It must seem like I completely fell off the face of the earth, what with me not posting in forever. Seeing as it has been forever, I’m a little rusty with this, so it’s going to read like stream of consciousness because it is.
First things, first. No, the hole in my roof is not fixed. Tree-pocalypse 2016 continues its domino effect well into October and my patience is fried harder than some Ukrop’s chicken wings. Thankfully, the Hubs and I are no longer playing rotating between sofa and the air mattress. The children are back in their respective beds and a small semblance of peace has been restored on that front. While the jagged, gaping holes that dotted the ceilings of my living room and bedroom have been dried out, insulated, patched and painted, the third floor playroom and my office remain just as dusty, crusty, and unusable as they were on June 15th.
When I go up there to look for a file or one of my books or just to survey what needs to be kept and what needs to be tossed, I can feel my blood pressure spike. You all know I like order. You all know I love cleanliness and organization. You all can imagine that I’m twitching like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs at the sight of my desk in pieces over here, and over here, and over here. . . oh and wayyyyy over there. My bulletin board, where I tacked up my inspirational quotes, favorite photos, and my word count log is slightly bent and a little waterlogged. It rest forlornly against the girls play kitchen which has become the childhood version of the treadmill in the bedroom — used a few times for its intended purpose, but is now more of a catchall than anything else. My bulletin board looks as me and I can almost hear it sigh in resignation. We were doing so well! Everyday, I would unclip my notecard of words and tally up the I’d birthed onto the pages in just an hour.
I’ve fallen off, but I’ll get back there. I’ll get back there and I will surpass it. I just have to get my head right. We all know what excuses are and I’m about to lay one on you. I haven’t written because I just haven’t had it in me. I’m unmotivated. I’m uninspired. My notebooks that I so carefully curated with notes, character profiles, scene descriptions, plot points — all herbs and spices that were seasoning this work — are waterlogged, the pages rippled and the words smeared. My desk that I put together from a billion pieces is now in a billion more pieces. The thought of trying to spin words into scenes, dialogue, and intrigue from the sticky surface of my kitchen table is completely unappealing. The Hubs, who gets me so completely, understands that I need my own space in which to work. He hands me suggestions of places to go — WeWork, the library, Starbucks, his office — all of which I roll over in my palm before letting them fall through my fingers like gritty pebbles, like crumbling earth. Like the edge of a cliff where I’m trying scramble up and over, back onto solid ground.
It’s not that I couldn’t go to WeWork, or Starbucks, or the library. It’s just that those places aren’t my little piece of earth. It’s not my office. It’s not the same. I need my stuff close by. I need my files and papers and post-its and books and notebooks and my squeaky chair that doesn’t match my desk and to be able to look up when I’m stuck on a word and see my diploma flanked by photos of me and the hubs and my girls which hang beside the window where cardinals swaying on high, high branches on the other side of the panes, their bright red bodies pops of color that jolt my brain into another gear and the words start coming faster and faster, my hand skipping across the lined pages of my notebook so that when I finally stop and re-read what I’ve written I’m deciphering the chicken scratch with knitted brow, only to have it smooth out after realizing, this is some seriously good writing.
*le sigh* I want to push away from my desk, thump the pages I’ve written on the surface and think, “Yeah, I’m kind of a creative genius.”
Life has gotten in the way in the biggest, most unwieldy of styles. The plan that I had been following, the routine I had in place? It imploded and I’ve been walking around in circles, bumping into things trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve running the household, and for a few glorious days, I was eating a whole lot of gelato. Like, a lot of gelato. Like, twice-a-day-dear-Richmond-I’m-not-coming-home-Viva-Italia-a lot of gelato.
If you follow me on Instagram, and I hope that you do, you’ll have noticed I skipped town for a few days at the end of September to accompany the Hubs to Italy. Business for him, pleasure for me, total food-a-thon for everyone involved. Three days in Desenzano di Garda. . .
I think I ate my weight in gelato just about every day. It wasn’t all gelato, all day — there was quite a bit of prosecco and pasta, too.
And there was time for me to just be. While the Hubs and his colleagues went to do what they came to do, I spent a day just milling around the town of Desenzano. I fudged my way through changing dollars to Euros at the post office, making a new best friend in the clerk when she discovered we shared September as a birthday month.
Her: (looking at my passport) Settembre?
Me: Si, Settembre.
Her: Me Settembre! I fifty-five. Cinquantacinque! Two sons. You? You write down.
Me: (writing down my age, my children’s ages) Um, Io trentotto.
