Thursday, October 30, 2003

Good Morning to You

I'm listening to Lila on the monitor. She's just woken up and is chewing on her own hand and talking to the morning fairies instead of fussing for me. I love this, but I think I'll have to intrude so I can see her blueberry eyes.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Sweet Dreams

New post up at DotMoms today.
What's your question?

I got a call from one of Ty's teachers yesterday afternoon. She opened with lots of praise for Tyler's bright mind and artistic ability and his sense of humor. I agreed with her and waited for the "but."

...but he's not very organized.

Mmmmmm. Yes. Well, he gets that from me unfortunately.

...Well, that's honest of you. I'm thinking we need to go back to some 4th grade procedures for homework and each of us sign off on his assignment book everyday. Most of the 5th grade teachers won't do this, there's a real push to get the kids working as independently as possible.

I think that's a great idea, if you're willing. I miss that. I'm going on his word and his enthusiastic report when he gets off the bus every day that all of his homework was completed in study hall. This is the first I'm hearing otherwise so thank you for letting me know.

...Tyler does his homework in study hall, I see that because that's in my class, and I'm his Reading and Language Arts teacher. He just ends up handing it in late because he forgot it somewhere. I take ten points off but he always has an A anyways so that's not having an effect on him. He's very smart.

Yes he is, but he's also not doing his best work, is he?

I knew this call was coming soon. I have honestly been avoiding the fact because I'm so overwhelmed with trying to get the house settled and having an infant and being out in the boonies. All excuses. Lame excuses. I have to focus on Tyler's work and not just turn it over to him because he's not ready. He likes it that I'm not checking every single item each day but that's because he doesn't want to face it himself, not because he's handling it on his own. So now we have agreed that his work will be gone over in detail every day before playtime can happen.

I wish I had the energy to homeschool him but knowing the social being that he is and the fact that I tend to get a bit frozen in action myself, I know that it would be a recipe for disaster. We tried it for kindergarten and I just couldn't get him out there with other people enough and he thrives on the interactions he has with his peers and teachers. He also gets frustrated that subjects he enjoys come and go so quickly, just as he's starting to get deeply into it, they're moving onto something new. He's developing lazy habits for completing work, doing the minumum expected. If the teacher says write one to two pages on a subject he does one page plus a sentence even when there's clearly more he could say.

He's beginning to feel like school is torture and a punishment, hours and hours of busy work. I feel at a loss as to how to help him with that because frankly that's what it was for me. If I'd known about the Teenage Liberation Handbook - well, who knows if I would have done anything but I fantasize that I would have found a mentor and apprenticed at the local newspaper and got my writing career off to a healthy, early start. I'm seeing the passion in him starting to fizzle and I don't know how to stop it, how to help him keep his inner fires burning and still get through school.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Alphabet Kelly

I er, stole this from Suburban Blight because, well, I liked it...and I'm feeling lazy and am avoiding writing about what I should be writing here:

