Recently in Lessons Category

My mother sent this card to me a while back with that title. This is what it said:

Turn off your TV. 
Leave your house. Know your neighbors. Greet people.
Look up when you are walking. Sit on your stoop. 
Plant flowers. Use your library. 
Play together. 
Buy from local merchants. Share what you have. 
Help a lost dog. Take children to the park.
Garden together. 
Support neighborhood schools. 
Fix it even if you didn't break it. 
Have pot lucks. 
Honor elders. Pick up litter. 
Read storeis aloud. 
Dance in the street. 
Talk to the mail carrier. 
Listen to the birds. Put up a swing. 
Help carry something heavy. 
Barter for your goods. 
Start a tradition. Ask a question. 
Hire young people for odd jobs. 
Organize a block party. 
Bake extra and share. Ask for help when you need it. 
Open your shades. Sing together. Share your skills. Take back the night.
 Turn up the music. Turn down the music. 
Listen before you react to anger. 
Mediate a conflict. 
Seek to understand. 
Learn from new and uncomfortable angles. 
Know that no one is silent athough many are not heard. 
Work to change this. 
Every year I make a list of New Years Resolutions. Every year. Except this one.

What can I say? I'm not feeling that whole "fresh start" minty anticipation. While I see that many good things are going to happen in 2010, I am painfully aware that many of us are still digging out of our holes from 2009 - literally. Not that getting out of these holes won't be miraculous in itself, mind you. But it's a process, isn't it? A long, graceless process at times. 

What I feel about 2010 is this: Still me, better shoes. 
This morning I was holding Asher as he slept and I whispered "Not too fast. Take your time" because I'm nervous his childhood and August's are going by too fast for my taste. I often find myself so caught up in the daily details that when I stop to look at my kids they have changed from the last break we had. August is sassy and Asher is quite opinionated. When did that happen? Mike will turn 30 this year. Holy hell, somebody slow this thing down!

In my life, something has shifted. It's a good thing. "One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it, and then it's done." says Joan of Arc. Moral of the story: Slow down. S L O W  D O W N. Enjoy this. Enjoy the snow.; it won't last. Enjoy the house - it's home. Enjoy your kids -they will grow up. 

So, I guess if that's a resolution, I'll take it. Be present. Relax. Enjoy.

I hope the same for you.

One year ago:
 And now:


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Because 2010 can be better.  xoxo PRJ

Sometimes by Sheenagh Pugh

Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care 
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

Louder Than Bombs

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So, I have one hour to type this. To unload from the depth of my soul. It makes me want to throw something.

Yesterday I had to submit a video about myself and my photography to Me Rah Ko in hopes of winning one of the three amazing SOAR Scholarships. I'm a little ashamed that I haven't mentioned this contest before now. I think I was trying to protect myself from whatever negative thoughts might run through my mind about my photography skills or my worthiness of being granted a scholarship. In the negativity department, we are quite busy  these days.

My sister, Alice, is the one who told me about the scholarship and I nearly did not apply because I kept thinking about how much she deserves it more than I. Her story is so much more compelling and frankly, she is more of an amazing person in general having a total of four kids, graduated from college, and spent countless months as a single mom while her husband serves in the military. Presently, he is in Afghanistan. She is the one who always sent out holiday cards, told me what a jerk I was being to our mother when we were teenagers and became the kind of mother who bakes muffins for her Sunday school class. She's also a mentor to teenage girls. Did I mention her youngest child is a toddler? As I said - amazing. Can I say that I am more deserving of the prizes and education that SOAR is offering? No. 

When I started making the video, I hated it. Just to look at myself on screen was humbling. Thus my post about needing a new hair style. Then there was the fact that the video could only be two minutes. Sell myself in two minutes? Dude, I'm not even sure any blog I've written could be read aloud in two minutes, let alone show photos and give a brief summary of who I am. 

