The top of the list

Well.
I almost couldn’t believe that it had been 6 months since I wrote. That seems impossible. Impossible that I’ve not posted since May. Impossible that it’s been almost 6 months since May.
I’ve become a cliche in the way I discuss and lament the passing of time.
I’ve also discovered you can rein it in and make it work for you if you really try. It seems to be all about priorities. What you decide will get done, gets done. Other stuff may not. But the thing you put at the top of the list gets done. I guess it becomes all about what’s at the top of that list.
The top of my list has been a moving target. The kid that needs that day’s attention. Dry cleaning (Todd will disagree that this one has ever made even the top 3 of my list). Scrambling to get to the store because I didn’t pre-plan dinner. Scrambling to make dinner (it’s not my gift). Spending time with various important people in my life. Etc.

There have been goals in my life over the course of the last 20 years that have been super important to me emotionally, but clearly haven’t been at the top of my priorities list. That means they really aren’t that important. It also means they don’t get done. I’ve been “trying to lose 40 pounds” for about 9 years. I’ve also been wanting to get a book published. When discussing the latter dream with Todd, he said,

“You know what you need to get a book published?”

“No, what?” I asked.

“You need a book.”

Huh. Well, that’s oversimplified, but quite a true statement.

I needed a book, but none of this was at the top of the list.

Life went on.

As some know, I lived in the country for 3 years. For 3 years, I drove. And drove. And drove. And I met strange folks and wonderful folks. And a dude named Paul burned what had to be something illegal in burn barrels out front. And I ran into more than 1 angry pit bull. Per day. And I dreamed. As I drove or biked or walked, I dreamed. About who was in the houses I passed. About who would have THAT MUCH trash on their porch and THAT MANY geese in their front yard. About the man who constantly sat out in front of the Shell station in his camp chair with his cooler.

From that, came an idea. That idea turned into a conversation. That conversation became chapters 1-5 2 years ago. And then those chapters got pushed aside.
Not at the top of the list.

3 weeks ago, a college student posted that she was taking the leap and signing up for Nanowrimo.org. That stands for National Novel Writing Month. In the month of November, people sign up to write 50,000 words. You don’t pay anything and you don’t really win anything. The prize is completion. The prize is that you finish something.

When my friend posted that she was doing this, a bell went off in my head. It felt like a sign. Like it was finally time.  So I signed up and pulled out the ideas I had sketched out before. And I started writing again. The challenge runs from November 1-30. Here it is November 1 and my word count is 13,820. This morning I figured out a big piece to my puzzle. It is all I think about right now.

It is the top of the list. It is the entire list. At least until November 30.

Because of that, I get creative with other items on the list. Last week, I cleaned out the van by opening all the doors and using the leaf blower. Because vacuuming wasn’t on the list. And I gotta tell you…it’s not the worst idea I’ve had.

So if your dream is on the back burner, decide if it really is your dream. If it is, rewrite your list and put the dream at the top.

See ya in 35,000 words or so…or in 6 months.

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My Mother’s Day Gift

It is Mother’s Day weekend and I’ve been thinking an awful lot about it this week. It’s funny how perspectives change. It used to be all about me. Thinking it was my day and dictating how the day should go with the kids. Would they remember? How would they treat me? How would they act in church? Where would we go for lunch? Silly Missy. I don’t care about any of that anymore. Although I did ask for a $22 pair of binoculars and they’ll get them for me if they know what’s good for them.

Mother’s Day this year is not the same. It feels very different. For 46 years, I’ve had a mother. And while my mother is still alive, this year I do not have her. On Tuesday, I spent the morning watching her and trying to help wherever she needed me. At one point, after getting her settled back into her chair, I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “You know Mother’s Day is coming, Mom. On Sunday.” She didn’t respond. Not a word. She turned her head slowly toward the Price is Right and didn’t even look at me. I sat down in the chair next to her and tried to absorb that moment. I tried to process the fact she literally cannot care anymore. Sitting only 3 feet from her, I’d never felt more alone in a room. And for the rest of the week, I walked through my daily tasks with this hollow feeling inside, wondering what to call it. I finally found the word. Just now.

