The Ying and the Yang

I’ve wanted to write, yet I haven’t.


I’m doing that second guessing thing I do, hesitating to put anything down because what it might reveal about me — things I’m not too sure should see the light of day — or what you would think — but then I know this is for me, and an audience shouldn’t matter.


It’s been a trying week, for completely meaningless reasons, like spilled cheerios ground into our shag rug, Craisins spewed all over the car upholstery, and the whole house smelling like pee, and for weightier issues like spousal arguscussions and bad momness.


What I’ve discovered is that I’m a whiner, and this blog’s taught me that better than anything. I’m particularly embarrassed by the home decorating post, where I see the pictures of how lucky I am, but still somehow want more. Story of my life, that is. And it’s humiliatingly brought home when I take those angsty thoughts and commit them to “paper.” So much of what I obsess about is flighty and fleeting.


Feeling sorry for myself is an art form, I hate to say. This week, I experienced the pains of envy at other bloggers getting book deals and freelance offers and party invites and come on! I actually and truly cried when I thought about how I always seem to miss the mark with my dreams, have settled into mediocrity and never get what’s coming to me. I lay on the bed last night and told The Rock that there’s nothing special about me and how I’ll never rise to any sort of extraordinariness. Not fame, mind you, just an acknowledgement that I’m good at something, anything. Or not, anything, but something. And the realization that I may just need to settle at so-so, and there will always be those who are better, and whine, whine, whine.


The Rock, in true rock form, said, “Yes, there are plenty of people who are better,” and “So what? What are you going to do? Curl up and stop?”, Then: “How about your children? And your limbs, which by the way, you still have? And that we live two blocks from the beautiful ocean and you’re not starving and…”


So there you have it: I’m a pain in the ass.


As you may guess, The Rock is my rock, even though it’s been tough lately and not just lately. I’ve said before, we’re both opinionated, strong-willed, high-strung people and fiercely independent. So we clash. But I can always truthfully say that there is no one I’d rather be with. I don’t imagine myself with someone else, because no one else “gets it” the way he does and I’m thankful.


Our arguscussion the other night became heated and ugly and sad. Long story interminably longer: there was an AT&T UVerse installation which mucked up our infrastructure (our phone STILL doesn’t work) and we lost our shit and took it out on each other. Then, I had to go and throw in the “fact” that he doesn’t grocery shop or launder or clean enough and that was the gauntlet.


Truth be known, I’m tired and drained by motherhood, wifehood, personhood right now. As the mother computer here, I’m flashing error messages all over the place. I don’t want to think about birthday presents or friends coming to town or calling the phone guy or getting milk or preparing dinner. I need a reboot. I feel as if my brain is crumbling, bit by bit; and any original thought, talent, skill, I’ve ever had is crumbling like old paint. It’s as if it’s all I can do to hold onto anything real, or substantial, because real and substantial take effort and time and I’m so tired.

So, I took it out on my husband and kids and checked out mentally and emotionally.


I’m still there. But The Rock and I made up, mostly due to his habit of cutting through my emotionality and providing objectivity and a good dose of common sense. I’m glad he still tries. Especially since I tend to sit too long at my computer and ignore him when “Ghost Hunters” is on. I’ve seen myself through new eyes these past few months and I don’t like all I’m seeing. So much of my discontent could surely be attributed to knowing my need to change and being unsure how to proceed.


I just want to be a better person, that’s all.


And speaking of better people, here’s my friend Rebecca:




She’ll be 94 in August, but she hates labels like that, because she tells me to just “be,” don’t be in the context of an age, a gender, an expectation.


I began visiting her in 2001, soon after I was married. I volunteered through an organization called ElderHelp, which matched me with Rebecca, one of their pickier clients, as I was a writer, like her.


Rebecca is a Christian Scientist practitioner, who gently re-frames your thinking and guides you to the light. Really. And I’m so blessed to have her in my life.

Yesterday, I needed her.


Hands of Wisdom


I love Rebecca and her well manicured hands and her bright clothes and mind.


Pure Light


I love her saucy laugh. And that she’s had four husbands. And her stories of being a governess to a prominent Washington, D.C. family, of living at Haight and Ashbury and running away to Florida with a man. I wish her son, the one who died of pneumonia as an infant, had the chance to be raised by Rebecca.




I love that Rebecca painted this, and when I said it looked like a dream, she said that’s exactly what it was.

And that she gave it to me in honor of my dreaming.


