Week in the Life Day 5: on Sacred Thursday, Sisters, and Pelicans

For years, Thursday was my favorite day. I called it “sacred Thursday” and I told my kids and my husband that on Thursdays, we leave Mom alone. I didn’t have to work, I kept the day appointment-free, I didn’t see any friends or my sisters or my mom. My friends at work knew not to bother me unless there was a true library emergency (which is a fairly rare occurrence anyway). I got all of the housework and the bill paying and the meal planning done so I didn’t have to do any of it on Thursdays. I savored it as my one day a week when really: I was alone in my house and I could do anything I wanted.

Now Kendell works from home.

Works from home every. single. day.

And if you don’t think this creates some deeply conflicted feelings for me, you just don’t know me. On the one hand:  Kendell is happier. He likes not having to drive in to work, he likes hanging out with me.

And it’s not that I don’t like hanging out with him.

It’s the other hand: I need creative time alone in my house. When it is absolutely silent (Kendell and I are like Kreacher and Sirius Black: he slips into the bedroom to turn on the TV, and then I slip in and turn it off, repeat 15x a day), when I don’t have any other responsibilities. My spirit and my soul and my psyche and my bones need this.

I miss sacred Thursday so much. And I don’t know how to resolve this problem. Because why is his happiness more important than mine? Why is mine more important than his?

But, Kendell working from home has pushed me out of the house and into doing different things on Thursdays. (On all the days, honestly!) Becky, Suzette and I emptied my mom’s house on Thursdays. Sometimes I go for a hike in the foothills by myself. Or I do errands, and by errands I mean stuff like the fabric store, the scrapbook store, maybe a stop at Macy’s for a little something pretty (no objects I need, I mean, but these activities at least give me the temporary illusion of the self-care I need).

Today, I drove up to Salt Lake City and met Becky for a run. On a sacred Thursday! We went on a portion of the Jordan River Pathway, and it was a thing my psyche also needed. We talked and laughed (as much as you can laugh while you’re running), we figured out absolutely nothing but felt heard and validated by each other. Plus, it was just so pretty this morning. Cool-ish, not cold but also not hot. Everything green—I love this kind of path, a swath of green through suburbia, a little ribbon of wilderness, or at least, of the appearance of wilderness. We saw four pelicans floating on the river—pelicans? In Utah? I had to stop and take a photo of them; it’s not very good, and two of them had already floated behind the reeds before I got there, but I’m glad I have it anyway. On our way back we took a little detour and there was a young deer in the shadow of a tree. There were ducks, quail, black-billed magpies.

When we were almost finished stretching after our run, a woman came down the trail and stopped at the benches where we were stretching. (Becky had her yoga mat, which used to be my mom’s, so we could both also stretch our backs.) She asked if we’d seen the pelicans and then told us she’d been coming to the river for a few weeks, hoping to spot them, and today we finally had. She told us about their migratory patterns—they stop on the Jordan River for a little while, and then fly south to Utah Lake to feed when the carp spawn, and then they go to the ocean. She told us that the bulge on their beaks means they are in breeding season.

I didn’t know any of this about pelicans. Honestly, I didn’t know they ever even came to Utah. I’m glad we met up with this woman and that she shared her knowledge with us because it made me understand what a gift that was, just happening to see the pelicans.

After running, we went to the fabric store, and then I drove home.

The rest of the day was just a day—I finished all the cutting I need to do and started organizing. I went to Costco with Kendell and we picked Kaleb up from his cousin’s house on the way home. I made chicken and rice for dinner, except Kaleb didn’t want it so he made himself a sandwich. (Cue my usual frustration over dinner, but if he makes his alternate meal, that is just fine.) Kendell and I watched some TV, I read my book a little (I don’t want it to end so I’m finishing it slowly), we went to bed. When Jake came home he startled me and it gave me a charley horse in my foot so he rubbed it out for me. Then I remembered I hadn't blogged so I got up and wrote this post.

Just a Thursday.

I miss my sacred Thursdays. I don’t even talk about them very often anymore because I get filled up with anger and frustration and annoyance (I am filled with it now as I write this). But there is also a little voice telling me to hold on, to appreciate the now, because things always change. So I will continue looking for different ways to spend my Thursdays, even if they aren’t sacred anymore. Even if they aren’t exactly what I need.

