BEAUTIFUL WORDS I’VE READ LATELY | 03

Posted: July 9, 2019 by Rachel

Hanging On To A Home

Stretching its long legs and shaking the sleep from its eyes, our home decided to move. This of course surprised us. You jumped out of bed and ran to hold shut the rattling cupboards. I went around collecting the paintings from the walls and stacked in safe layers the history of our bad taste. As the landscape changed, we watched the prairie give way to skyline to skyline to skyline as our home sprinted from one city to another.

Trinkets from a dozen travels vanished. Shelves toppled over. Books-I-promised-to-read flew out windows and doors. We lost the cat somewhere in Pennsylvania. Things come and go, and we cannot save everything—though you still sometimes talk about that missing sweater.

For years our home kept its pace, and we spent many nights wondering what it was searching for. We never found an answer, but eventually, our home slowed from its youthful sprint to a walk. What we learned from watching the lives of others is that some homes run until they are tired, others until they break. I wish we had that coffee table, and I still feel bad about the cat, but I think we have done well. We are no longer where we started, but we are still here, and how good it has been hanging on for dear life with you.

— Jan Siemen
(via Popshot)


Strangers

There are strangers in the beginning:
those who untuck the neatness from your edges,
propel
you forward into the warmth
reminiscent of an old friend’s
familiar grip.
Then, there are strangers at the end:
those silhouettes of a person
gutted
from the presence of your life,
who took the tucked away parts of yourself
with them.

— Charlotte Spires
(via)

35 Years

Posted: June 7, 2019 by Rachel

Today, June 7th, 2019, is my 35th birthday. I’m writing from a chair on the back deck of my parent’s house in Ontario, Canada. The weather is much like what it was two weeks ago back in Las Vegas: mid-70s. It’s glorious.

It’s strange to be back here so soon. We left only six weeks ago, a few days after my mother’s funeral. Yet here I am, celebrating a birthday in my childhood home thousands of miles away from my husband, without my mom.

I woke up much too early this morning feeling groggy and unsure what time zone my body was existing in. DJ and I flew in last night, got to bed late. We will be asleep the moment our heads hit our pillows tonight, that is for sure. Right now, DJ and my dad are across the street watching a neighbor have his driveway re-paved. Anything involving big trucks is a big hit with him.

Tonight I will be having dinner with some of my oldest friends—and some newer though just as dear. I’m grateful for these women who have always been there when I needed them, who supported me in the last days of my mother’s life in ways that I cannot put in words. I don’t know who I would be without these four women. 

I feel blessed to be here celebrating my 35th surrounded by my family and friends. I left Kitchener over eight years and four months ago, not really knowing what I was getting myself into. All I knew was I loved Dominic, wanted to marry him and start a family, and I was willing to give Las Vegas a try. I celebrated my last eight birthdays there, each of them perfect in their simplicity, but being here in my hometown, celebrating what I consider to be one of the “big” birthdays feels right.

I was so worried about turning thirty, and here I am, thirty-five. It’s not so bad; these years that are adding upon one another. I like to think that with each passing year I’m wiser, more patient, more sure of myself. I feel as though I’m still looking alright, too. All in all, I’m okay with my age. I have so much of what I wanted out of life and what I don’t? Well that gives me something to strive for.


The Season Ahead

Posted: June 3, 2019 by Rachel

Despite time moving more slowly than ever—and feeling entirely different since my mother’s death—it’s June somehow. I shake my head every time I’m reminded of this fact. The end of the school year has come and gone; my son is no longer a kindergartener. That alone makes me feel nostalgic, emotional, and a few others things. 

I have a tendency of retreating into myself when things get hard, and Things. Are. Hard. But I don’t want to do that this time. My mom would hate it—she would hate to know how much I’ve shut friends and family out already. If anything, I need to lean into the season ahead with a renewed sense of immediacy because I don’t know if you’ve heard, but tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. 

Summer twenty-nineteen is upon us.

It’s not hard to picture the coming months. If I close my eyes I can easily picture fingers sticky from popsicles, iced coffee under the back patio, blowing bubbles in the pool, the smell of hot dogs and corn on the grill, our feet in the sand like the above photo of DJ from last August. Dominic trimming the palm trees shirtless, DJ whacking at plastic golf balls with plastic sticks, me complaining about the 107° (or higher) temperatures, the camera never too far from reach. But beyond this my plans are centered around self-care: reading, writing (in whatever form comes most naturally) and trying to reel in my caffeine consumption. 

