Monday, October 9, 2017

Keeping up with the Savages

I haven't updated this space for a long time. I just checked to see what the last thing I wrote was, and remembered that I had uploaded my writing assignments for the creative writing class that I took.

I don't know what happened to blogs, but somewhere along the way I think most of them have become less about what is going on in peoples' lives and more about business or showing a sanitized version of our lives. Almost like a year round edition of those Christmas card letters we all send out. Sadly, I can only love those kinds of spiffed up summaries about once a year. Preferably after I've consumed large amounts of stale gingerbread house and watched The Muppet Christmas Carol to revive my faith in humanity. All this to say, I don't agree with perfection. I don't like, pretty much at all, the blogs with these long blonde-haired moms that dress their babies in sponsored clothes and feed them sponsored Blue Apron dinners, and breathe sponsored air. These consummate professionals know all of the right things to do. They never accidentally leave their newborn on their bed without realizing that said newborn will master the skill of rolling over (and off the bed and onto the floor) within the next two minutes. They would never feed their kids Kraft Mac and Cheese because the glowing orange color means that it is radioactive. And bytheway, it is totes normal for your four year old to have a matching mini-fedora to yours. Totes.

I guess you could say that I haven't a right to criticize as I have obviously given up the blogging medium. People, do you ever KNOW ME? I have never been a qualified criticizer in my entire life and it has never stopped me, and, god-willing, it never will. As Taylor Swift so aptly summed me up, "Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate." That girl, she just gets me. (P.S. Taylor, why does old Taylor have to be dead? Can't she just go on vacation and then come back? New Taylor is awesome but if we ever met, I don't think I'd tell her all of my secrets or share funny cat memes, like I'm pretty sure I would have with old Taylor).

Annnnyway. Today I am technically at work. We aren't allowed to use our cell phones while waiting for appointments, but hopping on one of the myriad of computers is just fine. (insert shrugging emoji here). Since I am having such a long, dry spell tutorial wise, I felt the pull to write-- just like I do most days. However, I am currently avoiding my book for a few days. I've finally hit the part of my book that I can no longer write without doing some actual research. Saying such a thing seems so official and smart--almost as if I might actually make something of this book and not just talk about it in a semi-secretive way. I just ordered said research material from Amazon, and I'm hoping it will give me a kick in the pants that I seem to need every few weeks to keep me writing. Want to know the title? It's hilariously studious sounding: Armada 1588: The Spanish Assault on England. I feel so smart, just having read the title (and bragged to you about it). I also feel like now we all have expectations. Let's not go too far.

So yes, I haven't given up yet on the book. I am loving my new job. I'm still strongly under-confident in my semicolon usage rules. In fact, I read the semicolon section of the MLA handbook every day at work, because I CAN'T REMEMBER and now I have officially given myself a block.
(Semicolons Connect Related Independent Clauses. Delete the Conjunction When You Use a Semicolon. Use Semicolons in a Serial List. Use Semicolons With Conjunctive Adverbs. Semicolons are trying to ruin your life; don't let semicolons boss you around.)

But honestly, being a writing tutor (that doesn't focus on grammar, praise be) is one of my favorite jobs. I tutored all during college, except when I worked in food service for a year or so. It is so enjoyable to be back, and the schedule has been perfect so far. I am pretty much at work while my kids are in school M-W, and then I get Thursdays and Fridays off. Because I am so part-time, I am not making five million dollars. This is the only sad part of my life. I have always wanted to make five million dollars from a part-time job. But I will admit that I am happy to trade that five million dollars for the excellent trade-off of being home when my kids are home and working with other writers on their papers. All jokeyness aside, I feel very, very blessed. I am so happy to get up in the morning and work with John to get the kids ready, and then head out the door at the same time as everyone else. I feel so useful and productive, and when I do have down time now, I let myself relax! I don't always feel the need to keep cleaning constantly and feel guilty. It has been an awesome change for me.

Well this has been a really Jenn-centric post, but unfortunately I have to run now. Hopefully I will be back with more "Keeping up with the Savages" real life posts soon. In the mean time, how are you guys?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mid-life Crisis in the Craft Store

Again, I am knee-deep in my writing class. This past week's assignment was to write a personal essay about something we found in our junk drawer. I was decidedly uninspired by this, and that was the awesome thing about it. It forced me to work myself out of a writer's block using some techniques the teacher taught us.

