About Half Way There

One would think this would be an easy box to fill. I mean, who knows more about me, than me? The thing is, I know so much and, yet, so little. Everyday I'm learning something new about me. And everyday I'm trying to tweak the things I already know. So, if I'm still learning and still tweaking... then, really, I am not 100% sure of who I am. I mostly know who I want to be and I sort of know how to become her. But what I know for sure is that I am half way there.

An Hour Later…

Let me preface this story by stating that Kid 2 will go to just about any party he’s invited to if it is implied that there will be LOTS of food and even more dancing…

It took him under an hour to get ready and another 20 minutes to figure out how to get his tie perfect but, alas, by 7:45, he was ready. Technically, the party started at 7:00. It was his umpteenth sweet 16 party invite this year. He looked quite dapper sporting his new way too expensive haircut and purple/gray tie. We get in the car 5 minutes later and I ask, “where to?” to which he replies, “um, just drive west on Division.” — red flag #1

I drive up Lake St. instead and he tells me to turn right on Central — red flag #2

I slow the car and stop in front of a door that is clearly decorated for a birthday party. As he starts to exit the car, a mini-van cuts in front of me and 6 people get out of the car. They look at me, I look at them, we all look at Kid 2… Kid 2 looks ecstatic. — red flag #3

So in the most sensitive, politically correct manner, I ask Kid 2, “so, whose party is this again?” To which he rolls his eyes and says a name that sounds an awful lot like Kahlua. I’m a fan of the liqueur so I thought to myself, it’ll be fine.

As he closes the door, I hear one of the kids from the van ask him, “you sure you at the right party?” To which my jovial ‘ready to get his party on” son smiles and disappears with the group behind party door number 1.

I drive off, run some errands and wait for him to text me when he’s ready to come home.

Text from Kid 2: Mom you can come pick me up now.

I drive up to birthday door 1. He pops out of the hall and walks over to the car with a smile on his face.

me: so how was it?
him: memorable
me: did you have fun?
him: at first I just sat there for a while but then when the dancing started it got fun… that is… until the ambulance was called.
me: oh… wait… what?
him: it happened during the twerk-off
me: uh
him: this one girl twerked so hard she slipped and dislocated her knee… mom, she screamed soooo loud. her body was this way and her leg was that way and she kept screaming but the music was so loud some people kept twerking. I didn’t know if I should cheer for the other girls or help her… but you know how I feel about blood and people in pain. I was so confused. (very short pause) Needless to say, the bday girl won.
me: um
him: also, I walked around and saw there wasn’t any real food so once the paramedics left I figured I should just go home.
me: um
him: Kaliah looked nice though. At first she had on a pretty dress and then she changed it up for the twerk-off.
—- awkward silence —-
me: so let me get this straight… you got there, sat around, then danced a little, then watched a dance…errr… I mean twerk-off, then witnessed a young lady practically cripple herself, then saw her carted off into an ambulance, where then the ‘competition’ resumed to end with the winner being the bday girl who actually changed outfits and in that time, you scanned the venue and noticed there wasn’t any food to your liking. — baby, YOU WERE ONLY THERE AN HOUR!

Bacon and Grace Makes Everything Better

“Why can’t you two be like normal divorced parents and NOT talk to each other?!?!”

Turns out he told her she could do something, after I told her she couldn’t, and then retracted his yes to pair with my no. She was not a happy camper. Ahhh, parenting from two different homes and making every effort to show a united front can be as challenging as, well, parenting from one home while making every effort to show a united front.

I know both forms of parenting all too well. Thirteen years of 1-house/2-parents was way easier than 2-houses/2.5 parents has been (hard, but not as hard as it could’ve been). Parent 0.5 is quiet and shy and generally sits on the sidelines and let’s us (parent 1 & parent 2) do what we do. I appreciate her involvement in my children’s lives without getting involved in our parental decision making. I’m not quite sure what she thinks of our parenting skills or how he and I relate to each other but, for four years, she’s been good and patient with my kiddies (yeah, even with kid 1!) and that’s all that matters to me.

I’m not oblivious to the fact that kid 1 was correct when implying that the co-parenting kindness the ex-husband and I have towards each other is not at all normal. What she sometimes fails to miss during her Veruca-esque fits of anger is what it took to get here. I can only surmise that none of this would have come to pass had it not been for a whole-lotta grace.

