Poop

I wrote a couple of blog posts between the time that my father-in-law passed away and when I finally felt ready to write about it. I didn’t publish those posts because it seemed… trivial? Insensitive? To write about anything else before acknowledging his passing.

I wrote another short fluff piece about a week after finally putting some feelings down about our loss. It was obviously time to schedule these drafts before they stacked up on me.

I picked my favorite and scheduled it for the next day. Another I scheduled a couple of days later. Before scheduling the last one, another draft caught my eye. It had a title – not all my drafts do. This title was simple and succinct:

Poop

I wonder what that post says…

So I clicked on the draft, which I had started a year earlier and that’s all it said. Poop.

I never start with a title. I almost always tell the tale and then struggle for the right title. But this time I apparently had just the right attention-grabbing headline… and no story.

Wonder what I had in mind?

Who knows?

Whatever it was, I’m sure I was full of s**t.

ba-dum-dum… ching!

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. I’ll be here all night.

No really, I mean it. I’m sitting in my bed typing away at a laptop. I don’t even have to get out of bed to turn off the light.

Advertisements

It’s Been a Month Since…

It’s not writer’s block. I don’t think. I’m honestly not sure what it is. Reticence? Exhaustion? Whatever it is, the end result is that I’ve written one blog post in the last couple of months. I’ve composed several in my head, but not nearly as many as when I was in my prime.

I don’t feel I’ve had a lot of opportunity to sit down at the computer, but even when I have, blogging has seemed an overwhelming task better left for another day. Or another… or another… or…

My husband and I accomplished a grand hiking feat in June, complete with illness and worry about death and encounters with angels along the way. Surely I could find the time and interest and energy to blog about that? But the week after was busy and then we went on vacation. I took a laptop so I could blog in the car during the 15 hour drive. It stayed under the seat until we returned home. Untouched. The story unblogged. And now I’ve told the story so many times verbally that it feels tired and uninspired.

I swore that when I returned to the computer, I wouldn’t blog about the lack of blogging. I’ve done that before. No one is interested. Just blog about the usual funny family fare and don’t mention the long drought, I told myself. Just blog like nothing’s wrong. Like nothing has been wrong.

Tonight, I sat at the table eating crackers and hummus and drinking wine and talking to my husband. The hiking story meandered through my head and another story crossed its path. I didn’t feel a strong urge to blog. In fact, the initial reaction was one of exhaustion. Maybe another day, I thought. But there was a tiny little flame back in the recesses of my brain. It was flickering, barely lit. I knew I needed to attend to it or it’d snuff out for sure. If not today, then when?

So I looked up at my husband and said words I haven’t said in a long time. “I think I’d like to go blog now,” I said. “If that’s ok with you,” I added after a brief pause. He looked at me silently before responding it was fine with him.

Sitting down at the computer, I knew the hiking story was too much. The other story would come. I could write about it. But first, I needed to explore my non-writing. It needed to have the light shined on it. It needed to be examined. If nothing else, I needed to practice my writing before trying to tell a story. Logging into WordPress brought me to the stats page, where it told me: It’s been a month since A Roller Coaster Day was published.

A month. Feels like a lifetime.

If you are reading this, thanks for humoring me. Ignore the love handles spilling out of my writing work-out clothes. I’m out of shape, but I’m here again at the gym. Sweaty and out-of-breath but here nonetheless.

Hello, It’s Me.

Hi. Remember me? I’m the person that used to write here. In fact, I used to write here a lot. You might have even gotten a little tired of me – I don’t know. But it’s been 2 1/2 weeks since my last post and at least 5 weeks since the one before that. I thought maybe you might have forgotten about me.

I thought of some really great stories over that 5 weeks. I did, really. Do me a favor, okay? While looking at the screen, chuckle softly under your breath. Go ahead – I’ll wait. Just a light little chuckle will do.

Now grow it into a loud guffaw. I just said the funniest thing in the world. Wasn’t it great?

Okay, new story. Widen your eyes. Make sure the whites are clearly visible. Let your mouth drop open. I know, right?! I can’t believe I lived through that moment either! It was so stressful! But we came out the other side. It’s all good now.

