I never was smart with love.

We are another year married. There are long times when the work of marriage is exhilarating, rewarding, we-are-so-damn-good-at-this work and you remember why you said you wanted to do it every day until you died. And then there are times when your marriage will sit there and drone like a Coke machine and every once in a while you’ll give it some money and it will give you cavities and caffeine one mouthful at a time. Because it is not going away; no distributor is coming by in a fixed number of years giving you the new model Coke machine with the dollar acceptor that never spits back your wrinkly-ass dollar. Marriage is maintenance and archeology and psychology and industrial arts and home ec. It is that kind of math that Good Will Hunting did. It is all the work, and it is work on yourself and I both love and loathe work on myself. You can’t work on the other person, though. That’s their project, the same way you don’t want them messing around in your project even when they’re looking askance at you like are you going to get that done anytime this year or what? It is hard to do your project, let alone the other stuff that goes with being married, when you are broken down into your component parts and cannot reassemble yourself because there is no allen wrench for this.

It took more than I can tell you to get me to this point, right here, today, with the wherewithal to write a post that was more than a dive into my past for safe stories. It took brutal sickness, complete mental check-out, anger and more anger and so many I-give-up shrugs that I don’t even have shoulder ligaments anymore. It took every single sunny Winnipeg winter day and then it took the snow melting and purple puffball alliums coming up from the earth. It took a lot of bacon. It took me wondering what I could abandon, and who. My mind did a fucking Ironman this spring, and then it did a victory tour to Ottawa where I once again attended the inspiring Social Capital Conference (and even hosted my own roundtable discussion about group web projects) and had meals and drinks and gelatos and good talk with some  of  my  favorite  people in this entire country. It really is something to give your sanity an IV bag full of validation and camaraderie, and I don’t take it for granted.

I’m home again now, writing again at last and making small progress on the house. The bedrooms and all of the hallways in this house are a bizarre flashback to the you-wish-it-was-caramel-but-really-it’s-Cover-Girl-foundation brown walls I had in the master bedroom in my old house. To make it worse, the bedrooms here are small—1910s small—so those dingy brown walls made the rooms look even smaller. I painted the open closet of the master bedroom last month in a soft blue, but it took until now to get the bedroom walls started themselves. When I painted those words on my walls last time, tiny traces of them still showed up on the surface after multiple coats of primer and paint. I liked knowing they were there. This time I wondered what kind of love I wanted to seal into the bedroom, secret except for you, me, and the rest of the internet. 


And here’s where I get back into the beloved and beloathed work on myself. People who have been privy to the deeper hell of the past year heard me say more than once that I’ve been an open wound for almost all of it, and I’m just sick of living that way. I’m not saying I’ll never fall apart again, but I can try harder instead of being seduced by how deliciously easy it is. There is only one thing that’s going to kill me, whether it’s a tumor or a truck. Whatever it is, it’s not here today. What is the worst a person could do? Die on me? I’ve survived that. Shut me out? I’ve survived that too. Break my heart? Been there, baby. Tell my secrets? It’s been done. None of it killed me, no matter how I thought it would; I am still here, rode hard though my psyche might be. The people I love deserve all of me. They earned it for loving what was indestructible beneath that open wound. 

February, 2012.

Hi again. I missed you, and I even kind of missed writing. But the break was so good for me. It was a relief to think about other things, even the ones that were winter-grumbly and sad and annoying. Mostly, though, it was a lot of reflection, a lot of optimism, a lot of looking ahead. A lot of why and attendant answers to why. Maybe not very good answers, but enough to keep things moving.

I saved about 80% of my posts from The Deep Old Desk, not including photo Fridays (which you can now find here, and which Heather and I are both still updating). When I moved them all here, they lost their tags and categories. While I read back through the posts to re-tag them (and that’s really still a work in progress), I could see the evolution in what and how I wrote here. In the beginning, the posts are very careful and rarely go below the surface; as time went on I started to go deeper in a way I hadn’t since Ye Olde Pseudonym Days. I know even this depth is nothing compared to what a lot of people manage to put down before pressing publish, but it is as close as you get to Me in a public forum.

Which brings me to now, and more wondering. It’s possible that I don’t have much more to share, because my life is neither fraught with tragedy nor filled with soul-deep meaning. I have no advice for you about anything. It’s possible that three months from now I will think the layout and the re-tagging and back-and-forth were pointless. I don’t know what belongs in this new blog. And I don’t want your pshaw about that, although I love it if your first instinct is to pshaw me. (I do. I’d probably pshaw you.)

