Make Time

Make time.

Make time. How many times have I heard this? Make time.

Make time for me. For exercise, for writing.  Make time for the children, my husband, my friends. Make time to cook, to clean. To do laundry, to put away my clothes, the dishes, the piles of papers on my desk. Build a business, have a life, relax, ride a bike, walk a dog, take a nap.  Make time.

Make. The. Time.

You can change, you can do anything you want to-if you make the time. Right?

Right now I am staring at a pile of clean laundry that needs to be put away, next to a basket of exercise clothes that don’t ever get used, while writing the blog I have neglected in favor of the business I am trying to start in between the job I have in the house I keep with the kids I raise with the husband I married.  I wish I knew how to make time.

Is there a recipe? Can I google the instructions or watch a video on YouTube? Is there a formula or equation I missed in Algebra or Chemistry? I was never good at either one of those.  Making time.  Does it require baking? Because I don’t bake.  Cooking, I can do, baking-not so much.  Good Lord, I am creeping up on 50-can someone please share the secret with me? Pass me a note-I won’t tell.

Just make the time.

How much more would I make if I could? An hour? Three? Five? We all complain there are not enough hours in the day, but what is a good number? What would work? And if we can move Daylight Savings Time around, why can’t we add a few hours?  How about six-make it an nice round 30 hours a day.  No one really sleeps the full 8-10, so let’s go with 20 daytime hours and 10 night time hours.  That seems about right for me.

Make time.

I feel like I heard it a million times, and I know I will hear it a million more. From my husband, my kids, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my therapist.  Easy enough.  Just make the time.  

Did you know there is a book on it? I want to order it, but I don’t think I will actually have the time to read it. Unless I get the flu or something drastic. Yes, there is an actual book called Making Time.  (http://www.amazon.com/Making-Time-Different-Speeds-Control/dp/1848310013 )

I envy the people who do make time.  The women I see every day in tennis outfits or running shorts (you know, the ones that really have been to the gym).  The writers that lock themselves away and write for hours uninterrupted in peaceful bliss (unlike myself who typically dictates to Siri my next essay idea, or my next essay entirely, while in the car running errands).  The photographers that get up to see the sun rise, and manage to process and post their photos all in one day, or better yet, the ones that keep up with the 365 Day or the 52 Week Challenge. I am curious what they do ‘in real life’.  Do they have a job/kids/spouse/friends/commitments that beckon them and they ignore them (because they are making time)? How do they do it all? Last week I ran out the door to drive one child to school, grabbed the camera and found myself on the side of the road in my sweats, hair a rat’s nest, standing in an ant pile with no makeup on taking pictures of the gorgeous fog rising off the fields.  I have only looked at and edited four images since then.  I have not made the time, you could say. Or you could say, I have had houseguests, work, kids, and other commitments that have not allowed me the time to circle back.

Make time.

I wish I could. I am sure you do too. I do my best, I promise.  To make time for everyone that I love, and for those that love me. I know over the years the ebb and flow of life have made one person or the other in my life have felt otherwise, but I truly do.

And now I am going to make time for bed, for sleep.  All of the things undone on my list of things to do today, will be added to the list for tomorrow.

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Birthday

It is the birthday of one of my oldest and dearest friends today.  Facebook was kind enough to send me a reminder yesterday-Outlook too.  I had to smirk for just a moment because for the first time in probably the history of our friendship, I had not forgotten. I had remembered it on my own.  He would have laughed at this, he would have appreciated the irony.  The year I finally remembered, is the first birthday he is not here with us.

My feed this morning is filled with his face, pictures of him laughing and smiling with family and friends.  Memories are being shared across the miles.  They are like a quick punch in the gut for a moment, sneaking up on me and stealing my breath.  He is in his uniform, handsome and proud.  He is dancing at his wedding, his face filled with joy as he holds his new bride.  He is on his bike in the woods, jumping logs and racing downhill.  He is hugging his girls and laughing with them.

