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.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My Slice of Life Quotes - Money

He went on a lunatic rant about spending money frivolously, and how we all needed to be frugal for the next month or so, then later in the afternoon suggested we all go out to dinner, and I said, "Ok, sounds good to me."

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Just because

I have this page-a-day calendar that's all about poetry. I do not like it as much as I thought I would for some reason. Maybe it's because too many pages are dedicated to mini biographies of poets and it was POETRY I wanted to read, not biographies. Up until this year, I've always bought page-a-day calendars with quotes on them, which I've loved to death. Anyway, this was the poem from yesterday (June 30). I love this one. I think I might make it my personal symphony.


Your life must be loved this much.

Standing by the water's edge, looking down at the wave,
touching you. You have to lie, stiff, arms folded,

on a heap of earth and see how far the darkness

will take you. I mean it, this, now--before the ghost
the cold leaves in your breath, rises; before the toes

are put together inside the shoes. There it is--the god damn

orange-going-into-rose descending circle of beauty & time.
You have nothing to be sad about.

-Jason Shinder