Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Emails, Texts, and Tweets

“You know when you send a text message to someone and you don't get a response right away, you feel depressed? You send a text message to someone you really like and you get a response right away you feel happy? You feel happy, the body, it creates the chemical dopamine, the dopamine, it goes through your blood and you become addicted to that dopamine rush, and you associate that dopamine rush with the happy feeling of receiving the text, and that's why you got people sending 3,000 fucking text messages a day, right, we're not even paying attention to what we're saying anymore it's just like a, like a morphine drip, right, it's like a dopamine drip! HAPPY BUTTONS! HAPPY BUTTONS! HAPPY BUTTONS! TIME TO PLAY WITH THE HAPPY BUTTONS!”

Tom Green

I noticed a husband and wife eating breakfast together. She was on her cell phone texting and he was writing letters. I thought OMG what the hell is going on there? WRITING LETTERS!!!??? It's not even Christmas…

It's all about the fast track to get a point across. As I type this I actually had to think about spelling out 'breakfast' and not 'bfast'. I spend entirely too much time pondering which emoticon to use that could get my point across when three-letter acronyms are simply not enough…LOL :) .

Our methods of communicating have changed so much and I often think about what will it be like when our children grow up? What will their memories be? Do written words have more value if done with a pen and paper, then thru cyberspace?

I have always collected words, quotes, notes, cards…I have been kicked out of classrooms for written and passing notes. I have been grounded for a bazillion years for my parents finding my notes. I have used letters to mend hearts, beg boyfriends, and coerce parents and teachers. I have one note that my mother saved that says that I would kill myself if I didn't get a parakeet. I don't remember writing this note, but obviously it was all there in black and white, reflecting the true level of honing my narrative skills at an early age. My best college friend, Laurel, known to be quite the hoarder (obvs), ventured into the trenches of her closet and lo and behold found a letter…from me…circa 1990 something. Three whole pages filled with hope, new love, laughter, and young woman insights into the future. WTF!!! What kind of concussion did I receive that makes me not remember ANY of this? Alzheimer's? Should I check myself in now to the senile association? The only familiar thing on the pages were the innocent handwritten that i recognize as my own. It's not just these few examples. I have many, many letters that have surfaced throughout the years that reminded me of who I was at a time when I didn't know who I was. They show the Amy that has been lost behind the many hats of Mother, Aunt, college graduate, daughter, private investigator (wink). It's all there in black and white. They weren't lost in the rubble of many travels, or moving houses, or garage sales, or messy cars. They were saved because they meant something to someone at time or another. They were special.

I am guilty of this same hoarding of notes. I have every letter my mom sent to me or my grandmother. I have letters my Aunt wrote when she was dying of cancer. I read every note from the hospice nurse about my mother when she was dying. I keep these things near and dear to me because I swear I can FEEL the people who wrote them I can hear their words while I read them. I can hold the paper that they held. I feel connected.

My kids live in an age where life is fast and immediate. Instant gratification. If you don't believe me, turn off our internet connection and listen 5,4,3,2,1… surprise! you found your kids. A slow internet connection is the equivalent to running out of cassette tape ribbon when you're trying to record American Bandstand. JUST THE WORST EVER! They receive birthday notifications from Facebook and not face to face. The love notes occur over direct messaging and Twitter. Even pictures can disappear within seconds on Snapchat never to be seen again. I read an article saying that yearbooks are almost extinct! STFU! Where will everyone write, "Stay Cool!" at the end of the year. But this isn't where we are headed…this is where we are!!!! My 90 year old mother in law doesn't have an email and I think that she should receive some kind of award for that, because I followed some lady named 'Grandma Betty' on Facebook AND Twitter and she's like 100 (she WAS 100, Bless her soul).

And when this generation is older and wiser and reflective, where will they go to visit the person that they were? Where will they go to 'feel' the words that their loved ones wrote. I found the card my mother wrote to me when I was turning 14 signed "I love you, Mom' and I instantly recognized the handwriting. It was my mother's. I tattooed it on my wrist, in my mother's handwriting, and so help me God, if it were in the form of a text it would look like shit! Miranda Lambert, my future husbands current wife, has a song titled Automatic, and she sings,

"If you had something to say...You'd write it on a piece of paper...Then you put a stamp on it…and get it three days later….it's only worth as much as the time put in". It's only worth as much of the time put in…hmmmm. Maybe it's time to slow down.

