Monday, September 29, 2008

Fly Away, Run Away, Get Away

I haven't been writing lately because I've been spending my free time sewing, or hanging out with Eric, or watching Flight of the Conchords.  Or canvassing about Obama.  Or trying not to worry we're headed for the next Great Depression.

That, and I've been stuck in the horrible torture vortex known as "my toddler is two and I want to throttle her."  So I haven't had much nice to say, and this post isn't very nice either.

Somebody please tell Nolie that "Knock knock who's there apple apple peel" is not a funny joke.  Not even after you tell it one hundred times in one day, it's not funny.  In fact, it's less funny then.  Way less funny.

Somebody please tell Nolie that when she comes to me and says "mama I have a pwesent for yew" it's adorable but I know she doesn't really have a present, but just a book that she wants me to read to her.  Technically, that's not really a present for me.  You're not fooling anybody with that one, Nolie.

Somebody please tell Nolie that when she goes nuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhnuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhnuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh
for minutes on end it makes me wish I had joined the army in response to 9/11 instead of procreating.

You can also tell her that I know, I know, that when she's all wiggly at night before bed and we're sitting in the rocking chair and she won't settle down, I know she needs to poop and it completely grosses me out that she won't go on the toilet, but will take a dump in her diaper while sitting on my lap. 

AND, I can feel her pinching me when we're snuggling.  She thinks I don't notice, but I do.  I just won't give her the satisfaction.

And I won't even talk about the way these two fight, Addie and Nolie.  Lord.  What is there to do?

I'm going to D.C.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Head Full of Marbles

I have been so spacy lately.  I find myself staring for long minutes at my computer screen, thinking nothing in particular.  I can drive somewhere, on an errand say, and then have no memory of the drive.  Last night, I put some broccoli on to cook, and forgot to put water in the pan.  I just had to look up how to spell the word "broccoli."  I think I've also misspelled "spacy."  Should it be spacey?  I'm too lazy to look it up.

What the heck?  Some of these things are downright dangerous--especially the driving and the cooking things.  And it's totally unlike me, to be just floating through my days, spending huge chunks of time being unproductive and out to lunch.  Oh, I know this pleases some of you.  You can't keep going like you were, you'll say, or whatever, you have a lot on your plate, give yourself a break.  I'm just saying it's a little unnerving from where I'm sitting.  And I can't quite diagnose the problem.

On the one hand, I am able to do some things.  Like, for example, I've been doing some sewing lately.  I made this cool skirt:

I call it my "distress dress."  There's a lot of de stress in that there dress.

But mostly, I'm just being a freak.

Like, for example, this:

Which was supposed to be Eric's birthday cake, but ended up looking like a Great Dane took a big runny duke on a cake platter.

Happy birthday, sweetie.  Now, unfortunately, you've got a lot of doodoo on your plate.


Friday, September 12, 2008

a chance occurrence

I went to a new place to get my haircut today.  The idea is to not have to take out a second mortgage every time I get my hair done, but as most of you know, I've had one long year of bad haircut after bad haircut, so I had settled into one completely overpriced salon, and was just grinning and bearing it.

But now all this furor over possible layoffs at Eric's work, and so we're scaling back on a bunch of "extras" in case, come Christmastime, the good folks at Eric's work decide to let him go.  That means no traveling to visit family for a while.  That means fewer donations to the Obama campaign.  It means no new house projects.  And it means no more trips to the expensive salon.

So I try a little place by home this time.  A few minutes into the cut and the stylist asks if I work, am a SAHM, what.  I say, yeah, yeah, have two kids, am a working mom, you?  And she says I had three but my little boy--he was three years old--passed away in May, choked on a hot dog at daycare, you probably heard about it on the news.

I had heard about it.  Or Eric told me about it, actually.  I was brushing my teeth one night and he said, hey, did you hear about that kid around here?  He was at daycare and choked on a hot dog and died.  Can you imagine?

I did hear about that, I said.  I don't know what to say, I said.  I'm so sorry.  Tell me about it.

Of course my first instinct was to get out of that chair and run, run away, because my worst fear in the world is of that, of one of my babies dying in some horrible way like that.  Being in close proximity to that kind of grief, the grief of this woman who is otherwise nonchalantly cutting my hair, shampooing my scalp, putting in foils, was terrifying.

I didn't do that, run away, of course.  I talked to her about it, asked questions.  I said I could imagine how hard it must be to have that be in the news, and to have people not want to talk to you anymore because you are the walking incarnation of their very worst fears, and she seemed to appreciate that I did not break down or ignore her or offer platitudes, even though I had to check myself at every moment not to do those things.

