Sunday, November 30, 2008
I love the opening song "Tradition"--well, I think it is anyway. It's right up there in the very beginning of the show either way. It is beautiful how everyone sings of the traditions of their days, their religion, their celebrations, their lives. They find comfort and safety in their traditions and how it guides them in their everyday lives. They know what is expected of them, know how to do things, how to make decisions, who to marry, etc. and they find peace in that. It is beautifully reflected in the photography and song of the movie version, a fact in which the stage play sorely misses by means of logistics.
The whole premise of the story is what happens when traditions are stirred up or changed. The players question their god, who is testing their faith by changing things around them, which prohibits some of their traditions to continue. One by one, their traditions are shaken and the whole show revolves on such change and acceptance of such by the characters--mainly Topol. He talks a lot to God in this show, as I think most religious people do.
I've been thinking a lot about traditions lately because this time of year is just loaded with them. There are folks that are knee-deep in traditions and won't budge in the direction of change. Come hell or high water, the holidays are to be performed in a well-established pattern and so-help-you if you aren't at Grandma's on Christmas Eve. The holidays from Thanksgiving on are set on auto-pilot guided by a well-meaning "We've always done it this way". Ick. That is my holiday nightmare. I'll have the extra-large helping of stress, thank you.
I guess my cynacism for such strict pattern, which others refer to as "tradition", came at a very early age. Yes, we had the traditional routines, which we all looked forward to year after year. Yes, I loved the pattern when I was young--I knew what to anticipate, and yes, it lead to the excitement. But then, the unexpected happened, my father died when I was only 7 years old.
Nobody mentions the unexpected when they talk of tradition. Nobody accounts for that when setting the routine into action. Everyone sort of went on, doing the usual traditions, except there was this giant hole where my dad used to be. And everyone kind of continued, semi-ignoring, semi-acknowledging his absence in all of the festivities. There was quiet weeping and eye-wiping, trying not to bum the kids out for the holiday, but experiencing their own heart-wrenching grief at a very difficult time. I'm not sure if going through the traditions helped or made it worse. Here we were, doing the whole putting baby Jesus in his crib and the elephant in the room was that my dad was gone. On behalf of my mom, I'm not sure I would have done it any differently, maybe that was the easiest way to do things, like we always did. We didn't have to think much to get through those first few holidays without him.
But that early occurence in my life has taught me that change is okay. You survive if you don't do everything the exact way you did it last year. Or the year before. Like Topol, I look to the sky and say " Why?" and "What should we do?", and the answer comes to me, somehow. Okay, so maybe we don't travel to the out-of-town relatives this year because the snow is crazy-like in coming down. It's okay if we don't join in on the usual family get-together here or there, but see those same people on another day during the holidays. Is that any worse? Does it lessen the effect of being with people you love if you aren't there at a designated date and time? I don't think so. But there are those that do.
As we get older and people change or pass, I think it is okay to change with the times. I think it is okay that we meet at Aunt LuLu's this year even though Aunt Polly always had Christmas Eve. Really. Maybe Aunt Polly is secretly relieved that she doesn't have to do all that cooking and cleaning for 100 relatives. Maybe not putting every single light on the front of the house relieves just a little stress for Dad. Maybe not dragging the little ones to both sides of the family on one day is okay. Do you think the toddlers might enjoy the holiday just a little more if they aren't grabbed, bundled up, presents in tow, to be presented to the other side of the family for more lights, food, noise and presents? Do we really all have to pick out the Christmas tree at the lot or is okay that maybe my teenage son just needs an hour to himself at the house to re-group?
I approach the season with trepidation--let's all talk about what we want to do and what we don't want to do this year. Who wants to go pick out a tree? Who wants to make cookies? Who doesn't? Do we want to go to the early mass this year? In all of the craziness and jam-packed calendar take one event, one day at a time and discuss who's in, who's out. I'm all about being flexible to avoid the stress. I understand tradition, but I also understand inflexibility and demands of some to make their holiday the way they want it with no regard to anyone else.
I believe at the end of the movie, when Topol is asked about changing traditions, he screams "We'll make new ones!". I'm with him. It's okay. Lighten up. Be flexible. Make this holiday a low-stress one. If you can't or don't want to stick with the tradition--make new ones. And change them as time deems fit. And most of all.......enjoy.
Hooray! It's over! Yea! No more lame posts or boring stories! Well--maybe not that part, but at least I won't be committed to posting every single day EVER again! Really. I promise.
This was a challenge that I took on on my own accord, nobody made me do it. It was a personal thing to try and stimulate the mind, grow accustomed to writing daily, and to actually think of some complete thought once a day for the month of November. There was actually a whole website committed to the concept of posting on your blog every day in the month of November, and I think most of us struggled to find the time to write and to write something coherant or at least of some interest to someone--even if it was ladybugs under logs in hibernation in another part of the world.
The hardest part of daily writing for me was content. Oh yeah, and finding the time to write. With the craziness of being a working mom and just trying to keep up with laundry and the needs of the family, I found that the miniscule moments I found to myself weren't exactly conducive to writing or at least writing well. I really would have rathered do something else on such harried days--like eating, sleeping, catching a TV show or reading, or even doing nothing. It was frustrating to be posting at 6:00 am before running off to work and there were days I leaned too heavily on photos and caffeine.
Ahh, but it is done and I am so much more the better for it. Maybe. Maybe not. I think of Diane who is attempting to write a novel in a month's time--another crazy internet challenge. Geesh, I couldn't do that one, this one was tough enough. I admire her for trying though, and I hope she can accomplish her challenge, if not for us readers, but for herself as a talented writer. I wish her luck now, because I am taking a day or two off from posting.
Thank you reader and commentators, you kept me going through a very long month.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Every year, about the first weekend in December, Joe and I fight about The Lights. I want them, and lots of them, on the front of the house. Joe does not. Not a holiday goes by that he doesn't dream up some reason why we don't need them, and at the least, less of them on the place. He gets all huffy and dramatic, siting some ridiculous reason why we shouldn't do this or that with the lights this year. I think he spends the last 11 months dreaming up a new plan for next Christmas season. So if you spot Joe at the pool on a warm sunny July afternoon suddenly smile, you know it is because he has found The Reason we don't need to do the lights this year. He is a grumpy old man, that Joe.
Anyway--it is an all weekend adventure for Joe. He has to anticipate, watching the weather for days ahead of time in order to find just the right day for light application. Don't want it to be too cold, or rainy, or snowy, too sunny, or too warm, or too humid, or too anything. Then we have to preface the whole event by making a loud announcement on how he is going to do it differently this year. "Not as many lights on the bushes" or "I'm not doing the peak this year"--or anything similar to which I just give him The Glare and then he shuts up and does what we do every year.
