September 22, 2012 § 20 Comments
~It looks like this where my people come from.~
Last weekend, while at a family reunion with people I see only once every three or four years, my mom whipped out her iPad and began pulling up this blog (literally, this one — Mary and Bob’s Journal) to show my aunt and uncle. I felt immediately embarrassed. So much so that I actually said, “Oh Mom, please don’t. I’m really self-conscious about my blogging.”
She got so far as showing them the adorable photo of Ruby The Hairstyling Kitteh and then we changed the subject. It all passed painlessly.
Now, seven days later, as my 43rd birthday looms half a day away, I’m questioning my insecurity.
I’ve written publicly at this site since 2007. At first, it was an anonymous endeavor. I kept a boundary between my day-job self (public – “in real life” – 3D – Ruth) and my soap-box-activist, melodramatic philosophizing artistic self (roolily – Ruth at Mary and Bob’s Journal). My disguise wasn’t absolute — people who knew me well enough to have my roolily email address could find the blog, but the separation was adequate enough for my comfort.
A couple years later, when I began posting blog links at Facebook, it was like a passive coming out to my friends and family. I progressively became more and more open, and now I tweet under my full name with a link to this blog. It’s not an unusual path.
Last month, perhaps as an early birthday gift to myself, I purchased my first domain name (currently under construction). I sit at my computer every morning around 7:00 to read about CSS. I’ve dusted off the Photoshop tool box and am rubber stamping my way to my very own logo — all in preparation to fully integrate my fragmented online presence. Cobbled together with my bookkeeping work and Andy’s support, I am self-employed.
I’m in control of my time and I spend a lot of it writing and blogging. These are good things.
So why, when my mom wants to share my creativity with people who love me, do I clam up and cringe?
I hate that I’m self-conscious about my blogging; It feels immature (not the blogging, the self-consciousness). I want to be confident about my work. No — more accurately — I want to do work worthy of confidence.
When I surf the blogs of my friends, like An Acorn Dreaming, and read the stellar work of writers I learned about at BlogHer ’12 – Citizen of the Month, Edenland, Mocha Momma, Native Born, Schmutzie, (to name only a handful), and especially when I encounter a gem like Susannah Conway, (who a cousin recently recommended) I’m struck by intermittent bouts of inspiration and envy. But mostly I’m grateful, but because it’s so uplifting to see that sharing deeply can be done with professionalism, humor, grace and intelligence.
These writers help me realize that I am not a freak for making the choice of disclosing highly personal thoughts and feelings in this completely public forum.
In the not so distant past (like yesterday) I felt my openness was a mistake that I was somehow getting away with. Have I been a sheep in the pop culture of self-exposure? Has this been a years-long bad habit? Am I too hungry for connection? Desperate for attention? I would ask my shrink these questions, but I know what his answer would be: “What do you think?”
Two years ago, when my personal life got messy (simultaneously wonderful and confusing, and eventually tragic), for better or worse, I used blogging as a healing tool. I still do.
The things I’ve written about here — god, how could I? How many elephants are in this room? Just one? Two? Neither of them are elephants, though. They are human beings I care about.
Blogging about my grief despite its odd circumstance has created even more awkward circumstances. When I’m vague, it’s to protect other people as best as I can while trying to be true to myself. But I don’t know if I’ve succeeded in protecting anyone. Mostly, I’ve just been trying to keep it together.
Sometimes I think it would be easier if I wrote fiction. Damn, though, making stuff up is hard. It’s a craft I intend to develop because I suspect that fiction might be the only way I can be open about my most profound experiences.
Preserving memories with words feels like a reasonable way to mimic sacred moments. While language can only approximate the holiness, it’s better than nothing — especially after relationships transform, after people die.
So I’m conjuring the past? Conjuring lovers? Conjuring myself?
And to conjure with witnesses — a magic blogging affords us — is to receive nods, handshakes, and hugs. An assurance that someone has heard the tree falling.
No shame in that.
Maybe acquiring confidence requires a rehearsing a script. Here’s one:
I’m a writer who blogs. I am learning to tell entertaining stories by practicing publicly.
My readers appreciate it when I write about what’s really going on rather than the first (gag-me) Yahoo headline I see in the morning. Today’s was, “Before and after plastic surgery – Ali Wentworth was tired of looking like this.”
Yeah, I don’t give a fuck about that. Sure, it could be bouncing off point for a post like the one I did recently about covering my gray hair and how I feel about appearance and gender roles.
But when I’m having a hard day, to hell with the safe topics, I write my truth.
Now the blogger in me is saying, edit some more, woman, this thing is too long. And don’t post on a Saturday night, no one will read it.
But I’ve been writing this post since the sun was rising, and now the sun is setting, and my only break all day long was to sit in a three hour French class.
Plus, I turn 43 tomorrow. The candles have been lit, they won’t last forever.
July 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I’ve only got a few minutes before I have to clock upstairs to transcribe some notes so that when I clock downtown to see clients I won’t look like a disorganized desk. I’m not used to this clocking around to different offices. I like the variety but I’m nacho cheese sure I’ll be glad once the work becomes more familiar.
