The Right Ingredients

People want to know what's up. How are we? What's the scoop? There is no scoop. We are still on the great job hunt, still weighing our options, still talking, and doing some MAJOR spring cleaning despite the fact that spring is not here but in case the house must go up for sale. 

I'm done reading, but I'm not done.



Has this ever happened to you? Over the years there have been many.  Big Man always wonders why I have such a big bag. It's because I always have to carry two books- the one I am reading and the one that is next. I also need a journal, a pen, and a tiny notebook. The journal is for my thoughts and the tiny notebook is for lists of things to do and read. It's complicated to him but makes perfect sense to me.

Anyway, I thought I'd share some of the books I've carried around in my life. But you must know, especially if you consider yourself a reader, that books can hit you in different ways at different times in your life. I have set down a book, utterly disgusted, and picked it up four years later wondering what I missed the first time. The books I am sharing are books that had some profound impact on me at the time. And this habit of carrying a book well after I finish has always just been about my unwillingness to be done either with the story, a character, or my thinking about it.  Sometimes what has hit me seems undefinable. But the physical book remains and so, I hold on.

As I have taken this trip down memory lane, I have struggled to remember my reading life in my 20's. What is up with that? I can see myself in my childhood bedroom charging through the Babysitter's Club and discovering To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time. Weird, right? But this is totally me. I can envision yet another Danielle Steele novel tucked between the pages of my American lit. textbook as the teacher droned on in eleventh grade, and I can smell the tissue paper pages of my first collection of Shakespeare's plays in my English literature class as a junior in college. After that, life gets fuzzy until kids come along.

What these books have in common for me is one thing- I could not let go of them.That's it.You must know, I just had to stop. I did. I could go on, but each of these books spent a little more time in my book bag than necessary. Except that it was necessary. To me.

To Kill A Mockingbird  Harper Lee

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings and
On the Pulse of  Morning  Maya Angelou

The Good Earth by Pear S. Buck

Operating Instructions Anne Lamott

Into the Wild Jon Krakauer

Tiny Beautiful Things Cheryl Strayed

The Chronology of Water Lidia Yuknavitch

The Signature of All Things Elizabeth Gilbert

Why I Wake Early Mary Oliver

Julia Child's Rules Karen Karbo

The Liars Club Mary Karr

The Magician's Assistant  and
Truth and Beauty Ann Patchett

Here if You Need Me Kate Braestrup

The Gift of an Ordinary Day  Katrina Kenison

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination Elizabeth McCracken

Still Writing Dani Shapiro

Contents May Have Shifted Pam Houston

The View from Mrs. Thompson's House (from Consider the Lobster) David Foster Wallace

Olive Kitteridge Elizabeth Strout


The Show Must Go On!

The chaos of our life hasn't been without joy.

My boy-kid has been taking books to school to share with friends. My heart squeezes every single time he shares with me what the book of the day will be. This morning it was White Fang by Jack London for a friend who "has a CRAZY wolf obsession."  This would be a little thing to miss. I see him going through his pile of books and every day it's been something different. I haven't really paid a lot of attention, but under my skin I feel that a gift of his is developing and it is hard to put into words just yet. I can't think of any gesture more kind and loving than someone saying, "I read this and thought of you." This will never be the kind of thing that earns praise and accolades, but it is the meat of life....rich and sustaining and connecting. 

My girl-kid has been prepping for the school musical, poised to take to the stage despite nerves and over-coming a few obstacles along the way. Her tenacity will get her through so much more than a school musical. I could not do what she is doing, and so it is humbling to let your child go knowing you really haven't had much of a hand in it except to say, "I support you."  The flip side of this is teaching her to own her mistakes. We've been through both sides of this and the skill set remains the same for both of us. I don't honestly know who is doing the most learning.

Meanwhile, I am working on letting go of a life I thought I would lead in a place I thought would raise my kids. It turns out the picture is changing and it's hard to see it disappear. It is difficult because I have invested deeply with my time and my heart and my words and actions.The feelings I have are because I have lived my life here with intention and love. Letting go of what I have created feels sometimes too much to bear, but that is typical of who I am. Finally at the ripe age of  45 I am accepting that who I am is a passionate person and this means living with great emotional peaks and valleys. A sunnier side will reveal itself, but for now I have to tread gently in this valley and give myself time before I start the climb out.

The interview trips we have taken have found us laughing with each other. The conversations in the car have been deep and rich and difficult. We have been acting like adults even when we don't feel like adults. It has been some of the scariest stuff we've had to do. I can see the responsibility he feels, I can feel the disappointment he has in himself, and I share in the grief of facing some hard truths about ourselves. This isn't drama. It's our life. I am learning about perception and shifts in focus and breathing deeply and being present and letting myself really be honest with him even when it's hard. And we still like each other. We still laugh at and with each other. Stillstillstillstill! We would choose each other.

So, the show must go on! 

My baby doll is singing this weekend and we will be grinning from ear to ear no matter the sound quality. If she can sing in front of middle school kids, we can surely forge a new path for ourselves. It might feel like something is over, but  really we are just in the second act. 


Reading, Writing, Talking.

What I Am Reading
It seems I always have my nose in something to read....magazine, book, blog. Here are a few things that I keep coming back to.

I have been reading about the redesign of a popular standardized test.
Redesign of the SAT

This is a compelling article about how screen time in children may affect their brains.
Screen Time

The Bell Is Ringing!

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I feel like this one beautiful life I have been given is slipping away too fast. I feel like in midlife I am only now just starting to find the path I was meant to follow. If I pause too long I wonder--what the heck was I doing?