Archive for the 'Life Uncomplicated' Category

31
Dec
09

Beginning…Again

Son eyes me warily but with a twinkle in his eye.  We’re in a standoff, him on one side of the table, me on the other.  Whenever I move, he moves in the opposite direction.  His 37 pounds is lightning fast and I’m gasping for breath, but I haven’t caught him yet.  I ignore the ragged sound and inch a little to my right.  He inches to his right, and we move in circles.  Daughter stands at the room entrance and screeches with glee.  She’s next.

There! His eyes shifted just a little in her direction.  He looks to be planning to dart out the door.  I wait, my fingers splayed and my stance ready for whichever direction he chooses.  He bolts.  Damn, he’s fast.  He squeezes past his sister and into the living room, me hot on his heels as I pursue.  He screeches a laugh of his own.  “You can’t get me,” he taunts.  He’s probably right, but for the fact that I can out think him, which won’t always be the case.  I lunge.  Grab.  Snag his shirt.  He’s off balance, and I take that second to regain my own balance and close the distance.  Yes!  I’ve got him! 

I pin him to the floor, hold his hand high above his head, exposing his tender underarm, and wiggle my finger in there until he’s crying with laughter, begging to be let up, promising the world just for a little tickle relief.  Daughter has climbed on my back, showing her brother that she will stand in solidarity with me, protecting him regardless of the cost to her physically.  I concede to his promises of early bedtime and eating his veggies after I feel I’ve gotten enough childhood belly laughter to recharge my own batteries, and I let him up.  Gently, I peel Daughter from my back so I don’t conk her on the head or set her down too far from a soft landing.  I lay back.  I breathe, in and out.  I’m sucking wind, cannot breathe, my throat on fire and I need some water pronto.  I groan, roll over, get to my knees, brace my hands on the couch and heave.

When did it get so hard to get up from the floor?  When did it get so hard to have a tickle fight with my kid?  When did I get so out of shape?  When did Orville Redenbacher move into my joints, making them pop pop pop popopopopopoPOPOPOPOPOPOPOPOP when I stretch or exert?  Nasty squatter. 

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“McDonald’s! I wanna go to McDonald’s for dinner!”  This from the backseat as we pass the Golden Arches while we’re out and about.  We look at the time.  We know that our errands will take us through the time we’d normally be cooking something, so a home prepared meal means not eating until after 8 pm.  We look at each other.  We don’t want McD’s again.  We’re sick of McD’s.  Daughter chimes in, “Frrrrriiiiiiiieeeeeessss.”

Great.  She has a total lexicon of about 10 words, and one of them is fries.  Might as well not worry about her saying ‘shit’ or ‘douche canoe’ too.  Perhaps we can get her a carton of cigarrettes for her birthday on Sunday and teach her how to flick a Bic while we’re at it.  After all, while fries aren’t necessarily carcinogenic, they are in no way a healthy thing to eat.  What are we teaching our kids?

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I sit at my desk, feet propped up on my CPU.  I stare blankly at the report I’m looking at.  The same report I’ve done every month for 8 years and three months.  That’s 12 times a year, 8 years, 96 times, plus 3 months, 99 times I’ve done the same report.  I’m the only one in my department who can do the report with any consistency.  It is the reason I have a job, and also the reason I was given a good raise a couple years ago, moreso than average anyway.  But god, if the procedure hasn’t become boring.  What’s so fulfilling about telling a man who inherited millions and a company and didn’t spend one hour in college how much richer he’s gotten that month when, after nearly 10 years, I’m still trying to pay college off?  I curse my mother for not marrying a wealthy business owner.  Then I think of my father, a lawyer and a good man, oxymoron like Captain Jack Sparrow .  He used to take all kinds of payments, knowing his clients couldn’t always afford cash money.  He’s received cookware, a boat, a car, stocks, and all manner of bartered items.  He’s gone to visit clients in the hospital because in their divorce, they’ve alienated everyone they know and he’s the only friendly face they have left.  He’s waived fees for those who truly can’t pay.  He loans his personal vehicles to clients who have no other means to travel when their only living relatives are out of state.  I don’t know that I would trade my dad for a bank account.  But I realize as I sit counting my beans/inventory/standards and variances that I am just a cog in a wealthy man’s grandfather clock, and not a very important one at that.  Except for this report, which honestly, doesn’t move me.  I open the file, save as a new month and begin the report again for the hundredth time.  And daydream of one day finding a purpose to my career beyond making the rich get richer.

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My alarm blares.  I groan and squint.  5:00 am.  I roll over and sleep for nine more minutes.  It blares again.  Snooze.  Snooze.  Snooze.  Finally, Mike nudges me about getting up since he doesn’t have to get up until 7, when I’m herding the kids out the door.  He used to snooze for an hour (using the same alarm I do, so I’d be the one hitting his snooze.  For years this went on.  I see nothing wrong with a little payback now that he gets to sleep a little later before anyone judges harshly.)  Finally, at 6 I drag my butt out of bed.  My limbs feel utterly incapable of propelling me through the next hour, let alone the day.  It’s only when the spray from the shower hits my face that I truly begin to wake.  Why am I so tired all the time?  I scrutinize myself cruelly in the mirror.  Never did lose that baby weight, but who’m I kidding?  I was this weight before I had my kids.