Interestingly enough, after the 30th take, I started to feel pretty annoyed. Imagine that. I wanted to look at the camera and say, "I'm just like everybody else. I'm a stay at home mom who walks the tightrope between sainthood and institutionalization. Some days, I am very witty. Other days, not so much. These are my photos. I see potential for greatness there, but I need help. I hope this is the time and the way that I finally get to be my creative self and earn enough money doing it. Because, the fact is, unless I make some money doing this, it will be hard to convince everyone around me that it's worth them helping me out with my kids so I can pursue it. Thank you."

That's just sad. I truly feel that the only way I will ever be taken seriously in my creative efforts is if someone pays me to do it. I'm not sure that's how I feel art should be. And that is what I consider myself to be. That was another surprise I saw while entering this contest. I AM an artist. It's all there in me and it always has been. But I have been so afraid of walking that path because it is not practical. When you are sensitive to instability like I am and you surround yourself with creative people your whole life, it can be automatic to play the supportive role. How many artists did I date? How many live shows? How much energy was spent being "level" in my world of movers and shakers?

When my husband, Nick and I divorced in 1999, he started painting. He was already a very creative person. A world traveler who loved music with every cell of his being, he had only done notebook drawings before as far as I know. But I visited him at his new place and saw it littered with paints and canvases. Even his very first pieces moved me. After the divorce was final he continued painting. Years later when I attended a showing of his work, I remember thinking; If nothing else, one good thing came of our heartbreak - this. It propelled him into his art. In truth, I envied him. From then on, I wondered what would force me to come out of my shell?

I have a mile long list of reasons I do not fully pursue my art. If I thought it was hard ten years ago, it seems nearly impossible now. But I know that I am not alone in this feeling. This feeling of having "everything", yet nothing. 
It's totally shitty the situation most mothers are placed in these days. In my opinion, we really screwed ourselves when everyone moved to the suburbs and the village effort toward raising a family became a thing of the past. Older generations want their fun time and we want our houses to ourselves. I can't understand why we couldn't have both. I don't want to send my kids to daycare. I have trust issues! I want my mom or my mother-in-law or my sister to be the one who has the honor of being with my kids during my sanity breaks.  I want family dinner around the table. I want to spend time with my husband without feeling like someone is doing me a huge favor by hanging out with my children. I want to stop thinking of an uninterrupted meal/shower/minute as a luxury. I want to stop feeling guilty that I cannot handle 12 hours a day, five days a week with no breaks of my job as a stay at home mom. 

Can you imagine if you worked 12 hours each day Monday thru Friday for, say Target, and every other week someone said, "Maybe I can give you a couple hours on Sunday to have some time alone." And during that time alone you cleaned your work area and tried to feed your creative spirit by listening to music while you took a much needed shower?

It doesn't matter how we got here moms and dads. What matters is how we are going to fix this problem. We equip the breadwinner of the family - usually the husband- with all he needs to do his job. Money for commuting, lunch out, good clothes, coffee breaks, time to surf the net for inspiration or research, dinner when he gets home. But the person who is doing this all confessed "Most important job of raising the kids" barely has time to get dressed in the morning.  It's not right.

I know that some people reading this might think that I am trashing my husband here. But I'm not. I'm trashing us both for not planning this out better. I'm trashing anyone that knows us who thinks that we are okay with this situation and anyone who thinks I'm "lucky" when I hire a babysitter to come to my house next week for three hours.

I deserve something like the SOAR scholarship if only for the simple fact that I want to use my skills and the money I earn to make life a little easier for the women around me who are in the same boat. Our children deserve whole, calm, happy people around them so we can teach them to break this cycle in their generation. 

Right on cue, Asher has woke from his nap. I'll post the video submission and out-takes as soon as I can.


Um, Thanks?

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All month people have been posting on their FB status the things for which they are thankful. Several times I thought of doing the same, but I have so much that I am thankful for right now that I didn't know where to start. I'm not sure if that means that I am especially lucky this year, but it feels like it and that's why I am writing this post. Because your life simply can't be as great as mine and I want you to feel jealous. Mmm-k?

