obvious by now

The ripples from my insight in late December about my dad’s (and consequently my own) life have been pretty long-lasting. I have lost story.

Or, more accurately I suppose, since I read 12 books on vacation, I have lost personal story. And I seem to have lost my connection to the very idea of memoir. A work of fiction is outright and baldly what it is: a fiction. A made-up world with made-up characters – and I do  believe that fiction is the lie that tells the truth – but a world created and explained and held by a writer. It is what it is because that’s how it was created to be. It may take root in a reader’s mind and heart and live on, as great works do, leaving me wondering what a character is doing now before I catch myself and realize it was “just” a character in a book, but nevertheless it was “just” a character in a book. It can’t be ‘gotten wrong,’ the character’s story can’t be ‘gotten wrong’ because it is crafted.

But memoir work is inherently ‘wrong.’ It’s a single shot of weft in a larger, more complicated piece, and directly and frequently contradicted by others in the same life. We get ourselves wrong, and we have all our biases (some invisible, some hoisted to help ourselves feel better) and I’ve not been able to pluck out any stories since mid-December. I can tell a factlet, like I first heard Camille Saint-Saëns’ spooky Danse Macabre in first grade, in 1964, in music class at Lucy B Reade Elementary School in Austin TX and I was also trying to learn how to snap my fingers then, but I can’t say more than that. I can say that I remember feeling something like wonder that a piece of music could make me feel shivery and scared. I can say that I could only snap by curling my index finger tightly and snapping my middle finger against my thumb, and other kids looked at me strangely because of that. I can have a tight spotlight on a moment but I can’t tell a story around it. I can’t say what it meant, or how it connects outwards from that hard chair in the music room.

Not even for the travel blog for our trip to Laos and Thailand, and that’s really weird. I’ve written a travel blog for all our trips together since November 2005. I still retain the impulse to write, but when I’d open the laptop to write a post — about the Mekong, or Wat Phu, or food, or the Lao people, or a difference I feel between Laos and Thailand — it’s like my hands are full of sand and immersed in a flowing river. There’s nothing to hold onto, no place to start, no story to tell. It’s weird, I tell you.

I’ve been thinking about closing down this blog for that reason, but I’ve decided to put it on hiatus. If you get email notifications, or follow the blog page on Facebook, you’ll know when (or if) I’m back. I may turn this into a reading and making blog, an in-the-moment observational writing platform (since I do still love words, and finding elegant and evocative phrasing), but just for now, I say au revoir…until I see you again. xoxoxo

a little bit of housekeeping

to get to my place, turn left at the big Indian.

SO. As I said before, I am wanting to pay extra close attention the first year in our new home, in Heaventree. My husband suggested that I start a blog for it, as I would for any of our vacations, so he could read it (he does not read this blog). I’ve done that on a blog in a subdirectory of my pillbug queen site (http://www.pillbugqueen.com/heaventree/), and if you follow my blog page on Facebook you’ll see that posts on that blog are automatically feeding there — so if that’s where you find me, on Facebook, it should be invisible to you which blog you’re reading. All you see is a new post.

BUT if you don’t follow me on Facebook, you won’t know about the Heaventree posts; I mean, I’ll still write here too of course, but this blog is more personally personal, if that makes sense, and that blog is looking closely at my first year here. If you are an email subscriber to this blog, I’ve made it possible for you to email subscribe to the Heaventree blog too, so head over there and you’ll see the email subscribe option in the right sidebar.  (EDIT: I was having trouble with the feed, sorry, try again! It worked for me……let me know if it doesn’t work for you please.)

I won’t be flooding both blogs with words; if you’ve been around the Palace for long, you know that I typically blog in bursts, with long fallow periods — but never more than one post/day. Even with both of these blogs up and running, I seriously doubt I would post on both blogs in a single day. And you can always unsubscribe with a click of a link, if you like.

I’m getting used to the soft shushing of the trees all day — not so used to it that I no longer hear it, but just used to it so I don’t think it must be raining. This is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. xoxox

time and change

It’s been so quiet around the palace! It’s been quiet in my head too, all those swirling twirling eddies of overthinking and worries and time travel quieted down. Something appears on my mental horizon and as it drifts toward me, I smile. Bubbles.

slowMy days are so full, so busy. An hour of yoga each day, now, and each minute of it is pleasure. Twenty minutes to meditate (not all those minutes are pleasure!). A daily walk (more when I’m in NYC). Time with Katie, Oliver. Time with my dear, dear friends here and there. Time to make a beautiful dinner, time to enjoy it, time to clean up. Time to travel . . . so much travel coming up in November. And yet time is slower than it used to be, the days feel longer somehow. My actual experience of time passing feels slower. It’s very interesting. I think this is the longest time a behavioral change has stuck with me, and while I don’t say this with absolute certainty, I do feel like this head shift is going to stay. Doing one thing at a time, tending to being mindful, being present, I continue to be very surprised by the ripples and implications.