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I sit on the floor, my face puffy and swollen, my nose completely clogged.  I cannot talk without a nasally tone, making my words sound more pathetic to my ears.  Mike sits on the bed, his arms crossed, his body half turned away from me.  Look at him, I think.  He couldn’t be more obvious about not wanting to be near me now.  We’ve spat words at each other with such venom and anger that someting inside me broke, releasing a flood of tears.  This isn’t the life I thought I’d have.  This isn’t what I want for myself, and by extension, my family.  His words, “You’re mad all the time,” echo in my head.  I’m miserable.  I can barely drag myself out of bed in the mornings.  I hate my job.  I have a coworker that hates my guts and the feeling is mutual.  But The Crazy sits next to me and the tension wraps itself around me like a slanket/snuggie, making me grumble at the stupidity of the entire situation and I would like to stand up and shout that I’m not this person I’m accused of being.  But much like the stupidity of the slanket, it’s viral and spreading, and I can only ride it out and choose to ignore it while I continue on with my day.  By the time I get home, I’m such a miserable wreck that I snap at my kids.  I snap at my husband.  I make everyone feel as miserable as I am.  I am dragging everything down.  I can’t keep up with my kids when I do find the time/energy to play with them.  I sniffed at my clogged nose, pleaded with Mike not to pack a bag and leave for a few days to let things cool down.  I opened my chest, ripped out my heart, and handed it to him again.  I promised that with understanding of my emotions and what they were doing to me and those around me can come change.  I promised him I would not live a miserable life.  He stayed.

All of this began in October with a crashing realization that this horribleness was avoidable.  There were some financial implications for us that brought everything to a head, ripped the scabs we’d built up over and over off and forced us to take a true look at ourselves, our lives together, and our future.  Mine felt so bleak and awful that I well and truly, for the first time ever, felt hatred for myself and what I’ve let myself become.  They say everyone has a rock bottom.  I hit mine.

With this opening up of long mistreated wounds, I started takin a deeper look at things.  One of the biggest reasons I’m so off the charts miserable all the time is my job.  I looked into going back to school.  I looked at what the local area colleges have to offer and what I might be interested in pursuing.  As I realized that I’d be going back into serious debt and wouldn’t emerge with a new degree for many years, it occurred to me that at this point in our  financial lives, we cannot afford for me to return to school.  I know there are programs, grants, aid that we could get, but frankly, admitting I want to change careers is hard enough, and I don’t want to rush into a new career without truly wanting to study and love it.  I have more soul searching to do to find what I wanna be when I grow up.

The next big thing making me miserable is my health.  If I can improve my health, perhaps my job and career choice won’t seem like such a death sentence to me.  Perhaps if other aspects of my life are improved, I will be able to appreciate the stability of my job and not let the drudgery bog me down.  After all, I bet insurance agents, or house painters, or assembly line workers aren’t all passionate about what they do 100% of the time.  And yet there is pride to be had there too. 

So that’s what’s on my plate.  I’ve already written about eating in a more environmentally sustainable manner.  What I’ve only briefly touched on is that I’ve started running.  On a treadmill.  No one’s chasing me.  No one’s holding’ a gun to my head and saying if I don’t run this mile and a half they’ll filet my dog.  I’m voluntarily getting off my ass and getting some exercise.  It’s slow going.  I think I might have the start of shin splints.  Maybe I have the wrong shoes.  I’ve found some kickass running music (but hey, I’ll take any suggestions anyone might have)!  I’m learning.  I’m actually thinking of running a 5K.  I wanted to last year but slacked off after a couple weeks on the treadmill.  I don’t know if I’ve lost any weight.  In the past, I’ve become a slave to the scale and so this time, I’m not letting anythin deter me.  Weirdly, I’m liking running enough that the point of it (to lose weight) has changed some, so that I can get fit, and accomplish something.  Tell my brain to stfu when it scoffs and says I can’t run that much.  Well, 2010 is coming.  And instead of resolutions which I’ve failed at many many times, I’m just making choices.  What would I have done before?  Is that going to help me change my health?  Is that going to help me change my job?  Is that going to help me change my outlook?

This time, I’m choosing to be better.  Here’s to a new year.

11
Nov
09

Metamorphosis

Life nearly changed drastically for me a couple weekends ago.  My husband, whom I love and loves me with every fiber of our collective being, nearly left me for a couple days.  We were fighting, saying things that hadn’t been said before and were hurtful and only partially true and he threw up his hands and yelled, “I give up!” and he walked out the door. 

The problem that sparked the fight isn’t important.  It’s the underlying tension that had been building for months until the fight that’s important.  He left for a couple hours and came back to pack a bag and shower, and then leave.  While he was sitting there in his underwear, I begged him to listen to me.  He did.  We talked.  I realized some truths.

Truth 1: I’ve been miserable for a long time, with my career, with my health, with my weight. 

