Friday, December 19, 2008


Yeah, no, screw that. I'm ruining my children's lives. Forever. They will be hideously warped and twisted individuals. They will hate me forever for ripping apart their family. My only consolation would be if they were as angry at their father as they will be at me.

Finding it

Well, I think I finally did it. I think I'm there.


I'm not upset. I'm not angry. I'm not hurt. I'm really kind of okay with it. Happy about it, even.

This is good.

I just dropped off the kids for a week of Christmas vacation with their dad. Nobody cried. I expected to feel worse. At the moment, I'm kind of numb. Not a good thing, but also, at the moment, not a bad thing. I feel shitty that I can't be with them on the holidays, but I realize that they need to spend time with their dad, too. So be it.

I've started to imagine the future, a future beyond this particular time. There are even days when I think it will probably be okay.

This was the only gift I needed this year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Strangest Feeling

So I was at work today, glibly teaching a batch of seventh graders the words to "O Come All Ye Faithful" in Spanish, staring out my window at the snow* falling, and I cracked a random joke (I have no idea - I make stupid teacher jokes all the time), and I felt this very odd sensation somewhere in my chest.

Later, I was chatting with a colleague - again by the window, watching the snow fall - and I felt it again.

I successfully made a particularly difficult phone call to a parent, and went to report to my boss about it. She looked shocked and pleased. She called me a miracle worker. We talked about my messy personal life, she said flattering things. There was that feeling again.

Helping my eighth graders, all decked out in Santa hats and Uggs, deliver boxes of food and baskets of wrapped gifts to needy families, I noticed it again. I was standing out in the snow this time, watching it land on the shiny wrapping paper and bows, on the shiny faces of the children we love to hate. Seriously, what was that damn feeling?

There I was, driving home in the snow.* Traffic is awful, moving at a crawl, cars skidding left and right. Excellent music on the radio. Am I stressed? No. Can't figure it out. Can I run the errand I needed to? No. Who cares? Still, not stressed. What the hell?

Kids, rolling in the snow. Rolling. No snow pants, no waterproof, well, anything except boots. That's so cute! Are you having fun? We'll dry off with hot chocolate and sweatpants! Who cares if you're soaked and bedraggled and caked with snow? Why am I not more upset about this?

I have it on good authority that, due to the driving conditions, my soon-to-be-ex-Husband is shacking up with his new girlfriend tonight. You know they're totally having sex. I am surprisingly unbothered. Huh. Who knew?

I asked my friend at work today, because I was suspicious. She confirmed my hunch.

It's the holiday spirit. Whatever the hell that really means, I think I have some. This is all very, very strange to me. I'm like, happy, and stuff. For no good reason. I can't quite understand where this is coming from. Frankly, it makes me kind of uncomfortable. Do normal people feel like this all the time? Is it that "special time of year" getting to me? What is going on with me?

*It was this really awesome snow. Light, fluffy, powdery, falling straight down like the fake snow in movies - perfect.

**Less awesome now, and may I just say, Richard M. Daley, that I don't give a damn how broke your city is, you pay for salt and plows. Period. It took me 2 hours to drive the five miles roundtrip that it takes me to pick up both girls and get home. And in those 2 hours, I saw not a single plow, and only one salt truck. Five miles of main thoroughfares, including the city's longest street. Are you kidding me, Dick? Seriously?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sounds coming from the bedroom

No, probably not the sounds you're thinking of, because, hi, it's just me and the cat. No, I'm sitting on the couch, working, the girls having been put to bed moments earlier and now talking in direct defiance of my directive to Just Go To Sleep Already. Then, from amongst the chatter, I pick out the following exchange.



No, no, Tank. It's Ba-Rock O-Bomb-A.

Ba-rack Oba-ma!

Tomorrow, Barack Obama is coming to my school to play with all the kids there. He's big and he's very nice. He will come in and have to take off his big old shoes! ::riotous laughter::

What, is he like a giant with big old feet? Are you scared of him?

No, he will play games with me and eat crackers.

I have no idea where they're getting this! I took them to vote and the Bear watched his acceptance speech with me, but we *never* talk about this. I never even told them his name - lest the kids at preschool get into a political fracas over it. But, apparently, they've heard it somewhere. At least they think he sounds like a nice man. May they never live to be disappointed in the ideals of their youth.

Monday, December 08, 2008


Odd, but you never really think about the sheer amount of crap that you have to do in a single day. For some people, it kind of seems like a "work 9-5, go home and relax" kind of scenario, even though I'm sure they have things to do, too. Today, for some reason, was really busy, or else it just seemed really busy.

I woke up at 6, as always. Three people fed and dressed for the weather, ready to leave the door by 7.

Arrive school, 7:45. Morning duty at 8 - standing outside in the freezing cold for half an hour, yay. Straight from there to homeroom.

Class. Class. Class. Class. Class.

Lunch. Brought enough for me, but neighbor has none. Share - neither person really full. Doesn't matter, time for...

Mass! Sit, listen to priest selling stuff I totally don't buy. Police children for bad Mass Manners.

Finally, an hour to myself! Return emails, check grades, plan for tomorrow, run copies, hunt down students, bemoan the general lack of time before Christmas break... wait, did I say an hour to *myself*? Kidding.

4:00. Leave to pick up kids. First the Bear. It's snacktime. Wait til snack is over, chat with 4 year olds. They say "GRRR!" a lot. Wow. Then the Tank. Finally, a good day for her. About time! Home by 5.

Dinner. Cook, eat, clean kitchen. Take out trash. Help Bear finish homework, undone over the weekend at Dad's.

7:00. Charlie Brown Christmas Special! Hot chocolate all around. Can I grade papers with a Tank in my lap? Not really, though I try.

8:00. Bedtime. Over-tired - I should have gone for 7:30. Jammies, teeth, allergy meds, potty, story (a book of Christmas carols, sung!), bed. Up, potty, bed. Repeat with other child. Sleep triumphs eventually.

8:30. A glass of wine and approximately 600 papers to grade. Tonight, I'm content to sort into stacks by assignment and class, and put correct names and dates for each in the gradebook. Serious grading to begin tomorrow.

10:30. Self-indulgent blog post. Children coughing in the background. Time for bed. But first, a chapter of my new book.

And? And? It's sleeting. Yay for tomorrow's 7:30 meeting and snow boots for all. Plus the car scraping. You can never discount the car scraping. That shit takes way more time than you think!

You know, it never seems like a lot, because you just do it, otherwise it wouldn't get done. But really, now, seventeen hours after my alarm first rang, it seems like a whole shitload of stuff. And I'm pretty tired. Although, when you write it out like that, it really looks like you actually accomplished something in your day. I know I didn't really get that much done, compared to what I might have, but it sure looks like a lot! To bed

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Good Grief!

