Sweet Shallow Sixteen

Sixty Four

Sixty Four (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daily Prompt:  Sweet Sixteen  When you were 16, what did you think your life would look like? Does it look like that? Is that a good thing?

Really, how far into the future does a sixteen year old girl dare to gaze?  I don’t remember having any lofty aspirations about my future or any definite long-term goals.  The short-term was more than enough to keep me as completely stressed out as only a teenager has the energy to be.

If my sixteen year old self had drawn up a list of things I desperately wanted out of life, I expect it would have looked something like this:

1.  Get drivers license.

2.  Borrow brothers car.

3.  Find a boyfriend who looks like Donovan.

4.  Let hair grow super long.

5.  Get through second year of highschool with marks of 85% and up.

6.  Go on a car date.

7.  Be seriously kissed.

8.  Learn how to roller skate.

9.  Get a summer job.

10.  Buy some nice clothes.

11.  Have a clear complexion and perfect (PERFECT!) make up.  Every day.

12.  Wear panty hose with no runs or snags or holes.

13.  Figure out how to dance without looking like an idiot.

14.  Sit at the back of every class and pop glasses on in emergency situations only when no one is looking.

15.  Avoid all boys with agricultural backgrounds and even the slightest chance of having a farming future.

16.  Think up a really good reason for missing church and convince mom of its validity.

17.  Remember to shave legs

18.  Never ever miss a homework assignment.

19.  Buy enough records to fulfill membership agreement with Columbia Records and then quit before going broke.

20. Stop smiling so much, because it’s making weird crease marks on your face.

Till I See You Again

Till I See You Again (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There’s something to be said for making attainable goals, because I was able to check off every one of these objectives in my sixteenth year, right down to the Donovan-like boyfriend and getting seriously kissed.  Both of which scared me half to death.

When I heard a rumor that classmates thought I was a bit stuck up I decided to start smiling again.  If I’d worn my glasses I would have been able to recognize people from a distance greater than 3 feet, and perhaps that would have made me appear more friendly.  But the truth is I was very self conscious about wearing my glasses, and being shy and half blind can easily be misconstrued as conceit.  I was actually a very nice person, even if I wasn’t all that deep.

It’s impossible to say if my life has become what I wanted it to be then, because I had no clear vision of it beyond getting through high school and living in a city someday at that point.  Maybe I’ve never set the bar high enough, or been ambitious enough, or sufficiently driven and determined to do great things.  But I’ve also never really been disappointed in myself either, or dissatisfied with how things have played out.  Is that a good thing?  I think it is.

Katherines Katherines Everywhere

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

This is the synopsis from Goodreads:

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. He’s also a washed-up child prodigy with ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge Judy-obsessed best friend. Colin’s on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will predict the future of all relationships, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl. Letting expectations go and allowing love in are at the heart of Colin’s hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere.

And here are some memorable quotes:

“That brief walk…….was one of those moments he knew he’d remember and look back on, one of those moments that he’d try to capture in the stories he told. Nothing was happening, really, but the moment was thick with mattering.”

“Well, while you were in the bathroom, I sat down at this picnic table here in Bumblefug, Kentucky, and noticed that someone had carved that GOD HATES FAG, which, aside from being a grammatical nightmare, is absolutely ridiculous. So I’m changing it to ‘God Hates Baguettes.’ It’s tough to disagree with that. Everybody hates baguettes.”  “J’aime les baguettes,” Colin muttered.  “You aime lots of stupid crap.”  (Hassan)

“Even if it’s a dumb story, telling it changes people just the slightest little bit, just as living the story changes me. An infinitesimal change. And that infinetisimal change ripples outward —ever smaller but everlasting. I will get forgotten, but the stories will last. And so we all matter —maybe less than a lot, but always more than none.” 

I had never read anything by John Green before, but this book was funny and easy to read and I think I might just go looking to see what else he’s been up to.

Assoil Us From Rainforest Homebrew

Rainforest pool ferns. Australia.

Rainforest pool ferns. Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Daily Prompt   Free Association

Write down the first words that come to mind when we say . . .

. . . home.

. . . soil.

. . . rain.

Use those words in the title of your post.

