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18 Mar

From where I’m sitting I can see a tipped toy basket, hemorrhaging plastic replicas of machines and weapons.

I can see the dishwasher half-open, with the top rack pulled out and half empty.  The counter is piled first with dirty dishes, then with clean, and next with more toys.

Nearer to me is the cabinet by my desk, standing open and on the floor are pieces of a day-old tortilla now brittle and crumbling.

Chunks of cheese are cupped in an upturned Darth Vader helmet.

This is just what I can see from my desk, but around the corner is more, and more up the stairs, in the bathroom, down the hall, in the guest room, and everywhere else.

I assure you each night when I retire, every room is tidy.  The kitchen is clean and often the floors are swept.  All it takes is one solid bout of imaginary play from my four-year-old with the help of his younger brother who’s recently begun walking.  All it takes is one hour in which I attempt to tackle some significant task, like laundry or balancing our budget, for the two of them to entertain themselves into a frenzy of homemaking’s undoing.  Sometimes I think, “a play room would be great!  One room to contain the chaos.” But that’s fantasy parenting at its finest!

My children want to play near me, always near me.  They have a bedroom, and more toys in our guest-room, but they carry everything to wherever I am, and grace me with their enthusiastic pretend-play.  Today alone my son has discussed being the King Kong of ninjas, told me he doesn’t belong here because he belongs to the future, and explained how he works for a restaurant called “Charlie’s Pizza” that is all out of pistachios.  The reason my kitchen is half dirty and half clean is because of all this participation involved.

I know it only takes five minutes to empty the dishwasher!

But I haven’t enjoyed an uninterrupted five minutes unless my children are soundly sleeping. Often the HD will come home to a scatter of projects throughout the house: laundry in different stages of completion, a half-vacuumed room, a partially-prepped meal, and so on.  Someday they won’t be near me, I know, and I’ll have more complete thoughts and conversations with myself than will be healthy.  I know one day I’ll have to urge them to sit in the same room with me, at the same table with me, ride in the same car with me.  Right now the size-6 jeans are home to the largest lap my sons know, one big enough for the two of them.

Welp! This entry will be interrupted, too: I have to sprint my garbage can to the curb for pick up.




Taking Time to Make the Time

28 Oct

We have resigned the Army.  We broke away and came (what feels in some ways like) full-circle.  In some ways it feels like completely uncharted territory — full-circle isn’t supposed to feel so unknown, is it?

When HD returned from Afghanistan I was overwhelmed with how similar the Army is to being in an abusive relationship, and like a bad boyfriend the Army made itself tough to leave.  My HD and I are practical planners, so as we searched the world for a new home and work, the Army kept whispering in our ear he’d make things so much easier if we’d just stay.  We wouldn’t have to try to figure out so many answers; the answers would all be given to us.  We wouldn’t have to figure out anything! Just relax and let him take care of it. ::insert creepy shoulder massage from behind so only an onlooker can see the wicked grin on his face::

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Junkyard Blues

22 Oct

I know what I want out of life, but I’m permanently plagued by the question of how to get “there” from “here”.  Part of my problem is that my desires in life are largely abstract, (i.e., I want a sense of community where I live), but the other part is that I honestly believe I could be happy doing many, many things.  I want to write, teach writing, counsel, do pottery, sell crocheted goods, open a restaurant, teach cooking, edit, volunteer full-time, and be a mama.  When it’s time for me to buckle down and devote myself to one thing — so that I can become really good at it — I am soon distracted by another heart’s desire.  

Elliott Smith sang, “I’m a junkyard full of false-starts” and of the many lyrics I’ve related to in my life, (queue seventeen-year-old me reaching through the speakers to hug Stevie Nicks as I hear, “players only looove you when they’re playin’.“) I can relate to being a junkyard the most.  The lyric is beautifully descriptive; you can visualize the broken ideas and abandoned projects becoming decayed with rust and neglect.  

“Here’s the corroded pile of ideas for starting my own line of stationery.”

That idea failed because I don’t know computer-based design well enough.  I didn’t have a good printer.  I didn’t have a screen-printer, for sure.  I would really have loved a letterpress machine… I wanted to make something from nothing, and without investing anything, either.  

It turns out there are very few risk-free hobbies, except for writing, but even that requires an enormous installment of time.  

I know I keep writing about wanting to kickstart my life into creativity, but please bear with me.  Every time I sit at the keyboard and write I’m feeding the right desire.  

So, if sitting at the keyboard and bemoaning my inertia isn’t getting me “there”, what will?  How did you get to where you are?


Skip This Post; I’m Just Exercising

7 Oct

The temperature became warmer as we traveled into the evening.  From the Cumberland Valley into the Shenandoah the temperature increased ten degrees, even though it was four hours later in the day, and into the evening.  The warmth seemed to beckon me and say, “welcome home; have a little extra summer”.  I drove in my VW with the baby, and the HD drove behind me with Young G.  The trip took two days (potty breaks and a nursing baby) until we ended up in Charleston.


