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1. The year I walked through hell

I know it's Labor Day, not New Year's, but I'm declaring it officially the start of a new year. This last year was the hardest year I have ever had in my life.  Good things happened too, I'm not saying that, but I would trade those good things to reverse some of the bad. A year ago today, I was involved in a horrific car accident, then moved home and took care of my mom while she was on hospice, and then ended up in the hospital.

The accident

We were driving to dinner. September 1, 2013. I had my hand on my husband's knee and we were smiling and talking about nothing.

Past his shoulder suddenly: a dog. Appearing so out of nowhere it's like magic. A black lab running flat out toward us. Pink tongue streaming behind. Black leash streaming behind.

It looks totally happy. Happy and clueless.

No time to scream. No time to brake. No time to react.

A second after we first see it, the dog and car meet just past the driver's side front bumper.

And then we are screaming.

We pull over in the gravel, still screaming. It has to be dead. It has to be.  Oh my god.  It seems like we are a long ways away, blocks and blocks, but later I see it's not even half a block.

I get out. It's worse than I thought.

Not one dog, but two.

Two dogs lying on their backs in the street, paws in the air.

I've never seen dogs lying like that. Cars are already stacking up. A young man kneels by one, a young woman by the other.  Screaming, crying, begging. What will these people think of us?  We killed their dogs.

MauroAs I get closer, I can see they are street kids. The girl with red-gold dreads and pants made of patches. The guy with red-gold hair and a black T-shirt. (I later found his picture online.) They carry their dogs to the side of the road. The guy is begging. "Aldo! Aldo!" The black lab is moving a little. And then it dies.

The little dog is still alive and whining.

I try to look up Dove Lewis, the emergency animal hospital, on my phone. I keep typing the wrong letters, and the harder I try the worse I get. The lady who answers says to bring the dogs in. I tell my husband to get the Subaru.

These two kids are wailing. Stumbling from one dog to the other, shaking, weeping so hard that snot runs down their faces.

The guy lifts the lab into the back - even though we all know it must be dead - and then climbs in beside it.  The girl sits in the back with the little dog and I pick up their two huge packs (they were setting down their packs when they lost control of the dogs) and bag of groceries and somehow manage to shove them all in the car.

And then we drive. Too fast. I keep telling my husband to be careful, that the guy is just loose back there.

Otherwise, the car is mostly quiet. The guy is curled over the dog, weeping soundlessly. The girl is trying to reassure the little black and white dog, named Karate Kid. Neither of these two are that much older than our daughter.  But somehow they've gone from being someone's precious babies to two kids living on the street with their dogs.

At the vet hospital, a tech in blue scrubs comes out to the parking lot, puts her hand to the lab's neck and shakes her head.  She's a tall girl, broad-shouldered, and she manages to carry his body in by herself. Three hours later, we are looking at X-rays of the smaller dog. (It turned out that another car actually hit him.) The ball on one hip joint has been turned into paste.  Everything has been pushed to one side.

And after they say goodbye to both dogs, both kids stagger back out into the waiting room. Eyes nearly swollen shut with weeping. We were strangers thrown together, sharing a nightmare.

2011-07-22 12.23.02 Becoming an orphan
Eleven days later, I drove down to my home town
on a few hours sleep. I had gotten back from a business trip to North Carolina and New York City the night before. My mom had declared that September 12 was when she was going on hospice. She had congestive heart failure and interstitial lung disease and had been put on oxygen a few months before.

2013-10-12 14.50.34I think she had hoped that the magic of going on hospice would cause her to die right away. But then the hospice nurse said she might live for months. My mom and I exchanged horrified glances while the nurse prattled on, oblivious. It took her a long time to figure out that Mom wanted to die and soon.

For years, my mom has been dying on the installment plan.  She was ready to die. There was nothing unsettled, nothing unsaid. She thought it was funny when, after she had decided she would go on hospice, her fortune said, "You are soon going to change your present line of work." She firmly believed in God and and afterlife, although she had no preconceived ideas about what it would be like.
2013-09-21 14.31.36

The nurse only took her off a couple of her meds.  On her own, Mom decided to go off the others.  She stopped her oxygen. Then she stopped eating.  Then she - sort of - stopped drinking.

It was a very strange three weeks.  Good conversations. Watching a lot of old movies and documentaries, as well as the entire first season of Homeland and the Forsyte Saga. Being bored. Wondering when/ hoping/being afraid she would die. Weeping in the laundry.


