A Happy First Birthday to Wild Trumpet Vine


Just about a year ago, Wild Trumpet Vine was launched.  My husband helped me set up the domain and get started.  Without my Chief Technology Officer, I could not have entered the blogosphere, and I owe him thanks.

That first night, in a fit of inspiration, I composed the following two elegant sentences:

Welcome to my blog.  Please check back soon for new entries.

Since I was a kid, I’ve dabbled at writing, in fits and starts, rarely to satisfactory completion.  As I’ve said before, I’m a saver, an archivist of minutiae.  Boxes of messy, scribbled-over, food-stained pages document countless abandoned writing projects.  These fall into several phases, including the Smith-Corona period from high school and college, the IBM Selectric era (when my mother’s office upgraded, we purchased her old typewriter), and the Mac Plus/dot matrix printer years during grad school.  (When I bought my first PC, which had a screen somewhat smaller than the original Kindle, the Internet was hardly more than a vague, crackpot notion.)

Most of my writing, in addition to being fragmentary and unfinished, remains unread, except very briefly, by me. There is the exception, I hope, of the many letters to friends and family.  I turned these out at a particularly quick pace during my first job at the High Museum of Art.  I was a fast typist (this was my only real marketable skill), and after transcribing my boss’s letters, there was usually time to pursue my own voluminous correspondence.  I was in my twenties, my social life was active, and dear friends were newly scattered across the country.  Those were the days when I had much of consequence to report, and much on which to comment.  My letters were a substitute for the immediacy and intimacy of college life, together with friends, face-to-face, every day.

I almost forgot: there is one real writing project I did complete: my Ph.D. dissertation in art history, which is 345 pages long, accompanied by 150 pages of appendices and 289 photographs. It includes every obscure scintilla of information anyone could ever care to learn about a group of 14th-century English Apocalypse manuscripts. Most people, of course, are perfectly happy knowing absolutely nothing about these books. My tour de force was read by at least five people, my advisers. I’m sure of this because they scrutinized and questioned nearly every word during the four long years it took me to write it. My mother claims that she also read it. Now, impressively bound, the three volumes lead a life of quiet retirement on the bookshelves of our family room.

Other than my foray into medieval manuscript illumination, what I’ve always written about is daily life, and Wild Trumpet Vine continues along this course.  I learned decades ago that I have neither the imagination nor the inclination to write fiction. Even today, in sedate suburban middle age, I am impressed by the richness that day-to-day living throws my way. I marvel at life’s quirks, its absurd, unexpected turns, its unbelievable coincidences, its oddities and its unpredictable moments of intense sweetness, when meaning is glimpsed in the midst of nonsense, and love triumphs over cruelty.

Wild Trumpet Vine is, in some sense, a more efficient version of my letter-writing.  It refreshes existing links of friendship and family.  Because I have many more years under my belt, my friends are more numerous, and far more scattered, than ever. With marriage, my family network has expanded considerably.  I used to be an only child, now I have multiple brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews.  The blog has worked to strengthen long-standing family ties, as well.  Growing up, I knew many cousins only in name.  Now, building on the bonds of kinship and the power of shared memories, we’re  enjoying the blessing of friendship.

My little blog has a further advantage over letter writing:  it encourages a wider, stronger web of connectedness. When new acquaintances, or friends of friends, are  moved to comment, it is typically to say I know what you mean!  I feel the same way!  Their feedback emphasizes the depths of our common experience.  Differences of culture and background–the details that may separate us–tend to fade away as the light of our humanity shines through.

To all those who join me, either regularly or occasionally, at Wild Trumpet Vine, I thank you.  Your comments are always welcome–you needn’t agree with me to respond.  Stick with me as we continue the journey.