Hence artistic endeavor

Sunday is my anniversary. You’ll hear more about that soon.

Lately I have been listening to a great deal of artsy fartsy feely music.

Basically just Amanda Palmer and my beloved Neil Gaiman, because they did this fantastic “An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer” tour and it was…perfection.

Amanda Palmer is lovely and wonderful and has this song about ukuleles.

About how great they are.
How they make people happy.
The wonder and greatness of the music.
Eating cereal in the dark and how you should just play because you can.

As a matter of fact it is here:

Ukulele Anthem. Amanda Palmer is amazing.

I THEN WANTED A UKULELE.

If you know me you know that I have never – aside from youth choir and chamber choir and various other choiry things – been particularly musical. I played clarinet in junior high but never progressed past Smoke on the Water and Proud Mary. I got a guitar in college and I learned a couple of Jewel songs.

I mentioned to my longsuffering husband that I could totally get into playing the ukulele.

He was understandably skeptical, and when I refused to mime the motions of ukuleleing he had a point and I dropped it.

Then he bought me one because he sometimes caters to whims and also why not, it’s a IMAG0177_1great anniversary present.

So now I have something to learn and hopefully not suck at, and I have had it for a grand total of four hours now and I almost can play “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” which…yeah, don’t ask.

You will probably never hear me play this ukulele, but rest assured that somewhere I am perhaps playing it and looking foolish and being so happy.

Things that piss me off.

wpid-wp-1399951974986.jpegBecause, you know, I’m sure you’ve been wondering.

Dust bunnies and cat litter.

Rosemary’s Baby with Zoe Saldana even though she is insanely elegant because seriously I can’t even. WHAT an apartment, though, right?

The way my fingernails never look like they were done by anything other than a six toed monkey with low blood sugar.

Onions.

Underwires. Because they always come loose no matter how much delicate handwashing goes on and then they conspire to kill me through my ribs.

Grand gestures with no substance.

My hair and the way it just…slumps. Like a sigh on my scalp.

When your ear inside itches in public I mean really how are you supposed to scratch that?

Smug political views that I can’t reason out.

Condescension.

Shailene Woodley and…ugh.

People caring that Miley Cyrus danced around with a huge inflatable penis.

For my mother, whom I love.

Every year I struggle with exactly what to say.

579813_10151075895131439_1330949638_nSometimes I’m sure I’ve disappointed you. My beliefs (or lack of), my foul mouth, my affinity for beer and wine and hard core horror.

But then other times I realize how much I love my kids, and how I would – how I will – no matter.

I think in terms of opposites, like if any of my kids grew up to be churchgoing Evangelical Biblical scholars. I wouldn’t love them any less. I would be happy as long as they were happy and purposeful. I mean, I’m happy with Minecraft and shaggy haircuts even though 207223_4549921913200_2056190641_nthey don’t make sense.

So I know you love me. That you just want me to be happy.

And I am. I am happy with my life. With my accomplishments and my pastimes and my beliefs. I am happy because you taught me to find happiness, to create it, to be grateful and to love for love’s sake.

This Mother’s Day I just want you to know that I’m grateful. I love you, and I love my life because you showed me what it is to be a good person.

Thank you.

Happy Mother’s Day.

To my kids

As a mother, I will never think I’ve done everything right. duo

I will always worry that THIS PARTICULAR choice I’m making is the choice that you will remember in twenty years, facing a nodding voice of reason before you fill prescriptions for Zoloft or Prozac or whatever they have by then.

I will always regret the missed milestones.

I will always fear your next step.

I will forever quake in terror that you have to make your own decisions and live for yourselves.

I will eternally wonder what would have happened if….x,y,z. Fill in whatever scenario, I have wondered about it.

I will always marvel at how smart you are.

photo credit Talley Images

photo credit Addie Talley

I will always want to be your friend.

I will always respond. To letters, to texts, to phone calls.

I will always help you. Even if I’m furious at you.

I will never stop trying to make your world better.smooch

I will never understand your fashion choices.

I will always want you to be happy.

I will do whatever it takes to make your life happy.

I will love you.

Whatever may happen. Whatever you may think.

You are my heart.

Love, Mompark

First in the birthday rumble.

I am terrible at being timely with important posts, like birthday posts. My kids’ birthdays all come like ticks on a clock, so I am starting this terribly late.

Lucy. Just a few weeks ago you turned four.

FOUR.
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I would tell you how much we love you, how much joy you bring all of us and how much you shine. But we tell you every day, so I want instead to tell you about a conversation.

You told me not long ago that you had decided you wouldn’t cry anymore, because you were growing up and growing up meant being big. So no crying.
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Appreciating the sentiment but not wanting you to become a bottle of unspent emotion in your thirties, I tried to reason that line of thought out with you.

“Everyone cries sometimes, Lu. Even big people. Sometimes things are sad, or sometimes you get hurt and need to cry. Sometimes crying is good.”

You pondered this for a moment, swaying in one spot and watching your skirt swish around your scabbed knees.

