I realize I'm not a conventional blogger. I don't put up a lot of pictures, or give the low-down on the comings and goings of my family, or offer inspiration or practical advice or awesome recipes or any of that great stuff I read on your blogs. Heck, I don't even do giveaways, and if I accidentally stumble into the middle of one of yours, I apologize for intruding and assure you I had no intention of winning. I was just browsing, really.
I am an essayist, and that's not just my writing style. "Essayist" is embedded on my DNA. Ask anyone who has ever fallen into my trap with seemingly benign questions like, "Paper or plastic?"
The reply generally takes longer than the tree took to grow or the dinosaur took to, um, is "petroleum-ify" a word? Anyway, that long. Longer, if there aren't any perishables in the cart.
Tell me I have 10 minutes to speak, and you can practically see my brain reach for a cyanide capsule. (I'm supposed to speak at a fireside tomorrow night. I've been given thirty minutes, max, and I'm already hyperventilating at the thought of having so little time to get everything said.) I love to tell stories, to imagine all of you sitting in my living room, laughing about the time I fell out of the hammock or wrestled sheep or tried to renew my driver's license on the worst day of the world.
That's why I started a blog. And this marks my 52nd post.
Now, I realize that's hardly a milestone. You talented bloggers usually celebrate your 100th post or your one millionth follower or your Pulitzer nomination.
But "52" is significant to me. It represents the number of articles I would have to write in a year if I ever got my dream job of writing a weekly column for the New York Times or Nickel Ads or something. And I've done it in -- hang on, gotta count -- 183 days, or just over six months.
The true miracle here, the one really worth celebrating, is that I've stayed with it this long. I'm the poster grown-up for adult ADD, and I usually have the kind of attention span associated with goldfish or Paris Hilton.
But this project is different. It's something I've believed in for a long time, this chronicle of an unexpected life and the surprising truth that things rarely turn out the way we thought they would.
"My Real Life Was Backordered" was the working title of the first non-Christmas letter essay I ever wrote. It predates my book by a good ten years. Goodness, it predates a couple of my kids.
Paraphrasing my first blog post, which actually paraphrased that first essay, let me explain how it came to me:
I was pretty sure I had it all mapped out. Marry the cute guy up the street, teach high school music while the cute guy managed an office somewhere or cooked meth or did whatever you do with an accounting degree, have a couple of kids, and live out my days in Fill-In-The-Blank, Utah.
Blinked twice, and the cute guy was a federal agent -- and most definitely NOT a meth-cooker; sheesh, I was WAY off on that one -- I had never taught a day of school, and we had moved to the dark side of the moon, Mercer Island, Washington, in November of 1990.
That was the craziest winter the Northwest had seen in 50 years. Torrential rains turned to FEET of snow in a place that was so hilly it made San Francisco look like a Chinese gymnast, and where there were exactly 18 snow plows.
As if that weren't enough, the I-90 floating bridge sank to the bottom of Lake Washington.
A new bridge was under construction, but it was hoped that the old bridge would keep floating happily along and, you know, bridging stuff, until the new one was completed.
However, the old bridge had some internal structural problems, and required some repairs to keep it, for lack of a better word, afloat. So, naturally, the highly paid engineers and bridge specialists hired by King County decided that the best approach to accessing the bridge's innards was to fill its outtards with a gazillion holes.
Now, I admit that my degree in music hardly qualifies me as an expert on all things sea-worthy, but it seems to me that if you drill a bunch of holes into a big ol' floaty thing without first getting the water out of the way, and then it rains like Noah just slammed the door in your face, the big water will hook up with the sky water inside the holes until the floaty thing, well, isn't one any more.
Not surprisingly, this was the bridge that led to our home on Mercer Island.
And I realized then: Life wasn't going to follow my beautifully mapped out plan, which was probably just as well, as I seemed to have a knack for finding the proverbial sinking bridge and parking my future on it.
In fact, life was going to take my map, use it to wipe its nose, run it through an industrial wood chipper, poo on the chips, stuff them into a paper sack, light the sack on fire, and leave it on the porch before ringing my metaphorical doorbell and running away giggling.
That was the beginning of my Backordered Life.
Now, as for the point of this, my landmark 52nd post:
I want to hear from you. I rarely solicit comments from my readers. I kind of feel like it isn't really a conversation if I treat it like some sort of talk show. "Now, Muffy, when did you first suspect your husband was actually a giant tree sloth with an unusually good tailor?" That just doesn't feel right. If you have something to say, you'll say it. And if you don't, well, you are welcome to hang out with the rest of us and laugh with the ones who always keep the story going, like a great big multi-continental slumber party.
But this time, I would like to hear about your version of The Backordered Life. Tell me your stories. Has your life turned out the way you thought it would? In what ways have you been surprised? If the 20-year old You could jump forward in time to spend a week with the current You, what things about your life would amaze her the most?
And I want to hear from you blurkers out there, too. You can comment anonymously if you'd like; I'm not out to expose you or steal your stories. I just want to know if any of the things contained in these first 52 essays have reached you in some way, have led you to say, "Yes, I can relate to that" or "No, that DeNae is certifiable" or "Gosh, I'm glad a kangaroo didn't smash through MY window and start bouncing on the bed."
This is the closest I'm going to come to celebrating my little blog's un-birthday. But if you'll all play along, it promises to be the best, most gratifying writing I've ever, or never, done.
I can't wait to hear from you!