The Sunday Post: Rambling on into 2017

Ever sit down to write, knowing what you want to say, but just can’t get your thoughts organized enough to write them down in a way that makes sense to anyone else? That’s kind of where I am right now. So maybe I’ll try something different with this first post of the year: just write whatever comes to mind and worry about organizing it later. Please forgive the rambling if I don’t get around to the organizing part.

It’s New Year’s Day of 2017 and I’m feeling a bit of relief that 2016 is finally over. We survived it. There were so many struggles on various fronts, at home, at work, and out in the world at large. There’s not much I can say about the presidential election that hasn’t been said already. The huge sense of doom and loss that I felt the morning after still lingers, it’s just kind of simmering on the back burner though because there are other issues demanding my attention so they don’t boil over.

As a music fan, it was a horrible year. The hits to the gut just seemed to keep on coming all year long, and then my heart broke on Christmas Day when I heard the news that George Michael was gone as well. I was a Wham fan and then an even bigger George Michael fan. I remember my boyfriend used to tell me “You know he’s probably gay, don’t you?” That never made a difference to me. I was lucky enough to see him at the first stop in the US leg of the Faith tour in 1988. Still can’t believe he’s gone.

In 2016 Doug started playing music again, as part of the acoustic duo The Adaptations. They played about a dozen shows in town last year and hope to have the opportunity to keep at it in 2017. I’ve enjoyed being a small part of that but I’ve realized that somewhere along the way I pretty much lost track of my own artistic pursuits. I haven’t written much, and I haven’t taken my camera out to continue my pursuit of capturing “the shot”. So I need to get that back on track.

IMG_5193And speaking of getting back on track, I need to return to the healthy lifestyle track that we took a little detour from last year.  Now that Mother Nature seems to be taking care of the health issues that sidelined me for a little while, I need to work on shedding those extra pounds that found their way back to my body. Tracking our food seemed to make a big difference when we lost weight so I think we’ll be going back to that. We’re considering “No Beer in 2017” as a resolution, but realize that’s probably not going to last long. So maybe we’ll change that to “No Beer in the House in 2017” and see how that works (or doesn’t). I need to get back to walking, get back to doing Zumba more than just once a week. And speaking of Zumba, I’d like to thank Kyong at Wow! Dance Fit once again for being a strong force of positive energy. Kyong and her family are moving away but leaving behind them a team ready to carry the Zumba torch in Fredericksburg. We’ll miss your smile, Kyong, and wish you well in your new home.

We’ve got to move this year as well. Again. Our lease is up in six months and we don’t know where we’ll go. But we’ve started the preparations. We’ve sold some furniture we won’t need, and we’ve got more listed for sale (anyone looking for a dining room table and chairs?) which will hopefully be gone before long. We’re trying to downsize and this time actually mean it when we say we want to live a simpler life.

Jeremy graduates in June. What’s next for him? That’s the million-dollar question. I guess we’ll see.

What else should I ramble on about? I’ve covered politics, resolutions, music, weight loss, moving, graduation. There is so much else on my mind and some of it I can’t really talk about (or write about). I’m hoping that most of those things will stop being stressors this year.

I’ve got some important steps to take in the coming days, weeks, and months. Hopefully those steps will not only help me shed some real pounds, but also lighten the load on our shoulders.Here’s to lighter loads for us all in 2017 – Happy New Year!

What’s on your mind?

That’s the prompt many of us see on a regular basis as we reach for our smartphones or computers and check in to see what’s going in the Facebook world. Today I’m home nursing a twisted knee (the result of a mis-step getting out of my fancy, low-riding car last night) and so I’m spending a lot of time on the couch with my knee propped up, laptop at my side, phone within reach, resisting (so far) the urge to binge-watch season 3 of OITNB and trying to finish my library book instead.

