Archive for January, 2008
Gray mornings are the best kind of mornings. I believe I may be in the minority here, but gray days make me happier than any other kind of day. Actually, I’m not really sure if happy is the right word. It’s more like ALIVE. I love driving the girls to school with the headlights on and the roads still wet from last night’s rain. I love the way that the overcast skies make the bare trees look simple and stunning and hopeful, as though they’re absolutely content in their nudity, knowing that soon enough they’ll be covered in pink and white blossoms. That will be a whole different kind of beauty. I love the way kids walk to school, with their backpacks on, their hoods up, their heads down and their hands jammed in their pockets, in their own world. Each one of them is the only one walking to school. Alone and reflective. I love the way the world feels slower, more at peace, as though we’re collectively waiting for something magnificent. Collectively alone, each of us inside of ourselves, with our own thoughts and our own dreams and our own worries. I love the peace that comes with the gray. It’s so opposite of the way the sunlight feels. Sun makes me squint and it hurts my eyes. Gray allows my eyes to open wide. Sun makes me hurry. Gray makes me relax. While the sun can make me feel alive in a different way, sometimes it feels as though it’s assaulting all my senses, leaving me no choice, which can leave me feeling violated. Gray does more of a seeping, comforting, sense-awakening, filling. Like a cup of coffee being poured or like the smoke I see rising from the cars in front of me in the line to drop off the kids, full and shapeless and lovely, rising slowly toward the sky. There’s a time and a place for sun, for sure. And sometimes I love it. But today I am loving the gray.
Tomorrow starts a new month. The old month will be gone forever. I think I’m ready for it. But today, on this last day of January, I am basking in the quiet, beautifully sad and hopefully peaceful in-between-ness.
Speaking of which, I think my blissful in between time is already over. I see the sun beginning to make its way through my windows and I hear my nephew waking up over the baby monitor plugged in next to me. His new baby brother comes home from the hospital today and his life starts a new chapter. His in-between-ness is over too.
Here comes the day.
Joel Christopher Linebarger arrived today. So did my new oven, but I am significantly more excited about my new nephew. Cuteness just doesn’t get much cuter than this. Or sweeter. I am now an aunt of four nephews. I love him so very much with his scrunchy little face and his squishy little arms. He kept trying to open his eyes when I was with him today but, oh those lights were just so bright. Maybe tomorrow. There are so many tomorrows. What a blessing from the Lord. Mommy, Daddy, Baby and Big Brother Seth are all doing well. May they all sleep well tonight.
Tired o’ plannin’ and tired o’ shoppin’ too. Thinkin’ o’ quittin’.
Chris and I got married at the First Church o’ God. The ef had fallen off the sign that day. (Incidentally, I am a Scrabble player and would like to inform you that all letters can be spelled out. Thus, the letter “f” equals “ef”. It’s a real word. Just thought I’d put my Scrabble knowledge to some practical use here.) Anyway, today I was doin’ some thinkin’ about how it would be fun to drop all efs off o’ all ofs and I thought today seemed like as good a day as any to try it. Then I thought, “Why stop there? Why not just carry that thought one step farther? Words ending in “ing” don’t REALLY need the gees do they?” (Mom? Is that how you spell “g”?) And so my New Day’s Resolution for today, January 22, is that all efs and gees in the aforementioned words shall be represented by apostrophes.
But I digress.
Don’t know when I’ll feel like cookin’ again. Think I’m enterin’ the February rut early this year. It’s the circle o’ life, my friends. The circle o’ life. Plan food. Buy food. Cook food. Eat food. Clean up food. It’s really kinda borin’ when you think o’ it. Can’t ever stay ahead o’ the game. No matter how much food I buy, the fridge always empties itself out in the end. And everyone around here’s always just wantin’ to eat again. And there’s really no way to stay ahead o’ the creativity game. No way. Food always ends up borin’ in the end.
Done Cookin’. Game o’ Scrabble, anyone?
