Sunday, March 6, 2011

Start to Finish

It started so innocently. All the big revelations do, don’t they?

This move means losing much of our square footage. That means downsizing. That means making painful choices about what has to stay and what has to go. Today, I realized that means possibly parting with the beautiful hope chest Russ made me seven years ago.

The idea of leaving it crushes me. I remember how excited I was when he carried up the stairs of my tiny third floor walk up college apartment. It still has little claw marks from my long deceased kitty Isabella, also a gift from Russ. It’s where I kept my old memories from my childhood and high school. And though we’re still not 100% certain it has to go, unfortunately it’s not on the top priority list of things to take. So today, I opened it and took out the contents.

At first, there was laughter. My junior high pictures of my best friend Yennifer and me eating ice cream cake with coffee filters on our heads (I have no idea why). Old photographs of my brother and me on family vacations. My God awful poetry that reminded me of why, to this day, I write professionally and still can’t write a decent poem to save my life. My old badge from summer camp when I was 11… I worked so hard to earn every bead on it. The script from the Christmas church play my old neighbor, Chelsea, and I starred in during those years when I wanted to be an actress. And, perhaps the most hilarious, the plaque I was awarded in sixth grade for “ Most Outstanding DARE essay.”

I stopped laughing when I saw the picture of my old friend Jason, who died in 2002, with me at Cannon Beach. I got even sadder when I read the poem my high school English teacher wrote for the students of our AP English class the day before we graduated and his wise words to us. The senior wills, the goals I wrote down, my final poem… all depressing. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but as I looked at my things, my mother’s voice came back to me.

“So do them, already,” she said during our last phone conversation when she asked for the umpteenth time how all my projects were going and I told her for the umpteenth time that I am working on them.

“Finish something.”

Finish something.

The last decade of my life has pretty much been a perpetual state of chaos, there’s no denying that. All my travels and adventures and strange jobs outside the realm of 9 to 5 and lack of stability have left me with very little structure and rarely a routine. And I’ve managed to scrape by and scratch out a life. But I have so many things I’ve started that I haven’t finished. And today it hit me that I’ve been using all of that as an excuse.

I am a GREAT starter. But I am not a finisher. I’ve been that way my entire life.

I’m a starter, not a finisher. Shit.

That’s a tough thing for me to admit, but it’s true. And the kicker is, this is quite literally the worst possible timing for me to realize this. I mean, technically I’m doing it right now. I’m standing up blogging in my kitchen trying to finish dinner while a bunch of half packed boxes sit in the office. My whole goal today was to get the office packed. Shit!

We’re in the midst of yet another beginning. And beginnings are what I do best. I’m all about apartment hunting, job hunting, packing, imagining our new lives and new jobs and new everything. It’s terrifying, but it’s exciting. Because beginnings are what I do. Actually finishing things? Not so much.

And once we get over there, it’s going to be unpacking and adjusting and getting used to the newness. Not a lot of time, if any, to finish the projects I was so excited about starting. For example, my novel I began during NaNoWriMo in 2008, finally finished a draft of in early 2010, had professionally edited and even began the rewrites. Then came the epic road trip, the draft of which I’ve also started. Not to mention the business Russ and I plan to launch as soon as we recover financially from losing our asses on the house I wanted so desperately to buy and eventually remodel (shit!) or the admittedly amazing side business idea I came up with about a month ago that I’d just love to get the time and funds to get going. I have so many projects I desperately want to finish. But I’m a starter. Of course.

Twelve year old Jessica was a ignorant child who had no idea that the beads she busted her little ass for were worthless and she could get them just as easily at a college Mardi Gras party and they’d mean the same thing because they’re beads. She didn’t know the winning essay she composed on the evils of drugs was not much more than propaganda meant to scare kids out of trying things that may or may not harm them, but in the end, wouldn’t be necessary to be scared of if parents would just be 100% honest instead of using fear tactics. It was easy to laugh at twelve year old Jessica.

Sixteen year old Jessica was an overweight, unhappy, miserable, lost, constantly tired girl with Depression and acne and braces and felt alone in the world. Her bad poetry can’t be helped. But eighteen year old Jessica… she had some real goals. She had dreams and she saw a light at the end of the tunnel that was her time in Yakima. She wanted to accomplish things. And twenty nine year old Jessica still wants to accomplish over half those things. And today, it was eighteen year old Jessica who taught twenty nine year old Jessica a lesson: I am a starter. Not a finisher. Shit.

For God’s sakes, I don’t even like to finish my beauty products! As I clean out the cupboards and drawers, I find bottles of lotions and night creams and eyeshadows that are 80% gone because God forbid I finish a bottle of something and have to replace it. That’s so stupid. Now I’ve got a bunch of bottles with drops of expensive, expired, useless, dry junk. Awesome.

