Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why Cleaning Toilets and Zombies Have Everything to do with Valentine’s Day

He emerges from the powder room,
toilet brush in hand,
smelling vaguely like mint and begins to rush past me. 
He stops, turns around,
comes back to give me a quick peck on the mouth
and grins as he declares,
 “Happy Valentine’s Day Love.”

Fast forward several hours. 

As he stands at the kitchen sink,
“Want to start the movie with the girls early tonight
 so we can watch zombies when it’s over?”

This is my love language.  

I see your hearts and flowers 
and I raise you FOUR clean toilets, 
a heart shaped pizza and walking dead people! 

Valentine's Day for the win.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


Not everyone understands that sometimes restarting is infinitely more difficult than beginning in the first place.  Starting over, at something you know you love doing with writing publically, is equal parts excitement, anticipation, fear and dread for me.  But they're equal parts.

So here I am...

The guru says, "The signs ARE out there.  You just have to be watching for them."  Well that's all fine and good when you have make time to look.  I haven't been making time.  It doesn't really matter why.  We all have reasons.  Honestly, I'm not even sure I was making time.  But there was a sign.  And I knew it was a sign because I couldn't stop thinking about it.  And I stopped what I was doing and went back to take a picture, because I was thinking...when I write about this, I'm going to want a picture to go with the essay so my readers can see what I saw.



Let me take you there....

Last week when I was on my run, there were hundreds of puzzle pieces strewn all over the sidewalk.  The sprinkle of tiny cardboard shapes went on for 20 yards or so, they were on and off the grass and some had fallen into the street.  I cannot explain why, but it made me so sad to see them discarded and littered all over my path.  It was such a odd thing to see on the sidewalk and I immediately began to think about how they must have ended up there.  My guess is that they had spilled out of somebody's trash.  But as they lay there, in their perfect little shapes, they didn't look like trash.  They weren't smelly or rotting or broken.  But someone had decided that they were trash.

Maybe they were broken.  How do you decide that a puzzle is broken?  How many pieces need to be missing before it's time to throw the puzzle away?  One?  Ten?  Is it more about which pieces are missing?  Maybe a puzzle is broken when a key piece is lost.  Or an edge?  A corner perhaps?  Who decides when it's time?  How do you know?

My life feels a lot like a puzzle sometimes.  So many pieces, perfectly formed in themselves, but infinitely more interesting when fitted right next to each other and assembled into the whole.  Some pieces tend to hang together and others are tricky to find sometimes, but when they snap into place, they're a perfect fit.  Some of my pieces are missing.  It happens.  Some of them go missing for long periods and never show up again.  Some pieces get found and it's like a tiny miracle.  Even though there are a few blank spaces here and there, and a few pieces with corners that have been bent and torn, the overall picture is still very clear.  Still very Nancy.

And yes, I realize that I am not a paperboard picture laser cut into tiny sections and sold for $7.99, but I've had a lot to handle lately.  I've lost some pieces of my puzzle in the last few months and that's why I was sad to see the discarded puzzle.  This puzzle had gotten to a point where somebody decided you could no longer see the bigger picture.  There were enough pieces missing that it was trash.

What's my point?  I'm not sure yet, but it has something to do with fiercely guarding the intricately beautiful pieces of yourself.  Repairing the damaged ones.  Taking extra care when handling the broken ones.  Finding a sturdy box to keep them in.  And taking a hard look at those holes where the missing pieces used to fit, and figuring out what kind of colorful thing you could carefully slide underneath, that might not be quite the same as the original, but that will fill up the empty space, and complete the picture.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Things We Carry

So they set out to build a road.  
A road to pave the way. 
To pave the way to places that had never been explored. 

They packed everything they could think of to help them on their journey. It was going to be epic.

They had no idea what was out there. So much ground to cover. So many challenges to encounter.  Deserts that threatened to lay them bare. Jungles that nearly swallowed them up. Trees to step around. Animals to run from.  Wide open spaces where it seemed like nothing could possibly grow.  Thick tangled messes where it seemed like nothing could possibly pass.

