It is the best time of the day to write. Inside the house heaves rhythmically with sleeping pets and people and its own 90-year-old creaks and cracks. The coffee is strong and black. The screen is white and bright. Outside the street sleeps and the lake licks the beach. At this hour time is suspended.
It is the end of another dramatic week for the world. Trust and innocence suffered new blows. Here, we stood vigil with good people everywhere and held our breath and hearts as we watched it unfold on too many screens at once, it seemed. Meanwhile, in the inner circle of our daily lives, it was business as usual: crowded and hurried and scattered. But this week, next to all of those other screens, “business as usual” took on a sweeter meaning.
Last week I wrote my personal menu of excuses not to write. By Saturday, to kickstart my posts, I came up with the idea of the 20 minute post. 1, 2, 3 …20, POST. That was 7 days ago! And still no post! Certainly I have 20 minutes before lunch packing, law practicing, and life scrambling to spill a corner of my heart onto the keyboard?
It is kind of like taking a deep breath before starting the day. And I just did it. Well, I just did it in 37 minutes, including the time it took to heat up the espresso machine + let the dogs out. 🙂
December is a very hot month where I have worked for the past 20 Decembers. While on the outside, winds, rains, and several months of chilly darkness blow into town, inside it is an overheated pressure cooker. The reasons why are unimportant (and idiosyncratic to the cult of personalities we call our firm). Let’s just say that last December internal temperatures escalated even further when one of my partners ripped a page out of a business school text and suggested we should add performance reviews of ourselves to the mix. The exercise was just as sweaty as we had feared. However, after I finished, I had to admit – the self study had done me some good. So recently I applied the same scrutiny to my blogging to uncover why I am so surprisingly horrible at it! Nine posts since fall 2011 !?! I am particularly embarrassed to admit that in one of my first posts I even bragged:
I was born to blog. Some might say I have been blogging since long before “Al Gore Invented the Internet.” Harriet the Spy was my childhood heroine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_the_Spy Yes, I was the one in the hoody, hunched over the notebook chronicling the late 1960s and the 1970s in Upstate New York and Ontario. My family rolled eyes, cringed and made paranoid comments in stage whispers. The compulsion continued and I have innumerable volumes tucked away in locked trunks and sealed envelopes on my property in An Unnamed West Coast City.
No time. Like nearly every other citizen of the modern world, I am very busy and “important.” I do not have time for this self-indulgence (even if it would improve my mental health)!
WordPress is too confusing. I believe this, but because I am so busy and “important,” I have not had time to find a good alternative.
Perfection is the enemy of the good. This one is probably self-explanatory. In me, the condition can be acute. It usually affects structure, language choice, and message. I probably do not need to mention that I also hate typo’s and misspellings, especially my own. Interestingly, I do a lot of writing in my everyday professional life and turn out a good work product without letting the pursuit of meaningless perfection rule my days.
No theme! This one is important. I love other people’s blogs and follow them. I read about writing. I read about blogging. One of the first rules about the latter is to have a theme. My head is like a tossed salad; there is no organizing theme, not even the vinaigrette is reliable. My family and friends and colleagues are similarly scattered. I think this is a problem with my writing in general. I am not exactly writing about any particular thing on a regular basis. You know, like the pretty meals I have cooked, the books I have read, my travels, or even carpools I have known and loved (or hated), being a lacrosse mom, the emptying nest, or what it is like to have a child run away (even though you know exactly where he is).
Fear of being uncovered. I really try not to write anything that would embarrass my people, but …..recently I wrote a barbed review of an evening at my home with a visiting relative. I compared our kitchen that night to a saloon and mentioned that it was my first lap dance ever. (It is well-known that I am not leading a lap dance sort of life. ) Then I emailed it to a few friends, but would be mortified if the kitchen island lap dancer, who is related to my husband, ever read it.
Not sure I like my blog name and I do not like the subtitle. Okay. I love the name, mom de guerre, because of the play on words but it is grim to the point of being a mismatch with my everyday life. As for the subtitle (“musings from the dark side of parenting”), it spilled onto the screen during a black period of child raising. I have had my nose pressed against the underbelly of parenting and it is ugly. The child who takes me there has given me permission to be open about it, but at core I am upbeat and hopeful, as well as protective of his privacy. Besides, I really do not want to wallow there even if I should. I have entertained a new blog name and maybe for my mental health I should adopt it.
