The children are going to a Vacation Bible School this week to learn about Egypt, Some Old Dude and Eat Lots Of Candy and Eat Lots More Candy and sing some songs and Eat More Candy. At least, this is as reported by my oldest.
No, we are not religious, or rather, not in the traditional “there is a God” sort of way. But rather, I am deeply religious in the “there is cheap child care” sort of a way. And that, friends, is Heaven.
According to my daughter, it’s not a terribly religious experience anyway. Some old dude walked through a sea a long time ago and LOOK I GOT SKITTLES, MOMMY.
It is during this time that I’ve had the joy of riding bikes again. It’s been, roughly, an estimated average of 5.2129 years since this has been a regular occurrence. Precisely, give or take .127 years and 13 days, which is to say that holycrap that bike seat is tiny.
Even here in Seattle, one of the most bike-friendly towns, it’s near murder trying to bike along a road. For one, I’m completely unstable and tend to swerve maniacally back and forth in my bike lane like a texting teenager learning to drive. For some reason, when I turn my head left or right my body tends to follow my giant mellon, like a beacon of light trailing along in the night. Not only does this royally freak out cars who are paying attention, it freaks the shit out of me when they’re not.
So, there’s that.
In general, car-people get a bad rap here for being, well, car-people. Asshats who use the road to their own gain AND WIN because, you know, they are in a ten ton vehicle and bikers are flapping in the wind all sorts of proverbial naked and exposed. Given the aforementioned erratic nature of my biking, I tend to stick to bike lanes or trails: mainly the Burke Gilman.
Which, holyshitballs, biker dudes are not any better than car-people.
I’m clearly not an avid biker. I’m not wearing the biking uniform and I’m not clipped in to my straps and I’m not wearing water on my back in the form of a futuristic backpack. I’m the equivalent of the old dude with the handicap sign hanging from his rear view mirror pumping his breaks down a 45 mph hill to slow to 25. I’m THAT guy. On a bike. Swerving.
The real bikers are decked out in water-wicking spandex. They have shoes clipped in to their pedals that cost more than my left arm. (Apparently my left arm is of much greater value than the right.) They are aerodynamic like a bullet. They are almost as fast, having shaved their legs, eyebrows and heads. Slick like seaweed in water. They’re always yelling, “ON YOUR RIGHT ON YOUR RIGHT ON YOUR RIGHT” as they pass people on the trail and mutter under their breaths if they tap their breaks even once.
And then there is the fat lady.
She has all the right gear, the spandex and the camel back water hydration pack and the super-fiberglass-lightweight-helmet-of-great-speed. She has the proper shoes. She has the proper bike. But she is not yelling, “ON YOUR RIGHT ON YOUR RIGHT ON YOUR RIGHT” as she is not passing a single person.
I almost admire her for this. What great balls she must have to get in to THE OUTFIT and ride with the big guns. Balls or Delusions. Either way, I’m not half the woman she is (uh) and could never imagine having the tenacity to go forth and conquer her fears like that. Maybe they are only my fears, I don’t know. Fear of failure, of not using the right bell or hand gesture or looking like I just don’t fit it.
It was still a lovely ride, even with those biker dudes all up in my business passing every few minutes yelling, essentially, for me to stop swerving and move-the-fuck-over. It was lovely in a way that biking never changes, no matter how old a person gets. It’s a sort of conductor to childhood memories; Wind flying through your hair, legs pumping, a ridiculous grin spread across your face in glee. I can see why people get in to biking in the first place.
I’ll continue to be the old guy on my bike, straggling, swerving, slowing on hills. And I’ll love every minute of it. In full.
“You’re going to do what?”
“I’m going to eat less than 15 grams of sugar for ten days,” I reply exasperated. It’s the second conversation like this in as many minutes.
“Why ten days?”
“It’s all I can promise I might commit to.”
“You are honestly going to last ten days? .... “
“Hey, look, if Jesus can go in to the desert for 40 days without food or water, I can do ten days without sugar.”
