25 January 2008

Wednesday, Thursday, Myday

So this was the plan for today: Wake, eat, shower, daycare drop-off, cat to the vet, purchase dog food, home, do dishes, studystudystudy. And while some of those things did indeed happen, it didn't exactly go that way. Once I found myself out and about in the world with no real agenda, a day to myself just seemed too good to pass up. And even now, I'm sitting here feeling kind of guilty about it, because I didn't complete my list, because I parked my kiddo at daycare so I could spend the morning tra-la-la-ing around doing nothing. But hey, today was Music Class for the toddlers AND share-box day (think show and tell), and she was all jazzed up to go. While I was still full of good intentions about my planned Friday accomplishments, we stopped at the bakery down the street and sat at the window while we ate our sweet treats and talked about cars and dogs and I was instructed to USE BOTH HANDS, MAMA when taking a drink of my coffee. Um, every time. And there was pointing.

So here's how it really went, once I was nicely full of casserole sandwich:*

Took my cat to the vet. He's been losing weight pretty steadily over the past year or so, and it's gotten to the point where... well it's gotten to the point where he needs to go to the vet. Once a regal-looking 13-pounder with a lion's chin, he's now a bony little mewler with an appetite we can't keep up with.

Turns out it's hyperthyroidism, sending his metabolism into overdrive and his heartrate steadily upward. To be honest, I'd been dragging my feet about taking him to the vet in fear of being presented with some long, involved treatment options vs. end of life options. In other words, if he was going to die, I'd rather him just do it under the kitchen table while I'm sleeping than have to look him in the eye and explain to a vet how we just don't have the money or the commitment to keep him alive.

But it turns out he's just old, and this happens to old cats. And it can be fixed with medicine. I was also afraid of the cost of the visit, and my fears were confirmed there. But it could have been worse. And looking at that cat up on the table, that cat that has alternately been a good roommate and driven me to the brink of insanity for the last nine years, I remembered that he is a very good friend of mine. A friend who pukes up bellies full of food on the rug and shits in the basement, but still. A very good friend. Here's to Thomas, the college roommate that never moved out.

Next, I drove up to BigBoxville in search of a Best Buy to purchase a wireless headset for my new phone, since I do 99.9% of my phone-talking in the car. Oh, right-- I got a new phone! I'd been carrying the "cheese block" Nokia for the last four years, and A. recently launched a campaign in our home for new phones since his was literally crumbling to pieces in his hand, and it was just easier for us both to upgrade. A new phone! For me! (although I'm realizing that there was a little -- medium sized, maybe?-- part of me that was wearing that old obsolete cell phone like a badge, like a middle finger to the "stay connected, surf the internet at your own wedding" kind of culture. Who knew?)

I didn't make it to Best Buy because (insert long explanation here), and I didn't drive far enough. I stopped a block too soon, and ended up at Wal-Mart.

So anyway: my vote for Most Depressing Place in Middle Tennessee might just have to go to the Madison Wal-Mart. *shudder*

I don't frequent Wal-Mart, but not because I boycott. I boycott out of convenience, I suppose, since I'm already not going there because it's too damn far away in any direction and too much of a time commitment. But. They sure have a lot of stuff. So much stuff, in fact, that I generally find myself ten minutes into the belly of a Wal-Mart, fighting the urge to drop my armloads of crap and run at full speed towards the door before I completely short-circuit.

But my point is this: Wal-Mart during the day in Madison, TN is not a happy place to be. I got my bluetooth (would have been fine with my old wireless earbud dealie, but New Phone is particular about these things), and got the hell out, adding only a stocking cap and a 12-pack of disposable tupperware that we will do our very best to lose within the space of one week.

My vote for the most exciting place I visited today would be the Goodwill Store just down from the soul-sucking Wal-mart. Ah, the Goodwill, home of so many tiny wool sweaters that have had a turn in the clothes dryer. Having unlimited time in the Goodwill is a little bit meditative for me, but mostly nostalgic: reminds me of college, when I spent chunks of time picking through granny coats with nothing better to do except maybe study. So yeah, pretty much exactly like today. But to be unrushed! In a nice, clean Goodwill, where things are arranged by color but not so much by size! Oh!