So, we put up our Christmas tree tonight, and I'm really trying to maintain a positive attitude about it, for the girls's sake, etc., but ugh. I hate it. It's such a stupid, paltry, chintzy looking little thing. It's a total Charlie Brown Christmas tree. When we moved, I took the smaller of our two artificial trees, because I don't have space for the big one. This one is short, and sparse, and fake-looking, and really really ugly.

And the ornaments! Where are my ornaments? Can't have breakables (Tank, cat) so we settled for a bag of wooden and plastic non-breakables. There are, not kidding, maybe twenty ornaments on the whole tree. And they're cheap and ugly (well, not the ones from my childhood, which are cheap and ugly but with sentimental value). In all my twenty-eight years, this is, without a doubt, the worst Christmas tree ever. And I let the girls hang the ornaments, which means they're all clustered around the bottom, which just chafes my soul.

And then they'll go to their dad's (grandma's) house, and they have two trees, and they're big and bright. And while everything on those two trees is undoubtedly cheaper and uglier and plastic-er than the things on my tree, when you're four, you only notice that it's big and shiny, not that it's decorated in poor taste. So they'll come home and see our pathetic little reject tree and be disappointed that ours isn't better.

But they haven't figured that out yet. Tonight, they are in awe. They love it. They think it's the most amazing thing ever. They have hung stockings and put out our few miserable decorations, and they think it is all perfectly lovely. The Bear, tonight, said "this house *is* Christmas," and they both wanted to turn out the lights and just stare at it. They can't tell how pathetic it is, and I'm grateful for that. All too soon, they'll realize how shoddy it is, compared to others'. My own childhood memories include a ten-foot tree that brushed the top of our ceiling, boxes and boxes of ornaments, each with a story attached, that we had to climb ladders to hang. Whatever. In the true spirit of things, I'm trying to teach the girls to appreciate the things they have, and to find beauty in the small, often overlooked things. But when I think of what they could be having, and what they're missing, it breaks my heart a little bit.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


The number of miles I logged in my car over the holiday weekend. I really should have taken an extra lap around the city to bump it up to an even 2000. Sigh. Back, all in one piece, and, for the sake of posting something, look! a meme. A one-word meme. If you know me at all, one-word answers are, shall we say, challenging?

Where is your cell phone? dunno

Where is your significant other? who?!

Your hair? frowzy

Your mother? here

Your father? awesome

Your favorite thing? sleep

Your dream last night? sex

Your goal? stability

The room you’re in? living

Your fear? rejection

Where do you want to be in 6 years? happy

Where were you last night? Missouri

What you’re not? fit

Muffins? blueberry

One of your wish list items? money :)

Where you grew up? Midwest

The last thing you did? bills

What are you wearing? jeans

Your TV? off

Your pet? Maggie

Your computer? dying

Your life? hectic

Your mood? jaded

Missing someone? yes

Your car? Hyundai

Something you’re not wearing? bra

Your summer? lovely

Love someone? kids

Your favorite color? green

When is the last time you laughed? today

Last time you cried? today

There you have it. Me in a nutshell. No, wait, this is me in a nutshell. ::mimes being trapped in giant nutshell, a la Austin Powers:: Had an awesome roadtrip with my kids (sounds crazy, but they were great). Mom bought me a new green sweater for a Christmas party I got invited to - amazing color. Survived our first Thanksgiving without Husband. Put hideous plastic snowman-shaped clingy-things on the window. Things are ok, I think. Cautiously optimistic, even...

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Ok, let me just stop right here to say that if you haven't read the series, you should. Don't pull the "just for kids" crap - I know plenty of grown women who confess to liking them. Loads.

I'm sitting here, thinking about the premiere of the movie version of Twilight tomorrow night. Excitement has been rampant at school - it's a middle school, for pity's sake. All the girls have their copies with them, reading surreptitiously when they should be studying, holing up in corners of the playground, hiding from the bitter wind between the pages.

I've been rereading, too. I finished Twilight and New Moon again over the weekend, sans children. I was looking forward to doing the same this weekend with Eclipse and Breaking Dawn, but I (oh so selflessly) loaned them to our middle school counselor, a kindly fiftysomething woman who has taken an interest, too.

As I sat around after school today, talking Twilight with some of my eighth graders, they expressed surprise that *I* had read all the books and enjoyed them. They know I'm into a lot of the same things that they are, or at least conversant with a lot of the same things. One of them asked me if I was "attracted" to Edward, and that set me off thinking - why do I like this series so much?

It's certainly not the high-quality writing. As one of my more astute ladies pointed out, it's not exactly Shakespeare. It's teenage fluff in its purest incarnation. And yet, I am strangely attracted to the books, to the characters. I want to know more about them. I want to *be* them (you know, in that silly "wish I was a character in a book" way that we all get).

It's not the perfection. Of course, Meyer describes Edward as "perfect" at every turn, with enough similes to gag a maggot. That's not it. It's a combination of two things, for me.

1. The sexual tension. Sure, it's all fairly chaste, on the surface, but if you read the thirst that Edward feels for Bella's blood as a metaphor for the sexual tension between the two... I had to go take a cold shower after the third novel. It's incredible. I've felt that type of friction, the lure of the denied intimacy, many times, and on many different levels, over the last 15 years. But the desire, the longing, the basic animal need these two seem to feel? I am way envious. It's incredibly intense. I can only wish I had something like that, which leads me to...

2. Love. These two are so incredibly in love, and not just lust, but really, in love, that it defies all knowing. I've been in love once or twice or three times before, but what they have? It's an entirely different brand. I think, on some level, I'm really incredibly jealous of Bella, that she has someone who loves her so intensely, without pretense, condition, question, regard to anything else. Most of us* never feel that kind of love, and frankly, I am a little envious. He loves her in spite of the fact that it can never work out. She loves him more than she loves herself, more than life, more than breath. It's just all so - intense. I wish that someone loved me that way. I would totally face death and destruction and dismemberment and complete annihilation for the chance at a love like that.

And now, to reason out why I can't go see the movie with my students tomorrow night. After all, I'm a grown woman. I don't want to be the pathetic single lady in a theater full of kids so young they had to bring their moms to get in...

*Maybe it's just me? Maybe the rest of you have someone who loves you like that? Don't tell me, if you do.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Come On, Feel the Negativity

Ok, I completely realize that this blog has become an exercise in negativity and bitterness. To be fair, that's kind of my life, but it must get really old to outsiders after a while.

So, rather than writing the post I'm inclined to write, about my three-day headache, my sudden incredible fatigue (holy shit so much worse than normal, and normal ain't so hot), my money woes, my kid worries, etc. etc., I'm going to write a post celebrating the good and positive things that are going on.

Today, I chatted with a new co-worker and helped her work through some issues she's having with other co-workers.

I pioneered a new technology we have at school - nobody else in the middle school has used it in their classroom yet. I win. And it was actually pretty cool.

I have all my plans ready to go for tomorrow.

