During a family dinner tonight, my dad randomly turned to me and asked if I was growing my hair out. I paused, mid sentence and just stared at him – sort of wondering if he was actually aware of the fact that 1. I’ve been “growing my hair out” for 3 years and 2. that I have had such significant breakage in the front section of my hair that I legitimately look like I have a mullet. A few hours later my husband said something to me about my blog, which led to my (horrified) discovery that a draft I created nearly a year ago somehow triggered and automatically published to my blog yesterday morning. As my husband laughed at the evening’s comments, now understanding my confusion, he said “I thought it was really odd that you would publish something with so many grammatical errors”; a statement which sent me into a mental tailspin that immediately moved me to middle-of the night action, which required that I:
- Remember the web address on which my blog is housed
- Remember the password to access my blog
- Remember how to edit and create a blog
So here I am, at 1:00am, writing to you – or the currently 17 or so readers of yesterday’s post with apologies for my judgemental, disconnected, poorly written ramblings regarding persnickety, legwarmer-wearing former coworkers.
Admittedly, it’s a bit odd that I’m so humiliated that something like THAT (yesterday’s unplanned, unedited post) was published for – well, for the whole world to see. I obviously know that the whole world WON’T be reading it, but it just feels so… invasive. In many ways, I think blogs should be raw (well-written, but raw); opportunities to share thoughts and feelings and images that may otherwise feel overwhelming if said aloud, and I think I stopped writing last Spring, because that requirement… the one to be raw and honest and vulnerable… started to feel really, really difficult; and while words come easily, the art of crafting them into a story that runs like warm honey off the side of a spoon can require great effort and time, which is difficult when one is potentially struggling with a lack of inspiration.
Most of my life (after my childhood dream of becoming a garbage-collector came crashing to an end), I have dreamt about writing. To be able to put into something concrete the phrases and thoughts that flow through one’s head, meanwhile inspiring or bringing others to laugh or cry - is an incredible gift and a powerful tool… Unfortunately, however, most great (“published”) authors of which I know have either an immensely greater ratio of granola in their makeup than do I or have a significantly higher capacity for living with meager means for an extended period of time than do I… both facts which have sort of mentally inhibited me from pursuing writing in any professional or formal sort of fashion.
The serenditipitous occurence of yesterday’s accidental post and tonight’s logging in to at least correct the punctuation and grammatical errors is cause for me to consider some things anew. Literally moments before the conversation regarding my blog arose, my husband and I were talking about an inscription that lies on the first page of a book of Shakespeare writings I was given in 4th grade, which reads:
“Dear Joy, One thing that is necessary to become a good writer, is to study good writers; and no one is better than Shakespeare. Love, Pam & Rafe”
I have held on to this book of Shakespeare writing not for its content (the book is actually a publication from the 1800s that paraphrases famous Shakespeare writings into words more easily understood by children), but for that inscription. Those words, written to me, have been an incredible inspiration to me, for my whole life thus far to chase after my dreams by listening to and modeling myself after the greats… in any arena.
What’s difficult for me, as I type this now, and as I spoke with my husband tonight, is that the person who wrote those words, potentially without intending or knowing it, was writing something that provided a highway to running after that of which I dream, and now he’s gone. Tragically, gone. There’s hurt in my heart – trying to put everything together – trying to take even this and connect it with how I should study to do something better… and I’m coming up dry.
Loss is so abstract – its force is so great, yet it cannot be captured or held. Time goes, and is gone, and then it’s lost. Moments that are - instantly become were… gone. The look on a face, the sound of the voice, the opportunity to thank, to nurture, to be honest… gone – and despite efforts to grasp them with such intensity that our grip keeps these moments here with us, endlessly… they flit away, all the same, completely dismissive of our attachment to particular moments or times that exist before faces, voices, sounds become memories.
The truth, in writing, though, is that moments cannot be taken away or killed; once written, moments are made concrete through mere words – together forming a story, beckoning a sense of emotion. If poorly pieced together, words lose a reader and confuse the message, but if assembled well, they stir up a sense of ability, at times, of urgency, and follow their recipient through high times and low, a times a distant echo and at times a booming voice, urging us on to what must be the way.
