Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishing for everything, committing to nothing (Happy New Year)

"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions." ~Joey Adams

I am trying to come up with a list of things that I want to do/accomplish in 2009 but I'd hate to post something that would leave concrete evidence of me failing. I'm more the type that keeps a mental list that can be easily erased, forgotten or revised at any time to suit my purposes. I am not ashamed to say that lists of things to do make me nervous. Whenever I do have the forethought to create one, I usually leave it behind me when I set off to do what needs to get done or I simply just lose it on purpose so I have a ready made excuse for coming up short.

I'm aiming for lots of happiness in 2009 for myself and for my loved ones. And good health, too. I want to read more, to never stop learning because I've found an idle mind breeds discontent. I'm hoping I can find a way to incorporate some of my dormant dreams into reality. I will need much courage for that, and so I'm aiming to reach deep down inside and find that, too, dust it off and use it. I want to remember to look at each day as the gift that it is and do things in the span of each day that will make me proud of how I am living my life. I want to make myself a priority, which I never do, but I think I deserve it now that my children are pretty much grown. I want to keep writing because it feels necessary for me to write things down, even if no one is reading--it's the part of me that says the most about me, even when I am guarded. Mostly, I just want to live another year so that I can come back here next year and wish for another.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008


" When our relatives are at home, we have to think of all their good points or it would be impossible to endure them." ~George Bernard Shaw'm trying to enjoy all the togetherness we're having around here lately. There's not one quiet place to go to, not one space that isn't littered with someone's "stuff." I remind myself that a clean house isn't what's important in life, even though I've spent so much time lately getting everything organized. I hate thinking that was all a waste of time, but maybe I can get back there again when everyone goes back to school and back to work. I do love sleeping in and not having anything specific to do or anywhere specific to go. That's nice. We went to Outback Steakhouse tonight and we never go out to eat on Monday's, so that's a plus. I count the pros and the cons of having everyone here every minute of the day and I tell myself that what's most important in life is FAMILY. I'll finish the book I've been trying to finish some other time. I've got "little drives up the road" to take with my husband...

Christmas was wonderful. I can't believe it's over already. I will keep my tree up at least another week because it makes me happy. I received some great gifts, two of my favorites being paintings that my son and my daughter painted for me (my children are all so multi-talented that it's not funny--they did not get it from me--I can't draw a stick figure to save my life (and I wasn't so great at sports either and they are natural athletes)--but they have it all--and I am so lucky they are mine!!! The artistic and athletic genes skipped right on over me. I must give my husband his due, he was a professional athlete at one point, so I know they get a lot of it from him (and my father who was an Allstar athlete). My mother has athletic genes on her side, too. I have a cousin who played professional baseball. It's tough being so ordinary among such greatness, but I'm a great cheerleader and everyone needs a great cheerleader sitting somewhere on the sidelines sending positive vibes, or comforting words when needed.

I'm sort of like Mary Poppins. I swoop in and save the day, and make everyone's life easier so that they can be the greatest people ever.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Burning the city down to show you the light

"The important thing is not to stop questioning." ~Albert Einstein

My in laws are very good to my children and my husband. They are so thoughtful and loving. Watching how down-to-earth and generous they are makes me want to be more like them. Family is very important to them and they'd do anything for those that they love.

For some reason, however, they do not seem to like me. I don't know if it's something I've done or some unconscious signal I send off to them that has caused this. I've searched my head and my heart but I can't come up with anything. If I'm in a room with them--they speak to me like I'm an acquaintance--not part of the family. I try not to let this get under my skin, but mostly it lives under my skin, where it always feels hot to the touch.

Here are some of the ways they have made it clear to me that I live on the periphery of their lives:

They never recognize my birthday with a card while everyone else gets cards and presents. I know it's silly to want a card from them, but I do. I send them cards for their birthdays and sign my husband's name as well as the children's. If I left it up to my husband, they wouldn't receive a thing. I could be hateful and retaliate by not sending them cards but I try hard not to be blatantly hateful to people who are so good to everyone but me.

The first year we lived in FL, they sent a box filled with Christmas presents down to us. Upon opening the box, there were at least 5 presents apiece for everyone and there was one gift for me. It was an ugly brown candle and my MIL put a note inside the box that said, "here's a little remembrance for you." WTF? I took that candle and put it in my sitting room and every night I would light that sucker and think to myself, "here's a little remembrance for you." As long as I live, I will never forget that candle or that little note she sent. Each night, I felt like the flickering flame was mocking me, but I was determined to burn it down into nothingness and I did.

Whenever they call here and I pick up the phone, they do not say hello to me, they simply ask for one of the favored members of the family (either my husband or the children). Afterwards, I tell my husband how insulting it is that they cannot even acknowledge me with a hello and he explains it away by saying, "they don't mean anything by it, they're just getting old." I can't wait until I am old enough to blame everything on old age because it seems like it's a great excuse for getting away with things you'd normally be held accountable for in the real world.

When we used to live near them, we'd visit them and as soon as we entered their house, they'd ask everyone what they wanted to drink or eat and they'd pretty much ignore me. I got served last.

Then this Christmas, my MIL sends envelopes with checks for everyone but me. I don't care about the money--what bothers me is that my MIL doesn't think about how I might feel seeing everyone getting something but me--seeing everyone's name on the outside of an envelope but mine. I mean, what goes through her head when she's doing stuff like this? It makes me feel invisible. It makes me feel not good enough. I could not hold myself back from saying something on Christmas Day about this--that I just don't get how they make it so glaringly obvious that they do not like me. My husband told me that I was over reacting, and that OF COURSE they love me. I guess I'm just a little slow picking up the love signals. All I wanted to hear from my husband was, "you know something, you're right, it's a rotten thing to do (or NOT do)," but it seems that not only do I have to put up with their constant slighting of me, but I must not be outraged or say anything about it or I'm labeled "super-sensitive" or it is implied that I am too clueless to know that being left out translates into me being loved. Right.

My parents send my husband presents and cards on his birthday and on Christmas. I wonder what they would think if they knew that my in laws repeatedly ignore me. I would hope they would think it is horrible but I'm not ever going to tell them because I don't want them feeling sorry for me. It's an indignity I'd rather bear alone. And since it's uncool for me to talk about this anywhere, I'll talk about it here where I know none of them will ever find me.

Because they are so kind and generous to everyone else, I feel it's my place to find happiness in seeing THEM be happy and I'm so endlessly grateful that they have each other. I find comfort in that. When I first met them (many years ago) I was so excited to think I'd be a part of their little world where love felt pure and limitless and safe--like a secret treasure you want to hold onto forever. It's like I'm stuck on the outside looking in, wondering what it is that stops them from loving me the way they love everyone else.

I am old enough and wise enough to know that you cannot make someone love you if they don't but that doesn't make it any easier to accept. I think the distance between us helps. I do not have it in my face so much anymore--just on occasion--and I can sneak away if it feels like too much so that I can gather my wits together and pretend I don't really care. In another life, I was probably an actress of some sort. I can pull off fake ok-ness like nobody's business.

Despite all this, I can truly say that I love them for all that they've been and done for the rest of my family. I'm happy they have each other to count on and to love. I know our lives are richer for having them in it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

May your hearts be light

"May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love."~Author Unknown

I went out to do a little last minute shopping today (it's the way I do Christmas). There were two incidents that threatened my holiday spirit: 1.) I held open the door for a young man who was pushing his child in a stroller and he walked by me and didn't say THANK YOU, so I shouted after him, "YOU'RE WELCOME!!!" I mean, give me a break. I was busy and could have let the door slam shut but I wanted to be kind and he couldn't even say thank you. Sometimes I can't stand people!!! and 2.) I was driving down the road and an accident had occurred and I was trying to shift into the left lane (I had my blinkers on) because the right lane was blocked and I counted 6 cars go by before anyone would allow me to merge in (everyone else pretended I was invisible!!). So much for good will among men. At that point I decided that I would head home and have my husband take me out to lunch to cheer me up but when I arrived home, he was gone--to get a haircut and buy a few presents, so I quickly ate one of those Jello pudding cups and headed back out to shop. I had better luck later in the afternoon. No more unpleasant encounters. My Christmas spirit is back intact.

I am currently trying to muster up the enthusiasm to wrap presents. Ugh. I find it such a waste of time but I know it has to be done. I also have not baked even one Christmas cookie this year (for us anyway--I did bake some a week ago for some pre-school kids). I'm not going to stress about it, though, because we have plenty to eat and that's the main thing.

I have everyone home again and it fills me with happiness. The house is alive with music, laughter and occasional bickering and I'm loving it all.

I'm going to be busy being busy the next couple of days but I wanted to wish everyone a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Newsflash: I was born, but I was not born yesterday

Last night my husband asked me if it was alright if he bought me a recliner for Christmas. Um...sounds like a present for him under the guise of being a present for me, especially since I've never expressed any interest in getting a recliner whereas he mentions at least once a week how he'd like one.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The sacred is in the ordinary

"The great lesson is that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbours, friends, and family, in one's backyard." - Abraham Maslow

I was going to write about the reply I got from my daughter's teacher today but I've allowed that woman to take up too much of my time today and so I will write about that another time.

