Aunt Fran ~ by Sam

Yesterday, I forgot to wear my pearls.

I didn’t forget, initially.  I thought about it the entire time I was preparing to shower, showering, dressing and getting ready for the day.  I just never actually put on the pearls and wore them.  Isn’t that ridiculous?

Of course, I don’t mean I thought obsessively about wearing pearls the entire time I was going through my morning routine.  To be honest, I thought of them once.  After that, I thought of Aunt Fran.  Aunt Fran would have worn pearls.  They go with everything.

Aunt Fran was more than my aunt, if that’s fair to say, and I hope it won’t make any of my other aunts feel like they are “less than.”  Every one of my aunts is unique and special and important, of course; but, since today is about Aunt Fran and her pearls, which I neglected to wear yesterday, today, we are talking about Aunt Fran.

Aunt Fran was my mother’s oldest living sister when I was born.  Twelve years older, she was my mom’s “little mom,” helping look after her when they were young.  I think, because she knew that some of us wouldn’t have a Nana (Mom’s mom had passed away some years prior), she sort of stepped in to that role for us…but only sort of, because she also knew that she wasn’t our Nana.  She was Aunt Fran.  She would stay over at our house for Christmas; and sometimes, one of us would get to go spend a special weekend with her.  She lived alone in the City, in an apartment that I thought was very posh and sophisticated, and she had a beautiful but very persnickety cat named Priscilla who wold hide behind the curtains and hiss at visitors.  You felt very privileged if Prissy graced you with her presence.  While you were visiting, you got to go all over the City with her, and you felt very grown up and sophisticated, riding escalators, shopping at department stores, stopping to pick up mail at the front desk on the way back up to her apartment.  I remember being impressed by everything.

After Aunt Fran passed away, while talking with my cousins, I had a momentary selfish pang of realization that I wasn’t the only one.  She had taken a bunch of us for the same magical, exciting weekends.  I was an adult ~ like a really, grown up, married-with-kids adult ~ and I had this moment of selfish, little-girlish feeling that I wasn’t as special as I thought I was.  Luckily, I have the best cousins in the world, and talking with them made me realize that one of the best things about Aunt Fran was the way that she managed to make each one of us feel like we were the most special.

Last night, I felt a little sad when I went to get in to my pajamas and realized I didn’t have to take off my pearls, because I had never remembered to put them on.  Then, I remembered while I was in the shower and getting myself ready for the day, thinking about Aunt Fran yesterday, my thoughts had drifted to a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.  It was one I remembered from my childhood, and while I know that it was really written about a nanny, and Aunt Fran was absolutely nothing like a nanny, I thought something about it captured something like the role Aunt Fran played in so many of our lives.

So, I will wear my pearls today, and I will share this here.

Coincidentally, I first read it many years ago in a copy of “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” that was given to me by Aunt Fran on Christmas when I was 5 years old.

TO AUNTIE
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Chief of our Aunts ~ not only I,
But all your dozen of nurselings cry ~
What did the other children do?
And what were childhood, wanting you? 

What did the other children do?  And what were childhood, wanting you?

 

 

Advertisements

What’s in a Name? ~ by…someone

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.”

So says Juliet, upon discovering her true love’s despised moniker, and perhaps it rings true.  After all, it is our character that truly defines us.  Isn’t it?  We could be called practically anything, but it is our actions ~ how we choose to conduct ourselves ~ that really matters.

Why then would I find myself hopelessly bereft over the notion that I might be in danger of forever losing my name?

This occurred to me earlier this week, on the heels of yet another call from yet another healthcare provider calling me “Kathryn.”  Only doctors, police, the DMV and IRS call me Kathryn.  Well, and my dad, who calls me by my full name, sometimes, and that’s okay, because he’s my dad.  I have never been Kathryn.  Aside from the first day they called role and I corrected them, even teachers didn’t call me Kathryn.  I was Kay when I was little, then Katie, and, ultimately, Kate.  Everyone back home called me Kate, up until I started college.  Except my dad. His nickname for me (when he wasn’t calling me by my full name) was Sam.  But then, being an adolescent girl, I got, well, you know, adolescent, I guess, I demanded he stop calling me that, because it was NOT MY NAME!

