Diapers and Dragons

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A, B, C, D, E, F, G...

My children are still awake. I know this because the lugubrious strains of the ABC song, duet version, are wafting from their room. Earlier I had to remove a box of wooden blocks from their possession. Before that it was Candyland.

Their bedtime was two hours ago.

If this was a weekend night, I wouldn't be too concerned. However, it is Wednesday night, and this means that in a matter of eight short hours (a little less, now) they will be required to rise from their beds, dress, and get out the door, cereal bars clutched in their bemittened hands, so that I won't be late for work. They will be whiny. They will be limp and uncooperative. The chances of my getting them to dress themselves are roughly 25 to 1. The chances that I will lose my limited morning temper and bark orders at them at some point are roughly 2 to 1. (You never know. Miracles do happen.)

...H, I, J, K, LMNOP...

I am lying on the bed in a t-shirt and highly attractive (heh) eleven-year-old purple sweatpants. It occurs to me that these are the sweatpants my soon-to-be-former-stepbrother-in-law purchased on the way to the hospital on Christmas Eve 1998 to pick me up. I had been there for three days recovering from the abdominal surgery that would later require me to have cesarean rather than vaginal births. My then-boyfriend had slept through his alarm and his roommate had turned off the phone ringer, so no one had shown up to drive me home that morning. In desperation, I called his stepbrother, with whom I attended college. I couldn't fit jeans over my swollen belly, so D. picked up a pair of sweatpants for me. He also paid my bill for fees not covered by insurance. I was so very grateful. The nurses had been growing restless.

This information is appropos of nothing other than it occurred to me. Also, these sweatpants are almost three times as old as DramaBoy and four times as old as The Widget.

...Q, R, S, T, U, V...

This afternoon was busy. My chiropractor remarked on the progression of my forehead's adornment and asked me if I'd get cosmetic surgery if the scar doesn't fade. I was a little taken aback. I mean, it's barely an inch long and just a little scar on my forehead.

No, I said. I'll just have a scar.

Oh, good, he responded, obviously surprised in turn. I guess it's good you're not very girly.

Really? Hasn't he seen my shoes? Actually, I know he has. He comments on them. I suppose what he means by "girly," however, is "high maintenance." He's pretty much right. I try to keep things fairly simple and low key in that regard.

Judging by his attitude, he must be familiar with a lot of high-maintenance women. And you know that old maxim Familiarity breeds contempt?


...W, X, Y and Z...

I took the boys to MacDonalds tonight, since it was late by the time I finished grocery shopping and picked them up from school. Then we took the car through a car wash, which DramaBoy loves and The Widget endures, hands firmly clasped over his sensitive ears. Finally we stopped at CVS to negotiate the transfer and refill of some medication. The pretty young pharmacist told me the wait would be thirty minutes. I looked over at my not-quite-rampaging offspring with some dismay and asked if there was any way they could rush it a bit. Obviously simultaneously charmed by my boys and sympathetic to my apprehension about keeping them contained that long, she said she'd see what they could do.

I was already fond of that CVS, but they have my deepest gratitude after tonight. Not only did they have a convenient little children's nook by the waiting area, stocked with crayons and coloring books and a random helium balloon, they managed to get the order processed in less than fifteen minutes. I was able to escort my hyper young sons out of the store before their patience ran out and any real damage could be perpetrated on defenseless merchandise.

It's nice to know that there are still people who care about customer service, even in the big chain stores. 

...now I know my ABCs, next time won't you sing with me.

There is silence now. I think they are finally asleep, with a mere seven hours and change before they have to get up. For that matter, I only have six and a half hours left before my cruel clock sounds its smug alarm. In the interests of peaceful dreams, I may need to convince my elderly, flatulent cat that she really doesn't need to sleep with me. I appreciate her desire to keep me from loneliness, but the odor she produces is considerably more expansive than her petite form would lead you to believe.

Bon nuit. It's time to investigate what messages my subconscious mind holds for me tonight. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


i miss you
your smiles and giggles
your chuckles and sly glances
snuggling in bed on lazy mornings
while you climb and wrestle over me
on me
i am your playground

sometimes i lie there and listen
while you talk and play and fight
in your room
knowing that all too soon
you will no longer be content
with such small things
some books
a train
a dragon
some bears

and find myself torn
between longing for
and fearing
those all-too-soon
days and years
when you will be grown enough
to need me less

i fear you leaving me
and yet
know that is what you must do
if i have done my job

and on these days
when the distance is real
the absence already here
i bury the ache
push the loss to the back of my mind
busy myself with all the things
and people
who fill me up in other ways

this moment
it's not enough
and i cannot deny
even to myself

i miss you
and always will

Monday, January 25, 2010

There Are Times When I Could Really Use a Cruciatis Curse or Two

I came across this video the other day and it makes me laugh every time I watch it. I mean, come on. What's not to love?

Sunday, January 24, 2010


patience is a virtue
but i'm not that virtuous
and instead sit gritting teeth
clenching fists
eying the heavens to ask
it doesn't seem much to ask
just a deadline
not even an hour
just a date
june 21st
for example
and then i can exhale and say
all right
i can hold out until then

i'm sure this is all very
character building
this uncertainty and fear
lessons i sorely need
in patience and reliance on others
and yes
i know i need to
let go let God
release it all and
take it day by day
all those old cliches
and aphorisms
and maxims
that are rooted in truth

but knowledge
and application
are two different things
i think i may be lacking the gene for patience
so i asked a friend to pull in her contacts
and see if they could splice me one
you see?
i'm already asking for help
and that's better than i used to be
when i thought i had to do everything on my own

maybe they'll earn a nobel prize
for genetics
by decoding a patience gene
and helping me out

until then
i sit here on the couch
remind myself to breathe
think a bit
pray a bit
and quell the urge to catch time by the throat
and throttle some certainty out of it

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dancing Queen

I told my good friend E about doing Zumba (and yes, it has been over a week since I've done that--your point? I've been busy! Or lazy. It depends.) and she almost immediately said You need to come salsa dancing with me! I've been waiting to find someone who would go with me! and told me about this bar near her that has free salsa lessons on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Free = Good, so I got my beloved brother to come up last night and watch my babies while I sailed off to swing my hips like a Hot Tamale.

Both E and I are those annoying sorts of people who like to be on time and even early for things, so after eating her yummy salmon (mmm! Omega-3 fatty acids FTW*!) we drove on down to the bar, only to discover that we were there 40 minutes before the upper floor/dance area was even open. So we sat and talked for a bit, then finally went upstairs only to discover that we were an HOUR early for the dancing to even start. Being women and good friends, we were just fine with sitting on a couch and talking nonstop until people finally started drifting in fifty minutes later. However, the actual start time was duly noted for future reference.

And then we danced.

