Recently in one of my frantic rants about my life being ever so more impossible than everyone else's in the world, I looked at Chris solemnly, placing all potential hope and well-being in his hands and said, "Do you think I'll ever get better at life?  Like be calm and handle things better?  As normal people do?  And he said,
... maybe?"

(Honesty is a virtue, but can also be an ass ache).

Because the point is to improve at life, right?
We ought to get better at it, otherwise we're just Cool Hand Luke digging and filling that ditch over and over.

Today I was journaling and praying, and I realized some things:

-I am not much better at life now than I was 10 years ago or even 20. 
-I am not less anxious, it just looks different. 
-I have not stopped dealing with food or body issues, it just looks different. 
-I have not overcome my temper, it just rears its head differently.

This is not a very good report card.

You see, the problem with life, and I try to point this out to God constantly, who does not appear to be interested in employee feedback on His management style, is that life constantly changes and moves forward.  Therefore, each time I achieve even a tenuous grip on an issue, the next time it appears, it looks different and I have to learn something new to address it in that form.  It's a real whack-a-mole situation.

I look back over my 20s and 30s and think, "I should be a bit more together by now."  Because, y'all, seriously, I live a pretty turbulent emotional life.  Only the few people closest to me know exactly how turbulent.  And, not to brag, but my turbulence is fairly impressive given I don't really do much in life.  By my own design. 

Sometimes a certain type of person will see me being energetic and hyper when I'm interacting with humans, and say knowingly, as if we're allies, "Don't you feel like you need a lot of things going at once?  And if you aren't busy, you just don't know what to do with yourself?"  And I think, "No."  But then I give it some serious thought, and think, "Well...still no."  Honestly, the fact that I even give off that vibe confuses me. Maybe I've hoodwinked them with deceptive pheromones or my caffeine intake.  Mostly I try to pull off the bare minimum in life, and I'm still pretty turbulent with the minimum.  As proof, the kids and I show up for about 70-80% of our school and commitments. 
That's a C.
Minus, I think.

But this morning I had a thought.  When I journal my thoughts (usually turbulent, frantically whiney and hopeless), I also journal responses in [brackets].  I like to think these are from God.  Don't worry, I know it's me writing.  I'm not Joseph Smith-ing you.  But since the bracket ideas consistently seem more grounded and true than my first thoughts, I listen to them carefully.  And today the brackets reminded me that the one difference in my life in the last 20 years is that I feel God more lately.  I haven't always understood or even liked Him better over the years, but I feel Him more and see His handprint more.  In different ways.  More ways.  New ways.  In art, in poetry, in nature, in people, in science, in a lot of things.  Okay, not math, because obviously math is witchcraft, but you get the picture.

This morning, I thought, "Oh crap!  Is that the whole point of life?  Not the improving and getting better at the hard things and improving our weak spots?  But seeing more of God in the world, more of how the world and we are connected because of Him?!"

And then I thought,
"Well, damn.
I can do that...

I'LL TELL YOU WHY YOU SHOULD WRITE [she announces with misguided confidence].

I'll tell you why you should write. 
Writing helps me, because while I'm doing it, the internal voices quiet down to one. 

I spend a lot of time in my head, trying to manage feelings, unknowns, knowns, the past, the future, ideas, my faults...okay, I just spend a lot of time in my head.  And while reflection can be helpful, I'm not sure it accomplishes what I expect.  Because I just discovered (and you should brace yourself for this) you cannot fix things by thinking about them. 

I know.  It's total bullshit, is it not?
And obvious.
But if you already knew, why didn't you tell me?

I don't have a lot of confidence in myself as a parent these days.
Being fun, engaging, creative...it all feels beyond me as we begin summer vacation.

Routine and structure have been nonexistent towards the end of school, and if I'm honest, for the past year as I've adjusted to working part-time.  However, because we don't feel "anchored" or "at-the-ready" as we face the days, does not mean they stop rolling over us, does it?  And when time rolls over me without what I consider sufficient time to manage and mull prior, I feel out of control. 

I've always assumed that was bad.  I have felt that what happens when I'm not ready or focused didn't count or was wasted time, i.e., "the days with the kids are going so fast, I'm not being proactive therefore the kids are learning nothing and nothing good is happening."

