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Archive for February, 2009

A brief message about vomit

Vomit sucks.  I am finished vomiting, and C is finished vomiting, but I fear Lucy is just beginning.  She is leaning over the side of the couch into a bucket, poor thing; this is round 2.  The baby vomited once, in the middle of the night.  Rolled over, puked, and then rolled back and fell back asleep.  Go figure. We are screwed if he gets sick.  Screwed right in our co-sleeping asses.  You may point and laugh.

It is now going on Day 5 of stomach sick in the house and I am well over it.  And I feel horrible that my baby girl is feeling so crap.  In the meantime, it’s lots of peppermint tea and fruit bars and head rubs.

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I have a new phone what takes pictures.  It’s a hand-me-down from the MIL and I abso-freaking-lutely love it.  I totally made fun of people who took pictures with their phones before, but I get it now.  The sad thing is that I think the phone has better photo quality than our digital camera.

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We has sprouts!  Coleus, sensitive plant, moonflower, and basil (I think.)  I love sprouts.

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Something about ends

At loose ones, making them meet, split.  Who knows.  Actually, all of the aforementioned cliches apply in their own special ways; I’m going in a lot of different directions and none of them very successfully, I feel sometimes like things are falling apart, and you should see my hair-haven’t had it cut in 3 years!

I had a brief (sobbing on the floor) breakdown and subsequently spent the rest of the day in the grips of what a very smart woman once termed a ‘cry hangover’.  I finished my paper, posted it for peer review, and settled in for a Buffy marathon because I just couldn’t take any more of my own words

I still can’t.  For some reason the last weeks have kicked my ass.  Not the work per se, but the fact that with this much of a distance from classes and grading and the like, I had managed to hold up college as the thing that would make me a Complete Person.  And as per usual, I didn’t even realize I was doing it.  And there was no way I was going to be anything but disappointed.

Here’s the thing; it’s hard to go back to school with kids.  It’s hard to go back to school online with kids.  And it’s hard to keep a sense of self with kids.  And it’s hard to go back to school, online, with kids, keep a sense of self, and try to get straight As while proving that your first experience with college–the one where you failed out?–was an aberration.

And while the prior paragraph explains why the pressure I’ve put on myself is too great to bear without occassional fetal position crying fits, herein lies the rub:  I am also upset because I am not fun anymore.  I’m dour, serious, strained.  I don’t have fun and I’m not fun to be with.  I’ve always leaned toward needing a push to be fun, but it’s gotten to the point where even with a push I still can’t manage to do it.  And it was this that I sobbed to my husband yesterday morning–“I’m letting you down and Lucy down because I am incapable of having fun.”

And there it is.  I want to be fun, but I also want straight As and papers that make people swoon and, hell, I want a goddamn medal for doing all of this as long as I’m making irrational requests.

And I want all of this now because I am constantly reminded that everything could end at any moment and it’s all too precious to waste.

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There is a specific question for anyone from the Riot reading this on the feed at the bottom–I need advice about how to get myself to stop buying stuff.

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I am thinking a lot about Tillie Olsen for my paper.  Thinking about privelege, about struggle, and about how my favorite thing about “I Stand Here Ironing” is that the narrator is a mother who sounds like a mother.  Slightly harried, proud and regretful at the same time, and a  mother and person at the same time.  I am excited to write my paper, and nervous to not do justice to this writer I have come to admire greatly both for her writing and for her life.  Her words are so powerful.  They make me want to write again, which is good since all of my classes are conducted in writing 🙂

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We are growing things again here at chez Neko.  Over the past two days, we planted basil, chives, parsley, cilantro and thyme, plus this cheezy-ass Gothic Graveyard Garden I ordered from Tarzhay.  It is awesome.  We are growing moonflower, sensitive plant, dragon tree and black coleus (this last one amuses me as I spent the better part of last weekend trying to decipher photos of slides of coleus plant structure.  I find myself wondering how much different the chloroplasts must look if the leaves are black, which means I am actually learning in my botany class.)  I picked up marigold and nasturtium seeds as well as pickling cukes what can be grown in containers but we are waiting to plant those.  I think we’re going to give some tomatoes a go this year again because I think moisture was the problem last year.

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What do both of the above sections have in common?  Buying things.  I have been a lean, mean buying machine.  This continues to be my weakest Riot section.  I would say that I suck at it except I really haven’t been able to find a way to make myself really try.  I see something, I can afford it, I buy it.  Books I need for class, new pants so I don’t have to live in sweats, pants for Chico, socks for C, feeding Lucy’s Littlest Pet Shop addiction.  It’s like a reward system for my good work but it isn’t something I want to keep up.  Everything gets used, we actually have room for most of it, but I want to get myself out of the habit of rewarding myself with STUFF.  I can’t seem to maintain any sort of resolve in this area.  How do you keep yourself from impulse purchases/reward purchases?  I am really feeling like I need to get this problem under control NOW.

