Listen up

I get quite frustrated, almost daily,
because so many things I say
aren’t heard. Little people hear selectively.
But then again: don’t we all?
That voice, the one that whispers:
“Don’t say that” “Don’t eat that”
The one I’m very, very good
at pretending I just don’t hear.
I think: if they’d just listen
it’d all be so much easier.
Guess God must think that too.

Melissa of Making Things Up is hosting Six Word Fridays, where we make things up ourselves on a suggested topic, so long as it’s in six word snippets. Today’s topic is listen. Can’t stop thinking in those snappy six words? Get yourself over to her blog and join the fun!

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Human Hat Trick

It came up the other day among my writing friends that it had been nearly a year since I finished my novel (I was wrong about that–it had actually been about nine months. But still, same general point follows). And I’ve yet to make any real headway with selling it. Nor have I been able to tackle that next novel, despite some good intentions. In fact, I’m not writing at all. Besides blog posts, obviously, and even those are rather sporadic.

We sat there in the late summer sun, our children escaping the heat in the sprinklers, pondering the passage of time and the ways in which we spend it. “I should be able to write,” I said. “I mean, all I’m doing is training for the half-marathon.”

“But that takes a lot of time,” one delightfully gracious friend offered.

“But not the same time,” I said. “I run in the mornings. I used to write at nap time. There’s no reason I can’t do both.”

“But why should you? Last year you were writing a novel. This year you’re running a marathon.”

And there it was, so simply stated, an option I’d never even considered. As a professional multi-tasker, I never do one thing at a time (as I’m writing this, I’m also shopping online for Halloween costumes, writing an email to a friend, and watching a video with the kids. Really). I imagine that I have at least a dozen hats I can wear, and why shouldn’t I wear more than one at a time? Why, one at a time–that would take FOREVER to get through. I might DIE before I got to wear them all, going at that pace.

But one thing about multi-tasking is that you never actually do any of those things well. I imagine that the email will get abondoned as draft, the Halloween windows will get closed at nightfall without a real decision, and this post, well, has honestly been in the writing since that summer day (and yes, it’s already September). Wearing one hat at a time means that I at least get to enjoy that hat, wear it well, even dress to coordinate.

I’m taking this metaphor too far, aren’t I? Bear with me, then since I’ve already marched down that path. Running now, I don’t do a lot of other forms of exercise. I eat differently–eat more, but healthier, too. I need rest during the day because I’m pushing myself so hard in other ways. It may not be that any of the time overlaps, but the life is one and the same, all stretching the limits of the same mind and body.

And yes, I might die before I wear each of those hats. I think that’s highly unlikely, but still, what if I do? The worst thing that happens is that I never get that novel sold, or the scrapbook done, etc., etc. But it also meant that while I was alive, I spent time doing one actual thing for a time, instead of little scraps of actual things. Because how demoralizing would it be to get to the end of your life and realize that all those little pieces didn’t sum to anything real at all?

So this year, the marathon. It’s rapidly approaching–only a little over a month now–and I’m already seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Ideas are coming back into my head, my thoughts returning to writing. Maybe I’ll finish that 2009 scrapbook first. Maybe I’ll be an essayist/short story writer for a little while again. Maybe I’ll use the fall cool down to perfect my muffins and stews (and get to that promised boeuf bourguignon). It’s liberating to focus on one thing at a time, especially in a world that, logistically, just requires me to multi-task whether I like it or not. And speaking of that, it’s time to spend the rest of the day with the family. Period.

Clean(ish)

I finally got myself one of this Mr. Clean magic erasers. Yep. Got all sucked in by those commercials where people are wiping off all sorts of things with just water. As someone always looking for chemically-free ( but still effective) ways to clean, it sounded perfect. To good to be true really. I fully expected to be disappointed.

Well, it certainly does have magic cleaning powers because it took the paint off my walls. Really. So either I have some funky water soluble paint, or Mr. Clean’s on steroids (which, we all must admit, would not be surprising).  After one session cleaning of our not-even-very-dirty kitchen cabinets, the eraser is a pathetically wadded mess already missing several corners. But the cabinets are clean. As is that white spot on the wall (hint: our kitchen walls are not usually white). I find it hard to believe I got suckered into buying something to clean with water when I have fifty billion rags around the house that’d do the trick, and I also find it hard to believe that it could work out so bafflingly effective and shoddy at the same time. Around here, Mrs. Clean is not amused.

Car troubles

I hate taking the car to the shop. Any car. Any shop. Any routine maintenance, or non-routine issue. It’s not because it’s a nuisance, though it almost always is. It’s because I feel like I’m always getting shafted. And not just because it’s automotive repair–which I know almost nothing about*–but because I feel like a fish out of water. Or rather, a woman in a man’s world.
There’s nothing in particular that’s left me with that opinion. Perhaps those repairmen see me just as they see men. But I feel that when I walk in there I’m the housewife, the prone to weeping subordinate to a man.
I took the car to the shop last week. It didn’t help that M determined we should all look very nice that day, and therefore I was all prettied up in a puffy skirt and dressy shirt. I dropped it off, strong as I could be, and took the kids around the shopping center for the three hours it was going to take.
What? The shopping center doesn’t sound like the most fun place to entertain two kids for three hours? Well, it was supposed to be the park for a picnic lunch, except I could find the stroller or potty for getting/staying at the nearest park. Let’s just say the day wasn’t going as swimmingly as I planned, car repair or not. But we had a picnic lunch still, a long trip to the library, and some frozen yogurt to top it off. By the time we got back to the repair shop, we had happily exhausted our stay.
Which was going to be an hour longer. At least. Because this repair guy had other priorities. Really. Those were his exact words. I seized up, feeling that down-the-nose sneer that I always thought was maybe just in my head. I argued unsuccessfully, feeling the anger quickly melting into hot tears, and then took the kids back outside to wait. Where I promptly called my husband, crying. So there. All that time spent frustrated by the stereotype I’d been judged by, only to turn into the now-tearful housewife calling her man.
My outburst caught the manager’s attention, who waited until I calmed down to inform me that he understood my frustration, agreed with my somewhat colorful assessment of his employee, and would comp us the oil change. We had a nice, adult, non-weepy conversation, then the kids and I played pleasantly until B showed up to trade cars and let me get M to his karate class and our groceries into the fridge. But no matter how successful the day was, I couldn’t help but feeling like a failure, not only to myself but to other women. I’m the reason why men see women as different, or so I felt.
At the same time, I’m glad I can be weepy sometimes, I suppose, and glad that I have a partner who can back me up when I reach the end of my rope, and glad especially that that partner doesn’t see me as any less strong because of either of those things. I’m glad I feel strongly–which is better than not feeling anything at all. It’s a strength of a different kind. Still, at the end of the day: I still hate taking the car to the shop.
*Funnily enough, in my senior year of high school, after signing up for 4 AP classes, I decided that my fifth class would be auto shop. After all, I would have enough AP credits to be nearly a junior in college, while I knew nothing about fixing a car. When I tried to sign up, though, the counselor told me that they couldn’t allow someone of my “caliber” to take auto shop. It would ruin my chances of getting into a good college, they told me. After I finished laughing, I told them that I was sure I’d be just fine taking auto shop. At which point they signed me up for journalism. Really. Because at least it was “more respectable.” I ended up trading journalism for AP Statistics (with friends, and believe it or not more interesting to me than the newspaper). But I think now: auto shop would have been worlds more useful.

Imperfect Perfection

I’m a perfectionist, always have been
the hardest thing: calling something perfect
it feels false–such a statement
but maybe if used more liberally…
perfect weather, perfect sweet-tart lemonade
perfect wake-up (K’s smiling face)
even if sleep was less so
perfect shirt–comfy, even if stained
perfect life–crazy, but wholly mine
being a perfectionist would be easy
if perfect wasn’t perfect after all. 

Melissa of Making Things Up is hosting Six Word Fridays, where we make things up ourselves on a suggested topic, so long as it’s in six word snippets. Today’s topic is perfection. Can’t stop thinking in those snappy six words? Get yourself over to her blog and join the fun!

While you were here

It occurs to me, now, that I probably should let people know that I’m taking a little blog posting vacation, before I actually take said blog posting vacation. But that requires thoughtful foresight. Apparently my brain went on vacation first. So two weeks, give or take, for me to get myself rested, enjoy the kids a little more than usual, and gather lots of fodder for my return. Like, say, stories about strawberry ranch and the three-year-old’s version of Simon Says, copious amounts of sweat and the joy of a brand-spanking-new iPhone. Those kinds of stories. All in good time, friends, all in good time.

No wishes for me

I spend too much time wishing
for things I can’t have, mostly
The kids to stop growing up
the house to stay clean indefinitely
triple chocolate anything with negative calories
time enough to do it all

They break my heart, these wishes
because they are so very impossible
It seems the nature of wishes
to want something we cannot have

So today: no wishes for me

Instead I’ll think of other things
things I have already, wish-free
two beautiful children, growing up happy
a house I love, at last
Room enough, or too many blessings
Time to stay home, to enjoy
to cuddle in bed, to laugh
to be outside, to be inside
to be with people I love.

Six Word FridaysMelissa of Making Things Up is hosting Six Word Fridays, where we make things up ourselves on a suggested topic, so long as it’s in six word snippets. Today’s topic is wishing. Can’t stop thinking in those snappy six words? Get yourself over to her blog and join the fun!