Sunday, April 25, 2010

It's a Good Burn

The muscles in my hips and thighs and rear are just now starting to return to normal feeling. They went through a period of numbness after my first derby practice, then a sort of Jello-like feeling, then two days of fairly mean pain, and today it's sort of a good burn but much more human than the least few days. I think if I stretch a lot this week and do some walking and a lot of squats, I will be able to return on Thursday night refreshed and ready for more.

I cannot tell you how much I loved it. Even though we're not beating each other up yet, and we're all getting along and learning together, it was great exercise and it made me even more excited about the future. And I can tell you that, from the luck that I normally carry, now that I'm invested in this and really excited about it, I'll immediately get pregnant and not be able to do it. So, at least it's a win-win.

We went to the Notre Dame Blue-Gold game yesterday. I was rooting for the blue side so I could scream "GO BLUE" amidst an array of ND fans and not get my mouth busted open. My friend Lisa did give me some eye-narrowing doomsday glances, but I told her that she knew full well if she came to see a Michigan game for me and there were a player with the last name "Irish", she would be screaming "Go Irish" the whole time. She conceded that argument and I hollered, "GO BLUE!" once again. I noticed a small narrowing of her eyes this time, but with only a hint of the original ire.

I called my dad five times before the game started to convince him to come join us which he finally did, and then we took him out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings. It's our oldest son's favorite restaurant, and I have to say, their Asian Zing wings are to die for. I can't remember how many I ate, but I consumed more bleu cheese dressing in one sitting than I think I ever have before in my life. It's hard to make myself stop. There's a point at which I know I'm full, I can admit that I'm full, I have no doubt that I am full, and yet I eat three or four more wings because of the happy sweet spicy festival they bring to my taste buds. By then, the traffic had cleared out and we dropped him back at his truck in the parking field and parted ways. Too bad mom was busy, she could've had free wings, too -- see, woman? Answer when I call :)

Last night we watched "Crazy Heart" with Jeff Bridges. It was much better than I thought it was going to be. I'm a fan of older-sounding country music, so even though the songs were all new, it was a style that I liked. I enjoyed it, and wouldn't mind watching it again sometime. We also had finished the second season of "Ally McBeal" so we started on the third last night, too, but by the end of the episode I had fallen asleep.

Today, I am still in my robe and I'm not sure I plan to get out of it at any point. There is nothing pressing to do, I can watch church online if I feel like it, the laundry is basically done, the house is still pretty clean from Thursday, so I can just sit and read and write all day. The sky is threatening to storm, but the thunder has stopped so at least the little dog isn't throwing a hissy fit like he was a couple of hours ago. I'm not sure what dogs think of vacuum cleaners and thunderstorms, but I suppose if you stand a foot high and weigh 14 pounds, those things are a bit more intimidating than they are for humans. My patience only goes so far with him and his stormy shenanigans, though. He was walking across my chest while I was trying to read this morning. A claw to certain parts of the anatomy is enough to launch a min-pin across a bedroom, let me tell you. He got lucky today. Some days he'd be better off with wings.

(MMM. Wings. Sorry, I got distracted.)

Off to the reading and writing process. Hope everyone has as restful and quiet a day as I am anticipating having myself.

SJS

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three Words: Roller. Der. By.

My little sister and I are going to a rollerderby meeting and basic skills test this evening in South Bend. I'm a little bit nervous, but a whole lot excited. It's been awhile since I've really been on skates. I was never great, just all right. But this seems like something I could do if I want it badly enough. Which I do. And it will be a great way to spend time with my little sister, who I rarely see.

Today was my "Mental Health Day" which ends up being just a day that I get things done around the house that I can't get done when I'm working at the Daily Grind. I cleaned Jo's house, then I cleaned my house. Even bleached the sinks and scrubbed the mildew and ran vinegar through the dishwasher and did laundry, laundry, laundry. Sorted some stuff for the yard sale that I have ever year with my mom, dusted, swept, vacuumed, mopped, threw a lot of junk away. It feels good to accomplish this sort of thing once every couple of weeks because then I can breathe for awhile.

Just awhile.

I've started "Let The Right One In" and I want to finish it before I see the movie. So far, it's very good, though I'm still not too far into it. I haven't had a great deal of time to read lately (I know, I should make time. Blah blah blah.) I'll keep it up and keep you posted.

The dog is much better, for those of you who are asking. She must have run into something or twisted her shoulder pretty badly, because she was messed up for a couple of days, but this morning she was pretty perky and then I gave her her pain medication and now she's almost completely back to normal. My scalded hand is much better, too -- only a couple of small blisters. I did give myself a pretty nasty papercut today while cleaning. Those pesky pieces of notebook paper just jump right out at you if you don't keep an eye on them.

I started a coffee can fund today, too. I know, I'm a dork. But I have several different coffee cans with labels on them for things I want to save for and this will help me organize and delineate how much goes to each fund, including saving towards each kid for college. Obviously Zachary will get more right now than the rest, because he's the closest to college age. "I have a system". (This quote is used quite a bit around the house and at work, between my OCD husband who really does have a system for basically every detail of life, and myself.)

