Saturday, October 12, 2013

Your insecurity is showing

There was a time, not too long ago, that my biggest priority in life was being smart. I had this thing in me that made me feel worthless if I couldn't win an argument. If I couldn't bring you to tears with my sarcasm and make myself bigger by making you feel smaller than I somehow wasn't worth the air I was breathing. As I moved on in life this attitude seemed to alienate me from people. It seemed that those around me didn't place as high a value on being right as I did. I rubbed people the wrong way and I didn't know why.

What has made me think back to all of this is the whole government thing going on. People are fighting, not just about that, but about any topic under the sun. The fight gets ugly. It gets mean. People give themselves permission to put down their humanity and compassion to win a battle of words with an acquaintance or friend. It makes me sad. Sometimes I stumble into these melees and come out wounded and confused. Didn't I used to be awesome at this? It did used to be my thing. These days though I find myself biting my tongue and wording and rewording responses before I post. In most cases I have to just leave the conversation. It has become too much for me.

Its not a question of could I win. That mean girl is still in there. Its just now I realize how insecure that girl was. I was on a mission to declare to the world that I was an intellectual. I was not to be trifled with. And I could stand on top of the castle of right and wave my flag triumphantly. What I couldn't seem to do was occupy the land of nice and the land of right at the same time.

It seems like such an unimportant thing to be nice, but when I look back on the people I admire they were all nice. They were and are compassionate, loving and kind. My heroes look nothing like me foaming at the mouth waiting to tear you to shreds with my clever come backs. I decided I didn't like how that looked anymore even if it felt temporarily awesome.

These days I couldn't care less if people think I am a super genius. I know a lot more than I did then. I am exponentially smarter than I used to be. What has changed is the fact that I don't need to convince anyone anymore. I am perfectly fine with people thinking I am an idiot when it comes to politics, science or current affairs. What I want is for people to walk away from an interaction with me and feel respected. I want them to see my heart and compassion before they get to know my wit and smarts. I want to be described as kind. So if I excuse myself from an argument or allow another person to talk down to me on the interwebs that's ok. Its more important to me that I can look back on it and know that I put my best foot forward. I want to know that I wasn't mean, nasty or insulting to get my point across. So what if I get my point across? People are more important that points. Their feelings should trump their politics. So if you ever get the feeling that I am ditzy or uninformed that's fine. I'll take that over mean any day.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Urban gardener: Take 1

Ok so I have been busy this summer. I mean busy. I made my kids do school so I could be a mean mom and I even pretended to like camping. I got to see all my lovely southern relatives this year which made my heart so full and happy I might tear up. BUT the thing that I did that was unexpectedly fun was plant my first garden. I had never grown anything except some sad bean plants in Mr Sacco's class in 9th grade. That was one weird dude. You just don't even know. So I had no idea about any of this stuff, but I like to take on huge projects that I have no knowledge about and just run with it. It's kinda my thing.

I started with seeds because my garden was going to be organic and nothing unholy was going to touch my precious plants. That and I am a bit of a control freak. So I bought some organic seeds for any veggie that seemed tasty with no real thought as to where and how I would plant them. I brought my seeds home and informed my husband of my latest scheme. He somberly reminded me that we have two of the dumbest dogs to ever breath air (WE LOVE THE DOGS OK?) and this could be very messy. Of course it took me no time at all to inform him we could build some planter boxes to deter the intellectually challenged canines. And of course my loving husband did just that. He built me the most awesome planter boxes this side of the Mississippi.
 I honestly thought two would be enough. I didn't want to get all crazy.... I decided to plant tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, jalapenos and cucumbers. If you know anything about gardening you can see that I am already off to a rough start because that is way to many things for two planter boxes.

