Archive for September, 2008
An interesting thing happened to me at Kroger today: I got chewed out by the check-out lady. And then some. See, I did my shopping, for the most part sticking to my carefully written-out list. But when I got to the baking goods aisle, something called to me that wasn’t on my list. It literally sang my name out loud from the other end of the spice section. It was a beautiful bottle of gourmet vanilla. One look and I knew that my chocolate chip cookies desperately needed this beautiful ingredient. Surely there could be nothing better for all desserts that will ever be baked in my kitchen than this gourmet vanilla. I had to have it. So I threw it in the cart. It was an impulse buy I was happy with. I’ve been really good at sticking to the “no buying anything other than food for the entire month of September” resolution and I knew I could do this with a clear conscience since a) vanilla is food b) I bake a lot and c) I really, really wanted it.
Well, when I got up to the check-out lane, the woman working there was happily scanning my groceries until she got to the vanilla. She held it up and looked at it, obviously as curious as I had been about it. She said “Wow, I’ve never seen this before. Is it good?” (I’m sure it was singing her name as well, even if she wouldn’t admit it.) I told her that I’d never tried it before but that it had called to me. She gave a little shrug with a smile, as if to say she understood, and proceeded to scan the vanilla. At that point, she actually jumped backwards a full step, eyes flew open wide, and then she leaned into the screen squinting as if she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. “Ten dollars!!!!!!??????” she yelled, loud enough for customers five rows down to hear. “Is that right?” Yes, I assured her. It’s gourmet vanilla. “That must’ve been calling you REAL loud for you to pay that price for it!” Yes, it was. “I hope you bake enough to make it worth it for you!” Yes, I do. She then spent the rest of her scanning time fuming and shaking her head back and forth every so often while muttering under her breath, “Ten dollars….”
I endured my extremely unpleasant check-out experience with visions of bolting out the front door to escape the heaping piles of steaming shame being flung upon me. I could feel my head dropping lower and lower under the load. The last items scanned were a couple bottles of wine. Before scanning them, she glared at me and said “I’m gonna need to see some ID before I sell this to you.” I fumbled in my purse and handed her my driver’s license which states very clearly that I am 35 years old. Thirty. Five. Almost thirty-six. She stood there, carefully analyzing it, alternating between looking at me with great skepticism and studying the driver’s license to make sure it wasn’t a fake.
I made it home with both the wine and the gourmet vanilla. I love my home. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to Kroger though. Even if they DO have the best produce section.
I’m here in the days that can’t be described.
They can’t be arranged.
They can hardly be spoken.
They come and they go and we all go along.
And I feel their effects.
Not moving in a straight line.
But always moving.
I’m here in the days of my fleeting youth.
They can’t be slowed down.
They can hardly be remembered.
They sweep us along in the midst of the color and the beauty.
And they leave us like death.
Like gray tendrils.
Which can always be plucked.
And will always return.
I’m here in the days of heart change.
They can’t be explained.
They can hardly be experienced.
They take us on wind-flights until we can’t tell which way is up.
And they plunge us to the depths.
Always changing direction.
I’m here in the days that can’t be latched onto.
I remember the days that can’t be recovered.
I wonder about the days that can’t be predicted.
And I ride them.
I came across this entry in an old journal today:
June 11, 1997
Today I am drowning.
I don’t have much time and I would rather go to bed, but since Sadie is still awake, I might as well write. Chris is out of town this week in Mexico. I am alone with 2½-year old Callie and 4-month old Sadie. Bridget, a friend, has been staying with me to help at night.
Callie talks non-stop. She is a joy when she’s not whining, but that’s rare these days. By eleven in the morning, I am worn out from the constant questions and tantrums. Sadie is a good baby, but today she is teething and has been a little fussy and refusing to nurse because of the pain.
