Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The vital things that are keeping me from blogging...

Sister K: Whatcha doin?

Me: readin stuff. pretending I'm accomplishing things. sweating. taking an actual shower (and recovering for 6 hours). hating commercials where furniture sings.

Y' know, the usual. ...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Because I'm up...

and if I see one more freaking Lunesta commercial, I might have to murder my t.v.

So, I may be a tad bit early (Shocker!!), but I'm getting my Theme Thursday up while I'm thinking of it.

As the wedding wheel starts to spin in earnest - guest lists and licenses and passports, oh my! - I find out just how much there is to be done. This week's project was the Save the Date cards. First, let's talk about how the whole idea of Save the Date-s is perhaps more understood by younger generations. My Nana was there as we went through the options, and was horrified that Sister J wasn't just going to call up everyone, or bump into them sometime soon, and just tell them when the wedding is going to be. "Why would they spend that kind of money?!?!" and "Well, that's ri-dicu-lous! Somebody should take your money away from you!" were two of the more supportive things she said. I totally took one for the team, there: stepped up to my Maid-of-Honor duties and distracted her right quick. Let her tell me all about the good old days of weddings where 25 people were invited and you just yelled down the street "Hey, I'm getting married..." and people showed up. (Honestly, I love good old days stories, but I think sometimes she's just making crap up...)

Anyways.

The Save the Dates are 1 step from being completed: the whole, finding somewhere we can afford to have them made step. But they're all designed, and pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself: unique and totally the couple! Before we wound up there, however, I spent a good 2 hours working on some variation of the image I'm posting for today's theme: Fade. (We wound up doing something drastically different... it would be really great if my sister the bride could MAKE A DECISION AND STICK TO IT!!!)

Here's a draft of Option B: I would have edited the people in the background out (we did in a different, similar pic), but she'd changed her mind by that point, so why bother? I still like it.... I hope you do to.

Here's Sister J and her Fiance, walkin off into the sunset....




Head on over to Picture This for more Theme Thursdays!

Making myself hit 'publish...'


I read other people's blogs and sometimes I feel like a real phony. Because everything they're saying seems so real, so true, so honest, and I know I'm not as open as that. Are there things that they can't say? Things that they don't say?

Because there are things that go unwritten, things in my heart that I feel uncomfortable putting up here ... not that you all aren't the sweetest & most supportive bunch of commenters ever, but for various reasons.


Because I'm afraid that someday, eventually, my family will find this page, and what I've said could hurt them. Or me. Or our relationships.

Because I'm not good at confrontations ---

(Oh, if only you knew how uncomfortable just the thought of them makes me... I have never been in a fight, or around a fight - verbal, particularly, with painfully poisonous arrows being flung about, back and forth, at the exact wrong/right, most tender spot - without feeling like I had to throw up. And sometimes, actually throwing up.) It has a lot to do with the house I've grown-up in, my parents, their parents, a whole bunch of family junk, but I just have issues with confrontation - with tension and atmospheric unease, dislike, hatred. Even when I have to discuss something about serious with someone, when I know there's no other choice, the air in my throat turns heavy and dense, as if it's stuck there, unable to go in any further or come back out. And my mouth suddenly gets too wet - like when you're sick (or drunk, I've heard) and get the swallows. I. Am. Not. Good. At. Tension.)

---- so there are things I don't say here, in the hopes of making this, not particularly a happy place, just not an unhappy place - not just for me, as I care that y'all like it here too, but mostly for me. Because I live in a tense house, a tense situation, with a chronic illness that makes me feel as my world can change at any moment - most often, not in a positive way - and so, I've needed this place... just to be... content.

Other times, I don't write because I think of what I want to say, and then... I can't think of a way to say it. Even when I want to talk about things that are hard - like my father, or why I'm so angry with my Nana about the PUS, or how it feels to be 28 and still dependent on your parents - the words all rattle around in my head, and come out here not making any sense. And I can't make myself publish those entries (I wonder if I'll be able to make myself hit publish on this one, once I've thought it all the way through), because .... because I want to be able to communicate those things in such a way that somebody - any of you - will be like: "Oh, I get that."


