I live in Missouri with one husband, a variety of pets and two food critics. I love writing, reading and making lists. I've written poetry since I was seven. A few years ago I branched out into short fiction and memoir pieces. I'm currently working on a novel. My day job takes place at a public library. In the present, I'm fortunate enough to spend part of my working day writing blog posts and occasional newspaper articles for my employer. It's a happy life, getting paid to do what I love.
Pro tip — if you oversleep on a day you had planned to tackle your extensive to-do list, rather than despairing over crossing off fewer items, simply add one. Put “GET MORE SLEEP” right there at the top. Hey, you’ve already started before you even woke up!
I’m not really kidding. The older I get, the more I see the value of adequate sleep. I come from a family that sleeps little, so this is a newish mindset for me.
I used to be an “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” type of person. But that’s ridiculous. An objective evaluation of my life when I’ve had a good sleep versus when I’m running low shows me that the quality of my existence improves when I’m rested. I’m less cranky and more productive. I get fewer colds and other minor illnesses as well.
I have intermittent insomnia, and sometimes have to “work at” getting sleep. I have a variety of tricks. So I’m trying to stop kicking myself when I get a late start on weekend chores because I stayed in bed longer than intended. Instead, I tell myself I’ve met an important health goal.
I had a lot of tasks to catch up on this week before I could find time to write this. It’s a narrative of my unexpected adventure last week. Spoiler: we’re all okay now.
It’s late Monday afternoon and I’m working my noon to 9 p.m. shift at the library. I’m on a project hour, away from view of the public services desks, so I’m able to glance at my cell phone when it buzzes. My 23-year-old, who lives ~240 miles away, has been battling a virus, but felt he was over it enough to go to work. He’s messaging me for advice.
He has chest pains. Bad chest pains. Trouble breathing. Do I think he should leave work and go to the ER?
For the past hour, I’ve been having two simultaneous, but extremely different text conversations with my two kids. I worried I would accidentally send a comment or emoji to the wrong one, as I alternated answering one and then the other.
Kid number 1, who lives a few hours away, has spent the morning at urgent care and is feeling terrible, plus worried about not being able to go to work tomorrow. Kid number 2, who still lives with me, just finished participating in a game jam* with a local game developers’ club. He’s flying high with exhilaration over what his group accomplished this weekend.
It’s one of those situations where I want to be present for both, and I guess the technology makes that possible. But I’m dizzy from the back and forth.
“My whole body aches.”
😦 I hope the medicine helps soon.
“Here are the coolest features of the game we created this weekend.”
🙂 That’s amazing. So cool!
Back and forth, back and forth — celebrate, commiserate, celebrate, commiserate. Never letting on to either that I’m having a conversation with their sibling, or what it’s about. Why remind the sick one of other people having fun? And why deflate the happy one by bringing up worries about the sibling?
And if this doesn’t epitomize being the mother of more than one child, I don’t know what does.
*Participants break into teams and have a weekend to create a computer game on a given theme.
In the past few months, I’ve seen a fair few security footage videos on social media, showing people stealing boxes from front porches. “Help us identify this thief” is a common caption. I keep wondering, don’t these front porch parcel bandits realize how likely they are to end up on camera, and then all over the internet, their crimes broadcast to the world?
This was all going through my mind the other day as I removed two boxes from someone’s porch and carried them across a busy street in broad daylight, taking them to my own house, with the full intention of keeping them. Did someone record me doing this? Is my image even now being impugned on the Facebook pages of strangers? See the dastardly woman making away with her neighbors’ goods!
Rest assured, I am not a package thief. I am merely a player in a small coincidence of the cosmos.
I’ve been keeping an eye on my neighbors’ house while they’ve been out of the country. On the day in question, when I went over to do my rounds and make sure everything was in order, I spotted two packages on their front porch. I thought it was a little odd that they’d order any goods delivered when they were halfway around the world, but figured I’d better take the boxes inside the house so they didn’t get stolen or weather damaged.
One was large and I hoped it wasn’t too heavy. I was relieved to see the words ‘furnace filters” printed on the cardboard. Coincidentally enough, I had just ordered furnace filters from the same company. How about that?