Penny's Unconventional List of Blessings (in no particular order)

The fact that my husband is nine years younger than I am.  There are days when I feel terribly old. I am tired and my reflection in the mirror looks like it needs 83 glasses of water and a make-up artist from a sci fi movie. But then there's my husband with his punk music, his boundless creativity and his ability to stay up late and wash the dinner dishes. I love that. I love him and all his boyish charm that still includes riding a skate board and tolerating my old lady crankiness.

The Matawan Ladies  From Gretchen who never fails to have a spare can of black beans to Rebecca who always has a quick joke, these women are a valuable part of my life who probably don't realize how much I do appreciate their invitations to drink hang out. Though I turn down those invitations more than I accept, it's the thought that counts - and the hope that one day I will be able to get all that drunken jolly insanity on video. 

Zoloft  It's no secret that the Jersey weather gets me down. Around this time of the year I start listening to Louden Wainwright and I am all, "Dear God, give me California or give me death!". If I am feeling severely blue I start searching the internet for Home Giveaways in AnywhereButHere USA. Oh wait, I do that every month. Anywho, my dear friend Zoloft has saved this family in more ways than what I am allowed to type and for that I send a big high five to my PCP, Dr. Simone.

The Conservatives on my FB Friends list.  You know who you are, Roger, Candy, Chris, Chad.... I'm not saying I vehemently disagree with you and want to stick a fork in your eye when it comes to healthcare, gay marriage  or hunting. I would never say such a crass thing. What I'm saying is that I do appreciate our differences and the fact that it has not got in the way of you loving me. And that's important to me - your love. I once had a woman write me a fan letter that started with the sentence "You and I are not alike." That's how I feel about many many people I adore on FB.

Yosi Sergant  I met Yosi back in California when we were both members of an soft porn underground online community. He worked for a company that made miracles happen with viral media. I knew then that he would move on to very great things but I had no idea that it involved working for the President of the US or that because of jerky Glenn Beck his name and voice would ricochet all over CNN for that... thing. I did not publicly say anything about this scandal then because I wanted to follow Yosi's lead on the situation. But right now I just want to say that Yosi inspires me daily. So much so, that there are three reasons my son's Hebrew name is Yosef and he is one of them. 

Phone Calls from My Parents  I am a bad daughter. I don't call my parents enough and when we talk I sometimes am distracted to point that if I were the person talking to me, I would hang up. But they still keep calling!!! It's like they made a contract with the devil. They call me and I don't ask where the inheritance is. 

My Sister's Ability to Do What I Never Could  My sister's husband has been away from his family a lot due to his military career. Time and again, Alice has stepped up to the plate and been a single mom of four children. This year Dan is in Afghanistan as I type and it will be months before we will be hearing form him due to his current job.  I do worry about my sis, but I also am profoundly thankful for her and my brother-in-law's service. All the reasons we have for fighting this war seem to be the same reasons for ending it sometimes.

Harleys  No, I don't own one, but my brother, Jim, does. It's his joy and in turn, it becomes my joy because I like to see him happy. And when it came to a choice between buying a Harley and marrying his last girlfriend we were all about the Harley. Great choice! Excellent!

The OutLaws This includes everyone from my mother-in-law to Mike's 2nd cousin of the Fallones, once removed (whoever that is) These people are crazy with a capital K. They remind me of a band of gypsy travelers with their own set of laws, traditions and foods. Anybody watch "The Riches"? Add in a lot more college educations and there you go. Or maybe they're more like pirates. Whatever. They are positively charming and generous to a fault. 

Those Who Click My LIKE Button  Wow, that sounds nasty. It's like, nothing, to hit that button, but so many are just too busy trying to think of witty Updates to notice my important posts on music, lost keys, the sleeping habits of my kid and my hair. HELLOOOOW-ah! This is my great contribution to the internets! I agree we totally need a dislike button for that video of the girls popping that guys' zit on his back. But your thumbs up on my profile page makes me super happy Kai Lan style. If you make positive comments too I am pretty sure this earns you points in Christian heaven. Angela, you are SO THERE!

