Finally

I’ve been lazy. Well, lazy with writing and I can tell. Writing helps clear my mind and since I haven’t been faithful with it, I’ve been having vivid dreams. Weird stuff about my dad and tidal waves and talking to dogs who can speak. My kids left today for a mission’s trip and I always worry when they’re going to be traveling. As any mother, I have fleeting thoughts of car accidents or muggings or some other danger that could befall them while they’re away. I won’t dwell on it, but it will make me uneasy for a while. However, I’m always proud of them for going and thankful for their convictions.

While they are gone, I’m moving some of our stuff over to my boyfriend’s house. My house is up for sale, and my realtor thinks that moving items out will help it look bigger. I don’t mind since I’m tired of trying to keep it clean enough to show at a moment’s notice. It’s a pain selling a house while you’re living in it. And we’ve been over at Patrick’s more often than not; we’ve been painting the exterior which has needed a lot of work including replacing broken siding pieces and rotten trim. Nothing lets you know the truth of a person more than working on a time consuming and difficult house project together. So far, so good. We still like each other, which speaks volumes. If you can spend hours cutting (and re-cutting) and painting (and repainting) wood without wanting to kill each other, that’s some lasting love. He has no idea how much I’m grateful for the little things.

And these days I’ve been feeling a lot better. My new doctor did an ultrasound and discovered that my miscarriage wasn’t complete at all–the fetus was still there. So a few weeks ago I had a D&C and began to feel better almost immediately. It took four months to get to that point. I don’t even have words for how disappointed I am in my old doctor who let things drag on without checking anything more than my hormone levels, despite my repeated warning that something did not feel right. But instead of focusing on the lost time, I’m extremely grateful for being back to normal. We’re going to try again and keep our fingers crossed.

December 8

Oh boy, it’s been a long week. I know it’s only Monday, but I feel like my week began and ended today. I had a rough draft of my final research proposal for my communication research methods class due tonight. It was basically the culmination of the entire semester’s worth of learning, and I wasn’t as organized as I thought I was going in to writing it. Although I have been ruminating all semester on what I would like to research–the idea that a lot of online socializing may adversely  impact a person’s ability to develop social skills necessary for appropriate face-to-face interactions. I’ve been noticing in the last few years that a lot of students I see on campus seem to have awkward social skills, namely they seem unsure of HOW to interact. They stand too close or too far away; they don’t answer questions posed to them, or answer in a voice so low it’s hard to hear; they don’t know when a conversation is over, so they often just hover around as if waiting to be dismissed. I asked my kids what they thought and they both agreed. Even in their peer groups, they see issues. Bree said some of her friends don’t make eye contact when they talk; they’re unsure of how to end conversations and they’re hesitant on how to even start them. She said sometimes people don’t even turn to look at each other. Emma said she’s pretty sure most of her friends would admit that they lack social skills, but they’re not even sure how to fix it. Of course, as a communications major, I’m fascinated by this. And as I watch just about everyone around me (myself included) constantly checking social networking sites, I can’t help but think that our fascination with communicating via technology is partly to blame. After all, most of what we post online with sites such as Facebook or Twitter are mere snippets of information, often carefully planned ahead of time to sound clever or amusing. Snapchat, Tumblr, and Instagram don’t even require words to communicate, just a good picture and maybe a caption if we’re not too lazy. And even texting or chatting online is abbreviated conversation; oftentimes, words themselves are abbreviated, and if we don’t like the conversation, we can delete it or ignore it without having to excuse ourselves or look someone in the eye. None of this translates well to face to face interaction. And we have whole generations of folks who have grown up or will grow up communicating this way. One of the biggest areas I can see the decline in social skills really impacting people is on the job. Unless we enter a future where all work is done electronically, we’re going to meet up with people offline. And somehow need to work together. Soft skills competence is something a lot of managers look for when hiring because they know its harder to teach than technical aspects of the job. They’d much rather hire someone who is already competent.

I could go on–for at least ten pages, which is how long my paper ended up today (18 if you count the reference pages and appendix, ugh). Although that was about 4 pages shy of what I need for my final draft that is due in a couple of weeks. And while I know I have a bit more work to do, I’m super thankful I got done what I did. I can’t wait for the feedback. I love writing, but sometimes, it’s darn hard.

June 6

I was going through some of my old papers and found this poem I wrote years ago after reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, Rappaccini’s Daughter. Hawthorne was a favorite author of mine when I was studying English in college. I forgot how much I enjoyed reading short stories and being inspired to write myself back when I was in school. It makes me look forward to grad school even more.

The roses you sent me have withered;
they now hang weeping over the edge
of the vase, the velvet petals
drop like blood onto the table
onto the floor…
I loved them.
Will you send me more–don’t
bring them yourself,
for I long for your touch,
something more than a glimpse,
and I would have you die in my arms
with only a kiss. I am cursed
and our moments together would be
fleeting.
Love me, but don’t
get too close,
for I am tainted by my endowment:
my whole nature is poison,
and the only antidote
is death.