Last Saturday the ex-husband and I had our annual sit-down-face-to-face breakfast. I had the french toast and bacon as we talked about what, where and how we will continue to parent two of the craziest, fun, smart and sometimes most difficult kids ever (and when I say ‘difficult kids’, I think we all know who I mean). I won’t deny that it doesn’t really make my “Top 5 Awesome Things To Do” yearly list. But, for us, it’s a necessary pow-wow. The first couple of years were the hardest but by year three, thankfully, it just got easier to show up less angry.

For the record, it wasn’t only him with whom I was angry. I was really pissed at me too.

WHAT?!?!

What reason could I have possibly been angry at myself? After all, it was due to his actions/choices that we were now co-parenting over phone calls, emails, texts and annual french-toast and bacon breakfasts.

Well, in all honesty, I was angry that I had failed. I was so ashamed that I couldn’t keep my family together. The way I had seen it, in the realm of all the dozens of tasks I did throughout the day, I really had one main job and that was to keep my brood in tact.

Given that we didn’t start our marriage the traditional way, looking back, I would’ve bet on the odds against it working out. Though we’d been together for over two years before we married, my proposal came in the form of ‘The stick turned blue. Guess who’s getting hitched?’ Not exactly romantic. Not exactly promising.

The first couple of years into the marriage were less than thrilling but, apart from that teeth-grinding thing he did when he slept and thinking it was cute to leave ‘his scent’ in the room for me as he walked out, everything seemed to be going smoothly by the time year 3 rolled around. We were definitely one of those families who enjoyed being around each other and had our calendars filled with things to do. 

Of course, I didn’t know it at the time but over a dozen years worth of daily to-do lists and scheduling had become such a comfort. That is, until my very structured, very put together, very content life, suddenly ended. I know, I know, all the pros will say that there must’ve been years of deterioration before the actual day it all ended. Far be it from me to question the pros, so let me just state, without question, I did not see it coming.

One summer afternoon I dropped my husband off at the airport and the next time I saw him, he sat down next to me on our bed, took a deep breath, looked me in the eyes and told me, among other things, that he didn’t want to be married anymore. That may have been what he said but what I heard was, “I don’t want to know your thoughts, share your dreams, see you smile, make you laugh, rub your feet, share your bed, go for walks, be your dance partner, watch movies or make memories with you anymore.”

That was seven years ago.

It became an uncomfortable comfort to hear those damaging words play over and over in my head throughout that time. But, thankfully, they slowly died out. Well, mostly they did. To say that I ever possessed the power within myself to display kindness and grace to the ex-husband throughout those two years following that dreadful night, would be an outright lie. In fact, there were more than a few moments when I tried to figure out how to really, really hurt him in a way that couldn’t be traced back to me. I was an emotional wreck but I wasn’t a total idiot. There was no way I was going to be brokenhearted by him AND do hard time because of him. Needless to say, I’m grateful that my seemingly evil plots were always foiled when I realized it would mean that I would have to get out of bed.

All kidding aside… kinda… I can truly say that being patient and kind to him during that time can only be attributed to barely a fraction of what I knew to be God’s grace. Don’t get me wrong, I was far from understanding what all of that meant at the time. I’m still not completely sure. What I do know is that as much as I wanted to be and say cruel and hurtful things to my husband who had betrayed me, I really couldn’t bring myself to say them to my children’s dad. Most days I really hated that ‘they’ were the same person. But as the weeks turned into months and those months turned into years, the process of forgiving and trusting that the Lord would give us both the wisdom and strength to get through it, prevailed.

How my marriage started may not have been ideal but all of the in between stuff was really good and fun and hard and frustrating and silly and mundane and, well, for the first time in my life, it was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t always know it’s what I wanted but I did appreciate it. I did. Not every minute of every day. But, on most days, I knew that it was a good thing. It was a good life.

But that was a lot of yesterdays ago.

As I chowed down on my second of the three slices of bacon on the plate (he actually asked me for a slice… *sigh* it’s like the man never really knew me at all), he and I discussed our parenting hits and misses in 2013 and went over our list of hopes and aspirations for this new year.  He was saying something about his summer plans with the kids and suddenly I had the urge to cry. And so I did. While I sat there silently crying crocodile tears into my last wedge of french toast, I knew that he was freaking out a little. And, as far as he knew, there was no apparent reason for this spontaneous flood of tears. But there was, in fact, a dozen or so apparent reasons. But none that I could really express or explain to him.