Truth 2: Misery loves company, and mine was trying to suck Mike down into my quagmire of loathing.  I hate me and I was trying to get him to hate me too.  It nearly worked.  I would come home in a horrible mood from work, from traffic, from worry, and I would yell at the kids for getting in my way when all they wanted was to play with me.  I would yell at him for avoiding me by escaping to the man-cave (basement) to watch TV or to the tub or to bed early.  But who wants to be around a grinch?  He was merely fleeing Medusa hell bent on making him miserable too.

Truth 3: I have some serious life restructuring to do.

The thing is, I have tried in the past to ‘fix’ myself.  I went to therapy and it helped me deal with my issues of doing anything/everything to gain acceptance from people.  I need to remember the lessons taught there.  But there’s a lot I want to change.  I’m not going to dwell a whole bunch on the reasons for the desire to make changes.  I can get trapped in the hamster wheel of why things are the way they are.  If you’ve read here (or my other previous blogs) for any time at all, you’ll know that I’m not happy with several things.

1. My career.  Unfortunately I’m kinda stuck there.  I can’t quit, can’t find something else in my area (already tried), am financially unable to take any kind of pay cut, and don’t have time/resources to return to school.  This is on the back burner.  Things won’t always be like this, and for the sake of my family, I need to stick this out for now.  It could be lots worse.

2. My health/weight.  These things go hand in hand.  I am almost exactly 100 pounds overweight.  This results in triple chins, fatigue, self-loathing, ill-fitting clothes, emotional eating (and that hamster wheel is more like barbed wire) and an inability to keep up with my kids.  It sours my mood, strains my relationships, and I don’t want to be this person anymore.

3. My general attitude.  It’s poor.  I am cynical and while I like helping people, I suspect the worst of people.  I need a new outlook.

So!  While Rome wasn’t built in a day, it was eventually built, and I can make some changes a day at a time to restructure my life and get the most out of it.  My husband has been supportive, and we’ve teamed up on things to help get our marriage back in the swing of things (it didn’t swing that far out, but it’s never been bad enough that either of us wanted to stay somewhere else for a few days.  That’s scary).  It’s amazing how the little things make a difference.  If I’m doing a chore around the house, he helps keep the kids busy and out of my hair.  If he’s tired then I make dinner.  I have decided to start with the things that I can immediately control, namely my fitness level and caloric intake.

Over the last couple of weeks I have begun to do some research into food and ways to eat healthier, and in that vein I’ve discovered a desire to eat more locally, sustainably, organically.  Given that we’ve got some financial troubles, I don’t know that we’ll be able to jump in all at once, but a little at a time, a step at a time, is a place to start.  I’ve been listening on audiobook to Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle book and it’s official: I’m a hippy granola convert.  I’ve discussed with Mike starting up a good sized garden in our backyard with strawberries, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers, broccoli, even asparagus and blackberries and more.  I’ve borrowed more books from the library on cheese making, and on canning.  My father grew up on a farm and knows how to make anything from scratch and how to can, so I can remember homemade strawberry jam in our pantry (and in fact, this spring, he canned some on a visit to our house and I have a couple more jars of yummy red goo for toast and sandwiches) and him making pickles when I was a kid.  I love pickles.  Since his canning experiment this spring, I have some jars and a big canning pot to boil the jars for a proper seal.  I can envision rows upon rows of jars of tomato sauce, whole tomatoes for stew, potatoes, beans, and all kinds of stuff.  I’ve borrowed books about gardening, composting, soil composition, and I’ve studied seed websites for the idea of germinating my own seedlings in the late winter.  I like the idea of heirloom seeds to preserve crops that are dying out due to genetic tampering and pesticides and saving seeds for exchange with other gardeners scratches an anti-establishment itch I’ve always had.  I’ve considered buying a share of a CSA (community supported agriculture) crop from local farmers, but around St. Louis, they sell out fast.  I don’t believe any spots are open for the 2010 year.  I even found a lamb farm and considered broaching the subject of a CSA for undyed yarn.  There are a few on the web, but they’re not local, so there are shipping dollars involved there.  However, I’m not opposed to looking into it more, since the farmers are not giant factories but small, family farmers and it helps them to keep going, farming, running their businesses.

Also along the health lines, I’ve decided to apply for a reality show on NBC called Losing It with Jillian Michaels of The Biggest Loser fame.  I doubt I’ll get picked, but they have to pick someone, right?  I might as well try for it.  Basically, the premise is that she comes to your house and helps you and your family figure out a way to prioritize things, make healthy decisions, lose weight (if that is your goal) and reorganize things for a happier life.  I am a prime candidate for that.  My sister is going to help me with my application video and then I’m all set.  You never know, right?

But I’m not waiting for a show to make improvements.  Last spring, I started running.  I stopped because my bum foot was bothering me.  I was going to rest for a week, and that morphed into the entire summer and into the fall.  That stopped today.  At lunch, I ran half of the time and walked half the time for a mile and a half on the treadmill at work.  Oh, I didn’t mention that my work has a work out facility?  State of the art?  Free weights AND weight machines?  A racquetball court that can be retrofitted with a net for wallyball?  An aerobics room complete with mirrored wall and a TV to play DVDs?  Showers?  That I haven’t been taking advantage of every week for the last 8 years I’ve worked here? 

Whoops.

