Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Friday, April 13, 2007
All Work and No Play Makes Beth a Crazy Girl
I've finally sought therapy. And am considering medication. It's a little scary. Apparently my giant impotent rage intersected with my paralyzing fear in a bad way. Huh. Imagine.
So now I have some kind of anxiety disorder accompanied by obsessive tendencies.
You know, I always thought that was just my personality. And I guess it kind of is, except that various life experiences have exaggerated the parts of my own personality that would like very much to crush me, and I haven't had an equal number of experiences that would've helped me to learn to get over it. I can't seem to get over anything, as it turns out.
It's all about lack of control, I guess. But really, what do I know? I'm just a stunted teenager who fears getting into trouble and therefore can't fess up to having fucked up.
The secret is avoidance, people! Avoid-avoid-avoid! And all will be magically fine!
Oops, except for those W2s and that uncle. Damnation. It's always something.
I've only been to therapy twice so far, but I like the woman very much. She's cool. I wish I could talk to her for like 6 hours at a time, while drinking coffee on a couch with squishy pillows and our shoes off. I'm greedy.
Luckily, Andy didn't divorce me or anything. I'm really lucky. He's under so much stress, and he's got me to freaking deal with, but he doesn't ever leave. Huh. Imagine.
I love him so much it makes me cry all the time, because I don't know how I got this lucky, and I feel I don't always deserve him, and I'm constantly terrified he will get fed up and leave, but somehow he doesn't, and then I feel even more abject and grateful. He's so beautiful and good, it makes my heart scoot up into my throat.
And the kids are fine. Ethan is gearing up for a trip to Italy with the children's choir this summer and is beginning to play at having "girlfriends" (EEP!), Simon is brightly charming his way through French kindergarten, correcting my accent here and there, and Charlotte is adorable and tiny and hilarious and loves me ferociously.
I can't seem to get pictures uploaded. Weird. I guess I'll add them to Flickr, and hope they show up on my badge there on the right. I don't know what I'm doing anymore!
To my internet friends, if you're still out there. I have visited your places, but haven't had the courage to comment, because I'm so ashamed of myself. I miss you, and I'm sorry.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
I'm still alive... just barely
Ethan auditioned and made it into the next highest level of choir, and will be touring Italy with them next summer. He and I are both thrilled! He also won a surprise writing award for a contest we didn't even know his teacher had entered him in. Still Star Wars graphic novel-obsessed, which is fine by me. He's taking tennis lessons twice a week, and is on the local park's swim team with his cousin four mornings a week. We thought it was important that he had some experience being on a team, and getting good exercise. I'm really proud of his progress. He's such a sweet child, as always, and will be fighting off les filles in his first year of middle school this fall, I predict.
Simon is still adjusting to being a middle child, almost 2 years in. He also is blessed with his brother's sweetness, but paired with a more overtly theatrical personality. Sometimes he looks so much like an otherworldly elfling that it makes me catch my breath. He is so smart, and reading chapter books with his daddy, getting ready for the French program kindergarten at his brother's school. His vocabulary astounds me, as do his developing gymnastics skills. He's been very into tie dye lately, and can frequently be seen sporting tie dye underwear, socks, and t-shirts. He's like an adorable little hippy elf.
Charlotte is utterly hilarious, and speaks mostly in vowels. I am "Mimi" and Andy is "Yaya." Which, I think, makes us sound like old Belgian people. Or maybe Dutch, I'm not sure. She jumps on our big old hillbilly trampoline at every opportunity, and hops/somersaults her way through life, even when she encounters concrete. I believe that's a character trait I can get behind, even if it's so foreign to my own melancholy disposition. She's just a creature of light. She loves bugs as well as my make up. Go figure. Some kind of girly tomboy anomaly. Most of the time, all I have to do is look at her, and I laugh. Which is a gift.
All of my children are spectacularly gifted.
I used to be. I hope I will find myself again this fall. November always brings me to my true self. I am living on the shred of a hope that this November will find me haunting patches of moonlight again, as I did in days of yore. I miss that me.
Some pix, for your enjoyment.
Friday, March 24, 2006
I'm not cry-y mom. I'm so not. But, when all the parents were clustered around the Northwest escalator waiting for our orange-clad world-travelers to descend, I started to feel a little funny. Then, as the first-class and business class people started coming down, asking if we were waiting for the kids from Paris, and smilingly reassuring us that they were here, coming any minute now... I started to feel even funnier. Then, as the kids finally appeared, and I was taking pictures, and suddenly Ethan was there hugging me, there were these odd water droplets in my eyes. Huh. It wasn't relief, or reuniting... it was just happiness. Happiness in his presence. I missed that more than I realized.
