Reflections of 2018

Is it too late to write a blog post where I reflect upon 2018? (Is it reflect upon or reflect on? I don’t know. I’m too lazy to look it up. Anyway…)

Probably.

In fact, I think it’s one of the reasons I was never successful as a blogger. Well, there are many reasons. But I won’t bore you with all of them today. (And yes, boring you is probably one of them. Whatever. Moving on.)

It’s because I was never very topical. Whatever the topic of the day (hour, minute) other bloggers were writing about, I was always late to the party. I tend to let things like life and family (and general blaziness) get in the way of getting my butt in the chair to write.

I did sit down the first day of the year to relax and read my 2018 Happiness Journal to reflect on (upon?) the year that had just passed us and to set an intention for the year ahead.

Some wonderful things happened in 2018. Chandler turned 21. Marley turned 18, graduated high school and went on a trip to London and Edinburgh. I went to Stagecoach for the 6th year in a row and was back up in the VIP section. (Whoo Hoo!) I took on new responsibilities at work and got to travel to Las Vegas, Vancouver, Denver, Illinois, Texas (twice), Washington (twice), and Nashville. (Nashville! Squee!) Dave joined me on the Denver trip to mix pleasure with business and my friend Rita joined me when the work part of my Nashville trip ended and I extended the trip into an awesome girls’ weekend.

And some unspeakably terrible things happened. The Borderline shooting. The sad and sick truth is that everyone in this country knows what it feels like to wake up to the news of a mass shooting. But I have to tell you something. When it happens in your town it feels different. Because you were just at that nightclub having the time of your life two weeks beforehand. Because it was College Night and at least three of your friends had kids who were invited to go to the club but didn’t (thank God).  Because your daughter knew one of the twelve people who were murdered. It’s different. And for those of you who don’t live here I hope it’s a difference you never have to feel.

And then less than 24 hours later the Woolsey Fire raged through our town. Before we had a chance to get over the shock of the shooting (let alone even begin the process of grieving) we had to evacuate our homes. My family was lucky. The fire came to our back hill, but not to our house. Just down the street, starting four doors down there are three houses that suffered damage. Some of my friends are still displaced due to damaged homes. Some of my friends lost their homes completely.

backyard burn marks after woolsey fire
My hill after the fire – if you look closely at the Eucalyptus tree, you can see where it was on fire.

When I reflect on (I actually think I can use on or upon) 2018 I think a lot about luck. I’m lucky that I was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m lucky that the wind did not shift towards my house when the fire was on my back hill. I’m lucky to live in a community that has grown stronger in the wake of two terrible tragedies.

Every morning I try to sit down a think about the day before and focus on the one small (or sometimes big) moment that made me happiest. It teaches me to be grateful when life is stressful or busy or boring or wonderful or even terrible. To find light even when the tunnel is so long and so, so dark. And to not take for granted the light that shines brightly when it does so many days (weeks, months) in a row.

Here are some of my 2018 happy moments:

January 5 I took the day off work and spent it with Chandler. We went shopping and had a sushi lunch and visited Tom and Lisa. At the end of the day he hugged me and said thank you and that he liked spending the day with me.

February 8 I wore bright Kelly green pants and a pink shirt to work today and it made me feel cheery.

February 17 Dinner at Larson’s with Dale. It was so great to see her. She’s such an awesome person and I need to be a better friend and see her more often.

March 9 Writers’ Group at Julie’s. And Lexi was there – yay! Julie gave us HER BOOK! Holding Lily in my own hands filled me with so much joy!

March 14 Watching Marley’s speech on National Student Walkout Day. My daughter is a rockstar.

national student walkout day speech
A rockstar in the making.

April 6 I was walking Geordie and a saw a man coming home from work. When he opened his door I heard a little boy yell, “Daddy!” Oh how I remember that. Such joy! How wonderful!

April 21 Writers’ Group was brought to a whole other level – karaoke! I sang Lady Antebelum’s A Kiss Goodnight and it was magic!