But I’m easily distracted these days. I’ve been surfing the web and have found myself about to go to a specific site with a purpose in mind and as I start to type in the URL I’ve forgotten where I wanted to go. I found my way over to the Daily Post and checked out the prompts to see if maybe today I could work on my writing (I posted an entry for last week’s photo challenge — check it out!).  The prompt that finally led me to start a new post was the free-writing challenge to just write for ten minutes about whatever came to mind. So that brings me back to the original question:

What’s on your mind?

Since I’m a list-maker, here’s what’s been on my mind these last few days:

  • My baby girl is moving to another state! I’m happy for my daughter as she and her boyfriend are packing up and getting ready for the next chapter in their lives and I know they will do great things. I’m going to miss them though. I’m counting on Instagram, Facebook, text messaging, and even some phone calls (I hate talking on the phone!) to keep us connected. Hey maybe I’ll even write some letters. Hope she writes back!
  • My husband is coming to work with me in a few weeks! We won’t really be working together and I may not even see him much during the day, but we’ll be driving in together, going home together, and most importantly, he will be leaving behind that horrendous commute, and as my father put it, he is adding years to his life, and life back into his years.
  • My art show is coming up soon and I need to finalize my print selections (thanks to those of you who have voted and are  helping me choose), print and frame them, and determine a reasonable price for each in case anyone actually wants to buy one. We bought some cool, old frames at a couple antique shops that I think will make a nice display when I hang them up at the restaurant.
  • That flag. You know the one I’m referring to. It’s always been controversial and it’s even more so now after the horrible shooting in Charleston last week. I don’t really have anything wise to say that hasn’t already been said better by much smarter and more eloquent writers and speakers. It is time to take it down. At least from state and other official buildings. If you choose to display a flag that you claim is only a symbol of your southern pride and heritage, I suppose that’s your right. Hopefully everything else about you won’t indicate that you might be OK with the racist association.
  • Gun control. I watched a hilarious video the other day of an Australian comedian talking about gun control. He used humor to make so many excellent points. It’s definitely worth the 15 minutes.

What else was I going to say….oh yeah I remember now:

  • Religion. I actually have so much to say and yet I’m afraid of offending someone who may take what I write personally. I am comfortable with my own spiritually and my beliefs. I don’t like being preached to on a daily basis, however, by those who can find a passage or a line in the Bible to suit a particular (and hot-so-hidden) agenda.
  • Sexuality. It’s no one’s business, right? Gay or straight, transgender or bi-sexual, it makes no difference. No one, not even Caitlin despite the way-over-the-top media coverage, is asking for your approval.
  • And on a related subject, did you see this in the news the other day? Click on the picture to read the story. I love what happens next!

I think I’ve probably already reached my ten minute goal so I’ll stop torturing you with my scattered thoughts and ramblings. So back to my book and maybe by tomorrow my knee will be ready to hit the Zumba floor again. If you’ve made it this far – thanks for reading. If you have thoughts of your own on any of these subjects, please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear what you think.

Farewell, my downtown neighbors!

Writing 101, Day Seven

After three and half years, it’s time to give up city living and return to life in suburbia. While a house in the suburbs isn’t exactly country living, it’s going to be a significant change in our lives.

We moved to our early 1900s city home with just a few pieces of furniture that Doug had acquired for his bachelor apartment years earlier (none of which are still around, by the way) and many boxes containing all our worldly possessions. Since then we have accumulated a lot of “stuff” and definitely a lot more furniture. Even so, we now find ourselves needing to buy more furniture to fit our new home and we are preparing to once again sort through our belongings to identify those that will stick around in the new place and those that just don’t “go” with the surroundings. Some things just won’t make the cut, and I’m sure we’ll find there are things we didn’t need in the old house but will need now.

There are many things we’ll miss about our current city home. And plenty more we’ll be glad to leave behind.

We will miss: our cozy living room affectionately referred to as “the conversation pit,” where we’ve had many intimate discussions and spent numerous evenings in the company of friends and family, with candles glowing and music playing on the turntable.

We will not miss: having to wrap up in a blanket during the winter, not because it makes us feel cozier and warmer, but because the room is so cold you can’t stand to be in it for long without putting on your coat.

