Marjorie Writes…

Everyday Musings of an Extraordinary Woman

I Voted Today – Did You?

I voted today.  Sigh. I voted because although I believe it is a privilege and a right that we are lucky to have, I also believe it is our civic duty to vote. So I did my civic duty and cast my ballot.

I remember clearly the first time I ever voted. I was living in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a senior in high school, and I was only 17. Virginia allowed those who would be of legal age during the general election to vote in the primary election, even if they weren’t yet 18.

Back then, I was very politically active. So politically active that I would drag my teenage butt out of bed way too early on Saturday mornings to attend the Democratic breakfasts every week. I would have breakfast, socialize and talk with other democrats, and have way too much coffee. Then I would often go home and want to take a nap. But I went every week, and I loved it.

Back then, I volunteered on political campaigns, too. And I LOVED it.

But I digress. My point was, back then I believed in our political system, believed that the people we were electing (or working to elect) made a difference, stood up for our best interests, etc. I believed that we could make a difference, that our votes counted, that our voices counted.

I believed in the America so many people around the world admired and respected. (And yes, I believed that they felt that way.)

That fall, of 1988, having mailed in my absentee ballot the month before, I sat eagerly glued to my tv, watching the returns of the elections. Those of you who are still political junkies (as I was back then) know it’s like watching the super bowl on television, it is that riveting.

One year, after voting in the primaries at the end of the day, and finding out I had been 1 of less than 100 people voting in my precinct, I went back to the newspaper office (in college – The Houston Cougar) and writing an editorial thanking those who had not voted for making my vote count, and telling them they had no right to complain now.

This year, after casting my ballot, I experienced none of that excitement or pride that I had always loved. I felt disgusted. And frustrated. And depressed. Yes, depressed, because that ballot symbolizes freedom to so much of the world, it symbolizes a political system that works. And I no longer believe that system does work.

I have little faith in either the incumbents or the candidates. Whereas once I believed those who served, served us, I now believe they serve their own interests and those of the lobbyists and big industries who supported their campaigns. Even when I was deeply involved in politics, after college when I was worked for a political consulting company and then working on campaigns as staff, I still believed that at least when people started out in politics or those in lower offices still had our best interests at heart. And I guess part of me still believes that to an extent, or at least desperately wants to believe, that is true. But for the most part, watching what is going on in our great nation makes me sad because I no longer see this country as the country I once kept my faith in and trusted.

The America I see on the news, the political system in Washington that has become more of a joke than a system that works, is barely visible to me anymore. And yet I see more small people making big differences, I see chains of small actions making big impacts on people, and that gives me faith. Maybe one day the people will get involved and the powers that be will be composed of the people who care and want to make a difference, and then this country and this world will be a better place.

I still have a lot of years ahead of me – I can’t give up faith yet.

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Boys Will Be Boys and Dogs Will Be Dogs

You know how a lot of people bury their deceased pets in their backyards? Yea, well that will never happen in my backyard again.

Earlier this summer, Broney, my son’s hamster, died. He insisted on a burial rather than my preference of a disposal of the body. So I wrapped it in a store bag, put it in an empty cell phone box, and dug a hole. We said a few words and put the box in the hole, covered it with dirt, and put a big rock on top of it to mark its spot. Oh, and to keep our dogs, who like to dig, from digging it up. My son got a Sharpie marker and wrote Broney the hamster RIP on top of the rock.

So today my son had one of his friends over. They’re generally inside and out and I don’t worry about them much – they’re good kids. Anyhow, they came in, everyone ate dinner, and I went into my room to use my laptop. A little while later my daughter comes in holding her nose. She says there is a really bad smell in the living room. Now, I have sinus issues and can never smell anything, good or bad. So I go out there to find 3 kids holding their noses. I ask what happened, since a smell that bad in the living room wouldn’t just come from nowhere out of the blue when it was fine all day.

Since I’m at a loss to find the source of the smell, I have the 3 kids “following their noses” to find the source of the stench. Meanwhile, I’m moving things around, looking under and behind everything, half afraid of what I’ll find. The kids are going around with air freshener spraying everywhere. We couldn’t find anything. They went outside to play for a little while and get some fresh air.