As I sat across the ex-husband, a flood of memories hit me. The thing is, they weren’t even memories of things that actually happened. They were memories of dreams and desires I once had. Ones that I had hoped and prayed for, for so many years. Some were unrealistic but there were a few requests I petitioned for which made my heart ache as I realized the Lord’s answer wasn’t ‘yes’ or even ‘wait’. It was, simply, ‘no.’

In that instant, I had become a little more understanding of the angry outburst kid 1 had displayed, regarding her father’s decision to no longer allow her to have what she felt she had earned.

So there I sat in the booth at Cozy Corner, across from the ex-husband who was now visibly upset because I was upset. He reached over and did the patting-of-the-hand while giving me the ‘there, there’ look. Comforting never was his strong suit but I give him an “A” for effort. Once again, he apologized for how things had turned out for me. I shook my head and said, “It’s not that. I promise. I’ll be ok.”

The thing is, I really wasn’t mad at him nor did I even think he should feel guilty for my sadness. I know it would be easier for me to blame him for everything when things in my life aren’t going as I had hoped. Allowing him to believe that he should still feel like he owes me an apology for something for which he’s already said he’s sorry and has also proven it in his actions, would only cancel out everything I’ve learned grace to be.

I know some people don’t get it. And that’s ok. For a time, I didn’t either. And then one day, it just made sense for me to do it this way. Extending grace to someone who hurt me more than words can describe was no simple task. But once the decision was made to do it, I only had to keep my word to me. I didn’t promise the ex-husband or my kids that I was going to do it. I didn’t even promise God I was going to do it. I do remember praying for the strength to do it. And then I did it.

We sat in silence for a minute or two looking out of the window. He never asked why I was crying and I didn’t offer a reason. Though we can once again break bread, talk and be friendly towards each other, we are no longer best friends. But we can, ONCE AGAIN, break bead, talk and be friendly towards each other. Grace = another chance; even if it looks nothing like the chance we thought we wanted it to be.

I watched as he reached over his side of the table and cut the last slice of bacon in half. He handed me one half then extended and held up his half as if to give a toast. I smiled, held up and extended my half and said, “to bacon… it really does make everything better.”

What The Funk?

What the… as if the snow and cold temps weren’t bad enough, I went to make myself a mug of hot chocolate this morning only to realize the milk went bad. I’ve tried and tried to deny this is happening but I can no longer put off what I’ve been trying to fight for the past 3 weeks and 6 days. I guess this last straw only means one thing… ladies and gentlemen, I am officially in a funk.

And instead of sitting in a corner, crying uncontrollably, eating my hair, I thought I’d try to write myself through this thing. I would love nothing more than to write an uplifting story right now but I can’t. I simply can’t. Try as I might (and I have been trying for about 3 weeks now), I can’t seem to find too much joy in anything. That’s not to say that I’ve taken to wearing all black and responding to people in one word sentences. It’s just taking a whole-lotta effort to find the glass-half-full stuff in my world.

Funks don’t happen to me very often and even when they do, I usually only allow them to have a couple of days of my time. But I’m finding it awfully hard to shake it this time. Did I mention how much I hate it when folks publicly crank about how awful life is when, in fact, it ain’t all that bad? I mean, if I let myself be reasonable about this whole thing, I’d realize that the injustices and catastrophes in this world far out weigh my issues. But, alas, funks are not about being reasonable. They aren’t. They are an ‘all about you’ thing… or all about me, as is the current case. Funks are never-ending thoughts of ‘that’s not fair,’ ‘why me?’ ‘why now?’ ‘not again’ ‘how come my life can’t be as perfect as theirs?’ Funks make you want to believe that everyone else’s life is exactly the life you were supposed to have. Funks get us to believe lies about who we are or who we aren’t, what we’ve done, what we haven’t accomplished, if we’re good enough and, worst of all, that we’re not worth it —sidenote: not sure what ‘it’ is but funks are not very specific on naming ‘it’, they’re only good at making us feel worthless when it comes to having or being ‘it’— I hate feeling this way and thinking this way. I wish I could just turn it off. It should be that easy, shouldn’t it? I’m a very sensible woman. I know that funks are worthless and time consuming and are no good for my complexion. I know this. I KNOW THIS. Why can’t I shake it? Funks suck!

Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if there wasn’t so much crying involved. It’s horrible. And so inconvenient. I find myself fighting back the tears for just about every little thing. I’m at work working on a spreadsheet and the numbers 07-05-06 come up as sequential numbers I have to enter and suddenly my bottom lip is quivering. Why? you ask. Well, that happens to be the day we moved out of our home in Florida. I didn’t even know I remembered that was the date until today. —another sidenote: one more great thing about funks, all of a sudden, you have the best memory EVER—  Usually I remember all of the bad stuff but apparently any memory that can make me long for the life I once had is also fair game.

For the record, funks do not limit themselves to just conjuring up memories that make you weep like a moirologists. Case in point, my 11 month old niece made a sound that kind of sounded like my name and, wouldn’t you know it, 2 seconds later I balled. You’d think she’d reenacted that one heart-wrenching scene Sally Fields did in that one movie (eh, you pick… there have to be a least a dozen to choose from). Just so you know, I am NOT watching any movies/tv shows that can add salt to my open emotional wounds. I have purposefully stayed away from romantic-feel-good-type entertainment as much as humanly possible. But it doesn’t matter. Can you believe I actually got a little misty eyed when they ran the Memoriam segment on The Talking Dead. True Story! Then there was this morning’s last ditch effort to find entertainment that would help to ease the funk in my attempt to find solace with music; music without any lyrics. That didn’t go so well. I tried listening to soothing, classical music only to find myself in a pool of tears at the end of the song. Turns out it was a Beethoven piece that goes by the name of “Pathétique.” Perfect. (insert staleface here)

This weekend I thought I’d try to make the most of this funk. I mean, if I’m going to go through it, something good should come out of it, right? With that said, I thought I’d try out this whole ’emotional eating’ thing people keep talking about. I realize it’s not a good thing for the majority of mankind to eat their way through a funk, but, given that I’ve lost a few lbs in as many weeks, can you see how I thought this might be a good idea? — one more sidenote, logic is not our friend when in funk mode— Here’s why that didn’t work out for me. I realized the reason why I lost a few pounds is because when I’m in a funk, the sight of food makes me nauseous. I didn’t make the connection until after I bought a pizza and wings and chips and some other stuff that I’m not gonna take the time to type out because just thinking about it makes me want to hurl. Geez Louise, I can’t even drown my sorrows in chocolate cake. Although, I did have 2 slices of pumpkin bread… IN A ROW. Please note that I did put forth the effort. FYI: I’m not bulimic or anorexic. I’m in a funk, people. Let’s try to stay focused.

All attempts to defeat this funk have failed. I’ve gone to concerts, read books, over worked, blow-dried my hair, got my eye-brows threaded, bought new shoes, volunteered my time,  journaled (yeah, I won’t be re-reading that stuff for a few years), talked about it, prayed and prayed and prayed about it, oh and did I mention the crying? So where does that leave me? How do I get past this? How do I get to place where my head isn’t swarming with a million thoughts? How do I get rid of the invisible 100 pound weight that seems to be sitting on my chest? When does the moment come where I can stop reminding myself how to breathe? My guess is, none of those questions will be answered anytime soon.

Did I mention how much funks suck? Out of nowhere, they just take over. They’re the emotional version of squatters. And they move into our heads without signing a lease. And for some unexplainable reason, they have rights. They belong. They’re ugly and unruly and scary and sad and angry and frustrating and they represent all the shitty things we know exist in our world but don’t want to deal with. We make every attempt to bypass them and distract ourselves as much as possible when we see them coming. And even when we know they’ve moved in, we try to ignore them as if they don’t exist. Sometimes, we even try to pawn them off on someone else. Like squatters who live under the viaducts or sleep on park benches, we look for ways to avoid eye contact with them until we have no choice but to look them in the eyes. When all is said and done, there’s no denying, they’re there. They exist. And there’s one living in my head… right now.

Maybe that’s where I’m at today. Maybe this is my way of looking this squatter-of-a-funk of mine in the eye. Maybe I’m done bypassing and trying to distract myself from dealing with it. I hate that it’s here. But I can’t deny that I may have given this recent funk the impression it could pay me a visit. I made unwise choices and trusted someone who has their own multitude of squatters to deal with. And though I may have given this funk the impression it could visit, I certainly have no intention of becoming roommates with it. But it’s here now and, as with every single other funk that has paid me a visit, I have to figure out how to get it out of my head without causing any more damage.

