Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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Lemon Moon {Part I}

Listen to this.

Remember this.

Read this:

 

LEMON MOON

 

By Melinda Williams

 

 

 

August, 2012

JOHNNY

 

You may have grown up seeing at least one “missing person” poster taped up to a wooden pole in your hometown. Maybe you even saw multiple signs a day if you lived somewhere big like New York City or Chicago. The faces may not have meant much. They were just random faces of people you were likely to never meet, find, or care about. You might have felt a pang of regret for the ones who lost them, the ones who were still around. But if you’re from a tiny town, say, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, chances are you’ve seen maybe one. And although it felt like everyone in town knew one another, you didn’t recognize the face.

I now live in a town where half the people are missing, therefore, you get your fair share of “missing person” posters. I’ve grown accustomed to them. I pass by a picture of my second grade teacher every day on my way to the store, and inside Andy, the old guy who owns the store, has up a picture of his wife. Being a small town most everyone was married or at least had someone they loved. And half of each pair disappeared.

Did you hear me?

I said

Half of each pair disappeared. Poof. Vanished. Before eyes. All alone. Unexpectedly. Gone. Forever.

 

And now only I know why.

 

 June, 2010

 

“I’m never going to get out of here,” Anne told me. She and I were walking up the dirt road and away from school. Summer break was upon us. Next year we’d be seniors and for most kids in our town break would just keep on being reality once high school ended. What I mean is, not very many were bound for college. There was no way Anne’s parents could afford to send her anywhere. My future looked a little brighter, except for the fact that I wouldn’t go anywhere without her.

“Sure you will,” I told her, straightening out my baseball cap and running a few steps to kick a rock at the bend in the road.

“That gets dirt everywhere,” she said softly.

“You always wear sandals,” I said right back. She did. We lived in the middle of the desert and she wore open toed sandals every day. Her feet were always dirty because of it. The dust from the road really did get everywhere.

“At least my toes can be free.” Anne crossed her arms in front of her chest and said, “I’m stuck here forever.”

“Who says? Who says you can’t move anywhere you want when we graduate? You could go be a model or something.” It was true, too. Get Anne into a big city and she’d be spotted right away for her good looks, her tall and thin body.

“Oh yeah? It’s that easy? Who’s gonna pay for the car to get me down the highway? Who’s gonna pay my bus fare?”

“Save up for the next year, I guess.” I was only seventeen, just like her. I didn’t know how a kid went about moving away from home. Anne at least had some advantages. She hadn’t always lived in Truth or Consequences. She was beautiful. Her home life was awful, so she had more drive in her to get away. (I’m the guy who can turn a terrible family situation into something positive. It drives Anne crazy, but I know she secretly loves that about me.) Anne didn’t say anything in response, but bent down to pick a small dandelion growing by the side of the road. She held it and stared at it with her feet a foot apart and her head tilted to the side. Her braided hair had loose strands.

“They say these are weeds. If something so pretty can be a weed, then I guess not everything is as it seems.”

Anne often said things like this. I often didn’t respond. Not knowing what to say about dandelions, I stuffed my hands in my pockets and cleared my dry throat. “I’m cookin’ dinner tonight. Want to come over? Kick off summer with style? I bet my dad would even let us each have a beer.”

Anne looked down at the gravel getting coarser under our feet as we walked. We always walked to her house first and then I’d walk home alone. We did this almost every day of the school year since she moved to town in third grade. Her mouth formed a straight line and a strand of her long hair fell forward past her shoulders. “I don’t think I’m free,” she said.

“Oh. Well, okay.” We walked past the big cottonwood tree we’d climb back before she wore short skirts and I was too afraid to embarrass myself. “What are you doing?”

Anne looked at me. Her words were challenging. “Probably hanging out with Gavin.”

Oh, I thought, right. Gavin. Her new boyfriend or whatever he was to her. For her he was a cool older boy who paid attention to her (as if everybody didn’t already), somebody to kiss and hold hands with. For him, she was… someone that I hoped he lied about, because if the stories from the locker room after gym class were true I wouldn’t be able to look at Anne. I convinced myself it was only rumors and cocky Gavin lying through his teeth. If she was capable of doing what he spoke of so often, I sure as hell wanted it to be with me. Anne and I were meant to be. Best friends since third grade. High school sweethearts who had never really been sweet… just there for one another. I was patient in allowing Anne the time for her love to be realized and blossom the way mine already had. Gavin was the only thing in my way.

“Alright.” I kicked another rock.

“If that’s okay with you,” she added, not hiding her annoyance. I hadn’t done a single thing.

“Of course it is,” I said in that calm way I learned from my dad. Never raised my voice. Never showed a temper, if I even had one. If something bothered me no one would ever know but me.

“Maybe another night,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.

“Right. I cook dinner all the time,” I reminded her.

“Right.” Sometimes, although having known each other for nine years, we sounded like acquaintances. We sounded like we had just met.

“See ya, Johnny,” Anne said as she waved to me and her long tan legs walked her up the dirt driveway.

“Bye,” I said. I watched her unlock her front door. I always made sure she got inside before walking away.

Then I headed home by myself. I took the long way. My parents weren’t actually expecting me to cook that night. I would have done it only if Anne had come over. I walked through an old abandoned field, past an ancient adobe house long ago left vacant, and back to the tree by the road that we used to climb. I looked around to make sure I was alone and I put my hands on the lowest branch. I used to give Anne a boost with my hands and then jump up to grab hold. We’d both grown a lot. Anne, more than the average girl, and me, about average. But at least I was tall enough to reach without hardly raising my arms. And up I went, stepping on the sturdiest branches, passing through the thickest part that I was still skinny enough to squeeze through, and eventually perching myself on a high branch. I left my backpack at the bottom of the tree. I didn’t have a book or anything to write with. All I had was my own thoughts and they were enough.

