Now is Now

I just finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s 2012 book Happier at Homewhich chronicles her months-long quest to find joy and greater satisfaction in everyday moments and familiar places.

Firstly, I loved it and will probably re-read it immediately (must remember to renew as is a library book!). More importantly, it was the right book for me to read at this moment. I don’t think I could’ve found better reading material for the mindset that I’ve been in these past few months. Cultivating a home that feels like a sanctuary, remembering to pause and take in moments, especially with one’s children, practicing patience with and demonstrating love toward one’s spouse or partner—these have all been so prominent in my mind lately.

The book ends (not really a spoiler alert):

As I walked up the steps to my building on that spring afternooon, and looked up at the windows of my little apartment in the big city, I reminded myself, “Now is now.” And I know what the child Laura [Ingalls Wilder, referenced previously] did not yet know. “Now is now, and now is already a long time ago.”

As I turned the key and pushed open the front door, as I crossed the threshold, I thought how breathtaking, how fleeting, how precious was my ordinary day. Now is now. Here is my treasure.

And oh, how I feel that.

I’ve spent the latter half of 2018 reassembling the family that I spent my twenties putting together. It was dismantled in a season of angst five years ago, but through grace and second chances, I’ve been able to get it back—in a way.

Five years is a long time for adults. Scott and I have both changed dramatically during the time we were apart, and for the better. But five years is massive for children. When we last left off, we had an almost-teenager, a fourth-grader, and a preschooler. We’ve now got an almost-adult who just finished high school, a sophomore, and a fifth-grader. Just as we’re not entirely the same adults, they are not entirely the same children. So much has changed, but the heart of who we are is still there.

It’s made the past feel especially precious—the silly photos, the children’s drawings, the snippets of everyday life that I blogged about here (and I’m so grateful I did!). My love for nostalgia has always been strong, but now it’s almost overwhelming. I find myself looking at pictures from 12 or 13 years ago and poring over the details in the background: furniture in our apartments, notes on the refrigerator, books on shelves, artifacts in the girls’ childhood bedrooms. All of it is so mundane, and at the moment it didn’t seem particularly noteworthy. My life was filled with sippy cups, marker-scrawled portraits, so many toys. But now, my god, I have such fondness for these things. I would give anything to revisit these moments and places to just observe.

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2007, Kai and Cean with braids (in hopes of curly hair)

But now, as it was then, is always slipping away. Now is a moment I’m already remembering somewhere in the future. Now is already a long time ago.

It’s a poignant reminder to soak in these now moments. To make the memories (and to document them). To delight in the everyday happenings, the used-daily objects, the silly sayings, the friendships, the expressions of love and affection. These are the moments that comprise our lives.

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2018. Cean, Kai, and Malcolm on Christmas morning.
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Independence Day, and Floating

I had an appointment with my therapist yesterday. After she patiently listened to me describe the total chaos that has been my life lately, after offering some sweet insights and gentle guidance and scheduling our next visit, she walked me to the door of her office.

“Happy… Independence Day,” she said with a smile. I suddenly remembered what day it was, but not even for a second did I think she was being patriotic. I knew what she meant.

“Yes. Yes, it is. Thank you,” I replied.


I recently ended a relationship. It was only long-ish, three and a half years, but it felt much longer in its intensity.

It was an untenable situation that had grown increasingly unhealthy. It was only when I started talking to someone about the issues that I was able to see things objectively. This was bad, and I needed to leave.

I’m still in Assessing the Damage mode. There’s the concrete kind: I suddenly find myself without furniture, a vacuum cleaner, an iron, bath towels that match, my stemless wine glasses. And there’s the intangible kind: is this where all my depression has been rooted, why am I drawn to people who need to be taken care of, do I have any mutual friends who are still speaking to me?


At the beginning of this relationship, I spent a lot of time swimming at the Y with my daughter.

We would share a lane, and she would sail ahead of me with her strong, efficient freestyle. I would float on my back, ears submerged, quieting out the sound until all that was left was my heartbeat and my racing thoughts. The early weeks of this relationship were fraught, and I questioned everything, mostly myself. I loved being in the water, but it had a way of making me very anxious.

In the years that followed, the anxiety persisted, and we stopped swimming. Until yesterday.

It’s comically difficult to get a teenager to leave the comfort of her bedroom. Even more so when it’s to accompany her mother to a place where said mother will be wearing a swimsuit. But she did.

We shared a lane again. She took off, effortless and athletic, cutting through the water like it was no big deal.

I laid back in the pool, the water filling my ears, drowning out the world. I felt lighter, no longer carrying around a heavy bag of dread and worry on my chest like a backpack worn the wrong way.

I kicked off from the wall and floated away.

 

Why I’ll Be at Work on March 8th

My favorite book is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Set in a not-too-futuristic religious dystopia, women aren’t permitted to be educated, hold property, or make decisions regarding their bodies. Any fertile, unmarried woman is enslaved as a child bearer for a wealthy, childless couple. These women are called handmaids, and they are perpetually clad in red. During a particularly chilling passage, the protagonist, Offred, describes the day when society began to quickly change. She went to buy a pack of cigarettes and her debit card no longer worked; it was decided overnight that women could no longer control their finances. She went to work and was, along with all other women in her office, fired; it was decided overnight that women could no longer be employed.

