Atelphobia

How’s that for a five-dollar word?

Atelphobia.

I found it this afternoon while I was “supervising” the children watching the Cars movie.  Let’s call it that.  What I really was doing was coming down from the oral steroid, inhaled steroid and z-pak cocktail that I took six hours before.  That’s right.  Six hours of nausea, crazy heartbeat and the feeling that my lungs have been dry cleaned.  Which made me grumpy and short with the littles.  Who had been trapped in the house with a deadly combination of rainy day and sick mommy.

So, let’s go ahead a call it supervising.  Just don’t tell anybody that they may or may not have had cheese popcorn and root beer for supper.  I’m supervising and doing what I do best when intense boredom and restlessness sets in, I stumble through the internets. 

There used to be an old joke that if you took all the porn off the internet there would be just one page left called BringBackThePorn.com but that’s no longer true.  In my travels, the internet is full of cupcakes.  I don’t know if that’s true or if the stumble algorithm is finely tuned to my unique brand of porn (that would be food porn) but my internet is full of cupcakes. 

Cupcakes and random quotes and wordy things.  Go figure.  Oh, and booze recipes for fruity drinks.  Pretty photos.  A million things to do with an exacto knife and a pile of scrapbook paper (because what are we going to do with all that scrapbook junk now that 2008 is over?).  And more still more cupcakes.  And big cakes.  And all things peanut butter and chocolate.

Peanut butter and chocolate….wait?  What were we discussing?  Peanut Butter martinis?  Okay, that’s not nice to talk about in front of the girl on antibiotics.  Not nice at all.

Oh, that’s right.  Atelphobia.

Who looked it up?  Who jumped to the head of the class and had to google it before I said what it was?  Did anybody know?  Seriously.  I want to know who is the overachiever around here.

Atelphobia is the fear of not being good enough.

See also: me.

This is kind of funny given that today is national I don’t give a shit day (fact).  On the one day when we all should give a shit less what anyone thinks, I may have just given a name to what plagues me almost daily.

That I am just not good enough.

Because, logically, if you are not good enough, what you love will be taken away and given to someone who is good enough.  You know, not directly but that’s what it feels like. 

How much has this mentality kept me from doing what I want to do?  And this isn’t lately, this has been one of those “all of my adult life” things. 

I say that I am not a competitor which is true.  I don’t have an aggressive bone in my body.  I don’t race.  I don’t have to be first I just can’t be last.  Sound familiar?  I don’t think I’ll get that job/promotion/position whatever so I’ll aim just a little lower to make it attainable. 

But I remember a time when I competed for roles and spots in elite groups and competed to be a higher seed or the only female whatever in a field of boys.  Something happened.  Something somewhere or a great number of somethings maybe?  And now I walk around wondering if I am good enough.

What is keeping from being a stagehand full-time?  The feeling of not being good enough.  That somebody will see through my reputation for good, hard work and my bravado to realize that I don’t know what I’m doing.  And I know I’m good at what I do.  And I know my limits and know what I don’t know.  But that’s the irrationality of a fear.  I could be a stagehand full-time but what if full-time still isn’t enough to make up for the scheduling headaches not to mention the single parent thing.  I like being home at bedtime.  I like being able to take my kids to church or to Grammy’s on a Sunday afternoon.  If I don’t do it, who will?

I live with two talented, beautiful and wicked smart children.  Why am I keeping them out of dance and music and soccer?  Because I know how competitive the world is and maybe, just maybe, they aren’t THAT good?  So now my fear is being projected onto them?  How is that fair?

Since when do we have to be the best at something in order to get to do it at all?

This is a roundabout question of course because how do we know if we are the best or get to be the best?  By taking that first step and just doing it.  Right? 

And is it human nature to be the best?  Or are there some of us that are content being the assistants, the one that’s happy just to be there, the volunteers instead of being paid, the one that is proud of finishing and never gets a medal?

I’m going to be lucky to sleep at all tonight and, for the first night in almost three weeks, it won’t be because of the asthmatic sounding cough.  The combination of some serious steroid jitters and deep thought will make for a long night.  Which means an even longer day tomorrow.

Knocking around.

I have a little problem and it’s called “I have too many things in my head to form a single blog post”.  So this is going to be random. 

1.  I started watching my niece during the day since my sister’s maternity leave is up.  I volunteered for the position back in October when she found out that her current daycare couldn’t take the baby (because of ratios) until the fall.  My sister was all in a panic over it and I volunteered since I am just here sitting on my dead ass all day.  Okay, that’s not true.  Entirely.  But mostly.  My house became busy with a wee 8-week-old babe and my trusty assistant, Amelia.  That little girl is in heaven, for sure.  All she has ever wanted was a baby sister (or brother) to mother.  And my niece just watches her all day, even when Amelia is doing something else. 

