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Thursday, December 31, 2015

A love letter for the New Year

It’s 9:12pm New Years Eve Night.  My husband is watching football in his office.  My parents are upstairs watching what they watch.  Dick Clark maybe.  Isn’t he dead?  Hopefully not.

Ellie is asleep, miraculously, through the fireworks the neighbors are setting off.  I don’t know what it is about Texans and loud, gawd-awful noises but they love them.  Anything that makes a loud BOOM makes them all very happy.  BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.  Ugh.

I went outside thinking, I’m being bombarded by explosions I might as well enjoy the show.  So I take Ellie’s monitor and my phone, slip into my rain boots and step outside.  It has warmed up considerably and is actually warmer now at 9pm than it was even a few hours earlier.  I’m standing in the cool night, the rain not falling exactly but kind of misting on my skin.  

I see Toby coming up the driveway from the street.  Poor Toby did we leave him outside!?  Not Toby, Toby is back in the house snuggled under a blanket, probably already asleep.  The way it moves I think no, it must be a large, fat cat.  It gets closer.  Coming right toward me so I think it must be scared and lost and wants to come inside where it’s quieter and where there’s food.

It isn’t a dog or a cat I realize as it gets closer, it’s a fox.  A small, scared fox.  She (he?) seems to see me standing there and veers off into the brush beside the driveway.  Fireworks must be scaring every small animal within 500 miles.  And then I think…what other  animals might it be scaring out of hiding and toward me in the rainy night?  I hear other rustling in the brush and think I see the tan hide of a deer.  Or a coyote?  And….it’s back inside for this city dweller.

Still, the moment is mine.  One special moment where I shared the rainy night with another scared, wild animal.  Or possibly several.  

Those special moments we share, unexpectedly, with some of nature’s closest children seem to transcend us.  Take us out of ourselves.  Reminds us there is a whole world out there we are interconnected with and that we are affecting whether we are aware of it or not.

Tomorrow is next year.   What do we hope for ourselves for the coming year?  I hope I can make my way through this year softly.  I hope the disturbance my life stirs up in the ocean of the world is a positive one, and I leave love in my wake.  #holyhippiehoo-ha?  Maybe.  It is my sincere desire to reach beyond my own insecurities and faults to make the world a better place.  Or at least, to make it shiny in the corner where I am.  

Mother Theresa said ‘There are no great acts, only small acts done in great love.’  

I hope I can remember to love even when I feel like I need more of it myself, to reach out and help when I feel like I need it more, and to have the courage to live my best life.

And to everyone else I love, Happy New Year and happiness, health, healing, and humor to you all.  Be safe, and if you can’t be safe, have fun.  If you can’t be safe OR have fun…well, I can’t help you there.  Go hug a puppy or something.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Friendly Bubonic Plague, Messy Breakfasts, The Sunshine of Ellie-Belle

Having mom and dad here for Christmas has been AWESOME.  

Someone to talk to in the morning who isn’t in a bad mood when they wake up?  SUBLIME.  

I wake up wishing Ellie would sleep in a little longer but otherwise excited to get the day started.  I don’t know why.  Each day is more of the same since I’m not working, each day a cookie cutter cut-out like the last and yet…I wake up singing.  

There may be something wrong with me that only serious drugs and surgery can fix.  Since I am firmly of the belief drugs and unnecessary hacking only lead to other problems, I guess the world is stuck with me how I am.  

Well, not the world really because they can take me or leave me but BILL is stuck with me how I am.  Mom and dad are too but they raised me so they’ve given up expecting me to suddenly sprout ‘normal’ horns and move about my day.  I don’t know what ‘normal’ horns are.  I may be delirious from the Bubonic Plague dad picked up at the airport and gave to everyone but mom.  (You go mom!  Rah rah rah!)

Maybe if dad weren’t so friendly he wouldn’t have picked up said Bubonic Plague but we’ll never know for sure.  DAD I DO NOT BLAME YOU.  He was the sickest of us all in fact he’s still not feeling well despite the hot ginger tea I’m pushing on him like a heroin dealer with a gambling problem.  (Ginger helps boost your immune system).  True.  Google it.  Doooooo it.  Ack I'm doing it again, sorry, sorry.  (But seriously it DOES help.)

Ellie is finally getting better and I didn’t get very sick myself.  I credit my ‘I’m not sick’ mantra.  Whenever I’m sick I convince myself I’m not really sick, I’m just FIGHTING a cold.  Which I am.  And which I will win.  

