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A Pandora Introduction

I was working a little late in the office tonight, so I turned on my Pandora station for some background music. I have several stations on Pandora (yes, I still use Pandora). Some are seeded by only one song or artist. A few are seeded by a mix of specific songs and favorite artists. Tonight’s selection was my station. The one I named “Stone Girl’s Tunes.” I created this station in February 2007. I listen to it all the time. Pandora reports that, through the years, I’ve “thumbed up” 602 songs and “thumbed down” 905 songs while listening to my station. Tonight, for the first time in a long while, I looked at the list of songs and artists I chose to seed my station. Like my blog introduction, I feel my Stone Girl station is still a fairly good representation of me. I’ve discovered some new now-favorite musical artists in the last few years. I’ve outgrown a few from my old list. But it’s a good list and a good station. And it is, perhaps, another good way to introduce myself to others and perhaps to learn more about you. What songs, which musical artists, seed the music station in your life?

My list, from 2007.

Artists:

  • Imogen Heap
  • Kosheen
  • Lijie
  • Art of Noise
  • Fool’s Garden
  • Maktub
  • Ella Fitzgerald
  • Paul Simon
  • Tears for Fears
  • Maura O’Connell
  • Cause & Effect
  • Rob Zombie
  • David Lanz
  • Delerium
  • Sting
  • Third Day
  • Hungry Lucy
  • Scorpions

Songs:

  • Santa Cruz by Fatboy Slim
  • Home by the Sea by Genesis
  • (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
  •  Haunted by Poe
  • No Mermaid by Sinead Lohan
  • Fear by Sarah McLachlan

 

Holidailies #3

Before I dive into a blog post that involves a bit of a whine, I feel I should explain my hangnail theory of suffering and complaint. Years ago, my sister was talking to me about something (I don’t remember what exactly) that was really bothering her. However, she also expressed a little bit of guilt for complaining about something that she felt was minor compared to major troubles that other people were experiencing. I told her to think about how much a hangnail hurts when she has one on her finger. It may be the smallest piece of skin and seem like nothing in itself, but hangnails HURT. They hurt like crazy, and I always feel so relieved when one is finally gone. I told her, “When you hurt, you hurt.” Comparing your hurt to others’ hurts doesn’t help your hurt to go away and rarely even dulls that constant nagging hangnail pain that can take over your thoughts.

My hangnail for the last week has been a temporary bout of single working motherhood while Mike was out of town for work. I won’t go into the boring details of trying to maintain a work schedule and stay on top of work deadlines after being sick for two weeks and then being home alone with the kiddos. The particulars of my temporary single motherhood may change from trip to trip when Mike leaves town, but the overall effect of exhaustion and stress have been pretty constant over the years. And I don’t want to complain too much because I recognize how lucky I am to have such a great parenting partner around most of the time. And also, because I recognize there are men and women all over the place for whom this is a normal condition. Normal to be the sole caregiver/organizer/taxi service/nurturer/disciplinarian/provider. Normal to be solely responsible for getting kids where they need to be, feeding them, keeping them on schedule, playing with them, comforting them, perhaps even yelling at them (*gulp*) on occasion. Normal to know that sickness cannot be accommodated with extra rest. Normal to live with the demands of work life and home life without consistent help. And, just as I could not explain how I manage to get through my temporary full load on my own, I doubt many single parents could explain precisely how they manage. These are just the types of situations where you deal with the hand you are dealt. Week by week. Sometimes day by day or hour by hour.

The kids and I had our good moments and bad this week. School was attended. First-grade homework was completed. Meals were eaten on a regular basis. The weekend brought a trip to our neighborhood pizza place for dinner out, a sleepover for both kids together in one room (which they think is just the best thing ever…until the 4-year old wakes up crying at 1:30 a.m. because she’s slightly disoriented from sleeping on the floor), and a little more TV watching than they would normally get. The bad moments usually involved me losing my cool and yelling at them or losing my whine containment field and babbling to Mike about some random work stress. I’ve told him before, I try and teach the kiddos not to say, “I can’t.” Especially if they haven’t really tried to master whatever challenge is in front of them. Say, “It’s hard.” Or, “I need help.” But don’t just say you can’t. This is a very tough lesson for me to try and embody when I can’t successfully juggle work and home duties, sometimes even when Mike is around and trying to cover for me. I can no longer function well on very little sleep, which used to help me work much much later into the night than I can do these days. Some would argue I never functioned well that way.

How do single parents do this all the time? It’s an impossible question to answer with specifics, I am sure. Hopefully, some or many have support networks of friends and family. Hopefully, they’ve adjusted to this normal in such a way that everyday stress levels are manageable. The single parents I know have stress, yes, but also have amazing relationships with their wonderful kids. They have much to be proud of, from what I see of their ability to juggle work and home and life and chaos. I have to think it helps when you can acknowledge that one bout of yelling or one extra-lenient moment doesn’t affect resilient kids at all, as long as they know you love them and are doing your best. It’s one of the reasons I never subscribe to anything close to a “mommy war.” Who am I to lecture someone else on how to raise a kid, or criticize someone who is working his or her fingers to the bone to maintain a household? So, I apologize for whining about one week of extra duties and stress, but I will express how happy I am to have the hubby home again, finally, finally, happily.  Except, did I mention he got sick while working away? I’ll try not to throw every responsibility back at him all at once, to give him a day or two to recover.  Maybe. Potentially. Perhaps.

 

A Holidailies Hello

Hello, again, Holidailies!

It’s been a while since I participated in Holidailies. Nine years, or thereabouts. I have to admit, I was surprised to see the site still running. Kudos to those who maintain traditions, write all year long, and keep on blogging. My blog has gotten quite stale in the last few years. So, I decided to sign up again this year. I am partly motivated by the desire to blog again. And I’m greatly motivated to get back in touch with others’ blogs, to regain some sort of writing community and to read some funny stories, wise insights, and whatever else my fellow participants come up with. I am happy to see many of the same blogs I read years ago: Thankful Runner Girl (*wave!*); Hat on Top, Coat Below; Tuna News; Red Nose; Funny the World (who may or may not know that I was a Lawsuit fan, back in the day!). And I’m looking forward to making new blog discoveries. And with that, who is this Stone Girl, anyway? It may be time to dust off the old introduction. Here is my old one (complete with two spaces after a period, as we writers used to do, back in the day):

 

My blog, you will find, runs the gamut from “What I did today” to food to political commentary to food to creative writing to…..uhhh…..did I mention I like food?  There is no great theme for this blog.  If you can handle the randomness, please pull up a comfy chair, stick around, and drop me a comment from time to time because I have an insatiable curiosity about why other people think the way they do.  Maybe I would have been a sociologist if I didn’t hate statistics sooooooo much.  Oh, except for the occasional dislike of human interaction. I am more than three names and less than the legacy of my four grandparents.  I am a world-traveling homebody.  I am an occasional insomniac and often-vivid dreamer.  A wife to my Sweetie, daughter to my mom, Lil Sis to my Big Sibs, Aunty to my nephews, and you-gotta-love-me friend to my pals.  A recovering workaholic who has learned how to slack off while living in Maui.  Raised in small-town California.  Born in small-town Europe.  Technical writer.  Creative writer.  Blogging writer.  Laugher, crier, worker, player.  Hiker, music-lover, piano player, seeker, and student-of-life.   Environmental analyst, which means few people understand exactly what I do for a living.  I am comfortable in my own skin and always trying to grow a little more.   Loyal Aggie.  Lactose intolerant.  An open-minded Christian who counts the Dalai Lama as one of my only heroes.  Comic book collector.  Professional when I need to be, goofy by nature.   I believe in self-reliance for myself and helping others when I can.

 

Hmmmm, that’s all pretty much still true. I started my blog to try and stay in touch with friends and family when I moved to Maui in 2006. I suppose an update should mention that I’m back living in California. And, Sweetie and my family has grown by two since our Maui days, I am happy to say. Which may explain the lack of blogging in the last few years. Maintaining a job and household with two kids is about as much as my aging brain can handle these days. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that my brain doesn’t still run about 200 miles per hour with overflowing opinions, ramblings, and questions. There are many food [Edit: I realize I erred and misspelled “good.” But…..did I mention at some point that I like food??] reasons to get back to blogging. I’m looking forward to reading lots of blog entries this month. Hope you all stop by from time to time. This is who I am. Who are you? Happy Holidailies!

When I was very young, I believed in ghosts. I don’t remember what I thought they were or why they were scary, but I was scared of them. When I would have a bad dream in the middle of the night, I wanted to run to my parents’ bed for comfort. I made it only a little past my bedroom door. Then I stopped. Because between me and the door of my parents’ room was the hallway. I had to pass across the hallway to get to their room. And down that hallway was a ghost. I just knew it. There was a ghost hiding in the dark just a little past my view, and if I ran across and exposed myself for even the short second it would take to get to mom and dad’s bedroom door, it would get me. I don’t remember what I thought it would do to me if it got me, but it would get me and that was a frightening prospect. Many a night, I teetered at the edge of the hallway wall, trying to force myself to run across. Many a night I sadly turned around and went back to bed alone. I was not brave enough to go anywhere near a ghost.

There were other places in the house a ghost would hide. My parents’ bathroom, with the only shower in the house, was at the end of their long closet in their bedroom. Guess what was on the other side of the closet? A wall. Guess what that created? A very very short hallway. Ghosts like hallways.

The door to the bathroom was a sliding wood door. I would close the door to take my shower at night. I would open the small window in the bathroom to vent the steam. When I got into the shower, the ghost would rattle the door. I was terrified. I was completely vulnerable, alone in the shower.  There was nothing I could do. The next time I took a shower, I tried locking the door. The ghost rattled the door. The next time I took a shower, I pushed that sliding door as hard as I could, pushed with all my might to close it tight, and I locked the door. The ghost still rattled the door. The door rattled at some point in the middle of my shower when I was just starting to get comfortable and feeling a little bit brave, scaring me out of the shower, with or without shampoo in my hair, to grab my towel and yell at it that I was there and I knew it was there and I was leaving now so it could get across the bathroom and out the window. Because that is what I figured out it wanted to do. Go out the window.