Week in the Life Day 4: The Weepy Day

This line I read this morning made me, sitting there at my kitchen counter eating breakfast, start weeping. In the novel, Meet me at The Museum, one of the protagonists (this is a story told by two people) is pondering his adult daughter’s decision, and he writes (it is an epistolary novel)

I am like a man standing on a shore watching people he loves rowing a boat. As long as they are safe in the boat, nothing else is so important.

I woke up feeling sad and less-than and like I have wasted my life. Like I have failed all of the people I love the most. Like I have also failed myself. I’m not really sure why I felt this way, except for a conversation I had with my sister yesterday, and an argument (discussion?) I had with Kendell last night, and maybe because of a poem I read yesterday (This over the./One of the rules for writing the poems of a lonely person) and maybe because it rained all day yesterday, off and on, and my mood needed to match the world’s melancholy. Because I was thinking, strangely enough (but not so strange if you are Mormon), of my wedding, and how while I loved my dress and I appreciated all of my mom’s and sisters’ hard work in making my reception both beautiful and delicious, I wish I would’ve known then to follow my own impulses and do what I wanted instead of following all of the cultural expectations, and why does that even matter now, 27 years later, except for the fact that thinking about my wedding day fills me with a sort of sadness that I can’t help but carry all of my life, similar to the fact that I didn’t go to prom, because it feels like I missed something that most people get, and then I realize that not only do I feel sad and less-than and like I failed, but I also feel…abnormal. And yes: like all the people I love are always in a boat rowing somewhere, but I’m just standing on the shore, and I do only want them to be safe but I also still want to not have this feeling. Except, who would I be without this feeling?

(Run-on sentences written deliberately.)

So I sat there crying over my third-favorite mug and I looked at my kitchen. I thought about how many hours I have spent in this small space, making dinner, doing dishes. I bathed my babies in the kitchen sink for the first months of their lives. I’ve baked cookies and boiled cream and sugar into caramel. Many times more than I just this morning I have cried there. I thought about my mother-in-law’s kitchen, and how it was a sort of synecdoche. Maybe my kitchen is for me, too. If I died tomorrow the sink, the pale pink tiles I picked, the battered countertop would all still be there. Witl 2019 kitchen

Why am I writing this down, in this context? This is a part of my life. This wondering, this feeling. Does everyone do this? Does everyone question their life and their decisions, their place in the world? Or is it just my overthinking brain overthinking again? I don’t know. But that is how my Wednesday started.

The day continued to be weepy. I watched a few news reports about yesterday's school shootings in Colorado and cried.

I watched the vote over whether or not to hold Barr in contempt and I cried. (Our country is just so messed up right now.)

I messaged Becky and I cried. (But I didn't tell her I was crying.)

My friend Wendy, obviously inspired, also messaged me, and for whatever reason her cheery hello helped me to stop crying.

So then I just kept working on my cutting project. I am getting really close and am already looking forward to organizing all of the squares I've cut. Kendell keeps looking at me in dubious ways, but even though it is a complete fabric whirlwind right now, this really is progress. Once all those random scraps are cut into useful squares, I'll be able to make projects much faster, and it will be less bulky to store it all.

I did some laundry—towels and sheets. I haven't switched my bed over to regular cotton yet...it's almost too warm for flannel, but I always have a hard time giving it up. One more round before I pull out the cotton sheets. I'm looking even more forward to going to bed tonight than I usually do, because that first night on just-washed sheets is heaven.

My knees had finally stopped twinging from hiking last weekend, so I decided to go for a run in between laundry loads. Kendell's schedule had cleared up a little bit, so he went with me. We went to the canyon, where there's a paved path by the river (one of my favorite parts of living where I do is this path; ten minutes from my house and I can be running under trees next to swift running water). Since he can't run, we decide on the time we'll turn around. Today I told him we'd turn around at 19 minutes and he thought I was insane and insisted on 20. I was feeling a little bit faster than I expected, and so close to two miles than I went to 21 before I turned around. So, four miles today! Witl 2019 running on the PRT

Six and a half minutes into our run (I only know because I looked at my watch) it started raining. Not pouring, but not a light drizzle either. At seven minutes, Kendell called me and asked if we should turn around. I said "Oh, hell no! Running in the rain is the best! Plus, it's Utah. It could stop at any second. Let's keep going." I think he might've been surprised at my response, but really: I probably won't start a run in the rain, but if it starts raining while I'm running, I almost never stop. When we met back up, I told him he's joined the bad ass runner's club. Bad asses keep going in the rain! (It stopped about halfway through anyway. Spring in Utah!)

