Life

Kate Spade

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The death of Kate Spade, only a few days old, has hit me hard for reasons that are hard to explain. I have read story after story, all the same version with very few details and I’m trying to make sense of it all. I do not own a Kate Spade bag, nor any high-quality statement bags save for a heavily discounted Coach bag purchased at an outlet because I can’t pull the trigger on anything over $100. I am all for clothes and shoes but for some reason cannot make the leap for an expensive purse.

I think what bothers me about this death as with all suicides is that the person did not see better days ahead. Could not comprehend in that moment or in the vastly larger blocks of time of their depression – days, weeks, months, years – that things would eventually change and make living bearable. Life is hard and we don’t always know in what ways for the people who walk among us. Some of us cannot comprehend a life that is so bad it is not worth living anymore. We think of them as selfish or weak. I do not.

Like most others, I experience those times when I’d rather not live either. Life can be HARD. I too have experienced many bad days on end where it seems like it would just make sense to pack it all in. Just drift into the nothingness of death so as not to have to deal with the hard stuff. Thankfully, these are fleeting thoughts because I remind myself that whatever it is, this too will pass. I also don’t have the guts to formulate and follow through with an actual plan. There is also the fact that my brother took his own life when he was 21 and I was 19. I saw the devastating results of suicide first hand and I couldn’t do that to someone else. Instead, I chose to seek help from a professional when necessary.

It doesn’t really matter what the backstory was for Kate. She was in so much pain that she couldn’t live anymore. Mental health holds a stigma as does addiction and these are a deadly combo when left untreated. My heart goes out to her family, for their long road ahead and the public scrutiny this death seems to demand. For many years I chose anger and denial in dealing with my brother’s death. I also succumbed to addiction as one of the byproducts. I had to forgive him and myself and even though it has been a hard road, I am better for my trip down it.

There was also a time when I was passionately involved in suicide prevention. I anonymously answered phone calls, often late into the night when the other person would cry or lash out or simply hang on the line in silence. Do suicide prevention hotlines work? Do people use them? I never felt adequate enough when I was on the other end of the line. Their voices and hopelessness stayed with me through the next few days as I went about life. Eventually, I couldn’t do it anymore for my own mental health. I wish I had answers but I don’t.

If you think you are out of options with nowhere to turn, please reach out. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

RIP Kate Spade.

MC

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Life

The Office

Yesterday I sat in my half-completed office, the new floor tiled and clean. Empty of all but the relics of construction detritus. I pulled a chair in from the nearby deck and just sat and envisioned the room as I see it Friday afternoon which I’m pretty sure will be the day it’s all put back together. I cannot tell you how good this feels after nearly six weeks of slow progress. There is still so much more but for now, this is everything.

For the past 15 years I have been in our house, this is the only room that remained untouched, bearing the scars of wallpaper hung sometime in the 90’s. The furniture is mish-mash and the room has served as a dumping ground for all things brought into the house – bookbags, ski paraphernalia, lacrosse gear, stuff we didn’t know what else to do with. I have tried to organize it and make it nice but it rarely looks better than a forgotten space. We decided a couple of years ago to finally redo the room we could never quite bring ourselves to call “the office”. Wainscotting was purchased in a moment of optimism but has languished in the basement for two years. One vision had us adding a fireplace but we found the cost, done right, was exorbitant for the size of the room and the use we’d get out of it.

Currently, it serves as a mudroom, office, dog feeding station, maildrop, command center, quiet reading area, shoe repository, recycling center and holder of random household things. I have my work cut out to change its image among our household members as a more refined place, a place of respect that deserves better than our cast-off coats and shoes. Our contractor caught me sizing up an area of the room yesterday and mistook it for displeasure in the work they’d done. Really, I was deep in thought about how to make this room really sing and work for us and I quickly assured him that wasn’t the case.

I have an old, old glassed-door (ugly green lining hides the contents) bookcase that has served as a centerpiece for organizing the room and it was a hand me down from my grandfather’s office of the 1950’s. When I was a child I  used it to house my library of books and I was our household’s self-appointed librarian and even put library card slots in all the books. I had a small table that served as the checkout desk. I’ve been thinking of letting the piece go because it doesn’t fit my new decor scheme, but I’m definitely struggling with this.