My mom bought Callie a little wading pool and she played in it this afternoon. I pulled her slide up to it so she could slide into the water. She had fun until she bit through her tongue. The cut was very deep and bled for a couple hours. She sucked on ice the rest of the day and never stopped telling me that she was very sick and her tongue hurt on the slide. We cuddled a lot. At eight, I tried to put her and Sadie to bed. I sang songs and prayed with Callie while I nursed Sadie to sleep. After Callie got out of bed and kissed Bridget goodnight for the fifth time, I told her no more and to stay in bed. I tried to put Sadie down, but she woke up so I nursed her some more. Callie came out three more times and threw a screaming fit every time I told her to go back to bed and Sadie kept waking up. I finally just put Sadie down to see if she would cry herself to sleep, gave Callie a spanking and put her back to bed. I then went outside for some fresh air. When I came back in, the house was silent and I felt relief. Just then, Sadie’s door opened (Sadie’s – not Callie’s), and out came Callie, with no diaper on and both of her legs in only one leg-hole of her pajamas – they were pulled all the way up around her waist and she was completely naked below that. She looked at me, with her big, round, blue eyes and announced, “Sadie cry-ning.” I told her that wasn’t her responsibility. After another hour of spankings and tantrums (mostly over wanting to kiss Bridget), she finally went to sleep. Now I believe Sadie is finally asleep also and I’m going to bed.
Oh Lord, please help me through these drowning days. Keep my focus on you. Help me to love my children and pray for them – not just barely make it through each day. I praise you for the blessing they are to me. Please bring Chris home to us safely and quickly.
Funny how life is. Chris did come home to us safely. He doesn’t go to Mexico anymore – none of us do. Sometimes he lays tubes across freeways in the middle of the night and in spite of a couple of close calls, he has come home safely from every tube laying excursion thus far. Bridget moved away, got married and has two boys of her own. We’re in touch every once in a great while. I haven’t given Callie a spanking for probably ten years now. She never throws tantrums and hardly ever whines. She has a beautiful heart and though I don’t get many kisses or cuddles these days, her laugh when something delights her brings joy to each moment. Sadie got all of her teeth in just fine and has now lost almost every last baby tooth. She writes poetry and makes beautiful music and her heart runs deep, with many layers. We even had another baby, Grace, who is now eight. She can write her name in cursive with the prettiest little loop on her G and today she announced that she wanted to get lunch at Kentucky Chied Frickin.
Funny how the issues change but the feelings don’t. Funny how the heart keeps beating in spite of the thousand things a day that make it skip a beat. Funny how I’m never really sure if I’m doing enough or being enough or talking enough or listening enough. Funny how I can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am blessed and have much to be thankful for and yet I still feel like I’m drowning most days.
Maybe it’s time I took some swimming lessons.
Stand strong, little city.
My heart is with you.
I pray you can withstand one more storm.
Tips for having a good morning (for me, really, in case I need to refer back to this in the future):
1. Do not check email (work or personal) first thing after you get out of bed. Walk straight past the computer, make a cup of coffee and sit on the couch for a bit. The couch is cozy.
2. Do the stuff you have to do (make lunches, help with hair, talk with minimal one-word sentences, help with breakfast ideas, sign last-minute homework papers that were supposed to be given to you before this morning but, oh well), then as soon as Chris leaves to ride bikes with the kids to school, make the breakfast you really want. It’s a little bit of work, but anything worth having in this life is going to take a little bit of hard work. (I learned that from a very wise sister-in-law.)This is what I had this morning, from the Sugar Solutions cookbook:
(Click here for the recipe.)
But I should probably tell you that I used real bacon, instead of turkey bacon, whole eggs instead of mostly egg whites and then I cooked the omelette in the bacon grease. Mmmmmm. I know how to make healthy foods happier.
Then I had a glass of this (which is so much yummier than it looks):
And last but not least, I had a couple discs of this:
Here’s how these should be eaten: Put one whole disc of bittersweet dark chocolate in mouth. Let it rest on roof of mouth. Take a sip of strong, black coffee. Let the hot liquid melt the disc slowly as pure heaven slides down your throat. Repeat until entire disc has dissolved. Then do it again.
