Friday, December 28, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
As I picked up a package of Pampers on Friday - and as we all know, the cost of diapers is one of the leading motivating factors for potty-training these days - a complete stranger handed me a dollar-fifty-off coupon for them.
I made a gift for someone that turned out just as I wanted it to.
It's a Wonderful Life. Every year.
There is snow here! Just enough to embody the song, not enough to be dangerous.
Two words. School. Vacation.
The feeling I get when Jake feeds a coin into the Salvation Army bucket.
Christmas movies on television every night, at least one card in the mail every day, neighbors bringing cookies and fudge, and every check-out person in every store or restaurant who dares to say Merry Christmas.
Michael W. Smith christmas CD - any of the three. (This guy gets Christmas like nobody's business.)
One husband, three sons, one drafty but loveable sort of house - magic, magic, magic.
I love this time of year.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Today I knelt in front of the high chair and looked at our Christmas tree as it appeared just beyond the top of Jake's head while he was eating. I liked the view. Because first I saw his big eyes and blond curls and then the Christmas lights that framed them.
When I was pregnant with my eldest I noticed my senses were heightened. I hadn't read that part of the book yet to know that was scientific. I only knew that the world looked and felt and smelled and sounded - richer, now that I knew I would be guiding a new little soul through it.
I like to take pictures of the boys on the little step that leads from our dining room to our glorified back porch. In each of the pictures I can vaguely see our house stretched out behind them. In these photos I no longer notice the nails that stick up too far out of the hardwood floor, or the finger smudges on what should be crisp gray paint or the part of the living room that has to be hidden by a rug because we've torn up the hearth and not replaced it with new flooring. The whole thing is completely transformed and glorified as it fades into simply the background for their childhood.
I like the perspective my children have given me on the world. It's not that I see it through their eyes. But I see it better now that they are in it. I think about the way it appears around them, and I like the view just beyond their heads.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Today's Tag from the Good Girls is - What do you like and dislike about yourself, so - after sorting through the numerous options . . .
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
We're on our second snow day around here, although - what with working from home and all - I don't really get those.
We went to McDonald's for lunch because I wanted to mark the day somehow as truly out of the ordinary. But it's not like we can't go to McDonald's for lunch on a Saturday, so I'm not sure I accomplished my goal.
I'm big on commemorating things. I wanted it sealed in their little minds that today was special. They should have been sitting at a desk somewhere doing math facts or getting in the lunch line in an order based on which meal they chose for the day (I learned this one only recently) or practicing for the Christmas play. But instead they're at home playing darts and Nintendo, wearing ridiculous clothing for winter months (Drew would still be in only his underwear if I hadn't intervened), watching Shrek, and consuming miniature popsicles between every meal. Being a grownup, as I have described in detail, rocks. But snow days are one of those gifts that make it really cool to be a kid. I could explain this to them, how my work day didn't change even the teensiest bit by the fact that our entire world (within a several-mile radius anyway) is covered by ice. But I hate to depress them. And besides, their blissful ignorance that having to be told to put clothes on top of the underwear is purely a childhood delight (I hope!) is part of the wonder of being a kid at all.
But in honor of the snow day I'll share a couple things I have learned lately from their school work: Did you know that "learningly" and "helpingly" are qualities to look for in a friend? And in answer to why a certain American legend was called Johnny Appleseed or The Tree Planter, my eldest answered matter-of-factly, "Because they didn't want to call him John Chapman." (At least he knew the last name, that's more than I could have sworn to). And finally - Drew thinks John is really cool. If you don't believe me, check his seat work, his art work, his vocabulary sentences, and his stories from home that he apparently shares with his teacher each day. That melts my mother heart so much - I almost wish I'd let him stay in his underwear.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I feel this movie should be required viewing for every 12-year-old girl. It's my favorite story - girl slowly realizes she's becoming a pill. Or that some part of her character has been ill-formed or that her "personality" isn't the charming, delightful, giving personality she had imagined it to be and instead she is completely self-absorbed which she finds is now slipping dangerously close to unkind. Or as the director of the movie says on the Extras (I love DVD extras), "You climb the ladder of success, only to realize you're on the wrong ladder."
