Category Archives: Self

Get Out of the Boat

get out of the boat 2 1

I fear failure. Other people might fear success, other people’s opinions, or losing control of what’s comfortable. But fear is evil. Fear is paralyzing. Fear robs us of the possible. So let me share the one thing that keeps me going.

“Get out of the boat.”

I just completed student teaching and am searching for a teaching job. The job market is grim. I wonder if I will be successful changing careers. I’m middle aged! I don’t have experience! It’s a hard profession. There are few job openings. What was I thinking?!

“Get out of the boat.”

Despite the self-doubt, the jerks that have told me I’m not good enough, the worry over spending money going back to school, and all the other decent reasons I should have given up or not begun in the first place there is one thing.

“Get out of the boat.”

I keep hearing, quite clearly in my heart, that I need to get out of the boat. And I know what it means. I’ve heard the story about Jesus walking on water and Peter asking if he could too. There’s much more to the Bible story, and this is less about Peter’s faith, and more about my fear to step into the unknown and begin again. I’m afraid I’ll drown. But I have to

“Get out of the boat”

because I’m more afraid of regretting staying in the boat than I am of drowning. In the past year I’ve been to the funerals of three friends. Which makes me wonder if I’ll live to feel that regret or not. Is it presumptuous for me to act as if I have time left in my life to have a second career? What I do know is that I enjoy being in a classroom with teenagers. I love planning what we’re going to learn together when the bell rings. And I have hope and ideas about how I can be a better teacher tomorrow and the next day. Because I feel called to change the world one disinterested teenager at a time. If I will just

“Get out of the boat” again.

So I will keep my eyes above the waves. I’ll ignore the jerks. I’ll embrace the optimistic idea that I might not drown. And listen to the voice that speaks to my heart when I breathe deep and listen carefully. The voice that sounds true and calm, and encourages me to be a teacher and

“Get out of the boat.”

At the Doorway of the Cave, in Sunglasses

Mountaineer in one of the ice caves of Paradise Glacier, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, CA. 1925. University of Washington, Commons.

Mountaineer in one of the ice caves of Paradise Glacier, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, CA. 1925. University of Washington, Commons.

Enough of crouching the in winter cave. Enough of sitting next to the chicken of depression and saying, “Hey buddy, hows you doin?” (thanks Gary Larson, for that metaphor) It’s spring now! The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, I’m sneezing… maybe I’ll just stand in the doorway of the cave wearing sunglasses, enjoying my Claritin fuzz buzz.

My apologies for not posting a blog in a long while. YOU probably haven’t noticed, but it’s been disappointing as hell for me. I’d done so well to faithfully write and post something every week, even if it was weak. I stuck to a personal goal of blogging every week. But I hit a massive wall of silence in January and I literally had nothing to say. I’d heard this happens sometimes to creative people, but since I’m not particularly creative or even a professional writer, I assumed I’d be immune to such high-grade oddities. Huh, although I don’t think it’s a sign of my qualification to high-grade oddities.

Well anyway, confession is good for the soul, most often in private, behind dark wooden doors with screens for anonymity, whispers and sobs and trembling hands. But I’m already at the door of the cave, remember? I’d rather not look back right now. So I’ll just admit it to God and the tens of people who read my blog that I HAD NOTHING TO SAY.

Silence isn’t always bad, in fact I could list several occasions that I wish I had kept my stupid mouth shut and pulled the blank look down over my face, the look that people put in their place should have. Or the impassive look that wise sages sometimes hold, blink and hold.

No, that was not my silence. Mine was the silence of a gift being covered, set out of reach, on ice and numb. The silence of thinking, and rethinking and not quite grasping words or the conclusion or the meaning yet. So I waited. Not patiently, but I waited. Got comfortable with the break from thinking so many things at one time in the Slush Puppie machine kind of way that my mind usually grinds away at so many ideas, repeated conversations, random memories, and to-do lists. In the waiting I prayed and meditated, 3 am seemed to be the routine time my mind decided was appropriate for that. Really, I have a fun circadian clock.

And now inexplicably, the silence is broken. I just wanted to share that.

Musical Pairing: “In Repair” by John Mayer, 2006

Thank You, St. Nicholas

Santa in Minneapolis, Marshall Fields

Santa in Minneapolis,     Marshall-Fields

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good girl this year. For Christmas, would you please bring me Dr. Dre earbuds? That’s it, you know we go low-key at our house.

Thank you, I’ll set out the chocolate brownies and Jameson, as usual.

I’d also like to thank you for the joy you’ve brought to our home over the years. I had no idea how much fun it would be to experience Christmas with children. Now that our youngest son is an “informed believer” that phase has ended, but it sure was sweet. It was fun to take the boys to Marshall-Fields to sit on your lap, and to write notes with Christmas present wishes. To plan, shop and wait for little ones to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. It was exciting to build Lego spaceships, and race Hot Wheels cars and play board games in PJs on Christmas morning. You’ve helped us make some wonderful family memories.

I apologize for the over-commercialization of your image and the crazy focus on piles of presents. What happened to Americans at Christmas? We are wackadoodle. Santa is supposed to be about children being surprised, appreciating a wish fulfilled, and a break from the long winter nights. The patron saint of children, should remind us of the Christ child.

Despite the current state of Christmas, which is spoiling Thanksgiving and a few other things these days,  we can still choose our Christmas. We can celebrate Christmas in a quieter way. We can dial down the consumerism. We can change the focus in our own homes. We can say “Merry Christmas” and internalize what it really means.  So, dear Santa, I hope you’ll return to our home in some Christmas future, when grandchildren lay their heads in warm beds to dream. When our sons get to play the role of St. Nicholas and create memories of their own. That’s actually, my Christmas wish, the earbuds are entirely optional.

Musical pairing: “Grown Up Christmas Wish,” Amy Grant, 1992.


GenX Opens Tamper Evident Packaging

Ah the tamper evident packaging that makes it practically impossible to open a new bottle of eye drops in the morning when you’re groggy and your eyes are dry and won’t focus accurately. Remember the Tylenol scare person in 1982?  There’s the person that sent the American public over the edge of panic ridge and from then on, pill bottles were sealed safely shut. That person was never caught, by the way. Never mind that our generation was busy doing our fair share of swallowing entire bottles of Bayer baby aspirin because they tasted exactly like Pez (shout out to one of my cousins who won himself a trip to the ER with this one).

Over the following decades, more products joined the tamper evident packaging trend, including my eye drops. Which makes me feel safer, and I probably am safer. This extra packaging used to also make me believe that the product was indeed the product that it claimed to be on the container label.  Until I watched Slumdog Millionaire and realized that any kid with a tube of SuperGlu can easily counterfeit fresh bottled water. Great.

This is where being a GenXer makes tamper evident packaging worries tolerable.  We’ve been described as being cynical and untrusting. We learned how to walk in un-baby proofed homes.  We grew up without seat belts, bike helmets or antibacterial hand wash. We went to college without cell phones or the internet.  Sometimes we got hurt. That’s life and we’re realists.

These days it’s news of the week that beef, spinach, cantaloupe and the like are unsafe to eat, flame retarget chemicals are making us sick, and the list goes on. I vaguely recall that my Grandma had a wise saying something alone the lines of: “Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and you’ll always have nice hair and skin!” Pretty hair and skin in a casket after I die from a contaminated cantaloupe rind. So here’s how GenXers view all this cantaloupe business: heck yea we are cynical and untrusting.  We’ve seen things go wrong and we expect things to go wrong because in our experience, um, they do. It’s nice when things go right, but there are too many crazy people and unscrupulous companies to expect too much from our sealed tubes of so-called Crest toothpaste.

Maybe I think too much, too early in the morning, annoyed that I can’t get into the new eye drops that I desperately need to rewet the contacts in my eyes that feel like corn flakes. At least when I did finally get the bottle open, surprise! The eye drops weren’t laced with acid this time. Because everyone knows from high school chemistry class that corn flakes + acid = ?? I can’t remember exactly. Anyway, my point is that the next time you try to remove a tamper evident seal, try not to think too much about it and be glad when products don’t hurt you. Or you’ll get a stress headache and need to open a new bottle of pain reliever with you-know-what on it.

Musical pairing: “It’s a Beautiful Day,” U2 (2000)

Revisiting the 20’s Wish List

Looking forward

I remember when 40 was old and uncool.  I was a teenager and my parents seemed stodgy and boring.  So now that I’m 40, how do I measure up?  Our generation has managed to push out the definition of old age farther out than 40, but I feel officially ‘not young.’  I’ve still struggled with the beginning of the midlife crisis.  So what does being 40 mean to GenX?

There’s some pride in survival and a few accomplishments to date.  A comfort in my own skin and self-acceptance I didn’t have at 20.  A little softer in opinion, a little wiser about the world, a little saggier and wrinklier and squishier.  There’s both more to worry about and less to worry about when you’re 40.  I don’t worry about what others think, but I do get concerned about community and global things.

Now I’m not saying that I’ve lost my optimism.  I was never optimistic, Xers tend to be realists.  But I have grown more optimistic about what my children can do.  And what God can do.  And on days when I feel very weak and insignificant, I try to remember the dreams I held for the future when I was 20 and looking ahead, because the future is finally RIGHT NOW.

I now have the experience,  money, health and opportunity to do all those things I dreamed about so long ago.  The larger question is… do I still want what was on the list?  Or do I now have different goals?

