Season’s End

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You guys, this gives me the sads. I hate goodbyes. I hate when good things are over, and what started as a bloggy place to explore voice and tone in writing has been such a fun hang out for me through the last couple of years. I had kids on here, for goodness’ sake! We moved and grew. It was such an elastic space to stuff memories while working on all things writerly and photography-ey, and where else am I going to affect a tone so closely aligned to Bridget Jones and Nancy Mitford?

Seriously. SO SAD.

But every time I sat down to write a post this summer I just… had to walk away after two paragraphs. Not enough words, too many words, not the right ones—I have drafts in every state of wrongness from the last couple of months, trying to get my head around the big concepts of dealing with life as it really is when we’re not making it nicer for public consumption. I need a different space for the next journey, a journey toward greater authenticity and healing, and—truthfully—I am unwilling to deal with the shitstorm of having this next adventure in such a public space.

I’m not even sure I want to deal with the shitstorm of using a word like shitstorm.

I just need a fresh bloggy start, you know?

So this is me signing off for the foreseeable. I have another adventure to take, and I have never been immune to September’s siren call of fresh notebooks and spanking new planners. The time is right. Nothing like the giddy invigoration of a new blog. And nothing quite so anonymous either, amirite?

So thanks for reading with me here, and happy trails, fellow travelers!

 

Motion Blur Summer

20140701-101346-36826906.jpgHappy summer! We’re having a good one here—not idyllic in every way, of course, but pretty fab nonetheless. Ollie is still waking a lot at night. He’s also started walking, which is fantastic and challenging at the same time. Iris’s brain is so much faster than her mouth now that she gets frustrated when she can’t communicate (we spent an entire weekend listening to her repeat “mo tee!! mo teeeeeeeee!” with increasing desperation. Turns out she wanted to go pick mulberries from the mulberry tree at the park, but OMG, people. We were scraping the dictionary for every possible combination of “mo” and “tee” sounding words before we finally got it).

And the projects! Oh, the projects.

It’s only July, but it’s looking like Carl’s freelance jobs are going to end up being 30-40% of our income this year. Which is crazy to me. But kind of crazy awesome, since it gives us a chance to pay down some debt and do some house projects we’ve been putting off for years now. The basement is done and half furnished, my goal is to order things for the playroom/someday Iris’s bedroom this week, and at night you can find me slinging paint in the laundry room to the Imagine Dragons album. And, yes, at the rate I’m going in there, it’s going to take me all summer to prime and paint that space, small as it is.

It’s okay.

It’s summer and the crazy kaleidoscopic living—a little of this, and a little of that in a slow churn—feels just right.

Processed with VSCOcam with m6 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c2 presetAnd me? I’ve been okay. Being a mom has made the highs higher and the lows lower than they used to be. There are moments I literally can’t remember anything good about my life, and long stretches where I feel completely zenned out with the quiet happiness of life in our abode. I took them both down the curly slide at the park the other day, all eight limbs squirming like an octopi in my lap and just felted amazed that so much life could be concentrated into so little space.

Magic and mayhem, people. It’s kind of a package deal.

Am also writing, though not on the novel. I had the opportunity to work on the script for some kids’  programming through Carl’s job, and since one of my goals for the year is to say YES more often (I’m really good at no, so it was time), I signed up. Can’t say I’m looking to write tween dramas for the next 60 years or anything, but it was SO GOOD to actually turn something in and know that it will reach its audience. I’ve also been working on a couple of brief chapters for a book my brothers are writing, and reading a book on poetic meter is giving me some good challenges in that department. It’s nice to be working and finishing things.

It’s just nice.

The summer is treating us well. Hope the same is true for you.

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Communing with Jane

I’m sick, the kids are sick, and Carl (also sick) is working a 12-14 hour day. Not our finest hours, for sure.

We are not entirely without consolation however. The June weather has been GORGEOUS here. Our backyard has smelled amazing for weeks on ends (full credit to lilacs, honeysuckle, and now the peonies). Iris finally hit her sicky sleep wall and has spent most of her morning so far snoozing peacefully on the couch. I went on a Disney DVD classics buying binge, and it’s been (mostly) fun to re/discover the magical world of Disney together. (I say mostly because Iris, totally cool with the Huns, was besides herself over the matchmaker in Mulan, shrieking “MEAN MEAN MEAN” literally 50 times straight until I finally turned the movie off which resulted, of course, in an even bigger meltdown. So… can’t win them all?).