Moving about my day in pretty much the same way I would if I weren’t fighting a cold with the exception of drinking lots of hot liquids, getting extra sleep when I can and taking a decongestant to keep things moving.  Also, incorporating a few immune building poses in my daily yoga practice.  Yes I have a daily yoga practice.  Ba ba baaaaa.  Maybe ‘practice’ is misleading.  More like…daily…TASTE of yoga.  A few poses, usually Cat/Cow and a few twists, maybe some downward dog or back bends.  Ten to fifteen easy peasy minutes and then about 10 mins of meditation at the end of the day.  

Doable even for a mom of a sick 19 month old.  It’s just part of my ‘bedtime’ routine like brushing my teeth and checking for monsters under my bed.  Texans call them cockroaches but I prefer to call them brown beetles.  It makes my skin crawl slightly less when I think of them that way.  Slightly.

ANYWHO.  Back to being excited over having someone (mom) up with me in the morning who smiles when I smile and laughs at my (very laughable) morning antics.  I couldn’t get a smile out of Bill in the kitchen in the morning if I had Jerry Seinfield, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert AND Tina Fey all jockeying for ‘funniest person ever’.  Truly. 

He’s in a good mood when he first wakes up but by the time he gets to the kitchen and starts to cook himself breakfast he’s sunk into quite a cranky funk.  Maybe it’s the shock of a messy kitchen?  

After so many years living by himself, having the kitchen be in the same state of sterile, obsessive cleanliness when he gets up in the morning as when he went to bed the night before, it must be quite a shock to come out and witness the carnage Ellie and I can create in mere moments of half-wakefulness.  Breakfast is messy business around here.  There's waffles to make, blueberries to wash, apples to peel and cook, strawberries to wash and cut up for Ellie.  Breakfast is serious business 'round here.  Hence, messy.

ANYWHO.  I’m grateful mom and dad are here.  And focusing on gratefulness, I’m grateful that no matter what mood Bill is in, taking care of Ellie always, always, ALWAYS cheers him up.  It never ceases to amaze me how that little girl can make him light up just by smiling, or picking her nose, or doing 'old man lip.'  Life isn’t perfect but it sure is lovely.  And weird.  Mostly lovely.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Taking a Look at Ange’s Sparkly Bits

Christmas is nothing if not a big ball ‘o sparkly, shiny, sappy awesomeness.  Unless you’re completely alone this time of year in which case…it’s more like a small nugget of potential sparkly, shiny, sappy awesomeness.  Which may be the best kind of sparkliness there is, let’s be honest.

I do tend to get my hopes high at Christmas time.  Or any time really but the big pressure is at Christmas.  I'm trying to let it go.  Let it go....let it gooooooooo.  Letting it gooooo is really haaaarrrddd.....

I'm experimenting, trying to see what would happen if I held my ideal of the perfect Christmas in my head, gave it a little mental hug, cozy down in it for a minute, then...let it go.  Totally letting go of my expectations of what this holiday should be.  I'm letting it float up, up, up and away like a big, bright yellow balloon.  As Ellie says...bye bye....

What if we all took a good look around at our imperfect houses and imperfect families and looked for all the bright sparkly bits around us, right here, right now?  

Well, I’m glad you asked.  Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some of Ange’s Bright Sparkly Bits for 2015 and forever, really:

  1. That first sip of hot tea on a cold December morning 
  2. Christmas music playing on my IPOD
  3. The rattle of dishes being put away as mom empties the dishwasher for me  
  4. The clink of toys in Ellie’s playroom as Bill helps her build a tower of blocks  
  5. The warm glow of Christmas lights all around the house (Sure I wish my tree didn’t look like a Charlie Brown Runner-Up)...but that’s not a Bright Sparkly Bit.  Nothing I want, nothing I wish, nothing I had are Bright Sparkly Bits.  Only what I have right here, right now can qualify as a Bright Sparkly Bit.

So.  The warm glow of Christmas lights I have scattered all around the house?  Sparkly Bit.

Ellie in a good mood and singing?  Sparkly Bit.

Me and everyone I love healthy and happy?  Sparkly Bit.

Toby’s wet kisses?  Sparkly.  Leftover apple pie for breakfast?  Sparkly.  Presents under the tree?  Sparkly, sparkly, sparkly!

SPARKLY BITS!  So don’t just take a look at MY sparkly bits, take a good look at some of your own.  Jeepers.

Write ‘em down even.  Throw them in a drawer.  A few weeks, or a few months later you will stumble across it and by that time you will have forgotten that Aunt Ida asked if you were six months pregnant (and you just lost ten pounds) and the dog ate part of the turkey (and you cut it off and didn’t tell anyone) and you DID eat that whole bag of Godiva chocolates in a stress-induced eating frenzy…you WILL remember with fondness the Sparkly Bits.  (Aunt Ida slipped on a banana peel).  (Your teenaged daughter looked up from her phone long enough to make eye contact and smile after she opened her first present).  These are the things we should be focusing on.

