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.

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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.

Going on a bear hunt, or a book hunt, or an adventure!

Trips to the library are bound to produce a few things, me scrambling to come up with change to cover my inevitable late fees (it’s a donation right?), a dozen or so books I’ve either carefully researched in hopes of building my little Einstein into the genius I just know he is or, and this is more often the case, a dozen books that all come from the same section that look simple to read and mildly entertaining or relevant to whatever we are currently learning. Sometimes these trips result in tantrums, sometimes we get to participate in story/craft time with Ms. Jessica, sometimes we are just trying to kill time in a semi constructive fashion in the air conditioning. I really prefer the library to any play place ever because my tiny 2 1/2 year old tends to get bullied in large groups. Extra small with twice the vocabulary and no sense of fear.

If I think Carl is in a good place for it I sometimes get to meander over to the more adult section of the library and pick out a new book, usually one of the new non fictions or something that is on display because that’s all I have time to look at. Occasionally I get a book I’ve looked up before I get there and know the exact placement of so as not to tempt my little tyrant into making a mess or being too loud In the quiet adult section of the library. Such is life with a toddler I suppose. We took an unexpected and unplanned trip to the library the other day well after the time I usually sanction library trips. We went at the unheard of hour of 6pm. We went out *gasp* after dinner!! And actually it was pretty great. There were only a few people milling about and even fewer people to disturb his play or to mind when he was loud. He did ask me where the other kids were (in my head I’m thinking blissfully somewhere else). I love kids, but sometimes I think places like the library make parents feel like they can sit down, stick their head in a gibberish magazine and take a break from parenting which I don’t appreciate.

Its good to occasionally do the unexpected. I think that’s my biggest parenthood struggle. I have a schedule for nearly everything but I am also inflexible with my flexibility. For example, I don’t make him take a nap at any certain time and I won’t make him take a nap at any consistent time either. We don’t eat lunch at any specific time, it’s always a range. I’m pretty inflexible about that because I could never sit down at noon every day and always be ready to eat. IF any of that made any sense you might be a genius. I’ve also got a “school” schedule made out through next May that I am determined to see happen. It might take all day to get through three activities but we are doing everything on that schedule. I’m not quite sure I understand the school of thought that says a child isn’t ready to learn before a certain arbitrary age. Carl knows the name of just about every Disney character. Clearly he has room in his brain for letters, number, and shapes. I don’t think constant work is good for kids, or asking them to sit here and be still for an arbitrary amount of time, however structured play is not a bad thing.

Here’s to flexible inflexibility. May we always be a confusing mass of contradictory information.

Another day older

 

Fun fact, you are literally not the same person that you were born as. Every year, every day, every minute, and even every second you are changing. New cells are replacing old ones. The you of now looks the same, but isn’t an exact replica of the you of yesterday. Isnt that terrifying? I think when I fully embraced the idea that I was never going to be the same exact person from day to day I was able to better accept this thing we refer to as aging, or you know not death.

I’ve had 27 birthdays, about to be 28. I think the two I had the most anxiety about were 16 and 25. I still don’t know why I was anxious at 16. If I had known I was never going to be that thin and cute again you better believe I would have enjoyed it more. For my 25th birthday I think most of my anxiety stemmed from the idea I had caught up in my head of it being an important moment in the tapestry of my life and it was but not for the reasons I had thought it would be. Turning 25 isn’t a big deal because you think a quarter of your life is over. For all those of you about to turn 25, get over it and yourself. I had to. Turning 25 could just as easily be your last birthday or you could have 100 more.

I’ve never had much luck with birthdays. For my fourth birthday the clown didn’t show up, so my mother, being the innovative and creative person that she is decided to take a bag of birthday balloons and make the best of it. She is pretty great for all the grief I will continue to give her. When I turned 13 I got the gift of womanhood (which is my fancy (read ridiculous, I hate that word) way of saying I learned about menstrual bleeding and cried a lot). People I have known and admired have committed suicide on my birthday and while I’m sure it wasn’t planned that way it tends to put a damper on your happy day if someone you liked took their own life that morning. I’ve had birthday parties that no one showed up to (thanks awkward lifeness). I woke up to a dead kitten one year that we were trying to rescue. When I turned 25 and then again when I turned 26 I think I realized that adults didn’t celebrate birthdays. I mean some people do but no one is really thrilled about it. No one is going to show up in your room with a pony or a dozen roses (I want a pony mom, and so does Carl). I would have settled for a daisy and breakfast in bed for most of my life but clearly I wasn’t getting that either.

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Last year I decided, much like Daenerys that I was going to break the damn wheel. If adults didn’t have fun birthday parties with ninja turtles and a pinata then I was going to make my own rules. I’m a rebel. I spent my 27th birthday with my feet planted firmly on the sand. It was my first trip to the beach in a long time. I think getting married killed the spirit of travel within me that had been blossoming. Fortunately there is a cure for that ailment. Few decisions in life can I truly look at and be 100% sure about but spending a little money to visit Panama City and convincing my mom to come with us was definitely a good plan. We had a blast. Carl got to see the sand and the waves and I got bitten by a crab. It was glorious. I made a decision sitting in that water as the sun was still peeking up into the sky last year. Every year, as long as I am able, I will spend my birthday on the beach. Fortunately I live within driving distance of even Orange Beach so its not a hard self promise to keep, but also fortunately we are going to go to Hilton Head this year. I’m a little worried it won’t be warm enough or that we will get swept away in Tropical storm Irma, but whatever, you only live once.

