Category Archives: memories

Sitting at the bottom of the pool.

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Diving Helmet

Diving Helmet


When I was a kid, I was a swimmer. I was on the JCC team and we’d swim miles a week. It was hard, I remember, but I loved it. Sure, I occasionally vomited from swallowing too much water and sure, I hardly ever won a race. Still, I loved it.

I loved the quiet of it. I loved how the thoughts in my head were all mine and that I could think – really think – without the outside world or any other thoughts or sounds peeping in. Being underwater was this peaceful place that I owned.

When I was around 10 or 11, my family built a pool in our backyard. We’d swim all day long when it was warm enough, though no one had the stamina of my sister who would do laps until someone made her stop for dinner or bedtime.

So speaking of quiet and being underwater, my dad bought this diving helmet. It was just like the one pictured here. I looked it up:

This helmet was produced in the USA in the 1970′s. In those days it was sold for $49. It was used together with a 12 Volt or 110 Volt air compressor.People used it for fun in their pools or to inspect their boats. It is in fact a modern shallow water helmet that needed extra weights.

We would take turns putting on the heavy helmet and walking into the deep end and hanging out there. My father did it best; he’d take a folding chair with him and set it up the deep and and sit in the quiet. The only sound was the air coming in through the tube at the top.

We were talking about this the other day and he told my boys about the time that my brother wanted to get his attention and pulled on the cord – ala Jacques Cousteau – and disconnected the air cord. It’s funny to laugh about today, but imagine sitting there minding your own business at the bottom of the pool when the water starts to pour in. Scary! And that thing was heavy. (Obviously, my dad was okay and he laughs like crazy when he recounts the story.)

Next week, I start a swim class. It’s been 25 years or more since I really swam. (I used to swim laps back in my advertising agency days before work.) So this class is a stroke improvement and endurance class and I figure, I have no place to go but up. Thinking of the days when I could swim miles without even blinking, I wonder if I can make 10 laps without major effort. But we’ll see.

I am looking forward to the quiet.

Sunday in Paris

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No offense to you curling fans out there, but I find it very amusing to be in a hotel room in Paris watching the sport in German on TV while keeping my sick son company as my husband and other 2 sons venture out to a nice dinner. Aside from snacking on the amazing baguettes we picked up earlier, I plan to order the Japanese dinner from room service. And finish the bottle of wine Andrew & I started late this afternoon after my solo field trip to Marais. What an adventure.

This morning, I hung back with the sick one when the rest of the guys visited Versailles. They loved it. And afterward, I took them to find a pharmacy & to a really nice (and very French/not touristy) lunch.

Now, I’ll look for a pay-per-view movie to watch with the kid – assuming I can bring myself to switch the channel from the curling.

Jumping for joy.

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wendyjumping This is me at Blissdom last year. Alli took the pic. And I love it.

In 3 days, I’m jumping on a plane and headed to Dallas. Yes, to Blissdom! I’m having a tough time deciding what I’m most excited about:

  1. Seeing old friends
  2. Making new friends
  3. Teaching/speaking about Using Data for Creative and Impactful Marketing
  4. Hearing Chris Mann sing
  5. Seeing C.C. Chapman speak about Living An Amazing Life
  6. Sleeping in my own room (Sorry, Andrew. But, it’s just 2 nights!)
  7. Offline time with some of my Cabot colleagues

If you see me there, please say hello!

Aside

Wendy & Amy Sanibel 1978
Today is my sister’s birthday. Yay!

My mom took this photo of us in 1978 in Sanibel, Florida. Years later, my sister (who is a photographer!) did something to it to make it look like this. She sent me a framed copy. These days, we see stuff like this all the time via Instagram, etc. But when she did this, it was really different. And awesome. I’ve had it on display ever since.

I love you, Amy. Happy Birthday.

xo

Life’s a beach.

You know what sucks?

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vacuum cleaner

Are you ever doing something totally mundane and get a memory flash? Well, that happened to me yesterday and it was so odd and funny to me. Let me back up a sec.

We have a new shower. It’s lovely, really lovely. Did we plan to get a new shower? No, we did not.

At any rate, the construction of this shower had a few rippling effects. One: The house got really, really dusty and dirty. And that is not to say that the crew didn’t clean up after themselves. It’s just dirty stuff. Two: Rosemary, who cleans our home bi-weekly, couldn’t come last week because of the construction. Why am I sharing all this? It’s a long way around to telling you that I spent a good part of yesterday cleaning the house. It was filthy. Filthy.

I scrubbed and rubbed and cleaned and vacuumed.

I don’t know if you vacuum your hard floor surfaces, but I do. Our vacuum allows us to turn off the brush so the wood floor doesn’t scratch. It’s nice. And it does a better job than sweeping. So, I vacuum, then use a Sh-Mop to dry mop, and then go back over it again with the Sh-Mop and Method Squirt & Mop.

