birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Rule Identification 101

I never intended to break rules. I liked approval, so I tended to follow the rules that were clear to me. But a lot of them were either just too opaque, or seemed so inapplicable to my situation that I thought surely that fact would be obvious to all, and I’d be excused.

After a while I realized I was, in fact, breaking a lot of rules, applicable or not, and making people resentful. Seeing no way to do better, in self-defense I developed a bad attitude and took on the role of provocateur, which felt better than bootless failure. This didn’t end well. Ended, in fact, in a situation that looked very much like bootless failure.

So I began breaking another set of rules, the ones that have to do with being a failure. I blamed it on circumstances beyond my control, and on other people. I wasn’t humbled by my failure, I was emboldened and embittered by it. For years I rubbed other people’s noses in my mistakes. See?…I’d say. See how bad this all is? How unfair? How SO not my fault? Naturally I shed some friends and acquaintances during that time.

Lately I’ve begun to understand some of the rules that eluded me before. It’s so late in the day that it changes nothing in the big picture, but my ability to follow them does cast my past in a much more sympathetic light for most people. Such a nice woman!..they say. What a lot she's had to go through! And so did everyone who knew me.

Because I Didn’t Resist the Whirlwind in Time to Write This