I had a decent conversation with the Bear, for once. It took a few false starts, but I think I may have figured out what's going on with her at school. Or at least, I'm trying.

I cooked a healthy dinner.

So there. Something to tide you over til the doom and gloom express returns. Don't worry, I can't stay positive for long.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Second (Third, Fourth) Verse, Same as the First

I know I blog about this every winter, multiple times, but really, can I just state again for the record how much I loathe childhood asthma?

I can say that because, as the parent of a child with asthma, I had asthma myself as a child (I like to claim I've grown out of it now) and so I know how much it sucks from both ends - for her and for me.

The Bear, like many other tiny kids with asthma, doesn't necessarily have the same kind of asthma attacks that I remember from about 10 or so onward. In her case, it manifests with coughing. And coughing. And more coughing. After a while, it's all one big cough, she can't breathe, her face turns beet red, her eyes and nose start streaming, and eventually she pukes.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The worst part for her (obviously) is the coughing til you can't breathe and choke and puke. The worst part (for me) is having to sit here, watching her, helping her, knowing that there's really nothing I can do to help.

Things we've done tonight, in no particular order, to stave off the coughing so she can sleep:

the regular inhaler (controller, not rescue)
the nebulizer (yay albuterol)
Benadryl (to dry up the gah runny nose everywhere)
sips of water through a straw
steaming (in the bathroom, hot steam for a while, followed by a trip to the open window for cold dry air)
Vicks on the chest
a teaspoon of honey

She did puke eventually, which usually helps to clear the passages, somehow, but she's still laying over there on the couch, hacking away into her stuffed dog pillow.

And it's late and it's cold and I'm tired and I miss my husband.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


If you were adequately able to imagine my delight at yesterday's fill-up, then you will easily be able to imagine my dismay when, eight hours later, I drove past the same gas station and the price had dropped to $2.36. Five whole cents a gallon cheaper! How dare they!

The kids are gone to their dad's house, and I have the apartment to myself for the weekend. I know I bitch and moan when they're here, but god, this place is so *quiet* with them gone. I do like it, a little bit, the freedom, the peace. I came home early this morning after crashing on a friend's couch last night. I had breakfast, did some reading, took a nap, did some more reading, ate dinner, did some more reading. I'm watching a movie now. Contemplating a bubble bath. It sounds ideal, but truly, I'm lonely.

I don't think it would be as bad if there was another adult around to hang out with, even if only in companionable silence. Someone to *see,* to know that someone was there, to feel the presence of another person...

My goal has always been to put the girls first, and my own needs second, until they're grown. But I'm honestly not sure I can tough out being this lonely for the next sixteen years.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Nothing makes me happier than things that are cheap. I get an actual little thrill from saving even a little bit of money, and when I find I've spent more than I needed to, I get mad.

Imagine my delight when I filled up my entirely empty, running on fumes, coasting into the station gas tank today for UNDER $30! At the height of the oil price hikes, it cost $48 to fill an empty tank. Today - $28! I did a little dance in the front seat. $2.41 a gallon!

Then, on to the gorgeous, expensive grocery store in my neighborhood for cat litter. The cheap-ass store is farther, so it's more practical to buy single items at the nice store. Name-brand cat litter? $10.99 a jug. Off-brand cat litter? $7.99 a jug. My selection? Only $6.99 with my Super-Saver-Thingie card. On which I get 10% off all purchases until mid-December (in Chicago, that's the equivalent of not having to pay tax). Plus, aforementioned jug of cat litter had a coupon attached for an extra $1 off! So, my $7.99 cat litter only cost me $5.99, including tax! Almost half of the fancy name-brand stuff.

In my life, I never thought saving $2 cat litter would make me as happy as it did today. But when you are scrimping and saving, having decided to suck it up and send your kid to fancy-pants private school, every $2 helps.

Incidentally, we used to live in a state that actually had a town called Tightwad. Also Peculiar. And a few other gems. But Tightwad was my favorite (duh).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Teacher's Lament

Tonight I received the following:

Ms. Teacher Jane -

Just checking in to see how Miffy did on the quiz. She said she did not get it. Please help her.


To which I responded:

Ms. Entitled Mom -

Traditionally, the time to seek help is *before* the quiz, rather than after you've already failed it. In addition to which, it is my JOB to help her. You are paying $14,000 a year for me to help her. I have two degrees and five years of experience helping people like her. However, my telepathic powers are a bit weak at the moment, and unless Miffy raises her hand to ask a question, or shows some other sign of life, it's very difficult to help her.

K thanks bye,

To which she will undoubtedly respond with:

Ms. Teacher Jane -

Whatever. I have a squash game and an appointment at the spa. Just make sure she gets an A on her report card, will you?


To which, with a certain vengeful glee, I would say:

Ms. Entitled Mom -

I'll be sure to do that, just as soon as you shove that gigantic squash racket up your ass. Sideways. Your kid is a C student. All your money can't make her any smarter than that. But have fun trying!


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So help me sweet baby Jesus...

if these children don't go to sleep, and soon, I am going to LOSE. IT.

I don't know if my kids are good sleepers or bad sleepers when compared to all the other small people in the world. I would guess they're average to above-average. But I am below-average when it comes to dealing with them.

After 8 pm, I do. not. want. kids. I have no desire to be a parent after bedtime. I want an hour to sit on the couch and work, or catch up on emails, or veg out, or whatever, before I collapse. Just an hour. One quiet hour. After bedtime, I do not want to see or hear my kids again until sunrise. Period. I hate nighttime parenting, and I know I've devoted many a post to this before. I don't know if it's my temper, anger issues, general impatience with all things small, but I HATE being a mom at night. If you could feel the force with which I just typed those four capital letters - there needs to be a stronger word than hate. If a knife-wielding attacker came smashing though my window right this very minute, I would say to him "please please please slit my throat first so I don't have to listen to these goddamn children anymore!" I would volunteer for death and dismemberment before I would volunteer for nighttime parenting.

I am fairly certain that if my daily routine didn't involve fourteen hours of running in circles with barely time to pee, I wouldn't complain so much. I could catch my hour of quiet time at midnight - I wouldn't have to get up at ten til six every day. I could shower at naptime. Hell, I could NAP at naptime. But that's not it. My time is never my own. I run around after my own children while I'm home; I run around after 120 others while I'm at work. I stood in the open door of the bathroom for almost ten minutes today, having been waylaid by both a coworker and a student while on my way to pee on my way to stand out in the freezing cold for half an hour on afternoon duty. Seriously. An hour. That's all I want.