Doesn't he look capable and self-sufficient, carrying all that luggage? That's his dad in the background, by the way.
Simon was quite glad to see his brother again, as you can see.
As was his dad. It was really sweet. The guy hugged him for the loooooongest time. He almost couldn't bear to let go.
I look like a giant purple hippo in this picture, but maybe you can see the tears in my eyes, just a little?
Sometimes Ethan is such a boy. I think if he were a girl, I would have heard a lot more description of his stay in France, and of the people he stayed with. Girls (hate to be stereotypical, but it's true) just seem to be better at detailed description. Here's what I know. He had a super duper time, and I am most proud of 3 things:
1) He tried new foods. Even escargot! Dude is a seriously picky eater, but he tried everything, and even liked most of it. Good for him. He was especially keen on the pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) and some kind of chocolate yogurt he had for breakfast every morning. And the "round bread" his host mom bought for him every day.
2) One of the chaperones who went was his English teacher, who is considerably older than the other two twenty-somethings. I'm sure this makes her slower getting around, and probably a bit stodgier. This means that she is definitely not as "cool," right? She's a lot like my mom, actually. Ethan told me that he spent a lot of time with her, and was always in the back of any lines with her, because most of the other kids were just busy having fun, and being kids, and stuff, and so she was a bit ignored. But he is so kind, and so thoughtful (and also so attuned to my arthritic-kneed, stationary mother) that he kept this teacher company, and moved at her pace with her. She shared this with me as well. How on earth did I manage to create this sweeter than sweet person? And what will happen to him in the big, wide, mean world? Well, anyway, I am prouder than I can say of this boy and his sensitive treatment of others.
3) He brought back the most thoughtful souvenirs for everyone in the family. Stereotyping again: boys aren't always the best at this, no? But dudes, he's ELEVEN and he knows to bring quince jam for Andy, and caramels for my mom and dad, and adorable hair clips for Charlotte, and a knight-themed magazine packaged with a cunning little toy dagger for Simon, and a black necklace for me. I'm stunned.
Ethan's teacher told me that his host family was lovely. The mom was a teacher, and the three daughters had way too much fun mothering and feeding and entertaining Ethan. Apparently, he was deeply immersed in the European kiss-kiss greeting, and all the little girls loved kiss-kissing him. Which he loved as well, except when it came from guys. So Ethan took to extending his hand for a manly American handshake to any men who attempted the kiss-kiss. His host family apparently thought this was hilariously adorable. Heh.
What a wonderful experience he had. I'm so glad I nervous-breakdowned my way through that first freelance job to pay for it. Totally worth it. His French is magnifique now!
Speaking of freelancing, they are now hiring me on in a fuller capacity through August, to write 5 more criminal justice classes. I'll be like a major! Maybe I'll be a cop! In order to make this happen, Andy and I have agreed that I cannot continue to pull overnighters. I'm almost 40, for crying out loud! It takes me like 3 days to recover! So, in order for me to be able to work during the day, we're seeking someone to watch Simon and Charlotte 2 days a week. This was a really difficult decision for me, as I was so committed to staying home with them, but our financial situation has gotten to the point where this is just necessary, and I think it's a good compromise. Charlotte will love it, I'm confident. Andy's also going to look into getting me a refurbished laptop, so I can go work somewhere else, because I have a hard time concentrating here chez nous.
I'll be making scads (for me) of money, as long as I can retain my sanity. Working on that too, by the way. I want to sock it away for the boys' schooling. Simon is so smart. He deserves to go to a great school, you know? You should hear him whizzing through Dr. Seuss. It's beautiful! Talk about getting schmoopy! I practically lose it every time!
I include the following pictures because they make me laugh. My niece had a superhero party for her 3rd birthday, and Charlotte went as Supergirl. She had an absolutely cracking good time. Don't even try to tell her it isn't very badass to be hauling around a milk bottle. She won't even have that.
Simon had another excuse to don his favorite, bemuscled Power Ranger costume. He is deeply into them, I'm afraid. He appears to have gotten it from his father, whose powers, I think, originate in his deeply hott spectacles. Mmmm... spectacles...
Monday, March 13, 2006
1) Brand new cake of soap. Ahhhhhh.....
2) A HUGE, long, beautifully hand-written letter from Yucaree. JOY!!
3) Taking a shower with Charlotte, and holding her small, silent, slippery body close while we stood rocking slightly under the warm water, with her wet little head on my shoulder. Communion.
