Thursday, August 28, 2014

I need a ladder. Or maybe just a hand up.

A case of the mean reds. That's what I've got. Holly Golightly explains it as a feeling of being afraid, but not knowing what you're afraid of. Or, in my case, a general feeling of anxiety for no damn good reason. Overwhelmed. Underwhelmed. Just flat out whelmed.

M gets annoyed when I can't explain why I'm crying, why I'm upset. The fact that I can't pinpoint it just makes me more upset. It's a vicious cycle. I told him that I feel like I'm at the bottom of a deep hole. I can look up and see the light. I know it's up there. I just can't climb out.

Maybe it's that I'm so busy at work I feel like I'm drowning. I skipped lunch today simply because I worked right through it. (Those of you who know me well know that I do not miss meals. Ever.) M has been insanely busy this week, gone in the morning before we get up and missing a few evenings this week, and working late into the night when he is home. This has left most parenting to me, which is hard, people. Zoe has 30-45 minutes of homework a night now, which thankfully she mostly finishes at after care. I still have to check it, help her find/correct mistakes, and help her study for spelling tests, math quizzes, and other exams. I find that I enjoy doing this with her, which is maybe a throwback to how much I enjoyed school myself. Anyway, with that and dinner and getting her ready for bed and cleaning up the house a bit and laundry and paperwork it all just takes time and when there's no one to share the responsibilities it gets so a girl is flat busted tired at the end of the day.

I was looking forward to the three-day weekend, until I remembered that we have, as usual, jammed it full of stuff. No rest for the weary.

I know I will get through it. I always do. Sometimes, though, the top of the hole just seems so very far away.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Keep Writing

When you compose an email in Yahoo, and then click it closed without sending it, the software gives you three options: save, delete, and keep writing.

It's that third that I keep getting stuck on.

I've basically written the same email three times tonight, but then chicken out and click it closed. I choose "delete" each time. But "keep writing" is kind of stuck in my head. I'm not thinking there's some sign from God there, it's Yahoo after all, but maybe it's a little nudge. Just keep writing.

The email isn't inflammatory or anything. It's just a question to which I'm not sure I want the answer. Which is why I keep closing the message without sending it.

It's kind of like this: I can't ask someone if they've thought of something, because by asking them I'll necessarily make them think of it. Or something like that. I don't know. It's logical in my head.

I can't sleep. It's 2:23 a.m. and I'm sitting in my dark office banging away on keys and not making much sense.

I wrote a whole post last night that I let marinate for a day. Made some edits tonight, and posted it. Then M read it and questioned whether I should have posted it and since he's typically a lot smarter than I am I took it down. I wasn't going to, but then I couldn't sleep and I realized I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about his reaction (or rather, how he was worried about someone else's reaction, whom I don't even know visits this space any more...which is the conundrum...how do I find out who's coming here and who isn't?) and so I got up and pulled it. And replaced it with something far lighter.

Which is fine but shallow. There is so much going on, far below the surface, and that's the stuff I want to write about. Or rather, post about. It's written. I just don't know if it's appropriate to share.

So I just keep writing.

Recycle bin reckoning

Don’t judge me by my recycle bin.

Monday is trash day, which means by Sunday night the trash cans and recycle bin are just about overflowing. Everything is right up at the top where you can see it. And smell it.

Sunday afternoon I pulled out the kitchen combo unit that holds both the trash can and the recycle bin, and I was thankful that no one else could see what I could see. It would have been mortifying. So of course I’ll share it here with you.

It was a snapshot, and not a very flattering one:


  • Kraft macaroni & cheese box
  • Diet Coke can
  • Vodka bottle


  • There was also organic milk carton, which I think hope will keep me from earning “Lazy Alcoholic Mother of the Year.”

    And I didn’t mix the vodka with the Diet Coke. I mixed it with Bloody Mary mix. Because that sounds so much better.

    Also, I didn’t drink the Bloody Marys alone. M enjoyed them also. So clearly we’re like some sort of dynamic duo of parenting.

    It was just one of those things that struck me as funny, especially since the only time we’ve had empty vodka bottles in the recycle bin are after huge parties at which I drink beer and M drinks gin & tonics and apparently many of our guests enjoy the vodka.

    This really isn’t making us sound more responsible, is it?

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

    And with that, I'm going to bed.