And instead, my children give me up, down, in bed, out of bed, need to pee, need to poop, drink of water, hungry, thirsty, tired, not tired, sad, laughing, one-more-story, move-the-cat, get-back-in-your-own-bed-now-young-lady bullshit. After 8 pm, I frequently pull parenting maneuvers that I'm not proud of. Why, just tonight, I've:

been generally bitchy

and that's just in the last two hours that we've been working on this. At this point, 9:23 pm CST, after a yelling (gar yaergh go back to bed now or else dammit), a threatening (no sticker on bedtime chart hence no ice cream at daddy's house this weekend), much grouchiness, and a cat-ectomy (why that accursed feline feels the need to sleep *on* the Tank's pillow, I'll never know), there is finally, maybe, quiet in there. I hesitate to get up and go check, for fear of disturbing whatever fragile balance may be in effect. I am tempted to sleep fully clothed, sitting up on the couch, so as not to walk on my squeaky hardwood floors and risk disturbing a child. Seriously. I am Hating This.

Send chocolates laced with arsenic. Please.

Mental Giant

You know those times when you predicate your entire thought process around something that you *know* to be true, one of those pieces of knowledge that you feel, in the very core of your being, has to be true?

Say, the knowledge that Wednesday is payday?

Only to discover, of course, that you're an idiot, that Wednesday is only the 12th, and you still have to make it through the end of the week?

I have a calendar on my phone, a calendar on my computer, a calendar at work, a paper agenda, and a working knowledge that Tuesday was Veterans' Day. Given that, it still took me ten minutes of staring at my bank balance in dismay to figure out why I hadn't gotten paid yet - today is only the 12th.

Good grief.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pick your poison

On a night like tonight, when the kids have been crying, individually or together, since we got in the car after school, and asking for their daddy, asking why he doesn't live with us, doesn't he want us, doesn't he love us, I'm sad, I miss him, when can I see him, can't he just come here and live with us...

on a night like this, the question "how do I cope?" can only be answered with another question:

Zinfandel? or Thin Mint?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Just Kindergarten

Almost as tiring as nonstop cleaning? Sorting though a mountain of information on the local public schools. Some factoids:

We live in Chicago. The public schools here kind of suck.

I teach in a private school. They pay me so little, I can't afford to send my own kid there. I think we call that Irony.

There are approximately ten decent "selective/gifted/whatever" public schools we could conceivably send the Bear to.

The odds of her getting accepted via the random lottery at most, or through the smart-kid testing at others, are practically nil.

Even if she does miraculously get accepted somewhere, the time lapse between when my school starts and when hers would start make the feasibility of actually getting her there nearly impossible.

Not to mention that it will be another three years, minimum, before I can get both Bear and Tank at the same school at the same time. If I could make that my school, and make one stop for the three of us, I would be thrilled. The odds of that happening are about as good as the odds of me getting back into those size 6 jeans hanging in the back of my closet.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Phoning it in

Maybe the Tank is to blame, for waking up at six a.m.. On a Saturday. It was still dark!

Perhaps it's the seven loads of laundry (washed, dried, sorted, folded, and PUT AWAY!) that I did this afternoon.

Maybe it's the three loads of dishes and four meals I've cooked in the last 36 hours.

It could be the turbo-speed housecleaning I did this morning, which, clean! Yay!

Possibly also the whirlwind drop-in visit from Soon-to-be-Ex-Husband this afternoon, which kind of sucked, but left both girls in a reasonably pleasant mood.

But whatever the reason, I am tired tonight. Weekends are meant for R&R, for fun activities, for lounging around in your pajamas with a cup of tea. Weekends are for sleeping in. Weekends are supposed to be, you know, like, pleasant. No drudgery allowed.

Better luck tomorrow.

Friday, November 07, 2008

All that Glisters is not Gold

Truly. It is 8 pm on a Friday evening, and both of my children are sound asleep. I have treated myself to a glass of wine that is really more of a goblet. I am watching trashy television for company. Look around and you'd think, sure, she's got everything.

And yet. Tank managed to say something incredibly hurtful to me before she went to bed, and the sting of it still lingers. My mother always said that you can count on idiots and small children to tell the truth. I don't really think that she's at an age where she can make up hurtful things just to see if she can get to me, like a teenager would. I think that what she said came from what she was thinking at the moment, but the fact that it even registered to her was incredibly hurtful. I may move on to the bag of minty chocolates when the wine is no longer. And the jar of pickles after that.

So, on the outside, it's a perfect evening, but inside, it's been marred. By a two year old! The small people, they are very powerful. The things they say sometimes mean more than they realize. I wonder if she knows how much she's hurt me.

Btw, nothing irritates my English-teacher soul more than people who say "all that *glitters*. Led Zeppelin, I'm looking at you, boys.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Both sides

So, on the second day of a parent-teacher conference odyssey, between reassuring parents that, no, really, their little darling is fine and helping other parents explain to their kids that, no, you can't get into any decent high school with grades like that, I had a minute to check my email. Lo and behold, what do I find? An email from my own kid's teacher.

It wasn't entirely unexpected. When I went to pick her up, her cot was over by the cubbies, away from everyone else. Normally, she sleeps right in the middle of the room with all the other kids. On the way out the door, she told me, "Mrs. Teacher is going to have to call some parents, but not my parents."

I kind of expected a call.

The gist of the email was "not being nice to friends, yelling at them, goofing off at naptime," etc.

After last night, I wasn't too thrilled about this, although I'm kind of expecting a rash of button-pushing behavior right now as she works to sort out the ways her life is changing. On top of that, she's spent two nights hanging out with the "big kids" at my school, and the three of us haven't had much family time because of these nighttime parent-teacher conferences. So we came home and had a big bowl of ice cream on the kitchen floor, and talked about feelings, and friends, and how to deal with both.

It's hard to sit on both sides of the table at the same time.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

On Purpose

I had an interesting evening with the Bear this evening. It was a long night for the whole family, and by the time we got home at 7, we were pretty beat. But she was sassing me, being obnoxious to her little sister, grouchy, etc. She is Little Miss Sunshine when she's sleepy. I have about zero tolerance for this kind of crap, especially after a day spent with Other People's kids, and a night spent talking to Other People about their kids. Hell no.

So, after their bath, I tell her to lay down on her towel for the ceremonial lotion ritual. Always the same, every time. We've been doing this the same way since she was born. She likes it. I like it. Anyway, she rolls over and curls up in a ball. I say, Bear, get ready for lotion. She sticks out an arm. I say no. She sticks out her face. I say no. She sticks out her butt. I say no. Lotion always starts at the legs and feet. No other way, ever. I say, fine, if you can't be bothered to do as I ask, go to bed with no lotion on.

Oh, the crying. Full-on sobbing. Wailing and gnashing of teeth. BUT I'LL GET DRY SKIN! she wails. MY SKIN WILL HURT IF IT GETS DRY! she cries. I say, tough. You don't do as I ask, you don't get what you want. The End.

More screaming. More crying. I say, fine. If you can't stop screaming and crying, you can't have a bedtime story with us. You'll have to go to bed with no story.

Well, no lotion and no story? I am Cruella DeVil herself.

So, she gets no story, and her sister does, but she stops crying when I floss her teeth and then let her play with the floss. As we're getting into bed, she starts to cry again.

Mommy, I was doing it on purpose.

Doing what on purpose?

I knew what you wanted, and I didn't do it, on purpose. I was not-doing it on purpose.

Well, Bear, I'm glad you told me that. I forgive you. I'm sorry I yelled at you. Will you forgive me?

::tears, hugs::

Still crying. Bear, what's going on? Why still crying?

I love you. I like to tell you the truth.

I love you too, baby. And I hope you'll always want to tell me the truth. It makes me feel very happy when you tell me the truth about things. And I'll try to always tell you the truth.

::more tears::

But I did it on purpose!

I know, but I forgive you. All done. No biggie. We're family. That's what family does.

This is not a family! We have no Daddy! It can't be a family without a Daddy!

Whoa, back up there, kid. We are indeed a family. Daddy is your family, too. Family means lots of different things.

On and on, round and round we went - truth, forgiveness, doing things on purpose, loving each other, being a family. This kind of stuff is just so exhausting. Some day I'm going to invent a kid that brings itself up.

In my head, this was a very important conversation. Here, it looks ridiculously mundane and kind of pointless. I don't know. My kid acts out on purpose, but then wants to tell me the truth about it and be forgiven. Does anybody care about this shit but me? I don't know, but now at least I have today's post done.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Holy Shit!

We did it.


I failed my U.S. geography test

Hi. That was Wyoming. Colorado is the one underneath. Wyoming is on top. I am an idiot, and I freely admit that. I take back all the things I said, Colorado. You can say bad things about me now, if you'd like.


Good people of Ohio, from your long lines and shitty voting practices you have spoken and redeemed yourselves (and possibly the rest of us). You cancel out the shitty disappointment that was Colorado. Bless you.


Man, am I disappointed in the people of Colorado. I was there for five days last week, and on every corner, I saw people waving Obama signs. The honking they got, the cheers, the applause. My colleague and I debated it, after buying a milkshake for a lone teenage boy waving a homemade sign in the unseasonable Indian summer heat. We thought that Colorado had a good chance of going blue this year. Granted, we only witnessed this phenomenon in Denver and Boulder. I'm sure the small-town people are more conservative than the big-city liberals.* But still. We were excited to get out of Illinois and see what the rest of the country was thinking. And we liked what we saw. But no. They just called Colorado for McCain. Dammit.

*I'm going to throw out some more stereotypes tonight. Just wait.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Word problems

Since I'm bad with numbers and spreadsheets, I turned my financial woes into a word problem to find out how much money I need to steal to break even this week. If a train leaves Chicago at 9 pm going 45 miles an hour, how quickly can I get over there and lay down on the third rail? Wait, no, same problem, different answer.

This section of the post originally had the full word problem, which I took down because it just made me too uncomfortable. I mean, sure, you don't know me. I don't know you. But really, you do. You know more about me than just about anyone else, and I just don't feel comfortable letting you know exactly how poor I am. It would seem like asking for pity, and I don't want that. Besides, Soon-to-be-Ex-Husband sometimes reads this blog, and he's already made it very clear that he's not going to bail me out, so I don't feel like I need or ought to be telling him that I just don't have enough money.

Although I did have the following conversation today:

Fat Bitchy Director of Student Life: The babysitting service during parent-teacher conferences will cost $5.
Me: I'm sorry. Exsqueeze me? Baking powder? I thought I just heard you say *I* had to pay *you* for the privilege of working two 14-hour days in a row.
FBDoSL: Yeah, and they better be potty-trained.
Me: Bitch, you can bite me.

Later, to my classroom neighbor/friend:

Her: Are you going to take advantage of the babysitting?
Me: I can't. It costs $5.
Her: I know. What a deal, right?
Me: ...I don't have $5.

So, I don't have $5 for babysitting services. You can probably extrapolate from that how much money I don't have for other things, too. God. I hate whining posts about money.

My boss, whom I adore and would eat fire for, likes to have "celebrations" of the things that are going well in our lives. So, in her honor, tonight I would like to celebrate the fact that my nonexistent kitchen sink water pressure has doubled in force to a really reasonable trickle. I can't tell you how happy that tiny fact made me. My finances are in dire straits and the world is in a shambles, but by golly, I filled a pot of water in under 10 minutes, and that makes it all better.*

Tomorrow, my worries about the effect the divorce is having on the children. And... and... isn't there something else going on tomorrow? Something I'm supposed to be doing? Dammit...

*I'm not even joking. Sometimes it's the little things that make you feel better.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I Blame the Altitude

So, this post may go up after midnight Central Time, but I'm out West, where it's still November 1st. Plus, we already set the clocks back! So there...
Conference, good. It finished early this afternoon, and we took off in our rented vehicle, up into the Rockies. Highlights included happening across the hotel where they filmed The Shining, encounters with deer, elk, fox, and a magpie, a trip up above 13,000 feet, sunset in the mountains, randomly running into someone from my alma mater (1000 miles from here), and some very nice times with my friend/co-worker.
Going to fly home tomorrow afternoon. Am very ready to see my small people again. I miss them. I bought them pens with giant bobble heads on top. I will be a hit.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


I miss being married. I miss having someone else in the bed at night. I miss saying "my husband" in conversation. I miss the heavy feeling of my engagement ring on my finger. I miss knowing that there's someone else coming home, eventually. I miss being part of the crowd.
This is not to say that my marriage was perfect. My version of having someone else in the bed at night was to have him creep in, hours after I was asleep, and be there, snoring, when I woke up. My version of knowing there was someone else coming home was never knowing when he would get there, how much longer I would have to hold out with the kids by myself, whether he would pay any attention to me when he got home, wondering if we would fight tonight or not.
I'm at this conference, and I'm surrounded by married women. They call their husbands between sessions to say "I love you." They all wear wedding rings. In conversation, things always revert back to marriage, to husbands and wives, to the communal life that so many people lead.
And I miss that. I'm lonely. I hate admitting that. It sounds like a failure. But I'm lonely. There you have it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

To Do

Blow nose.

Attend parent-teacher conference.


Blow nose.

Fetch children.

Fetch mother.

Feed children.

Drive across city.

Sit in traffic.

Mutter obscenities at passersby.

Blow nose.

Be late.

Book mother on later flight.

Blow nose.

Drive across city.

Sit in traffic.

Text ex-husband.

Blow nose.

Meet ex-husband at apartment for child handoff.

Become flustered.

Forget to pack tiny underwear.

And tiny socks.

Get angry.


Blow nose.

Vent frustrations on cat.

Buy catfood.

And gum.

Do Work.

Watch TV.

Blow nose.

More Work.

More TV.

Blow nose. Cough.

Pack suitcase.

Check 5-day forecast for Denver.



Blow nose. Cough.

Clean house to impress cat-feeders.

Pay bills.

