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feelings grab bag

October 20, 2014

Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of this blog. This post is #454, so I’ve averaged ~90 posts per year.

On Twitter late last night, I offered sympathy and/or empathy to a bunch of people I follow, including some people who usually converse with me. For whatever reason though, last night, no one responded at all. Even as these same people responded to other people’s sympathy and/or empathy, so it wasn’t just that they weren’t on Twitter, or didn’t feel up to interaction.

I realized that maybe I think I’m skilled at expressing sympathy and/or empathy, but maybe I actually suck at it. That idea made me even sadder than not getting any responses did.

But for the first time, I didn’t fall face first into a shame spiral. I just felt sad. A bit frustrated.

Eventually I engaged with 2 people. One of them was unhappy, too, and I . . . took the plunge. I expressed concern (despite having complex feelings about the whys and wherefores of their personal issues). They . . . didn’t respond to my attempts at sympathy and/or empathy. But somehow, it hurt less this time. I . . . didn’t take it personally.


Someone else I follow was talking about race and class issues related to making a living at being a writer, especially as relating to affording college these days. Another person mentioned that tuition at the University of Chicago now costs $50,000 a year (!).

When I was in high school, I dreamed of attending the University of Chicago, which was super-expensive back then too. My parents would’ve needed to take out a second mortgage (if they were going to help me out financially at all, which they weren’t); there was no way on earth I could afford to even consider applying. And I did not apply, so I don’t know if I could’ve gotten in.

All these years that I’ve spent in the riptide of how horrible my life with my family of origin was, I’ve been angry that my parents wouldn’t help me out with college, when they did pay for both of my brothers to attend out-of-state private colleges. That was unfair; it sucked.

But… in high school, when I dreamed (uselessly) about the University of Chicago, I didn’t understand anything about how the adult world actually worked. If money had fallen out of the sky, enabling me to attend the University of Chicago, I would’ve still struggled with the transition from high school to college. I would’ve still had a spotty work history, at low-paying jobs. I might’ve still dropped out.

I was really ambivalent about college. If my parents had taken on crushing debt to allow me to attend some expensive school, when I didn’t even want to be there, I’d have been squished by guilt.

I don’t think I ever got anything I really wanted from my parents. They excelled at obstructing my dreams. But. . . now I don’t owe them anything.

Maybe if I’d gotten stuff I wanted from them, I’d have turned into a snot-nosed prat.

None of that matters anymore. I’m 48 years old. My life is what I’ve made of it.

Trial and error with barely any help, ever, was certainly not the fastest way to figure out what I want to do with my life. But I’ve gotten there all the same. Via having many cool experiences I’d not have had otherwise. My work history in no way resembles that of either of my brothers, but I wouldn’t trade mine for theirs.

I’ve earned every inch of my life.


It never gets any easier, dealing with people who had/have supportive parents that they love unconditionally (more or less). I’m not going to try to make conversations about someone else’s parents into conversations about mine, but sometimes it would be nice to just. . . relax into the comfort of the idea that parents genuinely want their kids to thrive. That nice, normal assumption that so many people take for granted. . . that I cannot relate to, at all.

The good news is that I no longer cry when telling a therapist that my parents told me I was stupid and worthless, and that no one would ever put up with living with me because I was such a pain in the butt. The bad news is that having that conversation, for the 18,739th time is somehow still relevant to my life at 48.


Yesterday Spouse brought home a dozen red roses. I like roses a lot, but I don’t really like red roses. And I definitely don’t like bouquets where all the flowers are approximately the same color, and same shape. Also, I had the flowers I’d bought for myself Friday, so it seemed a little odd that he’d brought home flowers. But hey, a husband bearing flowers for no special reason is a nice surprise all the same.

Except the roses weren’t actually for me. He’d used them as props in a photo shoot, brought them home afterwards.

Initially, I felt deflated. I recovered my equilibrium fairly quickly, I thought. Went on with my day. But here I am at 2 a.m. still thinking about it. (Well, the roses are also in my line of sight.)


Lemonade sweetened with maple syrup is delicious. I wish I hadn’t drunk the entire bottle yesterday.


