Saturday, December 11, 2010

reverb10: 11 things

11 Things

What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?
(Prompt Author: Sam Davidson)


Oh wow! 11 things on December 11th for 2011. How neat!

Ok that’s enough of that. It sounded wrong, didn’t it? You see, being all twinkly and jolly just doesn’t suit me. The funny thing is, if I’d been doing this last year I probably would’ve been responding in the way that the prompt authors intend. I’ve been a goody two-shoes for most of my life, doing what I’m told or what I think people expect of me in order to get that pat on the back/head and be accepted into the fold and then promptly forgotten for being so obedient. Apparently it was all in a desperate and futile attempt to gain my mother’s approval. A habit I have only been able to let go of this year. So really, it’s a breakthrough for me to write in the way that I have been – saying what I really mean and not being afraid to do so. (I know, I know, that almost sounded like the kind of emotional confession one might have heard on a talk show but fear not, I am still very much here.)

So, this project is not what I expected it to be, but it has certainly got me thinking. And just because I’m not writing in the rose-tinted style that the reverb10 team seem to prefer, it doesn’t mean that I am not also baring my heart. (I write this in response to Gwen Bell’s comment on my Party post.) I’m just not being quite so obvious about it.

Ok, so on with the prompt. The first thing I thought of that I wanted to eliminate, not in 2011, but in the moment that I received the email with the prompt (along with a photo of the author) was this: your face. Not YOUR face, but Sam Davidson’s face. I just don’t like it. Maybe that isn’t fair, but it was my honest first response.

Then I clicked on the link provided that inevitably took me to a book on Amazon. At first I was hopeful. (And I still live in hope that the prompt authors we were told we would be surprised by might include "real authors" with names like Dave Eggers or Barbara's my shiny dream, please don't take it away from me.)  Anyway, I clicked and was hopeful.  Maybe it’s not a self-help book, I thought. After all, it’s got a grey cover and has a picture of a trash can on it. This appeals to the wanna-be minimalist in me. I’ve never been able to rid my life of clutter. Maybe this prompt wasn’t going to be so bad after all…

So I clicked to look inside the book (because I like to know where the authors are really coming from), and I was not vomiting. One of the chapters in his book even talks about getting rid of extra cheese. And another even suggests getting rid of his very book. I almost started to feel cheerful. Then I saw the title of his concluding chapter. He has three words for you. “Find your passion.” That's when I let go of the straws.  I should have known really, because of the three words he mentions in the prompt: “change your life.” I have three words too. Oh not again. I’m now adding passion to the list of swear words I try never to use (the first one was fashion – hey look, they rhyme!)

Oooooh, I feel a list coming on.

11 things I will not be saying in 2011

1. I have to have this, it’s so fashionable / hot / NOW.

2. I am not dossing about, I’m trying to find my passion.

3. I’m giving it my all.

4. I’m giving it 110, or even, 111%

5. Doing ______ has changed my life.

6. You should try _______ , it will change your life.

7. The mileage on this is amazing.

8. I just found the most wonderful insurance policy.

9. I think I’ll take up running.

10. Let’s start saving so we can send Jake to an exclusive private school.

11. Aren’t the LibDems doing a wonderful job? It’s such a shame I didn’t vote for them in the last election.


On a more “serious” note, I did consider making a list of 11 “things”* to eliminate from my life (see footnote for the dizzying array of “things” I could select), but 1) the word eliminate makes me think of taking a crap and 2) I find it too calculating and premature to try to name 11 “things” to get rid of during the whole of next year, not least because the number 11 has been picked out in such a nauseating way, but also because it will feel too much like “things” I must force myself to get rid of, so I’m not going to do it. If and when it feels right, I’ll do it for my own reasons and not because some stranger who knows nothing about me or my “passion” tells me to. (It’s ok, it’s still 2010, I have another 20 days to bandy these words about).

