Thursday, July 31, 2008

Neglected Books

I got this meme from Elizabeth over at Lonely Wombat. Apparently, these are the books most frequently marked as "unread" by Library Thing's users. One wonders why people keep them around, I suppose. I mean, certainly, I've read every book on my bookshelves! (cough...sputter...nose growing!) Here's the game. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school, and italicize the ones you started but didn't finish. Here's the twist: add (*) beside the ones you liked and would (or did) read again or recommend to other people.

The Aeneid
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
American Gods
Anansi Boys
Angela’s Ashes: a Memoir
Angels & Demons
*Anna Karenina
Atlas Shrugged
The Blind Assassin
Brave New World
*The Brothers Karamazov
The Canterbury Tales
The Catcher in the Rye
A Clockwork Orange
Cloud Atlas
Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed
A Confederacy of Dunces
The Confusion
The Corrections
The Count of Monte Cristo
*Crime and Punishment
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
David Copperfield
Don Quixote
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Fountainhead
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
The God of Small Things
The Grapes of Wrath
Gravity’s Rainbow
Great Expectations
Gulliver’s Travels
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
The Historian : a novel
*The Hobbit
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
*The Iliad
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
The Inferno
*Jane Eyre
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
The Kite Runner
Les Misérables
Life of Pi : a novel
Love in the Time of Cholera
Madame Bovary
*Mansfield Park
Memoirs of a Geisha
Mrs. Dalloway
*The Mists of Avalon
Moby Dick
Northanger Abbey
*The Odyssey
Oliver Twist
*The Once and Future King
One Hundred Years of Solitude
On the Road
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Oryx and Crake : a novel
*A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
The Picture of Dorian Gray
*The Poisonwood Bible
*A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
*Pride and Prejudice
The Prince
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
The Satanic Verses
The Scarlet Letter
*Sense and Sensibility
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Silmarillion
The Sound and the Fury
*A Tale of Two Cities
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
The Time Traveler’s Wife
To the Lighthouse
Treasure Island
The Three Musketeers
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Vanity Fair
*War and Peace
Watership Down
White Teeth
*Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
*Wuthering Heights
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values

So, there are benefits to going to a Great Books college -and most of them show up in these all-important-to-living-a-full-life memes ;) But I haven't even heard of some of these books. Apparently their authors aren't dead enough, so we didn't study them!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bereft, Darlings, Simply Bereft ;)

Right this minute, I love my life.

It's too hot here. We're having our annual few days where having an air conditioner (or six) would be really nice. And in the interest of hospitality, I'll do my best to get them into the windows before my sisters get here. I ought to hate these days where sweat runs down your back even when you're holding still, but I love them. The sky is blue. The grass is still green (that won't last much longer).

The lilies are beautiful. The whole things just hurts your eyes it's so lovely.

And I'm on vacation. As a person who has always worked too hard, even at meaningless jobs, it's interesting to love NOT working sometimes. I never understood that before now. The silence...the not needing to go anywhere I don't want to go... the absence of people needing things NOW (whether or not they really do)...I ought to feel bereft, but I don't.

I'm loving my school-work. It ought to be tedious to be back in a classroom. It SO VERY isn't. It can be over-freaking-whelming to try to get everything done. But the joy of having ideas banging around in my head again, that's almost too much to bear, it's so wonderful.

I ought to be lonely, not having a man around, and all. I am SO VERY NOT. I wish I could do more with my friends and family, true enough. Sometimes I have to say no to opportunities because I just can't schedule something in. But another way of saying the same thing is that there is an embarrassment of riches in the social department. I have all I can do and then some.

I know you must have noticed that most of the time I focus on the things I'm not getting done, on the opportunities I miss or never even noticed until they were gone. I concede, possibly, that I'm a little hard on myself :) And maybe in light of those days, these good days seem a little mercurial. Perhaps.