But today I was remembering when I used to be home all day waiting for Chris and the kids to arrive.  There were a couple of years where the kids were in school and I stayed home.  I was busy enough, but just before they actually walked through the door,  I was sort of on alert and ready for them.  That wasn't bad.  At all.  But you know what happened soon after they arrived?  They just needed to zone out.  Which I understood.  Nevertheless, I was sort of hurrying-up-to-wait, if you know what I mean.  "Welcome home!  Oh okay, you need space."  Which was strange, but is sort of how I thought I liked things...not just after school things, but the bigger picture of life too:  Mull, prepare, manage, wait, action.

Now I'm getting home when the kids get home.  I never have time to mull and prepare.  The afternoons and weekends seem busy too.  Yet, life keeps rolling, and tossing me along with it.  This has felt challenging.  An adjustment.  And because it has felt tumultuous, it has felt "wrong." I'm all about labels for myself, and knowing what's right or wrong.  I have a love/hate relationship with being graded, and I am working on that.

However, I decided today that's it's not wrong. I also decided that I'm glad I am not in charge of time.  I often wish I could slow it or freeze until I feel ready for the next happening.  But knowing myself, there'd be a lot of freeze-framing.  NOT like "oh I just want to treasure this moment!"  More like, "Oh, I don't want the next moment to happen yet because transitions make me buckle like I've been punched."  And I don't enjoy being punched, so, if I were in charge of the clocks, I might never say, "Action, roll film."

But things need to happen.
Ready or not.
Good or bad.
Surprising or expected.
You know, just life needs to happen.

And while this is obvious, I think the fact that I can write this shows progress.  And I only really understood it, because I sat down to write about it.  So writing is helpful.

A lot of what I learn seems to be cliché.  Sometimes I don't want to share it, because it's been said to death, and a voice in my head says that being unoriginal is the worst kind of sin.  But the other voice [the kinder voice, the voice that speaks in brackets and calls me Honey instead of Jackass] has always said that the fact that we are all similar is the best kind of gift.

I might think I want to be the most original snowflake landing on the highest most unique and isolated mountain, so special no other snowflake has ever landed there.  But the top of that mountain is cold and lonely.  And baking cookies is hard in high altitude.  So I'm glad that mountain/snowflake crap is a myth.  I like better the idea that if any two people on earth were put in a room together, they'd eventually find some point on which they connect and talk.  And if the person put in my room doesn't like to talk, all the better.  I will talk enough for both of us.  As Chris always says, "Someone has to be the ears in the family."  He is our ears, by the way.

So, just write.
For yourself or us.
You can be boring or fascinating.  Don't worry too much about the labels.
Because for a little while you can get the voices in your head down to one.
And we can be the ears.

the walls have ears

The only thing worse than one night of camping, is a second night of camping.

"You never sleep great the first night camping, but the second night - man, you're so tired you sleep like a log!"
lies Chris every camping trip.

Last night, I was woken from a dead sleep by the sound of dry-heaving.  Thank God only the dog’s, and, of course a moment later, my own.  When you have to spring from a dead sleep to upright, sentient and pitching a fat dog out the tent door, you discover what you are made of:  evidently I’m made of profanity. 

By the second night of camping, I'm twice as tired and ill-equipped to deal with adversity.  When I heard the hourly shrieks that many Daddy Long Legs were upon my person, it was twice as disorienting as it would have been the first night.  My resistance was down.  By the way, they were not my shrieks.  I can reason my way out of my own fear, but I cannot reason, bribe or threaten a 9-year-old out of hers.  I tried for several hours.  Eventually, I walked her to the bathhouse for a tete a tete, and said, "Okay, I'm going to write a dollar amount on this paper; you tell me what it will take to put you back in that tent tonight.

But you can’t buy trust.  So finally, you just add her to the 14-inch-wide cot, along with you and your fat dog with the s’mores hangover, and try to rest.  Mostly you lie pie-eyed like three knives in a drawer, pretending you don’t know your husband, who's wearing earplugs, is faking sleep.
Because then you would have to kill him. 


