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Friday, August 19, 2011

Invisibility/Cook With What You've Got

To blog or not to blog - that is the question.  This morning I all but decided to shut this site down.   I was disgusted with my pissy post of yeterday.   I felt, too, that I wasn't do a good job walking a careful line about disclosing personal things. This blogging thing is tricky.  If I don't share myself, then I don't think it will be compelling - it will just be a preachy, pompous self help site.   I will come off as a know-it-all who supposedly has all the answers versus what I really am, a person in an existential crisis who is questioning everything and who is willing to share her joys and sorrows with you, in the hope that it may be useful to your own path.  But what belongs in a private journal and what's OK to share on a blog?  

It was so timely, then, to receive this message from my friend Norma on an e-mail this morning. She writes, "I have to tell you that I am loving your blog!!  It's like therapy, but without the high price tag:)  I see myself in every single post...now I have to read them over and over until I start doing something about those issues!...keep blogging you are doing a great service to (I'm guessing) a lot of people - me, for one!"   So thanks to Norma, I won't throw in the towel here - I will just work at this until I hit a stride where the blog is comfortable for "both" of us - it's the right length, not too erudite, personal but not too, strives for a universal message, is entertaining, makes us think.   And please don't be shy about posting....it's hard to put yourself "out there" and receive little feedback.   I'd like this to be a two way street.

I'm going through a really tough spell right now....my bravery is faltering.   This morning at the beach, I didn't socialize with the other dog parents but sat by myself on the sand and looked out to "sea".   I sobbed behind my sunglasses - it seems I still have a lot more tears to shed.  The waves were rolling and gentle this morning, predictably rolling in and breaking, one after the other after the other - comforting.  And yet the tears kept coming and coming. Joey was worried.  His normal mode at the beach is to jump for joy (all four legs leave the ground) and race up and down the shore, darting this way and that, nipping, being nipped, body slamming other dogs and an occasional unlucky owner, leaping through the surf and then doing it all over again.   Today, he eschewed all of this and sat quietly next to me...as if to say, "if my presence can give you any comfort, I offer it".   He is just a dog and a puppy at that....where did this wisdom and devotion come from?  I don't know, but I am so grateful for it....grateful for him.

I was wise to get him.  He needed saving, but so did I.   These days I'm feeling more and more invisible, like an old photograph that's losing color.  My rock star consulting gig is over and my phone doesn't ring because clients got used to my unavailability while I worked that frenetic project.  My life is being downsized which is a good and necessary thing, but there is also sadness to be contracting rather than expanding.  My relationship with my children is troubling.  Wednesday I had lunch with my two eldest daughters and their grandmother (Steve's stepmother).  They chatted animatedly between themselves, catching up on each others' news and not once did they ask me anything about my life.  When I interjected, they shut me down - as if the interests of a 55 year old woman were un-newsworthy as seen through their the-world-is-my-oyster-because-I'm-young eyes. They marginalized me.  And of course there is the loss of Patrick which is unspeakably difficult.  He is in the process of trading me in for someone younger who will bear him children.

So I got thinking about the turn my mind had taken in the past few days and my pissed off post of yesterday.   I'm disappointed with a lot of people these days and from disappointment comes anger, hurt, resentment and hopelessness.   These are the ingredients I'm working with.   Liza says I should go on one of those cooking shows where amateur cooks are given some strange ingredients and they have to concoct something beautiful and delicious.   She says with my cooking skill I would be a sure winner of the $250K prize.  The idea of making something delectable from strange ingredient combinations like a turnip, caramel, french fried onion rings, and rhubarb is intriguing - working with what you've got.   Much easier, yes, if it were truffles, eggs, shallots and quince?

By the time you are my age, your life is full of "strange ingredients" - layers of history with loved ones, losses that have left poorly healed scars, sad compromises, imperfect relationships, bodies that are moth eaten, but good stuff too...wisdom, humility, acceptance, pride in accomplishments, good memories.   It's a mish mosh and mostly nothing is new and fresh - mostly everything has a story, history, bruises - shabby chic.

The challenge today is to look realistically at the ingredients of your life and figure out how you can make something delectable out of what you have.   You don't get to trade in your day old vegetables and bread for fresh and unsullied ingredients!   You don't get to drive to Texas, assume a pseudonym and work in a diner and have a new beginning (something I threatened a few posts back).  You don't get to trash your troubled relationships and start fresh with new children and friends who might like you better and who won't marginalize you. The challenge is, you have to make do with what you have and incorporate these ingredients into something worth living for.  You can shop for supplemental ingredients (like a puppy) that will hopefully provide some cohesiveness and help bind the mish mosh together, but you can't throw your basic ingredients away.

I realize now I can't make anything beautiful and delicious out of anger, hurt, resentment and hopelessness.  I can, though, make something worthy out of love, hope, forgiveness, acceptance and hard work - and the people who currently inhabit my life.  I can make something spectacular like the croquembouche (a tower of cream puffs) I made for Christmas one year that enchanted my family (see the picture).


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