While I was stretching after running, I thought about two different things. First, I thought about how much better I felt emotionally after getting out on the trail. This is what I meant when I told that orthopedist last year that I don't know how to live without running. Not for the "runner's high" as he suggested. It's not about euphoria (or, at least...it isn't always) but evenness. It calms my high-strung emotions while lifting me up to a level emotional field. I love it for the physicality of it...but I love it more for the emotional health it gives me.

Second, I thought about stretching. I really love stretching, but I know not everyone wants to spend the time. I've been thinking about doing a weekly series on my IG about different stretches, how they help, how to do them properly, and why stretching is entirely worth the extra time. But I'm also sure there are one million people already doing this, most of them more qualified than I am. Would I seem like a ridiculous IG poser if I did this? Do people still use the word "poser" like that? And besides...I am ridiculous on video. So maybe not.

After running, I raced back home to shower and get ready for work. I cut it really close so I didn't eat anything. Which, even if I just ran four miles was a bad idea. I totally crashed once i sat down at my desk (luckily I was in the office for a little while). Like...I struggled to stay awake. And then I went and filled up my Hydro with soda, even though I really don't like drinking soda calories, just so I could have some caffeine to keep me going. Didn't help that I ate some pasta, too...carb coma!

While at work today, I texted back and forth with Kendell and Kaleb. I was just feeling really sad (sad again!) because Kaleb had a choir concert I didn't know about and I couldn't get off at the last minute. So I missed it. Kendell went, of course, so he had a parent there. But I wanted to listen to him sing. Sadness.

One funny library story. We have a beautiful sculpture near the reference desk of a crouching man (please note: despite many people’s opinions, this is not Rodin’s The Thinker; sure, it’s an unclothed male statue but the likeness ends there, hashtag art history). A woman was letting her daughter climb on it tonight, so I asked her to please not climb the statue. The mom said “Oh, it’s OK. I took a picture of her when she was five sitting on top of it, and I just want to recreate it.” Ummmm…not ok three or four years ago, not OK now. It’s a sculpture, not a jungle gym. I insisted she not let her daughter climb onto the shoulders.

Finally, I just want to say how grateful I am for my two sisters, Becky and Suzette. They both talked me through my over-the-top emotions today. What would I do without them?

Week in the Life Day 3: A Day of Rain

This morning I ran outside because I heard the garbage truck coming and I wasn’t sure if the can was out. It wasn’t, so I rolled it to the curb and then just stood there, on the sidewalk under my maple tree, my toes just barely touching the bright-green grass. The skies were grey and it was storming on the mountain, so there was the faint smell of rain, and the stronger scent of damp earth, wood smoke, and a vague floral. The wind sighed a bit. The air was just so delicious, better than any perfume I have ever smelled, heavy with coming rain but also with brightness and hope, and in my flower beds the violet violets bloomed under the green leaves of poppies and I just: I wanted to stay there forever.

Instead I went inside and got ready, because Jake and I had some stuff to do. He recently lost his wallet, and finally decided he won’t be finding it any time soon, so he and I went out to take care of it. We went to the bank and the DMV, with a quick stop for a haircut along the way. I loved this morning, for reasons it would take too many words to explain. But I needed it, just to spend time with him but also to feel like he is going to be OK. To maybe let go of a little bit of fear and worry. (Plus it made me happy how I could see his face again after his haircut.)

Then I was off to work (a little bit late; I had curly hair because that's the fastest way to do it).

One thing I love at work is when it rains and I am sitting at the reference desk. In front of me are high, tall windows that the rain taps against; to the top left are the windows to the courtyard, where the trees—white flowering pears—move in the wind. And to the right, more tall windows where I can just see, around the reference shelves, Cascade. Grey and green and white; wind and rain. I am lucky to work at such a library.

