Archive for June, 2011
After an exhaustive, entirely unscientific study consisting of Being Married and Putting On My Blogging Cap, I have concluded that there are exactly two kinds of people who live in homes.
House People and Not House People.
I devour posts on Houzz, have a subscription to This Old House magazine, and when the new IKEA catalog is released I have been known to disappear with it, a bottle of wine, a few candles, and express Do Not Disturb instructions unless the house is not only on fire, but being invaded by rabid chipmunks dressed as ninjas.
For several months my husband refused to enter the store that rhymes with Foam Weepo after the Great!Door!Debacle!, aka The Home Improvement Nightmare That Shall Not Be Named.
I’ll give you the briefest of moments to determine just who in this relationship is a House Person.
So, as we have gone on this
fustercluck adventure known as Buying A House From 900 Miles Away, we’ve had just a few differing opinions on homes. He would, ideally, love a home that is turn-key ready and has a troupe of magical gnomes to manage upkeep. While I’m not going to argue the total AWESOMENESS of home gnomes, I’m not fazed by home improvements. What can I say, I likes me some power tools.
Of the four places we’ve lived as a married couple, two were apartments and two were brand new builds. Yes, fifteen years into wedded bliss, and we’re just now buying a pre-existing home. It’s been a learning experience. For example, a home inspection may indicate some rather…hm, how to say…SWEETBABYJESUSWITHANAILGUN issues that just don’t crop up on a new build walkthrough. There are a few more OHMYFREAKINGGODHOWDIDTHEPREVIOUSOWNERSOVERLOOKTHIS deferred maintenance situations. And, of course, you can’t forget the heart-stopping OHMYGODWHATTHEHELLHAVEWEDONE reaction to a three page home inspection summary.
I believe I will have plenty of opportunity to flex some small DIY muscles in the next few years.
My poor husband.
Perhaps I should find him a home gnome for our anniversary.
If you’ve taken any kind of health class, you’ve heard of the fight or flight response. It’s the reaction to an outside stressor; you either do battle with what’s threatening you, or you run like hell. If outside stressors are chronic, the body can’t handle it and it begins to break down in various ways. This happened to me; I used to joke in college that I didn’t need to exercise because I just stressed everything off. Sure paying for that now.
I’d like to posit a third response. Freeze. Do battle, run like hell, or just stop dead and not move. Unable to decide what to do or how to do it or in what order or when or if it’s even necessary or if I’d be any good at it or if it even matters please pass the wine. Paralysis by analysis. I’m really good at this one. Primo good. First chair, top of the heap, Queen of the Hill, eat my dust, take no prisoners, bow.to.me good. As you can imagine, this is not healthy.
So many things to do, so many decisions to make, so many options to consider…so I just shut down. And waste time doing mindless things, just scratching the surface of my life. I’ve ridden this rock around the sun nearly 38 times and I feel like I’ve lost my last dozen spins. I have only myself to blame, no one else is living this life o’ mine.
My danger response of choice, Freeze, is wreaking havoc on me these days. Combined with the unholy stress of moving a family and 14 years of Colorado living across country, I’m really feeling it. I am frozen, looking to the future and into the past, but unable to move. Unable to appreciate the now. Trying to make plans for the future, but frozen. I need someone with ice melt or a blowtorch to amble by and melt me enough to crack the rest of the way through. I’m tired of being frozen. It hurts in every way imaginable. It’s time to melt, choose a path, and stick to it.
Fight. Flight. Freeze.
What do you think?
I’m not entirely sure how to say this. Bear with me.
I think I might be bored.
I know! I’m shocked speechless too! How is it possible to be overwhelmed to the point of hyperventilating and still bored to tears? Maybe it’s not boredom, maybe it’s just the unfamiliar sensation of being responsible for absolutely no one and nothing and no place to be and nothing urgent to do. A fine line between that and boredom, methinks.
