Monday, November 18, 2013

I Miss Writing

I miss writing so much. It feels like I'm missing an appendage, maybe something small, like a finger...not so big like an arm or a leg. Nothing you absolutely cannot survive without, but something that makes the day to day seem easier, more fluid, somehow.

I have been so busy trying to keep my head above water I maybe forgot how to swim a bit. I definitely forgot how to float. I would give anything to just sit back on cool lapping waves and just drift. On a purple blow-up floatie. That'd be divine.

Lately I have been feeling my heart pounding a little harder. I worry about high blood pressure but probably I have about ten years before that's really gonna be a problem.

I literally start to panic when the sun goes down b/c I know that the day is going to be over soon and I have only completed a portion of what's on my 'to do' list.

I probably need to slow down.

I have been taking my dog for a walk at night with Lily and those are my most serene moments...those and the times we spend piled up in my bed when we get home from work and school and I strip off my clothes an slip into yoga pants and the three of us just jump onto the bed and grab at each other...the dog, who is all mouth, tries to get a hold of us in any way he can. He is so excited for the attention and contact. Lil, still in her plaid uniform, does a silly dance and tucks her head down so Ted can nuzzle the hell out of her. These are the moments I am trying to hold on to. These are the things that I need to keep me tethered when I feel like I'm just going going going and I don't see any end in sight...

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sometimes You're Just Mrs. Bucket

Hey moms: do you sometimes find yourselves feeling like Mrs. Bucket? Not the quirky, buck-toothed, Tim Burton Pixie played by an extra camped-up Helena Bonham Carter; that one never resonated with me. I'm talking about the greasy-nosed, red-straw-haired Mrs. Bucket from the 1960s, the one who slaved all day washing strangers's clothes in a hot steamy vat of something resembling cream of celery soup for probably a dollar a day. The one who wore a scratchy-looking, worn-at-the-elbows sweater and made cabbage water to feed her extended family of parents and in-laws who all shared a bed in the living room/kitchen. The one who called a loaf of bread 'a real banquet'.

THAT Mrs. Bucket. Ever feel like that?

I do.

I did today, in fact. Scooping laundry out of the washing machine and dumping it into the dryer for the seventh time since I got home from work (OH, how many times have I walked away without remembering to turn that motherfucker on, only to return the next morning to a sodden, musty pile of dank towels and school uniforms?!!)

I clutch my aching back and hum REM's "Finest Worksong" while simultaneously calling out spelling words to test the kid, and keeping one eye on the stove to make sure dinner isn't getting more burned than usual...

That woman, Mrs. Bucket, that is, seemed to me the epitome of every failure a woman could possibly face, all rolled into one overwrought, exhausted wretch of a human being.

Mrs. Bucket days are the worst. I think the only bright spot in this whole miserable scenario is that there is, luckily, a tomorrow. I can pack it in and get a good night's sleep and there will be coffee and a sunrise in my future, and clean hair and a worn pair of jeans and my favorite boots and tomorrow I get another shot at doing this all over again...

Here's to keeping Mrs. Bucket at bay.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Things I learned this summer

Man, I cannot believe the summer is practically over. My summer, anyway. The rest of y'all still have like a month of it left. Actually, we down south have about 4 months of it left actually, so I win.

Ever since Lily and I moved to Louisiana - gasp! - four years ago, her dad and I concocted a harebrained yet workable arrangement which allows her to spend the school year with me, and the summer with him in New York.

It's a good deal, I think. Since I chose to take my kid and hightail it thousands of miles away from all of our family, I inadvertently put myself in a situation where I don't get a lot of relief at those times when I'm ready to lose myself in a single mama pity-party, so the summer, for the last three years anyway, has been a bit of a respite for me. OK more than a bit. It's fucking ruled.

Lil gets to go and live in the mountains and hang with her cousins; she enjoys healthy activities like swimming, tending her grandmother's vegetable garden, bonding with her dad, and generally cavorting the normal kid-in-the-summer way that our subtropical climate does not allow. I get to read more, not buy groceries, and join my boyfriend in bloody-mary-soaked brunches that sometimes extend to dinner time on Saturdays. My batteries get recharged and by the time fall rolls around, I've undergone a much-needed attitude adjustment and am ready to take it all on again.

