Remembering Robin

Posted in Deep Thoughts on May 5, 2015 by czriley

Today I was reminded of the amazing human being who was Robin Williams. A Facebook friend posted a video of him that I hadn’t seen before. He was pretending to be the American flag. If you had asked me if anyone could be funny for over five minutes pretending to be a flag I would have said no. But Robin was.
I’m not a huge fangirl or celebrity worshipper. I don’t read People, I don’t watch Entertainment Tonight or check out the TMZ website. And when celebrities whose work I’ve enjoyed pass away, I’m sad about it, but only briefly. I might even watch a few of their movies that I particularly enjoyed, but it’s not a huge deal. Until Robin. Somehow, he’s different. I feel almost like I grew up with him. I was in high school when Mork and Mindy aired, and it was definitely a must see! I looked forward to that half hour every week (well, until the 3rd season at least). And his career took off from there – the stand-up, the movies – it was all wonderful. He has made me laugh harder than anyone else has ever. But he didn’t just make us laugh – he made us think, too. He always ended his stand-up shows with a little serious note. Serious but touching. Which made him perfect for roles like Mrs. Doubtfire. Just watching him, like when he was on Actor’s Studio, run through a whole world of characters in under five minutes, all inspired by a shawl he borrowed from the audience – it was breath taking.
But apparently underneath all that he was battling demons. And in the end, it was too much for him. He gave us all so much happiness, so much laughter. I wish he had saved some for himself, or that we could have given him some back when the darkness descended.
Thank you, Robin, for all the laughter, and all the deep thoughts. Thank you for sharing yourself with us all. The world is a lot less funny without you in it, but I hope now you’re at peace.

Starting Over

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2015 by czriley

It has been far too long since last I wrote. My last post was on my 50th birthday – that was nearly 3 years ago! I’ve thought, off and on, about coming back and blogging again, but I’ve never gotten around to it before.
Somehow, it seems hard to write often. I mainly get the urge to write when something really big or important moves me. And sometimes I have written about things like that. But by the time the draft is finished, I have whatever it was out of my system and don’t feel the need to actually post it any more.  And the usual day to day things seems small and too insignificant to write about.
And yet, it’s always in the back of my mind – this online space where I can write about anything, say anything that I don’t mind the universe reading. And I do love to write – always have. I once thought I’d be a writer or a poet. Surely even 53 isn’t too late to start?  And maybe part of the challenge is finding something interesting to say, even about the mundane things.
So here I am, back to give this blog another go. I make no promises that it will all be brilliant or riveting, but it will all be me. I hope you enjoy it!
NOTE: When trying to find my way back here I discovered another blog called Mama Dragon’s Lair on Blogspot. If that’s what you were looking for, sorry for the confusion. Feel free to stick around!

Turning 50

Posted in Deep Thoughts with tags on June 21, 2012 by czriley

So a little while back I mentioned that I was going to be turning 50 soon, and that it would probably merit a blog post. Well, here it is. This is my last night on the planet as a 40 something. As of 4am tomorrow I will officially be 50. Oh dear.
I’ve been through several layers of emotion about this. Sometimes, it seems like no big deal. As a friend told me “You’re just another day older” True enough. And sometimes I can go with that – feel like it’s really no big deal. It’s just a number. It doesn’t mean I have to start sitting in a rocking chair and knitting. Well, ok, I do knit, but no rocking chair! And it certainly doesn’t feel as old as it sounds. I still love video games, for heavens sake! And Alice Cooper! So I can’t be old, right? What’s a few grey hairs?
But as the moment draws closer, I’m starting to feel a little more freaked out by it. It feels so momentous – like the earth will shake, there will be a green flash in the sky, the voice of God will echo across the land “And so it was that she turned FIFTY”. Ok, perhaps I’m being a bit overly dramatic (you think?) What will really happen is that I’ll be sound asleep and not even notice. And when I wake up in the morning I’ll feel no different than I did this morning.
There are so many ways that I can look at this and freak myself out about it. Middle aged. Probably more than half-way through my life at this point. It’s all downhill from here. On and on. And Lord knows I’m good at freaking out and worrying about nothing. What I have to do is take a deep breath and remain calm. Think about how far I’ve come, and how wonderful the place I”m at right now is. And how young I feel on the inside, in my head and my heart. Sure, there’s room for serious reflection. There are things I’d like to change, improvements to make. Aren’t there always? That sort of introspection is fine, as long as I don’t get too carried away with it. I need to learn to see the good parts, too. And there are good parts – a lot of them!
So tomorrow will come. I will wake up, a new 50 year old. And I will tackle my day, and endure the teasing of family and friends. And laugh right along with them. The first 50 years have been pretty damn good. Let’s make the next 50 even better!

