You probably noticed I never got to that post last week. I decided to leave for our annual family camp trip to Vermont early this year (I needed it), and once here – well, it’s like entering an alternate universe for a week where regular work, and cell phones, and computers don’t exist. Instead there are new kinds of work, meditation, old friends, and a sky so close it seems quite possible that you could reach up and scoop a handful of cloud from it.
Here two of my favorite things so far:
I mean, as if porch-sitting wasn’t already blissful enough…
Yesterday I went into town with an old camp friend to go to the local bookstore to pick up some books for lakeside/porch/tent reading. I’m now reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett on his recommendation. I’m only a few pages in, but it’s beautifully written so far. Your word from that book is:
Earlier today someone sent me a link to a feelings inventory. I’m pretty much having ALL THE FEELINGS, but specifically: terrified, dazed and torn, generally discombobulated and rattled, exhausted and weary, heartbroken, heavy hearted, frazzled and overwhelmed, fragile, shaky and nostalgic. But ALSO: open-hearted, tender, optimistic, empowered, appreciative, moved, thankful, and touched.
Maybe not all the feelings, but a lot of the feelings. My partner and I just split up after nearly 7 years. It was my choice, but I’m not sure how much that matters to feelings in the aftermath. You don’t get to walk away from that amount of time and emotional investment without feeling like the rug has been pulled out from underneath you. The earth even. Even if you did it to yourself.
“The mind of heartbreak is like a wild horse. You can’t just jump on and expect to ride. It will throw you again and again. So instead you hang around for a while until a sense of mutual trust develops.” ~Susan Piver
My decision was rather sudden, and horrifically ill-timed on many levels. And the logistics of the whole thing – the splitting up of this and that, who takes the cats, both cats? What about my daughter still living at home to finish one more semester at a local college before transferring? Where will she go? Where will I go for that matter? Will there be jobs there? Will I be able to swing this whole thing logistically and financially?
A U-haul load of uncertainties, worries, and tumbled up things that need to fall into place. Without too many emotional casualties please.
A lot is written about break ups, but it’s a bit unsettling that we don’t have any particular societal acknowledgment for it. No insurance coverage for it, no leave time from work for it, and to talk about it openly seems pretty taboo except amongst the closest of friends and family. Celebrities, politicians, bloggers, and social media personalities who thrive on the spotlight often go underground into silence during break ups. Yet marriage, new babies, loss of jobs, and even sickness are talked about without hesitation, and consequently a wider net of support is made available. What gives? It’s like we’re collectively ashamed and petrified of “the break up”.
Or like we’re collectively brain-washed into thinking this has to be done in martyr-like private agony.
I don’t know. Here I am, an ironically private blogger, feeling like it’s important for me to put out there. My life is going to be different from here on out, and it seems important that those who know me, even just a little, aren’t left trying to figure out what the catalyst was.
People break up, it happens. And so does the pain and confusion that follows. That’s normal too. So yeah, I’m going to be keeping company with a wild horse for a little while. And there’s your word, or words, for this week:
Keep it real word-nerds.
Second, if I haven’t left a comment on your post yet it’s because last week right up to now has been kicking my butt. My partner (McShirty for those who remember VV in the early days) got hip replacement surgery last week and I’ve been on nurse and gopher duty round the clock post-op.
Hip replacement. As in opening the body, cutting the bone, and screwing on some new parts. Boggles the mind as much as it throws a household schedule into a blender and then tosses it in the air. But let me say that it’s about time. McShirty’s been in pain since I’ve met him 7 years ago. That’s what a shallow hip socket from a childhood injury, and years of martial arts kicking will do.
I digress. The point is, I’m so glad you’re all still here, and tickled to see newcomers, and can’t wait to get around to all your posts just as soon as things settle down even a little bit over here. I actually had some breathing room today so that should be soon. The word this week is again from Neil Gaiman’s new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Please, do yourself a favor and get this book right away if you haven’t already. Neil Gaiman has a way of transporting you into memories that feel like your own. The word is:
Also, if anyone wants to airmail me a margarita, I won’t complain. You can do that, right?
It’s humid. Humid in that way you feel like you’re in a warm bath with your head underwater, breathing it in. This kind of weather makes everyone grumpy. Except those few annoying people who delight in cheerfully pointing out how much they looooove this kind of weather.
Everyone in my house is grumpy, including the cats.
We have AC in a couple of strategic rooms, but it’s not enough for this level of moisture. It’s the kind of moody weather that when an old friend sends your daughter Neil Gaiman’s new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, you use it as a happy excuse to lay under the ceiling fan and read it.
Your word this week, from this delicious piece of fiction, is:
Speaking of disconnect…my laptop is in a coma. That’s how I like to think of it. Not “dead”, as people often say about their computers when they shut down and won’t turn back on. “Dead” implies there’s no coming back and I’m not ready to think about a new computer, so I prefer to believe my computer is in a coma and any day now is going to wake up.
In the meantime, this “coma” my laptop is in has coincided with house/cat sitting for a friend. There’s no television here, no stereo, and even my phone doesn’t get service here. Just like that my ties to media have been severed cleanly.
In a day and a half I have eaten at a café, shopped at a local grocer for my next few meals, read 1/2 of one business book, three chapters of a book about the environment, and 2 chapters of a book on Dzogchen Buddhism. I’ve done yoga, meditated, and napped. I’ve taken two walks and one long bike ride. I’ve taken photos, and done some doodling/sketching.
I’m writing this post on my daughter’s laptop, which she kindly dropped off for me for a few hours so I could write this post and send out a few emails. Then it will be back to the no-media-silence.
Clearly I need to be more careful with what I wish for. The yearnings for media silence I expressed in last week’s post have been answered, which is fine, I just wish it didn’t have to be in a way that is potentially going to cost me a lot of money I don’t have. That’s the trouble with wishing and yearning – we can’t control the delivery method.
Anyway, in Rework, the authors talk about restrictions leading to creative results. They advise us to “embrace constraints”. By making do within limitations one has no idea what interesting thing might come of it. And though they’re generally talking about business, they mention writing:
Writers use constraints to force creativity all the time. Shakespeare reveled in the limitations of sonnets (fourteen-line lyric poems in iambic pentameter with a specific rhyme scheme). Haiku and limericks also have strict rules that lead to creative results. Writers like Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver found that forcing themselves to use simple, clear language helped them deliver maximum impact.
This has always been the purpose of the 100 Word Challenge, to create a constraint that forces a certain type of creative writing. Creating a 100 word vignette that can stand on its own is not easy (though it gets easier with practice), but it is an excellent exercise. It pushes you to show, not tell. It demands trimming the fat – an overall economy of words. And if you let yourself get lazy with it, it’s going to show up right away. There’s not much hiding room in only 100 words.
So this week, the word is:
Start with fresh eyes this week word-warriors. If you’ve fallen into a routine with 100 words, try to shake things up, you know, rework it. And if you haven’t been pushing yourself enough, you can totally imagine me as your drill sergeant barking, “DROP AND GIVE ME 100 WORD NERD!”
You know, if you need that sort of thing.