Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for Vacancy

"Remote, 5 miles," Natalie read on the road sign through the rain.  I can make five miles, she thought.  It was late, she'd been driving for hours, and the rain was now coming down so hard that she could barely see the road.  She hoped there would be a small motel or an inn that she could stay in Remote.  If she tried to drive much further, she'd drive herself right off a cliff.

As she crossed into city limits of the quiet town, she wondered if anyone even lived here anymore.  The houses seemed sad and empty. Signs hung off the walls of old businesses like pictures someone had forgotten to straighten for the past fifty years.  But, toward the end of town, there was a single building with a light on.  "Far and Away Inn," it read. "As Remote As Can Be."  Under the sign, a neon red sign blinked, "VACANCY."

Natalie pulled into the small parking lot next to the other cars, grabbed her duffel bag from the backseat, and pushed open the door to the office.  "Hello?" she inquired. "Is anyone here?"  The front desk was littered with yellowing papers and chewed-up pencils.  A rusty bell sat on a ledge over the desk.  Responding to her shake, the sound reverberated jarringly through the quiet of the room, like she had disturbed something meant to stay untouched.

Just as Natalie was about to retreat back to her car, a door creaked open at the end of a hallway, and an old woman with fuzzy gray hair limped toward her.  The woman was short and plump, with a gray shawl to match her hair draped around her shoulders.  It was almost like the grandmother from Little Red Riding Hood had jumped from the pages to check Natalie into this place. "I'm sorry, dear," came the creaky voice from the woman as she reached the desk. "I just don't walk as fast as I used to. Can I help you?"

Natalie smiled assuringly. "It's alright, ma'am.  I'm on my way to Denver, but this storm is just terrible.  I was wondering if you had any vacancies?"

"Call me Bessie, darling.  Everyone here does." Bessie flipped thoughtfully through the pages on the counter. "As it turns out, we do have just one room left.  It's at the end of the first floor, and has two beds.  Would that work out alright for you?"

"Oh, that would be fine, Bessie. I just need someplace to sleep for the night."

"Alright then, we'll get you checked in." Bessie flipped a switch behind the desk with an air of finality. The light in the room seemed to change.  A dimming? A different tint?  It set Natalie on edge, something was odd here.  "Nothing to worry about," Bessie assured her with a nod toward the window.
Natalie turned in the direction of Bessie's nod and noted an orange "NO" had been turned on outside in front of the red "VACANCY."  She laughed inside at her own unease.  It was just a quiet small town.

Bessie pulled a key from the wall behind her, invited Natalie to follow her and to mind the cats that swirled around their legs. "We don't get a lot of nighttime visitors here, and they just like to say 'Hello.'"

"Oh, it's no bother," Natalie responded, dutifully.  There was something about Bessie that stuck in her mind, but it was nothing she could really put her finger on.  She waited while Bessie opened the heavy door to her room, and then bid the woman goodnight before closing it and sinking tiredly onto one of the beds.

Outside the room, Bessie began making her way back to the desk, murmuring to the cats. A scream emitted from the room she had just left, and Bessie smiled with satisfaction.  Her limp disappeared, and when she arrived at the desk, she turned off the "NO" sign that blinked outside with garish annoyance. "That makes five, my dears.  Will the storm bring us a sixth?"

Natalie had one final thought before the life drained from her completely. It was her eyes. They just didn't blink enough.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Play

My kitchen is kind of a mess. I am in the middle of painting my kids' room. I have 20 pages of editing to do. My garage needs to be cleaned and organized. My email inbox is in DESPERATE need of attention, and I'm four days behind on replying to comments.  I haven't read blog posts for two days.

But you know what?

I'm not going to do any of it today.  TODAY, I am going to play.

yellow shoesPlaying is important.  As adults, how often do we really play?  We ALWAYS have all that stuff to do, don't we?  Work, kids, house, yard, etc.  It's not like it's ever going to go away, and we always have that mental list of things we need to get done in the back of our heads.  We certainly can't play until all that's done!

Wait, what?  You can?

Oh yes, you can.  I'm not saying to blow it off every day.  But every once in a while?  Heck yes.  Blow it off.  Put off what you can do today till tomorrow.  Go outside. Dance in the rain or the sun or the thunderstorm (not recommending golf as a mode of play on those days, kids). Go see something you've never seen before.  Visit your favorite place.  Eat caramel apples and milkshakes and sunshine.

ENJOY YOUR LIFE.  You've only got one.  Put a little play in it.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Naive

Definition: having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous: She's so naive she believes everything she reads.

I see a lot of myself in that.  Naive...  some people call it gullible.  I suppose that's me, too. I don't always know how I feel about that.  I'm easy to use, I know that. If you come to me with what looks like sincerity, I will most definitely be inclined to believe what you tell me.

Part of me doesn't want to be like that.  Sometimes I wish I was more discerning. Sometimes I wish I was better at being able to tell if someone is lying to me or not. But, I'm not.  I'm really really not. I suppose it's why I make sure to surround myself with people that I consider to be wise. I suppose it's the hope that if I can't see what I need to see, maybe they can and maybe they'll be willing to share it with me.

On the other side, I'm not always sorry to be naive either. I don't think I'd want to be the kind of person who mistrusts people all the time, either. But, maybe a happy medium would be nice?

Sorry this is a short post... my mind's been elsewhere the last few days, and we're heavy into painting my kids' room today.  Anybody have any "O" suggestions?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Manipulation

It was a friendship that was over.  If there was blame to be placed for that, there were multiple places to do it.  Some of it belonged to me, some of it belonged to them, which is probably the case with most ended friendships.  Rarely does it fall on just one, and if you start to thinking it does, then you're not being honest with yourself.  I was at the stage of the healing where you go over every minute of the friendship, thinking of what could have gone differently, if you did right, if you did wrong, if you were right to walk away, if you were unreasonable.  I began to realize how strongly manipulation was a part of our friendship.  It wasn't until that moment that I had even seen it. I hadn't realized how easily it was to manipulate me, and it's not been something that I have been able to un-see.

Guilt trips. Passive Aggression. Self putdowns.  They're all things that I've found myself to be really susceptible to, and I cave all the time.  Do you have things that you find yourself kowtowing to constantly?  Or people?

I've been really trying to get away from that.  I don't like feeling used.  I've been trying to adopt a stronger resolve, and to be more resistant when those aforementioned methods of manipulation are used on me. I feel like people will think that, when I don't cave like I used to, that I've become a harder person, that I don't care, that I'm mean, and I don't like that much, either.  But I'm not sorry for becoming stronger, I think it's a good thing. In a roundabout way, it's actually allowed me to be a much better wife and mom, and I can't be sorry for that. I just don't want to be the girl that allows herself to be so manipulated anymore.

Don't you allow yourself, either.  Folks who use manipulation to make you change who you are aren't really your friends, and you're worth more than that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Joel

(I promised him he could have J Day.)

Five Reasons Joel (My Husband) Is Cool

(Please do not tell him I wrote this list.  Our marriage works on a very carefully managed balance in which we keep each other's heads from blowing up from our own mutual coolness factors. *nods*)

1. He's super smart.  Like... really super smart.  People ask me what Joel does for Microsoft, and my answer is usually "I have no idea."  That's not entirely true, I SORT OF have an idea.  And if you pressed me, I could give you a general ballpark answer.  But the truth is that it is very far over my head, and I've learned over the last seven years that just about the time I figure out what he does, he changes positions or groups or his group gets re-orged, and then I have to start all over again.  So...  it saves me a lot of energy to just tell you "He's super smart but I have no idea what he does."

2. He's handsome.  Ok, admittedly, I don't have a lot of pictures to show you to prove this point.  I have a very intimate relationship with my camera.  I'm all "Oh! It's been a WHOLE WEEK since I've had a massive self-portrait session with myself... I am so slacking off!!!"  Joel, on the other hand, finds reasons to hold books, newspapers, plates, and mattresses up in front of his face if he sees a camera in my hand.  Not a fan of getting his picture taken.  But trust me, he's handsome. This is what he looked like when we started dating.  Come on... Tell me he wasn't adorable!  See, you can't.

3. He's funny.  I mean, he's REALLY funny.  Not everyone knows this because he's also kind of shy and will take some time to warm up to you before he lets that out.  But, he's really funny.  (Seriously, if you tell him I said this, I will have to unfriend you.  Our relationship depends on us pretending that we don't think our spouse is seriously the funniest person alive.) He makes me laugh all the time.  Someday, I will tell you one of his favorite jokes.  It's not a GOOD joke, mind you.  It's terrible.  It's long.  It goes on forever and 18 days.  And the pay-off is... non-existent.  But, he just enjoys it so dang much.

4.  He is an awesome awesome dad.  I think that sometimes he doesn't think so.  But he is.  I know he worries that he doesn't spend enough time with them, or that the time he does spend isn't quality, or that he's not doing enough or doing enough right.  But, I'm of the mind that the very fact that he DOES worry about all that stuff is what makes him a great dad.  He is adored, absolutely adored by our girls.  He can just about do no wrong.  He is always the cool parent.  Last year, Alicia had this school concert.  It was scheduled terribly for parent attendance.  The middle of the day in the middle of the week.  Joel had meetings scheduled all day long.  It wasn't convenient in any stretch of the imagination.  But, she'd asked him four times if he was coming, and when I asked HIM if he was going to be able to make it, he said "Not every meeting needs me.  I'll figure it out."  And he did. I might have cried a little. (Well, this isn't about why I'm cool.)

