Sunday, December 26, 2010

Letter from 60-year-old Me

Dear 35-year-old Me,

I hope you really enjoyed the past few days of stuffing your face and lazing about with family over the Christmas holiday. As the new year approaches, you will find yourself making the same day-to-day choices you have been confronted with for several years now, but do me a favor. Please consider MY well-being as you make these choices.

Now before tear you down a bit, I feel obligated to mention that I completely understand the stress you've been under lately; after all, I literally walked in your shoes 25 seemingly short years ago. But here's a news flash you may want to consider: as you age, you will not necessarily find life LESS stressful. Many things are coming your way that will push you even further, testing your will and your patience. So rather than just viewing this as a hard time that will pass, see it as a plateau where you can rest, catch your breath, and prepare for anything. We both know that preparing, making plans, following through with tasks that require consistent self-discipline--these areas have not always been your strong suit. But a little structure now will benefit ME, and my interests should be of great importance to you.

Here is a simple list for you to consider--a starting point, of sorts. First, set some goals in every area of your life. I don't want to give anything away, and the future is not set in stone yet, but you should probably consider some health-related goals, for instance. I strongly recommend attaining a respectable level of fitness, strength, and flexibility NOW, while you still have that relatively young body to work with. Even meeting some minimum recommendations will suit me fine, just please, make a few improvements and for the love of God, DON'T let it get worse. Trust me, you want to be able to play on the floor with your grandkids, and you would LOVE the option of wearing a bathing suit in public. Which brings me to my next point...

Finances. I would love to wear said bathing suit on a beach, on a vacation, or even better yet, on a vacation taken during retirement. I do NOT want to teach for another six to ten years, so at the very least, make sure that my retirement is taken care of. If your current financial situation does pick up (and I'm not saying it will or won't!) PLEASE remember the lessons you've learned over the past two years. I like to think of myself as a wise woman, so don't make a fool of me.

Finally, nurture your relationships. Send emails, cards, notes, make phone calls. Keep up the date nights, the mother-daughter days, play-time with the twins. Make an effort to hug and visit your parents and sisters more often. And the advice you could use most right now? Make some time for yourself. You're creative, you'll figure out when and how. The writing is a good start--don't stop. Find a few more outlets like this and I'll be a well-adjusted lady.

I realize these are basic areas of life that I hardly need to mention, but they are gifts that I want more than anything, and only you can give them to me. YOU get to determine so much of who I am, how I feel, and what I have in my life. All I can give you in return is a bit of direction, and a couple detailed scenarios to choose from. As you read this, do you picture me lumbering about, winded, pasty, and disheveled, exhausted by life and constantly frazzled? Am I lonely and unsettled, with few options ahead of me? Or am I chic, trim, and energized, with a sense of calm and a youthful spark, looking joyously forward to years I will share with loved ones? Which do you think I'd RATHER be?

It's up to you, in so many ways. Don't forget it.

 60-year-old Me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Still a kitten.

My big, fat, devious, 10+ year old cat Kitty is still a kitten at heart. Right now she is having a blast batting around a tiny Happy Meal toy kitten around on the floor next to me. When I peek over the edge of my chair and make eye contact with her, she stops, her pupils gigantic, her tail twitching, and she gives me a look that says, "What?" When I go back to ignoring her, she waits a beat, then resumes her play. It's completely endearing.

Every now and then, I surprise myself with my own kitten-esque moments. I know I'm not the most serious adult in the world--and I do deeply admire and envy serious adults--but these flashes of youthful abandonment can be alarmingly juvenile. Ridiculous thoughts slide in and take hold. Tempting white lies squirm into my mind, shaping and disguising themselves as possible truths. Inappropriate comments meant to shock bubble to the surface and sometimes break through. I fall prey to girlish fits of giggling, gossiping, being too rude, too loud, too raunchy, too wild-eyed, too attention-seeking...then a pointed look, a disapproving glance from an observer will be met with my "What?" look. What? Why can't I just be THIS once in a while? What??? But more often than not, I'm staring in the mirror. The reproachful gaze comes from the version of me who tries to be a serious adult and is shamed by my ridiculous weakness, my immature bursts of failure.