I know that I’m now saying this too late… but thank you, Rafe, for putting that moment of inspiration into words, 23 years ago. I’ve held onto that moment – those words – for a lifetime; the principle on which they are based appears in messages to my children, my approach to my career and in all things personal: to become it, study it, linger over it, savor it – then go… and do it.
I know there is great value is working with people who are the opposite of me… I mean in EVERY sense – the opposite of me…. if for no other reason than to strengthen my inhibitions to keep from eyerolling and comment-making.
Don’t get me wrong: I know that I’m not exactly a prize myself, and my annoyance with others only exaggerates my lack of maturity; I know for a fact that there are a myriad of individuals who find me at least as annoying as I find them… Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I have a strong personality; in college I was called intimidating by a rooommate who hated me, I was disowned in the cafeteria by a friend who was embarrassed by my loudness and obnoxious laugh (which now, years later, in my attempt to stifle it, has come to include a snort), and I was once given a “soft” turndown to a job I wanted because the hiring manager didn’t care for the manner in which she’d seen me vocalize my opinions in social settings.
I would like to think that in the last 10 years I’ve developed better “soft skills” or social sensitivity; but I have this remaining almost Autistic-like inability to remove my eyes or mind from things that stand out beyond the ordinary and a semi-Tourette Syndrome-like issue with saying the things that I shouldn’t.
Thankfully, I’m aware of these things, however the problem is that
1.) I cannot keep myself from staring and am totally unaware of my facial expressions. The first time I was in India (during the hottest and most humid part of their year), friends told me I spent the entire trip walking around with a look on my face that said “I’m smelling vomit, urine and warm hot chocolate all mixed together.”
2.) in my effort to NOT say the first most inappropriate thing that pops into my mind, I wind up saying the second-most inappropriate thing, so instead of saying “um no, I’m not suddenly growing my hair out, I’ve been growing my hair out for the last three years and it’s basically been this length everytime you’ve seen and talked to me over the last six months, do you realize how much you’ve just insulted me by thinking that kind of lame flattery will actually work with me?” I say “No – I guess I just am done having babies because I have this habit of only cutting my hair when I’m about to get pregnant”
… I mean - seriously…WHAT?
Awhile ago, I was having a conversation with a woman who is VERY different from me. She is incredibly (painfully) detail-oriented, does not care for ambiguous situations and loves to support her arguments of seemingly trivial matters with statements like ”for auditing purposes….”. I think that normally I could appreciate the role her strengths could play, but because I had become one of those people to whom she was making such statments, I’d found myself growing in irritation. On this particular occasion, she approached me with a question (aka argument) and I braced myself for a barrage of responses to my answers that were sure to sound like “And since when are you the one that gets to make that decision?”
I felt myself clenching my jaw and glanced down as I tried compose my face in a manner that still seemed friendly, when what to my eyes should appear but apparel that seemed to have just come from the dressing room of the flighty sister of Hugh Grant in the movie Notting Hill. In addition to her standard black Jeans with black ”Shape Ups” (which elicited enough sarcasm as it was, because other than knitting and the daily walk from her car to her desk and the break area, I was not aware of any other form of physical exertion in which she participated…), above the shoes, atop the jeans, extending up to her kneew were the craziest bright orange/multicolored hairy (not fuzzy -these were definitely hairy) leg warmers I had ever seen (and this included my 3-year-old’s VERY colorful costume wardrobe). I couldn’t believe my eyes. We were in a well-heated office building – the usual “black denim” and Shape-ups were enough of an attempt to keep in compliance with the dress code but… these… they brought the outfit to a whole new level…
Audit woman began to chirp at me but I found myself completely unable to lift my eyes from her legwarmers; they were truly inventive, a definite departure from standard apparel and anything that could be defined; they were… almost creative? In my determination to NOT ask if she’d had many conversations with the Lorax when she purchased these from the Onceler, I found myself utterly unable to form any word other than yes to any of her inquiries, which made for an incredibly short conversation, and as I watched her walk away, I desperately tried to search my mind for any detail of the conversation we’d just had.
