Sunday, October 31, 2004

Missing in Inaction

I recently colored my hair, and I don't like it. I keep trying new things with it, hoping that the right style or accessory will make it better, but there it is, still looking marginally ugly. So today I had the bright idea that maybe it was my pasty complexion that was actually the problem. After all, summer's golden glow has long faded into pasty pale and the new hair color only enhances that. In an attempt to give back some of that which I had lost with the onset of fall and fewer miles logged outdoors in the daylight, I decided that make-up was the way to go. I went to the bathroom to get out my make-up bag wasn't there. So I checked the bedroom, thinking that maybe I'd carried it in there and set it somewhere strange. Still no luck. I checked my overnight bags. Nothing there either. So I began to think back to the last time I'd used it, to where I had been the last time I smoothed on foundation and swept blush across my cheeks. I retraced my steps and found it exactly where I'd left it: in the back of my station wagon, where it had been tossed when I was playing Designated Drivers 'R' Us.

After the class reunion.

On October 2nd.

Make-up lovers, take a deep breath. I went nearly a month without make-up and I STILL LIVED.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The Problem With Voting This Year... that I'm afraid I can't do it. Can't punch the little tab through that denotes I've chosen to side with this presidential candidate or that one. I thought I'd made up my mind a long time ago. Then I thought I'd made it up again, and then I realized that it is far from made up and the election is only four short days away. I keep reading things that break my heart, and I mull over the likely future transgressions of each man, and I can't see myself standing there and punching through that little spot of paper, thereby saying, "What this man does will be okay with me."

Right now I'm thinking that it might be all right to just punch out the holes I'm sure of and walk away from the rest. It just might be all right.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Proud Moments

This little boy got three shots and blood drawn today and he didn't cry or whine once. He sat on the fuschia vinyl chair next to my blue one and held my hand and talked about his Halloween costume and acted like everything was fine. When we got to the car he asked, "Mary, was I very brave to get all those shots and not cry?"

And of course, because it is true, I said yes.

Yes, Jack, you most definitely were. That is so rock-n-roll of you. Now let's go put some gel in your hair.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I Don't Heart I Heart Huckabees

Does anyone? If you have seen this movie and loved or even liked or even half liked it, would you please explain why? I'm wondering if I'm not philosophical enough or hip enough or I have a poor sense of humor. I went in expecting something clever and enjoyable and left quite disappointed. Please tell me something to redeem the $5.50 and two hours I spent fighting the urge to check my watch.

Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Pajama Day

I spent most of my day in my pajamas. Except for the unfortunate experience in the park (mentioned below) and the usual drop off and pick up of my young charges at school, I slept most of the day away. Honestly, I had no idea that I needed that much sleep. I kept looking at the clock and thinking, "Why am I not ready to get up?" After which I would promptly go back to sleep.

I suppose I just needed a rest--in the mental and emotional sense as well as in the physical sense. There's been a lot going on in life and in my mind and heart as well, so the past few weeks have been a little taxing. Add to that the fact that I haven't had my usual Sunday pajamafests for the last few weeks and you have one tired Mary on your hands.

But not too tired to make you a little photo album documenting one of the activities that has kept me busy these past weekends. My dad's side of the family spends a weekend every couple of years making apple butter outside in a copper kettle. We use the same copper kettle that my great-grandparents used, and the hope is that the tradition will continue generation after generation. Not only our hope as a family, but the hope of all our friends and neighbors, who have gotten a little too grabby with the apple butter over the years. Calm down, people. We'll make more.

And you'll get yours, too, if you ask nicely enough. In the meantime, just enjoy the photos.

Don't You Dare

At the park where I run, a lot of homeless folks hang out. Usually they are kind. I know some of them either by face or by dog companion. A few of them say hello to me every time they see me, and sometimes add things like, "Don't mess with her." I like them. I always try to smile and say hello back to them or tell them to have a good day when I'm on my last lap.

So today I was coming down the trail and I came face to face with an older homeless man that I didn't recall seeing before. I smiled hello and he responded by yelling, "How do you mother-f-ers run around and around this mother-f-ing place every day. You're just mother-f-ing rich and you don't have anything better to do." I was a bit stunned, but still willing to brush it off. I could understand why he would think I was rich. By some standards, I am. I could understand his confusion at some of us running one mile loops over and over again day after day. It does seem a little ridiculous. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, to offer compassion. But then he dropped this gem:

"I'm gonna rape you and then you'll see what happens."

And that is where he crossed the line. Obviously. The moment he said it, it was as if someone flipped my inner switch from caring to outrage. Because that is something you just don't threaten. Mister, you can be as angry at me as you want because of what you have assumed about me. You can say whatever you want about my economic status or my running habits. But so much as make a move towards fulfilling that last threat, and fists will fly. I'll be dragging your bleeding self across the street to the hospital before you can count to twenty.

Don't. Cross. That. Line.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

When I Have Nothing To Say

Sometimes I find that what someone else has to say speaks for me. Here's a little something I'm thinking about that Rilke thought about--and wrote about, beautifully--first.