Instead, I will talk about dribbling brightly colored lights among the bushes out front. I love Christmas lights--colored, preferably, but white will do in a pinch and on a mantel decorated with my favorite Christmas things.

I found the star for the top my tree and the tree skirt so I did not have to go out and purchase new ones. The old me would rush out and buy new things without thinking, but the new me wants to live a simpler life--and what could be more simple than taking the time to find things you know you have but can't find because you have so much stuff? I could seriously open some sort of store with all the stuff I've accumulated over the course of my life. I wish I knew then what I know now--that things are just things and the only importance they hold is the importance you assign them yourself.

My son is on his way home from college and we're thinking of decorating his room with Christmas lights to welcome him. I'm so excited to see him again. It feels like years and like just yesterday that he went away...if that makes sense--long and short at the same time.

There are days when it seems the fates are conspiring to drive me crazy and I fight to keep positive. On those days I look for the little things to bring me happiness--like a strand of colored lights, or the thought of my son coming back home to us.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Productive living

My house is looking awesomely awesome. I am almost all done with the painting and I have to say that it looks like a professional came in and did the job. I even did all the baseboards and trim, which was tedious, but I'm so happy with the results. Everything is so clean and sharp. I'm so used to doing the same things day in and day out without anyone ever noticing and it was so nice to do something I felt really proud about, something I got excited about doing even though it got a little boring at times. I blared the ITUNES or listened to Rush on talk radio and time flew. I think I rock as a painter.

I got our Christmas tree today. It was small enough that I could carry it and fit it in my car (actually I got the guy at Home Depot to carry it for me), but I did drag it out of the car and into the house and put the whole thing up myself. I can't find my star or my tree skirt, so I'll have to go buy new ones tomorrow, but the tree looks good and smells spectacular. Of course it's about 60 degrees out today so the "feel" of Christmas is missing but I'm sure if I wait a few days, it'll get cold again.

I had to write another letter today...this time to one of my daughter's teachers. She is taking an elective course in "volunteering" and apparently the teacher told another class that the class my daughter is in (along with about 5 other girls) were "incompetent fools with behavioral problems." Excuse me? My daughter hasn't missed a day of school for sickness in all her high school years, gets straight A's, takes all AP and gifted courses, has played on a VARSITY tennis team since freshman year, and ranks in the top ten percent of her senior class (out of over 1,000 students) and this woman has the nerve to call her incompetent? I don't think so. I have spoken before about my disdain for public school teachers and if I had to do it again, I would have sent all my children to private schools. Public schools are all about stamping out the individuality of students in favor of mass producing cookie cutter kids. This might serve kids well in high school, but it sucks for dealing in the REAL WORLD. I tell my children to stand up for themselves and speak out for themselves and when my daughter DOES, she gets told that "things aren't up for discussion and to be quiet." Screw that. I tell her they are miserable people and when she's successful she won't have them to thank because they failed her on so many levels. Just because someone is in a position of authority over you doesn't mean you have to sit back and let them try to tear you down.

I also wrote a letter to the owner of the plumbing company who screwed me over. I let it all rip out of me because I know how I am and if I do not let someone know when I am bothered, I can't stop obsessing over it or forget about it. So I write. Once the letters go out, I feel somewhat free of the obsession. It's like I need to get it all out of me and then I can move on--at least sort of. Anyway, I'm big on writing letters/notes/emails lately. You know you've crossed the line and gotten on my bad side if you get a letter from me.

I'm off to watch Nancy Grace.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sideline experts

Sideline experts can be found with their butts planted firmly in their chairs on the sidelines somewhere shouting advice and criticism like it's going out of style. The first time I had the "pleasure" of encountering this species, I was at a sporting event (can't remember which one at this point). Perfectly normal parents turn into people YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW when they are sitting on the sidelines. I used to sit among them and cringe or try to ignore their antics, but that proved to be of little help because sideline experts WANT TO BE HEARD. Anyway, the thing to remember about sideline experts is this: they never make a mistake or lose a game when they are sitting safely on the sidelines--they are incredibly perfect and knowledgeable while shouting their criticisms/advice out to those people ACTUALLY IN THE FIGHT DOING SOMETHING. It wasn't long before I found myself securing a spot away from the crowds when watching my children play sports. I did not care if I appeared aloof or antisocial or even snobbish because I felt any of those three descriptive terms would be preferable to being a SIDELINE EXPERT.

My husband has, on occasion, taken on the roll of a sideline expert, much to my chagrin. For as long as I have known him, on the day before Thanksgiving, he feels the need to tell me HOW TO CORRECTLY COOK A TURKEY SO THAT NONE OF US GET SICK AND DIE. It should be noted that no one has ever gotten sick from my cooking--EVER. It should also be noted that in the 26 years I've been married to him, he's NEVER COOKED A MEAL TO BE KNOWLEDGEABLE ENOUGH TO TELL ME HOW TO COOK A TURKEY. This annoys me to NO END. The first couple of times he did it, I let it pass without comment, but the last 7 years or so, I've told him to just shove it whenever he attempted giving me cooking tips on the turkey. I mean, he actually thinks I should take him seriously. It's completely insane. I told him to save that advice for himself the next time he buys a turkey and cooks it for us. Oh, and every night after we have Thanksgiving dinner he tells me that "next year we ought to just go out because it's just too much work for US!" Huh? Us? I mean, really. This is what I live with.

And now recently, I have taken on the task of painting the inside of our house. It's a big project, but there's something very calming about having a task ahead of me that takes patience. I like seeing the progress as I paint along--it makes me happy. My husband wanted to pay someone to do it but I'm confident I can paint walls with no problems. But all of the sudden, he's suddenly giving me painting tips--telling me what kind of roller I should be using, which way to paint the walls (up and down--not sideways!!), and that I need to use a drop cloth while I'm painting! Really? OMG. I never would have thought of using a drop cloth if he hadn't suggested it.

Anyway, the painting is coming along great despite my own personal sideline expert interfering at every turn.

Friday, December 5, 2008

This is what I want her to know

I think there are people that you never get over. I think if you love someone, really love someone, you give away a piece of your heart forever. And even though it's hard to learn to live without someone that you love, there's always a part of you that knows you would not have it any other way--you would not ever choose not loving someone to spare yourself a potential loss. It's hard to know what to do with the love you will always have for those people who have left your life for one reason or another. It's hard to fill the spaces left behind. It's difficult not to paint people who disappoint you in a bad light because it's natural for that sort of defense mechanism to kick in when you feel betrayed or abandoned. I think that the people you choose to love tells you a lot about yourself. I think that mostly it tells you not to spend even one second doubting your choices if your heart feels at home when you are with them--that finite time with the people that you love is better than no time at all--that love doesn't die on a schedule determined by other people, especially if your love is pure. I think there is no secret to getting over people you have loved because there are some people that you simply never get over.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

All good is NO GOOD

I hate plumbers. It all started yesterday when I noticed a constant drip coming from the shower head in my bathroom. I let it go overnight and when I woke up it was dripping even faster so I decided to call a plumber (which I got from the yellow pages). I was told someone would be at my home between 2-4 PM, so I waited around all day and finally at 5:45 two clowns show up at my door and I let them in. Mind you, I had been up since 4:50 AM this morning and simply wanted to get the leak fixed. The clowns took a look at my shower and told me that it was a cartridge that needed to be replaced so they leave to purchase one at Home Depot. Before leaving, they told me they needed to check the water pressure and when they did, I was told that my water pressure valve needed to be replaced so I quickly asked how much that was going to cost and was told a little over $350. I told them I would pass on that since I didn't want to spend the money on something I didn't really KNOW needed to be replaced. I mean, I had a drip in my shower and suddenly I need a new water pressure valve on top of that? I do not trust people who create more work for themselves (at my expense).

Anyhow, the clowns were gone until about 6:25 PM. Before they left I was told it would cost me $295 which I thought was WAY overpriced but since I'm not a plumber, what could I do? When the clowns come back I asked them if this was the standard price for replacing the cartridge and was told yes. I said I did not want to be ripped off and felt that the price was too high. I then asked how much the cartridge was (since he just bought it) and he actually hesitated a couple of times and said $30 or $40 dollars. Ok. Why wouldn't he know EXACTLY what the price was if HE JUST PURCHASED IT??? So then I asked if the labor was $250 and he told me yes it was but he seemed really flustered and told me "around there" when I questioned him about this which sort of sent some red flags up flying for me. I wanted the damn leak fixed so I told him to just get moving and fix it.

About ten minutes into a job that probably should have taken a total of 10 minutes, the clowns are in my bathroom and they can't unscrew something to get the old cartridge out so they are BANGING really hard on the pipe, and pulling at the valve REALLY HARD. It was all kinds of crazy and I felt this unease that they were hacking up the job. It takes the two of them to finally loosen it to get the cartridge out to replace it. They told me it was stuck because of mineral buildup. Whatever. He replaces the cartridge then has the other clown go turn the water back on and when he does, there's a whole bunch of gushing water and he tells me to tell the clown outside to turn the water off. He then informs me that he has to CUT A HOLE IN MY BEDROOM TO SEE WHERE IT'S LEAKING INSIDE THE WALL. OMG. What can I do? The carpet is all wet now and I'm freaking out because I think I'm doing the responsible thing by hiring a plumber to fix something I know I couldn't fix myself and NOW MY CARPETS ARE SOAKED AND HE HAS TO CUT A HOLE IN MY WALL!!!!