Since the legwarmer day, audit woman and I have had several interactions and I continue to be required to stretch myself to attempting to appreciate the very person who seems to hate my bend towards “doing things a new way” and continues to attempt to call into question basically anything I say. And although there are days when I am exceedingly incensed, I have this teeny tiny comfort inside at the realization that she CAN be creative and innovative, so despite her seeming hatred for me and my ways, there must be SOMEthing inside of her with which I resonate… somewhere.
I just pray it isn’t her fashion gene.
Although we’ve experienced a basically very mild Winter, the days and weeks of true Winter that we have had have been… painful (an opinion that I haven’t cared to keep silent). When my seven or three year old inquire as to why I have to ask my husband to start my car ANYtime I leave the house between the months of November and April, his standard response to them is “because Mama is afraid of the cold”… which is… well, basically true.
However awful the cold is, there are some great things it brings in the world of fashion:
- Hats… namely the ability to gracefully cover an unwashed (for like 5 straight days) head of hair with a crazy orange stocking cap that fully covers all inches of greasy hair and actually look kind of cool and edgy while walking around in the mall
- Scarves… which disguise a multitude of holiday-weight gain flaws – namely muffin-top and pouchy stomach
- Suede shoes (although, ironically, also not fans of the elements)
- Tall Leather boots (which could arguably also be successfully fashionably prevalent with much more appealing, more Autumnal weather)
In keeping with the bottom two bullets, and in an effort to avoid the impending dismay regarding the cold weather, I have spent considerable time contemplating my shoes in the recent months. By accident, I fell madly in love with Vince Camuto earlier this Winter, as a result of my recent unrelated purchases of two pairs of trendy wardrobe “staples” in the footwear department. Shortly after said purchases, I fell in love with the line’s new fragrance ::insert subtle hint to husband here::. It was only by happenstance that I realized, a few weeks ago, that all three of my new favorite things came from the same designer.
The day after I made my Vince Camuto affection connection, it snowed and I found myself out with all three slightly feverish children at a doctor’s visit, hoping for a diagnosis of something that could be killed with antibiotics. After struggling to the car from our front door and then into the clinic from our car, I was completely sweating and wondering how many people have pulled or strained at least one muscle while enrobed in slippery winter apparel and also trying to carry polyester/nylon clad small children wearing 10 pound boots.
When finally my three children and I, each wearing winter coats, scarves, hats, mittens and a total of 57 pounds winter boots were checked in with the front desk, I realized that people were actually staring at us. After checking to make sure that my very unwashed hair was tucked into my stocking cap and ensuring my coat was zipped up to my chin (thereby ensuring that the smell of my poor hygiene was NOT leaking out and attacking their noses), I was mildly annoyed by the looks and titters, which was only perpetuated by the fact that I was perspiring like crazy after the haul into the clinic and the compounding warmth of my grease and odor-hiding attire.
As I contemplated the cause for amusement of our onlookers, I felt the vent below me kick on, prompting even profuse perspiration. I wiggled my feet in my gigantic boots and wondered if I had wool/heat-induced hives on my forehead. I glanced at my kiddos who had happily strewn coats, hats, mittens, even overshirts all about the waiting room and were playing in pajamas and boots. I clomped around the waiting room in my 7,000 pound boots and grumbled silently about my perspiration and the stares… I mean, seriously, I reasoned - this is winter in the MIDWEST – people walk around looking like bank robbers all winter just to avoid frostbite while they get their mail… I had three sick kids in the middle of winter in the doctor’s waiting room and hadn’t showered in days. Everything about this image seemed completely normal to me. I glanced up at my three kids, now all mushed together in a chair, reading a book together and smiled. Despite the sweat and struggle and miserable cold and seemingly corresponding debut of viruses and ear infections, this was a moment to savor.
As I took in the scene, I glanced down to the feet of each child, gigantic in comparison with their pj-clad bodies, due to the fact they were each still wearing a unique color of rubber-toed, insulated and garishly heavy, laced boot. Although a far cry from the elegance and style I have come to love in Vince Camuto’s line, there is something indelibly beautiful and sweet about three pairs of previously summer-grubby feet turned white and clean and now covered with a version of the boots that elicit memories of my childhood.