4) Spinning a penny on the floor with Simon, over and over yesterday, while Andy and Charlotte slept. Simple, fun, communion.
5) Sitting for a few uninterrupted minutes in Andy's lap, like newly dating people, before Charlotte demanded to join us. Missed that.
6) Opening the windows during yesterday's rain. It's been raining for DAYS now (Andy had to vacuum the ponds out of our basement - sigh) and it's been freakishly warm (I guess we aren't getting a winter, after all) so our house got really stuffy and hot, and the open windows were delightful. Especially with the soft rain outside. Nice. One forgets how great fresh air is.
7) Got to wear my orchid-colored raincoat. I LOVE my orchid-colored raincoat.
8) Simon started reading by himself last weekend. Like, all of a sudden, he just started sounding things out, like you're supposed to, and he even read the word "stretch"! Andy and I didn't want to freak out too much in his presence, because we didn't want to stress him out with pressure, and you're suposed to make those moments all about their own ownership of their achievement ("I bet you feel PROUD of yourself, don't you?") rather than about pleasing you. But DANG! Privately, I did a very VERY ecstatic dance and promptly called up everyone I know to brag. He's so smart, you guys. We never really sat down and, like taught him. We just read to him all the time. I knew all those books sitting around here would pay off!
After Ethan's chaperones posted some pictures on the school website of the kids over in France, I finally felt the full force of missing him, and called him for the first time. I was all, "Bonjour! Je suis la mere d'Ethan! Je voudrais parler a mon fils!" Or some such old-lady-sounding, stilted version of French. He was happily playing Le Connect Quatre with the girls, and super excited about the dinner his host mom was preparing. Some kind of quiche with ham AND bacon. His salt-loving heart was thrilled. He told me she buys him a special round loaf of bread every day, because he eats so much of it. Also, they toured the downtown area of the town in which they're staying, which has many traces of its medieval past, including a cathedral that left him awestruck. He said it was the most beautiful thing he's ever seen, when the sun came in through the stained glass and colored the air and the floor. He's my boy. I remember entering St. Chapelle in Paris and just bursting into tears from the sheer beauty of the place. All by myself, sitting on a bench, crying. He's also spending all his money on gifts for us. Such a sweetheart. They've been to a cheese factory and the local market, and the Normandy beaches and American and German cemeteries, and several other points of local interest, and they'll be going to a carmel factory this week. He went to Mt. St. Michel with his family! In short, he's having a totally awesome time. He comes home Friday evening. I can't wait to see him, and to take in the changes I'm sure will have taken place.
I'm still freelancing. It's so weird. The lady who is the boss of me likes me, no matter how screwy and behind the deadline I get. She keeps offering me more work, and trying to schedule things around my life, and figuring out how to get me more money, and talking about future managerial positions, and stuff. I must be good at this, for all it totally and utterly terrifies me. I'm thinking about having someone watch Simon and Charlotte a couple days a week so that I can work during the day rather than overnight, because that's killing me. It's so hard to trust your kids with someone else. I've done institutional daycare, as well as in-home, and none of them have worked out well. Ack. More stress. But we totally need the money, and it's a way for me to build a resume, and, you know, Charlotte at least would probably LOVE daycare. Other kids, other environments, stiumLAtion!!! Geez. Yet another thing for me to have the heebies about.
Love you, internets. I couldn't stay away for long!
Monday, March 06, 2006
I've got to take a short hiatus while I finish my current freelance project. It's consuming my life. I'm actually considering getting some medication for my performance-related anxiety. It's so bad, I haven't been able to get near the computer without shaking and nausea. Can't check my email, can't look at my blog, can't type a lick. It's ridiculous, and embarrassing, and I feel horribly guilty to have neglected my online friends. Which just creates this heinous cycle, wherein I hate myself and beat myself up, and do lots of household chores I've neglected until just this moment because I can't go near the computer to do anything, even the stuff I love. I suck.
Side note: Ethan left for France on Saturday (EVERYTHING converged in this past week - I did the singing gig as well) and arrived safe and sound after something like 17 hours of travel (including the 3 hour layover in Detroit, and the 2 1/2 hour bus ride from Paris to the town where he's staying). He's with a family with 3 daughters (perfect for him), and has written me emails like "I'M HAVING A GREAT TIME!!!!! I MISS YOU BUT THAT WON'T STOP ME FROM HAVING THE GREATEST TIME!!!" and "I LOVE IT HERE SO MUCH I COULD STAY A YEAR!!!!" and, most hilariously, secretly written in white, so that I had to highlight over it to read it, the following super-classified phrase pertaining to the oldest daughter, who is 12 1/2 (oooh, older) "SHE IS SO PRETTY I WOULD DO ANYTHING TO STAY HERE WITH HER." My son. Sticking with time-honored tradition and falling into a first crush in FRANCE! He'll be back on the 17th. I expect great changes.
