Sunday, February 24, 2013

Insert Ed's favorite John Lennon Quote Here

Ed was a master of mixed tapes and CDs. The last summer he was alive he included Death Cab for Cutie's What Sarah Said on our Seaside 2011 mix. I listened to the song a few times before I realized what it was about. And, then, after Ed died, I would listen to the lyric Love is watching someone die and be *amazed* that I could feel absolute grief and gratefulness at the same time.

Oh, but, wait, I'm over feeling bad, so that's not what this post is about...

Things are moving forward at the house. Not quite in the way I had planned, OF COURSE. That's why I bring up the song- I had the first line in my head today:

And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to father time...

Just when I was ready to call the contractor to get started on my new plans for my master bedroom suite upstairs, the doctor informed me that the foot surgery I was planning for two years from now- this summer at the earliest, actually should happen, um, yesterday. Somewhere, father time was chuckling at my plans. Silly me. Looks like that project will start a few months later than I had anticipated.

So, while I was gearing up to post some before shots of the upstairs in anticipation of the beautiful after shots (because that's why we watch an entire show on any DIY or HGTV station- for those three minutes at the end of before and after shots, right?!), I barely had time to steal some shots of my backyard before my incredibly amazing nanny/landscape specialist, Sarah, headed over this weekend to tackle some of the outdoor projects we've talked about.

After wrestling with a particularly gnarly grassy stump thing, even calling on the aid of her boyfriend with his pickax, we were discussing what to do with the now spacious pile of dirt next to my backyard deck. We talked about how living with the lack of something-- the blank canvas--is crucial for discovering what to create. That's how I often decorate or re-decorate a room: I have to remove everything but the basics before my imagination can fill in the space. Same thing with my career: at one point, both Ed & I had to say no to our jobs before knowing what jobs we would say yes to. That space in between the "no" and the "yes" is absolutely terrifying, but it's a crucial place for transition. I relish that I know both the place of no and  yes, and particularly, of the value of the in-between. It's what Ed would call the "being comfortable in the uncomfortable."

Anyway, I continue this path of the in-between, where life, I suspect (or hope), is fertilized for more richness. And, I too, can chuckle at the plans. Though, I do find some sweet satisfaction in the "before and after" photos of the backyard:

The last picture is the blank canvas of dirt- I'm thinking this year we'll plant pumpkins.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

OMG I'm 39

Walking into the kitchen to make coffee yesterday, it hit me: I'm 39. But, rather than dwell on what that means (or doesn't mean), I started to think about the last decade. Here's a snapshot:
  • 2003 (Age 29): Graduate with Masters Degree in English, move to West Seattle, begin new career as part-time English instructor, miscarry, get pregnant
  • 2004 (Age 30): Have first child (Jack)
  • 2005 (Age 31): Move to Boston, become freelance textbook editor
  • 2006 (Age 32): Secure full-time, tenure track English Instructor position 
  • 2007 (Age 33): Move back to West Seattle for second full-time, tenure track English Instructor position
  • 2008 (Age 34): Become Writing Center Coordinator, get pregnant (a year earlier than planned)
  • 2009 (Age 35): Have second child (Reese), create new position at work as a mentor to online instructors (which gives me a lighter teaching load), Jack starts kindergarten
  • 2010 (Age 36): Adjust to life with two children (clearly, a lazy year)
  • 2011 (Age 37): Witness death of husband (with children and close friends)
  • 2012 (Age 38): Face grieving process head on, move from teaching into administration as Associate Dean, buy first home and move
  • 2013 (Age 39): C'mon, it's only February 
I was reading over the few posts from the last year, noticing how often I said that I was exhausted or tired or some version of extremely sleepy. Honestly, it sounded a little whiny. But, I read this list and wonder how I didn't take more naps.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rent versus Own (from September 2005)

I found a draft of a post from fall 2005- just a few months after we moved to Boston. Can't tell if it's me or Ed writing, though I assume it's Ed because it's both concise and witty. I can't help but hear Alanis Morrisette's "Ironic" in my head as I read this...

