Shower Moment


You didn’t really know this, but I promised to be completely honest with you on this trip. It can’t just be la-la-la-la Chicken Soup for the Highway, Tales of Inspiration and Joy From the Construction Zone Across America.

Shit’s rough sometimes. Now, I hesitate to bring this up, because, let’s face it, I did this on my own volition. It makes it that much harder to face feeling like a fool. This was a conscious decision, a “moral imperative” said I, so pointedly in my first post. It’s not like I didn’t really feel that way, I did, but with 3,000 miles behind me and 5,000 more to go, a gal can get scared, ridden with self-doubt, second guessing, worried sick about how I’ll get an income flowing again once I’m back home.

Home. My God, how I miss it.

It hit me like a Mack truck this morning in the shower. It was like that scene from The Big Chill when Glenn Close is sobbing all the way up from her toes, heaving wracking sobs in the shower, with a house full of mourners, who knew not the depths of her grief. The steamy flow of water drowning out the sound of her tears,  as she mourns the suicide of the man she was in love with, or perhaps had been her lover, it certainly wasn’t Kevin Kline her husband, whom she willingly rented to Mary Kay Place to be a sperm donor — and not the technique where they deposit it into a Petri dish. I digress.

I cried like a baby in the shower this morning, overcome with guilt over the neglect of responsibilities — my two kids ( a.k.a. young adults) back home, my garden, my hydrangeas, my little house. I am petrified of losing it. Talk about betting the ranch, this is what happens when a girl plays high-stakes poker. I have nobody to blame but myself. I have actually been downsized three times and always managed to land on my feet, but I quit this job. I did this. And if I don’t attract the attention of a literary agent in this process, (my quest for many years, but I will write this book no matter what) and if I’m not able to get my foot back on the rung of money coming in when I get back, I could be in trouble in a hurry.

I apologize for being so blunt — I do not tell these stories to engender sympathy, which I don’t deserve considering, I did this to myself. But every writer has her moment.

It was the bathroom tile that did me in. I’m in Fort Worth, staying with a friend, and just like in Chicago, and Philly and Winston-Salem, where I’ve stayed with normal people, who don’t go off on wild-ass road trips with their dogs to capture an elusive dream, they have tidy bathrooms with nice ceramic tile and fresh towels and normalcy. They’re normal people taking care of normal responsibilities and I’m just kinda out here, literally and figuratively, with my shower moments.

Excessive reflection

Excessive reflection?

About Jean Ellen Whatley

Writer. Dreamer. Sometimes schemer. Journalist/memoirist/observer and sometimes constructive irritant. Prisoner of demon muses. Mother to four humans and two dogs. In my spare time, I delete phone numbers of former boyfriends.

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  1. Why is it about a bathroom? They always seem to be the scene of some really terrific breakdowns. My grief was thrown onto the cool (and none-to-sparkling) tile floor of my little bathroom when I found out about my husband’s affair. And again, while I trudged through the divorce. A few months later I read Eat, Pray, Love and came across the scene where elizabeth gilbert is lying on the floor in a fetal position, sobs wracking her body – total deja vu.

    On the other hand, as a writer, the shower is where I get some of my best ideas (notice that I did not say “the” best, but rather “my” best, as in, maybe not great by anybody else’s standards).
    So it makes sense that the best and worst emotions tend to collide in that tiny space, with the steam rising and the crap…well, flushing.

    So, flush the crap, I say! And remember you are on a journey, my friend! It’ll be over before you know it, so soak it up…there are a lot of us along for the ride, and we’ve got places to see!

    • Hey Beth,
      Thank you for sharing this with us — I know it must have been hard, to go through it and talk about it. And you are absolutely right — I’ve had more good ideas than bad come to me in the shower. Now, if I could just figure out how not to get the paper wet.