I walked out with three skirts, two sweaters, an 8 X 8 pyrex baking dish (mine is lost forever), and a long-sleeved Free People shirt for around $30**. Was it in the budget? Nope. But SCORE.

And now I am home with a belly full of mac & cheese, ready to attack our current laundry crisis (CODE RED), make a cup of coffee, load the dishwasher, and then study. Or maybe just go pick up Bird, because I miss her. And I feel guilty about stashing her at daycare so I could pick away aimlessly at this day until it is almost gone. But no guilt! Joy is not a luxury! I'm taking my time out and I'm owning it! And then going to get Bird because I still feel a little bit guilty!

In conclusion, here is a Bird Quote from this week:

Me: (hugging her) You smell like daycare.

Bird: You smell like Bwoccowee and sewp.
(translation: Broccoli and soup. So, in other words, kind of stinky.)

*OMG, so good. If you live here, go there. Order the breakfast sandwich. I keep ordering it under the guise that I'm researching what might go into making it, so that I can recreate 24 of those suckers for the price of one at the bakery. But the truth is, I'll never do it, and if I did, they would not be nearly as good, so I'm going to keep getting them at the bakery. And plus, they are so nice there, and Bird loves to sit and watch the dogs and cars go by.

**Also, I tried on a very cute little pink 1950s capelet/ sweater type thing with amazing details... if you are a little smaller than I am, get your butt to the Goodwill, stat! Sweater awaits!

EDITED TO ADD: have I told you how much I have grown to love Sirius Radio? Just now, two of my Tom Waits favorites, just like that. And TWO NPRs.

23 January 2008

Kind of Tired of Making Up Titles

Before we begin, know that I am posting with great difficulty this morning due to the fat band-aid on my right index finger, meant to cover and heal the spot on my top knuckle where I grated my finger like a hunk of cheese last night. Ouch.

(BTW, I was making this, which was absolutely delish. Don't skip the pine nuts if you make this one. Just learn from my example and be careful grating the parm.)

(and BTW again, finally, I found an eggplant- heavy dish that I like. Success!)

And Now Down to Business:
So, my house. She is a good house, not too big, not too small for our little pack. She is a bungalow within two years of her eightieth birthday, full of charm and bricks and wavy glass and arches, high ceilings and glass doorknobs. She was a bargain in an "emerging" neighborhood for A. and I as newlyweds, and has hosted us for 5 + years now. We love her dearly.

Her windows are so charming, in fact, that you'll need to put on an extra sweater in the winter to handle all of the drafty character. Her one full bathroom is so cozy it fits exactly ONE adult who, if they so choose, could sit on the commode with one foot in the hallway while turning on the shower with the opposite hand. (and that one adult must use the hair dryer in the kitchen, because the bathroom is also too charming to have an electrical outlet. But it also has a truly charming floor of teensy, octagonal tiles.) Her kitchen is so charming that if you cook, say, a curry dish, you will be reminded of that dish for a week straight with no exhaust fan to suck out food smells. And you will be charmed to prep the whole thing on a countertop the size of a postage stamp.

These are the things about her that we just live with, because we love her, and because she sure overlooks a lot of bullshit we throw her way, like two dogs and a cat that shed 7 pounds of hair daily, a toddler with crayons, overflowing laundry, slacker maintenance skills, etc.

And then there are the upstairs bedrooms. Two small, afterthought divisions in an attic "finished" sometime in the sixties, I'm guessing. But still with the 1930 windows and very, very limited insulation.

Sleeping up there (which A. and I do) is like camping. Hot as shit in the summer and freezing cold in the winter, with a few weeks of just-right temperature between seasons. Right now? It is bum-freezing cold. And the toilet seat in the half-bath? MADE OF PURE ICE.

There are things we need to do. Like blow in more insulation and replace windows. But we have about $30 to fix this problem, so...

Enter the space heater.

