Currently…

I am having so much trouble finding things to write about in this space.  I think the problem is because I started this blog telling stories about big events, that I look at it in that vein.  There just aren’t a lot of big things (except for my impending grandmotherhood, which is still impending and not here yet) going on day to day for me these days.  I still haven’t gotten the knack of transitioning this space into a stream of consciousness, write about daily life, whatever strikes my fancy type of place.

But in my fitness blogging, I came across a blogger who had put some writing prompts out.  Maybe that’s what I’ll try for now, until I get my footing of writing about my current days, even when nothing seems like a big enough deal to write about.

So, thanks to Running with Spoons for this blog prompt.  🙂

Current book:  None.  I’ve been so terrible about reading anymore.  I am in a book club, of sorts, but we hardly ever choose books to read and we get together, if we’re lucky, twice a year.  The real readers who were the impetus behind the group forming have all moved away, and now it’s really just a social thing.  I don’t have a lot of time to read these days either, so most of what I am reading amounts to blogs on the internet.  And reading is one of the things I love!  OY!  Must find a book and time to read it.

Current music: I just downloaded a few new tunes for my race playlist:  Peace by OAR, Glowing by The Script, Classic by MKTO and Ain’t it Fun by Paramore.  I’m actually paying more attention to current music because of my bootcamp classes.  Before I was filling my playlist with slow, angsty music that really didn’t do much to get me moving.

Current guilty pleasure:  Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  I liked me my OC girls and my NYC ones but never got into the truly over the top BH ladies until this season.  Now I’m freakin’ hooked.  Dammit.

Current nail color:  clear and chipping.  With the amount of work I do on the computer my nails never really can get very long; they’re right on the edge at this point.  I go in phases with the nails.  I bite, they get short, I get a manicure, I like the way they look and feel, they grow.  Rinse, repeat.

Current drink:  fruit flavored tea.  I’m back on the weight loss train and trying to fill my belly in the afternoons with something other than plain water.  Also helps with the bone chilling cold here in the northeast.  Peach is really my favorite right now.  🙂

Current food:  my newest favorite thing that I’m eating is tortilla pizza for lunch.  It’s easy, you can put anything on it, and it’s healthy.  Feels somehow more filling than a salad, but that could be my salad bias.  Somehow salads just make me mentally go blech.  I eat them but they are never my first choice.

Current obsession:  started my half marathon training today.  Yes, you read that right.  Me, who has never been athletic in her life, has signed up for a half marathon after two and a half years of dragging my slow self through 5Ks and 10Ks.  It’s the next logical step for me.  I know I’ll never be a fast runner, but for me it’s about completion.  Not many people run, and even fewer complete much more than 5 miles on a regular basis, so I really want to reach this milestone.  I am sure the next three months will be spent researching, talking about it, reading about it, and generally annoying the crap out of everyone about it.

Current wish:  that my grandbaby would get here!  My daughter in law is due on Friday and the waiting is killing me!  I’d like to travel to be there if at all possible, and the logistics of that get dicier every day with having my two younger kids involved in all sorts of activities.  So I’m hoping for a safe, healthy delivery sooner rather than later.

Current triumph:  seriously cutting back on my wine habit.  I was drinking 2+ glasses a night, more on the weekends.  I managed last week to drink only 2 glasses on two days out of the seven.  That was a big deal!

Current bane of my existence:  teenage girl drama.  My daughter is truly testing my patience.  I want to love her and share things with her and she is truly unpleasant to be around these days.  It’s so hard to figure out how you can love someone so much and still dislike their behavior so intensely.

Current indulgence:  new iPhone.  Best Buy was having a deal where you basically turned in your 4s and they gave you a 5s for free.  I wasn’t sure I needed one but now I’m very glad to have a spiffy new phone.  🙂

Current procrastination:  finalizing sponsors for the 5K I plan.  We have to close them out asap and I haaaaaaaate approaching people for money.  Hate it.  But it’s so necessary to making the race successful.  I have two more to deal with and six days to do it.  Must not put off any longer.

