Hiatus is a Good Word

I’ve thought about this little blog a lot lately. When I started writing here I needed an outlet for creativity and emotional venting. Also for pondering aloud. 

So much has happened to me since the summer. I said goodbye to daycare due to my kids outgrowing it. I got laid off of my 10-year cube job that I both hated and needed. I decided to sell off our rental house and therefore had to evict my friends who lived there. Then I broke my wrist in early October and am still in a cast. It’s a pretty purple colour but it prevents me from using my left arm very much and I happen to be left handed. 

Much soul searching ensued but not as much as when I was still a full time employee. I was neither sad nor happy about my sudden freedom. Mostly I wondered how I should feel, same as I have after many life events. Divorce springs to mind as one of the more discombobulating experiences that had a similar affect on my daily life. 

Luckily I hired a good lawyer and received a generous severance. Luckily I make money through our basement rental and luckily Husband’s biz is going like gangbusters. 

Yes I need to find a new vocation/focus/activity to keep me productive but until this arm cast comes off and the rental house is finally ready for sale I’m just helping Husband with his work, keeping the house functioning, and enjoying the lack of career expectations. I might work in a cube again if I have to, but only on a contract basis. It’s nice to have that as a fall back plan but I hope I never have to use it.

Meanwhile my midgets get older and I continue to encourage their independence. Boy is a moody 14 and is currently enduring ninth grade. Girl is a young lady, very social and industrious. We 3 are all still very close and I’m doing my level best to stay that way. 

Linked In immediately became irrelevant to my life. So did travel, to some extent. I no longer have a life I need to escape, and so my travel itch has diminished considerably. I’m fucking content, and that surprises me most of all. 

  

Making Lemonade

This summer was supposed to be our epic, legendary trek to London, Paris, and Reykjavik. However! We also decided, some time after that inital travel plan, to sell our rental property. To sell this property we need to have money for light renos and fluffing that are beyond regular staging. And we will need to carry that property until the sale closes, which will require patience and fortitude. And money.

This summer is the last one in which I can travel for an extended period of time with both of my midgets. Boy is 14 now, and is already at an age when I expected him to have a summer job. But, it’s all just shit talk until you are raising your own offspring. Next summer when he is 15, he will have a job earning minimum wage, keeping him occupied.

So what to do? Time is of the essence. I decided to use Airbnb to rent out our own living quarters, to raise some funds we can use to travel. I also scaled back our plans to make them more finanically reasonable but still adventurous. I tossed around many ideas, from a road trip in Canada or US, to flying somewhere on the west coast or east coast. Once you add plane travel, a trip gets a lot more expensive of course, but cheap accommodation can make up for that. 

I landed on a trip to Central America or the Caribbean. I found a wonderful rental, very close to the beach, in the Dominican Republic. All of us will fly down there for a 3-week stay, the same length of time we have renters in our own house. The flights are not outrageously priced, and the accommodations are cheap and cheerful. We are getting a little bit of adventure, a lot of relaxation, and all at a price that doesn’t stress me out. Our era of family travelling is going out with a bang.

Do you know who you are?

In the past year or so, I have been gradually gaining more and more free time. I don’t know what to do with myself because this amount of free time might be temporary.

My youngest turns 12 this weekend, and my other child is 14. We are entering the parental home stretch, and aside from helping with school projects, making food, and driving them places, they don’t need me very much (not physically, anyway). I strive to cultivate our common interests, just to keep a connection with them. But even these activities don’t take much work, especially when compared to 3 years ago.

I’m not the same person I used to be. Most of my free time was gobbled up with mundane tasks and I got used to that. As a result, my personal interests withered quite a bit or were modified to keep me at home minding children outside of school hours. I hardly ever leave the house anymore, except to walk the dogs, go to work, run a few errands, or have a meal in a restaurant. Very rarely do I head out just for the heck of it. I’m simply unused to having that option and I’ve been domesticated. I am also aging, and therefore have a lot less energy than I used to. (For example, I am hiring a gardener to dig up our tiny front lawn and replacing it with gravel.)

Some weekends whiz by with very little interaction with our offspring. Girl midget cleans her room, collects her allowance, and vanishes. Boy midget often has a group project to work on, or he is off playing games at friends’ houses. I spend a significant amount of time cleaning the inside and outside of our house, but its appearance doesn’t reflect that. One can rearrange only so much furniture and purge only so many belongings; I feel like I need most of the items that now reside in my home. But maybe I could do more, right after I have a glass of wine.