April 27 Stagecoach. Those first steps walking into the pit and the excitement of the beat of the music pounding in my chest.

midland stagecoach
My view of Midland in the pit at Stagecoach. You’re welcome.

May 20 My mom had a 100 year party for my grandparents and I had a happy/sad moment when I realized how much my grandmother would have loved that party – to be honored like that. I miss them.

June 8 Hugging Chandler. Breakfast with Chandler. The four of us in one room. Chandler is home.

June 15 Marley graduated high school. Hearing her name called was sublime. She was so happy and proud of herself. And I’m so happy for her.

graduation cap and gown
Look out world, here she comes.

July 5 Dinner alone at the hotel bar in Vancouver. A cute bartender/server. Delicious food. An eight ounce glass of wine. Heaven.

July 14 Hanging with Dave in Denver. Reconnecting. So nice to have a mini-vacay.

August 2 Talking to Marley after dinner about music and watching her eyes light up. Priceless.

August 19 Concerts in the Park with Mary. Drinking Sangria. Talking to friends. Loving my town.

September 23 Breakfast tacos with Rhiannon. A long solo walk on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Wine at an airport bar. I had a lovely, lovely day.

October 19 Borderline with Rita, Keri, and Linda for Jerrod Niemann. Country music – even when you don’t know the songs it makes you feel so good. (This one really breaks my heart.)

borderline
Our last night at Borderline.

November 5 My dad and I had to run an errand and he opened the car door for me and I remembered that is something that he does. Such a small gesture, but so nice and it made me happy to have stirred up that memory.

November 18 When I got home from writing group (after midnight) Marley and Hunter had made a very elaborate fort and were laying in it watching TV. Oh how I love that!

December 23 There was a time in the afternoon when we were all together in the house. Marley and I were baking cakes and I just had such a warm, happy feeling that we were all together. Home.

I’d love to hear from you. What do you think of when you reflect on (or upon) 2018?

backyard after the woolsey fire
My backyard last week – new growth (and hope) after the fire.

Sing, Sing a Song

Every month my writing group has a 10 minute writing prompt. The following is my unedited response from our May meeting prompt. (I would have posted it sooner, but I accidentally left it at Kim’s house and just got it back. Sorry to make you wait.)

The prompt: Write a story about someone who can’t get a song out of their head.

“Sing, sing a song. Sing out loud. Sing out strong. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing. Sing a song.”

Yes.

That is the song that has been stuck in my head. For years.

What the fuck?

I mean, literally. What. The. Fuck. With all the concerts I go to and all the music I listen to, some stupid AC hit from the 70’s is the song i sing to myself in the shower every day. When I’m waiting in line at the market. Doing the dishes. Walking my dog.

Is that song from the 70’s? Was it even a hit? Did they play it on the radio? You remember it, don’t you? La-la-la-la-la. La-la-la-la-la. La-la-la-la-la-la. Just sing. Sing a song.

Why? That song is so stupid. I don’t even know who sang it.

Maybe it was just a stupid Coke commercial or something. Great. I’m so basic I don’t even have a real song stuck in my head.

But.

Maybe.

Maybe it isn’t stupid.

That line. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing. Sing a song.

Like writing a shitty first draft. Sort of. Just sing. Just write. Don’t worry if it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear.

Just sing. Or just write.

Sing a song. Or, you know. Write another fucking book already. Or at least a blog post.

*I was informed by Laurel in my writing group that Sing A Song was indeed a hit in the 70’s, by the Carpenters. (Oh and also, they covered it as it was originally written for Sesame Street.) I really have to find a new song to get stuck in my head.

 

What’s Your Aha Moment?

Unedited ten minute writing prompt from my last writers’ group meeting. The prompt: Describe “that moment”. 

Oprah says you’ll have an “Aha moment.”

“What was your Aha Moment?” she asks. As if I’m supposed to know. But the truth is, I haven’t had one yet. It seems Oprah’s had a ton of Aha Moments, so who knows – maybe she stole mine.

