Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Goodbye 2012 (and Good Riddance)

First, of course, a caveat.  Overall 2012 was a fine year for our family.  We are all healthy.  The older boys are useful members of society doing good work and paying their own rent all year.  The pumpkin is a smart, funny, challenging person who makes every day brighter than it could ever have been without him.  (C'mon when your child was originally known as "Oops" you have to look at the big picture all the time.) 

Having acknowledged the overall, big picture, okayness of 2012, I can now express my own thoughts re the end of this miserable year.  (Tell us what you really think Lauren.)  I have never been so delighted to wake up to a new number on the calendar.  I have been under some kind of crazy dark cloud since July and I am so glad this miserable year is over.  A short recap:

Early July, writing a grocery list to make some fabulous lobster rolls made by Bobby Flay, minding my own business, thinking about cooking something great for my family... eating something delicious and leftover that I can no longer recall specifically... out of the blue a molar broke in half.  Agony.  4th of July and the dentist was closed... Not a tragedy really but two weeks of incessant tooth pain.  Just a crown not a root canal.  I am a big baby about the dentist and it was two weeks.

At the end of the tooth thing I went to Connecticut to visit Jamie and the family.  Great visit.  Much fun had by all.  Very excellent food including lobster twice.  Decandent and fun.  And when I got home I dropped my 48 pound suitcase onto my sandaled foot.  Screeched a very bad word in public.  Hobbled to my car crying.  Went to the ER the next day and was told I had a "classic corner fracture" and put into some wierd cast with inflatable supports.  Hobbled and sweated around for ten days.  Went for the follow up and discovered that the actual radiologist (not the PA) did not see a fracture at all and instead of masses of narcotic pain releavers I should have been having a nice anti-inflammatory and my tennis shoes.  Very releived to be rid of the cast but that was 10 days of fairly wretched pain when I was supposed to be getting ready for vacation...

End of August, annual trip to the Shenendoah River (second time but that still makes it annual).  Our friends the Judys and the Rogers went with us.  Three cabins.  Three families.  Lots of kids and water and dogs.  Super fun.  Except on day two (the first full day) I took the two girl children (my neice Kennedy and my neighbor Kate - both nine) tubing.  One of my favorite outdoor activities.  After all, you sit back in the sun sipping beer and being lazily transported down the river by the current.  That's a sport I can get behind. 

Due to some major miscalculations on the part of me and Prince Charming (caused in large part by a map that didn't actually include our location) what was meant to be a three hour float turned into a ten hour trip long after dark with very frightened childrend who were way too cold.  The sheriff tried to find us and at one point we could see them behind us on the bluff.  Eventually we floated into our camp at 10:45 p.m.  Cold, tired, hungry, but completely safe.  We actually pulled in about two hours earlier than the sherrif expected because I spent the last six hours of the trip "paddling."  Paddling in an oversized tube without paddles involved hanging over the tube with my head underwater and backstroking.  It moved us a lot quicker.  I don't normally exercise.  At all.  To say I was sore would be a vast understatement.  Beyond that there was an emotional toll associated with this.  We were fine.  But we could so easily not have been.  My neice asked me constantly if we were really going to get back to the camp.  I kept telling her that me and God and Uncle Mike were not going to let her die on that river but I don't think she believed me.  It was scary and I was totally responsible for two little girls.  I'm still carrying some emotional baggage from this one.

September, October, November all good.  Great Thanksgiving with Mike's Dad and Stepmom here.  Kennedy stayed the week after Thanksgiving because she was off-track (year round school) and she wanted to go to Great Wolf Lodge with us the following Sunday.  She went to work with me every day and is known in the office as the "miracle child" because she was so well behaved while she was there.