See, this is another reason I’m not keen to leave my job.  Now that Mike is helping with the kids’ transportation after school and daycare, I may actually have time to use these facilities after work.  Or if I can get him to take the kids to school and daycare in the morning, I could do my workout first thing.  For now, I’m running at lunch on a treadmill.  When the weather warms back up and I’ve had some time to get used to running without horking a lung through my nose then I plan to run outside.  I’ve even got dizzy daydreams of running in a race.  Maybe. 

But in the last couple of weeks, just the act of looking into making changes has given me some hope.  Just the idea that a little at a time can be enough if I can keep it up.  I ran today.  For half an hour.  And I walked some of it.  I sweated.  I put on a sports bra (hate that uni-boob thing, but love that I don’t get smacked in the face) and running shoes and moved my fat around in ungainly and unsightly ways.  Hopefully, if I do that enough, there will be less fat to move around.  Maybe one day I can run without my belly flopping along with my boobs.  Maybe I can even put the treadmill on incline.  Maybe I could get a bike and go bike riding with the kids and Mike next summer.  Get one of those trailer things. 

The thing is, I have plans.  I haven’t had plans for a long time beyond what Mike set up for us to do with his family.  I want to be better, instead of wallowing around in my own misery, bringing everyone around me down.  Maybe, with some happiness and stability at home, and progress towards my weight goals, my career won’t seem so insurmountable.  Maybe I’ll have the energy to stay up late when the kids are in bed and do some writing.  I’m letting my dreams wake up again.  Someday is not so abstract to me anymore.  Someday has become Any Day Now.  I’ve begun.

03
Nov
09

Bliss

What is Bliss?  Is it knowing you’ve finally met The One, the person who completes you, as Jerry Maguire so eloquently said in the movie of the same title?  Is it rarely disagreeing and finishing each other’s sentences?  Is it finding that one person on whom you know you can land when things get scary or uncertain?  Is it knowing you’ve married your best friend, the one who makes you laugh and smile and love life?

I don’t think so.

Bliss is waking up next to the person who kicked you all night, forced you to scrunch your legs up into the fetal position just so you can fit on the damned bed and you realize that despite the bruises, you still love him and would choose no one else with whom to share your bed.

Bliss is knowing he saw you move your bowels while you pushed your son or daughter out of your hey-nanu-nanu and he can still look in your eyes, call you beautiful, and appreciate the miracle of life that emerged from your ravaged body.

Bliss is when you can scream at each other, get red faced, slamming the door as you leave the house because you need a chance to cool down, and you know when you come back, he’ll be there just as apologetic as you.  And you never once doubted the stability of your relationship, no matter how mad you got.

Bliss is when he eats so much garlic that his morning breath is garlicky, and even though you can’t stand garlic, you’ll kiss him good bye before you leave for work anyway.

Bliss is when he doesn’t like to read, but he’ll say something about a blog post of yours, just to prove to you he does pay attention sometimes.

Marriage is hard.  I’ve learned from my own marriage that it takes work and committment, biting my tongue when I’m about to say something mean-spirited because of something stupid like when I’m aggravated that he forgot to replace the roll of toilet paper and I’ve gotten stuck in a compromising position.  Just because I’m comfortable enough with him to say whatever flies out of my mouth doesn’t mean I should, which takes putting his feelings before my own.  It also means forgiving him for not biting his tongue when he probably should have just because I have six books and three knitting projects scattered over the house and haven’t gone through the mail in three days.  Okay, a week.

When I think of my future, he’s in it.  I don’t even notice that anymore.  It just is.  I do think of him as completing me.  He’s The One.  I finish his sentences, which really gets on his nerves sometimes.  He makes me laugh, and I’m not embarrassed when I snort in front of him.  He is my best friend, the one to hold me when the world gets scary.  I’m the one he calls when one of his bosses treats him like crap and he needsd a reality check before saying something that could get him in trouble.  I’m the one he calls when he’s worried about his new position coming through before the bills are due.  He looks to me for reassurances when he’s wading through uncertain waters, be it for helping him through a surgery or helping him train to pass the police fitness test to be considered for a new job, and maybe something more lucrative so we’re no longer scraping by so thinly.

We are each other’s bridge over the river rapids, and each passing day is a nail driven into that bridge, strengthening it, each month and year another plank, another section across the mighty river of life over which we pass.  Some days, there are storms the likes of which few have seen, when we are scared ourselves, but we always end up finding each other to cling to, hanging on as a team instead of trying to power through the wind and rain alone.  Some days, the view from the bridge is spectacular, splashed with reds and oranges of the glorious sunset and we can see down the bridge as far as our eyes will let us.  The way is clear, and though we know we’ll stumble and fall a few hundred planks away, there’s no doubt the other will be there to help the fallen one regain balance and march on.

Somehow, against all the odds, across three states and through the crackle of a tenuous phone line connection, we found each other (a story I may tell later this week).  I believe I was meant for him, and he for me.  I believe that with every fiber in my body I am exactly where I’m supposed to be: in his arms, smelling his garlicky morning breath and kicking his legs back, fighting for just a little more room on my side of the bed. 

Happy Anniversary, Love.  What an eight years it’s been!

