Sitting in My Hometown Sun

For the past week, I’ve been trying to figure out what to write about my family’s trip to Vermont (our annual pilgrimage to the mother-land).

Here are the points that I wanted to convey:

  • I grew up in VT
  • I no longer live there
  • I did not appreciate it when I was there
  • I miss it now
  • Being in VT brings me a certain happiness that nothing else does

I’ve spent a week’s worth of commutes to and from work trying to decide what exactly I’d say…how I’d even start.  Admittedly, I’m still in my post-vacay, “why the hell do I have to live in GA?”, pissed off at the world period, so whatever I wrote was probably going to be pretty jumpy and emotional.  Don’t worry, I get like this every year.

The more I thought about it, the more one particular song ran through my head.  First, it was the words….then it was the tune….and suddenly I couldn’t think of anything else:

When I Die  –The Waifs

When I die won’t you bury me
In the town where I was born
Most of my life I’ve been rambling free
When I die I want to come back home

Ever since I was a baby child
I knew I was born to roam
I had to climb to the top of the hill
Just to see what lies beyond
Now seasons change and I am still the same
I don’t belong to anyone
Still a piece of me will always be
Sitting in my hometown sun

In my time I have seen ten thousand setting suns
And I made my bed where I lay my head
And it never hurt anyone
It could be said that a girl like me
Ain’t nothing but a prodigal son
And just like that prodigal boy I’m gonna finish off where I’ve begun

Do I dream about moving back to Vermont?  Absolutely.

Does living in VT look this good because I see it as unattainable right now?  Probably.

Do I have doubts that I’d be happy actually living there?  Yep.

Who knows what will happen.  But one thing is for sure…a piece of me will always be sitting in my hometown sun.

(this is the view of my parents’ house if you’re sprawled on the grass in their front yard on a beautiful, sunny day)


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Simplify

Okay, so my one month off to get through the holidays turned out to be a bit longer than one month.  It’s okay though…you know, since my parents are probably my only regular followers and I talk to them once a week.  Hi Mom & Dad.

During my blog-free 7 weeks, quite a lot happened.  We celebrated Christmas and the New Year, I finished my overnight rotation at work, there was an earthquake in Haiti, we replaced our kitchen floor with slate tile & we celebrated Amelia’s 5th birthday.  I also spent some time thinking about the direction I wanted to take my blog (that makes it sounds very, very serious.  It wasn’t, it was more like ‘hmmm, should I try to have some sort of theme?’ while I was driving Amelia to school). 

For some time now, I’ve been thinking about the purpose of my blog.  When I started, I just wanted a place to get my thoughts out and get some writing done.  Then I started thinking about how cool it would be for people to actually READ what I was writing.  I read, and it completely makes sense, that in order to gain a readership you need to have some sort of niche.  I have no niche.  I don’t want to be ANOTHER mom blog.  I haven’t had any sort of hobby or project that I felt compelled to use to fill a slice of cyberspace.  I was at a loss.

Then, while doing that New Year thing where I decide to eat healthier and exercise more and cut negative people out of my life, I had a bit of an epiphany.  The name of my blog is SIMPLYjess.  It’s not COMPLICATEDjess or NEUROTICjess (although that would be cool).  My tag line is “Just another girl living simply in a complicated world“.  Um, HELLO.

So, here’s the deal.  2010 is the year that I simplify.  This is that year that I ensuring that everything in my life has a purpose.  Simplify my life, simplify my house, simplify my blog.  What does this mean exactly?  Damned if I know.  But I hope to figure it out and use this blog to document my journey.  I invite you all to join me.  Feel free to to point and laugh.

Stay tuned…..

Carpe Friendem

I’ve got this bad habit of hanging back and waiting for friendships to happen.  I certainly don’t want to be the pushy girl who forces friendship upon other people, but I really need to make an effort to put myself out there.   I’ve always been shy and a little insecure, so I have this fear that people won’t want to hang out with me.  I know it.  I accept it.

The problem is that I hang back for too long, and then when I finally start to get to know somebody, they leave.  Many cases are just circumstance.  Bad luck, I suppose.  If somebody is going to move away, they’ll move away.  My friendship won’t change that.  Sometimes the person just gets a new job or leaves a Mom Group.  It’s not a major upheaval, but our paths stop crossing.  Either way, when I feel like I’ve missed another opportunity, I still regret it.

So, in an effort to avoid regrets, I’m going to seize friendship opportunities whenever I can.  I’ve met some really cool people lately and I hope that at least a few will become friends.  This way, even if they decide to move to Ohio (boo!), I’ll know that we’ve had a few good Margarita Nights.

