More than restless....obsessed.

Ok, I have become obsessed. I received a little feedback from this http://www.winona360.org/winona360/article/op-ed-its-time-reflection-war-family-and-action. Maybe you read it, maybe you didn't. I don't mind if you take the time to do so now. And sure, go ahead. Re-read it. It is completely worth your time.

Frankly, I have become a little obsessed. I've decided the message is too important than to just say, "Atta girl, Lisa. You squeaked out a good one." Because while I do think I did well on the writing part, it's the message that has been keeping me awake. I clearly didn't think this through and this is why the big guns have agents.

But what they don't have that I do is you. I am asking for your help. I'd like to get this article more widely published. So far, two papers and one on-line site have taken it--it's not bad, but I, no, we can do better.

I will kindly offer my favorite version-the long one with the picture because seriously--who can resist those eyes? And an edited version--one I picked apart and whittled down to the core and it was so painful because I was so attached....but anyway. The message is retained and it will seem more palatable to print-only papers.

Some of my friends and my mom might be worried that I will stop shaving and start leading "Kumbaya" spontaneously. Relax! Spring is coming, I have pride, and I can't sing.

But I can write. And badger. Lucky you! If you have any contacts whatsoever with any sort of publication, large or small, I will take it. If you have a friend, a friend of a friend, or spent time dog sitting this one guy's mom who worked for so and so, I want to know. If there are online publications I am not aware of, give me a tip. As one of my commentors said, "Where have I been? It's time to get the word out." Forward the link above yourself or send me an email at lisa.graybookshelf@gmail.com with the contacts and I will do the leg work.

Indifference.

It's a bad place to be, and I am not going back.

Where has all the humor gone?

These matters of the heart don't always pave the way for a lot of laughs, but there have been some.

When I showed my daughter my latest work her reply was, "It's long."

Self-soothing techniques in the midst of angst include small squares of dark chocolate from a private stash that I go to whenever anxiety strikes. This explains the perpetual ten pounds I can't get rid of, but Thing 2 is on to me. I've given up on the "private" part of the stash, but I did ask if he could please take the ten pounds as well. "I'll try, mom," said Thing 2 and then thoughfully added, " but you know I like to move and you like to sit."

Ouch.

Snuggle time with Thing 1 often means soaking in the smell of her freshly washed hair. I was dating myself by telling her that there used to be a shampoo called "Gee Your Hair Smells Terriffic." I guess my own clean-up after dinner was less than perfect because she said, "Gee, Your Hair Smells Like Bacon."

Again, ouch.

Finally, in order to calm my racing mind, I was reading about writing last night. Why I thought this would calm me isn't clear now, and it certainly didn't work. So I kept reading. And reading. Big man gave up and I could feel his stare. The exchange went something like this:

"Stop bullying me with your stare. I'm reading. Go to sleep."

Silence. More staring.

"You are a bully."

"Hon, we're like-minded souls. We don't even need words. You know what I am thinking."

Silence.

My turn to stare.

The lights went out....on his side.






Well...?


Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, son of Jeff and Lori Wilfarht of Rosemount, MN, was killed on February 27th, 2011, while serving in Afghanistan.

I've had some people ask me, "Why haven't you written about Andrew?" In fact, his dad sent me a message that simply said,"I'm waiting.....". But it's hard because I didn't really know Andrew. My husband knew Andrew like many cousins know each other--in the background of childhood and sporadic family gatherings. In fact, I wrote briefly after his death and I did not publish it. Some might view a blog as entertainment and this horror is not entertainment.

In the meantime, I attended the most moving celebration of Andrew's life. People from all aspects of Andrew's life showed up to share their love and memories and fill in the gaps for those of us less in-the-know of Andrew's quirks and gifts and genuine sweetness.