Hate to leave behind: our front porch. We’ve spent countless hours on that porch; sipping coffee in the morning, still in our pajamas; reading a book or strumming a guitar on lazy afternoons; enjoying a late-night cocktail before turning in for the night.

And yet: many of those otherwise peaceful hours were interrupted by noisy neighbors. It seems our neighbors can only communicate in very loud decibels. And they like to do it constantly. Oh, and did I mention one of them just got out of jail?

Downtown perks: we can leave our car behind and walk down the street to a high school football game or the holiday parade.

Downtown disadvantage: everyone else thinks it’s a great idea to grab your parking space so they can do that too.

Of course, there is plenty about the new home in the suburbs that we’re looking forward to.

  • Lots more space. The new house has more bedrooms, a large deck, and a second full bathroom. These will feel luxurious. Until we have to furnish them anyway. Then they will just feel expensive. And we have to clean them.
  • A kitchen with an island and lots of counter and cabinet space. Nope – no downside here. (Except that the refrigerator in this house apparently doesn’t have a working ice maker either.)
  • This house does have a front porch too. Time will tell as far as whether its design will be conducive to whiling away the hours on our porch rockers, or whether we’ll retreat to the back deck instead. But it’s not very relaxing to watch the rain fall on a Friday night if you’re getting wet while doing so.
  • We can’t walk to the Farmer’s Market for our vegetables or to Hyperion for our morning cup of coffee, but we can walk to the pool on steamy summer days and Jeremy can walk to school. Not a bad trade-off, I suppose.

So as we fill up the last few boxes and dismantle our furniture, we are doing so with mixed emotions. We know it’s not a final goodbye to downtown Fredericksburg, but more of a “see you later”. We’ll be around. You know we can’t stay away from J Brian’s for too long.

I’m sorry my friend, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to let you go.

Writing 101, Day Four

I’m ashamed and embarrassed to admit this, but I haven’t always been a good friend. In fact, I’ve let a friendship go and essentially killed it.

The friendship I’m referring to goes back to my high school days. I’ve never had a large circle of friends. There were quite a few kids I was friendly with, but my circle of friends was fairly small. These girls and I went to the beach together, had sleepovers, went to the movies together, cooked for each other. Some of them were outgoing and had lots of other friends, some were athletic and played sports, some were brainy and quiet. But one thing we had in common throughout high school was that we didn’t have boyfriends, or dated much at all for that matter.

After graduation some of us went to college in the States, others stayed behind. I was one of those who stayed home for the first two years, choosing to attend the local junior college for my first couple of years. (Actually I don’t know that it was a choice; it was probably what my parents could afford at the time.) Anyway, those of us left behind continued to spend time together. I grew closer to one of these girls (let’s call her H).

I’m not the easiest person to get to know. I tend to hold my feelings in and I don’t share everything that’s going on in my head, or my heart. But for whatever reason, it was easier to do this with H. One of our favorite pastimes was talking about guys: who we had crushes on or who we thought was cute. I also loved arguing with her. She had strong opinions and I used to enjoy playing devil’s advocate just to see where the discussion went.

After I put in my two years at the junior college, it was time to go finish my education and I ended up in Virginia. As luck would have it, I was reunited there with two of the girls from my high school circle. Of course, I also met lots of new people and my circle of friends slowly got bigger. This circle now included guys: guys with dating potential.

And this was the beginning of the end; when I pretty much killed my friendship with H. But probably not in the way you might expect.

To be continued…


The Sunday Post: A Wedding in the Family

Yesterday was Sarah and Joe’s wedding. Seven months of planning and about two weeks of final preparations, coordination and implementation, led to a muggy, at times rainy, and then beautiful, Saturday afternoon when Sarah nervously walked down the aisle on the arm of her father. About a third of the way down the aisle I saw her laugh and relax as her father whispered in her ear. I think it was probably at that point that my eyes started to water. I tried to tell myself it was too early to start crying and ruin my makeup! (Actually, I think I started to get teary just a little earlier as my son escorted me down the aisle when the mothers were seated.)  Tears threatened to strike again as Sarah was saying her vows. Somehow, I managed to avoid breaking down in tears completely the rest of the afternoon.