I was getting an award October 5.  I was going to cancel. Mom told me not to, and then died quietly October 1, a few hours after the hospice nurse said she would live for at least a week, maybe longer. Of course, I was flat out useless at the awards. I basically stood at the podium and wept. It got so bad that one of presenters gave me her already used Kleenex.

2013-09-23 15.13.35room and biting my hand so she wouldn't hear me. Being scared. Laughing. Telling her to stop apologizing for my being there. Trying to write a little. Eating my way through so much junk food.  The day the wild turkeys came - and my mom's favorite memory involved a drive in the country and a flock of wild turkeys. 2013-09-21 07.43.42

When you hear hoofbeats, don't look for zebras
Doctors have a saying.  "When you hear hoofbeats, don't look for zebras." In other words, it's probably a cold, not a rare fatal virus.

Or in my case, just before Christmas when my leg turned red and started swelling up, it was probably cellulitis.  And when it didn't respond to three different antibiotics, they decided it was MRSA cellulitis, and I ended up in the hospital for three days. In case I was contagious and  might pose a danger to people who were already physically sick, they put me on the psych unit. Let's just say, that was interesting. T
hen I had a rare reaction to IV Vancomycin called hand-foot syndrome. First my hands and feet felt like they were on fire. Then eventually all the skin peeled off. Oh, and somewhere in there, the doctor thought I had a blood clot in my heart that was throwing off bits.  It was a month or so of suck.

2013-12-24 12.15.01
2013-12-28 11.30.16 2014-01-08 12.21.57

I did a LOT of lying on my back, staring at white acoustical ceilings, and crying.  And wondering whether I would lose my leg or die. I actually came out okay (except a scar from a biopsy).  It turns out that an errant kung fu shin clash probably led to something called traumatic panniculitis (dermatologist's theory) or a crush injury (orthopedic doc's theory).  Unfortunately, even though everyone eventually agreed I never had cellulitis, they couldn't agree on what I did have, so I coudln't be featured in the NY Times' Think Like a Doctor series. I couldn't even persuade the hospital to not charge me my copay, since they never tested to see if I had an infection.

Write or die
I like that program, Write or Die, for forcing you to write, forcing you to create instead of criticize or dither.

This past year was write or die for me. I turned in a book February 19th. February 20th I started a new book and turned that in June 1, despite doing school visits and events in St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago and Houston.  Both editors said the books were the best I had ever written. And I sold a new book over Memorial Day.  I'll finish it in November.
Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 2.58.01 PM

So that's it. The highlights of my year. I hope to have a much quieter one this year.

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2. Maine Mountains

 
Sorry for the slow updates. It's been busy here at the moment with work and I'm also trying my darndest to soak up every last bit of Summer. Here's a pattern I drew a few weeks back, inspired by childhood's spent camping up in Northern Maine. I miss listening to loon cries and campfires more than you can possibly imagine.

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3. The New Phone Book’s Here

In the immortal words of Navin R. Johnson:

image

Things are going to start happening to me now!

Yes, due to life, it took a long time to arrive, but that lovable scamp Virgil Creech is back in Virgil Creech Sings for His Supper.

 Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00063]

 

 

Even the idyllic little town of Portsong isn’t immune to the coming depression. What will our favorite family of eleven do when their chief bread-winner is left without a job? Enter the youngest son, Virgil Creech, who discovers an unlikely talent that may just keep the family afloat.

Meanwhile, half the world away, town grocer Harland Gentry discovers the truth of the ancient proverb, Pride goes before a fall. On the vacation of a lifetime, Harland decides to reinvent himself as a man of means, hoping to leave the small town behind. But he is not prepared for what he discovers on his unpredictable African adventure.

Of course, Virgil Creech Sings for His Supper contains a healthy dose of the lovable Colonel Clarence Birdwhistle, as he and Henry begin to rebuild the Lee family farm. All of these stories come together for another delightful romp through Portsong, the southern town halfway between Savannah and heaven.

 

From the back of the book, here is our new friend, Harland Gentry as drawn by Aprilily.

image

It is always rewarding to have someone read one of my books. But I was particularly excited to get a Five Bookworm Review on the first book in the series because it came from a kid, which is my target audience.  He is also not a family member!

You can read his take here.

 

If you haven’t had a chance to read Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption, the ebook version is going to go free for a week sometime soon as publicity for the sequel. Of course, I’ll announce it here.

I wrote the final piece of the Portsong Series last year hope to release it fairly soon. I am now working on my first piece of adult humor and would love to put it out in 2015. We shall see if life gets in the way of that one as well.