He was my rock, my constant, from the time I was barely a teenager, to the day he died.  No matter what trouble I found myself in, what mess I made, he was there for me.  Always.

I don’t think that I said enough before he was gone-I love you, or thank you.  It happened so quickly, that I did not even get to say goodbye.  I called, and it was too late.  He couldn’t speak-the cancer had moved to his brain.  My chance to say all of the things I wanted to was gone.  Just like that.

There are so many things in life I do not understand, that I will never understand.  There are things that religion, and spirituality and faith cannot explain to me.  This is one of those things.  I struggle with the why….Why him? Why so soon after he found true love and true happiness?  Why, when he was so good, so kind? What sense does that make? How can your stories, myths, or beliefs make this right?

They can’t for me.

He died just six months after he danced at his wedding. His honeymoon was spent in the hospital.   There is no sense in that.  There never will be.

Today I will remember his laugh, deep and genuine.  I will remember his smile and his absolutely positive outlook on life.  I will be thankful for the years of unconditional friendship he gave me.  I will whisper happy birthday, and let the tears fall, and hope that wherever he is now, he knows how much he is missed and loved.

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Untitled

My dreams have brought me back again

To places I don’t want to go.

With words I shall not say

And foes I would not name.

I woke with a hand on my shoulder

An unfinished hush in the air

And I was looking for someone

That was never really there.

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Dear Santa

My husband and I have moved into the quiet synchronicity that being married close to twenty years has allowed us. We rarely argue anymore, hardly disagree. Of course there are the little things-whether to eat out or in, if the children should do x, y, or z, but for the most part, we have truly become partners. I would be lying to you if I pretended it was always like this. Trust me when I say there have been knock down drag outs that I am both ashamed and embarrassed of now. But today, today we are on the same page about almost everything.

There is still just one tiny thing we cannot agree on.

That thing is Santa Claus.

C is twelve this year, next week actually and still believes. Yes, yes he does. Last year he saw the ‘Santa paper’ in the closet, recognized his father’s handwriting on the note and asked me tentatively if Santa was real. I could see the fear, hurt, and sadness in his eyes as he posed his question, and it tore me up. How could I crush him? How could I take the magic from him?

I could not. Oh, I did not promise he was real, living in a real house in the North Pole with Mrs. Clause and the elves. But I did tell him the magic was real. That if he wanted to believe, then yes Santa would continue to bring him gifts and yes, Charlie the (damn) elf would still appear December 1 and hide all over the house making sure he behaved. I told him that when you don’t believe, you still get gifts, Christmas is still about our traditions and the things we do as a family and that most things would not change at all. Except for the fact that mom and dad would now bring his gifts. He pondered this, big fat tears welling up in his eyes.

“But I don’t want Charlie to go away.”

I do. Of all things Christmas, that is the one thing I would be happy to let go of. But what could I say?

I reassured him once more that we would continue our traditions, Santa or no.

He looked at me for a long time, and I felt my own tears starting to fall. This was worse than watching him walk onto the bus for the first time, his backpack almost as big as he was, his tiny little smile and chubby hands waving at me from the window of the monstrous yellow bus.

This was worse-for both of us.

Our conversation went on for a few more minutes. I gently tried to lead him to his own conclusion, to his own realization of the truth. The wheels in his head kept spinning.

Finally, I asked him outright.

“Do you want me to tell you yes or no? Real or not?”

He looked at me for just a moment.

“No, “ he said. “And I don’t ever want to talk about this again.”

And so it was. He continued to play with whatever toy he had in front of him. I hugged him as hard as I could and went out to the garage to cry.

This year I wondered if he would let it go on his own. I wondered as the holiday approached if he would come to me and tell me he knew, just as he did with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Matter of fact.

But he did not. And as I tested him in tiny ways, he let me know unequivocally, that Santa still lives.

“Do you want to sit on Santa’s lap?” I asked at the Christmas tree farm. He did. A pinch of embarrassment for being one of the oldest kids to do so, mixed with a spot of excitement because even to me, that Santa looked real.