I must cut this short, as I have a few more things to take care of before dropping Z at his grandma's house to mow the lawn, and going to ROLLERDERBY!!!!

Have a wonderful rest of your Thursday,
SJS

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ouch (X2)

My doggie is in pain. She got her rabies and distemper shots on Monday, and sometime by Tuesday when I got home from work she was very lethargic, which I assumed was normal because of her shots. (The little dog also got his, but he was bouncing off of walls as usual.) However, Steve noticed that she was favoring one paw, and not putting any weight on her front legs. I called the vet, they said to bring her in this morning, which I did. Turns out, it has nothing to do with the shots -- she must have run into something or twisted her leg really hard in the interim, and she's got a problem with the inside of her shoulder on one leg. No fracture or breakage or anything, just painful. So he gave me some pain medication for her and sent us on our way. It breaks my heart to see her this way, because she's usually very bouncy and boisterous.

I feel like taking some of her pain medication, because about a half hour before I was done at work, I spilled a fresh cup of scalding hot water all over my left hand. I ran in the back, threw my hand under the cold water while sobbing, slapped some burn cream on it (thanks Marla!) and put a glove over it so I could finish my shift, but let me tell you something -- after all the times I've burned myself there, you'd think my calloused skin would get used to it. This hurts more than anything has ever physically hurt me before. That includes when my cousin tore all of the cartilage surrounding my knee when I was eight and I had to be on crutches for eight weeks. That includes the chunk of skin that was torn off of my back when I fell off my bike in the middle of the road. It includes the four or five other times I've gotten burned at work, and the time the grill exploded in my garage and I singed my arm hair. I have no idea what temperature our hot water is at work, but after people made fun of that old lady that burned herself on the McDonald's coffee, I'm not afraid to say I feel sorry for her, even if she was being stupid. Ouch. OUCH, ouch, ouch. Steve's going to come home from work and my dog and I are going to be laying on the floor, totally high on doggie Oxy or something, commiserating in our searing pain. Good dog. Goooooddddooog....g...g....zzzzz...z.z.z.

This is the world's worst segue (or not!) but I just finished reading the book "Disappointment with God" by Philip Yancey. It was a recommended book from our church for the last series we had, and I'm glad I picked it up. So many times, books on this subject are trite, almost like reading a fairy tale: "Yes, things are bad now, but someday it'll be alllll better and you'll live happily ever after! Hooray!" This one was not like that. I have read Philip Yancey before and appreciate his writing style and his thoroughness, his attention to detail. He also weaves everything around a central story, in this case the story of his friend Richard who had lost his faith. I also like that it doesn't end with "...and Richard and Jesus became best friends, The End". It's a realistic point of view on faith, hardship, and the silence of God at difficult points in life.

Why did I choose the day the flesh on my hand is falling off to write a blog?

I'm looking forward to the rollerderby meeting tomorrow night. We'll be taking a basic skills test. I drove around looking for skates yesterday, but only found one pair new that I kind of liked, and one pair used that I loved, but it was a Men's size 10, which would be juuuuuust a little too big for my Women's size 9 feet. I suppose I could've stuffed a couple of socks in them, but... I want the perfect skates. This is something I'm really looking forward to. Taking out my aggression, venting on wheels -- I could become a whole new person. It's like Fight Club, but with chicks, and while moving.

Doobie can sense when I attempt to pet Nikita, even if he's asleep three rooms away. She just slowly limped up to me for some love, and the moment my scalded hand slipped over her fur, he came running from the sitting room, clicking toenails across the dining room floor, and shoved her out of the way so I could pet him. Which I did not do, because I do not reward selfish behavior, even if dogs don't understand. Now she's looking for a place to lay down again, and it hurts her to get back up :( POOR PUPPY. I can't stand this. (If you see how bad off I am when it's my dog, thank God you're not around when something happens to one of my kids. Zach flew off his bike and got hurt one summer a few years back, and the idiot who called me said, "Mrs. Salisbury? Your son has been in an accident." No further explanation, but I assumed he meant he was dead. My heart started up again when the guy, after the world's longest pause, said... "He's okay, he's pretty scraped up, though." YOU DO NOT BEGIN A SENTENCE WITH "YOUR SON HAS BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT" YOU BEGIN IT WITH, "YOUR SON IS OKAY, BUT HE GOT HURT ON HIS BIKE." Grrrrrr. Where was I? Ah, yes. Close parentheses and move on.)

Okay, this typing thing is getting tedious. I'm going to give myself some heal-time with my doggie. A little self-pity goes a long way in times such as these.

A shout out to my husband for covering my shift alone for an hour or so this morning, as I very inconveniently did not know I was supposed to be in at 6:30am and had a vet appointment at 8:00, and to Taylor F. who covered it with him until I got there at almost 9:00. I greatly appreciate the help!

Ouch.

