Tuesday Night Soccer

It was a gorgeous evening for a game. It was an exciting one tonight too, so much so that I had to look away a few times. I was so stirred up – and also coming down from a totally shitty 48 hours – that I actually started playing around with Waterlogue AND my meme generator. Both. At the same time. Who knew the fun could be even bigger?

Anyway, the teams were pretty evenly matched and the boys were playing their little hearts out. And the coaches tonight, just wow, the jumping up and down and the yelling from the sidelines was a form of entertainment in and of itself. Basically, they were losing their shit, in a good way. I’m thinking both of them are doubling up on their high blood pressure meds right about now.

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And also this:

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Sunday Farmer’s Market

Horrible people that we are, we dragged the boy to the farmer’s market over the weekend. Against his will. On the way out the door he said, “FINE, but I’m not walking around. You guys do what you want, but I’m gonna sit under a tree, play my guitar and eat a hot dog.” He got over it once we were actually there in the midst of things, just like he always does, but he never did get that hot dog. He most certainly did play his guitar under a tree for awhile, though. He was so incredibly adorable sitting there strumming and bobbing his head to the beat he was creating. The artistic stylings of my boy. So content, not a worry, just doing his thing. He sounded like a train wreck, but who cares. As I watched him and captured a photo, the wild love I feel for that kid overflowed. And then my stomach growled so we shared some Fat Frankie’s margherita pizza. The end.

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PS – I edited the photo in an app called Waterlogue. I love it.

Women and Weasels Against Bullshit

Ok, see if you can stay with me for a minute until I get to the point.

Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to have accumulated various items, habits, built certain relationships, etc in my trying-to-stay-sane-while-I-do-this-thing-called-life toolkit. I don’t always remember to use them all, with the exception of my antidepressant which would have to be pried from my cold, dead hands at this point. I’ve stopped taking it before when things were “better” but life just keeps happening and I’ve come to accept that I’m wired the way I’m wired and I’m on it for good this time. Glad we got that settled, finally.

But anyway…my tool kit. Sufficient time alone. Exercise. Good nutrition. Proper sleep. My husband. A dear friend or two. Springsteen. My antidepressant, like I said. A visit to a therapist if needed, even though in my estimation I had enough therapy in my early adulthood to choke a freaking horse and OMG, the self-help books. My ongoing and VERY complicated conversation with God. A little bit of wine. Reading. Writing. The beach. Puttering around my house. Laughter. And I’m convinced I need to add yoga and meditation and maybe acupuncture but I haven’t gotten around to it. Oh, and there’s Juanita the Weasel.

And there it is. The point. Juanita the Weasel.

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The photo and persona, if you will, of the taxidermied Weasel itself is the brilliant creation of Jennifer Lawson, AKA The Bloggess. It went viral a couple of years ago and then she kindly made the photo available to her readers on Flickr. To do whatever we freaking want with it! If you are one of my FB friends, you know how much I love this Weasel. And yeah, she’s worthy of a capital W because she plays a significant role in my life. She’s irreplaceable.

I love Juanita so much that, for me, adding text to her photo is like putting words to music. A creative outlet, one that inspires me, supports my mental health and is also hilarious. Or mentally hilarious. Whatever.

Juanita speaks to me. I just really get her…the housewife frock, her hands up in the air, her mouth wide open yelling whateverthehell on the top of her lungs. Getting shit done. And I always imagine her calmly moving on when she’s finished venting, smoothing out her frock, carrying on with her other work of the day, whatever it is, energies refocused. The calm isn’t like me, but I can aspire to that part. Anyway, I also imagine there’s some additional cursing under her breath afterwards, which IS like me.

I love how she can look angry, scared, surprised, excited, happy, frustrated, psychotic and more all at the same time. I can even see her praising the Lord, too, can’t you? So versatile.

I mainly generate the memes for my own therapeutic enjoyment. Believe it or not, I’m easily amused. Sometimes I giggle myself so silly that I forget what I was upset about in the first place. Magical. I’m so grateful to The Bloggess for sharing her masterpiece with her readers because it became another very effective outlet for me to express myself. Drop the F-bomb in a Juanita meme and move on. It works for me. Also, I now receive requests for Weasel memes on a regular basis from family members and friends. Because apparently I’m the only one with a meme generator app and/or the time for such things. Nevertheless, I love that I can provide a personalized service that really seems to help bring relief to people especially during stressful or annoying episodes in their lives. I love that it doesn’t add additional stress to my own goings-ons. I gladly do it for whoever asks and I usually drop everything to turn over the requests quickly. I have a Weasel file that makes me nearly pee my pants every time I look through it. It’s actually become a scrapbook of sorts. I can look through it and remember what possessed me to generate a particular meme or what was going on in the lives of my people that possessed them to ask for their own meme. And if I can share my file with someone else like my sister J and I get to watch her nearly pee her own pants? Well, that’s just the best. Go ahead, give me a situation, almost any situation, and I’ll show you how Juanita the Weasel can help make it better, even if only for a few minutes.