And so, he did.

But then, I felt kind of rotten about it.

So, I told him that, when I grew up to be a famous author, I would use it as my pen name.

Obviously, you can see the odds of me being a famous author are quite high.  Did you note the wry wit?  The affable charm?  The effortless prose?  It’s inevitable.

Then, I went on my merry way, being a Katie, and then a Kate.

I did all kinds of things.  Strange, awkward things, really, because I was, not surprisingly,  as strange and awkward a teenager and young adult as I am a full-grown human.  Also not surprisingly, I have not yet become a famous author.

What did happen was I went to school.  Well, everyone goes to school, I suppose.  Well, not everyone; but most everyone in the U.S. who falls above a certain tax bracket, anyway, after a certain point in history (after which I was most definitely born) has some kind of education, and so, I did go to school.  I even almost finished high school.  Wow.  What I meant was I went to college.  Junior college first, and, in fact, I liked it so well, I went for a very long time.  It’s either that, or I wasn’t very good at it, and I had to spend a lot of time working out the kinks.  Whatever the case may be, during my seven illustrious years in junior college, I pursued acting.  I did quite a lot of acting at school, and even outside of school.  Since, during that time, I found I wasn’t getting any closer to becoming a famous author, but I was acting quite a lot, I decided to use Sam as my stage name.

The thing is, when you do a lot of theatre, it tends to lead to more theatre, which leads to more theatre, which leads to more theatre…and, well, pretty soon, most of the people you know are people you met doing ~ guess what ~ theatre!  So, pretty soon, I had a lot of new friends, all of whom were calling me “Sam.”  I was having a grand time, making friends, doing shows, going to parties, trying to remember to do my homework because ~ whoops! ~ that’s what I went to college for!  It really was great fun. Some of the best years of my life, to be sure.  I made some of the best friends I have ever had during those years, and I have even managed to keep in touch with some of them.  I learned so much.  I landed an incredibly important (to me and my future) job that ended up shaping my career, completely changing the path I thought I wanted to take in life and helping me find the direction I had lacked.  There were so many great things I accomplished as Sam.

But it was always great to go home to where the people who had known me and loved me since I was a little girl still called me Kate, because, somewhere in there ~ strikes breast ~ I will always still be Kate, too.  You see, I like Kate, and I never meant to lose her entirely.

When I transferred to Arizona State University to pursue my Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Education, I got a job at a childcare center to help pay rent and bills.  I used the name Kate at work, and Sam with friends.  When we moved to California, I initially used Kate when I was teaching and at places like the children’s school and our church, and   Sam friends, but I found, as the children got older, it got confusing.  It probably wasn’t confusing for the kids yet, but it was confusing for me, and for others around us, and I worried it would be confusing for them.  What would happen when someone asked, “What’s your mom’s name?” and they gave a different answer than the name by which that person knew me, or the name they had on record?  It was too much to expect a kid to remember.  It was too much to expect me to remember.  Now, what name did I tell THESE people?  And so, gradually, I just became Sam.

Looking back, now, I don’t know why I became Sam, and not Kate.  At the time, perhaps, it felt comfortable, because I was used to it.  It hadn’t been long since my college days.  Maybe I longed for the days of rehearsals and greenroom chatter and late nights at Denny’s.  Maybe I just wanted to be different, because I was still young, and kind of ornery.

But now…

Well, now…

Now, I think, with the advent of social media, we don’t talk on the telephone as much as we used to.  So I don’t hear the voices of my family and friends back home as often as I once did.  They don’t hear mine, either, because I don’t call, and I should.  I mean, I think I should.  They might be reading this and thinking, “Oh, dear God ~ now she’s going to call me!”  I like hearing people’s voices.  Unfortunately, I think our lives have all evolved in ways that don’t allow for telephone conversations often.  I fear…or, no, not fear, exactly, but suspect…I strongly suspect we are all now hardwired in to social media communication, which is a wonderful convenience, and I am thrilled to have it, but I do miss the voices.  I miss hearing them say my name.  It’s old-fashioned, I know, and, perhaps, a little bit self-centered.  I can accept that.  I have lived a very other-centered life as a wife, mother and teacher, so, on this point, I can be the tiniest bit self-centered. I think it’s been a little bit too long since my last trip back to Maryland, and I want to hear people say my name the way they have said it since I was a little girl.  People like my mom, my siblings, my cousins, my childhood best friends.