Ouuuuuch. :(

SJS

Monday, April 19, 2010

Leftovers

I'm not talking about the food. I'm talking about the crumbs of writing that I have left over from the rest of the day. I was, for some reason, exhausted all day long. Perhaps it was the weekend of sleep that I so enjoyed, and my body was longing for more of the same. Whatever it was, I had a difficult time focusing, felt weary most of the time physically, and eventually took about a three hour nap. All of this was crummy, but most crummy is the fact that now I am not tired at all, and it's 11:25 in the evening, and I have to work tomorrow. At least it's not at 6:30 in the morning, but still.

Oh, and the dogs had to go to the vet today for their shots. It ended up being less expensive than I thought it was going to be, so my check won't bounce even if I don't transfer money. Bonus. I also stopped by the post office and picked up some nifty packaging for something I'm sending my friend Danny. I'll let you know about it after he gets it, in case he's reading this. It'll be more fun if I don't ruin the surprise.

I'm slowly getting things around this house organized. I'm going through boxes of stuff, putting things in their places, debating what I really need to keep and what I can part with. I used to hoard things. As a child, I had collections of everything. And I don't mean coins and stamps. I mean coins, stamps, rocks, paper clips, foil from Easter candy, stickers, more stickers, Indian beads, seashells, broken seashells, buttons, stuffed animals, marbles... the list could continue if I would let it, but I'm sort of embarrassing myself right now so I'll stop. Suffice to say, there are two things that could have come of the 'collections': one, I would continue to collect and as I got older I'd have to keep buying bigger houses, or two, I would someday grow up and be less hoardy and materialistic and keep a nice balance of important vs. unimportant stuff in my home. The problem is, I married someone who also likes stuff. Video tapes, vinyl records, every piece of Sinatra memorabilia imaginable, old TV guides, cassette tapes, books neither of us will ever, ever read... Remember George Carlin and his [crap]/stuff rant? "Ever notice how everyone else's stuff is [crap] and your [crap] is stuff?" I think that's how we both feel. Our house would be a lot less cluttered if I were in charge of getting rid of his crap, and he were in charge of getting rid of my stuff.

Check out my cousin Johnny's wife's blog to see his latest kicking-cancer's-butt news. They're looking to find some people to do the cancer walk in July... any takers? I'm going to try and get some people together. If you're interested, let me know.

I accomplished a few things today that have needed to be done, so I feel mini-triumph. Hope that the rest of the week will bring more of the same (in the way of accomplishments, that is).

Let's see if I can get some sleep.

Sigh.

SJS

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fantastic Friday

What's so fantastic about it, you might ask? I have nothing pressing to do. Yes, I've come to that point in my life where I don't look forward to excitement -- I look forward to rest. I did have a good time at karaoke last night, although the greasy basket of fries decided it didn't agree with my belly right around 12:35 in the morning. I sent the Tums in to work as liaisons, but the fries said, "Nope. We're not having any reconciliation." And then there was an uprising.

(Jovial valley girl voice: "Don't you love how I totally just told you I puked and you didn't even notice!?")

Needless to say, waking up for work didn't agree with me much, either. I finally started to feel a little normal (well, for me) around 11:00 this morning. After a cup of coffee and three Advil.

I finished the Stephen King book, "On Writing" today in the bank parking lot. (Payday... yay! Now I can be less in debt!) He finished the portion on helping out young writers about halfway into the last disc, and then spent the rest of it giving a play-by-play of the van accident several years back. In case you've been hidden in a cave and didn't know it, Stephen King was hit by a van while walking in Maine and was injured pretty seriously, almost died. He tells it a lot better than I just did, though. In case you haven't read the previous blogs, this book is on my recommended list of reading for you this year. Buy it, download it, check it out at the library, but read it. Especially if you have any interest in being a writer. Even if you don't, it's a great read, at least.

The shiny new plumbing in the bathroom works so well! I still have some clean-up to do around the house, in the bathroom particularly since there is a fair amount of drywall on our floor. But Crystal Valley Comfort did a lovely job and it was very reasonably priced. The guy had a couple of emergency jobs before ours yesterday so even though he was supposed to be here between 12-2, he got here around 5 and didn't leave until after 7. But did I mention shiny new plumbing? That does not leak!? (Thus far...)

I think perhaps a cookout is in order sometime soon. Especially if the weather stays so cookout-y. Even with a bit of rain early on today, the sunshine is back out and things are pretty dry. Now if only I could get the gumption to grill something. I have the burgers and the dogs, just not the will to light the charcoal and poke around at the ashes. My George Foreman grill works so well and is way less messy.

A bit of laundry to do, a bit of reading as well -- I wish for everyone a relaxing and fulfilling weekend.

SJS

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Buoyant

HOLD MY HEART - TENTH AVENUE NORTH

How long must I pray
Must I pray to You?
How long must I wait
Must I wait for you?
How long ‘til I see your face
See you shining through

I'm on my knees
Begging you to notice me
I'm on my knees
Father, will you turn to me?

One tear in the driving rain
One voice in a sea of pain
Could the maker of the stars
Hear the sound of my breaking heart?
One life -- that's all I am
Right now I can barely stand
If you're everything you say you are
Would you come close and hold my heart?

I've been so afraid -- afraid to close my eyes
So much can slip away before I say goodbye
But if there's no other way
I'm done asking why

I'm on my knees
Begging you to turn to me
I'm on my knees,
Father, will you run to me?

