Velocity

When I fell pregnant with 3of3, my last middle child was half-way through pre-K. I was researching schools I'd like to attend, thinking about what I was going to do with the last little bit of my *gulp* twenties, laying plans for the rest of my life. 

I remember walking him up to his first day of kindergarten, eight months pregnant with a future Teller alum, and thinking it was a good thing I loved that school so much, because I was going to be spending the next motherfucking decade of my life there. 

The day that wiggly belly would be almost six, wearing a backpack, reading and writing and being gone for hours a day every day seemed unfathomably far into the future. Except it wasn't at all. Except is was just like *that* and I can't believe it happened so fast. 

Oi vey!

I can't believe that I forgot the air-speed velocity of an unladen child, how fast it goes, they go. This thing, this life I was biding my time, waiting to start living, happened all around me when i wasn't looking and now here I am in that same spot I was forever ago, with my last one off in pursuit of her own self, but this time, I know exactly what I want when I grow up.

Mostly it's to be bold and fearless, just like them.

There's more on this at Cucumbersome today. Oh, I should probably mention I have this other blog, and it's called Cucumbersome, and it's part of the Babble Voices group. I hope it doesn't suck. 

Of Life and Lists

So, I made one of those damn life list thingies.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the BlogHer conference this year (and luckier enough to be able to contribute to it in a small way) and though the conference was magnificent (really, best one yet, girls) and seeing my old friends again, and making new ones, was exactly what I needed right now, the very best part of the conference, for me, was the Pathfinder tracks on Thursday.

They cost a bit extra, and hogged up an additional day, but for that we got two amazing keynote speakers and four hours dedicated to our two panelists. Mine were the unsinkable Chookooloonks and Gwen Bell.

I walked out of my Pathfinder with insight, with inspiration, with questions that need answering and with a fucking life list. And I liked it.

It wasn’t so much that they sat us down and said, “You’re going to make life lists today!” as it was that they handed us journals and said, “You’re going to write something that might change your life today. We’re going to help you get started.”

Over the course of two hours, our three writing (actual writing) (with, like, pens and shit) (in mini-Moleskines) (really) prompts were a) to write a letter to our younger self 2) to write a list of the things we love and lastly, to write a life list.

Here’s the thing with the life lists that I knew already:

Writing a life list is not writing a list of stuff you want to do before you die. Writing a life list is saying aloud things you need to do so that you will have lived.

Here’s the thing about writing a life list that I didn’t at all realize:

It’s not really writing a list, at all. It’s playing free-word-association with the words “I” and “want”. I and want are really difficult words for, I’d argue, a whole lotta us. For me, personally, it’s always “you” and “need” and so, though my first 10-15 life list items were easy (See: Pshaw, I want X, X and X!), after that I hit a wall (See: Wait, what the fuck do I want with my life?).

Where am I going with the time I have left? What matters to me, really? What will complete me as a person? Where-in do my values lie? How many different ways can I incorporate coconut into this list? Can I even answer those questions?

Maybe I can’t. I didn’t get anywhere near 100, yet. It’s been over two weeks and I’m holding steady at 35, but that’s one for every year of life I’ve completed thus far, so I’m feeling pretty good with that number. And it will grow, as I do, I am certain.

And now I’m going to publish it, and give it a permanent page on this blog, partly because these things, this living, simply cannot be done alone, and maybe one of you will find something on my list that you can help me do, and maybe you’ll see something you want to do with me, and maybe we’ll all start living, together. Mostly, though, I feel it’s easy for me to hide myself in the shadow of book bindings, where I never have to look at them and let myself feel want. I’m kind of getting tired of hiding me from myself. So here is the beginning of me, 35 times over, sans snark.

Almost.

(It's after the jump, yo.)

Am

Some 35,000 feet above Calipatria, I sat watching two children fold down their trays and deal each other a hand of some card game. I imagine it was War or Gin Rummy, because that's what my brother and I played for hours that felt like days, locked inside his bedroom on sunny afternoons. We didn't have much, but we always had a deck of cards - and each other.

