Dancing the Event Horizon

Blogging a memoir is almost, for sure, slow suicide.  And I swear to God— if it’s not the death of me, it will, at the very least, make me old, make me crazy crazier, make me something I don’t want to be.

graphic by Patrick Spence at http://www.stopthesanity.com

It’s gonna drive me to the brink, beyond that delicate barrier between “then” and “now”—which I guess it’s meant to do—has to do.

But I’ve decided I don’t like to go there—go “then”—peer into the muck and mire of my sometimes depressed, sometimes manic past.

Do these memoirs really help people in the present, anyway?  Do readers really benefit?  Is it really worth the effort?

My partner Sara and I have been discussing these issues over the past several days—discussing my potential book about recovery from bipolar disorder—and this blog, in which I’m testing the waters—tip-toe-ing around the edges of the story, trying not to get my feet wet—

Or so Sara insists.

She says that I’m not trying hard enough—not doing the dirty work of delving deeper than the surface—not forcing myself to swim in darker waters.

And I suppose she’s right. I’m practicing the fine art of avoidance, and this post is a prime example of that maneuver.

So forgive me, folks—

I’m guilty as charged.

I don’t want to deal with the drama that was my past.  I want a story to tell that is less personal, less intimately exhausting—maybe another international assignment for Sara—maybe a story about our efforts to settle again in another crazy place on an equally insane planet—a place different from the madness that was then, from the boredom that is here—that is now.

However, my partner does disaster response—so it’s always tricky wanting work for her—dilly dallying around the edge of dire and all that.  But dire is dramatic.  And sometimes I fear drama feeds my dysfunctional self—as long as it’s not my personal drama—memoir-related—bipolar-driven drama.

However, craving adventure for adventure’s sake is a god-awful motivation—especially when one knows that drama might mean disaster-related misery for someone else.

But maybe it’s not adventure I crave as much as a simple break from memoir—maybe I don’t so much desire drama, as I desire less personal drama.

Whichever it is, I’m far from loving this aspect of myself.

Whether I’m too lazy to do the difficult work of memoir, too weak to relive a painful past, or too in love with the drama-driven life to simply settle for the here and now—none of it is good.  None paints a pretty picture of who I happen to be.

So what I’m wondering is this—

What dysfunction do you like least about yourself?

What behavioral event horizon do you dare dance around or near?

Because every reader is a gift and every comment a surprise–

Okay, here’s my question: 

Would you all mind if, every once in a while over the next couple of weeks, I share some of my favorite things with you?

I’m not going to have tons of time.  In fact, I may have very little of it—in which case I could wrap up some special treats—foiled paper, beautiful bows—and give you periodic peaks—sort of, my special wishes for while I’m away.

Because every reader is a gift and every comment a surprise--

Now, I won’t literally be “away”—just preoccupied with moving out of Haiti and home to Kentucky:

one disaster-response refugee,
two dogs,
and a whole house full of stuff.

(Good God, the task is daunting!)


Today, in honor of this get-the-hell-out-of-Haiti-favorite-things series, I offer you—

(steel drums playing)

a medium box
calico paper
butterfly bow—

My absolute, favorite movie as a child,

The Sound of Music  and  (appropriately enough)—

“My Favorite Things”—(now, aren’t you surprised!)

What was your favorite movie as a child?

And, what’s one of your favorite things?

Okay–I apologize. 

I woke up to this morning to, “You mean to tell me you build up a readership, and then you throw your audience my “Favorite Things!”

She insists this was a throw-away post, that I would have been better to post nothing. 

So, I promise–no more soft posts!  I will write, write, write–even through the move!  I’ve got a monster in the bed next to me insisting, I don’t dare let you down again–especially if indeed  “every reader is a gift and every comment a surprise!”

Sara won’t stop mockingly singing “My Favorite Things!”

News from the Asylum

 I don’t know how to tell you this, but I have some crazy news . . .

Sara and I are leaving Haiti— as in “permanently,” as in “forever.”

I’m just as stunned by this as you are, and frankly it seems hard to believe.   But Sara’s NGO is doing what a number of organizations are doing in Haiti—

They’re scaling back—


Because of funding shortfalls—

The fact of the matter is, merely a fraction of the dollars pledged toward the Haitian relief effort just after the earthquake have been delivered to NGOs, because, in reality, donors are reluctant to hand over funds to a country whose political future is uncertain, a country that has a history of corrupt leadership, presidents who funnel dollars into their own deep pockets rather than passing them along to citizens in need. 


You might wonder what this has to do with Sara and me—————

Quite frankly, Sara is a key disaster response resource for her NGO, especially in terms of her ability to drop into the aftermath of a disaster and get projects moving.  She launched the organization’s effort in Afghanistan after the Taliban fell in 2002 and directed its response to the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. 

More recently, she’s worked a year in Vietnam and another in Haiti, without more than 5 consecutive days at home—an effort that has drained and exhausted her.  She needs a break.  She needs to rest.  

And the organization is smart to recognize this.


Sara will have a three-month sabbatical before being reassigned.  This means Spring at home in Lexington—a lovely time of year to be in Kentucky.  And though I’m terribly sad to leave Haiti when there’s so much more of the country to explore and write about, I believe this change will ultimately benefit Sara and her ability to serve more successfully in the future.



We truly don’t know where we will be headed in another 3 months.  Before the earthquake in Haiti, her NGO had planned to send Sara to South Africa.  I suspect that could actually happen this summer, unless in the next several months there’s a massive disaster in another part of the world.


So, how will this affect the blog—a blog that has largely been about Haiti?