And there were amazing treasures to behold. Unobstructed sunsets unlike anything they had ever seen. Glittering rivers that held more bounty than they could believe. Amazing scenes that they could never forget.

So they made their way. To pave the way. The lot of them with their baggage. They hauled their equipment for making the way. 

 Day after day. And left a ribbon of road stretching out behind them. That others could follow.

Until one day they came to a huge mountain.  It loomed over them. An immovable obstacle.  And the captain of the group said, "This is unlike anything we have seen before, but we must pave the way.  We must go forward.  We must go over."

So the men strapped their equipment to their backs.  They loaded their heavy baggage and headed up the mountain to pave the way.  But they could not progress.  They lightened their load. But they still made no progress. It was one step forward and two steps back.  

One of the crew said, "Captain, we are not equipped to climb this mountain.  We do not have the right tools.  We do not have the right experience."

And the captain proclaimed, "We cannot go over.  But we cannot go back. We must go around.  Let us find a way around.”

So the group traveled east for days and days.  And the mountains got taller and taller.  And there did not seem to be a way around.  

One of the men said to the captain, "This cannot be the way.  We must go back to where we started and try the other way."

So they retraced their steps to the place where they had first met the mountain and they tried the western route.  They had traveled for many days and nights when one of the men said, “Captain we have gone so far and we have not made any progress.  We have gone from east to west and side to side. We have walked for days and days but we have not gone forward.  We have not paved the way.”

The captain was defeated. He said, “This mountain cannot be conquered. Maybe this is the end of our journey. Maybe this is the place we are supposed to be.”

And there was a voice from the back of the group that said, “Captain, there is another way.”

“What is this way? There does not seem to be another way.”  And a young man came forward with a box that read TNT.

“Captain. This box contains something amazing that will let us go through the mountain.” said the young man.

And the company laughed.

“Boy, you have no experience!”

“Ha! What do you know?”

“You have been nowhere. Done nothing! This cannot possibly be true.”

“Nobody goes through a mountain.”

And the young man said, “I assure you Captain. The contents of this box will allow us to go through the mountain. I cannot imagine the perils that await us on the inside of this obstacle, but if we are careful, and we learn as we go, we can make our way through to the other side.”

The Captain said, “Boy! We have had this box all long and you said nothing?”

“Yessir. We did not need this box the cross the river.  We did not need this box to cross the desert. The contents of this box would not have made the sunsets more beautiful or helped us to gather the treasures along the way. We have not needed it yet. But we have had it all along. Yes.”

So they began to go through the mountain. It was slow. And it was treacherous. The men were terrified and the way was dark. 

But it was forward. And that felt good, because they had not been moving forward for a long time.

Before they knew it the first cracks of light began to show.  And the cracks became beams of light and the beams became spaces to gaze through.  When they finally emerged from the other side of the mountain they looked back on the immovable obstacle that had stalled their progress for so long.  
The Captain proclaimed, “That is one huge mountain.”

And the young man said, “No sir, actually, now it has become just one more thing we had to get through.”

It's a mountain my friend, but it's only a mountain.

What have you carried with you all this way that will make that mountain just one more thing you’ve got to get through?

Friday, February 14, 2014

You + Me

Sometimes a blogger vanishes from the web-i-verse for months.  Things happen.  A disappearance of this nature might cause one to think things like, "Oh no!  She has stopped tragic for all of her readers!" Or something more perilous such as, "Good gracious!  We haven't seen anything new on themiddlebit lately, I hope the blogger is not trapped under something heavy!"

My Dears.  All is well.  I have been writing, just not here.  I have spent the last year or so collecting essays and musings for another purpose...more on this at a later date.

As many of you know, even when I disappear for ages, you can count on me to resurface on Valentines Day and proclaim something publicly about the state of romance around this place.  This year is no exception.  Some of my past efforts to capture thoughts about love can be found here, here, and here.  This year I was inspired to do something a little...different.

What you will find here today, on this holiest of romantic days, is a tiny smattering of words.  They are not your typical love poetry and they don't rhyme.   They are NSFW or young readers and I'm embarrassed as hell that my Dad might be reading them...but there it is...sorry Dad.  They are inspired by nearly 20 years of loving and living with my Valentine and the best partner I could've ever imagined.

You appeal to me about as much as a math book.
When I really take a good look, I think, "Oh Fuck."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Here's your card. My Love.

photo credit
Susan King

Dear one,

I went to the card store and I read them all.  Well, maybe not all of them.  I skipped a few with teddy bears on the front and passed over one with boobs.  But I read a lot of them.

sigh...Valentine's cards...sigh...

All the muck and the rhyming and the sexual innuendo.  Here's what the crown store wanted me to say to you today...with a card purchased for $5.49. 

Happiness always...
Not likely.  So don't set me up for that, please.  I love Hollywood movies and Disney princess stories as much as the next girl, but even I know happiness is not always possible.  You are my Prince Phillip, minus the leggings and the horse thank God, but I don't expect us to be happy always.  Just hug me tighter when we're not.  And kiss me goodnight anyway. 

All we need is love...
And oxygen.  And vegetables.  And gas for the car.  And respect for each other.  And patience.  And, and, and...Yes, we need love, but not because it's the only thing in our lives.  We need love because it holds all the other things together.  It's the glue that gathers up cooking together and dealing with house guests and parenting daughters while one of us is away and taking turns going to the gym and sticks them all together.  There are lots of things we need in our life, and loving you holds it all together. 

We have weathered the storm...
Yes.  We certainly have.  Several times.  And it was hard, but we came through it.  The part that gets left out of the Valentine verse is how the current storm may be over, but there will be others.  Storms are hard.  And destructive.  And oftentimes unexpected.  And the bad news is they stay hard.  But we have gotten so much better at dealing with them.  Our relationship has seen some storms and some damage and then some repair and rebuilding.  So we're stronger than we were before.  And when the next one hits, we'll remember what we learned from the last one. 

You're my everything...  You're not.  But you're one of my favorite things.  And I love what we've made.  The life.  The girls.  The stories.  And I love my life more because you're part of it.  That's my everything. 

You've never let me down...
You are quite famous for letting me down, actually.  You knew, all those years ago, I would always be prone to jumping, flying off the handle and living on the verge.  You knew it was going to be a ride and that your arms would open up wide enough, to be my parachute, and let me down.  Just when I needed you to.  Over and over. 

I'll be in love with you forever...
Well, My Love, I'm not.  Not anymore.  When I decided that it was forever, Love changed from this thing I was in, to this thing that I do.  Loving.  Loving you means I'm doing something.  I'm giving back.  Shifting to compensate.  Celebrating the victories.  Towing the line.  Taking the time.  Telling you.  Showing you.  Needing you.  It's the doing that gives Love power.  Makes it last.    We've been at this for awhile, I don't give Love anymore.  I can't be in Love.  I have to do Love. 

My Valentine's prose doesn't rhyme, probably wouldn't look so good in a fancy script with sunset pictures in the background and wouldn't sell many cards. 

But it's truth.  And I love you.  And that's priceless.

Happy Valentine's Day, My Love.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Feeling Kinda Lucky

We had major rain in our little town yesterday.  All day yesterday.  It started with a spectacular shelf cloud that eclipsed the sky at around 10:45 am and never quit.  All day.  Estimates of total rainfall are exceeding 9 inches.

For some people I know, it was quite an awful day.  Rain in basements, new carpeting flooded, driveways washed out, water bubbling up from the bathtub drain.  Not the kind of tragedy that devastates a town certainly, but also not what I would wish for anyone on a summer Thursday.  Nobody was injured, the town rallied and put up sand bags and Service Master will meet their monthly quotas by pumping thousands of gallons of rain water out of our town this morning and in the coming days.  Because it's not over yet.  The river continues to rise.