A-ACTOR (favorite) - Keanu Reeves. hahahahahahahahahah.
B-BOYHOOD IDOLS ('cept I'm a girl): Leif Garrett, Luke & Laura, Belinda Carlisle, John Cougar
C-CHORE YOU HATE: Cleaning that nasty asty toilet in my son's bathroom
D-DAD'S NAME: Thomas, ahem, Thom
F-FAVE ACTRESS: Meryl Streep
H-HOMETOWN: Bridgewater, MA (as Papa said: Under the bridge, over the water)
J-JOB TITLE: Unemployed Desperado
K-KIDS: Tyler (11) and Lila (4 mos)
L-LIVING ARRANGEMENTS: Me, the new hubbie, the boy and the a 2 story on 4 acres in OH...with the cats sequestered in the basement...bastids!
M-MOM'S NAME: Carolyn
N-# OF PEOPLE YOU'VE SLEPT WITH: Um. I can't believe I had to use one toe.
O-OVERNIGHT HOSPITAL STAYS: Much of the month of June when Lila was born, and two nights for Tyler.
P-PHOBIA: Heights. Don't let me near the upstairs windows unless you want to see me on my knees. Wait a minute. Not like that, piggy.
Q-QUOTE YOU LIKE: "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." Not actually a quote, but a proverb of sorts...I also like the bumper sticker that says: A hard-on doesn't count as personal growth.
S-SIBLINGS: Sister, Brother-both younger
T-TIME YOU WAKE UP: 5 mother f'in 20 am.
U-UNIQUE HABIT: I type everything I hear or say with my fingers on whatever surface is available, usually my legs...and when I'm really up to speed I use my toes inside my shoes.
V-VEGETABLE YOU REFUSE TO EAT: Brussel sprouts, unless I'm feeling in a particularly musical mood
W-WORST HABIT: Burping names in front of the kids, "Fraaaank", "Edddddiiieee", "Raaaaalpphhhh" - you get the picture.
X-X-RAYS YOU'VE HAD: Back, ribs, chest, arm, ankle, 932 sonograms in June, teeth...many for teeth, you know, to illuminate that mouth full of amalgam.
Y-YUMMY FOOD YOU MAKE: Udon Noodles with Sesame Ginger Sauce, Anise Roasted Chicken

Sunday, October 26, 2003

New Venue

I've got a piece up at the new spot for blogging Moms called DotMoms. Go check it out and hey, tell all your friends!
Hi, My Name Is...

We went to a Halloween birthday party for a girl in Tyler's class last night. The invitation said "Your Family Is Invited" so I figured, hey! Great way to meet some people because I'm starting to feel a little bit like Shelley Duvall's Wendy Torrence in The Shining. The snow hasn't started to stick, but it's showered a couple of times and I can read the writing on the's not written in blood yet, but come February? We're almost in the boonies here.

We spent a good hour assembling our getups. Thank you to Mom In the Mirror for the National Geographic link with the fantastic cheap costume ideas. Chris was the basket of dirty laundry and I went as a twister. I planned to hold Lila and when people asked what she was supposed to be, I'd point to the lincoln log roof hanging off my knee and say that when I pulled the roof off of the house, I sucked this adorable baby right up out of her mother's arms. I know, sick. Get over it, it's Halloween.

We arrived fashionably late (an hour to be precise, but we have the baby excuse that we whip out when necessary.) Thank God we went late, I can't imagine having to be there for a minute longer than we were. When we got out of the car we had to navigate through a crowd of adults on the deck of the duplex smoking with this manic intensity, one woman's ash grew a half inch with every drag she took and I swear I could see it coming out her ears. But hey, I was happy to see that they were smoking outside rather than inside where the kids were.

Wrong. We walked into a wall of smoke in the kitchen and realized that the ones on the porch had gone outside to have some fresh air with their smoke. We tried introducing ourselves to some of the adults, who just nodded and looked puzzled by our getups and not one person told us their name. I smiled at Chris and said "Gee, maybe I read the invitation wrong. Guess the grownups didn't have to dress up." I should have had an inkling that this wasn't the best laid plan when the invitation had no phone number or address for the RSVP. Noone spoke and it quickly became uncomfortable being stared at so we excused ourselves and made our way down into the basement. Tyler got swept into the crowd of screaming kids running around under the black lights, thier teeth glowing in the dark. Everyone sounded so thrilled to see him and I relaxed inside knowing that at least he would have fun and is making friends in school. Chris and I found a couple of empty chairs and sat with Lila until she woke up. Poor kid fell asleep in her comfy car seat then woke up in hell.

I ended up spending the next hour and a half in the car with Lila slamming down Mint Creme Oreos. We didn't eat dinner because the invite made it sound like there would be food. There was no food. Just cookies, cupcakes and punch. And while we're at it, let's not forget the smoking adults. Chimneys I tell you. Oh, Okay. I get it. They were dressed as factory smokestacks. Clever. Chris won prize for "Most Creative" costume...thanks Mom in the Mirror! That might have been because he had bags of candy hidden under all the laundry that he kept handing out to the kids. His prize was a pack of lick-on-tattoos. We'll have fun with those later.

