For Christmas of 2001, Alene was given a calligraphy starter set. Not by me, of course — by someone else. Neither one of us could fathom this choice of present — but we were both excited at the prospect of a new project.  A few days after Christmas, Alene bought some calligraphy paper and gave it a try.  Within a week, she had found a whole new groove.

This was definitely one of our happiest periods together. We were both living near the Junction in West Seattle. Neither of us was working. And we had both left much of our respective lives behind us. January 2002 was wonderfully dreary and dismal — ideal weather for an indoor project. Alene spent many happy hours of those winter afternoons standing at her kitchen counter working the ink.

About a year before arriving in Seattle, we had both had a vision of some rather strange calligraphy — and then forgotten it. But as Alene worked with pen and ink, the shapes started manifesting on her worksheets. Before long, Alene was producing articles such as this:


Over the next three months, we fancied that we understood what she was writing — and the following summer, she actually compiled a “dictionary” of the symbols — but the notebook it was written in was accidentally thrown away. It’s disheartening, because we no longer can translate these pieces. However, they do look pretty — and Alene has this one framed on her living-room wall.

The story of Zanda was inspired by those happy winter afternoons putting pen and ink to paper — and it’s so, so wonderful to be sharing it at last.

Flying blind

Unable to see the way ahead — like when flying in thick fog and having to trust your instruments. I’m not a pilot (this is Alene, not Mark) and I know I would find that hard to do — I’d wish I could make the plane just stop in mid-air — not that it would help anything!!

Have you ever had to use a computer with a non-working monitor? I’ve heard of people managing to do this in pinch. It might even have been my ex-husband who typed blindly into a computer and had all output redirected to a printer — just to get something important done. I’ve also heard of creative writers following the suggestion to dim the screen while writing a first draft so as to resist the urge to edit at the same time — but have never tried it myself — not patient enough!

One experience I have had the patience with is assembling a jigsaw puzzle without a picture to refer to — and this is probably a better metaphor for what I am dealing with (and it might apply to many people.) The corners and straight-edged pieces are still helpful — but only because you know they belong not he outside. So you just group pieces of similar colors/patterns/themes and then work on matching them one pair at a time. After a while, you have enough pieces assembled to give some initial context to the big picture — but your interpretation might be way off. So you just keep working it — and eventually the real picture emerges — usually after placing a few key pieces that suddenly allowed you to see where you were going.

Mark and I have been struggling with some of the pieces — and not seeing the picture the same way. In the last post, we mentioned the old electronic organizer he carries. He did need to refer to it recently — and he ended up taking a bit of trip into the past — to parts of his life he thought he’d let go of. And it had me reaching into my past also — thinking I wanted to recreate situations which had made me happy before.

Hanging on to the past can be very problematic. You can never recreate it exactly the way you remember — and it gets in the way of enjoying what’s going well in the present. Mark has been leaning on me to return our relationship to what it was in the early years — and it ended up taking us to a place that was not as good as we hoped.

Today I realized that I’m rather happy with my life at present — and there’s nothing from the past that I wish I could have back. Mark will be returning to Seattle this week — and I can’t wait to have him back here — but I want him here in 2015 — not some rehash of 2002. For one thing, I don’t know he really exists — and I have to keep myself moving forward — and grounded in the reality of today’s world.

I want him to rent a nice apartment in West Seattle, so that we can frequent the same coffee shops, buy groceries at the same supermarkets, ride the same buses — and enjoy the same sunsets. It’s the next best thing to being together — and I think it’s enough for me.