No, I’m not at the House of Chaos, how did you guess? I’m 900 miles away, visiting my parents in Chicago and buying a house. And after the mass chaos of 1) taking a crack of crazy flight to get here 2) looking at houses 3) making an offer and negotiating back and forth 4) completing all paperwork and getting it back to my realtor 5) realizing I needed my checkbook and that it was a timezone away and remedying the situation 6) scheduling the inspection for Monday morning…I sat down and suddenly…
Unsettling feeling, that. Rather, I had nothing that needed doing. Sure, there are blog posts I could write, and those 15k photos on my hard drive aren’t going to sort themselves, and I have a book in the other room, but… Instead I’m having the laziest of lazy Sundays. I can’t remember the last time I was in this situation. Before children, certainly. Even on vacation there’s someplace to go and something to do. Our big venture today was out to the grocery store because we were out of tonic water. Forgot the limes. At least I come by that sort of thing honestly, it’s truly in my DNA.
It is a breathtaking day in Chicago; a friend on Facebook called it a Bottle Day. The kind of day you wish you could bottle up to crack open in mid-February. I’m switching off between the deck (in the sun and next to a rather loud El line) and lazing in front of the open deck door. My dad is cooking something involving large amounts of garlic. A gin and tonic is in my immediate future. Ah…bliss.
‘Tis the calm before the storm. I get home Wednesday morning and then it’s a violent flurry of activity until we finally find ourselves four weeks from now plopped into a new house surrounded by boxes holding everything we own. I kid not about the violent flurry: one birthday, one anniversary, two business trips, two house closings in two different states, one going away party/4th of July fireworksapalooza, and one Black Hills road trip enroute to the new abode. Hold me.
But today…today is calm bliss. The sweet silence of my sons 900 miles away. The warm aroma of garlic in olive oil, soon to be in me. And the crisp tang of a June gin and tonic on a perfect Chicago Bottle Day.
It’s a lazy Sunday that I truly needed, and won’t see again any time soon.
I have a restless mind. I know this, I dislike this, I barely accept this. I have a hard time concentrating simply because I’m always thinking of the thing that needs to be done next, or something I should be doing, or something that isn’t getting done, or just flat-out going brain-numb from mental exhaustion. I always have 33% of my brain focused at the boys, even when they’re not nearby; it’s Mom Radar, I can’t turn it off. Mental chatter clutters up my thoughts; that inner voice telling me it’s not good enough, that inner voice telling me I’m on the wrong life path, that inner voice screwing with my mind.
It didn’t used to be this way. Long ago, before marriage and kids and the piling-on of responsibilities (yes, this would be labeled college), I could focus for hours at a time. Solitary flute practice made the hours just melt away. Flow. It relaxed and filled my soul. Not just making music and being alone and deep, controlled breathing, but sustained concentration. The very sustained concentration I no longer have the luxury of enjoying, and is oftentimes mentally distressing. I discovered that last week when I had jury duty; I couldn’t mentally check out and by the time I was finally released I was exhausted.
But. I discovered last night that I still have the ability to sustain focus for long periods of time and it was delicious.
Last night, a dear friend and I decided at the very last minute to travel into Denver to hear Krishna Das and sing kirtan. We had promised each other that when Krisha Das returned to the area that we would go, no matter what. Finding out he was in Denver 2 hours before the concert? Well, I’m glad she gently prodded me out of my not-terribly-spontaneous state of mind.
The two and a half hours flew by. I haven’t felt that kind of Flow in years. Singing, feeling, moving with the music, being the music. It was trance-like, the best part of Flow. And my restless mind…rested. Breathed in the moment. Floated on the music. I didn’t want it to end. The peace in my mind, in my body, in my soul…it had been too long.
I’ll sing kirtan again, soon I hope. Krishna Das will be in Chicago on Thursday, and so will I. Trying to figure out a way to justify going again, if only to feel that peace once more.
But now I have proof that my restless mind can relax, that it is not damaged beyond repair by daily stressors, and that I really do need to make this a higher priority in my life.