Last one. Stare in awe at the screen. Isn’t my kid wonderful? He’s indeed special. Now nod your head slowly at the wisdom I imparted on closing. The moment was so powerful for me and you see that. You see the majestic lesson I learned and you are so happy I shared it with you.

How was it? Did you enjoy the stories? See… I can’t remember the stories I wanted to tell. I’ve been trying for several days now. What I do remember are the emotions I wanted to evoke. And I have a rough idea which child each story was about. But that’s it. I really wanted to tell those stories and I feel an odd hole when I try to remember them. Since they aren’t coming back to me, I’m going to have to move on. But I hope I succeeded in making you laugh and smile and nod your head anyway. It’ll have to do.

If you are, instead, shaking your head at my pointless post… If you are wishing you could get the last couple of minutes back… then I’m sorry. I am. I didn’t mean to waste your time. I just needed to get back in front of the keyboard. And the story had to get published or it’d be just like all the other drafts sitting in my folder. So I had to do it. I hope you don’t mind.

See ya tomorrow.

I hope.

Throw Back Thursday: Facebook Flashback

I mentioned recently how much I was enjoying the look-back feature on Facebook that shows all your posts from that day in years past. It’s interesting to see how much I used to post compared to now. And how much of it I now consider drivel. Yet how much of it makes me laugh all over again.

Take August 21st, 2012. We were visiting my mother-in-law in Colorado. I hadn’t started blogging yet so Facebook was my only outlet. My husband must have been teasing our daughter about her appearance because early in the evening I posted a quote from her to him:

“I didn’t choose this face. You chose it for me.”

Then, almost two hours later, this:

Standing in the bathroom, I notice that Jane’s toothbrush is missing. “Hal, where is Sissy’s toothbrush?” He silently runs out of the room, straight to the futon, where he drops to his knees and crawls under. He emerges with the missing toothbrush and says very matter-of-factly, “Mommy, I found it under the bed. Somebody put it there. It wasn’t me.”

Not only had I forgotten that wonderfully amusing story, I had started to forget how often he said things like that. “Somebody did this thing that no one else could have done or even known about, but trust me, it wasn’t me.”

And then an hour after that:

Watching the PBS fundraiser Celtic Women concert with Jane and my husband. One of the women comments on being in America, which prompts Jane to ask, “Wait. Where are they from?”

 

Her daddy replies, “Um. Ireland. Hence all the green and the use of the word ‘Celtic’ in their name.”

 

“And the accents,” I add.

 

Then Jane explains her confusion: “But they look American.”

 

My husband: “Why, yes. They are human, just like us.”

That day, three years ago, would prove to be a formative day in my crawl toward blogging. I didn’t know it then – I was freakin’ on vacation! But my blog would come to life just eight days later. It’s grown to include other things. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. But it was originally intended to be a vehicle for this – funny stories about me and my kids.

 

On This Day Five Years Ago

I recently enabled the “On This Day” feature in Facebook. This feature sends you a notification and then shows you all your previous posts from years past that you posted on this particular day of that year. I’m in love. And I’ve got all this fodder for looking-back blog posts!

Of course, we haven’t had internet service since the big thunderstorm a week ago. Our ISP has promised to come on Tuesday. They weren’t real good at returning calls when they promised that though, so I’m not holding my breath.

Anyway, it’s hard to write blog posts without an internet connection. I refuse to use the WordPress Android app to compose blogs. And it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that we bought a wireless adapter for our (approaching ancient) desktop computer so we could hotspot one of our phones and connect to the net from the computer.

Still – it was a long and emotionally draining weekend so I wasn’t interested in writing anything even though I now had the ability. Until I got the “On This Day” notification, that is. My husband and I had just finished watching Grace and Frankie on Netflix. As we sat on the couch trying to decide whether to retire to bed, I read my posts from years past.

Eventually, I got to the “5 years ago” section and saw this:

Screenshot_2015-08-30-21-34-05

The next memory was from an hour and a half earlier and went something like this:

So I sit down to write my first ever blog post. After a brief pause, I find a good starting point. Just as I’m getting into the groove…

“Mom? Where are those capri pants we bought at the mall?”

“I don’t know. Everything I found in the shopping bags, I ran through the washer and dryer and they were in the green hamper. Don’t you have some other dress code to wear tomorrow?”