That's all - what you feel about what I write is your own business -

If you don't agree, I can take that. Regardless of what I said about confrontation above: it's not that I can't take people disagreeing with me - I can, I do, people disagree. It's the way some people (particularly in my family) choose to deal with that that makes me ... tense... I sometimes like it better when we all don't agree, because then you've given me another way to look at things. Maya's Granny said to me, a while back, for example, that if I kept giving my Nana the chance to disappoint me, I shouldn't be surprised. And she was right. I'm not surprised anymore (OK... I'm trying not be surprised anymore): hurt, yes. I have a right to be hurt by her choices, as they impact me, our home, our family, our relationship. But I shouldn't be surprised that she hasn't taken me into account (again), because that's how she operates. But I never thought of it that way - that I should just try to be surprised if she didn't hurt me, if she actually chose the right thing - because that's what would really be out of character.

If you do agree, that's great, too...


But what matters to me, is whether or not I said something that makes sense here. So the babbling stuff - the rants that start off making sense and then degrade into "well - I think... that is, I think I think that...."- I don't publish that stuff.

I write about what's important here - though - whether it's positive or not, as much as I can, because this is a place for me to be content, and I wouldn't be if I were lying/holding too much back. And I try to make as much sense here as I possibly can. And now I'm wondering if this post has any point at all...

I guess what I'm trying to say is, that I appreciate the place to open my heart, as much as I can. And I appreciate that you all listen, and take care with my heart and words, and our place here.
Back when I started writing here, I thought: well, this is just for me. Just for me to say things privately, but still out loud. But I'm not sure that's what it is anymore. At least not totally.
I hope that the things I don't say, yet, aren't getting in the way here. I hope you know that I don't lie: not ever. And that I try my best to write with the astonishing honesty and clarity I see in the writers I love and admire.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Legs


Legs
Originally uploaded by bbackprple
One of the things I do in order to be able to move at all is gentle stretching throughout the day. On Friday, after playing cars for a while, Baby Girl wandered off with Grammy, leaving me on the floor alone. And I was pretty sore, so I laid on my back, stretched my legs up on the door (in kind of an L-shape). There's a name for this stretch, but I don't remember it.

Baby Girl found me like that, then tried to stick her legs up on the wall too - while standing. I helped her out a bit, gave her one of my pillows and showed her how to put her feet back up.

It was just one of those sponaneous things, the kind of things kids throw at you so you don't start seriously considering selling them to the circus.

Anyways, that's my Best Shot for this Monday, head on over to Tracey's at Picture This for some more Monday pictures.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I swear to you, people

I just can't keep up lately.

So, since I love you and you are all kind enough to keep coming back here, but I can't get up enough energy for a whole talk-y kind of post, have some bullets.


  • I got a new bookcase! And it is purty. Mum & I put it together ourselves (well, I read the directions, which is an important part of the putting together, thank you very much.) I'm still in the process of getting books into it. With no kiddos next week - their parents are taking them to the Cape on vacation - I'll hopefully get more accomplished.


  • My summer cold melted (almost literally) right into another major sinus infection - my 5th (?) since coming off my prophylactic antibiotics. I think it's time to rethink that decision.


  • Baby Girl is picking up words faster than we can put them down: yesterday she just mimicked my (fabulous) cow impression. "Mooooooooooooooo" and she kept doing it all day. She also learned 'baby' and 'ball' in sign language, and remembered airplane from last week, even though I didn't think she was paying any attention last week. (We use both, and that's a post I've been meaning to write, too. Added to the pile.) Don't be fooled - our 15 month old vocabulary still consists of mostly grunts, pointing, nodding, odd little chirps and an occasional 'ssssssssss,' but she's learning fast.


