Story time.

Linking up with my favorite Friday people today. The theme?

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I just got off the phone with my sister. We slipped into our easy conversations about food and planning for Thanksgiving and who will bring the potatoes. It’s what we do.

And my other sister, well I had to leave her a message. This did not deter me as I left a long, rambling message that involved me singing Stevie Wonder. Nothing too abnormal here.

My sisters and I don’t spend too much time with story-telling. We chatter on about what’s going on right now, bits and pieces of information. Mostly, we tell each other our to-do lists so the other one can commiserate and offer to bring the potatoes.

We don’t tell each other stories, because we know each other so well. Who wants to listen to a story when you can finish the other person’s sentence? Where’s the suspense in that? It’s like when I check out a book at the library, only to find I’ve read it once before. As I travel the pages I start to feel that weird deja vu, and then, it hits me: Scandalous Love is a page-turner, yes, but I already know the ending. He runs off with her and they are fabulous. And in love.tumblr_n2i1d5NmqY1r37w3co8_500.jpgOk. Granted, I didn’t really read Fabulous Love. Like, ever. Not really my genre.

ANYWAY.

Sometimes I wonder… don’t we need to ask, every once in a while…

“Hey. What’s your story?”

Even my sisters, who lived part of my story with me, don’t know it all. And I don’t know theirs.

A story can shift and change and it doesn’t end until we do. Do we really ever bother to ask? Is that just too hard or uncomfortable? Or weird, perhaps. Might be a bit weird. And I do love my chatter with my sisters. It’s comfortable, and we laugh a lot, and it’s easy. Story-telling isn’t so easy. It takes a comfy chair and a good sit down and time. It takes time.

But, I wonder. What if we asked for stories more?

What is your story? We all have one. And they’re all important.

 

 

 

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I’m Mad.

I found out yesterday that a friend in recovery died. He relapsed, and was found in his car, covered in vomit, in the fetal position. Dead.

I know this is not how you start a blog post. I guess. But I don’t really care.

He was young, and he had boys, and he had a smile that lit up the room.

And he’s dead.

Last Sunday I was helping in the yard, and it was hot. I had been working with the hubs and the boys for hours. The sound of the lawnmower hummed in the background as I pruned and weeded and raked. It was a glorious spring day.

And I was mad. I was mad at the grass and the fact that it made me itchy and that we had run out of bags and that my rose bushes had the audacity to have thorns.

I was mad at our blackberry vine because it needed to be cut back and I was mad at it for that. I was mad at my boys for giggling.

I was mad at the sun for being so hot.

As it happens, others around me felt the madness. This is always the way. Mad doesn’t like to be quiet or sit by itself, so, logically, I got mad at Brian.

I think it was because of the way he asked me about lunch. His tone was wrong and I got mad about that. And he blinked at me a bit which also made me mad and then I stomped inside because I was also mad, it seems, at the ground.

And then I did this:

I said, through gritted teeth: “God I don’t know why, but I am TICKED OFF. Please. Help. Grant me the serenity, Ok? Oh, I don’t even WANT to say the rest of it! I’m SO MAD.”

And then I stood there and waited for some sort of God miracle of goodness and light to come fix it. No such miracle. My dog circled my feet a few times but I felt no better. Still mad.

“Fine. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the FREAKING DIFFERENCE I AM STILL MAD.”

And, as usually happens after the serenity prayer, I stood still with my feelings, and turned them over in my hands, just for a moment. And as I turned them, I saw what I was mad about.

I wanted to take my husband a beer.

Back in the olden days, when I drank, on hot summer days I used to always take the hard working yard husband a beer. This meant, I was a good wife.

It also meant I was ok with beer- it was a harbinger of good will and slaking thirst after hard work in the sun. It was like all those Bud Light commercials with hikers enjoying a beer at the summit because beer is the next thing to Gatorade. It’s got wheat in it. IT’S GOOD FOR YOU.

And that beer that I brought to the husband also meant, evidently this past Sunday, that I was still very much an alcoholic. Because? It had taken up a whole lot of head space and had drug along with it a whole lot of negativity and emotions that don’t really belong anywhere near me anymore.

