Stealing Back Moments

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I am a writer.  I am also a perfectionist, which lately has meant that I am a lousy writer. Writers write; I don’t.  I haven’t written for a while, at least.  I often think about writing.  I get ideas all of the time–while driving my car, talking to my curious (almost) four year old son, or playing with my infant daughter.  Especially now that I’m on summer break and finished with grad school, the ideas are flowing.  In my head, I craft beginnings to blogs and personal narratives while in the shower or folding laundry.  The trouble is, it’s hard to find the time to put pen to paper.  I never feel that I can give it the time needed to make my writing just right–to analyze and revise and revise again.  Because of that, nothing gets written.  Not…one…word.  My blog readers, I’m sorry to say, because of these excuses, you’ve missed some darn good writing!

Excessive hIMG_2334ubris aside, it’s time to get back to the pen and the keyboard and to try this blog thing again.  I am going to let my perfectionism fall by the wayside and just get my voice out there–even if it’s darn awful.

So…it’s time to steal some moments back for my writing self.  While my baby is busy exploring under the table, my son is having some tech time on the couch, and the spaghetti sauce is a-bubblin’ on the stove, I’ll make a new entry into my trusted, patient writer’s notebook. Let’s see what comes of it!

A Salty Bit of Heaven

(This blog post is not profound. It will not make you cry or even make you feel warm and fuzzy. It’s just a human truth—a confession I had to get off my chest. Maybe you can relate….)

I’m pregnant—coming into the third trimester. In neither pregnancy have I gotten the crazy food cravings to which many women attest. I’m not scarfing down M&M’s and Cheetos, sending my hubby out for midnight McDonald’s fries, or—the most intriguing pregnancy craving—desiring to eat dirt. Sure, I’ve had a bit more ice cream, but it is summer, and I am taking advantage of the best excuse a girl can have.

Ice cream, yes, it’s good, but it’s pickles that are causing a bit of guilt and a lot of satisfaction during this pregnancy. Classic, dill pickles… I salivate just thinking about them. Pickles have always been my favorite food, but I usually can go a long time without buying them. Of course, if we go out to lunch, I will spend the entire meal eyeing your pickle, trying to remember if you like them, wondering if you’ll eat the spear or if you’ll decide to offer it to me. That’s normal, right?

But now, I’ve made pickles an almost daily treat. I usually consume them standing over the kitchen sink—one briny, crunchy bite at a time. At meals, I may be more civilized and eat them off my plate.

Now, don’t worry about my unborn child. I did check with my doctor, and he felt that we were okay. My baby girl will come out of the womb with the usual wrinkles, but she should not come out pickled.   I do not down a whole jar at a time or follow my pickles with a swig of the savory juice—though I am tempted. Just a few pickles, then the lid goes painfully back on until the next day. After that, it is back to a well-balanced diet of fruits, non-enhanced veggies, grains, proteins, dairy; you know the drill.

But the next day, sometime mid-afternoon, you may hear the refrigerator open, the gentle turning of a lid, the cling of my fork on the glass. Heaven will arrive again—if only for just a few salty moments.

Pickles on Plate

 

The Joy of Rereading

E Reading

“I’m reading!” my toddler insists.  E will not even look up to listen to my question or comment about the book he’s reading. When he’s into a book, he’s fully engaged.  Though I feel a little sad by this early independence, I also am very happy.

I have been reading to E since he was in the womb.  At 2 1/2, he makes his teacher-mama proud.  He loves books and often wants us to read to him.  He always asks for one more book and then another “one more book” before naps and bedtime.  When things get too quiet in the house and we can’t see E, we often find him in front of the bookshelf or in a corner of the room, surrounded by books, reading them to himself one by one.

E’s bookshelves have gotten a bit overcrowded lately.  I recently tried to hide away some seasonal and simpler books until E’s sister arrives in the fall and we get a new set of shelves for her room.  Tonight, after not seeing them for two weeks, E was asking specifically for some of these hidden books.  Even with newer books and library checkouts at his fingertips, E does not tire of reading the old books.  He simply loves to reread.

This makes me think about the rereading my students do and that I do as an adult. Many students seem to have their “go to” books–trusted books they know will satisfy again and again.  Sure, I want them to stretch their wings and find new titles, new genres.  I can’t deny them, however, that pure joy of a story well told.

I know that satisfaction too.  Like listening to a good song again and again, when I reread I rediscover old friends, uncover new beauty, and gain new understandings and appreciation.  Most times, I do choose to read new books.  So many books, so little time, right?   But what if I do take that break from the new and go back to the old?  What might I gain?  Looking at the joy on my son’s face as he pours over each page of that worn, drool-encrusted book I tried to hide, I think I might gain quite a bit!

