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Entries in life (13)


To Him We Shall Return

I have so much to say to you, but I am hesitant. After all of these years, I struggle with the fine line between what part of a story is mine and what part of it belongs to the other people in the story.

You cannot crystallize the meaning of a life into a sentence or a group of sentences. Lives are collections of moments and emotions. Not just the emotions you feel or the moments you experience, but all of the emotions and moments that connect others to you and you to them.

This weekend, I watched my father in law breathe his last breath. This is not a metaphor. I heard the last breath leave him. I am not the person who walked into that hospital room anymore, and I can never go back to being that person, either. My heart is broken in a way that will never be mended because that day, I learned what it really means to be a human being.

If you have experienced this, as well, you know what I mean. If you have not experienced this, there is absolutely nothing I can tell you that will bring you close to understanding all of the things that this moment meant.

A human life is roughly 600 million breaths.

I googled it. What the google result didn't say was that every breath you breathe is a word spoken or a word held in. Love or anger expressed, regret swallowed.

The human heart beats an average of 2.5 billion times in a life time.

I googled that, too. Google did not mention that each of those beats is a willful intention sent out into the universe. I imagine it's your soul whispering, "Alive."




Until one day, it no longer whispers anything.

I watched him breathe his last breath and heard his pulse whisper, "Alive" for the last time on Thursday night. And right then I supplicated to my Creator and begged that I would go the way he did. I prayed that when my heart whispers it's 2.5 billionth whisper and my 600 millionth breath comes forth, that people all over the world would shed a great deal of the 16.5 gallons of tears they are allotted in their lifetime.

I said it before. If you have not experienced this, there is nothing I can tell you that will prepare you for this.

I can tell you, though, that every moment in your life is simultaneously a big deal and then will suddenly become not a big deal at all.

Everything you do, every head you pass your hand over lovingly, every cheek you touch, every penny you save for someone's education, every curry recipe you teach someone, every grandchild you play soccer with in the living room or play cards with after dinner, every son you educate, every daughter in law who you tell is your *daughter* and that the "in law" part is completely unnecessay... is extremely important and then simultaneously fleeting.

Your life is vibrant reds, blues, purples, brightening the world and making it better -- see, the brightness of the colors of your life are made vivid by all the lives connected to you. And then, one day, when you breathe for the 600 millionth time, all of the colors in the universe will instantly dim.

All of the people connected to you will realize that it was your light that made the world seem that bright. And then those people will realize that they will never see those colors again in the way they did when you were here. 

Nothing will ever be the same for them.


Creativity, Usefulness and Moving to Selfish

I read an interesting article yesterday about the effect of family life on creativity. Here. Go read it.


You didn't really read it, did you? 

Anyway, this article is by a writer and she talks of how her artistic life has been impacted by family in what seems like a negative way, but, then, in the end, there's a semblance of bittersweet conclusion about how things are really just different now and not necessarily worse. Or something.

Don't like that summary? Well, that's what you get when you don't read shit for yourself. They're called consequences, Beav.

As my children get older and as my vocation is increasingly child centered (teaching, running a school - which is not the same as family centered, but still relies on this idea of maintaining order not disrupting it), I find myself less and less able to be truly creative. Like, in an artistic way.

Now, it we're talking about "I have a piece of pita bread, some sketchy looking turkey and a third of a tub of cream cheese and it's 7:20a.m. and I have to be at work in fifteen minutes and I need to make two lunches -- TURKEY-PITA-CREAM-CHEESE-SURPRISE-VOILA," then I'm freaking Picasso. This kind of creativity is not enough. This is really problem solving. This is an outflow situation. It doesn't renew. It takes.

I really just want... Just to be alone in a space for a while where I can disrupt the normal cadence of life and think about things in a new way. I want that fire and passion of looking at reality, saying "this is not the only way things are -- they can be like this, too! Aren't we all uncomfortably energized and ready to live it all in this new way?" 

But I have Life stuff. Stuff that has to happen so that we can, you know, eat and maybe wear clothes that don't smell. And, then, there's the stuff going on inside my head. This brings to another point and by "point" I mean "tedious human struggle." I have this horrible thing of believing that worth equals usefulness to others. Well, wait, this is true thing -- to a degree. It is important to be useful, but it's equally important to be self serving.

When I was growing up, I had a parent that told me I was selfish, a lot. It damaged me. Not in a terrible way that's unrecoverable, but in an innocuous way that shows up when you're forty and you're like, "well, isn't this some fresh hell I thought I had dealt with already?" I've got to tackle this demon that clutches at my throat every time I think of doing anything that doesn't directly benefit someone besides myself.

I'm not selfish. I've proven that to myself. I am now the opposite of selfish. I'm specifically a martyr like that other parent who didn't call me selfish. Isn't that something. You know, the only time I'm not benefitting someone else is when I lay down in my bed to sleep or watch TV. I think I even rationalize using the bathroom as a general public service. Backed up people with urinary tract infections are not good for the planet. Just saying.

The problem with working to the point of exhaustion is that you end up in bed watching a Netflix/Hulu marathon. Although, I did change it up this week by diverting to a Serial marathon.

