August 24, 2015

It is Written: August 24, 2015

So one of the things that happens in Court (when you’re having a Settlement Conference, which is off the record) is that the Judge (or one of the lawyers) ends the day by droning on reading what the parties have agreed to into the record.  Today, while the other side’s lawyer rambled ad nauseum carefully outlined our agreement, my client (who was sitting beside me) hand wrote me a note (in cursive, no less, with an honest-to-goodness pen).  I mention this because it is effusive and I’m full of myself and is, therefore, likely something I would have hung onto in the past.

(Also I wanted to write a really long sentence with lots of interjections.)

Over the past many months, I have found countless overly praising notes from former students. I like to imagine it’s because I’m just that awesome, but I know it’s because my students or clients are just overcome in a moment.  And that is exactly why those notes are worth reading, in that moment, and even showing them off…for a brief period of time…but it’s not terribly useful to hang onto such things.

They represent moments in time and usually little else.   They are from students to teachers, clients to lawyers. Not from someone with whom I have a personal relationship and who sees me as me and not as someone who is fulfilling a particular role at that point in their lives.

To be fair, I’ve also unearthed hateful notes I’ve gotten, including various creative interpretations of my last name, and it’s harder to remember that those, too, signify little more than a moment in time in which we both were embodying roles.

It’s not about me.

I’m going to treat today’s note as the ephemera it is.  But first I’m going to show everyone I can think of just so they can bask in my reflected glory for a couple of seconds.

You’re welcome.

Day 297 scorecard: 1485 down, 340 to go

August 23, 2015

All the Sacrificing: August 23, 2015

I am embodying minimalism in a hotel room.  If you can say that when I arrived with one suitcase, a lap top, a briefcase, 2 grocery bags, and my purse.

To be fair, I’m here (in Cape Breton) for work, and I needed all that stuff.  Well, most of it.

It’s amazing when all the distractions are eliminated.  I eliminated everything including the guilt I feel when I shut myself off to do work when I could/should be doing something else.  Tonight, it’s just me in a hotel room, with my computer, and I worked like a maniac.  A happy maniac, but a maniac nonetheless.

Mike and Solomon, who are pining away at home, got 5Down together for me.  Clara and Max are at sleepovers.

Solomon, pictured, pining away.

Solomon, pictured here, pining away.  I’m processing my crushing guilt.

Day 296 scorecard: 1480 down, 345 to go

 

August 22, 2014

Overthinking/Underthinking: August 22, 2015

I am going to share with you the most frustrating part of legal research.  It’s the part where something is so obvious that no one bothers to comment on it.  Of course, “no one” is exactly the kind of absolutist statement that Judges hate so much.  It’s also like waving a red flag in front of me.  “By gum,” I think “if it exists, I will find it.”

And many wasted hours roll by whilst I hunt for that perfect, juicy tidbit.

It is also reminiscent of the conversations I often have when Clara finds 5Down things.  As much as she clings to every scrap of paper, every form of packaging, and every worn out/stained/broken toy that comes into contact with her little fingers, she is equally discerning when it comes to what she’d like to 5Down.

Example: this evening she marches upstairs, simultaneously happy to turf out a doll (which would, without a doubt, provoke tears tomorrow) and devastated (in actual tears) that Solomon wants to eliminate a goofy gag toy from a couple of years ago and which she has neither laid eyes on nor played with in many, many months.

But back to the doll.

Me, “Clara, do you really want to get rid of that doll?”

Clara, “Oh yes!” [enthusiastically]

Me, “Why?  Didn’t you just get it?”

Clara, “Oh, it was a long time ago, like [fading] um, maybe last year? And her hair is full of garbage [more fading] and knots…actually…[looking totally lost at this point] maybe just a few knots…”

Me, “Clara, you don’t need to get rid of a dolly you still love!”

Clara, “Okay!!!” [skips happily off downstairs in search of something she’s actually tired of.]*

We’re here all night, folks.

I guess the moral of the story is that wasting too much time searching for the perfect thing is, actually, a waste of time…but choosing something too quickly can have an equally bad (or even worse) outcome.  As with many things in life, the key is learning the concept of ENOUGH.