And I am rereading all of Jane Austen’s novels. It’s my new summer goal (along with “CRUNCHES EVERY DAY IN JUNE,” affectionately known as “HAHAHA. SURE”).

I thought I was just going to do a refreshed on Emma about six weeks ago before diving into some contemporary literary fiction this summer. If you don’t know me in real life, I am always just on the cusp of diving into a contemporary fiction course of reading that will leave me well-read, knowledgable, and awesome. I never actually do it, naturally.

This time = business as usual. I read Emma, which resulted in a convo with my friend Michele about how we should reread P&P together (we did), which then turned into a texting book club with Michele and another friend as we all read through S&S, and now I’m in withdrawal from finishing that so Mansfield Park it is.

Ok and in my spare time I may also be writing S&S fan fiction—BUT I CAN EXPLAIN. It’s actually awesome and also I am only one healthy week away from transitioning Oliver out of our room and into the nursery, which means massive sleep deprivation ON THE OTHER SIDE OF WHICH I will again be able to think about a real writing schedule.

Writing fan fic is like my workout before the game, right?

Like the crunches I am totally not doing.

Having Adventures

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We are home. Not that we’ve been out of the house entirely–the kids and I have been in and out–but we have reached the stage of big exhalations and peaceful nights. I no longer leave a light on in the living room at night. Carl is back from an 11 day shoot in Israel, and we’re all together again.

But what an adventure!

I mean, obvs I was not hiking all day with a thirty pound pack or getting up at 5 to do a sunrise time lapse shoot, but I drove across the state with crying children by myself! I put kids to bed and sat by toddler beds at 2am and got up at 6 all by myself. I read books at night and made plans with friends and survived a sprained ankle.

It’s easy to acknowledge that there are millions of single/military/traveling parents doing this day in and day out, but acknowledging a fact is way easier than actually inching out a little farther on whatever branch you happen to perch on.

I feel like a better mom.

I feel like a more chill mom.

I’m excited by how much larger our lives could be… if we wanted. Like I would happily do this again if another travel gig popped up, and the thought of doing a writing conference or retreat is suddenly tempting.

I already have a retreat weekend away planned in October. :)

Growth is good, and all the little steps are worth celebrating. That’s my opinion of the day.
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Making Monsters

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Every time I log in and start to write it all turns into a very boring moan about parenthood and the opacity of motherhood (women, I think, begin life semi-opaque, but motherhood definitely accentuates it) and my own surprise at how easily complicit I become in the whole thing, and while I have nothing against moans, I don’t have much luck getting to the nerve-end of mine.

Just truisms about being female and sleep deprivation.

So here are some pictures instead. Because we’re reading Olivia every day, and Olivia has a little brother and sometimes she scares him by roaring at him with a paper bag on her head made into a monster.

I’m not saying we aren’t enjoying life. I’m just saying I thought this would be easier… and by this I suppose I mean undoing generations of gender patterning before our oldest is out of diapers.

Talk about monsters.

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OMG I haven’t finished anything in 3 years

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Exhibit B: so stinking sweet

I mean, I knew how it would be, so I’m not complaining exactly. Maybe lament? Lament is fair, I think.

It just kind of hit me strangely as I was pushing Iris around the block on her scooter, Ollie asleep in his carrier, knowing that with Easter coming up I have a whole string of very long days ahead on the parenting front. Three years is a long time not to finish a project. And I have large chunks of two different books written, so I do actually write. I just can’t sustain anything. Because: colds, babies, laundry, dishes, teething, deprivations both mental and physical.

This was the right time for our kids, and nobody is making me stay home. But life is rarely as black or white as all that.

Sometimes I wonder if I don’t finish things for psychological reasons.

You know, like I’m afraid of failure or afraid of success or afraid of whatever sounds most legit at the time. Pondering my mental health is always a good time, but I don’t really think that has much to do with it.

Or maybe it’s just that writing is hard. Although writing was always hard. And I still finished things before.

Maybe it is kids.

It’s hard to know what to fix sometimes. It’s hard to weigh my kids’ inevitable freak out if I leave the house with my own inevitable freak out if I don’t. Sometimes it all just feels like a lot of freaking out.

