documentary evidence, showing just a part of my collection located on one of my desk shelves. (The small photos are of two of my nieces, so I get to look at some of my favorite things when lost in thought about how to make a story transition work.):

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I know I’m a few days late, but what a great post! I was singing an Oklahoma! song (in NJ) last week and people looked at me crooked. In my case, too many states and nobody knows what a surrey is up here.

    You are a great writer…don’t ever doubt it!

    P.S.–I watched the Vampire Diaries finale and cried in my bathroom for 2 hours–there, I finally admitted it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Anne Marie. At some point, you will have to share how you are singing Oklahoma in New Jersey, but I can certainly be patient until you feel safe enough to open up about the incident. And as for the emotional release in the loo, I hope you understand that I am always here to help you get through these trying times… 😉


    • Thanks, Mike! Yep, the memory and the mind get a bit tricky after a bit. I may have to start carrying around a chart with me that explains “which bedroom is mine” and “how to procure food when needed”…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved this. I’ve often thought that if I could go back in time, it would have relieved so much stress and worry because I would have assured myself that everything will be okay. Just have faith, do what you know is right and keep going. And because I think that’s what I would have told myself years ago – it’s what I tell myself today when things get screwed up or I get stressed out;. Have faith, do right, keep will all be okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re one the same wavelength. “Stress” and “Worry” were the hallmarks of my childhood and my young adulthood and… well, I’m not sure that they’ve ever completely diminished, but they have softened considerably. I would be in a completely different place with my life right now (perhaps not necessarily better) if I had just been able to relax and trust…

      Liked by 1 person

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