It is an all day affair--getting the lights out of the attic, testing them for illumination in the garage, convincing Col to help him, getting all bundled up in just the right light-putting-up-clothes, getting the ladder out all dramatically, finding a trabillion extension cords, making a trip to the hardware store for 15 miles worth of electrical tape, and finally.............putting the damned things up. I'm convinced that if Em and I do it, it would only take us an hour, maybe two, to finish the job with a whole lot less flair and drama. But I think that is the plan--wear her down year after year until she finally does it herself. Works on nearly everything else--why not this too? Yeah, well--I'm not budging.
He is already on the couch, watching the weather channel, drinking coffee. Tom Skilling is probably working with Joe on this one, warning that it is not a good day for light application, but I don't care. "You'd better get out there" I'm yelling. "Crabby Old Man across the street had his son-in-law do it yesterday, so we're behind schedule." The Crazy Neighbor next door "beat" us to the punch--she snuck hers up on Thanksgiving. She has a "competition" in her mind each year, I think. Okay, she got the win this year, big deal.
Once they are done, we all sit back and admire the beauty. The house looks so cute with it's little icicle lights hanging all gleaming in the winter snow. I love the look of snow-topped bushes with mult-colored lights lighting up here and there--they remind me of cupcakes with sprinkles on top. It is lovely to look at and even more lovely when the whole neighborhood convinces their dads to decorate their houses too--it's like Candy Cane Lane.
All too soon, though, the holidays are over and just as quickly as I want them up, I want them down. And that's when the next tradition/fight begins...............
Friday, November 28, 2008
I make an initial stop one day after work, I walk in and am immediately out of place. It's almost like a secret silent buzzer goes off in the back when some straight looking parent walks in, completely dazzled by the scene of guitars lining the walls straight up to the ceiling. There are drum sets and keyboards everywhere. There are amplifiers for miles waiting for some hippie-teen to grab a guitar, hook up and jam. A whole back area is a climate-controlled room for acoustic guitars, banjos, and ukeleles. I'm totally overwhelmed by all of this and don't even see half of the other merchandise they offer, like microphones, sheet music, and who-knows-what-else musicians need or want. It is all very overstimulating and foreign. As the secret buzzer in the back goes off, I am met by a greeter who offers to help. Gees, how did they know?
So, my new pally, David, offers to help me look at guitars. We head towards the climate-controlled room and it silently screams to me "Welcome to where your money is headed". I'm thinking this ain't gonna be cheap when I have to pay for the humidifier and wood-lined room that holds these babies. Sure enough, David thinks I'm gonna buy a $599 guitar for my 13 year old--NOT. I have to make this very clear, very early on. "Hey, how about the $99 package that was back out there" I'm pointing to the not-so-climate-controlled store just outside our little door. "Naw. Those are junk" he says. Yeah, so what's wrong with junk to start out on? It didn't work, David wasn't budging out of the warm humid air.
David grabs a mid-priced model ($299) and starts playing classical guitar. It was lovely. He gentle hands picked and played wonderfully. Oh, I had images of Em playing like this, winning some MTV awards like Avril Levigne, and making a fortune or perhaps just some lovely music. It was incredible, but I had to make sense of all of this. I politely gushed over his playing, told him how nice the guitar sounded (it did) and tried to get David to focus on a "starter" guitar. He knew then I wasn't budging and headed, defeated, to the $129 models. Oh yeah, there is quite the sound difference between the two price levels--but really, do you think Em will notice? Or care? I figured it would give her someplace to aim for--you know, on her own dollar.
I found some choices that were nice sounding and affordable, but I figured it was something Em would have to pick out on her own in the end. I thanked my new friend, David, politely and told him I'd have to come back. I think they work on commission, as he didn't look too happy to see me go. Or maybe it was just a slow day at the Guitar Center and he needed some company.
A few days later, Em, Joe and I head back to the Guitar Center to make some final decisions. Yes, she really wants a guitar. Yes, she understands that this is expensive and big to keep in her room. Yes, she is going to learn how to play it and not just dust it once a week. No, she doesn't want to play gigs for money. Darn.
As we walk in, I think the secret buzzer or at least a silent alarm goes off somewhere again, as this time we are nearly knocked over by someone who wants to help us. Ok--so I'm not straight looking enough, but now I've got Joe who actually looks like a Sears underwear ad. He's really straight and parent-looking--never-did-a-bad-thing-in-his-life kinda look. They are rubbing their money grubbing hands just looking at us. But, we go in anyway.
This time we get Luke to help us with our guitar purchase. As we follow him to the wood and humidity room, we pass Jesus on the guitar and some other dude jamming even if he wasn't plugged in. They are all caught up in the music of their heads, rocking like it was a concert in their minds. Em and I stiffled a giggle or two and I commented that she could hang out here on weekends now, you know, jammin' with the pallies. Except I don't think they call them pallies--it's probably something like dudes or bros or who knows what the cool term is now. She just rolled her eyes.
Luke walks us through some lower-end guitars, but not the ones outside the room with the package that includes a case and picks and stuff. She tries some out some strumming even if she doesn't know what the heck she's doing. We finalize the deal and Luke talks us into more merchandise to buy like a tuner, learn-to-play-the-guitar CD's, and a soft-sided case for the beast, but he throws in some picks for "free".
Em and I stand there flipping through "Pierce" magazine which sports a tatooed, pierced, and dye-jobbed babe on the cover and giggle while Joe is paying. Luke actually asks Joe if he's bought anything there before, to which I interject "Oh, yeah, he got his electric guitar here" and Joe just glares at me. Luke actually believes me for a millisecond before he realizes I'm being sarcastic and then just kinda smirks a little and totals up our purchase. Yeah, Joe is a ROCKER dude! And he models tidy whiteys for Sears on the weekend! Who would have thought?! We can't get out of there fast enough.
So, as we are leaving and thanking Luke for taking a good chunk out of our holiday change, he hands Em this piece of paper. "It's my MySpace address. I've got a band and you can hear a couple of our songs on it. Check it out." He looks at me and Joe and explains himself as he just invited a 13-year-old to his MySpace. "It's okay, it's just some songs" he says apologetically. To which I reply "Yeah, well here's my blog address so that you can read about how I trash you for selling my kid this guitar."
Fair is fair, dude.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
We are not, however, going to spend the holidays with the family pictured above. This is my Falls family, the one we spend our one and only week of vacaction with. Emails and phone calls are flooding in this week from this gang, and I have to say, although it is soooo good to hear from them, it just makes me miss them more!
It is a large group and we nearly take over the place when we all get down there. You cannot go to the pool, the Falls, or even drive by the horseback riding corral without seeing one of us--we are quite the group. And the kids aren't even pictured with us!!
Love to you all, Cumberland Falls family! Wishing you all the very best and a "we miss you tons" on this day of thankfulness. Only 8 months until we are together again......
