A Door Unopened

A Door Unopened
Knock, knock...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Passport Picture

Yesterday I had a passport photo taken. My old passport has expired and the Huzby wants me to be ready to be whisked away to foreign destinations at a moment's notice. Romantic, no? But don't get carried away. This is the same guy who is having conniptions over me being in the house as an unemployed while he works from his home study. It's not the unemployed part that's bothering him, it's the fact that he can only handle sharing the house with the dogs while he's working. So I ambled over to Costco after having spent the past four days in an intensive writing workshop with Tom Jenks--the iconic oracle of literature, editor-in-chief and founder of Narrative magazine--and 11 other workshop warriors (worriers?).

A snap. A flash. An outlay of 5.44$. I came back 45 minutes later to see the result.

It must be in a rule book somewhere. There is an edict that reads: All passport photos must make the bearer look criminal, downtrodden or significantly worse than they do in real life.

The face staring back at me looks haggard. As the lens captures her, this woman whom I sadly identify as myself, should be thinking of trips to Italy. She should be daydreaming of white sand beaches and azure seas, or traveling to Tanzania to photograph exotic creatures, or diving in the Maldives and seeing the wonders under the warm water, or hiking in British Columbia and watching grizzlies scoop salmon out of streams. She should be imagining sipping Malbec in Buenos Aires while watching a couple dance a smoldering tango in the heat of December. She should be envisioning making love to her travel addicted husband on a sun drenched bed with the curtains open wide as the ocean flips and flails in the vista, mirroring their own gymnastics.

But she doesn't seem to be thinking any of those things. What she's thinking is that she's tired and she'd like to take a nap. She's wondering if she'll ever succeed, really succeed, at story telling. This bothers her quite a bit because it's something she really wants to achieve. She knows there's a certain amount of belief in one's self that's required but there's also a certain amount of natural talent needed as well. She wonders if she has either thing going for her on this Monday because she's had four consecutive days of up and down, back and forth, moments of epiphany and moments of density--her own thick skull. She's also wondering when she's going to find gainful employment again and how she will survive the irritation and surliness her husband is flogging her with in the interim.

On the up side, here's what she doesn't look: beaten. She hasn't given up. She has hope; she'll keep going and working in what she believes is a forward path. But she needs to rest and absorb, to allow Jenks' judgements to trickle down, percolate and intercollate. And she needs to find a job so her husband can sink back into his normal level of grumpiness and ditch the testy truculence that has lately been steamrolling her.

For the coming decade, I'll have this picture on my passport to remind me of how it feels to be on the brink. Understanding it is one thing, successfully executing as a result of understanding is another thing all together. Half of me is hopeful while the other half despairs. In a sense, I'm a human pushmi-pullyu. But regardless of my success or lack thereof at creative writing, I'm thinking a job can't be too far off in the future. Right?

For more information on Tom Jenks' most excellent workshops:


  1. I love this. You are not on the "brink" you are on the "threshold" and there are a couple of us holding your hand. We're going to take that leap together.

  2. just for the record, i did not sign on to work in the same place as my wife. it doesn't mean that i don't love her.

  3. Your wife loves you too. She didn't sign on to work in the same place either but it is what it is right now and we make the best of it.

  4. And Cindy, yes! The leap. Whenever it feels right to go from the threshold to the foyer to the living room and so on...

  5. You are in transition. Persistence will always pay off. Something will bloom for you soon. The gap is the temporary killer if you don't fill it with potential lead-ins to other doors. Just as you always keep yourself occupied, and your brain stimulated, this is also serving as a great mode of self-therapy while the waiting game is putzing along. Hang tough. I can't wait for your eventual wall post on FB about your new "job."