Seven Year Itch

It’s that time again, dear two-or-three readers of this blog.

The seven year itch is nigh.  I can feel it.  The molting has begun.  The re-shedding of ones former self.  The Process. The time when all that has transpired in the last 7 years seems to be bathed in a dim light, and it’s time to hang fresh bright curtains in the house.

Haven’t you heard about the ‘every seven years’ thing?

In my experience, this is a real thing.  The other day while driving in my car I was thinking (it happens, that I think while I’m driving in my car) that all this itching to renew and refresh and clean out in my house felt stronger this spring than other years.  I wondered if my recently renewed desire for running has any connection to the 7-year cycle?  It seems I have been fairly motionless for the last 6-7 years, so the running might be a literal and figurative departure from ‘stagnation.’

I don’t know.  I am just itching to travel more, to move more, to paint and to make, and build herb garden fences.

 

Vent.

“The thing about a vent is it only blows one way.”   -Who said that?

The last few days have been stressful and off kilter, with work getting more intense and we are short handed and just getting to basic project work gets to be a challenge when I’m also having to answer the phone and basic customer service stuff.  And I like those things and the project work, but the challenge is Time.

I’ve worked late a few days this week, which has thrown off the running schedule.  When I was running 6 days a week, I felt charged and balanced and all was Ohmmm.  Now I’ve missed three days in a row, and my personal rule was to not ever go more than two days and I’m on track to miss tonight also, because it’s Friday and I think I’d rather go have a Guinness with my son, his first one on tap.  The going to get a Guinness on tap at a bar, after he turns 21, has long been a thing we’ve looked forward to doing.  There’s book club too, tonight…. might just skip that also, on account of that Guinness.

Another thing that is bugging me is how every spring I get really antsy to clean out the house and get rid of stuff that is just taking up space.  I have no time to do this of course, so the piles just grow taller.  I have a pile of stuff in the corner of my kitchen that includes a basket with garden seed packets, a small box with empty canning jars, and 4 cork trivets.  I mean, why are these things still hanging out in the corner of my kitchen?

Why do I even have a corner in my kitchen?  I should build a new house with no corners.  Like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.  Or maybe a tiny house, with no room for unused stuff?  Or just reboot my house and refill it with everything IKEA?  Or Danish modern?  A little Le Corbusier and Eames couldn’t hurt.

And of course, the agony of springtime.  I don’t mean agony as in allergies (afflicted only mildly)  but when the weather is so beautiful and I’m stuck inside an office almost all day, the torture of this restricted freedom is super annoying.  To compensate, I venture outside on hour-long lunches just inhaling the sunlight and the breeziness and as many nose tickling pollen as possible.  God bless me.

The springflingy weather and the extended daylight hours are also what shine a spotlight on those stuffy corners in my life.  (Heh, see what I did there?  Stuffy corners.)  So, I’m planning vacation days to clean house.  Housecleaning vacation days.  The alternative to a cruise down to the Cayman Islands.

Have you ever been on a cruise to Caribbean islands?   I never thought I’d say this, but recently, the idea of going on one crossed my mind.  I’ve actually entertained the thought, the possibility of this being a fun thing to do.  Am I going loco?

Well, at least today is Friday.  And I do believe there is a Guinness waiting for me at the end of the day.

running a spring fever

Have I mentioned that I’ve been training/running lately?

Yesterday was day 16 or 17, not sure – but my trainer is keeping track and logging my progress.  My trainer is also my kid, my 17 year old son.  I hired him, and he seems to really enjoy the job.  And he’s good.  He has several years of experience in running so the training is as good as professional.  I feel like I’m on a real program, each day is different and there are speed days and endurance days and distance days.   And yesterday it was a hill-day!  “Hills are speed workouts in disguise,” he says.

My goal is to run a 5K race with him in November, but I’m on track to run a 5K much sooner. (He’s a GOOD trainer!)  I’m surprising myself each day that I can do more than I thought I could.  He keeps track of all the details, the times, the distances, but even more important is his great encouraging coaching style.  When I run laps he cheers me with motivators like, “You’re pacing ahead! Good job!  Stretch your stride, you’ve got this! All the way!  Halfway there, perfect pace!” and so on.

Best of all, I think, is the rush of endorfins after a good run.  Running is so unpleasant, until the end and your body is basking in the rush afterward.

The Open Road

Yesterday afternoon I made an impromptu trip up the road to the rt museum to check out their current photography exhibit The Open Road.  The show is a collection of works from about 20 photographers, all with the common theme of “the American road trip.”

As I meandered through the galleries looking at the photographs I kept thinking, wow, I think my dad would enjoy this.  He loves road trips!

The photographers were all new names to me, as I’m not a really up to date with the great photographer artists of the times, sadly, and such.  I should figure out how to get more spare time into my life to be able to build my knowledge base on these matters.   Back in college, we never seemed to delved too deeply into to photography, for some reason.

So, I was a sponge, soaking up as much of the images and the short captions and stories that went with each piece or photographer.   The photos capture scenes along the American roadways and town from around the 1960s to recent years.

I walked around with my sketchbook, jotting down impressions and some quotes from the different photographers.  It was also pretty cool to see places as they were 30, 40, 50 years ago.  That the United States Interstate Highway system was formed as ‘recently’ as 1956 (60 years? not very long ago) is kind of hard to believe – I can’t really imagine life without cars or highways.  (I guess that’s what our kids think about the information superhighway?)

