I'm so glad to be in Arizona. So. Glad. I am spending happy hours doing ordinary things with people I love, like taking a walk with my sister and getting churros and fro-yo at Costco with her and her kids. I've been sitting next to my mom on the couch watching Andy Griffith and Blue Bloods and Fox News and taking selfies and joking about how she actually looks so much like the Voldemort face in the first Harry Potter movie that it's uncanny. (Yes, she is that kind of woman, the kind who, at 93 lbs, bald, and fragile from chemo, can laugh when her goofy daughter persists with the Voldemort comparisons).
I LOVED the work I did at STITCHES West last week. I got to know Chuck and we helped make a difference for an awesome charity that matters so much to me now. Knitted Knockers provides soft, knitted breast prosthetics for women who have had mastectomies. I love the way that my camera has helped me get to know people in the fiber arts industry that I haven't always had the guts to talk to. I love taking pictures of a world that I know from the inside out. It feels like a real, professional home.
With all that awesomeness, my mind is like a browser window with too many tabs open. There's the main one I just described:
Arizona, Feb. 25 2016:
- Gorgeous light and warmth
- Sitting by my mom's side
- Making my dad laugh
- Catching up on knitting
- Only structure or schedule that I choose
- Time to dream and plan my trip to England and Iceland
- A walk under perfect skies toward the sunset
- Facetime with my son and his family to see my new little granddarling.
At the same time, there was this tab (or actually, it was like each of these thoughts was a separate tab or a horrible pop-up:
Maryland, Feb. 25 2016:
- Something in MD that I thought I had handled has fallen apart
- It was the biggest single moving part in the machine to keep Lisa moving forward
- I did my best
- The problem has to be solved by Tuesday
- It's incredibly important for Lisa.
- If I opt out and don't help will she work it out on her own?
- If I help solve the problem, am I doing too much?
- Is it fair to let other people handle this?
- I need to focus on my family
- This is why my blood pressure is high
- Oh look, Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups, yep, I'll have another one
I knew I was doing it--the focusing too much on things I shouldn't, and at one point, I did opt out. I felt resentful and even a little angry at the situation, and I excused myself. So I didn't cry. Or get mad at people. I got out of the middle, and I actually don't know what's happening now. It's both lovely and unnerving.
I really am working hard to close the other tabs and just be HERE, and here is where the book comes in. The one I'm going to review soon.
It's called Can't Wait to Get to Heaven. By Fannie Flagg.
It's a simple story, told in a down-home kind of way, but here's the weird thing. It was a book book, as I call them. Not an audio book. I heard that down-home voice only in my head, and that is a tiny miracle. Let me explain. For months now, other things have seemed so important that nearly all of my "reading" has taken place via listening while doing something else. While I clean, while I make the bed, while I do dishes, while I drive, or knit or fly on a plane, or sew, or whatever. Never JUST reading. (And pardon all the capitalized yelling. It's possible my eyes have a slightly wild look in them and I might be madly dragging my fingers through my hair each time I pause to think of what to write next.)
Anyway, last NOVEMBER, my dear friend gave me this book and told me to read it, that it would make my life better. And I tried, and tried, and tried, but every time I sat down to do ONE thing, I just couldn't. I would get distracted, or feel guilty about the dishes in the sink or the laundry that wasn't done, or it would be time to go pick up Lisa and I'd get an audiobook or podcast and get to work. Don't get me wrong, I love audiobooks a lot, and multitasking is not the end of the world as we know it, but I have realized that it has been a really, really long time since I really focused entirely on a story, rather than having it in the background.
As I result, I have stopped and started this poor book 87 times in the last 3 months. Till today. Today, in my need to shut out my worry and frustration about a situation happening 2000 miles away over which I have no control, I spent this afternoon and evening closing mind-tabs. I stopped texting about the situation and watched Andy Griffith with my mom. I took that walk in the setting sun without my headphones and instead talked incessantly to the dog about the desert and made sure he would protect me from the coyotes.
And when I got back from not only watching, but listening to the sun go down and the night sounds start, I read a book. With pages. That I had to turn. For hours. Actual hours. I had that thing happen. The one that used to happen when I was a kid: Only the story was there.
And it's a sweet, rich story that teaches about not taking for granted the people we love. And I cried the cleansing, cathartic cry that literature is supposed to provide. I was able to shift my perspective and think about the things going on in the other tabs in my mind's browser in a different way. The book worked that magic that books have always worked if we let them.
And it mattered to me. It's been a long time.