This routine went on for a little bit. It made me scared and sad. But you know what? You can only be scared and super sad for so long. It’s exhausting. It makes you want to change your behavior to avoid the thing that is making you scared and sad. But what could I do? Whether or not I explained the ghost, my parents were still going to insist I take a shower at night. And, except for the part about being so scared my flight instinct kicked in, I wanted to take a shower. But really, I didn’t want to take a shower. I was too scared. I was in a quandary. I had to shower. The ghost was not going away. But there had to be another solution besides long-term angst. So, I thought of one.

I took my towel into the bathroom. I opened the window. I went to the sliding door. I closed it most of way. I left a small space between the door and the door jamb. And I tried to make friends with my ghost.

I told the ghost we could make a deal. Instead of trying to keep the door shut tight to close it out completely, I would leave the door open a little to let the ghost in. But if I did this, then the ghost must just race across the bathroom, leave me alone, and go straight out the window. The ghost could go about its business. I could finish my shower. It would stop rattling the door. I would be able to relax and rinse shampoo out of my hair. And it worked. The ghost was still a ghost and it was still there, but we had a tenuous friendship. The door stopped rattling. I showered in relative peace.

There are some ghosts that will not go away. There are some scars that will not heal. There are things that cannot be avoided, things that cannot be forgotten, things that cannot be done, and things that cannot be undone. These are our ghosts. If we are to continue to live with them and still live our own lives to the fullest, it would serve us best to make friends with our ghosts. Or, at the very least, make a deal with them to allow them to coexist with us and pass by us, but not rattle us. Not scare us. Not hurt us, not cause us to alter our own course of life to avoid them. There are ways to do this. Sometimes, ghosts are more accommodating than we give them credit for. Sometimes, if we stop trying to close the door on them and shut them out completely, thereby causing them to rattle more loudly than we ever imagined, we can learn to acknowledge them and give them what they really want. Not us. They don’t want us. They want to go along their own path. They want their own freedom. And none of us can help it that our paths just happen to cross. We don’t have to best friends. But we can learn to be peaceful friends.

What are your ghosts? Can you find a path of peaceful coexistence?

Writers gotta write

My work laptop blinks at me. It stares. It glares.

I hide in the glow of my home laptop. I avert my gaze. I search for answers in Pandora.

Today, I put what looked like a blank CD in my player in the car, driving back to the office after an early-morning project meeting.

Blank is deceptive.

Nothing is really empty. Nothing is really blank. Blank paper is potential, is it not? The blank CD? Not so. It was one of my “D” playlists (see: (someday) “Sandman playlists”). Which Sandman sibling?

The appropriate one. Doesn’t the appropriate one always appear? 

Not really. Some of them like to try to shove their way into every situation. Why do I smile when I think how inappropriately they behave sometimes? 

Maybe because that’s what life gives you more often than not. The Endless sibling you least want to see. And then it laughs, grabs some Chex mix, and sits back to watch.

So, what happened when my playlist played today, of all things, *my* song? I wanted to speak. For some of us, that translates to “write.”

Why worry about the things that keep me from my blog (my poor, neglected little space here)? Why worry about taking time away from my technical writing? Why worry about garnering attention? Why worry about going unnoticed? Is not writing for the sake of writing good enough?

Why am I writing so ambiguously?

How do you catch a wave upon the sand?

I’ve been wanting to reignite my blog for a while. It is true that I rarely have brain power after work and after caring for home and family to articulate all the things that run through my brain. It’s also true that a lot of what runs through my brain these days is triggered by local and world events around me, and that train of thought somehow inevitably leads to musings of an opinionated matter. But why should I worry about sharing such musings here? This is my space. My blog. Musings of a cynical optimist. Writers have quiet courage. Or, we should, shouldn’t we?  Some have loud, seemingly fearless courage. Some, not so much.

But what do we all have?

We have words. We have words. What are your words?

Answers

Still looking for time to blog. I have motivation these days. Until then, will have to just repost my latest musing:

In the quiet of my nights, between 2-year old “tuck tucks”, spousal good-nights, and 8-month old early-a.m. cries, I spend a part of my “alone” time praying. Between work deadlines, familial heath concerns, and some sort of mid-life-crisis-level fear of death, it’s often hard for me to hear answers these days. But life is not always about answers. It’s about the dialogue we share, the fears we admit, the failings we face. It’s about the strength we share, the joy we find, the truth we seek, and the integrity we hold. May we all hold each other up as we seek our own answers. If it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a universe to keep us “old folks” from falling down.

Stagnant Again

Hmmmm…..the blog is getting a little musty. 

Should I continue with this blog, or start anew? Either way, it’s time to blog again.