I’m in the early stages of considering – I said considering – some very part-time work and as I think about what I might like to do, my mind wanders to Juanita. If only I could earn a little money creating Juanita memes, I WOULD JUMP ALL OVER THAT IN A SPLIT SECOND. That would be some fulfilling work right there. I’m serious. I would share proceeds with The Bloggess, of course, and I wouldn’t charge a lot either, maybe just enough to cover Girl’s college textbooks. I’m not greedy.

While I ponder that some more, I’ll leave you with these samples from my Weasel file. Please feel free to share and friend me on FB if you want to have access to the REALLY good ones:

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19 Years

Today is our 19th wedding anniversary, or 9th, depending on how you look at it. We recommitted to our marriage on our 10th anniversary. Girl was 8 years old, she had a broken foot and I was 5 months pregnant with Boy, our midlife SURPRISE.

Here we are on this day 19 years ago:

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And here we are on this day 9 years ago:

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Our recommitment celebration was sort of like our Plan B – except it was totally NOT planned. Our Plan A, or the first half of our marriage was, um, how should I say this? NOT SMOOTH. For various reasons, it was actually quite wrinkly, with some periods of totally hellish hell thrown in there, a few miracles, and a metric shit ton of hard work. My unrelenting fiery personality figured into the equation somewhere too, for better or for worse, sometimes both.

And now, as far as I can tell, we’re one of the most solid couples I know. Most of the time. Not perfect, not AT ALL without the shit couples who do life together seem to have to work though, NOT a fairy tale, just solid. A work still in progress for sure, but with a strong foundation. We fought for it. I guess we grew up together and in the process of riding this wild rollercoaster called marriage, we became a family.

My definition of love was not particularly evolved earlier in my adult life and I have that whole not-good-with-living-things thing to deal with. But I love Husband more with each passing year and I can’t imagine doing this with anyone else, even though it’s really hard, which BTW, people do not tell you before you do it – or maybe they did and we didn’t listen. I don’t remember. Its wonderful too, going through this life with my husband who is also my best friend and partner. It’s both. Hard and wonderful. And we make each other laugh through it all, which at this point is mandatory.

In the immortal words of one of my heroes, OUR FAITH WAS REWARDED.

This photo, with one of my favorite quotes beneath it – WHAT’S COMIN’ WILL COME AND WE’LL MEET IT WHEN IT DOES – was taken 2 or 3 years ago during our anniversary dinner and sits on the bar in our kitchen. It’s pretty much become our motto:

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Oh yeah, and happy 65th birthday to Bruce Springsteen! Coincidence, I swear.

Not Good With Living – And Other – Things

Generally speaking, I don’t do so well in groups, large or small. I don’t always do well one on one with people either. Actually, I don’t do well with animals or with other living things. I can’t even keep most plants alive for long.

Maybe it’s another manifestation of my intensity or my introversion or my high sensitivity or my anxiety or my menopause or all of the above or something worse. Whatever, I’m just not all that good at it. Also, I’m a lapsed MSW. And people tend to like me, some even love me. Go figure.

I’ve been told that it’s obvious I have a heart for people and for justice. I think that’s true. I really do like people – mostly – and I sincerely care about them. Eh, actually, I love humanity, but people? Not so much. I’ve come to realize I’m just not so good with them unless I interact with them in small doses, with frequent breaks. Sometimes I wish I could care for most of them from afar so I could reserve my energy for when I really need to step up to the plate live and in person. Because constantly *being there* wears me way the hell out, and if I don’t take really good care, I go down the tubes.

