December 31st, 2008

c is for cat

Yes.

End of the year. It came fast. I had to go back through my LJ to remember what I did this summer.

What of 2008? Well, better than 2007. The whole thing about it taking half the duration of the original relationship to get over a breakup is pretty accurate, honestly. Funny how that doesn't apply to my marriage at all. Or maybe it does, and the relationship just ended when we got married and he started being in absentia all the time. That would make the math come out right, and also be really pathetic. At least I am free of all that. No more silent noisemakers for me.

I got to travel tremendously and usually for free, real vacations, through serendipity more than anything else. I experienced a shipwreck. I swam with turtles and dolphins. I moved to an island off the coast of Maine. I won the Mythopoeic Award, which means that my name is on a list with some of my favorite books of all time. Not much for a year, but also a lot. And just the living of every day, in between. And good grief, I've had this LJ for five years now. Been blogging for seven. What a huge part of my life it has become.

I listened to a new s00j  song last night, for the Palimpsest album. And it was so beautiful I want to stop using the word beautiful because it's not enough to describe this cold, perfect, razor-voice cutting through the miles between her and me. (It makes me think of the last line of Jacob Have I Loved, a book I had to read in elementary school, a line I remember despite not having touched the book since I was 8, where a girl is listening to her sister sing and she says she has to hold her arms together to keep from shattering.) And a few weeks ago I showed justbeast an episode of Amazing Stories that I loved as a kid called The Mission.

These things connect.

I hate to spoil the episode for anyone who hasn't seen it, but if you haven't, you probably aren't going to, so just close your eyes if you don't want to know. It's about this WWII gunner in the belly of a bomber, and the landing gear gets broken on his last mission before he gets to go home to his wife and baby. Belly gunner = smush. The gunner is a comic nut and draws compulsively--his drawings are all over the plane. And instead of giving up and dying, he draws a picture of wheels coming out of the bottom of the plane and they do. He lives, and these huge golden cartoon wheels hold up the whole bomber, until he snaps out of his will-trance and they disappear.

I've always thought about those wheels. About belief and will and art, the convergence of them. And the thing is, a few years ago, I was sitting in the belly of a plane with no landing gear. In a marriage that was killing me, having been stripped of any friend or family member that might have noticed I was in trouble. And instead of giving up and dying, I starting writing this book of fairy tales, and the book was like a spell. It was about a girl who lived all alone, who no one loved, who didn't have anything but a story to tell. And just by the act of storytelling, a family comes out of the shadows to take her in, and the world becomes huge and astonishing, and she's not alone anymore.

And in my life, suddenly, as if by magic, this crazy, gorgeous family appeared, more than friends, more than colleagues. And my favorite singer looked at me and said: I love you. And she sang songs about the little worlds I'd made in my head. A woman like that deemed me worthy of that perfect, shattering voice.

And a boy turned his whole world around to be with me. And I wasn't alone anymore. Telling a story saved me in every way imaginable. Cartoon wheels.

But being saved is never an endpoint. You keep living, even after season 5. I think 2008 was about floudering, figuring out what to be after the will-trance and the crazy magic. I'm not sure I know even now, though I can sort of see the shape of it. I think it might look like a knight riding a hippopotamus. I use this icon more than any defualt icon I've ever had, and there's a reason.

But I feel like I haven't done enough this year to make good on the life that's popped out, huge and golden, under my plane, that I've been thrashing frantically just to stay afloat. But I do this all the time. If I just worked and did nothing else, I could write like six or seven novels a year. Ignoring that I can't really, that my soul can only pour out so often, that I have family and friends and tours and dogs and depression and anxiety and travel and all the rest. But I still feel guilt. I've got five months left till I turn 30. Must lose weight, must write more, must must must. Gah, I hate must.

I feel like, for me, 2008 was the Year of No. I heard it way too often. From publishers to loved ones to promises to myself I have broken. If I wanted or needed something, the answer was almost always no. I hope 2009, if nothing else, will hold more yes. In Little, Big, my favorite novel, they write very serious and grown up letters to Santa asking for serious things. Last year justbeast  and I did that, and burned up our letters to Father Frost (Russian New Year version, naturally) on New Year's Eve and send the ashes into Lake Erie with an absurd, spur of the moment purchase of Veuve Cliquot. I think I asked to move away from Ohio. I'm pretty sure I asked for other things that didn't pan out, but that was a big one, and I, having been a poor child, always understood that sometimes Santa can't get you everything on your list.

Santa, this year, please bring me Yes. Please. And cartoon wheels.

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