"How do you know it's mine?"
"Don't say 'it,' say 'baby,' and what do you think - it's Simon's?  Simon doesn't even read."
A grunt.
A sigh.
A scratch in the dirt.
A tap of an ash to the ground.
He looks up.  He looks down.  He juts his chin, out in out in straining to see down the lane.
Trying to make out his newly wrecked future.
Another sigh.  He knows she's right.  He remembers the night, the party, the afterparty, the dust the dirt.

He smiles slightly remembering before his face falls again, and he says, "Okay, fine.  Just tell me your demands."
She frowns and hawks her voice with indignation.  "You should know.  You.  With me.
Only me.  Not Jennifer.  Not Gina.  No one.  Ever again."
More sighs, more chin jutting.
More ground scratching.
He turns to go, but looks back over his shoulder.
She says, "What're you waiting for?  Might as well go break the news to your old biddies."
He shuffles away, all strut gone from his walk.

With smug satisfaction, and a dab of self-righteousness, Alyssa repositions herself over her egg.  Then raising her bottom up, smacks down hard, harder than a mother would, once twice three times. Criiiiiiiiiiiick it breaks and splits into two perfect halves.  The inner walls perfectly slick, eastery-plastic, hollow and empty.
Her red-ribbed feet tuck each half carefully under the edge of the nest.
Out of sight.
For now.
Never know when he might need another lesson in fidelity.

banjo birthday song

sometimes you make up songs for strangers bc their friend pays you in Skittles.

yesterday the kids tried out for a talent show.
yesterday I submitted something to McSweeney's.
let's just say that afterward, each of us was regretting parts of our performance. I'd spotted a mistake - they'd wanted certain things to go differently.
later I was walking around the house hissing under my breath at myself, "jack ass. stooopid. dammit. stoopidjackass."
they were basically doing the G version....
so we had a conference.
I said, "listen. we are BRAVE. we made something. it was fun. whatever happens, that doesn't get undone. we made ART, dudes. and sometimes trying things helps your friends be brave and try things."
and it was one of those moments when you tell your kids things, and you are forced to question whether you live them.
but then you are encouraged to live them.
and then you realize you mostly don't know jack and you are learning almost everything along with your kids, and that is good, but scary bc you realize once again,
the hospital will let almost ANYone go home with a baby, regardless of your qualifications. I knew they should've screened me better.

know thyself...then go sit next to someone different (i heart introverts)

I like introverts.
I'm attracted to them.
I like to force my way into their happy cocoons-
although I'm afraid I might repel them the way a north pole magnet makes another north pole magnet scoot away from it.  I know it seems counterintuitive, since an introvert and extrovert should attract like north and south pole magnets.  But you know what they say about science...
only the minotaurs are allowed to understand it.

These days, there are a lot of books on the power of introverts, and I believe all of them.  Okay, I only read one.  Okay, it was only a article in a magazine.  But I live with two introverts, so I do constant home study.

In addition, and I know these seem totally different, I'm also I'm drawn to those blogs, magazines and art that (in my mind at least) reflect what I like about introverts.  I like simple calm images that don't have a lot of noise or clutter around them.  I want to climb into them and soak up their chi and what not.

The same is true for me at home with my two human examples.  When they are sitting reading or watching tv, if you need comfort, you can sidle up to them, sit down, and just quietly exist.  You can soak up their quiet energy.  I just realized that sounds very parasitic.  And maybe it is.  If you meet my introverts, don't tell them why they suffer from chronic lethargy please, because the system is really working for me.

In contrast, if you sidle up to either of us extroverts in the home, regardless of whether we were engaged in a book or show, we will turn and interact with you.  Picture the Venom suit in Spiderman.  Know how it moved and stuck like tar to whomever touched it?  Well, picture us peeling ourselves out of our book and onto you.  If that's too dark for you, just picture trying to clean up glitter.  It's on the table one minute, but it's perfectly content to move to your hands.  And stay and stay with you.

Maybe I'm being too hard on the extroverts.  We must have a purpose.  There has to be more to us than interrupting Sunday school lectures, heckling stand up comedy sets, and "helping along" other people's anecdotes.  Are we really just here to invade the introverts' bubbles?  Maybe we need an introvert to write the other side of this.  I mean, c'mon.  Wouldja?  Wouldja?  Wouldja?  Whatcha doin'?  Can't it wait?  Wouldja?  Wouldja?