So lately, baby Rose (who isn't so much baby anymore as toddler) has been cheering me on.
Rose: Mama, did you change Chumba's diaper?
Rose: (gasps) Good Job!
Rose: Mama, are you making lunch?
Rose: Oh, good job, mom. Good job!
Rose: Mama, did you shut the door?
NSG: Yep, I did.
Rose: Good job!!! (pats my hand)
It makes me giggle, but I realized something today. I like having a cheerleader. And I do a lot of little things that don't seem all that important but, when added up together, actually are pretty important to some people. Some important people.
So maybe I should let Rose's voice (which, let's face it... isn't always going to be there congratulating me) continue mentally. I should be telling myself, "good job," for the little things.
Or maybe Rose will always be my cheerleader. One can hope.
So Spring Runoff is coming to an end on Wilderness Interface Zone, the LDS nature-writing blog which I love and adore and have contributed to for a while. There are a lot of great poets and a lot of great poems in the running this year. I put the title the way it is to attract people to this blog post (because you guys are so awesome and loyal... I knew that if I wrote "go vote in a poetry contest" you wouldn't be as likely to come and see as if I put "my poems are in a contest") but I want you to read all the poems and vote for the ones you like. I mean, if you have the time. Or go read half and vote for the ones you like, or just read a few and vote for them if you like them. I just want more people to go and see that LDS poets are great, because sometimes we get a bad rap.
Instructions and voting ballot, and link to the poems are all here.
I'm writing a story right now that elicits a lot of strange emotion in me. I find stuff that is usually buried much closer to the surface. Today, I don't know why, but I'm filled with a lot of sad nostalgia. Regrets. And a lot of wishing things were different...I'd done things differently, I'd known how to act in certain situations or been strong enough at the time to act in the way I knew I should, or I'd made different decisions.
places I have regrets about:
I miss home. I'm an eight-generation Californian, but none of my kids have been born in California, so I feel like I'm cutting off those roots. I love where I live now, but so many people here are deeply rooted here. I miss my river, my mediterranean climate, the wildflowers my mother has been bragging so much about on facebook lately.
I miss being a student. Specifically, I have deep regrets about changing my major from music to psych. It turned out right. It was what I was supposed to do, but the few times I've walked around on campus at BYU-Idaho, where I was a music major, the regret almost immobilizes me. I wish I hadn't let some guy tell me I can't sing. I wish I'd spent four years singing in the choirs, stuyding theory and pedagogy. I wish I'd switched to another teacher instead of letting that one negative message paralyze me and rob me of my talent.
I miss being a student. Specifically, I have deep regrets about not taking more literature and writing classes. Not getting to know such people at BYU as Margaret Young, Lance Larsen, Leslie Norris, Eugene England and others. I regret I didn't find my tribe until after I was no longer an official student.
I regret never serving a mission or doing something like ILP. Doing something big, something hugely out of my comfort zone, and seeing the world.
People I have regrets about:
Aya would be the first. Good memories=singing together in choir (first altos rock), getting to know your family, learning to love fish, learning how to properly make rice, learning what a beauitful person you are. I wish I'd been mature enough to know how to be less awkward and unintentionally insensitive at times, and that we were better friends now.
Jason would be the second. Good memories=singing together, dancing together, white water rafting together, being taught by indulgent older ladies how to flirt to make it believable on-stage. Falling in huge like with you. The funny stories you told. The way you'd light up the stake dances and come up with completely improbable group date scenarios. I wish I'd known how to let you know I liked you without making you think I hated you, and I wish I'd known how to take rejection without actually thinking I hated you. I wish I hadn't blamed you for things you weren't responsible for. I wish our families were close enough to go fly fishing and hiking and rafting together so I could hear more of your stories.
