Friday, July 23, 2010

Toss Up

When my boys imagine the future--the careers they will have, the places they will go--I'm sure they don't imagine the kind of days I've had at my job the past few weeks. Thanks to my boss "loaning" me to another department for "some help" with a project, I've been working with OT drive during regular hours, trying to balance priority deadlines of the project with those of my "normal" job.

Today the project officially wrapped up--until next week, when changes will undoubtedly need to be made, and I will once again have 11th hour requests thrown my way.

Believe me, I'm happy to be gainfully employed by a decent company. I have flexible hours, an acceptable salary, and some pretty awesome coworkers. But when I listen to my boys talk about the grand plans they have for the future, I'm pretty certain they don't have admin detail in mind. I know I didn't when I was eight years old and thought I was going to write for a living. (Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...)

I suppose I could quit my job, go for the gold, and hope to be published. Or I could make an actual effort to create more time for writing. Or I could just do what I like doing best: Be mom. Get crafty. Enjoy the outdoors. And sometimes write about it all here in this decidedly low-profile space.

What my kids will grow up to accomplish is a story that is currently writing itself. I love to listen to their ideas about what's in store for them. Nolan claims he really, really, really wants to be a police officer--or FBI agent. I'm not entirely certain if donuts are the primary motivator here, but I have a hunch. Regardless, he likes to run around practicing Tae Kwon Do moves and telling random family members and friends to "freeze" while he points sticks--I'm sorry, pistols--at us.

And while it's a bit cliche for American boys to dream of being a major league ball player someday, it's not something with which I will argue. Nolan and Sean don't actually talk about joining the big leages, but they do love baseball. Nolan, especially, can usually be found outside these days, tossing the ball up in the air and catching it in his glove. When he's not tossing up a baseball, he's practicing catching with his lacrosse stick. And more recently, he's been spending a lot of time under the basketball net in the driveway, shooting hoops and even sinking shots--when he's not practicing his dog-whispering skills and drawing.

Sean is no less interested in sports. He adores baseball, and he loves to play catch with me, Ian, or his brother in the back yard or up at the school yard not far from our home. He is really into riding his BMX bike, and he loves shooting hoops, playing tennis, swimming, and running. This summer, though, while his brother dribbles the basketball (zang, zang, zang, zang) in the driveway, Sean can frequently be found lying on his bed inspecting the engineering of his latest Lego airship creation, or trudging around the yard observing bugs and birds. Sean, much like his younger brother, is fascinated by the natural world. And he's intent on designing fighter jets someday and flying them in the Air Force. It honestly wouldn't surprise me one bit if he grew up to do just that. He's "that" kind of kid. I honestly think he really does know what he wants to do, and he's going to work hard toward it. And if he changes his mind, I'm sure he'll choose something equally challenging and awesome.

My boys' lives are theirs, not mine. Their dreams are theirs, not something through which I will live vicariously. Whatever career paths they choose someday, I will love and support them as always. But for now, they are simply children, tossing balls, inventing things, and dreaming. They don't need to know about the long dull days of project assistance that might cross their desks some day. As long as I raise them to do their best, be good to others, have a good attitude, and see the big picture in life, they'll do well at anything they choose. I really believe that.

As for me, it's time to schedule that Praxis exam for September and begin in earnest the process of applying to graduate school for my masters in special ed. I was at Target tonight, wistfully looking at teachers' back-to-school supplies. Teaching is something I am drawn to. It's creative. It's productive. It's paying good things forward. It, too, will have dull and frustrating days, no doubt. But at the end of the day, I will walk out of the classroom with a good understanding of how my efforts impact the world. I will be inspired to do better on days that don't go well. Right now, I'm not certain how my current efforts impact anything, except the wallets of a few executives. And bad days aren't exactly inspiring me toward anything except out of corporate America.

If I encourage my children to pursue their dreams and believe that anything is possible for themselves, while nudging them to give back to others along the way, shouldn't I walk that walk I'm talkin' about? It's never too late to be what you might have been, right?

This mom can sink baskets and catch pop-flies too, you know.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Green, Green Grass

This town.

I suppose it's the same all over. All politics is local. And everything local is political. But I've not been at all happy with the way things have been managed in this city as of late.

So Friday I escaped, if only for a couple of hours. I didn't go far. I worked just a half day and then took off to enjoy some sunshine by the shore, but I opted out of going to the beach at Lighthouse Park in New Haven--in my back yard, really. Instead, I drove 15 minutes to the tiny, quiet beach in Stony Creek, a charming little section of Branford and the place to which I really want to move someday. I craved being away from New Haven for a couple of hours. And I craved some anonymity with my beach-going. I didn't want to run into anyone I know, knew, or want to know. I needed a couple of hours of nothing but sunshine and my own breath.

