literature, time, and other thoughts

They were drawing me.  The books.

It was like my car was on autopilot– I thought I was headed to Dunn Bros, but when I drove past it, I wasn’t surprised.  Instead, I just let my car take me to Barnes and Noble.

It’s been a little while since I have been here.  Now that I have a membership and have free shipping, I’ve been buying most of my books online.  Today it wasn’t enough.  I had to be with them, surrounded by them, which is why I am drinking a banana chocolate smoothie, typing on my laptop alone, but feeling like I am in the company of friends– or future friends.

To be honest, I feel a little overwhelmed.  There are so many books I want to read, I don’t know when I’m going to find time to get to them all.  I perused the “Summer Reading” table and found more that intrigued me.  From where I sit, I can see the “New Fiction” shelves, and I wonder if I’ll ever have a book there.

I feel pulled so many ways.  I want to readreadREAD, but I am trying to balance that out with plenty of time for writing, which I love even more.  But my writing is informed and inspired by what I read, so I have to keep fueling that fire.  Those two activities alone could keep me busy until I die, I think, and yet– I have even more important things in my life than these.

People.  God.

I know everyone gets 24 hours a day, but I wish I could have more.  How am I supposed to be a loving, caring daughter and friend while working fulltime and writing a novel and feeding an obsessive reading habit– all while never neglecting my true love Jesus Christ and his church?

Praise God that OCD is no longer demanding so much of my attention.  How did I manage?  It feels like a different lifetime.

And yet, I have friends who do all this and take care of a spouse and children.  It boggles my mind.

I want my life to matter, want to leave a mark.  It seems difficult to do when my interests are so spread– I worry that my efforts in each area will be lacking because I didn’t have enough time invested into each one.

I think that one of the reasons I decided to keep a list of books I have read and reviewed (click THE READER tab above) was to try to organize at least one part of my life.  When I sit here in the bookstore, surrounded by all this brilliance, I know that there will be corners I never explore.  Somehow maybe this will help me keep better control of the labyrinth I’m in.

And what a beautiful labyrinth.

triple bypass

It’s been almost one year since my dad underwent triple bypass surgery.  Just this weekend, we were reminiscing, saying, “Remember what June was like last year?”  Oh man.  It was not an easy month.  Or summer.

But the surgery was the worst part.

The evening before, people from church had joined our family in the hospital to pray for a successful surgery.  It was so strange to be gathered there, Dad perfectly normal, in good spirits although nervous, and thinking, Tomorrow our world could change.  We knew that Dad needed the surgery; but it is a terrifying thing to undergo.

Dad stayed alone in the hospital that night, but we were back at 5:30 in the morning, saying goodbye and that we’d see him after surgery.  Mom went with him into the OR.  Kristin fell apart as they wheeled him away; I did too (but not as much as Kristin– she’s the over-reactor of the family.  For example, when she learned Dad needed surgery, she cried and said, “I don’t even know what songs to have at his funeral!!!”  Oh Kristin.).  Kevin was pretty well put together.

 

Mom came back to the waiting room in a while (it was a nice waiting room, and we had a private area of it!), and then the waiting game started.  There was a computer, so you could see what part of the surgery they were doing at which time.  Eventually the nurse came in and told us that he was on bypass now.

Do you know what that means?  I didn’t.  It meant that my dad’s heart was not beating but that a machine was doing that work for him while they operated.  It struck me then how crazy this surgery was.

It was a long day.  A long wait.  We were all on edge.

But he came out of it just fine, and when we went to see him in the ICU, I saw him lying there, swollen, ashen, chest tubes coming out of him, draining blood, and I about passed out.  Was not expecting that.

He had a marvelous recovery.  It was tough on him and on my mom, but they did it together, and they are both rockstars.  After you have heart surgery, you have a lot you need to cough up, but they break your sternum for the surgery, so it HURTS.  A LOT.  My poor daddy was in so much pain.  The nurse said the more he walked, the better he would feel.  At first, Dad’s walks were from the family room, into the kitchen, and around the table.  Just that would completely exhaust him.  But he kept working on it because he’s dynamite.

And six months later, we were on rides at Disney World!!!!  Oh, and P.S. I could not keep up with my dad.

my family

I realize that I am incredibly blessed to be a Sommers girl.  I was born into an incredible family and, although it is not perfect, it is a forgiving and laidback and hilarious and interesting one.

My dad Tom is the Stat Man.  You would be shocked at how much information he can store in his head– it’s crazy.  He can literally memorize an entire Tuff Stuff guide, which should give you a clue to his hobby.  He collects sports cards, and his collection is really impressive.  Dad is the cutest man in the world, and everyone who knows him knows that if you get him talking about baseball cards, you’re in for a long conversation.  Even though I don’t personally have an interest in collecting cards, I enjoy hearing about my dad’s because of the way he lights up when discussing it.  It is the sweetest thing.  He loves our family so much, and he’s such a strong leader, and he’s so generous and SMART.