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Hooray for Books!

I am once again reading fifteen books at once.  I have decided that this is actually me favorite way to read:  in clumps, grouped vaguely by subject matter, all at one time, and with a ratio of one fiction to eight nonfiction.  

I am researching a bit for the paper for my writing class and in the interim have come across about eight billion books on women and history and economics and the like so I’m just gonna read ’em all.  HA!

This is making it a bit difficult to maintain the train of thought in my history class though so I’m going to have to switch gears for at least a day to get caught up on that one.  We didn’t have a reading this week so I’m sort of out here in plants-and-women land which is ok for now but I have to make sure not to blow off my buddy Columbus in the meantime.  I’m lousy at pacing myself.

This whole having a paper is so exciting to me that I can hardly stand it.  I think maybe I’ve been missing writing a little more than I care to admit.  I had a field day in the crappy local b and n women’s studies section so clearly I’m into the whole research thing, although I think I am likely going overboard for a 3-5 page essay.  It’s exciting, though.  

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The trouble with exciting is that my version of excited is less ‘happy bunny’ and more ‘grim determination.’  This makes me less than pleasant to be around most of the time.  I don’t know how to compartmentalize the parts of my life that don’t really intersect, like how to remember to smile at both my kids *and* my husband or how to take breaks to relax with all of them instead of just when the baby needs a nap.  I’m trying to figure it out but I think maybe in this case it’s more a matter of stopping the thinking long enough to let myself chill out a bit.  

I don’t know how people get shit done and have fun too and I’d really like to figure it out so that my family doesn’t dread being around me.

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Despite years of using them, I am still getting used to being the Thread Killer on message boards.  You know, the person who responds and suddenly everything goes silent.

*crickets*

This is infinitely frustrating when the message board is used to regulate discussion in one’s classes.  When one is graded on it.  When one asks direct freaking questions, for crap’s sake.  

I mean, seriously?  Do I come across as an asshole?  Because I’m starting to feel like maybe I’m sounding like an asshole when I make responses, even when I intend them to be earnest.  

Now, normally I’d not particularly care because hell, sometimes I get frustrated by stuff that I read and sometimes I am, in fact, an asshole.  But I’m really trying to phrase everything as clearly as possible to avoid confusion and still…..

*crickets*

Sigh.  Apparently even when I try to be nice and complimentary I come across as a snot.  At least it’s not happening in person where I have to look at people not answering me, but I am starting to feel like the discussion portion is a crock of crap if nobody bothers to discuss stuff with you past the perfunctory three peer responses we’re supposed to make.  I know it’s happening to other people on the board so I don’t feel singled out but I do have some serious insecurities about my ability to communicate intelligently without miles of drafts so I’m really not liking this for now.

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I have my first paper draft due in a little under 2 weeks and I am hella excited about it.  I’ve started research and everything–it’s going to be on mothers and independence with comparisons of Tillie Olsen’s ‘I Stand Here Ironing’ and Doris Lessing’s ‘To Room Nineteen.’  I’m trying to maintain a focus on the implication that woman’s financial independence when she is not employed is dependent on her work as mother as laid out by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in ‘Women and Economics.’  I think it’s going to rock.  Or at least be interesting, considering that the two pieces were published in the early 60’s but take place in disparate times (Depression and 60’s) and involve mothers of different class backgrounds.  

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Surprisingly, my favorite class by far thus far is my plants class.  It is rocking and we haven’t even gotten past cell parts and mitosis.  It’s so freaking cool.

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We’ve been sick here for days.  The grown-ups have been sick for days.  Exhausted, coughing bags of snot with two small children and event tickets and day trips and memorials.  From Queens to the Bronx to the Village to Queens yesterday, from the zoo to the memorial with trains that weren’t running a bus that, thankfully, was going most of the way that I needed to go, and 15 blocks in 15 minutes on an empty stomach.

Today I do not care about the mess.  The litter that needs changed, the diapers that need washed (how much of my life is consumed by waste removal, biological and otherwise?)  The toys strewn about, adult and child, they will all be there tomorrow, won’t they?  Today I am thankful for the people who have taught me, inspired me, stood by my side and allowed me to stand by theirs.  I have been given such gifts and I only hope I can return the favor someday.