    I just spent an hour writing an insanely long post that is so damn inflammatory that I don't think I can post it. I mean, yeah, I've already spouted off about finding my voice and standing up...but this one, I think, goes a little too far.

    I have a test before I publish something. I think, "What would M say?" I can just see him reading the post, then looking at me over the iPad. "Yeah. No, you can't publish that." Sigh.

    So. What have I been up to when I wasn't here?

    I turned 41.

    I sauntered through a 5k mud run. And got really, really muddy.

    My grandmother fell, dislocating and fracturing her shoulder.

    Another neurologist appointment for Mom.

    The faculty came back to work, and I presented to them. And I didn't pee in my pants while I was on the stage and behind the mic, like I thought I might.

    I worked on planning for our Girl Scouts meetings this year.

    Took Zoe to the doctor for an infection near her ear.

    Discovered, and fell in love with, Doctor Who. The Ninth one.

    Dentist appointment.

    Software training.

    Watched night after night of riots continue in Ferguson, wondering if they're really accomplishing anything.

    We were tagged to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. And we did. And we challenged others, and they did.


    It's all been good (except for the fall)(and the software training). I'm a little stuck in my head right now, trying to figure out how to express myself without pissing people off. And before you go all, "Do it, girl! Be yourself!" keep in mind that I really don't want to lose friends, loved ones, or my job. I'm really quite fond of all three, so I have to tow the line somewhat. Although it feels a bit like I'm betraying myself. Even though I know that relationships are more important than being right. Yes, I realize that with that very statement I'm being preachy and judgmental, and ironically, my unpublished post is all about calling out people for being preachy and judgmental.

    Ain't none of us perfect, none of the time.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    All I can do

    Ferguson burns. Tear gas and rubber bullets and hate. The rest of the county is on edge, because it hits a little too close to home. Most of us have ties to Ferguson. We were born there, grew up there, still have family there. Many of us have ties to cops, and know how much their families worry when they have to go into unpredictable situations where nothing makes sense. Because really, what's going on up there doesn't make sense at all. Civic leaders and even the boy's parents are calling for peaceful demonstrations, patience to let justice work, and yet...and yet people devolve into their most base selves, channeling groupthink and blind rage and valuing stolen candy over community, ignoring their better angels who whisper, "This. This is wrong."

    A world-class humorist died, taken by his own hand. The person who brought laughter to so many others couldn't, in the end, make himself laugh when he needed it most. "What does he have to be depressed about?" That's not how depression works. At all. I have felt first-hand the pain of suicide, of feeling the world's loss of such tremendous talent. So much to give, so much to lose. This reminds me of my own experience, all those years ago.

    Fundamentalist assholes half a world away insist that their way is the only way, that everyone else must bow to their beliefs and if not, you'll be killed. Or even if so, you'll be killed. As if it's a sport, as if their souls won't be stained by the blood of the innocent, as if they won't rot in whatever kind of hell their religion has laid out.

    A professional race car driver known for his temper hit and killed a young driver in a sprint car race. People are arguing on the internet. He did it intentionally. It was an accident. You can hear him rev his engine right before he hit the kid. That kid shoulda never got out of his damn car on a hot track. Round and round. 

    I went to bed last night unaware of what was going on in Ferguson, and never dreaming that Robin Williams would take his own life or that CNN would show a photo of a grinning young boy holding the severed head of a man his parents told him was "the enemy"or that people can rush to judgment about people they've never met based on a few highly publicized actions.

    I hate not having the answer, not knowing what I should do, much less what we should do. It makes me feel small, insignificant, powerless.

    But then I realized that I can only do what I can do, which is show as much love and patience and acceptance as I possibly can, even when it's hard. Stop judging. Start loving.

    Today was rough. The media (both social and traditional) was filled with so much negativity. I want my Sunday night back, where my biggest problem was my kid begging me to read her yet another chapter of Little House on the Prairie before she went to bed. Ignorance is bliss.

    However, I know that those who do not learn history (and all this is history in the making) are doomed to repeat it. So I must continue to watch and listen, even when it's hard, even when it doesn't make sense. And above all, I must continue to love. My heart breaks for the parents of the boy killed in Ferguson. Doesn't matter how it happened or whether he "asked for it." There are two parents up there who have outlived their child, which is just about the worst tragedy I can imagine. My heart breaks for the parents of the sprint car driver killed. My heart breaks for the people facing the unrelenting, irrational rage of ISIS, who have watched their families decimated and who live in fear. My heart breaks for the people who knew and loved Robin Williams, who are questioning themselves right now, wondering if there was something they could have done.