Abandonment.

For weeks I’ve been carrying around this need to tell her everything I want her to know before she actually physically leaves me. I thought through it. I planned it. I convinced myself the opportunity still existed. And then I searched for it.

But on Tuesday, I finally accepted the fact that we are past that point. That ship sailed and I’m standing at the shoreline, wishing I’d done things differently. I wanted to tell her I’m proud of who I am and thankful for her part in that. She taught me so much. She made me strong. She gave me my faith. What better gift is there? I wanted to tell her I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the times I made the angry face behind her back or trashed her to my best friend on the phone. I’m sorry for not trying harder to bridge the gaps between us, when they presented themselves. And I wanted to tell her I love her. She was a good mom. She gave us everything she had. Everything she had.

She can’t have this conversation with me now. And she can’t receive from me what I so badly want to give her.

I had to just let that sink in. I had to just sit in my house and accept all of that. And I cried. All day. When I had to go out, I put my sunglasses on and hid nothing from anyone, though I gave it a shot. The pretense made me feel slightly more in control. At one point, sitting in my parents’ parking lot, I grabbed two warm, dirty pennies from my cup holder and stuck them on my eyes. My internal self-talk from that one was fun. What did I hope to accomplish with that? Tea bags might work. Frozen cucumbers might work. Warm, dirty pennies won’t work. They are not a swollen-eye remedy. All you get with that is smelly, puffy, copper eyes. Nice.

Wednesday continued like that all day. I functioned when necessary, but whenever the world got quiet around me, I cried. Again. And I went to sleep that way, sinking into an exhausted slumber with puffy eyes and an aching head.

At 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning, my lungs filled with air and my eyes snapped open in the dark. I had awakened from a dream. But it was more than that. I had been visited. Comforted. I sat up in the pitch dark bedroom and wrote it down using the light from my phone. I couldn’t risk waking up an hour later with no memory of this dream.

I was sitting in a circle of people. We were in a tiled classroom, sitting in yellow, plastic chairs like you see in every elementary school cafeteria ever. We were studying the Bible. A man was in the center of the circle facilitating but I couldn’t see his face because he didn’t matter to the dream. My mom and dad were in the circle, as were my children. My mom, who knows the Bible better than anyone I’ve ever known, raised her hand to make a comment. After she said her piece, she raised her little New Testament in the air and said, “Missy gave me this Bible.” It was the navy blue bible I had given her over 10 years ago. And then she stood up, walked over to me, and wrapped her arms around my neck in one of those hugs you don’t let go of. Like we both knew it was good-bye. It was the good-bye I needed. It was the conversation I’d been hoping to have, but couldn’t.

“I love you, Mom,” I said, still holding onto her.

“I love you, too,” she replied.

And that was that.

Today, life goes on as yesterday, except for one thing. I had a dream. And that dream gave me peace. Now I know. And I’m counting on the fact that somehow, some way, she knows, too. So, while Mother’s Day is different this year, I received a very special gift: the perfect goodbye. It would never have been my choice, but it’s enough. This year, it’s enough. (Plus the binoculars.)

Open Letter to the Pet Owning World

Two weeks ago, we got a dog.
In general, that statement generates a variety of responses. It varies from “OH! CONGRATULATIONS!” as if you have just adopted a brand new baby to “Way to go, imbecilic stupid-head. Good luck with that.” which is how I used to greet such news. Until I WAS the news.
I have said the phrase, emphatically, on countless occasions: “I will never share my home with a beast.”
I said that.
Many times.
That’s a quote.
What I meant was, “I will never share my home with a beast….until April of 2017.” I now share my home with a beast named Buttercup. In all fairness, she’s less Beastly than Brady by far. BY.FAR.

