Casey's and Sloane's Blog
I can’t dance. Never really been able to. Tried. Failed. Tried again.
The word, however, holds me in its grace. Dance. Begins strong and ends softly. Two days ago I used “dance” in a small speech at a charity luncheon. I used it to draw a picture of my involvement with this charity. A slow, almost cautious interchange that grew rich over time.
Today I spoke it silently in my mind when I walked outside and our maple tree was beginning her fall. The leaves have been tipped with yellow for about a week – the cooler temperatures and rain usually bring it on – but very few had fallen. Now light brown was waltzing into the yellow ever so slightly.
I stood there entranced, again, at the majesty of this tree in our front yard. It is over three stories tall and shades us brilliantly all spring and summer from the western sun. She is older and lovely, shapely and arching.
I watched as the leaves truly curled their way to the limestone steps, the vine, the hosta leaves. They came down slowly in light that was just beginning to brighten.
They danced through the air in no great rush before landing silently. I was held in their sway until I just had to go to work. I was late. I believe I would have sat there all day watching. Yearning to fall into a dance that gorgeous.
Someday. Someday I will dance.
Yesterday a good man posted photos that included touching words about my sister, me and our store. The post on Facebook was in celebration of community, connection and charity. I was very proud of his words.
Sadly, I was also horrified by two of the images. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I was shocked at my big butt. That is all I could see. I wanted those photos gone.
I was blinded by my vanity. I cried. I was mean to myself. I had a vicious internal conversation with myself. I treated myself with hate and loathing.
This morning I woke and laid in bed thinking about how I ruined the kindness of that post. I alone was to blame. I looked at my lovely daughter sleeping next to me and I cried. But, this time I cried about my stupidity and vanity.
I will not ask to have those photos removed. I will never see those images the same way again.
Those images are now a reminder to not judge myself so harshly. I will breath in the kind words written about me and I will learn love myself.
This week was a whirlwind. Casey and I kept many meetings outside the store. We volunteered, dined and visited with many people beyond the limits of our store. At each event, I found myself mesmerized by what people said when describing their work world and lives.
“penalty kick shoot out”
“swells & riptides”
“warm, white box”
“work & turn”
“own a niche”
“blow smoke up myself”
I know Casey and I speak a language unique to our industry, yet I can’t think of one phrase as I write this. When we were political consultants, everything was an acronym: RON (rest over night), PDQ (pretty damn quick), FYI (for your information). Some were even more specific to clients and jobs. Again, they escape me.
But one quote I will never forget – spoken just between Casey and me in private until right now – and that makes me laugh all these years later is “monumental crap shit fest”.
Sometimes, you just gotta put words together until they fit perfectly to your environment, emotions and life.
You can quote me on that.
Photo: My desk today. I surround myself with quotes and images at work. Not surprisingly, my most packed board on Pinterest is called “Saying Something”. Quote, quote and more quotes.
My desire for quiet is occasionally overwhelming. Our store plays lovely and fun music – which I sign and dance to! – but there are days when I sigh deeply when we turn it off. And mornings when I groan when we start it up.
This summer a friend invited me to swim at a lake. My initial delight was in spending time together. Then my mind latched onto memory of the silence that follows me into water. Both were thrilling and ultimately rewarding.
A few weeks later I was invited back, and I was so forward as to ask if we could swim in the dark, a secret pleasure I remember from my childhood spent in fresh and chlorinated water. My sisters, my parents, and my friends were muted while I explored the capacity of my lungs. The depths never scared me.
True silence was visited upon me that night. A slowly darkening night sky was mine to behold each time I smoothly crested the surface. Long, quiet minutes. An hour perhaps. The magic of friendship that night was when my friend retreated to the house and left me truly alone. I could have wept, and no one would have been the wiser.
Upon his return, we swam into the evening – two voices meeting each other in the dark. I treaded water until my legs were rubbery when I made it back to the dock.
My lungs have a diminishing volume with age, but my love of occasional and deep quiet is met in the embrace of silky, warm water.
p.s. Original painting by Philip Robl. Titled: “The Distance”.
In the last year, we – the Sloane & Casey “we” – have worked on making our store physically different. New vintage display cabinets, entire re-designs of artist displays, wider aisles, cleaner lines, and wider spaces. All while constantly bringing in new and more.
This has truly taken a year. We never went about it to be a shocking change for our customers. Like most things we do, it was gradual and organic in its completion. So much so that customers can’t quite put their fingers on it when they tell us “something’s different.”
Casey has abilities and strengths I do not harbor when it comes to displays in our store. This is fine with me, and I hold no grudges. Truly. She can “see” a new display before she even starts it. She relies on me to help her pull the larger pieces together and to remind her what is lurking and hidden in the display room at STUFF, and then she’s off to the races.
However, she has given me the one area of the store where I am allowed to do the displays that she knows will suit my analytical, spacial driven, and nerdy mind…the card section.
I love it.
Straight lines, themes, groupings. All the challenges are there for me. The fact that we order more cards than usually will fit in the area reserved for cards just makes me more determined.
I seldom ask for help. (If I ever need it, goddess help me.) I am sure I impress my sister with my competence and creativity, as she impresses me with hers.
We get new cards about once a week, and they are never the same design or artist. I look forward to putting the new things out. It takes me away from my other work and sets me free just a little bit from my regularly scheduled programming.
She says the card area would drive her crazy if she were in charge of it. Duh. I knew that before she ever said it. It’s our differences that make us so alike.
I was shelling on a beach yesterday. I kept finding bits of plastic – a lid, part of a pail, a grocery sack – and it struck me, what would happen if manufacturers woke up one day and stopped making plastic items? Just simply stopped.
I am pretty sure that the world would not come to its demise. Actually, it may even slow our demise. Although the reports I read tell a grim tale of how it is too late.
I like my food, drinks and such in glass. It seems more civilized somehow. But, I am bit old fashioned.
It was a passing day dream. I kept walking in the waves picking up gifts of nature that I collect, take home and sort into glass jars.
PS. Any item needed in the medical world made from plastic makes sense. But, prescription bottles could be glass.
PPS. I have stated very clearly that when I die my shell collection should be returned to Mother Ocean (after my daughter chooses what to keep of course).
It was wine night on my deck. Two good friends, a few bottles of wine and some snacks. I was ready for adult conversation. We were kid free. I was craving talk about subjects you save as a parent to talk about when there are no kids around. I know men believe that when women get together we talk about our “periods” and other “women stuff”. Not true! We talk about politics, world views, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. We are evolved women dammit.
Well…most of the time.
This night we were discussing our daughters “coming of age”. We are fast approaching this next adventure in parenting. One of my friends already has older girls, so we leaned in while she shared her sage advice.
We are still a couple years from the big, looming menstrual cycles. So, we somehow got into a discussion about deodorant. Yes, the day your baby girl needs to start wearing deodorant is a big deal.
My own childhood deodorant story is traumatic
I was on a much anticipated trip with 5 family elders. I was the only kid invited to go on their summer vacation. My grandparents, two great aunts and one great uncle all to myself. We drove in two cars to Colorado Springs, Colorado to stay for a week in a mountainside cabin. I rode alone in the backseat of a Duster with no A/C owned by my great aunt, Eunice. I would slide on a pool of my sweat when we made turns. It was bliss. I was on-my-own in an all adult world.
My great aunt, Eunice, a single woman, was the only member from that generation of my family that lived in Kansas City. All my other “greats” were in mid-Missouri. So, I was close to her. She was the “great” that took us to the Zoo and World’s of Fun every summer. We had bunking parties at her house. She made individual jello servings in little bowls with fruit when we visited. She took us shopping and lunching about town.
Eunice was generous and loving. Eunice traveled. Eunice was a “city girl” that lived in her own house. She was independent and worked full time. She dressed nicely and lived simply. I looked up to her and loved her deeply.
She was also very direct and pragmatic. So, when I was stinking up the cabin with my sweaty 10 year old funk, she told me, directly to my face, in front of a room full of my elders without any softness…no hug, no let’s “have a talk”, no warning. Just a flat out “you need to get some deodorant kid, you stink”, I was crushed. I was embarrassed. I was mortified. These were not subjects you discussed in public.
My grandmother Gladys, her younger sister, saved me. She called me into the kitchen under the guise to help her cook and then took me outside the mountain cabin for a short walk to let me cry and to give me a much needed hug.
She also took me the next day to get my very first deodorant.
As I sat on my deck with my friends I shared my story. I also shared my plans to guarantee that my daughter did not suffer the same humiliation. That when she was in her mid-forties sharing wine with her friends she would not have the same sad tale. She would tell a story of her remarkable mother that handled every situation with gentle, loving kindness.
The next day, out of the blue, my daughter walked into the kitchen and said, “Hey Mom, we need to go to CVS and buy me some deodorant. I am starting to get stinky pits.” I was speechless.
I laughed until tears fell down my cheeks. Check that off my parenting list. I thank my Mom and her generation of fellow feminists for championing women’s rights and a world where open, honest, frank discussion about our bodies is common place.
A page from my daughter’s journal.
I wish Eunice was still here. She and my daughter would get along perfectly.
PS. I will look for a photo of my Great Aunt Eunice and share it soon.
Last week my son made me cry. One sentence, spoken in jest. A teenager taking a chance at pointed humor. It hit hard, I blinked back tears and left the kitchen. A whole flight of stairs and a retreat to my bed didn’t save me from feeling bad.
OK. It was the second time he had made me cry, but the first time he won’t remember and it really doesn’t count. He was only a baby. After he had learned to stand – but not steadily! – I was holding him on my lap facing outwards and as he bucked his head flew backwards he cracked his head right into my lip. Much blood, substantially more tears.
Last week he was standing steadily in our kitchen. We had just finished a meal as a family. We were all joking around, and I was going down the list of things to still accomplish that evening. I had seen from the outset that the week we were standing in was going to be a bear. I had planned just about every waking moment and could easily, through my years of event planning and project management, stack the tasks in such a way that no duplicate effort would have to take place. For four people, over six days. I had experience behind me.
Personal objectives, professional challenges, HR meetings, details to finalize for a fundraiser for a treasured charity, preparations for the first floor of our home to be on tour, the yard and garden to make presentable for those who decided to tour, two dozen desserts to make. The list was endless, and I had made it so.
Where we chose to have breakfast together. A place he had never been. An adventure of sorts.
I was partway through that evening’s litany – one phrase included the statement, “we don’t have a lot of time this week” – when he said something along the lines of, “Yeah. That’s a lot, but I only have one summer to be seventeen.”
He was right. I had crammed so much into a week in preparation for the busy weekend that I had forgotten what was important. A touch of fun. A relaxed schedule. Freedom. You know, summer. As a teenager lives it.
His comment slapped me hard. I welled up, mumbled something, and took off. I wasn’t wanting him to follow me and apologize, which he did later. I just wanted to be alone.
When he found me in my room, he quickly said he was sorry for making me cry. His voice betrayed his sadness. I never made eye contact with him but told him that I was OK and would be downstairs later. He accepted that quietly, stated again that he was sorry, stood there a while longer, tapped the bed with his hand and left the room.
We didn’t see each other much the next day due to his work schedule and mine. Time passed, and I stewed in the guilt of not ever really accepting his apology for making me cry.
Two days later, while the two of us were at breakfast alone, I told him I was sorry for upsetting him the other night but not for crying. I believed he needed to see my tears. He tried to apologize again, and I touched his arm and he stopped. I told him he had been correct. That time was flying by and that I had been – at that time – focused on things that were calling to be finished. I told him that the truth hurts sometimes.
To speak it and to hear it.
I was out with my mother this past Saturday night. We had grabbed coffee and sweets at a local coffee house after dinner in a popular night-life neighborhood. As we were leaving we saw a young man in a black t-shirt with giant hot pink lettering that read, “Hey You, Take Off Your Panties!”
My mother and I had been discussing #YesAllWomen and the recent tragic events surrounding this outcry for women. And, there it was in GIANT HOT PINK lettering…a not so gentle confirmation…that #YesAllWomen are subjected to misogyny.
I went home that night and I couldn’t sleep, I kept worrying about this guy drunk, entitled and in search of women that would respond to him. I worried that women would resort to pretending to find it humorous to try and disarm or nullify any drunken aggressive response he may have in defending his stupidity and his “right” to wear that awful shirt. I could see other men all night slapping him on the back and laughing with him, while he blatantly showed his distaste towards women. I just hope that his personal billboard worked as a warning to women to keep their distance.
It isn’t funny. It has never been funny. It will never be funny. He and his shirt are tasteless, insensitive, heartless, mean and harmful to women and girls.
I wish I would have said something. But, honestly, I was afraid.
#YesAllWomen is a Twitter outcry that 1.8 million people (to date) began in response to the killing of 6 women in California. You can read a bit about it here or by searching for articles online.