Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Sugar and Spice

Poor little Charlotte has had a rough day.

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

I am living in a pigsty and it's giving me a heart attack!

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

Here's what happens when you try to watch the Olympic opening ceremony with your four year old. Sleepiness is catching!
Also, this just in:
Charlotte has learned to use a fork!

Ew. I really need to clean that wall. And that bowl.
Now, I know what you're going to say.

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!

Monday, February 06, 2006

BlogHer 2006!

You guys? I'm totally freaking out right now. I'm going to the BlogHer conference 'o6! In San Jose, California on July 28-29th.

I remember reading all about this shindig on the blogs of the women I mentioned in my last post. I remember looking at their photos, and being soooo envious. So last night I signed up as a BlogHer member, and listed my blog with them, and I read all about the conference, and I WANTED! TO! GO! so badly, and I looked at the registration fee, and the group room rate they've got going, and I haven't yet researched plane fares, but I thought, with my freelance pay (I've got another project going now, on Criminal Justice (heh) and Ethics), that I could do this.

I can do this.

It feels like a step towards my blogging goal. Of WORLD DOMINATION! No no no-I'm totally kidding! I just would like to move forward to increase my readership and visibility, and to further my writing. To see what can happen when I work at it. And... well... I really want to meet my blog idols. There. I've said it. I'm lame.

But I'm going!

I called Andy at work as I always do, and I mentioned this idea to him, and he totally okayed it, and told me HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!!! It's my present!!!


He does love me, you guys. And I love him.

I feel like a grown up. I feel like I'm doing something smart and strategic to make my dream happen. Holy Fanoly! I'm so excited I can barely stand it!

Who wants to join me?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Ars Bloggia

OK. So I'm trying really hard not to obsess about who it was that mentioned my blog to Ethan's school administration. Because I need less, not more paranoia in my life.

But it's REALLY! HARD!

There is a scenario in my head whereby my old nemesis Laura has somehow, through means known only to the evil, located my blog and, because her favorite thing in life is to ruin mine and/or embarrass me, decided to anonymously phone the school.

Because that's the kind of thing that runs through my head.

My other paranoid idea is that it was that odious fellow from the beginning of the school year, who defamed me via email.



Also, because I am the mistress of endless mental tape loops, I have been going over and over again what I actually said to the very nice administrators, and, though I think I sounded totally sane and receptive, I didn't acquit myself intellectually quite the way I would've liked. So I have to do that here, or else it'll never leave my head and I'll never get to sleep. I'll be up at, like, 3:30 watching re-runs of Becker on WGN and rehearsing my un-given speech out loud to myself.

So what I want to say to those who think blogging is weird and, like, unnecessarily and messily self-exposure-y, and possibly pitiful and needy or flagrant and needy, and who just don't understand why I would do it is that:

1) (Here's where I get all Women's Studies on ya!) Throughout history women haven't always had mainstream communication resources available to them, and so, we have made use of our wonderful adaptability and openness to embrace the means of expressing ourselves that we actually have at hand. This has sometimes meant that we were in the forefront of developing communication media, creating paradigms and blazing trails in areas that others might perhaps deem lowly or sketchy or beneath the dignity of those with access to the more widely accepted, traditional communication venues.

I believe blogging qualifies. Though men and women both certainly blog, the internets I have been lurking and then participating in are an amazing place for women to form communities, to support each others' experiences, emotions, aspirations, and interests. Blogging is especially well-suited to women's realities. We can do this from home, while we attend to our children and the million other things that fill our lives. We can fit it in whenever, which is not often, we have a spare moment. We can reach out to each other, listen to each other, encourage each other, and help to heal each other. In a world where we are increasingly insulated from each other, and which often engenders loneliness by its very vastness, we have learned to use this technology to create an online kinship.

Heather (Dooce) and Mrs. Kennedy (Fussy) and Alice (Finslippy) and Melissa (Suburban Bliss) and Maggie (Mighty Girl) and Mimi Smartypants exemplify the heights we can attain, if we embrace this new medium with conviction and, well, love. Just look at that list. These women are pretty much making a living by doing what they love! TV appearances and magazine spreads and conferences and book deals and Amsterdam and Andrew Shue, people!

And I bet everyone who reads this post can name other equally accomplished, brilliant, hilarious women who belong on the list I just created.

Someday, I'm going to be on that list. I'm going to make a living doing what I love. That's why I do this. It's part of a path I've set myself on.

2) Whether or not to post pictures of one's children is a difficult choice. I have chosen to do so, and I am completely aware that not everyone would be comfortable making this same choice. I have chosen to be brutally honest and open about my life, and that openness includes wanting to share those photographic moments that mean something to me. I am aware some people will judge me for this. I am aware that for some people, this would be taking an unacceptable risk with one's children's safety. I do not choose to live in this way because, for me, it would feel like living in a hyperbaric chamber. So, while you may feel free to judge me for my decision, you should also know that it is one I have considered carefully. I am nothing if not thoughtful.

Ahhhh. That's better. Of course, I'll probably obsessively edit this post about 1000 times before I feel I've gotten everything just right, but this is a start.