I thought I'd share it here, because...well why not.

Among all of the cliches that mid-life crises encompass, mine took the form of budget paintbrushes and Liquitex paint bottles. It happened six months ago while I was in the craft store looking for brads for my daughter's fourth grade project.

You'd have thought that there would have been at least 1 half-bent brad from the 90's hiding in the back of my junk drawer. But, it turns out that I'd Maria Kondo-ed myself into a state of bradlessness. If you too have not shopped for brads since the 90's, you might be interested to know that they are one of those small and stupidly difficult items to find. Try it. Think of a store layout and picture right where you'd expect to find them. If you're like me, no doubt your first guess was with the office supplies. If you are at Walmart, you'd probably be right (though it pains me to give them points for efficiency in anyway). But if you are in a craft store, such logic does not exist. They are too creative for that sort of nonsense. Brads could be in the wedding supplies section. Or try the scrapbook area. No better yet, try ANYWHERE IN THE STORE.

I tell you all of this to show how blameless I really am in this, my own story. I didn't go looking for craft store trouble, it was forced on me by the beauty of their nonsensical "organization." And this is how, before a lifetime's supply of 25 brads ever made it into my shopping cart, I ended up with a reckless amount of medium-priced acrylic paints in there first.

I recall the moment with perfect clarity. I came upon the paint aisle and I can't even really tell you what swept over me. I suppose you have to have a midlife crisis to really understand it. One moment, you're minding your own business, wondering if you should have just gone to Deathmart instead, and really, why wouldn't staples work just fine for this project? And then the next, it's like you're back in first grade and your teacher shows you the art room for the first time. The colors all lined up like a new box of crayons. A touchable rainbow. Somehow I began to imagine the exuberant messes I could make. The sheer masterpieces I would create. I sat there, slack-jawed by the luxury of it all. Shelves upon shelves of tempting, squeezable colors. And the names. The names. Cadmium Red, Quinacridone Magenta, Cobalt, and Titanium White. And right next to the paints, there stood those painting knives things, the ones that Bob Ross used. I had vivid visions of all of the happy little trees that he had magically produced with those weird, angled knives! And before I'd gone two feet, I added an easel, and notebooks full of thick, canvas paper to my burgeoning collection.

Like any sensible person these days, I have a budget. And like any sensible person I thought long and hard about how I would justify the expense. I mean, I thought about it--I didn't come up with any answers, but I sure thought about it. What you must know about me is, that I have been the frugal mom shopper all of my life -- long before I actually was a mom. I grew up with a single parent, working a job to pay for my own school clothes, my band fees, sometimes offering to help pay bills when my mother's face looked a bit more worried than usual. These lessons run deep, and I'm not one bit ashamed of them. They have served me in good stead. So this is all to say that to me, shopping has always been something to fret over, something to haggle and bludgeon to death with a calculator.


I'll tell you, in that moment, with my cart full of completely unnecessary bottles of colors, my heart felt like a red-solo cup that was filled with giddiness and overflowing paint water. The extravagance of it, the spontaneity of it, the flagrant disregard of inexperience and dearth of talent of it. It charmed me into a soft, muted cocoon of not giving a flying fig. Me, mother of two, buyer of brads, maker of Stouffer's dinners, was also now Me, buyer of luxury art goods--Future artist of Quinacridone Magenta fame.

I somehow managed to suspend my practicality long enough to find the brads (scrapbooking area, you're welcome), and even long enough to swipe my bank card through the machine. I did google the coupon for 40% off, because, although still cocooned in cashmerey soft denial, I'm not an animal. I even made it all the way back to my house and unloaded the paints before I had the super adult mental conversation of, "What the crap, Self? I can't take you anywhere."

Dear friends, I am here to tell you how to know it's a real bona-fide mid-life crisis. Instead of loading those bottles back into their plastic bags, complete with receipt to return with minimal headache, I took the glossy bottles out, one by one. I lined them up in ROYGBIV order. My giddiness was increasing at exponential rates. I took out the receipt, and in a mania of rebellious spirit, I tore it in half. I hooted a great belly of a laugh to myself.

It is a fine thing to finally, preciously, place the power of your happiness back into the hands of your capable first grade self. Because, really, aren't we the most ourselves at 6? At the age when we run in swimsuits through the green grass, when we cry when we hurt, laugh until we ache, and refuse to eat food just because it's good for us. That fantastic, selfish, tyrant of happiness. That simpleton of wisdom.

