Remembering Myself

16 05 2008

Today E and Mr. E left for an overnight trip to the Valley, our home until a few weeks ago. I also happened to have today off. What did I do with myself?

First, some errands. I brought our kitty to the vet and then got a haircut. I thought I would be frugal in this time of sparsh incoming cash, so I went to the local $12 haircut chain. I should have learned my lesson last time I did this where we used to live – I got a very sub par haircut and I hated the fact that they didn’t blow dry my hair. The quality of this haircut was MUCH WORSE, and I didn’t realize it until I got home and looked at myself in the mirror. Lesson learned: when you’ve got the kind of hair where EVERY STRAND CAN BE SEEN, invest in a hairstylist. I’m done being cheap on this one, folks.

After that, it was off to the local espresso/coffee shop to sip a latte and work on some cover letters for three teaching job openings. It was nice to spend some time in a place reminiscent of the Valley – a few others on their computers who were there longer than I, and the sound of the espresso machine in the background. Music to my ears…

After sending off the applications, it was back home for a quick lunch and then off to do some badly-needed clothes shopping. I was down a personal shopper (that being E.) but I kept pretending she was right there beside me saying things like “Now, I know you wouldn’t normally wear this color, but just give it a try…….” It worked: shopping trip successful. I even managed to get a nice outfit that requires very warm weather and a nice restaurant. And perhaps a martini. (HINT HINT to E.)

My goal for the day was to end up at the nearest independent movie theatre to see this film. I had about 2 hours in between, so I decided to get something to eat. Trouble is – if you know the Cape, you know there aren’t too many quick eats to be found – and “cafes” are just really nice restaurants. To save time and effort, I decided to bring my book into a fairly nice place and eat in alone.

I’ve eaten at a restaurant alone before, but mostly it’s happened when I’ve been traveling for work and am in a city I’ve never been to, and there’s something comforting about being a completely anonymous solo-eater. This time, I was dining in the town next door, in an area where everyone knows everyone. I noticed I felt a bit more uneasy, but persisted in ordering a delectable salad (arugula, pear, toasted pine nuts and italian cheese) and happily read my book. It went fine.

In fact, it was while waiting for my salad where I read the chapter about not watching TV. The author talks about creating spaces of time where her children can play and create and just BE, and being relatively TV-free has helped her family do that. I flashed back to a few months ago (before Mr. E) where I would be consumed with reading and barely watched any TV. Thinking about it, it seems that E. and I also talked more then, without the lure of a blaring made-up story line in front of us. I remembered feeling peaceful. And happy. I remembered who I was – and I liked myself then.

I haven’t liked myself lately.

Since the Big Move we’ve worked so hard to get things going – my job, E’s job, making sure Mr. E is cared for. When I’ve made sure all that stuff is done, I’ve just been collapsing in front of the TV, just biding time until the next scheduled thing. Our off time has been mostly spent with family – which as been great, and as I reflect on the past few weeks it’s when I’ve been the happiest.

But I’ve let something slip a little, and tonight I caught a glimpse of it. I’ve let slip the little nooks and crannies of my daily life where I listen, where I imagine, where I get inspired. Instead I’ve pushed my “off” button and retreated into darkness. And that makes me a very sad person.

Tonight, as I killed a small bit of time before the film by parking my car at the beach, I gazed out at the ocean in awe that this beautiful place is our new home. That at any moment that vast bit of water that connects all on earth is a mere 5 minute drive away. A place that feels so secluded to me also feels so connected at the same time. Our new home.

Then I watched a film* based in Northampton, where E and I landed like pioneers knowing no one and set up a small loft downtown and had the time of our lives. As image and image of downtown and the surrounding farmland floated on the screen, I fell in love all over again with that place. That place where E is sleeping right now. She in our old home, I in our new.

I’ll always love that place – it’s like a first love that can never be replaced – so hot and raw and deep that it renders you speechless. But it is no longer my home. My home is where E and Mr. E and I can build our lives in the fullest way possible – and that is here.

Perhaps we are home, wherever we are, when we stop and remember ourselves. When we remember what feeds us, what challenges us, and what inspires us. And then, instead of turning away, we do that thing that we long to do but is too scary, or too risky, or too hard. We just do it.

And we are happy.

*ETA: I guess my link didn’t work – the film was “Young at Heart,” a documentary about a chorus made up of senior citizens who sing rock songs – I highly recommend it.


Aptly Named

9 05 2008

Since I haven’t posted anything on here since March, and it is now May, it might be obvious that I was thinking of abandoning my dear Fumbling. Indeed, I did abandon it, and you all (all 3 of you who actually read it), until now. What can I say for myself?

I was fumbling.

Fumbling around trying to just hang on with everything going on – finished up my student teaching and began staying at home with Mr. E. I had high hopes that I would post even more often once that change occurred, picturing myself cozily seated on the couch with Skeeter while the little lad slept the day through.

(All you stay-at-home moms can commence hysterical laughter now).

Uh, I was kinda busy. Like, CONSTANTLY busy and when he slept I GOT STUFF DONE because when he was awake he required ALL OF MY BEING. When I had a brake, I sat and gazed at the computer screen or TV.

Uh, I watch A LOT of TV now.

(All you stay-at-home-moms can commence your enthusiastic “uh-huhs” now).

Then, well, I just felt drained with the blog thing. Believe it or not, my life just felt too full to add blogging to it. Well, I guess that’s not quite true, since I’ve become somewhat of a F*ace*book addict, but I digress…

So, then came the BIG MOVE, which JUST HAD to occur right after my mom visited, which JUST HAD to occur right after her first chemo treatment, which she got sick from during her visit. In the midst of all our belongings packed up in boxes throughout the house. I thought she’d be there to help take care of Mr. E while we finished packing. Instead I had to take care of her. A lot. As in, had to drive to Maine to bring her home because she was sick. The DAY BEFORE our move.

We were both in a sh*tload of denial about that one.

So I was leaving a place I love, being a reluctant stay-at-home mom (more on that later I suppose), getting ready to give up having our own place, and dealing with my sick mom, who couldn’t even hold her grandson during her visit. It was all I could do to cope day-to-day and get everything done, and when I’m stressed like that I usually turn inward instead of outward.

I’m learning I need not to do this.

Same thing has been happening the past few days. We moved, and it was completely exhausting and stressful beyond belief, and until I started my summer job I was having a rough time with the lack of structure. Once I started having a place to go that was JUST MINE, even if it meant grilling up steak and cheeses, it was something. But the deli is VERY cliquish, with my co-workers 20 years older than me and native Cape Codders, and think nothing of making gay jokes right in front of me. They’ve never known anything different. They talk openly about going out on Saturdays together dancing at the local bar, without a thought to ask me (I wouldn’t go anyway). But we are of two different species: me, just washed ashore, young, queer, with my M.Ed and this deli gig just a stop on the way. Them: this is their life, period.

I just really, really want to teach.

I know it’s early, and I know it’ll happen for me eventually. But last night the faces of my kids from student teaching flashed before my eyes and I just cried. I miss them. I miss doing what I love. I CAN’T WAIT to do what I love. Sometimes it’s just hard.

Getting used to life in our new community has been both exciting and frustrating. It’s gorgeous here – things are blooming, and I LOVE our church. Even before we moved here I claimed it as my/our place to connect with this community and make our own friends. E. has lots of family, and her family has lots of friends, but as for us having our OWN friends, it comes down to nil. I thought the church community would be a great way to meet people. Last week we officially joined.

So did my mother-in-law.

Ok, I’ve REALLY tried to be open-minded and understanding about this. Obviously anyone can join or attend whatever church they wish. But I started attending this church last fall, and felt at home there. She recently learned we were joining, and wanted to join too. I think she likes it ok, but has attended just a couple of times. Let me explain. She’s the type of person that likes to join ANYTHING. There’s a famous family story that she once saw a huge line somewhere and got in it just to see what all the fuss was about. In short, she’s a JOINER.

Whatever. I can still make my own friends and get involved in my own way. But put all these things together, and I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. I found myself turning inward again, not wanting to deal with anyone, even E. Thankfully, my wife is quite observant and patient, and made me talk about it. I felt so much better. We decided that since we live with her parents, and don’t really have our own social network yet, we really have to make time for just us – either the three of us, or the two of us. I think that will really make a difference. I’m realizing I need to talk things out with her instead of retreating.

I’m also remembering I don’t do well with big transitions.

A similar experience happened when we moved to the Valley. I think I was mildly depressed for months (might have had to do with the fact that we were completely broke as well). But I’m just a stable gal – I like knowing what’s ahead – a loooong way ahead: where we live, where I work, etc. Being with E. has helped me relax a bit in this area in very healthy ways, but to some extent it’s just the way I am.

So perhaps this transition will be hard for me for some time. I think blogging about it might help, too.

Thanks for reading, whoever you 3 readers are. 🙂

Things I learned at 1am

19 02 2008

It’s official: I’ve entered into the land of insomnia. There’s no denying it anymore. With my acceptance of this horrible condition comes some ponderings:

1. As I’ve gotten older, I mind less and less being awake in the middle of the night. This has been multiplied tenfold by the fact that I now have an infant. I fear this does not bode well to trying to deal with insomia.

