Time travel

My desk is a barometer of my mental health.  Wait.  That seems very dramatic and–if you saw my desk–describes a brain that is unraveling like a sweater with a snag that you can’t resist pulling, even though the hole grows with each tug.

The truth is that I feel too busy and I haven’t read a novel in a month.  I’m like a lung that expels but can’t expand.  I finished reading The Sense of an Ending a month ago and have felt distracted and unable to concentrate ever since.

When I can’t read, I know I am worried.

About a month ago, I received some news that knocked me off-kilter.  I would explain the details but since this blog comes up as the number one result when you do a Google search on my name, I can’t.  (Email me if you wonder, but it’s not that big of a deal.)

But my desk is something of a disaster.  It’s littered with empty Diet Coke cans (I know, it’s bad for me), three shades of nail polish,  coupons, folded laundry, mail, recently acquired books, empty bowls, seven hair bands, a Q-tip . . . even a squeeze bottle of “mouse attractant gel” which did the trick a few months back when I was trying to catch a mouse in my garage, although as I’m proof-reading this I remember now that the mouse didn’t take the bait until I switched to peanut butter.

There’s more, much more and tomorrow, I’ll have to purge and sort and clean and get this mess under control because a girl can only take so much.

(I also see pliers, an battery-powered screwdriver, a candle, someone’s belt, magazines . . . it’s just ridiculous.)

I decorated the house for Halloween on Saturday.

Today, my daughter had her very last orthodontic “retainer check.”

My mom moved in a few weeks ago.

We’re having an October heat wave which I do not appreciate.  At all.  Ninety-something degrees in October is wrong.  It looks like autumn but it feels like the surface of the sun or the backyard of hell.  Something hot.

Thursday I’m having dental work done which I dread.

Today, I did not reach my goal of walking 10,000 steps . . . I was in my car driving for almost two and a half hours this afternoon (driving to pick up my daughter from school, driving her home, driving her back to the orthodontist, then driving home . . . that took over two hours!).  I just thought to click my Fitbit app and see I walked 9,632 steps.  Boo.  I forgot to check earlier while I was working so I could walk around the house for awhile.


Oh, so I called this post “time travel” because I was going to talk about three instances of the impossibility of time travel but I remembered incident one and incident three but not incident two so . . . I rambled instead.

Incident One:

My mom asked me if there was a way she could fast forward through commercials using the DVR.  I explained that she could if the program was recorded.  But she kept asking about skipping commercials in shows she’s watching.  Finally, I had to explain that she HAD to watch commercials when a show is “live” because . . . we can’t time travel into the future to skip over what will happen in real time.  Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if we could time travel right past the sticky parts of life, the dumb, boring, painful stuff we don’t want to sit through?

Incident Two:

I’ll let you know if I ever remember.  Ha.

Incident Three:

For fun, sometimes I work as a “mystery shopper.”  The scheduler contacted me earlier today and told me that a particular team of shoppers won’t officially start working on a project until November, but if I’d like, she’d set me up with an immediate shop for September.

I told her I’d be happy to accept the assignment except that I would be unable to time travel (back to September) to do so. Hardy har har.

If I could time travel backwards, I am telling you right now that I would have become a Nurse or a Teacher or something that I could capitalize and use to introduce myself and rely upon to earn money.  I have a career now but I just fell into it.  It’s hard to explain to people and sometimes, I wonder what’s next and unfortunately (or fortunately), I cannot time travel into the future for a sneak peek and that, my friends, makes it difficult to concentrate long enough to read one of the dozens of books piled on my shelves.  (These stacks of books are double-parked in front of the books that are organized by author.)

I want to read.  I want to read all day, every day but instead, I hike an hour on the rattlesnake-infested trails near my house (I never see the rattlesnakes but I know they are there), I drive my son to college, I work five hours, I clean the kitchen and think up something to make for dinner (the very bane of my existence), I drive an hour round-trip to pick up my daughter from school, I cook dinner and then after all of that . . . I think that maybe I’ll read something but instead, I scroll through my phone, spend some time worrying, hang out with my husband and then try to nap before working my second shift of the day.

And then it starts all over again.  Summer turns into October which still feels like summer and it’ll be Christmas before we know it (Target tells me so) and then the year will be new and I will be old(er) and so it goes.

