Friday, February 27, 2009

Alley Oop!

It’s time to really blog. Actually, with Love in Condition Yellow coming out this May, it’s actually past time. I’m late. So I’m going to start. ANY MINUTE NOW. I am on the very BRINK of blogging. I am putting my toe over the edge. I am doing what skiers do before sliding over the lip of a cornice into a steep chute. I am taking off my skis, venturing toward the edge and whacking my ski pole over, to see if the edge will hold or crack.

Thwack. Thwack.

It’s just that… that… I’m not sure what will happen. Even though my writing group has given me no less than THREE MILLION good ideas on what to blog about, something is stopping me. One expert blogger said, “It’s simple. You blog three times a week. Monday about your marriage and family, Wednesday about politics, and Friday about the process of writing and publishing a book.

Sounds great. In theory.

Here’s all I think about lately: my son’s teacher, the fact that she hurt his feelings on a Thursday back in late January when she questioned the proportions in a drawing of his father. The next day, when I phoned the school office to ask for an appointment, I learned she’d gotten rear-ended on the freeway. I squelched my decidedly unchristian feeling of relief, when I heard she would be out for at least four weeks. This week I heard she will be back, definitely, in two weeks. And while I am glad to hear she is doing better, I am TERRIFIED. Because this means I am going to have to follow through on the appointment and talk to her. What if she gets angry and hostile? What if she can’t see my son the way I do? What if I have to transfer him to a new class? What if I have to take him out of school, start a letter-writing campaign, give speeches in front of the School Board? I’m looking over the edge, What if it’s icy? What if people don’t like my blog? What if people don’t like my book? What if people don’t like ME?

So you stand there while the wind comes up the ridge in swirls and you yell something to your buddy, “are you going?” and he nods and yells “just about” in a garble and takes a turn at Thwack, Thwack. This is supposedly checking for avalanche but really it’s just a cool way to stall. To be honest, I feel a confidence and freedom on skis that I have never felt stating an unpopular opinion to another person. The fear at the edge of a cornice is not nearly the shaky gut-sick feeling I have imagining telling someone something that might make them angry.

Maybe that’s why I married a police officer/soldier with whom I hardly agree about anything. So I can practice. Also because I love the way he is not afraid of interpersonal conflict, the way he stands up and says, “STOP! Or you’re going to have to deal with ME.”

Through our marriage, I’ve come to see that it’s not differences that are the problem but rather, the way we express them. We don’t have to agree. We both just need to be heard. I got a neat email today from Kidpower, about communicating with integrity, about overcoming the tendency to speak badly to other people about the person you are in conflict with, instead of confronting the problem directly. So I’m not the only one who finds this difficult! My husband is kind overall about my fears, but occasionally gets frustrated. “Troop!“ he steamed today, “That meeting’s going to be fine. And if it’s not, we’ll handle it. For godsakes, wrap your shit tight!

Another way to say, “Wrap your shit tight!” might be the way Ambrose Redmoon put it, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear."

I have a memory that sparkles around the edges: a bluebird day, sunny skies, fresh dusting of snow. My friend Ethan and I tucked off the Alpine Bowl chair, stayed high along the ridge, and hiked up the knoll to where we could drop into Keyhole. Two young men were standing at the edge just below us, skis off, thwack thwacking. I’d seen the conditions when I traversed the ridge, and everything looked perfect to me. I saw the beautiful run I was going to have, pictured it in my mind. And I didn’t even take my skis off. I didn’t even stop. I just launched right over.

When Ethan caught up, I pulsed with calm exhilaration. “What about the landing?” he asked. “Weren’t you worried you’d miss that first turn and hit the rock?” I told him what for that split second I had understood: that I could make a conscious choice to look toward the possibilities, instead of toward my fears.

I talked to the principal on the phone today, and she is arranging the meeting. Here’s to embracing it as an opportunity. Who knows, maybe the book thing will go well too. Maybe I can even blog. Two, even three times a week. So no more thwacking. I’m walking back to my skis and clicking in. I’m giving the thumbs-up sign to my buddy as I re-arrange my goggles. Deep breath, the snow is perfect wind-blown, a push and a half-skate to get some momentum, and here I go, flying over the edge.

To go to my main website home page, please click here.


  1. I think we can all use a little reminder now and again to wrap our shit tight.

    But Sophia, everyone is going to love you and the book. They already do!

  2. Thank you Kayt. your encouragement, and those of others, makes for a soft landing. In any case, I'm not going to let my various fears stop me from jumping...

  3. OMG, Sophia--this post could've come from my own brain (except I don't ski).

    I am ON FIRE to read your book...your columns laid me out flat, and you and I share the tank-top-in-the-post-gym humiliation, though you made tastier hay out of it than I did, I must concede.

    Hope to meet you when I spin through the SF Bay Area. Take comfort. I'm a hard-sell on mil.spouse writing, and I join Kayt in the undiluted Sophia love. You are so freakin' good, there can be nothing but success for you.

  4. Hmmm... Lily, are you real? Is "Lily" an alias for someone in my writing group? I'm kidding... (mostly). Lily, THANK YOU! You made my day.


Hi - Thanks for commenting on my blog! I want this site to be a place to gather stories and experiences and to share ideas on how we can overcome differences in all of our important relationships. In that spirit, civil discourse only please.
A note: Please don't use my husband's or children's real names in your comment. I try to afford them a modicum of privacy. Their pseudonyms are Barrett, Niko, and Gabriella. THANK YOU!