Saturday, December 13, 2014

December. Maybe SUP is not meant to BE.

A quick trip to a Florida beach. Arriving at sunset, we ponder the posted rates for Stand Up Paddleboarding lessons and think, Do we need lessons? Don't we just Stand Up and Paddle The Board? Still, we decide to bite the bullet the next day.

However, on the beach the next morning, seeing no one swimming at 10:30 AM -- not one soul, not even the birds-- my husband decides maybe he should wade in before we rent anything.

His teeth chatter on the chaise lonque next to me. "Freezing," he says.
And when a Yankee man says freezing, I know he is not exaggerating. (If it was merely cold, he would have said "Brisk.")

No paddleboarding, I say. Absolutely not, he replies.

Still, beyond the beach, beyond the golf course, there is a beautiful pool complex. Swimming, however, is not a sport we can agree on either.

I am one of those weird people who actually likes to swim laps, alternating between crawl, breast stroke, and backstroke. My father was a championship high school swimmer, and we spent every day of every summer at a pool. My husband's idea of swimming is jumping in after sunbathing, then going back to sunbathing.

In the early days of our dating, I challenged him to a lap race and beat the shit out of him. I suspect he has never quite gotten over it.

When we arrive at the pool each day, I say, "want to swim some laps?" and he says, "want to drink some beer?"
We look for chairs where one of us can be in the shade and the other one can be in the sun. We continue my quest to taste every fish taco in the state of Florida.

On the last day, we realize that at the children's pool, there is a water slide.

As we walk by, I say, "I appreciate a good water slide."
"Me too," he says. "Me too."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Empty Nest November Activity Challenge: Adopt a Team.

When the kids leave the nest, we miss the rituals, the traditions we built around them. For some, this is smiley face pancakes on Saturday mornings. Wednesday night pizza after band practice. Or maybe, for the clinically insane, helping with homework. What I feel most sharply is the loss of being a spectator, of cheering on a team.

Those brisk days spent on canvas chairs or rickety metal bleachers represent my favorite kind of parenting -- being present, being loud, having plenty of snacks available. Seriously, what's not to love about that?

Since none of my kids will be playing a sport in college, I'm starting to find myself with an abundance, a complete overflow, of freaking cheer. It pours out of me when I pass a little league ball field, the way breast milk used to rise up when I saw a baby. What will I do with this? Where are the over 40 cheerleading squads, people, and when are the tryouts?

Last week, a friend invited me and my husband to watch a women's college volleyball team play my eldest daughter's alma mater. "You can cheer on your daughter's behalf," she said, knowing she was spending the semester abroad.

I was under the weather, and we couldn't go, but I told my husband that's what we need to do. Find another amateur team, in another sport, and support them. There are dozens of colleges in the area -- we'll find one this year, and adopt them.

"I think it should be a men's team," I add. "Possibly soccer."

"But you miss watching our daughters," he replies.

"But the men are um, more, uh . . . faster, and more accomplished."

"But the women are underfunded and need more support."

"The men wear shorts."

He sighs. We are at a standstill. And in the meantime, I contemplate my friends with younger children still playing on teams. Which one do we feel like embarrassing? And who needs orange slices and Vitamin water?

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Nest Empties. The Phone Rings.

I realized yesterday how seldom the phone rings. How we jump now, just a little, when it does. Is this the urgency people felt when it was first invented? Perhaps.

For me, losing both of my parents in the last few years took the shrill edge off that ringing phone. The fear of it breaking the stillness of the night. The worst has already happened. The calls have already come. And the children were home or accounted for, tucked in.

But just when you feel that sense of relaxation and release -- someone leaves. Someone travels. There is always someone to worry over, now, again. And bad news never comes in a text. (Unless you're fifteen.)

People shake their heads and wonder over women who keep having more children. But this is why, I think. This is why. So they can stave off being alone with a ringing phone.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Empty Nest October Activity Challenge: Denied.

The next plan was for both of us to try a new sport that we both agreed upon. We settled for Stand Up Paddleboarding. I had already rejected Surfing and Ultimate Frisbee as Things He Would Be Good At That I Would Suck At. And the look on his face when I suggested Aerial Yoga was PRICELESS. So SUP it was, and serendipitously, his brother had bought a board and left it at the family vacation house for all to enjoy, thus eliminating Husband Obstacle Number One: Rental Rip-Offs.

But nature had other plans, and neither one of us could motivate to try this in the cold and rain.

So instead, I taught him to knit. Just kidding, haha! But he did drive me to the knitting store in the rain, and then helped me ball the yarn. As he patiently unwrapped
it around his wrists, he said, "This is just like untangling fishing line."

And you know what that means? That means some afternoon while the striped bass is marinating, I can help him untangle his fishing line.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Not-So-Empty Nest, September Challenge: Golf

To me, golf is not a sport. Golf is a divisive activity that separates families and empties wallets. Golf requires a lot of equipment, takes all damned day, and apparently requires drinking and eating a burger afterwards. Golf is an excuse for business trips that fall on the weekend and go to sunny places while your wife stays home and shovels snow and eats the leftover mac and cheese that sticks to the bottom of the pot. "A quick 18 holes" is not conducive to putting babies down for naps, to helping kids with homework, to grabbing a half-hour of exercise while your daughter is taking a dance lesson. NO. Golf is a SORE SUBJECT, and if I start playing golf to spend more time with my husband , well, then, the TERRORISTS WILL HAVE WON.

