Spell-check might be aggravating, but once in a while it hands you poetry. The name of my memoir will be Waking the Lasagna, and Other Mishaps of Modern Life. It’s going to chronicle my early years—my dysfunctional, blended seventies family. It will include that little story about my brother, whose used Mustang stalled in the middle of the street, just after he backed out of the driveway. He ran inside the house and ran back out with a lighter and a roll of paper towels, frothing and cursing. He was going to blow it up. Never did though. What happened to that old car anyway? Sold for scrap? Another mystery that will go unsolved.

From there we’ll enter my teenage years—my under-supervised, oversexed hüsker-dü through the asymmetrical eighties.

The nineties we’ll skip, because, well. We’re just going to skip it.

Then there was Bryan. And babies. Which reminds me.

The kids are finally in school. They both would have been in school yesterday but Frankie decided to get a fever and sore throat in time to miss her first day. She did the same thing in third grade, screwing my plans for finally having the house to myself. Where does she get off? She didn’t even care. It was mildly disturbing, that tween-age nonchalance.

But now I’m alone! Just me and the dogs and my thoughts. Which reminds me of something else.

I had an epiphany walking the dogs. They are good for that, those barking bitches. It hit me from a different angle, as epiphanies do—like seeing your house in the late afternoon if you’re never usually home then. I realized that I have been chasing—for decades—two particular goals in a way that’s left me exhausted, and has undermined all I’ve accomplished so far.

It was my dream to have fame from an early age. I worshipped my would-be pyromaniac brother and longed for his approval, which, like that Mustang, never ignited. I can’t say for sure if my dream directly stemmed from his rejection, but it had to have played a part. Writing novels, as much as it fulfills a deep desire to express myself creatively, also bears an agenda that serves to belittle more than uplift, as if I am chasing an older boy who doesn’t give a shit about me all over again. I can never control whether or not my books become bestsellers. On my list of goals, “become famous” isn’t something I can accomplish methodically. “Write a novel,” though, that is achievable. I can control whether or not I open my laptop and begin, middle and end.

The other goal is to have an ass like a boy. Or like Brooke Ence. This is yet another outcome I cannot control. I have the genetics I have and she has the genetics she has. She’s also twenty years younger than me and trains so frequently that I would hurt myself if I tried to emulate. I can, however, and do, train as intelligently as I can to become the best version of my physical self that I can become. Ditto nutrition. And my ass is way better than it was when I was twenty-seven, hello irony. So there’s that little tidbit I throw away daily.

But that dog walk slapped me with awareness—of this steady piss-stream of inadequacy I’ve been watering myself with, for so fucking long.

So my new goal…is to let the fuck go. Fame rhymes with shame, dig? Ass rhymes with schmass.

Because what do fame and Brooke Ence’s ass really mean? They would symbolize that I’ve Arrived. That I am stamped with the seal of WORTHY. But if I know I’m worthy from Right Here, Right Now, then that other stuff is just…stuff.

Let the affirmations begin.