Friday, November 27, 2009

Living inside the Box

Today was Fashion Disaster Day at Kindergarten. The children were supposed to dress in a funny way, with mixed up colours, mismatched socks and have fun doing it.

My daughter was a wee badger this morning and wanted no part of anything but going back to sleep. She's been living up to her Vampira, Mistress of the Dark nickname, again. I pulled some clothes out of her closet and tried to make her a fashion disaster.

Problem was, coordinating outfits in an acceptable manner has been drilled into me since I was my daughter's age. Colours HAD to match, outfits HAD to be appropriate to the occasion, and my mother didn't care a tinker's damn if everyone else was wearing it, her daughter wasn't. Period. End of conversation and turn around, go upstairs and change. I'm 46, and she still checked to make sure I would be dressed appropriately for my aunt's funeral last year. Socks must match. Colours must coordinate. Clothes must fit properly and be appropriate. What would people think otherwise?

I had a real struggle with letting go of that. It's Kindergarten, not Christmas Dinner with my mom. It was supposed to be a fashion disaster. And yet, even though my daughter went off to school decked out in multi-coloured tights, a purple skirt, an orange Halloween top, purple and lime hoodie and purple hair...all the colours were in the tights and worked. The purple hair was essential to "disasterfy" it. I couldn't get away from coordinating, even though I was aware of my weakness and tried hard not to conform.

My whole life is about structure. I need to know what I'm doing, when I'm doing it and how long I am doing it for. I can be spontaneous...just warn me and I'll mark it on the calendar. The only time I have ever been spontaneous in my life was on our honeymoon and that was because Hurricane George crashed it and we were tossed off Sanibel Island and HAD to improvise.  I didn't like it. Part of it probably stems from life as a teen with an alcoholic father when I could never predict what I would be walking into when I got home.

I write stories following an outline. I start at the beginning and write to the end. The ultimate in daring for me would be to write a scene in the middle before I got to it. I haven't actually tried it yet but I think it would be terrifying but liberating. The most adventurous thing I wear are brightly coloured, handknit socks, but only with my jeans. Everything else will match. I think I once did the radical move of wearing blue socks with black pants, but I was in a hurry and they were dark blue.

I've always played by the rules, dressed the way my momma told me to dress and conformed. I have questioned stupid rules but followed them nonetheless. I will stick up for someone being mistreated, sometimes longer than a smart person would do. The most dramatic things I have ever done in my life were to quit a full time job at Customs (that was sucking the life out of me) to go back to school to do my MA(on full scholarship, in 8 months) and venture into freelance writing so I could stay home with the wee badger in the orange Halloween shirt. My ears are pierced exactly once, I have never ridden a motorcycle, and I have no tattoos (although I secretly covet one). I hate rollercoasters, spicy food and am quite happy to stay home. I envy people who have let their hair go naturally grey or dye their hair wonderful, wild colours. I don't have their courage (and as far as the hair goes, I'm 46 with a 4 year old. I don't want to be mistaken for her grandmother.)

I need to shake things up a bit. I need to get out of this rut that I find myself in, find out who I am again and take some risks. Darn it, I'm going to write the final scene for my YA novel, even though I'm only at the beginning of crafting it. If JK Rowlings can do it, so can I. But first, I need to go put on a different shirt because I'm wearing a sweatshirt, taking my mom shopping and it's not an appropriate thing to wear out of the house. To my mother's horror, I lived in jeans and sweatshirts for 4 years at university, but that was then...

Baby steps...


Janet Jarrell said...

This is such a fun post. It is a bit of a different side to you - I think you should always referred to your child from now on as " the wee badger " - this post is like a pep talk - a motivation!

Christine Peets said...

No matter how old we are, we are always our parents' children, and they think they have the right to advise, criticize, etc. My mother did this much more than my father, but my father can still reduce me to "little girl" status.
I try not to do this with my now-grown sons. I'm sure you'll tell yourself not to do it when your Vampira is Vampiress--the adult.
Great fun reading your posts, Lisa.