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Honey Doh List

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Photo 60.jpgThis is me this morning holding part of a scrap-booking kit my sister sent me. It's called 365 and the idea is - you guessed it - to take a photo a day for the entire year of 2010. The designer kit is supposed to take the guesswork out of the process. But, me, I like to take simple things and make them complicated. So, there I was Sunday making Mike use his professional designer eyes to put the cards in their slots. 

The scrapbook is just one of many projects I'm taking on this year. I figure I am bound to finish two out of the dozen or so I have mulling around in my head. In my "spare" time I plan to rebuild the US economy. Hey, why not? 

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. 


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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.


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A very long time ago I interviewed Ian Moore for That night he performed live at the Blue Door in Oklahoma City and dedicated a song to me that he said was about his mother who had passed away. He said I reminded him of her. I was so taken back by the compliment that I have since struggled to
remember what the song was, but cannot. After seeing this video, I am wondering if this might be it.

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.


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Another perfectly good white boy goes to waste. And a talented one at that.

If you've ever lost a camera, you'll know what a great site this is. Pass it on.

Lily White Dreams

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We're thinking about leaving.

Okay, so it's just for a three or four day weekend, but WOW it felt nice to say that.

If you could see out my window right now you'd tell us to leave. If you could see my face, you'd pay for my vacation. You'd pat me on the shoulder and say, "Look girl, go get some sun. Relax for once in your damn life." Because, I'm telling you, nobody likes me when I'm this pale.

When I was a little girl, I had a bad dream one night. My mom came into my room to comfort me and she told me that whenever I can't get to sleep that I should think of something that I like and imagine I am doing that. She suggested I think about my birthday and imagine that I am having a party. Since then, I have become an expert daydreamer - at night. And it helps me get to sleep. 

For the last, oh maybe four months, I have been imagining myself on a warm beach with Augs and MJ. The sun is  healing me like the fountain of youth and not a centimeter on my body is remotely chilly. I look fabulous. August is potty trained and MJ has been surfing every morning. In this dream we have no plans to return to NJ or cold weather again. A butler is bringing us lunch, and I do not feel even slightly self conscious about this.  This daydream works better than NyQuil. 

So you can imagine my fear and dread since MJ suggested we get away for a few days. I am now bound up in my goal to make it happen. This cannot be a tease. With drool on my chin my pale, sunken eyes are searching the friendly skies for the cheapest tickets to Florida available. And my slack, lily white ass is preparing itself to renew it's tan lines.

We Can

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We are one people.