Enter also my maddening, all-day anxiety about whether or not the space heater is still on, even though I vividly remember turning it off before I left the house.

Here is the list of constantly cycling OCD questions* that flavor my days, including but not limited to:
  1. Did I turn the oven off?
  2. Did I lock that back door?
  3. Did I turn off the coffee pot?
  4. Is the baby monitor on? (a bedtime obsession)
  5. Is the garage going to catch on fire since you guys were smoking back there?
  6. Is the alarm set for a.m. and not p.m.?
  7. Is the curling iron off? (I literally have not used a curling iron since my freshman year of high school, by the way, but here I am at thirty-one, with fleeting thoughts of a gnarly, hairspray-caked Conair curling iron sitting on my parents' bathroom counter.)
  8. Are there candles burning?
  9. Did I remember deodorant?**
  10. Are my keys still in the door? (answer is often yes)
  11. Where is my phone? (leads to constant checking)
  12. Did I flush the toilet?
and now my new addition to the OCD family of thoughts:
  • Is the em-effing space heater still on upstairs, possibly with a sock draped over it because it really is sitting way too close to the laundry, possibly catching our sweet old house and everything in it on fire at this very minute? How will the dogs get out if the house is on fire? WE MUST THINK OF THE PETS!
*Please understand a bit of history: that I grew up in a small town where my father handled much of the insurance business in the area, and was frequently awakened in the middle of the night for a house fire, tornado damage, a car accident, etc. My dad is a good guy, and he takes insurance seriously, and he was often standing in the snow with a family in the middle of the night, watching the volunteer fire department try to save what was left of their burning home. But his familiarity with tragic incidents and the causes of said incidents has made him a cautious, boy-scout-prepared type of a man who has a sharper focus on prevention than most. He is a man-scout, I guess. And I, having grown up in the shadow of his preparedness and caution, have some signs of OCD as an adult.

** I do recognize that doubting my own ability to address personal hygiene and sanitation have little to do with my dad. But that curling iron thing? That was hammered home to me with a brainwashing-strength intensity from the time I laid eyes on that Conair with the skinny barrel and put it on my Christmas list.

17 January 2008

Good Thursday To You

So last night, I had a mild, prickly anxiety all over, like wearing some uncomfortable, buzzing electric jumpsuit with a helmet. I fell asleep in Bird's bed until 11:30p and had strange, mean dreams. I got up and let the dogs out, had a smoke, and had a hard time falling back to sleep in my own bed. Starting to think I'M the one taking brain-drugs to quit smoking.

But you know, come to think of it, yesterday I drank coffee in the morning, diet coke on the road, maybe a drop or two of water from the melty remains of the road coke, and then another diet coke (leftover from the baptism festivities) with my dinner. Usually it's coffee and then waterwatertonsofwater. Maybe those were aspartame- or caffeine- induced dreams. But then again, my shoulders are tight, I'm grinding my teeth an awful lot, and I have brief moments where I feel like I could take off running right out of my skin. Hello, anxiety! To what do I owe this visit?

Maybe my job situation, which, as previously indicated, continues to suck. No longer a specific, intense sucking that starts angry fires here and there-- that, at least, provokes emotion and action-- but a prolonged and gray sucking that can now just be described as an overall drain.

I'm noticing in conversation that I am overly critical of things/ people, and I think this worklife dissatisfaction makes me too eager a critic in my real life. I'm a sorter and a get-to-the-bottom-of-it kind of gal, constantly finding the glaring errors and unsavory characteristics floating around my workplace, trying to put my finger on the reason for the gray sucking, now that the firey, precise sucking has passed. Also, I'm becoming a skilled case-builder, like a lawyer of grouchiness, assembling facts and events that, small on their own, combine into a guilty verdict of "I Don't Like You." In other words, I'm a grouch. A grouch too eager to point out what is wrong with whatever is in my line of sight. To assign blame for the sucking.

And maybe all of this grouchiness is making me a little anxious, too.


