Wednesday, October 17, 2012

That Time Judy Bloom Killed My Confidence

Chicagoans: is there anything more humiliating and degrading than waiting at the Clyborn station for a train? On the Clyborn platform there is no such thing as good weather. Which if I were self-deprecating enough I'd show you by the state of my hair and general she-looks-like-my-feral-cat-after-a-bath appearance right now. It is never too sunny for wind, nor too frigid for rain. The Clyborn platform is where all weather elements come to play American Gladiator for the title of Most Likely To Ruin Someone's First Date. I know the Clyborn platform all too well, and we are sworn enemies.

I know because this is what us Suburbanites (Suburban Power!) endure every time we trudge out of the cornfields for some "culture." And today, I embarked upon the walk-train-walk-bus-WALK IN THE DOWNPOUR WITH A SHITTY UMBRELLA trek to take part in my very first ever writing workshop.

(Right here is where what I assume is called a "transition" should be, but because we didn't get to that particular skill and I don't really have the give-a-shit to conjure one, I'm just going to skip ahead to the good stuff.)

The scene: after a lengthy orientation on the particulars of the course, we are asked to go around and introduce ourselves. Can I mention the guy that talked too much about the vast circle of friends he has urging him to "tell his stories," and the sheer magnitude of words he feels struggling to break free of his corporate mask if only he could hone his voice? We get it, dude, you think you're a closet genius. Though how you claim to be in the closet when you talk so damn much, I have no idea.

Skip to my personal intro. We all know I have no problem talking (I guess me and Chatty McChatterson aren't all that dissimilar) but whenever I have to speak to a bunch of people I don't know I tend to get a little red in the face and start conversing with my shoes. So after rehearsing what I was going to say the whole time I was pretending to listen to everyone else, I got my chance at eloquently yet humbly stating my purpose as a member of the human race.

I'd like everyone to access their inner art critic for this next part. Please, spare me no expense when I say you should be reading it in the most pompous, arrogant, that-skinny-food-critic-from-Ratattouille-before-he-got-nice-esque voice you can muster.

My Big Intro: "Well, I've spent the majority of my adult life as a painter. But every time I experienced a lull in that process, I found myself drawn to writing. I find a kinship in your wife (haughty nod to instructor) because like her profession as a therapist, I have often been sought after for advice, which has culminated in this little blog experiment I'm working on. So I'm here to expand upon that need I find within me."

Sweet baby jesus, it was like somebody shoved Roger Ebert right up my ass before I started talking. Did I really just say all that? Only to get hit on by the guy next to me in line for the bathroom later? Are people really asking me about how "I'm a painter" successively, though I can clearly hear the mockery in their voice as I play my own words back in my head? Let's not even mention how when said "guy" commented on my scarf and I told him I made it myself he said, "a painter, a writer and a craftsman? What an artist!"

Fuck. I'm that girl.

Skip again to the end of the class, in which we are to write for 30 minutes based on a prompt of our choosing. I know before I've even started that what I'm writing is complete and utter horseshit. I don't even stick it out for the full 30 minutes because a) I'm afraid I'll miss my train and b) I'm so unimpressed by my own lack of ingenuity as I scramble to get through it that I can't bear to watch myself dribble out one more word of my Judy Bloom-wannabe essay any longer.

So I took the free book and the cd, the handouts and the info on the payment plan. I said goodbye to the girl I halfheartedly befriended, peed for the like the hundredth time and hurried the tail between my legs out of there. I weathered the -- er -- weather and somehow made it onto this bullet of steel rocketing me home on time. And you know what's sitting next to me on the seat? BEER. Hello, shame-induced alcoholism, have we met yet?

But you all know how this is going to end. Of course I'll be going back. Because I'm a masochist? Because every tortured artist needs their place of suffering and pain so as to fuel their work? Because I think me and Chatty Guy had a moment there, and I'd love the chance for him to wine and dine me over the manic drone of his incessant stories? NO. Because I'm a pusher, goddammit. And because I'm so done with giving up on things just because they scare me or make me feel foolish. Because I finally realize that yeah, someone that's been around this particular block might know better than me sometimes. Because I want to improve and I know it takes making an ass of yourself a few dozen times to do so. Watch out, Judy Bloom: this drowned cat's in it to win it.

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