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Moving on--I've decided to make a list of things I am thankful for a day early (well, two really) because A) I'm sick of coming up with ideas for this stupid daily blog thingy I've gotten myself into and B) it's Thanksgiving and I have to be thankful for something. In spite of the crud that has been going down around here lately, which I think we are pulling out of, slowly--I have decided to make a Thankful Top Ten List this year. I actually have a lot more things that I am grateful for, but they will have to wait until I am not doing this stupid write-everyday-for-November-thing-which-I'm-beginning-to-hate.
Ok--so you may not agree and/or understand my thankful things, but I don't care--just read and roll your eyes silently, please.
10. Puppet Bike--You just cannot appreciate true art until you experience it. Look for it if you are downtown Chicago. You'll find this treasure on a corner near Millenium Park or perhaps in front of Macy's. I hoot and holler for the puppets, putting a tip in the box, but you can just enjoy with a silly smirk on your face. Either way--it's a don't miss.
9. Bernice. The pigeon who visits my yard regularly. She makes me laugh. A lot. Although she makes me think of Henry when I see her--he loved Bernice. She made his teeth chatter.
8. Henry. Geesh, I'm getting gushy. My Sweet Prince who made my life grand. I still cannot believe he is gone and I will forever miss his sweet pink nose. I am thankful we had him, even if it was way too short.
7. Ma Blakeman. She makes the best damned pulled cremes of ANYONE I know. My secret stash is nearly emptied by these stressful times, but I swear I'd spend our very last $10 on another tub. Nothing like love from Ma Blakeman.
6. The writing/blog pals--Bev, Frank, Diane, Petula, Jo, Fran's Dad, and other numerous new people I have met this year in my first blogging experience. Writing class has encouraged my artsy side again and there is a certain peace within when you share that with other artists. They understand the dark side of you and encourage you to let that out--as well as the sunny side. You have all been incredible mentors and giant inspirations for me. You encourage me when I'm down and celebrate with me when things are great. My life has changed and become so much more enriched by this experience. I am so very grateful for you!
5. Katz, Gunn, and Lewis--Jon Katz, who shares my love of writing about the simple joys of life and a real pleasure to meet in person. He is my idol. Tim Gunn who inspires me in fashion and kindness. It was one of my highlights of the year to meet him in February. I still smile when I see our picture together. Jeff Lewis (Flipping Out on Bravo) makes me laugh every single time he opens his mouth--I just connect with him on so many levels. So he's gay, anal, and very dramatic--I don't see many connections.............well, maybe not the gay part. I don't know, he just makes me laugh.
4. The pond--shut down for the winter, it still attracts me, makes me wonder. There isn't a day that I don't visit it, scrutinize its depths, wonder about its inhabitants. Since we've put it in, it has been pure entertainment--even when it is green and depresses me. It never ceases to amaze me with it's ability to create and sustain life.
3. The family, health, the job--the things we take for granted the most, I guess. I don't. I appreciate all three immensely these days. These are the things that have come through for us in tough times lately. From an encouraging word from distant relatives, to the new friends I have made at the workplace. How lucky I truly am and I am thankful for all three.
2. The Cumberland Falls Clan--my real "family". The family that is somehow created by complete strangers who happened to vacation somewhere in the quiet hills of Daniel Boone National Forest a long time ago. There is something magical about this place, it bonds you for life, makes you part of something larger than life, and warms your heart and makes you feel truly loved. I have never met such good people--I am so thankful for them. I miss them tremendously for the other 51 weeks out of the year.
1. Hobbes. Thank God for the ginger-striped cat! What joy he brings to a family who needed it most! He is love covered in stripey fur with a motor permantly set on extra loud. Ok--I can do without the jumping on my counters and insisting on "helping" with everything from cleaning out his litter box to feeding the fish, but he means well. It always amazes me what happiness a little life can bring into the world--I wish that for everyone.
Taking a moment to reflect is so important--especially these days. In times of strife, it is hard, really hard, to sit and think about how great your life is and how lucky you are. I know it doesn't feel like it at the time (I remember a day in October when I was "watering" the gardens with my own tears) but we all have an inner list of things to be grateful for, even if it is that last can of cat food for dinner.
Love to you all--may your Thanksgiving be spent with those you love and don't stress you out, like the holidays can sometimes do. Namaste.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Maybe it was my singing Christmas songs at the top of my lungs on the trolleys. Maybe it was the never-ending supply of lemon drop martinis. Or the fact that the Kautz's killed the Smith's in Scene-It. Pat says it's that his job is as precarious as Joe's, but I think he just cannot stand another Thanksgiving camped out in front of PuppetBike and forced the family to spend the holiday back in Cleveland. Maybe I'll send him another deep dish pizza to bribe him for next year........
Miss you, Tammy! And Patrick. And Abbie. And Pat. Boo hoo. Boo hoo. Sniff.
Monday, November 24, 2008
If you haven't done this before, it is a hoot. Lots of people out for fun, crowded ice with come chunks out of it only because there are a cazillion people skating, and an incredible view of the city.
There were creepy little kids falling directly in front of me, threatening my rickety bones with harsh contact with the cold ground, although I managed to stay upright the whole time last year. I did a few windmills with the arms to save myself, but I don't think I looked any more foolish than Joe. Col was a "leaner", preferring the sidewall with the handrail to the whizzing about the ice, but he still had fun. Em and Caroline zigged and zagged all the while searching for cute boys.
It's a "gotta do" with the kids again this winter.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Today is one of those days, although I'm not freezing and I'm not sick of winter just yet. I just miss my dear friends that I spend a week with each summer. I would kill for a day with Tammy, Michelle, Cheri, and Fain--hanging out, swigging lemon drop martini's and laughing our selves silly. I really need a Fisher Girl Fix as I call it. They are the best people I know--adopted sisters that I don't have in my every day life.
I think I am not alone in my longing for our group to be together as the emails seem to be flying lately. I heard from all this past week, each of us wanting to sneak in a girl trip somewhere in between low bank balances and crazy holiday preparations. It doesn't matter where we go, but we just need a weekend together. We need to semi-joke about how cute we are, spend some time shopping together oohing and ahhing over each outfit tried on, and squeezing in cocktails at every turn. I need a hug and a "love you" from each, although Fain doesn't get so mushy--she mostly just wells up and you know what it means.
It's funny how I don't see them the rest of the year, unless something really special comes up and I can get together with one or two. Michelle was scheduled to come to Chicago for business a couple weeks back, but Disney cancelled all business travel. Tammy and her family have been coming to see us for Thanksgiving the last two years, but this darned economy put the kabosh on that this year. I'm thinking I'm just a little less thankful this year because I really, really miss them. Fain has visited Tammy, but I think she is afraid to come back here for fear I will make her use the Oreck or something. She says it's financial, but I think it's the frogs and the Oreck that she's avoiding. Cheri is busy re-grouping with Yoga class and exercise, but she invites us down regularly--free admission to Disney and time spent with the biggest heart I know is oh, so tempting, if I could only justify the airfare in this precarious time.
