So far, so good

I finished The Beach yesterday. I read it in only a few days. I purchased it at a garage sale and I was thrilled because I’d seen bits of the movie (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) on the Oxygen Network, but never the beginning. So I was curious. And the price was right.

I didn’t expect to be pulled into the story so quickly and completely, but I did. I have quite a few books waiting to be read that are author’s “first novels.” This was Alex Garland’s first novel, and the book I read prior to this (Ellen Foster) was also a “first novel.”

And the book I’m reading now, A Severe Mercy is also a “first” book, though it’s not fiction. But every once in awhile, you have to lift your head out of the pool of fiction and read something else.

Then, I’ll dive back into a novel, probably another “first novel,” in keeping with my spontaneous theme.

So far, so good

My View of the News: Homemaking

I saw Terry Martin Hekker on Katie Couric’s show the other morning, talking about how her idyllic years of homemaking came to an abupt end when her husband of forty years divorced her.

Terry Martin Hekker, the author of this article which was published in the New York Times (you can get a trial membership if you want to read it–or email me and I’ll send you a copy of it,) wrote a different Op-Ed piece years ago for the NYT which later morphed into a book extolling the virtues of being a homemaker. And in her current piece, she doesn’t exactly say she regrets it–she said she’d marry the same man and have the same children, but that she’d go to school when her youngest did and earn a degree so she could earn a living. Because, you never know, after all. She says if she wrote another book, it would be titled, Diregard First Book.

She essentially says she wasted time working for community and charitable organizations when she ought to have been looking out for herself. (Really, if you haven’t clicked away yet, go ahead and read that article.)

Here’s what I wonder:

1) Should all women assume their marriages will end in divorce sooner or later? And if so, will that becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy?

2) If we, as women, refused to date, have relationships with and marry divorced men, would those men honor their vows? Or will this constant partner-switching continually worsen?

3) Did the so-called “Sexual Revolution,” (and the birth control pill) directly increase the divorce rate?

4) Does this woman’s story mean that homemaking in and of itself is a pointless waste of a life?

5) What kind of a loser man leaves his wife of forty years in such a predicament? And what kind of sleazebag woman would marry him?

(Update: Almost instantly, I regretted my questions in number 5–and thought question number 3 was kind of out of place–but I will leave them so the comments make sense. It is clearly wrong of me to call people names, even names which are crossed out as a sort of lame joke. I have far too much personal experience with this topic to be rational and impartial and I realize my questions are over-generalizations and insulting to my readers who also have personal experiences–some more painful than my own, to be sure.

So, I apologize, but I leave this post as originally written–in haste, while babies were rolling around my floor and with particular people in mind. I have appreciated the responses so far and thank you, my diverse band of readers, for offering your perspectives. When I open my brain and dump out the contents, I ought to use a strainer to get the lumps out before hitting “Publish Post.”)

My View of the News: Homemaking

A Calm View From the Leaky Boat

The burden of inadequacy is a heavy one, an awkward load to carry, especially when you are trying to hurry along at a normal pace, keeping up with the flow of traffic. I feel like I might have an invisible seventy pound backpack of ineptness perched on top of my head and my neck just isn’t that strong, but I don’t want anyone to notice that I’m struggling along.

I was a fervent believer in myself in the early days. I knew I’d be one of those mothers you read about in parenting magazines who is creative and playful and has friends over for coffee while the kids politely play in the other room. I knew it! All I had to do was follow the “Ten Easy Steps . . .” or the “Three Simple Strategies . . . ” and I would get the results I wanted. Perhaps it was my ease with mathematics that made me believe logic would apply to parenting, too.

But the variables foiled me. I didn’t count on my own personal slothfulness. I didn’t know my children would be anchors rather than sails. I thought they would bob along merrily, agreeably, grateful to be along on my own personal journey to perfection. I didn’t count on runny noses and scant cupboard space and the overwhelming mountain of laundry and kids who get their hair wet but don’t use shampoo because it’s just too much trouble.

I miscalculated badly. I’m just not good at being a mom, logistically or emotionally. If I were a photograph, I’d be out of focus. If I were a car, I’d have flat tires. If I were a house, I’d be drafty.

I’m a leaky boat, but for now, I can bail faster than we’re taking on water, so I’m sure we’ll get where we’re going.

But it won’t be pretty. Which is truly disappointing to me. Don’t even try to cheer me up because tomorrow, I’ll be fine when the fog of denial and false cheer rolls back in.

And we’re on Day 22 of the rain.

A Calm View From the Leaky Boat

Most Embarrassing Moment of the Day

I used to sing in church quite often. Since my 3-year old was born, not so much. She is a scaredy-cat and clingy and since my husband is busy on Sunday mornings, I’ve stepped aside.

But today, I led the congregational singing from the piano. And during the offertory, I sang a song.

And here’s the embarrassing part.

I sang a song I composed. A simple song with a simple chord structure, involving a lot of flats. I ran through the fingering before church started. No problems. I don’t have written music for it–well, maybe I do somewhere, but generally, I just play my homemade songs without music or even a chord chart.

