Monday, June 01, 2009

A New Beginning

From the time I was four or five years old, I kept a diary chronicling my days. At first, I wrote about my adventures with other children in the neighborhood. As I grew up, I noted what was served for lunch in the school cafeteria, and then for an unforgivable number of years about which boy attracted my attention, and then about how big a nerd I was--how alienated that left me from my highschool-full of beautiful and rich classmates.

When I entered graduate school in history and began writing advanced research papers based on primary documents, I panicked. Yikes! For so many years I had imagined my diaries as letters to myself. Now I suddenly realized that I had an audience, whether I liked it or not: HISTORIANS OF THE FUTURE.

I stopped writing in my diary. I burned the many volumes in one giant bonfire.

But I struggled: how does one evaluate one's life, one's days, without writing about them?

Blogging allowed me to return--only by making that terrifying elusive (and evaluative) historian-of-the-future into real live readers who could comment--ideally with lovely stories, interesting thoughts, and kind support, but also with swinging fists when they felt necessary.

When I started this blog, it was a knitting blog. What pleasure it was to talk about my fibery obsessions and also to share my finished objects with others! Luckily, the wonder that is Ravelry has completely supplanted that need.

As time has gone by, I have worked through some fairly intense personal issues (including the illness of my father) in the pages of this blog. I don't know how to thank my readers for the depth of compassion I have received during these times. But it wasn't just my readers' comments on and off the blog; just the fact that I had this place to write to sometimes made a difference, too.

For the last months, I have been part of a magnificent project: the Green Phone Booth. Here a group of five fabulous "green sheros" have talked about green-caped superheroic efforts--and also our normal everyday efforts--to address the environmental issues that confront this world. I am inspired daily by this amazing group of women and the acts they do. But I feel awkward every week when I try to imagine what piece of information I can pass on that will enlighten anybody. It turns out I have very little instruction or advice to give. (Who would have thunk it?! Poe could have warned me that the didactic is almost always heresy and waste.)

So my blogging isn't about teaching whatever I think I might know.

Blogging, for me, needs to be all about navel gazing.

Do I believe my navel is really of such great importance to the universe? If not, might the universe at least be reflected in my navel? Dare I even wonder if anyone cares about what I think might be going on in my own personal belly-button?

When I get too far from the goal of analyzing my own umbilicus, I start panicking about what other people will think: if they will be disinterested in my writing, dulled by what I think are insights, disappointed in my efforts, sick of it all.

Honestly? I am trying really hard to tell myself that I don't care, that I won't worry whether you are all so bored to tears that you'd rather watch the weeds take over our backyard than read what I am writing (instead of weeding the backyard). Whatever fictive/real "audience" is out there must be better than any imaginary future-historians I could conjure to write for. (And you are, dear readers, you are! You can't imagine what I can imagine.)

Sometimes this blog takes time away from living. I am both a homeschooling mother and a writer of academic books. And I prefer both knitting and reading to blogging.

So I will tell you that I am not promising to write more than about one post a week or so.

And these posts will be random. They may be about knitting, about parenting, about homeschooling, about environmental issues, about the books I read and the music I hear and the plays I attend. They may be about politics or the collapse of civilization as we know it. You know Edgar Allan Poe will never be far from my wings. Shakespeare will appear occasionally. The history of race in America informs everything, as does my weird Jewish-Atheist personal crises which recur constantly. Beethoven, and disability politics, and Suzuki violin--they might stick their necks in. My fencing son will insist on getting a touch in occasionally. And yes--there will be food and gardening, too.

I very much needed this sabbatical. It has been wonderful. But, like the end of all great vacations, I am ready to come home. I hope to have all of you with me as I pull the suitcase out of the car and up the stairs, back to this site.

I hope you will all join me.

10 comments:

C Meir said...

I'm always here, waiting for the next tidbit from the Purloined letter. Some I will like, some I won't, but I'll still look forward to all of it because it comes from YOU, and that's enough for me.

Mikaiya said...

I was just checking your blog last week, wondering when your sabbatical would end and hoping you would come back quickly.

And here you are! I am so happy to read whatever is coming. Welcome back.

Woolysheep said...

Hey Raven! So good to hear from you again. Your new random format sounds great. Truth be told I much prefer hearing about what is happening in real life and the thoughts that go along with it. It lets us get to know the person blogging a little bit more.

Looking forward to your random and expansive subjects.

Kathleen said...

Wouldn't miss it, my dear. Blog when you like and about what you like - it is YOUR blog, after all. I'll be reading :)

The Tell-Tale Heart said...

Welcome home.

Lisa said...

glad to see you are back. I am always interested in your words.

sfsizzleknits said...

Hurray hurray! I enjoy your blog so very much, especially your adventures in gardening and eating local. You and your family are truly inspiring. Welcome back.

jennifer aka knitpick@mac.com said...

So glad your back. Now if I could just SEE you! And maybe you'll inspire me to get back to blogging. I always am interested in your posts, whatever they're about!

crafterscupboard said...

Welcome home! I'm always intrigued by what you have to say and have learned a great deal from you and am always glad for your point of view on things. Just keep in mind, it's your blog....do with it what you will. ;) Missed you.

Carrie K said...

I'm always here too, but not necessarily leaving a comment to let you know! The subjects your navel gazing contemplates is fascinating to me.

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