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Monday, February 28, 2011

Miracle-Bloom.

In the midst of life in danger and life cut short, my soul responds like the tiny green shoots of the crocuses slowly emerging out of black soil beneath my office window. The shuddering cold earth grown damp with just-melting, and beaten down by the pounding ice and wind of winter, breaks open at finger-tip touches, and timidly, quietly, but with unquestioning resolve, out peek meekly-pale stubs of life and hope.

My heart stood stock-still and listened and broke the past few months under frigid cold layers of shock and grief, this heart, wrapped in others' devastation, fear and loneliness. Held white-knuckled close in the clutches of sorrow, it heard this muffled, plaintive whisper: Listen. Learn. Grow.

It's natural, I think, the internal insistence that these Worst Things that happen must be for Something, and for Something Good. The guttural, spirit-uttered Why?, moaned in the wake of shattering tragedy, demands The Perfect Answer.

It just does. If you've survived a tragedy, you know it does.

And so I'm led - more than led; I'm urgently summoned - to press just one meaningful sprout of hope and beauty through the bleakness of what's stormed and beaten down my world and the people, my beloved people, in it.

I shake my head slowly as I sit here, thinking, typing, how can I reach out and put this one thing into everyone I know? How do I press this into your chest and fold your arms gently over it and stare into your eyes, your busy eyes, that smile and listen and dart and sparkle and then maybe know or maybe forget, or maybe close altogether:

Do not let tragedy be the force that brings you to examine your relationships and discover you've left your kindest words unsaid, your caring deeds undone, or another's dreams unknown.

Listen.

Life moves and it complicates. Your forgiveness loses status to resentful pride. Your embrace gets in line behind an urgent task. Your real, cherished-forever loving word drowns under a river of daily life-speak. Your interest wanes amid the check-list-labors.

Learn.

Whom haven't you forgiven for a past argument? What if Thursday morning you find yourself bowing your head at the funeral of a someone with whom you'll never be able make things right again?

Whom didn't you hold close today? What if tonight he doesn't come home?

Whose eyes haven't you looked into and said, You're a beautiful person and of so much value to me. I cherish your amazing You-ness? What if you never get to say anything at all to her ever again?

Whom didn't you sit beside one day in the sunshine and ask, What do you dream about, when you let yourself dream? What if by this time next week all you can do, forever, is WONDER about about his answer?

Grow.

Examine your attitude. Dump your pride. Shuffle your priorities. Speak your heart's words into the hearts of others whenever you get the chance.

Make February 28th the day you undid a tragedy before it ever happened.

Let today be the day you make a miracle of your life and watch it bloom in the lives of the people around you.




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Friday, February 25, 2011

Moses.

Occasionally...

Okay, pretty much always?

I wish I could hole up here in my office at my computer and not make actual face-to-face contact with the outside world. And it's not because I don't love people. I do LOVE people. I love their faces and their stories, their laughter, joy, tears, cleverness, wit, and each individual's unique and amazing perspective on life. OHMYGRANNY do I love all that and the people who own it all.

But I'm the consummate fly-on-the-wall type. I'd give anything to have the superpower of invisibility. An impossibly-blended shy extrovert, I'd choose to walk among people unseen and to soak up their goodness -- listen, understand, enjoy.

And never need to speak a word of my own.

I do wish to be heard, though, as, you, my friends, know. I actually enjoy attention, I have things to say; my mind whirls with connection, empathy, profound love and occasionally insight, a clear and generous wisdom. A clever (but ever so slow) wit.

I'm just not a speaker.

I'm a writer (ish). In my white box, I'm the me I wish I could take on the road. The me I want to set free at parties. But my brand of conversation requires, as you know, long, rambling, image-filled monologues that spend long minutes, at least, in the crafting. And OH! perhaps most daunting: There's no delete key in a brief exchange across the street with a neighbor. No back-space back-space think think think re-type allowed in the fast-lipped, fast-brained banter at parties.