Great Wolf was the usual good time.  Kennedy had never been before and we all had fun.  On the drive home we got in a horrible car accident.  We were not hurt.  The motorcyclist who rear-ended us was badly injured and is facing a very long recovery.  My car was totaled.  I had an Expedition.  A guy on a motorcycle ruined it with his body and his bike.  He lost one leg below the knee, broke both his hips, and one of his arms.  He is my age.  I could hardly manage the pain of some dental work and backstroking.  I cannot imagine the physical and mental resources needed for this man to recover.  We were in our car while the passerby (including an off-duty police officer who actually had and knew how to use a tourniquet - the like reason the man survived) and eventually the paramedics worked on him.  When he was taken away there was a large puddle of blood left behind.  The kids saw all of this.  We're all still dealing with this.  What we have to deal with is so much less than the man who hit us but it is still, for me, nearly overwhelming.  Still, I have a plan for some professional help (I'm very lucky to have a neighbor who can direct me to good resources) and I am somewhat excited about some upcoming sewing projects.  I got a much-longed for quilting frame for Christmas.  I have a super fabulous new Expedition (I had planned to downsize my car when I got a new one but in the end I just wasn't comfortable in anything else I drove).

On to 2013.  Hopefully the black cloud has blown away.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Fourth Friday in November

Ahhh, wiggle your toes with joy.  It's over.  Fait accompli.  I cooked my way through all the food groups yesterday (fat and sugar being very well represented).  All the usual suspects and a few new recipes:  Pumpkin pie made from (you guessed it) a pumpkin; Cranberry sauce with a little kick of rum, an orange juice base, and two kinds of sugar; Sweet Potatoes roasted instead of pureed with a butter/maple syrup sauce and toasted pecans.  Yum.  I guess (I didn't actually eat anything).  All served only one hour after the target time while I was wear a dress.  (You didn't see that one coming, did you?)  My remaining fabulous MIL, Gene, allowed me to skip the gravy making finale and removed my pajamas and hair tie to get dressed.  We all did.  It was lovely.  Maybe at your house everyone dresses up for holiday dinners.  That's a lovely idea.  I, however, began cooking at 4:30 a.m. and didn't sit down until 5:30 p.m.  I was tired.  And given gravy making, et al., somewhat apprehensive that I would actually sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner in my PJs.  Like I said, I was dismissed to "get ready."  It was lovely. 
And yet...  When I looked in the mirror after a quick face wash, toothbrush, mascara application, and hair brushing - all I could hear was my dad's voice saying "You're not Pretty [when you drink]."  Well.  I did have two glasses of wine right at the end of the cooking frenzy.   Does that mean there wasn't a sparkle in my eyes?  Did my hair not actually come out pretty great considering it's due to be washed and It was tied up in an Aunt Jemima style kerchief all day?  When I remembered to hold in my stomach wasn't my dress pretty?
This is the way I live my life, always second guessing.  Everything.  Why, why, why, why, why?
My dad has been dead longer than I had a dad (meaning I've spent more than half my life without a father). 
This little diddy that replays constantly in my head is only the tip of my personal iceberg.  And I want to let the global warming begin.  Really.
So, I'm investigating something called EMDR.  It sounds so useful.  To put the past to rest.  Heaven.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I coulda been a contender

For about four hours this week I was definitely in the running for the Mother of the Year award.  Since I am more typically a slacker mom, I was very pleased.  PC left for about a month on Monday morning.  I told the Pumpkin that we would do a few extra "fun" things this week to help us not miss Daddy.  It started off big...  I took the Pumpkin to school on time, then returned home Monday morning to take PC to the airport.  All was well and I was at work by 11:00.
Just before I left the office at 5:40 (daycare closes at 6:00), I heated up another serving of my lunch, and fixed a hot dog for the Pumpkin.  A quick scan of the office fridge revealed baby carrots (expired, but barely) and water bottles.  A picnic was born.  In the morning I had stashed the Pumpkin's new kite and a picnic mat I purchased from QVC in the back of the car.