It's only worth as much as the time put in. If everything is sent through texts, and snaps, and Tweets, and IGs…what will we have to hold someday when we need to feel a connection that isn't around anymore?….. So I take out my journal and I write about anything and everything so that someday my kids can have something to hold that I held…and something to read that I wrote…with my own hands……from my own heart…...that won't disappear if the battery dies...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ruffled Feathers

“You've got this life and while you've got it, you'd better kiss like you only have one moment, try to hold someone's hand like you will never get another chance to, look into people's eyes like they're the last you'll ever see, watch someone sleeping like there's no time left, jump if you feel like jumping, run if you feel like running, play music in your head when there is none, and eat cake like it's the only one left in the world!”

This week I have seen some pretty remarkable things and some pretty fucked up things, so basically, another day in the life of Amy. Time to bring the house DOWN (but don’t worry, there’s a point to all this). My mom was bedridden for much of my life. She used to say that there are angels living amongst us that look like ordinary people, but they are here to guide us and make us better people. I believed her! I believed that she had some insight, due to her illness, that no one else had. Gigs up! You guys can’t hide from me anymore. Tuck those wings away all you want, but I saw some pretty amazing angels this week, front and center!!! I saw a friend that I haven’t seen since college drive far, far away to attend Tameria’s benefit, without ever having met her, because that’s what friends do when bad/sad things happen…they show up! I saw two friends drive to California with the goal of sitting in a hospital just to see someone smile. I saw the labor of love of making a zillion meatballs so we could feed our stomachs and our hearts. Bad things happen sometimes. The people in your life are how you get through it. It takes a village to raise a child they say. Why stop at children? It takes a village to raise adults. Your peeps. Your rocks. The people you text, or hug, or share a beer with. Sometimes just to say HI and sometimes to have a shoulder to cry on…ok and sometimes to have a Karaoke partner, but for some reason you guys kinda suck at letting me do that..anyways…my daughter has a friend that texted her in the middle of the night and said she was in trouble and needed her help right away! After much discussion I allowed her to go pick her up…on the side of a road…in the middle of the night…with two plastic bags to her name…homeless…scared…beat up…addicted. She texted my daughter, 'Help me'. And my daughter was there. She felt like she had no one. She tried to overdose to make it all go away, and thankfully she survived. 18 years old and believed she had no one. Everyone, no matter who you are, defines their ‘angel’ through their own eyes. The people who show up, when it’s ugly and dirty and sad and painful and no filter can make it look any better. Your beacon of light when it seems really dark and scary in this big, messy, fucked up world. My sister in law had a party with all her friends…to celebrate summer…happiness and smiles were flowing. She told me they, “danced like it was their last day on earth”. It ended with her friend thinking that this life was too hard for her to handle…she gave up….she left her four kids and loving husband and friends and probably a dog or a cat and gave up……………………………. A phone call or a text or a whisper or a note or a tear or a scream from the highest mountain and someone would have been there to show her all the reasons why she was loved. Why she should live! That call never came. Her ‘angels’ were right there, but she didn’t see them or felt hopeless that there weren’t any. And all of the friends are left with the ‘whys’ and the sadness and the confusion. The impact we make in the lives of those around us are not always visible. The impressions we make on other people in our lives effects people differently and for different reasons. Have you ever run into someone whom you haven’t seen in ages and they tell you a memory about you that you don’t even remember yourself? Something you did or said and you’re all, “OMG I don’t even remember that?”. But they remembered it. It meant something to them. You did something so insignificant to you, but it engraved in their memory. Perhaps to make them smile, to help them out of a hard situation, to change their life. A grain of sand on the beach seems so insignificant, but so crucial to the big picture. It all adds up. Make it happen. Share love and smiles. Hold hands and hearts. Laugh and cry and get raw to the point that you can’t bear to hear anymore. Be present. Sometimes I just want to scream, “YOU ARE MY PEOPLE” at each and every one of my friends. The family that I chose to make me smile, laugh, cry, and sometimes crazy. The people who ‘show up’ when things go dark. The beacons of light. You’re right, Mom…there are angels disguised as regular, ordinary people living around us. except, I call them my friends.

