Archive for August, 2006

Shut Y’er Pie Hole

I don’t know when, or how, I will learn that saying less is better.  I am entirely too much at ease with saying exactly what I think.  I feel like I am respectful of others, probably to a fault.  But I am realizing, as I approach my twenty-ninth year on this planet, a very hard truth:  I talk too much.

I feel like I blew it today, thanks to my mouth and my “opinions”.  Damn them.  It is like they have a life of their own.  Most people can be the listener and the advice taker - me, I have to be the talker, the jabbity-jabber.  GAWD!  I am so mad at myself.

I am talking to the best school in Nashville about getting my son in for next year.  We have just had to admit that (at the risk of sounding like every other parent under the sun) our son is, maybe not so much “gifted”, as he is complex.  He is just not hangin’ in at the public school.  He is bored and, quite frankly, has already figured out the teacher’s m.o. for the year and is ready to conquer it.  I don’t want to see him tread down a path of boredom and destruction so I am looking around to see what our options are for getting him into a school where, hopefully, the other kids will be as “complex” and gifted and he very well might be “average” (oooooh, how sweet that sounds..). 

But, thanks to my gift of gab, I talked the women’s ear off.  I did listen.  I did.  But, I also disagreed with her on some points and, apparently, I should have just nodded and smiled.  Now that I think about it, I didn’t talk too much, I just said too much.  There’s a difference in that… Ok. Wow. So, the truth is this: I don’t talk too much, I just can’t disagree with someone and not speak up.  That’s my real problem.  There I admitted it.  I can’t keep my damned opinions to myself even if my son’s future academic state depends on it.  What is the matter with me!?!?  For pete’s sake.  This is nuts. 

Thank goodness we have one more shot for me to make an impression.  We have a tour next week of the school.  My husband will be there so maybe, just maybe, I will let him take the lead and cool my jets.  God.  I don’t know if I can do it.  Just the thought is making me twitchy.  No.  I’ll find a higher power.  I’ll wear a rubber band around my wrist and whenever I feel my loud mouthed opinionated self rearing up, I’ll just snap my wrist.  I have a feeling that I won’t end up with anything but a bloody wrist, though.  Geesh.  I’m hopeless.  A lost cause.. What will I do??

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Miraculous Encounters of The Mommy Kind

Something that I never thought would happen HAS!  I have met a group of mothers that I don’t feel completely frightened by.  They don’t wear “workout clothes” (pajamas) everywhere they go.  Even though they adore their children, they don’t find it necessary to brief those around them on the inner workings of their kids’ digestives sytems or mental/behavioral advancement.  They don’t have cars that could house twenty when they only have one child.  They don’t talk about their husbands as if they were talking about their fathers.  They don’t sing retarded “clean up” songs with a crazy, jack nicholson look on their face.  They don’t look you up and down, with menacing judgement, when you hand your kid a quarter at 8am to get m&m’s from the gumball machine just so you can have a two minute conversation with the person selling coffee.  They don’t resent their families because they “gave up the career” or they can’t be themselves anymore……. Au contraire… They are women who have kids - not just moms.  Before you lash out - let me say, I think that being a mom is super incredible in itself.  It is the best job in the world blah blah blah.. Of course I think that, silly - I am one, afterall.  Just let me vent.  If you don’t think most parents are crazy weird, then stop reading.

Until now, it has been a steady flow of coridial acquaintance-ships - I can only think of two mothers, up to now, that have made me feel like I could be upfront and honest.  One is my age and has three kids and we pull together when we can.  The other is a little older with two kids and lives far, far away in boston.  So, I know it’s not an age issue - just a personality thing, I guess.  I have met young mothers my age who, well, have sort of cashed it in.  And the other mothers - they are great but they are usually in their forties or fifties and while I appreciate them, I just usually don’t have a lot in common with them other than the child factor. And even that is barely “in common” - they are usually the ones that have very weird rituals that you know they got from a parenting book or from Barney the Purple Dinosaur.  Maybe one of my faults is that I treat my kids a little too much like grown ups but, COME ON, every instruction you give them doesn’t have to be sugar coated with a song and a reward and a creepy grin of superior parenting skills, does it??? And, as someone who has a majority of other things, besides my beloved kids, that make me me, well - it’s nice to find others who like to talk about something besides poop and cradle cap.  And, just as I was starting to think it didn’t exist, I stumbled upon it and found that it is everything I ever thought it would be. 