Oh, it was fun! There was a wide mix of ages and ethnicities and sizes, and women only mildly outnumbered the men. Fortunately for us, Wednesday nights turned out to be solo nights where we learned the basic steps in a line-dancing sort of way, with the teacher taking us through progressively more complicated steps and combinations, calling them out on the mic. It turns out that my limited Zumba experiences did, in fact, help me out a bit, so I think I picked the moves up fairly well. I messed up from time to time, but the teacher never had to come correct me personally.

The lesson only lasted about 45 minutes, but E and I agreed that it was well worth it (what with being, you know, FREE) and that we would have to repeat the experience. So now we just need to figure out how to talk a couple of male people into coming along on a Thursday night so that we can learn partnering.

Anyone up for the job?

*for the web-lingo impaired: FTW = "For The Win"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Excuses, Excuses

Student Version: Why I Didn't Do The Homework 
(from this site)
  1. I didn’t do my history homework because I don’t believe in dwelling on the past.
  2. I didn’t want the other kids in the class to look bad.
  3. A sudden gust of wind blew my homework out of my hand and I never saw it again.
  4. Another pupil fell in a lake and I jumped in to rescue him.  Unfortunately, my homework drowned.
  5. Our furnace broke and we had to burn my homework to keep ourselves from freezing.
  6. I’m not at liberty to say why.
  7. I wanted to frame the detention letter you’re about to give me.
  8. It was destroyed in a freak accident involving a hippo, a toaster, and a bag of frozen peas.  You don’t want to know the details.
  9. I have a solar-powered calculator, and it was cloudy.
  10. I made a paper plane out of it and it got hijacked.
  11. My mom used it as a dryer sheet.
  12. My agent won’t allow me to publish my homework until my movie deal is finalized.
  13. It’s against my religion to do any homework.
  14. I was abducted by green-skinned, three-eyed, pig-snouted space aliens, and they incinerated my homework with their death rays.
  15. I felt it wasn’t challenging enough.
  16. My parents were sick and unable to do my homework last night.  Don’t worry, they have been suitably punished.
  17. We had homework?!
  18. I see your lips moving, but all I’m hearing is “blah, blah, blah.”
  19. I didn’t want to add to your already heavy workload.
  20. I spent the night at a rally supporting higher pay for our hard-working teachers.

Teacher Version: Why I Didn't Grade The Homework
(by TeacherMommy)
  1. A draft circulated through my room from the vents, and the friction caused by all those papers rubbing together resulted in spontaneous combustion isolated to my desk.
  2. I had to go to the ER to treat the blood loss sustained from all my paper cuts.
  3. I started reading the essays and suffered a brain aneurism.
  4. I fell asleep on the papers due to exhaustion and got ink poisoning.
  5. My children mistook the tests for scrap paper and used them for their latest art projects.
  6. My cat mistook the tests for kitty litter and...well, littered on them.
  7. The military has been taking up all my time having me train their best interrogators in the proper use of The Look. Soon they will be ready to add The Eyebrow.
  8. I strained my back carrying my laptop and bag of papers and had to go to the chiropractor.
  9. Oh, they're graded, but the computer hates me and won't let me enter the grades.
  10. It was the craziest thing. I left my room for five minutes to use the copier, and a miniature wormhole opened up over my desk and transported all the papers to the Gamma Quadrant.
  11. My nemesis in A pod papernapped all the essays. I'm negotiating for their release.
  12. I'm trying to get my Procrastination Badge. I've been working on it for years, but the organization keeps putting off the final test.
  13. I looked at the essays and decided I can't cure stupid.
  14. Next week is Spirit Week and I'm too busy trying to decide what to wear on the theme days.
  15. Did you know that Gmail chat suddenly works in the building?
  16. I'm very busy practicing my blogging writing skills.
  17. Since our salaries and benefits are likely to get slaughtered in the next contract negotiation, I've decided to start charging per paper. I'm waiting for my students to cough up the moolah.
  18. I'm staging a protest against the needless slaughter of squids by refusing to use ink.
  19. Sometimes it's just better not to know what is and isn't in those kids' heads.
  20. I have a life.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Some Styles Should Just Die a Quiet Death

O. M. G.

When I decided to declutter every custody weekend as my New Year resolution, I knew I'd probably come across some interesting finds. What I found the other night...Wow.

This weekend, since I was taken up with tending to snotty noses and cabin feverish kidlets, I decided to be ruthless with my hanging clothes, since that would be simple enough and wouldn't make much noise after bedtime. I grabbed a heavy duty garbage bag and waded in. Shirts that are baggy with much washing...gone. Skirts that haven't been worn in four years...pitched. Dresses that were given to me and never worn more than once or twice...bye bye.  And the contents of that hanging bag that is falling apart with age...HOLY CRAP.

Inside were two dresses that looked more like costumes than actual clothing items, at least to the contemporary eye. One was the equivalent of my prom dress, the dress I wore as a senior to the Junior-Senior Banquet back in 1995. Why have I kept it for nearly fifteen years, schlepping it across international waters and from abode to abode all this time? Pure sentimentality. Not for the night itself, which was rather forgettable (I didn't even have a date, though neither did a lot of other girls--there was a severe deficiency of males), but because I had chosen the fabrics and pattern as a sophomore while in the States, and my mother had made the dress for me for my senior year.

Somehow I can tell that the years 1993 and 1995 were involved:

In case you can't tell in this very poor-quality cell phone photo, it is made out of emerald green satin, the top part of which is solid sequins, with a large bow/fabric flower at the angled waist. And let's not forget the puffy sleeves.


Oh, that's right. It was the 90s. And I was a sophomore when I chose it, and the definition of "sophomore" is "wise fool"--i.e. someone who thinks she knows everything but doesn't.

And then there was this slinky black cocktail-style dress, also straight out of the late 80s/early 90s. I don't know if I ever wore it. I don't remember how I got it. But it stayed with me, just in case (of what, I have no idea):

The photo doesn't even come close to showing just how bad it really is. This one is also satin, though at least there are no sequins involved. There are, however, padded shoulders, a line of rhinestones adorning the (invisible in this photo) swath of extraneous fabric dangling from the waist, and (also invisible in this photo) lots and lots of ruching down the full-length sleeves and in the back. Leading down to the long almost-train of fabric ready to snag on one's heels at any time, of course.


I'd be cringing in embarrassment if I didn't think I have a better handle on fashion nowadays. Though of course I'll probably be saying the same thing about what I wear now in another fifteen years.

The good thing? I still fit in them! And I got a good chuckle AND a blog post out of the discovery.

Who said cleaning can't be fun?

Sunday, January 17, 2010


My friend Fraught Mummy (Brits in Bosnia) sent me this because of my ongoing problem with January. It's written and shot by an old friend of hers. It nearly made me cry. It's too perfect for how I've been feeling this month.

Thank you, Fraught Mummy! Sometimes it's little things like that that carry me through.

