The Story of the Roman Family

I’ve always wanted to tell this story. I’ve only told a few people, and even they don’t know more than that the family exists and minimally about why.

I am reluctant to share this because I feel like it makes me sound crazy. If you’re a writer too, I am going to trust that you understand where I’m coming from with this post. If you’re not a writer, please know that I do not have any sort of personality disorder.

So, the Roman family. They have existed, to me, in my imagination, for 20 years now. I realized that recently–Twenty Years. Such a wonderful milestone.

The main person in the family is a version of myself that, at the time, when I was 13/14 years old, I wished could be the real me. I made her have traits, both physical & character, that I wished I had, and I made her be a part of a large family. She is the 6th out of 10 kids. The part that I, of course, didn’t wish to be my life–she just had to have some sort of tragic back story–was that her parents had died. I think it was symbolic for me because that year was when I was moving and having to switch schools and, therefore, make new friends. I felt very alone and lacked self-confidence. I think this version of myself and her siblings was a coping mechanism. And they remained that for several years.

I wrote many a story, both short and long, chroncling her life. I have Word documents detailing each sibling’s individual family as everyone grew up. I have education information figured out. I have photos that I searched for online as a way to put a face to a name. A few celebrities are in there, which is funny to me, but they’re sort of-kind of what the character looks like in my mind.

About five years ago or so, I started working on the first story, the one that starts them off, the one that defines them. The one about the night their parents died. I know how each sibling reacted in the short-term and in the long-term and what it meant to them as a whole.

It feels like I know them and like they’re real. So much so that, when I considered the possibility of writing their initial story and self-publishing it, I had to change all of their names. It felt like I was divulging personal information by using all their original names. I felt protective of them.

Now that I’m in a writing course for which I have to write creative non-fiction and fiction, I wish I could use their story as non-fiction because it’s not fiction to me. I have to remind myself that it actually is.

Hopefully one day, I’ll see their story through. I think it would mean a lot to those who might read it.

I used to be the queen of used book sales.

I’m sure there are folks who frequent them much more than I ever did, but, in my social circle, it was something I was known for. I was good-naturedly teased because of it.

If there was a book sale in my general area, I knew about it and was probably going to it. I would schedule time in my day, like an entire morning or afternoon, and, upon arrival, latte in hand, I would strategize based on the setup of the sale and genres. I sometimes brought friends with me too. And in the end, I’d come out with a bag or two full of tomes on travel, cooking, geography, history, poetry, and, of course, lots of fiction, both more modern and classic. Book shopping was my favorite. If I saw a book section at a yard sale, a discount store, or a thrift store, I would have to peruse it and see if anything piqued my interest. Most of the time, I would find something to take home. And I felt that I balanced out all the purchasing by selling and donating what I could stand to part with post-reading. It was heaven.

A few years ago though, my desire to go slowed down until it dropped off altogether. I started noticing just how full my large  bookcase was and how I was having to double stack my collection. I could hear my mother’s words, “You have enough/too many books.” I hung my head when I saw what she saw. I do have enough/too many books. So, I stopped going to sales and stores. The good stuff was always gone at the “early bird” days anyway. And they didn’t generally have a whole lot of variety, what with about 20 copies of The Help and The Notebook, hoping to be snagged by the last 2% of the population who didn’t already own them. (Truly, no offense to those books, their authors, or their fans. Just trying to make a point.) My mind kept going back to where I could possibly store any more. In fact, a couple of months ago, when I cleaned out my closet, I found two shopping bags of books that I had FORGOTTEN ABOUT for at least a year. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.

Nowadays, I still go to used book stores, but a lot less frequently. Maybe once a year I allow myself to indulge in my version of retail therapy, and you know what? It’s quite satisfying. Going less often makes the trip and experience that much more special. I see much more variety in the selection, and I get to check in with the building. To me, it’s a wise old man with little glasses, keeping watch over all the wisdom and knowledge. And shockingly, I don’t haul a giant bag of loot out to my car like Santa Clause going down the chimney on Christmas night.

