Thursday, August 21, 2014

High Priority

When Z became a company commander, he had a lot of responsibility dealing directly with a huge variety of issues.

This variety covered everything from arrests to marital issues to almost anything else you could image, most of which I don't fully understand (Army stuff), but it also meant he came home with a LOT of very interesting stories.

This was one of my favorites by far.

He once received a letter addressed to "The Honorable" followed by his title. Let me just take a minute to say that "The Honorable" is not part of his professional title. Not even close. So this was a little suspicious. 

Inside the envelope was a two page letter, obviously not proofread, obviously written in a bout of self-righteous anger and indignation. Allow me share some of the finer points:

"I am writing you this letter to inform you about tax evasion on one of your US Army staff..."

"I feel my duty to inform you of this incident, and I knew sooner or later the Internal Revenue Department would notice the problem...If I get kill [sic] or injured for informing the Army of such incident, I will be proud [...] to defend the United States against foreign or domestic threat."
  "On a different note, (the offending party's name has been removed) got very drunk and made her grandma cry, disrespected her mother, and insulted me, and became very disorderly, if a police man would have been present she would have been cited for disorderly conduct."

This went on, as I said, for TWO PAGES.

The note concluded with this:
 "Cc: The White House"

There are many things that should probably be addressed (fear of death by sniper over informing the Army of alleged tax evasion) and that may be slightly alarming about this letter (she made her grandmother cry, THAT MONSTER!), but my biggest concern is that I'm just not quite sure the author of this beautiful diatribe understands exactly how CC: works. Yet I feel like they were absolutely confident that it would reach the White House nonetheless.

Patriotic duty fulfilled.

God bless America.

Monday, August 18, 2014

August Announcement

It's important that I preface this post by saying I'm not pregnant. Ok, carry on then.

August is the time for announcements.

It's almost a year to the day that we announced Baby Landis, if you can believe that.

And now I have another equally important announcement to share...

You guys, I'm growing my hair out.

Whew. That feels good to finally get out there. I've been sitting on this news for a few months because it's just not something I take lightly. I had to be sure I was ready, I was committed and I was strong enough to go public with this. Anyone who has gone from pixie to long knows what I'm talking about.

*Unrelated side note: I was talking to my mom the other day and (without thinking) said "GUESS WHO IS PREGNANT AGAIN?" and she kind of gave me this weird look and it took me just a beat too long to realize that I had left just the tiniest room for the thought that WE might be pregnant again to enter her mind ... so I veryveryvery quickly recovered and said "No no, it's not me". Mild panic attacks all around.

Anyways. Hair.

I figure you guys have been through enough of the ups-and-downs of my hair journey that we should share this season as well.

I have done just about everything with my hair. It's been long. It's been short. It's been permed. It's been dyed (successfully and unsuccessfully). It's even had fire-engine red streaks (ah, college). There are have been good decisions and bad decisions. There have been great cuts and unfortunate events.

You'll recall the boy-band hair episode for the "unfortunate events" reference.

To give you an idea of how often my hair morphs over time, I need you to understand that this has been a pattern in my life.
Let's take a look. Walk with me...

A Brief History of Hair: ATY Version.

Take high school, for example. I give you my hair freshman year, and my hair senior year.
(This is a big step for me you guys. I feel vulnerable here.)

First of all, sorry about the bad quality of the picture. Actually, sorry about almost everything about the picture on the left, particularly. I showed this picture to my iMessage support group (I've mentioned them a few times I think. Maybe? If not, they deserve a whole blog post, and soon) and my friend Mary, God bless her, said "Oh good volume, Katie". So of course you can see why I'm friends with her.

So that's just high school.

Now we have the last 10 years in a very condensed nutshell, simply because I got tired of looking through all the pictures and didn't want to include a bazillion more...



So, to recap: we have freshmen year of college red-streaks, we have curly college hair, we have straight college hair, we have post-college long hair, we have post-marriage shorter hair, we have move-to-Europe pixie, we have super-short pixie bordering on faux-hawk, but not quite because you'll recall OH YEAH, I have actually had an accidental mohawk. Too bad no pictures of that have survived. And by too bad I mean THANK GOD. There are also no surviving pictures of the orange color that happened to my hair mere days before we left for the states this year. Remember that? Woof. (Actually, my friend Kate has pictures of the orange episode. When she posted them to social media, she made them black-and-white. TRUE FRIEND.)

This hair relationship, it is a complicated one, is it not? The thing is, hair is just always changeable, right? So when I get bored or restless, changing my hair seems a better choice than, I don't know, getting tattoos. Nothing wrong with that, by the way. But hair changes are just less of a permanent commitment, you know?