Seriously, When I Hear It "Take Off" I Want to Take Off Too

Why, I ask, are so many children's toys so damn ANNOYING?

They beep, they boop, they screech and ding and howl and flash lights and generally drive any reasonable adult within a twenty-foot radius absolutely insane. They also seem to involve a hundred little pieces that will get misplaced and be found by someone's unsuspecting foot--most often the innocent parent. Oh, and they all require a half-dozen batteries that die within a few hours' use. In order to remove and replace the batteries, one must first locate one of those tiny little screwdrivers that constantly vanish (much in the same way as the Second Sock Phenomenon) in order to unscrew the twenty tiny screws that keep our little darlings from accessing the batteries and nomming all that lovely battery acid.

I'd just let the batteries die, shrug, and say Oh, it's so sad! It must be broken. Might as well get rid of it, okay? if it weren't for the equally annoying (and noisy) wailing and gnashing of teeth that would ensue. I'm not sure which is worse, really.

And of course we all know who gives those gifts most often. That's right. People who are NOT the parents of the children. Because they don't have to deal with the horror. This last Christmas was particularly bad for my boys in this regard. The house is now filled to the brim with countless toys that are endangering my precarious sanity.

So those of you who do this? (You so know who you are.) I have a suggestion. Instead of spending vast amounts of money on noisy, annoying, expensive toys that will drive parents insane and be forgotten in a corner after a few months, get something simple. Avoid noises and flashing lights and tons of pieces and battery-requirements. Oh, and you really don't have to put the toy stores back in the black single-handedly. I guarantee that if you start doing this when they're young, they'll never miss the excess. I didn't.

And if you still feel like you need to spend more money? Get something useful. Like clothes they'll actually wear. Or a college fund. Or pay some of their daycare tuition.

Chances are the parents will appreciate that much more than some footlong space shuttle with realistic light and sound effects.

Not that I would know anything about a toy like that. Or desire to smash it into a hundred pieces.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Different Wavelengths

DramaBoy: Are you bored? Are you having fun, just sitting at your computer and watching TV?

Me: Yes, I'm having fun.

DramaBoy: No! You are NOT having fun! It is more fun to play! Don't you want to come upstairs and watch me play my game?

Me: That doesn't make any sense. Your game is a computer game. So wouldn't I just be sitting at the computer and sort of watching TV?



Three minutes later:

DramaBoy (with a tone of great concern): Mama, are you SURE you want to watch us play Batman? Are you SURE you want to watch us play?

Me: No, I'm not sure.

DramaBoy: Okay, you can watch us play. And then when you want to work, you can take your computer with you and not watch TV.

For two people as good with words and communication as we both are, I'm not convinced we're getting our messages across.

Friday, January 15, 2010

On Friendship, New and Old

Living a life of international transience as I did for so many years plays its toll on one's friend-making and -keeping. I am what is called a "Third Culture Kid," or TCK, and we have our own special little set of issues and challenges, just like every other fun little group. Different TCKs react differently to the kinds of experiences we've had.

My sister, for example, rather enjoys moving about from city to city, from state to state, and seems to get itchy feet when she's been in one place for more than a couple of years. She views moving as an exciting challenge, an opportunity to meet new people and explore new places. She can also walk into a room full of strangers and walk out with a half-dozen lifelong friends.

I, on the other hand, hate the idea of moving much at all. It's hard enough to think about moving as much as an hour away from people with whom I am close, much less to a whole different state. My roots are set pretty deeply in my area, even if it's not in a particular house. I do love to travel--but I need that stable home base to which I can return. I also struggled for much of my life to both make and keep friends.

I've mentioned before that I have a hard time connecting completely with anyone in my life, whether friends or family or significant other. Trust me, it's something that's been coming up a lot in conversations with my therapist and some loved ones. One result of this issue for me is that when I feel like a relationship is slipping away or becoming difficult, or if someone is phsyically leaving/moving, I start disconnecting emotionally, sort of a pre-emptive way of dealing with the pain. I know, not all that healthy of a move.

But when one says goodbye to person after person and friend after friend and family member after family member for years on end, one develops certain coping mechanisms, and that one was mine. Is mine.

There have been some friendships that have ended over the years because of the mechanism: some with a whimper or a fading sigh, and some with a bit of a bang. I also began to withdraw more than I should have from taking risks and making friends over the last ten years, for reasons a little too complicated and sensitive to go into here. At any rate, there are too many people with whom I used to be close (or as close as I would let them be) than with whom I was close in the last decade or so.

Last year when everything fell apart and I finally started the painful process of stripping away many of the Things and Issues that were clogging my psychological pores, I started opening up to people, slowly and bit by bit, but surely. People I already counted as friends become closer and more intimate friends. I made new ones. And now I'm starting to reconnect with former friends, and in some cases, right some wrongs and heal some hurts.

Blogging opened me up to making new friends I never would have made before--I count many of you, dear readers, in that number. Some of you have become particularly close, whether or not I've physically met you (yet). In particular, Arby, Mom Zombie, and my beloved Draft Queen have become people I consider close or even intimate friends, the sort of friends with whom I can talk about difficult things and confide in and listen to and have kick my ass from time to time when necessary. There have been times when each of those three people have made a difference in a moment, an hour, a day, and I am so grateful. Other readers (and you know who you are) have also made a difference, have become people whom I can trust and to whom I can reach out. I hope you feel the same way.

I already was on Facebook (under my real name, and no I'm not linking it here) before everything fell apart, and I had well over 200 people friended there (this is also a side effect of international transience and that whole boarding school thing), but I rarely communicated much of anything there or connected to anyone. I did reconnect in a general sort of way to Kathleen, who had been a childhood friend, and we also connected through our blogs, but I kept our relationship fairly casual. I was still holding people at bay.

That started changing when I started opening up last year. I now have a closer relationship to Kathleen than I would allow before. And over on Facebook I started connecting with people from my past in a more real way. Some I had known very superficially in the past, mostly through going to the same school. It's rather bizarre to find myself in a lengthy and honest online chat with people I wasn't sure even knew I existed back then. Others had been friends, though casual. Recently, however, I have started reaching out (rather than waiting for others to reach out to me) and consciously reconnecting with certain people.

There are several friendships that had faded with distance and time that I have rekindled. I am meeting one of those friends on Monday for coffee to catch up after almost eight years of rare communication. I am very excited to see her. Even more significantly, however, I have now reconnected with two women who used to be, at different points in my college years, the women with whom I considered myself best friends. Both of those relationships ended under painful circumstances. I had refused to acknowledge how painful those wounds still were until they started to heal, at long last, by connecting with those women.

Tonight one of them is coming to see me, to have spaghetti and garlic bread with me and my children and then just sit and talk once the boys are in bed. My friendship with her was one I had actually mourned, even though I wouldn't admit how much I was still bothered, some twelve years later, by how it had ended and by her absence in my life. Two weeks ago we talked on the phone for two hours, catching up and laughing and commiserating and, yes, apologizing at long last for our parts in how things played out lo! those many years ago.

