Sic Transit Gloria

Sunday, October 27, would have been Mike’s  58th birthday.  It was a perfect, bright blue fall day,  trees like those above, in full autumn glory.

Here’s a picture from today, four days later:

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One week ago:

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Today:

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October’s beauty is bittersweet: it can’t last. This year we waited through rain and clouds most of the month until a sudden burst of clear skies and blazing color in the last ten days or so. I’ve learned that, except for treating Angelic Daughter to trail rides at stables we only get to once or twice a year, leaf-peeping isn’t a good reason for our  “fall excursions.” The colors are always more beautiful at back at home.

Yet something has felt off-kilter about this year’s weather, from polar vortex to spring monsoons, to a bone-dry August and then a sodden September. Everything has been more of whatever it is than usual. Colder, wetter, drier, cloudier.  We had very few sparkling clear nights, all year. The crystal black, star-sparkling nights are one of the things I look forward to about winter. I hope that hasn’t changed for good.

Today it feels like someone sped up the film (a terrible idea, and yes, I’m looking at you, Netflix). I’m carving pumpkins when I could be building a snowman. Did someone steal Richard Hendricks’ compression algorithm (Silicon Valley)  and apply it to the turn of the seasons?

We’ve had snow on Halloween before, but not like this, that I can remember. Usually, rotten Halloween weather is cold and rainy, with maybe a few fat flakes that don’t stick. But out my window now are 3-4 inches of heavy, sticky wet snow, causing branches to sag and completely covering the yard.  It’s not cold enough for snow to stick to the driveway or the walk, but there is enough to discourage any but the most intrepid, determined trick-or-treaters. We’ve had none, and the sanctioned window for ringing doorbells is closing. I foresee a night of appallingly self-indulgent over-consumption of uncollected chocolate -followed by a 30 minute full-body dumbbell burner guilt workout tomorrow morning.

There really is nothing spooky or eerie or creepy or Halloweenish about snow.  I lit the Jack-o-Lanterns anyway, but I’m not really feeling the “door between worlds” effect. Angelic Daughter wants S’mores, and snow makes a great backdrop to initiate the fireplace for the season. If I can get a fire started, that is, because it was windy, and the logs in the small wood rack on the front porch got coated in an inch or so of snow.  I foresee an expletive-filled evening and the waste of an entire box of matches.  But I’ll get it going.

Snow will melt off tomorrow, but the glory that is October is done and gone. Smores made indoors in the fireplace won’t capture the crisp, outdoor, sweatery October feeling that Angelic Daughter used to get on an annual school trip to a pumpkin farm, but they will have to do.  Each year the autumn flare seems more fleeting than the last. But that’s what makes it glorious, I guess.

I finally sold Mike’s kitchen table, on his birthday. Got ten bucks for it on eBay. The guy who bought it drove an hour to pick it up. I was almost going to give up and donate it somewhere, but I’m glad I got at least something for it. kitchen tableThat table was the only material thing, other than books, clothes and a hurricane lamp, that Mike brought with him into our marriage. The guy who bought it asked how long I had it – “27 years” – and acknowledged that it must carry a lot of memories. I did.

Letting go of  27 years worth of memories on Mike’s birthday,  the 27th, is something he would have gotten a kick out of, I think, or at least appreciated the symmetry of it.

We have a new dining room table now,  but today I put on Mike’s old grey sweater, the one with the growing holes in it that I wear when shoveling or otherwise dealing with outdoor maintenance in cold weather, and smiled. IMG_20180831_135250.jpgHere’s to you, loves, one season passed and another beginning, wrapped in something that once wrapped you with warmth, and now wraps me in memories.

We hoped that Mike could make it to an October day like last Sunday, to see the blue sky and blaze of  leaves as he departed this world for the next. Instead, he died on a sweltering August night.  “This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, to love that well, which thou must leave ere long.”

Tomorrow begins gray November, the ghost of October’s colors whispering only in the gourds and Indian corn of a Thanksgiving to come.

Blowing out the candles in the Jack-o-Lanterns and off to make the fire, I remain,

Ridiculouswoman

Hired

Featured Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

The other shoe has dropped: I got a job. I GOT A JOB. Not just any job, either – it’s a writing job. Full time, with benefits starting the exact day I must have them. I start mid-November. And the best part about it is that I’m not anxious about it at all. I know I can do it well and I won’t get all squirmy about it. A little of that is inevitable, of course, as it would be with any new job.  But I’ve signed the offer letter accepting the job and I have enough to do before I start that I don’t think I’ll spend any time worrying about the myriad ways I could imagine screwing it up.