All in a Name

I didn’t change my name when I got married.  It wasn’t a bold feminist statement, it wasn’t a commentary on gender identity in America, it wasn’t even a conscious choice.  I just didn’t do it. 

Like many of the life choices I make, after careful thought and consideration, the ultimate decision stemmed from laziness.  That’s why I breastfed (I didn’t want to have to wash bottles), that’s why I started using cloth diapers (I didn’t want to have to deal with buying diapers all the time).  Sure, these things may SEEM more labor-intensive, but to me they aren’t.  I know what I’ll put off:  washing bottles, buying formula & diapers and standing in line to change my name.

For a while, I though I would hyphenate.  Unfortunately, that would have required just as much time standing in line.  Then I thought that I’d probably change it when I had kids.  You know, so our family unit all had the same name.  Nope.  Then I thought that maybe it would be better to change it for when the kids were in school.  That makes for less drama at pick-up, right?  Not so far.

But, long story short, I never actually made the change.  And you know….it’s okay. 

I like my name.  It’s who I am.  It’s a Quebecois name to go with my dad’s family’s Quebecois heritage which ties me to all the Quebecois people in my native Vermont.  It sounds really nice with my first name.  Plus, I can write it with my eyes closed.

My mom changed her name, but many of her friends didn’t.  Many women I’ve known and looked up to have kept their names after marriage.  I just didn’t think it was a big deal.

I briefly considered changing because people constantly mispronounce my name and my husband’s last name is (I thought) fool-proof.  Jason told me not to bother because he’s spent his entire life correcting  people.  No matter how simple, people will ALWAYS find a way to screw your name up.

I hold absolutely no judgement against women who DO change their name.  Who am I to tell somebody what to do?  I don’t care what your name is….I’m not going to argue your FIRST name.  I just ask that nobody try to argue with me.  You wouldn’t believe the reaction I get from some people.  I’m not sure if they feel threatened or if they’re insecure of their own decision.  Maybe they think I’m some sort of feminazi terrorist hell-bent on destroying the world (I’m not quite sure how or why I would even do that).  

I’ve had people tell me that they did it for practical purposes, to avoid confusion.  They say that there have been MANY times (in the 1-2 years they’ve been married) that a different name would have caused trouble.  I’ve been married for 9 years and the biggest problem I’ve had was the old woman at Babies R Us being rude because she didn’t think we were married when we were starting Amelia’s baby registry.  The bank doesn’t even care when I bring in a check with a different name on it.  I’ve had people stress the importance of a couple “being a unit”.  At the end of the day, I’d much rather be “Jess & Jason” rather than “The Sumners” or “The Demers’ “.  We’ve been together for a hundred years, there’s no making us a tighter unit.   Some people have brought up the fact that I don’t have the same last name as my kids.  They’re my kids & I’m their mom, we all know that.  And, perhaps this is radical, Amelia doesn’t actually use my last name when addressing me.

Why am I going on and on (and on) about something I just said isn’t a big deal?  Apparently I’ve had some stuff knocking around in my head.  I started thinking about this yesterday when a friend posted an article about some bizarre study that says that a majority of people believe that a woman should be legally required to change her name after marriage.  I’m not going to post the link or even comment because, to be perfectly honest, I don’t believe that it’s accurate, reasonable or even real.  

Chris Martin famously commented, while defending the “weird” names of his children and others, “a name is just a noise, and if you like it, then f–k what everyone else says.”  It’s true.  A last name is a way to distinguish Jessica Demers from Jessica Tandy or Jessica Smith.  If Amelia wants to keep her name, fine.  If she wants to take her husband’s name, fine.  If she wants to take the surname “Bedelia” just for fun, um, okay. 

Like many arguments/issues/dramas we watch unfold every day, it’s all much ado about nothing….

29 Gifts

Remember the movie ‘Pay it Forward’?  You know, Haley Joel Osment played a kid who developed a movement to change the world by bringing good to others?  Do you remember the last scene, after he’d died, when the line of cars full of people coming to pay their respects extended miles back down the road?  Did you finish that movie feeling inspired and wishing that the world could be changed so easily?  Did you wonder if there were really people out there doing things like that? Did you wonder whether it was really possible?

Hey, guess what…It is.