So since I live my life in a rather outspoken, opinionated fashion, sometimes those opinions find their way back to me and get shoved down my throat like a cyanide-laced bandana. I’ve been told by the Informinator (and she’s never wrong) that I probably ought to apologize. To the world.
So here it goes.

Dear Pet-Owners, Past and Present, of the Universe:
Hi.
I’m sorry.
Sometimes I still judge you. But I’m no longer better than you like I clearly used to be. I am one of you. I found myself out of town last weekend, gloriously alone and blessed to attend a writers conference. When I had 90 minutes in which to buy souvenirs for the children, the first store I walked into…the FIRST ONE…was “Love Dogs and Cats Too.” And I went straight to the counter, told the store owner my dog story, and promptly spent $16 on a new tag for her collar, complete with my phone number. First $16 spent on vacation went to the dog. I’m sorry I did that. I’m sorry to the world.

Everything that is wrong with me can be summed up in this one picture:

I mean, even the sunglasses atop my head are stupid. But there I am, just moments after returning from Georgia, napping on the couch with my dog. I’m spooning the dog.

Yeah, I guess I have to be sorry if I’m going to spoon with a dog.

Well, I mean. Sure. Probably my dog is less beastly than your beast and probably this apology is totally unnecessary.

Yeah. Never mind. My dog rocks and I’m not that sorry.
m

Famping, according to Haiku

This weekend, in Haiku.

_______________________________

No rest since Christmas
Waiting for Fair Day to come
So I could Fake Camp.

Fake Camp is called Famp.
It is all fun and no work.
What’s not to like here?

Lodge style hotel rooms
Long front porch and Ned Flanders
Room 11 rocks.

So much has happened.
Nature melting away stress.
Ping pong and zip line.

Laughing. Walking. Games.
Taking a moonlit hayride.
Soft bed, warm covers.

Weirdos write haikus.
Passing them off as normal.
I’m glad that’s not me.

jumpdab

erinwyatt
boyslakewood
footballlakewood

In my dreams

They say your dreams spring out of your greatest fears or your greatest desires. Somedays I wake up from pretty messed up stuff and think, “Huh.” Sunday night was one of those.

In my dream I was trying to raise $800. And of course, I chose the lobby of my parents’ memory care facility to do my best thinking. I paced back and forth. Back and forth…thinking about that $800. And as I turned on my heel toward the front door, I saw a runner. An ancient white haired lady wearing clamdiggers and a pastel polyester top took off for the outside. She was breaking out. She had big plans. The much younger woman behind the front desk took off after her, scooped her under her arms and escorted back in, all as I watched from the middle of the lobby. The facility administrator led the runner back toward her room and a more cognizant, lucid resident watched from her dining table, clicking her tongue and shaking her headas if to say, Silly lady. Trying to take off again.

And then my million dollar idea came to me. We would invent, develop, manufacture, market, sell and install devices designed to weed out the memory care patients. Easy. It would be like a key pad device. And the lucid residents would know the code and how to use it, but the ones who should not be outside would be stymied by the device. Like childproofing for the Alzheimer’s patient.

In my dream, as this idea came to me, I jumped up and down, shouting, “This is it! This will solve EVERYTHING!”

I woke up just as the tongue clicker had turned her focus on me.

I told this dream to my husband tonight over dinner and described my mental prototype to him.

“Great idea,” he replied. “It really is a good idea. But I’ve got two words for you: FIRE HAZARD.”

It’s true.

You can’t lock people in.

That runner might just have enough left in her to strike a match. Also, there are probably easier ways to make $800.

Last night I dreamed about a giant two-headed baby, where each of the heads was a different race. It was terrifying.

Maybe there’s an essential oil for this. Or maybe just Nyquil.

