30 April 2010

Signs: In the heavens above? Maybe. Definitely on the earth below.

My current situation is such that I find great meaning in every little morsel of media put in front of me. Not, mind you, because I have great wisdom and am able to understand all mystery, but because my life partner and I cut it short, flaming out spectacularly, and I am knee deep in the shit of grief. In odd and random moments I am struck, hard, by what a book or a movie, even an advertisement, seems to be saying just to me. Tonight it was the achingly beautiful film An Education. The sweet, wise 16-year-old heroine, by the end of the movie having received her education (I'm being so careful not to be a spoiler), knows exactly, finally, really, what is important in life. She even went through a little bit of hell to get there. My hell seems deeper (naturally), and the wounds are still so very raw, but I have these moments, these little morsels of grace, when I know that I'm going to come out the other end, when life is going to be full and rich and happy. It is already, in so many ways, and I have so much (and don't we all, really). The ugly, painful moments? They take up so much space sometimes that they obsure the rest, and we push and pull and tug at them to no avail. I don't know how it is for you, but for me the only way to make them pass is to let them pass, to stand still or stand back and let them have their moment. Usually they get bored and move on. Sometimes they're nudged away—by a song, or a kind word, a phone call or text from a friend, a beautiful passage in the novel on my bedside—or tonight, by the half-grin of a schoolgirl who realizes that life isn't over after all. I'm glad for those moments, however they come to me. A few signs to light my way right now seem just fine.

Waking up is hard to do

So I hopped on my little Going40 engine this morning and was horrified at the ugliness I allowed to reach your screens. Not at my jewel-shaped phrases, mind you, but at the decidedly un-elegant layout. The problem is Blogger. So few tired boring templates, so few customizable options. But I know the platform, and it was easy to set up. I'll plug away at making it less heinous. Besides, if my words sparkle, who needs a beautiful format?

Yeah, I'll get right on it.

29 April 2010

Why, Scott, why?? It's been so pleasant and peaceful on the internets.

In a world of constant communication—relentless thoughts expressed, instant responses to accounts of mundane activities—a blog seems positively old-fashioned. For many of us, Facebook has become a [the?] way we communicate with friends, acquaintances, business associates, even those we lust after. Our interconnected comments and status updates mean that our reflections about life and each other are quick hits, fragmented but frequent, instant and cavalier. Not good, not bad, but definitely a new kind of real. For many of us, blogs served that same purpose, B.FB. My own wildly successful first blog (yeah, I'm still really funny) had at its heart a series of status updates. One of the things that made chronicling those years so fun was to be part of a community of witty writers who did the same thing. Almost without exception those folk have moved on. When I want to know what's up with Meema, Woolgatherer, Squab and so on, I don't go to their blogs anymore; I simply launch Facebook.

To contemplate a blog now is to acknowledge that writing needs a space in my life, and that people care about what I have to say, and how I say it. Maybe only a handful of people, but still, I have my loyal few. To make a blog work in this day and age means, I think, showing a willingness to experiment, to pick themes and exhaust them, to go beyond the Facebook status tease and share more than a few words at a time. To the drumbeat of "blogs are self-referential, me-focused, navel-gazing blogger" I would add, "yes." Writing what we know is how we start. HOW we do it, that's what determines value, however you define it. And let's face it, if I'm going to write, and I do, why not grab the feedback that comes from thoughtful commenters? Why not push myself to craft an essay that can be read by a few, honed and reshaped and transformed to useful fodder for another project? Who's to say. But we'll try here.

The occasion of my last blog was a major life transition: returning to school at forty. That hurdle past, I expected some years of quiet gentlemanly pursuits. Instead, I am surprised to find myself in the biggest upheaval(s) of my life: a new job, a partner seriously ill, the relationship unraveling as a result, living in limbo, a cherished pet dying, some minor health challenges of my own. I find myself overwhelmed and baffled, excited and terrified, sad and lonely and grateful and loved: sometimes in the span of an hour. Maybe if some of the craziness works its way out here we'll find a way to work out other weird shit together, and maybe we'll learn from each other's mistakes, and learn what it means to be okay. Maybe my stories will inspire your stories and your stories will change my life. Maybe real life is bigger than Facebook. Maybe I have something to say. Maybe you want to listen. Again.

They shall be called my disciples.