Posted by: Kate | July 1, 2009

Reality Check

Often, when I take all day to write my own contribution to my own carnival, it’s because I’m just busy. Or I forgot. Or I clicked on “save” instead of “publish.” Something unimpressive and vaguely embarrassing, anyway.

But this week, it’s not about time management or manual dexterity. This week, it’s about writer’s block.

The assigned topic is, “Did that really just happen?” And once upon a time, my life was full of moments that made me stop, look around, blink a few times, shake my head, and wonder if I just accidentally spoke the magic words that sent me into an alternate reality. My first trip to a nude beach, cut short by the plane crash and death of JFK, Jr.? My mother-in-law-to-be bought Willem first-class plane tickets for a planned spring break visit, while seating me in coach? My husband’s aunt attempts a smackdown in the middle of a memorial gathering for our grandfather?

I’ve had a trip or three on the That Was Really Weird roller coaster, and have learned to develop a healthy appreciation for the bizarre and unexpected.

But over the past few years, I’ve also developed a tolerance for it. I’m not sure whether my ability to be shocked and surprised has been sanded down by the sandpapery nonsense of life, or whether my range of expected possibilities has broadened, but I’ve generally stopped being quite as gobsmacked by outrageous nonsense. Even the memorial-service debacle had ceased to seem quite so uncouth and beyond-the-pale by the time the ferry had crossed the Sound, though I was able to draw out the random giggles when I recalled the intense staredown from ten yards that I received while the kids and I were packing to leave. The ever-lightening strain between my mother and I has worn off far more quickly than it could have, even just a few years ago – once upon a time, I’d have felt betrayed and rejected and horrified (and, no, I haven’t blogged details here; I posted elsewhere and purged and that’s good enough) for months or more. Now, I ache a little, but the sharp edge of shock has been dulled down by rationalizations and guesses.

What I think, now that I think about it, is that one is shocked more often when one’s life experiences and expectations hover somewhere close to a baseline. If you expect things to almost-always turn out well, or almost-always suck, or almost-always anything, then you’ll routinely be surprised because things just aren’t well-behaved and predictable.

Too, I’m always more surprised by things that I can’t understand, and as time goes on, I have either learned to understand more points of view, or accepted that some views are from points I just can’t or won’t achieve. Not that I’m wise and mature and crap like that, mind you; just that I’m more able to imagine other people’s perspectives, having survived through a few different perspectives of my own.

See what I mean? Writer’s block. And then, once unplugged, a page’s worth of babbling.

Ah, well. My reality might be a mundane one, or muddled, or whatever, but it’s mine and it’s a good one. Which, all by itself, would have been nearly unbelievable just a few months ago.

I live in a madhouse every day, but you can always join in on Wednesdays… check the list to see who’s joined in this week:



  1. Sorry sweetie, missed it this week. Bloody work is seriously cutting into my bloggy time!

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