I spend a lot of time regretting and inwardly apologizing around this permanent fuzzy-socked mouth-foot God gave me. I have fears of meeting people I've learned to love through blogging/writing (and who have perhaps learned to love the white-box me) and seeing their disappointment in the-spoken-Megan register -- a visual deflation, a mouth-corner/eyebrow uh-oh. I'll be honest and tell you that does happen. My fears have real foundations in life-experience. You know, though ... I've learned to accept that in an extremely comfortable place. I'll continue to work on getting better at the spoken word, but I understand I'm not Most Likely to Be A Scintillating Conversationalist.

And it's truly a liveable measure of self-honesty. I'm not asking for sympathy - I'm telling you my completely comfortable truth.

I feel blessed to have a means of communication that keeps my own mind's pace and allows for the silent consideration and re-jiggering my words require before I let them leave me. Imagine if I couldn't find the right words to write, either?

Are you like me?

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Enough.

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PRIMAL SCRE-E-E-E-E-EAM!

Enough!

I cannot get my children well! This is the windowsill where all the medicines and medicine cups and thermometers and droppers continue to pile up as we fight off one common childhood illness after another. I'm trying very hard to maintain my perspective because of course I know that things could be very much worse.

Sigh.

And ... I was going to say But ... and then whine for awhile. (I'll admit it, I feel extra-spectacularly whiny inside!)

But ... instead, I'll stop short. Consciously control my quickly-downward-spiraling thought-patterns.

(Vigorously hoists up sagging Megan-spirit, tugging - quite fabulous, by the way - bootstraps.)

Things could be very much worse. This is my kitchen windowsill, not a window ledge at a children's hospital. These are just over- the-counter pain remedies and some antibiotics, not chemo drugs or scary anesthetics to quiet my babies' bodies for some invasive procedure or another. My children, sick though they were, lay (fairly) peacefully upstairs in their own beds last night, tucked in warmly and cozily by their Dad and me. We didn't even have to climb over side rails or fight through any tubes or wires or IVs to kiss and hug them Goodnight.

And we'll all sleep here in our own beds again tonight, them in theirs, and Al and I together in ours.

Yeah. Now that? That's Enough.




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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

RE-FRIGGIN'-MISH-SHEE-AWN, BABY!

Some good news today! My nephew Owen got to go home from the hospital for a couple of weeks because his tough little body responded so well to treatments. He had a good time at home, sounds like, and ate my sister out of house and home -- this is apparently an expected and normal side effect of taking Prednisone, a drug that is one of the lynchpins of his treatment.

Owen and Jackie are back in the hospital again this week, this time for testing and the administration of several chemo drugs. Testing was yesterday, with aspiration of cells from his spine. The fantastically wonderful news, my friends, my sweet, sweet friends who have been praying for Owen, is that he is officially IN REMISSION.

I'll.

Just.

Let.

That.

Sink.

In.

Yes, that is what I said: RE-FRIGGIN'-MISH-SHEEE-AWN, BABY!!!!

(BIG FAT GRIN.)

Treatment will continue for two more years, plus a little, as protocol requires to keep him in remission. The treatment for this type of leukemia follows a set of three phases: induction, consolidation, and a third phase whose title currently escapes me. Owen'll be working through phase two, or consolidation, for the next six months, and apparently this phase will take him through several cycles of healthy/sick/healthy/sick and can be very difficult for the patient and the people around him.

Regardless of how cancer-free ('NOTHER BIG FAT GRIN) Owen is, he's still getting chemo, and as most of us know, the butt-whoopin' chemo delivers to cancer gets carried over into the rest of the body. Which makes my BIG FAT GRIN want to fade a little, but I keep reminding myself that this is necessary and is the part of the whole treatment shebang that prevents Owen from getting cancer again. Butt-whoopin', do your stuff.

