I try all the tricks I know to make myself fall asleep. But nothing works, not even my favorite daydream, which is a surprise. I simply can’t sleep. So here I am in front of the computer, sipping a hot, moroccan mint tea, and staring at the keyboard. I have nothing to write about. Never mind that it’s been almost a month since my half-hearted attempt at sharing my boring life. I’m a bad, bad blogger. I prefer to read what others have to say and comment on that, than to dig something out of the recesses of my brain.
I started this blog with the zealousness of a preacher. I felt that there were truths which had to be addressed, yet were ignored by the people with the power to do something. I smugly thought of myself as the perfect person to address them. But when I reread what I had written, I didn’t like how much of a know-it-all I appeared, and my fervor cooled off.
I honestly don’t know in which direction to take this blog. I censor myself quite a bit because there are readers who feel offended if I leap out of the box they’ve placed me in. Being true to one’s beliefs isn’t the easiest of things. And so, until I figure out which way to go, my posts will be sporadic and random.
By the way, if any of you have any ideas, I’m listening.
*Photo taken from a travel website about Romania
This is what I want to be. A confection. Even if I feel like a slice of whole wheat most days, nutritious, necessary, boring, I want to be dessert. And not just any dessert, I want to be a Parisian macaron.
I don’t know when it was that my profession became my identity. Perhaps a long time ago, and I just hadn’t noticed, or perhaps more recent, but all the frivolity and elegance is gone. I am serious and dependable, which can also translate as anxious and exhausted. And for what? My kids are growing. And the passing years act as though they’re in a race. Before I know it my kids will be in college and I’ll be contemplating a face lift. I don’t want to be staring at myself in the mirror wondering where my life went, not recognizing the lined face staring back.
Can anyone tell me, how do I go about becoming a Parisian macaron? Or at least, how can I find some balance?
(And if you’re in Portland and haven’t stopped by Nuvrei on NW 10th and NW Flanders, what are you waiting for?)
When I was a little girl, I loved sneaking looks into my mom’s or aunts’ purses. Treasures awaited. Every little scribbled note was a mystery, a secret message. The backs of wallet photos were especially important. I was looking for hearts and xo’s and I love you’s. Zippered compartments with their spare change, ticket stubs, receipts, and discarded candy wraps were scrutinized with suspicion. Perhaps I was just looking for candy. Or perhaps I was looking for something more, something deeper. A look inside the hearts of these women so dear to me.
I was remembering all this as I cleaned out my purse today. It was starting to weigh me down, starting to slow my walk. And I got to thinking about the things I carry with me and within me. How much is treasure, and how much is trash? Hoarding wrappers and unacknowledged addictions, receipts and guilt, lists and forgotten dreams, photos and great love, love notes and memories. Getting rid of the junk, and keeping the real.
It was surprisingly easy to let go.
I’ve been killing ants today. I don’t know where they come from, but there they are, carrying their little germs on a zig-zagged route across my counters. The sight of them alone makes me itch. I did the right thing yesterday and tried to scare them away with ground pepper, but when they were still around this morning, I went in for the kill.
My city’s built on a giant ant hill. That’s what I believe. Sometimes I imagine their kingdom of miles of vast tunnels underground, and the ants, billions and billions of them, going about their business plotting which house to attack next. It used to be that I wouldn’t go to bed until the kitchen was spotless, hoping that the smell of disinfected surfaces and waxed floors would deter the little pests, but it was a battle I was losing, so I gave it up. Besides, it was exhausting.
And my attitude sucked. I was so smug. Acting like a know-it-all, just because my house was organized. I blamed a bunch of people, because it made me feel in control. The reason the ants came back was the lone paper towel someone used to wipe their hands and left on the counter. Wasn’t it? No? Of course not! I know better now.
As you can all probably tell, I have nothing of importance to say. Well. Perhaps next time. But, thanks so much for reading my posts, clueless as they are.
I love lists. Oh yes! I do. Sometimes before I fall asleep, I make lists in my head. Of places I want to visit, things I want to accomplish, books I must read. Sometimes I make boring lists, about retirement and saving money and such. I don’t dwell long on those. And sometimes I make lists about the things I want to possess. Clothing, furniture, homes in 20 different places. But the possessions list is boring as well. Lately I’ve become sort of detached from the idea of excess, although at one time I’d rather have given up my right hand than separate myself from a walk-in closet.
In my current journal I have a few identical lists of my 100 favorite books, people, furniture, and clothes. The week of the rapture that didn’t happen, I dreamt that I was told that I must pack up my car with 100 of my *cannot live without* items and people. So I went to get a UHaul truck and started filling it up. But, for some reason, everything I put inside it ballooned up and there was no room for the people that I loved. Out came all the things I thought I couldn’t live without, and in went all my family and friends.