So many questions without answers
Your promises remain
I can't see but I'll take my chances
To hear you call my name
To hear you call my name

---------------------------------------------------------------

One of my friends asked me today how, after almost six years of trying to get pregnant and not a single success, I don't get angry at my pregnant friends, or at God.

This song immediately popped into my head. (If you didn't notice, there's a link to the song up there... click on it and just listen.) The first time I heard it, I sobbed. I was driving, of course, so that was a bit dangerous, but it just described perfectly the feeling I have inside. The longing. The ache. The emotional injustice. The numbness. The emptiness. The overwhelming pangs of failure. The soul-wrenching fear that it will never, ever happen when it's the one thing I want more than almost anything in the world.

Am I angry at God? No. I know He's there, and I know He cares about what I'm feeling. I also know that if, and when, I am meant to give birth, it will be in His time, not in mine. I'll admit I'll be more than a bit agitated if I reach menopause and spent forty years barren (simply because I'll want a refund on all of the birth control and feminine hygiene products I purchased over the years and I know I won't get it). But seriously -- I've had almost every test in the book and there's nothing wrong with me, and there's nothing wrong with my husband. Therefore, I have to trust in the bigger picture. If it's meant to be, it will be. No, that's not easy to say, even now, after all these years of practicing the words. Yes, I put on a happy face from time to time when I really want to just scream and beat my head against a wall, but not always. Most of the time I am ecstatic for my friends and want nothing more than their happiness (and apparent fruitfulness as well). I just have to keep my head above water. What good does it do me to drown in self-pity? I did that for awhile. It didn't help me to get pregnant, either.

As much as I want to get out of this house and read in the hot sun for the second day in a row, the plumber is supposed to be showing up at some point and I don't want him to be attacked by the menacing lickiness of our dogs. I might just sit out on our deck and read for a bit before everyone gets home. I cleaned two houses today, did all of our grocery shopping, and started some laundry which I hope finished rinsing quickly so that it doesn't sit there when the plumber turns the water off.

I'm almost finished with two more books, and I think I'm going to go grab "Let the Right One In" so I can peruse it to decide if I really want to tackle that next.

Thanks for listening. This was a rough one to write today.

SJS

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

You Are My Sunshine

"It's a beautiful day. Don't let it slip away." -- Bono

I spent another couple of hours at the park today, and it was even warmer. I took off my shoes and socks, downed a Mountain Dew from Taco Bell, ate the rest of my lunch from work, rolled up my sleeves and pantlegs, and read and wrote. I could've stayed all day if there hadn't been that ache inside of me saying "You have a family at home. Go home." I don't know if that's just me, or if that's a wife/mother/father/husband in general. But it's quiet here, too. Steve's mowing the lawn with the lawnmower he must have fixed (the cord broke off of it yesterday. He's proving to be more and more handy with fixing things lately! I'm impressed!) Zach's watching some South Park on the other computer and laughing his butt off, Aria's still at school for Honk rehearsal, and Michael must be downstairs. So I'm catching up online, blogging, and who knows... I might go right back outside to soak up some more sun.

"I wanna soak up the sun..." -Sheryl Crow

I both started and finished reading "Girl, Interrupted" by Susanna Kaysen yesterday. I loved it. I've never seen the movie, so now I have to rent it to see if I like it or not, but the book was plain fantastic. Her writing style is akin to that of Chuck Palahniuk whom I adore. There are a couple of other books listed inside that she's written, so I'm interested in finding those at the library and reading them as well.

I have one disk and two tracks left of "On Writing". I'm glad I've finally been so inspired by something. I don't have a lot of motivation to do anything these days. Oh, which brings me to my next thought, something I'm really interested in...

SOUTH BEND is going to have ROLLER DERBY! I am going to the next meeting and I am so psyched I can't stand it. My best friend from elementary school is a Sin City Rollergirl, which is how I first heard of it in recent times (yes, I'd heard of rollerderby before, but a long time ago...) How cool would it be if she were on a team out there, and I was on one here!? Luckily I have a day job where it doesn't matter if I'm bruised and bloody.

As a follow-up to Stephen King ripping me a new one, my brother posted a Schoolhouse Rock video on my Facebook to let me know he was pro-adverb. It's nice to have people in my corner. I shall taunt Mr. King when I meet him someday. (Probably after I faint due to my excitement or vomit due to my anxiety.)

Thanks to my new followers, as well -- it's nice to see new faces and comments. It's greatly (ahem... adverb) appreciated.

I need to buy a new pair of roller skates. Hmm.

SJS

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Growing Up

It's such a strange sensation at the age of 33 to realize that I'm still growing up. There's a certain sense of pride, a righteous indignation if you will, that resides within each of us and I think that growing up, in a way, means that a little more of that dies each day. That's not a bad thing, it's a very good thing. It's a learning process. It's a letting-go process. Letting go of our selfishness, letting go of our innate desire to be right all the time. I'm not going to say "I'm there" by any means, but I'm certainly closer to it each day.

