Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Break Monday Freak Out

Absurdist Tot is at his new daycare. Gulp. I wish I could have a camera on him all the time so I could see what's going on there -- just so I could see how he is there and whether he's outgoing or reserved or having a good time or whatever. Not because I'm worried about the daycare. The people there seem great. Sigh. I'm totally a helicopter parent. But then, he's not even a year and a half old. I might get over it by the time he's in college. Especially if he's got all those weird boy smells.

I feel like these totally normal daycare people are going to figure out that the Absurdists are totally fringey -- that we don't help our child figure out how to sit still. They're going to figure me out -- that I'm a terrible person, a terrible human being. Like when my ex-therapist asked me what time I usually awakened, and I said that try as I might I don't really have a set schedule. He replied: "well, that's not very adult, is it?" Only he's saying it over and over and over in my head. Obsessive, are we?

So I have so much to do -- for the new quarter, doctor's appointments to schedule, sister's wedding and dress stuff, student loan stuff. I'm whelmed and overwhelmed. I'm embarrassed how behind I am in all things -- so much so that I dare not put my to-do list on the old blog. I'm all nervous and freaked out. Sigh. I've got a bunch of different tabs open -- and I keep flipping back and forth from this blogpost to a bunch of incoming emails. It's terrible. I need to control my input in order to be able to figure out what needs to be done first, then focus on just one thing and get it done. Furg, I need to mellow out just to be able to write a damn to-do list so I don't go mad mad mad. I'm not well. I need to calm down. (Did I mention that Absurdist Tot is going to daycare again on Thursday and then not on Friday because it's Good Friday? So I really have to be productive here.) I'm quite flippery. Soon, this is going to be a full-fledged coping-with-ADD blog.

Happy Monday. Blech.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Beginnings: New Daycare, New Quarter

Absurdist Tot starts a new daycare tomorrow -- with a more regimented daily plan. He's such a wild kid, I can't tell whether it's going to be a complete no-go, making him feel confined and ruining his sunny disposition, or whether he'll thrive in more structure than Absurdist Lover and I are good at providing. This place has a lot of art and music, gymnastics and outside time. So he may well thrive. I hope so. Why am I the one who is nervous?

I really hope he doesn't cry when I leave; I just hate that.

Tomorrow officially starts spring break, which means I've got to use the time to high-tail it and wrest the spring quarter under control. Learning objectives. Syllabi. Plans. All that. Not that I haven't been taking notes and planning and researching and thinking and rethinking. But I haven't written my syllabi, finalized exactly which readings to include, things like that. I certainly haven't mapped it all onto the quarter calendar. It all begins again tomorrow.

I long for the sleepy winter, everything blanketed under snow, with good excuses to stay in and hunker down. I must wake from my winter hibernation. Some hibernation -- I've been tired the whole time! Back to walking back and forth between my classroom, the women's bathroom, and my office for hours on end. Back to teaching. Back to trying to find time to get scholarship done. This winter, instead of pumping out some articles, I crocheted up a storm, worked on a huge cross-stitch project for AT, taught myself how to bake bread, cooked a lot. Started working out a little bit. Spent a lot of time with the tot. Spent some quality time with AL. Went away to a conference which reminded me how lucky I am, for all my grumblings about how hard it is to be a working mom, an academic mom, a mom mom, a mom on the tenure track. I'm very lucky. Even very barely squeaking by financially and incurring the irk of my Urban City family, I'm very lucky. Even though it is certainly difficult to balance everything, I'm still very very blessed.

Friday, March 19, 2010

On Self-Confidence: Trying to Become Comfortable with Being My Messy Self

I went to a panel that basically has gotten me thinking about my unease as an academic/professor. I'm not at all going to (or even try to) do the paper I heard justice, but basically what I want to think about here is what I get out of not being myself as a professor at my job and whether I can do anything about it.