Then, of course, there are the ones that will never say it again: Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Fran, Uncle Frank, Aunt Dody, Uncle Jack, Uncle Jim, Uncle Joe, Aunt Eleanor, Aunt Kay, Uncle Tony, Aunt Dee…  I haven’t even named them all.  I could never name them all.  It’s too hard.  I feel bad.  I keep thinking of people I need to go back and add. Geez.  That’s a lot of people.  And it’s probably still not everyone. What do you do about them?  I can still hear them, clear as a bell, in my mind, so, sometimes, that’s what I do.  I just close my eyes and listen.

What occurred to me recently, I think, is this notion that I am losing my name.  That, if I don’t hear it ~ if fewer and fewer people are calling me Kate, and no one out here in California calls me Kate ~ I will just gradually stop being Kate.  I felt like Alice, walking through the forest with my arms looped lazily around a fawn, both of us blissfully unaware of who we are, because we’ve lost our names.  As if somehow I will simply cease to be Kate altogether, when I know well and good that all the Samming in the world couldn’t un-Kate me.  I mean, let’s face it: once a Kate, always a Kate.  Am I right?

In the end, I might have to take exception with Juliet’s opinion on names.  While I don’t think our names necessarily define us, I have to admit, there is something decidedly “Kate” about me, and there always has been.  After much consideration, I am not ready to completely divest myself of my Kateness.  I suspect, like Shakespeare’s Kate, I have and will be called “plain Kate, and bonny Kate and sometimes Kate the curst,” and I can live with that.

I’m not asking any of you to change anything.  If you call me Sam, continue to call me Sam.  If you call me Kate, call me Kate.

And, you know, if either of us ever has a minute, we should probably call each other.

The Girl Who Lived ~ by Sam

17 years ago today, on March 28th 2000, I was 29 years old.  Gosh, it seems like a lifetime ago.  Shane and I lived in the upstairs apartment at the back of our building of six units, which faced another, identical 6-unit building.  Our daughter, Justice, had recently become a big sister for the first time, to Hallie, who was born at 11:58 pm on March 17th ~ St. Patrick’s Day! ~ on the front seat of our Honda Civic in front of Kaiser Permanente Hospital’s Emergency Entrance in Woodland Hills.  We almost made it to the hospital in time, but, what can I say?  Hallie was in a hurry to be born on St. Paddy’s Day.

When I think about that little baby, my first impressions are of a strong, alert child, right from the word, “go!”  I had a hard time, hemorrhaging and requiring a couple of courses of pitocin to get the bleeding under control upon being transferred up to a recovery room, but not our little baby.  Hallie was eager to nurse, wide-eyed, alert and responsive.  I remember lying on the sofa the day we brought her home, with Hallie resting on my belly.  She just wriggled her way up my body all by herself, like a tiny little mountain climber.  I know, I know ~ babies do this ~ but we were so impressed right from the start by her strength, her grip, and how awake and aware of the world around her she was.  She just seemed interested in everything.

On the evening of March 28th, baby Hallie was just 11 days old.  Justice was asleep her room.  She would have been 2 years and about 4 months old.  Shane was working at his desk in the living room, and I was napping on the sofa.  Hallie was asleep in the cradle my dad had built, which was in the room with us.  We always had our babies sleep wherever we were.  So, we kept the cradle in the front room.  I learned later that Shane had somehow become aware that something was wrong with Hallie.  Maybe it was the absence of breath sounds.  Maybe it was a choking sound.   Maybe he saw something out of the corner of his eye.  I don’t know, but I thank God that something alerted him.  I awoke to the sound of him yelling her name.  He was holding her, her face was bright red, mouth wide open, like she should be screaming, but there was no sound.  I could see the terror in both of their eyes.  I don’t even think I was fully awake before I was across the room whisking her away and saying, “Call 9-1-1!”