Of course, anyone who knows me will probably think differently. I do come off as pretty self-centered. I talk a lot. About myself. I'm sarcastic too often. But part of growing up is realizing this, which I have. Another part of growing up is attempting to remedy these sorts of problems. Which I am doing. I find that, the less I talk, the more I learn. About other people and about myself. So if you know me, and you're around me much, and I seem quieter to you in the near future, it's because I'm attempting to remedy these sorts of problems. I can't say that I will succeed. I can only say that I'm going to try.

Another part of growing up is not allowing your disappointments to consume you. Not allowing your anger to become rage, but instead siphoning it into ambition. From time to time, I am disappointed with where I live, and what I do. Not overly consumed, or distraught, but disappointed. From time to time, that disappointment leads to a bit of anger. And in my past, I've allowed my anger to morph into bitterness, resentment, and/or rage. But no more. I've come to let go of most of my anger, save just a couple of things I cannot let go quite yet (but I'm also attempting to!) The rest of this anger I won't even allow to churn. I'm siphoning it off into ambition. I spent the last couple of days angry that I'm not a writer. I spent today deciding to be a writer.

I'm aware that this sounds somewhat asinine, seeing as how I am, in fact, writing right now. But there is a difference between writing and being a writer, and that's a subtle shift that I had not been able to discern until very recently.

I don't just want to write. A lot of people want to write. I don't just want to be a writer. A lot of people want to be a writer. I feel, with every cell in my body, that I was meant to be a writer. That this is my calling in life. That when God was "knitting me together in my Mother's womb" He said, "Hey -- this one's going to be a writer once she realizes that's what she's supposed to be doing". I put a lot of stock into the whole "Age 33" thing, and the fact that by that time Jesus had accomplished His entire mission in life. I feel a bit pathetic that I've only just begun to figure mine out.

It also comes to my attention with this revelation that I am in dire need of a laptop so that I can really write. Without distraction. At the same time, the revelation that I don't have extra cash falling out of my rear end hits me as well. Maybe I should start the www.donatealaptoptostephaniethestarvingartist.com fund.

No links today. Just pure, unadulterated thoughts from me to you. I also figure if I'm talking less, I'm thinking more, and that can't really be a bad thing, can it?

SJS

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dance, Billy! Dance!

Our trip to Chicago was one of the more eventful day trips we've taken. For starters, I had no idea they had an actual Red Carpet event for Chicago Broadway debuts. Had I known, I might have brought my camera so I could have taken a better picture of ELTON JOHN WALKING TWO FEET IN FRONT OF MY FACE. Here's me: :) -----------------------------> Here's Elton [: Yeah, that close. For real. Oh, and Jesse Jackson, too, but I firmly believe his crowning achievement was his reading of "Green Eggs and Ham" on Saturday Night Live.

We did *not* eat at Subway, for those of you who read my previous blog. We ate at a very cool English Pub called "Elephant & Castle" I had a sirloin which came with English chips (I subbed sweet potato fries, though... sooo good) and baked beans and onion rings. We also shared a piece of Bailey's Irish Cream cheesecake with chocolate and coffee sauce drizzled on it. Steve's new favorite phrase of the day, I believe, is "Bang on" (according to the napkin: British slang meaning Excellent; exact; right on: E&C's fish & chips are Bang On!")

The show itself was exceptional, if you like dance. A lot of tap and ballet which was executed exquisitely. Even in our nosebleed seats, the sound quality was ... well, Bang On. Heh.

We got home around 1:00am, and shortly thereafter I plopped into bed where I promptly did not sleep most of the night, due to the snoring and the shivering (one was the husband, one was the dog). Little dog must have ripped his toenail on something and laid by my face shivering until I figured out what his problem was around 4:45am when I took him outside and saw the injury. Vet bill: $70, and I had to leave the room when the vet began explaining the "two ways to rip off a bandaid" theory that he had. I said do whatever needed to be done, but Mommy could not watch it happen. And I went out to the waiting room and cried on the inside so that the golden retriever and the bunny that were out there could not see my fear. I took the newly taped Doobie-Doo for a walk (or a limp, as the case may be) in the park next to the office where he got to poo on new and exciting things before we went home. I could not explain to Nikita that he didn't get a walk, he got a surgical procedure. All she saw was the leash, and I felt guilty for not taking her with me. It's okay, though, she gets to go on Monday. For shots! Yay! (Won't be so excited next time she sees the leash, now will she?)

I started and finished a short inspirational collection called "The Dance of Heaven" this weekend. It's a series of writings by singer/songwriters in the Christian music industry. Some of them were quite powerful, especially the story by Nichole Nordeman. Most of the names I didn't know, since I didn't really grow up listening to that sort of music and only recently (as in, the past five years or so) listened to it at all. But the stories were good, and they all laced together with Psalms in a way that I've never really enjoyed the Psalms before, so it was nice.

I'm finishing up with the Stephen King audio book and I think I'm going on to "Let the Right One In" before I watch the movie.

And the plumber's coming in the morning to see if he can fix my evil faucet fixtures in the bathroom. Should be another busy week! If we can pay for it all without selling our kids or dogs, it might actually turn out well...

SJS

Friday, April 9, 2010

It's April. Snow? Really!?

So there wasn't any today, but I saw it yesterday and as beautiful as the sunshine might be on this fabulous Friday, it's still bitter cold outside. And a little bit inside, too, I must say. But that's because I left my fuzzy Michigan blankie in the office. (P.S., the spell-checker does not like blanky or blankie, so I chose the -ie version because that's how I spell Stephie.)

It's kind of a big weekend. Today seemed like a long day -- I dropped the boys off at a friend's house this morning because they were on FOX 28 news performing live for the Elkhart Glee Club. I'm very excited for them because this is such an incredible opportunity. The community has been very supportive of the Glee Club, and I'm so glad both of our sons are a part of it. They have a concert tomorrow night at 8pm in downtown Goshen at the Goshen Theatre (808 church) which should be a lot of fun, for all who can attend. For those who cannot attend... well, nah-nah, we'll have fun and you won't. Then we're hanging out with Marla and Anson who are super-cool at their place. Party! Do-do-doooh! (As an afterthought, there are maybe three people that will get the party reference -- if you are not one of the three, I used to have a $60 Furby named Lola that said that phrase all the time ... "Party! Do-do-dooooh!" R.I.P. Lola. Don't ask.)

Sunday we actually have to go into work (which is closed on Sundays) to take care of a catering, and then we have tickets to see Billy Elliot making it's Chicago Broadway Debut, so we'll be traveling there and back. I'm hoping to get something good to eat beforehand -- last time we ate at Subway in Chicago before seeing Steve Martin. I couldn't reconcile the two things in my mind. Steve Martin was for me (a present from my husband) and Subway was for the husband, so this time Billy Elliot is for the husband and I'm going to eat somewhere that I can't eat anywhere BUT Chicago.

Stephen King is still inspiring me with his book, and I will not allow his outlook on adverbs to adversely (adverb) affect the way I feel about him. I've found that you don't always have to agree with someone to love them. Otherwise, I definitely would not be married. To anyone. King is saying quite a bit that I do agree with, however, and I find myself wishing I could sit beside him and ask questions. I want to find some nice, quiet place and just write for two weeks straight and do nothing else. It will probably take me a good three days of that just to shake off the rest of the world, two more days to think of something to write about, another three to process in my head how I want it to start, proceed, and a vague idea of how I'd like to see it end. How long does that leave me to write? Less than a week. Hmm. I also forgot about eating and sleeping. Maybe four days of actual writing? I do have a tendency to lose focus and wander. Two days, perhaps. I guess I need three weeks, but my innate ability to procrastinate just the right amount will probably still leave me with two days to write even if I went away for a month. Sad little person, aren't I?

Michael is making a smoothie. Even at home, I cannot escape the sounds of work...

Time for that nice hot bath I was dreaming of while driving. They always opine about the dangers of drinking and driving, talking on a cell phone and driving, eating a Big Mac and driving... no one ever really points out that dreaming and driving isn't a good idea, either. Especially if it's sleep-dreaming and driving. I've actually done that before. With three other adults in the car who were sleeping. Imagine that scene from National Lampoon's Vacation where everyone's asleep including Chevy Chase. It was kind of like that, but in a more Sci-Fi way. Now I have to tell you the story before I go.

I was taking second shift driving back from a Five-For-Fighting/Vertical Horizon concert in Chicago with my ex-husband (who had yet to become my husband at that point) and our two friends Graham and Rebekah. The car was quiet except for the radio, but my ears were pretty blown out from the concert we'd just attended so everything had that dull, ringing edge to it. I was in a foul mood, likely because said ex-husband raised my ire in some way because he thought the music was too loud and/or there were too many people there, so I was kind of happy everyone else was asleep. I drove. I listened to whatever was on the radio that sounded a lot more quiet than it probably was. The edges of my eyesight became faded and got darker and darker, until I realized I was driving through a massive cloud of tiny insects. They were swarming, at 3am, on all sides of the vehicle. Now, this was fine until one of them enlarged, looked directly at me, and flew around to the front of the windshield with its beaming yellow laser eyes that were aimed directly at my forehead. It began a high-pitched whine much like that of a dying radiator, and then the rest of the swarming insects flew, Pied-Piper-Style, into marching lines behind it, all beginning their incessant whining in cadence with his. At once, it occurred to me they were going to crack through the front windshield with the force of all their weight and the speed they were going -- and how in the heck were they flying 80 miles per hour and still staying directly in front of my moving vehicle??? I awoke with a small scream, thanked God for safety and the ability of my car full of friends to sleep through a near-death experience, pulled over to the side of the road and sheepishly asked Graham to take over.

True story. Shh. Don't tell Graham or Rebekah or Chris, please. Thank you.

SJS

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Small Senses of Accomplishment

I love it when I get a few things done that I've been needing or wanting to do. Like, I picked up the dry cleaning today and it made me feel good inside. (It begs the question, "How mundane is your life that picking up dry cleaning gives you a little perk?" but you know what? I'll take it!) I took three full boxes to the recycling center and sorted it, and wished once again that we had pick-up for our recycling because of the somewhat grotesque smell of the bins. I dropped off an only-slightly overdue library book. I met my Mom for lunch and a couple hours of girl time. I left a list of small chores for my kids to do so the house would be neat and tidy when I came home. And I listened to more of "On Writing" by Stephen King.