A little over a year ago I read an article about this young woman named Cami who was in the process of starting a “Giving Movement”.  During a rough patch in her life, Cami had consulted with Mbali, a spiritual advisor, who had told her about an African ritual based on giving things away.  The theory is that if a person commits to giving thing to others (for, say, 29 days), they take their focus off of themselves and their problems.  Of course, they will also brighten someone else’s day, which will almost certainly be passed on.  Everybody wins.  So, Cami started a website to spread the word and recruit more people to join the movement and improve the world.

I found the site via darynkagan.com.  I know Daryn from when she was at CNN and I love checking in periodically on her “feel-good news” website.  When you need a boost, you should definitely check it out.  So, I came across a story about 29Gifts and I loved the idea immediately. 

I remember talking to a co-worker about giving blood.  His comment was “I don’t always have  money, and I don’t always have time…..but I always have blood to spare.”  It’s true, as overextended as you feel, you always have SOMETHING to give.  A big part of Cami’s philosophy is that people gives things every day- a smile, an open door, a few minutes to listen- and it’s just a matter of recognizing and appreciating that.

So, go check out the site….look around…sign up.  It’s your chance to change the world.

 

gift

Friendship

My friend Jessica (Yes, I have a friend named Jessica.  I’m not speaking in the third person or removing myself from this sentiment) believes that friendship has “a reason and a season”.  People come into your life when you need them or need to learn a lesson and when that need has been fulfilled, it’s perfectly okay to let those people go.  After expressing a little paranoia that eventually my days would be numbered too, she clarified that there are people, very special people, who stay in your life forever.  You just never know which category a person will fall into until it’s already happening.

I like that theory.  I like the idea that there’s no pressure and that the friends you pick now don’t necessarily HAVE to be your best friends forever.  As much as I like the idea of having a BFF, a lifelong best friend, I just can’t see it ever working for me.  To hear me talk about my friends, you’d think that I’d moved around my entire life.  In fact, I lived in the same house until I left for college.  I’ve just been in a lot of different “places”.  I know a lot of people, I’ve made my way through many different circles.  Are all of these people my best friends?  Absolutely not.  Do I care about every single one of them and periodically think about them and wonder where they are?  Yes.

Perhaps it’s a giant personality flaw on my end.  Maybe it’s a sign of insecurity that I seek out people I KNOW I’ll leave eventually.  Maybe I’m afraid of the commitment.  Maybe I’m afraid that *I* won’t be interesting enough and they’ll leave me.  Maybe I’m just in such a state of flux that I don’t know myself well enough to find people who will fit.  Maybe I just grew up in a tiny town with all the same people and now I meet people and collect acquaintances just because I can.

The last couple years have been a huge whirl of friendships and heartbreak.  Being a parent has made every feeling a little more raw for me.  Love is so much more intense, but so is hurt.  When somebody forgets about me or is thoughtless or is blatantly hurtful, it stabs my heart.  I don’t want my children to see their mother so weak.  I don’t want them to ever feel like this, like they don’t fit it.  And so I move into survival mode.  Fight or flight.  Neither of which are particularly conducive to friendships.  I admit that I have been at fault…there are a million ways that I could have handled situations differently.  It’s a learning experience.  Everything is.

Over the last year I’ve made the conscious decision to remove a few people from my life.  Did it go down in a blaze of glory, screaming and crying or bitter purging letters?  Nah.  It was more of an eye-roll and the thought “wow, I don’t need this crap.” -I can see these people for what they are-  In most cases, insecure.  They make themselves feel better by pulling others down.  I’ll admit, insecurity is one of my challenges.  What an easy target I must have been.  It’s wild when you remove yourself and you can actually SEE the same thing happening to someone else.

SO, for the most part, I’m light and happy and a lot less stressed.  But every so often, I feel a little twinge of doubt.  Was I too hard on her?  Maybe I should try to mend bridges, reach out and reconnect.  I KNOW that this isn’t a good idea.  I KNOW that it would not be at all productive.

Does it sound like I was dating these people???  I guess it IS a bit like a break-up.  A really bad, messy break-up.  I started dating my husband in high school, so I missed out on all of this.  Maybe if I’d dated more, and had more romantic break-ups, I’d know how to handle a sometimes bitter end of a friendship.  I’d know that you DON’T go back to the boyfriend that makes you feel fat or ugly or inadaquate. 

To be clear, I don’t have a string of friend break-ups behind me.  A lot of times we just drift apart.  I leave or they leave. Somebody gets a new job, somebody moves.  We keep in touch by email or Facebook.  And then we don’t.  And then something happens…a birthday or a baby or a silly dream….and we reconnect.  Maybe it’s briefly, maybe we stay in touch because we have something new in common (lately it’s been babies).  You can’t force it.  You just have to go with the reason….or the season.