I suppose what I want the most out of summer is for it to move slowly. I want to be present for every moment, to notice everything I may have missed in the past. To put my phone down or better yet away. To switch off my work email at the end of a long day. To say yes to DJ’s every request. This has got to be a season of yes

There are plans in motion already: ten days in Canada with DJ this month—a trip we had booked back in January so that my parents could have a solid amount of time with their grandson–, day camps, trips to the lake with the jet ski’s. Dominic and I lie in bed at night daydreaming about getting out to La Jolla again while simultaneously laughing because we know it will be a struggle with his work schedule. It’s important to dream though. To keep the hope alive that we can make it work in the end.

The last thing I want is to send my son off to school in August wishing that we had done more, been more messy, had more fun. I want him to look back on his summer break with a smile on his face. What’s more: I want the same for myself. Especially—especially—this summer.

Some Thoughts on Gratitude

Posted: May 31, 2019 by Rachel

I woke up Wednesday morning with a deep sense of exhaustion in my bones and had only one thought beyond wishing I could go back to sleep: That I would be grateful for this day I’ve been granted. I closed my eyes and listened to the birds outside the window, the kind of quiet coming from my son’s bedroom that could only mean he was still asleep, the soft breathing of my husband in bed next to me. I slipped out of bed and tugged on a housecoat over my nightgown. I was on a mission for coffee; if I acted quickly—and quietly—I could enjoy it in bed before DJ woke up.

When I sat back down on the bed, hot cup of coffee in hand, I forced myself to be still for a moment longer. I studied the way the early morning sun cast itself over the furniture and walls in the bedroom. I listened again to my husband’s breathing. I took my first sip of coffee.

It’s easy to get caught up in the every day minutia of life—work, parenting, cooking and cleaning, errand running and bill paying—and forget to stop and recognize just how lucky you are. You, me; we’ve both been granted another day. All we have to do is embrace it. Play with your kids, your dogs, whatever it is. Kiss your partner.  Do something for yourself, for someone else. Try your hardest. Be the best version of yourself you can be.

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A New Chapter

Posted: May 28, 2019 by Rachel

I don’t notice the color of my therapist’s new office during my first visit, but looking back on it now, I imagine it to be an unimaginative shade of beige.

Beige is boring. And entirely expected.

I can, however, recall the way her dark hair was pulled away from her face, and her kind eyes. I wonder if that’s a prerequisite to becoming a therapist; those eyes. The kind that can coax anything from you—the truth, perhaps. Certainly everything else, too.

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words to live by

Posted: May 24, 2019 by Rachel

What Has Always Been

Again I resume the long
lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest.

What more did I
think I wanted? Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be.

Wendell Berry
(via)

she always knew when enough was enough

Posted: May 5, 2019 by Rachel

on losing a mother

not many people can tell you what you’re in for
when you lose a parent suddenly.
i’m glad that’s the case, but good god
it would be nice to talk to someone my age
who understands what it feels like.

my mom died seventeen days ago.
we’d been by her side for days, weeks, all of us—
sisters, aunts, nieces, nephews, granddaughters,
brothers, daughters, husband, friends—
but she waited until i stepped out for a moment,
when she could be alone with my dad,
to take her last breath.

i sat back in a tiny, uncomfortable chair,
pulled my legs tight against me and wept.
i’ve never felt more alone than in that moment
and i hope i never feel that again.

the last words my mom spoke to me,
three days before she passed away,
were in response to a simple question i’d asked:
“how are you feeling?”
i’d arrived back at the hospital after stopping home for a shower
and something to eat that wasn’t fast food
to find my aunt bent over her, singing, crying.
my mom turned to me, and spoke so quietly
i could barely hear a thing:
“i feel at peace,” she said.
less than 48 hours later she was gone.

it all happened much quicker than any of us expected,
but that’s my mom for you:
she always knew when enough was enough.
she’d made her peace, said her goodbyes
and now it was our turn.

Ready for the Sun.

Posted: March 8, 2019 by Rachel

current office view

It got cold again here in Las Vegas. Although I feel almost bad typing this when my friends and family back in Ontario, Canada are dealing with highs almost thirty degrees cooler, it’s still cold. And overcast. And rainy.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the cold and darkness of winter was getting to me. We’ve had some glimpses of sun since them, but nothing that has stuck. I know Spring is just around the corner, and that the clocks jumping forward this week will help, but, again: oof. I’m ready now.