Yo yo, Garbanzo

  • I have been vocal about my opinions regarding phones. When am I not vocal, I guess?  For the longest time, I wanted an iPhone. It would allow me to play music from my phone. I would be one of the cool kids. It just seemed like the thing. So at just the right time, I inherited a very nice iPhone 5 from a guy who keeps things in pristine condition. I am always a couple of years behind the latest trend, but that’s okay with me. About a month after getting the new-to-me phone, I was cleaning the pool with that lovely phone in the back pocket of my jeans. That day, the pool vacuum was crazy strong–even slightly possessed–and it yanked me forward from my spot on the wall. If I had been of clear mind, I would have let go of the hose. But if I had done that, I wouldn’t be typing right now. I decided to fight back. No vacuum hose would get the better of me. 
  • But it did. It got the better of me. I fell in. So did my phone. It was early March and it should have been very cold water but I wasn’t thinking about that. All I could think about was my phone. Within moments, I was standing in my kitchen, dripping wet, and plunging my soaked phone into rice. Five days later, I had to resign myself to the fact that it was gone. Dead. In a graveyard of other wasted technology. And now I had no phone. 
  • After replacing that iPhone only to crack the screen of the next one, it became apparent that it was not a marriage made in heaven. I began to despise the cracked screens I would see in public. They were all iPhones. I began to loathe the elitist attitude of Apple. I absolutely despised Siri because she is JUST SO DUMB. And I began to dream of Android. 
  • Yesterday, that dream came true and I slammed the door on iPhone without looking back. 
  • In setting up my older model Motorola phone (I’m still a couple of years behind), I had to come up with a catch phrase to wake the “Siri” that lives within Android phones. The default is “Hello, Google,” but I’m not a default kind of gal. Under pressure to make a quick decision, as the phone recorded, I said the words, “yo yo, garbanzo.” It sounded just quirky enough to be cool. 
  • It is not cool. Or quirky. It’s just stupid. And now, when I want to find out news or weather, I say the words, “yo yo, garbanzo” followed by something like, “what’s the latest on Hurricane Matthew?” And Garbanzo tells me that this Category 4 storm is bearing down on Jamaica. 
  • I don’t think I can live with yo yo garbanzo. I’m working on a new phrase that’s much more dignified. I’m thinking of something like, “Good evening, Master Poindexter,” or even something just conversational like, “Hi there, Bill.”
  • ______________
  • Days have passed since I first began this post. And though I am quite certain I’m overthinking the situation, I have finally landed on a phrase that wakes up my digital man-servant. His name is Chester McGillicutty and I call him Chester McGillicutty. 
  • And he answers me. 
  • Sometimes we chat about how dumb Siri is, but don’t tell anyone that because people might think this is weird. 

Preparation, Not H

I have heard whispers of truth that I probably should accept and confirm.

(1) I’m no spring chicken. The truth is, I’m not young any more. I won’t call myself old today, though I often do, but I am most certainly not young. I’m old enough to know better, do better, act better, run for President (this could be MY YEAR), and get false ads for AARP in the mail. I’m old enough to love a bargain, to look forward to errands at TJMaxx, and to remember hating Mash re-runs. Surely this must mean something, but I’m not sure where exactly I’m going with it.

(2) The fact that I’m no spring chicken means that I probably should stop thinking like and making decisions like a spring chicken. I don’t have “youth” as a valid excuse. Nor do I have all the time in the world to fix the things I do poorly at this stage. And no one will clean up my messes. I think it’s time to take life seriously, while still having a good time. It matters.

(3) Preparation is key. The absolute key. Especially now. There was a time in life when the stakes were lower and the success rates higher and the process easier. Now is not that time. I never accidentally lose 5 pounds. I never fall into saved money. Relationships don’t happen in camp-like settings. The kids don’t suddenly exhibit an awesome behavior without being taught.

If I want it, I’m going to have to go get it rather intentionally, if not painfully. If I succeed, it will be from preparation.

The key to real estate is Location, Location, Location.

The key to life is Preparation, Preparation, Preparation.

H.

To be continued…