So he cuts the hole and then tells me that I need a new water valve because when he banged so hard to get the cartridge out, he broke it. He claimed that it wasn't installed properly in the first place but I call bullshit on that. I heard what he did to get the cartridge out and I knew instinctively that he was screwing something up (and I'm not even a plumber). So he then tells me a new valve is going to cost me OVER $600 (he actually went out to his van to get me a binder of his with prices in it but I'm pretty certain that if I went to buy the valve at Home Depot it would be under $100!!!), but he called his boss and since it wasn't my fault it broke and it wasn't HIS fault it broke (because now he was using the "it wasn't installed properly in the first place" excuse) that his boss agreed to give me a "DEAL" for the price of $495!!! I nearly hit the roof but I knew that would just create another hole that would need to be fixed so I decided to sit on my bed instead. I asked him if he was going to repair the hole in my wall as well (9x11) and his response was, "NO, I'm a plumber not a drywaller!!! OMFG! Mind you, the valve was working properly until he and the his cohort banged and pulled and jostled it around and BROKE IT!!!

The clowns then leave AGAIN to get the new water valve at Home Depot. While they were gone, I called the company and started complaining about what was going on and was told someone would call me back. The two clowns return with the valve at around 7:30 PM. When I got a call back, I explained the situation and the guy asked to speak to the clowns so I gave them my phone and when the phone got passed back to me, I was told that no one was taking advantage of me but that I was getting a deal. I screamed at him that it was clear that he wasn't going to help me and I hung up on him. Immediately afterwards, one of the clown's phones rings and the phone gets passed to me and I again try to explain the ridiculousness of the situation and how now on top of everything else I have a fucking HOLE in my wall and wet carpet and that I have to pay nearly $500 for a water drip!!! He tells me that I ought to be grateful that the clowns were at my house fixing THE VALVE THEY BROKE IN THE FIRST PLACE, and didn't I think that THEY wanted to be home at 8:25 PM at night with their families?

Um...........WTFFFFFFFFFF? I told him that I had been waiting since 2 PM for them and I didn't CARE about the plumbers feelings or if they wanted to be home with their families because I WAS PAYING THEM FOR A SERVICE!!! I told that asshole I wanted his men to fix the valve and GET OUT OF MY HOUSE and he says, "wow, we're really trying to help you here, ma'am," and I tossed the phone back to one of the clowns. I handed him a check and told him to GET OUT of my house and that I wouldn't sign anything and he stood there and wouldn't leave so I signed the paper to GET HIM OUT OF MY HOUSE!!! It was around 8:30 PM at that point and I was home alone with my two daughters. I DID NOT want them in my house a moment longer what with all the manufactured problems that were taking place--I felt as though it was in my best interests to get them out of my house before SOMETHING ELSE WENT WRONG WHILE THEY WERE THERE. OMG. Now I have this hole in my wall that I will need to pay to get fixed and I have wet carpet. When I told my husband this story (he's out of town) he freaked out and told me I should have waited to let HIM fix it even though the last time I fixed the toilets that were broken he kept telling me that I should call a plumber! This is a man who can't put together Lincoln logs so WHATEVER!!!

I'm really pissed off. I hate all service people. I think they rip everyone off and don't care one bit. If I could have fixed that thing myself I would have and that's what makes me even angrier. Maybe I should take some plumbing courses and learn to rip people off while I laugh all the way to the bank.

I'm off to take a shower with my new $495 water valve job. Merry Christmas to me.

PS. Those two clowns REEKED of cigarette smoke and made my house stink so bad I had to open all the windows and spray Febreeze all around and I CAN STILL SMELL THEM!! Disgusting!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


"Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds." ~Theodore Roosevelt

I go to bed at night, thanking my lucky stars for all that I've been given, and I wake up thanking my lucky stars again that I get to live another day with the people that I love.

Y'all, I am blessed!

Happy Thanksgiving to all who come here.

I count you among my blessings.

Monday, November 24, 2008


"This is a special container for keeping lies that you tell yourself & it doesn't let in any light or air otherwise they start to go bad & there's nothing else you can do but throw them out."~Story people

This is what I wish I knew all along---that it is ok to be wrong, that it is ok to make horrible mistakes and recover from them in time, that what you do is not who you are or who you always have to be, that people understand and forgive, that we're all just trying to do our best, that it makes life easier when we hear other people say that they do not have all the answers because it's not our place to know everything. I wish I knew all along that failing at things repeatedly didn't mean success couldn't be reached at some point if you're willing to work harder than you think you can or maybe even want to, that facing the truth about who we are is essential, even if the truth is ugly. I wish I knew that defining yourself as a victim becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that gets you nowhere fast, that it is smarter and more rewarding to own your actions and words, that there's hope in every smile, every kindness, every decision to remain in the moment no matter how difficult those moments might be. I wish I knew the futility of chasing love and happiness, that a resilient heart can be counted on to beat you back from loss and sadness, that the secret to having it all sometimes means letting things go, and that living well comes as a direct result of living well.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I think when I'm troubled, that's it's good to keep moving. It doesn't matter much what I do as long as I do something to fill the time so that there isn't much time to brood or feel angry or sad. I allow myself small spaces of time to think about the things that are bothering me, and then I shut the door on reflection and start moving. It's important that I never get stuck, and so I never stay long enough in one place, I never sink in too deep. I just keep moving, and in moving I think I help save myself from myself.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Ice cream lifts a heavy heart

"I promise you not a moment will be lost as long as I have heart & voice to speak & we will walk again together with a thousand others & a thousand more & on & on until there is no one among us who does not know the truth: there is no future without love." Storypeople

So my heart has been a little heavy lately with all this election business. I cracked open a beer the night of the election. I cannot remember the last time I've had alcohol. I couldn't take watching it anymore so I caught up on some shows I had taped. When I finally switched back to election coverage, McCain had conceded. That's when my heart grew heavy. All that talk about hope and I couldn't find it anywhere.

The next day I was still feeling bad, and so I decided that maybe a Dairy Queen vanilla cone dipped in chocolate would aid in the mourning process. It did. I highly recommend Dairy Queen when you're feeling down. The sugar high lifted me up. I remembered that hope isn't something I should seek outside of myself--and the same goes for change. I can't control the world around me, but I can control how I react and how I go about living in the wake of disappointment. My father always told me that life is filled with disappointments and the sooner you get used to it, the better off you'll be. I've always found this to be something that is easier said than done.

Lately I've been struggling with intolerance for people who voted for Obama. I know I risk pissing people off but if I click onto one more blog that mentions HOPE with regards to Obama, I feel I might explode. I'm not really the intolerant type so I don't know what's come over me. I think if I could read some specifics as to why he is such a game changer (for the positive) I might feel less angry. I'm getting worked up all over again. I think it's time for another DQ run...

That mum up above? A couple of years ago I bought a tiny mum at Walmart and planted it in the ground and every year it comes back bigger and bigger. It's the highlight of my fall, watching that mum come back to life and bloom so beautifully. I feel so proud of it even though I don't do a thing to help it grow except watch it, anticipating it's loveliness.

My sister sent me a card last week, and when I opened it up a photo tumbled out. It was a picture of her and me when we were 6 and 8 years old. We wore matching coats. Our hair was cut very short and on top of our heads we had big bows. We looked so innocent and precious and even though I do not remember standing beside her the day that picture was taken, I know without question that we were happy.

Monday, October 27, 2008

In a nutshell

"Don't speak unless you can improve on the silence." ~Spanish Proverb

I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. I wasn't always so quick to speak my mind. I grew up in a household where we were told that children should be seen and not heard and I took that to heart. It became how I lived my life--listening quietly and never daring to disagree. I think that is why I'm so insistent about saying the things I feel now. Thoughts and words were unspoken inside me, and it felt like I was living in a trap, like I was suffocating without anything or anyone blocking my airways. Now I can't seem to stop myself. Words fly out of my mouth like water gushing from a fire hydrant, and I honestly don't care at the time if I'm being hurtful because I think it's so important that I've finally found my voice in this world and I'll be damned if anyone tries to shut me up. Nice attitude, huh?

I like to think I'm a good mother and most days, I think that's entirely true. But I've found I'm the type of mother who wants things to go smoothly so that I don't have to deal with problems. I like routines to be followed and I do not welcome disruptions of those routines. Ridiculously, all I want to hear is good news. I know that wish isn't planted anywhere in reality but still, I wish for it anyway.

I never know if my expectations of others are too high or not. I don't even know if it's fair to expect things from other people or if I should simply take what's given to me and accept it for what it is without question. I do not think it's fair of me to expect other people to live their lives with my expectations looming overhead, potentially influencing what it is they want for themselves.

Intellectually, I know that I am wrong for having those thoughts, but my heart doesn't know how to stop. I look at the people that I love and I want things from them, but I get mad if they want too much from me. It makes no sense, but in a nutshell, I think that sums up a lot of who I am--a person who spends inordinate amounts of time contradicting every single thing I say and do.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

On Sunday...