2. Since I do have an infant, and we now go to bed shortly after 8pm, waking up at 12:30am and turning on the TV to find my favorite shows (Conan, how I’ve missed thee!) makes me dreamingly remember my college days and makes me feel REALLY F-ING OLD.

3. Speaking of TV, some damn good television is on waaaay after I go to bed. For real. Why can’t the funniest, wackiest shows be on at say, 7pm? Hmmm, perhaps there is a correlation between hilarious, drug-referencing, outwardly-liberal late-night shows and the drunk, stoned college kids who make up most of their audience.

I used to be one of them.

So, to sum up, the lesson of tonight (er, this morning) is that not sleeping makes me nostalgic for college and gives me a renewed respect for Conan O’brien and Steve Colbert. I suppose it could be worse.

Now back to the show…

ETA: The quality of late-night TV severely plummets after 2am.  Grrr……..


18 01 2008

Ok, I don’t really have insomnia, but it’s 4am and I’ve been awake since the last feeding at 1am.  Things that go on that prevent me from sleeping when this happens:

– I get too cold

– I get too hot

– I have to repeatedly scratch an insessant itch on my left shoulder blade

– I have to pee

– I feel like I have no space in the bed

– I need a drink of water

– Every possible sleeping position I try just feels WRONG

– After being awake so long, I’m STARVING

– As I’m finally relaxing, E. starts to snore

Why does this periodically happen?  And the irony is that while I’m tossing and turning, Mr. E.  is snoozing away beside me.  Go figure.

Delayed Reaction

2 01 2008

My cousin visited the other day, a rare occasion although we live a mere 30 minutes apart, albeit separated by the vast but unmentionable class and racial geographic boundary of this area. She came to drop off some of her homemade fudge and a small gift, and I was excited to see her after so long. We grew up together – are the same age and share our birthdays, but as adults seem to have little in common.

While we were visiting, E. and I were telling her about our troubles with our cat, Mr. Lou. She immediately began talking about her own situation with her cats (ah yes, a quality of hers I’d forgotten about), and how one of her cats had died and she discovered it, freaked out, and her boyfriend took care of it. She looked at the two of us, and asked, “If you discover your cat dead, who will take care of it?” I think we disregarded the question with our plan of the next time he gets sick, we are taking him in to put him down (plus the fact that I’ve hardly EVER heard of this happening to people!). Thus, since we know his illness so well by now, we won’t let him suffer to the point of death.

Later on I’m vacuuming and whirling around the house like a tornado, when I cut he power, turn to E. and explode into a stream of curse words including “What the F was THAT about? What, does she think we are SHORT A MAN around here, or something??!!” Holy delayed reaction! I had been festering about that one, quietly, for a couple hours (and perhaps the pre-parent jitters also had something to do with my sensitivity level…). My cousin also made a couple uncomfortable comments during her brief visit that painfully reminded me that she is not “all there” with being completely ok with us – or me – at least not in the way I’m used to. Another one happened after she saw a framed newspaper article from when E. and I got married, just after the court ruling, and she remarked, “The subtitle saying ‘Lesbian’ is kind of weird – almost used in a derogatory way.” Um, it really isn’t – perhaps the derogatory use of the word came out of her own head onto the page.

What a weird reminder. I literally live in the bubble of supportive friends, family, bloggers – that I completely forgot how strange (and possibly wrong) my life is to some people. How lucky I am to only have this brutal reminder once in a great while? I know so many others have to walk around with daily shields of defense.

It also sadly confirmed for me our distance to one-another. She’s lived with her boyfriend and their now 4-year-old child forever, and I’ve met her boyfriend maybe once, and he barely spoke to me. How do I know how he feels about me? I don’t have the energy to care anymore. I’ll see her occasionally, but I just don’t have the space in my personal life to put up with judgments*, not if I can help it. I’m luckily surrounded by a gazillion supportive and loving people, thank-you very much. And I certainly DON’T need any of this around our child.

It’s such a bummer when those you love disappoint you.

*While we’re on the topic, if you are reading this and you are not queer, please refrain, when your queer friend is talking about his/her family, from asking “are they ok with you/your partner?” If you do, I hope that person asks back, “Yes, and are YOUR parents ok with YOU?”

ETA: Note to self: Use as a springboard for an angsty post about the “inner dad.”

My Year of No Life/Full Life

31 12 2007

2007. What a year. So many milestones, transitions, and multiple count-downs. But damn, I’m glad it’s over.

I started the year calling it my “year of no life,” as I signed up for full-time graduate school, attending 4 classes at a time on nights and weekends. It was a bit much at times, but I soon learned that I found THE BEST GRADUATE DEGREE ON EARTH, because, well, it wasn’t really that much work! (which led me to do some double-checking as to its credibility, which all checked out ok, but this recent scandal doesn’t help its reputation much). So I plowed through the excruciatingly boring and annoying 4-hour classes, and actually learned some things about teaching. All in all, it’s exactly what I wanted (thanks to E. who discovered the program!)