Filed under: From the Writer

4 Comments on The New Phone Book’s Here, last added: 8/14/2014
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4. Hide and Go Seek — and other Things that Make me Scream

I am not a scaredy cat. I love to hike and wade in mountain streams.  I love to go to places I’ve never been and see things I’ve never seen. I like to watch documentaries on foods from other countries and want to visit those countries one day. I like to make new recipes! I’ll…

4 Comments on Hide and Go Seek — and other Things that Make me Scream, last added: 8/2/2014
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5. Prints, Plus Pokey

 
A new pattern I painted last week, inspired by the tangle of vegetation outside. Summer, you done good.
   
Other A+ summer highlights: seeing Pokey LaFarge live. Because it's not everyday you get to see a band that sports fedoras and ties while bringing down the house.

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6. REVOLUTION

REVOLUTION HAS COME which side do you choose? our world moans and groans under the weight of “progress” while our trees die from acid rain and our rivers, once teeming with wildlife, are suffocated by our excess The future of our world, our children, are abused, silenced and tossed aside like pieces of trash with…

7 Comments on REVOLUTION, last added: 7/29/2014
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7. Saying Goodbye

It is hard to say goodbye to an old friend. I am currently having to do just that. Sometimes, things deteriorate beyond salvage and the relationship must end. I have had this happen before, not very often – but it has happened.

In my younger days, I was a bridge-burner. I just moved on. I left high school and kept up with very few friends, mostly the ones who went to the same university. After four fun-filled years at college, I left those friends with every intent of doing better. I did not. Oh, I tried. For a year or two I kept up with some. But we all got scattered around the country and once-close ties severed. I predate social media, so we didn’t have that easy connection to tether me to my friends.

I have had to end relationships since then, though not as frequently. It was much easier to end friendships when I moved cities. I have lived in the same city for twenty-five years now and have no intention of leaving. So I can’t pack up and forget to give a forwarding address. Also, the aforementioned social media makes ending a relationship a public event. You have to be sure it is the proper thing to do before you push “unfriend,” or “block.”

What are some causes of ended friendships anyway? Here are some big ones. It isn’t an exhaustive list, you might have experienced other issues.

A trust violation – can be major or minor, equally damaging.

Priority shift – things become important to one and not the other.

Lack of support – a friend has stopped being there for you.

Selfishness – the friend who has all day to complain but has to go when it is time to listen.

Drift – Sometimes, friends just drift apart. It isn’t a willful decision on either side.

Friends can’t always be replaced. Depending on the length and emotional depth of the friendship, there can be a sizable void when the friendship ends. Pain. Regret. Panic, doubt, and second-guessing can even set in. Most of the time, there is even a grieving period when a friendship dies.

So it is with this friend. We’ve been through a lot together. There were entire days we spent together and I don’t regret them. They were good days… comfortable days. Never tight or strenuous, my friend and I got along perfectly. We fit together. I felt a certain contentment with this friend that I rarely feel. In fact, besides my wife, I’ve been closer to few others.

Why, do you ask, must this friendship end?

Is my friend moving? Did my friend betray me?

Loneliness_(4101974109)

 

No, due to old age, my friend’s elastic waistband ripped through the soft, cotton fabric and my favorite pair of boxers is caput. The friendship is no longer salvageable. I could save it for a dust rag or staining cloth, but that’d be weird… unlike writing a blog post about underwear.

 

 

Photo attribution: Bert Kaufmann from Roermond, Netherlands (Loneliness Uploaded by russavia)

 

 


Filed under: Learned Along the Way

5 Comments on Saying Goodbye, last added: 7/22/2014
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8. Summerific

 
Since our last transmission:

*All I want to do is paint green things, as evidenced by the random sketchbook page.

*July 4th visitors were delightful (and were adept at unearthing birds' nests).

*I saw the Shaker exhibit at the Farnsworth for my birthday and it was beyond words. The Farnsworth is a terrific museum (and the Wyeth Center is my favorite space). Speaking of favorite places/spaces, if you find yourself in Rockland, Maine anytime in the near future, in the name of all that is good, please go to hello hello Books/Rock City Cafe. You can thank me later.

 

Other summer things?

*I made dandelion wine and lived to tell the tale. I used a recipe from this local cookbook, but these directions are pretty close. And if you're wondering what it tastes like, to quote Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine, "I'm a fire-eater! Whoosh!"

*A baby blanket finished for a brand spankin' new niece.

*Fireworks. Because, the 4th. And summer.

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9. Getting my life back!

I turned in a book February 19th, then February 20th I started a new book and wrote every day, evening and weekend.  Even when I was on "vacation" or doing school visits.

