2 am

Recently I read a sweet blog. Essentially an ode to what a good friend is. I just finished a book that spent a lot of time on the protagonist's best friendship (damn you jodi picoult).
But I didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy after I read them.
They were sweet and true and most days or weeks I’d like them.
Just not this one.

Good friends are easy.
They don’t require thought or upkeep, makeup or cleaning out your car.

But maybe even better friends are sometimes hard.
Almost exactly a year ago, one of my closest friends lost her dad. And I drove 3 hours each way just to give her a hug. We don’t speak every day or even every month. But, when I walked in that room we both started crying. Less than 20 minutes later, I got in my car and drove another 3 hours back. Those six hours meant more to our friendship than any of the icecream, or silly notes in class, or cupcakes. More than Prom night or graduation or college road trips or any amount of hours of talking or texting on the phone ever could.

Almost exactly two years ago, another friend had a stillborn son. And this was a friend that I adored, but had honestly hardly seen or thought about in years. But my heart broke for her. And somehow I knew what to do. I held his ashes and looked as his pictures. And something about sharing that with her tethered me to her in a way I can't explain.

It isn't quite the same, but tonight I spent my evening in an assisted living facility at a memorial service for a man I had never met. I didn’t even know his first name. But it was my friend’s father-in-law and so we got a babysitter and ironed our clothes. And while we sang Amazing Grace I looked around the room and noticed that several of the couples in our Sunday school class had shown up. I watched her children being passed lap to lap. Even though over half of these couples aren’t programmed in my phone and only a few are ones I meet for coffee or dinner, but my heart still warmed and I couldn't help but look around the room and think, "this is what real community looks like". Showing up, hymns and vegetable trays.

Quantity is no match for quality.

Recently I had what I think was a gallbladder attack in the middle of the night. I didn’t go to the hospital but I probably should have. At 2 am and in pain I was trying to decide who to call. To either drive me or to sleep on my couch because I couldn’t leave my kids alone. And I am lucky enough to have serveral people I felt like I could have called. But my list was not quite what I expected. Thinking of who you’d call at 2 am is a surprising test of who matters. Who you can count on. Some of the people weren’t ones that I talk to all the time. One was someone I was barely speaking to. And a few of the people I talk to more regularly would be pretty low on the list of who I’d call. (and yes, you have to factor in proximity and kids and jobs and spouses….and NO…I’m not giving up my list…I’m just saying it was revealing).

When I get really good news or really bad news it is who I want tell second, and third and fourth ( after Shaun of course)…and sometimes it is the person I just saw. And sometimes it is a friend hundreds of miles away that I almost never speak to. Who I’m not even sure I can count on. But it is who I want when it matters.

And I don’t just mean they show up for the hard stuff.
All of my oldest friends and I have had seasons of bad.
Where it was work.
Or awkward. Or frustrating. Or hurtful.
Sometimes I didn’t even like them very much.
And I’m positive sometimes they didn’t like me.
And they usually had good reason.
Sometimes they go completely quiet.
And sometimes you have to let them.
Which is always more than a little bit hard for me.
But I don’t think it makes either end any less.
The hanging on or the letting go, both are difficult.
And to quote one of my favorite friends that I almost never talk to but love like I do anyways:
"Sometimes words are just noisy."

And mostly yes. Friends show up. They call back. They meet you for coffee and pick up your kids. They talk about everything and nothing with you. They let you cry or rant or tell you that you have spinach in your teeth. And all that sweet fun stuff.
But I think what matters more is the harder stuff.
You can call them at 2 am.
Or to pick you up when you have a flat tire.
You can call them even if you haven’t spoken in a long time.
They go to funerals or hospital rooms or bring food.
Even if you don't like them very much. Or haven't spoken in ages. Or are miles apart or just down the street.
That kind of stuff hardly matters at funerals and 2 am.

popcorn with butter

When I first moved to town, I was 23. A newlywed. Living in a little townhouse in a big city. Where I mostly didn’t know anyone. My husband at the time traveled more than he was home and I had a lot of free time. I was sad and lonely and didn’t want to admit it. So if my husband was gone for the week, I often alternated my nights between the gym, Barnes and Noble and going to movies. By myself.

And I liked it.
I saw all kinds of movies. Once I even stooped low enough to see one starring Brittany Spears (Crossroads). And something about going to these movies was catharthic.
I could lose myself in someone else’s story for 2 hours. It was dark. There was popcorn with butter. And I am not at all a public crier, but somehow it felt perfectly acceptable to cry my eyes out in a movie theatre and feel a lot less alone than I did in my apartment.