There is also the light colored desk that was a hand me down from an aunt and has a black leather top and old-fashioned drawer nobs. There is a sturdy, dark wood bookcase. The comfortable love seat was a new addition last year. None of it matches or looks right in that bespoke way of homes filled with old treasures that don’t match. I still have work to do in the envisioning of it as a whole. I’m just happy to be a little closer to that day.

Life

Embracing Awkward

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I am not socially fluid. I don’t know what to say in many situations. I also find it very hard to start small talk with strangers, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try. Sometimes I’ll be in a situation giving myself a pep talk to just say something. Make a comment about their dog. Their cute bag. Their baby. I will give you a full blown example of a situation.

A couple months ago I decided to stop into a Starbucks to do some writing. People just keep to themselves, right? I was sitting in an area with four comfy leather chairs and observed a couple come in with a newborn baby. You could tell it was a major outing for them. Maybe they had to go out for a doctor’s appointment and decided to stop for a quick coffee on the way home. The dad got the mom and baby situated before heading to the counter for their drinks. The mom looked tired and a bit overwhelmed so I decided I would reach out.

I was that new mother once and it was nice when people talked to me about my baby. I asked how old she was. What her name was (it was a very unusual and lovely name). If this was her first (yes) and how being a new mom was going. She admitted she was overwhelmed and I offered what I hope were comforting words. I did not say this time passes too fast and to hang onto every moment (this is one thing that was said to me over and over, hundreds of times, especially when I was complaining about some facet of motherhood). I told her to take care. It wasn’t a flowing conversation by any means and I kept my voice quiet and mellow.

Then another woman came over cooing and awing away in such a joyful and interested way. She was full of questions and thoughts that made me think, so that’s how it is to not be socially awkward with strangers. It made me think about my own stilted interaction with the new mom. I should have shown more excitement. But that’s just not me. I love babies and puppies as much as the next person but if I don’t have a personal connection to you already, I can’t overact the situation – high voice, joyful tone, natural, sunny attitude. I am a reserved person, especially with strangers.

A couple weeks ago we were at a social function for our son’s school. I do not enjoy these situations very much because I am not home reading a book or a million other things I’d rather be doing. I don’t drink and cannot hear well in noisy environments which also is a strain in social situations. I keep to one on one interactions as much as possible but I’m just as happy to sit and people watch. I’d rather observe than participate, I guess. I think this makes me awkward to others but I have learned to just embrace it. I have been told I can come off snobbish because I don’t always engage. I feel like we live in a society that values outgoing people over the quiet ones but I’ve learned to be OK with that.

MC

 

Life

The chaos of home renovations

The early days of renovation

It’s probably no small coincidence that my last blog post of over two weeks ago coincides with the progressing and now overwhelming chaotic state of my home which is undergoing (apparently) vast renovation. It started with pulling apart our master bath which left us unable to inhabit the master bedroom. We pulled up stakes and moved into the extremely unorganized guest room upstairs and have been there ever since. It’s a dodgy existence. The chaos has served as a slow moving infection that is seeping into all areas of life.

On day one I came home to find our vanity and toilet planted in the area directly in front of my dresser with only  a few drawers accessible that housed my underwear, pajamas, shorts and exercise clothes. The closet too. This is okay because I don’t need socks or scarves this time of year and was able to pull what I needed to survive in the guest room. We could get to the ironing area by climbing over the bed (now covered with coats, boots and random paraphernalia from our entry closet where the floor is being replaced) which for me has only happened once out of sheer necessity. I figured we’d be back in business in the master room by now but it sits starkly empty down to the studs with the contents sitting patiently in the garage ready to be called into duty.

Day two I came home to find the contents of my office in the dining and living rooms and it has been downhill ever since. Fortunately we will still have our kitchen another few weeks while we wait for cabinets to come in. I’m hopeful that the other areas will be put back together by then and I’ll be better mentally prepared for this transition. Maybe not.