“So, what you’re saying is, you’re like twenty percent Jesus.”
“If you want to call me that. I mean, hey, if the toga fits…”
“You wannan grab some ice cream later? .... ... Oh.. Wait…”
It’s going to be a long ten days but dammit, if Jesus can do it SO CAN I.
Now I just need to work on my water to wine skills.
It’ll be about twenty percent tasty.
It is a purely financial decision, I keep telling myself. One that does not mean I am not loved by dozens of tons of ten people. It is not that I am not wanted, just that I can not, in no way at all, afford New York City right now. Like OMG NEW YORK CITY! Oh, but god, I want to be there.
So very fucking much.
This year it is not in the cards. They layoff, the house(s), the bills, the move. There is no single way I can justify NEW YORK when I’m hoping to hit Leiden and Germany in another month. No way. Just. None.
Even if my mid-life crisis yells at me to JUSTFUCKINGGO.
Which is what it does. Daily.
I was supposed to speak on a panel. I was supposed to BE THERE. I have plans. I have friends. I have… No moniez.
I will have no pictures like these. (TRAGEDY)
Will I be here that weekend? I am not sure yet. Will we throw a FlingHer that weekend? I am not sure yet. Will I ever, literallyfuckingever, know anything before the day it happens? I can not say. But this I know: I will miss you all: My Internet Family. As sad and horribly stalkish at is sounds, I mean it. I love you all, every one of you. YOU who have lived in my computer and hugged me in person: You. I love you dearly and I will miss you.
Especially this year.
Ex Oh Ex Oh, Mrs.Flinger. Always.
**My gal, Jennui suggested, or rather her HUSBAND suggested, this lovely drinking game in which I command, and shall be honored of.
Please, oh please, take photos of you drinking in my honor. Please oh please have a ton of fun and every so often say, “That Mrs. Flinger, boy, sure wish SHE was here. She’d totally snort right now.” And please oh please don’t forget me when you come home. I’ll be right here. Right.Fucking.Here.
As the closing song fills the screen of “180 Degrees South,” several quotes come to mind. I grab my old book, “Buddhism Plain and Simple.” As most of my other inspiring books, it too, has passages underlined with notes in the margins. I find the few I am looking for.
From the film, Yvon says, “The hardest thing in the world is to simplify your life, it’s so easy to make it complex. But what’s important is leading an examined life…” I smile slightly. I know this quote. It’s the quote of so many wise people. Of Thoreau. Of Emmerson. Of Buddah.
“If we’re not careful, we make our lives busy, complicated, and unnecessary…. Our minds become complicated by petty details and wants, and we become ever more confused.” - Buddhism Plain and Simple.
Every traveling spirit I’ve ever met has said this out loud. Or lived it out loud. I’ve written promises to myself of this very nature, filling dozens of journals from my twenties. “To live simply.” It has always been a common theme. A theme I’m reminded of.
It is not selfishness that prompts seeking, although it is self actuating.
“People say you can’t go back but what happens if you get to the cliff and you take one step forward. Or you turn 180 degrees and take one step forward…. Which is progress?” - Doug.
We’ve traveled this road as a family, as individuals, to this place. This end of the road, in a way. This place, the end goal, the space we’ve never talked past. This. In a way, it is the edge of our cliff. Our proverbial cliff.
It is time to step forward by stepping back. It is time to simplify. Change.
“We are a cross between our parents and hippies in a tent.” -Spring Wind.
“I can still turn back. But I will not. I will go over the edge and step into whatever is beyond.” -Beyond the Sky and the Earth
I think about the things I worry of. Ridiculously silly, actually. Bills tend to get paid, however late. People will be disappointed from a forgetful, unorganized me. People forgive. It is this cycle that I live by daily.
I find love in spite of myself.
“If I don’t get on that boat, I know exactly what I’m going home to. If I do, my future is unwritten.” - Jeff.