So, I realized all that in the kitchen on a hot Sunday. And I had to smile because every once in a while I try to tell myself that I am really ok. That surely I’m not an alcoholic. That I’m probably just fine… And that memory of that beer made it all very clear.

I walked out to the husband who was now trying to fix something broken in the garage. I stood in front of him, and said, “I’m sorry.”

He tilted his head to side, all labrador retriever-ish, and said, “Why? What did you break?” And I thought, he doesn’t even realize I was being a putz earlier. I should leave now.

But instead I said this:

I wanted to bring you a beer. I remember how I used to do that. And a part of me wishes I could still do it. We used to do fun things like that.

And he said,

Well,  I miss it too, a little. But not all that much. And we do lots of other fun things now, that we never could have done before. So that’s better.

I totally don’t deserve him. Also, he will make me mad again and he won’t nearly be as cool about it as he was in this post, I promise you. But for now, he said the perfect thing.

I hugged him, and spoke into his sweaty tshirt that smelled like cut grass, “I am so an alcoholic.”

He didn’t answer because I think he was realizing this was one of those Dana moments where it is very very much about my self-therapy, but I’m pretty sure he was thinking,

DAMN STRAIGHT YOU ARE.

So there was all that therapy last Sunday. Because of the sound of a lawn mower and some sun rays.

And then my friend, Jesse dies.

And I guess? I am still mad. Not mad anymore at the wrong people or the memories of long ago, or my own tangled brain.

I know who I’m mad at now. And today my anger feels like a loaded gun.

I hate you, alcohol.

That’s all. Thanks for listening.

Momsie’s Annual Top-Ten Thankfuls!

Here’s what you have been waiting for, all year!!!!! I know you have. Me too.

Gratitude is the best reset button EVER. I belong to a facebook group where we post, every day, five gratitudes, and did you know? Every time I do it, I feel better. Even on the no good, very bad, worstest days ever. Gratitude is a multi-vitamin for the soul, I tell you.

So, here goes. My annual Thanksgiving Day Top Ten Thankfuls:

(In no particular order, because I’m doing this right after I had some coffee and a Clariton and I am totally squirreled out right now):

  1. Squirrel One and Squirrel Two. Might as well keep it in the rodent family right now. img_57831
  2. Also, of course, head squirrel, the hubster:

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4. Lemon Bars. I know. Kinda random. But really? Everything has been all pumpkin spice all over the place and I’m so over it. Let’s start a new thing – Lemon Bar Season! It could happen.

5.  That The Force Awakens did not rely on bad CGI and there was no Jar Jar in it.

6. My mom’s oyster dressing. I know that I mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.

7. That Black Friday will be over soon.

8. This guy:IMG_5652He has hopes that one day he will be able to FIT in that box. But, as he keeps getting fatter, and the box stays the same, I admire his optimism.

9: This:

 

10: Also, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  And he is good.

Amen?

Amen.

 

Bonus #11:

Sober Momsie. I just am who I am supposed to be when I don’t have alcohol in me. I operate better.

I know, some would say, “Really?” But, if you knew me before you would not argue, believe me.

 

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

There is no “Oh no we’re not” in ‘Team’

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Walking Night. Stay tuned.

Linking up with my happy place: Five Minute Friday.

Today’s theme:

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Well… of course it is.

Ok, here’s the story:

I still haven’t posted my kids’ back to school pictures yet. This is kind of against nature and I am very sorry. Every mom knows that is it the LAW that those pictures get posted on the facebooks, pronto, and here I am, still just trying to make sure they’re fed and in clean underwear before they head out the door.

So, last night was Walking Night. It’s this Thing that the labrador-retriever husband came up with to help us Stay in Shape and Be a Family, all at the same time. We are a Team, after all. We go out and walk together. Or, rather, the boys shoot off on their bikes, like little nutball savages, while the husband and I, who mainly operate like ships in the night, walk and talk.

It’s better to be ships in the day, I guess.

Sometimes we even hold hands. Like ships in love.

Anyhow. LAST night I also wanted to Take it Up a Notch, by adding devotionals to the whole thing. I like to Take it Up a Notch whenever possible because my life is not chaotic or jam-packed enough and this whole Notch business seems to fulfill some basic need in me to be basically Perfect.

Ok, I’m just gonna stop with the capitals thing now. It’s Annoying, isn’t it?

