There’s been a lot of talk about struggling and gratitude lately. (Here is where I was going to list the many, many blog posts that would bolster my claim of “a lot of talk, ” but I can’t think of a single one other than Grace‘s because I am currently using 80% of my mental energy toward coming up with increasingly colorful commentary about why I still feel like I have a dagger lodged into my cheek when I have been on antibiotics for this sinus infection for two days.)
Anyway. One thing that always surprises me about these posts is when people throw in caveats along the lines of “I know I shouldn’t be complaining, since other people have it so much harder.” Maybe it’s because I find everything in life to be difficult, but I never think those caveats are necessary. I can’t remember a time when I had the reaction of thinking that someone has no right to vent about whatever is troubling them. I mean, I read a post where a mom says that her life is ruined because she has a fussy toddler and can’t get Talking Tom to work on her iPhone, and I think, “You’re right. That’s insufferable. How can you live such a torturous life?!”
Sometimes I think it would be cathartic to just blow it out and have a Complaining Olympics where we all write posts venting about what we’re struggling with right now, and no caveats allowed. Valuable prizes would be awarded to the person who showed the most skill at wallowing in misery. I can hear the hushed tones of the commentators now: “Patton had the gold medal in the bag with her residency nightmare until she had points deducted for saying she didn’t think her problems were the worst in the world. Alexander was disqualified for overcoming her pain with a saint-like attitude. Fulwiler has now pulled into the lead with her seven-day series about her sinus infection in which each post was made up entirely of expletives.”
Okay, okay, maybe it’s not the best idea ever. But those posts would be fun to write.
Speaking of things we (“we” meaning “I”) complain about, here’s what happened to the scorpion I think I may have mentioned earlier this week:
I want to issue a threatening memo to all local scorpions that says: Here’s what happens when poisonous arachnids terrorize homeschooling households!
My aunt and uncle are in town, and they went to see some of Austin’s famous bats this evening. They didn’t even need to go to the spot downtown under the Congress Avenue bridge; there’s a bridge up here in the ‘burbs that has just as many, if not more, bats that fly out from under it every night.
Every time I drive by that bridge I think of our friend Irma. She’s the quintessential old-school Mexican Catholic woman, who immigrated to the United States to give her daughter and her grandchildren a better life, and has that fabulous combination of being warm and loving yet having no tolerance for nonsense. One day I was giving her a ride home, and we happened to stop at a light in front of the bridge just as the bats were coming out. I watched the animals pour out by the thousands, flocking into the air in such numbers that it looked like plumes of black smoke were emanating from the bridge. I saw the delighted looks of the tourists in their khaki shorts and polo shirts who nodded at one another in awe as they snapped picture after picture.
I turned to Irma to make a comment about the majesty of the moment, but when I looked over I saw that she was crossing herself as she whispered, “Que feo!” [“How ugly/vile/disgusting!”]
That moment gave me a new perspective, sort of like I had with Austin’s other claim to fame, live music. I still think the bats are kind of cool…but I can also see how someone would behold all these possibly-rabid animals filling the sky and say, “Que feo!”
Let me just tell you: When a family checks out of their carpet, things get grim.
You see, the previous owner of this house chose to replace the carpets just before he put it up for sale. I imagine him standing at the carpet store six years ago, trying to decide between the colors “First Winter’s Snow” or “Gleaming Ivory, ” but ultimately deciding on “Stain-Sucking, Extra-Colorless Super-White.” (I probably don’t need to tell you that he did not have young children.) As you can imagine, it has been a tough row to hoe to try to raise six children with this carpet underfoot.
Joe and I have made a valiant effort over the years, but an ocean of Resolve could not save this thing now. At some point in the past couple of months we realized that we simply have to tear out this carpet and get hardwood floors; if we don’t make the decision ourselves, at some point the health department will demand it.
Ever since we had that realization, we’ve mentally checked out of the upkeep of the carpet. Sure, we’ll spray some cleaner on the stains and swipe it with a rag a few times, but it doesn’t take much effort before we call it quits since “we’re going to replace this thing anyway.” By now I don’t think there’s any way to check back in to caring about the carpet…which is unfortunate since it will be quite a while before we’re in a financial position to re-floor the entire downstairs.
It reached a new low this week, when we experienced the horrible combination of events in which the kids were drinking red Kool-Aid at Yaya’s house just hours before the stomach flu hit. At this point our best strategy might be to just post a sign for visitors that says: “Welcome! Don’t be afraid to walk on the carpet. All of the stains are dry (probably).”
I have this idea that I’m so excited about: I want to write a memoir about the diet/fitness stuff I did after baby #5 was born when I lost 35 pounds and felt so good. I don’t want to write it because I think I have Important Things to Say on this subject, but simply because I think everyone should write memoirs about experiences that are interesting to them (seriously! go write a memoir — I’ll read it). This idea clicked for me after ultramarathon runner Scott Jurek’s memoir had such an impact on me: I’ve read a million dry how-to books that talk about how to have better endurance when you exercise, but having those same insights packaged in the context of one man’s personal story made it all so much more palatable and pleasurable to read.
I’m thinking I would just offer it here on the website as an ebook: no five-year, sanity stealing writing journeys, no shopping to publishers, just me having fun telling a story. Now if I could just get to feeling good again, I could get started (I see a possible epilogue there).
For years I have held strong on my stance that I don’t understand organized exercise. I have tried, always unsuccessfully, to understand why a person would run five kilometers on some race organizer’s time table rather than just running the same distance around their neighborhood whenever they feel like it (read: it’s all about getting up early for me). Then, the other day I came across Sole Searching Mama’s post about her participation in the Oklahoma City Marathon. It’s the first thing I’ve ever read on the subject that made me kind of “get” what’s special about these races. I still maintain that it is extremely unlikely that you’ll ever see me running with a number on my back…but it definitely got me thinking.