Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The gap between washer and dryer

This area is one of the many black holes in my house. It contains a knee-high stocking, a black sock, a rolled-up pair of sport socks, a dime, a plastic fixture I can't identify, 2 used dryer sheets, a gold candy wrapper, a sample-size spray bottle of fabric freshener (left by previous tenant), lots of lint. Really hard to get into that narrow space to clean it. So every time I do the wash I avert my gaze and pretend the black hole doesn't exist. Something else may drop down, but I don't care... will deal with it later. A part of me truly believes that once the black hole is clutter free and spotless, my life will be too.

A worse dark hole is the space between Cliffie's bed and the wall. Scary. I once found an uneaten ham sandwich I'd packed in his lunch a few months earlier there.

Update: Since I wrote this over a year ago, my dryer died and was replaced. Ideal opportunity to sweep away all of the above mentioned — including the previous tenant's fabric freshener. A year later, my life's far from clutter free and spotless — there are more than a few untold messes in other areas of the house — and my life. But in the midst of it all, an unbelievable amount of clarity and sense of purpose has emerged. The other day I discovered a collection of empty water bottles between Cliffie's bed and wall. Better than an old ham sandwich. Things are improving...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Elvis, Wow!

Have  been dying to tell somebody about the awesome concert I saw last night. Then I remembered, "oh yeah, I have a blog!" Cool. I've been an Elvis Costello fan since high school. Last night, in front of a sold out crowd crowd at the Cal Poly SLO Performing Arts Center, he didn't disappoint! A delight to hear his creative spin on some of his older 80s hits like "Allison" and "Veronica." Old songs from the 20s, bluegrass, and ballads were also sprinkled in, demonstrating to us all just how versatile and musical Elvis really is! I loved his electric guitar/special effects take on "Watching the Detectives," (Cliffie's fave!) and the merging of his original songs with beloved classics, i.e. "New Amsterdam" with the Beatles' "You've Got to Hide your Love Away," and his first hit, "Radio Sweetheart" with Van Morrison's "In Heaven When You Smile." How could you not sing along? At one point he claimed his mic wasn't working and he made his way to the foot of the stage where he sat down w/guitar and belted out an old 30s ballad to which he played some killer finger picking style guitar — no amplification needed! My fave songs of the night were a very heartfelt "Other End of the Telescope" (such a powerful ballad) and the closer, "Man Out of Time," a fine acoustic version of the intense rock ballad. His voice soared, and every stunning word was heard and taken in. He was really funny, too. Not joke after joke, but wonderful, nonverbal stuff, like holding up one of the nine guitars on stage during the encore as if asking the audience, "want another one?" The best one-man show I've ever seen.

God wanted us to see this concert. A friend was talking about the upcoming show the day before the tix went on sale, and, although they were pricey, I bit the bullet and bought two — put them on credit, which I had no business doing. Good seats too. Well, if you've been following me on Facebook (and why wouldn't you?), you'll know that I just won a substantial amount of cash at the local high school fundraiser. Credit card bill paid off, thank you, and Cliffie and I enjoyed one of the best concerts of our lives.

Every now and then, after a super hard work day, an unexpected challenge involving one of the kids, or having dodged another financial crisis, I say to myself, "Life is just hard. When will I ever get rewarded for all of this?" Well, last night I received a big one. Just seeing the sheer delight on my son's face after being exposed to some of the finest music I've ever heard would have been enough. And I see many more rewards all around me — all I have to do is look. However, the messy kitchen isn't one of them. Better get to it. A clean kitchen and orderly house is more than enough to make me feel like I've accomplished something today.

Still singing Elvis tunes from the concert. Wow.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

ACT Test Day

Add me to the list of moms already mourning the loss of our college bound sons. Took Cliffie to Arroyo Grande High School to take the ACT test this a.m. Just the fact that he’s interested in taking the test, wants to do well, and sees himself a college graduate it is enough to make any mom proud. But with Cliffie there’s so much more beyond the surface — always has been.

Seems like only yesterday our kids were very little and we were lounging at the San Simeon Cove — moms gossiping in our lounge chairs and toddlers frolicking in the shallow white water. As most moms know, children at the beach are physically unable to make the short distance from the water to the line of towels where mom’s sitting without being totally covered in wet sand. And they’re always hungry when they emerge — sand covered snacks are but one of the many challenges moms face at the beach! (Ever tried to change a diaper there?) Had to watch Melissa the water magnet carefully — but I also had the added responsibility of having to look behind me, as Cliffie preferred exploring the rocks on the other end of the beach. The other kids proudly retrieved shells and sand crabs — he’d bring me fossils and lizards! My son’s easygoing and quiet, and always attracted friends with voices only a little louder than their huge personalities. Such an entertaining bunch! I walked the stretch of that beach yesterday, and felt a pang of despair at the sight of a pack of seven-year-old boys covering each other with sand. Whatever happened to that large collection beach treasures we kept in a jar on our front porch? All but gone are those wonderful days.

When Cliffie was two I was working in an office full time while he was in daycare. Yeah, that scenario broke my heart too. But on Fridays we’d leave a little early and have breakfast at the McDonalds by our house. Every time he saw the golden arches he’d yell “Donalds!” One of his first words. Dang he was cute! I must be nostalgic today because I shared that with him on the drive to the test site — we both agreed he was a pretty adorable toddler!

I think I’ve done pretty much all I can with this boy, raising-wise. And I’m quite happy with the result. Oh, I’ll pass along reinforcements now and then, but he knows exactly who he is, and makes no excuses to anyone. Lucky for me, “who he is” has turned out to be well-mannered, independent, sharp-witted, driven, kind and accepting, non-conforming, easily annoyed (hey, I didn’t say he was perfect!), brilliant, deep thinking, and creative. Did I say brilliant? And creative? There was a period between, oh about fourth and ninth grade, when I thought I just might have lost him — just didn’t interact with me that much. He once ran away and left a note saying he was no good to anyone so he may as well just leave. Cliffie’s been through a lot, and as I pointed out earlier, he is a deep thinker. But he’s come back in droves, and now, at the dinner table, he chooses to linger and talk. His perspective’s so insightful he could be featured on Bill Moyer’s Journal. I hang on his every word.

He’ll do well on the test. On the drive to the test site, the offramp was blocked so we had to turn off at the next one, then find our way back to the general location of the school. We took many wrong turns — poor kid got his inferior navigation skills from his mom! But we made it. And in a sea of high school juniors and seniors lingering outside on a foggy Saturday morning, my son — wearing a yellow computer t-shirt and carrying a brown bag containing peanuts and a banana — was a standout. He will go on to do great things. And bring me his future versions of fossils and lizards.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Let's do this thing

OK here it is ... my first ever blog post on my first ever blog page. And why not blog? The general public may not hang on my every word, or even a few of my words — but whether or not anyone gets anything out of my future posts, I get to exercise my constant need to put every thought that runs through my brain down on paper (or, um, the computer screen). Lucky you! Not that I'm promising great material here — I put myself in the group of most writers who think everything they write is pretty much crap. But my hope is that you might find a grain here or there that'll help you as you travel across your own highway. Hold on ... it's liable to be an emotional and bumpy ride. Kind of like my life.

And please comment. I'm completely insecure and thrive on positive reinforcement from just about any source. Lie if you have to.