Len – A Character Sketch

The following is a character sketch written as part of a series of artistic challenges to take place through out February. It is an awesome idea Dez had and I look forward to what is next:

It was hard not to watch him as he moved across the classroom. Thick, black, hair stuck out from underneath a well worn baseball cap and curled slightly around his ears. You wouldn’t know it was his first day in a new school. His ease was impressive. His crooked smile even more so.

It’s funny what you remember the most about a person, even after all the time that has passed.

Len was more of a man than a boy when he came to our school. I guess most 18 year olds are more men, at least physically, by that point. Built strong, as my grandmother would say. It was the end of our senior year when he, and his family, moved to our little backwoods area from the big city of Lexington.

As he moved down the aisle, he nodded his hellos to those paying any attention to him. Sitting himself down into the desk beside mine, I couldn’t help but smell the faintest hint of cologne and see the off color patches on his denim vest. The flannel shirt underneath was wrinkled, but clean.

I looked at him constantly throughout that class period, stealing glances when I thought he was writing notes in his composition book. The stubble growing on his face was the same color of his hair, with flashes of red throughout. His blue jeans were torn at the knees, and his tennis shoes were plain and scuffed. His accent, when he answered questions, was not nearly as pronounced as ours, but light and charming.

It was after answering a question that he caught me looking at him. I knew then that I had blown it, as only a 17 year old can know that kind of devastation without proof. My chance to meet someone who didn’t know me, who I wasn’t “just a friend” to, was over before it had started.

Red faced, I looked down at the floor. Then – for a reason I still can’t truly explain – I looked back up and he was still looking at me…waiting…and smiling that crooked smile that I was already falling in love with.

Hello…
Hello….

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Run Away, Run Away!

A friend recently asked me, in so many words, how I handle living here in eastern Kentucky because I don’t belong here. In all honesty, it is probably one of the nicest things anyone has said to me.
Before anyone gets too fired up, I took it as a compliment not because I hate my home, but because it feels like I have defeated the stereotype.
Unlike the image of the ignorant hillbilly that has been burnt into the social consciousness, this person sees me for who I am – an art loving, Star Wars fan that loves to travel and learn….a person that refuses to be defined by where she is from, but, at the same time, is trying to find the positive in living in an area that is, sadly, dying.
I don’t plan on discussing the economic life blood of my home (it’s coal, if you weren’t aware). I could give you my thoughts on how a middle ground could be reached to improve the area, both economically and environmentally, but that is for another day.
Right now, it’s taking a lot not to run away. To run far and fast towards something different, something promising, something – anything! – other than……other than this place where progress seems to be stalled by greed, corruption, and snuffed out by those who don’t see beyond their own bottom line.
I moved back home for a variety of reasons – to heal a broken heart, figure out my next step, spend time with my family. It’s the spending time with my family that is keeping me here…for now. Beyond that, and the fact that I love the students I work with, there really isn’t a lot to hold on to.
I’ve become very proficient and making the arguments to myself to justify staying: It is easier to hop in the car and go spend one…two…seven days somewhere else and then come home to family and some close friends. In this Age of the Internet and interstate highways, that long distance affairs can be maintained – and I believe they can be, if both parties are interested. Anything is possible if you try….right?
What I want is it all. I want access to things that will make my life more vibrant and what I want it to be, but I also want to be an active member of my family, spending time with them and having those all too precious memories with them.
As those who float into and out of my life keep reminding me, you can’t have all the things, all the time. I also can’t keep running away; from home, from possibilities, from the uncertain, from x, y, and z, from myself.
At some point a decision will have to be made. It will be difficult, it may not make a lot of people happy, but it will have to be done for myself. Until that day, I will keep making choices and decisions that let me be happy and hope that, along the way, where I should be becomes a little clearer.
At the end of the day, I’m just getting tired of running.

Good at hats, bad at selfies

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This is my Hurricane Hat knitted in Araucania Nature Wools. I love how this yarn is kettle dyed resulting in such a pleasant semi-solid color. The pattern cleverly takes advantage of knitting in a spiral to showcase a traveling purl stitch. I plan on making some mittens out of the same yarn, with which I am currently in love. As is, the hat is a little snug on my head and might make a good gift depending on how it turns out post block. Having had this project on my needles for months, I wish I’d finished in sooner!

My sage advice after my first year as a parent

One year ago, I gave birth to the coolest baby I have ever known! Of course I’m biased! As I’m reflecting on the past year, I realize I’ve learned a lot! So, because I’m mom now to a 1 year old, I feel I should share what I’ve learned so far! Im no expert, and I have so much more to learn. So, you know, let me be proud of these few things!