“Do we need to send Santa a list, and let him know we moved?” I prodded tentatively. We do not, because Santa sees everything he told me. “He knows where we are. “

My husband does not believe I should be continuing this charade. C is twelve, he argues. It is time.

But, why? Why is there a time? Why is there a deadline for magic and childhood? I don’t think there should be. I look at my son and I can still see his doughy feet and little belly. I can still curl up with him spooned into my body and smell his stinky boy smell. Why can’t we savor this to the very last? Why do I have to take the last bit of wonder and surprise away from us both?

I snuggled with him this morning, our daily ritual after the alarm goes off, and thought about other families and what they have told their kids and I would be lying if I did not think about the parents in Ferguson and Cleveland, and all of the other communities where violence and is the norm. I closed my eyes. What do they get to hold on to? What magic is still in their lives? Do you still believe in Santa when you watch your friends gunned down in the street? Do you care if Charlie the Elf knows you’re naughty when you don’t have heat, or enough to eat, or your parents don’t have a job? Is there magic in watching drug deals on the corner, or riots, looting, and protests. As a parent do you just tell them, flat out that there is no Santa, no magic man bringing Christmas, that this is life and all it’s ugliness so get used to it?

The thought makes me cringe, and want to cry once again.

This is why I believe. And this is why I let him believe. There is time enough for his childhood to be filled with tragedy and realities that I cannot take away. There are children that I cannot protect, that I cannot hold and comfort. There are parents that have no choice, no way to bring peace and calm and traditions home to their family this year, or any year. I do, I have a choice. So on this one, I will not concede to my husband and his sensibilities. I will diligently move the Elf, wrap the gifts in ‘Santa paper’, and leave out cookies and milk, and I will hold on to our magic just a little bit longer.

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Hidden Treasures

I have a love of antique shops; their dusty windows and creaking doors beckon me from the roadside whenever I travel. I cannot resist their hand painted signs that call out ‘Come in, we’re open!’ as I drive along. I have to stop. I have to go in. They are calling to me. I can hear the tinkle of the tarnished brass bell hanging above the door even before I turn the knob-the sound is that familiar.

The signs outside say ‘antique shop’, as they always do, but they rarely offer real antiques. They are more like junk shops, and honestly more of a shed than an actual shop, but the lure is the same.   Before I know it my hand is on the knob and I am calling out ‘hello’ to some shopkeeper hidden by dust and drapes.

I am comforted the instant I walk in. It is an odd aromatherapy for me inside these shops-the odors surround me and I cannot help but smile, relax and take it all in. Cedar and leather, stale paper, and old book bindings, ink and mothballs. The combination makes me dizzy with reflection.

It takes barely a moment before I am back at my grandparent’s house in CT. The setting sun across the street is stretching through the bay window, and it has lit the formal room on fire. The crystal on the hunt board, the one that now sits in my dining room, cracks and fractures the light and makes it dance on the keyboard of the piano against the wall. The dust is floating like glitter in the air, so slowly it almost looks still. I can see into the living room and my grandfather is there in his chair. It is plaid, the colors of fall-browns, red and gold; worn in the places his bony body sits most, where his elbows rest on the arms. His side table is heavy with his drink and his ashtray and a tendril of smoke carelessly makes its way to the window beside. I can smell the salt of the olives in his martini and the Sound in his clothes. His hands stink of tobacco and fish, of ink and paint. He has drawn all morning at his drafting table, and then fished all afternoon out on his beloved boat.

I can see her too, my grandmother, around the corner sitting on the long floral sofa. It’s garish colors-orange, green, day glow pink, make me wonder if long ago they had bright parties here, entertained their friends and filled the house with laughter. I can smell her perfume, delicate and soft, lightly floral, mixed with a fine dusting of baby powder. I can see her wild gray hair and bright red lipstick. She is doing the crossword, her glasses resting on the end of her nose, tall glass of seltzer on cobbler’s bench she uses as a coffee table. It is sweating on an aluminum coaster, like the very set I place my hand on just then in the junk shop.