My mom Ronda is the best mom in the world.  She has just the right amount of– what’s the word?– butting in and backing off (although I think both my siblings would say she butts in too much, haha!).  I LOVE how laidback she is.  She is sooooooooo funny, and she’s so dedicated, and she loves the Lord so deeply and cares about us kids so much.

My sister Kristin is the queen of traditions.  Every holiday, she wants us to do exactly what we did the year before.  She has this incredible laugh that goes so wild that it actually is silent for awhile.  Kristin loves to read, and FINALLY, after YEARS of good suggestions, she is starting to trust my book advice.  I suggest a book or movie; she scoffs at it; then she reads or watches it and loves it; repeat.  Silly girl.

My brother Kevin is the charmer of our family.  He loves sports and people and is one of the most outgoing people I know!  Pretty much everyone loves Kevin.  He’s a solid, solid guy.  It’s been so fun to watch him mature over the years, and we are all missing him this summer while he works on the roads out near the North Dakota oil rigs.  He is SUCH a hard worker, and I admire him so much.

When we get together, our family usually ends up playing cards or singing raucous songs (or both).  We love to pick on each other, and we are really, really LOUD.  We all share a deep love for Jesus Christ, and that ties us together even more than our blood and our years of living together.  I have this memory from about five years ago: it was around Christmastime, and the five of us were driving around our little part of central Minnesota, looking at Christmas lights, and we had a soundtrack to a passion play on in the background.  Before long, we were all singing these songs about Christ’s death and resurrection, and I looked around at my family and thought, “This is special.  We all love God, and that doesn’t happen all the time.”

 

I love them.  Tomorrow I’m going to tell you about a tough time we went through together last summer.

An old one of us reading the Christmas story with Dad

Meet my sister Kristin!

On November 23, 1984, I met a girl who would become one of my best friends.  Her name was Kristin Ann, but I wanted to call her Tustin, who was the boy who lived across the street from my aunt and uncle’s house.

Kristin was three years younger than me, an age gap that didn’t always bode so well for us while we were growing up.  We fought a fair amount (although not as much as Kristin and our brother Kevin did!), and she always felt left out.  I have these hilarious memories of her– I would get to stay up/out later than she did, and when my dad and I would drive down the driveway, Kristin would be waiting up for me, staring out the window.  Dad would get mad because she was supposed to be asleep, but how funny and pathetic is that image?  Little sister waiting up for big sister to come back home!

We shared a room from the time she was three until I graduated from high school.  We have so many RIDICULOUS memories of this– from the way we would decorate our room (her half was Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls and Taylor Hanson posters; mine was devoted strictly to Zac Hanson), how it would get so messy that we’d get in BIG trouble with the parents, how we’d read by the “amber light” coming in through the window after our lights were off (it never occurred to us to turn the light back on at that age), playing Princess Pat while dangling upside down from our beds, and when we were older, having Kevin tantrum every night, “TURN THE LIGHT OFF!!!!”

Now that we are older, we get along GREAT!  She is one of my favorite people– so loving and caring, so FUNNY, and my prayer warrior!  She loves God and books and family time.  Kristin is the one who will always instigate, “Let’s go around the table and say something nice about one another,” which has become a family tradition.  Speaking of traditions, the girl holds to them like the world will end if we don’t do our EXACT ROUTINE every holiday.  She is a delight, and I absolutely adore her.

Happy 32nd anniversary to my parents!

After reading this post, some of you will be envious of me.  And perhaps you should be.

You see, I happen to have the most wonderful parents in the whole world.

Tom Sommers: my crazy, sometimes spacey dad who loves Jesus, my mom, his kids, Disney World, the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR racing, his sports card collection, long walks, his lovely little hometown, and a horse named Secretariat.  My dad is one of the most generous people I have ever met, and I love to watch the efforts he puts into making people’s day … especially when there are kids involved!  I have learned so much from this man, and I am so proud to call him Dad!

Ronda Sommers: my crazy, high-energy mom who loves Jesus, my dad, her kids, exercise, Junior Mints, her kindergarteners, the Kimball Church of Christ, anything crafty, SAVERS, and Sgt. Anderson from Tour of Duty.  My mom is lovely, really, truly lovely, and she’s one of my best friends.  I can tell her anything.  She is a prayer warrior.

And they are both hilarious to boot.

I know that these days most people can’t boast about their parents’ marriage, but I can honestly say that these two have an incredible marriage and a wonderful friendship.  They have given me and my siblings an incredible example of what it is like to be committed to each other and to choose love every day.  I can honestly see that each year they love each other more than the last.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for your commitment to each other and to keeping God at the center of your marriage.  Congrats on 32 years together … here’s to the next 32! 🙂