28 December 2019

Post Christmas Blahs

The view from here...
I saw a really appropriate meme on Facebook the other day. It had a stick figure on the left that was smiling and sporting a jaunty Santa cap, and the caption above its head said "1st - 26th December: Festive!" On the right was another stick figure, no Santa cap (jaunty or otherwise), who was holding a block of cheese and looking a bit puzzled. Its caption reads, "27th - 31st December: Confused, full of cheese, unsure of the day of the week."

Friends, I am full of Russian Tea and Honeycrisp Apple Cider instead of cheese, but that second stick figure and I are soulmates. I realized today when I left to take something to hubs at work that he had forgotten that I HAVE NOT LEFT THE HOUSE SINCE TUESDAY. And that would have been even more shocking if I was 100% certain what day today is. I think it's Saturday, judging by the programs on NPR this morning and the fact that THERE IS FOOTBALL ON TELLY TONIGHT THANK GOODNESS. I have grown so accustomed to college football on Saturdays that I don't know what to do with myself when there isn't any to be had.

But back to Christmas. This year it felt like we had summer, and then just the start of fall, and then BAM! Thanksgiving followed by a bit of winter and then it was Christmas Eve. Maybe it's because I'm an old lady now that time seems to speed up like that if I'm not keeping an eye on things, but I was not ready for Christmas at all. 

To those of you nodding your heads knowingly and tutting and clucking, yes, a large part of it is that it is my first Christmas without either of my parents still here. They loved Christmas so much - or at least Daddy did. The amount and creativity of that man's decorating skills were LEG-EN-wait for it- DARY. I don't think there was an inch of any house we lived in growing up or their retirement home in Cleveland that wasn't covered in garland and red bows. This year I managed a tree, and on Christmas Eve-Eve I got two new stockings for me and Simon (since the dogs shredded mine last year and I couldn't find his). The front door and the kitchen door have wreaths. But that's all, really, save the sewing Santa statue I put out every year and our Jesus-Less Nativity scene (we think one of the dogs made off with Our Lord and Savior two years ago).

I find myself longing for Christmas to last, for the temps to go somewhere below the 68F/20C that we are experiencing today. It isn't just that I have some time off work (though that is nice). I have had anxiety surrounding change my entire life. Mom said that when I was a girl I would cry when the credits rolled at the end of a tv program. Even now I can feel my gut clench just a bit when I think about the fact that the end of an entire year - an entire decade is coming up next week. But that isn't what is causing my need for things to slow down, already.

I think I was waiting for it to feel like Christmas. I've had my grief, the mourning has been done, now it should feel back to normal again, right? Wrong. The harder I push myself to make things feel normal again, the worse it is when they aren't. So to any of you that are struggling this season with a holiday that didn't feel quite right - a holiday that seems to have come on fast and left nothing in its wake but weirdness - I see you. You are heard and understood - and loved. I'm saving space for you here, with me in this dirty house on my worn leather sofa, looking at the fake fire in the television and listening to the same instrumental music on repeat since Tuesday night. We will get through this and next year will be a better - if not normal, not yet - winter holiday season.

17 December 2019

Today, on Twitter...

Mom, probably high school age, 1940s

What wouldn't I give
For your voice in my ear
The stern looks as needed
A #sliver of your pound cake
With a cup of coffee
And  advice

What wouldn't I do
For a hug, a smile
Our smile

I still see it in the mirror.

I miss you, Mom. ❤

#vss365 #amwriting #vss365poetry #buspoetry


10 December 2019

The Treasure Hunt of Family Photos

3 May 1976

8 May 1976
I often say that I had 4.5 years of only child bliss, and then Susan happened. But in truth, I had 4.5 years of blindly navigating the world alone and then I got a cohort (even though I didn't think so at the time) that would know me better and longer than any of my friends, and would always be in my life, regardless of how many churches Daddy served/how many times we moved/how many groovy plaid sofas and pumpkin orange shag-carpeted parsonages we lived in as we grew up. Sure, there were times that I convinced her to hide in the laundry hamper with a 5lb lid (we were playing hide and seek and I was it) or I sent her down the stairs in the laundry basket (because it didn't have wheels that got stuck like the big wheel that nearly flipped her over and off), but there were also times that we slept in the back of the station wagon on the way to see family or got tucked into the sofa bed at my Grandmama's house - in the room with the clock that would make you INSTANTLY fall asleep. We jumped off the back porch into the billowing smoke from the leaves Daddy was raking up, pretending that we were Wonder Woman and Wondergirl (I will let you figure out who was who), diving into the poisonous smoke to save the day.