So. I had my devotional all ready. And it went like this:

Both boys were instructed to take a tube of toothpaste and squeeze it out, which they did with some glee. The Blonde informed me right away, however, that this was a terrible waste of money. I just love him. He is so like his momma.

Then, I said, in my church lady voice:

“So, boys, now I want you to put the toothpaste back IN the tube.”

I then made the very overused, this whole toothpaste gag has been so done before thing, analogy that once your words are out there you can’t put them back. It’s not actually a BAD analogy by any means. I had figured that since we were starting up school again and that they might, well, hear stuff and say stuff because school is basically the Child Thunderdome where they learn interesting concepts like “fart train” and such, that this whole toothpaste thing would be memorable and important.

Oh, and it was. It was really, really memorable, y’all.

It started when Red, who was playing with his toothpaste like it was fingerpaint, decided to paint his brother’s face with the gooey stuff. I laughed. Brother laughed. It was all good clean minty fun, right? Learning moment. It was a learning moment! And then Blonde followed suit with some of his gooey stuff, and that’s when the screaming started.

You see, gentle reader, toothpaste is MINTY.

Minty + eyeballs = screaming.

Let me provide you with a short re-enactment:

Red: OH NOOO MY EYES MY EYESSSSS THE PAIN THE PAINNNN!!

Blonde: NOOOO MAKE IT STOP MAKE IT STOP MY EYEBALLS ARE ON FIRRREEEEEEEE!

Red: I AM DYING! AS WE SPEAK RIGHT HERE  JUST GONNA DIE. FROM DEVOTIONALS!

Blonde: MOTHER I WILL NEVER DO DEVOTIONALS AGAIN! BAD! BAD!

Both: AS GOD IS MY WITNESS, I WILL NEVER DO DEVOTIONALS AGAIN!

 

And that was my first try at family devotionals.

Toothpaste: 1

Devotionals: 0

 

We will try again. We will fight the good fight. We’re like the military. We never leave anyone behind.

Also, we flipping MINTY FRESH.

We are minty team, and as I have explained, numerous times to both boys: We are all stuck with each other, I’m sorry, but you can’t just go live with another family.

But next time devotionals will involve four pounds of M and M’s, soft music, and maybe the Care Bears.

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I’ll Be Right Here.

You guys. Soccer moms have it really tough.

I am laying on the couch. Mainly because soccer is outside, and I am never going outside again. There’s pollen out there.  I can no longer deal, I tell you. Watching your little ones push a ball back and forth for an hour amidst vicious attack pollen is KILLING me.

And then, I remembered:

Television. Television fixes everything.

Also: Great Happy Fuzzy Memories, y’all, Netflix is KILLING me.

But in a good way.

 

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1982. I saw this movie with my friend Josie McGlaughlin. I can distinctly remember coming home afterwards, walking into my bedroom and laying down on my bed. The windows were open. It was a summer evening with that magical, slow warm glow that summer evenings do so well. And I laid there, staring at the fluttering curtains, reliving every moment from that movie. Something in it seemed to peel something apart in me. It was just that magical. And yet, just that real.

I can’t really explain what happens when my creative heart dives into something inspiring. It’s like the first time I saw U2 in concert. Or when I first caught Anne Lamott reading from Bird by Bird on CNN Books (yes, I watch CNN Books. A lot. Don’t judge.) Or when I read Alan Rickman’s goodbye letter to his character, Snape, and the Harry Potter movie series.

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Oh guys. This post got all sad. It’s just that, it seems to me, this year hasn’t been fair. Too many deaths of too many bright creative souls. Some of our best storytellers are gone.

And so, the movie E.T.

I was going to watch this movie with my boys. I really was. But they had all headed out for a bike ride because they are annoyingly energetic and they no fear of killer pollen. So, I eyed E.T. waiting for me so patiently in my Netflix cue…I thought I might wait…

Nope. I pushed play. And right there, on my couch, I experienced the five stages of grief as I watched Elliot deal with the terrifying backyard garage. As he freed the frogs and kissed the girl. As he sobbed over E.T.s shriveled, lifeless body.

And as he soared.

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I see the movie now from the eyes of Elliot’s tired mom, finding her way as a single mom with two small kids. Oh, and with an extra terrestrial who has taken up camp in her kid’s closet.

Ya’ll. I’m not gonna lie. The ugly cry happened.

Hosmer, the dog not the player, was the only witness. I think at one time he got up, fetched a tissue, and brought it over. It was just that bad.

E.T. is amazing because it has great heart. And it offers all of us hope, even as we’re sobbing at the end, because E.T. does have to go home.

We know. We know. He has to go home.

When Robin Williams died, I cried. Philip Seymour Hoffman too. I fell in love with Hoffman’s work when he played the nervous, young screenwriter in David Mamet’s awesome movie, State and Main. I found too much of me in Hoffman’s naivete. The crying? It felt a little silly, I guess. I had only known these artists through their work. But they are creative types, and, so, we are linked. They put their work out there for us, and it fed my soul.

David Bowie. Prince. Joey Feek. Glenn Frey. Pat Conroy. Merle Haggard. Michelle McNamara. All have gone home.

And I guess I needed a good cry about it. And, to be comforted, at the movie’s end with its soundtrack that swells in triumph, and hope, that these creative souls’ music and movies and passion and heart, are all still just reminding us,

“I’ll be right here.”

 

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First born.

Linking up with my beloved Five Minute Friday today.

The theme?

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This morning I prayed for my boy, my first born.

This is because I am super spiritual.

Most days I am so spiritual, if I was a baseball team, I would be in the World Series of Spiritual. #TeamJesus! All the way!

Ok… Um. This is not the truth.

#TeamJesus has it in His contract that we are to attempt honesty in all our affairs, but most of you know me enough to realize… I am being a bit sarcastic. Just a bit.

Sarcasm helps me process. It is my way to butter the dry toast of life.

Anyhow, here was my prayer:

“Lord. I cannot. I just don’t know. I am at a total loss. My kid. We are not WORKING. Help me. Please.”

Ok, I am on a slippery slope here. I love to write about my boys, my family, but also: one day, you know? He’s gonna read this post and just sigh at me. “MOM, cut that out.”

So, I’m just gonna say this: I  think this parenting thing is too hard. And I can’t do it very well. And I am confused, and I feel like I have to go to the library and check out a bunch of parenting books. Like, ALL of them. Books like: “So,  Your Children, Huh? Driving You Nuts?” And, “What To Expect When They Are Nuts,” And, “Kids: No Matter What You Try They Will Make You Nuts.”

I know. After I carry all these books (Keyword: “nuts”), so many that the librarian will look at me with pity,  I’ll read them all and take notes, use post its, maybe fill up a notebook or two, and still, STILL not do it right.

Nuts.

My first born. He came into my life right on time, right on his due date. He slams up against my personality lately. He does so because, well…

He is exactly like me. We are nuts.

And first thing, in the morning, I pray: “Don’t let me screw this up. He is precious. He is driving me crazy. I have to get this right.

But you know? I don’t think that’s a #TeamJesus prayer, really.  It’s more like terrified scatter shot, all panicked and hoping  for a direct hit. These are more like a prayers… to me. To take this all over. And fix it. Because that’s how we operate, my first born and me. We are in control.

Except when we’re not.

My prayers, first thing, need to life my hands up to the One who has got this all. He is my Father, after all. He knows best. I can go ahead and read the fifteen parenting books next to my bed, but at the end of the day, I need to read the bible too. And realize who the Great Author is, recognize that He wants us to parent as He does. And go from there.

By the way, ask a  seven year old to give up control, and watch his little brain start shooting out sparks.

Ask a 40 something year old momma to do the same? She should NOT be sparking. She has age on her side. A lot of age. If she starts sparking she might just set herself on fire, and she’s too old for that nonsense.

I got a lot to learn. I love my boy. But my prayers should be this:

“Lord, change me. Use me. And, I give you ME. Also, I give you my boy. My first born. He is precious to me. And he is Yours.”

“Help. Please. And thank You.”

Can I hear an amen?

Parenting is so hard. It is SO hard. And control freaks find it so mind boggling that often times? We rev up to nutball to FIX it all. Today? I’m going to fix my heart on Jesus, who is my first love.

And I’m gonna love on the idea that in my weakness, my LACK of “firstness” I make more room for His strength.

Oh, thank You. team-jesus