Remember as a child when it feels like nothing changes ever? No one is aging - the grown-ups will always be grown-ups, the kids always kids. The good things will always be there just as they are. And the stupid, annoying things will never change either. Well, despite my sometimes dramatic hold on the here and now, I have actually come to love change. Despite my typical lost-ness through my teen years as I tried to discover who I was, I did, however, think that I was someone and that her character and personality were pretty set - once I found her. It was wonderful to discover in retrospect that even I can change. When I learn something unpleasant about myself, like my tendency to be late, my ridiculous over-generalizations of people when I am describing them, my less than excellent parenting - all those things - once I figure them out, I can do something about it and (sometimes years) later look back and say, "Look at that, I'm changing."
This movie perfectly captures that feeling. I've just discovered I'm not such a good person, but perhaps I can change that. It has a very cool scene with a closet and a wall of shoes. The Thriller scene is one of those great movie moments where you remember what there is to love in humanity. And it ends as happy as any movie has ever ended in all of movie-dom. And back to my original point, if 12-year-old girls would watch it and really trully get it, high school could be so much better for them. Because maybe then they won't start climbing the wrong ladder.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Recently, my 8-year-old told me he likes Mondays (and Wednesdays and Fridays, and he had a reason for it - something about how much faster they go because of the schedule those days, but my point is that first part. He likes Mondays.) Being the original-thinking grown-up that I am, the thought rushed to my head, "Yea, you're gonna grow out of that one." But I didn't say it. I barely escaped it - that almost unquenchable need to pass on terrible, redundant, cynical adultisms onto the clean, every-moment-is-a-discovery slate of my children's psyche. Here are some more things I don't ever want them to assume, but which deep down I either kind of sort of believe or I find myself tempted to spew as if I believe . . .
Times goes fast. They grow so quickly, the seasons are shorter than they used to be, you blink and it's gone. They're all kind of true - I even say them, but it's really a subtle way of admitting perhaps I took it all for granted, and I don't really want to do that.
Here's one: I hope they don't take as long as me to try varied foods. I eat foods now that I don't even like all that much, but I appreciate the variety. And I wish I'd gotten to that point sooner.
Being the grownup at Christmas is not as fun as being the child. Not true. It may be harder to believe the magic, but we appreciate it more once it's found.
Jobs are things we endure but don't really enjoy. It's our own fault if we aren't in a job we love or at least like or at least have found in it a reason for which to be grateful.
Activity is basically that necessary evil called "exercise" and we do it because we have gotten too fat. At this point, my children love going to the Y. It's a total game to them. They envy Michael and I because they aren't old enough to use the treadmills whereas if we would just shoot baskets with them more often and run around the living room when the mail comes or every time that really cool commercial comes on, than maybe we wouldn't need the treadmill.
Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and anything else that is cool and mysterious is always only a hoax. Hey, you never know.
Celebrities really are prettier people, it's not digital trickery. Growing up in the technical age, it won't take them as many behind-the-scenes featurettes to stop believing this as it has taken me, right? Who am I kidding? I haven't gotten it YET.
And finally, a few more things I will never say to them and I hope they never believe: You probably won't really be a professional football player when you grow up, it's not really that amazing that you can spell "ostrich", and it's not that socially acceptable to watch Nemo in a laundry basket.
If only I could keep all the bad away. .. .
Monday, November 26, 2007
I've let in the scrooge myself before. Sometimes it's hard to find meaning in my teeny tiny checkbook balance and big fat shopping list. And that feeling isn't helped along by thinking about it all sooner. But this time, I'm fighting it. "It's Jingle Bells, Michael. It's not a Christmas song, it's a winter song." And besides that . . .
I love Christmas music. I just imagine how much we needed Him then. The world was horrible and sad, and religion wasn't saving us. The best Christmas songs make me think about that. They make me think about the sadness all over our world today and the fact that religion still isn't saving us. Then they make me crazy with happiness that He came. And it's just never too soon to think about that. You may judge me for already having the Christmas music out. But I gotta say, I kind of judge you for dissing it. Just relax and soak it in. It disappears suddenly and completely and without apology on December 26, so we may as well enjoy it now.
