My Little Red Wagon of Psychosis

Last night I dreamt I had to go to the bathroom. In my dream I was dragging a little red wagon with a giant ceramic toilet in its bed. I was wearing a one-piece jumpsuit that I had to remove completely in order to crouch over the toilet, which I would do every time I thought I found some privacy....

Except that by the time I removed the jumpsuit, someone would pop out of nowhere, laughing and pointing. There was nowhere to go. Nowhere to poop in peace. The scenes changed. Inside. Outside. In the basement of a party. Wherever I went, strange faces popped out of the shadows.

"Are you pooping? Ew!" the voices would say. Meanwhile, totally naked, I strained to cover myself and move along, tangled in my silly little jumpsuit.

I have had recurring toilet dreams for the past year or so. When I was working on the book, I even had a dream that Hal was on the toilet. That he kept asking me to close the door so he could have his privacy. "I just want to go to the bathroom in peace," he said. The "me" in my dream, last night, would agree.

It was obvious what the dream meant. I was writing about us. I was writing about him, cracking open the bathroom door. Exposing him and our marriage.

Last night's dream turned into an epic. A dream about a woman in a one-piece jumpsuit who couldn't find a place to poop. Who had to go so badly, her stomach ached. My stomach ached but first, I needed some privacy.

I'm a very modest person. I never went naked in locker rooms. Ive never showered at the gym. I'm self-conscious because I know people are looking. Because I have impossible standards of beauty. Because I stupidly think someone is going to care that I'm imperfect.


I have always been self conscious everywhere but my writing. I am confident staring into the light of the screen, typing almost completely with one hand. I always did better writing letters to strangers than conversing with friends, always unable to confess my love out loud.

To this day, the only work I've ever sold was personal. Essays and short stories with a jumpsuit around my ankles, pooping. Much like many of you, who open your bathroom doors and stand naked in front of an audience of strangers.

Rockabye isn't the first time I have been published spilling my guts. I spent my teen years acting as the lead contributor for a teen book series, my late teens, touring and speaking to audiences of strangers about how I was rumored to be the worst kisser in Junior High. Basically, I've been dragging this little red wagon and toilet behind me for the last decade.

The thing is, this. We all poop. We all make fashion mistakes (a jumpsuit at a bar is a bad idea, something I have proved to myself in my waking life, as well as my sleeping one). And for writers, bloggers, people who can't not be honest and open and naked, there is always the risk of indecent exposure resulting in criticism and mockery. Because the majority of readers don't know us, personally. Or love us. Or even care about what happens to us.

And maybe that's what the dream meant. Maybe it was me just being afraid. Knowing that even though, everybody poops, it is more respectable to do so in private. Behind locked doors. God forbid a gassy woman would drag a toilet through the street. There is such thing is TMI and privacy and for whatever reason, I have always felt the need to expose myself.

At the end of the dream, I finally gave up. I was too tired and bloated to hold it all in any longer. I hiked to the end of a pier and crouched over the toilet, surrounded by people in snorkels and scuba masks, who were laughing and pointing and watching me from the water.

It was my moment of realization that I had to face the music. It was my own fault that I couldn't poop in peace, because I chose to leave the door open. By making the choice to go public with my private life, I couldn't be insecure. Or self-conscious.

I'd rather go naked than wear fear was my slogan. (Ah, yes... My proverbial bumper sticker on the road of life.) Or as the dream revealed, I'd rather poop in public than live a life of constipation, even if it meant being criticized or ostracized or disliked.

Voicing our opinions will always come with a price. Making a professional life out of a personal one is a choice. And one we must take full responsibility for.

GGC

25 comments:

Hal | 5:01 PM

Ah, the wonderful notion of pooping in peace. Archer has blown that (ahem) out of the water.

nancyt | 7:19 PM

Some of the most beautiful prose I've ever read has been by people baring their souls about ugly stuff in an endearing, humanizing, universal kind of way. (Some of David Sedaris's recent selections in the New Yorker come to mind).