A good friend recently told me I had an obvious traveler’s soul. “But I haven’t traveled enoughhhh,” I groaned. “But you will. Or you have, maybe in another life. You have the spirit. You say yes. You say yes to adventure every.fucking.time.”
It is both the most loved, and most hated, quality I possess, depending on who is asking the questions.
“The best journeys answer questions, that in the beginning, you didn’t even think to ask.” -Jeff.
I’m ready for the journey. I’m always ready for the journey.
“I know its been hard to take and I know you wanna run. We hope you will stay in one place, and dance before it’s done.” - Coconut Flakes.
Now, it is just finding the proper journey to take. Which way is progress: forward.
**Photo props and suggestion of the movie goes to Ashley. Frankly, most of this whole post does, including the quote about my traveling soul.
**Photo is of me at our climbing wall. Next up: Surfing. Kayaking. And a real.honest.to.goodness.wall. This summer will not be boring. Booyah.
God he is slow. Why is he going so slow? He is old. He can not drive well, as indicated by the dangling Handicap sign from his rear view mirror. This should be a clue to me to back off. He is trying. He is my elder. But he is making me late to Yoga.
And ohmygod I can not miss Yoga. Not today. Not today.
It becomes nearly comical as he pumps his breaks slowing to 25mph down the 35mph hill. COOOMMEEOONNN I groan. “Just put it in third gear, buddy. You can do it”. I’m coaxing him from my own vehicle not far enough back from his. I just want him to go. JUST GO.
If I wasn’t so irritated, I would chuckle when he stops for right on red. He does not go. He will not chance it. Even if it is his right-of-way.
Suddenly I’m remembering leaving church as a child. How everyone would sing their praises, nod in agreement, “let us go forth in peace” they would say together. Within minutes people are bullying one another for the chance to leave first. To cut off another parishioner. To get as far away from there as possible. It’s a classic joke, the church people and their parking lot. Always living in hypocrisy.
It’s a wonder I make it just as my Yoga instructor is about to lock the door and start class. As I almost always do, I breeze through the door a little too quickly. “Hi!” I kick off my shoes breathlessly. “You are just in time,” my strong grandmother Yoga instructor smiles. I tell her of the old man and of how I am not living my practice when I am late to class. “It’s all the more reason to come,” she says in the same tone she uses to instruct each of us in to positions. Her tone is so peaceful, strong, empowering. “Yes” I agree. “Yes.”
I often agree with her through our brief time each week together. She laughs easily. She shares stories of her family and her practice. She is living proof that my goals can be reality. She does not take herself too seriously but is serious in her teaching. She corrects us gently, each of us listening to her cadence. “Downward Dog. Warrior Two. Half Triangle. Reverse your Warrior. And. Chaturanga.” We move collectively in the heat. Dripping. Breathing. Listening. Doing. I forget about the old man and his inability to go the speed limit. I forget about the deadline. I forget about the heaviness of life.
Often in those times, I pretend I am somewhere else. The heat. The music. The low, soft breathing of my fellow Yogis. We are here, together, but none of us are truly in this room. We are present in our bodies but we are centered in a bigger place. We fill space with our breath. Our muscles quake. We are tired. We are thirsty.
We are happy.
It is for this reason I speed to class some days. It is not the old man’s fault I am still learning to find this peace outside of that studio. If I could explain to him, I would. “I am young enough to know I want more and old enough to know I have to grab it.” I would explain this to him on his front porch sucking cherries off their pits. We would rock side-by-side and he would nod, years of wisdom behind his eyes. “It is not that I am not happy,” I might continue in this imaginary discussion, “It is that I’m afraid it will not stay.” He will pass on years of understanding and I will lick the cherry juice from my finger.
It is not his fault we did not have this conversation. But next time, perhaps, I’ll remember to leave a few minutes earlier and truly live my practice both before, during, and after my class. It is my goal.
It is good to have goals.
“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”—The Princess Bride
I am an obvious romantic. Spontaneous to a flaw at times. These are not new traits, but rather old traits finally given the freedom to come bubbling back to the surface.