I wished that day that she had chosen me over him. I’d have still helped her climb the tree. Even if she went ahead of me with her short skirt on, I’d never look too closely or try anything. I just wanted to spend time, maybe hold her hand. Maybe even kiss her. And before anyone goes thinking I’m not a regular teenage guy who wants sex all the time, don’t get me wrong. I had my own magazines stashed under my bed and my favorite page had Anne’s long lost twin on it.

The only problem was I would never have the guts to try anything with her. So in order to feel better about the sex I’d probably never have with Anne, I was content with hoping for something as simple as time spent. All those other things would come later once she realized the whole us being meant to be thing.

 

 

Part II coming soon…..

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I Love Magic

I’ve never written two blogs in one day, but I just finished a book and I HAVE TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT!!

It’s called The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

{I’m surprised I could even take time to write this, rather then start the second book, The Magician King.}

I am one of those folks who loves Harry Potter. (I always, always, accidentally type “Harry Pottery” and have to delete the y. Why?) I get lost in the world of magic, usually convince myself at least a few times that magic has to be real, right?, and then stumble back into the real world like everyone else. I’ve read the entire HP series about seven times. Which is why I was a little bit skeptical when Greg told me I had to read The Magicians. You see, Greg has never read Harry Potter. Ever! Can you believe it? He says he will.

Anyway.

Greg read both The Magicians and The Magician King within three weeks. That is rare. He said he loved them, Quentin is a star of a main character, and that I really should read it. I didn’t want to. This one actually had a cool cover, so I wasn’t judging a book by its cover (thank goodness.)

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Highly recommended by Lou

Also- doesn’t the tree in my own backyard kind of resemble the one in the cover?

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I thought so…

I was, however, judging a book based on a different book. I should never do that, either. I pre-judged The Magicians, thinking it couldn’t live up to Harry Potter(y) expectation and I might as well quit while I’m ahead. Ho, ho, ho. This book is NOTHING like Harry Potter.

Yes, they are magicians. They do not call themselves wizards.

Yes, they go to school. But this is college, complete with cuss words, sexual relations, and gruesome deaths/injuries that we didn’t see until the seventh book of HP.

Yes, the main character is a slightly lanky, kind of depressed boy who can’t find happiness. But he isn’t Harry. Not even close. Quentin has a harder time being a hero, doesn’t always manage it, and nothing seems to end well.

If you were a kid who loved The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, you will also have an extra heart for this book. Quentin grew up reading a series of books about little kids who travel through a grandfather clock and wind up in a magical place called Fillery. Well, Fillery has more up its sleeves than staying tucked away in Quentin’s childhood. That’s all I’ll say about that.

There are so many surprises, so many character returns, so many plot twists, that it was hard to keep up with this book. If I hadn’t read it within four days I would have been lost. The 402 pages encompass approximately 6 years of time. The first half is four years of school. At first I thought it was a bit choppy, a bit sterile. I thought I wouldn’t really care about the characters because I didn’t know them very well and who cares if ____ dies?

Turns out I cared… a lot.

This isn’t a book to take lightly. You have to pay attention, realize the subtle ways Lev Grossman has introduced us to characters who we actually know better than we think, and you have to get ready for some real disappointment.

That’s all I’m going to say. Greg says I have a terrible habit of ruining the ending for people. NEVER AGAIN. Just let me know if you read it.

;)


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Getting Old is a Good Thing

Yes, I am one of those annoying 23-year-olds who offend anyone over the age of 30 by saying out loud, “I feel like I’m getting old.” People, I didn’t even want to turn 16. My 15-year-old self said, “Um, I’m good. I really don’t want to be turning 16. I’m already halfway to 30. That’s enough.” So each year when I become an older person, I sort of hate it. I’m sorry, but that’s just how it feels sometimes.

Especially when T. Swift’s song, 22, comes on the radio. I can no longer relate to such a song.

 

HOWEVER! Sometimes I get one of those oh so lovely reminders that I am very lucky to be aging (somewhat gracefully, I hope) and to be past certain aspects of my life. Such as:

P.E.

Today I was in the parking lot behind my work. It just so happens to back up against the field of the high school I attended. The timing was perfect, and I witnessed a class doing P.E. outside on said field. I felt so sorry for those students. P.E. was a nightmare for me. If you know me in person, you might have already heard my schpeal (did I spell that right?) on public school physical education. I think it does two things, and pretty much only these two things: 1) elevates the athletic kids to a higher level and 2) scars the un-athletic kids for life, possibly making them never want to wear a sneaker ever again. I know the arguments. I know that it’s supposed to be good, and where else will some kids ever get any exercise? and how else will they learn essential life skills like getting smacked in the face with a dodge ball (me)? and we can’t possibly eliminate P.E. in school because it’s too important. Ha. To that I say, How about we start funding a real Home Economics class, where instead of learning to sew a teddy bear on the end of their pencils, students learn how to make a great meal out of scratch? How about we talk about how food is just as important to an overall healthy lifestyle, if not more important than playing soccer for one humiliating hour of their lives? Oh my gosh. If I don’t stop now, I never will. And this is not what this blog is about. This blog is about being happy to be getting older!!! Which I am. NO MORE PHYSICAL EDUCATION!!!! Luckily, I did put on a sneaker again, and I am more physically active in my life than ever before. No thanks, by the way, to P.E.