No work. No spending money. Dressed in red. These similarities make me uneasy.

It’s not just the prescient details of my favorite book that turn me off from A Day Without A Woman. This event reeks of privilege. You know who won’t be taking the day off? Women with minimum-wage jobs. Women with hourly or part-time jobs. Women who cannot incur the cost of childcare. Women who are breadwinners. Women who are disabled. Women who searched for weeks or months or years to finally secure a job. Women with employers who would harass them for requesting such a day off. How many of these women struggle to keep their heads and those of their children above water? How many of these are minorities or women of color?

A Day Without A Woman is a misnomer—it’s just A Day Without Women Who Can Afford It.

Two Ways to End the Day 

One

  • Drink a glass of water
  • Floss and brush teeth
  • Remove eye makeup, wash face
  • Apply lavender oil to temples and wrists
  • Meditate for five to seven minutes
  • Drift off to the soothing sound of rain (via white noise app)

Two

Pass out in full clothes and makeup watching season two of Orange is the New Black after drinking a bottle of wine and consuming a giant bowl of cocoa pebbles.

A Day of Accomplishment

Despite the fact that I didn’t even leave the house, and because of the ice, any plans I’d made were canceled, today was great.

  • I did tons of laundry.
  • I bleached a shower curtain, scrubbed the shower, and poured drano down the drain.
  • I discovered that when I flipped over our shitty, sagging, pillowtop mattress, it became a firm and much more comfortable version of itself (this is great as we’ve been bemoaning how horrible the mattress was and wishing we had funds for a new one).
  • I cleaned and reorganized part of the basement.
  • I replaced a tail light bulb on the car.
  • I sorted through the box of important files and papers; I got rid of much more than I expected to.
  • I made the best chocolate-chip cookies ever (no, really).
  • I made breakfast for supper, featuring a delicious potato/spinach/onion/cheese/egg scramble that had the texture of mashed potatoes. It was amazing.
  • I gave myself a kickass haircut.
  • Malcolm finally pooped in the potty – this was a major victory.

Rainy Mondays

To improve a gloomy, rainy Monday (complete with impossible hair and a handful of zits) , use (1) slim black skirt, (1) tuna sandwich from Jimmy John’s (removing cold ingredients and toasting under broiler first), (a handful of) mini York peppermint patties from the office candy bucket, and (numerous) old episodes of The Moth podcast.

Forget that you’re not adult enough to own an umbrella, forget that you’re supposed to work out and run tonight.

Forget that one of the aforementioned zits is incredibly painful – take some ibuprofen and forget that you just recently made fun of your little sister for doing this exact same thing.

Forget about your awful hair, and forget your thoughts this morning about cutting it all off.

Monday will be over soon.

Lost Myself Again

I could blame depression. I could blame poor self-image. I could blame my children, my job, the busy life of a working mother. Shit, I could blame social media (hey, Facebook!) for usurping blogging as the 21st-century fad du jour. Whatever the reason may be, I miss writing. Over the course of the last five years, I’ve fallen in and out of love with this blog, but I’m back on an upswing. I’m sorry, dear WordPress, dear readers, if you’re still out there. Facebook is pretty and shiny, but I’m making room and time for you again.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been reading old posts, and I’ve remembered a very important thing that writing does for me – it keeps my memories when I can’t hold on to them anymore. Even posts that at the time seemed incredibly mundane and trivial are now valuable to me. I never really thought of it as record keeping, and I never really considered how much I’d treasure posts about two-year-old Kya playing with worms or my thoughts on the 2007 Academy Awards. So good job, younger Jenny.

Because it’s been eight months since I last posted, here’s a reintroduction of the dramatis personae.

First and foremost, Me: 27. Presently blonde. Still a graphic designer, full-time, in an office, 8-5. Current interests & activities: eating and living healthy, working out, yoga, documentaries, and now that it’s spring, being outside. Politically apathetic, still passionately atheistic, but less angry about others who aren’t.

Scott: My husband, my sidekick, my partner, my entertainer, my right-hand man, my BFF and my nemesis all at once. Currently into playing an old-school Clue videogame, prog rock, beans & rice, fighting allergies, and at the moment, watching a scary movie about an evil ventriloquist doll.

Cean: Step-daughter, funny lady, all-around cool kid. 9 years old, 4th grade. Currently into archery, diving, drama club, and at the moment, hiding under a blanket while watching a scary movie about an evil ventriloquist doll.

Kya: Daughter, fancy pants, kooky songstress. 7 years old, 2nd grade,but just as tall as her sister. Currently into Greek mythology, dancing, having picnics, and at the moment, not hiding under a blanket while watching a scary movie about an evil ventriloquist doll.

Malcolm: The boy, the myth, the legend. 2.5 years old, scrappy-but-charming single ginger of the daycare’s toddler room. Currently into chicken nuggets, seahorses, numbers and letters, and at the moment, singing a song about a jumping crawfish.

PS: The title of this post comes from this song by the highly underrated Longpigs.