P.S. Yes, this counts as church.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

“Giving birth is little more than a set of muscular contractions granting passage of a child. Then the mother is born.”

Happy Mother’s Day! Do we actually believe that we get a day, all to ourselves, with nothing to do but bask in the sun, with our perfectly manicured nails, toned skin, and stretch-mark free tummies? WE ARE LYING TO OURSELVES! We get a nano-second in the lives of these little people that rely so much on us for everything. We are always on whine duty…Don’t get me wrong…I wouldn’t have it any other way! My life IS my life with the kids. They are the first things I think about every morning and the last people I text at night (because they don’t answer their phones for their own mother). I remember when Hannah was little I said that I would tell her ‘I love you’ every night, for the rest of her life. I would snuggle her into bed (my bed for 9 years), and kiss her on the same spot on her tiny little head. I continued this tradition with Ashley and Parker. Moms do this! Dad do this, too, but today is Mother’s Day and can you guys just wait one more month and I’ll write about you, too! From the moment they were born I can remember every detail about them. Hannah had a full head of hair…Ashley looked so sweet and tiny…Parker’s feet were gynormous…these were my first thoughts of these children who now rule my world. Moms have these gifts that no one can take away from them…the love at first sight shit that you hear about is real! Moms know this! And then the ride is a crazy one. My mom used to say, “You’re driving me to drink!”. I get it, mom!!! All moms get it. I am actually surprised that they are alive and that I didn’t kill them. I can’t even keep a houseplant alive, for Christ’s sake. I came close many a time. I rolled up Parker’s head in the window. I made them eat hot sauce when they were bad. I resorted to dish soap when they started to like the hot sauce, only to abandon it when my crying child blew soap bubbles and I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. And then there’s the ‘death grip’ they would receive (and every mother knows about the death grip, and if they say they don’t, then they are lying). But they lived… and they loved…. So much so that I would vacuum with one on my back carrier and one on my hip. I woke up with feet in my face. I went to bed with bottles of milk behind my pillow so that I wouldn’t have to walk to the kitchen when they woke up at night. My oldest didn’t sleep through the night until she was 5! It was an all nighter every night, and not the fun kind. We all know this! We all have had those moments where you just feel like you have on a suit of Velcro and they are just stuck to you. And they are fighting over who gets to sit by mom in the car, restaurant, plane. And you find yourself reading books to them as they poop on the potty. And the bathtub rituals end with bubbles everywhere and an empty tub of toys. And the nights are filled with putting the house back together, somehow, from toys to socks to crayons. And you tip toe around the bedroom like a stealth bank robber afraid to set off the alarm just so you can have an hour to yourself. Then you wake up from your mommy coma and they have gone from your bed to their bed, to down the street, to across the town. The shitheads grow up without even realizing it. Your days become consumed with being on the sidelines watching them grow up, whether it is on a football field, horse show, or an email account. You watch them make friends and find love. You watch them drive away and you say your prayers for them to “please be safe”. Your sleepless nights you had when they were babies become sleepless nights that you have until they are home from a night out with friends.  You teach love and caring only to watch some boy or girl break their heart…and there is no princess band aid that you can put on this one! Your kisses goodnight become a “goodnight, I love you “ text from your house to their dorm (preferably using emojis)...You go on their social media so you can see what they are doing; how they are feeling; and maybe a smiling selfie to assure you that they are happy. You did it!!! You survived step one! Yup, step one!!!!! Now what? Who knows? No one knows. No one knows anything about how to do this job that encompasses our hearts and fills our world. We figure it out as we go along. All moms figure it out as we go. No one knows what kind of kid they are going to get. Will they be good, bad, have addictions, depression,; be bullies or get bullied; have ambition or not. You just don’t know, so you take it day by day until you figure out what to do on THAT day. One thing is for sure and that is that we all want the same thing: happiness for our child. When asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day I wanted to yell, “Pills, a stiff drink, anything to get me away”, but in actuality all moms really want is to see them smile. That’s it! SO, Happy Mother’s Day to all the different types of moms out there and whatever kind of kids you are raising: the mothers of the Nairobi girls who can’t be found; the parents who lost a child for whatever reason, whether physically or emotionally; the mothers of leaders and of the losers; the physically challenged or the physically fit; the depressed or the hyper; the sinners or the saints. We don’t know what we are getting, so be patient with yourselves,,,and with them, too! In the end all we want is to see them smile…

“MMMMOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM” gotta go, someone needs me….

