Sunday, September 30, 2012

Seasons


Caught somewhere between winter, spring, summer and fall lies the Season of Hope.  It follows the Season of Change; that awful time of unpredictability.  One January I found myself ensnared in both.  It started with a job lay off and was followed up with hitting the age of 40.  My husband, Davis, was excited for me.  He is sometimes delusional. 

“You’ve always wanted to be a writer.  Here’s your chance. “

“What about money, bills, mortgage?” I asked.

“Don’t worry about that stuff.  Take some time for yourself.”

See?  Delusional.

With no excuse left for not pursuing my childhood dream, I did the second best thing.  Grabbing some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, I hit the couch and succumbed to the dark side.  It’s a place I’ve been before and am comfortable in.  They have sweat pants and chocolate there.  Elastic waistbands and ice cream; these are a few of my favorite things. 

Eventually, bored with my own self-involvement and my family’s patience running thin, there was nothing left to do but come back from that dark place.  Stashing the pints of Ben and Jerry’s back in the freezer, I re-entered the world.

It’s never easy.  Self-doubt is one of my favorite companions.  Finding a therapist named Camille and paying her good money to say nice things about me helped.  I returned to the workforce in a new career.  Then I returned to college in search of a new degree.  I found a homeless shelter that needed some help and discovered that if I used coupons combined with store sales I could buy food for free and donate that to the shelter.  Stepping outside myself, I became swept up in the Season of Hope.  And, that is my favorite season. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Under Wraps

It's official.  Summer is here.  I welcome the heat and humidity with open arms and a new bathing suit. Also, a new cover up so that no human being ever has to see me in a bathing suit. 

To be perfectly honest this is the first time in nine years that I have bought a bathing suit.  Last time being for a family trip to Florida.  Back then I was a "short wearer". Which means that I still considered my legs from mid-thigh down to be presentable for viewing and wore shorts out in public and over my swim suit.  A lot has changed since way back when.

I've gained weight and acquired spider veins. In an effort to lose weight and manage the pain of arthritis I joined a fitness center. A Dairy Queen sharing the same parking lot of the gym should've tipped me off.  Bad idea.  I went on a regular basis and rode the recumbent bike a lot.  The arthritis pain got better.  I celebrated with sundaes from Dairy Queen.  Those chocolate covered waffle bowls get me every time.  They also cause me to lie to my Dr when she asks if I am following a low-fat diet along with the exercising.  

So, this summer, for whatever reason I decided to embrace my out of shape body and just buy a bathing suit already.  Why can't department stores use candle light in their dressing rooms?  It's so much more flattering than fluorescent.  After much swallowing down of denial - yes that is back fat and no you can't squish it down so no one will notice - I found a really cute suit.  A pair of shorts and tank top.  Even better; a cover up that was on sale for half off. 

Off to the water park my family goes.  And, the cover up accidentally gets left at home.  At the store a cover up might have seemed necessary, but at the park it no longer matters.  Sure, some of that is due to the fact that no one I know will see me at Splashing Safari.   But, mostly it's because that as me, Davis, Milo and my nephew race each other down a giant slide it doesn't matter what I look like.  Only that as my son thinks about this day in upcoming years he will remember that I was right there next to him.  Laughing.  And, trying to convince him that it's not how fast you go but how far you travel.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life Altering Events

Finally, finally, the storm clouds have broken up and dispersed from the plateau of my brain allowing some sunbeams to shine through. 

The past six weeks have been challenging as I embark on a new career path.  That old saying, "can't teach an old dog new tricks" is proving true in my case.  I am learning to do something that I've never done before and after being laid off in January I'm just thankful to be working.  But, it is mentally exhausting.  And stressful.  And, I am a natural born hand-wringer.  Not such a good combo.  Or, it is a perfect combo for sitting around on the couch and eating Ben and Jerry's Karmel Sutra.  Which is mostly what I've been doing in my down time.  The only way I have found to shut the brain off is junk food and old movies on cable.

Some movies stand up to the test of time and "Air Force One" is one that does for me.  My husband Davis and I saw it back in the summer of 1997 when it was a new release and we were newlyweds.  Now, as a pair of oldyweds with a kid we watched the rerun.  Everything is different when one becomes a mom.  Even watching movies.  This go-round I spent a lot of time saying, "How can that poor, first lady go through this as a mom?  How can a mom comfort her child in this situation?"  My husband spent an equal amount of time saying, "You do know this isn't a documentary, right?" 

One thing that is real and has been vastly altered by my mommy status is how I respond to natural disasters.  Back in 1999, during the early morning hours, a deadly and destructive tornado hit Cincinnati, where Davis and I were living in a 3rd floor apartment.  We were sleeping when my sister called to let me know a tornado had crossed over into Cincinnati on the west side of town very near us.  We were tired.  We were stupid.  We went back to sleep.  The next morning when the local news broadcast the tale of homes destroyed and four people dead, it barely registered.  I was late for work since we had lost power and my alarm didn't go off.  At work people were talking about the storms and the general consensus among us lower, working class was that at least the tornado hit the more affluent neighborhood.  Those people had money, which to us translated into lots of insurance.  No big deal. A misconception I'm ashamed to admit to.