Eat hotdog.

Research rental car prices.


Blow nose. Cough.

Realize this post has no point except to prove to myself that I am incapable of accomplishing anything in a reasonable, organized fashion.

Also that I have a cold.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

What do you say to the person who, with bumbling good intentions, tells you to "be happy! It's October! It's cold and windy! You're in the city!"

I've always loved fall in the city. It's my favorite time. It's cool, crisp, the leaves are gorgeous, it smells good...

We got together in the fall. Both times. September and October are sentimental times for me. In my mind, fall is inextricably linked with the first flush of romance. And with him. And all those crazy weird emotions that go along with falling in love. And with the city.

But we always talked about moving back here together. He always wanted to take the girls for walks in the leaves. We would fall asleep with the windows open and smell the fall smells and listen to the leaves rustling. That was how it was supposed to be in the fall.

It was not supposed to be us, standing outside on the corner under the streetlight, in the dark, in a gale force wind, in the bitter cold, handing over money and fighting about who is and is not over whom. And then, to be reminded by him, my fall guy, that I should be happy? In the fall? Without him?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Adding insult to injury

As if it weren't enough that I have a 2.5-year-old, progress reports are due tomorrow and I haven't even started. I have 120 students, all of whom need personal narratives written about their learning, not to mention that I haven't finished grading all of their quizzes. I am drinking margaritas through a straw. Send help.

*ETA* 4 hours and 8,514 words later, I'm going to bed. I've said all there is to be said, and said it in such a way that you may never know that your child is a bully, or a flake, or socially inept, or, god forbid... average. All in a day's work.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I would just like to put this out there into the Universe. I hate two and a half. Hate. It. Two and a half is pure evil. Well, not pure. There are tiny bits of joy mixed in there, like sprinkles on ice cream. But, in your average daily spoonful, you only get a few sprinkles, and a great big mouthful of ice cream. Shit-flavored ice cream. Poisonous, soul-crushing, shit-flavored ice cream.

If you know of a way to get a two and a half year old to A) sleep, or B) listen, please, for the love of all that is good and holy, let me know. Throw me a frickin bone here. I'm dying. And I've done this before! I should be good at it! But no. The children, they are different. And not in good ways, either.


Thursday, October 16, 2008


No, it's not Halloween (don't get me started on Halloween!). It's this Color Personality thing. Holy crap, it's incredibly accurate. In a spooky way. How can they tell that much about you by the colors you prefer?

ColorQuiz.comJane took the free personality test!

"Feels exhausted by conflict and quarreling and des..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

I mean, really. Amazingly accurate, with only a few minor exceptions. Wow.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Or not...

So, tonight, just as I am dusting off my Mother of the Year chops, feeling pret-ty damn good about myself*, the Bear comes wandering out to the couch where I am sitting, pondering. She looks... upset.

Mommy, I wish God was real.
... Real like how?
Real like you.

How to explain that real in the physical sense and real in the truest sense are not the same thing? I knew I had to tread carefully here - I could sense that this was something she was really struggling with. We talked through it for quite a while.

Mom, I don't want to have to pray to God.
Well, then, don't. Nobody can ever make you do that. But why not?
I just want to be able to talk to him like a normal person, like I talk to you.
Well, you can do that. Just don't expect an answer you can hear with your ears.
Then how will I hear it?
With your soul.

That's where I lost her. We've been talking for a while now about souls - what they are, where they are, what they do, etc. - but she's a little skeptical still.

Like in your heart?
Yeah, your soul is kind of like your heart.
I don't have a soul.
Everybody else does. You do, Tank does, but I don't.
Of course you do, dear. Everybody has a soul. You're born with it.
Well, mine is missing.

And then, in a final desperate bid to floor me completely:

Life just isn't true without God, Mom.
Well, we already decided that God is real, and this? This right here? This is true. This is as true as it gets.

And it really was. I have no idea if anything I said made any sense to her, or if she feels any better about it at all, but she's in there sleeping, and now I'm awake, wondering what to do about this, what to tell her, how to tell her. Sometimes, it's not about the winning. It's about just getting by without causing any trauma.

*Resisted the urge to spend nonexistent cash on pizza for dinner, just because the Bear wanted it? Check.
Made dinner with existing supplies instead? Check.
Washed dishes? Check.
Took out the trash? Check.
Unpacked suitcases? Check.
Did laundry**? Check.
Assisted with pumpkin-cutting homework project? Check.
Bathed both children? Check.
Successfully got the Tank to sleep in record time? Check.

**Although, technically, since it was the Bear's blanket and pillow for preschool, which I forgot today, I should get a check-minus.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I WIN!!!!

Ah, the thrill of victory. Tonight, as I was providing a compulsory snuggle to the girls (a full hour after bedtime, mind you), the Bear comes out with this one:

Mommy, I like it here BEST. We don't have to move in and out all the time, and all of our, you know, stuff is here, and things. And you live here. Mommy, I Never Want To Move.

And there you have it, Internets: proof positive that the kids prefer my house to Daddy's. I win. Game over. Case closed. I am the undisputed victor here.

Somewhere, "We Are The Champions" plays softly in the background.

*Yes, it is a bittersweet victory, since this conversation led directly into the "if we moved, how would Daddy know where to find us? what if we never saw him again?" conversation, which sucked, and which I deftly steered us away from. But still. I am cooler than Dad. I was never cooler than Dad when we actually lived together. Hell, he bought them shiny purple shoes, which, admittedly, rock, and I am Still Cooler. I win, and he will just have to suck it. The End.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Will Cut You, Bitch

Yes, Emily, I am talking to you. And your little homie, Cynthia. Never again will I be able to hear these names without grinding my teeth. It's like that part in Anne of Green Gables when Diana says she used to think Josie and Gertie were nice names until she met the Pye sisters. Sorry if that totally lost you.

This morning, in the car, on the way to preschool, after dropping off the Tank, the Bear and I are talking. We use our car time for chatting. She says, randomly:

Emily is tired of my blue shoes.


Prodded further, she produced this:

Emily said, 'I'm so tired of seeing you in those blue shoes every day. Why do you wear the same shoes all the time?"


It is on, bitch.* You better not let me catch you on the playground. And if I meet your mother? Oh, the gloves are coming off. That woman should have taught you some manners. And possibly spanked you more.

There you have it. A classmate made fun of my kid for only owning one pair of shoes. A perfectly nice, serviceable pair of shoes, which she picked out herself, especially for preschool. I am of the less is more school of parenting, because a) they're just going to grow out of it in 3 months, and b) they're going to destroy it before it gets grown out of anyway. Seriously. But the reason the Bear only has that one pair of shoes to wear to school is that I can't afford to buy her more than that. I'm sure some kids have pairs and pairs of school shoes and play shoes and dressy shoes and whatnot. Not mine. They each spent the entire summer in a $5 pair of fake crocs, and are now comfortably ensconced in their school shoes. We'll probably add some boots for winter snow/rain/ickyness, etc. when grandma comes next weekend. Grandma is always good for shoe shopping. But still. There is no buying superfluous things like a second pair of shoes when you already have a pair that works just fine?

