Hard to explain

As I sat with my head in her shampoo bowl yesterday afternoon, my hairdresser, who is also a longtime friend, asked about my blog.  She hasn’t read it, having limited computer access, but has seen my facebook profile picture, which alludes to it, and wanted me to tell her what it was about.  This morning, I got a text from another friend, asking for the meaning of the same picture:

In both cases, as in others where I’ve tried to describe what I’m doing here, I’ve found that I… can’t… quite… do it.  Sure, I can throw fancy-sounding words around, like “healing project” and “post-traumatic stress disorder” and “blog.”  I can hand out business cards with the web address and the tagline, “a personal study in hurt and healing,” and advise people to just go read it.  (My About page and my first entry both give pretty good explanations of the project and the goals I’ve set for myself.)  But I feel like that’s cheating.

What I need is a sentence or two description that I can give to people when they ask about my picture or my project or my necklace.  Telling people to go read this because I’m frustrated with my own inability to describe it is not an effective way of convincing them that it’s worth reading; I need a hook that’s stronger and more explanatory than my half-naked body holding empty bakeware.

While struggling to find the right words yesterday, I thought that maybe my project is too much inside my own head, swirling around there like nervous energy, hitting the occasional writer’s block and the occasional sensory overload, and that explaining it in a simple way is just outside of my realm of capabilities.  But maybe someone else, someone who understands me well and has been reading it, might be able to sum it up for me.  So I called Doug over while my conditioner was setting, and asked him to do it.

“Yeah…” he said a few times.  “Yeah…  I dunno.  I can’t explain it either.”  Then he stood there, grinning sheepishly, until I told him to go sit down.

Well…  fuck.  Is there no point to what I’m doing here?  Is it too complicated?  Too all over the place?  If this were a book, would the back cover have nothing on it but adulatory quotes from other writers – which I find really frustrating, because for Chrissake, can’t somebody tell me what the book is actually about?

Wait, let me try:

After a tragic miscarriage, our young heroine finds herself feeling lost and incomplete, and so begins a quest to find healing in whatever way she can.

Too lofty and general?  How about:

In a 14-month period, our young heroine endured a wedding and a divorce, a pregnancy and a miscarriage, a move across the country, and a healthy relationship with a decidedly unhealthy start.  Feeling like her life and her body were no longer her own, she set out to explore different methods of healing, from the traditional to the unconventional.  This is her account of that journey.

Better.  But kind of long, maybe.  Let’s go for punchy:

Life can really suck sometimes.  This is what our young heroine discovered when she woke up one morning feeling responsible for her divorce and unable to bounce back from the loss of her unborn child.  After two years of living in a black hole of depression and denial, she resolved to get control back in any way she could, and discovered that, sucky as it can be, life, in fact, is what you make it.

That one seems too negative – although, I do have days of negative thinking that would make it appropriate.  And in any of these cases, if I switched to the first person and tried to deliver these blurbs in connection with the fact that this is me we’re talking about, my project, I think it would sound either awkward or conceited.

In college, I had two types of classes: reading and writing.  My reading classes were like a book club; we’d read novels or poetry, then, at our bi-weekly meetings, would sit around a large table and discuss what we’d read.  Doodling was allowed; snacking, acceptable; knitting, encouraged.  My writing classes were similar to the reading classes in many ways, except that the poets and authors were present.  We’d write, make copies for the class (or the teacher would read longer stories out loud), and then everyone would discuss each other’s work.  There was just one rule: the writer was not allowed to make a sound during the discussion of his/her story/poem until everyone else had finished talking.  This way you could tell whether your piece was successful – did people like it?  did they get the points you were trying to make? – and see what other interpretations the reading public might come up with, things you hadn’t intended or even thought about.  It was a helpful system, and sometimes, as in the case of a series of poems about a mysterious ritual called “Log Cabin Night,” a fun experiment.

So, um, maybe you guys, who understand me and have been reading this (and are not Doug, apparently), can help me out here.  In 100 words or less, can anyone describe my project in a way that does it justice, is conversational, and will make people want to read it?  Pretty, pretty please?

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9 Responses to Hard to explain

  1. Whitney says:

    What started as a blog in search of healing surrounding a young woman’s marriage, divorce, pregnancy, and miscarriage has turned into a daily reminder of her strength and inner person. Not many people are brave enough to put their life out there in such a blunt and honest way. This blog is the epitome of growth intertwined with the balance of living everyday life, and anyone can relate to it. Two thumbs up!

    (P.S. One of these days it will get posted to the blog at the birth center, the person who handles that has been out of all Sept.)

  2. Elizabeth says:

    “It’s about losing a marriage I shouldn’t have entered into, a baby I didn’t know I wanted, and an inner compass I never knew I had.”

  3. Emily says:

    This is not poetic – but the way I pitch your blog to my friends in real life:
    “My childhood friend started this blog. Its really personal and honest, you won’t be able to stop reading it. Kind of Eat, Pray, Love meets Julie & Julia.”
    I don’t know Whitney’s version is the best.

  4. Marie says:

    Thanks! I like them all. Whitney’s for the back of the book, Elizabeth’s to steal for my own use, and Emily’s because knowing she’s pitching me to her friends makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thank you!

  5. huijeong says:

    mmm as someone who has barely kept in touch w/ you post HS, i feel like your tagline is very telling and needs no further explanation. to me this blog documents the iterative process of healing and trauma, of which many of us are familiar.

    visually, i think of this process like a double helix. i don’t know that the proper scientific analogy exists, or even if i can articulate why i understand this process to be a double helix. there’s something about how fleeting moments can trigger us to relive our trauma and yet, sometimes the moments are simultaneously required for healing. OR maybe this has nothing to do w/ double helix and i just like the way the word helix sounds. whisper “heee-lixxx” sounds so cool!

    • Marie says:

      Helix is a good word. I’ll try to use it more. Since I live by Mt. Helix, that shouldn’t be too difficult 😉

      Are you coming to the reunion? I haven’t seen you in, like, a decade.

  6. huijeong says:

    nah, not a reunion type of gal. if you’re ever in the bay though holla!

    • Marie says:

      Yeah, leave the reunion to those kids who were important in high school, like the ASB people and the football players and the cheerleaders and the newspaper editors…

      I’m pretty much never in the bay area. Do you still have family here to visit?

  7. huijeong says:

    my parents are actually moving up here in a couple of weeks!

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