You think it’s bad now? Just wait til you’re dead!

grumpycat
All of us have low days …. Days when we’re tired, when nothing seems to be going right, when our head is cluttered with worries and frustrations. Or days when there’s a problem that we just can’t shake off, and it’s colouring everything grey. Imagine that someone is telling you about their low day or the issue they can’t seem to pull out and pass. What’s your response? Do you offer a hope that things will improve? Do you commiserate, and maybe share a problem of your own, so the person feels less alone? Do you give the person a hug, and tell them you’re thinking of them? Or do you tell them their complaint is no big deal, and that something worse is just around the corner? Wait a minute …. Who would do that? Enough people to justify this rant!

This has happened to me many times. When I was pregnant for the first time, and feeling tired: “Oh, you think you’re tired now? Wait til the baby gets here!” As a new mother, feeling overwhelmed by the needs of a brand-new, very loud, completely helpless human: “Babies are easy! Wait til she’s a toddler.” When Fiona became a toddler, and I was pregnant again, exhausted by the effort of caring for a busy, messy, demanding eighteen-month-old while growing another human inside of me: “Ha, ha – the baby isn’t even born yet! Wait til there are two of them, and one’s up all night and the other’s up all day.” Now, with two lovely-but-sometimes-challenging daughters: “Oh, wait til they’re teenagers – then you’ll know what real problems are! You’ll wish they were eight and six again.” And that’s just the parenting part of my life …. When Ryan and I were newlyweds, there were people who seemed to enjoy grimly reassuring me that we are one day going to be old and fat, and we won’t care about impressing each other or even showing basic consideration for each other. If I mention that we’ve had alot of expenses lately, there’s always someone who eagerly reminds me that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet – one day, we’ll have two kids in college, and retirement coming up. When I’m tired, I don’t bother to say it to some people, because I know they will say “wait til you’re my age – I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in seven years”.

Why, why, why? Why can’t a person’s problem, whatever the size, be heard and acknowledged? Why do some people insist on airing the dreary opinion that time is going to make everything worse? Why can’t these people just put a comforting hand on a weary shoulder, smile and say “I’m sorry this is happening to you; I’m sure things will get better soon”? What is to be gained from trivializing the suffering of others, and smugly asserting that real pain will arrive soon enough?

The next time someone seems to be struggling, don’t be one of those assholes! Be the person who gives kindness and cheer. Let the other person know that you really listened to what they had to say. Tell them you care, offer solutions, or just wish them a better day tomorrow. And if you are one of those assholes, don’t be surprised if all you ever get from me is small talk. You’ve proven that you can’t be trusted with more than the weather and what happened on TV last night.

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Some days are diamonds …. but not this day.

Rocks

Today has not exactly been the highlight of my month. Or even my week. Today has been an exercise in frustration and irritation. I woke up a little later than I should have. So, instead of enjoying the adrenalin boost of my morning work-out, I spent most of the time thinking resentfully about perfect people who don’t even need to work out, and how my work-out (which, despite have been repeated regularly for years, seems to have made no impression on my figure) was just one more thing-to-do in my mountain of things-to-do.

After I had finished up, I headed for the bathroom to get ready for work. The bathroom is a mess. Yes, I know, most mothers who work anywhere but in their home have messy bathrooms, but ours is exceptional today. Why do I let these things go? Then, I saw that our bathroom was not just messy. It had also been frequented by a kid. So, the toilet paper roll was naked, and there was one kleenex stuffed back into the box. The sink was covered with soap swirls and blobs of toothpaste.

My shower made me feel a little better – I was almost cheerful by the time I was ready to wake Fiona and Bridget. However, after realizing that they were both tired, and ready to argue over everything, my mood deflated again. I don’t want this shirt, I want that one. It’s not clean? Why not? How come you didn’t wash it yet? Why do we have to go to school anyway? Why can’t we stay home? I want my hair to go like this, but it keeps going like that. That’s my headband. Uh-uh! It is, too! She looked at me. You know, that kind of look. No, I didn’t! Yes, you did! No, I didn’t! Mommy! I kept my cool until it was time to hand them over to Ryan, who prepares their breakfast when I’m working. At least there’s that ….