I got all four boys to pose for Christmas card pictures tonight. They posed until I was happy . . . and then two goofy times after that for the blooper shots. Michael still won't be putting the music on quite this soon and the little ones don't really understand either that horrible, achy feeling of need nor the wonderful feeling of having it met. But for me, it's time, People. Christmas is on.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
One: I once sang back-up for Carmen. I'm on the left in the peach shirt, and I'm absolutely certain that is the only moment in which I was staring at him.
Two: If my house were burning I would desperately attempt to rescue our photos and all my old journals, including the current one I use for myself, and the three in which I write to each of my sons. I obsess about this sometimes. I think about buying a big fire-proof safe in which I will store them every time we leave the house for more than a few hours. I really love my pictures and journals.
Three: My one wish is to someday somehow be in a movie - on the set, at least one speaking part, and a free pass to the premiere. Just once! That's all I ask.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
"Your task as a mother, in conjunction with your husband, is to build a man out of the raw materials available in this delightful little boy . . . Never assume for a moment that you can ‘do your own thing’ without serious consequences for him . . . .this task must be your highest priority for a period of time. It will not always be required of you. Before you know it, that child at your feet will become a young man who will pack his bags and take his first halting steps into the adult world. Then it will be your turn. By all expectations, you should have decades of health and vigor left to invest in whatever God calls you to do. But for now, there is a higher calling. .... Raising children who have been loaned to us for a brief moment outranks every other responsibility."
It may not come as a big surprise to you: I like to write. Even when I don't feel like blogging - after tying up a couple of my thoughts all neatly onto the screen next to a picture, I feel happier. As if I had actually neatly tied my day. Because of so many moments like that, I began to wish writing could be my only job. So I started a blog, I wrote an article, I started shopping around my book - all the usual things to try and break into the bizz. One of these usuals - writing conferences. Mom and Felic and I went to one last weekend. I looked forward to it for weeks, so happy to leave town, escape my living room around which little boys swarm and yell, and be surrounded only by the writing muse and instruction about it. Then, unbelievably, the first night, the first meeting, we shared our building with . . . a boyscout troup. The speaker was very smart and educated and insipring, but all I could hear were little boys swarming and yelling. Mom thought perhaps they were earning their roller blading badge up and down the hallways. But I knew better. I firmly believed they were marching up and down the hallways quoting this paragraph.
Fortunately, I don't actually take myself that seriously any more. I totally believe that paragraph, but there is no way in heck God was scolding me through a boy scout troup.
On the other hand, when another speaker talked about our calling and how we need to focus and "follow our star", I knew for absolute certainty that writing is only a teeny tiny part of that for me. And for right now at least, boys are a huge part of it. I felt proud that I get that, and more importantly, that I love it.
Felicity took Macy with her. This is a picture I took of her as she and Felic sat across from me at a restaurant one evening. She was sucking her thumb, we think, for the first time. That moment sitting in a booth with my sister, my mom and my niece - it was totally and comlpetely satisfying for me. I really love those moments - the really small ones that go by so indescribably we normally wouldn't even call them a moment. Those are the moments when we really find out who we are and if our priorities make sense. Not so much just that they happen, but whether or not they make us happy.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
"If I weren't going to be a writer, I'd go to New York and pursue the stage. Are you shocked?" Very.
I've been thinking lately of something Mom said recently. She said that she hasn't truly lost herself in a movie since Little Women, the Susan Sarandon version, (which incidentally also has the guy from Newsies). It made me wonder if our disbelief has gotten more difficult to suspend. Perhaps we find it harder these days to forget about the serial divorces and court appearances and, well, contract negotiations. There's a new show on one of our four television channels - TMZ, the television version. If you don't know, that stands for Thirty Mile Zone, and it's basically celebrity stalkers (photographers, whatever) trying to catch our favorite stars in stupid clothes, temper tantrums, and otherwise compromising situations, in an approximately thirty-mile radius around Hollywood. I wish they had asked me. Don't they know I don't want Hollywood demystified?