After the ceremony it was time for the family portraits in the church. There were so many combinations of people stepping in and out of the picture as Sarah and Joe remained in the center of the frame as the link that connected us all.  We had pictures with parents, with grandparents, with cousins, with aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters.

I was happy to see that there were so many family members in attendance, many of them traveling hundreds of miles (or more) to be there. It felt good to be included and to have my children there with me. Jeremy, my son, was an usher and it was a role that suited him perfectly. He was so handsome in his tuxedo as he escorted the ladies to their seats, and then later as he made his entrance into the reception with the bridal party. For Allyson, my daughter, it was the first time she was able to spend a lot of time with Doug’s side of the family. It was heartwarming to see how easily and quickly they made her feel welcome and loved. We all shared several moments on the dance floor, even once or twice with Doug, and we laughed and danced and made wonderful memories.

There was only one negative element throughout the day, but it would be best to just forget about it and maybe one day when we all look back and remember the day Sarah and Joe got married it won’t even be a vague recollection. We will only remember that as Sarah and Joe said their vows, we knew they were meant to be together. We will remember the dozen or more cakes that Sarah made herself the week leading up to the big day. We will laugh as we look through the pictures of the antics on the dance floor. And we will get misty-eyed once more as we remember that Sarah never looked more beautiful, and perfect, as she did yesterday afternoon on her wedding day.

Daily prompt: moved to tears

Feeling Cranky

I’m feeling kind of cranky today. Cranky and tired. Coffee hasn’t helped, and today my granola bar seems mostly dry and taste-free. In some circles I could maybe get away with attributing my mood to hormones and “that time of the month.” But I know why I’m feeling blue.

Last night I was up late. We were having yet another discussion about my son and my parenting skills. Or was it my lack of parenting skills? Sometimes that’s how it feels: like I am totally clueless and helpless when it comes to raising my children and everyone else is so much better at it than I am.

Jeremy will be 15 in October and is a day away from finishing middle school. I’m sure all parents think this of their kids, but he really is a smart kid. That’s one of his problems. He’s been coasting through school and this year he’s hit a couple of speed bumps in the shape of teachers who won’t let him do that. He’s been struggling in Spanish (yes that is embarrassing) and Science. The problem is that he’s struggling because he’s not doing the work. Does it even matter why he’s not doing the work? I’m not sure it does.

In addition to slacking off in school, he’s lied to me, he doesn’t respect me (though he claims he does), his attitudes toward women seem to be in line with the rap beats he’s got plugged in his ears, and the only thing he seems to care about is buying basketball shoes.

I’ve tried nagging. I’ve taken everything away. I’ve tried not nagging and letting him stumble to see if he catches himself before he falls flat on his face. I was actually sort of hoping the school would make him repeat 8th grade. No such luck. I’ve debated spending the money to send him to a summer program at a military school. The objective would be to give him a wake-up call. To help him grow up and become a responsible student, and to teach him some study and work habits. But would the result just be a sullen teenager who resents me for “ruining” his summer? Would the expense of military school be constantly on my conscience as we figure out how that fits in with paying for a step-daughter’s wedding, vacations, medical bills, etc.? And would I be doing it just to send him away for a few weeks and give my poor husband, who thought he was done with child rearing, a break?

You see, that’s one of the issues I’m having too. He’s already raised his kids. His youngest graduated from college last month. He hasn’t had to live with kids in the house, even on a part-time basis, in many years. He was pretty much done with that until I came along. Now all of a sudden there’s an immature and irresponsible teenage boy in the house every other week. He’s trying to be helpful, to guide me when I need help finding the way, and to encourage me every step of the way. He’s done this every single day. But he wonders if he should back off and let me do the parenting. It’s not his child, after all. His family and friends have expressed their concern about what the struggles with my son could do to our marriage. Their concerns concern me greatly!