 How great a kindness a mid-life crisis is. To know deep, deep down inside us, this place we have surrounded in stony walls, this spot that is vulnerable  and genuine, is still there. And not just there--it still holds a secret garden. To finally let myself back inside, was a revelation. There were flowers there, of every color, waiting to make a beautiful, unnecessary, technicolor masterpiece.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017


I've been taking an online writing course. It's about creative writing, which I have always considered a weakness of mine. In the past I always prided myself on my academic writing because it seemed more serious and worthy of respect. But, when I began to try and write a book, I realized how much I really loved writing creatively. And how HARD it is. It is seriously difficult. So because of this (and the fact that I've stalled out on my book), and many other reasons, I decided to take this class.

It has been a game changer for me. In writing these small assignments, I remember a part of me that I had long forgotten--the part that loves to be a student. The part that loves to get feedback and craft pieces of writing. I have remembered my love for language! It is really freeing to become reacquainted with a part of yourself that you feared was lost or too dusty to be worth anything.

So. That said, I thought I'd start to share some of the things I write for my class here on my blog. I am fairly certain no one checks this much anymore. But if you see this, I'm glad you're here, thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy. Maybe it will inspire you to get out your pencil and paper. It's been really cathartic and fun for me.

The first assignment was as following: Choose a color to write about. Use the thesaurus function on your software or a printed thesaurus at least ten times during this exercise. Work to focus your writing and write tight. Make the assignment no more than 250 words. 

You may want to write out the exercise in longhand so that you have a feeling of the paper as you write. This could be a tactile thrill needed to inspire your work. After you've finished the first draft, go back and discover new words to exchange for the more mundane ones.

Be creative with the color you use. Sure you could choose yellow, but you could also choose farm-fresh egg yolk yellow. You could select brown, but you could also write about the color of rusty corn or wheat fields in the fall.

To help you visualize a color, select a flower, a book, an article of clothing, or a food, such as an apple, and put it next to you during this exercise. Set your timer or pour on the chair glue for a minimum of five minutes. Now write about the color in the first person, that is in the I way, as if YOU were the color.

Here is what I wrote. See if you can figure out the color. :)
You misunderstand me so often. You pick me as your power tie color, hoping to hide your queasiness during the interview.
And I know that at first glance all you can see me as is blood spilt, rage, a comic book hero's cape. I wound you, I flash and wail all sirens and road rage. Taken for violence, surprise, energy, fire. I sigh, and must own my dark side. The molten fires of a volcano, I regret I must burn a crimson path before I am satiated.
But since I am me, I must resist as well. I would rather tempt you with dreams of ripe apples, warming innocently in the sun. Juicy, jewels of strawberries winking through swathes of green. I triumph as the gilded-scarlet chinese dragon's scales serpentine down the street under a navy sky. I am glowing garnet paper lanterns strung between you and the stars.
You want me fiery, explosive, angry. Flushing, blushing. But I also rest like a roseate prayer on your child's cheeks--feverish and lonely. And, tomorrow when the fever breaks and she comes in from the snow, I gleam her exultant spark--rosy cheeks on a blustery day, scarlet mittens your mother made.
Kiss my lips, lover, they are ruby. They are cherries.They are the wine-stained tellers of truths and lies. Sweet, sad, passionate, and (please don't resist, Darling), your bittersweet home.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Unrequited love

I have this new theory. 

It goes a little something like this: I think we go through this life moving from unrequited love to unrequited love. 

We're all the time seeking equal amounts of devotion and love in other people until we find someone that we believe we can trust enough to stick with us through enough moments of uncertainty. It sort of makes the act of marriage very vulnerable and brave when I look at it through that lens. We lay our fears on that altar of marriage and all we can do is hope that the other person means it when they say they will see us through the days that they may not particularly feel like requiting that love. It's brave, that beautiful act.

And, we don't often talk of unrequited love in friendships, but I'm pretty sure it is the same. We try to get on the same wavelength as other people. When our seasons of life and social needs and personalities and sense's of humor and kids' sleeping schedules all line up magically with someone else's it seems almost karmic. And it's almost as terrible a cosmic joke when all of those things line up but we find the other person terribly boring. The older you get, the more complicated finding that beautiful friend love balance is. The advent of texting has hastened the death knell of friendships as well. How easy it is for us to cancel with just a few typed words as we lay in our beds finishing binge watching some netflix show. 