My unfinished list of books to reread:

  • Walden, by Henry David Thoreau–Fell in love with it at 16, though I couldn’t fully understand it.  Reread it at 25.  What a different perspective as I reread!  How would it appeal to me at 40?
  • Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott–A childhood favorite–I may make myself wait a bit longer and read this with my children.
  • Any Harry Potter book, by J.K. Rowling–I know what will happen, but I never tire of the characters and the pure imagination behind the series.
  • The Bean Trees, by Barbara Kingsolver–This was the first of her novels that I read, and I felt like I had found my author-soul sister.
  • The Shipping News, by E. Annie Proulx–She’s my other favorite author, and this is the first of hers that I read.  I still can picture and feel the stark, chilly setting.
  • Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini–Such a tragic and beautiful story!

What books would be on your list?

Going to the Blue

Toes in the Water

Is one of the reasons we have children just to remind ourselves of those simple joys of life?  On Friday, we ventured out to Big Creek State Park with Grandma.  Though my two-year old son (“E”) has visited some smaller pools with mixed reviews, this was our first journey onto a beach and into lake water, and I wasn’t sure how it would go.  To my delight, he loved it.

Each part of the experience was new.  We took a slow, tentative walk across a deep beach, feeling every footstep as our toes squished into the sand.  E is still a bit sand-shy.  He wasn’t sure about these “little rocks” and getting dirty, but curiousity and the water ahead pulled him forward.

As we got closer to the water and dumped our supplies, E was quick to head forward, investigating some miniature canals dug by some fellow, older boys and borrowing their toy fishing net to swing around.  Within minutes, E’s toes were in the water, hand held tightly to mine.  He was so observant–quickly discovering the “fishies” (tiny minnows?) that Grandma and I failed to see.  He tested the water first with his toes and legs, feeling the water lap against him.  Then his hands and arms joined in swishing and splashing.  Occasionally he’d go back to shore to walk through the sand and canals and to play with his bucket and shovel, but it was the water that kept drawing him back.  Finally, E completed his exploration by dipping his hair and face into the water, pulling up quickly with a gasp and a giggle.  As we neared the end of our visit to the lake, E kept pulling me deeper and pointing out to the middle of the lake, saying, “I want to go to the blue.”  I think he wanted to go where the blue sky reflected in the lake water.  If possible, he probably would have kept walking further and further, always reaching out for that blue.

Grandma and I enjoyed observing our little guy.  I think we were both filled with memories of summers spent on Lake Delavan in Wisconsin–sun soaked, water logged, and totally content.  Though we no longer have that cottage to visit, it’s heart-warming to pass on that love of the lake.

What are your water memories?

Stolen Moments

The other night, I finished a wonderful Barbara Kingsolver novel, Flight Behavior, after about a year of reading it off and on.  On social media, I referred to my gratitude for all of those solon moments that I had with that book throughout the year.  This got me thinking about the phrase, “stolen moments.”  Usually things stolen have a negative connotation–stolen wallet, stolen identity, stole a loaf of bread and spent 17 years as a French prisoner (couldn’t resist a random Les Miserables reference).

Stolen moments, however, has a positive connotation.  They are those moments we squeeze out of the must-do’s and have-to’s of our ordinary, busy lives that help center us and feed our soul, even for a bit.  They are the times in your day or week that you refuse to let yourself feel guilty about because you know you really need them.  As a working mom and grad student, I have probably made room for these moments less than I should.  Who hasn’t at some time in their life?  As a teacher currently on summer break, I am afforded many more of these.  Even though grad classes and the summer “to do” list both linger as constant reminders of the real world, I see summer as a time when I can regain that balance in my life.

So why blog?  I love to write. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for pleasure is definitely on my stolen moments list.  I want to try to make a little more time for it.  I want to cherish these moments as they come.  Maybe smell a flower or two along the way. Perhaps this blog can be my own way of documenting these special times (and perhaps recording other thoughts and observations along the way).  Who knows if the blog will last?  Who knows if I will have more than one reader? (Hi Mom.)  Stolen moments can’t be so well planned.  All I’ve learned is to just enjoy then when they come.

Some of my stolen moments (in no particular order):

  • Reading even a page or two out of a good book or a collection of poetry
  • Jotting a profound or trivial thought (often they are hard to tell apart) in my writer’s notebook
  • Reading an extra book at bedtime with my son and actually staying awake for it myself
  • Holding my husband’s hand
  • Reading aloud an extra chapter with my students instead of moving on to the next lesson
  • Cuddling with my dog
  • Truly listening to a song like I’m blasting it through headphones back in my dorm room in 1994
  • Dancing to a full song with my son (though this takes extra endurance lately)
  • Pausing to really feel the flutters and movements going on in my pregnant belly
  • Sitting outside and soaking it in (the sun, the air, the sounds, my son’s pure joy)
  • Ice cream–truly savored
  • Really looking at an old family photo–remembering
  • Playing the piano (though this moment is often stolen back–or made new–by my son, who tries to join the fun)
  • Singing my heart out to a favorite song

What’s on your list??