So first off, I like my job. But for the last couple years, I've felt messy, like I have no idea what I'm doing. I've talked with some people (including Peppy Advisor, God bless her) and feeling like I have no idea what I'm doing seems pretty much par for the course during the craziness of having a baby under 2. Really, and I know this sounds strange to anyone who doesn't have kids, but I haven't caught up with the fact that I'm a mom. I don't feel like a mom. . .no -- maybe that's not quite right. I don't feel like my image of what a mom feels like. Like so many things, being a mom just isn't what I expected. (What is, right? But even though I know nothing is like its hype in theory, in practice it's all still surprising.) On the other hand, I'm totally a mom. I worry about my darling boy. I think he's the cutest thing in the world. I tell Absurdist Lover to look at the cute thing AT's doing at least five times a day, though he's seen it. I worry for AT. I worry he'll have all my bad habits, my negative self-talk, that because he's a boy he'll get totally bored with school and do all the things that led most of my male friends to take drugs, get in trouble, and drop out. I swear the reason I got through it all was because I wanted to go to college so badly and because I was used to being a reasonably good-ish girl and was scared of straying too much into danger and harm's way. (My mother really helped instill a big fear of men and the world in me. Which may have saved me in some ways but of course I worry about now that I have a son.) Anyway, not to go off on that tangent, but the daily work of being a parent, being a mom means I've never really caught up to the fact that I am a mom and done the reflective work around it that might make me feel like I know what I'm doing as a parent or a person. I just am not sure I've really integrated my identity as a mom into who I am, which is strange and interesting as I discover that, as the Bill Pullman character says in The Accidental Tourist, "I'm just not the person I thought I was" or maybe as the William Hurt character says in the same movie, Absurdist Lover (though Hurt was talking about the Geena Davis character) "has given me another chance to decide who I am." These quotes really resonate with me, obviously. To make a long story short (too late), my identity has been in flux these past couple years.

And I think fundamentally I feel really embarrassed about that. Like I don't want people to see how messy I am. Now, I've always been kind of messy. But before I was more messy cynical. Now I am a more. . .sentimental. I'm a bit embarrassed about loving crochet (though I always loved cross stitch before too), enjoying making dinner and baking bread. As if I'm some weird throw-back, undoing the progress of the women's movement or something. I'm embarrassed, a bit, and defensive about how granola I am, how I've started praying pretty regularly (though I still love astrology, even as I truly know how ridiculous it is), how I've come to believe that affirmations may seriously help someone with such toxic self-talk. I say that "I'm such a nerd" way too often. I'm a much better friend to my friends, who I find myself telling that they are fabulous because I really believe it and I think they are just hard on themselves, than I am to myself. I need to be a better friend to myself. I know this. Dammit!

Of course, starting a job in the middle of all this doesn't help. It's another identity transformation -- from grad student to professor. (Yes, there was that first job at Adventure U, but then I was an adjunct after that -- and we all know how that contingent status just does a wonderful job of making a person feel like contingent person.) I'm also the only person in my department who has young kids and looks like an exhausted mom. I feel totally like I do everything half-assed. Which, from what everyone who's done this before tells me, is normal. But I'm also isolated and have few people to laugh about it with. I've got to work on that.

So being in an identity flux and feeling like I do parenting and academic work completely half-assed (also my scholarship is changing a bit, but that doesn't feel quite as foundational) makes me feel insecure in who I am, feel insecure in my job, and feel not even remotely self-confident. But I don't want to feel that way anymore. One of the most wonderful people I know in the world is just so upfront about her messiness that it doesn't even come off as lack of confidence or anxiety or anything. Instead of trying to hide anything, she's confident enough to admit her frailties, her messiness. I think I might have once been like that -- or at least come off that way. But that's the way I want to be. I don't want to hide. I don't want to pretend I'm not an exhausted momademic. I am. And it's exhausting. And I'm not trying to get out of any work or anything. Not at all. This is just the period of my life where I don't sleep much and am pretty sure I'm not doing my absolutely best work. But I am doing the best work I can right now.

