July 27, 2011

8 years and it feels so good

Yesterday was my 8th wedding anniversary. Since we’re so new here, there was no chance at all of going out on our own, so we improvised a date night in. After the children were in bed, Kurt made delicious cedar plank salmon on the grill followed by a chocolate mousse dessert that I made all by myself from scratch. (Did I mention I made it? From scratch? Because I did.)

I usually put some effort into anniversaries and other special days, but this year I was just tired and I definitely fell short of my usual mark, not even getting Kurt a card. I did put on some make-up, made a nice dessert (from scratch!) and had the kids washed and in bed relatively early. My darling husband, though, brought home a present, a wonderful present. He got me a muddler.

In case you don’t know what this is, you’re not alone. I briefly thought it was some sort of stress-relief device, meant for bashing on things (though hopefully not people) until you feel better. In a way, that’s exactly right; it’s a heavy wooden mini-baseball bat looking thing you use to crush up the limes and mint in the glass for mohitos.

As many mohitos as it takes.

Didn’t I say he was darling? I love Kurt and I LOVE MY MUDDLER. The name says it all, really. After a long day of children, chores, heat and discovering someone hit your car in the parking lot (yup!) there’s nothing a woman needs more than some good... muddling.

Happy anniversary, sweetheart.

July 22, 2011

Would you like some cheese with that?

Alright, it's that time again-- ALREADY! Get your hats and your noise makers, confetti and, most importantly, a generously filled glass of wine. Welcome to my pity party.

When I picked up the kids this morning from the Y child care, Anna saw me and burst into tears. She tried not to, bless her, but it just spilled over her wobbling chin and tight eyes and then she was a weeping mess in my arms (I'll mention here that also in my arms were two bags, my purse, water bottle and Jack). I couldn't figure out what had happened until she finally burbled that she was just SAD.

We hugged it out, oblivious to the scene we were making, and then I herded the gang out to the lobby to get settled. As I left, another mom with a passle of kids asked me, "Is she okay?". I told her we'd just moved here from Colorado and sometimes Anna has these little storms (just like her mama) but she'd be fine.

"Colorado? We moved from New Hampshire. Do you hate it." It was a statement, not a question. Do you hate it, obviously. Of course you do, asking is just a gesture. I stuttered something, sort of taken aback at her bluntness. She nodded her head stiffly and left, just like that.

In the car going home, I found myself really fighting back tears. One, because yeah, why lie? At this point, I hate it. I really do. I'm making the best of it. There are good things here and there's LOTS to do in every possible direction. The YMCA is about two minutes from the house and the kids love it and I get a good break. The figs are good (harvest time in the backyard, if you want some figs come on over. I dare ya!). Sure, it's hot as hell, the water smells funny and is wrecking havoc with our laundry, skin and hair. I can get lost (and have, many times) trying to go to the mall right down the street.

I can make it work. I can not think about it too much and it's all fine. The seasons will change (or so I'm told), I'll find my way around and we'll have a water softener to keep my hair from falling out so much. I may be bald by then, but probably it'll grow back. I will keep my head up and, eventually, we'll get there.

This lady though; so matter-of-fact, so grim. She just reminded me... it's not home and I don't LIKE it here.


Mostly though, and this might sound strange considering the basically unpleasant nature of the exchange, she made me miss my friends, with a deep, breath-snatching ache. I almost followed her out to her car to beg for a playdate of likeminded commiseration. Alternately, I also really wanted to go meet a good girlfriend for coffee and gab about The Wacky Lady at the Y. I wanted some kind of interaction to follow it up and I got... nothing. No one to go meet, no guts to stalk people in the parking lot. Just me, three kids and another day hiding inside against the smothering, sticky heat.

Normally I'd try and find some sort of neatly hopeful thought to wrap this up, but today, I'm just going to let it be. It's MY party and I'll whine if I want to. Probably I'll wine, too. With figs on the side.

July 15, 2011

Starbucks, redux

I first wrote this post 4 years ago but it remains one of those truisms about my life that just don't fade. There's something so comforting about a place that, regardless of where in time or space you are, is always exactly the same. Creepy, sure. But comforting. I finally located a drive-thru that's not impossibly far from my house (though it's not terribly convenient, either). Starbucks, I heart thee.

(side note: I was going through a very bad time when I first posted this, so take the depression with a grain or three of salt. I'm not lovin' it here for sure... but I'm not falling apart. I gots me some good meds, I tell ya!)

July 6th, 2007-- Why I go to Starbucks

Inside my life, it's a mess. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, psychologically... basically any "-ly" you can get, I've managed to trash it up a little.

In the literal sense, there's my car. Anna's car seat is full of crumbs, crackers, raisins, sand and an ever-so-faint leftover smell of vomit. Silvia's has dried spit-up on the straps; well, actually, on everything. There are dirty blankets, old shoes, burp clothes, Kleenex, baby carriers, old crackers, grass, science experiment sippy cups, and on and on and on.

It's a dumpster on wheels.

And that's just my car. Apply that image to my mind, my closet, the playroom, my relationships, and you'll start to get a better idea of the chaos that is me.

I don't want to be a mess. I try not to be, I really do. Sometimes I even manage to keep it all together. But even on the good days, I'm having trouble. I seem to be spending a lot of time doubting myself, my fitness as a mother, a wife and a friend. I try to laugh it off, shake myself and just get through the day, but a fine web of cracks has broken through my armor. I've never been all that tough, you see, and lately I feel about as formidable as a feather.

I keep trying to figure out why this is so hard. Other people do what I do, and more, every day and they seem to keep it together just fine. That line of thinking always leads me down a path I would love to never see again, a path that I can't seem to get off. Maybe I can't do this because I'm weak, I'm less than all the other people that are just fine, I'm flawed in a way that they are not.

Because every time I start to feel like I've gotten on top of my life, within days or even just hours, I fall backwards, breathless and out of control, feeling lost and a little more helpless than the time before.

This week it started with a gray fog, settling down over my vision, muting colors, blurring priorities, numbing emotions. How it's possible to look out at a summer day, full of life and heat and color, and see only dry wind and brown grass, I don't know. But that's exactly what my sight has been limited to.

Then every time the girls would cry, I'd flinch a little, then everything I hadn't done that I needed to do started to become, instead of just a list in my head, a physical obstacle that I could not walk around.

So what did I do? Well, as always, I turned first to Kurt. He's my center, he keeps me grounded, brings me back when I feel like I've gone too far away. We're trying to get through this together and I'm absolutely convinced that I'd have to be locked up if it wasn't for him.

But then, after a reality-check and (yes, I'll admit it) an ego-boost from my rock of a husband, I did the next best thing. I went to Starbucks.

I know it sounds stupid. "Starbucks? That makes you feel better? Seriously?"

But here's how it works. Internally, I'm all messed up, I'm chaotic and stormy and inconsistent. I look through the glass into that little coffee shop that sits on every corner of every town across the country. It's the same, wherever you go. Warm, inviting earth tones envelope the people inside. They sit in big comfy chairs or around small bistro tables, relaxed and contained, sipping from white cups filled with poise and culture and intellectual thought.

Usually I'm just hitting the drive-thru, looking into that enlightened atmosphere from the confines of disorder and confusion that is my car. The girls might be crying and I've got "Twinkle Little Star" playing on a constant loop. The barista (see, she's not even just the sales girl, she's a barista!) hands me my drink through the window with a smile, and with it she hands a little bit of what's inside.

It is a promise land of everything I lack. Peace, uniformity, cerebral stimulation all packaged neatly up as a frothy hot beverage. I sip, close my eyes, feeling the heat from the coffee course down into my body. It's not just espresso and milk, it's fortification against the haze that clouds my vision.

I know it's all just a lie...but it's a really good, convincing lie and I'll take it.

July 12, 2011

Home... at last?

I think making any big change in life is a lot like pregnancy. When you first find out, you’re excited and nervous. The whole thing seems like it’s moving so slowly, leaving you antsy and slightly nauseated all at the same time. After awhile though, you just start to get tired of even thinking about it—how your day to day life is about to completely scatter, all your relationships are about to twist and even some dissolve. The places you go will change, they ease with which you get around will be a thing of the past. Your laundry will double and your clothes won’t fit. Who knows what your hair will look like, especially after it all starts falling out.

Eventually, everyone asking, “So, how’s it going? Are you ready?", starts to annoy you to the point of mild violence. Of course you’re ready! You’re SO READY! Let’s get this train rollin’, dammit! The last couple weeks are absolute torture. Excitement, fear, sadness, more nausea... it’s all a sickening soup of hormones and adrenyline, rolling around in your belly.

Then it happens. Suddenly, with a great wrench of body and mind, your whole world becomes new. You’re so happy, so exhausted and infinitely proud of your strength.

Three days later, you wish you were sitting in your old familiar coffee shop, freshly showered, maybe a swipe of subtle mascara and blush warming your face, relaxed over a new book—ALL BY YOURSELF. What were you thinking? What the HELL just happened?! A week ago we arrived in Dallas after a day and a half of driving in every escalating heat. We’d been staying in a hotel for nearly two weeks before we left and just getting out of there was a relief. The good-bye’s were behind us and a world of potential before us. We arrived at our new address, hopeful.

But these things never are easy or predictable. The house was a mess, dirty from top to bottom and infused with the lingering smells of curry and dog. Over the course of the next three days, with many false starts, we managed to have it cleaned enough to move in. After my first grocery trip, I tried to set up the GPS to get me back to the house (side note: Our GPS is named Amy and we’ve fondly adopted her as a member of the family). It was hot, it had been hot from the moment we arrived, it never stopped being hot. I started to cry, pushing over and over again on the screen button, “Go Home”.


Now, a week later, we are moved in. The kids sleep easily in their beds at night, Jack has taken back to his crib like a fish to water after a drought. Our kitchen is unpacked. We have peanut butter and jelly sandwichs on hand and I can easily navigate to the store in case we run out.

After that initial period of shock when you have a baby, most of the time, it gets easier everyday. Yeah, everything is different, so different you could never have prepared no matter how much you tried. But over time, a rhythm evolves. You find a new way of being and doing.

Moving here, I’m starting to find a rhythm. It’s only been a week, one long miserable week. I’m still crying at weird things, like not having a bookshelf (the movers sent it to storage by accident) and the way Jack’s room is blue but it’s not the RIGHT blue that matches his bedding and pictures.

I can see a time, soon, where things will feel better. We will join the Y and get our library cards and go to the Aquarium. I’m finally going to bake some cookies in the new kitchen and see what cooking at altitude is like. Maybe I’ll make a new friend. Maybe someday it won’t always be so damn hot.

Okay, that’s probably a little too much to ask for at this point. Thinking it’ll cool off in a Dallas summer is a lot like pulling out your old jeans when your baby is a few weeks old and expecting them to fit. Some things, no matter how hard you try (and squeeze and hold your breath), just take time.