I laugh out loud and startle myself, and the shop owner. He looks at me like I am a tad off, and maybe I am. I can’t help it. A set of aluminum coasters! An aluminum tray etched with a floral pattern barely worn! The floral pattern that matches the one on the bowl I have carried with me since she passed. How funny! My eyes start to scan the rest of the shelf and find it littered with memories that make me long for them, make me wish I could be with them both one more time. The Corningware casserole dish, the wooden level and planer, the aluminum percolator, all right here… just as they were there in their modest home and musky garage.

In the corner of the shop is a small cedar chest and I cannot stop myself from opening it. I am not at all curious what is in it-I don’t even care. I want to smell it. I want to take it in. Its contents are of no concern to me, for when I close my eyes and breathe in the richness of the wood, all I can see is corner of the living room where my grandmother kept the ‘toys’. Toys to us, though I am sure not what my children would consider entertaining now. No, these treasures, often scavenged from thrift shops themselves, were books and games, crayons and puzzles. Paper dolls and dress up clothes. And in a cedar chest, just like this, were old rubber stamps and inkpads from my grandfathers office-the most coveted ‘toys’ of all. Hours we spent with playing with them, until the light was too dim to see in that little corner of the house.

How strange I must seem to the man behind the counter. I have bought nothing. I have been in here for 15 minutes, or has it been more, and I have done nothing but laugh and smile, touch and smell the wares he has. I have been visiting with the past, spending time with my memories. The aromas that waft in and out of my mind rock me like the tide and have calmed me. I am leaving empty-handed, but full of gifts nonetheless.

I wonder where my children will go to remember me. What place will they wander when they want to be close to me? Will they too walk into a vintage store or antique shop and remember me, smell me and feel me in the air? I hope so. I remember for a time being saddened that I had no place to visit, no place to feel close to my grandparents. Both of them were cremated, their ashes scattered in the waters they worshiped, and when I moved away from the coast they felt lost to me. But they are not lost. I can find them anytime I want to-hidden in the least likely places. When I need to feel close to them I now know just where to go.

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Dream Dream Dream

I don’t like to dream.

There, I said it. And it is true. I don’t like to dream.

I am not talking about the daydreams, fantasies, wishes we all have. The somedays, the lofty goals, the rewards we work for.  I am talking about the dreams fill the night while we lay unsuspecting in our beds.

The word Dream makes us think of fairies and glitter and all things lovely.  Landscapes that are beyond those we see in real life, where people are painfully beautiful, and everything goes as planned-and then some. But I do not have those, or if I do, they are so few and far between I cannot recall them.

I wonder sometimes if I am the only one that wakes in a mood I cannot describe until much later in the day, when something, anything, brings a glimpse of the dream back into my consciousness. When my hand on a dish held just so will take me back to the moment in my mind and for a second I catch my breath and pause-trying to recall more than a blink of it. But I never can.

My dreams are filled with people I can barely recall, moments I wish to forget, conversations I wish I had, and closure I never got.  They follow me to my bedroom and wait for me in that deep, warm cocoon I make for myself every night.  Is my mind trying to forge endings where there were none?  Or tell me to let go of things that I am still holding on to, if only by a thread?  It is hard to say.  And if I had to write for you one dream or another from start to finish, to lay it out so that we could dissect it and discover its true origins, or find within the folds what message it has for me, I could not.  I am left in the morning with bits and pieces that make no sense, have no pattern, and reveal no secrets.

Much like confetti after a party….

I wake and look around the room for clues, for meaning, for understanding and find there is none. The dream is gone without so much as a waft of dust in it’s wake.  I am left with a mood that sinks to my bones and makes itself at home in my mind. I wander and wonder throughout the day, waiting for the clue to reveal itself when I am most unsuspecting.

Perhaps it is a side effect of reading and writing as I do, that I am in fact the one that calls out to these dreams and invites them to join me in my slumber.  Maybe as I coax the words out and onto the page, I am coaxing them as well, out of the shadows and recesses of my memories where they lay waiting to be set free?