    I pray for all of these people, and anyone suffering in our world tonight. It's all I can do.

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Karma. Bitch. Yup.

    This morning M and I had a conversation that involved whether or not he should wear cologne. He used to wear cologne, in college. He smelled gooood, ladies. And then, once we became an official item, he stopped wearing it. Forever. "I don't have anyone to impress," he'd say with a smile. In fact, he said those very words again this morning.

    Having cleaned out my drawers and closet yesterday, I found his old bottle of cologne. That's what kickstarted the conversation. I tried, unsuccessfully, to convince him to wear it again. "You don't have to wear Drakkar Noir. We can find you something else. You know, something...current." He declined, again with his charming smile and quiet persistence that since he's no longer on the market, he doesn't need to impress anyone.

    He went off to Home Depot (railroad ties!) and I started on his side of the closet. Which is when it happened.

    I dropped a 20-year-old bottle of Drakkar Noir in our closet.

    Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

    This is reminiscent of the guy in high school who doused himself in cologne between every class, until the day he dropped the bottle and shattered it and damn near caused a hazmat crisis in the sophomore hall.

    Needless to say, I no longer want my husband to wear cologne. Maybe because we're both gonna smell like we're wearing it for the next couple years.

    Long live Drakkar Noir.

    Saturday, August 09, 2014

    Pre-Birthday Musings

    Tonight, whilst discussing my upcoming birthday, M said, "Oh, just go buy some stuff." This was after he tried to pass off both the new train track and its railroad ties as my birthday gift. After gently persuading him that this was not a good idea, he decided that it would be much easier for both of us if I shopped for myself.

    This, my friends, could be dangerous.

    I hit Amazon, where I remembered that I had two things in my shopping cart from earlier this week. A green Moleskine notebook has now been ordered, along with a Dr. Who box set and some sneakers. The sneakers aren't really part of my gift. I need them anyway and hey, free shipping.

    Then, just to mess with him because he does things like try to give me train track for my birthday, I did a search for "cat." I said, "Hey...I wonder if I can buy a cat on Amazon!" He furrowed his brow and started glaring, which made the exercise even more awesome. He could gold medal in glaring, I think. Here are my results:

    Cat Toys, Cat Houses & Condos, Cat Activity Trees, Cat Brushes, Men's Boots.

    Huh? First of all, I think Cat Houses & Condos could be combined with Cat Activity Trees. That would be much more efficient. Come to think of it, what's the difference between a Cat House and a Cat Condo? Aren't the Humans doing all the maintenance anyway? And aren't they already living in a multi-person community? Why aren't there Cat Vacation Rentals? In London, are they called Cat Flats?

    Secondly, Men's Boots? That cracked me up. Amazon, I love you.

    Then I saw the first suggestion below and was intrigued. Human-to-Cat Translator. The possibilities are endless. I could now be sure Tachi understands me when I plead "For the love of God, please stop barfing" and that Max would surely get it when I yell at 3 a.m. "Shut the fuck up you asshole cat!"

    However, this would mean that M and I would have to stop using the voices we made up for the cats years ago, creating whole personae that typically involve insulting each other, demanding ridiculous things, and singing current pop tunes off key while substituting the cats' names for actual lyrics. Sometimes Tachi does complicated math in her head, but only when M is speaking for her. When I speak for her, she rhymes in iambic tetrameter. Max demands meatloaf on a regular basis. When Zoe's not around they curse like sailors. Not that we need to use the cats to do that, but it's just extra funny to hear it in their voices.

    I really didn't know where this post was going when I started writing it. I just wanted to point out how weird it was to find "Men's Boots" at the end of that list of suggestions from Amazon. And then my brain took over.

    I want to get something really, really strange for my birthday. Something that I never knew I needed until wham, I saw it, and then I knew I must have it. Something out of character for me, but life-changing. I don't really know how to search for that, though. Amazon, unlike Google, does not have a search feature called "I'm feeling lucky." Maybe M was onto something when he suggested the railroad ties. I can't think of any 41-year-old woman I know who would totally dig railroad ties as a birthday gift.

    That's it. We're totally hitting the lumber department at Home Depot tomorrow.

