It’s Been A While

Why do I write?

Or more to the point, why don’t I write?

What does writing do for me, to me, about me that stops me from putting pen to page – or fingers to keyboard or anything to anything?

I made someone very angry with a post once, and so I stopped posting.  I’d failed to remind my readers that this blog is full of truths and half-truths and dreams and my opinions about how things are or were or might have been.  I’d failed to consider my readership.  I’d assumed no one was watching.

So I stopped writing.

So I stopped learning.

So here’s the reminder, the caveat, the warning:  this may all just be a bunch of hogwash.  You can ask me whether it’s true, and I might say yes or no, but the fact of the matter is that I haven’t a clue as to what’s real and what’s not, and frankly, neither do you.  We only know what we perceived and then actually noticed and then interpreted and then believed.

I have harbored horrible, awful fears about someone I love dearly.  I mostly worry because I don’t see that person as much as I’d like and I don’t know what’s happening in the in-between times.  I wrote about them at a gathering of reluctant writers on Saturday.  I wrote and wrote and when I was asked to share, I couldn’t read it out loud for weeping.  Someone else read it and I was terrified at my own words.   I’d kept the fears under the surface, not daring to examine them.  Hearing them spoken out loud into the room gave me strength to confront them.  Sunday I did so.  I took them out and turned them over and scratched their surfaces and sniffed them and even licked them a little to see if they were salty, and they weren’t.  They were just dust.

Writing about them helped them go away.

So while it can be frightening to go inside my own head to see what’s lurking about, it’s also enlightening.  I understand why I haven’t done it, and I understand better why I need to.

Seven Weeks and Counting

I have Bridal Tourette’s.

This is a syndrome many have experienced, but no one has identified until today.. My fiancê named it this morning, after the third episode took place last night.

It looks like this: it’s been a day filled with address-collecting, finger food-pricing, and emails to and from my Tribe about who’s sleeping where and whether a chocolate fountain is a good idea or not.  My sweetheart and I are contentedly drifting off to sleep. Unbeknownst to me, some part of my mind is still racing with wedding planning. A crucial piece of information suddenly leaps from that mind-part out of my mouth.

“We have the church sanctuary reserved!”

“Fred Smith!”

And my favorite, “Costco pinwheels!”

This would be kind of amusing, if it were not for the disruption of my Beloved’s sleep cycle. See, he’s usually also just about asleep when this happens, and he’s a light sleeper, and these episodes are not only sudden, but loud.

“We have the church sanctuary reserved!”

“Fred Smith!”

“Costco pinwheels!”

It doesn’t sit well with him, but he realizes it’s out of my control, and he’s a very kind and patient man with a sense of humor, so he laughs, and I laugh, and then I start to giggle hysterically. It can go on for quite a while.

Five-Minute Friday: Connected

This Friday I am not writing from teatime.  We’ve been busy at tea; today was a Christmas tea, with quite a feast and quite a crowd.  It was a good day to reflect on and think about being connected.

I am connected to this community.  Connected to these friends, to my church, to my workplace, to my business team, to the stores where I shop, to the orange clay that sometimes hides beneath the grass and sometimes sticks to my shoes and comes up the stairs into my condo.

Connected to my family, each branch and sub-category and group and definition of it.

Connected to my children with invisible ropes that are tested but always, always strong.

Connected to my sweetheart in ways I cannot articulate except in trite phrases that don’t stand up to the reality of him knowing what I’m thinking about three seconds before I do.

Connected to Spirit, and just only in recent years getting that and losing it and getting it again and thanking God for always extending the offer of connection.

Following the Mailman

I was lucky to have been what’s now called by hipsters a “free-range kid”: raised in the parenting style of the ’60s, which has also been labeled  benign neglect.  Basically, we were fed and clothed and taught basic manners and academic skills for as long as our parents could stand it, and allowed to play the rest of the time.  We lived in the suburbs and the neighborhood was ours for the rambling, even at four and five years of age.  Other mothers stood on their front porches and called to their children to come in for dinner; my mother was much too dignified for that sort of thing, but somehow we just knew when it was time to go home … most of the time.