Okay, so I can't be with my dear friends right now, but I go through the vacation pictures, email love, and keep them in my heart. It helps some, but some days it just makes me miss them more.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
We have the battle for radio control in the car now. Em turns on this head-pounding soft-rap crap that makes my head hurt. The bass is all the way up and my heart (and head) pounds with every beat. Todays artists seem to be at a loss for words because it seems to me that they just keep repeating the same words over and over again. Luckily, Em's stuff isn't swear words over and over again--although I would know the words then and I could sing along. They sample from songs that were big in my day and they tweak it just a little to avoid a major law suit. There are no bridges--it's all just one chorus over and over again. Do I sound like my grandpa or what?!
I'm not out of it completely--I like today's music. I actually listen to the current stuff rather than the music of back-in-the-day like the 70's or 80's. Joe is big into The Drive where they play all the music of his high school days--I think it makes him feel young again or something. So, when he's driving, that's what we have to listen to. When I'm driving, I try to put on something top 40 so that I don't look completely uncool. I kind of made up a rule that the driver has the official final word on what's on the radio--if it is too distracting or annoying you may just drive into oncoming traffic to spare yourself from this head-pounding crap the kids call music.
So, it is the Battle Ultimo when we all get in for a ride--Joe is wanting 70's Bob Seger and Styx, I'm digging Pink, Em and Colin are screaming for head-pounding crap with the repeating words--it is frustrating to say the least. The only solution sometimes is to just turn on an AM station and force the younger set to pop the i-pods on. Or turn it off completely, which makes everyone mad.
The final selection is usually determined by who is sitting where in the van. Kids in back--talk radio/no radio, ipods in. Me driving--Cool today tunes w/no rap, sometimes I throw the kids a bone and let them have their station for......I don't know.....one or two songs. Joe and Colin in front (vacation seating) leads to sports on the radio, back speakers turned off, Em with her ipod on and me catching flies and snoring. I don't know what we'll do when the kids aren't with us in the car anymore, we'll probably sit in complete silence until we reach our destination. There'll be no more debating the pros and cons of each of our music styles and tastes. It will probably be boring old talk radio and Joe and I silently listening.
Before you assume I'm doing the Rush Limbaugh-type talk radio, I want to assure you I'm not. I do enjoy my morning WGN where there is the current news, weather, and traffic. There are thoughtful interviews and commentary on today's politics. There is the farm report and sports scores--although they always talk too much about the Cubs. There is quiet soft voices to wake up to and drive to work to, and no wacky radio banter.
I love The Score in the summertime where there is endless debates on what the White Sox should do, can do, should have done. I can listen for days on last night's game and the performance of my boys--Paulie, Joe, JD, Bobby Jenks, Swish. Who's getting traded, who is hurt, who should be doing what, who made what mistakes--I love it all. Eat it up. I can't wait for spring to come to adjust the dial the 670 The Score. There isn't enough White Sox talk for me on the AM dial.
Afternoons brings me to 890 for Roe Conn. This clan cracks me up completely. They just discuss today's news and events without being completely one-sided that this channel usually is. Even the recent election had jabs at both candidates which I found refreshing. I'm usually driving the peeps a billion different places when this show is on, so I find myself carting someone here and the other one there, all the while listening to something lighthearted and fun. These are the pallies who keep me entertained while I am sitting in parking lots, waiting and wasting precious minutes of my life. It doesn't seem as painful that way. At least I'm chuckling while my life is ticking away.
My all-time favorite? The guilty pleasure? I'm almost afraid to admit it for fear of revealing the true loser deep inside me. Saturday mornings--EARLY........Lou Manfredini "Mr. Fix-it". I actually get up early to listen to the guy help people solve their home fix-it problems. I love nothing more than to hear that someone else has a flooding garage or a wall where the paint keeps peeling. I guess it is a misery-loves-company kind of thing, but I love this guy. I like to listen to the callers explain their quandries and I try to guess what Lou will say. It's sort of a game show mentality with me--I've got an old quirky house that has seen more than it's share of problems, so I know what most of these folks are feeling. Oh, the soothing confidence of Lou of who nothing stumps him. It's a strange fascination, but it's my guilty pleasure every Saturday morning.
Maybe it's the conversation I miss now that the kids are gone most of the time. Maybe it's just the usual wacky banter of the music stations that I hate. Or maybe it's just the lack of mind stimulation that makes me listen to other folks talking. At what age do we start doing this? When do we turn to talk radio as a safe haven from head-pounding? I cannot believe that I have actually uttered the words "What kind of crap is this that you kids listen to?" Look out if I start eating dinner at 3:00 pm.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Gees, I'm exhausted. Besides working more (how do you people do this everyday?!), trying to drive the kids everywhere, keep up on daily laundry and housework, I am woken at least twice a night by a purry kitten who decides he loves me and needs immediate petting. I love him and all, and he is a baby, but this is getting old.
Like a human baby, Hobbes has decided he is very needy and absolutely must have human kisses and petting during the night--every two hours to be exact. Unlike a human, he doesn't need to eat--well, I don't think so anyway--I'm not going there. When the kids were babies I went along with this middle-of-the-night-lovefest, although not willingly--and this is far worse. I am long out of the baby years and this sleeplessness is starting to take its toll.
God forbid you have to turn over during the night or visit the restroom. That is the opening for the little guy to start purring like a motorboat on high speed, pushing his furry face into mine. There are full body flips onto my face and when that doesn't work on waking me, a march across the throat and another full body assault from the other side is attempted. This goes on until I either suffocate or I break down and throw the poor guy a pet or two. All this love brings me almost to consciousness and it isn't much appreciated at 12:00, 2:00 and/or 4:00 am.
I was in the middle of complaining/gloating about how much my little pally loves me, when Em's eyes get like saucers. "Hobbes is a player!" she starts yelling. "He does the same thing to me at 11:00, 1:00 and 5:00 am!" Here I am, thinking I'm his gal, when I find out he's gettin' lovin' in someone else's arms! I'm not sure if I am offended or impressed at his never-ending quest for love.
Englebert, Clooney, Valentino, Hefner............Hobbes?!?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Oh, I'm sorry to do this to you. Really, I am. You'll be humming this baby all day now, thank you me. Don't bother looking at the screen--it's just a photo of Chuck Mangione who looks waayy too much like Santino from Project Runway. Also, I'm not sure what is scarier--that I am actually humming Chuck Mangione tunes or that he actually reworked his music for marching bands. Just be thankful you didn't hear the marching version of "Africa" by Toto, which actually wasn't too bad!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
We snuck our surprise into the back window of his car before he even knew we were home. Here we were smugly thinking we were so funny, but we were giggling so much when he came out he figured we were up to something. Sure enough, he busted us in our evil plan to embarrass Dad. Bummer. We still had a good laugh. He grabbed open the door to his car and yanked out the sticker. I somehow think he doesn't think we are as quite as funny as we do.