I know many people think that all the online social networking and blogs and whatnot are silly or stupid or dangerous or whatever. To an extent, they're right. One really has to be cautious, because there are far too many dangers of all sorts lurking on the Web. However, my life would be considerably poorer and emptier without the people I have met or re-met through the Internet.

So regardless of the drama or blogger's block or necessary caution regarding privacy and all that sort of fun stuff, I'll keep blogging and social networking and flinging my thoughts and words out there across the ether. It's all worth it in the end.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Some Angels Come In Chocolate Flavor

Oh, my Widget. He's adorable, you know. Seriously, deep down, yummilicious, angel-boy adorable.

It's not just me who thinks so, I swear.

He's my shy one, but once people spend some time with him, he wiggles his way right into their hearts. And once he attaches, he's there for good.

Today when I picked him and DramaBoy up from school (as we call daycare, because really it is school for them rather than a glorified babysitting service), I was struck yet again by how he's charmed the staff. Any day I'm able to take my time rather than dash in and out, I have a half-dozen teachers tell me about something he did or said that day that just melted them. Today as I chased DramaBoy (who was extra-hyper, God help me) down the hall and The Widget marched along in my wake, I turned around just in time to see him blow a kiss to his teacher Miss T. at the other end of the hall.

Did you see that? she practically squealed to the Assistant Director. He blew me a kiss! Oh, how I love that boy.

Did I mention that, while shy, he is also an accomplished flirt and ladies' man? Sometimes it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

I'm so glad that he and DramaBoy are so different. I was worried all those years ago when I discovered I was going to have a second boy. Would I have enough room in my heart for two little boys? DramaBoy was so bright, so charming, so special. Would he suffer by having competition for attention? Would he resent his little brother? Would my new little boy suffer by never having sole focus? Would he always be compared to DramaBoy and live in his brother's shadow?

I think it would be much harder if they were more alike. They look very different, they act very different, they have different strengths and weaknesses. DramaBoy is flash and charm and laughter, a slim little mini-me who brightens every room he enters. He is precocious with language, already a wee wordsmith. The Widget is quieter, slower, more observant. He sits on the sidelines at first, watching and learning and assessing each situation. He is slower to put his trust in someone, but his waters run deep and true. He is slower with words and speaking (with an absolutely adorable voice, mind you), but quite amazingly dexterous and precise with physical manipulation of objects.

The thing that a lot of people don't get is that slower does not necessarily mean a lack of intelligence or ability. And there's no doubt that I have two very bright little boys on my hands. Which, really, is kind of scary. There are times when there's a certain look in The Widget's eyes that makes me wonder just what's going on in there. I think there are an awful lot of wheels turning, and it's a little intimidating to wonder where they're headed.

You see, they're both handfuls in their own ways, too. DramaBoy is more defiant, but The Widget is remarkably more stubborn. I may argue more with DramaBoy, but when The Widget gets his mind set on something, my stomach sinks.

Someday he may actually win. (Don't tell him I said so.)

But he melts my heart. There isn't a bad mood that can't be leavened when my curly-haird blondie crawls into my lap and whispers I love you, Mommy! What's even better is that he does that on a very regular basis.

And his kisses? They're chocolate flavored.

Like I said, he's yummilicious.


Hours remaining before final exams begin: 114.75

Hours remaining before (rough draft versions of, at least) final exams are due to the front office: 25.5

Number of exams to create: 7

Number of exams in partial existence: 7

Number of exams finalized in even rough draft form: 0

Number of days already spent half-heartedly "working" on exams: 8

Number of estimated hours needed to complete exams: enough to cause panic

Amount of intrinsic motivation I have to finish exams: 0

Number of anxiety dreams about final exams: 0

Number of anxiety dreams about all the other crap I'm dealing with these days: at least 5 that I can remember

I'm doomed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sometimes the Road Seems Endless. It's a Good Thing I'm Building Up My Endurance.

You may have noticed that I had a bit of a meltdown yesterday, dark attempt at humor notwithstanding. I'd love to tell you that things improved after that last post, but I'd be lying. And since my resolution last year was to live with honesty, and I'm still working on that, I won't lie to you.

My day got worse.

Maybe I should rephrase that. Other than an unexpected (read: I forgot all about it and was caught off guard by the reminder that I would have to sit through one of those mind-numbing time-wasters) staff meeting after work, there wasn't much that really was BAD about the day itself. The roads were driveable. No one delivered horrible news to me. A dear friend offered to write one of my vocabulary exams--and in the spirit of asking for and accepting help, which was another resolution/lesson of my last year, I accepted.

Yet my mood continued to spiral down until the panic was in control and logic was out the window. Rage started taking over: anger at the world, life, the universe, everything. I wanted to hit something or someone. I drove home and desperately worked out. For those forty-some minutes, in which I was pleased to discover I'm getting a handle on this Zumba workout, I was able to let go...mostly. And then the rage came back. So I took a long hot shower. And the rage came back. I texted a friend and she called me back and I paced in the snow for who knows how long pouring out my anger and hurt and panic and fear.

She told me I'm allowed to break down, I'm allowed to have my weak moments, I'm allowed to admit that sometimes LIFE SUCKS. If I don't let go and let it out from time to time, it will just build up and fester and prevent me from being strong all the other days and times when I need to keep it all together. Since that's the sort of thing that got me into my huge mess last year in the first place, I have a feeling she's right.

You see, while talking to her I finally put my finger on the trigger to yesterday's debacle. I had been going through my exams from previous years so that I could draw from them for this semester's exams. And I was missing exams from this time last year. Why, I wondered, didn't I have anything for my eleventh graders at all?

And it hit me. Last year at this time I fell into a black hole. Last year at this time I was absent from work for around three weeks. I vanished. I had no exams prepared, piles of papers left ungraded, and no lesson plans left for those struggling to make sense of my classes. My amazing colleagues pulled everything together for me. They parcelled out the papers and got them graded. They pieced together exams from other teachers' after consulting with my students about what we had covered. The head counselor even created, from scratch, an essay exam for my Media Literacy class, since I was the only teacher in the school who taught or had ever taught that now-defunct elective.

(They did this, mind you, without a word of complaint or censure or guilt-tripping. They were deeply worried for me. When I finally returned, all I heard from anyone was how relieved they were that I was back and that if I needed ANYTHING, just ask. They have continued to be a source of amazing support and love and generosity in all the time since. I am so blessed.)

But yesterday, when I realized why I was missing so much information, I was swept back for a moment into that time of despair. While I am so very, very much better in almost every way in comparison to that time, nevertheless...It was so difficult to revisit that darkness, even for a moment. And then the sheer weight of responsibilities and the chaos of my life and the uncertainty of this time, a year later, crushed me.

