Oh, here’s my Sunday post on Monday. Or, was the post last on Tuesday my Sunday post, and I’m now early for next Sunday’s post?

Does it even matter?

I am all wonky and discombobulated, even though I’ve been back home for several weeks now and feel as if I should be back on track with everything.

I am not.

I am still grappling with what season it even is. (Kari made me feel better about this, though I saw her post late because: wonkiness.) Cane goes back to work this week. We tried to cram as much summer into last week as we could, but we couldn’t make it feel like high summer, much as we tried. Leaves are falling. Everything looks like late August (brown, dried up). We can’t hold off the mental shift toward school and the school year. We went to many of our favorite Portland places, but I ended up napping every single day, and then migraine hit me over the weekend.

I can’t get back into the rhythm of food. I have not gotten to eat enough of what I think of as summer food. (We couldn’t get the usual ingredients in our small Louisiana town and I could not cook in a construction zone.) I went to the store and bought far too much, but then we ate out far too much or I was too tired to make meals.

I don’t want it to be fall yet, but I also deeply dislike living in limbo, on the cusp of things. It’s not summer (not mental/emotional summer, anyway) and it’s not fall and I don’t want it to be fall.

I want to feel some kind of normal again. I want to be able to stay awake for an entire day. But last week Rebecca Solnit posted something on Facebook that I’ve been keeping it in mind as I’ve drifted off to sleep more than one afternoon recently:

“If you’re sick or injured and healing or growing a new life inside you or just worn out, please notice that that thing known as ‘doing nothing’ is when you’re doing the utterly crucial and precious work of growing and healing and restoring.”

(I recommend clicking through to read the whole thing.)

Maybe I’m growing a new life of some sort, or maybe I’m just worn out. There’s been a lot this year, most of which I haven’t written about here. In most of the stories, I am a supporting character, not the main character. I find the whole “it’s not my story to tell” tenet hard to wrap my mind around. Maybe I’m not the main character, but I’m still a character. I’m still in the story, and what I think and feel and do within the narrative is mine.

I’m wondering if this–being full of stories I don’t feel free to write freely about–is why I’ve been finding it hard to write here. A comment to my last post prompted me to write a personal response to the commenter, and in writing it I realized that I’d left out important things that might have allowed me to write a post that is more true. Maybe more worthwhile.

But I’m going to let the original post stand. I’m not going to change what I am and am not sharing in a public forum. I might have every right to give my story away, but that doesn’t mean I should.

Last week, I was watering our garden in an effort to stave off the effects of the high heat we’ve been living in. I was in a hurry. I was impatient. I was anxious. I yanked the hose, and I broke off two large branches of a shrub I’d once given up on. It had been all wonky, growing a few measly branches on one side, with the other side of the bush bare. I moved it to its current spot, almost daring it to live. If it died completely there, I figured it was no loss.

It’s not only lived there, but thrived, filling in beautifully. It’s a story that has given me some joy. And then, in one quick moment, I broke off two full branches, returning it to a state of bare lopsidedness.

I was so glad that it was me who did that, rather than Cane. Because it just made me sad. I was glad to be angry with myself, rather than him.

Cane suggested putting the branches in water. Maybe they will sprout roots and we can replant, he suggested, get a new plant out of it. I think that’s not likely, but I did it anyway.

This morning, as I sat here writing these words, the branches were right in front of my face and I noticed something that stopped me:

The branches are flowering. My broken branches. Sprouting tiny little flowers. Not the roots we hoped for, but flowers we didn’t even know to hope for.

Isn’t life often like that? There’s almost always a gift of some kind in discomfort. In wonkiness, in broken things. Maybe I’ll dream about those when I take my nap later today.


I am continuing my adventures in pie:

This one is whiskey-peach. It both looks and tastes better than the last one. My bottom crust is a little too dense, but the top crust is lovely.

I’ve also been consuming books. A few highlights from last week:

Pie is comfort food, and these were comfort reads. They did not stretch or challenge me in any way. Books by women a lot like me, most likely mostly for women a lot like me.

Now this one–this one is a different kind of story:

I cannot figure out an elevator pitch for it. It’s academic, it’s poetic, it’s fierce. It’s about cooking, food, and women. Maybe I’m starting to wake up again.

14 thoughts on “Wonky

  1. Kate says:

    Both of your non-stretch books are on my list, but my list just keeps growing and they keep falling farther and farther down. If I was going to pick one of the two this month – which would you recommend?

    The words whiskey peach pie made my mouth water.

    I can’t click through to what Solnit said as I’m time limited (which is a fun story for another day), but I agree with the portion you shared and am glad you are giving yourself the rest and recovery you need after what was both physically and mentally a challenging summer.