My friend on FB mentioned starting seeds so of course I googled that and got to work lining the windows of my house with tables upon tables of seed trays. I watched my little seedlings get bigger and bigger and not once did it occur to me there might not be enough room for all of them to live happily together. I was going to make it work because that's what families do! I may have gotten a little emotionally attached.
As predicted my "special" dogs started goofing off in the boxes before I could even get any plants in there. I mumbled curse words at them while assuring myself that once the seed babies were in there they would leave them alone. We had a number of talks about it. I was stern. I was sure they got the point. I was quick enough to catch the larger perpetrator in the act one time. Stupid $%&@# dog!
 Of course all of this buffoonery didn't stop once the plants were in. I planted my little darlings and made the mistake of fertilizing them because that's what the youtube guy who reminds me of my neighbor Jeff told me to do. My dogs went nuts on several occasions trying to locate the source of the wonderful fishy smell. They just had to have it. Luckily their ridiculousness only displaced some seedlings which is very important when it comes to carrots. Carrots need their space, man. You will get alien carrots if you don't properly space.

Here are my tomatoes that obviously need more room and some serious pruning.

This is the box with the carrots. You can see right away that there are way too many and its seriously hard to keep rows going when your 65lb chocolate lab decides to practice her dance routines in there. It amazes me that anything grew in that box.

So that is the first leg of my garden journey. Part 2 will be coming shortly because I know how anxiously you wait for my garden updates. If anything it will save you some work if you are starting a garden of your own. I hope this is enough to hold you over.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Am I the same girl.....

I think sometimes I suffer from multiple personalities. See, in my mind I have this fantasy of who I want to be. I see myself completely different than I actually am. Only when these two identities come crashing together in the real world am I forced to face the truth. I am not the girl I wish I was.

In my head I am this free spirited, at home in nature hippie. I buy whole organic foods and take bath's in Dr Bronner's soap. I live in the country and have animals and a garden that feed my family. I rise early to get eggs from the chickens and milk my cow, Mildred. Yes, my imaginary cow has a name. I am anti-chemical and holistic. All the tables in my house are brightly colored mosaics. There are quirky nick knacks through out. I dress in an effortless bohemian style and drive a VW van.

I am drawn to blogs about people who live this way. I love the images and think how lovely their rustic kitchens are. I gaze jealously at their property with animals and a neat little vegetable patch. Then I look around my own home and looks nothing like that.

In real life I live in a city with lots of convenience and lots of people. Its a nice quiet suburban area, but its by no means the rural retreat I tell myself I want. I have had plenty of opportunities to move out into the country but when push came to shove I just couldn't do it. In the same way I couldn't bring myself to paint and distress my kitchen cabinets when several of my friends did. It's just not me.....the real me anyway.

My practical taste is fairly modern. I like clean lines and neutrals. I do tend to favor a bit of traditional style as well, but only when it's accompanied by a modern element to tone it down. I love sparkle in my clothes and in my makeup. I prefer to look more jet set than natural. My dream kitchen cabinets are black with slim brushed nickel hardware. My life is more Ikea than pottery barn. And I do homeschool which is a bit out of the box. So why the great divide between my mind and reality? The only way I can seem to reconcile the two is to try and work as many of my hippie desires into my cityfied cushy life.

The organic food was a fairly easy switch. The soap and cleaning products were a seamless transition as well. Learning to make bread was a bit harder, but well worth the effort. I am working on my own little patch of a garden this year which makes my hippie heart sing. I am pretty sure the city won't let me have the farm animals I want though. It's probably for the best. I don't even want to clean up after my two pampered house dogs. My minivan is just so dang comfortable and good on gas and as idyllic as it may seem I just don't think the country is for me. I have this thing where I am afraid of being eaten by wild animals. I am sure its a very respectable phobia.

Every now and then I pretend with my husband that I want to live on acreage and visit Mildred every day. I kinda would like more space. Maybe one day he will convince me to take the plunge and commit myself to farm living. Until then I will appease my free spirited all natural inner self with some eco friendly changes. We have to come together on some things.......just not everything. And we can still smell good.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's magic

I recently procured a delightfully old piano. I fell in love with it immediately. It takes up nearly one fourth of my humble living room, but what it has brought into my life has been well worth the sacrifice of space. Any time I feel the least bit inspired its there. Its just waiting for me to open the panel and play the keys. And there is no sound like a real piano. Real wood and weighted keys are magic.