What have I learned from this experience?  I am done having children.  I mean, I am a woman of a certain age.  Geriatric in OB land.  But I have been saying for years that one of the tragedies in all of this is that I never intended for Amelia to be my last.  I didn’t get to savor her baby days.  I wanted to see at least one more of our babies use the gear and clothes and wee diapers we had collected for the other children.  It wasn’t to be.  And now it’s too late.  I suppose with the right kind of support (read: a wedding), I could be persuaded but there’s no way I’d go it alone.  And I’ve stopped wanting it.  I love having bigger kids.  I love leaving the house sans diaper/bottle/sling/bucket carseat/change of clothes for all involved. 

Also, she is bottle-fed.  Which is fine.  Totally.  But my children were breastfed and I now know that it was in large part because I was way too lazy to deal with bottles.  The mixing, the washing of the bottles, the dribble and spitup.  No thanks.  I know now that I was pretty lucky in the world of breastfeeding.  No supply issues, no latch issues.  I liked it.  I was home and didn’t have to go back to work so there was no reason to introduce a bottle with any frequency.  It’s just a different way to care for a child.  This baby starts to fuss out of hunger and is full on screaming at me within 30 seconds.  Kind of like a fire drill.  Five times a day.  Like I said, I’m okay being done with babies.

2.  Through the beauty and magic of Facebook, an old friend from college contacted me the other night.  He is a filmmaker and screenwriter on a smallish scale.  He’s had this idea for a documentary floating around in his head and asked me to consult on it a little bit.  The idea is this: Do you remember the last words said to a loved one before they die?  How do you feel about those words? 

We went back and forth.  I don’t know if I helped him at all because I feel like I did get a chance to say goodbye in a roundabout sort of way.  My last words to him (that he heard) were “I love you.”  So I was one of the lucky ones but what about people who just got into a fight and said angry words?  Or what about the mundane reminders and the ordinary days? I finally told him that all of us, no matter the reaction to those words (regret, anger, peace, fear…), we all thought we would have more time.  And we didn’t.  There was no way to say it all.  Those words were not for the dying.  They were for us; they were for those that survived and those that were forced to go on. 

I don’t know if anything will come of it (although knowing him, it will come around) but it is certainly interesting enough.  Hopefully there will be more to report.

3.  I am quite antsy about the prospect of spending yet another year at home.  I have been home for nearly seven years and I have had it.  Done.  I am done.  But my baby isn’t ready for school and I said I would stay home until everyone was in school.  The plan, six months ago, was to do four semesters of grad school and get my teaching certificate and get my own classroom of theatre/speech/ creative writing punks.  The schedule and school year mirrors that of my children and everyone is happy.

But now I can’t start school this summer.  Paying for school is one thing; I thought I could swing it.  But paying for childcare for the summer would break me in half and then even just one kid in full-time daycare in the fall is not a feasible option.  Once again, it comes down to finances.  And I hate that.  And I don’t want to wait.

I have other options.  I can apply for my stagehand union card and go work shows as often as they need me.  It will be feast or famine with odd hours and unreliable income with no benefits.  That is one route.  The other is to get a job and put myself back into the working world.  But then we’re back to daycare but, hopefully, that would be figured into the budget with the take home pay.  I don’t even know what I would do at this point except keep my feelers out for one of the many local arts organizations to have a position open up.  The right one could take months at best.

Like I told someone tonight (in the context of getting a job) I’m not looking for Mr. Right…I’m just looking for Mr. Rightnow.  I don’t need perfect.  I need to get back to feeling like a productive citizen first and then possibly reconsider.  On the other hand, when you know you just know.  And maybe I’ll know.  Maybe this is the time and I just need a place.

All I know is that these walls are closing in on me.  You know, not in a scary way.  I’ll deal if I do have to wait a year and then continue with the original plan.  I won’t like it.  But I know I can do it.

4.  I miss Fat Camp.  (For the record, that feeling took less than a week.)

5.  I’m still considering making this blog into some sort of publishable work.  A book or…something.  I started with post #1 and I have worked through February 2009, reading every one.  Reading every comment. 

I know I wrote it all and I’m glad that I did.  There was so much in there that would never have been thought about again had I not written it out.  There are whole days and memories that would be lost by now.  There’s something to be said for just getting it all out there, even if it is quick and dirty. 

Is it a wonder that I have a coherent thought in my head?   This is just the tip of what is knocking around in there.

In the wee small hours.

I can’t sleep.  Which means that tomorrow is going to suck.  Even the cat gave up on me.  She was sitting here, stretched out on the arm of her my chair, but she just got up and went to bed.  To hell with you woman, she says with her tail sticking up in the air. 

It’s just one of those nights when I have too many thoughts and not enough xanax I guess.  I don’t know if it’s the Christmas letdown (I struck the tree and assorted dressings from the walls and tables) or the impending new year but there is something big bothering me.  I wish I knew what it was.  I wish I could find the aha! moment.  But those don’t come in the middle of the night do they?

I thought that I just needed some extra exercise.  It’s been nearly 3 months since advanced fat camp ended.  I suppose it’s not fat camp at all anymore once I went from a ‘weight loss’ class to a ‘fitness’ class.   Maybe I just think that since I’m still on the fat end of the class.  You’d think after almost a full year that I would have lost more than, what, 8% of my body weight.  I am the poster child for “slow and steady” although I will still never win that race.  I just don’t have it in me.

Too bad that the 8% cost me nearly 15% of my yearly income.  How’s that for a reality check?  If I add up membership costs, class cost, PT cost, shoes, bras (gets spendy when you must wear two at a time!)…that a lot of bank.  Which, honestly, I can barely afford.  I should be putting the littles into ballet or karate.  I should be saving it for my van that has a bad case of the gremlins.   

Granted, I do feel better.  I may not look better but I certainly feel better.  I am stronger for sure.  And, I can run jog trot nearly a mile without having to walk at all.  That’s a huge accomplishment.  I didn’t run the 5k like I wanted to but there’s always 2011.  I’ve also made more than a few friends along the way and a person can never have too many friends.  Or be too skinny.  Or too rich.  Or so I hear.  I wouldn’t know. 

It is difficult to be hopeful and optimistic in the middle of the night.  Kids are sicker at night.  People die at night.  Ella would tell you that noises are scarier at night.  And days are short right now; nights are cold.  Spring is so very far away. 

I really don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming year.  I can’t predict.  Maybe everything will change.  Or, maybe I’ll still be awake.

And wondering where I went wrong.

Broken things.

My world has been restored.

I will sum up.

Nearly a month ago, my precious mint green Dell went under the knife and returned broken.  Really, really broken.  The information is secure enough but the means to access said information was cut off.  No keyboard.  No touchpad.  No wireless. 

You heard me.  No wireless.

No wireless means no comfy chair surfing or late night 30 Rock watching.  No itunes shopping. 

The router is in my bedroom so my laptop had to be hard-wired into it.  I had to get an adaptor so that I could plug-in a desktop keyboard.  I had to use a mouse.  (Really?  I forgot I had a mouse.)  I believe the term for this set up is “janky”. 

It was also soul crushing and made me shun the interwebz altogether.  So what do you do when your lifeline to the world is suddenly cut off?

You read.  You go to bed early.  You make cookies.  You teach your kids how to play Hangman. 

I kept thinking that this just figures.  I’m the one that loans out my car (or my bike, tennis racket and other assorted things) to have it returned broken and then I have to get it fixed.  Or not get it fixed.  Either way, it’s my problem. 

As of Monday, it is not my problem anymore.  I got a brand new (and identical) Dell hand delivered.  I know.  How often does that actually happen?  Just when I was trying to finesse the budget to get a new computer, I got a wonderful surprise.

I had made the comment that I am just used to life being hard so I never expected a big moment of easy.

In the same week, my Nook got a crack in the forward button plastic.  Today, I took it to B&N (sans receipt) and they replaced it and synced my library before I left the building.  Again, I never expected it to be easy and then it was.

Is this a general turn around in my fortune?  Or can I just appreciate it when it happens to me?

Either way, I am grateful.

Day of firsts.

Who has two thumbs and ran a mile without stopping today?

Me!

If you know me (and you do) this is huge.  I’d call it epic but when ‘epic’ appears in a local newscast headline, it’s over.  But this is really big for me.

10 short months ago, I couldn’t run for 45 seconds.  I remember the first day on that treadmill, thinking that I might actually have a heart attack at 34 years old.  But I didn’t.  And today I ran.  Not fast and, in the grand scheme of things, not far.  It was only a mile and it took me 14 minutes and 35 seconds but I’m fairly certain that I have never ever run a mile.  Not even when we had to in junior high gym class.  I’m pretty sure I came in dead ass last there too.

But, no matter. I did it.  And now that I know that I can, I can try to run further or faster.  I’m going to go with further.  Even at a 4.3 (average speed), that felt like plenty fast thankyouverymuch.  I have learned that if I don’t use up all my energy “sprinting” then I have the stamina to go a whole 14 minutes and 35 seconds.

Another first happened today:

She lost it at school.  I guess it was hanging on by a thread and her teacher sent her to the nurse’s office.  The nurse encouraged her to pluck it out on her own and she did.  Ella claimed that it did not hurt and didn’t even really bleed.

Of course the best part of this story is her insistence on keeping the tooth.  She wrote a letter to the tooth fairy and left it under her pillow instead of the tooth.  (The tooth, I believe, is hidden in her jewelry box.)  I wish I could figure out my scanner because the letter is priceless.

To: Toth Fare,

I wod like u to lev my toth ulone. I wod stil like a coyn.

