My mom called bullshit on me today.
I am 29 years old. And for 29 years I have heard a number of rants and raves but never have I heard my mother say, “bullshit.”
Or just plain “shit.”
I live with my parents. It’s true. All the cool kids do, you know. I left Korea after teaching for a year and had quite a large sum of money saved up. But then I traveled Southeast Asia for a month. And then I bought a car in cash. And then I roamed the States, volunteered, made a movie, visited friends and remained unemployed for a while. And then I got a job waiting tables part time. . .
So, I live with my parents.
This morning my mother dragged me out of bed to have a chat. I sat, half asleep, bundled in my bathrobe, inhaling my coffee on the couch while she and my father attempted a life intervention.
“Listen, Rosie. I need to say a few things and if you choose to move out because of it, then so be it. I will mourn your absence, but so be it. . .”
She then went on to tell me I was not carrying my weight in the household concerning cleaning. I was given a list and I did not follow it. This was unacceptable, as I am living and eating there for FREE.
I agreed, and attempted to explain that the reason I do not follow the list is because I am still in denial that I actually live there and keep thinking I am merely “in transition” to my next destination. My next city. My next country. My next adventure.
I am not.
I live with my parents.
Then my mother asked me what my ‘plan’ was. I did not have one. I merely began shouting out words. “Broke!. . . Surviving!. . . Sub-teaching!. . . No!. . . Back to school?!. . . Waiting tables. . . Living on less than $300!!!!!!!!”
Somehow we got on the subject of piano playing. My sister had played a few days ago for hours at the winery I work at and I sat down for a couple minutes myself to play a piece or two. Apparently later that evening my sister’s friend told her I was an incredible pianist and full of passion and power. I mentioned this to my mother, and said I may want to start playing again. . .
Mom: Well, why don’t you? Why don’t you play, like your sister? You could play at weddings, at restaurants, at hotels. Why don’t you???
Me: I have stage fright. You know this.
Mom: Well get over it! It’s not that you have stage fright. It’s that you never practice! You’re not disciplined. You even admitted that, in high school. You said your teacher always said she could tell you had been practicing and you would laugh because you hadn’t been practicing. You were just that good.
Me: I did practice! I practiced that one song. Over and over and over. I practiced it endlessly. I perfected it. And then, on the day of the recital I botched it. How do you not remember this? I never played again. That’s why. Because I ruined the one piece I could play perfectly because I was terrified.
And that’s when it happened.
Mom: Oh, Bullshit!!! You know I don’t ever cuss. Not ever! But there’s absolutely no other word for it but that! You are incredibly talented and it’s bullshit that you’re letting it go to waste!
My mother then went on to tell me that I am “mediocre at many things.” Yes. She said this.
She told me I am mediocre at many things, even really good at many things, but excellent at nothing because I entirely lack discipline. She told me I could be a phenomenal pianist, because I already have the talent, I just refuse to make an effort. She told me I could be a phenomenal photographer, but I’m not, because I never did take the time to learn my camera or take a single photography class. She said other things, but was resonated most of all, as I said, was
I am thankful for my parents. I am thankful that my mother chose this morning to say bullshit to me, because the fact that it took her 29 years to say it made it mean all the more.
She is right.
I am mediocre at many things, and it is due completely to my lack of self-discipline. I own a nice camera, and have plenty of opportunity to take classes and further my business. I have a 40,000 word manuscript that has been in the works for four years now and an editor in Ames, Iowa waiting for an e-mail containing the last two pages. I have interviews and footage and song rights from a well-established band that is all part of a funding campaign for a sustainable farm project in Uganda, East Africa. I have a four-year degree. I have a piano collecting dust in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
When I first moved back to St. Louis I learned to embrace my freedom as a single, career-less, carefree woman. And I loved it. I still do. But now I spend my days thrift shopping and drinking with money I don’t have. Waiting tables for pennies. Complaining about waiting tables. Complaining in general.
I am happy with my life. I am having a blast and embracing my age and my job and the fact that I am back in St. Louis. I really am.
But my mother is right. I am a waste of talent.
I can play piano with ridiculous passion. I can write. I can take damn good pictures. I can advocate for a good cause and successfully raise money for it. I used to mentor young girls. I used to drill wells in third world countries. I used to sit in a classroom full of bi-lingual, 6 year old Koreans and teach them Laughing Yoga before class and then force them to listen to bluegrass while we journaled. I used to ride elephants.
And now I wait tables.
And I drink too much.
And I spend too much.
And I am mediocre at many things.
I went for a drive after my shift today. My goal was to find ‘the countryside’ of St. Charles County and I did. I drove for three hours. I roamed and took back-roads and found fields and horses and cows and corn and barns and river subcultures and used googlemaps to pin drop “Perfect Stargazing” spots. I blasted the heat and rolled down the windows and screamed “’I’M FREEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” at the top of my lungs as I fully embraced and found full joy and pride in my singleness. And my ability to do whatever I want in life, if I so choose.
And then I got a text message. My best friend’s sister had just committed suicide. I pulled over and sobbed uncontrollably. I imagined losing my own sister. I remembered a time when I wanted to take my own life. I wondered if there was a single thing I could say to my dear friend to ease the pain.
As I broke down in my car on the side of the road a middle-aged man in a neon yellow jacket rode by on his bike. He had headphones in and was singing at the top of his lungs. I wanted to yell at him out my window, “SHUTUP!!! Someone just died, you know! A life just ended! How can you be singing???”
He was singing because he was embracing the life he still had.
I will do the same.
*Disclaimer: Waiting tables is in no way a profession to be ashamed of or one that means you have ‘settled’ in life. Some people are realllllly good at it and can even make a career of it, and those people I am honestly impressed with. . . . But I am not one of those people. I am not the best server. I am a mediocre server J Therefore, I do not wish to do it the rest of my life. That is all. . . .