IMG_5423And I’ve lost 25 pounds since June — 4″ around my hips, 5″ around my waist, 2″ around my rib cage. Historically it’s the return of a depression that throws me back into overeating, and I’ve cycled through depressions enough times to leave space for that to happen to me again. I hope not, of course, but I cannot be certain on this topic. I sure do love the body I’m in right now. I’ve dropped from a size 14 to a size 8, which is impossible to believe because I’ve never worn that size, ever (except in elementary school). I had to buy some new pants the other day because I couldn’t keep any of mine up and the furthest-in hole on my belts were still not enough. I just keep looking at the tag on the ones I’m wearing to convince myself it’s true. It’s so strange. I think these internal changes have helped me here, too. It’s such fun to have fun with how I look, instead of picking clothes that disguise rolls and parts of my shape that I didn’t like.

I’ve been thinking about this blog, especially since I’ve had nothing to post for quite a while now. For so long I used it to work my way through things I was thinking about or troubled by, as a way to figure things out. Since I was the CEO (hell, the whole C-suite!) of the Overthinkers Club, and since I was still grappling with many of the events of my life, I had a never-ending source of material. With the arrival of the gorgeous bubble idea, I seem to have been relieved of the overthinker’s burden, and hallelujah for that.  I don’t know what to do here, now. Write to share stuff? Books and movies? Write when something interesting happens, when I travel, when something big (fun or trouble) happens? I just don’t know, so the blog will be a bit fallow as I work my through the next incarnation. I can’t imagine not having it; I’ve been writing a blog of one kind or another for fourteen years. Bear with me, which is easy if you’re a Facebook friend of the site or if you subscribe. I’ll show up when something posts, otherwise out of sight out of mind.

I hope you have a wonderful and beautiful Sunday! We’ve had spectacular weather in Austin this weekend, and today I’m going to work outside, on my patio, and then see Gone, Girl with some of my girlfriends. Maybe I’ll have something to say about that. 🙂 xx

stuff I found

Aw, such a large-hearted woman.
Aw, such a large-hearted woman.

Hey, I was just about to post a bunch of links but I had this strange little thought. I’m writing this on Monday afternoon and the television schedule is kind of different than usual — holiday, I guess. Usually I have Jeopardy on in the background between 4 and 5, but golf is on instead so I have Ellen on in the background while I work. And you know, she’s just pretty great. She’s hilarious, of course, and in love with her wife, and such a kindhearted generous real soul. I imagine she is largely the same person in real life that she presents on her program — not 100%, of course, but largely. She dances, she looks her guests right in the eye and talks with them instead of over them. She’s pretty great. She asks us to be kind to one another. And I was thinking about how inspirational she is, and how I want to be a better person than I am, when I watch her.

So then I was wondering why our culture watches such crap, and with such contempt. Why we watch people who aim so low, who revel in low expectations and bullshit and trivial things. I mean, it’s not like we all have to be engaged in saving the whole world, in fighting against the gas bombings in Syria, in trying to make our country safe from various political trouble, but we all can try to be better people; we all can try to help each other as much as we can; we all can try to make someone else’s trouble a little bit easier. So many things we can be doing, lifting our heads a little higher, adding a bit of light into the world instead of sucking it out. I just don’t know why our culture is wallowing in the gutter instead of putting our eyes up on the horizon. It’s so sad. And: ELLEN. Or whoever inspires you. Watch the people who inspire you, read the people who inspire you, focus your intention on anything that lifts you up instead of brings you down.

So now, to the reason I was posting today . . . link love! It’s a lot of book stuff.

On that note, I leave you to your Tuesday. I hope to tell you soon about a bunch of books I bought when Sherlock and Peggy were here. Tomorrow, maybe. xo

the most unbelievable number

Modesty requires that I blush when you insist there’s no way I — such a young, lively queen of the pillbugs — can possibly be 54. Still, that number is not entirely unbelievable, especially if you look a little closer. Other numbers associated with me (146, 4.0, 5’10”, 81, 99th) are shocking or surprising, but not the most unbelievable number. The most unbelievable number is 1,122.

This is my 1,122nd post. Here, collected at this url, are all the posts from Thrums, then my short-lived Pillbug site on squarespace (I still resent squarespace, what a bad platform), and now here. I didn’t notice when I clicked past 1,000, but I’ve been noticing lately and the loveliness of 1122 is enough to prompt me to pause here and comment.

yeah, that tag cloud is a pretty good representation!
yeah, that tag cloud is a pretty good representation!

