Monday, November 29, 2010

Back to reality


Whew. Waking up this morning was a bit rough, eh? I don't know what it is about little breaks, but my body seems to adjust to sleeping in much more quickly than it transitions back into the daily grind. Unfortunately (fortunately?) my alarm clock was there, ever faithfully, to remind me that it was time to awake at 6 a.m. You know, before the sun rose.

Regardless of the cold snap to reality this morning, Thanksgiving was wonderful. We spent a lot of time driving (and even in the rain at some points, bleck) but enjoyed the opportunity to soak in some quality family time and fill our bellies with plenty of turkey, stuffing and pie. More than once. It was delightful, and after losing a few pounds during recovery from my recent surgery, much needed.

Speaking of which, I finally realized what the doctor meant when she told me that I should return to exercise when I "felt like myself again." It seemed like a funny thing to say, but I knew exactly what she meant when the bright sun seared through my eyelids and woke me up on Friday morning: I was me again. Not a slow-moving, ouch-everything-hurts-ing, lets-just-sit-on-the-couch-please cranky pants. It took 9 days. I have slowly returned to my routine, which makes me feel even more like myself. I even joined my husband for a rousing P90X routine last night, which has left me feeling some serious muscle soreness today. It's good to be back.

It's also good to be back to cleaning, baking, Christmas decorating and enjoying the little things-ing. Like a glass of red wine and a slice of butterscotch cheesecake, made from scratch. Or, a warm mug of green tea and the "good blanket." (Yes, there is such a thing. There's a good blanket, which is a quilt, and the mediocre blanket, which is small and not cozy.) It's good to have those things back, too.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful


{HT}

On Thanksgiving day, nearly 15 years ago, my cousin David died very suddenly and very young. It was completely unexpected. He was a very kind, incredibly gentle, amazing person. He was only in his twenties. Then, he was gone. It felt like all we had to remember him by was a holiday, one that we have always raised our glasses and toasted to his memory as a family. It is his day. It can be difficult to gather to celebrate a day that reminds you of a terrible time, a bitter moment in your life that reminds you of another's death. But as a family, we still gather on this day for Thanks. Because we are thankful.

I was young and perhaps not fully cognisant of the weight of what was happening on Thanksgiving that day. I will never forget the panic that filled the room as we sat at the dinner table and watched the paramedics run swiftly down the stairs carrying him on a stretcher. I knew it would change everything. I had never experienced death, not like this. But, you don't have to be an adult to feel the immense weight of a life changing event as it unfolds. It can be hard to understand the reason that someone so young, a life filled with such promise, can be taken away. I still don't understand. But now, as an adult, I still feel the palpable weight of the day and the weight of what it really means. I am thankful for David and for my family. Thankful for his memory, for the moment that we could all spend together in those last moments. Life is precious, beautiful, and fleeting--and it is never more apparent to me than on Thanksgiving.

So on today, David's day, I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's not what you do


{From HT}

A lot of times, it feels like someone is picking on us. All of the awful things just come tumbling down at once like an avalanche and we feel all sorts of miserable. We wish for another life. We hope that things will turn out like we dreamed. Or, we daydream about what it might be like to have another life, a different version of our current reality. One where everything is perfect. Where we have the opportunities to enjoy the things we don't have time for now. A moment to drink in all of the things we take for granted in this life. In that other world, the perfect one, maybe we could get it right if given just a small opportunity. We'd savor all the things we don't have, drink in the joy and know what it feels like to be perfectly, simply, happy.

I'm just as guilty as you are. I wonder what it would be like to have a child, one that has my husband's blue eyes, my crazy blond hair and a serious attitude problem. {I'm pretty sure I sat behind her in church on Sunday.} I dream of what it might be like to be pregnant. I'm curious what it's like to plan for children. I'd love to know what it feels like to see a positive pregnancy test on the bathroom counter instead of throwing hundreds of dollars away on tests that all say the same thing: NOT PREGNANT. Or, to be surprised by a plus sign when I wasn't planning for one. A 'happy accident,' if you will.