So I am kitten less and less. I channel my oh-so-un-adult tendencies into proper, acceptable moments of play with my kids, my niece, my nephews. I get seriously goofy with them in the hopes that I will be able to restrain the silliness elsewhere. I'm not sure how well I disguise my true nature, though.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

One. More. Week.

Confession: I think I was a lil bit tipsy when I wrote last night's blog entry, surprise. Now I'm back to less-than-thrilling reality, wondering how I'm going to muddle through one more week, including a yearbook deadline, before break. Ughhhhhhhhh. Then break will fly by, and the one-two punch of January/February will sock me right in the gut.

Plus, our "try to live off one teacher salary" plan is now in effect, so tomorrow we will be relegated to basic basic cable. I'm enjoying one more night of flipping through stupid channels I don't need, then I'll probably miss them for no good reason. Iron Chef, wah wahhh. House Hunters, wah wah wahhhhhh. Oh, well. I will be so proud of us if we can pull off this financial feat.

Maybe I shouldn't blog on Sunday nights. They are just dreadful. My head throbs with pessimistic grumblings, no good, no good.

So, gooood night.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I feel floaty and content, and not just because of the vodka-laced cherry limeade, the strawberry margarita, and the knock-out strong cosmo that I slurped down this evening...though they contributed to this state of being, I'm sure. But let's look into the factors that made my evening pleasant.

First, Lauren and her friend cheerily agreed to babysit so Andy and I could finally go see the latest Harry Potter movie. I don't think the kids even cried when we left. The only "payment" Lauren asked for was having her darling friend over to help babysit. Before any of this happened, Lauren cleaned the kitchen without complaining once. Sweet, sweet daughter.

Then there's Andy, who agreed to alter our evening plans because he knew I didn't want to be out as late as originally planned. He didn't complain about that OR about the fact that I took a little too long to get ready. He complemented me when I finally emerged, ready to go. At the movie, he agreed to my menu selections and let me pick the seats. We just had fun together. Awesome.

Over the course of the night, every time we needed to pay for something I had a little stash of cash right there courtesy of my parents, who still slip me some moola every time we see them. It does make for a nice treat, especially when times are a little tough. I feel like a kid again thanks to them.

Leaving the movie, we ran into some dear friends from Hays, so we stopped for drinks and conversation. Meeting up with people you've known for that long is such a source of warmth and reassurance. They are solid, down to earth, funny--it was an unexpected pleasure to see them.

The Harry Potter movie was, of course, amazing. I usually dread visits to movie theaters, but Harry Potter crowds are special. With them, I sense a current of camaraderie that adds to the magic on the screen. We all know Harry; we all root for house elves.

Finally, I got to come home to a warm house on a frigid night and feel thankful for every simple pleasure I have.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tonight, tonight.

So last night I wrote for the first time in a long time, and it felt pretty good. Made me start thinking back to other activities I used to do all the time, and now miss. Ahhh, yeah, I feel another list coming on now...
1. Listening to music. Turned UP. LOUD. Feeling the bass thump in my chest. Alone, with a buddy, in the car, in the house by myself, headphones, radio, scratchy vinyl record. Smashing Pumpkins, Blind Melon, Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Nine Inch Nails, the White Stripes, the Black Crows, Soul Coughing, Soul Asylum, GNR, STP, UO, the Killers, Foo Fighters, Nirvana...hell, I think I'll go get my iPod right now.

This leads me to............

2. Dancing. People should dance MORE as they age, yet most of us quit. Shame on us. Some of my favorite memories involve dancing. Those Polish wedding dances full of sweet little kids with their dress shoes kicked off spinning around, avoiding wobbly drunk uncles, laughing, leaping, twirling, giggling. In college, visiting the Home in Hays nearly every damn night of the week. We danced for HOURS and I don't remember a single blister. Sober or drunk, in a cluster of girlfriends or up close with a love interest, I danced. Now my dancing happens in a sunny living room with a toddler's arms clutching me around the neck (and often the other toddler latching on to my leg). No complaints--this type of dancing is too sweet for words--except we probably don't do this often enough, either.