I am married to a wonderful man and I can’t imagine what my life would be like if our paths hadn’t crossed again. Doug has worked hard and he was looking forward to having the time to do the things he wants to do, and not just the things he’s had to do make a living and support his family. He’s ready for the draining commute and long hours to be over. And I feel guilty, like I’ve placed some obstacles in his way.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned the other parent in this scenario. Jeremy’s father is actually also full of good intentions, but even worse than me at follow-through. I’ve made suggestions for summer activities for Jeremy to keep him busy and out of trouble, but because they might not be convenient for his wife’s schedule (who doesn’t currently have a job but is planning on getting one), they get shot down.

So, what do I do? I’m having a hard time with this kid. I’ve been an easy target for him and he knows that if he just waits me out a little while, I’ll come around. The problem isn’t really just him; it’s me too. I need to mean what I say, and stick to it. I know this. I’ve said this before. I’ve said I wasn’t going to be so reasonable anymore. So why do I have such a hard time actually doing it? Why do I give in?

I don’t really expect anyone reading this to have the answers. I’m just trying to write my way through this and see if it helps me figure things out. Maybe what Jeremy and I need is a series of sessions with a therapist for the two of us, possibly even the three of us. I think the key here is that we can talk to each other (Doug and I) about this until we’re blue in the face but unless we include Jeremy in the conversation, we’re just wasting our breath. Maybe if he knew what he’s doing to his poor mother…

(I asked Doug to read this before I posted this because I always like getting his feedback, specially if he’s mentioned in the post. He thinks this post makes him look selfish. I don’t agree, but I guess I can see that he might think that. He’s looking at it from a different perspective, and that’s really one of the beauties of blogging, isn’t it? We write from our point of view but know that by the time it gets out there and read by others, it could say many different things to the readers. I would never intentionally write something hurtful about a person I loved and put it in a public forum. I know I’ve used this blog to vent my frustrations and complain, but it’s never been my goal to make someone look bad. While someone may not always be portrayed in the most flattering of lights, my purpose has always been to try to understand, to get a sense of whether anyone else has gone through the same thing. Not sure yet if I’ve managed to do that part successfully.)

The Sunday Post: Half Full

Today’s post was inspired partly by the folks at the daily prompt, asking if my glass is half empty or half full. It was mostly inspired by my husband though, who is celebrating his 50th birthday tomorrow. (“Celebrating” is not really the right word, since he would like it to just be another day.)


Happy Birthday!

But it’s not just another day, and he realizes this. The last few weeks he’s found himself doing even more self-evaluation than usual: looking at what he’s done with his life and wondering if there’s still time to do something worthwhile. Is the glass half empty or is it half full?

These days our to-do lists seem to get longer and longer and even though we keep checking things off, the list never seems to be finished. Most of these things are the trivial little things that everybody has to do: laundry, mow the lawn, get the car serviced, pick up dry-cleaning. But these things tend to get in the way of what should be playing a bigger role in both our lives: finish writing a song, play the guitar, get up early to go out and take  pictures, write more letters. We worry that we spend so much time taking care of all those little things that by the time we get them all crossed off the list we won’t have the time or the energy to work on the important stuff.

We’ve been telling ourselves that there is still time, that the glass is still half full. If we can hang in there four more years (while Jeremy goes through high school) we can then make a move in a direction that will lead to the goals we’ve set for ourselves: to live away from this I95 rat race in a creative community where we can each pursue our passions.

So what happens in the meantime? I guess the first step might be figuring out exactly where that community is and how we will pay the bills. We’re not going to be ready to retire any time soon so we will need jobs. And then we need start planning and saving so we can actually make it happen.

I know that the glass is half full. I think I’m still just taking my first sips. Hang in there with me, Douglas — there’s a lot more to come and you haven’t even seen the bottom of the glass yet. I hope you have a wonderful birthday and I look forward to sharing many more birthdays, years, and happy times with you. And with that, I raise my glass to you. I love you. Cheers!