Time travels.




Time travel

Where did all the footprints go?


My son left his backpack at church Thursday night, so Friday morning (yesterday!) my husband went to church/work early, brought the backpack home and picked up my son and delivered him to his campus.

I slept in.

But then at the last minute, I decided to hike for 30 minutes before work.

At 2:30 PM I finished working and drove back to the trails to walk another 45 minutes.  That’s when I saw the footprints and mountain bike tread patterns had been erased by rainfall.  Only a couple sets of prints remained.

The thing is, I was at home from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM.  The trail is just three minutes from my house.  I never heard or saw any rainfall.  Did a cloudburst occur only over the trail system?  This is a mystery.


My sleep lately has been terrible.  I’ve been averaging 7 hours of sleep a night, but that includes couple of hour-long naps.  Twice I’ve slept only six hours a night this past week.

So I was looking forward to catching up on sleep this morning.  For that reason, a text message jangled me awake at 7:52 AM.  That message was followed up by at least three more messages before 8:30 AM.

I did go back to sleep, but . . . yawn.  Why can’t I sleep more than three hours at a stretch?  (I track my sleep with a Fitbit and literally, I never sleep more than three solid hours at a time.)

I blame old age and those bright-eyed early Saturday morning people who don’t work until midnight on Fridays.



Where did all the footprints go?

Fifteen things

My youngest child turned 15 today.  So here are fifteen things to commemorate being in labor and giving birth (it’s all about me after all):

  1.  On Friday, I took my daughter and her friend (who happen to share a birthday, though the friend is a year younger) to Disneyland. We stayed overnight in a hotel which made the experience more fun and special.
  2. On Friday, as I was trying to leave my house, the guy who mows my lawn let me know that they accidentally broke a window.
  3. The “window” was actually the outer pane on my sliding glass door.  It’s shattered into a million pieces, give or take a hundred thousand.
  4. One of my sons appears to have flea bites on his ankles.
  5. It’s always something, isn’t it?
  6. The summer weather has intensified and in response, my neglected air conditioner seems to have given up though it still seems to be faintly blowing cold air.
  7. Why do things break on the weekends?
  8. I saw “Dunkirk” today.  I was mostly confused, wondering “who is that guy?  is that guy also that other guy?”
  9. Last week we took the train to downtown San Diego and watched (sort of) a major league baseball game from box seats.  (Is that what they are called?)
  10. I am surrounded by stacks of books but cannot decide what to read next.
  11. My 19-year old son is recovering from a strange bout of vertigo that affected him for over a week
  12. As I mentioned, it’s always something, right?
  13. My husband’s iPhone battery died so he paid $85 to have it replace.
  14. The next day, he dropped it and shattered the screen–for the first time ever.
  15. Today, he paid $100 to replace the screen.  See #5 and #12.


Fifteen things

Terrible, horrible no-good, very bad mom

It has recently come to my attention that I am a terrible mother.  Listen, I had suspected this for awhile.  (Insert lengthy list of examples of my ineptitude here, including but not limited to the fact that my kids won’t wear matching socks or sleep under flat sheets or read for pleasure.)

I have spent twenty-four years urging my kids to be more like me only to discover that not only do they not want to be like me, they don’t even like me.

(Not all my kids.  Some of my kids.  And not all the time.  Some of the time.  But still.)

That hurts.  Also?  They can’t talk to me because . . .  I am scary?  Something like that.  I am impatient and I don’t listen and I have no idea what it’s like to be them.  In fact, one of my children reportedly described to a friend how unsupportive I am and that friend expressed horror that my poor child has to live with a mom who does not support said child.)

(I mentally tick off the myriad ways my entire life has been devoted to taking care of and supporting these kids, starting with diaper changing and ending with the dinner I just prepared tonight.  But what do I know?)

I don’t want to defend myself because what’s the point?  I know I am imperfect.

I am constantly accused of thinking I am perfect which always makes me roll my eyes and wonder if ANYONE has been paying attention to me my whole life because if they really understood me, they would know that I am painfully aware of my shortcomings.  I know I am not perfect.  I have never claimed to be perfect.  I have aspired to perfection but fallen flat on my face.

