Well, the cat’s out of the bag

Well, the cat’s out of the bag

First of all, I want somebody to tell me why the cat was in the bag. Or, maybe more importantly, how did you get the cat into the bag? Is there a special cat-bagging technique that my husband and his vet tech friends should know about? Because there seem to be a lot of cats in a lot of bags lately, and nobody really knows how they got there.

BUT ANYWAY!

Obviously, there’s been something wrong with my brain cells lately. I’m wondering¬†about proverbial cats in proverbial bags and don’t know how to ring doorbells, but there’s a good reason for that.

Remember when I said the Mister and I have a few major projects going on that were distracting me from my regular posts?

Well, we do.

We’re having a baby.

baby announcement

ūüėÄ Yes, yes, we are quite proud of ourselves.

I alternate between “Aww, we’re going to have a baby. I just want to hold all the babies, and I can’t wait for my baby to get here” and something that sounds a bit like

“AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH WHAT HAVE WE DONE WHAT WERE WE THINKING WHY DID WE DO THIS WE’LL NEVER HAVE ANY MONEY LIFE AS WE KNOW IT IS OVER AND HOW COULD WE EVER HAVE THOUGHT THIS WOULD EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER BE A GOOD IDEAAAAAAAAAAAA…”

Yeah. There are up and down days.

But mostly good. Six months to go and I can sort of see the walls in what will be the baby’s room behind all the boxes and piles of homeless stuff that has nowhere else to live.¬†It’ll get there.

Someday.

Probably on or around October 20…..

[October??!!! Good grief what am I doing sitting here at work. There is WAAYYYYY too much to be doing to be going to work. We¬†need to read the books, we need to buy the furniture, we need to clean the house, we need to buy a fence, we need to have a yard sale, we need to….]

Pray for us. We’re going to need it.

-The Mommy ūüôā

[Good gracious, somebody’s going to expect me to be their mommy??!! Shouldn’t you have to pass a test for that or something??]

 

Just… ring… the doorbell…

I haven’t forgotten all my readers, I promise! The Mister and I are working on a few big projects around the house, and everything has unconsciously taken a backseat until those are done. But I’m here, I’m alive, and this morning, I was locked out of my house.

When I grabbed my lunchbox and headed out to the car (because my priorities are obviously in order), I briefly thought my arms should be heavier. Then the door clicked shut, and I knew.

You know that feeling when you suddenly become aware that something very bad has happened, and you know there is nothing you can do about it, but your brain is still in denial?

Yeah, that feeling.

When the door clicked shut behind me, my first words were, “No… no no no no no!”

Sure enough, my purse, with my house keys, car keys, cell phone, wallet and everything else essential to my day, was sitting at the kitchen table, three feet from the locked door I was standing behind.

I knew this day would come. I knew it. From the first day we moved into this house I knew the moment would arrive where I would¬†stand¬†in the garage and stare at my keys through the back window. And here it was at last. Had I prepared for it by putting a spare key somewhere? No. Of course not. That’s what a smart person would do. And you’re about to see I’m not exactly a smart person.

I wanted to avoid having the Mister come home from work to let me in, so my first impulse was to shake and rattle the back door to convince myself that I had, in fact, actually locked it behind me. (Yes, people, I do have a college degree.) Then I tried the front and back doors, hating myself for being a responsible home owner and locking the house up tight before I left.

Then I spent 10 minutes trying to open the back windows from the outside. (It cannot be done, which is both reassuring and incredibly frustrating at the same time.)

Then I walked a few houses down the main road to where some friends of ours live, not sure if they would even be home. All three cars were in the driveway, all signs pointed to yes, so I knocked on the door.

And I knocked. And knocked a few more times. And called their names and told them it was me. And briefly considered trying to set off one of their car alarms.

Nobody answered, so I walked back to my house and woke up another neighbor who was nice enough to let me call the Mister to come to my rescue. He came, he laughed, he went back to work. An hour after I left for work, I finally arrived at my office.

The first thing I did was send a message to my friends who didn’t answer the door.

“What good is it knowing people who live down the street if they won’t let you in when you lock yourself out of the house?” (half kidding. mostly kidding. I think.)

Response: “We didn’t hear you. You should have used the doorbell.”

THE DOORBELL!!

Why in the world did I not just ring the doorbell???????!!!!!

What in the world is wrong with me!??

