You may have noticed I haven’t been writing. You may not even miss me but I miss you. Who is you? An anonymous reader? Me? The me who was writing for me. Does that make sense? When you want to write but you don’t and then day after day goes by and the more you don’t write, the less you write. I’ve picked up books on writing. I’ve done some exercises. But mostly I just haven’t been writing. Something finally sparked inside and said, “you have to write!”.
Most recently I picked up a small book I read (75% if you go by the bookmark tucked into the latter part of the book) during a writing course from a couple of years ago called The Memoir Project by a local writer, Marion Roach Smith. I had time between lacrosse games over the weekend so I thought I’d pick up where I left off but then since it’s been so long since I’d picked it up, I decided to start over. One of the very first things she recommends against is to do the writing exercises! She wants you to dive right in.
Maybe that’s the push I need to get me in front of my computer today. To open my blog pages and start writing. I decided I needed to give the desk a good clean since the only person using the computer as of late is my twelve-year-old who is usually eating snacks and putting fingerprints on the screen. It’s time to wrest control of the computer from him! Then, in cleaning the keyboard, I accidentally flipped the monitor orientation sideways (Ctrl/Alt and the arrow keys will fix that in case you ever need to know).
I knew the musical Dear Evan Hansen was based around the suicide of a teenager and despite having that experience in my life, I didn’t give much thought to how it would make me feel. My brother’s suicide was deep in my past, 32 years ago, a whole lifetime away or so it seemed from where I was. Yet it was a fresh wound on Saturday evening as I sat in the darkened theater on West 45th Street catching tears in a well-used tissue.
Before I go further, I must let you know I absolutely adored the show. The cast, the music, the writing. Phenomenal. I will definitely see it again when it tours in my community and I’ve already downloaded the music on my phone. It’s kind of folksy and very Broadway at the same time. Live theater opens something in my heart and I know I would not want to live without it.
I’m so happy to see the sun today and feel Spring in the air. It was a bit of a surprise last week when we woke to a thin ground cover of snow (actually not so unusual for the Northeastern town we live in). But eek, my husband and I were about to head to New York City for the weekend to see a couple of shows and I wondered if I had to rethink my clothing choices which heavily favored lighter fabrics (I’m one step from putting away the winter coats). I decided to stick with my spring coat and added a scarf and sweater for layering which worked out just fine. We had a fantastic time, but as is the case with these kind of trips, it went by all too fast.
Hello, dear blog! Sorry it has been a while but I cannot say I’ve been too busy. I’m not sure exactly what I have been doing these past few weeks but I certainly got away from writing and blogging. I was trying to keep a schedule of posting on Tuesday and Thursday because I could do that at a minimum, right? After we returned from vacation, however, I was out of my groove and kind of went off the rails as far as a routine goes. I’m not going to lie. I spent a lot of time laying around and reading. It may be just what I needed at that particular time. But all the while, what’s swirling around in my brain is: what am I going to do next?
I’m not ready for a full on job search right now as I decided to take the summer off so I could be home with my twelve-year-old, Liam. He has not had a single summer where he could be a carefree kid. Sleeping in, going to the pool, riding his bike in the neighborhood. We don’t have many of these times left so we’re going to embrace this summer as a (mostly) camp-free zone. For the past several years it has been a jigsaw puzzle of camp planning. Lacrosse, baseball, basketball, extreme (they do obstacle courses – very army-like) and just about every other activity under the sun to keep him busy from the last day of school until labor day weekend. I’m sure he’s enjoyed much of it but at the end of last summer, he was starting to show the strains of camp fatigue.
I’ve got a few more months until summer though, so how will I keep myself busy in the meantime? Lately, I’ve been scouring youtube for content that sparks an interest for me. I love style blogs and vlogs but I’ve found only a handful of women who do it successfully for my age group (over 50). I can no longer dress like a teenager, twenty or even thirtysomething (nor do I want to) and I see plenty of content for that demographic. Nor do I aspire to dress in high-end designer clothing. I do think a person can look great no matter their budget or stage of life though, so I’ve been tinkering with starting my own vlog on the topic. I know virtually nothing about being a youtube-er so I think I’ll do some research on it and see what I would need to get started.
I’ve also been rekindling my love of old movies. When I was in my teens, my mom and I would watch old films on A&E and TMC and I grew to love them so much. It’s great our library system has such a robust collection of old movies and I’ve been going through their DVD shelves in search of some new treasures. Last week I pulled out Mrs. Miniver (a movie about WWII that took me by surprise as it started out innocently enough with the main characters spending money they didn’t have) and The Big Sleep (starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall). I love to google the actors and read about them on Wikipedia. Did you know Bogart was 45 when he married 20-year-old Bacall?! Clicking on all the links can take up an afternoon in itself! Well, I’m about to go back to the 1930s with Grand Hotel.
