Am I too old for this sh*t?

Lately, I’ve been feeling older than I should. I’m certain it’s due to the creaks and pops my joints make or the involuntary groans that escape my mouth upon any movement. No, seriously. We’ve been doing this “boot camp” at the local YMCA for the past couple of weeks. Tuesday was heavy on the biceps (which I didn’t even know I had in my little bird arms), so here I am 2 days later barely able to lift much of anything. Of course, it doesn’t help my feelings of decrepitude that the Girl, who’s participating in the boot camp with us, can run 5 laps around the overhead track without breaking a sweat while I’m panting at the top of the stairs (i.e., the ones you take just to get to the track). I keep telling myself I could do that at 15 … but that’s been so long ago, I’m not really sure anymore.

Okay, okay, so I’m not really that old. But I heard something on the radio a few weeks ago that has stuck with me … in a bad way. It was the day I got uber-introspective and the DJ was talking about how experts have determined we really do get “too old” to do certain things. Like when you’re too old to suck your thumb. Or sleep in the same bed with your parents. The one that got me was these experts saying you’re too old to “start over” at age 40. The DJ elaborated that this meant switching careers and other major life changes like that.

On the one hand, I just kept picturing Danny Glover in the Lethal Weapon series. So, he gets partnered up with the younger crazier cop, played by a mullet-sporting Mel Gibson, and refrains “I’m too old for this sh*t” at various times throughout the movie. At one point in LW2, he’s in the bathroom for his daily constitution and discovers that the commode has been rigged with a pressure-sensitive bomb. Here’s how I remembered he scene: there he is, pants around his ankles, newspaper in one hand, the other wiping beads of sweat from his brow and hoping beyond hope that his a$$ doesn’t blow up. And he says “I’m too old for this sh*t.” Okay, I don’t know if he actually says it in that scene, but, given the ramifications of his current position, the visual in my head gave me a giggle. And because this scene was in the first sequel, I totally almost typed number 2, but thought better of it. I guess sometimes I still have the mind of a 12-year-old. But I digress.

On the other hand, I’m flat-out offended that anyone would say I’m too old to do anything. I mean, here I am at 40-something thinking of going back to school. Yes, I made the career change (from lawyer to college teacher) in my 30s and going back to school would just be furthering that, but still. What about never being too old to be happy? Or sleeping when we’re dead? Or some other such cliché I can’t think of at the moment (not because I’m old and my brain cells don’t work as well as they used to, but rather because I’ve always had a terrible memory). C.S. Lewis said “You’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” So there.

Yes, I’ve decided that I haven’t really decided whether I’m going back to school. Read that again if you like. I’d made a decision to apply for Ph.D. programs, registered for the GRE, and then *decided* again (re-decided? Sheesh, changed my mind!) that I may not go right way (or ever). Instead, I’m supposed to be focusing on my writing. But the GRE is tomorrow. I’d put it off from December to give myself more time to prepare but have instead used all the extra time to psych myself out. You’d think that not even knowing if I’m going to apply to any programs would take some of the pressure off, right? Wrong. I never used to be afraid of tests; I mean, I’ve taken (and passed) 3 state bar exams; after that, everything should be cake. Of course, it’s been YEARS and I’m 40-something and my brain is TIRED and I’m too old for this sh*t.

My anxiety is the pressure-rigged commode. Here’s hoping is doesn’t blow up in my – face.

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"You are gifted … JUMP :)"

Yesterday, I was talking to a colleague about how she’s recently gone back to school; she’s working on her *second* master’s degree, this one in social work. So I admitted to her that I’m scheduled to take the GRE in a couple of weeks. With a look of what can only be described as pure astonishment, she asked “Why?! What are you doing?!” So, I told her: “I’m thinking of going back to get my Ph.D.” Now, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time (almost did it instead of law school), but only seriously (i.e. to the point of contacting schools, researching programs and registering for the GRE) in the past year. We talked for a little while longer about plans, and then I headed home. On the drive, I got to thinking about the look on her face. Was it that unbelievable that I’d want to go back to school? Perhaps because most people see the law degree as terminal, the idea of anything beyond is unreasonable. But it all depends on what you want to do, right? So I started thinking (really, really thinking) about why I wanted to go back to school. Why do I want that Ph.D.? Here’s what I thought about:

Well, for one thing, I’ve just always wanted it. But that doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to put myself or my family through the stress.

Okay, so pragmatically, it may really be necessary for a long-term goal. Bryan and I have talked about what we’d like to do later in life … and something that we always come back to is teaching at a university somewhere. I’ve been teaching as an adjunct at multiple secondary institutions for about 7 years now. During that time, I have applied for maybe 3-4 full-time positions to no avail. I don’t know this for absolute certain, but I think at least one reason why I haven’t been successful in obtaining a full-time professorship is because I *only* have a J.D. rather than a Ph.D. Academia may be the only place in the universe where that distinction matters.