What I really want though, is to believe that Little Women was made by people who really believed it when they wrote the dialogue about how "We are all hopelessly flawed." I want to believe that the writers of Spiderman 3 had my little boys in mind when they stuffed it full of the "Make the right choices" moral. I want to believe that everyone who ever puts pen to paper, that they are trying to be the best of themselves and that they hope the same for us. Don't be concerned about me. It's not that I don't know otherwise. I watch the extras on my DVDs. And I actually pick up at least one of the magazines you probably scoff at in the checkout aisle. I know there is plenty of ugliness out there. I'm just saying, it's so nice when you stumble upon a work of art that could almost change your mind.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
This version of Amazing Grace is the song I have playing on my MySpace page, and I recently wrote down the thought I always have when it plays. . .I love this song, Amazing Grace. When I listen to it and watch the pictures of my boys fade in and out on the slide show I feel such a combination of pure joy and sheer panic - because I think about the journey of my own faith, the moutains and valleys and doubts and dreams, that all eventually led me to here. I am now totally and completely convinced. So much so, that when I hear songs like this, my emotional response is intense - it comes with all that life and discovery behind it. And at that point I hope, I pray, I break out in a cold sweat at the mere thought, that my children will make it through to that point of faith as well. That one day Amazing Grace will evoke absolute peace in them. I think I have all these dreams and wishes, but in that moment I know for sure that if I could only have one thing in this life, it would be that: That my children would be with me in eternity. That I would have given God every chance to win them, and that He did. If God's real, if He is who I have realized Him to be - and I only say if because of the tiny but huge leap of faith that comes after all the teaching and decisions and process of life that taught me to believe - then I pray that He will show Himself to them as He has shown Himself to me. That is my ultimate dream.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Monday, October 29, 2007
Lately I've been fantasizing about reading at Hastings though. It's the pseudo-Barnes and Noble for our small town, or up-scale Wal-Mart entertainment center, depending on how you look at it. I've heard Christians in my city say they won't step foot in this store because of the images that sometimes jump out at you - that's entertainment for ya. But I love it. Especially the book section. There are little reading chairs a la "You've Got Mail" ("You can sit and read for hours and no one will bother you . . ."). And through my work day, which is at home, which means that the little things that need done tend to haunt me and the little toddler that needs cared for can sometimes frustrate my work ethic, and often I fantasize about those little chairs in Hastings. I always think I will go there in the evenings so that I can read in the book section in the hopes that all those wonderful pages will somehow infuse me with literary gumption so that I can not only more thoroughly enjoy the read, but also be inspired and motivated to write well. But alas, I haven't gone even once yet. I generally stay in my corner instead because just on the other side of it are the husband and the sons. And even though, these are the very things that distract me most from both a good read and a good "write", they are just so terribly difficult to leave . . .
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Okay, Felicity loaned me this book because it's smart and because the idea of it is so lovely - a memoir in books. Gotta love that. And I did. So many things to thank this author for. First, that she left me free to never actually read Lolita. Based on her description of it, I'm very grateful for that. On the other hand, she did make me want to pick up some books by Henry James. And she informed me that Sheherezade (of the 1000 tales) was a woman. I had no idea.
Most importantly, she made me care about Iran. Having written a memoir myself, I expected she would make me feel embarrassed about that. That I would feel shallow and terribly distant from the real problems of the world. But that wasn't the case, and I was grateful for that too. Instead, I saw my own problems staring back at me - just dressed in a long black cape and involuntary head scarf. I saw my own tendency to blame my decision-making, my unhappiness, or my loss of identity on something that happened to me rather than on my response to it. And I saw the familiar struggle of being in a situation you want to change, but not knowing how long you can stick it out and fight for the change, while failing. It was beautifully told. And very sad, although not in the way I expected. It is one of those wonderful stories that remind us we are all connected, which as Kate quoted in my comments section once, is why most of us read in the first place - to know we're not alone.
It's kind of my greatest dream that someone - anyone - anywhere in the world would read my own book one day and realize that. Maybe someday . . .
Thursday, October 18, 2007
John Michael prefers to call it his birthday, and because I'm a mother, I let him. I even give him the presents and the cake and the candles. I don't need them anyway. The thrill of the anniversary is better when it's kept inside - like a secret. Like the feeling I had when I was pregnant that first time. I knew there was something wonderful in there, something almost magic. It was a miracle, and I was part of it.