It's in those little moments, the ones where we secretly wish for another life, that we begin to realize there are things that are meant to be and there are things that are not meant to be. It seems a bit savage to think that we aren't meant to have a dream, a beautiful blessing, or that we'll never know a certain joy, but it is true. Maybe the the thing that is meant to be is that your dream isn't meant to be.

My mother sent me an e-mail last month. She said she felt compelled to go to church one day after dropping her students off at gym class (she is a teacher at a Catholic elementary school). The priest saying mass said something that struck her: He said, "It's not what you do; it's what God is doing through you that's important." Awful things happen to us, but they happen for a reason: that's why Susan G. Komen got breast cancer, why every other person in this world who was dealt a poor hand received the worst cards in the deck. You can't get pissed off at God for your troubles when you see what good comes of your having them.

And you can't wish your current life away, wishing for a different life instead of this one. Things could always be easier, better, simpler. But they're not. And they're not for a reason. For me, I don't know the reason. You probably don't either. I haven't realized the good in my troubles just yet. But I know one thing for sure: I can only realize the good of this situation with two feet firmly planted in this life, not grasping for the one I wish I had. Maybe we're meant to save a child from a terrible life. Perhaps I'm meant to remind you to treasure the moments and blessings you sometimes take for granted because they came easily to you. Or maybe we aren't meant to have children at all. I just don't know where this path leads.

More than anything, I find myself yearning for the good that I see in things that others might see as awful. The thing about being dealt (what you perceive is) a poor hand, is that you feel this compelling force, urging you to find the positive, good things in the potential misery. It's as though I can avoid the emptiness by feeling its joy and realizing it's a blessing, not a curse.

So, I listen closely to the quiet in my home and think of how loud it would be with children. I am thankful for the peace. And I sleep soundly through the night because there isn't a screaming baby to keep me awake. I find joy in being well-rested. I leave the house alone to easily run errands for hours on end. I treasure the time alone. I leave sharp things on the coffee table. I don't feel guilty for it. I take long vacations and naps. We spend money that doesn't have to go to a child's care. I lay on the couch whenever I feel like it. I take a shower whenever I feel like it. I go on bike rides with my husband. I admire my flat stomach in the mirror. I listen to everyone complain about their children, their bodies, their lives. They are inconvenienced, tired and annoyed. I used to wait patiently for the follow-up. You know, the part where they say, "But's it's all worth it. I wouldn't trade my life before children for this one." Most of the time, it never comes. Perhaps those who feel that way never speak of the joy that resides amongst the chaos because it's easily forgotten. I just don't know.

It is in those moments, where I listen to the quiet that reverberates throughout my home, that I realize there is joy to be found in every moment life has to offer us. I know that the potential decisions that plague my brain don't have to be made this instant. I realize that sometimes the moment you think you have it all figured out, life serves you a palette cleanser before the next course of the meal. The choas is actually happening in concert, by the book and according to the plan. Waiting for the moment it can peek through the clouds and work through you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It was worth the pain


For some reason, I am very fascinated by pain. We all experience it, live through it and know what it feels like. We work through the physical pain, mental anguish, spiritual crumble--all forms of pain. But often we say things like, "It was worth the pain," or look back on a painful experience as something that has helped us to grow or change in some positive way.

But, is the pain always worth it? What was the point of your scraped knee as a child? What was the meaning behind a broken arm or a bee sting? How about a broken heart? There are forms and avenues of pain that most would agree are, in fact, worth it. Like childbirth. Or life-saving surgery. Or, a heartbreaking failure that led to an epiphany about your life's path. While subjective, those pains are all worth it. Perhaps the confusion enters the room when we attempt to justify or understand why the pain happened within the experience, rather than looking back on the past.

Pain comes in so many forms that we often forget what it feels like. We can recall the experience of being in pain, but soon the actual feeling fades away and we're left with the relief that it's over rather than the agony of the ache. We learn not to place our hands on the hot stove or stick our fingers in the door, but does pain always have to be a learning experience?

