Random thoughts & musings of a Michigan newlywed... Look out, I'm changing the world!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Feeling Naked

Blogging is an intensely personal thing in an incredibly public forum.

I see this as both practice and therapy: practice, because it keeps me writing, and therapy for the obvious venting option. I also like the idea that someday, possibly someone will read what I'm writing and either relate to it or just flat-out like it. When I wrote for Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, the very best part of it all was being IMed by that eighth-grader who had gotten something from what I'd written. As teensy as that was, I felt validated--like what I had to say mattered.

And yet. Despite the enthusiasm I feel for this forum, I catch myself censoring what I want to say, what I'd like to say, simply for the panic-inducing fact of "what if someone knows it's me?" This has not ever been more obvious to me than it was last night, when my husband told me that he'd told a friend about my blog. I swear I felt my life screech to a halt right then and there.
"You what?"
"I told him..." he sees my indignant look. "Well, what? He thinks it's cool."

Cool indeed. Well, then of course he wanted to know my web address. I didn't tell him; I couldn't bring myself to. It's so darn personal here... and what could make that more obvious than my reluctance to share it with the person I am closest to? I mean, he's my husband... he knows everything. There is nothing I could share here he wouldn't know about. So, I may as well take the plunge and bare my soul to him... since I've decided to share it with the world at large! ; )

So I am posting this, and then I will email him a link because why hide it? So babe, if you're reading... be careful with me, as this makes me incredibly vulnerable to you. Enjoy what you see!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Don't Worry, Be Happy

What is happiness worth? Is happiness worth sacrificing “prestige”? Neither really has any tangible value, so which should a person assign importance to?

This is the question I have been faced with several times in my life, most recently concerning my husband’s career. As we always have, we chose personal happiness. This will probably come at the great skepticism and worry of our respective families and friends, the wonder of why we’re “wasting” our lives.

My husband worked for a somewhat large manufacturing corporation. He was a welder, and he made decent money doing it. But he was not happy. He was unhappier still when the company announced its new “2 days off per year” program—this was for sick, vacation, all of it, with or without doctor’s notes. Impressive, is it not? He was unhappier still when the people around him started to be written up for going to the bathroom. Rumors of layoffs started to fly. Then it was required that they be at their line fifteen minutes early, unpaid. He fought all of this at first, then began to laugh about it.

Then they wanted to move him to second shift.

This was a concept he would not accept. To move to second shift would be to forfeit all his time coaching. It would mean a total end to the entrepreneurial work he is doing. It would mean a marriage that was, essentially, two ships passing in the night: me working 7:45am—5pm, he working 3:30pm—11:30pm. This would be second shift, seven days a week. This he would not accept. This, after much discussion between us, he turned down, leaving him jobless for the second time in our short marriage.

And I am glad. I am so glad. I am proud to be married to a man who will not accept something that is less than what he’s worth, something that is less than the sum of his dreams. We are too young for that.

More than likely, the solution to this problem will be found in part-time work. My husband is going to go back to being a bartender. And I couldn’t be happier.

It’s not prestigious, and it’s certainly not going to make a lot of family members happy. It’s really not going to satisfy those confused well-wishers we meet occasionally who can’t understand why we aren’t in school, why we didn’t finish those degrees. But it satisfies us; it takes us closer to the life we’re working for. That’s not something that we can expect anyone to understand. And that’s okay.

I am putting my time in now, working, so that my husband can do the work he needs to do in order to allow me to come home and stay home when we have children. And that’s okay with me. I am glad to do this work now, to be able to get that awesome gift of time home later. I want to be able to give to my children what my mom was able to give me: undivided time, attention and love. Even now, I know that she is always there for me, no questions asked. I want to give my children that same security. That’s what we’re working for… that’s what, strangely, bartending will help to accomplish. A means to an end. It’s really just another detour in this journey we’re taking together, this journey that has been full of surprises, good and bad, but still more fulfilling than anything I’ve ever attempted.

And yet… How do you explain that to others? What do you say when others look and see only a life that has drifted far off course from where it should have been? Is that my own, self-imposed judgment born of the awkwardness I feel when I have no impressive answer for the “What are you doing now?” query?