So at the end of week one, on my Friday day off that was full of errands and to dos, the contractor sat me down to tell me his partner has not been showing up to work and basically took some of the money we paid out to start the job and did a runner. Yeah, that day pretty much sucked but I feel confident in the remaining guy who has brought in more help although it’s going much slower than anticipated.

What is the moral of the story? I don’t really know because it hasn’t played out in it’s entirety yet. We’re living in a confined space and even Liam’s room is chocked full of pieces of our house so that he really only has a narrow passage to get to his bed. Partly it’s been a freeing experience because I don’t have to worry about cleaning up (or yelling at Liam to clean his room). I merely have to keep up a bit of laundry, keep the dishes washed and make sure nothing important gets lost in the clutter. It will be helpful when it comes to putting our rooms back together because I’ll likely be able to throw or donate a lot of things I find we don’t need anymore.

Tomorrow is my first Friday off at home without a dozen things going on so I’m planning to take my laptop somewhere to write to escape the noise of the work. I will hang around to talk to the workers who I barely see and to find out how it’s going recovering the money he paid out to his former partner. I hope he has good news. I will also try to get an estimate on our master bath which will begin the return to normalcy in our chaotic home life. Stay tuned.

MC

Life

2018 Goals Check-in

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Back in January, I wrote out a lengthy list of things I wanted to accomplish or do better in 2018. I got myself a brand new fancy notebook (I definitely have a problem with buying notebooks and journals) and promptly lost it under a pile of papers and books to read. So much for getting organized! I dug it out last week to see what I wrote and how I was doing with it. Continue reading “2018 Goals Check-in”

Life

The Philosophy of Kanye West

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Yesterday as I was perusing my Twitter feed and something weird kept popping up. Retweets of random messages from Kanye West. I am not a follower and I don’t subscribe to the whole Kardashian way of living so I was a little surprised by this.  How did these tweets make their way into my timeline? Why is everyone retweeting Kanye? Why did The Skimm’s top link today reference this tweet storm? Turns out Kanye is writing a book about philosphy. And guys, he’s doing it in real time on Twitter. I am questioning what kind of parallel universe I’m living in.

I like to go right to the source of things so I made my way over to his Twitter feed and clicked follow. Am I falling into a trap here? Thanks to my stint working in a newsroom, I think I have a healthy dose of cynicism skepticism and so immediately tried to discern a motive for his sudden interest in writing these brief tweets. Is Kanye’s philosophizing all about drawing eyeballs to himself? So he can sell more whatever? Albums. Clothing. Lifestyle. Page views. Some of the things he was saying seem to go against the entire grain of what the Kardashians seem to be about.

Continue reading “The Philosophy of Kanye West”

Life

An Ode to TGI Friday’s

TGIFI haven’t been to a TGI Friday’s in years. I recently read something that Millenials are killing off these casual chain restaurants (like Ruby Tuesdays, Applebee’s and TGI Friday) with preferences for healthier food and it kind of makes me a little sad. I’m not sad people are eating healthier – we are all trying to do that. What I’m sad about is what TGI Friday’s meant to me in my young adulthood as the place to gather for happy hour (with free food which was definitely not healthy) and to catch up with friends while also scoping for potential love interests.

These memories are also a mixed bag but the one thing that sticks out for me is none of us had cell phones so our time together was all about face-to-face conversation and I think there is a lot to be said for that. Usually we started out in the bar area, grabbing a couple of drinks and playing trivia while we waited for others to arrive. We sat or stood around the bar area and caught up on our days. We would also note if there were any cute or interesting strangers in the vicinity and one of us might get up the courage to engage them in conversation (usually not me).

Continue reading “An Ode to TGI Friday’s”

Life

A Quartet of Decisions

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First, I let myself loose in Sephora last night. This is not a strategy I would suggest if you don’t have loads of time to kill. I went in specifically to buy a travel sized bottle of this magical stuff and also a small eye shadow palette for my trip. I expected this to take five minutes. Have you ever been in and out of Sephora in five minutes? Right.