I’ve taken to raising the blinds here in my office while I work. Most days it’s not the most beautiful view, but it does serve to remind me that there is a world out there that exists, which is especially hard when I’m editing page 87 of a 249 page manuscript that we’re behind on. My editing muscle hasn’t been put to the test in quite a while on works other than my own. And Men’s Adventure isn’t usually my go-to genre. But I will say this for the genre: it moves fast, which keeps me on my toes.

Now I’ve forgotten what I came here to say.

Right, the world outside my window.

To say it’s been a crazy last twelve months is putting it lightly. I’m not one of those people who takes pride in being insanely busy. To me, it just means unnecessary stress, and when I’m stressed I cry. Oh boy do I cry. I cried last night and again this morning. I’ll probably cry tomorrow, too. It’s how I cope. Shopping also helps me cope, but that’s bad, so I’m not going to talk about that. (I have two items to be returned to their respective stores tonight that I’m not going to talk about either).

What I’m saying is that I’m ready for a new season. A slightly slower season. A sit-outside-with-a-book-and-iced-coffee kind of season. A season of teaching my son to ride his bike without training wheels, of watching my husband and son race cars out on the road. A season of park visits and messy popsicle juice dripping down our arm. A season where I turn the computer off at the end of the day and don’t check my email again until the next work day.

I’m ready for the sun.

oof.

Posted: February 22, 2019 by Rachel

I’m not the least bit ashamed to say I’ve been struggling a bit lately. February. Dark, cold, tiring February. I’m not a fan. I’m not the biggest fan of winter overall, actually. One of the best things I ever did was leave Canada for Las Vegas eight years ago. The winters here are much more mild and forgiving, though I feel strange writing this as we come off of two days of heavy (for us) snowfall. You heard me right; I said snow. That photo was taken looking out my front window.

So, February has kind of been kicking my butt. Oof. I feel perpetually tired (I’m talking exhausted once 4pm hits) and my inspiration levels have been steadily dropping. As I’m in the thick of writing my new book (just a little shy of 30k words at the moment) I worry about letting this melancholy get any worse. I’m worried my book will go down the drain.

I know I’m not the only one having these feelings–they’re all over social media and in my inbox and ears too. February is hard on so many of us. I wish I could snap my fingers and make it Spring. Just give me the light. Give me waking up to a bright room. Give me iced coffee and pink lemonade.

Sometimes cooking some of my favorite recipes helps, like this apricot and cheddar chicken melt that Dom can’t get enough of, or this honey sriracha sesame chicken with cauliflower. But, oof, my cooking has suffered too. The other night I made breakfast for dinner: hash browns, turkey bacon and eggs all mixed together. I added salsa verde to mine and devoured it. The boys loved it too. DJ asked for it the next night, and you know what? I made it again.

All of this has just been a long-winded way of saying I’m over you, February. Of course, before I know it it will be the dead of the summer and I’ll be complaining about how much I’m sweating and the very particular way the Las Vegas sun has of feeling as though it’s burning into your skin. But that’s a story for another day.

things I think about at 5:30a.m. on (what happens to be) valentine’s day morning

Posted: February 14, 2019 by Rachel

First, and always: go back to bed. Then… everything else.

I must remember to get heart balloons while DJ’s at school. I did that last year and he remembered, and asked if there would be balloons this year. He has a great memory when he wants to.

Should I change things up now, while it’s early, and use my full name as a writer?

More rain? And while we’re at it: I’m over this winter darkness and am ready for Spring.

I really should try just to have one cup of coffee today.

I’m not anti-Valentines Day but that doesn’t mean I enjoy the bombardment of cheesy instagram posts and awful jewelry ads I’ll be faced with today. #cliche

Is that a headache looming or am I just really tired?

Don’t forget to look for a copy of the illustrated Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for DJ’s birthday. Also: see if you can find the second book on sale for mom and dad to give him.

I’m tired, I could go back to bed.

Just 918 words left until I hit the halfway mark of my first draft. Do I have time to do it today?

Where is DJ’s red shirt that he wanted to wear to school today? I really hope it’s not in the wash (when was the last time I did laundry anyway?)

Do I have time to shower before everyone else gets up?

I’m up, so I may as well get working on those 918 words.

I’m tired; I need coffee.