always short and almost true stories :: meeting in the middle of the road

I’ve been writing 35-word stories for a while now… they force me to edit to the essentials, not too much, just enough. They start in real life, and sometimes end there, or sometimes they resolve in my imagination.  This is my latest set. More stories here.

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We met at the train crossing. His shopping cart was overflowing, and he nodded hello. I smiled back. The train flew past us, and we crossed the tracks. Back to work, in opposite directions.

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For weeks I practiced for my first karaoke night. But when the trio of bikers, in studded leather vests and American flag headwear, began their Little Mermaid medley, I forgot everything I thought I knew.

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There are many miracles required to raise a child (or two) to healthy young adulthood. The one that boggles my mind is that we were capable of making school lunches, every day, for 19 years.

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The moment she stopped pretzeling herself to fit their schemes, she stood up, breathed deep, and straightened her shoulders. As she walked out the door, she grabbed the hot and spicy mustard as a souvenir.

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The ball flew, hanging in midair, waiting until the last moment to drop. The crowd tensed, collectively willing the ball into her glove. The team lost, she won, everyone cheered. Game over, life begins.

 

adulting from a compromised position

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I’ve had my eye on a new t shirt that says “Wow, Look at me adulting all over the place.”

Heh.

I am 58, and I am still impressed with myself when I am competently adulting. I’ve been described as the least mature person in our family. Which is kind of funny, except for the moments when it’s true.

Kate was born an adult and at 28, she’s pretty much on her way. She has a lifetime partner, she’s on her third city, and has navigated career challenges, disappointments and reroutes. She’s in grad school, and a year from now she will be married, an architect and a year younger than I was when I became her mom.

Alex is 22 and graduating from college in a few weeks. This last weekend she came home for a breather visit (you know, taking a few moments to breath, before your last sprint to the end). We sat at the dining room table and charted her next steps for Plan A and Plan B-ish, hopefully getting her to plan A with only a few extra turns.

As Steve and I coach both of our daughters, one thing that keeps coming up for me is the slippery slope of compromise.

As in, don’t go there just yet.

Which is confusing, since they know I value the art of compromise, and believe that compromise with grace, integrity and humor is the foundation of my marriage, my business, and any successes we have as a family. Learning how to give so everyone can experience what is important to them, without giving up what is most important to you, is tricky. Not giving up too much, too soon—balanced with genuinely wanting the best for others.

Compromise is how we get stuff done. Together. Which is important, right? And it’s a sign of adulting, which is a certainly a good thing.

So even I am conflicted when I hear myself saying, “Once you start to compromise, there’s no going back…stay on your own path right now, and there will be more than enough opportunities to compromise in the future.”

I’m talking about risks not taken, projects not pursued, dream adventures that are never realized. I know there’s plenty of adventure available for those of us in our fifties and sixties. But still…the twenties…this is when you have the least baggage, the most flexibility, and dreams are still in vibrant, flourescent, glow-in-the-dark color.

Compromise enables bills to be paid, commitments kept, scheduled maintained. Stability is achieved, stress is avoided, chaos averted and relationships can be nurtured. Steve and I recognized that between the two of us we can focus on three big things at a time. That means if we are particularly focused on work, and family issues, then we have room for one more challenge. Not two more, which would make it even, but one more, which means one of us is supporting while the other is doing (or we’re both doing, which would be the perfect case, but not usually the situation). It’s a system that works for us, but it’s taken 34 years to figure it out. Compromise means that not only are you responsible for your own baggage, sometimes you’re carrying the baggage of others, too.

I’ve encouraged Alex to keep on pushing for Plan A. It’s a big ask of the universe, but at 22 she is at the most agile point of her life. Plan B is good, but Plan C and D…well, that’s when you start to give in to the safe side. Pretty soon the not-exactly-right-job in the this-isn’t-what-I-imagined-town leads to choices that require compromise…those are usually the shiny choices that come with hefty price tags, that help one forget that there ever was a Plan A. New cars to get you to work, a closet full of capable clothes to help you survive work and expensive cocktails to help you forget about work. They’re all a sign of compromise. (I can also make a case that these are signs of success rather than compromise, but that’s another post all together.)

Compromise is why we landed in Sacramento, instead of San Francisco. Sacramento has been good for us, but I do have moments of wishing that thirty years ago I had a bigger vision for our future, that I had the confidence to make a leap, rather than a sensible step. I suspect I limited Steve’s career path, and perhaps my own, by not leaping all the way to the East Coast when our friends were also leaping. We compromised for stability. That’s not a judgement, just a fact.

If I made a list of what adulting means to me, I suspect “learning how to compromise gracefully” would be at the top. A 401k, limiting one’s weekday alcohol intake, flossing regularly (plus mammograms, colonoscopies, and daily sunscreen) would follow.

But just because I believe it, doesn’t mean I want my daughters to do it. At least not yet. Maybe tomorrow, but not quite yet. Flossing, however, is non negotiable.

 

gathering good :: 29 april 2016

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It’s been a heavy week, so here are some lighthearted links.

Coloring books…personalized. So much better than swirly flowers. This cracks me up.

Visual humor. Brock Davis sees more stuff than the rest of us.

Three survival skills that aren’t super obvious.

Perhaps brushing your teeth is the answer to happiness.

Last weekend we were in Chico and stopped in at the Sierra Nevada Brewery. When we lived in Chico, Sierra Nevada was two guys in their garage (where we picked up the kegs for our wedding). Now it’s a big, delicious deal. Also Torpedo Beer Cheese. Just saying  those three words makes me smile and the taste made me so happy it may have been illegal.

How different people spend $100 at the grocery store. I’d love to see “how different people spend $100 differently” too. I know even in our house, we have different approaches (why Hello Amazon Prime, are you sneaking up on me?).

