If I’d Met My Husband In High School . . .

Sometimes I wonder what I would have done if I’d met my husband in high school. What a funny/frightening notion. From what I can gather—which is mostly snippets of him when he did foolish things (like lower an emu into the courtyard for a senior prank) or who he dated (needy girls–blah)—he was oh so slightly on the nerdy, awkward side. Therefore, I probably wouldn’t have been all that interested in dating. Sorry, my radar was programmed for, well, not nerdy. I’m sure he was just as amusing as he is today, but a little reticent in his teenage years, so I would have missed his funny side which is one of his most attractive features. I bet we would have been operating in separate, parallel worlds, only to briefly meet at National Honor Society meetings or show up at the same math class. But maybe, just maybe, I would have glimpsed that mischievous smile while passing in the hallway—the one that our middle daughter inherited, or he might have given me a humorously hard time about getting my nose pierced (yes, I did that), and he would have made me stop to think—what if? 

You know, before I headed to the bathroom to check my nose ring.

What about you, readers?

 

Supporting a Good Word

You know what’s odd? I wrote a 71,000 manuscript for my YA novel (yet to be published…yet to be accepted by an agent, actually), and searched for the word “shimmer.” I had no doubt the word was used at least once. And I needed inspiration for my blog. But the search function spit back, “The search item was not found.” How disappointing. Such a great word—makes you want to look at whatever it is that is shimmering, doesn’t it? Whether it be undulating water or a taffeta evening gown or freshly shampooed hair or even a car with a spotless wax job. Nope, didn’t use it. Maybe it’s because my protag is a 17-year-old male, and shimmer not a dude word. At least as a 29-year-old woman, I can use it in my blog today. (Oh, did I tell you I stopped aging at 29?)

The shimmering crown of diamonds and sapphires sat upon Queen Emily’s head as she greeted her guests.

There. Nailed it!

Bucket List

When you hear the phrase “bucket list” what do you think?

1) Can’t wait to cross of the next thing! I’m on a roll!

2) Someday I’ll come up with something…

3) That’s for crazies.

4) OhMyGoshIDon’tHaveOneAndI’mMissingOutOnSomethingI’mSure!

5) A combination of numbers 2-4, especially depending on current mood or time of the month

Can you guess mine? Yup, number 5.

A few weeks ago a fellow blogger (Mitch Teemley) posted a question: What’s on yours [bucket list]? I looked at the picture of a bucket, I thought briefly about commenting with a clever, impressive ambition, ultimately hit “like,” and proceeded to not like my own feelings about it for a few weeks. Why? Because I don’t have a bucket list. To me, a bucket list is more than realistic goals (which I have plenty), a bucket list implies those wild and awe-inspiring, selfie-taking, blog-posting highlights of life often stemming from hidden fears or amazing dreams that for people like me who are very type A and not super spontaneous might miss out on if we don’t put in on a list.

Now that I’ve recovered from the guilt of not having a bucket list, I suppose the only thing left to do is to create one. Luckily, I have a little help—a document titled “100 Things To Do Before You Die” that I saved in five years ago with the notion of USING it to create my bucket list. Some of the ideas I just don’t care to do—skydiving? Not interested. Brew your own beer? eh, I’ll leave that up to the pros, some of them are really good. Grow a beard? Yeah, no. But, looking at the ones I am interested in, but would take a certain level of guts and planning, I forced myself to pick five to start my list.

1) Ride the tallest roller coaster in the world–Kingda Ka, Six Flags, New Jersey (gulp)

2) Go scuba diving

3) Take a ride in a hot-air balloon

4) Own one expensive but absolutely wonderful outfit (I’m guessing I’ll have to go beyond my usual Target or Kohl’s to find one)

5) Spend a whole day eating junk food without feeling guilty (an exploit the kids would love to join me on)

So, readers, here comes the question, whether you “like” it or wish to post an angry face: What’s on Your Bucket List?

High School Dreams (a.k.a. What Didn’t Happen)

There’s nothing like a visit to my Michigan hometown to remind me of all that I had thought in my youth was completely, distinctly, humorously incorrect. Not that I begrudge my dreams or naïve outlook of having endless possibilities in life and utter absence of setbacks and disappointments. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Those ideas allowed me to dream without disastrous consequences, mostly because I was too chicken to take risks anyway. Did you have that notion in adolescence where you just felt like the world was waiting for you to do something great and your dreams and desires are just around the corner? And of course you’ll be successful at anything you try, anything life throws at you? “Glory Days” as Bruce Springsteen would call them. Glory days, glory days.

Had you asked me at high school graduation (Class of ’96!), how I see myself at 40 years old, I would have guessed career military, expert in some field or administrator of some sort with a like-minded husband, 2.5 kids, and a Mustang. I do have an (un)like-minded husband and 3 kids, so I was close there, but neither of us stayed in the military for a full career and I’m nowhere near an expert nurse, especially since I work part-time so I can write. And writing? Well, to go from novice to expert, you must cross a precarious bridge over a depthless pit while you are gushing blood and sweating profusely—a journey I have only just begun. And the Mustang? See, I’m holding out for the day when I can be impractical— after the house is paid for, no repairs needed, the landscaping looks great, and the kids are out of the house. For now, my protagonist in my book drives one (damn seventeen-year-old punk).

