I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

When I think of fall, but especially October, I think of quiet, or the only sound around being the crunch of leaves. I enjoy being busy, having a toddler, and drinking coffee to keep me awake during the day as much as the next person. However there is something magical about having a few moments, sometimes even a couple of hours of silence. I don’t mean actual time without noise. Currently I am listening to a sweet Simon and Garfunkle live in Central Park record which is really the best. What I mean is time where no one is demanding my attention. Time in which I have put aside my to do list, where no one is talking to me and expecting me to listen. Few times during the month do all the stars align that my house is empty, Carl is with his dad or a grandparent, Faith is at work or something, dawn or dusk is coming swiftly and all is quiet. I think the few moments I am able to spend like this are exactly why I am able to be a semi functioning human most of the time.

If I could give one gift to women, but all moms especially it would be to find some moments like this in whatever haven you gather the most peace from. There is a great deal to be said and currently is being said about the mental load that falls on mostly women. Things like when is the bill due, are the kids going to need lunch/fundraiser/activity money, who is picking each kid up at a different time when school lets out and then taking each kid to a separate activity, and so on and so forth. Each month I write up a calendar of all the visitation dates Carl has with his dad, all the activities we plan to participate in from Library classes to zoo trips to church things. I try to include everything I can think of. I then send that along with any other pertinent information to his dad. I take that information and put it on the family calendar along with all my work dates, Faith’s work dates and any family events, trips or other things we have planned. I take all that and put it in my personal planner along with any activities I have planned then I put notes in about how much this or that is going to cost. I do this every month and I have been since Carl started have visitation days with his dad I guess at about 6 months.

And when I get some quiet moments I take advantage of them. I find that peace. I sit on my front porch or I sit at my desk or I got to Target or I do whatever I want that doesn’t require me to speak to another human and it keeps me healthy. We should all try and find ways to take care of ourselves…and if that doesn’t work I hear antidepressants can work wonders. But most of all the calming power of a changing season, cooling temperatures, and that hint of the holidays in the air can inspire joy and peace in us if we just let it.

 

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What would it be like to wake up without a name every day except for whatever the shop keeper you just stole from shouts at you? What would it be like to be part of a less than popular minority in Europe? To be an orphan? To not even know what your heritage was? I sometimes bemoan the loss of my grandmothers home, but I still know where I come from. I have pictures, memories and people that claim me. But what if you had none of that and the only people to take you in where other street urchins who were as generally disliked and as much a misfit as yourself? Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli takes thatt premise to Warsaw on the cusp of Great War. I might have read Milkweed  if I hadn’t been so busy reading the Diaries of Anne Frank or the Hiding Place. My own child will definitely be reading Milkweed when the time comes.  I think this book more than many others has the power to leave an impression.

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The book takes place, first on the streets of Warsaw then in the ghetto. The young boy grows, survives, and takes on new names. When asked recently, a group of teenagers in my acquaintance named the fear of being forgotten as one of their great fears. I felt that way as a preteen and well into my late teen years. Spinelli does a wonderful job addressing that fear even as he doesn’t sugar coat how easily it is to be forgotten. As an adult reading this book was heartbreaking but sweet in its simple happy moments. Everyone addresses their anger and frustration with the situation, with the ghetto, with God himself differently.  Uncle Shepsel becomes a Methodist. Uri becomes a double agent. And the boy we learn to call Misha adapts to his surroundings and uses his wily nature to make the best of it. Isn’t that what we all strive to do when faced with life? GOotake a few hours and read this book. It will make you think and heaven knows we could all use more thought in our lives.

I was walking around the happiest place on earth with a conspicuous wet spot on my front….

Recently my little family, (Faith, Carl and I) took a lovely vacation to South Carolina, then followed it up by three days and two nights at the supposedly happiest place on earth. I think everyone has a different happy place but Disney World is pretty damn happy. It was our second trip this year and honestly I hadn’t really originally planned to add it on to our trip that just how it went. It was fun, if busy and there is never enough time to nap. Probably that is my Disney trip related flaw, I do not allow enough time for the thrice daily needed showers and regular naps of sufficient length. On this last trip we bought tickets to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and bundled Carl into his costume and then into the stroller for the 7pm-12am event. He had refused to take a nap earlier in the day which was not a great sign but we forged ahead determined to squeeze as much Mickey in as possible. Generally we accept that Carl will party until he falls asleep but I really didn’t think he would be asleep before we ever hit the parks. Nevertheless he fall asleep in the bus line and didn’t wake up until an hour and a half later when we were seated at Cosmic Rays Cafe eating a quick dinner.