And if you are having a hard time finding those Sparkly Bits just remember, there’s always leftover apple pie for breakfast.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Mack Trucks, Toilet Cycling, Good Things

I’m late with my entry today.  I wasn’t hit by a Mack truck Saturday night but it sure felt like it.  You see, my sweet Ellie-belle had the flu Thursday.  She was better so quick, eating normally by supper-time Thursday that I doubted it was the flu at all but maybe her canines coming in.  

All doubt was erased at 10pm when I found myself cradling the toilet bowl and wishing I hadn’t eaten pizza, garlic bread with garlic butter and chocolate cake for dinner earlier that night.  I wished that harder than I’d wished for anything in quite some time.

I spent the next six hours cycling between the bed and the toilet bowl.  Ellie had a rough night too, probably because I’m not a demure throw-upper.  (It was loud.)  Bill was super helpful - the first time I yakked he asked if he could get me anything.  (Like…more chocolate cake?  What could I possibly need right now except for the PUKING TO STOP?!).  

I’m not a happy puker.  

Then he promptly went to the living room and feel asleep on the couch.  He did eventually come to bed after I came out and told him I was worried my EXTREME PUKING may wake up Ellie.

Bill was redeemed as Ellie was up about as much as I was Saturday night, and he had to take care of her each time.  And then all day.  I spent Sunday in bed, sleeping, wondering if the plain macaroni I ate for lunch would stay where it was supposed to.  (It did.)

I’m back to ‘normal’ now but yesterday I couldn’t even pick Ellie up.  She was SO HEAVY.  While I was going through the worst of it I was reminded of what I used to do when I was really sick from chemo, or having a hard time with pain.  

I’d imagine a flame flickering or water running and I’d say the word I most needed over and over and over again.  Kind of like a mantra or a prayer I guess.  Last night it was ‘sleep.’  Or, ‘still’.  It actually helps.  It’s not like it totally pulls me out of my body and the suffering but it does move me aside for a bit.  Not out of the pain but above it for awhile because of my focus on something else, I guess.  

Don’t worry, I know that sounds totally nut-job crazy.  I did it for the first time when I was 15, having a bone marrow test for the first time and the word I used was ‘off’ as in, pain please turn off!   Sometimes it’s a phrase and sometimes it’s just a word. 

It is a skill born of desperation and an extreme need to flee the body I was in that allowed me to do it for the first time, that and a really good imagination.  Anyway, it’s a tool I have in my arsenal for when life ISN’T blooming daisies and happy butterflies fluttering. 

Anyhoo…life IS blooming daisies and butterflies aren’t fluttering but they ARE getting more beautiful inside their little cocoons today.  

The sun is shining in my living room window, I love how it looks shining through the white shear curtains I have.  It looks like a Disney movie outside my back windows with the leaves lit up in the morning sun.  The birds are swooping low, enjoying the water bath the recent rain has turned the dips in my backyard into.

There’s a doe resting by the tree stump by my garden.  

Squirrels are scheming to get into the bird feeders.  

Sweet Ellie is napping.  Sweet-ish Bill is working.  Toby is napping, not next to me like he used to, but in our room so he’s closer to Ellie while she’s napping.  Even my DOG is sweet.

And lastly, Mom and dad will be here THIS WEEK!!  So excited to show them around my ‘new’ town.  We’ll go to the Zoo, to NASA, Market Street, of course, Galveston maybe and Austin.  

And it’s almost CHRISTMAS!!  Wheeee!  

I love having my family here for Christmas, it’s too bad I couldn’t fly down Dylan and Kait too.  My heart is full of good things.  

Not like my toilet Saturday night.  Just sayin'.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Socrates is Kind of a Jerk and Congress is full of Zombies

Socrates said:  My advice to you is to get married: if you find a good wife you’ll be happy; if not, you’ll become a philosopher.  

Ouch.  One of history’s first really good burns.  Because he WAS married.  Her name was Xanthippe and she was quite a bit younger than our Philosopher King.  

We don’t know that much about her.  (Hardly surprising since all the history books were being written by men).  An ancient historian had listed her as ‘undesirable’ and Socrates was obviously not ‘happy’.  She gave him three sons.  And he wasn’t happy?  Isn't that what every ancient Greek man wanted?  A stout woman to bear him sons?  Socrates might have been wise but he was kind of a jerk too.  Yeah.  I said that.

What did you imagine when you imagined being married?  (I’m assuming not just having a stout woman to bear you sons).  Although, no judgement in this space….