Having worked in a preschool classroom, I had, at least, been trained in infant CPR.  I went in to auto-pilot.  It’s hard for me to put in to words what happened next.  I can remember it all so clearly, like I am watching a movie, but it’s difficult to articulate.  I remember checking her airway.  I remember running through all of the steps in my head ~ which I remembered then, but don’t now ~ I remember performing the infant Heimlich maneuver, and feeling a tremendous sense of relief when she coughed up a huge chunk of mucous…and then a renewed sense of panic when, instead of starting to breathe, my tiny little baby went limp and blue.

I remember that Shane was on the line with the 9-1-1 operator by this time, and that she remained on the line with him until we left for the hospital.  I remember that, at some point, little Justice was awakened by the commotion, and wandered out.  I remember that the paramedics from the nearby fire station arrived within two minutes that felt like an eternity.  I remember.  I remember loosening her clothes, jiggling her limp little limbs, begging her to breathe.  I remember Shane’s voice pleading with her to breathe.  I remember repeatedly thumping the soles of my baby’s tiny feet, so she would gasp for air, and hoping against hope that, eventually, those tiny little gasps would “catch,” and she would start breathing regularly again.  And I remember that, eventually, miraculously, she did.  Right before the paramedics arrived.  She was breathing, albeit shallowly, by the time they got there, but, since she had not been, of course, a trip to the ER was still in order.

I remember when the paramedics explained to me that I couldn’t hold her on the way to the hospital.  That I had to hand her over to them.  That she had to be transported by them the way any patient would, but I could ride inside the ambulance with her.  Shane and Justice could follow in the car.  I remember the look on Shane’s face when he realized he had to let them drive away with his baby.  I remember how tiny she looked inside the ambulance on that huge gurney.

I remember sitting at the hospital while they checked her over and over and questioned us about what had happened, and found no explanation.  No explanation.  And just…sent us home.  I remember the diagnosis.

ALTE

A.L.T.E.

I remember searching for information to try to understand what had happened to my child and finding that it stood for “Apparent Life-Threatening Event.”

As if we couldn’t have guessed.

I remember months later when I had to fight for the insurance company to cover that ambulance ride and hospital visit, because, they told me, the incident “wasn’t life-threatening.”

*ahem*

“Please refer to doctor’s diagnosis.  A.L.T.E. – Apparent Life-Threatening Event.”

I remember how, at about two months, she suffered another episode of the same type.  Still with no further explanation.

I remember how, years later, she developed asthma, and often suffered respiratory complications such as bronchitis or pneumonia.  I remember the time she had croup, and developed stridor, and her little chest would cave in, instead of expanding, when she took a breath, and my heart would ache for her.  I remember other parents thinking I was being “overprotective” when I said it was important for her not to be exposed to respiratory ailments because she was at high risk for respiratory complications.

But, more than anything, on this day, I remember my child’s beautiful eyes, smile, voice.  I think of all of the amazing things this almost grown person has achieved.  I think of the art my child has created, the roles this young actor has played, all the music and dances and stories…and everything yet to come.

Hallie was due on March 27th, born on March 17th, under rather unusual circumstances.  Then March 28th came along and did its best to wrestle her away from us.  Every year at this time, I can’t help but pause and count this particularly incredible blessing.

 

The House With No Name ~ by Sam

Our House needs a name.

We have been debating this since we moved in to the new house.  We can’t keep calling it the new house indefinitely.  Eventually, it is bound to not be so new.  I would rather not call it something like, “The Money Pit,” because that’s rather depressing, but “The House on Willard Street” is so bland, and “The Blue House,” is okay, but…we already lived in “The Little Blue House,” many years ago.  We have sort of waffled between “the Blue House,” “The House on Willard Street,” and “The Homestead,” which sort of made sense when I had a thriving garden, and was canning, making jams and jellies, and baking all of the time, but now I am not doing as much of that, and it feels a little bit like a slap in the face, sometimes.  Maybe I just need to get over that.  Or get my butt in gear, and get back to doing some of that stuff.

