When we were children My mother had a garden wild as we Full of bachelor’s buttons heron’s bill, vining twists of morning glory field madder and daisies Sunflowers, snapdragons, poppies, … Continue reading My Mother’s Weeds
I am forever grateful to my big sis, the one and only The Monster in Your Closet, for constantly inspiring me to do the things I love and to be a better person. And, for letting me be a guest author on her Prescribing Joy series. Check it out! Prescribing Joy: Reading Dreams – http://wp.me/p1kMtx-6u5
Pacing the floor To soothe That neurotic itch To get a few steps more For the FitBit lift But the floor is a maze A Labyrinth worth pacing A veritable … Continue reading The Maze of a Modern Mom
So my husband and I just celebrated our tenth anniversary. It was the most fun we’ve had in quite some time. We ate, we drank, we walked by the beach and marveled at how far we’ve come.
All in all, the last ten years have been nothing short of amazing. My love for my husband has grown over the years – I have seen him emerge from his teenage years into a responsible, caring, silly man. And now, seeing him with our daughter and pursuing his dream to be a doctor? Well, that love has become even more intense. He can still make me laugh, even as he drives me insane.
On a completely different note, my own life seems to have gotten a bit off track.
I am not really a medievalist anymore. I like to say I am, but I don’t live, breathe, and eat the medieval world and literature any more. I am not reciting Old English to begrudging college students like I once imagined I would be doing at this stage in my life. My dreams of being a writer are, well, active, sure, but I am not being paid to write (not yet, at least).
What happened? Where did that spark, the love of all things old and medieval go? Nowhere. It’s still here. It all comes down to money – I don’t have it!
Then, these last few weeks, well, I’ve just been feeling tired. Not a type of tired that sleeping will cure. It’s been a bone-tired, stretched-too-thin exhaustion, that has made me feel close to breaking. Is it pushing myself to read and write, being a mom, and working full time, and just feeling like I’m not quite doing anything justice? Is it fear of what may come, what might not come, and the failure that now is so much closer?
Perhaps. Or, maybe it’s that I feel like I’m spending a lot of time on things that don’t really matter. I’m watching my daughter grow up and I feel like I’m missing it. I get back from work and I am too wiped out to write, recently, or do much of anything.
Maybe it’s just that I truly needed this vacation. Vacations are good for the soul after all, and this one certainly has been. It’s let me get back in touch with me, not the tired, frazzled, cranky person I felt I’ve become become. I feel like I need to let myself become more grounded and centered again. I need to find that focus on the positive in life, rather than how short I am falling from where I want to be. Or stressed by those things outside of my control.
All in all, I’m feeling a lot more at peace, thanks to a vacation and visiting family. I have a lot of self-discovery and struggling to do, but that’s okay. I’ll figure it out. Or I won’t. And that’ll be okay, too.
So, I was a pretty morbid kid. By all rights, I’m a pretty morbid adult. As a kid in 4th grade, my first novel was a horror/fantasy novel by Dean Koontz, called Twilight Eyes. By the time I completed 5th grade, I had read almost everything Dean Koontz and Stephen King had published (except “It” – as a ten-year-old girl reading about the rape of a 10-year-old girl… I had to wait more than a decade before I was able to pick that book up again). As an adult, I enjoy writing horror and graphic violence doesn’t bother me.
I have been spending a lot of time recently thinking about the person I want to be for Amara. It’s been a constant journey, one that started as soon as Nick and I decided we wanted to have a child. Now that she’s here and becoming a little person so fast, it’s all the more real. I need to start modeling better behaviors for her, so she can see me trying to be the best person I can be.
The other day, feeling completely at peace and zen-like (possibly because Amara was still asleep and I had a full night’s sleep and coffee), I stepped out of the shower, and suddenly remembered a poem I memorized as a kid with my older sister:
by Nora Perry
What silences we keep, year after year
With those who are most near to us, and dear!