So, yes, I have a big chip on my shoulder (golf term). And yet -- many of my friends love to golf. We have access to nice courses around the area, my husband has clubs I can borrow, my brother-in-law is a golf pro, and my dad played a mean game his whole life. (Who knows, maybe I have his swing.)

So my friend Karen and I took our first lesson today. We both confessed to each other that we like to learn new things, and hate being bored. We were NOT BORED for one second.

I was outside in a beautiful place on a lovely day, laughing with my friend, bombing around in a cart, making things go thwack and whoosh and ping, SURROUNDED BY YOUNG MEN.

This did not suck.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Blog hop! And then back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thanks to Beth Kephart via Caroline Leavitt via Bill Wolfe. I think. (Tempted to use the word begat.)Their answers wildly different from mine, you'll enjoy reading!

1.What are you working on?
Revisions on my new book, ONE MORE DAY, tentatively scheduled for Oct 2015 from Sourcebooks. It’s about kidnapping, marriage, religion, and seeing ghosts. But it’s really about trusting people. About being believed. And about being different. Then I go back to writing CHARMED LIFE, about a divorced woman still in love with her ex, who goes bankrupt and is forced to care for her cold and distant elderly mother. And my blog posts will go back to my quest for filling my almost-empty nest with wild hobbies.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?

As the reviewers always say -- “it’s surprisingly dark.” Not surprising to anyone who knows me ☺ -- Readers, though, at book clubs I visit, always seem most surprised by beautiful writing. They hunger for it, and not all women’s fiction gives it to them. I try.

2.Why do you write what you do?

All kinds of crazy-ass sh—t fascinates me. I see plot everywhere. But I have to write it my way – and not everything matches up. So I try to find a good mesh between my writing style and my conjured ideas.

4.How does your writing process work?

A combination of knowing when to sit, and knowing when to take a walk.

And . . . I throw the baton over to Merry Jones. If you love mystery, you'll love Merry!

Saturday, September 6, 2014


We’ve finished dinner, and the last pans are soaking. I’m sitting on the couch, eating chocolate, staring at an e-Harmony commercial, waiting for Unsolved Mysteries to come on. My youngest daughter, a senior in high school, is upstairs doing her homework so she can get into college and get the hell away from a mother who is so obsessed with Unsolved Mysteries that she is constantly telling her never to go to the mall at night, because that is when all abductions occur. My husband is behind me, sorting the mail, ignoring the e-Harmony commercial, but prepared to mock any investigative show that comes on before his beloved network programming.
“Hey,” I say suddenly, “do you think e-Harmony would match the two of us up?”
“No,” he replies instantly.
“No?!” I turn around. “You don’t even want to think about it for a second?”
“No,” he says. “We don’t have any of the same interests.”
We met while working in the same industry while playing the same sport on the same team. Those are things in common right there, I point out.
“Kelly,” he sighs, “you love to read, write, knit, and dance. I love to hunt, fish, golf, and ride horses.”
Could he have made me sound any more un-cool and girly and prissy? And made himself sound any more outdoorsy, fit, and Marlboro-Man-y? Those are not really good descriptions of the types of people we present to the world. He runs a company, travels widely on business, but mostly sits in meetings and watches a lot of television. I’m an author and a relatively humorous public speaker who runs around making television commercials to pay the bills. Does that sound like a bookish knitter married to a Marlboro man? Huh?
“We’re both Episcopalian,” I say.
I know for a fact this is the only thing his mother likes about me, since I was not born blonde or listed in the Social Register.
“So we’d be matched on Christian Mingle, but not e-Harmony.”
“You read books occasionally. And we both like movies and we like each other’s friends.”
He exhibit-As me by calling out one of my friends by his nickname for her: “Head case.”
The program comes on and I realize after a few minutes that I’ve seen it before. I’ve seen them all, probably, at this point. The show my husband is waiting for is on in half an hour. My knitting sits in a bag on the table, next to the book I’m reading. I refuse to pick either of these items up; I have no wish to underscore what he has just said. There are busy days coming up: we have volleyball games to watch, a college essay to edit, schools to visit for one child, Parent Visiting Day at college for another. The rest of this month and the next will be jam-packed with kid-related activities.
But what about when they aren’t?
What about in one year from now, when every last kid related activity is gone? What about after that, retirement, when the days are completely open?
Am I gonna read books and knit while waiting for my dance class while he gallops on a tall steed headed to a duck blind somewhere?
Don’t those two people sound like they live in two completely different places?
Jesus, I think. I need to come up with a plan.
And so here it is: Try Something New At Least Once A Month For A Year, until I find something my hubby and I can do TOGETHER. (It should be noted that if it were up to him, we could simply take up a new sexual hobby and he would be happy. But I say we need MORE.) To show that I am a loving, giving person, I am starting by trying something I HATE that he LOVES. I am doing the hardest thing first. Stay tuned. I am dreading it ALREADY.