There are issues I care deeply about and I’ve always wanted to do my part in helping to make things right or better or good or just or safer for people somehow. Maybe I care too much. I tend to take it all too personally, to feel it all too deeply. And of course, that can get in the way of getting shit done. Sometimes, in an effort to make it “right”, I become obsessive, and I rarely know if what I’m doing makes a damn bit of difference in the end or if the toll it inevitably takes on me and the people around me is worth it. I can be difficult to live with in my determination to make it “right”. I can become really, REALLY outraged and sometimes I yell or pull out my extensive catalog of profanity. Or BOTH. I realize that’s rarely an effective way to get ideas or concerns across. I know there is a place for blowing the lid off of stuff to balance out the silence or inaction, but there’s an art to knowing WHEN and HOW to do that and apparently I don’t have that talent. I lack subtlety; when I’m on a mission, I’ve been told I’m more like a tornado. I can go from halo to broom stick in a split second. I can make people uncomfortable. I really do aspire to learn to keep my cool and/or to more gracefully take the proverbial bull by the horns while getting things done. Learning to walk away sooner could be good in some cases too. But I never do.

I still struggle to see shades of gray in some areas. When I see certain things in only black and white, it’s pretty easy to become very worried that whatever it is I’m fighting for is gonna fall through the cracks where there’s no middle ground, no cushion. And no way am I letting THAT happen. And/or I try too hard to figure people out inside my own head instead of just letting them be. And letting myself be. And I suck at giving people the benefit of the doubt. And I hope for – or insist on – the best and I expect the worst and then when the worst happens, I’m shocked, heartbroken, pissed. And I often think I’m right and you’re wrong, which can be a big problem, obviously.

It’s a primary reason I don’t want to go back to work, BTW. The people. And me. Together.

Whenever Husband and I are scheduled to go to one of his work events, I always say the same thing before we leave…its become a little comedy routine between us now…”ok, I’ll go and I’ll do the corporate wife thing and I’ll smile and exchange pleasantries but I have my own problems, I’m not looking for new friends and I don’t need anymore clients or causes either.”

And when occasionally I find myself actually becoming part of a group? Well. If I find myself in a group where people are too much alike – even if they are perfectly fine people, which typically they are – I start to get pretty uncomfortable. My cult alarm goes off, especially in the past 9 years or so for reasons that are obvious if you know me well. Or if I find myself in a group where people are too different and the inevitable conflict breaks out, I ALWAYS make it worse by trying too hard to fix it or make it “right” which generally accomplishes the opposite and also blows up in my face.

As I get older, it turns out I also suck at multitasking and juggling too much life at once. Eh, actually, I think it’s possible I’ve always sucked at it. Life is just another code word for dealing with people, you know. And I suck at it. Did I say that already? Anyway, this multitasking deficit is viewed as a great weakness in our culture, I understand, and it significantly impacts my interpersonal relationships, but it does force me to try to set better boundaries for myself.  Basically I’ve learned to say no so people will leave me the fuck alone.

I realize all of this might make me seem like an asshole. Maybe that’s what I am. Or maybe I’m simply not wired to handle lots of people and goings-ons at the same time. Or in big doses. It’s just not my bag anymore. Actually, I don’t think it was ever my bag, I just tried to mold myself into someone I’m not. Maybe it’s actually a strength I finally recognize this and adjust my life accordingly, right? I used to mercilessly compare myself to other people and I tried to pretend I wasn’t like this and I even tried to “fix” it, but I don’t do that too much anymore because I get so freaking fed up and exhausted and even MORE bitchy. Sometimes I forget, but usually I’m shocked into remembering again pretty quickly.

I have my family, our home, our community, and a couple of close friends…that is my village. It’s what I can manage day to day. I’m trying to do it well. Mostly I stumble along and it’s all a mess, but I’m committed as all hell to trying to do it well enough. The rest is extracurricular. Not because I don’t care. Because I DO. DEEPLY.

A long time ago I said I wanted my epitaph to read, “A Woman of Moderation” because I was so beyond sick of the extremes of nearly killing myself to try to get it “right” AND at some point, throwing my hands up in the air, saying f*ck this because I couldn’t stand the pressure of too much life going on all at once and what if I get it all “wrong”? No gray area, no good enough. I desperately wanted sane, middle ground.

I think it’s still a worthy goal, moderation. I’ve made some progress because, as I said, I learned how to say “no”. I also learned how to ask for help. Well, I’m learning. And I learned that I need to listen more which can be challenging for me because of the whole thinking I’m “right” thing, but I swear I’m trying. I’m learning I need to find a way to fear less because the worst is rarely the worst. I need to try to accept for reasons I do not understand, sometimes the worst – which isn’t really the worst – needs to happen in order for the best to come. Actually, no, that is completely fucked up and I will NEVER understand it. I need to apologize for being an asshole when I’m being an asshole, which happens more than I like to admit. I’m learning I cannot make anyone do anything he or she is not ready to do. Well, I haven’t really learned that one yet because according to Husband, apparently I still think I’m God, but I’m trying. And I really do want to learn to balance my passion for advocacy, activism and social justice with the whole not-good-with-living-things thing. It’s still what I believe is my calling in some fashion but what remains a mystery to me is how exactly to put it into effective practice. I’m learning I need to try to roll more with the uncertainties of life. This last one is a biggie – I learned that I need a lot of time alone to replenish my energies AKA getting away from ALL THE PEOPLE. Even though I love them, including you.