So I did a lot of vacuuming yesterday. Hardly the most exciting news of all time. But when I finished, I was exhausted. Burned out. Numb. And, without thinking, I started wrapping the cord.

No, not in just an oval. But around and around and crisscross and crisscross and around and around. And the plug hit in the wrong place. Know what I mean? It hit so I couldn’t connect it to the cord to make it stay. So I unwrapped it and tried again in a different pattern.

I just wanted the plug to hook onto the cord.

And that’s when I had the vision. The vision of wrapping the cord on the Hoover that we used growing up. I did that same thing. The around and around and the crisscross and crisscross and around. All with the same goal as I had yesterday; to get the plug to stay put.

It was just so weird that I had this muscle memory, this automatic action.

Who does that? Are you an all-around wrapper or a crisscross wrapper? Does your plug just fly in the wind or connect to the cord?

Good night.

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Goodnight Bear This night light is in the hallway to my bedroom.

It’s had a long and useful life.

It was in my brother’s room when we were little. I had one just like it in pink.

It wasn’t bright. It just glowed.

I don’t know exactly why I have the blue one, but I do. It was plugged into the wall of my first baby son’s wall when he was born and until we moved east.

And then it was in the wall of the room he shared with his younger brother, while the baby slept in another bedroom.

There was a time when the boys wanted brighter lights. You know the kind with real bulbs and a plastic shield. Then, the little blue bear moved to the hallway in our old house.

Until we moved here 2-1/2 years ago. Then, the boys at 15, 13, and 12 did not want night lights. They were big, after all. So I plugged in the little blue bear in the hallway near my bedroom because I didn’t have the heart to put it away.

And now, it no longer glows. And no one needs it. But I don’t have the heart to throw it away. So I’ll tuck it into one of the boys’ memory boxes.

The Atlas Theater

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Today, I realized that I have over 100 draft posts on my blog. That means I started writing over 100 things that I decided not to post. This is the one of the older ones. No, the photo isn’t great. The memory is, though.

We’d taken the boys to the Atlas Theater in Washington to see Godspell. Though we had a very fun night, we didn’t think the show had aged so well. It was November 2008.

Good times.

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Ballet lessons.

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credit to katagaci

credit to katagaci

Before you accuse me of living in the past, let me defend myself. Stuff just crops up in my memory. It’s not as if I think about this stuff all day long. I swear!

But after writing about the quiet girl, it got me to thinking about the boys.

The boys in fifth grade.

I thought they were my good friends. They were popular, but not ‘too’ popular. One was tall and skinny and smart and funny. His friend? Not so tall and a little more solid. And also smart and funny. They were always together. Kind of like Laurel and Hardy. (Not to ruin the story or actually not even all that related but a little cathartic, he was a lot less funny when we re-met as adults. Or at least, he didn’t amuse me. At all.)

So, in fifth grade.

The tall guy. (And when I say tall? He was 6 feet tall in elementary school. Or at least that’s how I remember it.) So the tall guy comes up to me and says, “You need to ask my friend about his sister’s ballet lessons. He really loves his sister.”

And I cared about these guys. So I did. They were my friends.

“How are your sister’s ballet lesson’s going?” I asked about an hour later at recess.

“My sister doesn’t have any legs. I can’t believe you’d say that. I thought you were my friend.” And then he began to cry.

That was 1971. And I still remember the bile rising up in my throat.

It was months later that I learned he didn’t have a sister. Kids are mean. Just saying.

The quiet girl.

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curlersShe was a tall, skinny girl. And she was very, very quiet.

For years, she’d been in my class – first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade.

I don’t know if you remember those years for yourself, but I do. The girls paired into inseparable best friends. And the pairs of best friends glommed together into sets. We played in these sets on the playground, with skip-it contests, jump rope, Chinese jump rope games. We chanted, jumped, and giggled.

Lots of giggling.

And one day, the quiet girl wanted to join in.

Now, I’m not saying my friends – my set – weren’t nice girls. They were. But I felt that some of them may not have always been inclusive. These girls did not want the quiet girl to play with us. But Sarah did. And I did.

That was that. She began jumping and singing with us, though she always seemed a little vacant, a bit distant.

Let me back up a little and tell you that we lived a nice middle class life. Our house was warm and happy. I shared a bedroom with my sister and my brother had his own room. And we had 2-1/2 baths. I’m not going to say we didn’t struggle at times. There were years of going to the outlet stores for clothes and years of casseroles that stretched the protein like tuna noodle casserole and an egg and noodle dish. And I still make the spaghetti and meat sauce and the meatballs with the Lipton onion soup mix gravy that I loved as a kid. I say this much to Andrew’s chagrin.

My closest friends had houses similar to mine, though I’ve learned over the years that they weren’t all happy homes. But that’s a story for another time.

My mom always welcomed my friends at the house and was ready with homemade cookies or another treat. I loved having friends over. They’d come after school sometimes and sometimes for a weekend sleepover.

I don’t know what year it started, but it started. The birthday sleepover parties. I’m sure I didn’t appreciate the effort it took on my mother’s part, in hindsight. Now that I’m a mother, I can safely say that I didn’t fully appreciate the effort on my parents’ part in so many ways. Oh, I’m not suggesting I was ungrateful. I’m simply saying I didn’t realize and my parents always made it seem like a pleasure. I am sure now that it was not always a pleasure. But I digress.

Every weekend, it seemed, there was a sleepover somewhere. It was an unspoken exclusive club; we’d rotate between houses where we’d giggle and eat and, sometimes, sleep.

And then it was the quiet girl’s birthday.

She brought handwritten invitations to school. Eyes down, she asked tentatively if I’d come.

And I said yes. Not all the other girls said yes, though.

For the days leading up to the party, she’d shyly remind me not to forget to come.

The day came. The day of the party.

We didn’t recognize the street name. Now, mind you, it wasn’t that big of a school. And pretty much everyone lived in walking distance. I don’t remember if I asked for directions or if my dad just figured it out. (He always found his way, long before GPS devices. In fact, it was a huge source of pride. My dad knew his way around in more cities and more detail than anyone. I thought it was remarkable and it became a skill that I’d work diligently on for years. I’m still great with a map but, alas, I admit that I’ve become a little dependent on Waze in recent years.)

The house, as it turned out, was down an unpaved road tucked away and almost impossible to see from the main. We drove up to the house. It was small and in very serious disrepair. I’d never seen a house like this before. Not in real life.

And now I was nervous.

I’d never seen poor.

My mother walked me to the door and the girl’s mother answered. I wouldn’t say she was smiling, but neither was she frowning. She just was. She was wearing a light, cotton housedress like my grandmother did. Her hair was in curlers. Not those plastic curlers but the pink, wiry squishy ones. Lots of them.

The quiet girl was also nervous. I imagined she was worried that we’d have a good time. That we’d want to be her friend. That she could fit in.

There was nothing different about that slumber party than any other. We had the same snacks. The same giggles.

Today, I wonder if it was a hardship for her mother to provide those snacks. If it was difficult to have us over. And now, as a mother all these years later, I wonder how much she worried for her daughter. How much she wanted her to be happy. And, yes, to fit in.

While I know that I was nice to the girl – because I was nice to most everyone – I honestly have no recollection of seeing her socially again.

None.

But I was thinking about her the other day.

PS: When I searched for her name, I find lawyers, real estate agents, volunteers, a deputy, and a criminal. Of course, her name could be different 40 years later. But whatever she’s doing, I hope she’s happy and that she found her voice.

Take me out to the ballgame.

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Camden Yards - Season 1
1992. First season of the Orioles playing at Camden Yards. And there we were, young (ish) and dating. I worked for an ad agency that just happened to have great corporate seats. And, evidently, I had weird Flashdance clothes.

As another year ends, I wistfully think about all the years Andrew and I have been together. So much has happened in 20+ years. The jobs. The moves. The babies. And of course, since the babies started coming in 1995, they’ve been our top priority. It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of work. I love where we are, but it’s easy to miss the cute little boys when I come across their early elementary school journals with daily (and incredibly cute) entries.

For example, here are 2 of the boys’ entries for October 24, 2005

{second grader} The Great Wolf Lodge was great! There was a arcade, a water park a wave pool, a splash pad and a water rock clime. When you got to the top of the rock clime it squirted out water. I almost finished Harry Potter 5. It is really good. (wgs note: really? He was a great reader but I really let him read that in second grade? oops. He seems okay, so maybe it wasn’t that big a deal. Remind me to ask him if he had nightmares from it.)

{third grader} This is what I did on the day off. I went to see my dad make a speech at the University of Maryland. After that, I went to Willamsburg, Virginia. It was a lot of fun! (wgs note: yes, he spelled a lot correctly! My boy!) The hotel had an indoor waterpark! It also had an arcade, a breakfast buffet and a hotel door decorating contest! The hotel was the size of a four story high mansion! That is what I did this weekend. (Okay, fine, he likes exclamation marks. I think it’s cute.)

{fifth grader didn’t have a journal that year. bet he’s happy about that right now.}

So what have we learned here? We have learned that I stop and read every piece of paper, every notebook, every everything when I clean my office. And, we’ve learned that I am way more sentimental than I often admit.

My boys are all in high school. AND they all spell and use punctuation pretty well. It’s so different being a mom of teenagers. So different. You – out there – yes, you with the little kids. It’s awesome; don’t be scared. But save all the reminders. You’ll be glad for it.

Like I am today.