I want to find a way to stop feeling defensive and silencing myself. Remember the clothes obsession I was having a while ago? I used to wear jeans to teach when I was in grad school -- not in the first weeks of the semester, but eventually. Occasionally I would get comments about it, but generally it was fine. I never wear jeans in the classroom at VPU. Just never. I do occasionally wear them to work, but I'm always super-aware of the fact that I'm wearing jeans and then I feel underdressed next to the professors (always older and tenured) wearing suits. (In fairness, there is a colleague who wears jeans and a sweater every day -- and I've been told he's done that since the start of his career here. But he's male. Is it different? Is it different because I say it is and am overcompensating for my insecurity? I don't want to see something that is not there.) I want to be taken seriously. But I also want to be myself. I don't know if this means I should start wearing jeans. Maybe not wearing jeans here is not out of fear but from a more savvy sense of what's appropriate in this very different context. I do have students call me Dr. English, not because I'm not a casual person, but because I'm not a grad student anymore. I deserve it.

I'm a hard worker. Not that I feel like a hard worker when my elective is so radically underprepared at this point, but I think I also have impossible perfectionist standards and then I procrastinate and fail in my own eyes. This is not good. I need to be better to myself. Not that I'm really having a problem with my teaching, but I think my teaching will be more enjoyable if I just try to be a good role model of a person who is authentic, realistic, and honest about who she is, and, most important, not ruled by fear. I want to work on this. I don't want to project all this insecurity out onto my colleagues as if they are making me feel this way. I honestly can't really tell. But I think I need to make more of an effort to talk to my colleagues. It's true that the first year is just grueling -- and having a baby at home means that I can't just get together with people for drinks or anything. But I need to meet and talk with my colleagues more. Perhaps I'll make a goal of meeting with a colleague once every couple months. (We're all so busy, this is probably a very reasonable goal though it sounds ridiculous -- surely I should be able to manage one a month, but. . .I know we're all sort of running scared most of the time.)

I'm going to have a better spring, I've decided. I'm great, absolutely stellar at tying myself into knots. Now I'm going to figure out how to be Houdini and get myself out of them. If anyone has any advice on how to become more self-accepting, less anxiety-ridden, and more mellow, I'm all ears.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How Different I've Become -- and Coping with ADD

Sssshhhhhh. I'm up here. In my hotel room, far away from the rooms where the sessions are taking place. I can see y'all in your smart suits, geek tags swinging. I'll be back down there with you soon enough.

Yes, I'm at a conference. I flew in today, leaving home at scary early in the morning after practically no sleep. After weeks of looking forward to this conference for the hotel room and not having someone bang on the door when I'm in the bathroom and having the luxury of taking a bath, I just miss AT so much. I just never knew I could love someone so much that it feels wrong to be away from him. I miss AL too. And my life of baking bread and crochet and finding organic stores and farms with AL and walking with AT to see the geese. I thought it would be good to get away, and I realize that the good of leaving is to realize how much I miss them. Yesterday, I was sad just thinking about leaving. I've run into a couple colleagues from grad school days already -- and I realize how different my priorities are now -- not in terms of the conference (I'm not good at all the glad-handing and networking of conferences -- I just prefer to sit down and have longer conversations with people rather than the quickie who-are-you-and-what-do-you-do stuff and have always been that way), but in terms of my life. It's weird but nice to think how I've changed. I wish I could feel more comfortable in those changes, but I think more sleep is probably key to feeling better in a bunch of ways. One of the colleagues I ran into and I commiserated about how being a parenting academic means feeling you're doing everything half-assed. It's so nice hearing that come out of someone who always looked, at least, like s/he knew what hir was doing. Maybe this is just what a parenting academic looks like. I mean. . . this is what it looks like! Anyway, this is what I look like -- and there's nothing wrong with it. No more of this mental toxic sludge! Just stop!

I had this classic moment at the airport. I was reading this fabulous-looking book on ADD that was talking about all this mental toxic sludge that goes on in our heads when we're just ADD when I booted up my phone and it said 7:30am, the time my connecting flight was supposed to leave. Which means that I had been blissfully reading the book as if I had all the time in the world -- for over an hour! I freaked out. Dropped the book and started down the hallway back to my gate. Luckily, it was just that my phone hadn't yet registered the time change and I was fine. But that freak-out like I could've been flipping through this book for more than an hour felt totally real -- and totally ADD. Just zoning so totally out that I have no idea how much time has elapsed. If I needed proof of my own ADD, there it was. In the book, they were talking about a state I know very well: Overwhelm. I get overwhelmed pretty easily -- or it's that my brain races and worries and obsesses so I'm overwhelmed early, way ahead of schedule. Obsessing is the one thing I don't procrastinate.

