Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Dying Breed

Finding myself newly married has been its own adventure these past four months. It is still very novel to say, "my husband". When I hear D say, “my wife,” I almost stop to look around for some middle aged woman with wrinkles and a bad attitude. Then I realize he's talking about me and I look pretty dang good and I’m pretty dang happy.

Living with a new last name has not been such a seamless transition. I am in the process of purchasing a url for my freelance business and am leaning towards amymaillet.com. The thing is: I don’t feel like Amy Maillet. I feel like Amy Cornish with a side of Maillet. Who knew my name change would cause such an identity crisis? It is my future but what about my past? All those things Amy Cornish lived seem to fade off the charts and become something certain people “remember when”. Remember Amy Cornish?

It’s not that I have accomplished so much in my life that I need to hold on to Cornish; rather it’s a deep breed affinity for the name and the people who came before me and bestowed it on me. My ancestors, yes, but really my grandparents, my dad and his brothers and sister. People who I see rarely but feel for deeply in my heart. Good, kind-hearted, fun loving people that don’t need much but enjoy what they have. That is what I feel when I think of "Cornish". It has always been positive.

Strange too is the consideration that people I meet now will probably never know the last name I carried for 33 years. My kids will ask about it like a trivia fact. My sisters will probably all have other alias’. Six girls and no trace of the Cornish name, only the curves of our cheeks and the lightness of our personality will give it away. It is like a dying breed: someday there will be a search for cave drawings and signs of what was once a group of people bound together. We will be dispersed in the world and hidden by the society around us. We can be traced and identified only by digging under the veils of new last names.

Last night after about the 50th url suggestion and D growing weary of the conversation, I asked him if he would feel comfortable buying AndyCornish.com? He stopped and rolled that around in his mouth and didn't like the taste very much. So this name change business is not just me. It’s like rerouting a river or having a new paint color in your bedroom, it takes some getting used to. I’m not even saying Maillet is a bad thing. My name sounds so much prettier these days with the fade of the French “let”. Since it flows better now, I feel some strange validation that I made the right decision marrying this guy. Funny, I know, and there's no real weight to the sentiment other than it’s one of those nuggets so close to my heart. And Cornish is not gone…it’s there in the middle but I refuse to be a hyphenater or a double-namer. If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it whole.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tomorrow's Just An Excuse Away

Yesterday I woke up with a distinct dream in my head and promptly lost it because it thought it was too cliche and stupid to write about. Today I wish I had a juicy dream to analyze. Instead I find myself on the down swing of unemployment wondering what it is I am going to do with my life and how I am going to achieve it. I tried to buy my website yesterday (OnTheFlipside.com) but alas I am not alone. I was about to settle on AmyMaillet.com but hesitated and decided to sleep on it. It just seems to lack the sense of creativity I was hoping to establish with a url.

Slowly now I am starting to plug in as I realize the time is now. Step by step can I build something? Will it be enough for this faced-paced competitive society I am living in? There is nothing left to do but try. Since I can’t figure out how to make money, I feel like the least I can do is show up everyday. Write. Create. Inspire.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Success in Small Doses

Summer is officially here. I went to the pool with M and little M and LL yesterday to get some summer pool time in on my watch. It felt good to go through the motions of summer, the way I used to live everyday as a child. As an adult it was fun to watch M playing with little M in the pool. Little M dunked her head under the water and came up with pride as if she slayed her own dragon. I sat under a tent with LL gazing over my shoulder in wonderment at what life is all about.

The summer is uninhibited and that's why I like it so much; everything seems more alive. Every morning I spend a few moments outside checking my herb garden and tomato plants for new growth. It is a silent, humble joy that I experience (as “my garden” is a term to be used loosely). Still, there is magic in seeing something I planted take on new shape and height and blooming in its’ own special way. It makes me feel like traces from good days and good actions remain. It reminds me that there is so much beauty to the everyday struggle of life. It is validating to know something established weeks ago slowly comes to fruition after fighting it’s own battles.


And the ladybugs: they are everywhere. One landed on my windshield for a brief moment yesterday as I was driving and I swear I was fully present, if only for a second. Later, I was grilling when I noticed another ladybug in the back yard taking residence on the tomatillo plant. Something about the sighting made me feel like all was right in my world - like the ladybugs approve of me and who can disagree with ladybugs?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Good Morning

I woke up early to a Ginger by my side. The dog took up residence by the bed, laying down with her back towards me and her head curved around the door to see down the hallway. I lingered in and out of sleep and finally became more awake than asleep.

I knew from the light that it was not another Seattlish rainy day like the ones we have been living lately. It was sunny and perhaps that’s what got Ginger up early. She sat up and let me scratch her back. Not having a job has afforded me the level of relaxation to grow more comfortable with not rushing the day. Ginger relishes the knowledge that in her very near future there will be a walk. Some mornings she even comes over and lightly nudges my face with her nose, like a kiss to wake me. It is our newest morning ritual and one I have grown to love even as D scratches her chin and says, "everyday is Saturday, right dog?"

Today she was preparing me to get out there in the world, to explore what these past rainy days have done in terms of growth to the plants and grass. It would be green like the Northwest, at least that is what I wanted to tell myself, for Denver it would be green enough. The sun streamed in the window brightly. The dog's excitement couldn’t be contained as we went downstairs and I explored the backyard while the coffee started to percolate. Drops of rain dangled lightly from the leaves of the new tomato plant I put in a pot Sunday afternoon. I checked for growth and swore it was bigger although there were no new branches or leaves. It certainly was standing straighter. The grass, taller from the water as well, created a perfect dewey backdrop for the tomato plant. Everything was waking up and growing. I took a few photos for the blog and considered how indulgent it is to post things about my life, especially silly moments like this one - slow, quiet and really uneventful. Intrigued by the thought, I decided this is how it should be: I SHOULD be digging my life.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Moment of Color

Provided by mountain flora found below the Maroon Bells.