March 25

I spent a lot of my free time today reviewing math problems for the GRE test I’m taking on Friday. While I feel like I am figuring out what I don’t know, I still can’t see how that knowledge is making a difference with my sample tests. I’m still not scoring very well. By the end of the day my eyes actually hurt. And my brain was mush. I’ve definitely been straining it by trying to learn all math from whole number basics to statistics in the last month. It’s starting to fight back.

I do think this math review has been interesting in a couple of ways. While I’m actually a logical thinker for the most part, I am not naturally gifted in “math” logic. I don’t automatically understand how to set up equations. I don’t automatically see how many cubes with sides of 2 can come from a larger cube with sides of 6. And yet, I’m confident that I can figure out a real-life problem by breaking it down and working through it systematically or logically. And I can visualize my space at home and know how furniture can fit. And I am a savvy shopper who understands how to compare sales and the return on investments. Therefore, I honestly think I understand the conceptual thinking that it takes to do math. That must mean I simply don’t always understand the language, so with enough time and practice, that’s learnable. And I do like language. That I enjoy. However, I have to admit that all this math review has confirmed how much I enjoy working with words instead of numbers.The competitive side of me says that maybe I should work on this even after the test and prove that I can do it. While I believe in being well-rounded and strive to have a better grasp of math, it’s not where my heart lies. I don’t need to become a mathematician. I think that’s important to embrace. And if words and writing is where my joy comes from, then it’s also something I need to cultivate. I’ve been blogging, but I haven’t been doing much other writing. I need to find the time for that. I’m glad today for that reminder.

Feb 4

It was a difficult class tonight. It felt frustrating and unproductive. Maybe the winter is beginning to weigh on everyone because there seems to be little energy left in my students. And in me, if I’m honest. It reminded me of something I had written a few years ago that still seems to apply. I’m always thankful for being able to lose myself in writing.

it seems like
every year they get worse
come late
leave early
skip at least once a week
even when they show up
they’re not really there
it’s just luke-warm bodies
sitting glassy-eyed toward the back
of the room

most days I’d like to skip
myself give in to the defeat
protect the mythical reverence
I still hold for the beauty
of writing
even on the best of days
they don’t really get it
there’s no passion developing
no sense of urgency of needing
to know
apparently the future doesn’t
exist in any rational form

in their futures someone else
does the thinking

on those days I feel like a mime
explaining to the silence
that words really great words
can taste amazing
on the tongue

yet they refuse to taste
and every year I try harder
every year they remain
the same

Day 21

I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I’ve always liked to write–I love words. I like the way some of them sound, how they feel in my mouth when I say them. I enjoy the way words have double and hidden meanings. How rearranging them can bring out those meanings. How I can say exactly how I feel and yet hide my true feelings with words. Therefore, I’ve kept a journal most of my life. As a kid, it was the traditional diary, complete with lock and key. As I matured, it evolved into the classic leather bound journal. Sometimes lined, sometimes not. I am also something of an artist, so at times it’s been a cross over of both sketch book and diary. I’ve been given beautiful books with inspirational pictures and quotes for writing over the years.

My mother has always kept a diary. Hers leans towards the outline of her days…if anyone wonders when they had a doctor’s appointment, it is sure to be written down in my mother’s diary. She likes to keep track of what was going on. I’ve leaned towards the how. How things are going. Or not going. Or going off-track. Or going wonderfully. I spill my emotional guts to paper at night, so I can feel unburdened by the weight of it during my days. It’s interesting to me to sometimes go back through and read what I’ve written. Because I use it as a catharsis, there are patterns. The ups and downs of my relationships. The frustrations and thrills of motherhood and careers. It’s all there. By now I’ve used up several journals and keep them in a box under my bed. Whatever one I’m currently using lies on my bedside table, within reach at night. I’m not a daily writer in my journal, but I try to be consistent and get caught up whenever time permits. Only once in my life have I had a long gap of silence. When, in the middle of a painful argument, my (now ex) husband admitted he had been reading it. After promising me it was something he would never do. I felt so betrayed that I couldn’t write in it again for several years. Until after we divorced. But I’ve been fairly faithful ever since.

Last week I brought my journal to work with me so I could get caught up during a break in my day. Over the weekend, I looked for it, but it wasn’t on my nightstand. I figured I must have left it in my office, hoping briefly that if that were the case, no prying eyes had stumbled across it. However when I got to work this morning, it wasn’t there. I had a moment of panic. How could I have misplaced it? Why was I so foolish to bring it to work with me? Of course, it wasn’t as if there were anything incriminating in it. I wouldn’t get arrested or lose my job if someone stumbled across it and  linked it to me. It would be embarrassing. After all, I am brutally honest in writing to myself. I don’t care how raw it sounds. Or how frightened or elated I seem describing things that matter only to me. Or maybe one day after I’m gone, if they are interested, to my children. They may want to read it and gain insight on their mother that is not necessary right now.

At any rate, I’m relieved to say that I discovered my journal under a seat in my car when I got home tonight. Now, for the sake of my ego (and a few innocently-mentioned names), it won’t be traveling beyond my nightstand any more.