Thursday, January 28, 2010

Persona Non-Grata

Ever have those weeks?

You roll your ankle walking to the bus. You break your favorite coffee mug. The vibe in your house is wonky and everyone feels on edge. You try a real-honest-to-goodness recipe for bread and it tastes like packing peanuts and weighs as much as a phone book? Damn dogs upstairs won't stop barking? Damn novel won't stop sucking and you're blowing a big-girl deadline? Your hair is flat, your pants are wrinkled, your kid hates the lunch you packed, and the overpriced coffee you bought is burned.
Yeah. It's one of those.

I tried to keep to myself last week like I promised, but the bottom line is that I'm a talker. Ohmigosh, I loves me some words. I'm not sure that I exactly failed my attempt to be a better listener, but let's just say that by Monday, my goal was to not talk negatively instead of not as much.

Whatever. I learned that I can be a real pain in the ass sometimes...and that was a lot of fun, let me tell you.

By the time it came around to figuring out what to do this week to push boundaries, I was sick of those thought-provoking, character-building, annoying lofty ideas that would make me a better person and I wanted something simple. That I could acutally do.

Like crochet.

Ha! Simple like a quadratic equation. (And at least they invented graphing calculators for those.)

I've started and re-started about 50 times. I've watched low-grade videos of old ladies on YouTube as they school me on treble this and double that. After five days of yarn burns and hook injuries, I can say that I make one mean chain stitch.

And that's about it...I've got this really long chain stitch to nowhere going on that I think, after a week like this, can be made into a noose...or at least a rope to hog tie the next asshat who won't move his damn backpack so I can sit down in the mornings.

Just sayin'. You've been warned, asshat.

Oh, and I called a bus driver a dick. True story. Then I wrote a letter to his boss, calling him such. Old school and new school--all in one convenient, pissed off package.

I gave up trying to think of things to do, so I made a long list and stuck them in a jar that once moonlighted as a peaches container. I let it decide what I do from now on. There's a couple in there I'm not so thrilled about trying ("surrender your debit card for a week" pshaw!!) and a couple I can't wait for ("schedule a pedicure ASAP"...ok, that's not really in there, but you know what I'm getting at.)

Oh, and if anyone out there has a recipe for bread that doesn't taste like memory foam, do share. Please, even.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

To Boy Wonder: On the Occasion of His First Boneheaded Stunt

The edition where P and I try to convince you that movies are fake and real life can sometimes hurt.

You are an amazing little man, but sometimes the things that come out of your mouth simply astound us. Not that you're doing anything wrong, it's just that they reiterate the fact that you are in fact a boy now. Not a baby. Not a preschooler. A boy.

And boys do stupid things. You are supposed to, it's your rite of passage. We expect it. Someday, P will share with you all the bone-headed things he did.

I just don't think we were expecting you to stick your tongue to the basketball hoop pole so soon. We knew something was up with your soft lisp and the gnarly looking bottom lip you were sporting in the truck yesterday, but I chalked it up to a severe need for some Chapstick. But when P ran into the grocery store, and you told me what you'd done and how embarrased you were, it all made sense. When I asked you "What on Earth would possess you to do that?" you shrugged and told me you'd seen it on "A Christmas Story" and wanted to know if it was true.

(Oh, curse you TBS and your 24-straight hours of Flick-induced peer pressure!)

Listen, little man...we've all stuck our tongue on the proverbial frozen pole. Don't sweat it. Just please, next time you think you might want to test whether something you've seen on TV is true or not...just don't. Save your mama the grey hairs and ignore that impulse.

Love you love you...


Friday, January 15, 2010

The Week Where You Just Might Get a Word in Edgewise? (Week 3)

I talk too much.

I really do.

No, I mean it. Silence makes me really self-conscious and I'm constantly trying to fill it with a bad joke or a question I don't really need an answer to. Anything...anything to fill the void of sound between me and the rest of the world.

I think I miss a lot of what's going on because I'm always doing: talking, jumping, expressing, kidding, joking, giggling, name it, I'm probably doing it.

The bus thing this week has given me some quiet rides home sans car radio, sans Ipod, sans pointless conversation and it's been nice, to say the least. I'm amazed at what I've been missing all this time with this obnoxious need to fill the air with....well, me.

So this week, I'm on a diet of sorts. (No, I'm already sick of the veggie diet bs I put myself through for nine days.)