I’m very glad that I’m no longer feeling terrible all the time. But I’d like to feel happier more often. Not just . . . blank. Or vaguely disappointed. Or worse yet, invisible.

Dream elements: 10.19.14

October 19, 2014

When I woke up this morning, the only part of my dreams I distinctly remembered was that Sofia Samatar was a character.

I noticed that makes 2 women with the initials S. S. in 2 recent dreams. I pondered again how I keep dreaming about people I know from Twitter (which actually makes sense because that’s where I meet most people these days).

Disappointed I couldn’t remember any other details; moved on with my life.


Looking at my shadow on asphalt, just now, showing the fluttering of the fun and floaty skirt I’m wearing, I suddenly remembered a fragment of a dream:

I was planning a trip back to Indianapolis. I was definitely going to stop in at Marigold [the boutique I bought this skirt at, some years back]. I also wanted to revisit other favorite places in Broad Ripple.

I bet René’s Bakery was one.

Oddly enough, Artifacts Gallery (where I worked for a year) was not, nor was the Indianapolis Art Center (where I took classes in all sorts of media, over many years).


I realized a few days ago that, from the comfort zone of living in Maryland, I can look back at Indianapolis, and love parts of it unreservedly. I never could do that when we lived there; I was afraid if I did, I would somehow be trapped there, unable to leave. But now that I’m gone, I perceive I could not have become the person I am now without long years in Indianapolis.

Illinois couldn’t have done it. Definitely Oklahoma couldn’t have done it. Even New York State couldn’t have done it. It had to be Indiana. It had to be Indiana at those times in my life — figuring out college. My internship. Finishing college, with honors and awards. Working at a bunch of places, none of which were quite right, but they all allowed me to explore aspects of my personality and interests. Coming back to Indiana, and finding DB at exactly the right time. Floundering around with no job. Learning how to live on almost-no-money all over again. Learning how to not be resentful about that necessity; realizing it could be an opportunity. Not knowing what else to do, trying college again, then grad school. Winning a fellowship, making amazing things possible. Getting a ‘dream job’. Paying off my debts. Saving gobs of money, allowing us to travel to places Spouse never dreamed about (but I had). Realizing slowly, reluctantly, neither grad school nor my dream job were ‘good fits’ after all. Existential crisis. Leaving both. Striking out into the world with no map, searching for the elusive “something more creative”. Prioritizing art as something I did. Beginning to think of myself as an artist, first. Finding pieces that I needed for a new kind of life, but with no idea how to put them together.


Why wasn’t I planning to revisit Artifacts? It was a beautiful place. There were many aspects of working there that I enjoyed.

There were also many aspects that I didn’t enjoy. I didn’t fit in socially of course (I never do). But what seems most relevant to the dream is blogging. The store had a website, which they didn’t use particularly effectively. Spouse thought I should suggest to them that they start a blog, and I could write it for them! I was already drawn to the idea of blogging, at some point, but I didn’t feel ready yet. And I could feel deep inside that . . . beginning to blog as part of a job would close all sorts of doors, creatively, for me. So I did not suggest it.

They did hire me to do more with their website. But they only offered me the same amount of money I was receiving to be a retail clerk. Every time I tried to raise the subject of how they should be paying me a lot more, they managed to not hear me. (The person who had previously done their website work was someone they really liked, and they did pay her a reasonable wage for doing the work. So they weren’t just cheap.)

I rarely think about anybody I knew there.

+ = +

Why wasn’t I planning to revisit the IAC? That seems murkier. I took classes there for probably 6, 7, maybe 8 years. The majority of my experiences were very good. Spouse taught classes there for several years, and really enjoyed doing so. I loved dropping in and looking around, which I did every time I was in Broad Ripple.

And yet. . . I took a sewing class there. MA, a coworker at Artifacts, recommended this specific instructor; everyone who took her classes loved them, and learned a lot, so I was really excited. I bought a sewing machine, and a bunch of supplies.