I took my chair and faced the sun to watch my daughter play tennis this afternoon and now I am sitting here with the lovliest late October sunburn you've ever seen. I love where I live. I can explain it best this way--My heart beats happier here.

I've been doing lots of contemplating here lately--mostly internal stuff--like what I want from life besides what I have right here at my fingertips. I think it's middle age creeping up on me and whispering in my ear and suggesting that I need to be doing something more. The problem with me is this: I always know more about what I do not want than about what it is that I want. I keep thinking that a plan will become clear if I sit still and listen, but so far--nothing. I will be patient. I am good at waiting.

The election is consuming lots of my time. I have made it a point to try to educate myself on both candidates because I want to know everything. I have kept an open mind and have read everything I can on both of them. I worry so much about the future. Not so much for me but for the world my children will live in without me. We're fortunate in that we've made wise financial decisions (we've saved and scrimped and have lived a life with our eyes to the future), but so many people are hurting. But where do we draw a line in the sand and say--I will do my best to care for my family but I cannot take on the rest of the world as well.

I cannot condone a "spread the wealth" mentality, when the road for us to get here has been difficult and not without lots of sacrifice. I think it's easy to sit back and think we have more than enough but no one knows how we got here--what we have given up to get here--the things we did not have or did not do because we didn't have the money at the time. I hate to think that the government might step in and say--you have more than enough, so SPREAD it around. Huh? It makes me angry and sad. We outright own our in paid cash for in no mortgage. I don't know anyone else my age who can say that. But we got here by starting off small and by sacrificing and with lots of hard work. No one ever bailed us out. We lived within our means while dreaming of something more.

My personal opinion is that education needs to be made a priority again in all our lives. I think education is the way out of poverty but it must be taken seriously to have any real impact. Parents have to get involved again on a very HANDS ON LEVEL--like checking homework and backpacks and knowing what is going on. My daughter took the SAT's a couple of weeks ago and when she was finished, she got into the car and told me that she felt sorry for a lot of the kids who took the SAT that morning because she could tell that a lot of them did not have parents who cared for them. I asked her why and she said that MANY kids were unprepared--they did not bring their identification or their admittance ticket and most did not know that they could bring a calculator, not to mention most did not bring No. 2 pencils. These requirements were written on the ticket.

As a mother, I knew this and made sure my daughter went prepared. I consider it MY JOB to help my children succeed and I do this by knowing what is going on as much as possible. How can a parent allow their child to go to take the SAT's without pencils or a calculator? It's mindboggling to me. We must do a better job of telling our children that a good education is the way out and the way up. I know that education is not the key to success for everyone, but it makes the road easier--it gives you options and opportunities that a high school drop out will never have.

My parents always told me that God helps those who help themselves. I believe that. We shouldn't be waiting for someone to swoop in and save us. We need to save ourselves.

Monday, October 20, 2008


"Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company." ~Lord Byron

I've started writing letters to my children outlining what it is I expect from them. After using the spoken word for years with varying degrees of success, I've decided that if I put into writing what it is that I want from them and for them, then they will have something tangible to reflect back on should they need a reminder. Words tend to go in one ear and out the other. I'm hoping my letters will have a bigger impact. I know I do better when I have something concrete like directions to follow. Also, no one can claim afterwards that something hasn't been talked about if I have it in writing to prove otherwise. I think part of me is just tired of talking and talking and getting nowhere. I am hopeful that this will make a difference.

The weather has cooled down a bit and I put the screens back in our front windows so that I can create a cross breeze on wonderfully refreshing days. Not a week after I put those screens in did I receive a letter from our Homeowners about how we were breaking the covenants with our front-of-the-house-screens. Sigh. I really don't ask much from life. It's such a small thing to find happiness in having your windows open on a beautiful day but the screen police cannot have anyone be happy. I'll wait till they send me a registered letter again before I take them out because this is America and I want to open my windows when I want to open my windows. Hopefully it will be much colder by then and it won't matter. More and more I am thinking that a nice house in the mountains away from everyone might be the way to go.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

So hum hallelujah, just off the key of reason

I had a happy evening out shopping with my daughter. We ran some errands at Walmart, Target, Old Navy and we also went to Blockbuster. I've been renting season one of Mad Men but have only been able to get the first disc so far because the other three continue to be out. I'm kind of bummed because they were all there last week and I figured I'd be able to get them any time but I've checked back three times now and they're always out! I would have bought the set somewhere if I had known it was going to be so hard to get. I'm anxious to get through season one because I can see season two on demand and catch up as soon as I'm finished with the first one. I guess I have to be patient at this point.

It was a beautiful day here today. I've got all the windows open and I have a fan blowing the cool air in and it feels so good. The other night I was at the airport waiting for my husband to get home from a flight that was delayed a number of times due to the weather and I noticed how I was about the only one sitting there in shorts and a when people were coming off their planes, most of them had coats on and scarves and I had to remind myself that it's October now and probably pretty chilly in a lot of places even though most days are still very warm here. I don't like the cold much anymore now that I live in the south. I would just rather be hot than cold for some reason. I'm not sure why.

I've been writing here for over a year now and I'm happy I've been able to be consistent and not run away like I sometimes feel like doing. When I feel like things are getting too familiar, my first thought is to run away and start over somewhere else. It's hard for me to explain because it's so contradictory, but while I love getting to know others through reading their blogs, I don't really want other people to feel they know me because I don't think that my blog is a good representation of who I am. Everything that I write here is true, but it's just little bits of me and I know that I do not do a good job of showing the lighter side of me. When I write things that seem like downers, the following day I am tempted to delete my blog because I don't want the people that read here to think I'm a negative person. I don't even know why I care, but I do. It feels important to me that people know I am more than the words that I write here.

I have a sporting event to attend tomorrow and let me just say that I am going into this event already feeling like I will not be able to control myself amongst the parents. Earlier in the week the other team made a big to-do over NEEDING to play a match early. I swear I fielded over 10 phone calls trying to appease these people and when we finally agreed to a date and time (their choosing) about an hour before the girls were to play they called to say one of their girls was sick and that they couldn't play after all! OMG. Seriously, WTF, WTF, WTF? One of my biggest pet peeves is people who ask you to do a favor for them and then end up putting you out further with crap like this. This team has big time entitlement issues and HELLO, it's time someone tells them that our time is as important as theirs and I think I'm just the one to do it. I've said before that I'm nice until I get pushed too far, and then the nice me EXITS the building and the bitch takes over.

Ok...I'm off to do some reading.

Happy Saturday.

Monday, October 6, 2008

We'll love you just the way you are, if you're perfect

I keep thinking that I will wake up one day and know everything I need to know about life. I keep thinking if I get the answers that I'm searching for, I will officially be grown up and I can finally stop looking around corners and wishing on stars and questioning everything. When things are confusing for me, I want explanations that comfort me. When the explanations are at best unsatisfactory, I want to throw them back and ask for something more to my liking.

I have a very disconnected relationship with my family. We can go months without speaking to one another and then I'll crack because a voice in my head will tell me that the normal thing to do is call or email them because that's how I think it's done with most people. I see my husband calling his parents every week and there's a part of me that thinks it's foreign to want to talk to your parents that much. I never begrudge him those phone calls, but I do listen closely to his end of the conversation to get an idea of how it's done because that sort of easiness does not come naturally to me and I learn by watching and listening. Still, when I talk to anyone in my family, I need to shut myself off somewhere so that no one hears me. I have this forced friendliness with them that I don't want anyone to witness because I really hate phoneys and I feel like I'm being one.

I wonder a lot about unconditional love. I think it's a great idea, but I question how many of us truly love unconditionally or if we love hoping that we get something in return for our love. I think secretly we love hoping to get some of that love back. I think the hardest lesson I keep learning is that you cannot make people love you in the way you might need them to love you and so you settle for what they're willing to give because having a little of what you need seems better than having nothing at all.

When I first married my husband, my parents did something very hurtful to both of us. A couple of years ago (the last time we visited them), I guess my father took my husband aside and apologized for their behavior. My husband did not tell me this until just recently and my first reaction was..."Why didn't he apologize to ME???" but I know the answer to that already. It's because we cannot be real with one another. I am still indignant over this mostly because I carry around the way they've hurt me everywhere and it would be nice if I could hear those words so that I can chuck that sack of sorry's and be done with them for good. I am not ashamed to tell you that the messages they sometimes send me, sometimes break my heart.

There has never been a moment when I've doubted their love for me but love is a complicated thing. I've always feared that I would end up being like them, and there are times when I am certain I have. I catch myself saying things I know they've said to me and I catch myself wanting the love I give out to come back to me which means I am not giving it freely with no strings attached. I love with expectations and conditions and a scorecard that measures if I'm getting back what I put in.

I think I will always love imperfectly.

I think I will never know all there is to know about life.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I need your grace to remind me to find my own

"To understand any living thing, you must, so to say, creep within and feel the beating of its heart." ~W. Macneile Dixon

It was fabulously gorgeous here today and I thought how much I wish everyone could step outside and have the bluest skies and temperature in the 70's and a gentle breeze every now and then to make them feel alive and happy like I felt today.

