I am the author of my own sense of helplessness.

I heard three women talking today, they were people who were actively in the moment trying to do good things for dogs in need of adoption locally.  Coincidentally, we adopted one of our dogs from them, and I am not the biggest fan of the organization but the dog we got from them does resolutely come to cuddle the crying – and that is a good thing.

Anyway.  The three women were doing good for dog adoption and simultaneously being so hateful.  Angry at backyard breeders, angry at people who don’t know that the best language is “are those dogs for adoption” instead of “are those dogs for sale”.  Just hurt and angry and broken hearted because they love dogs and other people don’t behave the way these women know they should.

I wanted to tell facebook all about it.  I wanted to be correct and unchallenged in my opinion without triggering any change or expressing my opinion in front of someone else who might have a counter-factual.

Just like I’m sure that people know where to pee.

Just like I’m sure that Brexit is strange, and seems to have gone the wrong way.

Just like … and just like … and just like …

What was different this time is that the humans who were endangering the likelihood of finding loving homes for the three pitties they had with them (one of them white, with a brown spot over one eye and ears that did the thing that makes them 100x cuter) because anybody would have to interrupt the deluge of hatefulness to ask about the dogs were 300 yards away from me.

I will admit, I was still a little … like I get … after an exceptionally well done Vlogbrothers video.  This one to be exact.  Go ahead – I’ll wait.

Hank Green Reminds Me (lovingly) that I have agency

So yeah.  And there next to the pasta sauce I start trying out ways to say the things in my heart to the women who are doing good works for adoptable dogs.

Then the real revelation happens.

I need to do this all the time.

My local bookstore is doing a drive for LGBTQI kids, they are going to send the books to Orlando – I asked for recommendations (they had some) and then  (with their help) realized the book I just finished was a good one.  I did something.

I also have a card I intend for (but haven’t yet sent) the hospital which took many / most of the Orlando victims because the professionals who went head to head with the wrath of that man need recognition.

What if – before I let myself post / repost / like / share /❤  or whatever else … what if I DID something first.  A real thing.

 

I think I’m going to try it.

 

You never know what will stick, not really.  My mom said something to me in the middle of the night when I was in high school, I felt dramatic and wrought over a boy I adored and was ready to go all “Say Anything” over the whole thing.  She said, “It isn’t whether they say yes or no, but the asking that changes the relationship.”  I waited – then I didn’t wait anymore.

I was in college in a multi-day rage over every slight ever committed by anyone I’d ever known.  Hissing and spitting and cursing all the evils.  My mom said, “If they entire world is being an asshole – it might be you.”  This one has morphed over the years and now as a little cousin named “If they were smart and thoughtful yesterday they still are today – you just can’t hear it yet”.

There are more, there always are, and we each have our own.  I see my friends with the phrases that have gone with them through their lives, seeing the new ones get incorporated.  How we view our power, as told to us by those we keep closest.  The glee, or horror, to realize a moment’s comment has become a phrase for someone we love.

I know I can’t control what snippets of my voice my kiddo will take forward.  When he stands in the mirror evaluating his worthiness for the job, or the person, or the moment.  When he goes to bed at night after a terrible mistake, and who he’ll choose to be in the morning when he gets on his feet.

I don’t know what I would say if I WAS going to script those moments.

Although I often saw my dad enraged at power tools and lumber, I only remember him being angry with me once.  It doesn’t matter what he said (I honestly don’t remember the words) but I can see all of it.  Alternatively, I can’t remember an exact situation where he said, “atta girl” but that is what I hear when I need it.

I’m melancholy today a little, dad’s birthday is coming, and Memorial Day, and Father’s Day.  I’m thinking about the voices that linger and the messages they send.  I hope, I think, in the end, that kiddo knows that trying is worth it.

 

 

I’m a swearing parent, and as such the first time my son delivered a perfect swear (both in inflection and situational awareness) it was perfect and funny.  He was less than 2. We laughed.  He did it again.  It quickly wasn’t a rewarded behavior, but that first time – it totally paid off.

I think the reward of the dramatic and surprising is how we got to this moment in time regarding the election.  For my WHOLE LIFE we have raced away from nuanced policy discussions and towards absurd accusations, lying, and media grabbing attention.  In terms of money and access the foxes are guarding the hen house.  It feels far away and out of my control.

All I can do is vote, and that feels useless.  It feels like sand against a tsunami.

I need to do more.

If our next president is a two-term president, they will finish up as my son is 17 and preparing to register for selective service, go to college, work … the decisions that happen now will make a difference.

