Kids These Days

I’ve been despairing my son’s sense of responsibility. I’ve yet to get final word from the school but I’m pretty sure he’s flunked his English class this year.


Last summer he finally got his first job at Panera. I say finally because he was almost 17 and digging in his heels to do it his way, which he’s done as long as I’ve known him. Anyway, he enjoyed the work at Panera, for the most part. Nights spent as a dish dog were his least favorite. As the months went on and school started back up, he kept working, but often complained about working Friday and Saturday nights.

“I never get to see my friends!” He told me.

Well, duh, welcome to the work force, I thought, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed.

A month or so later, I noticed he was attending Friday night football games pretty regularly. I questioned him about it.

He told me, “I asked for it off.”

Having spent time managing a restaurant, I may have looked just a bit skeptical.

“What?” He shrugged on his leather jacket, shuffling my writing assignments around on the table as he looked for the car keys. I’d dropped them in the catch-all box on the bookshelf when I cleaned earlier. I’ve only told him about it every day since I bought it.

“Have you seen my-?”

Looking over the rim of my glasses, I silently point at the box.

“Anyway, my manager said he’d cover it.” Fishing his keys out of the box, he was out the door before I could begin to articulate to him my personal teenage work experiences, all of which were grounded in denying myself pleasure.

At fifteen I started working at a local hotel cleaning rooms on the weekends. My mom told me I couldn’t work on Sunday, and I didn’t, for a little while. But as the school year turned to summer and tourist season hit, I turned sixteen and worked every of my available 20 hours. Then I went home and worked every other moment of daylight. I had five younger siblings to watch, meals to cook, laundry to hang on the line, floors to vacuum, beds to make, dishes to do, linoleum to mop, windows to wash, dusting, practice the piano, pick peas, beans, strawberries, raspberries, water the greenhouses, mow the lawn and rows of trees covering 8 acres of land. In short, I had a lot of work to do. As I sweat my way through summer after summer, I swore to myself that one day my life would be different.

Now as a new summer blooms under my bare toes, I’m happy with my prospects. Some time spent with extended family, a road trip, sunshine and lazy days. I’ve scheduled reading, daydreaming, and the perfect time of day to write. I’ve  also scattered in a few trips to the reservoir and a stack of books to read the girls. But before I lose my shoes and join the frivolities of kids these days, I had one more parental thing to do. shutterstock_309845069

I spoke with the school counselor, signed the boy up for a summer English class. He’s found a new job he loves at a local restaurant that has less demanding hours. He has a sweet little project car to sweat over. I’m told it just threw a rod. Joy of joys. porsche_924_front_20071231



I’m reading the book Let Me Out by Peter Himmelman. I’m cheating. I just finished Chapter 8, and I haven’t completed any of the activities the author has requested. Partially because I’ve done similar activities when reading a different book, mostly because I just want to read until I get that Ah-hah! moment. When I read that sentence and remember why I love writing. The exercise at the end of Chapter 7 piqued my curiosity, The Two Minute Drill. It asks you to take exactly two minutes and write down all of the things you’d like to do in your life right now.

Here goes, no erasing, stream of two-minute consciousness.


(Wait, getting some tunes on, can’t dance naked without the tunes.) Hm, I wonder how much mileage a therapist would get out of my choice of song?

go to Scotland

Live my “Pleasure”

see my kids being happy adults

lift my siblings from where we’ve been left

body confidence

recognize my life from the vision in my head

vision board

ability to care for myself

write what I want

 meet those people who touch me so incredibly on the net

that house on a few acres with trees, gardens, a john deere and the prairie


Two minutes are fast!

Okay, this post isn’t about that list. LMAO Though, some scarily interesting things showed up there. Whew.

As for the song…I made a new wish list a couple of weeks ago, and purchased one of the songs right then. The Voice ’16’s runner-up Billy Gilman (I know, I recognized him before Miley did, oi) I Surrender. This is the first time The Voice has sent me to Itunes to purchase a song. The only other show to do it, American Idol and Adam Lambert’s version of Mad World. FYI, I don’t watch either show regularly, and just happen to come upon these pieces in other ways. So, no, I don’t know who was gypped, I don’t know who was better, and yes, I’m a little surprised that a guy named Sundance Head who reminds me of ZZ Top was the big winner.

Okay, moving on to the reason I’m sitting at my computer, before the music completely takes me away. The next chapter. This is how much I’ve read.

Chapter 9


HOW IMAGINING THE SPECIFICS OF A PERFECT FUTURE ENSURES PROPER ACTION IN THE PRESENT. There’s an expression I used to hear a lot as a kid, “Think good and it will be good.”

~Peter Himmelman

Reading that, I was immediately transported to a little parking lot in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. It’s oppressively hot and humid, thunderstorms today, for certain. I get of out the car and feed the meter eight quarters. It only takes quarters. I’ve added the stop at a laundromat now, just to be sure I have enough. I click the button on my key fob one more time before I walk into the alley, hearing the comforting honk of my horn saying ‘jeez woman! You’ve locked me three times now!’. The Boston Market on the corner is making my mouth water as I step out of the shadows and onto the busy sidewalk. A few steps, a nondescript door with the number 6A, a flight of creaking uneven stairs. Pushing open the door, I sit down as close to the dripping air conditioner as I can. At 2:00pm the door opens, and she walks out. Dark glasses today,  a scarf around her head, business suit and heels. She’s been crying. I busy myself tucking my phone in my purse.

