Category Archives: totally unabashed mushfest

The Future Is Disappointing

I think this mid-life crisis business might be real. One doesn’t want to drape one’s destiny  around a looming, arbitrary number (forty, coming up in July), but as the date that wasn’t supposed to mean anything draws nearer, the funnel of possibility that was once so wide it was impossible to avoid it is getting narrower by the minute.

I keep reminding myself that the way I live my life, my way of being, means much more than the sum of my accomplishments, but I still have this nagging feeling that there are certain things I must do (write, draw, make music). At the same time I know in my very bones that I’ll never do them – not the way I want to – and that makes me profoundly sad.

I think often about the way our lives affect those of others in ways we’ll never know and could not have imagined, and sometimes that thought is enough to half-convince me it will be okay if I never publish a book or sell another piece of artwork, or live abroad, or learn to sing alto, or read Ulysses, or appear on the Daily Show as a special guest.

There’s another part to my mid-life crisis I like to keep close to my vest. I’m not sure when it started happening, but I fear I’m becoming somewhat of a recluse. It’s not that I don’t like people or want to have friends; more that I prefer solitude and the quiet introspection of daily, repetitive tasks to the trauma of picking up a telephone, making plans, sustaining conversation, putting on a pair of socks.

I don’t think it’s good for me, but the warm cocoon of my domestic dominion has some kind of built-in force field that makes it very difficult to step out.

As I write this, my husband is in the next room over, building a robot. He has decided that fishing is too emotionally draining and taken up robotics as a hobby instead.

“The future, as I see it, has been very disappointing,” he said. “By now we should be commuting to work in hovercrafts and having robots complete our daily tasks.”

“I think I’m having a mid-life crisis” I told him.

“Why do you think I’m building this robot?” he said.

Here is something I’ve discovered: life gets smaller the longer you live it, not the other way around.

I’m not depressed, in case you were wondering. And I know that if could just find a good cause to throw myself into, all of these imaginary problems would be roundly solved. Because isn’t that the ticket? Doing things for others instead of the solipsistic navel gazing I’ve been engaging in, instead?


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It’s the End of RimaRama As We Know It

It’s difficult to write a blog post after you’ve been truant for going on two months. I don’t have a particularly good reason for my absence, only that life got busy and I became preoccupied with other pursuits. I started this blog five years ago when I was home alone with two very small children most of the day. It was a way to exercise one of my favorite muscles (the writing muscle) and to document the life of my young family with all of its joys, humor and frustrations.

You know where this is going, right?

My children are older, sentient beings now, and it doesn’t feel right to write about them with wild abandon like I used to. (And that leaves me with only the P-Dawg for potential writing fodder.) Meanwhile, my interests and those things that I always thought defined me have changed. For as long as I can remember, I thought the only thing I was ever good at, that I ever really wanted to do, was to write. This blog – and all of your kind words of encouragement – gave me self-confidence in that regard. Showing up here every week opened doors for me and eventually led me to do something I never thought I had it in me to do: to write a book.

I wrote a humorous, RimaRama style memoir (that’s “mem-wah”) about my experience growing up American, but mired deeply in the culture of my immigrant family. I wrote it with the intention of kindofsortofmaybe trying to get it published, as all good bloggers-turned-memoirists do. I wrote and edited and re-wrote and re-edited for upwards of a year. I asked a few trusted people to read it and give me feedback, and when I felt that I couldn’t make my book any better, I started querying literary agents, hoping with my entire heart and fearing with my entire soul that someone would ask to have a look.

And someone did. A few agents asked for the first few chapters, and then for the entire manuscript. For several weeks I waited with bated breath, cautiously optimistic that someone might bite. As the weeks turned to months, I re-negotiated my feelings on the whole endeavor and thought that even if no one offered me representation, I’d at least get constructive feedback on the manuscript.

That was back in September. I haven’t heard back from any of the agents who have my full, from which I’ve drawn the natural conclusion that my book was such a disappointment to those few brave souls who agreed to have a look, that they are too disgusted even to respond with a friendly “no thanks.”

But Dear Readers, I am not bitter. Really, I’m not. See, the cheesy beauty of it all (a realization at which I’ll admit it took me awhile to arrive) is that writing that book was worth it because through it, I wrote myself. It seems simplistic to say that writing the story of one’s life illuminates and solidifies one’s true self, but there it is. And here’s the other thing: maybe not every Tom, Dick and Harry or book club in America needs to read it.

While clinging to the dream of life as a published writer like a cat in an inspirational poster, I discovered that I really like art. Not just looking at it, but making it myself. And the urgent need I used to feel to sit in front of a computer daily and bleed words was replaced, bit by bit, with an all-consuming desire to create visual beauty rather than written truth.

That’s where I am now. Forgive me for being so long-winded about it all, but what I want to tell you, since many of you have been reading my words for several years now, it not that I want to stop writing altogether, but that I want to allow myself the freedom to write differently, and about different things. I’d like to turn this space into a place to document my creative projects and pursuits. And I’d like the freedom of a blog where sometimes, I just “call it in.

That’s not to say I won’t post the occasional story or anecdote, but I’d also like, on occasion, to simply upload a photograph or two and be done with it. It won’t be the RimaRama you’re used to. (But it probably won’t totally suck.)

Still, I feel that I owe you, my faithful readers, a warning that I’m about to change direction.

I’m going to follow my bliss, and I’d love it if you stayed, but I’ll understand if you go.

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What This Tree Lacks in Balls, it Makes up for in Character

This year I decided to have a grown-up, matchy-matchy Christmas tree. No multi-color baubles or foam and popsicle stick reindeer for me! I bought a basketful of overpriced monochrome ornaments and pre-approved every one that the kids hung up. When Jonas and V-meister were done, there were ornament clusters hanging like overripe bananas from the tip of every bough and only the lower three tiers were covered. After they’d gone to bed, OCD fairy swooped in and re-arranged the low hanging fruit and voila! – I had my perfect tree. Not quite catalog worthy, but still very nice.

Even so, I couldn’t forsake the mismatched “heritage” ornaments sitting in shoe boxes on the kitchen counter with their thirty plus years of memories safely shut inside. The faded and tattered trinkets that, en masse, contribute to the double-edged joy and melancholy of Christmas. As much as I love taking each one out and examining it in turn, the process is bittersweet, reminding me of fleeting childhoods and loved ones long gone.

There are the faceless ceramic newlyweds my mother-in-law gave the P-Dawg and me for our first Christmas together:

The disfigured drummer boy my husband painted as a child:

"One time, at band camp . . ."

My school picture, circa 1980:

All I Want for Christmas is a Professional Haircut and Normal Front Teeth

The photo of my grandmother with two-year-old Jonas:

I Miss Her Very Much

The bird that always hung on my paternal grandmother’s tree. We used to call her “Other Grandmother,” or “Kita Mo?ut?” because “Mo?ut?” was already taken. Can you imagine? It never occured to us to call her, “Mo?ut? Marija,” which would have been beautiful, and her actual name.  I never used to like the bird, but now it speaks to me:

"Oh, hi there . . . Other Rima"

The V-Meister’s paper doll chains:

The retro skating Santa from my grandparents’ old house:

The book ornament that was my favorite as a child, with real stories inside:

And the pine cones decorated by Jonas and V-meister’s little hands:

We hung them all, and then some, on a miniature tree in the sunroom. Our own little Nostalgia Zone.

And the children rejoiced. As far as they’re concerned, this one is the REAL Christmas tree.

They just might be right.

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“And you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

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