I need your help.

I need you to vote.  I don’t care for who, I need to understand where the nation is going and the best way to do that is for each of us to vote.  If my candidate wins, then the shape of the work of our nation looks one way.  If the other candidate wins, then the shape of the work of our nation looks different to me.

Policy over personality.  I don’t want our president to be friendly at dinner, or beer worthy, I want them to be contemplating the world and our place in it.

I won’t shout in public.  That never changed a mind, and maybe nothing will change your mind (I doubt anything would change mine) – but I need to understand WHY people in my nation are behaving the way they are, because that shapes the work for the next years.  This is more nuanced than a Twitter mic drop or a Facebook meme.  So much more important.

It is our nation.

My intention –

I will not make fun of my fellow citizens about their politics anymore than I would about their hobbies, appearances, or taste in music (which is to say – you do you man).

If I am in conversation with someone whose politics surprise me, or are in opposition to my own, I will ask a question to learn more before I do anything else.

My social media intention is to stay policy and fact driven.  Just because it is funny or sassy doesn’t mean (and in some cases expressly DOESN’T mean it adds to the conversation).

I will find a way to be active on election day to ensure that it is possible for people to vote.  I don’t know if that means election judging or driving or what – but there will be something I am ACTIVE in, that I DO to try and make it possible for every citizen to be heard.

 

 

I’m thinking a lot about hobbies, the modern era, and how lucky we are to be alive right now.

 

My son loves Minecraft.  He watches videos every chance we give him.  He talks about it and makes up worlds around it.  He imagines himself with the big Minecrafters talking as peers and friends.  He plays it, and today in the office supply store (getting a mouse to further his endeavors) he eyed the “gaming” headsets, keyboards, and mouses (yes, they are different) with awe and aspiration.  They would make him better, cooler, faster, more big league.  A tournament is starting this weekend and he’s going to participate, he has agreed to 30 minutes of practice every day while the tournament is happening.

If you substitute in the hobby of your childhood – 4H, baseball, scouts, dance – that thing you LOVED when you were seven then it sounds like a different voice than the one that says –

Screens are the enemy, when I was a kid I was dirty.

He does go outside, to have epic mental Minecraft adventures.  He does get dirty AND his imagination builds worlds.

I have engaged in seven major “fandoms”in the past few years: Vlogbrothers, Glee, Doctor Who, Sherlock, Welcome to Nightvale, Hedwig, and Hamilton.  I watch episodes, fan cuts, I read all berserk manner of fanfic, I like reading other peoples ideas and sometimes share my own.  The first time I started the list of my fandoms I started with three.  It grew from there.

For a long time I didn’t identify that as a hobby (I’m not quilting afterall) but I don’t watch ANY other television or follow any other Broadway shows in the same way (except maybe Fun House, I could get behind that pretty hard I think).

I don’t click through Netflix or Amazon, I am precision in the way I spend my media time – so maybe fandom is a hobby.

I’m not sure.

Here is what I do know.

I want my son to feel seen, and what he tells me in THESE moment of the spring of 2016 is YES. He will go outside.  YES. He will go to scouts.  YES. He will go to Canopy.  YES.   He will unload the dishwasher.  YES.  He will take his shower and rinse the soap out of his hair.

But if I want to know his soul.  IF I want to be where he is.  IF I want his eyes to sparkle, his voice to quicken, and his pulse to race then I have to know the only way to get there –

Is to ask about Minecraft.

 

 

IMG_1025.JPGDinner with my dad when mom was at work is, for the most part, an unremembered thing. We ate food flavored food and I really don’t know what it was most of the time.  What I do remember and attribute to him is the meal anchored in one plate and Ritz crackers.

So – what you do is – take a whole roll of Ritz crackers (the long ones, not those rookie “stay fresh” rolls) and rummage around in the fridge and spread out on a plate everything that makes sense to put on a cracker.

Peanut butter

Deli Meat

Cheese

Liver sausage

Jam

Whatever

Then you sit down and eat it until you are done.

This isn’t that — but it sort of is.  In a new day and age, my son and I wander through our normal grocery store and try cheese “washed in Merlot” with oatcakes, we already have dates at home, they have that strange fruit and nut bread that you bake at home and tastes great with butter if you can get it cooked through and not  burned.  There is left over mince paste from dinner a few days ago that would match.  My dad would eat pretty much anything we put in front of him (a lifetime of smoking pretty much did away with a nuanced palate which worked to my advantage from time to time), but I doubt that he ran into any of these things naturally.  Still, the meal will be mainly sweet and cheesy – he would approve.