And sometimes don't the steps between acquaintance and friend you could call for life emergencies feel like the ascent up some shatteringly tall mountain like Everest or K2? Somewhere up there, past the wall of clouds, they say that mythical, perfectly requited friendship exists. There are many a day I feel like I'm staring up at that sheer wall of mountain with my mouth gaping, 80 pounds of gear strapped to my back, and a beer belly out front. There ain't no way out of this alive for me. If I were to continue that metaphor to completion, you'd see me camped out at the bottom of that mountain eating energy bars and taking naps and selfies, trying to convince myself that the views from the top make all of the climbing and oxygen deprivation worth it.

But is it? I'm getting old enough to realize that I'm getting towards being an old dog, and my tricks are pretty near ingrained. I've been through the ringer with a lot of people. I've had great friends. I've lost and been abused in other relationships to the point that I felt I was near to begging for mercy to just be put out of the misery of this life. So I know I've been shaped by all of these authentic loves and these other relationships that have dared to call me love and backhanded me all in the same breath. And all that I know as I stand here is that I am who I am. The life coach and the sex abuse therapist and my husband have held my hand when waves have threatened to go over my head. It never goes all the way away, even if you've been diligently working at it for years (like I have). The stains, the scars-- they are the experiences that make us both vulnerable and neurotic. Lovable and toxic. These experiences they are like my veins now--like lines beneath my skin that I can see but can't tell how well they're actually working. It's hard to tell where I start and where they end. And so wishing the bad lessons I've learned away, ignoring them, writing about them, railing against them starts to just feel like I'm wishing and ignoring and writing and railing me away. I wish it weren't so. I wish I weren't so.

People who have never been hurt in the name of unrequited, but desperately sought love don't understand why women who are abused stay. I've never been abused by my husband, not even close. But I understand those women because I have seen my own ugly codependence in the mirror and wished to scrape it out with my bare fingernails. These women think they can love enough for two. They've learned somewhere along the way that they can take it. At first, it may even make them feel strong that they survived. But then it happens again. And after a while of feeling like they can take it, they are so beaten down that they think that maybe they have to take it, because they didn't stand up at the very start and say no. And the shame and the self-hatred become these added blows to a broken heart. Until finally, it's not just that they should take it, but that they must actually deserve it. And the change is so gradual and imperceptible (because after all, you are trying to keep your mouth and nostrils above the water, all the while choking with every other wave), that there you are, staring up a wall of water, a tsunami of fear and self-horror, and it seems easier to let it roll over you and hope you come out the other side like you have in the past. Battered, but alive. It seems like it is all you can ask when you know that your love is unrequited and you never demanded more.

It's so easy to make a metaphor about it. I think it might be easy for people to sit in their easy chairs and feel superior and almost angry on our, the wounded's, behalves. It's so damn easy to see how wrong the plot is--it's as plain as anything else in this world. Someone hurts you, you don't go back. You wash your hands of them. Be it a friend or a husband, a family member, or even an institution. Say goodbye and don't spare them a second thought. But why is it that life is never as easy as writing makes it look? Why are the grays so murky? And the black and whites seem to get less and less prevalent the older I get? The bad guys smile and save the day sometimes-- for all the wrong reasons--but it feels right at the time because we just want to be saved some days, don't we? And when it all goes just as wrong as it always did before, we hate ourselves just a bit more for knowing that it was always going to end this way. 

But it's hard. Trying to drag your wagon wheels out of the rut of a life-- the life your mother and your mother's mother lived-- is so scary that most days it seems insane to even try. Because you don't really know how different ends up. There's no guarantee. And though you feel physically sick thinking of what your life is likely to look like after seeing slightly varied versions of the same thing played out in all of the generations before you, at least it's a known. At least it's safe. Is new and different really better if you don't have a guarantee? Mediocrity is so much safer than the possibility of crashing and burning. Especially if they convince you that in doing so, you're probably ruining your life, and your sweetheart's life, to make no mention of your innocent children's lives. They make it so easy to fall back into that deep as dark blue fear that has kept you where you've always been--you're so goddamned scared, and you care so goddamned much about what they think. And it infuriates and shames you. To the dust it shames you.