So, yes, we will talk about our children - because that is, afterall, what mommies do - but on a very frequent occassion we will let the conversation wander away from them into other things.  We will talk about the books we are writing, the paintings we have sold, the sculptures we are having a hard time finishing because we don’t want to tear ourselves away from our babies, the concerts we will be giving, the research grants we are applying for, the graduate program that is kicking our ass.  We will make martini dates and go out dressed just as cutely as the other non-child, twenty eight year old- thirty year olds in the room - even if we are secretly thinking that the 19year old girls across the room should be at home, in bed, at this hour and, quite frankly, dressed a little more modestly.  We will make lunch dates at the indian buffet with our munchkins and make fun of the frat guys who are just there to watch the racey indian music videos they play all day.  We’ll talk on the phone.  We’ll go on day trips.  We’ll go on walks.  It will be heaven.  I feel like I have just walked into a fictitious, fairytale land where jogging suits or prada diaper bags or scary sing-song discipline are forbidden.  Sigh…. Let the good times roll.

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Making Room

A year or so ago, my husband and I had a long (weeks long) conversation about how to get past being moderately satisfied with your position (in every aspect) to becoming truly satisfied and fulfilled.  We set out on a journey, five years ago, that put us through much, unforseen struggle.  Being artists, we knew it was going to be hard but we really had NO idea.  Several years later we are doing really well - there is stability and satisfication in just about every realm of our life (knock wood, knock wood, knock wood).  What we can now see (god bless hindsight) is that the change (from struggling/ but still moderately happy to feeling in control and damn happy) happened because we, responsibly, made room.  That conversation that I mentioned was specifically about pinpointing the things that, although might be paying the bills, were not conducive to getting ahead.  The two major instances were me working during the day.  I wasn’t working at a job I particularly loved or wanted to make a career out of - but it had benefits, so we stuck it out.  My paycheck basically went to the nanny.  My husband juggled five different adjunct professor positions at five different Universities and several night time/weekend community education programs.  It was random, at best, and only moderately reliable but it too paid the bills.  What are jobs WEREN’T doing were allowing us to say “yes” to other opportunities or projects that might lead to other opportunities.  We were quickly becoming that statistic of American families that work but don’t really live.  So, very responsibly (we do have two kids to think about), we started culling the things we could and then made big changes altogether.  And, even though it is about making room, it is also about making a decision.  Not being aware that you could be doing more with your life is an easy trap to fall into and we almost did.  Being aware that you could be happier and not doing anything at all is even worse. 

I totally don’t mean to lecture - but now that I have reread what I have written I realize that is what it sounds like.  I am, really, only thinking outloud.  It is that time, for me, again.  Time to cull the things holding me back and embrace the things that will get me to my next step: graduate school.  And it’s not just graduate school.  It is getting my son into a better school.  It is getting my husband into better galleries.  It is finding a home to buy.  All my bemoanings about time this past week have been because I am at the beginning of a new journey and I guess I am feeling impatient.  I just have to take a step and a breath and make some room for all that I hope is coming next. 

Posted in Communication, School and Learning, Daily Living, Mental Environment | No Comments »

Reconciling My Stressed Relationship With Time

Our weekend without the kids was a huge blast!  We did get home, though, and spend the first few hours wandering around the house smelling their pillows and folding and refolding their clothes (ok ok, I did.  John just looked at me like I was crazy). But once we looked around and realized that we were autonomous being again, we hit the road with an energy that we haven’t had in years.  Several margaritas and movies later we found ourselves back home idly anticipating the kids’ return.  What I realized (and what is impossible to realize unless you have children) is that there is a LOT of time in the day that gets wasted if you spend it being all about you.  I can honestly say that I never realized how much time I wasted when I was a single college student - I felt like I was hard working.  And I guess I was for that time in my life.  Having kids, though, sets a new standard for your relationship with time and space and energy.  You cross a threshold that puts you into an almost superhuman league of being able to get things done with time to spare.  Most days, yes, I feel exhausted and overwhelmed but, without that, I’ve realized that I don’t feel like I am accomplishing much these days.  I can really say that life is better when you are living it for others as much as you are living it for yourself.  Otherwise, it just seems like a lot of wasted time.

