Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I'm starting month two of "Operation WTF is Carrie?" I'd heard a lot about this whole memoir writing process, and I thought I was well-prepared. I'd already been writing about my life, more or less, for over 2 years, how hard could it be? Afterall, it's MY life, I'm familiar with it, there are no surprises to ME, certainly! I LIVED the damn life, certainly writing about it would be little more than clerical work, right? Just taking down the information and putting it on paper? Well, you know what they say, when you want to make God laugh, tell Her your plans!

I planned to "escape" to Sisters for a couple weeks, no big deal. I'd go to the house my mom had bought 18 years ago. The only house she'd ever bought all on her own, without a man. The house she'd lived in longer than any other house in her life. The house where I'd brought my babies and nursed them in the dusty blue wing-backed chair. The house with windows revealing nature from every angle. The house so quiet the buzz of the refrigerator is annoying. The house my husband had been threatening to sell as long as we'd taken over ownership. The home with all the "seconds" housed in it. Our rejected furniture, bedding, appliances, dishes and towels. The house where even reaching for a coffee mug evokes powerful emotions.

This one right here? Little Lucy as a 1-year-old making a silly face and hair so fair and whispy it couldn't be contained in any sort of "way."

How about this one? The Marimekko mug that I had to have in college. The one that matched the sheets I had to have on my bed on that cold, cold sleeping porch in the sorority.

What about that one over there? The white mug with the royal blue ring around the lip? The one where my brother threw something, a pen I think, at me playfully, and it landed right on the spot where I like to put my mouth, right there where if you hold the mug in your right hand and pull towards you, fits right between your lips. The object managed to chip a bite-sized piece off the mug. I put Super Glue on it and saved the mug, but the fit is not the same now. There is friction where once there was only smoothness. The mug is "wrong" now, but I can't part with it. I love that damn mug.

And how about the extra large one a friend gave me because she knew I loved big mugs. She used to know a lot of other things about me, too, but she doesn't know me like that now. I don't know "what" happened. I know "who" happened that got in the middle of our friendship and made it one we could never put back together again in just the same way. I still love her, just like that damn mug, but there is friction between us now, where once there was only smoothness. The friendship doesn't fit anymore. It is "wrong." We grew apart and putting our two pieces together now just reveals the cracks that must have always been there, but we weren't able to see at the time we were "whole."

Each mug takes me down memory lane, and that lane is full of obstacles and unseen dips and turns. The further I get into my memoir, the more I see what still lies ahead. I am a super organized person. Hyper-organized, one might say, if one were my mother or husband, for instance. Yet, this body of work has no organization. It is organic. Each piece is pulled and spilled on the page in the order it sees fit. I am not in any sort of control.

The "plan" to write each day for "X" amount of time in a linear, sequential, chronological order has been blown all to hell. Bad plan, it would seem. "Bad," being relative. "Different" plan would be more appropriate. "Better" plan? Maybe. Probably. Who knows. Who cares. "Different" is one thing I know I can deal with, after coming to terms with the learning differences both my children have. "Different" is not "wrong," it's different, that's all. Not the same. Unique. Special. Original.

I'm here at the kitchen table again this morning. Every morning here I am, in my pajamas, today the ones given to me by a dear friend. I feel that friend as though she were right across the table from me, typing on her own computer. And some mornings she actually is, but not this morning. Today it is just me, earphones on my ears, Indigo Girls playing around and around inducing a meditative state with their words. Hair poking up and I don't care. No one will see me today, not unless I decide they get to. I am calling my own shots today. I have the whole day to do just as I please, when and where I please. There are no boundaries imposed by others, just me. I have effectively removed all the human boundaries, now all that binds is me, myelf and I. How tightly those chains to the past and fears of the future clutch me. How relentless their voices and influences. "No matter where you go, there you are," reads a bumper sticker I say recently. I have "left," but I'm not "gone."