As part of the Dad Series of races this year, I was scheduled to run in Cincinnati this weekend but it then life happened and it made more sense to not go.  Still,  I was trained up for a half marathon and desperate to reset my training which has struggled in recent months.  The plus side of running a half marathon is the week before and the week after you basically don’t run much and you eat a lot.  So moving the “race” forward a week seemed like a good plan.

My husband and son “crewed” for me and cheered me on in 7 different places that morning.  I took 12 minutes of my October time.  I’m recovering right now with fancy cheese and bread.

This isn’t that – but it sort of is.  Both in my actions and my husband’s there was a moment of “well, expletive.” and then moving onto new plans and adaptations.  I didn’t run in a race that I assigned to the Dad Series specifically for the words “flying pig” but instead used what I had and did what I could and loved and was loved by my favorite guys.

I’m ok with that.

 

 

 

 

FontCandy (11).png

 

 

I’m spending a lot of time out of town this month, some of it has been planned and some has been spontaneous but in the end it just is a bunch of time that I’m not at home.

 

One of the things that it is sharpening for me is the parts of my life which I show up for without reserve.  When the call comes I start moving in that direction (in this case, home to my mom, and she is fine).  I’m grateful that my family and workplace see me zooming out the door and call behind, “let us know what you want us to do ….”.  It helps.

As is always the case when things start getting hectic, I have to look around and see what I can put down as I pick up other things.  Sort out the things that need to stay, apologize for the rest and pick up the things that need it.

Things I have put down:

The Flying Pig half marathon.  I’ll still do the distance that day, but in Athens because I cannot imagine being away from home for another 3 days.

Handstand class.  I’m having a good time in that class, but Sunday afternoon I’m often not home and Wednesday nights I’m just so tired.

Cross – training in general.  Honestly.  Just not enough hours, and I can’t trade a minute of sleep.

On the upside, things I have picked up:

I now have a specific spot I park at my airport.

I crap ton of Illinois time, which has been good in some ways.

A different sense of what my life work is.  In a good way, that will take a long time, and if someone wanted to pay me for As so that I could go to school forever that would be fine.

Good stuff, slightly crazy, super busy.  I miss ya’ll and hope to see you soon.

 

I was at a conference for a couple of days last week.  It was filled with people saying things I enjoyed, and things that challenged me in comfortable professional ways.  It was nice.

My mom was in town last week.  She and I went to dinner and we talked about things including life and professional conferences.  There was this moment where she and I got to the same conclusion at the same moment.

I slipped out of phase.  I felt like I’d been through a Star Trek transporter with only 95% of me coming out the other side.  5% has been in ideas, implications, questions, paths, twists, turns, excitement, fear, confusion.

I took Friday off because it was beautiful, it was spring break for my son, because I was out of phase and that wouldn’t stop until I got it out of my head and onto giant sticky notes on the wall.  In working through one idea, there was another.

I sent my mom the list of the three advanced degrees I thought would make it easier.  I started bainstorming ways that maybe I wouldn’t be $9B in school debt, ways I could get smarter faster.

I love this part of my brain.  I feel sorry for people around me when I can’t even articulate what I’m thinking about but I know that it will gel or drift away if I just let it settle for awhile.

I don’t know if it will be real.  I’ve thought of a lot of stuff over time that had this feel wrapped around it.  Sometimes I’ve made it.  Sometimes other people have made it and I’ve seen it in stores 18 months later by coincidence.  Sometimes it is just a wayward jaunt.  Sometimes it is a stepping stone on the path I’ve traveled for a long time.

I have the urge to build.

It is a good phase, no matter how long it lasts.

 

Our dogs enjoy a good wide open run from time to time and our yard (and their willingness to respond to simple commands) isn’t conducive for a big run.  To make it work we have started going to a local dog park, the chained off yard of the local VFW.  It works out ok for the most part.

Today we went and briefly thought we would have other dogs there, a car pulled into the VFW parking lot but pulled off in the other direction.  There was a lot of honking later on and then I quit thinking about the car.

Five minutes later, I noticed the blue car again.  There was an old man, a couple of cats on a stone wall, and I intuited that the honking had been to call the cats to dinner.  When the man was finished he got in the car and pulled slowly towards us.  He jokingly asked us if we needed cats.