Current blessing:  work!  I have more and more website jobs which i am truly excited about.  I love the work and I’m learning something new with each project.  Also, money.

Current excitement:  grandbaby!!!!!  Can’t wait to know if it is a boy or a girl, what its name is, what he/she looks like, and hold the baby!  I can’t wait!

Current mood:  content.  Other than the teenage girl drama, things are going well right now for us.

Current link:  MyFitnessPal.  With me trying to lose weight again, this is my most used link these days.

So that’s where I am currently.  🙂

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The End of Another Year

It’s the last day of 2013.

I haven’t chronicled much of my life in this space this year.  Having started this blog nearly four years ago with the purpose of telling my life story, bit by bit, in short remembered pieces gave it a purpose that at one point kept me blogging one post a day for months at a time.

It took me nearly two years to do it, to write down the memories that shaped who I am.  It was a crazy thing to do, and once it was over, I wasn’t sure what to do with it.  I wrote about births, deaths, illnesses, boyfriends, lovers, marriage, abuse, rape, adultery.  I wrote about my hopes and dreams, my crushes and my losses.  When I look back and read some of those posts now, it’s like revisiting that time in my life, like visiting an old friend, or an old wound.

I’m glad I did it.  I’m glad I took that journey.  Some day I’ll admit to those I know and love that I have done this, and share it.  Some day.

This year was a big and small year.  A year of big events and small steps.

In January we were still reeling from the shootings at Sandy Hook here.  When I think of that month, it still seemed so dark and raw.  The kids from Sandy Hook came to school in our town; the media were everywhere.  So was kindness and love.  A highlight was that I ran a 10K in Central Park, spending time with my husband’s cousins from Spain.

In February I quietly “celebrated” the twenty years it has been since I lost my mother.  I still am shocked that it has been so long.  Most of my friends still have their mothers, even now, twenty years later, although some friends are starting to go through that loss of losing parents now that we’re older.  I miss her still but somehow this year managed to realize I look back more with love and longing than sadness and loss.

In March my daughter took center stage.  She celebrated her 13th birthday and performed in our local school’s production of Little Women.

In April my son was married.  It was a hugely emotional event, with family and friends from near and far in attendance.  He married a woman who is as deeply religious and traditional as he is.  I wonder sometimes if his tendency towards that conservative family model is because, while he was raised most of his life in a two parent household, he knows and can never forget that he has never met his biological father.  It still is a raw wound of sadness in the back of both of our minds, but his wedding was beautiful and perfect in every way.

In May we were busy with my preparations for the race I was putting together and the kids’ school.

In June my 5K happened, the culmination of 6 months of work.  It went off without a hitch and it raised $11,000 for local charities.  It also marked the beginning of my partnership with one of the Sandy Hook family foundations.  My kids also closed out another school year and we entered into summer mode.

In July my daughter attended theater camp, winning the role of Young Fiona in a local theater company’s production of Shrek. My young son and I did summer school work at home and visited the town pool while she went to her camp.  My husband continued to travel for work.

In August my daughter had her big performance.  The day she was done our entire family joined my husband’s parents and sister for a family trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  It was a hot week at the beach there, and his Spanish speaking family loved it.  I felt a little lost frankly, but consoled myself with the sun and the sand.  After we returned, we visited my son and his wife in the DC area, having a nice time learning more about her family.

In September I ran in Central Park again, meeting up with my father for the weekend in the city.  The next weekend I went to visit my 90+ year old grandparents in Delaware.  My son and his wife came too and shared the news that they were expecting my first grandchild.

In October my husband traveled a great deal, being gone nearly every week.  I campaigned for a spot on our local board of education by eschewing signs and using social media only.

In November I won the BOE seat.  My daughter performed in another school drama production, “Usher”.  I continued my freelance website work that I have done all year in fits and starts.