There was a military funeral. Attendance to one of these should be required for every American. It will make you think differently about life in our fair country. Fort Snelling is not an easy place to be when 154 civilians and retired military people line up with flags in honor of a loss too big to understand. Brisk air caused the flags to whip and snap, the solemn trumpets mourned along with family and friends in front of a wooden box of Andrew's remains. With precision, a flag was folded and bestowed upon the grieving family and it could have seemed like a scene in a movie --but there I was grasping my nine year old daughter's hand trying to reassure her. Of what, I don't know. My head still spins thinking about it, and I have no name for the experience.

Nothing I have to say will change the facts; Andrew was killed while out on patrol. A diamond trap was set and purposely detonated. Only one of the three IED's detonated while the other two failed. The successful detonation occurred directly below Andrew's feet.

That's a hard story to take, especially coming from one of his platoon mates who joined us at the funeral and afterwards at the family home. He shared with us what their typical patrol was like. While speaking, he was shaking and tearing. As "old-timers" (he was 41 and Andrew was 31), neither had spouses or children and felt this was a way to contribute to the greater good of the world while keeping more families in tact. This brave man was sent to be with Andrew's family and we needed him as much as he needed us. I kept thinking the whole time, "What are we doing to these people? This young man will never be the same." He wanted to talk as much as we wanted him to so he did. Could he feel compassion and anguish and sorrow and privilege in our hugs? That's what I left hoping.

And so there you have it. I guess what I was thinking is that Andrew was not mine to write about. I don't take lightly the pain his parents and siblings are experiencing. Their whole way of being is completely altered. My own thoughts really mean nothing. I don't take lightly his death, which happened in a war I don't believe we should be in while still I laude and respect our soldiers' service to our country. I don't take lightly my own complacency toward these wars that have been a part of our country's landscape for the past ten years. Nor do I take lightly the fact that I didn't really know Andrew. Why was that? The answer might seem simple at first. It's family, people go their own ways, life is busy, yadda-yadda. But is it really that simple?

So if you want to ask me why I haven't written about Andrew, you have to understand that to do so forces me to figure out where I fit into all of it. That's the part I am working on. I'll keep you posted.



Well spent.

We hired a local man to install windows and side our house. He was a team of one so we knew we were in it for the long haul, but we felt good about his work and him. We still feel that way, though how he feels about us is surely up for debate. He started in November and finished two days ago. Along the way, among the things we did not contract for, these things occurred:

  • The garage door failed intermittently and it became a personal quest of his to solve this dilemma. He did.
  • We forgot to set out garbage several times. He set it out.
  • A blizzard occured in December. He blew out a trail around our house.
  • A water pipe burst above our garage so he gamely made a foray into plumbing. He couldn't fix it at the time but later served as consulant and carpenter with the person that did.
  • My mom was here watching the kids when her car wouldn't start. He jumped it for her and left his number in case she needed anything else.
  • She called him the same night at 8:00 p.m. when a bat appeared to terrorize her. He came, got rid of the bat, and later took himself out for a drink.
  • He took the dog out when we were gone too long.

Among the things we did for him:

  • Cookies and cocoa most days.
  • Coffee some days.
  • Provided fine examples on how to fail at power plays with kids.
  • Provided fine examples on how to fail with dog obedience training.
  • By confirming that some humans are more hopeless than others, his job security prevails.
He's gone now. The windows are installed, the siding is up, the trim is on inside and out, my garage door has worked for five consecutive days, and the house looks great. The garbage did not get out this morning, the dog is peeing on the carpet, and I am sure this surprises no one.

Time and money may be different beasts, but in both cases ours was well-spent.

We're sorry, Kyle, and we thank you.




What we carry.

I tried to get away. I did get away. But everywhere I went, things followed. It was nice to be able to think them through to the end. I didn't have interruptions and there was this guy....tall and sweet....a good listener and knows how to hold a hand. We were carrying some of the same weights but felt differently about them, which is fine. It keeps things from being boring.