I’m feeling it now, my addiction to product. Nearly cooked up these words because they seem unusable. What kind of junky does that make me?
Unwise and egotistical.
I mirror mirror myself all day. It doesn’t even take eyes. Thoughts and memories will do.
Picking through the kung pao past
pulling out the peanuts,
saving the peppers for Andy,
gobbling up the shrimp right away,
but never without worrying that the little creatures have sperm-suffered and birth-died deaths too slow.
Oh, I don’t want to clock downtown today; I don’t want to be the new desk. I don’t want to deal with the paper tray. If I rickety the pages wrong, I’ll waste check stock and have to shelf void. The bloody software isn’t as second nature as it should be.
I always mirror mirror situations from the worst-case scenario, nacho cheese sure that if it goes okay, only luck is horse race responsible.
I am here now.
I haven’t clocked upstairs yet.
I’m not the new desk right now.
I’m on the bed with my 600 thread count kitties wearing my fur shirt with the fleece neckline cut away so my collarbones can be mirrored mirror. And low birth weight makes me lovable.
They say that Grandpa vetoed my Canadian Club double first name because it was too long for such a penmanship little bit.
He mirrored mirror me and saw a nacho cheese sure person,
not a desk,
not someone clocking to shelf void,
not someone clocking to cook up words,
not someone clocking through a roller derby breakdown.
He saw a woman who can breathe.
He saw a low birth weight writer waiting to put on some time,
a descendent who would likely out live him if he was lucky.
He won the horse race,
he died before us all,
pounded dirt life,
mirrored mirror from the end seeing 600 thread count survivors ready to clock on with the business of living.
June 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
97% of all the greeting cards I’ve ever received from men were from those who either wanted to fuck me or had fucked me.
Now, I’m imagining a handful of my more delicate readers wincing at “the language”. What is it my parents say? That I sound like a fishwife?
If wiki can be trusted on the matter, the term “fishwife” stems from Old English and refers specifically to a “woman” (not a “wife”) whose outspokenness is attributable to the fact that her wares are highly perishable and lose value if not sold quickly. (Oh the metaphor in that.) Good. Maybe I am a modern day fishwife. There are worse things to be.
This morning during my eyes-half-awake-skim of Twitter, I had a flash of panic: It’s Father’s Day tomorrow; I haven’t sent a card.
And then I thought about how many greeting cards I’ve chosen, purchased, signed, sealed & sent in my 42 years and I started feeling kind of bitter.
Because. Men. Don’t. Send. Cards. Ever.
Unless (as previously mentioned) there’s sex (the prospect, promise or memory of it) involved.
I would put money on the fact that IF you are a man who sends cards to his mother-grandmother-sister-daughter-aunt-secretary-assistant AND you’re in a romantic relationship with a woman, the woman in your life does the card choosing-purchasing-and-or-mailing. Did you sign it yourself? Maybe, but you didn’t lick the envelope, did you? News flash — we all know those cards are from the Lady of the House.
I would put money on the fact that IF you are a man who sends cards to his mother-grandmother-sister-daughter-aunt-secretary-assistant AND you’re single, you’re the 3% exception I mentioned above. You’ve been a bachelor for a long time, and you’re hoping to blend in to the mainstream despite being a Buddhist and a Trekkie.
I would put money on the fact that IF you are a man who DOESN’T send cards to his mother-grandmother-sister-daughter-aunt-secretary-assistant, you’re reading this thinking about all the money you’ve spent on said women.
It’s true. My father put me through college. My brother gave me the best (oh, thank you, K!) birthday gift of my whole life — The Wire: COMPLETE SERIES on DVD.
What’s up with greeting cards anyway? Aren’t paper and fuel driven messages passé at best, and — more accurately put — environmenatally irresponsible?
Don’t confuse this post with male bashing. Men, you’re not to blame, I don’t think. There’s something endemic about it. Something about how boys are raised — or is it genetic? God, I’m so poorly read on this subject. But I know what I see.
And I’m tired of going out of my way to generate unnecessary offerings for members of an entire gender who usually do not reciprocate.
So here’s Father’s Day 2012:
Dad, I love you; I’m grateful for all the acts of selflessness you performed in order to give me a good life; I hope you have a wonderful day. I can’t wait to see you next month.
Brother, you’re an awesome Dad. Watching you parent has been one of the highlights of my life; your children have been my greatest gifts. Thank you.
There. Paper saved.
May 24, 2012 § 4 Comments
Nearly ten years ago, as I walked down the sidewalk in Santa Monica on my way to lunch, a co-worker stopped me and said, “Ruthy! Look at you, kitten. Mee-ow.”
He really talked like that, probably still does. He’s a legend, seriously, a proverbial Hollywood post-production legend. One time at happy hour, he announced to the table, “I’ve had enough!” and poured his entire martini into our girlfriend’s handbag. Laughter, hugs, and kisses ensued. Some people are endearing even at their most obnoxious moments. Or maybe I’m able to enjoy that story because it wasn’t my purse.
