Snow Day, Part 2!

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The kids left one part of the railing untouched just to see how high the snow would go. It fell shortly after I took this picture. Guess it’s safe to put the camp chair in the garage.

Well, for the first time ever, as far as we can tell, our school system has done two snow days in a row. Today the wind is only blowing at 16 miles per hour, instead of yesterdays 23 and the snow has stopped falling, for now. The school district announced yesterday afternoon that school would be cancelled today to give the city and county time to keep the emergency routes open and then be able to dig out residential streets today.

At last measurement, we received 18 inches of snow.

18 INCHES!

We had a long glorious Indian Summer that lasted until this week. We’d not even broken out the winter gear, very unusual for a place that is usually trick or treating in the snow.

Well, winter has arrived, heralded by the hoots and hollers of kids and the waxing of sled rails, (Do kids still do that? All we have are plastic toboggans) let the hot cocoa, the cozy nights with popcorn and movies, frosted cheeks and cold noses, warm socks and a big, heavy, down duvet begin.

Happy Winter!

 

Three Deaths, Three Shards of Grief — The Ochre Muse

A beautiful, thoughtful handling of the complexities of death.

 

 

Lionel taught me what it meant to be alive in a dead body. He also taught me how to write and how to love. Most of all, he taught be how to grieve. After his death, I put down my pen and lived the kind of dead life he’d railed against for all 76 of […]

via Three Deaths, Three Shards of Grief — The Ochre Muse

What are you Avoiding?

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So, here we all sit on a Sunday night, staring at our screens. My avoiding must be done for today because I see words appearing underneath a picture of a woman with more sense than me.

On any given day these are the things I am avoiding, not in any particular order, just the way they showed up in my head for the more psychologically inclined of you.

  • writing
  • housework
  • exercise
  • thinking about money
  • paying bills
  • Christmas
  • looking stupid
  • laundry
  • conversation with my kids
  • living in the moment
  • disconnected sex
  • cat litter boxes
  • the Principal
  • sadness
  • shopping

I won’t say it’s a definitive list but I’m starting to feel hungry, a sure sign I’m getting uncomfortable with our level of intimacy. I’ve never sat in front of my computer, watching Hell’s Kitchen and thought to myself (a woman who abhors cooking, and thinks Gordon Ramsey is a bit of an arrogant asshole) Self, what are you avoiding?

This fascinating article came across the screen of my phone this week.

The Face Everything Technique: Why Avoiding Difficulties Doesn’t Work

I’ll wait here while you read it. It’s truly, very worth the effort.

Oh, you’re back! See, now don’t you feel better, he called you amazing in the first sentence! Amazing, I tell you, yes, at avoiding things but still…, right?

What struck me is how well he knew me, I think I’ve tried all of those things just to be able to forget what needed to be done. Everyday this week I’ve sat down at the computer and booted up a news site or mindlessly started watching T.V. shows I don’t care about, stopped for a moment, looked around, and thought, what am I avoiding.

More often than not, I’m avoiding expending energy. I’m tired and I want to be entertained. However, a few times this week I’ve caught myself avoiding something else entirely and it’s left me thinking.

Friday night I sat down at my computer and flipped on a show, then I thought, What am I avoiding? The nerve-racking part, I answered myself, You’re putting off the re-branding of your novel so you don’t have to face more dismal sales in another category.

 

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Well, self, that hurt a little. Ouch. It’s also astoundingly accurate. Now what?

I went back to the article, looking for instructions on how to feel better about myself. Instead I found that, oops, I skipped number one, oh well. Okay, number two, check, I asked the blasted question. Here we go, number three, Now face it. Crap. Is number four any better? Take Appropriate Action. Well, shit, that sucks.

I’ll just skip to the best part, after I realized how much that little exercise sucked.

I rewrote the preface of my novel, tweaked it here and there to better suit the humorous, life-like tone of the rest of the book. Much more needs to be done, but damn it, after almost a month of avoiding starting the task, I’m on my way.

The Crying Years

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I mean sixth and seventh grade.

I remember when my son hit sixth grade and suddenly every time I told him no he teared up. At one point I was so exasperated and horrified I told my husband if the boy kept this up he wouldn’t live to see 13. As luck would have it he snapped out of it around age 13 and settled into moody silences. I like moody silence, I can write in moody silence. Just please don’t cry when I tell you the garbage has to go out before the TV goes on.

A few years have passed and Saturday in Target I found myself face to face with my nearly 12-year-old daughter’s tear filled eyes.

“I’m trying not to break down!” she gulps, turning away, her fingers nimbly finding that curl of hair by her cheek she likes to chew on when she’s stressed.

I look down at the Pikachu onesie pajama in my hands. I’ve just told her I’m not buying her $40 footy pajamas when I can buy her a footless onesie for $16. I have a sinus headache, and a 9-year-old trying to pick a birthday present for a party we are on the way to.

I stomp back over to the rack and hang up the pj’s.

“Mom!” The 12-year-old wails, “I’ll take the Chewbacca without the feet!”

“No. Just no! We’re leaving, we’ll come back tomorrow when we both feel better and I have more time.”

I stomp through the checkout line and back out to the car. Before we’ve escaped the parking lot I’ve barked at the 9-year-old twice to get her gift put together, and told them NO MUSIC I have a headache!