BEING TOO TAN

I was one of those teenagers who paid to lay in a tanning bed. I did. Can’t tell you why. Can’t tell you what I was thinking. All I can say is, I’m glad my family no longer makes fun of my always orange/red nose. It was ridiculous and I’ll eat leafy greens every day for my entire life trying to undo the damage. (I didn’t edit the picture below at all… that’s me in all my too-tan glory!)

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17 in this picture. I’m burnt to a crisp, while Meredith is a healthy tone. Oh my word.

BEING IN A LONG DISTANCE RELATIONSHIP 

It was freaking hard, being apart from Greg. But we did it!!! We made it through two years long distance. The odds were against us and we beat ’em! My first two years of college were spent mostly talking to Greg on the phone and looking up the next flight I could get to go see him in Nashville. At the time I thought it would never end. Now, it feels like a lifetime ago.

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first long distance reunion

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too many….

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up close photos…

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taken of….

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ourselves!!!

Seriously. It’s silly. These are just 5 out of probably one million too many photos that look exactly the same. (That last one, btw, was taken at 3 A.M. after we packed up all of Greg’s stuff in Nashville… meaning we no longer had a long distance relationship. It was a good day!!) I’m glad to be living every day with Greg and to no longer feel the need to document each breath we take in each other’s presence.

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PHOTOS

I think each one taken of me, each year, was embarrassing. This is one of my favorites:

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3rd grade

I actually begged my mom for these jeans. “The baggier, the better, Mom.”

 

HOMEWORK 

Never again. Notta. Now I set my own goals, get my own work done, and it’s on no one’s time schedule but my own. Goodness, I love that.

AND BEST OFF ALL… GETTING OLDER MEANS…

STILL BEING ALIVE

Yes, it’s true. Getting older means I have made it this far, and for that, I should only be thankful. I read a quote that said “Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many.”

Each wrinkle, each sun spot, each time I bend over and make a slight grunting noise to stand back up straight (yikes), I will remember these things. I will remember that I no longer have to suffer through P.E., I no longer have to get ready for the first day of school, I now get to see Greg every single day, I don’t have homework to do and I only get tan when I actually spend time outside.

In another three months I’ll be 24 and I’m sure I’ll have days when I dread it. But when I consider my life, what it has become through this process of getting older, I can really only think of good things. Actually, getting older isn’t scary at all. I wish I could go back and tell my 15-year-old self that. But at least I know it now.

<3 Lou


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One Art {aka The Art of Losing}

Today I want to share with you my favorite poem. Not just my today it’s my favorite or one of my favorites, but my true, kindred spirit, love of my life poem. I had to read it in my American Literature class a few years ago when I was still in college. It was life changing. Not only does this poem point out our trivial wants and needs, but it also points out what truly matters in life. What could possibly break us, if we let it, and why sometimes losing something is our own fault… or completely out of our control.

~~~

ONE ART

by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master; 
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like a disaster.

~~~

I get chills when I see the (Write it!) and I feel as though I should look around for a pencil and write down everything I have lost. This poet, Elizabeth Bishop, had a hard life. Her father died when she was a baby and her mother was “institutionalized.”( Given that time period, ~ 1916, it was a touchy thing… the “hysteria” of women. Gives me the chills to think of what her mother went through.) We’ll never know what exactly happened to Elizabeth’s mother, but we know enough already to see that her childhood wasn’t exactly normal. She lived with different grandparents and always remarked upon her life with a dark tone. “I’ve never concealed it,” she wrote, “although I don’t like to make too much of it. But of course it is an important fact, to me. I didn’t see her again.” How… sad.

The beginning of this poem makes me laugh at myself. We’ve all lost our car keys. We lose items, as well as time, when we go looking for them. Do car keys get lost intentionally? No, they’re not alive. But losing them has never been a disaster in and of itself. (Except for when I made it the 35+ minute car drive to work, and Greg called me, saying that the other set of keys must be in the console to the car I was driving… and I had to drive all the way back home, then back to work. At the moment, I was feeling pretty disastrous.)

I already feel as though I’ve lost certain aspects of my life. Memories that slip away of where I’ve been or who I’ve known. My life goes on, there is no disaster there. If I really try, I could probably recall such things. They’re only lost to my everyday life.

To Elizabeth, losing her mother’s watch might have been a disaster. Imagine your mother being taken away at the young age of five, and having only a few items of hers left. (Maybe she feels that her mother was one of the things “seemed filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” But that’s just me, speculating almost 100 years later…)

For those of you who have traveled to another continent, I wonder if you would especially connect with the idea: “…vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.” I haven’t traveled all that far, but this is how I feel when I think of the river I used to see at camp every summer in Colorado. I loved the camp, the people there, the green mountains, but I most often find myself remembering the flowing river. I would sit beside it during our morning “quiet time” simply because it was the loudest place. I felt hidden. So much happened there, as far as the inner workings of my brain and heart were concerned (all during the tender ages of 8-15.)

And finally, we get to the personal, human to human part of this poem. I love it and it makes my heart so heavy. Who did Elizabeth lose? Who had the joking voice and the gesture? She wrote it for me. And you. She wrote this poem for anyone who ever dared to read it. I truly believe that.

Because to be human means to lose things every day. They may be big or small. We can’t keep track of everyone or everything. Memories slip away, moments are lost before anything worth remembering has a chance to happen, and most importantly, people slip away from us. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. My sister once wrote a song that said, “Nobody’s happy at no one’s expense.” Do you understand how profound that statement is? It rocked my world. Each time something good happens, chances are, it was at the expense of someone else. This might sound like a terribly negative way to view the world, but I think it’s fundamentally true. Think about it. When you got that job promotion, yay for you, sad for whoever was the runner up. When you got married, your life changed for the better, but someone out there may have once believed him to be their true love. If you were to list all of the factors that make you happy, I’m sure that at least half will fit the bill. Nobody’s happy at no one’s expense. 

