Thursday, January 2, 2014

Never Far

Today is the 25th anniversary of my father's passing from this life into the next.  Today is also the first time in many years that I have not had an idea for a blog post about my Dad and what he meant to me and how very much I miss him.  There are no thoughts of Bing Crosby songs that he used to sing, no poems, no thinking back to good times we had.  I'm drawing a complete blank today.  And that bothers me.  A lot.

I reminded myself that never a day goes by when I don't think of my Dad:  when a co-worker tells a funny story about his Dad; when I see an older gentlemen in bib overalls at a hardware store; when I hear an old country song; when I remember something about my Dad that is so sweet and sentimental, and it will make me smile.  My father may have been gone for 25 years now, but he is never far from my thoughts.

I don't share stories about my Dad at my new job.  For some reason, I've started wanting to keep these things to myself.

What I do know for sure is that love is the one thing that transcends time.  We can still feel it even when the person we love is gone.  And I hope that it is the one thing that we can take with us into the next life.

And I like to think that somewhere my Dad is thinking about a little girl with pigtails who used to write him notes and draw him pictures and leave them on his desk.  A little girl who was always "a day late and a dollar short" much to his chagrin.  A little girl who he said always made him proud, and who, I hope, is never far from his thoughts.

Here's a video of a song that always reminds me of my parents and my wonderful childhood.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


About a week ago, I parked in the local high school parking lot and walked out to the football field to pick up my son who was wrapping up an evening of football practice.

As I walked that warm, early-fall evening, I felt a sense of relief.  My son's football season was a wonderful experience.  I saw and chatted with a couple other "Football Moms" who have been very nice and welcoming and great sources of information on the area.

I thought about my new job and how much I love being back at work and interacting with other adults all day.  The job, so far, has been nothing but positive.  No "type A" people.  The school is located out on a beautiful prairie.  And I love being around kids.

I thought about my new house.  Sometimes, I have a tiny bit of buyer's remorse.  Maybe we should've tried to find a larger house.  Maybe we should've found one with a bigger back yard.  Maybe we should've gone further into the country.  But mostly I'm still in love with this house and all the possibilities it provides me to "make it my own" in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

And that night I recognized a feeling that had been gone for a very, very long time.  Contentment.  The kids are making friends and doing well in school and activities.  My husband is happy in his work - though he travels overseas an awful lot.  And I have stopped having to worry about everything and can look forward to life once again.

The walk out to the football field isn't that far, but that evening it was the place where I came to an awesome realization that took me light years from where I had been not all that long ago.

I will be okay.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Five-Year-Old Sweater

I have been knitting a sweater since 2008.  It isn't a very fancy sweater because it is the first one I've ever attempted to knit.  I love the simplicity of the pattern - a top-down raglan with simple finishes all knit in one piece, so there will be no sewing involved.

The sweater is knit in a cheap acrylic that I used to be fond of in 2008.  It is silky and soft - a good thing in a sweater; however, not such a good thing to knit with.

A couple of days ago, I discovered that I had made a mistake in decreasing for the ribbed wristband.  I then (as I always do when confronted with a mistake) proceeded to take my needles out of my knitting and ripped away to the point where the mistake was made.  Fearless.  Self-assurred.  Stupid.  The silky yarn caused some of the stitches to unravel further down than others.  I stared in disbelief.

Two hours later, I had succeeded in painstakingly getting all the stitches fixed and situated correctly on the needle.  And then I made the same mistake in decreasing.  I modified the next row to get the right number of stitches, and then I left it.  I made a note of what I did so as to make the next sleeve the same way.

I've accepted that sometimes I can't do what I always did with what I have now.  I try, I modify, I slip up and learn to live with the consequences, making the best of the situation.  And I wonder, is it that I'm no longer in charge of what I'm doing?  Have my skills abandoned me over the years?  Is "done" now better than "perfect"?  And I realized that sometimes it's the journey that is the most fulfilling part of reaching a destination.  Another life lesson from the art of knitting.

My knitting has gotten me through every difficult passage over the last ten years.  It has always been my therapy of choice.  The act of pulling yarn through stitches repeatedly has been a type of meditation, and it has been there for me whenever I've needed it.  And now I'm finding that my knitting is something that changes from year to year, from project to project, and I love it even more.  No matter how much it changes, it is always there for me.  It is the one constant in my world.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Past, Present, Future

My bedroom walls are now three colors.  Dark, medium, light.  Brown, beige, cream.  The strange thing about these particular walls is that the light from the southern exposure makes the colors morph throughout the day.  At times, the brown appears to be a pewter grey.  At times, the beige and cream appear to be the same color.  It is like being in a kaleidoscope room with the colors ever changing.  It adds to my constant feeling of confusion lately.