Last week our family (plus my dad) went on a cruise to the Caribbean. It was a great week of sunshine, relaxation, reading and eating (of course). If you go hungry on a cruise ship you have no one to blame but yourself. Liam (the sixth grader) broke his wrist a couple weeks before our departure so I was worried he might be miserable even though we had a waterproof cast protector. Well, this broke at the hotel the morning of the cruise and I frantically called around to area drugstores to no avail. Then I was even more worried about his misery. Quick tip: if you have a broken boned kid, bring two cast protectors if you’re going on a vacation that involves water!
Everything turned out fine and Liam made fast friends with some boys from New York City and we barely saw him for the week. The ship we went on had a racetrack on the top deck and they spent the majority of their time doing that. They also played board games and cards in the library. Every once in a while he’d come find us by the pool and grab a bite with us.
My favorite part was relaxing by the pool with a book (this probably won’t surprise you if you follow my blog). It was great spending the week with my dad too. He has always wanted to go on a cruise and I think it exceeded his expectations, especially in the food department. The cruise had freestyle dining and several very good restaurants and every night he would say that was his favorite.
We ate way too much and enjoyed many shows including The Jersey Boys (I love a good back story and Frankie Valli’s did not disappoint), comedians, a Beatles band and a musical set in Cuba. We didn’t do much off the boat although we stopped at St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassau as my dad has trouble walking very far. I think it made the cruise more relaxing and the ship is much easier to navigate when most everyone else debarks for shore excursions.
As we were having our final buffet breakfast (if I don’t see another buffet for a while, I’ll be good), my dad said he was feeling melancholy which surprised me and I told him don’t be sad it’s over, be happy it happened (you know that saying). I didn’t want him to be sad. But guess what?
Monday morning It was my turn to feel melancholy. Vacation was over and I’m alone in my house with piles of laundry and all the detritus from our week away. We were also out of half and half for my coffee. I know these aren’t life’s biggest problems but still, I was feeling sad, a bit paralyzed about where to begin while also fighting the urge to simply go back to bed.
There is a saying, “move a muscle, change a thought” and I decided to employ it right away. Get up and move. Start somewhere. Anywhere. Do it, little by little. Start a load of laundry. Put away the sunscreen and sandals. Untangle the cords and put the passports away. I also needed to make a few returns so I got those organized and then I went out and did it. Usually they would have sat until the window to return them was long closed. I even managed to get to the gym.
Here’s the thing I have to remember when I feel overwhelmed or unmotivated – just get going. Once I’m going, it’s easy to keep going. The sad thoughts disappeared and my home looked better than it had a few hours earlier. And at the end of the day I scanned through our vacation photos and felt happiness that it happened and we created some great memories.
Did you ever tumble headlong into a world you had no idea existed? I was looking for something to pass the time last week and after visiting a few YouTube pages and finding little to entertain, I opened up the Netflix app on my phone and clicked on a title called Yummy Mummies. I thought back to the period just after I had my son and I would watch TLC (The Learning Channel) for hours on end. I particularly loved shows about pregnancy and babies and thought about this nostalgicly as I settled in to watch a show about some pregnant moms-to-be from down under. This was a rabbit hole I didn’t climb out of for many hours: it was ridiculously addicting.
It was also unlike any other reality tv show I have ever watched and I have a couple of seasons of RHOBH under my belt. These ladies (particularly Maria from Adelaide) take diva to a level that makes me fairly uncomfortable as they nest by accumulating designer baby gear (Dior bottles, Versace receiving blankets, matching baby and mum Burberry pajamas), peruse for “push” gifts (diamonds, Rolexes and Range Rovers) and plan babymoons on the Gold Coast. I live in a completely different world where Michael Kors and Coach are the highest of my designer aspirations and where my kid grew up in clothes from Target and occasionally Macy’s.
I admit I was completely taken in by these characters and couldn’t stop watching (my favorite was Rachel). There was a bit of a feud/competition between the Melbourne moms (Lorinska, Jane and Rachel) and Maria (mostly on Maria’s part) about who would have the better baby shower, etc. They would constantly make fun of each other and I guess the entertainment value was to find out who would do what next. Maria’s mom (mum) was, just, WOW! I can’t even find the word for it. She certainly had a hand in raising her daughter to be the narcissistic diva she is today.