They should have confessionals for married couples in their thirties who don't own a home. I can only imagine:

Real Estate Priest: "So, how old are you?"

Laura & Ed (shifting uncomfortably on the lone kneeling bench): "31." "32."

Real Estate Priest: "And, how long have you been married?"

Laura: "Nearly nine years."

R.E. Priest: "Children?"

Ed: "One. Jack. He's fourteen months."

R.E. Priest: "Sounds good. You both are keeping in tune with the great American dream of getting married and having children. I assume you both have established, well-paying jobs, being that you both have master's degrees, and that you're diligently saving for your very own home."

Ed: "Um, well, that's why we are here. You see, we're still searching for that perfect job and in order to do that, we've accumulated a fair amount of debt...."

Laura: "Basically, it will be a long time before we can buy a home. We don't tell our friends how long it will be, but we needed to tell someone. That's why we came here."

R.E. Priest: "I see. It's good you've told me. My best recommendation is to push yourselves to near-breaking point so that you can buy that home as soon as possible."

Ed: "That's what we're doing."

R.E. Priest. "Good. Keep it up. Go to your current residence, say four 'hail mortgages,' and have a good night sleep."

Yeah, right. Lately I've been trying to figure out why owning a home is so important. Why it is just expected that buying a house is the logical next step in our lives. Why have I bought into the "dream" of a mortgage?

Reboot: 2013

Lent started earlier this week: one day before Valentine's Day, actually. Jack made a point to NOT give up candy because he knew Valentine's Day would be that much harder. I reminded him that we get Sundays off  - a loophole we discovered last year. Since Lent is technically 40 days, those six weeks before Easter include 7 extra (Sun)days. We count those as freebies to indulge in whatever we gave up. He decided to give up his new Xbox instead (which, by the way, he hardly plays with).

I gave up Facebook for Lent. I think it's brilliant- and, I can say that because it wasn't my idea (came from a friend also giving it up). I gave it a trial run a few days before Ash Wednesday; I turned off my chat and hid the notifications page. I then uninstalled the app on my phone. I must admit, there was a strange relief. I lurked for a day or two, but by Friday, hadn't really missed it. It was becoming more distraction than connection with others. I am not disparaging the social media; in fact, it was my lifeblood of connection with the support of so many people those first few months after Ed died. Then, it became an opportunity to find my way into a new normal- fewer of my posts were a reminder of our tragedy and more about plain ol' everyday life.

But, then, plain ol' everyday life just can't stay put. We were robbed Friday and among the stolen were the new Xbox (which was hardly played), my wedding ring (which was broken) and Ed's wedding ring. I'm sad, of course, but I am mostly upset about the loss of my Ipod nanos, one of which had a ton of pictures from Boston and when Reese was a baby that I couldn't figure out how to download after the computer crashed with the old Itunes. All my jewelry is gone, save my necklaces and one pair of earrings I was wearing (part of a necklace/earring set Ed had given me, so that's something). The worst part, of course, is that Jack's security has been rocked- again.

I posted about the robbery on Facebook. I used my "free Sunday" on a Friday. It was an automatic reflex. Immediately, I received a ton of response and remembered the value of my Facebook community. The West Seattle Blog picked up the story which was picked up by the local media. I was interviewed Saturday and on the news that night (thank goodness for anonymity; those garden clogs could have been a story by themselves).

By Saturday night, though, I was done. I am ready to no longer be the standard by which others might compare their own tragedy. Not that folks are doing that, but to read a sampling of my Facebook posts over the last year and a half is just plain pitiful.

So, I'm declaring a reboot of 2013. I'm just plain bored with all the crap:  from sickness to surgery (more later) and sadness to stealing. I'm declaring enough. Don't get me wrong- I'm not expecting it all to come up roses and easy living- I just don't have time to react anymore. And, honestly, the extent of "tragedy" is misrepresented for how much it actually impacts our daily life. Roughly 80-85% of our life is good, secure, and positive (aka those boring Facebook posts).  I've reached my limit for grief. It's actually nice; I woke up this morning well rested. What a lovely surprise to realize that I only have so much capacity to feel bad.