Archive | September, 2012

It’s Only 8:30!

26 Sep

The Scene:

Last night my husband, Brian, helped me put the clean sheets onto our behemoth of a bed.  After one month of not being properly made, he helped me configure my TWO down comforters and ONE cotton blanket into their rightful position (as opposed to the mountain style they were resembling this last month of summer), and we arranged our six pillows according to our liking.  My face was then washed and my teeth were brushed.  My son was taken care of and my daughter was still occupied in her nighttime French class.  My jammies were on and my blanket arranged on the couch, ready for my descent into its strawberry print lushness (a leftover from my teenage years–the coziest of blankies, especially with the warmth of the, still lingering, summer air).  After all had been arranged and accounted for, I sat back on the bedecked couch and let out a big sigh.

SIGH….

I had made it through another day.  It was dark outside.  Not on the brink of evening, but completely dark.  The night had come and I had made it through a full day of parenting, secretarial-ing, taxi-ing, cleaning, dog walking, spider killing, cooking, counseling, and dealing with the effects of a stiff neck.  I felt I had deserved the long sigh and the right to exhaustion, especially as it was late at night and I had been fighting the yearning for a nap since 2 in the afternoon.  Whew.  I then opened my laptop computer, and as the screen came into view so did the clock.  It read loud and clear, “8:30p.m.”

“It’s only 8:30 PM!,”  I exclaimed.  How is that even possible?  It must be wrong.  It has to be closer to midnight!!  And then it hit me…I am exhausted as if it were midnight, yet it hadn’t even hit the elementary-aged bed time hour.  Sad, sad, sad.  And so I quickly opened my “Bentrivka” portal to document my title, “It’s Only 8:30!” and then logged out because just the effort it took to even conceive that my exclamation would provide a reasonably good title for a post was the last ounce of energy within my tired mind and body.  And with that, at 8:35p.m., I sat back and allowed the mind numbing effects of television (as provided through Netflix.com) to release me from my connections to reality.  Thank you “Hot in Cleveland”, thank you!

Moving On:

In my last post titled “Living With No”, I hinted at having more to my bicycling adventure.  This is true.  But first I will introduce you to my bike.  She is a British Raleigh circa 1970’s.  Actually, early 1970’s, and she is a folding bike.  I have seen similar photos, online, but they indicate that my lady is a Raleigh Twenty, yet my girl doesn’t bear the “Twenty” verbiage that the others seem to possess.  So who knows what she really is!  What I do know is we enjoy a few jaunts about town periodically.  This is a pastime I typically enjoy.  However, with exhaustion (emotional or physical), it is difficult to pursue even that which brings forth joy and happiness.  But I am gaining ground in this area.  As mentioned by me previously, one mili-step at a time!  Or in this case mili-pedal.

I actually have a dream of living in an area where I would not require a vehicle at all.  All of my destinations could be reached by walking or riding my bike.  I do not currently inhabit my dream town, but I do utilize this fantasy to my benefit when the time frame allows.  Such as the other day.  I had errands to run (the bank, the other bank, and the new to our town used furniture store).  If time permits, I take the back roads and travel under the freeway where the atmosphere is serene and the route runs through a historical neighborhood.  I then have to pass by the Mission.  Yes, one of father Junipero Serra’s Spanish feats and the central beacon of our city.  Several years back the Mission became a Basilica and adopted the “open door” policy (this is actually the new Mission church, not the adjacent historical-must pay to enter-attraction).  With the new policy in place, the doors are unlocked and the grand, yet very peaceful, church provides sanctuary from the bustling of the outside world.  Though I am not Catholic, I have spent many hours within the non-protestant walls.  I have appreciated the simplicity of the hand paintings and the majesty of the arched, vaulted ceilings.  More recently, for reasons I cannot fathom, a golden alter was installed.  I suppose its gaudy position and magnitude against the simple wall paintings is a reflection of the truth from its past.  Echos of the ruling empire dominating the natives with the two coexisting as one.

I do not like the alter as it is difficult to ignore.  And when I take the time to visit the Mission church I like to pretend it is a peaceful place, built with peaceful intentions, and present because it welcomes all kinds of people.  I like to ignore the truth history provides regarding the slavery of the indigenous people, and I battle the teachings I have had through my own education and from that of my children, as I approach the open door to the quiet structure.  The golden altar, in a sense, screams “Remember the truth!”  And though I do manage to find my inner quite, it now takes a bit longer for me to get there.

So my Raleigh is my accomplice in quiet adventure.  She takes me places with speed and she doesn’t say a word.  While on her seat I imagine I am riding through the streets of London, and the country sides of Europe.  I pretend I am free.  And while I am free, I am being replenished.  Which is why it is ironic that when exhaustion hits, I fight her call.