When they came back in, they told me it’s the dogs that stink. They had gone into the backyard and were playing with them and determined they were the cause. Apparently the living room no longer had the offending odor, thanks to their liberal use of the air sprays.

So then it comes out that my son had dug up his hamster to show his friend. Apparently he wasn’t very efficient at re-burying it, just basically putting the plastic bag on the dirt and putting the rock on top. Which, of course, allowed the dogs to get the hamster. While we couldn’t find the hamster at that point, the dogs needed to be bathed. I tried the little one first. With the hose outside set on shower, and baby shampoo (not having any dog shampoo in the house). She got away 3 times.

Finally, I carried her into my bathroom, turned on the shower, put her in the shower stall and shut the door. A moment later I stepped in, still wearing a tank top and yoga pants. I kept her calm and thoroughly washed her. Twice. Then came the fun part rinsing her. Acrobatics (on her part) ensued.  Finally, I dried her off and let her out.

Since my kids had said it was just the little one that stunk, I changed into dry clothes. About half hour later, shortly before I was going to take his friend home, they said the momma dog stunk too. So that had to wait until we got home. At which point, I lathered, rinsed and repeated with momma dog.  Then we gave them both dentastix to freshen their breath.

And then I got back into the shower, wanting to make sure that I didn’t smell like decomposing hamster dirty dog. And then I got the kids to bed, and finally got to sit back down. Ahhh.

Tomorrow we have a busy day of putting the house back together since we did such a good job of tearing it apart looking for the offensive stench. I’m sure that will be another story.

Moral of this story: next pet we have that dies will not be buried in our backyard. However, I feel pretty confident that my son did learn his lesson about not digging up animal remains.

Live, laugh, love….it makes it all worthwhile.

Seriously?!

When I left the post office today, I thought I was going to be writing a very different blog post than what I’m going to be writing.

After procrastinating over half of the day, I finally went out to run errands this afternoon, my last day of “freedom” before my kids come home.  I didn’t feel like running mundane errands like going to the bank and the post office and the grocery store. I wanted to either chill and do nothing at home but read and/or watch tv and relax, or go to the beach (not such a great weather day for the beach) but I had to get certain things done before my kids get home tomorrow. So to the post office (etc) I went.

When I went into the post office, I waited in line to buy a stamped envelope (I know, lazy, but I didn’t have any envelopes at home and I use them so rarely I didn’t feel like buying a box). I got my letter ready and then mailed it. Somewhere in there, before I left, the few of us in there were all talking. A man in there asked me what business I used to have (he said I looked familiar) so I told him. He said that was why I looked familiar. So the clerk asked what I was doing now. I replied that I was doing freelance work while looking for a “real” job.  He asked what I did, and said I should work there. Further conversation ensued. He asked for my card, which I didn’t have on me (not having my purse with me), so I wrote down my name and numbers for him, and at his request, a list of my computer and other skills. Thankfully, I forgot to write down this blog address, which he had been interested in.

I left the post office feeling great. I thought, ah, there was a reason I was procrastinating. I was meant to be there then, to get into that group conversation and find the possibility of employment.  I went about the rest of my errands with a spring in my step, thinking about how often chance intercedes and changes the course of our lives. I was thinking about the uplifting blog post I’d be writing when I got home.

After running all of my other errands, I stopped in to see a good friend while she was working. After we caught up, I was about to tell her about what happened at the post office, when I got a text notification on my phone. So I opened it. I think my mouth fell open when I read it.

“Hi Marjorie this is MICHAEL from the post office. If you like give me a call, I enjoyed talking with you.”

OMG I said to my friend, and quickly told her the story, ending with the text message. I was pretty annoyed that he had texted me. This was over an hour after the post office had closed. It was not professional, obviously had nothing to do with a job. She told me that she had been in there last week and the guy basically hit on her too. He hadn’t overtly hit on me while I was in there, I hadn’t been flirting with him in any way. It was just friendly conversation, I thought.

I came home, still seriously annoyed and posted about it on Facebook. One friend suggested in a message that I go to another post office. I said no, I’m not driving off the island just to go to a post office because of some idiot. And I’m not letting him control my actions. He’s a blip on the overall landscape of my life, unimportant.

