Today, July 30th, is Emily Bronte’s birthday. She was born in 1818 in Thornton, Yorkshire. I’ve compiled a list of suggestions for celebrating the great English novelist’s special day.
- Read Wuthering Heights, of course.
- Watch Wuthering Heights, preferably the version with Tom Hardy hotness.
- Write a story in the tiniest handwriting you can manage.
- Go for a long, long, long walk.
- If the weather cooperates, stand in the rain.
- Act obsessive and morose to your significant other.
- Stand in a graveyard at night and pound your chest.
- Ponder digging up a grave.
- Decide against it and make an impassioned speech.
- Tap on windows and creep out hapless occupants within.
In all seriousness, thank you Emily, for the genius that is Wuthering Heights. For daring to write about arguably unlikable characters who nevertheless claim our hearts in their struggle to hold on to love.
If you can’t get enough Wuthering Heights, here’s a link to some covet-worthy WH swag. I couldn’t resist having my picture taken in front of this tourist trap with the word Curio in the name. The store was jam-packed with old-fashioned curio cabinets like the enchanted one in my recently completed novel. I confess I might’ve studied the contents to make sure nothing inside hinted at a magical universe. We are back from a mini vacation in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. In an astonishing turn of events, we actually did do some relaxing. Family vacations have always been problematic for us, and often leave me wondering if other families work so hard to have fun only to succumb to internal friction. I expect that despite Facebook photo albums showing smiley togetherness, most vacations involve whining, frustration and one or two small disasters. At least I hope we’re not the only ones. I have a friend who refers to “Facebook Families” as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on all those perfect photo albums and squeaky proud parent statuses. When I’m having a less than FB-worthy moment, she reminds me that everyone has those moments. They just don’t post them. I tend to take a more honest approach to life. Breathe In Breathe Out has featured my messy journey through womanhood, motherhood, and my writing pursuits. But I’ve always gotten the most responses to my candid posts about raising a son who faces multiple challenges including Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD and Anxiety. It’s been a relief for me to be honest about the struggles we face. And it’s been an honor to receive comments from moms dealing with similar circumstances. But as you may have noticed, I’ve been posting less frequently. There are a couple reasons for this. First, since this blog is supposed to be humorous, I feel like a failure when I’m not funny. But guess what, sometimes life isn’t funny. Second, I’ve been focusing my dubious mental powers on writing and editing my latest book. Third, I’ve been struggling with how to proceed with this blog. For a long time I couldn’t pinpoint what was bothering me. The answer came in a gradual sort of way, and, at the same time, all at once—rather like watching your children grow up before your eyes, then one day looking over to find this full-sized human you thought was an extension of yourself, but who is really a completely separate and wonderful individual. Breathe In Breathe Out has been about my journey, but it’s not just my journey anymore. In reality, it never was, but I shared it from my perspective—as a mother of a special needs child. But this is also my son’s journey. I see that more every day. And as he heads into middle school, I need to be more careful with how much of his life I share. It’s HIS life! It’s mine too, but, yeah, you get it. Although I love to encourage moms who face similar struggles, even that calling takes a backseat to ensuring both of my sons' privacy as they face the challenge of growing up. I know you will understand as Breathe In Breathe Out takes a breather (hee hee.) I will still share funny anecdotes as they ambush me and glimpses into the spiral of insanity I call my career. And I hope that my journey into writing YA fiction, which I LOVE, will spawn an entirely new web presence—maybe a cool alter ego who eats sushi and runs marathons. Then again, maybe I’ll stick to eating cheese and reading books. Thanks for being my friend here on Breathe In Breathe Out. I’m thankful for every person who has read this blog. I hope you’ll stick around as I rethink, reimagine, repurpose, and redesign my focus. I’m pretty sure it’s going to require a new wardrobe. And some new shoes. Yes, definitely new shoes.
Summer a.k.a. misery and swimsuit angst. We ended the school year with a nasty cold. Monkey came home an absolute grouch on the last day of school. Not what you’d expect from a kid who’s been looking forward to summer break since, oh, September. Turned out he was sick and the misery has made its way through the family, which is why I’ve been MIA. When all you can come up with to blog about is the quantity and consistency of mucous, it’s best not to post. But now we’re finding our summer groove and despite my first sentence, I’m feeling optimistic about the next two months. For one thing, Kory has been court ordered to take a vacation. Well, not quite. But he’s about to max out on vacation time, and was told he better take time off. I, of course, have been telling him he needs a break for months. Not sure yet what we’ll do. Nothing too spectacular. That’s just not how we roll. In order to avoid constant guilt over letting the boys have too much screen time, I set up some daily requirements for math, reading and exercise. They’re pretty minimal but at least at the end of the summer I won’t be handing little Neanderthals back to the teachers. My mom sent up a box of old comic books—Hagaar the Horrible, Beetle Bailey, B.C., Peanuts—and the boys are devouring them. Great literature? Maybe not, but everything counts when you’re nurturing a life-long Neanderthal, I mean, reader.
Monkey is taking drum lessons, going to band camp, and banging the heck out of his snare drum on a daily basis. He’s not interested in using the practice pad, so we’re urging him to keep the pounding to daylight hours.
I wish I could say my yearly swimsuit search was over. As if I didn’t already need Xanax just to face swimsuit season, this year Target.com is determined to fit me with a straight jacket for all my water fun needs.