My kids are equally enthralled with this new gift. They sit and poke the keys while making up songs to go with their improvised melodies. I love how the words to the itsy bitsy spider seem to fit any tune. My oldest has taken to it as well. She decided to learn moonlight sonata along with me. I love hearing her progress and it keeps me on my toes trying to stay one step ahead of her.

I have learned countless Elton John and Billy Joel songs. One day I may master the concentration and skill to sing along with them. For now all my concentration goes into my fingers as I play the complicated chords and rhythms. I never seem to pick easy songs. That being said, my current project is equally impossible as all the other songs I have attempted to conquer. Alice Childress...... Ben Folds is by far one of my favorite piano guys and he is muy talented. So here is the song in case you aren't already a fan. It sounds so simple.....but I am here to tell you that this novice pianist is struggling. I will get it though and I will finish moonlight sonata. Until then I will play the parts I know with abandon and love my giant old piano.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

You can run.....

I had been drinking a lot of wine that night, but then I always drank a lot of wine. As soon as I got home from work I practically tore out of my uniform and went for a drink. Wine in Italy was as cheap as soda. I could get a bottle of fragolino for around 3 bucks. I liked to keep it classy. Then there was the occasional Boone's farm if I was feeling super trashy. I am not sure what or how much I had to drink that night alone in my room, but I wasn't passed out yet.

My mother had humiliated me yet again. Thousands of miles away she managed to insert herself into my daily life. I had made it plenty clear when I enlisted that I wanted away from her and my dad. They were both dysfunctional and drove me to the edge of my sanity. I had to get out, but here she was again. Sticking her nose in my business. She was relentless.

My first sergeant had come to see me at work that day. I was sure I was in trouble which I so eloquently blurted out followed by a few choice expletives to impress my all male coworkers. It wasn't easy being taken seriously by a group of guys who were sure that you were an idiot before you ever had a chance to open your mouth. All you had to do was be female to be completely useless in the maintenance field. I was constantly harassed and belittled and tried desperately to prove that I had the brains to do the job. It didn't matter though. Unless I was going to date one of them they didn't really care.

My first shirt was a tall Hispanic man. He was always cheerful and upbeat. He began asking my about my past. Where was I from? Did I go to church? All really weird questions from a man I had only spoken to in passing. He invited me to church and told me about his own struggles in the military. He told me how important this group of believers was to him and that I should consider going. My mom was very concerned about me.

My parents were pastors from the time I was five years old. They swept us off to Germany to pastor a church outside an army base for about 5 years. All I wanted was my grandma. I hated being there. My parents made many friends and I met a man named Bob Moore. I thought little of the whole experience once we returned stateside as our lives went down the toilet in almost every way conceivable. I had not thought much of it until that day talking to my first sergeant on the pic nic tables outside my shop.

"Your mom called up Bob Moore. Do you know him?" he asked. Of course I knew who he was. "She asked him to find out which servicemen's center was near your base. So Bob called our pastor and our pastor asked around and found out you were in my squadron. So here I am." I was dumbfounded. As soon as I got off work the drinking started. I had to get that day out of my head.

So in my state of heavy intoxication I decided to go for a walk. I walked under the concrete bridge toward the other end of the base. I walked past the chapel and heard music. I always stop and listen when I hear music. It sounded familiar and I was bored so I went to the chapel door. I peeked inside and saw that a service was going on. I slid onto the back row and listened. I don't remember anything he said that night, but when the pastor gave the altar call I went down. I cried my eyes out not knowing what would make this miserable life any better. I still had to go to work the next day. I still had to deal with all my problems. I was still pretty drunk. I looked up and saw my first sergeant. I had "stumbled" into his church.