Then I made friends, got busy, Shaun stayed home more and I started to know enough people in town that I was embarrassed about being busted at the movies by myself.
But me and Shaun still saw lots of movies. We were often at the Friday showing on opening weekend and even would drive to Dallas to see the weird ones at Angelica or Magnolia.

And then we had kids.
And movies were a thing of the past. At least ones in theatres. At least ones with out talking animals.

Every once in a while we’d get a sitter and see a movie or I’d go with girlfriends. But mostly if we had a few hours to ourselves we wanted to be able to have a conversation. And I even missed going to movies by myself. But if I get 2 hours to myself these days I try to take a nap, or for a run, or when I’m really lucky to the grocery store by myself. I tried sneaking off to a movie about a year ago. And ended up sitting, happily, but slightly embarrassed with my friend’s entire family. And stealing their popcorn.

But recently, my husband was another big travel stint. And my brain had been working overtime. And dark theatre with a decent plot can shut it off at least for a few hours.
So, I usually don’t get to see too many movies, but in the last few weeks I have seen four good ones. So here are my reviews.

1) Crazy Stupid Love.
All I need to say is this: crazy stupid awesome.
(ryan gossling with his shirt off also helped)
my rating: four stars and a travel pack of Kleenex.

2) The Help. I went by myself. The theatre was packed so I had to sit next to an older couple. I’ve read the book. I knew what to expect. I still cried the ugly cry. I was loud. I was snotty. My face turned red and puffy and I think the couple next to me wondered if I was going to be able to drive myself home. The second the credits started to roll I bolted out of the theatre so no one would see my messy. I drove around a little before getting back to the babysitter so that my face would be slightly less red when I got there. She wasn’t fooled.
my rating: four stars and an entire box of Kleenex and something to wash my face with and sunglasses to wear home. even at night.

3) One Day. Shaun was a good sport and saw this with me. And we both liked it. Was a little When Harry Met Sally but sadder. Made an Anne Hathaway fan out of me. ( although I'm still not so sure about her as catwoman)
my rating 3.5 stars another travel pack of Kleenex

4)My Idiot Brother. I’ve been wanting to see this ever since I saw the previews. Paul Rudd, producer of Little Miss Sunshine, family dysfunction at it's finest and a dog named Willie Nelson all make for a great movie.
my rating: 3.5 stars and a at least a few kleenex. I’m not sure this was supposed to be sad, but I might have shed a few tears in my queso.

and....for Ned

afterschool special part 2: 4th-6th and inbetween.

(my not so indian education cont...)

Fourth grade is pretty sketchy.
My teacher was Mrs. May. And mostly I remember trying to find words that spelled a dollar. Adding up each letter ( a=1, b=2, etc.). And it seems like for the first time we started to notice money everywhere else. My hair had finally grown out enough to put in a ponytail. Sort of. I also started to wear bows and complained about my dark blue stiff denim jeans with ironed on patches. I was still good with the Keds though. Especially if I got to take the laces out.
I was a Lost Boy in PeterPan in the spring play. Except my lost boy costume was really just an elf costume my mom made out of felt. I cant look at elves around Christmas without thinking of PeterPan.
We had to do a commercial for the class. I chose one I saw every morning while watching TV and waiting on my parents to take me to school. I made an entire guitar out of cardboard and memorized the jingle word for word and sang it proudly for the class. No one told me that it was for a laxative. I didn’t realize this for years and am still wondering how my teacher managed to keep a straight face. And give me an A.
I’m sure when exactly but sometime around here it became uncool to take a lunchbox. So I packed my brown bag every morning. On good days with a Coke wrapped in foil at the bottom. And I hoped the condensation didn't make it fall through the bottom or that it didn't flatten my pb&j sandwhich. There was a pretty standard trade currency in the lunchroom. Oreos could get you almost anything you wanted. And I read every single BabySitters Club book there was. MaryAnne was my favorite. Too bad I was never into actual babysitting. Maybe I could have bought myself some cool jeans!