1. It’s one of the hardest jobs I’ve had so far.

I’ve had a lot of jobs, and they’ve all had their struggles, but being a mom can be tough, especially when you decide stay home. It’s non stop, and you feel the need to be perfect 24/7. Here’s the thing, you can’t. Your job is literally 24/7! It’s an emotional roller coaster! But, the rewards will outweigh those hard times.
One day when Lily was just a few months old, I had the hardest time getting her down for a nap. She was fussy, I was fussy, and she was still up throughout the night. Finally, I calmed down, found my happy place, and she fell asleep! I laid her down, danced a jig, and passed out myself! I’m sure that happened a hundred times! But what I remember most is how much I loved watching her sleep. For being the toughest, it’s the most rewarding.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

I tried so hard to breast feed. It was so important to me, and Lillian latched on so well, from the second they handed her to me! One problem; my milk never came in. By 6 months I maybe produced 4 ounces a day. A DAY! My baby drank 4 ounces at least every 2 hours. I pushed myself so hard, pumping and nursing, then still giving her formula. I was miserable, and I battled with the decision to stop. I finally decided that if by 6 months it wasn’t working, then I was going to quit. So, at 6 months, I stopped breast feeding. It was emotional, but I had so much time now! I could play more with the baby, I could take more time to care for myself, and, it was easier to travel when I didn’t have to carry all the equipment. I realized how much more fun raising a baby is once I stopped being so hard on myself.

Don’t compare your baby or parenting style to the family’s next door

Just don’t. I’ve heard too many stories of people making moms feel bad for the choices they make (such as breast VS bottle). I mean sure, it’s going to happen, you’re going to see a parent doing something you would never do with your little one, just keep it to yourself, don’t say anything to them.
Also, don’t feel like the things they are doing, is something you have to do! I made my own purées as well as bought jarred baby food. One is not better than the other. I just love to cook, and it was exciting to watch my baby enjoy food I cooked! Parents have to do what’s best for their situation.

Pick your battles

Our pediatrician says this to us all the time! Do we let her cry it out tonight, or just give her a bottle and go back to sleep? Do you keep wasting wipes cleaning that teething ring she keeps throwing on the floor (cause it’s fun!) or do you wipe it on your shirt and give it back! There are things you will try incredibly hard to teach your kids, then there are things you’re going to have to say “fuck it” and move on. Yes. You will literally say “aww fuck it” and move on!

Keep your sense of humor

Our OB told us at every visit after we had a good laugh at how miserable I felt “keep your sense of humor! You’re doing great!” Even after having a stomach bug when I was around 6 months prego, I laughed and said “well, I didn’t die, so I guess I’m okay!”
There have been so many moments that could have ended in a serious break down if I didn’t just let go and laughed! The same week Lillian started walking, she started climbing. She climbed better than she walked! There is nothing that can keep this kid contained! I have had days that I literally did not sit down until I put her down for naps! If I didn’t laugh…I would have pulled out my hair!

Appreciate your significant other

Both partners have to remember; this isn’t easy on either side. Me and my husband can admit that neither of us have it easier/harder than the other. Some days we would love to say, I need a break! I do so much more with the kid than you do! But truly, that’s not fair. My husband works all day, then comes home and takes over so I can get some alone time. Sometimes I’ll go stay with my parents and give him some time off. You have to take time for yourself! I will go for a walk, go to Target, take a bath and shave my legs, go to another room and read a book or magazine. Even if it’s just 30 minutes, do it! Don’t feel bad about it. It gives you the fuel to keep moving on.

My last bit of advice I got from my mother-in-law before she died, and it rings true every day. The best is yet to come. I already know from how fast the past year has gone, before I know it, Lillian will be packing up to go to college. Or preschool. (I will probably feel just as broken hearted for both occasions). Enjoy every moment, don’t let yourself look back and say “damn, I wish I had done more”. Just do it! Take that extra picture, spend a little more time cuddling, get in all the kisses you can! Life is too short not to.
Happy birthday my little Lily Bean!
You have broken us in well.