In the past, we have named our homes.  I like that.  We like to add the tagline to invitations, greeting cards,  videos, etc.  So videos might be “A Little Blue House production,” or “coming to you live from Little House in the Big Yard!” and parties might be held at “The Homestead.” We have toyed with calling the new house something silly like “The Loud House,” because “We’re not yelling ~ we’re Italian!”*  But then, that show, “The Loud House” came out, and it kind of made me wonder if someone overheard one of our conversations in public about the whole “we’re not yelling” thing.  Also, of course, sometimes, we are yelling, which I guess everyone does, so then it seems like a lousy name for a house altogether ~ but we would mean it in the jovial way, of course.   We figured we should translate in to Italian, for maximum effect.  Or perhaps German, just because…I don’t know.  Why not?  At that point, you know, the kids once learned, from a craft kit they received as a gift, how to say the phrase “sparkling unicorn” in German, and ran around barking it at people, just because they liked the sound of it, and how it startled people when you yelled it at them.  So…we could go with “Sparkling Unicorn House,” in German.  But I don’t think we will.

I remember, when I was a little girl, as we were driving to Grandma and Grandpa’s house in McSherrystown, Pennsylvania, we would pass a house along the way that was called “Gittings Ha-Ha.”  I always wondered what it meant.  Did someone get the last laugh?  Was their house a big joke?  Maybe it wasn’t really a big, fancy house, and it just looked like one from the street.  Perhaps, the joke was on us, all the time.  I guess I may never know.

Hopefully, however, we will be able to decide what to call our own home.  We could call it “Frank.”  It’s a good name.  I mean, it was my Papa’s name, and two of my Uncle’s, as well.  No?

Fine.

We’ll keep working on it, I guess.

For now, I will just sit here, watching the rain fall.

Inside the house.

I guess we won’t be calling it, “Impenetrable.” bluehouse2

*EDIT: It occurs to me, now, we were probably also yelling because I’m hard of hearing, and now I have a hearing aid, so I’m not sure how this changes things, in this regard:  “Of course we’re yelling ~ our mom’s hard of hearing!” LOL  This ~ and the fact that I am sitting here with a foot that still doesn’t want to work, watching rain fall inside my house, as well as a number of other things that I won’t mention, because, frankly, they don’t bear mentioning  ~ brings to mind one of all-time favourite Carrie Fisher quotes:“If my life wasn’t funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.”  Indeed.  And so, we laugh.  Perhaps, Gittings Ha-Ha is beginning to make sense, after all.

To Start Anew ~ by Sam

2017 finds us all poised at the breaking dawn of a fresh, new year.  A year full of hope, and promise and possibilities.  The problems, the struggles, the tears, the regrets, the trials, the toils of 2016 and before lay behind us, and what lies ahead is infinite and unknown.  People encourage us to move only forward, to cast off the negative, never looking back; but, like Lot’s wife, we find ourselves compelled to cast that glance aft, and then…

Then what?

Isn’t it our history that informs us?  Isn’t it our past that makes us what we are today?

And so, I offer this advice for the New Year: Don’t attempt to make a brand new start, as people suggest.  That is far too tall an order for anyone, and destined for failure.  Sure, go ahead, move forward.  But don’t just put one foot in front of the other and trudge blindly on.  Move forward informed by the past, strengthened by your experience, hardened in your resolve ~ battle-scarred and imperfectly-perfect, as are we all ~ ready to conquer whatever life happens to throw your way.

In that spirit, I give you my Resolutions for the New Year, in no particular order:

In 2017, I resolve to:

Be Kind.
Listen.
Visit Places.
Make Things.
Plant Things.
Play Music.
Take Care of Myself.
Cook.
Write.
Read.
Dance.
Laugh.
Sing.

I might clean some stuff, too.
Maybe.

I think I can handle that.

Wishing you and yours Peace, Love, Health & Happiness in the New Year and beyond.  With all of those things, how can we possibly go wrong?

New Year’s Eve Eve -by Sam

As I find myself looking back on the past year, I can’t help but think, “It’s been a rough one;” and the thing is, I’ve been here before. It’s starting to feel like I say this to myself at the end of a lot of years. You might be thinking, Oh, that must be a chronic illness thing. Some of you might be thinking (and some might be irritated about it), Is this about all of the famous people who have died this year? Is it about politics?

You know what, it’s not.

