2013: Year of Letting Go

during which i resolve to ask myself daily what I need to stop doing, or having.

How to Un-Let Go

Among the things I let go of this year was this blog, which was not on purpose.  But, since I make up the rules, I will un-let it go.  In the past few months I’ve moulted a couple more bins of clothes, photographing the most entertaining mistakes for later.  Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about things that you shouldn’t let go, and things you should let come and go.

Take children.  We temporarily went back up to five Tollivers and three dogs in February, when our grown daughter Kayla and Athena (a sweet-tempered boxer mix) came to live with us in February.   Once we had the three dogs, I felt we swerved dangerously into weird animal hoarder territory.  It is embarrassing to drive through the McDonalds with three dogs in the car, one drooling, the second yapping so loudly they can’t take your order, and the third in the front passenger seat nosing you for her personal order of fries. Getting dragged down the street by three dogs is sad, so a lot more dog school was in order.  Our second dog Alejandro – his burning machismo undimmed by neutering – bit Athena so badly on her second day in El Salvador that we needed a vet visit.  He then became obsessed with her.  A tortured Parisian artist chasing his Muse would have been no match for Alejandro, if the Rive Gauche were our living room carpet, and if Art turned out to be mostly about licking.  Like a LOT of licking. He spent hours tenderly washing her face with his tongue, and we spent only slightly fewer hours trying to get him to stop.   On the bright side, our first dog Friday seemed to appreciate the respite, during which her own face had time to dry.

All this was far less drama than what was going on with the people, because my family is usually doing something complicated, tiring  and always quite the opposite of letting go. But it was completely, richly, worth it.  

Other things to not let go of:  Due to my husband’s wide contrarian streak, my family re-invents perfectly serviceable holidays.  Last Thanksgiving, Morgan wanted to go ziplining, and the kids wanted pizza.  I was too tired to object.  I found the approach to the very first zipline terrifying, though.  I bobbled.  I cursed myself for listening to my husband. The girls could see I was scared.  And I would have turned back, too, except I was already on a tiny platform up in the trees with no other way down other than to sail across a lush green gulley, 1,500 feet high in a little fanny harness attached to steel cable.  I didn’t dare look down, only up, as I slid away into the warm blue air.  And it was, of course, a tiny piece of Heaven.  As were the next thirteen lines, each better than the last. Morgan was a good enough husband not to say he told me so. 

Still, I felt a stab of fear when I watched Hunter, then Kayla, then  Grace glide away from me across the next valley.   Was the harness secure?  Would they remember to keep their right hand on the cable?   How well-maintained was that cable, anyway?  I flashed back ten years to grade school, and remembered how soft and small they felt when I hugged them.  But before I could fail to let go, away they flew from Morgan and me.  And as they shrank into the distance I could see they were happy.

Kayla and Athena flew back to the U.S. last August.  It still feels like there are young woman- and dog-shaped holes in our household, where the two of them used to be.  This same beautiful daughter is getting married soon, which is news that makes me feel a hundred years old and like an excited little kid at the same time. 

We five are scattered in three cities this Christmas, though happily we will be back together for Kayla’s wedding and for Christmas.   A little more tradition seems called for this time, so Hunter, Grace and I will attempt a normal Thanksgiving dinner.  OK, technically Grace and I decided.  But Hunter will be fully briefed.  Here is last Sunday morning’s planning session:

Me:  What do you want to eat for Thanksgiving?

Grace:  Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.

Me:   Cat whiskers sounds terrible

Grace:  I want my favorite things. 

Me: You need to name some foods.

Grace:  There’s food in the song. 

Me: There is?

Grace:  Yes, something about Snickers and noodles.

Me:  You are no help.

Grace:  Stuffing.  I want stuffing.

So I bought a turkey.  Wish us luck.

Conscientious, Yet Dangerous

Things I have been letting go:

#1  Having Googled the phrase “life is letting go,” today I am letting go of any concerns about being unoriginal.  I have not had very many original thoughts in my life, or perhaps none at all.  That would make me normal.  There are worse fates.  Many people like hearing the same things over and over anyhow.  That would make them normal.  There are worse fates.  Have I mentioned that I have not had many original thoughts in my life?

#2 Red flats that gave me blisters.   I have nothing humorous to add here.  Blisters are a serious affront.

#3 and #4  A gray hoodie and lace-up black boots that, being youthful in style, made me look old. 

#5, 6, 7  Two good books going away to bless someone else’s existence.  Also one earnest novel set in South Africa that I thought I was supposed to be interested in.  I wasn’t.

#8  About 70 DVDs that Morgan and I realized we weren’t ever going to watch again.   Thrillers don’t thrill the second time around, nor do plots twist quite as well.  The comedies and seasonal stuff stayed though.  In our house, “Christmas with the Kranks” is high art.

So, eight items covers the eight days since my last post.  Lest you think I am boring in my conscientiousness, I want it known to all that I live on the edge, and from this day forward, you may address me as “DangerGurrl.”  Seriously.  The photo below explains.