Favorite Things

I realized this morning as I was feeding Ginger that I’ll never know some of her favorite things. She will never have the ability to tell me, “when you refresh my water, that is one of my favorite parts of the day.” I am a sucker for humanizing my dog - I know she'll never actually say those words although I daydream that kind of relationship with her.

In thinking through this a little deeper, I realize she does let me know when she likes things: she will go crazy, lightly howl like Chewbacca with her head pointed up if someone takes the time to scratch her bum. I won't dignify her relationship with wood and her desire to digest it like a good bone. I swear she smiles after a long run, after she has tried to down the entire contents of her water bowl, after she has strewn herself across the floor and let the water drip from her jawls, she looks at me and I notice a wide-rimmed smile forming through the space that is her heavy breathing. Her eyes glitter a bit too.

I write about favorite things because I woke up in bed this morning and soaked in the moment. The down cover lay over me barely enough to create a small opening that let cool air slid in under the blanket. It felt good, cooled my sleepy skin. The pillows were puffed up and doubled under my head like a cloud. I watched Andy get dressed for the day as I lounged in the sweet softness of it all. I thought about how simple treats can feel so good. The warmth found holding a cup filled with coffee and how some days I prefer a specific shaped cup. My preferences for these things are silly in ways and yet define me as well. It’s important to consider because the little things get me through the day. These are the things to be thankful for when there aren’t bigger fish to fry, like winning the lottery or new contracts or bigger life celebrations.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

High Five

Dreams I had the other night left me lingering in bed Tuesday morning. As I reviewed them, I enjoyed new favorite way to wake up, which is to breathe slowly and somewhat deeply through my schnoz.

The return of my nose has been bittersweet. It is both a joy and a disgrace to digest how long I have ignored my lack of smell. In my defense, it was a subtle process of slow erosion that withered my sense until one day it was more gone than there. While it has never been okay that I couldn’t use my nose properly, it more disturbing to realize I just stopped using it. I now think of it as something I let die or flounder as not being important enough to fix. Such is how I deal with medicinal interactions in my life: I wait to see if the problem will go away. Ailments fester in the background until they are so out of whack that they demand attention. I finally decided to do something about my nose because I realized I could endanger myself by not smelling things. This was after letting myself get to an almost handicapped-like status.

How could I do that to myself and my senses? It was unfair to my senses, who had to pick up the buck for lost sensing happening in the schnozal region. Reconnecting with my nose now makes me more aware of all my senses. I have just not been paying attention all these years. I have been on autopilot floating through the days. It is an awareness I have come to lately and I would be a fool not to acknowledge that one discovery was a byproduct of the other but I can’t say which came first. Definitely the experiences were a bit symbiotic but I think the day I realized I couldn’t smell gas in the house and thus needed to do something about the problem was the day I decided to take action on my nose. It was synchronistic that almost a month later (days before my allergy appointment) D came into the house as I was cooking and said it smelled like gas. I didn’t smell anything but told him that was precisely why I had finally decided to do something about my nose.

At National Jewish, I almost cried when the woman told me they would do a test to see if my vocal chords were damaged and, if so, how much. D always says to me, “I wonder how your voice would sound if your nose was fixed?” I always thought he was over-thinking the problem. During that grand appointment of allergy, etc., I downplayed my lung capacity and breathing as well. After tests the doctor said sometimes patient’s perceptions were off because they were used to the impairment. One more slap to wake me up although I still disagree with how much medication they prescribed.

After that, my realizations about living on autopilot and not taking my time to experience and taste life have come around in waves. This time though, I have my sense reminding me to pay attention. Sitting here now I realize how “itchy” my ears are and how stuffed they feel. I feel my throat and my vocal chords and after two weeks of rinsing out my nose, smell slowly is returning to my existence. I sense what I have been missing out on for a good three years definitely but if I was being honest it would probably be more like six. Six years spent with no real acknowledgement of smell; not even a whole-hearted try most of the time; just a write-off of a sense I rarely used anyway.

Then one day I realize I forgot to pack my sense of smell. I don’t’ blame smell for being mad at me. I’m trying to regrow the friendship. It’s going to take sometime and probably will never be the same but I will enjoy and relish what I can get.

Five senses and I default to sight and touch to navigate my way through life. They bring me the most joy and comfort. But then there is sound and taste and smell - interesting to think about how all three are in the same region and interwoven together. It makes me want to read A Natural History of the Senses again.

With my new found realization of the senses, I wonder if memory is not tied more directly to my use of the senses and the act of being present. I come across smells in the day and literally think to myself, “that smells like something” and then pick through my memory of things I know and match together what I am experiencing. It is a process I find myself being extremely present in because I haven’t participated in said process for a while. It is like a game of memory, turning over cards and trying to find the location of the other matching picture.

I was taking a walk in the neighborhood last night. We were almost home when we passed a house and the smell of watermelon floated to my nose. More specifically it was the smell of watermelon seeds. It was so indicative of summer and gently implored memories of barbeques and seed spitting. With that smell, I always return to Southglenn Country Club and the 4th of July activities, where they would grease up a watermelon and have kids try to get it from one end of the pool to the other. Afterwards they would wipe it off and cut it into pieces. We would have impromptu seed spitting contests in the grass. That is my biggest watermelon memory. They smell brought me back to it and it was a high point of the day. It was a simple joy, like a picked flower, that I hold on to now.