But today, all is right in my world. Right this minute I'm not lacking a thing that I need or want. And tomorrow my sisters arrive. Could it GET any better?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Escape Velocity

Escape velocity is the speed at which the kinetic energy of an object is equal to the magnitude of its gravitational potential energy. It is the speed needed to "break free" from a gravitational field without any additional impulse. (So, it's a speed rather than a velocity? Which explains why it's called a velocity. Oh my brain.)

But what it is today is a metaphor. It takes some energy to launch a life. It takes, apparently, quite a lot of energy. And the hardest part is launching the damn rocket the first inch off the launch pad. You guys mostly get the credit for that in my life.

Never fear. I'll take credit where credit is due ;) I'm getting better at that. I'm getting better at defending my turf, at standing my ground, AND at flying. But the getting me off my launch pad -that's you.

So, it's time to have another party. A thank-you party. A celebration. And a birthday party.

Last year, my birthday party was a cold sterile affair. I didn't know why yet, but of course now I do. This year it's going to be a thing of joy -in spite of the rather tragic number attached to this birthday. You're all invited and I hope you come.

It's Friday at 7 at my house. Be there! I've escaped the black hole where I was a year ago. I really have. It turns out that Dave is the kind of guy women get over ;) It turns out that I can have a life that is exciting and shiny and new. Please let me thank you for that. Come on over!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I didn't have a perfect day

I had the most amazing realization today. Here's the background.

I've had the stomach flu for a few days. It's going around the shelter. We've had four people in the hospital, for heaven's sakes. But I was just .... discomfited for 36 hours, and I'm feeling fine now.

So I had three days off from a job I don't particularly like anyway. And then, Thursdays are always hard, and today was true to form. And then there was a 2 hour meeting at the end of the bloody day. And then, I heard from my lawyer as to the tactics that are likely to be on display at the settlement hearing. And....

Six months ago I would have been sobbing into my soup.

But tonight, I sat at my new kitchen table and drank my single glass of wine and ate my baked potato and salad and read my book and thought..."this is lovely. Nothing about this would be improved if Dave were here. I'm sort of glad he's not."

I didn't have a perfect day. But I confronted some hard things. I heard some good things. I had a pleasant evening with my book and my dinner. I had a lovely little bike ride before it got dark.

It wasn't a perfect day, but it was a powerful day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Leaning Forward into my Life

I'm not a risk taker. I think we've established that. But I'm learning.

Somehow today it sunk in. I need to do still more. Accept still more responsibility -and live up to it. Accept more opportunities. Stop seeing so many things as insurmountable challenges.

My house, for example. Getting it appraised for the divorce settlement has just been a ridiculous ordeal. I'm on my third appraiser -fourth if you count the one Dave chose. This guy, my third choice, will finally give me something I can use, I hope. The first one came up with numbers that were indefensibly low. Those numbers benefited me, but honestly, they were crap. The second one wouldn't share how he arrived at his probably-reasonable numbers. So, his position was really also indefensible, in a legal sense. Yesterday I finally met with someone who will give me what I need. But it was hard to hear his blunt assessment of my house. There is a LOT that needs to be addressed before I could consider selling it. And if I'm going to fix all that, I might as well live here, for heaven's sakes. It was good to have the benefit of fresh eyes and to hear his candid advice, but it wasn't exactly easy.

Step up to the plate. It is at least possible that I will get a paid-for house from the divorce settlement. If I put aside what would be even a modest house payment and use it for repairs, I'll be making progress.

Career stuff. I still don't know what I'm going to do about my current job. But it became clearer to me tonight that I need to do something other than coast through this class I'm teaching. Not that I would coast, really. But I'm not grabbing it with both hands and shaking it, you know? There are opportunities I need to grab. A conference on women and leadership in Sri Lanka. A conference in Denver. A long study-opportunity in Ireland. These are things I need to take advantage of. I need to work the rest of my life out so that I can take advantage of these opportunities. I need to figure out a way to pay for them.

Step up to the plate. Stop thinking "wouldn't that be nice?" and just make it happen.

I had lunch with the girl-child today and I was venting that I felt overwhelmed and couldn't do everything that needed to be done. I'm going to need to buy a new car soon. I have a house to fix. I have relationships with friends and family that I am woefully neglecting. I have responsibilities to my career. I can't do it.

She just calmly said, "you ARE doing it." Oh yeah. I guess I am. Now to do a little bit more. Maybe I lived such a small life for so long that comparatively little forward motion feels like it's a whirlwind. Maybe there's room for a little more oomph.

I'll sleep when I'm dead ;)

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Meeting" my Needs

A post in which Andrea rants. Don't faint ;)

I actually don't mind meetings. In my world, they are a good way of getting things done. Social work is..ummm... social. We're supposed to solve problems in circles. Academics occasionally lack social skills strictly speaking, but the "come let us reason together" idea is very available to them. So between one thing and another I spend a lot of time sitting around a table, trying to work things out.

But some meetings send me right over the edge into a snark fest. I hate meetings that could be replaced by e-mail, memo, text message, or even podcast. Meetings are for discussion points, not announcements. I have decreed ;) But really, doesn't that seem right, for most situations? If you want to be sure we saw it, ask us to respond to the message. If at that point there seem to be misunderstandings, then we do need a discussion.

Every meeting has a cost. Six people were in the snark-fest-resulting meeting yesterday. Multiply their salaries by an hour and a half, and then ask if there were that much benefit to the agency, the people we serve, or us. NO NO NO. It took half an hour for the announcement that the new director wants us to have house meetings for the residents. Got it. Move on. No wait... it needs to be said again. Could that dollar amount have been put to better use? Going way out on a limb here.... OH YEAH!

I hate meetings that feel like 8th grade student council. If I never sit in a circle and tell my life story again, I will be fine with that. Don't make me do activities. I do not want to play with trust walks, hula hoops, or oranges. Don't let people have (too many) side conversations. Facilitate the damn thing and let us go home. Again, it's a question of respect. Please at least pretend that you respect our time. Don't nag us to turn off the lights, and then be so flagrantly wasteful of your human resources.

I hate meetings with no agenda. I hate meetings where my presence is required but not important. If I'm really just warming a chair, you should at least be subtle about it. That's just good manners.

Now... I need to think of a polite way to bring this up where it matters.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Trowel and Error

I've blogged about Dave's gardens before. Their rectilinear nature... their colors... their beauty, certainly, but also their rigidity.

Well, I'd sort of taken care of the rigidity part by not taking care of them at all. It had become a jungle out there. I had to walk the long way around the garage to take the trash out because I could no longer navigate the path through the gardens. The peonies and the cone flowers and heaven-only-knows-what had decided that the path belonged to them.

I had good intentions. But I would look at the gardens and not know what was what, feel stupid, and then go in the house. This, as it happens, isn't much of a gardening strategy. My dear friend Terri took pity on me. Or she felt vaguely unsettled by what I was allowing to happen back there. I think she might have thought the jungle would encroach into the house, strangle me in the night, and then creep back into its bed, apparently docile but really just waiting for its next victim. Clearly, she had to take action.

We just got started, but there are 7 giant yard waste bags waiting at the curb, along with several piles of dead branches. We lopped, we yanked, we pruned, we weeded, we heaved, we hauled. Tomorrow, I'm going to be hoping that aspirin is a food group ;) Sometimes Terri would say "that's a weed. Let's get rid of it." More often, though, she would say "what do you want? It's up to you."


Oh yeah. Right. It IS. I don't like hollyhocks, especially. She does. Some of them have gone to her house. I don't have to have them, just because they're planted here!! I do dearly love my lilac tree. So we tried to save it, even though disastrous things happened to it this winter. See all the stuff we had to cut off it?

There's still a lot to do. But today I remembered that I like to garden. I learned that if I accidentally pull up a poppy while I'm aiming for the weeds, the police do not come. I learned that I like to play in the dirt. I learned that these are my gardens now. And I can learn to tend them, nurture them, and help them evolve into welcoming, nurturing spaces.

Thanks, Terri!

And I love to garden with someone else who thinks that gardening involves sitting!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Masks We Wear

I tell myself that all day long each of us reveals exactly who we are to the careful observer. And some of us are so right out there in front with our stuff that there's just no pretending. It's not exactly a secret that, say, I can get tangled up in my own head with questions about things, or that I can be a tidge hard on myself or... You get the idea.

But apparently I believe -really believe- mutually exclusive things. And I think we all do this, too. I think we both reveal who we are and mask who we are.

I believe -absolutely believe- that you, dear readers, are all beautiful, brilliant, skinny, talented, capable, successful, and you deserve every wonderful thing that has happened to you. You may think otherwise, that it's just a mask you wear. But (in my assessment of this), I'm right, because I'm a careful observer. You are telling your story with your actions, and I can read the story. I, on the other hand, am nutty as a fruitcake, smart enough, I suppose, fat, lazy, and disorganized. I sometimes make people believe otherwise, but the true story is my inner uncertainty. Somehow I think that any good or strong thing I do is either an accident or in spite of really fundamental fucked-up-ness.

It doesn't occur to me that you might be masking uncertainties or frailties, too. Nor does it occur to me that other people could be careful observers of me, and read the true story of my actions as brave or powerful or ...anything much of interest.

But here's what happened last night, you guys. And you're going to laugh. At quarter to midnight, I was still at work. A much younger woman who works at the same place called and wanted to pick my brain. I've only recently told the people at work about the ending of my marriage. At first it didn't seem like their business. Then I liked the fact that there were some people who didn't know; there was a place of respite. Then, gradually, it started to feel like I was lying by not telling people and it had to be done. They have all been a model of support and caring. She too is in the process of ditching a big-time Mr. Wrong, and having a hard time of it.

She said.... she ACTUALLY said... "I need your advice. I can't get over SCUM BAG LOSER-GUY (I believe she might have used his name here) no matter what I do, and you (meaning ME!) seem to be doing so well". I wrote it down in my journal, I was so excited. And then I remembered that she sort of wanted the conversation to be about her ;) I managed to pull myself together and talk to her, I promise.

I have made it a point not to bring my troubles to work. (I just dump them all over the internet instead.) There are of course professional reasons why doing anything else would be a bad idea. But I also just need there to be a place where that's not the main story about me. But my friends and family know how close to the edge I got. And she actually thought I had it together!!!

Do you suppose I might????

Monday, July 14, 2008

An Ode to Thalia

Thalia is the green bike. She is a work of art.

I did two things when I got back to town in the fall: I joined a different gym and I bought a fabulous bike -a more-expensive-than-my-car bike. The thing is, both those things match my old fitness level, but are WAY more than I need now. A year of emotional upheaval and 6 months now of ever-increasing scheduling madness have pretty much destroyed my fitness levels.

It's almost embarrassing to ride this bike these days. Here's this fabulous work-of-art bike that Lance Armstrong would be proud to ride -and it's being ridden by a fat, middle-aged woman who would do fine with a bike from Wal-mart. But today is my late-day at work and the weather is gorgeous, so I braved the existing-only-in-my-head ridicule and went out for a 1/2 hour bike ride. And, as frequently happens, the cobwebs cleared and ....

I HAD A THOUGHT. an actual thought ;)

I was right to join the gym and buy the bike. I don't have to be already-fit to deserve them. Those two actions signaled my new life, done my way. It's just taking me a little while to figure out how I want that to look.

