Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hope Still Flies

When I was 15, I went to my first “real” concert. It was a band called Five Iron Frenzy. They came out on stage wearing giant animal costumes that they had found in the Green Room of the university we were at. I fell in love. Over the years, I saw them 2 or 3 more times. I bought all their CDs. I bought their stickers to save for my first car. I made t-shirts to wear to shows. I still can’t hear the name Bobby without shouting “BOBBYYYYY!!!” (in my head at least) and wondering whose pants are these anyway, or see a blue comb without thinking of the “summer of 1978”.

The last CD of theirs that I bought, Electric Boogaloo  (which wasn’t their LAST last CD), I got in a gift shop at a Kids’ Camp I was a counselor for. It was the summer I was 18, a few months before my life went completely haywire. I remember my baby brother Isaac was at camp that year also. The children’s pastor came to get me when it was time to leave camp. Isaac was crying in a corner, brokenhearted about going back to a home that was, essentially, falling apart. I hugged him close, rubbing his spiky hair, and showed him the CD I’d just bought. I knew it would make him smile. My whole family loved them. When I got married and moved out, I gave the album to Isaac.

It turned out that that CD was more or less a goodbye from the band. I felt like it was almost completely in sync with what I was going through. FIF isn’t what I’d call an “easy listening” band. They’re mostly ska. But their lyrics touch places in me that not many other bands have. At that time, they were what I needed. It broke my heart to listen to what I knew was the beginning of the end, but I related. I could hear the frustration, the disillusionment, the weariness. I knew. I understood. I sat in my room, pumping the music from my little CD player, tears streaming down my face as I listened to the last song on the album, Eulogy. “They are tired, write the eulogy.”

In 2003 I bought a ticket a month in advance for their last tour. They were coming to my area September 20th. I was 7 months pregnant. On September 18th, we got hit with a hurricane that downed power in some areas for 3 weeks. I called Ticketmaster to see if the show was still happening and was told it was canceled. I cried for 2 days (pregnant, remember?). A week later, I found out the show had NOT been canceled, and I had missed it. I cried for another week (pregnant). I felt like I’d lost the last little piece of being a teenager (Right. Because being pregnant didn’t do that for me). I still have the ticket in a shoebox.

I’m going somewhere with all of this. Thanks for being patient.

Yesterday, we got news that rocked my entire family, what I call the “Rothwellsphere”. Five Iron Frenzy was back, 8 years after their final tour. They’re putting together an album to release in 2013. We absolutely freaked out. My phone battery went from 100% to dead in about 6 hours. Between freaking out texts, freaking out phone calls, freaking out links being passed back and forth, my poor phone didn’t stand a chance. To say this band holds a special place in our family is kind of an understatement (obviously). I think they probably mean something different to each of us. To me, at least, Five Iron represents my entire adolescence. They represent a time in my life that was “normal”, before things fell apart.

So to Five Iron, I say: Welcome back, guys. The wait has been so much more than worth it.

To my family, I say: Nothing is insignificant. Maybe this means so much to us because it more or less represents US. We’ve suffered heartbreak, and disappointment. We’ve risen from ashes and WE’RE STILL HERE.

We’re living proof that Hope Still Flies.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keeping Thankful

This month has been rough. Not bad, just... bumpy. I feel like something is constantly hustling me from behind, pushing me forward while I dig my heels into the carpet. Life doesn’t seem to want me to catch up. I haven’t gotten on board with the “30 Days of Thanksgiving” craze that’s been going around on Facebook... not because I’m not thankful, but because I simply don’t have time.

But I am thankful. I need to focus more on that.

So. Focusing.

I’m thankful for Jeremy. I need to put that first, because I especially need to be reminded this week how thankful I am for him. I’m thankful that I can fight with him, scream at him from the top of my lungs, slam doors in his face, and still wake up next to him every morning. I’m thankful that he dreams big when I’m more comfortable dreaming small. When he makes me want to tear my hair out, change the locks, or scream into a pillow, there’s still no one else I’d rather be with. And I’m thankful for that.

I’m thankful for my kids. Each one of them is so different, and bless me in so many different ways. Ashton wows me with his intelligence and sarcasm. He’s so much like my brothers, and I love that. Then he’ll turn around and say something sweet and insightful. Chloe melts my heart with her sweetness and gentleness, and her dramatic personality. And Atleigh makes me laugh more than the other two kids combined.

I’m thankful for my family. They’re pretty much the best family ever to be invented.

I’m thankful for my friends. I’m a “small circle” girl. My circle enriches my life so much.

I’m thankful for my Box House. It’s too small for us. It only has two closets. But it’s ours, and it’s the first place I’ve lived in where I’ve gotten to pick out paint colors, kitchen and bathroom hardware, and own a vacuum cleaner, and have a swing set in the backyard.

I’m thankful for my job. Cleaning houses isn’t exactly glamourous, but it isn’t complicated. I can listen to my music or podcasts while I clean. I love the girls I work with, I love my boss, I love my schedule. And I would 7,000 times rather be cleaning houses than working retail.

I’m thankful for my shoes. I love shoes. I love flats and flip flops, and I love my TOMS.

