Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Problems and Peonies

At the risk of repeating myself, I knew I was in for some real trouble today when I woke up in cold sweats because I had casually not gone to a single class all semester and tomorrow was finals and I had to race to the Registrar's office to find a handbook on the policy for these situations but they were all out of handbooks so I raced to the bulletin board where all the syllabuses (I can't do "syllabi" when I'm in stone-cold REM sleep. You understand.) but some rude jock had taken them all down and sprayed them with graffiti, rendering them illegible.

(For what it's worth, I don't remember ever visiting the Registrar's office in real life, and there was no such bulletin board.)

But the more pressing question is, WHAT ON EARTH IS MY PROBLEM? And even more compelling, why does my brain, at the very least, not know to switch to a more seasonally appropriate recurring nightmare?

It's not like I'm behind the eight-ball or drowning in a pile of deadlines or tasked with doing anything even vaguely productive right now.


I'm baking muffins, reading on lounge chairs, refereeing arguments, eating Popsicles, getting groceries (< this would actually be a more logical nightmare. Will she ever get out of Kroger? Will she have forgotten her Plus card at check-out again? For the love of all that's holy, will she ever remember to buy Worcestershire sauce? Or learn to pronounce it???)

Mostly, my full-time job is keeping my wits and repeating my mantras and clawing for perspective and patience like my life depends on it.

Mostly, my job is waving it off when my kids decide they are "tired of grapes" and would rather have a cache of perfectly ripened mangoes at their disposal.

Mostly, my job is to listen to hours upon sun-soaked hours of this:

Si: Mom, how much hours is it?
Me: How many hours for what?
Si: No. How. Much. HOURS. Until the thing.
Me: What thing, buddy? You need to give me more than that.
Si: Why do I need to give you something? Just how much hours???
Me: (gives up)

And this:

Si: Listen, Mommy! I'm going to say all the numbers but like they start with F. Fun Foo Free Four...Fenty-fix...Fifty-five! Hey, that worked!...Feighty-feven...
Me: (retreats to a happier place around fixteen)

And this:

Ruby: When do we get to go back to that one place?
Me: I need more info, Rubes.
R: 'member? We went that one time? Never-mind.
Me: Just give me some details! I don't like it when you guys never-mind me. Just try again!
R: Well, we like went there and...like...stayed at the house and played with...like...our friends.
Me: Think about what you're saying and try again (simultaneously dies a small soul-death).
R: We went to that one place and like, I mean, sorry, we went there and played with...(trying so hard not to say "like") our friends?
Me: Who? Or where were we? Describe the place! (Miraculously opts not to pick the battle of ending statements with a question mark because Jesus died, rose again, and sits at the right hand of God.)
R: I don't know! We went on a tube in the water.
Me: Melinda's house at the lake?
R: Yes!
Me: Oh. I don't know when we'll go back.
Si: Wait. Go back where???

Let's just say I catch myself saying things like, "You're going to have to do your best to not be annoying on purpose or we'll all lose our minds."

I'm not proud of it.

Let's just say, hypothetically, that my youngest child padlocked the closet where I keep the broom then LOST THE KEY.

Enough about me, how's your summer going? (She asked, brightly.)

Here's the thing, and I don't want you to throw a cream pie in my face (please actually do throw a cream pie in my face) or egg my car (we might not even notice.) I hate to be too ridiculously optimistic and I suffer daily the impulse to rebrand myself as a staunch alarmist. But all things considered, I'm still landing on this is the good life.

And I say that as a woman who knows.
I say that as a woman caught in a speed trap this afternoon after spending hours in the 90-degree heat at a pool with 3 children and a neighbor girl, a woman issued a ticket by an officer younger than her oldest son who dared to say, "I have to do this, Ma'am. Please watch your speed", a woman who was greeted at home fifteen minutes later by a fine for an unpaid toll which she strategically missed after carefully weighing her options and deciding against the one that would have threatened her very life along with the life of countless other motorists.

Sue me.

Actually, please don't. Not with the streak of bad luck I'm dangling from today.

Because today's mail also brought a notice for a parking ticket incurred last month in an unknown city wherein myself, Cory, and two equally-educated friends stared at a street signage long enough for our eyes to cross and unanimously decided it was a safe public parking space.


I retreated to my room and cried for a solid hour, which did strange things to my heart, and I'm not just referring to the fact that God and I had a come-to-Jesus moment (??) or the fact that Silas crept in and fought back his own tears over my sadness while silently rubbing my back.

>> This just in: The Martin kids now believe a speeding ticket is just one degree removed from death itself.<<

Tomorrow is a new day. We'll pick berries and remember how much we love each other. We'll land softly in a new place of perspective. I'll remember how impossibly wonderful Cory is, how widely I miss the "deserving" mark.


I'll remember the no-brainer-good days, like the one a few weeks ago when we tooled around Oscar Morse Peonies, just a few miles from our front door and in full bloom. The owner's daughter took her time showing us around that afternoon and let Si and Rubes pluck as many petals off the ground to make perfume (eau de Rotting Raccoon Carcass?) I'll remember how, before we left, she opened a giant refrigerator in the garage and handed me two bundled of dormant peonies that bloomed in my kitchen the same afternoon and in my soul for the next two weeks.

As with all of life, this is summer.
We get to live the weird, the wonderful, and even the grim. We get to call it all Good.

PS - Early next week I'm sending out a Super Scoop newsletter where I answer a bunch of questions my email-friends have asked me, and y'all, they went straight for the guts, light, simple fare like, "how do you survive in marriage," and "how do you deal with fear?" and "What do you do when you feel alone?" and, easiest of all, "How do you discern God's will?" Gah, I LOVE MY EMAIL FRIENDS! They got the memo that I hate small-talk and it blesses my murmuring heart. Make sure you've subscribed to the Super Scoop newsletter so you don't miss out!


  1. I am sorry it was a tough day, but reading this post made my day - I laughed all the way through! (sorry?) And you are such a good salesperson, that I got all excited about the Super Scoop newsletter - turns out I already subscribed. Duh. Let me tell you, the 50+ year old brain is not to be trusted! Something else for you to look forward to :)

  2. "This just in: The Martin kids now believe a speeding ticket is just one degree removed from death itself."

    That, my friend, is the line that made me laugh out loud. xo.

  3. Oh man, all of those car related things in one day?! Makes me want to just walk EVERYWHERE!!!

    1. Me toooo! I fell asleep last night saying something mumbly to Cory like, "I don't trust myself anymore..." Woe is me! ;)

  4. Those peony pictures make me swooney! They are some of my all time favorite flowers. Give me a bouquet of those and a bag of dark chocolate and I'd be able to skip right past all the traffic violations in peace! :-) Glad you have rebounded! Today is a new day!

  5. Ok, favorite photos- #7 with the peony looking straight into the camera, full of beauty and confident in its bloom and the one of Ruby staring at her flower #hearteyes!

    Also, I haven't read blogs in a while, and I forgot how much I like you. So there it is. I like you, and I missed your voice in my life.

  6. I literally used to say to my now 17 year old, "My brain hurts, please stop talking/asking questions!" Honestly, I still often retreat to my happy place while he talks, remind myself I'm lucky he will still talk to me, and eventually go right back to my happy place. I must say I do wish he had gotten the message that speeding tickets are one degree removed from death....Oh, and very recently I had a police officer chastise me for "setting a bad example". Yes, he was approximately the same age as the aforementioned teenager.

    Finally, I am jealous of your peonies!

  7. Oh Shannan. I have these types of convos with my 3 year old ALL DAY LONG. You mean to tell me that it doesn't stop?!?
    Oh and I once got 3 red light tickets (for not making a complete stop) in a week and a half to the tune of $300 dollars. When I came home one day the hubs had printed out pictures of traffic lights and had them hanging all around the house (the garage door, the fridge, the kitchen chandelier, etc). I thought he was being romantic and all the stop lights were some creative way he was expressing his love. Turns out he wanted to make sure I knew what the lights were for and what you were suppose to do when you saw one! 😆😆😆

  8. Laughter is good for the soul. Thanks soul sister. Thanks for reminding me that when I took my child back home to Texas in March I got a ticket for being stuck on the clover leaf in Dallas and never paid my toll fine.

  9. I LOVE your blog! I've had a much needed good laugh today (at your expense unfortunately!) But Thank you! LOL I hope the rest of the week is much calmer. (I got a parking ticket this week. I even paid for the 2 hours, but it was a new machine that I've never used and didn't realize that you have to select your parking spot on the machine. Ack! After I spent 30 minutes complaining about paying for parking and still getting a ticket my son figured it out. LOL)

  10. This was a good one! If I have a nightmare, it is me in University, finding out right before finals that there was a class I missed going to ALL semester. Last month I drove my friends car in the city because she doesn't like city driving and I was all, "I don't mind at all - please, allow me!" And I got a $388 ticket for running a red (it was yellow, I swear!) light. WHAT?! Worse, it was photo radar so I had to wait a month to find out if that flash was what I thought it was. Here is what my son asks me all the time, "Mom, how will it be time to go?" Umm...what buddy? Thanks for the honesty and the laughs. Some days speeding tickets do feel like a tiny death. Mourn, move on. Feel grateful to be alive to get another one :)

  11. Dang. You just reminded me I forgot the Worcestershire sauce today at the store. I can not remember it, pronounce it, or spell it. I copied and pasted from above. But it sure tastes yummy! I used it up on an Asian Flank Steak recipe last night.

  12. Ugh! The number of times I've had that dream is ridiculous!! Tomorrow is a new day. With new questions....but hopefully no law enforcement involved.

  13. I laughed that your kids think speeding tickets are one degree from death. and your newsletter is surprisingly tricky asking me to choose images with store fronts (which I failed) then asking to choose images with trees (I passed-proving I'm a country girl).

  14. I love peonies! What beautiful pictures. I love your hilarious take on summer, and I hope you have more of the restful days than the stressful ones (and restful nights - my dream is about trying to find the math class I've neglected all semester - WHY?!!).
    Anne at birdsandberry.wordpress.com

  15. It's OK, I backed into my own daughter's car in my own driveway recently to the tune of $2800. I clearly can't be trusted with a car.

  16. Drives me crazy when they nevermind me. Forge on, sister!

  17. i have gotten three parking tickets in the last month. i'm with you sister.

  18. No tickets but I did put the garage door down on the top of our car once. We had to replace the entire bottom panel.
    Can't wait to see all of you soon. Can we go to the flower park??

  19. Thank you for the laughs I deeply needed right now. I might bookmark this and re-read it when I need a mood brightener. You have such a way with words.

    Also, I am sorry about the speeding ticket, and the locked up broom and the parking ticket and so on. Not such a great collection of moments, huh?

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