As I come to the point in my memoir where Stan and I broke up and didn't speak for 6 months, prior to our engagement, I can't help but wonder if this time here, apart, will last that long, too? What will "we" look like after that amount of time? I hardly recognize myself now, after only one month of being Carrie again. Not Wife Carrie. Not Mother Carrie. Not Daughter Carrie. "Just" Carrie.

14 comments:

Bossy Boots said...

Welcome home to yourself, Love!

Terry Whitaker said...

whoa--a month alone? Pure heaven--and maybe just a little bit of hell.

Michelle O'Neil said...

Keep on keep on keep on keep on keep on..........................................................................................................................................

Lee Wolfe Blum said...

Wasn't it Jennifer that was quoting someone else when she said, "We don't live on things but the meaning of things?" oh sooooo true!

I like this post and I really love the part about the mugs...not too much detail but enough to bring us into each scene. This is a cool post that would be a great article for a writing magazine if the end is fleshed out a little more.

thanks for sharing!

I am excited to see how it all changes you too!

kario said...

Inhale...
Exhale...
(That's me, loosening up my own tension after just trying to imagine what you're feeling right now).
You are a brave, brave woman. This I know. You also have a powerful story to tell and a compelling voice in which to tell it. I hope you can let go and trust yourself to do right by it.

Love you.

Kim said...

What awe-inspiring, life-changing, earth-shattering work you are doing, brave Carrie! The more "Just Carrie" you discover, the better it is for everyone, b/c "Just Carrie" is just one incredible woman.

I also loved the mug stories. And the metaphors--now friction where once there was only smoothness--are perfection.

And I'm sure the quail think your hair looks fabulous!

Bossy Boots said...

Okay, my previous comment was B.S., quick read, not deep enough for the true appreciation of your glorious and depth filled writing (HIDCHENB?).

I'd heard a lot about this whole memoir writing process, and I thought I was well-prepared. I'd already been writing about my life, more or less, for over 2 years, how hard could it be? Afterall, it's MY life, I'm familiar with it, there are no surprises to ME, certainly! I LIVED the damn life, certainly writing about it would be little more than clerical work, right? FUNNY!

I hardly recognize myself now, after only one month of being Carrie again. Not Wife Carrie. Not Mother Carrie. Not Daughter Carrie. "Just" Carrie. POIGNANT!

Wonderful detailing in the mugs, one suggestion, carry the reader to the gift of jammies...the kind of freinds and gifts you get now don't contain liquids...new memories, new intentions, new stories....just sayin!

Nancy said...

I think this is my most favorite post! Searching and finding. From mugs to friends and in the end..."different" keeps happening. Thank God for different!

riversgrace said...

All the labels and strategic ways of living, all the necessary compensations, all the adaptation - it's all falling away and revealing the beauty of the true self.

Through the lovely details you lead us to your real home - you.

Beautiful, Carrie.

Sarah said...

I just came across your blog. I love your straightforward, honest writing style. Very much looking forward to reading the memoir. Good luck!

holly said...

Fourth read. Love the mugs as a window for us to see across your years.

You had a mug to match your sheets in college? My sheets didn't even match my sheets! Half the time they still don't.

Love the way you are getting back to you - it's an amazing place to find. The other day you asked me what i'd firgured out - here's the answer:

In the past year i've discovered long lost pieces and pieces never known. the work, the challange, the task is to determine whether i can carry all those pieces intact - remain whole - as a piece of that larger puzzle!

love this writing. love you. love.

Deb said...

I also loved the mugs as a window into your life and the idea of fit. I am so inspired by your courage and honesty and grit.

Suzy said...

yeh, what "Bossy Boots" said.

I was going to say the same exact thing.

And keep going, which is what TW said.

People always steal my lines...

grammer said...

I'm really drawn to the house in this one. House as feminine; house as mother; house as your own eyes, open to nature in every direction; house of memory; house of imperfections, home to seconds; the house you will not sell.

Here's a house where you get to root around and write and reflect and ultimately, be born again, sticky-uppy hair and all.

May all your mornings at the kitchen table be blessed! xo t