Through My Eyes

Wishing I was More of a Fashionista

Here is another obsession of mine lately:

Watching fashion shows on YouTube.

And I’ll be honest, most of the fashions I see I wouldn’t be caught dead in, but there are quire a few pieces in this show that I would actually wear… if I lived on an exotic island and had nothing better to do but attend cocktail parties and exchange fantasies about the hot pool boy.

However, I’m any BUT a fashionista.

I’m comfy in my over-sized t-shirts and swing dresses, thank you very much.

But still, I like to dream. And I not only like to watch fashion shows in YouTube to see what new and ridiculous fashions are being showcased now, but the zombie-like expressions on the models who wear these ridiculous concoctions.

I find that “fashion” becomes more difficult as you get older. I want to wear the hot trendy stuff but let us not forget that I’m old(er) and some of this stuff just looks crazy on me. I LOOK like a woman who is trying too hard.

But in my mind, I’m still mid-30’s so it doesn’t FEEL weird. Just LOOKS odd.

I haven’t given up. I’m still “trying” to find my look but the rate I’m going, I will be 90 before I really find it.

In the meantime, I’m going to live my fashion life through these poor, uncomfortable looking models.

Through My Eyes

BlogHer Bingo

One of my favorite bloggers posted this on her blog the other day …

… and it made me laugh.

Because it’s SO TRUE!!

Interestingly enough, she didn’t get very many comments about it – in fact, I’m not even sure one person commented on it and I was surprised, though I guess I shouldn’t have been because when it comes to these blog conferences, people tend to keep their opinions to themselves and follow the herd.

Why is that?? Are bloggers afraid they will be labeled a troublemaker and an outcast because they dare to disagree with the “popular” bloggers?

Me? I could care less. I have no desire to be part of any blogging group and I like being an outsider, if you want the truth. It’s interesting to watch the drama from the other side of the looking glass and I think it gives me a unique perspective … it’s called REALITY.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about … BlogHer is coming up. And every time this blogging conference comes around, you start seeing all sorts of posts and tweets about … well, the subjects you see in the bingo card. It’s all about the DRAMA and WHO’S FRIENDS WITH WHOM, and OH MY GOSH – THE SWAG!! It’s all about the social aspect of blogging, and belonging, and the ass kissing, and who can make a bigger fool out of herself, etc., etc., …

Honestly? These blog conferences are pretty much wash, rinse, repeat. There is nothing new about them. They are the same group of women who get together once/twice a year in an effort to re-establish/validate their online personalities and to shun a select few who dare to disagree with them, or criticize them … the whole process truly boggles my mind, if you want the truth.

I can understand the interest in learning more about the business side of blogging, or wanting to learn to be a more compelling writer, or how to take better pictures or any other educational aspect of blogging … but the social part of this huge sorority party?

Leaves me ice cold.

“I didn’t make a new card this year, but I have a whole new list of aggravations. I’ve noticed this… phenomenon lately. I’m starting to wonder if people… well, not people. If a certain kind of set of people – NOT specific people, I have NO specific people in mind – if people realize that the blog world, the INTERNET world, is way way WAY bigger than BlogHer.

Like, BlogHer as a conference does not encompass all bloggers, of course. And BlogHer as a network of blogs does not encompass but a FRACTION of bloggers. A fraction of even the TYPES of blogs that are out there. And a tiny SLICE of the kinds of communities that are out there. That a niche blog in the BlogHer type of sphere talking about “how things are” in the world of blogging is actually a kind of a laughable concept because it’s just the tiniest little bit of what’s out there.

It’s so insulated from how things are, from what things are that I can’t take it – ANYONE – seriously, especially as you see people taking themselves more and more seriously. It’s always been huge all around you, and it’s GROWING all around you, and you’re all just going more and more insular. You’re MISSING IT.”
from Temerity Jane

It’s not about making friends, it’s about establishing a popularity pecking order. I think if these blog conference founders were really serious about bringing a blogging community together, they would discourage the regular – OH MY GAWD YOU LOOK FABULOUS KISSY KISSY – bloggers and encourage lesser-known bloggers who would bring fresh, and likely more relevant, ideas to the blogging community. Instead, you have the same group of women, conference after conference after conference, showing up, putting on a show, making fools out of themselves, reading the same types of blog posts from the same type of bloggers time and again … I mean honestly? Blog conferences have become boring and predictable and YAWN.

Don’t believe me? Tell you what – on August 2-4, open up your Twitter and keep a watch on the #BlogHer12 hashtag. Every time you see something from the BINGO card, mark it – I’m betting you get one, if not several, BINGO’s in less than 30 minutes.

THAT’S how predictable these conferences are nowadays.

How about starting a blog conference for only new blogger personalities? The regular “old-timer bloggers” can skip the conferences, thereby giving room to new up-and-coming-bloggers and just focus on “reunions” instead – because isn’t that pretty much what these blogging “conferences” have become?