I don't know how the experiences go for the writers, but for readers, the process of watching someone dig deep in their memories, pull out something less than beautiful, describe it well, and keep on writing is an amazing thing. (For those of us who are thoughtful and appreciative, anyway.)

But we readers who love you no matter what aren't living the life of one who's bared all; we only benefit from your honesty. Does it help knowing that you have the power to change and challenge people--that sure, some might be laughing, but some are going to be loving it, passing it along to sisters or husbands or friends, talking about you and saying, "You've GOT to read this!"

I can't wait to read your book; it's on my Amazon wish list, and I'll be preordering it as the release date grows closer.

Don't worry about the dreams. Enjoy being wide awake.

PunditMom | 7:27 PM

I wish I could be as personally honest as you in my writing. I'm still afraid. Partly because a family member has declared they read mt blog and claim they have been hurt by it. I'm not sure why or how -- does talking about how you love one family member diminish your feelings about another? Apparently for some. So I hold it in. Except when the dreams come -- though I haven't dreamt about a red wagon! ;)

Anonymous | 7:42 PM

I really appreciate this post. I am writer, too, but not as published and feel like I am holding back. My family doesn't approve. Have you had family members uncomfortable with your writing and how do you handle that? I think you are a beautiful writer - literally and in your words. Thank you, Missy

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 8:01 PM

I've been so extremely lucky to have the kind of family who is so incredibly okay with everything I write about, even if and when it involves them.

I come from a family of writers and very creative people, many of whom lead/have lead very public lives and although my immediate family is a lot more private than I am, everyone has always been nothing but supportive.

I don't know what I would do if I had a family who was uncomfortable with me writing about them. I suppose, I would just cut them out and keep it as personal as possible...

There are plenty of writers who waited for their parents to die before they wrote about their family life. Or they wrote fiction, instead. It is said that the people closest to you will never see themselves in your portrayals of them as characters. Fascinating stuff.

I have a very personal chapter in the book about my family, specifically my Nana (the banana), who was such an incredible sport that she both approved the chapter and then proceeded to help me edit it. "Perhaps if you switched these two paragraphs around."

I have always been very sensitive of my family's feelings when I write about them and with the book was sure to ask approval for all family matters.

I would have respected them, of course, had any of them said, "no" to me. But because they said "yes" the book is so much better than if I had kept my family out of it. In fact, family plays a huge part in the book (and in my life.) I am so grateful to them for standing by me and signing off on intimate details of their lives. And I realize it is quite rare to have such loyal and generous family members.

I mean, my own mother was my editor on the book. And not even once did she ask that I change or remove anything for her benefit, even though there was plenty she could have wanted removed. Plenty that embarrassed her. Pretty incredible, actually. Once again, I have been extremely lucky.

LD | 8:06 PM

I'm glad that you're pulling around that little red wagon. I think that for so many of your readers it shows us that it is possible to be brutally honest and completely open and still be a good mother. I think that everyone who chooses to blog as an outlet or a profession or whatever understands what it feels like to voice things so personal so publicly, but I don't know that any of us are as brave or as honest.

Tiffany | 8:25 PM

Beautiful post. Thanks for the inspiration.

Susannah | 8:27 PM

What a beautiful post (and to think, all that beauty about shit). Maybe that's why I'm convinced I've been suffering with IBS ever since I graduated from college--it's because I haven't been writing! Thank you for putting the words together for what I feel!

I don't live here anymore. | 8:28 PM

that was great onnce again. I love to read your shit. I hope someday I can be the amazing mother you are.