And I guess that’s where you come in. I assume you’re reading this because you care to know me a little better. Or maybe you just happened to come across this blog on accident and found it so riveting that you had to read this complete stranger’s ranting about being in a funk. That works too. Given that we all now know I cannot get over this funk on my own, would it be too much to ask if you would say a prayer or two for me? No worries if it’s not your thing. I only need one or two people to help out (though I won’t be mad if the numbers exceed that). I realize the verse in Matthew says, “for where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” and I know we aren’t really gathering together in one place but let’s not get all boggled down in those details. I just need you to pray for me. I need to laugh again with reminding myself how to laugh. I need to eat without force feeding myself. I need to sleep without the help of Tylenol PM. I really need to stop crying. But most of all, I need to remember why it is I really am worth ‘it’.

A Public Apology To My One True Love

Hello my love. I’m writing to you to publicly apologize for abandoning you this morning. You have to know that I didn’t want to go. Please believe me when I tell you that leaving you is always the worst part of my day. I know it’s hard for you to believe because I do it all the time. And like all of the others who say that they love you… need you… can’t live without you, I offer up my very own heartfelt, “I’m sorry” and “I love you” and “I can’t live without you.” Honestly, it’s not a petty apology. I do love you. I do need you. I really can’t live without you. I truly am so incredibly sorry. I don’t want to make this all about me but you need to know how I feel… what I go through when I have to leave.

Let’s start with the obvious… morning. For some unexplainable reason, someone, a very long time ago (before I could give my input) decided that when the sun came up, it was time to start the day. Had it been up to me, I would’ve made it so that I wouldn’t have to leave you for a full 3 hours after sunrise. — which reminds me of a few weeks back when I was on vacation. Remember how the sun came up and I didn’t have to leave? Remember how I just laid there and you let my conjure up ridiculous notions of bike rides and taking long walks by the beach. You let me believe I could lay there with you as the hours passed and that I would still have time to clean, run errands and frolic under the sun.

Hmmm, something just occurred to me. If you cared about me as much as I do for you, why do you allow me to believe such ridiculous thing? I can’t lie in bed all morning and still have a full day to do the things that need to be done. Not that I wouldn’t love to but I can’t just stay cozied up under the blankets and make plans that will never happen. You let me believe that the world is mine. You let me believe that I am the smartest and wittiest and cleverest woman who has ever walked the earth. You let me believe that I can do crazy things like run a 5k in under 35 minutes and look cute when I cross the finish line. You let me believe that I can get out of insanely dangerous situations with ninja-like skills. You let me believe that I’ll live in houses I’ve never been in, love children I’ve never seen and dance in 5 inch spiked heels I don’t own. You even let me believe that I look good in yellow. LIES, sir… all lies!  I give you an extra hour of my time and I walk away believing a ton of lies. 

WHY??? I have been so loyal to you. I am all yours when you decide you want me. Sometimes I lay in bed for hours just waiting for you to show up. Not that I’m ever disappointed when you do. But, 6 hours is just not enough. And don’t get me started on the nights you show up at 2am and suddenly you vanish by 5. And you think I’m selfish and inconsiderate??? And don’t think that just because you give me a half-hour nooner on Saturday afternoons that it makes up for how you treated me during the week. Don’t get me wrong, I adore you. I really do. But what do you want from me? I wait for you with bated breath. Longing for you to show up. I do what I can to prepare myself for your arrival. I shower and brush my teeth. I wear cute pj’s. When I dry the sheets, I throw in gently scented lavender fabric-softner. You think I do those things for just anyone? No sir, it’s for you… all for you. And don’t think that others can’t tell how unfair you treat me. On those nights when you decide to show up for a few measly hours… or not at all… I go to work with bags under my eyes, lose my appetite, have no desire to work out and absolutely no energy to perform daily tasks.

I wish I didn’t need you the way I do. I wish I could be one of those people who can just walk away from you in the morning with a smile on my face and feeling completely satisfied with our night together (no matter how short a time it was) . I hate those kind of people.