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

If you know me, you know that I am a sucker for words. Words that make me think; make YOU think; create a thought; change a perception; spark a friendship; solve a feud; bring people closer to their loved ones. I've collected words since I was little. I have many unfinished journals with quotes that meant something to me in my teenage years. I have photo albums full of birthday, holiday, whatever cards…starting with my 5th birthday. I guess I should have been a writer, but chose the soccer mom/taxi driver/professional shopper/collector of diplomas as a better route; although, they may just be props for writing material. When I share my words, or other peoples' words, it is because I am letting you into my life, and how I see the world through these foggy, rose colored glasses! 

This passage is one of my favorites! Enjoy it, apply it, share it! ((((hugs)))))

“I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with. Tell me why you loved them, then tell me why they loved you. Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through. Tell me what the word “home” means to you and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mother’s name just by the way you describe your bed room when you were 8. See, I wanna know the first time you felt the weight of hate and if that day still trembles beneath your bones. Do you prefer to play in puddles of rain or bounce in the bellies of snow? And if you were to build a snowman, would you rip two branches from a tree to build your snowman arms? Or would you leave the snowman armless for the sake of being harmless to the tree? And if you would, would you notice how that tree weeps for you because your snowman has no arms to hug you every time you kiss him on the cheek? Do you kiss your friends on the cheek? Do you sleep beside them when they’re sad, even if it makes your lover mad? Do you think that anger is a sincere emotion or just the timid motion of a fragile heart trying to beat away its pain? See, I wanna know what you think of your first name. And if you often lie awake at night and imagine your mother’s joy when she spoke it for the very first time. I want you tell me all the ways you’ve been unkind. Tell me all the ways you’ve been cruel. See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living. I wanna know how much of your life you spend just giving. And if you love yourself enough to also receive sometimes. I wanna know if you bleed sometimes through other people’s wounds.” 
-Andrea Gibson

Saturday, January 11, 2014


"To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”