August's Antics She's not in any recitals yet, but this girl's posing and twirling and leaping, however un-coordinated, never fails to make me smile. She is a Princess, a Dancer, a Lawyer and a Comedian at any second of the day. I now know what my mom felt all those years ago when "Because" was never a good enough answer. I try very heard to answer all those questions, but when I can't I am glad I can fall back on "It's magic. Your dad will tell you."

Asher's Cuteness  If he wasn't cute, Mike and I would have been arrested for abuse long ago. I don't know how all those parents with ugly babies do it.

My Husband Still Has a Job  What is there to explain here, really?

Other miscellaneous things I have to list per my Contract With Satan:

The Obama's
Top Tomato coming to a spot near me
Jamba juice
Temple Beth Ahm
Digital photo editing
Showtime On Demand
Kim Possible
The Bullet
The Ability to Feign Innocence
Old Friends Who Keep Their Mouths Shut

Eh, we'll end here. Be good people! Enjoy your freedoms on this Turkey Day!  Find a designated driver. Follow your prescriptions. When in doubt, have seconds. 

The Facebook Party

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My 20 year high school reunion was this past summer but I didn’t go. Aside from the fact that our family doesn’t have 2K to blow on such a trip back to the midwest, I actually already know what most of my old classmates are doing because of my new best friend –Facebook. On one hand, this is an awkward confession regarding what I do with my free time. On the other hand, one could say I’m pretty clever for saving two grand. Regardless, I am really enjoying this convenient form of communication in a cultural anthropology sort of way. 

These days I don’t have so many friends that I hang out with. This feels like a sad little confession as I type it. But it’s true. I have a cluster of other local moms that I enjoy being with but rarely get to see due to unrelenting teething and napping schedules. I have family nearby who are obligated to be nice to me. And thankfully, there are a couple of women around here who seem to like me in spite of the fact that I don’t heart NJ and I have the sense of humor that borders complete bitchiness. I cannot help but wonder if it is merely coincidence that both those women are British ex-pats. Anywho, you get the point. It can be lonely in the world of diapers, aging iTunes playlists and 8 PM bedtimes. 

But enter Facebook and the world opens up like a popular pub that serves gin and tonics 24/7. I know everyone and I have my own key to the Ladies Room. In Facebook Land I can catch up with old friends across the globe and make new ones all with the click of my hand.

A recent reconnect has been with one of those former classmates, Shelley. We went to high school together for one year, never had a meaningful conversation that I remember, and then she moved back home to Canada. I haven’t spoke to her in ten years. But then I saw her on Facebook and read her comments on other friends’ updates. 

Then I remembered she has a great sense of humor… 

Then she started stalking me.

Ok, not really. Shelley made her way to my website and started reading. When she was done there, she clicked on over to my old site and read some more. That’s a lot of reading, a lot of history about me; ten years of history, at least. After reading all that crap she wrote me a nice email with compliments and witty remarks, and shit. I mean, how could I NOT like her after that? 

So here is this person that I would love to kill some bottles of wine with, yet in high school we were simply not friends. How did that happen? Or not happen, as it were.

There is something about writing a thought down that makes one take notice. Often, what someone would never think to say in person, they will say in a note, a letter, a blog or an “Update”. That is, if you're doing it right.

Frankly, for someone like me who has been at this writing thing for quite a while, the internet is a great gift. It’s as if the entire rest of the world just started speaking my language. A small, albeit snotty, part of me looks at a service like Facebook and says, “Welcome to my world, bitches!” 