Maybe I need another project? I’m working on finding us a good house swap for Hanukkah this year. Nearly anywhere in Europe is cool with us, basically. We are looking for a cultural getaway, somewhere there are museums or sites to see and we don’t need to depend on a car. I also have to work on organizing our house because we have renters coming in August. That one’s boring, but very necessary.

Maybe this abundance of free time isn’t temporary? Dare I hope? Can I get back to being ‘myself’? Someone with varied interests and a busy calendar of activities for myself? Can I take on a big project without needing buy-in from the other people who live in my house?

I’m Super Grumpy. So effing what?

This morning I walked my dogs 3 kms, returned home, got ready for work and then rode my bike to work another 7.5 kms. (Don’t be too impressed. I still look all of my 44 years and not in a 44-is-the-new-34 sort of way) During my trudging, I listened to the Monday Morning pod cast, produced each week by Bill Burr. He is a grumpy comedian, my favourite kind. I’m reveling in my sour mood because I’m not at this moment able to do anything else about it. I might as well relax and accept what is.

I am also a big fan of Mom of 4 is Tired. It’s honest, funny, and relatable. And she is often grumpy too, or at least a little pessimistic about the state of her world. My sister in arms, basically.

Keep yourself entertained today and don’t think about the suffering in the world and all the children and animals who are in peril and how much your job sucks that you’re lucky to have, and how messy your house is, and how you have no idea what food to assemble for dinner because it’s all so overwhelming. And don’t think about how wonderful your kids are and marvel they turned out so well (so far) given how much neglect they have probably (but hopefully not) suffered because of your own depression and other shit.

Amy Schumer is another one to watch. Check out this little skit on pious dog owners.

 

I Need the Motivator from Wipeout

If I could get that installed at my house, I could better propel myself out the front door of my house.

My jobs in the morning are: let dogs out for a pee; take my pills; get midgets up out of bed (sure, they have alarm clocks, but that doesn’t mean they will heed them, so I’m their backup, their plan B); monitor the progress of the aforementioned midgets, offering solutions to problems such as forms that need to be signed, swimming stuff to find, and a distinct lack of socks all while keeping an eye on the clock; get myself ready for work, the effort of which varies depending on the dirtiness of my hair; feed dogs (because if I feed them as soon as I get out of bed, they wake me up earlier and earlier every day); kiss girl midget good-bye; take dogs for a walk; and go to work. Would I want my midgets to be more independent? I used to think Yes, but I’m glad to be included in their daily routines. This involvement keeps us connected.

I can (usually) get myself out of bed easily enough, and I crank some tunes via Songza to get my mood to a happy state. It’s the leaving of the house that presents a problem, one that would be solved by The Motivator. For now, the warmer weather is my metaphorical Motivator, and for now that’s good enough.

I’ve been riding my bike to work and that’s providing some joy. Always people wonder why I bike on busy streets instead of the bike path. The bike path is boring. The landscape is homogenous, the wind is formidable, and there are no flower shops, bakeries, or traffic lights to break up the windy monotony.

The warm weather has also quieted down the plaintive whining in my head that appears during the winter to wonder why in hell I live in such a cold climate. So there’s that.

It’s Barely Spring and I’m Thinking Summer

When you want your kids to have all the advantages afforded to them at their age, you have to be prepared to think ahead. For Summer soccer leagues, sign up is in March or April. When you want your child to attend Summer camp, you have to register in March or April too.

With just 8 weeks of summer here, the time gets filled up quickly. And yet? We still have to keep the kiddos occupied for the full 8 weeks while we adults are gone all day. This presents a challenge for many, because camps aren’t cheap. They aren’t even comparable to regular child care costs. Are camps and childcare worth it? Yes indeedy. But even if you can afford 6 weeks of camp (I’m making a big assumption here that most parents can afford to take 2 weeks off every summer but I could be wrong.), the camps fill up and might not be available. And if the camps are available, hopefully they occur on the same weeks as your child caregiver is taking holiday, otherwise you have to pay twice.

When your kid is under 10, they will pretty much attend any camp you drop them off at. It’s much more nerve-wracking for you than it is for them. Kids older than that seem to have opinions and preferences and put up resistance to attending camps that they deem boring/uninteresting or friends aren’t attending. Yes that’s right! You have to coordinate with other parents to make sure our darlings are in the same camps at the same time. Before you can coordinate, you have to find out phone numbers or email addresses using the least reliable courier service ever: your kids.