Also, my NCETMB exam is scheduled for Feb 28 at 11:00. Time to kick the studying into high gear. Or rather, actually begin the studying. When I thumbed through the calendar to check the dates, I realized it's been a full year since I took kinesiology. But really, I'm okay with having not studied. It's never real until I have a deadline anyway, and now it's real, so now I study. Here we are, looking forward. simple.

Except! I'm in the middle of a wonderful book that I believe I can finish swiftly, but today I received notice that Animal, Vegetable, Miracle awaits me at East Branch Library. I think I was number ninety thousand and seven on the wait list, and finally, it is my day. Which sounds more interesting to you: the origin and insertion of every large and teensy muscle in the body or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle? What's a girl to do?


Chantix update: Husband shows no signs of psychosis. And, on day 3, no signs of cigarettes seeming unappealing.


This morning, Bird and I were dressed and ready at a miracle of an hour, considering our family's wake-time. Bird has been sleeping in, see. And for the last two years we've started the day with an urgent crying out for comfort from Bird, and now, well, the alarm gets far less compassion.

Anyway. We were ready, by some miracle, on time.

And then.

The cat started to puke. Bird is no stranger to cat puke, my little expert cat-puke spotter, shouting on Saturday mornings from the living room and pointing to a sizeable hairball in the doorway before any of us steps on it, barefoot, in the morning dark. But this morning! Oh! To actually SEE the actual CAT actually PUKING! With the retching and the scooting and the opening his mouth in that weird cat-puke way, where you think his face might peel right back off of his skull! And my Thomas, always the showman, put on an impressive puking display for Bird, being certain to spread four separate puke-puddles all over the parlor, dangerously close to piles of toys and laundry. Amazing!

I cleaned up the cat puke, while answering a barrage of questions about said puke.

And then, upon delivering Bird to daycare, she marched right up to the teacher and declared, "My cat puked! My cat puked! My cat puked!"

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

15 January 2008

Some Factual Reporting of Events

So I had a voice message from a friend this afternoon, declaring that she no longer knows what is going on in my life anymore, as I have not posted in a bit.

So here goes:

Bird was baptized on Sunday. It was a beautiful service in a church that we realize more and more is such a good fit for our family. There were visitors (all Indiana Grandparents + my NC brother and his lovely wife), most of whom were well-behaved, most of the time. Neighborhood friends came. There was cooking and a lot of food. And then it was over.

Outside of the service itself (and Bird doing a SUPER job being a brave kid) , what struck me the most was the way my brother and his wife took (and always have taken) such a one-on-one interest in Bird, the way they make their relationship with her important. They are going to be great parents someday, hopefully before Bird is in high school. And also, I miss them. It is easier to miss them when I haven't seen them in awhile, because missing them is much more real for the few days after they walk out the door.

A. started taking Chantix to quit smoking. The day he popped the first pill, I poisoned myself with internet message board postings about people going ape shit on the stuff, going out and getting themselves killed, forgetting to go to work, blacking out, aggressive behavior, suicidal thoughts. I make sure to call him a couple of times a day to ask if he's hallucinating or if he feels like killing anyone, and he makes sure to let me know that I am the crazy one. He ran a bath for Bird last night for about 5 minutes with the drain open,(so the water was just running, running, running with no bath), and then this morning forgot one other key step in his morning bathroom routine that I will not mention. Both of these incidents I attributed to Chantix, not the fact that my husband has been forgetting and losing things on a regular basis since I've known him. This morning he asked me to please not ever wash his winter hat without asking him first, in case he wanted to wear it on a cold day like today, when it is soaking wet and freezing in the washing machine. I attributed his tone to Chantix.

I suppose we can add one more potential side-effect to the list on the box: May make wife paranoid.

I purchased new pages for my planner. And because I am a big nerd, getting my planner together has been a real bright spot in my day.

Eating Donette Gems and a snack-bag of Doritos at a gas station between here and wherever I was turned out to be a rather dark spot in my day, by comparison.

In 2008, I would like to avoid foods I think may have been developed in a lab.

Also, I am waiting on a phone call. WAITING. SORT OF PATIENTLY. Actually, quite patiently in the grand history of my waiting for phone calls. BUT STILL. I WAIT.