It all looks like it makes perfect easy sense from the outside. And that is why we love a good adventure story, isn't it? When the heroine realizes that she doesn't have to stay shackled. She has actually had her own kind of magic her entire life. She could have set herself free all along. It's galling and thrilling when she realizes it at long last. But of course all of those years she was afraid. She was shamed, she was loved, she was confused by the goodness she saw even while she was chained. The grays were gray, the days were murky. And as we sit in our easy chairs, we love her so so much. We can see her path so clearly, rising up to meet her as we read it into existence, because we never doubt her innate magnificence. It's so clear from back here. And when she finally realizes it for herself, and takes flight oh how we love her. Because she doesn't look back, as the shackles, the unrequited loves and frenemies slip away and fall to the dirt, finally as useless and worthless as they have been all along. And her fear? The fear that once was the unbearable weight that kept her chained in place, suddenly becomes nothing compared to the thought of staying still one more moment. And just like that, she is free. Lightening, rain, a great gusting of wind, a flaring of otherwordly beauty, and then everything on the outside looks as it always has, and yet it will never be the same ever again. She is free.

And do you know what we all know? We know that she will never settle for that fake love of the unrequited farcical variety ever again. She'll walk in beauty, and trail clouds in her wake, water sparkling as it drips off her long skirts. She will climb the mountain, she will breathe the wild air. And you better goddamn believe that she gets out of this thing alive. Alive.

Friday, December 9, 2016

the post in which I write whatever I want, because I am a writer

Each of our personal stories seems so commonplace and average when we view it ourselves. I suppose this is because it is all that we know, and so that is the baseline with which we judge. If you’ve spent your life using indoor plumbing, that is your standard. When wash your hands in the Target bathroom you don’t luxuriate in the cleanliness of the water, the amazing fact that it is streaming out from a faucet with only a twist of the handle, that you have the godlike power to control the temperature. And I apologize for any first worlders that are feeling guilt at this example, but please hold on for a moment longer. I don’t say this to make you hate yourself again, and cringe at your privilege. I only say that a truth so extraordinary to a young woman who travels 3 miles a day to haul her water back to her house, is over in a moment and forgotten before it’s even done for us. Her three extraordinary miles to us? Ordinary, commonplace, hardly thought of to her. We disregard our lives details with impunity, every one of us, most of the day.

I read somewhere that we come to this Earth as blank slates--we are beginning fresh with no experiences, no expectations, no personalities. We are untouched. Vacant and empty. For those that believe in God, they believe we might come with our souls already intact for whatever helpful meaning that gives them. Me? Well, I’m a mother. I’m 36 years old--I think. I’ve had two children, a boy and a girl. Two makes you more of an expert than only having one, but less of an expert to just about anyone else (including the parenting experts who have never had children, but are obviously excellent observers). But it’s two that I’ve got, and I can’t tell you what expertise I’m missing. With the birth, and subsequent intense care of only those two babies, I still think I might get away with speaking for every mother I’ve ever met when I say: Babies are not blank slates at all.

Those babies, they can be deceiving, with their wide eyes and innocently gassy smiles. But there isn’t a mother I’ve met who doesn’t know within a few hours of acquaintance with her baby the truth behind the newness. The truth that their baby came with their own pre-programmed ideas and desires and temperaments. And that you will spend the next however-long-it-takes-them-to-speak-coherently trying to figure out what on god's green earth those adorable not-blank-slates want from you. And I hate to tell any new mothers out there that the answer to what it is that they want from you and the world is summed up aptly in a Tootsie Roll lollipop commercial that was popular some time ago: The world may never know.

So I hope, if you’ve never had a child, you will trust me on just this one little point--you were already something different and new when you got here. Whether you call it your intact soul, or you consider it the result of biology and womb conditions, or maybe for you it comes down to whether your mother placed headphones playing mozart on her belly before you were born, the fact remains that you came here, and you were you. And not just that. You, my friend, were amazing.

Amazing? Amazing you say? I do. I stick to that gun most fiercely.