New school. Lockers. And we traded teachers instead of staying in the same class all day.From here on out I can tell you almost every science teacher I had, and only some of the other subjects. This is probably why I teach science instead of English. We hatched chicks, had guest speakers, found our own blood type and went on an overnight field trip to Galveston.
This is suddenly when girls started doing their bangs and sporting best friends necklaces. I wanted jeans with the upside down triangle on the pocket rather than the ones I had and borrowed my sister’s curling iron and hot rollers. I think I even asked my mom to buy me a bra even though it was the last thing I needed. She gave me a book to read on puberty even though I was far from it. We were all 10 going on 20.
Once we split into groups to work on a project. Our teacher trusted us way too much or she just didn’t care, because we ended up playing spin the bottle in the janitor’s closet. We were only 10. So it was very chaste peck on the cheek version but it had begun.
I got another boyfriend. This time we called it going together which didn't consist of going anywhere but mostly of just talking on the phone. And I can't imagine what I had to say to a 5th grade boy for so long on the phone. He walked me to my parent’s office everyday after school, while carrying my violin. I was teased mercilessly for this. But I didn’t care. He smelled good and wrote me long notes and was almost as cute as Fred Savage on the Wonder Years. I think it might have lasted three weeks. Until I met my husband this was one of my longer relationships.

And we were still babies but we were into boys and brands and big hair. Girls strated carrying purses and talked about getting their periods. I read Are You There God, It’s Me Margret. My parents signed me up for cotillion. Obviously all those manners and waltzes didn’t stick. But I was sure proud of my Jessica McClintock dress and the occasional cute boy who asked me to cha cha.
Before the bell we played card games on the concrete. We played dodgeball in PE. And we still occasionally got recess even though we mostly just stood around and talked in groups now. We made friendship bracelets traded copies of Teen magazine. We wore swatches up our arms and hypercolor tshirts.
I hardly remember any classes or teachers this year. Mostly because I was consumed with tightrolling my jeans and pretending to be cool. Even though I was only 11 and still probably preferred playing chase on the playground to talking to boys or doing my hair.
I practiced my violin every night while watching MTV which I’m pretty sure cancel each other out. But I was first chair and I knew the good songs. Madonna, u2 and MilliVanilli followed up by Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. My siblings had both moved out and were in college by now so I moved down the hall to a bigger room. With a TV. And my own neon light up phone. But even that wasn’t enough to compensate for braces and a grown out perm.

so ignore the poor picture quality, and notice the fact that I am wearing a puff painted tshirt with powder blue acid washed guess jeans. and a big freaking bow.

after school special part 1: my not so indian education

When I was in Seattle almost a month ago, a friend told me to hit one of her favorite bookstores there. And I love a good bookstore. I wander the aisles and touch them and take pictures of ones I want to order online cheaper. If their are squishy chairs I sometimes even order coffee and sit down and plow my way through something that looks good. My favorite sections (usually in this order): memoirs, staff picks, religion, science and then fiction. Somehow I ended up in education and couldn't resist this book:

A book written by students, about their teachers. And I was curious about what they had to teach me. The first section were letters from highschoolers to their teachers. And they weren't all flattering. It made me wonder what mine would say about me.
The middle section was a retelling of Sherman Alexie's prose about his school years, mostly on a reservation. They were broken up by each grade and painfully honest.  Click here to read it (it is pretty short I promise) An Indian Education

Some of the teachers in this book asked their upper level students to write their own version. Year by year -- short snippets of what they remembered and what they learned.  And some of them were just as hard to read. And it made me think about what I remembered. And it scares me a little to think about what stands out and how much slips away. But the more I thought the more I remembered. And I remember the most random things. Like the stoplight in the corner of my elementary cafeteria telling us when we could talk and when to be silent. The song about George Washington we sang in the 2nd grade play, harsh words, blue bows and skinned knees on the playground.  My son started first grade yesterday. And I wonder what he will keep.

I started my own version and thought maybe I'd post a few at a time....and that would give me plenty of time to not write the begining of school when I am slammed and tired anyways. I of course didn't finish yet....but....here is the first installment.

I remember someone tracing me on butcher paper and cutting it out. Gluing on yellow yarn for hair. Even though my hair was brown. Like some giant life size paper doll.
I got to draw who I wanted to be.
Sometimes I still wish it was that easy.
To start over with a piece of butcher paper. And cut and color and glue only the parts I want to keep.
My teacher was a first year teacher full of energy. Ms. Minnick. She gave out Micheal Jackson buttons for good behavior which were the envy of everyone on the playground.
I think I was the only girl in my class to have a boyfriend. Even the teacher teased us when we played duck duck goose. And I never got my name written on the board.
I’m not sure I ever spoke at all.
Every day was a different letter.
One boy in the class could read. My boyfriend. I always did like the smart guys.
And apparently, I’ve always been competitive. So I memorized a Bernstein Bears book and pretended to read it to my class for show and tell. I’m pretty sure my teacher knew. But she didn’t give me up.
Once a week, my great aunt would pick me up after school and I’d wiggle into a black leotard and pink tights and she’d take me to dance class. I was bad at it but loved not having to ride the bus. I’d look through my aunt’s picture albums and make her tell me the same stories and stay for dinner.
The other days I rode the bus. Back to the country and dirt roads. The little kids sat in front and the big kids like my junior high sister sat in back. But I had a perfect view of Mr. French’s bald spot. And once someone stuck there gum right on top of it.
My report card glowed except for the fact that I couldn’t skip or tie my shoes.
Eventually I learned to tie my shoes. The skipping though is still a struggle.