I’m totally cheating on this one, because the first thing I thought of was ‘ what happens when it rains on insects who make their home in the soil?”  But I couldn’t really make myself care enough about that to take it any further. They get wet and wallow around in the mud for a while.  And that’s that.

My second choice could be beautiful words taken from a prayer.  Assoil is archaic and kind of biblical sounding, meaning to absolve or free.  And people pray for the rainforests while at the same time frowning on excessive alcohol consumption.  So who could not totally elaborate on all that?

 

Not the Lords Prayer

Our male person who dwells in Utopia

(What was your name again?)

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,

In paradise and our own backyards.

May we all have what we need to survive today,

May we all forgive and be forgiven

(especially for blasphemous nonsense which ultimately means no harm)

Please don’t mess with our minds making us do even stupider things than we can dream up on our own to do,

Assoil us from rainforest homebrew and similar evils,

Because we are all small parts of the big picture and the power and the glory

And would not like to be responsible for messing things up,

Now and forever and ever,

Amen.

(Ummm….no, I haven’t been into the wine yet today.  Why would you ask me that?)

Just the Facts

just the factsAnyone remember Dragnet and Joe Friday?  It was one of the first television shows I ever watched.  This guy was always trying to get people to stop voicing their opinions and making wild assumptions about whatever crime he was investigating, and just stick to the facts.  Week after week he had to keep reminding them.  So just for you Joe, five random facts about my day. (With some opinions and wild assumptions thrown in.  Sorry, it’s human nature.  You should know that by now.)

1.  One of the best mood lifters in the world for me is to go to work leaving my house looking like pigs live in it and come home to find it sparkling clean.  I do pay for this miraculous service and believe me,  it is worth every single penny.

2.  I have been studiously ignoring January and not bothering to hate it.  If it does pop into my head I just make a quiet wish for it to go away.  Look how well this is working for me!  It’s over half gone already!

3. There is no kind and polite way to tell someone her kid is a little shit.  Chances are she suspects it already anyway.  (This particular darling boy had two pairs of mangled glasses that looked like they’d been in a food processor.  On high.)  Mom wanted to know why they were such a mess.  I’m pretty sure she didn’t really want to hear my honest opinion so I kept it to myself.  Her child will probably grow out of the glasses mangling stage at some point in his life.

4.  Someone found my blog by searching for “fish hair“.  For once in my life I am at a loss for words.

5.  The temperature outside is two degrees above freezing.  What month is this again??  Back to normal and 18 below (celsius) by Sunday.  Sometimes normal sucks.  But that’s okay.

WOOHOO!  Tomorrow is FRIDAY, Joe Friday.  And that’s a fact.

Homeward

The Hague Jazz 2009 - Rod McKuen

The Hague Jazz 2009 – Rod McKuen (Photo credit: Haags Uitburo)

Thank you Seeker for sharing this song, Homeward, by Rod McKuen with me in yesterdays comments about going home.  The lyrics are wonderful – but we would expect no less from such a great song writer and poet.

This morning I picked W up from the airport and lost count of the times he said “It’s good to be home.”

If you’re one of those people who can’t wait to get the hell away from home, this song will be a depressing one for you.  Sorry.  But if you’re a complete home-body like me, you will appreciate knowing that no matter where you go, you are always going home.  Or homeward bound.  Or about to be home alone.   Home, home, home sweet home.

Tomorrow I promise I will not talk about home again.  Even though it appears to be one of my favourite subjects of all time.

Who Says You Can Never Go Home Again?

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”  Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

The west veranda at the farm.

The west veranda at the farm.

This is such a simple picture, and yet it brings back a flood of memories for me, even though it was taken on a day when I’m sure I wasn’t even there.  My dad was the only one in his family who made his living by farming.  His siblings were teachers and nurses and professionals, and ended up living in towns and cities.  And all of them – every one – came to visit him and mom here with their families.  If they hadn’t, we would never have known all our aunts and uncles and cousins so well, because running a farm means almost never getting away for trips much longer than a day.  But if the relatives wanted to come and stay?  They were welcomed with open arms.  We had lots of room and the doors were always open.  No offer of help was every refused.  You might end up peeling the potatoes or shelling the peas for your dinner, but you never went away hungry.

