Monday, February 28, 2011

H is for Happy

If you've ever been depressed -- not "I'm so bummed the Sox lost yesterday", but full on, medication is prescribed depressed -- then you know what it's like to be unhappy. Unhappy as in lacking the possession of joy; unhappy as in barely even able to remember what it was like to experience joy; unhappy as in you can recognize happiness in other people but it doesn't resemble something you know -- it's become so alien to you that it's sort of like listening to a conversation between two people in a language you don't speak: you understand that they are communicating, but more than that you do not know.

And then, one day, you get some help -- maybe you marched yourself into a doctor's office and demanded help. Or maybe someone close to you reached out to you. Or maybe a complete stranger threw you a life vest, somehow. Our lives touch each other in so many unknown ways. And hope, which has been perched somewhere in your soul, begins to sing again.

Perhaps it was always singing, and you simply couldn't hear it. 

But when you're through it, and you're on the other side, sometimes recognizing and your happiness in any given moment is the most rare and wonderful thing. I don't think we -- maybe just I -- notice and appreciate them enough when we have them, which is a true shame. We need more happy in this world. We should notice and celebrate it when we're lucky enough to own it -- and there is, as I have mentioned, so much of it to go around.

If you are happy -- notice it! Live in it! Pass it on!

And if you are not -- there is hope and help. I promise.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Grace In Small Things: Sunday, February 27th

1. The Phantom Gourmet. I love this, even though I'm dieting.

2. Lazy Sundays. (Not to be confused with endless Sunday afternoons. Not the same thing.)

3. Heirloom tomatoes.

4. Making actual, visible progress with a project.

5. Light, fluffy, snowflakes drifting lazily through the air.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Saturday Photos

Winter storms bring snow and ice. Which is not festive.

However, they also bring incredibly beauty. Which is ALWAYS festive.

Friday, February 25, 2011

G is for Good Daughter

Which, I must confess, I am sometimes ... not.

I managed to upset my mother today. This is not something that happens terribly often anymore. We're close, as in "finish each other's sentences, long road trips in the car, generally just enjoy one another's company" close. We talk every day -- online, or by the phone, or sometimes both. My mom is my best friend.

But she's also my mom.

I've noticed that many people are careless with their treatment of their families because -- well, they're stuck with you, right? They HAVE to forgive you. Even if you're mean, or rude, or sarcastic and hurtful and careless. They'll keep coming back around because you're tied together with the invisible ropes of shared history and blood, which are more flexible and more binding than any other force on earth. So we fight and we disappoint and we hurt.

And we accept and we love and we nurture.

My mother is innately kind (with an unexpectedly sarcastic sense of humour). I do not think that I am innately kind. I am innately impatient and driven. This sometimes causes me to mow down kindness with thoughtlessness.

If there is a worse sensation on this earth than that of knowing I've hurt my mother's feelings, I don't know what it is.

Sometimes I am a good daughter. Clearly, not today.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

F is For Fourth of July

I think that people are like mosaics: a cohesive whole made up of disparate parts. Some of those bits are smooth and soft -- tumbled gemstones, gleaming brilliantly in the composition. Others are pointy, jagged bits of glass. If it's your mosaic, you know what they all mean. You know that if someone else comes upon it and isn't careful, he may be dazzled by the shine, but cut his hand on one of the sharp bits. After all, you know they're there and you still sometimes do it yourself. 

For several years, the Fourth of July was one of my dangerous pieces.


In 2006, I had come home on a perfectly normal Saturday to find my husband mowing the lawn. I knew something was wrong immeditely, but I didn't know what it was. So I waited. When he was done, he came in, got a beer and flopped down in a chair.

And then he told me that he didn't think he loved me anymore and had a prepared list of reasons why we should split up. (It was a really great list, by the way. It included such gems as "You're fat" and "You don't know how to ski".)

Several hours later, he thought maybe we should try to work it out. Or not. He didn't know. Maybe if I worked at it, I could convince him.

Welcome to my personal hell.

Two days later it was the Fourth of July. I felt as though my life was balanced on a razor blade -- it wasn't about safely landing on either side, it was about desperately trying not to be sliced in two and knowing that I was bound to fail.

We went to the beach -- so normal. Except for the part where we didn't talk. Except for the part where we were walking side by side like two strangers who just happened to be at the same place at the same time.

We sat on the breakwater and watched the boats in the harbour when I finally cleared my throat and said, never taking my eyes off the water, "I feel the way I felt when I was in junior high and the boy I liked didn't like me. Except that you're my husband. Which makes me not know how to feel." Except pain, I wanted to say. Except this crushing pain. But I didn't say it.

He stood up. "Let's go," he said.

I should have known then that there was no hope. But hope's a funny thing -- it refuses to leave you, possibly becuase, like good friends and family, it knows that you need to have something to hold on to when it seems you have nothing left.
The thing about anything sharp is that, over time, it becomes rounded. Like river rocks, worn down by tumbling through the stream. Still shiny, but less dangerous. Sometimes, through the process of wearing, something lovely is revealed. A vein of something precious running through something that seems ordinary.

On that Fourth of July, in the evening, a couple we were close to invited us over for dinner. My husband quickly agreed -- anything, I think, to get us away from the minefield that we were living in -- and off we went. When it started to get dark, we walked down to a baseball field to play frisbee. It was empty but for the fireflies.

After about an hour, the fireworks started in the two neighboring towns. From where we were, we could see all of them -- the sky was filled with streaming sparks of colour, everywhere you looked and, on the ground, the fireflies twinkled and danced around our feet. It was like being inside a snowglobe filled with light and sound. It was magnificent. And in the midst of it, our mutual friend came up behind me and said, very quietly, "You're going to be fine. I promise."

As time passes, I remember that miserable moment on the breakwater less and less, and the sense of awe and amazement I felt with my face lifted to night sky more. Even in the middle of misery, there is beauty. It's important to remember it -- there is beauty in EVERY piece of the mosaic. Even the sharp ones. It can just take time for it to be revealed.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

E is for Empire State (or "Now I know why I'm not named Grace")

I'm a little accident-prone.

Okay, I'm a LOT accident prone.

This is partly due to inattention on my part -- I get wrapped up in something (conversation, music, a storefront) and then forget to look where I'm going. Or pay attention to what I'm doing. Or -- well, whatever, really. And then ... before you know it? I've fallen down, or walked into something. It's also partly due just to being a klutz.

I have a friend who recently cut her leg badly and is obsessing about the scar. Every time she mentions it, I think wistfully of how lovely it would be to have only ONE scar. I can't imagine. I am a roadmap of misadventure.

But because I have no shame, dignity, or pride, I will share with you what is probably the most epic of all of the "Oh my God you did NOT just do that" moments... because to this day it remains at the top of the list of defining moments in my oh so graceless life.

Flash back, if you will, to 1991. I was a freshman in high school, rocking it with some crazy hair and significantly unfortunate fashion choices. I was also in the high school band, where I played a mean bass clarinet (which is a joke, as there is no such thing as playing a mean bass clarinet).