A lot of it is not having external deadlines.

On the plus side, it’s given the stories an unusually long time to percolate. And I realized today, somewhere around the block with Iris waving hello to every fire hydrant, that on some deeper, unplanned level one of the stories is about purpose and the other is about happiness, and sometimes my switching between them has nothing to do with unconscious fears of failure and everything to do with the ideas churning up at the time in my own life.

Two of my brothers are writing a collaborative book of essays about our childhood vacations at Disney World, and last week Joel emailed me his latest piece on aesthetic appropriation. You know. The way Disney mimics and recreates other places, and the way we as kids mimicked and recreated Disney in our own stories and ideas about travel and culture. It was an insightful, fun read, but while aesthetic appropriation is obviously huge in anyone’s creativity, I think emotional appropriation is the bigger playground for me.

There is nothing autobiographical about any of my plots, unless you count “and then she grew up” as plot, but the emotional lives of my characters are always very vivid and familiar to me… although, of course, I have varying success getting that on the page. And I think this is why it’s been hard for me to finish anything lately. The equation of very limited time with having two books with such enormous topics—it’s like every day I pull up the lobster trap of my daily experience to see if I’ve got anything useful for either of my works-in-progress, and let me tell you, that is a killer slow way to finish a book.

Or maybe I’m overthinking it and it really isn’t anything more profound than the fact that it’s really hard to write with a baby giggling and farting and fussing on your lap.

I feel like that’s probably fair too.

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On Being a Christian and Being Tired

There are a lot of great things about having kids, but it definitely changes your processing style. Gone are the days of dropping everything to think, research, be angry, stare out windows, figure stuff out.

So, yes.

While the rest of the world moves on to newer news, I’m still mulling over the World Vision decision/retraction news from last week… reading articles and absently passing crackers to Ollie in his highchair while Iris takes large bites straight off a block of cheddar. (Not kidding about any of that, btw).

And I don’t know if this is right, wrong, or ignorant, but given that I only have a limited amount of energy to spend engaging on social media, I generally try to restrict myself to topics where I have some chance of being informed. I know a lot about being female in a Christian fundamentalist world. I know something about abuse and childhood trauma. I have a distant shot at adding to conversations about marriage and kids—if only because that’s my parking space these days. And I don’t know anyone who likes to get contentious about the murder mystery genre, but if that ever comes up in my feed you can bet I’ll be on it like white on rice.

But here’s what I think:

I believe no single group has the right to define what it means to be legally married in a secular country. Honestly, I find it kind of bizarre that this is seen as a debatable issue in our culture, but there you go. Apparently it is.

For people attempting to live out the Christian faith as understood in the Bible, of course, the issue is slightly more complicated. I understand that, because I also tend to take the Bible seriously in my personal life. Which, let’s be honest, is a bit more complicated for women than for men. So I’m used to questioning things and having to find my own way a bit. But I absolutely believe in God. I am blown away by the humanity and deity of Jesus. I have no problem affirming anything in the Apostles’ Creed.

And yet.

This week has worn me out.

I’m tired of being told that love and righteousness are in tension. They’re not.

I’m tired of being told that you can love someone and reject them at the same time. I literally do not understand how that’s supposed to work. (And if I hear the “woman caught in adultery” story one more time on this I will punch you in the face. The next time you save a gay person from being murdered, you just might have the credibility to comment on his life choices.)

I’m tired of seeing the word TRUTH in all caps. Please stop.

I’m tired of the idea that correct beliefs are mandatory while correct actions are optional.

I’m tired of people pretending there aren’t genuine Christians on every point of this spectrum and debate.

I’m tired of having my spirituality questioned because I can’t be suitably condemning on this. Trust me, it’s not that I don’t believe in questioning my spiritual commitments.  I question them all the time—when I speak in anger to my kids, when I fail to check in with a friend who’s suffering, when I get myopically and exclusively focused on the little doings inside my own house… But I have never questioned my spirituality for being too compassionate. I’m not sure that level exists, but if it does it’s probably like a bonus round they give you if your heavenly welcoming party gets held up. In other words, that’s not the test I’m worried about failing.

Mostly… I’m tired of waiting to hear back from my church.

Faith is a hard thing.

Hope is a hard thing.

Love, I think, is the hardest of all.