Work And Play

Written January 24, 2014

My husband is at Sundance.  The Film Festival.  He goes most years, with friends from our L.A. days – guys who are involved in “the industry” one way or another, but more importantly are fun to hang out with.  I used to get mad when he would leave for this yearly “work trip,” as it felt less like work and more like an excuse to watch a ton of movies and go out for dinner and beers every night.  And it almost always meant he was away for my birthday.  And I was jealous.

But this year I’m ecstatic for him.  Because he’s getting a break from work work, while diving into the work he really needs to be doing – feeding his movie-loving soul, getting inspiration, remembering why he loves his profession.  Sometimes I wish my job of mom involved movies and beer rather than poopy diapers and snack-making, but I really can’t fault him for having a cool career.

Or rather I can, and I have, but it does no one any good.

Neither has it worked for him to defend the super-fun work trip as serious business.

Really, we need to let it be what it is: a trip for work AND play.  I’m not sure why we both tried to make it one or the other.  Maybe now that he’s 40, and I’m nearly there, we’re understanding the importance of their coexistence.

I would hope being a mom is both.  It should be.  It may not involve as much beer as movie-making does, but it involves lots of smooches and giggles and kitchen dance parties.  I’ll just aim for more of those.

There should be fun in being a filmmaker, or a teacher, doctor, missionary, even a garbage man.  Otherwise life is boring, to say it plainly.  And I’m against boring.  I’m for fun.

So have fun, Marc!  I’ll try to have fun here at home, too.

Everything About It

It starts with a rhythm that sounds like a heartbeat. And warm, round chords that swirl around the slow pulsing. It talks about trying to write a song and escaping into the imagination for ideas.

And then the details come. Describing life in snapshots, interchanging eloquent and perfectly simple words.  Golden clouds shuffling the sunshine, a birthday party, frost creeping over a pond.

Honestly, I canʼt always tell what Paul Simon means in his songs, but I like the challenge of trying to solve the puzzle. Heʼs much smarter than me. But if I pay attention I know what his songs mean to me, and thatʼs enough.

This one seems a bit easier to understand than others, but the more I listen, the deeper it feels.  Everything about it is a love song – a line from the song, and itʼs title.  If you listen to the rest, it’s clear (to me) he’s saying every bit of life is a wondrous thing.  Sad, happy, emotional, deep, full of pain and joy and lovely detail.  Like a love song.  The mundane, the special moments, the fact that we screw up and have to say we’re sorry – added up and jumbled together itʼs a beautiful mess. When you get outside of yourself and look at living from a distance, you can see the big picture.

It reminds me of the movie Gravity.  George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are stranded in space, and the view of the earth that director Alfonso Cuaron digitally creates is breathtaking. Watching it, I wished I could do that.  Not be stranded, but see our planet and the cosmos from that vantage point. From there you see the broad strokes of color, darkness and light, swirls of clouds that cover whole continents. You see mathematical accuracy, the structure of atoms, the Periodic Table of Elements, the laws of physics played out with brilliance before you.  Added together, equaling Earth. The picture made when millions of details combine to make a whole.  You see your smallness.  And instead of it being scary or making life seem insignificant, it leaves you speechless, in happy awe.  Because your’e witnessing a moving, living piece of art.  Like something created with purposeful hands.  Like a love song.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the song begins with a heartbeat.  The sound of life pulsing beneath the chords of the guitar.  Paul Simon gets up close and examines the trees, steps away and sees the forest, and can somehow express them both in his lyrics.  What a gift.  I’m thankful for this song, reminding me of the work of art laid out before me each day.

And everything about it is a love song.

Everything about it.

Everything about it is a love song.

Everything about it.

Everything about it is a love song.


The Real Update

I bought myself a christmas card mobile this year, and I adore it.  It’s designed well, it looks pretty, and it lets me see the people I love (especially those who live far away) with a mere glance upward.  Some of those cards come with a letter, catching friends and family up on the accomplishments, the vacations, the births and birthdays of family.  I used to write one of those myself.  These days I opt for a (much easier) photo card, but if I were to revisit the annual letter, I might come at it from a new angle: the stuff that made the year memorable, whether happy or sad, funny or awful, flattering or completely embarrassing.  To give an accurate account, a real update on the lives of the Havener family.