I could, for example, use the lovely Thalia as a way to get some fun vacationing in. Next year, I could drive the two of us to, say, Pennsylvania, visit with my sister, and ride the Covered Bridge Metric Century. I checked, and there are interesting rides where each of my siblings and my mother live. This could be fun, and a project well worth training for. I can and will bike the beautiful paths and roads around here. I can reclaim fitness starting where I am, a little bit at a time. I don't have to do it all today.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My Babies Left the Nest

Not those babies! They did, of course, and they're flying spectacularly, bless their dear hearts. And of course, I couldn't resist the urge to put a picture of my pretty babies where everyone could see it ;)

Different babies. I woke up this morning to...nothing. It took me a minute to figure out why that was strange. Every year for decades now a pair of birds (I assume not literally the same birds.) has made a nest on the roof by my bedroom. I can tell when the babies are born, and I listen for their chattering and fluttering around. Then after a few weeks of racket, I remember how much trouble babies are, and I think "for goodness sakes, settle down or fly away!". And then they do, and I miss them. Sound familiar?

I guess yesterday their mother must have decided that the time had come, and she sent them off to try their wings.

The metaphor is so obvious it's a little sloppy. But here's the thing. How does the mom or the baby know it's time to fly? The stakes are a tad high; if she's wrong, it's not going to go well at all. Does the newly-independent baby ever come back to visit the old homestead, looking backward rather than forward?

I guess the birds grow. At first they shift and wiggle and make room for each other, eat more, and generally make it work. And then one day, there is no "making it work." They don't fit in the nest anymore, and off they go. Einstein said that problems cannot be solved at the level of thinking that created them in the first place. So, the baby birds have a paradigm shift? I suppose they must. They fly away, and as far as I know, don't come back.

And if they can do it, I can do it. I think about the broken-me of last fall, and realize it's important to claim the progress I've made and the successes I've had. And even some of the failures were successes of a sort, because I found the courage to try. Thinking small -being small- was my part in the marital debacle. I was unfaithful to me. So,continuing to be small, assuming Einstein is right, is not going to get me out of this jam.

Thinking I need to challenge:
I'll never get a better job.
I can't return to academia.
I will always be pudgy.
I can't be financially independent.
I won't succeed alone.
I'm physically weak.
My body is betraying me.

Wouldn't it be nice if I could get that chatter to silence, just like the baby birds flew away and left silence behind??? I'll work on it. I have to.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

An Afghan for Sam

OK, Sam. I seem destined to take bad pictures of your afghan. The thing is... it's actually not ugly. Which works out nicely, because who wants an ugly afghan? The colors aren't this muddy, really. But you should know that I have officially abandoned hope for giving this afghan to your mom to bring back to you at the end of this month. It's just not happening. Sorry, dude.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Do Not Go Gentle

Well, damn it anyway.

Most of you know that I like to climb around on rocks with my children. I stink at it, but I love it. I also have this medical theory that one's body is beautifully made, designed to heal itself most of the time. Yeah. About that. I've had some chronic, worsening pain for a while. I figured I was bashing myself around with the rock climbing. (And I do have some interesting owies, if you'd like to see them.) But I finally had to concede that my body was not healing and go to the doctor.

I told him that the pain in my knee was from a rock climbing accident -which I believed to be true. Unfortunately, it was not. I have arthritis and not just in my knee. It's in my hands and feet as well -which at least explains the chronic pain I have there, for whatever that's worth. It's not, apparently, a mild case and the doctor concedes that I am too young for this situation to be quite as serious as it is. It makes knitting hard. On bad days, it even makes typing difficult. Yoga and biking and rock climbing can all hurt.

This seems like a situation that I should be able to reason away. Don't you get it? I am too young. I am not obese. As far as I know, I have none of the genetic risk factors. Shoo. Go bother someone else. Alas, arthritis seems to be immune to reason -and completely uninterested in the fact that it is an unwelcome guest in my life. Ghastly, rude thing!

So, this gets to be (yet another) area of my life where I have to take charge because of information I didn't want. I take medicine when I remember. Losing a bit of weight is now urgent and about much more than aesthetics. Reclaiming an exercise regimen is non-optional behavior. Finding new activities, adjusting old ones, figuring out what soothes, trying to be bigger and tougher than the obstacles -those are my tasks. Every once in a while, my brain dances around the questions of an old age fraught with limitations and indignities. Southern belle that I am, I channel Scarlet O'Hara and vow to think about it tomorrow. I just don't want to go there right now.