Which isn’t to say that you don’t deserve that happiness! We do! It’s simply one of those facts of life, like a revolving door, that good things happen, bad things happen, people are happy, people are sad, and the majority of people get on with their lives.

We all lose someone along the line. Whether that cause is a death, a lost love, or a big mistake… we all have a story. Most of these resonate with people on a personal level. I know I have been in jeopardy of losing the most important people in my life. Sometimes we are blind to just how important they are. Remember to cherish the ones who love you back. (I hear Hanson in my head… “So hold on to the ones who really care, cause in the end they’ll be the only ones there… MmmBop)

Just make sure that the one you are keeping is worth more than the one you are letting slip away. If it’s right, do all you can to find something, even if it desperately wants to get lost. It could be a disaster. Elizabeth- it could be a disaster, and I think you agree. {And you certainly got me to (Write it!)}

It’s been a long day and obviously, my mind is in overdrive. I think I’ll go do these three things:

Tell Greg how thankful I am that we are 6 years in (3 and a half years married) and growing stronger every day. I won’t let that get away. Ever.

Make more tea, because I have been sick all day long.

Try to get more organized so I don’t LOSE anymore TIME trying to find my car keys.

<3 Lou


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Can You Find What’s Missing?

Sometimes people ask me one simple question:

How do you find time to write?

And workout? And read an entire book in less than a week? And cook all of my meals from scratch? And spend a large portion of my day just sitting outside, watching birds or gardening or hanging up the laundry to dry? 

Okay, I added all of the others, after the first simple question, How do I find time to write? But I’ve had at least a few people ask me these questions at different times. I really have. And I will be the FIRST to admit that I don’t have a perfect scheduled out system to my life. I forget things, I make mistakes and I do waste time.

Just not very often.

Let me give you a clue as to WHY.

Here are some pictures, taken at different angles, of my living room/dining room.

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Piano and bookshelf

Greg plays the piano ALL THE TIME!!! Coolest thing about it? I grew up with my dad playing this very same piano. My parents recently bought a new vintage piano and gave us this one. Also- this bookshelf is inside the wall. No space is wasted and it is beautifully carved out of wood.

Here’s a close up of the picture of my grandmother, which is sitting on the piano.

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

Okay, more pictures. Keep looking to find out what’s missing!!!

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“Dining room” and front door

Best part of this picture is the table that my parents bought when they were newlyweds. I wouldn’t buy a new one, ever.

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Christmas trees and music :)

Yes, we keep our Christmas tree up all year long. We’ve had it up since October 31st, 2010, when we bought it on sale at Hobby Lobby. This room is usually filled with band equipment for Wildewood.

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Where I read!

And there you have it. The rest of the house is similar. We have a small bedroom with hardly anything inside, a laundry room with a computer for Greg to work on music recordings, and another room that stores most of Wildewood’s equipment and Greg’s big drum set. It’s a modest, yet amazingly comfortable and spacious living arrangement. Oh, it’s also on a half acre. Don’t ask me how we got so lucky. But ask me how often I thank God for such a home. Answer: Every single day.

Did you see it? Or NOT see it? Have you guessed it yet?

I can read, write, blog, clean, sit in the warm sun, garden, workout and spend time with my husband ….ALL BECAUSE…

We have no TV. There it is. This is not a TV bashing blog, either. But will I ever own one again? Not for all the money in the world. (Okay, come to me with a million dollars and I might buy one. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be where anyone can see it) 

In our last place, a small apartment, I really tried to evaluate why I was either unhappy (at times), felt lazy or fat (at times), or felt disconnected with the world around me (almost all the time.) I remember this specific moment. I was watching a “reality” show. Maybe it was The Hills? I’m not quite sure. But what I do know is this: I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh. Here I am, watching someone else live their life. How lame. I need to go live my own life!” And there you have it. Greg and I moved into this place, got rid of our TV, and we’ve never looked back.

I know what some of you are thinking. But, Melinda, The Hills is trash reality TV and I watch great shows or the Food Network or the Discovery Channel… I don’t waste time. I learn and laugh and relax after a really long day. 

Well, I say HOORAY for all of those people who do exactly that. I would say in the beginning that I did miss those “good” TV shows. I like watching other people cook. I love a good special on Abraham Lincoln or a newly discovered animal in the ocean. But do I still miss it at all? Does it even EVER cross my mind? No.

In fact, I am still very busy and on the days when I have zero time to relax, I often wonder how in the world anyone has time for TV. I know that most people are on even tighter schedules than I am! Explain that!

Having no TV hardly makes me a hermit, either. We have Netflix and we watch movies on our laptop. Um… we have the INTERNET… so, yeah, it’s not like we miss out on any news. Simply having a twitter account makes me weirdly more informed about the world than I ever wanted to be.

I recently read this awesome blog about budgeting money. It made me think. I may not be the best at budgeting money, but I have become really good at budgeting my time. It’s something I can truly say I’ve grown to be good at, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Here’s what a typical day looks like for the Williams household:

A.M.