One of the photographers, William Eggleston, photographed with color when color photos was considered revolutionary when it came to “art photographs” – color photography in the 19602-70s was mostly associated with advertising and design photography.  He is quoted, “I am at war with the obvious.”

Another photographer also impressed me, Robert Frank.  He was born in Switzerland and traveled across the United States in the 1950s.  He published a book with the photographs, The American’s, 1959.  His photos are said to be the visual equivalent of the jazz music that was popular at the time, maybe because they depicted or captured a sense of unfiltered emotion? His photos that are in the exhibit do invite thought and contemplation.  Here is a recent story on Robert Frank: “The Man Who Saw America.

Some of the more contemporary photographers incorporated digital elements.  And then there was Stephen Shore who was quite active in the 1970s, and now also shares shots on his Instagram.

I also just loved the idea of the Open Road theme.  The road trip.  I love roadtrips too, an of course, I take lots of photos when I travel.

There was one gallery showing snippets from a collection of road trip themes movies.

roadmovies

And of course, the road trip soundtrack.  The museum curated a road trip Spotify playlist.  What else would you add to a road trip playlist?

 

 

Meanwhile

Spring break is around the corner and this year I am taking a few days for my own personal vacation.  While I probably won’t make it west to Tulsa to check out Bob Dylan’s Secret Archive, I am hoping to do a little exploring in Texas with my aunt to visit places where my ancestors lived a very long time ago.   I also want to include a good visit with my brother.  I wish it was easier to make impromptu visits with my family…

So what is happening?  The days are getting lighter… and I don’t know if it my “age” or what, but this winter has been especially “long” and dark and super claustrophobic for me.  For some reason, thoughts like “I would not mind living somewhere sunny and warm” have crossed my mind.  This may be a temporary anomaly… it is not like me to not enjoy cold grey days.

 

Rooting around in roots

Recently, my aunt shared her login to a big genealogy website and I am in serious trouble now.  The addiction is real.  I stay up late, neglect my responsibilities, and I go to bed and wake up thinking about the long lost ancestors in our families.

I’m amazed not only by finding these names and links to relatives, but I find it fascinating to see the handwriting on old old census records and death & birth certificates.  There are all kinds of records, now searchable online thanks to OCR and just so much content in the form of scanned newspapers, old military records, and photographs.

It’s like building a weird ancient version of facebook.  Not really.  But sorta.  In a pataphysical way, maybe. (I just used the word ‘pataphysical’ in a sentence for the second time this year.)

Although there is no sound or video.  Smells. Or even color…. unless I go to the museum up the road and look at paintings from 1700s and 1800s.

I haven’t gone far into the Swedish roots. But a few of the American side branches/twigs extend all the way to the 1600s.

 

The Suitcase

A wise person once said you can only fit so much into a suitcase.  Or something along those lines.

My suitcase is packed tight.  It’s pretty organized.  Compartmentalized.  A place for everything I want and need.  Some things are on top, for quick, frequent and easy access.

Other things are stowed securely and tucked down where I know it will not be lost… I know it’s there. And that is good.

‘All that you can’t leave behind.’

 

Winter

Everyday there is more light and the winter tunnel is shorter.  Looking around, everything in nature is still asleep. Dormant.  In hibernation.

Bare branches and faded lawns.

Chilly piercing mornings that nudge me back under my covers.

Congealed energy.

But the days are growing longer. And I do see the light, off in the distance a little bit.

This is January.

Rituals

When I set the table Sunday evening there was a frozen lasagna in the oven just 10 minutes from the timer to buzz. I noticed the familiar scene. The table.  Nothing fancy.  The basics, but somehow, extra special.

A private label brand, frozen lasagna.  On the side, a warmed up $1.00 loaf of store brand deli French bread (to go with the Italian dish…) that I’d pre-sliced and brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with just a hint of garlic salt…  and then, artfully, I prepared a head of iceberg lettuce, cutting  it into lovely slices and splayed on an extra plate.  On top of the lettuce, some frozen corn and English peas (rinsed and mostly thawed) and a drizzle of ranch dressing swirled in a ring around them.  Sprinkled with some pepper, for that special touch.
The food was ordinary.  But, the meal and the setting and the presentation was just enough to make the experience of sitting down to eat dinner a little extra special.

Add a few tea lights on the table, and suddenly it’s an occasion.

I like to think that my step mom Britt is my inspiration making a simple dinner into a kind of ritual, something of honor.

Our evenings may not look like Downton Abbey dinner time but we do gather together and this I hope matters.

17

“I can now see R-Rated movies and buy games rated M for Mature.”
“Don’t take any photos, Mom. Be in the moment.”
“I had an epiphany today. Instead of trying to figure out what to pick as a major in college, I think about my future in terms of how I want to make a difference in the world. What problems do I want to help solve?”
“My hair is almost long enough to pull into a topknot.”
“This year my resolution is to drink at least two full quarts of water every day.”

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>>When your brother and mom sing the Happy Birthday Song and you try not to show you kinda like it.

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>> The cool Gandalf the Grey banner on the chocolate birthday cake with buttercream icing.

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>>  When your mom sneaks a photo of your new head set…. and you catch her taking the picture and order her to not post it on social media.  Reminding her, “just be in the moment, Mom.”