I love my life. It isn’t perfect, no, but I am content. And although I know it’s so cliche, the things that make me so, aren’t things. Not really. What completes my days, are the smiles of my darlings as they reach for me, all sleepy headed and heavy lidded in the early mornings hours. The chirping of the birds flitting from branch to branch outside my open window, beckoning me to rise from the softness of my bed and make the most out of the hour before everyone else is up; the books waiting to be read, impatiently threatening to spill out of the overflowing bookcases; the smell of coffee and of toast; my stash of emergency dark chocolate, hidden in a secret spot, high up on a shelf; the yellow roses scrambling up my patio’s trellis, competing with the green of the ivy; hubby surprising me with delicious treats when I least expect it; my ever-ready daily uniform of converse, dark jeans and fitted cashmere sweaters; treasured friends (see the photo) who support and encourage and never fail to check up on me whenever I pull a disappearing act; the smiles and the kindness of those who cross my path on a daily basis; and my faith, always present, always a comfort, a steady presence in my life.
I want to absorb all the delicious moments of my every day. Inhale them. Stretch out the minutes to last for hours. Remember them forever and ever, whatever life will bring. I watch the faces of my lovelies, those of my parents, of my siblings, of my friends. I try to etch the twinkle of their eyes into my mind, the wrinkles on their faces, the laugh lines on their cheeks, the perfection of their skin, the sound of their voices and of their laughter. Sometimes I feel desperate that I will forget something important, that a moment of eternity will pass me by and I’ll be looking the other way. So I stare harder and command my mind not to forget.
What about you, friends? What makes you content? What is on your happy list?
The photo above was taken this last Saturday at my friend Melania’s wedding (CONGRATULATIONS!), by my friend Teddy. Actually, it was taken by one of Teddy’s assistants because we wanted Teddy in the photo with us. Teddy is the one next to me in the white blouse and black slacks. She is an awesome photographer. When her website is up I will provide a link. Until then, keep an eye on her everyone!
The light is so lovely today, that I’ve been walking around snapping photos with my iPhone. I thought I’d share with you a peek into my world, my home, the things that make me happy. I thought long and hard about this because I value my privacy, and the older I get the more paranoid I become about sharing my space. Above is a photo of my kitchen. I love this room. My dad built those slender armoires behind me, years and years ago, and for the longest time they sat in his garage collecting dust and mice. They’re all cleaned out now and used as storage for my innumerable dishes. I have still to replace all the knobs.
My yard is tiny. It’s mostly a patio with an ivy wall, a trellis, and a few flowers. I don’t have a green thumb, although I wish I did. Bugs and worms and the thought of encountering either, has kept me out of the garden for years, which is really okay because my husband and kids love digging. And I love sitting out there and watching them at work. Or just sitting and enjoying the beauty of nature.
You know, I’ve never had a room of my own. Someplace where I could just go and be. Daydreaming, reading, writing, all those things requiring solitude and quiet, I’ve had to perform while interrupted by the spoken thoughts of others. That must be why I love watching my daughter owning her space. She goes in there and shuts the door, and demands that we all stay out.
Thanks, friends, for visiting my world. I hope your week is sunny and warm. Come back on Sunday as I am going to have a great book giveaway.
That’s what my daughter said after a crazy wind rattled the windows of the house, only for the sun to come out minutes later and the few clouds there were, to start shedding big, fat tears. She may have a point. Yesterday it had rained all day, the day before barely a drop. Last night I fell asleep with the window open, the soft drizzle of the rain lulling me into dreamland. Around three I awoke to the sound of a storm trying to force its way in, and I lay in my cozy bed and wondered if the basement would flood. I tossed and turned with that worry, but I was too lazy to go check. What could I do anyway? Start shoveling out the water?
I am sorry, guys. I have been a lazy blogger lately. I blame it on spending too much of my free time eating pastries, drinking coffee and reading. Also, of course, I have nothing interesting to say. I’ve been thinking that maybe I should start one of those pretty photography blogs everyone seems to have. A picture is worth a thousand words. Right? But to be honest, unless the photo is of me, a member of my family, or a friend, I’m really just not interested. Isn’t that horrible? So.
In other news, I am the winner of a fabulous hat. I am so excited and cannot wait until it gets here. I shall have to think of the perfect place to wear, as Portland is really NOT a fancy hat place. But I still love dressing up, even if I have no place to go, haha. Check the next several posts to see a photo of me wearing the hat.
The silvery light of the full moon gets trapped inside my bedroom and wakes me up. It’s 3:30 am. The house is silent and asleep. The air outside so still, almost as if the world is holding its breath. I feel restless. I want to go and make myself some coffee, curl up in the armchair in the kitchen, read my book. But I don’t think I can still my mind enough. Down the hallway, through the open door of her bedroom, I hear my daughter grinding her teeth. I wonder what she’s dreaming of, this child of mine made of light and laughter. I want to go and curl my body around her small one, hold her tight, my nose buried in the softness of her hair. Instead, I say a prayer for her. A prayer for my son. My sweet, sweet boy. More than anything, still wanting the approval of his parents.
I feel a sadness deep inside. Threatening. I don’t know what or why. I remember my mother back when I was a teenager. How I would wake up in the night and hear her praying. I understand her now. Her fervent wishes for her children. Her need to know that we would be all right.