Bishop Handley would be the third. And sadly good memories are hard to come up with, because I met you at a time when my life was at rock-bottom, and I was at my absolute worst. But... good memories. Seeing Barbara Kingsolver's "prodigal summer" on your shelf and realizing we were kindred spirits. Your wife's delicious pumpkin cookies (also a regret, because I ate half of them... my only excuse is will power goes out the window when you're in a stake of shock.) Getting to know Eliza at 10, who is a whole lot like my daughter Emma is now, and hearing her formulate her running-for-student-body president speech (and coming up with as many words as possible from her name. Watching Sister Handley run a busy household with skill and grace. Regrets: that life was so stupid when I met you, because you could have been a mentor.
Tyler would be the fourth. Good memories=whenI first saw you, and was blown away with like. When you told me I could call you whatever the hell I wanted. When you told me you were washing mickey mouse glasses. When you told me you like to watch TV while in the tub. How you taught me something really important--that the fact I was a single parent didn't render me utterly unnatractive and undatable. Regrets=everything else. Being crazy. Treating you wrong. Not knowing how to do it any better at the time. I wish you were my next door neighbor and we could talk to each other over the fence every once in a while, or as we were pulling our garbage out to the curb. Or at least in the same ward or something. I wish we could invite your family over for FHE. I wish I could get to KNOW your family. I wish I knew you more than I do.
Dr. B would be the fifth. Good memories=there are a whole lot. How you helped me know I actually am a good singer. Teaching me how self-consciousness makes you look even sillier in almost every situation (possibly every situation... I haven't tried them all yet.) Going to that one songwriter's recital together, even though it was totally wierd. When you gave me a much needed blessing. Laughing in voiceworks class. Emma and Jennie under an umbrella. The two of you (you and Debbie) singing, "I'd give it all for you," at my wedding. Regrets=that I was so crazy and mixed up there for a while, and you had to witness it. But then, that is probably also why one trusts another person. They see the worst and forgive you for it :)
We all have regrets about stuff. My hope is that nothing is un-fixable. Maybe someday, if heaven exists the way we conceptualize it (and I have faith it does) I'll have all of the great things I have now--friends, family, places, opportunities, but also an opportunity to go back and fix these kinds of things, kind of like dropped stitches in knitting. To me, that's heaven; being able to do everything you ever wanted, and be with every person who has ever touched your life or made an impression on you, made you want to be a better person. Or maybe there's a way to fix it in this life, too. Hopefully I have 60+ more years to play with. And hopefully I dont accumulate any more big ones in the meantime.
You know how I blogged about our new house and how perfect it is? There is one thing.
Just one little thing.
Only technically, it isn't little. In order to portray the full scope of this problem, I'll just have to show you in pictures:
That's our neighbor to the right.
That's across the street.
That's the Seminary building to the left.
And this is US:
As you can see, we are blessed with diversity not only in our family, but in our lawn as well. We do have some grass
But I'm not sure if it's the right kind.
We are fond of our alfalfa. It is full of vitamins.
And our dandilions are quite lovely by twilight.
Yeah. We tried. Our plan this year was to mow down all the *previous* year's (or more likely years') tangle of alfalfa and various unmown vegetation as short as possible, seed all over and water like mad to get grass to grow and choke out weeds. You see the result.
Part of the problem is the pump. We have a very high water-table, and there's a sort of cistern/pipe sunk into the corner of our yard that collects water that can then be pumped in a system of sprinkler-ports all over the yard. But... when we tried to turn on the pump, the casing broke. It hadn't been winterized while the house lay vacant (of course) so we had to buy a new one. Or actually, we tried everything we could including seeing if someone could weld it back together, look on craigslist for used ones and many other things before we came to the sad conclusion that we would have to buy a new one (and that we had wasted six weeks of the time we were hoping grass would be growing.)
We borrowed the bishop's lawnmower (we're not proud) and chopped everything down to lethal little nubbins that will gouge you if you try to run barefoot through the yard. What you see is what has grown up in two weeks.