In December we returned to Florida for our annual trip at Christmas.  We have gone in 1996, 1997, 1998, 2003, 2005-2013.  That’s pretty much our tradition now.  My son and his pretty pregnant wife also were there, as were my husband’s parents.  It was a lovely time of relaxing, reflecting and looking forward to what’s ahead.  My husband worked less than he ever has on the trip, which was a lovely surprise.  We all talked about next year there being a baby with us.  We counted our blessings and enjoyed each other’s company.

2014 will be another year of sameness coupled with some big events.  My day to day world will feel the same but much will change.  Each year I get a little more able to really appreciate all that I have and be content rather than worry about what others have that I don’t.  I’m not there yet, but I have made a lot of progress towards it.

I hope that everyone out there has something to celebrate tonight, and something to look forward to next year.  Happy New Year!

Hanging On

I’m still hanging on here in my little corner of the world.  Things are quiet and busy and for the most part good.  Here’s a quick sampling of the latest and greatest goings on these days:

1.  I am running for the local Board of Education (again).  I’m so much more jaded and realistic about it this time.  I know it’s all just a shell game of name recognition and party affiliation.  Our town is a red town so running as a D is tough, but doable if you have enough name recognition.  I have done a lot in town so we’ll see what happens.

(Here is where I could lapse into a huge diatribe about how this whole government shutdown is keeping me up at nights and how party and politics is stupid and why can’t people do the right thing, but I digress).

2.  My daughter is busy, busy, busy and it’s getting hard to keep up with her.  It’s a good thing, a far cry from her awful days last fall when she struggled with friends and spent a great many days alone in her room after school.  I’m loving that she’s thriving in marching band, in soccer and landed a role in the middle school fall drama.

3.  My little guy is holding his own, but isn’t doing much for activities.  At this point we’re chalking it up to needing the down time after holding himself together all day at school.  We’ve had a few alarming meltdowns recently (one, two weekends ago, was a reminder of the bad old days, with an all out screaming fit that lasted over half an hour).  I’m not going to lie, I’m a little worried for him, but staying the course.

4.  Hubby is looking to potentially switch jobs.  This is big news but likely won’t mean too much of a change for us as a family.  He’s been putting feelers out with other companies and getting some results….we will see what the next few months bring.  After being with the same company for two moves and 13 years, it seems like a big jump.  Especially since this job was the one that brought us here to CT where we knew exactly one person when we moved here.  The new positions he is looking at mean no move but lots of travel for him.  It’s not a huge change for us, and will probably be a great thing for him.  We’ll see what happens.

5.  Worried about my son and daughter in law with all of this shut down business.  My son’s job is with a private company but a lot of their work comes via the EPA so this is all getting a bit much.  They have a baby on the way and I was already worried about how they will support themselves once he/she is born.  They don’t have the luxury of throwing away their savings right now on stupid party politics.  For the love of God, I hope these idiots in the House get their shit together today.

6.  Entered a weight loss challenge from now until Thanksgiving.  I’ve been trying to lose the same 15 pounds for…gulp….two years.  Enough is enough.  Hoping this will be the wakeup call/jump start I need to finally make better choices and feel better about my body.

7.  Speaking of losing weight, it would be perfect timing because I’m finally going to see my favoriate rock start again after four years.  A few girlfriends and I are going to see my pal Rick Springfield in NYC in November.  It’s a small, initiate, acoustic show at a winery.  I hope everyone enjoys it and I’m able to just lose myself in the moment without all the crap that used to be part of going to RS shows.  We’ll see.

That’s about it for now.  Deep thoughts are for later….it’s 6:15 am right now and time for me to start the day.

Yes, Adam and Steve

All over my Facebook feed, there are people posting, talking, supporting Marriage Equality today.  It’s truly an amazing thing.  What a different world it is today than it was five, ten, twenty years ago.

Last night, as the evening news talked about the Supreme Court challenges to California’s Proposition 8 and DOMA, as straight people were everywhere were talking about marriage being a civil right, it seemed a good a time as any to talk to my daughter about how this applies to our family.  She is just thirteen, the same age (or maybe even a little older) that I was when I discovered that my father was gay.  I found out by eavesdropping on my sister and a girlfriend talking derisively about my father’s boyfriend.

