Things I’ve Missed, part first

Since it’s been a sizable amount of time since I wrote regularly, there’s been some stuff that I haven’t mentioned. Big things that have come and gone and I’ve just lived through. In a way, that’s good – because now I can look back and attempt to be objective about how great, how indifferent, how scary.

My first impulse was to write a huge post and recount everything I could think of.

Then I realized that a wall of text might not be so appealing and plus BONUS, I might get some not-just-one post action out of it.

I’m relearning this stuff, guys.

Anyway, we moved.

 

Josh, me, the kids. The cat. We left Dan’s and we found a house that we think qualifies for us as the home we need.

It wasn’t an easy decision. We went back and forth and hemmed and hawed and what if’d and then that. Screenshot_2014-05-04-23-33-21_1

So much of how I saw my family had become so encapsulated in our living space. We were all so close and so present and all so CONSTANT. It was foreign to think of that as changing. But it did.

Adjusting hasn’t been easy. It’s been five months and I still catch myself thinking in terms of smashed-into-one-room living space, and there are still things that we just don’t have because we didn’t need them for four years.Screenshot_2014-05-04-23-32-57_1

Lucy’s adjustment was what I’d worried about the most, really. She had spent her whole life in our compoundish circumstance. Dan’s home was the only one she’d ever known.

I need not have worried. Once she realized that we would have a whole house of our own AND that she could still go see Dan pretty much whenever she wanted, she hasn’t looked back.IMAG0166_1And now we have formed our own unit. We are what we were, but somehow more so. My son has his own space, my girls have theirs. We are more together because we can be separate.

It was a good decision.

 

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

Days like today

There are days like today.

 

On days like today I can feel a rainbow of things just in a few minutes.

 

Like forgotten.

Useless.

Beautiful.

Sedated.

Brittle.

Jaded.

Naive.

Hideous.

Clear, sharp and

              dull and clouded.

Strong.

Broken.

Selfless.

Giving.

Jealous and greedy.

Brilliant.

Confused.

 

…and then the clock changes and another minute starts.

 

All I’ve ever asked is to be accepted for who and what I am. Putting this out there will no doubt accomplish exactly the opposite. Words that in their very existence serve as therapy will instead be used as evidence of my instability.

 

That’s fine. It’s what happens. It seems to me that the fact that I can acknowledge these inconsistencies about myself should in itself mean that I have at least base coping mechanisms.

 

But I suppose things are open to interpretation. In every sense of the word, from every angle it can be seen.

 

A line in the sand

So the thing about being more blogly has obviously not worked out the way I had hoped. Oh well.

I have, however, thought everyday about this. My corner of Internet that at one point was my entire identity.

It has gained me friends.
Lost me friends.
Documented marriage and birth and milestone.

I thought about giving it up.

But then I thought, “That’s stupid. This is mine.”

At some point, it turns out, I began writing for someone other than me. I’m not sure why. I had no illusion of fate or fame. Still don’t.

So in a nutshell, I’m not giving up my blog. Whatever else it may be – boring, pointless, narcissistic, depressing – it’s mine. And it may be the most comprehensive documentation of my life in the last ten years, so by god I’m keeping it.

Just touching base.

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.

 

 

Only a month late

I’m sorry, Max.

Your birthday was over a month ago and I’m just now mentioning it on this chronicle of my thoughts.

Which is not to say that I didn’t think of it. Quite the contrary.

For eleven years, I’ve thought of you every day. It’s inescapable, really.

My firstborn. My son. It’s all very poetic.

Except lately it’s been quite obvious that you’re growing up – turning into a teenager, exerting your own brand of independence, testing waters and boundaries.

All in all, you’ve been kind of an asshole.

I know, it’s your birthday post and I shouldn’t say that – but let me expound. You are your own person. You are so like both of your parents that we are often blown away, but at the same time you’re so foreign and strange to us that we wonder what we’re doing wrong.

But then we realize that without a safe place to be an asshole, things could get kind of bad for you. For anyone, really.

Because that’s what family is. What home is. A place to let go and be awful and be unbearable and to know without a doubt that everyone there will let you be you. And love you no matter.

We do, so much.

You’ve grown so much in the past year. Your sisters adore you, even though they won’t admit it.

Your dad…you’re just like him.
Josh…I don’t know what he’d do without you to infuriate.

And me? You drive me crazy. Crazier than I already am. And I am, at the same time, simply amazed by you.

Amazed that I had any part in producing you.
Amazed that I get to know you.
Amazed that I get to see where this goes.

I love you. You are a stressful, grating, mindbendingly wonderful person. I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Blank screens are depressing

Important things have passed.

My oldest turned eleven on Friday. Sunday was Father’s Day.

I choose to write first about the day of fathers today, because we all know I don’t like to think about my kids getting older and hey Max, if you’re reading this in ten years….you’re 21, let’s go get margaritas.

 

So, Father’s Day.

My father has always been a force in my life.

Sometimes a force of fear – I mean, I still don’t know what would have happened if he ever found out about senior skip day. Or all the European alcohol. Or the (totally platonic) bed full of 5 terrified people after my first viewing of The Exorcist.

Now you know, Pop. I’VE CONFESSED.

Sometimes a force of ingenuity. I’ll never forget coming home and finding my very first car in the driveway – one that he traded a gun for – and thinking that no one in the world could ever get as much shit done as my dad. Did you ever read about that one guy who traded all the stuff on Craigslist and went from something crazy like a piece of gum to a Corvette? THAT DUDE LEARNED IT ALL FROM LARRY WILKES.

Sometimes my dad has been a force of inspiration – I know that any “some assembly required” project is no problem because I am a product of my dad. My dad could assemble and rework anything ever and make it not only functional BUT KICKASS. He had a scuba store in Corinth Mississippi, people. He can do anything.

 

My life has not been perfect. But I’ve never doubted that my dad would move mountains for me.

In that, I know that I am lucky.

I’m also lucky in that my children have fathers who – while neither of them are quite on the trading-firearms-for-transportation level – love them and would do anything for them. And do. They love kids that aren’t theirs in any way except me. They love where they don’t have to. Where most don’t.

Seriously. Some people don’t have that. I see it every day and it makes me ache with gratefulness.

So even though it’s passed and even though my dad might not read this, I’m thankful for the fathers in my life. I’m lucky and I never forget that.

From the dad who gave me life to the dad I share a bed with, I know every day that I am where I am because of you.

 

Thank you.