Right now, I'm too tired for true Overwhelm, but as always I'm having trouble figuring out what to do (and so I blog -- sorry everyone). I did a great job (if I say so myself) revising my presentation on paper on the flights, so now I need to incorporate those changes into the file and figure out where to print it. (Note to self: Don't forget again that you are a paper person! Revising on paper is doable, if wasteful. Just do as Anne Lamott says and plant trees and give it up already! Work with not against your natural proclivities, girlfriend, as I'd say to any of my friends.) Do I do it right now, when I'm tired, but not really sleepy enough to take the nap I surely desperately need? Or do I turn on the TV and trust that after a couple stressful days I will surely zone out and conk out asap? Why can't I ever make a decision? (ADD.) The book said when overwhelmed to back up and get back to a decent mental state. Which requires sleep. So TV and sleep, here I come. See? I can follow directions. Which maybe means I'm not ADD. Ha ha ha.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Daycare Update and Things Are Springing (Slowly) Forward

It's ironic that I began last Thursday's blogpost with my concerns about our daycare over the long term, because by the end of the day we decided we really can't take Absurdist Tot back there. When we went to pick him up, the person in charge told us that AT had a big mark on his eye that they found after his nap, but even though he asked the morning person and researched whether there was anything in the nap area that could've caused it, they found nothing. He said this before we saw AT, as the little ones are not in the front room. When we saw AT, it looked awful. Not only was his eye puffy, but he had big sort of square splotches above his eyebrow. How could they not know what caused it?

Now, I've certainly had my back turned with AT when he smashed into things. He's a very active little boy. But I can put two and two together afterward and surmise what must've happened. I'm not that upset that he got hurt at daycare, or even terribly surprised that it happened when someone's back was turned, but how could they not figure it out? It was bad enough that it looked like AT must've cried when it happened. And as AL quite rightly pointed out, they didn't call us about it, even though they must've known about it for hours before we picked him up. What if he had needed a doctor? Since this is on top of some other icky vibes we've gotten, we're not taking him back there. So we have no daycare now and are searching, again, for a place that will deal with us with the food. We had seen some other decent places when we were searching before, but it's hard for me to feel good about putting him in a place where he's going to get non-organic food, not because I think somehow I'm going to keep his little system pure, but because I just want him to have the best I can get for him -- and if he's going to get pesticide-ridden things in daycare, then it's going to be on a regular basis rather than the occasional bad thing. The more good food he gets, the stronger his system will be. The more his little liver is trying to rid him of bad things, the less energy his body puts into things like growing and developing.

The strange thing is that I feel sad about leaving our old daycare. But I know it's for the best, because the caregiver we really felt confident about was only there for a halfday anyway. And I don't feel as confident about the other caregivers, especially because it really seems like they have just too many kids and not enough caregivers. The prospect of looking for a new daycare leaves me feeling deflated. I'm trying, again, to find out where the granolaheads send their kids, but I'm afraid the answer at his age is either expensive (private nannies) or impossible (staying home). But in the time it took to write that AL called up a new (to us) place and asked about opting out of the snacks -- and they volunteered that it was fine because they have a number of kids on organic-only diets. Cross your fingers. It's a Christian daycare, and in the past that would've been a complete no-go for me, but now I'm so confused about religion that. . .I just don't know. The new organic co-op we found has a box of prayer requests, so maybe. . .I just have no idea.

Both Absurdist Lover and Tot are sick. AT has not been sleeping well, which means I'm not sleeping well -- and I spent a number of hours lying in bed thinking about my elective, thinking while ostensibly doing something else being the operative way I work nowadays. I don't feel like a good academic just now. I don't feel like my classes are prepped as much as they should be by now. Sigh. Next week, when Absurdist Lover is well, I'll ask him to watch AT more so I can get stuff done. AL reminded me recently that I should ask him to watch AT so I can do supportive and restorative things for me too. We put a hopeful sum away for me to buy a car. AL is likely starting his own business. We're determined to be more positive. So good things are happening over here. Spring has sprung, and I long to be outside more. We're trying to find more community. It's all just sort of slow going right this second. The daycare thing is a drag, but we'll figure it out -- and maybe this new place will be much more in line with us.