We live beside each other day by day,
And speak of myriad things, but seldom say
The full, sweet word that lies within our reach
Beneath the common ground of common speech.
Then out of sight and out of reach they go —
Those close, familiar ones who loved us so;
And, sitting in the shadow they have left,
Alone with loneliness, and sore bereft,
We think with vain regret of some fond word
That once we might have said and they have heard.
This is the cruel cross of life — to be
Full visioned only when the ministry
Of death has been fulfilled, and in the place
Of some dear presence is but empty space.
What recollected services can then
Give consolation for the “might have been”?
For those of you who know me, you’ll probably notice I apologize a lot and say “thank you” a lot. For those of you who’ve known me a while, then, you’ve probably heard me say “I love you”, because, heck, I do. If you’ve tolerated me for more than a few years, then by, gosh, you can bet I think of you fondly.
I am thankful for all the tools that shaped me to be the kind, compassionate, and loving (if very flawed) person I believe I am (ok, endeavor to be) today.
But a love based on loss is a grieving love. It predicts the end – it knows and fears what will come (not what may come). If loss is your center, the end will always be inevitable. It knows all joy is fleeting, and is waiting for the final hammer to fall. All relationships are tumultuous. But I want more than to be waiting for the end. I want the joy I have in each friendship, each moment, I want that to be my center. I want to express love simply so each person knows that they are loved, not because I fear that I may never have a chance to express that love again, in the worst of worst worlds.
My daughter, my husband, my siblings, my daughter’s godparents, my in-laws, my friends – they all have my love, and I find joy and peace in that now. There is no sadness or worry anymore.
Just joy. So, thank you, Nora, for giving me focus, but I won’t be needing you anymore. I won’t be afraid of the might-have-beens anymore, because I am living in the here and now. From here on, I will do my best to just be.
So, thanks to the amazing When Mike Met Mariska post written by a friend (seriously, if you haven’t already visited it, I highly recommend Making it Up as I Go – all you parents will laugh, cry, and generally commiserate with the smart, funny, tongue-in-cheek Mariska), I realized I have not written much about how I met my husband, Nick. Most of my friends know the story because, heck, they were there. Or have had to endure Nick and I making cutesy faces at each other for the last 16 years.
Anyway, the first time I met Nick was in my Sophomore year at high school. He transferred into my Biology class. I remember sitting in the front row of Bio, reading my horror novel carefully hidden in the pages of the Bio book, hoping not to catch anyone’s attention. For some reason, Nick was up at the front of the classroom, chatting comfortably with the instructor laughing and holding a french horn case, with his impeccably straight hair running past his shoulders. He glanced at me with a quick smile – and all I could think was: “What a jackass.” I don’t know what offended me so immediately. Perhaps it was his confidence and his shiny perfect hair (as compared to my ragged, frizzy hair that I kept in a bun 90% of the time to hide its unruly nature). Given my extremely shy personality (mind you, at this point, I went by “Raven”, my hair was fading from dyed black, and I tended to wear combat boots and tight black jeans with turtle necks), I was prone to think anyone who called attention to himself was a jackass. Or maybe it was because he was talking so loudly that I couldn’t focus on my horror novel. In all honesty, it was probably his confidence that I found unsettling. Until I met Nick, I had never really known what it was like to talk freely.
Nick went on to be generally disruptive the rest of my bio class that year. He was always causing a ruckus and getting sent across the room by Mr. S. He would complain that it wasn’t his fault, that P was doing something horrific to him (I think hitting his knee through some kind of martial arts helmet was his complaint at one point), and he would voice this complaint from one side of the room to the other. The whole time I would think to myself “What a jackass… ” In retrospect, all I can think is that I was really horrible. I like to think I’m not judgmental, but scaredy-cat Raven was incredibly judgy. Especially when people interrupted her very precious reading time.
Of course, according to Nick, his recollection of me from Sophomore Bio was the chick in the black jeans with the nice ass. So, maybe on some level, I was right?