I want to believe that I’ve got another 100 years on this planet with plenty of time to finish that novel, the road trip memoir, launch the businesses, build my freelancing business back up, etc. etc. etc. If the last year has taught me anything, it’s that no one knows how much time we have. I know why I haven’t finished my books entirely… simple fear of failure. I mean, what if I finish them and bust my ass getting an agent and then I don’t get a publisher? That would be tragic. But the only thing more tragic than that would be not finishing.

My tale was heard, and yet it was not told.” This was written by a young Chidiock Tichborne in 1586 just before he was executed for treason. And centuries later, that line bitch slapped me right across the face. I need to become a finisher.

I’d like to say this little revelation will cause me to sit my ass in my desk chair and make the final changes to my novel and then do the tremendous task of writing about the great road trip of 2010. But right now, I literally don’t have a desk chair. It’s packed. We’re not even taking the desk. I’ve realized I’m a starter and not a finisher at a time when I truly cannot finish.

Even though I make fun of myself all the time and am aware of my thousands of flaws, this one was hard for me to admit. This blog post is to hold myself accountable. Because eventually, I’m going to get moved and unpack my boxes and figure out what hours I’ll be working, and where, and figure out some kind of schedule and dare I say…routine. And then I’ll know exactly when I can sit in the chair and finish. And I will. I have to. After all, it was eighteen year old Jessica who found the courage to make huge changes that led to her losing the weight, gaining the confidence, falling in love, and becoming someone who could love herself. I don’t want to let her… me… down. I’ve truly never really thought about how amazing it would feel to actually finish. I’m excited to find out…no matter how long it takes. 


MOM said...

Although you are viewing yourself as a starter and not a finisher I have to tell you that is not the way I see you. I see you as someone with dreams and you my dear are not afraid to go after them! I mean really who hasn't dreamed of getting in the car and visiting all the places across this nation? Now tell me...who has had the guts to do it? I only know one...YOU!!! Each time you post you bring a smile to my face. You live big somedays and I love it! Vegas, California ...trips of a lifetime. Writing instead of a 9-5 job because you believe in your awesomeness....WONDERFUL!
I have no doubt you'll buckle down and finish those books and when you do allow yourself to believe in yourself as much as I do!
As for that hope chest lovingly made by your hub with all your childhood memories. Find room for it! Save those things inside. Believe me. One day they will bring a fabulous day for you and your own daughter. I have one with all those silly things inside. My daughters and I have spent afternoons laughing at my poems of angst and love. We've laughed about the goofy pictures and even fallen over reading the diary of 9 year old MOM. They are important...they helped make you into wonderful you!
I wish you all the luck in the world and don't you dare stop dreaming. It's what keeps us going and everyone should spend more time going after dreams instead of just being settled with what they have!
Big hugs sweetie! Love ya!

JessicaLee said...

Awwww, thank you Mary! You are the best. :) What I wouldn't give to read the diary of 9 year old MOM! I bet it's precious.

Anonymous said...

If you really weren't a wouldn't be able to finish that blog...not to mention all the articles you've written on a deadline. ;) Just sayin.'

....Seriously, really enjoyed the honesty of this piece. You've accomplished so much and no doubt have a lot more to accomplish...and you WILL. Because you already are. :)

Annie Boreson said...

I love this blog...particularly since I can relate so easily to how you feel. I'm a great starter too. When I dive in to something I even drag the unwilling side to me with every intention of going the distance, but I never do. I, too, have a book to finish. It sits waiting for me to get off my duff and complete it. I really don't know what holds me back. Like MoM, I do not see you like that at all. You are finishing a dream to move to a place you've dreamed about for some time. THAT's a finisher.

MandM said...

Don't you wish we all maintained our vibrant imaginations we had at 12 years old! The world had no limits and it's only when we grow up do we realize how difficult it is to follow through with them. At least you are starting projects and living your life to the absolute fullest. To me your life has been one big adventure and you have accomplished so much so why focus on the stuff you haven't? You will get there :) As for the hope chest, don't throw it away!! Those are the special things that mean the most when you are old and gray! If it really won't fit why doesn't the hubs maybe try turning it into a small end table or night stand that could work in your new place? That way its sentimental value remains, you are just repurposing it.

gatordad said...

So, finish the move, finish the unpacking, finish the furniture arranging, finish your address and bank account moves, finish hooking up the power and the cable and the phone and internet connections, finish setting up your office and then finish the Cross-Country Trip book! I really want to read it...

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