“No. Just those pants from Claire that are too tight and then those others that are too short.”

 

With a sigh, I get up from the computer and head down the hall. As I’m digging through the laundry, the boys’ door opens and out walks the youngest…

“I need to go poop.”

“Ok. But make it quick. I’ll be in to wipe you soon.”

 

I gather up all the khaki laundry and head to the laundry room. As I’m loading it, I hear crying from the bathroom. It gets louder and more intense. I see Jane so I ask her, “what’s going on?”

“He asked me to hug him so I did and then he asked for it again so I did and then…”

The rest of it is drowned out by the crying. I open the bathroom door. He’s screaming incoherently about wanting something more from sister. I recognize the cry. It’s the impossible-to-satisfy-I’m-too-tired cry. Nothing his sister does will satisfy him.

 

After some threats and cajoling and sweet talking and a trip back to the washing machine, I finally get him shuffled off to bed. All is quiet. Only a 20 minute interruption. I suspect I better get used to them.

The friends who had been encouraging me to start a blog had asked for the web address. I smiled when I read my response to them:

Not handing out the address until I’ve replaced the picture of the chess board and figured out how to remove the tagline that says “4 out of 5 dentists like this blog” and a few other important housekeeping tasks! 🙂 But the first post is done and I hope to get the address out very soon.

I was outright laughing when I saw the response from a high school friend… who actually happens to be a dentist:

I want to be one of the four out of five!

Two hours before that post (about 7:15 in the evening), I had posted that I’d done the research, picked a site, decided on a name, and figured out aliases for my children’s names. I declared that I would be creating my blog and was posting that intent so I could be accountable.

I expressed concern that my name was likely already taken. It was. This was originally just going to be “Bright Spots.” The name wasn’t available. I panicked. But that was the perfect name! Then I thought to add “my” to the front and “mybrightspots” was born.

I looked over at my husband tonight and said, “Wow. Today is the 5th anniversary of my blog. Guess I should have written a post or something. Oh, well.”

“You still can. There’s time.”

It may seem melodramatic but I felt in that moment, that I was at a fork in the road. To shrug “nah!” and head to bed with Two Dots and Words With Friends would be the first nail in my blogging coffin. Was this thing important or not? It was. I had been too tired just moments before, but now I wanted nothing more than to write.

So here I am. Perhaps boring you with long-winded Facebook posts from five years ago. But still writing. And BrightSpots? Well, I went to see what they were up to. This is what I saw:

brightspots

Heh. So I outlasted them – whoever they were. That’s ok. I think I like expressing clear ownership of the bright spots after all.

Five years ago, I was attending a different church. I was working in a different building for a different supervisor. I hadn’t learned to enjoy wine. I hadn’t invested in a regular and vigorous workout routine. My husband hadn’t either and was growing a massively long beard. My children were about to turn 10, 7, and 2. My oldest child was still in elementary school.

Now I have a child marching in the High School band. And another starting bassoon in sixth grade. In fact, our three children are at three different campuses. Our first grader has learned to sass and employ sarcasm – even if he uses it at odd times. Our sixth grader is growing armpit hair and might have the faint shadow of a mustache if you hold him under the light just right. Our high schooler thinks she might want to go away to a special academy in two years. I enjoy a glass of wine after work some nights and work out with my cleanly shaved husband almost every morning.

Our life has changed so much. But the spots are still bright. And still mine.

21 Things I Irrationally Hate

{Note: This was written in the Spring of 2014 and never published for the reasons articulated here. I’ve added a link to a not-yet-written-at-the-time-but-exists-now post but am otherwise leaving it as written then.}

 

As I’ve indicated before, I was a lone blogger for a long time. I had hundreds of blog posts out there before I had very many people outside my real-life friends paying any attention.

I didn’t engage in Writing Challenges or Daily Prompts. I didn’t troll the tags or Freshly Pressed or any of the other avenues for “meeting people” in the blogging universe.

I was just telling my stories. Period.

Folks in the blogging universe eventually started to notice me and drag me slowly into the larger picture of a blogging community rather than just a rather public way to record the stories I want to hold onto. And as I gradually woke up, I started paying attention to those people that crossed my path. And I often liked what I saw.

