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Monday, February 17, 2020

Newlyweds

Angie and I have been married about nine months.  We've both been previously married, so although I guess we're still technically newlyweds, we've also both had some marriage experience.

We just celebrated Valentine's Day, adapted it to our new blended family of dogs and cats and children, pregnancies and autism.  And in advance I think we agreed not to buy gifts, just go out to dinner and spend time together.  And this was a LITTLE different...a bit of a babymoon (yeah, I'd never heard of it either), a bit of a celebration of a year since I'd proposed, a hint of Valentine's Day...so I got her a little something.  Very little.

No big deal, but she and I had looked at these illustrations by this artist she followed on instagram, Yaoyao Ma Van As, and they were really cute.  It was mostly this woman and her dog doing different things.  She has a neat style though, and so we looked through the instagram feed and she told me which ones she liked and I told her which ones I preferred.

Here's the illustrator and her work, for reference:
https://www.inprnt.com/gallery/yaoyaomva/


I'm getting forgetful.  These days if I don't strike while the iron's hot, or put a reminder in my phone, I'm forgetting.  So I bought a couple prints from the website and a couple frames from Amazon, and when they arrived I hid them in my special hiding place that I cannot reveal here lest it no longer be special.  Or hidden.  It wasn't a big expediture, just something I thought she'd like.

I'm a pretty good husband, I think.  Mostly.  There are times, however, that I nitpick.  And I recognize (after the fact mostly but sometimes as it's happening) that I'm doing it, but in the moment I'm helpless to stop myself.  I try to learn from it, try to recognize how petty it is, and stop doing it before the NEXT conversation, but sometimes it just bubbles up anyway.

Some past examples:  Paper towel roll tears off the wrong direction on the vertical rod, vegetable peeler belongs in a different drawer, toilet lid shut sounds like it's slamming, and many many more.  I'm not saying I'm constantly peppering her with these things.  I'm honestly not.  But I see old married couples do this all the time, and as a bystander it annoys me, so I KNOW I need to chill the fuck out about it.  Also, for the most part I think I'm pretty good about recognizing it and apologizing for making a big deal out of nothing and trying to do better.

And on Angie's side, she typically hears my ridiculous "complaint" and does whatever unimportant thing I took issue with "my" way because she really doesn't give a shit, and one way is just as good as another so what's the harm?  And honestly thank god for her and for that, because it would be super easy for her to be pissed about it and then we'd be arguing about the least important shit and I'd have to apologize.  And I'd hate to let our streak of *checks notes* two years and five months without an argument go to waste.  From her perspective, she's been living alone long enough that she isn't concerned with things like "making too much noise closing a toilet lid".  So she says she recognizes not every habit adapts perfectly to living with three other humans, her dog and a cat.

So we've lived together for 11 months, and I'm getting used to her habits and she's getting used to mine.  And if you're worried that perhaps Angie is getting steamrolled in this relationship, bullied into doing things the Jim Walter way, please don't.  Angie holds her own just fine. 

I got her two inexpensive prints for Valentine's Day and we had dinner together and spend the night downtown and explored Lawrenceville the next day and it was so much fun.  And Angie wasn't caught flat-footed by my gifts despite my springing them on her at the last minute.  Not to be outdone, I had my own gift to unwrap on Valentine's Day.

A soft close toilet seat.


Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Bloggers Gonna Blog

As part of my 'return to reading' I just finished my wife's favorite book, "I Know This Much is True".  It was good.  It's not the kind of book I'd ordinarily read because a lot of it is sad and I honestly just feel like I can do without all the sadness in my 'entertainments'.  It's a drama.  But it was really thoughtful, and well written, and researched, and it made me think, which is key.

I had just finished IKTMIT and moved on to, "Manhood for Amateurs", which Angie's sister and brother-in-law (I think it was them, Angie?  Wasn't it?) gave me for Christmas.  It's by one of my favorite authors, Michael Chabon.  It's a series of essays, which is ALSO not something I typically read (Honestly, it's basically a book of blogs if we're being honest.  And I'm not sure you could go TOO wrong reading a blog written by Michael Chabon.  ANYWAY...), but straight out of the gate, his essay on - what?  Art?  Taking chances? - struck a chord.  It was called "Loser's Club". 

In the context of a story from his childhood where he attempted to create a comicbook fanclub (and failed), he writes about the process of creating art, and it resonated with me.  He said, "Every work of art is one half of a secret handshake...an act of hopeless optimism in the service of bottomless longing."  "Art, like fandom, asserts the possibility of fellowship in a world built entirely from materials of solitude."  He talks a bit about this failed fan club as a model for every book he writes.  "My story and my stories are all, in one way or another, the same, tales of solitude and the grand pursuit of connection, of success and the inevitability of defeat."

And boy, does that seem like blogging.  At least for me.  Whether I'm reaching out to fellow autism parents, writers, friends, family, or my kids...or maybe I'm reaching for memories or trying to capture a feeling for myself...blogging is looking for connection the way he describes making art as the pursuit of connection.  And with blogging, perhaps a much more direct and tangible result like interaction with like-minded people, and social media conversation.