Big changes may be afoot in my department -- and I have some things to say about them to the bigwigs proposing the changes. (I'm not against them, but I want more explanation for some particular curricular revisions they're proposing, since I've been trying to get some curricular revision done around some particular courses -- and it's clear they're not thinking what I'm thinking.) It feels a big David-and-Goliathy but probably only in my own head. Imposter syndrome. The young mother in jeans against the men in suits. It's just me. I'm smart, dammit! I'm going to start daily affirmations or something. This imposter syndrome has got to stop. I need to be a good academic, professional, and colleague -- and I can't do that if I feel like I shouldn't say anything until after tenure. No. That's not who I am. It's just hard to have so much on the line. (And all this hand-wringing in my first year. Ee gads!)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Today Is Brought to You by Day and Org: Daycare, Organic Food, and Organizing My Day

It's official. Before Absurdist Tot is old enough to move into the next room at daycare (which is maybe preschool -- and I guess there is time), I'm going to have to find a new daycare. When we dropped him off today, I heard the teacher (who is not the usual teacher, but still a pretty decent one) tell the kids that because they were good at whatever they were doing, they could go get a sucker. At 10:30 in the morning! I'm sorry. I know I'm probably much more extreme about controlling what my kid eats than a lot of parents (organic everything), but I think giving kids sugar (not to mention HFCS and food dye) and nutrition-less food as a reward for good academic behavior at 10:30 AM is. . .well, not criminal, but certainly going to set up crap behavior as well as sugar-related behavior problems throughout the day. It's not that I want to keep AT from candy forever -- it's really just almost impossible -- but not as a reward for school and not before lunch. I'm sorry. No. I don't like it. I don't want my kid eating that toxic crap, and I don't want him to feel excluded from having what everyone else has.

I also just feel like they have too many kids in AT's room. I believe the official and legal ratio is 1 and 6, but some of the other daycares we looked at had 1 and 4 at his age. I like our daycare, how it doesn't feel all clinical and institutional and the people are warm and friendly, but I'll be very happy next week when the woman who made us fall in love with our daycare will be back.

One of the reasons we went with this daycare is because the food was up to us, so AT wouldn't be eating a bunch of organic-but-state-approved food. Sigh. Food and daycare. What a nightmare!

I wish the whole organic thing weren't such an uphill battle, especially when the argument is, at least to me, so obvious. Kids eat a lot more vegetables and fruits than adults do. With their more vulnerable and still developing systems (remember, we worry about when to give them milk and peanut butter and all that because their systems are fragile and they could develop an allergy at that age that they would not have later), pesticides are much more difficult for their little livers to deal with. There's research on this. Dr. Sears's Baby Book and the website contain wonderful discussions on the dangers of pesticides for children and how pesticides include brain-damaging toxins! The Pesticide Action Network (yes, a special interest group, so they are biased, but then so is our conventional food system who I swear is putting out propaganda suggesting that organic is only for effete upper-class individuals who have the luxury to buy gourmet food -- damn it, organic is not gourmet! it's old-fashioned, non-toxic food! and you know what? my organic salad fixings are really not that much more expensive than the conventional, even in winter across the country from the state that's putting out most of the organic stuff in winter -- and I don't have to worry that I'm going to be paying later in health costs) also has great info and research on the harm of pesticides on children. And yet state-mandated food for daycare is not organic. It should be. It should be, dammit.

So AT is at daycare. Which means it's time for me to be productive. I don't feel like night-of-the-living-dead, as I've felt on and off for the last few days. In fact, AL suggested doing something fun, but something in me was immediately against it -- maybe because daycare is supposed to be when I get things done, and I have a long list of things I haven't been doing and while I don't exactly feel like a failure in every direction (because I did get that conference paper done for now), I know I could feel better about my workload. So.