I would guess my instructor was an ESTJ; I’m an INXP. Not only was her teaching style ineffective for me, it was actually alienating. But I couldn’t bring myself to quit just because of that. Oh no. I had to stay until I injured myself; only then did I allow myself to drop out of the class. (Too late for any kind of refund, of course.)

= * ^

Why go back to Marigold? I bought a bunch of my favorite clothes there. But that’s not the reason.

Clothes from Marigold got me thinking about making my own clothes. Not the drudgery of fiddling with technical details (like the sewing class at the IAC), but the fun, creative ideas part: What if I took this dress and made it longer? Or shorter? Or wore it upside down, somehow? What else might I have done with these materials, so that they’d actually be ‘my style’?

Marigold seeded my imagination, freeing me to use it.


I have to do things my own way. That means that taking classes is . . . tricky. Too many fiddly technical details, too early in the process, and I start wondering why I ever thought this might be fun. I need to jump in, when I don’t really know anything. I need to get to know the materials myself, play with them, learn their flavor notes, before I can benefit from classes.

I need to already love doing whatever-it-is, before I learn how everyone else does it. Because it’s inevitably going to turn out that my own way will not resemble anyone else’s way, probably at all. If I love it, though, I can defend what I do, and why, from people insisting I need to do it some other way. If I don’t already love it, I can get squished by those people. [See: guitar lessons, oil painting, cooking, tapestry weaving, jewelry making, etc.]

Dream elements: 10.17.14

October 18, 2014

Friday morning, I had a dream containing elements that seemed more significant than what actually happened in it. Instead of analyzing the “plot”, I brainstormed what the elements might represent, to see if a gestalt understanding would emerge.

AROHO 2013 women . . . . . . . various incarnations of Past Me

AROHO 2015 women . . . . . . . various (possible) incarnations of Future Me

Dream-Me (nonbinary/genderdiverse) . . . . . . . Present Me

Spouse (man) . . . . . . . catalyst for introducing Play [playfulness], such that my comfort zone was left in the dust /// Trickster archetype ~ 1 (of 3) of my most-salient archetypes.

[ At the Ghost Ranch Library, while attending AROHO 2013, I synchronistically ran across Jeremy Taylor’s book, The Living Labyrinth: Exploring Universal Themes in Myths, Dreams, and the Symbolism of Waking Life, where he wrote about 2 of my special archetypes:

“Because the archetypal energy of the Divine Child is always associated with new ideas and emotions coming into conscious awareness, it will also bear a deep connection to the archetypal Trickster [which] is an archetype of human consciousness itself, with its ‘tricky’ propensity for self-deception on the one hand, and tremendous creativity on the other.” (p. 156) ]

AROHO itself . . . . . . . literary and creative endeavors, sanctioned; community of peers

setting of elementary school . . . . . . . (re)learning “the basics”, the foundation of all future knowledge (?), praxis (?)

The only AROHO woman I distinctly remember (who strongly resembled US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor) . . . . . . . there to “see justice done”? “right past wrongs”?


This was not one of those dreams where I was taking an exam, and worrying about failing it, yet the setting being an elementary school kinda recalls those sorts of dreams to mind.

And Jeremy Taylor wrote about those dreams as well:

“The dream of the class you forgot to attend all semester reflects the dreamer’s spiritual predicament. It is as though every person were automatically enrolled in an ongoing ‘class’ at birth called something like What Is Really Going On Here Below The Surface of Mere Appearance. . . The Divine Child is the part of our psyche that knows how to pass the exam in the forgotten class, how to transform the dreamer’s individual life and collective society.” (pp. 164, 166)


Questions raised by this dream:

Why wasn’t I the ‘main event’? (How do I know I wasn’t?)

Who else’s presentation would’ve/could’ve been more appropriate/necessary than mine (the one dream-Spouse suggested, but I was too afraid to do)?

Were all the AROHO attendees actually women? Or did I just assume they were, and therefore, that none were enough like me to care about what I needed to ask them? *

Why was dream-Spouse there? [Thinking back on it now, it almost seems like . . . no one else could see him? So he was my conscience/advisor?]