I turned that book in on June 1.  The editor has already given me edits (she's fast!) and she loves it.  For the first time in literally years, I've got some free time.  I want to take a step back and look at my my one wild and precious life (to paraphrase poet Mary Oliver).  I want to decide it's "okay" to read more for pleasure, or even to watch one of the many TV programs I've only heard about.  I want to get myself back in balance, instead of to always be working.

What things do you wish you were doing?  

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10. BIG CHANGES AFOOT.

Anastasia againDue in part to all of the issues Typepad has been having lately,

The fear that I'm going to wake up one morning and discover that ten years of work has just disappeared,

Wanting to change up the look of my blog but being frustrated by Typepad's lack of choices,

I am finally taking the plunge and moving Bookshelves of Doom.

So! If you follow me via a feed reader, it'll need to be updated, and if you link to me on your blog, same.

I haven't migrated my archives yet, though, so this site will be live for the time being.

As I've got TEN YEARS OF STUFF TO MOVE, it's going to take a while. So. For a good while, my archives will be housed here. So if you're looking for anything posted before today, LOOK HERE FIRST.

(In case you don't remember, by the way, that's the one where Anastasia moves.-->)

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11. SO. EXCITED.

So, I'll post more about this once I've got all of my 'i's dotted and 't's crossed, but...

...HERE'S A SNEAK PEEK AT MY LIBRARY'S FIRST BIG SUMMER READING PROGRAM!:

Summer reading badges 2014

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12. Wait, the 48HBC is THIS WEEKEND??

I'd better pick out some books!

What about you?

Are you participating?

Do you, unlike me, already have a pile of books set aside?

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13. Links, etc. shared on Twitter: May 24-30.

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14. Thankful Thursday

I will be turning in a book June 2.  The next book is not due until the end of the year, and it's already half written.  Do you know what that means?  It means I'll be able to have a life again! I have worked every single day for months and months.  Possibly years (and I'm not even joking). I have written on airplanes, in hotels, on "vacation," in the passenger seat in cars, in the back of a limousine, and even in the hospital.

I'm going to be able to:
- Read more than 20 minutes a day!  I have stacks and stacks of books.
- Clean! It's petty clear that I have been doing only the main things and ignoring the margins.
- Figure out who all the people in the photos are in the photos I inherited when mom died.  Thanks, older third cousins I met onAncestry.com!  You are helping me names to 100 year old faces.
- Try new recipes.  I have dozens I have torn out over the past months.
- Have weekends.  I'm not sure what one does on a weekend any more, but I'm hoping to find out.
Two shots Samuel Henry

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15. It's my birthday...

...and this pretty much says it all:

It's a good thing i don't have kids because they'd be really embarrassed right now  This is as ACTION SHOT as I get 

Also, I just got this text from my (awesome) mother-in-law:

As birthdays go, 
we know how you'll rank it,
It's numero uno,
'cause you got a SLANKET!!!

Annnnnd then, just imagine a whole ton of emoji.

So, today, I would like for YOU to recommend a book to ME. It doesn't have to be YA, just something that you LOVE and think that I would, too.

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16. We. Are. Americans.

If you’re not willing to proudly declare this to anyone who will listen, get out.

Period.


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17. Remember and Appreciate

memorial-day2

How about we stop mucking up what others have fought so hard to obtain for us?


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18. Happy 24th Anniversary, Honey!

bedroom-love


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19. I Am Now Officially Menopausal

menopausecartoon I know. I’m sorry. This will be one of those “too much information” posts but I have to get this off my chest – it’s part of who I am now and always will be.

It’s been one year since my last period.

Yep. It’s official – I’m menopausal.

I can’t say I miss it, though the “side effects” of being menopausal is something I’ve been getting used to. I sweat – CONSTANTLY. Nearly all the time, if you want the truth. I should invest in stock in fan companies because I’ve given them so much of my business these past few months it’s insane. I have a fan in my clinic “pod,” a fan at my “pit” desk, a fan on my desk at home and I can’t BE in a room in our house without the ceiling fan on and circulating precious air.

The number of hotflashes I have on a daily basis … well, I’ve stopped counting. There are simply too many. They are craziest things – it starts in my back – it feels like someone has poured gasoline on my back and lit a match – my back just suddenly heats up and SWOOSH – I’m on FIRE. The heat consumes my entire body and before long, I have a sweat mustache and the roots of my hair become damp. I’ve sweated so much during clinic at work that I’ve sweat THROUGH my scrubs: I have to wear a cami under my scrub top when I’m in clinic because it’s become such an issue. Which only makes me more nervous and makes my hot flashes even more severe.

It’s a vicious cycle.