Every other year, the band went on a trip. That year, we were going to New York City. I had never been there -- my father isn't a city guy, and hates traffic, so the odds of getting there on a family vacation were nonexistent -- and I was beside myself with excitement. The Statue of Liberty! The Empire State Building! Broadway! Who CARED that I was going to have to go in a school bus -- I was going! (And the boy I had a mad crush on was going too ... which raised the level of awesome significantly.)

I don't know, Dear Reader, if you've ever had the chance to ride in a school bus from Maine to New York, but let me tell you -- it's not the ideal way to travel. It's a little bouncy. And, you know, loud. But who cared? I was going to New York. In the sort of company of a boy who had no idea that, in my 15 year old way, I was madly in love with him. Life on the big yellow bus was good.

As was New York. I loved it from the first moment I stepped off the bus. The noise! The energy! The people! The SHOPPING (Oh, Fifth Avenue ... you are still like the mother ship calling me home ...). The first day was like a cupcake made of fabulous frosted with incredible, and I took a big hearty bite.

The second day, however, was a bit of a different story.

We woke up to rain. Whatever, rain's not a big deal, right? Our agenda was: Statue of Liberty, something else that I have since forgotten, then Broadway. Our instructions were to dress nicely as we wouldn't be returning to the hotel before going to the theatre. So I did -- I had some lovely white pants, a new pink top, and my sneakers because, heck, I was 15 and we were going to be walking. Topped with a neon windbreaker. (It was the 90s... as odd as this outfit now sounds, I actually did look quite nice). Add my glasses and I was good to go.

We loaded up on the bus. By the time we got to Battery Park, it was POURING, and we only had a few minutes in which to catch the ferry. So we were instructed to run.

I ran.

Let me add here that running isn't really something anyone would recommend as an activity for me as,  due to the grace issues, I'm not always the most astute WALKER. But I tried to comply and ran.

This worked out for about 5 minutes.

Then I caught my sneaker on some broken pavement and went down HARD. In one of the largest puddles I have ever seen. It was sort of like a small swimming pool, this puddle, and I went in up to my elbows.

"THAT sucked," I thought, when I came back to myself after flying through the air.


Because they were.

Including Boy of My Secret Dreams.

If the ground had opened up to swallow me at that moment, all anyone would have heard out of me would have been a quiet "Thank you."

I slowly stood up. They had all -- 100 plus of them -- stopped short and were just STARING at me. While I had frequently dreamed of playing to a crowd of people and having their undivided attention, this was NOT what I was hoping for. I didn't know what to do. So I did the first thing that came to mind:

I laughed. Then I took a large, sweeping bow -- and resumed running (albeit a little more, ahem, carefully) to the line.

We missed the ferry (this was not my fault) and had to wait. It continued to rain. My windbreaker, between the rain and the puddle, gave up with the "water resistant" and became "water friendly". It soaked up the water like a sponge and suddenly weighed about 15 pounds. That was okay with me, because it made it longer -- longer enough so that it covered the rear of my newly TRANSPARENT white pants.

We were all waiting in line and shivering when I looked down to find that my white pants were ALSO transparent and tie-dyed white pants, because my new pink shirt? Oh yeah, it was running. The longer we stood there, the more pink dye seeped into my pants.

No worries, I thought, I am totally fine with this. It's completely okay. I'm going to see Lady Liberty! How cool is that?

And then lenses fell out of my glasses. A familiar, crushworthy male voice said, "Um, I think you dropped this."

Humiliation = complete.

The day was salvaged. We did make it to Liberty Island. We skipped the second activity and all went back to the hotel to change because we were a sorry, soggy lot. Someone fixed my glasses. Secret Crush complimented me on my dramatic bowing ability.  Life was quickly good again.

I think of that day often -- not because I like to dwell on 15 year old awkwardness (who does?) but because it reminds me that everything passes. I was so mortified when I fell in that puddle in front of EVERYONE -- my friends, people who I thought were cool and wanted to think I was cool, Secret Crush, my teachers -- that I wanted to expire on the spot. But when something happens, be it crazy or painful or embarassing or whatever -- you can either shrink from it or you can face it.

Head on.

And when you're done, you can take a bow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

D is for Dork

Some kids are born cool.

And then, there's me.

To be fair, I never really had a chance. My dad belonged to a science fiction book club. Every month, a new and delightful assortment of sci fi and fantasy novels would show up on our bookshelves. Oddly, though my parents were otherwise fairly strict, they never censored my reading (they tried once -- when Stephen King's It came out and they realized the villian was an evil clown ... and I was already afraid of clowns ... they suggested that perhaps I should wait until I was a little older. I ignored them and then had nightmares for about three weeks. Oops). I loved reading -- LOVED reading -- and I loved those books. Anne McCaffery, Robert Lynn Asprin, Orson Scott Card, Alan Dean Foster -- I read and reread them until the bindings were weak and the pages were beginning to come out (and on one memorable "Oh my Lord my father is going to KILL me" moment, dropped one  -- a hardcover -- in the bathtub. I don't think he ever found out though. Well, now he will, I guess. Hi Dad! Sorry about the slight water damage ...)

My dad also really loves cheesy, horrible, ridiculously bad science fiction tv. And some really good tv. For example, he loved Dr Who (which for years I couldn't watch because of an episode I saw when I was about six. To this day, I can't tell you what it was about except to say that it was TERRIFYING and I spent most of the episode hiding behind the coffee table because it was like a car wreck -- I didn't want to be there but I couldn't look away).

My mother, on the other hand, thinks Dr Who is stupid, and would not deign to read a science fiction novel because she's "not interested". Having said that? She LOVES Star Trek. Loves it. A LOT. Also? The Highlander.

Somewhere between the Star Trek and the Star Wars and the Dr Who and the dragons of Pern and the Spellsinger series -- the character of one dorky daughter (that would be me) was fully formed... and honestly, due to the total lack of discrimination in my science fiction diet, it turns out that I'm not a highfalutin' dork either. I'm a dork who relishes the cheesy and awful with the same glee that I savor the excellent. (None of which I will mention here, lest I start some sort of war of what's good and what isn't -- and no one has stronger opinions about these things than Science Fiction dorks -- God help us, but we're a loyal and fiercely dedicated bunch -- but I will say that there's not a lot that I have not enjoyed to some degree).

As I get older, though, I realize -- EVERYONE is a bit of a dork. (I would also submit that I don't know anyone who thinks that she -- or he -- is the coolest.) We all have that thing -- something, whatever it is. Maybe it's music. Maybe it's sports. Maybe it's wine or film or books or whatever -- whatever it is, it's something you're passionate about, that you could talk about for hours. You're a Dork for that subject. You might care more about RBI's than, say, dragons, but that's cool. There's room for both of us at this party.
We're all just an Army of Dorkness,* doing our thing.

And that, my friends, is pretty damn cool.

*Shout out to the Army of Dorkness! You know who you are!

Monday, February 21, 2011

C is for Courage

Not the kind they give out medals for, though that is important as well, but the quieter kind, that fewer people recognize or even see.

The courage it takes for a couple to keep plugging away, despite inept bureaucracy, red tape, and thousands of miles, to adopt the daughters of their hearts.

The courage it takes for a mom to fight for her baby who has cancer when it feels like her world is falling apart.