  1. I want to read some research and take some notes. I've got two different articles I could read for. I haven't decided which I'll read for, but I know if I do this, I'll definitely feel like I've gotten something done. DONE: That is, I looked at two smaller pieces of research, only one of which is at all really helpful. I want to look at the big piece for the other article, but it's clear to me I don't have time today. It's okay. Really, Earnie, it's okay.
  2. I really need to try driving the car. If I could drive that car, it would make a huge difference in my feeling of freedom and independence. I'd be able to go to the store when we need more food. I could run to school when I need to rather than dragging the whole family. Can you tell I'm trying to convince myself here, because driving a 5-speed is just so damn scary? I tried driving with AL, but it freaked him out and so we never got out of the complex. I'm super-frustrated. Am I going to have to pay money to pay someone to teach me -- someone who is used to people being unsure and vulnerable in order to learn how to drive the damn car?
  3. I've got to work on the elective. I haven't firmed up my reading list and need to. Because so many of my books are out of reach, I'm going to have to ILL some books in order to make copies. It's so damn stupid, but there it is. I'm also just plain having trouble coming up with some readings.
  4. Workout? DONE
  5. Pump, since I'm going away soon and AT needs a cache of breastmilk. DONE
I feel so much like that moment in Parenthood when Steve Martin is having a super bad day, having just found out he's not getting the partnership at work and has quit and his wife says she's pregnant, but he's got to go coach Little League and she asks if he really has to, and he responds: "my whole life is have to." It's not true in my case, of course, and I love AL and AT and my job, but. . .well, sitting in a hotel room watching bad TV without having to worry about whether it's scrambling AT's brain and making him ADD sounds pretty good right now.

It's ridiculous. I'm all stressed out. But if I just spend an hour on each of the above things, it'll be time to pick AT up. (No time for fun -- waaa. And it's so sunny and nice -- the snow has completely melted off our patio.) So I better quit whining and just get on it! Why is that so hard? (I think because I used to have so much time to explore my feelings and get my inner house in order -- and now there's no time for that. And I have a pretty messy inner house. I've got to get things done now or they don't get done.)

Please remind me to write about the following things: being on a search committee, because some of the things I found out really surprised me and would be good, I think, to share, and the book I'm reading on boys. Let me know if either of these pique your interest.


Monday, March 8, 2010

Things Are Looking Up But I'm Counting Spots on the Ceiling

Here I am at the kitchen table, Absurdist Tot in daycare, and I'm ignoring the print-outs of the two different documents I have on this dumb conference paper. AL is even at the grocery store doing the shopping. I should be working. Or working out. I'm just so tired. Spent. I spent a couple hours writing some emails about this elective I'm teaching -- and now I just want to lie down and count the spots on the ceiling.

In good news, my sister wrote and explained to me that she totally understands my coming to the wedding without AL and AT. She totally gets it. That's a load off my shoulders. Though maybe it hasn't sunk in yet. Forget the folks. If they can't appreciate that my focus/commitment is to my little Absurdist Family, then sod them. They might make gestures toward wanting to see AT, but they have never followed up with Skyping to see him or asked me questions about him or anything. I'm hurt. And concerned that he'll not have as many people in his corner as he ought to, which puts more pressure on me to compensate/surround him with other people who love him, but right now he's fine. He doesn't care about anyone else, only that I don't leave the room even to go to the bathroom. (Oh how he cries!) So whatever.

Can I tell you a secret? Last night I was thinking of scholarship as this little game I play in order to stay employed. By the clear light of day though that statement feels more like a lie, like scholarship has some importance. Whatever my scholarship's intrinsic worth to my field, department, world, it's also a necessary part of my job and therefore contributes to AT's well-being and so it follows that it's.worth.getting.done. Especially when one's conference is in less than two weeks. Somehow this argument is not so motivating.

Maybe I should read something in the conversation to which I'm responding.

Maybe ten minutes of lying down before I dive into this conference paper is in order.