Then - four days after it was supposed to - the magic really happened. Ten fingers, ten toes - and I got to take home all of them. This was the coolest door prize ever. It took a day or so to feel really truly connected to it. But by the next morning, I was calling it him. I missed him when he was out of the room with the nurses. And as my friends Den and Andrea so poetically described it once, when I left the hospital with him, I kept turning around, looking for the parade. It seemed there should have been one. Hadn't the whole world stopped when he cried that first time?
I will never forget what I wrote in those first few days at home with those fingers and toes, that smooth baby skin, those tiny blue clothes . . .
if I never do anything else in my life, I will have been great because of him.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
First, you have to know what it means to be cool. I'm not ugly. I don't dress poorly - most of the time. I usually know things about pop culture and sometimes even real culture (although not so much), and I definitely have a sense of humor. To understand what I mean by cool, I'll have to share with you the moment in my life in which I realized it myself.
I was on a bus going on some church trip or another. My friend Mark sat in front of me. My brother was doing his Forrest Gump impression in the parking lot - not the voice - the run, to which my sisters and I would stand and yell, "Run, Forrest, run!" in Jenny's southern twang from the movie. Mark chuckled along and then turned to me and said with a sad, condescending sort of fondness, "You Nickersons. There's not a cool one in the bunch is there?"
In that moment, I totally got what cool is. And I'm so not. I'm never aloof. If I try the aloof thing, it's obvious to everyone that I'm either very upset about something and introverting in order to protect myself or else I'm - you know - trying out the aloof thing. I'm a ham, especially when I'm nervous, which as we all know is a death combination to any attempt at coolness. I get upset easy, cry at commercials, freak out over the little things, worry what everyone thinks about me, all the time, worry about whether or not I'm thinking rightly about everyone else. It's really exhausting to be uncool. But I trudge on. Analyzing and re-analyzing life every thirty minutes or so, stumbling upon the secret to it every 15, announcing my age, my financial situation, my dreams, my emotions, and whether or not I have to pee, to everyone and anyone, anywhere, all the time, who will listen. It's so uncool.
My husband on the other hand, is totally cool. The real thing. Actual - I-was-homecoming-king, scored a touchdown on the starting kick-off, acted bored at school but got really decent grades anyway, rarely-get-upset-by-the -little-things, never start a joke I can't finish - cool. I'm not sure if he didn't really know me when he chose me, or if I had other qualities compensating for the lack of cool. I suppose it's possible that these cool people actually like having a little awkward exuberance around them now and then. Or maybe - I mean, this is just a theory here - maybe none of us are really all that cool.
This is a picture of my middle son, Drew. He's not cool either, and I so love that. Once you discover you're uncool, you gotta just embrace it. If you've never run like Forrest Gump, yelled like Jenny, posed on the lap of a statue of Ronald McDonald, started a joke you seriously could not finish but kept talking anyway in the hopes that you would stumble upon it eventually - well then, you'll just have to take my word for it.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
And you're so right. October is the Thursdaysly of months. Weren't you lucky to be born in it? And today, your birthday, is both a Thursday and October. I hope October in Wisconsin was much more Octobery than October in Missouri today. I tried to picture you studying away at philosophy in that campus by the lake. I put those long boats with varsity rowers on the lake in my picture and I added color to the leaves. I hope that's a little close to the truth and that you raised your head from the books at least now and then to breathe it in.
Today was just a regular day for me. I've been out of town visiting Charity, which was just heaven really. I love to get out of my routine now and then and remember how much bigger the world is than my little desk on my little square of office carpet on the little back porch room of my little white house. A song kept going over and over in my head that Charity had been singing, Feel the rain on your skin / No one else can feel it for you / Only you can let it in / No one else, no one else / Can speak the words on your lips / Drench yourself in words unspoken / Live your life with arms wide open / Today is where your book begins / The rest is still unwritten. It made me want to write and write and write until I really did have a book written. But mostly I just love the sentiment. It made me appreciate every monotonous detail of my life, because they're mine. And because if I realize that the book begins today - and every day again - then the possibilities are endless and beautiful.