“Carly, it’s good to see you.”

His quiet voice, I briefly meet his eyes before slipping past him into the room beyond. I have a question today, one that’s been bothering me. It will take all of my fifty minutes to figure out where to slip it in. He’s a sweet, patient man. It should be simple.


Finally, with only about five minutes left, I manage to ask my question. “Is it weird that I go away to places in my head sometimes?”

He doesn’t look up from his scribbling on the yellow legal pad. “Does it worry you?”

He does look up when I don’t answer.

I didn’t know how to answer that, then. He assured me I was a functioning adult. I had successful relationships, a well cared for child, I did things that needed to be done, did things I wanted to do. If I needed to go somewhere in my head for a time as a break, it was nothing to worry about. Time was up.

All these years later, I know the answer to the question, for myself. After having spent months, not needing to go anywhere in my head because where I was…was so wonderful I couldn’t imagine ever leaving. I know the answer to that question.

I just wanted to write that down before I read the chapter. Before his opinion on living an alternate reality in your head changes or tweaks my own, I wanted to write down my truth.

Now, let’s see what he can add to my vision.







The Writing Process

And other ways to beat the hell out of yourself.

Thanks Kristin, I really did need this!


Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.Since the boom of the digital age, would-be writers have been practically coming out of the woodwork. Everyone wants to be a writer and hey, I can’t blame them. Sweet gig if you can score it. Yet, many of these eager folks are ill-prepared for the reality of…

via The Writing Process…It Ain’t No Unicorn Hug — Kristen Lamb

Busy, not Happy

Today was a wonderful day.


Don’t bother checking your calendar, it’s still Monday.

Today for the first time in a long time, I’m home being mom to a kid. I’m not trying to focus anyone’s attention on Math.


I’m not trying to keep an eye on a couple hundred students on  a playground. I’m not planning tomorrow’s game, running errands for teachers, or struggling over how to word that end of year email I don’t want to send about the lunchroom.

I did dishes this morning. I cleaned a bathroom. I fixed lunch for two. I did some quiet reading. I daydreamed. I wrote some naughty stuff.

Today, I’m not busy.

I’m happy.

I think a lot of people are confused about that bit, obsessed with busy, not happy.


The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word busy is my parents. I’ve never known busier people. They moved at a dead run from 5 am until they hit the showers at 945pm, lights out at 1030 pm right after the local news.

I hate being busy, certainly because my childhood was filled to the brim with it. Mom and dad made it very clear that everyone worked. If you sat down in the middle of the day during summer break, you better be sick or picking raspberries off the bottom branches. They were so proud of how busy they were. Still, it persists. My dad, who will be 77 this fall, made a four hour drive to come support my sister when her daughter died. The next day he drove back home, four hours, because he had a gardening class to teach. He has to keep busy. There’s always something else to be doing. And his maddening obsession seems to have infected the rest of the world.


People are so proud of the breakneck speed with which they attack a weekend. It seems that for many, the five o’clock whistle on Friday is now the starting gun for weekend marathons of sports, music, play dates, competitions, church, and yard work. Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday mornings speed by in a blur of busyness. At some point on Sunday afternoon they realize their weekend is over, and it’s time to report how wonderful it was on Facebook, then there’s the stacks of homework, the last of the laundry, milk for breakfast tomorrow…how are we already out of milk?

I bet every single Monday you hear about how busy the weekend was. When was the last time you heard, “I didn’t do a damn thing. It was fucking awesome.” Hearing it from me doesn’t count.

I face every Saturday morning with the same challenge in mind, can I make it through the next two days without feeling obligated to put on my bra. If the answer is yes, all the way till Monday morning, I’ve won.

A couple of months ago there were some changes made at work, and at the following Instructional Aide meeting the principal addressed what must have been heavy on his mind. He showed us a Ted talk. After we watched the video, he spoke briefly about changes coming in education. He said things like more work with less oversight, larger classes with less help, and more flexibility required in jobs. Then he said something I haven’t stopped thinking about. “If you are not passionate about your work here, come to me, ask me, I’ll help you get into that place, that position that you are passionate about. As our end of year interviews loom closer, be thinking about your job here and how you feel about it, because I’m going to ask you, and then I’m going to tell you what I think your answer should be.”

I sat there in the semi-darkness, in the silence, looking around the conference table, and thought to myself, “Is there really someone here for more than a paycheck?”

I understand that people think they have callings in life, and in work. I get that. But, still….hm. It got me thinking. What am I going to tell him at the end of the year? I love parts of my job. I love some of the people at my job. Am I passionate about this job? Do I get up every morning, chomping at the bit, to go do my job?


This job was me satisfying myself that my girls were in a safe environment, a good school. This job was a salve for my homeschooling hackles. This job reminded me how fun it was to have a regular paycheck. And for weeks and weeks I’ve been weighing that regular paycheck against, well, against days like today. My passion comes with a promise, an idea, an expectation, but not a regular paycheck, not yet.

Yesterday, I was reading, (another perk of passion) and came across this bit. “You are amazingly good at something you don’t even like. Imagine how good you’d be at something you love.”


And then there was today, and that yearning, that undeniable desire to finally be passionate, satisfied, engaged, writing, and happy, not busy.