This morning it hits me: I am nearly three months from turning thirty-five. Three months and nine days, actually. I believe it is this deadline, this unspoken milestone, that I can either harness or buckle under. I’m choosing to harness it.
A very dear friend of mine, also undergoing a mid-life crisis, spoke to someone about it. “Ahhhh,” the therapist said, “A mid-life crisis. Yes. Those are great. They move you forward.”
I am moving forward.
Earlier this year, I remembered my “bucket-list” that I wrote at the tender age of 22. I shuffled through my journals, pages and pages of angst and written pathetic poetry, to find the list of fifty things I thought important enough to accomplish before I die. I’ve since modified this list, only slightly, to include bigger, more worldly ideas and sometimes smaller, more reasonable ones.
I will, in part, take from this list in the next three months to move forward before I hit thirty-five.*
It is in this vein that I plan to accomplish the following. I say this out loud, to you, because so many of you are part of this list. My boot-camp girls, My yoga instructor. My parents. My sister. My spouse. My village. My online-community. You each hold value in my life beyond written words and unspoken thanks. You help me achieve, encourage, and love. Without you, there could be no list.
1. It is always been a goal to be in, arguably, the best shape of my life by thirty-five. I will… WILL… accomplish this. I have Ashley here, my village at bootcamp, my yoga instructor, my friend Theron, my undergraduate degree (it must be worth something, right? exercise and sports science must be a tiny bit applicable here) and my motivation. There is no excuse. None.
2. I will have the book outlined, started, and submitted to several publishers. (If it was up to me, I would write here, “Accepted by a publisher” but instead, I will focus on things that *I* can control.) I’m changing this slightly, as I will eventually get my PhD but for now, I have a variation on a theme to submit a more public, user-friendly book on a topic I am passionate about. Too many of you offered to buy my pathetically dry dissertation. I would never do that to you. You inspired me to write something you might, possibly, maybe, slightly enjoy. Thank you.
3. I will return to Europe before my birthday. Since I was five, I’ve wanted to go to Germany. Growing up hearing about Germany and the years my parents lived there, it is by far the One.Single.Place I must go. In some ways it’s where I was born. Or, rather, in truth, “created.”
4. My focus will be on Yoga, breathing, knowing. Kayaking. Hiking more. Camping. Enjoying. These are things that always bring me peace and are crucial to cultivating the person I want to be.
5. I will accomplish all these things completely, totally, utterly sober. By the time my birthday rolls around again, I will have a lovely birthday party with my closest friends and we will drink and celebrate these accomplishments. I will serve strong drink, we will laugh heartily, and I may pass out after one. But I will be able to say, with absolute certainty, it is the best most lovely tasting drink in three months.
Here’s to three months and nine days. I promise to write too often, too in depth, too much information. After all of your personal letters about your own mid-life crisis, I can only offer this: You are not alone. We are never alone.
*Here is the list in entirety:
A truth I’ve known about myself for years: I have a very strong flight instinct. Some people stay and fight, some people flee. I am of the latter.
I’d make a fantastic bird.
“We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly!” - Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
There is a culmination of events recently taken place that leads me back to this instinct. When trying to remember exactly what happened, or when perhaps, I can only begin a long list of items bringing me to this truth: I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave.
In searching for my most beloved books, as I always do when complex thoughts dominate my mind-space, I realize I’ve read no less than dozens and dozens of traveling books. Essays of people who experience a world, write about it, and sell it to housewives and mothers of small children grounded in their piles of laundry and diapers and weeding. This single fact never yelled at me louder than it does at this time. I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave.
Opening one of the biggest inspirations during my mid-twenties, Beyond the Sky and the Earth, I find pages highlighted and dog-eared. This is how I love my books, they answer questions with scribbled notes and sometimes tear-stained pages. I find I’ve highlighted several passages at the start. “It was more than feeling that I was going to wake up one morning soon trapped in my future. .. I wanted to throw myself into an experience that was too big for me and learn in a way that cost me something.” “It wasn’t that my life felt unreal to me, it just seemed very…. small.”
