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Archive for the ‘musings’ Category

I have yet again lost several days due to my inability to focus on one task at a time.  I will be sitting down today to work out a schedule because clearly I need more structure in my life.  It was a fun weekend, though, complete with a playdate, an afternoon spent playing board games (we never finished, thank you Bubby, although I was $18 million in debt and well on my way to losing, it was great fun.)  Lucy’s birthday celebration is set, favors ordered, menu planned.  I’ve been reading extensively about ayurveda in my down time and am thoroughly fascinated by it.  Good times.

It is finally not frigid and I am happy to not be sitting here in layers down to my socks.  We made it without turning the heat back on (remember, we get tons of passive heat from two sides so it never gets dangerously cold in here) and even had the playdate without heaters.  I am probably more pleased about this than I should be 🙂

I still have not implemented the menu plan (see paragraph one about routine) but here is the butternut squash with curried millet recipe for Jennifer.  I’d swear that I’d do it this week but I don’t feel like lying to you this early in the year.

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I have been spending a lot of time since my last entry thinking about growing up.  I don’t know if it’s my personality that makes me so eager to gain approval or if it’s because I was raised to believe that approval is the highest form of praise, but I have come to realize that I need very badly to deal with the fact that I just can’t please everybody, and it’s not a personal failing that I can’t.  It’s a sad denouement, set into motion long ago and winding down almost pitifully for the amount of pain it has caused me over the years.  It’s a curse, I think, when you lose someone close to you because you’re always left with the what-ifs or should-have-saids.  I can’t live like that anymore, worrying about displeasing people, worrying about offending them by saying the wrong thing, always feeling as though the ultimate consequence of disagreeing could be the inevitable regret of time lost.  Is this suitably cryptic?  What it really means is that I have to grow up now, stop being the little girl afraid of doing and saying the wrong thing.

I could stop being overly dramatic as well but what fun would that be?

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A Little Lost Again

The thing about therapy is that invariably things come up that blindside you.  This was my yesterday, and while I’m pretty philosophical about it, I’m also feeling a little ragged around the ol’ edges this morning.  The hardest thing about the painful stuff is how easy it is to lose sight of the positive and good while you try to navigate your way back from whatever mental wasteland you’ve found yourself in.  Maybe this is where healing comes in–being able to make your way back still clutching the stuff you took in with you.

This morning I am disheveled.  I am uncombed, unwashed hair and in my clothes from yesterday.  I am gray and stiff and dry skin.  None of this is about how I look, this feeling ragged, but for a minute I wonder if I can cover it with shiny new make-up, a new haircut, a Whole New Me.   This would once have been the time that I ran off to Sephora (or the drugstore) for nail polish, eye shadow, some miracle product that would sit in my medicine cabinet like a religious artifact.  Now…what do I do now?

I really don’t know.  Hug the kids.  Dive headfirst into projects.  Do things that make the Inside Me feel better.  Take a do-over from when I was little and draw a picture without worrying about it looking perfect.  I don’t have any answers here, and I hate not having any answers.  Maybe this is the real lesson; it’s not getting back that’s important, it’s learning how to bring yourself back when you’re ready.

The other part…I don’t know if feeling unpretty is a separate issue or a side effect.

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So Snotty and other woes

I got my college transcripts over the weekend, which is quite a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, it means that the college application process should speed along nicely now.  On the other, I am confronted by my erratic-at-best performance the first time around.  I fell asleep last night working out an essay about the whys and what fors but it was replaced overnight by massive amounts of snot.

It’s really pretty sobering to realize that I had forgotten about at least two of the classes I took in my two years in college.  I remember relatively little of what I learned while in college.  I was a little surprised to see how bad my grades were overall, especially after a school career with barely anything under a C+.  And I did a little fist-shaking over the whole thing because I am so not the type of person who blows everything off for partying anymore.

Back then?  Oh hell yes.  College was, in many ways, my childhood.  I spent my early childhood years immersed in ice skating.  It started out after school and moved to before-after-and, for a while, weekends.  And it cost a lot of money so it was important to my family that I not waste time or not progress.  Which, to be honest, was a lot of pressure on me both because of the actual pressure and because of my tendency to crave approval.  I quit skating in 8th grade, and a year later my mom and I moved in with the man who would be my brother’s father.

I learned a lot during those years.  About working, about needing to take responsibility for getting myself up and to school and keeping my grades up without anyone riding my ass.  I also learned that gin glasses smelled horrible the next day and that one man could drink an awful lot of Budweiser.  I learned that it was tough to get chili out of a Tupperware container when it had been microwaved for too long.  I learned that sometimes it was easier when your husband was traveling for business.  And later, I learned about diaper changing, daycare pick-ups, miscarriages and cleaning baby puke off of furniture.

By the time college came around, I was pretty convinced that I could handle it with my normal maturity.  I had been self-starting and self-motivating for several years, taking tough classes, and I both was expected and expected myself to sail through school and on to grad school.

The thing is, though, I couldn’t handle not having the pressure to excel.  I got the opportunity to do what I wanted and make my own choices and I chose to goof off and party.  And I think it was good for me in some ways.  Maybe not my fried brain cells and certainly not looking at transferable credits from this vantage point.  The thing is, when you go from having no choices as a young child to having to be a full grown-up as a teen, there’s a lot of letting off steam that doesn’t happen and a serious lack of confidence in one’s ability to make choices.  Like I said, it isn’t all bad.  But the farther I get from those days, the more I’m able to see why I had so much trouble in college.

Anyhow, this is why I have no problem letting Lucy run around in a red jumper with blue pants and a pink striped shirt.  This is also why she is not taking any classes or playing any sports until she’s older and we’re not feeling as though we’re struggling to find time for her to just play.   And most of all it’s why I constantly remind myself that she’s a very small child and nobody’s college career was ever decided by what classes she took at five years old and nobody’s work ethic was ever thwarted by not having enough extracurricular activities in kindergarten (for the record, at five I started ice skating, took an art class wherein I determined I wasn’t a very good artist, and was taking ballet and tap.)

I’m also trying to remind myself that being mature has nothing to do with how many responsibilities you take on and that grown-ups probably need extracurriculars more than kids do.

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I’ve been sort of having some money anxiety lately.  I don’t like talking about it, but suffice to say, the market collapse and such has not been my favorite occurrence.  On the plus side, I’ve finally started paying attention when folks talk about the economy and the market instead of stuffing my liberal arts fingers in my ears and reciting Shakespeare.  On the minus side, things like the learn to knit stuff and the Mandarin class I’ve paid for are starting to weigh heavily on my mind.

To that end, my erstwhile participation in various preservation activities has actually provided me some comfort.  Here, in no particular order, is the stuff making me feel ok this morning.

  1. the bushel of apples in my kitchen.  One half for applesauce, the other for eatin.’  Applepicking was a great time, although Chico was more into picking leaves.  Lucy also picked a really cute jack-o-lantern pumpkin.
  2. My family’s newfound love for winter squash (all but Lucy, but I think we can bring her along.)  The bubby eats it daily, C and I both are fans, and we have delicata in the fridge, a cooking pumpkin in the kitchen, and a butternut in the dining room.  My mother-in-law had friends over for dinner over the weekend and I was tickled to be able to serve the bub an acorn squash, purchased for .75 at a local farm, still in shell.  It looks lovely served that way.
  3. The kimchi on my counter.  Still not sour enough but it is going to be delightfully spicy.
  4. Hey!  Over the weekend I discovered I can eat peppers now, and I downright enjoy shitake mushrooms.  Quel surprise!  My MIL is a really good cook so I always feel more comfortable trying foods at her house than at a restaurant because she takes such care in preparation.  My mama is a good cook as well, but she had the misfortune of having me as a diner during those difficult years where I was a really picky eater (read:  until we started getting the CSA share.)
  5. When I try to follow the pictures of how to cast on in knitting, I can remember when I first learned how and am having exactly.the.same.trouble I had then.  I just can’t remember how to do it right.  I can make a mean slipknot fifteen different ways, though.
  6. The Bubby finally figured out how to feed himself Cheerios after displaying his acumen at shoving grass into his gob the day before, bringing home everybody’s warning that grass is a gateway drug.  *groan*
  7. The Bubby can also now say ‘ball’ ‘hi’ and ‘yeah’.  He also meows at cats.  And is hella cute.
  8. I had the fantastic idea of using Lucy’s old t-shirts to make a quilt.  It’s something she can do to practice sewing, and I don’t have to fight with her over giving stuff away (or wait to get them out of the house.)
  9. Last, but definitely not least, my MIL has offered me access to her yarn, needles and knitting books as I need them so I will not have to do a whole lot of purchasing or supplies.  She also has a boatload of quilting fabric stocked up so when Lucy and I get around to making the clothes for her bunny dolls we can use some of that.  Which totally rocks.  She also offered to lend me her sewing machine if I ever need to borrow it, and made the skirt to Lucy’s Halloween costume, and showed me how to make (and copied a recipe for me) salmon and veggies in foil packets which is so outrageously good and something I can make up for C and I to have when he gets home at night so that we can probably cut out takeout almost completely.

So see?  Things aren’t so bad.  We may have lost money in the market but we’re much better off than we would have been before.  We have food and water stored, we’re learning valuablew skills like canning and knitting and sewing, We’re largely eating seasonally.  Now if I can just get a big bunch of waffles made to freeze and see if my ginger beer recipe works, and try out some breadmaking, we can cut out a large amount of extraneous food purchasing.  We’re still in decent shape financially, but I want to get us to the point that we’re accustomed to making these things ourselves wherever possible.  It’s good practice, but it also makes you think about what your life is about when you’re spending more time than money.

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A Different Kind of Acting

My Mandarin class started 2 weeks ago.  For the most part I really like it; I enjoy learning languages and Mandarin is challenging both in pronunciation and in writing/reading the characters (which I am just beginning to learn to do.)  The part I find overwhelming is actually sitting in class with other people.