Love: Ella

I explained that the first one is probably okay but the tooth fairy is going to want something for her trouble the next time she has to come here.  The “tooth fairy” just about got busted trying to sneak the letter out from under her pillow and replace it with a gold dollar.  The gold dollars are often refered to as “pirate gold” in our house.  I wonder if she will make the connection.

I wish I could explain my neglect to my blog lately.  It would be easy to say that I’m in my cyclical funk because that is true.  I’m also making an attempt to be in bed early-ish although I am rarely asleep before midnight because I’ve found my reading love again.  I think now that I can lounge in my own bed without someone else in it, I enjoy reading again.  I don’t even know that that’s the issue. 

Here it is, coming up on 3 years since Stephen died (and 7 since Will died) and I am writing the same things.  I have the same feelings of parental inadequacy and guilt.  I have the same insecurities about being a single woman in her mid-thirities (with a weight problem, two small children, a basket of yarn crafts and (most recently) a cat…can I be more of a stereotype?) that I had a year ago.  Two years ago. 

I know that when I read blogs, I expect new content when I check in on them.  The most successful blogs are ones that provide something new.  And I think, on some level, that if I just keep saying the same things over and over…what’s the point?

And maybe it’s just me.

Because there is a part of me, smaller but still very much present, that still can’t believe  he’s gone.

How many times do I get to say that before somebody, somewhere says “yeah, yeah…you’ve been crying about that for years.”  And they probably already have.  Not that I should care.  And mostly I don’t.  But I’m just a little bit sick of my own self whining about it.

I should just go back to writing about the everyday crap even though every day is pretty much like every other day around here.  Some days just require a xanax.  Or a midnight batch of cookie dough.

But three years later?  I’m really just tired of fighting it.

What’s that word?

It’s a long story.  Too long.  Let me sum up.

1. Advanced Fat Camp started yesterday.  That’s not even a good name for it.  Technically, it’s not Fat Camp anymore.  It’s the “I’m too strong for Fat Camp” or maybe “It’s time to bust my ass again Camp”.  I don’t know.  It needs a new name.  Class is in the morning, nutrition on Fridays.  So far, there are only six of us.

All women.  One is also a ‘graduate’ of my original fat camp.  Out of the six, three are older and two are younger.  Roughly.  I’m guessing.  Two of us have had abdominal surgery in the last three years.  We all have kids.  One has OCD (and she was my partner). (At least our mat was clean.) (And our water bottles were exactly perpendicular to the mat at all times.)

The class is based around strength training and we are expected to do 2 hours of cardio on our own.  Which sounds great.  Fantastic.  We all need more strength training.  When you have more lean muscle mass, your resting metabolic rate is higher.  Which is to say that you burn more fat when you are asleep because your muscles need more nutrition.  Fun.  I could do strength training all day.

The problem is that it doesn’t help my mood.  I don’t get the high.  I crave the strength but I need the cardio.  I need to focus on nothing but “When the fuck do I get to quit?”  Good stuff.

2. Ella is gone for the week.  She went, somewhat reluctantly it turned out, with Stephen’s dad and stepmom on Monday and they are bringing her back on Saturday.  As grateful as I am to have 50 percent less parental responsibility, Amelia is lost.  And expects me to entertain her.  I’m beginning to be of the opinion that the taking of the children needs to be a package deal.  I witnessed an epic tantrum tonight and all I could do was laugh as I picked her up and put her in her room and closed the door.  Who is this child?  My kids don’t tantrum for the most part.  Is it because Ella is gone?  Is it because we have had too much time together in the last month? 

3. Amelia is four years old.  Her birthday was Monday.  I feel like I should write her a letter too but…I can’t.  I really want to write out her birth story.  I’m not sure that I ever have.  I’ll have to check.  I would write a letter to her but I’m afraid that she would actually read it.  I know, I know…if it’s not one kid it’s the other.  And Amelia and I are bound to have a ton of together time this school year.  She is two years away from kindergarten (darn July 31 birthday cutoff…) and I hope we make it that far, intact.

4.  I?  Am not cut out for single parenthood.  Please know that I am not looking for suggestions or solutions.  I am merely venting.  But this sucks.  I love my kids.  I know that.  Everyone knows that.  They are smart and cute and polite and active.  What’s not to love?  But I don’t play.  I give them experiences outside the house: we travel and have museum and zoo memberships, they are exposed to things like church and theatre and ballet.  Some of their favorite people are gay or have a different skin color.  They have tried sushi and call classical music “Dance Music”.  I think I’m doing lots of things right. 

But I hate it.

I really do.  And it’s not getting better.  It’s getting easier, for sure.  They are older.  Everyone wipes their own ass and buckles their own seatbelt.  We’ve come a long way. 

But I hate it. 

I don’t hate being a mom.  I love being a mom. 

I just didn’t sign up to be the dad too.  And it is tiring to keep on trying. 

Don’t think for a second that I haven’t thanked God that I have all girls instead of all boys.  I’d be in the county lockup with a green vest if that were the case.

