Monday, June 17, 2013

Chapter 59: The Adult Child

Gothic Charm School book cover
The amazing Jillian Venters tried to give baby bats and other gothlings hope when she said her book “Gothic Charm School” that one good trick to getting your parents to except you is to be a good kid. Straight As (if you can) obedient, respectful, polite, creative, no drugs or alcohol. All that good stuff that I do naturally. And that other kids could do if they really wanted to. Good advice, Auntie Jillian. That should do the trick. What parent wouldn’t be happy to have THAT kid?
In season 7 of “Supernatural” the adorable lesbian Charlie said that to be who she wanted to be she had to be “indispensable” or something of the sort. Make it so that people need you. So she could be free to wear the clothes she wanted, like the nerdy things she did, and be open about stuff. Good plan, Charlie, got you a good job, friends, and you were happy.
Sadly, in a family of eleven, you are not indispensable. There are eight other kids who could do your job. And they all want the love and acceptance that you are trying desperately to get. Being an A-student is also just the norm in a large, homeschooled family. If you are a B-student there is something wrong with you. C-student and you need to quit social life (when have I had one of those??) and your job and just study. And still somehow magically pay for school. Oh, and have I mentioned how expensive your car insurance is? And your cell phone bill? You can at least pay for that! 
Charlie from Supernatural Season 7
Being respectful and polite to a fatal degree (even when being reamed by upset authority) is also normal and expected in day to day life. And let’s not even mention drugs and alcohol at this point. I cannot imagine what my parents would say if I came home high or intoxicated. Maybe the expectations wouldn’t be so freaking high if I had been a worse child. If we all had. Damn, why were we such good kids? Because my parents believed in discipline and we learned really fast to behave.
So all those wonderful theories and ideas from Charlie and Auntie Jillian are out the window. So what’s a goth-writer to do?
And that’s my point here. This is not about clothes. Yes, I am fashion obsessed when it comes to MY clothes (when I want to be. As I write this I am in my yoga pants and a shirt that I haven’t washed in 4 days) and I want to wear what I want. Like every other person in the world including my mother. I hate her sense of fashion. I would NEVER wear it. She buys more clothes in a year than I have in six. Which is a good point, to my gothy brethren: you want those gothy clothes? Buy them yourself. Know that when you get older though and have to pay for other things, that won’t be so easy.
The point is not just clothes and makeup (which I also love and haven’t worn in months). The point is that I cannot write either. Or draw or paint. The fear of my parents, their expectations, the guilt they instilled in me, the lack of support has blocked me. I can’t write because I think “Oh, yikes, what if mom read that violent scene?” (or that sexy scene!). One time I asked mom to proof read “Generations” my fantasy manuscript. Big mistake. I was traumatized when I got it back because of the comments she had written about my descriptions and my characters. Even where I am now, I can say safely that it was not constructive criticism. And I love that stuff. I eat it up!
What kind of a psychology study could this be? It has something to do with being a miserable twenty-three year old child. I am trapped in my parent’s house. “Run away” some morons once told me (well, several morons over the course of about seven years). No thanks. I could resort to prostitution and a strip club but I’d rather not. Lesser of two evils. The last thing I want to be is one of those over-done, over-written, crack whore stories that the “indie” and teen kids love.
“So you’re choosing to stay, you cannot complain”. It’s true. And I’m not. I’m writing about what is happening so I can make sense of it in my own head. The French word essayer is where we get our word “essay”. It means “to try”. Not “a paper you write in college”. This is an essay about being a goth, writer, adult child in a parent’s home.
I can hear the dreams of gothlings and baby bats everywhere who were going to be good kids and indispensable shattering and crashing twenty stories below. I’m sorry kids, I don’t know what to tell you. For me, I’m giving up right now. I’m wearing hideous, boring clothes (my dad still asked my mom when she was going to get me “decent” clothes when I was wearing a red t-shirt and jeans. What?) working as hard as I can at home, helping out, and trying to be respectful. Let me tell you, being respectful when you’re twenty-three and not getting any back is hard. Weather the storm, my friends.
Remember that scene from the movie version of “Master and Commander”? Willy is out on the broken rigging in the storm off the cape. It’s freezing and Jack knows this man has helped him win his prize when Willy gave him that model of the Acheron. And yet that rigging is acting as an anchor in the freezing water and the whole ship will go down unless it’s cut loose. Jack cuts it away and Willy drowns. His friends even have to help chop the offending rope. What I love about Jack Aubrey in the books (which I am reading with great joy) and the movie, is how strongly he can make a decision. The books make all the jokes about “navy discipline” real to me. Sometimes, we have to cut things loose just to survive. Fortunately, surviving is what I’m really good at. I’m a pirate that way. Take what I can, when I can. I give back more than a pirate (I’m talking POTC kind of pirate here), but that’s the other side of the coin.
So there it is, friends. Sometimes, your best isn’t good enough. I am not good enough. I have a 3.5 gpa at a university level. I got that while holding three jobs. To pay for the things I needed. I do not drink a lot. I have never done drugs. I work at home a lot to help out my massive family. I do errands for my mom. I drive the kids to classes and help them with school at home. I am polite. And somehow, I am healthy and in shape. And somehow… that is not good enough to let me wear a black and red dress with black lace and dark eye makeup. I’m at a loss, bats. 
It’s like giving up. But this ship (me?) will sink if I don’t cut something loose. Putting up with stifling your creativity and preferences for two or three more years won’t kill me. Sure, it may delay my writing career, but I’m not getting support and encouragement for that from ANYONE any way. I will be even more unhappy and the depression will sink in, but who cares? I need this ship to sail.
Years from now if I ever get famous enough for people to go digging for my sparse set of writings:
A college kid assisting an old professor looks down at my blog and laughs a little.
“Check this out, Doc,” he says, handing the printed blog to his superior.
“I’ll be damned,” the professor says, looking down his nose and through the lenses of his glasses. “What a post to write on such a date.”
“Day after Father’s Day,” the assistant muses. “Boy, she must have been a joy to have around.”

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