Life

Lazing about

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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.

MC

 

 

 

 

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Life

Treating post-vacation sadness

Me and dad on the Norwegian Bliss

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.

Ready to race

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.

Enjoying teppanyaki on our last night

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.

MC

Life

Ballroom dancing… for kids

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.

MC

Writing

A New Routine

writing

Today is day one of my new, unemployed life. What came before, these last two weeks was just the trial run. A period similar (but certainly not as devastating) to the events experienced after the death of a loved one. The period that is suspended in time where your tribe gathers around. Makes daily inquiries as to your well being. There is much to do in those first few days. Organize and prepare for what lies ahead. A pre-planned getaway to Florida followed my first week away from the job and there was a flurry of activity awaiting me there. But now I am home and everyone is back to work and school and I’m here to let the dust settle around me and find a new routine.

This is exactly what I have wanted for months on end. Time to write. Time to see if I have what it takes to birth a book. I’m hopeful because it is early days and I see nothing but time stretching ahead of me. I have a bit of money saved and with unemployment kicking in soon, I’ll have enough to get me through the next few months. I know how lucky I am. If I can’t make it work now, I don’t see how it’s going to happen for me. I know I have to sit my butt in front of my computer and let the words out, even if they are gibberish and nonsensical.

Continue reading “A New Routine”

Life

Beautiful boy

I watched the above titled movie yesterday and I have a feeling it will stay with me for quite some time. It deals with the extremely difficult topic of drug addiction and the relationship between a father (helpless parent) and son (addict). It really blew me away in it’s unflinching portrayal of the damage drugs and alcohol can play in the life of a family.

It hit a little too close to home, though, as we lost a nephew to drugs just two and a half years ago. I met my sister-in-law more than 20 years before when I started volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline. She was the director of the center and I felt an immediate connection with her as we bonded over losing our brothers to suicide several years prior. Suicide prevention, dealing with the aftermath and support to survivors is God’s work. She is amazing at it and just recently retired from doing it full time for many years. It is work that takes it’s toll and I found I could only do it for a few years before it started contributing negatively to my own mental health. It was through this relationship that I met my husband – she is married to his brother – and I got to see their three kids grow through the years.

Unfortunately drugs became part of one of their twin boys life and after a long struggle, they got the phone call no parent ever wants to hear. I’m sorry but your son died of an overdose. I know they did everything to prevent getting that call but addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet portrayed the father and son but I couldn’t help slot my family members into their parts. To say life isn’t fair seems like a hollow admonition. A beautiful boy was lost and his family is forever altered.

MC

Life

Music for pre-teens

We are at a stage in life where Liam is becoming more interested in music and that is awesome. We have been bringing him along with us to live music (mostly free shows during the summer season) since he was a baby and over the past couple of years he has gone to several (paid) shows with us and is starting to find his own way.

I had bought tickets for my husband Jim and I to see Brett Dennen in November but Jim ended up being away so I brought Liam as my date (pictured above). This was a bit different than shows we’d been to in the past and he was really surprised when people stood up to dance (even a guy older than dad – lol) in their seats and in the aisles. It was high energy and a lot of fun but I couldn’t persuade him to get up and dance with me. Maybe next time.

Continue reading “Music for pre-teens”

Life, Uncategorized

Books over Christmas

Christmas is coming but you wouldn’t know it if you walked into our house today. I have been procrastinating about cleaning the dining and living rooms which hold the remnant mess of our summer kitchen remodel. There are always better things to do (reading, reading, reading) with my free time! I kept telling myself I would get to it and even this week when I knew time was running out, I couldn’t ignore the siren song of my Kindle. I recently finished I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara and then I became obsessed about anything else I could find out about the rapist and murderer who terrorized California in the 70’s and 80’s. And then I said to myself let me just start another book before I jump into cleaning.

Continue reading “Books over Christmas”

Musings

A Billion Dollars

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I did not win the $1.6 billion lottery last night. That’s ok because I didn’t even buy a ticket as I was hoping to ride my husband’s office pool ticket to a win. Do you ever imagine what would happen if you won a big lottery pot of gold? I must be a glass half empty kind of girl because my mind always goes to the stories where people’s lives are ruined by a big windfall. The ones where everyone is fighting over the money. The money is spent in a grandiose and spendthrift manner and is gone in the blink of an eye. I don’t like drama in my life and I think where there is big money, there is big drama.

If I were to win some money, I would only want enough to pay off all our debts (which are not huge at this point in my life) and those of my family. Maybe it would be nice to win enough to quit my job and pursue my dream to write full time. I don’t think I’m cut out for a life of leisure. Spa days and shopping jags are fun but an occasional splurge is all I can handle. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about retirement (objects in mirror are closer than they appear). I wonder what I’ll do with my days as I’ll no longer have a kid to launch into the world which takes up about 80% of my free time.

I try to bring my mind back to the present when I start to look so far into the future. I have to stay grounded in today and not worry so much about a future that is hazy at best. I’m plugging away day by day. Trying to create memories for my family and myself that will be waiting for me when I’m old and gray. There, I did it again. Bringing it back to today.

MC

 

 

 

 

 

Writing

Not writing

write-until-it-becomes-as-natural-as-breathing_tw.pngI haven’t been writing. At. All. No words have been transferred from my brain to paper or computer in over a month and it feels like a dam is going to burst. I’ve barely even tried to write. I had been toting around a journal wherever I went for months on end and I finally even dumped that on my bedside stand no longer making a pretense that I might just write something down while I’m waiting somewhere.