Dry my hair, find something to wear, put on make-up – all the while, muttering against the daily grind. Get up, get moving, nag the girls into moving, pile into the car, fight traffic, spend the day at the office trying to focus on office-related tasks (while fending off the relentless chorus of what needs to be done at home, how the girls are doing in school and at daycare – and shouldn’t I be at home with them anyway – what’s for dinner, did I make that phone call I was supposed to make, and oh, no, I forgot a friend’s birthday, and on and on). Leave the office, fight traffic, pester the girls about their homework while tripping over them in an attempt to get dinner on the table at a decent time, help the girls to get ready for bed, sing their lullabies, make tomorrow’s lunches and snacks. Lather, rinse, repeat.

There’s laundry in the dryer, needing to be folded, and dirty laundry in a pile near the washer. A plumber came by last week to fix a couple of things, and I have yet to clean up after him. There’s a wooden panel that used to be part of the ceiling sitting on the floor, and a vile-looking water stain on the ceiling next to the hole left by the panel.  We’re low on groceries. We’re in the middle of the yearly deep freeze that happens between mid-January and mid-February, so leaving the house for any purpose other than snatching the newspaper off the front steps involves a whole lot of fuss.  The ground is white, except where the snow’s dirty, and the sky is a steely grey. Even bare places where the snow has been well-cleared are frosted dull. The wind brings tears to the eyes and pain to the nose and cheeks. On top of all of this, I’m so tired. I’ve always been a poor sleeper, and last week I caught some kind of virus that still has me dragging my feet – and keeps me awake at night, shivering and blowing my nose. I miss Christmas lights, the way they soften the edges of everything and add colour to the drear. And it’s only freaking Tuesday!

Then, though, before Fiona and Bridget even finish their cereal, Ryan appears in the bathroom doorway to tell me there’s cold air coming out of the ducts. Suddenly, the day just as it was seems preferable to whatever we’re facing now. Contingency plans are being generated, voiced and shot down. There’s debate as to what should be the priority – calling our heating company or getting the girls to school on time. Can’t do both. We opt to make the phone call on the way to their school. The girls are late anyway, since precious minutes were wasted running between the furnace and the ducts and the phone and each other.

The furnace technicians are busy (of course), so here I sit, wrapped in a blanket, waiting for them to come when they can fit us in. The plumber’s visit and my new glasses cost us hundreds last week. What’s this going to cost? Who needs this, when we’re already so tired and busy? This latest straw is one too many for my weary, grouchy camel’s back, and I can feel the tears welling up and threatening to spill over. John Denver’s “Some Days Are Diamonds” starts playing in my head. This day is, without question, a rock. Then, I think about John Denver – the feeling when “Rocky Mountain High” or “Take Me Home, Country Roads” comes on the radio. This prompts thoughts of other songs that never fail to lift my spirits and make me sing along. Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend”, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Cotton Jenny”, Daniel Boone’s “Beautiful Sunday”, Katrina & The Waves’ “Walkin’ on Sunshine”, Meatloaf’s “Paradise By The Dashboard Light”, and pretty much anything by Queen …. and more, so many more. The music in my head forces the tears back behind my eyes, and my resiliance returns. I think of other things that make me smile ….

– the bone-deep caress of sinking into a tub of steaming, soapy water after a work-out

– a slow-cooker filled with rich, fragrant chilli waiting for us when we get home from our long day on the go

– a big glass of red wine soaking into my buzzing brain while I read a good book

– the fat wedge of newsprint that arrives every Saturday morning, begging me to pour myself a strong cup of coffee and immerse myself in it

– thick, soft pyjamas and fuzzy slippers

– Easter pastels, and little girls in dresses that make them look like desserts

– the summer sun hitting the river, making it look like God has spilled a handful of coins across the expanse of wavy green water

– the smell of wood smoke and dry leaves, October’s smell, and the impossible blue of a mid-fall sky

– Ryan and me laughing until we can hardly breathe at the jokes that only we know

– making a pizza together on a Saturday evening, knowing that it will taste better than any pizza we’ve ever had because we made it

– Fiona’s animated face as she devours “The Chronicles of Narnia”, and then tells me all about it in a breathless, wonder-filled voice

– Bridget, dark eyes dancing, belting out “Holly Jolly Christmas”, swinging her arms to the beat in her head, even though Christmas was over a month ago

– Ryan and Bridget a few weeks ago, when the whole city was encased in ice, holding onto each other and penguin-waddling toward the school doors, the biggest and the smallest family members suddenly equal

– the warm, sweet-scented cup of tea warming my hands right now

– the extra time I have with Fiona and Bridget, since I picked them up from school rather than them catching the bus to daycare

– the laundry pile that has been conquered, since I had to do something while waiting for the furnace technician to arrive

This day is no longer a stone. It is now a cubic zirconia.

“The smaller the numbers, the bigger the hits!”

music

Tonight’s the night for many music lovers: the Grammys! Every year, the Grammys generate alot of talk. Did you see his face when she was performing? She wore what? Pretty sure he was drunk, or high, or both …. Somebody needs to make insert-poptart-du-jour-here put on a sweater. Why does everyone seem to love that shitty song? They can’t even sing! Was that a mistake, or did he actually mean to do that? Yeah, thought so, mistake. And, of course, somewhere in the middle of it all, we should all feel really, really, really bad about not buying music, and music in schools is going to save us all.

Then, there’s the chance to see musicians who wouldn’t normally collaborate, joining each other in some very fine performances. Last year’s tribute to Levon Helm by a dazzling collection of old and new artists was my favourite Grammy moment, ever. My apologies for the quality of that video; it was the best I could find. I’m still waiting for what I know would be delicious: a joint project by Mavis Staples and Brittany Howard. Somebody, somewhere, make it happen! Anyway. Tonight, Ryan and I will be watching it all from our basement futon, on our little old hard-working box. (Yes, the one he had when I met him. We’re such dinosaurs.)

I recently put together my own year-end chart. It’s my Top 40 of 2013. I presented it to Ryan, who dutifully (and, I might add, enthusiastically) listened to every song. Even the ones that I should only be enjoying in a darkened, sound-proof room, and should never share with anyone. But, since I am a Beth of very little shame, and this is – after all – BethBlog, I am going to share them with you. Complete with YouTube links for the top 10, for your listening and viewing pleasure! Or not …. 😉 

If you’re a purist, you will probably develop an eye twitch over my Top 40, because it includes a small number of songs that came out in 2012. However, if they were still on the charts, and played all over the radio, during 2013, they’re eligible for this list. My methodology is as follows: did I love this song and crank it every time I heard it in 2013? Then it can be on my chart. You probably also pay more than $10 for a bottle of wine, and use measuring tape to hang your pictures. You might even own a smoking jacket. Yay, you!  You’re free to make your own chart, and feature it on your own blog.

Details and asides aside, here we go ….

40. “Do What U Want” by Lady Gaga & R. Kelly

39. “Crash My Party” by Luke Bryan

38. “Stompa” by Serena Ryder

37. “The Dog is Mine” by k-os

36. “Let Her Go” by Passenger

35. “It’s A Beautiful Day” by Michael Buble

34. “Blowin’ Smoke” by Kacey Musgraves

33. “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars

32. “Cups” by Anna Kendrick

31. “Don’t Ya” by Brett Eldredge

30. “Devil’s Got a Gun” by Whitehorse

29. “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift

28. “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke

27. “Come and Get It” by Selena Gomez

26. “Scream and Shout” by will.i.am. & Britney Spears

25. “Brighter Than Gold” by The Cat Empire

24. “Stutter” by Marianas Trench

23. “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk

22. “Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert

21. “Gone Gone Gone” by Phillip Phillips

20. “Suit And Tie” by Justin Timberlake

19. “Some Nighs” by fun.

18. “Can’t Hold Us” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

17. “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus

16. “Highway Don’t Care” by Tim McGraw & Taylor Swift

15. “Carry On” by fun.

14. “No Good Woman” by Elise Legrow

13. “I Love It” by Icona Pop & Charli XCX

12. “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker

11. “The Monster” by Eminem & Rihanna

10. “Holy Grail” by Jay Z & Justin Timberlake

9. “Odds Are” by Barenaked Ladies

8. “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

7. “The A Team” by Ed Sheeran

6. “Sweet Nothing” by Calvin Harris & Florence Welch

5. “Royals” by Lorde

4. “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light ‘Em Up)” by Fall Out Boy

3. “Stay” by Rihanna & Mikky Ekko

2. “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

1. “Just Give Me a Reason” by P!nk & Nate Ruess

* Note the absence of anyone wearing the sad combination of thick-framed glasses, a plaid shirt and an overgrown beard.

My very own blog!

imagesCA6OIEKD

Today, I’ve finally done it – I’ve started a blog. I know, I know: who doesn’t have a blog? There are dogs, cats and horses with their own blog. There are approximately a grazillion other Beths with blogs, according to the Google.

For years, I’ve stood outside, looking in on the exciting world of bloggers. I have always loved to write, and I’ve kept a journal almost continuously since the age of seven. There’s just something satisfying about seeing my own words on paper …. It was a way to process events, a way to release and validate my feelings, a way to catch and hold moments that might otherwise have flown away, leaving no trace. Blogging, though, seems to be so much more than journaling. My words, published – public. People reading my writing – people I know, and even strangers. Agreeing, disagreeing, soaking in my carefully turned phrases. Perhaps even quoting them later, or even sharing a whole article with their friends.

So, what stopped me? A few things …. I am a terrible combination of perfectionist and procrastinator. To attain perfection, one must be diligent. If, however, one is adept at finding reasons to not do something, one finds that one’s tasks are often rushed and unpolished. A perfectionist would never allow anything that’s less than perfect through the gates. It’s the chicken and the egg and the chicken and the egg – and no blog. There was also a nasty voice inside my head, asking “who do you think you are”. Do I seriously think people are going to read my words, enjoy and relate, and even think that what I offer up is worth passing on? Really? How arrogant! I’ve read many blog posts that left me thinking sadly “I could never have said it like that – that’s just perfect”. Why would anyone read my post when they could read someone else’s – someone who says it just perfectly? How could I even have enough to say to fill more than a month’s worth of posts?

The temptation, though, has finally outstripped my reservations. The house is clean, for the next fifteen minutes, at least. Nothing needs painting or repair. The holidays are over, and the frenzy of activity surrounding them. There’s no one I need to catch up with. My life has returned to its regularly scheduled program. I have time to indulge my perfectionism – hence, no excuse to delay starting my blog. And I guess I am somewhat arrogant. Because, for every person who says it just perfectly, there’s someone who says it atrociously. If they can be bloggers, so can I! Not to mention that I’m a firstborn extravert who grew up in the eighties and nineties. I’ve enjoyed a lifetime of being told I’m awesome, and why wouldn’t everyone want to read what I write?

I guess the one remaining issue is my laziness …. I hope this blog doesn’t join a long list of worthy resolutions relegated to the scrap heap at the back of my mind, which includes (but is not limited to):

–        flossing every day

–        cleaning my house from top to bottom (yes, even the storage rooms and under the heavy appliances)

–        writing a novel

–        attempting to publish my poetry

–        losing ten pounds

–        only drinking wine on weekends

–        finding a new, cool, easy-to-manage hairstyle (well, finding a hairstyle at all, really)

–        reading “War and Peace”

–        mastering the French language

–        adding to my small collection of tattoos

–        getting up ten minutes earlier so that my mornings don’t bring me to the brink of hyperventilation

–        not yelling at my daughters

–        leaving on time to avoid despising every other driver between my house and wherever I’m going

We’ll see!

* A shout-out to Ryan for coming up with the name! Even someone with my abysmal memory can retain “BethBlog”.