 The people I met there were warm and welcoming. They became my family and helped me weather the rest of my time in that god forsaken job. Things got much worse before they got better, but I don't know what I would have done if I hadn't had those wonderful people to lean on and a nosy mother that wouldn't be deterred. How different my life would look. I look back at that moment and know it was not coincidence. It never is. It never ceases to amaze me that I find God waiting where I least expect him. He was at the end of a drunken walk playing my song.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The story of him

I stepped off the plane and into a small crowded airport. There were so many people I felt like I couldn't breath. Add that to all of the other worries I had been spinning around in my head like a view master constantly switching scenes at lightening speed and you have one overwhelmed teenage girl. The only thing that kept me from exploding in emotion was sheer exhaustion from the flight. I was at my first actual military assignment. I spotted my sponsor across the crowd. She was tall and thin with long wavy brown hair pulled into a pony tail. To my surprise, she brought a friend. A tall smiling blond haired man/boy. He was full of energy and jokes. He made her laugh with almost every comment. I have to admit I thought he was pretty funny myself. Their smiles put me at ease as I crawled into the back of the smallest car I had every seen outside of the circus. It was green and bug shaped....and weird, but I had no car so I couldn't be choosy. Thankful to have a ride I buckled up and settled in for the journey to my new home.

I had no idea how long the drive would be. It always seems to take longer when traveling somewhere new. My new friends were chatting away in the front seat while some terrible country music blared on the rough sounding stereo. This was my first introduction to Toby Keith and I was not impressed with his yellow rose in a long neck bottle. We must have listened to it drag on at least three times. It occurred to me she might not own any other cds.

We finally pulled into the gravel driveway of a pink two story house with a lonely palm tree in the yard. Apparently this was the home of smiley guy and we were making a stop before she took me to the dorms. I reluctantly got out of the booger car and went inside the obvious bachelor pad. There was an old beat up sofa, a papa san chair, a large tv and a coffee table that to this day still makes me shudder. It was a glass top table with full, empty and half empty beer bottles completely covering the surface. I believe there was an ash tray or two squished in there somewhere. The bottles were all different colors. Some were brown, others green or clear. I stared at that "coffee" table in disbelief. Apparently the owners of this residence were without a trash can. It was dirty and smelled of cigarettes and meat. I turned around as my new friends hurried upstairs promising to return soon.

When I turned back around two young men had entered the room. Both wearing unbloused BDU pants, half laced combat boots and untucked brown t-shirts. They introduced themselves and I immediately got the impression that they had been celebrating the end of their work day with some alcoholic refreshments. So much so that they hadn't even bothered to change clothes. It appeared that they just started yanking at any part of the uniform that felt constricting until they landed in the heap of disheveled clothes I saw before me.  My suspicions were confirmed as they offered me a drink. I refused and sat down as they began their interrogation. They were amused by my accent as they inundated me with staggered questions about the whole of my life before I ended up in their sad home on their dilapidated couch. One was short with dark hair and tan skin. The other was tall with dark hair and the face of a little boy. He was quite the contradiction standing there with his baby face, cigarette and booze. They were both clean shaven and tried their best to be hospitable despite their obvious inebriation.

The shorter guy disappeared after a while and I was left alone with the 10 year old boy in a military uniform. He finally, after incessant badgering, convinced me to take a shot with him. He asserted that he would be a bad host if he didn't offer and he would be honored to participate in my first drink in Italy. I sighed and followed him into a small dingy kitchen. It was poorly lit with the smallest stove and sink arrangement I had ever seen. There was a tall free standing cabinet that housed a rainbow of liquor bottles. From top to bottom were bottles of vodka, gin, and a plethora of liquors I had never seen before. He offered me a shot of southern comfort. While I appreciated his sense of humor I grew hesitant about the brown strong smelling liquid he began pouring into what I was sure was not a clean glass. I guess he picked up on my nerves and he cracked  open a coke for me to wash it down with. I put the tiny glass to my lips and gave myself a quick pep talk. I really didn't care what this kid thought of me I just wanted some distraction from their dirty house. I managed to drink less than half the shot before I slammed the glass down in disgust and dove for the coke. He burst into laughter as I guzzled the soda like someone who just crossed a desert.