Fast forward to the present day.  Tornadoes have ripped through the south and Midwest.  My son's teacher has lost a family member in Alabama's April tornado.  At school the kids have been talking about tornadoes a lot.  Fearfully.  No longer do I ignore the call to seek safety.  One night, late at night, the sirens sound.  More tornadoes.  Davis called from his work to warn me.  I grab our son Milo, blankets, flashlight, both our dogs and head for the basement.  Then I hear it.  That sound like a freight train.  It was loud and over our house.  Milo was shaking.  I tucked my boy up under my chin and promised him that everything would be all right.  Silently, ferociously I prayed, "Please, God, don't make a liar out of me to my son."  The tornado, small in size, passed us by that night and touched down two miles up the road.  The place it landed was an empty truck stop.  A couple semi-trucks were tossed around like toys, but that was all. 

Then Joplin, Missouri happened.  As images of loss and heartbreak flash across the screen all I can think of is how many Joplin parents hugged their children tight that night and promised them everything will be all right.  And, how those children now know those are just words moms and dads sometime say when they don't know what else to do or say.  My heart hurts for the people who have had their lives altered.  I could never imagine what it must be like to tell my child that his home is gone.  That we cannot keep his dogs in a shelter; that he will have to be without his two best buddies when he needs their love and affection the most. 

Hopefully, the people who have been touched by the tornadoes these past two months know that they are not alone.  People willing to step up and help out a stranger in need is the one force of nature that can calm a mom's and her child's fears in the night.

http://www.redcross.org/

*Update - My husband let me know that later the weatherman announced that it was straightline winds that did the damage at the truck stop and the tornado touched down several miles farther than first thought.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Paying It Forward




The other day, at the exact moment I was in need of a little pick me up, I opened my email and found this lovely award waiting for me from Madison of
http://www.all-around-autism.blogspot.com/First, I'd like to thank her for the award.  Thank you, I really appreciate it!  I'd also like to encourage everyone to check out her blog.  April is National Autism Awareness Month.

So, the rules are I must tell everyone 7 things about me and then pay the award forward to other bloggers.  Here goes:

Deadliest Catch is my favorite T.V. show.

I'm left-handed.

Walking and riding a bike are my two favorite ways to exercise.

Fall is my favorite season.

I cried after dropping my son off at school for his 1st day of kidnegarten.

My husband and I met at Frisch's when I was a waitress and he was a cook.

I wish I knew how to play the piano.

And the blogs I'm awarding The Versatile Blogger Award to:

http://artsynina.blogspot.com/     Really like the style of her writing and her recipes

http://karenshealthylifestyle.blogspot.com/  Such a nice lady with a great blog

http://www.rachelpicturethis.com/ Tasty BBQ Pulled Pork recipe just posted. Really nice lady

http://www.ussparenting.com/ A husband and wife that always have great parenting advice

http://www.neebeep.com/ Funny essays about life and family

http://www.improvingonthesilence.com/  Beautiful photographs and I love her tagline

http://www.weeman.ca/  Blogging for the better good.  Join in with your voice.

http://www.mydishwasherspossessed.blogspot.com/  Funny, sweet, touching.

http://dafeenah-hiddentreasure.blogspot.com/2011/04/r-oller-coaster.html Creative and interesting











Monday, April 18, 2011

Fairy Tale, Schmairy Tale

Love may very well be a many splendored thing, but it's also a fickle, ever changing, growing, disappearing and reappearing thing. 

It's easy to believe in a happily ever after when you're standing in that bridal shop, trying on white organza confections, and friends are sighing "you'll make such a beautiful bride."  Believing in the happy forever after is a little more difficult when the seal between the toilet and the floor decides to break 30 minutes after Home Depot has closed for the night and you and your spouse are standing ankle deep in toilet water.  Life has handed my husband Dave and I our fair share of these moments.  

Recently, we celebrated our anniversary.  We talked my sister into keeping our boy Milo overnight, got all gussied up and headed out to try a new restaurant.  As we fed ourselves steak, salad and chocolate cake we did more than celebrate the passing of the years.  We celebrated the moments and memories that make up those years.  This anniversary found us huddled close together at the table, oblivious to our surroundings, content to make each other laugh.  There have been other dinners where we've sat and ate, with more than just the width of a table separating us. 

Just 14 years old, our marriage has already lasted three times longer than the average union.  We've been happy, miserable, blessed, resentful, grateful and every other emotion known to exist. I think any long-term marriage is about luck, laughter and forgiveness as much as it is about love.  So, we celebrate. 