Maybe it’s the heat,  the unrelenting weather  juicing the fluids out of my body every time I go out to get the mail. 

Or maybe it’s the impending fall countdown that begins every year on Amelia’s birthday and how every year all I can think about is how we spent her first birthday, both of us, in the hospital.  Separately.  But recovering on the same floor.  And how what had happened to get him there will haunt me forever.  Longer than his final moments.  Longer than the moment we knew that this would not end well.  I know at this time of the year that it is time to live it again. 

Fuzzier than last year of course.  Soft edges.  Voices muted.  Smells tempered by three years of wanting to wake up and have it all a terrible, terrible dream.

It might even be a little first day of school anxiety that I have for Ella.  She absolutely must have a good year.  I want to help her have a good year.  I want to know that I made the right decision for her.  I want her to be happy and develop friendships and love each day.  I want so much for her.  For both girls.  We all want our kids to have more, do more, be more than we ever had or did ourselves.  Isn’t that what each generation gives to the next?  What I need to get over (because it doesn’t seem to affect the littles at this point) is that they have started life with a deficit.  A dead father and brother.  And a mom who just can’t do it all.

You have to know this…please, please understand that these years are so hard.  Every single day is more work than I had ever imagined. 

This is my reality.  It’s not even self-pity at this point.   I’m past that. 

I’m not angry.  Or even all that tired (thankyouverymuch exercise endorphins). 

I don’t even have words for this.  Does one exist?

Headed out to sea on the Failboat.

It started with Blueberry Scones.  Delicious.  And more than 300 calories each.

Later it was my first real Dr. Pepper.  It’s been weeks.  Months, even?

Last night, my well-meaning and loving friends took me out for an early birthday celebration at Dave and Buster’s.  Don’t know Dave and Buster?  Imagine ChuckECheese without a ball pit and with a fully stocked bar. 

I was introduced to watermelon margaritas.  As far as I can tell, you replace the triple sec with watermelon pucker.   Tasty.  And went down so smooth.  All three of them.  And the strawberry mudslide.  And the shot that the bartender put together when he found out we were there for my birthday.

That was after the sliders.  With no “special sauce” and only half my fries.  But nary a vegetable to be seen.  Oh and fried cheese. 

And skeeball.  Silent Scope.  Guitar Hero.  That skeeball-like horse racing game.  Elvis and the coins.  Live action boxing.

Not to mention my five really great friends who continually make me laugh until I (just about) (and sometimes do) wet myself. 

I am blessed.

And still fat.  My scale says that I have gained 3 pounds from Thursday afternoon and I don’t believe that to be true.  I’m sure it was all the booze…sweet, sweet booze…and salt.  And lack of sleep.  Because of course my littles were up at the crack of dawn.  And while tequila and I get along famously in the dark, much like the walk of shame, we are not so much into each other in the light of day.  Argh.

I think my eyeballs are still swollen from this neat-o headache.

The headache that not even an apple fritter the size of my skull could tame.  Or the cup of coffee.

And a nap?  Fail.  The littles were up for the day with no nap in sight.  And, they were a bored mess. 

I tried to get a few afternoon Zs but they thwarted that in a hurry.  It started with simple fighting over the Front of TV position and ended with them making a “Snack mix” of Lucky Charms, sliced strawberries, (organic) peanut butter and cheese rice cakes.  In the living room.  And when stirring with a cereal spoon didn’t work, they used their hands.

At least they ate it.

So then it’s after 5.  And the gym childcare closes at 6.  So there will be no going to the gym. 

Fail.

I ask the simple question, What should I make for dinner?

They put on their telepathy hats and say, in unison, “McDonalds.”

To which I reply Get your shoes.

We drive five miles.  They fling themselves at the mercy of McDonalds and holler directly to the cooks that they want chicken nuggets.  I make them get milk.  You know, HFCS and all.

“Is that all?”  the punk behind the counter says.

I make a huffy breath.  And a quarter pounder with cheese, no mustard.

Fail.

“Is that a value meal?”

Huffy breath again.  Sure.

Fail.

I sit the littles down with their milks and go to get ketchup (loaded with HFCS) and my drink.  I put ice in my cup and the cup?  Fell under the Coke.  I intended to get iced tea and ended up with Coke.

Now, I’m not one to waste perfectly good food.  So…I might have drank it all.

When I ate my whole cheeseburger.  And all my fries.  And some of Amelia’s.

But then my cup was empty.  So I dump out the ice and get new.  So as not to contaminate the iced tea.  And my cup fell under the Dr. Pepper.

Damn.  Double Fail.

I feel like my heart might explode.  And I have every right to be forced into my fat pants for the next 2 weeks undoing an entire weekend of food related debauchery.

The thing is that I know how hard I have to work to burn it all off.  That cheeseburger?  550 calories.  That is a full 45 minutes of hard-core Molly ass kicking.  Was it worth it?