Flash forward to my Junior year. I was still petrified. I thought that by interacting with people, they would somehow see how weak, stupid, or generally lacking I was, so I spent most of my lunch period outside on the bleachers behind the school – you guessed it – reading. At some point, a group of guys headed by my friend and neighbor Stu descended on my bleachers, and forced me to put the book away. At first, I thought the whole thing was a coincidence. It was random chance that they had appeared on the bleachers to hang out. They had probably included me in their friendly banter just to be nice. When it became clear that my reading haven had become the hang out for Stu and his group of friends, I found a new place to hide. It took no time at all before they found me again. After one more location swap, I gave up trying to find new places to squirrel away and read. These guys made me laugh. And Nick, with his much shorter hair and easy smile, wasn’t nearly the jackass I thought he was.
At that point, these guys invited me almost wholly into their midst. I succumbed to new levels of nerd-dom I had never known existed. D&D, RPGs, Boffing, oh, how my nerd-dom grew!
On my “study” period, I would often roam the halls, thinking, daydreaming and trying to pass the time until my next class. At some point, I started running into Nick in the halls. Being the generally clueless hermit I was, I thought it was funny that Nick happened to roam the halls connecting to the IHS wing to South. Especially since he wasn’t enrolled in IHS. We would chat about, hell, I don’t know what. I just remember feeling really at ease with him. I never felt that awkwardness when you don’t really feel like you have anything to talk about with someone. I never felt like I had to pretend with him. He seemed to accept me as I was, not questioning how broken I might be on the inside.
Then there was role playing. A friend of ours ran a few RP games, and Nick was one of the frequent members. At one point, Nick came late to a session having jogged to the house from a martial arts test. He was bold and plopped himself right in front of where I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, announced he was tired, and laid his head in my lap. I was completely taken aback as he seemed to doze in my lap, and looked up at my other friends, who seemed just as startled as I was. Stu made a “WTF? Are you two an item?” gesture at me, at which I replied with a wild “Help! I don’t know what to do!” gesticulation. This was apparently hilarious. But it was the start of something amazing.
Within a few days, I received a telephone call. Mind you, I didn’t give my telephone number lightly, so not many people had it. You can imagine my surprise when my mom told me it was Nick who had it, who had apparently gotten it from another friend. He had been holding onto my phone number for weeks, apparently, picking up the phone, before his nerves died and he placed the phone back on the receiver. Our friends were apparently ready to kill him, they were so tired of hearing about me from him. So, he gave in and called me. We talked for about 4-6 hours, until we both almost lost our voices and Nick’s mom came down and found him still on the phone well after midnight. Then, he quickly asked if I would like to see him. Just him. He asked if he could pick me up, and terrified, I said I would rather walk. I didn’t want him to come to my house and see how poor I was. He would maybe meet my mom, and depending on her mood, she would either seem lively, vibrant and funny, or terrifying, unpredictable, and intimidating. So, I walked to his house. When I got there, he commented on my medallion. He attempted to pick it up several times and kept fumbling and dropping it, so I took it off my neck, and that’s when I noticed how badly his hands were shaking. He was so nervous that he dropped the medallion underneath his fridge. Little ol’ me was making this seemingly confident guy tremble? I was stunned.
We went on a walk and continued to talk. I remember feeling nervous and happy all at the same time. After a while, he dropped me off at my house and gave me a quick hug, after letting me out of his car (mind you, he had to let me out of his car – the car wouldn’t open from the inside – this was mostly hilarious, because my mom had thought Nick was such a gentleman until her car broke down and he gave her a ride. Then she found out, and said she hadn’t realized she was letting her daughter ride around in a date-rape car, and politely asked Nick to fix it, which he politely ignored, until the car blew up and he got a new car).
Anyway, it’s difficult to convey the awkwardness and awesomeness that went into this dating process. I was relatively new, and hadn’t had any dating experience outside a couple of REALLY awkward experiences from middle school. Someone asked me if we were boyfriend and girlfriend, and I said I didn’t know, because, hell, I didn’t. I liked him. He seemed to like me. We went on a couple of walks. We would talk at boffing sessions, but we had barely held hands, so what did that mean?