  • A few weeks ago, on a rare beautiful and not too hot day, I had my window open and a man was jogging by. Men jog by all the time, but my first little out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye glance at this guy gave me a kind of zap - I thought he was my father. My father, not my dad. The one who died (oh my gosh, has it been) 8 years ago. On second & third much closer looks, he still bore a striking resemblance to my father - short, compact build, but muscular; facial hair in that (completely uncomplimentary) Fu Manchu-ish style; face pulled tight - almost grimacing - with that 'I'm focusing here!' look - but there were plenty of differences: Their coloring was similar, but my father's skin seemed permanently tanned - rougher, more leathery, perhaps from his time on the decks of Navy ships, whereas this guy's tan seemed new and shiny; My father would probably have a bald spot by now, as his hair was thinning when he died, but I couldn't picture him with both the facial hair and the shiny spot on the back of his head (surely, one of would have been able to talk him out of that...); and my father never ran in anything other than his fatigues. Ever.

    My relationship with my father was - is - complicated and painful and wonderful (although those are the hardest times for me to remember), and the jolt I got from seeing this guy whiz by was too painful for me to think that all the years he's been gone have changed that. But it did make me look at the calendar, did remind me that his anniversary would be the next day, did make me pick up the phone and call my grandmother, help take her mind off of it for a little while.

    So, thanks, random Jogger Guy.


  • We're supposed to have thunderstorms tonight - already, I can feel the air changing a bit - but I just don't feel up to taking a shower yet. Sadly, if I don't get to it tonight, there's always waiting till tomorrow. (Although I really, really need to wash my hair.... maybe I can get enough energy for just that?)


  • Random crazy dream from last night's 22 whole minutes - interrupted, of course - of sleep: talking to my Nana about the PUS, trying to get her to see reason, only we're arguing, screaming at each other, her totally ignoring what I have to say. And, of course, we're having this fight in the bra department at a store in the local mall. And as I'm screaming, the bra lady has to shout over me, "We don't carry bras that big in the store!!!" Nice. I wonder if the bridesmaid's dress shopping wasn't a little bit traumatic after all? (Seriously, my dress only comes in one size bigger than the one I am wearing. I think I wouldn't mind being bigger if I got to eat whatever I felt like, but since so much of my weight seems to be stuck on b/c of meds, I'm really not happy about it....)


The end. (Except - Yeah, I meant to find a Theme Thursday picture, but couldn't think of anything to fit fly... if I come up with it tonight, I'll post it then. Hopefully.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sisters - Dress Shopping 8-11-07

Here's My Best Shot Monday photo - from our Bridesmaid's Dress Shopping expedition on Saturday.... That's all my sisters:

Sister K (18 - off to Harvard in 3 weeks!)
Sister Ch (21 - )
Sister S (30 - mother of Oldest Nephew, seriously hasn't worn a dress in almost 12 years)
Sister J (23 - the Bride to be!)
Sister-in-law to be/Sister Nc (38 - Mum of Youngest Nephew and Baby Girl)

Believe it or not, we finally managed to find a dress that compliments all of us (or, at least we think it does... a size 8 was NOT fitting on my body, and we guesstimated as best we could). Either way, it was a good day, even though it was still too soon for me to try to leave the house. I did ok - it's just two steps forward, four steps back, is all. But I'm resting. R_E_S_T_I_N_G. Editing photos, which I enjoy. Reading boooks, which, we all know I love. I'll make MBSM rounds now, after I finish this last little tweaking...

Have a great week everybody!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"I don't hold with all the washing," grumbled Eeyore. "This modern Behind-the-ears nonsense."

Oh, it's a melancholy day here in Massachusetts. Grey and overcast, raining and foggy. Air's so heavy that we still have the air conditioning on, which makes it freezing and humid, all at the same time.

But still, it seems to fit my mood.

After about 17 minutes of sleep last night, I 'woke up' in a funk. I haven't showered in a week, and I'm feeling guilty for not letting the kiddos come today because I'm still trying to battle my way back from this latest flare. I'm having the kind of day where I just want to curl up in a ball and tell everyone to "GO AWAY!" Because it hurts to lie still and it hurts to move, it hurts to have clothes touch my skin or to lean against even the softest pillow. It hurts to think, or talk, or anything, and today, I'm just not up for pretending it doesn't.