3. Yoga. My yoga phase was incredibly short, but amazing. It really did transform my body and my mind. When practiced with a competent instructor, yoga paid off with real results every single time I practiced it. I went from a dubious crouched toe touch attempt, schlumping forward with no hope of reaching my feet, to a graceful full-body bend with my legs straight and my hands flat on the floor. And it felt great. I was STRONG. Damn, yoga, I miss you!

4. Sister weekends/sister-mom weekends. We MUST bring these back! Just getting away with my favorite girls on the planet is SUCH a huge treat, yet distance, financial strain, and babies have put the brakes on sister weekends for now. NOT COOL. I hope we can make up for this lull with amazing trips a few years down the road. I also miss our gigantic long phone calls.

5. I was going to follow up the sister weekend point with "date night", but I have to admit, we were never good at starting a date night tradition in the first place. We always just brought Lauren along, and it always felt strange to go out without her. So instead of missing date nights, I miss "family dates". Going out to eat without constant interruptions from screaming children, trying different restaurants...I'm sure this is one of the first traditions we'll reinstate once the economy stops kicking our butts. Ditto for family vacations.

That's it? Not bad, once I write it out, I guess. After all, I can easily start my own yoga regimen. I can remedy the music issue, though I suspect I've let it go by the wayside in part because my frazzled nerves can't handle too much extra noise nowadays. Is this how we realize we're growing up, growing older, changing? Life is a casting off--this Death of a Salesman line runs through my mind--but it's probably good to ponder what we're casting off, what we're keeping, and why it is so.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Can't peel my ass off the couch.

I'm too tired to go to bed right now, so I'm fiddling around on the internet. For some reason I stumble onto some blogs. I read about the red paperclip guy up in Canada who used the power of blogging to trade his paperclip for a house. I read a bit of Julia Sweeney's blog--I think she's mostly famous for being "Pat" on SNL years ago. At this point, I realize that I've been ignoring every artistic bone in my body, and I feel great shame for not even attempting to write, draw, paint, sculpt, perform...all of the things I loved to do as a kid. I decide I should write more. Write more, write more often, write more of what I'm thinking, write more about the world. So I have a blog now. Yep.


What's on my mind, anyway? It's usually cluttered with survival notes. WORK! HOME! IBS HELL! MONEY ANXIETY! Good grief, how about something more refined? Something less self-obsessed?

Alright. Notes on the world, it is, then.

1. ICT Rollergirls' pin-up calendar. Saw this on FB today. I am convinced that every single one of these women must be THE coolest person that each of her friends knows.

2. Monkey Spunk. This is the name of the band that has won the battle of the bands at our school for the past three years or so. I can just think of everyone saying it casually around the school, over the intercom, etc., and crack up. "Congratulations to Monkey Spunk!" Indeed.

3. Waffles. Delish.

4. Wendy pic. Read a great little story in O magazine about a self-taught 17-year-old photographer who has been winning awards for her work, including a photo illustration depicting Wendy from Peter Pan about to fly out her window. Can't get it out of my head.

5. Joan Rivers. Still hilarious. Caught her on the Fashion Police the other night, and she was shocking everyone with her bold wit, but they could NOT resist laughing. I have no idea how old Joan is at this point. She reminds me of one of those creepy hard-faced marionette dolls, thanks to an artistically gifted staff of plastic surgeons who MUST be at her beck and call.

6. Politics and world events. This is an area I feel obligated to include in this particular list. But honestly, I've been pretty tuned out for a while now, and I care, but I just can't stick with it all. I've forced myself to watch a couple of pundits from each side of the spectrum, and I flip the channel after less than five minutes of their ranting. John Stewart/Steven Colbert are the best I can do, and even they have been losing out to Chelsea Lately.

I have written something now, ahh. Now to repeat at some point...

Goodnight, blog-land.