Sunday, August 21, 2011

Real Alarm

We went to the children's museum and visited the fire truck exhibit.  

They had a real fire truck and a mannequin in real firefighting gear holding a real hose nozzle.  It was fun to watch Landon and his cousins enjoy pretending to be real firefighters: dressing up in gear, sitting at the steering wheel, or posing with the firefighter.

While we were waiting for them, my sister showed me this sign on the wall and I started to laugh: 

Everything is so hands-on and interactive at the children's museum.  This locked box and sign made me wonder if they had learned a lesson the hard way about fire alarms in the same room as the fire truck exhibit..

 I wish I had a space where I could store my alarm for real emergencies only. There can be a lot of alarm floating around in my life sometimes.  I usually call it worry (or concern), though.

I worry about what will or won't happen.  I worry about what I won't measure up to or what I'll be too afraid to ever try.  I feel alarm if I think something is wrong with Landon, and then I feel alarm that I won't catch it, and then I feel alarm that I'm being too paranoid, and then back to alarm that I'm not paying close enough attention.
I feel alarm when I watch Landon play on the playground and attempt things that look way beyond his physical abilities.  And then I worry that by preventing him from trying things beyond his abilities (and consequently injuring himself), he'll never actually learn what his own limits are--making him increasingly reckless and lacking good judgement.

It feels silly just writing it all out.  But this randomized, unproductive worry still floats in and steals my peace sometimes.

So I wish I had a store of it somewhere, in a place relatively difficult to access emotionally: real alarm for a real emergency only.

And then I wish that life would present itself so unambiguously that I would never even need ask myself, "Is this worth worrying about?"
The signs would be clear, I'd have my little box of genuine alarm, and the emergency would receive the proper amount of it that it deserved.

The rest of the time, I'd love to be in the moment.  Present and attentive, full of as much wonder and excitement as Landon was at the museum.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cat Woman Comes Home

Occasionally I come home and I'm like a penned-up cat--taking irrational swipes at whoever draws near, even those who care.  I feel hissy and wary and primed to throw a fit.

It doesn't take more than 24 hours and a couple of replays in my mind before I feel completely foolish and contrite.  Who is that snarly woman and can somebody just do us all a favor and not let her come home here anymore?!

A couple of nights ago it was about a tree.
I stepped out the front door and found a tree growing in the middle of the front yard.

Instead of a dozen lovely and grateful things I could have said, I chose,

"Did you know they were going to plant a tree in our yard?"

Bill (blithely not noticing an edginess in my voice) apologized that he was going to tell me about the HOA's decision to do so, but he had forgotten.

I just plow on: "What kind is it?"

"Oh, I really can't remember.  They got an amazing deal on them, though, because the landscaper ordered the wrong kind for another client.  I kind of fought for our yard to be one that got a tree.  Cool, huh?"

And then, with a slow and steely precision you think would be reserved for prosecutors accusing very evil people, I ask,

"What kind of person let's a tree be planted in his yard and doesn't even know what kind it is?"

The conversation only devolved from there.  I'll spare you the details.

Less than an hour later I was crying for being such a brat, and then apologizing for crying like such a baby and then reduced to, "I'm  really sorry; can I just have a hug?"

I find it startling how totally immature I can be.  I find it embarrassing that anyone has to see me in such states of unrestrained pettiness.

Really?  About an unidentified tree?

Bill volunteered his time on that HOA board, and instead of being grateful for his efforts when we benefit from one of the ensuing perks, I just get all weird and start making speeches about dogs wanting to pee near the base of the tree.  (oh! right-- I was going to spare the details)

Maybe someday I'll only argue about things I really care about.  Maybe someday I'll always be wise enough  to declaw and decompress before I start taking random swipes at the first person or issue that crosses me.

In the meantime, can I just say how grateful I am to have a friend who will still give me a hug at the end of the day, write me a love note of encouragement to find in the morning, and tell me by every means possible--we can get through this--and you're still my Jode?

I'm really more grateful than I can say.


It's a quarter to midnight and my day is finally wrapping up.

Two nights a week I get home close to ten.  Bill is usually still up, basically just waiting for me to get home safely before crashing into bed himself.

I feel like I have missed the party.

Bill gives me highlights.
They walked to the park.
A funny moment.  A silly expression.
What they ate.
How easy/hard it was to get Landon to bed.

I peek in on Landon and can't help but think how there is nothing sweeter than the way he looks.
Tonight, he is nestled into a blanket we put on the floor next to his bed.

I don't know if he started there, or fell there.  I'm glad it's there either way because it has cut down on the midnight thumps and subsequent tears.