Needless to say, I didn’t respond to his text. THREE HOURS LATER, I got another text:

“Guess u didn’t want to talk”

Ya think? Seriously? Even if they had a job there that they would hire me for, I couldn’t take it at this point – I will not go into a work environment where sexual harassment is a very real possibility. As much as I need and want a “real” job, I couldn’t work with him, not in a tiny little post office with a handful of employees.

To think when I left the post office, I thought this would have a happy ending (to borrow a friend’s comment from Facebook on the situation).

Live, love, laugh…it makes it all worthwhile!

 

Feeling Validated as a Mom

My kids have been gone for over 3 weeks now – they’ll be home in less than 2 days. When I talked to them this weekend (I’ve been talking to them everyday) they both indicated they were ready to come home. That made me feel really good, as they have been having fun with their father, but they still miss me and want to be with me, despite being with me 11+ months a year.

I should really be asleep – it’s very late and I have a LOT to do before picking them up at the airport Saturday morning (their flight comes in about 30 minutes before noon, but I’ll have to leave my house probably by 8:30 so I can get to the airport and get through security and wait at the gate for them.

However, tonight is the last night I can stay up as late as I want and sleep late the next day.  Hopefully my kids will sleep late when they come home, as I know they have been staying up very late. But I can’t count on it. And I want to spend time with them once they’re home, thus I want to get as many chores out of the way as possible. So, of course, I’m up late tonight, watching tv and playing games on Facebook, etc. You know, the important stuff.

I’m looking forward to the return of my kids – please remind me of that next week when they’re driving me nuts. But when they told me they were ready to come home the other day, it made my heard swell so much I thought it would pop out of my chest. Seriously, that’s mommy validation – even though they’re getting older and much more independent, and even though they’re with their father whom they only see for a few weeks every summer, they’ve been ready to get home to mom. Yay for me! (channeling whatshername from The Suite Life of Zach and Cody)

I have a long list of things I have to get done tomorrow, so wish me luck in that. But I know I’ll go to sleep with a smile on my face tomorrow night, knowing I’ll have my babies safe at home with me again the next day!

Live, love, laugh….it makes it all worthwhile!

Friends and Blessings – One and the Same

I know, I tend to write about friends a lot, but that’s in large part because I am blessed to have so many good friends in my life.  As my kids are gone for a long time this year (3 1/2 weeks), I’ve been not only getting together with my good friends, but also making a concerted effort to get caught up with those who don’t live close enough to get together with. As for many moms with young kids, it’s often hard for me to chat on the phone for long, as those conversations are often repeatedly interrupted by my kids. As they get older, I do get to spend more time on the phone, uninterrupted, but my daughter often likes to pepper those conversations with multiple questions to me: Who are you talking to? What are you talking about? Are you talking about me? No, this is what happened….you get the picture.

So far in the past 2 weeks, I’ve gone out for dinner and drinks with several friends and groups of friends, went kayaking in the ocean and hung out on the beach, spent the day at a music and wellness festival, had a long lunch with an friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, had numerous long phone calls and even a long Skype video call with a friend I haven’t seen in person in probably over 20 years. Of course, I’ve also had a lot of quiet, down time, time to spend doing chores, working, reading, watching movies, and reflecting a great deal over the many blessings in my life.

I may complain regularly about not having a full time job and about what a handful my kids are, but I know for certain there are few people as blessed as I am.  Despite my lack of luck in my love life (which is non-existent right now) I am so blessed to have a tremendous amount of love in my life. My kids, 9 and 11 now, make me smile and laugh and fill my heart to bursting on a very regular basis (that is, of course, when they’re not making me pull my hair out, especially the almost pubescent 11 year old). And my friends? I marvel at the fact that I have been so blessed by who has been put into my life and who has stayed there.

I am a very loyal friend, the kind who is willing to do anything for my friends. And that has been so greatly reciprocated by so many amazing people, I am so thankful.  My friends make me smile and laugh and lift me up on a regular basis. And they are always there for me, as I am there for them. While I have a strong sense of self-worth and self-confidence, and know my true value as a person and very rarely doubt or negate that, there is nothing better to boost that than friends who believe in you and show unwavering confidence in you, especially when you’re in uncertain times.

