Saturday, August 28, 2010

Breathe in. Breathe out. Move on.

On August 29, 2005, I was living in a suburb of Baton Rouge. Ray and I had prepared as best we could for the approaching storm, Hurricane Katrina. We lost power in the early morning and lost a tree later in the day. We heard from folks with generators that it looked like New Orleans had escaped the worst. Then I remember we began hearing reports that the levees had failed. We gathered at a neighbor's house and watched the news coverage on their TV. To say that it was heartbreaking really doesn't scratch the surface.

In the days that followed the storm, rumors flew through Baton Rouge. They ranged from the mundane - was Wal-Mart open yet - to the frightening - a group of marauders was looting the city. The rumors out of New Orleans were all frightening: bodies piling up, raping and murdering in the Convention Center, the risk of cholera, and on and on.

Life began to move on in Baton Rouge, but we were dealing with an infrastructure that was already strained before the storm and was now to the point of bursting with the evacuees. Commute times doubled. Shelves were often bare or barely stocked. Our stress in the Baton Rouge metro area in no way equaled the heartbreak and hardship of those in New Orleans, but when you're in the thick of it, it's kind of hard to see that.

Little did I know that the Fall of 2005 was about to get a whole lot worse for me.

Hurricane Katrina, a new job, Hurricane life was hopping and I was just barely keeping up. Then - to keep with the theme of that time - an emotional flood hit and damn near washed everything I knew and loved away: my parents, married for almost 34 years, revealed that they were separating.

At first I foolishly thought, "Oh, this won't bother me and my own little family. I'm a grown up after all." Um, yeah, right. With every personal (and inappropriate) revelation from my parents, the foundations of my world began to crack and then completely fail. So many things I held true and strong were shown to be rotting facades: my parents didn't love each other and the small town that I had thought almost perfect was actually a hotbed of hypocrisy and infidelity. My emotional life pretty much mirrored the devastated, flood-ravaged streets of the Lower Ninth.

Five years later, I'd like to be able to write that I'm completely healed, but I can't. I'm better, though. Like New Orleans, parts of me are whole even if the whole isn't. My own marriage and my commitment to it are stronger than ever. I can read books again. The nightmares are less. I hope New Orleans and I can both say after the next five years, "Oh that? I'm so over it."

For now, I'll follow Jimmy Buffett's advice: Breathe in, breathe out, move on.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Finding Joy Friday

It was such a huge relief to admit my lack of happiness last week, and ever since then, it's been much easier to find joyful things. Here's a quick recap of a few of this week's moments of joy:

Ray air conducting the William Tell Overture. We were driving down to Foley for the weekend, and this came on Ray's play list. He really got into it, and the kids thought it was hilarious.

How happy my friend Erica looked at her bridal shower. Her sisters and sister-in-law put on a great shower with yummy food (I think Amelia hit the food tables no less than five times). Erica looked beautiful and so happy.

Amelia's Curriculum Night at Richland Elementary. No one can top Miss Mangum from last year, but I'm so pleased with Amelia's teacher and impressed with everything they're going to learn this year. It was also really nice to have some alone time with Ray even if it was just going to and from the school.

I'd love to hear what's making you happy this week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nature Play

Now that the mornings aren't unbearably hot, Jack and I set out for the Forest Ecology Preserve's Nature Park. If you live in Auburn and haven't been there, you're really missing out. It's fun and shady.

First Jack had to check out the mushrooms. They were beautiful. You can't really see from the picture, but the center was a lovely brown dot with smaller dots running in straight lines from the center. I'm thinking I'd like a swirly skirt that looked like that.

Then Jack was off to the sand pit (big surprise, not really). I love that they have kid-sized shovels, rakes, and hoes. Jack loved it, too. And I squeezed in a little knitting on my Daily Sweater swatch.

We had snack in the tree house and watched ants carry off crumbs as big as they were. Jack's OCD tendencies came out, and he had to clean some sap off the rails.

We climbed into a hut covered with dead branches and slid out the other side, jumped on rocks and climbed over logs. Watched a skink and a lizard and another ant carrying a tiny dead grasshopper (very cool).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Finding Joy Friday (on Thursday)

So, all summer I've been a bit of a mollygump, our family's word for mild depression, ennui, doldrums and general grumpiness. I was not a joyful mommy, and this made me really sad. In all fairness, it probably made everyone around me sad. Then the other morning Ray took the kids to the zoo to give me a break. I decided to write about this joy problem in my languishing blog. At the same time I couldn't get that Lucinda Williams song (you know the one that goes "you took my joy") out of my head. I wrote several whiny paragraphs lamenting the hard work that is managing a home, a husband and children. Then it hit me.

I took my joy. Not Ray or Amelia or Jack or the mind-numbing housework, but me. Ouch.

So with that thought in mind, I'm introducing "Finding Joy Fridays," except that I'm kinda impatient and couldn't wait until Friday.

Here are just a few of the joyful things from this week:
  • Amelia suggesting that God was the "line leader" when he led the Israelites out of Egypt.
  • Jack's full body slams followed with "I okay, Mama."
  • A freshly mopped kitchen floor.
  • And the joys of knitting podcasts (because if you can't be knitting, at least you can listen to other people talk about it)
See you next Friday or maybe sooner!