5. He's a pretty fine husband, too.  I'm difficult.  Let's just admit that.  I'm high maintenance and I'm moody.  But, for some reason, he loves me.  He works hard as a provider.  He works hard as a dad, and he works hard as a husband.  He's not a "flowers every week" kind of a guy, but the things he does are GOOD.  I remember when we were dating, he gave me a tape of this one song.  And I will never forget when he said "I've been saving that for a long time...  I've just been waiting for someone I cared enough about to give it to."  On my 17th birthday, he made the most romantic date ever.  On our 1000th day of being married, he took me out on a date we could barely afford with 1000 pennies.  It was his idea to return to where we spent our honeymoon to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. He DOES bring me flowers, but it's on days I don't expect it. "You sounded like today's been a hard day, so I thought you might like these."  He randomly brings me home lattes and frappaccinos. He apologizes when he feels like he's said something that he didn't mean, or that just came out wrong. I have the most up-to-date computer in the world because it's what he does, and it's one thing he knows he can do to take care of me.  and I realize that, to someone else, having the most up to date computer in the world is not the most romantic thing ever.  But I know that I have it because he loves me, and maybe that sounds weird...  But I understand that it's his way of saying "I love you and I want you to know that you're important to me."

I'm a lucky girl, friends.  Very lucky.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G is for.... ?

I woke up slowly and shivered. Not again, I thought irritably.  Luke was always stealing the covers at night and then hording them with an iron grip.  Without even opening my eyes, I threw an arm behind me, trying to locate a corner so I could wrestle at least an inch or two away from him.  But there was nothing.  I really mean there was nothing.  No bed. No husband. No nothing.  My eyes flew open and I found myself staring at the ceiling.  Normally, this wouldn't really be the biggest deal in the world, but in this case, the ceiling was an inch from my face.  What in the world?  Why was I not in my bed?  And more importantly, why was I on the ceiling?

I spun myself around and looked down, sure I was going to fall at any second.  I blinked.  There I was in my bed, next to Luke, who was sharing the blankets quite nicely for once.  Maybe this was one of those dreams where you're watching yourself do things from outside of your body.

As if reading my mind, a creaky voice spoke. "You're not dreaming, dear."

ghostly chair
I somehow managed to figure my way into a sitting position, feeling something like a floating genie, and spied a very old woman, creaking away in an equally-floating rocking chair, serenely knitting a blanket.  "Grandma... Rachel?" I asked.  Grandma Rachel had been dead for 20 years.  This was most definitely a dream, no doubt brought on by all the cold medicine I had taken the night before.

"Oh no, dear.  It isn't a dream," she insisted.

"Would you stop doing that? Of course it's a dream.  How could I be up here?  And how could you be here?  You're dead!"

Grandma Rachel laughed, her needles clicking away.  "Well, of course I am, Sarah. How else could I float up here like a ghost?  And so are you."

I stared at her. "Me? I can't be dead.  I can see myself right down there!"

"And your chest isn't moving so much now, is it?"  She pointed a knitting needle at me.  "You really should check the interactions on your drugs, Sarah.  Anyway, it doesn't matter now.  What's done is done.  Read the letter from Grandpa Bill, it explains.. well, some of it."

I looked around me.  "Letter?"

Grandma Rachel looked irritable.  "Yes, the letter that's floating right next--  Oh.  Well, I always forget this part."  She snapped her fingers, and a letter appeared on my lap.  "That one."

I picked it up and opened it carefully.

"Dearest Sarah," I read. "If you are reading this, it means you're dead. Sorry about that.  I hope it was painless.  But now you're a ghost, and can carry on the family legacy.  You'll be expected at the mansion in Lexington at 2am sharp tomorrow night.  Will explain the rest then. Love, Grandpa"

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Different

Be different.

Stand out from the pack. March to your own drummer.

Have the courage to be you.

stand out from the crowdThere is tremendous pressure to be one of them.  Looking the same, thinking the same, saying the same.  Being the same.

But, be you.

Being you shouldn't be hurtful.  Not to you, not to them.  But, being you should be unique and wonderful.  It should be a gift.. to yourself, to those around, to those who don't even know you.

Being you can be lonely.  When everyone else is the same, and you're the only one who isn't, it can feel lonely to be the only one being like you, thinking like you, feeling like you.

Be different, anyway.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Captivating

(Please forgive me if this is incoherent... I have the flu, and if all my typing makes actual words, I figure I'm doing pretty well.)

You are captivating.  Did you know that?

Definition: to attract and hold the attention or interest of, as by beauty or excellence.

Synonyms (and these I love): bewitching, enchanting, enthralling, entrancing, fascinating

beautyToo often, when we look at ourselves, we see only the things that are not captivating.  We see physical imperfections. We see all the ways that we don't measure up to someone else.  We see the mistakes we've made. The thorny paths we've gone down.  We believe in the supposed truth of every negative word and glance that we've ever had to endure.

But I don't see that when I look at you. I see beauty, and I see talent, and I see courage. I see kindness, and I see worth, and I see compassion. I see grace, and I see the enchanting gift of having you in my life.

You're not the ugly duckling that we sometimes feel ourselves to be.  You're the swan, beautiful and regal and accomplished.  You're the beautiful princess or the handsome prince.

You are enchanting.
You are fascinating.

And, yes, you are captivating.  Can you live it?

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