I'm currently recovering from minor surgery, which is painful. Physically, of course. But in the end, I would say this the pain is actually worth it. Sometimes, enduring the pain to find the answers to your previously unanswered questions is worth it--even if it comes with the medical suggestion for further, more invasive surgery. But I believe we should only burn one painful bridge at a time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Feeling hot, hot, hot

For some unknown reason, I have an extremely healthy paranoia regarding everything known to man the major appliances in my home. I'm just convinced that they will suddenly stop working at some pivotal moment in my life and I will be forced to live in misery for an extended period of time. It's really just too much for me to potentially handle. Intolerable, even. I find myself praying and begging each time I use some crusty old thing that resides in my basement in the hopes of my words and talks with the Big Guy convincing these devices to stick around for another 18 years.

Sometimes, though, it's important to realize that waiting for something to die suddenly isn't always the solution to a potential problem. You should just kill it before it dies. You know, because there really are moments when an ounce of prevention is the best recipe. I can't cook or bake, but that's what the person in our house who does those things tells me about cooking and baking. Then, there's the realization that the energy savings 30% tax credit is expiring shortly. Either way, we have come to realize that it is time to say goodbye to an old friend whose time has come.



Say hello to my water heater. It's old. And crusty. And is now of legal voting age. Sure, it works just fine during my overly steamy 30-minute showers. It works when two showers are operating in concert, even. But what about its age, I often ask myself when staring at its ugly mug and an orange sticker that says "1992 inspection report: PASSED." The only thing I passed in 1992 was a multiplication times table or cursive writing test. Then, I went out to recess and played four-square. That was a while ago, people. I mean, I could probably still pass those tests and play a mean game of kickball, but that particular part of my brain is probably resting upon cinder blocks with lots of gross cobwebs. Mostly because I need the space to store information about how to thwart potential burglars, make witty comments and remember that my dog likes to be scratched behind her left ear NOT her right.

{EW.}


I just can't help but think about all the great times we've had together, what with all the influences hot water plays in my life. Like, all those times I was scalded. Or, all the occasions that it took approximately 5 million seconds to warm the shower to a suitable temperature. Stuff like that. I think the water heater's best moment, however, was the time my husband stole its insulated blanket to keep his home brewed beer warm instead. Right. Because it made sense to keep the beer warm instead of the water heater, economically speaking. I'm sure it was crying on the inside from this deep, cutting insult. Or, outwardly threatening to burn me.


{Don't make me hurt you. I'll do it. Swear.}

But then again, how can I be expected to feel sorry for someone who openly admits to being a miser? That's right. A miser. I know, the last time you heard someone referred to by such a name you were watching "A Christmas Story" or pretending like it was the year 1892. Or, you were hanging out in my gross basement. But if you're going to be a miser about anything, it might as well be energy. Or dog treats.



{Maybe you'd have more friends if you weren't such a miser.}

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Thought


{From HT}


"Love yourself.
Make peace with who you are
and where you are at this moment in time.

Listen to your heart.
If you can't hear what it's saying in this noisy world,
make time for yourself. Enjoy your own company.
Let your mind wander among the stars.

Try. Take chances. Make mistakes.
Life can be messy and confusing, but it's also full of surprises.
The next rock in your path may be a stepping stone.

Be happy. When you don't have what you want,
want what you have. Make do.
That's a well-kept secret of contentment.

There aren't any shortcuts to tomorrow.
You have to make your own day.
To know where you're going is only part of it.
You need to know where you've been too.
And if you get lost, don't worry.
The people who love you will find you.
Count on it.

Life isn't days and years.
It's what you do with time
and with all the goodness and grace
that's inside of you.

Make a beautiful life...
The kind of life you deserve."