    Edit: I know what I want. I want a writing shed. Seriously. Those things are the shit. I read about a writer who has one, and about another woman who built one both for herself and to host small writing workshops. So I just googled "writing shed." Oh. My. Goodness. Google, apparently, is just as dangerous as WebMD, only in a different way (i.e. it invokes feelings of lust instead of holy-shit-I'm-dying-from-multiple-rare-diseases feelings). I'm smitten. We need more land. 

    Edit 2: M just found a YouTube video of some guys who built a go-cart for riding abandoned railroad lines. Now I want one of those. Add YouTube to the list of dangerous websites.

    Tuesday, August 05, 2014

    Traditions

    I started a tradition with Zoe a few years ago where she takes selfies every morning that M is out of town, then I text them to him. I thought it would be a way for him to get a daily dose of Zo even when he's halfway around the world. She, of course, took the idea and made it her own. She does one "regular" selfie, then one "silly" photo. She revels in coming up with new goofy faces to make.

    M went into work early again today, so she missed him by the time she got up. We called him on the way to gymnastics camp, and after she hung up she made her selfies. He's not traveling, but she didn't see him at all yesterday and only for about an hour today, so it sorta feels like he's gone.

    I love that we have this tradition, and that on any given day I can scroll through the vast photo archives on my phone and crack up laughing at her many faces. Plus, I'm thinking I have plenty of fodder for the graduation slideshow, the wedding slideshow...


    Today's images are particularly good.
    This girl kills me.

    Monday, August 04, 2014

    Extraordinary

    Today would have been a fairly ordinary day, except for...

    The guy in the back of a moving truck, with the door open, hanging on to a big stuffed couch or chair like he had any role in keeping it from bouncing out into traffic.


    The four-hour conference call that ended with the people on our end of the line making shadow puppets in the projector beam.

    Convincing Zo to practice her piano while I vacuumed, thereby rendering what is normally a mundane household chore actually enjoyable.

    Attending a meeting tonight with four extraordinary women, who manage to crack open their hearts and share so much in the span of two hours that I am continually blown away. They offer perspective, laughter, tears, compassion and love. And tonight, one of them offered me the most adorable video of an armadillo playing with a toy. The kicker? His name is Rollie.

    I love armadillos. I can't help it. They are such odd creatures, and I love how when they run around their upper body doesn't move at all while their spindly legs jerk back and forth with ferocity. And now that I know they like to play? Well, let's just say I know what my next pet should be.

    (Kidding, M! Just kidding! Stop breathing in the paper bag.)

    So, I shall share this gift with you:


    You're welcome.


    Sunday, August 03, 2014

    Today's Lesson: Avoid the Market When Angry

    I should know better. I should know not to go grocery shopping when I'm pissed off. I mean, it's one thing to go grocery shopping when you're hungry, but it's just as bad to angrily push a cart through the store. Sam's Club set me off, by making me wait 15 minutes in the return line only to explain that I wouldn't get the tax back I paid because it's tax-free weekend, and even though my receipt shows I bought these items during the regular tax season, and paid tax, their stupidass system - for this weekend only - cannot process tax either in or out. I'll have to go back again, and presumably wait another 15 minutes, to get all the money back I paid. (Yo, Sam's Club...figure out what Target is doing and freakin' replicate it. It's obviously not that hard.)

    Before you get all judgy about my first-world problems (yes, I recognize them for what they are), let me also explain that I haven't had a decent night's sleep in over a month, so I'm running on fumes these days and have a fuse that's about a millimeter long, if that. Yes, I have a plan to fix it. I am heading to the doctor to beg for Ambien, or, failing that, will instruct M to beat me about the head with a blunt object until I pass out.

    Also, I was supposed to vacuum my house today, but I didn't, because I was too busy hauling crap into Sam's, waiting for 15 minutes, having a five minute discussion about the Sam's register system, hauling the crap back out to my car, then returning to Sam's to shop. So the floors in my house remain disgusting, which pisses me off even more.

    So, from there I went grocery shopping, frustration level already high.

    What was supposed to end up in my cart:
    • Fruits
    • Vegetables
    • Lean meats
    What ended up in my cart:
    • Chocolate doughnuts
    • Powdered sugar doughnuts
    • Chocolate cake with caramel drizzle mix
    • 2 cans of Spaghettios
    • Mr. & Mrs. T Bloody Mary mix
    • Mr. & Mrs. T Spicy Blood Mary mix
    • Vodka
    My plan? If I drink enough Bloody Marys I won't give a crap if my floors are disgusting. And I just might sleep better, too.