The bitter cold of Winter is awful and terrible and downright depression-inducing, but children in snow and snow apparel is inarguably amazing and the images of them feels a lot like the life and vigor that is missing from the previously green fields and vibrantly colored gardens. Despite my Wintery and cold-weather complaints, I do not think I could ever trade the moments struggling in slippery coats and injury-inducing boots for year-round warm weather bliss; these moments in bitter cold and dreary outdoor temperatures induce discovery of life moments and images that are precious and fresh-perspective giving… amused onlookers and all.
I was 8 years old when I first had my heart broken. I had recently changed schools, had only two friends in my entire grade (both of whom had a different teacher than me) and had the biggest crush on a boy that I was convinced was the CUTEST boy for sure in my class, if not in the world.
A few weeks after we recieved our school pictures, after much of my own personal plotting and heart-drawing and fancy-name writing, I boldly walked up to my crush, who was seated atop the jungle gym and thrust out my hand, holding a wallet-size image of my face and said “this is for you.” He briefly looked down at my photo, then glanced up to me and said Read the rest of this entry
I have heard at least 10,023 times in my life that God never promises to bless us with an “easy” life if we choose to follow Him. While this statement might correct my unhealthy feelings about that to which I believe I ought to be entitled, no matter how many time I hear it, it continues to do nothing for those moments in which the hurt feels too great to bear, and life has not just become difficult, it actually starts to feel overwhelming and like He’s just altogether abandoned me.
Then there is that moment in all our lives in which we are forced to make the realization that we actually don’t get a say in the final determination about who gets to live, who gets to keep their innocence, who gets a “fair” and fighting chance to grow and flourish and become who they are inside without outside tragedy taking it from them and it’s … well… it’s horrible. Read the rest of this entry
Two mornings ago, I went to make coffee only to make the crushing realization that our coffee maker had suddenly broken. I mean – just like that – it up and left us. It was devastating and shocking… and just days after I publicly proclaimed my happy-to-be-addicted-to-coffee way of living… which I suppose qualifies it for an annulment…
Anyway… I chatted with a friend this morning as I prepared my replacement beverage, and spotting the tag hanging out of my cup, she asked “Oh – are you still on tea?” I sighed, reported my heartbreak and she responded with “oh it must be a sign”. I was too annoyed to pick up on her sarcasm (plus her dad and husband are both pastors, so I’m never really sure if she’s inadvertently passing along a message from God…), so I changed the subject.
Tonight, unable to withstand the thought of even one more minute passing without coffee, Read the rest of this entry
I was twenty years old when I fell head-over-heels in love… The kind of ‘in love’ that leaves one wanting more, brings one to feelings of fullness and leads one to a state of oblivion as to the hours passing while one sits awake, feeling all amazing-like inside, night after night.
Then, exactly 38 days ago, Read the rest of this entry
Today’s post is a continuation of material I’m calling “archives”, which are a series of journal entries and emails from previous years’ experiences. This particular post consists of one email written to my family and good friends a few years ago, when I was about 7 months pregnant with my son: Read the rest of this entry
I don’t think I could even begin to count the number of times I’ve received comments (or worse, looks) while in the grocery store, drugstore, or pharmacy that sound exactly like this: “Oh my… you have your hands full.” Of course, such comments usually seem to come when I’m either blissfully unaware of how ridiculous a scene my three children and I might be or when I’m utterly exhausted and have given in to all of my children’s crying and am allowing them all to eat of out unpurchased cereal boxes, while explaining to my almost-seven-year-old that it is NOT stealing because we are planning to pay for them, meanwhile praying that my headache subsides and that my one-year-old doesn’t choke on the handful of high-fructose-corn-syrup pellets he’s just shoved into his mouth. Read the rest of this entry
At about six months pregnant with our son, I started to really notice how difficult it was to move baskets of laundry, tantruming one-year olds and bags containing laptops (or diapers) up or down a flight of steps. Additionally, recent high blood sugar levels had resulted in my failing the screening for Gestational Diabetes, my hormone-affected hair was growing out an odd brown color in the front of my head and I had begun to find cellulite in the most unthinkable places of my body (the least of which were my upper arms, which had, infallibly, always been my stand-by best feature).
As if those things were not enough, Read the rest of this entry