Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tuesdays with Viny

Dearest Readers,

I know, I know: I'm completely subverting the “advice column” paradigm I've set up here, but I have an important announcement to make.

Drumroll, please....

I have decided to write a post every week, whether or not I have a letter to answer. Today officially marks the first installment of Tuesdays with Viny.

(Note: I read something yesterday about how it's important not to tell others about your goals, because research since the 1930's has apparently confirmed that people who share their goals are less likely to achieve them. So I would just like to state, for the record, that writing a post every Tuesday is a plan, not a goal.)

So, a little bit about how this is going to work:

No, I won't be changing the name of my blog. It's still going to be called Dear Viny. And I'll continue to post responses to people who've written in with questions, of course. I do respond to every letter I get, at least briefly, even though I don't post every exchange on my blog. It's just that I no longer want my content to be so limited by my form. I am looking forward to exploring topics I think are relevant and interesting, even if no one else is talking about them (yet). So, as always, dearest readers, please feel free to communicate with me. I'd love to hear from you, whether or not you need advice – you're most welcome to give me topic suggestions, or share your own perspective about something I've said, or ask for clarification, or whatever.

Now that I've gotten the big announcement out of the way, let me tell you how the idea of Dear Viny was first conceived, just 'cause I've been feeling all nostalgic and reflective lately (prolly has to do with the fact that my eighteen-year-old son will be heading off to college in a few months...sniff, sniff).

Dear Viny actually has three “parents” – isn't that just perfectly apropos?

1) My previous blog, Viny's Little Black Book, which I retired right before moving to Portland in June of 2011. When I began that blog, I had no intention of keeping it going indefinitely, and it was a relief to write the concluding post. There is something really disconcerting about putting one's private life – and the lives of family, friends, and lovers – on display, even in anonymous/pseudonymous mode. However, after few months went by, I found myself really missing that particular writing relationship. So I started a new blog under my real name, a totally-safe-for-work series of meta-musings on writing and creativity, but I quickly bored of the project. I was craving juice, not some recursive postmodern frappe served by up by mimes in ironic hats.

2) My envy of Cheryl Strayed. I had just read Wild (this was before the movie was even announced). Wild is about Strayed's adventures hiking the Pacific Crest Trail – which I happen to've hiked with my husband in 1994. Well, okay, we hiked part of it: 1,100 miles, north to south, from Ashland, Oregon, to just south of Mount Whitney in California. I kept a detailed journal on that journey, and had always thought that I might one day use it in my writing somehow. But now it was too late: Cheryl Strayed had already planted her flag in that fertile ground. Then I read Tiny, Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. That book is a collection of letters Strayed wrote while working as an advice columnist for The Rumpus. Another me-shaped niche fully occupied by Cheryl Strayed. The lady had not only managed to beat me to my book about the PCT, but she'd also managed to land my dream job. Well, fuck, I thought, what does the world need me for? It's got Cheryl. (Classic green-eyed monster malarky, for sure.)

3) Getting asked, for the third time in a week, for relationship advice by someone I hardly knew. Ever since I decided to start “coming out” as polyamorous (my version of polyamorous, anyway – we can quibble about terms 'til the cows come home, but who really wants to be standing in semantic bullshit at sunset?), I have been fielding relationship questions nearly nonstop – or so it sometimes seems. Let's say I go to coffee with an acquaintance, and the subject of some sex scandal comes up, and I mention that my spouse and I are not monogamous. That, in fact, I am happily involved in more than one long-term, committed relationship. The initial response is usually something like, “Oh, really? Huh, that's...interesting,” followed by a blank look, as they “check out” of the conversation in order to process this bizarre bit of trivia. More often than not, the very next meaningful thing out of their mouths is some kind of intimate confession. It might take two minutes, or it might take two weeks, but when they are ready to check back in, they often have a secret to share. It's odd. Saying, “I'm in an open marriage” is apparently the emotional, relational equivalent of saying “open sesame”: utter the magic words, and people reveal themselves.

So, put those three things together – I missed writing in my little black book; I realized it was absurd to think there wasn't enough room for me and Cheryl in this great big world; I was reminded that there are people out there who might value my perspective and appreciate my help – and presto!

Maybe another time, on some Tuesday in the future, I'll share some highlights from Dear Viny's first couple of years. I know y'all can't wait! ;-)

Exit polls & Jellyrolls,

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