    And this “ I’m not going to change what I am and am not sharing in a public forum. I might have every right to give my story away, but that doesn’t mean I should.” Sounds familiar. Discernment in these situations is tricky, but I trust you as a writer, a person, and friend.

    Hope you have a wonderful wonky week, Rita. Xoxo.

    • Rita says:

      Hmmm…I’m not sure which book I’d recommend. A large part of both stories are set in the 80’s, making the main characters close in age to me, and I liked that there were things I could relate to. I probably enjoyed Hello, Beautiful more. HB had more going on in it, and I liked the characters more. It was probably not as realistic, but in a way that I liked. Not magical realism, but coincidences that are MR-adjacent. That said, I also really enjoyed Tom Lake. I listened to HB and read TL; not sure if that made a difference in my experience of them. You can’t go wrong with Ann Patchett, but I didn’t necessarily believe her characters would do what they did. There were more unbelievable things in HB, but somehow they worked better in that book for me. How’s this for an unhelpful response? 🙂

      I’ve never been a big peach pie fan (not my favorite fruit), but peaches are in season and Cane wanted that kind of pie. I’m a convert. Can’t believe what I’ve been missing all my life.

      • Kate says:

        Oooh….I wonder if like hood strawberries it’s a geography thing. Where I grew up had the BEST peaches in the end of July/beginning of August and if I’m home during that time I HAVE to get them, but otherwise, I skip them. Grocery store peaches (even farmer’s market ones here) don’t hold a candle to that fruit.

        But with whiskey?!? And pie crust? Really would love to sit at your table for that!!

        • Rita says:

          I’d sit at a table with you for a lot less. But since we’re dreaming: Yes, with peach pie! The peaches I used are locally-grown. Maybe that’s what I liked the pie so much?

          Now I’m pondering which kind to make next. Probably going to have to be apple.

  2. Kari says:

    Rebecca Solnit’s post is the best thing to come out of Facebook in a long time.
    I can so relate to not being the main character in my life, to not being able to tell a story that doesn’t feel like mine despite the fact that I’m living it. There is so much of my life that is hidden beneath the layers that I think “if they only knew..” not in a bad way, but more in the sense that others would understand why I share what I share. All of this is to say that I understand what you’re saying.

    Peach pie is my favorite. Dammit Rita, why do you live so far away??

    • Rita says:

      Because the universe is sometimes cruel. 🙂

      And I understand what you’re saying. A lot. It’s nice to feel understood, yeah?

  3. Ally Bean says:

    “I’m wondering if this–being full of stories I don’t feel free to write freely about–is why I’ve been finding it hard to write here.”

    Yes, I feel that way too. I am sometimes accused of being too reserved as a blogger, not telling all the nitty gritty, keeping details to myself. While I know that I could write about things, I don’t do it. I realize this has cost me some followers who want more from me, but that’s how it is.

    However, getting to a point here, I also feel that my need to suppress some stories slows me down when I want to write things that I feel comfortable writing. I find myself at a crossroad between two versions of my truth, often dithering more than publishing.

    • Rita says:

      I appreciate the circumspection I see in your posts; I think readers need to accept writers on the writer’s terms. I don’t go to your blog expecting all the nitty gritty. I like having a place to go for pithy wit and thoughtful questions.

      For myself, I don’t know if the issue is two versions of truth. I think it may be more than I get a bit clogged up. I was doing some writing this morning (not for the blog or for any eye, even my own) and I realized how much I kept bottled up this summer. Feels like I’ve been in a deep freeze. (Ironic, given that it felt like I was trapped in Hell’s kitchen, huh?) Maybe it’s like when you don’t talk for a long time, and then when you do your voice can come out as a croak?

      • TD says:

        That’s okay, Rita. You are very knowledgeable about your gardens. I thought you might. I’ve never seen this type of bush. It is pretty. It will be fun to see if roots grow too!

        “Isn’t life often like that? There’s almost always a gift of some kind in discomfort.” This is true for me right now. The sell of my old house fell through therefore the contingent purchase of the new construction house also automatically terminated resulting with me moving from the senior living rental back into my old house 10 days ago. As I have worked through my feelings I have come to believe that this outcome is a gift and here is home exactly where we are suppose to be.

        Yorkie and I take a nap almost everyday between noon and 1:00. It’s a good break in our day and refreshed both of us.

        Wishing you and Cane a restful and insightful Labor Day the new school year and unknown routine that is yet to come.

        • Rita says:

          House selling and buying is always a bit of a roller-coaster, isn’t it? I’m glad you are feeling good about where you’re at right now.

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