26
Oct
09

My New Daughter-In-Law & The Fork In the Road

So long time no posty.  Sorry about that.  Things are shakin’ at the ol’ Conniption Household.  Things I can’t talk about.  Oooh, I know.  I hate it when bloggers allude to things they ‘can’t’ talk about, but in this case, I simply can’t.  Not so publicly anyway.

We took a couple trips.  And then my computer decided that it wouldn’t recognize my camera as a device so the posts I had planned after those trips have been postponed.  I have some knitting to show off, but again, that takes camera talking to computer properly.  I’ll hopefully have that worked out shortly.  You’ll also have to forgive me because the Mucous Plague has visited its pestilence upon our house and Son is the only one apparently unscathed.  I’m hopped up on cold medicine.

A few weeks ago, we were sitting down to dinner and I asked Son how his day at Kindergarten had gone.  He said, “Fine. I’m going to marry Billie*.”  Billie is a little girl down the street who is in his class.  I gathered my wits before I brayed laughter in his face and doomed him to a lifetime of peering at girls from behind a locker door and being too afraid to talk to anyone about his crushes, resulting in unnatural tendencies that will result in restraining orders and possibly a spot in US Weekly as the stalker-of-the-month to some celebrity.

Ahem.

Trying to keep the mirth from my voice, I asked him, “Does Billie know this?  Have you discussed it with her to be sure she wants to marry you, too?”  He said, “I chase her every day at school, and she runs from me.  When I stop chasing her, she chases me back.”

Ah, true love.  So uncomplicated in the mind of a five year old.

I asked him last night what he would do if he ever caught her, or let her catch him.  His response was that he wouldn’t kiss her, that’s for sure.  If she wanted to kiss him on the cheek, well, then, he might let her, but he wasn’t doing the planting of the kiss.  I found myself torn because while I think it’s perfectly normal what he and Billie are doing, exploring social tendencies and how to handle their feelings, I also don’t want him to see the inside of the principal’s office, or worse, face suspension or expulsion over a kiss as the media has reported with the advent of Zero Tolerance at schools.  Common sense is not the order of the day, and while I think my kids’ school is more common sensical than some, I don’t want to take the chance. I told him to save the kissing for when he’s older, that he can hold her hand, or give her a quick hug (but not hang on her) but that kissing is for when he’s a teenager. 

Then, this morning, he asked me to fix his hair into ‘fun hair’ for school.  Next, he’ll be checking his labels and making sure none of his clothes come from Wal-Mart.  Does it really start this early?  Really?  I’m not equipped for this.  And relying on my husband to do the guidance bit for Son and his pre-pubescent angst seems like the answer since Mike is a good man, but I feel out of control here, like a delicate flower in a freezer full of sausage. 

Also, it seems like poor timing on my part since we’re embarking on the Candy/Holiday Food season but I’m tired.  Physically, emotionally, and in general my apathy is overwhelming.  All I feel like doing is eating, sleeping, and I’m doing the minimum required to get by.  This has been the norm for a long time, and it’s becoming a problem.  It’s weighing down my attitude, and I can’t remember the last time I smiled a genuine smile.  I am tired of being in a bad mood.  I’m tired of not feeling 100% capable of keeping up with life.  I’m sick of wishing for change instead of making the changes necessary. I am beginning to struggle with depression in a way that I haven’t in a long time, and at the time, I hoped I’d never face such a black abyss again.  I wanted to write about this in a more meaningful way, something with pretty words strung together in awesome ways but I’m not capable of that today what with the cold medicine coursing through my veins.  But I’m afraid if I don’t say it, it won’t be as real and the more tenuous it remains, the less I’ll feel confident in sticking to it.  So I’m saying it now.  There will be changes around here.  They’ve already begun.  My diet and exercise routine is being mapped out as we speak.  I’ve joined Spark People, though I’m a little leery of keeping a tool like that at my fingers because sometimes the actual changes required are lost in the use of tools.  All talk, no walk, if you know what I mean.  I’m also going to apply to be on Losing It with Jillian Michaels.  I don’t know if we’ll be picked to have a camera crew and Jillian descend on our house, and the odds aren’t in our favor, but to have a life coach come to us to analyze and help us reprioritize seems like, I don’t know, a step in the right direction, and we couldn’t afford one on our own.  And if Jillian were really going to visit, I’d have a hard time refraining from humping her leg.  I would at the very least, wish to give her a hug, if only to feel the solidity of her muscles.  Her awesomeness scares me and cowers me as well as inspires me.

So!  That’s what’s up with me.  There will hopefully be some changes coming up.  Unfortunately, I’m in the throes of one of those colds that saps your energy, and while I’m ready to get going on this fork in my life road now that I’ve chosen which fork to take, I know that any effort I expend on the exercise front will only prolong the weakness and sickness that I’ve been plagued with for the last few days.  It is one of those massive mucous parties in my chest that could easily become bronchitis.  However, in an effort to prove that I’m not just making excuses, I’m making small changes already.  I spent some time over the weekend cooking for the week ahead so that I can keep to a healthy diet and get into a new routine to jumpstart what I plan to be a whole turnaround.  I need this.  Or I’m staring into a life where I’ve alienated every person who has ever cared about me and I lose my family.  I’m not willing to go there.  I’ve got some work to do.  I need to get on it before I’m too far gone to care about losing it.  Something’s gotta give, and it’s not gonna be me.  Wish me luck.