Ever since, the sticker has now appeared in both cars, secretly stashed while the other person isn't looking. You'll be halfway out of the driveway before you realize you've been "stickered" and you have to stop and pull it out of the window. It's not like it is offensive or anything, it's just not us. "Maybe you need a little help from God, Joe." I'm thinking it might be good for his job search or something.
"Don't be a hater, Dad" Em is trying to get him to laugh about our latest attempt.
He doesn't think we are funny these days, but that doesn't stop us from being silly. It's all we've got left--our sense of humor. What else is there when all else fails? Crying isn't working for us, so I'm left with Plan B--lots of humor. So far, I like this plan better. Joe doesn't feel like laughing these days, so maybe he needs some lightening up. Maybe it will help, who knows?
Joe was last seen heading off to Milwaukee early this morning to visit one of his offices with the bumper sticker hidden behind the backseat headrest. Hobbes and I watched out the window as he pulled out of the driveway, completely unaware. Em appeared just in time to see "Thank you, God" going down the street with a trail of dewy exhaust. We completely lost it. Cracked up completely. Joe was blissfully unaware of his proclamation to the world of high speed commuters.
It was a matter of minutes before the phone rang. He pulled over before the highway to remove his sign after he spotted it in his rearview mirror and he was calling to curse us. I think I noted a chuckle in his exasperated voice. That's all I'm looking for--Thank you, God.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
This Christmas is a tough one--for everyone. There isn't anyone I know of that isn't scared about their future, worried about their investments or lack-thereof, and afraid to spend this Christmas. Yeah, I know it is supposed to help the economy, but I'm tired of being the one who is supposed to bolster the cash flow. I don't have much extra and what I have I want to hang onto for a uncertain near future. There are major cut-backs this holiday season, and I don't really care anymore if it does affect the world economy--I cannot spend what I don't have, like it or not. I don't imagine the country will be handing me a bailout when the COBRA payments start killing my savings account.
One of the very first things to go was the Christmas cards. I love to send these each year, touching base with all of those folks I don't see regularly anymore--past co-workers, college friends, out-of-state relatives, friends who aren't in our loop anymore. I miss sorting through the photos, picking out just the right ones and creating something fun on Snapfish or Shutterfly. I love sending them and getting ones in return, taping them on the door to look at and amaze at how the children have grown. I will miss that this year--but the cost of the cards and the ridiculous stamp costs have just grown out of control and it is one luxury that has to fall by the wayside. I still feel bad about it, but $100 is $100 that can be in the savings account in case we need it for COBRA costs come January.
Presents will have to be cut down and trimmed to just the main list this year. There aren't going to be frivolous gifts for the office pals or perimeters anymore. The kids are priority, then family members and close friends. Then the thank-God-for-you-gifts like the bus driver who picks my kid up in front of the house at some ungodly hour, the one teacher who actually cares about teaching my kid, and maybe the mailman, the newspaper delivery dude (who kinda sucks), and the UPS man--which is mostly bribery in disguise. I used to feel more obligated to the perimeters, but there is no room for that this year. No more Secret Santas at the office, no more "little-somethings" for folks--this is serious cutback time at the Kautz house.
One of my bookmarked blogs, by Jo, talks of being grateful for what we have. Yeah, I'm with you on that one. Gees, we're lucky when you get down to it. I, too, can walk through the Walmart and see way too many others who appear to have less than me, and it doesn't go unnoticed. My cart is usually full and there are items in there that would be luxuries to someone else--monkey chow for Joe and the kids, plug-in air fresheners that keep the kitchen smelling nice, shower gel that smells like flowers, a bag or two of chips, and lip gloss. All these things will have to go if Joe loses his job, and so I take a little moment to reflect on that when I'm tossing them in for what may be the last time. But, we'll still have a house, heat, internet, and nice clothes to wear which may be a whole lot more than some.
It is hard to believe that last year at this time I didn't think twice about spending. I bought way too many Christmas cards, expensive gifts for the kids, and little things for everyone we knew. We had a pond full of frogs sleeping the winter away, our much-loved fish, Freddy, in the house tank with her pallies Aloysia and Sharkbait, and Henry sleeping in the family room window in the warm sunshine. They are all gone now--a heartbreaking year to say the least. I would never have imagined such loss in our home, but I am grateful for what we do have.
I pray that things change in the coming year, that we all find peace inside of our hearts and wallets. May we sleep well at night and not worry about an unsure future. May we all have jobs that provide us the money needed to keep our families and homes afloat and health insurance that won't deplete our savings. I hope we realize how lucky we are to have a place to rest our weary heads and heat to keep us warm, even if we have to crank it down a LOT. And may we, like Hobbes, who at the moment is finding complete joy in wrestling a Kleenex, find joy in the simpler things in life.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I've got two songs, completely unrelated or similar in any fashion, going through my head non-stop. When I'm not singing the commercial for Jon & Kate Plus 8 (the Hawaii trip), I'm humming Chuck Mangione's "Land of Make-believe". You'll have to find them on the internet all on your own--I'm so busy singing them that I don't have time to go look them up for you. Don't make a special trip looking for them--they really aren't all that good.
A special thank you to the marching band who featured Mangione's tunes in their show this year--we heard that music at nearly every contest we went to, and I spent the next three days humming that catchy tune over and over again. Then, in true fashion, Joe has to chime in doing his Muzak version of whatever I'm singing. It's not good. In fact--it makes you want to stick a knife in your ear and pierce your eardrum. Ask the kids.
As for Jon & Kate--cute show, but the commercial is dreadfully gushy and mushy. I think I'm just humming it half the time because the commercial is being played over and over again the other half of the time. I hope this Hawaii trip ends soon and we go back to eight creepy kids crying all the time again.
I'm beginning to wonder if all of this is a sign of mental instability.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
We are all in this together--the family banding together to encourage Joe, to keep his morale up. Colin doesn't ask how work was each day--it would be the same answer anyway. Em praises Dad for digging in, even on weekends. I'm pumping him, keeping his energy up to continue to fight--to not go belly up to this jackass. Hobbes--well, you can see his part. He camps out on the desk, keeping Joe company in his private hell. Sometimes you don't need words to know someone is on your side. If only he wouldn't periodically chase the icon on the screen.
Note: The neon green walls have finally gone the course--there are paint swatches waiting for the cat to chew on and for us to decide on.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
It's tough enough to put on eyeliner at 5:45 a.m. and ever tougher with an orange furry hand in there helping. I was too busy laughing to stop him, so God knows what I must have looked like going into the office. I drew the line at him helping with the mascara--I shooed him away and he left with a little smudge of eyeliner on his face. He didn't care. I think he found a fuzz ball or something to attack somewhere else, and off he went, looking like G.I. Joe with his faux scar on his face.