(Oh, Adnan, BRO, why did you smoke the pot that day? You can't remember where you were because you were too HIGH, dawg.) 

I have to work on this whole being creative, taking care of myself, redefining self worth stuff. Who else is annoyed by the prospect of having to figure something out when when you've reached midlife? That is some serious CRAP. I really thought that forty was taking the red pill and realizing that we're all in the Matrix so we can all just chill. Or maybe it was the blue pill. Or, damn, maybe I took the blue pill and that's why we're having this conversation.

I have plans of attack, though. Maybe I'll share them with you. Maybe. I am planning to start listening to Season 2 of Serial now, so best laid plans and all that.

P.S. I just typed and retyped the word "download" three times. It went down like this:




I thought you'd enjoy that.

Hey! Mike Scheinberg and I have started producing Hey! That's My Hummus! again. New episodes to download. Check it out on our website. Or you can download from iTunes.



I Attempt Becoming a "Morning Person"

I once read an article about Tiger Woods in which he stated that gets up at 4:30a.m. every morning and that this simple act contributes greatly to his success. Golf success. Not cheating on his wife success. Which obviously was, depending on how you look at it, not a success.

I have never been a "morning person." I jokingly told Tariq the other day that in my ideal world, I am the last person to go to sleep and the last person to wake up. "So, basically, you would like to be a princess."

I am what I am.

Unfortunately, be it due to age or otherwise, I can no longer be productive when I stay up late and these pesky children and day job require that I get up in the morning. The resulting conundrum being that while I am the last one to sleep, I am now the second to wake up, courtesy Tariq's bedside service of a scalding cup of coffee every morning. This results in my being tired -- all the time.

Furthermore, while there was once a time where I could knock out thousands of words and tens of spreadsheets at the midnight hour, I now find myself in the regrettable position of watching hours and hours of "Cold Case Files" reruns. Not the documentary, but the show. It was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Shut up, it's good. That part at the end when one of the cops waves to the ghost of the murdered person gets me every time.

Anyway, the point is I can't hack it, this staying up late. Also, I want to be like Tiger Woods. Not the cheating on your spouse with strippers part. Just the "exceptional at what you do" part.

Today, I woke up at 5:20a.m. For those of you who are self righteous morning people, you know who you are, may I clue you into the life of someone who is a not a "morning person" who is attempting to be a morning person? The alarm blares. The sickening feeling that it's time to get up washes over you. Is it really time to get up? You glance at the clock and realize you are up about ninety minutes earlier than normal. It's still dark outside. The world feels empty. Too empty. There is no chatter. There is no light. There is no... coffee.

And what, pray tell, will you do with that extra ninety minutes? Write a novel? Make a spreadsheet of supplies needed to climb Mt. Everest? Let's just start with reading the instructions on the bag of coffee grounds. Two tablespoons to every six ounces of water? That seems excessive. The coffee is made and now there are precisely eighty two minutes left to kill.

Make that seventy two.

Outside my bedroom window. I am up before the sun. This feels all wrong. Especially because this photo is on its side. Whatever. At least, I'M AWAKE. 


My Surfing Will Go On and On...

Whenever I'm at my laptop and Tariq heads to bed, he looks at me very seriously, "Now, promise me you'll go to bed soon."  It reminds me of the scene in Titanic where Leo says, "You're gonna go on, Rose, and you're going to die an old lady, happy and warm in her bed, but not like this... not this night, not here.. do you understand me?"
And, then, I go all Kate on him and am like, "It's not up to you to save me, Jack...  leave me alone." I know those lines aren't in the same scene, but they should be. 
Unrelated: I didn't even have to Google those lines. Have a good weekend.


And, hey, have you liked my Facebook page? You should do that!

Photo Credit


Lyrical Life

You know what I love more than music?


Sometimes they make me laugh.  Or think.  Or cry.

There's this song that reminds me of a woman from my childhood named Helen.  She was our nanny.  A sassy Southern lady, who now that I think of it may have played for the home team, Helen is most likely the reason I will often say "yer" instead of "your" or "ain't" instead of "isn't."  Don't look so surprised, it happens way more often than you may think.

Anyway, long after Helen stopped being our nanny, she was in our lives.  She drove to Daytona from Bartow, Florida for every birthday, milestone, graduation and often for no reason at all.  I always meant to drive over and see her, but I never got around to it.  Even years after I had a driver's license, I always found something better to do than drive over to boring Bartow.

A little while after my twentieth birthday, my dad called me from the office and gently broke it to me that she had been killed in a car accident the day before.  I will never forget that moment.  As soon as my dad told me, I screamed.

I actually fell down.  Just like in the movies.

I went to her funeral a few days later.  That was the day that I realized that it's more than just a trite little saying.  Life really is too short and, no, you never do know.

When someone said count your blessings now

'Fore there long gone,

I guess I just didn't know how

I was all wrong

But they knew better

You said you'd stay forever

And ever

Who knew?

-- Pink, "Who Knew"

Winter Sky Over the Mississippi River