One day, when I have more space, like an entire room to consider as a library and writing room, I’ll go crazy again. But until then, I will have to keep it simple.

Here we are. The last week of summer break before the new semester starts.

At one point, it seemed really far off, and now it’s like oh crap.

I crossed off a pretty good amount of things on my summer bucket list, plus some that weren’t on the list:

I got my nose re-pierced; that was number one. I tried to learn the Time Warp, the main dance from Rocky Horror. I read a lot during the first couple of months, not so much in the second. I watched new TV shows and a handful of good movies, including ones I’ve seen a million times already. But sometimes I just need to witness that story again. I finally went on a research trip for a project I’ve been working on for years. I met Holly Marie Combs (my twin, according to many of my friends) at ComiConn. I joined a writing group, a dream of mine for quite a long time. And I got to watch one of my best friends become a mother for the first time. Well, I didn’t see her give birth, but I saw her throughout her pregnancy, and then I met her precious little baby. Pretty wonderful stuff right there. My goal was to make the absolute most of my time off from school, to make it feel like a true break, and I think I accomplished that.

This week, I hope to wring out those last drops of freedom, which shouldn’t be too hard since I don’t have much going on. I’m thinking I’ll go to the beach if the weather cooperates. And of course, I want to spend some time reading. I feel like choosing a shorter novel and trying to read it by next week. Everything I’ve been reading for the last two months or so has been non-fiction, and honestly, that’s not my favorite genre, which is probably a big part of why I’ve slacked. And now that I’ve said that, I understand more why I hate reading for assignments—it’s all non-fiction.

Currently, all my books are boxed up due to a small renovation project going on at my house, but I’ll have to dig through everything tonight and see what looks good.

I couldn’t decide on what to write next.

I had an idea, but it wasn’t coming out right. It was sounding more like a persuasive piece on why one should do what I was talking about, not just my meandering thoughts on what I was talking about. And then, every idea I had after that was missing something.

My voice wasn’t there.

Everything felt forced, like I was painstakingly tryyyyying to maaaaake a blog post blahblahblah blahblah. And that’s not what this is. I mean, sure, in the most literal sense, this is a blog, and I’m making posts. But the material isn’t supposed to be so planned. It’s supposed to be sincere and raw and straight from my head, hence the subtitle.

I remind myself of that- Forget that there are readers. It’s only you having one of those mental soliloquies that you have so often because your mind never turns off. But still, nothing felt right.

Does this spell trouble for future posts? Will it be a struggle all the time? I grimace at the thought.

I do have a lot on my mind these last few days. Maybe that’s jamming up my creative channels.

  1. School starts up again in exactly 2 weeks. I feel slightly panicked because of how much work it is, but I’m excited because it’s the start of my “senior year.” And that shows me that I’ve made progress. Two years down; two to go!
  2. Work is stressing me out. I work in an industry in which sales is a large part of the job. We’re supposed to try to get people to open accounts and sign up for services. Our performance reviews depend largely on how well we each meet our quarterly goals. And not only that, my manager’s performance depends on how our branch performs as a whole, which also affects how I perform and my subordinate performs. AND my subordinate’s performance affects mine. It’s this huge web. So, while I’m having to sell crap to people, I’m also having to pretend that I care about it when I really, truly don’t. I couldn’t give two shibbity doops. We’re having to make lists of people who we can sell things to when we see them next. And honestly, it’s just not the line of work I belong in. Finishing my degree is supposed to solve all of that, but that’s still two more years of being this underling whose value depends on other people’s choices.
  3. One of my best friends just had a baby.
    • That may not seem like something to be overwhelmed by, and I’m not. It’s so great, and I’m happy for her. And I visited them at the hospital when her baby wasn’t even a whole day old yet, and it was wonderful. I’m planning to be as present as I can be and happily so, but it’s kind of worrying me. Will I be present enough? Will I be a good enough friend during this time? I really freaking hope so.
    • It’s making me feel like I’m severely behind schedule. I’m older than she is by a couple of years, and I don’t have that many good childbearing years left, maybe one or two. They say that, as women age, they have less and less chance of conceiving, and I’m pretty sure there’s something about the older the mother, the more risk of certain health issues for the baby and difficult pregnancy. I’m very concerned about that. It weighs on me a lot, to the point of tears. I think about how I have two years of school left, and then I’d prefer to establish myself in a career that I love before I have kids. But by then I could be 40. So, I don’t know what to do about it. Have kids first? Put a career on hold even longer? That doesn’t seem fair.
    • And then of course, my friend’s experience with giving birth wasn’t the best and makes me even less excited about that part than I already was. And she’s a labor & delivery nurse, so she knew what to do for herself. I, on the other hand, am more than skeeved out by anything medical. But I’m thinking about going to some kind of therapy for that because it’s kind of a problem.