Picture 7.png

Aside from being able to express myself much easier in the written word, I completely enjoy conversing with people who swear they can hardly form coherent, readable sentences, yet become honest, witty authors of their little FB updates. Not that long ago, another former classmate wrote, “Divorce sucks” as his daily update. Of course, his friends (and strangers listed as Friends in his profile) commented with encouragement. Some even went so far as to say that he should stop focusing on the negative and cheer up. Me – I clicked the “like this” thumbs up. If there is anything I admire more than a sarcastic sense of humor, it’s honesty. Gut level – I don’t give a shit what you think –honesty. 

Of course there are some who use Facebook the same way they used the yearbook staff senior year. You know who I'm talking about. Their updates read like a list of achievements or worse, a motivational speech. You just want to smack, Smack, SMACK them around a little to hear one whimper of evidence that they are human. 

Bejesus, it’s just Facebook. You're not Kate Gosslin and this isn't your doctorate thesis. So stop being so damned haughty about it. You know you love looking up the old boyfriends, checking to see who’s fat, who’s divorced, whose kids are cute and assuring yourself that your kids really are better looking. (Not that I don’t think that your kids are cute but clearly, mine are in danger of being kidnapped and cloned.) Did that girl you dated back in '94 ever get her shit together? I dunno, let's look her up! Is Jeremy a Republican? Let's see. Will Zack remember you? Find out! Friend-ize  them all!

I’m lovin’ me some Facebook. Some time with my face in this book. I like to use Facebook for what it was intended: A SOCIAL NETWORKING site. It's a party, folks. If you walked up to me at a party and you said, "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet, Psalms 22:16" I'd be a little confused. Are you flirting with me or trying clear the room? 

"This quiz says my husband will leave me after 4 years." Well, we haven’t spoke in 22 years, but I believe you.

"I HATE Obama." Thanks for sharing.

Here's a tip: Be honest, but don't be a jackass. Pretend you are at a party. A room full of people. Some of us know you, but some of us are only acquainted with you. 

Look who's talking, I know. The chick who lives her life as an open book and publicly posts anything from family photos to random opinions about the war(s). But that's me. It truly is. Believe it or not, I am acutely, painstakingly aware of my "audience". I choose to go public about many things for the conversational factor - the hope that my words will inspire you to talk to each other about what I said. I'm not quite looking for your approval, but I'm not trying to hurt you either. You have to go to my website for the gritty stuff. Ya know, where it would be your choice to read further. Here, it's all just twits and giggles. If Facebook is a party, my personal website is a coffee date where you can decide if I'm actually full of shit or not.

That's what Shelley did. Thank goodness too, because I am not nearly as witty in every single update at this never ending shin-dig. I can't count the number of times I have almost written about my urgency to pee or the effects of a spicy meal. There is a very limited number of you that would be interested in that kind of information, I'm sure.  

Then again, the longer I'm here, the more it really does feel like we're all hanging out at a neighborhood pub. I better go easy on the cocktails. Shelley, can you drive us home?

I saw this movie today. Well, the end of a movie, about an artist who had a "bitter rivalry" with Picaso. It was one of those movies that brings up a strange, but familiar sort of panic in me. I am not doing enough. I am unknown. What legacy am I leaving behind? You know how it is with me. I wanted to leave my mark. Used to be very important to me.

My husband complains that his creativity is stifled at his current job as an Art Director. I lay awake at night when I desperately need sleep, thinking of all the art installations I might do, the books I really should write, the films I need to make. And I have yet to finish a scrapbook of my daughter's 1st year of life.

I'm not resentful, so please don't start that "It'll pass" cheer. I am, however, feeling quite reflective. More aware of where I've been. Where I haven't been. 

Some people are full of questions. They don't have meaning. They, perhaps, don't believe in God, or know what they are good at doing or wonder where they should live. They don't understand themselves. But, and I say this with all due respect, I am not one of those people. I was. But now, well, a lot of time has passed. A lot of things have happened. I learned. And I have answers now that I did not have before.

