Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The fates, you should not tempt them...

Remember how I said it could be worse? Apparently, the fates took that as an engraved invitation to deliver a crappy week my way. A run down:

1) An employee on my staff's nephew OD'd last Monday. This meant that...

1a) I had to do her job on top of mine. Not a big deal, usually, except that we were already really short staffed.

2) My step-grandmother ended up in ICU on life support, suddenly and unexpectedly. Which meant that...

2a) I got to watch her die on Friday night. This was not a good thing at all and, in my opinion, should be illegal (the watching someone die part). But she was surrounded by people that love her, and that is a good death.

2b) The Trolls experienced their first wake. The Monkey is not a fan. It was very difficult for him. The Nugget, on the other hand, was a trooper and sat right by his Papa.

3) I got news that the nugget did not pass his FCAT, ergo did not pass third grade. He sobbed. It broke my heart. It's for the best, really, because he just wasn't ready for fourth grade (as much as he thinks he is).

4) Apparently, I blew through a red light on Mother's Day and the Pasco County Sheriff's department were very happy to collect my $158. I got the ticket on Saturday. The curse of Mother's Day continues...

5) The Boyfriend™ and I got into a tiff. It was by no means our worst fight, but it was enough to send me over the edge.

6) Our washing machine broke.

7) Our dishwasher does not actually wash dishes. It just bakes on food detritus and water film. Which means that...

7a) I have to wash all the dishes by hand.

OK Universe. I get it. It can and will get worse. I have had my quota of worse. And bad. And suck. And horrifying. And annoying. And crap. And blah. I will gladly accept good, and fun, and wholesome and loving and everything is awesome with the world. Yeah, I'll take plenty of that.

I'm off to Opp, Alabama today to lay the grandmother to rest. Opp has about 6500 souls and is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it town in the middle of some backwoods. I'm hoping for some good photography moments, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm also going to be stuck in a car for eight hours with my errant sister, whose behavior makes tattooing the side of my face look tame in comparison.

So, Universe? We're even. I'll take that goodness now.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I told you - NO WIRE HANGERS!

There are a few blogs I subscribe to for inspiration, aspiration, laughter, tips, tricks and ideas. I love these women bloggers and can not wait to grow up and be like them.

One blogger, in particular, Amanda Blake Soule is an amazing woman. At least on blog. She makes it a point not to put her family not-goodness on line, choosing to use her blog space to chronicle all the wonder that is her life with her family on their homestead. The good stuff looks really darn good, if I do say so myself. And she and her husband, Steve, seem to have a symbiosis that is rather breathtaking in its honesty and simplicity.

Here's the thing: As much as I admire Amanda and all that she stands for; as much as I want to be her and have that kind of magic mothering instinct, I'm just not wired that way. I am not the kind of mother who can let her children leave scraps of paper all over the place (though I do it). I am not the kind of mother that gently explains the ins and outs of life, or coddles the sick or injured.

In my house, unless you're dying, broken or on fire, you better not be crying about an injury.

I am not the kind of mother who humors children's interruptions. In my house, I will very un-politely tell the child to shut up and find something else to do, because grown ups are talking.

I never was a co-sleeping kind of mom, either. Past the age of three, The Trolls were far too old to spend a night in my bed.

I bottle fed, used disposable diapers and let The Nugget fall asleep in his high chair (more often than I care to admit). Both my boys were c-sections.

I tried flash cards and labeling everything in the house, but I just didn't have the patience to keep teaching a toddler how to read. The Nugget didn't learn to tie his shoes until he was seven.

I swear, I yell, I spank. I don't make The Trolls brush their teeth all the time. I let them leave their room a mess, and only sporadically enforce other chores.

I refused to vaccinate The Trolls until they were school age and I had to (because I couldn't claim religious exemption, what with my not going to church and all). I usually make them eat organically, except for candy. And the sweet tea. And occasional adventures at Dunkin Donuts.

I ship them up to Massachusetts every summer so I can get a break (all the while, my heart breaking until they are safely home with me), where their Loli will feed them anything and everything they want.

We have date night, and prayers and books. We snuggle - all four of us - in bed just about every night. I mostly make them do homework, and we have family dinners just about every night. There are no video games or TV during the week.

So, while I am not perfect and will never be SouleMama, I do my best. My kids seem pretty OK, for now. But just in case, I already have therapy funds set up for them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why yes. Yes, I DO kiss my mother with this mouth.