I spent the afternoon watching my daughter play tennis and it was wonderful mostly because she won which is always a plus because winning is everything to her. I have spent a lot of time in the past really encouraging and almost pushing this sport onto her because she is very talented and could go very far if she put her mind to it, but it got to the point where I could tell she was resenting me for wanting this for her. It's so hard for me because I didn't have parents who encouraged me and so I feel like it's important to always be in my children's corner cheering them on and guiding them where I think I see their strengths lie. Then after a tournament where she lost in a third set tiebreaker she got into the car and started screaming that the only reason she played was because of me and that sort of broke my heart because I don't want to be the person who makes her daughter feel pressured to play when she doesn't want to. I really dislike mothers like that and OMG I think I was one!

I had to take a good long look at myself and decided that perhaps maybe I was wanting and pushing this on her against her wishes. I told her I would never again make any decisions without asking her first and I've kept that promise. I've let her decide when and if she wants to play, and surprisingly, what I've found is that she started to love the sport again once she felt the pressure was off her from my end. I will not tell you that this wasn't difficult for me because I know she could be a very successful professional player if she wanted to. I know this because I've been told this by the professionals who taught her. It's so hard to feel like her talent is being wasted but if it isn't her dream or passion, then it's not really fair of me to try and force it to become hers. I don't think things end well when we do that to each other anyway. It's her life, not mine and I had to find a way to find peace with that. I think after a number of years, I'm at that point. I sit and watch her play now and don't ask anything of her except that she have fun. And when she wins, she has fun...

We went out to dinner tonight and the service was really slow but the manager came to us and gave us dessert on the house. I swear that the hot fudge sundae on top of a brownie is sitting in the bottom of my stomach like a lead balloon right now. Luckily I've got a stash of Rolaids to help ease the pain.

Inexplicably, my husband has taken the entire next week off for a vacation. His impromptu vacation will be spent at home. Joy. He has created a list of things to do about a mile long which is certainly not going over real well with me because I know how I always get roped into assisting him and how I curiously end up doing most of the work. I mean, he held up his list and was all excited as he recited it to me and I'm sorry but to do lists don't do anything for me. He seriously thinks cleaning is a fun way to spend time together. I am feeling that next week might be a heavy blogging week for me as a result of this vacation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

6:28 PM

I think the days I am happiest are the days that are filled almost to bursting. And it's on these days that are filled almost to bursting that I remember why. It's because I live in the moment every moment. I stop living inside my head. I do not regret the past. I do not worry about the future. I stop chasing peace and peace finds me.

I drove by a man mowing his lawn today. I had my windows cracked just a little. The smell was heavenly and I know this is a silly thing to write about, but I want to be able to come back and read this some day and remember how much I love that smell. Next to the smell of Windex, it might be my all time favorite.

I love all 30 days in September, but I love September 16th the best because it's my son's birthday. I am incredibly lucky to have him. I wish him the all that's good in this world.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I hope they're following their bliss (or, red shoes make me happy, too)

I'll never understand why it seems so hard for people to be happy for you when good things happen in your life. I used to live next door to a woman who would drop everything in her own life if you were having a rough time. She'd cook you dinners and listen endlessly while you cried on her shoulder. But the second something good happened that you wanted to share, she backed off being your friend in search of a new needy person to aid. It was like she grew taller and brighter when your life was in ruins and I think it was because she was secretly happy that whatever was happening to you wasn't happening to her. It almost felt as if she wanted to be a witness to your pain rather than help alleviate it. Like, she did all that cooking and listening because there was the payoff of having a front row seat to watch the devastation up close and personal. I like to call people like this misery magnets. I don't like people like this because there's a real lack of sincerity going on under the guise of compassion. I mean, if you can't be happy for me when I'm happy, I would basically rather not know you.

I wonder what holds a lot of us back from being happy for one another when good things happen. Why can't a simple joy be shared without vultures waiting on the sidelines to rip us to shreds for the crime of finding a little happiness? I read these posts today and I was struck again how mean-spirited and petty people can be. The blogger posted a couple of pictures of items she had purchased and along came a killjoy to question if she really ought to be purchasing red shoes when she was just recently lamenting over financial difficulties in her life. I don't get it. How do the red shoes take away from any of us out here reading about them? If red shoes gave the blogger a reason to smile then who are we to steal that away from her?

We've all got sad tales to tell. I know I've got at least a million of them. We seem to cling to them like they're life rafts instead of recognizing them as anchors that are pulling us under. We like following trainwrecks, and scoff at people who present their lives in a positive light. I'm guilty of this sometimes. I don't mind people who have wonderful lives who write about them, but I will say that I have read blogs where the blogger will present a life of peaches and cream then one day snap and confess that it's all been a cover for all sorts of dysfunction going on. WTF? I don't like that crap. At least be real. Have a good day then a bad day like the rest of us, and don't concoct fairytales to tell just because it might sound better than my bitching about spit on the mirrors from people sloppily brushing their teeth.

I don't mind admitting that I'm all over the place most of the time. But I am able to be happy for other people when I see that they are happy. It shouldn't be that difficult to share in the little joys that help give us hope that things will get better--the joys that lighten our hearts momentarily. I just wish we could all be happy for one another when good things happen instead of thinking someone else's joy means there might be less for us somehow, or that someone isn't deserving of happiness just because we say so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Stupid questions

I was standing at the deli/bakery waiting for someone to wait on me. There were three women behind the deli counter all working together on something at a table a little off to the left (I think they were making cookies or something). So I'm standing there and about 30 seconds pass. These ladies don't acknowledge that I am alive until one of them looks in my directions and says, "Are you waiting to be helped?" Huh? No, I'm standing there hoping to be discovered as America's next top model.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A grateful heart

"Thou hast given so much to me,

Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise."~George Herbert

I woke up and I lived another day, and everyone that I love lived right along with me in good health and happiness & sometimes I forget how wonderful that is, how lucky we all are, just to be here.

I am trying to start my days reminding myself to appreciate all the small things that sometimes feel so small that I end up wanting more because I think having more will lead to a happiness I feel I might be missing out on. I think if I can remind myself often enough, it will become a habit. I will wake up and I will live and I will think to myself, this is enough. I am positive that repetition is the key to pulling this off.

Something else I am trying to do is actively look for the good in people rather than jump to my own biased conclusions based on nothing but assumptions. I want to learn to look past the surface to see what's real because that's what I expect from others for myself. I don't know when I became the sort of person who sometimes lacks compassion for people I don't understand, but somewhere along the way, that's what I've become. I'm impatient and dismissive and I want to change that about myself.

I found this bag of photographs in my closet today stuffed behind one of those plastic tote containers. If there is one thing I did right while my children were growing up, it was take a lot of pictures of them. I haven't gotten around to putting them all in albums but there's a part of me that thinks that will be a great little pastime when I am old and am looking for something to lift my spirits and help me remember. Every picture tells a story and brings me back. There is no way my mind could ever remember it all and I'm so glad I took hundreds of photographs to help give my past back to me. I wish I felt safe enough here to share that part of my life with you but I don't (with pictures). Maybe I'll post a picture of myself some day if I get brave enough. I am scared to involve my children in something they haven't agreed to participate in, but you should know how hugely I am blessed.

My husband has been home most of the week and whenever that happens, I notice how unstructured my life becomes. Every single plan I have flies out the window in favor of goofing off with him and he encourages this because he's bad like that. I totally did not make my bed today, I ate Chinese food for lunch and insisted we stop at Dairy Queen on the way home under the guise of needing to use the restroom when in fact I just wanted one of those vanilla ice cream cones dipped in chocolate.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Life is good

I had to get a new cell phone today because last night I was at Walmart and my phone dropped out of my bag and when I went to use it, the screen was blank. What a horror. I've only dropped it about 5 times total in almost 2 years, but maybe this was a really hard drop because I couldn't call out after that, I could only receive calls. No text messaging either and I've come to sort of like texting now that I got the hang of it. I still don't get the big deal about it because I know that kids are basically lazy and texting takes more time and effort than actually making a call, but for some reason, texting is what all the kids do now so I've had to get with the program. Anyhow, I got a new phone and it's really nice and I'm happy about that because I'm addicted to my cell phone like some people are addicted to drugs. I sort of panic when it's not in my line of vision.

Other than that, not much going on here. I've been overdosing on oatmeal raisin cookies and watching the US OPEN. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

40 kinds of sadness


I start feeling sad about a week and a half before my son leaves for college out of state so when the time comes to say goodbye, I'm mostly ok. I count the days down in my head and they always go by too quickly. Even though I do lots of complaining about having all the kids home and in my hair, and on my nerves, there's something comforting in knowing that everyone is under this one roof--that I know where to find everyone at any given time. When he leaves, it's like a little of the color drains from my life and I'm always looking to fill it back up but that's impossible without him here, and so my world is a little less colorful.

I waste lots of time wishing that I could find something great to do with my life when I know the greatest thing I'll ever do is be a mother to my children. It's easy to forget the importance of that work when you are knee deep in the drudgery of life. Motherhood sometimes feels like it is less valued because there is no measure of success for all the million ways it takes to raise a human being. The job is round the clock giving and loving to the best of your ability. The payoff is proudly watching a life move away from you while you try not to scream come back.