I asked Nick later that day, trying to play it off, so I wouldn’t show how nervous I was that he might say “What?! No, we’re just friends.” Luckily, playing it cool, he said we could be if I would like us to be. I said only if he wanted us to be, to which he said, “Sure.” Not quite the commitment I was looking for, but it was close enough. I went distractedly through the rest of the day, alternating between a state of excitement and nervousness.
In the next few days, I found myself opening up to Nick in ways I had never opened up to anyone. I told him everything about myself, and he accepted it with calmness, encouragement, and sympathy (but not pity – I would never have forgiven pity).
Two weeks after our “boyfriend/girlfriend” conversation, at the very end of a date, Nick leaned in and kissed me for the very first time. It was a simple kiss, but magical all at the same time. At the very end, he leaned back, looked into my eyes and said “I love you.” He turned, after dropping the bombshell, and started to trot down my front stairs. I blurted out an “I love you, too” and was horrified that the words came out, as (if you know me), I HATE lying or saying things that might be even slightly untrue. As I watched him drive away, though, I felt a sudden rush of emotion and realized that even though I may have blurted out the words, and even if we had only been dating briefly so far, the words were true. I did love him. He was kind, thoughtful, funny, and spirited. Later, I would learn that he was crass, compassionate, loyal to the end, timid on occasion, and the most amazing man I had ever met.
My family has always been a relatively small unit (my mom and siblings against the world!), so when Nick committed to me, he took on the whole messy shebang. And he loved us all – my amazing, wonderful, beautiful, roller-coaster family. He was my rock through the custody battles my mom went through with my dad (and he’s the one who posed the innocent question to then 17 year old me “If you’re so terrified of your dad, why do you have to go see him?” I had never questioned it. Dad calls, we go. I had never thought of the situation where: Dad calls, I say “I don’t want to see you. I’m not going.”) And life got better.
There are so many different ways in which Nick’s simple questions instilled me with a new lens to look at myself. I used to write him notes and that would say “You saved my life.” And it was true. I have a family, accomplishments I wouldn’t have dreamed of when I was a kid, and the life I have today because he loved me and taught me to love myself.
Yes, I am who I am because I persevered, but life would have been a helluva lot cruddier if I had to muddle through it all on my own. It’s been a rollercoaster, and it hasn’t all been pretty, but damned if I am not still in love with that wonderful (snoring) man.
So, I still haven’t begun editing my second draft of Waking Dreams. I am finally through with a course of antibiotics for the nasty sinus infection I’ve been battling, but the fact that I am up writing due to a coughing fit, well, that means I may need to go for another round. Oh well! Who needs sleep anyway?
And since sweet sleep is elusive, I thought I would write about something else – love. I am incredibly lucky in this department. For whatever else we lacked in my home growing up (t.v., toys, gadgets, or most nifty things that “money” could buy), my mom poured love on us. I knew what it felt like to have someone wrap their arms around me when I was sick, who would stand up for me if she thought I was being treated unfairly, and I experienced the duality of the safety and ferocity of a mother’s love. It makes me so sad that so many out there have never experienced that love.
