Saturday, June 30, 2012

Vacation Jail

Having a baby means never getting to go anywhere new again.

Ok, not really. My brother's family is really good about planning road trips that utilize our nation's extensive and marvelous National Park System, and I hear tell that there are families who even plan trips abroad. But if you are of limited means, whether that is in vacation hours or money, and you have extended family out-of-state, it's really difficult to go anywhere other than holiday visiting once you have spawned. Once you have a little angel, you are obliged to cart it around so it can be adored.

After this past Holiday Tour, which saw us again driving to Massachusetts, driving to Pennsylvania, and driving home, I am inches from declaring a travel moratorium: if you want to see the kid, you have to come here. We are staying put for the next two years unless we choose to travel, and when we do, we are going to the mountains or the Northwest or Alaska. If I had my way, it would be Ireland or New Zealand, but I am not made of magic any more than I am made of mom.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I Paid a Guy

It pains me to admit it, but I did. I paid a guy.

I'm all for DIY, and I think it's important for people to have a breadth of basic skills in their toolbox, but sometimes it's better to weigh all the options and just give someone money to do it for you. The job is often better and faster, and your pocketbook is not even that much lighter. Plus, while the guy (or gal) is busy doing your bidding, you can do something else like read or write or just daydream about what you would do if you won the lottery.

Here's the situation: I was out in a wealthy suburb having coffee and brilliant conversation with a dear friend, and when I arrived in the parking garage, my car had a flat tire.* To be fair, my car had told me that it was having issues with "tire pressures," but I was driving at the time as well as running late, so by the time I parked, I had forgotten. If my car were Kitt from Night Rider, it might have told me in a soothing British voice, and perhaps I would have listened, but those are the breaks.
There I stood. Unsure what to do. Thinking, "I should call Pete, and he will tell me what to do."

Then the conversation in my head went something like this:
"What do you mean, call your husband, you dumb broad? You have been alone plenty of time in your life and had to take care of things all by yourself, including in Wyoming and in the parking lot of a bar in Hopkins, Minnesota.** What would you do if you did not have someone?"

I called Pete. Sometimes I don't listen.

He said, "Oh yeah, I got that message last night, and I forgot."

(See: British voice, calmly but firmly telling us what to do and not to smack our partners. Repeatedly.)

Pete advised me to drive it to the nearest service station and have them take care of it because the one time he had a flat tire on the car, he found that the jack sucked total balls, and he didn't want me using it. I was now resisting the idea of girling out and having a dude take care of it, so I got out the jack and the spare tire and took the bolt caps off. I tried to get the jack to work or even look like the diagram and the instructions in the owner's manual, but it just did not make sense to me.

I put everything back where it belonged and drove to the nearest service station, where a guy jacked it up, found the screw, and patched the sucker in about six minutes. I paid the guy $24, and went on my merry way.

*Sorry to disappoint, dear reader, but would you really want to read a post about car repairs?
**Both places where I have changed tires.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

We're Assholes

Last night, our new neighbors had a little get-together. It was just a few people sitting around their picnic table and talking. Thing is, I have not been sleeping well for the past three weeks or so, and I was exhausted last night. To the point where I thought I might really be able to sleep. But their yard abuts ours, and it sounds like they are sitting in our bedroom. I closed the windows and put in earplugs, but then it got stuffy, and I also worried that I would not be able to hear Finn if he woke up, so my rest was fitful. When Pete came home, I thought I could take out the earplugs because they seemed to be a bit quieter. Then they got out the guitar and started singing. Poorly. The earplugs went back in. Pete said he would go over and tell them to keep it down, but that makes me feel shitty, too.

So we did nothing. Turned on the air conditioning even though it was a lovely evening and stewed in our own angry juices.

Then this morning, Pete unloaded the car from last night's gig and encouraged Finn to help and be as loud as possible. He encouraged shrieking and the singing of the "Super Hero Squad" theme song.

Because we're assholes. And clearly, thoroughly Minnesotan.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sad Mom

I feel like I am made of lead and am slowly sinking into the earth.

Today at day care, one of my favorite little girls was having an end-of-the-day meltdown which focused on her perfectly reasonable desire to remain shoeless and her dad's perfectly reasonable desire to shoe her for the trip home. When he signed her out, she was laying on the floor, out of view, wailing. With shoes on.

Sometimes, that's just what you have to do.

I said, "I've felt like doing that all week."

"But you have to maintain dignity," our wise day-carer said.

"Wouldn't it be great if you didn't? If sometimes, you could just Do That? Have the fit, the tantrum, let it all out and completely lose it, up to and including all control over your limbs? Just have a wail-and-flail?"

For all my wishing, though, I don't think I could manage it even if it were allowed. I find myself being too restrained and feeling that it would be self indulgent to sit and weep for more than a few minutes or even to wallow silently in distressing emotion. And so far, 2012 is testing me.