Dream-Spouse is the most-unlikely recurring dream character to be playful. What does this shift signify?

What is a waking-life analogue to dream-Me’s fear of presenting to the AROHO women?

Is it significant that my presentation would have been impromptu/improvised? [ I had to give an impromptu speech in high school speech class. My mind blanked out, and I have no recollection of what actually happened. Speech class was pretty horrible anyway, but that assignment was especially terrifying. ]

Why didn’t I recognize any of the AROHO women?

Where was the school located?

What time of year was the dream taking place? [ The light in the room was golden glowy natural light. ]

Is the ‘golden glowy natural light’ related to YELLOW?

Where and how and with whom can I be braver than what I have already been doing?

* 10.19.14, re-reading this post, realized that this question echoes the circumstances behind the creation of AROHO itself. At Ghost Ranch in 2000, Mary Johnson asked a bunch of women on a retreat for the resources to write the book within her that needed to be written. She received the resources from Darlene Chandler Bassett, and the 2 of them went on to co-found AROHO, which supports and funds the books other women have yearned to write.

before you can say Yes…

October 17, 2014

you have to say No. A lot.

I want to just welcome new opportunities into my life. We’re not there yet.

By dismantling half of this year’s potager, while considering what differed this year that made it, overall, a disappointment, I discovered… I like greenery. Lots of greenery is good, especially if the shapes and/or textures of the leaves are interesting. BUT, I also need lots of flowers.

This year’s edition was hampered by two things: (1) to avoid neonicotinoids, I wasn’t able to buy any plants from our local nursery. Instead I bought certified-organic plants from a nonprofit environmental organization. Most of those plants died fairly quickly; 2 flowered first, but the blossoms were small, and not very colorful. (2) What I called “unknown neighbors” (but most people would call “weeds”) appeared in pots and windowboxes. As an experiment, I didn’t remove anybody. I eagerly awaited seeing what kind of flowers they would have! None of them flowered. And some of the cultivated plants they grew adjacent to (that had flowered last year) did not flower this year either.

I spent a lot less time in the potager this year than I normally do. That meant I needed other activities to step in, help regulate my moods. It’s a very good thing that I’m learning how to self-regulate, finally. But going to plants for comfort, for enthusiasm, for joy . . . seems for me to be sort of a liminal kind of place: not wholly outer, not wholly inner. I was raised amongst plants inside and outside. I can’t be completely at ease without plants nearby. But now I know, some of them need to flower, at least sometimes.


I’ve been idly looking for skilled things I can do to help other people out. I’ve applied only to the ones that looked especially interesting. No one has contacted me.

Instead of my usual desperation at this point, I’m just rolling along. Keeping an eye out for things I think I might want to do. (Rather than the more usual Yes to whatever I’m capable of/skilled at doing, whether or not I enjoy doing it.)


In the last few months, I’ve made even more friendly overtures than usual. Pretty much all of them, to date, have been ignored. (Also as usual.) But instead of feeling like a disgusting monster, I feel kind of . . . blank. I tend to forget that I even said or sent anything, until I stumble across a reminder.

I no longer feel like my entire self-worth is entangled with other peoples’ random responses to me.

That blankness, I recognize as similar to how I felt last year when I broke up with longstanding friends. I think it’s somehow a good thing: I’ve disinvested in social things I have no control over. Whatever happens, I’ll deal with it. But none of it is a referendum about me.


I got new “business cards”, in case I meet people I’d like to keep contact with. They don’t include my e-mail, never mind a phone number. Just my blog URLs, and Twitter handle.


The solid 11 months I was obsessed with poetry have . . . now ended. Nothing definite seems to be replacing poetry, which is good. I definitely need fallow time after all that focus.

People I know from AROHO have poetry collections that I intend to read, but they will have to wait until the right frame-of-mind returns.

I set myself a goal of writing 30 poems in September. (Which I actually thought of on September 6, so it was slightly more than 1 poem/day, on average.) By month’s end, I had written 31.

My original plan was to write in September; edit throughout October. I now think editing may not happen until December. Maybe January.