“Well then mom, we can make a deal. When you need to cry you can tell me and then you can cry. And I won’t tell anybody. Then when I need to cry I can tell you and you won’t tell anybody either. And then we can both still be big.”

Deal. That’s a deal.

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I love you, my four year old. Stay this way.

First things first.

Malone_Hood_Plaza_University_of_AlabamaAs many of you know because I have mentioned it no less than seven thousand and eleven times, I’ve been in school.

Ideally I would have graduated high school and gone directly through college as so many do – partying and schlepping laundry and staying up in coffee houses. I did that for a minute, but I was restless and antsy and thought getting married was the best thing to do.

And I did. I got married and had babies. Then I got divorced. Remarried.

I found myself an adult who never understood living for myself or working toward a goal. I inhabited the work force with no forward thought. I didn’t really know what I could do for myself.

I decided to go back to school. I decided it like I decide most  things, all at once and with everything I have. campus-slideshow

I quickly found that all the time and money I’d wasted was just that – wasted. I had to start from scratch, as barely any of the credits I’d taken years before were the correct ones or in the right order.

It seemed like it would never end. Every semester I found new classes that were necessary, new layers I needed, more work to do. Twice I began a semester convinced that it would be my last only to realize a week or so later that I had miscalculated transfer credits or requirement hours.

I gave up. I gave up a lot. In registering for this semester I was greeted with warnings and alerts that my financial aid was at an end and that after this spring semester I would no longer qualify for any federal grants, which had been my life blood in funding my quest.

I was left with eighteen hours needed and one semester to take them all. My advisor told me it was unwise and that taking too many hours would increase the likelihood that I would do poorly overall. I did it anyway, I had no choice.

And now this week, it’s over.

I have always felt, in most any milestone I’ve encountered, that something was off. I always felt like I was sneaking by, getting through on technicalities.

I feel this way now, I won’t lie. I feel like in two weeks someone will say, “Oh, nevermind. You skipped that discussion question and we can’t let you graduate.” 

Maybe that won’t happen. In the meantime, though, I will just be glad that I may have succeeded in something I thought I’d missed out on. And I’m kind of proud.graduation-hats

Notes on a Socially Awkward Existence

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I’ve never been what anyone would refer to as a social butterfly. There is a slim section of the population I can stomach being around for any length of time, and the rest of the world of people who breathe are simply not my wavelength.

I’m sure there are people I would like, if I put forth the effort. I’m sure I judge interaction too quickly and give up too easily.

But people – creating a rapport, being approachable and interested, making conversation and thinking of things to say…

Just typing about it makes me tired and anxious.

I grew up among people, though. This should go against everything my pew-studded history embedded within me. Right? I mean, there were times, children. Times when I loved being among people and I was loud and jolly and obnoxious. There are still those times, yet I couldn’t name the last one. These days I’d much prefer staying home binge watching Breaking Bad (again) or reading comics with the lights off.

Is that so wrong? Am I so different? If you prick me, do I not bleed?

I can’t be the only one.

For example, the text message.

People, if you text me and I don’t respond it means I have nothing to say. Or that I don’t have time to respond. Or that I don’t feel like settling into a ten minute back and forth of “no way, why?” “Where are you now?” “I think those shoes would match.”

AND ALL THE OTHER BULLSHIT.

I love people. People fascinate me. I love text messaging. It jives splendidly with my random stream of consciousness existence. I do NOT love feeling obligated to check in or small talk when I really don’t have reason to. Chances are if I haven’t responded quickly enough to your text and subsequently received a “?” text from you – unless you are my husband or mom or otherwise important family, then well… I may not ever text you again.

It’s just a fact.

Embarking

I could give you reasons I've been gone so long.

 

Except that would be stupid.

 

Cheesy as it sounds, one of my resolutions in the New Year is to reestablish myself on this blog. To do that, however, I have to convince myself I have things to say.

I do, of course I do. I think. I also have to learn to ignore “Hey Mom. Hey Mom. Mom. Hey Mom.”

Anyway, a new year. 2014.

I can't even believe that's real. I'm looking forward to the things the new year can bring, all the promise and fresh starts. I'm sure I'll be over it soon, but for now it's fun to be so full of promise.

 

Who thought up New Year's Resolutions? What sick sadist (is it sadist? Masochist? Whichever of the whips and chains likes to dole out the pain) thought it up? And why do we do it?

I accomplished some stuff in 2013. I started a new job. I gained some weight which is not so much an accomplishment as just a fact. I started watching Doctor Who and Sherlock. I finished another semester of school and now there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I love you. I promise not to suck so much this year.

 

 

Random things I contemplated putting in this post but didn't:

The Simpsons is the best show in the history of animation.

Wine is unbelievable.

I've started getting zits. Like hardcore acne. What the fuck?

I got the Depo Provera shot in August (I think) and please for the love of all that is holy please never do that to yourself.

Josh now has a whole building for the podcast. He's well on his way to being very hotshot and official.

See you soon.