Speaking of impractical dreaming, I had often thought I would take more risks in life, like I would someday wake up more brave and not care about criticism or what the world might think. I daydreamed about riding motorcycles and wearing the black leather garb—you know, the biker look. Maybe even pink hair and a few tattoos. I thought I might have a husband who likes fast cars (he doesn’t) and we could go to car shows and he would smoke the tires at a Woodward Cruise (if you are from the Motor City, you understand). When I left home at eighteen, I took it for granted that I would be excellent at not only my career, but running, dancing, singing, cooking, decorating, keeping in touch with people, socializing, saving and investing money; I presumed I’d be well-rounded academically, read all kinds of books, keep up with current events, travel extensively and have a killer beach-body with minimal effort. (Insert snort here)

Going back home every so often brings all those wild concepts to the surface. I suppose if you don’t leave your hometown, you may not go through quite so much head-drama, but I don’t know, all I know is my own experience. What about you, readers? Did you dream big? Are you living the dream? Do trips to your hometown trigger any grief or laughable fantasies like mine do?

R.I.P. Emily’s 1996-vision-of-what-life-will-be. Maybe I can resurrect you someday, you know, in a work of fiction.

 

 

Tethered for Life

It’s interesting to think about what we are tethered to in life—some are choices, like spouses, religion, and careers, and others are not, like the oops baby (yes, been there; greatest thing that ever happened to me), but nothing is quite as significantly bound as your body. If you think about it, it’s the highest attachment in your life. Everything else you can change quickly or give up or quit or buy or sell or wed or divorce or register or apply or consume or start or finish. But your body is what you are tethered to for life, for better or for worse, until death do you part.

How many things about your body have you tried to change? Weight, perhaps? Hair color? Bulk up? Lower cholesterol? I’ve had a few attempts—weight, muscle mass, flexibility, skin perfection; I’ve even tried to teach myself how to be a belly-breather which didn’t come naturally at all. But, ultimately, my body is still about the same, just tweaked very slightly. I can’t force myself to run a 4 minute mile (I’d be happy with a 6). I can’t fly (man, that would save a lot of time). My back is done by the end of a 13-hour shift (helping people who are tethered to severe limitations). And I’ll burn if I don’t put on sunscreen (a trait my oldest child is not so happy about inheriting). I can’t detach from my body and its limitations, but I am happy with my abilities and don’t take them for granted. All I have to do is see person who is wheelchair-bound, and I am moved to say a prayer of thanks.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to keep doing some maintenance on this body of mine since it’s the only one I’ll ever get. And I want to be tethered to something strong. Despite its affinity for sugar, I can feed it vegetables sometimes. I’ll put it to sleep at a reasonable hour. I can get it to run three or four times a week. And someday I wouldn’t mind if I can run it for one mile in six minutes. Ahhh.

My Way (75 words)

God: Why do you keep trying to do things your way? Let me drive.

Me: I love You, God, but you’re too slow. I got this.

God: You think you’re getting somewhere?

Me: Eventually; I’m not there yet, but, look, we are going forward, right? My foot’s on the gas.

God: Too bad your attitude earns you square wheels.

Me: Damn it.

God rests back and folds his arms.

God: BTW, cursing drains your gas.

Professional VS. Brutal (Who Would Win?)

As a hospital nurse, I educate patients to take their “medications as directed” and tell them why and common side effects, etc. Plus at discharge, nurses address lifestyle choices on the surface level and send patients out the door, hoping for the best and hoping the primary care offices can take over from there. We say what we are supposed to say and make sure patients and families understand all the instructions. But, has anyone ever tested whether brutal, frank, coarse honesty works even better? I bet that hasn’t been tested. Too risky. Hurts feelings. No one would consent.

Okay, but I’m using my imagination because it’s my blog.

For instance, instead of saying,” you must taper your prednisone as instructed or you can potentially experience weakness, fatigue and gastric upset,” we say, “if you don’t taper the steroid, you’ll feel like shit.” Which would actually work better? Instead of saying “you must quit smoking because it increases your risk of heart and lung disease,” we say, “if you don’t quit, we’ll be booking you a hospital bed in six months for a complication your bank account can’t cover.” Hmmm, might it be food for thought? Might it have planted a bigger, faster seed toward change? How about for alcoholics, instead of handing off the list of resources and keeping our fingers crossed that something might work, we say, “if this doesn’t end, you will eventually need a new liver, but you won’t qualify for one so better plan on turning yellow and having a beach ball abdomen we have to drain fluid from.” Hmmmm, again, totally inappropriate, but would it work?

Now, to be brutally honest with myself, I wouldn’t be the best person to deliver frank statements. My compassion and gentleness are gifts that thankfully surface while I’m working. Sometimes, though, I wonder if my smile and gentle nudges make a difference. Well, if they don’t, at least my prayers might. And with that, God please bless my patients, they know not what they do. (LOL, just kidding, sometimes).