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I spent a lot of time this weekend with or near my friend Angela. On Sunday she had a celebration of his Tom's life and then yesterday was the funeral. She is sad. She's holding up remarkably well, but y'all... this is HARD, and is going to be hard for a very, very long time. We've talked about that, she and I. I've been doing a bit of research on how to support Angela over the next months/years (and I have your input, as well, so thank you so much for that, all of you!) and I have some ideas - some kind of neat, different ideas, I think, that I've come up with, based on themes that kept coming up in my research.

One such theme was this propensity of friends and family to flood a surviving spouse with attention and support right after she's lost her mate and then to get lost again in their own lives, leaving her feeling alone and forgotten, and feeling as if her spouse has been forgotten. I really do not want Angela to feel that way for a moment, so I'm thinking of making some hand-beaded bracelets for those close to her - neighbors, friends, family - to wear every day over at LEAST the next year, to remind us of Tom and Angela and their precious daughter, and spur us on to keep loving them and doing for them beyond these first few weeks. Do y'all think people would like that idea and want to wear them?

The second theme is this one of people wanting to do and say the right things for a grieving spouse, but, never having experienced a major loss like this one, not knowing exactly what to do and say, or doing and saying the WRONG things. Obviously Angela will need us, will need our friendship and our presence in her life, and obviously, we want to be giving her exactly what she needs. If I'm doing something wrong, I definitely want to know about it, wouldn't you? But Angela's probably not going to feel comfortable saying to us, "You're making this harder on me." or "I need you to do THIS." or "What could you possibly be THINKING?"

Now Angela has a wonderful sense of humor. She loves to laugh and is always cracking jokes with her dry, wry wit. If I've said once to her, I've said a thousand times, Angela, you are a NUT! (And this never seems to come as any surprise to her, which is nice.) She also enjoys her wine, just like I do (well, I do!). So I was thinking, with all that said, maybe she WOULD be comfortable, and maybe would even ENJOY, having a stack of brightly colored business-sized cards to keep with her that just say, Bless your sweet heart for wanting to help me. What you are doing right now ain't helpin'. If you really want to help, shut up and bring me another glass of wine!, that she could hand to people when they're saying or doing something that isn't hitting the mark with her. It'd all be in good fun, of course, but would also be her get-out-of-jail free card, in a sense, and may perhaps light-heartedly open a dialogue with people as to how they could better support her. You think?

(Heck, I'd like a deck of those myself, and I haven't lost my spouse.)

Be honest, y'all. What are your thoughts on these ideas?




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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Silent Prayer.

A good friend and neighbor of mine lost her husband unexpectedly on Tuesday night. He was 36.

I woke up Wednesday morning to the news -- stunned cold, stricken, physically immobilized by shock and disbelief.

I knew Tom. Not as well as I know Angela or their five year old daughter who's one of Bean's best friends, but enough that when I caught a glance of him last Monday, from 15 feet away, out of the very farthest corner of my eye, in the dance studio where our daughters take dance, I knew immediately who he was, and shy little me could comfortably stop to chat.

Enough that I miss him. I feel his absence already. The absence of knowing that he's there.

His broad-shouldered form has followed me everywhere I've gone since Wednesday morning. He was just out of the corner of my eye as I glanced over my shoulder in Costco, leaning against the wall in the hallway at the preschool when I picked up Peabody, once even standing relaxed in my own kitchen, fingers loosely wrapped around a beer, then a big-bear's outline in the passenger seat of Angela's car as I saw her drive out of the neighborhood this afternoon.

It's a new one on me, this sudden disappearance, this instant, gaping-hole sucking of a life right up out of my every-single-day world. And I confess I don't know, on my own, in any tiny corner of my brain or heart -- simply can't concoct a single fiber of an idea - how to even lock eyes with Angela. How to make myself into a shoulder strong enough to bear a piece of what she now carries, this impossible weight that fell on her in the blink of an eye. How to stand there, breathing, alive, in front of her. Just me.

Yet Wednesday morning, my heart flashed like lightening to her side the instant I heard the news. It left at 5:57 AM. The rest of me was on her doorstep 3 hours later, after I got both kids to school. In those three hours, everything inside me silently screamed one short prayer.

