Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Basement

I hate my basement, and everything about my basement. First of all, it's a basement. I don't like them. Never have, never will. They are so basementy. They are below. They tend to be dark, dank, spooky, even.

Secondly, my husband had the great idea of painting the concrete floor, red. I am not fond of red, as a rule, and the paint is chipped, dirty, uneven, and very, very red. You just can't forget for a minute that you are in a room with a red floor, and that alone is enough to make me scarcely venture in.

Ours is too hot in the summer, and too cold in the winter. At Christmastime I use ours to store, organize and wrap gifts. I have to use a space heater and wear a coat. In the summer it's sweltering. Fans are required, then they blow stuff around and that just makes me mad.

On top of the red floor, we have two hideous orange metal shelf thingies. They belonged to my dad. I didn't like them then, and my feelings haven't changed. Not sure what I was thinking when I arranged to haul them up from Eugene 21 years ago - probably in the midst of postpartum and who-knows-what-else. may have thought they were practical. Always fall for that one. Surely, I could forget they were orange. I could forget they used to hold all kinds of things I didn't want to be reminded of that they once held: dozens of used coffee cups, someone else's weird dental work, every cover/binder to every paper his students had ever turned in. I could forget he was a hoarder and those orange shelving units proved it.

But I haven't forgotten.

I think I have that hoarding tendency, but the neat freak in me wins out in the end. I hang onto things for sentimental reasons, and as though there will be a test someday, and I need to prove I was "there."

I haven't taught a day (strictly speaking) in 18 years. I gave away a ton of my teaching materials long ago, but held onto my faves. As all teachers know, you put a billion extra hours into creating meaningful lessons and activities for your kids, and to just dump them, ain't right. None-the-less, a lot has changed in education in the last 18 years, and my stuff - even the faves - are out-of-date. I pawned off what I could to a friend that still teaches, and the rest I've been going through. Can't just grab it all and throw it in the recycling bin, too many paper clips, overhead projector sheets, brads and clasps, things of the past.

My faves have amounted to two giant recycling bins worth of paper. One went out last week, one will go out this. I gave away three totes full of books at the neighborhood garage sales, and what wasn't taken, went into the various Free Little Libraries in my neighborhood. Those were just my young adult books that I could part with. Don't worry, I have more.

I've been stabbing at the orange shelving unit which held the teaching materials, all summer long. I'm done. The one next to it which houses way too many poorly organized photo albums, is mid-way through being dealt with.

In the basement is a ping-pong table wannabe. It's no good for playing ping-pong, but it's excellent for storing crap under, and sorting things on top of. We had a toilet flood in February, and in June we smelled something funny in the pantry... mold. The ping-pong table has held all the pantry items while the pantry got sledge hammered and re-built, after treating the mold.

As I put away the last of the pantry items and switched the table over to teaching material sorting, today, I thought how like our lives is that table. We all need a place to sort things out, spread them around, put them into piles and see what's what. The table can only really work best, when one mess is on it at a time. No room for both the pantry items and the teaching materials. No room for both the photo albums and the books.

For some of us, that "place" is meditation. For some, yoga. For some, time with a soulmate. For some, a combination or none of the above. Maybe it's solitude, or a long drive. We all have a "basement" and we all need to sort it out from time-to-time.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Complimentary Colors




I took art in high school and college. I am no artist, but I appreciate it, and have a strong need to be surrounded by it. I admire the artistic and creative mind - I have neither. It's no coincidence that I write memoir, and not fiction. Fantasy? Forget about it.

One thing that has stuck with me from an early art lesson, is the way colors work with one another. Freshman year in high school we had to create a color wheel, and we learned all about primary, secondary, tertiary and complementary colors. The traditional red and green of Christmas are complimentary. The preppie pink and green are complimentary. My favorite combination these days, is blue and orange. On my denim-covered furniture, rest orange accent pillows. I have orange shoes, belt, and could use a jacket.

I've been thinking a lot about long-term marriage. I look around at the couples I know that have been married 20, 25, even 30 or more years, and wonder sometimes, If I knew each of these people, separately, would I ever have put them together? Opposites seem to attract in many cases.

I do know couples that seem to be cut from the same cloth, totally simpatico, sharing the same interests, priorities, styles and ways of being. They seem to be the exception to the rule. And, let's just be honest, tend to be second marriages.

I think what's important to remember when butting up against your opposite, is that while their approach/method/response is not like yours, it can serve as a compliment.

When we re-paint our kitchen, I am thinking of going with white. White walls, trim, cupboards, countertop. Monochromatic. It will make a nice backdrop to our lives and personalities, that are rich with colors that compliment.


Friday, July 14, 2017

21-er


Twenty-one years ago today, I started the day looking like that, and ended the day looking like this:



What would I say to my younger self?

I recently watched a "Super Soul Sunday" in which Oprah took clips from several interviews, and you heard guest after guest answer that very question. Elizabeth Gilbert said, "There's nothing I would have said to my younger self, because she wouldn't have listened."

Would I have listened?

If I'd have told her to buckle up, it's going to get bumpy. Pace yourself. Let the small things go. Just about everything is a small thing, would she have listened?

If I'd have told her her whole life is about to profoundly change, and there will be no going back. There will only be Then and After Then, would she have listened?

If I'd have told her she's stronger than she thinks, can endure more, has more patience and sheer tenacity than she ever thought possible, would she have listened?

If I'd told her she can love more powerfully, wholly, profoundly than ever before, would she have listened?

If I'd told her she is not alone, that while her situation would be isolating, never was she alone, would she have listened?

If I'd told her that the one that cried and cried and cried some more, to the point she thought he'd never stop, would make her belly laugh every day for years and years, would she have listened?

Is there really any point in this exercise?

We can't go back, we can't tell our old selves anything. What we can do, is try now to listen to our future selves. What is she trying to tell me from her vantage point? What do I know in my heart of heart, believe in my soul, feel in my bones?

We can listen to that.

We must.



Saturday, July 8, 2017

Quotient

Not a single rubber tip remains on any of the door stops. Surreptitiously, one-at-a-time, they have all been removed and discarded.

I don't know why.

I occasionally find one, shoved under a bed, or tucked at the back of a drawer. I replace it. I wait. I watch. And again, it disappears.

There will be no peace until each of the door stops are without tips.

I hear a lot about Tropicana fruit punch and orange cream-flavored foods these days. Many hours are spent in the pursuit of them: time on the Internet, MapQuest consulted to find the stores that carry the items-of-the-month. Driving time, shopping, more discussion, then eventually, me finding good homes for the items we went in full search of, but were never intended to actually be consumed.

I've been thinking a lot about the subject of intelligence. We live in a culture that throws around words like "stupid," "dumb," "idiot," "foolish," with much smugness and little awareness.

The message is strong, it is loud, it is constant, and it is offensive to me. High intelligence is good, low intelligence is bad.

There is nothing "smart" about making others feel "dumb."

There is nothing "intelligent" about letting everyone know just how "intelligent" you are.

I'm grateful to those that consider intelligence in a multitude of ways: emotionally, socially, spiritually, relationally.

I'm grateful to those that comprehend the Beatitudes.

I'm grateful that rubber tips and fruit punch have taught me more than anything.