Right now, I’m Reading:

I am an eclectic reader.  I read all kinds of different genres, pretty much all at the same time.  I started Annihilation last night, after reading over and over that it was similar to, or even better than, my favorite podcast (TanisPNWS, whoot!)  The first 10 or so pages have me wanting to book-glutton it, but I’m resisting.  But just for fun, here’s everything else I’m reading right now:

I also have a few started that I had to return to the library before I finished, but that I want to check out again and finish:

Sitting in my house, just waiting for me to open them up:

If you want to know what I’ve read this year (41 books finished!) or what I have in my virtual TBR pile, or if you want to share what you’re reading (please do!), you’re welcome to hit me up on goodreads — I’m sharah there too.  You can find me by the blog email – sharahblog AT gmail.  Or if you want to comment, or leave me an email, I’m all about those book recs!

 

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Digital Distance

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about whether or not to ditch my smartphone.

Yeah, yeah, me and every other internet-addicted suburban hipster trying to reclaim authenticity or whatever, I know.  The thing is, I don’t want to give up facebook.  I don’t want to give up instagram, or goodreads, or my podcasts or feedly.  I like surfing pinterest and etsy and seeing all the pretties — it makes my life better knowing that they are there.  I like the convenience of email and cloud storage, and I live off of GPS navigation. I want to keep all those things.

But I want to give up scrolling as a transitional activity.  I need to have the lure of distracting myself with the vast ocean of the internet at a distance, confined to my home office, not in my pocket.  I want to be able to text and call and take pictures and listen to music, but I can do all those things with something other than a smartphone.  I don’t want a digital sabbatical, I just need some digital distance and good boundaries.

Susannah posted this in her last weekend roundup: “Whenever you check for a new post on Instagram or whenever you go on The New York Times to see if there’s a new thing, it’s not even about the content. It’s just about seeing a new thing. You get addicted to that feeling. You’re not going to be able to control yourself. So the only way to fight that is to take yourself out of the equation and remove all these things. What happens is, eventually you forget about it. You don’t care anymore.” — Aziz Ansari quit the internet

That’s how I feel right now — that it’s just *a new thing* not necessarily *something.*

So how often do I need to check the internet, to dip my toes in the electronic ocean?  I don’t know.  Today I listened to music and part of a podcast I had downloaded at home.  I did a quick internet search for a thing on my work computer.  I scanned through my feedly here at the house.  It feels strange and unsettling to not pick up my phone when I’m in between tasks, or when I want to escape for a moment, but it’s not unpleasant.  It’s decidedly less unpleasant than the feeling of getting sucked into a hundred facebook links and realizing I’ve lost an hour of my day.  I’m going to have to find out what the balance is — do I only need the pocket computer on the weekends? When I travel? Or do I just need to start researching apps that lock me out of the phone when I need to concentrate?  There’s an answer here; I just have to find it.

Anatomy of a night.

It’s 8:30 pm. You press publish on a blog entry fretting about your children’s athletic prowess (or lack thereof) in between kid baths. After pulling the second one out of the tub, wrapping them in a towel, and calling the third, there’s a giant crash in the hallway where child threw a ball into a picture frame. You quickly survey the damage and call spouse for backup with broken glass while you shepherd children through bedtime routine.  You ponder the irony of child being unable to catch a ball they threw to themself.

It’s 9:00 pm. You console the child feeling the pressure of school recital, ballet recital, martial arts belt test, and general angst of having 23 days left in school. After child is calmed and in bed, you (against your plan for an early bedtime) channel your inner Pinterest mom and make a paper chain counting down the days of school left and hang it in the dining room.  You decide a real Pinterest mom would have had pretty scrapbook paper and fancy scissors to execute that project, but whatever, your kids will think you’re cool anyway.

It’s 9:30 pm. You solve spouse’s computer “I uploaded them but where did they go?” image issue with their hosting site.

It’s 10:00 pm. You manage to get in your 10-minute meditation session while *in* bed. You pensively look at the Hugo-nominee library book that you couldn’t finish before it has to be returned tomorrow. Smartly, you choose not to try to binge read the remaining 310 pages.

It’s 3:27 am. You wake up to a child standing by your bed and the dreaded words, “Mom, I need help. I thought I had to fart but it was poop. And then I threw up in the bathroom.” The bathroom is the scene of an apparent poop-splosion. You get child washed off in tub and in clean clothes, nasty undies rinsed out, toilet and sink cleaned and bleached, poopy sheets pulled off bed. You make the bed with the first set of sheets you find (you are convinced they are the wrong size, but fuck it, they’re sheets. The light of day says they are the right size. You are still uncertain how that miracle happened). During the bed-making process you manage to give yourself a giant bruise on your leg from the pointy corner of footboard. Of course it was the child who shares a bedroom who is sick, so this all must be done in the dark, silently, lest you have two children awake at 4:00 am. You go downstairs to bring the child gatorade. In the 30 seconds you were gone, they have another accident. Another bath, another set of clean clothes. You decide to layer the bed with a leftover crib protector. You put the sheets in the wash, assure the dog it’s not time to go out yet, wash your own hands, check on the child one last time, and they puke again (but in the bucket this time, yay!). You get them back up, have them brush their teeth again, decide against a second attempt at fluids since that ended so badly, and tuck them back in.