Well, it’s ironic that I began shifting the blog’s focus slightly  even before knowing this larger change was coming—addressing the “event horizon” that is my past, while promising to not ignore the “event horizon” that is Haiti.

It could be that I shouldn’t have made that promise.  Certainly, I don’t plan to ignore Haiti even now, but it inevitably won’t be a part of my day-to-day experience.  Inevitably the focus will shift toward which ever country we live in next.

In the meantime, I intend to address the “event horizon” that was “then”—my personal past, whose story, I think, needs to be told.

Actually, going home to Kentucky will better equip me to research my mental health history—to do it in a way I couldn’t if I were in Haiti.  It will give me actual access to boxes and boxes of journals, video-taped therapy sessions, and medical records I already have on hand.

In practical, blogging terms, I suspect this may mean fewer posts and/or briefer posts over the next several weeks, as we pack up our lives here in Haiti and get resettled in Kentucky.  After that, I intend to spend the Spring exploring my past and sharing it here on the blog.

So pad your walls.

Things could get crazy around here.

This insane story’s just beggin’ to be told.

Top 10 Things to Remember about Letting Go

For whatever reason, I don’t do well with change.  I don’t do well with uncertainty.  I don’t do well with loosening my white-knuckled grip, that over-my-dead-body,  I’ll-be-damned grip on absolute control of almost everything.  I like to know what’s coming and where I’m going because of it. 

Bottom line:  I’m kind of a control freak in this regard–not good–and something I’m far from proud of.

But when your partner works in disaster response, life is almost always about change, adjusting to change, to sudden shifts, loosening that grip.  That’s the thing about disasters.  They’re so, well, disastrous.  And you never know when they’re coming.  You never know where.  You never know when.

So in honor of my own issues with uncertainty and in anticipation of Mindy’s post tomorrow about accepting change, today I bring you the “Top 10 Things to Remember about Letting Go.”

  1. That letting go is about control and a willingness to give it up.
  2. That letting go is about strength.
  3. That letting go is about tomorrow.
  4. That tomorrow is coming soon.  (Remember Little  Orphan Annie’s anthem to tomorrow:  “Tomorrow, tomorrow.  I love you tomorrow.  You’re only a day away.”)
  5. That letting go means waiting willingly for what’s to come.
  6. That it sometimes means “good-bye.”
  7. That it often means “adjust.”
  8. That it forces us toward faith.
  9. That it requires us to trust.
  10. That it nudges us toward tomorrow, that it requires us to trust that God, or the universe, or the kind hand of a friend will take us where weeed to go.

The bottom line is this:  I can no longer be a tip-toed toddler teetering toward tomorrow.  Neither, at the other extreme, can I be a control freak, forecasting my own future,  frothing to make it less frontier and more toddler-friendly.

I need to remember what Joseph Campbell said: “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting.”

So, yes, letting go is often about waiting.

And it’s also always about accepting–

Letting go, letting love.

Blogging Buddies mean Blogging Bliss




Sorry to sound like a bad echo of Gomer Pyle, but gosh, darn—comments to yesterday’s post, a news update about Haiti, did indeed surprise me.

So today’s post poses some questions I’d most like my readers to answer—please—I’m down on blogging hands and knees begging for feedback!

First a bit of background—some random notes on how my thinking about blogs is evolving, thoughts that I think will put my questions in context.

(Please know I’m new at this whole blogging thing—so if you’ve been around the blogosphere for ages and all of this to you is old hat—then this post probably isn’t for you.  But, I’m a relative newbie, so bear with me.)

Yes, in 2009 I started a blog meant to follow the adventure we began when Sara returned to international disaster response work and I stopped teaching, followed her into the field, attempting to tell our story.  However, that material (archived on this site) was only read by friends and family.  I did nothing to attract outside readers—rarely more than 10 people read each post.  If we don’t count that—I’ve been doing this for a mere 2 months, so please forgive my naïve enthusiasm, my gawking and gaping—a country girl on her first trip to the big city of blogging.

But truly, what amazes me most about blogging is the sense of community I feel.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but surely not all bloggers experience the kind of connectedness I feel with those who read my blog and with those whose blogs I read.  If so, WordPress wouldn’t be setting up a blogging buddy-system of sorts—because no one would need it—everyone would already be connected and buddied and belonging.

(I sometimes wonder if I was just lucky enough to stumble into the right group.  Cause I’m new and I feel fully embraced.  Several bloggers have emailed me over the last month or so—offering unsolicited words of caring, kindness, and down-home neighborliness.  I’ve been welcome-wagoned into blogging bliss.)

However, the following questions have come out of this evolving awareness of community and reader involvement in the blogging process.  I pose them to you whether you’re a regular reader here or just stopping by for the first time:

First, I wonder what among the issues I’ve raised, the many topics I’ve explored (a truly eclectic range) would you like to know more about?

I’ve shared some of my art, some of my poetry, some of my personal history, some about the evolution of my relationship with Sara, some about Sara’s work, a bit about my work in India, some thoughts about writing.  But what interests you the most?  And do you have any specific questions I might be able to answer in a post or a series of posts?

I realized for the first time from some of your comments yesterday, that the media in the US and other countries is likely not covering Haiti adequately, that you are not getting the news that you need, the news you deserve, the news Haiti needs you to hear. 

What else do you need to know, or what else would you simply like to know?  What kinds of posts would like to see more frequently?

Please know how much I appreciate your taking the time to read my blog.  I’d just like to know how I can even better serve your reading needs.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll continue to surprise me with your comments, your questions, your care and concern for a country in crisis.