As for my life, I'm perplexed as to why it's referred to as if it is something independent of me (see prompt, above and replace the words your life with your pet, for that could be an interesting exercise).  I’m also utterly sick and tired of hearing about all the wonderful things I can do to change it. I’m 38 years old, the past is gone, the future is yet to come, and presently, I’m sitting in my pajamas, typing. The present is all any of us have to work with and life itself constantly changes in its flux and flow. So, to me, taking a breath – that is “life changing.”  Answering “yes” to my son when he asks me, “Mummy, are you happy?” that is “life changing.” Tasting every sip of my Earl Grey tea, that is “life changing.”  Going to the bathroom to take care of my bodily functions – yep, you guessed it, that’s “life changing” too. Speaking of which, off I now go, to change my life. I predict that it’s gonna smell great.

* thing (from

1. a material object without life or consciousness; an inanimate object.
2. some entity, object, or creature that is not or cannot be specifically designated or precisely described: The stick had a brass thing on it.
3. anything that is or may become an object of thought: things of the spirit.
4. things, matters; affairs: Things are going well now.
5. a fact, circumstance, or state of affairs: It is a curious thing.
6. an action, deed, event, or performance: to do great things; His death was a horrible thing.
7. a particular, respect, or detail: perfect in all things.
8. aim; objective: The thing is to reach this line with the ball.
9. an article of clothing: I don't have a thing to wear.
10. things,
a. implements, utensils, or other articles for service: I'll wash the breakfast things.
b. personal possessions or belongings: Pack your things and go!
11. a task; chore: I've got a lot of things to do today.
12. a living being or creature: His baby's a cute little thing.
13. a thought or statement: I have just one thing to say to you.
14. Informal . a peculiar attitude or feeling, either positive or negative, toward something; mental quirk: She has a thing about cats.
15. something signified or represented, as distinguished from a word, symbol, or idea representing it.
16. Law . anything that may be the subject of a property right.
17. new thing, Jazz . free jazz.
18. the thing,
a. something that is correct or fashionable: That café is the thing now.
b. that which is expedient or necessary: The thing to do is to tell them the truth.

19. do / find one's own thing, Informal . to pursue a lifestyle that expresses one's self. Also, do / find one's thing.
20. make a good thing of, Informal . to turn (a situation, experience, etc.) to one's own profit; benefit by: She made a good thing of her spare-time hobbies.
21. not to get a thing out of,
a. to be unable to obtain information or news from: The police couldn't get a thing out of him.
b. to fail to appreciate, understand, or derive aesthetic pleasure from: My wife likes opera, but I don't get a thing out of it.
22. see / hearthings, Informal . to have hallucinations.


Sam Davidson said...

Thanks for not vomiting (at first) when you took a look at my book.

Also, I hate that picture of my face, but it's the best one I've got at the moment.

And, I'm glad that the idea of passion nauseates you. Or makes you groan. It's an overused word that I hope to redeem.

Lastly, I like all the 11 things you won't be saying. I've said #9 a lot and only acted it on it once or twice.

Anonymous said...

I think I just did a life-changing wee in my pants from laughing so hard. Please, please, you have to finish this month of reverb prompts, Heartful. They are slaying me slowly one by one and your posts are the best self-help I've ever seen.


tree shadow moon said...

(Teeheeheeheehee....this whole thing is quite surreal!)....
anyhow, Ms HB - what I was thinking, was this.... isn't it about time that we (you and I)(re-)set up an on-line writing project of our own? What do you say? A joint free-writing blog? It could be the two of us, it could be other people too.
Say, for example, a weekly prompt. Nothing that requires too much time (if it's daily I panic as I know I can't). It could be for 2011, or just in general.
It could be different kinds of writing too. We could ponder it a bit via email. I'd like to do it. Would you like to play too? I do hope so, I'd be ever so happy.

Sam - the photo isn't bad :) I'm more neutral as I'm not participating in the project :)

Heartful said...

Since I'm pedantic, I can't help but say this:

Sam, I think the photo on your twitter profile is better than the one that was emailed to us.

Also, it's not the idea of passion that nauseates me, it's the way the word has been used. Ok, I'm shutting up now.

Square-Peg Karen said...

Love the way you bare your heart - although my stomach hurts from laughing so much.

Also got a kick out of the grace-filled back and forth between Sam Davidson and you in the comment section here.

It's (oh shit, I almost said something like "life changing") a big deal (?) to me to see (and remember) that a person can be honest and funny about not liking something (and also very, very specific) without being personally vitriolic!