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. 

#augustbreak: two by two

Two pairs! The first: With The Magician King in hand, I decided to reread The Magicians so that I remember everything that happened and don’t miss a single reference. The second: Two cans of warm white with a peachy-gray undertone for the bedroom. Painting commences Friday, as if I didn’t have enough to do already.

Have I said lately how much I love the no-rules-y-ness of this whole thing? My schedule is pummeling me.

#augustbreak: see the light

The principal bedroom is in the rear of the house, with terrible north-western exposure. The morons who lived here before painted it this suicide-inducing brown that looks like cheap foundation smeared on a polo-shirt collar. Something must be done, and something will be done—in a few weeks, actually. I can’t do the deep aquas and darkish blues; the room is just too dark for them. But the whites, the lovely whites that will hopefully mitigate some of the dismal Canadian winter mornings? Bring them on, bring them on by the bucketful. It’s so lovely to choose paint knowing that no matter what you pick, you can’t do any worse than what’s already on the wall.

And for what it’s worth: Yes, I really do need a boot box to hold all my paint chips.

a fresh start on my own time

I pulled out A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen last week in an attempt to switch my brain over from nine-bean soup mode. We aren’t vegetarians, but we have meat only one or two times a week. It’s not the kind of book that’ll make you salivate, but it does strike just the right mood I want to be in when I make the grocery list. Springtime food has flavor all on its own without layers of heavy sauces or long cooking. Springtime food crunches. Everything else feels lighter now—the sky itself, and in a few weeks, coats and clothes will, too. 

Yesterday a pair of chatty young men brought the new fridge. The old one came with the house; it rattled and barked and ran almost constantly all summer, to say nothing of its inability to manage humidity. If you aren’t a food person, that may mean nothing to you, but keeping produce viable for more than a few hours after you get it home has a lot to do with moisture. The old fridge was a cantankerous swamp-box that could turn greens into sludge at twenty paces. The new one is all crisp breeze.

Once I put the condiments into the door I realized how much usable space there really was in this thing. I rearranged things a bit for the photo to spread them out! The fruit and vegetable bins are packed, though, and that half-bottle of vinho verde is in full view so that I won’t forget to finish it (heh!) before it loses its oomph. With only the two of us, I didn’t really expect to fill it up, but the clear expanses of glass make me even more determined to put only good things in here. Soon there’ll be a huge bottle of dark maple syrup—good for salmon-brushing and oatmeal-sweetening—because it’s sugaring time. Carefully wrapped (humidity!) herbs and handfuls of early carrots and asparagus. A little colander of green and purple grapes. A messy tangle of garlic scapes.

I never make New Year’s resolutions because (a) I have a bad memory and (b) January first doesn’t feel like a fresh start to me. Christmas is still hanging around and winter is no way to start a year. The Southern Hemisphere has that part right. But with the lengthening days and the receding snow and the squish of the ground beneath my shoes, it finally feels to me like 2011 is at the starting block. This is the time when I’m ready to declare intentions like walking to the store and only taking the bus on the way home, turning off the computer earlier in the evenings to spend more time with my beloved books and my beloved, and keeping these shelves stocked with the good stuff.