We pulled Tyler away from the party ten minutes early and made our escape. No friendships sparked last night for the grownups in the family, but the boy had a ball and that's what matters. I'm sure I'll keep putting myself out there because eventually I'll meet someone who will make it possible for communication to take place by telling me their name when I introduce myself. We will have a conversation and share little bits of information about ourselves and get to know each other and like what we hear and make a date to get together for lunch or coffee or decide to form a book group or a writing circle or a gardening club and then I will be on my way to having a network in my new town. But last night we went home with nothing in mind but warming up the leftover pasta from the night before and having a very late dinner then going to bed saying "Glad I'm me."

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Slippery Slope

After reading Defective Yeti today, I had to add my own ridiculous shoe story. A few years ago I was working many extra hours at the magazine, pulling lots of late nights with maybe 3 hours of sleep between shifts. After a few weeks of this relentless insanity I went to work on a cold winter morning. It was slushy, a wet snowy mix falling and the streets of Manhattan were covered in icy grey sludge. Crossing the street to the entrance to my building, I stepped in a puddle that was a lot deeper than I thought it was and soaked my foot-but it was a lot more wet than I would have expected it to be. Upon closer inspection I saw that I had left the house, ridden the bus for an hour and a half and walked to work wearing these:

Taking dress-down day to a whole new level.
The Book of Truth

Got google searched in the middle of the night for:

why girls have baggage

I'm picturing some high school boy trying to navigate the seas of young love with his horny little rudder always pointing him in the wrong direction. Think he found the answer here?

Poor thing. So confused by his girlfriend's crying every 13 minutes over nothing, he said "Fuck it, I don't know what the hell she's talking about, I'll ask Mr. Google what her problem is."

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Who's the fairest of them all?

Tyler has become the embodiment of all of my worst habits. I find myself wanting to reach out and wrap my hands around his neck and choke some sense into him because he's right there in front of me and because I can't really choke myself. Believe me, I've tried.

He's this incredible slob and it keeps him down, makes it impossible to really stay on top of his game because he's got this chaotic space to work and play in. I've done the plastic tubs on shelves thing. Every toy does indeed have a place, every pen, crayon, marker, Lego, Lincon Log, Tinker Toy, Matchbox car, Bionicle, Yu-Gi-Oh card, Mage Knight, army guy, puzzle piece, sketchbook, paint brush, Gameboy cartridge has a container and a spot on a shelf and if I police him while he's at play then things stay relatively picked up, but if I let him get his freak on in his room then forget it. Say goodbye to floorspace and enter at your own risk to get a goodnight kiss. Of course, he's eleven now and wants more privacy so I try to give him what's reasonable but then I pay for it later-which means he pays for it too with my mean voice and my stomping around in his room picking things up and slamming them down where they belong.

How can I get so mad at him when I'm sitting here right now at my computer with papers piled in overlapping, slip-sliding stacks all around me? There are still dishes in the sink from dinner last night-not all of them, just the ones I didn't do because I ran out of steam. I still haven't unpacked our clothes upstairs and hung them up in the closets or put them away in the bureaus, they're all in baskets or in messy piles-semi folded on the floor or in boxes out in the garage. I haven't filed my bills into the file cabinet in five months. I have no fewer than twenty three knitting, sewing, dollmaking, weaving, spinning, papermaking, book binding, and writing projects in half-finished states of disarray in boxes and bags and piles all over the house. I'm pretty sure I didn't bring the diaper from the middle of the night change down to the trash yet. The wastecan in the bathroom has been overflowing for about a week now. You get the picture; I suck at maintenance. No wonder the kid's a mess.

