Thursday, May 07, 2015

Life is Good

As I have done hundreds of times before, I sat on my back stoop to watch my dog sniffing the corners of our yard this morning. Steaming cup of coffee in my hand, I sip and reflect, as I have on many similar mornings, on how I don't want to forget. I want to capture this moment and hold it in my hand forever. Nothing could be better than the coolness of the cement seeping through my pajamas and hot hazelnut coffee on my tongue.

The morning doves are in competition with the finches for Best Vocalists. Occasionally, they are both beaten out by the echoes of airplanes as they begin their descent into Midway.

The air has that special quality to it that only exists in the moments before the sun fully rises. Slightly thick with humidity, but still cool and calm. It's air that is full of promise and possibility.

Penny spied something in the tall spring grass by the fenceline. It has grown thick and lush in that area, thanks to the choices our dog makes in where she does her business. It's hilarious to watch this dog darting through the grass and weeds; she's so cautious about where she puts her feet, but SO anxious to finally catch that rabbit.

This is the good stuff. Mornings like these are what I live for. I don't need fancy trips or clothes. Though I love traveling and adventures, the view outside of my own back door is enough to settle my soul for the day. The list of tasks I hope to accomplish today isn't overwhelming and includes activities I'm actually looking forward to. Sorting books for the freshly cleaned book shelves. School with the kids and making lesson plans for next week. Eating those cinnamon rolls that I put in the oven earlier... There is still a lot (A LOT) to do, but it doesn't overwhelm me when I am able to breathe the morning air in the solitude of my own back step.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Rambling, apologies, stream of thought

Can you remember your parents from your teen years? Overall, it's kind of blurry. Like a haze of continuous reminders to do my homework-get off of the phone-go to bed-be home by curfew... I know that this wasn't the entirety of our conversations for 4 years, but it's difficult to pull up random moments that aren't of them telling me what to do...

I have moments that are crystal clear. There isn't a doubt in my mind how my mom's face looked when she opened the door after I had lied about where I had been all night. Or how confused my dad looked when I absolutely lost my mind at age 14 as my boyfriend unexpectedly broke up with me on the phone while I stood in the kitchen on the corded phone and couldn't run out of the room.

It's absolutely no relief to my heart that my two current teens may remember only these moments between us. Knowing that their desperation to cut our ties is "normal" doesn't matter. When the people you love the most in the world don't fully reciprocate it? It hurts. Like a thousand paper cuts on my heart, their words slice me.

What did I say to my parents? What phrases and off-handed remarks burned them and broke them? How often did they question if I would make it through my teen years intact and a part of the family?

Because I question. I question a lot.

There are no guarantees. Children sometimes grow up and leave and that is it. The most stable of families can suffer devastating losses and scatter to the world. Being a "good parent" doesn't mean I will have a house full of grandchildren on the holidays in a few decades.

It all comes back to the words we say and the things we do. I hope that the other memories that I will hold dear will stick out in their minds. The conversations in the car... Playing board games and charades... Laughing at our dog and cat as they wrestle.... I hope they remember the many times I HAVE been patient and calm. All of the times we have had a peaceful and happy day... I hope those days don't fade away and leave only the sharp and emotional moments.

Are you guys reading this? Sometime in the future, are you, my children, searching my blog, wondering who I was, who you were, how we became what we are at some later date? Know this: I love you. No matter who you are, who you've become, how we've acted, or what we've said. I love you with all of my heart. If all goes well, this should be no surprise to you. You should feel completely assured that your mom (and dad) adores you.

But. Sometimes, things happen. If it is possible to apologize for a future wrong, then I am doing so, right now. I love you.

Friday, March 20, 2015

On Feeling Sad

Sometimes the world reminds you of just how unstable a human life is. Tiny and precious details crumble in front of your eyes and there is nothing, NOTHING, you can "do" about it.

Babies develop brain tumors.

Mothers lose their breasts.

Marriages dissolve in courthouses.

Lonely people grow lonelier and hungry people don't seem to grow at all.

"Overwhelming" is such an insignificant word... It's almost insulting, to be honest. Linguistics shouldn't count in a post like this. I should be able to just say "I feel sad" and people will know that I actually mean "I feel fucking devastated and furious and flattened by the lack of change I can make in ANY of the situations that are currently affecting the people I care about."

It's March, so everything outside is a monotony of gray and beige. It's bland. March is BLAND, to the naked eye's first glance. It's the second glances that remind me that, no matter HOW depressing the landscape can be, changes will occur. Buds will form and crocuses will push through. Beneath that gray, good things are happening. Beauty will return with warm morning breezes and lemonade in the afternoon.

The enormity of the Earth, and its lack of regard for our individual crises, somehow soothes me. Knowing I don't matter on the grand scheme actually helps me to center myself. I don't need to be a big influence in The World. I need to be a big influence in MY world.

I know that I'm trying; I hope I'm succeeding.

Monday, March 09, 2015

I love Illinois

On mornings like today, how does anyone ever say they hate Illinois? The sky is absolutely BRILLIANT in its shade and clarity. The morning sun is cutting the clearest and most amazing shadows through the branches and upon the snowy ground. The snow... ah. The snow. Currently in a state of slow melt due to the sudden temperature elevations, it's positively sparkling.

Yes, the winter has been long, but... has it? Has it really? It's already March and winter is nearly over! It hasn't been the worst winter ever, and definitely not the worst in comparison to other states out East.

