art / memory / men / neurotic thinking / writing

Everything is under control.

where I'd like to hang out...if there's coffee

Almost 2 years ago, my son and the girl next door, L., had an art show in the breezeway between our apartments. They invited the other neighbors, and while L. didn’t want to sell any of her work, my son was happy to sell his. He seems to think selling art is normal.

L.’s mom bought a Halloween witch and hung it up in her kitchen window. A few weeks after Halloween, the apartment management sent her a letter telling her she had to take the witch down. With apologies to my son, she took the witch out of the window.

My son ran into our apartment, found paper and markers, and scribbled out a pumpkin, coloring it in, giving it a Jack O’ Lantern face. He taped that up in our kitchen window. “They better not send me a letter,” he said. “Because I’m not taking it down.”

“Good for you!” I said. “Fight the Man!”

“What man?” he asked. “I just don’t want the office telling me what to do.” Okay. Things got silly after that, but the picture stayed up for over a year and we never got a letter to challenge his determination.

Sometimes it’s best to be quiet. Sometimes you have to raise a fuss. It’s a talent knowing when to do which.

I’ve been thinking that this coming Tuesday, it might be best to skip my favorite coffee shop. Going somewhere else wouldn’t be a bad thing and might make sure the annoying guy got the message. Maybe by the following Tuesday, he’d have someone else. (Poor someone else.)

Then I think, why should I change for some stranger? Why does he get to go where he wants while I waste time wondering where to go?

But I get that knot in my stomach.

Kind of like that knot I get when I try to write a query letter. I’ve spent hours crafting query letters–reading, researching, writing, proofing, printing, posting… trying to come up with the right thing to say to get the outcome I want. That’s the way it works, right?

Other times, I get sick of trying so hard, writing and rewriting a sentence to prove I’ve done my research, that I’m marketable, that I’m worth someone’s time, when all the while I can’t prove any of that.

And I can’t control anyone else’s reaction to me.

7 thoughts on “Everything is under control.

  1. Wow, a kid art show. What a neat idea! Very enterprising. :)

    I think your favorite coffee shop situation stinks. I also think it would stink more for you to be hurt or in jeopardy or something like that. I’d not like the idea of something bad happening to you.

    Finding just the right magic phrase to open just the first magic door along the gatekeeper system. And so much conflicting or differing information out there, so many subjective variables! Ack! You’re brave to be doing it at all. I hope it all goes easy and well for you. I’d love to see you succeed as you want to succeed. :)

    • I wouldn’t be at the cafe alone, so I think I’d like to reclaim my space!

      Thanks for all your support and concern, Darc. We can hope magic doors open for all of us.

  2. The last few paragraphs above make me think you might like the brief little bit I just posted at my place, part of a poem by W.S. Merwin.

    It occurred to me, re: the kiddo’s witch print, that the objection was to the witch per se — not to artwork. (This would be the whole sensibility which objects to Halloween celebrations at school, because they’re Encouraging Paganism And, By Extension, Satanic Ritual.) Which would explain why the jack-o-lantern might be relatively OK.

    No easy answer from this quarter to your questions about the Joe’s guy, whether he’s lonely or otherwise. I’m a social coward generally, and a New Jerseyan by long training and habit. It took me a loooong time to get used to the idea, in the Deep South, that strangers smiling and greeting me were not often saying anything TO or ABOUT me in particular — especially not hitting on me — that they do the same thing for EVERYBODY.

    (Totally different subject: if you haven’t seen it already, you might like the hopping-bunny contest video (found via Nathan Bransford’s blog). The kiddo might like it, too, but you might end up having to build rabbit hutches…)

    • The bunny jumping was great! If it weren’t for the two dogs, we might indeed have bunny hutches.

      And the Merwin poem was spot on. Sigh.

      Our complex just has a strict holiday decorating policy. They made us take our Christmas lights off our patio too. We wanted to leave the lights up all year, because, you know, they’re pretty lights. But they sent us the letter. But our apartment faces more into the complex than our neighbor’s. My guess the manager simply never saw the pumpkin when she drove by. Oh, and the pumpkin, drawn in a hurry, looked more like a heart.

      I grew up in The South (Florida not being really southern or northern sometimes). I’m used to friendly, chatty strangers. That’s part of the reason I even started talking this guy in the first place–because here you do just talk to folks.

      Then once in a while someone’s friendliness strikes us as wrong. Hard to explain why. I’ve had plenty of other conversations with men I didn’t know. Rarely have I felt like this, like something was amiss.

      But I’ll be blogging more about that later!

      • In a way, the guy reminds me of a cabdriver I used to work with (yes, I drove a cab for a while). We called him Reds — his hair was red, maybe that’s why — but the most striking thing about his appearance was that he was wall-eyed. You could never be quite sure what he was looking at. (Very disconcerting for his passengers, no doubt.) This guy seems socially wall-eyed, sorta.

  3. Nope, you sure can’t control anyone else’s reaction. I know how you feel about the cafe and your space. Part of me wants to tell you to take a stand and stake your claim. The other part says lie low for a bit. In my younger days, I’d have staked my claim. But then, I also was far more likely to tell someone off too. I was a bit … mouthy. ;)

    As for writing, when you go through the gatekeeper system, you have to play by their rules now. I disagree with those rules, but be that as it may, they’re still there whether I disagree or not, and I’m not the one trying to bust through them either. You can only do your best. They will either see that or not. All you can do is try, take a deep breath and jump in.

    And know that there are lots of people on your side. :)

    • Thanks, Darcs. I think I will not lie low just yet. I want to see what happens this Tuesday. And if need be, my husband will come with me the Tuesday after that!

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