I decided now would be the time to investigate a new facial moisturizer. This is an impossible task. At Sephora. I tried on so many moisturizers, lopping one on top of another until my face was shining like nobody’s business. I was also not in the right frame of mind for such an assignment as I couldn’t see past the lines, the tired eyes, the pasty skin. You definitely need to be at the top of your confidence game to take on such a task as you are creeping into your 50’s. An hour later, I went to the register with the two items I went in for. I had been excited that the eye shadow was $10 off but then forgot to look at the receipt until I got home and saw they didn’t give me the sale price. I think that’s part of the Sephora mystique. Confuse them with all the products so that by the time they are at the register, they are completely unfocused about how much everything costs.

Secondly, somewhere along the way, I lost my hearing aid. I didn’t notice this until I was leaving Sephora and panic set in! I did a quick look around the circuitous route I took in the store but didn’t see it anywhere. Do I tell someone in the store I lost this tiny little thing that will be impossible to find or go back to where I was before coming into Sephora (getting my brows threaded) to see if I left it there? I didn’t want to make any undue fuss so I hiked back to the threading place. It was lodged in the seat and the confused lady who did my brows was explaining that two other customers probably sat on it and hoped it would be OK. It was. Relief was palpable because I was already running scenarios in my mind about how I could get a replacement in less than 24 hours. It would be impossible.

Thirdly, I decided to get a pedicure. This has been a rare event for me the past couple of years because I keep losing the nail off one of my big toes. That is a whole other story that involves my toenail rubbing against the top of my ski boot. One of my big toenails is currently light purple so I wanted to get a color that would go over it before the trip. I chose a shade and made my way to the pedicure chair. The salon lady did not approve of my choice and sent me back to the varnish display insisting I go for something more spring-like so I chose a pink shade. Apparently it wasn’t springy enough because she went over and chose something herself and since I was brain-numb, I went with it.

Fourthly, I get very panicky about having something to read on the plane before I head on vacation. To save on space, I’m only bringing my Kindle and I just finished a page-turning book that would have been perfect for the trip. It’s really not easy to find page-turning books, especially ones that would be available to check out from the library at the last minute. While I should have been getting my beauty sleep, I spent a good 90 minutes scouring the library e-book site for books that would be easy to get into before I leave. I ended up downloading five e-books and one audiobook but was not satisfied they would be sufficient and so I scooted over to Amazon where I debated about buying a book I wanted that was on Kindle Unlimited (which I used to subscribe to) or to re-subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. I decided to re-subscribe since there were a few books that looked interesting. Do I  have a page turner? I do not know.

I’m trying to keep my decision making light today since I still haven’t finalized my clothing choices. This is also something I overthink. every. time.

MC

Daily prompt: quartet

 

 

Life

Weekend Busyness

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Here we are at Monday again. How does this keep happening? Here’s a brief longish synopsis of things I did.

Friday. I consider this part of the weekend now since I no longer work on Friday. I put on my parent hat, though, because it was parent/teacher conference day. The school year is winding down and so is my patience with a couple of his teachers. In fifth grade, they start rotating to various teachers for their subjects and there are about a dozen different classes to catch up on. The appointments run 15 minutes apiece and after looking at how he’s doing overall, I decided to catch up with four of them. Three he’s had past behavior issues with and one I missed last time. Two I deliberately chose not to meet with due to their behavior issues. And the rest I see often enough that if anything was going on they needed to talk about, we could address at any time. The meetings went pretty much as expected and the behavior issues are less intense than they were at the beginning of the year.

From there, Liam and I went shopping to pick up some last minute items for the trip. I took him to Kohl’s and let him pick out some activewear since he doesn’t have much he hasn’t outgrown from last summer. This turned out to be the best idea of the day because I usually pick out what I want for him (based on my style) and the kid definitely has a style of his own and gravitated towards things I wouldn’t have picked out. He loved one outfit so much he wore it the entire weekend even though the weather is not yet conducive to shorts and t-shirts. We collected just about everything we need and it was nearly noon by the time I got him home. I headed to a meeting (AA).