The time apart is hard, make no mistake. It's very strange being a full-time single mother who is joined at the hip with her adored, possibly overindulged, attachment-parented offspring, and then suddenly being allowed to act like I did in my early twenties for a summer break. I go through the self-flagellation that goes along with letting ones nine-year old spend two months away from her. However, I think given the choice of a summer spent riding bikes outside and catching lightning bugs vs. two months sitting in some poorly air-conditioned rec room at the Y while the temperature outside verges on deep-fry, any fool would want the former for their kid. Since I work full time, and we live in a part of the country that has absolutely inhumanely high summer temperatures, it really is a no-brainer. New York it is.

The summer is also a nice time for me to reflect and allow myself to learn lessons that I otherwise might be too busy sticking my head up my own ass during the school year to figure out. Lke:

1. It's okay sometimes to drink alcohol at brunch, come home, take a nap, wake up, eat dinner, and binge-watch Netflix till bedtime. THIS IS GOOD FOR YOU.

3. You can make all the 'must do over the summer' lists you want in order to create the illusion of some sort of control over your life, but you will never get to everything. Maybe two things. One.

4. Since you have a kindle now and are all fancy and shit, and suddenly find yourself with a little extra time on your hands to read the 85 books on your Goodreads list, that doesn't mean it's wise to download a shit ton of them over the course of one month. Amazon ain't the library, dumbass . That shit adds up.

5. No matter how much you will it , your ex still isn't going to get his shit together and at least once in the coming school year you are going to be more than tempted to engage in that inevitable, icky exchange of hate-texts because he hasn't paid the school tuition. Try and stop yourself. Just pause…see if you can find that floating-in-a-sensory-deprivation-tank zen you reached this summer when your morning routine consisted solely of hitting snooze several times, slapping on some eyeliner, and driving to work while listening to NPR.
You can do it, girl. I know you can.

That's it for now. I get my little one back in two days. See y'all then.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Talking to God in my car

I suppose I'm what you'd call a Recovering Catholic. I was raised in a culture heavily saturated in good white people christian values; I spent every Sunday morning confused as hell as I tried to decode the important lessons in scripture readings while trying not to end up getting physically separated from my sister, who always started out sitting next to me, but ended up somehow making me laugh uncontrollably at some point during the mass.

My ass bones ached from being planted on splintery pew, and I gazed dreamily at a stubbly-chinned statue of a half-naked man whose alabaster skin was covered in blood and whose rib bones stuck out in a way that I was shamefully envious of. This man, I was told, knew everything. He was the only child of God and Mary, who for whatever reason decided to come together on this one and only occasion and create a superman who would come and go in the blink of an eye, with the sole purpose of cleansing us of our earthly sins by dying a brutal and grotesque death and then coming back in his human form to save us all.

Well, those of us who believed all that, anyway.

Catholicism still confounds me. My relationship with faith has been meandering and complicated; once I got to college, I began to question the things I'd been taught. I had an atheist roommate whose family decorated their Christmas tree with flowers and pictures and had a Pagan sun sitting on its top, rather than an angel. I dated a Lutheran guy. I stopped going to church. It just didn't make sense to me anymore.

I remember having an argument with my mother on the phone after I'd graduated college, but hadn't actually gotten around to leaving my college town just yet. I was working at a hotel and was being forced to work Christmas eve and was trying to explain to my family that no, they didn't have to wait to go to church with me on Christmas day; I was only going to be driving home for the afternoon and they liked the midnight mass on Christmas eve with the candles and shit, and it totally wasn't a big deal if they went without me. My mother wouldn't hear of it.

"Of course you're going with us. We'll just go on Christmas afternoon."
"Mom..." I began, feeling conflicted but also stupidly self-righteous and every bit as know-it-allish as a 23 year old with an English degree working in a hotel in her college town.

"I'm... not going to go. I'm...I'm just not Catholic anymore."

After a stunned silence, my mother responded, "Well, of COURSE you're Catholic! I mean, you were BORN Catholic!"

I considered this and decided not to engage in what I knew would be an argument I'd regret having. There was no point in explaining to my mother that while I was born Italian and Irish, Catholicism was something that I was free to choose, and I was now choosing not to be a part of it anymore. Unlike to me, religion made sense to her. It was important and part of who she was. My turning my back on it was like turning my back on my family, on her, on what she'd taught me. I think I ended up doing something passive-aggressive like coming home way after all the masses were over, just so I wouldn't have to have the conflict. Now I understand more what it meant to her to have me go to church with her.

