Monday, January 14, 2013
I love to read. LOVE to read. I spent all day yesterday finishing up a series of six books about alchemy and magic, and now I'm a little depressed. The series is over, the story is done. I loved the ending, but I hated that it ended.
For me, reading is a journey - an escape. To lose myself in a book is to find myself. When I don't take the time to read, I find myself becoming a little lost - a little hopeless - a little cranky. This just means it's time to hit up Goodreads for some more suggestions, and spend some time in the library perusing the shelves. It's a super-rainy day today, so I'm guessing I'll be heading to the library in just a bit.
I don't understand people who don't like reading. Honestly. I've tried. Yes, I get that sometimes it's difficult. I can see where you can get bogged down in a book and really start disliking it for a little while. I understand that sitting and watching a movie is much easier.
But there's no movie crew that has ever topped my imagination. Some have come close - Peter Jackson has worked near miracles on J.R.R. Tolkien, but it still isn't the same. I have a hard time even going to see movies made from books that I loved. I've still not seen The Help. I think I bought it, but I've just not been able to make myself watch it, because I'm afraid of what it will do to my memory of the book.
So here's the irony. My kids don't like to read. Really. I've introduced them to every series, style, concept and author I can think of. I've read to them. Constantly. They love for me to read TO them. They say, "More! Don't stop now!" So, I'll hand them the book and tell them to finish reading it and they say, "Meh." Maybe later.
Joshua loves Calvin and Hobbes and has read all of them, so that's at least something.
But for them, reading is a chore. A necessity to get through literature class. A dreaded task.
And it breaks my heart. It shatters my soul. Nothing makes me feel like more of a failure as a mother than the fact that my children don't love to read.
I still hope. I still introduce new books to them regularly. I still read with joy in front of them, laughing and crying openly at what I'm discovering. Maybe one day they'll get the spark that leaps up from between the page covers and turns them on.
If not...I'll just blame it on Dr. SmartyPants.
Friday, January 11, 2013
I was talking with a dear friend last night who is going through some major changes in her life. She's starting a new career, her husband is starting his own business. Her kids are going through some things. She's juggling 900 things and she let a couple of them fall (shocker!) and she said to me, "I'm just overwhelmed. I'm sorry. I shouldn't be, but I am."
And the moment she said it, I thought about how often over the past couple of weeks I've said, or thought the same thing. My husband is living in DC, my boys have just started a new virtual academy and right now my work load with that is HUGE and I have to do everything - EVERYTHING - by myself right now. And I'm overwhelmed.
Now. Why the hell should we be sorry about it? It's truth. We are overwhelmed. Our lives are full to overflowing with craziness and greatness and nonsense and dammit, we're overwhelmed.
So here's what I told her...
You are overwhelmed. Of course you are - anyone would be. There's nothing wrong or bad about it. In no way does it make you some kind of failure. It doesn't define you as a person, it's simply what is.
People - how often do we beat ourselves up for being where we are? I do it all the time, and I'm sick of it. I don't know why we feel the need to do it, and I really don't care. I just want to stop.
I just want to be.
Life is not perfect. Life is not always calm and serene and smooth sailing and well-decorated. Sometimes, life is just a god-awful mess and we are along for the ride. I'm not talking about the times when you are making choices that cause chaos. I'm talking about times when, completely outside of your control, everything around you threatens to rise up and suffocate you. How do you handle it?
Honestly - I don't have any answers. I'm not a therapist. But here's what I suggested, and here's what we are both going to try.
Find 30 minutes. If that's too much, make it 15, 20, whatever. Go somewhere if you can. If you can't go somewhere, find a place with a lock and threaten anyone who comes near you during that time. Get a cup of coffee if that soothes you; a milkshake if that works better. It doesn't matter. It just needs to be quiet and calm and away.
Cell phones off. iPad powered down. TV off. Disconnected from every thing and person and beep and vibration. The world will not end if you check out for 30 minutes. As a matter of fact, someone may realize they can solve a problem if they can't find you to solve it for them.
Sit. Listen. Be quiet. This is not prayer time, study time, list-planning time. This is quiet, peaceful relaxation. This is getting your head above water and floating on your back while you stare up at the blue, blue sky time.
This is breathing time. Be still.
When you come back, the circumstances will not have changed a bit. In my case, Dr. SmartyPants will still be in DC. My boys will still be trying to wrap their minds around virtual school and my dogs will still be chewing up my furniture. More than likely, the laundry will not have done itself.
But you can face it. You'll still be overwhelmed by circumstances, but maybe your mind will be able to process them differently. Your list will not have decreased by one thing, but maybe your stress levels will have.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Today is my 14th anniversary.
Dr. SmartyPants and I have never had what some would call a conventional relationship. It started unconventionally, it's continued unconventionally to this day.
We met on September 24, 1998, at a
A week later, we had our first date, which ended in an awkward kiss and a promise of seeing more of each other. Very few days have passed since then that I've not seen him. If you're doing the math, we got married a few short months later. Three and a half months isn't exactly a conventional courtship-engagement period, apparently.