*name changed for the sake of the children. Please, won’t you think of the children?

06
Oct
09

I Shouldn’t Be Posting Today

I’m in a funk.  I don’t know how to get out.  I am still taking my happy pills, but they’re not working or something.  I have no idea.  I’ve been extra dirty stressed lately over things I can’t talk about here.  It’s making me paranoid.  I don’t like the sound of my phone anymore.  I hate getting out of bed in the morning.  I find myself wishing away the day.  It’s ugly.

So, in an effort to give myself new focus, I’m going to write a list.  This list will be things I don’t like about my life that I want to change.

1. Finances.  Don’t know what to do about them.  Have already tried everything.  Short of whoring myself out on the street corner, I don’t see a way out.

2. My job.  It’s less my job and more my chosen field.  Answer is simple.  Change careers.  It’s the doing that’s hard.

3. My body.  I’m fat.  100 pounds overweight.  Son said to me this weekend that he doesn’t want me to have a big belly because he doesn’t want people to think bad things about me.  Nothing like embarrassing your kid with your general presence.

4. My style.  I need a whole new wardrobe.  I don’t like clothes shopping, nor do I have the money for one right now, but none of it is me.  I’m faced with nothing but comfortable baggy clothes that hide my uncomfortable baggy body and I want something cute, sassy, and that screams that I do care how I look.  One step at a time, though.  I need to get a haircut, so that’s on the horizon.

5. My unpublished status.  The answer for that is to put ass in chair and do the writing.  Walk the walk.

Yeah, that’s pretty much all of it.  It’s not asking much is it, just revamp my body and career.  But it’s what I think I need to do to have a happy life.  And Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Nor are books written all at once.  So yeah, there will be a page at a time, a pound lost at a time, and resume writing and submission.  Something has to give, or it’s going to be me that gives.

30
Sep
09

My Pale Green Thumb

I’m fighting a battle, one wherein I desire to be taken seriously.  Throughout my life, I’ve discovered that if I’m not learning something, I’m not happy.  When I graduated college, I embarked on a series of adventures trying to keep the student in me happy and full of knowledge.  First, I learned about wedding planning and the suckitude therein.  Then I learned about house building.  That blew harder than the wedding planning, or getting caught in a bear trap in the tundra with no knitting to keep you warm and a strangely-immune-to-the-cold zombie shambling toward you with hunger in his dead and fevered eyes.  Next came procreation and all it entails, from conception to birth, and that naturally flowed into parenthood.  For the first three years of Son’s life, I made it my mission to know everything I could about parenting from trends, advice and which side of the fence I fell on hot button issues like Cry It Out and Formula vs. Breastfeeding, and the unimaginative people behind children’s movies.  When he was four, we got pregnant with his sister, so I reimmersed myself in all things baby.  In the last year and a half, I’ve begun to step outside my little family bubble and remember there are other things than kids kids kids.

So I tried to learn about photography.  I love photography, but find myself so tired at the end of the day and facing so little time with my kids in the evenings before bed that I didn’t feel comfortable using that time to practice taking pictures.  I didn’t want to spend the couple hours a day I get with them watching things happen behind a lens.  That didn’t seem fair to them, and to be truthful, when I did pick up the camera, I didn’t want to be distracted by refereeing kid fights when he’d take her toy from her and she’d screech like a howler monkey on speed and come ram her head into my knees, hobbling me.  I wasn’t going to learn anything that way.  Not to mention that the equipment is mighty pricy. 

Knitting came next.  I’m still in the throes of that. But there’s been something else.  The whole time I’ve been courting knitting, and even before then if truth be told, I’ve been seduced by something else, something completely out of character for me.  Gardening.  I don’t like being outside when it’s hot.  I don’t like getting dirty.  I don’t like bugs.  But gardening keeps beckoning to me with the promise of produce as fresh as can be, bounty large enough to be preserved and saved for year round use, the idea that I can grow the food we eat and therefore can control that which gets put on the plants and in the soil it in which it roots.  The green movement in this country has contributed to my desire to nurture a green thumb to reduce our family’s carbon footprint, as well as save on our grocery bill.  The fact that I like to experiment in the kitchen a bit helps and spurs me on a desire to find new ways to cook veggies, to plant veggies I’ve never tried before and to increase the variety of things we eat in our house.  That I want to have a big garden necessitates a need to learn to can and preserve that which can be saved for the year.  That in itself appeals to me because my dad’s family were farmers and canning was a way of life when he was growing up.  I feel like it brings me closer to my own roots.  When my parents visited in May, my dad bought a bushel of strawberries at our local orchard and made a bunch of jelly out of it.  He bought some of the supplies to do the canning and so I already have a better start than from scratch.  The only thing that scares me is the potential for botulism.  I don’t want to poison my family.