Five for Five: Age

Posted in Five for Five on April 26, 2012 by czriley

I was all set to write a moving, or at least whiny, piece on the horrors of turning 50, which I will be doing in a couple of months. But life decided to intervene, thus sparing you  my middle-aged angst. But the day was a perfect illustration of the age I am, and the place I’m at in my life right this minute.
Start with the usual crazy rush to get everyone out the door on time.  Realize that it was actually today and not tomorrow that I promised to take my mother-in-law to the doctor.  Rush out the door, with a protein bar and a frapp for breakfast, skipping the shower I no longer had time for.  After the doctor, mother-in-law wants me to stay and visit for a while.  Can’t say no, of course, and I have some free time, right?  Eventually get home, remember I need to buy shorts for daughter’s play which is tonight (last minute request from the teacher).  Get gas, get shorts, drive to school to fetch boys, then to the church where daughter’s class is practicing their play.  Discover that daughter expects to be run home for a while, then back to the  play.  Run home, quickly arrange ride to and from Little League game for youngest son since now I won’t be home to take him, then run back to play venue with daughter.  Watch play (The Sound of Music – not bad for a bunch of 8th graders!)  Drive home with daughter and husband, picking up fast food for the 3rd time t his week (ti’s been that kind of week).  Then realize that I hadn’t had time to write my post on Age.  Which catches us up to where I am right this minute.

So here I am, on the cusp of 50.  Taking care of an aging parent, running children all over the place, juggling conflicting commitments.  And I find I’m too busy living to worry much about what number I’m turning.  At least for now.  But never fear – I expect my middle aged angst will find voice when the actual date is closer.  Stay tuned!

Five for Five: Pictures

Posted in Five for Five with tags , on April 25, 2012 by czriley

Pictures
Moments n life
Places
people
times long gone
Frozen
in black and white
fading color
or ever bright pixels
Each evokes a memory
takes me
to that forever past
Childhood
Family days
since shattered
Beloved children
tiny and helpless
now towering over me
All that I see
forever altered, forever gone
one thing remains
invisible now as then
love.

Five for Five: Words

Posted in Five for Five with tags on April 24, 2012 by czriley

First, a brief “housekeeping” issue. I haven’t yet figured out how to have my replies to comments automatically emailed to the person I’m responding to. I HAVE figured out a way to do this manually, so this is how I will send you my replies. My apologies if I miss someone or send a reply to the wrong person. Rest assured that I do actually read and respond to all comments. Thanks for your patience! And now on with the blog!

Words are magic. Just look at Momalom’s wonderful Five for Five. One word – Change – and FIFTY FIVE entirely different blogs, all inspired by the same word. Words can be used in so many ways – to communicate, to teach, to share to hurt, to heal. You can use words and write a horror story, a romance, a comedy. But they are not always precise. We see them through the filters of our lives. When I write the word “cat”, I’m thinking of the little brown and orange tabby named Amber who is at this moment sitting on my desk and blocking my view of the computer screen. You read “cat” and think of how much you dislike them, or remember one you had as a child, or…. the list is endless. We can both agree about what a cat is, but the word can mean so many different things to each of us.
Like magic spells, words can be used to conjure up any image, thought or feeling But they have to be the right words, in the right place. All too easy to put the wrong words in the wrong place and say or write what you didn’t mean. Like the time I told a friend I wanted him to spare me some of his happiness. What I meant was that I was tired of hearing him brag about his college and would he please lay off already. But to ask him to spare me his happiness? Really poor choice of words. And, yes, we didn’t talk again for decades.
But the right words, they can be poetry, a symphony, a glorious painting of feeling and emotion. They can take us to places we’ve never been before, show us people at their very best, at their very worst. Bring us to tears, send our thoughts in new directions. Words are magic.