What's getting me so jammed up is the fact that he's having a hard time keeping his school work organized. He keeps forgetting assignments, or leaving notices for me in his desk. He's frustrated with himself and I hear myself saying in my head "Why can't you just do it?" But I don't say that out loud because I remember so clearly being unable to just do it when I was a kid. It was like there was some secret code you had to know to be so organized. My room looked like the aftermath of a tornado most days. My backpack had papers randomly stuffed into it and I'd hand in these wrinkled, folded, smudged messes to my teachers. My mom was constantly at the school talking to my teachers about my performance -she's so bright but so lazy-if she'd just apply herself she'd do so well-she needs to learn to use her time more wisely and keep her work more organized-there's no reason why she should be having such a hard time, she just needs to focus-why can't she just do it?

It's all so familiar when Tyler's teachers say the same things at school conferences and I have a very hard time keeping the tears in. It feels like they're blaming me-that if I were a better parent, a better person, my kid would have a better chance. But because I've been such a fuckup all my life, the kid's screwed. I go home and try to settle my stomach with a big bowl of ice cream.

I hate myself for being so disgusted with Tyler when it's so obviously me I'm unhappy with. He stands before me with such sadness in his eyes, wanting my approval and support and understanding, wanting me to just not mind that he's not perfect. I know down deep inside, underneath all the bullshit ideals I've allowed to cloud my perception of what is and what should be, that if I can just not mind that I'm not perfect that it'll all work out just fine.

My kid has become a life sized, 3-D, walking-talking mirror.

Noone told me that would happen.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Graceful As She Goes

All I know of Nana Grace lives in photographs and Dixie cups. The one photo with Nana in it that I actually remember the day, she's sitting on a blanket on the grass in our back yard. It's some family gathering-I think my first communion-in the spring. She's holding an icepack to her nose, one of those old fashioned rubbery cloth bags that had a metal screw cap. Her legs are folded to the side like a proper lady. She's kind of old, but not that old. I remember holding the ice pack for her while she got settled on the blanket. She was laughing and that surprised me, I kept waiting for her to cry the way I would if I'd been hit in the nose with a flying frisbee. My uncles were playing and the disc got away from them and bounced right off the bridge of her nose. When I look at that photo, I see this little hurt woman who is so strong.

The Dixie cups were the paper ones with a white background and a pale color swirl down the sides. She kept them in a plastic dispenser mounted to the side of the cabinet above her kitchen sink. I loved the yellows ones and she always let me pull a bunch out to find a yellow, then drop the rest back in on top. Juice seemed to taste so much sweeter in a yellow Dixie cup. Nana probably kept them because, well, they're Dixie cups—less dishes to wash—but I was sure she kept them just for me.

She was the lunch lady at the high school my Mom and Dad went to-that's where they met-in school. Dad graduated. Mom was a year behind him and the school mailed Mom her diploma because she was pregnant with me and wasn't allowed to go to the commencement ceremony. I was conceived accidentally at the drive-in, in the back seat of a '57 Chevy. Twenty years later the class president called her to say that enough time had passed and everyone had probably forgotten so if she'd like to come she'd be welcome to the class reunion. I'm sure she didn't say what I would have...but she didn't go either.

Grace. I don't remember Nana much at all, just her smile and her pretty eyes and what I've been told-that she was Irish and funny and kind and liked to stay longer than Papa did at parties my Mom's parents had and have a whiskey or two or three and that the most graceful thing about her was that she put up with my Papa's rigid Welsh/Narragansett ass and his cold and distant heart. That she always bought new winter coats for me and my sister. That she loved to come to Sunday dinner at our house. But that's not the whole picture. It's just what I see in the pictures I have and in the few stories I've been told.

I have no idea who her parents were, if she had any siblings, where she was born, where she went to school, if she wanted to be something besides the lunch lady before she had a family, if she loved my grandfather or if she loved someone else, if she liked my father as a person or only because he came from her body. I know she liked my mother and adored her grandchildren because I do remember her hugs and they were real.

I gave my daughter Grace's name because Nana is a mystery to me, a woman who died when I was eight and whose family stopped talking about her within days of her death from the shock of having lost the thread that held them all together so suddenly. It almost became as though she never existed. I think my Dad was shocked when he heard we used the name-touched too but I saw this look in his eye like he'd been tapped on the shoulder by this part of him he's ignored for too long. He looked hurt. I don't understand how this happens, this pushing a person's memory out of one's heart and mind. Was it because the hole she left behind in their lives was too vast to fill, too dark to enlighten, too full of the pain of loss to do anything but cover it over, leave it behind as a dirt filled grave? Noone's ever said to me that I remind them in anyway of Grace, but she's in me. I looked at a photo recently and I have her color eyes-the same color eyes my Dad has. Who had those eyes before her? I have no idea, and because the adults around me refused to keep her with us, I only remember vividly the nose and the Dixie cups.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Dear Creapy Old Guy in the Acme* Parking Lot,

When you roll your EMPTY cart past my car three times trying to catch a glimpse of the glory that is my left breast as I'm nursing my BABY (as opposed to say, stripping in a CLUB and collecting many dollar bills from idiots like you), and then walk around to the other side of your car and bend down to look through your windows into mine, I gotta tell you Mr., you aren't fooling anybody. When you realize that I've seen you checking me out and am making what I hope you perceive as disgusted, look you perverted fuckwit can't you see I'm trying to feed my baby here? eye contact with you; giving me a sheepish grin and ducking your head in mock embarrassment does not make it any better.

douche nozzle.

* Acme is the grocery store. I thought it was where I should go to get my anvils and 2000lb weights and my dynamite when I'm wearing my Wile E. Coyote suit.

**not attached to any previous **
Whoever at Oreo thought of making mint creme Oreos is my heroEO.
That's MY Pot of Gold

If you're nice to me, I'll share.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Chinese Water Torture

You know what to do because you have the tools to do it and right there in your pocket you have the map you painstakingly marked over the past decade and a half with the best routes towards happiness, or at least towards the land called Freedom From Unhappiness. You even had the forsight to ink in the landmines and bogs and swamps, the unpaved roads and most importantly the toll roads because let's face it, some paths have too high a price.

You've studied qi gong, yoga, herbalism, homeopathy, intuitive healing, energy healing, reiki, meditation, spiritual gardening, essences, done sweat lodges, taught workshops, counselled women in pain the same way you're in pain and trusted that the sameness was what allowed you to be of service. You've stood in circles around leaping fires in a grove of 400 year old white pines and watched the fairies flit in and out of the branches beneath the stars, hiked deep into the woods to pick wild motherwort to make a tincture to relax your pms and stood in the field of pink flowers-arms and legs buzzing with the quiet and the pink, so much pink- while a thousand monarchs and swallowtales made the breeze visible.

You're wondering why you feel so empty much of the time, so disconnected and lonely. The thinking machine inside of you seems to have a much stronger engine, a louder whine to the motor that takes your breath away when you finally notice it's been running for three hours while you've been nursing your baby, washing the dishes, folding laundry, making dinner, pulling seeds from the morning glory vines and the calendula flowers to plant next year, unpacking yet another box for the kitchen and wondering where you'll put all of the STUFF, calling the creditors to say "sorry, you'll have to wait, I'm out of money and out of work but you're on my list of priorities, I promise." Suddenly you're aware that you're not alone inside your head, that there's this voice yammering away about how much there is to be done, how little time, how little money, how little energy and why, why, why does it have to be like this, this isn't what you signed up for this constant state of worry about the future, you signed up for the bliss of being here and now, you got everything you've said you wanted for the last five years and even though you knew you take the weather with you wherever you go, you forgot how much it hurts when you wake up in a new land and realize that you're still the same broken person, just with a new address and phone number.

You realized this as you lay in bed last night watching the slash of moonlight move across the carpet for the fourth night in a row, listening to your man pushing air out from between his lips until it became like listening to waves crashing on the shore-really close-a little too close-but you found some comfort in it, in the predictability of it. So you didn't wake him and ask him to roll over-he wasn't keeping you awake, he was keeping you company. And that was a small improvement, a tiny step towards the land of Freedom From Unhappiness.

