Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Imaginary Conversations

So, play this one loud. (There is a YouTube video embedded here of Ruthie Foster singing "People Grinnin' in Your Face."



(If I may just start with an aside (why, of course, you can, Barb!  How would that be any different than how you usually start??) have I ever told y'all my theory of how I got my voice and not, say, the voice of Ruthie Foster? Here's my theory: When Aretha Franklin was born, God was about to put her voice box in her when it slipped from his hand and shattered on the floor.  So he said, "Hand me that voice I was saving for Barb Cooper and I'll make her another one."  So then when *I* was born, God was out at the dentist and the angels didn't know I was destined for a different sort of voice and they just gave me Standard Teeny White Girl Voice Number 63.  Which is how I was born with a love of soul so deep that it curls my toes but no way at all to express it.  Except for singing in my car, which brings us right back to today's blog post.)  (Oh, am I good or what??)

Last week, I got back from having lunch with my friend Sherry and I was BELTING out that song as I walked from my car to the house. (And, y'all, I sounded JUST like Ruthie. I ALSO was doing an a cappella version! Is that amazing? Because we soul sisters just naturally groove together...)

(Oh, just...hush. Hush UP.)

Anyway, I was BELTING out that song in the way a woman who is almost positive no one is listening can do. BELTING. At FULL VOICE.

And then I cracked up laughing, thinking of the potential for someone to not only be listening, but to be formulating another anonymous complaint letter.

Dear Neighbors,

We assume you do not realize that everyone in our community does not enjoy listening to your singing (even if you do do sound JUST LIKE Ruthie Foster, OMG!) If your constant singing cannot be controlled, please do it inside.

Thank you for your consideration,
A (cowardly, chicken) neighbor

So, THEN, we had the first Epic Water Fight of 2010.
It started with a volley of water balloons and quickly escalated into full on hose warfare. (And may I just say that Coop VASTLY underestimated the cunning and cooperation of his opponents. He should have divided and conquered, which is how I get them up and ready for school every morning.)

Dear Neighbors,

We assume you do not realize that everyone in our community does not enjoy listening to your family engaging in water warfare in your yard. If you MUST play with water (thanks for watering our shrubs, by the way), please do the shrieking part INSIDE.

Thank you for your consideration,
A long-suffering neighbor


So, THEN, Ana had her friend Andrew over to play some guitar and at one point, the house was just reverberating with the sounds of "Stairway to Heaven" and I kind of wondered what the anonymous neighbors would say to that?

Dear Neighbors,

Please.  Please.  PLAY SOMETHING ELSE.  Led Zeppelin is not something anyone in this community wants to hear.

A neighbor

PS: Thank you for setting up the new mailbox for our letters.  We do think, though, that you could remove  the sign that says, "Please place cowardly anonymous notes HERE."

And then Jane had her biweekly drum lesson.  Her drum teacher says she hits the drums like a forty-year-old man.  She is very strong.

Dear Neighbors,

Uncle.  Put the freaking dog outside again. We preferred him.

Your neighbor

Monday, May 24, 2010

Checking In

Due to an inordinate amount of stupidity in my life at the moment (not all of it on my part), I have temporarily lost my sense of humor.

I think I feel it coming back, which why I think this is only temporary.

Anyway, I have many posts in the works, including imaginary conversations between my "anonymous" neighbors and me, and the Texas School Board discussing things amongst itself (because, really, what the heck were they thinking??)

Meanwhile, please, enjoy this video of Edward's feet twitching as he dreams. Because, honestly? I didn't know cats HAD dreams and also? What is better in life than Edward's toes?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

That Giant Sucking Sound

Is the sound of my week so far.

On Monday, someone left an anonymous letter in my mailbox complaining about Scout barking. Because I am really working on living mindfully and checking in with my body and feeling my emotions as they happen and not stuffing them with food, I noticed almost immediately that, for the most part what I was feeling was pretty freaking pissed off. Not that someone complained about my dog (because let's face it, no one complains more than I do about Scout) but because they chose such a cowardly, unneighborly, mean, unanswerable and chicken-shit method.

Also, I know they have a point.  He does bark too much.  We are really working on it. We try to keep him inside as much as possible and to bring him in as soon as he starts barking.  He's always in by 9:00 at night. We think he's gotten better by influence of the puppy, who is not much of a barker at all and who is smart enough to recognize that if someone has just gone outside and steps back inside the house, that person has probably just forgotten something.  It's not an entirely new person who might be Very Scary.

Anyway, we bought and installed a device that emits a high-pitched shriek when Scout barks and that seemed to deter him for the several weeks during which he cowered in the back room and refused to even go outside.  It seems to have worn off, though. Next, we're going to try one of those citronella bark collars, because even if it doesn't work, maybe it will help with the mosquito problem later in the summer. We will continue to try to train him, to buy expensive gadgets aimed at this addressing this issue, and we are even willing to bring in a dog trainer on a regular basis.

I would have loved to have said all this to the complainer in person so the person would know that we really are trying to do something about Scout, but I won't get that opportunity.  I hate anonymous cowards--I mean, have the courage of your convictions and don't hide behind snarky anonymity. (That first sentence in that letter is snarky, snarky, snarky.)

Then on Tuesday, I went back to my podiatrist to get the results of the latest MRI on my foot.  And the results are.... there are no results.  The MRI didn't pinpoint why I am once again in so much pain.  I mean, y'all, there are days when I CANNOT WALK on that foot.  Clearly something is wrong.  I was kind of hoping for an answer. It just doesn't seem like that much to ask.

