The Sense of an Ending

Deep into my first Julian Barnes and this line, like so many others in this novel, sticks with me. Melancholy, haunting, too truthful.

Sometimes I think the purpose of life is to reconcile us to its eventual loss by wearing us down, by proving, however long it takes, that life isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Sweet, bitter musings, as we ponder what it is that this means to us.

Various Artists at Silverlake Lounge

A couple months ago, I was incredibly fortunate to be asked to participate in Various Artists, a variety show put together by my friend and fellow writer, Wayne Lewis.

The show took place Saturday, September 27th, and featured amazing stand up and music, along with what I hope was some decent fiction (mine).

Time for a confession: I've never read my work  aloud before, unless you count reading in the kitchen to my husband as he pours a beer or mans a stir-fry. I had opportunities in school, but mostly wussed out because I am (mis)guided by fear and public speaking (and public humiliation) is very high on my list of debilitating concerns.

But it felt like the time to say "yes." Big risks hopefully reap decent-sized rewards. I was nervous as I imagined I'd be while waiting to read my short story "Furries," but after I did it, I felt not high or even proud, but, and this might sound weird, like I was a writer.

I mean, I know I am a writer, because this is what I do every day (even if I don't get paid), but it felt like I finally put it out there to the world, sort of announced it by baring it all in the form of 800 plus words of fiction.

Thanks go to all the fellow performers with me that night--who made me feel extra special for performing among them, in the same venue and lineup and everything--and to Wayne, who went out of his way to make sure my reading debut was something special and happy and valuable, and like something I might (and could) do again.

For more photos of the show, see Wayne's website.

Various Artists - Avni.jpg

On Fear

I’ve become obsessed with mortality. I keep thinking, I’m thirty-one and repeating that as if it’s eighty-one and it’s so monumental a number, I can’t imagine how I’ve gotten to this place. What is it about rounding the corner from thirty that’s getting under my skin? Is it the biological clock thing, the idea that even if I’m not dying, something inside me is? Or is it the fact that I haven’t become anything yet? The fact that when I look at my parents now, I can see how they aren’t young anymore. And I worry about what they hoped I would be at this point, for them. Then I think that it’s that “fear of failure” I professed at the beginning of my very first workshop in Squaw Valley that is at the heart of all this crap. And do I think aging is failing, because you aren’t supposed to age if you’ve figured it all out, if you’ve become the person you were meant to become?

And who is that? Mother, wife, author, leader, actualized adult? A better Indian? A better daughter? A writer who’s had actual, tangible, society-approved success? What if I never become that person, does that mean I did actually fail, because I let the years pass by and nothing ever became of them?

Fear of failure, fear of dying, fear of wrinkles, fear of breaking my hip, is it all the same? Fear of being incapacitated against the potential that I could still have? Is this why when I see anyone younger than twenty-five, I lecture them about the opportunities they need to seize, the courage they need to have to conquer the things I was too shy or scared to conquer? Is this why, I’ve started to sound like an old lady, sharing lessons of the past that almost start with the phrase “In my day” but most often come out like, “Go to the party now because later, you won’t be able to and you’ll regret it”?

Regret, the fucking word. Is that the real thing here? If I was capable of living in the moment, without any sense of regret, would I feel fear the same way, or would I just be living, doing my best?

I’m asking a lot of questions, because I don’t know the answers. I just have fear.