I tell you, we went to Charleston, South Carolina where the sun was on display and the palmetta trees were rustling and the history demands to be observed. Stunning and startling and unsettling all at once. I arrived thinking about Afghanistan and found myself immersed in the Civil War and came home wondering about Libya. I hardly recognize myself.

One thing that I rediscovered was poetry. We stumbled upon a cafe where they have a featured Carolina poet who reads for a bit and then the locals hit the mike with song or their own poems. There was whooping and hollering and the reminder that we all seek solace in words that bring meaning to the seemingly senseless things around us.

I left that cafe with a slim volume of poetry written by a 75 year old man completely devoted to his wife whom he lost 2 years ago. It's called The Jane Poems and in it I will learn their story. Why this is important to me is not yet clear. For now, it's enough to know that someone out there was able to mine their life for the moments that mattered and found a way to capture and share them. This seems like a good thing to carry next to all the other stuff. Somehow it fits even if I don't understand exactly how
.

Do something that matters.

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday about where we place all the tragedy in the world. How do we walk around in a normal, fortunate life when the planet is filled with horrors that can be discovered within seconds of awakening? Everyday seems to bring something new. We can be grateful that we can text and click any amount scrounged together and pray it will go to someone who will put it to good use. But the aftershocks of the heart--how do we live with those?

In my brief stint on this planet, it's always been the helplessness that gets me and so far, I have only come to this: do something that matters for or in the name of someone or some cause, however big or small. It's likely the wars won't stop, the bodies will continue to pile up in Japan, and protestors around the world will have to take up their task for one more day. But, a dollar just might feed several small bellies, a phone call might save a life, a listening ear might provide some release for a grieving soul, and a letter might be the latest in thousands that propels someone with power into real action. It's a risk and a gamble, but the alternative seems so disrespectful to those bearing the brunt of the tragedies. In a world that defies logic, what other choice is there?

The country mice visit the city.

The country mice decided on a city outing. Thing One loves the big city. Her eyes start to sparkle and her walk becomes a little strut and she starts to hum and sing and soak up the culture. We went to Chicago and crammed in as much as possible, especially when considering your natural state is that of a slug. This meant up and out by 8:00, back twelve hours later, and asleep by 9:00 in order to repeat this routine 2 more times.

Winona is a beautiful place to live, but it was fun to see a different side of life. Trains and taxis and buses and subways and lines and street musicians and fashion beyond tennis shoes and jeans and sculptures and languages not understood and performance art and a river dyed green for St. Patrick's Day and dog carriers nicer than any purse I've owned and serious sky scrapers. It was a visual extravaganza and choosing a focal point was difficult.

The rhythmn was different, invigorating , and yet another reminder that not everyone lives or acts or thinks like me. What a relief.

Been a long time gone

I know, I know.... to anyone who calls themselves a fan, I apologize. The last 10 days have been overwhelming. I am working on a post that does it justice so bear with me.

For now, take this:

Have you ever felt sucked into the vortex that is your home? Everywhere seems to suggest something that could be done, should be done, and worse...re-done? For whatever reason, the kids, the dog, laziness, or a hangnail, these things continue to go unadressed and the feeling of swimming in mud becomes so second-nature that it's tempting to think things are ok. There are some people whom I can grudgingly call friends who will not know of this dilemma. These are people who live by the mantra, "Everything has it's place and everything in it's place." Weirdos. One day, though, it is time to go outside. Maybe it's the kids, the dog, or simple avoidance, but out you go and find snow. You look at it, smell it, and realize while it would be easy to be ticked off about this snow in March, it is March and March holds promise! Wouldn't it be nice if there were the equivalent of the magic of snow for the home--something that covers all the imperfections in a glistening blanket that provides an immediate sense of calm?

Only later will you wonder why you didn't come out sooner. Your new red door works. This sense of solitude could have been yours all along. It is disheartening to know you are dumber than originally thought.

Spring break.
Minnesota.
Kids.
Dog.

It makes people crazy. Or maybe it's just making be crazy. Oh well. My red door works, and I will try not to forget.