I’m thankful for the internet. I suppose I COULD live without it, maybe. I’d rather not. I’m glad I don’t have to.

I’m thankful that I love to read. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have books, or care to read them. Freaks me out just thinking about it.

I’m thankful for shows like Phineas and Ferb. Our whole family can watch them and laugh. I mean, seriously. The show is hysterical.

I’m thankful for my cat, Paisley. She’s fluffy and sleeps curled up right between my neck and shoulder. Granted, I can’t move and sometimes I feel like I’m growing a fur ball in my lungs from breathing with her so close to my face, but she’s practically the perfect cat.

I’m thankful that I can pause and take a breath, and remind myself to be thankful. It’s not easy. Sometimes it takes a concentrated effort. But I’m so thankful.

What are you thankful for this week?

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Well Pointed Finger

There’s been this little knot in my chest all day, right under my ribs. Every so often it will squeeze and I’ll feel like crying. It’s a piece of me that’s vulnerable, that doesn’t want to be touched. Sometimes I think of it as the “real” me, the part that I keep hidden from most people. There are a lot of parts of me that I’m ashamed of, that I hide. I’m going to confess a few of them now. Don’t hate me. They’re the pitiful, ugly things.
Like my pettiness. Oh God, can I be petty. This little knot inside of me is competitive. It wants to be “best”. It resents other peoples’ talents. Or my pathetic reverse psychology approval addiction. I crave approval. Please, oh please think I’m pretty, and funny, and smart and talented and creative... but don’t say it to me out loud too much, because I can’t process that. I simply can’t. I’ll get embarrassed, and awkward, and because of that, I’ll get offended. Another ugly thing: My deplorable housekeeping. Oh, people can make excuses for me all they want, but I won’t make them for myself. Yes, I have a lot of kids. Yes, my house is tiny. But that doesn’t explain away the piles and piles of laundry, or the fact that I hate to cook dinner. And guess what? If you are orderly and neat and your house is sparkling, I’ll resent you, too. Because, here’s another ugly thing: inferiority complex. I may swagger, and say clever, snarky things, but the reality is, more than likely, I think you’re better than me. So, if you also have an approval addiction, there you go. I approve of you, in some twisted, ugly way.

Once in awhile, and oftener if I’ll let Him, God will reach down with a well pointed finger, and nudge at that vulnerable little knot that holds all my ugly. And He’ll say,

“Hey, you.

Yes, you.

I see you in there.

And I still love you.

I approve of you.”

He did that to me tonight. On the drive home from my weekly Bible study, He nudged me.

And somewhere on the stretch between Meineke and Ruby Tuesday, I broke down.

I heaved huge, gut wrenching, wailing sobs. Tears trickled down my face and dripped into my scarf, leaving my skin tight with salt water and mascara. That little knot loosened up a little, offering some of the malicious, hateful me up to Him. And He accepts it as a burnt offering, a painful sacrifice, which it is.

And He approves.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Art of the Frustrating Day

I’m a master at the art of the frustrating day. Here’s how it works:

You start out in a really great mood. Oh yes, this is a must. The day wouldn’t seem nearly so frustrating if you didn’t have some height to tumble down from. At 7:50 am, you soar down the interstate, singing “Don’t Stop Believing” at the top of your lungs. It’s Journey. At 7:50 in the morning. It’s definitely going to be a great day.

Then you get to work. You find out that your day is actually not so great after all. You try to let things roll off your back. But unfortunately, to really perfect the art of the frustrating day, you have to have thin skin. Sorry folks, it’s par for the course. You have to over analyze everything, imagine every possible scenario, and second guess your every move in order to have a truly frustrating day.

Your work day must last at least an hour longer than you thought. Through no particular fault of anyone, but simply because it’s a frustrating day. You have to call your son’s school to tell them to put him in daycare, because there is a snowball’s chance in hell that you’ll be getting there in time to pick him up.

Because your day is frustrating, it naturally follows that traffic is bad, and you must hit every light on the way to finally get your son from school. Your son is required to have a horrible attitude because he does not actually WANT to be picked up from daycare. Because, you see, the real perfection of a truly frustrating day is in spreading the love. Now, your 7 year old son is having a frustrating day, too.

Did I mention that your husband needed you to be home 30 minutes ago so he could leave the house?

You finally make it home, and all you want is a hot shower. But instead, you get three whiny kids who each need a million things accomplished in order to be happy. You get about 7 of the 3 million things done. This, in particular, this “hamster on a wheel” feeling, goes hand in hand with the frustrating day. It wouldn’t REALLY be a frustrating day without a sink full of dishes, laundry overflowing the hamper, broken crayons and crushed Cap’n Crunch on the floor, and memory verses that need to be learned in the next 45 minutes before Awanas.

It also helps if you’re potty training a three year old.

Your frustrating day wouldn’t be well rounded without bedtime temper tantrums and tattles. Throw in a spanking and some back talk and you’ve almost reached the “frustrating day” pinnacle of perfection. All you need is




Like, say.... a hairball in the middle of the kitchen floor.


Now, you have truly mastered the art of the frustrating day.