"God!!!
Please just take me and make me do what she needs.
Just take me and make me do what she needs."

And I've been busy ever since. Not of my own doing. Only because He heard, and He leads me, and for once (for control-freak, do-it-myself me), it's much more comfortable for me to just follow than to try to figure this one out on my own.



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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One Question

If you had a friend who talked to you the way YOU talk to you, how long would you keep her around?

I could stop right there, couldn't I? Because your mental answer to this question, and the process you're going through to arrive at your answer brings you, and me, immediately to my point. It's pretty astonishing, isn't it? It's also one of the many brutally honest questions I've been asking myself for a year, since way back when I wrote this post and this post in response to my study of Beth Moore's So Long, Insecurity, You've Been A Bad Friend to Us.

The past 12 months have been enormously introspective ones for me (Oh hey, what else is new?) as I've tried to implement some new thinking Beth challenged me test out via the pages of her book. And I've come to the conclusion that probably the biggest hindrance to my being able to understand, embrace and live out my life as the uniquely gifted person God made me to be, is that my ears and my mind remain completely distracted by this constant barrage of negative self-talk.

Y'all know what I mean, right? Negative self-talk is that deflating voice inside your head that criticizes and nags at you about everything from what you fed the kids for breakfast (You are a terrible mother! You're letting them eat THAT?) to the color of your smile as you brush your teeth before bed (You look like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas! Can't you even take decent care of your teeth?)

I'll give you a fresh example of what I mean from my own life. Yesterday was Valentine's Day. As I wote, I had very laid-back expectations of the day, but I did want to have a nice, special dinner, the four of us together, to mark the occasion. So I spent the post-lunch afternoon straightening the main level of the house, browning and dicing and simmering up a pot of my homemade spaghetti sauce and then cleaning the kitchen. I got done with one minute to spare before it was time to pick Bean up at the bus stop.

On Valentine's Day.

You know where this is going, right?

So Bean gets off the bus and we go home, and within 45 seconds, we've got conversation hearts and Dora cards making a sparkly pink and red trail from the back doorstep to her bedroom, and then, fully-sugared up, the kids proceed to get out every toy they own given the criteria that it comes with a minimum of 25 teeny little accoutrements, and scatter them to the four corners of the earth. And it's only then that I realize, as I'm assessing the amazingly, breath-holdingly impressive and expeditious re-clutterification, that Bean has dance class in about an hour, so I've got to feed her dinner before class, and I'll have to feed Peabody as well, so that he won't be starving as we wait in the tiny, over-crowded waiting area in the dance studio for an hour.

Two little kids, spaghetti, salad, milk, garlic toast. Plus Dora and all of her friends, the entire Walgreen's candy aisle, 962 Matchbox cars, about a thousand marbles, My Little Stinkin' Pony and Her Entire Posse plus all of their brushes and bows and flowers and deely-bobbers. Equals?

Well, you do the math.

I fed the kids and got them all ready to go, coats, boots, scarves, ballet bag, shoved 'em in the car. And as I turned around and looked back over the destroyed kitchen and living room one last time before I walked out the door?

The negative self-talk started.

YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET YOUR KID HOME FROM SCHOOL AND FED AND TO HER DANCE CLASS WITHOUT THE WHOLE HOUSE LOOKING LIKE A BOMB EXPLODED IN IT. NOW AL'S GOING TO COME HOME ON VALENTINE'S DAY TO THIS DISASTER. WHY ARE YOU SO DISORGANIZED AND WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS RUNNING 5 MINUTES LATE AND YOU DIDN'T EVEN BRUSH YOUR TEETH AND MATTHEW HAS SPAGHETTI SAUCE ON HIS FACE AND OH LOOK! BEAN'S TIGHTS HAVE A HOLE IN THE KNEE AND HER TWO PINKS CLASH HIDEOUSLY AND YOU? ARE A FAILURE EVERY DAY, BUT TODAY? YOU COMPLETELY, UNERRINGLY, UNAPOLOGETICALLY, SUCK.