So much of why I am good is a result of having my children. I think without them, I'd be this chaotic, directionless mess, which is not something I want to admit because I like to project the illusion that I'm as together as the next guy who is projecting illusions of togetherness. But really? It's their lives in my life that make me whole, that help me to be good.

I hate goodbyes but I go along with them because there's not anything I can do to stop everyone from getting on with their lives. I can't insist that everyone stay with me forever so that I can complain that they're not leaving fast enough, which is what I end up doing. I contradict myself a hundred times a day without even trying.

It's the waiting for him to leave that gets me the most. I tear up everywhere--in the laundry room, walking around in Kroger's, driving in my car. It's like I'm trying to squeeze all the sadness out before he goes and remarkably, this routine works for me. When crunch time comes, I am always reluctantly ready.

I like thinking that a part of me goes wherever my children go so that we don't ever feel alone. He leaves tomorrow. Already I cannot wait for him to come back.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hey, I gotta run...

So. I'm starting to get a little perturbed with friends who call here and talk my ear off then want to beat a quick exit if I talk about myself for a moment. Ditto for the friends who call then while they are in the middle of talking to me, indicate they are getting another phone call they need to take and say, "I don't mean to cut you off but I really need to take this call," then basically cut me off and end the call.

This is why I don't like telephones--the rude factor creeps in almost all the time. There's never any reciprocation and part of the reason there's no reciprocation is that I do not grab my phone every time I want to vent. Talking to other people never helps me get through things--ever. I work things out in my head on my own or I write them out here but I do not force anyone to come here to read or give me feedback because that's not how I do things. I do not think other people hold the answers I need to get through this life. I think I hold the answers--I mean, I KNOW I hold the answers, although I do not know if I will ever be smart enough to find them within me. I keep trying, though, because I am stubborn and determined.

But I get tired of being the shoulder to cry on, the chipper cheerleader who searches her brain for positive things to say only to be cut off in the middle of doing what I know they are calling me to do for them in the first place. It feels like a slap in the face or a punch in the gut. It feels like a door being slammed in my face.

If I ruled the world, I would make a rule that if you call me, you do not get to end the call (unless there's an emergency)--that the end of the call should be left up to me especially if you interrupt my day, and I take the time to listen to you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My slice of life quotes - Time travel

She said, "If you could be young again, I think we'd be the best of friends because I'd make you laugh," and I told her she was right because I've often thought the same thing myself but that I'd be the one making HER laugh because everyone knows between the two of us that I'm the funny one~~and in that moment I thought that life could not be more complete or perfect or fulfilling.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end ~Seneca

"We are shaped and fashioned by what we love." — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

After having a migraine for about 24 hours, I'm finally feeling better. It's hard to explain how it feels--it's like I go from feeling as though a board of daggers is being driven relentlessly into my skull, to this clearheaded nothingness and I'm so happy not to be in pain anymore. I start mopping floors, I'm dusting like a crazy person, I'm moving around and I'm so happy to be free of the daggers. I try not to think too hard about being happy it's over because I'm afraid the strain on my brain will bring on another migraine. LMAO.

So I've been absent and quiet but I've continued reading all my favorites. Sometimes I just think it's better to step away from always being negative which I feel I've been lately. I can seriously come up with at least one rant a day without even trying (like today I tried to order pizza from my favorite place and the phone rang and rang but no one picked up. I immediately called back and got a busy signal. For the next 15 minutes, the line was busy so I thought perhaps it wasn't open for some reason. I was out and about and went by the place and saw the big neon sign flashing OPEN, so I got out of my car, went in and went up to the counter and placed my order. I told the woman taking my order that I tried calling my order in but that the line was constantly busy. At that very moment, I happened to look down at her phone and guess what? The phone was off the hook! She quickly said to me (as she HUNG up the phone) that she had been having a conversation with someone, but that was a bunch of bull because when I walked in, she wasn't ON the phone, she was sitting there watching ONE LIFE TO LIVE! I know!!!), but I think that gets old for everyone, including me.

My youngest went back to school this week and so it's been quiet here during the day. I didn't get my usual sadness with the beginning of another school year because I've learned that endings aren't always bad and don't always mean THE END. I know my daughter is going to do great things with her life and so I'm just going to enjoy watching the show. She really is the biggest character I've ever encountered in my entire life. I wish you could know her.

My husband and I took the 5 hour trek up to where my son's car had broken down on his way home for the summer because it was finally repaired and brought it home. It's amazing how having that one extra car has alleviated a lot of stress in the household. It only took most of the summer, but I've already forgotten that in my joy at finally having it back.

I do have moments away from this blog when I think that I will never come back to writing here but something always brings me back. What brought me back today was reading a blog elsewhere and getting to the end of the post and being touched by the power of words, and remembering that's what I love best about writing--that feeling of being moved by someone else and coming back here to try to do that myself.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I don't blame you for being you, but you can't blame me for hating it

"I suppose that since most of our hurts come through relationships so will our healing, and I know that grace rarely makes sense for those looking in from the outside."~William R. Young, The Shack

I was feeling disappointed by my children today and so I did what I do when I'm feeling down and went to Borders to get some new books. I told myself that if I can't feel peace in my real life, then the next best thing would be to get some books so that I had a place to escape. There are times I want to scream and never stop screaming, but instead, I try to talk myself out of it by telling myself that this must be what life has in store for me. I find comfort telling myself this because it feels less like a punishment and more like a life lesson that I'm meant to learn. I know that I'm more fortunate than most, but that doesn't stop me from having moments when I just feel trapped down a deep, dark hole while the world goes on all around me. I'm on the bottom waving like crazy and still, no one sees me.

My son has been home from college since mid May. He had a job in the state where he attends college and I wanted him to stay there this summer to continue to earn as much money as possible to help pay for his tuition, etc. He stayed in an apartment this past year and the lease was not up until this August so I knew we would have to pay for an apartment he would not be living in and I felt the best thing was for him to just stay there and work and maybe come visit for a couple of weeks.

Well, he wanted to come home for the summer and I do not blame him one bit for that, however, when you are attending a college out of state the cost is astronomical and I felt that he needed to contribute as much help as possible. But my husband told him he could come home as long as he got a job. So even though I knew I was right and knew he should have stayed up there where he HAD a job already, he came home. Don't you think I want to quit my life for a few months and get away every now and then? Because I do. But reality asks that I stay here and not walk away from my responsibilities just because I'm sick of the scenery, so I stay.

He went back to the little job he's had for the past several years where they do not give him many hours. It was discussed and agreed upon that he would find another job to supplement the little one but that never happened. A big show of going around and filling out applications (after I had a little blowup where I told him to go out and not come back until he had another job) was made with NO second job ever materializing. I've tried to be patient but I've run out of patience. I was talking to him today about it AGAIN and he tells me that the little job he has suits him just fine because he's been able to continue working out and refining his hockey skills! He then told me that he's not worried about not having enough money and that I needed to stop "whining" to him about it. This is the reply of a person who knows he can call his father at the drop of the hat and tell him that he's out of money and know that I will then be asked to deposit money into his account. Against my will, I'm his personal money tree.

Sigh. Here's my big problem. Whenever I take this discussion up with my husband, he will initially agree with me that our son is not really holding up his side of the bargain, but then he will slip into the conversation that at least our son is playing hockey better than he ever has before. Well, I'm sorry but this doesn't impress me. I mean, if he was going to become a professional, that would be one thing, but chances are slim to none that will happen. Also, he's decided his major is going to be Geography. Huh? WTF can you do with a major like that? So we're spending enormous amounts of money for him to basically skate and get a useless diploma. I cannot tell you how much this bothers me, how totally ridiculous I think this whole thing is. But I cannot say this to anyone here because when I do, I get told that I'm trying to begrudge him this opportunity, or that I'm not being "supportive." Neither is true but try telling that to them.

And the best part? He really wants to be a cop or a fireman so after all this he will then have to go and get training for either one of those professions so that's MORE time he'll be dependent on us for everything. My husband doesn't seem to think this is a problem but I think it's a HUGE problem. I have no one to talk to about it because apparently my job is to just go along. But I feel resentful and the feeling doesn't go away.

Moving along. Our oldest daughter moved home to focus on finally finishing up college. She's been going to college off and on for SIX YEARS. Her major changes with the wind. She's been to three different colleges, and I think that part of the time she was living away from home, she was NOT attending college but lied about it. I finally told her that I did not care what happened in the past but that I needed to see grades and transcripts from the time she WAS in school so that she can sort her life out and get moving in the right direction. She has been claiming for the past year that she wants to be an x-ray technician but then we were speaking to her the other day and my husband asked about it and she goes, "well, I don't know if I really want to do that anymore." WTF? I know it's difficult to know what to do with your life, but PLEASE give me a break and make some sort of decision THIS DECADE. She's incredibly smart. She can speak 3 different languages fluently but doesn't stick with anything long enough to get anywhere. So my husband tells her that he will pay for HER tuition in the fall as long as we have proof that she is going full time. HUH? I nearly flipped my lid on that one because SHE'S BEEN GOING TO SCHOOL FOR 6 YEARS AND I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD BE REWARDING HER FOR BEING A FLAKE/LIAR.