I remember the shock, the fear, the mild revulsion as I processed the information.  Back then, of course, one didn’t speak of such things.  It was perfectly acceptable to call people fags, homos and queers.  There weren’t any TV shows talking about gay people.   But then as I thought about the whole thing, I realized that it didn’t change anything.  I liked my dad’s boyfriend.  I didn’t want to think about them having sex any more than I wanted to think about my parents doing it.  So they were gay.  They were still good people.  Whatever.

We hardly ever spoke about the gay thing as a family.  My mother knew that I knew, but we didn’t speak of it.  My father knew that I knew, but we didn’t talk about it.  I certainly didn’t talk to my siblings about it.  And most of my friends were blissfully unaware of it.  Plenty of people had divorced parents, and my father’s boyfriend never made an appearance in our lives.  He just happened to be at the house if we went to visit my father.  But he didn’t come to funerals, graduations or weddings.  I worried what people would think if people found out he was gay.  What would they think of me?

But telling my daughter was an entirely different experience.  Of course “gay” still isn’t something that is widely accepted amongst her peer set.  Being called gay or queer at school is still considered negative.  But the plethora of information and familiarity her generation has with homosexuality through pop culture has led them to a much more open attitude about it.  Some people are gay, some are straight.  It’s just who you are.  My daughter shrugged her shoulders when I talked to her last night, as if the news was a: not at all a surprise (after all, she knows my father’s partner lives with him we see them together every Christmas) and b:  no big deal.  The stigma and the strangeness of it all just weren’t there as they were for me.  Gay is just part of life these days.

In fact, the only question my daughter had was how my father could marry my mother, since obviously you are who you are, and if he was gay, why would he choose a woman for a partner?  Explaining society in the 1960s, where being gay was simply not an option, where one got married because that was simply the only choice that existed, was hard to do.  Because she can’t even imagine a world where black people sat on the back of the bus and gay people couldn’t talk about who they were.  I told her that while my father loved my mother, and was happy to be a father and have a family, eventually he became very frustrated.  He was who he was, and eventually he had to live the life he was made to live, not the one that society forced on him.   I am still not sure it made a lot of sense to her, but she nodded and said she understood.

How wonderful it is to have that time, the time when being hateful and bigoted, seems strange and foreign instead of the norm.  We’re still not there yet, not by a long shot.  But the tides definitely have turned, in a big way.  I am not sure if the Supreme Court will be as far along as our society is….only time will tell.

A Strange Day

Yesterday was a strange, strange day here in my little corner of the world.  It has been very raw here since the events of 12.14.12.  I’ve written about some of it.  But we knew yesterday was going to be the day that instead of being neighbors to the events everyone was looking at on the news, we were going to be the event on the news.

The Sandy Hook school children were starting school here yesterday.

I knew the building of course, from having lived here.  My children never attended school at Chalk Hill, because it closed before my kids were of age to go there.  But they attended summer programs there, and I’ve been involved with this or that project there from time to time with my volunteering within the school system.  It was amazing to see the tired old structure, which had been the topic of many harsh discussions in  our town, become a jewel transformed from the rough state it had been in.  Watching the moving trucks bring in the students’ belongings and furniture, seeing the dozens of people working to clean and refurbish the building has been moving, exciting, amazing.  And just a few days before the school was set to open its arms for these kids, these survivors, a new sign was put in front of the school, proclaiming it theirs.  Giving them ownership.  A place to belong.  A new place.

The news trucks started showing up the night before.  They were supposed to be located at the park at the end of my street, rather than anywhere near the school.  And there they were, as I drove my daughter to piano lessons on Wednesday evening.  Six or seven satellite trucks.  By the morning, there were at least twenty.  My daughter snapped a photo of the trucks from the bus on the way to school.  She doesn’t attend the middle school that sits next door to the new Sandy Hook; she attends the STEM academy a few miles away, at our high school.  But the two schools share buses, and so she drives onto the campus every day after school.  It’s given her an insight to this tragedy and our response to it that few have.  She’s seen it all, first hand.