I’m still not very good at checking out the blogs of people who like one of my posts or subscribe to follow mine. I’m just often busy when the notification comes in and then I don’t think about it later. But sometimes, when I’m lying in bed not wanting to get up (for example), I’ll follow the links in the email just to kill some more time.

I did that recently and discovered a delightful blog post from a kindred spirit entitled 21 Things I Irrationally Hate. At the end, she asked if we, her readers, had published a similar list. No, I thought, I haven’t.

With a sigh, I forced myself to leave blog land and start my day. As I trudged into the bathroom, I thought, What are my irrational hates? And they began to line up front and center in my brain. I looked around the bathroom. There was nothing within reach for me to write with. The desire to write it down warred with my reluctance to move. The former won out and I was soon standing at a counter writing them all down.

I ended up with more than 21. Which is fine. Just because her list has 21 doesn’t mean mine has to. But in the interest of keeping a handle on things, I applied a critical eye and ultimately decided that some of my “hates” were not in the least bit irrational and I crossed them off.

So now that I’ve written nearly an entire post without getting to the subject at hand, I now present to you my 21 Things I Irrationally Hate.

1) Snoring I can’t tolerate snoring noises. From the dog. From the spouse. From the kids. Simply can’t do it. It doesn’t matter how quiet or soft or rhythmic, whether I’m trying to sleep or not; once I hear it, I fixate on it and can’t let it go.

2) The New Donut Shop in Town First off, we really didn’t need a new donut shop. There’s almost as many donut shops as churches now. That’s not what raises my ire, however. The traffic congestion I now face on my morning drive to work, though, especially in light of the fact that we already had plenty of donut shops pushes me over the edge. Did they have to build it on that intersection?!

3) Pickled Beets As a kid, I occasionally confused beets and cranberry sauce. That was always an unhappy surprise. As an adult, I still can’t stand pickled beets and really don’t like beet lovers trying to peddle them to me.

4) Grammar Mistakes I abhor bad grammar. Far more than is reasonable for any sane person. If I receive word that there is a mistake in one of my blog posts and I can’t get to it to correct it, I get antsy. When I find one in any sort of “official” publication, I go ballistic. My eye is still twitching from the pop-up window on an application that said “Their are still windows open. Do you wish to continue?”

5) People Wearing Jeans or Perfume in the Backcountry Please. We are here to hike. And sleep under the stars. And experience nature. Quit screwing that up!

6) Losing Our Internet Connection Living in the country means this happens a lot. It’s not like there aren’t plenty of other things that could be done that don’t require internet service. Still, once it’s gone, I simply can’t wait to publish that blog post or watch that show on Netflix.

7) Facebook’s Sorting Criteria I have no idea how Facebook determines what is important for me to see. I really wish it would just leave it all in time order. That way, I can scroll until I see something I’ve already seen and know I’ve missed nothing. The Android Facebook app is even more baffling than the basic website.

8) Sweet Pickles Actually, not just any sweet pickles. Sweet pickles masquerading as dill. There is simply nothing worse in the culinary world than crunching into what you think is a dill pickle only to taste that icky sweet pickle taste.

9) Unsorted Laundry in my Kids’ Drawers No matter how many times I tell them to sort their pile of folded laundry, no matter how many times I clean out their drawers and dictate which articles go where, they always mess it up. It absolutely infuriates me when they say they can’t find something and I open the drawer to see that everything from shirts to pants to underwear and pajamas have been tossed higgledy-piggledy into the drawer.

10) Driving on Road Trips This is my husband’s job. I’m sorry, but it is. I do not like that he makes me share this burden. I mean, really. It’s my duty to sit in the passenger seat and read or sleep. Not his. What’s he thinking?

11) Slow Accelerators on On-Ramps Speaking of driving. I get quite irate when I get behind someone that does not understand that the objective of the on-ramp is to get your car up to, or at least close to, highway speeds before you reach the highway. I’ve been known (if no one is behind me) to come to a complete stop when I realize I’m behind a hopeless snail, thus allowing me time to properly accelerate once they get out of the way.