The courage it takes for a mom who has cancer to be there for her little guy no matter what.

The courage it takes for a couple to get engaged, even though they know that in their state, they're not legally allowed to get married ... yet.

These people -- all of whom are my friends -- show unbelievable bravery every day just by saying: to hell with the odds. I'm going for it. I'm all in. Bring it on.

I am humbled in the face of their courage.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Grace In Small Things: Sunday, February 20

1. Teeny tiny baby socks

2. The watery, earthy smell of spring, detected on a warm February day

3. A newly washed car

4. Occasionally taking the time to be low-tech in a high-tech world

5. Curling up with a book and a cup of tea

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Photos

Generally good advice...

Friday, February 18, 2011

B is for Brown ... No! Blonde! No! Red! No! Brown!

My adventures with hair colour began when I was a college freshman. Four of us were lounging around and decided that there would be nothing more delightful than getting some semi-permanent haircolour and having a go at home hairdresser.

We tripped off to the store and selected our boxes of dye. For some reason, I chose ... well, let's be honest. I chose the darkest shade I could find because, whatever, it was temporary, right? It would wash out.

Much like it's probably a bad idea to let a 7 year old choose wallpaper (because they're only going to love it for 10 minutes and you really can't just change out wallpaper, can you?), letting my misguided 19 year old self dye my own hair proved to be an error in judgement.  Here's why:

1. My people don't tan. On a super healthy day? I'm ... pale. Like a Cullen, only not sparkly. (I hang my head in shame for making a Twilight reference... Oh, the humanity! or, since they're vampires ... Oh, the Inhumanity!) Adding long black hair to an already not so glowing complexion? As my mom said, upon seeing it for the first time: "Wow." Pause. "You look like Snow White." Pause again. "If she was on drugs."

It was true. I did.

2. Some colours are not meant to be semi-permanent. Such as black. Apparently everyone other than me knew that. So while everyone else's hair washed back to it's regular colour? Mine, sadly, did not. Until, finally, I had about 3 inches of roots and then long black hair. It was a look.

It was a TERRIBLE look.

I did the only rational thing I could think of: I marched to the hairdresser and asked her to cut all of the dyed hair off. OFF. TAKE IT OFF. Yes, I knew that I'd be left with a short short haircut. (Think Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries. That short.) Yes, I knew that having hair that short would make me look startlingly like a bobble head (I have a large head). It had to happen. Make it so!

And then ... colour what's left. Like, oh, I don't know ... red's nice. Or, NO! I know! Since it's the shortest, littlest hair ever, maybe some highlights? To detract from my bobble-head-osity?

With that, the games began. I had red hair. I had light brown hair. I had auburn hair with caramel highlights. I had purple hair. I had red hair again. I had a deep chocolate brown hair. I had red hair with blonde highlights. I had light brown hair with deep red highlights. I didn't ever go completely blonde (because as I got older, I recognized: Pasty white does not belong with sunny blonde) but I must confess -- I've always kind of WANTED to (and then I wanted skinny subtle pink highlights. To quote one of the many hairdressers regarding the pink highlights: "Seriously. Are you high?")

Over all of the years since this adventure began, my mother just shook her head. "You've got pretty hair," she said. "I like your natural colour.You should leave it alone." And off I would go to the hairdresser and mess with it again.

Why? Because I could. Because, frankly, hair is SAFE. Rather than let my restlessness and wanderlust take me down the road to a real adventure, I chose to mess with my hair instead. As I learned from the "Snow White on Drugs" incident, there's nothing that can go too terribly wrong with hair. Hate it? Cut it. It'll grow back. There's no real risk involved with it except the risk of looking like a dolt for a bit ... and let's face it, I don't need my hair for Dolt-hood. I manage that fine anyway.

I sometimes wonder what I could have managed if I had put the money, energy, and time I put into changing my hair into -- well, other things. Not that it's not important to like how you look (it's VERY important), but if I had ever paused to wonder why I felt compelled to change how I looked every 15 minutes, I might have learned something important.

At any rate, a few months ago, I decided to do something very dramatic and dye my hair a dark, dark brown. (NOT black. There is a difference). A rich espresso colour.

I love it. My friends like it. It suits me.

About six weeks rolled by before I looked at the calendar and thought, "I am SO overdue to have my hair done." I rushed to the bathroom mirror to check the root situation, and was... perplexed. Except for the places where the shiny silver hairs were making their wiry selves known, I couldn't FIND any roots.

"That's so weird," I thought. "How can that be?"

And then it hit me. I didn't have any roots because my dramatic new fabulous haircolour? Is apparently my natural colour... and I hadn't even known it. I had forgotten that, underneath the bleach and ammonia and peroxide? There was something pretty damn awesome.

I wonder if my mom gets tired of being right. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A is for Airport

I spend a lot of time in airports. I travel frequently for my job, and I travel alone.  I'm fine with it now, but it used to be incredibly nerve wracking, as in "take a valium, don't open your eyes, focus on anything other than what you are doing, white knuckle the armrests" nerve wracking.

Eventually, I got over it. Which is to say that I still don't relax enough on a plane to, say, sleep (which is too bad, especially if I'm on the redeye from LA), but I do relax enough to enjoy a drink on the plane and read a book.

However I might feel about flying, however, I do enjoy an airport. They are worlds unto themselves, I think, much the way hospitals are -- and, like hospitals, they provide an excellent opportunity to watch people and see how they behave. 

It's funny how travel -- perhaps especially air travel -- is an equalizer. Gay or straight, Christian or Muslim, soldier or pacifist, if your plane is delayed, you're all stuck there together. It doesn't matter if you think Glenn Beck is the devil and the person sitting next to you thinks he's WONDERFUL -- for a moment -- even just for a few moments -- you have something in common and you can recognize that under the ideology and the rhetoric and the desperate need that so many of us have to be right, all the time.

If you've ever been trapped at a gate, waiting for a plane that's significantly delayed, there is usally some grumbling, right? But then things start to happen. Children from different families start to look at each other curiously and then to talk to each other -- then they're sharing toys. People will ask one another "What's that book you're reading? Are you going on vacation? This is a drag, huh?" and conversations will commence. The longer the wait, the more likely this is to happen. I've seen some people be complete jackalopes, but not very many -- and it turns out that the more awful someone is about the delay, the more the rest of the group bonds. "He needs to CHILL" someone will murmur, and someone else will agree, and then they're sharing stories about where they're from, and where they're going, and why.

I love airports because they're a reminder that, when I despair about humanity -- which, I confess, I sometimes do -- that people are not that bad. They're just people, and like all people, they have the capacity for great selfishness and great kindness. Good or bad, we're all in it together.

Especially at the airport.

(For my favorite riff on airports -- watch this:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Blogging Every Day is HARD, she whined

Oh hi there.

You thought I might miss a day, didn't you? Well, I'm here to prove you wrong. I'm just behind, busy with work and ... oh wait, you don't care, do you? You just want some bloggy goodness to fill up the reading portion of your day.

Well, I am here to serve. AND to make an annoucement. (Are you excited? No? Sheesh, you're a tough crowd.)