Well, or, maybe…maybe those things are all a little bit harder to take because everything is a little harder to take because there’s just always this underlying…well. Things have been difficult for our little family, dear friends and readers. The thing is, see, I don’t…well, this goes back to that complicated part of my last post, in which I talked about how I don’t talk about all of my business, because it’s not solely my business. So, I can’t just put it all out here for the world to see. In fact, I can’t put it all out anywhere, so, I am just kind of alone with it, and that’s very, very difficult for me. But I guess it’s normal, too.

What I mean is, you know, life’s not always a bowl of cherries. Or, well, maybe it is. But, maybe, sometimes, it’s not just a bowl. Maybe, sometimes, it’s a huge, steamy, rotten, mess of moldy cherries somebody bought a really long time ago, and no one ate, and they’ve been fucking sitting in your favourite chair for so long that they’ve started to decompose. Then, one day, you come home, sick and exhausted, and overwhelmed, unable to work, and in debt, and thinking, good god, if one more thing happens, it will put me over the edge!…and you flop down in that chair just as the phone rings to tell you that someone, somewhere needs you to come, immediately, to do something, or else the world will collapse, because, really, you’re supposed to be a superhero. And your coffee spills all over your lap, causing a chemical reaction with the rotten, moldy cherries, making their effect seemingly permanent.

So, now, everywhere you go, for the next two or three years (at least ~ jury’s out. This could be permanent) the rotten cherry funk is in your clothes, your skin, the very fiber of your being, maybe even your soul. It’s still in the chair, too, so other people in the household are going to be exposed, and there’s nothing you can do. It’s terrible stuff. It makes everyone miserable, and no one knows why, and no one knows how to talk about it, because no one even really knows what it is.  It is just so incredibly awful, so unexpected, so utterly preposterous.

And people can tell something is wrong, so they ask.

They keep asking.
“How are you?”
“Are you okay?”
“How’s the family?”

And, you know, society has these conventions, so you have to say,
“Oh, yeah, I’m fine.”
“We’re fine. “
“We’re great.”
“Everything’s good.”

But you know you’re not fooling anyone. You’re a lousy liar. You always have been, and you always will be.

To further complicate things, in the meantime, all of the normal, everyday things that happen in life keep happening around you and your moldy-ass cherries; and, you know, they’re totally normal things. Things that involve other people, but actually aren’t a huge problem. They’re little things, normal things, easy things that might be sort of challenging or, you know, require an adjustment in the way you think or do things; but they aren’t a big deal. They aren’t bad. They aren’t cause for strife or anguish or concern. It’s just that, sometimes, these people, who don’t know about your moldy cherry situation, they just don’t get that, and they think it’s all about them. Maybe we all think it’s all about us, all of the time. I guess that’s just the way humans are made.

And then, if you’re super lucky, you get not-a-diagnosis (which has nothing to do with the cherry situation, by the way, but conveniently occurs right on top of it), and they say to you, “Just keep on this band-aid*, and don’t take it off! I mean…we really don’t think you’ll bleed* profusely if you do, but DON’T TAKE IT OFF….just in case.” So you tell them, “Hey, you know, that’s…um…great and all, but…uh…I’d really like to know why I am having these symptoms.” And they tell you that what you can do, if you really want a diagnosis, is take off the band-aid, hook yourself up to a monitor for a few days that will cost roughly 8-gazillion bucks* and hope you bleed a lot during that time, so they can record it and figure out what’s happening. “Uh…” you say, “That sounds sort of…um…expensive…and dangerous…” They confirm that this is true, and so, you decide to keep your band-aid and lack of diagnosis, so, when people ask you what particular health problem you are having, you can now, officially, say, “Fuck if I know, man.”

So.

When I say it has been a hard year, I mean it has been a hard year. I mean it on a very personal level. I can’t say I don’t want to talk about it. I want so very much to talk about it. I mean, come on, guys, I’m a talker. It’s just, well, I can’t, because you’re not my therapist. I say I am alone with my problems, but the truth is I can go talk to a therapist, and so, at least there is a place where I can unload all of this bullshit, so I don’t have to unload it all on my family and friends, and that is good, I guess.   I mean, it’s expensive, and I will always have trouble spending money, because, no matter how much money we make, and no matter how many times I am told not to feel guilty about my current inability to work outside the home, I will always be made the way I am. It’s hard for me to spend money ~ especially money I did not earn. Also, I would rather talk to friends. Or even strangers that, you know, I’m not paying to listen to me. It just feels more natural, somehow. Therapy has never felt natural to me. I guess that’s just me. Also, it’s expensive. Did I mention that it is expensive? I’m kind of a cheapskate, in case you have forgotten.