Anyway, I realize I went off on a tangent here. This letter was supposed to be about how sorry I am for, once again, putting my son and work and life before you. I hate that it has to be this way but it’s just how it goes. With that said, I look forward to being with you tonight. I was thinking that after a nice, long bubble bath, I would pour myself a glass of wine, wear my oversized t-shirt, crawl under the blankets and try to focus on my book until you show up. Don’t keep me waiting too long, my love.

You’re so dreamy. I love you, Mr. Sandman.

T

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Pre-Empty Nest Summers

 

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It’s been exactly 4 full days that kid 1 and kid 2 have been gone and I’m starting to get ‘that feeling.’ I check my purse, my keys, my wallet and my phone at least 3 times before closing the front door. And once it’s locked, I check once more. I know everything is there. I know it is. But there’s that feeling I can’t shake for a few seconds and it doesn’t take me too long to realize it’s not ‘what I’m missing’ but ‘who.’

Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled and excited that they get to go on these great trips. What an amazing experience it must be for them. Two years ago they traveled through Colombia. They hiked and rode horse back through some of the mountainous regions. They celebrated their dad’s marriage with old and new family. They had the privilege of spending time with their grandfather on what would be his final family vacation. Their memories made, and relationships that began there, have flourished. Including the relationship between the two of them. They got along well enough before the trip. They always have. I mean, the four year difference between them has caused some minor incidences. And there’s no doubt that the divorce, the cancer, the world has brought them closer together. But that year proved to be the one that brought them from the obligatory brother/sister relationship to one of being friends. Voluntarily. And despite their many, many, many arguments about whose turn it is to do the dishes, fold the clothes, throw out the garbage and who had the remote last, I don’t think I’ve ever heard them say they hate each other. That was the year he told her, “you’re the only person in this whole world I’m 100% related to.” It still makes me a little misty eyed when I think about it.

Last year, they had the privilege of touring some of Europe. Her dad kept his 16 year promise and was the first man to ever take her to Paris. They also strolled through the streets of London and witnessed the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace (well, they waited to witness it but I don’t think it happened that day). They marveled at the ruins in Rome where the gladiators once fought to the death and ate more pasta than they care to recall. Last year is when the 4 year gap suddenly narrowed. They learned they liked the same movies, music, jokes. Their conversations became longer and private. That part has taken some getting used to. When she left for California in the fall, I went into her room to make sure she was awake and I found him curled up beside her. Her head buried in his shoulder. Needless to say, the 2 seconds it took for me to leave the room (for their privacy and because I was well on my way to the ugly cry) went by in super slow motion. I can’t remember if I was sad because they were going to miss each other, proud that they would miss each other or overwhelmed at witnessing just a small part of their bond. I didn’t know that I wanted that for them so much until I saw it.

This year their family trip finds them in Germany with Austria and Switzerland next to conquer in the weeks to follow. They update on facebook and send me private messages in my inbox. One complains that their dad is being cheap the other that their dad is being too protective. I smile. I know they only complain to me about him because they think it makes me feel better. Little do they know that I feel most comforted because he’s doing those things. Earlier this Spring, kid 2 said he didn’t want to go. He doesn’t like the long plane rides and he wanted to hang out with his new high-school friends this summer. Neither his dad or I were upset about his decision. But then kid 1 found out. That did not go well. Needless to say, after a 5 minute conversation, he was back on board. Best part of that convo… “what do you mean you don’t want to go? this is our only real time together without our ratchet friends getting in the way.”

I do love that they are spending this time together. Learning about the world outside of Chicago. Learning about the history of countries far older than our own. Learning how to be a family outside of the one I make up with them. Learning how to grow their friendship. I do love this time in their lives for them. But I miss them. Not just how a mom misses her kids. I like my kids. I like them a lot. They not only make me laugh and challenge me as a mom, they challenge me as a person. Even when they are the most confused or start to feel like life is pinning them against the wall… you know, the way life can do to us sometimes… they may cower for a minute or two. Maybe even make an unwise choice in the whirlwind of emotions that happen within the situation. But, when the dust clears, they’re they are… standing all tall, with a smile on their face and a smart-ass remark to boot. Survivors. Don’t tell them but I’m pretty sure they get equal parts from those of us who are only 50% related to them.

