We’re running through a second binge watch round of The Goldbergs, which by the way uses current-day slang in the show’s dialog, a pattern that’s apparently of little concern to the show’s writers despite it being set in the 80s. Maybe they’re doing the reverse of what the Psych writers did, a show that used vintage slang and dated sociocultural references as part of the joke.
So, last night Erica, the only daughter and oldest kid, was in a difficult discussion with Barry, her eccentric middle child brother, and finally said, “Stop talking!” This got my attention, not because it’s a little rude and certainly abrupt, but because I sometimes say it myself. I won’t tell you to whom I say it too because then you’d know too much about my marriage. Don’t worry, as rude as it is, I only say it rarely and when necessary. It’s a remnant of my take charge personality who still pops her head up every once in a while.
Erica was trying to do a good big-sister deed by first silencing her loquacious brother and then schooling him on her proven practices for getting over on their mom and dad. She’s kind of a stinker. Smart, but still a stinker. Some might be disappointed that this young girl, talented with a beautiful singing voice and touting an impressive academic track record that had once involved hanging out with geeks, was eventually snagged by the lure of popularity and slowly transformed into one of the cool kids.
Which brings me to my main point today.
Some of us do what we need to do to survive within the context of our life’s circumstances. For Erica, that means putting on a front that has her parents believing she’s a swim instructor and a school band member while in reality she uses the time to party with her friends, hence points on the popularity meter. That’s how important being popular is to Erica.
Erica may not be the best example for my next point, but you’ll get it.
My new book is called Rescuing Christina. It’s about the first five years of life with our youngest adopted daughter. During that period, I was the breadwinner, and my husband was Mr. Mom. I worked in the alpha male-dominated high-tech consulting industry as a senior project manager. My role was like Mikey’s, the little kid whose brother’s made him eat the Life cereal first to see if he liked it before they risked their own taste buds. I got all the stuff that no one else wanted to deal with, and it was usually the politically risky stuff that clients like to palm off on consultants. I never said no to a stinky assignment. You wouldn’t say no either if you were self-employed and your family was depending upon your income. Let’s just say I was always “on,” thinking and planning and preparing for presentations and meetings and doing battle in the sweetest way I knew how. Unfortunately, the pace and the intensity, not to mention the politics involved, can take a toll on a sweet woman like me. I didn’t always behave like the dream I am deep down inside. Kind of like Erica. I think (I’ll make this analogy work if it takes all afternoon).
So my book is out with the beta readers right now, and the feedback is trickling in. Woe is me, my character is taking a beating: unlikable, calculating, self-serving, intense, hard to love… It’s a little disconcerting, but then again, the readers don’t really know me that well in the first place, and in the second, none of them (except for two) understand the environment I was working in. Yes, work was a focus for me, but it had to be. I had a family to take care of. Which begs the question, would they have said the same thing if I were a man? I don’t think so. But that’s neither here nor there.
I do care whether more people than just my beta readers will misunderstand my character, and I’m wondering what the heck to do about it, if anything. I suppose this is where I realize I need to “deed the space” to God and wait. The idea of delaying the release date bums me out, but maybe there’s more that needs to be done.
And He reminds me. I serve the story. The story does not serve me.
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