Every time I look at this toy tiger I am deeply relieved Alejandro is my dog and not a human son.  But that is not the scary part:  Not being quite well enough equipped to post directly from a phone, I take photos on my Blackberry and e-mail them, so I can retrieve and post them from my laptop.  Every time I e-mail something to myself, right under my own e-mail address appears that of a very senior government official who happens to have a similar first name.  So now, every time you see a photo on this blog, please enjoy along with me a delicious little frisson of terror, because I came within the TINIEST SLIP OF THE THUMB from e-mailing a weird picture to my boss’s boss. #Dangergurrl #Flirtingwithcareerdeath  #Fearisgoodforyourendocrinesystem #YOLO #Idontreallyunderstandhowhashtagswork

Every time I look at this toy tiger I am deeply relieved Alejandro is my dog and not a human son.  But that is not the scary part:  Not being quite well enough equipped to post directly from a phone, I take photos on my Blackberry and e-mail them, so I can retrieve and post them from my laptop.  Every time I e-mail something to myself, right under my own e-mail address appears that of a very senior government official who happens to have a similar first name.  So now, every time you see a photo on this blog, please enjoy along with me a delicious little frisson of terror, because I came within the TINIEST SLIP OF THE THUMB from e-mailing a weird picture to my boss’s boss. #Dangergurrl #Flirtingwithcareerdeath  #Fearisgoodforyourendocrinesystem #YOLO #Idontreallyunderstandhowhashtagswork

Listening to Miss Forbes

 

"The sense of being well-dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquillity which religion is powerless to bestow" [Miss C. F. Forbes]

 

This Miss Forbes was a friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and must have been one Jane Austen-readin’, happenin’ wooooman.  I am sure I would have had a mad lady crush on her. 

 

I want to let go of things that don’t give me that Miss Forbes feeling.  Five days since my last post means five things.  Today’s Gallery of Go posted below:

This purse — I have never used it. I think it came for free with some overpriced lingerie.  The flowers are cute, but all I ever do is come into the closet and look in on it from time to time.  It’s really more like a tiny hostage with a handle; this time I had mercy and let it go.

This purse — I have never used it. I think it came for free with some overpriced lingerie.  The flowers are cute, but all I ever do is come into the closet and look in on it from time to time.  It’s really more like a tiny hostage with a handle; this time I had mercy and let it go.

I have to limit the amount of khaki in my wardrobe, mainly because I am khaki and I look oddly nude when I overdo it.  Also, these pants make me look like a lady cop; I haven’t earned that honor.

I have to limit the amount of khaki in my wardrobe, mainly because I am khaki and I look oddly nude when I overdo it.  Also, these pants make me look like a lady cop; I haven’t earned that honor.

Letting go of this polyester maxi skirt.  If “polyester” and “maxi” weren’t enough, there is always the pattern to consider.   If you stare at it hard for sixty seconds then quickly glance away to a white wall, you will see the Eighties.

Letting go of this polyester maxi skirt.  If “polyester” and “maxi” weren’t enough, there is always the pattern to consider.   If you stare at it hard for sixty seconds then quickly glance away to a white wall, you will see the Eighties.

I am letting go of these peat-colored cropped pants, because there are relatively few occasions on which I need to impersonate a Hobbit.  

I am letting go of these peat-colored cropped pants, because there are relatively few occasions on which I need to impersonate a Hobbit.  

This made-to-order navy blue outfit fits me perfectly, but I will let it go to some lady who wants to party like it’s 1999.  I used to be a navy blue kind of gal – maybe because my first grown-up job was at an accounting firm and I was desperate to fit in (it didn’t work).   It’s OK to let go of former selves lurking in your wardrobe.   Really.

This made-to-order navy blue outfit fits me perfectly, but I will let it go to some lady who wants to party like it’s 1999.  I used to be a navy blue kind of gal – maybe because my first grown-up job was at an accounting firm and I was desperate to fit in (it didn’t work).   It’s OK to let go of former selves lurking in your wardrobe.   Really.

Farewell, Fictional Me

Today, I am letting go of wanting be a high-energy type of person.

I can act energetic.  I not only have a game face, I have a whole game existence for work.  I walk fast.  My eyes are all the way open at most meetings.   I answer my bosses’ e-mails quickly and my tail is bushy.   (Sure!  I remember that thing you mentioned that time!  Right away! )   For years, I seriously wanted to be that person all the time.

The real me is low energy and rather forgetful.  I rely on elaborate spreadsheets and a fearsome system of reminders to fake having a good memory for anything besides 10-dollar SAT words and old Star Trek episodes.   In my marriage, it is my job to forget our anniversary.  (Morgan doesn’t mind, because it earns him the right to blow off Valentine’s Day.)

If I’d lived in the Middle Ages I would have been told my humors were phlegmatic and perhaps been offered a posset.  (Which I would have declined, because ew, what is a posset?  Also, I would have been dead for the last 32 years, but that is a story for another time.)

Where was I? 

Oh, right:  I am going to embrace my low energy and forgetfulness.

This is heady stuff for someone who first entered the workforce during the Coffee Achievin’ Eighties.  I’d be excited, if I weren’t so tired right now.

See, most people don’t realize that being phlegmatic and forgetful are actually big pluses. 

Take forgiveness.  This is a piece of cake for me, and not because I am all spiritually wonderful and stuff.  It’s because of the low energy.  I can get volcanically angry, but only for periods of less than five minutes.  After that, I am exhausted.  Holding a grudge is out of the question; the thing just slips out from between my nerveless fingers.  In my family, from this post-berserker fatigue it is but a short step to the sheepish offer of coffee that stands in for the apology more mature beings would offer.  (Coffee is served with your choice of mumbled change of subject, or two cookies. ) 

Also, to anyone who ever told me a secret:  It’s safe.  I forgot.  I was very interested and concerned at the time, but you told me it was in confidence, so I forgot all about it on purpose.  In some cases I even took the precaution of not paying much attention in the first place.  This is a technique I learned from my father, who is a wonderful dad, not the least because he has forgotten my entire adolescence. 

So please, try not to be mad when you have to tell me your important secret story all over again.  I meant well.