Since the move, I live in a world where past, present and future commingle.  The way things were done in the past is no longer possible in all situations.  I keep trying to find my way around the present day which is a constant exercise in trial and error.  The future needs to be planned for - registering for school, assimilating into our new surroundings, trying to rebuild our family life.

The past keeps nagging at me, lurking in the back of my mind at all times.  Going to the grocery store, I have to ask myself, "Where was this located in my old store?" in the hopes that it will be located in that same area in the new store.  This has never worked.  It is always in a different place, and my quick trips for groceries end up lasting two hours.

The present is a constant adventure.  Meeting new people is my favorite part.  The neighbors here are very friendly people.  After working in a recruiting office for almost a decade, I am adept at reading people.  And I can tell that the woman next door had been best friends with the woman who used to live in my house.  I saw from her facial expressions that I didn't quite measure up to her expectations when we first met.  The guy across the street is a comedian.  The other guy across the street is very friendly and helpful, and my sense of humor seemed to surprise him.  The guy who lives behind us might just be a bit pervy - he said he'd really like it if I could come over and meet his dog(?)  And he said to come over any time.  Okay, then . . .

The future is a constant worry.  When will the kids make friends?  Will they like school?  Will I find a job?  Am I ever going to figure out an easy way to get all the laundry from upstairs down into the laundry room?  And how am I ever going to make this new pantry work?

I look forward to the day when everything is relaxed again.  Everything is second nature.  Everything will work.  A day when I can look at the colors on my bedroom walls and know that the wall is brown, not grey because it will be locked in my subconscious mind.  The day when certainty returns.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Twenty-four years ago today, my father passed away at 9:02 a.m.  I was 24 years old at the time, so he has been gone from my life for as long as he was in it which seems really weird.  Time passes so quickly.  Yet there are times when he is right here with me while I go about my everyday tasks.  A memory will come to mind.  A saying of his will make its way through my thoughts.  And it is like a part of him never really left me.  He was a person worthy of remembering.  A father whom I loved so very much.

Love heals our hearts.  Love transcends the things that bring us down and lifts us up.  Love, it appears, is permanent.  It is as stable and constant as my father was in life.  And it is what I feel today as I look out at the snowflakes gently falling from Heaven and swirling around like an embrace.  One from a loving father who is with me today as he was 24 years ago and he will be 24 years from now.  And I wonder how the love I'm sending back to him looks from where he is in Heaven.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Long Goodbye

I will be moving on very soon.  After 14 months of unemployment, worry, calling, applying, interviewing, disappointment, stress and many sleepless nights, my husband has gotten a wonderful job offer from a very good company near Madison, Wisconsin.

More than 15 years ago, after my husband graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, it was our dream to settle down around Madison, begin careers and start a family.  That dream wasn't meant to be at that time.  My husband found work here in the Twin Cities, and we built a life here along the beautiful St. Croix River in a sweet (if a bit small) little house.  Like anything else in life, there has been good and bad and in between, but mostly good.

And now we get a second chance at that dream of living in Madison.  Only this time we have two children to uproot from the only home they have ever known.  I am so conflicted.  There are days when tears are very near the surface and I can barely seem to manage the simplest of household chores.  There are other days when I keep thinking of getting a new (and bigger) house, and I can't help but get excited about it.

But there are a few memories of my house that I hold dear, and I can't help but replay them over and over in my head as I prepare to move on from the home I've had for 15 years.  I used to hold my tiny babies and dance with them in the wee morning hours in my living room.  During the holidays, I used to turn off all the lights and have only the Christmas tree lights on in that very same room.  I used to wake up at 5 am to shovel snow after a blizzard, and I would gaze in wonder at the snow covered trees around my house.  It is these quiet, beautiful moments that I will always keep close to my heart.

I don't know anyone who hates goodbyes as much as I do.  Lately, with every football game and apple orchard outing, I've been looking around trying to commit as much of it to memory as I can.  It hurts to know how very much I will miss my life here.  But what hurts even more is knowing that I will move on and forget much of the little things that made up the fabric of my days here in Hudson.  After awhile I won't remember them all.  I will pick up new threads and create a new life.  And while that is what I need to do now, it still makes me sad.

This last year has been a long journey.  But I am confident that the future holds good things for us.  Our heads and eyes are up, and we are moving forward.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Judgment Day

"When I tell them that I'm doing fine
Watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time, boy?
You're no longer on the ball."
Lyrics from "Watching the Wheels" by John Lennon

A couple of weeks ago I found myself in a job interview for the first time in 14 years. I had been sending out resumes for six months. I was finally contacted by a local placement firm. They had an open position for a Project Manager at a local company. The recruiter asked all the pertinent questions, and then she asked why I thought I could do the job after having not "worked" for the last four years. My inner Bitch Switch was instantly flipped. ("Hey, YOU contacted me" was the first thought in my head.) I gave her a standard line of BS about how I would be perfect for the job, and how she had to look no further than two of my past positions where I had worked for ten years and nine years to see that I was an excellent employee. She asked me to come to her office for another interview.