For example, I know how I like my eggs. This may not seem important, but it is. I once wrote:

"I never even knew myself

How did I like my eggs

I just danced around in pretty dresses 

and let you fill my plate"

It was about my dating life, my married life at one point. I just sort of faded into these men I loved. Lost track of me. I no longer do that. I'm comfortable in my own skin even if I'm not often comfortable in other places.

Yes, I have answers. I know where I want to live, how I want to live and who I want in my life. I know when to say No. No to many Facebook Applications! No to council meetings! No to expensive restaurants! No to credit card offers and a third appointment on the weekend! No to difficult friends. No to the 4th drink.

I'm good at that.

What I lack is time. Which some might say goes back to knowing when to say No. Time. I am 37 years old and there s not enough time left. That is the one thing I know that I am not content knowing.

I have books to write, several countries to experience and more than a few scrapbooks to finish. I have every reason to panic.


I was going through some old files on my hard drive and found this, circa 2004, probably. That was when I thought maybe I'd like to write for GQ. That alone, is comedy enough.

Things You Don’t Know About Women:

We wish all of you were required to take a class on how to bring us to orgasm. Because 90% of you have no clue.

Hiding your "package" behind sheets, a pillow or your fumbling hands after sex is not good. Letting it all hang out, like the man we know you are reeks of confidence and may get you a second round.

We want to love you. We really do.

We don't want to think about car maintenance, how to make the stereo sound better or what brand of tools are in the garage.

We think that if you want us to buy bigger breasts, it's only fair that you buy a bigger dick.

Your mother doesn't like us and we know it.

The amount we trust you and the more communication you give is directly linked to how much and what quality nooky you'll be getting.

We are counting your drinks at dinner even if you aren't.

If we feed you, clean your apartment or buy you an item of clothing, we are probably falling in love with you.

Watching you play on a sports team or in a band makes us want to rip your clothes off right then and there. So don't ignore us after the big game; we're just getting started.

A few days ago my brother in law said that it recently occurred to him that he knows very little about me. Though this was not surprising to me, the fact that he noticed it and said something to me is. A while back I resigned to the likeliness that my new family and friends here would probably never get to know me as some others have. This is not to say that they are selfish or that I am withholding information, but rather that our circumstance in life prevents that kind of relationship from coming about right now. I'm not really sure how that sounds to an objective mind, I just know it's what I have thought and that resignation has helped me not be so hard on myself or those around me in the last few months.
Or so I thought.

There are times when I so strongly feel the deficit of familiarity in my surroundings that I want nothing more than to leave - or worse- to scream my frustrations at the top of my lungs and reveal to each and every family member and friend how tired I am of hoping that there are no terrible long term effects of living this way. 

Because I do believe it will pass, eventually. The way I see it, one day, we will move away to an area that feels more like home, a place we can relax and not worry so much about who we have recently offended regarding the latest holiday gathering. By then my children will be starting school and I will be able to work more, thus making friends who are interested in similar things and have time to socialize beyond our children's naps and tantrums. There will be less obligation and more choice. Less worry, I hope.

But the fact remains that we should be able to feel that way now. We shouldn't have to move away from those who clearly care about us. We, or I, should be able to be myself here, now. And that's the question. How did this happen?

I just finished reading Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, a novel that gets right into those details of knowing someone but not knowing them and how what has passed in a person's life makes all the difference - no matter how little we speak of it.

From page 67:
People like it when you tell them things, in suitable portions, in a modest, intimate tone, and they think they know you, but they do not, they know about you, for what they are let in on are facts, not feelings, not what your opinion is about anything at all, not how what has happened to you and how all the decisions you have made have turned you into who you are. What they do is they fill in with their own feelings and opinion sand assumptions, and they compose a new life which has precious little to do with yours and that lets you off the hook. ... You only have to be polite and smile and keep paranoid thoughts at bay, because they will talk about you no matter how much you squirm, it is inevitable, and you would do the same thing yourself.