So today, when I got to the chorus, I suddenly began to think about my fingering and the chords and then I blanked out and zigged when I should have zagged, hit E-flat when I should have hit B-flat and actually had to sing while my fingers hovered silently over the keyboard for a second.

Second verse, no problem. Then I stumbled on the chorus again.

That’s what I get for thinking while playing.

I might still be blushing.

Most Embarrassing Moment of the Day

Please Do Me A Favor

Won’t you please go over and read my brilliant friend’s blog? You can start with that post. We went to high school together and she was the calm one in math analysis class, figuring problems in her tidy handwriting while I was busy having a coniption fit about something or another.

She also plays the piano better than I can and can tell if a cat has worms by looking at its hindquarters. She hates President Bush, too, and wears Birkenstocks, but I admire her anyway.

So, go. Say hello.

Please Do Me A Favor

About Those People at Albertson’s

At 9 p.m., I went to the store tonight to buy ten pounds of potatoes. My husband gave me a list of his necessary items, too: bottled water, Welch’s grape juice (plastic bottle, not frozen concentrate), peanut M&Ms in snack-size packs, lactose-free milk, Skinny Cow Fudge Bars and Dr. Pepper. You know, items vital to life.

Rain fell as I drove in the dark. Today is our twentieth straight day of rain. Hills are beginning to slide and I doubt we’ll ever be able to remove the inflatable snowman from our front yard because I keep waiting for it to dry out before I store him away.

I wandered the aisles slowly, checking for sale items and calculating mentally whether I could make enough meals this week based on the stuff I have already in the freezer and cupboards. In the cereal aisle, a couple passed me and I kid you not, the cigarette smell met my nose a full ten feet before this couple walked by me. And wouldn’t you know it, they stood directly behind me in line.

The only way anyone could smell more like cigarette smoke would be if they poked cigarettes into their hair and lit it on fire.

They let a barrel-chested older man ahead of them in line because he was only buying a box of sandwich bags. I let him go ahead of me, too. Then, another guy appeared in line behind me and ahead of the Cigarette Couple. He held only a roast, so I said, “Do you want to go ahead of me?” He looked puzzled and then said, “Sure. Thank you!” When he passed me, the odor of beer floated from him and settled into my unruly hair.

So, that’s the reason I smell like I was guzzling beer and smoking cigarettes when in reality, I was grocery shopping. Honest.

p.s. I couldn’t bear to buy the Welch’s grape juice. It was over $4.50 for a 64 ounce bottle. My husband sadly informed me that Juicy Juice is just not the same and I said, “Well, I am incapable of buying a bottle of juice that costs so much.” He’ll have to do his dirty work on his own time.

p.p.s. Do you let people cut in front of you at the grocery store if you have a cart full of groceries? And do you call it a “cart” or a “buggy” or something else entirely?

About Those People at Albertson’s

Untitled Due to Lack of Creativity

Earlier today, I sat at my keyboard with vivid awareness of my cold head. This morning, I didn’t have enough time to thoroughly dry my mop of hair and why not? you ask. Because I woke up at 5:15 a.m. when my husband’s alarm went off. Because I woke up at 6:07 a.m. when the unplugged, yet still functioning, extra alarm clock went off. Because I woke up at 7:18 a.m. from a terrible dream when my daughter woke up. Because my daughter insisted on having a bath first thing this morning. And so, I ran the bath-water and reclined on my bed and watched morning television while she frolicked.

And I contemplated my bad dream. First, in my dream, a good friend gave me the silent treatment because I got rid of an item she loaned me. Of course, that didn’t really happen, but still. Then, in my dream, I went to a wedding where I had to sit with the other guests on risers in a classroom and when I went to the bathroom, all sixteen of the toilets were overflowing and THEN and ONLY then, I noticed I had a giant purple towel on my head and no make-up on and hey, where are my clothes? When I opened a closet, I found a comforter I used to own and then I woke up.

That was the first time I’ve had an anxiety dream about being a wedding guest. Usually my anxiety dreams are all about wandering a campus, looking for a classroom, knowing full well that I have played hooky all year and that I am ill-prepared for the final exam.

So, my wet hair. I didn’t have time to dry it because I had to get downstairs–quick!–to clean up choking hazards (aka Playmobil people) and vacuum thoroughly because the toddler would be here today for the first time in a couple of weeks. And he eats leaves and marbles and unpopped popcorn kernels. Don’t ask me how I know.

At one point this afternoon, I had to count on my fingers to figure out how many kids were here. I used all my fingers, but thankfully, none of my toes.

As for my mood-swing yesterday . . . nothing cures a funk like perspective. Today, I received a letter from an incarcerated woman I know. She has five more years to serve. Yesterday, my husband told me about a high-school classmate of his who has a fourteen year old daughter battling cancer. Her prognosis is grim. And what about those miners? This world is so sad sometimes.

Oh. And wasn’t that a cheerful wrap-up to a Thursday night? You’re welcome.

Untitled Due to Lack of Creativity