I remember thinking this as I prepared for graduate school in Houston. I remember hating the thought of living in Texas another minute, let alone three years. I remember the moment I decided to move back to the northwest and the intensity of joy that came along with that decision. It was no coincidence I read this book during this transition ten years ago.
My god, has it been that long?
At the time I was seeking, and finding, something worth fighting for. Something, and someone, I could wrap a future around. A home. A family. A dream of the big house and the big yard.
The exact same dreams that are closing in like clouds in a valley. A valley I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave.
Aren’t I supposed to want all these things? The house. The children. The stability. The yard. Haven’t I all but just begged/cried/died-a-little to have all this? So why does a quaint flat in England sound so appealing? Why does having two bowls, three cups and two forks seem like all I truly need in a kitchen?
My best friend in Jr. High always wanted to be a mother. It was the thing she was most looking forward to. I was ambivalent at best with the notion of children, but at 12 and 13, it seemed an appropriate emotion. I ran in to her years later at a grocery store, her in the mini-van with two children and one on the way, married and happy. I was planning my escape from Houston, graduate school, still holding the same ambivalence for the idea of reproducing.
At twenty-four, that was also an appropriate emotion. At thirty-four with two children? It is not.
It’s an old old cliche, “Marriage is hard work.” To me, it has never seemed appropriate and down-right wrong at times. “Marriage is hard work.” No. Children are hard work. Balancing work and home is hard work. Losing baby weight is hard work. Marriage? Being with that person you decided you loved more than any current, or future, person in the entire world for ever and ever? That’s not hard work. That’s fucking lunacy.
But we sign up for it. All of us. And we hope to god it works out on the other side.
And it does.
Most of the time.
Or, I suppose, realistically, about half the time.
So you talk to your spouse. You confess the flight pattern. You explain it all in words with tears and hicups and sobs and stammers. There is no logic. There is only emotion, raw and aching and real. No logic to fall back on, to explain, to analyze.
There is only that single list of events, culminating to this place, and a partner wondering what the fuck happened to his wife. And his wife wondering what the fuck happened.
It is not that we’re even in a place most other married people don’t get to. It’s that we are. We are exactly in that place where every single married person has been. And driving home, as quickly and as tearfully as possible, I had only two words running over and over narrating my thoughts, “Fix. It.”
We got married on the top of a small mountain on a tiny island off the north-western corner of the “lower forty-eight” states. My dress was twenty dollars from Ross and I wore my favorite combat boots I purchased at a consignment store for six dollars. It was November and a tiny group of our closest friends stood outside in the freezing cold with us.
I have never, once, ever regretted not having a big fancy white-dress wedding.
With increasing frequency, however, the subject of my Dissertation has entered casual conversation. I submitted a proposal I still have a passion for, so much so that when a poor soul asks me about it I launch in to an entire discussion until their eyes glaze over and they begin to drool. It’s a great topic, honestly. I deferred after getting pregnant with my first and again when we moved from Oregon to Seattle. It was at this point I had our second child and safely placed that dream on a high shelf in the nursery.
I keep going back to that shelf, however.
About a year ago a client innocently asked me about my graduate degree. I launched in to the usual discussion about my Masters and continued on in to my passion for Women in Computer Science and shockingly did not see his eyes glaze over. I tossed out my dissertation topic and he actually became interested. As a publisher (did I mention that part?) his eyes lit up and he proclaimed, “YOU NEED TO WRITE THAT BOOK.” This is the start of a nagging fact I’ve desperately tried to ignore: I want to write that book.
In the past twelve months, I’ve become more aware exactly how often I find myself thinking of applications for my research, re-visiting the possibilities, the correlations, the outcome. As a theme, it returns more often than any other. There comes a point where thinking becomes talking, talking becomes analyzing, and analyzing becomes doing.
I believe it’s time to seriously consider the doing.