Career-wise, I spent the year knowing I would be leaving at the end, which is a really interesting mindset in which to go to work every day (and perhaps the longest notice I could give an employer!). I took that time to fully appreciate what I liked about this job in my 3 years here, and also solidified why I’m switching gears to go into teaching. Being able to volunteer regularly at an after-school program was such a blessing – to be able to connect with students and form a relationship with local schools.

I had the wonderful milestone of my 10-year high school reunion, and took a solo trip to my hometown to see close friends as well as classmates I hadn’t seen in the full 10 years. It was an amazing experience to re-connect with these people who shared a great 4 years together (we have some intense school pride), and it felt really cool in a growing-up-come-full-circle kinda way.

Then came the news in May that forever changed our lives, that our 2+ years of trying for project baby ACTUALLY WORKED. I think I was in shock for the first few months, and then I let it sink in how extremely happy I was to finally create our family. It also started to sink in how much our lives are about to change, and leaving 2007 means leaving the “just the 2 of us” portion of our lives together (6 years). It’s a big change, but one we are both so ready for, and going into it we know our incredible bond will get us through all the midnight crying, the dirty diapers, and the years of watching in awe as our child grows up into his/her own person.

Perhaps because of all these huge life changes, I also spent some introspective time thinking more about community, connecting and giving to others, and my own spirituality. This is still in process, of course, but one thing I discovered is a deep connection to a church on the Cape where we’ll be moving next June, which seems like it will be a starting point for all three needs.

Moving! Right! 2007 also brought with it the BIG DECISION to move closer to E.’s family, perhaps the first decision in my life which feels completely grounded in this visceral need to be connected to family and to provide that for our child(ren). In other words, I feel SO FREAK’IN GROWN UP. And that is a WHOLE LOT about what 2007 meant for me. BIG transitions, BIG decisions, and BIG growth.

There was a year that E. and I coin the “nothing” year. When we count back to try to remember something and we hit this year (2002), our minds just go blank. We figured out it’s because in that year we didn’t move, switch jobs, or make any BIG decisions. We just were. Day in, day out, just lived. I’m sure that 2007 will be just the opposite, a very BIG year that laid the groundwork for the whopper 2008 promises to be, what with arrival of BABY, the BIG MOVE, and work transitions abound.

Bring it on.

Wishing you new inspiration, hope and promise of a fantastic new year.

I love you, job that allows me to get my coursework done…

11 12 2007

The perfect constellation* of nearing the end of my job and nearing vacation has afforded me ample time to wrap-up my thesis, as well as get some other papers polished and printed. Yae for chill jobs! I CAN’T IMAGINE doing this program while teaching, let alone while having a newborn at home. Again – a perfect constellation of timing, and for that I am so grateful.

Because of all this productivity for school, I’m awarding myself evenings filled with reading, which makes me so, so happy. Recent favs include Middlesex and Catcher in the Rye, the latter being part of my quest to read classics I somehow overlooked while in school, which after reading this realized that’s the exact moment these kind of books should be read. It was alright, but reading gave me the sense of needing to stop in certain sections and have a class discussion on some deeper meaning I was most likely missing. Ah well, I guess I can at least appreciate it for its shocking and “banned-book” status.

Right now I’m in the middle of Eat, Pray, Love, which is a bit of a challenge for me because it’s a memoir, and I’m a bit more into narrative at this point. But the author is witty and interesting, which are required traits for writers of memoirs. It also helps that she writes about food, spirituality and finding oneself, all topics I’m into. A bonus is that I learned that my bestest bud, who lives across the pond, is currently reading it as well, and I can’t wait to discuss certain parts of the book with her, one of our favorite activities.

I’m happy. My scrooge-like fog has lifted, which I think was a combination of PMS (damn, those mood swings keep happening EVERY MONTH!) and the fact that this string of life-changing events is finally about to be tied in its nice, neat little bow. Even a month ago, when the mountain of work on my thesis lay before me, and I had weeks (now 11 days!) of work left, and the holidays had to be dealt with – the string was a mess and I looked at it with disgust. Then I picked it up, organized the hell out of it, and began to tie. First the big loop, then around with the other end and through the whole. Within the next few weeks I’ll be done with my job, done with school, starting to student-teach, and the baby will soon be with us, and two bows will be tied together so pretty and neat and snug.

It’s been a long time com’in, but now it’s here.

*The first time I published this post, I realized I had written “constipation,” a word which I swear I have no idea why my mind told my fingers to type.