I know that to the untrained eye babies can seem and are...well catatonic half the time. The eating and sleeping and filling diapers seems pretty mundane. I can admit it. I am GOOD at admitting things about diapers. (For example, I recall with perfect clarity the moment I wished with all of the fervency and wish upon a star desperation in my heart that the Diaper Genie were truly an actual Diaper Genie). Believe me when I say that the babies and their upkeep IS mundane when you are the person helping said baby to accomplish these goals. If I were in charge of the Oxford English Dictionary--and it had pictures, which on my watch it would--and mundane had it’s own picture in the dictionary, it would have been me, changing my millionth diaper without so much as the confetti cannon or military salute that it so richly deserved. Mundane exists. It's real. And I'd even go so far as to say it has value.

But even so, with all of that workaday humdrum that surrounds the baby, it doesn’t come close to negating the fact that you were freaking awe-inspiring. And it comes down to the truth of this most singular fact: that when you and I were new to this planet, we were not only decidedly NOT blank slates, but we were brave and we were true.

You spent hours crying, refusing to be placated, because you needed things that you knew were your right to have. You slept and ate as much as you needed, and you didn’t apologize or feel guilty. Your brain grew at such exponential leapings and boundings--processing and deciphering information at incredible speeds-- and you layered very little judgements on top of all of that new information other than good, bad, or indifferent. (Yes, you were terrible at nuance, but I call that refreshing!)

You were open to the wide world. You were frightened sometimes. You were curious. You were asleep, you were bored. You were thrilled. You were soothed. You were just you. And it is only a mother, or a person looking back, that sees that baby for what it is. A force to be reckoned with. A beautiful, exhausting beginning of an individual who made no other demands on life than to be only themselves. Breathtakingly, brutally (at 3:00 am), intoxicatingly, selfishly yourself. My god, you were something else. And yet, your story remains to you, so very average. That you ignore the magic of your life so blatantly is a very sorry treason to your fierce beginnings.

Wake up, dear baby. Let us see your story, with it’s mundane, but with it’s tears-inspiring, selfish, glorious, good bad and indifferent truths. It’s time to wake up. Because you’re 36 years old, and it’s time. And even the mundane--when the diaper genies miracles don't happen, when the job is lost, when the potatoes are undercooked--some day you might realize that your ordinary will become extraordinary to someone else. You will become the confetti cannon and military salute for someone else's midnight. And I'm starting to think that that is what your story is for.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016



Remember me? Yeah, I hardly do either. It's been so long. Are blogs still a thing that people read? I know I do. I get sick of the two second sound bites on facebook or instagram that don't really tell me anything of substance of people's lives. I miss hearing about you folks out there. How are you? Has your summer been as hot and interesting and boring and frustrating and joyful as mine? Just another season of all the good and complex in life.

So we are moving. That was sudden, right? Ha! Oh well, if you've known me for any space of time, you're more surprised that we've stayed in one place for this long. Honestly though, I'm sort of sick inside every time someone makes a joke about how much we move. It's not fun, I'm not sure why folks think we like moving. Please, please, I pray this is the last one for at least ten years. Let the schools stay wonderful, let the mother in the family stay sane and quiet, let the father have stability in employment. Amen. That's like the St. Suburbanite Mother's prayer ha.

Anyhow, we were going to renovate the kitchen with a special type of loan, but we ended up not having time to get all the bids and plans done because the folks wanted to close so quickly on our home. So we are moving in and then figuring out if we want to get another loan in six months or if it's doable with a smaller budget. It really depends on if we need to do structural changes. I'm waiting for some kitchen designers and contractors to figure out my life for me in the next few weeks--as we also close on this house and move. And then of course comes school starting. It will be a busy few weeks, and yet I find myself with large pockets of time without much to do because there are boxes everywhere and I can't quite pack everything quite yet. Moving. Sigh. Good problems to have, I know I promise I know.

The honest truth is I'm looking forward towards my future few months with a real sense of curiosity and wonder. New house. New town (still close by, but far enough to use different grocery stores and schools and roads and church). And the biggest new of all, both kids in school. I have been thinking about this day quite a lot for the past year. I've seen it looming up in front of me--dreading and craving it all at once. I'll miss my kids. I'll love the quiet. I'll write, I'll sleep, I'll feel guilty and make myself get a job? I'll have time to make cookies and do laundry without feeling responsible for the learning or entertainment of anyone. I'll accidentally fall asleep and it will be ok!My house might stay clean! Will I get bored? Will I wish I had a baby (yes and no)? I'm so intrigued. I'm pretty sure I'll spend the first two weeks sleeping. It's been a long busy summer. I'll deserve it after the move and everything else. I can't wait. Wish John could join me. He deserves it even more than I do by a lot. I'll be sure to give him lots of breaks over weekends and someday soon we'll manage a little getaway maybe.