I'm talking about cutting back the noise and the static. Let folks say what they have to say. Listen when Boy Wonder prattles on endlessly about Legos instead of reminding him that SpongeBob is on so he better get the heck outta the kitchen before we change it to CNN. Letting someone finish their question before I try to answer it. Allowing a person to air their grievance without offering the most obvious solution that they should have seen earlier...duh.

Seek out a little more silence, offer a better listener in myself, react a little less....and see what the world's been trying to tell me.


This'll last a whole, what, 15 minutes?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A random dispatch from my walk home

One of our trucks is busted, so I ride the bus to an from Anchorage these days. It's kind of fun and it's own strange, little adventurous little way... I might tell you more about the people I meet and the stories they tell on our bus rides someday.

But getting to the bus includes a mile walk to the bus stop. Today it was snowing pretty heavily and instead of turning left like I did yesterday, I went straight and onto the bike/cross country path that I avoid during the summer ("thars bears in them thar woods!")

It was a small moment, but the walk was beautiful and quiet and bright (despite the overcast/snowy day) and reinforced why next month I'll be celebrating five years in Alaska with no serious thoughts of moving out any time too soon. There was no worrying about bills, about a job I hate, about the job that hates me, about the truck that died, about the need to move soon. Nothing. Just me, snow, and silence for 15 minutes while I walked home (and took a self photo for the record!)

This was the path home. It went on for about a quarter to half mile before it came out in front of our house.

This is me. I look sorta puffy and terrible, but who cares? I was there. It was great.

This was what greeted me when I got home. Boy Wonder was outside playing and when he saw me, he made like a speedy red streak down the driveway and gave me one of the best hugs of the week.

Life is good. Life is good.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What You've Missed During Week 2

Fear not, dear readers...I did not drop the proverbial ball on week 2 of 52! (You were worried, weren't you? I knew it...oh ye of little faith!)

Funny we should mention faith. That's the reason we're here right now. I've spent the last seven days trying mine on for size and stretching it to a new sort of dimension one person at a time.

It started last Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I was flying to Texas to nab me some Boy Wonder and I don't really consider myself a fan of flying. I guess the gliding through the air at 30,000 feet isn't so bad, but the news coverage of crashing and exploding into mountainsides, the a##hole jihadists and their nundy bombs, the turbulence, the half-ounce of cranberry juice they give you before they disappear for the entire flight, the $7 can of pringles your kid polishes off before they do the safety see where I'm going?

On the ride in, my shuttle driver told me how (thanks to my mom giving him all the gory details of my brain surgery two years ago) he'd added me to his prayer list. He was so grateful to finally see a positive outcome all the time he prays for people he never sees, and he gave me a huge hug. He said it's great to pray for folks all the time, but you usually never get to see them answered because folks drift in and out of your life...

I also have this superstition, and it's between there and here that the idea for week 2 came about. I always have to repeat the Lord's Prayer during the loud, rickety part of the takeoff. I hate that part. Hate, hate, hate it. I look like a deranged cat with my claws dug into the arm rests and my toes curled under in fear. A few years back I realized that the effort to concentrate on remembering the words to the Lord's Prayer distracted me enough to get me through the lift off...almost all the way to the part where the Captains says we can move about the cabin and piss off some beverage cart drivers.

On one leg of the journey, a flight attendant asked a fat man in the row beside me if he would move so a mother could sit by her two small children. We were in a small plane to say the least. I felt like I was on the inside of a garden hose the way we were packed in, so the stress level was high enough. But when the man refused, and then refused to even scoot over to the window seat so the mother could have the aisle next to her kids, my fear of flying coupled with my dislike of rude bastards made me want to climb across the girl next to me and punch the man in the throat.

But a weird voice told me maybe I oughta pray for him. (Please note that this does not happen to me. I could care less, most of the time, what is ailing strangers when they act like selfish pricks. But this was different.)

So, for each day of week 2, I made myself find the least likely candidate for a prayer and send one up in their honor.

Please don't think I've gone all Pollyanna on you, folks. Some of the prayers were really just watered down versions of "Dear God, Please shut that woman up before I lodge her cellphone down her throat. Amen" or "Heavenly Father, that guy is a dick. You should do something about that. In Your name..." (Really, really. Ha!)