If that is the case, then so be it.  If these dreams are the lost fragments of things I no longer need, that serve no purpose in my subconscious and that I will one day trip over if I don’t shake them free now, then so be it. Let me sleep.  Let me write and call to them by name, one by one, until I am left with none. Let me type until my fingers ache.  Until they dissipate and drift away with the morning sun rising one last time.

Until my dreams are full of fairies and glitter.

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Jane Doe

Does it matter who I am

whose words I dare to speak

whose memories I care to share?

The names are changed

to protect the innocent

and those that are not so much.

But why do I care?

Why should I hide

behind a thin veil

as if you won’t see

the gory bits of me

and the tiniest bits of you

still scattering across the page.

Does it matter who I am

or who I thought you were?

Does it matter how I felt

or how it makes you feel?

Should I change my name

and hide out, keeping my secrets?

would you not still see

the truth I share is as it was to me?

Jane Doe is who I am

Jane Doe is who you are

Leave your name tag on the floor

I won’t be needing it

and neither will you.

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Goodbye Kiss

You come to me in a dream

every morning

as the light starts to touch the windowsill.

A kiss as light as air,

gently on my forehead,

my cheek, my eyelids

So soft it is though I imagined it.

And then you are gone,

like the first breeze of spring,

barely there and then,

not.

I wake and wonder

if I felt it,

if you were there

were your lips on my skin,

did my body stir,

or was it just a beautiful illusion

passing through my sleepy head.

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Willy Wonka Takes Me Back

I have been working on another post all night and had to stop. I keep hearing that song over and over in my head and it is far too distracting.

“Ooompa Loompa …”

“But I want it NOW, Daddy!”

I can remember waiting for Willy Wonka and The Wizard of Oz to come on every year.  Back before Netflix and cable and VHS and DVD and OnDemand, back when you had to wait a whole year to watch your favorite movies and specials again.   Truthfully, The Wizard of Oz was always my favorite, but we could not wait to watch Willy Wonka every year either. We sat mesmerized, glued to the vivid imagery, the irresistible lure of candy, the magical tour of the factory. We had no clue how totally creepy Mr. Wonka was, or what wretched brats those children were. We were just enthralled by the magic that was the movie.

We didn’t mind commercials, those were built in bathroom breaks, a chance to run upstairs to get our dessert, for my father to make us a snack. Besides, without commercials, how would we know what to put on our Christmas list for Santa?

We waited for those holiday specials with almost as much excitement as we had for the holidays themselves. They were part of the whole tradition.

Ah…It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. What a love I have for the Peanuts gang, even now as an adult. Just the music can take me back.  But as I tried to share these things with my children, I realized too much has changed.

My kids thought Charlie Brown was boring.  They much preferred the new Willy Wonka to the old.  The Wizard of Oz was about a girl. Enough said.  Sadly, my husband and I find ourselves watching these classics from our youth by ourselves now. Like tonight.

Technology will always have the upper hand.  It will always offer us new alternatives, different options, and I am a fan most of it. But tonight it is making me just a bit sad.  We had fun watching movies together on the sofa in my parents living room. We snuggled under the afghan my grandmother crochet for us, ate the popcorn my father doused with butter after he popped it on the stovetop in a pot. We turned out the lights and pretended we were at the movies and were glued to our 20″ tv.  It was magic. It was not the least bit boring.

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Reblogged Sort of…

I am cheating tonight because I stayed up way to late last night writing. So I am reblogging sort of.  I actually did reblog, but to my photo site, and now I can’t reblog again, so here is a link.

READ. THIS. ESSAY.

I am going to print it. And highlight it like crazy. And then laminate it.  Because it is amazing. Because she knows just what to say.  Because it took my breath away.

I want to share a quote but I have so many I love, I can’t choose.

Just go. Now.  http://hannahbrencher.com/2014/11/04/this-is-just-the-night-talking/

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