Monday, September 27, 2010

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

There is a commercial I see on TV that has a line, "While I was busy building my life, plaque was building in my arteries." It is an advertisement for some cholesterol lowering drug I believe. These past few months, I can't attest to the plaque in my arteries but I do sometimes worry about my blood pressure.

You see I have been building, and in a way, rebuilding my life. I purge a house (one brick), pack a house (another brick), get new doctors, (yet another brick) and so on. I have been placing my bricks in order and make my new life sturdy here in Tennessee. The fates however have decided to come along and knock my house down.

They are moving my husband's headquarters and we have to move to Chicago. And now I sit amongst a pile of rubble. My bricks lay scattered around me. Sometimes I sit and stare at them. Sometimes I pull my knees into my chest and cry a little. Mostly I sift through the pile. I know that there are many bricks that are not broken or even damaged. You see, when I was in highschool I went on a workcamp with my church. One of our tasks was to search the remains of a "moved" house for salvageable brick. Brick is strong, and so am I. I will find my bricks and take them to Chicago. I can place them in a new spot. I can repair the ones which are damaged and gather/build new ones (like friends, Karate, Gymnastics) once again. I know I can, I know how, because, I just did it not to long ago.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'm Getting Old

"I'm getting old." I will say to my children. This phrase disgruntles my eldest child and always brings a protest. "Mom, you are not old." she will say. "You are only old when you are 100." Or she will say, "Mom, you are only as old as you feel." I tend to reply,"I feel pretty dog gone old." This gets a smile from my daughter and has become a little joke between us.

It is true I feel my body aging. My foot hurts here, I get a leg strain there, and I have to be careful with my back. Out of respect for my male readers I won't go into details, but being a woman who is getting older, there is a time in the month which just keeps getting uglier. (my female peers will understand) I truly enjoy my new bras which give me more lift in the right places and will NOT buy Spanx but understand the temptation. There is nothing to be done, you get older and your body changes.

I do not want it to sound like I am bitter or hate getting old. It is what it is and I do my best to embrace it. I try to stay healthy and take care of myself. I also see the good things about getting older. The experiences you gain and keep under your belt. When my father had heart surgery a nurse told us that younger patients often have more trouble with recovery. They have much more difficulty with the pain and discomfort. I think when you are older you have experienced both, more pain, and more pleasure. Perhaps you have more background knowledge to know it will end. The other thing that startles me about getting older is that my children are getting older also.

My eldest (who complains to me when I say I am old) is growing up. She is gaining more experience and strength as I watch. It has been hard to pick her up and move her away from her friends and familiar places. Quietly she has been growing and maturing though. She is handling things in different ways than I would have expected. An example is our visit to the doctor.

We had to go to the doctor for her flu shot, and to check her asthma medication. I was lucky enough to have a friend watch my other daughter. It was a doctor visit, but I actually had fun with her. We waited in the room and talked and laughed. I was able to tease her(She was trying to convince me there was an Indian tribe call the Mohican's who had Mohawks, I kept telling her I KNEW how to contact her 4th grade teacher and would!) She helped me figure out games with me on my new cell phone.

I was reminded of something my parents often tell me. They say that they enjoy talking to me and all my siblings. They love having dinner with us as adults. It is a pleasure to talk to us as adults and dinner companions. I saw a glimmer of that with my 12 year old, and it made me happy. I hope I am able to grow old and help her mature through her teenage years and still be at this positive point. I know it will have it's challenges but I hope it still happens. We can get old together.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Since I left Delaware I have been a little lost. I am continuing to find my bearings but at times I still feel like a fish out of water. I flop hear and there as I find my way around and things to do. I am Dorrie in "Finding Nemo" except I don't always communicate the right way with people because sometimes I don't speak "whale" or "Tennessee Twang", especially when it comes to politics.

I come from Northern Delaware, while not a bastion of liberal politics it was for the most part a moderate democratic community and state.(Ok,OK, I know the whole Christine O'Donnell thing was a bit of a shocker) While living here in Tennessee, I am reminded of a cartoon I saw after the Bush/Gore Election. It was a map of our country. It was divided with the Blue states which voted democratic and the Red that voted republican. The Blue States were labeled "The United States of America". The Red States were labeled "Jesusland". It was funny and expressed the anger so many people felt back then. The country was so divided. I tend not to be a divider but a unifier.

For most of my adult life I have lived in a Blue State. Now I reside in a Red. When I grew up in New Jersey our town was more conservative and republican in it's politics. My dad would run in local races so their would be someone to bring up the issues he wanted or just BE opposition. (Did I mention how my brother liked to stir the pot? I see where he gets it) That is not my way, I quietly go about doing things in my life to best I can to express my beliefs. Although it would be nice to have some type of peer friendship with someone who has my sense of political vision. I was surrounded by it in Delaware and it was wonderful. I had friends who held different political views also and that was fine. I just don't want to fight about it. I was thinking that was how it would end up here.