Hobbes seems to get the mulligan a lot lately. Things that are normally off-limits to cats in our house, is suddenly found "funny" or "cute". Nobody, not even the kids, are allowed on the counters--there's Hobbes making a giant Evil Knievelesque type jump from the kitchen table. AND he's not allowed on the kitchen table either. He has been helping to feed the fish lately, nearly falling in the 50 gallon tub when he decides to balance precariously on the edge. He pokes his paws under the door of the bathroom when you are in there. He jumps into the shower with us. He leaps on the furniture in the living room as if he bought the stuff.
The kids are mortified. They scream for him to get down before Mom or Dad spy his antics, and stand there open-mouthed when it is met with a "he's just a baby". Grace glares in disgust as he plops himself smack dab in the middle of our bed--her favorite spot until he appeared. Every drawer opened has a nose stuck into it. There are cat toys found in slippers left unattended. He happens to get himself locked into closets--just by sneaking in unnoticed. He is everywhere and nowhere. Here one instant and gone the next. He appears at my shoulder, climbing the side of my computer chair by pure will and teeny tiny kitten claws.
I find myself hanging out with the little guy. I've taken to not turning on the tube, and just sitting and playing with him. We chat about things he hasn't seen before--he's like a child seeing everything for the first time. I find myself actually flushing Kleenex so he can watch it going round and round in the toilet--he likes that one. We say "good morning" to the fish together and then feed them. I show him the electric clippers I use to give Joe a haircut, while Joe patiently waits for me to finish his hair. I coax him out from under the couch with a "It's okay," after I've vacuumed and nearly scare him to death. We turn the stereo speakers so he can sniff all around them while they are playing some tunes. Every buzz, click, or snap makes his ears perk and he comes running to see what it is.
Like Diane and her grandchildren, there isn't a moment wasted when you have a little one around. I wake up early to be with him. I play "horses in the house", chasing him like I'm gonna get 'em. We play string, sparkle ball, and silver pom-pon-on-a-stick. He and I share a cuddle when we finally sit for a bit. We run after falling leaves in the cold yard. I hide behind the shed and he finds me. The kids wanted a kitten rather than an older cat from the shelter so he would play more--well, guess who gets kitten duty? Yep. But, I'll take it.
Monday, November 10, 2008
--So, Haters be gone--between the Dalai Lama and Grandpa Zacker, I've got some heavy back-up supporting me spiritually.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Racko is a card game that doesn't require much brain work or strategy. You just have to arrange the cards numerically in the little slots by changing them out with the pick up/discard pile. We make the game a little more difficult by requiring a run of 5 numbers (it has to be a consecutive 5 numbers) in order to shout "Racko" and win the hand. It's a relatively easy game that allows the players to actually chat and shoot down a couple of lemon drop martinis without sacraficing the win. The only problem is that it just gets a little more difficult to be the scorekeeper after 3 martinis. But, heck, Joe and Laura won't figure out if I'm a little off. They don't double-check my work--they just care who wins at the end of a few hands.
So, here we were, last night, playing Racko. Laura brought a veggie tray so we started off healthy. We quickly moved off healthy eating and moved on to Joe's speciality--Tasticles. (It's a long story, but they are little sausage balls that someone jokingly named after Joe) We were munching on far too many heroin cookies and Tasticles, and the cat was periodically scampering across the table with his cat toys. We decompress the stress in our lives by just laughing about whatever, singing with the tunes, and giving crap to whoever is losing. It doesn't take much to make us happy.
Joe was the big loser last night, saving his only wins (2) for the very last hand. Needless to say, he was catching some crud, big time. We were dissing him for being an old guy, not remembering anything more than the score from his middle school basketball game, when he yells some ridiculous thing.
"JINX!" he's all smiling and yelling at once.
Apparently he and I must have said the same word at once. Okay--so I haven't heard anyone use the word Jinx since about the 3rd grade, so I'm looking at him like he's a nut. So, do I not say anything until someone says my name? Are we really playing like we are 9 years old? I look at Laura who is just as confused as I am.
She turns to Joe and says "What did you just say?!". I am redeemed. She thinks he's nuts too.
"Jinx" he says, like it is completely normal for a 45 year old man to yell in everyday conversation. "You know. We said the same word and now she can't speak until someone says her name." He's explaining like we are idiots.
I thought it was me all along. I thought it was just me picking on Poor Joe, making fun of him doing weird stuff lately. Okay, I get that he is losing his job. I know that new job prospects are slim at best. I get that he is under stress and doesn't know how to make things better. I respect that he is travelling more and working weekends to keep his job. All that and still doing so much at home. But he is driving us crazy with the old guy routine.
He forgets details like who Britney is. Or that Colin doesn't have marching band on Tuesdays anymore. Or anything that I told him yesterday. He doesn't give the cats fresh water in the mornings anymore. He can't remember how to replace the screen with glass into the front door, even though he has done it 327 times before. He turns the wrong way at the corner, heading in a direction completely opposite of where we are going. He forgets what he goes to the store for.
We are trying to be patient, we really are. But even the kids are getting frustrated. There is a lot of "Dad!?!"s going on. We three are sympathetic, but there comes a time when you reach your end. We are growing tired of reminding, explaining, and reiterating over and over and over again. Dad is more like "Grandpa" these days and it is weird and scary.
I totally do not go along with the Jinx thing, and I think he realizes how ridiculous it sounded. Of course, we don't give him any slack and continue cracking up at his expense. He takes advantage of the fact that we have downed a few drinks and beats us at the last two hands. Victory for the old guy.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Col's got the news on this morning while I'm reading the blogs, and I hear that the government is debating on yet another bailout for the car makers. How can the government decide that we, as taxpayers, will bail out another financially despondent company/industry? I don't have anymore to give. Really. And I'm sure you don't either.
Yoo Hoo! I need a bailout! There is absolutely no frivolous spending at our house. There is no going out to eat. There is no shopping. There is no entertainment. There isn't anything in the way of spending going on. Every purchase is debated--can't we all use the same toothpaste? Do you really need shower gel when there is bar soap right there? Joe and I are making due with the clothes we have and Em actually bartered her babysitting services for a new hair cut and color last week. I'm shutting off lights and limiting car trips to save gas. Why can't government do the same? Aren't we all in this together?
I am very cynical lately. It's hard to be excited about a new regime when they are eyeing the cronies as their appointees. The bad part of Obama being from Chicago is that his connections are from Chicago too--the greatest corrupt administration and politics there is. The idea that he is pulling from these connections is what scared me about him initially. Imagine had it not been exposed the hatred and racism that spewed from his pastor's mouth routinely. What about Rezko and his interactions with Obama? Hmmm. Funny how he ditches them only when they are exposed.