I had actually, very briefly, noticed the doorbell when I first walked up, but I made the decision to knock instead. Maybe the brain cells that were awake thought that would be less rude, somehow? At any rate, I didn’t encode the information or go back to it when the knocking didn’t work.

Just. Ring. The doorbell.

Good grief.

 

Trust me, you don’t need a life plan.

In high school and college, I heard lots of talk from friends and teachers about “having a life plan.” Five-year, 10-year, 15-year plans: Career moves, marriage, children, whatever it was you wanted in life, you needed to have a clear set of goals to get there. Everybody stressed the importance of having a predetermined path¬†to get to a specific place where you thought you wanted to be.

Over and over again, I’ve seen friends who couldn’t meet the goals outlined in their “life plans” and suffered great anxiety and disappointment because of it.

Through the course of my job, I’ve had the privilege to interview a large number of people who have been deemed “successful” by the world at large: company CEOs, lawyers, doctors, civil servants, athletes, coaches, television personalities, etc. People who have reached the top of their field, according to those around them. And I’ve started to see a common thread running through all my interviews.

They didn’t have a “life plan.” They didn’t follow a set of goals to get to where they are today. In many cases, they aren’t even in the fields they intended to be in and wound up where they are largely by happy accident.

Bill Rhodes, president and CEO of AutoZone, was hired into his first auditing job (which later led directly to his AutoZone position) not because of his auditing skills, but because that company had an interdepartmental golf challenge each year, and Rhodes was an all-star college golfer.

He is CEO today, ultimately, because he could hit a golf ball. (He’s an excellent leader and has done great things for that company, but we’re just focusing on the beginning steps here.)

Houston Gordon, a nationally-recognized trial lawyer, took the exam to go to law school because his friends were taking it, and he happened to have enough money to pay the exam fee. Then, while in law school, he joined the National Moot Court Team because a friend saw a flyer and wanted to try out. He didn’t even know what the word “moot” meant! (Told me that himself earlier this week.)

His experience on that team led directly to a position with the Army JAG Corps in the ’70s, during which time he served as primary defense lawyer for Lt. William Calley, a case¬†well-known by those who grew up in the Vietnam era. That case in turn changed him from a tax lawyer to a trial lawyer, and he went on to change the national laws and procedures for¬†half-a-dozen different legal¬†charges. He’s consistently named one of the top-100 trial lawyers in the country, is the winner of dozens of awards and is highly sought-after by clients all over the nation.

No life plan. Just enough money in the bank to take the law school aptitude test.

So I’ve come to this conclusion: having a set “life plan” probably holds us back from many things. Houston Gordon intended to be a professional basketball player. Think of how different the legal world would be if he’d been successful on that path.

I think it is of more benefit to teach our high school and college students to have a good enough educational, spiritual, physical and emotional foundation to be able to accept new opportunities when they come and take the chances that may be offered along the way. Who knows, maybe the person who could have cured cancer ended up teaching mathematics at a high school somewhere because that was his/her original “life goal” and he/she never even considered any other field.

Be open to change. Don’t fear opportunity. Maybe taking life by the horns is the best way to get where¬†you’re truly meant to go.

Happy weekend,

The Missus

 

Weeks ago, my husband nudged me awake.

“Babe, your alarm is going off.”

Wait… what…?

I sat up and listened. Hard.

“I don’t hear anything.”

He pushed me again.

“Trust me. Your alarm is going off.”

So I rolled to the edge of the bed and, sure enough, my iPad screen was on and a still, small sound was barely audible. I’d left the volume turned down to the lowest possible setting from the night before. I pushed the button and rolled back over.

“How can you hear that but you can’t hear me when I’m talking to you?”

“What? I dunno.”

[flash forward a few days]

“Honey, I still don’t know how you could hear my alarm the other day, but you can’t hear me when I’m talking to you. I was right next to it, and I couldn’t hear it ringing.”

“Well, I spend all day, every day, listening for small sound changes. Heart murmurs, valves closing, that sort of thing. So big sounds just get tuned out. You talk all the time. You’re a big sound. I don’t even hear those anymore.”

…….

…….

…….

Well, there you have it.

ūüėČ

Lines

Anyone who is or has ever been a Gilmore Girls fan knows Rory Gilmore is supposedly a world-class journalist. She ends the original series with a post-graduation position as a press corps member on the first Obama presidential campaign – a job that would be demanding, stressful, challenging and incredible, regardless of political party. 