After work, I rushed home so I could grab a jacket and then make it to Kaleb’s soccer game. I was a little bit late, and when I got there I discovered that the other team had to forfeit because they didn’t have enough players show up. So the coaches decided to just play a soccer game, 30-minute halfs, and some of our kids played on the other team, and when that wasn’t enough two of the refs also jumped in, but they couldn’t play well because it had rained and the grass was wet and they weren’t wearing cleats. Kaleb played defense, which he never does, so other kids could get practice at playing forward. And it was all funny and fun, and he kept laughing and everyone was breaking rules. It was maybe the funnest game they ever got credit for winning!

Witl 2019 kaleb soccer

I took my DSLR because I am trying to use it more, and Kendell took this pic of me taking pics, which, like a nerd, I love:

Witl 2019 amy taking pics 6x6

Once the game was over, I wandered around my yard for a little bit. These last tulips looked so beautiful in the long, early-evening light!

Witl 2019 beautiful tulips 6x8
I took a few pictures and just stayed outside because I was, honestly, avoiding my daily biggest stress: what to make for dinner. I love cooking but I don’t love how it’s become this futile exercise in trying to please everyone. Kaleb, who would be happy if we ate cheeseburgers every day, was making himself sandwiches when I came in, in order to avoid leftovers. I tussled with Kendell for awhile, a little spark of arguing that grew bigger over the evening (while we were watching TV I kept making him pause Trevor Noah so I could point out another thing I am frustrated with right now), and all he wanted was tacos. He’d eat tacos every night for the rest of his life if I would make them for him, and meanwhile if I never have another *&%(#@&% taco I would be just fine. As I had cooked a bunch of hamburger on Sunday night, I made him tacos and myself some red sauce and spaghetti. (Why can’t he just like spaghetti like a normal person???)

Yeah, it was a shouty kind of night.

But then it started raining again. And not just a gentle rain, but a thunderstorm. So I went outside for some more rain listening. There was thunder and lightning in the south and the wind was blowing. Exactly what I needed to try to make myself feel better.

Just before I gave in and just went to bed, Nathan called me. He just called to thank me for sending him a package of stuff he needed, but we ended up talking for 45 minutes, about his shin splints, military thinking, what he is loving about his experience, what he is struggling with. Even while he is struggling he just has a way of cheering me up. I miss him!

Jake came home (he’d been out with friends) and he talked to Nathan for a bit, too. Then he and I talked about the storm (he loves the rain, too), his dentist appointment in the morning, some Game of Thrones theories.

So I went to bed a little bit upset, but hoping maybe a good night’s sleep would help me feel better. Tomorrow will tell. I do love this photo that Kendell talked Kaleb into taking with me though. So there's that.

Witl 2019 amy kaleb soccer game 4x8

Week in the Life Day 2

A list of details from today, Monday, May 6, 2019, for my Week in the Life project:

  • Kendell took Kaleb to school this morning and I finished cleaning the kitchen from last night.
  • After Jake left for work and I cleaned up a few things I needed to do on my computer, I fixed myself a little breakfast beverage and then settled in for the project I wanted to dedicate most of my day to, a project that deserves its very own bullet.
  • Last week, I started my deep decluttering of my house by empting out the closet under the stairs, with the goal of finally getting my fabric in order. I had fabric stashed everywhere, in that closet, in boxes in the storage room, in the linen closet, in my scrapbook room, in the coat closet…everywhere. I gathered every bit I could find and sorted it all out: keep, donate, share with friends, toss. I found an entire Halloween quilt I forgot I made, one of my very first quilting projects ever. (I don’t love it but I decided to just get it quilted and bind it and use it.) I revisited many different quilting projects from the past 15 years. I might’ve even cried a little. But I made a big bag of donations for my mom’s friend who makes receiving blankets for babies in developing countries and one for Days for Girls. I threw away a bunch of meaningless little pieces or stuff that was just too ugly to use. I organized by color and type and got everything straightened and folded and put away neatly. Except for an enormous pile of scraps. Which, really, this requires two
  • So, I gathered all the scraps into my scrappy space. And, today, my project was cutting them all. 8.5” squares, 6” squares. Strips for my box of strips out of the smaller pieces. Books for my book shelf quilt. I thought “how long can it take? A few hours. Then I’ll go running.” So I cut, and I listened to an audio book (In the Midst of Winter by Isabelle Allende), and made mental notes for my route. Then my phone ran and it was 2:30 and Kaleb wanted a ride home from school. Ummmmm…not a few hours. I really wish I had thought to take a picture before I started because the scrap pile was pretty impressive.
  • I went and picked Kaleb up from school, and then said yes when he begged me to take him to Burger King because they had frozen pink lemonade for a buck. So we drove around and talked and he drank his slushy drink.
  • Once we got home, I went back to cutting, but my heart wasn’t really into it, and my knees were killing me (too much standing? Lingering swelling from yesterday’s pole-less hike?), and then Kaleb asked me if I’d take him to the rec, so I decided to wrap up my project and scrap my run and do errands instead.
  • First I made him pick up the catalpa pods in the back yard. He made me laugh. We just bought him some new basketball shoes and he was like, “MOM! I can’t do that, I have my basketball shoes on and I want to keep them clean!” So he took them off to pick up the pods. (Please note that this photo is not an optical illusion. This kid has enormous feet. He's 13 and wears a size 14!) Witl 2019 kalebs enormous shoes
  • I dropped Kaleb off at the rec, filled the car with gas, went to Target, and stopped by the…fabric store, bless my [stupid] heart. Because, yeah, I didn’t have enough fabric yet! But: when I decluttered I found three largish-scraps of black fabric that I really wanted to use in my (seemingly-never-to-be-finished) black and pink quilt, and yeah, I have other pinks, but what if there was something new and fabulous and pink? (There was.) (WTH is wrong with me?)
  • While I ran errands Kendell mowed the lawn.
  • After errands, I did a bit of gardening since I decided not to run. Bind weed is making its comeback and I only have one little bunch of daffodils left. Only a few purple tulips left, and all the hyacinths are gone. Spring flowers are so fleeting! BUT! The very first iris started barely blooming today, so the flower cycle keeps going. I love my yard. Witl 2019 gardening
  • Stuff I paid attention to on TV today: the new royal baby, but only a little bit. The royal British family isn’t a huge draw for me, but I’m glad her baby arrived safely and Harry’s response was sweet. An NPR segment about heartbeat laws which infuriated me. Hostile planet, even though I always feel like slitting my wrists in despair over our planet. The Muller+Barr fiasco.
  • Lastly: leftovers for dinner. Game of Thrones and some ice on my knees. Brownies for dessert because Kendell wanted something to eat with ice cream.

I realized that this little week-in-the-life project at least for today made me think about taking more pictures. I’ve kind of given up on many photos of my kids, since Jake is triggered when I ask him for pictures, and Kaleb complains, and Kendell rolls his eyes. But I did get a few today…I’m thinking of them as surveillance photos. I’m not going to post them but I’m glad to have them. Maybe tomorrow I will be able to convince Jake to get in one. Crossing fingers!

Week In the Life, Day 1

(I’ve slipped a little bit in my blogging. This is because there is a blog post my spirit wants me to write but which I’m not sure I should share. It’s raw and revealing and might make me look weak and foolish. Usually when this happens I just stop blogging until that feeling passes, or I just write it in my journal. But it also feels important so I’m going to write it and ponder. Instead, I decided at the very last minute to jump in on A Week in the Life. Not doing it on Instagram like all the cool kids, or at least not very much.)

Sunday, May 5, 2019:

This morning I slept in. I’ve been fighting a headache off and on all week, and on Friday afternoon I started itching like crazy. So Friday night I took two Tylenol PM (I know, I’m a heavyweight). The itching stopped but holy cow. It takes me so long to get the Benadryl out of my system. Thus the lovely sleeping in this morning!