Which brings me to this pre-empty nest summer. You’d think it would get easier seeing as it’s my third one. Not that it’s tragic. I’m making do. You wouldn’t be reading this if they were here. But still, I don’t like it. I enjoy alone time. I’ll enjoy most of these next 9 days. Kind of. I have my new job and that’s good. But I don’t live to work. I went 12 years without a ‘real job’ and found more fulfillment and purpose in that mundane life of being a mom. At times, the noise drove me close to insanity. And now the silence does the same. There were times when our 2 floors of home with a double lot backyard felt too small for the four of us and the countless friends who roamed in and out. Now, our 1300 square foot condo with a deck can feel haunting. There was a time when I used to think about what it would be like when the kids were old enough to drive and do things on their own. I promise, it never looked like this. I have my moments of anger/regret/disappointment. I’ve learned to stop asking why. Although I do wonder, how did I get here? But then I take a deep breath, close my eyes and let myself see what I wanted. I give it a good 5-7 seconds before I remind myself it’s time to open my eyes and see what’s there. Once in a while, I close them again. Quickly. But most times, it’s just makes more sense to do what’s harder, so I keep them open.

There’s a tree just outside of my front door. This year, it didn’t bloom. At all. In it there’s a bird’s nest. The kids used to point it out every Spring. They didn’t need to though. It was hard to miss with all the bird tweeting coming from it. Obviously since there are no leaves on the tree, with the protection from the elements gone, there haven’t been any birds or eggs in the nest this year. For a few weeks I thought it was the saddest thing. But today I looked up and thought it was kinda cool that the tree is still standing. It appears to have no use anymore. But there it stands. Who knows for how much longer? The fact is, it’s still there. Even if it’s sole purpose is so that I can admire it just the way it is.

 

 

 

 

Working Out With A Cigarette

I hate running. I honestly, seriously, really do. Other than the apparel, I don’t feel good doing it and I hurt like a mofo after. The thing is, I’ve come to an age where I hurt even when I don’t work out. I have no idea what happens when I sleep at night but, lately, my morning now begins in shifts. First there’s the “why am I awake before the alarm clock” thing. Annoying. Then there’s the sitting up. Yep, no more is there the flinging of the blankets to the side as I simultaneously jump out of bed. Nope. Now I pull the blankets off, teeter to the right a bit, sit up, rub my arms, roll my neck back and forth  and then ease my way off the bed just slow enough to remind my legs “it’s time for work, lovies… time to hold me up.”

Because I am a logical person, I figure, if I’m gonna hurt anyway, it may as well be the good kinda hurt. So, I work out.  My goal is not to show-off or sport amazing abs or to reach a personal best. I do it, once again, because if I’m gonna be in pain, it may was well be the good kinda pain. That’s it.

I went running for an hour this morning. And by running, I mean I did this trot/speed walk thing for 20 minutes and then just opted to walk at a brisk pace. Anyway, about 2 minutes into my run, I noticed a heavy set woman walking toward me. She was wearing her pink workout gear, her Ipod was securely clipped to the strap of her sports bra and her hair was pulled back really tight. I can tell she was gonna own today’s workout. As I got closer, I noticed her arm go from her waist up toward her face. That’s when I realized she was smoking a cigarette. My first impulse was to laugh but I didn’t or at least I didn’t dare. But the older man sitting on the bench off to the side of us did. We passed each other just as quickly as it took for her to take a puff of her cig.

About 15 minutes later I saw her, again, a distance away but walking toward me. As we crossed each other’s path I noticed she had a fresh, unlit cigarette in one hand and a pink lighter in the other. She was sweating like crazy and she seemed to be focused on looking straight ahead. I smiled at her but her gaze was straight. From the looks if it, as far as she was concerned, no one was in that park but her at that moment.

20 or so minutes after that, as I contemplated whether I should slow my pace from brisk to a gangsta walk, I noticed her walking my way again. Her pace had slowed a bit and she was drenched in sweat. And, yeah, she still had what was once a perfectly smokable cigarette clenched in her fist.

I didn’t see her again after that. But she got me thinking. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t gonna stop smoking. At least, not today. But it didn’t look like she was gonna stop walking either. I mean, she had the workout outfit with matching sports bra. Obviously an investment had been made. To me and maybe to you, it doesn’t make sense. Who works out with a cigarette? Doesn’t she know how horrible those things are? Doesn’t she know how awful they smell? Doesn’t she know that the cost of a pack of them could put 2 gallons of gas in my car? Doesn’t she know that this workout thing she’s ventured into could go a little smoother if her lungs were a little clearer? I suspect she does know. But it’s her thing. It’s her “thorn”.