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Mostly snot rags and notebooks due to creeping crud spreading amongst our ranks and Lucy’s epic bloody nose this morning.  

Still have not found adequate way to store color-coordinated spiral notebooks for each class so these are on any available surface.  Do not come over and expect to be able to sit.  Or talk for that matter, as I am only able to do one of three things at a time:  read, tidy, change diapers.  I honestly do not know whether I am coming or going as I have not yet managed to stop long enough to assess situation.  

Caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror this morning and I look like a vagrant.  Wondered briefly what my therapist will make of this lack-of-look and decided to try and clean myself up a bit before appointment.  This will probably not happen.  My pants and shirt are both too big and my belt is too small and the leather is split so I cannot actually fasten it.  I’ll give you a million dollars if you can tell me what I was thinking when I put it on *and* reveal the whereabouts of the belt that is neither too small nor broken *and* why the hell I still have this belt in the first place?

The upside is that I love my classes.  I especially love my plants class even though it is the hardest for me and I may be totally sucking at it.  I have always wanted to be one of those people who can identify plants and trees and bust out interesting facts about them but never bothered to learn to do so.  I love that I did my reading yesterday for my writing class and found a short story I adored (Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily) and one that I despised (Hemingway’s The Killers).  I love that I think I have organized myself into a reasonable schedule that may one day include showering regularly as well as spending time with my family.  

The downside, besides having a super-fashionable therapist, is that I think it will be some time before I master the art of keeping the apartment from looking like monsoon season.  Also I have not been keeping up with the knitting resolution, and I really have to do something with the root veg in my fridge like today.  I think I’m going to make it, though.

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I have been launching, recently, into fits of High , Staple-hand-to-Forehead, Sisters of Mercy Drama.  I have tried my best to keep these in my own head because really, that shit ain’t pretty (and I do mean not pretty in that 4 am-the club lights just came up-and you can see the wannabe vampyre you’ve been eyeing all night.  Ewwwwwww.)

The thing is, I have a strong tendency toward making things into huge catastrophes in my own mind.  And the past week has had its’ share of actual stressful things, between finding about the death and the hard drive deciding that six years and six months (six minutes?) was exactly the amount of working it had in it, and the start of my classes wherein I was reminded that it has indeed been close to seventeen years since I unceremoniously failed my ass out of college.

Three things converged in the aforementioned happenings:  I lost a whole ton of essays, I think, when the hard drive crashed.  And I wasn’t nearly as upset as I probably should be, in part because I have paper copies but in part because what the hell, I haven’t looked at ’em since before the baby was born.  The second was a realization that I don’t even know if I want to write anymore.  I’m going back to school for two things I really enjoy and while they may involve writing I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything with another essay (or the short story I’ve half-heartedly been writing also in my head or heaven forbid I ever try to write the book that I don’t want to talk about and don’t know if I’ll ever have the balls to write.)  Which brings us to three–while I don’t have to figure this stuff out right now, I do sort of wonder what it’s all about, Alfie.  

I mean, ever since I can remember, I’ve written or wanted to write.  But am I serious about writing?  I don’t know.  I have been serious about it.  I do love it.  But see, even with the blog here, I don’t feel like I’ve been writing anything.  I mean, let’s be honest.  I haven’t exactly been busting out much in the way of insightful or even much more than glorified to-do lists for some time now.  Am I serious about it?  And if so, why don’t I actually do it?

(You run for cover in the temple of love…………)

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The truth is I can’t write because I’m taking four freaking classes but don’t tell my brain that; it won’t listen.  I vacillate between being totally confident I’m on top of shit and completely freaking out that I am taking about four classes too many.  I lovelovelove my history class which is good since it’s one of my concentrations.  I am enjoying the bio and lab because it involves one of my other favorite things, learning new words especially latin-based ones.  My writing class is causing me some consternation,though, as I feel both over-qualified and under-prepared.  This week is talking about voice in short stories, two of which I have read either recently or multiple times, and I am hella nervous since some of my classmates have already posted their responses and I am doing my work for the other three courses first since I need the most time for them.  This is killing me because I want to be the overachiever and I’m just really not one.  Hate the competitive sometimes.  Most of the time, actually.

So yeah, there you have it.  It feels like all writing is lost but this isn’t the first time I’ve gone through this.  My history class will actually likely help me out with the short story I’m writing if it hasn’t been lost forever in the Great Hard Drive Debacle ’09.  Also, I am suddenly and totally fascinated by the Crusades.  I’m about to read Hemingway for the first time and sort of excited to do so.  And plants are super-cool.  I wish I had not decided so young that I hated science because I actually really like it.

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