The dogs need a walk, there is a load of laundry to be done, and I brought some work home. This relates to # 1. There is always something more urgent to do. I am a horrible relaxer and consider that a character flaw. I also have a 20 year long guilt streak about being a mother who works hard outside the home. Even as I write this, I am thinking about our federal taxes (due Monday), two cards I have to write, whether this is a productive way to spend an afternoon off of work, and, of course, the dishes in the sink. Oh! And did I exercise yet today (not really).
English: Ryan Jergensen bare footing on Lake Berryessa in 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am the mother of a boy who loves summer. I get it. We live in an emerald city surrounded by water and mountains. But good weather comes late, if at all, and when it does it is a golden reward for surviving the rest of the year and makes us forget the trials we endured for the reward.
The boy is now 17 years old and heading into his senior year of high school. Before this summer began, he said to me dreamily one day “what i love about summer is being on the lake or beside the lake, hanging with my boys.” One of my favorite summer photographs is of the lot of them lined up on a dock in their bright swimsuits in the early evening July light. 15 year old limbs and bravado everywhere. The confidence that the summer belonged to them and always would hung in the air. I remember that summer. Mountains of damp towels, sleeping in tangled combinations here and elsewhere. It was before they could drive.
But that is not this summer. Senior year is like a train barreling toward us on the tracks ahead. And he is being recruited for a college sport. There are three teams, one-on-one work outs with coaches, a trainer. And he is criss-crossing the country in a series of airplanes playing in “showcases”. He and his best friend have emptied their bank accounts and taken on investors to start a business: they are ice cream men. There are sober conversations between them across our kitchen island about insurance, routes, sources, and how to keep a circa 1979 U.S. Mail truck cum ice cream wagon on the road.
I wish someone had told me this last summer. I miss the damp towels.
“the weather in NC makes me miss Alabama” This is a text I received Saturday morning. A deep text – at least in the lexicon of the 17-year-old boy. My 17-year-old boy, whose texts are usually short, direct and pockmarked by a reluctance to reveal too much. Here, though, in eight words – he spills volumes of our shared family history. Because I miss Alabama too.
We live in an emerald city, trapped happily between a very large lake and an even larger body of salt water. Geographically, we are about as far from Alabama as one can get while remaining in the continental United States. Politically and temperamentally, we live even farther away. But we love Alabama. Twenty-odd years ago my in-laws retired to the granulated sugar beaches of Gulf Shores from their urbane life just outside New York City. And for a time every summer, we have sunk into Alabama’s arms. The air choked with lazy heat. Thunderstorms building angrily over the gulf. The rise and fall of the tides from Mobile Bay, filling and draining the Boggy Branch. Red clay soil. Straight dirt lanes lined with grand live oaks. The swish-swish-swish the straw of the sea grass makes in the late afternoon. Salt water as warm as a summer bath. The hurricane cycles: destruction, renewal, destruction. An occasional alligator. Fire ants. Sweet tea. Flip flops. Beach towels that never quite dry on the line. The mullet net. Crabbbing. Billy’s Seafood. The Floribama. The Galilean service Sunday mornings, sifting the sugar between our toes as we fling our voices out across the Gulf. Our annual food rituals: Granny’s table set with favorite family dishes and cooled with key lime pie. Ribs + reds. Po’ boys @ Behind the pines, Hazels all you can eat breakfast for Dad. Throwed rolls, sometimes. Lulu Buffet’s place (yes, THAT Buffett). Fried alligator. Deep fried sushi. The quiet of the boathouse and a book. Loopin’ Louie. The club all to ourselves.
These are summers past now, at least for our family. Last month, Mom and Dad shuttered Alabama and the lives we shared there to open up a new life up north, back in the heartland where they were born. “We wanted to make the decision before someone had to make it for us,” Mom wrote before she unplugged her computer for the trip ahead. A reasonable and healthy intention. For them. But we were selfishly disappointed. My husband was bitter even.
But when the text, “The weather in NC makes me miss Alabama,” pinged my iphone the other morning, I realized that the swish-swish-swish song of the Alabama coast continues to play clearly, even here in the air of an emerald city about a million miles away.