The Tiniest Cuts Tend To Bleed The Most

I didn’t even feel it nick my skin. It wasn’t until I saw the line of blood stretching from my heel to my calf that I realized I had even cut myself. To look at the amount of blood, you would have thought it a terrible gash, but it isn’t. Just a small slice…the faintest line…and all that blood poured from it. A piece of toilet paper stops the bleeding somewhat, and it clots quickly, but it still looks worse than it is.
I don’t want to clean it up yet, afraid that moving the dried seal will cause it to start again. It can wait. I remind myself it’s okay to let the stain sit for a moment, to let the wound heal itself some, before trying to wash it away.
All I can think about is how this small cut is a good representation of how I’ve felt lately.
It’s the smallest things that seem to cut the most. The sudden stop of communication. The off hand remark about not wanting to commit to something as small as a meeting at some time, in some central place. The rejection, how ever gentle…small slices from which sadness, anger, pain flows.
I am not innocent of giving these small cuts. Like those towards me, it’s not intentional, it’s in how it’s taken. Still, when you are already bleeding, it doesn’t take much to let the other pains shine through as well.
A nick on the heel. A bruise on the thigh. The never the same broken heart will re-break so easily. A wound that never truly heals right.
No matter how hard it seems that I try to follow my heart, it leads me to the same place over and over again. It’s a story we all know. It’s a story in which I have played the villain and the heroine, the witch and the loved. Currently, I feel as if I am the damned. The one cruelly cursed to help others find their heart’s desire while I can never find my own. People can argue that there have been chances, opportunities – like I said, I’ve been the villain as much as anything else.
Is this the punishment that a god or karma has put on me? Have I been so cruel in this life or another to deserve such loneliness? I can’t and won’t believe that. I’ve just not found the person that matches me, but, one day I will. Or I won’t.
I will keep trying, though. It’s all I can do.
At least I’ll have this to refer to when I need another pep talk.
Funny all that from a streak of blood from the heel to the calf.

The Low Spark Of A Newly High Heeled Girl

I tend to add soundtrack music to my day. It’s not an intentional or a conscious act, it just happens. Something occurs and I think of a song…and honestly, it doesn’t make much sense most of the time. So, after I bought my first real pair of high heeled shoes, it was only natural that Traffic’s epic song, “The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys,” came to mind.

Yeah….totally natural.

I have purchased high heeled shoes before. A pair or two for weddings, my proms, but beyond that, the rare high heeled shoe was purchased not because I wanted them, but for what I thought they would help me with.
THOSE heels would help me be more attractive, sexy, wanted, enter adjective of choice here.
I truly believed that the problems I was having with my relationship, and with my self image, would totally be fixed by THOSE shoes.

Crazy…right? Not really. People project on to things all the time. To me, THOSE heels, were what attractive women wear. Women who are sexy, wear THOSE shoes. It never dawned on me that I was just so desperately unhappy with myself, my situation, that I was throwing out any kind of line to anything I thought would help. Hindsight..am I right?!

So, THOSE shoes obviously didn’t do what I thought they would. They were worn once, and I didn’t feel any better. THEY didn’t work. I threw the shoes into the closet, got rid of them eventually, and didn’t buy heels for a long time.
During that “long time,” I made some changes, learned some things about myself, gained some confidence, and have finally gotten to a point where I truly feel more like me – as cheesy and cliché as that sounds.

I wear pop culture t-shirts with skirts. I like dressing up, playing with makeup, and watching football. My Chuck Taylors are my work shoes and I will write some pretty explicit things because I think it’s fun.

Too much information? Did I mention I will over share because I like being straight forward and don’t particularly like, or understand, the games men and women play with each other.

What does all this mean? It means that the high heeled shoes I purchased Friday, the shoes I have been practicing walking in, are MY shoes. THEY don’t cause me to feel more attractive, or wanted, but are an accessory that accentuates how I already feel the majority of the time, which is not half bad, but not always great. I have many moments during the day when I question myself, where I wonder why I’m alone, or what role I’m acting out in this world. Still, thanks to lessons learned, I can get past those doubts and keep moving forward because that is what I, and I believe most people, do.

Don’t misunderstand, I don’t feel I am anyone special…I’m just me…and I happen to want to rock these blue, faux suede, high heeled shoes. I want everyone to rock that thing – that dress, that coat, that haircut – that thing they are afraid of making them stand out when all they want to do is stay hidden because they aren’t sure about themselves.

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Hard to get a good pic when you don't have a dressing mirror.

The shoes don’t make me anything in particular, but I make them pretty awesome – rather, I will make them awesome when I learn to walk in them and not look like a baby horse stumbling around.

My buffalo chicken tacos

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For our 1 year wedding anniversary, my husband took us (me and the baby!) out to this new Mexican restaurant we have in town called Coba Cocina. It has this beautiful fish tank, and the food is delicious! It’s a very modern take on some Mexican dish favorites. We had nachos for an apetizer; they were individually made nachos. Amazing!
My inspiration for today’s recipe came from the delicious buffalo chicken tacos I had! At Coba Cocina, they lightly fried the chicken, then covered it with delicious buffalo sauce, and topped it with a coleslaw. Since, I couldn’t fry to save my life, and I’m a busy mom, I came up with a recipe that takes 5 minutes to put together, and you let the crock pot do the rest!

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