What in the World is Going on in the World?

via 123rf

I have a pathetic confession, I have absolutely no idea what the latest, serious news stories are. This is usually not like me. I used to teach school and I know the importance of keeping up with current events. My normal “first thing in the morning” routine is to drink coffee (lots of coffee), read the news on my computer while I watch it on television; perfect multimedia multitasking. The truth is, from around the time the last Harry Potter was released, I haven’t paid one iota of attention to serious news. I’m not blaming this on Harry. Lord knows, the poor guy has had enough on his plate, with defeating “You-know-who” and restoring the wizarding world to normalcy, to shoulder any of my burdens. It is solely my doing, or the doing of my mid-life crisis, that has caused me to delve into the world of escapism. So, for the fun of it, I’ll share with you the few things that I’ve discovered during my six week hiatus from reality.

First off, I know exactly what’s happening on True Blood, and may I share that I wasn’t thrilled with episodes eight, nine, or ten. C’mon, Alan Ball, can’t you at least pretend to have read the

He's the man! (Photo via Wikipedia)

books? Next, I’ll confess that I wish I would have started watching Boardwalk Empire last season. I’ve watched the first seven episodes online and it is AMAZING!! You go Steve Buscemi! I’ve also been delving into documentaries more often than usual. I watched Supersize Me for the third time. I developed an appreciation for street art after my youngest recommended Exit through the Gift Shop and I surprised myself by enjoying Beyond the Mat, a film about the lives of several professional wrestlers.

It’s not just the high quality entertainment that premium channels have to offer that’s been making me forget stuff like who our president is or whether we’re allies with Libya, it’s the less costly, trashier channels that have been keeping me occupied, as well. Have I watched a women reenacting giving birth in a toilet, because she didn’t know she was pregnant? Yes. Have I observed housewives from New Jersey forgetting to follow the golden rule? You know it. Have I tuned in to Joey Greco showing hidden camera footage to woman who is ready to kick her cheating boyfriend’s ass? Yep. Do I know whether or not Eden Wood won the “Rumble in the Jungle” beauty pageant? That would also be a yes. Do I feel guilty for watching any of these low quality programs? Oddly, I don’t.

Picture via Amazon

Before you judge me too harshly, I also read. Like a champ, I read all of the blogs that I subscribe to almost every, single day. I’m also reading several books at once. My bedtime book is The Sea of Monsters; book two of the Percy Jackson series. My living room forwhentheTVgetsboring book is currently Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks, and my bathroom book is David Haviland’s Why You Should Store Your Farts in a Jar & Other Oddball or Gross Maladies, Afflictions, Remedies, and “Cures” (and, no, I didn’t make that up). I’ll admit, none of these are on the classics list, but if their subjects were too heady I wouldn’t be escaping.

As superiorly pleasurable as escapism is, I feel that it may be time to return to the world of the living. So, now I’m left wondering about the happenings of the world while I was “out-to-lunch.” Should I be learning Russian? Has the Zombie Apocalypse occurred? Have scientists discovered a cure for chronic flatulence? Only time, and a few Google searches, will tell.

How do you “escape,” dear readers?

Advertisements

Untethered

It's so big it's scary! photo via illinoislighting.org

I have a vague memory of being very small and walking outside to greet the night, barefooted and in my pink nightgown that was scattered with strawberries. We lived in the country far away from anything that resembles the sky glow that I face now on the nights when I try to find Orion, or the Big and Little Dipper. I sneaked past my parents, absorbed in their television program, and felt the crispy grass of August beneath my feet. From my hilled yard, I met the vastness of the speckled sky. My heart boomed in my chest and my breath quickened. It was so big, so wide and so endlessly enveloping that it scared me. So, I ran from the night in my little bare feet to the safety of my house, slamming the screen door behind me. I was relieved to see the white ceiling above me, and relieved to see my skin bathed in the artificial light of the living room lamp. My mother turned away from her show with a start at the slam of the door. I had frightened her, too. Why was her silly girl out of bed? She scooped me up, kissed my blond curls, and tucked me in the safety of my covers.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been staring at the night sky, but instead of finding myself faced with the enormity of space, I find myself enveloped by the vastness of this new role that I find myself in. I am mothering from afar. My oldest is five hours away and fully engrossed in biochemistry, microanatomy, and clinical skills. My youngest, is the independent young woman that I always knew she’d be. Do I need to remind her to take her medication, or make a doctor’s appointment? Nope, she’s got it. She has a boyfriend, a ton of girlfriends and plethora of activities that keep her busy. It’s just as it should be, and I know that my role right now is to step back and let both of them be the adults that they were raised to be. They’re busy tasting the fruit of independence, and I know from past experience that it is very sweet. But, what’s to become of me? The mother who held them tight and sheltered them, who cooked their favorite foods, cleaned their scrapes and read them stories? Who am I without them in my house and at my table, and tucked into their beds safely at night? That’s the question for me right now. Its answer could be as complex as the systems of stars I once feared, or it could be as simple and pure as the words on my screen. I am faced with freedom and there is a part of me that longs to be tethered to the safety of my past, bathed in the light of familiarity. There is also that fragment, so long ago sequestered by responsibility, who knows she must run out into the night, feel the sunbaked grass of August beneath her feet and embrace the endless sheet of night, the speckled stars and glowing moon, unafraid.

Do you know who you are and what you want from life? How did you invent, or reinvent, yourself?

 

Guess Who’s Back?

I’ve sort of been MIA lately, and for that I certainly do apologize. I love writing this blog and I especially love the friends that I’ve made on here. As many of you know, we moved my daughter into her new apartment last weekend. Her school doesn’t begin until August 1st, so she came back home with us for the week. She long ago promised to be the lead actress in a short film that my youngest daughter’s boyfriend is making for a horror festival. So tomorrow, after the last bit of fake blood has been scrubbed from her hair and after the neighbors, hopefully, stop wondering if we’re making a snuff film at my house, she’ll travel to her own home. Alone.

I remember in her sleepless, first weeks of life, exhaustedly holding her squalling, fitful form at four a.m. and counting on my fingers how old I would be when she turned 18. My lack of sleep begged me to be released from the fretful bondage of motherhood. As her sleep patterns normalized, granting me enough rest to return to the land of the living, I stopped counting the years and the days until she would become independent of me. Instead of my nemesis, she became my daughter; my little girl who loved horses and nature, going barefoot and doing things herself. Like all mothers, I’ll say that she was an amazing child. She is a natural leader and a cohesive force among her friends. She’s talkative, charming, hilarious, beautiful, and has a definite “it” factor. Of course, these are also things that a mother would say.

A good number of her teen years were similar to her first few weeks of life. She stretched and struggled to find her place in the world and like a new mother I toiled to find the right words and actions to comfort her and help her grow into a person worth knowing. Of course, there were screaming matches, and boys who were wrong for her and boys who were right. There were arguments about curfews, piercings, and multi-colored hair, and a rocky stint where she painted her bedroom ceiling black and blasted death metal to prove her defiance to the world. There were groundings and lectures, and lectures and groundings. Like in her early infancy, there were even a few nights that I found myself counting the years until her 18th birthday.

And then magically, sometime shortly after she turned 17, her angst dissipated, the dust cleared, her hair slowly found its way from magenta to its natural blond and she painted her room a soft, buttery, yellow. We started hanging out again and stopped arguing. She even confessed, during one of our late night talks, that she thought I was doing a pretty good job as her mom. By the time she turned 18, the thought of giving her a set of luggage and a bus ticket didn’t even cross my mind. This was a good thing because after graduation, she opted to attend a university only a few miles from our house and to save money she’s lived at home.

Tomorrow when she makes the solitary journey to her new home, my heart will ache when we say goodbye, but it will also soar with excitement for the both of us. It’s her time to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor, and my time to write my stories and create new memories with my youngest daughter.

So, to my beautiful oldest daughter and friend, I wish you a safe journey. To my readers, I thank you for sticking with me during this sketchy period. Finally, to my neighbors, though you may hear a few screams and see something that looks like blood in my driveway, all is well! I promise!

BY THE WAY…

Do you like free books? If you answered yes to this question, then you owe it to yourself to visit the lovely and generous Deborah Bryan, over at The Monster in Your Closet. Deb is giving away three copies of Sonya Sones’s Stop Pretending, plus one free paperback of your choice (under $20). Please click on her blog for details! AND while you’re there, check out her other posts. She’s a wonderful writer and I’m certain you’ll enjoy her uplifting blog!

Kicking it; Bucket List Style

A goal met long ago. It's me as an extra in a PBS movie. I'm not sure who the dude in the chair is, but he looks very in character! (Photo by my mom!)

I’ve been thinking of a “Bucket List.” No! I’m not becoming morbid, but I will be turning 50 in 2.5 years and it seems to me that I’ve gotten a bit too complacent. My life has become a series of status quo induced, bland, events and I’m in need of some spice. So, late last night, with my trusty husband by my side, I began composing a list of 50 things that I’d like to do before I hit the half century mark. Here’s how far I got:

1. Pay for the drive thru meal of the person behind me.

2. Publish something

3. Plant a vegetable garden (or at least a tomato plant)

4. Sew something

5. Take a writing class

6. Write a letter to someone who’s made a difference in my life

7. Reconnect with an old friend

8. Learn how to bake bread

9. See a Broadway Play

10. Find a snail mail pen pal

11. Visit Montreal

12. Go to a gay bar

13. Go 1 week without the internet

14. Refinish an old piece of furniture from a thrift store

15. Do impromptu stand-up comedy in a town far, far from home

16. Go to the Spy museum in DC

17. Write and host a murder mystery party

18. Watch a movie of my husband’s choosing and write a blog post review of it.

19. Add ten new words to Urban Dictionary.

20.

I pathetically couldn’t even make it to number 20 before I ran out of ideas and had to consult my trusty friend, the internet, for suggestions. After a quick Googling, I found tons of other people’s lists of things they wanted to do before they turned 50. The only problem was that most of these lists contained unrealistic goals for their set time frame. One dude, who happened to be 49, wanted to visit all seven continents, write a book, find a wife, and become a first time father. Unless this guy is rich enough to afford all of those travel expenses, writes a book while on his intercontinental flights, marries the first girl he meets on Match.com, has supersonic sperm and impregnates her on their first date and she gives birth to their child prematurely, it ain’t gonna happen! I found other lists that contained horrendous things that I’d never want to do, like spend a month alone in a jungle (ewww snakes!), win a spicy wing eating contest, (IBS anyone?) or go a month without bathing (why?).

With the net not being much of a help, I roused my dozing husband for advice. By this time it was well after midnight and I was in my usual state of punchiness. “How about adding watch the sun set from the upper deck of a cruise ship?” he suggested drowsily. I turned to give him my full attention, jiggling the sofa to further wake him. “Or, I could add, do an upper decker in the bathroom of a cruise ship,” I said with a giggle. He smiled sleepily. “You could take a trip on Route 66,” he offered in an attempt to keep the conversation sane. I moved in for a snuggle. “I could also write 666 on my forehead and take a trip to a Pentecostal church,” I said laughing even harder. He kissed my forehead with pity. “What about photographing all of the homes in our county that are on the National Historical Registry and posting the pictures on your blog,” hubby even more seriously suggested. I tickled him. “What if I photograph all of the homes of the people in our county that are on the Sex Offender’s Registry, and I post them at Wal-Mart?” I added. At this point my husband hauled me off to bed, deeming me too silly to write even a grocery list.

This morning, I awoke still pondering my list of goals to reach before turning 50. I thought of a few more items and I’m creating a new page for them on my blog. The fact is my “bucket list,” or whatever you want to call it, needs to be uniquely mine. As much as I would love to find answers via the internet or through suggestions from my hubby or blogging buddies, I know that I need to create list of activities that are realistic and distinctive to my personality and lifestyle. So, dear readers, stay tuned for my list. Also, out of curiosity, I must ask, what are some goals you’ve created for yourself? Do you have a timeline?

Mad, mad props must be given to the adorable Thoughtsy at Thoughts Appear. She has a great list of 35 things to do before she turns 35. She gave me full permission to modify and use her idea, and for that I am very grateful! Thanks Thoughtsy!

What Comes Next

I’ve been busy having my midlife crisis. The times a certainly are a changin’ at my house. My oldest daughter, to whom I have been attached cord, breast, and always heart, is graduating from our state’s university in less than a month. In July, she’ll move five hours away to attend medical school. My purely sweet youngest daughter, who needed me so much when she was ill, is now a thriving university student who is making her natural break from home and talking marriage with her long-time boyfriend. While I’m sad that the hands-on mothering stage of my life is coming to a close, I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m in complete awe of both of them, and in total wonderment of the natural progression of something that I didn’t experience. They are easing gently into adulthood without skipping any steps.

My entrance into adulthood felt abrupt. Its evolution seemed to move from my mother being sick, to my mother dying, to my father selling our family home and moving in with his girlfriend. The fact that I was a junior in college without a place to go home to on weekends, holidays and summers didn’t faze my father who was of the old school mindset of “18 and out.” While my life certainly wasn’t as difficult as the lives of some, I found myself thrust into adulthood with an incomplete copy of life’s survival manual.

Now as my daughters grow past the age when I became motherless, I marvel at what comes next. I experience with them, and through them, what my mother and I didn’t. I will see them walk across stages to get diplomas and possibly down aisles to get married. I will be privy to their life plans, listen to their worries, and guide them in solving their problems. They will never wonder where they will spend a holiday, or feel a mournful longing when a coworker speaks of “going back home” for the weekend.

As I write this I am sad, sad for my mother who so wanted me, and sad for the girl I was when I lost her. Yet, in my gloom I feel the distinct joy than one can only feel when they have been given a gift most though-out and meaningful. It is the gift of watching my daughters reach adulthood whole and prepared. The gift of watching the apron strings between us gently thin from love and wear, and dangle as ties between mother and child eventually must. It is the gift of watching them stand on the precipice of adulthood confident that their first steps won’t be into a swirling abyss of the unknown. But mostly, it’s the gift of knowing that if a page is missing from their life’s survival manual, they have the skills to rewrite it, and if they are unsure of the correct words, I’m just a phone call away.