In the newly released four additional episodes, “A Year in the Life,” Rory takes a writing assignment “on spec” (without pay until the article is finished and accepted for publication) for a major magazine. The pitch, called “Lines,” is supposed to focus on the long lines prevalent in New York City for everything from store openings to special sales to mystery guest appearances and the people who spend their time waiting in them. 

Rory spends several hours one morning interviewing people standing in various lines and asks a lot of random, disconnected questions about the things they are waiting to buy. She ultimately goes home disapponted and unable to find an angle to pitch the story at all.

This irritates me to no end because I know exactly how she should write it! The whole point is the human interest aspect – who are these people and why do they spend their time this way? We don’t care what they’re waiting for; we care why they’re waiting! 

Never once does Rory, who has supposedly been published in The New Yorker, ask any significant questions about these people’s lives. What backgrounds do they come from? Why are those special sneakers important enough to them to camp out on the sidewalk? Why did the mother she interviews leave her children at home to wait in this particular line? What are these people giving up to have the time to be in these lines, and why is it worth the sacrifice? 

She even runs into a man who doesn’t know what he’s waiting in line for! He just saw a line of people and got in it, figuring he didn’t want to miss out on whatever they might be waiting for! Now, if you can’t pull a story from that then you aren’t worth your salt as a journalist. 

I love human interest stories! I love writing them and I love the interviews that tell you more about the lives behind the faces you see on the street. I could have pitched a whole series of articles on the different reasons, personalities and backgrounds of people in New York’s infamous lines! In fact, I would love to do that! I love our quiet little town, but sometimes I wonder what things I could have done somewhere else. 

I may be burned at the stake for this, but I am very disappointed in Rory Gilmore.

What was all that Yale education for, anyhow? 

A work in progress

Those who know me personally know that I had a unrealistic expectation that the Mister and I would close on our new house, get all the painting and fixing up completely done, and then move our belongings inside and start living in an already-magazine-perfect home.

Yes, yes, I know. You’re laughing. I get it.

That is not what happened, obviously. Maybe if we’d both taken two weeks off work and did nothing but work on the house, but certainly not with 8-5 jobs and two puppies to take care of.

In reality, we closed on the house on a Monday, and I took the day off to paint and clean. Lots of work got done that day. Then nothing else got done all week long. We gave up the dream and moved in that Saturday.

The house is a work in progress, but progress is being made. The hallway is completely painted and has been for a few weeks now. We’ve bought a few small pieces of furniture and the Mister hung new blinds in the living room and kitchen last week. There’s even a welcome mat by the back door. It’s a slow progress, but it’s progress.

The biggest hurdle of the past few weeks has been the color of the living room walls. The Mister loves the chocolate brown and cranberry red that are already there, and I don’t dislike them, but I wanted to make the house OURS instead of just living in someone else’s home… so I’m painting.

I have agonized over the color choices for WEEKS! I’ve brought home dozens of paint cards and painstakingly eliminated one by one. I’ve bought quarts of test colors and painted swatches on the walls and scrutinized them from every angle in every type of light. I finally came to a decision a little more than a week ago. After painting almost one whole wall with my test quart, I ran back to Walmart for a few more gallons. They were out of the base type they needed to mix my paint, and they weren’t sure that a substitution would still work just right. So I waited.

Last week went by. The wall was half done and driving me crazy. So yesterday, Sunday, I went back to Walmart. They STILL didn’t have the base type I needed (our rural Walmart only restocks thing about once a quarter), but I agreed to try a substitution in the hopes that it would match.

I got home and painted a test patch.¬†It was close! I thought it was the same! But it wasn’t. I continued painting, hoping it would somehow, magically be the same color when it dried. Or that maybe if I just kept painting I would cease to care.

As it turns out, after much pacing and muttering and frustration… I actually like the mistake color better than the color I chose. I hate to admit that, because I spent so much time choosing that color, but the mistake is slightly deeper and, believe it or not, is EXACTLY the color I had in my mind but couldn’t find on paper.

I bought two more quarts of the exact same “mistake” formula and redid the wall.

So it’s a work in progress. The living room looks TERRIBLE right now, with one wall needing a last coat, one wall with only the edges done and one wall with a big swatch right in the middle where I needed to use up the rest of the paint I’d already poured out. It’s horrendous. But when it’s done, it will be beautiful, and it will be exactly what I wanted.