I don’t have answers to any of these questions, only the faith that what we’re doing is right, regardless of the view of others. This is just another leg in the journey that we are taking together. It is an unexpected detour, yes, but one that will ultimately take us to the destination we can’t yet see. We don’t know where we’re going yet, but we know that God has a plan for us that is greater than our own.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

five months since a funeral

I miss you. I thought that I would write a letter, because that’s what I’ve always done this time of year. If things were normal and right, I would be sending off your last letter about now, excited about the prospect of seeing you and Grandma again at Easter. I remember what that was like, when we were all little. Seeing the trailer back in your yard, there by the shed, would be such a great feeling. Usually we’d spy it there on our way home from school. It always made me feel like I was “home” again, as though all was right again. I’d know spring was coming, and then summer, and with it my favorite times of memory-making: bike rides, cookouts at Father’s Day, ball games in the yard, and time spent sharing a pop on the spring. Whenever Jimmy and I would ride our bikes over, you’d always insist on some sort of treat.

I’m sorry that I didn’t spend more time with you this summer. I can’t put into words how sorry I am, so I hope that where you are you can read my heart and know. I was so wrapped up in myself, in getting married and then adjusting to being a wife, that I just let everything else slide. I have such regret over that, and I know that you’ve heard the “if only”s spoken. I’m so sorry for that. If only I had known… but I didn’t. No one did, I guess, except maybe you. Did you know? My mind might be playing tricks on me looking back, but it seems now that your hugs were longer, that you seemed reluctant to let go. But that’s probably just my mind, urging me to see what I never could have.

That day you left, it was so beautiful out. The perfect sort of weather for you, I thought. Beet season finished, and the most beautiful sort of day as a reward. I thought that appropriate, that your rest would come on a day so perfect. Jimmy and I were driving home from church that morning, and were literally talking about coming to see you and Grandma, that we should go to Mom and Dad’s and grab bikes and ride over, since we’d done so little of that over the summer. That’s when I got the call, just as we were talking of you. I wonder, were you listening? What prompted us out of the blue to think of the two of you? I wonder what you watched that day, if you could watch us all reacting. I hope that we made you proud. I tried to be strong, but I wasn’t. How could I be, a cornerstone of my childhood gone? Now that you’re gone, I see what you were to me. In my mind, if my life were a building, with experiences as bricks, I see you and Grandma, Mom and Dad, as four cornerstones. My sisters, I see now, they are also important in the foundation of my life. I wish I could tell you all this in person, tell you how much you mean to me still, and how grateful I am for your presence. I hope you hear me now.

We played ball in the afternoon after your funeral. It was Becky’s idea, I think, while we were all still at the luncheon. We grandkids all sat at a table, separated, just as though it were Christmas or any other normal family gathering. It made me smile, to be separated like that even then. It was comforting. But anyway we all decided that you would have liked a game of ball that day—it was a beautiful day. So that’s what we did—changed out of good clothes and went to your house and played ball and attempted to eat all that food. I missed you then, too.

I think of you often. Last night I was sad again, truly sad again for the first time in a while. Since you left in October, I have had ups and downs. Some days are better than others, as they always say—some days I can be happy for you, and grateful that I’m sure you’ve found your place with God. Other days, like yesterday, I am sad and selfish, wishing for just one more hug, one more hour spent on the swing. In moments of thoughtlessness, I sometimes forget you’re gone. Then the rose Mom had preserved from your casket catches my eye, or I remember that Sunday all in a rush, and the loss comes again, as new as that first hour. The desperation to turn back the clock comes often.

I have your picture on the refrigerator. You’d probably think that was strange, but it makes me happy, to have your face there in the midst of everyday things. You are laughing in the picture; it’s Christmas. Your smile is a constant reminder of the person I should be: kind and patient, hardworking and faithful to God and my family.

I try not to cry at your grave, because I know that you wouldn’t have liked that a bit. But it’s such a dirty trick, coming to talk to you and having no answer but the wind across the expanse of field, some birds lending noise. I don’t feel you there. I feel you so many places, but not there. I feel you in the garage at your house, and outside in the stillness of morning, I feel you.

“between now and then, until I see you again, I’ll be loving you… love, me”

On the bandwagon...

I'm officially on the blog bandwagon.

I've been blathering about it for weeks now, about how I'm going to start one to keep in shape for the time when my writing is going to keep me rich and famous... here's the start.

What's that corny thing they always say at high school graduations? A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step... Here's my step.

; )