  He tilted his head and easily put back the rest of the shot for me. To my relief, I heard her voice again ringing down the hall that it was time to go. I spun on my heels and quickly thanked him over my shoulder as I practically ran out of the house. I was never so happy to leave. I was disappointed that these two clowns were the first people I got to hang out with on my adventure, but it was out of my control. I wouldn't be visiting there again any time......ever. I was done with these two, or so I thought. Little did I know that through a crazy twist of events and lots more alcohol I would actually move in with the tall baby faced boy, marry him and have 4 babies. If this isn't a lesson on the value of first impressions then I don't know what is. Its funny to think of how we met and his instant attraction to me. I wish it would have been mutual, but that's not how it played out. He's grown on me and changed me for over a decade now. And I am quite happy to admit that I was wrong about him.

 I just won't ever say it to his face.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Getting to know you...

I keep seeing these posters on the interwebs.

"How to care for introverts"

"How to care for extroverts"

"Introverts vs Extroverts"

I read them, maybe laugh a little bit at the sly humor and cute cartoon but if I were to be completely honest ( which I am often compelled to be) they really get on my nerves. I don't know if that makes me an introvert, extrovert or just a jerk. I guess that is for you to decide. I get it. I like information as much as the next free thinker. What I don't like is a set of rules I should follow because you have taken to labeling yourself.

Boo! You are more than your social anxiety!

Which is not the same as being an introvert. I married an introvert. I LOVE many introverts. Not all of them cower in social settings or exhibit strange behaviors when confronted with small talk. My husband is an introvert and has to deal with the public on a daily basis. He also enjoys his down time. ALONE. A good number of my friends are introverts and they range from confident to shy. I am kinda like an introvert magnet I suppose. If I had to guess why I would say that we balance each other out. I can do most of the talking and planning while they do most of the thinking and reasoning. They like to tell me why my plans won't work or don't make sense and I like to tell them how cute puppies are or why rainbows are SO pretty and how mermaids definitely exist. I might just be a form of entertainment for them......

Either way, I don't think anyone is as simple as  a set of rules or guidelines. That's why you won't catch me posting about how to care for me. I don't feel like the world in general needs to know how to talk to me or when to give me compliments. I think its excellent to know about yourself. I am all for self inventory and understanding. Its also super helpful if you are a parent. Raising kids is hard work and knowing who they are can only help. What I dislike is how people feel like they need to inform me of who they are up front. I don't need to know "how" to approach or communicate with you. I use this old fashioned method. Its called time.

If you are in my life in some capacity I have taken the time to study you. I know your likes and dislikes. I know whether you are out going or socially awkward. I know if you tend to be a loner or love going to the mall. I listen when you talk. Its that easy. I don't need a personality profile or set of "suggestions" based on your four letter personality score. I don't need to be coached or guided in how to carefully deal with you so that I don't upset you. Guess what? I am probably going to upset you at some point. Its inevitable and its not because I ignored the guidelines. Its because we are all people. We HAVE to learn to deal with each other.

You are more than any test can ever accurately define. You are more complex than any poster can ever determine. Do not allow yourself to be pigeon holed. It's a spectrum yo.

So I can give you some quiet when you need it. I can learn to not take it personally when you don't want to hear about every solitary thought that passes through my fast moving brain. I can learn about you without any slide show. You can learn also. You can learn that I need to talk and that doesn't make me any less deep than you. You can give me the benefit of a response in a timely manner whether it be in conversation or in text. Don't leave me hanging in the wind. And we can all get along just fine.