Same school. Same bus driver. Same boyfriend that I didn’t like anymore but was afraid that if I told him he’d beat me up or steal my crayons. The second part was true.
I did not like first grade at all. Or my short haired older teacher Mrs. Gabbord.
I don’t remember having any friends.
I remember trying to convince my parents to take me to private school.
I quit dance because it was too hard.
I had never gotten in trouble once in kindergarten but my first grade teacher was less than impressed with me. I must have found my voice and I used it to ask questions.
She pinned notes to my dress saying that I talked back. She asked me to redo my papers because they were messy.
I was bored of coloring in the lines and cutting and pasting.
Eventually the teacher requested a conference. I was petrified. She had made me cry and erase so many times I bore holes in my paper. I got my greater than and less than signs backwards and received a zero on an assignment. But I’ve never been one for details. I was sure she was going to say horrible things about me to my parents and that they wouldn’t let me watch any more 3’s company. Instead she said I was smart. Probably bored. And needed more of a challenge. She sent me home with chapter books. And I never stopped reading them.

My parents moved into town. And me to a better school.
So now I was the new girl with a chili bowl and quickly made friends with another new girl with a chili bowl. We are still friends. We both thankfully have better hair.
My teacher. Mrs. Aycox. Was probably the best teacher I had in grade school. She was an older black woman in a mostly white elementary school. She was firm and somehow warm. They didn’t write names on the board like my last school but instead pulled apples with our names on them off the tree. We begged to bang erasers and clean chalk boards.
I discovered Beverly Cleary and kind of saw myself as Ramona. I read books and made dioramas from shoe boxes and got into trouble for talking with people at my table. One guy in the back would eat glue. The rest of us rubbed it on our hands and peeled it off like we were peeling off our skin.
Before I had lived in the country where I had the run of the place. Ponds. Dirt roads. Bikes and snakes and ducks. Now we lived off a country club golf course and my neighbors were all retirees. I’d occasionally make the rounds and get cookies and butterscotch candies from every old person on our cul-de-sac.
For PE they had us run around the back stops. I never finished first. But was always towards the front of the girls. And didn’t understand why so many of them were walking. Didn’t they know this was a race. So what if there wasn’t a prize.
I made a new boyfriend. And as a present he gave me one of his mom’s old wallets. I thought I should reciprocate and gave him a book I had gotten at the book fair. I still think books are good gifts and used pocketbooks not so much.

I was no longer the new girl but my new best friend with the chili bowl was no longer in my class. Mrs. Hawkins.
Third grade meant business. Cursive and multiplication tables. My handwriting needed some work but the math came easy.
The pulled the smart kids out a couple of days a week and we read A Wrinkle in Time and did logic puzzles and she taught us to draw with the other side of the our brains.
We sat on the white tiles in the cafeteria for assemblies. And I always wanted it to be my turn to hold McGruff the crime dog puppet.
I was a girl scout and wore the horrible green uniform with knee socks. I hated selling cookies but didn’t mind eating them.
Sometimes my brother drove me to school in his beat up blue truck. He would turn up the bad 80s music and tell me not to kiss too many boys. I wasn’t kissing any boys. So this was a non issue. 
A girl named Josseylyn would sometimes try to beat me up at recess. Then again she tried to beat up lots of people and would sometimes make herself throw up. I hated her. I feared her. And even at 8 I knew enough to feel sorry for her.
I wonder what would have happened if I had just been nice to her.

i don't feel like dancing

A few things I am good at: math, making mix cds, cooking, napping and losing my keys.
A few things I am not good at: dancing, french braiding, matching outfits (heck, I don’t even match my socks) and applying makeup. And yes. I subscribed to YM, Seventeen and Teen Magazine growing up. And I read them cover to cover. But I still couldn’t tell you how to apply eyeliner. My husband will tell you that I’m all girl. Meaning I cry at cheesy movies, occasionally stress over what to wear, take things he says the wrong way, can quote Top Gun and Dirty Dancing (and owned the soundtracks), and most days I’d much rather get a pedicure than watch ESPN. But I don’t like frilly dresses or big hair or lots of makeup. Growing up, I played outside way more than I played with barbies. And I own nothing that has been bedazzled.