Have you gone outside yet? Have you felt the air? It's cold, to be sure, but there is that feel to it today that signifies the change that is about to come. I can tell, simply by walking outside, that things are happening underground. Bulbs and tubers are stirring, stretching, and gathering themselves in preparation for spring's grand reveal. The birds have taken up residence in our tree and bushes to gorge themselves upon our backyard feeder; every morning, as I drink down my coffee, their song fills my kitchen.

This is why I love the Midwest. The ever-changing weather never allows me to grow complacent. You cannot take a gorgeous day for granted; in fact, your definition of a "gorgeous day" varies wildly depending upon the tilt of Earth's axis.

Winter toughens the soul. It strengthens the Earth and builds the muscle required for new life in the Spring. Without the bitter wind of winter, could we ever truly appreciate the gentle breeze of spring?

Monday, February 23, 2015

A damn fine cat

In the fall of 1995, I had had a really crappy day. Like, WHOA, shitty-shitty, crappy. To be honest, I cannot remember why. It might have been that the classes I was taking at the community college weren't all quite as inspiring as their paragraph descriptions in the course booklet led them to appear. It might have been that my boss, whom I adored, at the telemarketing company was in the midst of one of his many relapses into the hell that his alcoholism threw us all into. It might have been any number of many things. It doesn't really matter now, but what is relevant is that I was 19 and extremely upset when I walked through the door of Patrick's apartment,and he knew it.

How did he know? I am unsure. In the times before cell phones, how exactly DID we communicate so frequently? Did I just, like, CALL him on a regular old phone and whine and cry? Did I page him in secret number code or did we have word texting yet? Again, irrelevant, but definitely something to ponder in future days.

I digress.

Upon my very dramatic and morose entry into his home, Pat met me at the door with the hugest grin on his face and his arms behind his back.

"I know you were having a really bad day, so I picked up a surprise a little early for you..."

And then, with as much grandeur as he could muster, he pulled out from behind his back the squirmiest ball of black fuzz and razor sharp kitten claws you ever did see.

Before I could truly glimpse her, she scratched her way from his grasp and leapt behind the couch, hissing and spitting all the while. We spent a good part of the next few days trying to coax some sort of loving response from this "surprise" of mine; we were rewarded with many tiny kitten scratch marks on our wrists and arms that get infected if you don't clean them right away.

Somehow, sometime, she came around. Be it the need for nourishment beyond the kitten treats we offered or an innate desire for loving contact, somehow she decided that we weren't so horrible, and tolerated us to the point that we were eventually allowed to cuddle and pet her.

She was our first baby. Young and freshly out of our parents' homes, we doted on that cat. We named her Smudge because that was clearly her name and no other name would have ever suited her. She was the only pet we ever owned who always, and I mean ALWAYS, went to the bathroom where she was supposed to. She was the cat that endured all 3 babies wanting to love on her. She was quietly present for every tearful and joyful moment our married life presented. To her dying day, which was today, she behaved for us and trusted us. It is strange to realize that there will never be a night where she will be waiting for me on our bed...

And I know it doesn't matter much in the grand scheme of the world, but she meant a whole lot to us... to me.

Letting her go today was a reminder of just how short 20 years really can be.

I am so grateful that she decided to tolerate us.
We'll miss you, Smudgie.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Ever Wonder?

Ever sit in your car and just watch a plastic bag blow in the wind?

It might be stuck in that space between the bush and the curb and just swirl in a circle, repeatedly round and round and round... and then you wonder who used it last?

What did it have inside of it? Did that person throw it on the ground without a care for the environment, or was it whisked out of the hand of a young child who just couldn't wait to open the brand new toy that was inside?

Will it make it any further than this small ditch before being scooped up by a garbage picker, or will it get caught up in a sudden gust from a speeding semi and sail upon the currents of the troposphere to some unknown destination? Maybe it'll fly beyond the miles and miles of farmland and suburban housing; past Lake Michigan and the Appalachian Mountains.

Will it become stuck once again, in another roadside ditch, in a different state? And will some other woman see it, while she waits for the light to change, and wonder?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Do you ever have moments where you are hit with how blessed you are? 

I am humbled by the many gifts that I have. I do not take them for granted, and I realize that this life I live, though quite "ordinary" in its outward appearance, is one that many would give anything to have. 

I cannot believe that I am mother to these three awesome kids, and wife to such a good person, who loves me as much as I love him. 

There are so many friends who care and take the time to help us when we are overwhelmed or unable to be in 12 spots at once. We have an amazing support network, and I know that this is not always the case.

All of our immediate family is within driving distance, and they love us and enjoy our presence. Family that is healthy and thriving, both physically and emotionally; this is something to treasure for fleeting health is a guarantee for us all.

We are equipped with enough resources to not only adequately food, clothe, and shelter our children, but to provide them with opportunities and experiences that are completely out of the realm of possibility for so many in this world.

I am personally gifted with the honor of continuing to be a part of the Listen To Your Mother Show. Being involved in the legacy of bringing these stories to stage takes my breath away. 

I live in this country, in this decade, with these advantages and I am able to make small differences in the happiness of others. Sitting at my kitchen table, unshowered, with dirty dishes in the sink, and piles of work to accomplish and I am overcome with emotion at how insanely lucky I am...

I don't take any of these blessings, or the multitude of others I also receive, for granted. 

This Life is pretty damn cool.

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