I’m just askin’.

(And if you get upset by this post, ask yourself WHY??)

Through My Eyes

Embracing Indian Summer

My pink slippers. I bought pink on purpose because I’m determined to try and become a bit more girly. And apparently, I think that’s going to happen if I buy girly-looking footwear.

The jury is still out on the girly transformation.

Fall has arrived in the Ozarks. Actually, it’s Indian Summer right now. (I know how Wikipedia defines Indian Summer, and I’m sure they’re right, they’re Wikipedia after all *ahem*, but MY definition of Indian Summer? Days so hot you feel the need to shed your clothing [layering is an essential art in my neck of the woods], nights so cold you feel the need to slip your feet into slippers and turn on the heater for brief spurts of time, just long enough to remove the chill in the air).

Indian Summer. My favorite part of the year.

I mentioned in my audio post that this is my favorite time of year – actually, that’s not true, it’s my MOST favorite time of year. Crisp mornings, warm afternoons, brightly-colored leaves, marching band competitions, birthdays, Thanksgiving, and of course, National Novel Writing Month.

This time of year triggers something in me and I feel both relaxed and energized at the same time. It’s hard to explain.

I crave productivity, but I’m okay if it doesn’t happen right away.

I feel comfortable in my clothing once again. I LIVE for sweats, sweatshirts and of course, slippers.

The smell of apples, spices and pumpkins make me happy. Coffee taste just a bit better in the Fall, the cool air brushing against my cheeks comforts me.

The earth is tilting on it’s axis, precariously balancing between seasons and I wait with bated breath on it’s very edge, my arms outstretched and ready to embrace the change.

Through My Eyes

Another Summer Bites the Dust

Sizzling days and balmy nights,
Darkened shades, and lowered lights
Black-eyed Susans’ smiling face,
Pink Petunias, Queen Anne’s Lace.

flowers2

Panting dogs, watch June bugs flying
Mothers hot, and children crying.
Vacation time, but best of all,
Just one more month, and then it’s Fall!

poem by Jan Stribley


I have discovered that I hold my breath throughout the entire school year.

No wonder I’m hard to get along with; I’m oxygen deprived.

There’s homework. There are homework battles. There are bed-time issues. There’s me worrying about whether the boys are getting enough sleep (or whether they’re falling asleep in class).

There are friend issues. Who are they hanging around with? Who are they eating lunch with? Who is influencing them and are they making the right decisions? Do they feel peer pressure? Is anyone picking on them?

Are they comfortable in their own skin? Are they secure people? Do they feel awkward with their sexuality? What sorts of girls attract their attention? (And they ARE attracted to girls, right??)

Are we asking the right questions about their future? Are the classes they’re taking the right path to a future career? College is looming just over the horizon. I can see the signs, but at this point, they are still various colors of opportunity — nothing is terribly clear.

And then suddenly ………

Ahhhhhhhh ……….

Summer rolls around … I can B.R.E.A.T.H.E again. I can let all of those worries go and just …. peacefully co-exist with my teenage sons. There are no outside pressures. There is no homework to stress over. We don’t have to worry (overly) much about futures.

We can sleep late and set our own agendas. We don’t have to worry about being at a certain place at a certain time. We can eat ice cream, watch a movie, or simply veg out with absolutely nothing more pressing to do than to idly scratch an itch or two.

We can be lazy and not worry about unpleasant consequences.

I like lazy.

The world simply has more color. Everything smells better. Sounds are closer and more intimate. And everything tastes fresh and delicious.

Time slows down and memories waver and form like blurry images under water. There are no pressure points, there are only points to slowly pluck from passing activities.

I’m relaxed. Everyone around me is relaxed. I’m slow to anger and quick to laugh. Life is good. Life is peaceful.

And then summer ends.

And we find ourselves right back at life’s door, our hands balled into fists and poised just inches from the wood, ready to knock and ask permission to enter the next chapter of our lives.

We are braced for the future. We will handle the future.

But sometimes, I wish no one would open that door.

Goodbye Summer.

We miss you already.

More from Write From Karen

Through My Eyes

Lately, I’ve Been Feeling …

Lately, I’ve been feeling …

… edgy. Bored. Claustrophobic. I get like this sometimes. I live most of my days in my house, alone. Quiet. Silent. Yes, the boys are here, but they are busy doing their own thing. They get annoyed when I look over their shoulder. They get annoyed with my presence.

Lately, I’ve been feeling …

… unmotivated. I KNOW the bathrooms need a good cleaning. I KNOW the crap on my kitchen floor could entertain four toddlers for several hours. I KNOW I need to fill out applications and get the ball rolling on a new job. But … I simply can’t summon the energy to get in there and DO it.

