While I was making dinner tonight, I realized I was basking in the glow of a very good day. You know the feeling that lingers-  after the moment of accomplishment, a really good compliment or just after you’ve figured out an inspired solution to a difficult problem,(“Im thinking about the time I had to have a discussion with Aunt Joan about her, um, peculiar smell, but she’s still alive so I’ll save that story, and the inspired solution for a few years in the future.) When Katy figured out how to ride her two wheel bicycle,  I experienced major glow that lasted for days. When Colin got accepted to an AAU team, my heart fluttered every time I thought about it, every time I looked at him. When I make a meal both of them will eat, happily, no negotiations required, I glide thru the post dinner dance of dishes and counters and searching for tupperware tops.

In the middle of the nightly gotta make dinner two step- chopping peppers and peering into the oven at a chicken, still a pale yellow, except for  herbs on his back and the bacon wrapped around his legs, washing the spinach, and searching for more garlic, in the middle of a  hectic, rushed, half an hour intended to result in a delicious meal for four, I realized my feet were not touching the ground. That the missing garlic wasn’t making me anxious, or sending me rushing to the market for more. I was happy, and singing along to the radio, and smiling at the cat, who wasn’t smiling back because he isn’t happy with the order of operations. (People eat before pets.)

I had started a class last night, Exercise Facility Management, with an amazing teacher that is in charge of the Quincy Y in Quincy, MA. Unlike a lot of professionals, who take up teaching part-time, she was fascinating, engaging, and able to make a discussion about human resources paperwork interesting. This morning, I signed up to start working with disabled individuals during their workouts in a partnership program with the local YMCA. And I got to spend time with the king of exercise science at Quincy College, Dr. Wayne Westcott. He is enthusiasm personified, and may I just note the man doesn’t drink coffee, doesn’t even know what a munchkin is. During my class time with him, he chose me to help a young lady who had signed up for the wrong glass and had never even been on a piece of cardiorespiratory equipment. It felt terrific to be one introducing this lovely girl to something that just might change her life. And to top it all off, Kathi Schaeffer, my supervisor at the college, made arrangements that will allow me to take on the role of eyes for a blind student during her Nutrtition Lab.

All that good stuff has nothing to do with kids, or dogs, or even music on the radio.  It is about   having an opportunity to surround myself with amazing, smart people, and the joy I feel when they recognize me in their midst.  For the first time in a long time, I have found satisfaction outside my home, away from my family, unaccompanied by a gentle nudge of a cold, wet nose.

I think I’m growing up a little bit. I think I have ventured out of the nest and discovered some parts of the world are pretty wonderful. And the best part of all of this is, tonight, at dinner, if the chicken doesn’t burn, and the spinach isn’t too soggy and we have ketchup for the potatoes, I will be able to talk about all of the wonderful things that happened to me lately. I know Colin and Katy will be happy to listen. Since Colin got a Smart Phone, most of our dinner time conversations have focused on the dangers of the internet, the necessity of me having his passcode, (non-negotiable) and why, even though I’ve taken the test three times, I still fail miserably at his game Are You Prepared for A Zombie Invasion. We could all use a little break, at least until Katy hijacks the conversation with the question I’ve been waiting for… “Mommy, when can I get a smart phone?”

When one of the lovely people I just told you about gives me a job, my dear.

It’s All Been Done

January 21, 2013

It’s Martin Luther King day, February 21, 2013.

In other words, we have survived Christmas, and Christmas vacation, and New Years Eve, and back to school. I started a new semester at Quincy College last week. Work there has been busy, I’ve been lucky enough to have the honor of being part of the team that welcomes first time students.  This involved giving speeches, standing in the hallway asking anyone and everyone that looked even a little confused if they needed help finding where they were going, and making phone calls. I’ve spent my whole professional life making phone calls for various reasons and have never tired of talking to strangers, even when they obviously have no interest in talking to me.

And thru all of these days of rest and then return to “real life”, in the back of my mind I’ve been listening to my own thoughts, and observing our own lives… is there anything here that merits sharing whatever it is I’m thinking and we’re doing?

Here’s the thing… Katy and I are still dancing around in the kitchen. Sophie the Wonder Pup is just as delightful as she ever was. She still has dreams of being a bunny, or at least frolicking with a herd of bunnies in a field.  That still hasn’t happened.

School is school and work is work. It’s cold outside, I love late nights with the pellet stone breathing and the radio on. Colin is insanely good at basketball and from time to time I see glimpses of the man he is becoming.

I love my friends. I am so lonely sometimes I talk to the person that makes me coffee. I miss the nightlife. Nothing makes me happier than curling up on the sofa with a good book and a glass of wine. Nothing makes me happier than curling up in bed with the remote control, a list of shows on the DVR, and a large glass of water.

I am joyful. I am in despair. I am sleepy. I am caffeinated. The rhythm of my days drags, or it races by so quick I am breathless and struggling to catch up.

I love my children, and I wish they’d stop calling for my help.

I really don’t want them to grow up.

It is January and I’m suffering a case of betwixt and between. I suppose I got off easy, it’s not the flu, and it’s not cancer.

This morning I had to borrow ten dollars from my 12 year old son for gas.

So that I could drive him to school because he missed the bus.

When we were leaving and I reached into my purse for the car keys they weren’t there.

They weren’t anywhere.

A friend of mine drove from the other side of town to give my kids a ride to school.

My keys were under a sock on the kitchen table.

I found them in time to go to work.

We had scrambled eggs for dinner, they were runny. I don’t like runny eggs but I was hungry.

But I couldn’t eat them, (probably should have waited the extra 92 seconds it would have taken for them to be reach deliciousness.)

Then I spent about twenty minutes cleaning the counters. Lately the world has seemed large for my taste and not very kind. It’s been gobbling keys, cash, and shoes more  quickly than I’m used to..  Once my surfaces sparkled I felt better. My corner of the world, a little sad sometimes and not too big, is now clean.  I even wiped down the top of the refrigerator.

Yes, I’m having a tough time lately, but this is what I learned in just the course of one bad day.

My son needs to go to bed earlier.

I should not keep socks on the kitchen table.

I have at least one very, very nice friend.

Next time I want breakfast for dinner, I should try pancakes.

And cleaning is not only necessary but quite therapeutic.

The day may not have been my best. I didn’t do anything brave, or smart, or cool.

But learned some stuff, and I paid my son back. Well, I gave him $5.

It’s a start.

I am fifty years and have been actively involved in celebrating Christmas for about forty five years. And tonight, for the very first time in my life, I took down our Christmas tree.

I lifted the ornaments from the branches and wrapped the delicate ones up in a newspaper bought just for this task. I jammed the nonbreakable ones, the stuffed snowmen, the pine cones, the little watercolored masterpieces from nursery schools a few years back, in between the little balles of paper. I swept up pine needles.

I stood on my tip toes and lifted our angel from her perch. I nested her inside some of the “snow” that looks awfully similar to asbestos, and placed her on top. I swept up pine needles.

Next I began to deal with the lights. I was the one that wove them among the branches, it was only fitting I was the one that began to untangle the tangled web I wove… four different strands of lights. At one point, the length was so long and I was pulling so hard to free them in a long single strand, the Christmas tree fell back into the foyer. I finally dragged the entire tree, stand and all, and miles of lights out to the sidewalk. There I had room to work. And so I did. I’m sure the people walking and driving by were thinking of better ways I could have gone about the whole task. But no one made any suggestions. If you are one of those people, next time, I’m open to any and all advice. (There is so much in this world I know absolutely nothing about.)

Next was the storage of the lights. In the past, my husband has wrapped them around empty paper towel rolls he’d saved for this purpose.

I used one paper towel roll, after I unrolled, according to the wrapper, 250 feet of paper towels. I began at one end, slowly reeling in yards and yards of twinkling stars,  using the steady  gestures a fisherman uses when bringing in a good catch. I think. I don’t fish. But I imagine it feels similar.

When I was done with the the first line, I searched for alternatives. The remaining lights are wrapped around one sippie cup, one bottle of almost empty toner, (Bonnie Bell, left over from a brief horrid period of adult acne, thank God I’m finally too old for that,) and one tube of sunblock, still full, but number 15. Nobody uses fifteen anymore, the ozone layer is going to disappear any minute and using fifteen would pretty much guarantee skin cancer the following week.

And then I swept up pine needles. I lifted up the rug,I  think I saw some from last year, and swept them up too. I took down the Christmas cards, and the stockings, I untangled tinsel from shoes,  I put the last scraps of wrapping in the recycling, and ate the last Hershey’s kiss hidden under a log.

This was the first time I put Christmas away, into a box. Wrapped it up, onto a cylander. Buried it under fake snow. They say that we need to keep Christmas in our hearts all year long. It doesn’t feel like Christmas tonight, it feels like the end of an era. An era when I didn’t have to responsible for unplugging and angel and tucking her away for a year.

But change is good. I’m going to go sweep up some more pine needles. I hope it still smells like Christmas for a day or two. Those candles that claim to smell like trees just smell like the home of someone that smokes that thinks they are keeping it a secret.

But that’s another story.

Happy January 6th, my friends.

P.s. And if you haven’t taken your tree down yet, start saving your paper towel rolls.