It’s 4:35 am. Your alarm will go off in 25 minutes. You consider whether it’s better to go back to bed to try to fall asleep for a few blessed extra minutes or to turn off the alarm and just get up now. You choose bed. You lay there, listening to child’s music and the washing machine and spouse’s even breathing and other child talking in their sleep. You pray that talking child is just dreaming, and is not going to wake themself up. Slowly, you relax as you gain confidence that sick child is not going to suddenly puke again and talking child returns to deeper sleep. Your alarm goes off and you get up.

It’s 6:00 am. You leave a note for spouse on child’s bedroom door and a text message for spouse on their phone indicating that in no uncertain terms should that child attend school today. You walk out the door, thankful that the poop and puke are now spouse’s problem. You decide that you earned a treat and stop for a latte on the way to work. It’s been a long day already.

Like riding a bike.

I did not realize until recently how strongly being “athletic” is part of my self-image. I played volleyball and basketball in junior high school, then switched to a new school and just volleyball my sophomore year. (See also: what happens when you stop growing at 12 years old and everyone else just keeps getting taller.) I wasn’t a college-level prospect, but I did play a little intramural vball when I lived on campus. After I graduated, I started going to the gym and did step aerobics and yoga and pilates and a short stint with a trainer. After Mini was born, I started running. Mostly 5ks, some trail running, and then a half-marathon last summer.

Now, my children have decided that they want to learn to ride bicycles. I had to get a new one for myself since I haven’t ridden one since I learned how to drive. Besides a little saddle-soreness and a frisson of “am I too old for this?!?”, it’s been a text-book case of why “it’s like riding a bike” is such a strong figure of speech. I’m still getting a feel for the handbrakes, but otherwise my shiny new aqua pearl cruiser has been full of win.

Dem kids, tho’.

I did *not* realize how strongly it would affect me that my kids do not seem to possess my natural? practiced? athletic prowess. I watch them and I can SEE what they are doing wrong, but I cannot put it into words they understand to help them course correct. I keep just saying “Watch me, do it like this.” because physically I KNOW how the movement happens, I KNOW how to make my body just DO the thing I want them to do. But I don’t have the vocabulary to describe it. And it makes me so agitated that this thing that is so easy, so natural for me to do — they just can’t do it. Like, I was pedaling behind Mini, and he’s not square on his seat and he’s pushing too hard with his right leg and leaning his upper body to the left to try to balance it out. I could tell he was about to fall over to the right (and he did), but I couldn’t explain to him why. So he’s frustrated and I’m irritated and we both just go home.

I don’t know how to explain not to fight against the physics of the motion, to move *with* the weight and momentum, to let their bodies flex and rotate and curve instead of holding rigid, to relax in the movement. To trust that the earth beneath their feet will hold them up and be there to catch them when they fall, as long as they roll with the path and don’t fight against it.

I’m scared that this is going to be a giant flashing neon metaphor for my parenting as they get older and I have to help them find their way in the world instead of carrying them through it myself.

NaBloPoMo Day 6: Epitaph

What goes on your headstone?

I think that “Late Fragment” by Raymond Carver is the perfect summary of what I would want on my headstone or memorial plaque.

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Beloved wife, mother, friend.  If that is how I was remembered, I would have had a good life.

 

NaBloPoMo Day 5: Funeral Feast

What should they eat at your funeral?

Tradition says that my friends or my church (or my family’s church) would furnish a pot luck luncheon for after the funeral.  Casseroles, meat and cheese tray, tea sandwiches, dips, desserts.  Southern comfort foods.  And having been to more funerals than I like, I can say that it IS comforting to have plates of the same food I grew up with there as an offering of sympathy in grief.

But if *I* got to pick the menu, I would have local craft beer and a couple food trucks set up (gourmet burgers and wood fired pizza).  With a selection of italian deli cookies and middle eastern pastries for dessert.  To share my favorites in memoriam, one last meal with the people I loved.

NaBloPoMo Day 4: Dust to Dust

Where do you want your final resting place?

My family has a plot in a cemetery in my hometown.  My grandparents are buried there, and my parents will be.  I doubt that I will be.  I could probably be buried in the same cemetery somewhere, but there is not enough room in their area to keep three generations of our family together.  Plus, I’ve now lived more than half my life here and it would be weird to have my body there now.

If I end up in the green cemetery, I’ll be a little north of here, but the city will eventually fill in around over time.  I like the idea of my body decomposing back into the earth and becoming one again with the forests, the fields.  

If I am cremated, I want my ashes spread in specific places that I love: on my parents’ property, off the bridge leading to the mill pond; into the gulf to ride the soft warm waves forever; here, tamped into the earth at Big Spring; in Michigan with the apple trees bearing tart sweet fruit and honey.

Wherever my body ends up, I want to return to the earth, to become part of the cycle of rebirth and renewal.  I want to re-enter the life stream; that’s  how immortality is achieved.