I don't always feel like this, even when I feel this bad. Sometimes, most times, I just have to adopt as much of a game face/battle-through it attitude as I can. And I do - I do a lot: I play with, feed, teach the kids; I read books and write reviews; I organize photos or make scrapbook pages; I talk to my friends - IRL or online; I do research for one of the millions of things I or another family member need... I've adapted in so many ways to being sick, finding things I can do and be passionate about given the limitations I have. Playing to my new strengths, so to speak.

And even writing that has cheered me up a bit, because I have accomplished a lot. I do do a lot, it's just today - with the grey skies and my greasy hair - it doesn't really seem like it. So today's prescription is as follows:

  • Take all meds (cuz sometimes, like an idiot, when I don't feel well I forget/forget on purpose just to be stubborn)


  • Take a shower and then shower coma


  • Eat something yummy


  • Watch funny movies/read comfort reads


  • Know that everybody gets bad moods, not just me (cuz it sometimes really feels like I am being so completely ungrateful & hateful)


  • Try to get some actual sleep


  • Wish everybody a happy Wednesday

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

reading

Inspired by this post over at the Musings of Great Eric, I started thinking about the books we read in high school, the books I wish we'd read, and the whole high school English experience.

It's hard for me, teacher-to-the-bone, to admit that it was teachers who turned me off of reading at a certain point. Just as it was teachers who helped me love to read in the first place, it was the curriculum and lack of flexibility in my courses that made me think, at times: "I'm never picking up a book again."

And it wasn't the workload. I'm a quick reader - 100+ pages an hour, minimum (unless the language is really hard to get through, I'm looking at you Melville!) And I've always been able to read three or four books at one time - some fiction here, so non-fiction there, a cookbook & a craft book percolating in the corner. So it wasn't that the assignments were too much work... it was that they were too boring.

And that sucks.

Because BOOKS AREN'T BORING!!!


And there should have been some way for us to learn about the things 'they' think we need to know without making it so ridiculously boring that some of us (ahem, this is where I raise my hand) don't spend an entire year learning just enough from class discussions and quick scans of the text to get a good grade instead of actually reading and enjoying the books.

You can ask anybody old or young - they'll all have some horrible story about the time their English teacher made them study Julius Cesar for over 6 months or write a tome on the importance of symbolism in Ethan Frome.

Another confession: Ethan Frome is the worst book I have ever read. And I have read some real dreck - romance novels with no plots, stereotypes galore & annoying, no-brained characters; 'literature' that was told in three different, 1st person's points-of-view, with no clear transition between them; science textbooks; the dictionary. Ethan Frome was, undeniably, the worst of the lot.
The passion with which I still hate this book is surprising: I remember the way I would picture him out there in the snow, dragging his leg behind him, gathering wood or something and want - with a frightening intensity - some wolf to come jumping out of the woods and devour him, just so that something interesting would be happening in this damn story! When we'd discuss the book in class I would draw wolves (or, more precisely, doodle wolf-shaped beings) and hope against hope that maybe it would come out of the paper and eat me instead.

Anyways.

The point is that if the way we teach English (which was always, by far, my best and favorite subject) was so disheartening, frustrating, and off-putting to me, I can understand why so many adults think of reading as something they'd do only as an absolutely last resort. (It also makes me wonder if math, science and other subjects I disliked would have been more accessible to me if taught differently.)

And that's just not right. Because when English is taught well, it can open you up to the entire world.

Here are two of my own examples:

It's Senior Year, we're reading A Pilgrim's Tale, and the teacher asks us to come up with our own poems in identical verse. It can be on any topic - the only requirements are that it follows the pattern, is a certain length and is passed in by the date he sets. I wind up writing about a kingdom where two brother's fight for their father's throne, and, b/c I am having a hard time rhyming 'throne,' decide that the kingdom's domain is over ice cream cones. Being able to infuse the poem with my own special brand of wit, it winds up being more than a simple assignment: I take it seriously, write it on parchment styled paper, in my own calligraphy (also learned that year), and it winds up being twice as long as the original requirements. (I also got an A, thank you very much.) And I learn that poetry is not all about syllables and beats - that it's about heart and humor and feelings and freedom.