I took a walk, and it occurred to me that the hard part of this conference paper for me is writing in sentences. When I think of standing up there in front of people, I just can't imagine reading at them about this stuff. I just want to be more casual, more conversational. I wonder if this is because I just don't feel that this stuff is scholarly enough. Or maybe I just am having trouble believing in scholarship and scholarly discourse right now. Or maybe I'm just so comfortable with this stuff (I wrote this original draft for this about five years ago) that I want to talk it. I don't know. I don't know what this means. But I'm going to go write longhand for a little while, then workout. I picked up a bunch of pinecones out there. Can it be possible that I'm not ready for spring?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Bit of a Sulk

I realize I made a commitment to trying to be more positive, but I've also learned that trying to be relentlessly positive is counterproductive and just ignores all the black and blue feelings that need to be dealt with or at least expressed. Though I am still committed to trying to get underneath the snark to what's really going on. It's interesting how I edit myself in this space, though that's probably a subject for another time.

Right this second I feel like night of the living dead. Absurdist Tot is in daycare (yes, he cried again today and it breaks my heart -- the kid who is always all over us when we're there was banging toys in his face -- no, I don't think this helped) and so I should be productive and everything. But I'd like to sit on the couch and zone out to a bunch of depressing movies I've seen at least twenty times. Why? Well, partly I think it is just physiological. I just had a fasting blood test, but didn't make an appointment, so, more vulnerable and grumpy that usual, I had to wait in a waiting room of characters (including a older woman who had had part of her legs amputated but was hilariously whispering about how she told the doctors to "leave her sex so she could have some fun -- after all, she didn't want just to sit around." Clearly, whatever crap I'm dealing with is nothing compared to having your legs amputated! I should just get a grip.) There was also a person of indeterminate gender being wheeled around who seemed only capable of making intermittent cries of our her (I think) rather permanently gaping mouth. It didn't seem that this person had much awareness of what was going on around her. I admit that I'm not always good at being around people who are so seriously. . . impaired. But really it's probably that all this is very out of the ordinary for someone who leaves the house to go to work and the grocery store and that's it. But probably none of this was anything compared to the book I was reading about trauma. So low blood sugar plus blood being drawn plus AT crying plus being surrounded by strangers for a couple hours as I waited. . .probably not a great beginning to the day in which I should be unusually productive.

But then there is everything going on at home. We have practically no money until I get paid again over a week from now. I did the taxes and am expecting a refund, but that is likely to come in at the same time I get paid. Scraping and scratching and paying late fees on things so we can eat just depresses me and grumps me out. Absurdist Lover is sick and doesn't have insurance (no domestic partner benefits and we can't get married yet). He's also up for a job that looks really good, but now we're just waiting and we all know that tension and how it makes everyone grumpy and crazy. (Please cross your fingers, toes, and eyes for us, because it's a perfect job for him.) Compounded with our financial troubles? GAH!

Then there's my sister's wedding. I love her dearly. I want her to have the wedding she wants. I really want to be supportive. But getting to the wedding is going to cost at least $1,000 to get us out to Urban Yuck City if not more. Then there's the fact that we have no place to stay (my fault -- my brother asked first, though he's traveling only 300 miles and has friends in the area while we're traveling over 2,000 miles -- I'm very upset about all this). And then there's the issue of the dress -- she picked out one that I really think I'll look like a cow in, but though I expressed some concerns, I said fine, but that I needed to know how to get it and what it's going to cost. Now, she's going to look for new dresses. I'm really not sure why -- she just announced it to me in an email.

When I think about this wedding, I think how secretly I don't want to go at all and how guilty I feel about that: it really feels like we're going to have to use the very money that would allow us to get ahead (I don't have a car and I feel very trapped plus I want to get my stuff still in storage several states away) just to get and stay there. The traveling and probably the wedding itself sounds like nothing but hassle with AT since the wedding is on a boat and that makes me nervous with a toddler who wants to run around so much. Absurdist Lover and I are still talking about the possibility of only my going, though we know that my family will want to see AT. My feeling is I'm not taking AT without Absurdist Lover because I will most likely lose it and actually go insane if I have to deal with traveling and AT and my family all on my own. Then there's the totally selfish catty stuff. I can't ask my folks for the money to go out there because I already owe them so much already, and they are not actively hassling me about it, though they live high on the hog compared to people like us. Also, this wedding is totally beyond my sister's means. When she sends me links to her honeymoon in Obnoxious Resort City, I'm angry and disgusted. The truth is if Absurdist Lover and I get married, we will probably get married here in Snowy Town quietly -- we may invite my family and his but with the full expectation that they will not come. His, because they have no money. Mine, because they don't travel to see me. And I would never spend so much money on a wedding. I totally get wanting to have a great party to start off a marriage, but to me a great wedding is having all your friends and family at a beautiful outdoor place with food and presents they made themselves (though I'm not immune to the attractions of Le Creuset and KitchenAid - if anyone wants to give me either). So the fact that my sister is getting married in a rather overblown and pricey way totally out of touch with her finances so she can't pick up the tab for my dress and has been telling me to get airline tickets for literally months when she knows that we don't have two nickels to rub together (because I've borrowed $20 from her at time just to make it to payday) -- well it all makes me angry.

