Nov 30 2015

No Negativity November: the Debriefing

As this month wound to a close, I thought it would be funny to stage a meeting with Al in order to evaluate the efficacy of No Negativity November.

Earlier this evening, I approached him with an administrative-looking clipboard and set my phone on a nearby table. “It’s time to debrief,” I told him.

“What do you mean? Debrief about what?”

“It’s very official.”

“You’re still in your sweatpants.”

“Absolutely,” I said. “Now, I’m going to record this interview, okay? I will report this verbatim.”

He played along. I knew he would. I also knew he had exactly zero idea what was going on, as he doesn’t read my blog. Luckily, he seemed amused. I pressed record.

M: Ahem. Have you ever heard of No Negativity November?
A: …No.

As I knew this would be your response, I have already prepared a follow-up question: Why don’t you read your wife’s blog?
I don’t know. I guess I could. I’ve read some of it. But I’m living it. I don’t want to READ my relationship. I want to LIVE my relationship. Wait, are you writing this down AND voice recording it? A bit redundant…

Mmhmm. *Continues taking notes.* What changes have you noticed regarding my attitude about California this month?
Um, not many! *Laughter from both.* Case in point: last night, you said, “Target’s always crowded…that’s California for you!” That was just twenty-four hours ago.

Touché. How would you describe your OWN attitude toward California this month?
Similar as before.

I told myself I would make a concerted effort to be more positive regarding California this month. On a scale of one to ten, how successful would you say this attempt has been?
I would say…a…five? Medium?

I feel like it was a six.
Is this something you made up, this November thing? Is it trademarked?

Yes, I made it up. I’m asking the questions, here. Any final thoughts?

Give me something.
I think it’s a good strategy. If this month was only the first attempt, then that’s fine! Nothing works the first time. I mean, the Wright brothers crashed a hundred times before they flew. [And there it is…his unfailing optimism.]

It was a hundred? Really? I think maybe it was less than that. You’re going to make me have to find a link, now.* Anyway, tomorrow it is not November anymore, so I guess I’m off the hook!

*I could not find a definitive number. Reports seem to range from four failed attempts to several dozen. Instead, history buffs, enjoy this account of their first five flights.

Even though the debriefing itself was a joke, it was obviously my attempt to say, I know I haven’t been super open-minded about this, but I’m trying. Regardless of what I said, I’m not letting myself off the hook. I’ll still try to be as positive as I can (with him) while somehow staying true to myself.

The hardest part about that is I seem to have lost myself out here. I don’t know who “my true self” even is. More than three whole months of teaching have passed by without me, and I miss feeling like a contributing member of society. In an effort to chase a dream feel productive again, I keep trying to seize this Californian opportunity to write as much as I can; but then I also feel like the best work ever is to spend time with my children, and if I’m writing then I’m not doing that, so the end result is that I’m not fully present when I’m doing either of those things.

In the meantime, I miss adult conversations and light bulbs brightening above my students’ heads and watching sports that involve Detroit. No one cares about the Red Wings out here.

A couple friends have flown out to visit, and it was such a breath of fresh air — people who know me, who make me feel a little bit normal again. And my mom is arriving in a couple days so she can watch the kids while Al and I go to The Company’s holiday party.

As she says, “That’s one expensive babysitter,” but let’s be honest: it’s less about babysitting and more about my sanity.

About Melissa

Melissa is a SAG-AFTRA actress and former high school teacher from Michigan who (reluctantly) moved across the country when she was six months pregnant. She is the winner of the SmokeLong Quarterly Grand Micro Contest and a past winner of the Breakwater Review Fiction Prize (selected by Susanna Kaysen, author of Girl, Interrupted), the F(r)iction flash fiction competition, and The Writer's inaugural personal essay contest, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, The Greensboro Review, New Ohio Review, HuffPost, Scary Mommy, and The Boston Globe Magazine, among others. She has been shortlisted for both the Bridport Prize and the Bath Flash Fiction Award and was recently selected for The Best Small Fictions and the Wigleaf Top 50. Melissa is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

5 comments on “No Negativity November: the Debriefing

  1. What a way to start my day….. your blog….
    YOU have such a gift of expressing yourself.
    I have thought of YOU often…… We are all over the place YET amazing how many of us stay connected —
    by emails, FB, cell phones & personal visits.
    Bless YOU my child….. hugs for the little ones.
    xoxoxo Cuz Judy

  2. Hi Melissa,
    I love reading your blogs,! You are sooooo contributing to society by raising your children! You are so special and your writing is extraordinary! Can’t wait for your next blog!

  3. Sometimes the days are long, but the years fly by. Soon your 3 year old will be in school and bring you new friends. Enjoy NOW. Priceless!!

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