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Wanting to Be Something Else

I am having a bit of a weird thing.  I want to ride bikes with my kids.  I want to be in graduate school, now, not a year from now.  I want to be fit again.  I want to read as much as I used to.  I want to eat better.  I want to have more time. more time. more time.  Where has all my time gone???

I have never found myself in a situation where I really, truly, can’t change or go with an urge - I simply don’t have time to think about it beyond, well, just THINKING about it.  How frustrating.

What do you do when you just can’t fit anymore in??  Do you take something out to make room?  I can’t imagine what I could take out.  We have no tv. We use our computers only for work.  There isn’t much wasted time, is my point.  I guess I just start cramming it in and maybe the laws of physics and time and space will change and I will be able to fulfill my urges to be a better version of me. 

Posted in Healthy Living, Mental Health | 1 Comment »

Anticipation… Anticipa-yay-tion

Remember that weekend sans children that we got dooped out of a couple of weeks ago.  Well, this weekend, we will get our due.  The disappointment stung, yes, when we had it swiped right out from under us.  And, yes, there was the promise of another weekend, but we figured it was just too good to be true.  But, it is NOT.  This weekend, my beautiful in-laws are taking the kids on a grandkid beach party to celebrate the rebuilding of the new beach house (the old one was destroyed by a hurricane).

And, in true mother form, now that I have gotten what I want - I am totally remiss about it.  Don’t get me wrong, the idea of spending the weekend with my husband (sleeping in, going to movies, having friends over past 9pm) sounds decadently glorious BUT I will admit that now that it is a reality, the fact that they will be out of my bubble of protection for three days is kind of freaking me out.  I trust my in-laws completely and know they will be safe.  But, that irrational frame of mind that apparently comes with pregnancy can’t shake the feeling that this weekend will be the weekend that a meteor hits Earth or that aliens will invade or god knows what else.. I tried talking to my non-parental friends about it.  Big mistake.  They looked at me like I was crazy (which I may be) and all agreed that my uber-paranoia is a sign that I needed a weekend away from them a LONG time ago.  Putzes.  All of them - putzes.  I told them that when they have kids I am going to laugh at them the first time they cry when leaving a kid at a playdate or any other irrational thing that you feel after you bear children.  Because, let’s face it, you open up a whole other spectrum of emotions when you have kids.  Sure, they might be crazy emotions, but somehow, they make sense to you and to anyone else you know who has kids.

Posted in Parenting, Concerns and Expectations | No Comments »

So Guess Who The New Cub Scout Asst. Den Leader Is?

Yup.  Go ahead.  Call me a sucker.

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Snub Scouts

The Cub Scouts have started recruiting at my child’s school. I am not sure what to make of it.  I feel as if I have to take his post-brainwashing session postcard, inviting him to be part of the “fun” and burn it.  They are invading his school in a very communistic stlye propaganda type way that frightens me…. all this talk about team work and god and working for the “pack”.  hmph.  This is the part of me that doesn’t work well with being a mother - damn my inherent nonconformist thread.  I promise I have tried to shake it all my life (sort of) - to be aprt of a group of people who seem really happy teaming up against the world - but the reality is it all scares me silly.  And I decided several years ago that anyone using god as a front will eventually find a way to exclude others who aren’t of the same ilk from the group.  Case in point:  gay troop leader who had devoted most of his life to boyscouting getting kicked out as a leader because it was discovered he was gay.  Pardon me for being skeptical and for not forgiving and fogetting, but that right there is a big point against scouting for me. 

But my son is so excited about it.  It has been all he has talked about for days.  Dilemma.  Do I swallow my “issues” and let him figure out if that is the life for him?  Do I protest because it is an institution that, several years ago, projected utterly blantant discrimination toward a group of people that make up the majority of the people my son and I know and love.  What does a good parent do in this situation? Really I don’t mean to get political - I am just having a bit of a quagmire here. 

I guess the thing to do is take him to the meeting myself and ask a lot of questions and see what it’s all about before I cast judgement.  I don’t want to be discriminatory, even toward a discriminating institution.  I will focus on the people involved here and not the institution itself - because, if I have learned anything in my miniscule thirty years on this planet, it is that an institutions beliefs have little to nothing to do with that of the majority of its members.  Geez, maybe I should just turn off my overly-analytical switch and let my kid be a kid.  For goodness sakes, it’s just the cubscouts.  It’s just making pinewood derby cars and camping and fishing. Right?

