High School Daydreams

Ever since high school, Dave Matthews Band has made me think of about a guy I once shared brainwaves and heart-rhythms with. When I was 15, my thoughts were dreamy and slightly intoxicated with the hope of intertwining lives. My junior year of college, my thoughts were reeling from the Other Girl, the beauty pageant winner who voided every effortless laugh I had shared with him.

We never dated, but he inspired me to write and to live music and to run in the rain. Friends thought I would never need another muse. Friends thought I got engaged on the rebound from a relational paradise lost.

But the truth is that my muse was never mine–a fact I didn’t fully accept until he chose blonde hair over red. Once sober, I realized some other facts too: that his passion for life did not connect to a solid purpose, that our similarities of thought and personality would have driven us into a hole of brilliant moodiness.

I am earnestly grateful that I ended up recognizing a blurry-eyed obsession for what it was and saying “yes” to the right man. Dan’s soul provides the solidarity I’ve always needed, and our purposes for life blend together flawlessly. He keeps me laughing, but even more, he provides the optimism to balance out what I glumly call “realism.” Our eyes sparkle simultaneously when we talk about traveling, when we walk into a concert, when we snuggle together in restaurant booths.

One year ago, for our anniversary, Dan took me to a Dave Matthews show under the Pennsylvania stars. I stood barefoot in the grass, pressed up against my husband of three years, and never once thought about the boy that got away. I was supremely happy to be with the man who loves the red glints in my hair and encourages me relentlessly to be the Me I want most to be.

Now, with our second daughter on the way and an impending move to Italy to chase our dreams, I know more deeply than ever that I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with my husband. You could probably call that a high school daydream all grown up.


Say No to Crack

Here’s how I described myself in college:


I am a dance draped in chartreuse
With ostentatious flecks of glitter.
I am a bright pink bus with busy yellow flowers
Caught up in a refulgent whirlpool.
I am a sea urchin, dangerous and prickly,
That everyone wants to touch “just to see.”
I am a leopard-print chaise
Floating around to an oboe soliloquy.
I am a disco, full of colored light
And platform shoes and energy and Aretha.
I am a guilty pot of melted chocolate
That imitates women who like to imitate cats.
I am an amoeba who occasionally shimmies,
And I am only afraid of wrinkles.


And the only question remaining (as I’m sure you too are wondering) is what exactly was I smoking back then?


Small Victories

Looking at the grand scope of life, in the invent-a-light-bulb/achieve-world-peace sense, my past week was a blot of unproductivity. However, it was full of the kind of small victories that make life, in the living-between-homes/having-a-two-year-old sense, beautiful.

1. Natalie started using the potty after 2-1/2 weeks of futile attempts (and 2-1/4 weeks after I convinced myself she would be in diapers until junior high). I haven’t had to clean a poopy diaper in three days. What greater joy can there be?

2. I learned to catch grapes in my mouth after 20-something years of embarrassing incompetence in this socially significant area. Now, if I can just master water-skiing, I will be cool.

3. The hubby and I beat the odds–and the frenzied bidders–to get a sacred Nintendo Wii for our collective birthdays. I feel like we conquered the world! (At least, I will until the Wii arrives and I remember how badly I suck at video games…)

4. As shocking as this may sound, Dan got in touch with his new boss this week. Keep in mind that he’s called multiple times nearly every day since December, and the Godfather has only answered about four times (not to mention all the unanswered messages and e-mails!). At any rate, we found out that the sole reason we are not in Italy already is that the Godfather has not yet procured an apartment for us. That would be why my head exploded at 2 a.m. last Tuesday. The only victory in this is that I now know for certain that Natalie will be in junior high (diapered or not) before we get our paperwork for Italy. Let’s change the subject.

5. I discovered that if you’re the lead singer for the Eagles and you happen to have a pair of small green maracas, your crotch is not a flattering place to hold them.

6. I’ve been writing again and feeling far more fulfilled than I have in months. (Obviously, nothing beats the satisfaction of using “maracas” and “crotch” in the same sentence!)

Another week gone, and I’m lounging in bed with a bellyful of dancing baby and a content heart. It’s more than I could ask.


Floating on Words

“You cannot be a good writer of serious fiction if you are not depressed.” ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

…Except that when I’m depressed, I’m much more inclined to turn into Eeyore and spend some quality time with my pillow than to write a gripping novel. Maybe that’s just me though.

This is not to say that I don’t get depressed after trying to write a poignant, provocative piece and ending up with half a paragraph of drivel (which happens more often than I’m willing to admit). However, when I successfully write even one sentence that I know is truly good, the exhilaration is incomparable. I imagine detectives feel that way when they solve tricky cases, and Little Leaguers when they score home runs, and all people when they find enough determination to do what they love. The feeling transcends gravity.


Growing Young

I’ve never particularly liked the word “parenthood.” It conjures images of harried women in wrinkled clothes, scurrying around town in minivans that smell like fifteen varieties of feet. These women always seem to be just ahead of me in the library line; they spend an extra ten minutes chatting with the librarian out of desperate need for a conversation that doesn’t start with “No-no!” Even the glossy magazine version of parenthood seems narrow and uncomfortable, like a culture contrived for people out of touch with everything else.

Fortunately, having a daughter hasn’t made me forget to brush my hair or to listen to good music or to hang out with friends. I remember feeling terrified in the early months that I would wake up one morning with no sense of individual self, but I’m learning to settle comfortably into the knowledge that I’m still me… even on my forty-seventh consecutive encore of “that Barney song.”

So what has parenthood, in all its fledgling glory, been for me? It’s been waking up to a sweet voice singing at the top of her lungs in the next room (picture a Disney cartoon, but without the possessed birdies). Some days, it’s been waking up to panicked crying from the next room and knowing that one hug from me can offset all the scary garbage truck noises in the world. It’s been teaching Natalie to be patient when we go out with our adult friends, and it’s been teaching myself to be patient when “potty time” doesn’t go according to plan. It’s been frustration, but more gratification; mistakes, but more triumphs; growing up, but more growing young. It’s been soaking up the joy bursting out of my little girl’s eyes and arms and legs and mouth [especially her mouth!] when she’s excited about life, which happens with a frequency and enthusiasm I hope I can learn.

Yes, I’m a mother (good heavens, does that sound as stuffy as I feel just by writing it?)… but I’m still a wife and a friend and a sister and a daughter and a woman who loves to write, look pretty, and drink frivolous coffee concoctions.


Version 2.0

I struggled with whether or not to post an introduction to this blog since it’s simply a continuation of my last one. However, it’s also a very purposeful starting-over, re-learning to express myself without the self-censorship I picked up over the years.

So, welcome to Bethany version 2.0. Enjoy, poke around a while, and do let me know you dropped by.

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