I miss writing poems. I kept doing more and more, faster and faster, as the year progressed. But now I haven’t written one in weeks. I feel . . . hollow.

That’s good. I’m clearing out old stuff. Making room.

I don’t know who I am anymore. In a good way. Years and years overdue.


I’m trying not to obsess about AROHO. I don’t think about them much when I’m awake. But I dreamed about them last night; about anxiously waiting on their decision. Dream-Spouse playfully suggested I make an impassioned appeal to an assembled group of AROHO women, before the official shindig got underway. I recoiled, sure that “no one would care about what I need”/”no one will notice if I’m not there anyway”.

A central motif in my therapy.

What’s really catching my attention right now, though, is that dream-Spouse is never playful. Why was he this time? Shouldn’t he have known that I would see what he was saying as setting me up for public humiliation? If he wasn’t concerned about that, why wasn’t he?

Basically, is it possible dream-me is overly concerned with the wrong things? If dream-Spouse is being playful, the whole world is topsy-turvy. Which means I need to adjust to the environment I’m actually in, not the historical social environment I tend to feel trapped in, when I need something from other people.


As I find myself recognizing certain ways my mother wanted me to be, or even things I wanted for myself, I notice these particular kinds of things all diminish me. Lop off pieces. Camouflage or hide others. I spend so much energy denying what I am that I don’t even . . . realize . . . what I am.

I’ll never be soignée. I’m scruffy. I’m sturdy. I’m skillful. I get stuff done, often innovatively. I’m no Thoroughbred; I’m a mountain pony.

I’m not “all sweetness and light”. I’m prickly. I stand my ground; I defend what’s mine. Tangle with me and you’ll be sorry. I’m determined. Strong-willed. And my ideas . . . barely resemble anyone else’s. Deal with it, or get the hell out of my way!

+ ^ + > +

I “said Yes” to some on-foot exploring today, where I discovered a florist. I bought some flowers for myself, “just because”: orange Alstroemeria, hot pink Gerber daisy, and plum-purple flaxflowers. (I didn’t notice until just now, but those colors match the sweater I wore today!)

I had a difficult conversation today, that I’d been dreading. It turned out very well.

I’m getting braver, but things are also working out better, which helps immensely.


gifts giving

October 17, 2014

Gifts I’ve given myself:
1. My share of last year’s tax refund has been paying for bodywork psychotherapy. I’m learning how to inhabit my body, and keep breathing, no matter what happens (rather than dissociating, or having a meltdown). I’m rediscovering my own complexity.
2. Time for myself prioritized over other things that need to happen.
3. A smattering of notebooks of all sizes, and pens, in case I get an urge to write. (I often do.)
4. Writing down my dreams. Talking them over, sometimes exhaustively.
5. Fallow time. (Not writing when nothing bubbles up. Trusting that it will when it needs to.)
6. Conceptualizing new ways to do things I’ve done ineffectively. But keeping my ideas light and playful. Focusing on doable and enjoyable.
7. Letting go.
8. Facing my fears.
9. Making friendly overtures, and complimenting people — it feels good!
10. Calmly, reasonably, remarked to Spouse that his reluctance (?) to call me by NewName felt to me like I’d become “hey you”.
11. Birthday celebration doing exactly what I liked.
12. Allowing myself to change my mind. Sometimes repeatedly on particularly-thorny issues.
13. Reached out to someone, on a whim. Made arrangements to meet. Within 2 days, realized I didn’t actually want to go through with it. Withdrew gracefully, without apologies. (Advancing in not burning bridges needlessly.)
14. Staying up late when I need/want to. Even when it’s all night.
15. Disclosing Who I Really Am (not hiding).
16. Acorns in my car for company. (Previous years, it’s been autumn leaves.)
17. Taking “midnight” walks.
18. Embracing odd preferences I didn’t used to have [mustard; Chicago hot dogs]. Figuring out what they illuminate about me that I didn’t know.
19. Taking time. There are things about myself that I do not know, and am not (apparently) ready to know. I can sit with that uncertainty and discomfort, breathe with it. Eventually some things will become clear, but I need to hold off/wait.
20. Biological metaphors: amino acids, proteins, organs, organisms; bottom-up self-organizing; various configurations (usually accompanied by lots of gestures); the mantis shrimp and the ants; the only platypus in Kansas; the duckling that grew up to be a javelina.
21. Colorful. Slowly finding Amelia-friendly garments that are warm enough for autumn and winter. (Hoping to prevent how my dreary-colored cold-weather clothes have tended to contribute to seasonal depression.)
22. “Business cards” that are as colorful as I feel.
23. Notebook for “dreaming extravagantly”.

