Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Preparing to Let Go

I did it. I have begun a new phase in this journey that will ultimately give me both amazing joy and deep heartache.

I have signed my daughter up for class. Two to be exact: Mommy and Me Montessori on Wednesdays and Music Together on Thursdays. I am looking forward to these excursions with my daughter and I believe she will love them and look forward to going. But this leaves me a bit sad because I always look far ahead when a momentous thing like "going to class" comes into my life.

I know that one day soon, I will not be going to class with my daughter anymore. I know, I know . . . it will be wonderful to have some free time on my hands or go back to work or volunteer or whatever, but I am nervous about it.

Parenting is about preparing. Sure it's about love, joy, frustration, learning, etc., etc. But it ultimately is about preparing. From the moment your child is conceived you prepare your body, life and home for the little one. Once she is born, you then spend the next several years preparing her.

Everything you do as a parent is done to prepare your child for life. Everything. Teaching her how to use utensils, how to use the potty, how to read, write, add, subtract, how to love, forgive, fail, succeed, work, relax, play, color inside and outside the lines, how to be polite, how to make friends and how to break friendships, how to go up the steps to go down the slide. How to go to school. How to become.

My niece is entering her junior year in high school and her parents are preparing her for college - how to decide, making visits, what to do in school now. And I know her mother does not want her to go away to school because she loves the relationship she has with her daughter, loves the woman she is becoming, wants to be in her life like she is now.

And at first I didn't quite understand that. I have said, and will always say, that if my daughter wants to go away for college, I am fine with that. I want her to go to a school that is the best for her, one where she will succeed and grow and prosper. But, now that we are taking our first two classes together, I am feeling the first pangs of that heartache that is coming in 16 years. In case you haven't noticed, I have to prepare myself in advance for some of these dramatic life changes that I know are coming. It helps balance the dramatic life changes that I don't see coming.

Dan Rodricks wrote a column in the Baltimore Sun yesterday about his son going off to college. In the column he talks about the melancholy he feels over this event and that other parents share this emotion and quotes a parent who says, "It was by far the hardest and saddest day of my life as a parent . . . I guess, looking back, we were this perfectly happy family of four and life was great until one day we woke up and realized that one of the foursome had a new role to assume."

And now I understand more fully my sister-in-law's sadness over the possibility of her daughter going away to college. But that's the ironic part: You spend your whole life as a parent preparing your child for that moment when they step out into the world by themselves, and many times saying it can't come soon enough, only to want them to never actually go.

I know what some of you are thinking: Linda has gone off the deep end, why is she thinking about this when she's only going to Mommy and Me?

Because my job is to prepare this little one bopping around the house for that moment when I have to let go. And if I can understand what it is that I fear, I can then understand my job more completely.

The fear: That she will go out into the world and mess up big time; that she will be ill-prepared for adulthood; that my life will have little meaning without her at home.

Ahhh . . . there it is. There is no stopping the fact that my daughter will indeed have a new role to assume. But so, too, will I. And as much as I am preparing my daughter for that role, I must prepare myself for that time when I am no longer teaching her how to tie her shoelaces or what it means to compromise.

Letting her go will be the hardest thing I will have to do in my life. Letting her go with the knowledge that I have prepared her, and myself, well will allow me to open my arms and embrace what's next rather then spend the next five days under the covers sobbing.

But I still reserve the right to sob for one day.

-Posted by Linda

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Reminder

It has been two weeks since the middle day of the year has passed and I am sad. I could tell by the way the sunlight shone on my daughter's hair this morning that things were changing. Tree leaves are losing their oh-so-new green hue. Insects are beginning to ramp up their chorus of clicks and whistles that peak in August - rehearsals before a grand run in Earth's symphony hall.

Walking to the mailbox today, I noticed the shadows are a bit longer on my front garden and the weeds are outgrowing my snapdragons. I am tired of pulling weeds. I want - dare I say it - I want to spray the living daylights out of all the weeds. I want them out of my life, but I don't want the trouble. Gone is my springtime enthusiasm for gardening. Resting in its place is the knowledge that August is coming with its shortened days, unrelenting heat, and mosquito insurgency.

August reminds me that time is better spent sitting by the pool while my little one plays the part of the sea monster to her chubby water toys. That this coming month's morning light, with its new slant and subtle orange glow, will be the most beautiful time of day all year. That I will try to convince my husband to open the windows at night so I can fall asleep to that symphony I've been hearing so much about lately.