As fate would have it, I may have found a kindred spirit in a neighbor, she is from Massachusetts. She has lived here longer and I get the sense she too feels like an island of moderate, even liberal politics. Some moms were talking at the bus stop about the cute outfit a child had on. "Oh, I got that at Walmart," a mom said. I said,"I can't shop at Walmart." I got blank stares except from this one new friend, she looked at me and said,"The Union thing right? yeah me too." I almost wanted to hug her. We agreed that it hard to NEVER go there but she does her best. I had to admit I had keys made there the other day. I did not know WHERE else to go. (I texted my sister so she could absolve me of my guilt)

So at the moment I feel a little less alone. I am a blue fish with a friend, we are Two Fish now. Just keep Swimming, Just keep swimming.....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Own Personal Bubble

In another life, and honestly last year, I was a preschool teacher. I LOVE 3 and 4 year olds. They are funny, cuddly, adventuresome, and excited to learn. It takes patience and energy to teach them but it was worth it. In the classroom you have to establish rules in order to keep chaos from reigning. These rules need to be worded in positive language and in term the children will understand.

Last year I had a child who was having some difficulty keeping his hands and feet to himself. He would also lean real close and put his face in someone elses when he sometimes spoke and especially if he was getting frustrated. His mother had a phrase, "Stay in your personal bubble" or she would say,"your invading my personal bubble" I began using it in the classroom. It gave him and all the children a visual image of how to keep a respectful physical space.

In Tennessee I am looking for my phrase to say to some people, "Your in my bubble". Not because people are sitting to close or in my face. In tends to be about religion. As I speak to people, the conversation often turns toward church,"Where they go, what they do, the Christian Education etc." Then they turn to me, "Where do you go? Wouldn't you like to go to OUR church?" I want to say, "Leave me alone. Your in my bubble." But I know this will not fly. So now what?

I gave it some thought and I began to remember something my brother did in college. You have to understand my brother is very creative, very smart, and in his youth stirred the pot when he could. In college he and some friends created a religion. Just to SEE if they COULD. It became a legal religion in New Jersey for 6 years. It was called Norse Brahamanism.

Norse Brahamanism and it's creation has many wonderful stories. I encourage any of you to get my brother to share them if you get the chance to meet him. He reminded me the saying for Norse Brahamanism was "All things are One but some things are more One than others" Things I recall about this religion was that no one was supposed to take it to seriously. Anyone who did got demoted in the faith. It had everything, lore, traditions, and celebrations. As the Christian faith has Easter and Christmas as important holidays. Norse Brahamanism had "The Feast of Ragnarok". The feast was a party held just before "Ragnarok" which was when the Frost Giants would battle the Gods and win. The world would, you know, END.(really I think it was just an excuse for my brother to throw a BIG party) On the occasions it was held at our house I would get to spend the night on the third floor with a friend watching TV and eating junk food. The only rule was, "I had to stay upstairs." I didn't mind,it was fun.

Why do I bring this up? The other part of the story was that this was a religion.(of sorts) I mean ok, they had shirts that said,"Ragnarok is coming, Be There" but my brother could define and defend it as a faith. Just for fun he would tell the Jehovah Witnesses who came to the door. "No thanks, I am a Norse Brahamanist". He could tell them all about it.(if they cared to ask) To that end, I came up with my own phrase instead of "My personal bubble". I think when things are getting to religious I will just think in my head, "Ragnarok is Coming, Be There" and politely excuse myself.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tennesse Twang

Here I am in Tennessee. The feel of it is quite similar to Delaware and also quite different. It is in some ways a new and strange land. An example of this, is the accents, or as it is sometimes called that "southern drawl". Of course I do not have one, nor do I intend to get one, but one thing I am truly having fun learning is some southern lingo.

It all started with the term "Tennessee Talker". As I am a self described "Chatty Cathy", this term intrigued me. Some definitions are,"If you have a 10 minute conversation with every check out person, you're a Tennessee Talker" or "If you talk to the people in line ahead or in back of you, you're a Tennessee Talker". I soon realized I fit into this idea very well.

Other terms and phrases have been making me chuckle. I now have a Tennessee friend on the hunt for southern phrasing, she sits and when we talk she smiles and tosses out little gems so she can make me crack up. I don't think I have a favorite yet but here are a few. "Butter my Butt and Call me a Biscuit!", "He's crazier than a sprayed roach." and "He's uglier than homemade LYE soap." Also, apparently if you try to do something or see someone and can't "it's a miss". As in, "I went to get my favorite fruit at the farmer market but farmer Joe was a miss." I know more of these phrases and terms will keep coming. I'm "a fixin'" to collect them and put them in a book.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

You Like Me, You REALLY, REALLY Like Me

All things take time, this making friends thing is taking to much time. Sometimes I am not so patient. I admit I am slowly meeting people and getting to know them, but I want some FRIENDS. I decided to take a deep breath gave it some thought. I reflected on the times I had to make new friends as an adult in my life.

I am a fairly outgoing person. I went to college, leaving my parents open mouthed and saddened with the parting comment,"Good - bye! I have to go forge new relationships!"(yes, I ACTUALLY said this) I headed off and discovered creative, smart, and terrific people. Most of whom were not even in my major or my classes. During college I also met many people through my job at Kinko's Copies. I am friends with them today and one even introduced me to my husband. College seemed to be so intense that making friends was fast and furious. Over time the relationships strengthened. I recall feeling a little lost my freshman year, which group did I fit into? Did I fit into any? In the end, I made my own little group.