When I am at that level of stress and panic, the best thing for me is some sort of physical outlet. If I creep into a corner, the darkness wins. So even though I had already done a grueling workout, I took a walk. I walked down the road as quickly as my legs and boots and the snow would let me. After only a few minutes two pieces of advice came to me--Heidi's mention of meditating techniques and Arby's advice to pray. I knew there was no way I could put together an extemporaneous prayer in my mental state at that time, so I began to run through the Lord's Prayer in my mind, over and over again. Gradually I found a rhythm to the words. It became a chant, a mantra and prayer that moved from my mind to my tongue as I found myself marching down that dark, empty, snowy road.
Our Father which art in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts
As we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil
For Thine is the kingdom
And the power
And the glory
Forever and ever

As the words became smoother and flowed more naturally off my tongue, my mind finally could focus enough on what I was saying. Certain parts jumped out at me.

Give us this day our daily bread: I struggle constantly to focus on the day at hand. I have learned not to linger on the past much, but I worry about the future, all the things that are to come and over which I have so very little control. Here I ask for what is enough for this day. This one day, this one moment, and the simplest needs. Bread. Nourishment for body and (if one goes off into the philosophical and religious significance of the word) soul. Sufficient unto this day...And that's what I need. Enough for this day. Tomorrow will be time to ask for what is needed for tomorrow.

Forgive us our debts: So much of my darkness, both last year and now, was of my own making. Debts are both sins (the word trespasses is often used here) and what is owed. I feel, so very often, that I owe so much, too much, to everyone. I feel as if I have wracked up such a tremendous load of spiritual and emotional debt that there is no way I can ever repay it all. And I'm right. I cannot pay it back. So here I ask that those debts be forgiven--both the sins and that which is owed--so that I may walk free and light again.

As we forgive our debtors: But there is a codecil. Just as I ask to be freed of those debts, so must I free others. When I cling to resentments and angers and hurts, I not only refuse to grant that freedom of debt to others, I also refuse to free myself from the burden of being the debt-holder. When I harbor anger because someone has hurt me, I only poison myself. When I harbor resentment because someone has not acted or done or said what I want from them, I only worsen the situation. Last night I expected someone to be a mindreader, to magically understand that I was in a very bad state without my having to really express it verbally, to somehow know exactly what to say and do to handle the situation. I had to let go of my resentment and, without anger and without censure, let that person know what was going on and what I needed. I let go of the debt. And we were both freed and lightened and drawn closer in understanding. This is how it needs to be, both with those we love and with God.

Lead us not into temptation/But deliver us from evil: Tom Shippey suggests that these two lines emphasize the dual nature of evil. One kind lies within us--it is internal in both source and effect. Therefore we (I) ask that God not "lead us"--or perhaps, more clearly, allow us to lead ourselves--into temptation and darkness. This is all too real to me. Most, if not all, of my distress yesterday was created within my own mind. It was my own darkness. It was my own evil. And if there was an external source of Evil playing on that weakness last night, urging me on towards acts and words of anger, misplacing my own pain onto others...well then, we (I) ask that God "deliver us" from evil, both of the internal and external sorts.

God has that power.

After almost two miles of walking and chanting, I was finally calm enough and clearheaded enough to think through my situation and my reactions; thank God that I had not, in fact, said or done any of the things I had felt the urge to say and do; and work through where to go from there.

So I went home. I did and said what was needed, and I received the comfort that I needed.

And I ate pizza.

And today is better.

I am not naive enough to think this will not happen again. But this time last year I had almost none of the tools or support or wisdom that I needed to face my darkness, and yesterday's experience taught me that this year is indeed different.

It's another day. It's another step on that winding road, and even though the fog lies thick on the path right now, I know I've seen a glimpse of the joy that lies ahead. So I'm choosing to continue walking.

But MAN do my legs hurt.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sometimes It's All About Being One More, and Sometimes It's About Being One Less

I have made a crucial decision.

January sucks. 

Okay, that's not a decision. That's the reason for the decision. Let me get there.

January 2009 was the month when I hit just about rock bottom and disappeared (somewhat literally, especially from the point of view of my workplace) and somehow had to figure out a way to crawl back out of the hole I'd created.

January 2010, while certainly nowhere near the depths of last year, is not exactly going swimmingly. Eleven days in and I'm wondering when the gods are going to let up on whatever it is they're ticked about. I'm sure there's some sort of symbolic retribution and hubris and whatnot involved, but it bothers me that centuries after all that went out of style (you know, with the whole Fall of Rome and what I can only assume was the advent of Ragnarok since the Norse gods haven't exactly been showing up lately) the ghosts of capritious deities past are still messing around with the lives of mortals.

Why yes, I have been working on my Mythology exam. Your point is?

January was named after the Roman god Janus, one of the few of their gods not adapted from Greek culture, who was the god of beginnings/archways/doors. Apparently, Janus does not like me. He seems to be presenting me with the beginnings of bedlam, the doorways to doom, the archways to angst.

I'd really rather not.

So I think I'm going to get rid of January.

Just, you know, cut it out. Kaput. Gone. Hasta la vista. I'm going to stick to eleven months, which really is a better number than twelve, what with being prime and a nice double number. Neat. Orderly.

I know, I know, you probably wonder what my deal is with months, and perhaps (please, God!) things will exceed my low expectations like November did and the holidays did and all that, but for now...

You see my year? This one goes to eleven.

Some Days Are Worse Than Others. Today, For Example.

I should be writing exams.

I should be grading papers.

I should be writing a recommendation letter for a former student.

I should be creating sub plans for Wednesday when I'm in the curriculum committee meeting all day.

I should be figuring out financial terms and logistics for my divorce settlement.

I should be organizing my life and staying on top of things.

Instead I'm struggling to keep focused on anything at all, eating chocolate like it's gone out of style, and wondering why my anxiety meds aren't helping much today. I have zero sense of humor. I am fairly sure I have yet to smile at a student today. I haven't yelled either. Just stared. Working does nothing but increase the panic. Activities that usually relax and rejuvenate me are doing nothing. I even read a couple of blogs that should have had me laughing and instead found myself staring dourly at the screen, wondering if anyone would like to take over writing my blog until I get over this dark time.

It seems like almost every possible little thing is triggering my anxiety today. All I can think about is somehow making it through the remainder of my classes, making it through the staff meeting this afternoon, making it through the brief meeting with colleagues about the final exams, making it through the commute home, then getting into workout clothes and sweating my way through the Zumba workout. That would be almost an hour that leaves me with no room for outside thought, no time to worry, nothing but physical movement and breathing and gasping and jelly legs. Right now that hour of working out seems to be the only thing I have any ability to control or handle.

But then the hour would be over. And reality would face me again: pain, stress, uncertainty of future, fear of failure, fear of what others think of me, fear of what tomorrow holds.