Anyway…

I sat down and wrote this up today for two reasons:

One) I plan this year to get back to writing, and this seemed like a logical place to start. I can start journaling. Honestly, as I sit here writing, I don’t even know if I plan to share this with the world. I am writing this in a Word doc on my MacBook Air, and it may never see the light of day. If you are reading it, we will know what decision I made. Hopefully, writing this way will lead to other writing. Who knows? Maybe I will take a class. God knows I could use a little more class. (Ha. See? I’m funny)

Two) I need to get back to being me this year. I am not able to carry the weight of knowing I have this secret funk lurking in my life; and, even ‘though I cannot share details about it, I think just sharing the fact that there was a Thing, and it was Bad, might help. Just so people know that I actually have been dealing with something. You know, because I know people must have been wondering. I feel like I haven’t been true to myself. Like I have been presenting a façade to the world, and I don’t do that well. So, I guess this is me, very vaguely, coming clean. ish. sorta.

I know that, if I share this, people will, most likely, start all kinds of wild speculations about what The Thing was. Can I ask you a huge favour? Don’t. Please. Just…stop it. If it was your business, it would have happened to you. I know that’s a tall order. But, you know, it’s also a respect for privacy thing. I’m asking. I would do the same for you.

So, I guess, in a way, this is me, getting a jump on my New Year’s Resolutions.

I’m off to a decent start, really, if you count yesterday. I talked to my mom and dad, and my cousin, Alice, very briefly, on the phone. Left a message for one of my very best friends (will call another today). Texted back and forth with my big brother (because we are just so cool and modern like that), and set up a time to call and talk (we penciled each other in ~ I’m having my people call his people ~ we are ever so Important). Talked on the phone with my big sister, while going for a walk around the neighbourhood, thereby killing two birds with one stone (my least favourite idiom ~ so gruesome!). I also cleaned the bathrooms, dust-mopped all the hard floors, did some laundry, tidied up the house, worked in the yard a little, emptied the rain barrel (just in time for today’s rain), made a nice dinner, did my physical therapy, practiced banjo, and baked the last of the froggers. Then, I took a hot bath with Epsom salts, because some of that was a lot of work, and sat down to watch an episode of Major Crimes with Shane. I even worked a little bit on a ruffle scarf while watching.

This morning, I awoke to find the rain has come to wash away the dregs of 2016, and not a second too soon. So, today, I’ll balance the checkbook, and make sure all of the bills are paid. I might even make a pot of soup. Seems appropriate for a rainy Southern California day.

Wishing you all peace at the end of this year, whether or not it has been a rough one for you; and wishing us all a bright and beautiful New Year. I think we all deserve it.

 

*For clarification purposes: the terms “bleeding,” “band-aid,” and “8-gazillion dollars” are as analogous in this piece as cherries. I am not bleeding. Well, not at the moment. Give me time. I am very accident-prone. I do have a chronic health problem that requires constant medication. I would rather not be specific.  It’s a thing I do.

September ~ by Sam

Well, you see how long that “regularly updating” thing lasted.

For some reason, I have been overwhelmingly tired these past few days.  I will blame it on gremlins.  That’s it.  I must have gremlins.  I did manage to make my first pumpkin pie of the season Sunday night.  I started making it that morning.  I got this far:  img_2297But, first, I lacked the gumption.  Then, I lacked the time.  Finally, I lacked some of the ingredients.  Well, at least I got there eventually, and, at long last. We had pie.  img_2308But it really was at long last.  I pulled it out of the oven after 10pm, so we will ate it the next evening, after watching the 1st Presidential Debate.  (I thought we deserved a reward.)