I wonder if sometimes we see the cigarette in people’s hands and get so focused on it that we don’t notice that they’re walking. She was walking! She was doing it! Yes, she had to take a puff before and probably during. At first. But then she decided not to light the next one. At least, not while she was walking. But she still had to hold on to it. I don’t know why. Maybe it was symbolic. Though not the healthiest reward, maybe she decided it would be her prize at the end of her work out. Maybe she just needed to hold onto it because it was something she knew. A constant. Healthy or not, it was her safety net. Or maybe she just forgot she was holding it. Who knows? I certainly do not. And what business is it of mine. She was walking! We crossed each other’s paths more than once and wouldn’t it have been a shame if all I ever noticed about her was the cigarette in her hand. Once I got past the cig, I saw someone working out… working ‘it’ out. All the while, with a cigarette in her hand.

I hope she keeps at it. And there’s a part of me that hopes she keeps at it with an unsmoked cigarette in one hand.

So It Begins…

After wracking my brain trying to figure out what I’d write my first official blog about, I decided I’d write about just how apprehensive I am about writing a blog.

THE PRESSURE:

There’s the pressure of finding a topic. What will I write about and how much should I write about, about the thing I’m going to write about? People’s attention spans are not all that long. What if they have a 2 paragraph/7 sentences-in-a-paragraph-maximum attention span? Let’s face it folks, I ramble. I could be 3 paragraphs deep in writing before I get to the topic, never mind, the point… assuming I have a point.

THE POINT:

Is it necessary to have a point when writing a blog? I don’t want to be preachy. Ok, sometimes I will want to be. But mostly I just want to write stuff.

THE STUFF:

What stuff should I share? I don’t have a problem sharing stuff about me. Many of my friends have a problem that I don’t have a problem sharing stuff about me. I find that’s usually because they may be part of one of my life lessons/adventures. So what does that mean about the stuff I share? Should I use alias’s for my friends? Will they still be my friend if I don’t? Do I really care?

CARING:

I do care what people think. Ok, not all people… but a lot. Ok, not a lot… but some. And what if someone doesn’t like what I write and decides to make a stupid or inappropriate comment? I work for news. Freedom of speech means something to me. But will it mean as much if someone’s freedom on my blog is working my nerves? I don’t like criticism but I’ll take it… I’ll take it to a whole new level is where I’ll take it. I’ll think about it most of the day and well into the night. I’ll have 8 million conversations with myself, God and the criticizer… all in my head. I will forgo nourishment and sleep pondering the critique and wondering how I could be such a loser for thinking I could do this. And then, after a couple of days, I’ll get over it. Just like that. So, I guess I just realized that my caring has as time limit. But the fact that I do take to heart what folks have to say about me, my thoughts and/or my writing should serve as warning to be gentle with me. Also, easy on the swears, people. This is intended to be a family show…  it’ll probably be appreciated more by a twisted-thinking family… but intended for all eyes to see, nonetheless.

ALL EYES TO SEE:

Ok, by all eyes, I don’t mean all. You see, I kinda-sorta have a potty mouth which might leak into my typing. But I promise I will try my best not to put in print every inappropriate adjective that comes to mind. I just hope y’all can appreciate just how much more creative that means I will have to be.

CREATIVE/GIFTED:

I recognize that I am and that I can be better at it. I don’t really like that I’m not as creative/gifted in areas I would like to be. I love music but can’t really sing. I love great acting but, other than acting like a fool, I get nervous in front of crowds of people, so there goes that.  I enjoy looking at art but the last time I tried to draw a car my nephew thought it was a turtle pooping (for those of you keeping score… notice how I used the word ‘pooping’… be impressed). So, I’ve been told and I accept that I am creative at writing. So I will take this gift and run with it.

RUNNING WITH IT:

I have no idea if this will last more than a week or two but it seems like something that can be fun.  I’m all about having fun. I’m also all about working hard for something that I want. So I will do this, whether people read it or not, as long as it’s what I want to do and I’m having fun doing it. As soon as it becomes waaaaaay more work than fun, I’m out.

THAT’s IT:

I’m serious. First blog completed. That’s it.