I talk in circles. This is part of me being an ENFP, my communication style, or so I’ve been told. But this must be frustrating for many of my friends and family, and it’s been like this since I was a kid. My stories almost never follow a linear path; I often make digressions and if I come full circle then it’s after a long stretch of intermittent stories, and even I am surprised when I make my way back to my main point. This is also how I teach. Somehow, though, it must not be too bad because I still have friends and I have yet to be fired from my job.
The real hindrance is not when I’m telling a story to a friend or teaching a class; it’s when I’m trying to fit all the pieces of my life into a longer story, even–and especially–if that story is in my head, being told to myself as I turn and mull over some new development, trying to make a connection or see the bigger picture. Or trying to sum up a week or two in a blog post. Sometimes, I wonder: where do I start, what should go in the middle, and how to end???
Because everything in life has a beginning, middle, and end, but putting all the pieces together coherently can be difficult for me. Which is why I often make side notes. I almost always have a notebook with me and when I have a thought–whatever it may be about: a song I liked on the radio, a teaching idea, a moment of self-discovery–I jot it down in my notebook, and consider it a side-note of my life. This has proved helpful in so many ways, but I’m still surprised at how often I look at my side notes and think, “well, why’d I write that down?”
A loopy circle my brain makes.
Because these past few weeks have been so disorderly, or maybe not disorderly so much as disjointed, I’m going to share my side notes of life from the past few weeks and hopefully they’ll make some sense (but probably not).
Starting with getting back into a regular schedule and going back to school. Maddie had her first day at school as a 7th grader. It’s so hard to believe that she’s already in junior high. Well, technically, she’s at the same school and campus she’s attended since she was 3 1/2, but this year the big change is that she doesn’t have to wear a uniform. She was so excited to finally wear “cute clothes” to school. Me? I’m not so happy. I spent quite a bit of money increasing her wardrobe, the dress code is pretty limited (no jeans, no leggings, no tee-shirts, no cargo pants) so finding appropriate outfits has been a struggle, and the worst, the absolute worst is having to deal with Maddie in the morning, waking up at 6:15 to try on at least three-four outfits before she picks one.
- Side note: Luke and I can easily sleep until 9a.m. if given the opportunity. Maddie going back to school means we have to wake up at 7:30, so I can make her lunch and drive her. But what’s worse is that she’s waking both Luke and I up even earlier to ask how her outfits look. It’s driving me crazy and even Luke is getting a little cranky about it. I bet he even wishes for uniforms again.
Along with new clothes, Maddie has been begging–begging–for a pair of TOMS shoes. I promised her I’d get her a pair after summer, when school started, and then I just splurged and bought a pair for the entire family.
- Side note: I’m not gonna lie: TOMS are probably the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn and it’s taking all my will power not to buy a pair in every color.
To celebrate Maddie going back to school, I took her out for a late breakfast, just the two of us, hanging out in our beautiful downtown, people watching.
With Maddie gone, I’ve been walking Luke downtown to a small coffee shop. I have coffee; he has hot chocolate.
I think the best part of this week was a gift from my Aunt Linda: a new mattress! I have never, ever had a new mattress.
- Side note: The mattress I have been sleeping on was my parents’ old mattress, around 8 years old. The mattress before? I’m not even kidding when I say it was the bed my great-grandpa died in. Long story.
Aunt Linda just kindly offered to buy me a new mattress, well, just because. She said the last time she was in town and she slept on my bed, she was incredibly uncomfortable.
- Side note: I think she’s lying. I think she just bought me the mattress to be nice.
This new mattress is incredible. No longer to I roll over to one side because the mattress is indented. No longer is my back in a kink. No longer…well, anything really. I just fall into this luxurious bed and feel like I’m being held by a cloud. I. am.not.even.exaggerating.
- Side note: O.K. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little. I mean, being held by a cloud is a little hyperbolic. Maybe being held by an angel from heaven, floating above all the world’s problems fits better. Still too much?
Luke loves sleeping next to me and I love that he’s not falling right into me because of the uneven bed from before. Even Maddie has been sneaking into bed with Luke and I.