I barely recognize myself these days. I keep telling myself I’ll feel better when the house is back in order. I keep telling myself we’re almost there. Just a few more weeks and then I can reboot my life. I am in a funk and it’s not fun. Don’t get me wrong, there are pockets of joy. I take them as they come and wrap myself around them trying to pull every spark of that good energy close to me to savor.

But yesterday was a very bad day. My dad was swindled out of a large sum of money that he cannot afford. We had our eleven-year-old at a therapy appointment because we can barely tolerate his attitude and behavior on a daily basis, only to be told he is suffering from an advanced case of teenageritis. A form email rejection for a job I applied to a couple of months ago without the benefit of even a phone interview. I spent the day crying until I didn’t know what I was even crying about anymore.

But today I dust myself off and tackle the issues at hand. A new day. A fresh start. I am resilient. I can do this. Fake it until you make it. I am re-committing myself to writing every day. It’s the only way back for me regardless if I hit the publish button or not. I am writing.

MC

travel

The final haul, a travel story with plot twists

The alarm started buzzing at 2:30 a.m., just I was diving into the big sleep. The traveling home phase of vacation was about to begin. This was not the energized, adrenaline fueled leg of our trip that began in the wee morning hours of March 29th. The days of sightseeing, jungle walks, horseback riding, hiking and ziplining caught up with my body and I was achy, tired, sore. It was time to go home and the thought of my own bed at the days end was all that prompted me along.

We arrived at the airport at 3:45 a.m., collected our luggage and made our way to check-in and patiently waited for the airline to open. Thirty minutes later the line began to move as travelers were being checked in. This part was fairly painless and we were soon off to the gate to wait for boarding. Nerves were frayed. A lack of sleep was catching up. My family nearly imploded as we sat in stony silence after a meltdown that left me with tears streaming down my face. Why did I think we’d make it home without a big to do? Why did I put makeup on at 3:00 in the morning? I could feel my eyeliner and mascara pooling under my eyes.

By the time we boarded, over an hour later, we had declared a shaky truce and were looking forward to a bit of sleep while the plane made it’s way to Miami. But this is where an uneventful travel day took a turn. A turn for the worse.

As we were making our way to customs at the Miami Airport, Jim paused to wonder where the passports were. We needed them as we boarded the flight in Costa Rica, everyone holding their own, and I vaguely remembered putting them in the top part of one of the backpacks. I only came up with two, mine and Jim’s. Where was Liam’s? We tore through all our carry on’s but came up empty. No one remembered if Liam gave his to us after we boarded. Liam and I hiked back to the gate but they wouldn’t let us on the plane and an attendant called into the plane to see if anyone could locate the passport. It was just after noon and the next flight was going at 1:10 (this was the only time noted on the boarding pass).

Panic began to set in. We were about to come loose again, the clean slate declared after the early morning meltdown was in danger of busting wide open. I texted Jim they were unable to locate the passport and we’d have to formulate a plan B. A security attendant gave us instructions to go to an information desk and just as he was about to take us through, Jim received a call that the passport was located. But he had to return to the gate through many corridors to retrieve it, Liam on his heels. I waited in the customs line as I watched the minutes tick away.

With 30 minutes until the next flight, Jim and Liam finally came into view but I was nowhere near the front of the line where we had to enter our information into a bank of computers to pass through customs. I was frantically texting the friends we traveled with not to let the plane leave without us. When the three of us were together again, I asked another attendant to help us but she said she’d have to find someone in an orange vest. Several minutes passed before she pulled us from the line and sent us to a customs agent line that was five deep, all foreigners who needed fingrprints and photos. The time ticked away and the line moved s-l-o-w-l-y. It was 20 minutes until takeoff.

By the time we made it through customs, there were about 15 minutes until we were to depart. I texted our friends we were almost there, relieved we would make the connecting flight. We sprinted to baggage claim, collected our bags and dropped them in the area to be loaded onto the next flight. We rounded the corner to another long line – security again! We have TSA clearance but I couldn’t find a line that would express us through to the gates. I flagged another security attendant where I exlpained our flight was leaving in 12 minutes. She let us jump ahead to the document checker but from there we were giving no further assistance. I looked on as they brought through a group of disabled passengers to express through our line. Tears were just below the surface. I pleaed with another attendant to help us but he remained stony faced and said we’d have to wait. The tears bubbled up as a traveler ahead of us said we could go ahead.

A few minutes later, our bags were on the conveyer to be x-rayed, and we watched as they monitored the bags going through thinking we’d be making the final dash to the gate soon. They stopped at one of our bags for several seconds as they eyed a cluster of balls they found suspicious and pulled the bag aside. The magnetic balls we’d purchased for Liam at a gift shop the day before. My heart sank. We were so close but the clock had now arrived at 1:10. Not knowing what else to do, I sent Jim and Liam ahead while I remained with the bag. A fleeting thought came to just abandon the bag but I figured that would only lead to more trouble and it contained all of our souvenirs and the Costa Rican coffee we’d brought home with us. The bag was examined and I started running to the gate. Our gate was number 5 and I was at 25. The gate was a half mile away but I couldn’t keep up the pace and started walking as briskly as my tired body could go. I had already contemplated having to find a new flight home. This would be an added complication because our group of six had a car service meeting us at JFK to take us on the final 150 miles home. I passed gate after gate, looking for a security cart to whisk me to the end but the few that I saw along the cooridor were abandoned, no personnel in sight. As I closed in on gate 5, I pictured the gate area empty, doors closed, plane pushing away from the gate. I blinked to see Jim and Liam in line to board. The plane was not anywhere near it’s final boarding pass. Relief washed over me as I let my overheated body finally relax. We made it with time to spare. Our flight was at 1:40.

MC

Daily prompt: haul