And also, this job keeps right on sucking.

10 January 2008

Just got home from Girls' Night, and

as I'm preparing to go upstairs and snuggle under the covers with this book, I couldn't be more thankful for my little community of ladies, mothers, near-mothers and others. I am thankful I accepted an invitation to Book Club three-ish years ago, an invitation into what would become this group of thoughtful, intelligent, supportive and genuinely interesting people. People who will bring you a casserole at the whif of crisis and tell you when your zipper is down. My mother is a part of a circle like this in our small town that first gathered when I was a toddler, and they still meet once a month for breakfast, thirty-some years later. They call themselves the "Breakfast Club" and they still don't know why that's funny. I see us in eighteen years, bitching about college tuition and marveling at the people we've created and raised together.

Also, I continue to fall in love with my neighborhood, for hosting places like this.

And also, I've had some wine.

Hush Little Toddler

So we're trying a new sleeping routine with Bird.
We have never (okay, maybe five? times, while traveling) in the course of Bird's little life, let her "cry it out." And I'm not going to make you feel badly if that's what you do with your little one, it's just not something that fits for us. We have always rocked Birdy all the way to slumber and then moved her to the crib, and for the last 6ish months, we've laid down next to her in the big girl bed until she's out like a light.

And we have enjoyed and appreciated most of those quiet, snuggly, private moments with our little one. We're both working parents, and Bird spends many of her days creating her own little life with her friends at daycare. Neither of us minds spending thirty minutes nose-to-nose with her, having drowsy little conversations and being gently bossed around. We can't get enough of her, in fact.

And I don't mean to paint a picture that this is perfect. There are the nights when I fall completely asleep next to her and drag myself out of her bed and directly into mine, without even a minute of grown-up conversation with my favorite adult in the world. There are the nights when she insists on reeeeeallyy snuggling, a snuggling so fierce that it requires her head to rest ON YOUR FACE, and even that is not close enough. There are the nights she falls asleep on your arm and it takes a fourteen-step silent ninja move to extract yourself without disturbing her. There are the nights she can't get the little giraffe hankie to lay just so on her pillow, causing constant adjustment. There are nights we get busted sneaking out, hand on the doorknob ready to exit, and then climb back in bed for round 2.

This week we've been trying to help Bird learn to fall asleep on her own, and its ripping both our hearts out. One of us sits on the bed while she lays down under the covers for a few minutes, and then we snuggle up next to her like we always have. The goal is to stretch this time a little longer each night until she is falling asleep without us on the pillow beside her. It's going to be a long process, but the goal is to avoid fear and loneliness and pretending to read while your child is terrified.

It isn't working out quite like we'd planned, as she lays under her covers and sobs while we sit up on her bed and ache. I hate sneaking out and getting busted, and I do have to start carving some study time out of my evenings, but I'm starting to wonder how important it is for her to change now. And also how much harder it could be to change later.

Bird story 2
One night this week, I picked Bird up from daycare and had to leave the house 30 minutes later for a board meeting at her school.

Me: We're going home so you can play with Daddy, but I have to go to a meeting tonight, okay?

Bird: You go home and I have to go to a meeting tonight, okay?

Me: Oh, me too! What meeting are you going to?

Bird: I'm going to the orange meeting.

Me: Am I going to the orange meeting?

Bird: (tone indicates that I could not be more clueless) No, Mama, you go to the PINK meeting.

09 January 2008

I got my merit badge in book eating

So, it is no secret (especially to the people I know in the flesh) that we are having some issues surrounding the new captain of the ole ship here at the office. So I said something to a person above him about it, and I've listened and talked (probably way more than I should have) about it with my co-workers, three of whom work in satellite offices in other areas of the state. I had my review yesterday. It went okay. I was first on the list, and everyone else will be reviewed in the coming weeks. It was neither horrible nor great. There was much weirdness. I wish I could tell you more.

