Life Topics

What I Know

They say write about what you know.  I don’t know what I know.  I guess I can do laundry, fly an excel sheet, take care of a dog, raise two children, chew gum and walk, give up smoking, take up vaping, kill a bottle of wine, knit a sweater, take out the trash (if I have to), almost balance a check book, recite lines from a movie, walk like a chicken, sing badly, play solitaire, half read a book, edit video, send an email and attempt to “dress for success” (not usually done well).  Are any of these things worth writing about?

Instead, I sit at the keyboard trying to dream up an interesting topic.  Find one thing that makes you want to keep reading.  Are you still with me?  Good.  I’ll take baby steps to figure out where I’m going with this.  Kick around a few ideas.  Do you want to see me walk like a chicken?  Probably not.  Can I interest you in a spreadsheet demo?  No.  Maybe some dog tricks?  I’m at a loss, as I fidget and scratch my back with a pencil, wondering what to put on this blank screen.

Here I sit in the glow of the computer.  The 11 o’clock news is on in the background, with the dramatic music to make everything seem urgent.  The dog lies at my feet, breathing heavy, ready for bed.  My laundry basket sits in a dim corner of the bathroom, overflowing with a hint of yesterday’s odors.  I take deep drags from the vape blowing out stress and anxiety, thinking about what needs to be done tomorrow.  I know, I’ll make a list, YES a list!

Not like a “bucket list”, but much simpler.  You know, take notice of how I do things, and try not to do them anymore.  Live in the moment as they say.  Do all the usual stuff, but do it differently, better.  I will think of it as a “don’t” list.

Here goes:

  1. Wake up and don’t dread the morning.
  2. Take a shower and don’t curse your body in the mirror.
  3. Have breakfast, and don’t forget the medication.
  4. Go to mass and don’t fall asleep during the sermon.
  5. Say “I love you” and don’t just walk away, hold his eyes.
  6. Walk the dog and don’t forget the poop bag.
  7. Do the laundry and don’t leave a load in the dryer to pick thru all week.
  8. Call your parents and don’t cry when you hang up because they are so old.
  9. Text your sons just because and don’t forget the little hearts after you say ILY.
  10. Watch a documentary and don’t judge the hoarder, the family or the victim.
  11. Talk to the neighbor and don’t just give a small wave.
  12. Eat the ice cream and don’t feel guilty.
  13. Knit that sweater you’ve been working on for 2 years, and don’t get discouraged.
  14. Work on the computer and don’t lose track of precious time you could have with Jamie.
  15. Say your prayers and don’t leave anyone out.

My eyes are drooping so I have to go to bed now.  This life of mine, like most, is made up of small pieces that have made me the person I have become.  Sure, I can walk like a chicken and work a spreadsheet, but how can I be a better friend, daughter, Mom?  More important questions.  Will people think of me as negative if I feel guilty about the ice cream or too busy to talk to a neighbor, or have a bad body image?  Maybe they won’t even notice.

I finally know that I have to work my “list” in a positive, thoughtful way to make my journey one of love, generosity and faith.

“Time for bed McDermott.  Do you want a treat?”

Life Topics

Perhaps

I fancy myself a wine enthusiast, a drinker, a partaker if you will.  Yes, I drink to an uncertain excess if the truth be told, but just shy of drunkenness.  I hate to be drunk and avoid it at most costs, but it happens on occasion regretfully.  I come from a family of non-drinkers, so I’m the unnamed black sheep. I usually sit with my family drinking wine, while they have their tea.  Eyebrows are raised, silence ensues as I pour my first glass.   My wine bottle gets cracked open at cocktail hour like clockwork.  Six o’clock on Thursday and Friday, if I’m not working that night, and 4 or 5 o’clock on the weekend days. I have my standards.   I try not to drink during the week, but Thursday is close enough to the weekend to count.

“Are you a wino” my mother asks with an accusatory tone, as I stand in her kitchen.  My only response is simple and quiet, “Perhaps I am mother.  Perhaps I am.”  What can I say?!?  “Yes mother, I drink to make you miserable” is what she may want to hear, but it’s not true.  I drink because I enjoy it.  I like the taste, the smell, the feeling.  I think she envisions me as the loveable “wino” character Otis in the Andy Griffith Show; disheveled, falling down, slurring words – a person to be embarrassed of.  I think it’s the idea that her daughter could be “a drunk” that really disturbs her.  I am nothing of the sort.

Most of my friends end their day with a wine or two.  I have no judgement.  However, I found a few years ago, that drinking wine during the week effected my ability to concentrate and focus the next day.  So, I changed it up and only drinking on weekends, with the exception of special occasions, holidays and vacations.  Sipping wine while I knit, watch TV or chat with a friend is a great pleasure.  I am relaxed and happy to share my time and my life.

I write this after having a bottle of wine, no effects of a wine stupor.  I am not drunk.  Why is there such a stigma around enjoying wine or alcohol?  Why must I justify my actions to those who do not like alcohol or those who don’t drink it?  Explaining why I drink wine reeks of insecurity and self-doubt.  I can’t do that.   Is it not possible to partake without being seen as having a “problem?”  I think so.  But, for many, the perception is that one drink is too much.  Is one cookie too much, is one bowl of ice cream too much?  Where are these invisible standards that we must adhere to?  Who makes up the rules?

People know what works for them, so let’s live and let live.   Perhaps we should.

Cheers.

Jo McLaughlin

Jo is a media professional working in Massachusetts. She is the founder of Dilettante life, and the co-host of the podcast Dipstitch (dipstitch.net, available on Spotify and Apple podcasts). She enjoys writing for Dilettante Life observing life and sharing experiences.

Life Topics

Knit Sip Knit

I’ve taken up knitting as a hobby to pass time and as a mode of meditation.  I often call knitting “mind numbing.”   It’s the kind of feeling  I need at the end of a long day, like wiping the slate clean. I pair my love of knitting with my
enthusiasm for wine.  I should clarify that my enjoyment of drink trumps my hobby, but when joined together, I really get “in the zone”.

So, knit one, perl two, sip three and so on.  I love the look and feel of the yarn and like feeling the cables as they take form.   The twists manipulate the body of work, while providing me with visual confirmation that I haven’t screwed up.   I count stitches, I pull the yarn from the ball when it gets taught, and I take a drink after every fourth or fifth row.  I knit fast.  The wine tastes as good as the yarn feels.  Each sip is like a reward for a job well done.

Sometimes I lose count of stitches, swear, and just pick up hoping I haven’t caused a crafty disaster. Time for another sip.  I am a beginner so there is no end to the scarf and hat parade that I’ve created.  I tried a sweater once, and ended up with sleeves fit for Popeye.  However, I am not discouraged.  I will re-try the sweater thing, just after I finish my latest scarf.

In truth, I don’t know which activity I like more, so I combine both.  I get as excited to buy yarn as I do buying a bottle of my favorite wine.   It may sound like more of an addition than hobby, but I am in complete denial.  Knitting is a reason to sip, sipping is a reason to knit.  I keep my hands busy and my mind clear.  Stress melts away with each click of the needles crossing each other.

The slate is clean.