YOU NEVER SEEM TO GET ANYTHING RIGHT. YOU'RE JUST NOT CUT OUT FOR THIS WIFE/MOTHERHOOD THING.

(Blink.)

Now. Can you imagine EVER saying that to a friend?

(OMG.)

Not a chance. Not to a friend, not even to a STRANGER! And if you did? She'd cut you off completely. Never speak to you again. Especially if you did it every chance you got. Am I right?

Here's what you and I would say to ANYONE ELSE: YOU DID YOUR BEST! STOP BEING SO HARD ON YOURSELF! YOU'RE A GREAT MOM AND A GREAT WIFE AND YOU REALLY TRIED AND THINGS DIDN'T WORK OUT. AL WILL UNDERSTAND AND YOUR KIDS WILL NEVER HOLD THIS AGAINST YOU. THIS KIND OF STUFF HAPPENS TO EVERYONE! YOU HAD THE BEST INTENTIONS! PLEASE DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP.

Isn't that what you were thinking while I was describing my afternoon? I know it's what my friends would think and say or they wouldn't be my friends.

Yet the tirade of negative self-talk above is just one example of what I do TO MYSELF. I bet you do it to yourself, don't you? Maybe on a different scale, and maybe not all the time, but I'll bet you do it. I almost KNOW you do it.

And my point is, why on earth don't we treat OURSELVES as well as we'd treat any other sweet, precious woman in our lives?

Why?

And how must we, by refusing to do so, be perpetuating our own insecurity and bruised, battered self-worth? How could we ever expect to learn to love someone who talks to us that way? And how, most importantly, are we going to shine light out into this world that so desperately needs it, if we are walking around with that kind of garbage going on in our heads?

Can we stop? I will try. Will you?

Stop yourself when you start going down that negative path, and mentally place yourself in the position of a FRIEND, and then choose, instead, to offer yourself empathy and an encouraging word. Look, you know your own true heart better than anyone else. And YOU? You're every bit as good as the best friend you've got.

Start treating yourself that way. You've got light to shine, lady.

(And to be clear here, I'm not against a little honest, constructive self-evaluation. We all have areas we can work on in a positive way. But we need to choose the right times, and the right ways, and the right heart-mood to do that, just as we would do for a friend. Am I right?)







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Monday, February 14, 2011

A Valentine of the Best Kind

I know y'all aren't gonna believe this coming from an old softy like me, but I'm discovering that I'm really just not a big Valentine's Day person.

I'm not an anything forced person, really. I do better at giving (and receiving) when a gift comes naturally, and arrives just in the nick of time, versus being in answer to the calendar. You're looking at a woman who lives by her instinct, and acts by inspiration and heart-guide, allowing myself to be moved when and how God, or life, or love, or even, occasionally (not too often, because I'm a blonde, after all) common sense moves me. In fact, I'll confess; the most effective tool for getting me NOT to do something, or NOT do it well, is to give me a deadline or a punchlist.

(It's entirely possible that I have authority issues. But we will explore that at a later date.)

It's not that I'm all BAH-HUMBUG about St. Valentine, or that I think taking a day to cherish and celebrate romantic love is foolish or wasteful or overly-sentimental. (Y'all know me better than that!) I think it's a lovely notion, and I'm happy to see this day carry on every year. This weekend we hand-made Valentines for Bean and Peabody's classmates, and baked pink-frosted cupcakes at home from scratch, and I'm planning a special dinner at home tonight for all of us.

So I'm not out on the front sidewalk picketing Love Day, people.

It's just that telling and showing Al and our children how gooey-centered and yummy they make me feel flows with much more power and beauty when I get to do it spontaneously at the VERY MOMENT my center goes gooey. (And it does. Often.) I'd rather give my heart to them when it has welled up so strong I can't hold it back anymore. Let me speak the enormity of my love and gratitude for them out over a God-given throat-lump on a regular Wednesday morning, when it will take them, as it has me, by happy, tearful surprise, and impress directly into their cores how very loved by and precious they are to me. Just because.