I imagined having someone you not only love to spend your life with (doesn’t love wax and wane?) but someone you really, actually, genuinely, warts and all LIKE.  

Someone who makes you laugh.  Someone you wouldn’t mind being stuck on a deserted island with.  When I imagined being married I imagined lots of wonderful and silly things that have come true, and some we’re still working on.  

For the most part I was enjoying having a partner, an equal who I could have interesting conversations with over dinner.  Well, that part is definitely true.  Turns out those ‘interesting conversations’ are more like the presidential candidate debates with no sides declaring a clear winner.  (Except in my head, I am always the winner…!)  

We argue about everything from Obamacare to gun laws to the best way to cut the lettuce for the dinner salad.  (That is not an exaggeration.  He likes it cut lengthwise and in thin ribbons.  I prefer to tear it apart in large, chunky pieces.  I realize the lettuce issue is a microcosm of our entire relationship…)

Anywhoo….I know when I’ve had a particularly convincing argument when, days later, long after the fire from the debate has cooled, I find myself fighting from his previous position.  Yes.

I have no idea how this happens.  

Except, maybe because after a few days I concede his point maybe had a modicum of credibility and that’s when he switches sides and argues my previous point for me.  Usually better than I did.

I’d like to blame it all on HIM, he’s so argumentative!  And he is, for sure.  But I seem to remember a certain little girl who loved to argue anyone, anytime, about anything.  

Poor Ellie.  Well, she’ll always hear both sides of the story with us, usually twice.   

In an effort to mend the fences (arguing ALL the time is exhausting and annoying.  Sometimes you just want someone to take your side!) I’ve decided to get us a gift certificate at the gun range down the street.  I figure together, we can learn how to properly imagine the other’s face on a target and shoot it safely.  I think we can bond over firearms.  (Already I’m questioning the sanity of this idea…)

This may surprise some of you.  I am after all the organic-tofu-eating yoga-addicted waaaaaay-far-left-mother-earth-diva kinda lady.  I literally will not hurt a fly.  

Let’s be clear - I don’t want guns ANYWHERE NEAR MY HOUSE.  I’m scared I’m not cutting Ellie's GRAPES small enough and I’d let a DEATH MACHINE in my house?  No.

BUT you can rent the guns at this range and learn how to shoot and I think it might give us a chance to both do something we have no idea how to do together.  I think learning how to shoot a gun will be good for our relationship.  (Again, I’m starting to question the sanity of this idea….)

All that to say this:  I don’t have anything against guns.  But this country is SICK IN THE HEAD if it thinks 353 mass shootings (four or more people killed at one time) in 340 days time is ANYTHING close to normal.  Or SANE.  If this country were a person he’d be labeled a psychotic and locked far, far away from civilized society.  It isn’t that the US has more guns than people that alarms me.  It IS part of this culture after all, for better or worse (lately, worse).  

What alarms me is the complete inability to pass any sort of gun safety laws in this country.  These laws aren’t in place to take guns away from people.  They’re there to ensure the wrong people don’t get their hands on them in the first place.  Every time I hear someone say ‘criminals don’t pay attention to laws’ I want to cry.  You just have to look at Canada, or Australia, or ANY OTHER FIRST WORLD COUNTRY to see that they DO work.  It makes me want to cry because there’s no thought or effort behind that sort of comment.  It’s a deflection.  And a stalling tactic.  It’s just plain not true and it’s literally costing lives.  Every day.

We.  Need.  Better.  Gun.  Laws.

For those interested, this is a quick recap of the main gun regulations in Canada:

A license is required to own or possess firearms. 

Federal government safety course required before applying for a license. 

To be authorized to carry a handgun or restricted long gun for a lawful occupational purpose, such as trapping or working in a wilderness area, an individual must be a Canadian resident, have a firearms license with restricted privileges and obtain an Authorization to Transport permit.

Semi automatic firearms have size restricted magazines (rimfire rifles excluded) 

Automatic firearms not permitted.

These laws are common sense, practical, and they work.  I won’t demonize the NRA - they are what they are.  

The real problem is us.  

We’re not mad enough about the issue to try and make any real changes.  Well, I’m mad.  I don’t want to wait until I hear a phone call from Ellie, hiding under her desk because someone is there trying to kill as many people as they can before they die.  

THIS is the use automatic weapons were MADE FOR.  To kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible.  Surely even in Texas we can agree we don’t need an automatic weapon to hunt, and what skill does it take to hit a target with a semi-automatic rifle?  

What other argument is there?  If you’re stockpiling for the zombie apocalypse rest assured it’s already happened.  What other explanation is there for the lack of movement on this issue in Congress except that they’re all already dead inside?