Her smile is different. Her laugh sounds unfamiliar. I’m not sure when it happened. I think it started with her new found independence. The time she’s away from me. Her new life. I listen to the stories about her friends in each room on her dorm floor. It is almost as if I’m watching a soap opera, or a short documentary. And when she talks about these people that I have never met, she sparkles. Is it possible to sparkle, or light up when describing people or telling stories? It’s her life. It is about absorbing the relationships around her; and guarding them. She is kind when she talks about them; like they are in her heart. She is strong about them; like they are her ‘family’. We get in the elevator with a tall man-child. They talk about daily events like they are old-time friends, who are reconnecting. It is then that I realized that things are different. I am no longer responsible for her decisions or her friendships. I used to find mothers on the playground and exchange numbers to set up play dates. I would watch children at school, that I thought looked like they would be a good friend, and encourage relationships between my children. I did everything possible as a mother to make sure that MY children weren’t the ones that were left out, or the last to be picked for a team, or the ones who sat alone on the bus. I did everything possible to teach them how to make friends and be good people. I still tell them the same phrase when they get out of my car each day; “Be a friend to someone who doesn’t have a friend”, so that they know how important kindness, and integrity, and loyalty is in life. And you hope that these things ‘stick’. You hope that these are tools that they use in some aspect of their lives. Then you find yourself sitting next to your adult child and you listen; and reflect; and hear what they are truly saying between the words that are coming out of their mouth. That is when you realize how much they are watching you; when you’re driving to the grocery store, or you’re talking to a store employee; when you are with your friends, and when you are with complete strangers. It starts when they are babies. They learn about life through your actions. They learn how to care and how to live. She tells me stories about Room 204, or Room 508, or Room 345. She’s involved in a world that consists of 8 floors and 800 beds. It is her neighborhood. A boy goes by on a skateboard and she can tell me little snippets about whom he is and what he’s studying and where he is from. She knows the ‘secret’ doors to go in. She walks in the building with a sense of homecoming that I can feel inside myself. There is calmness about being there for her. Inside her dorm room she tells me things about her roommate like a mother that speaks of her own child. She describes things that her roommate likes, or doesn’t like. For instance, she says, “Don’t move Sarah’s chocolate, that is the only thing she is crazy about”. She has cabinets that hold ‘their’ cleaning supplies, ‘their’ lotions, and ‘their’ stuff. Her world. And I discovered that she knows how to do laundry, and make reservations, and fix her car, and pay debts, and replace ink, and schedule meetings. She has friends from all over the country and all over the world. She is excited about new classes and old friendships. She has friends with cancer and friends with struggles. She has sorority ‘families with ‘bigs’, and ‘littles’, and ‘grandbigs’, and ‘sisters’. She has friends on drugs and friends in trouble. She has friends ‘going nowhere’ and friends ‘on top of the world’. She has Monday night Chapter meetings and Friday night fraternity parties. We drive by restaurants and she tells me their menu or their wait times. We drive by buildings and she can tell me someone that lives in it or something about it. We enter the bookstore and she tells me that she likes to wander around here because she likes how it feels. And there are names I never heard before, like Alexa, or Celeste, or Simone; like Tiffany, or Jeremy. When she talks I watch her. She lights up. There is a sparkle and a driving force behind her words. I realize that parents set the stage. We lay the foundation. We give the initial pushes; like one foot in front of the other. Then the momentum gets going. The wheel starts spinning; like a snowball rolling down a hill. It starts off small, gathering as it goes. It rolls on and on until, before you know it, it has doubled in size. It grabs its surroundings as it’s rolling on. It takes what it needs. Some things stick to it and some things don’t. Then you find yourself sitting next to your child and listening to their outlook on life and friendships and experiences and you see that your words and actions have stuck. They are officially young people out in a great big world. And they are surviving. They know how to shop at the grocery store, and schedule an appointment, and fill out papers, and foster friendships, and care for other people. And all you can do as a parent is sit back and watch. I find my mind wandering when she is talking. I find myself watching her mouth and looking at her mannerisms when she is telling me her stories. I think to myself that this is a person that I would choose as a friend, if I didn’t know her. I watch her and I think, “what a cool person”. So my car, and hers, is full of what she brought home for the holidays. Her ‘stuff’. The final load is in the washing machine. She is still asleep. My last couple hours with the family intact. I am extra quiet this morning as to not awake her, because I know what it means when she starts her day. She, we, will drive 14.8 miles to a neighborhood, a ‘family’, a room, a building, with 800 people that get to see her every day. It doesn’t get any easier. She has an apartment starting this summer. She has no reason to stay at home anymore. Her breaks and vacations will be spent visiting home, but not staying home. And this makes me sad. But I am also happy for her life at the same time. I have so many friends and family members that have small children. I watch them playing and I think that someday they will be living on their own and paving their own paths. It happens in an instance. There are so many children that we have met in our lives that have passed away, got sick, lost their path from drugs or alcohol, had families broken up, got pregnant, that have started their lives as the little teary-eyed kindergartener in circle time with my children. It happens. Life can take a sharp turn that you don’t expect. Here’s a quote that sums it up, ““I walked over to the hill where we used to go and sled. There were a lot of little kids there. I watched them flying. Doing jumps and having races. And I thought that all those little kids are going to grow up someday. And all of those little kids are going to do the things that we do. And they will all kiss someone someday. But for now, sledding is enough. I think it would be great if sledding were always enough, but it isn't.” Don’t you wish you could freeze it? Time? She’s asleep now. I just went in her room and rubbed her arm. She is so soft and familiar. She awakes and I ask her if there are any last minute things she wants me to do for her. She says, “no mom, but thanks”. And I know that those 4 little words mean more than they convey. When she wakes up she will put her foot on the floor and then out into the world again. For now, I let her sleep in MY world, in OUR home, before she goes.

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