As for me? There's not a thing I want or need right now that can be bought at a jewelry store or a flower shop or even the candy counter at the mall, today or any day, really. The gifts that touch my heart most come in soul-packages: Al's listening ear, willing heart, loving touch, or his tender look that says "I understand you, I know you, and I love this you I've come to know," an extra cuddly lap-minute from Peabody, one more sweet hug and kiss goodbye from Bean, because she'll miss me -- the gifts of which a wife and Mama like me can never get enough.

These simple gestures are the every-day Valentines that let me feel that I am loved.

A few weeks ago, when my nephew had just been diagnosed with leukemia and my Grandmother had just died and my washing machine had just broken and everyone in the house was sick, my Mom called, out of the blue, and left a message on my answering machine. All she said was, "I know you're tired and sad. I want to do something FOR YOU. Call me and tell me what I can do JUST FOR YOU." What a simple but powerful thing to leave on a voicemail!

That's a Valentine of the best kind, no matter what day it is -- a magic wand-wave of love, just for me, at the moment (any moment) I need it most.

What about you? How do you feel about Valentine's Day? And when and how do you best express and FEEL love within your family?



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Friday, February 11, 2011

Candid.

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Just me.

It occurs to me that as I get older, I hate pictures of myself less and less. I see my "flaws" and age creeping in, but I know me better now, and I know that inside and underneath lies a heart that is true - one that still breaks maybe a little bit too easily, but loves quickly and earnestly and without hesitation - and a soul growing ever wiser and more patient by the day (most days), honed by her Creator, worn faded, velvety-smooth and pliable by the gentle tumbling of her life.

I can forgive a few crows feet and a saggy neck on this woman who is as softly becoming herself as she is, inevitably, slowly fading. It's my prayer that the girls I love, my daughter, my nieces, my beautiful friends in their 20s and 30s, learn this forgiveness earlier in their lives than I have.

Or better yet, that they will never learn to see a single thing that needs forgiving.

Cross-posted from my photo blog, FriedOkra's 365 Project.



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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Big PINK News, Redux

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Yep, I'm doing it again, just like I said I would - I'm all signed up to walk in the 2011 Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure here in Chicago, August 5-7.

I'll also be working as part of the Crew for the Arizona 3-Day in November.

Who's coming with me?

Cancer has become even more personal for me this year, and I am determined to come at it hard from every angle, and to bring all my friends!

I was completely overwhelmed by the support you all gave me last year. During my efforts to gather contributions, it seems like everyone I talked to had a personal connection to breast cancer, whether they'd lost a Mom or sister or best friend to the disease or just dearly loved a survivor and were thankful to still have her with them.

I'm part of the latter group, having watched my sweet, crazy friend Meagan fight and win a tough battle with the disease in early 2010 and then amaze us by joining Team Cure or Bust just two days before the 3-Day started and then holding hands with us as our team of 16 walked into the closing ceremonies together. Meagan is my first inspiration for walking.

I'm of the belief that advances in breast cancer research naturally lead to advances in diagnosing, treating and ending all other types of cancer. As many of you know, my family's been hit hard over the past 2 years with this disease, as my Mom was diagnosed with bladder cancer in September of 2009 and just this week my 8 year old nephew Owen began his own battle with leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. I am dedicating my 2011 walk and my fundraising efforts to my Mom and our sweet Owen.

If you'd like to contribute this year to a very important cause, and to know that you're doing something real and powerful to help bring an end to a disease that I guarantee in some way lurks behind every beautiful smile you ever encounter, please consider contributing to the Susan G. Komen Foundation TODAY. I've placed a SGK "Help Me Meet My Goal" button on my right side bar to make it easy.

Thanks for all of your support. I'm incredibly lucky to have people like you in my life. If you or someone you know might be interested in walking this year, let me know! There's plenty of room for everyone on our team.


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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Digging Out

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P: Bean, these sleds Santa brought us for Christmas don't look like all the other kids' sleds.