No.  My guts are still sore.  My lack of gallbladder hates, hates, hates that much fat at one time.  I once ate a tenderloin that revolted on my insides for a full 8 hours.  True story. 

It would be so easy to quit now.  To call in my cancellation to the gym.  To say that I’m going to walk with the kids and then come up with an excuse not to do it.  And go back to my nutty bars and my lazyboy and my vanilla vodkas and my sweet baby Dr. Pepper.

I would disappoint myself.  So I won’t.  I can’t.  I can’t un-know what I know now.  Or something like that. 

If I had a paddle, I’d head back to the bank of that shit creek in my failboat.

But I’m all out of paddles.

Cycle.

It is morning.  I think.  I didn’t sleep much last night.

It is the cycle of things.  My cycle.  And not *that* cycle.  Like I’d blog about that.  Because…yeah.  There is just some business that needs minding.

No, it’s my cycle.  The cycle that use to be weekly.  And then monthly.  And then quarterly.  I don’t even know the last time I’ve been this…low?  I don’t even know that’s what this is.  I am certainly functioning.

But the zeal that I have had the last few months is fading just as the snow has completely melted.

The littles are working my next to last nerve.  They are antsy for spring too, I think.  They are clingy.  And fighting with each other.  And a constant whine has replaced the cheerful, dulcet tones heard all winter.  They disagree with the dinner menu unless it contains ham sandwiches, chicken nuggets, candy, candy corn, syrup or strawberries. 

Maybe that’s it.  I’ve gotten rid of all the HFCS and they are grumpy and going through withdrawals.

I think…and I may be projecting my insecurities here but…I think that Fat Camp is taking it out of all of us.  I have put all of my extra energy into Fat Camp.  Which leaves precious little for things like patience and understanding.  And the ability to say “no more TV today”.  And then have the gumption to follow through. 

Personally, I am bored.  Not with the exercise portion of Fat Camp because that gives me the strongs and makes me feel like a great big bucket of awesome.  I am bored with the eating part.  I can make a huge list of all the foods that I miss.  Starting with Dr. Pepper and ending with 5 cheese lasagna.  I know, I know…everything in moderation.  But I don’t think I’m to the point of moderating myself.  And I’m not sure I ever have been in that position.  I can’t have one cookies, I must have five.  That kind of thing.

I’m tired of chicken.  And green leafy anything.  I desperately miss cheese.  And Skittles. 

This is hard.  I know it’s good for me.  But it’s such a change.  And these little people are not making it any easier what with their bawling for cheetos and froot loops. 

Or…maybe it’s not about the food.

Maybe it’s about 2 weeks until a whole hand birthday.  Or maybe it’s because a pound a week isn’t fast enough.  And I’m tired of looking at the clothes in my closet.  And I’m happier when I’m working.

Or it’s just my cycle. 

No, not that cycle.

My collections.

I am a collector.

I come from a long line of collectors, you see.

My grandparents had to be cut off after going to one too many estate sales.  They would buy a whole box full of “treasures” just for one little piece.  Not to admire.  Not to sell.  Just to own.  (Years later, my grandmother took up oil painting and started painting the furniture.  The antique furniture.  Nothing is sacred.)

My grandma (the other side of the family) saved all the dried out flower arrangements she was ever given in the 80’s and 90’s.  In the same decade, my grandpa (God bless his German soul) collected used tires, lawnmowers and nurse’s shoes.  Women’s nursing shoes.  The white ones with the thick soles.  He never offered an explanation.  He just started wearing them.

My parents throw things out just for the sake of getting rid of things.  Maybe this skips a generation?

Anyway, I am a collector.  I collect raw materials: paper, pens, blank journals, fabric and patterns, paint, crayons, spices and herbs (I can’t write “herbs and spices” without thinking of KFC), cookie sprinkles, tea bags…

I can probably add some more later but they have one thing in common: every item in that list is used to make something else.  To create.  Not that I have ever “used up” anything from that list without immediately replacing what little I have actually used.  No, no.  In fact, I’m somewhat methodical in my replacement timing and strategy, keeping in mind cost and possible future use. 

I have other collections.  Unframed photos, meant for a scrapbook or album.  Recipe books for meals not yet eaten.  Heck, my stack of unread books is almost to the point of being overwhelming.

I collect movies on Netflix.  My queue is over 300 movies long.  I’ll never, ever, not in a million years watch them all.  I’d like to fancy that I don’t have the time but you and I both know that I do.  But I’m not always in the mood for what they choose to send so it sits on top of my TV until I’m ready.  (Romantic Comedy and Documentary, I’m talking to you.)

I collect books on Goodreads.  335 books on my “to read” shelf.  Most of them recommended by someone else.  And then what do I do at the library?  I find 3 or 4 books NOT on the list and try to read those first. 