But then I got in the car afterwards and cried.  I cried over her going over and over those pictures from the coroner's report of the plate with the hot dog--ripped into big pieces, not cut into small ones--trying to figure out what happened.  I cried about the picture of her three boys, framed in front of me at her station, the littlest one, with the glasses, now gone.  I cried about her older boy's fears and tantrums, and about the middle boy, who sat there at the daycare table while his baby brother choked to death, the daycare lady yakking out in the yard.  I cried about the clients who don't come to her anymore because they can't be near her and her pain, can't look at the picture of those boys while getting some pampering.

Ah, God.  What use are my tears?  What use is it for me to write about it here?  He wasn't my child, my chidlren are safe now, at home with Eric.  I don't know this family.  I just needed a haircut.

But that little boy...gone.  I can't get it out of my head today.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Lesson Late

What is up with my memory? 

An old college friend emailed me out of the blue last week after seeing my profile on MySpace.  "Hey!  How are you?  Remember when you did blahdiblah?  And I did blahdiblah?  And then you threw up?"

But no, I didn't remember any of those things!  I mean, I was delighted to hear from this person, and our conversation jogged a few foggy old memories out of the dusty hiding space they've been stored in, but for the most part, I get the feeling that there are entire swathes of my life history that I have forgotten, or don't understand, or that no longer make sense.

Contrast this with Nancy, who remembers every song lyric every written, every minute of her college years and can recount them with hilarious precision, every friend she's ever had.  Or my grandmother, who claims to remember being a newborn, and can also recall every wrong ever done her.  Ever.

And it's not just my college years.  If it was, I could just explain that by the fact that I was drunk for most of them.  No.  It's huge quantities of my life.  It's people who were dear friends.  Events that shaped who I am.  Decisions made.  If they don't fall into some of the biggest metanarratives I tell about myself, they're gone.  Vanished. 

What the hell?

It's disorienting, this incredible loss of detail.  I mean, to some extent, I think it's probably enabled me to go full speed ahead with everything.  You ask me how I do "it all"--work, mothering, wifing, whatever--and maybe it's this:  maybe I sweep old things, things that aren't being used at the moment, out of my brain, to make way for new, more immediate stuff.  Maybe it's how I deal with pain.  Or maybe it's not such a big deal, nothing quite so deep as all of that.  Maybe I shouldn't worry about it.

Except that I'm starting to miss some of it.  I'm wishing I had my own personal "This Is Your Life" episode, so that I could be reminded of the amazing, wonderful people I've forgotten, and the experiences I've had.  Even the mistakes I've made.

This has been embarrassing at times.  I remember going home to Boise once, in my twenties, and going out dancing with a guy I was dating.  We ran into a bunch of people who clearly knew me, whom I went to college with, one I had even dated.  And I couldn't remember them at all.  Not even a little.  This was a terrible feeling, and I knew they were hurt.  But it just wasn't there. 

I used to keep scrapbooks, pages and pages of prom pictures and love notes and compressed helium balloons.  I threw a bunch away a few years back, wanting to rid myself of reminders of then, the not-me, the not-now.  The rest are in storage somewhere.  But even those contain just bits of stories.

It's not, by the way, that I haven't lived a great life.  I have.  I feel its fullness so much sometimes--am so filled with gratitude--that it's overwhelming.  I feel most of it deeply, live feelingly everyday.  Which is why I often don't take cameras on trips; I want to just be there, be in the moment, and live it, rather than frame each second.

But that leads to this predicament:  an overall sense of well-being and prosperity, and an almost complete lack of detail, relief.  Will I ever get those moments back?  Is there a way to remember again?

I think a big part of it is that I've lost so many friends over the years, from high school, college, grad school....  There has been nobody to reminisce with over these years, nobody to remind me who I was, and to love me or forgive me for it.  It's partly why I'm so envious of all of you who have kept everyone in your life.  Maybe that's been the biggest loss of all:  not the memories, but the connections.  I've gained a lot, moving forward so fast, and have lost tons, too.

Which is also probably why I remember the last seven years better than the 25 before, too.  Because we've been here since 2001, have built friendships and connections, and try to sustain them as best we can.  So memories of me are out there, and my memories are embodied in those around me, and so there is access, and sharing.  A good lesson to learn, but I'm sorry it came so late.

Weird how these things happen, isn't it?  The way the past calls to you when you least expect it?  I'm getting doses and doses lately.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Just What You Wanted To See More of Today

I'm sure every blog on the planet is weighing in on the Sarah Palin thing, and for that reason I wasn't going to be one of them.  I think she's appalling for a number of reasons, but I'm also a bit delighted she's on the ticket because it seems like such a fool move for McCain to make.  I hope I'm not proven wrong.  I often misread these things.

But then this interesting comment posted here at toddlerspit:  "What do you think about a woman with 5 children (one baby) campaigning for VP?? Am I sexist for wondering and worrying. YOU know how difficult it is to give 2 children the attention they need."

