The Good Neighbor Thing

Coming-out stories come in all shapes and sizes. When my friend Joanne came out in her late 30s, it was a pretty lonely affair.  She came out as a lesbian feminist, and there was a general lack of affection in the broader lesbian community for this identification. She didn’t know many women in town in any case. There were several lonely months, lots of self doubt and second-guessing, before Joanne felt welcomed and comfortable. In telling this story later, she shakes her head, dismayed, still a little puzzled, but with an intact sense of humor: “I really thought someone was going to show up at my door, sort of like a gay welcome wagon, with a reading list and a loaf of bread and friendship.”

Starting to blog is a little like that. This assignment offers a remedy. Here are some sites that I have been drawn to and/or that have particularly welcomed me:

With powerful photographic images and penetrating words, Treothe is immersed in the ecopoetics of the Pacific Northwest in his blog, Tree Oathe — Fresh Ancients of Cascadia & Beyond, that can be found here.  There is  an especially incisive post in his writing category, using the story of Ferguson as an allegory to the state of our communities, comparing it with a case of lethal domestic abuse:

Elspod writes creatively on a variety of topics, some whimsical, some serious, all very well crafted. She imagines a spectacular send-off for Robin Williams–one he deserved, one more fitting to the humor and magic that he shared so generously with the world. Her blog, Be Amazing, is found here.

talesbytink is another excellent, creatively written blog. Her muse is a mermaid. An  evidently brilliant mermaid. She is committed to developing her craft of writing, and her posts have substance and depth.  Find her here.

Wendy Barron is a spirited writer with a rich creative life. She has a love for all things literary and an aversion to housework. You can find her over here.

I declare this the blog equivalent to the Gay Welcome Wagon thing that my friend Joanne missed. It’s true that making positive connections strengthens the fabric of our communities. Whatever and wherever they might be.


Lise’s, Montreal. Blogging 101, day 9

43fbfc4ac5c4fdda2405f42d8430ad57A professor and friend of mine lives and writes in Montreal. Her brick row-house faces a green urban park. The street is lined with trees, and parking is impossible. The view from the sidewalk, all along the street, is of cats on window-sills and container gardens flourishing in the sun.

Ah, but it’s the view out the kitchen window that enchants me. Those back windows look out over a maze of complex courtyards, paintings of rich detail: a cat’s-cradle of clothes-lines that fly work clothes on Monday morning and billowing worlds of sheets sailing later in the week; back-yard balconies with routine performances by mops and brooms and the wild shaking of throw rugs. There are magic flying carpets floating in the hot glimmer of a summer afternoon; fairies conducting their fairy-business beneath the drenched leaves of a June downpour; early morning children, Saturday night couples, and Sunday solitary women.

Inside, a rich world of books suggests a lifetime affair with words and ideas. I smile. It’s like walking into another time, into a crowded back-alley bookshop where communicants seeking shelter from the rain are announced by the shallow tinkling of a delicate bell positioned over a carved wooden door.

Then all my whimsy vanishes, stopped short in the presence of shelves bearing the heavy weight of discourse from those formidable French feminists.

Going in, going out. Blogging 101 Day 2

Edit your blog’s title and tagline? Hold on! These could be metaphors (or would they be allegories?) for my life. And while I’m wide open to change and growth, there is core content that won’t change at this point on my journey. So my title and tagline now are what my title and tagline will remain, at least for the foreseeable future.

But on this chilly September evening, I’m reflecting on that tagline, mapping “. . .living, one word at a time” and thinking of a book I’ve just read. Twice. Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby has left me with many connections to explore, many possibilities to consider, many new ideas.

I look for meaning just about everywhere. Trying to locate meaning and sense in my life, in other’s, in the world—these are the essentials that call me to writing. I can roll with a great deal of chaos, but I look for terra firma amidst it all, even if all I can do sometimes is just precarious rock hopping. I aim for balance, but sometimes this propensity for reflection can be a source of discord between my partner and me.

My partner maintains that processing is hard work. She dislikes going inward and would much rather explore her external environment. Usually we can find a compromise somewhere toward the middle, but when we’re polarized it can be a problem. I have to admit that I was stunned to learn, decades ago, that there were some people, including her, who didn’t like to use self-examination or reflection as relationship tools.

Rebecca Solnit gives an artful explanation that brings these ways closer together. She says that, while self-reflection is necessary, “. . .so is the other route of getting out of yourself, into the larger world, into the openness in which you need not clutch your story and your troubles. . .Being able to travel both ways matters. . . [italics mine].”

So there it is. The compromise. Disengaging from an attachment to meaning that may no longer serve. And here I am, on a chilly September evening, still learning, always learning, about mapping my life, one word at a time.

May we always live stories, and tell stories, that serve.

Hello Blogging 101 Comrades

A Blogging 101 drop-out from earlier this year, I’m drawn to trying it again. I’m struck by the passion and wisdom, the intelligence, from the blogs and bloggers that I’ve gotten familiar with. I’m curious  how my own life might be reflected—back to me, out to others—through this different (to me) style of sharing words and of listening to and hearing them. Receiving them.

I’m committed to writing. Even with its difficulties, writing often feels easier than conversation. In The Faraway Nearby, Rebecca Solnit speaks of “. . .telling truths so lengthy and nuanced that they are almost impossible. . .” to speak out loud.  Communicating the nuances of what I’m trying to say often challenges me. The written word frees me from some odd, self-designed hook that expects meaningful dialogue only aurally. It’s the written word that dances in dialogue and life. Don’t get me wrong. Conversation and connection is important to me in any form. It’s just that. . .well, writing is different.

I love the written word. And I love dialogue. I guess that’s why I’m back to Blogging 101. I’m hoping to connect with others who are blogging their ideas and opinions, particularly in the contexts of creative writing, nursing, and generally being your own cartographer in this 21st century world.