What had been intended as a missive on disliking the month of August seems to have had the opposite effect on me. It did not take long to find beauty where a moment ago it did not exist. I must remember to return this lesson to my daughter when she starts to over think everything around her.

-Posted by Linda

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Belated Father's Day Thoughts

My dad will be 71 this September and, I believe, he has lived longer than his own father. He remembers food coupons given out during WWII and toward the end of The Great Depression. He remembers when margarine came with a yellow dot in the center of it and kneading it to spread the color. He remembers how his neighbor used to hang chickens upside down in the backyard and then cut their heads off and prepare them for dinner. I know, a gruesome sight and I cannot even fathom my own little girl seeing that in our neighborhood. But, as my dad says when remembering these things from his childhood, "Things were different back then".

"Back then" seems a world away. My dad bought a car for like $30 when he was 14 or so, couldn't even drive the old thing. He remembers "sock hops" and riding the trolley downtown to see the movies or go dancing. To this day he is still puzzled by his mother's decision to take him out of a vocational high school when he was 16. My dad, who never enjoyed school, really enjoyed this one; it's where he learned wood working. I always assumed it was so he could go to work and help with the family income; but the tone in his voice indicates otherwise.

"Back then" it was cool to smoke cigarettes. So, at the age of 16, my dad began his 30 year pack a day habit. I remember when he quit, with my mom's help, and he attended my First Holy Communion. I was 7 and my father never came to church with us. My brother came up to me later and said, "Did you notice that Dad was in church today?" I was 7 and nervous and saw him there but didn't really think anything of it. I was told that he had quit smoking and thought that that very special day would be a good one to start his new life. He, himself, told me that he wanted to live long enough to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day.

My dad has good bill of health from his doctor's, but damage has been done. I worry, increasingly, about my father. Really, about me. My dad had a heart attack 7 years ago. He had part of his lung removed about 3 or 4 years ago. His hand shakes. These things are all unknown to my daughter. All she knows, all she really needs to know is that her Pop-pop loves her and she loves him like no one else.

My daughter is going through a phase where she needs some time to warm up to people. This is new to me and I don't like it. I am confident that it is mostly due to more teeth coming in, a more aware self, and a growing desire for independence. All this makes her moody for the first half hour she is in a place where there are more adults than kids. This past Father's Day, she was being her moody, clingy self at my family's cookout. Pop-pop, my dad, came in from the deck to greet his "BABY!" and she would not go to him. My daughter, who looks at family pictures and points to her grandfather and says with joy, "Pop-pop!"; my daughter, who randomly says "Pop-pop" before she goes to bed at night would not go to her favorite person in the whole wide world.

And it broke my heart.

I know it's a phase and she did go to him as usual as the day went on. But I couldn't help but think back to my First Holy Communion and the thought that my wedding day was a lifetime away and my dad would live forever. I couldn't help but notice that my dad could barely hold his plate to spoon some potato salad onto it because his hand shook so much. I couldn't help but notice that my dad was quieter than usual that day. Quiet like the night before Christmas 3 1/2 years ago when he sat at my table nearly silent and ended up going to the hospital at 5 a.m. with a collapsed lung.

We are going to Disney World this year to celebrate my parents' 50 years of marriage and I can't help but think . . . well, let's just say I will be enjoying every moment of this upcoming vacation, taking pictures and searing the memory of it into my brain. I've made room, you see, cleared out some clutter in my memory files and I've trained myself to be observant to the little things said and unsaid: A look, a laugh, an opinion, a smile, a thought, a . . . yes . . . a shake.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Thank you, Facebook.

My day started really well: Caught up on email and news, ate breakfast, drank a cup of coffee, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, vacuumed, and battled a few ants all before Katie woke up and I brought her downstairs around 10:30 a.m.

As she played with her toys and ate a breakfast of cut up grapes and green beans, I cleaned the glass windows and doors and wiped down all the kitchen cabinets. Back to the green beans. I knew you were there. Yes, she actually chose the green beans from her basket of baby fruits and veggies. And yes, she ate the entire container. She's her daddy's daughter in this regard, both love their veggies.

After an episode of Backyardigans, a few books read, and some coloring, it was nap time. Off she went to her room (with my help) and then off I went to mop the kitchen floor. It really was a good day for cleaning. My mom called on the phone and I chatted with her about babysitting next week and I noticed my two cats pacing on the back screened in porch and staring intently on something on the patio.