Something he said threw me like I never expected to be thrown. I almost replayed the sentence because I just couldn't believe it the first time. I let it sink in, and felt uncomfortable with myself as a writer. Stephen King, one of my personal heroes, said:

"The road to hell is paved with adverbs."

It was enough to make me want to pull over to the side of the road and sit in shock, or weep a bit. I love adverbs. LOVE them. I'd go so far as to say that I could possibly (adverb) be addicted to anything that ends in -ly. I'm pretty (adverb) certain that if I went back through the course of my writing since fourth grade, I would find that I grossly (adverb) overuse adverbs. (Any of you that actually (adverb) knows what an adverb is might spend the next half hour poring over several of my blogs to see the frequency with which I use them. STOP IT!)

I'm a big believer in the active form of verb usage as opposed to the passive form. "The book was carried to the shelf by Frank" just sounds awkward, clunky, out-of-place. "Frank carried the book to the shelf" makes you feel as if someone is doing something, instead of something is happening to something. I don't know if I'm just more anal than I thought I was and these things annoy me because I both majored in and taught English at both the high school and college levels, but they do annoy me. But I'm a huge fan of adverbs. I wonder if there's a part of me that hides behind them. As if I cannot think of a strong enough verb, so I just hide my weak verb behind a creative adverb. I thought that was a good thing up until now. Now I think I'm less skilled than I previously believed. (Previously is an adverb. Grrrrr.)

It's not that he suggest adverbs are a bad thing in general. He likened them to dandelions. If you see a dandelion, it's pretty in its individuality. You see it by your doorstep and its lovely shade of yellow brightens your day. The next day a few more pop up, and then, in a week, your yard is overgrown with dandelions and you realize they're not flowers at all, they're weeds, and now there's nothing you can do about them. That's how Stephen King feels about adverbs. The good thing is, he also said this is one of those "Do as I say, not as I do" things because he had a tremendous amount of adverbs in his past, too. I didn't focus on that part enough. I'm going to focus on that for awhile now, because... let's face it: if Stephen King uses a lot of adverbs and he's a bestselling author with more money than I could even dream of having, they can't be all bad, now can they?

On another note, I highly encourage any of you in the area to come see the Elkhart Glee Club perform at the 808 Theatre in Downtown Goshen Saturday at 8:00. (Yes, I'm shamelessly plugging because both of my sons are in it, both singing and one drumming and beat-boxing, but come anyway, dang it.)

More to accomplish today, so I'll end this for now. Hope you're having a lovely day, and that it only gets better as it goes on.

SJS

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Mustering Reality

Periodically I sit in my car, thinking in between the music or the audio book, and I wonder: why am I driving a ten-year-old Saturn with broken parts from two different crashes and drinking a free pop from work when I should be sitting in the sun somewhere on a white sand beach with a margarita in my hand brought to me by some bronze god or goddess whose only desire is to serve me because I am so disgustingly rich it's nothing for me to tip twenty dollars for one drink?

Then I remember that this is real life.

There's always a part of me that keeps going because I'm only doing whatever it is I'm doing until I'm rich and famous. Whether it's serving coffee to irritatingly rude people who don't tip on a $46.00 bill, cleaning a toilet that's had better days, or repeatedly pushing the CD button in my car because even my CD player won't work on the first try. I keep going because I think... this can't possibly last. Something will happen. Money will fall from the sky. Someone will like a story idea I send in for submission. I will be the one person who wins a million dollars on a scratch-off lottery ticket.

Then I remember that this is real life.

There is no white beach in Middlebury, Indiana, but there is a lot of rain, a good many terrible drivers, and a consistently cow-wy smell. Somewhere, sparkling beneath the sun is a glimmer of hope. Hope inside my weary soul, or my frazzled brain, or my broken spirit. It shimmers hesitantly, sporadically, and whispers "Just... keep trying. A little harder. Someday you'll be on that beach. And it will be the best margarita you've ever had in your entire existence."

Then I remember that this is real life.

I used to have the most complicated, infuriating, physically and emotionally painful anxiety attacks. And it was always some loop. I'd think about eternity: living forever and ever and ever and ever, until you die. Oh, wait... no, you don't die. You live forever and ever and ever and ever. Until you die. No... no death. You live forever and ever and ever. Until... panic... there's no end... it's eternity... forever and ever and why am I in fear of something that's supposed to be wonderful? Even things being "wonderful" forever and ever and ever and ever is massively frightening to me. And if I were really thinking about it right now, instead of typing it in a nonchalant manner, it would strike stone-cold dread into my heart, deep in the pit of my dropping stomach I would feel it like a lump of undigested red meat. Forever. And ever. No end. I liken these anxiety attacks to the mild, back-of-my-mind assumption that someday things will be great. Stellar. Phenomenal. My wildest dreams will come true because I will be independently wealthy. My children will have no worries about college or cars or paying rent. I will drive the '67 GTO I've always wanted, my husband will have his brand spanking new Mustang, and we'll have our luxurious home in Las Vegas, and another in New York, Australia, Italy, and a vacation villa in Mexico.

