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.


Kate said...

Sometimes you need to have a sulk and honestly, it sounds like you are dealing with some crappy financial issues that are going to be made worse with your sister's wedding. Who wouldn't feel the same way in your shoes?

And I'm an atheist, but I don't find weakness in people who believe in stuff. And I love Anne Lamott. I think you're doing what you need to do right now to get through a difficult patch.

Just be glad you didn't have to talk to a doctor to make sure he kept "your sex" when you were having your legs amputated, I suppose... ;)

Ianqui said...

IMHO, it's totally reasonable not to take a toddler traveling because it's just too freaking difficult. Don't most people understand that? And to a wedding? Would you have to wrangle AT the whole time, or have to pay for a babysitter? Where would he go down for his nap? Not only is it not worth the financial trouble, it's not worth the logistical trouble. I know I don't know anything about your relationship with your family, but I hope you could say to them that it would just be too difficult to bring AT along. Then just leave him home with AL. That would really cut down on expenses, right? If your family wants to see him, they should come out to you.

What a crappy situation. I hope it gets better soon.

Sisyphus said...

Hugs! And of course we are willing to listen to kvetching! Be good to yourself --- and tell us how the cookies came out!

Maude said...

i second all those things that the three wise women above me have pointed out. just go by yourself to your sister's wedding. I mean, is she expecting kids at the wedding, because if she decides on an adult only or 12 or 15 and above wedding (because it's on a boat), then you're up the creek on your own. FWIW, i think if you're going to go, you should go alone. That way, too, maybe your sister can hook you up with another out of town guest going solo and you can share a room or something. Since it would be just you, then it'd be easier to navigate that. Plus, AT would be with AL--it's not like you're leaving him with a stranger and you'd know he'd be safe and sound and NOT running around on a boat.

Look a very wise friend told me over Xmas break that even though I had stuff to get done, if I had a day when I should work but just couldn't, then I shouldn't--I should veg on the couch and watch depressing movies if that's what I needed. Also, said friend keeps reminding me how difficult this first year on the t-t is and that I should cut myself some slack. I know your research reqs are a bit different than mine, but now is the winter of our discontent, and soon spring will be here, even in your parts of the town, and you can get outside and moving and you have the CSA to look forward to (I'm jealous), and the tax return will come in and AT will get his glasses and AL will get the job.

But for now, if you need to sulk, sulk, cry, be angry, vent, pray, bake, shake your fists at the universe and curse your family behind closed doors. Take some yoga advice here and just be present, even if that present moment is sulk or anger or hopelessness. Sometimes you need to just be.

Love you. Maudie.

Anonymous said...

I would not want to deal with a toddler on a boat. I'm going to have a nightmare tonight just thinking about it. I would leave AT at home. if they want to see the kid, they can visit *you*.

Anne Lamott is good. Kathleen Norris is alright, too. You know what's really amazing, though? Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm. I feel certain you would appreciate it if you haven't read it. It's inexpensive on amazon.

Earnest English said...

Did y'all know that there's a limit to how long a comment can be? I didn't. So I'm going to include the more commenty things here and then put up another post later with some context stuff about my sister's wedding and folks.

First, I want to say how much I appreciate and cherish these comments, good wishes, and perspectives. I don't leave the house much, don't communicate enough with my friends (Maude and Jane D, if you're out there, I should be calling you -- I seem to have some trouble with reaching out), don't have many friends here in Snowy Town, and lose perspective completely. So hearing that a number of you think that it's totally reasonable to go without AT is really really helpful.

Ianqui and Anastasia: I so appreciate hearing from you that it is not unreasonable to say or at least imply that if my folks or sis want to see AT, then they should hop on a plane. I doubt they ever will, but whatever.

Kate, Maude, and Sis: Thanks for just accepting my need to sulk -- and agreeing that the levels of suckage around here earn a sulk! That helps!

Sis, the cookies were merely okay. I forgot to cover the bowl when I put the dough in the fridge and it ended up kind of driving out the cookies. But I did make the bread and it's delicious.

Anastasia, I'll look for that Annie Dillard book. I have read Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk. I'm beginning to see now that I've long been exploring spirituality -- often more in the pagan and eastern contexts. More recently, I started really studying Judaism, the religion of my family. But Christianity??? I have so much of those "crazy Christian" stereotypes in my head from my dad, I think it's hard not to fight with myself on this one. So I really appreciate your help.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

Oh, definitely no travels with toddler to wedding on boat. No, no, no. That's crazymaking even if you have a lot of money to throw at the situation (own seat on plane, babysitters and comfy hotel suite at location, etc.).

And I relate to the daycare stuff so much, too. It's really difficult, isn't it? But I think sometimes we need to use daycare to tend to ourselves so we can be better parents when we pick our kids up.

I think you deserve the sulk, and hopefully you'll feel better at the other end. Sending you a virtual Starbucks. If I were there I'd come take you out for one.

P said...

I've been to two weddings since my son was born. I took him with me to the first one (he was 1.5 years). Never again. The second wedding -- my brother's no less -- was AWESOME. I was thoroughly relaxed, totally enjoyed myself, and didn't once feel bad for not bringing Bump. (It helps that my brother sort of preferred a child-free wedding, but he did not request this. We just knew we'd have more fun if we didn't have our toddler with us).

You could save lots of money and travel-related stress if you went alone. Wouldn't people generally understand? And if they didn't, well, that's not *your* problem, right?

Sorry. Hope my tone isn't too hard.

It's just that having a child and landing a full-time job (after a long life as a child-less grad student) have invited me to change to way I interact with other "adults." I've found that I am a much happier person when I stand my ground on things in which I believe. You have every right to *not* bring AT and AL. I would stand by that belief and go with it.

Unless, of course, you actually want them to come, in which case. Gah. Sorry. It's difficult, this transition from graduate-student poverty to economic recovery.

Hang in there. It will get easier.

Bardiac said...

Gosh, I was going to suggest you could just eat the cookie dough raw. (Think of all the electricity that saves!) But you already baked it, and then bread! MMMM, fresh baked bread!

I hope things start looking up and you're feeling better.