I know plenty of people who have it worse than I do, and I'm ashamed to be whining. But today I feel like I'm about 900 years old, and I'm raging.

Work it, Dylan, work it

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Stormy Weather

Here's what we have going on:

and this:

The clouds are going one way and the rain is going another?? Actually, now it's settling down a bit, but there for a while it was exciting. I love thunderstorms. I have a child who really REALLY didn't, until she was about 10. (Sorry, kid... English pronouns are gender-specific. It's kind of obvious which one was in my bed at the first sound of thunder!) Actually, that's a lovely, cozy memory. Not the scared child part, exactly. But we'd be in bed, hear thunder... and then, like clockwork, the scuff of little pajama feet on the wood floors as said-incognito-child scampered to "safety".

She's become a grown-up and so have I. After I enjoyed the view and took some pictures, I ran around to see if the gutters were all working. That would be a no. I wonder what I do about that?

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Planning for Healing

I gave up on regular planners a long time ago. I tried -and gave up on- web-based planners as well. I had a Palm Pilot and some other hand-held gizmos of the early days. They didn't work either. It is possibly not a surprise to you that my brain is quirky ;) But if there is to be any glimmer of hope that I will get to my appointments on time AND finish my projects AND take care of myself and other people, then I have to have something.

The Andrea-planner is born. Actually it's born and born again every month when it's time to print new pages. I admit to being a brat. If I don't like my tools, I won't use them. And then I'll forget to pick you up at the airport, or something. So it behooves all of us for me to have a planner that matches the whole bag of crazy that is my brain. I need a pen-and-paper tool for scheduling. I want two pages per day. I want them to be a certain size. I like it if the paper is pretty. One thing I particularly want is for the planning categories to make sense to me, and they have to be clever. God forbid I should be bored! This month they are:

Stage Your Comeback (this is physical health/fitness/weight stuff)
Be a Domestic Goddess (see yesterday)
Create a Life that Matters (this title still isn't quite right -it's learning/writing/blogging...that stuff)
Make Yourself Indispensable (work tasks)
Be Your Own Bodyguard (healing my heart, confronting my fears, positioning myself for the next job, financial security stuff)
Grow Your Roots (friends and family stuff)
Let Yourself Fly (making room for adventure and gratuitous self-care)

These categories have sub-tasks, and I get a little kick out of making sure that all the pieces of my life are getting attention and resources. And sometimes I learn something about my own growth and evolution by watching how that process goes.

I have almost nothing this month in "healing my heart". That meant, of course, taking steps to be less broken and defeated from this divorce process. I STILL haven't gotten around to anger at Dave, but I have managed boredom. I just don't care what he does anymore. Sometimes his narcissism surprises and appalls me, but it doesn't wound me. I think my heart isn't broken anymore. And I learned that from my planner!

I'm thinking that next month that category will be renamed Thriving After the Pain. Thriving as Revenge? (just kidding about that one) Surviving Becomes Thriving? Anyway... I'll think of the right witty category-name. But the point it, my heart is whole again. At least for now.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Home Economics

Nigella Lawson says it wryly in her first cookbook. It's roughly, "You don't want to be a domestic goddess. You want people to think you're a domestic goddess." I actually do want to be a domestic goddess, in some ways. My long-suffering life coach keeps encouraging me to explore why I'm embarrassed about that. (And I keep deflecting the question. I've got mad skills in the deflecting department!)

I mean, really. You guys know I knit. I'm certainly not embarrassed about that. You know I love playing around with my house and trying to make it pretty. You know I like to have parties and cook for my friends. You know I'm more than a little dotty about babies, especially ones I'm related to. I like "girl things," although I quibble with calling them girl things. I like the tasks that have historically been women's work. Is that better? Of course knitting was originally a guy thing -maybe- depends on who you ask. You see the problem.