I fear this summer will go down in family history as The Most Boring Summer of All Time. Not for me, but the boys. I feel horrible about that. No summer camps, no classes, no excursions. I have to say no to going to the children’s museum, the movies, the mini-golf because we don’t want to spend money right before a move. We have to keep the house immaculate (even now, because we still have to get through an inspection and appraisal). My mind is a hundred different places, I’d rather eat glass than grease myself into a swimsuit, and most of their friends have plans so there are very few impromptu play dates. Mid-June and we all have cabin fever.
Thirty-one Flavors of Mom Guilt and not one flavor is edible. When does the Mom Guilt end? Ever? I need to work, but I want to spend time with them. I need to spend time with them, but I want to work. I want to go out and do stuff with the boys, but in all painful honesty, after three months of parenting without a break, I’m also rather tired of them. I feel guilty about damned near everything right now, for no discernable reason.
I’m just tired. More than ready for a change. And desperate for the 31 Flavors of Mom Guilt to end.
comments closed. i’m fully aware that i’m whining. and that i should be grateful. and that this is truly a First World Problem. doesn’t make the guilt go away.
It’s true, it’s something I’ve known for a long time, and I think I may finally have proof.
Murphy lets his little Law poop on my lawn and doesn’t clean it up.
I’ve recognized for some time that Murphy’s Law runs rampant here at the House of Chaos, but he had been gone for awhile. I naively thought Murphy and his Law had finally left the house, never to return. Nope.
Tom moved home on Saturday. We had a signed contract for the house Monday night. Three months I struggled as a mostly-single-mom; he’s home 72 hours and BAM! the house is sold.
Wait, did I bury the lead?
THE HOUSE IS UNDER CONTRACT!
I shall say nothing further than that, as Dr. Google is healthy and well, and my full name is connected to this blog in a few places on the interwebz and I really don’t care to jank this all up.
So we have quite a few things to accomplish before the scheduled closing date of 22 July. It all hit me yesterday, and when I made an offhand comment about that on Facebook, was gently chided for not being more excited that the house finally sold. Um, I’m over the moon that the house is under contract, but let’s take a brief look at all that needs to be done before we haul ass east at the end of July.
- Inspection, appraisal, and massive amounts of paperwork related to the CO house.
- Tom has two business trips in the next five weeks.
- Somehow we need to get the two of us to Chicago to find and make an offer on a house, as the one we truly wanted is no longer available.
- Somehow I need to find someone to watch the boys here for a few days so we can go to Chicago, because we just can’t afford four plane tickets right now.
- Inspection, appraisal, and massive amounts of paperwork related to an IL house.
- Must pack up the house in an order that gets things out of here, but doesn’t have us cooking with sticks over the gas fireplace for three weeks.
- The boys aren’t in any summer activities, camps, entertainments whatsoever. Their friends are. Thus they are each others’ entertainment, and scuffles ensue. I’d also like to apologize to future teachers, as they are watching a great deal of TV. In my defense, it’s Beakman’s World, Mythbusters, and Rocky and Bullwinkle.
- I’m doing freelance writing that is getting further and further behind.
- I’ve applied for a job in Chicago that I reallyreally would like to have, and the aforementioned writing would help me land that position…which would start in about 10 days.
- A 15th wedding anniversary.
- A seventh birthday and sweetbabyjesuswithfrosting I have to plan a party.
- A going away party/3rd of July fireworksapalooza.
- The boys need back-to-school doctor appointments before we leave. (Dude. The doctor’s office just called to set up those appointments. Wow. Two minds, single thought.)
- Gathering necessary paperwork and hoops to register the boys for school out there. And proof that a certain fifth grader should be in the gifted program, despite what appears to be a delightful underachiever.
There’s more, but I’m starting to hyperventilate. Doesn’t help that pollen is now flying about with abandon and A and I are snot-filled buckets of misery.
So there ya have it. We are finally, finally moving forward. I will attempt to be more optimistic and positive and happy about the whole experience, as that will make everything a lot easier.
Sweet Home Chicago. Here we come.
