WHICH ONE OF ME IS ME? – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #5

Behind the words for this prompt is a blurry, but genuine picture of a rare Pileated Woodpecker, the “you better believe it” Woody Woodpecker. I have seen this guy a few times and they are rare, but we have one living in our woods. He doesn’t come to the feeder. I’ve seen him working on a nearby tree and this time, I saw him fly past the deck and deep into the woods. I have a 900-mm lens on this camera, but that Woodpecker was WAY back in the woods and there were a million twigs and branches in front of him. So this is as good a picture as I could get. It’s pretty blurry, but at least I can say with some surety that I’m not delusional. We really have a gorgeous Pileated Woodpecker living in our backyard. If ONLY I could focus on him!

Another sort of view of our Pileated Woodpecker.

Is there anyone who is the same all the time? I know I was different at work than at home. Different at home than when out with friends. Different writing than not writing. Different talking to strangers than chatting with family.

Garry had two almost opposing personalities for work and non-work. He was aggressively outgoing in his professional life. He had to be because that was what the work required. Personally, he was quiet and sometimes shy, though over the years the two parts have fused and become more alike.

We all have more than one face, whether we realize it or not. I think writers notice it more than non-writers. One of the great joys of writing for me is having the opportunity to clean up reality. Not scour it smooth, but get rid of the dust on the edges and smooth out the lumps in the middle. I figure we all tidy up reality as we write.

This isn’t a diary. I see no reason to expose everything going on in my sometimes very wacko brain.

The writing “me” is a more thoughtful “me.” In real life, I’m crabbier and more tired. Writing is painless; reality isn’t. Real me is in a lot of pain most of the time and could use a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, real and writing me has a great sense of humor. Even when I believe I’m dying, the idea is too hilarious to ignore. I almost tore my newly reworked heart out because I couldn’t stop laughing. Did you know it really hurts to laugh after major surgery?

Besides, I can’t be dead. Who’d write my blog?

I work at not talking about what’s bothering me. No one likes a whiner. I don’t even like me when I whine, so I certainly don’t want to put it all into print.

Sadly, the pain is probably the thing I spend the most time cleaning up. I wish cleaning it up as a writer would make it go away for real.

What might be the most interesting change since I began blogging 7 years ago (without the foggiest idea of what I wanted to do — or why) is how much clearer I am in my writing goals. I know what I’m writing. I know what effect it will have. I even know when what I am planning to say is going to piss a lot of people off.

Sometimes, I just need to piss people off. It’s part of the wacko thing.

TO KNOW OR NOT? PROVOCATIVE QUESTION 4 – Marilyn Armstrong

Fandango’s Provocative Question #4

Knowing and Not Knowing


Is it better to know or not? Well … don’t you think that it’s a matter of what you are talking about?

If the question is “what am I getting for my birthday, I probably shouldn’t know, though usually if I do know I can at least get it in the right size. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure it won’t fit. My beloved husband is sure I’m at least three sizes smaller than I really am. I appreciate the thought, but that sweater is NOT going to fit!

On the other hand, I really want to know if my chimney is about to fall down. I want to know if strange animals are taking up residence in my attic or basement. Because I have to fix those things. Not knowing will ultimately make the problem worse.

I learned several things over the past few days.

We do not have any more mice. They are all dead and gone. We have to keep after them because we have a warm cozy house in the middle of a cold woods, but for the nonce, no mice. Phew.

The ants are gone too. So are the stink bugs and those puffy weird many-legged things.

Duke the dog is the healthiest living dog on the planet and he needs to be walked, even though he runs like the wind most of the time. That’s definitely a Garry job and this is an unfortunate time to try to deal with it. It is getting very cold, very fast. It will be snowy before the weekend. We have no sidewalks, no lights, and no safe place to walk without driving into town to a park … and once it snows, they don’t clear the pathways. This may have to wait until spring.

Unless winter decides to not come at all and suddenly, it’s summer again. Which I would usually say couldn’t happen, but lately, who knows?

There are no seasons, there are no patterns. There’s just strange weather and more rain than we’ve had ever in recorded weather history, about 150 years.

Portrait of the beast

So the dog, having been to the vet, is healthy, very smart, and has a lot of Lhasa Apso and Boston Terrier in there … plus something else. All Asian dog DNA. Except for Tinker the Thinker, the Duke is probably our smartest ever dog.

We have to get him something called a martingale which is a low-level choke collar. Can’t put a gentle leader on him for two amusing reasons. First, his snout is too short. All that Asian dog flat-faced DNA … and because the vet says he’d figure out how to remove it in about 5 seconds. Maybe less.

Smart dog.

“Hey,” she said, “I rescued a whack dog too. He’d been returned to the shelter twice. If I didn’t take him, no one would. So he’s crazy, wild, and mine.”

I suggested maybe more Prozac.

“For you?” she suggested. I nodded. I don’t think anything will calm him down, but if I get calm enough, it won’t matter.


Despite my continuing attempts to make my life easier, I seem to be making it more complicated. Maybe “simple” isn’t for me. Maybe I need to be busy and mentally involved.

Each time I think I know who and what I am, I discover whatever I knew was yesterday’s information. By the time I know something, I’m already well on my way to becoming someone else. I am always becoming someone else. There’s no end to it and maybe that’s as it should be, at least for me.

To know or not to know?

I doubt there is a sensible answer to that. I need to know what I need to know. How can I know whether or not I need to know something — anything — until I already have enough data on which to make a reasoned choice?