Because I’m not going to screw it up. As God is my witness, I’m not going to screw this up. If I can avoid it. And if I can stop worrying about screwing it up over something I didn’t realize would screw it up. OK ENOUGH, Annie. YOU GOT IT. THEY WANT YOU (Note impressive self-restraint in not going the Sally Field quote route, here).

I wrote the below about 10 minutes after the call offering me the job. As you can see I was a bit excited. I still am, I’m just not going to scream at you in ALL CAPS. But reading it through it was kind of funny so I thought I’d go ahead and inflict it on you.

So here’s my brain on “holy crap I actually got a job I’m going to like that pays a living wage!”

I GOT THE OFFER AND THEY BUMPED UP THE PAY RATE SO IT WILL ACTUALLY BE WORTH THE COMMUTE I GOT THE JOB I GOT THE JOB I GOT THE JOB THANKS FOR ALL YOUR GOOD VIBES SORRY TO SCREAM AT YOU IN ALL CAPS BUT I’M SO EXCITED BECAUSE I’M ACTUALLY GOING TO LIKE THIS JOB IT WILL BE FUN IT IS WRITING AND I WILL GET PAID FOR WRITING HOLY CRAP WITH HEALTH INSURANCE AND EVERYTHING GOD IS GREAT FAITH WORKS HANG ON GOOD THINGS WILL COME OMG OMG OMG NOW I HAVE TO HIRE SOMEONE AS A COMPANION FOR ANGELIC DAUGHTER BUT WE CAN HANDLE IT OMG OMG OMG AN ACTUAL JOB WRITING WRITING WOWEE ZOWEE AND ON TOP OF THAT ONE OF MY LIFE’S AMBITIONS JUST CAME TRUE OF HOSTING A FAMILY MEAL IN THIS HOUSE I’VE SPENT SO MUCH MONEY AND ENERGY ON MY BROTHERS AND ONE OF MY SISTERS-IN-LAW CAME AND WE HAD SUCH A FUN MEAL IT WASN’T LONG ENOUGH AND I WAS RUSHED MAKING THE SOUP AND OH BY THE WAY I DID MAKE THE SOUP HERE’S A PICTURE IMG_20191022_141943840~2.jpg AND NOT EXACTLY PIE BECAUSE I DIDN’T HAVE  TIME FOR THE CRUST SO I MADE A FRENCH FRUIT TART CRUST WHICH WAS OK BUT NOT MY BEST IMG_20191022_141935304~2.jpgAND I BROWNED THE ONIONS IN THE SQUASH SOUP BUT THE BURNT-ISH FLAVOR WAS ALMOST COVERED UP BY SOME EXTRA APPLE JUICE AND BROWN SUGAR AND THEY SAID THEY LIKED IT BUT EVEN IF THEY WERE LYING I DON’T CARE BECAUSE THIS HAS BEEN A SPECTACULAR DAY EVEN THOUGH IT IS COLD AND WINDY I DON’T CARE MY GOD I ACTUALLY GOT A JOB OFFER AND BESIDES THAT ONE OF MY CNF ESSAYS HAS BEEN ACCEPTED IT’S A BLOG BUT IT IS A BLOG ASSOCIATED WITH A MAGAZINE AND IT MEANS SOMEONE WHO KNOWS ABOUT WRITING THINKS I CAN ACTUALLY WRITE THIS IS AMAZING WHAT DO I DO WHAT DO I DO AM I SUPPOSED TO POST A GIF LIKE THIS