I don't know if you know this (maybe you're new to my blog. If so: Hi! Glad you stopped by ... I have some lovely archives, if you're interested ...) but I committed to writing a post every day. For a YEAR. At the time it seemed like a bit of a lark -- tra laaaa, tra laaaa, a post every day, how hard can it be?

Well, kids, let's just put it this way: Now I know why people who commit to NaBloPoMo and writing a post every day for a MONTH agonize over it and often fail to complete their mission. It's actually pretty hard to crank out a post worth reading every day. (And I will fully confess that once or twice? I have completely failed in the "worth reading" aspect of posting. I've posted some crap. There, I said it) But I am determined! I am motivated!


And sometimes? I am at a loss for ideas... so I'm turning to some of my creative writing tricks and strategems to help a sister out. Though these are strategies I used when teaching creative writing (waaaaaay back in the day, when I did that sort of thing), the blog posts shall remain, shall we say, sadly very much about my goofy life.

Which brings me to my big old announcement. (I should warn you that this is an awful lot of buildup for not so very much payoff, but ... well, I was a drama student for a reason, I guess).

Here it is: for the next 26 days, I will be blogging the alphabet. Every day, a different letter. Every day, a story related to that letter. Hopefully some of them will be funny, hopefully some will be thought provoking, hopefully they will ALL be coherent (some of these get written in the wee hours) ... and hopefully, Dear Blog Reader, you will be entertained enough to keep coming back.

... and as always, hopefully I finish the year with 365 blog posts.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pants, Danced Off

I have been actively losing weight for a little bit now, which is fabulous for a gazillion reasons -- energy! Health! (I was going to include "cuteness" on this list, but then got a little annoyed with myself for perpetuating the stereotype that only stick-thin women can or should be rated as cute. Because you know what? Not true, people. Not even a little bit true) -- but which, oddly, also has some drawbacks.

Such as needing new clothing.

As much as I love to shop (and ooooh I love to shop), I don't particularly enjoy shopping for clothes because you have to try them on. In my life, trying on pants is the equivalent of some heinous military-style torment. I would rather poke myself in the eye multiple times than have to try on jeans. (I know this is directly contradictory to the "I'm cute no matter what size I am" statement, but I'm a complex girl and you're going to have to keep up.)

In my head, trying on pants makes me feel the same way I felt when I was in high school, sitting on the sidelines during slow dances.  It's a little less than festive and is the quickest way to crush my mood. Intellectually, I know it's not me. It's the people who design pants for those among the female population who have, you know, no ass. Or hips. Since I possess both of those items, the pants are not my friends (and shorts? FORGET IT. I wear skirts all summer long because I simply can't deal with the horror). I know that it's not just me. But in light of the "I have tried on 23894674 pairs of pants in this stuffy, poorly lit dressing room and NONE of them have fit me properly and my blood sugar is getting low and I may harm the next salesperson who asks me if I need some help in here because, sans an impromptu lipo treatment, there is NOTHING she can do for me. NOTHING. Except GO AWAY. Screw it, I don't need stupid jeans. I'll go buy another purse -- those ALWAYS fit" experience, I also know that intellect and emotional reactions are not always, er, in sync.

(This is one of the reasons I have a LOT of purses, by the way.)

So I avoid the shopping for jeans. Or dress pants. Or really, any kind of clothing I have to try on. As such, I made a deal with myself. "Okay, so I know that I'll have to get some new clothes ... you know, eventually ... but I'm going to wait. As long as the pants stay UP, I'm good, right?"

Right. It was a workable plan.

Until the day excess fabric and gravity reared their ugly head.

I was in the parking lot at my building. Arms full of grocery bags. Not a  spare hand to be had, walking to the door when I felt ... a breeze. As though my sweater had slid up. Except that I could FEEL where my sweater was, and it seemed like a normal place for a sweater to be resting. Then I realized: my sweater wasn't moving UP. My pants were moving DOWN.

And I couldn't pull them up because my arms were full of stuff in my typical "live on the second floor, carrying everything up in one trip" fashion.

And they were threatening to continue their downward spiral.

I was frozen in the parking lot. What to do?  WHAT TO DO? If I didn't move -- or at least, not very much, I might be able to avoid mooning the entire complex. MAYBE. But there would need to be strategic planning and some crafty walking skills employed.

I don't know if you've ever attempted walking without moving your legs at all, but it's not easy. It's sort of like a sliding, gliding motion. With very very small "steps". I can guarantee that it looked ridiculous, but not nearly as ridiculous as I would have looked with my pants around my ankles in a public place.

With every shuffle/step, I could STILL feel them wanting to go. Oh please oh please, I thought, please don't let my pants fall off.

I made it to the foyer of the building and dropped EVERYTHING and gave my pants a mighty hike. Oh happy day. Completely clothed! Yahoo! Now I just had to pick all of my bags back up and make it up the stairs and into my apartment. No problem!

Small problem.

There is no way to shuffle up stairs, and apparently, my jeans had decided that they'd just had enough. They gave up. They had been clinging as long as they could and they could do no more. The instant I started up the stairs, they started to go. Realizing that the best thing I could do was book it, I RAN up the stairs and into my apartment, slamming the door behind me just as my pants fell off.

My cat, startled by the slamming door and my new appearance as a confused nudist, looked at me curiously before falling off of the couch.

I believe that I will be honouring the deal I made with myself and buying new pants. Oh and also?


Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

In December, I had to register my car. The government requires that you do that -- it's within my right to OWN a car, but the state requires  that I license and register it and all of that through them. No big. Fill out the paperwork, pay the fee, own a car. Donesville.

While I was at the town hall, waiting, a woman came in for a marriage license. She asked some questions and she got one. Marriage, it seems, is a civil action. You get the license, you pay the fee, some sort of government-sanctioned person has to sign the license and prove you both wanted to be there and do indeed both WANT to get married, and then -- there you go.

There was a time when people of different races weren't allowed to apply for a license. There was a time when people of different religious backgrounds had a difficult time getting a license. Of course, we're so enlightened in this country now. Right? We would never deny someone the right to a legal license because of their skin tone. Or their religion. That would be silly. It's a LICENSE. Anyone can get a license as long as they have some ID and a checkbook. It's a civil right. Isn't it?

You'd think.

The arguments against gay marriage that I have heard are all religious -- and if that's your stand, that you object for religious reasons, than by all means. Far be it from me to argue with your spiritual beliefs or tell you they're wrong. But I will say this: I didn't go to your church to register my car. I went to a government office. I didn't write a check to your place of worship to get my marriage license either -- BECAUSE I COULDN'T. It had to be issued by local goverment. No clergy signed off on my wedding license because -- fun times -- I was very much not invited to have my nuptials in my local church. A friend became licensed -- again by the government -- to sign off and make my non church wedding legal.

Because it's a legal matter. Not a religious matter. It's about two people, making their commitment legal.

Two consenting adults, deciding to take their property and their lives and legally bind them together.

Does that take the romance out of it? Sorry. Civil rights aren't romantic.

Does that take the spiritual commitment out of it? The government (and politicians), as a rule, tend not to get involved with commitment. (A Google Search of "politicans and infidelity" brings up 330,000 results). The spiritual commitment between two people is NOT government sanctioned or licensed. 