3. Go for a walk. It is important to do this next step before starting your work day. If you make the mistake of sitting down at the computer between steps two and three, all will be lost. Hope will slide into oblivion and you’ll never make it out the door. You might think a walk sounds boring, but make yourself do it anyway. Walk hard and fast. Concentrate on making every step count. Roll each footstep from heel to ball to toe, swing arms big and wide, don’t worry about the wind blowing your hair straight back and exposing your gigantic forehead for the world to see, because who’s even lookin’ anyway? Pray with every step. With every breath. With all that is in you.
As if September doesn’t already bring enough changes, I’ve decided to add a few more to our household this month. I’m always hesitant to talk about things that I want to change in case I don’t follow through. Sometimes I’m flaky like that. But I made a couple September resolutions that have already made it nine days, so I’m ready to believe that I actually might commit the whole month here. Nine days! Nine days is as good as a year. We’re doing so good with commitment around here.
Resolution Number One: Only one school lunch per week per kid. I originally made this resolution for this school year in the hopes of cutting back on some monthly expenses. In fact, I say I’m going to do this every year. But it’s so much work! Making their lunches in the morning when I’m grouchy is hard! And then I started realizing exactly what school lunches consist of. The other day, on Grace’s one day a week that she got to buy lunch, she came home and told me what she had (even she was in disbelief about it): french toast sticks with maple syrup to dip them in, a huge, starfish-shaped french fry, little red weinies, red jello and ice cream cups. I was appalled. My resolve has now been strengthened. Since I apparently don’t seem to care about money nearly as much as I should, the idea of what goes into these precious, growing, little bodies that I’m raising has been a big wake-up call for me. Hard work…morning grouchies…nothing can stop me now. My children WILL get something healthy to eat in the middle of their school day. And I WILL be creative about it so I don’t get bored out of my mind making the same ole, same ole every day. I just hope I don’t end up spending more on making their lunch than buying that stuff they call food at school.
Resolution Number Two: No buying anything except food for an entire month. This one’s been fun. It’s amazing the freedom that comes with needing something and then remembering that you can’t buy it for a month. Suddenly you don’t need it nearly as much. Or even think about it. I told the kids they need to learn to be more resourceful. Find creative solutions. Recycle. Make do. We’re all getting into it. In fact, we’ve already run out of toilet paper and I refuse to buy more until October. Finally, a solution for all those ridiculously huge phone books that someone insists on putting on my doorstep once a week that I don’t ask for or ever even open one page of one of them. Who uses phone books anymore anyway? Well, we do now. They’re not great for the plumbing, but they get the job done.
The beginning of a new month, a new season, a new me.
The problem is that I still haven’t figured out who the old me was. I only know that I am ready to say goodbye to Summer without so much as a backward glance and dive headlong into Fall. I do that. I’m very seasonal. In fact, I believe I get a little depressed at the end of every season. I usually feel like it’s gone on too long and there is no more hope for it. The only hope to be found is in what’s coming. So I mourn and then I bury. And sometimes I have this especially disturbing habit of digging up the dead when what’s coming looks scary and then I just have to bury it all over again.
My problem is that I never really know what’s coming. I have inklings. But no knowledge, really. I have hopes of cooler temperatures outside but no idea how to cool down the fire burning up my insides.
So here I am in the in-between time. The time between burial and newness. The time called September 1st. We come here every year. We come to this cliff and we try to work up the courage to jump. My pastor said yesterday that when you’re scared of jumping, you need to remind yourself of truth. I think that’s wise. And I think the truth is that jumping will take me down as much as I want to believe I can fly. I can’t fly. That’s not truth. That’s silly fantasy and I am by no means fantastic. Jumping will take me down. And I don’t know where I will land. But I know I can’t die.
And I know that I am loved more than I can fathom.
And I know love seeps into the tiniest of cracks. It flows and it fills and it flourishes.
I’m ready for that.
So why do I feel like I can’t breathe? My heart pounds and great, big sobs threaten to well up through my lungs and widen all of those tiny cracks into great, big, huge, unfillable fissures.
Just another average September 1st.