Then I hear him tell her he'd pay for her to get a personal trainer. Um....WTFFFFFFFFFF? When I heard THAT, I had to bust into that conversation and tell him that I did not think so---that all summer long I've been wanting to join a gym because I'm getting tired of running out in the heat every day but that I didn't even bring up the subject because we don't have an extra car for me to use at my disposal. There is no fucking way that I am going to allow him to pay for a personal trainer for her while I sit home vacuuming and baking cookies and doing laundry a million times a day to keep towels in the linen closet. Not when she's 24 1/2 years old and has been working full time all summer. But this is the sort of insanity that I deal with here. I keep looking around thinking it might be some sort of joke, but it's not. If common sense came up and smacked my family members in the face, I swear to you that none of them would know what hit them.

In another year, my youngest will be in college and I will then have THREE children in college, two of which should be graduated by now but who are instead taking their own sweet time living in a fantasy land with the full support of their father. I'm the mean mom who wants my children to get off their asses and grow up. I'm the the whiner, the nagger. I used to fear them all leaving me but that fear has now been replaced by the fear that they will NEVER leave. I can only mention this to my husband every once in a while because he loves having everyone around. He looks at me with an appalled expression as if it's unnatural for a mother NOT to want to wait on their kids 24/7 for the rest of their lives. He seems to forget I've been doing this since I was 23 and am TIRED of it. I have to remind him, and I'm sick of him never thinking of me first, of never asking me what I might want for myself other than this. I know that his greatest desire is for me to quietly just go along with whatever decisions get made and not question anything. My childhood was spent doing that and then I unknowingly picked a life that continued the pattern. Congratulations for being consistent, your prize is masking tape that can be used to seal your mouth shut so you're not tempted to voice a contrary opinion.

So I get in the car and I drive to Borders. I pick out books because I don't drink or do drugs and I need a place to escape to when I feel I'm going crazy. I give myself pep talks, too. I tell myself that there are reasons for life unfolding the way it is and that I've got to hang in there. I tell myself I'm needed here and that's it's wonderful to feel needed, and who wouldn't want to be needed and loved the way I am. But it's this constant battle to be positive when nothing is how I want it to be. I take each day and tell myself I can do anything for a day. In the back of my mind I am unwaveringly hopeful that there is a plan for me other than this "going along" life.

I'm pretty much counting on it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

and the world spins madly on

"And even if you were in some prison, the walls of which let none of the sounds of the world come to your senses - would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly possession, that treasure-house of memories?" ~Rainer Maria Rilke

We're going through our garage and trying to do some more organizing and throwing away. Going through the boxes we have stored there, it becomes apparent that I don't like to throw things away. There are so many things I've saved that I forgot I even had. In one of the boxes, I found my high school year book and we've all had a good laugh over my pictures in there. It feels like yesterday. It feels a million years away.

I also found a time capsule that I did with my youngest daughter. It says do not open until 2010. On the outside of the capsule I have written in red permanent marker, "TO BE ALIVE IN SUCH AN AGE ." I'm dying to open it, but it isn't 2010 yet. In the blink of an eye (because that is how time flies here), I know we will be opening it, and that is what keeps me from sneaking a peek now.

I got nosey yesterday evening and googled my oldest brother's name. I haven't spoken to him in 20 years but I found his flickr account filled with pictures of his family, my sister and her family, and my parents. It feels so weird being on the outside like this snooping through those photos, but if he didn't want just anyone to find them, he probably shouldn't have posted them on the worldwide web. I wonder if my sister gave him permission to post photos of her and her children because I know I would be knocking him into next week if he did that to me. I'm also pretty certain that my parents would not be thrilled to know he posted their pictures, but maybe I am wrong.

Going through those pictures leaves me feeling like the wind has been knocked out of me. I try not to think about them on holidays because that's when I feel their loss from my life the most. I feel angry, too, and I don't know why. I guess because I went through the pictures and looked to see if maybe I could tell if they're missing me like I always miss them, but all I see is their happiness in moments I will never share with them. I'm not one of those people who feels resentment when other people are happy. I mean, in general, I'm not. I find happiness in other people's happiness, but it feels painful seeing them happy without me.

It's thundering outside right now. The thunder is vicious sounding, and I can feel the ground beneath me rumble, the walls of my house vibrate. When the lightening strikes are close, that's when I feel it the most. It sounds like rage and sorrow and explosions that threaten to break everything into thousands of little pieces. I've been feeling sort of hateful all day and have had to fight saying mean things and writing mean things. And the mean things I'm tempted to say and write are truths that I am censoring because I cannot go around just saying/writing anything that pops into my head. Well, I could, but then everyone would hate me because none of us can stand to hear ugly truths and so I'll swallow those thoughts down and hope they go away or blow over like the storm outside my house, like the storm inside my head.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Why I write

"I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all." ~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

I write because it comes easier to me than speaking. I write in my head all the time. My head is the place where I record everything, where the words come together. I am always writing something inside my head. I write because it's something I feel confident doing, and because when I compare myself to others, as I sometimes do, I don't feel like I come up short, like I don't measure up. I write because I grew up loving the stories that words can tell--how words and stories can take me away from a sometimes ordinary life and allow my soul to soar with adventure. I wanted to be able to do that, too, not so much with stories, but with snippets of my life that let the truth of my life shine through.

When I write, I think a part of me wants other people to tell me that they feel the same way I do, but I'm never mad or disappointed if they don't because life isn't about us being cookie cutter versions of each other and I'm ok with that. I write because it's like breathing to me--so effortless--when most everything else feels hard. I write because it's something I can call my own, it's my thing. I write because there's nothing more challenging to me than a blank page waiting to be filled with the words of my heart.

Writing feels like I am leaving pieces of me everywhere for someone else to find and piece together. It makes me feel brave that I am taking the risk of putting myself out there because mostly I am content to keep things safely inside me where no risk is involved. I write because I've always wished I could paint or draw, and writing is the closest I will ever get to being an artist. I write because I have things to say, and even if they are things that other people have said hundreds of times before, I like to think I'm saying them differently, that I'm making my story my own.

I write because I grew up in a family that didn't talk about feelings, and consequently I had so many things inside me that I knew needed to get out, and writing provided me that outlet. I write because it's like therapy without spending a dime. I write because I want something permanent that will say I was here, that I lived and loved and wrote it all down, and did not care if I sounded foolish or crazy or rotten or ridiculous. I write because it's something I love doing. I want people to read what I write and come back to learn more but if they don't, I think I am pretty much content knowing that I have this place where I can be the me I don't always get to be.

I write because I cannot ever imagine not writing. It's a passion that never alters. It's a gift that can't be measured. I write for the peace it brings me in the moments of my life when I am searching for a soft place to land, and it does not ever fail me.

More than anyone will ever know, writing is my salvation.

Why do you write?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Everyone knows I'm in over my head

"I tell you everything that is really nothing, and nothing of what is everything, do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying." ~Charles C. Finn

The last pair of earphones I had met their demise in a paper shredder. I was happily cleaning the house with my music in my ears and I went to shred some nonsense credit card offers that came in the mail and I bent over the shredder and well, the earphones got sucked into the shredder and that was the end of those. I replaced them with a less expensive pair and have been careful not to go near the shredder while wearing them.

I went to listen to my ipod the other day and noticed my earphones were missing. I usually always leave them together but I'm not above being careless and thought perhaps that I had left them somewhere else so I searched throughout my bedroom but still couldn't find them anywhere. Later that night, my son came into my room and told me he had them and asked me if I noticed they were gone. I told him yes and that I had searched all over for them. I was sort of surprised that he took them because they're pink and he's this scruffy, tough looking guy, but I guess that doesn't matter if you want to listen to your own music bad enough.

I bought myself some new shampoo and put it in my bathroom. I got into the shower and looked around for the new shampoo and discovered it was gone. At that point I was naked and wet so I just used the old shampoo that was in there. When I got out of the shower, I searched the other bathrooms and found my new shampoo had found it's way into the girls' bathroom. Someone just up and took it. I didn't get mad because I'm getting used to my stuff being everyone else's, too.

Earlier in the week I had a really happy day out shopping with my youngest daughter. She needed a new pair of tennis shoes so we set off to the mall and found a pair and did some other shopping then went out to dinner. It was one of those days where you are happy and you know it but you don't really know it because you're in the moment living it and enjoying it. It's the kind of day you look back and think, "that was a fun day."

I told my daughter that she needed to scuff up the bottoms of her new shoes before going onto a court to play because new shoes tend to stick to the surface and can cause you to trip and fall. The following day she set off to play tennis and shortly afterwards I get a call from her telling me that she fell and hurt her ankle, and maybe she broke it. Lovely.