My friend Tyler gave me advice about a year ago that we should till and re-seed. I think maybe he is right. Which means that we will be spending yet another summer as the giant field of embarrassment (really, can a yard look any worse than ours? And it's worse than you think. The kids are always leaving toys out. And I didn't post a picture of the few piles of dog poo.) (Dogs are potty training. It's not my fault). And the wind patterns are such that *all* the trash from the high school blows directly into our field. I've taken to paying the kids a penny per piece of garbage they pick up... I think I've paid out more than twenty dollars at this point.
And add to this... our yard is about an acre. The fountain in front, alone, is probably 1/4 acre. Oh, that's right, I forgot. Want to see our fountain/flowerbed? It welcomes all who traverse our circular drive.
Anyway, that's a lot of mowing. That's like four hours of every Saturday gone. That is *so much water* that we literally cannot afford to water it until our new pump arrives in the mail. That is a riding lawnmower... probably several bags of grass seed... likely a hired tractor-tiller. Which also mean hours and hours of removing the stone path (pictured above with alfalfa) that meanders throughout our yard and which the previous owners tell us took many hours of labor to put together.
I feel overwhelmed right now to the point that I'm actually starting to say, "Lawn? Who needs a lawn?" And then I look to the right, to the left, and across the street and realize that I'm in a neighborhood.
Am I complaining about where we live? NO, not at all. We have been blessed with exactly what we wanted. Sometimes being blessed with what you wanted is just hard work, is all. Our kids always wanted a playhouse, for instance. And they got one
Which unfortunately needs to be torn down before any neighbors will allow their kids to play in our yard.
(Setting: It's just after church on Mothers' day. The kids are gleefully piling my lap with cookies and little cute cards the primary helped them make. The four girls hand over their baggies, then turn and look expectantly at Squirt.)
Squirt: (mulish expression on face) these... Mom, these cookies are mine.
NSG: Yeah? They look yummy.
Squirt: They're for me to eat.
Bella: Squirt, they're for Mom! Give them to Mom!
NSG: Squirt, if you give me the cookies, I'll share some with everyone. This is a lot of cookies for me to eat.
Squirt: No! NO, they're mine. I...you can have all my papers. (hands over the card he made, plus a crayon picture and a coloring page from primary.)
NSG: Thank you, Squirt.
Skywalker: (Crouches down, looks him earnestly in the face): Squirt, don't you want to give Mom her cookies? Don't you love your Mom?
Squirt: (looks at floor) Yeah, I love her. I just don't love her that much.
*afternote: the cards were really cute. Here is what each of the kids wrote, monikers used to retain privacy*
My mom's name is: SERU
My mom is JAWS years old.
My mom's job is
My favorite thing to do with my mom is BACEN (baking??)
(this one is written by a teacher)
My mom's name is: SARAH
My mom is 13 :) years old
My mom's job is MAKING LUNCH
My favorite thing to do with my mom is GIVES HIM FOOD
My mom's name is SARHA
My mom is 31 years old
My mom's job is to TAKE CARE OF US
My favorite thing to do with my mom is TO PLAY GAMES
My mom's name is SARAH
My mom is 31 years old
My mom's job is TAKING CARE OF KIDS
My favorite thing to do with my mom is GOING PLACES WITH HER
Love, Loli (written in cursive)
My mom's name is SARU
My mom is 31 years old
My mom's job is CLEZ HOUSE
My favorite thing to do with my mom is PLA GAMEAZA
I've kinda gypped you guys here. (Though I'm not sure how many of you worry enough to feel gypped.) But... my novel.
You can learn all about it here.
It's got a pretty cool cover. You should go look.
OK. And I've realized I don't have time to write everything I want to write, and so some things (you may have noticed) have fallen clear off the table. I'm not sure when that will change. But... if you would like, please update your rss feeds to my professional blog, where I'll likely be writing more often from now on. Or you could just like, add it to your list. Or whatever you want. My latest blog post over there:
Writing Out the Murky Subconscious
Wherein I talk of ghostwriting... that is, exorcizing ghosts of the past through writing.