Fixer in recovery

Nine years later, I’m still a fixer in recovery. For me, the most difficult thing is that I am paid in my professional life to fix all the things. To manage literal millions of dollars a year and abide by all the variable state and federal mandates. I’ve told you before that I’m a Faux Chaos Muppet. Or, as my wife said when we were first dating, “Don’t let her front like she’s chill about things.”

I am. Occasionally. Chill about things.

But it has taken a lot of practice.

I sit now and listen to my wife’s stories, and don’t interject advice or suggestions. I listen. She’ll ask for my input if she needs it. I know she’s perfectly capable to handle anything and everything. I know that the way she handles it will be different from the way I would handle it. Because, you know, she isn’t me.

It has taken me decades to understand this fundamental truth: there are a lot of ways to get shit done.

The early years of our marriage were ridiculous power struggles. You can’t put two alphas in a relationship and expect things to be simple. Especially if they are parents.

In retrospect, it’s one of my favorite things about our marriage. That we have to adjust our power all the time. We check in about chores and schedules and plans for the future. She knows that if we are hanging with the grandkid, I will always keep the kid safe, and never try to parent her. I know Mary’ll show up when I need her to show up, but I don’t ever assume it. I ask. I listen.

I let things be messier than I’m comfortable with because mess is not the end of the fucking world.

I don’t make plans if I haven’t checked in with my family about their interest and availability.

Stated another way, I see being a fixer as buying into patriarchy. This idea that there is a correct answer, and one person should take the lead in every scenario.

I didn’t get married to be less myself. I got married because I found someone who made being me easier and more resonant. I am more essentially myself because I’m married to Mary. I am better at trusting you to bring your best intentions. I am better at trusting myself to chill.

Anything might happen doesn’t seem like a curse now. It seems like marvelous potential. Anything might happen! You might even enjoy it, you faux chaos muppet. You might throw your arms way up above your head and start thrashing with joy.

1 thought on “Fixer in recovery”

  1. Jill!!!!

    So awesome!!!!

    I wish that the very specifc task of “negotiating household chores – distribution, delivery, and fairness” was taught in schools.

    It might be harder for you both to negotiate because you are both strong women with strong opinions.

    I think, more than anything else, the hubs and I argue about chores. I do the laundry and 5/7 days of cooking and cleaning up and child rearing and and and. I start to feel like a fucking Martyr on the Cross of the Intersection Between Being a Modern Woman and the Straitjacket of Traditional Gender Roles.

    It’s awful. Letting go is hard but necessary. Love you both!

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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