The garage is on the far left, then dad, mom, the window to the den, Aunt Lorna, the main door, Aunt Marie, the edge of the big kitchen window, extra lawn chairs, a strange looking wooden whirly decoration that twisted in the breeze, flower beds gone wild.  That little thing hanging on the bricks that resembles a bird house is a box that held a pencil and some notepaper.  On it was written “If at home you do not find us, leave a note that will remind us.”  I once pointed out to my mother that it didn’t make any sense.  If you were away from home, surely you knew that already and didn’t need a reminder of it.  I was just being a mouthy teenager.  But I still think the message is stupid.  And I don’t know why I’ve never forgotten it.

The view to the west was of maple trees bordering the laneway, the bank down to the pond, and fences and fields as far as you could see.    Those numerous round white dots that look like holes are actually real holes in the photograph.  It’s been pinned up to a cork board and shuffled around a lot, stuffed in a box, lost for awhile.  And then it made its way to me.  In this shot it looks like the veranda floor has had some repairs and a new coat of paint.  I remember it being a steely blue grey with loose boards you could lift up and hide things under.  I don’t remember dad ever saying he was tired of nailing them back down.

It’s a summer afternoon, dinner is over, the dishes have been washed and put away, and it’s just too nice to sit inside.  If there are kids around, they’re off climbing trees or throwing sticks for the dog, or gathering firewood for the bonfire in the backyard after the sun goes down.  I can almost hear dads voice, saying something profound in a lazy off-hand manner.  Mom saying “Oh, Hank”, and laughing,  Aunt Lorna’s droll observations (we never knew if she meant to be funny or not) and Aunt Marie’s infectious giggles.

The farm was sold years ago.  We drove by it last October and saw the changes.  The front veranda has been closed in, the barn is being torn down, the gigantic garden has gone to grass.  The house is so old I’m surprised it’s still standing.  It’s just another old building to me now.  It hasn’t been ”home” for a very long time.

And yet in my heart it will always be home whenever I remember all the people who were part of it, and who made it come so alive with laughter and fun.  I’ve had a lot of homes in my life and I carry parts of every one of them with me. The pictures in my head are as vivid as the real ones.  I can visit them anytime I choose, simply by remembering the people I loved who lived there with me, and loved me back.

You Can Always Start Over From Here

Daily Post Writing Challenge:  Starting Over

Same Old Brand New You

Same Old Brand New You (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starting over in time is not possible no matter how fervently you might wish for it.  Time marches on, and do-overs of your past are nothing more than head games.  Stop torturing yourself with regrets, wondering how things might have turned out if you had done them differently.  You can’t change where you’ve been, but you can start now and head off in a different and better direction.  Starting over means starting from where you are now.  Here’s a starting over list to get you started.

1.  You can’t go back and start your childhood over again.  For one thing, your parents are too old for that now and would never be able to keep up with you.  And it’s just too difficult to find onsies in your size.

But you can still  build a fort out of the couch cushions, color a picture with your crayons and tack it up on your fridge, or leap from one piece of furniture to another to avoid the lava and the monsters whenever you feel like it.  Try not to break your neck – you’re not five years old anymore.  But no matter what age you are,  it’s still okay to cry when things go wrong.  You can still  laugh hard and play hard and love with all your heart.

2.  You can never take back the words you’ve spoken, or written, or sent by text.  Once they’ve left your mouth or your pen or your fingers, they will forever belong to whoever heard or read them.  They have power.  Will they be hurtful or helpful?  It’s not possible to un-say something, so try very hard to get it right the first time.  When all else fails, blame temporary insanity and auto-correct.

3.  You can’t unbreak things.  But you can try to mend them.  As in the case of ‘hearts’ for instance.  But if we’re talking about some piece of crap junk that never worked right in the first place, save yourself some grief and agony and get a new one.  It’s only a thing.  It won’t hold a grudge.

4.  Baking cannot be unburned.  But there are windows you can open to let the smoke out.

5. If you are a parent who has your childs best interests at heart, you still will not always do or be what they need most.  Forgive yourself.  You are human and you will make mistakes.  Learn from both your kids and your blunders, start over from here and try to do better.

