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.
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.
I 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.