My daughter on the other hand came out twirling. She sometimes sleeps with shoes instead of stuffed animals. She has dolls for her dolls. Is in love with anything princess and often tells me that she is one. I catch her trying to put my make up on more than I do. She thinks Barbie is an adjective. She wants Barbie snowcones, to watch Barbie movies and yesterday I even offered to give her a Barbie spanking. Her favorite color is pink. Her second favorite color is pink. And if we are all out of pink she might settle for purple. She changes clothes more times a day than Lady GaGa. She didn't get any of this from me....

And she loves to dance. Actually both my kids do. It is partly my fault. We often dance in the living room, or the kitchen or the dining room. But Tess doesn’t stop when we leave the house. If there is music playing at a restaurant, gym, swimming pool, bounce house party, church, or grocery store – Tess will stand on her chair or the middle of the aisle and dance her pants off. Sometimes literally. At dinner with my parents recently, they told me I needed to get her in dance class. At a birthday party a few weeks ago, a stranger told me she had moves and I needed to sign her up. And at least half a dozen other friends who have witnessed her free public showings have said the same thing. And I hesitated. She is still just 2, going on 20. And driving one child around to practices is hard enough. I am not in any hurry to get this girl involved. But somehow this Saturday I found myself at a nearby studio for fall registration. I brought Tess along, explaining that we were signing up for dance. She was so excited. I was unprepared and completely out of my element. Apparently yoga pants and a baseball hat were not proper attire for the moms around there. I needed about a thousand more rhinestones. And I thought I’d just be handing someone a check and writing down emergency contact information. Instead I was ushered through several stations explaining dress code and tuition and recital fees. It went quickly and was mostly painless. Except when we were leaving and Tess realized that she hadn’t gotten to dance. Just watch her mom fill out forms. And there was a melt down.

I figured it would be quickly fixed if we bought her the required dance clothes on the way home. I was even more lost in the dance store. I kind of just imagined grabbing a little black leotard, pink pair of tights and some shoes and be on my way. But it wasn’t that easy. I was lost and quickly told the first person I saw I needed help. Also Tess was not having any simple plain leotard. She quickly informed me that the ones without tutus were just bathing suits and she needed a skirt. Again, I tried to pick out a plain one. But my daughter had her heart set on an obnoxious purple one with flowers and a funky printed tutu attached. The tights were easy (except to put on). And the shoes were too. Excpet I hadn’t actually thought about how tap shoes would sound on our hard wood floors. For hours at a time. We have had them only about 24 hours and I have already hidden them! I’m sure I was supposed to buy a dance bag and about twenty bows but I’ll save those for another day.

And we got home and she immediately wanted to put everything on and turn up some music and went to town. I am going to need some help learning how to put her hair in a bun. I don’t know first position from a plie ( I even had to google it just to see how to spell it…and I don’t know how to add that accent to the e!) I might have to borrow a shirt with some rhinestones on it and I might even need a second job to pay for everything. But. No one is going to have to help me cheer her on. Or give her room to twirl.

(and I just told you she loved to dance...I didn't say she was a prodigy! Hopefully her instructor will teach her to move her feet in addition to her arms!!)

and if the scissor sisters don't make you feel like dancing...nothing will :)

the dreaded question and rejection letters

I’ve just finished a week of inservice and meetings and plannings and wanting to poke my eyes out. I spent my last Saturday morning of summer making copies and setting up a demo.
One afternoon this week I got to sit through some technology training. The technology, surprise, was not working. So while the presenter stalled she made us go around and say why we became a teacher.
I had to go first.
And I HATE that question.
You’d think that starting my 12th year, I’d have a good answer stored away. But I froze.
I can’t even tell you what I said it was so lame. I've already blocked it out.

And then today I stumbled across this.
My first rejection letter. Sort of.
It was the Community Opinions page ripped out of the Dallas Morning News. 5 years ago. With the obituaries on the back.