I walked out to see what they saw; usually it's a chipmunk and I like watching them run around. But not this time. Oh no, it couldn't be something like a chipmunk. I saw

a snake! A long black snake with it's tail hidden behind the siding ON MY HOUSE!

I believe I screamed. My mother frantically asked what was the matter and I just kept saying over and over again: Oh my God! Oh my God! It's a snake! I have a snake on my patio! Oh my God!

I grabbed the camera and took a dozen photos of it for proof and identification purposes. Then, the thing turned around and slithered BACK UP UNDER THE SIDING ON MY HOUSE!

So I finished the call with my mom telling me to stay calm and assuring me that it was probably a simple garden snake, but leaving me a little worried about whether or not it would get into the house. Thanks, Mom.

I immediately sent out an email to my husband, my sisters-in-law and two friends who I knew would get a kick out this (the email to my husband was specifically to let him know what his husbandly duties were going to be when he came home from work). Then, the next thing I did, was update my status on Facebook and post some photos of the snake onto my profile asking for people to help confirm the type of snake and to give me some reassurance.

Facebook is absolutely amazing.

Within 43 minutes, I had my first response. Within one hour, I had three additional responses. Four people had identified the snake, sent me internet links, and contacted me. Did I mention that this happened within 60 minutes?

I am fascinated by this. I knew I would get some response eventually, but in less than an hour? A friend wrote to me that "Facebook is good for something (I had my doubts until now)."

Besides superpokin', playing Bingo, taking quizzes, sending hatching eggs, Facebook is actually good for something.

The consensus is that it is a black rat snake and is quite harmless.

Thank you, Facebook. Thank you.

-Posted by Linda

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Search for Joy

I sat down to my Thursday paper and began reading the front section. Something that caught my attention was a commentary piece by Garrison Keillor about joy.

"The joyful child in the pool," Keillor writes of his daughter, "has been scorched too and has cried hard over playground slights and betrayals, but joy has the power to sweep misery away. This is true. Nobody 'gets over' anything; there is no closure; hearts stay broken for a long time. Love is a tumult, and it's a wonder anyone survives it. But you look out the window and imagine joy is waiting for you somewhere."

I started thinking of my own daughter and how I often describe her as my little force to be reckoned with. Indeed she is a powerful wonder to behold. At 20 months, she is the height of a 2-year-old, has the ability to observe a person doing something and then mimic it as best as she can, and is very autonomous. She holds her crayons, pens, and utensils like an adult. She pays close attention to detail and does not randomly scribble on paper. Anyone who watches her color will see that she makes small deliberate marks. Her latest creation consists of crayon scratches on each corner of the paper - not the middle, but on each corner.

But for all of this meticulousness, she is joy-filled. Immensely joy-filled. She finds joy in rose petals tossed on the lawn, a cat staying in her presence for more than 10 seconds, the wind blowing in her hair. She finds joy in a song on t.v. and will pull you onto the floor to dance with her. She finds joy in the presence of her father home after a long day at work. She is also a giver of joy and will greet anyone who is kind to her with a smile as wide as Montana. Her Aunt Lisa says that Katie "is amazing how she makes everyone feel like they are her favorite person in the whole world."

And then this got me thinking about me and how people have said to me that I am joy-filled. I am writing this to share the train of thought that chugged through my mind in the 10 minutes I sat thinking about the front section of the newspaper. I have, at times, felt guilty about being an at-home mom. I have, at times, felt I should bring some income into the family. I have, at times, felt like I should be doing something else. But then I remember when my nephew was born 10 years ago. I was 21 and I had thought about what I wanted to do with my own children and deciding then that I really wanted to be there for them, especially in the first 3 years of their life. I don't know why, but it became incredibly important to me.

So I have decided that I will be grateful that my dream has come true. I am able to do something I have wanted to do before I even had children of my own. How lucky to be in this position. Then I started thinking about memories that Katie will have because I have memories of my own young time with my at-home mother.

Which moments in these next few years will be burned onto her brain? Which moments of the past 20 months have already been burned? And then I started thinking about memory.

My earliest memory is of a toddler me, probably not much older than Katie, standing in my crib and crying so hard for my mother. I must have woken up from my nap and she was not coming when I called her. I remember my mother folding her arms around me and saying to me, "I'm sorry. I was out back hanging up laundry." I remember that as clear as though it had been recorded. My mother's arms held me tight and the memory fades into darkness.