Does that take the religious component out of it? Sure does. Last I checked, Church and State were meant to be a little bit separate.  Or, you know, a lot separate.

A lot of people get engaged on Valentine's Day.

I'd like a lot more of them to have the right to do so.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Grace In Small Things: Sunday, February 13th

1. Adventures with Kristen  (also known as "The Travels of Batman and Robin" ... also known as "Single Girls Rawk")

2. Friends who see all of my quirks and love me anyway (or at the very least, who don't mock them excessively).

3. Warm wolly sweaters.

4.  A perfectly brewed cup of dark delicious coffee.

5. Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Saturday Photos

Sometimes, when it's cold and overcast and the snow is mounded up on the balcony, I just need a little reminder of spring.
                                        Williamsburg, VA, 2010

Friday, February 11, 2011

All Hail the Queen

I've had one of those weeks where things have just come together. They're figured out. I'm on it.

I'm (looks around, whispers it) a responsible adult.

Financial house is in order -- debt free living is in sight. Actual house is in order and is clean and tidy. Car has been repaired, inspected, and new license plates affixed. Definitive steps have been taken to secure better health (by, you know, carving some poundage off of my ass).

Work-related issues? If not resolved, then accepted.

I got back in touch with an old friend this week and mended fences.

I'm even SLEEPING. Without the benefit of sleep aids. (I'm not sure, but I think that it might be related to the fact that I'm not stressing out about the other things).

I'm happy. I'm mostly healthy. So for today? I'm queen of the my little corner of the world.

Except for one thing. (You saw this coming, right?)

I can't get the cat to stay off the dining room table.

She's allowed to be anywhere she wants to be with the exception of the kitchen counters (which she's not terribly interested in as of right now) and the dining room table. So of COURSE, right at this moment, that's where she most wants to be. I have walked out of my office several times just to find her giant, fluffy self curled up, sound asleep, on a placemat. While I suppose that I should feel fortunate that she's using the placemats, I don't. I think it's weird. I also would rather not have her butt resting on the same surface where I like to rest silverware, thanks.

In case I haven't mentioned it earlier, I should also mention that my cat is not the brighest daffodil in the flowerbed. Today, her tail is bothering her. I can tell because she keeps giving it the "Dude, why are you FOLLOWING me?" look... and she keeps jumping on the table to get away from it.

You can imagine how well that is working for her.

When she realizes "OMG it FOLLOWED me!" she tries to pounce on it in a ninja-esque fashion. I know because I assembled that table, and it's not designed for 14 pounds of pouncing, jumping, goofy cat. It squeaks. 

It squeaks a LOT. Apparently, I am going to be getting into the toolbox to tighten some of the screws later. (Of the table. The loose screws of the cat's intellect cannot, sadly, be repaired.)

It's making me crazy. I think she's enjoying it. Here's what happens:

1. She jumps on the table.
2. Mad squeaking ensues.
3. I get up and go into the other room to see scampering on the table.
4. She sees me and jumps down.
5. I go back into my office.
6. Go back to "1" and repeat.

It's like a game. A game that I apparently keep playing -- which makes me wonder who the stupid one actually is here ... but I have learned one thing: She's the queen of this slice of universe.

I am merely the princess.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

... making a blog post of a meme (or, when inspiration fails to call, wing it)

1. What time did you get up this morning? 5:00 AM. Same as every other week day.

2. How do you like your steak? Oh steak, I miss you. I don't eat meat anymore. When I did, I liked it cooked so that I could hear it faintly whisper "moo"...

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Black Swan. Seriously, if you've seen that movie, I'd love to talk about it. I can't stop thinking about it and the twisty-craftiness of the layers of jacked-upness.

4. What are some of your favorite TV shows? I don't watch a tremendous amount of television, but I enjoy NCIS. Oh, that Mark Harmon. Dreamy.

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? The boring answer? Right where I am. I'm happy here in New Hampshire, despite the fact that it's SNOWMAGEDDON! It's a SNOWPOCALYPSE! SNOW MY GOD! (No, seriously, I love New Hampshire.)

6. What did you have for breakfast? Coffee. Followed by a coffee, and then rounded out with another coffee.

7. What is your favorite cuisine? I love spicy foods of all kinds. Yes, I know "spicy" isn't technically a cuisine. But my love for spicy-ness crosses all cuisine boundary lines.

8.  What foods do you dislike? There are foods that I know are good for me but that I don't enjoy. I wish I liked them. I wish I liked salmon. I don't. Not even a little. I wish I enjoyed green tea. (I keep trying to tell myself it's delicious and my taste buds look at me in disbelief. "This AGAIN? Are you kidding? We HATE this!" But it's so good for me! "We DON'T CARE!") Sigh.

9. Favorite Place to Eat? As in, an eatery? Or as in a geographic location?  This is a trick question, I think. Okay, for eateries: There's an Italian restaurant in North Carolina called La Piazza. Amazing, locally owned, glorious.

Geographically? The beach. Everything tastes better at the beach. Even if it's sandy and gritty. Still more delicious for proximity to the ocean.

10. Favorite salad dressings? Bleu cheese. I would eat concrete if it was dunked in bleu cheesey goodness.

11. What kind of vehicle do you drive? A VW Rabbit. That car just makes me happy in a most ridiculous way.

12. What are your favorite clothes? I like skirts and sweaters.

13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Hmmm. In the US I would enjoy Napa Valley, I think. Scenery. Wine. Like the mothership calling me home. In terms of the entire globe? Tuscany. (Wait ... scenery ... wine ... I see a theme).

14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? Depends on the day. I would LIKE the cup to seem half full, and to be a half full kind of person. On a bad day, though, the cup is almost totally empty.

15. Where would you want to retire? I find this question curious, primarily because of the fact that, due to the nature of my job and the power of the internets, I can quite literally work from anywhere; as such, the going off to retire someplace is sort of moot. However, wherever I fetch up, I would like there to be a beach nearby (...and possibly cabana boys...).

16. Favorite time of day? I like sunrise and sunset best.

17. Where were you born? Dover, New Hampshire

18. What is your favorite sport to watch? I have a new and strange obsession with watching golf. I think it's because it's one of the few things my dad and I both enjoy.

19. Bird watcher? I like birds. I usually can't tell you what I'm looking at unless it's kind of a gimme (hummingbird, check. Cardinal, check. Peacock, check. Um ... in the tree over there -- it's ... a little brown bird!)

20. Are you a morning person or a night person? Both, given the correct circumstances.

21. Do you currently have a crush? Yes. Moving on.

22. Pets? I have a cat. Or rather, the cat has me.

23. Any new and exciting news that you'd like to share? It's sad to me that the answer to this question is no at the moment. I would love for there to be new and exciting and happy news in my life... and while I am happy, there is no news. (Perhaps no new is good news?)

24. What did you want to be when you were little? When I was little, I wanted to be the boss of everybody. Oh wait, like a job? "Boss of everybody" isn't a job?

25. What is your best childhood memory? Blowing soap bubbles on my nana's porch on an overcast Easter morning.

26. Are you a cat or dog person? I have a cat. I love cats. I also really love dogs. I may have a split personality, animal wise.

