Now I’m Leaving Normal, Headed Who Knows Where

If I’ve been kind of quiet for a few days, it’s because I’ve been sitting around feeling sorry for myself.  I’ve been sick with that Creeping Crud for 3 weeks.  Even with the Mucinex, VapoRub, Sudafed, neti pot, chamomile tea, Breathe Right strips, humidifier–I still can’t breathe, can’t talk, can’t sleep.  And my physical weakness coincided with the demands of kids being out of school, the holiday bustle, and G being sick as well.  I feel like I’ve been staring at the wall for a month.  Somebody call me a wahhhhmbulance.

Even when I could drag myself in to work, it was different too.  Four dear friends are gone from the group of eight who had Christmas lunch last year–two out of jobs, one consumed by a huge project, and one off to Chile for five months.   So much work to do, and not as many co-conspirators.  Harumph.

Chaos rules the house.  The decorations need to go back up in the attic but I hate to say goodbye when it feels like I just got them all up.  There are the broken ornaments that need to be glued back together–the gumdrop ball that Carlos tried to eat, the seal from Bar Harbor that lost a flipper, the pink baby shoe that shattered.  And the presents still need to be put away!  The cookies seem to be the only things getting put away in a timely fashion.  Blargh.

My children change so quickly that I wonder who I’ll meet every morning when it’s time to wake them up.  Sometimes it’s good change–like when Carlos was pushing his Jeep up the driveway the other day and turned around to wave, blow me a kiss like usual, then he added, “I love you!” for the first time.  Sweetness.  Sometimes the change is more ominous–like last night when I told Vivi to pick up the scraps of paper from her snowflake craft project and she gave me a massive eye roll.  Perhaps it’s her first, but I know it won’t be her last.  When I called her on it, she explained with her best first-grade logic that she was just exercising her eyes in a completely neutral way and I happened to interrupt her right in the middle of it.  Uh huh.

And writing.  It’s supposed to be my happy place but I’m overthinking it.  Freezing up, like the weather outside.  I wrote a spot-on piece about living in the moment for New Year’s Eve (There Is This) and ever since then I’ve been afraid to write anything else because I keep looking over my shoulder to admire that piece about…not looking over my shoulder.  Duh.

So to recap:  Waaaaah.  Harumph.  Blargh.  Uh Huh.  Duh.  Where is my NORMAL???

I guess the lesson we all learn if we get to grow up is that we can sit around crying for normal or we can live the day we’re handed, no matter how lumpy or strange or viscous it might be.  I made a decision yesterday to shake myself out of the rut and within an hour, this verse from a Cowboy Junkies song popped into my head:

 “Leaving Normal”

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the high plains of Expectation
And I’m way past the lowlands and the deserts of Failure and Doubt
And the last time I passed through Satisfaction
I felt like a stranger there
Now I’m leaving Normal and I’m heading for who knows where…

Yeah, I don’t hang out on the high plains of Expectation any more–I am generally happy in this place and don’t need Fabulous.  And I have made it out of the deserts of Failure and Doubt…most days.  But Satisfaction?  I should buy a little vacation house there, meet some of the locals.  And the only building in Normal is a bus station to get you out of there.

In the song, the woman continues on a Greyhound bus, headed who knows where and she’s POSITIVE about it.  Leaving Normal is moving on. Onward and upward.  I’m trying to follow that advice, so here are the things I’ve done to kick my own ass today:

1.  I signed myself up for this weekly lesson on writing by Alice Bradley, delivered right to my Inbox so I can get better at the craft of writing.  I am going to be less afraid of writing, especially when I do it well.

writing class

2.  I signed myself up for WoW Boot Camp, the fitness program that I loved for two years and I’ve missed for three years.  I am going to feel strong again.

boot camp

3.  I talked to my friend Betsy the nurse practitioner about this Crud and she suggested a steroid for the bronchial inflammation.  So by Monday, I should look like this:

woman on steroids

I took a few actions.  Pity Party CANCELLED.  Honestly, I have better things to do.

And what do you know?  Those friends that I’ve been missing so much?  We got together for our regularly scheduled Friday lunch and who should come walking in but our world traveler!  Erica is home and the sky is looking bluer already.  Hooray!  Salsa verde and hugs all around.  


Here’s Margo Timmins singing “Leaving Normal” if you’d like to hear her belt it out.  I would pay money to listen to her read the phone book.  One day I’ll tell you about the time I rode a train across Canada with the Cowboy Junkies and Margo and I talked about her dog eating rocks.  Dang, I think with that one sentence, I’m starting to sound like myself again!

13 thoughts on “Now I’m Leaving Normal, Headed Who Knows Where

  1. NitaB

    I just got the life I needed from this post. Been in a rut combating screaming kids, a cold, and post grad life. Now I’m thinking instead of sitting here begging for a glimpse of “normal” I may need to find and create my own, all while dancing and singing off beat to The Princess and the Frog.

  2. Yo bro Joe!

    I am with you on the crud. I went to the doctor for the third time and they gave me a damn TB test!!! Came back negative so don’t panic but I still sound like I have TB or a collapsed lung. The “Normal” chaos would be awesome right about now.

  3. Michele

    Here’s something that will make you laugh: Target in Wisconsin has bikinis out, and the weather forecast on Monday predicts a high of -14 with a wind chill of -50. If that doesn’t make you chuckle, don’t know what will. It did me. I had to laugh derisively when I spotted the display; got a few looks. Talk about NOT knowing your local markets.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever

      Love it! We were in Tybee Island one year in March and there were two girls in bikinis playing in the water while the locals sat on the sand in coats. I looked at my friend and said, “They must be from Wisconsin.”

  4. Tara @ I Might Need a Nap

    “And the only building in Normal is a bus station to get you out of there.” Yes ma’am I was afraid of that. Well, if we gotta get, better not tarry, let’s get it going. The sooner it gets started, the sooner we can figure out where we’re headed. Maybe? Hope you are seeing some relief from the crud.


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