Oh, and I’m learning to balance this blogging thing with the self-editing problem I have. Putting it out there and then taking my hands off the wheel a little bit. Publishing here is proof of that. 

I Miss Girl

Every time I pull into our driveway and see her car, I think “oh good, she’s home”…but no, she’s not.

Every time I walk past her room I do a double take and wonder why it’s so neat in there…and then I remember.

I miss her enthusiastic chatter, especially about topics she’s passionate about.

I miss hearing her laugh as she talks to her friends on the phone or on Skype. She has a great laugh.

I miss hearing her play her ukulele and sing while she hides in her closet. She thinks I can’t hear her but I can.

I miss trying to keep her calendar straight.

I miss waiting up for her when she’s out at night.

I miss the dirty dishes she leaves in the sink.

I miss walking into her room late at night and finding her crying over some beautiful thing she just watched or listened to or read.

I miss the way she leaves her clean, folded laundry a mess.

I miss shopping for the food she likes.

I miss her TELLING ME to stop telling her what to do.

I miss seeing her and Boy together.

I miss her tender heart, optimism, quiet strength and wisdom.

I miss her senior year of high school roller coaster, kind of.

I do not miss riding her ass about her school work or her college visits and apps or that blasted Edline.

And getting text messages like this makes it all SO MUCH easier:

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I’m happier and more excited for her with each passing day…and I miss her. We’re going up to Boston soon for parents weekend and we text and talk on the phone and Skype and she’ll be back, I know…and I miss her.

Seeing

You know when you believe you really know someone or something from every possible angle and then for the first time in a long time you look at that someone or something through the eyes or understanding of someone or something else and then BOOM! YOU SEE! And it adds another layer of knowing and maybe on some level you didn’t see as clearly before now because you didn’t want to know, even though somewhere inside yourself you probably always did know, but now you really do know…again?

I Suck

I broke my little boy’s heart tonight. Again….by strongly and negatively reacting to one of his BIG BOOM expressions of how he lives life. The thing is, he was just being himself.

 
After brushing his teeth, he took a flying leap onto my bed, screamed right up in my face as he rolled past me, arms and legs flailing. I wasn’t at all prepared for that because I was tired, drained from hours of being present. I was already starting to cocoon myself for the night, I was writing, and so I jumped out of my skin and yelled at him. He still wanted my attention and I just didn’t have anymore to give.

 

I went off about how much I dislike when he does that. I reminded him for the bazillionth time that I’m different than him in some ways, and he needs to learn to be more aware of that. I told him I know he likes LOUD! and CLOSE! and SURPRISE! and constant ACTION! but I don’t. Not always, anyway. It’s not my idea of fun when I’m tired and done for the day. His eyes welled up as I told him it doesn’t mean I don’t like HIM – because I DO, there’s SO MUCH to like and I’m happy we have so much fun together – its just that when it’s unexpected and I’m tired, that particular kind of ACTION! is a shock to my system, and I don’t like it at all. My fuse had been tripped and I just wouldn’t SHUT UP. Shocker.

 

He listened to all of that, stuffed the tears,  and then he said, “Wow, I guess you need a lot of space because I didn’t think I was that loud or that close and I wasn’t trying to surprise or scare you. I was just trying to have fun with you”, and then he walked away. He didn’t want anything else to do with me for the rest of the night. And I don’t blame him. I was relieved.

I suck.

I Remember

I remember the weather – brilliant blue, sunny sky and crisp, cool air.

I remember leaving my almost 5 year old daughter in her Kindergarten classroom.

I remember walking into work and being met by a client who told me that a plane had just crashed into one of the World Trade Center buildings.

I remember thinking what a freak accident that was as we watched in horror as another plane hit the second building.

I remember my boss arriving and ushering us into a scheduled meeting because as he said in his trademark cackle, “life goes on” – yes, I know that was one of many red flags which should have led me to run, not walk, far away from him.

I remember being called away from the meeting by my daughter’s school. They instructed me to pick her up because they were closing for the day. I remember finding out about the Pentagon and the other plane still up in the air as I rushed out the door. I remember being embarrassed that I didn’t instinctively run out to go get her as soon as the news broke, like so many other parents did.

