REPORT A PROBLEM
Outside the tall, narrow windows of the local Methodist church, spring wind pushed around the thin branches of the trees. I watched this as I listened to my girlfriend sing showtunes with her community choral group, and I thought about how every church should have elms and oaks right outside the windows, for parishioners to reflect on during sermon or song. This church faces the town square -- literally a wonderful, lush grass square with benches, water fountains, crisscross paths, somewhere to stroll on a late Sunday afternoon, perhaps with a coffee drink in hand. Every church should have this, too.
Here is an example of the type of thinking that I am working to change: When I didn't get to finish the entire month batch for 100 Words March, I heard my inner voice: "You failed. Another batch down the drain." When what I need to be thinking is: "You wrote each day for most of the days in March! Great job!" It is all in how you phrase these things, right? This site is about the goal to write each day, not a batch total. I want desperately to make positive thinking a natural thing. It's worth the effort.
From time to time I think about my web presence, my dormant domain, my professional listings. I think of creative websites that I would love to start, focused blogs I would like to write, pictures I would post. I ask myself why I don't have a Twitter account. I wonder about the need to join the EFA, to create a business website. And then I think about it some more and realize that I just don't have the time or need right now. Oh, the argument stands that one should have that presence for when it is needed. I know.
For the first time in my life I have been having a very frustrating experience with my eyesight and my prescription. I can't see as clearly as I think I should. I've been through two different prescriptions and still, seeing close now is not as good, but far is working. Is it the doctor or my eyes? Are they changing shape? Am I just in the middle of two prescription numbers? Am I just getting old? Growing old(er) is fine with me, but all this switching around has made getting my new funky glasses less exciting, I must say.
After his hour, K really wanted to go outside, and who could blame him? Aside from a strong, cool wind, it was beautiful. So we got on our sneakers and went over to the playground. The slides, of course, are his favorite, so he hit those at once. Almost immediately, some girls came screaming. His expression was confusion and panic. They were overwhelming his space, so he called for me to come up on the equipment and sit down with him. Then he sat on my lap and we went down the spiral slide together, a feeling I'll always remember.
Tonight was madrigals rehearsal. We missed the last one because K was not feeling well at the last minute, crying and whining, as he sometimes gets, and so to stay with him was best. So I was eager tonight to have that energetic, connected vibe that we had two weeks ago. Yet there was only half the group there, so common now it seems, and three people said that they would be away for the next two weeks starting next week. So frustrating! Without the full group, the dynamic is so different that it is hard to get the notes.
At the art school, the potters arranged their bowls and plates, sculptures and vases, out on the narrow shelves, carefully placed by color, fit, type. I, with my weakness for small, earthy wares, spot beautiful orange and black glazed cups, branches and leaves wrapped in an Eastern autumn sensibility around and around. The artist is there and writes out my receipt, telling me how I can wash them, drink from them. But I won't. Eventually, when my son is older and won't throw his ball inside indiscriminantly, they will go on the white mantel or in the arts & crafts cabinet.
Mother's Day: Smiles from K. Pancakes for breakfast. A little work. Getting my tealights and my updated Chicago Manual of Style copy. A son who won't nap. A husband who burns his hand badly when making paninis. An evening party with the family. K running around the yard, loving the small plastic slide, the beanbag toss. Potato salad. Chicken. Ham. K's little tie and matching plaid shorts (so cute, a sale at Old Navy). Birthday cake and candles. K making it knows that he does not like group singing. Getting to bed a bit late and slipping under cool covers.
Talked with a friend about thinking negative thoughts, the overwhelming nature of this for us, how we should not think that we are specially "annointed" for bad things, and it led to talking about the process of working on this. I said that I have two layers, and the first is worth working on, and it is what I currently address, the life triggers, the tools I need to improve basic interactions and reactions, but then there is this second level, where I store these compulsions and experiences, which I need to discuss and address. Why can't I do that?
The sushi restaurant was basic. Typical. A bar across the back, two endposts as fake gray trees (rather ugly) a large TV at one end playing CNN (a regular customer asked for CNBC but luckily he let that go). The salmon sashimi came in very large pieces, tasted good, cold, buttery. The tempura was light and delicious too. In the end, we were too full to walk down to Ben & Jerry's for a cone, and too cold and tired to sit on a bench in the square with latte, so we headed back to pick up K, missing him terribly.