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This wasn’t a really big deal. I knew he would soon wake up and all would be happy and glorious. He would love trick or treating around Magic Kingdom, we could get some cute pictures and ride some fun rides, yada yada yada.

To really understand this story I feel like you must understand what a crazy planner I am. On a trip like a vacation or Disney or even just a trip to the zoo I have a back pack for Carl filled with a bag of snacks (applesauce, cheeze-its, beef jerky, oranges, apples, graham crackers, animal crackers, veggies straws, dried fruit, nuts etc) sunscreen, bug spray, a few distraction toys like bubbles and slinkys, suckers, bandaids, extra clothes, wipes, diaper ointment, underwear, an emergency pull up, cash or coins, water, juice boxes, maps if necessary, and everything else I can think of we might need such as umbrellas and ponchos if it is wet. When we go on vacation I make gallon size ziploc bags filled with snacks for all three of us, one for each day. We almost always stay somewhere with a fridge and so I bring crock pots meals which I plan out ahead of time. If we are staying in a condo I plan all the meals and pack for them before we get there. I always bring at least one roll of toilet paper and paper towels, extra ziploc bags, a wine bottle opener, lighter and flashlight…I’m an obsessive planner.

So we get to the magic kingdom, and after copious security checkpoints we go through the candy line and get our bags for the night, take a few cute pictures, and decide to get dinner while Carl is sleeping. Well that is a fine plan so Faith orders food and I find the only table open in a restaurant that probably seats 250 people or more. For some stupid reason (because you are supposed to bring them in and there really wasn’t room to maneuver one) I decided to just hold Carl and leave the stroller outside. This worked out ok, except that this kids is 39 inches tall and I am only 63ish inches tall which makes holding his dead, sleeping self a little tricky. However I did manage to get seated and as I waited for Faith and food I thought maybe we would go get the stroller after all….Suddenly I felt hot liquid coming out of him and all over my lap and the floor…and there was nothing I could do about it. Carl is great about going to the potty when awake but we have been putting a pull up on him for a while at night. The backpack, which was so thoughtfully packed was outside so eventually I managed to flag down a sweet coworker and without explaining exactly why I needed them get her to bring me a stack of napkins.

And of course the one person I didn’t think to pack extra clothes for was myself. So for the next 5+ hours I walked around the happiest place on earth with a huge pee stain on my crotch. This is parenthood. Carl was thrilled to get to change into his pajamas earlier than originally anticipated and I didn’t have to stress about pictures anymore cause we weren’t taking any. Seldom has life ever been so funny in the curve ball it decides to throw. And you know what? It was ok. It was actually really fun. I wish I had relaxed and let us just wear matching tshirts, taken longer naps, and remembered extra shorts, but we had a blast. Life does not have to perfect for us to be perfectly happy. If you can just live in the present moment, without too much future worry or past anxiety you are guaranteed to find some happiness in my experience.

 

If You Ask Me – A Review

I’ve been reading a ridiculous amount of biographies lately. I think it is mostly in response to trying to write my own narrative. I’m not terribly creative so it helps me to see how other have done it. I picked up Betty White’s book If You Ask Me (and of course you won’t) at the library the a few weeks ago and put it in a hefty stack of books I planned to either read or at least peruse to see if they had any value and there it sat for almost two weeks. On a whim I picked it up Sunday after church and finished it before I had to be back for the 5pm service. It looks much more content filled than it is. It also wasn’t what I was expecting.

I hadn’t researched Betty White before I picked the book up, if I had I would have realized this wasn’t her first book or a true autobiography. It is in fact more of a series of short essays on any number of given topics. She talks about the shows she has had success on, her relationships, her looks, her hair, her memory, her love of stuffed animals and crossword puzzles. Perhaps the most interesting part of this book is that there are accompanying pictures for most of the sections. I think this is fascinating. I love a good book with pictures. Accompanying each story there is a picture ranging from many different decades and varied subject matter. I learned in this book that Betty has a room full of stuffed animals. I mean more power to you Ms. White but I never would have guessed that about her.

Betty White is a wonderful author, an interesting person and honest in her reflections. If you want a quick and funny Sunday afternoon read this one is for you. Its sort of refreshing to hear her take on all of these different subjects since she has had far more experience and more time on this earth to observe humanity than most of us. Besides all that practical stuff Betty White is my hero and I want to be her if I ever grow up, or Lily Tomlin.