AROHO or not? waiting to find out…

October 5, 2014

I have a catchphrase that I have lots of opportunities to say: [exasperatedly] “Well, that’s exactly what I didn’t want to have happen!” I said it just a few minutes ago. I was looking for a particular bottle on a high shelf, and one of the unseen lids slipped off behind the shelf, into a place I can’t reach it.

Spouse laughs whenever he hears me say my catchphrase. He wonders why I don’t do things differently, so that the things that I don’t want to have happen aren’t the things that happen.

Well, why don’t I?


In September 2013, I became aware of an environmental conference concentrating on pesticides that would be occurring in Maryland the next month. As I looked into it, I wasn’t one of the usual sorts of attendees [government scientists, non-profit administrators, beekeepers, etc.], so I wasn’t sure I was eligible to attend. I emailed the organizer to check, before registering. No one responded, so I swallowed my disappointment, and went on with my life.

Two weeks before the conference, I got an email from an intern for the conference, telling me they were looking forward to seeing me!

I was thrilled. I actually had to change around my schedule, but I was happy to do that. I also had to figure out how I would get to the location, a place I’d never been.

The social aspects of conferences can be quite tricky for introverts, even when your professional background matches everyone else’s. I actually have a professional environmental background — just years out of date, and back in Indiana. If anyone asked, I was gonna say I was an environmental blogger first, and then maybe elaborate about my background if it seemed relevant.

The day of the conference, I walked into the hall with someone I’d met in the parking lot. She worked for a nonprofit that I was aware of. I shared my concerns that I would be out of place as “merely a concerned citizen”. She thought it was great that I cared enough to bother!

At the check-in table, there wasn’t a name tag for me, but an intern was happy to give me the supplies to make my own. Then the organizer showed up, demanding to know what was going on. When I told her my name, she got very agitated. She made a big scene.

My new acquaintance was behind me in line, as were other people. They all got to hear about how there’d been “some kind of mix-up”, and I wasn’t actually welcome. The rest of the line melted away in embarrassment. I was practically in tears. The organizer ungraciously decided I could stay for the conference.

My composure never really recovered, as I spent the entire conference worried that, if I said “the wrong thing” (whatever that might turn out to be), I would be asked to leave. I can’t even remember if I told anyone I was an environmental blogger. But it was during that conference that I thought, “Maybe being an environmental blogger is a dumb idea. Maybe everything I want to do is a dumb idea. Maybe there is no damn place for me anywhere in this world.”

And then, for the first time, I heard about neonicotinoids. And everything changed.


Today is not the day I write about neonicotinoids. That really needs to be posted on my 2nd blog, the environmental/poetry blog called werdivory, that no one but me ever reads.

I have spent my life seeking out things I need to know, which means I often find myself in places where no one is similar to me at all. Usually everyone else is fairly similar to each other. I’m the lone weirdo.

Spouse might say, “why don’t you just go to places where you fit in?” Well, because there aren’t any places like that.

I thought AROHO could be as close as I ever get though. And, oh, I had the most amazing time there last summer!

I applied to go in November 2012, when I was still calling myself genderqueer. One of the essays in my application discussed gender, and some of my gender issues.

By the time I attended, in August 2013, though, I knew I was nonbinary.

Maybe I wouldn’t have fit in anyway. My name change had just gone through, so I was getting used to introducing myself in a new way. I wasn’t published. I hadn’t read much poetry. I didn’t have an MFA. (I don’t even want an MFA.) I’ve never taught . . . anything. (I don’t want to teach anything.) I don’t have kids. I don’t have the usual kind of dysfunctional family — talking about my family of origin is perilous, and often immediately alienates people. I didn’t have any kind of paying job, and felt really conflicted about it.