Oh, I want things to change. I want to believe the charismatic couple that is soon to be sworn in. They are so impressive, so shiny, so slick. I truly hope he can do what he promises and straightens out this economy. I hope he can pull from his connections the good people, the ones who are less corrupt than what he has recently shed. Who else will be exposed? Will he deny them too?
And the big question? Where is Dave Chappell for all of this? Where has he gone? I would love to see his take on Obama being elected, buying a dog, partying at the White House with his homies. Tell me it wouldn't be a hoot. It will be interesting to see what SNL does with this administration. Is it hands-off? Kid gloves? Will any ribbing be seen as racism?
Oh, these are interesting times.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Anyway---I'm flipping channels while my back is doing it's creaky thing, and I spot a fav movie of mine--"The Natural". Okay, so I've seen this movie about a zabillion times and I know all the key lines, but I watch it anyway. "There goes Rob Hobbs, the best there ever was", "Hey, Hobbs, you okay fella?", "Let's play ball", "Pick me out a winner, Bobby" --oh, they go on and on. I nearly recite the whole movie while it's on, much to the chagrin of the family. It's just one of those movies I never grow tired of.
But, don't you love those?! I mean, who doesn't have a favorite movie or two that you can watch over and over? There is something comforting in knowing the lines, who's gonna do what, or the predictability of the outcome. I love how the stars never age and that the movie is just always wonderful--never gets old. There are a few of them for me, although my family isn't always thrilled that we absolutely HAVE to watch them if I catch them on.
Most people do not share the same love for the same movies, which is the whole reason why we have 5 televisions in my little house of the nearly the same amount of rooms. The minute "White Christmas" comes on and the infamous "Sisters" number is playing, I see family members slinking out the door. I don't know why they can't appreciate my singing along at the top of my lungs to that number--I think I'm pretty good actually. Better than Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby anyway.
Then there is Christmas Family Vacation with Chevy Chase. There isn't a line in that one that we don't quote year after year at the holidays. "Oh NO! Nobody is getting out of this family fun!" is a family favorite year round. We finally bought the tape (yep, video tape) and replay it at least once every holiday season.
Musicals and dramas alike, I have been known to force the family to sit and watch with me, pointing out over and over again that I love this movie and proceed to tell them why. I can hear the audible gasp when one is on and the quick change of the channel in hopes I don't see it and make them watch it again.
So, here is my top ten list of favorite movies that I will make the family watch --whether or not they like it.
10. The Way We Were-- "See ya Hubble", oh, and I cry every single time I see it!
9. Love, Actually -- I'm thinking I need to get this on CD. I LOVE this movie--Hugh Grant (sigh)
8. The Turning Point-- Joe wanted to rip his eyes out for the endless ballets in this one. It is old and they don't play it anymore, to which he is eternally grateful
7. The Natural-- There seems to be a theme with Robert Redford movies here
6. Shawshank Redemption--One of the best movies, EVER
5. Field of Dreams--Baseball movies are a fav of mine too
4. Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Monsters Inc--3 way tie. I connect with the dad in Nemo, Toy Story is timeless, and the comments in Monsters totally cracks me up! "Put that thing back where it came from....."
3. Steele Magnolias/Terms of Endearment--Sob, sob, sob!
2. Kelly's Heros/Das Boot--I LOVE war movies. I've seen Kelly's Heros more than any movie ever!!! We go waayyy back with that one. Das Boot is the best sub movie.
1. Seven Brides for Seven Brothers--the family literally runs when this is on. I have no shame in cranking the songs wayyyy high and singing at the top of my lungs. It's a classic.
There are tons more like "The Bad News Bears", "The Great Escape", "My Fair Lady", "The Longest Yard", 'Guess who's coming to Dinner", and I can't even remember them all. I'm convinced TV today is horrible and the movies aren't much better. Thank goodness for cable where I can find my favs on----over and over again.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I have to admit to being totally apathetic about yesterday's election. I'm not much for politics, it all is so corrupt, so self-fulfilling, so mean-spirited--I just don't have time for it. There isn't a politician that I like, more or less campaign for. So, in all of yesterday's media-induced excitement, I found myself lacking emotion. I didn't even vote. There, I said it. I hear the audible gasps now. No, I didn't give up my right to vote--I just exercised my right not to for candidates I didn't believe in. For those who are really into politics, I am sure you are absolutely mortified right now. Oh well, you'll get over it.
I'm not sure where our country is headed, and I surely feel sorry for the new president elect, walking into such a mess. God help the powers that be to make things better for our families, our country, our world. There needs to be major overhauls, and I'm not sure one man can or will do it anytime soon.
Why, then, would you run for president at such a volatile time? Can you imagine their thoughts while the stock market was plummeting weeks ago? If it was me, I would have been thinking "What the hell am I doing running for President?!?!" Although in too deep financially, I imagine there had to be at least a little inkling saying "Can I get out now?" Don't you wonder? I did.
While the rest of the country is giddy this morning with the outcome of the election, I sink back into my cynical self and wonder if this man can do all these people expect. I didn't see color yesterday, I only saw a man, a human being who is expected to change our country. It saddens me to see everyone focusing on his race and how monumental this whole election was based on that. I guess the "oppressed" will feel redemption, but now who will they blame for their problems when one of their own is the high chief? "The Man" is now them. Hmmm......ought to be interesting.
So, now Obama has caught the "squirrel" and time will tell what he will do with it. Yes, he worked hard for it. He spent years making contacts, shaking hands, and making deals to get to this point. Yes, he wanted it. And yes, it is bigger than him, unfortunately. It will be interesting to see what he does with it. I hope his quest was more than just the challenge.
Hobbes and I will be watching.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
As the awards were being handed out, the DM's for U of I were running back and forth with trophies and plaques, shaking hands and running back for the next round. They were getting a workout as the announcer was non-stop, keeping the endless awards moving along. We kinda tuned out the Class C-D, B, and A awards, keening our ears for our category and that special moment when they announce Alan B. Shepard for a big win of some type. It's all very exciting.
I was watching the DM's in front of us, they do this little bit with their arms, like a mini-performance that is all their own. Some bands do the solidier-type bit, while others do something that pertains to the current show--like the two girls dressed as hippies giving us the "peace" sign at the end of their arm-winging salute. Joe's favorite was a couple who were doing "the robot"--he likes that kind of stuff. They are all very individual and they are fun to watch.
So, as I'm watching, I see these two girls grab each other, like they were really nervous or excited about a possible win--but then the one girl goes down. Out cold. She was laying flat on her back, totally out. The other girl was absolutely horrified, tending to her friend, while trying hopelessly to get someones attention for help. The U of I DM's kept dodging back and forth, completely unaware of the poor thing lying there on the cold grass. The crowd was yelling and pointing and the announcer, oblivious, kept the show moving at a quick pace. We were all concerned and hoping that someone in charge would come to this girls assistance.
