5 Reasons Why I Should Never Read a Mystery Novel

When I visit my local ELA Library, I usually do a quick pass through the New Mystery section. If the latest Alex Delaware (by Jonathan Kellerman) or Kinsey Milhone (by Sue Grafton) novel is available….YES. Mine, grabbing it like a child and holding it close.

I then put aside whatever I am reading and delve into those books.

Most genres I can set aside at the appropriate times. But, when I get engrossed in a mystery, forget it. The details, the short section breaks, the quickening pace, keep the pages turning long after they should.

Here are a few of the reasons why I should not even start a mystery, unless I have a day to focus on it:

  1. Dinner -what dinner? Are you really hungry tonight?
  2. These woeful eyes staring when their walks are delayed.IMG_4713
  3. Pages might get warped near the shower.
  4. At 11 pm I will resolve to read “one more chapter”; suddenly it is 2 am. And I have to be up in 4 hours for work!
  5. Can’t read it when at the gym. So postpone the workouts, right?

The same often happens with the latest Stephen King or a few other authors, but it always happens with a tight mystery.

The journey continues.

C

Note: feel free to substitute “binge watch the latest HOT series”, “start a puzzle”, “search online for cheap airfares” in the title, depending on your tastes.

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Sunday Night Blues

Sunday, during the daylight hours, has that “weekend” feel. We enjoy some free time, pursue hobbies, run errands, start or complete projects, or just chill. But by dinnertime, it whispers in our conscious that the Week is starting soon.

Sunday, after our evening meal, that voice is hammering in my head: time to start the Monday-morning-prep. Mentally and physically, it can tarnish the end of a stellar weekend.  During the school year and with fewer daylight hours, time seems to compress further. And it is the whole family who feels the end of the weekend, not just me.

The minutia starts to over power my restless mind—the upcoming week’s work and family schedule overlaps. I set priorities now so we can start Monday by doing, not necessarily thinking. We are not all morning people, especially on Mondays!

I keep trying to think of ways to extend the weekend feelings until Monday morning. But, I think it would exhaust me out more to wake up Monday and not be ready to jump into the week.

I wondered, do similar feelings reverberate through our neighbors homes?   Asking a couple friends, they confirmed that similar routines and emotions run through their households. After writing most this piece, I found a 2015 Monster.com poll that showed a whopping 78% of American workers have these “Sunday Night Blues”. Wow, I had no idea!

How can we extend that weekend feeling a little longer? Most weekends we try to have a family dinner on Sunday night, which brings us together to relax, catch up, and plan for the week. We recently took a spontaneous drive to the beautiful Lake Geneva WI to wander and eat alongside the lake, which was a great change of pace. Maybe we should tweak our Sunday schedules, allow for a little more flexibility and surprise. Keep the weekend feeling alive just a few hours longer, leaving us just a smidge of time to gear up for Monday’s alarm clock ring.

If you have found successful tactics for easing into Monday morning, let me know!

C

Become a Child Again, Time Permitting.

Schedules, lists, calendars. They rule our daily lives, with some deadlines and events unmovable and others set arbitrarily in our minds. (you know, the to-do lists and laundry that MUST get done on a gorgeous day).

As we become adults with more responsibilities, I think it’s easy to become more rigid in our routines, our expectations of completing “tasks” and reaching goals. We can easily lose our sense of childlike adventure and impromptu schedule changes. I am starting to reclaim that whimsical side, and the results have been….fun.

Be spontaneous—take an opportunity to change your course. What will you find? It can be a simple reward, the hummingbird who enjoys my flowers while we sit on the front porch. It can be so much more, too. Freedom. Memories.

This weekend we stopped into a new distillery in town that was extremely fun, warm, welcoming, and served up some delicious cocktails. We will be back.

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The Copper Fiddle.  Lake Zurich, IL

And an unplanned invitation to ride on a neighbor’s boat after kayaking turned into an extremely fun evening with new and old friends.

Realistically, I know that I won’t be able to grab these moments every day. Heck, even be offered them that frequently. Some days truly are scheduled from before wake up to bedtime. But I have become more flexible when I CAN change my schedule. I find that the more I do the unexpected, the more moments of chance encounters appear.   Or maybe I am just more aware of them.

Perhaps wanting to embrace new opportunities has even subconsciously encouraged me to handle those “to do” lists in a more effective manner. Summer is arriving soon—make it a summer goal to be more free spirited. Find some chance moments to explore your locale—solo, with friends, with family. Hopefully, you won’t end up wishing you had done more this summer when autumn arrives. Summer will feel well-lived.

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Often my fave moments are found on that road less travelled.  Photo taken by me outside Scottsdale, AZ.

C

After 900+ Games, A Soccer Mom No More

I am no longer a Soccer Mom. It is truly the end of a parenting era for me. It has been such a huge part of our family life, with 3 kids involved in house league, club, and school soccer for 18+ years. I calculated they have played in over 950 soccer games, with 1000s more practices, trips to the ER, games in literally every type of weather, packing coolers and filling water bottles, show tying, attending soccer parties and award nights, taking a myriad of pictures, even coaching when they were younger.

There was a viral post last year lamenting competitive sports. While I agree that some parents and players have unrealistic expectations, it was never our goal that our children would continue sports in college unless they chose that route. They played soccer because they loved the game—and they got so, so much more from playing soccer than simply the game.