12) Premature Deccelerators Approaching Off-Ramps Similarly, I despise people who begin to slow down on the highway prior to actually getting on the off-ramp. People! 99% of the off-ramps are specifically designed to allow you enough time to go from highway speed to access road speed on them. Please don’t jump the gun!

13) My Right Pinky Toe I’m not kidding. I don’t know what’s wrong with it, just that it gives me problems. The nail isn’t like the ones on all my other toes. I think the bone is turned slightly too. It’s like it’s twisted slightly to the outside – imagine someone with bowlegs. That’s what my toe reminds me of. It’s not that noticeable to look at but it makes wearing certain shoes uncomfortable. And it always waits until I’ve purchased said shoes before it indicates there’s a problem.

14) Poop There’s several things about poop that I hate. First, I’m really, really tired of wiping my five year old’s bottom. Really. I’m also tired of the two older children suddenly realizing they need to poop a couple of minutes into a task I’ve given them. Oh, and then, the teenager with the ipod in particular will spend half an hour or more on the toilet. And if I poke my head in to tell her she’s taking too long, she’ll exclaim, “Mo-om! I’m trying to poop!” It’s like throne time is non-questionable. I simply must accept their prolonged attempts to relieve themselves. Of waste product, and of responsibility.

15) Exercising Without Entertainment Bo-oring! Give me a book and I’ll walk the treadmill or ride the stationary bike. Give me a movie and I’ll run on that treadmill. Deprive me of both and I’ll hate every minute of it. Hate it.

16) Janitors Who Fail to Properly Stock Toilet Paper This will be its own post some day soon. I can’t stand it when janitors take out the almost finished roll from a double dispenser and stack it on top for me to use instead of waiting for it to empty (there is another one in the dispenser, after all). {edit: Ironically, the toilet paper post became reality long before this list did.}

17) People Who Use Toilet Paper Wrongly I’m still talking about double TP dispensers in public restrooms. In order for the janitors to even be able to stock properly, people need to always take paper from whichever roll is smaller. Otherwise, we end up with two very small rolls instead of one empty and one full, and then the janitors are forced to make me angry by stacking the rolls.

18) Forgetting to Put the Laundry in the Dryer Something’s wrong with our dryer. It takes a very long time to dry. So if I forget to move the laundry over to it, it delays the whole process when I prepare to start a new round. Even worse is when I put it in the dryer and fail to start it. Then, I’m ready to move the next load over, but – surprise! The previous load is still wet! Then my whole plan is thrown off.

19) Inaccuracy I’m not talking about lying. I’m just talking about people being inaccurate. About anything. I can’t help myself. If we agree that we are going to do X, then Y, then Z, and you then relate to another friend that we will do X, Z, Y, even if the order doesn’t matter, I’ll correct you. If you tell someone we saw a green car and I know it was blue, I’ll likely interrupt your tale to correct the color. Even if it’s not integral to the story. This extends on into areas of truth that are legitimate areas to insist on accuracy, but the drive for everything to be right is completely irrational.

20) Public Lore That Is False Oh, my gosh, this drives me crazy! “Al Gore invented the internet”… “Woman sued McDonald’s because she didn’t know coffee was hot”. The fact that Al Gore never claimed to invent the internet and the poor old woman was severely burned by excessively hot coffee and only sued when McDonald’s refused to cover her medical expenses is lost on most people. This stems from #19. I feel the need to correct stuff like this All. The. Time. Does it really matter if Joe Blow thinks the McDonald’s lawsuit was frivolous? Yes! To me, it does. Even though… really… it probably shouldn’t…

21) Internet Comments I have friends who love reading the comments on news articles. They are greatly amused by the wealth of idiocy on display. I can’t stand them. There are three types of comments I can’t stand – for different reasons. There’s the angry/hateful/judgmental ones; those are the people who can’t imagine anyone else having a different opinion and feel the need to beat down everyone else. I think hatred of them might just be rational. Then there’s the clueless people; those whose comments illustrate that they simply haven’t read the article. Or have poor reading comprehension. I should ignore these people but I can’t (see #19 and #20). Then there’s the people who comment on tragedies with some variation of “Praying!” or “Prayers coming from Dallas!” Hating these comments is completely irrational because they are probably nice people who mean well. But those comments have always struck me as a bit pompous. Announcing prayer is not necessary for its success. I don’t think the people being prayed for are likely to see the comments in order to take comfort from all that praying being tossed around. So it strikes me as people who want to advertise to everyone else that they are good Holy people. And that annoys me. I often wonder how many of them actually stop to pray before rushing to the next story to react strongly to.

