Bah humbug….maybe?

It’s been a hot minute since I pounded this keyboard. Well, tonight is the night. Try to stay with me, please. I’ve not yet decided where I’m going with this. We’ll find out together. Or maybe we won’t. Does it matter? Let’s just be patient and see.

What can I say since the last time the keyboard and I spoke to one another for any reason other than business? HOLY CRAP is a really good place to start. A bit of an understatement, in my humble opinion. And we all know what opinions are like, and everybody has one. And furthermore, life will humble you if you won’t do it yourself.

Well. Small town America has this lady wading through life in clearance aisle cowboy boots from Rural King. Good thing those boots were on clearance, because it’s getting deep, and I need them. They are actually pretty cute boots, which is a plus. Hang on, dear readers.

I’ve learned some things. One never knows how interesting she really is until she moves from the city to a small town. Oh, my! I’ve learned that I’m the most eligible woman in town, and that I am a heartbreaker. WHO KNEW???Apparently, all it takes is leaving the house unaccompanied twice to listen to some music and enjoy an adult beverage while doing so to gain this glorious reputation. That, and a poorly thought out tattoo on the neck of a man who dared speak to me. But I digress.

Tis the season of comfort and joy. I deep down believe this. But this year it’s been hard to find. And I’m usually pretty positive. I was so excited about Santa coming through my neighborhood on his float that I was the only adult that Santa gave a gift to. I love the tidings of comfort and joy this season brings to so many, no matter what religion, color, or creed. I also work in health care, so I see the sadness this season can bring. This year is the first year I haven’t read O ‘Henry’s Gift of the Magi, or watched It’s a Wonderful Life and a Christmas Story. It’s also the first year I’ve been without my Grandma, and that I’ve known I’d be without all of my kids because I’ll be at work. I always keep in mind when I work holidays that the truly unfortunate are those that end up in the hospital by accident on a holiday. I chose this work, and I love it. But I miss my grandma’s cookies, and I will miss my kids this year as I work through all the days we celebrate. Maybe I should read the Gift of the Magi tonight. And eat a cookie a dear friend baked for me. Bah humbug, maybe. But I’m still blessed. Happy season. Eat the cookies, and enjoy it!

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Enlightened?

via Daily Prompt: Enlighten

Here I sit feeling a day late and a dollar short, not very enlightened as I sit in the predawn darkness. I’m operating on less than two hour’s sleep, and the young one will be up in less than two hours. It’s downright soggy out here. I’m sitting on my back stoop, which is also soggy. Thank goodness for an endless supply of towels in this house. At least my pants aren’t soggy. See? There’s always something to be thankful for!

Before anyone starts wondering about my sleeping habits, let me enlighten all of you. I work in healthcare. Lots of us keep funny hours. Really funny hours. I’m not sure what my neighbors thought of me when the kids and I first moved to this small town. It did get back to me that folks were paying attention to my comings and goings, and were very relieved to assume my attire meant I was out doing something respectable. Perhaps we should all keep a set of scrubs handy to change into when we’ve been up to less respectable deeds. I mean, really, is that all it takes? Who knew it could be so easy to stay gone for 13 hours and reappear in the wee hours of the morning with hair that rivals Medusa’s and not scare the neighbors? Scrubs! Go buy a pair if you don’t already own some. They also come in handy for getting out of speeding tickets. At least that’s what I’ve heard.

Living in this tiny town has been enlightening, to say the least. And I’m certain that I’ve not been fully indoctrinated yet. I’ve not been here for every season yet. I hale from a town that has professional sports teams. I thought people there loved their sports. Let me enlighten you, no one loves sports more than people surrounded by corn and soybeans. And I mean high school sports. These kids are practically famous! I’m not sure I could have handled the pressure. I’m not even kidding. It’s my dirty secret that I don’t understand the game, and my only motivations for going are the concession stand and and the socialization. I used to believe that I couldn’t possibly be the only one, but then I realized that I am indeed the only person who doesn’t wear the school colors to every game. I really need to go shopping. I’m about to blow my cover.

You see, I’m realizing there are no secrets in a small town. I went out to lunch with a friend the other day. The next day at work, a coworker who lives in the next town over asked how lunch was. WHAT????? Is she psychic? Is she a stalker? No, neither, as far as I know. You see, my small town is bigger than her small town. Mind you, not Starbuck’s big, but we do have a wonderful little local coffee shop in my town. My coworker drove in for some coffee, recognized my friend, and asked where I was. Running late. Seems the only place I can make it to on time is work. And that’s if I don’t get stuck behind a tractor in a no passing zone.