We celebrate: a first apartment, new homes, broken toilets, building a swing set out back, puppies no one but us wanted, sleepless nights with a teething baby, standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon, planting trees and watching them grow, Disney Land, loved ones we had to say good-bye to, Christmas stockings hanging off the mantle, the cat biting our toes, stacks of medical bills, watching our son start his first day of school, cheering on his basketball team, eating pizza on an empty beach, calls when the car broke down, sled riding on snowy days, playing board games, flooded backyards, super-duper hugs, just plain old surviving it all and hoping we get some more just like it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

If Only

Wouldn't it be nice if....

     children came with an instruction manual

     money really did grow on trees

     life came with a do-over button

     chocolate chip cookies caused weight loss

     the house cleaned itself

     that alarm didn't go off so early in the morning

     wishes could always come true

    

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Smurf Made Me Do It

There was a time during my misspent youth that The Smurfs and a friend I'll call Crissy combined to form a perfect storm of sin and fear within my Catholic school-girl heart. 

The afternoon in question was unfolding like every other one that came before it. Crissy and I were up in her room playing with her Barbie and Ken dolls, making them take endless trips up and down in the elevator of their Dream House or cruise around the area rug in the pink convertible that Ken must not have had a hand in picking out.  Sometimes, the two went on vacation to the other side of the bedroom where the horse was stabled. 

For whatever reason we soon grew bored of Barbie and Ken and decided to walk over to the local McAlpin's store where the new Smurf toys were on display. And, right next to them stood the dragon lady.  Actually, just a cashier who knew what a couple of kids up to no good looked like.  I'm not sure we knew ahead of time that we were up to no good.  At least, I know I didn't.  But, at some point we decided that we needed a Smurf action figure to serve as a pool boy for Barbie's upcoming pool party.  Only neither one of us had any money.  What to do, what to do? 

Crissy distracted dragon lady and I crammed a little Smurf into the pocket of my shorts.  Then we ran all the way back to Barbie and Ken.  After fishing the contraband out of my pocket we placed it on Crissy's dresser and sat there staring at it, as if the thing were some kind of Genie bottle and something was about to pop out of it.  Only the more I looked at it, the worse I began to feel.  It was stolen.  I had broken one of the Top Ten.  Now, I had spent enough hours kneeling next to my Mom on Sundays and coloring pictures of Jesus during CCD classes that I knew exactly what was coming next.  Soon the devil would arrive to drag me down to the really hot place with no swimming pools for cooling off.  And, the more I feared the fiery pit the angrier I grew that it was a stupid Smurf stolen and not Gargamel or his cat Azrael.  Those were my favorites after all.  I couldn't stand those Smurfs. And what did that say about me, that every Saturday I rooted for the evil wizard and his cat?  Satan was going to make me his apprentice for sure.  Slowly I turned my head to see the exact same expression of fear and dread on my friend's face.

"I feel really bad, Angii.  We shouldn't steal.  It's sooo wrong." Crissy said, echoing my thoughts.

"I know.  What are we going to do?"

"We're going to burn in H-E-double matchsticks.", she replied matter-of-factly.

If the crime was undone then it would be like it never happened we decided.  And, then we could assure ourselves a spot up in the clouds with all those lambs that were forever sitting around in Jesus's lap.  Of course, the dragon lady was a concern.  We hadn't been caught sneaking out the toy, but what if we were caught sneaking it back in?  She would never believe we were returning stolen property.   Enter a brilliant plan. 

I grabbed the offensive Smurf and skipped home to find my little brother, Joe.  He was tiny and cute; all big, blue eyes, freckles. Surely, the dragon lady wouldn't call security if he was found with stolen goods.  Easily tricked into thinking we were spending some quality time together I walked him up to the shopping center.  Once outside the store doubt crept in.  Joe didn't know why we were here and what if the dragon lady did call security?  What if my parents found out it was all my fault?  I slapped the toy into his small hand and dragged him into the store, coming to stop just a few feet inside the door.

"Joey, go throw that Smurf toy over there on that stand."

"Why?  There's no toys over here.  Why do I have to get rid of it?"

"Just do it."  I urged. 

Obediently, he walked over to an outdoor furniture setting and placed the Smurf on a cushion.  Then, I grabbed his hand and fled the store for the second time that day.  During the walk home he was silent for a bit before turning those trusting eyes on me.

"Angii, did we just steal?"

"No.  Of course not.  We returned a toy, that's all."

"But, that's not how Mommy does it.  Did you steal it?  I don't wanna steal.  I don't wanna get in trouble."

Yet another moral dilemma.  Faced with breaking another one of the Top Tens, I questioned what to do.  Should I lie or tell the truth?  Did I just correct one sin to commit another?  

"No, I didn't steal it, Joe.  I called the store and they told me to return it like that.  It's ok.  Don't worry about it.  And, don't tell Mom."

Mom never did find out about my short lived criminal career.  That Smurf is the only thing that I've ever taken.  Too much guilt to repeat another theft of any kind.  Now, if only my lesson in lying didn't involve an Innocent's death.  But, that's a story for another day.