Life is starting over fresh. I'm happy, I'm still working through some anxiety that has been plaguing me for the past few years--but with help this time. I'm just a strange mixture of blank and full at the moment. Waiting and changing all at once. Isn't life good and hard and strange and welcome all at once? 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

the post in which i reveal that I am a (jaded) transcendentalist

Here we are, in March. It's been long months since I last wrote. I have given up almost entirely on my blog. But sometimes I feel nostalgic and I'll come back and read what we were up to this time last year, or look at pictures of the kids in their younger years. When I do those things, I feel that I probably shouldn't abandon these efforts completely. I'm grateful that the stories and pictures that I used to share so freely and often were saved.

I think the problem sort of is that I've lost my courage. I'm almost 35 years old now, and it seems with each passing year I should be getting more sure of myself, more stable, more everything except for maybe judgmental. But I find that this past year, I have lost my bravery. As the world races towards everything being on display, and then being ridiculed and paraded, and nothing held sacred, I feel myself pulling back. The internet trolls are becoming less a minority and more expected behavior. If you let yourself be seen, be imperfect, then you deserve that sort of thing though, right?

Where has our empathy gone? Our willingness to find our neighbor innocent long before we jump to any sordid or cruel conclusions? When did we decide that our police men, our mothers, and our teachers must never make mistakes--and if they do, they must be punished endlessly and publicly? I find this new way of being worrisome and tireless and tiresome. The Sound and the Fury, signifying nothing. There is so little soft cushioning in this new world. So very few places to rest your heart and your head. To be broken and cared for.

So all of these new technologies have come. And all of this constant access. We have found ourselves unable to resist the acceptance of new "morals" that allow all things equal standing, irregardless of their potential for long-term detriment of societies and children. Each thing is to be heralded in and made welcome at the table. We all want all of our parts to be accepted, without learning to accept all parts of others. And yet if we are being honest, it's not really all of ourselves. We will only put our best on display, and hide the rest oh so carefully. It is all of the excess and none of the responsibility. It is a free fall without wanting to acknowledge that at some point, there is an end to the falling, and it is never truly free.

I find such an atmosphere impossible to be freely myself. I see people that I admire stifled in their beliefs. I find the tyranny of outliers overcoming the majority of normalcy. We don't admire the smallness of individual lives that are normal. We run around, losing the value of the things that used to be what we as humans have valued for thousands of years. We hold a facebook like in the same esteem that we used to hold a card in the mail. How is that possible? My friends, how is that possible?

I have made my life very small and sad this past year. Retreating inside myself, finding fault with everyone and everything, but most especially myself. Because I don't know how to be in this new world. I used to be free in my own mind--I used to feel unfettered. I found pleasures in painting dressers and sending my children to school, and having over the top book clubs. Now I am much encumbered. I struggle with my church. I struggle with my parents. I struggle with everything except, perhaps strangely, my husband and my children (most of the time). I know retreating and retreating is not healthy, but I also feel strongly that what is left outside of these walls is no longer healthy either. I have lost my trust and faith in the goodness of people. I have become suspect of motives--something I hate with profundity.

I'm a bit stuck, and wanting to go back. And so far all that I can come up with is to dream and plan for a day when we can buy a few acres and be even more apart from the noise and busy-ness of the world. I romanticize that old Thoreau way of living (minus the part without indoor plumbing and a/c), but just of being quiet in a loud world, and doing small, hard work on things that no one would care about except our family. And I hesitate to even hit publish because there is a sort of movement out there now of other folks like me, who have decided that having some breathing room and owning some chickens might help them make better sense of their lives. And it sounds ridiculous and stupid, but I can't help that it also makes ten thousand pounds of sense to me right at this juncture of my life too.

It is probable that this post will seem completely strange and out of no-where and maybe even just plain crazy. And I'm not even sure why I'm going to hit publish. Except sometimes it still feels good to me to write something, send it out, and hope that someone that I know will echo back that they too have felt these pressures, and are searching in their own way. That really helps me to not feel so alone, which is about the only part of this endless access/excess of technology that I find of good report.

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” 
― Henry David ThoreauWalden