Greg and I try to wake up together, and unless he has to work at 5 (yikes!), which is rare, we make this happen. Our usual wake up time is anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00, depending. We wake up at LEAST an hour and a half before either of us have to leave. Why? So we can do this:

-Greg makes the coffee

-I made the breakfasts

-Weather permitting, we sit outside to eat and drink

-We might both spend 30 minutes reading

-We might start chatting, which I always love

-I’ll go for a thirty minute run or do a workout at home

-We talk about our days, challenges we might face, and how excited we are for the relaxing evening to come

MID DAY

Greg and I both work. He works full time and I work part time. (I do, however, spend more than a full timer’s worth of time writing.) If we happen to have a day off together, you can bet we’ve done these things:

-Pulled weeds/gardened

-Gone on a short walk

-Made some more coffee and sat outside (bird watching is our new hobby)

-Read more

-I write

-Greg will practice harmonica/drums/piano

-Whip up a good and healthy lunch

-Do laundry, sweep the floor

-Laugh our heads off at least three times (Greg is the funniest person I know)

P.M. 

This is where life really gets busy. Greg, being in a band, has lots of practices and shows. On a rare evening when we have “nothing” to do we’ll make time for:

-Making dinner together

-Talking about our day

-Getting caught up on life… dishes, putting AWAY the previously washed laundry… etc

-Reading some more

-Writing some more

-Practicing music some more

-Going on that run, if I didn’t get to it in the A.M.

See what I mean? Nowhere in there do we have space or a care to “budget” our time to fit in TV watching. Books are better, anyway. It might seem boring. I’m sure what I’ve just described, as a life being lived, seems utterly unexciting to the untrained eye. However, it is anything BUT. We spend quality time. I’ve learned to appreciate the sound of birds and learning what type they are. I’ve learned to savor each moment of silence I can muster up in a day, preferably with Greg right alongside me. I’ve learned to garden and I actually look forward to picking weeds. I get to be outside, I’m healthy and have a body that’s able, and I am caring for something that will provide me with vegetables and fruit to eat.

One drawback, if you can call it that, is how sensitive I have become to too much noise and distraction. I feel just a tad overwhelmed when I am somewhere with TVs blaring or a hundred different sounds buzzing around my head. I feel as if I can’t even listen to or hear the person sitting right next to me. Even in the car, if Greg and I have music playing, we’ll usually both reach to turn it down at the exact same time, and laugh and say, “I couldn’t hear a word you were saying.”

I guess that means I’ve learned to give my full attention to one thing at a time. Plus, I’m addicted to reading. This past month we got our Netflix DVD in the mail and we put off watching the movie for two weeks because each night, when it came down to it, Greg and I both opted for our books instead.

I’m not saying you should go throw your TV out on the curb today. I realize that for some people, this is extreme. (Like the lady who told us we were practically Amish for not owning a microwave… I think she’d faint if she read this.) But just like my last post about phones, I guess the reason for writing this is to encourage people to follow their dreams and not have distractions from those dreams. IMAGINE what you could accomplish if instead of watching TV for two hours a day, you did something productive… something you’ve always wanted to do. Like…

-get in shape (those two hours could be spend hitting the pavement)

-WRITE (it takes tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime)

-sign up for an art class

-volunteer

-go outside and TAKE A WALK (the most therapeutic thing on the planet, in my opinion)

-or whatever it is you’ve been putting off!!

JUST DO IT! (like Nike says…)

Your brain, body, and family will thank you for it. I promise! Feel free to ask me anything about my no-TV household. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and I have a LOT MORE to say, believe it or not.

Let me know how it goes, or if you do something similar!

<3 Lou


5 Comments

I Ran, I Read, I Cried

I had quite the weekend. I would consider myself having had TWO workouts.

The first, was the 5K Color Me Rad run I completed with my older sister, Emily.

reading, writing, melinda williams

at the finish line!

If you haven’t heard of this, or if no color run of any sort has graced your own city or town, it’s kind of weird. People run around for 3.1 miles and there are these stations where you get hosed down, sprinkled, or thrown buckets of paint on your person. People show up wearing white. They leave looking colorful (or like they just have on a green shirt! Emily got the bucket!)

I’m really happy because I didn’t have to stop and walk, which was my big goal. Yayyyy

writing, running, reading, hey lou

I thought this really shows just HOW colorful everything was!

It was super fun!! I highly recommend you find one of these races and participate. Families with little kids were walking the course and the kids loved getting paint on their clothes!

Alright. My other workout was one of the best whole body workouts, definitely including the abs quite a bit. It left me a little sore.

Doesn’t that happen to you, too, after you’ve sobbed your eyes out reading a book?

It totally happened to me.

I read Barbara Kingsolver’s greatest novel, The Poisonwood Bible. Again  AGAIN!  I judged a book by its cover. Why do I keep doing this? This is another book, lent to me by the same person as the last book I so wrongfully judged. It sat on my bookshelf for many days. This cover stared at me.

reading, writing, short stories, young adult

it’s kind of a cool cover, actually

I feel in love with this book and wound up finishing it in two days. I could NOT put it down. I brought it in the car, just in case I turned up early anyplace and I could read for another precious few minutes. I hardly slept. Maybe part of running the 5K and not walking at all was simply my determination to get home and read… ha  just kidding!

If you read this, get ready. You will need a whole box of tissues, or you will simply have to throw whatever sweater you were wearing into the wash.

But you should also get ready to laugh out loud, cringe, pick up some new sayings, and have some preconceived notions thrown out the window. I know I did all of these things.

The family in this book is similar to my own in a few ways:

There are four daughters, two of which are twins

The father is a pastor (mine’s Lutheran, in the book, they’re Baptist)

My grandpa (mom’s dad) grew up in Madagascar with this missionary parents (and wrote a book about it!) 

reading, writing, missionary

I know, so cool, right??!

The family in this book is also very different from my family in a few ways, too.