I just did something really fun. My girls and I were a part of the very first audience to see this movie that is not yet in theaters at the KidFilm Festival at the Angelika in Dallas. Our wonderful neighbor invited us to go with her and her daughter. Not only was the movie really good, but the star of the movie, Alyson Stoner was there, introducing the movie and signing autographs. What a sweet girl she was. She looked every single little girl in the eyes and smiled and said something personal to each of them. She told Sadie she liked her glasses. And when the movie was over, the director stood at the front of the theater answering questions. He called on Callie and she asked him what his favorite scene was in the movie. I’m telling you, I cried through the whole movie. And I wasn’t the only one. I heard sniffles around me often. And I giggled a lot too. Anyone who has an eleven year old daughter, or anyone who has ever been an eleven year girl will relate to this movie about a regular girl who can’t ever dress as cute as she wants to look, who can’t quite find the right words to say or the right way to act, whose hair is mostly messy and greasy and who doesn’t find out that she’s completely tone deaf until she tries out for the lead in the school musical. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated the fact that this girl’s hair was always messy. What a contrast to what we see on the Disney Channel. Also, Luke Perry plays her dad and there’s just something about seeing his face that makes me cry. I get taken back to this other life that I used to live when I was a teenager and watched him every week on my TV. Me and my teenage husband would sit on our couch in our little apartment and escape to the fake teenage world of Beverly Hills. I remember how in love I was. We watched that show every week for a couple of years, even through the pregnancy and birth of our first child. I remember looking forward to getting her to bed by seven so that we could sit on our couch together for our weekly date. That was thirteen years ago. There is something strangely comforting about seeing Luke Perry now play a dad of teenagers. Like life is coming full circle. And I’m still in love with this guy who used to be a teenager in my previous life. Somehow he transitioned right alongside me into this place where we now live. How love has grown in ways I never could have known. Sometimes I feel so lucky.
When the movie was over, I looked over at my littlest girl, two seats down with her hand-me-down coat that didn’t match her hand-me-down pants that didn’t match her hand-me-down white, scruffy cowboy boots that had one pant leg tucked in and one hanging out and her hair was completely coming out of her ponytail , all scraggly and bumpy. She smiled and said, “That was a really good movie, Mom.” I’m telling you, my heart swelled at the completely perfect imperfection of it all. And as I walked back to our car in the freezing cold weather (once again being the only one in our family who had worn a warm enough coat), all of my imperfect girls ran in and out of all the imperfect people standing at all the bus stops along the DART rail, laughing and trying to stay warm and trying to get to our car as soon as possible where we could turn on the heat. And as we drove home, down 75 south, going over the bridge to merge onto 30 east, there was the city of Dallas, out to our right, lighting up the night sky. Some of the buildings felt close enough to touch. Lonestar came on my iPod singing, “Every little thing that you do…baby, I’m amazed by you,” and Callie sat with her face pressed to the passenger side window saying, “Wow, that city’s really pretty.”
If you’re reading this, wonderful neighbor, thanks again for inviting us. It was an evening to remember.
