Tuesday, December 31, 2013


And I don't mean the carpet cleaner, neither. Though we've been using plenty of that the past two days.*

I'm writing this post for people who, as the year closes, find themselves surrounded by New Year's resolution-list-making-fools.

Here's the thing: I don't believe in resolutions.  Not really.  At least, not the ambiguous ones like, "work out more," "spend less," "learn to let go."  Sure...  Tell me how that works out for you.

See, in my professional life, we teach folks that goals have to be incremental, achievable, and measurable in order for them to be "good" goals.  Good goals would be things like, "work out once or more per week," "save $100 per month for vacation spending."  

If you don't define them like that, the bar is insanely low (I worked out ONCE this year, which was more than last year!) or completely un-check-offable.  Like "learn to let go." Ugh.  Just...  Ugh.

That's one of those twee-meant-to-be-empowering sentiments, like "live life out loud!" and "learn to put myself first sometimes." These are things that, to me, feel like an awful-behavior excuse cloaked in a credo. "Sorry you want me to read you a story, sweetie -- Mama's gotta go to the bar again 'cause I'M PUTTING MYSELF FIRST LIKE I'M SUPPOSED TO!' 

Where was I?  Oh, right...

Lists don't work for me. Resolution lists feel like my online shopping experiences at Gap.com.  I fill my cart with everything I could possibly imagine wearing.  Then, I look at the thirty-three items and the $800 tally and think, "Okay, these two things.  These are all I really need."

Vision boards? Those just seem like arts & crafts projects.  Putting a picture of the Eiffel tower on a cork board is not going to get me to Paris. Honestly, just ask my freshman-year roommate at Georgetown.  There I was, at my #1 choice of school, thrilled to be there.  My mind was challenged and engaged by my courses, and I fell in with a pack of theater nerds who had *also* watched Monty Python's oeuvre in its entirety. Joy! And my roommate?  Lovely girl, but absolutely dolorous over the fact that she hadn't been able to go to Oxford (because she didn't want to take the extra year to do her A-levels and fall behind her friends, year-wise).  So, in what struck me as a particularly effusive sour grapes episode of vision-boarding, she papered her side of the cinder block dorm cube with postcards of Cambridge.  Which she also did not attend.

My point is, the wish lists are the easy part for me.  The challenge is wanting something enough to create a blue print for how to get from the wanting to the having.  Not that my blue prints are solid.  Nope.  My blue prints generally look like Georges Seurat painted them.  Step back about twenty feet and I can see what's happening.  Up close though?  Kind of a dotty mess. That's OK, though, because ultimately, if I can see the whole picture, then I'm probably going to achieve it.  

At any given time, I have blue prints for two or three goals that fall outside of my ongoing goals to be a kind wife, mother, and maintain gainful employment (all interrelated, of course).  Because, honestly?  That's all that fits in my wee brain space. 

Here are my current goals (okay, fine, its a list, but I swear that I actually have blue prints and outlines and quite possibly footnotes for each):

1) Publish a short story.  Not self-published, and not through my current employer.  But through some sort of third-party:  a periodical, an anthology, a contest.  I'm hungry for that validation.

2) Work with my brothers/sisters to clear out and sell our parents' home.  There's no urgency to this since my parents were totally fiscally awesome and owned their home and left an unfathomable estate that will cover the expenses of maintaining it for awhile.  But as long as we have that home in our names, I feel a cloud hanging over us.  It doesn't offer comfort. It offers work, and sadness, and a huge blog post in which I sift through all of the feels I have about it.  Which leads me to...

3) Blog weekly.  I stopped doing this in 2013.  I know why.  My learning technique, my processing technique, is to write it down.  Always has been.  And I did not want to process this year.  I wanted to be numb.  I wanted to fold up the sadness, the missing, the hurting, into a neat little origami crane and stuff it way, way, way down where maybe it would just disappear and I wouldn't ever have to actually go through any of those feelings.  Unfortunate side effect to trying not to feel things:  it blocks up all of your other creative flow.  So that novel I've been working on for two years?  I'm only just finishing it. And oh, the editing it will need.  But the more-regular blogging will hopefully clear the blockage.

*My youngest and my husband either came down with a stomach virus procured at one of the fine rest stops along the Cleveland to Baltimore highways and byways, or should not have eaten that many of my reduced fat potato chips during the Ravens-Bengals game on Sunday.  It's kind of a toss up.  GET IT?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

So Stupid (Holiday Edition)

I'm only two Christmas cards into my list of approximately eleven thousand (because, big family) and I've already shed my first tears.  I brilliantly decided to combine my holiday missives with my thank-yous to those who reached out to me via cards, e-mails, or visits when my Dad died.

And by brilliant, I mean stupid.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Time to go medicate with some red wine, I guess.  But before I do, I should note that I have no expectations for this season.  I will put on my game face, and I do have some lovely visits and celebrations planned to which I am unabashedly looking forward.  And,I  know that I will enjoy them.  But there will be moments when the reality surfaces, like styrofoam in water, that I am an orphan. That my parents are gone, and that the family norm must once again be re-set.

So, if I need to disappear...  If I need some quiet time... If I spend an excessive time in the bathroom...  Please know that it's not personal.  Or outrageous bowel trouble.  I just need some time to gather myself before I return in good humor and smiles.