Category Archives: rambles

Thoughts on Trauma

My kid has been watching Trolls. Thankfully, it’s slowed down, but my goodness, for a while it was on all the time.

Since one of my favorite hobbies is overanalyzing things, I spent my precious time cuddled with my child pondering this movie.

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God, look at these monsters. image from Dreamworks

A quick overview of the movie for anyone lucky enough not to have seen it: Bergens eat trolls because eating trolls makes them happy. Nothing else can make them happy. The trolls managed to escape their years of captivity and now live hidden and free in the forest. The bergens manage to find them again and terribleness ensues.

Now, the male lead of the movie had his grandmother kidnapped and presumably eaten by the Bergens. She was trying to save him and got caught instead.

The rest of the trolls are terrible to him. He experienced some terrible trauma. And instead of doing anything that would be remotely helpful, they just make it worse. Huge, noisy parties, ransacking his bunker, and general asshattery to this poor troll.

The message of this movie seemed to be “Just get over it.” Or maybe “Love will help you get over this life-changing trauma.” In either case, they did a terrible job of it. What is this going to say to children who have experienced trauma like this? If they can’t ~find the love~ or whatever to make their lives normal? “Maybe I should sing more?” “Maybe I should hug more?” “Maybe I should realize my life-changing trauma doesn’t matter to anyone else and I should just shut up about it although it has fundamentally changed me?” Like, I don’t get it.

I’ve always tried to treat trauma gently in my writing. I’ve tried to use the trauma my characters experience to work through some of my own issues. But I’ve never tried to gaslight my characters. I’ve never tried to tell them “Just rub some proverbial dirt in it, you’re fine” and have them just move along with their life. No, trauma is this weird tricky thing to work through. I feel terrible for this troll. The rest of their troll society lives in denial about their societal trauma (Our entire race was enslaved and eaten for God knows how long) and throwing loud crazy parties with fireworks and completely unprepared for an attack. And this one troll is trying to stay safe. They’re awful to this poor traumatized troll who is trying to keep them safe.

I haven’t been searching the rest of my kid’s movies for terrible trauma treatment, but I have a feeling I’m going to be finding more now that it’s at the forefront of my brain. It’s interesting to see how trauma is treated and I’ll be curious to point out more as I find it.

The one upside to this is the Hair Up in the Air song is GREAT for being stuck in rush hour traffic because you can just say “GO GO GO” and “We ain’t never gonna stop!” like a million times as you try to get to the airport to pick up your husband because he was in Fresno again. So high five to them for that.

Have there been any movies that struck you as odd or insensitive how they’ve treated trauma? I’m just curious about it now.

Revision Breakthrough

Another breakthrough. Or at least one that’s making sense and gets me excited to actually do it.

I grew out my eyebrows so I could start with a clean slate. I’m HispanicLite, so I have some amazing eyebrow powers.

It was torture growing them out. They get so big and bushy and the most terrible discovery, I have grey eyebrow hairs!!

I finally got them waxed yesterday. I’m feeling pretty bitchin’ today:

An "uh oh what does she know that we don't?" selfie #selfie #smirk #fresheyebrows #feelingpretty #plumtree

A post shared by Mona Trimble (@tremblingtrimble) on

As I was putting on my facepaint this morning, I realized waxing my eyebrows is like revising my novel. Yeah, it hurts and I cringe and my face gets a bit red and puffy, but I feel better and I look better. And we could have this whole talk about the patriarchy and beauty standards or whatever, but, it’s nice to feel nice.

And as far as the novel revision goes, yeah, it’s hard and it hurts sometimes. But you rip off that strip of wax and all these stray words come off. It’s clean and sleek.

This revision of Canary is coming along. I am ripping out so many stray hairs. I’m still using the big strips of wax. The tweezers will be coming out soon. But for now, I’m looking at it in a new way. And, while it hurts, I can see an end product. I’m feeling it today.

And, like eyebrows (mine at least), if I rip too much out,  just give it a little time and it will grow right back (or maybe just check my Trash folder in Scrivener. It’s all the same 😉 )

And my enormous eyes are terrifying and hysterical at the same time, so I’m going to leave them 😂🤣😂🤣

Deep Work and Flow and Motherhood

My husband bought Deep Work a while back. I was flipping through our Kindle library and saw it. I started to read it.

Interesting book. I’d agree that it’s hard to focus on deep work, that undistracted focus on something. It’s akin to Flow, getting so into what you’re doing you just lose track of everything and slide into that blissful work.

So, I’ve been reading this book today and at one point, the author, Cal Newport, was humblebragging that he didn’t have a smartphone.

I didn’t own my first smartphone until 2012 (when my pregnant wife gave me an ultimatum—”you have to have a phone that works before our son is born.”

Like, holy shit. Not being reachable to his pregnant wife wasn’t enough of a motivator to have a phone that worked? She had to tell him to get a phone.

So, as I pondered this, I ran into this HuffPo article on the Mental Load. (Heh, yeah, I haven’t been doing much deep work today 😂)  You Should’ve Asked is another good one.

And, as I’ve been pondering on this, I’ve been thinking about the privilege to just be the dad. To not worry about the kids so much. To not be carrying the load of the kid’s schedule, their next doctor visit, and oh yeah, the dog needs his rabies shot. And of course, not all moms are the primary caregiver, etc etc. However, I think the vast majority of stay at home mothers would fall under the primary caregiver category.

Honestly, I can’t even imagine what that would be like. My little yellow to-to book is full of house stuff and my writing stuff and our calendars and menu planning and a million little things to keep track of. I would be lost without my little planner. But to not even need it? Seriously, that blows my mind.