- Side note: Which is so annoying to me since we’re all crowded together; Maybe I should have bought a cal-king.
The three of us have also been doing some hiking. I feel like we took a little hiatus from hiking because we were traveling so much, but two days in a row we went with friends. The first time we went with Megan and three of her sons:
- Side note: He gets that from me, I think. Maddie too. Curious and scared. Always a combination.
The following day we went on the same hike with my friend Allison and her two kids, Seth and Olivia.
This time Luke barely walked any of the hike and spent most of his time on my back. Lucky kid.
- Side note: Unlucky back. He’s getting too big for this.
And we saw another cow, but this time it was a bull, quietly munching on poison oak.
- Side note: Lucky cow. I cringe whenever I see poison oak, my only arch-nemesis.
Both my kids can be such complainers when it comes to getting ready to leave for a hike, but once we’re there, walking together, we all seem to have a good time, and going with friends and their kids makes it even better.
What my kids do love, however, is a good party.
- Side note: SO DO I!
And a good party we had at Melanie’s son, Charlie’s, 4th birthday party.
I’ve said it before, but I love Melanie and her husband Derek’s parenting style. They’re so low-key and fun and this party was a perfect reflection of them. Kids ran around, having fun; adults mingled and drank wine. And everything was casual and easy (OK, easy to me. Mel might tell a different story). I think the testament of a good part is how comfortable your guests feel, and I could’ve stayed all night. But I did have a moment of wanting to strangle Derek when he brought out this great big suitcase of musical instruments for Luke to play with.
- Side note: I don’t even care of this makes me a bad parent, but my ears, my ears!!! Luke can only make so much noise before I feel my body tense up and my resilience eroding.
On my own time, I’ve had some pretty fun nights, starting with the best book club ever. We met to discuss the book, House of Mirth, by Edith Wharton.
I remember reading Age of Innocence when I was in college and loving it, and though I’m usually a quick reader, I lugged through this book, and I could not get into any of the characters.
- That’s a lie. I loved Selden.
I especially hated Lily Bart. Spoiler Alert: When she dies at the end, I was relieved.
- Side note: My book club seemed to think I was a terrible person for saying this, but I don’t even care. She drove me up the wall.
But our discussion was so lively and spirited and we were all talking at once during a few moments and it was just so much fun. Maybe it was the wine, or how we clashed on our feelings about the book, or even our new member Joe, but I felt electric and really alive during the meeting.
- Side note: What probably made this book club even more fun was that after we discussed House of Mirth, we discovered, as people looked through their smart phones, that Edith Wharton wrote smut–SMUT!–late in life. Well, really what she wrote is erotica. Here’s an excerpt: “One by one they gained her bosom, and she felt her two breasts pointing up to them, the nipples hard as coral, but sensitive as lips to his approaching touch. And now his warm palms were holding each breast as if in a cup, clasping it, modeling it, softly kneading it, as he whispered to her, ‘Like the bread of the angels.'”
- Side note to side note: Are you just dying? The “bread of angels”!!! If some man said this to me, I’d burst out laughing and have to leave the room. And this, from the first Pulitzer prize female writer! I mean, look at her portrait:
With the idea of erotica in his mind, my friend Andy is on his way to Burning Man and decided to dye his hair white for the occasion. Actually, he asked me to dye his hair, and since I’ve never bleached anyone’s hair before, I eagerly accepted the challenge.
- Side Note: Like putting a bottle of hair dye is really challenging?!?
Then Andy, Marnie, and I all went out for drinks and had a great time.
- Side note: Marnie has the best cheekbones ever! I’m so jealous of them.
I also saw my friend Reese play at a coffee shop and she did a great version of “Fever,” but only after I harassed her to sing it. But she does it so.damn.well.
- Side note: Yes, she is reading the lyrics off her phone, but I kind of think that makes the song even more endearing.
And then I saw Niko Vega play, and it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in such a long time.
- Side note: I came across this show rather randomly. I had seen it advertised and made a mental note to go, but then I forgot, and then I was on a date…
More on that later….
- And it ended rather early, and I was wandering around downtown by myself, when I remembered the show, and decided to go by myself, and had no problem what-so-ever doing that but ran into Derek (Melanie’s husband!) and he was going to the show alone as well and so we went together and had the best time ever rocking out to Nico Vega.