She always makes me leave with something: a ring I’ve admired, a can of kidney beans, a tin of sardines or this stuff, which she gave me yesterday:




I have a key to her place. A key she gave me to clean out her apartment after she passes on, and I don’t like to look at that key. Rebecca is in excellent health and has all her wits about her, but still…94. On our way to see her yesterday, Toots asked me if Rebecca were going to die soon, and I said no, hopefully. I want my children to know her better.


I’ve loved Rebecca a long time. Five years ago, I wrote this about her:


Her name is Rebecca. I try to visit her once on week, on Sundays. She lives nearby, in a one-room apartment complex made up of active seniors.
She has only one chair outside her door, so people stopping by don’t settle in and start endlessly talking about cancers, polyps, and liver spots.
She rarely invites someone in for a visit. She prefers her own company to that of people who feel sorry for themselves.
She tells me that a one-hour chat is enough. After that, it’s time to go.


Once, she made me rice and curried vegetables. That time, I stayed for almost three hours, her time limit for guests forgotten.
We talked about her four husbands, her life in San Francisco with Hilton, a musician whom she loved very much. She told what she saw at Haight Ashbury firsthand. She tells me how she came to be a Christian Scientist, and that logic will save you.


She reads only non-fiction, yet indulges me by reading my book-in-progress out loud, one chapter each visit.


Once a week, she sends in a column to a local Macon, Georgia newspaper. The last column she wrote spoke of a house abandoned by a friend’s family in the 1920s. The family just left the house one day, with all of its innards intact. Furniture, food, bed linens, everything stayed in the house while the family moved 50 miles away. Rebecca’s friend talked about this house for decades, but couldn’t remember how to get there, as it was in the middle of the woods. One day about 40 years ago, when Rebecca was 47, her friend and several others, went on a wild goose chase to find the house. They just drove into the woods, and it all came back to Rebecca’s friend. She pointed out the tiny dirt roads they’d need to take to get to the house. About an hour later, they were snaking up the driveway. The woman still had the key to the door, a key she’d carried with her for many dozens of years.


When they’d all made their way inside, Rebecca’s friend saw that everything was the exact same as she’d remembered it. Dishes on the table, beds unmade, curtains closed. Nothing had been touched. 
Except, when she looked out the window into the yard, she noticed a dogwood tree was missing.
Later, after Rebecca had read me this story, it was time for me to go.


She had paid $3 for a hotdog lunch, being served in the activity room. Normally, Rebecca dislikes these group functions, since they seem so child-like and silly, but she had decided to go this one time. Still, she tells me, she’ll only keep one chair outside her door.


So when I think about my life, and its imagined inadequacies, I remember Rebecca and what it is to be blessed.


And so maybe it’s not that you’re extraordinary, it’s who your extraordinary to.


18 thoughts on “The Ying and the Yang”

  1. You, my friend are a true artist. Do you hear me??!? A TRUE artist. You’re the real deal. And you DESERVE a book deal. You DESERVE the party invites. Sadly — Because I was raised by my father, a struggling, full-time artist (painter) — I know allll about gut-wrenching, green frustration when those accolades are funneled to someone else. Usually someone *seemingly* less talented or deserving. Even worse, when it’s someone who’s MORE talented or deserving.

    (BTW, I went to and had a jealous moment today myself, over all the hyuge publicity she’s getting this month — New York Times, hellooo?)

    Your day will come. All is not for naught. Hang in there and stay at it, but take care of yourself first. The universe has a way of working things out.

    Now repeat after me.

    “I’m good enough, smart enough and doggone it, people LIKE me!”

    Stuart Smalley signing off.


  2. you have such a gift. i don’t read. because it puts me to sleep and i would rather be doing other things… like polluting my mind with reality tv. (there are some awesome shows on tv!) i digress…

    you really have a gift. i see beautiful pictures and experience great emotion after reading your words.

    there will always be those we deem “better than me”… success, fame, whatever is 99.9% WHO YOU KNOW, and only has .01% to do with talent.

    love rebecca, btw.

  3. My grandma is 92. She is smart, elegant, and beautiful – inside and out. She is surrounded with friends and family and evokes admiration and respect wherever she goes, simply because if her innate kindness and gentleness and the way she carries herself.

    She never finished high school and has been a housewife her entire life.

    She taught me that greatness does not lie in any outside achievement or acknowledgment. It is within you.

    I’m not always good about remembering that and counting my blessings. But just like you, I try very hard to become a better person.

  4. Getting worn out stinks. I just went through some sort of crap of my own for about two weeks (or more?). Then one day I was tired and slept every chance I got that day. My husband asked me three times what was wrong and I never answered, because I thought he wouldn’t be sympathetic. My silence only made him angry. Later that night we finally talked and I had a quiet time with God and just told him how I felt. I felt much better after that. Practically part of my problem was that I was staying up till 1 AM every night and then getting up early the next morning. I have been trying to get to bed earlier.
    Sorry you are feeling crappy! I hope it gets better soon! I think you are extraordinary and a great writer. I am so thankful that I had chance to meet you and see how cool you are in person! Seriously, you are cool. Your are doing great with your blog. Keep it up! Your time will come!

  5. After I read your post I went to Problogger. He is on the second part of of a three part series about Blogging Inferiority Complex. It may not be exactly what you have, but it might help. I know I need to read it!

    Here is the link to part one:

  6. d.i.t.t.o.

    I went through that ‘ick’ last weekend. Notice, no blog Saturday, no blog Sunday. Monday’s blog really didn’t count, it was lame. I was quiet. Not the Momma knows when he doesn’t have an urge to shove something – anything into my mouth to stop the constant noise escaping my mouth, something is wrong.

    I don’t think you need to worry about trying to be excellent– you are. We, as humans, especially of the American variety, are all whiners. You don’t need to apologize. There was nothing wrong with your post about decorating. It is part of being a woman in the middle of a capitalist society.

    Easy to say, hard to do: Give yourself a break. We all need to, especially us mothers. We are all way to hard on ourselves. ((((HUGS)))) I hope you are on your way to feeling MUCH better.

  7. Hey, cut yourself a break here. First, not that it matters what *I think since you have to live with your opinion, not mine, BUT. Yours is one of the very few blogs that’s made it out of Google Reader and onto my toolbar. There’s a reason for that – you write well, and that writing is very real.

    You are authentic and genuine and wonderful, my friend. Who gives a rip if your little piece of the world is smaller or less famous or whatever than someone else’s? Your piece of the world is a piece I like to visit, and I know I’m not the only one.

    Rebecca? Has it all right. And I bet she wouldn’t give a rip about anyone else’s book deals.

  8. it would probably be hard for you to believe what an inspiration your writing is. i’m amazed that as you lament about your writing, or you for that matter, because i am reading the story of an amazingly talented and interesting person. a lot people, myself included, tend to edit what they write because it’s just not that easy to reveal yourself. but you write “real” so well.

    so maybe you just need a reboot. everyone – especially a SAHM with two little ones, is entitled to that once in awhile. hugs.

  9. Why is it that I want to cry reading about Rebecca? Why is it that I wish I had a friend like her? Why is it that I wish I could come hang out with you, your kids, your friend, your cute furnishings, and we could just … ya know … pout and drink wine and celebrate and laugh? In a room with one chair, life could be so lonely. Angels like you make that chair into a cozy love seat.

  10. This post is uber-cool, and so are you.

    You=uber cool.

    Somedays are just like that. Just. Like. That. You are not alone.

    Now, you have moved me and made me nod my head vigorously and made me say, “I’m feelin’ ya, Deb, I am.” You are a brilliant writer, and I like reading your blog than any book in my mile-high stack on the nightstand. And the proof is in the pudding, or comment section as it were. Becuase here I am reading and writing to you, and NOT reading a single book in my mile-hir stack.

    And, now, let’s get to what really intrigues me about this post: FOUR husbands. I really want to meet this gal. I. Am. In. Awe. Of. Anyone. Who. Had. Four. Husbands. Yes! One for every season. I suppose she had them one-at-a-time, but still. This is a very optimistic person. I must know her.

  11. Ooooo! Look at all the typos up there.

    Now I won’t sleep a wink.

    Deb, notice that I spelled “brilliant writer” correctly. Know why? ‘Cause you are.

  12. I can so relate to you – so much. I NEVER feel good enough. I think my friends get sick of hearing me complain when they think I have a perfect life. People that have true weight problems look at me and are annoyed when I bring up my concerns. I know our house may look fabulous to other people, but all I can do is obsess about this one yellow wall I haven’t yet felt closure with.

    I so get it – and when I read you express it so well in your post, from an outsider, I just have to say: “give yourself a break!” your being too hard on yourself for being hard on yourself! And I so get that too!

    It really is all relative. You have the right to be frustrated and exhausted when you don’t feel like you should be. Kids, marriage, life…it’s hard work! Especially when you care.

    You’re an awesome writer and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting more. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to redecorate, or redo whatever it is everyone ELSE thinks you should be happy with. It’s great to be content of course, but don’t be hard on yourself for not always being content!

    Wow, I’ve REALLY bloghogged. Your post just really struck a cord.

    There’s nothing wrong with wanting and striving for perfection. There’s just something wrong with NEEDING and BLEEDING for perfection. Give yourself a break man!

    Take care and BTW, your marriage sounds so like mine: real.

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