Robins

My husband swears he spotted the first robin of spring, but it was probably just an ice mirage or snowblower fatigue.

An elderly couple squinting out their kitchen window might have seen me as a sign to put away the rock salt as I huffed and puffed up an old regular hill on Sunday, red-faced and at it again. It was the first time I’d run in over a month and only the fourth time since December 1st. (observation: running apps are really good for self-flagellation)

I know some people stuck to their routines and even went so far as to compare running in freshly fallen snow to a jog along the beach, but screw those people. Once I saw this, I figured taking an unplanned hiatus was one of the healthiest things I did all winter.

Winter is on its way out. I didn’t want to say it before, but it’s true and not just because my husband hallucinated a robin. It’s getting lighter earlier and dirty snow mountains are slowly but surely returning to parking spots at local malls.

This winter reminds me of one I wasn’t sure I’d survive 9 years ago. It had snowed early and often and I was stuck at home with a toddler while my husband traveled a lot. I decided to look for a job for a variety of reasons and remember driving past a guy navigating his red mountain bike around glaringly bright mounds of snow on my way to an interview for a job I really wanted.

I don’t have a picture, but just imagine him…

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on this…
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It was crazy magic seeing my first burly, bicycle-riding robin of spring that year, and even though I never got that job, a couple months later I got an even better one. Spring came on schedule and then summer, and so on.

As we all strike back out and resume old routines that serve us well, maybe you will become somebody’s robin.

For a brief moment of time many years ago in what feels like an alternate universe, I had my dream job. I was paid to go to people’s homes and businesses in a quaint, touristy town and ask semi-nosey questions and then write about it. It wasn’t steady work and it paid like a side job, but I loved meeting new people and hearing how each one opened up in an hour’s time.

The retiring Persian rug shop owner was my first and gentlest. I never did crack the all-business veneer of the upscale coffee barista. My favorite interview was probably the bubbly flight attendant who ran a feral cat rescue from her home and drank from both her coffee cup and mine during what felt more like a meeting with an old, hyperactive friend.

At one point, the flight attendant/cat rescue lady shared an idea she had for a book about a beloved stray who stopped by for breakfast every morning and then headed off to a boatyard in an adjacent lot like it was his job to chase birds and probably nap a lot. We agreed it might make a cute story to set some photographs and text in what would have been a zine or blog post before either of those things were invented.

The problem was she wasn’t a writer and didn’t own a camera, so this woman I’d just met basically handed me the perfect opportunity to try something creative and outside my comfort zone. And I nodded enthusiastically and agreed it was a terrific idea and I went home and wrote a glowing piece about her and her rescue cats, leaving out the part about her drinking from my coffee mug, and I never spoke to her again.

Yesterday I was reminded of this regret after falling in love with Horace and Agnes on account of the absurdist anthropomorphism, and of course those sharp photographs. 

I thought it might be fun to have my daughters pose favorite stuffed animals in a Toy Story meets Marwencol photo shoot and make up a little story about the characters. I swear this idea seemed less psychotic earlier, but now we’re in the middle of another snowstorm and psychosis is starting to feel like an old friend bearing milk and eggs and trashy magazines.

We posed the stuffed cat and panda by a cardboard house I swear neither of the cats normally pay any mind to.

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A story unfolded before our eyes, but it wasn’t the one I was expecting.

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What started out as a seemingly innocent visit to what was believed to be an abandoned beach cottage turned into a courageous battle by one cat to defend his home against malevolent intruders.

A cat’s gotta tell his story. There’s no way around it.

Meditation. Ice storms. Carbonite. Pineapple. Oddly, mostly pineapple.

Meditation: is not going well. It is not going well because I am not doing it. I have so many things I love to do in the peace and quiet of morning, such as writing, exercising, coffee drinking and, once a week, pineapple slicing. Seriously, don’t bother with the pre-sliced or core-ripper-outer thingies. Just slice the ends off, cut it down to workable sections and remove the core, and then carve the meat out of the shell. It’s better than meditation plus you get to eat it afterwards.

Procrastination/avoidance: Alive and well.

Ice fucking shit up: Alive and well. A tree in the front yard obviously didn’t get the memo about this being the worst winter ever and optimistically burst with berry-looking buds, which are now encased in ice like nature’s Han Solo. I realize that was Carbonite, but I’m not sure if Carbonite is real so figured you wouldn’t mind the sloppy simile. Also, branches are snapping off right and left and the cats are hiding under the bed, but we haven’t lost power yet while my work has none. Ice isn’t fucking everything up.

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Meditation for those who will do anything to avoid meditation: My daughter and I took a Zentangle class this weekend and it’s a perfect replacement for the meditation I haven’t started doing. I’d first read about it on Sherry’s blog (can’t find the post, but will link back once I do) and it’s one of those things where you can buy fancy paper and pens and follow specific patterns, or you can do it with whatever scrap paper and pens you have lying around and make it up as you go along. Our instructor called it Tangling, but it feels more like Untangling, you ask me.

Yesterday I sat down after a long day and picked out a roller coaster theme to match my mood, and the next thing I knew I was doodling tentacles and scallops and river stones. Nothing calms me better than the sea. I’m still finding my sea legs, but here is the one I did and then below that is what it looks like if you know what you’re doing and have 5 hours to spare (don’t worry, video is sped up).

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I’m not giving up on meditation, even though it’s slow going. Next week I promise a brief progress report or else a 5 hour video of me slicing pineapples, which sounds like a threat to you, but really it’s aimed at me. I have no intention of eating 60 pineapples.

Not Running on Empty, Running On Sober: A Blogger Profile

My longest running friend is a girl I met in the bathroom in third grade. I’d splashed water on my shirt at the sink and said “Oh my god, my mom’s going to kill me” and my new friend nodded sympathetically and agreed that wet shirt = death at her house too. Nothing seals a friendship faster than shared fears, which is maybe why we bond so easily at times here in the sober trenches. It’s lighthearted fun, mostly, but the reason why we’re here in the first place is no laughing matter.

Christy and I bonded in spring of 2012 in the comments section of her blog, Running on Sober. I’m sure I lurked for awhile, but it was a post on moderating moderation where we officially “met”.

She wrote:

There are probably twenty times a day that I want to delete my blogging account (that’s dumb!, no one will read it, your words don’t make sense, you will be judged, what if your friends or family find out, what if you’re actually Successful?!, what if people depend on you…you name it, the extremist voices in my head have probably chattered about it). But at least I recognize those voices now, and I know They Lie.

Thankfully, Christy continued blogging. I am grateful for her everyday and proud to see her beautiful, grace-filled writing reach a wide audience.

I want  to share this beautiful tribute WordPress recently ran on Christy, a dear soul many of us are proud and lucky to call a friend.

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Not Running on Empty, Running On Sober: A Blogger Profile.

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