I got better at it as the week went by, and found myself sending little tiny "shout outs" for folks based on ailments they probably didn't even had. ("Hey, Jesus. Me again. That woman is limping. Maybe she was attacked by the wolves of Eagle River when she went outside to warm up her car this morning. Please make the wolves find a new place to hang out. But not too far out in the boonies, 'cause those aerial hunters are still out and about. Think maybe you could do something about those punks? Amen." I'm kidddddding, jeez!)

I'm no Mother Teresa, and I'm sure I probably won't be. Like, ever. There's still a few folks out there that should have qualified for this challenge, but who I stubbornly refuse to pray for. Especially the Cracken who makes my 9-5 life sheer hell right now. No prayers for you! You can choke on your fork.

(See? Miles to go, Megan...miles to go.)

But it did open my eyes a little to what other folks are likely carrying around with them. My favorite "victim" this week was the little old lady who sits on her stool at the Wal-Mart entrance late at night. She's sweet as can be, and each time I see her now, I pray that she works there because she wants to...and not because she has to.

I'll update Week 3 tomorrow.

And if you're lucky, I might just say a prayer for you sometime soon. (I'm kidding. If you're reading this and we've met, you can bet your sweet a#@ I've probably already prayed for you. )

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Word for 2010 is...


If you're confused, you should read Ali Edward's blog. I'm pretty sure she's the one who started it and I'm certain that's where I got it from. Others are picking up on the project and selecting theirs, but it took me a while to really marinate on the whole "choose a theme for 2010" notion. To be sure there are plenty of words I'd like to accomplish: discipline, organization, create, yada yada yada...

But I think the point of this word project is to encapsulate a mission statement for your upcoming year and to do it in one, single, power-packed word. And I think I've found that reflects who I am and who I'm always striving to be.

If you spend anytime around me, you know for the most part, I'm pretty expressive and I like to make things happen. I like to see people laugh, I like to laugh myself. I like to get things going, start things happening. I'm not having a good day if I don't have some plan hatching in my brain. But to what end? What is my purpose in this life, and more specifically, what's my purpose in this coming year?

Brighten. Isn't it just a great word? And so doable, it seems. I need a mission in life and if it's to make it a shinier happier place for my family and yours, well hot damn...light the fires and kick the tires, big daddy.

It's so appropriate when you live in Alaska in the winter and when you and all of your closest friends have babies under a year old (there are five of us and one is due this spring) gets pretty damn grim when you haven't slept right in 11 months and you hate going to your job every morning, and you wish you owned a pair of pants that freakin' fit correctly or didn't have an unidentifiable stain on it...or both. Or if you're quitting smoking and you want to punch strangers on the street to steal their half-smoked cigarettes. Or when you've got a brain disease and you're crabby about what you can't do so easily anymore...I'm here to remind you that you're artistic and creative and to keep on creating because it makes you happy and you need more happiness. (Yes, that was specific to my mama, but whatever! You got my point.)

Brighten. I'm here to say life is beautiful, so quit yer bellyachin' for two seconds and hop to it.

Homework is tough and college is a drag, but you're a brilliant man and you've got everyone you know behind you saying "you've got this" and the truth is, you do. It's in the bag already, you straight A-having sonuva-gun. (Aww...hi, babe!)

And no worries. I'll turn some of my obnoxious rays on myself from time to time this year. I've got big dreams and lots of energy. I'll get there. Just watch.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Clutter as Teacher?

This week hasn't been so easy for me. Cleaning is NOT fun. I mean, on any given day cleaning clutter and a root canal can battle for top spot on my "make me want to vomit" list. True story.

I'm learning a valuable lesson here. It's all about the "religion of stuff." How I worship stuff. How stuff symbolizes goals and accomplishments. How stuff acts as medicine, therapist, and confidante. At this exact moment in our house, there is not a real corner without a stack of writing books, or a pile of scrapbook layouts, or 15 pieces from a leggo set, or a sock, or a half-eaten cereal puffy thing. In this house, stuff represents all the things we're striving for, and everything we're just shy of.

I want to publish a book. It's no secret. I have amassed what seems like every single title that involves writing or fiction known to Bookdom. They're everywhere. I buy them when I'm lazy and I'm thinking about writing. I buy them when I'm in the middle of writing and I need an excuse to get up and leave. I bu them when I'm depressed about how I am 31 and I'm still struggling. (Books are just an example can substitute it with pretty much anything I have lying around...scrapbook materials, yarn and knitting needles, fabric and the sewing machine, cookbooks, recipe cards, excercise name it, I own it.)