And all this 'inevitability of defeat' stuff is a bit of a downer, except, EXCEPT, this is the Pulitzer Prize winner.  And it's kind of nice to know that even when you've written...however many novels he's written, and even when you've won...whatever awards he's won...you still question yourself and worry about failure.  And maybe for someone like me (or others who might read this) you shouldn't worry so much about the failure, because EVERYONE worries about failure, and instead just reach out for that secret handshake and search for a fellowship of readers in the solitude of writing.  I think that's what all bloggers do, or are doing...looking for people 'in their shoes' to read their words, acknowledge their own similar/same experiences, and take what was a work of solitude and turn it into a shared experience.

I hope that made sense. 

Meanwhile...or...actually "later":  I was 'reading' "Sharp Ends", which is a series of short stories (another nuther thing I usually don't read) by Joe Abercrombie.  I put reading in quotes because it's an audiobook.  I love Abercrombie's books.  At the end of Sharp Ends there's a ten minute interview with the narrator and Abercrombie, and they discuss "muse".  Abercrombie is asked how he approaches writing.  Does he wait for the muse to strike, or sit and write from 10 - 2, or other?  And Abercrombie said something that I thought was smart.  He said if he waited for the muse he'd never write.  He said that real writing, is writing in SPITE of your muse (or lack thereof), the hardwork of writing something even though you don't really feel inspired to do so. 

I think I've always known that, but again, it's nice to hear an established author talk about not really being particularly inspired, but writing through it anyway, because...it's what he does for a living.  He went on to say that he sometimes IS inspired and sometimes DOES get a great idea he wants to commit to the page, but that his writing is not and can not be dependent upon that.  It's too inconstant. 

That, to a certain extent, is advice I need to apply directly to myself.  I mean, I don't ever really want to feel like writing is a slog, or writing isn't enjoyable.  But maybe abandoning writing entirely because you're at a particularly uninspired place and waiting for ideas to come to you is the wrong approach.  And maybe getting into the habit of writing...on good days, on bad days, so that overall you've enjoyed the process even if a few times you felt like what you produced was complete dogshit, is the right way to do it, if you want to DO it. 

I often pay lip service to the idea that I want to write, but also struggle from time to time making the effort to do so.

Anyway.  I've wanted to write.  And to read.  And so this is some stuff that I read and it made me want to write about it.  Win-win!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Hello

Two posts in 2019.  Yikes.

I always used to say that when my online friends went AWOL it was usually one of two reasons...
Things were going really well, or things were going really badly. 

I don't know if there's a way to track time spent on social media, but sometime over the course of 2016 - present, I started dreading social media in general and facebook in particular.  The vast majority of the dread stemmed from constant divisive political discourse.  I decided twitter was easier for my psyche, but I still post sporadically on Facebook. 

Often I have almost this posting paralysis.  I think...I should post this, and then my brain starts analyzing it and I end up not posting.  Lots of stuff going on in my head, some of which I really need to work out...guilt-type stuff, but mostly just not as engaged on social media as I once was.

And...things are going really well (see above).  So *pats self on back* I was right all along!

2019 had a proposal, a wedding, a honeymoon, a pregnancy (this is a developing story), college visits, nursery planning, and much much more.  But I suppose I could have taken the time to write at least SOME of it. 

And the more I don't write the more I feel weird writing again.  Like I somehow have to make up for all the stuff I didn't cover.  Like the longer I don't write the more stuff builds up that I NEED to write about, and the more pressure I feel to either write it all...or write none of it.  And so I write none of it.

I was telling Angie a week or so ago that I want to write again. 

There are a lot of things I want to do.  There always have been.  And nobody ever has all the time they need to do all the things they want to do.  But recently I started reading books again.  I've never stopped..."consuming" them.  I listen to audio books every day on my commute, or during walks.  But I just started picking up paper books and reading those around the time we flew to Athens in June/July on our honeymoon.  It felt good.  It felt nostalgic.  And it felt...productive(?) to choose a book over apps on my phone. 

I want to draw again too.  I've been watching TikToks (speaking of unproductive phone apps) of artists drawing/painting/carving...and it's so satisfying to WATCH, and I really enjoy doing it...who knows, maybe that's next. 

Creative stuff in general, I guess.  That's what I've been missing in general.  I think somewhere in these 'pages' I once wrote about things that make me happy...I think one of those things was 'creating'...writing/drawing/etc.  I have to go find that now. 

But I digress.  I won't say I'M BACK!  But it's likely I'll try to make more time to write.

I have stuff that needs saying...heavy stuff, sad stuff, happy stuff, silly stuff.  The usual.

Plus also, I'll be the father of a baby boy sometime in the late March timeframe, so I basically will have a whole shitload of new material about raising a baby at 50, etc.  So...enjoy THAT shitshow.