Pre Blather

So it appears that  The Swaggering Blogher 2009 has come and gone and and so I can finish up being jealous that I didn’t get to go and start peeing my pants about The Blathering because holy wah it’s less than two months away and people with access to the internet who can twitter the world about my HIDEOUS fake wood floors and my ghetto screen doors are going to come stay at my house and I will admit that I’m a tiny bit nervous about it. I mean, I heard there was THROW UP in the elevators of the Blogher hotel, and I totally don’t have an elevator.  I am not really sure where people will throw up, is what I’m saying here.  Although Mr. E will probably tell you that a front porch works just fine for things like that, and we totally have a front porch.  So check that off the list!

Anyhoo, so, please let me just point out two or maybe three things to you if you are coming to my house:

1. There is nothing, NOT NOTHING IN THE WHOLE WORLD, no nothing nothing nothing, no substance or dollar amount or chemical you could inject into my veins that would ever make me fashion some kind of hat out of a non hat object and put it on my head and have my picture taken. I am just not wired that way.  I once fell off a front porch into a large bush, (again with the front porches,  I wonder if I have a fetish?!).  I love a good dance party.  I once made out with one my younger brother’s best friends.  So I am not opposed to “having fun” in a wine kind of way, if you get what I’m saying.  But I am NOT putting any bags on my head, so don’t even think about it.

2. I have a super long list of things I want to get done so I don’t die of shame when strangers with granite counter tops walk into my humble abode.  I even typed it up so I could sort it in order of importance depending on which way the wind was blowing that morning, because I like to keep things fun around here and maybe tomorrow I’ll put something totally different at the top of the list.  Also writing things like “chip mortar off of fireplace” is a lot less annoying than actually chipping mortar off the fireplace, so that’s why it’s important to make lots of versions of the same lists.  Just to make sure you don’t have to do any real work.

Anyway, I was all excited to show Mr. E that I had figured out to class up the joint for $67 dollars even though it meant that a couple of the items on the list might involve stealing stuff from my neighbors’ back yard, and then I added up everything and those little numbers sure add up fast, don’t they! Regardless I haven’t got $785 dollars, so please be aware that my house might not be as cute as I really really wish it were and that I will be spending the next two months trolling Craigslist and having a nervous breakdown about it.  Also, please feel free to send me $785 dollars.

3.  The only thing I expect you to do when you are here is to  help me get back at my jerk face neighbors, who live directly behind me and who think it’s totally AWESOME to having screaming loud parties in their hot tub every Tuesday at 11 PM.  This is totally NOT awesome when you live directly behind them but that’s ok because Mr. E and I have masterminded a plan involving human poo and shooting holes in their hot tub and we just need a little bit of help from you all, so put that on the agenda.  Also, if you are really really loud and enjoy yelling in backyards at 11 PM on Tuesdays, you are totally getting the VIP invite to Escape to Sacramento.  Come on down!

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Black Flies by Shannon Burke

Black Flies is the fictional story of the 11 months that Ollie Cross spends as a medic in Harlem in the early nineties.  Ollie graduated from college intending to enter medical school with his girlfriend, but when he doesn’t get in, he becomes a medic in the hopes that this will increase his chances the next time he applies.

This was a lovely book.  Very different from anything I had read in a long time.  There were parts that were very very graphic, one or two scenes especially were things I’d like very much to not have in my brain for the rest of my life, but it wasn’t gory, and it wasn’t just a laundry list of disgustingness.  It comes across as very true to life, as actual things you would see on a day to day basis as an EMT in Harlem, regardless of the fact that some of those things are pretty disturbing.  And I think the intensity of those images were necessary in order to demonstrate just how extreme the life of a medic in a crime and poverty ridden city is, but just be forewarned, there’s some serious “ew” moments.