A month or so before that page in the Dallas Morning News, me and my husband somehow ended up kidless and eating brunch in uptown. Someone had left the paper on the table and me and Shaun traded pages as we ate. I ran across a request for submissions. They wanted a group of teachers to regularly contribute articles throughout the school year.
This was preblog.
But sounded like my kind of thing. I applied. And I thought I’d be a shoe-in.
Which is funny because I had zero writing experience. No writing classes in college. And I didn’t even live in any of the districts they were requesting. But it felt perfect for me. I liked to write. I liked teaching. And what was the likelihood of me reading the paper on the day they asked for submissions. I thought it was meant to me.
So I emailed the contact listed at the bottom and he send me an application.
And guess what the first question was…
The dreaded “Why do you teach?”

And I thought on it for a while.
I never grew up thinking I wanted to be a teacher. (A trapeze artist, advertising executive, dermatologist and/or physical therapist. Yes. Teacher. No.) And I’d had some great ones, but it wasn’t even on my radar. But I think that is usually how God keeps things interesting. I changed majors mid freshman year and it was just one of those things I was sure about. Knew that I was supposed to do.

But I’m thinking "I just knew and I really like office supplies" weren’t going to cut it on the application. So I did what I often do when I don’t know what to say. I just started typing and this is what came out. (which yes I realize, kind of dodges the question).

“The best thing about my job is that first day – every notebook is blank, attitudes are fresh. Today, I am not behind; there are no papers to grade. Everyone has a 100. Faces look eager. Everyone is awake. Pencils are sharp. I am excited to meet them all. I struggle to remember names. They are trying to decide if I am mean or give lots of homework. I am looking for a way in, some connections so that next month they will still be awake and maybe even learn a little bit of chemistry along the way.
I like the freshness of the day. I have a job with summers, spring breaks, school supplies and pep rallies. I often find myself drained, but I am never bored. I am constantly challenged and am quite possibly learning more from them than they are from me. There are bad days and even bad weeks, but there is always the hope of August and a fresh start.”

And that isn’t my best writing. But it is still true. I was tempted to make it sound a little better when I retyped it just now. So the real writers out there might not be surprised to know that in my inbox a few days later was my first rejection letter. A thanks but no thanks, but also letting me know that my answers were property of the paper and might find their way in print. I figured that last bit was just letting a girl down easy.

So I was surprised when, a month or so later, a principal stopped me in the office at the end of a LONG day of inservice and meetings, and said he really liked my article in the paper that day. I rushed out and bought a copy after school. There is something about seeing your name in print that I can’t explain. Even if no one was paying me for it.

And when I found it again today…two things hit me. First days are still one of the reasons I teach. And secondly. I haven’t had enough rejection letters. Mainly because I haven’t given my writing the chance to be rejected. So…here is to first days and rejection letters. I hope for many more of both.

(and this song has nothing do with anything.. i just really like this version and blared it in my classroom this morning while i got ready for my latest first day!)

How to play it safe.

Some reccomendations on how to play it safe:
Order the same thing. You already know you like it.
Shop at the Gap.
Wear appropriate swimwear. And never forget sunscreen.
Keep your training wheels on.
Don’t call.
Don’t go first.
Save for a rainy day.
Keep waiting for that rainy day.
Carry an umbrella.
Work late.
Pick neutral tones. For your walls and nails and cars.
Wear a helmet. And kneepads.
Keep your windows rolled up and your doors locked.
Screen your calls.
Hit save instead of send.
Never wrestle.
Never commit.
Play by the rules.
Don’t make promises. Just in case you can’t keep them.
Eat in your room or your cubicle.
Get coffee by yourself.
Do what always works.
Always have a plan and a map.
Don’t do things that scare you. ever.
Dress in layers.
Match your socks.
Have conditions.
Put your keys in the same place every night.
Always take your phone.
Get a second opinion.
Always use a dryer sheet.
Use your parking brake.
If it’s not working, give up.
Love less.

And. Those are all good things. Things I should probably do more of.
Protecting. Being careful. Waiting.
Sometimes it is good to play by the rules and be prepared.
And sometimes I do. I have had entire years of being good at being safe.
And when I did I rarely got in trouble or hurt or noticed.
But they were awfully boring years.

And my last few years have been the opposite of safe.
I’ve thrown caution to the wind.
And I've had a good time.
And I've had all kinds of consequences.
I've gotten lost. I've lost my keys.
Speeding tickets.
A reputation that I don’t quite own or want.
A hurt heart. More than once.
And I’ve had to say I’m sorry a lot. A LOT.