Not that you can tell most of the time, but I was raised with manners. I know which fork to use with which course, and I know how to set a table. When out to eat, I usually remember to keep my elbows off of the table. I know that you're never supposed to talk about money, religion and politics in mixed company. I know when you're supposed to stop wearing white (and when you can start again). I know that when invited over for a dinner party, you should always bring a bottle of wine and/or a dish to share (and you're never supposed to bring the leftovers home with you). I might not make Miss Manners proud, but my mom's pretty happy with the way I turned out.

Except when it comes to thank you letters.

I don't know what it is about writing a thank you letter that makes me so bad at it. Maybe it's the forced politeness. Maybe it's because I never have postage stamps or good stationary. Or maybe it's my flaky nature that makes me inclined to forget things easily. Whatever it is, it's usually months after I receive a gift that I get around to sending the letter.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I'm not grateful. As a rule, I'm phenomenally grateful for the gift and the thought, and gush to anyone who will listen about the awesomeness that I received. I just forget to gush to the giver of the gift.

So, I know it doesn't technically count, but here are my thank you letters:

Uncle Brion:

You have no idea how grateful I am for your presence in my life. You keep me young with every box you send. Your generosity speaks volumes about your selflessness. Because, seriously? You send your 34 year old niece a Christmas gift and birthday gift, without fail, every year. You even remember to include gifts for The Trolls -- one of whom you've never laid eyes on. In short: you're awesome in ways that I can't even begin to describe.

I suck at thank you letters (as I'm sure you've noticed but have never pointed out). But don't let that be a tell. Those boxes mean the world to me. Actually, it's not the boxes -- you could send an empty box and I would be grateful (but please don't. You have the best taste in gifts. See? I'm awful!). It's the love that's in there. It's the thoughtfulness. It's the support and the belief you have in me. Please know that I feel all of that for you, too.

So thank you for being indulgent. Thank you for being tolerant. Thank you for everything.

Much Love,


Every day that I still have you in my life is a day I'm thankful for. You have taught me so much and been so supportive. You haven't always liked all of my choices, but you've been there, right behind me, every step of the way. You are my anchor. Thank you for YOU because YOU is an awesome thing and because you get me, I don't even need to finish this sentence in any coherent way.

And thank you for the birthday cashola. I know I cashed that check quickly, but wasn't so quick to get the thank you letter out. It's because I suck at thank you letters. That isn't a reflection on how you raised me -- because you did a good job. I'm just a space cadet (I blame Dad).

Also, thank you for not doing the near-death routine that Dottie's been pulling. I know you're 83 now and are officially at the age you promised me you'd live to. But if it isn't too much trouble, could you hang around for another couple years? I'm not ready to let you go. I don't think I'll ever be ready to let you go (what's a ship without an anchor?). So, I guess you're just going to have to live forever. But you're superwoman; living forever shouldn't be too hard for you.

I'll be home for a visit soon. I'm going to squeeze you. I'm also going to take pictures of you. And I'm going to spend endless amounts of time telling you how much you mean to me and how damn grateful I am for you. Make sure you have extra batteries for your hearing aids. You have fair warning.

Love 'til bursting,

Dorothy Ann:

Woman, you better quit with the near death shit. Yes, I know you're my grandmother and I shouldn't use the word "shit" in your presence, but if you can start swearing then so can I. I also know that I shouldn't start any letter to you with "woman." That was rude of me and I apologize.

But seriously, you can stop with the almost-dying. You aren't allowed to die. You are allowed to not be in pain, and if you have to die in order to not be in pain anymore, then we'll have to figure out a different way to keep you from being in pain. But if you are going to die, you need to wait until I can get back home and squeeze you. And take lots of pictures of you. And listen to your life story.

I want you to know how much you mean to me and how much I love you. I suck at being a long-distance granddaughter, which is why you always had to come and pick me up. Every-other-weekend, you'd make that awful drive to pick me up and bring me back to your house and feed me breakfast in bed. Until I was seventeen. Actually, no. I was eighteen. You didn't get mad when I wet your bed when I was five; you just flipped the mattress and said "accidents happen." You didn't get grossed out when I puked all over your bedroom floor because I'd had too many Halloween cookies. You just got me in the bath and cleaned up the mess.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that you've always supported me. You've always understood me -- in ways that few other people on this planet do. You kept me safe and made sure that I felt loved. 

So, hang in there you stubborn old thing. I'll be home soon for a visit. You better take an extra percoset, because there will be squeezing. And I'm not going to let you kick me out at 7 PM. You're just going to have to be a night owl.