This book is a small thing, spare, and it took me a few pages to warm up to it, but a few chapters in and I was annoyed when I had to turn out the light at night and stop reading.  It’s a fabulously subtle glimpse into something I think is pretty universal – although it’s the story of a paramedic, it’s also the story of entering a world entirely foreign and how that world can change you in ways you never asked for or could have predicted.  I have this habit myself – of taking a job just to pay the rent and instead becoming fully immersed, not sure how to get out, or if I even want to.  This novel captured so well that feeling of becoming so much a part of something and not having the time to wonder if it’s the right thing to do, not having the time to care that your parents don’t think it’s what you should be doing or that the world would rather you be a doctor than a paramedic – you don’t have time to think of that.  You have to go to work.

Highly recommended unless rotten body parts and graphic descriptions of gun shot wounds are going to be too much for you to take.

Pancakes for Breakfast

First Dahlia

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Last Blueberries

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First Heirlooms

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Dream Job

Please be aware I had two mint juleps for dinner. I am fairly certain that I shouldn’t be writing any of this, but it’s there, and it’s got to come out.

Have I ever mentioned that a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I worked for a book wholesaler?  And I was 18 and 19 and 20 and 21 years old and I didn’t know, at all, what magic I had in this job, this lighting strike that I had stumbled across.  I started out counting stacks of paperbacks, doing inventory, and when I left I was an assistant buyer, self named, and I knew all the book reps and I had more advance copies in my bedroom than I could ever hope to read, and I gave talks on the new young adult books out that year, and at every instance I was surrounded by more books than I knew what to do with.  I read and read and read and I would have done that job for free, it was so so so the perfect job for me.

I did not at all appreciate this job at the time. I didn’t know it was THE ONE, that nothing would ever compare, and then I left and moved in with Mr. E and my interview with Borders did not go well and I needed to pay the rent and I became an office assistant and an office assistant I remained, until I became a mother.

I dream about that magic job every week.  Sometimes twice.  Like literally, I dream about it, and I’m not sure what that’s supposed to be telling me.

But lately some of the things I’ve been reading – Janssen and her new job and Maggie and her ideas about change have been making me wonder.

I feel like I’ve lost some friends because I’m “nothing more” than a stay at home mom, and I feel like I’ve lost respect for myself.  I try to remember that what I am doing right now is not the be all end all of things, but let’s be honest, being a mom? It’s not my dream job. It just sucks less than making copies.  If someone told me they’d pay me no more than what I needed to cover day care and I could read books all day? I’d take that job in a hot second. I might be raising the future generation and all of that hoo ha, but I am so not living my passion.

Sometimes people find out I’m a stay at home mom and they say highly inappropriate things like “thank god strangers aren’t raising your kids” and I feel embarrassed, embarrassed because it’s so ridiculously untrue to give me any kind of credit for it.  I’m only doing this because the jobs where you read all the books just don’t exist, and I don’t know what else to do.

And then Blogher happens and everyone talks about cliques or non cliques or how they’re just there to meet their friends and eat cheeseburgers, but I can’t fault anyone any of that.  The reality is that really, Blogher is 1,500 people all hoping to somehow someway get paid to write, at the core of it, and I can’t fault anyone who has figured that out already, or who’s even making a run at it.  They are farther along than I am, for certain.

At the end of the day I think back on the usual grind, the laundry and how many times I read “Hop on Pop” and I tell myself that I am so so so so lucky that I can stay home with my babeeee and sit in the sun for  half the day and blather on about my feeelings on the internet, but I can’t help it.  I feel like there’s so much more I should be doing with my life.  So much more.

Etsy Shop Update

I just put a bunch of oldies but goodies back in my Etsy store.  If you know any babies who need outfitting, check it out!

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I hope to have some new things ready to go in the next couple of weeks, assuming the weather and Senor Pants are both feeling cooperative, so keep your fingers crossed and your eyes out for another update down the road.

Methods of Coping

Remember the other day when we talked about cleaning the house and how much it sucks?  I have to admit that life was putting me in a phenomenally crabby mood, and then the sun had to turn on full blast and trap me in the house for days with an angry toddler and thus life gave me an excellent chance to, shall we say, “review” some of the methods I use to cope around these here crazy parts.  So I thought I’d share in case anyone else is also staring defeatedly at a pile of laundry the size of Texas.