I have been counting my blessings a lot these past couple of weeks, when I’ve had so much peace and quiet in my home. Granted, there is generally a lot of peace in my home, but quiet (especially during the summer days of kids coming in and out and playing and laughing and fighting) has been somewhat scarce in the past couple of months. This quiet time has given me time to reflect and thank G-d and my Angels for the love and peace, friends and blessings, in my life. I am especially grateful for my parents, despite them both having been taken from me far too soon. Between the values they instilled in me both through teachings and their own actions and words, and those beliefs they instilled in me, it helped shape me into the person I am today, with the life I have so full of friends and love.

I could go on and on, but I think my points have been made. Thank you to all of my good friends out there – you know who you are. I love you so much, you bring so much to my life. And I’ll always be there for you, as you’ve always been there for me.

Live, love, laugh….it makes it all worthwhile!

And the Countdown Begins…

I have my kids all year long, no break unless I hire a babysitter, they’re in school, or have a playdate or sleepover. And I don’t complain. But for a few weeks every summer, they go visit their father and grandparents, and then I get my break.

My kids are leaving on Tuesday evening for about 3 1/2 weeks with their father and his family. I get a long break this year.

Generally, by the time school gets out, I’m almost ready for them to go. And by the time we’re a couple of weeks into summer, I’m completely ready. This year, school got out later than usual, and we had no camp activities scheduled to occupy them. In other words, they’ve been around 24/7 except for a few sleepovers. And surprisingly, they haven’t been driving me completely crazy, despite having their friends over regularly and my house being wrecked on a regular basis. In fact at this point, I’m planning on cleaning it after they leave.

In the past week, I haven’t felt ready for them to leave. They must have felt this since this weekend they have been trying their best to drive me crazy. Of course, it’s not working. I think they’re trying to help my adjustment. So sweet.

The day after they leave is my birthday. I’ll be 29 again. Or wait, I’ll be 35 again. Whatever it is, I’ll be a year older. Anyhow, my daughter decided today was the day we were celebrating. This afternoon, she changed her name in my cell phone to that of my best friend. Then she texted me asking what my favorite food was. That clued me in and I looked at the number and told her she was busted. Mind you, the last name she had on my phone was Goofy Girl, and that was after she changed her name to Unknown so when she called or texted me it came up as Unknown. Now I’ve changed it to Silly Girl.

Anyhow, my Silly Girl made a chicken pot pie from the freezer, saying it was for herself. She served it to me with a glass of lemonade, after moving a small table into the living room in front of the couch where I was sitting. She also presented me with a homemade card and a new tube of lipstick, wrapped prettily. It was all incredibly sweet – I was sure she wanted me not to want her to go. Of course that was until later, when she ran me ragged and then wouldn’t go to sleep.

So I’m down to a day and a half before they leave and nothing is packed. Not only is it not packed, but I have a ton of laundry (all clean) to sort through and fold. I guess that will make it easier to pack them. And then before I can blink, I’ll be driving them to the airport and putting them on an airplane to fly across the country. Yes, I’m still ambivalent about them leaving, for the first time ever.

If you talk to me in 3 days, I’ll be missing them terribly and won’t be sure of what to do with myself. If you talk to me in 3 weeks, I’ll be having a great time and not ready for them to come back. We do this every year. But this year they have Oovoo and Skype on their phones, which will encourage them to call me more, because they think video chatting is so cool. Gotta love technology!

Live, love, laugh…it makes it all worthwhile!

Friends and Perspectives

When I first started this blog, one of the things I wrote most about was friends. I’m still grateful for my friends, that will never change. Both old and new friends are so important.

One of the great things about friends, aside from the obvious fun, sharing, being there for each other, is the opportunity to see things in a different light. And they can encourage you to step out of your comfort zones, or try new things. Or just look at things from different perspectives.

While I’m often good at doing that for my friends, I’m also sometimes not so good at doing it for myself. For instance, I’m looking for full-time work right now, so money is tight. My friend suggested we take the kids down to Washington, DC for a couple of days. When I told her I really couldn’t afford to spend a lot of money, she came up with a new suggestion. So instead of staying over, we’re driving down for the day tomorrow. It’s only roughly a 3 hour drive from here, so we’re packing up the kids and a lunch, and going. Many of the attractions there are free, and with our packed lunch and snacks, we’ll be able to have a fun, different day with the kids for a limited expense.  We’ll have dinner before we head home, and our kids should come home tired and happy, having had a fun day in a different city. (As well as them having spent the day in our nation’s capitol, which they are very excited about!)