But is going back to school just another way of “putting off” my writing? Well, of course it is. I think I have some sort of mental block when it comes to finishing my writing projects. It’s not writer’s block, so much as it’s just this huge boulder or mountain that looms before me whenever I think of the book I’ve been trying to write for most of my life. And that mountain is something I can’t get past or over. It’s too high, and, darnit, I can’t fly.

Nevertheless, I’ve always felt like I was meant to do something … I don’t know … more. Like I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. Like I haven’t reached the people I’m supposed to reach. Like my voice hasn’t spread as it should.

But is that just human nature? I mean, does everyone feel like they’re supposed to do something more. Why do I feel that way? Am I just being egotistical?

Just then, as I’m thinking about all this on the drive home, Francesca Battistelli’s “He Knows My Name” came on K-LOVE. Here’s some of the lyrics:

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name oh, oh

 

So, crap, yeah, I’m being egotistical.  But then, more lyrics …

I’m not meant to just stay quiet
I’m meant to be a lion
I’ll roar beyond a song
With every moment that I’ve got

 

Um, wait … there’s the voice thing again.

So, of course, I did what I do whenever I find myself overthinking something: I talked to Bryan about it. I walked him through all my thoughts from the drive home (he’s a very patient man, y’all). He agreed that going back to school because “I just want to” isn’t really good enough and that, though the long-term goal reasoning is valid, I am just trying to put off the writing. So we talked about taking some time to focus on my writing. He encouraged me to gather some stuff from my blog and put together some stuff for publication.

This morning, before work, he watched a video of Steve Harvey talking about when God gives you a gift (your parachute) you have to jump for it to open. Then, I found this on the doorstep:

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When I texted him a thank you, he responded, “I think the Holy Spirit was talking to you yesterday.” Well, yeah, me too.

So here I am working on my writing, trying to stretch the inspiration from that little note into something productive. And I realized I haven’t posted anything on this blog since last April … ironically, just a few short months after posting a “new commitment” to my writing. Geez.  I’ve spent the last couple of hours going through old posts and picking up on themes. I’m writing – I’m happy – the kids are cracking me up – and God is good. I’m not writing – I don’t know what I’m doing – and I’m failing at life. (God is always good; it’s me that’s got issues). Oh, and there’s usually some Superman or Harry Potter stuff thrown in here and there, too. I jotted the following down (intended as a note to Bryan): “Good gosh. All I’ve really accomplished is feeling like a failure and missing MorganMorganMorgan something fierce. And on top of that Alan Rickman died today.” For some reason, that got me writing. And now, 900 words later, I don’t feel so much a failure as I do a work-in-progress (which, no surprise, is what my last not-so-recent post was about).

Yeah, I’m jumping.

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Imperfect Progress

I used to be tough. Or, at least, I thought I was tough. Not physically, of course (I mean, have you seen my bird arms?). But in a verbal argument, I could hold my own and then some. I was like a Kung Fu master where my words were like combination kicks and my tone the serpent’s teeth sharp enough to reach the marrow of the bone. Recently, in women’s bible study, I tried to explain this, calling my outbursts “verbal vomit.” I certainly wouldn’t have called them that at the time. I would have said something like I was quick-witted or sharp-tongued; you know, something that had a more positive connotation. Because I took pride in my ability to “put someone in his place.” Yeah, pride. It seemed as if I spent most of my time looking for a fight, looking for something to get riled up about. And I was angry all the time. I was like Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk, ready to morph into an oversized green rage monster on the turn of a dime. You see, anger was an easier emotion to deal with; it was like a balm or seal over feelings that would otherwise be hurt.

I’ve been changing for awhile, and I’m different now. I’m not tough. Or rather, I’m not tough-hearted anymore.  And I cry a lot more. And I’m okay with that.

Some may say this is due to age – maturing, mellowing out – or ample anxiety medication, but I say by the grace of God, I am different.

The women’s group I sometimes attend has been studying Lisa Terkeurst’s Unglued for the past several months. We’ve been talking about making “imperfect progress” toward being women who do not let the little things (or the big things) steal the joy and kindness God has placed in our hearts. Our pastor’s wife, the ever-so-talented Tanner Cangelosi, painted a piece for us displaying one of the study’s Bible verses:

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them around your neck. Write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” (Proverbs 3:3-4).

I feel like she painted it on my heart.

Copyright 2015. Tanner Cangelosi.

Copyright 2015. Tanner Cangelosi.

I recently had a run-in with someone. I wasn’t expecting a difficult conversation; in fact, I’d called to apologize for something. But before I knew it, the conversation took an ugly turn. Rather than responding in anger (which certainly would have been the 20-year-old me’s response), I felt sorrow. Sorrow for the original thing I’d called to apologize about; sorrow for the words that were cutting through me and the relationship; sorrow for anything else that may be going on in the other person’s life to cause such vehemence; pure sorrow. My heart hurt. And rather than lash back, I ended the call. And I cried. Cried for me. Cried for the other person. Cried for the situation. And every time I started to get angry, I cried more. I’m tearing up now just writing about it. Years ago, I would have called myself a baby. Now, I’m thankful for the tears, because they’re evidence of my heart which, above all else, should reflect God.