Our minister dad isn’t totally and awfully abusive, like in the book (writing Bible verses as punishment just doesn’t seem to match up with what they’re actually there for… )

The youngest two in my family are twins, not the middle two

None of us have been to Africa

That’s just to name a few ;)

Yet again I read a book that made me reevaluate my entire life. It gave me a new perspective on my own country, my home and the way I judge people. It seems that is all books have been doing for me lately, which I am thankful for.

When I put the book down, I LITERALLY stood up and was overwhelmed by the size of my living room. It felt humungous… It took many steps for me to get to my kitchen, which just absolutely shocked me. Weird, I know. But you have to understand – for two days I’d been living inside the book, meaning I was living inside a tiny mud hut in a small village in the Congo and I had almost zero resources. Walking across a wood floor in an adobe house with everything in the kitchen I could ever want was suddenly amazing. I made my dinner in a daze. I took out my frozen peas, heated them up on the stove with soy sauce and a little tofu, put it on a bed of arugula and added olive oil. I hadn’t quite considered the technology it took for all of that to end up on my dinner plate.

I felt ashamed of the life I live, thankful for the life I live, wary of the choices people in high places have made all throughout history, yet hopeful. This book did it all.

I was riddled with the smart and witty quotes.

“I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.”

“Sugar, it’s no parade but you’ll get down the street one way or another, so you’d just as well throw your shoulders back and pick up the pace.”

“Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.”

The Poisonwood Bible also made me stray away from my usual and slightly ignorant belief that I should feel sorry for people with less. This book showed the beauty of living with practically nothing. The people in the Congo (at least in the village written about in this book) lived on one primary source of food, a gooey and tasteless substance, but it was simple and kept them alive for hundreds of years. They had homes made of mud, one pair of clothes (if even) and schooling wasn’t a top priority. They were smart in other ways. I am reminded of that famous quote:

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Albert Einstein 

I am now a Kingsolver fan. Next on my list is her book about living a year on only local food (something I wanted to do!) called Animal Vegetable Miracle. Can’t wait!!

Don’t forget how lucky and blessed you are on this fine morning. If you’ve complained about the size of your home or the fact that your car isn’t nice enough, you definitely need to read Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver :)

You’ll wind up a much more content person if you do!

<3


15 Comments

Lou, the Conspiracy Theorist

I have this, ahem, problem with “smart phones.” They make me nervous. Therefore, I still have a regular old flip phone. Or what someone referred to the other day as a “dumb phone.” I love it. I can text and make phone calls. I wish it didn’t have voicemail, because I hate listening to voicemails and it gives me anxiety. (I think this might stem back to high school, when the only person who ever left me a voicemail was my dad, and it was usually when I was in trouble, not answering my phone… but that’s a whole different issue.)

This has caused me problems, I won’t lie. I’ve been lost without a way to look up directions. But hasn’t everyone, up until this recent phenomenon that is the smart phone, been a little lost? I know I’m not dealing with something new. Finding everything at the click of a button is new.

Back before Greg ran over his iPhone with the minivan, I would occasionally look at his phone and wonder why every ad that showed up on websites was showing me drums. Or recording equipment. Or harmonicas. I quickly realized that somehow, this little phone was tracking all of the searches Greg was making and then showing him what he wanted in the ad space.

The realization literally sent shivers down my spine.

My computer does this same thing, of that I am aware. I’ve had some smart tech-y type people tell me that there are ways to avoid this from happening, but it really doesn’t make me feel any better. The fact that someone, somewhere out there, knows what Greg or I look up on our phone or laptop just makes me nervous. It’s a little too Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s a little too creepy. I don’t want anyone to know what I’m doing (except for what I post on Hey Lou!)

The whole reason why I’m even writing this is because I seem to have lost my camera. We can’t find it anywhere. And now that we are left with my flip phone and Greg’s even worse replacement a co-worker gave him for free, we have almost no way to take decent pictures. I love adding pictures to my blog. If I had instagram or one of those fancy “newest version” smartphones I’d have some of the clearest, cutest pictures out there. I’ve seen them. It really is amazing.

I won’t deny that the technology of today is practically a miracle. People walk around with access to EVERYTHING. Every person they could ever want to communicate with… every store they could want to buy from… every song they could want to listen to. It’s a modern luxury that has become so common, that to be without a smartphone makes me kind of a rare breed.

But let me tell you something:

Once, about a year ago, I lost my phone. Or broke it. I hardly remember what happened to said phone. But what I do know is that I waited THREE MONTHS to replace it. Yes. Three months. Can you imagine? Three months without a phone? Here are some examples of what the outcome was:

– I felt FREE. No one could get a hold of me, except through Greg’s phone. 

– I was the safest driver in all of New Mexico .

– I didn’t make it to at least three events, because I am horrible at directions and had no way to call and figure it all out.

– I became organized. I had to plan ahead. Decide where and when to meet people. Greg and I had to communicate more than ever, about our work schedules and what we had planned. I had to write down all of my reminders on an actual calendar, not on my phone. 

– I read twice as much as I usually do (which is quite a lot).

– I wrote twice as much as I usually do (which is a quite a lot, too). 

– I began to love it and dreaded getting a new phone. 

– I started seeing the negative effects that phones have on others. I remember sitting at lunch with a friend, and she looked at her phone non stop. I realized that I, too, had been guilty of this and I hated it. I hated the fact that something held in her hand and shown on a screen could be more important than the conversation we were having. 

– I had way less anxiety. No “unknown” number could call me and leave an ominous voicemail. IT WAS AMAZING. 

WORTH missing a few things I had planned… and besides, I got better at looking up directions before I drove away from my house. 