My best friend Karen – who acquired that position by being the only other child my age on our street – had allergies.  I never saw any evidence of this, but her mother would shriek at the thought of the tamest of excursions and she would happily submit to her mother’s restrictions.  Karen couldn’t go out for picnics in the woods behind our house with my sister and me because of the pine pollen; she couldn’t go rolling down the hill across the street because of the grass; most of the time, she wanted to stay indoors at her house and color.  I felt some contempt for her; even then I knew a child was not supposed to be so spiritless.  She was, however, my only choice for a same-age playmate, and she did have an enviable collection of Barbie furniture and accessories.   If my sister wasn’t available, spending time with Karen was better than playing by myself.

She did come up with one good idea for an adventure, a game we called, “Follow the Mailman.”   The rules were simple: we followed our pleasant and very tolerant mailman as he walked his route until Karen got tired of it, and then we went home.  Our short legs could keep up with his long ones only because we stayed on the street as he walked up each driveway and front porch to place letters and small packages into a box mounted next to the front door.  Karen usually got tired of the game around the end of our street.

One day when she was indoors coloring, no doubt within the lines, I decided to play Follow the Mailman alone.  Our mailman had white hair and looked rather jaunty in his blue uniform.  I liked walking along behind him.  I thought he had the greatest job in the world and that I’d like to deliver mail in a blue uniform when I grew up.  I didn’t get one bit tired of the game.

Suddenly, he turned around and spoke to me.  “Do you know your way home?”

It seemed like an odd question, but I looked around and saw a pink house with a turquoise door I’d never seen before.  I had no idea where I was.  “No,” I replied.

He sighed.  “Well, I guess I’d better give you a ride, then.”  He jerked his head towards the car in front of the pink house.  Was that his car?  Did he live in that house?

Wow, I thought.  Not only did I follow the mailman, I followed him all the way home.  I did the whole route.  I can’t wait to tell Karen about this.  He opened the car door for me and I hopped in.

What followed has been told to me, but I have no memory of any of it.  The mailman delivered me safely home and apparently my mother gave me quite a talking-to and perhaps a spanking.  A few days later, he approached her while she was outside weeding the front walkway.  He told her that I hadn’t followed him again, but had shared with him the lesson she’d tried to teach me.  I’d looked up into his cheerful face and smiled coyly.  “My mommy says some men aren’t nice – but you are,” I’d said.

That might have been the source of my mother’s first gray hair.

Christmas M&Ms

My son was born at 6:15 in the morning on Thanksgiving Day – the beginning of the holiday frenzy for some.  My parents came up to the hospital right away.  They brought a present:  a candy dispenser made of a Mason jar screwed upside-down onto a wooden stand.  It was filled with red and green M&Ms.  Mama put it on the table at the foot of the bed.

Dad slid the little wooden jigger out and caught a handful of candy and started munching.  I was too enchanted with the little guy to be very interested beyond mild amusement and the niceties of a thank-you, but the part of my brain that was addicted to chocolate wondered why they put the darned thing out of my reach. After they left, when my sweet bundle had drifted off in my arms and I could not get up, I became aware that it was a tad inconvenient.

Eventually, a nurse peeked in.  “How are we doing?” she asked, glancing at the festive new decoration in the room.  She slid out a few M&Ms for herself.

“Fine,” I replied.  “Sleepy.”  I didn’t ask for things from doctors and nurses back then.  I figured they were in charge.

She took my sleeping angel and tucked him into the clear acrylic bassinette next to my bed.  “Better get some rest now,” she said.  “You won’t get much when you leave here.”

“When will that be?  When will the doctor come in to release us?”  I was itchy to get home to my little girl and my own bed.

“Not until tomorrow,” she replied.  “You need to be here for a full 24 hours.”  I didn’t want to stay the night.  What was the point in that?  I didn’t know I could decline the hospital’s services, so I didn’t argue.  She left and I drifted off.

A short while later, another nurse peeked in.  “We doing okay?” she inquired.  Fine, fine, I indicated with a nod.  She helped herself to some M&Ms.  Just then, my son woke up, so she quickly got him out and handed him to me so I could nurse him.  She left quietly and after his meal, we both dozed off.

Nurse #1 came in and advised me I wasn’t allowed to sleep with the baby in my bed.  She took him from my arms, swaddled him tightly and put him back in the bassinette.  She grabbed a few more M&Ms on her way out of the room.

The day developed a pattern: a little bit of separate sleeping, a cry of hunger-loneliness-whatever, I would get him out and cuddle him and we’d fall asleep again, then a nurse would come in and tell me that wasn’t allowed, and get some M&Ms on her way out of the room. While I thought it was silly for them to not let me sleep with my baby, he seemed to like being swaddled just fine and I did sleep more soundly when I wasn’t holding him, so their attentions weren’t unwelcome.

It dawned on me that Mama had placed that jar as she did so it could be seen from the hallway.

I think I had more staff visitors that day than anyone else on the hall.

My mama is a very smart woman.

El Camino

I was driving to an appointment at Neesa’s today and I saw out of the corner of my eye coming out of a parking lot on the left side of the road an abomination.

It was an El Camino.

I’m sorry if you own an El Camino.  I’m not sorry that I just called your car an abomination, because it is.  I am truly sorry THAT YOU OWN AN EL CAMINO.  What were you thinking?  Did you really believe that hideous excuse for a fake truck/car would be practical?  Guess you found out otherwise, huh?  Now you’re just stuck driving around a godawful ugly-ass car that only seats two, three people max and really doesn’t fit any more in the back than you could have stuck in the trunk of a normal, decent car, especially one in which the back of the back seat can flip forward to make more room.  Next time I hope you’ll think things through a little better.

That being said, the driver of the Godawful El Camino, which incidentally could seriously have used a paint job – I mean the El Camino, not the driver – pulled out about five cars ahead of me and then drove at a steady clip, approximately 20 miles an hour in a 45 mile an hour zone.

I was not terribly pleased.

I did have an appointment to make, after all.  Never mind that I am often late to appointments with Neesa and when I’m not, she is, and in fact, today when I reached her house, she was on the phone, but that was fine because I went to her treatment room and sat on the carpet and examined the bruise on my foot that had resulted from a nearly-full bottle of vinegar falling on it in the shower this morning.  Thanks to an immediate dose of sublingual arnica and another dose a couple of hours later, the bruise was almost gone.  Arnica rocks.  But that is not what this story is about.

So I’m driving along and I’m thinking that the driver of the El Camino had made not one but at least two bad choices in his life, when the driver behind me laid on his horn.  Well, that was irritating.  I looked up in my rear view mirror and he was glaring at me, so I kind of glared back, even though I knew he probably couldn’t see me doing it.

And then I thought about how useless it was to be annoyed right then.  I decided it would be more fun to pretend I was in a parade.  I turned slowly to my left and to my right, while of course keeping my eyes on the road, because I didn’t want to die playing this little game, and I alternated waving my left and right hands to the imaginary people lining the road watching the parade go by.

Elbow, elbow, wrist-wrist-wrist.  Elbow, elbow, wrist-wrist-wrist.

I was having a grand time, and I glanced again in my rearview mirror to see the man behind me DOING THE SAME THING, which was nothing short of awesome.  I felt a surge of pride at having sent out fun energy to another person I didn’t even know and helping him not be mad even at an El Camino driver.

After a little while, the El Camino turned onto a road that veered off to the right, and slowed down even more.  The driver might have just gotten off the main road to let all of the cars behind him go by, but I’m not sure.  When I passed him, he looked kind of sheepish.  I wondered if drivers in front of me were also doing the elbow, elbow, wrist-wrist-wrist and if he realized we were having a parade just because of him.  Probably not.

I suppose someone who gives other people a reason to have a parade deserves a little grace, even if he does drive an El Camino.  There’s probably a lesson in that.

Five-Minute Friday:

Writing from tea again – we started today’s party with a reading of Go the F*ck to Sleep.  I am so grateful for this group of friends … now the word is COLOR.

Which is so cool, because I just went to Lisette’s house for the first time today and it is FULL of color.  She told the story of getting it painted from vanilla into this amazing combo of TWELVE colors by a paint crew who got the job done in two days’ time.  The parlor is vivid blue; the staircase is magenta on one wall and gold on the others … it’s astonishing and beautiful.  The tour made me of course think about the house we hope to buy soon soon soonity soon … boy, I hope the man can stand the colors I’ll be slapping up on the wall.   Heh heh heh. 

Lisette is color … wait.  If she were a color (besides, like, her regular skin color) she would maybe be fuschia.  Heidi would be … ummm … rainbow.  Rhonda would be blue, but maybe I’m just saying that because I know it’s her favorite.  Doug would be green.  I would be orange.  Michelle would be purple.  Deborah would be – is – pink.  Kaydi, red.  Robin, brown.  Linda … she’s hard.  She’s a painter, for heaven’s sake.  She can be whatever color she wants.