The irony is that I have spent a life in doomed pursuit of perfection and I literally call myself a “reformed perfectionist” because I have found the effort to be an impossible dream, a crushing, depressing impossibility.  And yet my whole life, people have said, “You think you’re perfect!” and sometimes, they dub me, “Little Miss Perfect.”  What is happening here?

Obviously, I cannot paint this picture in vibrant colors because of privacy concerns.  Of course there was an impetus, a lit fuse smoldering until the whole thing explodes. Of course.  If we were having a cup of tea, I’d tell your face all about it.

The details are the most interesting part of any tale of woe, but I can’t use identifying information here. I need to protect me and I need to protect them (even though I am so unsupportive and such an awful mother).

I was thinking tonight about my own adolescence.  My parents–including step-parents–did not care one whit about my precious little feelings.  I had bad days, bad weeks, bad months and even a super depressing ninth grade year, but no one once asked me why I was crying or why I looked sad or if anything was wrong.  (Well, there was a church lady who hired me to babysit and taught me to play three guitar chords and showed me that some families danced around their living rooms.  She saw me.)

I carried my heartache in a brown paper bag.  I would have liked to foist it on someone else, but it was mine to carry.  And so carry it I did.

Now I have a bigger bag and I seem to carry everyone’s heartache in it.  Is this what it means to be a mom?  I lug around the angst, the disappointment, the confusion, the sadness, the rage, the fear in this giant bag.  I carry it, worrying, stumbling under the weight of it.  It keeps me awake at night and buzzes around in my head during the daylight.

But I am coming to realize that I shouldn’t be carrying around my kids’ feelings.  They need to hold those emotions in their own hands. My part is to listen without interrogating. (That is SO hard.  I have questions, so many, many questions.)

And then, I need to back out of the room without agreeing to hold their (mental) stuff.

A child’s sad feeling is sad, but it’s not mine to carry.  Feelings are fleeting.  Feel them and then move on.

As I have told them for years, you are responsible only for yourself.  (I am responsible ultimately only for myself.)  You can’t change anyone but yourself.  (I cannot change my kids.) I cannot fix everything.  (Although I can replace a doorknob, in case you wondered.  I am handy.)

I am beginning to grasp the truth that we have only this moment.  Tomorrow has its own set of troubles that we can’t do anything about today anyway.  Yesterday already happened and we can’t change anything in the past.

Sometimes, I reassure myself that “right now, everything is fine.”  The kids are in their beds.  The house is locked tight.  My husband is snoring in our room which hums with the white noise of three fans.  The cat is curled somewhere in the dark and the dog is sprawled across the hallway, guarding me from intruders.

Whatever happens tomorrow will happen.  But for now, right now, everything’s okay.

(Even if I am a bad mom.)

Feelings will come and go.  How you respond to your situation is what matters.  You can choose your attitude and reaction.  (These are all the things I tell my kids who think I have no idea what I’m talking about.  I want to force them to read Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  But they don’t want my advice or help.)


Actually, one of my kids, a 19-year old, texted me earlier this week and described a situation he was having with his health.  And then he said those magic words every mother dreams of:  “What should I do?”



Terrible, horrible no-good, very bad mom

Still July

(I was just trying to watch a little television before going to sleep.)

On Saturday, I’m flying on a jet plane to Washington State with my daughter and her friend.  We’re staying with friends in two different towns, determined to vacation our hearts out.  My daughter in particular loves Bellingham and Lake Whatcom, so we’ll be hanging out at the lake a lot.  When we aren’t doing that, we’ll be doing the tourist thing in Seattle and shopping at Value Village as much as possible.  (That thrift store does not exist in our area and I miss it so much, as silly as that sounds.)

I’m working on getting all the laundry done and noting on a list things I need to buy before I go so the household continues to run without my daily attention.  So far, I have written down dog food and laundry detergent.  I’ve already cleaned out the fridge and tidied up my desk.

Of course, the most important thing is that I get out my Christmas cards before July ends.  Wish me Christmas luck and send an elf to help.

School starts up again in about three weeks and my youngest child will be starting high school.  You know that feeling when you’re in a roller-coaster and it’s clicking ever so slowly to the peak and you can feel the grinding of the wheels and you wonder if maybe it’ll roll backwards but then you crest the top before you speed down and scream?