27.. Are you married? and do you have children? (mildly hysterical laughter ensues) No. and No.

28. Always wear your seat belt? I have a history of being hit by cars. And trucks. And the occasional bus. So I can tell you with some authority that seat belts save lives.

29. Been in a car accident? see the above.

30. Any pet peeves? It annoys me when people use quotation marks gratuitously.

31. Favorite pizza topping? Pineapple and jalapeno (don't judge. It's like a circus for your taste buds!)

32. Favorite Flower? Hydrangeas. Daffodils. Gerbera daisies. Lilacs. Orchids. Dandelions. (Ever drive by a field full of happy yellow dandelions in the afternoon sunlight? Amazing.)

33. Favorite ice cream? Ben and Jerry's Cake Batter Ice Cream. Oh those boys. I should break up with them, but I can't ... they're so loyal. And sweet.

33. Favorite fast food restaurant? I don't eat a lot of fast food. Does Panera count? I like Panera.

34. How many times did you fail your driver's test? Zero. Which, if you've ever witnessed me trying to parallel park? Shocking.

35. From whom did you get your last email? I get a lot of email, both of the personal and work variety. Perhaps a better question would be "From whom do you WISH your last email was from?" and I'd say, "Mind your own, Nosy Nellie." You're a cheeky one.

36. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? I would prefer NOT to max out my credit card, thank you very much. I would very much love to have a ginormous gift card to Barnes and Noble (if I was going to get one at a big national chain) because ... oh books, how I love them. I love the way they look, I love the way they smell, I love everything about them... and I love bookstores. And libraries. And other places where the books hang out.

37. Do anything spontaneous lately? Sure. Oh -- did you want to know what it was?! Not telllllling. 

38. Like your job? My job makes me really tired. But I love the people I work with, so that makes all the difference, I think.

39. Broccoli? I'm sorry, but this isn't a real question. If it's meant to ask, do I enjoy broccoli, then yes, I do. Are we rationing words, though that we can't write "Do you like broccoli?" And if so, why? For what are we SAVING the words?

40. What was your favorite vacation? I really enjoyed vacationing by myself in Boston. I know that's weird, because I live in New Hampshire now, but when I lived in North Carolina I took a week and went to Boston by myself and just roaaaaaaamed around. It was the best experience. So valuable.

41. Last person you went out to dinner with? Kristen.

42. What are you listening to right now? The Barenaked Ladies ... and the Storm Troopers upstairs. They're an unruly lot.

43. What is your favorite color? I love a lot of colours. I'm a big fan of orange. I also like red quite a lot... and blue. I wear a lot of blue. Oh, and purple. I like purple. I'm not good at choosing a single colour, apparently. I like every single crayon in the box.

44. How many tattoos do you have? Four.

45. Coffee drinker? Oh coffee. How I heart you and your tasty goodness.

46. How many children do you have? Zero.

47. Favorite season? Seasons, ranked in order of favoritism. Fall. Spring. Winter. Summer. (I don't like to be hot... which probably explains why North Carolina didn't really work for me).

48. Favorite music? I don't think I can choose. I'm not very discriminating. I kind of like everything.

49. Favorite holiday? I don't think I have a favorite holiday. Is that weird? Do most people have one of these?

50. Country or City? Beach.

51. Favorite Hobby? Reading... and writing ... and travelling ... and singing ... and generally being completely goofy.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Forever In Blue Jeans

I woke up with this song on my lips. Literally. I actually woke up singing.

(For the record? I love it when that happens.)

Then I sort of danced about (in a clumsy half asleep fashion) singing it while I prepared for my day. "Mon-neeey talks ... but it don't sing and dance ... and it don't walk. As long as I can have you here with meee I'd much rather beeee -- Forever in blue jeans, babe!"

(Now it's in your head too ... isn't it nice, how I shared that?)

I mentioned this to my mother who said, "Oh, you've always really loved that song." I immediately had a memory of going someplace with my parents and sister. We were in the minivan. It was raining. I remember the windshield wipers swishing and the windows fogging up, and this song came on the radio and I was SO happy -- for no obvious reason. I remember that moment of complete joy. I don't know where we were going or why we were going there, but I remember my parents getting a kick of how much I love that song.

Sometimes it's just funny what stays with you. 

Remembering that moment, though (well, that and an email from a friend) made me wonder: when was the last time I was completely, deep in the heart happy  -- just because? For no reason other than that I am just allowing myself to experience joy without trying to qualify it ("I'm so happy because I just got that promotion") or ruin it ("I shouldn't be this happy because I still have a grillion projects to do and I'm never going to get them all completed")?

I couldn't remember, and that makes me a little sad. Because it's a choice, isn't it? Or maybe, it's more that it's a sum of our choices. The choices I've made have allowed me to become a person who looks at my own happiness and then wonders if I'm deserving of it.

Which, hello, is ... pretty freaking stupid, isn't it?

I was going to write "I can be so unkind to myself" but I don't think it's just me. I think WE can be so unkind to OURSELVES. We treat ourselves in ways that would make us really irate if we witnessed someone else being treated that way. If I heard someone saying, "I would like to be happy, but I don't think I've earned it" I would have to -- firmly, but gently -- remind her that is nonsense. You don't have to earn joy. It's not currency. It's like air. It's free to everyone. You just have to breathe it in and know that you deserve it simply by virtue of being here.

I like the idea of there being two Danielles -- the one who is here, sitting at my desk, puzzling through what turned out to be a complicated life (but then, they're all complicated, aren't they?) and then, another Danielle who followed a different path. One of us got out of the van after singing her little heart out along with Neil Diamond and trucked down the road that leads to this moment at this desk. Parallel universe Danielle decided to live IN her joy and followed her bliss a little more closely. She is wild and free, that one. She takes more chances and has more adventures. She probably found a nice, hippie-ish boy and married him in a field of dandelions and then danced barefoot to "Forever in Blue Jeans" and lives in a cottage near the ocean (since she's my imaginary parallel universe me, she's also thin. And has great hair. Oh, and a golden retriever named Fergus).

In this reality, I know that the past cannot be changed -- but I know that the present CAN. Looking back is not terribly helpful if all you do is dwell on the things you didn't do or focus on the "mistakes" you made. Looking around, at where you are right now? That's useful. Are you where you want to be? Are you WHO you want to be? If there's something that would make you happy -- down in the heart happy, filled with joy -- are you chasing it?

If the answer is no, then -- why not?

I can't rewind and become parallel universe Danielle. But I can be her moving forward. Happily dancing barefoot in a field of dandelions -- I am determined to be that girl. 

And when I'm there? I'll probably be wearing blue jeans.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Just Keep Swimming

I have to be honest: there are days when I come to the blog site, open up the text window, and then just stare at it. All of the posts in my head flee from the space on the screen. Start typing, stop typing, delete, stop, get some water, start again, stop again. Bang head against desk a few times. Resume staring at screen. Nibble on a thumbnail. Decide I need a manicure. Reject idea of going to get one and decide to do my nails myself. Get nail file. File and stare at screen. Consider writing a blog post about manicures.

Realize that no one wants to read about a manicure. Then realize that knowing that doesn't mean that I won't someday do it.