I plunked down my chair, bag, and towel, and I sank in to the sand. It was HOT. But the water was clear, cool, and the tide was going out. I took a dip and then thunked face-down on my towel to dry off in the sun. My week at work had been awful. The town I live in feels like it's falling apart sometimes. Other areas of my life are rife with uncertainty right now (more so than usual). I listened to the birds chirp and to the gentle lapping of the water, and I had a serious moment of regret: Why, oh why, didn't I just rent a little place in Stony Creek with me and the boys a couple of years ago instead of jumping into the married, home-owning life in Morris Cove?

That's not to say I'm unhappy being married or that I don't love my husband, my house, my neighborhood, my neighbors. It's just that with any decision, there are sometimes moments of regret. If we accept that, it's easier to deal with the regret when it comes. And then it also more easily goes. The grass sometimes appears a lot greener on the other side of the fence, but you can bet those neighbors have a higher water bill than you, right? Besides, the truth is that when I had my beautiful post-divorce apartment with water-views near Lighthouse Park, I couldn't wait to OWN my own place again. I loved my apartment, but I was eager to put roots down and get some equity (eventually) out of a home.

I let thoughts flow and ebb, ignoring the clock and feeling the sun on my skin. After some time to myself, I headed home feeling spaced-out from the heat and totally relaxed from letting my body just float in the water and melt in the sun for two hours. Later that night, Ian and I went downtown and grabbed some ice cream from Ashley's. We wandered around Broadway in a circle, sucking down watermelon sherbert (him) and Heath bar ice cream (me). Coffee Oreo is usually my first choice, but not at 9PM. Tan lines, flip flops and ice cream. What's better than that?

Saturday was more of the same summer fare. We dodged raindrops on our way back to my car after scoring a ton of fresh goods at the Farmers Market in Wooster Square. The rain poured, but when we returned home we found our neighborhood to have been spared the worst of it. We could have used the rain, but like with many summer storms in our area, the Cove didn't see much of it. Instead, the sun was shining. I guess it always shines in the Cove. We have the best sunsets, too.

We also have some great little hidden spots in our neighborhood parks. In fact, New Haven has lots of special little places in is parks. When I lived in the Westville section of town, I loved the hidden corners and secret shangri-las of Edgewood Park. I feel the same way about Edgerton Park, perhaps my most favorite park in the city. Edgerton was the place to which I ran and sat, alone, the day my first marriage imploded. It's the park I've wandered with my grandmother, looking at flowers. It's the place where Patrick climbed the Shakespeare stage at lunch one day when we were dating and sang Elvis' "The Wonder of You" to me in its entirety, to the applause of other picnickers.

Back at home yesterday, Ian and I walked the dogs down to East Shore Park, where we cut through the dune grass and let the dogs off leash to swim in the rocky waters that flank the Coast Guard base. I love escaping to that little beach, or to the beach at Black Rock Fort, which is a real treasure just steps from my home. A revolutionary war battle site between the Coast Guard and the Army and Marine Reserve bases, the fort has some really cool places for the boys to explore, some great little hills for them to practice BMX tricks, and a beach that, despite being neglected and littered, is still such a special little retreat from the throngs at Lighthouse. It's not at all an ideal spot to swim or catch some rays, but taking the dogs swimming there is just one of my favorite things. Foxes and coyotes bunker down in that park, and the dogs love to chase scents and tracks there, especially in winter. And since it is largely an untouched spot, there is a wealth of old sea glass to be collected there, too.

I love Stony Creek. Maybe some day I'll be able to move to a little tiny house there and enjoy a cup of tea at the Stony Creek Market every day. But until then, I'll treasure my little moments there as they come. And, even more so, I'll cherish my own little corner of the world, come what may. For a long time, I was so attached to Westville that I literally had nightmares about houses being sold and vacated by our neighbors, to whom I was close when I lived there. And yet it was I who put up the for sale sign and left. Life didn't end then, either. It was just beginning for me. I've had similar dreams about my new neighbors since becoming attached to my little block in the Cove. To have been given the gift of a strong neighborhood community three times in my life--as a child at my grandmother's, in Westville, and now here--I am triple-blessed. But still, who knows what the future brings. I'm open to it all.

Before leashing the dogs to go home from the beach last night, I stumbled upon a piece of sea glass that had "New Haven, Conn." inscribed on it. Still sharp and shiny, it wasn't ready to be pocketed and added to my collection. I tossed it back into the water and followed Ian and the dogs up the dunes to the soccer field, toward home.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Freedom (or something)






Happy 4th of July!

And read this.

I could use this space to talk politics today. But that article speaks for itself on so many levels instead.

To my cousin Joey serving with the Army in Iraq and my cousin Patrick (Cap., USAF) who is headed back to Afghanistan this summer: Thanks, boys. <3

One more: