29 June 2010

Somewhere in the in-between

I've been reading several books lately, at the same time. I know that probably sounds ridiculous, so let me explain a little more.

One I'm reading, called A Postcard from the Volcano, is historical fiction. It's a serious book, with heavy and thought-provoking themes. It's about Germany and all its historical and political angst between WWI and WWII. It could be required reading for a college history course. I love it. But, I can't read it in bed, because when I am reading in bed, I usually make it for about 15 minutes before I doze off. Reading something like this requires more brain power and it also requires me to not be asleep. So I'm moving through it more slowly, saving it for when I have time during the day (not often) so I can really concentrate and follow it.

These other two books I'm reading inspired the title for my post.

I'm re-reading Eclipse, because the movie is coming out this week, and I'm going to go see it with one of my Twi-Mom friends, and call me whatever you will, I love that dang Twilight series. It's overly angst-y (I like that word today) and dramatic and all high-school-girl-swoony-romantic, but I can't help myself. I love it. Yes, I know I'm a good 20, maybe 25 years older than the target audience. I get that I probably look silly waiting in line for tickets to Eclipse. Whatever. Even my single-digit-age boy children laugh at me for my not-so-secret obsession. Again, whatever. I'm Team Edward, all the way.

And I'm also reading a book called Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert. She is the author of Eat, Pray, Love, and Committed is the follow-up of sorts to that story. In a nutshell, the author, having been through a gut-wrenching divorce and having sworn off the institution of marriage, finds herself in a relationship with a man who is a citizen of another country. He has also been through a horrible, gut-wrenching divorce and they are perfectly matched in their desire to A) be with one another and B) not be joined in holy matrimony. They lead this multi-continental life together, staying in many places for a time, but never too long, until one day their jig is up and his American visa is revoked. So, they either have to live somewhere besides America or get married, making him a citizen. For this couple with their horror of marriage, it's quite a quandary.

Now, to be fair, I'm still in the early part of the book, and so I don't know yet how it turns out. Right now, I'm reading through the author's historical research on the institution of marriage, and what it actually means in other cultures. And it ain't all that romantic. Or holy. In fact, it sounds like a rather cynical view of marriage, where it's all about survival (safety in numbers) or power (arranged marriages to keep rich landowners rich). And there are lots of Biblical references to Jesus and His apostles instructing men not to get involved with women at all, to remain celibate and follow Him, and ONLY get married as a last resort if one simply could not follow the higher path.

So, on the one hand, there is a book written for teenage girls, idealizing and romanticizing the notion of being together for all eternity and how loving the right boy (and giving up your whole identity and free will to him) will complete you as a person. In this book in the series, Edward and Bella decide to seal their fates together and get married. Bella does have some reservations about getting married at 18, but the overall theme is still the same, that loving (marrying) the right boy makes everything ok.

And on the other hand is a book that starts out with the quote, "Plant an expectation, and reap a disappointment." With joined gold wedding bands as the cover art and a title like Committed. Cynical, I tell you!

A contradiction of sorts, yes?

I didn't choose to read these two together purposely, but I find it an amusing coincidence. In my admittedly limited experience of relationships and marriage, I have found the truth of the matter to be somewhere in the in-between of the two extremes illustrated in my summer reading. Sometimes I expect a whole lot of my spouse and my marriage...I expect him to just know when I'm having a bad day, and I expect him to somehow make it better. I expect fulfillment and happiness from being a wife and a mother (among other things). And it just flat pisses me off when things don't work out that way. Making me feel somewhat, dare I say it, cynical.

My husband is a good guy and a great dad, whom I would choose over and over again. But is he perfect? Can he magically make my bad day all better? Can he read my mind and soothe every anxiety and fear I harbor? No. To me, the more relevant question is, should he be expected to? I also have to answer that with no.

What do these books tell us about our society, our expectations, our relationships? Are they reflective of real truths, or are they just one woman's ideas?

And what are the odds that I'd pick up these two at the same time?!

04 June 2010

Everybody's doing it

Apparently, it's "post your most embarrassing moment" week in blog-world.

Everybody's doing it.

Hmmmm, so many to choose from....there was the time I had gone into my office, shortly after the birth of my first child, to show him off. Now mind you, I worked in a flying squadron in the Air Force. Perhaps not the most baby-friendly environment one could think of. My boss was Lt. Col D, a tall, solid-built pilot with a booming voice that, with his Georgia accent, sounded remarkably like Foghorn Leghorn. Lt Col D was out of his office for a meeting (super top secret code for "at the golf course") and the baby needed to eat. I closed myself into his office after securing promises of privacy and interference-running for the following 20 minutes or so, from the folks who worked right outside his office. Not twenty seconds into nursing the baby, Lt Col P flings the door open, hollering, "Hey Bill!" scaring the crap out of me, the baby and then also himself. Thanks for running interference for me, guys. Just a couple of weeks before that, I had been just one of the guys in a flight suit in the squadron. I think we both came away from that incident scarred. I still have a hard time looking him in the eye.

Or perhaps the time I was with one of my darling offspring in a public restroom. Said offspring was in the process of potty training at the time of the incident. I sat down to, um, do my business, and as I finished, said offspring cheered me, saying, "Good job Mommy! I KNEW you could do it!" Hmm, wonder where he heard that before?

Maybe it's the time I had tried to take all three of my lovely children to Mass by myself, when Captain America was away on a trip. Ages of lovely children were 8, 6 and 3. The 8 and 6 year olds were ok, but the 3 year old was having none of it. He refused to take his winter coat off, which was fine. But then he needed to lay down on the kneelers, and as I tried to pick him up with that coat on, I ended up poking him with my thumb. Hard. During a quiet, reflective moment of the Mass, my child had a quiet and reflective screaming fit: "OWW!! MOMMY! You poked me! That really hurt! Why did you poke me?!" I didn't mean to poke him but after his outburst, during which every single person in church was staring at us, I would have gladly poked him on purpose. Hard.

There are many to choose from, and I don't know if I can definitively say which one was the most embarrassing.

Oh, you didn't think I was going to pull out the really good stuff, did you? I have so many ways in which I have embarrassed myself that I could talk for a couple of days without getting to the good stuff. How much time do you have? ;)

A sign, perhaps?

I've been reading a few blogs lately, here and here and here, that have got me thinking. They've all recently had posts in the last few days about writing: finding time for writing, dreaming of writing, writing about writing.

I'm not always very consistent with writing, but I love to write. Some say I'm pretty good at it. I have, on occasion, gotten paid to do it. I've got stuff to say.

But the thing is, what I have to say, the stories I have to tell, I haven't written down. Yet.

Why? Heh.

It's this little thing I like to call, life. I'm a mom. I have kids who need, demand and deserve my attention. I'm a student. And it's important to me to dedicate myself to my studies. Thankfully they're almost over for the time being, but they're not over yet. I'm a USAF reservist, and my commander expects things from me, and rightly so. He expects me to fulfill my obligations, to show up and do my job (writing!) and all of the other things that come with the uniform. All kinds of extra requirements that would be a whole other post. Maybe someday. Oh, and I also have a house to keep somewhat cleaned up, clothes that need washed and put away, a refrigerator that I must fill with food now and then, and a husband who, heaven knows why, wants to spend time with me and also deserves my attention. Friends I'd like to see and talk to once in a while. You see where I'm going with this.

Hmm. Where did I fit writing in again?

But, I have stuff to say. A story to tell. If God has given me a gift, I'd like to think it is the written word. I have snippets of stories I've written, that are part of the whole. Some pieces are my own experiences and some belong to others. I have a couple of people I trust to read my unvarnished, un-proofread work, raw and emotional, sometimes funny and insightful, but all me, my heart and soul. They tell me what I have so far is good and it's compelling. Keep working at it, this is good, they say. I just need to find the time. But there's more.

I want desperately to tell my story, to see my words in print.

But I'm afraid too. I understand that publishing is a tough, tough business to break into. I am not sure my skin is thick enough yet. I'm afraid of telling this story that means so much to me, and nobody cares.

I'll get over those fears, I know. Even the best authors have been rejected a gazillion times. So, I'll be in good company, if I ever get the thing done and sent off to someone who might possibly want to consider putting my heart and soul between a front cover and a back cover.

I had to get up in the middle of this post to take the dog out, take a kid's temperature who seems to be coming down with something and on way to get the Tylenol, discovered the ice-maker hemorrhaging water onto the kitchen floor. And Captain America is somewhere between LA and Salt Lake City. Where he is of no use to me in this situation ;)

See what I mean about life?