I have been away from this space for longer than I ever thought possible. Beth has emphatically declared that I am a writer, despite the resistance that I have to accepting that title. But she’s right. No matter how well or poorly I’ve done it, I’ve loved writing my entire life. It started as school projects and journal entries, had a brief stint as a humor columnist (among my family and friends – never did get the gumption to hand any in to a paper or magazine), and eventually morphed in to this blog. There have certainly been times when I have not felt like writing, or despite wanting to, it got pushed to the bottom of the To Do list by life. But even if I don’t want to sit down and publish my thoughts, I never stop writing. I write (and re-write) sentences in my head throughout my day. When inspiration does come, my fingers can start to twitch when I’m too far from a keyboard. And I have rituals for when I write. Certainly some posts are put up quickly, with little effort – a picture of my beautiful girls may not need anything more than a title, and shared conversations have already written themselves. If I’m really writing though – telling a story through my own words – I like things a certain way.
Ernest Hemingway said, “write drunk – edit sober.” I hadn’t heard this quote until recently but it made me smile in recognition of the way I write. I do very much enjoy a glass of wine as part of my ritual, but when I “write drunk” it’s not about a state of inebriation – it’s about the flow. When I sit down in front of a keyboard, I don’t agonize over sentence structure. I tell my story. My backspace button is used here and there but I prefer to relax and let my thoughts spill on to the screen as they come, naturally. The true editing appears after the first draft is completely finished. Second, third – sometimes fourth re-reads will follow in a “sober” phase to ensure I’m getting the feeling I intended across, and of course the occasional grammar fix (I do notice them – I just don’t care about the majority) all before I even consider clicking Publish.
All of this does not guarantee a fantastic post. Some I love, some I feel – despite sober editing – just never made their full potential. Some are too silly to critique, and some I roll my eyes at and wonder what on earth I was thinking. And all of those combined, equal – my life. A little silly at times, or serious, or eye-rolling – sometimes in-depth, sometimes quick to the point. This is me.
I started this blog in the summer of 2007. Just shy of 5 years ago. At that point I still defined myself by the work I had done, especially my most recent job where Justice Girl was born. I knew I was good at my job at the court. I felt confident there – whatever new experience had been thrown at me, I handled it, and I handled it well. Once I became a full-time mom I was terrified. I didn’t feel confident and I didn’t always handle things well. I had read verdicts that sent men to prison for life in front of the accused, a jury, and room full of strangers. I could decipher the handwriting of any judge in the building (trust me – not an easy task). I could type pages of legal jargon in minutes and eventually even knew what the hell that jargon meant (also not an easy task). The amount of work I could accomplish in one day left me exhausted almost every night – I had a boss that expected 200% at all times and I was determined to not let him down. So how could it be that when I walked out the doors of the 4th District Court, and traded my heels in for flats, that I could go an entire day without doing ANYTHING besides clean up bodily fluids. The baby. The puppy. The baby and the puppy together. This was my life now. Brushing my teeth became optional, due to the amount of time it took to feed and burp and clean up and diaper and start all over again. So there were days when I ached to be Justice Girl again. When I would beg the gods to switch the screaming toddler for a screaming inmate – at least the inmate could be hauled away and put back in a cell.
This blog is a chronicle of such an essential, important change in my life. And yet…I’ve now reached a point where I’ve been a stay at home mom longer than I had been Justice Girl. I have worked since I was 15, but Justice Girl was the highlight – the proof that despite the poor decisions I made in life that reduced me to forever being a secretary despite the position never once occurring to me as something I wanted in life – that I was truly good at something. As mundane as it could be, as stressful as it was – I was good at it, and I accepted that – a task harder than any other. So I defined myself by it however inane it may sound to do so. And now I can no longer do that. I am many things, but I am no longer Justice Girl. She is a proud moment in my life, and will always be, but she is no longer how I define myself.
There has been a major shift in my life recently – causing my retreat from this space. I’ve had traumatic events induce a change of head and heart that has turned my entire life upside down and in turn has affected everything I do and everyone around me. At the moment I am feeling fairly lost and unsure. But there are things that are bringing glimpses of hope and sightings of paths that may be rocky and uphill, but will lead me out of this. Most importantly, those sightings are coming from the presence of the hand of my husband, entwined in mine, showing me the meaning of a partner – someone who is there to walk beside you and pull you up when you need it, even if you can’t bring yourself to ask for the help. They are coming in the form of supportive family and friends. They are coming in the form of therapy and a lot of hard realizations that I have tried to wish away or dismiss for years. And they are coming in the form of hugs from a Birdie and a Princess, a nuzzle from a dog that most of the time resembles a bear, the feeling of clay – molded by my hands, a sighting of a red bird on the feeder under the cherry tree, or a walk around my garden, watching life appear out of the cold, wet soil.
My dad has a pagan nickname for me. Brighid – the princess of Imbolc, where the arrival of Spring is celebrated. I’ve found it to be fitting in so many ways. I always thought that my favorite season was Fall, and I do love it, but winter is hard on me. I am taken away from the life that I crave – my garden, the warmth of the sun…when I see flowers beginning to appear out of defrosted soil, I can breathe again. At this point in my life, the breathing is still labored, but life is starting to appear. And the reason behind it is change.
Some of the changes I want to make in my life have been easily decided. Despite the pain surrounding them, they had to happen and are essential for me to get through this and become a better person. Some of the changes have not been easy decisions. One in particular I have fought tooth and nail, resisting, struggling, denying, but finally in the end – accepting. That particular change will be leaving this blog and letting Justice Girl rest as a part of my past. Despite my reluctant title of a writer (among the others I have allowed myself to own or have been pasted on by others) I can’t really find appropriate words to describe how painful this decision has been for me. And yet, I feel at peace with it. I am striving to be a new, better person and that means I need to find new ways to define myself.
That being said – with pain, and heartache – but said, nonetheless – I can not stop writing. However poor my grammar, or silly my stories, or small my audience, I am a writer. And just as I moved from paper to the web, 5 years ago, I will be moving from this loved space to another. I don’t know what is ahead of me in terms of chronicling my life. My writing has changed over the years because I have changed, and this moment in my life is creating change bigger than I had ever anticipated. The only thing I know for sure is that the sound of a keyboard or the scratch of a pen on paper will forever be soothing to me, and I refuse to let go of the things I am sure of.
I will miss you, Justice Girl. You taught me that I could be proud of my work and confident in my abilities. Lessons I will be clinging to as I look for those glimmers of hope. You have been my therapy through countless screaming tantrums from adorable babies, and a way to share my endless love and pride of those same babies (when not screaming). We’ve chronicled adventures together as big as moving across the country to vacations to capturing fire-flies. I’ve come out of my shell and talked about important things, and shared very un-important things here as well, knowing they would make someone else smile or laugh…which, after all, is pretty important. Most of all, you’ve taught me that I have a voice – a voice that deserves to be heard, even if few are listening. A voice that has changed and grown and will continue to do so. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now go – there is no time to waste – crime is rampant and the world is begging for a hero. Love, -B.