Five minutes with Bill.
A few minutes to gaze at Landon and give him a goodnight kiss.

They left this morning before I even woke up.
I come home long after, or shortly before they are asleep.

It feels strange to live with two people and miss them so keenly so much of the time.

Friday, August 12, 2011

3k for my Birthday

Isn't that a catchy title?  Kinda forces you to say "birthday" with a weird inflection doesn't it? : )

Anyway, the 3k is not money or kilometers or cheapo 3 karrot gold. (is there such a thing?)

It represents the 3,000 page views that I've gotten on this blog.  I just hit this number today, on my birthday.

And that, my friends is a true gift to me.  One you have been giving since January.

Yes, a good two thirds of those page views have to be from my family (they are generous that way), but that still leaves a fair chunk of page views left to people unrelated to me.

Your interest and remarks have both fueled and rewarded my efforts.

I have felt daunted on and off by the fact that there are so many examples of excellent and amazing blog writing one click away on the internet.

I have thought of this quote when I've considered stopping:

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang the best.    ~ Henry Van Dyke
 In my very first post I wrote,
CS Lewis said, "We read to know we are not alone." I have lately become convinced that we often write for the very same reason. 
Thanks for joining me in this forest and listening to this song.

I hope you'll stick around for the next 3k.  : )

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Takes One To Know One

Tis' the season of reading lists coming in at the end of the summer.  The long days that seemed to stretch endlessly ahead are quickly coming to their conclusion and every procrastinator out there is realizing that "plenty of time" has dwindled down to "this is due next week."

The more prepared, more disciplined among you may not understand this, but I love these little procrastinators.  I find their panic slightly endearing, their urgency kind of funny, and their overwhelming gratitude completely rewarding.  I will go the length and width of my library, scouring to find something  on the school reading list they can read and slap together the corresponding project for.

"You can do this,"  I tell them, and they are relieved to hear that someone thinks so.

I'm particularly delighted if we have the thinnest book from the list on our shelves.  "Your lucky day!" I exclaim, "You'll be able to knock this out in no time."  (If they were such a great reader, I reason, they wouldn't have dreaded and put it off for so long.)  This is no time to be whipping out fat books that look daunting.  This is no time to ask them to challenge themselves with some obscure award-winner that was a total sleeper-how-did-it-win-an-award dead-weight.

I look for the easiest, most accessible titles, the ones that still evoke good memories for me all these years later, the ones that might leave the reader thinking, "Hey!  This isn't so bad..."

I find them audio versions.  I find them graphic novels and suggest they scan them first before trying to dig into the original text with no idea what it is supposed to be about.  For highschoolers, I look for study guides and commentaries.  Old BBC versions of classics that will help them be able to picture a distant time or place.

Here's what I wish I could say to them:

As time goes on, you'll probably learn (as I have, to greater and lesser degree), that procrastinating is a lifestyle strategy of diminishing returns.  

But for now, while you pull your all-nighter (from which you'll bounce back with ease you'll take for granted) I hope you'll be encouraged by the memory of the librarian who is in your corner--cheering you on to find out what you're capable of, what you can produce, what you can complete, what you can really dig in and do...

You can do this.  You really can.


I wanted to go the rose garden park because we had never been there when the roses were in bloom.

The roses were blooming;  our affection had room to grow, too. Little moments to cherish.     This day, it took really, truly smelling the roses to remind us to "stop and smell the roses."

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Covert Operation for Drugs?

I can't help it, I must share these library stories because I think they are hilarious.

We give away bookmarks at my library.  This is not so unusual, what with all the books we are loaning out and all.

And we have a trademark series that says ANY this, ANY that, ANY this, and then ends with ANY  ____and the name of the genre.  At least, that's pretty much the gist--I haven't memorized them.
They are meant to suggest that we can connect you with anything you are looking for.

So one young patron is looking them over at the desk, kind of taking them in and she gets to:

ANY Heroine

"Any heroine??  Isn't that illegal?"

I guess I should clarify: Comments like these really do crack me up.  I am not smoking crack.

For my part, I am perfecting the art of laughing only with my eyes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Good Night, Gorilla

He has always been a happy baby. 
He's got a first-rate laugh when tickled, when delighted, when surprised, when happy.

But the other night I realized that he is developing a sense of humor, too.
When did my baby become a little boy who gets a kick out of a subtle joke in a picture book?!

So Good Night Gorilla gets a special mention because it made my little boy truly laugh.  He got the giggles over this book, and that's a moment I don't want to soon forget.