It is 6th Grade and everyday after lunch recess, we file into the classroom, throw our coats near their hooks, slump into our chairs. I didn't know it then, but this is a danger zone for teachers: kids coming in, chatting, bellies full and amped either way up or way down from their running around ---> Getting them to refocus on whatever work you want them to do isn't easy. But every single day, our 6th grade teacher waits for us all to be sitting, and then picks up a chapter book and starts reading it aloud. The joys of being read to: pure pleasure! James and the Giant Peach, The Indian in the Cupboard, The Secret Garden - none of them on our curriculum guides, none of them books we are reading in class. These are books just for fun. Just for us: A special treat. I can still hear her describing the juicy peach, uncovering the secret of the mysterious night-crying, turning the key in the cupboard. Amazing. And I learn that books are not just things we struggle through,
word by word, but instead are whole worlds, just waiting to be discovered. That reading aloud is a pleasure to the reader and to her listeners. That spending the time counting paragraphs till my turn may not be the best use of my time (although, I did that until my very last day of college, the fear of being caught having to read a paragraph with a word I couldn't pronounce was too great.)

Other stories along the way attracted my attention: the tension of The Telltale Heart or The Lottery; the dialogue in some Shakespeare's plays (and in others, definitely NOT); the passionate poems of Christina Rossetti, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman; the time a teacher brought in a poem that connected to her heart, and sent us out looking for one that spoke to ours.

But the majority of my classes consisted of breaking down allegories or studying up on symbolism... on dissecting what each word uttered by Gatsby really, really meant or trying to explain what motivates Dickens' characters (aside from the fact that he got paid by the word, that is).

By turning reading into a task, a chore, a 'subject' rather than treating it like the exciting, exhilarating adventure it is meant to be, English class is killing generations of readers.

There are ways to make English - even in high school - a subject that enthralls students. There have to be. You can teach the basics, the necessities, and still keep kids/people interested in reading. It's not an impossible task. Because English is about language and literature. And literature is about life: How could life possibly be boring?

(I have some suggestions for this, but I'm going to hold back on those for another post... I'd love to hear some of your favorite/least favorite memories, and how you think we could improve high level English classes...Go!)

Monday, August 06, 2007

MBSM



Here's today's My Best Shot Monday shot...
Youngest Nephew, buildin' himself a hiding spot.

We've been building this kid tents and forts and hiding places, ever since he was a baby: Blankets draped between the couch and the coffee table, pillows piled up in a tower, under the table as a whole new world. He's old enough now to have taken over the buiding himself, but he still lets me help. As a kid, there's nothing better than feeling that you're in your own space, your own secret world where no one can find you unless you want them to. (Actually, as an adult, I could certainly use a bit of that too...) Having him here with us this summer has been bittersweet (healthwise, not so good; heartwise, all that's good), and I can't believe it's almost September and he won't be able to come up every week anymore.

They're here today, though, so I'll sneak around to Tracey's for all the MBSM photos tonight. Have a great day, all!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Some valuable sharing

Finally slogging my way through my Bloglines account, I've stumbled across some things I think should be shared. So, here we go...


I'm a new reader over at Pretty, Fizzy Paradise, but Kalinara's (almost month old, so I'm a bit late to the party, unfortunately) post "All women are me, damnit!!" is amazing. Here's just a tiny piece of her brilliance:

You know what's worse though? Random people will walk right up to you and think they have the right to talk about this stuff to your face! "Oh honey, you'd be so pretty with a little make-up." "Is your hair real?" "Lose some weight, you fat bitch!" When you're a woman, people think they can just say this. And if you get mad, you're the irrational one. "Sheesh, what's her problem?"

I cannot stress enough how great this post is... go over and check it out, please!