1. No One Else is Going To Do It

Here is what happens to me.  I wait and wait for “someone else” to take out the recycling, or to put away the stacks of laundry, or to pick up those little scraps of trash that ALWAYS accumulate on the floor next to the trash can.  And guess what? No one else does that stuff.  Ever.  But when I come back to it and the trash isn’t emptied? I get really really mad.

It’s just easier and mentally healthier for me to say to myself “No one else is going to do it” and take the trash out myself.  And then it’s done and there’s no getting mad about it!

2. Hide Stuff

You’re going to laugh, but seriously, when I get fed up with picking up my husbands flip flops from the middle of the living room floor where he leaves them every single blasted day?  I hide them.  Or I tell Eli to hide them, which is even better, because then I don’t even know where they are.  This not only gives me a GREAT feeling of satisfaction, but it reminds certain people not to leave their mother grabbing flip flops on the living room floor every damn day of their lives.

3. Just Do it.

It turns out that when it comes to cleaning, I am not annoyed by mopping or vacuuming or washing windows.  Call me crazy, but I would rather do that stuff myself anyway because I like my version of clean better than “boy clean”.  What does annoy me to NO END is clutter.  Things leave Mr. E’s hands and are never thought of again. I spend ENDLESS hours picking up beer bottles and empty chip bowls and pairs of sunglasses and contact cases and pennies and bad sci fi novels and add that to the fact that Mr. E never ever ever ever puts away his own laundry and I was losing my mind.  Then I started just putting his laundry away myself, and aside from the fact that it makes me feel a little like I’m his mom and he’s 12, it seems to work out well. I am SO MUCH LESS annoyed at having to put away his laundry than I was by the endless towering and falling stacks of clothes lying around my bedroom.  As for the crap he strews around, we’re still working on a solution for that one.  I am thinking of buying an electric cattle prod.

4. Face Reality and Fix the Problem

When we first got Belle, the dog I love to hate, she would NOT STOP digging around the trash.  We yelled at her, we whacked her, we threw soda cans filled with pennies at her head, we sprayed her with water and vinegar, and none of it worked.

Then we bought a new trash can with a lid! And now she stays out of the trash.

5. Talk about it.

I told Mr. E the other day that I was so stressed out about money I felt like there was a constant weight on me…trying to make a lump cash sum last for a month for groceries SUCKS.  At least for me.  And so Mr. E, ie the best husband in the world, said that he would do it.  And so I hand over the grocery cash and a list and he goes to the store and I don’t have to worry about stretching our grocery dollar and whether or not we can afford the good butter.  And it works out nicely because he is MUCH better at saving money in the grocery store than I am, even if we do have seven kinds of chips in the kitchen right now.

6. Get lazy.

Honestly? I am not good about keeping the floors mopped, the windows washed, or the living room dusted. Sometimes my bathroom is kind of dirty. I clean the tub MAYBE twice a year.  And I just don’t care.  Those aren’t the things that really matter to me.  If my bed is made, my dining room table is cleared off,the laundry is put away, and my grass is mowed, I’m happy, so those are the things I focus on.  If the floors get a little dirty in the meantime, such is life.

7. Make a one thing to do list.

When I really get frazzled, I get out a piece of blank paper, and write just ONE THING I want to get done on it.  Nothing else goes on the list until that ONE THING is done, and it’s only when that first item is crossed off that the next thing goes on the  list.  This really helps me focus, and that one and only thing? It always gets done.  Sometimes when I have a list of nineteen things? NONE of it gets done.

8. Don’t assign meaning that isn’t there.

This is my hardest thing, it really is.  But the fact of the matter is that when Mr. E leaves beer cans on the counter or socks on the bedroom floor, he isn’t saying “You suck.”  He isn’t saying “I don’t care that you’re going to have clean this up” or “I think you’re my maid.”  We’ve had this conversation a million times, and the fact is that what I feel when he leaves those things on the floor doesn’t mean that he meant it that way.  He leaves things lying around because they leave his hands and he never thinks of them again, and he’s scatterbrained and messy and that’s just how he is.  He’s absolutely not trying to be a dick, and hard as it may be to realize this, it really doesn’t get either of us anywhere for me to take these things personally.  Even though I won’t lie, sometimes I still do.