Perhaps the major difference that I didn’t expect from 25 onward is that I realized no one was ever going to sweep me off my feet and give me the grand romantic gestures I might want or make my life any better than I was quite capable of making it myself. I (knock on wood) am never going to wait on another person before I start making the little bit of life I have be the best life it can be. The beach makes me happy. If it stops making me happy I will find something else that will make me happy and do that on my birthday but damn it I’m going to be happy. There is too much misery in this world for us not to make the most of what time we have. Eat that bag of animal crackers if that’s what you want. Diet if that is what makes you happy. For me its ice cream and sand so that is what I will do.

 

Written while listening to the glorious notes of Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams

 

Mistakes are what we make of them

Six years ago this month I woke up, brand newly married, and had that thought I think everyone dreads and hopefully you wont ever suffer “This was a mistake”. I don’t remember what brought the thought on, but I know I tried desperately to suppress it for 4 years. No newlywed wants to think that they in fact did not marry the person of their dreams. For me even four years into it I was still trying to make it work somehow. Clearly if I could just contort my body and wiggle my eyebrows just right he would love me and we could have a perfect relationship despite all the burned bridges and hard feelings, all could still be right in the world. This is ridiculous. I knew it the day after I did it but I’m stubborn. Altogether I was married for 1,561 days which is a lot of days to be trying to fit a round peg in the square hole so to speak.

I’ve been divorced about a year and a half now which has been great. I couldn’t have asked for a better gift than a divorce. It makes me happy even as I sit here writing this to think I am not legally or otherwise bound to that person. Sure we share a kid, but I am not bound. While freedom has been lovely I have had quite a while to contemplate what it is going to mean to be in my late twenties and divorced (single). One thing I can say for sure is that dating apps, dating sites, and otherwise e-dating isn’t practical for anyone over the hook up. That life is for some people but not me, as much as I sometimes wish it was, I’m either too old, or too practical for that.

All this time has also given me an opportunity to discern what I want from a partner and even to some degree what I actually want in a good friend. I want a conversation. I want someone who will willingly talk about Gilmore Girls and Supernatural even if they don’t watch either show. If I’m going to date someone they need to have read a book in the last year. Preferably more than one. My post baby body is what it is. I don’t diet. I’m firmly against it. I run, occasionally. Mostly i walk but I don’t do any of it consistently. I like Yoga if I can do it in my living room so I don’t want someone who thinks I’m going anywhere near a gym at any point in the future. I’ve contemplated a membership at the Y so that Carl could have swim lessons and access to a pool. I’m pretty sure the only reason I haven’t is because of the proximity to workout equipment.

I don’t want to be someone else’s mom. I even make Carl pick up his own dirty laundry. I’m not financially supporting another adult. I’m never going to give up control of things like bills and I’m probably not going to have in depth discussions about them with anyone. I think what I actually want is someone who has their own space, their own life and just wants to occasionally share mine for social and recreational purposes. Something I have come to value so much more than I can express is space. Space to write, space to think, space to watch TV in relative silence. I don’t really mind if someone else is talking but I’m probably not going to open up about my every feeling all the time. That is exhausting. One thing I have come to appreciate lately is someone I don’t have to carry. I have no desire to smooth over a group conversation that another human has made awkward.

Does this paragon of virtue and witty banter exist? Is there such a human that wants an funny, cynical, liberal, and fitness resistant partner? I have no idea. And really I think the point might be that whether there is or not I’m pretty content to do my own thing.

 

 

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I’ve been on a feminine author and life story book binge the last couple of months. Writing that made me remember I need to pick out books for the beach. Anyway I just finished another excellent but very different book by Jillian Lauren called Some Girls. The premise of the book is to tell you the story of a girl entering a harem. Why would any nineteen year old think that was a good idea? What leads one to that decision? Honestly I was pretty fascinated with the thought process from the beginning and I had to know more. This book has been sitting in the bottom of one of my many bags for weeks now until I picked it up last week because I didn’t want to deal with some issues in my own personal life. I wish I had picked it up sooner.

Lauren explores the sex trade in NYC, as well as how she got into “the harem”. Spolier alert** Its not really a harem. I had wondered about that terminology. She actually is attending nightly parties and while there is sex and an exchange of goods for services rendered it is sort of fascinating how this sort of industry works, especially for me as someone who has never given it much thought. I love bread way too much to ever attempt to make money from my body. Luckily I had different opportunities than she did.

Where I think Lauren did a fantastic job is in humanizing the industry and highlighting her own path to that life style. She doesn’t try to make herself look better, or put a cute spin on what is a really intense, often scary, and more often sad life. She speaks in a voice you can’t help but sympathize with at the same time as you are shocked by the contents of her life. Through all that she talks about seeking help in dealing with her problems, and the good and bad of that life. It was fascinating and I highly recommend it.