Decide not to blog, rationalizing that no one will care. Realize that I will care, since I made a commitment to daily blogging. Run through things that I wish I could write about, but can't because I don't know what to say (is X a fine example of dreamy ... or a tool (and why can't I tell)? Why am I so worried about Y? Am I so embarassed about one of my recent decisions that I can't write about it?) and realize -- yep, still not ready to write about any of them.

Type. Delete. Type. Delete.

Decide that music might help. Throw in 30 Seconds to Mars. Lose a moment or two to the contemplation of the beauty that is Jared Leto. Lose another moment to the contemplation of my own shallowness as a result of the previous contemplation. Decide that I don't care that I'm shallow. Mostly. Is it shallow that I care whether or not I'm shallow?

The cursor blinks. Blink. Blink.

Recall reading something about sharks -- how they have to keep swimming or they'll die -- and decide that maybe the only way to get anything out is simply to start getting the words down, one at a time. Just keep swimming. Eventually, inspiration will come.

Just maybe not today.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Waiting Game

I am not terribly patient -- not in an "Argh! Why is this taking so long? Watch as I become angry and accusing" way (though, in retrospect, I'm sure that's happened one ... or two ... thousand times) but in an "Oh! I'm very excited/agitated and want this to happen RIGHT NOW!" kind of a way.

Usually this means that if I buy someone -- my mother, for example -- a present for her birthday, she will get it WAAAAY before her birthday, and then I will buy her ANOTHER present when it's her birthday, because I'm excited about what I bought and I want her to have it RIGHT NOW. (For the record, my mother hates this. I can't help it.)

It also means that if I'm going on vacation in August, and it's only February, I already have a loose plan for what I'm going to pack because I'm excited about the trip. I've also already requested the vacation time and purchased tickets and thought about whether or not I can get away with a carry on and no suitcase.

So when I am forced to have patience, I don't like it.

I am currently being forced to have patience.

I had some medical tests last week, and the results were supposed to be in on Friday. I didn't hear from the doctor so I called her. And waited. And waited. And when I finally stepped away from the phone after 5 PM, that was when she called me back... and of course, when I called her back 10 minutes later, she was gone for the day, so I STILL don't have the results.

They're kind of important.  (And by "kind of" I mean "definitely". They're important. I would like to have them back, whether good or bad or inconclusive, just so that I'm not in the dark.) However, there's nothing I can do right now but wait, which is what I have been doing, albeit with a poor attitude and very little grace.

I do keep thinking that, perhaps, by making having to wait, I am being forced to slow down. I go at 100 miles an hour all of the time. Somewhere to go. Something to do. Zip zip zip. Instead of spending my weekend zooming around like a rocket, I spent some time sitting with myself, and considering the fact that not knowing the test results didn't fundamentally change anything. If the outcome was less than positive, the only difference was that now I had that information. I would still be the same person with the same goofball humour and the same issues and silliness that I had BEFORE the tests.

I also thought that if the outcome is less than positive, it would mean I need to treat myself more kindly -- and then I thought: why not treat myself with more kindness anyway? What's wrong with that plan?

Not a thing.

So here I sit. Still waiting.

(However -- since I am still sitting here, waiting, I'd like to take a minute to tell you that heart disease is the number one killer of women... and there are things you can do to prevent it. Check out for more info, would you? It will make me happier while I wait -- and you want to help, right?)

Hey, me again ... I did finally get the results back and everything is totally fine. Sigh of relief ... aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh ...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grace In Small Things: Sunday, February 6

1. "If someone looks at you and doesn't get that you're fabulous? That person is an idiot." Thanks, Momma.

2. Sunny blue skies.

3. My new vanity license plates, which I'm sure I will keep having to explain, but which also make me laugh every time I look at them. (Let me say now: They say "WASCAL" because I drive a WABBIT. Get it?!)

4. Finally choosing the next tattoo design (I think. Maybe. Probably.)

5. Friends who keep redirecting me so I'm not worried or frightened. Thank you for reminding me that I don't need to be alone.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Saturday Photos

Behold: six girls circa 1994.

I know, they're fancy. (And so YOUNG, I think now.)

They would go on to accomplish great things.

They all went to college.

Five of them are mothers.

One of them is an artist.

They have been all over the world.

One is a missionary.

One LOVES Kenny Chesney (A LOT).

All six of them are musical.

They are thinkers and dreamers and doers. They are poets and philosophers and teachers and learners.

The future was theirs and ... it's STILL theirs.

They are amazing.

Even if they are no longer quite so young.

Friday, February 4, 2011

February Song*

This has been a start/stop post, albeit mostly in my head.**  I know that my general tendency to blunder willy-nilly into an issue like a bull in a china shop is part of my charm***, but there are times when I really want to write about something and can't find a good way to approach it.

This is one of those times, and it's frustrating; however, I've often found that when in doubt, it doesn't hurt to tell a story.

So, a story.


I'm standing in my room, staring into the closet. I have tried on five different shirts and they are piled in a heap on the bed. Shirt number six is also not working for me. I need to leave for the party in an hour and I know I won't be ready.

The problem is not the shirts.

This has been brewing for days. It's going to be a big party, and I will know some people there, but not very many. It's also going to be incredibly fun -- my friend who is the hostess and who invited me has a knack for putting people together and having crazy, delightful gatherings -- but for the last few days, thinking about going has made me intensely uncomfortable, as though my skin doesn't fit properly.

But I said I'd go, I keep telling myself. It will be fun! I like fun! It's true, I do like fun and I know that it will be fun. I also know that I'm in my sixth shirt and I am diving back into my closet so I can change again and right now, I'm not anywhere close to having fun. I am miserable, and the muscles as the base of my neck are forming into a hard knot, as they do when I get tense and stressed. I feel jittery, as though I've had 17 espressos. All of the colours in the room seem to bright.

I give up looking for a shirt and pull out my sweatpants. Not only will I not be going out tonight, I will not be going out tomorrow. Or the next day. I will call the hostess and make an excuse -- car trouble, illness, something -- and then spend at least a week avoiding everyone I know because I have stepped so far out of my comfort levels that it's going to take me a while to creep back to where I usually feel at ease.

As I change into my most comfortable clothes I wonder why no one else ever feels like this, and I wonder if I'll feel this way forever.


It turned out that it wasn't just me, and it wouldn't last forever. But I remember how it felt. I know that several people have emailed me when I post about being depressed, and many of you have mentioned some form of social anxiety. While I've never been able to overcome my innate "OH MY GOD I AM SUCH A DORK" because, well, Oh my GOD, I AM such a dork, I have found that I (mostly) am able to get over the (much more occasional) paralyzing fear of leaving the house.

I haven't done it by myself -- the progress I made was mostly a result of very persistent (some might say pesky -- sometimes it felt that way) people who refused to go away. When I closed the door? One of them would knock until I let them in. "Come outside," they'd say. "There are things to do out here." Eventually, I would listen and it turned out they were right. 

I later found that instead of wringing my hands in stress and shame, I could use them -- by knocking on a door. By offering a hand up.

Or by writing a little story in the hopes that it might make someone else's day better.