Chatting with him for a couple minutes we learned a few things.  He wore O2 but was still the driver, his wife was sitting next to him looking bemused.  He had noticed the cats a couple of years ago, abandoned and living near the VFW, and he had been back every day since to make sure they had dinner.  He also was the man who wanted the dog park to exist; his daughter had made the sign that let me know it was a park and a friend of his had helped put the fence in.  It was his dog that had inspired the park.  He still got a bit quieter when he talked about his black lab who loved to sniff the edges but never had the all out bolting run the man had hoped to see.

As they pulled away our dogs (and especially Oliver who is absolutely beautiful when he runs) took off across the park in their prettiest run.  It may be that the man noticed, or that with his age makes him cautious when he turns — I like to think he saw the running dogs — because he waited awhile before they pulled out.

Most of the men I’ve cared deeply about in my life loved their animals and all of the sentimentality of men, and old men, and animals all showed up all at once.  It has been sitting in my chest heavily for a couple of hours now, and I keep thinking about Hank Green.  Hank is a Vlogbrother and a man who I like from a distance, his dog Lemon (a retired racing greyhound) died this week.  He made a post about it.  He talked about the sadness that just is.  The crying, not for a reason, but because it is just crying.

I saw an old picture of my dad laughing today and it made me smile.

I saw an old man today that loved his dog so much he made a park a for it, and the dog loved it for totally different reasons.

I watched my guys with our dogs.

Hank Green had a greyhound (as I have had in my life, and as my dad did for a long time) and now Lemon is dead and Hank is sad.

So, in my chest is a sadness that just is.

So mid-February in the south means that you’ve basically made it through whatever “winter” you are going to have.  It is the equivalent of mid-March in Illinois, you know there is another day or two (or week) of crap weather but basically the corner has been turned.

The end of winter is when my New Year’s daydreams, or goal words, or whatever need to start up or pack up.  My mid-40s have taught me that a lot of my life is a cycle and that winter is when I want to create but often falter.

I remember a couple of years ago this was about the time of year that I wanted us to stop shouting from room to room and interrupting each other.  Last winter there were days at the beach painting fast watercolors.  This winter  I’ve missed opportunities to do things that I know keep me going (runs, good food, enough water), I’ve put off or displaced the things that help me feel on track (I have grocery shopped at Target (not even a super target – just target) for 4 weeks now).  The check engine light is on in mind – but it is the kind of check engine light that isn’t RED or BLINKING so … it is ok.

So, after a three day adventure weekend of long train rides and good company it is time to be ready for what comes next.  In the winter I daydream of creating things and get plowed under with the work of life.  This year (again, begin. again) I will work towards creating those things.

All I can do is relentlessly try.

 

 

  • The smoke detector went off while I made white pizza the other night.
  • Barking dog barks a lot, always has.
  • Shower curtains that are pulled closed have a new potential for mischief.
  • A friend at school was (maybe) also burglarized.

It is a tough time to be a seven year old.  The worlds of real and imagined dangers has cracked wide open and the adults don’t seem to see it the same way.

When the smoke alarm went off Dave went to silence it, I asked Jeff to open windows, I opened the door that has a screened door (coincidentally, the one that was opened during the burglary).  Jeff asked, “how do you know it is the smoke alarm?” and it is a fair question from him.  Because I do.  Because I’m in my 40s.  Because I know that there was too much olive oil and it started smoking a little.  Because when the oven is this hot it is more likely to be the smoke alarm than anythings else.  Because.

Barking dog barks a lot.  “I want to know what she is barking at.” So I send him to go look.  She is barking at the reflection in a window, or in long distance conversation with the dog down the block, or she’s tricking the boy dog to give up the delicious chew toy, or it is nothing.  Mainly it is nothing.  He is angry with her because he has assigned her the role of Alarm Dog and she isn’t magically doing what he wants.  A hundred times a week, the investigation of what she is barking at in the hopes that eventually she will be proven unworthy of the title Alarm Dog (now Alarmist Dog … that we could embroider on her collar).

The investigating officer thought maybe something good had happened, it got us talking about jewelry a little.  Jeff was trying to understand how I could be so sure *that* ring wasn’t *the* ring.  It isn’t.  It just isn’t.  I’m sure because I chose that ring, or I wore that ring every days for years, or because I just know it isn’t.

I’m grateful for all sorts of things these days, and a high school friend of mine mentioned on fb that her daughter still brings up the burglary that happened to them three years ago.  It reminds me that the real long game of this is something that I will only be privy to in the ways that Jeff chooses, that how he sorts it in his mind is his work alone.

To the burglar who changed my son’s reaction to a barking dog and a smoke detector  (no matter how transitory that reaction might be) … fuck you.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 87 other followers