    Saturday, August 02, 2014

    Track. Good, good track

    videoIt works! It's aliiiiiiive! (Use your best Frankenstein voice.)

    I am simultaneously giddy with happiness that our freakin' yard train finally freakin' works, and also highly amused about what people driving by must think when they see a grown man riding around and around in a train in his front yard.

    Women I know ask why I allow this. It's because the amusement never ends.

    The answer to the big vacation FAQ

    People keep asking me what was the best part of our vacation. At first glance, it should be an easy question to answer. We saw four national parks, a few monuments, gorgeous scenery, historic places. We rode a narrow gauge train pulled by an actual steam engine, for Pete's sake. We saw a miraculous staircase. I mean, I guess I'd have to choose among all these fantastic places and that might make it more difficult. We had a good time with some wonderful people, with lots of laughter, and ate a boatload of really great food.

    But really, there's one night that stands out. And not necessarily because of what we saw or what we did, but because of what we shared.

    We were driving, just the two of us, from Loveland to Grand Junction. We had gotten off late after a leisurely morning with the couple with whom we had stayed. M had detailed the car and talked shop with Rick, while I caught up with Chris as we cleaned up breakfast. We took off with nothing but a few scenic byways and Grand Junction in our sights. We navigated with an actual map, instead of using the car's navigation system, and we didn't get lost, which is amazing in and of itself given that I was the main person reading the map. It was a gorgeous day, so we had the lid off. We kind of wandered our way towards our evening's stay, which was really just a waypoint until we got to the good stuff the next day: Arches National Park in Moab, Utah.

    After all our scenic driving and a stop for dinner, we were on a fairly busy highway in the dark, cruising toward Grand Junction. The lid was back on, and we were talking. Just the kind of relaxed, laid back conversation that so rarely happens when a couple is married, working full time, and raising a child. Most of our conversations these days revolve around sports practice schedules and game times, meeting obligations, what needs to get done around the house and what we feel like making for dinner.

    But that night, we didn't have to talk about any of that. We could talk about whatever we wanted. And what we talked about was M's time in the oil fields. I learned so many things I never knew, not even after almost 17 years of marriage. Little details I hadn't ever thought to ask before, like how he got out in the field each day and what he ate once he was there (company truck or hitching a ride with a colleague, meal trucks or nearby diners). I learned that he slept in a lot of trucks. I learned about the different parts of a rig, and some of what goes into drilling (there is a lot). I learned just how dangerous that job is.

    Our ghostly highway rig.
    We came upon a rig near the highway, ablaze with lights, and pulled over. It's rare to find one so near a highway like that. M pointed out the pipe, the doghouse, the barbecue basket. He explained the roles of the different people who work on and around each rig. I watched him while he watched the rig, and realized that this was a whole segment of his life that the people closest to him will never completely understand, will never share with him. It lends an air of mystery to a man I see every day and sleep with every night.

    After we continued on, we drove in silence for awhile. Every once in awhile I'd think of a new oil field question to ask and he'd answer it. The whole thing is intriguing to me, maybe because it is so foreign. Eventually, I saw ahead some lights that I thought were cars on a different section of the highway. Then I realized that all the lights were traveling at exactly the same speed. "Train!" I said to M. And then we both saw it at the same time.
    It's incredibly hard to capture
    a moving train at night. Obviously.

    It was the California Zephyr, an Amtrak passenger train that M and I were on a few years ago when we did our big spring break trip. Before we knew it, we were running in parallel with the train. M slowed down to pace it. We spotted the dining car, the sleeper cars, the domed observation car. It took us right back to that wonderful trip we shared, all those phenomenal memories. We drove that way for a few miles, just watching the train and remembering our own trip, before M had to speed up to avoid someone possibly running over us in the dark.

    In that one single evening, I learned new things about my husband and shared an experience that evoked an incredible time we had together. I didn't get beautiful photos and it's not something I can tell people to go do. (Although I do highly recommend purchasing a car with only two seats and using it regularly to make sure that you remember how to be a couple.) It's just something that happened.

    That was my favorite part of the whole trip.