I ordered a swim top and shorts and received the top and a pair of bikini bottoms. The bottoms were … unacceptable. I tried again and received another bikini bottom instead of the shorts. I called and had the pleasure of speaking to a highschooler about my swimwear needs. He told me the website was in error and to try ordering my shorts again in a week. Today I went back to Target.com and it’s obvious someone attempted to correct the error. The swim shorts that were incorrectly labeled bikini bottoms have been changed to swim shorts. The verbiage is correct for the black swim shorts and the blue swim shorts, but the purple swim shorts I want are still labeled bikini bottoms. I called and talked to someone from Mexico about my problem. He said he’d submit a report and I could check back in a few days. Meanwhile, I have that funny old ad snafu running through my head: Our swimsuits are sensational! They’re simply the tops! Looks like I’ll be making do with last year’s bathing suit a little while longer. If you’re luckier than me, lounging by the pool in adequate swimwear, and looking for a good read, I have a suggestion. My friend Carla’s book Five Days in Skye is just the kind of delicious escape read that begs for a towel and umbrella drink. It releases today! So what does this summer hold for you?
Monkey is afraid of bees. Really, really afraid. I’d go so far as to call it a phobia. So I looked up fear of bees and discovered that it’s called either Apiphobia or Melissophobia. Who comes up with this stuff? Apiphobia sounds believable, but if you tell someone you have Melissophobia they’re going to ask you why the heck you’re afraid of people named Melissa. Furthermore, if the fear of bees is called Melissophobia then WHAT pray tell IS the fear of people named Melissa called? Beeophobia? Silly scientific community. Anyway, it’s hard to get Monkey outdoors in the summer. This is mostly because of his love affair with screens, but the Apiphobia definitely contributes. The other day Kory came home from one of his strange shopping rambles and said, “I found something that might help our son go outside.” I expected an insect-repelling bracelet or something. We’ve tried them in the past. But he held up an electricity-charged tennis racket, a bug zapper. Of course, my first question was, “What will it do to people?” I wasn’t born yesterday. Monkey has a little brother who is at times quite vexing. I could see the temptation becoming more than a big brother can bear. Anyway, Kory assured me it was mostly harmless to humans. So the other day we planned to take the dog to a nearby field for some exercise. Monkey raised his usual objections (bees!), but Kory pulled out the bug zapper. Thus armed, our less-than-intrepid 11-year-old stepped out into the wilderness of suburbia. As you might guess, having the bug zapper prompted Monkey to search out bugs for annihilation. But it’s spring in Colorado. We’ve had approximately two and a half warm days. There weren’t a lot of bugs roaming the sidewalks. And turns out it’s hard to angle the electrified racket to zap a tiny ant. We trudged out of our neighborhood and into the grass and packed dirt of the nearby field. Monkey kept his eyes on the ground, searching for victims. And then, a big black beetle ambled across the path. Monkey froze, zeroing in on the bug. He yelled for his brother to come. They hovered over their target, exited, blood-thirsty. You see, the beetle was exactly like the one who viciously killed Monkey’s roley poley last October while we were out for a walk. They resurrected the travesty of the roley poley’s demise and pinned it on this beetle representative. Things went a little Lord of the Flies. Shouts of “The roley poley shall be avenged!” rang out. The racket was raised. Chunky had found a trident-like stick which he waved in the air in support of his brother’s campaign. I thought, this is a good time to teach them about appreciating nature, the sanctity of life, the fact that vengeance belongs to the Lord. Then I walked away. I can’t justify it. I just did. Whoops, hollers, and the distinct zip of electricity followed. I cringed as they shouted, “We are avenged!” I joined Kory up on top of the hill, ready to lay the blame for our vicious children on his Y chromosome contribution. I found him scooping up another black beetle from the path. He tossed it into the weeds, saving it from the oncoming monsters. The boys joined us, pink-cheeked and triumphant. Monkey held up the racket. “It works, Dad!” Then he handed his weapon, his defense against bees, his “safety net” to me and ran off to play with the dog.
On Monday I moved our female turtle, Molly, into her own house. The amazing habitat my husband built just wasn’t big enough for two anymore. Ever since Molly came out of hibernation, Roger has made the poor girl’s existence a nightmare. If she so much as pokes her face out of the substrate, he thinks it’s time for some lovin’. She wasn’t eating or bathing. She wouldn’t even come out from under her rock. Poor thing needed some intervention. So I fixed up a plastic crate with rocks, wood chips, a private bath and a flower-festooned clay hut. Then I transferred Molly to her new digs. She loves it! Now she comes out, eats, and tootles around her home. The only problem is, I had to put Molly’s house inside the bigger habitat so she’d get the light and heat she needs from the special lamps. Since her new home is clear plastic, Roger can still see the object of his affection.
He crawls along the edge like a lovesick peeping tom, clawing at the plastic. I think if he could howl, he would. I’m hoping time will calm his wild turtle urges, but until then it’s bachelorhood for Roger. The thing is, I know how he feels. And I’m not referring to spring time friskiness. (We won’t go there.) I know what it’s like to see the thing I want yet be blocked by a barrier I don’t understand. I see my goal of publication and I scratch away, trying to move toward it, and I think, “Why can’t I get there? Why can’t I have that?” Poor Roger and me. We need a distraction. We need to appreciate the stuff we have. Maybe we should take up a hobby. What if I dipped him in paint and let him crawl over a canvas? That would keep us both occupied for a while, and maybe Turtle Art would be the next big thing. Anyone else out their frustrated? What’s the goal you can see but just can’t get to? And how much would you pay for art created by a licentious turtle?
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