I went out and bought an interview suit. I polished my interview skills with my husband. I was ready. When I walked into the recruiter's office, I was a bit taken aback. It was in a very dumpy office building. Cardboard boxes lay on the floor. I glanced around mentally noting the numerous changes I would make if I worked there.

The recruiter was very young. She laughed inappropriately and constantly. Her radio was on during the entire interview, and she even turned it up at one point and explained, "I just love Billy Joel, don't you?" I resisted the urge to stand up and walk out. She seemed satisfied with my answers to a few very lame questions, and she scheduled me for an interview with her client company a couple days later.

I put the interview suit on again and made my way to the hiring company. After a short wait, a young man who is an Engineer at the company took me into a conference room. He was very young, and he looked just like the actor who plays Jasper in the "Twilight" movies, except he had shorter hair. He went into a detailed explanation about his position in the company, and I kept thinking "You look just like Jasper the vampire." He asked me about my work ethic, my computer experience, how quickly I catch on to new things, etc. Throughout the whole process, he looked entirely unimpressed with me, and to be honest, I was a bit surprised at his lack of interpersonal skills.

I was trying to figure out what he thought of my answers. I had the feeling the entire time that I was trying to get back on a bike that I hadn't ridden in a very long time, and I couldn't quite get my balance. I used to rock interviews. I knew what people wanted to hear, and I delivered. But during this interview, I kept wanting to jump out of my skin. I would hear myself answer a question, and it was almost as if I were listening to someone who wasn't me. I was on auto pilot.

A second Engineer joined us half way through the interview. He was friendly and a bit loud. He put his hands behind his head and leaned back in the chair all the while complaining about his 16-hour days. He really didn't look at me at first. He was much nicer and asked questions about my previous jobs. He would smile and nod, and we had a good exchange of information.

At the end of the interview, I asked them if they had any other questions for me, and the Second Engineer leaned back, put his hands behind his head and said, "So, what have you been doing for the past four years? I see you haven't been working." I was ready for the question. I explained how I had some personal essays published; I had tutored second graders in reading; I was on my Neighborhood Association Board, and that it was the right decision for my family to stay home, but now I'm ready to return to work. The Vampire Engineer narrowed his eyes a bit. The Second Engineer looked down at the table and leaned back further in his chair. He pressed his lips together, raised his eyebrows and dismissed my answer with something to the effect of "Well, okay then. I guess we're all done here" and they showed me out. The Vampire never looked back or said goodbye. The Second Engineer showed me to the door and walked away quickly.

As I expected, I got the phone call three days later that they would not be hiring me. When I asked the recruiter what the reason was, she said it was because I had not "worked" for the last four years. I let it go.

So, since I am in the habit of using this blog as an outlet for my emotional catharses, here goes:

In my role as a stay-at-home mother, I have supported two young children and a husband every single day. They always have clean clothes, prepared food, and just about anything else they could ever want or need.

I have held my children when they were screaming from vaccinations. I have held a small boy who was getting the open gash in his knee stitched by a doctor. I have slept upright in a chair while holding two sick, feverish kids the entire night.

I make sure the homework is done, the permission slips have been signed, the activity fees are paid, and the library books are returned. I have helped with every school project, chaperoned many a school outing, worked to put together and hold holiday classroom celebrations. I have baked for bake sales. I have signed-up and accompanied my children to a myriad of sports and extracurricular activities. I am the Mom on the sidelines that cheers her kids on loudly.

I have helped children learn to read when they were way behind their classmates because they transferred to our school from some crappy inner city school where they fell through the cracks. I have gotten into the face of a little girl with a tremendous chip on her shoulder and made her realize that she is too smart not to be able to read. I celebrated every little milestone with the kids I tutored. And I felt a "happy sad" when they no longer needed my help. I cried out of frustration when one little girl who was making a great deal of progress got taken from her home and sent to Iowa (after her mother was arrested for prostitution and dealing drugs from her apartment) and I knew I would never get to see or tutor her again. I pray every night that she has kept on reading and has found someone who would care about her and would teach her well.

I do mountains of laundry and dishes each week because I love my family, and I love being a wife and mother. So, if someone feels that the last four years of my life have been some sort of "Mom Vacation", they can kiss my a$$. I can only hope that I will have the opportunity to interview with and work for more enlightened people in the future.

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt