House of Hawthorne

Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

Lately

We sway side by side, head cheek to cheek. He stops. I look up, frowning. He says, “It’s almost like we’re dancing!” I don’t respond. “Smile, motherfucker,” he says, trying to lighten my mood and failing today. He kisses me on my forehead.

Everything’s good and I’m miserable. I force myself through the motions of preparing our lunches. I throw as much as possible in his lunch box and leave little for myself, pretending that I’m not going to eat so much today. He reminds me to walk the dog before we leave for the day, and I do. The best days are when we wake up and he reaches for me or when I don’t spill or drop something. It also helps if I leave myself a little time to scratch the dog’s ears and tell her to have a good day. She looks up at me and I try to imagine that she is telling me, “I love you, Mom.”

A Year Ago

This morning, Austin comes to give me his “I’m going to work” kiss. I reach up and grab his neck like I do. He’s been flash-burned from welding yesterday, says so, and tears immediately come to my eyes because I hate the idea of causing him pain, and he just keeps repeating, “It’s okay! It’s okay.” Not frustrated, even though he’s gotta be in terrible pain. Ruby flops over on her back next to me and he rubs her belly, saying, “Ruby wants her belly rubbed, doesn’t she?”

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I came to a conclusion today after a year of worrying about something. I know, you’re thinking, wow, Virginia, you must be incredibly sane. Like, the sanest ever. You deal with things super healthily!

I was cleaning out this ditch full of leaves in front of our yard and I realized I had something like that in my brain, clogging up my worry drainage system. (Actually, as far as I can tell, we don’t have a drainage system in our yard, so now all we have is standing muddy water. Maybe featuring aquatic life? Should I get a very large bucket? Or perhaps embrace it as a moat? A worry for another day.)

I finished getting all the leaves together, dusted myself off a bit, and came in and blocked someone on Facebook. A weight was immediately lifted. Facebook spring cleaning, check. I need to remove the temptation to check in on this person I barely know, for absolutely no reason, who I decided a year ago, under completely crazy circumstances, was my enemy and my complete opposite. I don’t need to worry about this person being everything I’m not anymore, because the traits that make me this person’s opposite are traits I cherish about myself.

Mainly, I’m not a bad ass chick. I’m never going to be one. It’s something I’ve got to own up to. I’ve got to stop apologizing and scurrying around this fact. Worrying about that makes me whiny, scared and insecure, instead of embracing it, which keeps me laughing at myself, fun, and easygoing. People like that about me, and I forget that. My friends aren’t mad at me because I wouldn’t be able to defend them in a fight. That’s not what you sign up for in a friendship with Virginia Hawthorne. You sign up for a great sense of humor, trustworthiness and kindness, and that’s that.

I’ve started to write about this grudge for months, and haven’t been able to, and my writing has slowed to a crawl because of that. I’m ready to let this one go, shake it out, and write again. Thank those strange possibly paleolithic creatures swimming in my yard.

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We have a puppy and I have a confession to make: I have threatened repeatedly to eat her. “Oh yeah, Ruby ran off today but I caught and boiled this squirrel for dinner.” (Are we boiling squirrels these days? Or perhaps deep frying in some peanut oil Duck Dynasty-style.)

When she and I are alone in the house, all we do is yell at each other. Well, she barks, but it sounds like yelling. Or maybe I start barking. She’ll bite me in the eye, like she just did, spurring this blog. (I think she knows I’m telling all of you all of this, she’s doing some rare hiding.) I absolutely can’t walk around the house without her teeth clenched in my ankles, dragging her along. I am a pretty bad housekeeper already but when I go to sweep up the house she’s there, barking, taunting me. “You think that’s sweeping? You suck at everything. Can’t even sweep. Missed a spot, jerk.” (Okay, I might be transferring my insecurities to a puppy just terrified of a broom here. Maybe.)

I spend my days off being terrorized by this little thing, and so when I work and my boyfriend is off, I come home, ready for an update on the monster. “She laid on that blanket for a while… I dunno, I didn’t see her for a few hours.” What the hey? Where’s the monster? It’s going to look super crazy if I eat the puppy if he thinks she just chills all the time. He’ll send me pictures of her just sleeping. Like… not biting him at all. Just sleeping. We can’t decide whose dog it is because she’s a completely different person around each of us. (Did I say person?)

This is probably my fault. My attempts at disciplining the puppy are laughable. “You old rascal!” I say, shaking my fists, as my boyfriend points out that she’s like two months old and I just called her old for some reason. When I’m the angriest I’ve ever felt, I throw whatever is near at her. She blithely dodges it, turns on a dime and goes back to barking at me.

I’ve decided that eating the puppy would be untoward. First of all, she’s like super tiny. Where’s the meat, you know what I’m saying? Second of all, she does this thing when I come home where she wiggles her butt. It’s ridiculously adorable. Sometimes I step outside on the porch, count to ten, and come back in the house to see this wiggle. Also, I love running with her. I don’t do it often enough, I admit, but when she moves, she moves at full speed. She gets low to the ground and starts looking like a miniature greyhound. I end up running and laughing every time we go outside, and there are few better feelings in the world than both running and laughing. Sometimes I just have to be patient and have her bite me for a half an hour when I get home from work late at night so I can have her sleep on my stomach, and that is somehow worth it. I guess I won’t eat her today either.

Especially now that I blogged about it, it would be awfully fishy.

Help send Ruby to college or buy her a treat:

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“You gotta take the bad with the terrible,” he used to say. For some reason, that always cheered me up. I knew from the stories my Grandmom would tell, and the way he would say lightly that he had been born in a teacup, that he had known struggle and poverty. By the time I came to know my grandfather, though, he was a great man and had lived an extremely rewarding life. Widely respected is an understatement.

I keep thinking about his memoir. It’s an amazing piece of writing to me. Elmore Leonard says to leave out the parts people skip, and my grandfather certainly did when he wrote the story of his life. It still has his sense of humor, but it is an extremely efficient document. Every single sentence tells a story it would take me pages to write. He moves ceaselessly around the world from Philly to Delaware to Joliet to Saudi Arabia and back through his life for fifteen amazing pages.

One of the most detailed and funniest part of the story is one that reminds me of one I would write. In it he details his early days, working as a very young man in a chilled fur room in a department store. It’s incredible to imagine the future father of my father, future fire chief, future husband to my lovely grandmother Elsie, as a young man working to help support his family,  sitting among these furs, waiting to fetch them for the wealthy of Philadelphia, but there, indeed, he sat.

That he wrote those stories down was such a gift. When he passed away, the outpouring of respect and admiration for the man was felt deeply by all of my family. My father and uncles all got up and spoke of his greatness, and all I wanted to do was get up and say how he was hilarious and silly and brightened up my life for the year I lived with my grandparents. He would walk around the house, singing songs he would make up on the spot. I know I can’t even begin to hope to live such a full life, but I know I can bring that kind of joy to the people around me.

Now I gotta call my grandmother. And probably stop crying at some point.

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I’ve been trying to write the story of meeting my boyfriend, and it occurred to me yesterday I’ve got some really good meeting friends stories too. Most times people just integrate into my life through school, work, or let’s face it, the bar. And I love you guys too. A lot. But a few of my best friends sought me out, like lovely, charming heat-seeking missiles.

I had been training her for three days in all things bookstore related. I’ve worked with and trained so many people in my life that I try not to learn people’s names until at least a month goes by. I was walking out of work one day when she said, “Hey, Virginia!” She picked up two bear bookends and held them up paw to paw. “This is like me and you!” I paused and replied, “You’re either the craziest person I’ve ever met or we’re going to be best friends.” We’re best friends now.