On the positive side, I’m very environmentally aware. I know at least a little bit about a great many things, often from reading about them. I’m curious about everything. I discover connections between things that other people don’t. I’m very open-minded. I can be quite enthusiastic. I’m friendly. I remember things people tell me about themselves. I like people. I especially like people who are different from me in interesting ways, because then we can learn from each other. (And I need to be learning, almost constantly.)

I had such a great time at AROHO. I really did. But the stuff everyone else could bond over — the experience of Womanness in a Man’s World —wasn’t really complex or nuanced enough to describe my experiences in the world. And yet, I didn’t feel I was allowed to talk about my experiences.

I kind of felt like I was there under false pretenses. Like if the AROHO administration knew who and what I really was, I wouldn’t be welcome.

I was the wrong kind of diversity.

(The story of my life.)

A few days ago, I wrote to AROHO, and came out as nonbinary. I’m waiting to hear if that disqualifies me from applying for the 2015 Retreat.


I really really want to find some place, some people, that can like me or love me for who I actually am. Not who I’m trepidatiously pretending to be.

lush, not aid*

September 23, 2014

Returned yesterday from 4+ blissful days on Chincoteague Island, largely spent in the National Wildlife Refuge.

Breakfasts 2 successive mornings, we spoke with a (very engaging) mixed-gender couple from the Netherlands. Their niece had just gotten married in Baltimore, and they took a few extra days to sightsee along the mid-Atlantic coast.

Oddly, the man had worked at the company Spouse works for now, which is in a niche industry that a lot of people have never heard of.


I don’t know how to explain this blog to someone I’ve just met. I usually say something like, “I write about my creative process/living a creative life, with everyday life stuff mixed in”. And that’s true, as far as it goes.

But I think that tagline might actually make it sound more interesting to new people than it actually is, to anyone who isn’t me.

A lot of other people who write about creativity, or their creative process, seem to find ways to make their insights broadly applicable to others. But to do that, you have to have some idea how other people think, so that you know what they value, and therefore which directions to go in.

I have some idea what other people value, but it doesn’t overlap almost at all with what I value.


When I meet someone new, and I tell them I blog, as I hand over the URL (if it comes to that), I try to recall my most-recent post. Any chance this person will find it interesting? Or will I seem narcissistic? Will my life seem pale and uninteresting? Or, more likely, will my life seem strange and unappealing?


I’m struggling with working through some thorny issues that have long troubled me. Before now, I always got caught up, at the surface, in a loop of self-pity, that could rapidly escalate into depression or even despair, without realizing that deeper issues lie underneath.

This blog is a reflection of my inner life. This blog may present an image of that life that is “strange and unappealing”. I think it’s actually fairly accurate to describe me as “strange and (largely) unappealing”.

I like being the person I am. I have always liked being the person I am.

But I have never found a way to present myself, socially, that is both (1) accurate, and (2) appealing to other people. If I’m accurate, then I’m strange. If I’ve accidentally stumbled across something that makes me appear appealing, then something’s out of whack. When it gets corrected, which it will, eventually, the other person is generally bemused at best. Sometimes resentful, as if I deliberately misled them.

When people like me at first, it’s bittersweet because I know it won’t last.


I don’t have to worry, though, about self-censoring myself to avoid losing the affection or emotional support of my friends and/or family.

I don’t have an obligation to write on a set schedule, because my job requires it. Or my writing group checks in regularly, so I’d need to be working on things other people like (to read).

I need have no fears that fans of my writing will not enjoy new directions I might find myself chasing. Some of which will indeed be dead ends. Or just only of interest to me.


I think the missing piece of the puzzle — obscured by the trajectory of self-pity => depression => despair — is that . . . I need to revel in being strange and unappealing. Who else has this kind of freedom? Who else would . . . be able to . . . put it to good use?

OUTLANDISH, with its many layers of personal meaning and significance, is my new byword.


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