And we all know about my sock and underwear collection (times three people). 

I might have a problem. 

Maybe “collector” isn’t the right label for me.  Maybe I get to be a hoarder.

Nah.

The point of this (and there is a point) is that this week I have collected something else.  Something new.

I am in an advanced stage of “Don’t give a shit”.  It’s chronic.  If not terminal.  I really just don’t care.

Now, this isn’t a bad thing.  Not at all.  Actually it’s a good thing.

I have given up on stressing about things that don’t matter.  Seriously.  I yell at the kids less.  I breathe deeply when Ella is jacking around in the van instead of putting on her seat belt.  I used to stare her down and make threats.  And yell.  Amelia peed in my bed last night.  She’s been sans pullup since early December and pretty proud of it.  I don’t know what happened but it involved an extensive bed change very late at night.  Don’t care.  Did laundry and cleaned the mattress today.  Doesn’t matter.

The table is covered in crayons, leftover from a before bed coloring spree.  The littles made for me a dozen pictures in the span of thirty minutes.  I taped them all to the closet door.  Every one.  Ella and I purchased and played Mouse Trap today and played for almost 2 hours.  She was home sick today.  On the one day that was supposed to be my kid free day.  We watched an hour of Looney Tunes and then Smurfs.  We napped.  We made jello.

There was a time, just a few months ago, when things like crumbs on the counter bugged me.  Not that I wanted to do anything about it.  I didn’t like it.  And I was resentful that if I wanted the counter clean, I was the one to do it.  (And, frankly, I’m having a hard time giving up that resentment but that’s a different day.)  So the crumbs would sit there.  And I would get pissed every time I walked by them.  I could see them in my sleep because I knew that they would still be there in the morning.

And now?  I care so little about the crumbs, that I sweep them into my hand and drop them into the sink.

Huh.

Makes no sense.

Anyway, there is a change happening.  The littles can see it.  They don’t know what it is but they are enjoying it.   I play.  And I haven’t played in years.  We read.  We all read a lot now.  They see me reading while they are playing and making messes.  And I don’t care about the mess because I’m into my book.  I’m cooking again and forcing them to eat what’s there because “it’s on the menu” and, because of school, they can wrap their brains around it.

And it’s all because I stopped.  I’ve stopped making my heart race with anxiety and worry and anger.

I’m collecting again. 

I’m collecting memories with my girls.  I never want them to remember how I turned a room upside down looking for a puzzle piece and throwing a minor tantrum in the process.  But I am hoping that they remember the day that mommy played UNO all afternoon and how we all drank peppermint tea and used the  “fancy sugar” to sweeten it.  I hope they remember watching movies and eating popcorn.  Dressing up all the dolls to play school where I am never allowed to be the teacher.  Making brownies and eating the batter off the spatula. 

This is what happens when you stop to sweep the crumbs off the counter.

And get on with life.

Tribute to 2009.

Well friends, here we are again.  Midnight.  Another year.  A new decade.  I think I’ve lived like 4 lives in the “oughts” and I’m ready for something a little quieter.  But let’s focus on 2009, shall we?

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?

Not a damn thing.  Seriously.  I can’t think of anything. 

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I did keep it (gasp!)  I won’t say what it is but I had one single resolution.  That was resolved November 4th at or around noon.

I should make another resolution for 2010.  I’ll get back to you on this one.

3.  Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes.  My brother and sister-in-law had baby Olivia Marie, born February 20.  I haven’t…actually…met her.  Bad Auntie, I know.  But she is more than 1200 miles away.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.  I did lose a good friend on Halloween but I hadn’t actually seen him in years.  But nobody incredibly close.

5.  What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?

A job.  A real job.  I’m a much better mother when I’m working.  And I really like the extra walking around money.  I need a reliable job.

6.  What countries did you visit?

Nothing foreign.  Totally boring.  Didn’t even leave this time zone.  Trip to Vancouver planned for May though.

7.  What date in 2009 will remain etched in your memory and why?

August 8.  That was the day I left my home in Iowa to move to a new state and start a new chapter in our lives.

8.  What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Being brave.  And moving.  I know that moving back into the arms of family isn’t all that much of an achievement.  But to me, it was huge.

9.  What was your biggest failure?

Maya.  The doggie we rescued and then had to re-home when we moved.  I liked her but wow, a huge about of work.

10.  Did you suffer illness or injury?

At least one, if not two, stomach bugs.  And an irritated kidney.  But other than that, healthy as a horse.

11.  What was the best thing you bought?

Daycare 2 days a week.  Holy crap.  What a difference that has made.  Worth every single penny. 

12.  Whose behavior merited celebration?

My girls.  I am always amazed at what they think about and how they handle situations.  They are both good students and good friends.  They are a constant source of frustration and joy and embarrassment and hilarity. 