Posted in Daily Living, Mental Environment, Social Justice | No Comments »

Making It

There are times in everyone’s life, I think, when they question if the path they are on is the right one.  Having a calling in life - like being an artist, a teacher, a writer or anything of the sort - begins to dictate to you how you live and what you strive for.  It’s hard to say that we aren’t getting there. Personally, I am much closer now that I was a year ago - but there are still days when I wonder why I just don’t give up and try to live a simple and calm life instead of the one that I was born unto.  Some days my husband and I will look at each other and wish that the urge to create would subside - it is, beautifully, out of our control though.  So, when I get exhausted and feel like the ideas in my head are taking me nowhere, I become elated to read things like todays Writer’s Almanac

It was on this day in 1955 that Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita was first published (books by this author). It’s the story of Humbert Humbert, a European who falls in love with a twelve-year-old American girl.

Nabokov started thinking about the novel when he was still a new immigrant to the United States, struggling to support his wife and son as a professor of Russian and English literature. He began working seriously in the summer of 1951, while he and his wife drove to Colorado in their Oldsmobile station wagon. He said he loved writing in the car because it was the quietest place in America. The following winter, he began doing research on young girls, traveling on city buses to learn current slang, writing down popular song titles and phrases from teen magazines and Girl Scout manuals. As he grew more and more excited about the book, he was miserable that he had to do anything else. He wrote to his friend, Edmund Wilson, “I am sick of teaching, I am sick of teaching, I am sick of teaching.”

He finished the novel in 1953, but when he sent the draft to friends, most of them were horrified, and told him that he could never publish it. It was rejected by all the major publishing houses in the United States, so he finally had it brought out anonymously in France by a publisher who specialized in pornography. He played around with different titles, including “The Kingdom by the Sea,” but in the end the novel was called Lolita (1955). He later said that the novel was, in part, about his love affair with the English language.

After a few years of controversy, it was published in the United States in 1958, and went on to become a best-seller and a movie. Nabokov had put off writing it for so many years partly because he was afraid that it wouldn’t make any money, but in the end it was the success of Lolita that allowed him to retire from teaching. He moved with his wife to Switzerland and spent the rest of his life writing novels in the top floor of a luxurious hotel.

I don’t suspect I will ever find myself atop a fancy hotel in the Alps writing my days away, but there is hope in hearing something like this.  And, sometimes, it’s that thread of hope that urges one to become.

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Love is a Many Freakish Thing

My brother finds himself in love.  It’s weird, once you’ve been there yourself, to see someone you know so well sucumb to the utterly miserable beauty that falling in love is.  I can remember it so clearly - the days of wondering if the feeling is mutual, everyone playing it cool so as not to scare the other off with the fact that- if you could have it your way - you would be on the phone or face to face 24hours a day with that person, or the feeling that you don’t need to eat or drink or sleep - you only need to be with that other person to be satiated.  God, I am so glad I am not there anymore. It almost feels like a sickness - but one that leads to, possibly, the greatest experience of your life.  

When I met my husband I was skeptical of all things good.  Granted, I had my reasons, but still I was pretty much in denial that anything good could come from being around a boy for any extended length of time.  We were such good friends to begin with that the fact that I was hopelessly in love with him totally crept up on me.  I can remember waking up one day, and almost as clearly as realizing that I had to go pee, I realized that I never wanted to spend a day apart from him for the rest of my life.  Then, the normal panic ensued and I began to act like I didn’t care - weird defense mechanisms we have, huh?  He was feeling it too but neither one wanted to anti up.  Thank god we came to our senses and stopped the madness.  We were married a year later and, now, we just ache when we see anyone we know trying to break down those barriers.  It’s hard, I think, for us to admit that we need someone sometimes.  It’s even harder to allow yourself to potentially be rejected.  So I’ll just sit and wait and watch and be as loving and supportive to my brother as I can.  It sure ain’t gonna be pretty to watch, but hopefully the outcome will be everything he has dreamed it could be.

Posted in Dating, Daily Living | No Comments »

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