~From a Hallmark card

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Business

I'm beginning to develop a major complex in regards to the recurring theme of "business" in my life. As a sprite, overly talkative child I was repeatedly told I needed to learn how to "mind my own" business. As I grew older, I yearned to "have a career in" business. It seemed that the word and idea behind this concept was constantly taunting me while simultaneously pulling me in with its sexy wiles. Business was very cunning.

I'm not good, as you can imagine, at minding my own business. It all started when I emerged from the womb. It manifested itself in the first grade on my report card and hasn't let up since. But I wasn't accepted into business school at the age of 18, unfortunately. Perhaps that's the hole in this little story of mine. That a career in business was not meant to be. The irony!

However, a career in never learning how to ever mind my own business was born. I'm nosy. And like to insert myself in conversations. And gossip? Getouttahere. I love gossip. I'm bad at keeping secrets, but I sure love juicy gossip. But this leads to another concept at which I am really and truly inept: knowing when things are no one's business. I am an over-sharer. I tell people all sorts of things about myself because I think that everything that is MY business could possibly be THEIR business, too. I've been thinking about this for 5 seconds and I really believe that we should consider going into business together. Wouldn't we be great partners? We could run this town, you and I. Let's join my business AND your business and we will soon be millionaires. Successful, nosy, millionaires.

Or something like that. But it's safe to say that I'm married to a man who likes to say things like, "That is no one's business." Mostly it's about things that I didn't even consider not being the business of almost everyone in my vicinity. I simply don't understand what's your business and what's not your business. It's really a concept that completely eludes me at every moment of every day. It's almost as though all of my business is an acid, slowly burning through my brain until I spit it out and make a big announcement. Usually about something that is not, realistically, your business whatsoever.

But, as I like to point out on occasion because I like to be right all of the time, sometimes sharing your business is a good way to get people to shut their yappers. Example? Telling one person who can't keep anything to themselves something so they successfully share your business with everyone and people stop asking you when you're going to have kids already. Because even though that really is not the business of anyone else in my business organization, it is an awkward enough concept that people will say nothing because they don't know what to say and--AND--they know it's not their business. It's juicy gossip, but none of your business. So now, instead of asking ridiculous pointed questions, I just get pathetic glances and sad smiles. Because everyone knows it is none of their business, but they feel like I'm a wounded bird of some kind that deserves oodles of fanfare, but no mentioning of business matters.

This example, however, is not a strong argument for the business department at our house. It's really not their business, but I'm just dying to tell people all sorts of things that really aren't their business. But I feel obligated to tell them anyway. For some reason. I have lots of business to share, like ____________ which means that I will be ______________ next week. Even though it's scary, it's actually a good thing, because it means I won't be_____________________ anymore.

Aren't you glad I shared all my business with you? Madlibs, anyone?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bliss


I think sometimes people use the phrase, "Ignorance is bliss" when they mean to tell you that it's easier to pretend something doesn't exist or isn't a big deal than it is to face the facts. Sometimes, it's just simpler that way. They would rather live with their heads into the clouds, pretending like everything is great instead of facing the horror or disppointment of the truth. Perhaps it's self-preservation. Or, maybe it's just not as messy that way. Whatever the reason, know this: you can't avoid it--whatever it might be--forever.

The mess will arrive on your doorstep one cool day at dusk, bags in hand, and shove its way inside as soon as you open the door. It will stick around, staring at you from the corner of the room, until you acknowledge its presence. You cannot avoid it forever.

This is why I have vowed to avoid ignorance at all costs. I face the demons head on as soon as they perch themselves on my bony shoulders, knowing the weight of what they represent. We all have our battles to fight, and there will always be things that come easily to me that won't come easily to you. Or vice versa. The point is, no one has a perfect life. We each have those demons that rest heavily upon our shoulders, waiting for us to start staring in their direction. Waiting for us to ignore them, hoping they decide to go away so they can grow larger.

And they always do. Grow larger, that is. Or, blindside us when we least expect them to come running from the corner. Perhaps they even knock on our doors at 1:45 a.m. before creepily retreating to their waiting car. For whatever reason, I firmly believe that pretending everything is OK is a temporary fix--a bandaid over a large, gaping wound.