Hell, I'm on my second year in this particular pair of school shoes. I wear them every day. They look fine. They smell like... feet. Oh, well. Odor Eaters are much cheaper than new shoes. Maybe next year, if the tax refund fairy is good to me, I'll get a new pair.

*Yes, I realize I am calling a four-year-old a bitch. She insulted my child. Get over it.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Yeah, you!

I hereby challenge you to a round of the Presidential Debate Drinking Game! Only, when it says "shot," I'm taking "sip." Otherwise, I'd die. And be drunk. I figure I can finish my glass easily, even so.

I made a ginormous pot of chicken soup, two loaves of pumpkin bread, and gave the girls a bath. It's 8:00 and all's quiet on my western front. I can play in good conscience. You up for it?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Hard Stuff

The first night back after a weekend with Dad* is really hard. The girls have a rough time of it, trying to readjust. The sadness is very close to the surface, and the minute the lights go out and the covers go up, the tears come. In the past, it's been mostly the Bear who has a hard time, but this time Tank decided to join forces with her. They are both crying, now, calling out for Daddy. The Bear is still the worst - pounding on the door to get out and "chase him." Coming out with classic lines like "Life just isn't worth it. It hurts too bad," and "I hope Daddy still loves me." Those are always fun.

I try very hard to be calm and reasonable with them when it gets like this. It's okay to cry and feel angry, I tell them. Life's not fair. It never will be. We need to accept that and live with it, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt, or that we have to like it. I took the Bear out of the apartment so she could stomp her feet in anger without making the neighbors angry in turn. Her idea, but I thought it was a pretty good one. But it's just so hard to watch them be in pain, and to know that it's at least partially my doing, and I can't fix it. I think that's the worst part - knowing your child hurts and there's nothing you can do about it.

I'm trying very hard to appreciate every minute I have with the girls, not to be annoyed or frustrated because they're small and life is hard right now. But my first response to situations like this is to block out the pain, block out everything, and I don't want to do that here. This is part of life - part of the path I chose for us. I can't block out the pain - it's something we have to feel and work through to come out on the other side as better, stronger people. But if I could take the pain for those kids, if I could feel all the loss and confusion and abandonment for them, I would do it in a heartbeat. Life will not always be kind to them, I know, but at least now, while they're so young and delicate, I want to spare them this. And I can't, and that hurts me in ways that I never thought possible.

You always want better for your kids than you had for yourself, and yet here I am, exposing them to all kinds of heartache at an age when I didn't even know what divorce was. Sometimes I find it very hard to convince myself that living with a single mom will be better for them in the long run than living in a house with two dysfunctional parents. I know in my head that it will be better, have heard it confirmed by a thousand people, but looking at them, at the naked pain in their eyes, makes it hard to remember why we're doing this to them in the first place. I just have to trust that I am doing the right thing for them, right now.

*Mostly Grandma, but *technically* Dad.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Jesus Mary and Good Saint Joseph

Am I ever tired of reading/hearing/seeing/thinking about Sarah Palin. Or John McCain. Or Joe Biden. Truly, I have gotten at least 75 forwarded emails in the past week or two containing diatribes against Republicans, links to articles proving what soulless immoral puppykillers they are, polls, votes, and surveys you can take and see how much the rest of America hates the Republicans, etc. etc. ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

I am going to crawl under a rock until the election is over. And, if the results aren't pleasing to my little socialist self, I will stay under that rock for the next four years.

None of these people are telling the full truth. They're all panderers of the worst sort, and I am sick to death of listening to them spout their bullshit all over the news media. I have become (become? have always been?) so disillusioned with American politics as usual that I could just spit.

These people do not represent me, or my concerns, or my needs. They don't care about me, and I don't have time in my life to spare for them. They are incompetent bunglers, all of them. Gah.

**And yet I'm watching the debate. And Sarah Palin just pronounced it nook-u-ler. I have sixth graders who speak more clearly than her.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fabulous Monkey Tub Action

So last time the girls spent a weekend with their dad they came home with a Curious George DVD. No real issues there. We're sitting here on the couch, watching it together, and the phrase "fabulous monkey tub action" just made an appearance.

I don't know if I can, in good conscience, let my kids watch something that sounds like monkey porn. I'm a little creeped out.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Not so much

Oh, folks. Things here are going... not so well.

I think it's been about six months since I went off my meds. I could be wrong. I could go check. I'm too lazy. Give or take, six months.

I've started yelling again. I'm not really sure where it comes from. Somewhere deep in my brain that I'm not consciously aware of. I can maintain calm for a finite amount of time, and then...

I snap. I yell. I say things that, if they ever remember them, will make my kids feel like shit.

I've started to get that feeling, where the outer shell and the inner being are disconnected. Most of the time the shell is intact. Things get accomplished. Dinner is made, laundry done, phone calls returned. Moderate-to-good parenting takes place. I read bedtime stories. I teach the Bear how to skip.*

But underneath, the hate and the anger are just simmering, seething, waiting for any excuse to erupt. It's like a solar flare - brief, violent, intense, then gone.

I remember this feeling. I've been feeling like this for, oh, I don't even know how long now. Years. A decade? Maybe two. I can't feel connected to anyone in any human way. I'm entirely alone in the Universe, and sometimes it's too much to take.

Along with the anger comes a decided lack of impulse control. I mean, NO impulse control.

Exhibit A. I just threw away my cat. Not into the trash can, obviously, because that's highly impractical. Into the street. She bit the Bear. I'm tired of listening to the Bear cry when the cat torments her. I would get arrested for throwing a human child into the street. Not so with a cat. So, cat is gone.

I want to be happy. I do. I see things that I think should make me happy. Turning leaves. Smiling children. Tomorrow is the Fall Festival at the Bear's school, which I have been informed we must attend. Games! and Prizes! Games And Prizes! It looks like fun, or something that passes for fun when you're four. The school is sponsoring a pumpkin decorating night - we'll go to that in a few weeks. Free! I'm going to a conference that promises to kick ass - for like four days! Free! My mother is going to come for a visit - yay! The New Guy is coming for a visit - also yay! But really, much as I know I should be made happy by these wonderful things, I'm not. I can't be.

I think my soul is dead. Try as I do, I can't feel anything but pain.

Good god, that sounds melancholy. I swear I'm not being overly dramatic on purpose. I hate that shit.

*Did you know that children don't innately know how to skip? They must be taught. I, myself, was six years old before I put the right sequence of motions together. The Bear, it seems, is my child.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Don't worry

Why is it that the parenting things you worry about seem to come in threes? Just like all the other bad shit in your life?