Her: (looking at paper): Tre bambini? Tre bambini?! (turns to the clerk beside her) Ha tre bambini! and then she proceeded to regale me with some kind of story to which I could only smile and nod as she counted out euros into my open palm.
I found my way to Villa Romana, where the attendant and I had a stilted exchange that resulted in me getting the student discount.
Her: Eh, tu sei studente?
Me: Um, si?
Her: (pointing to a fee schedule showing different price points for different age ranges. She points to 18-25) Si?
I visited the old castle – a medieval structure in the heart of the city —
the Rambotti museum, home of the world’s oldest plough (no, really), walked around a portion of Lago di Garda, stopping by the port,
and had my choice of piazzas where I could just sit and watched the world go by.
For three fantastic days, I was way across the ocean on another plot of earth, where aside from the walking and the gelato, I did a whole lot of nothing. And it was great.
Now I’m back in RVA, still bumping around trying to find a way to get writing back into the routine. The jet-lag had me completely delirious for about three days. The first day back, I was wandering around Target stocking up on essentials, convinced that I’d been in there so long, it must have been nearing 8 o’clock in the evening. I came outside, blinking into the sun like a mole — it was only 3 in the afternoon.
Thankfully, I’m back on schedule, and not a moment too soon. The girls are well into the school year. The afternoon activities are filling up the calendar like checkers on a Connect Four board. I’ve been producing photo shoots for a photographer friend of mine. I’m pulling out the fall clothes, rotating the tanks and shorts for turtlenecks and sweaters. The fall wreath is on the front door and talk of Thanksgiving dinner is floating through emails between family members.
I’m sure there is much I’ve left out since the last time I really sat down and unloaded. I don’t want to overwhelm you on the first foray. I do want to do better, though. I’ve got some ideas. I’ve got some things to share. I’ve got it written down in my planner so, now I’ve got to do it. I hope you’ve missed me as much as
I am missing that gelato I missed you. It really did feel like I fell off the face of the earth, but I’m back on solid ground.
Back to the grind.
I’m two weeks post-op. My one job is to rest. I’m doing my best to be patient while things percolate under the bandages, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t tried to still be SuperMom. For the past two weeks, I’ve been delegating tasks, coordinating schedules, and running my little empire from the prime real estate that is the sofa. There have been quite a few times when I’ve had to pull an Elsa and just let stuff go. Like when I came downstairs for the first time after a week of bed rest and found the entire first floor looking like the bottom of a backpack on the last day of school.
I am, however, trying to keep things in perspective. These past two weeks, as well as the next however many it will take to get back to business, are just a paragraph in this particular chapter of my life.
That’s kind of deep. It’s also one thing to say and quite another thing to believe it. I’m working on it, though. I remind myself to breathe. I remind myself to patient. I remind myself to be a little kinder to myself than I was yesterday. I make plans. I pin things to my boards. I organize. I re-post things on tumblr. I make lists. I read blogs. I read books. I make more lists. I take selfies.
I’m outlining the next chapter.
- I’m so ready for summer clothes, but I need to figure sort out what I’ve got from last season. I stumbled upon this website and now have a plan.
- This would be great in my room, once I’ve completed my wardrobe capsule.
- Spending an inordinate amount of time on IG has introduced me to a number of cool bloggers, motivational words, new hairstyle ideas, and lots of pictures of cupcakes.
- Mmm, cupcakes.
- And lemonade filled mason jars with a little whimsy poking out of the top.
- And of course, something to read.
I’d like to think of myself as someone who has good manners, someone who has, as my mother likes to say, “home training.” It doesn’t take much to do the right thing when it comes to our daily interactions with people. If you’re entering or exiting a building and see someone close behind you, hold the door for them. If the roles are reversed and someone holds the door open for you, say “Thank you!” Or if an act of a Good Samaritan makes your life a little easier, pay it forward and do something nice for someone else.
I used to work for a real estate agent (what haven’t I done, right?), and this man said that whenever he and his wife were out having dinner, if he saw another diner that he could identify as being in the any branch of the military, he would automatically pay for that persons meal, no questions asked. Rick, the agent, said that picking up the check for someone who would fight for our rights and freedoms was the very least he could do. I have not ever found myself where I could take the steps that Rick took — I’m far less gregarious and usually running down wayward children to cast about for dining veterans, but the lesson shared was one that I haven’t forgotten.