This is all I have right now. There's nothing else to offer you.

Friday, January 8, 2010

And These Are Just the Ones I'm Willing to Put Into Print. Imagine What I'm NOT Telling You.

Oy. And vey, for that matter. I received very few responses to my plea for help yesterday, which makes me think that (1) you aren't able to come up with good ideas either, (2) most of you either already know everything about me or (3) don't care, or (4) you hate me.

And in Arby's case, #4 may be true even though he posted a topic idea. (Of course, this is the same sort of sadistic stuff I would do to him if he asked for topic ideas, so I can't hold it against him. Too much. We English teachers, former or current, are a twisted people.)

So...what do I write today? Monica had a question about my most embarrassing moment, and when I read it my mind instantly filled with a dozen memories all clamoring for attention. The sad truth is that I remember my embarrassing moments (and yes, that is VERY plural) all too well. Probably for the rest of my life. Because I'm special that way.

This topic also works because I managed to slip on some water in the hall this morning and take a very ungraceful fall. Fortunately there weren't many students around yet, so I was only mildly embarrassed. Unfortunately the students who were there treated the event like I was some poor elderly person. You know, all like You've fallen and you can't get up! Did you break a hip? Can I help you? Should I call the administrators? An ambulance? The SWAT team? Are you sure you're okay, ma'am???

I'm thinking I would have preferred some mocking laughter. Maybe even a little light finger pointing. Then I wouldn't have felt about, oh, eighty or so.

Back off, AARP.

In the larger scheme of thing, there are a few embarrassing moments that top the list for one reason or another, and since I already confessed the fall this morning and my brilliant head-bashing from last week, I might as well continue to bring laughter into the world at my expense.

You're welcome.

The Humiliating Incident of the Stranger at Half-time

I rarely attend sporting events, but back in college I did go to one college football game at the Spartan Stadium. I have no recollection whether we won or lost. What I do remember is during half-time when we were actually sitting on the benches rather than standing on them, I looked around to see if I recognized anyone in the student section. Because I was so popular, yo. I spotted a guy just a couple of rows back and thought Hey! Isn't he in my lit class? I think he is! 

And instead of just smiling and nodding and moving on, I decided that I was going to show the people I was with that hey, I KNOW people, okay? I am COOL and stuff. So I called out to him, Hey, Tim [we'll say that was the name, because this detail escapes me]! Did you get that reading done? Crazy stuff, isn't it? or something along those lines. He looked a little surprised, and he smiled at me hesitantly, so I carried on, manic smile plastered across my face, babbling about the last lecture and the paper that was due and blah blah blabbidy blah.

His friends started chuckling. Then he did too. And that's when I realized: Tim (or whoever I thought he was) didn't have a beard. And this guy did. More of one than could have been produced in the two days since we'd been in class together.

I grinned again, trying to pretend huge waves of humiliation were NOT in fact washing over me, turned back around, and made sure never to look behind me the remainder of the game. Yeah. I was one Cool College Chick, alright. *snort*

A Rose by Any Other Name

One of my great failings as a teacher is my persistent inability to remember names. Every year I offer extra credit to students who can get me to remember their names after the first two weeks of school--through positive means, of course. Spray-painting my car is a no go. I always warn them that my brain is capable of blanking completely at any moment, however, and so I will most likely get their names wrong many, many times for the rest of our time together.

There was one time, however, when my little problem became, well, a little more problematical.

Parent-Teacher Conferences are rather exhausting. Before the advent of online grade checks, parents did not always know how their children had been doing before they came to see the teachers. After endless streams of five-minute conversations with parent after parent after parent, one's brain becomes a little numb. At least, that's what I tell myself when I remember this one conference about five years ago.

My line was huge that fall, for whatever reason, and a set of parents I had never met sat down and told me their child's name and hour. He had a common first name--Justin or Andrew or Alex or something like that. Let's call him Alex. I grabbed the grade sheet from that hour's pile and launched into my explanation about why Alex had a less-than-desirable grade and how he needed to turn his work in on time and pay more attention in class and blah blah blah.

His parents looked at me a little shell-shocked, mumbled something about this not having been a problem before and they'd absolutely get right on him, and stumbled away, presumably weeping inside about their wayward son.

Twenty minutes later another couple sat down. And they gave me their son's name. And I realized, to my horror, that I had mixed up the two boys and had told the parents of an A student that their son was nearly failing my class.

The telephone conversation I had the next day was such fun.

Gone with the Wind

My tenth grade year (during which I was in Michigan) there were three girls with whom I was friends: A, L, and C. We hung out. We were a pack. We fractured immediately after that year, but it was the one furlough I was here in the States when I felt like I belonged to a little group, however dysfunctional and bitchy we were.

I was quite socially awkward, really, but tried to fit in. So when C threw a birthday party and invited lots of people and I was there too, I tried my best to be cool. You know, one of the gang. At first, all went well. We did some sort of mall activity, and afterward went to C's house for food and movies. I have never been one of those girls who limits her food intake to supermodel levels when in the presence of males, and I was hungry that night. So I loaded up my plate with chips and salsa, sat on the floor, and dug in while Batman Returns ran on the VCR. About five minutes later, the Great Disaster occurred.

I farted.

It wasn't huge, it wasn't long, it wasn't even nasty: it was one of those all-too-audible poots that just escape.

It might as well have been the loudest, longest, nastiest farts ever produced by a member of the male species as far as the other teens were concerned. Gales of laughter broke out, and one girl managed to squeeze out through her giggles, Oh look at her plate! No wonder, with all that salsa!!! And more laughter ensued.

In my memory, every face was on me, every mouth was gaping open, every finger was pointed. It was horrific.

I ran into the kitchen and called my dad and begged him, through sobs, to come get me rightawayrightnowican'tstayhere! Then I huddled by the wall and tried to disappear. Another girl that I knew a little came in and opened her mouth to say something--and I slapped her. I slapped her face and hissed that she and everyone else was horrible, mean, awful, and I wished they would all just go away. She did.

I found out three weeks later, when we finally started talking to each other again, that she had come in to see if I was okay and to try to comfort me.

C never even spoke to me about it. She was having too much fun with her other friends to care.

Eventually I got over it all. But to this day, that remains one of the most humiliating events of my life, all the more so because the consequences lasted for weeks. My soul still shrivels a little thinking about it.

Ah, good times.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Not That I'm Desperate For Topics or Anything *Ahem*

Okay. I mentioned before that it gets tricky these days to come up with topics for this blog, because of the whole minefield of my personal life and whatnot. I mean, posts about the Great Toilet Paper Hanging Debate are fabulous in their own right (and yes, Lauren, I absolutely came up with that one while sitting on the pot after a friendly debate over that very topic with someone), but I can't write about that every day.

(Though seriously, take the little poll over in the upper right-hand corner, because that's blog fodder for next week. You have until 9 a.m. next Wednesday, January 13th, to vote.)

So I'm going to take a page from a few other bloggers' books sites, so to speak, and ask you, my beloved readers, to help me out. In the comments on this post, please ask me questions, humorous or serious, that you would like me to answer. I don't promise to answer them all (especially if doing so would set off one of those mines), but I'll do my best!

And if you have a brilliant topic in general that you think I would write about well, please feel free to send that my way as well.

Please don't let me down! I don't care if you're a longtime reader or a recent visitor, a family member or someone I've never met: JUST LEAVE A COMMENT! (Well, you know, with a question or topic suggestion.)

You can DO it!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Because It's Not Just Kids Who Have a Sense of Toilet Humor (Warning: Not for the Overly Squeamish)

For decades people have discussed, debated, argued, and even screamed about an enormously important issue that is central to the lives of most Americans. Friends discuss it in a friendly fashion--unless they are roommates and on opposite sides of the issue, in which case the friendliness vanishes. Advice columns cover the topic once annually to address the flood of letters. Spouses seek counseling over it. For some dating couples, this crucial issue can be a deal breaker.

I speak, of course, of the Great Toilet Paper Hanging Debate.

Over or Under? Chances are you have an opinion, and it's a strong one. For many, the directionality of the toilet paper roll on the toilet paper holder is passed down from generation to generation. In peaceful households, all are in agreement, until some interloping in-law introduces riotous disfunction when he or she loads a new roll improperly. In other, less fortunate households, the debate rages on between family members, leading to sneak attacks and middle-of-the-roll alter[c]ations.

Most advice columnists say there is no Right or Wrong way to hang the roll, that the choice is ultimately up to the individual--and therefore an ongoing issue for debate. However, I am happy to inform you that there is, indeed, a Right way to hang the toilet paper roll, and I have incontrovertible support for my position.

Diagram courtesy of treehugger.com

I'm so sorry, Under people, but you are Wrong. The only Right way to hang toilet paper is Over, and there are three strong reasons for this.

Any parent who has potty-trained a child knows that the ultimate goal is for that child to be able to wipe his or her own butt. Even after the days of diapers are long past, every parent knows all too well the lilting song that issues from the bathroom, often loudest in public restrooms, of Mommy! Daddy! Come and wipe me! There may no longer be a soggy disgusting diaper of which to dispose, but for quite some time you must still place your hands into the depths and wipe off what your child cannot reach.

Or you could just deal with some truly disgusting laundry and bad cases of rear-end rash. Your pick.

Therefore, anything that simplifies the transition to your child being able to do the wiping is all to the good. Watch a child attempt to gather toilet paper sometime. Toilet paper that hangs Over the roll is simpler by far for those chubby little fingers to grasp than the elusive end trapped behind the bulk of the roll in the Under position. Be kind to your child. Use the Over position.

A similar situation applies to adults as well. No doubt everyone has experienced middle-of-the-night bathroom adventures, usually complicated by an inability to wake fully during the experience and a reluctance to turn on any lights. In such a semi-somnolent and darkened state, the last thing anyone wants to do is fumble for the end of the toilet paper, again trapped behind the bulk of the roll in the Under position. Likewise, not all toilet paper hangers offer easy access to Under-hung toilet paper, particularly in public restrooms. Just yesterday, at a doctor's office, I found myself in the highly frustrating situation of fighting to get more than a few shreds of flimsy single-ply paper off an Under-hung roll a little too big for the limited space between hanger and wall. Granted, I would have struggled somewhat even if the roll was Over-hung, but the fight would have been far simpler to win. At the very least, the shreds of paper would have been significantly larger and more useful.

Besides the issue of easy access, however, we must acknowledge the crucial component of cleanliness. Bathrooms and toilets are already germ factories, and any reduction we can make in the general nastiness is vital. When toilet paper is Under-hung, people's hands come into contact with far more paper than necessary, especially on second and third wipings (for those of us who are thorough and therefore civilized). Just imagine the filth that is left behind for the next person to use that roll! I shudder to even think of it.

So if you have been hanging your toilet paper properly (i.e. Over), then give yourself a pat on the back--once you've washed your hands thoroughly, of course. And if you have been falling into error all this time (i.e. using the Under method)...

Repent. There is still time to mend your ways. Forgiveness is freely offered.

I'm generous like that.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Because, Apparently, When I Get Anxious I Attack Myself

I forgot my cell phone at home today.

I have chosen to believe that this is the reason for the tightness in my throat and chest and arms and all those other lovely symptoms of a low-level anxiety attack. Because honestly, I am so tired of the drama.

It's my own drama, mind you. I live it, I fight it, I even create it. (I know, big surprise.)

But I am tired of it. And lately I've been feeling that urge to just run away and leave it all behind. Yesterday I chose to bury myself in bed and force myself to take a brief nap rather than call work and tell them I'd be gone for another couple of days, so sorry, can't be helped, and drive Somewhere, Anywhere. Even though it would only be for 48 hours because I will be there on Wednesday to pick up my boys from daycare. It would have been a temporary running-away. I'm not leaving my children.

That's for damn certain.

Running away doesn't solve anything, though, so I slept for about twenty minutes instead and then got up and did some grading and read some of a fascinating critical analysis of Tolkein's work (which even inspired me to underline and comment in the margins all academic-like) and exercised for about forty minutes and ate spaghetti and very consciously chose to Chill Out.

I should probably do this more often. Well, except for the spaghetti part, though I am looking forward to my leftovers at lunch. Tonight I will have barbequed chicken and I'm thinking perhaps there should be something green and vegetably as a side.

Stress and anxiety are generally agreed as being Bad For Your Health, and I've been evidencing this lately. Among other things, I've been increasingly klutzy, which can be rather embarassing when the evidence cannot be hidden easily. Last week I managed to get all distracted and close the door to my car's trunk on my head.


Done laughing? Good. Let me explain, just a little. My car (a Saturn Vue) was in a closed garage with enough space to open the trunk and place things inside, but not enough to stand directly behind it while doing so. I had been putting things in the trunk and got distracted by some falling leftovers in the bag in my hand and tried to close the door.

My head kinda sorta got trapped between the (closed) garage door and the car door. Which left a nice big bleeding dent in my forehead. Right in the middle, where my hair will not cover it. I also had some nice lumps elsewhere on my head, though I didn't notice them until much later, after the throbbing faded in my forehead.

I am proud to say that I managed to refrain from crying or screaming. I applied ice and waited almost an hour to make sure I wasn't concussed before I drove away.

It's been interesting to watch the progression of the gash. It's been even more interesting to field the questions I get from everyone. Those who do not know me well ask if alcohol was involved. There are also the looks of concern that say, very clearly, Yeah right. You hit your head on a door? That's an old one. Quite a few mothers assume one or both of my children must have been at fault.