B: Just keep sleddin', Peabody. Remember, Dad said it's only fun if you go really, really fast.

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P: Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee ... eeeee?



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Friday, February 4, 2011

Devil with the Red Jammies On

You'd think, looking at his face, he'd be content to cuddle and give baby bear hugs and blow kisses and eat homemade whole wheat pita chips with organic salsa and play with hand-crafted wooden toys made by his granddaddy's granddaddy.

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And that'd be your first mistake.

This face belongs to the child who, no matter how high or how cleverly you hide it, can and will locate the crippled remote lock to your 1997 beater car (the car that you love anyway because it's paid off and it fits your butt like a well-worn catcher's mitt) and engage both lock and alarm, and then simultaneously "lose" the remote and disengage its battery.

So that when you FINALLY get your sad-sack, IDON'TWANNAGOBACKTOSCHOOLMAMAI'LLMISSYOUTOOMUCH kindergarten kid fed, dressed, tooth-brushed, hair-styled, booted, scarved, mittened, jacketed and backpacked and ready to get into the car for the ride to the bus stop in the TWELVE DEGREE WEATHER, you can't get into the car, because it's locked, alarmed and poised to throw a holy hissy fit if anyone (that anyone, of course, being your sad-sack kindergartener who is already tearful and pathetic) innocently and obediently touches a door handle to climb inside.

And of course, you won't be able disarm the car, because on the one hand, you can't find the remote, (WHERE IS THE REMOTE, PEABODY? you shout above the din of the alarm and the shrieking of the terrorized kindergartener. I NO NOOOOOO, MAMA! he sings back, smiling gleefully.) And on the other hand, even if you should find the remote, say, an hour later after you have rushed your sad-sack and now completely terrorized kindergartener down the street to get on the bus as she trembles and weeps pitifully, and returned to flip the entire house upside down and shake it furiously, you won't be able to use it, because its battery will be dead.

And so you will be forced, as the deafening honking and blaring continue out in your garage, to listen to language that you haven't heard spoken since your Dad one time cut off the tip of his finger while using the table saw out in his garage.

And you will be further startled to determine, after several looped repetitions of these enormously creative angry epithets, that they're spewing from your own mouth.

Ah, but finally, in a moment of brilliance, you'll brutally dismantle your last working garage remote with implements you find in your nail-care box, as vile words continue to issue from your mouth, and you'll rip out its battery, place it in the car's remote, removing and replacing it several times over to get it jiggled into the correct position to restore functionality, and you will finally, and firmly, shut off the blasted car alarm.

Then, and only then, you will breathe a long, slow, shuddering sigh of resignation and relief and sit down to blog about the whole experience.

Whereupon that same cherubic face will appear at your side, covered above and below in baby powder, and its teeny, sweet-looking white-caked lips will part, and it will chirp out in a baby-fresh scented cloud, HI MAMA. YOU WIDDEW #$@&^%!




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Thursday, February 3, 2011

On Sunshine and Poetry and Shorter Bangs

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Hooooo-wheee! We had us a blizzard, and I ain't talkin' 'bout the whipped-up ice cream treat with the Heath Bars and the Oreo crumbs you get down at the DQ either!

It was AWESOME. We got probably 20-24 inches of snow, but there're drifts up to about five or six feet high in the back yard. We all stayed nice and toasty and safe and sound inside, periodically peering out the window and making profound understatements like, "Yep. That there is some snow, folks," for the 18 hours or so that the wind whipped and the snow whited out everything more than 2 feet from the window, and then, POOF, like THAT, it was over, and the sun came bursting out.

Also, Bean woke up this morning on DAY SEVEN of having what I think must've been the flu, and she's finally fever-free.

And - I cut my bangs, and took pictures. (Not of my shorter bangs.)

And wrote a poem. (Also not involving bangs. Unless perhaps there's a deeper meaning to the poem of which even I am unaware, which I suppose is entirely possible. That's how poetry works, apparently.)

....