Huh.  I hadn't even thought about this.  I mean, I know the down's syndrome kid is in the news, and the pregnant teenager, but I hadn't thought about worrying about those five kids not having access to their mother because she was busy being veep.  Maybe this is for a few reasons:

1)  The woman makes a six-figure salary, on top of whatever her husband makes, and I'm guessing that buys some pretty darned good childcare.  So I'm not so much worried about Sarah Palin's kids.  I am, however, worried about people who can't afford healthcare, daycare, education, etc. for their kids.  Which is why I would never vote for a McCain-Palin ticket.

2)  I have no idea what kind of mother this woman is now, or whether taking this new job will make her worse or better.  Honestly, she seems like some kind of foreign species to me (shooting animals from a helicopter?  Not supporting abortion in cases of rape and incest?).  It seems to me that some leaders throw themselves wholeheartedly into, well, leading, and others don't.  Is she someone who takes a lot of vacations?  Is she nice to her kids?  Does she discipline them?  Does she spend time with them?  All questions I don't know the answers to.  And having those answers probably wouldn't sway my opinion about her as a vice president, anyway. 

3)  Is it sexist to ask that question?  Maybe.  More importantly, I really don't care what kind of mother she is.  Maybe that's silly.  Maybe that's short-sighted.  Do I care what kind of father Barack Obama is?  I guess I wouldn't want us to elect a child molester or draconian taskmaster or something, but when someone is running for high office, you have to know that their families are going to take a hit no matter what.  It's public service.  It's about sacrifice.  Which maybe is why so many of these dummies end up having affairs--they just can't sustain the family lives and close connections they need.  I don't know.  But it's not like their kids are out on the streets, either.  They've got big, big support networks and resources.  See #1.  Mostly I remember that focusing too much on the personal lives of these people really obscures the incredible power they wield to fuck things up (or make things better) for the rest of us who live in the world.

4)  I know there's all sorts of stuff being written about her inexperience, her fiscal ineptitude, her unethical actions in office.  I know that a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters find McCain's choice obscene.  I know the liberal bloggers are supposedly salivating over her family dirt (whatever).  But we're still a long way from November.  Palin's cute.  She's appropriately, appealingly feisty in person.  She's conservative.  Those five kids are going to be worn as badges of honor (just like that teenage kid getting married and having that baby are).  If anything, she'll probably just get the christian right excited, which they weren't so much, over McCain.  And that's probably the point.  I don't think it has anything to do with swing voters, or disillusioned  Hillary supporters, or anything like that.  I think it has to do with images and photo ops.  If those kids deserve any sympathy, maybe it's because they are now empty signifiers, pop-up balloons that flesh out the image of the perky, feisty Palin.  But what political kids aren't?  Fact:  images are powerful.  Fact:  we have to remain vigilant to not be fooled by images.  Fact:  We have some power to redirect the agenda/discussion back toward things that matter and away from this b.s.

5)  I'm way more worried about her retro stances on women's rights, energy policy, and ethical standards in government than about her five children.

So, not dumb questions, or dumb to ask those questions.  Good things to think about.  But the choice of Palin feels pretty much meaningless to me, on many counts.  It's an unsurprising move on McCain's part.  It doesn't change the real work that remains to be done.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The kids' school was closed last week to transition from summer camps to the fall curriculum, and so Eric and I traded off days staying home.  The timing was not ideal, seeing as school for me had just started, and things were (are) coming to a head with my mom, and so on, but then I found myself settling into it and enjoying it anyway.  I took the kids swimming every day, then left them in the Y daycare for an hour or so and swam laps or lifted weights myself.  Then home for lunch and quiet time, then afternoons playing outside or at a friends' house, or just hanging out. 

My school stays open on Labor Day, so I'm back at work today while Eric stays home.  Their school starts tomorrow.  I reminded the girls of this last night on the way home from a friend's birthday party, just to mentally prepare them.  "No AmyGabby day!  No AmyGabby day!" yelled Nolie from the backseat (Amy and Gabby are her teachers, amazing, loving women both).  Addie joined in, "No fall school!  No fall school!"

I can't blame them, really.  We had a lovely week, and when Eric and I are both back at work full time, everything is just busier and the kids, frankly, don't get as much attention from us.  We're both pretty well fried when we get home, and it's hard to transition from work-head to home-head.

I have to also remember they both like school, love seeing their friends, and learning, and love their teachers, mostly.  They're thriving in that environment.  We devote weeknights and weekends to them almost exclusively--tired as we might be.  So they're surrounded by love and good things.

That said, I like having these days home with them, and plan to do more of it.  Last year, they were in daycare no matter what--even when we had to pay extra to cover the days their school was closed--because my work felt so hectic and important (geez).  This year, I'll just be taking those days off and feeling thankful for them.

Anyway, a boring post.  You're wondering how my mom is, and how I am.  I'm feeling enormous gratitude for the circle of friends and coworkers who have agreed to call me everyday and hug me and send me their loving thoughts.  I'll write more about all of that when I'm ready.  For now, I'm just back at work and missing my kids.