Well it is currently 5:00p.m. in the evening.  Brian is home, Esther is on her way to another nighttime class, and Cole is holed up “saving a world” in some extra-terrestrial video game.  I do believe I have a window of opportunity for a ride.  Cheerio…

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Living with “No”

20 Sep

It wasn’t too long ago that my husband and I were living with, “Yes.”  And with, Yes, came some fun opportunities.  Hollywood parties, cavorting with celebrities.  Travel possibilities.  In fact, Yes is quite fun to be around.  She is very pleasing on the eyes.  Her scent is fresh throughout the day.  Yes is never tired, she is never boring.  She is a grand adventure!  The morning was exciting to wake up to, while she made our life her home.  But then slowly, one packed suitcase at a time, she began her move away from our world.  Oh she was kind about her departure.  Never once did she utter an unkind word.  She left no abrasive lesions upon us, and even her scent lingered for a while–long after her goodbye was said.  I miss her as our house guest.  Her presence brought sunshine when the sky provided none.  She, was a friend I like to have.  “Yes” is good company.

…now we are living with “No.”

No, is not so bad.  He, too, is not unkind.  Nor is he selfish.  But No, is blase.  He bears no scent.  He shines no light.  Being with him provides no adventure.  And travel does not seem to be to his liking.  And while he is a part of our life, our chores seem more abundant.  The spring in our step not so springy.  The gray of the day permeates, and sleep does not bring sufficient rest.  Though I would prefer to exchange his presence for his predecessor, it seems the good Lord has it in His will for us to entertain the present house guest a while longer (another aspect to No is the end of his stay is occluded, thus leaving us in the dark as to when he departs).

I honestly wouldn’t mind his living with us so much, but while having him here I have picked up certain habits that I’m not too fond of.  For instance, while living with Yes, I was motivated to care for myself and invest in activities that provoked excitement.  Waking up to No every day, I am struggling to even remember what those things were that used to motivate me.  Funny thing is, No doesn’t take up too much space but his stature hovers over much of our life.  So much so that I find myself pulling in ear marks of Yes, such as in my clothing, to help offset the drudgery of No.  For instance, I have resurrected my 1970’s floral print pants and am wearing them in circumstances of monotony (such as to the Long Beach VA).  Vintage Floral Pants

I have also taken to wearing a dress while walking the dogs.  Who needs exercise clothing when one can sweat in style!  I admit, the Nike’s are not the best accessory to my Leon Max creations, nor my Brian Bent’s for that matter.  But I am finding a glimmer of joy within the sheer absurdity of how I look as I ambulate, perspire, and shine while ‘Mutt and Jeff’ tag along on leash. 🙂

Fashion by Brian Bent

A Brian Bent original

I even thought I would fool my freeloading boarder by deciding to grow out my hair.  That’s right, my hair grows whether No wants it to or not.  However,  yesterday as I was readying myself to leave the house my daughter shyly asked, “Do you like your hair like that?”  To which I answered, “NO.”  With a sigh of relief she said, “Oh good.”  ‘Oh good’ was all she gave me…obviously the influence of Yes had worn off of even her.

So here I am, living with No.  He is a tough guy to be around.  And to help offset the heaviness of his presence, I am learning how to use new tools.  You know, the ones in the toolbox that are there but one hopes to not have to use.  One such tool is the “art of redirecting.”  That is right, I am redirecting my thoughts to the time of Yes, when I am faced with another No answer.  Another such tool is the “reminder wrench.”  The reminder wrench is used when thoughts of abandonment try to ease their way into my soul.  I take the wrench and use it to remember the word of encouragement from the Holy Word that says, “I shall never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut 31:6).  And, from the 55th chapter of the book of Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”

The ‘reminder wrench’…a good tool!  I know there are other tools still in the box, untouched.  It could be that I will have to peruse the contents and learn, yet another, instrument of peace, motivation, excitement, and elation before the year is through.  But for now, the ‘redirector’ and the ‘reminder wrench’ are doing the trick.  I have even borrowed a necessary item from my neighbor…the tire pump.  Yep, the tire pump is a good tool to have on hand for when No takes a nap.  Oh the places to go with just a few pumps of air.  More on that next time…

Raleigh bicycle

My Raleigh and Me

Daughter Shopping

12 Sep

My title is deceiving.  It implies I am in the market for a new daughter.  This is not the case…I assure you.  And though this post has nothing to do with shopping for a child, it does involve the parent-child dynamic.  Are you surprised?  Have I not overused this topic already?  I will answer for you, “no to both questions.”  Of course none of us can be surprised; after all, the subject of inter-human relations is inexhaustible.  This subject has come up for me this week via two completely unrelated circumstances.  The first is through my daughter.  The second is through the relationship of a friend and her son…and me.  First I will tell you the story of my daughter.