Whom I have a girl crush on now.
Such stage presence! Such command of the audience! I wish I had taken a video, and actually I did but the lighting was horrible, but check out her video, Gravity (this songs for the ladies. For all the feminists I know):
She’s good, isn’t she?
Finally, onto my date. The thing is, I have been dating, or at least, on dates. And I’ve mostly written about it in the abstract for this blog because it’s rather personal.
- Side note: And really, with modern technology as it is, I don’t want someone I’ve been on a date with to google my name and have my blog come up and our date explained as public knowledge. Though, I’m pretty sure if you google my name, this blog won’t come up, but still.
However, I’m going to break my rule and talk about this one date because I think it forces a pretty important question about dating and who we (I) am attracted to.
So the date: It was a blind date. But I knew a few things about him: he’s a bit older than me, a single dad, a teacher, a surfer, and I had been told, a really cool, chill guy. So we met for drinks, and he was all of the above and more. And he was handsome and smart to boot. What I really liked about him was how honest and unassuming he was and how he spoke with such love for his daughter. And we had a really, really good time. And I even met him for breakfast the next day.
- Side note: That is not a euphemism for us spending the night together. We didn’t. I swear.
But the thing is, we had no chemistry what-so-ever. Which brings me to the point of chemistry and the brain. Basically, the heart vs. the mind. In my past, I’ve had it both ways:
- I’ve dated a man who I had incredible physical chemistry with but I knew in my mind that we weren’t meant to be together, but that physical chemistry kept us together, even when we knew the relationship was falling apart.
- I’ve dated (and, married!!!!) a man that I had NO physical chemistry with because my mind said, “He’s so good. Look at him on paper. You need this man in your life. He will be good for you.” And well, that all just fell apart too. because when the physical chemistry isn’t there, then there really isn’t anything to hold the relationship together. there’s no glue for the paper.
- Side note: Is it surprising that I dated these men after each other? So after the relationship that had incredible physical chemistry, I had the relationship without chemistry. I told myself, after the passionate relationship, that physicality wasn’t important, so I went with my brain. Which wasn’t smart either.
The whole point is that somehow the heart and the mind must meet in the middle. I need to have both. And I knew, especially after our breakfast date, that I couldn’t date this man again because there wasn’t any physical chemistry.
- Side note: This was to the great upset of several of my friends who had high hopes for this date (I did too, actually), and I heard many comments about giving it more time, that the physical isn’t as important as the practical, but I’m sorry, I just beg to differ. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that I won’t compromise for what looks good on paper. The glue–the glue–is so important as well.
And I kind of mourned this realization because something inside of me kind of thought, “Well, you’ll probably be alone forever then. Because how in the world are you going to find someone this good (on paper. Oh, and actually, in person as well) who will accept you for all your quirks and the whole single mom thing and the two different dad things, etc.”
- Side note: Que small, tiny violin. For this moment was a narcissistic pity party for myself.
But then I also thought, “Hot damn. I will find someone. I’m kick ass. And if I don’t, then I’d rather be alone than sacrifice something that I know I need.”
- Side note: Que Rocky theme music. For this was a narcissistic ego-boosting moment for myself.
Either way, it’s a hard balance, and I’m not quite sure how to maintain it, especially since I haven’t found the right balance yet.
- Side note: Which does kind of worry me, I have to admit. It makes me wonder if my standards are too high? But no, that can’t be it, can it?
But I guess I’ll keep trying and hoping and believing that there is someone who will be a fit for me.
- Side note: And please notice that i didn’t say “perfect” fit because I’m not so naive to think that there’s anyone perfect out there.
We’ll see what happens.
So the side notes of my life are what keep me realizing that even if my mind meanders an odd path to knowledge–of the world, of my kids, of my friends, of myself–I still have the ability to pull all this life information together, to form something out of chaos, and to make meaning when sometimes everything seems so meaningless.
The side notes to life, perhaps–for me, at least–keep my head out of the clouds, keep me focused, and I guess, really make me who I am.
- Side note: Which is messy I guess.