 

Solomon, demonstrating his carefully sought and violently destroyed 5Down object.  Goofball!

Solomon, demonstrating his carefully sought and violently destroyed 5Down object. Goofball! “I punched it until I made a hole, and then I shoved my head through!”

 

But I still really want that one perfect snapper.  Surely it’s out there?

Day 295 scorecard: 1475 down, 350 to go

* for the record, she found an “inappropriate comic book.”  It really was, too.  Mike took the kids out to ‘free comic book day’ last year and Clara was given some “girl friendly” comic books that were wildly inappropriate.  I confiscated them (Mike hadn’t flipped through them, apparently) and put them on a shelf…because I couldn’t have just thrown them out then, apparently.  Great find, Clara.

August 21, 2015

Running Buddy Joy: August 21, 2015

High standards are a terrible thing.  Seriously.  I always want to be perfect at my job, at my marriage, at my parenting, and at my exercise.  My running buddy, whom I last wrote about when it seemed she was sidelined for the season, is back in action and better than ever*.  See, while I despondently dropped down to the bare minimum, she put herself through the paces: swimming, weight-lifting, and just generally “having at” life. Now she’s back and better than ever.  And me, well, I’m just a sad sack of whiny slowness.

So, I’ve promised I’ll join her swimming tomorrow.  I mean, how can I argue with the proof?  I might have high standards for myself, but when I come up against someone with even higher standards, I either go in or go home, right?

At least it will be actual swimming, unlike our run tonight which was virtual swimming.  I’ve done my best to not whine about the incredible heat and humidity we’ve had these past couple of weeks, but I’m telling you I was awash after tonight’s run.  My eyes were burning so fiercely I couldn’t keep them open.  What kind of stupid climate is this, anyway?

Tomorrow, early in the morning, I’ll be 5Downing my hang-ups AND my excuses.  To the pool!!!

Day 294 scorecard: 1470 down, 355 to go

* it’s also been hard to run whilst chortling with glee that she’s back!!!

August 20, 2015

Shipping: August 20, 2015

I just had a most lovely visit with a sweet friend who has made a massive decision.  After many years abroad, she is moving home.   There is a lot of paperwork involved and a LOT of purging.  She’s needing to sort out what she can’t (or doesn’t want to) live without.  All of her “joy sparking” stuff needs to fit into half a container so it can cruise across the ocean.  We were both chuckling about how each of us moved away (me, only to Montreal) with one bag but each of us needed to arrange shipping (she, literally) for our belongings on the way back.

I think I’m going to try thinking about each of my things as “would I ship this across the ocean?” to decide whether it’s worth hanging onto.

My friend tells me that some people say they’d just leave everything and buy new stuff.  I wonder, though.  I wonder how many people would seriously just walk away from everything they’d collected and cherished for (in her case) the past 18 years.  We talked about how it’s often not even the things of monetary value people are so devastated by when disaster comes to their house in the form of flood or fire.  It’s hard to imagine most of us could willingly just part with everything. Sure, stuff is “just” stuff, but once you sort out all the things you can live without, things remain that you want to own, that you’re proud to own, that are part of who you are.  It’s not easy to figure out which things are those things, let alone deciding to part with any of them.  It takes far more courage to go through all your worldly possessions and ask those hard questions.

For me it’s just a thought exercise, but for her it is a very real experience with all its difficult choices and necessary limitations.  For her also, though, it’s getting rid of the burdens and embracing expansion into a wonderful new adventure.

She is brave!

Day 293 scorecard: 1465 down, 360 to go

August 19, 2015

Gobbling: August 19, 2015

Mike was good enough to help out tonight, so thank you Mike.

I’ve been thinking about accumulation and how silly humans are.  There seems to be something innate that prevents us from being satisfied.  This can be a wonderful attribute, letting us accomplish more all the time, but it’s also our downfall.  We consume and consume and consume.

People often talk about how children are unspoiled and how, left to their own devices, children would make good choices.  This is frequently said regarding food.  I don’t believe it.