At some point, once I’m working more (or at least have a stronger source of income) I plan to take them back. One day is nowhere near enough time to see everything there. I know it’s going to leave me wanting a lot more – I love DC, but haven’t been there for years. And this new perspective on doing things on a tight budget should translate well for the rest of the summer. A lot of the places I really want to take them in Philadelphia aren’t free. However, there is so much there that is so historical and free that we could easily go for the day and have a great time, and it’s also a great learning trip for them.

When I first decided to move up to the Jersey Shore, it was right after my daughter was born. One of the things I was most excited about was that there were so many historic areas in such a close area. I had grand plans to teach them history through trips up and down the coast. Sadly, about the only time we’ve done that was when we went to Gettysburg upon evacuating from a hurricane (which didn’t end up hitting us, thankfully). And that trip was infused with history and ghost-hunting. Very fun, even if it would have been more fun for me had I not spent half of the time preoccupied about whether our home would be there when we returned.

So thank goodness for friends. I’ve always loved my friends, and as I move through my life, I’ve always been thankful for the friends I’ve made along the way.

Live, love, laugh…it makes it all worthwhile!

It Is What It Is

Do you believe in signs or messages from loved ones who have passed?

Starting on Thursday (July 4) I have either heard or read a post on Facebook (today) someone say “It is what it is”. The thing is, that was one of my father’s regular sayings. My Dad had a lot of sayings, or Goodmanisms, as someone once coined them. When I was younger, I thought they all sounded corny and they used to drive me crazy. As I got older (possibly more mature?) I came to appreciate the wisdom in his simple sounding sayings.

mugs

So when I talked to my cousin on Thursday, at one point in the conversation, he said it is what it is. And I said that my father always said that, which led to a conversation remembering my father. I can’t remember where I heard it on Friday, but I know I did. And then yesterday, when I had a table at the local Summer Fest (selling gorgeous hand-made pottery mugs with these great reiki-charged healing stones (leave me a comment if you’re interested!)) I was talking to the vendor next to me. I don’t recall the specifics of the conversation when he said it, but he, too, said it is what it is. And then a friend of mine from high school posted a picture of her new charm bracelet with a charm that said it, today.

Ok, so apparently I needed to be hit over the head with it. My father is trying to send me a message. It is what it is. I can’t change it so I have to accept it. Or just leave it alone. But what? I’ve been thinking about this on and off all day, trying to figure out what it is he wants me to accept or leave alone. And I just cannot figure it out. And yes, it’s driving me crazy.

So it is what it is. When I figure out what he’s trying to tell me (aside from the obvious), I’ll let y’all know.

Live, love, laugh…..it makes it all worthwhile!

Just Do It

I just watched a YouTube video someone had posted on Facebook. Wow, talk about powerful! I don’t know what the laws are concerning these posts, but I’m sharing the link here: http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiS8q_fifa0. All of the attributions are on the YouTube post.

Did you watch it? Amazing, right? She made some incredible points. A friend of mine, after watching the video, said, “Boobs are functional, but they are also objects of beauty.” He had a good point. My response was that they were never more beautiful than when providing sustenance to a baby.

This poem by this woman, Hollie, was incredibly moving. And it made me remember my experiences as a new mother. First of all, I was shy about having my breasts out in public (and they say childbirth takes away a woman’s modesty!). And while I’d gotten the hang of getting the baby latched on, I wasn’t so adept at it when combined with subtlety. So for the first month or so, I tried to only nurse my daughter when I was somewhere I could do it in private.

Then my brother came in town. And you know, no matter how well you get the schedule down for feeding a baby, babies go through growth spurts and change their schedules, or make their mothers change their schedules, depending on their needs. So when my daughter was maybe a month and a half, we went to the airport to pick him up. And as we were waiting for his plane, with more than plenty of time before her next scheduled feeding, she started crying. After a while, a mother learns to recognize what her baby’s cries mean, and this one meant she was hungry. I tried soothing her, but she wasn’t interested in anything other than being fed.