Anyway. I've spent the last 20 years being really okay with my decision to abandon the Catholic faith. I didn't baptize my daughter but instead chose to have a hippie-inspired naming ceremony in a public park in Queens, serving vegetarian food and listening to latin music from a the boom box of a homeless guy who wouldn't go away til we gave him a plate of food.

Despite my lack of taste for organized religion, I've never stopped believing in God. Or a higher power. Or the Universe. Whatever you want to call it. I don't even know what to call it, really. I have always had faith in a greater plan...maybe some divine blueprint for every person's life that we can't be sure of but can help explain things like pain that seems pointless but ulitimately teaches us something. Or the unadulterated love we can feel for another person. I talk to God a lot. Mostly in my car, when I am alone. It's like free therapy and no one tells you you're actually fucked up and should change things about your life.

For me, it's all I need.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Home Improvement

Sometimes I wonder how it is that the universe saw fit to approve me for a mortgage.

I'm not exactly what you'd call handy.

In fact I'm a girl who, years ago, managed to completely clog the industrial-strength toilet in my NYC pre-war apartment; this building had a septic system that had seen the likes of giant rodents, probably, and chicken bones, childrens' toys, and all manners of assorted trash. Yet with one tampon I managed to bring the efficient superflushing of this well-oiled system to its knees. My super was regularly knocking on my door with a frozen 'Ima Kill yous' hate-smile twisted on his lips (he was from eastern Europe. Please excuse the crude attempt at an accent coming from his face). In other words, I was not a person who should be trusted with her own real estate.

And yet, here I am.

Two years and I've managed not to flood or blow up or burn my little house down; in fact I've even managed to keep it in rather good working condition, save for a few minor repairs I've had to pay the good people of Louisiana to help with, since I tend to look at two wires coming out of a machine and melt into an overwhelmed heap of anxiety.

So when I decided it'd be cool to take up all the stinky wall-to-wall carpeting in the bedrooms of my house, I thought, hey. Here's an opportunity for me to learn how to do household-y things and get that sense of satisfaction that can only come with knowing you did it all on your own (with the help of my boyfriend, of course. Ok, he did most of it).

All in all, it went great. The carpets came up and we hand-laid some very convincing-looking faux-wood laminate in each room. The cats fretted at now having no viable places to revenge-urinate and I learned what it was like to sleep without being violently awoken by dry-coughing up whatever dusty parasites had been living in the rugs for the 20 year lifespan of my home.

All I needed to do now was buy quarter round. For the layperson (because I'm all home-improvementy and shit now), this is that little wooden stick thingy that goes between the wall and the floor and makes it seem like maybe a professional actually installed your floor. I took measurements of each room and brought them proudly to Lowes so that I could purchase the final leg of this very impressive project.

But when I got there, it was awful. I'm not even sure what happened. Suddenly I felt like a small child lost in a giant city, looking up at these impossibly tall skyscraper aisles, packed floor-to-ceiling with HARDWARE. I wandered, mouth slack, praying that no one could tell how confused I was and figure out that I actually did not belong there.

I must have stumbled around for a good ten minutes before a kindly teen employee asked if I needed help. I nodded and mutely palmed my sweaty sheet of measurements into his hand, looking up hopefully. The kid had to do a bunch of conversions from inches to feet on his iphone (DUH, why didn't I think of that?!!) and finally pointed me in the right direction.

But when I found what I needed I realized I would need a special cart to carry the 8 feet pieces of wood to the cash register, and then, omg, get it in my car somehow. A beefy, red-faced contractor in a dirty LSU tee shirt looked at me mockingly and asked if I was actually going to put install all the quarter-round myself. What I heard was, 'Hey there, little lady. How's about you walk those tits next door to Target and buy yourself a nice tea kettle and leave the man-shopping to dicks like me".

I urgently needed to get out of there. And so I did.

I literally speed-walked my humiliated girl-legs out the sliding doors, leaving behind all of my haughty, do-it-yourself gumption behind to rot with the sawdust in the store.

Ashamed, I jumped into my car and sped home, feeling like a world-class asshole.

I'm not sure what came over me. I just got so freaked out.

Anyway. A couple days have passed, and I'm ready to try it again.

Gulp. Wish me luck, y'all.