This clever little gorilla follows the unsuspecting zookeeper around, unlocking each animal as the zookeeper says goodnight.  Landon puts his finger up to his mouth and says, "Shhh," when he sees this picture.  He pinches his little fingers together and pretends to turn a key in each lock.

When the animals follow the zookeeper home and all try to crash in his bedroom, the wife wakes up and takes them all back to the zoo.

Except for that clever little gorilla and his mouse sidekick.

This is the picture that cracks him up.  
Mouse gets the final goodnight, (after many other unsuccessful ones) and everyone else has fallen asleep. 

Gorilla is exactly where he wanted to be all along.  
That silly little gorilla.

My little monkey has made this one of his most requested lately.
Oh, the bittersweet of library books.  I'll hate to say goodbye to this crew who gives Landon the giggles.

At least I know there's more waiting where that one came from.

The Titanic Couldn't Compartmentalize

 We all know what a wonder the Titanic was.
We all know how confident everyone was that it was an unsinkable vessel.

I heard a man on the radio describe how the Titanic had 16 watertight compartments that would help it stay afloat.  Various combinations of flooding in those compartments was acceptable-- the Titanic could sustain some amount of flooding. (More than other ships before it)  

The designers could not picture the side of the boat scraping along the side of a jagged iceberg, suffering multiple puncture wounds to six compartments as it bumped along.

Maybe even that would have been ok, but as it turned out, the compartments were not truly waterproof.  Their internal walls did not go all the way up to the deck.  Water got in, and as it rose high enough, started spilling into compartments that had not taken any hits.

There are truths that this can illustrate, and the radio man explained.

For example, we all take "hits" in our lives.  In any given compartment (physical, spiritual, relational, professional) something may be going utterly awry.  A flooded compartment that compromises our survival, our happiness, our peace of mind.

But if we can compartmentalize, we can do damage control so that a strained relationship at work does not create unhappiness with us and our family.  Our personal troubles do not cause us to give up eating well or exercising.  Tragedy outside of work does not render us useless at work--the place we must still function if we are to keep our financial boat afloat.

We are taught that it is pathetically fake to be bright and cheerful in one arena if in another, you have nothing to be cheerful about.

But the point is, the Titanic sunk.

Without being able to compartmentalize, he suggests we also will not be able to survive.  To weather the storms.  To repair damage without going down.

If you have ever been in an argument or bad mood with someone en route to a social gathering, and then were able to almost instantly put it aside, put on a cheerful face, and be kind and civil to everyone the two of you encountered, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Your disagreement was put in a compartment until you could properly repair your relationship later.  In the meantime, you were good company to a kind host who didn't need to be burdened with your spat.

This past year has been some pretty treacherous sailing for my little ship.
Icy waters
Spiked with tragedy and loss
Pain and confusion

Last week I barreled into a huge iceberg that has left me in near-constant pain.
I'm flooding in too many compartments.

I need them to be watertight.
I need them to hold true.

I'm taking on a lot of water here.

So if I seem a little tired, a little distracted, or a little less enthusiastic, it's only because I'm pulling double shifts trying to shore up every compartment in this little boat of mine....

I'm a punctured mess taking the advanced course on compartmentalization.

I'm no Titanic, but one thing I know: I'm not going down.

You Make Me Laugh: Twice

Two little girls found me at my library desk to ask for movies about magicians.  And as conversations with little patrons do, the conversation wound around to all sorts of things.

I'm fascinated.

By their animated stories of their pets.
A riveting retelling of their dog's untimely death.
The way they bounce around from topic to topic and I somehow manage to follow along.

The two of them are like the conversational equivalent of a ping-pong game.  Their comments bounce back and forth between them in a seamless rhythm.  I don't have to say much, just a question here and there, and they are off and bouncing again, finishing each other's sentences, and even saying things simultaneously.  (Rather remarkably, actually)

So cute.  So funny.  So nine.
I'm quite taken with them.

We're wrapping up when I ask, "So are you girls twins or just sisters?"
"Yes, we're twins."
"Are you fraternal or identical?"
They look at each other and laugh.  The first thing they have said that didn't match.
You could almost hear the little ping pong ball clattering off the table.

But they got it sorted out between themselves and came back with a unified description of how they are fraternal twins, and a story told in stereo of the identical twins in their class who they call by the wrong names.  We all laugh and they're about to skip off, when one of them clarifies for me,

"Oh, but we're also sisters."

I can't help it.  I laugh out loud.

Of course you are.  I should have guessed.  I'm glad we got that all cleared up.