In college, I had a serious, passionate fling with physics. Then Calculus 2 happened. And happened again. And I tapped out. BUT during that very steamy year or two, I was in a lecture with … I don’t even remember her name. I wonder if I could even find it now. Anyway. It was about being a woman in the field. Another woman stood and said someone else (a man, of course) had said the best time to have a kid was in grad school. The speaker said she was super duper lucky because her employer was so amazing to her when she had her kids. The whole topic of children seemed like a minefield at the time.

And, it still is.

I wondered if writing this down would help me to tease any of it out, but I don’t think it did. It all comes down to being a woman in our society. Where we are so pro-life! HOORAY!! but then snarl about food stamps. Where there are so many hungry kids. When women who have chosen to be childless get badgered about when they’re having kids. There is no right answer. And I know I’ve fallen into so many of these same traps. I need to be beautiful. I need to be skinny. All this bullshit and privilege.

Anyway. Them’s my thoughts. I still have no idea how to work through it. I never got around to reading Lean In, but:

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 2.07.23 PM

And yes, I named my old Kindle “magic book holder.” I’m curious to see if this is enlightening. AND I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Little Kid me Would be so Jealous Right Now

When I was a kid, I devoured books. I just couldn’t get enough of them. I loved getting into an author’s head and universe and having an adventure.

I’ve been critiquing a friend’s novel and I think the younger me would have just shit her pants at the privilege. Playing in another author’s world and pointing out flaws or the raddest shit ever and actively helping make a book better? It’s just amazing. I am transported to being a kid and reading Stephen King for the first time. It’s that level of amazement I feel sometimes as I’m critiquing. It’s seeing the world a new way. It’s fun and delightful.

I tend to be a very curious person and ask so many questions. My kid hates it when we’re at the zoo and the keepers are out because I just love to learn so much. “Mom, c’mon!” *hand tug, hand tug* 😀 But being in a dialogue with authors is so much fun. Every question I have, everything that doesn’t make sense, I ask my questions and find out. I like my certainty. And even if something is ambiguous in the story, I’ll ask my little questions and find out.

Anyway. I was making a cup of chai before getting back to my writing session and I realized how rad this all was. I hope your day is just as rad.

Courage

I’m not brave. I mean, it’s pretty obvious. I was that weird, quiet girl hiding behind a book growing up and I’m still that weird, quiet woman. Nothing has really changed. Maybe I’m better at hiding my inner weirdo, but she’s still totally there.

Anyway, there’s this popular little bit of self-help/stoic advice. What’s the worst that could happen and how bad could it really be? For a lot of men, the answer is, I lose my business and things are hard and weird for a while. But for women, the answer is: some man kills me or stalks me or sends me rape and death threats.

And it’s not like this is clear out of left field. It’s not like this is something that hasn’t happened. Women are killed and raped by men all the time.

And the last thing I’d like to do is bring this sort of craziness down on my family.

I know this is very unlikely. But this is one more stumbling block in my way. I can’t not think about this. But I can think about it and work through it and have some contingency plans.

Anyway, this is the thought I’ve been playing with lately. I’m working through my feelings about it and how to deal with it. And I think once I’ve either decided the risk is low enough, I’ll move forward.

I wonder how many of these stumbling blocks are of my own creation? I suppose I’ll find out as I cross them off.

Pupdate

Now that the dogs are feeling better and have figured out what to do with their tongues— Brigadoon especially. “I have no teeth. How do I hold this damn thing in my mouth now?!”— they’re doing their normal dog things. They’re still on pain meds, but they’re seeming super normal and happy again.

Now that they’re feeling normal, I’m feeling better.

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sleepy dogs in sunshine

Now just waiting for my productivity to catch up again 🙂

Mean Mommy & Comfort Zones

My kid is at a “Try it to see if you like it!” class at the local immersion Spanish immersion preschool.

I thought I was going to get the tour before the class, but it’s after. So, I sat around for a while, then the kids split off to do crafts and activities and stuff. The teacher was all, “Well, you can stay or…” I was all, “Uhhhh…” I waited another minute, then I left. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet and blah blah blah.

So, I left my kid there without saying goodbye. I feel terrible about it. But she’s there with her peers and the women teaching the school are so nice. And I know it’s going to be a rough transition anyway. They said it was going to be a 2-4 month transition for her to be used to the class.

Anyway. I left her.

It’s so hard for her to be out of her comfort zone. And it’s hard for me to push her out of her comfort zone.

Which makes me think about comfort zones in general. This is what makes it so hard to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. We’re both playing the mommy role and the 4-year-old with strangers speaking another language role. No wonder we get so complacent.

So, I’m sitting here crying, feeling terrible, but I know this is good for her. Her little brain is so plastic, she’ll pick up another language really quick. And god knows she needs some playmates her own age. Kids she sees more frequently than once a week at Kindermusik. So. I know she needs this. But. Always that but.

I need to push myself out of these comfort zones. I have to start querying books. I have to revise these books until they’re ready for public consumption.

I know I left my kid in a safe place, with kind, competent teachers and I’m a bawling mess. Pushing myself to do more is going to be hard. But, I know, once she’s been there for a little while, she’s going to love it. I know once I’ve reached a new normal, I’m going to love it too. It might take some tears, it might take some exquisitely uncomfortable moments, but, I’m going to do it.

UPDATE:
She loved it. When I was talking to the director after, my kid was, “Sign me up!” I don’t know where she learned “sign me up!” but she said it and we did. She went back today and she was so superduper excited to go in.

I guess I don’t have any excuses anymore. Here’s to climbing over my own boundaries.