Anyway, after calling me “kitten” (I love being called kitten), he said, “You’ve got a spring in your step, baby; I’ve never seen you so happy!”
“Thanks, Bill. I am happy. I’m in love.”
I was in love. With Andy.
We’d met only a couple months earlier, but I knew what it was. I’d been in love before. Prior to Andy, there was one true love and two bona fide faux-loves, all well-earned lines on my resume de l’amour.
On top of those years’ long serious relationships, I kicked off my thirties by racking up over forty (four. zero.) internet dates. I know. I counted them because a girlfriend of mine swore that finding The Right Husband was nothing but a numbers game. Several of the forty hung around for mini-romances. All ended miserably.
- The craziest man I met — and by “crazy”, I don’t mean mentally ill, I mean eccentric; not charming-eccentric, either: unpleasant-eccentric — was an Old Guy in Venice. Rude. I was rude right back. That date was 45 minutes (30 minutes too long).
- The next craziest was a Trust Fund Baby in Santa Monica. He wore his pants too high on his waist. For some reason, I thought I loved him. I was wrong.
- The sweetest and most fun was also a Trust Fund Baby in Santa Monica — so you can’t stereotype. We had a mutual light and upbeat appreciation for each other’s company, and kissing.
- The biggest weirdo was an Accomplished Architect working on a High Profile Restoration Project (hint: in Malibu). I adored him — until things got whacky. Whacky with a capital W. And I Went along With it. What Was I thinking? I’ll have to really disguise matters if I ever want to write about him in more detail. Whacky.
- The richest was a Gun-Owning, Smart, Sensitive Guy who lived in the hills. I held said gun in his condo (specifically, in his bed; specifically, naked in his bed; specifically, happy in his bed). It was heavy, the gun. Calm down, this wasn’t a kinky freak episode (à la Janice Soprano). For the record, it was the first and only gun I’ve ever held. And I made him take out the bullets first. And, while on the topic of dangerous behavior, I’ll add: Yes, Dad, I’ve continued following your 1976 rule not to, ever, under any circumstances, ever, get on a motorcycle, ever. Apropos of nothing, I’ll add: the Richest Guy’s home looked just like a drooly Pinterest board. He was a good man. Probably still is, somewhere. No desire to find out where.
The list goes on for 35 more men-boys, most of whom never made it past one or two beverages, and then came Andy. His arrival in my life was unlike any situation I’d ever been in. Wholesome. We met at my best friend’s wedding. You know exactly what happened — I saw his smile across the crowded room, and rushed to embody the cliché of it all, not because I wanted a good story to tell, but because I was 100% wild about him. Instantly. And he was 100% wild about me. Serendipitously.
So, two months later, on that sidewalk in Santa Monica when Bill said, “Love suits you. You look fabulous!”
I (the kitten) said, “I know!”
I was that happy.
At 32, all my dreams for Marriage and a Family of My Very Own remained intact, however bruised by the search, by the disappointments, by the one true love and the two bona fide faux-loves, by the unpleasantly eccentric and the gun-owning rich, by the sweet and the whacky.
When I met Andy, the search that started with my first crush in kindergarten ended.
Flash forward to now, nine years and eleven months later and counting. We’re in uncharted relationship territory.
The home we made together doesn’t match any of the teenage expectations I had for myself. We haven’t married. We decided not to have children. But I wake up regularly with gratitude for those choices. We often tell each other, “I love our home.”
Recent years have been rough. Real. Even tragic at times. The complications get complex and the complexities are confusing, and a lot of the time, it’s not fun. But anyone in an authentic relationship who won’t admit the same is hiding.
I find it interesting when people try to convince me that I should marry Andy because they feel it will provide some sort of magical bond. Really. Some of my married friends have actually said to me, “There were nights when I got so mad that if I wasn’t married, I would have left and not looked back.”
So, we should marry in order to force ourselves to stay in situations we would otherwise leave? It perplexes me that someone would say something like that with a straight face. How sad. If I were more confident and less considerate, I would say, “Are you even listening to yourself?”
I look at what Andy and I have experienced together (and apart), at the way we relate, and I’m amazed. I mean, we could do what those married friends of mine mentioned — just leave and not look back. There’s nothing legally binding about us, and nothing biologically binding either. But we’ve persisted. We persist.
Andy’s gifts to me rival those of my parents. One might say, “They should. That’s what partnership is.” I say, “Wow.”
He loves me so much — laughs at my jokes, supports my free expression of whatever it is I need to express on any given day, speaks to me with kindness (nearly always), encourages my many pursuits of happiness. And I love him (so much), too. It feels like he deserves more than I can ever give, more than I know how to give, more than can be articulated.
This spring, a close friend and I sat alone in her car for hours talking about the paradoxes in our lives. She summarized my situation by saying, “Andy’s your family, Ruth.” We were holding hands, and crying — because that’s what we do — and I couldn’t look away from the crumpled straw wrapper on her dashboard. She’s always embraced messiness more easily than I. She squeezed my hand tighter and said it again, “He’s your family.”
It had been a long time since I thought of it that way.
I love my family: Andy.
Thank you, sweetheart.