  2. My friend calls these moments “fertile voids.” They happen when you’ve cleared room in your life and now you don’t know WTF you’re doing, you’re a mush of emotion and self-doubt. Something good always follows a fertile void.

  3. Jean, this is what the adventure is all about. Don’t start worrying about the end of the trip as it will start to spoil the adventure. Live in the moment and enjoy every second of it. Everything happens for a reason and take it minute by minute. It’s the journey and not the destination. A momentary blip in your great adventure. Relax and breathe and soak in the scenery.

    • Today the scenery was scorched earth. Literally. Forest fires which burned for nearly a month — it’s so dry here the cow tanks have dried up, like a Georia O’Keefe picture.

  4. You’re on the right road, Jean, and when you come back, things may not be the same, but neither will you. No matter, though, the woman you are will roll with it and figure it out. Life is not a destination, a fact you’re familiar with. So far, everything you said this trip would be, has been. We’re still in the car with you, windows up, radio loud, and singing badly. Next stop…

  5. Kit Hudson says:

    Wow. In reality, this posting is the embodiment of what separates the creative women from the girls! That self doubt staring back at you like a hood ornament for every lapsed mile of this journey is exactly what keeps the meeker creative spirits among us ON THE LEASH and wondering ’till the very end, “what if I had just tried to realize my creative instincts?”

    I think that some valuable literary recognition, program sponsorship, or whatever, will be gleaned from your endeavor… but maybe it won’t. So what?! You are doing it, at least, and all of us who are following this adventure are enriched by it.

    Worry about personal income when the trip is finished… you’re talented and resourceful. If another job becomes necessary you will find one.

    Meanwhile, as Randle Patrick McMurphy said to his fellow wardmates after he attempts to throw that huge washbasin out the window… “At least I tried Goddammit… at least I tried.”

    The Nurse Ratcheds of the world might call your quest “Cuckoo.”

    I call it inspiring.

  6. I took my own journey, different (but the same, in ways) as yours. My hope is that this wonderful Robert Frost poem, that I am sure that you know, will remind you that you are doing the right thing…

    Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken (1915)

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    And sorry I could not travel both
    And be one traveler, long I stood
    And looked down one as far as I could
    To where it bent in the undergrowth.

    Then took the other, as just as fair,
    And having perhaps the better claim,
    Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
    Though as for that the passing there
    Had worn them really about the same.

    And both that morning equally lay
    In leaves no step had trodden black.
    Oh, I kept the first for another day!
    Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
    I doubted if I should ever come back.

    I shall be telling this with a sigh
    Somewhere ages and ages hence:
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference

    • And this has made a difference too — thank you for taking the time to share this with ALL of us. Wait til you see the photos of my cousin Benny’s house. This could be a TV series.

  7. Jean..the kids are alright! the house is alright..we are all right here to make sure of that. Enjoy this adventure, every minute of it, because you are doing it for so many of us and we are loving the ride!

  8. Reflection’s a bitch, ain’t it? But, in it is our truths. We just have to be wiling to look beyond what we see, and embrace what we know we feel. And, I bet you know that all of this feels just fine. Carry on with the spirit that rolled out the driveway with you.

    • What, are you kidding, I was more scared then? Just teasin. Thank you for your wisdom. I sincerely appreciate it and now that I’ve suffered heat stroke and have purged myself of all doubt, I feel like taking another shower.

  9. I think this kind of situation is understandable and even expected. What you’re doing is unusual because we all get homesick and we all have doubts about leaving behind the security of things like our everyday life, familiar and beloved faces, and a stable job. But the fact that you could do this, means you needed it, in my opinion. It’s okay to break down from time to time – but I know this experience will be so rewarding for you in the end, no matter what happens.

  10. Steve Mastin says:

    Am I the only one who noticed that it appears you have lipstick on in the pic above? Either I’m wrong, that’s some dam good lipstick, or you need another shower.
    Oh yea, and relax; you may be amazing (with your super human lipstick n all), but you are still human.