Tonight my eyes are getting heavy and my heart lighter. It’s the first day of my month, the eve of my birthday, the ending of my year of blogging and this last week or so of crazed posting before I turn sixty-four. Like other important eves of the year, this one has me looking back. My last birthday was hard. It was harder to be connected to myself than it is now. And I was completely cut off from my own home, but now I am tethered to it again, and the song of my white-crowned sparrows and the young mama hummingbird taking a bath and the new generation of lizards there in my courtyard are all part of the fabric of me again even though I am still living away from them. Now I get to visit. I get to know they don’t all think I’ve abandoned them anymore. And now I have lizard friends here, too, and my red-tailed hawk family, my two ravens and the Cooper’s hawk. I even have my mother’s white-crowned sparrows here, though they never serenade in the same way. Tonight I feel a little silly for not being able to let go of it but so glad, too, that I did not abandon my blog after all. And I feel hopeful for the year to come. And grateful, always, for each of you, coming by to read my work—and caring.
Oh, how funny. I was checking to confirm my latest post had indeed posted and happened to notice I had 21 posts last March (and “only” 19 this year in March). I must have been just as unable in 2021 to let go of meeting my posting commitment for the year (and just as swept away by the big changes and new demands in my life). I have to grin. Here I am feeling all funny about inundating my subscribers, and it’s not even the first time I have done this. I have zero memory of last year’s efforts. And, of course, I’m hopeful I can post my 64 posts while I’m 64 throughout the year, all nice and leisurely. But I bet I said that last year, too. Ha!
Thank you, as always, dear readers, for making room for me and all my foibles.
And another haiku-ish thing
just to apologize
my dear readers
for inundating you
in my (silly?) hope
of still posting
63 while I am 63.
(Yes, I am counting
this one, too.)
Those of you who have been with me here for a long time will know I often fall behind and catch up at the end of my year in order to meet my goal of writing one blog post for each year I’ve been alive.
This year has held extraordinary circumstances for us all, and I am indeed extraordinarily behind. I am trying to be kind to myself, to reach for ways to let life be a tiny bit easier. I don’t know if I can let myself “fail” in this. But I think I need to be open to the possibility since I would have to post 4 times each week in order to catch up.
So. I think I am writing to apologize to you for whichever way this falls out. I apologize in advance if I am not able to meet my goal and for going “missing” for much of ths year. (I had no idea I’d posted so few times!) And I apologize in advance in case I do make efforts to catch up, for the crazed flurry of posts I might inundate you with in the coming weeks.
I want to thank you, too, as always, for being my dear readers. However the rest of my sixty-third year unfolds, thank you. May life be as gentle with you as possible. And here’s to being together when I’m sixty-four. (Yes, there is a song in that!)
First, in December there is a three-week stretch where all I can do is what must be done. (It feels like six months.) Even firm commitments, looked forward to, fall away beside the path, grieved for, lost in the tangled weeds. Then there are eight days of no work when I withdraw, retreat to my warm bed on cold winter days. I let myself reread my old favorite books, dear companions. I let myself write, cry a little as fear seeps out of me, let my mind wander, allow ahas to surface. Then big work resumes, both colleges, warmer days, bird sounds through the open windows. I begin to scribble blog posts in my notebook, or things I hope might be blog posts. (I am now terribly behind.) I am not quite back in high gear yet, but I am working and writing. And I begin to dream about truly returning here, to see if little by little I might be able to get current with you, my dear readers. Always dear. Always.
In sleep, one of my narrated dreams, a man’s voice. “It is only in madness our tribe is made whole.” Awake, I wonder. Our artists, our dreamers, leading us home? Or in moving through our darker madness, white supremacy, racism, misogyny, hate crimes, global disaster?
[I plan to post one tweet each day in November @tryingmywings. I thought I’d re-post them here, too. I wanted to do one tiny thing to speak to what is happening in the world, so this is what I’m trying. My weekly-ish blog posts will be interspersed. There may be a bit of overlap if I expand a tweet or shrink a blog post. Do please let me know if it becomes annoying. ;-)
As always, my readers, thank you.]
My short story “Between My Ribs” is a finalist for the 2018 American Fiction Short Story Award from New Rivers Press. The 19 stories selected for their anthology are now with the final judge who will choose the first, second and third place winners in the next few weeks. I’ve been eager to tell you, my readers, wanting to share this sweet news, knowing you’ll feel glad for me and wish me well in this. But I’ve been shy about it, too. As I write, I feel big gratitude and quiet glee. But I’m not sure I can do justice to all the feelings this evokes in me. I feel thrilled and grateful and lucky. Of course. And I’m delighted my first publication will be with this university press who I’ve been so fond of for years now. But I feel afraid and sad and uncomfortable, too, and I can’t really point to why. I know I’ve been grappling with my discomfort over wanting to win. I feel honored to be chosen for the anthology, but I would very much like to win the contest, too. I worry about being greedy, so I wrestle with it. “Of course you want to win,” I say. “That’s only natural.” But it sits awkward in me, this wanting it to be more. But maybe I am only afraid of being disappointed if my story isn’t chosen for first place. Maybe it’s as simple as that.
But there is a deep desire in me to win. I want that recognition. I’ve held myself back in so many ways for most of my life, I think. I want to just step forward here. I want to lead this collection. So I’ll ask for your good wishes in this now while the judge is still reading our stories, still weighing his responses to each of them, still sorting through them for himself. I whisper my own prayers into the palms of my cupped hands. I can hear the house finch in the courtyard, and the mountains are clear this morning for the first time in months, keeping vigil with me. I kiss the center of my palms, fold them around each other, bring them to my heart. I sit very still, holding my hope. And then I open my hands, slow movements, the bird released to take to the sky. I grin, lightened, filled with the honor of this gift, at peace in this moment with whatever is meant to unfold next.
And thank you, too, for holding this in your own hearts with me. Just the thought of it makes me want to cry.
[Editor’s note: I don’t know much about Facebook, so this is clunky. But below is both their announcement of the finalists and my own section of that post when you scroll through all the photos. Here I am in my goofy head covering—I got the news when I was staying at the hostel and had to get a photo to them right away, so I took this with my iPad in my favorite chair outside. You can also access the post in their Facebook page here.]