OR MAYBE THIS

THAT REMINDS ME I’VE NEVER SEEN THOSE MINIONS MOVIES I SHOULD WATCH THOSE ANGELIC DAUGHTER WANTS POPCORN SO MAYBE WE CAN HAVE MOVIE NIGHT OMG OMG OMG A WRITING JOB WITH HEALTH INSURANCE I HOPE I DON’T HAVE A HEART ATTACK WITH JOY BEFORE I EVEN START BRING IT I CAN DO IT I CAN WRITE ANYTHING TO ORDER LIKE FALLING OFF A LOG THIS IS SO AWESOME I’M JUMPING OUT OF MY SKIN WHAT DO I DO NOW I HAVE TO WAIT FOR AN EMAIL TO SIGN OFF ON THE OFFER WHICH MEANS I REALLY SHOULDN’T BE CROWING ABOUT THIS SO MUCH IN CASE I JINX IT BUT LIVE WITHOUT FEAR I GOT IT I GOT IT I GOT IT I WILL BE AN EMPLOYED PERSON AT A JOB I ACTUALLY WILL LOVE WITH ENERGETIC FUN PEOPLE WHO LOVE WHAT THEY DO IT DOESN’T GET BETTER THAN THIS OR MAYBE IT DOES KEEP DREAMING KEEP BELIEVING MAYBE GOOD THINGS WILL KEEP HAPPENING OK ANNIE DON’T GET GREEDY JUST BE GRATEFUL GRATEFUL GRATEFUL I AM I AM I AM WHOOP WHOOP THIS IS AWESOME

Trying to resume decorum, I remain,

Your newly hired,

Ridiculouswoman

Validation Celebration

Those of  you who follow me on Twitter (@ridiculouswidow) already know this, but I wanted to let blog readers know that a piece of mine called “Imperfection”  has been accepted by Ruminate Magazine’s blog, The Waking, and is tentatively scheduled to appear on November 14. My Submittable scoreboard stands at one acceptance (that one), one rejection (of a piece I intend to submit elsewhere and keep trying) and one “received” that hasn’t turned into an “in-progress” yet, but I think it should soon, since it is for a December issue.

Big shout out to RomComDojo‘s Maggie Dove, the Mother-Goddess of my budding attempts to get published and build my “platform,” without whom I would not have known about Submittable and the opportunities listed there. Read everything she writes. She is awesome. And hilarious. And frequently pissed off, sometimes tragically, but usually in a tragicomic way.

This will be the second time my work has appeared on a blog other than my own, which is giving me the idea that I can actually think of myself as a writer, and the motivation to keep writing.

Receiving an acceptance reminded me of a charming, quirky TV show from the ’90s called “Northern Exposure,” about a young doctor who (reluctantly, initially) serves a small Alaskan town, and the characters that inhabit that town. I loved that show. There was one episode that was particularly memorable for me, focused on the character Ed, a young Native American/First Nations man, who is pursued by a Little Green Man who presented Ed with various psychological demons (Season 5, Episode 8, couldn’t find a video). Little Green Man famously says,

“Ed, you’re dealing with the demon of external validation. You can’t beat external validation. You want to know why? Because it feels sooo good.”

(Northern Exposure, Season 5 Quotes. Quotes.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 25 Oct. 2019). (Scroll down).

Truer words were never spoken.

Ruminate Magazine and its blog, The Waking, are about “cheering on life, faith and art.” They provide a “contemplative and imaginative space” to slow down, “for people feeling overwhelmed by life’s frantic pace.” The piece they accepted is highly personal, and it is the first submission of  mine through Submittable that earned acceptance. When I found out, I was ecstatic – I’M A WRITER! I’M A WRITER! – and then, predictably, freaked out, because this essay exposes even more of my flaw-filled self than I have exposed to you here. But I started writing again because I was determined not to be ruled by fear anymore, even if living up to that is often a battle. When Mike died, I decided I would try to really live – both as a way to honor his courage and because his brave path showed me how fragile, ethereal and brief life can be. It would be crazy to carry on as usual, mired in routine, without being “awake,” to use Ruminate’s word, to the beauty of the world and the people all around me, and even in myself, with my talents and my many flaws, and to be grateful for them, and to find joy in life, even with, or despite, its brokenness.

So On November 14, I’ll be breathing deeply and staying as calm as possible until (and after) the piece appears, and I’ll share the link, and we’ll see where I go from there.

I have other good new to share but I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop on that one so until I’m really, really sure it is tied up in a bow I can’t tell you now, but I’ll tell you as soon as I can.  Don’t mean to be a tease – I’m anxious about it, but I didn’t see a reason to wait on this announcement about progress in my fledgling writing “career.”

Until then, I remain,

Your grateful, humbled, anxious but breathing deeply,

Ridiculouswoman

Photo from Pixabay but I lost the link to the (not required, but I like to give credit where credit is due) attribution – will post if I can find it again.