I'm figuring out that to me, owning objects equates to realizing dreams. And it's just not that easy, is it? Sure, I'm terrible at knitting, but don't I get any points for owning 86 balls of yarn?

What's harder is the realization that owning mountains of neat things that I'll never accomplish is getting me nowhere closer to accomplishing. If anything, I come home and I'm stressed. Too much crap. Too much geegaws. I look at that craft shelf and I don't feel motivated, I feel annoyed. ("Who the hell bought all that s&^t, anyway?" My natural reaction is to blame P. Surely he thought it'd be a good idea to grab 15 pads of scrapbooking mat papers, right?)

The other half of that vicious cycle is money. It's no secret that the Applegates ain't exactly the Rockefellers yet. But financial dieting pisses me off. And spending little amounts of money on little piles of doohickeys is a cheap little addicting thrill. I might possible throw up on myself if someone were to tally the amount of money I've spent on my endless good intentions. ("This bi%$h is crazy!!" my piles of thingies is screaming.)

The internal war that unfolds whenever I come near the stacks with a trash bag is heart rendering. (I know, I'm dramatic.) I see my "How I Write" book by Janet Evanovich and I think, "How could I possibly throw that away? I may need that as a reference someday?" Truth be told, I've gleaned all that I can from most of my books and now I hold on to them for no real reason. Same with the yarn. Each unused ball tells the story of what I wanted it to be (a hat for Andrew!) and what it never is going to be (a hat for Andrew!), because, let's face it, an abomination occurred the last time I picked up yarn and round needles.

I've written off this week's challenge by saying I don't have time. I cleaned out the fridge so far, and that's it. (Lame!) Yes, I'm in danger of failing this one miserably, but I AM learning the valuable lesson behind it...more stuff = more fun, right? Ha!

Hi. My name is Megan. And I think I'm addicted to my clutter. :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Week 1: "C" is for Clutter

Week 0 Recap: I called the bank and some super chipper gal named "Tiffy" (really?) was "so glad" to help me. And by "help me" I mean she told me "totally no worries, this happens all the time." In between the "likes" and "OMG"s, I translated the fact that the bank would re-submit the check payment for my truck automatically. Hooray me. And it did, in fact, go through this week. Check.

The student loan rep was a pain in the ass, let's just be honest. I owe $500 now. I told her, "good luck finding that $500 anywhere in my account." I told her I wanted to work something out so I could get back on track. She "ummmmed" and said not a lot. Finally, she directed me to the company's Web site where I could "fill out a form."

So she was less than stellar in the helpful service. I found the form to reduce payments, but I also wrote an e-mail to the company telling them my troubles with ol' what's-her-face. They told me to call back Jan. 4 and speak to an Account Executive and not a Customer Service Representative. Sorta check?

Oh, whatever.

So it's January 1st. It's quiet here. I'm looking around, grateful for all that I have and then I notice just how much I really have. I have a ton of crap. Everywhere. And we live in the world's smallest shoebox of an apartment. It's ridiculous. If anyone sneezes in here, it's sure to start a crap avalanche and we've got to be careful not to lose Boo under a pile of shoes or winter coats.

My calling is obvious this week: Get some serious clutter out of our house. So, for Week 1, I've got to get rid of one laundry basket's worth of stuff every single day. A whole basket. I can donate it, toss it, burn it, run it over, feed it to a moose, or use it for target practice...but each day, an entire basket has to go.

The hardest areas that need the most of my attention are my bookshelf and the shelves I keep craft supplies. It's stupid how much stuff I'm trying to fit on those.

Today, however, I took a crack at the fridge. Have you ever pulled every single item out of your fridge? You should. It's gross. As for mine, I have two words for you: moldy cheese. And lots of it. (Eww!) In the end, we cleared three grocery bags and one trash bag full of "stuff" that had seemed like such a good idea at the store. It opened my eyes to the point P had made earlier today. We waste a lot of food due to our crowded, nasty fridge. I'm sure we threw out nearly $100 of soggy bell peppers, green lunchmeat, and penicillin-coated Provolone. (Damn. My bad.)

So here's to a less crowded house for 2010. And in the meantime, here's a great link to a blogger who specializes in goals and organization: Creative Organizing. Do it.