So, to wrap up... I've had a mini-breakdown and need to hiate myself (did I just make up a verb?) until I've done what I need to do. It's a daily struggle and I feel weird about considering the medication thing but I've got to do something for the crushing anxiety, the fall-out from which affects everyone in the family, not just me.
Wish me luck.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Sugar and Spice
I awoke with a start at 2:38 am last night, to the sounds of her throwing up in her crib. Poor baby. All in her hair and blankie and that's just so confusing to a baby, you know? She wasn't feverish, but afterwards, as I curled on the couch with her and several towels, waiting to see if it would happen again, she was all pale and clammy and stare-y and... quiet. Which is weird for her.
She is so seldom calm and silent, that I, well, I enjoyed those moments stretched out in the dim light from the open bathroom door. We just looked at each other. Still. Looking. Then she reached out and slowly touched my nose, and then her nose, my mouth, her mouth, my eye, her eye.
The sweet seriousness of her gestures establishing our similarities almost made me cry.
It made me wonder if she is as bewildered by our happening to wind up mother and daughter as I am sometimes. I swear, quite often I look at her and it's as if I'm seeing her face for the first time. She looks absolutely nothing like me, or anyone in my family, or even like I imagined she might look, before she was born. She's about as far from the shy, serene, cello-playing girl Andy and I predicted as it's possible to be. Her face is so changeable, as though her outward appearance actually fluctuates according to her mood: merry, infuriated, sly, curious, delighted...
She is still such a mystery to me. I see her copying my gestures, but she is so much her own person that it's almost... intimidating? What am I to do with this person who is so new to me? So different. Perhaps it's that she's a girl, and girls are new to me?
Today Lulu managed to pass by the basement door during the one interval in which it was accidentally left open, and I heard her fall. I heard her little pink and silver sneakers squeaking on the wooden stairs, and I heard the rustle and bump of her body careening towards the cement floor.
You cannot imagine how instantaneously I teleported down those stairs to see her sprawled in a heap at the bottom, fearful of touching her in case something very very bad had happened and little bones were broken. Perhaps, though, you can imagine my heightened vision in the dark, and the slow care with which I gathered her up and held her sobbing head on my shoulder as I made my way up into the bright light of the kitchen. You can hear my heartbeat, as I heard it, faster and louder than her sobs. You feel my rushing relief as I realize that she is unharmed, and the calm I will into her as I rock her tears away.
This, I can do.
She may be a foreign little alien of joy and destruction, twinkling dimples and pigtails as she strews the contents of the bathroom trashcan across the living room, but I can find her in the dark and I can carry her into the light and cherish the moments of communion she allows me before she heads off for another adventure.
Precious little peewee. Stranger. Love. What am I going to do with you?
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Slough of Despond
Or at least, like, a conniption.
I was up 'til 5 am Sunday and Monday working on my latest freelance project - in criminal justice ethics, which I have no experience in, but which I've been able to teach myself in a jiffy - and which, of course, I procrastinated until the last possible minute because I was beset by the demons of writer's block and fear of criticism, as usual.
Stayed up Tuesday way too late ironing ALL of Andy's shirts. Happy Valentines Day!
And I worked at the theatre on Wednesday. Home 11:30.
And the Olympics are keeping me up all hours of the night because they save the last skater 'til 11:30! And I can't miss Project Runway!
So there's the no sleeping, and the no time, and suddenly the house is completely wrecked. And I feel totally overwhelmed and panicky. I should be doing the lunch dishes right now. The mountain of the kids' laundry is, like, of LUDICROUS proportions. They should transport it immediately to Torino and use it for alpine events. The kitchen table is covered in toys from Christmas, waiting to be moved downstairs, plus the brand new giant bags of Valentines-mas presents from Andy's mom, and there's no place to put all those, nor enough time to consume all of the Twizzlers and cheetos and gummy worms that are overflowing the goodie basket on top of the fridge. The coffee table is absolutely overflowing with books. There is kid detritus everywhere I look, because no one in this family puts things back where they go, except for me. There are little Dove dark chocolate heart wrappers balled up all around the house, turning into dust bunnies in corners, because Spooky really likes to chase them, for approximately 3.8 seconds. Simon keeps leaving hats everywhere. The kitchen floor is inexplicably sticky. I can't remember the last time I washed anyone's sheets. I keep finding Ethan's Star Wars Clone Wars graphic novels stacked up in the oddest places. Andy's socks are breeding and setting up housekeeping under chairs and tables. And Charlotte threw my favorite skirt in the toilet.