Love you to the moon and back,

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Insert long suffering sigh here

So I had every intention of hanging out in the studio all day. Then The History Channel sucked me in. This is why TV is bad.

I also had every intention of cleaning today, since our house is in that lovely half-way-packed stage that makes people inclined to live like slobs. Between our room and The Trolls' room, we're starting to look like an episode of Horders.

The fact that I keep making television references ought to tell you that I've been watching entirely too much TV lately.

Speaking of cinematic badness, don't see Dark Shadows. I was absolutely champing at the bit to go see this movie. It's Tim Burton! It's Johnny Depp in a Tim Burton movie! I love Tim Burton with a love so fierce that it must rival Helena Bonham Carter's. I settled in to my too small movie theater chair, with my large tub of popcorn, The Boyfriend™ by my side, prepared to be wowed. I left disappointed. Actually, I left the theater more than disappointed; I left feeling let down.

So it's a weekend action packed full of let down. Which, I suppose, is the nature of the life. I mean, not all the time. But some of the time we're all going to be let down.

The cleaning didn't get done.

I eventually got into the studio, but felt no creative compulsion (I blame Tim Burton).

Dark Shadows left so much to be desired that I want the two hours of my life that I spent watching that tripe back.

It's insanely hot right now, and the air conditioner unit in my car is broken.

Monday is the day-after-tomorrow, and I have to go back to my day job.

In the grand scheme of things, my list of let downs isn't so bad. And I guess that's the point of this whole blog: it could be worse. It could be a lot worse. I'm grateful that it isn't. The house will get cleaned. I'll have another creative stint that will rival Picasso. The weather will cool back down; and shortly after Monday is another Friday that I can look forward to.

... I don't know if Tim Burton can recover from the travesty of a movie he created, but I remain ever hopeful.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Day

I don't celebrate Mothers Day anymore. I used to, but that was before the trolls decided that getting badly hurt on Mothers Day was going to be a tradition. So, for their protection, I pretend the day doesn't exist. Sort of.


I certainly use the day as excuse to be lazy and take a nap, which is what I did. But I NEEDED a nap. I worked a trade show in south Carolina that was equally exhausting and terrifying. I had no idea people thought talking about killing people as if it were as every day a thing as grocery shopping was a GOOD thing. Apparently, that's how they roll up there. And to that I say, "you wonder why sane people want to take away your guns."

The trip up there, by car, was long and draining. I love me some road trip action, but this dude seriously tested the limits of my love for them. He was a poor conversationalist at best; we had to listen to his bubblegum pop practically the whole way, and I couldn't smoke. I still lit up, but it was mostly out of a mix between desperation and boredom: the dude would not stop for anything other than gas or near-to-bursting bladders. Which sucked, because I really wanted to take some photos. Apparently, people dig my art and the universe is sending me messages about the need to make more badass art. But that wasn't going to happen on this trip.


I also needed a nap because I was really bummed about my gram. I called to wish her a happy mothers day and found out that she had just gotten out of the hospital, where she had spent a week doing another round of battles with congestive heart failure, esophageal spasms and tarsal issues in her foot. AND I HAD NO IDEA. It sucks being so far away from my family. It sucks not being able to contribute more than a phone call here or there. These were the women who raised me, and I feel like I'm letting them down.

Which is why it's so damn Important to on the ball with this book and art thing. My gram especially has always said I needed to write books; my nana always encouraged my art. These are some smart women, and while it's mildly self-serving to agree with them on this topic, I should probably listen to them. They know stuff.

So while it will be smack dab in the middle of the move to the new house, I need to get up for a good visit with my family. I don't have much time left, and I need to strike while the iron is hot. I want to take pictures and hear their stories. I want to absorb as much of them as possible. I want the trolls to know these women who are so important a part of their lives.

And on that note: I wish all of you a glorious mothers day. One that is filled with love and memories and lots and lots of kid art (which is the best kind). I wish you happy phone calls. I wish you healthy children. I wish you dreams come true.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

These days...

I am...

trying very hard to stick to 5:40 AM wake up calls to get into a yoga routine.

Packing a LOT of boxes.

Hating Florida weather, which is...

Reminding me how much I want to be back home now.

Pretending the monkey isn't going to be a teenager soon.

Finding my center again and holding on as fiercely as I can.

Thinking about a career change.

Planning for that career change.

Wishing I had more studio time, but appreciating that right now I need to focus on the tasks at hand.

Finding hearts in the strangest places and being reminded that the universe sends messages of its infinite love all the time.

What are you up to these days?