This blog is my outlet most of the time right now, I suppose, for writing. And I certainly was thinking writeable, philosophical sort of thoughts. But I didn't want to say them to the world today. And every time I began to write here, all I could think was, happy birthday to Den. I don't usually remember friend's birthdays very well. Mostly because I am amazingly self-absorbed. But yours was seared into my brain some crisp fall years and years ago when Michael and I lived in a tiny apartment and kept a burgundy coffee mug just for our friend Den. You're one of those really rich friendships in my life, and on Thursdays in October when I am just inspired to appreciate life and live it more on purpose, you're one of those treasures that comes to mind. Remember when you gave me Peter Pan? If I drank coffee, I would sit in a chair tonight and drink it while reading Peter Pan. And then I would wish hapy things for you, my very good friend.
Maybe tomorrow I'll start the book.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
No, it's the sheer delight. It's forgetting there is anything bad or ugly in the world at all because for those three minutes (might be more like a minute-thirty, because let's face it, they're new at this, and some of them are old) - but anyway, while they dance, they sweep me right up with them into another world. It's a Fred Astaire musical, it's all the best Disney moments rolled into one - it's the color part in the Wizard of Oz. I seriously welled a little bit more than once already this season. It really is beautiful, I think. So much to worry over and stress about in this life. So much to take too seriously - like ourselves. But then somebody gets on a dance floor in a beautiful dress, smiles like it doesn't hurt, and for the length of one whole song, tells us otherwise. Life is beautiful.
I don't pretend to be difficult to convince. But still. I dare you to watch it without smiling at least once (and not just because the pants are too tight). And if you really give in to their efforts to woo you, I swear you'll get off the couch when it's over and forget for a moment that you aren't one of them. I rolled my eyes at their audacity to have it on three night this week. But from the very first opening number, I could see how hard they were going to try and convince me they could dance my troubles away. And after night two, they've totally won. I believe them.
Just try it - just this once, Take a deep breath and say it. "I. Like. To. Move it." Don't you feel better now?
Friday, September 21, 2007
But I'm not that type of mom. My own mother kept me home part of the morning once in second grade simply because I couldn't stop crying. I had no physical ailment at all. And I don't remember now what was wrong. But she hung onto me until I had control of myself and then took me to school late. My children have her to thank for the fact that I'm more than willing to give them a break when they feel they need one. So John came home yesterday. And he stayed home today. (Although if I'd realized the miracle Tylenol Cough and Cold could produce, he'd probably be doing math problems at his desk as we speak).
His poor, sad desperation yesterday to prove to me that he was sick (all afternoon he kept reminding me how glad he was that I brought him home because his head really did hurt or he really couldn't move very well, etc.) reminded me how glad I am to be a grownup. Our entire childhood and high school years, adults try and tell us we should enjoy the carefree years because it's so much worse out here - presumably in the real world. I completely disagree. I like my freedom. I like having less to prove. And don't tell me we're not free because of our bosses or our children or our mortgage or our basic obligations to society as a whole. We are free.
We can carry our own pack of gum, any flavor we want, all the time and take a piece without asking. We can choose dessert even if we didn't clean our plate, and we rarely pass up any snack no matter what the time of day, how hungry we are not, or how fattening it is - if we want it. We go to sleep when we want. We read what we want, watch what we want, get in the car and go places when we want. We make choices every single day to mess up, speak slang, sound hateful, be lazy, or play Solitaire - just for 5 minutes! - while at work, just this once, because we can and we trust ourselves to repent, move on, and make the nobler choice the next time.
Getting that high school diploma really was one of the happiest bits of liberty ever handed to us, and it's just plain rude to tell our children otherwise. I suppose it's partly the kid in me that knows this, but: Being a grownup, rocks.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I used to feel badly about this, as if every material possesion I loved was one more thing between me and God. I don't feel that way now. When I touch or see or enjoy something beautiful, something tied to some great memory in my life, or something that makes me laugh, I feel anything but far from Him. See my beautiful Swedish candle holders? They hang in my window, two in this one, one in another. I love them because my friend thought of me all the way in another country, bought me these gifts, and carried them back across the ocean for me. I read once that when trying to reduce clutter, you must throw out anything that is not either useful, beautiful, or which holds sentimental value. I haven't achieved any such purging yet, but I try and think this way. These candle holders satisfy all the rules.