And I haven't had any time for blogging, and sorting through my psyche. Plus, I miss my blog friends!
There is a pizza box on the kitchen counter from 2 days ago. With pizza still in it. Oh god. I'm like a frat boy. Or a hoarder.I'm getting hopelessly left in the dust!
Geez, and my mom is coming to stay with the kids tomorrow while I rehearse with the organist to sing at the World Day of Prayer service coming up that mom always helps to organize*. I've got to sing eleventy-seven freaking songs all by myself, including The Lord's Prayer, which goes how high, again? I need an emergency voice lesson, stat!
If I don't get the house cleaned up, I'll totally be hearing about it. Mom will give the place a silent once over, and make that little... sigh. And, dear god, she'd be RIGHT!
Does anyone have a paper bag I can breathe into?
I can't believe I am living like this, sometimes. There is no way to catch up. It's so distressing! I've got to pick up the school carpool and then have a conference call with the freelance people. What the hell am I making for dinner? Then I have to drive the choir carpool, so I won't have any time later, either. Oh, and Ethan's backpack is broken, so somehow I've got to find the time to get him a new one.
And I'm out of Excedrin Migraine.
* Funny story. Last time I did this service, on my final solo, I was getting a little cocky and dramatic because it was going so well, and I had all the dear senior citizen churchgoers in my thrall, and so on the very last note, I raised my hands up in unison, in a sort of American-Idol-glory-note sort of way, but the aged throng misunderstood, and they TOTALLY ALL STOOD UP! Because that was how much POWER I had! Bwah! The minister was a bit flummoxed, and had to figure out a suave way of telling them all to sit down, without causing them to realize that they'd been duped by my songstress prowess into doing my unconscious bidding (stand up and recognize, seniors!), so he smoothly inserted a prayer into the service and then asked them all to be seated for the final homily. Heh. That was totally awesome.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Louder than Words
But don't worry! We leave plenty of food out for her. She prefers Purina Indoor Formula. Lots of greens, you know, for a healthy coat and a well-rounded diet. And she doesn't overeat, I swear! Oh, and we always make sure she has plenty of fresh water, from the special filter faucet on the sink, even!
Poor little Spooky doesn't stand a chance.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
We got mail!
I heard a slight knock at the door and lo! A package from Tracy! From Maine!!!
I've never gotten mail from Maine before!
Can you tell I'm excited?
Please to behold the most completely, hilariously awesome t-shirt in history.
Andy immediately donned it over his work clothes.
Hee hee hee!
Simon fell instantly in love with his clay fish whistle. It was like kismet. I showed him how to hold it, and cover the holes with his fingers, and suddenly he was like a little Pan piper. He played it all the way to pick up the carpool at school, getting eerily better and better by the minute.
Ethan was equally charmed by his awesome red Chinese dragons, which hold a place of honor on the Shelf of Important Things. Didn't we all have a Shelf of Important Things when we were little? Then you know what a big deal that is!
Additionally, there are THREE, count 'em, THREE dvds of Invader Zim displayed there. Which, it being a school night and all, they were informed they will have to wait to watch. Much to their great disappointment.
Please to also behold the STACK of delicious books that were included in the package. HELLO!
Andy and I were both excited about these babies. Books! From Maine!
When are the book reports due, Tracy?
Also, it was difficult to get a proper picture of this beautiful item, because of the mirrored endcaps, but I had to try, because it so perfectly exquisite and so exactly my taste that it had to be documented. There is no way this picture does it justice, but let's just say I'm thrilled! Girl was NOT lying when she said we had the same taste!
I cannot wait to hang this in a place of honor.
There is also an adorable, ethereal moon fairy ornament that is currently hanging in Charlotte's room, where she is adorably sleeping, and so I cannot take a picture. Fortunately for the ornament, it is hung up high, in the center of her curtain rod, so that it will be safe from her curious and destructive little hands.
Many thanks to Tracy for the thoughtful and spot-on perfect surprise package. It was perfect timing, too, because I was out finishing up some special errands of my own this very day, concerning this fabulous denizen of the Eastern seaboard, which she will soon discover.
Heh heh heh.
Mail! Sigh... I love my internet friends!