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A year ago in November, I was cast in a new play. I was excited.

I studied my lines sitting at a high-top table with a too-hot cup of Earl Grey in a tiny, crowded, Starbucks on Woodward Avenue in Midtown Detroit while Youngest Child rehearsed at the DSO across the street.

I was getting ready for Thanksgiving, planning the food and getting ready to go on a cleaning binge in anticipation of guests.

There would be a break from school for a few days, our first since August, thank God.

My life was full and busy, just the way I like it.

Was I happy? In many ways, in most of the ways that count. Depression is its own ugly beast, but last November, from what I remember, was pretty good aside from my usual major stressors, i.e. work.

This November? I’m teaching from home. I have been, since March 16. While aspects of it are difficult and horribly tedious, I don’t hate it. No child has openly defied me in almost a year. Disruptive student? Remove them from Zoom. Problem solved.

My theatre has a good, solid, safe, plan to ease back into performances, streaming at first and playing it by ear. We’re so very lucky to have a nurse-practitioner on our board who gives us trustworthy advice and is heavily involved in our reopening plan. I am so very grateful that there is hope.

But… I want normal back. I want people to stop whining about their ‘freedom’, wear a damn mask, and socially distance. We’ve done our part, but others haven’t and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t angry. Just today, as I was in the check-out line, a guy walked into Rite-Aid with no mask, smirking like an asshole, just looking for someone to say something to him. (Stronger language is called for here, but I will defer to the comfort of my more sensitive readers. Understand that, in my head, I have called him every vile name I can think of.) I gave him the dirtiest look I could, but didn’t say anything in the hopes that store management would. I left in the next few minutes, my transaction complete. In retrospect, I wish I had, even though he was a large man and I am… not. I’m ashamed, actually. I should have said something and not let his size, demeanor, or stupid arrogant face intimidate me. Something to work on. Maybe martial arts for self-defense is a good idea. I also forgot that I had pepper spray in my bag. Note to self.

We cancelled our Thanksgiving, so that we all had a better chance of being here next year. We’re dropping dinner off for Marty’s mom. Next year, we’re going to do it up right.

We also cancelled Christmas, outside the family in the house. It all kind of sucks.

I want to walk into a crowded restaurant again with no bigger fear than catching a cold. (I get my flu shot every year and I will damn sure get my COVID shot when it’s available.) I want hug my family again, specifically Oldest Child and Very Serious Girlfriend. I want to learn lines for a show that’s not rehearsed on Zoom/socially distanced. I want to perform on stage in front of an actual audience.

I want my life back.

Wear a (insert favorite adjective here) mask and don’t be a (adjective) jackass. You can probably guess my adjectives.

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Here in the States, things are pretty hyped and stressful right now as we wait for election results. accompanied by tons of drama. Here are some nature photos to focus on for a bit. All photos are mine.

Dearborn, MI
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Lake Huron at sunrise
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The Henry Ford Estate, Dearborn, MI
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Mums in my yard.
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Winter Island, MA
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The Detroit River, Detroit, MI
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Niagara Falls, NY
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Lake Erie at sunset, Dunkirk, NY
Company
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Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii
Snowberry Clearing Hummingbird Moth, Author’s home
Eastern Swallowtail, Author’s home
Autumn Fog

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Today is our house anniversary: Nineteen years since the day we moved in, October 14, 2001.

I remember the day pretty clearly and all that led up to it. It was a misty, rainy day. My brothers, Uncle-Dad, and Sister-Cousins helped. We supplied beer and pizza as thanks.

2001 had been a pretty rough year for us. My husband was laid off from his job and going to school. I was working two jobs to make ends meet. Our two older boys were only four and two and the little duplex we rented seemed to get smaller by the day. It was super stressful.

Marty’s grandmother passed away that summer after years of poor health. As a result, her house was empty and the family was deciding what to do with it. Blessedly, arrangements were made for us to move in that fall. After a lot of scraping wallpaper, painting, and ripping up carpet, we made it our home. It’s still a work in progress, and some days this house makes me want to scream with how much money we’ve poured into it and continue to pour into it, but it’s been a wonderful place to live and raise our family. (Btw, I don’t ever think I want to own a house again.)

This is the longest time I’ve ever lived in one house and I admit, I am restless. It’s not for any other reason than that I want to explore other areas, experience living in a completely different part of the country or part of the world. We have the most amazing neighbors here who welcomed us in immediately and have stepped up for us time and time again. Our neighborhood is safe and beautiful. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to live here. But as I keep telling my poor husband, I’ve lived in Michigan within a twenty-mile radius my entire life and I don’t want to die here.

There are no plans to leave at the moment. My husband loves his job here. Youngest Child is finishing up his senior year in high school and Middle Child will graduate from the University of Michigan this spring, so we have no illusions of leaving for a few years, but it’s something I think about more and more as they begin their independent lives. I fantasize about it almost daily, actually. (We’ll make sure to get a flat near a Tube stop and also near a Tesco. Kensington seems nice, but I’m open to other areas of London…)

I look at my husband, lots of friends and family, and I wonder how they are so content to be where they are. Many of them are happy to stay in the same place they’ve been for years. I kind of envy them. Why am I different? Did I get it from my father, who always seemed to be searching in his short life? Or is it because I moved frequently as a child, living in five different homes by the time I was sixteen? Youngest Child has only ever lived here; will he be a wanderer at heart, like me, or will he return to his hometown after exploring the world for a while, like his father? I have no clue, no actual theories. I only know that the thought of staying here for the rest of my life, as lovely as it is, makes me anxious.