"If only for once it were still.
If the not quite right and the why this
could be muted, and the neighbor's laughter,
and the static my senses make--
if all of it didn't keep me from coming awake--

Then in one vast thousandfold thought
I could think you up to where thinking ends.

I could possess you,
even for the brevity of a smile,
to offer you
to all that lives,
in gladness"

Friday, October 15, 2004

How About We Go Here

a room at hotel astrid
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
Looks nice, doesn't it? You have to pay for the hot water in the shower and share the bathroom, in fact, with the other occupants of this second floor one star hotel, but the owners at Hotel Astrid are lovely people and the rooms...well, the rooms look like this. It's good enough for me, that's for sure.

Any day of the week. Let's go.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


As a runner, I am not the fastest. One might venture to say that, as a first time runner at 26, I came a little late to the game. Too late to hope to excel enough to win anything. So I have convinced myself that it's not being first that matters. It's not even being second or third. It's about doing my best and finishing strong and continuing to develop my abilities and enjoy myself. I am not an incredibly competitive person, so it doesn't really concern me that people pass me. I pass some people, too. It's no big deal.

Except that honestly, that's a load of crap. Secretly, I long to win. I want the trophy. I crave the recognition. As much as I try to push that down and let it go, eventually it surfaces. Whether I whine because I lose a board game or I find myself trying to pass the guy who's racing in khakis with a belt, my inner competitor is always trying to get in there and get the job done.

So this morning I was running at Mill Creek Park, just relaxing through my six easy miles. After the first couple of miles, I noticed that another runner and I kept passing each other at the ends of the loops and on the crossover of the figure eight path. We were holding the same pace. Since he was a man and men naturally run faster than women, I was feeling pretty good about myself. And yet...I kind of wanted to get ahead of him. So I picked it up a tiny bit. Just enough to get to the crossover a little ahead and to reach the tip of each loop first. By mile six, I was a getting a litte worn out. I decided to settle for finishing even and held a constant pace. I rounded the last end loop and...he wasn't there to pass me. At the crossover, he didn't appear. He had gone home before me.

You know what that means, don't you?

It means I totally won.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

Saturday Morning Thoughts

Not too long ago, Tim recommended subscribing to the Bruderhof Daily Dig, a service that sends an inspirational quote to your inbox every day. I'm not always much for adding to my daily e-mail if it's not personal mail, but the quotes I read seemed so thought-provoking that I couldn't resist. I have enjoyed those quotes every day since.

Beneath each quote there is also a link to a related article; as much as I've wanted to peruse them, I haven't usually had the time. Today, however, I was faced with a massive amount of free time. What better thing to do, I thought, than read? I started with some of those linked articles. I only made it to the second one before my eyes got a little wet. You can read it for yourself here if you've got the time. The following is what I pulled from it and the thoughts that followed.

Danusha Veronica Goska writes, "The problem is not that we have so little power. The problem is that we don't use the power that we have."

She is speaking of the power to affect our world in a positive way, to change things. So many people think that in order to change the world, we must do something huge and impressive. It must take lots of time and involve travel to the nether-regions of the world. We must sacrifice everything. If we are unable to do that, we can't do anything. The thing is, that's just not true.

I have long been a proponent of affecting one small thing or person at a time. I know that I cannot do much towards solving the world's largest problems. I'm not an international figure; I don't affect foreign policy. But I can stop by and say hello to someone who is lonely. I can buy a strung out prostitute some lunch and shake her hand and remember her name the next day. I can hold open a door for a mom pushing a heavy stroller. I can let that same mom cut ahead of me in line so she can get her screaming infant out of the store a little more quickly. I can give someone directions in the pouring rain and smile and not be rushed to get indoors. These things don't matter much on a world or national or community or even a neighborhood level. But they matter on a personal level, which is, if you think about it, the most important level of all.

This morning I am sitting here looking at a photo of Mary Liz that I have scotch-taped to my office wall. In it, she displays a look of perfect concentration. She is listening to her favorite song. It is a sweet reminder to me every day of one thing I have given to the world which no one really notices, which no one needs to enjoy but her. I gave a little girl her favorite song. That may not be anything that affects anyone else, and it may never come up in conversation. It is nothing to boast about. She may forget these days as her future widens, but for now, for this one day, she can use this little gift and get that look on her face that says so much more than her faltering three-year-old words ever could. When I look at her, I think, "I have changed the world." And even if no one was looking, even if they never look, this snapshot of her contentment is all I need as a reminder of what life is supposed to look like when we live it right. When we give it right.

It only takes one small kindness to remind someone that the world can be an okay place. I know it's been true for me, and some of you who have served me in this way probably have no idea the impact you have had. How your small kindnesses have made me into the person I am now, which is more confident and grateful and genuine than I've ever allowed myself to be. And it's all because of those small things which have added up to quite a lot. Today you are changing your world in small ways that will appear in looks of perfect concentration, in smiles of recognition, in someone going home grateful for your help. You can do anything, you know. You can change your world.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Again With The Shoes

shoe party
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
After calling attention to the fact that I leave my shoes everywhere in the house without respect for convenience or neatness, I thought I should also divulge what it looks like when a lot of them get together. I don't plan this; sometimes it just happens.