This is where a normal blogger would insert a picture of happy childhood whimsy, but I don't have any of those. Oddly enough, I seem to have the happy and the whimsy.

It wasn't until we hit a patch of turbulence that the memory of learning how to fight (and sometimes win, when he let me) with a deck of cards was jolted back to the memories of that bedroom, that house, those parents, that life. It was long time, longer than ever before, that I was able to be perfectly happy inside the memory of my past. 

Time. Time and perspective. What wonderful healers are thy. 

I remember, when I was a little girl in our little home with little of anything, laying in bed every night saying my prayers. We didn't pray like people usually pray; we believed that a prayer was a conversaiton and that you really ought not squander the chance. We talked, to God or someone or no one, and today I know that I was really just meditating my way through a really hard life, but then all I knew was gratitude for having someone to hand everything over to every night, someone to share my story with. 

I prayed, not for what we didn't have, but for all that we did. I was so thankful for a roof, for walls, for heat coming out of the vents and what very little food was in the cupboards, on the days there was any. It's funny how, when you have nothing, everylittlething seems so wondrous, such a gift. 

And it was. It still is. 

All of this, even the hard parts, are full of wonder. And I, for one, living all of them happy.

I had to remember that happiness isn't something I am ever going to have, it's something I have to do as often as I can. I'm trying to do more of it. Happy feels good

I'm Speaking at BlogHer '11!Tomorrow, I'll be speaking at BlogHer11 with Gretchen Rubin, with Brené Brown, and with Shauna James Ahern about acceptance - of our whole selves. 

Of being happy because of, not in spite of, who we are. 

I am card games on cold, wood floors under windows without curtains, in the quiet space between what had happened and what was coming next. I am Eddie's little sister, and I am still learning.

 

Girls don't like boys; girls like cars and fractions.

My friends had some stuff they had to take care of over the first half of this week, and since I haven't have a good sadomasochistic torture session in a while love them, I agreed to take their girls for three nights so they could focus on whatever it is they're doing.  

This morning, they woke up (which is on its own way more than I am used to) (My 13 year old son woke up at 12:17:46 pm today) (I know because I heard his eyeroll all the way in my office) (which is the kitchen table during summer vacation) (dear god, let school start) they woke up and were like, "Auntie Mr Lady! What are we! Going! to do! Today!" because what no one told me is that young girls of school age insert! exclamations! everywhere! 

So I started to make breakfast and the three girls (because mirth is contagious, and I skipped that vaccine in my daughter) were like Katy! Perry! Face! Book! Justin! Bieb....and I was like this has gone far enough! Get dressed so we can eat lunch and...um...buy webkinz? 

ssssssqqqqqQQQQQQQUUUUUUUEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

When I recovered hearing in both ears, I realized that I'd blown the best bargaining chip in my pocket on the first morning of the first day and resigned myself to just being fucked for the rest of the week, so I took them all to lunch. 

That was fun. 

No, really, it was. Only one kid spilled a drink and only one kid didn't like their food and those were the same kid. Only two of them are riddled with teenaged hormones rendering them nigh incapable of human interaction 98% of the time, and absolutely beyond fucking hilarious the other 2%. The other two are blond, in every sense of the word. 

So we come back home and the boys get on the XBox to play Left 4 Dead, which they convinced me involved killing Nazis (because I, being all for the swift and painful removal of all Nazis -fictitious or no -would not deny their little German hearts any change to right the wrongs of their ancestors, and they know that) but does not, in fact, involve killing Nazis but does involve the rather disturbingly violent disembowelment of every living thing you've ever seen, ever, in four-part harmony.

Meanwhile, the girls go upstairs to get their Webkinz set up online and I get to work. And I hear the moans of the dying out of my left ear and out of my right ear, I hear my daughter say, "Girl A! Girl A2! I'm counting to 100!" and I hear Girl A and Girl A2 reply, "I know! Isn't counting so much fun?"

And I really don't know which one was worse.