Its beginning to feel a lot like Fall!

12139933_10100425313122725_1409104355630922121_oIn honor of this first day that actually required pants and long sleeves I’m sharing my fall bucket list! I’ve got this all neat and pretty in my Bullet Journal but I’ll just share it here in bullet form because everyone should have goals…even ridiculously tiny ones.

  • Try new fall flavored coffee (completed on 10/8/17)
  • Lay out in the hammock (completed on 9/20/17?
  • Fill Pumpkin Leaf Bag (planning to do this today)
  • Bake pumpkin bread
  • Make Apple Cider (I’m already two batches down)
  • Bake a Pumpkin Pie
  • Carve or Paint a pumpkin
  • Take a morning walk (10/9/17)
  • Decorate for fall (been doing that since September)
  • Have fall pictures made
  • Shop for fall clothes and shoes
  • Make a fall wreath (9/15/17)
  • Have a Fall movie day (last weekend)
  • Go to a fall festival

Maybe I will make some time to write about all our fall adventures.

Few things are as restorative to me as getting out of town on the road and exploring a new place. Right before my birthday we ventured on a journey of epic proportions. My mom, as a super awesome birthday gift, rented a car for us to go to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I had never been to an Island so it was a pretty great experience all around. We rented a very pretty Chrysler 300 with less than 1000 miles on it that I definitely should have gotten a picture of before we covered it in road dust and bugs. Faith, Carl and I packed up the car on a Tuesday night and in the pre predawn hours of Wednesday morning we hit the road. The trip takes about 8 hours and there is a time change involved so we ended up getting there right around 3:30am. We stopped for breakfast along the way at Carl’s new favorite restaurant, Cracker Barrel. He regularly requests that we visit. He is definitely related to my mother.

I knew South Carolina was swampy but I didn’t expect the Island to be that way. I was definitely surprised to see the boardwalk to the beach, which was about 250 yards long from the condo was over a swamp. I don’t say that to be dramatic it was literally swamp. There were signs everywhere warning about alligators. Despite that interesting development I did still have the best feeling at seeing the beach and the waves once we crossed over.

It took about a day and a half before I really felt like life was slowing down a little. Partially because work kept intruding and partially because August and September were crazy months. Once I finally did relax however it was the very best vacation/birthday I could have imagined. My favorite thing is seeing the beach at dawn and picking up shells. Luckily Carl also loves it and Faith indulges me. We found quite a few neat shells that I still need to clean. We also found several dead star fish which led to a conversation about death with my two year old.

Despite the death talk and the drive it was a truly amazing few days. Everyone should at least try to get out of the bubble we create for ourselves here or wherever you are and see a little bit more of the world even if it is just within the lower 48. One day I’ll make it to Canada. For now though I am dreaming of New York. 🙂

While I have not yet read Our Souls at Night, the book, it is most certainly now on my list. I was prepared to be disappointed by the movie. As much as Netflix gets things right it gets them abysmally wrong with original works. However, this beautiful bit of a movie about growing older and still finding that sliver of happiness was everything I could have wanted (mostly). I think many of us, when faced with the prospect of growing older, or with older people, somehow believe that they outgrow loneliness or the need for companionship which is ridiculous but maybe it is more of a hope. In any event the heroin of our story, Addie, starts off very boldly by asking her neighbor Louis to fill a need she has for companionship by sleeping over and talking to her. She has been a widow a while and lives alone in a house much too big for a single person and she misses even the most basic companionship. Instead of doing what many do, which is suffer in silence or let loneliness overtake her she reaches out to someone she has known to be kind and who seems to be in at least a somewhat similar situation. What a brave thing to do at any age. And absolutely honest.

While Louis is definitely more hesitant than she is they form a sweet bond which grows slowly over time. It did make me think. I’ve, for all intents and purposes been single for about three years and especially in the last two years its been hard to go to bed alone every night. It would be something truly special to have someone who simply wanted to have a pleasant and insightful conversation with me before bed each night and to close my eyes and know someone else would be with me when I opened them again. This is not to say I am totally alone. I have a two year old of course and my sister is wonderful but there is something to be said for a different kind of companionship. Robert Redford and  Jane Fonda did a wonderful job with the material. I’ve actually never seen them together in a movie before but my mission is to have a movie night with their movies tonight. They are wonderful together. There were several wonderfully insightful moments in the movie but this quote from the book about growing up,  life, marriage and companionship sum  it up well.