But anyways, enough is enough. I have loved my short hair. Z LOVES my short hair (and he is, in fact, the reason it has remained short for so long...I tried growing it out about a year ago and he convinced me to keep it short). But I'm ready for new hair. I want a ponytail, for pete's sake! So I press on, through this muddled territory that is the pixie grow-out. A mullet is inevitable. Let's just acknowledge it, accept it, and move forward. We are in for some scraggily, mangy days. There will be headbands and clips and optical illusions and so so so much hair spray. But we will get through! You're here to witness this and hold me accountable.

Hair we grow! (Sorry for that. Only a little bit though.)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The hard-and-wonderful

I had a weird day this week.

You know the ones. You can't quite put your finger on it. And then you can. But it's still not totally that.

I woke up to an email from a friend sharing some great news. I was so thrilled. I thought "what a great way to wake up!"

I texted Z to share the news. He agreed it was great news. Our little text exchange was celebratory.

And then I checked my email a few short hours later to learn some heartbreaking news from another friend. I thought "why does this happen?"

I texted Z to share the news. He agreed it was devastating. Our little text exchange was heavy with sadness.

The weather was even weird. The morning dawned sunny and clear. And then the clouds rolled in, heavy with rain and thunder (which was strange, because I can count on one hand the amount of times it has thundered since we've lived in Germany). And then, as if the weather thought "well that's enough of that", the sun came back out. Weather whiplash that matched the emotional collision. 

I never know what to do with these weird days. With the juxtaposition of celebration and mourning. With energy and weariness competing within me. When what I'm experiencing is at the same time wonderful and hard.

I'm not very good at dealing with things head-on, especially when conflicting emotions are involved. Me and the ostrich, we have that (and, strangely enough, a lot of other things) in common. We're head-in-the-sand-ers. I'd like to think I'm improving in this area, slowly but surely. But sometimes more slowly. And usually way less surely.

I stumble over words, trying desperately to convey something meaningful but feeling like what I really want to say just won't come out right. This is why writing is so helpful for me. Words flow a lot easier through my fingers than my mouth. This is also why with almost every major issue I have faced, whether personally or relationally, I have had to sit down and journal or write a letter because I know I will be frustrated and disappointed at the way I convey things otherwise. It's probably something I need to work on...but I also don't want to force it, making it even more unnatural and clumsy. It requires cultivation, this learning how to adequately express myself verbally. And cultivation feels like a huge word and an even huger task, which just sort of exhausts me in lieu of everything else that is on my plate. This is where priorities are helpful, I suppose. 

"Cultivation of verbal expression in the face of emotional turmoil". I'm not sure if that should go above or below "change Zoe's diapers in a timely manner".

Anyways, I did the only thing I know to do in situations like these. I wrote an email back to my one friend, sharing my excitement about the exciting, wonderful news. And then I wrote an email back to my other friend, sharing my sorrow over their sad, hard news. And I thought about how often this theme, this hard-and-wonderful intertwined, is appearing in my life lately.

Granted, the hard-and-wonderful I experienced on this particular day was not MY hard-and-wonderful. But it was the hard and the wonderful of people that I really love and care about, and since they shared their hard and their wonderful with me on the same day, within hours of each other, it meshed together to form a married hard-and-wonderful experience. And it further illuminated the existence of hard-and-wonderful that has been showing up so often in my own life. I think that's why it threw me off balance a little more than usual. I felt it, and I felt it in a different way, a way that was more outside of myself and a little bit harder to stuff aside with the hollow promise of "I'll tackle those feelings and what they mean another day, probably, but for now ... " *THUNK* (head firmly in sand).

I know it seems like an absurdly simple revelation. This is life. It is hard. And it is wonderful. And maybe I'm just slow or have had a more tidy experience of the highs and lows of life, but I find that usually the hard and the wonderful ebb and flow separately. If you were to chart this (and of course you would), it would look like a soothing wave, with soft up-and-down curves. Gentle. Rhythmic. "Wonderful" being the crests and "hard" being the troughs (full disclosure: had to google "anatomy of a wave" for that one). That's where you get the whole "mountain tops and valleys" analogy about life as well. "Seasons of life" and all that...suggesting that if you're in a hard season, a wonderful one will follow (or vice versa). There's usually a clean separation between the two, right?

So what about when there's not? What about when life is exactly wonderful AND hard, right at the same time?

I'm not trying to say anything deeper or bigger that what I'm actually saying, so before you think "oh my gosh, it's a cry for help...I wonder what is going on?" just settle down. This is just something that has been swirling around in my mind and popping up in conversations with friends and becoming a part of my general awareness in recent months. A lot of it has to do with welcoming Zoe into our lives, because if there's one thing that having a newborn will introduce to you or heighten your awareness of, it's this collaboration of hard-and-wonderful. So I'm learning to live in the hard-and-wonderful and be ok with the hard-and-wonderful and figuring out how to navigate the hard-and-wonderful and even be (dare I say it?) comfortable with the hard-and-wonderful.

Do you know what I mean?