I know why my neighbor and her boyfriend aren’t speaking. I was enlightened by another neighbor. It’s all because of the north side of my house. I had no idea my northern exterior holds such power. I’m aware that it is in need of a power washing. It was in need of a power washing when I bought the house. I just haven’t gotten to it yet. It was on my to do list. Now it’s on two other neighbor’s to do list. All in an effort to restore harmony. See, my next door neighbor really doesn’t care about my northern exterior. Her boyfriend does, and now they aren’t speaking because he didn’t consider my single motherhood and strange work hours when he decided to complain about my lack of power washing. Hell hath no fury as that of a woman who raised two children as a single mother and didn’t have time for power washing while she was doing it. Yep, he hit her hot button. Her kids might be grown, she might be retired, but she didn’t forget the years that came before. The good people of my community will be power washing my house in an effort to get those two speaking again. It’s really not about me or my house at this point. It might be about enlightenment.

 

 

 

 

 

Expect

Expect

Oh, expectations. Admittedly, I can not decide how I feel about expecting anything. The sweet anticipation of awaiting something we expect. The exquisite disappointment when what we expect doesn’t happen. The feeling of an unexpected turn in the road. Sometimes exciting, sometimes frightening. Sometimes a heady mix of both.

I used to live my life with a fairly rigid set of expectations, both for myself and others. I always expected that if I did “A”, others would do “B”. I tried to have an answer prepared for every situation. A neat little algorithm for life. It didn’t really work. Not for lack of trying.

As of late, I was forced to abandon my expectations. I pulled up stakes and moved after the end of a ten year marriage. Readjusted every aspect of my life with the exception of my job. I decided not to expect anything from anyone except myself. And I changed what I expected from myself. In the processing of shedding expectations, I became kinder and gentler. Especially to myself. And this seems to have translated into a certain kind of magic.

I’ve always had a core tribe of avid supporters. For that I am fortunate. During a time when I felt broken by the loss of expectations, the strength of these kindred spirits carried me. I came to realize that these are the people who are kinder to me than I have often been to myself. The people who don’t expect anything more from me than just “me”. I surrounded myself with more people like them. People who don’t expect anything in particular, but who have come to expect and appreciate the quirky brand of company that I have to offer, and want and expect nothing more. Somewhere along the way, I realized I am enough just as I am, and so are these people. We carry one another without any expectation of more than the true friendship we feel for one another, and this makes the burden light when one of us needs to be carried.

I wish I’d shed the burden of too many expectations sooner. I used to believe that expectations were akin to morals and standards. I no longer believe this. Expectations can be exciting, but can also be quite heavy. Choose wisely when expecting.

 

It’s Simple, Stupid

Several months ago, my life splintered. I was forced to re-evaluate nearly every facet of what I’d become used to.

I lost my Grandma in February. She was not just Grandma, she was one of my best friends, and perhaps my biggest cheerleader. Toward the end, she wasn’t always the Grandma I’d always known, a brain tumor was weaving it’s way through her being. But she had some good days peppered in. Simply good days that we could really talk. I miss those days.

Shortly after losing her, my second marriage came to a screeching halt. There was a clink of a cell door behind him, the slamming shut of our book of life together by me, and the crying of our child keeping me awake through the night.

My garden out back went to seed as I muddled my way through the wreckage of so much in such a short time. I lost physical weight as I carried the emotional weight. I moved from my historic home in one state to a newer house in a different state. One I can maintain mostly in my own. I cut ties with many people who had claimed to love me, but could no longer love me after I slammed the book shut. The weight got lighter. It’s simple.

Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had since the upending if the life I was used to. It’s simple.

I started my day packing lunch for my son. We talked as I packed it, him asking if my new tattoo of Grandma’s signature hurt, and me telling him it is healing. His crying is now gone, replaced by sounds of him laughing as he roars through the neighborhood that is surrounded by farms. He is healing too.

Before I dropped my daughter of at work, I went to the local coffee shop, sat outside with a friend, held a puppy for a stranger as she went inside to order, then had a tiny gathering on my patio as my new chicken coop was assembled in the corner of my tiny yard. It was enough to make me want to bake brownies. So I did. And I got lighter. It’s simple.

My kitchen table was full last night. Full of food, laughter, and parts of my standby tribe members mingling with the the new.

I’m gaining my footing again. I’m planning next year’s garden, healing, and writing some new pages as I listen to the whir of a farmer’s grain dryer. It’s simple.

Amazing Grace

Well, here I sit writing in the harsh light of day again. I could start to like this. Coffee, dogs, sunlight. What’s not to like? The Pumpkin Festival is happening in a couple of weeks! I’ve never been to one. I’ll let you all know if I win the pumpkin seed spitting contest.

For the past 48 hours the white noise of my life has been the hum of the grain dryer up the street. The first fire pit party of the season was last night, and we found the music getting louder as we tried to drown out the constant drone. This morning my daughter told me she thought she might die if she has to hear it for much longer. I find it comforting. Its a promise of plenty. How lucky we are to live in this land of hard work and promise of so much grain that it’s taking days to dry before it’s ready for the silos.