I remember standing in the backyard with a sawed off baseball bat and my brother, Brian, teaching me how to swing and pitching balls to me.

I remember a moment in the kitchen waiting for my mother to hand me my kitty cup with orange juice and being so happy when she gave it to me.

I remember laying on top of my father as he watched t.v., my head on his body, listening to the gurgles of his tummy and feeling the rise and fall of his chest.

I remember sitting on my mother's lap in church. How I loved those moments: Her sweet scent lingering now in my nose . . . twirling her curls around my little fingers . . . placing my head on her breast and listening to her heartbeat while she listened to the Word of God.

And so I spend time showing Katie joy. At playgroup on Tuesday, Katie was in a kiddie pool with 5 other toddlers. She is the youngest. One little boy started to splash her and she started crying and indicating to me that she wanted out of the pool. I did not take her out. I got down on my knees, gave her a reassuring hug and told her to have fun. I turned to the little boy and said to him, "If you splash Katie, then Katie can splash you. Right?" After a brief look of puzzlement and a repeat of the statement, he smiled and agreed. So I took my sniffling daughter, turned her sideways and showed her how to play "splashies" by taking her foot and kicking the water. The little boy laughed and Katie laughed - until she got a few drops of water on her face. But she stayed in the pool for a bit longer and played with the alligator squirters .

Joy doesn't often come to you on a platter. I believe you have to train yourself to search for it. Garrison Keillor did not end his piece with "I hope joy comes to you." he specifically says, "I hope you find it." There is a lot of joy out there today and it is worth a little search.

I suppose that my parenting style has been geared to helping my daughter find joy. I am pleased that at such a young age, she is able to and I am proud that she shares her joy with others.

Sharing toys with others . . . that's a post for a different day.

-Posted by Linda

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Itchy Shirt Search

ugh. Fatigue is setting in. Motivation is screeching to a halt. And I'm still looking for the poison ivy shirt. With every item of clothing that I pick out of the basket to place in the washing machine, I have to be getting closer to "the shirt".

You see, my husband helped a friend attempt to reclaim his backyard and has gotten a case of poison ivy rash. I have washed the shorts already, several times in fact, by themselves, in hot water. But, for reasons that remain unknown, I have not found the shirt. There is one more load of laundry in the basket and I am sure it is in that pile.

I'm getting itchy just thinking about it.

I have a few mosquito bites on my legs and they are being activated, as I like to say, by the mere thought that this shirt, in all of its poison ivy glory, is mingling with clothing. My clothing to be specific. When I find the shirt, I think I will throw it away.

Scratch, scratch, scratch. I do not have poison ivy. The bites are uniting with their flora brethren. My husband and I sit on the couch in the evening and both try to ignore the desire to scratch our legs off - marital bonding has gone awry.

This is ridiculous. I sat down with the intention of avoiding my goal of walking on the treadmill every day when Katie takes a nap. I was going to pour over this entry and apologize to no one in particular for not writing in the past few days. I was going to take my time and let the treadmill slip my mind. Instead, this poison ivy shirt search entry is making me so very itchy that I have to do something distracting.

Thank you, poison ivy shirt, for keeping me on track. I hope that you enjoy your reward. Go ahead, it's at the bottom of the bin; you just have to reach a little further.

Friday, May 30, 2008


Ok, so I've been doing my best to be a bit religious about writing a little something here everyday (not sure about weekends, there may not be much here on the weekends). For some reason, the time I have "chosen" is just when my daughter is waking up from her nap and I am in a bit of a mad dash to get things done before I have to bring her downstairs.

This can't continue, can it? Hmm . . . I do seem to vaguely remember that I did what I considered to be my best stuff at the last minute. The work that I created where I had plenty of time to labor over a carefully chosen word or get the description just right, I hate. Yes, I use the correct word. I hate that stuff. I wrote it. I photocopied it. I distributed it to the class. I even read it out loud. And I hated every comma, every period, every capital letter moment of it. I can't even bring myself to read these pieces in my Great Big Binder of Written Stuff. I roll my eyes and sigh and quickly turn the pages in embarrassment.

Oh sure, there are a few sentences worth saving, a turn of phrase here and there to re-use in some more acceptable piece of prose. But, my God, how I hate those pieces.