Where does the fight come in?  Well, mainly with my husband.  He likes fresh tomatoes, and he’s all for a small garden with tomatoes, onions, and squash.  But he’s not on board with the big garden with raised beds taking up half our yard, and a compost bin for fertilizer.  He doesn’t get the whole green thing, though he’s the one who got me started a couple years ago when he saw that energy efficient light bulbs could save us on our electric bill.  For him, it’s all about the money.  We drive the more fuel efficient car most of the time because of better gas mileage saving us at the pump; we got a diesel truck because it hauls the camper better but who cares that it’s lower emissions; he wants to plant trees not for the environment, but for their aesthetically pleasing look and their shade which might give our air conditioner some relief in the summer.  A garden to him is simply a means to save money at the grocery store.  So when I mentioned my dream garden to him, all the varieties of veggies, and the work I want to put into it, he poopooed the idea because it would require him to build me some raised beds, fence it in to keep the dog out, and help me with composting and doing some of the work.  He also said he wasn’t interested in many of the vegetables I wanted to plant.  Beets?  I don’t know that I could eat all the beets by myself.  I could try.  I definitely know I couldn’t do the asparagus by myself.  And yes, I want to try asparagus, though I know it takes 7 years to grow and is extremely sensitive. 

new season for the vegetable garden

But I’m inspired.  I want to make jars of my own spaghetti sauce.  I want to have fresh tomato cucumber salads in the summer.  I want onions that sing in chili mace with my own beans and tomatoes and tomato paste. I want to make strawberry rhubarb pie out of my own strawberries and rhubarb.  I want to grow my own pumpkins for the kids for Halloween.  I want to learn the different things to do in the kitchen with chickpeas.  I want to show my kids how to take care of their environment in a way that is both healthy for the Earth and themselves, how to use what Mother Nature has to offer to live and instill in them a healthy respect for soil that isn’t littered upon or covered over with asphalt.  I want to have a fresh herb garden so I don’t have to pay $5 for a small jar of a spice that is dried out and muted in flavor.  I want to eat as locally as I can, expending my own bodily energy instead of machined energy to harvest my food.  I want to make my own pickles, try different kinds of lettuce, do something besides get in the car and drive to the store, pay too much for food that will go bad before we can eat it, and then throw it away.  But I need to convince my husband.  He’s skeptical, saying this might be like the photography thing in that we’ll invest the money into it and then I’ll find a reason to quit.  I’ll say back that the photography thing isn’t gone, just on hold until a.) I can afford the equipment, and b.) the kids get older and don’t require as much supervision so I can put my face behind the camera and not turn around a second later to find that the baby has upended the cocoa powder on the kitchen floor and is ‘painting’ in it.  True story.  I’ll say that this gives back in a way that photography doesn’t.  This can save us money at the store.  This can make our food taste better (that should appeal to the chef in him).  This is the way

If that doesn’t work, I’ll bribe him with sex.  And hand knit socks.

Anyone have any good gardening tips?  I’m starting from scratch.

24
Sep
09

She Gets Me

I’ve started and scrapped this post six…teen times in the past and I can’t seem to find a way to articulate it in a way that does it any justice.  So I’m just going to write it and be done with it.  It’s been gnawing on my brain tissue to come out for too long and I’m finally excising the ferret running around doing the chomping.

I don’t make friends very well.  Unlike my sister, who seems to collect awesome people and keep in touch with them forever, I can’t seem to find the awesome ones very often.  In grade school, I was part of a collection of girls who hung out together because we were labeled with the ‘popular’ tag.  Not that I ever thought I was popular or better than anyone else.  But I was part of a gaggle of girls that somehow got others to believe we were the popular ones.  It was a miserable experience.   

One day, we were standing around the building at recess (in grade 6, so we were a bunch of pre-pubescent catty bitches with claws fully extended) in Our Corner, the one where no one else dared to go lest they receive an evil eye from Amelia* who was considered the leader of The Group, which was what we called ourselves.  Original, I know.  Angela* snorted when she looked down at my feet.  “I see your taste in shoes has improved.”  She snickered to the other girls, and Amelia laughed.  The rest of them took their cues from her and laughed, too.  

Puzzled, I said, “What are you talking about, Angela?” 

“Those idiotic shoes with the puffy rainbow hearts on them.  Those are so stupid.” 

I knew which shoes she was talking about,  but they didn’t belong to me.  They belonged to my other friend Betty, who darted a glance at me to see if I’d out her. 

Insecure at being laughed at, I jumped to defend myself.  “Those aren’t my shoes.  Those are Betty’s.”  

Angrily, Betty piped up, “I borrowed them from you one time, because they matched a bow I had in my hair.  But I threw that bow away because it was ugly and gave you your shoes back.”  She glared at me with betrayal, daring me to question her.  Since she was new to school that year, and the novelty of her long blond hair and pretty clothes hadn’t worn off yet, Angela and the other girls jumped to her defense, regardless of her lie. 

The jeering and teasing continued, and I bowed my head, having resigned myself to taking on the shame of a stupid pair of shoes I never even owned.  As soon as school was over and Betty and I were walking home (we only lived a couple blocks away from school and from each other) she apologized for not speaking up in my defense.  “That Angela has a mean streak in her.  I’m sorry I didn’t tell her the truth, but you’ve been at this school for awhile.  They all know you.  They don’t know me well, and the smallest things can send me to the dork side of the fence.  They won’t send you to hang out with the dorks.  You could get away with having stupid shoes.” 

