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.

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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.

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.

Inside Out

So here’s my dilemma.

I’ve got this post I wrote a bazillion weeks ago. Ok, not really. I wrote it back in May but with all that’s happened since then, it feels like a bazillion weeks ago. It’s about my adopted state of Texas and one of its quirks. I should really read over it and publish it already. It won’t be relevant if I wait too much longer.

But then there’s how Sunday morning went and I really want to tell that tale – about how I really wanted to stay in bed and cuddle and listen to the rain but dragged myself to church instead. Because I had to, more than wanted to.

Oh, and then there’s my thoughts about my step-dad that brought me to tears during the Father’s Day worship service. But my dad-dad reads my blog and I don’t want to hurt his feelings. Could I write it in a way that would convey the emotion I was feeling but not hurt dad’s feelings?

And then there’s all the reading I’ve been doing about Charleston and all the different perspectives and my overriding feeling that we just aren’t ever going to progress to some place valuable as a nation. I want to write about that too but… Nah. I know for sure that I don’t have the energy to plumb those depths.

So what’s a woman to do?

I think I’ll talk about movies. I’ve seen some doozies lately. And by that, I mean really, really good ones. Seriously.

Several weeks ago… well, sometime after I wrote that post about Texas that I’ve yet to publish… I saw Mad Max: Fury Road with my husband. I was quite simply blown away. Blown. Away. That movie was perfect. There’s lots of good blogs and articles out there about just how perfect that movie was so I’m not going to try to bumble through it myself. Here’s one of them. I don’t have anything to add – that article pretty much sums up my reaction to the movie.

Sunday night, we had a movie marathon – Jane, Daddy, and me. First we watched The Butler. I was amazed again. And chilled. And thought about Charleston. And sat there still. And happy and sad at the same time. We decided to top it off with Forrest Gump. Because why not? And because Jane hadn’t seen it yet and that seemed like a shame.

So then we get to Monday afternoon. I was barely able to get off work in time to join my family at the last matinee-price showing of Inside Out. We had been looking forward to it for several weeks now. Or maybe a bazillion. I don’t know. I’m pretty sure we started looking forward to it long before I wrote that Texas post that maybe I’ll get around to sharing later this week. Maybe.

Anyway, totally different tale than Mad Max. That probably doesn’t shock you. But… again… I was blown away. Blown. Away. This movie is magical. It nails emotion. It found a way to explain the inner workings of the brain in a fantastical and magnificent way. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud as much during a movie as I did in this one.

You have to go see it. You simply have. To. Go. See. It. Right now. Or when the theater opens. Whichever comes first. I loved this movie. My family loved this movie. I loved watching my family love watching this movie. Hal was on the edge of his seat near the end. I think Jane and I might have missed some of the on-screen magic just then because we were too busy staring at the in-theater magic sitting next to me: back straight as a rod, face intent, a slight smile, body leaning forward with anticipation.

It’d be hard to escape the theater without catching the at-credits extras but make sure you don’t. You can leave after the cat. But don’t you dare leave before the cat! I’m telling you – the entire movie was precious and sincere and lovely and funny and charming and insightful. But the cat – the cat was real. The cat got it right. So make sure you stay for the cat.

That’s all I’m saying.

So, yeah, I could have talked about what’s wrong with Texas’s obsession with football. I could have talked about my deceased step-father. I could have walked the minefield that is divorce and tried to discuss Father’s Day. I could have talked about faith and commitment and fatigue. I could have talked about racism and America. But life is heavy enough and you need a smile.

So go watch Inside Out. And stay for the cat. It won’t let you down. I promise.

Scatterbrain

My thoughts are all over the place. I started a blog post earlier today about Jane’s social life. I kind of meandered around into philosophical ponderings on the nature of being an “outsider” in a small town. I worked my way back toward the story I wanted to tell: her weekend of parties with new friends. On my way there, I stumbled over another point and thought, oh, yeah – that’s where I wanted to go with this.

I didn’t see any easy way to transition to it and suddenly felt that the first 400 words were basically irrelevant. Or maybe another tale. So I started post #2, focusing on the new point as my starting point. But I soon found myself meandering again. It was becoming clear that I was not clear on what I wanted to write about.

I can’t help but feel that all the points could come together in a coherent piece. That they all overlap in such a way that they can fit smoothly with each other. Kind of like this Venn diagram:

venn_1

(I’m not happy with this diagram, by the way. I should have used black lines for the outlines and it really bugs me that they aren’t overlapping by the same amount on each other, even if it is hard with five circles. If I want to get all philosophical with it, I could say that topics never overlap each other in equal amounts so my chart is perhaps more realistic than a well-formed one. Of course, I didn’t consider the percentage overlap for the various topics so my philosophical excuse for a bad diagram is simply that: an excuse.)

Anyway, my story, I think, lies somewhere in that black region where they all overlap. As you can probably see by my senseless rambling about the diagram itself, though, I don’t think I can get there. At least, not right now. My attempts have more closely resembled this diagram:

venn_2

 

I think I want to tell the purple story but red feels like a good place to start but red leads me into green instead of blue and then I realize that green has nothing to do with purple but it sure flows nicely into pink and then I realize the story has gone off the rails and maybe I should have started with blue. But then…

Then… then I get up from my computer. I go to the church to make copies. I come home and take a nap. I think about blogging about the Oklahoma City bombing anniversary instead. I decide that while I was there volunteering and I knew people who were in the building, it’s somehow shallow for me to write about it when so many other people were affected more. I go out to eat. I welcome my husband home. I try to collect my thoughts about Jane. I decide to blog about Venn diagrams instead. And now here we are.

So, yeah, you haven’t heard from me in over a week. This is partly why. I’ve mostly been too busy and then when I’ve tried, the stories haven’t come. I’ll just let you wonder based on the Venn diagram labels what’s going on in Jane’s world.