Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Transformation

My favorite books, movies, and magazine articles are slice-of-life stories of folks who, in their mid to golden years, transform their lives. Somehow, despite the odds, they find the courage to admit that what they have been doing isn't working any more, stop doing it, and try something different. The ugly duckling becomes a swan.

I insist on a happy ending. Whether it's fiction or nonfiction--or my own life. However, I'm not dead yet. So I haven't really reached THE END. But I just finished another chapter (the ending was inconclusive). And I'm starting another.

John and his kids have a place of their own now. It's a long story, but the short version is that it has been really stressful for everyone sharing such close quarters--seven family members, two dogs, and 50-odd piano students and their families. With John still unemployed, a bigger house simply isn't an option. So last week, he signed a lease on an apartment near the mall. I don't see this as a failure; as my friend Marcia pointed out, "the Brady Bunch wouldn't have survived without a huge house, fenced yard, millionaire architect dad, and a full-time housekeeper!!"

The kids returned from New York yesterday; John had their beds set up in their new rooms, so they actually spent their first night back in Georgia at the apartment. They will be in and out of my house today and tomorrow, packing and moving the rest of their belongings. The plan is to muddle through the next twelve months and then regroup. It's going to be interesting to see where we all are, and how we all feel, a year from now.

Since John and I made this decision, I have felt a great sense of relief. I knew I couldn't maintain the frantic pace I was keeping. I am going to miss John--I miss him already!--but I'm not going to miss the craziness.

In the meantime, I have confidence that I can successfully manage what I have left:

1. My children. Casey is hoping to be accepted into the joint enrollment program at Gwinnett Junior College this fall, and Nathan is going to start public school as an eighth grader. The only thing we haven't figured out is how we're going to get where we need to go with only one car.

2. My business. I have 50 students on my fall schedule. That's a lot of piano students. But it's status quo for me. And for the coming year I was able to schedule them all Monday through Thursday. It helps having a weekday "off" for errands and appointments and chores.

3. My home. At ages 17 and 13, Casey and Nathan are pretty self-sufficient. They know how to cook and do laundry, and for the most part they clean up after themselves. And now that I have my waiting room back--my business will be totally separate from the rest of my home again--I actually took the plunge and ordered some new living room furniture--a sofa and a love seat and a coffee table. It wasn't expensive and it isn't the ultimate but it's going to be a huge improvement over what I have, hand-me-downs from my brother and his wife shortly after my divorce eight years ago. I just got the call confirming delivery on Friday between 10 and 2. I am very excited!!

I have big plans for the next few months.

1. I am going to sell off most of what's left of my library; I am listing books on my website, www.normanjamesacademy.com, and auctioning the rare volumes on ebay under my seller name, sand_in_my_shoes_2007.

2. I am creating a line of jewelry. I am sharing a booth with a friend at a show in September; whatever doesn't sell there will go up on my etsy site under the seller name sandinmyshoes2007.

3. I am writing a novel! I have done a lot of work-associated writing over the years; I love writing, but all I have ever written is nonfiction, although I have LOTS of stories to tell. Finally, last spring, I took an online fiction-writing class, "Fundamentals of Fiction Writing," and it was great. With my teacher's encouragement, I signed up for another one, this one called "Focus on the Novel." By the end of the 14-week session, I should have my book completely outlined and the first 10,000 words on paper. New York Times Bestseller list, here I come!

To conclude, I have a great quote from John Eldredge:

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

I am going for it!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dining at the Dockside


John and I have a new favorite Hangout: Dockside Grill. Monday afternoon John developed an urge to "look at sailboats" (it's a dream of ours to own a sailboat) so we headed up to Lake Lanier Islands. Dockside Grill was right there, next to the marina. We checked out the boats, then we stopped in. We lucked into a table right by the water. We weren't really hungry but we checked out the menu, anyway. We decided on the beer special, two-dollar Michelob Ultras. Delicious. 

It was a beautiful day.  This was the view from our table.

Best of all, I made a new friend. His name is Joe. He told me.

I really wanted to try the hot wings, but, as I have already mentioned, I wasn't really hungry. However, I did get hungry on Saturday. Nathan, John and I had gone to the mall in search of five-dollar swimming trunks for Nathan. (We didn't find any.) So I asked John if we could pretty please go back up to Dockside Grill. Of course he said yes.

Approaching the restaurant, I heard the sweet music of a steel drummer. As we stepped onto the patio, I saw that it was a real live musician. It was almost like walking onto the Lido Deck of a Carnival cruise ship.

The place was crowded, but we got a table right away. Nathan ordered a guacamole burger and fries. John and I shared an order of hot wings. Nathan drank a Coke; John had the beer special, two-dollar Coors; I had an O'Doul's. John also had strawberry cheesecake but I took just one teeny bite. (I am on a diet--tee hee!)

I tried to take a picture of Nathan, but he wasn't very cooperative.

I did, however, get a picture of John.

And Nathan took a picture of John and me.

I didn't see Joe, but I made a new friend, Charlie.

After we ate, we walked behind the restaurant. This is what it looks like from the back.

John took a picture of Nathan and me taking pictures.

And then Nathan actually let him take a picture of the two of us. That made me very happy.

It was a lovely escape. A reprieve from the tedium and stress of everyday life. A micro-mini vacation. Twice in one week.

My only regret is that I didn't get a picture of those hot wings.

Guess we'll have to go back.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Independence Day


We celebrated Independence Day very quietly. To go to the mall or to stay home and watch the fireworks on television--that was the question!  Joining the crowd won. I meant to pack a picnic supper--but I didn't. So about 4PM, we drove to the Mall of Georgia, parked the car to facilitate a speedy exit, and walked to Taco Mac. There, I indulged in a six-pack of Three Mile Island hot wings. I could eat them EVERY DAY--yum, yum! Next, we walked to the cinema, but decided against a movie because it didn't appear that any of our choices would be out before dusk. So we went to Ruby Tuesday and enjoyed a Sam Adams Seasonal draft--a patriotic choice, don't you think? Finally, the sun started to go down. We walked to the car, spread our blankets on the pavement, snuggled up, and waited. And waited. And WAITED. About 9:45 the fireworks started. All fifteen minutes of them. Oh, well. What we saw was spectacular. It just happened too fast. A metaphor for life. The economy, maybe? But, as my Facebook friend Carmen pointed out, the company and the reason for the celebration couldn't be beat. So I choose gratitude. I didn't think about taking pictures, but another friend, Sherri, said I could use one of hers. Thank you, Sherri! Sweet summertime!


Friday, July 3, 2009

Mean People

I saw this bumper sticker when I was on my way to pick Nathan up from the lake this morning. 

Mean people, you know who you are.   The bumper sticker says it all.