And there are some things I want to change.
There are times to play by the rules.
And there are times to make up new ones.
There are times to throw out the map.
But there are times to wait and ask and listen.
Finding a balance is tricky.
But one thing I think I’m sure of. There is never a time to love less.
(and I’m not all that fond of neutral colors either)

(and b/c i've been such an iconsistant blogger as of late and kind of gave up on the friday playlist like a year ago..but I can't get away from music. so i've been meaning to add songs to every post. ones I like or apply or are sticking to me at the moment....and a few others I'm stuck on right now.... We Will All Be Changed by Seryn and Belong by the Carey Brothers).

just married.

Our Sunday school class has been doing a series on marriage and intimacy for most of the summer. We have been out of town a lot and I didn’t always do my homework but when we were there….It has lead to some great conversations. Most of which I am not mature enough for. I make silly jokes. Turn all kinds of shades of red. And my husband mostly checks his phone.

And today was no different. Until the class was almost over. We were mid funny embarrassing story when the pastor walks in. (and trust me it wasn’t the kind of funny story that you want a pastor to walk in on) We finished the story anyways which lead to all kinds of laughter and inappropriate jokes (my favorite kind) and she gets up and tells us to stand and face each other and hold hands.

Most of us are still kind of giggling. And it all feels awkward and weird. And then she starts reading.
And every couple in the room is facing each other. Holding hands. And repeating their vows.
And I couldn’t help but notice that every woman in the room (me included) was getting a little teary.

No one wore big poofy dresses or tuxes.
There was no bridal party.
There was no photographer or florist.
There was no cake or punch.
No one sang. No one read 1 Corinthians 13.
I wasn’t even wearing lipstick and am pretty sure I had coffee breathe.

But every couple in the room.
Promised again.
To have and to hold.
And even without the show and the big ceremony.
Those words felt heavy and full and the room was silent except for the promises that were being made.
With full awareness this time to how hard they can be to keep.
But all promising to do just that.
Because sometimes we need a little reminding.

And she prayed.
And we kissed our new/old spouses.
And the women in the room all wiped their eyes.
And we went back to laughing and storytelling.
But the moment wasn’t lost on anyone.

And now I’m wondering if I get 2 anniversaries?
Or at least some cake….


I am ending my last week of summer with a bang.

By cleaning out my closets.
My clothes just need some weeding. And hanging and I’m hoping to find that pair of jeans and single flip flop I lost.
Owen has a few clothes that need to go. but mostly I just need to match up his shoes and throw out the things with holes and get rid of all the AWOL legos that have made it in there. And pray that I don’t find anything that used to be alive.
But Tess’s closet is in the biggest need. It seems like everytime I do laundry I need to sort through her clothes and pack up the ones that no longer fit.

Because she seems to wake up bigger every day.
The only thing that isn’t growing is her hair.
So I filled two trashbags with clothes that no longer fit to pass on to a friend and another to Goodwill.
And I’m not a saver. I’m happy to get rid of stuff.
But everytime I go through my kids clothes I get a little nostalgic.
Her Easter dress and the outfit she wore to her birthday party and the jammies with the feet in them. I almost want to hold on to them even though it would be silly.
And I’m shocked that they have such a short life span. That they already don’t fit. That this summer’s clothes will all need to be replaced by next summer.
That kind of growth, frustrates more than my wallet.

My husband left a sweatshirt on the train last week in Seattle. His favorite. That he has had for longer than I’ve known him. I’d guess it was 18 or so years old. I don’t have anything that old in my closet, but I do have a few things from college which is more years than I want to add up and definitely in the double digits. And I shop more than I wish I did. But I mostly buy the same sizes. And if I’m growing it certainly isn’t in the right directions.

My son inches up his doorframe. Slowly but surely.
My daughter’s clothes barely make it through the season.
But my growth is a lot harder to guage.
And often it feels like I am not doing it at all.
And I’m sure that isn’t true.
But some seasons feel like it.
And this is one of them.
I look back and feel like I’m in the same place I was over a decade ago.
That I have changed even less than my favorite shirts that have been washed so many times that they are thin and soft and shouldn't be worn in public.
And I wish their was some kind of inventory I could do. That I could just bag up those habits and mistakes that I keep hoping to outgrow. And get rid of them for good.
And somehow they keep showing back up in my closet.
And sometimes I even put them on.

But, when I’m done with Tess’s clothes.
I’ll move on to those really hard things I need to get rid of.
The kind that don’t fit on hangers.
And if that isn’t growth, I don’t know what is……….

5king it in 100 degrees (and a playlist)

I run a lot of races.

Let me restate that a little more accurately. I slowly jog a lot of races.
Mostly 5Ks and 10Ks but I’ve also done mud runs, adventure races and even once did a sprint tri and a half.

