Friday, May 31, 2013

Daybook Entry (for the year, most likely!)

Outside my window ... The leaves on the trees are droopy with humidity, and the sky is a sheet of blue-grey, with patches of light blue trying to peek through.

I am thinking ... about how busy the week ahead of us will be, with packing up and moving and getting our current house ready for the new renters.

I am thankful ... for my husband. Twice in the past week I’ve had to drive the distance that he drives every day to get to work—the distance he has driven every day for five years. All because I thought I wanted to live in this remote small town where I used to have a job. It is a brutal drive, and I didn't even have to deal with end-of-workday traffic.

In the kitchen … the dry goods are waiting to be packed into boxes for Sunday’s move. The refrigerator and freezer are emptier than usual, as we’ve been trying to consume as much of the perishable stuff as we can. The bananas are starting to look spotty … maybe my first “meal” in my new oven will be banana bread …

I am wearing … a pink and blue tie-dye made for me by my friend Joelle back in 1997. It’s the second-oldest t-shirt I own, and among the most well-loved.

I am creating … to-do lists for the move. And I am looking forward to a week from now, when I’ll be able to resume my regularly scheduled programming of working on stories and poetry for four hours each day.

I am going to … wake the family in just a little while so we can get breakfast, get dressed, and get started.

I am wondering ... if I should go get another cup of coffee, or wait for Hubster to wake up and get it for me. (Yes, I’m spoiled.)

I am hoping ... today will be productive. We have a lot of work to do.

I am looking forward to ... spending the day with Hubster while Scout spends the day with her friend Jen.

I am learning ... that if I applied my perfectionist's eye to housekeeping, I would be one of those people who cleaned all the time, to the point that I had no life outside of cleaning.

Around the house … there are boxes, boxes everywhere!

I am pondering ... the fact that I have no regrets about leaving this house to live somewhere else. I have made some good friends here and will miss them, and I hate the thought that Scout will need to make new friends, but I have no twinges of sadness whatsoever about leaving this house. Why did we ever buy it in the first place?

I am reading ... Dante’s Inferno. We read parts of it in AP English back in the late 1980s, and I've read bits and pieces here and there over the years, but I’ve never sat and read The Divine Comedy, start to finish, on my own. I’m surprised (though I shouldn't be) at how much I’m enjoying it so far.

One of my favorite things ... is seeing my daughter’s new-found love for The Sound of Music (speaking of favorite things). She calls it “the Maria show” and wants to listen to the CD every time we’re in the car. I’m thrilled, as "Do-Re-Mi" is much preferable to “The Wheels on the Bus”!

A favorite quote for today: Oh, I don’t know. I’m not big on quotes for the day. So I guess I’ll just quote one of my favorite quotable people, Ralph Waldo Emerson: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Sometimes I have to differentiate between what is a foolish consistency, and what is a wise one. I tend to opt for no consistency at all, ever, and that's not good either.

A few plans for the rest of the week include … MOVING!

A picture thought for this week:

Ready to hit the trail!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Morning After

A few years ago, an e-friend of mine's husband had a type of heart attack called the "widow-maker." Thanks to closely available medical care, he survived, but it sure threw both of them for a loop ... and in many ways they're still wildly spinning.

The idea of the "widow-maker" haunts me as well. As do the ideas of aneurysms, strokes, car accidents, freak murders, terrorist bombs, and other means of sudden and unexpected death. (Of course, I am a pessimist, so I think the haunting comes with the territory.) 

But I'm not a fearful person, even though I do have this awareness. Instead, the awareness is a sort of compass that gently points me to true north. For example, if Scout is driving me crazy (as she sometimes occasionally often does, now that she's a willful three-year-old), I'll take a deep breath and say, "At least she's here. She's alive, her blood is flowing inside her skin and her body is warm and active." And the compass moves a little from "annoyed" to "appreciative."

When I recently started writing poetry again, I thought about my friend's experience. What would it be like to suddenly lose your husband? Even worse, what would it be like if you, like my friend, had young children facing that abyss of the future with you? My first thought was, "I couldn't imagine." But then I decided to try and write a poem about it. It turned into a not-awful poem, so I submitted it to an online literary journal ... and it got published.

So here it is, "Morning After." I appreciate Rose & Thorn's editors for choosing my little poem to be part of their final edition.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Five Years

Five years have passed. Five long, crazy years have passed since we left Maggie Valley and moved to the little town of Franklin, North Carolina, so I could be closer to the job I loved so much. Five years have passed since Hubster and I made perhaps the biggest mistakes of our marriage: leaving Maggie Valley before selling our house there, and buying a house in Franklin. Heck, hindsight tells us now that leaving Maggie Valley and moving to Franklin was a mistake in itself, all housing SNAFUs aside.