9. Play a game.

Every morning I wake up and because I’m a huge nerd, I try to see if I can get the dishwasher emptied before the water finishes boiling for coffee. I have no idea why, but this helps make a job I hate (emptying the dishwasher) slightly less vile.  My mom and my brother used to have a piece of paper with times on it, stuck to the kitchen cabinet, and they’d try to beat their fastest cleaning up time from the night before, so maybe this is where I get my love of a good cleaning game.

10.  When all else fails, reward yourself with chocolate chips and Diet Coke.

No explanation necessary. Am I right?

A Day Late and A Dollar Short

Sunday was my anniversary – six years since the day Mr.E and I said I do.

And I thought and thought about what to say about this past year, about this man, about this life  I am so lucky to live, but whatever I could think of seemed gushy or insincere.  I thought about copying Maggie and posting some of our last ten years in pictures (did you know I once had platinum blond hair?) but sadly for you all, I don’t own a scanner.  Mostly I felt as though much of what I wanted to say is the same old same old:  Mr. E is the nicest person anyone has ever known (truly, he is).  He’s just like me in all the good ways and different from me in all the good ways.  He’s shockingly smart and he’s just the best best father there could ever be, and I cannot believe he chose me, I just can’t, but I just thought I’d say this:

When we got married, Mr. E and I refused to be married by a priest.  We wanted to have his brother ordained on the internet, and have him marry us.  My poor long suffering mother, the mother who smiled and nodded at the two thousand dollar dress and the ceremony on the prairie and who wrote check after check without a word, well.  My mother balked at the idea of us being married by the equivalent of a two bit fly by night salesman.  “The words,” she said.  “The words are so important.”

And so I gave her that one thing, and we did not write our own vows and we were not married by a minister from the Illinois Online Chapter of the Church of the Worthless Miracle.  Mr. E and I stood before a justice of the peace and six years and two days ago we said those words that millions upon millions have said before us and will say again, and promised in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, till death do us part, for as long as we both shall live.

And I give my mother so much credit, now, I really do, because the truth is I think of those words more than I ever thought I would.  In some strange way, they are always there, background noise, reminding me that this is forever, that there’s nothing nothing nothing that we will ever go through, good times or bad, that we won’t emerge from together.

We have had our share of bad times this year.  I am the first to remind myself that it’s all relative, and so many people have it so much worse, worse than we can imagine or dream of in our worst nightmares.  Ours are first world problems.  But this year isn’t the  one I’d point to and say “yeah, let’s do that one again”, let me just put it that way.

And yet, there is this, and it’s as simple a truth as I know.

When I was growing up, we lived in a very large very cheaply built house – the 1983 version of a McMansion.  Despite the fact that, at least in my memory, we were always sealed inside,even in summer, the walls were so thin that no matter where you were, when my father arrived home from work and drove into the garage, you could hear the garage door open all over the house, and the second I knew he was home, a feeling of dread rose from the pit in my stomach and lasted until the next time he was gone.

Once I moved away from home, moved away from that omnipresent dread, I always knew I’d never be able to live that life ever again.  That if a roommate or a partner or a friend made me feel that way, ever, even for a moment, I’d have to walk away.

I won’t lie.  There have been times this year, when I’ve been tired or cranky or sad, when Mr. E has made me so mad I could spit.  During the course of our marriage, I’ve walked out of rooms and houses and hung up on phone calls. I’ve sent the worst emails, I’ve yelled, I’ve been so hurt or frustrated I couldn’t speak.  I’ve woken in the middle of the night and wondered just how a person could breathe so incredibly loud and felt the sort of rightous anger only a sleep deprived mom ever really can know.

But there has never been a day, not one moment, not one time, not an instant, when I have ever felt anything but joy at Mr. E’s arrival home.  When he walks in the door, my day begins.  That’s when the fun starts.  The second he leaves in the morning,  I can’t wait to see him again at night.

I can’t imagine the dull shade of gray of a world without him in it.

I do so love that man, and I always will.

In sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and for as long as we both shall live.