So I bite my tongue even though I wanted so badly to say I TOLD YOU SO!!! and went to get her. I brought her to the emergency room because she has a low tolerance for pain and a flair for dramatics that I knew would not simmer down until an x-ray was taken to prove one thing or the other (and even after it was proven that it wasn't broken she took me aside and told me she did not think much of the doctor on call because he wasn't serious enough for her!!!). I roll her into the children's section in a wheelchair and there was a young black woman doing the checking in and instead of asking us what happened she started going on and on about my daughter's tennis shoes---how great they were, how fine they were, where did we get them, how much did they cost, etc. I was standing there a bit confused because, um, it's an emergency room in a hospital, not The Finish Line. She interrupted her shoe gushing to have me fill out a form or two then we were wheeled off to get an x-ray.

We were in that room not more than 3 minutes when another black woman came in with a pad of paper and a pen and did she want details on my daughter's fall? Nope. She was sent by the other woman at the check in to get the name of the tennis shoes again because her friend tried to look them up online and couldn't find them! Is it me, or has the world gone mad?

Long story short, my daughter's ankle was just badly sprained, and she was sent home with a splint and crutches which she complains about endlessly (They stick in the carpet! They hurt her hands and under her arms!). I'm playing Cinderella to the best of my ability even though I tried to prevent this from happening by telling her not to wear those sneakers until they were scuffed up on the bottom but once again, no one listens to me.

That's what I like most about this blog. I say something (or, rather, write something) and pretend someone is listening.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ask what I want, and I will sing, I want everything--everything

My husband told me that the best part of going out of town is having me pick him up at the airport after his flight home. He said he feels important when he sees me there waiting for him. I really hate going to the airport because the drive in feels like an endless roller coaster ride where I'm just waiting for the carts to hop off the track, sending me plummeting to my death. Huge tractor trailers follow so close behind me that it feels like they are in my back seat. No one uses their directionals except me. Ambulances always come screeching out of nowhere, weaving in and out of traffic and 6 lanes do not feel sufficient enough for me to find a place out of their way. It's just all these people in a rush, talking on cell phones, singing along to blaring radios and it feels unsafe.

But after he told me that having me there waiting for him makes him feel special, I decided that I'd stop focusing on all the negatives. Besides, hanging out at the airport is interesting. I love watching all the people coming and going with their rolling luggage. I think of all the people and all the stories they have to tell. There must me a million of them. I like imagining what their stories might be.

I fixed a toilet today all by myself. I went out and bought the parts and sat there till I got it right. I love fixing things. I love having directions in front of me and putting things together.

I am thinking about painting the inside of my house. It'll give me something to throw my energies into, something that might stop or minimize some of the head noise that threatens to drive me crazy. Lately I've been a little bummed about the way the summer is playing out for me. We are still two cars short and most days, because I don't have a job outside the house, I am housebound and it's starting to get to me. It's like my world keeps getting smaller when I imagined at this point that it would be so much bigger. I keep having to shift my dreams, change my plans, to fit what life is requiring of me. I guess it's my own fault for looking to the future instead of living in the moment. But I don't know how to stop myself from wanting more.

I am greedy. I want everything.

Monday, July 7, 2008

On love - On marriage

"I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it's not the answer." ~Jim Carrey

I think if anyone has illusions that marriage is all fun and games, they ought to take a peek at True Wife Confessions. I get sad, sometimes, reading post after post of downers about marriage, so I don't go there very often. I know that the site is primarily a place where women go to discuss things they feel they cannot discuss with other people--the ugly stuff, the embarrassing stuff, the sad stuff. There's a lot of anger there, too, and it's not under the surface either; it's raw and incredibly heartbreaking.

It didn't dawn on me until just recently how much of marriage seems centered around "the man" and making him happy--how marriage seems like it's something men get more out of than women. The expectations that women have placed on them to be everything to everyone are staggering and impossible to live up to, while men are expected to bring home a paycheck and if they do that then they're pretty much golden. Most of the women I know who are in marriages that would be considered "good," feel as though men benefit from marriage more than women do. This isn't a bunch of woe-is-me women pulling nonsensical theories out of thin air, it's real women looking at their lives objectively and feeling like the scales are tipped in favor of men more times than not in relationships, and saying to themselves that if they ever did get divorced, they'd never, ever marry again.

I feel that way, too, mostly because I married young when I could not know what it took me over 20 years to learn. And it has nothing to do with my husband--it's more about me wanting to experience life on my own terms--because I've never done that. I've always been defined by the relationships in my life that have ultimately taken over my life.

When I was growing up, I was told that getting married and having kids was what women should want for themselves, and I bought into that without question. I feel a little disappointed in myself that I never challenged what other people felt was my lot in life, that I did not dare think for myself because ultimately, that is what it was. I look back and think I've sleepwalked though parts of my life when I should have been awake and paying attention. I wonder, sometimes, why no one slapped me into consciousness, why no one looked out for me. Was it a generational thing? I don't know. All I know is that I would never presume to chart the course of anyone's destiny the way certain people felt entitled to chart mine while I went along like a good little girl who could not think for herself. I try not to dwell on it too much because it makes me angry. Why didn't I fight more for what I wanted? I just kind of went along. It's maddening. I really piss myself off.

My husband is always telling me how much he and the kids love me and I jokingly tell him that doesn't surprise me one bit because if I wasn't me, I'd be in love with me, too. I mean, who wouldn't love someone who does everything and expects so little in return?

I learned a friend of mine is getting a divorce because her husband cheated on her. For three days now, this is all I can think about. I cannot tell you how this breaks my heart because I want to believe in the sort of love that lasts forever, in the sort of love that takes commitments and vows seriously. I want to believe that love and marriage cannot be traded away carelessly after too much booze and too little thought, but this is what happens every day all around me. I want to believe that people are too smart to fall for that grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side bullshit, but we do it all the time. We think what we have is not enough, or not exciting enough. It's this constant looking outside of ourselves for something to fill us up. I don't get throwing away a family for a little fun that simply CANNOT be worth what it costs you in the end.

I'm not even sure what the point of this post is. I think a common theme of my blog is that love isn't easy. I never want people to walk away thinking I don't believe in marriage or love, because I do. But I think the day in and day out of it is tricky and difficult to navigate at times, and I think pretending that it is not does a disservice to everyone.

As often as I am disenchanted by love, I am swept up and away by how wondrous it is. Those are the times I try to keep with me. Those are the times I hold close.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Fourth

"...I wanted to feel that wind. It was a secret wanting, like a song I couldn't stop humming, or loving someone I could never have. No matter where I went, my compass pointed west. I would always know what time it was in California."~Janet Fitch, White Oleander

You know, sometimes I think my life is so boring that I won't be able to stand it another day. And it's not that my life isn't filled with stuff--because it is--filled with all sorts of ordinary stuff that needs to be done that gets done because if I don't do it, then nobody will. And sometimes I feel unappreciated, and a lot of the time, I feel like no one listens to me. There are even moments when I think that almost every choice I have ever made proves me unworthy of making choices and I regret every last thing I've done. In my weaker moments, I shift blame all around me and pretend that maybe I'd be so much more if only I wasn't attached to all these people who need and love me--like they're holding me down or back, like they're the ones responsible for my life, like they're the ones in charge. I am never more wrong than I am in my weaker moments.


The washing machine is banging from an uneven load of laundry that my oldest daughter is doing. Instead of getting up and fixing it, my husband starts screaming about how it's ruining the show he is watching on TV (priorities!). I have to count to 50, and bite my tongue, and take a deep breath not to respond by yelling back at him to stop being such an asshat. There is never any logic to what he blows up about. This is one of those times I think-- how could I have ever picked him to be my lawfully wedded husband because all the small things start to add up and get under my skin--irritating me to no end. But I swallow it down, remembering that life isn't one Brady Bunch moment after another. Real life requires that I remember that reality sometimes sucks.


I can still hear fireworks outside. When I was younger, my brothers and sister and I used to climb out on the roof of our house to watch the fireworks show my father would put on for us and the neighbors. I cannot believe my parents allowed us to do that, but they did. It is one of my happiest memories--sitting beside them and watching beautiful colors light up the sky. Holidays always make me miss the family I don't get to see very often. I'm ok the rest of the year but on holidays I hate thinking of them having fun without me. That's ridiculously selfish, but sometimes I can be ridiculously selfish.


I really dislike people who use the free speech card as an excuse to bash or judge other people. Ditto for those who say mean things then tell you they were only joking.


I don't know if I ever mentioned before how much I love to read. When I was a teenager (a freshman in high school) we were relocated and I found myself in a place where it seemed like it was a rule that if you were not born there, you would always be an outsider. I think it was then that I started to lose myself inside books. The url of this blog comes from a poem I wrote a long time ago about my love for books, how they allowed me to lose myself inside a world that wasn't mine. You should see my house. It is filled with all the books that I love--they are on tables and in baskets, piled high all around. But I don't have any bookcases which is strange. Not a single one.

Awhile back, my parents emailed me and asked me what things I wanted of theirs when they died which I thought was a strange request because the both of them have more energy than I have and sometimes I'm certain they will outlive me, but anyway, all I could think about was that Gilmore Girls episode where Emily had Rory and Lorelai put post it notes on everything in her house that they wanted after she passed on. I pictured my parents doing the same thing because they are nothing if not organized and fair about things. I couldn't bring myself to commit to anything, though. It felt too morbid and weird. But I know they have lots of bookcases so maybe I will request those--put my order in, if you will.