The afternoon was spent packing Liam’s bag and then organizing my own things and it was pretty interesting that everything was going to fit into my Vera Bradley weekend bag. I will also have a backpack for the misc items like electronics, guidebooks, and miscellaneous supplies. We didn’t do much else but one of my e-book holds came through from the library and it’s really good. I was halfway through a physical book from the library that was due back that day and I was unable to renew it because someone was waiting for it. It was called Mrs. by Caitlin Macy and while I liked it, it wasn’t enough for me to keep to pay the library fines. The e-book I started and am 60% through is called The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances and it’s the story of a mother whose son becomes entangled in a less-than-desirable relationship (from the mom’s point of view). There are twists and turns galore. It’s also set in London and I love books set in London.

That evening, Liam had lacrosse practice and then we went to a fish fry place for dinner. This is the most delicious place for a fish fry and it’s a good reason to look forward to Lent because we rarely go outside of that time of year. Needless to say, I stayed up late reading!

Saturday morning I go to a meeting first thing. It’s a great way to start the day and this is my favorite meeting of the week. I love getting there early (by 7:30) because there is an older lady who I can talk to about things I’m dealing with as a parent that are hard (she’s like a surrogate mother) and she helps me talk out whatever issue and I always feel better. There was something that came up during one of the parent/teacher meetings I was very concerned about and she allayed my fears and that I was doing a good job as a mom.

I haven’t updated you on my running lately but it’s going pretty good. Since I’ve been back from Florida, my ability to get to the gym regularly has suffered but when I get there I’m doing it. I’ve managed to get to 20 minutes of running and 10 walking for my workout and I got a good workout in both Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Liam also tested for his next level of black belt and did a great job. This kid really amazes me with his dedication to Taekwondo. Testing lasts about 3 hours so that’s a good chunk of the day. We went to church that evening in anticipation of skiing Sunday but decided not to go after learning the conditions were “mashed potato”. Not my favorite.

Saturday night we made pizza at home and then at 7:00 I was tucked into bed with my book! This is how I love to spend a Saturday night. Maybe not every Saturday night but this was the perfect weekend for it.

Sunday morning is another meeting I love but I rarely make due to getting to church or skiing. It was a very good meeting and I saw a couple of friends to catch up with. I don’t know a lot of people at this meeting but I uncharacteristically engaged someone new in conversation before it began and I will now have someone new I know next time I go.

When I got home, Liam and I went out on some errands. I have been trying out Stitch Fix and had to return the items I didn’t want (which is to say most of them). I ended up returning the library book that was due Friday, returning one of my Target purchases from Friday and had to go back to Kohl’s because they forgot to remove one of the security tags from a top I bought. I was fairly annoyed by this because it was an inefficient use of my time but then I ended up finding a great spring basket for the front door. I have officially obliterated my Lenten sacrifice of giving up shopping!

I was also in search of a pair of white leggings for an outfit I wanted to wear on the plane. I visited White House Black Market, Chico’s, Loft, Talbots, Target to no avail. I gave up and we went to the gym. When we got home, Jim showed me a new purchase he made – an Apple watch – and he was pretty thrilled about it. He offered to buy me one too (this was something we talked about for our anniversary last fall but never did it) and I said why not! So off we went to the Apple Store and I picked out a similar watch. I love it already but I have very little knowledge of its capabilities yet! But in the mall, there was an entire store devoted to leggings! How’s that for synchronicity? Yup, they had the white leggings.

Once home, we both set up our watches and then I made dinner. After which Jim and Liam watched basketball until 60 Minutes. If you haven’t heard who was on last night, I might think you are living under a rock. I half listened while I read my book and wish I hadn’t.  And now we are here on Monday morning.

MC

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life

Passing time at the library

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I used to be a magazine junkie. I was reminded of this when I stopped by my local library Friday afternoon to pick up some books I had on hold. Fresh off my nostalgic trip down memory lane of my childhood library and with time to spare, I decided to wander past the front desk and new fiction area to places I hadn’t visited in a few years.

First, I checked out the expanded DVD section which I always forget about. I love old movies and they are hard to find at Red Box and Netflix so I found a couple videos for myself and to share with Liam (I recently introduced him to Hitchcock via Rear Window). He likes mysteries and it’s not easy to find appropriate films for an eleven-year-old that aren’t rated R. We have seen Clue, The Movie more times than I can count. Next up, thanks to the library, is North by Northwest.

Continue reading “Passing time at the library”