Lately, I’ve been feeling …

… old. My body is constantly changing. And though my digestive problems seem to have finally ironed out (Amen!), I was convinced I wasn’t going to have a period this month. I’m late. I’m never late. My cycle has been 26 days apart from the beginning of my entrance to womanhood. I’ve had months where I had two periods, but never months where I missed one entirely. I knew I wasn’t pregnant, we have taken very deliberate precautions to insure that wouldn’t happen. So I had convinced myself that I was perimenopause — that “THE CHANGE” was beginning to happen. Only today … my period showed up. My feelings are somewhere between relieved and disappointed. I’m ready to cross the perimenopause threshold; I take comfort in the fact that I can SEE the threshold.

Lately, I’ve been feeling …

… uneasy. I need to make an appointment with my OB/GYN. I haven’t had a pap smear in … wow … years. But I’m uneasy because I know that I will not only be chastised for waiting so long, I will be forced to schedule a breast exam because I am 43. And my girls only like to be squeezed and touched by one man — and he’s not a doctor. I am a big baby when it comes to my female parts.

Lately, I’ve been feeling …

… jealous. Even though I have no desire to go to a blogging conference, I feel left out and sad when I read about all of the good times others are having. It’s stupid, really, I KNOW me. I KNOW that I would be uncomfortable and miserable the whole time there because I’m simply not a sociable person. I don’t make small talk because I prefer to put some meat on my words. And yet … I’m surprised that I’m considering, perhaps, just maybe, going next year. I’ve found some local bloggers through Twitter and if I can befriend them, and talk them into going next year, then I think I would go. I’m always braver when I have someone holding my hand.

Lately, I’ve been feeling …

… impatient. I’m determined to make another cruise happen for us next year, but aside from the money issue (which is another reason I want/need to get a job so I can pay for the damn thing), we’re having a time conflict. Jazz will *have to take a summer class next year. Dude will **have to get a summer job. Jazz has an intense week of band camp in August (this is an annual thing and happens every second week in August). July looks like the ONLY time we might be able to go. But Kevin says July is the ONLY month he can’t go — too many mid-year reports and audits. Did I mention I’m determined to make this work?

Lately, I’ve been feeling …

… torn. I love to give things away. LOVE. IT. But it costs money, which I pay out of my pocket. And money WILL be getting tight. But I don’t want to stop the giveaways because I see it as doing my small part to give back to the community. And giving is always a good thing. We’ve always given in the past, even when we probably shouldn’t have. But God has ALWAYS blessed us as a result. So I will continue to give any way I can. Giving things away makes me very happy. I want to hang on to that happiness.

Lately, I’ve been feeling …

… uninspired. And I’m pretty sure it’s largely due to the fact that I haven’t been reading as much as I used to. When I don’t read, I don’t write. I get most of my inspiration from reading others. My reading habits have changed largely because I’ve been distracted with Twitter and the blogs in my Google Reader. From this point on, I will make more time for reading and will not check my Reader or hop on Twitter until AFTER I’ve gotten some writing done — whether that’s a blog post or a story.

*Jazz has signed up for Jazz band this year. Since it’s a semester class, this will put him one class behind his peers. In order for him to graduate with his peers, he’ll need to take a summer class to stay caught up.

**Dude needs to grow up. I was working at 16; Kevin was working at 16. Next summer, Dude will be 17. We feel it’s very important for him to get out into society and start learning some real-life lessons. It’s time.

Through My Eyes

Through My Eyes: Rushing to Help

Time is ticking.

The boys need help.

And once again, I’m left feeling like a complete idiot.

I glance at the clock: 5:05 p.m.

Time to start dinner.

I reluctantly tear myself free from the cyber world I’ve emerged myself in for the past 30 minutes and head into the kitchen.

From the kitchen, I can see both boys, heads bent, brows furrowed, as they attempt to make sense of the foreign language that we commonly call Math.

My oldest son looks pale and extremely agitated.

I tread cautiously for I never really know how I will be received when approaching him nowadays.

“Trouble?” I ask.

“I just don’t get it!” he snarls in frustration and pushes his papers and book aside in disgust.

A thin layer of skin rips free from my heart at the look on his face. He has a Geometry test the next day and I know he really wants to do well so he can maintain the A- that he’s worked so very hard to earn this semester.

“I’m sorry,” I say softly.

And I am sorry. I am sorry that he has to go through this stress. I am sorry that he has to work so hard on a subject that upon first glance looks useless, but actually comes in handy later in life. I am sorry that I can’t take his worry and anxiety from him.

But I’m mostly sorry that I can’t help him get over his learning slump.

My family teases me about how stupid I am when it comes to math – and I laugh along, but they are right. I AM stupid when it comes to math. I simply can not wrap my brain around the concepts and I struggled, and cried and worried all through my scholastic years because I struggled with a subject that many of my peers seemed to understand.