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Operation Dancing in the Dark

22 May

I’m probably being dramatic here, but hear me out. Ever since my second son was born, instead of feeling eager to recount my birth story I have been itching to bounce back into activity. His birth literally corresponded with the first days of spring here in Central PA, so regardless of the state of my maternity I would be chomping at the bit for some exercise. Add to this all the stasis that occurred while nine-months pregnant in a 30-degree March, and I’m seriously going crazy.

When I entered the hospital, I was 173 pounds and the trees were bare as December. Forty-eight hours later I was discharged — 12 pounds lighter, 8 of which were my angelic infant son — and all the leaves were peeking out and the flowering trees had burst into bloom. It was practically over-night that we went from chilly winter to sunny spring. My pregnancy was ended and life was all new, especially for the Littlest.

“Can’t start a fire without a spark”

My spark has been traveling along a lengthy fuse, one that has stretched across the last two years. All feelings of permanence ceased when my husband deployed, and my sense of progress became frozen in time. When he returned we were tasked with the sad process of healing, and a time to convalesce never feels like moving forward, but rather catching up. The months we spent restoring our relationship overlapped with my new pregnancy, which in turn overlapped with a brutal Pennsylvania winter. I couldn’t really ignore time, any more, though, because years had in fact passed as was evidenced by my mid-thrirties body: pregnancy was biologically intended for the twenty-year-old mother!

Everything is new and changing in my external world, again, like it has continuously for about three four years or more. I’m not anxious for change; I’m anxious for action, like Bruce Springsteen said. Something that happens inside of me and transcends my schedule. I want to rediscover Myself; she’s gotten a little lost. Well, maybe I put her aside. I had to focus a lot of energy on the needs of others (and also focusing on my more basic needs), and have missed out on good books, learning new things… I even wear the exact same make up every single day. This doesn’t mean I’m not going to pour myself into the Littlest One like I did for Young G. No. My boys deserve a vibrant mommy, though. Not a sad-sap chubby mommy who can’t drag herself out of bed at the same time every day!

Operation Dancing in the Dark does starts with exercise, and regaining my fitness (because this leads to better sleep, better energy, increased ability to keep a schedule, and more enjoyment of life’s activities), but it’s not entirely about loosing my baby-weight. I just equated my sluggishness with the heaviness I felt every time I walked up stairs. This is also about less screen-time. More writing and reading. Who knows what else a spark can ignite.


Civil War of Red and Blue

15 Sep

I wish politics weren’t so divisive in my generation.

There are some people I know (Facebook contacts, I guess) who are so against whichever party they oppose, that they revile anyone who supports them. Their thought process sounds something like: if you are against Candidate A you must therefore support Candidate B. Or even more frustrating, if you are supportive of Party A then you must necessarily support Candidate A. The latter assumption is the most prominent, and my greatest pet peeve (probably because I hate being labeled).

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It’s already Tomorrow

30 Nov

It’s almost 6:00 in the morning, tomorrow, in Afghanistan right now. My HD is waking up to Thanksgiving now, in a place that is cold and monochrome. It’s a regular work day for him, too, and not a holiday. Not a day off. He is treating soldiers in a clinic the size of a walk-in closet. He’s lonely and has no one to hug. The friendly smiles of his battle-buddies shared over a cigar tomorrow night will be warmest dose of familial love he receives, same as any day. We’ll talk on the phone, of course, like we do every day, and I’ll remind him I miss him and that I am proud of him. He’ll tell me we’re one day closer and that he loves me. Then I’ll share a story of Young G’s glory and we’ll sign off.

It’s just another day for him.

I’ve spent all day cleaning my mother’s little beach cottage, and cooking in her newly-remodeled professional kitchen. We’ve made cornbread for stuffing, a cranberry mold, field peas with snaps, pie crusts, and a red-velvet cake.

I have so much to be thankful for! But for some reason all I can think about is my husband. As I sit at the stool in the kitchen, chopping pecans, my brain replays memories of him slipping his arm around my shoulders and kissing me on the cheek. “Family” is never supposed to be defined without including him, and yet here we are, separated.

My son doesn’t know what the word “home” means and he’ll be two in four weeks.

My mother used to tell me, “home is where your stuff is,” but that means a storage unit in Hawaii for me, which is neither where I nor my husband are today (or tomorrow, as the case may be).

“Home” is where We are, and so here I am, homeless, separated, and ungrateful because there is no “we” anywhere right now. Just me. and him. and an entire day long of this planet between us.

I don’t know what this war is about. I don’t know why Afghanistan matters. I certainly don’t know why our troops have to occupy the country with entire miniature cities of camps that they staff for an entire year at a time! But those troops have teeth, and they need good health to do their jobs, and my husband is prepared to aid them. For that I am extremely proud of him.

For their sakes I have sacrificed my house and home, too.