As I have previously written, Esther is in college.  Her math professor happens to have also been my math professor.  He and I got to know each other on a personal level because I required much assistance to gain the “A” grade for all three of the math classes I took while under his tutelage.  In addition to him being an astute professor of mathematics, he is a kind man and our personal lives crossed at a couple of proverbial intersections (stated only to avert the perversion of thought that might try to infiltrate the connection).  At any rate, the point of the aforementioned rhetoric is to simply overstate that he and I gained a knowledge of each other and of our families.  In fact, he has known Esther since she was twelve…almost five years now.  So the other day, when upon my advice she met him at his office for his amazing tutorial guidance, it was no surprise that he suggested to her to ask me for assistance on any and all of the subject matter in which she struggled.  His statement, as retold to me by her, went like this:  “Why don’t you ask your mom for help.  She is a really good teacher and was an excellent student in Algebra.”  And to this piece of advice, or suggestion rather, she said (again as retold to me by her): “NO WAY!!  My mom and I don’t mix well together in math…no how, no way!”  And you know what?  She is telling the truth!  We most certainly do NOT mix well when it comes to mathematics.  We do, however, get along fine while shopping.  Shopping for clothes, shopping for shoes, shopping for accessories–just plain old shopping.

Now onto the second scenario…

I have a good friend, a few hundred miles away, who has an elementary aged son who struggles with literacy.  Well on Sunday he called me and asked if we could have a Skype session (internet video phone call, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Skype) for no other reason than it is something fun to do.  So while we were chatting away about nothing important, and mostly because I was trying to keep the interest flowing, I asked if he would like me to read a book to him.  With immediate reluctance he questioned, “What book?”  I suggested Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (because it was within a reasonable reach).  It just so happened to be a favorite of his, therefore he answered, “yes.”  I read the book to him and after I finished he tucked himself into bed and we signed off with a “goodnight”.  Monday night I had another Skype call from my young friend.  Only this time HE had something to read to me.  He read me two short stories and allowed me to read another from my shelf.  Our next “telephone” date is set for tomorrow night.  And it honestly cannot come too soon.

My girl friend and I spoke the next day and she said her son has, since our first reading, Skyped with an older cousin and read to her as well.  My friend tells me this interest in reading is something of a phenomenon for her son.  She even accused me of having used magic on him because she says he normally does not like to read out loud, nor does he like to be read to.  And now he is excited about both…via Skype.  And all of this praise comes simultaneous to my daughter balking at the suggestion of utilizing me as a mathematical resource.  Funny.  Ironic and funny.

Yet isn’t that just the way of life under “normal” familial conditions (I use quotes on normal as I’m not quite sure what normal truly means.  Normal in my life seems to equate with chaos.  Controlled chaos, but chaos just the same.)?   I mean here I am able to help my daughter with her difficulties in math, yet she is adamantly opposed to working with me.  And my girlfriend, more educated than I, is definitely capable of reading and being read to, though her young son is reluctant to utilize her literary skills.

Children, and the business of raising them, is funny stuff!  And I am thankful that we help each other along the way.  To invest, to the degree that is required, can be quite the daunting task when going at it alone.  Which is why we need to ‘pitch-hit’ for one another during the times our ‘ever so wise’ children foolishly reject our skill sets.  I actually think the Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral, says it best in her poem titled, “Su nombre es hoy” (“His Name is Today”).  Written in Spanish, the writing implores its readers to comprehend that the child who is at the crux of growth and development is not to be neglected.  He or she is to be invested in.  She states that to abandon the child is akin to keeping from them the fountain of life.  She encourages us to know that the many material “needs” we have can wait, but the child cannot.  And she finishes the piece by rhetorically asking, “how can we tell him tomorrow, when his name is Today.”

I am thankful for my young Skyping friend.  He has helped me remember that though my daughter rejects my tutorial assistance, there is another whose investment in her life is of great value and importance within that realm.  Which is how I hope my friend feels about me and her son’s new passion to read.

Su nombre es hoy

Nosotros somos culpables
de muchos errores y muchas faltas,
pero nuestro peor crimen
es el abandono de los niños
negándoles la fuente de la vida.

Muchas de las cosas
que nosotros necesitamos
pueden esperar, los niños no pueden,
ahora es el momento,
sus huesos están en formación,
su sangre también lo está
y sus sentidos
se están desarrollando,
a él nosotros no podemos contestarle
mañana,
su nombre es hoy.

-Gabriela Mistral

Brock

A Skype “goodnight”

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