This is me, Gwenn Mangine. Or at least my current theory.
A few weeks ago I took down the content on my blog. I didn’t trash it entirely. I just archived it. The mechanism by which I did this was moving everything I’d written over the past 12 years back to draft form. Why? Well, because as I’ve written in the past, everything I’ve written so far was only my current theory at the time. It’s all a draft, isn’t it?
As the years have passed, I have loved looking back on my journey. And blogging for the past 12 years has been a great way to remember so many of the things I would have otherwise forgotten. And I want to keep this tradition going. But there are many things I’ve said during the past 12 years that, well, frankly, I don’t really believe anymore. My thoughts and beliefs have evolved quite a bit and well, I just want some time to re-read and re-evaluate that journey. Additionally, I have been guilty, especially during the Haiti years, of telling stories that I am now not sure were mine to tell. This includes, but is not limited to, stories and pics of: my children, our foster kids, the earthquake, the camps people lived in after the earthquake, and my staff in Haiti. And probably other things too. I made the mistake of thinking that I was in the center of a lot of the stories for which I was actually just adjacent. It's a rookie mistake-- especially in cross-cultural work and in parenting.
Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I want to take a critical look back at those stories and see if they are really mine to tell. If so, maybe they will show back up. If not, I need to check in with the people that are in the story, and get their explicit permission to share pieces of *their* story. If I can’t get that, all I can say at this point is that I am sorry. When you know better, you do better.
Our family did have experiences over the past 12 years that “belong” to us. And how our lives have intersected with other people’s stories are also partially ours. But I want to be more committed to good story-telling. And part of that, especially as a white person, is to realize what I do and do not have a right to tell.
As of the day I took my blog down a couple of weeks ago, I had a total of 1,290,253 page views over 12 years. Thanks for reading. But now I feel like it’s time to re-read some of that (without the public gaze-- however small that may be), and try to make some observations. How does all that I’ve lived and decided to share publicly hold up to the test of time? I guess I will see.
So, since this is a fresh start, I thought I’d tell you 13 things about me that are currently true. There’s more things that are true, but here’s the first 13 that come into my mind.
- I am 42 years old and I love being in my 40s. So many fewer fucks to give at this age. I can’t say I have no fucks to give (yet), but the number is steadily decreasing daily.
- I adore Nick Mangine. We’ve been married for almost 19 years and I still just adore him. I know a lot of people say that about their spouse. But I actually mean it. He is the best human being I know, and while we don’t always see eye-to-eye on everything, I trust the person he is and his intentions. All of my eggs are in his basket, so to speak.
- I love tattoos. I think they are hella sexy and if money weren’t an issue, I’d have a lot more. I think I genuinely like tattooed people better than non-tattooed people. So I guess that’s just an impetus for you non-inked people to think about it. Because then I might like you more. (For the record, however, I do not like face tattoos… so don’t get one of those trying to win me over to friendship because it will backfire).
- My relationship with faith and religion is complicated. I used to (very strongly) self-identify as an evangelical Christian. I no longer do. I believe there is a God. But I am a little iffy on the rest. It’s currently a work in progress.
- I believe in therapy. I have been in and out of therapy for most of my adult life. I love therapy. It seems excessive and expensive, and while on a visit-to-visit-basis I wonder if it’s really doing anything, I can look back and see how much I’ve grown. I think that an increased knowledge of self has helped me to live a better story.
- I believe that Black lives matter. No qualifiers.
- I love people, but I also love alone time. I used to say that I was extremely extroverted. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I love being around people and it does give me energy, but I can only stand it for a certain period of time and then I want everyone to leave me alone. I will fondly remember the time we spent together, but I will also go to bed with people still at the party because I can’t hang.
- I am a passionate person. A big feeler. Everything feels really big to me-- whether good or bad, I feel it a lot. Therapy (see #5) has helped me learn to live in this reality with some rounder edges, but I am always going to feel big.
- I have a lot of kids. Four to be precise but it feels like a lot more most days. I also helped to parent eight foster kids for an extended period of time, so I have seen some stuff. While I don’t enjoy all aspects of parenting, I love my children so much it hurts. And it’s been a great way to learn how selfish I am. So there’s that.
- I am a terrible sick person. When I am sick, I am awful. I own that. Send your thoughts and prayer to Nick if you ever get news I’ve come down with something.
- I love good food. I love trying new restaurants and recipes with friends. I am a part of a cooking club where I am always trying new things. I love sharing a meal with friends. Food is also my oldest and fiercest enemy. But I am working on that.
- I love to go to bed early. 9pm is great, 8:30 would be better.
- I’m a fighter. I am not at peace when people are suffering. It spurs me to action and it’s one of my best traits.
I would love to hear about your current theories and things that are true about you. Hit me up on email (nickandgwenn(at)gmail.com), or on FB (Gwenn Goodale Mangine), if you’d like to weigh in.