**despite the fact that these seem like random and chatty musings, I do try to plan them out a bit, as a rule, so I have an idea of where they're going to go, though I sometimes stray wildly from the original plan.

***Did I just claim to have charm? HAHAHAHAHA

**** You know who you are.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

An Open Letter to Parents

Dear Moms and Dads,

You're rock stars.

Here's how I know: I have today off. I have a grillion things to do -- appointments to keep, errands to run, a car to shovel out of snow that's up to my knees. I need to work out and I would like to take the time to meditate after working out and I need to go to the bank... and at some point, I will also need to shower. And do laundry. And eat.  Oh, and put away the clean dishes and the clean laundry and I would also like to rearrange my pantry -- if there's time.

I'm sure there will be time.


Anyway, the point is this: I'm not quite sure how all of these things are going to happen today... and it's just me. The only person I have to get to the proper places, feed at somewhat appropriate times, clothe and care for is MYSELF.  I cannot imagine trying to get these things done AND get a smaller someone to school, help with homework, take to practice and clubs and activities and doctor's appointments and playdates and make sure they go to bed at a reasonable hour and whatnot.

But y'all do it.

Every dang day.

And honestly? You make it look easy. Which is why I'm taking the time to write this letter. Because I know it's NOT easy. I know it's actually really hard. It's hard if you have a job outside the home, and it's hard if your job is to BE at home. (Anyone who decides that "stay at home parent" isn't a full time, incredibly difficult job? Is an ass.)

You're a hero. You're a hero if you've got little ones who need you for pretty much everything -- and you always come through. You're a hero if your children have grown up and become adults with children of their own because they were able to do that as a result of what you did for them. You're a hero if you have teenagers who are in-between and think you're pretty ridiculous and obviously the most idiotic person on the planet but who want you to fix their problems anyway -- and who will eventually appreciate that you guided them through those challenging years.

You're not just a hero. You're a superhero with superpowers. You can see the faces being made behind your back and call a child out without turning around. You can hear what your child is saying when she's not speaking at all. You know that when you ask what your three year old is doing in there and he says "Nothing?" that it's DEFINITELY something to be checked out. You know when a hug will fix everything.

You set boundaries and you guard borders and you administer justice. You are the first teacher and the best example. You teach your children how to love, how to lose, how to fail, how to succeed, how to grieve, and how to celebrate. You teach them how to work and how to play.

You do all of this AND you keep appointments, run errands, work out, meditate, eat, shower, do laundry, clean dishes.

You're a hero.

You're MY hero.

I just wanted you to know that.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's My Party

One of my birthday resolutions was to live a healthier life, which seems so delightful and wholesome and shouldn't be that hard, right?

You'd think.

I recently read somewhere that "Your body is the piece of the universe that you've been given." I don't think I've been caring very well for this particular piece of real estate. I have a tendency to ignore and neglect it. Other things to do. Too busy for the gym. Too tired to make real food. Too much of a hassle to go have a checkup. Plus, it's not like things aren't working properly, right? I feel fine, right?

Okay, so maybe I'm tired all of the time. I work hard, so exhaustion is normal. Maybe I get short of breath sometimes, but I've had asthma forever, so that's normal for me. Maybe I'm not the most fit I've ever been, but screw it, I'll get around to fitness later.

This is what I've learned in the month or so since I made my healthy living birthday resolution (and went to the doctor for the first time in YEARS): there is only now. Right now, this moment. You can do something positive in this instant, or you can do something negative ... and choosing NOT to choose? That doesn't fall into the positive category.  Because those choices -- positive or negative, do or do not do -- are important. They roughly translate into: Do you want to be here, on this planet, for a while? Or would you like to leave early? Because if you'd like to leave early, then by all means, please continue with the not sleeping, and the inactivity, and the ridiculous amounts of stress you carry. TOTALLY your call.

But if you think you'd like to stay for the party ... well, you might want to reconsider.

I need to learn to choose better. I am good at PLANNING to make better choices. The ones I am not so successful with are the ones that happen on the fly: "Do I need to let this moment ruin my day?" "Do I need to carry this burden of responsibility right now? Is there someone who can share it with me? Could I, in fact, put it down?" "Is this important enough that I should invest my time and energy in it?" Those are the moments where I make the worst choices, and I find that those choices directly impact all of my other healthy living choices.

I should have realized that earlier... but I missed it. Missing it before, however, is no excuse for missing it NOW.

I'm digging this shindig, and I want to stay.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Write On

I think if you write in a public forum, you've had some version of this experience: You're at ... say, a coffee shop, enjoying a warm and cozy beverage. The music is something enjoyable. You have a book that is well crafted and engaging. Basically, you're doing your thing and you're happy about it.

The door chimes and some people come in. You hear your name and look up -- hey, it's two of your friends! Awesome! You're chatting and friend one mentions something you wrote in your blog and is cracking up about it. As you talk, you look at friend two, and realize a change has come over his face at the mention of your blog. His eyes slide away from you and he is suddenly enthralled by the cafe's artwork.

That's when you realize: He's read your blog.

And he thinks it sucks.

Your friends move on -- they go to get their coffee, and you resume your interlude with your book, sort of. The whole time, though, your brain is divided between your book and the idea that your friend thinks your blog is terrible. Half of your brain is wondering if that Mr Darcy is going to get his act together and win Lizzie's heart, and the other half is thinking "Well, it's true that my blog is not very literary. I could probably do a better job... I do start a lot of sentences with 'and' and I tend to be fairly chatty and I do ramble ... look, I'm rambling right now, and this is kind of how I write, so I can see how someone might think that my blog is a little sucky... oh my, DOES it suck? Maybe it DOES! And if my FRIEND thinks it sucks (and there's that AND again, Dammit!) then why is anyone reading it at ALL? Arrrrgggghhhhhhhh!"

Or maybe this hasn't happened to you.

It's definitely happened to me.

After the angst and the fretting and the fussing and about four more coffees, I had an epiphany. Here's what I realized:

It. Doesn't. Matter.

It doesn't.

It's nice when people like what I do -- and let's face it, we all want to be liked -- but that's not why I do it; I'm fairly certain that that's not why ANYONE writes. I write because I enjoy writing. If I wasn't publishing it in a blog setting, I'd still be writing, it's just that no one would be reading it.

The risk of putting it someplace where people CAN read it is that perhaps, some people won't like it or won't get it. That's a risk you run every time you leave your house, though isn't it? Sometimes people won't like you. Sometimes they won't get your jokes, won't think you're cute, won't think that you're smart. When you were a kid, your folks told you that you were fabulous -- it's true, you are -- but they probably didn't tell you that you would not be universally loved.

Here's the truth -- I firmly believe that if you want unconditional adoration and love, you should get a dog.

Otherwise, you need to deal with the fact that not everyone will recognize or appreciate your innate fabulosity, whether in person or through a platform where you express yourself. That's okay. What's not okay is if you STOP embracing your own love for what you do -- be it knock knock jokes, or karaoke, or painting, or blogging -- because you are so worried about whether or not people will love it and, by extension, you.

So if you think my blog sucks, I'm okay with that.

However, I am forced to ask -- why are you still reading it?