I felt stupid then, and I feel stupid now.

“Why don’t you take a break and help me cook dinner,” I say, trying to soften the blow and tell him, without really telling him, that I understand his situation more than he knows.

He accepts my offer. And we head to the kitchen.

My youngest son looks jealously at us. He too wants to cook, but I already feel like I give him so much of my attention already, that I decline his offer.

I want to spend a few minutes, alone, with my oldest son.

My youngest son grumbles, but I can see he’s not really that upset. He turns his eyes back to his math book, but I can tell his attention is actually on us.

“Take the meat out of the microwave,” I tell my oldest son. “And crumble it into the skillet.”

He follows my instructions, but I can tell his heart is not into it. His emotions are still wrapped up in the various triangles and angles from his assignment.

“Put a little water into the pan and then generously sprinkle some taco seasoning in.”

He begins to stir, and his movements are clumsy. Bits of hamburger meat fly in different directions and he tenses, bracing himself for my criticism.

I repress a sigh and force myself to be patient. “After all,” I tell myself, “how will the boy learn if I don’t teach him.”

I show him a little trick I’ve learned over the years about folding the meat onto itself as opposed to a more traditional stir.

His shoulders relax.

He opens up two cans of Fiesta Cheese soup and pours them into the saucepan, adding one cup of milk. I tell him he’ll have to keep an eye on the soup or it will scorch.

He dutifully stirs.

We do not talk, we do not have to. For once, we aren’t circling each other, waiting for the other to make a sudden, and unapproved, move – we are peacefully coexisting, we are a team.

I savor the moment.

He finishes preparing dinner just as the garage door opens.

My husband is home from work.

I can almost see the moment when my oldest son’s mind exits the kitchen, enters the dining room and settles once more onto his math problems.

I glance at the clock: 5:35 p.m.

I also begin to tense. There isn’t much time for my husband to help the boys with their homework before he will need to leave for band practice.

I swallow my impatience as my husband enters the kitchen. I kiss him hello and watch him as he greets his sons.

He looks tired. It’s been a stressful day. His company server has several viruses and he tells me it was a struggle to access important information.

The adversary has been busy making my husband’s life chaotic.

I feel a momentary pang of anger at the dark force that dares to intrude on our family time, but again, I tamp down on my emotions. There is no time for hissy fits or regrets, the boys need help.

I’m a diplomat as I navigate my husband’s moods. I don’t want him to think he’s being rushed, but at the same time, rushing is necessary.

I fill his plate with crushed chips and scoop hamburger on top. I drizzle a generous helping of cheese sauce on top and place the plate on the bar, next to my oldest son’s math book and homework.

My husband reaches out and tousles my oldest son’s hair and another thin layer of my heart rips away at the sheer tenderness.

He loves his sons so much.

I gently instruct the boys to sit down and get started while I tend to their every need. I make sure they have toppings close at hand: green onions, tomatoes, hot sauce, salsa, sour cream.

They begin talking another language and I watch as they absently lift nachos to their mouths. They chew slowly as they contemplate the problems and I smile as I turn around to make a plate for my youngest son.

I hear them softly debate, and discuss, possible methods and answers.

My youngest son and I sit down, side by side, at the table and I quietly ask him questions about his day.

He eagerly answers my questions and I look at my oldest son as we talk; a flash of regret singes my insides as I wish he would talk to me the same way.

But he is like me in so many ways.

And I understand.

We are private people.

I glance at the clock: 6:00. It is nearly time for my husband to pack up his gear.

He does not like being late, even though the rest of his band members have no problem arriving late, leaving early, and in some cases, forgetting about practice altogether.

I experience another flash of annoyance at the lack of courtesy nowadays.

And on the tail end of that thought I am once again proud of my husband for taking his responsibilities so seriously and for setting such a good example to our boys.

It is now 6:10 – he needs to leave in five minutes if he hopes to make it on time.

My oldest son’s questions have been answered and a genuine smile appears on his face for the first time since I picked him up from school that day.

He can get the rest of the problems on his own, he tells my husband and I look at my youngest son, who’s pale blues eyes are trained on his brother and father.

I know what he is thinking: will his father have enough time to pay attention to his problems?

My husband turns toward us and we exchange smiles. He looks so tired. And I feel guilty for not being to help them with this aspect of their lives once more.

I can tell the time shortage is starting to stress my husband out, but he does a good job of hiding his feelings from my youngest son and they take a few minutes to look over his work.

I send a silent prayer up to God as it appears that my youngest son has finally grasped a concept that has eluded him for weeks.

My husband nods once in satisfaction and pats his son gently on the head. He quickly gathers up his equipment, gives me a quick peck on the lips and heads out the door.

Disaster has been diverted.

My husband has served as super hero once again.

And he makes it to practice on time.

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