The other ladies were fairly tame and reminded me of the characters from Sex and the City if they had kept going and all had babies. They dressed to the nines as they shopped for their push presents and induldged in lunches, pampering and more as they got ready for motherhood. I’m not saying this has been the best way to pass the time, but it sure was an eye opener about how the other half lives. I was never happier to settle into bed in my Target pajamas at the end of the day.
As my son entered fifth grade, we received a mailing about dance and etiquette lessons being offered for local schools. A group of women initiated this program over twenty five years ago where they teach kids in fifth and sixth grades the ins and outs of etiquette along with some traditional dance moves. Dancing with girls! The boys were not a bit interested but the moms banded together and coaxed (bribed) our sons by offering them a fun night out (bugers & ice cream) after the hourlong monthly lessons.
Year one was interesting. It went over well (with only a few groans on the evening of lessons) and if there wasn’t complete joy in the process, there was the camaraderie of the boys getting together monthly. I didn’t know exactly what went on behind those closed doors but at the end of the hour, the kids (probably 50-60 of them) came bursting from the gym in a stampede of energy.
Near the end of the school year, a dinner dance at a local country club was arranged for both the kids and parents to attend. They were deftly handled by the instructors into groups by grade and demonstrated the dances they had worked on through the year – the foxtrot, tango and waltz. It is as cute as you could imagine. The boys dressed in jacket and tie, the girls in fancy dress, hair and makeup as if they were on the way to their first prom.
However, this was as serious of an affair as ever and it looked excruciating for some of the kids as the parents looked on filming every second of it. The night appeared way more enjoyable for the parents who spent the early part of the evening sipping their beverages of choice as they caught up on school gossip. After the kids dutifully performed their dances with each other, we got to dance with them in mother/son and father/daughter variations. I savored it because I was quite sure he’d never agree to doing it in sixth grade.
Fast forward to the beginning of the school year and once again we received the mailing. To my surprise he wanted to do it this year even though most of the boys in his class dropped out. Last week I had the privilege of acting as a chaperone and got a glimpse of the process first hand and I was more impressed than ever.
The first part of the evening was all about etiquette and how to introduce yourself to grown ups. I stood in place as a line of 25 boys of all sizes shook my hand and looked me in the eye as they announced their name and their pleasure to make my acquaintance. I wanted to hug every last one of them.
Then the lesson began. The steps were practiced, the boys and girls in a line opposite each other and the they were paired up to practice for a bit until the music came on. It was easy to tell who didn’t want to be there. It was fun watching the interactions and I have to say there wasn’t a lot of chaperoning involed. We were the only ones from our school at the event because of ski club (my son’s broken wrist kept us off the slopes). We’re about halfway through the lessons but I can already see how they have improved. These are wonderful life lessons for these middle grade kids.
On January 7th I was thrust into a period of change. I was stunned and sad. Relieved and unsure. I was no longer employed and it wasn’t on my terms and I wasn’t going to like it. How am I to be identified if not by who I am aside from as a wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend? I have been in the workforce since I was 14 years old and it has mostly been an amazing ride. My first uniform was a long red skirt, black bodysuit, fishnet stocking and 2-inch heels, dancing for visitors at an old west theme park. I always tell people it was the best job I ever had.
The next summer I donned the red and white of a candy striper, unwittingly drafted into this by my mother whose vision for me was to be a nurse. Making beds (hospital corners!), filling water pitchers, running errands for nurses, each day inhaling the antiseptic scent of the aged and infirm. I was as miserable as could be. Our elderly neighbor, Mrs. Winterbottom was a long-term resident and I was afraid of her wispy white hair, crooked hands, and the general sickness of her. I was not going to be a nurse.
Lately, I have been doing some fun writing exercises (exercise and fun in the same sentence!). One was to choose several books and copy the first lines. As I was looking around my house for various books to pull first lines from, I ended up in our loft which houses all the papers and stuff that has no particular home. I found some long lost (and beloved) books and after copying a few first sentences, I began to write about a particular memory of reading a book I hadn’t seen in many years. It was pretty cool.
Another exercise challenged me to come up with a list of 100 things I love and I almost skipped it. Do I love 100 things? It turns out I do and once I started, I couldn’t stop and I’m adding to it every day. It is somewhat akin to a gratitude list. Here it is: Continue reading “What do you love?”→
If you knew that my first experience with a close loved one’s death was a traumatic experience in that I was one of the people to find my brother after his suicide (when I was nineteen), it may not surprise you that I haven’t always dealt with the loss of other people’s loved ones in the best of manners. Quite honestly, I would do anything to avoid a funeral home and a casket (open or closed) for many, many years. In fact, it was (and sometimes still is) hard to talk to others about their loss but I have always thought the best route was to send a condolence card. And now Facebook seems to be the place others go to express their thoughts and prayers.