Anyway, today I feel like freaking CNN, reporting the same breaking story twice every hour as people call to check in and see how it went, what can they expect for their own review, what did I say about this or that, etc. And everyone has a different motivation for knowing this information: some are curious, some are concerned, some are pissed off, some are strategic and some are scared, and I continue to add fuel to the collective fire every time enter this conversation. I feel like there is a mutiny among the staff and somehow I have become the unwilling chairperson of the mutiny (though I'm fairly certain that mutinies are not organized enough to have chairpeople) just because I spoke up about a few things that were legitimately effed. And the problem now is that the few things are, come to find out, larger than previously thought and generally unfixable, as they are rooted in personality and maturity issues. I gave up on trying to change personality and maturity with my first college boyfriend.

See, I've said too much again.

Here is a video for you to watch.

07 January 2008

Story,Confession, Fear, Harumph, Delight

1. A Story
I heard some extra-sad news this weekend from a good friend who really, really wants to have a baby.

I laid down with Bird for her bedtime and stroked her cheeks and explained to her how lucky I feel to be her mama, and what a miracle it is that there is even life at all, knowing what my friend has been through. I told her how special she is and how I never knew how badly I wanted this little family until she was here, and how my heart is truly aching for my friend now that I know so well exactly what it is she's after.

And Bird reached over and stroked my cheek everso gently and said, "I don't spit on you, mama."

2. A Confession
I think I may have worn a shirt that is too low-cut for the workplace. And I think I got dressed in a hurry: the shirt and the pants? Not even from the same family. And? I didn't wash it after wearing it to A's Mamaw's Christmas. I thought it smelled okay this morning. I was kind of wrong.

3. A Fear
While in Indiana for the Ten Longest Days, I had much opportunity (though in short bursts-- but I did get in a VERY nice, VERY long walk all by myself) to think and ponder and weigh options and I have made a decision on the job front and on a larger scale, the Career front. Though now I am a leeetle afraid that things may not be as much up to me as I had once thought.

4. A Harumph
I dreaded coming in to work today. And not just because it was dark when I woke up or because my bed was warm and my child needed extra attention. And not just because it's going to be a spooky 70 degrees in my city today and I ate about ninety pounds of A.L.'s tator tot casserole last night that need to be walked off. I dreaded coming in because I JUST DON'T LIKE IT HERE ANYMORE.

5. A Delight
I made homemade bread over the course of the last two days. I made the bread to go with the Minestrone, but instead of making the minestrone, I made the bread. Time was limited. Bread seemed most important.

And do you know what I'd forgotten about? Italian dressing in the packet, the kind you mix with olive oil and vinegar, without all the high fructose crap. Delish with a green salad + chickpeas and the afforementioned homemade bread. Best part of my day so far.

02 January 2008

Home Sweet

Mercy, it's been a while!

Here I am, back from Indiana but nowhere near fully recovered. But don't worry, we can pick up right where we left off-- I remain in financial crisis, in employment crisis, pet crisis, when-to-have-another-baby crisis, muffin-top crisis and laundry crisis, as well as some undiscovered crises that may or may not become unmanageable but rest assured, you will at least hear mention of them, whatever they may someday be. So let's start freaking out!*

On second thought, let's not call any of that a crisis. Let's stop freaking out. How dramatic. It's fine. It's all fine! finefinefine. We will just figure it all out, right? Right. It is all going to work out just fine because it always has and it always does, forever and ever, amen.

I want to talk about Indiana but I don't. It's too daunting a task for me at this late hour (8:41! and not even in my jammies!) I mean, we are talking about TEN DAYS of Hoosier Love and Madness, not to mention holiday ramped-up energy, and where does one begin? With the madness or the love? Because I think it might take a few months for me to separate all of that.

It was a great trip. It's great to be loved. It's nice to be missed. It's good to be together. And it's fantastically wonderfully fabulous to be back home in my own bed.

* See right there? I was going to say "Let's start freaking the fuck out!" but I left out the f-bomb, because I'm going to try to clean it up a little, I think. Can she do it? Clean it up just a little? Stay tuned!

Bonus: here's a link to something interesting that I stumbled upon today at work.