I’ve gotten pudgy. Granted, I haven’t been exercising lately (I’ve gotten back to it lately because I can’t stand the sight of my pudgy self in the mirror anymore) and though I know that some of that pudginess is from inactivity, some of it is also due to the changes my body is going through.

I have bitchy moments, but honestly, I think I have less of those moments now than when I was still having periods. My moods don’t seem AS crazy as they used to be.

I’m tired – all the time. But again, that could be largely due to the fact that I’ve been a slug lately. I’m working on that. Kevin and I also switch sleeping arrangements every week – I sleep on his office futon, he sleeps in our bed for one week, and then we switch. Whenever I sleep on the futon, I flop around like a fish (hence one of the reasons we don’t sleep together). I can never get comfortable and I think one of the reasons I’m tired all the time is because I’m not sleeping that well at night. Which is another weird thing for me – I used to sleep like a baby before the menopausal “period.” Now? Not so much.

So. Are all of these “side effects” worth not having a period every month??

YES!!!!!!!!!

I don’t miss them, at all. It’s such a relief not to have to worry if I’m going to bleed through my pants whenever we’re out somewhere, or out in the middle of somewhere strange whenever we go on vacation. It’s SUCH A RELIEF not to have to worry about having enough female supplies on hand whenever I go out or get physically weak because I’ve bled a kidney, or two, during one cycle.

I’ve been taking supplements to try and help with the hot flashes and I think they’ve worked, for the most part. My GYNO doctor wanted to put me on a hormone regiment but I said no. I’m going to try the natural route for as long as I can. I’ve read too many horror stories about side effects from medications.

So yep. I can no longer have babies. It’s weird to think of it like that and though I was initially sad when the change started happening, I’ve accepted it and am now even relieved to have gone through it, quite honestly.

Again, I apologize for the personal insight to my bodily functions but hey – it’s just another one of those natural things that happens to most women. We might as well stop pretending that it doesn’t.


Filed under: Life

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20. The King of Feminine Hygiene

Crown_of_Lord_Lyon_King_of_Arms

I have been a good errand runner for many years. I have never minded getting those “things” that need to be got. However, the situation can be comical. Early in our marriage, I learned brand preference – often taking a boxtop as a crutch to make sure. Everything changed after our first daughter was born and the new mama needed something different. My mind isn’t programmed for different.

There I stood looking at an infinite wall of products with no idea what to purchase. I am sure she had given me instructions, but I had no purchase history, no boxtop, no clue. The wall got bigger and bigger while I shrunk into a puddle of indecision.

Until I was rescued by a wonderfully kind, large woman who took pity on me.

“You need some help, honey?” she asked.

“Well, yes, is it that obvious?” I stammered.

“It sure is. What’s the problem?”

“Well, I need to get something for my wife. We just had a baby.”

Her angelic face lit up with joy, “Oh, sweety! How wonderful! Is it a boy or a girl?”

“We had a little girl,” I replied proudly as I dug a picture out to show her.

“She’s just beautiful,” she said. And as if she suddenly plugged into an amplifier, her voice boomed throughout the store while I shrunk even smaller. “WHAT YOU NEED IS NIGHT TIME EXTRA-ABSORBANT…..”

I’ve forgotten whatever else she said. It went on for some time, I think. I will forever appreciate her help, but I have no idea why she had to tell everyone in a five mile radius of the store what I was shopping for. She was spot on with her advice, though.

I was only twenty-eight then. Why it mattered I don’t know. I couldn’t care less now. I have had to do a great deal of shopping lately – and with a wife and three teenage daughters, yes, I have purchased quite a few of those types of products. I don’t flinch anymore. In fact, I like to check out wherever a young boy is working give him to he stink-eye as he handles the carton. I have made more than one blush.

Better yet, when I come home I have even more fun by announcing, “I got your feminine hygiene products.” There is never a “daddy’s home!” parade for that proclamation. No one comes running. They don’t want to hear that from their father. So I deliver them personally to their rooms and make the announcement individually. Lots of rolled eyes and groans.

I don’t mind buying that stuff anymore, but I do have one regret. With four daughters, why didn’t I have the forethought to invest in that stock? If I had done that, I truly would be the King of Feminine Hygiene!

 

Photo attribution: Geni (Photo by user:geni)

8 Comments on The King of Feminine Hygiene, last added: 5/13/2014
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21. "These are for you. NOT for the book sale. FOR YOU."

That's what one of my library board members just said before handing me a box containing these:

NANCY DREW BONANZA

I AM IN TOTAL MELTDOWN SQUEEMODE.