Things I really like these days: my sheets with bold blue constellations on them; my iPod Touch; the soft chirping of the happy songbirds near the full feeder; the way I slip into my prepregnancy jeans and shorts; the rebirth of the plants and flowers that I put in last year; the way that K says "bath" with a deep Southern drawl; the way it feels to laugh really hard at a funny geek science joke on Big Bang Theory; driving along quiet, shady roads; that relaxing feeling when I get all my work done while K is still napping.
Thought today about how these days -- oh, okay, these past years -- I have had no time to be me, not just to do things for myself. I mean, BE me. Except for a few things like writing these words each day, singing each week, the occasional trip into the city (even my recent curling lessons), I have not really expressed myself at all. Or, I could say that I have become mom, so I am me every day, but then I miss the previous me who found time to write poetry, read short stories, visit friends, listen to music, laugh.
I know that things change (in fact, today a beautiful baby girl was born in New York City and so the world changes) but it is incredibly frustrating when something I enjoy changes to the point where it is hard to experience the same bliss from it that I used to. The air has seemingly been let out and it has morphed to a lesser version of itself. There is nothing I can do to get it back, either. It now has its own dynamic, takes on its own depressed state even before things have begun. What can be done?
It occurs to me that although I wonder whether moving to this house was the right thing, living here has made me more aware, perhaps more comfortable, with change. I hate change. I hate that many of my favorite childhood farm markets have turned into malls. I hate that relationships have to fizzle and people turn sour. But on this block things change constantly. Just today, a new sidewalk across the street. Recently the neighbor hacked down their dying tree; another tree on the street sawed down a week ago. Neighbors come and go. I’m getting used to it.
Today I am thinking about how my best friend in the world (at the time) and I took off for Maine in the late 1980s, how we sang “It’s the End of the World” by R.E.M. over and over on the car ride up, then put in the Little Shop of Horrors cassette. We went to Ogunquit because her boyfriend was working at the local playhouse doing lights and theater stuff, and we would wander backstage, breathing in that sawdusty, old red paint smell, then walk the cliffs. I’d meet a man and follow him blindly.
I am certain that if I take the time to do focused research, to really think this idea through, to sit in the university library and go through old history books in a stack on a corner table while young undergraduates give me strange glances because of my outdated sloppy weekend clothes and my tousled brown hair, to outline and formulate and draw from classic literature and Romantic poetry, to develop themes, that I could come up with something very good for a novella. Perhaps I will have the time in a few years. Perhaps sooner, if I am lucky.
I have a plan (another plan of so many that I already have and have yet to or will not implement) to read one poem a day starting June first for the whole of summer. I am out of touch with poetry and I want to start writing it again, so this is something I can do to get back to it without putting so much pressure on myself to do a lot about it. The last time I immersed myself in poetry was when I did "Five Poems" with K when he was a baby and could not object.
I wonder too often how our family must stack up against others -- stranger, dirtier, lazier ... but then someone tells me of another family who wanted a certain thing done a certain way, or I see someone's messy room, or I hear of those who have less, or I read about people who don't remember to do much of anything, and then I feel like we are rather typical and boring. I will take typical and boring. It is nice, like a picnic or a row on a lake with a nice breeze through the hair or rocking in a hammock.
I took more cold medicine tonight, so here is the test to see if it makes me have crazy dreams. Last night I had a doozy after taking a dose. Aliens attacking Earth, causing entire towns to line up in rows of seated citizens, and then they took some of the people to make bread loaves of them, and then a bunch of us (whoever "us" was, I don't know) decided to go to Denver, but I said I'd go only if I could return in time (for what I do not know). What? Don't ask me. Drugs were talking.
I was visting my parents' house with K this afternoon and my mom mentioned that the ash tree at the very front of the property is pretty much dead, and it will be costly to take down because of its towering size. I didn't believe her, but when I looked more carefully, way up past the electric wires, I could see that it is indeed dying or already dead. I thought about how uncomfortable I am with change, and how things do change, and how much I hate HATE trees coming down and how many I've seen coming down lately.
I am not sure what to write about. Maybe next month having a prompt for each day would be best. Today is the birthday of my first best friend. We met in third grade after counting worms together on the wet asphalt playground. She is wonderful and different in the best of ways. I wish she lived closer. She is the only friend who has shown K consistent generosity for birthdays, holidays, random days, even after I had shown most of my friends' children my own generosity. She had a dog named Tom. We both had stuffed orange aardvarks. Strange.