All of this to say – my summer is nearly already mapped out from the first week of April. During the weeks where there is no camp and no adult around, my midgets will be working at husband’s store part-time. Busy midgets are happy midgets.

Apparently there are limits!

When boy midget is 30, I will tell him that when he was 13 yrs old, I pulled a dastardly evil April Fool’s joke on him.

I’m quite the prankster on April 1, which means that by now everyone suspects me of pulling pranks that day and so I am unable to fool anyone. To get around that for this year, I laid the ground work early. I planted the seeds, if you will. I sprung upon boy a fake letter from a local catholic school (all boys, uniforms, etc.) that told him he would have to attend this September. Why is this dastardly? Because boy does not want to go to this school, and has his heart set on the local high school that all of his friends are attending.

I created a fake envelope too, and had boy retrieve it from our mailbox on Friday. Yesterday, Monday, I told him he needed to read it and then we would talk. I waited for the cries of protest and outrage but instead I saw tragic tears of despair. This behaviour continued all of last evening. This morning he and I briefly chatted some more about the letter, along with husband, and it became clear that boy barely slept last night because he was so upset about the school situation.

To preserve my credibility, I texted him midday today to tell him I had worked it all out and he would attend the high school he had wanted after all, and not to worry about it. His little heart leapt with joy and he immediately texted me back his relief.

I hadn’t realized the amount of power I have over my midgets. I didn’t expect him to believe this fake letter, or get so upset about it. I didn’t understand he hangs on my every word and depends on me to help him through life. The reason for my lack of understanding is because I feel like I tell my midgets what to do over and over, and see them do the exact opposite, or act as if I haven’t even spoken. It’s good to know my words penetrate and my actions make an impression.

Tomorrow morning is April Fool’s morning. I do have a joke planned.

Last year I voiced my goal of ridding our house completely of animal products, but I ended up not being able to complete this. I guess I could have, but that would have created a hostile environment and I would have to endure the dramatics of my midgets, for what? They eat animal stuff with their dad and their caregiver anyway.  As a result of this failed attempt, my midgets made sure to point out my failure to follow through. This April 1 they shall receive their comeuppance when I take a garbage bag and throw out all products from our shelves that contain anything derived from animals. I broached the subject this past weekend, telling them that because they pointed out this shortcoming, I decided they were right that I should follow through with my plans.  This was met with the expected melodramatic reactions. I’m expecting my daughter to behave like Mt. Vesuvius when I clear out the goldfish crackers…

Do This and Your Home (and therefore life) Will Be Perfect

But be careful not to be too perfect! Case in point: Article from Apartment Therapy.

Seriously?! Who goes around telling people not to be perfect. Now we have to worry about being too perfect?! Fuck and No. I have already been dealing with keeping the devil way down in the hole, the one that tells me I’m not good enough. Now I have an angel on my shoulder scolding me for being too perfect? HFS I can’t deal.

Lately I’ve been so effing tired. I feel like I’m trying to walk through the shallow end of a pool. Husband offered to lend me his brain for the weekend, but I don’t think I could handle having such an even temper. My creativity might be stifled. I’ve been drinking coffee, my personal Hail Mary, trying to get back up on top of my body. Currently, my head is laying on the ground and the rest of me is as inert as one might expect when one’s brain is repeating ‘Two Weeks’ like the costume Arnold Schwarzenegger wears in The Terminator.

This weekend I’m going to visit my parents, sister and her family, as well as my gramma who lives in a nursing home. My gramma used to be a beacon of light for me; she thought I was amazing no matter what I did. I suspect she still does, but at age 91 and after 2 strokes (that we know of), she can barely get the words out. My gramma was not a person to me while I was growing up; she was the physical embodiment of unconditional love. Too busy to listen to my silly stories and dreams? Never. Too busy to cuddle? Impossible. Too busy to notice what I like to eat, play with, and do? Ha, that’s ridiculous. It’s these memories that make her current state so difficult for me to get my brain around. Her latest antics in the nursing home make her seem like a virtual stranger to me. I’m not proud of that feeling, but there it is. I can’t even tell myself that I’m improving her life by visiting her. Sure, she knows who I am. She usually sits and looks at me. She has a raft of nurses, doctors, and attendants, plus my parents, tending to her physical and emotional needs, providing her with all the basics and then some. What does she need me for? She is trying (and sometimes failing) to comprehend what her life has become, I suspect.