When I was a little kid we had a potluck (as we often did, and often do).  There were hard boiled eggs and I had one and loved it.  My mother was always pretty attentive, but I can distinctly remember her saying I could eat as many as I wanted that evening.  In retrospect, I was probably driving her bananas and she probably said it to get me to leave her alone.

Well, I did eat as many as I wanted.  It turns out I wanted many, many hard boiled eggs.  I don’t remember how many, but it was a lot.

My greedy brain and my unimpressed digestive system battled it out and the digestive system ultimately won.  I was very, very ill.  To this day I cannot abide hard boiled eggs.

The thing is: I’m not unique.  Almost everyone I know has “overdone” it with some kind of food.  Many people do it frequently.  It’s incredible, when I stop and think about it.

I think the same applies with stuff.  We gobble and gobble and gobble up everything around us until we make our homes uncomfortable and cluttered. And we’re making our planet sick to its stomach.

Ugh.

Don’t think I think I’m any better than anyone else.  I want stuff all the time.  But I’m trying my best to resist whenever I can.

Day 292 scorecard: 1460 down, 365 to go

August 18, 2015

The Fabric: August 18, 2015

Fabric, I think, is one of the hardest things to let go.  It’s so full of potential.

It’s the too-big-to-throw-away bits from that lovely project you made that the kids wore to death and now you’re sick of looking at but it’s such great fabric.

It’s the piece that has never quite seemed to fit with any project but you got it for dirt cheap and now it’s starting to look at you reproachfully.

It’s the bits of a giant find at a used clothing store that you’ve used on about a million things and it never seems to get any smaller.

But then there are the terrible bits.

See, right before we had our big flood, I had decided to make Clara a beautiful coat.  I bought absolutely gorgeous fabric and beautiful notions.*  I carefully (obsessively carefully) cut out the pieces.  I had begun piecing it together and then everything fell apart.  We were in chaos for months.  In the back of my mind, I knew that the coat was meant to be for that fall season.  It was already pushing the season because I’d been so slow-going with the project.  It was not going to fit her by the next year.  But it had been crammed into the bottom of a box.

That was almost 2 years ago now.  It ripped a piece of my heart out to see that project all bundled up together.  All that wasted money.  But, more importantly, that project I had meant to do for her so she could have a lovingly crafted one-of-a-kind coat made especially for her.  And now it would be too little if I were to pull it out and finish it.

There is also a dress that is cut out and would have fit her 2 years ago.

It’s such a visceral reminder of my baby growing up, I can hardly stand it.

In case you’re champing at the bit to get your hands on these bags of fabric, I have to tell you I’ve already found them a home.  My cousin is a remarkable seamstress who makes incredible MONsters from interesting fabrics.  IF she wants, she can finish the coat and the dress and give them to someone who can use them.  Or she could sell them.  Or not.  I just really can’t face them anymore.

The happy ending to this story, though, is that I really did just keep the fabric that fits one of two criterion.  Either it:

is something I will 100% certainly use

or

is something I absolutely adore.

Now I’ll be able to find those things more quickly.  Now I’ll be able to face my sewing machine again.  Maybe I’ll even go on one of my sewing binges, like the year I made about 10 messenger bags:

I made the bags for Max and Solomon one year, then two years later I made one for Clara.  They have been used at least weekly and often daily ever since.  They are scaled down from the adult version.

I made the bags for Max and Solomon one year, then two years later I made one for Clara. They have been used at least weekly and often daily ever since. They are scaled down from the adult version.

or the year I made Clara about 3 dresses (one with matching bloomers):

Facebook tells me this was 4 years ago.  Sweet Clarabelle was only 3!  She wore this dress and shorts many, many times.

Facebook tells me this was 4 years ago. Sweet Clarabelle was only 3! *sob* She wore this dress and shorts many, many times.

I might even finish a bag project I’ve cut out pieces for.  That one doesn’t hurt so much.

Day 291 scorecard: 1455 down, 370 to go

* Notions, if you’re wondering, are things like trim and buttons and zippers.  All the embellishments.  At least, that’s what I’ve always called notions, now that I’ve defined it, I feel compelled to go check the Internet for verification.  Ah, here we go: small, useful things used in sewing.  Phew.