We came out ok.  I described to a friend yesterday that it is both comforting and disturbing to hear the basement sump pump running almost constantly for hours at a time.  But we were dry.  We spent hours at the windows watching the washing machine of water triple rinse tomato plants and try to drown cucumber vines that were very happy to have a trellis to climb.  At one point, the middle bit and I braved the elements to go bail out some of my herb pots with plastic cups, but that was more for fun than any real sense of botanical urgency.  As a deep purple evening turned to night and the rain kept coming...we were still dry.

This morning, about 8am, coffee in hand, dogs underfoot...I went out to assess the damage to my landscaping and my tender edibles.  A quick survey of the front yard revealed very squishy sod and a jam of debris near the storm drain.  Not a big deal.  As I squished and waded my way around the side yard I was relieved to see my herb garden was no longer under inches of water and that no further bailing would be required.  More splashing and wading through the low area of sod across the back yard made plain the next activity for today would be replacing some top soil in my tomato garden.  Not a big deal.

Then I turned to peek at my peppers, just around one more corner in a raised bed at the rear of the yard...and I saw a baby sitting by my rain barrels.  Yes.  A baby.  He was quietly parked on his very soggy bottom, in my grass, playing with wet stones.  I am not kidding.  Nor am I losing my marbles.  I knew he was too young to speak to me as he crawled towards me on the soaking lawn, but I asked him anyway, "Well who are you?"  I looked around to see who he could possibly be with...nobody.  I called out, "Hello" to the general vicinity of my backyard neighbors...nothing.  I crouched down to peek into yards and around the corner for the person who must be right behind him...nowhere.

So I went over and picked up his sodden little self.  He reached right up and came to me.  I wiped off the grass bits from his drppy blond head and started out of the yard to stand by the street and look for whomever had certainly misplaced this towheaded tot.

As we came up the hill from our low backyard we were spotted by a very grateful gramma who came rushing across the neighboring yards with her arms stretched out.  "We have been looking for you!"  Apparently the wee explorer had climbed out of his portable crib and let himself out of the house while the older siblings were enjoying a post rainstorm patio breakfast with gramma.  I assured my friend and neighbor that her secret was safe with me.  No harm done.  He was a bit soggy, but just fine.  It was lucky I had come out to check on my plants.

Yes.  It was lucky.  Lucky that I wasn't bailing out a basement or dealing with a drywall restoration professional.  Lucky that my carpets were dry and my yard was mostly intact.  Lucky that our sump pump stayed on and that all I'll need is a tiny bit of topsoil to repair the damage from yesterday's torrent.

It shouldn't take a mysterious baby appearing in my yard to remind me how lucky I am.  But that's just what I got this morning.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

37 Days Later

You may not know this about me, but I am a Professional pain in the ass sarcasm specialist Organizer.  I counsel people about inhabiting their homes authentically. I help people go through their stuff to take stock of what they already have, before going out to acquire more things.  I encourage people to sort forgotten boxes and peek into seldom used drawers.  We look in unopened closets and unpack old baggage.  I ask them to truly see what is on their shelves and their walls instead of just living next to it and not paying attention. 

That's what I've been doing for 37 days.  That's why you haven't heard from me.  I needed to see what stuff I had in here, rattling around in my own space head.  I looked in hidden spots.  I paid attention to what was already there.  I unpacked some baggage.  And spent some time deciding what to do with all of it.   I found all this stuff in my head. Some of it went directly to the manuscript draft.  That book that may someday turn into something other than a giant Word document. 

And some of it’s going here.  I’ll probably trot it out in bits and pieces.  But first…

I'm really proud of what's going on over at A WordBetween Us.  There's so much there that's growing.  I had no idea what those seeds were going to grow into when I planted them.  It's kind of amazing.  Scary as hell actually.  If you're reading it, you should know you are bearing witness to a developing intimacy that most people don't get to see.  We're doing it in public.  And we've invited you to watch.  So amazing.

And second…

A few months ago I wrote an essay and posted it anonymously on another website because I was too chicken to put my name on it.  Well…I have decided that’s lame.  If I think it, I should own it.  And own the consequences…sigh.  So you can now read it here.

I apologize for my long absence.  I had some work to do.