Maybe this is what I needed. To lay it all out there. I would say it’s pretty sincere and raw. And it’s definitely straight from my head. Success.

And now, I can go to sleep.

So, I’m actually not new to the blogging thing.

I’ve had a few over the years, plus online journals. Each served its own purpose, such as chronicling the goings-on of my teenaged and college-aged life, giving me an outlet for creativity, showcasing my work, and simply being a conglomeration of reposts and some original posts to facilitate various obsessions. (Yeah, I’m looking at you, Tumblr.)

This one is much different.

It took a while for me to finally start it. First, I wasn’t sure which platform to use or if I wanted it to be free or to pay for it. I probably read about five different lists of “the best” sites that all said WordPress was the way to go, and, of course, there was the .com versus .org lesson to learn. Then, I wasn’t sure what to call the blog or what it would be about. Blogs are supposed to be focused on a main topic, like crafting, cooking, or traveling. Would my broad personal narrative idea be good enough or interesting enough? And third and possibly most important, I wasn’t sure I could commit to it. I didn’t want to go to all the trouble of setting it up if I made a post or two and then forgot about it for the next year. I already have a very full life with work, school, a relationship, family and friends, and hobbies that I don’t have enough time for. Could I make room for a blog too?

Well, I decided that, if it’s that big of a deal to me, I would make room for it. I would just have to rearrange some things. I also am pre-planning a little. I jotted down ideas for posts and themes to explore. And, as a writer who feels the guilt of not writing more often, now I have an objective, and, therefore, a reason to write. So, really, I can write at any time, like I’m doing right now during a lull at work.

I am a little concerned about how I’ll manage once school starts though. School is a huge part of my life that I am determined to successfully finish, and, while I have lots of free time now, I won’t in about three more weeks. (Ugh, summer vacation is almost over…) Not to mention, most of my assignments involve writing, so I’m worried about burnout and feeling like keeping up with the blog is a chore. But if I can post at least once a week during the semesters, I’ll be happy. Plus, I want to challenge myself to maintain a continuous personal writing project. And it’s not like these posts are particularly arduous to write. They’re fairly off-the-cuff, and they might end up being an escape from my assignments.

We shall see where this takes me.

I’m kind of a mess.

Not a “hot mess” though because, quite frankly, I’m not too fond of that saying.

Just a mess. A mess of ideas and hopes and desires. Some of which I actually follow through on. Others are forgotten. And many more are totally unrealistic, something I struggle to admit to myself. They can’t be worked into my life, so they fall by the wayside. But if I’m lucky, I’ve written them down.

Speaking of writing things down, I am a writer, which either intensifies my mess-being state or explains it. I haven’t decided which. Maybe it’s both.

I’m also a dreamer. I’m the girl with her “head in the clouds,” constantly contemplating the possibilities and the options. What would it mean to take this chance or that? Or to not take this chance or that? Where will that leave me, and will I have enough money?

And lastly, I’m an eternal optimist with a side of nagging realist. Optimism is my natural mindset. I understand the most logical outcome and that it generally has the best chance of occurring, but I love to leave the door open for the most sought after outcome.

Even if it’s not so logical.