13.  Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Ella’s kindergarten teacher.  You don’t say to a parent at the beginning of the conference “(Your child) is so cute.  She will go far because of it.  But she is a three year old in a five year old’s body.”   Once I decided that I didn’t care what she thought about me or my kids, we get along great.  And Ella is doing quite well.   

14.  Where did most of your money go?

Moving.  Setting up house.  itunes.  Mostly itunes.  And lots of eating out.

15.  What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Being able to have Thanksgiving in my own house.  With my family all here.  That was really nice.  And I went all out.

16.  What song will remind you of 2009?

“Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse.  Thank you, Twilight soundtrack for introducing me to a load of new bands. 

17.  Compared to this time last year are you:

happier or sadder?  Meh.  About the same.  I guess that’s kind of sad.

fatter or thinner?  Way, way fatter.  Again.  Yuk.  It should be my resolution to get rid of some of this.  I can’t keep buying new clothes every season. 

richer or poorer?  Richer.  I guess.  I have been working more so definitely not poorer.  I could use a course in money management but that’s not for lack of income.

18.  What do you wish you’d done more of?

Flirting.  I wish I had been more brave and taken the chances I had.  I wish I had asked for depression help sooner so I could feel better sooner. 

19.  What do you wish you’d done less of?

Internet wandering.  I mean, I’ve run across some awesome people (MckMama, Pioneer Woman, the Spohrs, the Logelins) but I’ve also scared myself and made a few too many ill-fated purchases.  And some purchases that I almost made: a Nook and a camera and all those times I filled the Hanna cart and emptied it again.

20.  How will you be spending Christmas?

In 2010?  I hope snowed in again.  Being snowed in at Christmas was the best thing for us.  Nobody here.  Nowhere to go.  It was really great.

21.  What would cheer you up today?

I don’t know.  I’m in a pretty good place right now.  I guess a hair cut and color.  I’m a little more grey this year and I should do something about it.

22.  Did you fall in love in 2009?

Yes.  Unrequited.  But I did.  More of a crush really.  But it’s hard to crush on someone from another state.

23.  How many one night stands?

None.  Technically.  It was daytime… (har, har)

24.  What was your favorite tv program?

Glee!  Oh, Glee!?  Where have you been all my life?  And Burn Notice.  And still Grey’s Anatomy of course. 

25.  Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

I’ve said this before but no.  I don’t feel that hating anyone is a good use of my emotional energy. 

26. What was the best book you read?

“Columbine”.  And Danny Evans’ “Rage Against the Meshuganah”. 

27.  What was your greatest musical discovery?

itunes DJ.  Better than Pandora because it’s all music that I love. 

28.  What did you want and get?

Not a damn thing.  I got moved I guess.  But that whole thing had a life of its own. 

29.  What was your favorite film of this year?

New Moon.  Sorry, but I’m going to have to be a cougar/dork on this one.  Saw it twice.  Loved it both times.

30.  What did you do on your birthday and how old were you?

I turned 34.  My bestest friends took me out for dinner and drinks.  And we flirted (from afar) with random bar folk.  And we laughed alot.  It was a really great birthday.

31.  What one think would have made your year immeasurably more pleasurable?

That crush?  Could have amounted to something.  And who knows?  I can still see something maybe happening.  Maybe.

32.  How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?

Just trying to not look like I’m wearing the clothing of someone, oh, forty pounds lighter. 

33.  What kept you sane?

Looking forward to the next gig.  And my friends.  My friends continue to hold me up and keep me laughing.  They seem to know what I need, when I need it.

34.  Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Fancy?  Again with the fancy.  Yeah, I’m not so much into celebrity.  I’m really into Pioneer Woman/Ree Drummond.  I want her life.  The kids, the ranch, the hunky husband, the camera…I want her life.

35.  What political issue stirred you the most?

Well, I lost a good chunk of my usable health insurance just from moving to a different state so I follow the health care issue very closely.  I could use some help.

36.  Whom did you miss?

Stephen.  I think about him daily.  I also miss my friends in Iowa. 

37.  Who was the best new person you met?

I met a couple of really great stagehands.  And the mom of one of Ella’s classmates is really wonderful too.  And I’m closer to a whole herd of people from earlier in my life.  Ah, the beauty of Facebook.

38.  Tell us a valuable life lesson learned in 2009?

Ask for help.  And find someone who makes you laugh.  Daily.  It makes the days that much better.

39.  Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

“We push and pull/ and I fall down sometimes/ I’m not letting go/ You hold the other line”  Breathe in, breathe out by Mat Kearney

And there it is.  2009 in a nutshell.  I was telling someone today that the whole year, despite the move and Ella starting school and reuniting with my family and my long time friends…was all…meh.  Not good.  Not bad.  Just happened.  And I went along with it.  And we had a few laughs.  And lots of drinks.  And I cried some.  And slept a little bit more.  My girls are bigger, stronger, smarter.  We are healthy.  We continue on. 

And that’s the best that anyone can ask of a single year.