So here’s to making a¬†house a home, and here’s to a husband who lets me pick whatever colors I want without (too much) complaining. ūüôā

Happy Monday,

The Missus

Sticks and Stones

Yesterday morning in bible class (fifth and sixth-grade girls), I was finishing up a lesson on people and things we should pray for, and the last point was to “pray for our enemies and people who may not like us or agree with us.” (Very applicable in today’s world, I might add, but that’s a topic for another time.)

One of my students, a young girl who is rather eccentric sometimes, popped her head up and asked, “Why would I pray for the people who don’t like me? People are so mean to me. Everybody thinks I’m weird.” She¬†explained how she no longer rides the school bus because certain kids were so mean to her that she couldn’t stand to go to school. She talked about how she only has two friends in the school, but they don’t have any of the same classes, and nobody else ever wants to talk to her and sit with her at lunch.

I didn’t know what to say. I came out with something about how people can be mean and life gets better as you get older. I said something about how everyone has a soul and we must try to love and pray for their souls, even if we don’t really like that person. I went on about how we are God’s examples in the world, and we might be the only Christians those mean people see every day.

That’s what I said, but what I was thinking was completely different.

___________________________________

I remember the day it started.

I had a friend from my fifth-grade class, Nikki,* who lived down the street . We played in each other’s backyards a lot, and I remember a specific day when we spent several hours playing computer games in her basement. We invited the new girl across the street, Kate,* who was also in our class, to come over.

The next day I went back to Nikki’s house and knocked on the door. She answered, but obviously didn’t really want me to come inside. I heard Kate down in the basement, but I left anyway. I thought surely it didn’t matter.

Over the next month or so, I began to notice my classmates, those I had considered my friends, stopping their conversations when I walked up and making an effort to shut me out of activities. For a long time I thought I was exaggerating this in my head.

I still remember one specific afternoon when I rode my bike down to Nikki’s house and knocked. Her mother told me she was across the street at Kate’s house swimming in the pool. So I walked over and knocked on the privacy fence gate; I could hear my “friends” laughing in the water. Instantly, the splashing stopped and there was a lot of whispering. I let them know I could hear them and asked if I could come in. The reply came back: “Well, uh, we were really just about to get out and, uh…”

“Oh, well can I come and hang out with you after?”

“Oh, uh, well… we’ve got some stuff to do. We’re gonna be really busy. Maybe later.”

I heard my name and loud laughter as I walked back to my bike. That’s when I knew for sure that I wasn’t imagining it.

The last few months of fifth grade and the following summer were pretty¬†miserable for me. I didn’t get invited to slumber parties or play dates, nobody wanted to come over to my house and former friends would duck into stores if we happened to pass each other in the mall.¬†Those seem like such small things, but they add up after a while.

I never found out exactly what Kate had told people to make them act this way, but I know it was all tied to her. Life got better when I entered a middle school with multiple feeders – not everyone there had heard whatever was being said about me – but years later, at the end of my freshman year of high school. I found an unusual entry in the back of my yearbook:

I’m sorry. -Kate

It had been four years. I had made friends. I had moved on, and I didn’t really need an apology anymore. So it wasn’t the words that got to me, it was the fact that I hadn’t made it all up. I hadn’t been pretending to be ignored for the sympathy points. It was real, and the girl responsible knew it was real all those years later.

____________________________________

I say all that to say this:

Looking back on that year – which I am grateful was only a year, many kids go through entire lifetimes of emotional isolation – I’m not glad that it happened, but it did teach me something:¬†Other people can only change you if you let them.¬†

You can’t reason with a bully. Adults tell children that they can, but the simple fact is that the things people say and the way people treat you isn’t about who you are; it’s about who they are, and only you get to decide if you’re going to be the same way.

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

That is my absolute favorite quote, and I have used it to remind myself of my own capabilities many times over the years.

Nobody gets to decide who you are on the inside. Nobody gets to decide if your creativity is “weird” or if your imagination is “stupid.” Only you get to decide that, and only you can decide if their hurtful words mean something to you or not. And that’s so much easier said than done.

Unfortunately, most kids just have to survive it and try to come out the other side with some of themselves intact. In a perfect world, there would be no bullies. But in an imperfect world, the best we can do as parents is try to teach our children to be kind and to love who they are to the point that other people’s words don’t make (much of) a difference.

Raise the child who sits with the kid who’s alone, and be the adult who pulls that kid aside and tells them that who they are is important. You have no idea how much good you can do.

 

*Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.