Forward Ho

 
I hereby greet the new year.
 
There are lots of superstitions about bringing in a new year. 
 
I stayed in one spot for a full extra thirty seconds after Lucy hurled on my shoulder and hair just so I could get my midnight kiss on Saturday night. 
 
You’re welcome, surrounding partygoers. You’re welcome.
 
My point is that there are lots of things that tradition dictates one must do or not do to usher in a new year.
 
Eat certain foods. 
Be loud at midnight to scare away evil spirits.
Refrain from paying bills.
Postpone laundry (something I only found out AFTER I put the puke clothes in to wash).
Along with lots of others…some that make sense and some that simply sound stupid.
 
But it can’t hurt, right? Like avoiding black cats or throwing salt or not stepping on cracks…why tempt fate?
 
Except I think sometimes I get so focused on the why-not-it-can’t-hurt-just-do-it mindset of a new calendar that I overlook some things that might actually be useful.
 
Like starting new. Forgetting things past and having a clean slate, letting go of baggage which serves no purpose besides gall.
 
So instead of remembering why QR Nobody  annoyed the shit out of me in 1999, or what Sal Asshole did to give him his Asshole name, I’m clearing accounts. 
 
Starting over.
 
Cleaning out.
 
Second (third, fourth) chances all around.
 
I feel it will help my soul.
 
Happy new year. Look ahead, not behind.

For 2011

Since this is probably the last post I’ll write this year, there are some things I need to say.

 

As (what I loosely term) a writer, thank you for reading what I have to say. Even when it’s rambley and pointless, and even when I fail miserably at being entertaining. 

 

As a mother, thank you for the advice. For looking at pictures of my kids, reading about issues, and enduring things I think are hilarious or great just because I happen to be a mom.

 

As a student, thank you for your encouragement. 2011 has been a year of decisions, and the decision to go back to school is one I’m particularly proud of. If it hadn’t been for the cheerleading I’ve gotten I don’t know if I’d have made it.

 

As a potentially crazy person, thank you for making me realize that no matter how strange or off I feel, I can be honest about it and I’ll still have someone(s) on my side.

Obligatory End of Year Post

I know lots of people say this and it’s totally cliche, but where did 2011 go?
 
Seriously, it’s insane that it’s almost 2012. Forgive me if I wax nostalgic for the next couple of days.
 
Shouldn’t we all be jetting around in hovercars and jetpacks by now? That’s what the Weekly Reader told me in 1988. 
 
When I was 8, the year 2000-anything seemed impossible. I suppose it’s true that everything is relative. I certainly would never have put myself where I am, in thinking about the future.
 
Chalk it up to divine plan or whatever you want, but it’s strange the way things work out…and whether it sounds dorky or not, it’s exciting to see what happens next.
 
As for resolutions? I make them every year. More often than not I lose steam in a couple of weeks, but I always resolve. This year isn’t any different – well, maybe a little.
 
This year I’m not resolving to lose weight or keep the house spotless (sorry, family). I’ve done those or some variation thereof every year since I was 15.
 
But not this year. For 2012 I simply resolve to be diligent about being happy. To do whatever needs to be done in order to make my life good and full. To keep my family happy and whole, to love my life from day to day, and to be able to come back this time next year and say with honesty that I kept my resolutions to the best of my ability and that my life is better for it.
 
I don’t get many comments…but if you’re reading, tell me what you want out of 2012. Really. I’d love to hear.

From a random act

I had promised myself I wouldn’t write about this. It seems…exploitative. Wrong.
 
But for some reason it keeps presenting itself.
 
Let me preface things by saying I’m not claiming to be some big mournful friend. I am not that, to the point that I wasn’t even Facebook friends with these people. I don’t really know why – there was no ill will. It’s just not something I ever did – hunt them down and friend them.
 
Anyway, it doesn’t matter.
 
Tuesday morning, Josh was getting up and dressed for his day. He was up and about like always, and on one of his trips in and out of the bedroom, I heard him catch his breath. I turned over to see him standing in the doorway, his phone glowing in his eyes.
 
“Amanda Cossey was shot. She’s dead.”
 
It was the most bizarre thing I could imagine being said. He might as well have been talking about goats with purple horns and allergies.
 
I saw faces, names, confusion of memories and high school and passing acquaintances.
 
Amanda had been in school with me for years. I remember her as bubbly and popular, but one of the rare kinds of bubbly and popular where she actually seemed sincere. I remembered basketball games and cheerleading.
 
And then it was just there, like something raw in my belly. I felt completely useless, and the kind of pretentious that makes you feel dirty. 
 
This sounds awful – but she wasn’t my friend. She was a remembered presence, someone I thought of fondly.  I hadn’t seen her since high school. I didn’t know when she got married or when her baby was born.
 
To feel the way I felt was somehow misplaced.
 
I’m still not sure why.
 
The day passed, the requisite Facebook statuses were posted. News stories
 
I know it’s normal to be confused when something like this happens. 
 
Except, dammit all, it’s not. Nothing about this is normal. And it doesn’t matter if we were friends or not. 
 
