Saturday, December 31, 2011

new year

It's been a strange year. Revelatory and trying. Restless and spiritual. I have more adjectives in me, but I am sitting upright, and they are lying down descriptives. Hold on. My stomach is settling. A low rumbling belch is working its way up.


Right, and that too.

I wrote an awful lot and had an awful lot of it rejected. Not the same stuff, but still, there is some kind of cosmic balance of shit rejected to shit written. So much so that I didn't rightly have one acceptance letter, though I did publish some art here and there, and wrote stuff east and west, and felt accepted.  And that felt good. I kept blogging. And painting, and parenting, and staying sober. When the equation for poetry didn't quite add up to proper algebra (one rejection too many over work output divided by too many other projects subtracting passion for it from the whole thing), I decided to publish my own book. That felt an awful lot like giving up. Hell, it was giving up, or surrender, or acceptance. Giving up wasn't the most terrible thing I have ever done. It feels an awful lot like peace. I wanted an end to my poetry years--years marked by toiling at submissions and manuscripts and competitions simply to tear up rejection letters. I wanted the poems to go through their last edit--the interaction between the reader and the poem.  So, I put them out there. And now I have a wee little book with some of my poetry in it. I hadn't examined it too much when I decided to self-publish them, but once the proof came in the mail, and I held it, and read it, and smelled it, I knew it was the right and proper thing I did. It felt an awful lot like closure.

My goal for writing about Lucy's death was never to heal. It was not to be over it. I think my only goal, if there was a goal, was to integrate Lucia into our family and into my life, and I have. This space gave me the time and space to explore and examine my grief. You loved me when I couldn't love myself. You helped me more than I can ever repay. It is part of the reason I have continued to write about grief here, because when my milk came in, and I found blogs and this community, people who were three years out from the death of their child, were writing about their grief with such clarity and insight, I felt like they were looking into my soul. They had the distance to remember, make beautiful words, help me make sense.

I have been thinking a lot about this blog and the rest of my thousand projects. How busy I feel all the time. How unzenlike my day is mostly running, writing, driving, shopping, cleaning, mopping, sweeping and worrying.

I have a book in me.

It is stuck in all the worrying and sweeping, mopping and cleaning, shopping and driving, writing and running. It is lodged in the tread of my tires, smeared across the driveway. I hide it underneath blogs, and mix it up with some paint, drag it across the canvas. I stare at my day, draw it out on paper as a flow chart with arrows and question marks and what can give here and what can't. It all works. I am happy. Yet it is clunky and complicated. It is kinetic and unbalanced. And though I am happy, I am not complete. There are parts of my day missing, like the stretching and lifting weights part. And the sitting still with my children and husband part. I have three blogs, for example, as though I am three people. I tried to integrate everything once, but it was too soon, and I worried about my readers, and what they would think if I crafted here, or talked about parenting. Except that I am no longer tending to different parts of my life in different ways. I am just Angie, the grieving, artsy, craftsy, writery stretchmark bellied sneech.

What I am trying to say is that my passion is writing. I always wanted to be a writer, from the earliest memories of wanting to be something. I would want to be a doctor, so that I could write about doctoring. I wanted to be an architect, so I could paint houses. I wanted to be a cowboy because cowboys spin yarns around a campfire. I just want to spin a yarn or two. I can't write a book, and do all the other stuff I do. I can't work out without giving something up, because I have every little minute accounted for in my day.

I am thinking of maintaining one space. This one. still life with circles. Here I would publish a few times a week, and I would publish crafts, art and things I publish on my still life everyday blog, as well as talk about mindful parenting, buddhism, religion, recovery and of course, grief. I am handing over still life 365 to another editor, since that space has gone dormant because of my inability to give it the proper attention it deserves. It will be something like a one year sabbatical. (Baby steps.) I thought about focusing all my energy there, turning it into a book, making it monthly, or quarterly or yearly, but I want to write, and it keeps me from writing the book in me. The one I have to scrape off the bottom of my Docs.

I am giving up my Kenna Twins shop on Etsy, even though I love painting. It doesn't feel right anymore to paint in that way. Rather once, perhaps twice a year, I will ask for names here and on Facebook. I will sit in tonglen and paint mizuko jizos in a large session, like I did last year for the Kindness Project. That felt right to me. (So, buy on Kenna Twins now, before I close shop forever.)

I need to find that physical part of me--the one that chops wood for hours, and has a physical, brutish, fleshy understanding of the world. The person who picks it up, smells it, throws it. I feel disconnected from my body. I want to integrate me into me again. I am hoping that shedding some of my projects, focusing on writing in one space and then writing the books scattered all over my life, will help focus me. Last year, I wanted to make peace with my body. I quit drinking. It is all I focused on--quitting drinking. Now, I am bringing my body back to life, reminding it who it was, igniting the cellular memory of sweating. And I am writing a book, dammit.

What are you doing for the new year? Not resolutions as such, but do you have goals? A word to sum it all up?


  1. You go, Angie. When that book is written, I will be front and center at the reading, proud to be your friend.

    2012- Hope. I just want to hope.

    Happy New Year, my love.

  2. Holding my breath until that point where you said you'd keep this space... yayayayay...which is pathetic. As if you can't stop or change your blogging when/if you need to!

    Of course you can. But I want you to know that your writing and your space deeply matter. It is starting to be less strange to me how attached we can get to people we don't "know."

    I think about what you said, how you *did* come to know After Iris Jess by her words, and when she visited - it didn't feel like a stranger.

    I don't think you'd feel like a stranger, either, if I ever met you.

    Love that book you published, title and all. I'm going to hunt that down.

    Thank you for being here, being Angie, "the grieving, artsy, craftsy, writery stretchmark bellied sneech." You lovely creature.

    And 2012, what will you be?

    Cathy in Missouri

  3. You are amazing. You grounded me and led me through some really really turbulent times in my first couple months after Camille died. I want you to take care of yourself. I think writing in one space seems so much easier. I don't think you have to edit who you are: parenting, creating, writing, grieving. I believe people take you as you are or stroll merrily on their way. It is way too much effort to negotiate other peoples feelings and grief etc... Tend to your heart, your family, your life and if you would allow us to be a part of that world so that we will find some guidance and light than I am beyond thankful. Beyond. You inspire me, you make me cry, your thoughts and feelings resonate with me. I am so grateful for you. I truly am. Take care of you. I will be here reading. Light and love to you.

  4. I think one space is a good idea.

    I am having trouble summing up this year. I just don't know.

  5. Love love love hearing about your ideas for integrating everything under still life with circles and all. I really did that recently, too. Closed the Etsy shop, closed the separate pages I had for permissions and other things -- I figured that I am who I am. And either people will want to know me or not -- so everything is under my blog and my personal FB page. Grief stuff, life stuff, art stuff, how to's, books, paintings, everything. :) It feels gooooooooooood!

    Will love to see how still life 365 evolves as you let others bring their vision and time to it in the next year, too.

    And of course love love love love love for the day of Tonglen and Jizos!!! Wonderful.

    I can't wait to see the books (plural) that come from you -- I know there is the next one, and maybe a few others after that, too! :)

    Just sending happy new years and love and supportive vibes!!! xoxoxoxoxooxox

  6. You are a good thing to focus on. Happy 2012. I can't wait to read your book, friend. Write on. (RIGHT ON!)


  7. Keep writing, Angie. Please, for us all, keep writing.
    If Dani is first inline for that book, then I'll be hot on her heels.


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