When I took a closer look, I saw the coincidence was of a different nature. Those boxes were mine, both of them. They were addressed to me — my name and my home address. But they’d been delivered to the wrong house. Where I happened to find them anyway, because I was keeping an eye on the place for my neighbors. What are the odds?
And what are the odds someone saw me take them and recorded the whole thing? That’s what I keep wondering. If you see a video posted of a middle-aged, curly-haired woman swiping two unwieldy boxes from someone’s porch and carrying them away, please let me know. I can explain the whole thing.
Considering who raised them, my kids couldn’t help growing up with a dark sense of humor. It helps get us through hard times, minor and major. They’re both in their early twenties now, long past the age where I could shield them from the troubles of the world. Past the age where I even want to. It’s a relief in a lot of ways, being able to speak openly with your kids about big issues.
It’s been a year of living since last Christmas, which means a year with a few problems mixed in with our joys. Car repairs. My younger son, the 20-year-old, has been dealing with annoying health issues off and on for several months. Our washing machine is about to give up the ghost — in a shuddering exorcism, by the looks of things. My firstborn has roommate issues. Deep cuts in benefits at my workplace. Some deaths of loved ones. I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago, and could barely move for about three days. Which meant Christmas prep was rushed and last minute. Then there are the things happening on the world stage — refugees needing asylum, climate change, markets crashing.
But in the middle of all of that, we’ve been able to foment a spirit of celebration within the family around Christmas. Granted, the celebratory spirit has an edge to it. “Merry Crisis!” read the text from my oldest a few days ago. It quickly became our unified holiday greeting. With every newly developing issue — Merry Crisis! Yeah, the world’s going to hell, but we’ve got each other and we’re going to make what joy we can.
I ordered some gifts to be shipped to Kid One, thinking we wouldn’t be seeing them for Christmas. They live four hours away, too far for a day trip. Parties on neither end could do an overnight, for various reasons. I thought I was okay with being apart, since we message all the time.
But I got sad as the day approached, and sadness is sometimes the mother of invention. At nearly the last minute, I pitched a Christmas Eve plan to meet halfway. I looked at maps, researched restaurants that might be open, and found the perfect spot to meet, a two-hour drive from each end. That perfect spot was an IHOP in Quincy, Illinois.
It worked out. It wasn’t the Christmas get together of days gone by, but it was a new innovation that turned out nicely. Kid One brought along their significant other and we had a great visit, filled with our usual brand of humor, leading to lots of laughter. In case anyone wonders, we left a sizable tip for the wait staff working on the holiday. Without them, I wouldn’t have gotten to visit with my (23-year-old) baby.
If there’s a lesson for me, it’s to let go of what I think a Christmas celebration should be or what it has been, and to improvise as need to make it what it can be.
What if we used to be the same person? Or will be the same person in the future? Or both? Were and will be.
Lost yet? Let me give you a glimpse of the kinds of thoughts that can take over my brain in the middle of the night.
Several years ago, I read A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. It’s a popular science book. One thing he said stuck with me and I think about it often, sometimes even in broad daylight. Since matter is never destroyed, only transformed, that means all of the atoms that make up our bodies used to be other things. Or people. It’s possible that some atoms in my body right now used to be part of Shakespeare. And we know we’re all made of stardust, right? Which is amazing. Here’s an article explaining what I’m saying. Continue reading “What if We Used to Be the Same Person?”→
This Thanksgiving marks my first major holiday as a mom spent apart from one of my children. My firstborn won’t be home to visit until the end of next week. It’ll be just me, my husband and the six-foot-tall kid who lives with us.
We could have gone somewhere, but chose not to. We could have invited people, but didn’t. I haven’t dusted, or anything similar. Honestly, I’m looking forward to a quiet day.
I had so many years of busyness, of overwhelming to do lists, of making the holidays into something. As much as I enjoyed a lot about those times, I got worn out. I’m depleted. I find myself now just wanting to rest from more than two decades of being on.
I have a vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner planned. Homemade minestrone. Rolls. Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Steamed asparagus. Cranberry Sauce. Pumpkin pie. We’ll probably play a board game. Maybe take a walk, weather permitting. We’ll say what we’re thankful for.
This year, I’m thankful for the prospect of a quiet, low-stress holiday.