I explained to R why everyone is so nuts over Oprah leaving television, how women at home when Oprah started never had someone talk about finding your authentic self. She brought us Dr. Phil to get real about relationships, she brought classic literature to those who might not be inclined to read, she emphasized positive thinking and living the life you really want, all for women. I think the money and power changed her. When she had Tyler Perry on and called him generous for buying her and Gail the Rolls cars that they loved, that's when I checked out.
Amazing weather across the United States this past week, honestly for the last month or so, with terrible storms, tornadoes, hail. The pictures are unbelievable: a neighborhood completely unrecognizable. Just walls and wires and wood. Mangled cars. One woman who was driving downtown to get pizza and then she's gone. They find her car, a dented mess. Her seat belt is still buckled, and one shoe is still in the car, but where is she, her three kids want to know. Incredible. It's so random, where the storm comes and where it goes, who it takes and what goes where.
While reading to K before he went to bed, I started thinking about where in the room he might want to put his bed when he is older, and I thought of how next to a window always seems good, something I did in my own room in my parents' house, and then I realized that this house doesn't have a window like that, where there is a nice tree right outside it, and I thought about the scene from the end of Miracle on 34th Street where she gets her house, and I started to get all sad again.
So much I could do: work, cleaning ... yet I am watching crap television, exhausted, writing and then going to bed. I am trying to keep myself from feeling down, but too tired to do much of anything. I check my calendar and see that this is caused by my friend soon coming to visit: the exhaustion, the overwhelming emotion. (Am I dating myself? Do people even say "my friend" anymore? I am sure there is some cooler, hip term for it, but what would I know about that?) I do know that it is making me eat lots of chocolate.
I have recently become addicted to sudoku (again), and the local paper prints one puzzle each day, and it gets progressively harder through the week so that Sunday is the hardest. I can do Monday's easily, and Tuesday's to Friday's aren't bad, but for some annoying reason I can't get the damn weekend puzzles no matter what I do, and it is making me absolutely nutty. They are supposed to reduce my anxiety, but now they are just getting me all worked up. I suppose I have to stop using pen and just take to erasing, but I hate that.
His look is somewhat youthful and scruffy, like an unshaven Elijah Wood, really, and he has a shepherd-like dog named Rosie, and he lives across from his godmother in the house his aunt used to own -- a Victorian type with a nice open kitchen and dining area on the side, with a front sunken living room and flat-screen TV over the fireplace and a sectional couch, and he is soft-spoken and very polite and keeps his bedroom neat, but he is without a name. I try out many, most of them rather boring, but none ever stick.
Today in the wastepaper basket in my office I realized that I have an empty Reese's peanut butter cup bag and an empty chocolate chip cookie bag and an empty Petit L'Ecolier box. Geez. I must have been really stressed (or it was that friend) the last week or so. When I saw these all together in the same place, I figured I should weigh myself, and so it seems I have gained two pounds back. I can't bear to be any heavier than I am now, so it's time to cleanse for a week or two and lose it.
Just outside to turn off the flickering tea lights in the glass globe stakes that line the curved bed at the front of the house, and the air was heavy with a dark, burning wood smell, not like a fireplace but more sweet, perhaps a grill, and then when I came inside and upstairs I noticed through the blinds that there were lights in my neighbor's backyard, and I looked through to see that they had three tikis burning on their deck, alongside small lights on wires: very festive and such a strong summer smell. There is something about fire.
Very busy holiday today: grocery shopping trip (K wrangled two Matchbox cars out of that one!), ATM stop, gas stop ($48 ... what?), a little work (not enough but it was a holiday, so oh well), handwashing some handwashables, a laundry load (which is still in the washer ... oops. Oh well), broken blinds in the bedroom that have the temporary fix of an orange tablecloth over the window (bright orange!), set up babysitting, found out that my mil has shingles so no sitting for her, took K to the park and photographed him on the slide, forgot to make banana bread.
Today the neighborhood rabbit decided that my front bed was a good place, and it planted its furriness there to start eating the long, delicate leaves off my orange lily plant. I wanted to shoo it away, but I couldn't do it. Ten minutes later the rabbit was lying on its side in the shade, and I thought, Oh, bunny, don't die, for goodness' sake, but after about a half hour it got up, licked its foot, and went to my lily to eat the rest of the leaves. I have two plain sticks now. I hope I get flowers!!
The Tip Jar