From the Homeland

9 06 2008

*Written this past Saturday morning – didn’t have time to publish this on the road….

We are in Maine for my sister’s graduation – as I type we are in the hotel getting ready for the graduation party and Mr. E is napping. I just got off the phone with the deli owner and told her that I’M DONE!

So we were shopping in Freeport yesterday when I got a call from the department store where I had just interviewed on Thursday. It was to offer me the job! E. and I had already talked about what I would do if this happened, and whether or not I would want to wait and do my 2nd interview with the special needs school. I decided I didn’t – it just didn’t feel like the right place for me – and would have completely taken me out of subbing next fall – and would have been a really, really difficult job. I liked the people a lot at the store, and I really think I would feel proud to work for a 5th-generation family-owned store. So I took it. I struggled a bit about not giving the deli any notice, but I REALLY didn’t want to work there this coming week (I don’t start at the store until a week from Monday). Tuesday is E.’s birthday, and Thursday is out wedding anniversary. So I just told her I wouldn’t be back -and she seemed to take it ok. Yae!! Now my honey and I can have some time to ourselves and be able to celebrate her birthday the way we like – without work ruining it!

I’m happy about my new job – and happy to know that I can make some time next fall to start subbing.

*Added today*

I just stopped by the deli to pick up my last paycheck, and now am convinced THERE IS A GOD because I quit just before this heat wave.  I was drenched in sweat JUST STANDING THERE in the back for 15 minutes – everyone was running around with beads of sweat on their foreheads.  It seems the summer rush has finally arrived there – and I’m gone!  I do feel a tiny bit guilty for leaving her right now, but I spoke with her today and she seems happy for me, and understands that I need a full-time gig with benefits for us and the boy especially.

I am now a Master of Education – whatever that means.  My graduation yesterday was hot, sticky, and surreal.  I just can’t believe the classes I took and the work I did qualifies me for a Master’s, but it seems as though it does.  First Lady Diane Patrick spoke, and between her and another speaker there was much  talk about hope, both in the personal and the political sense.  I know I need some of both myself right now.

My sister, graduating third in her class, gave a speech at her graduation, and it was so great and made me so unbelievably proud.  It was good to have a weekend of celebration, hope, and time to sit and be inspired. Particularly at this time when my mom has had her 7th surgery this year, the most recent the result of incompetent medical professionals (she had to have emergency surgery because of an infection on Saturday that her doctor kept ignoring and downplaying, and almost didn’t make it to my graduation).  The depth of incompetence runs so deep and wide among her medical team that I know she has lost hope in anything changing.  I constantly struggle with living far away and not understanding every detail of the treatment process, and often feel like I should know the ins and outs so well that I could give her some advice.  But breast cancer is so deadly that it holds us hostage in our fear and doubt and we have nothing to rely on accept the doctors and their tenuous knowledge of it.  What are we to do?  We can barely deal with the diagnosis and treatment and the pain let alone figuring out what changes to make and how.  All this frustration and its. only. been. five. months.

Happiness:  I no longer work at the deli.  I have this week off.  My honey turns 30 tomorrow and we get to spend the day together.  I have the best wife in the WORLD.  I have the best son in the UNIVERSE.  I love my family so much.

I keep going, I keep going, I keep going.


More Prospects

3 06 2008

So I got a call today to go in for a 2nd interview for the Special Ed Aid position.  I’m excited, particularly because I’ll get to see the classrooms and get more of a feel for the place, the students and the teachers.  Since my first interview, E and I have had conversations about the fact that if I took this job, it would give me some more teaching experience to put on my resume, but would keep me from subbing in the local schools, which is a major way to get a teaching job.  Today I put in an application at a locally-owned department store to work in customer service.  I’ve never worked in retail, but I really like the store and it actually offers benefits like health insurance and vacation.  It also gives its workers a set schedule so I would be available at least one or two days to substitute teach next fall.  I’m trying to weigh the pros and cons of each, and it’s a tough task for me.  Perhaps I’ll know more after my 2nd interview on Thursday.  I am increasingly unhappy as a sandwich maker, and really hope to be out of there before I’m standing over a grill in July heat flipping burgers.  Yuk.

Mostly I’m really struggling with having a few options in front of me and worrying that I’ll make a wrong choice.  Or a great teaching job will come along and actually work out for me, and I would want to leave a job I just started (which, let’s be honest, I TOTALLY would).  In true A. form, I’m just really struggling with A) Transitions, and B) Uncertainty.  Thankfully my wife handles both with ease and excitement, and I love her for it.  Without her, I don’t know where I’d be with all this!

On a happy note of completion, I graduate this Sunday!!  I keep forgetting, since I finished classes in December and my practicum in April.  But I am!  I really am!!  And even though I think my school accepts everyone who applies and at times high school seemed easier, I’m still proud of my degree, damn it.

Wow – I blog while the boy sleeps – naps. friggen. rule.