Now that I have my little old flip phone, things have changed again. I use it to text Greg funny messages throughout the day and to check in when either of us gets home. I have used the hilarious excuse of a camera on this phone to take pictures that I have used for this blog. I’ve made it successfully to everything I had planned, given that my phone wasn’t dead.

But you know what? Sometimes I “forget” my phone. I … drumroll… venture out of the house without it. On purpose!!! 

You can’t imagine how liberating it feels. Sometimes I come home and zero has happened. Does that make me an unpopular person? Maybe. All I know is that each time I separate myself from the little black thing that I realize is sometimes glued to my hand, I never seem to miss anything Earth shattering.

I love to use the word “cahoots.”

As in, “I truly believe that the standardized testing people are in CAHOOTS with the scan tron companies, because they both make so much money off of each other and it isn’t really about the students at all.”

OR

“I think the flip phone people are in CAHOOTS with the smartphone people, because mine seems to malfunction every day. Are they doing that on purpose so that I switch over to the dark side?”

Call me a conspiracy theorist… I’ll agree with you. Call me crazy… and I’ll argue against that. All I am asking is that you at least TRY to free yourself of the bondage that is a cell phone. Maybe take baby steps. Ten minutes a day. Then twenty. Eventually, you’ll leave the house without it and you won’t turn around to go get it. You’ll be fine!

I know lots of successful people who are attached to their phones. I know that people get work information and doctors are on call. I’m not talking about the extreme cases. I’m talking about the average person who seems to have morphed lately, in the past decade, to someone who can’t function without a phone in their hand. Maybe step one for you is setting your phone down, rather than holding onto it. 

new york, hey lou writes, poetry, phone, smart phones, short stories

I’m trying to get him to pose… but he’s too distracted by his phone! :P

You might find yourself reading more, writing more, laughing more, sleeping more, or communicating with others in a way you forgot was possible.

Just try it? For me? And then let me know how it’s going :)

(one great thing I discovered, trying to stay off the computer as much as possible, as well as my phone, is that setting specific time aside to check emails and do all of the technology related stuff at once has really helped.)

Love, Lou

<3


1 Comment

Bad Poetry, Bowl Cuts & The Past

We have all done things we regret. Right? Please don’t tell me I’m alone. I’ve done things that I still feel guilty about. I’ve also done things that are embarrassing or just silly. I can’t change the past, even if I really, really want to. Too bad. I can, however, use what I’ve learned and start a better future. My husband Greg always says, in moments when I’m down, “Don’t water last year’s crops.”

It says so much. Last years crops are dead and gone and there’s absolutely no point in watering them. Do, however, water this year’s crops- the ones growing right now. I need to nourish the future I have by taking care of my present. That silly old past- it won’t get me down!!

Here are a few examples of past moments I need to move on from (go ahead, laugh… you’ll be laughing with me, not at me… I think)

My first acrostic poem:

poetry, past, writing, young adult, fiction

Looks kind of violent from far away- all that red

For anyone who might have trouble reading this, it says:

M elinda how creative was that? at least I used two different colors

E nergetic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still love the exclamation point, to a fault

L emen   ? maybe, although that’s debatable. I do like lemons, though

I nsperacian   my spelling did improve, with time

N eet   never, have I ever in my life been “neet”… or neat

D o   well, that’s just common sense. I do lots of things

A ward   I like to think I’d just won some great award in my classroom, but there’s no solid evidence for that

I’ve been humbled by so many things. I’ve learned not to compare myself to my sisters (my twin, Meredith, wrote a poem just like this and hers is awesome!! straight lines, correct spelling, and words that actually described her) If I did that, I’d just go crazy. I’ve learned to laugh at things that might be embarrassing… like… LIKE THIS PICTURE!!!!

My first “mistake” haircut:

fiction, past, young adult, fictiion

most likely, I wrote the poem around this same time (yikes)

I looked like a boy. My bowl cut matched the baby Tommy doll in the case I’m holding. I think that’s a classic Christmas morning nightgown. I had braces at age 6… brutal.

But I digress.

This beautiful, coherent acrostic poem (and the bowl cut) is in my past. I can’t change that! (which I’m completely okay with…I’m one of those people who can laugh at myself…thank goodness) But you know what else? Something I CAN do?? I can write a new one!!! Yes!!

Here is a new version, written today.

M elinda some things from our pasts shouldn’t change, so there, I kept the original M

E nigmatic sometimes…

L aughing daily

I nterested in almost everything

N ever neat though I’m working on it

D edicated to those I love and pursuing my dreams

A pprehensive at times

There! Done. Changed, or updated, something from my past.

Although- now that I’ve gone and done that, I think I like the original one better <3

Another example of something I can’t change:

The dreaded brown and short hair. I don’t know what I was thinking. Hadn’t I learned from my childhood, that short hair just isn’t my thing? I went through an identity crisis. Luckily, Greg still proposed when I had this hair, but even more lucky…. it grew back.

My second “mistake” haircut:

past, regrets, writing, fiction

not me at all!

It took years to get back to my “normal” self. In the same way, when I make big mistakes and hurt those I love, it seems as though it can take years (or even longer) for things to go back to normal. Sometimes the people I love most in life surprise me and show me complete grace…forgiving me right away. Greg is the best at this. It is often ME who has a tantrum-like moment and often HIM who smiles and says, “Okay, can we be done arguing now? I just thought of the birds outside and it made me so happy!” Literally. This exact thing has happened.

writing, love, past

Everything is back to normal ;)

I’m so grateful for poetry of my youth, the fact that hair grows back, and people who chose to forgive, rather than hold grudges. I’m thankful for mistakes and the fact that we can LEARN from them, rather than wallow in them forever.