But sometimes you buy a thing and you bring it home and wonder what the hell am I going to do with that thing? Where will I put it, where will I hang it, what goes inside?

UncleTypewriter did not know that I love hex signs when she sent me this box. (It’s not the kind of thing that comes up in conversation.) It landed in the right place. Someday I’m going to figure out exactly what belongs in it. In the meantime, it’s a joy on a little table in my bedroom, it’s happy color on gray days of ice storm after ice storm, and it’s there, just in case. Maybe that’s what this site is, too.

If you find anything weird in the next few days—comments that won’t save/show a captcha, broken links, anything that doesn’t look right on your computer, let me know on twitter or by using the contact form, okay? I refuse to believe that this whole effort went perfectly. (Maybe I should add a ‘pessimism’ tag too.)

and then...

And then winter didn’t walk away, but the blues did, with the kind of fond backward glances that blues like to give you because they’re drama queens. And then you picked up their ashtray and their lipstick-smudged coffee cup and broke out the Febreze and flung open the windows. And it wasn’t snowy but it was still cold and you realized that flinging open windows for effect is not smart right now, but damn, it felt good to do that on December fourteenth with its pearl gray sky and its green but faded grass.

And you said it’s time to get some frames for those other two pictures. Flowers mean spring and every day brings it closer.

and you said ACK I forgot to add that image when I published the post the first time!

And you said my God, thank you for this.

And you realized what your hair looked like when you woke up, and even your curls were happy to see today and happy to live on top of a brain rinsed clean with relief. And they bounced and danced and would not be tamed, and there was a giggle and you weren’t sure if it came from you or the curls.

And then you tracked a package online and said oh darling to the Internet for its package-tracking skills and its people-meeting skills and its email (overfull with love and just-checking-in and plans for the future and snug babies growing in happy mothers) and its camera lenses from the US that cost 75 bucks less than they do here. (I went with the 35mm instead of the 50 because I rarely shoot portraits, in case you’re interested. And even if you aren’t, voila! You’ve read the sentence anyway.)

And it was a Wednesday like many others and while you kept typing it was ticking away, so you saved your post and got ready to live it instead.

the weight of silence

Lately I feel the loss of my mother, as her birthday approaches and my heart thumps in the echo chamber of her absence. It is the sound of her birthday song, which I cannot sing to anyone else, the way I cannot sing either of the cats’ songs anymore.

A wiser person would tell me Sing your own song. And it is half magic to hear the wisdom I need, just when I need it, without an actual wise person at my side sipping from a china cup. The other half is held breath. I don’t know how to do that; I’ve never had a song of my own. I guess I’ll learn by making mistakes, the way I learn everything else.

But there is a drumbeat. The creak of strings being tested and tuned. There is someone out there—no one from this house—who sets things to rights, who sees a bicycle on its side and stands it up against a tree, even though no one has claimed it for more than a month. There is another one of those crazy 2011 sunsets, Pinon pink and Black Mesa blue, singing together for a heartbeat before vanishing into the dark. There is a mad hunt for my shoe as I race to catch the last of the light, the bicycle, another weekend in the history books. There is a long exhale, and so much fear, but fear is more honest than happiness right now. Except for the love that others feel for me, everything else I have that matters has come through fear and made it. So will I. And on the way, I’ll make some noise.

#pReverb: November 29

Last night I started to write here to start flexing my Reverb muscles, noting what aspects I was looking forward to, which ones I dreaded confronting. I deleted the post and told myself I would wait.

And then came tonight, when all hell broke loose.

I’m optimistic, but still disappointed. Though I admire the people who stepped up and corralled lists of prompts and created websites and mailing lists in the blink of an eye, the whole point of Reverb last year was the several thousand people who were all writing about the same thing, or trying to. The fragmentation this year is going to lead to duplication and wasted effort (and, I’m afraid, more than a little noise).

And at the same time, I cannot wait. I am taking a flying leap and delving into all the lists of prompts I encounter; I will take what I want from them and leave the rest, and December will be the craziest of crazy-quilt months of blogging ever. I do not care about the end results. I care about the process. And I am nothing if not flexible when it comes to process. The new groups will mean that I will have to do more work in order to meet new people, which is what I was hoping for most. But you cannot tell me that this work isn’t worth what I put in. I know it is, from last year. And I believe in this year, and myself, and other people.