6. If it’s not possible to start over in a new job, start making small changes that will help to make your present job easier.  You can’t change the people you work with, but you can change the way you act and react with them.  You can change your attitude.  I’m not suggesting it’s easy to do that, but I am telling you it’s not impossible.

7.  You might not be in a financial position to burn your house down and rebuild it, but you can start over in one room, or in one small section of a room, and renovate and reorganize and revamp until you’re so happy with the results you want to spend all your home time in that exact spot.  Well, you know, within reason.  Hopefully we’re not discussing a closet here.

8.  It may be a little late in your life to start over with a brand new career, but it is never too late to learn a new skill or to change the path you’re on.  It’s never too late to teach someone else the things you know.

Brand New Day

Brand New Day (Photo credit: Tim Albano)

9.  You can’t start over from the beginning and have a better relationship with somebody.  And it’s a very sad thing to discover that the person you wanted to be closer to has suddenly gone from your life and that you will never have the chance to work on that relationship and to know him better.  Learn, learn, learn from this.  Don’t wait for the bond to miraculously form on its own, start working on it now.

10.  You can never start over and take better school pictures of yourself and change that geeky face that only a mother could love.  You can’t re-write your high school year books or change who your friends were or any of the decisions you made as a young adult.  But you can learn to love the person you were, and know that the choices you made then are the reasons you have become who you are now.

Right this minute, tomorrow morning, next week – you can start over from wherever you happen to be.  The changes do not have to be sudden or tumultuous.  Second chances and new beginnings can start small, and from deep within.

This is where you’ve landed – now spread your wings and fly.

And So We Let The Great World Spin

…because doing that is easier than trying to get it to stop spinning, I guess. At least we haven’t managed that one yet.

let the great world spin colum mccann

When I first saw Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann reviewed on Amazon I was dismayed to learn that it wasn’t yet available on Kindle.  So I had to WAIT FOR IT.  Sheeesh.  I’m much better at instant gratification than I am at being patient.  I waited so long I eventually forgot about it.  And then when I came across it by accident finally listed in the Kindle store a few days ago I downloaded it right away without even trying to remember what my reasons were for thinking I would like it in the first place.

Well, good thing I’m boring as dirt consistantly predictable and don’t change my mind a lot because the book did turn out to be exactly the kind of story that kept me happily reading all the way to the brilliant end.  I’ll admit there was a moment of panic when one section ended and another began and I was completely lost with a brand new cast of characters who seemed to be completely unrelated to the previous set.  I’m not normally a big fan of back to back short stories because of my deeply ingrained need to know what happens next.  But here the stories and the people are all linked in simple or intricate ways;  their lives converge and overlap, and the actions of this one or that one send out ripples which will ultimately affect the actions or even the fate of someone else.  It’s the kind of thing we see every day of course –  action, reaction, watch the dominoes fall.

In New York City, August 1974, Phillipe Petit walked back and forth across a cable between the World Trade Center towers.   This real life event is not necessarily the central focus of the book, but it is the thread that holds it all together.  There is a street priest from Dublin, his brother, his lover, heroin addicts, hookers, mothers who have lost sons to the Vietnam war, artists, computer hackers, cops, and a Park Avenue judge.  And I’m sure I’ve missed more than I’ve mentioned here.  Ordinary people who are capable of extraordinary things.

The book is beautifully written and was well worth the wait. There are some very quotable quotes throughout.  Enjoy this little sampling.  And if you decide to read the whole book, I think you will enjoy that too.

“It was my earliest suggestion of what my brother would become, and what I’d
later see among the cast-offs of New York—the whores, the hustlers, the
hopeless—all of those who were hanging on to him like he was some bright
hallelujah in the shitbox of what the world really was.”

“There are rocks deep enough in this earth that no matter what the rupture, they
will never see the surface. There is, I think, a fear of love. There is a fear
of love.”

“The intrusion of time and history. The collision point of stories. We wait for
the explosion but it never occurs. The plane passes, the tightrope walker gets
to the end of the wire. Things don’t fall apart.”