I do know that it’s only mid-life.  There’s still half of a life left after the birthday cake and the accompanying feelings of panic and crisis.  All we’ve done so far is the beginning of what’s next.  We can have fun, love a great deal and make a bit of a difference in the next 40 years.  We might be un-young, but we can still be GenX cool.

Musical pairing: “Right Here, Right Now,” Jesus Jones, 1990.

A Blog Is Born

In honor of my latest baby, this little blog, I submit to you this very nice photograph my sister took of me and my little sugar bear baby.  Now you know what people are usually trying to do when they throw in a cute pic of kittens or babies or breasts or grilled meat… they are trying to distract you from otherwise dull or scary content (like commercials or dangerous chemicals).  I am not trying to distract you from dull or scary content.  Hopefully.  Nope, this is just to illustrate a point about how writing 52 blog posts was a little bit like labor for me, but I have something I’m proud of.

One year ago, I created the GenX Sandwich blog.  I had spent some time in reflection during early 2011, and reviewed my bucket list.  One of the things on the list for a long time is to become a writer.  A friend suggested blogging as a way to practice.  I’m a bit intimidated by blogging, but I started anyway with the goals of writing about life from the perspective of my generation, and to write at least once a week.

I didn’t make every week.  I’m not disciplined enough to write on vacation or when I’m sick.  But I managed 52 posts in about a 12 month time period.  So I’m going to count it as a success!   And I’m going to keep at it, simply for the fact that I enjoy it so much.  Long-dormant creative juices have been perculating, atrophied writing skills have been exercised.  I’ve dug through boxes of photos, I’ve laughed, I’ve shuddered, I’ve sighed.  I’ve been forced to think.  I’ve metaphorically thrown up on the paper a few times, and quite honestly I’m not as nauseous as I used to be.

There’s still quite a bit of room for improvement.  I’m still trying to figure out what types of posts are the most entertaining… is it the character sketches, the ‘my favorites’, the thankfulness notes, or the current events commentary?  Is some of this sappy or dull?  Are observations about GenXers an interesting cultural discussion or at least a useful documentary on what makes us weird and what we think about the world around us?

Well, I’ll try to do a better job, and not clog up the network with garbage.  Two new features I figured out how to create are the mildly interesting list of books I’ve read recently and can recommend, it’s there on the left, and I ponied up the money to get my own domain:  It’s my treat for making it to the one year anniversary.

Thanks for reading, thanks for your comments, and please rate a post if you like it or sign up to follow my blog.  Apparently it’s kinda like friending me on FB, which is much appreciated.

Musical pairing: “Soak Up The Sun,” by Sheryl Crow, 2002 and “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns ‘N Roses, 1988.

The Easter Egg Hunt, The Easter Dress

Easter, circa 1970

I hope it’s not too late to mark Easter Day this year, I love this holiday.  It just took me awhile to get my thoughts together.  GenXers have the perspective of being some of the first children to grow up experiencing the hyper-commericalization of most holidays.  We didn’t cause it I don’t think, but we enjoyed the childhood benefits and the sugar rush.

I was raised in a Christian family that didn’t celebrate religious holidays.  So Easter for me as a child was about getting a new dress for spring and hunting eggs that the Easter bunny had hidden in the yard.  These eggs were the brightly colored plastic sort that my mom filled with jelly beans and small chocolates.  I’ve always loved a good egg hunt and should tell you next Easter about the competitive egg hunts my sister and I had as teenagers if I don’t forget.  I loved hunting the eggs, I loved the candy, I loved re-hiding the eggs and playing again.  I was easy to entertain.

And THE dress.  There was great anticipation and excitement over the dress every year.  Our family was lower middle class, we didn’t have a closetful of clothes and they weren’t designer.  But my mom is a wonderful tailor, so she would sew my sister and I dresses for Easter.  Fancy dresses with ruffles and stitching and lace.  She usually bought a new pattern each year for it to be in the latest style.  We would often get to pick the color and would check on the dresses’ progress in the weeks before Easter, having fittings, and deciding about how we would do our hair.  Easter Sunday would be the first time my sister and I would get to wear the new dresses, and enjoy being pretty and fancy for church and Easter dinner with extended family.

Now that I’m a parent, and of boys no less, dressing up for Easter isn’t the focus.  We choose to celebrate Easter as a religious holiday.  I’ve shunned the commercialism for the most part.  No Easter bunny, but I don’t mind using it as a reason to restock the chocolate supply in the house 😉  And yes, I think back fondly to my childhood celebrations and am thankful for those moments standing in the sunshine, dressed in something lovely and hand made for me, about to head off on a hunt.

 Musical pairing: “Walking on Sunshine,” by Katrina and the Waves, 1985 and “Alive Forever Amen,” by Travis Cottrell, 2005.