There’s rarely a literary backhand raised at Redhead Writing without it first being turned on myself. Much of the time, the columns in this series stem from some self-owed smackage. From mistakes I made when I started my business to the phone-shaped appendage that’s grown out of my arm and all of the inappropriate places I can put it into action. Thoughts on bullshit excuses and why in the midst of a beautiful man dying unexpectedly I have things for which I’m thankful. Today’s post began last night as something completely different and when my alarm clock let loose the Kraken at 4:55 AM (fuck off…just…don’t say anything about that), the Mac-a-doodle-doo opened and I knew what the reincarnation of last night’s trashed post would be.
Mistakes are ossum.
That’s ossum with an “o” and they’re caramel coated. They’ll stick to your floorboard, but if you pick ’em up and stop crying for a minute, you’ll realize they still taste good even with a floorboard french fry and dog hair sticking to them. I don’t know about you, but I get so wrapped-up in the fuck-up that there is absolutely nothing funny about it and I’m not only losing sleep, but I’m dreaming about it when I actually get there (taking over much-needed Colin Firth/Daniel Craig/Clive Owen time in my imaginary life). And that sucks.
All I have at my disposal in this life are words. I can’t draw for shit (attempts look like a diabetic in sugar shock got hold of a sharpie). Dancing? Yeah, I can do that and it’s more Molly Ringwald in Breakfast Club than Joan Cusak in Sixteen Candles but Bob Fosse I ain’t. So I take words and I wrestle them all around until I have something coherent and the requisite sting lingers on my face from the self-administered smacking. I needed to quit ignoring my mistakes and figure out something useful to do with them. And thus, in true Bitch Slap fashion, here’s my select list of glorious fuck-ups and why I should have realized their inherent glory long ago. (Erika to self: “Bitch, where’s mah money?! / I has it! I has it!”
Glorious Fuck-Up #1: I spent 17 years of my life doing the “Ouldas.” I talk about them often – Shoulda, Coulda and Woulda – and I say the same thing each time (bitches, all three of ’em). There have been more than a handful of moments in the past five years (no, I’m not 21. Erika Math: started working at 16, add 17, that’s 33, plus five since I started writing again…FIVE YEARS) where I sit and lament about not taking the leap sooner. Where would I be? How far would I have come if only…It happens often with my cycling, too. Especially when I get lapped by a 15-year-old. But if I had done anything sooner, it’s all sliding doors. I wouldn’t have what I have and wake up every morning having my own pet Awesomeapottamus and have all those years of stuff that fuel what I truly love doing.
Glorious Fuck-Up #2: Confusing love with convenience. There’s not a whole lot I’ve gotten right in life when it’s come to relationships with the opposite sex. A long history of giving until it hurts and having men who kept me around because I made them feel good. In a conversation with a girlfriend this week, I referred to myself as a medical marijuana dispensary with a vagina. Guys stand me up, great guys die. But if I sit back and look and who I am now versus all those things I thought I wanted, every single relationship fuck-up and unhappy ending has made me a better person for the right guy when he decides to come along. Because all the ones in the past? While some are doucheasaurus rexes, none are what I really want (except one very special man taken entirely too soon). And it’s going to be a brilliant day when I have the perfect reason to skip the 5:30am gym session in favor of nekkid aerobics and inappropriate laughter.
Glorious Fuck-Up #3: Being unsocial. Not anti-social, but more hermit-like. It’s pretty easy to do when you work for yourself, as your sofa becomes a desk, conference room and employee kitchen. When I sold my sofa prior to the Going Mobile series late last year, a lift of the cushions revealed a feast my two dogs were only too glad to nomnomnom. It’s easy to work 14 hours a day without ever seeing sunlight. When you only poke your head outside your door when you hear the mail man (complete with “rawr!” and requisite eye aversion from the offensive sunlight), you’ve got issues. I totally hosed the whole “social” part of my life for awhile and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t get how good the sunlight feels (and you can’t get it from a laptop’s screen glare). People bring me every moment I cherish. So if you wonder why you don’t have anything worth cherishing, get your ass out of the house and plug into something other than your digital life.
Glorious Fuck-Up #4: Thinking that things will make me happy. Because they don’t. There’s no lasting happiness in a pair of kick ass boots or bicycles, though you can love the way you feel when you wear ’em/ride ’em. For years, I had a pile of both debt and things…and funny thing: I wasn’t at all happy. Today, I have no debt (save a car payment) and not so many things. It’s a very lightweight way to live – financially and emotionally. When you stop worrying about debt and replacing feeling with things, it leaves a lot of room in your life for shit that matters. There’s nothing in a house, closet or purse that can’t be replaced. Memories live in your heart, confidence in your soul and self-worth in your mind. And I won’t lie that I don’t think shopping is fun. But learning to live with less physically and more emotionally makes everything that came before collectively create the glorious fuck-up of a lifetime.
Glorious Fuck-Up #5: Not being comfortable with who I am. From the minute we start getting around this world on our own,we’re bombarded by the No Regime. Stop this, don’t do that, that’s not polite, ladies don’t do that, that’s not appropriate. Holy hell – it’s a miracle that we find anything that’s socially acceptable to fill our days. I spent years berating myself because I wasn’t happy in corporate America and not vacationing in Florida with 2.5 kids and a minivan. When I stopped giving more weight to what other people thought than I gave to what I thought, my life changed dramatically. It’s kinda like that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy wakes up in Oz and everything’s in hyper-saturated Technicolor when it used to be in black and white. I love ME. She gets better every day and some days are better than others. But even on the days where rabid unicorns dive bomb my life with piles of glitter turds…man, those turds are still made of glitter. There’s not a day that wakes up when I’m afraid to be me…and being me is something for which I’ll never apologize again.
That’s my list. And no, those aren’t my only fuck-ups. They’re the ones at the top of my mind. Now, it’s 6:04 AM and imma gonna set this Bitch Slap to post at 8:45 AM and go have me some coffee and a shower. I’m off to be social, be me, see some colleagues and oh, shit – be on the radio!
If you’re in the Denver market today, I’ll be live on the radio at 11 AM MST (that link also lets you listen online even if you’re not in our ossum Mile High market). The Tonya Hall Show’s previous guests have included the likes of:
- Evan Greene: CMO of the Grammy’s
- Tony Hsieh: CEO of Zappo’s
- Vint Cerf: Google’s EVP and Chief Internet Evangelist
- Ryan Holmes: CEO of HootSuite
- Frank Eliason: formerly @ComcastCares and now head of social media for Chase
- Augie Ray: Sr Analyst in Social Media Marketing for Forrester
I’ll be talkin’ about content. I’ve also been told no swearing, so join me for a PG-rated session of business and marketing talk. It’s going to be a great day, and I consider myself thoroughly slapped. Carry on smartly.