So, I picked him up at school (he was the last kid as usual) and drove the 100 yards to the park next door with the "tall mountain."  The tall mountain is a very small hill but it is the only hill in town.  We spread out our mat, ate a little, then set up the kite.  Kite flying has come a long way since I was a child.  It isn't hard.  Yay.  I've never had a successful kite flying experience before so I was a little worried.  (I did have a backup plan in the event there was a kit disaster - there is a very large playground on the other side of the hill, the Pumpkin would have been content to leave the kite in its package and play there all evening.)
However, no backup plan was required.  The kite flying was successful.

To continue in my super mom guise, after we went home and had a bath I let him eat a Banana Royale in my bed.  And he ate every bite which means he ate half a banana.

The next day I was pretty much back to myself.  And I had to water all the plants PC put in before he left.  At one point in the evening the Pumpkin, in a fit of rage, stomped out the front door and yelled, from the porch, "Mom, I just hate you".  Oh well.  I was in the running for a while.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

That was scary

I had a mildly terrifying experience this week.  I arrived home from work Monday to discover three telephone messages that were NOT from telemarketers.  That wasn't the scary part but it wasn't a bright spot either.  One message was from a nurse at the clinic where I recently had my annual screening mammogram.  Two were from the hospital telling me I needed to schedule a follow up diagnostic mammogram.

Bottom line, end of the story.  I'm fine it was just a glitch in the film.

Back to the terror.  I scheduled the appointment for Thursday.  And I spent four days wondering if, just when we are beginning to relax about cancer around here, it was my turn.  I am not one of those people who could just wait and see what happens for four days.  In my mind, I have to go through all the possible terrible outcomes all the way to the bitter finish of the story.  You know, the bitter finish in which I was "gone" and PC was left to finish raising our kids alone.  Its just how my mind works.  There is a technical term for it but it wasn't a psych major and I would have to look it up on Google.  My good friend Lawyer Mama was a psych major and she knows the term.  We've discussed it.

Beyond the terror.  Its not the fourth Thursday in November but I am very thankful for many things in my life that I don't always take the time to appreciate.  Here's a partial list:

  • PC, the good and the bad, I would only have a shell of a life, would only be a shell of a person, without him.  
  • The sweet snuggly body of our nearly five year old Pumpkin nearly pushing me off the edge of the bed nearly every night and the great little person who he is
  • My grown sons (who, they read this, will be very irritated at being combined instead of each getting their own sentence); they drive me crazy but I love them just as much as I did when they were sweet and snuggly
  • My extended family on the other edge of the continent, I don't talk to them much, I see them even less, but I'm glad they're there when the opportunity arises
  • PC's extended family.  After nearly 20 years they're my family too. 
  • The time and place I was born (you may place your right hand over your heart ready begin, because really, I'm so lucky)
  • My friends, I suck at keeping in touch but that doesn't mean I don't fully appreciate the ability to pick up the phone after days or weeks or months and pick up just where we left off the last conversation
I appreciate lots of things too (my iPhone, my fabulous fabric stash, televisions, laptops, etc.) but I could manage without them.  That seems so obvious when you look at it from this perspective but I'm glad I sat in the mammography suite, waiting for the radiologist to read my films, and thought about it.  Now if I can only remember it every day I'll probably be a lot more cheerful.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What do you do?

After nearly 13 months of unemployment I am, once again, working full time.  Outside the home.  You know, a regular person with a job.  Me again.  After the first few months of panic and nausea, when I realized we were okay financially and the stress was not likely to cause a divorce, I actually enjoyed being home this year.  Not enough to ever really relax into it.  After all, the job search was a constant, nagging, depressing, fruitless, presence.  In those 13 months I had exactly five first interviews, one second interview, finally one offer (after only a first interview).

I reinvented myself several times mentally over the year:

 I would offer myself up to non-profits, slave away administratively for a relatively low salary and help to save the [planet] [mistreated animals] [abused children] [battered women] [the DNC] insert the cause of the appropriate agency here.  I did not receive any responses to my spiffy resume and well crafted cover letters.