After slathering up with sunscreen (I got so burned when we hiked last weekend) Kendell and I hit the trail. We first wanted to hike to the overlook we hiked to on Christmas weekend, but when we got to the turn off, we both felt great so we kept going. Thanks to Strava, we figured out a route to do a loop we’ve never done before, and I finally, finally made it to The Rock Pile! The rock pile 2019 05 05

I’ve seen this spot about a million times on the Instagram feeds of local trail runners and bikers. I could see it on a trail map, but I wasn’t 100% sure how to get there. But today, once we went about a mile further on this trail than we ever have, we got a little bit turned around. I wasn’t sure if we should keep going or just go back the way we’d come, so I zoomed in on the map, and there it was: The Rock Pile on a route I could understand.

I’m not going to explain how we got there, because it felt so fortuitous that it almost feels like a secret. (Even though a billion people probably know how to get there.) (And even though there are like five or six different ways to get there.) We wandered through just-blooming trees on trails that were still covered with last year’s maple leaves, down valleys and up ravines, through narrow meadows just starting to flush with wildflowers. A few deer bounded across the trail. (It was like a magical fantasy fairyland loop of a hiking trail. Plus I finally bought some more pink lemonade Zipp Fizz which is my favorite flavor and I’ve been out. It’s like a sour, pink fizzy little bit of icy-cold nirvana.) (Icy cold because yes: I carried up some ice in my Hydroflask.)

I mean, I’ve asked friends before, and they’ve all be vague. Even the hiking group I belong to on Facebook hasn’t ever posted instructions.

So maybe the first secret of The Rock Pile is to never tell anyone how to find The Rock Pile. Orem foothills timp behind me 2019 05 05

Go exploring!

After The Rock Pile, we had about three miles left to get back to the car. These miles were also magical: Another meadow, where three deer were eating until I startled them and they bounded into the trees. Higher up, as we were climbing up to the shoulder of the ridge, there were more deer in the trees, always in groups of three. Can you see the deer

(Can you see the deer?)

And then, when we got to the other side of the ridge, we discovered that a huge storm was blowing up over the lake. Behind us, to the east, blue, placid skies over Cascade; in front of us, grey squalls and the rain already falling on the far shore. The wind kicked up and a little bit of rain started to fall. Which maybe seems miserable but it wasn’t. It was just enough to cool us off.

The only thing that made this hike not perfect was this: I forgot my hiking poles. And just a little bit less than two miles away from the car, we hit the steep spot. About a half mile of sheer, rocky, dirty steep trail. When I hiked up it I thought “this is going to be hard to come down” and I was right. I haven’t hiked without my hiking poles since I injured my knee back in August, and while I am OK on gradual steepness without poles, I am not, I learned today, OK on steep-steep steepness. It was like being shocked on the side of my knee. I was so glad I had my knee compression sleeve in my pack. It helped me get down off the mountain.

But I won’t forget my poles again!

As we drove home we talked about how hungry we were, and what sounded good for dinner. I decided I wanted to try a new recipe, which means I needed some hamburger, so, yes: not only did I hike on Sunday, I ran into the grocery store. Which I only mention because I loved the cashier. She said “I need to tell you something that might sound weird, but I think you look beautiful,” and I said, “oh, ummm, wow, I look hot and sweaty” and she said “you look like you’ve been out running and you just look so happy” and instead of rejecting her compliment I said “Oh, thank you, I really appreciate that!” And I wanted to remember that because it felt like a moment of grace.

For dinner I made this chili mac soup from my friend Red Molly’s old blog. I loved it, Kendell and Kaleb not so much.

Kaleb came and talked to me for awhile after dinner. I like him so much right now. Once I can dig him out a little bit, he tells me the best things. I mean…I want to gush and say how cute he is, and how cute his strong calves are, and how cute his tallness is, but I just keep it to myself because I know it would annoy him, and I just want him to keep talking to me.

Tonight, that storm that was building over the lake finally broke. It poured. So, in keeping with my “savor spring” goal, I went into my crafty room, opened the window and the blinds, and worked on my cutting project while I listened to the rain. Kendell was a bit annoyed with that, as he thinks that “rain listening” is kind of a waste of time. But, really: rain is my favorite, and this spring aside, we don’t get a lot of rain in Utah. So when it falls, I always appreciate it.

And that, friends, is my first day of A Week in the Life.

My goal tomorrow: Take some pictures!

Are you doing WITL? Link me up if you are, I’d love to read it!