“I made cauliflower mashed potatoes,” she says on TV. “Get them at your local supermarket.”

Oprah-Oh-that's-good-garlic-mashed-potatoes

But I searched my Vons high and low and I could not find those fucking cauliflower mashed potatoes anywhere. Maybe it’s because I’m a Trader Joe’s shopper.

So it seems not only can I not find my Aha Moment, I can’t even find Oprah’s Aha Moment even though it’s advertised on national television. During prime time.

There have been times I thought I’ve had an Aha Moment. AHA! That’s what I’m going to do. This or that or fill in the blank, but I’ve never done any of those things. I don’t even remember what any of them were because I didn’t do them. Aha meet blazy.* Blazy is the winner.

So that moment? I’m still waiting for it. Maybe I’ll find it one day in Vons next to Oprah’s cauliflower mashed potatoes.

 

*Blazy is a term my writing group came up with that means being blasé about your laziness.

What Happens in Writers’ Group Gets Turned into a Blog Post

“I like your hair like that, Mom,” Marley said to me the morning after my last writers’ group.

I had it pulled to the side in a low ponytail with a piece hanging free in what I hoped was a oh-this-piece-just-won’t-stay-back messy curl, not a perfectly-curly-cued bridesmaidy curl.

“Are you making fun of me or do you really like it?” I asked. Marley can be sarcastic. And I wasn’t particularly feeling like my appearance was compliment-worthy.

“I really like it,” she said.

“Oh good. Thanks,” I answered.

I liked it, but I thought maybe I was trying to look too young. I wasn’t. I was just trying to look put together and semi-professional on a day I did not have time to fix my hair because of this:

wine bottles
Writers’ Group Math: bottles of wine(5) = snooze button(100)

This is what happens at writers’ group.

There are six of us in case you’re wondering. Though, to be fair two of the bottles were already open and already half-empty, so we really only drank four.

“So 3/4 of a bottle of wine each?” Dave pointed out to me.

“Uh, no. More like 2/3. What kind of lushes do you think we are?” I replied.

Jeez!

We meet once a month to discuss our goals, share our victories (and failures), support each other and give advice (like actual, useful, requested advice instead of buttinsky-who-asked-you-anyway advice). We also do a ten minute writing exercise each month chosen randomly from a writing prompt app. (Oh yes, there is an app for everything.)

Our writing prompt this month was “List 10 Reasons for not Showering for a Week” and we all laughed because Julie was coming late due to Back to School Night and would be missing the prompt portion of our meeting. And while I’m sure Julie has never gone a week without showering (probably), she doesn’t shower every day. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure none of us showers every day except for Laurel who sometimes showers twice a day (maybe to make up for our unshowering), but I’m only calling out Julie because she’d tell you herself. (Kim, Rina and Lexi might not want you to know their showering habits.)

The pieces were all funny and clever (because we are all funny and clever) and we had a good time with it.

Some of my reasons for not showering?

  • We are in a drought, people!
  • Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • It saves electricity – no need to blow dry.
  • It saves gas. In fact, I read in the book Gorgeously Green that the number one energy killer in a house was using gas to heat water. Or something like that. I read that book a long time ago. But the foreward was written by Julia Roberts, who won an Oscar for playing Erin Brockvich so whatever I read about using a lot of gas to heat water must be true. (Yeah, not a lot of logic goes into my 10 minute writing prompts.)
  • If I run I have to shower. (It seems like the polite thing to do.) So no showering = no running. For a week! Yay!

Alright, I admit, perhaps my reasons for not showering for a week are not that funny and clever. I think I was the weak link on this writing prompt.

And while I would never go an entire week without showering (unless I was camping), I did find it a bit serendipitous that the day after a writing prompt about not showering I went to work without showering and got a compliment from my daughter about my hair.

I’ll have to add that reason to my list.

cute-wine-cork
There is no reason for this picture, but seriously, how could I not post it?