I enjoy the works I created when I had a deadline looming. Namely, it is 2 a.m. and this thing is due at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning and I haven't even written a sentence sort of piece. I had to be more efficient. I didn't have time to play around with some grandiose metaphor that the writer knew didn't work but left it in anyway because "It's creative". Overstuffed is more like it.

Which explains why I have "chosen" this time period to write. The baby is babbling to her dolls in her crib, I hear her and I know she is hungry, but patiently waiting for Mom to pop into her room. Sorry, Dear, I just need one more minute that I don't have to get this out and - "DING" the deadline clock has announced the end of its shift.

And, yeah, I like it.

-Posted by Linda

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I am listed as a contributor to this blog, but I have not done much in the way of fulfilling my blogging duty. It has been suggested to me by my sweet hubby, several times in fact, that I should do a little writing to, you know, get back into the writing swing of things.

It's hard. In my own head I have that ever present "List of a Hundred Things To Do" around the house, with the baby, next week, before I die . . . and daily writing just is not on any of those lists. Why? I don't know. Well, I'm sure I know but I don't want to take the time to think about it. Which is an odd sort of state to be in. You see, I went to college to major in writing only to discover that I had to "join" the writing major with something. So my Bachelor's Degree is in English/Writing (with a rather heavy emphasis on writing); and yet, I have done very little since I graduated.

One would then think that writing would come so easily to me, that I would want to write my hand off, that I would want to expound on something, anything in writing. And, between you and me, it is all true. I have allowed my writing pen to go dry out of fear of failure. Which is funny considering how anyone who chooses a life in the arts - painting, dance, theater, and even writing - is often faced with constant rejection. I know this and yet, even here in this medium, I am worried (but not so worried that I chose this rather than put pen to paper and have the ability to hide my writing away in some drawer).

Well, so what? I guess I have finally decided that I need to take a little bit of time out of my day to do a little something creative for me. Which may at first sound selfish (and indeed as I write this I feel it is so), but it is not. Every night that I put my daughter to bed, one of the last things I tell her after I whisper "goodnight" is "It is time to go to sleep and dream, my dear, and promise me that you will dream big".

Well, how can I tell my daughter to dream big when I don't even dream little. The latest dream I had was eating 3 chicken tacos for dinner. I kid you not. That is the dream I had last night. wow. Mind-blowing, I know. So after thinking about this taco dream all morning (yes, I really did), I have decided to write again.

I'm not sure what you'll find here. Maybe a creative bit here and there, a poem or two, the latest news on my ever growing little girl, perhaps a rant on something that irks me. Who knows, maybe those chicken tacos will turn into something bigger; I'll be sure to let you know.

-posted by Linda (the hubby needs to give the wife another tutorial)

Monday, April 07, 2008


After a late night snack and getting sucked into watching Blade II on television, I took a short catnap and found myself awake at 3:30am. So, I popped into the computer room to do a little web surfing and I hear some noises coming from Katie's room.

So, I pull up the "cribcam" and my little girl is sitting in the corner of her crib running her hands through one of her doll's hair. She's been doing that now for the past 20 minutes or so. Sometimes, she will get up, walk around the crib, or flip through one of her books.

Did I mention we have the sweetest, most well-tempered little girl in the universe?


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Deep Breathes!

Ok, I feel better than I did 24 hours ago. Just needed to work out a little frustration on this virtual punching bag. In the end, everyone found a way to still do what was practical and find ways to rework things so that "face" was saved. But, through this process I'm completely drained and, unfortunately, am far, far away from ever thinking of extending similar offers to anyone.

When I was in grade school I worked at "Our Daily Bread", a soup kitchen in Baltimore. I would spend hours there on the weekend... banging out some tunes on the piano, serving food, and generally hanging out. Coincidentally, every summer my father would take me and some neighborhood friends to an amusement park.. usually Hershey Park or Kings Dominion. While it was great fun for us, it was also an excuse for him to fly somewhere. So, on a few occasions, he would stuff us all in his Beechcraft Bonanza and we would skip over to the airport nearest the amusement park and spend the day. Was that the most efficient way to do things? heck no. Did it give him the excuse he needed to fly? Absolutely.

These two stories came together as one day I was talking to a boy my age who both worked at, and ate in, the soup kitchen. We were friends and he was a big part of why I went down there so much during the summer. As I was talking about the approaching amusement park trip he would get very excited -- having not been to one himself. There was, clearly, only one thing to do: he was to come with us when we went that next month.

