The other night, at family dinner with Pebbles and Bam-Bam — a feast consisting of leftover bratwurst and steamed broccoli — DH announced that he’d read my blog.
“Really?” I asked.
I’ve been writing since before I met my husband, 11+ years ago. He has been nothing but encouraging and supportive…as far as he’s concerned. And in part, I absolutely agree with him. He has bent over backwards to give me the space and the lifestyle to write. He paid the rent while I indulged in two years of MFA study in Manhattan. He puts up with my treacherous moods and fits of self-loathing. And he’s so appreciative of my instinct to explore.. from a distance. But he doesn’t read what I write. Not unprompted, anyway. Certainly not out of demonstrated personal desire to know what’s what among the squirrels in my brain.
I try not to take this personally. I mean, all a writer really wants is to be read, right? We want to amuse, entertain, shock, and [insert one of countless possible reader reactions here]. We’re all hoping to spin sentence after sentence that beguiles another human, to apply a literary hand on the back of a reader’s neck and do not look away from the page motherfucker.
Needless to say, I don’t think he likes my writing, the subject matter. Maybe it’s the cursing. Or he doesn’t know how to respond. Or my content and tone simply don’t resonate with him. In any case, several years back, about midway through writing my novel manuscript, I pretty much gave up. I know DH loves me. I know that he loves when I”m happy. And I believe he even loves the idea of being with a writer. But something about my writing does not… interest him. In, you know, the same way the Green Bay Packers official website interests him. Not by a country mile.
“Yep,” he confirmed, slicing into another bratwurst. “I read the blog today.”
I nodded. I coached myself not wait for praise, no matter how badly I desired it. “Well thanks,” I said, swallowing some limp broccoli. “That’s great. Thanks.”
“I think you’re barely out of first gear, ” he added, reaching over with his fork to coax another bite of ketchup-soaked sausage into Bam-Bam’s mouth.
“Pebbles,” I said, “You are not getting up until you finish that broccoli.” I fixed my hot gaze across the table at my sweet Kindergartener. What did you just say to me?
“I think you need to need to really do your thing,” he continued. “You know? Open it up. You’re… idling.”
I stopped. I dug deep into my mental files for some sage advice offered by our former marriage counselor. “Could you get me that bottle of red from the kitchen?” I asked.
“You sure you don’t want me to just hook you up to the bottle with an IV?” Now he was smiling tha smug-yet-uncomfortable-with-the-words-that-just-came-out-of-my-mouth midwestern smile of his.
“You want to go ahead and get. me. the. wine?” I repeated.
“Is something wrong,” he asked. “Do you not want me to comment on it?”
“The wine?” I asked. I know what he meant.
“The blog.” He handed me the wine. “You know what I meant.”
“Oh no,” I said. “Of course I want you to comment. Of course. I mean, You’re the only one who will comment honestly. Who… actually cares. I need your feedback.” Gears!? What do you know from first or fifth? You didn’t even finish my manuscript 5 years ago!
Then we got into it…. the medium of the blog, my purpose for this blog, my attempt to keep to a reasonably narrow scope. I argued that this is non-fiction, memoir-ish (“I think it’s been well established that the line between fact and fiction is quite blurry,” he countered.) I defended my desire not to seriously or permanently offend co-workers, family, and friends. (You publish anonymously!” he argued.)
And then I finally broke down and admitted how hard it is to be writing a blog at this stage in my life — in what I had imagined would be a much more illustrious literary career. Hell, at this stage I’d give my right arm for a fledging literary career. There are so very many things wrong with that expectation, especially given the choices I have made, but there you have it: the truth. ‘Atta girl! Instead, I focus my work days on ghost-writing content-free executive emails and/or creating complex powerpoint presentations. And I’m blogging at night after the kids go to sleep in order to do something. Because this is the way life goes. And this blog is my little attempt to start again, to pull a thread of an idea, to practice and play, and eventually, turn out a story of merit that is actually published. Or maybe two. Someday.
“Darlin,” he finally said, “I’m so sorry.” He put his hand on my left hand, fiddled with my rings.
“For what?” I shrugged, pouring another glass of wine. “For telling the truth?”
“For being hard on you,” he said. “I just want to help. I love you and I want to help. I don’t always know how to express it.”
“I know,” I said. “I know you do.”
“I’m a little bit like my father that way,” he said.
“And I’m a little bit like my mother with the histrionic reactions,” I smiled.
He poured himself another glass. Took my hand. “Hey. So. I don’t doubt you. I love your work and I react when it doesn’t seem true to who you are, you know? That’s all. I want you to realize that.”
I’ve been waiting to hear that for 10 years! Be it the look in his eyes or my second glass of wine, but I felt brave at that moment. I told him what I’d been waiting to tell him for a week. “I have some other news, actually. Which — as nice as this chat is turning out to be — may actually further delay my writing career.”
“Yeah?” He put his arm around me and the girls slid away from the table to play quietly with their dolls in the other room. “What’s up?”
“We’re going to have another baby,” I whispered.
When I finally looked up to see his reaction, DH looked like I just handed him the moon and the stars on a platter. He’s been wanting another child for some time and I have been reticent — with what seemed like good reason. But these things happen when they happen, depsite our best efforts at control.
“Guess we both need to downshift now, eh?” I smiled.
“We do…” He wrapped both arms around me and grinned. “We sure as hell do.”
Everything between the *** never happened and in no way represents the truth or actual conversation we had on the evening in question. (This means I am NOT pregnant, mom.) Just a little blog experiment, if you will, in blurring those fiction/non-fiction lines.
Idling in first gear, my ass.
Game ON, boyfriend.