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chicken soup for the empty-nest soul

13 Mar

Once upon a time there was a young and beautiful debutante-etudiante who led a charmed life with a future filled with such promise.  She skated right through law school and married.  Through sheer magic she bore three charming, bright, inquisitive, active, precocious, intelligent, gorgeous, conscientious, kind, active, chatty, talented, brilliant, funny, thoughtful, clever, active, busy children.  Two princes and a beautiful dancing princess whose feet and mouth were just never still.

Her days were filled with seeking justice for the citizens of her kingdom, the Great State of Texas.  The remaining and even intervening hours found her scheduling appointments, driving, planning, observing practices, paying bills, finding lost items, reimbursing the children money they had lent her so she could take them out to pizza places with arcades, supervising baths and teeth-brushing, refereeing bedtimes, preparing meals, trying to instill some values, remembering appointments, running late, and collapsing from fatigue at the end of nearly every day.

One day, the Queen of the palace found herself alone in a quiet castle.  Only the non-verbal subjects remained in attendance.  Multiple dogs, several cats, and a particularly resilient goldfish.   

After nearly ten years of placing everybody else’s needs, wants, desires, and plans in front of her own, the Queen took to her bed.  She read over an entire year’s journals and writings and questions and thoughts and observations and notes about hard times and big questions and nostalgia and so many entries that began “Today was a really good day” because sometimes you just need to be reminded.  She read over notes she had taken on all her readings and realized how her thinking had evolved.  She drank multiple cups of coffee, forgot to eat, overslept, skipped the one plan she had made for herself all weekend, and then, finally, she dragged herself from her cozy nest and walked some dogs for a long, long time.

Her thoughts vacillated between thinking that ten days alone was not going to be nearly long enough and that she would never make it without them.  Somehow, in spite of wide swaths of inconsistent thinking, she still managed to live happily ever after.

the end.

post-holiday report

30 Dec

I have so much to say, and good sense would dictate that I not publish it all.  I think that I will try to be vague, even though I hate not being able to say what I want to. 

I have a friend who was seemingly healthy one month ago and now she is in the painful grips of pancreatic cancer.  This is bad.

Another close friend is also sick and in the hospital.  He can’t afford an infection as he does not have a strong immune system.  I am very worried about him.  He deserves his own page in my blog under the category of gentlemen I have known.  He is absolutely exquisite and accomplished and he means the world to me.  He has given me some of the best dating advice I have received so far, specifically: “don’t.”  I will draw him out about that when he is released from the hospital.  Or maybe he’d like an inquisitive, soul-searching visitor, asking all the hard questions to distract him from his illness?

The children are home!!   (I am sorry, but this does call for 2 exclamation points)

I have the nicest children ever.  No disrespect is intended for any of you who also have children – I am sure that I love yours, too, and sometimes, late at night when they are finally asleep as mine are, you think they are the best kids ever.  That’s all this is.  Appreciation from across the house while they sleep and don’t talk back.  Wade received roller blades from Santa Claus and has been wearing them non-stop around the house.  Janet Jackson played Tootie on the 80’s TV show, The Facts of Life (which we only watched when my parents were away).  Tootie was always on roller skates, and Wade reminds me of her.  This evening, we walked Hattori, Jack and Curry.  Wade was on skates and Henry and I were just in regular shoes.  In just a week away from me, though, Henry has grown up.  He is so vocal and bossy and busy and no-nonsense.  He fussed at Wade and me the whole way.  But the dogs like him.

Then I took them all out to supper and made them share entrees, as I often do.  Nobody complained.  I love them when they don’t complain.  Then we toured the Christmas lights one last time before they take them down, while listening to 1990’s country music – my personal comfort food.  I built them a playhouse-garage (from Pottery Barn, but it had to be assembled) so that Wade can have his own space, but I don’t think Henry will allow it.  He said “Yade, you’re my best friend, aren’t you?” and Wade said “of course I am, Hen.”

Anna has been dancing every step of every part in the Nutcracker.  Even the big girl dances, like Kissy doll.  I never knew how much that wild thing was absorbing – I always assumed she was too distracted, but she has really got this ballet thing down.  I don’t know whether I will be able to avoid Nutcracker 2011.  As much as I want to.

We are about to enter January, the month preceding Annie Get your Gun!  It is going to be wild, but the Civic Theatre is just down the street and not in the hinterlands of North San Angelo, so I think we will be all right. 

Anna brought up her one line, and said, “mom, I am afraid this is setting a bad example, but my only line is ‘yeah.’”  I told her that theatre is art, and we make allowances for art.  As long as she knows to say “yes ma’am” in real life, she can say “yeah!” from the stage and I won’t hold it against her.

I’ve had some disappointments that I won’t discuss here no matter how much you beg me to.  You’ll just have to call me if you want the personal stuff.  I hate being disappointed.  Especially about something important to me.  But I have been so low before that the only thing holding me together was gratitude for how much I really do have – materially and in my friends.  And while it feels pitiful and painful, it’s not a terrible state.  It can give birth to a unique way of approaching the world and a determination not to let the small things pass you by unnoticed.  I now try to notice everything and see whether there is anything good about it.  Or at least whether it means anything.  Or maybe it’s funny?  The absurd can be redeeming, too.  It is such a rich life.

Why I write and why I run

7 Nov

Oh look, Mary Carol!  All my concern about being too tranquil and blissed-out was for nothing.  Luckily for my interesting-ness, the absence of angst was but a temporary condition!  Now I shall have to see if I can find a way to channel it for the good.

So far the answer is a resounding YES.  I have been on at least two walks every day this week.  Several of those walks have been along the beautiful Gun Club road aka the KOA.  It’s a 2 mile loop that overlooks Lake Nasworthy and is a challenge with its constant hills and ridges.  It’s also very gratifying to walk the road and run up the hills.  It hurts your legs and your lungs and when you’re finished, you just feel so relieved and worn out.  And your legs will surely start to show the contours of seldom-used muscles from the uphill sprints.  I can’t think of a single negative about having pretty legs.

The other walk is the ordinary, daily cemetery walk with the dogs.  They enjoy it so much.  I look like a New York City dogwalker on the way over with such a motley assortment of unruly hounds, but it is the highlight of their day, and I am driven to fit it in.  I am tormented by guilt if they don’t get in a good romp.

So the walking and running are helping with the overactive nerves.  Writing about all the chaos and craziness of my life helps with the angst.  It makes me laugh at myself, and if it makes you laugh at all, then I feel in some small way valuable to the world.