It takes us seventeen minutes to get to the restaurant. In almost total silence. The 9-year-old sings to herself most of the way because she is what she is. I send the older sister in to make sure 9 gets to the right group and to find out when I should be back to pick her up. Then we are both in the car again. I stop at Wendy’s drive through for dinner and they take forever and give me the wrong drink. Hell no, I’m not going back! And what do you need footie pajamas for anyway? You have to wear shoes at school it’s Health and Safety rules!

“Damn it! They only put in one straw, you’ll have to wait till we get home for your Sprite.” I curse.

“Nice, mom.”

Silence reigns for another twelve minutes.

“I want the Chewbacca onesie.”

“It doesn’t have feet.” I say. After approximately twelve ounces of Dr.Pepper, I’m feeling a little better.

“I know.”

“They gave me Dr. Pepper instead of Coke Zero.” I tell her.

“I’ll drink it.”

“No, I’m good. I’ll get the pajamas tomorrow when I go grocery shopping.” I resist the urge to cave and offer to buy the ridiculously expensive pair.

“Thanks mom. Can we have tunes now or do you need more sugar?”

Shaking my head, “Turd, you can have tunes, but don’t tell your sister what a marshmallow I am.”

“I won’t.”

She flips the radio on and Heathens by Twenty One Pilots banishes the silence. We both reach to turn it up.

As the song ends and we pull into the garage I tell her, “You held it together really well in the store. I know it’s tough.”

“Thanks for not telling me to quit crying, it makes it worse.”

“I know. I remember that part.”

“Don’t forget to get me my onesie tomorrow.”

“I won’t.”

She smiles as we head to the door, “Guess what?”

“Chicken butt?”

“Moooom.”

“Fine, what?”

“Mr. J said we didn’t even have to brush our hair Monday morning. Just roll out of bed and come to school. YEAH!”

Eyeing her curly mop of hair, I picture her in her Chewbacca onesie with furry hood. She’s going to look like a scrawny ewok. An adorable scrawny ass ewok.

 

 

Slowly Suffocating Imagination

I spend over an hour every weekday walking around a playground at an elementary school. In that time, four hundred kids, from ages 5 to 11 run the grounds.

Our playground is outfitted with all the usual equipment, swings, slides, monkey bars, climbing apparatus, sand to dig in, a concrete basketball court with six hoops, four square and even a kickball corner, a huge grassy field with four separate soccer goals and room to spare. We have boxes filled with soccer, basket and kick balls, and stacks of hula hoops.

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And so today, as I blew my whistle for the fifth time in one minute and walked up to the second graders, my exasperation got the better of me. “Are you guys kidding me?” I asked in a not terribly friendly voice, “How many times have I talked to you about this?”

The boys looked uncomfortable and shrugged, wondering how much trouble they were in.

“What are our playground rules?” I asked.

“No tackling.” They all mutter looking at each other.

One brave soul starts to say, “Well, we were playing this game-.”

“Nope,” I said, not even letting him finish. “Go find something else to do,” I ordered and they scurried off relieved it wasn’t worse.

As they ran off, I looked around, searching for the next thing about to go wrong. I found myself catalouging everything I’d blown the whistle for today.

Standing up on the tire swing

Sitting on the highest top pole of the monkey bars

Tackling

Pretending to fight with a sword

Pretending to shoot

Pretending to be a zombie (our zombies actually bite so it’s been a problem)

To get kids out from under the trees (we can’t see them well and it’s close to the fence)

To stop a girl who ran into a football game of boys and stole their ball

Lifting a huge graveled chunk of blacktop

Playing with a stick

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Some may find this ridiculous but it’s what happens if we don’t do something that makes it ridiculous.

For years, I took my kids to the park after school and shooed them out of the car to play. I would sit and enjoy the silence, reading or talking to my aunt on the phone, while I kept a  casual eye on what the kids were doing. If one of them got hurt or scared, they’d come to the car. My only requirement was that they were in sight and the wide open playgrounds here easily accommodate that. They climbed and hung and slid and got dirty with abandon. Safe with mom, but safely independent.

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It is this memory that makes me sad at the number of times I say no on the school playground on any given day. Sad that the only way they can use the equipment is in the appropriate manner, sad that there are specific ways they must play and interact with each other. As a worker in a school, I get the why, I get the responsibility, I get the liability. It just doesn’t make me any happier. After it’s all said and done, safe and appropriate is no way to inspire a curious mind.

 

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Slave to Perfection & The Dangers of Comparing Ourselves with Others — Kristen Lamb’s Blog

I needed the reminder today, Thanks Kristen!

 

Last night I watched the movie Bad Moms and it was a great movie. Brain candy. A lot of laughs. Nothing too deep…well, maybe a little deep. One of the areas the movie explored is how in this age we are all killing ourselves to reach some unreachable Photoshopped standard. The New Yorker even did […]

via Slave to Perfection & The Dangers of Comparing Ourselves with Others — Kristen Lamb’s Blog

How to be Wicked: A Lesson in Three Parts — Lady Smut

I am a particular fan of Alexa Day and the brazen truth that litters her wonderful writing. This post struck a chord with me, I loved her lesson in wickedness and I think you will too.

 

 

 

The Wicked Theme Week continues as we celebrate release day for Madeline Iva’s Wicked Apprentice! Did you already preorder yours? Is it time for you to order right now, before you read another word? Go handle your business. By Alexa Day I often feel like the representative for the wicked lifestyle in my circle of […]

via How to be Wicked: A Lesson in Three Parts — Lady Smut