The fact is that a girl I knew is dead. Not because she was sick or because a car crashed. Because someone saw her as an obstacle instead of what she was…

 
A wife.
A mother.
A friend.
A sister.
A daughter. 
 
She wasn’t these things to me. 
But it doesn’t seem to matter. 
 
I don’t want to be one of those people who immediately jumps on any tragedy to talk about how great the person was and how close we were. 
 
I have good memories of Amanda. She didn’t deserve this kind of end. 
 
I hope one day we understand things like this. 

Only ten years late

Last week I took my last final of the semester.  
This means that I have officially taken twelve years to complete a two year degree. 
 
Who the hell cares, because holy shit I never even thought I would even do that much. It’s very exciting. And now we wait, because in just a month I will either be attending Ole Miss (already accepted/admitted, just not registered) or the University of Alabama (just applied last week). This is very important since (barring Josh’s somewhat unhealthy obsession with their football program), Alabama seems to have the whole “distance learning” thing firmly in hand. They’ve been helpful and friendly and I hope I know something soon.
 
So it’s a big deal that Northeast is over. 
 
I mean, big deal, right? It’s a junior college and I pretty much gave up all my lofty Ivy League dreams the minute I signed the papers in 1998.
 
But it is a big deal to me. That school, corny as it may be, gave me some of the best and most interesting experiences of my life. 
 
Like the time we set up a scavenger hunt and asked a bunch of guys to the Sadie Hawkins’ dance.
Like sitting in daisy fields and watching meteor showers.
Like carving jack o’lanterns at Liza’s.
Like watching movies at Matt McCoy’s.
Like climbing up the porch roof at Scooby and Wingo’s crack house.
Like sitting in the stairwell in Indianapolis and talking about sin and heaven.
Like standing in the blistering heat to do not much besides carry around a clarinet.
Like empty stages and time to reflect.
 
I learned a lot about myself during the time I spent there. And I suppose since I left I am supposed to have grown up, whatever that means.
 
But I don’t really think so.
 
And it’s not like I’ll particularly miss it – the missable part is long over, but there’s some odd finality in at long last closing that book. 
 
Let’s just hope the grades come back nicely.
 

Speechless.

I have restarted this post six times.

I am very rarely at a loss for words, but today is one of those times.

It’s a difficult thing to watch someone you love hurt, and it’s no secret that I don’t get along too well with difficult things.

But things happen. And you can’t do anything about it.

Almost exactly a year ago, my husband lost his grandmother. She had been very sick for a long time, but when she went she was lucid and…well, there. She said her goodbyes. There was closure.

This week, Josh said goodbye to his grandfather.

This was much different, in that over the last year (longer than that, really) we’d all watched his steady loss of reality. He wasn’t totally without moments of clarity, but they gradually became fewer and farther between.

I never really knew Josh’s grandparents. Well, I did, but obviously not the way he did. I watch him hurt and I wish I could fix things. I wish I could share those memories.

I remember, though, my own grandfathers and the time I had with them. I think about how short the time I had with them was and how much I miss them. I think about my grandmothers and how they still remember their husbands so fondly. I think about the times I was around Josh’s grandparents together, and how they were the very picture of everything I want my marriage to be. How if I’d had longer I would have loved to hear all the stories they no doubt had to tell.

I have no words to say to make anything better. I wish I did.

The end of this circle is complete. What a beautiful time it was. I wish I’d had more time to be a part of it.

This is how I feel too

Basically I’ve not been in a great state of mind lately.

My kids are great.
My husband is lovely.
Life, as a whole, is good to me.

But I feel very rutly (as in to be in a rut).

I know I’ve taken appropriate steps to further myself. I’m in school, I have shitbombing awesome kids, and…well, I like to knit?

I have hobbies. That sounds better.

But the fact that my life is currently in go status doesn’t stop me from being impatient, and how selfish is that?

I know that everything goes so fast and I’ll look back one day and wish I had this time back.

There have been two deaths this week.

A former classmate of mine. He was 32.
A little girl. She was 10. A year older than Max.

And in all of this, I wonder what right I have to plan ahead. Is it presumptive to lay out plans for degrees and jobs and all of that, when tomorrow I could be gone or sick or my babies could need me to never leave them ever?

I’m not as spastic as I sound.

I know without plans we all become bums.

Wasn’t that what John Lennon said?

Why I won’t be a midnight Potterhead

It’s like I’m watching my twenties disappear…

To be honest, my twenties disappeared a couple of years ago, but shut up.

I had promised myself I wasn’t going to gush about Harry Potter and how the franchise is ending and whatnot.

And I don’t plan to gush, but as common and unexciting as it is, these books have been a big part of my life.

I didn’t get on the Harry Potter bandwagon right away. As with many things that turn out to be hugely popular, I heard about the books, and when I realized how popular they were becoming, I decided not to like them. I had no clue of the storyline or anything at all, but I wasn’t going to be a part of the drooling masses.

Yeah, that didn’t quite work out.