Our engagement was a bit odd, too. We were actually going over the budget so we could see if we could afford to move in together, and we were all, dude - why don't we just get married?
Crazy. I know.
We got married at the beach - Destin, Florida, to be exact. We had about 25 people there - close friends and family only. The caterer was a notary public, so she performed the ceremony for us. We didn't have any bridesmaids or groomsmen. When we got started, I asked one of my friends to stand with me and be a witness, and he asked one of his. They didn't know they were going to be asked. After the vows, we all ate brunch together and laughed and had a wonderful time. It was kind of a strange wedding, I think. We loved it. But it wasn't exactly conventional.
Our first year together, we got pregnant, started a new job, moved to a new city, and had a baby. So, out of the top five stressors in people's lives, we accomplished three. Within another half a year, we'd bought a house, so that made four. Somehow, we made it work. Somehow we stayed the course.
Another baby, three more houses, unless you count the one we rented in Arlington for two years, but we didn't actually buy that one - I guess we should just count it as two moves.
Homeschooling. Well - that just gets its own subcategory. Because who the heck would do that? And now, we've added competitive tennis training to the mix. Sure - we could have done soccer, baseball, basketball or football, but why be normal?
This year may take the cake as far as unconventional goes, though. He's off working in DC again. The boys and I decided to stay here. He'll come home every other weekend or so. We'll go up and spend a week here and there. It will be, well, unconventional.
And Skype-y. Very, very Skype-y.
But, we'll make it work. How do I know? Because I just do. Because he's the first person I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last person I think about when I go to bed at night. Because I'm as madly in love with him - no...MORE madly in love with him - as I was when we sat in DePalma's Restaurant in Tuscaloosa and planned out the number of children we would have.
And so we won't be together on this anniversary, no. I've had friends question how we can handle such a stress. And I'll tell you how...
Because this is only one anniversary.
And I plan to have at least 75. Depending on medical technology, I might even push that to 100. Because living to 130 years old seems totally doable, as long as he's in it.
Happy Anniversary, my one true love. Thanks for being so weird with me these last 14 years...
Monday, January 07, 2013
It's Monday. How about a list of awesome things? 13, you say? Okey dokey. 13 it is.
- I woke up 5 minutes before my alarm today.
- The boys woke up with their own alarms, meaning I didn't have to yell up the stairs at them.
- Derek was studying interjections today. Every time he read the word, "Interjection," I felt compelled to sing the song from Schoolhouse Rock. "IN-TER-JEC-TION, shows EXCITEMENT or EMOTION. HALLELUJAH! HALLELUJAH! HA-LAYYYYY-LUUUUUU-JAAAAAHHHH - YEA!!!"
- I refrained from doing it out loud.
- You just totally sang that song in your head.
- Our third day of virtual school has not killed any of us. Yet.
- Joshua is taking earth science, so there's a world tectonic map hanging on the wall of the office.
- I made this last night. Delicious. I used spaghetti squash instead of rice. Super good.
- Skype. It's what is going to make this year work.
- It's 234 days until my birthday.
- My pantry is organized, my closet is organized, my office is organized.
- I re-caulked my kitchen countertops today. I'm a caulking prodigy. Except that I'm 44 years old, which likely negates the prodigy part. I'm a caulking genius.
- My library is holding numerous books for me to pick up today. Like, right now. I love my library.
Wednesday, January 02, 2013
I once knew a girl.
She drew. She painted. She wrote. She played a guitar.
She crafted and sang and drove a fast car
to the mountains and back just for fun.
To the beach and back just for sun.
This girl was the author of her own destiny.
She listened to few and followed whims as if they were
winding country roads begging to be explored.
She read five books at once and loved them all so much
she slept with them in her bed like secret lovers
tucked under her arms and legs. Like lovers,
some were fiction, some history, some self-help and discovery.
Some were empty and she poured herself into them and got back nothing
but a case of writer's cramp and a bad disposition.
Some were just about
Then one morning, she woke up and realized she'd spent
then entire previous day without one creative thought outside of how to
turn half a chicken breast and an old bag of salad into a
meal for four.
And even that wasn't terribly creative.
She wondered when it had happened - the leaking away of her spirit - the slow, steady drain of such a full cask of creativity.
She thought about blaming others for it. They sucked it out of me, she thought. They drained me on a daily basis. They...they...they...
That's when it occurred to her. They hadn't done anything. As a matter of fact,
those around her had done
nothing but pour
gotten back nothing
but a case of writer's cramp and a bad disposition.
It wasn't their fault. It was her own.
Her creativity wasn't drained at all - only siphoned away and hidden deep beneath the floorboards of her overly anxious and
Why - there it is, right there. Full as ever
and just as ridiculous.
Waiting for that girl to come and pick it up and dust it off. To tap it
once again and let it flood out all over in
great sticky clumps of sparkle