You woke before dawn with the baby, so wide awake and smiling so hard her face replaced the sun and you could only laugh and say sure, let's be awake together. You nursed her and she fell back to sleep and you got up and got your son up and ready and out the door for the bus. You did your qi gong exercises and noticed that you were thinking ahead while doing them, thinking about the bookcase that needs a second coat of primer, about the cat boxes that need the litter changed, the laundry that needs washed, the floors that need scrubbed, the boxes unpacked, the toilets disinfected-seriously because your mother is coming to visit in two days-and so you made yourself do the exercises again and really feel your body, feel the flow of the movements and the energy building inside of you-again and again until you knew you'd done them right. When you were finished you stood and looked inside and it was light in there, light and buzzing with electricity and something pretty close to harmony. Your energy field felt puffy and big, like it went out around you and wrapped around the couch and the chair and climbed the walls and pushed against the floor and ceiling. You felt almost whole.

You feel a connection with a seed of knowledge that lives inside of you, this tiny grain of truth that you've known intellectually for a long time and have been able to live for short periods of time, but for some reason—the human condition, you think—for some reason you need to re-experience the disconnect from this knowledge in your life over and over again. You need to be shown how much it hurts when you forget that only you can choose to suffer and only you can choose not to.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Sorry. Did I say that out loud?

My blog is the only real writing I'm doing right now and I want to put a little more oomf into it but I'm not sure how to go about doing that. I'm feeling ready to make a leap away from my boring Blogspot template but I haven't a clue how to create a new one like Niki did. I have no friends who know html or web design. Hell, out here I have no friends. Maybe I should purchase a url and come up with a real format and purpose like and Mrs. Kennedy or Daddy. But then again Niki's got lots of format going on and she's still at Blogspot. I'm a bit sad because my comments in all of my archives disappeared due to the comments replacement debaucle I went through a couple of weeks ago. I had such nice comments. Good people came to say hello. Now if or when someone new visits and looks back they'll think What a loser. Noone reads her blog. Which is almost true anyway, there's only about 6 of you who actually visit and stay long enough to read. And I love you like my sister for it. Can you feel the desperation pouring off of me? How pathetic am I? No, really. You can be honest. I can take it. See, I just read a bunch of my archives and am thinking that there's some pretty decent prose in there and that maybe I should just get my ass back to school and get that Creative Writing degree after all, but who the hell does that with a newborn? I'm fantasizing about driving to Cleveland every day and going to $40,000 a year Oberlin to finish my BA and then go on to my MA and getting a great teaching job and work on the novel because I have time and money and finally am tapped in to the creative world by working with students on their writing. Oh. Right. Baby at home. Baby who gives me lots and lots of material. So I blog. But that's not going to pay the bills. Which brings me to MONEY or the lack therof. I spent all my money, honey. I bought a new King sized bed and 400 thread count brushed cotton sheets in a lovely celery and a jacquard cotton duvet cover in a rich plum. I also bought a tractor. I still owe about $1000 in utility/phone/cell/cable/one good credit card bills from NY and only have 1 paycheck left. I am quitting my job for real today and will receive a check in a few weeks for the buy-back of my vacation time. I think it'll be about $500. Hmm. Gotta find some way to make money from home and I'd like nothing more than to get myself a nice newsletter that I can write and design, a monthly gig that pays say, $1500. That'd be just fine. Anyone? I know you can't tell from this blog but I swear I can design-it's what I've done for the past 15 years in the magazine industry. I just don't know how to translate it to the web. Yet. I think I need to learn. I read this great article on Salon that scared the crap out of me. I'm worried that I'm no longer marketable as a designer, that I'm outdated and behind the curve with software. So I should start pushing the envelope with my writing. It's what I enjoy the most anyway. Okay. I talked myself into it. I'm going for it. I'm doing it. Starting now. Really. Now.