Autumn Sunday


Monday, May 24, 2010

There's a Certain Slant of Light...

Okay, so a couple of weeks ago, I was depressed, real depressed. Like, the kind-of depressed where you feel like nothing will ever be right ever again. The kind-of depressed where you feel like you spend the whole day trying not to cry. The kind-of depressed where you feel like you are in the middle of the sea, trying to stay afloat but are being slowly dragged under in spite of your struggle to keep your head above water.

I didn't want to be depressed... really, who wants to feel depressed? But I felt I had reason to be depressed... I mean I had left the home I loved, an awesome family, a great church, not to mention that I was exhausted, had a baby nursing 24/7, and a body that had undergone some huge changes in the last couple of years.

I mean, on the flip side, I had a lot to be grateful for. I could count my blessings-- present tense: I have an awesome husband, two beautiful, healthy children, a nice, new home, a roof over my head, and no huge financial burdens... the list could go on.

But, Emily Dickinson's poem "There's a Certain Slant of Light" articulates depression better than I can, so take a second and read it... and try to grasp the meaning of it... if you dare...

"There's a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons
That oppresses, like the heft
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings, are.

None may teach it anything,
'T is the seal, despair,
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, 't is like the distance
On the look of death."

This poem is all too familiar to anyone who has ever been afflicted with depression. When it comes, "shadows hold their breath" and when it goes, one feels forever altered.

For me, the depression came as soon I left San Antonio. I knew that it would. San Antonio was like a vacation, and Little Rock was my new life. When I arrived, the base seemed lonely, empty. The houses on our street were empty. I kept looking out my window, tired, lonely, and hoping that things would change, and quickly. I felt like my life was a giant snow globe machine... shook up for months on end and now settling in a landscape that looked entirely different... not to mention the adjustment to having two children instead of one (for me, a huge adjustment).

A few weeks later, I feel different-- like I was rescued quickly from the pain that depression, loneliness, and isolation can bring. Just in two weeks time, I have made friends. Oddly, some of these girls feel like they have been my friends forever. My neighbor down the street is working out with me everyday. Tommy and I found a nice little church this weekend, and had lunch with some pretty awesome Air Force officers afterward. We barbecued with these friends last week, and we are again this coming Saturday. Feeling like I have found friends certainly helps the depression.

I am hoping I am "out of the woods"-- the pieces of my life are falling into place more quickly than I had imagined. But I loved Lexington, and grieving takes time. When a door closes, before a window can open, there is the space in between that is uncomfortable, depressing and deeply lonely. I felt it after college. I felt it after high school, and so I feel it now... like a question mark thrown out into the wind, awaiting an answer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Moving to a different region of the United States is always a lesson in cultural difference, but stranger still, is the adjustment to vastly different weather patterns...

Growing up in Colorado, I was accustomed to huge snowstorms in October, and failed spring vacations because of snow piled so high we couldn't even exit our street, and the ever persistent snow in May. Snow storms are always fun-- they stop the normal patterns of life and remind us "who is really boss." But I must admit that Colorado's May snowstorms grew irksome after awhile. I grew tired of snow in May, when the rest of the world was enjoying spring weather: new flowers, budding trees, and fresh spring rains.

I was glad to move, then, to Kentucky to experience a true spring... baby horses on every farm, rolling hills the most brilliant shade of green, and the smell of lilacs and cherry blossoms on the most beautiful old streets. I miss Kentucky springs.

Now that I am in Arkansas, I am experiencing a whole new kind-of spring. I try to run every evening here, and my most common path takes me around the cutest little lake and up a beautiful path through the forest where I have seen two cotton tailed rabbits, various birds, and some rather boisterous squirrels. The path is laced with the most aromatic honeysuckle I have ever smelled, and my eyes wander up to a huge tall canopy of trees, the sun glinting through the pine, maple, and cherry trees.

But as much as I enjoy the beauty of this place, I wasn't prepared for the amount of tornadoes that seem to strike the surrounding area almost bi-weekly. The first weekend we were here, Tommy and I spent our days moving and our evenings dragging our tousle haired two year old and baby in and out of the shelter under our stairs. Normally, I wouldn't necessarily even be aware of a tornado approaching in the middle of the night, but here, on the military base, the command post bellows a loud tornado signal, and warns us to "find shelter immediately." Supposedly, a family of six had their base home torn apart by a tornado three weeks ago. The knowledge that they were safe simply because they had taken cover, has me making sure to heed caution with each and every tornado warning-- 8 warnings in all since we've been here. The warning last night had Tommy and I out of bed at 3:45am, dragging the kids and the dog, again, to the shelter under our stairs.

I guess every area has its weather ups and downs. In Kentucky, it was dramatic freezing ice, crystallizing the trees and streets in the most beautiful display of crystal prisms I have ever seen. The downside to the beauty was that trees toppled over under the sheer weight of the ice, smashing into homes and breaking power lines-- a fearsome display of might. Here, the storms come often, smacking our home with rain and lightning storms. But the tornadoes are something I have never experienced to this degree. They come without warning, in the middle of the day when the kids are napping, in the middle of the night when we are sleeping, and once when we were on a walk. We were playing at the park, and within minutes, the command post issued a warning to take cover. We ran home with the kids and spent the rest of the evening in and out of shelter. There were 20 tornadoes in the area that evening. All of this takes some getting used to for us. We were accustomed to Kentucky's weather, but this is all new and more than a little weird.

Well, I think I'll sign-out now... I need the extra sleep since I was up part of the night.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Living, the "Air Force Way"

Living on a military base is very interesting indeed! We have finally moved into our home on base... a brand new base home that we will live in for at least two more years until we move overseas.

So far, I am amused by all that living on a base entails. First, Taps go off at 7 am every morning, waking my two year old almost an hour and a half earlier that he normally does (pre-Air Force). Then at 4:30 every day, when the work day ends for most shift workers, The National Anthem begins to play and everyone on the base stops, places their hand over their hearts (if a civilian) or stands at attention, and begins to sing the national anthem. Even people driving on base stop their cars to acknowledge the anthem. And in the evening, at 8:00, another song plays alerting people that the lights are out, and it is time to think about going to bed.

Not being a soldier, but rather a mother, some of this kind-of annoys me. The alarm testing goes off right during nap time every Wednesday. And then there are constant weather alerts over the loud speakers. All of this really helps me understand that this is "the military" and they have a system that is ready for any kind-of threat.

On the other hand, I do feel safe. I feel like I am protected from even ominous weather threats. Even if there is nothing I can do, at least I know what is going on. And the national anthem going off every day. Well, it is kind-of like saying The Pledge of Allegiance in elementary school everyday. It sort-of gets my patriotic blood flowing again... sort-of reminds me of the feeling of singing "America, the Beautiful" when I was little and being so proud that I live in this country.

I am finding that all of the years of liberal arts educated cynicism is kind-of fading out of me a little bit. I am watching the John Adams series from HBO and loving it. And although I don't think I will ever appreciate the 7am "wake-up happy campers" song ever, I am getting a little more used to all of this... I think.