I was striding through campus in the first week of college when I was approached by two incredibly enthusiastic people. “We love your backpack! We’re throwing a party tonight [based on the characters on my backpack, omitted to protect any present day coolness].” “Oh cool,” I said. And didn’t go. I learned much later after I had finally become friend and best friend to these people that they had made up the party solely to befriend me and couldn’t believe I didn’t come.

If I recall correctly, she came up to me and said, simply, “I think we should be friends,” and made me come back to her room with her after our Intro to Political Science class. And that was that. I ‘ve learned after knowing her for over 13 years now, that’s how she does everything.

It’s really hard to feel bad about myself when I think of stories like these. Thank you, dudes.

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My boyfriend, wise and wonderful man that he is, and perhaps a little drunk at the time, told me two nights ago that all I had to do yesterday was write. He wanted to read something I would write. I felt instantly happy. I have felt for a while that if I were to start writing and to actually devote time to it, it would have to end in some purpose to be a justified part of my (and by extension, his) life. He is the most utilitarian person I’ve ever met. I’ve seen him take parts off of people’s cars, hand them to them, and say, “This doesn’t do anything.” If he thinks I should be writing, then there’s got to be some end to it that he can see. Isn’t it wonderful how a woman can make her boyfriend saying basically one word, “Write,” into something entirely bigger and probably entirely different from what he simply meant in the first place, by the way?

I sat down to write yesterday and it was exhausting for some reason. I wanted to be able to present a fully blown, completed essay to him, like a present, a thank you for the gesture of telling me to write. I started writing about the night we met, a night like many we’ve had together since, but this was the beginning. And it was crazy and fun just like most of the nights since. So I wrote it, and it was definitely a beginning to writing something, and I felt good about it, and he came home, and I didn’t talk about it. The house was a mess, and all I had was a very short amount of writing that didn’t justify the day. He had gone to work and made something real and useful, and I had written three paragraphs. I felt foolish and embarrassed. Whenever he asks, always keeping me honest, “What are you actually good at?” I always say writing, but what if that he doesn’t think so? Also, what’s the point of sitting here and writing the story of our life when we still need to live it?

This morning I woke up and read what I wrote yesterday, though, and I felt better. It was a good story, one that I wanted continue reading, even though I’ve lived every day of it. We have too many crazy, good or funny stories for me not to write them. And that’s going to be my gift to him in the end. And hopefully it’ll be good enough that it becomes a bestselling memoir and I can buy him a boat we can live on, which would be a way better gift for him than some paragraphs, and I know it’s probably impossible, but hey, a houseboat’s worth a try.

My co-worker gets a look on his face like I’m bleeding from my face and taps his chest. “Oh my goodness, thank you,” I whisper, and flip my necklace around. I’ve got everyone at work doing this now. When my necklace is flipped around, they make a “there’s an emergency” face and I restore it to being face forward.

This is my new favorite thing.

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It was in a bag of clothes my boyfriend’s mother gave me, which included some business suits, suits of edification, the kind of clothes that makes you want to be the person who wears them everyday. I love the clothes, and they’ve motivated to make some steps this week toward being that person. But this necklace straight up makes me feel like a queen. I don’t know, which is better? Queen or CEO? Can you feel like both? I’d guess the modern-day royals wear business suits. 

I’ve never been a jewelry person. I break and destroy in some way anything I come in touch with at some point. My boyfriend calls me the “Great Ruiner” (lovingly? she optimistically parenthesized). It’s a first for me to come across a piece of jewelry that I want to wear so badly that I ignore the voice in my head that says, “You’re just going to break that, you know. If you don’t lose it first!”

The necklace is more powerful than that voice, you see. The incredibly crazy and brutally cruel voice inside every woman’s head, probably including CEOs and queens. I have started using it as a talisman against my own self-doubt. I touch it and my head gets a little straighter, both literally and figuratively. It’s both a posture and gut check mechanism for me now, and I feel like it couldn’t have come to me at a better time in my life.

(So, I guess this is my public thank you letter, Leslie.)


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