beginning again

It’s been two weeks since I’ve written here. Each day I neglect to write or post a blog the likelihood that I will never post one again looms like a failure I’ve been expecting. This gets my committee going, and they are a mouthy bunch when they get a whiff of failure.

You’ve tried to blog before–like 700 times. You’re a big planner, sitting and talking and planning for hours and days on end, but doing is another thing, doing is your problem. You’re just not a doer, Bridgett. No get ‘er done for you.

It’s not that the past two weeks haven’t been busy, I think to myself. Two graduations with parties, two birthdays with parties, one First Communion with party, a short trip to visit friends, and laundry, grandchildren, weddings to plan, school-less children on couches and in beds, eating, drinking, and generally taking up space where before there were hours of silence if you don’t count the licking, scratching pugs with their scrunched up faces and their clouds of dander and flying fur.

It’s difficult to begin again. I’m more of a getting done sort of gal–on my way to some magical point in the future where all the work is done. And because I am not overly ambitious, that particular future point  is most often little more than a couch, a blanket, and a good book.

How many times have I said to myself or to my husband or to my kids, “I just want to get done.”

What comes after done? And why are we in such a hurry to get there, running willy nilly as if we’re being chased by a gaping-mouthed monster who will suck us into its jaws if we slow down. And then done moves off into the future when we are so close. We never arrive. As fucking elusive as the magical isle of done is, we still run toward it. We don’t want to talk about what done really means though, do we. I’m nearly 50, and the number of funerals I attend each year increases. I went to a visitation Tuesday and a funeral on Wednesday. Done does exist, folks.


One evening a few years ago, before his father died and his mother was confined to a wheelchair, my husband visited his aging parents. His mother, Grace, was then a tiny slip of a thing, her body bowed by Parkinson’s disease. While my husband sat on the couch and talked to his dad about sports or John Wayne movies, Grace swept the floor.

At one time, Grace could have swept anyone under the rug. That woman was brilliant with a broom, a champion sweeper, a clean-floor aficionado whose son can also vacuum and sweep rings around anyone I know due to her expert tutelage. She not only kept the cleanest floors on the planet, but she taught her kids to do the same, and I am the lucky recipient of that great gift.

However, Parkinson’s Disease can really mess with one’s ability to efficiently sweep a floor. That night, Grace pushed and scooted the broom across the floor in the small kitchen of their assisted-living apartment. She shuffled, and the broom jerked in her unsteady hands. Maybe the broom hit his foot and that’s why my husband put his hand on his mother’s drawn shoulder and said, “Mom, why don’t you sit down?”

“Because I need to get done,” she said. “I want to get done.”

My husband told this story when he got home that night. It was late, our kids were in bed, heads heavy on their pillows. A cool breeze blew through the house, pulled in by the attic fan’s loud buzz. He shook his head when he repeated his mother’s words.

“I told her,” he said. “I told her, ‘Mom, you don’t really want to get done, do you? I mean, what comes after done?’”

The night my husband told me this story, I got out of bed and wrote it down. I wanted to remember.

I want to remember that.


This is what I tell the committee to get them off my ass. Fuck getting done. I’m a beginner.

I’m not the world’s best meditator, but I think I’ve finally realized that beginning again is what meditation is about. It’s not about achieving some sort of transcendent trance, but rather the act, the practice of beginning again.

Beginning is where it’s at. Beginning again is like taking a big huge breath, the sort that opens your chest so wide, you are surprised by your lungs’ capacity for air. When I’m focused on getting done, my chest is so tight I don’t know where my next breath will originate. Why in heaven’s name would I choose getting done over beginning again? Beginning again is a flower unfolding. That’s what I want.

Beginning again happens right now. It requires us to pull ourselves back to the moment at hand.

Beginning again can feel tedious, just like life. You fold the shirts, and in a day or two you fold the shirts again unless someone else does it which isn’t likely. Each night, you pull the covers down just so, crawl between the sheets, turn the fan on, and in 24 hours you do it all again. You push the broom across the damned kitchen floor and in a day or two (or an hour if you live in this house and love pugs who are at this moment humping each other on the bench outside the window) you grab the broom again because you’re never really done sweeping the floor.