And there’s my list. What about you? What do you irrationally hate? Overly long and rambling blog posts about nothing? 😉

My Year Lurking on the Sidelines

I currently have 30 unpublished drafts in my WordPress repertoire. The most recent is less than two weeks old; the oldest is approaching three years. Some of them are unfinished, and at this point likely never will be. Others are just waiting for me to hit “Publish”. Not even I can articulate why the delay.

There’s one that’s been haunting me though. You see, well over a year ago, a blogger followed me. I got an email from WordPress telling me so and I took its advice and followed the link to one of her posts, which I subsequently really liked. It stuck with me and I ultimately wrote a response post.

But I never published it. See, it was a list kind of thing. Her list had been short and succinct and funny and entertaining and insightful to her personality. My list was, I think, funny and entertaining and definitely insightful to my personality. But it had not been short and succinct. It was bloated and overstated. This in and of itself was insightful to who I am, but it bothered me. So I planned to revisit it and edit it down to something better. That was early April 2014. I edited it some more a month later but was still unsatisfied.

Then something unexpected happened. She started talking about legal troubles, her fight coming to an end, she’d be going to jail. This floored me. This beautiful soul? Going to jail? How can that be? She’s so open, so full of light. This is wrong.

You don’t actually know her, I reminded myself. You don’t know anything about her. Maybe she did do this thing or maybe she didn’t. You just don’t know.

My emotions were in a strange state. Here was a person I didn’t know but still, oddly, had come to care about. I wasn’t interacting with her on her blog – just reading her posts. She wasn’t interacting on mine. We had no relationship, yet I was distressed.

And it clearly seemed like the wrong time to publish my list response to her list. She had bigger problems than things she “irrationally” hated. So I sat on it. And continued to read about her troubles.

Eventually, she went to jail. Her husband posted on her blog periodically about how she was doing. He gave an address for people to write to. So many people were supportive and loved her. It was heart-warming.

I should mail her a print-out of my blog post, I thought. That might brighten her day a bit. Maybe. To know that even a stranger cares. But life is often busy and selfish. I never mailed the post. I thought about her often, but the kind thoughts of strangers does a person zero good if they are unaware of the thoughts.

And then tragedy struck again. Her husband died suddenly and unexpectedly. I don’t recall how the story got out. By then, I had become friendly with folks who all seemed to love this blogger very much. The pain I felt at her husband’s death was real. It didn’t feel like the abstract pain you feel when you hear news of distant death. I felt like a beautiful bird was being weighted down and it simply wasn’t right.

Still, I didn’t mail the post. To mail it then in the midst of all that grief seemed shallow and insensitive. Who wants to talk jovially about irrational hates at a time like that. Besides, who was I to her?

Then, all those mutual friends began to spread the word.

Rarasaur had a release date.

An internet parade of celebration began.

I smiled.

I didn’t feel like I had a right to be part of the celebration. That might seem strange to some, but I had happened upon her too late to develop a relationship before. I wasn’t her friend, virtual or otherwise. She wasn’t mine. She had simply been someone I admired, or whose writing I’d admired, or both. She was someone I had sensed a special spark in, someone I had hoped to get to know better.

And now she was out.

And I was glad.

Not because I could now attempt a relationship, but because she deserved to be out. She deserved for something to go right. She deserved to heal and to return to those people who loved her. And I’ve been enjoying all the grace and beauty I’ve seen from her since.

So here I was today, trying to remember all the blog posts I’d composed in my head over the last week or two, and the only one I could remember even an inkling of was this. To welcome Rara home. And finally share my list. As my silly, inconsequential way of welcoming her back and telling her that she meant something even to people she didn’t know were watching.

The list needs some touch-up. It’s nearly a year and a half old, after all. But I’ll share it soon. Not tacked onto this long post though. It already has its own long-winded intro and doesn’t need another. I’ll add the link here when it’s up though.

Welcome home Rara.