I would (finally) pass the Virginia Bar and rather than slave away putting more money into insurance companies' pockets (the unfortunate place where I've spent the bulk of my professional life) I would go work for a public entity and help to save the [abused children] [battered women] [poor and the meek] [people who can't afford a high priced defense lawyer] [the Commonwealth] [the Country].  I didn't take the Virginia bar and thus eliminated the prospect of passing it.

I would offer myself as an independent contractor to assist law firms getting ready for a trial (this doesn't actually happen very often, most cases settle in the civil litigation world, so there is an enormous amount of work to do to prepare when in does happen - I'm good at that work) and intermittently work 90 hours a week for relatively large sums of money, accompanied by enormous stress and anxiety and a complete relinquishment of all parental obligations and pleasures.  Didn't happen - just writing the words gives me a stomach ache and PC is gone all the time so I don't actually have 90 child free hours a week to offer.

I would start keeping the house really clean and cooking low cost healthy meals every night and put on makeup and clean clothes before PC got home from work and fetch his slippers after he walked in the door to show him how great it would be if we just agreed that I'd stay home forever.  Didn't even really try that one.  I'm so not June Cleaver.

And here I am.  An admin bitch (that's an affectionate term used by me and PC not by my employers) for a technology company.  Pay:  Okay.  Stress:  None.  Dress Code:  None (jeans and tennis shoes mostly).  Benefits:  Great.  Level of Contentment:  Pretty High.  Makeover in Future:  Nah.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I Changed My Mind

Just a quick note.  I'm not doing it.  I'm not taking the Virginia Bar Exam tomorrow.  I made the decision about two weeks ago.  I am never walking through those doors - the Norfolk Marriott in February or the Roanoke Convention Center in July - again.  Unless.  Unless I change my mind someday.  Unless I can walk in confident that I have the information to actually pass the test.
I'm not actually certain I'm capable of storing up the information potentially required to pass that test.  Having failed three times I'm not comfortable attempting the test without the ability to produce a short outline of all 26 subjects.
The bottom line is I just don't want to.  And two weeks ago I didn't feel ready and didn't feel I could get ready.  So I explained to PC.  And he didn't explode.  He wasn't furious.  I suppose he was disappointed but he didn't say so.  So I stopped studying.  I put the books aside.  The relief was tremendous.
Today, the day before the test, I'm feeling some noticeable anxiety.  If I made the wrong decision its too late this time.  But not really.  I know I was correct in my assessment that I wasn't going to be ready this time.  So we'll see if I decide to attempt a "next time."  If I make the decision I think I need a solid six month lead time.  And a solid commitment to find three to five hours a day to stuff those 26 subjects into my brain for the full six months.  And to figure out how to hold those things in my aging brain.  And then properly discuss them on command.
In the meantime, I'm second guessing myself a little bit today.  But I won't be trying to "guess" any correct answers tomorrow.  The relief is tremendous.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I'm doing it again

That, apparently endless, awful horrible very bad thing... Studying for the Virginia Bar Exam.  Ugh.  This will be my fourth attempt at the exam.  That's right.  I've failed three times.  In my defense (and I'm very defensive on this subject) I was close.  All three times.  You need 140 points to pass.  In February 2004 I got 135 points.  In July 2004 127.  In July 2008 136.  And now, after nearly a full year of being unemployed, with only three job interviews and no offers, I'm doing it again.

Oh wait, I forgot to say I passed the California Bar Exam on my first try.  In 2000.  (I told you, I'm defensive.)

I've had fairly good excuses for not quite making it all three times.  But, as PC pointed out, this time no one is distracted by horrid personal problems that are not discussed on this, or any other, blog; no one is pregnant; no one has cancer.  So I should be able to just grab those four extra points with no problem.  Right.  I'll get right on that.