This is probably why I feel like lead. I don't think I have let enough of it out.

Though wailing on the floor by the sign-out table at day care probably isn't the best option.

Because I am home most days, enjoying the fruits of unemployment*, one would think I could take a moment or two, pop in "Terms of Endearment" or "Steel Magnolias" and just let fly with the tears, but that would be a colossal waste of time when there is a job to look for, a garden to tend, dinner to cook, a house to keep clean, and numerous projects to work on.

I'm kind of an idiot.

So instead, what happened when I got laid off was I got all weepy one night when Pete was at rehearsal and was not the best mom in the world. Or I get all weepy one morning while getting Finn's cereal, when my grandfather has died. Or I randomly cry when I think of my friend Gary or my friend Sean. Or when I break a beloved bowl. Sad Mom is truly tragic. Whenever she crops up and Finn is around, he says, "Mama, are you sad?" And through tears, I will say, "Yes," and he will ask why. First it was that I lost my job, then I lost my mentor, then a friend, and now my grandfather. All reasons for tears, and tears that often can appear when one least expects it.

When you have an observer, you can become more sensitive to your own moods. At least, I have. Now, that doesn't mean that I am any better at controlling them, but any moods that differ from happy or at least even keel become more noticeable because there's your kid watching you be angry or upset or, as it has happened all too often lately, sad.

In general, I pretty much try not to cry, and I divert energy into other things like scanning photos and cleaning and projects. But it bubbles up to the surface sometimes, and there's Finn, sitting there with a weepy mess of mom.

It sucks. But at least he's a good hugger.

Curious George goes to the Naturopath

I have plenty of issues with the PBS series "Curious George," not the least of which is: CURIOUS GEORGE IS NOT A MONKEY. I know they are stuck with their source material on this one, but one still hopes this simple point would be addressed in a show that wants to be educational. Perhaps they have, and that's the one episode that I have never seen.

The first glimpse I had of the show was before I had a kid, and in it, I saw them show a large sauropod walking while dragging its tail on the ground. We have found no evidence in the fossil record that they did this, nor does it make any sense from a physiological perspective. Their long tails would have balanced their long necks. Since then, however, I have found them to be relatively accurate and to teach good lessons, aside from the fact that they occasionally allow the "monkey" to drive the subway train or work at the soda stand all alone. Or go on a space walk to repair a telescope.

But this particular episode filled me with enough anger that I have to contact the producers:

(From the PBS Kids website) Monkey Fever
The Man with the Yellow Hat always takes such good care of George, so when the Man comes down with a terrible case of the sniffles, George wants to return the favor...
Educational Objective (Science): To illustrate what it's like to be sick with a cold and some ways to take care of yourself when you are sick; get rest, drink fluids, eat healthy food and, if needed, take medicine. Also to introduce some doctor's tools like thermometers and stethoscopes.

All that sounds good, aside from the obvious fact that George is going to make a mess of something at some point because he is not a human in an ape suit. Where it fell off the rails into woo-ville was with this segment:
Live Action Segment The kids visit Dr. Shiva Barton, a naturopathic doctor and learn about alternative healing therapies. The doctor shows them pressure points on their bodies and the importance of staying healthy and eating right.

Naturopathy is woo, not science or health care. One does not need to visit a naturopath to learn about staying healthy and eating right; evidence-based medicine has always and continues to emphasize these elements of health care. Herbs and potions coming from a naturopath are not necessarily tested or proven to work as they are not subject to the same rules and regulations as medical care. It is irresponsible for Public Television to be promoting this nonsense.

"You know what they call alternative medicine that's been proven to work? Medicine." (I have heard this from Tim Minchin and Dara O'Brien.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Things I did not need to see today

daddywhumpus being led around by babywhumpus with an Irish rubber duckie on a lanyard, on his hands and knees, in his boxers, panting like a dog.

Thanks, kid

Daddy, do you have a baby in your tummy?
Daddy, your belly's fat.
Why is it fat? Is it because you eated so much food?
Mama, it's not your fault, it's Daddy's fault.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Woe is me

Broke my favorite bowl tonight. Sat on the kitchen floor and wept hot, salty tears.

Didn't feel any better.

This is what PMS does to you. I probably would have cried anyway because I loved this Thing as much as any girl could love a Thing, but PMS makes this minor accident into a Monstrous Tragedy. It makes you wake up and look at your beloved with spite and bile. It fills you with unutterable woe, turning a long to-do list into a dark tunnel of despair. It makes me want to skip the writing group I have never been to because I have nothing prepared. It makes me see my child as an equal adversary, and I find myself arguing with him like I would a grown-up or like I am a child. It's like low-blood sugar hungry-angry* that persists for days on end and cannot be ameliorated with a granola bar.

Do I glue the bowl, and put stuff in it, this making it a reminder of my stupid klutziness, or do I throw it away? Do I bury it in the back yard complete with prepared words and black garb?

I may never eat cereal again.