I guess ignorance is bliss for just a moment, until ignorance is unraveling.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Knock, knock

{The results of our last break-in}

Who's there? Creepyface. Creepyface who? Uh, it's just Creepyface. That's the only name my mother gave me before I knocked on your door at 1:45 a.m. last night, sprinted to my waiting car and got spooked because your dog was barking at me.

Oh, you too? Gee, I thought I was the only one who had strange things happen at their home in the midst of the night. Seriously, what's so exciting about our little house in the country that everyone wants to come inside and take a look around?

Two years ago, someone broke into our house. In the middle of the day while my husband and I were at work. You know, because we have actual jobs instead of stealing things to make a living. They stole jewelry and took away my will to believe that I'm safe inside the confines of my own home. You know, the normal stuff. The enormous douche who broke into our house (and the homes of roughly 7 neighbors) was caught not long after and now fills his social calendar with daily events at the State Penitentiary. Lunch at 11:45, running around the yard at 2:15, push ups in his cell at 3:30, stuff like that. I'm sure it's a great time.

But that was almost 3 years ago. That dude is in the Pen, thinkin' bout what he done wrong! Surely, the rest of the degenerate world realizes that he took anything of value from our home and the big "I gots lots of stuff in here you want" sign that used to sit on our roof is gone now! Don't they know that we own just three televisions, none of which have screens that could be described as flat or were made after the year 1998? Haven't they gotten the memo that what jewelry I do own is plastered upon my body at all times? Of course, they realize that our computer is 5 years old, right?

I'm not sure if that particular all-points bulletin was distributed to the entire e-mail list of crooks, losers and idiots, however. I say this because last night at approximately 1:45 a.m., someone knocked at the door. Someone who the dog really, really, wanted to maim. And by the time we realized what was happening and got to said door, this person was gone. Well, actually they were sitting in a car by the road. Where they sat for a few moments before driving sloooowly away. Which they had to likely SPRINT to in the 15 seconds it took us to reach the door. Leaving just their wet footprints for us to remember them by. And even those were temporary.

I don't know who it was, I'm not sure what they wanted, but I do know this: I'm glad my husband chose to find an over sized lab mix abandoned in a garage in college instead of a teacup poodle. Everybody knows teacup poodles are great companions, but no strange person at your door at 1:45 a.m. is running from a small pooch named after fancy china. It's true.

Things like this always remind me of Stephen King. Not because I think it was a rabid dog named Cujo at the door, but because it reminds me of an interview where he was asked what would scare him. His answer? The doorbell ringing at 2:00 a.m. He flips on the light and a clown is standing there on his porch. That is scary. Unfortunately, these foot prints didn't look clown-sized.

But the bigger question is this: who was this person? Why did they come to my door? Why did they run away? Why didn't they TP my tree? Why not blow up my mailbox or deface my Mother Mary statue? I mean, those things would make sense. More sense than knocking, doing nothing (don't worry, I checked) and leaving, anyway. All I know is this: someone who has something legitimate to do or say does not come to your door at 1:45 a.m. and run away when your Labrador retriever indicates a strong interest in eating them for a Taco Bell-like "third meal." That or they decided that they really didn't need directions, anyway.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Just Snookin' for a good time

I love Halloween. I enjoy, with every shred of my being, dressing up in the most rediculous costume possible. It's almost like I enjoy my own public humiliation. Which is why I donned my finest orange faux tan this weekend to transform myself into America's Sweetheart, Snooki.



The funniest part about my outift is that I was Amy Winehouse two years ago, and the hair poof is pretty much identical to that of the Snookster. Who knew?

The only downside to my costume? Well, there's the orange streaks left on my seatbelt from my orange skin. Oh, and trying to fit that oversized New Jersey poof into my Honda Accord. And clearly into the frame of a photograph as well. Then, of course, no one can take you seriously in an adult conversation with your zebra print bra hanging out and a poof the size of your torso on your head. Of course.

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