And I know that no one is trying to piss me off and really the reason why I get angry is because I'm hurt. It's easier for me to be angry -- anger has energy to it and being hurt feels like such a disempowered and disempowering and deflating emotion. On the one hand, I want my sister to have the wedding she wants. On the other hand, I feel like the concerns of me and the little family that I'm supporting are going totally unnoticed and uncared about by my sister and my folks. And our poverty starkly contrasted with my sister's wedding and my father's million dollar house, the yuppie cars, the kids with the flat screen TVs and play systems in their rooms -- GAH!!! Now, in reality I don't talk to my folks much, so it's not like I've been filling them in on our financial situation. I still owe them money, my father is mad, but both of us are avoiding the confrontation and have been for months. I know I should deal with all this, especially since it's coloring my feelings about my sister's wedding, but I'm not really feeling that adult right now with all the other things I'm dealing with. There's also a long history at work here. It hurts my feelings that my folks don't call about AT. They have no idea that AT needs glasses and that we can't afford them right now ($250 because I didn't get vision insurance for him).

When I mentioned all this to Absurdist Lover (who saw me blogging), he said maybe I should write a list of all we have to look forward to. Good idea.

  • The CSA. We're really looking forward to this. Really. I'd be happy if it started today. Yesterday.
  • We're getting a refund and that should help somewhat.
  • I'm also very grateful that we don't have worse things to worry about. We could have terrible acute illnesses. I don't. AT doesn't. Thank God. I hope Absurdist Lover doesn't.
By the way, I've been praying a lot. The old sarcastic me doesn't recognize this me who thinks that as a purely practical matter, it's much more hopeful and wonderful to believe that someone is listening to all these fervent hopes and requests for help and cares about them, even if sometimes S/He says no. To all my atheist readers, if this makes me a weak person: fine. I'm weak. I can live with that. (To all my faith-based readers, you can see I feel really defensive about this. I can just imagine what my folks would say if I ever said I believed in anything. Or that I prayed. Why do I even care what they think? If you have any ideas of things I should read beyond Anne Lamott, let me know. I'd appreciate it. Thanks.)

With all of this stuff weighing down on me, I need to figure out a way to work because I've got things to do:

  1. I've got a conference in 2 weeks and need to get a draft to my writing group by early next week, no matter that at the last writing group meeting, it seemed to me silly the way we all sit around and split hairs about theory as if it mattered. (Okay, it matters, but when I'm worried about feeding my family or not being able to pay for AT's glasses, whether Foucault or de Certeau or whoever is the right theorist for whatever point just doesn't matter jack to me.)
  2. I want to bake some bread because we're out and because there's something so primal about it. (Though I need to get the rest of the cookie dough out of our single mixing bowl I need to make the bread, which means, I think, that I need to bake those cookies!)
  3. I want to work out because that's something I can do that will make me feel better in my body.
  4. I wanted to practice driving AL's car, because if I can just figure out how to drive a stick, I can occasionally get out of the house without making AL come with us. (SCARY!)
There's no way I'm going to get all this done before we need to go pick up AT. It's already 1:30! Having a good sulk takes time. So I'll bake cookies, start the bread, work on the conference paper, and get some working out done. Maybe no car today, though I really should. I'd really like to be able to drive myself to Starbucks or wherever. Not that we could afford it. But it's the idea of it.

Thanks for listening. I feel better.