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Open Letter to Marc Maron, Day 27 (on home + voice)

…I can perhaps forget for whole minutes at a time that I am brown-skinned but I can never really have total empathy for, say, a white man cause I can never fully don that mantle of that certain type of privilege.

Reading back over what I wrote yesterday, I’m a little surprised that I wrote it out loud. I mean it’s the kind of post that could invite a slew of naysayers and enduring naysayers takes a kind of fortitude that I keep forgetting I’ve finally developed.

I was thinking today about the name of my blog—The Home Beete. When I first started it in May 2009, I thought it would be a good place to deposit my mania for interior design. But even as I posted pics of couches I adored or wallpaper I wanted to hang in my mythical house, I found myself also wanting a space where I could just write about whatever was in my head. Some place that was more than my journal. I read a wonderful quote from the visual artist Ann Truitt on Brain Pickings today: “…artists have no choice but to express their lives.” So it’s probably inevitable that this blog would become my sounding board, my workshop, the place where I experiment and tinker. Which sounds a lot like home, actually.

Home is the place where I don’t shower on weekends or days off (I know, gross). Home is where I pick my nose obsessively (I know, gross). Home is where my only exercise sometimes comprises moving from one end of the couch to the other. (Look, if you had my couch, you’d stick as close to it as possible, too.) In other words, home is where I can be utterly and completely myself in all my groovy, gross, lazy, manic, high-brow, low-brow selfness. Which sounds a lot like this blog, actually.

I think in addition to the Home Beete evolving into a place where I feel at home, it’s also the place where I find myself becoming more at home with who I am. With the sound of my voice. With what that voice likes to talk about, to scream about, to sing about. With how often that voice comes back to the same subjects. With how the courage of that voice waxes and wanes across a spectrum from sorta courageous to “Y’all motherfu**ers need to listen up now!”

Virginia Woolf famously wrote that every woman, in order to be an artist, needs a room of her own. I think Mrs. Woolf will forgive me if I rewrite that to every woman artist needs a home of her own. And in that home, as she paces its many rooms, filling them with this and that, rearranging the furniture willy nilly, throwing the occasional dance party, losing the vacuum and forgetting to do laundry on a regular basis, investigating what she’s lost under piles of dust and junk left behind by others, she will somehow stumble into the hiding place of that one need even greater than a home of her own—a voice of her own.

To be continued…

Friendship, Confidence, Superb Surprise!

by Kathleen Kirk, Wait! I Have a Blog?!


Kathleen Kirk. Photo courtesy of Ms. Kirk

I’ve been thinking about friendship and its surprises. And Emily Dickinson. I’ve recognized in myself both her intensity—the thing that was sometimes too much for her friends and acquaintances—and her shyness, her impulse to withdraw. If we give ourselves wholly to someone, in friendship and trust, and we are rejected or betrayed, it’s successively harder to give oneself wholly again.

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—

Now, Emily may have been talking about poetry or spiritual truth or ultimate reality here (her glimpses of it), not the confidences shared among friends, but I think her poem can apply to any of these things quite easily and well.

The meaning of “confidence” (I learned by looking it up in the American Heritage Dictionary) is actually “trust or faith in a person or thing.” After that, “a trusting relationship” and next “that which is confided; a secret.” These things all apply to friendship. It’s only the fourth meaning, “a feeling of assurance, especially of self-assurance,” that relates to what we often mean by the word “confidence,” but it seems reasonable that we acquire self-confidence from a secure and trustworthy relationship with the world and with other human beings, notably family and friends. If we haven’t had happy friendships, our confidence might be shaky indeed.

I’ve always been a writer and loved writing letters as a child. It was my way of maintaining connection with those close childhood friends I had to leave when my family moved from Florida, then Nebraska, and then went away for a year from our home in Illinois. I wrote long, newsy, frequent letters, and responded quickly when my friends wrote to me, which was much less frequently. I would wait and wait, longing for a response. Finally, weeks or months later, a letter would come, and I might respond to it that very night! One day I told my mother that I had written back right away to a friend I’d been waiting on with yearning, and she shook her head, letting me know my friend might feel bad, unable to write back quickly, that what was easy for me might be very difficult for her. My quick response might be more a slap in the face than the fond caress I intended. What a wake-up call at twelve. (And I was not quite ready to wake up!)

My mother also advised me not to tell secrets to my friends, nor to gossip, as anything one said was likely to get told to others and, if about someone else, back to that someone. This took me a while to learn, as I was always hoping for that true confidante, that dear, trusted friend, the kind one read about in books. As an adult, I have a few close friends, but I am more and more withdrawn in most social situations, noticing that the conversation is too often about people who are not there! Or the relationships are about getting something from the other person, not giving something—that there may be plenty of “networking” but little true reciprocity of a deeper sort.

What a delightful surprise, then, to find my friendship with Paulette growing deeper and closer than it ever had a chance to be when we happened to live in the same city. We met in poetry circles, and I was perhaps still working out my yearning to connect and my need to be quiet then, sensing that not everyone in a particular circle was someone who really wanted friendship but pushing for it, anyway. But both Paulette and I are writers and bloggers, private in our beings, public with our words, able to reveal ourselves to the world, to strangers, in a kind of trust that there are others of our kind out there, even if not always available to us in person.

It’s as if when I shine a light on something in my writing, some people can handle it better from a distance, or diffused through cyberspace. I’ve “met” many wonderful readers and writers through my own blog, people who seem to delight in my goofy humor and quirky insight, people who respond to my bouts of melancholy and occasional cry from the heart.

Paulette is one of these people, and I hope I am that to her. I remember when (at an AWP Conference in Chicago) she first mentioned her blog, thehomebeete, as a place where she’d write about cool and artsy stuff for the home, and I realized I might be too shy and technologically challenged to find it, read it, and figure out how to comment on it. But I did, and here I am now, guest blogging at thehomebeete!

Paulette’s blog has also evolved, and, while I still find beautiful and useful things for the home here, I also find beautiful and useful things from the heart. And hey, home is where the heart is!

Thank you, Paulette.



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