When I was in fourth and fifth grade, I was part of a pull-out program for advanced students. Looking back, it was what passed as a gifted program, but it was the 80s and pretty progressive for the times. There were about a dozen of us or so, and for the most part we were in the same classes until we graduated. I say for the most part because I hit the mathematics wall in sixth grade and only remained in advanced classes for language arts. Damn you, fractions!
But I digress. As usual.
These were no ordinary pull-out classes. One year we did an in-depth study of advertising. To this day I subconsciously recognize how advertisers try to manipulate me into purchasing their wares, and I’m pretty immune. Except Apple products. Then I want to go lick the electronics and tell them I’d do anything for them. Anything.
The second year was an in-depth study of law. Yes, in fifth grade, not kidding. We studied famous cases, wrote case studies (seriously, I’m not kidding), and after a field trip to observe court proceedings, did a complete mock trial. In many ways I’m still recovering from that experience. I was playing two different witnesses for the trial, and being cross-examined by strong-willed and exceedingly talented lawyer-in-training friends left a mark.
This is all a long way to mention that I survived jury duty yesterday.
Fourteen years I’ve lived in this state, and four (FOUR!!) weeks before I move away my number comes up. The irony is not lost on me. So I hauled butt up to the district courthouse, nearly an hour away, and mentally prepared myself for the tedium of sitting in a room for an entire summer day. I’d heard stories about sitting around, you never get called, you go home. So I was ready. I had reading material, a fully charged iPhone AND charging cords, work to do, and mental preparedness. Um, the stories I’d heard? Were from happy jury duty land.
Signed in, watched a video on what to expect from jury service, learned I was suddenly juror number four, and marched into the courtroom. There was no waiting around being bored. There was sitting in the jury box being questioned. For roughly five hours. And because I was juror number four and I had no reasonable reason to be excused, my chances of being dismissed were slim to none. Oh, how I envied the other 50 or so possible jurors sitting out in the audience.
I have no problem being called for jury duty; the timing on this was just bad. Plus, I have enough stress in my life without ruling on a criminal domestic violence case. Don’t need those nightmares. Selfish? Perhaps.
Once the lawyers finished questioning us, replacing some, questioning them, replacing more, questioning them (this is where it gets mind-numbingly boring…and you can’t mentally check out) and finally getting their paperwork in order, they had to bring the 25 possible jurors in the jury box down to 13. They each got six to toss without needing to give a reason. After a morning of mentally preparing myself to write off the week and have to see disturbing images to make a judgment, hearing Juror number Four, you may leave just about had me doing handsprings out of the courtroom.
My fifth grade law experience served me well. I was quite familiar with the defense attorney’s personality, having grown up with many young men like him, as well as being interrogated by them during that mock trial. I also had the joy of taking his question and through a very honest answer, derailing his point and having the judge call for counsel to his bench. Heh. By being very heartfelt and honest with my answers to the prosecution, as well as making the defense attorney look like a horse’s ass, I was the first juror the defense tossed.
You just never know how an interesting educational experience will affect someone’s life some thirty-odd years later.
I may have a sick kid today (ok, yesterday…writing is taking me forever lately), I may have an unrelenting stress headache threatening to hang me by my entrails, and I may have been ordered to report for jury duty first thing Monday morning, but I’m a stylish blogger.
The lovely Kate from Kate Arms-Roberts sent this my way *mumble*three weeks ago*mumble…I’m sorry! It’s been 31 Flavors of Craziness around here, I tell you! I’m especially pickled tink because A) Kate is a writer and B) she called me funny. I stand by the belief I shared with Carmen yesterday that I laugh to keep from screaming, and if X is the worst thing that happens to me today I’m in good shape. Sometimes I even believe that.
So, rules rules rules. Ooh! Maybe I should break the rules! Then I could casually mention on Monday morning that I’m rule-breaker and the attorneys really don’t want me on a jury. No? Wouldn’t work? Crap. Ok, fine.