The kids and I traded the wail of sirens for the hum a grain dryer. With the exception of traveling to work, my life exists in a 2.5 mile radius. To some, this sounds hideous. I love it. I love being surrounded by the farms, and I love that when I go to our tiny downtown I’m not blending in with the crowd. There’s almost always someone that’s happy to run into me, and I them. I love that my retired neighbor quietly watches what’s going on, and that she gave the shy man around the corner a stern talking to about how she expected him to treat me when she noticed that he finally found the nerve to bring me flowers.

I came here with the intention of being lost, but instead I’ve been found. I never knew the sound of the grain drying could save a wretch like me.

 

Monster in the Closet

I usually do my writing in the night. But not today. Today is a day to greet with pulling the monster out of the closet. It’s a monster too many of us have met, and it has a different face to all of us who’ve gone a round with him. The monster that causes shame, and can make a grown woman cower. It has one name to go with its many faces. Abuse. There. I said it.

Let’s get all the stereotypes out of the way. It doesn’t happen to one “type” of woman. It doesn’t care how much money you have. It doesn’t care if you went to college. Or if you go to church, or what race you are. It doesn’t care if you left after once, or if you’re still trying to figure out a way to safely get out while you wonder what might be next.

Too many of you have met the monster. The monster in my closet is charming. He has a good job. He’s well respected. He goes to church, and will help anyone that asks. He doesn’t realize he’s the monster in my closet, even though he had several days in jail to ponder the thought.

I have a child with him. This has made a complete lack of contact impossible. My child has been sent home with with gifts to give me. Carefully chosen gifts at uncanny times in the calendar. My child takes great pride in handing me the gifts. The monster in the closet knows I won’t throw a gift away that has passed through the hands of our child.

The monster in the closet has told me of the place I still hold in his heart, and how I am the only person he can trust. He does not consider that the place I hold for him is in my nightmares, rather than my heart, and that I have difficulty trusting anybody.

There are some who don’t understand why I am angered by the well chosen gifts and pretty words. Many of them feel these things are sad. They feel sorry for the monster in the closet. They feel that perhaps he would never do it again. They know he is sorry.

Can I tell you, dear reader, that I agree it is sad? But not for the reasons you may be thinking. It is sad because this is how abuse is perpetuated. By less vulgar displays of power that provoke sympathy. By people feeling sorry for the monster in the closet.

Statistics inform us that, on average, a woman will try to leave an abusive relationship seven times before she is successful. Please consider, she likely has well chosen gifts and pretty words stored in surplus by the the time she makes it out. She likely felt sorry for the monster in the closet too, and hung on to each pretty word with her life.

Dear ones, please, if you have a monster in your closet, don’t call yourself a victim. Call yourself a survivor. You’ve survived the social disease for which there is no cure. Please don’t claim the monster by calling him “my abuser.” He isn’t yours. He’s simply an abusive person. Don’t elevate his status by owning him and his behavior. And lastly, be kind to yourself. You deserve it.

The Leader Passes The Torch

Today marked the day the woman who taught me the importance of having a tribe would have been 88 years old. She left this world on a rainy morning in February this year. She was remarkable. Both in sickness and in health.

In health, she was tough. Not mean, but I do mean tough. She was a trailblazer. She spent a short time in the Convent. I found the picture of her as a beautiful Novice when I was teenager.  She left the Convent and married. And no, not a fallen priest. A Methodist sailor. Can you imagine? I wish she’d have had the perfect love story. I’m sure that’s what she thought was going to ensue. It wasn’t. By all accounts, it was far from the greatest love story ever between her and the sailor. But her time with him before the divorce that was nearly unheard of during those times and his untimely death shortly after that divorce created years worth of a different type of love story.

She raised two kids, bought a home on her own during a time when women didn’t do that, and made a life. Not an easy one, or a perfect one. But one she made for herself and her kids. And by all accounts, that house was filled with love. By the time I came around, that house was well established as a welcoming place. I lived there with Grandma, Mom, and my uncle for the first few years of my life. I’m so glad I am fortunate enough to remember part of those years. Years that she would take me out to pick cherries from the tree out front before she took the bus to work. She didn’t have a car. But she made sure that never stopped her. As I got older, my Mom married, moved out with me, and the family grew. Grandma would spend her annual  two weeks of vacation taking my brothers and I on grand adventures through our city on the bus. And again, how fortunate I am to have those memories.

Skipping ahead several years, I recall when Grandma and I became real friends. She was one of my best friends. She never let me forget that I was her girl, even when she was a bit less than pleased with me. I’ve been told before that if I’d decided to steal the moon from the sky, she would have heard me out on my reasons for deciding to do so before telling me to put it back. Probably not far from the truth. She was my girl as much as I was hers.

This is the part of her life I want to share today. It is enough for now. Another day is a better day to speak of what she gave while sick. Today is a day to remember the good times.