<3

If you’re interested… Here are some examples of my poetry. I like to think I’ve come a long way since the acrostic poem of my younger days, but you should let me know what you think ;)


3 Comments

How Legends Are Made

Lemon Moon by Wildewood

short stories, writing, young adult, new writer

Alex, Meredith and Greg

GO and LISTEN to this song. Study it. Think on it. Imagine if this folk tale were to be true. (And realize, that it could be…)

The Lemon Moon has become a popular topic in our group of singer/songwriter friends. There are at least five Lemon Moon songs. They all tell different tales of the legend, the stories of who was left behind and the reason the Lemon Moon exists at all. I will be posting the short story (you guessed it, inspired by this legend that Meredith Wilder from Wildewood came up with), chapter by chapter, in the coming weeks!

So really, go listen to this song. Your life will only be better for it!

:)

 

 

Lemon Moon Lyrics

All the people come out and are wandering around

thinking, “Oh, where is my love?”

Everyone who remains is alone

The Lemon Moon has come back to take every better half

where they go, nobody knows

But the sky sees each on his own

[Lemon Moon, take me too, though I am not what you want

I did try to be kind but my dark heart it will not do]

His eyes were the deepest blue and he used to sing for you, how easily you let him in

Always thinking that he would escape

Now his garden’s turned to disrepair, no more flowers anywhere

but the birds continue their rounds

In the uninspired parade

[Lemon Moon, take me too, though I am not what you want

I did try to be kind but my dark heart it will not do]

Had I known, would I have looked lower, lower to find somebody not so fine

Fine like the breeze, easily the best being I ever laid my eyes upon


3 Comments

I Did The Thing You’re Never Supposed to Do

reading, writing, hey lou, short story, young adult

I have to admit it: I did the thing you’re never, ever supposed to do- especially as an avid reader or writer who knows better. And it isn’t the first time I’ve done that, truth be told.

I’ve committed similar crimes. Like the time I broke that sacred rule among all women and excitedly said to a woman I barely know, “Oh my gosh! You’re PREGNANT!!”

And she wasn’t. (I know, I’m still cringing, too. It was awful.)

I’ve done worse things. I’ve learned many lessons on what to say in public (my mom’s rule after a family outing, “Don’t say a word until all the car doors are shut and we’re driving away!”) and when to bite my tongue.

You may not think it’s as big of a deal… this other thing I did, but I do. I’m always glad to be proven wrong, yet I always fall back into the similar pattern. Have you guessed it yet?

I JUDGED A BOOK BY ITS COVER!

That’s right. I do this all the time, despite knowing how wrong covers often are. One solid picture that represents hundreds of written pages? A picture can say a thousand words… it can also misrepresent about 100,000 words!

My latest victim of judgement:

Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

This is the cover I sat and stared at, not really wanting to pick it up:

books, writing, reading, short stories Let’s admit it. It looks kind of cheesy. I guess it’s some tv show now, though I’ve never heard of it. My boss at work gave me this book to read and I ignored it for about a week. I was turned off by the three gals riding bicycles and the funny expressions of the two older women in the bottom picture. I didn’t want to know why the nun looked so smug/full of knowledge/kind. Weird of me, right? I just couldn’t really get past it.

Then I read the first page. And I finished the book in about three days.

It was an excellent, fantastic read! A real page turner.

Set it London in the 1950’s, this book depicts the true accounts of Jennifer, young midwife (about my age), and what she saw and learned and dealt with. I had no idea conditions for people were so awful. My perspective on life has completely changed. It’s one of those books… the kind that have you reevaluating what you take for granted every single day. After reading I realized I am LUCKY and BLESSED beyond belief because I have:

A running toilet, in a nice bathroom (many people in large cities in the 1950’s were still using outhouses or communal bathrooms in apartment buildings… one single “toilet” for hundreds of people)

A house for only two people (small one bedroom apartments would be occupied by a family of six or bigger)

A great hope for a healthy pregnancy with luxuries, such as prenatal visits and a clean facility to show up to (the nuns and young midwives traveled around on their bicycles for home deliveries, mostly to small and overcrowded apartments, as mentioned above)

A husband who is very kind and gentle (domestic abuse was prolific and unspoken)

Plenty of sunshine and green vegetables to eat (rickets were common due to lack of vitamin D, being in the big city and surrounded by tall buildings and therefore, shade, and other deficiencies due to poor nutrition)

A car (the nuns and other midwives seriously only had their bikes. I want to challenge myself to ride my bike when I leave the house, but I just haven’t done that yet. When it’s freezing cold and raining, I’m glad I don’t have to go out with that as my only option)

A job that has great hours and smiling faces and doesn’t include the word “factory” (many worked in factories, some of which were so awful that if a family arrived at the “workhouse” they were all separated – like a concentration camp- and rarely left)

That’s just to name a few. This book was filled with gripping stories of childbirth, poverty, laughter, tears and human nature. Some of Jennifer’s preconceived notions were completely turned upside down. The crazy lady who showed up at almost every birth wasn’t just being a pest, she truly cared to know if they were healthy and alive. The girl who had stolen a large amount of cash wasn’t just a horrible thief- she’d been tricked into prostitution and couldn’t find a way to escape. The women who had the dirtiest apartment was depressed and driven to drink because her husband was so abusive.

I know it’s just a book, but these stories are such a great reminder to me to not judge people. To give them the benefit of the doubt (one of my new years resolutions!) and to look kindly on all people, as you never know what they’re going through. Some stories in this book were hilarious, too. Some filled with joy and hope. Those were my favorite parts.

I highly recommend this book! Just don’t pay any attention to the cover.

:)