I’m at the clicking slowly part of mothering another high school kid.  I know that in a second we’ll be flying down the other side, whirling and screeching and getting our necks yanked sideways and maybe bumping our heads but then it will be over and we’ll breathe and maybe want to do it again.

But I am really getting too old to ride the roller coasters more than once.  You may or may not relate.

Let’s just say that having a baby at age 38 is a lot more fun than having a 14-year old at age 52.  Ha.



Still July

Christmas in July

My eighty-something in-laws are due to arrive at about noon tomorrow.  They are staying for a couple of nights before they drive home to Texas in their pick-up truck.  I still need to clean out my fridge, run to Costco to buy some food (primarily, a roast for Sunday dinner), wash the sheets and remake the bed, and clean up the kitchen.

I’m procrastinating by staying awake which is dumb.

Speaking of procrastination, I have decided to send out my tardy Christmas cards/letters now that it’s July.  I was going to send them in May or June but then someone pointed out that Christmas in July would be fun (and funny) and I agreed.  So, wish me luck.  I have thirty days to get them in the mail.

With that, I better sign off and get myself to bed.  It’s almost 2 AM and I need to be on the dusty trails, walking for an hour, in about seven hours.

Christmas in July

This will be a great blog post!

For the past couple of days, I’ve been mulling over some ideas for this blog.  Oh yes, I thought to myself.  That will be a great blog post.  (Okay, a “good” blog post.  Or whatever.  A blog post.)

But now?  I have absolutely no idea what I thought I might write about.

I’ve just finished working.  I’ve washed half the dirty dishes in my kitchen sink.  (It’s summer break and my house has filled with college kids who randomly prepare food in my kitchen and leave their dirty dishes for our maid to clean.)  (Note:  We have no maid.) Basically, I’m washing 35 drinking glasses and mugs a day as if I’m a dishwasher making minimum wage at a diner.

Anyway, so I’ve finished working.  I’m done with everything that must be done before I sleep and I thought I’d write something but my brain has melted like a Hershey’s bar left all day in a summer car.

My husband is gone for a couple of weeks.  He drove ten long hours to Oregon to work on his doctorate.  My mom had been here for six weeks, but she’s also gone, back home to Washington.  I’m here, enjoying the luxury of an out-of-kilter schedule, fitting in my 10,000 steps however I can, usually out on a dusty trail.  Working, reading, cooking as little as possible.

Last week, I accidentally climbed to the top of a hill that was created by a volcano, or so the sign said.  I planned to walk along a paved trail, then decided to go around a curve and then spontaneously thought maybe I’d go up a steep path just to see where it went.  Once there, I figured I was halfway to the top, so I meandered and climbed up.

The big problem with going up a hill is the going-down part.  I couldn’t tell exactly where the official path was (I wanted to go down the back side instead of the way I came) and I ended up picking my way down a very steep, rocky path, terrified I’d slip and break a wrist or–even worse–my phone.  I thought about stepping on rattlesnakes and about twisting an ankle and about how silly I must look, gingerly stepping from stone to stone on that washed out path.

I walked about 90 minutes that morning and hit 10,000 steps before I even got back to my car, before noon.


My daughter graduated from eighth grade last Wednesday.  What a relief.  Goodbye, Middle School.  See you never.

On Thursday, I played the piano for a church lady brunch.  I accompanied a singer who had earlier provided me with music.  Unfortunately, the sheet of music for one of the songs was written to conserve space, so first you took Ending One, then the second time, you took Ending Two, but then you went back to the middle and then you finished and went to the beginning and took Ending Three but not before going here, there and everywhere.

I got lost.  I couldn’t figure out where the singer was and I just kept guessing at the chords because I had no idea what I was doing.  I do NOT play by ear.  After the first verse and chorus I was absolutely, one hundred percent lost.  It was mortifying and yet hilarious and I just kept playing, guessing at chords, hoping against hope that the singer would notice my distress and stop the song already!  She sang and sang and sang.

I don’t even know why I agreed to play the piano for that thing.  I’m sure someone else more competent could have done it.

Well, with any luck, tomorrow I’ll think of that amazing topic that eludes me tonight.  But don’t count on it.


This will be a great blog post!