Anonymous | 8:33 PM

Wow! I don't know how you do this everytime. I am always touched and moved in some way or another after reading anything you write. It pulls me out of my daily routine and reminds me that I do have a spiritual side of me that gets lost in the daily grind...You have such a beautiful soul and you were made to share it. With that, of course, comes the vulnerability and bearing it all. Thank you so much for being you and having the strength to deal with all that scares you. -Sarah

mothergoosemouse | 8:34 PM

I'm reluctant to admit it, but I've had toilet dreams too on multiple occasions. Instead of dragging one around, looking for privacy, I'm in a locker room that seems to go on forever. Most of the toilets are out in the open, immediately adjacent to other toilets, but each time I find one that's in a stall, it's already occupied. But unlike you, I never end up relieving myself.

Maybe that's a clue to my own writing, which is admittedly repressed.

I'm respectfully envious of your courage.

bitemycookie | 8:58 PM

that's fifi's red wagon, i think. swear to g, yo. i think she wants to drag you around in it. it's 9. call me soon.

verybadcat | 7:30 AM

GGC, while we're pooping in public?

I love your writing so much that I hate you a little bit. :) Just a little bit, though.

BOSSY | 12:43 PM

Bossy used to dream she had a baby who she kept in a drawer. Please inform.

Don Mills Diva | 2:07 PM

Beautiful writing as usual and it has given me a lot to think about. I recently posted about this on my own blog and the post title was Why I Won't Go There. In it I talk about my reasons for not exposing certain parts of me and I do feel those reasons are legitimate. That said I do wonder if pushing the envelope in terms of what I reveal would make for better writing. I'm not convinced of that in my own case because I don't think an extremely intimate style is my strength. Sorry to ramble and thanks again for a provocative piece of writing.

Mrs. Chicken | 3:07 PM

I read you every time you post, but find myself intimidated by the idea of posting. This forced me out of lurkdom.

I've read GCC since 2006, when it was fairly new. The confidence, authority and power of your voice today is unmistakable, unassailable, and unimaginably beautiful.

I was so timid when I first began writing my blog, but you and others gave me courage to speak boldly.

Thank you for opening your bathroom door to me, and for helping me to do the same.

Wishing you all the success you deserve with your new book. I will be first in line to buy a copy.

bombaygirl | 4:07 PM

Have you read Suburban Turmoil? She got into trouble because she wrote about Martina McBride and her toilet travails. While this doesn't compare to your eloquent post, her post came to mind...

Jenny | 5:29 PM

Weird man, I've had a bathroom dream as well where all the vacant toliets were exposed to other the locker/bathroom patrons, a few were even urinals!

mrs. Q. | 6:03 PM

One thing I've learned about motherhood: I never get to poop or pee precisely when I want to. And with a toddler, I usually don't get to do it alone.

Anonymous | 6:51 PM

that is such a funny post! thoughtful, yes, but hilarious nonetheless. or maybe it's the two glasses of wine. ~jjlibra

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 7:04 PM

Ha! Totally! It is actually really funny. The image of me wandering the land with a red wagon and a toilet is very modern art museum film collage-esque. Dreams are interesting accessories to the truth.

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Daisy | 5:25 PM

Scary dream -- when I dream about toilets and privacy, I always wake up wtih a stomach ache. What, you mean not eveyone dreams like this?

Anonymous | 11:10 PM

Thank you for shaaring more about your family being so open. What should I do? Ignore please of NO! and begin anyway? My mom is the main problem. She views anything I say about myown life, particularly my childhood, a a bad reflection on her. Even now as I write in a private blog, she cringes knowing my life is floating around in blogsopace. missy

Anonymous | 10:18 PM

I used to be painfully shy.

On the locker room topic...
When I first joined my gym that I'm a member at now I discovered that the showers were all communal, you know completely out in the open with no stalls or privacy of any kind. So on the day of my first workout there I forced myself to shower after my workout just so I could get that out of the way and never have to feel embarrassed about it again. And I'm happy to say that it worked.

Take the bandaid approach, instead of chickening out just do it quick like you would a bandaid. Eventually you never give the nudity a second thought. I never thought it would happen, but now I'm one of the women who can walk around the locker room nude the entire time. I'm not trying to showoff at all, but I'm still proud of myself for facing and conquering that fear.

LeAnn