When I was little I used to practice writing in the dark. When I was in bed, but not going to sleep. When we lived in the white house with the brown paneled walls in the mountains in northern California. I was pretty sure that when I grew up, I would win the world championship of the Best Handwriting in the Dark contest because I had practiced so much when I was a kid. Sometimes I would even practice writing with my left hand in the dark. I figured this would give me an even greater advantage over the other contestants if I could master this skill. Sometimes, I was so anxious to see how well I had written my name – in the dark, with my left hand, in CURSIVE – that I just couldn’t wait until morning to see my beautiful work. So I would sneak to the bathroom where I could turn on the light and look at the piece of paper. It somehow never looked as good as I thought it was going to look. Which is why I continued to practice every night of my life. This was back in the time when other people were simply extras in the stage play that was all about me, when the sky was bluer, the grass in my back yard was plusher, the pine smell in the air was more intoxicating and when I climbed the tree to very top branch, the one that was so far near the top that it was not really strong enough to hold my weight, I didn’t know to be afraid. I could feel it bow beneath me and I was pretty sure that if it broke, the hundred or so branches beneath me with all their soft green leaves would break my fall and it would feel like landing on a mattress. In fact, I think sometimes I even wished for it to break so that I could experience the fall. I remember I used to think I must have the world’s greatest mom because she would let me roller skate in the house. Around the circle that connected the kitchen, the living room and the dining room, while she stood in the kitchen over a pot of boiling water, cooking up the crawdads that we had caught in the trap at the end of the boat dock in the lake that was our back yard. Sometimes she would reach out and tickle me as I skated past her, over and over, around the circle and around again. I remember thinking that when I had kids of my own someday, I would let them roller skate in the house and put their feet on the furniture even when their shoes were on and I would let them eat with their fingers, just like my mom did. I remember my dad dancing with my mom in the kitchen when she was cooking and had music playing on her record player. I remember hearing him on the back porch outside my bedroom window at night as he tried to train Ginger to stop barking with a rolled up newspaper and a firm, but gentle sound to his voice. I remember walking to the bus stop in the mornings with my brother Josh, watching our breath go before us in the frosty air and looking back up the hill to the house we had just left and seeing my babyest brother Robbie, standing in the window waving goodbye. He stood there with his white t-shirt, his white underwear and his white-blond hair, with tears streaming out of his blue eyes and spilling down his round, pink cheeks, waving goodbye. I thought he was the cutest thing I’d ever seen. I remember walking with my brothers, across the highway and up the hill, to the liquor store that was in front of the fire station that was our church where my dad was the pastor. We would walk to that liquor store once a week to spend our allowance money on candy. I would always get a Fire Stix and a Pink Lemonade Stix and I would make them last all week.
It’s funny how life turns out. I do let my kids roller skate in the house and I don’t notice if anyone’s feet are on the furniture and I’ve never given much thought to table manners or the correct usage of knives and forks. I even had a babyest girl of my own with round cheeks and pouty lips and she reminds me quite often of her Uncle Robbie. I’ve never cooked up a pot of crawdads and I don’t own a record player, but sometimes my husband dances with me in the kitchen when I’m cooking. And when he kisses me, the kids say “Ewwwwwww!”
But I’ve never found that Best Handwriting in the Dark contest. And I’m not so sure that I could win it anymore.
I once had a friend who claimed there was no such thing as morning people and night people. In fact she flat out yelled at me once when she wanted me to start running with her (early… in the mornings… before the sun was up…every day). At the time, I still had a nursing baby that was waking up at nights and I was so tired all the time and as much as I liked the idea of getting in better shape… well, I just hemmed and hawed and said something about how I wasn’t really much of a morning person. She was fun, this friend. You never had to guess how she felt about things. She basically blew up right in front of my face and yelled, “I’m so tired of people saying that. What a cop out! You are whatever you want to be. You make yourself get up in the mornings and you’ll get used to it.” What could I say to that?
I lasted about two days before I told her I wasn’t going to make myself be a morning person anymore.
Here’s the thing: I think she was pretty much right. Because what I have discovered about myself since then is that I am neither a morning person NOR a night person. But it’s not that I don’t like getting up early or staying up late. In fact, I like both of those things a lot. I really don’t like sleep too well at all. I see it as a depressing waste of time and a necessary evil. (Surely sleep is only a result of sin, and it will no longer be necessary in Heaven, right?) It’s just that I don’t like TALKING in the morning or at night. I mean, I’m not much of a talker anyway, but I really need a good couple of hours to myself when waking up before I’m ready to face other people. Which is why going outside to watch the sun rise and pray and drink coffee is a good idea for me rather than trying to sit down with my kids and have breakfast and help them do their hair and get completely irritated when they ask questions that require responses. Good thing they can finally all make their own breakfast and fix their own hair – sort of. They’ll either be in therapy when they grow up because their mother never talked to them in the morning or because when she did talk, she was always incoherent and grouchy. It’s a lose-lose situation. During the day, I can usually hold my own in the talking department. But once the clock strikes seven, I start going into shut-down mode once again. Now, this used to not be a big problem when the kids were little and seven was their bedtime. But I now have kids that stay up as late as I do and I get no wind-down time. Is five hours asking too much for wind-down time? Five hours at night and two hours in the morning? I’ve always considered myself a reasonable person.