I remember driving my daughter home and feeling like I was watching a movie and trying to shield her from what had happened and the fear that was setting in.

I remember waiting with my Mom for my husband and my Dad to make their way home from downtown DC, where they both worked at the time.

I remember a lot of hugging and a flood of thoughts and anxious words about what really matters.

I remember being relieved when it was time to put my daughter to bed that night.

I remember sitting in front of the TV all evening with my husband and my folks, in disbelief, speechless.

I remember the repeated video clips of the impact, the fire, the smoke, the falling, all of those people covered in dust.

In the days after the attack, I remember the school having us put together shelter-in-place kits for our children. I remember the little cotton baby blanket and stuffed black puppy dog I squeezed into the box along with the other mandatory stuff.

I remember making sure to keep our gas tanks full and stocking our cars and home with emergency supplies.

I remember having an increasingly difficult time watching the coverage on TV but being glued to The Washington Post.

I remember finding out that the mother of a girl I went to high school with had been on the plane that hit the Pentagon.

I remember stories of bravery and compassion and kindness and love so beautiful that sometimes, even for someone like me, they were louder than the horror of the attack.

I remember not being able to imagine being there, working there, living there. It was already too close.

The rest is a blur except that for a very long time there wasn’t a day that went by when I didn’t think about it….the actual attack, the people who lost their lives, the survivors, those who fought to save lives, the families, what it meant for us and for our country and for the world, what might happen next and what we would do when/if it did.

That’s all I’ve got except for
random notes:

I’ve read a couple of books about 9/11 that I highly recommend – Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer – a heartbreaking and hopeful novel narrated by the nine year old main character who loses his father in the attack and The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew — Three Women Search For Understanding (reading this one again right now).

Springsteen wrote The Rising album in response to 9/11 and it’s a powerful portrait of our world that changed overnight, of our new reality. The song “You’re Missing”, IMO, is the most stunningly gorgeous and painful song written about the aftermath of that day.

Just remembering….

Cha-cha-cha-changes

One day about a week or so before we took Girl up to Boston, she, Boy and I were at home together all afternoon. A rare occurrence since her graduation in early June, to be sure. If she wasn’t in Europe, Girl was pretty much out in the street (Oh-oh-oh-oh….yes, a shameless Springsteen reference, sorry) with her friends, trying to soak up every last drop of high school summertime fun she could. But on that afternoon, the three of us were just hanging out, talking, laughing, sharing all sorts of stuff with nothing pressing to do and nowhere we needed to go. And bonding over the new Disney Channel show, “When Girl Meets World”. Have you seen it? If not, you should. It’s great for boys and girls…and also Moms.

Because my mind those days was never far from the whole college packing and prep thing, I casually asked Girl at one point if she planned to take her beloved stuffed lamb, Emma, with her to college. She’d slept with that little lamb tangled up in her arms and hair and blankets since she was a baby. Girl thought about it briefly and then said she’d be leaving Emma at home because she didn’t want to worry about her getting lost or damaged. Quite a few years earlier we had sent Emma to the best stuffed animal doctor we could find on the internets to be re-stuffed and re-sewn and re-dressed because she’d been LOVED so much she was falling apart. Girl was so scared about her getting lost during that operation that we sent Emma back and forth to the doctor via Certified Mail AKA being transported in a locked box. Beloved Emma.

Anyway, a few moments later, Boy walked over to Girl from across the room and said, “Don’t worry, Sis, I will take care of Emma for you while you’re gone.” Leave it to Boy to get it all OUT in the open. Girl burst into tears and then Boy did too. They held each other as they sobbed for several minutes and I watched from my favorite overstuffed chair, my own tears threatening to fall. A few more minutes passed and then we all dried our eyes and went on with our afternoon together, having fun while understanding that things were getting ready to CHANGE in a big way.

That night at bedtime, true to form, Boy said, “Mom, things are never going to be the same again, are they?” And I told him no, not exactly, that it’s going to take some getting used to and also that there are some things that will never change, like the love he shares with his big sister or that this is her home and that she’ll always come back. We talked about it all for a good long while and then as he curled up to go to sleep he said, “I’m never leaving, Mom.” Yeah, I know, buddy.

Here’s Emma in Boy’s bed while Girl is off doing her thing:

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Emma’s doing just fine and she misses Girl in a happy way – although she might be wondering when the freaking sleepover is going to be over – just like the rest of us.