They're still not put away, but at least they're centrally located.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Just So You Know How High My Current Level Of Dorknicity Is

So I went over to my blog today to respond to comments and I did three and called it quits. I checked on a couple of other blogs and then decided that, even though I had just checked my e-mail, I'd do one last quick check before heading downstairs to catch my afternoon nap. I sign in and it says I have three new messages, which makes me excited because I'm thinking, "Wow! I'm loved! Three new messages in such a short time and they're not even in the spam box!" But guess what those messages were? (If you know about blogger comment notification you've probably figured this out already.) They were notification of my three comments that I had just made on my blog. I had gotten all excited about mail I had generated myself and forgotten about. Nice, yes?

Is it naptime or what?

See those shoes under the makeshift desk?

my office.JPG
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
That's how I know this is my office. Without shoes everywhere, I'm not sure any place is mine. As much as I try to remember to put them away, there is always a pair of shoes strewn haphazardly somewhere in my space.

So welcome to my office. Put your shoes anywhere you like.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Ten Years And Counting

Every time I talked about my impending high school reunion, my mom would chuckle a little bit. Sometimes she outright laughed. Every time I played my part and said, "What?" As if I didn't know that it was a little strange that I was on the reunion committee. High school, as my mom reminds me (and I remember well), wasn't exactly my thing. Not that it was fraught with suffering by any means, but it was just a hat that never quite fit right. I had friends, sure, good ones. I did some really wonderful things. But the whole time I was there, what I was really waiting for was for it to be over. In my mind, high school was just another item to be checked off of a list of formalities necessary for me to get out there and live my own adventure.

So it was a surprise, to be sure, to me, too, that I was not only on the 10 year reunion committee, but that I enjoyed being a part of it. We put together an event that was by no means impressive, but that got the job done. I got to know and enjoy a couple of people who have grown up into really wonderful folks. I was thanked over and over again by the committee head, but truly the pleasure was equally mine.

The reunion itself went as I suspect most small town high school reunions go. It was anticlimactic and I was not surprised. Because I felt it necessary to grab Starbucks on the way, I missed my chance to run through the halls of my high school or scream at the top of my lungs or bust down those many sets of double doors. In fact, I wandered in for the high school tour just in time to discover that not only do they now offer the ACT right there in a little room in the new wing, but they can get a satellite feed and speak to NASA as well. (Was I totally deprived of a quality education or what?) Much has changed, but many things (like the aroma of the auditorium and the water fountain next to the art room) remain the same. As is the case with my classmates.

We continued our day at a noontime picnic in the park. Everyone arrived with kids and spouses if they had them and we all chatted and munched together. It was sunny and cool and relaxed. To say more about it would ruin the moment, so I'll just leave it at that and call it the best part of the day.

Late afternoon found the committee setting up the community building for the dinner event. The DJ loaded in his gear while we all changed into less casual attire and then the people and their BYOB appropriate coolers arrived. I'd venture to guess that more than half the attendees were completely sauced before dinner even arrived. Dinner was served, the DJ cranked up some 1990s special for us, one danced. Well, scratch that. Three of us, all committee members, and who would possibly have been voted Least Likely To Dance Wildy While Mostly Alone On A Community Center Dance Floor in high school, did, in fact, get out and bust a move to try to get things started. It didn't work. We retreated to the side of the room (still busting a move, thank you very much) and shrugged our shoulders at one another. It was nearly time to clean it up and move the party on anyway. As a last ditch effort to get my groove on and have others join me, I hosted a private dance party in the kitchen when Billy Jean came on. I mean, seriously kids, who doesn't dance to Billy Jean? Who? OHS Class of 1994, that's who.

By the end of the night I was exhausted, my feet were sore, and all I wanted was to slip into some pajamas and curl up tight in bed. After dropping off a carload of inebriated alumni (Designated Drivers 'R' Us) at the next stop, I drove home all too slowly, a little melancholy, and not sure exactly why. I dragged my bag upstairs, stumbled into some pajamas, and did the best curling up tight I could manage before I dropped off to sleep.

I'm so glad that's over.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Of Home Haircuts and Wiggly Children

This morning I asked the kids' mom if I could attempt to give Mary Liz a haircut. Sensing a great bargain (FREE!!!), and being a home bang-trimmer herself, she consented. By 9:30am the kitchen extension which is also my office had also a become hair salon. With a wooden chair and a phone book as the equipment. You might guess that we weren't starting off with our best foot forward. Still, I retrieved the hair scissors I'd gotten off a clearance shelf at Target, gave a lecture about how only little girls who sit still get pretty hair (which was promptly--and I mean promptly forgotten) and we got to work. There was a lot of wiggling. There were a lot of stern looks and possibly a little bit of a raised voice right about the time I nearly cut off her earlobe because she tried to jump in the chair. (She just felt like jumping, that's why. Doesn't that make good sense to everyone?) Still, it didn't turn out half bad. I'd even venture to say that it's 68% good, which is good enough for us. Both the hair and my patience are a little shorter than I'd like thanks to two major head movements during crucial moments of the haircut, but I think it will do for now.

For now. Next time we're going to a professional.