Anyway... stop dithering, Andrea. Here's the point.

It only takes about 5 minutes of cruising around the blogosphere looking for other people who actually like making a home, before you want to flee, shrieking. Who are these people? "I want to honor my husband's greater needs." That kind of thing. Or the women who completely define themselves through their children; it's the only role they can imagine having ever. Or the horror that is FlyLady's website -someday I'll blog about why I think her stuff is so destructive. Whoever these people are, I certainly don't have much in common with them. There are a few sites where the young, hip women who made knitting trendy again are looking at other crafts, and making a home is part of their concern. But I'm not 20, and insouciance and coolness are no longer available to me. (Andrea whistles innocently.... can I make them believe that coolness was EVER available to me???)

This post was going to be about Mary's new pantry project, which I think is way more inspired than she's giving herself credit for. Stockpiling a pantry isn't just about saving money. It's about eating gracefully and intentionally. It's about being prepared for unexpected company and having a home that's ready to welcome people in. And saving money, too. I am going to play the pantry game. But I discovered -oh, stop the presses- that doing so was connected to other issues I need to think about.

I think I need a mission statement for my home. Even if it's not this house, my home will be somewhere. If I know how I want it to look and feel and "be", then I can craft a plan for getting there. My home won't be -has never been- the primary way that I live out my mission in the world. But it could be part of that, couldn't it?

Welcome and hospitality are justice issues, after all. Fun has to show up in the mission, too. Comfort. Warmth. Creativity. Gentleness.

OK, so it needs work. I'll think on it. And in the meantime, I'll stock up on canned tomato products and play the pantry game with other domestic goddesses.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Get Out of my Space!!!!

Not YOU, for goodness sakes!

This is another one of those posts that will convince you that it's a whole mess o' crazy inside my head. Here's what I'm thinking -two completely unrelated things that have linked themselves as possibly being about the same underlying thing.

I've thought for a while that my pretty bed might look better with two pillows on it instead of one. I had an extra pillow -with no pillowcase on it- on the floor next to the bed for at least a week. (Because we all know how hard it is to put a pillowcase on a pillow -insert eyeroll here!) Yesterday morning I finished the project and instantly felt uneasy. Last night, I went to bed with the other pillow on the bed and felt downright crowded. I threw the pillow back on the floor and this morning put it away in the linen closet.

Apparently, that bed is MY space. I don't want it to even look like I'm waiting for someone else to be there -not just in my bed, obviously. In my life, I mean. The second thing is weirder. Don't laugh.

I think I might have had a date. Now, wouldn't you think I would KNOW???? I went out with this guy I've known for a while. This one definitely wasn't a date. It was one of those "let's meet at the restaurant after work" deals addressed to anyone and everyone; we were just the only two who showed up. We had a lovely time and decided to meet up again a few weeks later. Now is that a date or not? Who the hell knows.

It turns out that it was remarkably date-like. And I felt EXACTLY as I had felt with the other pillow on my bed. This guy is a lovely friend. I told him I wanted to stop the other thing because I didn't want to not be friends. I know this guy -and think he's great. He wants a simple dating arrangement with absolutely no strings attached anywhere. God knows I don't want permanent attachment right now. But apparently I don't want ANY of that kind of attachment. He was about to walk into a whole pile of "complicated". And I was about to have to share my psychic space, and I'm absolutely not ready.

I'm me, after all. If I ever date again, I'm going to have thought about it, decided I'm ready, fretted about it for a while, freaked out... and then we'll see what happens. Over-analysis-R-us. It's all kind of the opposite of simple, in my head.

Now I get a little stuck. Thriving and sharing can't be opposites. In fact, thinking they are is pretty much the definition of narcissism, and I don't want to go there. Connection and loss of autonomy can't be the same thing. And the fact that I worry about those things teaches me more than a little about my marriage. Maybe until I figure out how to thrive and share, connect and fly, I really do need to keep that extra pillow off the bed.