Then there are my siblings – my God, I am lucky there, too. I have three of the most amazing siblings I could ever have asked for. My older sister has always been a constant encouragement, allowing me to feed my dreams. Oh, the dreams we dreamed! And continue to dream. My younger brother is one of the most solid guys I know – he always speaks his mind and wears his heart on his sleeve. And since he lives with me, he endures a lot of older sister abuse. (ie: “Hey, D? Can you hold the baby for a sec? PSYCH! She’s got a load in her shorts!” *older sister runs away* This is somewhat similar to the age old “Hey, want the last bite of the Snickers bar? Psych! It’s just the wrapper! mwa-ha-ha-ha!” *runs away leaving younger brother to throw away the candy bar wrapper*) Seriously, though, my bro? He’s also one heck of a baby sitter. My youngest sister is the sweetest lady you’ll ever meet, and is now expecting her second little one. She has a lot of love to give, and I am so lucky to have her and that she put up with all my cruddy “The Green Hand” stories growing up (Don’t ask about this story! Just know, everyone dies in all variants. I think my older sis told it to me, or I just adapted and readapted it from the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” short stories. I was a sick kid.). I could go on and on about each one of my siblings, but know this – mess with my siblings, and it is on. We may annoy the heck out of each other on occasion, but, well, that’s family. I wouldn’t change anything about a single member of my family.
I am lucky in love in yet another way. I found the love of my life when I was only 16 years old. Now, almost 16 years later, we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. It’s more than a little amazing. He’s as funny, silly, loving, thoughtful, handsome, and snuggly as ever. It’s funny to think that so many people don’t really see the real Nick – they see someone who always has a crude joke ready for any occasion, but don’t see the man in the background, quietly supporting his friends, family and wife. Someone who convinced his mentally ill soon to be mother-in-law that she needed to go to her daughter’s wedding, in spite of the awkwardness. Who later stood up to her when she kept attempting to break into our house, because she was convinced we were trying to poison her. He screened those ugly phone messages, so I wouldn’t have to hear the hate in my mother’s voice. In spite of everything, he still treated my mother with compassion and respect, knowing how important it was to me that he not define my mother by her illness. Later, as she was on hospice, my mom fell and he picked her up (a woman slightly taller than him, and heavier, even though the chemo and cancer made her look stick thin) and laid her so gently down in bed, I would never have guessed that there had ever been a tumultuous history there. The look of love and tenderness on his face – that memory still makes me cry. If he had known I was watching, I am not sure I would have actually been able to glimpse that… I am so happy he has grown into the man he is, and that I got watch him as he grew. One thing, if you are growing up with your spouse, you learn that you do need to give them a lot of room to grow. I am not the same girl (thank god! Dear emo Raven, you can stay tucked back in the past, thank you), and he’s not the same boy. I am so thankful that the wonderful boy I started dating all those years ago grew into this wonderful man and father to our little girl.
There have been so many people over the years who said variants of “Puppy love? That will never last.” Well, it has. And it’s awesome. I know people think they are helping by trying to nay-say, prepare the youth for heartbreak, etc, but you’re not. You’re spreading your negativity and telling youth that because your love didn’t last, theirs shouldn’t. Listening to the radio this morning, I heard the radio personality say that some celebrity should “Get a room” for saying cutesy things to their boyfriend in a public forum. This always has annoyed me. Nick and I heard it all the time in High School (we did receive the distinction of “Most Public Displays of Affection” so I may be prone to bias. Maybe.). I wonder about that – people think showing love is somehow something that should be hidden away. It’s okay for people to kiss on TV or a movie screen, but heaven forbid they do it on a sidewalk! *gasp* Society somehow has the right to squelch others from holding hands, hugging, or kissing in public for “decency” or “respectability”. Why? Are we afraid of the intimacy? Why does it offend us that someone else is comfortable enough to do this in public, that we feel it’s necessary to shout or otherwise deride them?
Personally, I think it’s fu*&ed up that it’s more acceptable to spew hate and ridicule than it is to spread love. That we (and I think this is human beings, not just Americans) find it easier to mock people than to see the good in them and what they are doing. Perhaps this is just the Hippie Rambler talking. But really? Next time, you see a couple kissing, with that doe-eyed look in their eyes when they look at each other? And you want to say “It won’t last”, “That feeling will fade”, or the all time classic “Get a room”, ask yourself this: Who the fu*& are you to tell anyone anything about what they feel and how they show it? Back off and let them rejoice that they found love. Love is precious, and yes, it can be fleeting. You never know when it will be gone or, God forbid, taken away from you.