But what a gift that tedium is, every moment new and ripe.

To hell with getting done. Let’s begin.




The Missing Tassel

I lost the tassel.

I removed it from the tiny plastic bag ensconced within a larger plastic bag which contained a thin blue robe folded around a cardboard square doubling as a graduation cap. I held the tassel, a royal blue tuft of dangling and corded threads, in my hand and looked around my 8th grader’s crowded bedroom (crowded is a very nice way of saying that he inherited from his father the need to keep anything he has ever loved or used) for a resting place.

And then apparently I blacked out because that is the last time I saw it.

I didn’t think about the tassel much until the other morning when I needed to send it to school with the 8th grader who would be wearing his cap, with its dangling tuft, and gown to the all-school graduation mass.

Tuesday morning, I get up earlier than usual because I know I must gather the graduation gown ready along with some nicer than usual clothes and this stresses me out. Yes, that is what I said–any veering from the regular morning schedule stresses me out (I don’t like change or graduations or proms or baby showers–you get the drift). I set my alarm an hour early, shower, even apply make-up, for heaven’s sake, and then I can’t put my hands on the fucking tassel.

I stop moving and think. I close my eyes because everyone knows this enables stronger and deeper concentration. I remember holding the tassel in my hot little hands, turning it over, letting the long blue fibers run through my fingers. I remember knowing this is an object that could easily be lost. I remember casing the room for a safe place to lay this adornment with its fake gold 2016. I remember, kind of, putting it somewhere. . .

on the bed next to the cap?

on the dresser?

in the wad of trash I stuffed into the garbage can? Oh surely I didn’t accidentally scoop it up with the plastic packaging and dump it into the trash can because that trash is out at the curb right now, waiting for the gobbling blue truck that lifts the matching blue plastic trash cans and dumps them down its gullet as if it’s chugging beers.

I search everywhere. Under the bed where the dust could be mistaken for a wool blanket. In the Legos bin because the grandkids were here; maybe, just maybe, they shoved the missing tassel in with the blocks. On the top bunk of my son’s bed where the tassel could be lost among the 1500 stuffed animals, old practice jerseys, Lakers basketball gear, a couple of track ribbons and some bouncy balls. I lift the mattress because if I were a tassel (or illicit reading material), that is where I would be. By the time I start opening dresser drawers, I’m sighing, breathing heavily,sweating, and muttering about the stupidity of tassels. I am no longer clean and fresh.

It isn’t even 7AM (yes, I know that this is not early for lots of people, but it IS early for me) when I call my sister the principal with the sort of question she hates–do you have another tassel?–and email my son’s teacher who says she will look. By the time I glance at the clock, not only is my extra hour–for drinking coffee, looking at emails, and driving myself crazy with all the stupid Donald Trump posts on FB–gone, but I’m late.

Thankfully, Peanut’s room is also a haven for previously used items–not because she is sentimental but because she shoves everything into drawers when I ask her to clean up. And there in one of those overstuffed drawers is her own 8th grade graduation tassel. Yes, it’s the wrong date, but it will do in a pinch. By the time I am triumphantly holding high the 2013 tassel, my son is sitting on the couch, eating a chocolate chip Pop-tart and calmly drinking a glass of whole milk.

This is when my helpful husband arrives on the scene.

“Do you remember when you had it?” he asks oh, so sweetly.

“He won’t want to wear that old tassel,” he says while wrinkling his nose just a bit at the lack of shimmer in the 2013 on this reusable tassel.

“Did we look under the bed?” he wonders in my direction.

This is a man who once looked beneath a single sheet of typing paper for a USA Today, who loses his keys on a regular basis, whose clothes I find shoved under the couch or up high on the book shelf.

As if he doesn’t notice that I am in a state, he muses as he looks at our son, “Hmmmm, those pants look a little wrinkled.”

He looks at me and asks, “Do you think he needs a nice belt?”

My husband is at this moment, wearing a “belt” he created out of a shoestring he pulled from an old sweatshirt in a giveaway bag. He wears jeans he owned in 1989. They aren’t so much wrinkled as ruined. I’m thisclosetoblowingskyhigh!