My grandmother recently moved out of her home and will be living with her children throughout the different seasons of each year. And during the move we all went into her home and sorted through her things. And we took what we wanted. She kept a few items for herself, but the rest of the house was up to us. As I carefully chose a gorgeous black elephant from her elephant collection and touched the bindings of each of her books, I couldn't imagine it - Outliving my love for things. I assume it will happen of course. I think surely we kind of let go slowly as we move closer to the next life.
I've found that my happiness is sort of tied to things, but not in a way that concerns me, or I think, would concern God. I noticed in college that when I was especially at peace, I then had a list of wants - always little things - a book, that CD I heard recently, a new journal and pen. It was as though the truly important things, love and friendship and faith, were secure and my soul was free to have a wish list. When the important things were rocky, I wanted nothing but for them to be fixed. I was too gloomy to wish.
So now, whenever I think to myself, "Oh wouldn't it by nice to have . . . ", I pause and smile at the sheer realization that I must be in a peaceful sort of place. And it holds true for the things I already have as well. If I can quiet myself enough to enjoy the shape of that beautiful black elephant and to watch the sun streak through the Swedish candles - it's very good. I will be able to let go of them when the time comes. But for now, enjoying them is a sign for me - that all is well with my soul.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Now - today's is all punchline. One of my favorite lines in television history - and easily one of the most quotable in every day conversation - is from Dharma & Greg. She was trying to become friends with her mother-in law who was off to play tennis, and Dharma said, "Oh I love tennis! Well, not really to play . . . or to watch. I'm just really glad it's out there!" I quite agree - I like it in the background; it has nice noises. And here are some other things that fit so nicely into the Dharma category of my life:
I love dogs! Well not really to play with . . . or to touch. I'm just really glad they're out there.
I love New York City. I guess I'll never live in it, and I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever visit. But I'm really glad it's out there.
Paris, London, George Clooney's villa in Italy, and the little country roads in England where sheep cross.. . . See above.
I love paychecks. Not really to think about . . . or to pursue. I'm just really glad they're out there.
Rock music. Not really to play . . . or to listen to. I'm just really Glad It's Out There.
Soccer, Alaska, Jeopardy, seafood, coffee, the evening news, fly fishing, and people who actually like to cook - - - G I O T.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Thursday, September 6, 2007
One Fine Day is like Pride and Prejudice condensed into one 14-hour period in New York. They are put out with each other from the first moment, "If you'll excuse me, I have a day." But they are attracted to each other of COURSE. And then they need each other and then they tease each other and then they thank each other and then he forgets about the fish and she spills the spaghetti sauce (and jumps back so adorably in her little lounge outfit - I attempt to imitate this scene almost weekly), and in the end the Wizard of Oz song plays in the background.
And, seriously, it's worth it just for the bag. We love the bag, my Mom and sisters and I. Whenever I manage to have exactly what my child needs for any given moment, I call it a Michelle Pfeiffer moment. I mean, she creates superhero costumes out of the items in her purse! And when George Clooney says, "Where do you get a bag like that?" I mean - it's just brilliant movie direction. I don't actually ever have those moments. I don't really even try to. I'm lucky to have diapers in tow. But I still so love that bag.
This movie is exactly what the title implies. I can't technically relate to any given part of it - I don't work in a skyscraper in New York, I'm not a single mom, I've never met George Clooney, and I do NOT have the bag. But it still inspires me to expect serendipity, which is both the word that means "a happy accident" and the lovely little ice cream place-slash-novelty shop featured in the movie.
If none of that moves you then surely, surely, you can appreciate the part where she thinks he has forgotten her name (which is Melanie), and he turns around, walks back to her, leans in , and says "I know your name, Mel." Which I think is the most beautiful little moment describing what it feels like when someone chooses you.
Who wouldn't love this movie? If you don't love it, I think it's because of your Captain Hook complex. No such thing? Yes there is. And you have it.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I do a lot of mundane activities several million times a day and wonder sometimes why I don't ever pick one of those ducks up and just throw it - gently and humanely - out of the row. You know, "If I have to put this Blue's Clue's puzzle together one more time . . . !" (And, yes, this picture is of geese. But it's soothing to me, and the duck one was . . . animated.)