Finally, Mr. P, ran over the wall and tended to the girl. Soon, there were paramedics at her side and a mom with a blanket to warm her. They did stop the show for a few minutes, but proceded to keep the crowd from gaping. She ended up being okay, walked off the field on her own accord, probably more embarrassed than anything. It may have been just a long day, too little sleep, or maybe low blood sugar--either way, she looked ok and was taken care of. We all breathed a little sigh of relief.
On the ride home, we talked about how long it took for anyone to notice the poor girl flat on her back. In all defense of the people in charge, nobody could really see for all of the people lined up along the field. There was a huge crowd, and it wasn't easy to see much of anything.
What I found interesting was Joe's response. "Yeah, I was just about to jump up and help her when I saw Mr. P running up there." he's all smug-like. I look at him like he's nuts. He's serious too, which I cannot believe.
"Are you kidding me?!" I ask incredulously.
Joe is not a hero. He is not an action man. He isn't the type of guy to run in and save anybody. He is more of a let's-wait-and-see-who-is-going-to-jump-in kinda guy. He watches, he doesn't dive in! He is the picture of a Type B personality--almost brinking on snail-like responses. And here he was, bragging that he was going to save the day. I think my mouth was hanging open while he was saying this.
"I was nearly up...." he goes on with his dramatic rescue of the mind.
"There is NO WAY you were going to help that girl!" I'm yelling. I'm thinking Joe has officially lost it. I have to stop this fantasy right here, right now. "You?! Are you kidding me?!"
But then I realize that he really thinks that he was going to help that girl, be the hero, and save the day. I'm not sure how long it would have taken for Joe to take action considering the number of people he would have had to pass in order to do so, but he was convinced in his own mind that he was halfway there. It was frightening to me that he really thought he was going to do something. After 20 years of marriage and 25 years of being with this man, I KNEW he wouldn't do anything. I know he wouldn't rush down there if it was ME, more or less someone he didn't know. What scared me is that he didn't even know himself. He was delusional.
I let it go after that--we had a really long ride home and I thought this conversation could last the whole trip if I didn't. I let it go as Joe's little fantasy. Let him live his superhero moment in his mind. But I did find it scary that he was so far off base on who or what he truly was--a passive observer of life. Not that there is anything wrong with that--oh no, on the contrary, I admire him most of the time for not getting too excited about things. But, I found it interesting that he truly thought of himself as someone who would take charge in such situations.
The whole episode made me think about who we are and who we think we are--how that can be so very different. How we appear to others. How we think we act versus how we truly act. I know I come across waayyy different than I want to, and it isn't always good. Periodically I get some feedback with a strange look on a face or a sly comment here or there, but I don't take them too seriously. "Haters" I think to myself. Then there are the moments when I get someone who says something good and I think "Who?! Me?!". So the pendulum swings both ways, thank goodness. I hope it balances out the bad. At least I'm not a superhero in my mind.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
--Mike Raddatz, Senior band parent
I met Mike at our U of I tailgate party with the band and he wouldn't tell me his name, he only introduced himself as "Fran's Dad". We chatted a few minutes about the blog, he completely caught me off guard when he said that he read it.......and liked it. I begged him to comment if he visits as it is the only way I know someone is out there, and he replied that he already had. I didn't remember a new reader, but after I checked on previous posts, I found a really great comment on going to Western and taking the blue highways. I guess I need to check those past postings once in awhile.
Later in the week, I received this great email--cool photo with a terrific description of the event. Geesh, I kept thinking Mike belongs to the creative writing class with Frank, Bev, Diane, me, Mutti, and the assorted comers and goers. Isn't it lovely? Doesn't it capture the picture so well? It touched me as a writer, as a photographer, and as a band parent slowly exiting the world of high school band events. We are never quite as ready as the kids when it comes to leaving high school behind.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I was reading a few of my favorite blogs and I've noticed a theme lately. Seems like folks are writing about feelings and how others play such an important role in that--feelings about yourself and feelings about others. What you feel in a day is usually determined by contact with others and that interaction's tones. Two writers conveyed that it is a person's pure choice to turn a bad feeling into good ones. That you have to actually stop, take pause, and make the choice to be happy, to be grateful for the good in our lives. I thought it interesting that a couple of good bloggers just happen to touch on that note within hours of each other. Hmmmm.....good thoughts. So, it sets me into thinking about that as well.
I'm thinking about how I just go about my day and others attitudes and words can make or break my day. The crabby babe at JoAnn Fabrics tonight--who didn't want to order my red felt for me. She made me crabby. All because she didn't want to do something extra. The volatile parent of one of the kids who egged my house, who completely lied for his child and then threatened us. Made me really mad. Maybe more sad that some kid had parents who created this mess by not teaching him right from wrong. How easy it is for some to ruin other's day because their day (or life) is stinking.
Then there is the periennally happy neighbor who stops her car to just say "hi". She makes me smile inside and out, just because she's always so nice. There is the cashier at the Walmart who just chats with me about something silly. She's busy, but she takes the minute to smile and have a laugh with me. That's all it takes--I'm singing to myself walking out to the car.
Sure, there are those moments that make you pause and think to yourself that you really do have it good and that you should be more grateful for your family or job. But for most of us, there isn't a lot of time to stop in the grocery store aisle and think "Wow! How lucky am I?!" No, we ramble through our routine lives--pumping gas, folding laundry, shopping for toilet paper and not stopping to think about who is impacting our lives at the moment. Or the opposite--how am I impacting others? Did I just give that idiot the stink-eye? Was my tone just a little rude to the stupid cashier? Hmmmm......
We've been in a funk lately--good things and bad happening around us in extremes. I feel like my emotions are a roller coaster, going from good to bad in seconds. I am extra sensitive to the fools who make my life miserable, but then I am overcome by the kindness and goodness of others. Yes, I have been taking stock of how good we really have it, that life is ultimately good in spite of joblessness, scary futures, and deaths of loved ones. You have to find the joy in the day or you will go crazy. People laugh at me for getting excited over the sight of a new frog in the pond, but hey, it brings happiness to my day, my life. I'll take it no matter how small it may seem.
Even though I wish I had a safe spot like Grace, I'm not sure it's so hot after all. Yeah, the kitten can't get her there, but then again, she doesn't see the funny stuff either. She can't appreciate the ridiculous attacks on fake mice or the cardboard box that just grew fuzzy orange arms. I guess you have to put yourself out there--be vulnerable to the bad to experience the good. You have to crawl through the muck to find the prize. It's all there--it's just what we chose to see.
NOTE: November is National Blog Posting Month--don't ask me where I read that, I couldn't find the site again if I tried. Anyway, it is a challenge to bloggers to post every day for the month of November. It is meant to get you writing and writing EVERY DAY. Ugh. I will try. I encourage you all to do the same. Misery loves company they say. Join in!