Except.

Who knows if Scout would have been born if we'd stayed in Maggie Valley? Maybe she would have, maybe she wouldn't. I have no way of knowing.

I've also made some very good friends here in Franklin. I will miss them, but Facebook makes everyone a click away, so I'm not as sad as I might have been in the pre-Facebook days.

Five years. These have been a difficult five years. They have aged me; for the first time in my life, I look my age, sometimes older. They've thinned me down. I don't know how or why, but I often look downright frail, with hollow cheeks and such. I've been actively working to gain weight while maintaining a decent weight-training regimen. Kind of a challenge.

For four of those five years, I was a technical writer. For two of them, I was an adjunct English instructor. And for three of them, I've been a mom. That motherhood thing has been harder than I ever imagined, but (and I know this sounds cliche) I wouldn't trade it for anything. Baby Scout, who is now almost three and a half, is the best thing that ever happened to me and Hubster, and in so many ways.

Five years. In five years I have managed to find a medication cocktail that works for me. My moods no longer swoop wildly, and I can actually depend on myself to function from day to day.

Five years. Five hard-as-hell, life-changing years.

I'm glad we're leaving this place. I'm ready to head down a new path.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Time Finally Begins to Race

I won't lie. Ever since Scout was born, I've felt that time has crawled by. Someone would say, "The time goes by so fast, doesn't it!" and I would respond, "Not really. I feel like she should be at least 10 by now." Even when she was a delightful two-year-old who completely skipped the "Terrible Twos," I felt that time was crawling.

No more. And I don't think it has anything to do with Scout's age. I think it has everything to do with my miracle drug. I try to think about what life was like before it, and I can barely even take myself there. Because here is such a better place. I'm not high or loopy or some other version of myself. I'm just normal. Sad that I have to take a miracle drug to be normal, but oh well. I didn't want to succumb to yet another pill, but I was tired and I caved. But now I'm glad I did. I think Hubster and Scout and my parents and the rest of my family are even more thankful.

Anyway, about time a-flyin'. The other day, I watched Scout as she sang a song she made up and got all misty-eyed, thinking, "I just want to freeze time right now and keep her at this age, never to grow up." Folks, I have never thought that. On the contrary, I've thought, "She's a cute baby and everything, but can't she be 10 already?" It's because I was so tired and felt so hopeless. But now that I'm better, it seems that time can't go slowly enough. And that's good.

The last few days of my life have been some of my happiest of recent years. On Thursday, I met with a writer who critiqued one of my stories and we discussed how I could improve on it. He looked past the writing (which was pretty good, if I may be so bold) and called it a "non-story." For some reason, I was happy to hear that. I'd suspected it needed more "plot," but I was at a loss of how to give it more. It's frustrating to know that you have all these writing skills but can't set up a simple plot. (Part of it is that I've read too many postmodern/literary/plotless short stories.)

So it's strange that I liked hearing a somewhat negative critique of that aspect of my story. It was  affirming (in a weird way) to be told there was what the big shortcoming was and discuss ways to rectify it. (It was affirming because I agreed with him, at least once the smarting of the criticism wore off!)

Also on Thursday, Scout's new sleeping bag came in the mail. She was so excited. We set up the tent in the basement and "camped out" for two nights. And then, on Saturday night, we went to Camp Daniel Boone and camped outside. She was so excited. She loves to camp outside. Even though she got too cold in the night and had to crawl in my 20-degree mummy bag with me, she still had a great time.

The next morning, Hubster had to shuttle some hikers to the Davidson River trailhead of the Art Loeb Trail. Scout and I were on our own. It was the most beautiful, clear day, and the mountains circling the camp were absolutely breathtaking. Scout and I ran back and forth across the camp's parade grounds, chasing each other, twirling until we fell down, and just having fun.

On the way home, she said she wanted to go to the bookstore. The bookstore in our town is closed on Sundays, so we stopped in Waynesville at Blue Ridge Books. After a snack in their cafe, we went to their children's corner, and Scout sat on my lap while I read her book after book.

I got all misty-eyed a couple of times that day, getting that old wish that I could freeze time.

What a great day we had. Last night, she said, "Mommy, the best part of my day was playing with you all day."

I told her I thought playing with her all day was kind of fun, too. ;-)