Of course, I still mess up sometimes, lash out, spout off things I wish I didn’t. But, I’m better than I was; and I’m constantly trying to be even better. I’m claiming that “imperfect progress.” God’s love and faithfulness have bound my heart (and my mouth, praise Him!). And like Tanner’s painting (of which I’ve saved a photo on my phone), I’m carrying His love and faithfulness around with me everywhere I go, along with a box of tissue.

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Superman versus Batman

Last week Warner Bros announced they’d be releasing the first teaser trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,  the anticipated 2016 sequel to Man of Steel (2013), in select theaters. Sometime between 24 and 48 hours later, that teaser was leaked online. So far I’ve seen mixed reviews of it, from “epic” to “underwhelming.” I guess my reaction is somewhere in between,  or completely out in left field.

The teaser begins with images and narration suggesting a shift in the public response (orchestrated by Lex Luthor or the media?) to Henry Cavill’s Superman, from a welcome savior to a false god. Flash to Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne looking regrettably on a stored Batman suit. Next we see Batman looking up to a hovering Superman and saying, ever so gruffly, “Do you bleed? You will.”

At this point,  my head fell into my hands in defeat. See,  I’ve been over Batfleck for awhile and generally try to adhere to a “give it a chance” approach to movies (even when based on a beloved book). But right now,  I’m struggling. Why do we need Batman in a Superman movie? Hasn’t Batman had enough screen time? Why does it have to be him that knocks Superman out of the air (I’m just guessing this will happen)?

Most comic enthusiasts will tell you of an unspoken (and sometimes very loudly spoken) rivalry among the fans of these two heroes.  Perhaps because they’re both strong leaders; perhaps because they’ve got such different yet strikingly similar origin stories.  And it’s true in my very household. While Bryan and I like both of them, we’re a house divided on who is best.

And now the epic question of “who would win: Superman or Batman?” is going to be answered in IMAX 3D.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m just a little worried.

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Awe

Have you ever put your forehead on an airplane window and dropped your gaze straight to the ground? I’m not sure I had until the trip home yesterday. It was a beautiful sight. One that would, I believe,  make even the most cynical person in the world fill with awe.

The first few shots are shortly after takeoff; then a few more as we climbed. I probably looked like a fool, taking photos from a plane window with a measly smartphone camera,  but I didn’t care.  I wanted to try and bottle that awe.

See what God gave us?
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No Air

I don’t travel well. I like the idea of going places, but nothing ever goes exactly as planned and that sends my anxiety into overdrive. I used to say it was because traveling with small children was hard. Well,  the kids aren’t small anymore, and I stress even when they’re not with me.

Take this trip for instance. I’m heading to Phoenix to join Bryan, who’s been at a conference, for the weekend. From Little Rock to Phoenix by way of Atlanta;  my brain just can’t take the contradiction.

Sitting at the gate waiting to board with what seemed like a thousand other people, I started to get hot and feel claustrophobic. Once on board the feeling only intensified, of course.

Middle seat.

Stale air with a hint of something foul.

How could I write here? With nothing but the back of a seat as my view?20150416_165141

You see, I’d made a date with my character (the one I mentioned yesterday);  we were going to have the hour and a half flight to ourselves. But cramped between two others, how would my words breath, much less me? And how will this relationship thrive if I’m already breaking dates?

Panic rose in my chest as I watched the flight attendant attempt to assist another passenger cram a puffy orange carryon into an overhead bin. Suddenly I felt puffy and orange.

I put one earbud in thinking the music would soothe me as we began to taxi and the smell took form and expanded around me. A few minutes later, the pilot’s voice filled the air with words like “pull over on the runway” and “thank you for your patience.” I put the other earbud in and clenched my eyes shut as my playlist began.

I’ve always had eclectic taste in music. Genre isn’t as important to me as long the words move me as much as the music.

I began to relax near the end of Red Light and started to feel like I could take on the world again with Sing for a Moment.

My foot began to tap and my mood improve with every beat of Paralyzer.

As Mad World faded into oblivion, I unclenched my closed eyelids and took a deep breath.

Uh oh, bad move.

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The Deep End

20150415_164457I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with someone for most of my adult life. I have loved this person all the while, perhaps either too much or simply not enough. It’s a secret that only my husband and maybe one or two others know.

You see, this person exists only in my head and in the words etched in these notebooks. A character floating, prancing, sometimes taunting, the space within my head. A figment of my imagination, a shadow perhaps. Never tangible. Never real. Though, at times gathering enough … energy? strength? force? grit? … to leave goosebumps on my arm like a mist or take my breath away like a puff of smoke.

Today, this character fully formed in my mind and leapt into reality like a flash of lightning, beautiful and scary all at once. Taken aback at the dawning, I gasped and erupted with questions.

We had a conversation, the two of us; one that left me feeling my love finally reflected back after all this time. And it made me giddy.

Perhaps I’ve simply gone off the deep end. No matter, I kind of like it here.

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