Whatever the future holds, we’ve had some incredibly joyful times in this house as well as some devastating moments that I’d rather forget. These formally avocado-colored walls have heard and seen so much, we’ve left a lot of energy here. There are at least two ghosts that make their presences known from time to time and two adorable cats who feel welcome enough to visit every single day. Our neighbors hold socially distant, outdoor, cocktail hours and piled on the loving care when my husband had his heart attack in August. As restless as I am, this house does have rather pleasant amenities.

Nineteen years. I don’t hope for nineteen more, but I am grateful for what I have right now.

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I go out for a fast walk or a run a few times a week for a number of reasons. It’s good exercise, I enjoy getting outside, and I can let my mind wander.

Twilight is my favorite time of day to walk. I’m definitely not a morning person; you won’t find me out with those hard-core early birds. I’m way too cozy in the morning to go run, although it is a beautiful time of day. I don’t care to go in the afternoon, there are too many people out and about. In the dark is fine. I don’t mind the dark. I’m fortunate to live in a fairly safe neighborhood and I have pepper spray at the ready. I can blend into the shadows, invisible and silent. Many times, I prefer that.

Twilight, however, is a magical time to be out. The sun has set, but it doesn’t go quietly. Brilliant streaks and smudges of purple, grey, gold, blue, and pink dance together and fade out above black landscape, slowly replaced by faint stars. The crickets and frogs begin their songs in earnest and the clicking bats begin their nightly rituals of graceful swoops and noisy conversation. Down the neighborhood sidewalks, bunnies are munching their bedtime snacks of grass, dandelions, and whatever vegetables they can sneak out of the gardens. Birds twitter unseen from the trees as they settle in for the night and the squirrels are nowhere to be found, eluding the hunting cats.

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Author’s photo

It’s lovely, everything settling down together. The only thing to mess it up are the sounds of stupid racing cars and crotch rocket motorcycles, their owners obviously having nothing better do besides put other people’s lives at risk, but I digress…

Twilight is beautiful pretty much anywhere, but my favorite is watching the light fade over big water. The sounds are different from what I hear in my neighborhood, though. Depending on the weather and the tides, the soundtrack is either waves crashing on the shore or gently lapping, generally drowning out anything else, which is just fine. Marty and I spent the night in a B&B on Lake Huron a few weeks ago and watched the twilight merge into a breathtaking moonrise from our balcony then slept with the windows wide open, a perfect lullaby.

Author’s photo

I don’t really have a point to this, I’m just trying to paint a word picture because my soul is full tonight.

Peace to you.

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Click the link to read this article on Medium.

Thanks for reading!

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And another, for anyone interested. This one is on faith.

 

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I need to work on practicing grace, especially in my own mind.

As this pandemic and this presidency, go on (and on and on and on), I find myself getting angrier at people who are unwilling to listen to reason and science, people who are unnecessarily putting others at risk because of their convoluted idea of “freedom”, and those who pass along ridiculous information easily dismissed on any fact-checking site.

I’ve learned that it does no good to comment. It’s just not worth the time and energy and only provokes juvenile insults.

If it weren’t so dangerous, I would laugh, but there are people dying, people out of work, people worried sick about the future. Our own military forces have been abusing citizens. The rest of the world is wondering what the heck is wrong with America right now, why we have so many people doing what they’re not supposed to do. It’s a rough time any way you look at it.

I honestly try to find the good in everyone, but right now it’s really difficult. I know, I know, that everyone comes from a different life experience and that colors their view of the world. I try to understand that. I was raised conservative, but after listening and learning, I’ve changed many of my world views that were based on evangelical religion. I’m still learning, I’m still trying to grow, and I, unrealistically, expect others to do the same. It’s really difficult for me to show grace to people who call themselves “Christian” who ignore the obvious and attack and hurl vile insults at anyone who thinks differently. I have to work on that.

I don’t insult people online. The closest I’ve come is to say that people who refuse to wear masks are acting like toddlers having tantrums. In my head, I think a lot of other things that I don’t post, don’t respond to.

I swear a lot. I always did, but never more than in the last four years, especially the last five months. It’s one way of venting my anger.

I need to work on grace, not wanting to bite someone’s head off for what they say or what they do, but responding to them with kindness. I know, but I need to try and see where they’re coming from before I respond or cuss them out in my head. Some people do this automatically and I’m in awe of that ability.

If God can show me grace after some of the things I’ve done, I need to show grace to others. I can’t educate through anger. I can be a better person.

I need grace. I need to show grace.

 

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This one is on mental health. Click to check it out.

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I live in the Great Lake State, and the Great Lakes are, in fact, great, but the ocean is my favorite.

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South Carolina shore

I saw the ocean for the first time when I was sixteen, on a marching band trip to Florida. We went to Cocoa Beach, I think, and played on a day cruise to Grand Bahama. While we were on the island, I went parasailing and was gobsmacked (one of my favorite words) at the sheer vastness and beauty of it. Seeing a large, dark shape swimming far below was a little creepy, but in a really awesome way.

I can’t explain it. The combination of the power of the waves, the salt air, and the knowledge that the other side is thousands of miles away just fills my soul with exactly what it needs. I feel at peace.

I know a lot of people who prefer the lakes and I understand that, I really do. The lakes, both Great and smaller, are wonderful. They also have a lot of power, there isn’t any salt, and there are no sharks, for the most part. (Bull sharks do swim up from the ocean into rivers and the lakes that connect to them sometimes, but never as far as the Great Lakes. That we know of, anyway.) I grew up spending every summer in one of Michigan’s many lakes and it was something I always looked forward to all year long.

There’s just something about the ocean, though. The energy is different.

I miss it.

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Inis Mor, Ireland

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Here’s the link to my new article on Medium!

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View at Medium.com

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