My children have learned discipline, the importance of teamwork, how practice improves your skills, why eating healthy and staying hydrated is important, how to play with teammates and coaches they do not agree with or even like, that you don’t always win when expected, the unexpected victory, how sidelining injuries are frustrating, how to speak up for themselves.

We have formed close bonds with other families, whether for a season or for years. We have travelled for many tournaments including Phoenix AZ, Cincinnati, OH, Madison WI, Kansas City, MO. In each city we have tried to explore–enjoying hiking, a variety restaurants, shopping, and experiences from the St. Louis Arch to college visits.

The end of our family soccer era ended with suddenly, with an elbow to the nose and a 35-yard header that caused a horrible concussion. Not the way I expected us to end our soccer involvement, with trips to the ER, neurologist, physical therapy, and wondering whether Devon would even get to walk at graduation. Thankfully, she is on the mend but soccer days are over.

I doubt our kids can yet appreciate how much soccer positively impacted our family. It allowed us to spend many hours together, watching them grow, learning about themselves and other families’ dynamics, politics in organized sports.

In hindsight, I am so grateful for almost every game I watched—even the bitter cold and snow games brings laughter and memories now. So whatever sport or activity your child embraces,  join their journey. Watch them grow.  And know this time will end.  Quicker than you expect.

C

A Familiar College Visit

Can you go back? To college, that is.

I loved college. My daughter Tara is now a junior at my alma mater, University of Dayton; my other daughter Devon is going to attend UD in the fall. I feel lucky to often visit this school that offered me so many opportunities, helped shape my adult life, and introduced me to some still-amazing friends.

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my UD graduation with my grandmother and parents.

UD has expanded, is way classier looking, has more fields of study, new restaurants to enjoy, but the heart of the school is the same . The upperclassmen housing area, the UD Ghetto*, is overflowing with students on porches and yards enjoying the first gorgeous summer-like weekend this year. The university still seems the happiest place on Earth. Sorry, Disney.

When I was a student, I never once had a thought that one –let alone two–of my kids could be living and studying here, drinking at the same bars, hanging out in the same houses did.  Kinda crazy, in retrospect. Every time I am on campus, I remember so much of my time as a UD Flyer. But as I walk through the Ghetto today, I feel like a …. mom.

It is this generation’s turn to experience college, make friends, find love, join new clubs, travel to new cities or countries, stay up too late, change loves and friends, sleep until noon then study until 2 am.

They will stress about  class projects and exams, life after college, money, health, jobs, fitting in, discovering who they are, and suddenly–what they thought they wanted to study, they don’t. That’s OK. Hopefully your advisors can help you change majors or classes. The emotional turmoil is part of the college experience. Know that these are some of the first adult decisions that you will make—and even after you leave school, many of you will change careers, change friends, move to new cities, have kids.

So, as I walk through the Ghetto with my daughter and a few other moms, I look with envy at these joyous, welcoming, sassy, smart, silly students and hope that you find your way. Experience all you can during these years—you won’t regret it.

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This weekend I will enjoy real conversation with Tara, the school sponsored 70’s themed block party, a few Ghetto gatherings, the infamous Timothy’s, running through the campus, the book store, then head home back to my daily life.

Until next time, when I will enjoy this campus again. Feeling like a … proud mom and UD alumni.

C

*term is UD politically incorrect, but student –and-alumni- correct. I know the school wants to eliminate that name but it’s been there since the 1960’s. Sorry admin.

The Screen Seduction

Screens

So innocent when blank, flat, closed

hidden, reflective

on laps, wrists, eyes, desks

silently beckoning.

 

Flick the button. Once lit, they can captivate

frustrate, mesmerize, create,

we lose ourselves, lose hours, lose days

find our family, explore our world

and beyond

steal identity, steal time, steal someone else’s love,

steal innocence

color, black and white, sepia

sound, silence, song, bark, mewl

Game, work, procrastinate, sing, cry, scream, whimper, gossip,

welcome strangers no longer unknown,

Reserve a dinner, an airplane, a tiny room off an alley,

Buy a house, a penny, a screw of many types,

Voyeur, designer, writer, athlete, chef, preacher, gambler, adulterer, killer.

Explore without moving but our eyes and fingers

Go deeper, to obsidian spaces,

Or become angel, whiteness.

Obsession. Addiction.

 

Experience is limitless. Or limiting, until we return the screens to empty.

Drain the battery. Unplug. Just close it.

And live.

Which is more real life?

 

C

Number Theory

The worst thing about digital clocks is that many children do not know how to really read time. They learn on pre-school worksheets, struggling to draw the hour and minute hands properly,  then promptly forget when there are no clocks in their everyday surroundings. My kids cannot read my watch with no numbers or lines on the face.

There are many things to like about the simplicity of a digital clock, though when you unplug the one by my bed, time simply vanishes. On digital clocks I can see the time at the  three am worry hour.

I can plug my ipod in and hear my favorite music when I awake.

It has a snooze button.

But, my favorite thing about digital clocks is number patterns.  Not waiting for one, like when you drive and wait,  wait for the odometer to click from 49,999 to 50,000.

No, it’s the random view I enjoy. I love when I get in the car to drive and it is 11:11.  Then I happen to come home at 1:11 pm.

The dogs wake me at 5:55 (too early, but a symmetrical number).

Nap time at 3:33.

And my favorite, the glance that reads 12:34.

Pretty cool.  C