It doesn’t hurt to be kind. In fact, it serves to bolster our self-esteem. In this day in age, who wouldn’t want a little inoculation against things that would rob us of joy? I try to hold doors open for people when I can. If I’m in the grocery store, I will let a shopper with fewer items scoot ahead of me. I have read the #ChiptoleProblems on Twitter, so I make sure I am not on my phone, always say “please” and “thank you” and make eye contact when I’m ordering my food. For that matter, as a former food service employee, I really try to be super courteous to wait staff. I’ve seen what goes on at the bus stations and in the kitchen (blerg!)
When I was at the RAD show, I went to use the ladies room. There were three stalls, two of which were occupied. As I made for the empty stall, one of the others open up and the woman said, “Oh no, no, no! Don’t go in there! Someone took a huge dump and didn’t flush it! Here; use this one.” I was surprised that 1) she forewarned me of what could have been a dry heave inducing experience and 2) she said “dump”. I appreciated that honesty, catching a break is probably more apt. After I had used the stall, I noticed that the toilet paper roll was getting dangerously low and there weren’t any spares within reach. When I came out, I told the line of women waiting that the deal was. Would most people have just washed their hands and rolled out? Probably. Would I have been one of those people had it not been for my previous ineteraction? Probably. Still, I’m trying to be better. I’m not necessarily living the golden rule, but I’m working towards it.
Today was a swim day, and I had been looking forward to getting in the pool. I don’t know if I’m a strong swimmer, but I’m confident in what I can do. Just as I was about to slip into the lane, a woman approached me and asked if she could share. The other lanes each had one swimmer in them, save the very far lane of the pool which was reserved for open swim. She explained that she asked before I got in because then she wouldn’t have to interrupt anyone and if she swam in the open swim lane, there was a chance that a class could come in and kick her out. Here was my face:
I know, I just got finished say that I ‘m trying to be better, but I haaaaaaate lane sharing. While I may be confident in what I can do, I’m not confident about what I can do when someone is swimming in tandem with me, less than 6 inches away. I’m on hyper alert. Am I drifting too far to center? Did we say circles or splits? Am I too close to the lane line? Can I backstroke or will I get in her way? Is she trying to race me? What was supposed to be a relatively stress-free workout has been now all twisted out of shape because I’m trying not to encroach on someone else’s workout. And I kind of doubt they’re worrying about me the way that I’m worry about them. That in turn leads me to these kinds of thoughts:
- I’ll just check the surrounding lanes after each lap
- I’ll just won’t do backstroke today.
- I’ll just stick with the crawl
- I’ll just slide over a lane if another lane opens up.
- Wait, why should I slide over a lane? I was here first. She asked me to share.
- Yeah, but I’m not enjoying sharing, so if something opens up, I should move.
- Well then, she’ll have won.
- Won what, dummy?
- She’ll have the lane to herself.
- I’ll have a lane to myself, if I move over.
- Yeah, but what if I move, then someone else comes and asks me to share and then I’ll be right back where I started.
And then I sheared off the top layer of skin from my forearm because I was so busy wrangling logistics with myself that I cozied up to the lane line without even realizing it. This went on for a good 20 minutes, and probably another 5 went by before I realized the woman had taken it upon herself to slide to an empty lane when the opportunity presented itself.
When I had finished my swim, I spent a few minutes stretching before I hopped out of the pool. The woman pulled up in the lane next to me, removing her fins and adjusting her goggles. I felt like I should apologize, but she didn’t know the inner monologue that I had been using to fuel my flip turns. So, I turned to her and said, “I’m sorry if I threw you off while I was doing the backstroke. I hope you were able to get your laps in.” She shook her head and said, “Oh no, it was fine. Thanks for sharing.”
She thanked me.
Yeah, I felt pretty small.
So, I’m going to toughen my resolve, make my mother proud, and make a conscious effort to go the extra mile for a stranger. I can hold a door open. I can wipe down a toilet seat (not that I’m a sprayer, but just as a courtesy). I can offer a smile. I can always say “Thank You”. I can put the phone down when I’m checking out at Target. I can just be a better version of me and in so doing, maybe make someone else feel good.
I can learn to lane share, and I can do it without giving the Chloe side-eye.
Maybe. . .baby steps, people. . .baby steps.
The new year is not even 24 hours old and I’m already throwing in the towel.
I can give you an example of how in one day, I did the complete and utter opposite of everything on this list. I suppose I could give myself a gold star for being committed to being contrary.
I just wanted to write a little something about a whole lot of nothing before the day got away from me. You know, just another Wednesday. Now, it’s an hour and a half before Thursday and I’m still typing when I should be snug-a-bug comfy in my bed.
When you are sitting with your hands poised over the keyboard, not typing anything because you’re desperate to end your post with some kind of cheeky witticism, it’s time to go to bed.