Here’s a rough draft:

2013 started out pretty sad.  I was depressed.  Just bummed in general, and it took a while to shake it.  Februrary was pretty darn awful, as seems to always happen.  But spring brought some much-needed sun and that helped.  

We went to Florida for vacation which rocked – white sand beaches, lots of ice cream, swimming and making sand castles and family bonding.  Lily had a fit that lasted 45 minutes our last day there, which sucked, but other than that it was pretty great.  

The summer was full of kids going to camps, time at the pool, everyone driving everyone else crazy, looking for a house, and our best family friends moving away.  That was supremely hard.  But August brought a trip to San Francisco and a new house, so that helped.  

The fall was all about negotiating over the new house, selling our house, planning to move, making Halloween costumes, packing, moving and being a pretty sub-par mom through it all.   

Moving was AWFUL.  But we love our new house and are so thankful we’re here.  

To round out the year we had a trip to Nebraska for Thanksgiving; celebrated Luke’s birthday with a lego cake that Mae poked holes all over just before the party; got to see my brother, sister-in-law and cutie pie nieces; had a sewage back-up in the basement; cleaned that up for a week, had lots of good family time for Christmas (and hosted in our new house!), had a dinner party for Marc’s 40th, saw the friends who moved for New Year’s, and took three-hour naps the day after it all ended to recuperate.  

It was crazy, fun, hard, exciting and full of life lived together.  It wasn’t perfect, but I’ll take it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  May your days be merry and bright and without raw sewage in the basement. 


The Haveners


It’s Something

So this is the new year

And I don’t feel any different

As I sat down to write today, these words from Death Cab for Cutie’s song The New Year came to mind.  Irony and cynicism abound in the first song on their Transatlaticism album (a personal favorite).  They do in most Death Cab songs.  But I love their music all the same.  I don’t share the band’s outlook on life, but they describe it with such poetry and somehow evoke happiness and sadness within the same notes and melodies.  Quite a feat.  But I digress, the point is that this song got me thinking.  Made me ask myself whether I agree.  It’s the new year.  Do I feel any different?

Not really.  But why?  Is it because I haven’t had time to consider the whole “another year is gone, a new one has begun” thing? Because the holidays were nuts, and New Year’s came and went with a blur of food-preparation and people-hosting?  Because all I could muster the day after celebrating the 1st was a three-hour nap?  Maybe so.

So this is the new year

And I have no resolutions

For self assigned pennance

For problems with easy solutions

I made no resolutions this time.  I don’t often like to, because I hate to say I’m going to do something and then not do it.  I hate that sense of failure, of being a flake, of my word not meaning a thing.  So I only make them if I mean it.  If I think it’s reasonable and probable with some effort.  Which means I don’t make many.  But I usually at least think about making them.  I do a little self-evaluation and consider what I could work on in life.  I decide what steps i could take, and weigh whether I would actually take them.  And I come up with something.

For me, though, unlike Ben Gibbard, I don’t think of it as pennance.  No one is making me do it.  I don’t think it’s anything as dark as paying for past mistakes.  For me it’s just thinking about how to make myself, and by extension those around me, happier, less stressed, more involved in living life well.  What the heck is wrong with that?  Not all problems have easy solutions, but there’s always something you can do to make things better, even in tiny increments.  Or at least make a go at it.  Any endeavor in life takes evaluation – running a business, child-rearing, marriage – to see what’s working, what’s not, how things could improve.  Seems like one’s entire life could use the same.  It’s just logical, really.  And I’m a fan of logic.

So I’m going to make some time this week to think.  I’m going to carve out a bit of quiet for some introspection, now that things have slowed down.  To see what needs tending to.  What’s working great.  Who and how I can love a little better.  For now I resolve to decide what to resolve.  That’s as far as I’ve gotten in 2014, but it’s something.