Here’s the thing.  When I write, I am mostly sure of myself.  When I interact with people in person?  Not so much.  I am nervous and self-conscious if I do not have a clear-cut role to play.

In my Mandarin class, in my estimation, I am the only non-professional taking the class.  I am not taking it to go toward a translation certificate.  I am taking it to prove that I can survive an academic class, to prove that if I go back to college it won’t end up like it did the last time, with me dropping out.  I am way beyond my comfort zone there.  WAY.  BEYOND.  And I don’t like it.  I don’t like it because the other students are picking things up more quickly than I am.  It puts me both in the position of feeling odd-man-out because I roll in in my grubby jeans and because I feel like the slow one.

In my living room, I think I’m pretty smart.  Above average at least, although I’ve never been a top-of-the-class sort.  In the outside world?  I’m still worrying about how on earth I’m supposed to fit in.  And a lot I’m wondering about how I’m supposed to learn Mandarin.

I’m heading out this morning to cram for my class tomorrow night; memorize the vocabulary, practice writing the words in pinyin and in traditional characters, and have brunch by myself.  I’m hoping by the time I get home I’m feeling like I can handle this class because I came home last week and wanted to cry.  I’m starting to feel like I’m always going to be a basketcase when I’m called on in class and I’ll tell ya, it was bad enough dealing with this in high school; I don’t want to go through it again.  WTH?  Is becoming a mother like some sort of second adolescence?  Because do.not.want

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Speaking of acting…I ran into an old friend last week from my hipper, goth-club days and I felt immediately self-conscious with my no makeup and dirty blonde hair.  I’ve been feeling really schlubby lately and I don’t know if it’s the baby getting older (almost 1!) or if it’s a result of my self-consciousness.  My hair has gotten really, really, really long and I’m toying with the idea of cutting it but I’m scared that I will immediately regret it.  Not that I wear my hair down (the baby massacres it) or style it other than twisting it into a bun or if I’m feeling motivated, braiding it.  But it’s really long!  And it takes a long time to get hair really long!

Oh Internets!  Tell me what to do!

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A few months ago C’s uncle died.  I haven’t written about it because I wanted to keep my memories to myself, as well as the things I learned from him.  I still do.  The title of this post is from a letter he wrote to a student and it has been rolling through my mind, wrapping itself around fleeting thoughts, making me stop and remember to remember.

This weekend, I turn 35.  It isn’t an important number or age; just another year for my skirts to brush past on my way into the future.  I always see years in my mind as large reels of months, circling from January to December, or from noteworthy date to noteworthy date.  Now we are cycling to my birthday, then on to anniversary, the baby’s first, C’s 32nd, Lucy’s 6th, and so forth.  It makes it easier, without the abrupt stop-and-start, to gloss over the milestones as they are reached.  I like this, or I am used to it anyway.

This year will come and go like the rest.  It will be an ordinary day with the same small treats each day holds.  I will hug my son and play with my daughter and be thankful for my beautiful, imperfect home and all who live within its walls.  I will share the day with those I love best.  And this year I will remember that each day is its own story and each story exists to be told and retold so that we remember not to forget.

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I’ve placed our meat/cheese/bread order for next week, set up the spreadsheet for food tracking (including eat out/take out) and the dry-erase board holds a guide to the treasures contained in our fridge.  I made up baby beets, peaches and carrots on Tuesday with apricots and more peaches to follow this afternoon (we’ll be using up store-bought baby jars at the MIL’s this weekend but otherwise it’s been two days of naught but homemade.)  Whatever we don’t finish from the refrigerator over the course of the day will be taken with us (I’m looking at you, zucchini.)  I can say conclusively that I am ready for the new month!

And my head is in the right place, too.  I woke up feeling…better.  Sort of calm.  It’s nice, especially since the temptation is great to pop on the a/c today.  It’s amazing how much easier it is mentally to make changes in your life when you have someone to support you.  I hadn’t realized how much I was associating Rioting with some sort of notion that my priorities were out of whack and that my family (or my health) was suffering because of it.  The thing is, I think I had started to believe that I wasn’t capable of participating without somehow not being a good enough wife/mother/woman/whatever.  Fuck that noise.  It really isn’t for anyone else to say whether I am doing a good enough job anyway so I don’t know why I take so to heart off the cuff remarks that aren’t even based in reality.

I’m starting to think that one of the most important actions one takes when undertaking a large-scale lifestyle change is to make sure you’re being true to yourself.  Even when people act like you’re a nut, even when you’re the only one in your household acting, even when things go pear-shaped and you feel like giving up.   I think most people want to view change as a linear process even though we all know intellectually that it is anything but.   In the long run, though, this can lead to so much disappointment, both in the process of change and in ourselves.  But when you can say honestly that you are listening to your true self when you act, it is so much easier to get things done, even when it feels like you’re one person against the world.

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