After I packed the kids on the bus, and watched the media descend, I went over to the warehouse in Newtown where the donations are being kept.  An email had arrived two days before Christmas with instructions on how to sign up to volunteer, and I signed up for as many slots as I could.  I drove past the new Sandy Hook on my way; there were police on every side street leading up to the school and blocking the entrance.  There were hand made signs, balloons and ribbons on the road that the buses would drive in on.  It was hopeful, welcoming.

Then I crossed into Newtown.

There were more reminders here, but they were sad, somber memorials.  26 wooden angels on sticks on the side of the road.  A heartshaped sign with one simple word:  Peace.  A gas station with “God Bless” below their pricing.  A big green and white ribbon with 26 stars around it.

With that in my head, I pulled into the warehouse.

The warehouse was huge, and bustling.  There were dozens of people working.  Donations from all over the world lined tables, piled on the floors.  There were school supplies, toys, blankets, food.  But most of all, stuffed animals.

Thousands and thousands and thousands of them.  Heartbreaking, some with notes attached.   From Iowa, Georgia, Arizona, Florida.  All over.  My job for the entire shift was to sort through them.  Teddy bears separated out from generic stuffed animals (dogs, cats, penguins, even snakes!, you name it).  Small, medium, large.  Sorted and counted and boxed, over and over and over.  A whole room of us doing this.  There had to have been ten thousand of them sorted, boxed and loaded onto pallets while I was there yesterday.

The people working were a mix of locals like me, disaster relief employees, senior citizens and a church group from Florida who had driven up with a trailer full of donations and then stayed to volunteer.  All of us focused on the task in front of us.  Very few of us spoke about the unspeakable thing that brought us all there to do the work we were doing.  We were young and old, all walks of life, united in tragedy.

I drove away from my shift with tears in my eyes and lead in my chest.  On the way home, more news trucks down the street from me.  I actually drove into the park to get a closer look, I couldn’t believe it.  My tiny little town, our small corner of the world.  Forever changed, forever different, forever on the map of grief of our country.

It was a strange, strange day.  I can’t imagine what it was like for those families.  As much as I am having a hard time processing this grief, I know it is a gift that any of those families wish they had.  My ephemeral sadness as opposed to their gut wrenching loss.

So I’ll keep doing what I can, volunteering at the warehouse, taking any chance we have to help the families here locally, working with our PTOs to support theirs.  And I’ll keep on living, because that’s what we have to do.  Even if sometimes it is with a heavy heart and tears in my eyes.

Newtown

I had just come home from a run and was feeling pretty proud of myself.  I’d run 6.25 miles this morning, in 30 degree weather, and walked another half mile to warm up and cool down.  It was farther than I’d ever run before, in preparation for a 10K race I signed up for in New York City.

I’d planned to spend most of today working on a website, an upgrade to a current client’s site that they wanted done by Christmas.  So I quickly hopped in the shower and got cleaned up before sitting down at my computer to get to work.

My homescreen is NBC News.  On the screen was a red breaking news bar.  They use red for the really big stuff, so I glanced up at it.  “Shooting at elementary school in Newtown, Conn.”

Newtown is the town next door to me.

I frantically clicked on the words, but they weren’t a link yet.  The story was too new.  I ran for the TV remote and turned on the television.

It was true.  It was sickeningly, horrifyingly true.

I called my girlfriend to see if she knew anything.  I couldn’t even get the words out.  I called my husband, out of town for work in Florida.  He already knew via Twitter.  He seemed calm.  Why was he so calm?  This was ten miles away.  This was an elementary school.  This was too close, too awful.

I turned to Facebook for more information.  Friends started posting that our own school district was contemplating a lockdown status.  With the news reports hinting at more than one shooter, I wasn’t surprised when the call came through:  schools on lockdown.

At first, it seemed like a terrible tragedy had been somewhat averted.  For several hours the only fatality reported was the gunman, and the local hospital reported only three hospitalizations.  I tried to work on my site with the TV on in the background.