So, coming home that day, I announced to my dad that another friend would be coming along. Dad, of course, said fine... there was room for one more in the plane. That began, of course, the saga. That next Saturday problems arose. My friend was told he couldn't go because of the cost. My dad said he would pay for everything. My friend's parents protested that they didn't know who we were. My dad noted he used to be a public figure and wasn't about to go on a kidnapping rampage. When they found out a plane was involved things got worse. It all culminated in my friend's father calling my father and demanding that my dad drive to his house and show him a copy of his pilot's license.

Well, my dad had a limit, and that was it. And I'll never forget it when my friend knew he wasn't going to go. After that summer I didn't volunteer at the soup kitchen again. I'm sure my friend turned out OK and such is the nature of grade-school summer friendships, be they made in summer camps or soup kitchens. But I'll never forget how disappointed he was to not be going, and how silly it seemed to us that there was no real reason he couldn't go. Just pride, really. Pride from a pair of parents who, seemingly, would rather their child only had good experiences that they provided.

I never had a chance to tell me father how proud I was of him for how much he put up with that whole fiasco, and how generous he was in his offers. I also never got a chance to let him know that I have come to understand his frustration. I've had a few "come over and show my your pilot's license" moments in my life.

There is a line between helper and doormat. IN fact, I think that's been one of the defining realizations that has come from being a parent. For my little girl I am a doormat. A complete and total doormat. We do whatever we can for her needs -- adjust sleep schedules, keep her ingrained with her extended family, watch her food variety, tape cut up pool noodles over all of our tables, and anything else to make her 18 month existence as pleasant as possible (including a healthy dose of what NO means to try and ward off a rampaging 2 year old). And of course, she pays us back with unconditional love. When she falls and hurts herself, she runs to mommy and daddy. When she is tired and wants to go to bed, or when she wakes up with a nightmare, or when she is proud of some new "dance move", it's right to mommy and daddy. When I walk in the door from work and she runs through the house screaming like a mad woman and then demands that I pick her up and carry her around.... that makes everything we do worthwhile.

Those are the relationships that deserve the diligence. Outside of our children, how rare they are!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Glass Ceiling

one of my favorite birthday cards, gifted to me when I turned 16, depicted a cartoon spaceship, with a cartoon astronaut inside, pushing into, and being limited by, a bluish fabric rendition of "the sky". Across the top of the card was written "The Sky's The Limit". A though bubble from the astronaut read, simply, "Drat".

What I loved so much about that card was how it embodied my approach to life -- yes, even at 16. What such approach? Do the best that you can -- aim for perfect and be happy with what you achieve. That gets called pride alot, but it isn't. I push myself hard but most of the time it's because I've always felt the need to "catch up". When someone does something not as good as I do, I don't think "ha! I do this better", I think "wow, if I can do this then anybody can do this.".

I've been accused over the years of being preachy, of being elitist, of being proud, judgmental, phony. You name it and some cretin somewhere has thought it. What they don't get, in their own judgments of me, is that my actions aren't about them. The long e-mails, the sometimes unsolicited offers of advise.... Why? To what end and for what point? Quite simple, really: to have done less meant to have given up on something, or to have let something go unsaid which might have been interesting or helpful. To have done less is, to me, to have committed the sin of omission.

I refuse to believe that refusing to submit to the bystander effect is synonymous with arrogance.

I'm beginning to wonder if committing the sin of omission is worth it just to avoid backlashes. Case in point, most recently I tried to do what I thought was a good deed. To properly sanitize the story, the offer was first politely and then very impolitely refused. Why? I cannot fathom. Were the situations reversed, I'd accept such a thing in an instant.

But, too often people don't make decisions based on practicality, they make decisions based on what makes them feel important. People have their glass ceilings -- those limits you can't see until you've bumped up against them. I'm sure I have mine, but this is at least the third time in a month that I've bumped up against someone else's.

And, I suppose, in part there is a fear -- my own glass ceiling -- that while I really do try and bend over backwards for others I see these moments as an omen that others just won't bend over backwards for me. You see, the biggest way that Karma can be a bitch is if it doesn't exist at all...

So, face pressed firmly up against a few glass ceilings, what on earth is one to do? Treat life as a zero-sum game? Take my marbles and go play somewhere else? Walk away from that particular train wreck? Go banging on the glass?