“Who does ever get what they want? It doesn’t seem to happen to many of us if any at all. It’s always two people bumping against each other blindly, acting out old ideas and dreams and mistaken understandings.” – Kent Haruf

 

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I love September. Even at its most exhausting this month is my jam. The leaves start turning. We get the occasional cool day (though it has been hot as mess the last few days). Usually this is when I take a vacation as well so lots of good things about this month, and yet through some strange twist in the fabric of the universe I haven’t enjoyed this September as much as I wish I had. Summers are a really busy time for me so every year I know I wont get to do a lot of fun leisure things and resign myself to not enjoying it. This August and September have begun to feel like an extension of that.  How do we combat busy-ness? How do we make things slow down? Well I think the easiest answer is to start saying NO. But then what to say no to? I know I am over committed but I also know that I can’t give up certain things that are making me the busiest.

And still we soldier on. Very early tomorrow/Very late tonight I am headed out on the most splendidly awesome vacation ever! Faith, Carl and I (the three amigos) are headed out to Hilton Head Island which thankfully did not get blown away by hurricane Irma. There was some flooding apparently but nothing too terrible. I’ve been obsessively watching the weather there for about a month. We are going to go do some fun touristy stuff as well as hang on the beach. I wish I could bottle the level of excitement I feel about being at the beach in a little over 24 hours but it unfortunately doesn’t work that way.

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We are going to visit the Harbour Town Lighthouse and Museum tomorrow as well as the beach or at least that is the plan. It looks like a really neat place. There is even a webcam streaming which is a tiny bit creepy in a The Circle style fashion but also kind of neat. This lighthouse apparently also has a female caretaker which is weirdly rare.

There is also a Children’s Museum on the island which we plan to visit. Aptly named The Sandbox it has several neat play areas and a Thursday story time which we plan to take advantage of. Admission is actually cheaper than our local museum. It also has almost a dozen exhibits some of which look cool even for big people.

There are a number of neat restaurants and such to sample from and a Coastal Discovery Museum but the biggest draw is the beach. Perhaps it will whisper the solution to my busy problem in my ear.

Cheers!

 

An Open Letter to the Guy after the Guy after THE GUY. Thanks for the Memories.

You were the guy that came after the guy that came after the worst relationship of my young life. Even I admit that sounds like an awful place to be in. After I picked up the pieces of life post divorce, figured out which friends were really mine and which went the way of the ex, figure out how to live as a single parent and all the stuff that comes with it I did date one person…who just happened to be my ex-husbands best friend. This is me, I make bad relationship decisions. I admit that, but back to you.

When you entered my life a little over a month ago via a Facebook message I thought you seemed interesting. I had forayed into Tinder and Bumble and neither of those were working other than as a running joke between a work friend and I about who could find the worst match. We had things in common, both homeschooled, both in our 20s, both single. I really wasn’t sure there would be anything else since you are an operative of the republican party and I am a pretty much as feminist as one can get without a pussy hat tattoo. I’ll definitely wear the hat and my Nasty Woman tshirt (proceeds go to Planned Parenthood) as we march for the rights we shouldn’t have to march for again and I definitely didn’t plan on being brainwashed into hiding my views by love or money or cheap sentiment that comes with a new relationship. We met at a coffee shop, which I am told is a date, and had a very pleasant conversation where I discovered you weren’t an idiot and we had a few more things in common. You got my number and set up a dinner date for later which was weird for me. I hadn’t been on a date in over a year and before that it had been nearly five years. Dating is a foreign concept for me.

I was nervous and a little excited as you picked me up (I was 27 and getting picked up for a date which felt weird but whatever). I mean why wouldn’t I be excited? Someone thought I was cool enough to take out and spend three hours with. It was fun. You were funny. I wasn’t nervous like the other dates I’ve had in my life mostly because I think I set my expectations really low. It was pleasant, you brought me home and we said we would do it again. Over the last month we have done several fun things. I had you over for game night at my house. You invited me to a poker game and the solar eclipse. Its been fine and even fun but I think I realized from the get go it wasn’t going to be a long term thing and I was right. I could enumerate on the reason that you aren’t right for me and that I’m not right for you but instead I want to say thank you for giving me a new experience and a new perspective. One thing I have realized about dating now versus then is that when we decide to date we are investing time, which we cannot get back into another human so the least that person can do is to honor that time by being present and then being honest. And honestly this is the end.