In Gilead, the writer says that when you write, "You feel you are with someone." I never thought of it that way. I thought I wrote to feel alone. Or at least, to thoroughly explore ideas with only myself listening, because myself is so agreeable and encouraging toward my ideas. Even this blog, which has proven to have a reader here and there, (hi, Mom!), I usually begin it with one sentence in mind. I think to myself, "I love Thursdays." And then I think, If I keep writing about Thursdays will I eventually hit on the ultimate meaning of life and perhaps solve all the world's problems and my own mood all at once?
I was alone for a couple of hours yesterday. And I just love being alone sometimes. The quiet is so restorative. But in those moments I always wonder if I only enjoy being alone then, because I don't usually have to be. And then I worry about getting old and my children moving away and my outliving my husband, as wives tend to do, and I wonder if I will hate being alone in those days. How typical of me to add the bitter to the sweet.
Anyway, even though I thought I wrote to be alone, I think I was wrong. I write here because I'm trying to matter. I write in a journal for my children because I hope they care one day. I write books because I want someone to read them. And even my journal - I'm not just writing to my future self. I think deep down I hope one of my children's children's children - you know.
I haven't read very far into Gilead yet. But it's a lovely book. Just a bunch of wonderful thoughts written lyrically and woven into a story. And I've been thinking that if I could write just one book in a lifetime that was so worth reading, I'd feel proud. "You feel you are with someone." I think maybe that is true. At least, when I write, I think I'm hoping someone would want to join me there, eventually.
Friday, August 31, 2007
And to top it off, a lovely gentleman at the park today commented on Jake's "large, hazel eyes." I knew they wouldn't stay blue.
And finally, of course, there's the alive thing - in that, I'm glad I am. So I got through the day not just tolerably but still loving my porch and quite sure that the bills will get paid and absolutely certain that Jake's eyes are beautiful no matter what color you call them. And . . . at least it's not a Wednesday.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
But I was thinking especially about that youngest one, gleaming at us angelically through black and white. He wanders around me while I work through the day - spilling things, ripping things up, pulling my hands off the keyboard while I try to type, leaving fall risks every few feet from here to the living room, putting things in the VCR, wanting held when I'm busy, ignoring me when I remember he's the best thing on the planet - you know how it goes. Well, I was kissing the life out of his poor little cheek today just before I put him down for his nap, and I was very aware that perhaps he had me all giddy in that moment because he was about to go down for a nap. Anne Shirley in Anne of the Island once discovered a letter from her mother that said of Anne: I love her best when she's asleep, and better still when she's awake.
That completely ridiculous use of superlatives throws the reader off from the first sentence which proves my point. There is something about the fact that they eventually go to sleep. Evening comes, bath time finally ends, albeit with me soaking wet and exhausted, and then comes that wonderful happy snuggle with him the cleanest he will ever be from that moment until this time the next night, and he's giggly and busy and wonderful, but then he goes to bed.
I don't know what humans would do without sleep. I usually thank God profusely for that scientific phenomenon every time I finally sink into bed at night. But now that I have children I get it even more. I love them best then. Or maybe right before then - kind of like Thursday.
And of course - I mean, look at those faces - of course - it's better still when they're awake.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
That's how I feel when I sing in the car now. It reminds me that sometimes in life I haven't felt so happy or so free, and what a wonderful thing that in this moment, I do. This picture is from a good movie soundtrack. It has nice singable songs in it. Dare You to Move by Switchfoot is one of the best sing-in-the-car songs . And there are nice pop/love songs on it and of course the teary, moving, kind of haunting Only Hope, also by Switchfoot but sung on the CD both by them and by Mandy Moore (in character as Jamie Sullivan, Moore explains to us on the DVD commentary for the movie). Anyway, I've felt like singing in the car lately. And I didn't take it for granted. Just like the fact that I wanted, ate, and did not regurgitate all my meals today, all day long. It's a beautiful thing.
Monday, August 27, 2007
The thing is, I used to really fight it. Every time I found something I would think, "Darn it, I found another one. Now they'll never quit asking me where stuff is." So again and again, "How should I know . . . . etc, etc., and then, Oh here it is." Aargh. Well, I've surrendered to it now. I'm quite proud of it. Now when I find something I just brag, "It's like they call to me! I am the world's best finder! I had no idea what you were even talking about, and I found it! I'm so good at this, really, someone should pay me for it. I know, I know, what would you do without me? And thank you, I'm here all week."