My next leap into meeting new people was my move back to Delaware. In my new home with my soon to be husband I was able to stay in touch with friends from college and make new ones with neighbors. I am now back in touch with them through Facebook! While in Newark, Jack and I met more people through our church.

Meeting people at church took time. I remember hanging around at coffee hour and not being comfortable, not KNOWING anyone. (I also remember being scared of Mrs. Hamilton, but that is a story for another time)Somehow over time it changed. At coffee hour I could not find the time to talk to EVERYONE! I made friends that are like family. As I visit new churches I try to remind myself that it takes time. The newness and uncomfortableness will melt away.

When I moved from Newark to Wilmington I was pregnant. My children launched me into a whole new group of friends. Being a stay at home mom, I worked every angle I could to meet people. One friend recalled how I stopped to talk to her outside as I walked the dog. (I had read an article in Parent Magazine that said when you were at home with children if you saw someone out with their kids, go talk to them, they might be a new friend!)Another friend recalled how I spoke to her at a Stay at home MOMS Club meeting.( I DO like to talk). My neighbor in Delaware recalls how I knocked on her door with treats not long after she moved in. She was at wits end trying to paint, the kids were crazy. I did not mind, all I saw was another stay at home mom! Yeah! So began my new round of friendships.

Now I live in Knoxville. I am walking the dog, meeting neighbors, and trying to find children my own girls age for them to play with. I am proud to say I have 2 Facebook friends from here in Farragut. I even got invited to a neighborhood BBQ. It was like getting a ticket to a Broadway show! We got to meet many new people and who knows - maybe it was my first step toward "forging new relationships"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Circle of Life

The more things change the more they stay the same. A new school year has started and I am once again a stay at home mom. I have come back into the circle of PTA work, cleaning the house, staying on top of things, and of course driving everyone everywhere.

The circle continues with each day repeating homework, karate, and gymnastics. Everyday a new event to get to and return from. Soon we will have basketball, clubs, and Girls on the Run to work into our rotation. Even my driving is done in circles. I take a small circle route down the interstate and back up Kingston Pike for Jenny's gymnastics and a larger loop farther down the highway and back up Kingston Pike for Melissa's Karate. The cycle repeats over and over. Don't get me wrong, I am happy to have my new tasks that are different yet so much the same, but I think the next thing I will work on is expanding my circle of Tennessee friends.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Machine that goes "Ping!"

Technology is a wonderful thing. My increase in gadgets and such has been practically exponential since we arrived in Tennessee. We got an Itouch for our one daughter so she could text with friends, we got a camera and video chat with family and friends, and I got a netbook. I even got a new scale. It is digital. It shows weight and body composition (the best part for me was it said I weighed 10 lbs less than the old scale) It may be broken, but I am keeping it and embracing it's technology! My most recent gadget purchase was an upgraded cell phone. Now I can get emails, surf the web, text, take pictures and you know, talk on it. The phone is like it's own mini - computer.

Oddly enough we already have several computers. Our older desk top computer is now used by our children alone. It sits perched at the desk and lumbers to life when called upon. The poor thing is getting old and often needs rebooted and takes FOREVER to get going. It struggled with adjustment to the wireless network (it used to just plug into the router)now it hi cups and stumbles as it connects with the wireless adapter and finds new IP addresses. My husband will attempt to revive it but I fear it is at it last gasps of life.

I don't miss it. I love my little netbook. I can blog at the gymnastic studio! Of course now that I have my new phone I am to busy checking my facebook status while at gymnastics and karate I don't have time to blog there. Facebook has been a terrific technological tool since I moved here to Tennessee. A young cousin of mine introduced me to the chat function. There I was reading and commenting on things on my page, when up she pops - "Hey! How is it going?" I am old and not tech savvy - I had NO IDEA I could do that friends when online.

So now I am a pro. I started chatting with all sorts of people if they were online the same time as me. The other day it got really bad. I was chatting with my friend on facebook while my new phone pinged (or rather said - DROID, in that creepy voice)every time someone commented on my status or someone elses via facebook. I had to chat, read, comment, and keep checking the phone. It started to get a little overwhelming.

Now don't get me wrong, I still like all my gadgets. I also like the technology for social and other purposes. Here in Tennessee they are very big on technology in the classrooms and for communication. At Open House all you heard was, "Be sure to check the Parent Portal" and "The Parent Portal has grades and all our lesson plans on it." and even one "I am not so good at posting things on the Parent Portal." Due to the size of our schools and the race to embrace technology the school has the "Parent Portal" system in place. I will admit it takes time to navigate but I am learning and hope to get better. My only concern is, what about the techno phobes, or worse, the technology don't haves. If I only had my desk top dinosaur would I be checking things so often? If I had no computer how would I find things out? It seems to be the accepted way things are done here. I just wish technology could make itself available for everyone.