Wednesday, July 30, 2014

SO Annoying

OK, major admission time.

Apparently, I snore.

For most of our marriage, Steve was the big snorer, to the point that I really worried about sleep apnea. I remember kicking him, shoving him, anything to get the nocturnal noise to stop so I could get a little shut-eye. Though he protested that he didn't make a nighttime peep, I had the witness of the kids (and the occasional dinner guests) to back me up.

And now? Well, he still concertizes every night, but he has assured me that I am now no slouch in
girls' room on mission trip
that department either. And it's mortifying. The entire mission trip to Virginia this month, I forced myself to remain semi-conscious until dawn so that the girls in my room didn't hear anything remotely noteworthy. I realize that I have no control over this malady, and I'm nothing if not a control freak. Arrggghhh!!

 What else do I do that annoys people?

I interrupt. I began doing this as a small child, when my sisters just didn't spit it out fast enough (especially my poor Mo, who was no match for Motormouth Moi) ,when I just had to get a word in edgewise with my mother, who literally talked from daybreak to midnight. I finish Steve's sentences, even when he tells me that he was NOT planning on wrapping up his thoughts that way. I get nervous and talk too much in general, and I am sure my kids recall my endless blathering humming in the background of their childhoods.

I also don't listen carefully enough, and have to have information repeated to me often. This has gotten markedly worse since menopause, though I remember bad spells when the kids were little. If I had a dime for every time a family member has said, "Don't you remember? I told you that yesterday!!" I would be able to buy a yacht (called the SorryIForgot). I am 57. Reverse those digits and you will have a 75 year old who can't keep track of her pills, or her meals, or her life.

My peculiarities are, over the years, threatening to overrun my personality until someday I will be the interrupting, snoring, forgetful old woman the nursing home visitors avoid like the plague. This wasn't supposed to happen. I wasn't supposed to be an irritant. I wasn't, Lord knows, supposed to snore.

Or…was I?

There is no danger of my family putting me on a pedestal of perfection, and maybe that’s a good thing. It gives them permission to be pains in the butt themselves once in a while, with annoying habits of their own. It gives them a chance to be gracious and patient with others, too.

Like it or not, we are born to get old, with all the attendant quirks and flaws. So let’s be gentle with each other as we age, and cut one another some slack.

As for me, I will buy everyone in my sleeping range earplugs for Christmas. Least I can do.

Mo and me: "what my sister is trying to say is..."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Running on Empty

Half-marathon finish line
Julie is training for her first marathon, which will take place in Philly in November. Her running schedule looks grueling to me (weekly loooong runs, punctuated by almost daily shorter ones), but she has both a 10 miler and a half-marathon under her belt so far, and I have no doubt she will complete the big race, and make good time. Julie is very focused when she has a goal, a trait I have always admired greatly in her.

“Focus” and “goals” are in short supply in my life these days—unless you count my focusing on the goal of making it through another day without a major mishap or mistake. Oh, I have plans, but they are vague and dream-like, and I do precious little on a daily basis to bring them to fruition. My sister C, a demon planner if ever there was one, went to the trouble some years back of working with me on some long-range (and short term) planning for my writing career. People to contact, websites to explore…there is so much out there for a would-be freelancer. But C’s efforts with me failed, and my folders and notes gathered dust and eventually became too dated to be of use.

Recently, I attended the Philadelphia Writers' Conference, a step in the right direction for me. Again, I came away with folders and notes that, I hope, I will use this time. The bottom line is, writing isn’t the easiest path to take in life, but there are many (and varied) ways to succeed—if you really commit to it. Am I ready to commit? I don’t know. I do know that I am running on empty right now, and need to be refilled.

So what is my focus, what are my goals for the rest of the time down here in Lewes? Yes, I will continue to write. I will finish editing the new book and get that published. But I will also take days, even lots of them, to just sit on the beach, read and rest. I will have family and friends down to visit, and reconnect with the dear friends we have at the shore. I will do some physical activity that I truly enjoy (there must be SOMEthing) in the hopes that my spirits will revive as I improve my fitness level.

And then it will be time to plan, plan for the fall and way, way beyond. Knowing that the best of plans don’t always work out, but that no planning, letting life just happen, is worse. Let me step out in faith that there is a bright future ahead, for myself and those I love.

As I watch Julie tie her sneakers and head out once again, I realize that life itself is a marathon and I am running it, one step at a time. But Julie paces herself, and I should too. May I cherish my “down time,” and then come back strong, ready for all my tomorrows.

Lewes, DE: my happy place

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Packing Time

I should be a world-class champion packer after all these years. My family moved around a lot when I was young. Steve and I lived out of suitcases for nearly two years when we were first married, on our Northeast children’s theatre tour. For the past 30 years, we have moved our sizable household to the Delaware shore for two months. For the past 12 years, I have moved our youth mission teams to locations near and far (including copies of passports, medical cards, etc. etc.)

And every July, I need to pack for two separate experiences: mission trip and beach. It should be a piece of cake, right?

So why am I standing in my living room, paralyzed, as July 5th rolls around once again? My suitcase
my empty suitcase
is still empty; our kitchen equipment remains in the cabinets and NOT in boxes. Haven’t made my mission trip photocopies of youth covenants and release forms yet. With my luck, I will open my luggage on location in Onancock, Virginia tomorrow, only to find my herb and spice collection, while my Rehoboth-bound belongings will include the mandatory Youthworks mission trip paperwork and not one single thing I need for my shore vacation. 

I have a hard time with leave-takings of any kind. If I don’t adequately pack, maybe I don’t have to go. Deep down I know that isn’t true, know that, ready or not, there I’ll go—and it’s a heckuva lot better to be prepared for the journey ahead. But still I lollygag until zero hour. I daydream that my circumstances will suddenly change radically, and I will become free to remain exactly as I am. Unpacked.

Also, I am far too dependent on my Steve, packer extraordinaire. Most of the time he is around, willing and able to help me inflate my air mattress, cram a ridiculous amount of items into my small satchel. When I think of the horrible possibility of being without him for good someday, beyond the incredible emotional angst, I worry about my ability to cope in general. I am still, at age 57, pretty shaky at the prospect of navigating life on my own.

Whether I like it or not, it’s packing time. Time to embark on two entirely different summertime adventures. Both involve a lot of prep. Both require me to be much more organized than I naturally am, and call for me to take a giant step outside the comfort zone that is East Oreland. And this time I am also saying goodbye to my little Aiden for awhile, and I don't want him to change an iota, even as I know he is changing hourly.
How can I leave Captain Adorable?

So what should I pack this time? How about some courage? Some flexibility? Some humor? How about a little passion and a lot of compassion, along with the sunscreen and bug spray? How about faith, faith that all will be well this summer as it has been in summers past? 

Off I go, then. Wish me luck?