Wordlessly, I nodded.  I knew she was right, and I also knew she was a coward at the same time.  But she was my friend, the best one I’d had and so I took the teasing for her, so she would still be ‘allowed’ to hang out with us.  The next time they criticized my hair or clothes, she told them she liked it.  The next day, two of the other four girls that hung out with us sported the same hair style as I had the day before.  If Pretty Betty thought it was nice, then it must be.  Too bad she couldn’t have defended the shoes.  Betty moved away the next summer, and we all split up to different middle schools.  Happily so, in my case. 

In middle school, I had a few girlfriends that I would hang out with, but the connection was tenuous.  Sure, we were all friends, perfectly pleasant to each other.  I appear to have survived middle school years unscathed by torment that so many others experience.  I had acquaintances.  I had people to talk to.  I had friends with whom I did things like watch movies or stand next to at dances waiting for a boy to have enough guts to ask me to dance (no one ever did) and I even went to a few of the popular crowd’s chaperoned ‘parties’ where the parents relegated us to a basement and we pigged out on chips and soda and listened to loud music that was dictated by a couple guys that played the same songs over and over.  I had crushes, got crushed, had notes to pass and passed to me in the halls, doodled guys’ names on my binder and then scratched them out.  It was typical, and very superficial.  High school was much the same way, but I decided I didn’t much like the parties when alcohol and drugs and sex came into the picture, and the parents disappeared. 

It seemed that even in college, I couldn’t manage to stay away from the one or two toxic people who befriended me only to beat me down for their own enjoyment and self-esteem fulfillment.  I ended my most serious high school relationship when the guy in question moved to his own college and promptly forgot he promised to give a long-distance thing a try; I met the man who would become my husband, and made some friends who forgot me and were forgotten by the next year when I changed residence halls.  Then I moved colleges and went from class to class knowing names and faces, sitting next to the familiar ones in my core classes, and chatting.  I know none of them today. 

The people with whom I interact now are work related, or were friends of my husband’s before I moved to be close to him.  A few of his friends’ wives stand out as confidantes to me, and one particular coworker ‘gets’ me, but I find that my sense of humor is off-putting.  I’m disturbed, and I laugh at disturbing things.  I make rude jokes, or say off color things, cannot stand political correctness stupidity and point out when I think something is dumb.  My husband thinks this is a coping mechanism that I use to keep people at bay because I don’t want to endure The Group kind of thinking again, that I don’t want to open myself up to esteem crushing teasing.  He may be right.  I have a couple friends to whom I relate, but it doesn’t come easy to me.  I have a guard that I keep in place.  I float a few jokes out there and if they don’t get my sense of humor, I dial it back.  I behave myself. 

The result is that a lot of the time, I am snarking in my own head about things, things I wish I could say to a friend out loud and have them snort laughter in understanding.  I have thoughts that I know people would deem inappropriate, so I keep them to myself.  The result of this is that I’m often outwardly a very sanitized version of my true self.  The one place where I’m free to be truly myself is on my blog, and moreso, in 140 character snippets on Twitter.   I often will see a group of women having a great time over drinks somewhere, or two friends shopping together laughing hysterically over something only they know, and I’m jealous.  I feel like the orphan looking into a warm home through a foggy and cold window, standing barefoot out in the snow while a group of girlfriends in pajamas share popcorn and boy stories in front of a warm fireplace.  I don’t know the secret handshakes of sisterhood, or the passwords to even try to break into this place of sacred friendship.  I’ve never been a bridesmaid, though I had 8 myself.  (Yeah, I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.)  I’ve never been the one who gets the phone call from a devastated friend over a breakup.  I have girlfriends, girls with whom I laugh and have a good time, but I can’t geek out over Twilight with any of them, excepting one.  I can’t call and say, “OMG, you HAVE to see this YouTube!” and be understood why the cat jumping clumsily over the gate is so frakking funny.  Or even someone to laugh that I’m using the word ‘frak’ instead of ‘fuck’ and understand where that came from, and my obsession with Battlestar Galactica to the point of knitting BSG themed socks!

I just don’t make friends that easily.  I wish it were different.  It just seems that my friendships tend to cool off or peter out over time.  I hope that isn’t the case with everyone.  So far, it has been.

So imagine my shock when last week, I responded to the tweet of a girl I’ve been following for years, have had a blog author/commenter acquaintance with since my first blog, but whom I’ve never really talked to in depth until I answered this one tweet.  We’ve been emailing constantly back and forth for the last week and a half, texting each other when not near email, and we get each others’ jokes.  She’s as snarky and disturbed as I am and it’s a blast.  We have so much in common, and so many of the same thought processes that it’s sometimes eerie.  Come to find out, I have found my personality clone.  And I may just weep with joy over it.  A new friend.  For me.  Maybe for life.

*names have been changed. I have no idea where most of these people are and they could be perfectly human by now.  I’m assuming maturity may have a hand in some attitudes by now.




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