Five for Five Day 1: Ode to an Odyssey

Posted in Five for Five with tags on April 23, 2012 by czriley

Last night we bought a new car. Our poor  old Odyssey has been getting less and less reliable. The first time it stranded us was 2 Christmases ago on our way to Las Vegas. At night. In the pouring rain. Very nearly in the middle of nowhere. That adventure could be an entire blog post in itself so I won’t go into all the details. But suffice it to say that from that moment on we began to have a little less faith in the old car.
The following July it stranded us again. Daylight, this time. But still kind of in the middle of nowhere. More major hassles. By this point we all knew that the van’s days with us were numbered.
We got home from that trip and I immediately looked up new cars. There was never really much doubt about what our replacement car would be. With 5 of us something small like a Prius just won’t work for long trips. And we still do quite a few long trips. Plus occasional field trip driving, or hauling of large items. So we definitely wanted another minivan. And we’d loved the old Odyssey, so a new one seemed a natural choice. We did look at the Toyota Sienna, just to compare. Our opinion of the Sienna was probably colored by our extremely negative experience with the dealership. Even so, we just plain liked the Odyssey better. But nothing in this family happens fast. We tend to procrastinate and drag our feet. It seemed like we’d never get a new car. When people asked me about the new car search my standard reply was “Hell hasn’t frozen over yet” Even when we went out last night, I pretty much assumed that we’d just talk numbers etc. with the salesman and walk away. Except we didn’t. I guess Hell actually froze over finally! The car wasn’t ready yet – it’s so brand new off the truck that they have to finish unwrapping it! So DH will pick it up tonight. Sadly, due to scheduling conflicts, I won’t be with him. But that might be best. Because every time I think about never seeing my dear old minivan again I get choked up.

Those of you who have visited my blog before may remember how I feel about change. I hate it. Always have, and as I approach the scary sounding age of 50, I suspect I always will. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted things to stay the same. Car. House. Friends. Family. Pets. Christmas Traditions. Everything!! I do think I’ve gotten a little more relaxed about changes, but I still prefer the same old things in the same places, or doing the same things the same way. But life doesn’t work like that. Life, in fact, IS change. Big ones, like losing my grandparents. Smaller ones, like painting a room.
So here I am with a change that seems positive. Really cool brand new car in place of the beat up old unreliable one. No negatives there, right? Except that I love my old van. It’s been pretty much my personal car, and I’ve spent hours in it.  Driving to and from school.  Running errands.  Having arguments with the kids.  Llistening to my daughter nearly shatter the windows with her shrieking during tantrums when she was little. Joking around with all 3 kids on our way places.  Singing along with Alice Cooper.  Listening to puppies wailing.  All of us so enthralled with the last Harry Potter on CD that the 10 hour trip from Las Vegas seemed short. So many memories, so much of my life lived in that old van. And things like cars are never just inanimate objects to me. They somehow become my friends. I’ve talked to that old van, shed tears of frustration, sadness, anger, laughter in it. My kids have grown up in it – E was 3 when we bought it, now he’s almost 17! It’s T and G’s first car with us. E lost his first tooth in that van (another blog post I should write someday) You get the idea – that minivan has been at the center of a lot of my life in the 13.5 years that we’ve owned it. And it makes me sad to let it go. I worry about where it will go now, what will happen to it. Will another family buy it? Love it? Take care of it? Not that we took such great care of it ourselves, but I don’t want someone to just trash the heck out of it.  But I have no say in what comes next for it.
My old friend is gone now. DH drove it to work this morning since he’s going to be taking it in tonight. So yesterday when I drove it, it was the last time. I didn’t even know, as I pulled in the driveway and stepped out, that I’d never drive it again. I thought I might have it for a while this morning before we went to pick up the new one – a last chance to run errands in it, fetch the kids from school in it, say goodbye to it. But maybe this is better. Just thinking about it has been bringing tears to my eyes – writing about it has me crying. Walking away and handing over the keys for the last time would probably be too much – I’d just embarrass myself in front of the salesman, and I wouldn’t want to do that. So I guess this is how I’ll say goodbye.
So long, old friend. Thanks for being my faithful companion for so many years. Whatever your future brings, know you’ll take a little part of us with you.

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