Then I remember that this is real life.

Real life.

Real.

Life.

*Panic*

The problem with real life isn't that it's horrible. It's just the shift that bothers me, really. The shift from one paradigm to another just leaves me with a sense of jet lag, that's all. Like I was actually on this marvelous vacation and it took me 29 hours to get back from it in three different time zones and when it was all said and done, I couldn't remember the beauty of it all, just the dragging, bone-settling experience of restless exhaustion. Shifting, again and again, from the "Everything will be wonderful someday" to the "Then I remember that this is real life" paradigm.

The fact is, I love my life. I love my husband, my kids, my dogs, my home, my family, my friends. There are irritating people everywhere that don't tip on a $46.00 bill, toilets everywhere that need cleaning, and even a brand new CD player might not work all the time. Even on that beautiful white sand beach, the bronze god or goddess serving me might sneeze in my fabulous margarita. Nothing compares to the life that's going to be AFTER this one. I can't sit around expecting that overwhelming happiness is going to drop into my lap someday. I CAN, however, work as hard as I need to, and then harder, to make a better life here for myself and my family. I can support my husband in his endeavors, give him time to himself and take time for myself as well. I can encourage my children to be what they feel led to be as they're becoming adults. I can write. I can sing. I can enjoy things - both significant things like a committed loving monogamous relationship and insignificant things like a mediocre margarita and a little karaoke -- in THIS life. This real life.

This is real life.

And I'm okay with that.

...

...

Enough philosophy. I've started the audio book "On Writing" narrated by the author -- none other than Mr. Stephen King. And it's already been very inspiring to me. I am always appreciative when I listen to some other writer talking about writing, or read an article or blog about such things. It forces me to search myself -- what do I really want to write? What am I good at writing? What do I stink so badly at writing that I should avoid at all costs? How should I go about getting my next book/article/story published? All of these questions push to the front of my mind, and when things are finally in the forefront, sometimes it causes this frightening thing called "Progress". I begin thinking, then I begin researching, then I begin submitting. Then I begin getting rejection letters, then I begin getting... well, frustrated. Then I begin pretending I don't have time to write when, really, if I'd get my I've-gained-12-pounds-eating-junk-food butt off of the couch, I'd have way more time than I let myself believe. See? Another cycle. I'm in the optimistic phase right now, though, so I'll just latch onto that for awhile and see where it takes me.

In the end, I sure hope you're having a better day than I am!

SJS

Monday, April 5, 2010

I. Am. Pathetic.

Okay, back by popular demand, but I'm not sure for how long. And, popular demand means that two people in two days have asked me why I stopped blogging. That is the extent of my popularity, but I do appreciate the sentiment, both of you. I'm attempting to write through my triptofan-induced haze from the turkey leftovers. I'm about to go down a half a bottle of Tums just to get through the night. Why, oh why, can I not just eat a little bit of food that I enjoy and stop? Why is it absolutely necessary for me to say, "Ooh! I must have a great deal of this particular food in my belly at the same time as this particular food and this one as well. And, by golly, THAT looks good, too! I'll have a decent amount of that, also! Pile it on!" But I don't want to blog about that. Nor my headache, my weight gain, my lack of sleep, extremely early hour of work-waking, or desire to do nothing but sit in the sunshine and sleep.

I'm going to write about Easter.

I wish I felt some incredibly powerful passion to write right now, but I'm too full to think that hard. I just want to say that I had a fantastic Easter this year. Almost every single member of my side of the family was at my house, except for two of my nephews. I can't tell you how much this meant to me. It's been a very long time, and it was more than worth the cooking and cleaning :) My wonderful mother- and father-in-law were there also, and they are just as much family to me as the rest of my family! My brother-in-law stopped over later and ate a little and took home some leftovers, so I just missed my sisters-in-law, niece, and nephew on Steve's side.

Easter is a time of renewal and of hope. The entire purpose of Jesus' birth and death culminated on Easter, and we celebrate that each and every year. He died on Friday, rested on Sabbath, rose on Sunday and, a far cry from "the rest is history" -- the rest should pervade our lives everyday. The renewal in me is more important than New Year's Resolutions which I never keep. Yes, I want to lose weight. Yes, I want to spend more time outdoors. Yes, I want to pay off more bills. But this time of year, I think about how I want to be a better person. How I want to LIVE my beliefs, and avoid the hypocrisy that I so despise, which I find creeping up inside my own spirit from time to time. How I want to find whatever path God has chosen for me, and not just walk it but race it like nothing I've ever run before.

And I sure like Cadbury eggs a whole lot.

Thank you to our whole family for coming and celebrating with us, and to the friends who joined in as well. I now retire to my medicine cabinet for a strong dose of antacid and a vigorous toothbrushing.

Here's to whenever I get around to writing again. Thanks for checking up on me! Feel free to keep me in line, that's why you're here!

SJS