Don’t worry, I will suck it up and continue to visit her, and I’ll thank myself for it later when she is gone. I’m nothing if not dutiful, and just in case I’m helping her in some way, it’s worth it for me to see her. Am I being too perfect though? I remember really resenting false politeness, and still do I suppose. I want people around me who WANT to be there, not because they think they HAVE to be there. Want to vs. Have to is a recurring theme for me. As the butt of many jokes in my family while growing up and well into adulthood, I recognize my role is essential. Someone has to be a foil for the hero, and that person is me. Mostly I don’t give a crap about this but when a family visit is imminent, I start to reflect a bit too much. Usually I keep all of that angst/pity under a thick coat of varnish. The problem is I’m no longer a kid, and I don’t suffer fools gladly. But I also don’t like to make waves if there is no accompanying progress. Plus my brain is tired these days. Family dynamics are fun!

 

 

How Grey’s Anatomy Sparks Conversations at My House

I have begun watching the series Grey’s Anatomy with my midgets. We have 11 delicious seasons to plough through, of which we have now finished 1. There is a lot of medical talk of course, surgeries of course, emergency rooms, various patients, and hospital situations. This show also follows the lives of the doctors, nurses, and interns who work at this fictional hospital in Seattle Washington. Luckily, it rains there a lot, which helps add a good dose of pathetic fallacy to the drama.

I have begun talking to my midgets about being doctors, and what sort of doctor they would like to be. Boy midget has pretty much already settled on computer engineering, but he’s still young so nothing is set in stone. Girl midget has said she doesn’t want to operate on people because of the blood and intense pressure, so she and I are talking about bloodless or relatively bloodless medical specialties such as osteopath, podiatrist, optometrist. This tv show makes it easy for me to bring up these subjects and subtly influence the paths of my midgets without them even realizing it. Pretty effing cool.

Because there are many subplots regarding the personal lives of the medical staff and patients, there are many adult situations being explored, such as marriage, infidelity, trust, in-sickness-and-in-health concepts, casual sex, unrequited love, power struggles, parenthood, and friendship. Recently on the show there is a married couple in which the wife had an affair, and so at home we have been talking about marriage vows, committment, and working through problems vs. getting a divorce. My midgets of course don’t understand that marriages have their ups and downs, and when a marriage is down, there has to be real effort to overcome the difficulties and carry on. And that sometimes, even after both partners have really tried to repair the relationship, this isn’t always possible and so they split up. I have recently related these plots to the story of their father and I splitting up. Now, I use broad strokes. I emphasize that he and I tried to keep our marriage alive, but we have fundamental differences that prevent us from having a productive happy lasting relationship. The midgets of course are surprised by this new information, but seem to listen attentively without judgement.

When my midgets were very young, it was important to me to keep them from seeing a bad example of marriage. To that I have added the task of actively showing them and talking about what makes up a good marriage. Whereas before I was protecting them, now I am teaching them.  I try to be as honest as possible about why the marriage with their father ended.  Perhaps I will be able to spare them from having to untangle that ball of yarn when they are adults and finding their way in their own adult relationships. Even in their teen years, when they start dating, I hope they can see what is healthy and workable within their relationships, and what is not.

Whodathunk tv would be so helpful?!

Get off your butt and go to work!

This post is singing my song. I take issue with the comment though, the holier-than-thou people who think society has created ‘lazy brats.’ I’m paraphrasing. I had no idea so many WWII war vets were still alive and commenting on the internet. You’d think from these comments that the current adult generation in their 20s and 30s are the first ones to be ‘pampered’ and accused of being ‘spoiled!’ Every generation thinks they have it rough. These days, getting a bachelor degree is the bare minimum to get any kind of decent/boring job. There are so many innovations, technological, social, cultural, that it’s difficult for anyone to stand out these days.

I like the post, and hate the comments.

Culture Monk

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by Kenneth Justice

It’s not FAIR Kenneth, I shouldn’t have to work at a boring job, I should be able to do something  that I enjoy” she said.

~ I was talking to a twenty-five year old young woman last week who complained to me about the perceived “injustice” of having to work a job she didn’t love. She believed that she has the “right” to work at a job she enjoys. Unfortunately, the various people I meet like this young woman (both men and women) tend to live off of their parents, many of them still live in their parent’s basement well into their thirties.

The reality of life is that most jobs aren’t that much fun. Digging ditches, working at a water sewage treatment facility, working for a garbage company, working in janitorial service, the list is virtually endless of dirty, smelly, nasty, and boring jobs.

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