You don’t have to have been reading very long to see my short list of recurring themes: happiness and joy, struggles, depression, books, family and friends, and the sideways slinky of self-improvement efforts (and you may even remember a post or two where I talk about it in that way, the sideways slinky). You may remember times I’ve had the same insight over and over, each time like it’s a whole new thing. (But that’s OK, because I believe that’s how it goes.) You may remember the times I’ve vowed that finally I get something, only to lose track of that thing I was so sure of. If you’re an old-timer (to reading me, not necessarily your age!), you remember how this used to be primarily a knitting blog. (Yesterday I started a knitting project, the first since Gracie died.) (And if you’ve been around a long time, perhaps you are now rolling your metaphorical eyes at my inordinate fondness for parenthetical asides.)

What is this compulsion I apparently have to write in this format? I’m often a tiny bit appalled by the seeming narcissism of it, as if I think that whatever I have to say here will be of interest to anyone else. And yet I have found that it is, at times, and that’s a particular reward. I love Anne Lamott and her honesty inspires mine, and I think we all long to feel less alone, to find another person who feels like we do. Like every other person who blogs, I go in and out of feeling like I’ve tapped the well and no longer have anything to say. But then I do, and it’s an itch. An idea pricks me somewhere in my mind, it’s almost a physical feeling, and I start focusing in an unfocused way. I can’t see what it is, so I pause in an alert way and let it gather. And then I see it, and I start organizing it, thinking how I will say it here, finding first sentences, thinking about related material I can bring in. And then I have to get it down.

Part of my real need to do this stems from the particulars of my childhood, where I had to be and remain invisible, where we weren’t who we pretended to be, where we appeared and disappeared, sometimes without much of a trace. So this blog is a kind of record of my existence: Here! I’ve been here, I thought about these things, cared about those things, this is who I am, I have been here. Another part is that writing about things is my way of understanding them, of figuring out what I know and think and feel, of making sense and meaning. But still, why here? Why not in a journal that’s private? I’ve done that but I don’t stick to it like I do here. For some reason, an imagined reader — even if no one reads — is critical. My statcounter tells me how many people a day visit the site, provides a bit of information about you, how many times each IP address has visited, so I’m well aware if there are days no one reads. That hasn’t happened since the very beginning, but visits do ebb and flow. Visits slow down around the winter holidays as people are busy with their own real lives. Visits slow down if I’ve had a prolonged run of self-indulgent whiny-type posts. But even on those days of much lower readership, I don’t care, I still ‘need’ to come here and write.

words peopleI don’t know anything . . . I mean, I do know things, I know a lot of things, but I don’t have the kind of authority that so many bloggers take on. Here are the 12 things you should do to banish depression! Happy people handle stress like this! Do these 5 things and you’ll vanquish self-doubt! The only authority I have is about my own experience, and I try to share it as honestly as I can. A friend in NY asked me if my blog is a true representation of my life, and I said the emotional tenor is absolutely true. I leave out specific things that happen, especially if they relate to others who didn’t sign up for public display, or if they are too complicated to explain, or simply too private. But even then, I’ll tip my hand to something going on and then explore the emotional part of it. I wish I could find the specific quote I just read, but I think it was by Toni Morrison, and it was something about writing stories about the lives of people who may be SO SO far removed from any reader’s experience. She said the way to make that work is to be entirely specific about details, because readers can understand those little details because they’re human. So I share my little details in the belief that you will relate to them, even if our lives are very different.

Through these blog posts I have met so many people, people who are very real in my life. I’d start listing your names but seein as how I’m 54 my memory ain’t what she used to be and I’d leave out someone and it would then be a nonstop editing process as I get you all in. “Oh! How could I possibly have left out….!” Periodically I thank you for reading, and that’s a heartfelt sentiment. I do thank you for reading. I thank you so much for leaving comments, when you do. I thank you for subscribing. I thank you for being a real part of my life.

stupid squarespace

Well y’all, I’ve had it with this stupid platform. I don’t like the limitations, in the first place, and it’s clunky to use, but worse is that many of you can’t leave comments when you want to. Of course I’m always happy to hear from you backchannel, through email or on facebook, but I also want you to comment whenever the hell you want to.

From the beginning I’ve been unhappy with Squarespace, but I’d just moved the site and you resubscribed and I didn’t want to ask you to move with me again. So I thought I’d just deal with all the unhappiness on the back end and suck it up. What matters, I thought, was that I got to do my little daily writing, and I can do that here even if it’s clunky and awkward. But I’ve finally just had it.

This morning I bought pillbugqueen.com (aren’t you surprised that it was available? she said ironically) and in five business days, I’m going to shift it to its own account in bluehost to help avoid keeping me accessible to the stalker. For now, I’ll just keep posting here until the site is up and running. I think I can give it the same feed, since I burn my feed through feedburner, and the shift will be entirely invisible to you except in the functionality of the site. I’ll also be able to leave a post with the new URL (I couldn’t do that with my other blog due to the crazy stalker), so maybe it won’t be too disruptive anyway.

Moving sucks, even in cyberspace. (Do we still call it that? Did I just out myself as an oldie?) 🙂