And now to Wednesday: I started the day today by exploding Ana's clay creation that I was trying to bake in the oven.  Apparently, we did something wrong because BOOM, the next thing I know I was vacuuming out my oven.  (You do that, too, right?)  The smell was so acrid that Jane burst into tears and I had to open all the windows, thus letting out a bazillion dollars worth of heat.  Because, oh YES we have the heat on even though it is mid-May because it is in the freaking 40's, not that I'm bitter.

Also, today is one of those gray, rainy gross days. I mean, it wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have a zillion errands to run.  In the rain.  Most of them completely fruitless.  To wit: during Edward's latest illness, he peed on my couch.  The good couch, as opposed to the one the puppy has been gradually eating.  I was able to wash the micro-suede couch cushion covers but the foam on the inside was a complete loss.  About two weeks ago, I finally found someone who could re-stuff the covers (most places refused since they weren't actually getting to recover the cushions themselves, which just... I... WHATEVER.  I have stopped taking it personally when people don't want to take my money.  Even when it's for doing next to nothing.  (Okay, I haven't TOTALLY stopped taking it personally.)) I've made two trips over to the store to pick them up and NO CUSHIONS.  The first time the woman didn't call to tell me that the special five inch foam hadn't come in as ordered and just now I went back and the shop was locked up tight with a closed sign on it.

Y'all, this IS New York.  Do you think there is a black market for couch cushion covers?? IS THIS THE WORK OF ORGANIZED CRIME???

Meanwhile, I decided to have this woman also give me a bid on recovering the couch that the puppy keeps nibbling.  I packed everything up into my van (did I mention it is raining?) before I went over there just now. So, now I have one couch that looks like this:

And another one that looks like this:

And house guests coming tomorrow.

The cleaners are here.  Where are they going to put the couch stripes??

You know, maybe Scout barks so much to keep from just hauling off and biting people.  I kind of feel like biting someone.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Almost Certainly Excessive

We...um...

Well, we had good intentions.

We resolved not to plant quite so many plants this year.  Not QUITE so many cucumbers.

But then the Spring sort of...SPRUNG and the next thing you know, we were lining up to buy plants.
I like the really tall flower in the back.  Very rare and expensive species, though.
We just couldn't help ourselves.

(Truthfully, we didn't try that hard.)

In the end, we had so many plants that I filled in almost every container we had after we filled up the raised planting beds.

It was almost certainly totally excessive.

We're okay with that.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Almost Two Weeks Now

I've been trying to live mindfully for almost two weeks now.

And Thursday, I almost got hit head-on by a bus.

So, you know, things have not been uneventful, exactly.

It's been an amazing experience and incredibly enlightening.

And kind of exhausting, really.

It turns out that this living mindfully stuff doesn't really come all that naturally to me.  I'm having to work at it and sometimes I fall down.  Sometimes I fall down in quite a spectacular way.

I've been doing this little daily devotions/meditations/mission/etc. at my new blog Listening for a Change.  This is a wonderful exercise because I sit down in the few moments I have in the morning before my family gets up.  I have time to search my heart and pinpoint where my anxiety is coming from.

Anxiety is pretty much a constant with me.  I honestly did not know this.

The things I am anxious about range from ridiculous things so far outside of my control as to be ludicrous (global warming) and things like worrying that I have forgotten to brush my teeth.  (50/50 chance.)

But when I slow down long enough to figure out what I'm feeling, I end up not stuffing those feelings with food.  I've probably lost a few pounds (although I have hidden my scale because it is no longer acceptable for me to determine my self-worth by a number on a scale.)  (Okay, okay, yes, I did weigh myself before I hid it.  I'm EVOLVING--I didn't say I was all the way evolved.)

(As yet another aside--because how else would you know it was me --not ALL feelings take a while for me to recognize.  Thursday, for example when the bus stopped millimeters before it slammed into my van head-on, I got to the point rather quickly.  "Oh my GOSH, I don't want to die in QUEENS! Not on a bad hair day!")

The hardest thing for me is to stop multitasking all the time, especially when I am having a meal. I'm not very good at this and I have to remind myself to just eat one mouthful at a time, really tasting each one and listening for my body to tell me it's had enough.  I'll be very honest and tell you that sometimes I'm finished just because I'm so bored.  But if I was just eating and reading and surfing the net, I'd finish whatever is on my plate.  Try it.  Sit and eat a meal (by yourself--it's a lot easier if you have someone to talk to) without doing ANYTHING else.

Anyway, I've been working on this post for a week now. There's a lot of stuff going on in my life and I am honestly making a concerted effort to be fully present in the moment and to listen to the tiny voice inside of me that  I can finally hear again.  I hadn't even known it wasn't there.  I'd been putting myself so far down the list of people I love and want to take care of that I just forgot to ever check in with myself.

In all honesty, I think this started when my foot would no longer carry me. I think I started to actively punish myself for being defective and I just continued.  I drank too much for a while.  I ate too much for a while.  Anything to blunt the pain of dealing with a body that would no longer do what I asked of it.

I stopped exercising because I was in pain and I just never started again--not because I paid the price for exercising but because I pay the price for NOT.  I love exercise --well, I love how it makes me feel anyway.  I love to be active and feel strong.  (I LOVE those endorphins.) But I think I decided that if I couldn't do the kind of running and walking I loved, I just wasn't going to do anything.

So, that's where I'm at right now --trying to just be a little kinder to myself, to slow down long enough to recognize my own feelings and to set some boundaries so I don't end up stressed and numb and miserable.

Y'all.  I could be onto something.