I also bought an avocado tree on Sunday.  Our tiny little avocado tree just totally bit the dust.  We tried moving it, and, honestly, that was probably just a bad idea.  It was doing okay where it was, but it was in an inconvenient location (poorly chosen by yours truly); and we probably moved it at the wrong time of year, and inexpertly.  So, basically, we killed it.  We are tree-murderers.  I felt very deeply sorry about this, since I was the one who suggested moving it.  I also felt very disappointed at the lost promise of abundant homegrown avocados in my future.  I had found a tree I wanted to buy a couple of weeks ago, but it was attached to a large lattice, and would not fit in the back of my car.  See?  img_1959Nice, right?  But I drive a Prius V, which is sort of like a rounded off station wagon.  That thing is not going to fit in my car.  The avocado tree poses a challenge for us, because it needs to be of a variety that will not grow to be very large (Haas Avocado trees get HUGE), because we have a very small yard, but I do want one that is off to a very good start this time.  So, when I found a large, healthy-looking avocado tree of the same variety we had before (Bacon, which will max out at 10-12 feet high) in the garden section at Home Depot, I decided to bring it home.  In my Prius.  Because I am that woman.  You know, the one who drives home avocado trees in her Prius.  No, thank you, I don’t need any help.  I am doing… JUST.  FINE.  …thank you…  really …ooof…well….maybe just a little…img_2318

In between baking pies and lugging home trees, I managed to get in a little banjo practice, go see Hall & Oates at the Hollywood Bowl with Shane, and organize a messy little corner or two of our home.  img_2312This was such a little change, but I feel so accomplished!  It seems so logical now, but, for the first time since we moved here, the printer paper is under the printer.  This is revolutionary.  This will change everything.  If you could look closely enough, you would see that the shelves below the printer container white and coloured printer paper, lined paper, construction paper, and, on the bottom shelf, all of the unusual papers, cut bits, etc. that might come in handy for things like collages, posters, artwork, projects, and so forth.

On the other side of the Desk, I mounted three inexpensive little bulletin boards I picked up at Target.  Looking at this picture, I kind of wish I had lined them up straight, but my advisors on this project liked the idea of offsetting them, so that’s what I did.  I am still not convinced that was the best design plan, but they are functional, and that is what matters most.  Directly below them, I added a metal strip (I forget what this piece is called ~ I will look it up and edit later) so I could attach these magnetic containers from IKEA to hold paperclips and binder clips.  img_2299I feel like, if I just keep chipping away at it, maybe, someday, all of the mess will be managed.  It could happen, right?

Here’s a picture of the piece I added for the magnetic containers.  img_2303

I am still trying to find better solutions for all of the school supplies, and working out ways to help keep everyone organized.  Does it seem silly that I push the organization so hard?  It’s just that I have watched all of our struggles through the years, and I know that we all work best when everything is where it is supposed to be.  I think that is true for most people.  I don’t think it matters what your “system” is so much as it matters that you find a system that works for you.  Maybe, for some people, not having a system is what works.  I don’t know.  I do know I can’t operate that way.  I need to know that the scissors will be in the drawer where we keep scissors, and the paper will be near the printer, and the index cards will be where we keep index cards, and that, if I look on the shelf where we keep extra notebooks, and it is empty, it means I need to buy more extra notebooks, and not that there are 47 empty notebooks shoved in various nooks and crannies around the house.  (Not that I was stressed out by the lack of organization or anything.  No. Not at all. I was totally rolling with the punches.)

So, here I am today, Tuesday, September 27th.  School has been in session for over a month, and I am still not feeling quite like I have gotten into the swing of things.  I keep being late for pick-up.  The house is messy all the time, and dinner is seldom ready before eight…thirty…nine.  Dinner is seldom ready before nine.  And sometimes, it’s leftovers, or carry-out.  But I have made some steps in the right direction this week, and I will keep plugging away.

I keep seeing signs for seasonal employment at the malls, and wondering if I am ready to make that leap (or, you know, very gentle step).  I am not ready to go back to teaching, but maybe just a few hours a week doing some kind of work would be okay… I mean, the paycheck sure would be nice.

Well, for now, it’s just a thought.  We will see.  I have a pile of clothing blanks to tie dye and list on etsy, and a few other things I need to attend to before it is time to pick up kids ~ and I would like to get in a little banjo and piano practice, too, if possible.  Wish me luck!

Here’s a picture of the Australian Violets in my garden.  They are the reason I don’t mow this part of the lawn.  🙂img_2325