Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Babies and rhubarb

I have been feeling odd lately. I think I may be disconcertingly, unexpectedly, happy.

In a different life, when my self was firmly anchored to a PhD, ambition and plenty of booze at the Regatta Hotel (for the locals: pre-bistro - I'm that old), I would turn up Indigo Girls' Closer to Fine* and sing and dance in the candlelight, in a melancholy and joyous release:

And I went to see the doctor of philosophy
With a poster of Rasputin and a beard down to his knee
He never did marry or see a b-grade movie
He graded my performance, he said he could see through me
I spent four years prostrate to the higher mind
Got my paper and I was free

I listen to this still, peeling the potatoes as Al and the kids watch Harry and his bucket of dinosaurs down the hall. It's taken me longer than four years but I think I am learning to acknowledge what makes me happy and to embrace these things without apology or interest in the opinions of others - this is quite an achievement in a world of shoulds.


I started this blog to find some space for myself: some time, a community, and mostly - although I didn't know it at the start - some space in my head to figure out who and what I am. Having babies takes us apart and it's hard to put ourselves back together, especially when there are bits missing and things that no longer fit; the instruction manual is out of date and the tools we have aren't always up to the job. Blogging has helped, immensely, in figuring out who I am and how I want to live my life. Blogging and time: writing out my self has wound through 211 posts, two blackberry seasons, the growth of my kids from babies to girls, and now a second windy spring of pink bluster.

A few months ago an erstwhile friend commented that my blog was all 'babies and rhubarb', and it wasn't really his kind of thing. I shrugged at the time but I keep circling back to that flip and mean definition of my hard won self. It's simplistic, of course - there's some feminism and a few veggies in the mix - but he wasn't far wrong: I've appropriated the phrase as a distillation, not a reduction. I don't have a ten word answer to the question of 'who am I?' but I know my self when I see it, and I quite like that self, too. And babies and rhubarb have a big part in this self in its ebbs and the flows; that's to the good: what's the world without love and dessert?

So blogging has been a process of construction, of making sense, of sorting through. It's been liberating, which is a big claim for a string of short paragraphs and some photos, but a true claim nonetheless. But now, I think, it is time for a break.

There are words in my life, drifting about in conversation, plopping on the page as I write for work, but the words for my blog are coiled inside, somewhere between my heart and my belly; they aren't attaching themselves to ideas and floating up onto the screen. I'm off for a little while to tend the babies and rhubarb until the thoughts and words are once again in sync.

* I was going to be embarrassed by this but hell, my music tastes get far daggier than this. And anyway, wasn't this the soundtrack to the lives of millions of searching women in their twenties, if only they'd admit it now?