For now, I suppose a rambling blog entry will just have to suffice, followed by some reflection on just where my place is in some other people's worlds. If I'm to be taught that no good deed goes unpunished then I imagine I'll have a sharp learning curve ahead.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

About Face(book)

For years my on-line presence had been this little vanity press... a place to talk about my attempts at home improvement, insights into myself, the people around me, and life in general. Occasionally I'd be blessed enough to be mauled by a barber or fall asleep in class or choke on horseradish and I'd have some instant humorous banter to pass along.

And I would go on and on wondering just who this virtual publication was for... me, future me, posterity, children, parents, readers. Because, as any reader of this space knows, my blog evolved into a purpose -- a circuitous way to write everyday letters to some special people in my life who aren't here anymore. And, of course, I thought that's what a blog should be, and when I couldn't do that here anymore, this place became more than a little stuffy. Overbearing, really.

And then my friends pulled me into facebook. Yeah... go figure. Facebook.. Den of six degrees of freedom. Death by a thousand application requests. But, useful to see how a few dozen people are doing every few hours. So I put a few pictures up, wrote on some walls, reconnected with a few people from college...

And that's when I had my about face (book). I had another avenue for on-line self-expression, one unencumbered with a weighty past. I'd thought long and hard about starting a new blog... picking up shop and hanging my pseudo-anonymous literary shingle on some other ethereal block. Maybe I just needed a long break because I'm typing this blog for the first time in a long time without feeling melancholy.

So, I suppose, it's true. Time can heal lots of things, even the fear of moving on.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Our Inheritance

Any of us who have lived long enough know, directly, about wills and inheritances and such things. Certainly, at a surface level, these things distribute wealth or, sometimes, debt. Usually this includes some furniture, a knick-knack, and -- in fairness -- birthday and Christmas presents gifted to the Loved One throughout the years. It is all very necessary because these knickknacks will far outlast us. Indeed, as I type this blog entry I wonder what future generation might be lit by the twice-inherited pineapple-esque lamp next to me.

There is no mistaking the need to guide the distribution of artifacts and past a certain age we all do it, whether in writing or not. For years I have known that the piano was "mine", a testament to the fact that I stuck with piano lessons a few years longer than my siblings or,p erhaps, it was because I have friends who know how to tickle those particular ivories. A favorite ring, a hope chest, clocks... all verbally willed in bits and pieces over the years. I was told once the story of an aunt, an elderly aunt because this desire does not seem to kick in until later in life, who would physically gift those things from her home that she wanted her visitors to inherit. I imagine when it is time for me to scratch that particular itch I will whip out my trusty label maker and sneak people's names onto my personal "big ticket" items. There is no right or wrong to it -- we must all find a way to distribute our artifacts.

And, of course, this is the surface of it -- our lives extend beyond a reversed garage sale. Since we accumulate more than artifacts, if we are particularly observant, we understand that these must also be distributed. A hostess and matriarch, my mother had much to pass on in this area.

One particular, ethereal inheritance for me was Thanksgiving. My family has two major holiday celebrations: Christmas and Thanksgiving. New Years Day, for a while, was a contender, but it peaked and faded years ago. The bestowal of Thanksgiving was in no document, no will, no "I bequeath to Ed and Linda the Thanksgiving Day" scribbled down anywhere. Instead it was one of those verbal bequests, when my mother -- too ill to cook the Thanksgiving meal and too saddened to see it made in her kitchen without her -- decided that we would, instead, have the meal at my house. Keeping our 2 month old baby out of the weather and having two kitchens in the house sweetened the deal considerably. During that sweet and sour meal a simple comment mentioning "a good transition" and "passing a torch" were made.

And so, this past Thanksgiving was overseen by a photo of that previous Thanksgiving meal, and a cardboard smiley face as old as I, whose black and yellow visage has smiled down upon many transitions and is, itself, an inheritance of sorts.

More than artifacts, these inheritances are the spirits and the lives we had so cherished and their gifting, as always, gives us meaning. I think, too often, people forget to bequeath these ethereals or others, perhaps, refuse to receive them. The fear stemming from such an omission being that individuals will drift apart and sacrifice group and familial identity in the name of day-to-day convenience.

So, we have for the time being happily inherited Thanksgiving and it has certainly staved off day-to-day convenience, but it has also kept us, for another year, together in familial community. There is nothing more satisfying, to me, than to sit at a table surrounded by as many family members as possible... making the feast a sign of abundance that goes well beyond the food.