We are standing in the front room, looking at our skinny 8th grade graduate, and what I want is for my husband to say, “It’s a fucking 8th grade graduation tassel, for God’s sake. Chill Bridg.”  He doesn’t.

We stand there for less than a couple of seconds looking at each other, and what goes through my mind is how much I suck for losing the tassel, how much my husband sucks for passively and aggressively pointing it out, and finally how much we suck for giving a shit about something so trivial, something so small. That’s when I say, “It’s a fucking 8th graduation tassel, for God’s sake. What are we worried about?”

How did I get here again? I mean, I care about big things like poverty and illness and racism and the myriad of ways that women are raped and abused and tortured worldwide. I think about consumerism and global warming and chemicals in the water and the coming implosion of capitalism. I DON’T GIVE A RAT’S ASS ABOUT GRADUATION TASSELS. So what gives?

I like to think I know better, but when it comes to my kids, I get drawn up in wanting everything to be perfect for them, and I can’t help but think that we do our children a grave disservice with our overzealousness in regards to their perfect well-being. If  you are not a nut job who likes to believe she can magically think her child into adulthood, I’m sorry. It makes me feel better to use “we” instead of “I”, so if this doesn’t apply to you, you can disregard the inclusion.

If it does apply to you, I hear you. Oh how I hear you, and I know your pain. You and I can be kooks together with a whole lot of other folks, but we can change too. We can start small, like maybe not congratulating our children, or ourselves, so often with ceremonies and trophies and medals and certificates and pizza parties. We can be proud of them without banquets or t-shirts that say “Sheldon’s Mom.”  We can stop believing the huge lie that if everything isn’t just right, we will have failed.

You know what? Our kids are going to get hurt. They are going to fail and fall with or without our incessant hovering.

We want to believe that our lavish efforts will be rewarded with happy, successful children. That the logical outcome is brilliant and good children who become better and brighter adults. But what if our efforts have the opposite effect?  What if we are turning our children into praise-junkies?  What would happen if we just expected them to work hard, to be good, to do good, because they are human beings with a responsibility to the world they live in, because that will fill them up in a way that praise or awards or tassels never could.

I think it’s worth a shot.

Don’t get me wrong. I am proud of all of my kids. I was so proud at the graduation mass the other day that I cried. My kid is smart and funny and handsome as hell, and I don’t think he gave a shit about that tassel. His teacher did find one though–a shiny new 2016 tassel that he wore on his cap proudly.

In the case of the missing tassel–I have yet to find it. The pug’s been wheezing, so I’m on the lookout for royal blue threads in the spit he coughs up all over the house. As of today, there is no evidence to convict him of any wrongdoing.

May for Dreaders

I’m one week into May. Did you know that May is a nightmare month for those of with dreading-disorder? Mother’s Day, prom, graduations, last day of school, first day of summer, the list goes on and on and on. May is a veritable cornucopia of activity for the socially inclined.

For those of us who prefer to sit in the back yard hammock (I don’t have one, but Mother’s Day is this weekend, Eric) with a good book and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, these first few weeks of May can feel a tad bit full which is a nice way of saying like a cluster fuck.

The Annual Women of the Parish Celebration (formerly Mother/Daughter banquet) was Wednesday evening. My sister, sister-in-law, my daughters, and I attended with my mother who is a bit of a social butterfly and on the event’s committee. While Mom modeled her grandmother’s apron waving at folks as she walked up the center aisle of church–one of a group of mothers and daughters who modeled old aprons, I scanned the program to make sure that this year’s event didn’t include any icky pro-life materials (it didn’t).

I’ve never grooved to the whole virginal/vessel/paragon/church woman bit that the “fathers” of the church try to perpetuate. So the Mother/Daughter event tends to rub me the wrong way. But like I said, my mom likes it, and she is one of the great loves of my life, so I go along and offer the same enjoyable experience to my own daughters.

Here they are enjoying their fried chicken.


Isky and Peanut after a delicious fried chicken dinner.