Bird by Bird

I am getting up to dust myself off again as I sit down to write to you. Writing and stumbling. And then, eventually, falling out of reach of the keyboard. If only the grimace after the fall weren’t there. If the clenching in the stomach could release. I have been trying to find my way into more of a writer’s life for as long as I can remember. And I am not sure what that means or looks like. I just know that I am getting older, and there’s still so much to write. So much that wants to be said.

I write a lot about being 40-something and what that brings, means, entails, and so on. And the urgency of now, to take a line from a great man during Black History month, speaks a little louder than before. That’s all.

But more than that, this is the age when long-held insecurities seem settled into the clay. There’s no breaking out of certain feelings, it seems. Astonishingly, too, there is a girlishness that I can see now will likely never leave. She’s just there, that seven-year-old, sitting next to that sunset on some dock by a lake. Her grin is semi-toothless; her cheeks, a permanent flushed. She still turns her eyes to the floor to escape the enduring embarrassment of being a human. Fortunately, she has an affinity for laughter and silliness. I think she stays around to keep us sane.

If you’ve ever wanted to write, by the way, I suggest reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. She is a soulful poet with some straightforward, honest talk. Every time I open one of her books, it’s like sitting down by the fire next to a good friend, hot tea or burboun in hand (depending on the occasion.) Bird by Bird, in particular, has some sage advice on writing, and my own caged bird must have cried out for her words to reach me.

I have all this time right now, you see. After gearing up for months to teach a literature class, it was cancelled due to low enrollment, an ailment the college has lived with for at least a couple of years now. Thankfully, I have another new course to teach. It’s developmental reading, and it’s been just divine thus far. The textbook allows for lots of psychological exploration and teachings about health and wellness. I am in heaven.

However, I am a bit adrift with just the one class.

And in this drifting, I am finding such beautiful belongings in the water, almost like the trail of items found in a tsunami’s wake. After so much busyness, stress, and financial woes, I am able to grab on to a life raft and scan the aftermath of such a storm.

It’s good to be here, searching through the rubble. I plan to pick through valuables bird by bird and share with you the gems I find along the way.









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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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