27 05 2008

This past long weekend was one of those perfect stretches of days filled with great weather, fun activities, much-needed down-time, and good friends sharing good food. E. and I reconnected with old friends, spent time with brand new ones, gazed into the backyard fire, and even got in some beach time – Mr. E in tow. I was completely ecstatic when, when I said wistfully, “On a day like this, before Mr. E we would have planted ourselves on the beach all day…..” To which E. said “well, let’s bring him!” And that we did. And we sat in our beach chairs at high tide on a sunny day eating sandwiches while Mr. E sat in his stroller and played, then slept. I was in heaven. We live just 5 minutes from the beach – and we can still go!!! It wasn’t all day, but a couple hours was all I needed!

Tomorrow is my interview, so today marks the last day of the bubble of what you think a job will be before you interview and you meet the people and see the place and the bubble bursts. In my bubble I like the people and they like me, and when I start the job it is challenging but in a good way, and it is the right choice at the right time. We’ll see what reality brings.

For one more day I am off work and still high from the long, wonderful weekend. I suppose to even things out with my fellow sandwich-makers my boss put me on the schedule to work BOTH days next weekend. I’ll barely be out of church before I have to rush over there. I’ve come to hold Sundays sacred – both because they’ve stayed my day off and because we go to church and spend time with family. I didn’t realize the extent to which being scheduled to work the dreaded job this coming Sunday would upset me. I’m wishing more and more for this new job to work out…


20 05 2008

So, I’ve sent some resumes out for teaching openings for next fall, but no bites yet.  I continue to hate my current part-time job, and would love to do something full-time now that relates to my career.  The other night, E. and I were chatting with E.’s mom about a local residential treatment center for children in crisis.  E. looked them up online, and it turns out they have a Special Ed Aid opening.  Same money I’m making now, but 40 hours/week vs. 20.  I’m hesitant to take such a taxing and difficult job, but it would be a professional challenge to me and help me build some skills working with tough kids that I don’t currently have.  And it could be a great stepping stone to actually get into the schools here, which is proving to be as difficult as I thought it would.  I recently met with the principal of the local elementary school (just a networking meeting) and as she put it, “you just need a little bit more on your resume.”  She was thinking about me just getting any entry-level job in the local schools, but I have yet to see any openings at all.

So, I sent in my resume on Friday.  Yesterday (Monday), while taking Mr. E. for a walk on the bike trail, my phone rang, and I just had this feeling it was job-related.  I answered – and it was someone from the “tough kid” school asking for an interview.  We set it up for next week.  After getting off the phone, I was surprised just how excited I was to have an interview there – I’m not sure how much of it is just the fact that I have my first teaching-related interview, but nevertheless it feels good.

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.

Still Struggling

14 05 2008

Thanks to everyone for your kind words of support. It really helped. Since we’ve moved in with the in-laws E. and I are rarely in the house alone for a long stretch of time, so I think that has only made me hold things in more since I don’t really enjoy my in-laws hearing us argue or even just talk things out. Thankfully I can vent and sort things out to you all.

I’m struggling lately with some mama-guilt. Because of our schedules, I’m home with Mr. E. two full days and two mornings a week. I work Saturdays, and Sunday is the only day E. and I both have off together. Sunday is by far my FAVORITE day. The others – I’m not too keen on. I really don’t like being home alone with Mr. E. all day.

Enter Mama guilt. E. wishes she could be home with Mr. E full-time, but can’t. I’ve met so many moms who just love staying home – attending multiple mommy and baby groups, taking classes, going on walks, etc. I really just don’t like it. But I LOVE LOVE LOVE Mr. E, of course – which makes me slightly confused. Why does staying home with him bother me so much?

When E and I are home with him together, it’s a whole different story. We can take turns getting ready – when I’m home I wait for his morning nap to shower and get dressed. Eating is also more stressful – E pumps and leaves me bottles, and right now she is just keeping up with his demand. Sometimes when I drop him off she will want to feed him at around a certain time, so I stress out hoping he can wait and I won’t have to give him a bottle, therefore putting stress on E to then pump, which she would rather not do. I miss taking walks when I want to now that it’s nice out – Mr. E barely tolerates a stroller. I’ve tried going out to baby groups – Mr. E usually hates being in the car so he cries hard the whole time, and it just doesn’t feel worth it to me. Sometimes when I’m home and he’s fed, changed, tried to play, and is still cranky, I just don’t know what to do with him.

I feel so guilty about my feelings that I almost didn’t write this post. I fall more in love with Mr. E every day. I love that he can now smile and laugh and play, but I find myself longing for the days where he’ll have a nap schedule or can just tell me what he wants. I want to be able to drive somewhere without him crying so hard. I feel guilty about wanting to just go to work in the morning and come home to him at night – that feels enough to me – with the weekends to relax. I know in my head that there are other mothers out there who feel the same – I’ve met them – but some part of me just wants to understand why E. wants to badly to do the thing I just don’t like. I guess mothers, and parents, are just different. And they parent, and prefer parenting, in different ways.

I should be grateful that one of us does want to stay home, and hopefully someday that will be financially possible. In the meantime, thanks for listening.

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. 🙂