Are you with me?

p.s. I've gotten requests from several people for an email address. I've established a yahoo mail account, and the address is now available on my profile. Feel free to drop me a line! I did receive your comments, even though they don't appear on the post to which they were attached. Blogger has been having some major issues this weekend!

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Day I Totally Thought My Son Was Dooced

Today I went in to Ethan's school to meet with the headmaster and the elementary school director about what happened with Ethan and the teacher a while back. Remember? I was glad to have a chance to talk to them about this in person, because though Ethan seems fine, it was still bothering me.

Next topic. The headmaster brought up this blog. Someone (I don't know who, but HI! All are welcome! Feel free to comment directly to me!) had discovered this blog and brought to the administration's attention the entry where I vented my rage and frustration with the teacher who spoke hurtfully to my son. I had vented my considerable rage and frustration here, in my journal, in a healthy way, with words rather than actions. Because that's what journals are for! Let me explain.

This blog sometimes functions as the verbal equivalent of a punching bag. Because I am a non-confrontational person, sometimes to a fault, but I am also a very very emotional person, especially where my children are concerned. So writing things down is a smart way for me to hash them out.

I feel compelled to add here that, AT NO TIME were my idle and ridiculous and bravado-laden revenge scenarios to be taken seriously. It is sad to me that I should have to make this explicit. It should be obvious.

But I now know that this is my naivete, once again, rearing its stupid head.

Because there are bajillions of people out there who don't know me, there is potential for misunderstanding. The school has a responsibility to take seriously any troubling language regarding its employees. Of course I understand this, because I am a reasonable person.

You all, when the head master said that he knew about my blog, I was SO shocked and dismayed, I cannot even tell you. I just thought immediately, "That's it. After all the struggle, and all the damage to my marriage, and all the financial hardship to make this possible for him, Ethan is going to get Dooced and it's going to be all my fault."

I told them what I tell you, the internet is so vast, one never thinks anyone will come across one's tiny little speck of a place in it. I was genuinely floored.

I also apologized if I caused anyone to be upset. Because it was never my intention to upset anyone. I wrote what I wrote for me, not thinking for a moment that this public forum was such a small world. Now I know otherwise.

Luckily, the headmaster is also a reasonable and non-judgmental person, and so I agreed to take down the offending post, which was all he asked. I have also temporarily taken down all the entries that directly mention the name of Ethan's school, so that I can change those references to, "Ethan's school."

I also told him that the vast majority of my posts that mention Ethan's school are positive, glowing in fact, because I am so in love with this incredible school. I think my regular readers can attest to this.

Like any writer worth his or her salt, I have minor misgivings regarding free speech issues. There is a big part of me that believes it should be obvious to anyone who looks at my blog that I would never seriously carry out bodily harm on anyone, or even act menacingly towards them. I would also hope that attempts at humor, no matter how ham-handed they may be, would be correctly interpreted by all.

I now understand that I must take seriously the fact that this is not, sadly, the case. Where my posts involve other parties, I must be careful with my words.

Before I began this blog, events like what transpired with Ethan and this teacher would've eaten me up inside. I would've played out endless tape loops over and over again in my head about what he went through, what I wished I could've said, how I would've said it...I would've lost sleep drafting and re-drafting interminable mental scripts. This blog has provided me with a place to record ONCE, and be done with it, those previously debilitating scripts. And, more surprisingly and even more valuably, it has brought to me a group of friends who offer supportive and friendly virtual hugs and heckles from the peanut gallery. It was difficult to try to describe the value of this little internet speck of my own to the headmaster, who admitted that he personally would never describe his personal life in such a public way, but whose only real concern was the wellbeing of the school community.

Let me assert that the headmaster and the elementary director are lovely people, and make me love Ethan's school even more. They were willing to listen to what I had to say, and were, of course, acting in everyone's best interest. This was new for them as well as for me, and they were most gracious and open-minded. Lovely people.

I have shared my triumphs, the hilarity of my life, and my rawest, most painful moments here, and have met with validation from total strangers who have become friends. I cannot explain why this means so much to me. But it does. And I would not trade this experience for anything. I may make a few embarrassing gaffes along the way, but I would never trade it.

I wonder if Ethan's school will now come up with a policy regarding the personal blogs of those in its community, the way Melissa's son's school did? I think it would be a good idea. Surely I'm not the only blogger out there.

p.s. Happy 5th Anniversary to Andy and me! We're going out! For Moroccan, which there is just no way you can do with small children. So, hallelujah haute cuisine!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Empire's Deadliest Weapon

Greetings. I'd like to introduce you to Darth Lulu.

Darth Lulu is Commander of the Imperial Knee and Shin Guard, a secret shadow brigade charged with protecting the Emperor's lower extremities. Darth Lulu is known for her skill with the light saber, as well as pioneering the practical Edible Saber Grip, for those lengthy patrols. Darth Lulu is a deadly enemy to those who would attack the emperor below the belt. Do so at your peril! She is a force to be reckoned with, and should never be underestimated. She is a stealthy and fearless opponent.
With bootie ruffles. That will cut you.