It was at this point I took my first foray into public breastfeeding. Using one of the baby blankets to cover her head (and my breast, stomach, etc), I began to nurse her. But of course, she didn’t want to be covered. What’s a mother to do. I did my best to make it as discreet as possible.

And so began my foray into breastfeeding my baby in front of others. I am pretty sure I flashed my husband’s cousin. Oh well, I’m sure he wasn’t the only one who got a flash. And guess what, that’s ok. I was feeding my baby and that was more important than a little modesty (not that I did it on purpose, or wasn’t embarrassed).

I nursed my daughter for the first year of her life. I became very proficient. By the time my son came along, I was an old pro. And I knew the tricks, and had the wardrobe (nursing shirts and bras made it easier). In fact, I worked for my father when my son was born, and I was running a cash register with a long line of customers one day when my son announced his hunger. So I put him in the Baby Bjorn carrier (greatest invention at the time – he was a big boy and with the lumbar support I had no pain or discomfort with him in there), and quickly got him latched on, and voila, I went back to ringing up customers and taking orders. And everyone just assumed he was sleeping in there! Given people’s reactions sometimes at breastfeeding in public, I got a kick out of it.

So nurse your babies when they need it, no matter where you are. How is that somehow not acceptable, when you see less of the breast with a baby in front of it than you see by modern fashions with shirts cut down to there? Or on the beach with the little bikinis or even tank suits that are revealing. There’s nothing more natural, more beautiful, and more healthy for your baby!

Live, laugh, love….it makes it all worthwhile!

 

 

Happy 4th of July

Happy 4th of July, y’all! I hope everyone had a good day, enjoying the summer (we had great weather here!), celebrating with family and friends, watching the fireworks. I’m so grateful today to live in this great country where we have so much freedom and we are generally safe to live and enjoy our lives.

I had a peaceful, relaxing day. Spent the early part of the day relaxing with my kids, then my son’s friend came over and all 3 of them played well together – ok, so that part wasn’t fully peaceful, but it was filled with the sounds of kids playing and laughing, so it was good. I even bounced on my son’s huge bouncy ball and laughed like a child myself. Tonight, we went down the road by the bay to watch the fireworks – always a good time.

I spoke with my cousin tonight for the first time in a few years – I called to wish him happy birthday. I was so glad to speak with him because there was some discord between us a few years back, caused by my ex-husband. That has bothered me so much because he was always the cousin I was closest to, despite the 12 year age difference. It felt good to chat with him this afternoon.

Today would have been my parents’ 45th wedding anniversary, if my mom hadn’t died 24 years ago and my dad 4 years ago. My mom used to say she picked July 4 so my father would never be able to forget their anniversary. Smart woman. And that she told him it was an hour earlier than it was so he’d be on time. Now, I only remember my dad as being very punctual, but then I don’t know what he was like when he was younger.

I generally don’t get too thoughtful about the anniversary on July 4. This year, I keep thinking about it. And choking up (and tearing up) when talking about it. I don’t know why the change this year, but my guess is it’s because I’ve been missing my parents so much lately.

So many of my friends who are lucky enough to still have their parents complain about them regularly. And I was the first one to complain about my father, despite how close I was to him. He was incredibly stubborn (a family trait from his side of the family) and was always often certain his way was the better way to do anything. And while he was often right about some things, it wasn’t always the case, and it usually wasn’t what I wanted to hear. However, I would do anything to have him back. And my mom. And so I always tell my friends that as crazy as their parents may drive them, make sure they appreciate them and enjoy them and love them while they are still here.

I am so blessed to have my kids and great friends and loving, fun extended family members. But that doesn’t stop me from feeling like I don’t have family, although I keep reminding myself that my kids are my family. And they are amazing and wonderful and annoying and everything in between. I just feel every so often that I’m letting them down since they aren’t getting the whole extended family experience.

Anyhow, today was one of those days that I tried to forget about all of it and just relax and enjoy the family I have in my home. And it was a great day. But then, how can it be a bad day if it ends with a beautiful display of fireworks on the bay?

Live, love, laugh….it makes it all worthwhile!

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