I'm generally not a poem-writin' or even a poem-readin' kinda gal. It's just never been my THANG. But then I was listening to Garrison Keillor's A Writer's Almanac, (Garrison Keillor is one of the writers I admire most of all. Do y'all like Garrison Keillor?) a couple of weeks ago, he read this poem that I absolutely adored, I mean like I wanted to pull the car over and Google it right then and there so I could read it over and over again, but I didn't, but I DID ponder it further as I drove along, and I figured out that the reason I loved it was because it was really just prose, stacked in stanzas and scrambled around a bit so as not to be immediately comprehensible. And it was chock full of imagery. And hey? I write incomprehensible prose full of imagery, don't I? So why couldn't just I stack it up in stanzas and call it poetry?

(Probably it's not that simple. I'l confess that I pretty much spent any and all poetry-related English class time in high school and college thinking about boys and hair and what color Keds I should invest in next.)

(I still made great grades on all the tests, though, because apparently it's impossible to answer any question about any poem incorrectly, even if you never actually READ the poem. It didn't matter what I wrote, my teachers were always OH VERY INSIGHTFUL MEGAN! A PLUS AGAIN. AND TWENTY-FIVE EXTRA POINTS FOR INCORPORATING "DEATH WISH" AND "IAMBIC PENTAMETER!" )

Poetry teachers are either foolishly gullible, or they just can't imagine there's anyone in the world who doesn't love picking apart every syllable of a completely incomprehensible verbal hairball and trying to impart some deep, hidden, lofty meaning to it as the (usually dead) poet hovers laughing in a corner because OMG, PEOPLE. IT DOESN' T MEAN ANYTHING. THE CAT WALKED ACROSS THE KEYBOARD! as much as they do.

But we're all going to pretend that MY poem is a work of literary genius, because it was hard work scrambling and stacking those lines of prose up just right, y'all. And you KNOW how hard it is for me to write anything that doesn't have a point, and doesn't come RIGHT TO THAT POINT, RIGHT AWAY, NO FOOLIN' AROUND.

Oh wait. That's not me.

...

To recap:

Blizzard.
Sun bursting forth.
Fever-breakery.
Cut my bangs.
Took pictures.
Wrote a poem.
Feel AMAZINGLY much better.

(THAT ISN'T THE POEM, BY THE WAY.)

Thanks for the many encouraging and wise words you've shared with me over the past weeks. You held me all-together when I couldn't.



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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

To Hold Me All-Together

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I'm not gonna lie to y'all, January just about pulled me under.

I'm supposed to be one of the funny bloggers, I think? Maybe over time I've built that reputation, that expectation? You tell me. But I'm not in a very funny place right now, and every day I open up this box to write something and what comes out flatly refuses to giggle, or snort, or even, sometimes, crack a smile.

We've had a lot of bad news in FriedOkra-land, and despite the fact that I can feel the hope and even see the joy in much of what January rudely shoved into our lives, I struggle internally to pinch and pull a glistening drop of my own brand of sun out through the pallid, cloud-filtered light of my overcast heart. And the sunless actuality of the month gone past my window has made basking in the blahs seem prescribed.

Yet my hands crave the keyboard and my mind begs to swoosh out onto the screen in a quiet, downward-home flow, like a winter-cold mountain stream against smooth stones, finding its way out in clinging gravity-falls to join a larger pool of understanding and connection. So I write naked posts, like this one, and I post them, and then I un-post them, because the vulnerability terrifies me, and the fear of disappointing sucks my breath away. Hours later, the SAVE AS DRAFT button saves my life. I feel an aching disconnect, though, even in the moment my lungs re-inflate, from the this-is-me me I've hoped to become in this space.

Sometimes I go here: "I think I'll start an alter-ego blog, where I can let out all of these things that aren't of sun and shine and pastel-blue, porch-swing, sing-song chatter." (A place where perhaps even I won't view my dark days as down-fall.)

And then I go here: "One day I'll just courageously put all of me in one place, and then wrap my own arms around me, to hold me all-together."



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