*Related Post from 2009: Four Generations Of Working Moms
I have a laundry list of random bits I’ve believed because my parents told me so. Sometimes as an adult, I’ll start to say something, stop, and realize I’m uttering complete and total bullshit. Bullshit which I’ve heard a million times from my parents.
I probably need to see a counselor about such matters but instead, I will tell you.
I’ve posted about the day I realized my mother lied to me. We were on the airplane heading back to Houston after a visit to Portland, OR, and she sighed, “Oh, I forgot to replace the toilet paper in our bathroom.” I was about seven and looked up in her face, “Why? Can’t Daddy do it?” “He apparently doesn’t’ know how, sweetie.”
Seven year olds do not get sarcasm.
And so the minute we landed in Houston, pulled up in to our drive way, I ran inside to see if Dad did learn how to put the toilet paper back on. Apparently, he had. I announced how proud I was to him and my mother laughed saying, “I told her you didn’t know how.”
This was the day I learned I was sometimes being fed a complete line of shit.
Since then I’ve managed to accumulate a laundry list of things I believe because I was told. All complete utter shit. For example:
“If you eat burnt chips your cheeks will be rosy the next day.”
“If you eat the crust of your bread, your hair will be curly. Just ask Bama. See how curly her hair is? She always eats her crust.”
“Don’t touch the insects on the can of RAID or they will become real and crawl on you.” *(this one is utterly scarring)
“When you see a car with one head-light you yell, ‘SPADOODLE’ and lick your finger, place it in your palm and stamp it. Then you can make a wish.”
“The toilet water goes the opposite direction in a flush in Australia.” (Seriously, I don’t even know if this is bullshit or not. I HAVE NOT BEEN THERE. Please to clarify for me.)
“If you find a penny that is heads up, put it in your shoe for good luck.”
“Breaking a mirror is seven years of bad luck.”
“If you knock the salt over, toss some over your shoulder.” (I actually witnessed a guy doing that in a restaurant about week ago. Got salt all over the person in the booth behind him. #brilliance
But one I’ve never heard? One I’m only just now learning as an adult? Bird Poop is good luck.
Did you know this? Being shit on my a bird is GOOD LUCK?
I found out after posting on twitter my actual image of said exploitation.
Seriously. And I thought the bullshit ended as a child, people. Either way, I did make a wish. Because I AM THAT GULLIBLE. And also in desperate need of wishes.
What else am I missing? Any other random bits of facts you live by without actual cause? Or is it just me. (Tell me it’s not just me)
Growing up, I remember the Fourth of July in Houston probably in the same way you would any other city. We had a BBQ with our neighbors. Us kids would ride our hot-wheels while the parents drank sweet tea and chatted. There would be some music piping from the window of my parent’s house and inevitably someone would start dancing in rhythmic gyrations resembling a dying catfish. These are what memories I hold and expectations I have of our Country’s birth.
The fourth is very similar to me now as an adult. This time, though, I am the one drinking the sweet tea. (Or hard cider. Come to think of it, I don’t actually know what my parents were really drinking. Sweet Tea may have meant “vodka and tea” but I’m not sure.) We have the same small town parade crowding our tiny main street. We have the same neighborhood BBQs and the same fireworks and the children riding their bikes in the street 28 years later. I live in a city nearly 2,500 miles away and nearly 25 years have passed since my small-town fourth experience in Texas, but it’s so familiar I can feel the Houston humidity and hear the trumpets blaring out of my dad’s stereo.
Tradition is, by definition, familiar.
The people I shared this fourth with remind me of my parent’s friends all those many years ago. It’s a different vantage point I have now, but the concept is the same. The saying is “it takes a village” and to me, I am honored to have women in my village whom I not only count on, but who make me stronger as a woman myself. They provide tradition, familiarity, comfort, and compassion. It is with this village we celebrated yesterday in a place I call my home. However much I sometimes wish to flee, it is comforting to have such an amazing support system here which grounds my wings as often as it provides opportunity for flight.
15 guests here now.