But then my girlfriend called back.  “27 confirmed dead,” she croaked into the phone, her voice thick.

“No.  That cannot be true,” I answered.  But then I started changing the channel.  Sure enough, some stations were indeed reporting that.  We cried together for a minute, until my cell phone started ringing.

When the out of town calls started coming in, that’s when I realized that this was not a tragedy averted.  This was real.  Those statistics were real.  My seventh grade daughter called home and asked me to come get her; the schools were allowing parents to pick up their kids (but you couldn’t go inside the locked down school).  I ran out of the house and made my way to her.

There were six other parents waiting there when I got there.  My girl reported to me that dozens of kids had already been picked up.  That the school had shut down the wi-fi to try and protect the kids from the worst of it.  The TVs normally running during lunchtime in the cafeteria were switched off.

But it wasn’t until I returned home with my girl that I learned the worst of it.  I wouldn’t turn the TV on to protect her and her brother from the scary images being played wall to wall.  I opened my computer and looked to the Newtown Patch, a site I follow because it is the town next door, a town so similar to our own.

It was then I learned that the children were killed.

Children.  Babies.  Kindergarteners.  Children younger than all of mine.

I cannot process this tragedy.  I cannot find words to express how horrific this all is.  I cannot even imagine what those parents are going through, what this day that started out so ordinary, so typical could have been like.  Just a few miles away from me.  In a school just like my kids’.  I am stunned, saddened, heartbroken, lost.

God bless all of those sweet angels.  Take care of the too many families going through hell this cold December night.

 

Gratitude

The day before Thanksgiving.  Today is the day before Thanksgiving.

I was going to type in a longish, ranty post about my brother again.  For those keeping score, my brother ended up not cancelling his trip to FL this Christmas, so we will in fact all be together.  He sent me a note asking what my children, my husband and myself would like for gifts.  I think the note was as close as I’ll get to an apology.  But by then I had already moved on from my anger to acceptance.  This is who he is.  Whatever.  I told him to not bother with gifts for us, gave him inexpensive ideas for my kids, and told him what options I was choosing off of his kid’s list.  He responded that they were thinking of getting a laptop for his kid for Christmas, so those would be perfect options.   My sister went ballistic again, but I’d already moved on.  My brother is who he is.  He won’t change.  I’m done trying to hope for it to happen.  It won’t.  Life goes on.

Instead, I am mulling over Thanksgiving.  We are staying at home again this year and I am pushing myself hard to not allow it to be as unsatisfying as it was last year.  Last year, R and I fought silly battles with no big meal or task to distract us from sweating the small stuff.  This year, we won’t even have my eldest home to behave a little better for.  Z is staying in DC this year, spending this Thanksgiving with his fiancee, since they plan on spending Christmas with us down in FL.  I think this marks the first time I’ll have spent this day without him.  Which makes me sad, in a way, but mostly grateful that he is doing so well and happy on his path.

Which is how I am resolving to feel about myself and our Thanksgiving together this year as well.  We are doing well financially this year; my husband’s job continues to be incredibly busy and therefore (we hope) secure.  I am getting enough website work to keep me feeling productive and justify me spending my time this way.  The two younger kids are both doing well in school.  My daughter seems to have mended fences with several of the kids who were causing her trouble at school, and did amazingly well in her role in the school play a few weeks ago.  We are planning our annual trip to Florida for Christmas, which is always a wonderful week of warmth, family and sun (hopefully).   R has worked hard in the last six months to address the needs that I laid out to him in our devastating fight last May.  It’s not perfect, not by a long shot, but I think we have both done a pretty good job at trying hard to appreciate each other and not sweat the small stuff.  We’re talking more, doing more together, and not getting upset with each other when life gets in the way as much.  It’s a nice feeling.

So this Thanksgiving?  I won’t spend it thinking of years past, wondering if I’d chosen this path or that path would my life be better.  This is the path I chose, the present I have, and I am grateful for it.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

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