Little did I know what a gift I had in my lap in that second picture.

My mom knew, but that's why she is hanging onto the cushion Susan is sleeping on - to keep me from rolling her off on the floor.

Susan has been finding old pictures as she goes through Mom's stuff (along with recipes for more congealed salads than ANY United Methodist Clergy Spouse should have had in the 70s and 80s), and it has been an amazing trip down memory lane as well as a window into what Hoyt and Martha's lives were like before they became Nancy and Susan's Parents. More to come as Sooz continues to find these gems and post them on Facebook.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for giving me Susan.

Thanks, Susan, for giving me a warning before you post (but posting anyway).

Where did I leave that laundry basket?

07 December 2019

A bit of sparkly, glittery homesickness - Tidy.

Waiting at Charles DeGaulle to fly back to London, May 2012.
This week has been a rough one at work - nothing at all to do with the students I work with, for a change, but more to do with personalities and issues that I thought had long since been put to rest. Ah well - that's the DayJob.

My #writerlife is going fairly well, actually - I'm still working on Rift and actively avoiding the editing that needs to be done on Ignite, so all in all, not too bad.

But today I've been thinking about who I was this time 10 years ago. I had bee living in the UK for eight months, and I was swinging madly between loving my new home and desperately missing people and places I'd left behind. It's funny, you know, how certain things can take you right back to where - and who - you were at a specific time in your life. For me, those things are the BBC series Gavin and Stacey, the Eurovision Song Contest, and the film Love Actually.

I'm going to tackle each as it happened in my life, starting with Love, Actually. I had been watching a lot of British films and telly for years, but after I fell in love with my Yorkshireman I asked him what he would recommend. Love, Actually, he says, of course. I remember sitting in my house in Montgomery, Alabama and watching that movie for the first time with my mouth hanging open. It was just so good! So since then, I have watched it a few thousand times and I love it more each watching. The scenes in the airport tear me up now because I remember being at either Manchester or ATL/GSP in those exact moments. You've been on a long flight, you're exhausted, and when you walk through the last set of doors and you see that face that you've only been able to see on the computer screen and EVERYTHING that was wrong is right - even the Norovirus that kept me from going to the UK for a few days at Christmas in 2007. I got there, I hugged the stuffing out of him, and he asked me to marry him.

We won't discuss my answer, except to say a lot of "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" turned into a yes, and it is still a yes today, 12 years later.

Secondly, there is Gavin and Stacey. It's a silly little Britcom that deals with Gavin, a lad from Essex, marrying Stacey who is from Barry in Wales. I've been rewatching the series on Hulu lately and now everything is in a Welsh accent in my head. Lush. Anyway, the two of them meet and decide to get married, and then have to deal with the distance between families and "home" as well as some cultural differences. It's the story of the start of my own marriage, but with the genius of Ruth Jones and James Corbin narrating. There are so many moments that take me back to living in Keighley.

Finally, the Eurovision Song Contest is not just a memory of living in the UK, but it reminds me of how young and sweet we were. I moved three greyhounds to the UK in April of 2009, and by the end of May, I had one, just Daisy. I can't imagine how awful I was to Simon. He did everything he could do to cheer me up and finally, he suggested that I should try watching Eurovision. The best suggestion he's made since getting down on one knee in the Arrivals hall at Manchester Airport. All that sparkle and pomp and circumstance will do a world of good for anyone.

So, just in cases, I'm going to watch Gavin and Stacey and then listen to my Eurovision playlist. Tidy.

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