Well, that’s a lie I guess. I’ve never really given much thought to reasonableness at all.
The point of this pointless post is…
I’m not really sure…
Which is why there is a picture of bowling pins at the top.
Many things about the year ahead feel so much bigger than me. And yet, it’s weird how the first day of 2008 doesn’t really feel any different than the last day of 2007 felt. The sun still shone. My kids still wore short sleeve shirts even though it was cold outside and they scoffed at me when I told them to get coats before we went to dinner because I always think it’s cold when nobody else does and then they froze the whole way from the parking garage to the mall entrance. Which was a long way. I was still tired from staying up too late the night before. I still felt a clamp around my heart when I saw the way that the last rays of the day’s sunlight came through the window and lit up exactly half of my little girl’s face while she gazed into nothingness, fixed upon her own thoughts. The weight of stuff still sat on my shoulders. Stuff that forgot that it was supposed to turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight. Stuff I don’t want to talk about here so I’ll talk about some other stuff.
I finally finished a jigsaw puzzle. It’s funny how I am about jigsaw puzzles. I do them a lot but I really don’t enjoy them. But there’s this thing inside of me that compels me to do them anyway. Two of my children like to help. That’s kind of fun, I guess. We sit around the table and work a puzzle together. Actually, I and one child work the puzzle together. The other one really just likes to be close, kicking her legs, humming, telling me about things I never knew before, trying to force pieces together and asking me every time if it fits. Almost every time the answer is no. But when the occasional yes happens, the excitement is enormous on the part of said kid. The third child that belongs to me shows absolutely no interest whatsoever in jigsaw puzzles and probably doesn’t even realize that the rest of us are working on it together, but she sure knows how to make her hair look pretty these days. And the man of the house…well, he likes to gaze at us with love while we’re working hard. I guess that’s kind of fun too. It’s just weird how grumbly I am inside about it. I want to get that puzzle done in the worst way so that I won’t have to do it anymore. Why am I like this? Why do it at all? I don’t know. I only know that there’s this drive inside of me that is bigger than me that needs to do it. So that it can be done. So that I can know that I did it even if I did not feel at all good while doing it.
And then there’s this series of books (that shall remain unnamed) that I feel compelled to read. I’m doing it but I’m so grouchy about it. I really don’t look forward to it in any way. But I do it because….yeah, I really don’t know why I do it. I mean, there are people that I love that really love these books and I feel like I want to know about that love. But so far I am not feeling the love. I’ve even done little games with myself to encourage me to finish. Like buying another book that I really want to read and not letting myself even open it until I’ve finished the current one that I don’t want to read at all. Maybe I just like torture? Or I like the sense of accomplishment that comes after enduring torture?
On to bigger and better things….
…like the year ahead. I have some goals. Here they are:
1) I resolve to spend more mornings outside watching the sunrise. I think that if I force myself to do this, I will be compelled to worship the one who causes the sun to rise each and every day. I will give to Him the day that stretches before me with all its uncertainties. I will feel small beneath the huge expanse, I will wrap myself in a blanket and I will take a cup of coffee with me. Starting tomorrow.
2) I resolve to spend as many evenings as possible watching the sunset. I will take a couple moments and stop and breathe and thank Him for the day I just had. I will listen to Him sing His version of “The Long Day is Over.” Even if I am surrounded by activity at the time, I will tune it out and I will enter into noiselessness and I will pray. I started this one tonight.
3) I resolve to purposely go outside when it’s raining at least twice this year. I will allow my head to be anointed and I will pretend that the rain is oil. I think it sounds like one of the loveliest things a person could do but I never want to mess up my hair. So this year, I resolve to mess up my hair on purpose for the sake of allowing myself to be loved by the maker of the rain. At least twice.
That’s about it. Tell me if you want to join me. I would love the company.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go tear a puzzle apart, throw the pieces violently back into the box that they came from, jump up and down on that box while screaming stuff like “Aauuurrrrrggghghh!” and finish it off with one gigantic huck into my kitchen trash. Then it will truly be finished.