I’m not fast. But I always finish. And I rarely walk.

And I have a few racing rituals and tips.

First. I always choke down a peanut butter powerbar for breakfast. I hate the way they taste. But. always do it and wash it down with a Gatorade.

Panties that stay in place are also critical. I’ve had more than one friend try to convince me not to wear them at all but I haven’t even been brave enough to try.

Pee before the race. No matter what. even if it is in a smelly port-o-potty.

Don’t wear the race t-shirt to the actual race. I’m not sure why I’m such a snob about this but I am. I actually usually try  to avoid wearing any kind of race shirt at all to a race to avoid any expectations that I can actually run.

Good socks, a place to tuck your key and a easily recognizable shirt or hat if I’m running with friends.

Do not skimp out on the post race freebies. Especially if it involves something you need to trade in a coupon for. Even if it is 9 a.m.

It feels really cool to throw your cup on the ground at the water stop, but someone has to pick all those up….so at least aim near a trash bag.

Give yourself plenty of time to get to the starting line. Expect parking to suck. Nothing kills my energy level like sprinting to the start. And I’ve done this a lot.

On the rare occasion that I am going for speed, (and I use that word loosely), I try and pick out someone who is cruising that looks like they have atleast 50 lbs or 20 years or is in their last trimester. Nothing motivates me more than an 80 year old kicking my ass. I am also motivated by the very large breakfast I plan on eating afterwards. We all seriously considered cheeseburgers at Breadwinners this morning. Well before 10 am.

And most importantly, unless there is someone to talk to, are good running tunes….

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welcome to the moment

Me and my husband have different ideas of travel.

He does his research.
I like to get lost.
He likes history. I like coffee.
Neither of us want to miss anything. But we have different ideas of anything.
I can walk forever. His feet hurt.
He googles it. I ask a friend. Or the concierge. Or a random person on the street.
And the next day he can walk forever and my feet hurt.
I give all my money away to homeless people but want to splurge on cabs and desserts and trinkets.

We spent a long weekend in Seattle. No kids. Just us. We even tried to stay off our phones most of the time. And this is partly for our 10 year anniversary. But I also just love new places and getting away and exploring. I’d rather have plane tickets than jewelry any day. And I couldn't wait to get away.

We got in really late. 2 a.m. in my body's timezone. I’d had a rough week. I was short on sleep and food and had all kinds of things running through my head that I was eager to turn off for a few days. So was looking extra forward to sleeping in a big bed with no kids or dogs waking me up early. Relaxing. Big white hotel robes. Drinking plenty of coffee. People watching. And eating my way through the city. And my husband let me sleep in a little while he explored a few blocks. But when he came back, he was ready to hit the city. Museums and tours and not wanting to miss a thing.

I took my time getting dressed. And we wondered around for a bit, argued over what to do next and found something to eat. Discovered that apparently the homeless people in Seattle are often more friendly than people in customer service. We hit some Seattle highlights. Ate more. More highlights. And found our way back to the market early in the afternoon.

And one of my favorite things about big cities are street performers. Most of them aren’t that good. But some of them are. And the pike’s street market is prime real estate. So they switch out the person on the corner every hour or so. The first time we walked by was a guy with two cats wearing sweaters. And later I saw a guy playing a little piano. Each time they had drawn a small crowd. Even the cats in sweaters which I didn’t get at all. But now there was a huge crowd. And it didn’t take me long to figure out why. A skinny, dirty guy was playing guitar, the harmonica, a maraca, and shakers on his feet. All while hula hooping. I snapped pictures. And tossed dollars in his guitar case. Mesmerized. While he sang a strange combination of “I got a river of life” mixed in with a little Journey “Don’t stop believing”. And thought that I’ve paid good money to see people in theatres way less talented than him. And then he said my favorite line all trip.
(Even better than the waitress who asked where we were from saying we were obviously too nice to be from Seattle. Or all the people complaining about how hot it was when it hit 80 degrees. When we've had 100+ degree heat for almost 40 days straight.)

“Welcome to the moment. Thanks for sharing it with me.”

And for the first time all day I soaked in the moment. And tried to not stop for the rest of the trip. And something in me finally woke up. I took in the flowers, the fish, the produce and the crowds and was glad I wasn’t just lying in my hotel bed. For the first time all day I didn’t mind the crowds or the smells and suddenly I tried to take it all in. Every flower. Every fish. Every person stepping on my foot.

And then he spun his guitar on top of his head. And we went to stand in another line.

Emery Carl "Live" - Easy from Session 7 Media on Vimeo.