Seven feet of invisible snow in New England

The snow was so high and stiffly packed that winter; it was impossible to trudge home from the train without collecting snowflake souvenirs in my boots every night. It was my first full year of living in Boston and the winter was kicking my tail. The sun was still setting at some obscenely early hour, and I was a desk jockey pulling long hours for little pay, so I basically never saw the sun or my boyfriend or my friends. Color me depressed.

I remember looking up and seeing a sign posted on a telephone pole that someone had Sharpied in black:

I’LL PAY YOU $10 TO DIG OUT MY CAR

I remember thinking how much would be reasonable to charge for someone to dig me out of my McJob life, to be perfectly dramatic.

***
My Boston comrades are still digging out of seven feet of snow. As is their trolley/subway system. New Englanders are bandying about phrases like “ice dam” which should only ever refer to a slip-n’-slide for penguins in the Arctic Circle. Their cabin fevers are spiking to epic highs. I mean–have you SEEN it up there? The whole situation is terribly unfair.

***
We agree, you and I, don’t we? That the Nor-easters that keep dumping more snow on an already bewildered geography really smack of injustice and horror? We see the pictures of (or we experience firsthand) the shoveling and the roof-clearing and the endless headaches of commuting and we all are very much of one accord: That’s painful stuff. Nobody deserves that. I’m really sorry.

I’m guessing that neighborliness increases in these times, too. There’s a sort of camaraderie to picking up the shovels and knowing we’re all in this Us v. Winter thing together.

But we all know that eventually winter ends. The snow melts. The swan boats emerge in the Public Gardens once more. The solution to the winter problem is the reliability of the earth orbiting as it should around the sun.

***
I have to remind myself that the private pains people carry are very much like the seven feet of snow, only invisible. I have friends dealing with diabetes, cancer, the grief of losing a parent. I have students who are hungry, lonely, hyper-anxious. My husband treats clients whose secrets could ruin lives–are ruining lives. They are buried under heavy blankets of snow. The meteorologists can’t forecast what’s ahead. They are not sure when this winter will end.

***

I’ve lived through my share of winters, literal and figurative, and the invisible winters are always harder to weather.  Friends, if you need someone to help you dig out, I hope someone you trust can be there. If you call me, I’ll probably send you links to cat videos on Youtube, but at least you’ll know you are loved and you can keep the $10.

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5 things the #H20challenge taught me

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1. I strived to drink 70 oz. of water every day for 30 days, eliminating caffeine and soda. It turns out that 70 oz. is totally possible and once I started drinking more water, I wanted more water.

2. I have the power to break my addiction from caffeine. I have never gone more than a 14 days without caffeine since at least 2007, maybe earlier. The first 2 weeks were most difficult (see also: headaches like woah, moody pants all day, foggy brain) but the more water I drank, the better I felt. Coffee is now something I can enjoy but don’t need. Woop.

3. I started this because I have never been a good sleeper and my iron is often low and it turns out, less caffeine, more protein can remedy a whole bunch of maladies in my life. Funny thing, that. Fringe benefits: leaner waistline, no coffee spills on my clothes.

4. Accountability is so clutch. All my peeps who joined me chugging the h20–you made the difference. I didn’t want to fall off the wagon because I knew you were cheering for me or running the race with me.

5. I think the dark circles under my eyes faded a bit, don’t you? Please just nod your head and hand me that latte, won’t you?

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On contradictions and bob haircuts

I am more than mid-way through my fourth year of teaching at Small Christian University in the South. In other 4 year installments in life, like high school for example, this would be the time when one would be getting fitted for a gown, sizing up the graduation platform, making plans for the next chapter.

For me, I feel as though I am just getting started. Year four has been very self-actualizing. I am better at teaching what I have to teach. I am better at anticipating questions about what I teach. I am better at knowing what I don’t know about what I teach.

Let me tell you the cool part about improvement: once you’ve improved to a certain degree, you feel like the thing you’re doing is something new. Because it is. In the past, you were doing that other thing, the mediocre thing, the thing that made you feel all bummy and ill-equipped and now you are doing it better which actually changes how you approach, tackle, reflect on that thing. Life is new even though it is basically the same. Except you sleep better and don’t dread everything and you can eat food without having acid reflux and you don’t feel on the brink of tears all the time.

God is pouring a new formula into me. The bottle is better, stronger. The ingredients are of higher quality because they’ve been distilled longer. The label still says Kendra’s Jam. But to me it tastes new and improved.

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In some ways, I am hitting my Finally Stride. Lovey and I can finally go on dates and Little Man does not go mental and thrash about and punish us for days when we leave him with another benign person. I am finally finding a rhythm at work where I can feel good about the work completed and the work yet to complete. We are finally making a dent in our loans. I am finally reading Wild.

Yet, I am also fully aware of how much finality there is in finally. We got Baby Girl’s hair cut the other day. “How are we cutting it, Mom?” asked the hairdresser. She asked how we’re cutting it, like it was a joint effort, her sheers and my master vision. I realized how this might be one of the final times I have any say-so in that cute little bob.

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I realize that in general, we are shifting altogether too rapidly from the phase of dimpled elbows and slurred letters to the full-on independent child phase. It comes in waves, noticing suddenly that their play has become more sophisticated, their desires are more long-term rather than immediate, their cares are no longer whether they got the last pack of fruit snacks but more whether or not their friend who is moving to Arizona will remember them. There is finality in their own little child infinities. Their little ends become our endings, too.

But then there are the whole new epochs of their growing up — the fun and fish ownership and new favorite things. It is all so fleeting and yet it is all so rich. How can something, this parenthood business, be all so ephemeral and yet all so meaningful? Why are the days long and the years fast?

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God, so infinite and so lofty, still continues to make all things new. He makes it all good and perfect in seven days and we burn it and hoard it and waste it and still–He makes all things new. He is in the contradictions. Alpha-ing and Omega-ing all over our final finallies. He lives and works in this busted vessel and calls it a new thing.

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