June 10, 2009

On Vulnerability

One of the questions asked by the Army Wife Network book club host was, “What advice would you give to army wives who want to write?”

I had no advice specifically for army wives, but what I didn’t know I was going to say, and what ended up just coming out, was that if they want to write, they should be prepared to make themselves vulnerable; to not rely on cliches and stock images to communicate an emotion, but to be so honest they would end up feeling uncomfortable.

No, I didn't take this picture.

This is why I love Alanis Morissette. Because I’m a “chick,” I suppose I’m supposed to like her, but what it is that draws me to her is the intimacy and honesty of her lyrics (combined with the way she uses her voice to give passion and emotion to the writing).

Here are two of her songs (of many I could choose from) that are at once simple and so incredibly true (true/real/private):

(Both sets of lyrics are copyrighted, of course. From the website where I found the lyrics:  Lyrics by Alanis Morissette are the property of the respective authors, artists and labels,  “So Unsexy” and “Are You Still Mad?” Lyrics by Alanis Morissette are provided for educational purposes only , If you like the song, please buy relative CD.)

So Unsexy

Oh these little rejections how they add up quickly
One small sideways look and I feel so ungood
Somewhere along the way I think I gave you the power to make
Me feel the way I thought only my father could

Oh these little rejections how they seem so real to me
One forgotten birthday I’m all but cooked
How these little abandonments seem to sting so easily
I’m 13 again am I 13 for good?

I can feel so unsexy for someone so beautiful
So unloved for someone so fine
I can feel so boring for someone so interesting
So ignorant for someone of sound mind

Oh these little protections how they fail to serve me
One forgotten phone call and I’m deflated
Oh these little defenses how they fail to comfort me
Your hand pulling away and I’m devastated

When will you stop leaving baby?
When will I stop deserting baby?
When will I start staying with myself?

Oh these little projections how they keep springing from me
I jump my ship as I take it personally
Oh these little rejections how they disappear quickly
The moment I decide not to abandon me

Are You Still Mad

are you still mad i kicked you out of bed?
are you still mad i gave you ultimatums?
are you still mad i compared you to all
my forty year old male friends?
are you still mad i shared our problems
with everybody?
are you still mad i had a an emotional affair?
are you still mad i tried to mold you into
who i wanted you to be?
are you still mad I didn’t trust your intentions?
of course you are
of course you are
are you still mad that i flirted wildly?
are you still mad I had a tendency to mother you?
are you still mad that i had one foot out the door?
are you still mad that we slept together even after
we had ended it?
of course you are
of course you are
are you still mad i wore the pants most of the time?
are you still mad that i seemed to focus
only on your potential?
are you still mad that i threw in the towel?
are you still mad that i gave up long before you did?
of course you are
of course you are

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About Kris Tsetsi

Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website: http://kristenjtsetsi.com

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