The general response to my (truthful and self-deprecating) explaination is...laughter. Some people are more polite and at least TRY to conceal their mirth. Others just guffaw.

It's okay.


Because no one else can make me feel any stupider about it than I already do. And I'm okay with that.

Obviously, having a Master's degree does not mean a person is always all that bright. And I can't be perfect all the time. That would be too boring.

God forbid that I be boring. Then I really would have something to panic about.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I'll Keep You Posted (Ha Ha) On How This One Goes

There are many resolutions I could and should make for this year, this year of Clarke-ian significance, this Twenty-Ten. (Am I the only one relieved for a date that's easy to say, finally?!?) If I were to list all the resolutions that crossed my mind in the last few weeks, this is what you would see--though of course, this means I AM listing all the resolutions that crossed my mind in the last few weeks. Whatever.

The List I Could Write and Maybe Would If I Was More, You Know, Masochistic

1. Exercise for at least half an hour at least five times a week. And walking around while teaching can't count.
2. Eat healthier food cooked at home rather than resorting to fast food and boxed carbs so often. Tossing frozen peas in mac 'n' cheese is insufficient. Of course, it would help if there were even any frozen peas in the freezer to begin with.
3. Get papers graded no less than one week after they are turned in. Oh, and actually remember to return them to the students too.
4. Make more money and spend less.
5. Be neater. Okay, just be neat. Tidy, even.
6. Write wonderful, witty, inspiring posts on a regular basis. Perhaps win some blog awards.
7. Write a book. Or at least a good portion of one.
8. Stay caught up on reading blogs too. And commenting.
9. Get rid of the house. Please. Anyone want to buy a house? It's a nice house. I just don't want it. Oh, and if you would actually pay what we OWE rather than what that pesky housing market says it's WORTH, that would be so nice.
10. Win friends and influence people. Without having to read some stupid self-help book.

So some of these are actually within the realm of possibility, at least in part, especially if I have a little will power. Numbers 1, 2, and 3 are quite reasonable. Well, maybe not five times a week for number one. Three times? I could at least try.

And I've even gotten a decent start on some others. Number four, for example. I'm trimming excess spending already. I also am looking into picking up some tutoring hours--I advertised on Craigslist and I've already gotten a couple of bites. It would be nice to pay off some of those debts...

(Hey, if any of you live in the area and want a really good Language Arts tutor for your kid, let me know! Seriously. I'm good at it and I could use the money. Ahem.)

Numbers 6 through 10? Well. We'll see. (I really, really would like number nine to come true, but it's a little tough to make it an actual resolution.)

Ah, but number five...

I've never been the neatest person in the world. Okay, Mom, stop laughing. You too, Lauren. And SoccerSister. And soon-to-be-ex-husband. Oh, and all you former students.


This does not mean, however, that I do not appreciate a clean environment. I do. I just am not all that great at the little stuff. The not-leaving-things-all-over stuff. The maintenance stuff. The Clutter stuff.

Recent months have influenced me for the good, however. First, sharing residences with an ex (you know, the whole trading off on the house with the kids thing?) means that each of us needs to leave the place neat and tidy before the other person moves in on those toggle days. It keeps things sane and (more) drama-free. So I've been having to clean up and tidy much more than I did in the past. I'm getting almost used to it.

Also, Joe's house is delightfully clutter-free and he keeps it very tidy. He tends to keep things as simple as possible in his life, and I've found some inspiration in that. This approach worked pretty dang well for Christmas, and I'm thinking maybe it's one I could apply to other areas of life too.

So my real, very concrete, very doable resolution for 2010 is to Declutter. Specifically, every weekend when I have custody of the boys and therefore am in the house, I will produce AT LEAST one large box or bag of Stuff to donate or toss.

Trust me, there's enough to keep me going all year.

Today I went through the boys' toys and books and clothes, and I managed to produce a very large bin of books and toys for donation, a garbage bag full of trash, and a small pile of outgrown clothing. So I'm already good for the first custody weekend of the year! In two weeks, I plan to tackle my own closet. That may take a month...

And overall? The word of the year, this nice, neat, tidily-numbered year of 2010, is SIMPLIFY.

Because my life is complicated enough without cluttering it up with all the extras.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

In Which I Ramble and Debate Existence as an Appliance

So I seem to have added a follower in the last couple of days, which is amazing because hello, haven't been here much. Nevertheless, gratifying and all that.

I seem to be in a blogging block right now, and even though I understand WHY, it's a little difficult to figure out how to overcome it all. Because people, there are so many things I CAN'T talk about on here that it's becoming difficult to figure out what I CAN talk about.

Things I Can't Or Won't Discuss On Here (At The Moment or At Least At Any Length):
1. My divorce--you know, all those legal things and not wanting to create drama if I can help it
2. My ex--because he doesn't want me to and I'm not sure how to write about him anyhow
3. My boyfriend--because he also likes some privacy and it seems like a lot of my family is all weirded out about me having one anyways and, you know, the divorce is still ongoing and all that crap
4. My angst--well, I could, but I don't want to because there's been too much of that and I'm getting sick of myself already

So on the rare occasions lately that I've even sat down at the computer, I find myself in the virtual equivalent of blank face and gaping mouth. What I do write seems to come across flat and uninspired. My sense of humor seems to be lacking, for one thing, at least when I write here.

Believe it or not, I still do have one. It just seems to be reserving itself for Real Life. Ask my friends--I've been making jokes and laughing and being snarky as usual. Really. But when I sit down here...it all seems to fade.

This post was a lot funnier in my head. You know, while I was sitting on the toilet thinking about posting something for once.

Isn't it phenomenally unfair how the best posts seem to come at the worst times? I'll be driving or in the shower or on the toilet or in the middle of teaching or cooking (ha!) or out on a four-wheeler or something, anything that means I cannot sit down right that minute and even jot ideas down, much less get online and write the post. I'm a brilliant writer in my own mind. Unfortunately, my mind doesn't come with a secretary.

That would be an awesome invention, you know. Some sort of device that could plug into the brain and record ideas when you want it to. Then you could work with the text later. Oh, I know there are those little note takers and voice recorders and all, but really, I need something that jacks into my brain directly.

No doubt this would lead to all sorts of horrific brain hacking and greymatter viruses, though, and then we'd just all be destroyed.

Of course, my brain already was hacked by the two little parasites I grew in my womb. I'm pretty sure they downloaded most of my brainpower between the two of them. It's hard to resent it too much, though, because they are awfully bright and brilliant and beautiful, those boys.

Me (cuddling boys close after mediating a wrestling match to determine who got to hug me the most): I love my boys!

DramaBoy: I love my girl!

The Widget: Yeah, I love my grill!

Me (laughing): Oh, so I'm a grill?

DramaBoy (grinning mischievously): Yeah, and I'm a stove!

I'm glad SOMEONE has a sense of humor around here.
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