Ex-Mormon, Book-Shelver Girl

So here we go, people. I’m going to blog my way through the year—365 days of it. One blog for every day. Call me crazy, and you’d be right.

I guess I should start off by introducing myself. I’m 31. I’m a one-time published author… but we don’t talk about that. Poems of teenage angst are best left scrawled in high school notebooks, alongside obsessive spirals and questions I wasn’t brave enough to ask, like “What is iambic?” Too afraid of looking stupid for the first time in my life, of breaking my perfect record.

Since then I’ve figured out iambic and also faced facts—that perfect records are there to be broken. 🙂 Like vinyl records on a tile floor.

But other things, I haven’t got so squared away. Like, what do you do with yourself when you don’t (yet) earn a living from your chosen art? How do you break it to people that your jobs are just “day jobs?” How do you convey that there’s nothing glorious or pretentious about this–you just work the minimum you have to in order to eat and then spend the rest of the time on art?

What do you tell people when they ask that dreaded question: What do you do?

Do they mean for money?

I guess then I should say, “I’m a book-shelver girl.” Because that is what I do for money at the local library.

Sometimes I think I should be an exotic dancer. That would be more fun to say.

But then again, they would have a hard time getting me to take my shirt off. Like, even just the shirt I have on over my tank top. Because, see, I’m not only a book-shelver girl and a secret writer in her attic room—I’m an ex-Mormon, too. And those habits die hard, baby. Something sleeveless—oh my! What a siren I am.

So maybe I could redirect the question to education: I have a Bachelor’s in Culture, Literature, and the Arts, I might say. Which is pretty much like saying I have a book of poetry published through a small press. Both true. Both nothing you can earn much money with.

So there’s the other option of telling the truth, of telling them what I really am—that secret insignia under the button-up you tear off in a phone booth before you run out to save the world, cape fluttering behind you…

I am a writer.

I am a writing tutor.

I am a champion of voice. Of individual expression. Of the creative process.

And the only self I’m interested in is this secret self—the true self—the self that bleeds and dies and fears and wakes up at two in the morning and wonders what the hell it’s all for anyway. The self that no one will discuss over espressos at the coffee shop, the self that averts its gaze from the other bus passengers, the self that is papered over with cordiality and manners and sociocultural scripts.

“Hi! How are you?”

“Fine. You?”

“Great.”

I’m interested in what’s underneath.

Exactly the parts you don’t want me to see. That’s what I watch for.

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