I think I finally caved in and read the books right about the time Goblet of Fire came out. After that, it was shameless. I waited for each of the next books with equal fervor, and when Deathly Hallows finally arrived, not only did I work a midnight release party (as a bookstore clerk, not a stripper as that sentence kind of makes it sound. Perverts.), but I had the book read by the next afternoon.

The books have been a constant since I caved in and loved them, and now we all love them. They have grown to take up the space of the whole collection. They’ve been shunned for being anti-Jesus. Max took one to school and was told that “Harry isn’t a nice boy.”

It’s anyone’s guess as to why these books – these characters, this story – are so magical (see what I did there?). I don’t know, and pretty much I don’t care. They’re fun. They’re whimsical. Every kid wants to get a Hogwarts letter. I wanted a Hogwarts letter when I read about them, and I hadn’t been 11 for over a decade.

As much as I generally don’t like movies made from books I love, the movies have been great. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and everyone else have finally gotten consistent faces in my mind’s eye – and that’s really rare.

Tonight at midnight everyone will be lining up to see the last movie, just like I did for the last however many.

But not me. Not this time.

I’ll tell people it’s because I don’t want to burden anyone with Lucy, my needy bedhog, in the middle of the night, and that’s true.

Partially.

The fact of the matter is that this is it. It all ends.
And even though I know what happens and it’s just a movie, I kind of feel like I’m saying goodbye to friends.

Isn’t that crazy? I mean, I can watch the movies and reread the books every year like I have for the past eight years, and I can read whatever else J.K. Rowling eventually puts out, knowing it won’t be as good. Even if it is.

I guess it’s just how it goes. The end of an era. I’ll look back on these stories like they’re my generation’s Star Wars.

So while I am anxious to see the movie, I’m okay with not racing to be first in line. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye.

If you go see the new Harry Potter and you see a woman weeping in the aisle when you’re leaving, that’s me. Just walk on by.

We’ll always have the Sacristy

To tell the honest truth (as opposed to the other kind), I’m at a bit of a loss.
I won’t stay that way for long, because there are so many thoughts in my head. In my heart.

When I first met you, I was sure that you’d end up being someone else to get on my nerves because let’s face it, pretty much everyone does.

But I learned (quickly, like the next day when you breezed through and yelled, “I gotta go on a liquor run before communion on Sunday, anybody running short? Jesus is payin’!” ) that you were not to be anything that I would have expected.

You came in every Monday to sign the checks and get the scoop. Sometimes you’d stay for hours because we’d get caught up in telling stories and chatting about pretty much any topic we could think of.

You know the line from Steel Magnolias, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, come sit by me?”

That was you. To the bone. And it brightened my day so many times.

Every image I have of the true Southern lady I have because of you. You carried handkerchiefs, draped your hairdo with a brassy scarf, wore sunglasses as big as my head. Your big luxury car. Bridge and beauty parlor on Fridays. Dirty jokes in the church office, always prefaced with, “Now Emily don’t you tell anybody I said this. I’ll deny it.”

I told you so many things. Secrets. Quandaries. Decisions I had to make.

You always had advice.

You told me about lingerie modeling when you were young, because you were unapologetically “a total babe, Emily!”

When I had to leave, we both cried. You were the hardest part of leaving.

I used to call you on the weekends, during the long child-custody swap drives. You kept me in the know and never failed to tell me how much you wanted us to come home.

I should have kept in touch more. I should have written cards and notes.

The last time I saw you I asked about the office and everything I’d left.

“It’s working, I guess…but…it’s not the same. It’s not the same at all.”

I hope one day I can be as wonderful as you. You were a lady, a love, and one of my dearest friends.

It won’t be the same, Miss Lynn. Not the same at all.

Same as it was

I’ve never been one to thrive on cryptic status messages and song lyrics.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There were days years ago where I posted quotes in Italian and talked in code like nobody could Google.

I was getting the weirds out, ok? We didn’t have the internets in my youths.

What I’m saying is, were I currently given to posting cryptic mystery messages and provoking curiosity, I totally could.

I could say, “You’re so wrong,” or talk about regret and holding grudges. I could passive aggress my way around every issue and I could make the point for anyone who was in the loop. I could never name names and still hit nerves.

But you know what? I did that shit in high school.

I’ve grown.

There are people I was thick as thieves with in high school who I would inconvenience myself now to avoid. People I rode backroads with and snuck wine coolers and Marlboro Lights, who have turned into Bible thumping Republican pageant moms.

So I choose to stay clear of them. I would rather sit home and make doilies than surround myself with people who pain me.

The same goes for organizations who are comprised of people who just enjoy the power they think they have.

And here’s where I get real.

I understand, folks. Maybe you don’t like my husband. Maybe you think he’s an arrogant prick. That’s ok. He’s my arrogant prick. While it’s his choice to allow people to treat him however, I don’t have to stand for it and I won’t. My children will see that I don’t approve of people who exclude others because of hearsay. Or wrongs so old no one even really remembers them.

I get that I am just one person. I’m not a big loss. But I am what I am. And it’s not okay for you to play with people I love.

So….basically all that stuff I just said about how I’m not going to be cryptic and mysterious?

Ignore that.