I think of how as parents we have all these expectations of our children. And they of us. Nothing profound in that. But when I think about it, I wonder if our expectations are ruining the greatness within them. Perhaps making them feel imperfect, insufficient. Because our aspirations for them aren’t all justified, are they. Most are purely selfish. What we had wanted for ourselves. And what does that teach them?
Twice, this past week, I felt a tightness in my chest, as though I was about to burst. Light headed, my breaths rushing out, the sound of my heartbeat deafening in my ears. It’s probably nothing. It isn’t the first time I’ve scared myself silly, thinking I’m about to die. It isn’t the first time I’ve idealized my worries.
I took the children out to pizza for lunch, the other day. It had snowed with thick snowflakes early in the morning. Chunks of clouds falling from the sky. By noon the day had cleared, the sun stinging my eyes with its brightness. We dressed warmly and walked. We took the train to Powell’s and lost ourselves within its walls. On our way back, I saw a girl on a pink bike, wearing a pink satin skirt. She was at a stoplight, waiting her turn in the car line. Her face was upturned to the sun. There was a stillness about her. A joy.
All these disjointed thoughts swirling through my head. They don’t make much sense, I know. And come the light of day, I may cringe at how foolish they seem, and delete them all.
I made salmon for dinner last night. Boring. I know. I served it with rice and steamed vegetables and an extra side dish of my bad mood. I thought about the things I could give up - I have been thinking about this more and more lately, probably because I have been working too hard and too many hours. But finding dependable employees is so very difficult. I have yet to find one with the work ethic and the initiative to take charge, to match mine. Instead I find myself repeating over and over what needs to be done. Besides other things.
My husband says to stop stressing and just take it as it is. The perfect employee does not exist. But I had an almost perfect employee once. So, I truly hope he’s wrong. We shall see. Meanwhile, it’s another day of interviewing and going down my checklist. Because no matter how much I want to give it all up, I have kids. And I must provide for their future. And I must raise them in such a way that they aren’t coddled and don’t feel entitled, and learn just how important responsibility and hard work are.
My son came home from school this week wanting to know why we don’t pay him for completing his chores around the house. Other parents do that, we were told. Why didn’t we? I snapped something to the effect of: I wash the dishes, I cook, I do the laundry, and nobody stands there handing me money. Then I took a big breath and calmed myself down. I explained that in a family everyone has a role. His role is to clean his room, take out the trash, and vacuum the house once a week. It is his responsibility to us, his family.
His job, for which I pay him based on his performance, is school. That is his responsibility to himself. To his future. School teaches him about life, and its day to day requirements of providing an income and maintaining a lifestyle. By getting up on time, completing his homework, doing his best, attending daily, not giving excuses, he develops the work ethic he needs to prosper on this planet. Because we don’t live on Mars, and daydreams are only reality when we make them happen.
Adieu. For now.
While I have been guilty for years, I have admitted to myself just recently, that for all my easy going and fun nature, I am an anxious person. It helps, of course, that my mother was and is anxious. I suppose that somewhere along the way it rubbed off on me. I remember instances as a child and teenager when I’d agonize over things I had said, or feelings I may have hurt, by my flippant remarks. The apprehensiveness was assuredly propelled along by my dear ones figuratively washing my mouth out with soap. As a young adult right out of high school, that anxiety to be whatever my so called friends wanted me to be, to believe whatever they wanted me to believe, regardless of denouncing my true self in favor of what I was convinced was wrong, caused much internal anguish. Since then, I have learned to speak my mind and stand my ground, even if unpopular to some, and yes, I have lost friendships in some instances.
Pregnant with my son and talking about the birthing process with my mother, my aunts, my sister and my friends, all of them brave women who had already experienced it, the anxiety lessened. My sister, a big reader herself, recommended all the right books, non-fiction and fiction, and I willingly devoured them all. The A Baby Story show helped as well. As the big day approached I spent countless hours watching birth after birth, until I realized one day that I had no worries about that anymore. Possibly that period of my life was the most worry free. I recall one night, spooning with my husband on the couch watching some show, and being swathed in tranquility. I was happy, calm and content. Then my son was born. And I began to worry that I’d die before I had a chance to raise him and see him grow and I prayed as never before for good health, a sound mind, and old age.
As my son grew and then I had my daughter, concern about their well being, my well being and my husband’s well being became the accompanying white noise needed in my life. When we used to have a TV, the Oprah Show and the local news were the main instigators of anxiety. Now, of course, it isn’t as bad. I get that rush of adrenaline from reading the papers. Undoubtedly, underneath all the unease, is fear. Fear of failure, fear of the evil humanity is capable of, fear of disease, fear of all that is out of our control, fear for my children, my nieces, my nephews, the children of my friends, fear for my aging parents, my sisters, my brothers, fear for their fears. All wrapped up with a big, fat bow of anxiety around it and presented to me. Somedays I accept it, frantically pulling it open by it’s barely sealed edges, somedays I demurely refuse, and others, I rudely hold up my hands and shake my head, wanting nothing to do with it.
I have won a darling April Cornell towel giveaway, courtesy of my fabulous friend, Bunny’s generosity. Stop on by and prepare to be enchanted as you visit The Paris House.