Like, I am FREAKING. OUT.

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22. I have to admit, I love Saturday mornings.

In the other room, getting ready to go feed the sheep*:

Josh: WHO LET THE SHEEP OUT? BAA, BAA, BAA BAA BAA. *cackles manically*

________________________________

*Not our sheep. Someone else's sheep.

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23. My 30th High School Reunion

high-school-reunion

I have a standing rule on who I’m friends with on Facebook – REAL friends (and by that I mean, people I’ve actually spoken to in real life at some point in my life) and family.

Period.

This means I’M NOT FRIENDS WITH ANYONE FROM WORK ON FACEBOOK. I just don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m tempted. I’m VERY tempted, to bend that rule for a few people at work but honestly, I just don’t want the drama, or having to censor myself (anymore than I already do) on what sorts of status updates I post on Facebook. I sometimes comment about work on Facebook and even then, I’m not sure I really should. There have already been three people from high school that I’ve ran into at work and though it was super awesome to see them, it was also super awkward for me. I’ve always worked very hard to keep my working life separate from my “real” life. And this includes my immediate family. They are under STRICT orders not to come “visit” me at work – the melding of my two worlds, even on a temporary basis, throws my entire existence off it’s axis.

Anyway. Because I am friends with quite a few people I went to high school with on Facebook, I learned we’re having a 30th high school reunion in July. I would have had no idea this event even existed if I hadn’t seen it, or been invited to it, on Facebook.

Thanks Facebook, I think.

I have mixed feelings about this reunion. On one hand, it would be awesome to see my old friends again, but then again … UGH.

I didn’t go to my 10-year high school reunion. I WANTED to, but Kevin wanted to go to a church camp in Ohio (OHIO) even more, so I missed it.

Wait. You haven’t heard that story? Let me digress a moment …

Let’s see … Blake was three and Brandon was 18 months? But wait, is that right? I was still giving Brandon bottles because I remember packing bottles, and bottle liners (because I didn’t breast freed, for very selfish reasons – judge away), and a butt load of formula cans … and we borrowed my sister-in-law’s double stroller … and did I mention we drove to Ohio hauling a POP-UP CAMPER? And that we had to stop someplace in Indiana, set up camp, spend the night, then pack everything up and drive the rest of the way to Ohio the next day? And that Ohio had gotten a butt load of rain the week before and the grounds we pulled our POP-UP CAMPER onto were a muddy, swampy mess? And that I got QUITE THE WORKOUT pushing two little boys, in a stroller, through the MUCK and then trying to KEEP THEM QUIET so people could learn a little something-something from church camp without being bothered by two, young, fussy boys??

It was … an experience. In hindsight, I’m really glad we went but I’ll be honest, I didn’t get a lot out of it since I was so focused on the boys, but it was an experience I can hold over Kevin’s head whenever he gives me a hard time about something stupid I’ve done in the past…

Good times.

So no. I would have preferred to stay at home, with all of our baby crap within reach and go to my 10-year high school reunion, but I missed it.

I don’t even know if we had a 20-year reunion, that was pre-Facebook days and see? If we had one, I had no clue about it.

And now, it’s time for our 30-year high school reunion.

It’s SO WEIRD to think I’ve been out of school for 30 years. That sounds like such a long time ago, and I guess I SHOULD feel old, but I don’t. I truly don’t. Thirty years …. Thirty years …. Thirty years …. I think if I say it enough times it’ll somehow feel real. I feel like it’s only been a few years since I graduated from high school – that I’m just NOW getting my life started. Which is a weird thing to say since I’ve gotten married, had several jobs, graduated from college with a BS (yes, it is) degree in Professional Writing and had two pretty freaking awesome sons to boot.

Thirty years sounds ancient. I don’t feel ancient. And apparently I don’t look ancient. (It amuses me when patients try to guess my age – and yes, that happens more times that I’m comfortable with but for some reason, it’s a go-to conversation breaker whenever I show patients back to the exam rooms and no – no one has ever gotten CLOSE to my real age, thank you very much) and the people I’ve worked with have been absolutely FLOORED and SHOCKED to learn my true age.

I guess all those unhealthy preservatives I’ve scarfed down over the past 30 years are doing the trick. (See what I did there?)

Anyhoo, let’s move past the time factor … it’s getting old. (Ba-dum-bump).

A friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook the other day (Hi Shelly!) to ask if I was planning on going to our reunion. I didn’t really give her an answer but my response leaned more to “no.”