I keep a lot to myself these days. I smile, I try to be polite. I carefully select my facts and place them in conversations as a small effort to have people know me. Though I feel I am being equal in my attempts to reach out, it's not much, not much effort at all. That works fine unless I disagree with what has been done or said around me. Then, those thoughts take up too much space; they are too heavy to carry around for very long. Clearly, this approach to my life is not working. Especially when, again, we know it shouldn't be this way.

But what else is there? I am not so ready to make myself vulnerable again. I am not willing to hope that talking more and letting more "truths" slip out will suddenly change how people here see me or their willingness to accept me as I am - different, though quite valid. I am very much outnumbered anyway. But perhaps, as MJ said this weekend, it will lift some of the heaviness I try to pretend I do not carry. Perhaps we should just try it and let the chips fall where they may. 

The only way to accomplish this would be for me to realize too, that I do not know these people. Family or not, friend or not - I only know about them. Few feelings are discussed, though facts are usually out there, in suitable portions. I have to get past all the current misinterpretations and inaccurately filled in conclusions that have been relayed to me. There will be more. I have to erase what I think I know about them and do my best to give a more accurate view of me. After all, that is the only responsibility I have. The rest cannot be helped.

If you're wondering where I've been, you need look no further than outside your window. The sun has finally arrived in the Garden State and so has the new babysitter. I can't help it. It's like every time I sit down to my computer it feels like I'm just wasting those precious sunlight hours away. Which I am.

That's not to say I don't enjoy this writing. I do. But if you were pregnant, your brain would be all static-y too and you would also have trouble forming complete sentences, let alone complete thoughts. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I"M SAYING? DON'T MAKE ME CRY, Dammit!

Aside from frolicking in the sun, we have also been trying to nail down other summer plans, part of which include our very first family trip back to my hometown. As of yesterday we finally booked the flights and now my neurotic imagination can take over handling all the if and or buts regarding the reality of returning to the scene of my youthful crimes after a three year absence. 

THREE years. I think. The last time I was in Oklahoma was June of 2005. I attended a family reunion. I was barely single, and, unknown to me, I was barely pregnant. This time I am quite the opposite. 

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A few (several) years ago I attended my 1st high school reunion. I was one of the only women who did not have any children; what with the Midwest being the kind of place where everybody has the kids early and such. (We know it's true.) At that event several people remarked to me how lucky they thought I was to have been traveling and enjoying my freedom. I did feel lucky, yes. But I also felt that they were lucky too. With the exception of the expanding waistlines and growing debt, I thought that being a spouse and parent didn't seem that bad. I knew they probably enjoyed the soccer games and the annual holiday parties with people they have known forever. I was all too aware that the grass always smells sweeter from the other side of the fence. 

But I also know that enough distance, passed time and alcohol makes ordinarily pleasant people say the saddest things sometimes. Thoughts that normally are passing and dismissed as ridiculous fall right out of people's mouths when you haven't seen them in years, they won't be seeing you for another few years and they've been drinking. i consider myself sort of an expert at dealing with this by now, having spent most of my adult life relocating or traveling from place to place. 

I've heard it all. Everything from "I've always had a crush on you" to "I will never forgive you for leaving me here." The more awkward comments did happen at that last reunion, however. One old friend told me that she has done nothing with her life since we last saw each other and that I must hate her because she is so boring. Never mind that she had three lovely children and could probably still fit into her prom dress. And she was still married to the father of her children -a feat that at least half of the people in the state of Oklahoma could not accomplish. 

But this time.... this trip back "home" will be different. I'm the one who is married with my little girl in tow. And I am positive I cannot fit into my old prom dress in my very pregnant state. This will be a switch. I expect there will be those who will be happy to see me like this - feeling as though I will "finally see what it's like" to be them. As it is some sort of just punishment for all my years of travel trouble, music and art. Thankfully, this is not another high school reunion. But still - you know how it is when you go back to a place that was once your home base. Everything looks different, but feels the same.

But I'm different - at least I know I am. And it will be very interesting to have my two worlds collide. Again.