Small summer house lust. I will take one of each, thank you very much.

Please don’t tell anyone, but before he died, I wasn’t all that familiar with Prince’s music. I’ve heard (and recognized) more of it in the past week than I have in the past decade. I knew he was a genius and his music mattered, it just wasn’t on my playlist. However, I did catch him on New Girl, and loved this story about working with him on set.

Did you get your woman card? Yup, I bought mine (and I do appreciate a clever response).

Why I don’t get stuff done, an imaginary conversation with the internet. Heh!

And speaking of stuff, isn’t it about time for a weekend? See you on the flip side.

 

around here

This weekend I was invited to stay here...in a beautiful home in Butte Creek Canyon. I can't stop thinking about the writing desk I want, in the grass here. That would be when I forget that it's not actually my house...but still, a girl can dream.

This weekend I was invited to stay here…in a beautiful home in Butte Creek Canyon. I can’t stop thinking about the outdoor writing desk I want, facing this sky. Is it a problem that it’s not actually my house? Still, a girl can dream, can’t she?

 

You know, I am not intending to not blog. I am just not blogging. Or actually writing (because they are two different things, with a flexible, wiggly Venn diagramish overlap when we’re lucky).  I’m not training for a marathon or anything like that (well, maybe something like that, except that it’s just the marathon of life). But I am paying attention to what’s going on around here…

Around here, we’re having a wedding…in 60 days. A wedding that doesn’t have one single piece that resembles any other wedding on the planet, past or present. I waiver from moments believing that the universe and/or Kate and Brendan’s marriage, and every guest’s happiness  depends on my ability to make lists, hammocks hanging devices, garlands out of paint chips and moss/rock/mason jar night lights to the clarifying moments when I realize my stuff is just stuff, and K+B are the real deal.

Around here, my youngest daughter, Alex, is graduating from college…that would be two weeks before the wedding. She may be moving to another state, that would be the week after the wedding. She might be doing something cool, but I don’t want to jinx it. I am proud and delighted for  her. She’s a girl who knows the value of finishing strong, and I believe she can and will. And those crazy logistics that might be required for her next step…I am doing my best (though tripping over myself sometimes) to stay out of her way so she can solve it herself.

Around here, we finally have our Little Free Library. It deserves a post all its own, but it’s all kinds of fabulous. Every day we see folks using it, and they leave notes and books and a thank you. I check it every morning and every evening, and it makes me ridiculously happy.

Around here, Steve is tending to his vegetable garden and riding his bike like crazy (just finished his eleventh Wildflower Century this weekend, and from my count that’s probably his 25th century ride, not counting his three double centuries). He’s kind of impressive. I do have to remind him though, that if it weren’t for me, there would be no toilet paper in the house. We all have our gifts.

Around here,  I am watching baseball, I am going to the gym, I am remembering that outside is better than inside. I am not quite as traumatized about the election as I was a few months ago, and I hope that doesn’t mean I am giving in or giving up. I am trying to be a better friend. I am wondering what is next for me.

 

 

 

gathering good :: 18 march 2016

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I gotta tell you,  it’s tough to keep one’s sense of humor during this election season. Then again, a sense of humor is absolutely critical so we don’t all go nuts. Here are a few links to help us forget what’s happening out there (if at least for a few minutes).

Have you seen the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Coloring Book? The unicorn is my fave, for sure.

My studio mate Dane reminded me of  The Onion, and I’ve been checking it out every day, especially when the news is too much (like I said, every day). Though these days the satire doesn’t seem so far fetched, does it?

Am I the last person to hear about The Great British Baking Show? Season One is on Netflix and it’s the sweetest antidote to the news. I couldn’t get enough of it (and yes, I binged and watched it all in one week). It’s so pretty!! And nice!! And, well, lovely.

Speaking of  sweet. Using the magic of flower power to soften the pit bull’s image.

I actually thought I was quoted out, but here are ten to guide your life, or at least kickstart your day.

This piece will remind you that people are really, really good.

If you love New York, and you love pizza (well, that would be most everyone), then you will love this, I promise.

I never tire of these posts and slide shows…throwing out the granny stereotype.

And finally, I am still sending out packs of Be Kind stickers…to date I have shipped over 350 sets to folks in 7 countries. If you’d like some (they’re free), check out my other site, This is Plan Be and fill out the request form.

See you on the flip side.

gathering good :: 11 march 2016

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It’s been forever since I’ve done a roundup of internet goodness here. I think it’s about time to pick it back up again, don’t you?

For your perusing and pondering pleasure:

Did you see the kerfuffle on peeled oranges at Whole Foods? Here’s the other side of the story.  “Any time you see a ‘so lazy!’ product you want to dig at, 99.9% of the time it’s an accessible item for someone,” author Ana Mardoll explained in a series of tweets.

Stunning. Astronaut Scott Kelley reflects on his year off the planet.

Pretending you’re creative will make you more creative (or so the study says). I’m in.

Old books, repurposed as tea cups and saucers (just for you Monica).

Our impossible expectations of Hillary and all women in authority. Sigh.

Trees have social networks, too. Wild, no pun intended.

Instead of grafitti…spray painted tile. I love everything about this.

Tweets for the marrieds. And yes, I may have complained (with my inside voice) about someone peeing too loud. Maybe once.

Inside the cake (you have to click on it to understand it). Sweet (and this time the pun was intended)

Do you follow Amy Sedaris on Instagram?  I always love it when she shows up in my feed. I don’t always understand it, but I do love it.

Last weekend we made these carnitas to accompany our House of Cards binge. Perhaps not exactly on theme (blood sausage would have been an example of on-theme dining), but delicious!

See you on the flip side.