Please don’t think badly of me (and if you already do, well …) but my high school days are OVER. They were OVER in my head the moment I met Kevin and we started planning a future together. I’ve never been one to live in the past – it’s sort of a problem. No, it IS a problem. I am so focused on present day and the future that I have a tendency to completely disregard the past and put it so far out of my mind that I completely forget about it.

And I mean so completely that it’s a real effort for me to even REMEMBER past events.

So high school for me? Happened in another lifetime ago. And it’s almost like it happened to another person because I’m certainly nothing like I was in high school. I’m confident, arrogant (well, I was a bit arrogant in high school too), and way smarter than I used to be. I certainly have more common sense NOW. I did some of the stupidest things I’ve ever done in my life in high school … (and shortly thereafter, since we’re being honest here).

And to be brutally honest, I … uh … sort of don’t care to go to the reunion. I’ve sort of written that part of my life off. And it’s not because I had a traumatic experience in high school, far from it, my years in drama class are some of the best years of my life but … I can’t really put my finger on it. I’m sort of anti-social, truth be known. That’s why I don’t have a lot of friends. I like ME time. I like my quiet time. I’m perfectly content to do things with my family or me, myself and I. Small talk doesn’t interest me in the slightest. I just can’t STAND other people’s drama: either in my personal life or in anyone else’s life. I like peace, and serenity and living a simple, quiet life.

And being friends with people means giving up some of that … and did I mention I’m terribly selfish with my time? I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’ve volunteered plenty of my time to the community. I donate to charities, I maintained several school websites for either free or DIRT cheap over the years, thereby informing the community, and the parents, of what was going on at that school. I’m a giving person … as long as it’s on my terms. Friends would require too much time and effort from me and …

Did I mention I’m a selfish person?

I don’t mean to sound flippant, it’s not really a good trait to have and be completely honest about, but … that’s who I am, unfortunately.

And it makes my heart hurt, physically hurt, whenever I hear about other people’s struggles. I’ve been so blessed in my life. I have a fantastic family, a fantastic husband and pretty awesome kids (though I wish they were more focused on their lives and careers but hopefully, with time and a lot of prayer that will come) – NOT PERFECT, but pretty darn close. I’ve worked for everything we have. I’ve gotten very little sleep and sacrificed a lot to be where I am today and it hurts me whenever I hear how other people just weren’t as fortunate for life is so precious and it worries me whenever people take that for granted.

And then there’s Kevin. He would go with me to the reunion because A. I would like him there with me and B. he’s just that kind of guy. (I’m selfish, Kevin is not. He’s one of the most generous and giving people I’ve ever known and I have no idea what I did right to have him in my life). But I wouldn’t enjoy having him there because I’d be worried the whole time that he was bored, or feeling awkward because let’s face it – reunions are not fun for the spouses. Spouses have to stand awkwardly by and smile and laugh at people and stories they know nothing about and probably care even less about.

And I would have to dress up. I’m so used to wearing scrubs every day or t-shirts and sweats at home that the thought of putting on an actual pair of pants sort of makes me anxious, if you want the truth. It’s not so much that I’m worried about what I look like or think I’m fat, I just feel like I’m trying to be someone I’m not. Because I’m not a person who goes out of her way to dress for success and certainly not to impress people. In fact, it’s safe to say that I’m FINALLY comfortable in my skin and though I’m conscious about how I look and want to look nice for both myself and for my husband, I no longer obsess over what size I am. (As long as I’m not taking up two seats when I sit down, I’m good).

*takes a breath* All of this to say, that no, I will not be going to my 30th high school reunion. I just don’t have any interest in reliving those days. They are part of who I was, not part of who I am now.


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24. I’m Obsessed with Coastal.com

Nope. This post is not sponsored. I don’t DO sponsored. And if anyone from Coastal.com visits my blog *waves* Hey! What up! Love your product!

So. I said something about wanting a new pair of reading glasses one day at work. And one of my co-workers was all like, “Oh hey! Alyssa got a FREE pair of glasses from this website, Coastal.com.”

She even wrote the URL down for me because I forget things two seconds later.

But before I could visit the website, I saw a YouTube video from a YouTuber talking about Warby Parker and if you bought a pair of glasses, then Warby Parker would donate a pair of glasses to someone who can’t afford glasses and I thought “COOL”, what a great cause and I was in the market for new glasses anyway so … why not. I went to Warby Parker.com and bought a pair of glasses.

And they’re cool, I’m wearing them right now.

But out of curiosity, I went to Coastal.com. And I saw the promotion to get my first pair of glasses for free. So I signed up for an account and started looking around. THEN I noticed that I could upload a pic of myself and virtually try on the glasses and I’ve been OBSESSED with this site ever since. I won’t even tell you how many hours I’ve spent on that website looking at pictures of myself wearing different glasses – it’s obscene (and a little weird). But I finally found a pair I liked and ordered them. I uploaded my eyeglass prescription, paid $40 bucks to get the non-glare lenses, (because, Dude, IT’S WORTH SPENDING THAT MONEY FOR NON-GLARE GLASSES WHEN YOU SPEND AS MUCH TIME ON THE COMPUTER AS I DO), and voila! I got both of pairs of glasses in no time flat.

I got two pairs of glasses for half of what I would have paid for one pair of glasses at a traditional eyeglass store.

But unfortunately, I didn’t stop there.

Out of curiosity, and because I saw the 2 for $99 bucks promotion (darn you Coastal.com), I started poking around AGAIN. And started “virtually” trying on glasses … AGAIN. And I’m agonizing over buying two more pair of reading glasses.

What is wrong with me?!?

I have two more pair of reading glasses in my shopping cart on Coastal.com and just can’t bring myself to hit that “place your order” button because come on, that’s a little extravagant, don’t you think? But I can tell you why I’m so obsessed with reading glasses right now.

It’s the same reason I’ve sort of been on a jewelry kick, too.

I wear scrubs all day, every day. I rotate between pewter, navy blue and black. Those are the three approved colors we can wear at work.

I. GET. BORED. WEARING. SCRUBS. EVERY. DAY.

Where is the excitement in that?

So I know I’m obsessed with reading glasses right now because I can change my look up with out really changing my look up, you follow?

On one hand, it’s really cool not having to think about what you’re going to wear every day. I just have to pick the color and BAM, I’m dressed and ready to go.

But on the other hand, it’s pretty boring wearing the same thing all the time.

Sometimes you have to do what you have to do to stay sane.

You know?

*Update: So I wore my Warby Parker glasses last night and both times I wore them, I felt dizzy and nauseous. So much so, that I had to lay down both times. I’m not sure if the prescription is different (though they have exactly what I gave them) or what, but I’m returning them. They have a 30-day guarantee, no questions asked policy and I’m afraid I’m going to have to take advantage of that policy. I simply don’t like them and they don’t fit as well as my glasses from Coastal.com. So it looks like I may end up taking advantage of that 2 for $99 bucks offer after all at Coastal.com.

Darn. *smirk*


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25. The Open Door

Our cat is fascinated with doors. If one is closed, she sits staring at it or dig under it until it is opened. She may not see the room within as worthy of a visit once she can enter, but she wants the opportunity nonetheless. For us bipeds, what is it about open doors that stirs our curiosity? Who can walk down a hall of doors where most are closed and not peek inside the ones ajar? A hotel, office, hospital – wherever we are, we must look! What do we expect to find inside?

Don’t tell me you walk on focused with your eyes straight forward. I won’t believe you. I know you slow your pace slightly to get as much of a look as possible as you approach. Isn’t it awkward when you turn your head as you are walking past and end up looking face to face with someone whose expression is always, “why is this person staring at me?”

Uhhh, you left the door open!

When you were a kid, did you think of doors as some sort of portal with endless possibilities? Every door was a wardrobe that could take you to Narnia. Bugs Bunny cemented that feeling with the recurrent theme of being chased down a hall by coming and going through random doors completely out of time and sequence. The heart-shaped monster was my favorite chaser.

 

 

Heart monster

I heard a commotion in our den and opened the door of our bedroom recently to investigate. It was not a magic portal, but I did learn a lesson. One should always make sure they are fully dressed when exploring what may be beyond closed doors. That became a door one daughter wishes had remained closed and a memory her visitor wishes he could erase.

As I see it, there are a number of potential doors.

  • Closed doors that should remain closed
  • Closed doors that need to be opened
  • Locked doors with no hope of admittance
  • Locked doors to which we have the key
  • Doors sealed for our protection
  • Doors sealed for the protection of those inside
  • Open doors that we should enter
  • Open doors we should pass by

The list goes on, but you get my point. Life is a series of one door after another. When one comes to a life door, he or she should decide on the best and worse case scenarios before passing under the threshold. Count the cost, as it were. I currently find myself standing in front of an open door and I have yet to decide how great the cost of entry. It seems attractive, but I find myself somewhat intimidated by its potential. What I lack is discernment about this particular door, thus all of my musing about doors in general. And so, I sit at the frame and pray, think, and wonder what could be inside. It is daunting, but I remember James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

I need wisdom. Either that or a heart-shaped monster to chase me in or away.

 

 


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