By accepting the Stylish Blogger Award, I am obligated to reveal seven
previously unknown dark and dirty thingsrandom things about myself, and then send this on its way to five other bloggers I believe to be workin’ it. The aforementioned five bloggers are hereby released from doing anything with this award unless they so desire, and forgiveness is provided in advance if they go three weeks before acknowledging it. Everyone involved accepts that these are bloggers I think are too sexy for their blogs and/or I deeply envy their writing. Good? Good.
1. I’m a heavy sleeper. No, even more of a heavy sleeper than you/your spouse/your great auntie Mildred, who is a family legend. I once slept through a tornado. While in a tent.
2. I’m not afraid of heights, but God help me if I can see there’s nothing under my feet. Bridges, overpasses, the St. Louis Arch, stairs with nothing between them…I enter meditative breathing and close my eyes if possible. Flying is something else, I just pretend to be a superhero. Or something.
3. Making a peanut butter sandwich on two heels of gluten free bread was a mistake. Bleh.
Agh. Two more? I’ve been blogging for five years, is there anything random or unknown about me by this point?
4. Going into college I was planning to major in special education, with a focus in deaf education. I changed it to music at summer orientation. Fast forward twenty years. I barely touch my flute and am easing into writing as a profession.
5. I’m going to break the rules anyway. I can’t narrow my peeps down to five, so I’m skipping the
pick your favorite child list of bloggers part of the pageant. Instead I will take those minutes and go try to scare up something more edible for lunch.
Tonight the love of my life returns home to stay and I hope we’ll dispose of the homestead quickly so we can return to Illinois posthaste.
Gentle readers, if you happen to have a 10 year old child who does not suffer from executive function issues, count yourself extremely lucky. Go buy a damned lottery ticket. I envy you in a way that is not healthy, not polite, and is likely breaking at least one commandment. I have finally decided that executive function is the bane of the household, and if this one thing could be resolved, perhaps we’d all breathe easier.
So, Jen, enlighten us. What is executive function? The best description I’ve found is on LDOnline. It’s basically the CEO of the brain. It manages planning, organization, learning from your experiences/mistakes, inhibition of impulses, stopping to choose an appropriate response…basically everything that is missing in my particular 2e son.
One guess how well this goes over with that boy’s mother. When people have to use one word to describe me, it’s usually organized. The Container Store is heaven for me, and get out of my way if you’re between me and my labeler. So just imagine what it’s like around the House of Chaos most days.
Now imagine a house on the market and the mom over-the-edge-insane with keeping an immaculate house for showings.
Now imagine the dad gone for nearly 4 months, working in a different state (hand to GOD I don’t know how I’m doing this).
Now imagine it’s summer freaking vacation, there is no schedule, there is NOTHING planned (because we were supposed to be in IL by now), just imagine what it’s like around here.
Instead of this:
We have this:
A certain son who shall not be named but is easily guessed took our sweet Rosie on a walk. He took her on the playground equipment. He yanked on her leash. And ripped two toenails off her back paw. All because of no internal recognition of cause and effect. All Ready-Fire-Aim. Hell, forget even the “ready.”
THAT is what is has been like around here. The entire situation is best described by my dog wearing the Cone of Shame.
There have been more and more incidents of the brain’s CEO out to lunch, and a three martini lunch at that. How do you train an immature, growing, asynchronous twice-exceptional brain in executive function before the mother of the brain’s owner goes off the deep end? We’re staring down the barrel of puberty here, and JesusRollerbladingChrist I can’t deal with hormones on top of a drunk CEO in the brain.
I own two highly-recommended books on executive function. I’ve owned them for a long time. And, like fully one-third of the rest of my household, they are currently in storage. I’m sure Smart but Scattered would help immensely around here, as well as Late, Lost, and Unprepared.
I’m at a loss. Something has to give. The boy is on the verge of getting out of control…and yet, not. He and his brother have been in detailed imaginative play all afternoon. It’s possible the problem lies mostly with me, but…he interrupts. He’s bossy. He’s often disrespectful. It takes more energy to get him to do chores than to do them myself. He doesn’t think. He…eh, I could go on and on, but what’s the point of that?
If you have executive function success stories, or advice for me (provided you actually live this), I’m all ears.