 

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

I have spent the last few months…prioritizing.

Weeding out.

Facing realities.

And now, on a Sunday night with my kids playing happily in the back and Breaking Bad on my television, I have realized.

Things are good and I am happy.

Recent circumstances have made me face some startling facts.
Unnerving facts.

Like the fact that I’m a damn grown up. I’m a grown up and while that does mean that I can eat cookies for breakfast and swear in my blog, it also means that I have to deal with some very grown up shit.

Like the fact that the people I always expected to be in my corner might not be. At all. And as a matter of fact might not have even thought of being in my corner for a long damn time.

I’ve said goodbye to a lot of childish notions. Notions of friendships that last lifetimes and notions of people I love being invincible.

But in saying goodbye, I’ve gained…so much. I’ve realized that there are people who love me. That my happiness is not conditional on other people.

That I can hang on to what I have, and fight for the pleasure of treasuring it.

That my life will be a beautiful piece of art, and that I can craft it however I want.

It’s refreshing.
It’s freeing.

It’s badass. And I know now, more than ever…that I am living the perfect life for me. And I am grateful.

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How Neil Gaiman marked me forever

I have not, as a rule, been a huge fan of any author since I sent a letter to Beverly Cleary in 1989 and got a reply.

 

I mean, there’s Stephen King, who I love and read and saw his house in Maine but if I ever met him in person I might cry and run away because Pennywise, but seriously I’m not what you would call a fan/devotee of any one author.

 

This brings me to Neil Gaiman.

I paid attention to Neil Gaiman because I have long been a twitter devotee of his wife (I remember when they got married – I saw the announcement tweet, even), and I figured anyone who recognized the awesome in her was my kind of cool.

I’d read The Graveyard Book, it was a book club selection when I was pregnant with Lucy and for some reason it had always stuck in my head, but I never really gave two thoughts to the brains behind the story.

Then we watched Coraline. And I fell in love with the very idea that someone could think this way. I admired it, I envied it. I ached with lack.

Then I read the book Neverwhere and didn’t understand the notion that I had gone my whole life and not known….well, this. It was kindred and it was home.

So when we found out that Neil Gaiman was coming to Nashville…well, there was no question. We had to go.

The problem was, however, that we found out about the appearance far too late in the game to have any hope of finding tickets. I mean, this was a huge deal. He signs for everyone who wants him to, and this was the last tour of that. Not to mention I’d never been to a book tour. I’d never heard an author read.

I stalked Craigslist. I trolled eBay. I begged on Twitter.

The day of the event rolled around and I had no tickets. I’d given up refreshing the venue’s ticket queue.

Until about noon that day. For some reason – I still don’t know why – I checked the ticket site. The quantities were listed as…

Very Limited

AND I JUMPED ON THAT SHIT.

Suddenly, we had tickets. We were going!

I had no idea what to expect. No idea of the number of people or the venue or anything at all.

We were going to be there, and that was enough.

Hours later, we arrived in Nashville and…guys. So many people were there to see Neil Gaiman. It was a little bit crazy. The perfect kind of crazy.

We waited in line, then we found some seats. All the things people do.

Then, once Neil appeared, he pointed out our section of the seating and said “Hey those people can’t see me, why don’t you move?”

We moved.

Onto a front row.

There were intros, then there was the man of the night. Bizarre, really. A person whose name is on a metric shit ton of books, but he was talking to us in that insane British accent like we were best friends and that took me right back to 2007 Episcopalian Emily because Hey-I-worked-for-a-Brit-and-I-speak-your-accent-andohbythewaydoyouknowTim?

The actual speaking/performance to me is a bit of a blur, because I was in such awe of all the people. These were amazing people. Friendly and weird and the kind of people that would give you a ride in the rain. A front row right in the center that I’m pretty certain was packed full of Amanda Palmer fans.

Then there was the thunder. The storm outside and the blanket of stifling auditorium heat that transformed this huge building full of strangers into a group taking refuge from the weather to listen to a story.

As the talk was winding down, Neil mentioned musicians. Being in Nashville and how if he could have dinner with anyone there who would it be.

*Spoiler* the answer was Bela Fleck, but for one instant I was convinced that Amanda Palmer was about to pop out of the curtains. Once I was proven wrong I sent the following tweet:

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To which, in a few moments, she responded:

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And after I died, I stood in line. Clutching my copy of his new book and hoping I wouldn’t get brushed off in the well-oiled machine that was the signing line.
We arrived at the table, and in a burst of bravery that is all but extinct from me in times of great pressure, I simply showed him my phone.
“Of course,” he said.
And in one move, the little lady with the bookstore shirt stepped aside, Neil turned, and…

 

You guys.
He hugged me like he missed his wife. I wanted her to be there just so he could hug her that much, because I had nothing to do with it.

 

Later we went home and went about our lives.

I received, in my email, a very special quote from the first book of Neil Gaiman’s that I ever read and loved..in his handwriting.

And then I decided to keep it forever, because I am, apparently…finally a fan of someone.