A) There is, by all accounts, a not-very-nice little girl at the Bear's preschool. Two of them, really. Tiny little four-year-old bitches. Last week, they wouldn't let the Bear play with them because she had the wrong color of hair. (!) Then, today, Little Miss Emily* wouldn't let the Bear play Ring Around the Rosie with her and Cynthia. The Teacher had to tell Emily to be nice (!) to the Bear. While I'm glad that the teacher has a good grasp of the situation and is reminding these little shits to play nicely, and while the Bear is completely unperturbed by all of this, and has her own little group of nice, sweet girl friends (god bless Nikole with a K!), and while I know as a teacher that this is just part of the growing up process, I am just. furious. In my heart of hearts, I would love to protect the Bear from all the unpleasantness of life, and I can't, and it just kills me. Somewhere out there, little Emilys and Cynthias are being MEAN. To my BABY. That's so not cool.

2) The Bear failed her hearing test at the doctor's today. We've known for almost a year now that she doesn't hear very well, and place the blame squarely on the 50 or so ear infections she's had**, but it still gives me visions of little tiny hearing aids, and mama don't like that very much.

C) The Bear has been talking to her Head lately. Out loud. She'll say, "Head! Stop bothering me! I don't want to listen to you!" and discuss at length with me the things that her Head is telling her to do/think/say/feel. Given my family history of mental instability, I'm convinced that I have a schizophrenic preschooler running around here. Is she or is she not hearing voices? I can't tell.

*You'll never know if that's her real name or not...

**I'm not even exaggerating here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Taking a break

I'm a socialist! Thanks, Amy!

You are a

Social Liberal
(65% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(10% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also : The OkCupid Dating Persona Test


I try very hard not to make fun of the mistakes my students make, even though it's incredibly tempting. But sometimes, you just have to share with *someone*. When a student mistakes a P for a V and ends up saying that her chores include cleaning up her Volvo, instead of dusting her room, it's just too funny not to laugh!

On second thought, reading that here, it's just not as funny as it seemed on paper. Perhaps it's time to take a break from grading...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle

Gentle Reader, I have, in the past few months, er, years, said some less than flattering things about my soon-to-be-ex-husband. And I stand by many, though not all, of them.

None of that matters tonight. On the merest whiff of suggestion from me, he independently arranged for the kids to go to his parents' house this weekend, thereby freeing my schedule for 48 whole hours, whereby I am free to indulge this godawful head cold* in blessed, merciful solitude.

Plus! He offered to take them winter clothes shopping, of his own volition. Because he Wants To!

Somewhere in my head, that White Stripes song about how You and I Are Gonna Be Friends is playing. I would smile if I didn't feel as though my sinuses would implode. I'm smiling on the inside.

*Thank you, seventh grade boys, for coming to school sick even when you should be home in bed, thus infecting EVERYONE ELSE IN THE ENTIRE FREAKING BUILDING, HOLY SHIT. TAKE SOME ECHINACEA ALREADY. AND WASH YOUR DAMN FILTHY LITTLE HANDS.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

When it rains...

First, may I just point out that it's been raining here since Friday, and it's not supposed to stop until Tuesday, and that we are tired of the rain, please?

Things here are incredibly complicated at the moment. I have no clue what I'm doing, I think. Teh Ex is being incredibly difficult and rather sweet by turns, and I couldn't figure it out for the longest time, until I finally caught on that he still thinks about me, ahem, That Way, and that since he can't have at me, That Way, he's taking his frustrations out verbally. Weird. I mean, now that I know, it makes it easier to understand, but not easier to deal with. We are trying to be friends, but working out the parameters of friendship with your ex after a divorce is just tough. People go from being friends to spouses almost too easily, but going back in the opposite direction takes finesse. We're still working on that part.

Then, The New Guy has made admission that he is, in fact, pretty much crazy about me, which is lovely and flattering and great, but I'm not sure how to explain to him that while I like him quite a bit, I'm not quite *there* yet. I'm slower, more cautious. I have to be. And I need to find a tactful way to explain this to him, without somehow invalidating the feelings he's shared. I'm not saying that I might not end up in the same place as him; I'm just feeling a little insecure about going there right now.

So, I have this bizarre balancing act going on, and trying to maintain balance without tumbling over the precipice on either side is way taxing. Especially when I'm more concerned with making sure that the kids come through this entire thing relatively unscathed, or as unscathed as it is possible to be when Mommy and Daddy don't love each other any more and decide to rip your entire world into pieces and patch them back together in a way that's not entirely pleasing to anyone involved.

I must say, I like being a single parent. I like the autonomy. I like the unquestioned authority. Nobody to haggle with over the Rules, how to do things, etc. It's all My Way, all the way. But the constant, 24/7 demands on my time are a real drain. I would love to have someone around to hand the kids off to for an hour, just an hour, so I could go sit in a quiet corner and just think. Or read. Or be. Or something. Something quiet. And it's not like I'm missing something I had so great, because Teh Ex was rarely home, and when he was, I still wasn't getting much of a break. I just wish I had help, sometimes. The kids are very small still, and very labor-intensive. I need some Me-Time, time to recharge or relax or whatever it is people do when they get a break from their children.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Well, for fuck's sake! How long should it take the average person, upon realizing that Blogger has done another stupid shitty upgrade which is completely incompatible with Safari, to realize that they can just break down and start using Firefox like the rest of the universe?

A) shut up.
B) the fine folks at Blogger can blow me. seriously.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Howdy Neighbor!

Dear New Neighbors -

Hey there! Have I mentioned how much I *love* living in your neighborhood? The kids! The families! The parks! The diversity! The unrestricted street parking! It's idyllic city living at its finest.

Say, that block party you're having looks like a boatload of fun! That makes, what, three in the last two months? I find the way you block off the street access with your cars at least once a week to be charming, a throwback to a simpler time, when kids ran wild and unsupervised through the neighbors' lawns, and fire hydrants sprayed the masses with welcome cool showers. Just like today!

In fact, one of my favorite summer staples is the off-season illegal fireworks display. Nothing lights up the night like those whistling, cracking, flashing powder-packed kegs of old-fashioned goodness, am I right? How great to stand at my bedroom window and be treated to a FREE! full-on fireworks display. Again, l-o-v-ing being your neighbor!

I am so, so sorry that I had to call the cops on you tonight. If only you had started your rockin' fireworks production BEFORE I put my two girls to bed! Hell, on a weekend, I might have even let them stay up to watch! But... tomorrow is the first day of school, after all, and I have to go back to work, too, and if they wake up One! More! Time! I may just have to slit my wrists, sooooo...

Yeah. Again, so sorry to have busted up your super-cool block party and all that. I really do love the fireworks! And you! And your charming neighborhood!

Please don't slash my tires.


Friday, August 22, 2008

duct tape and bailing wire

So, yeah, I'm just barely holding it together over here. Folks who know me will tell you* that I am a fairly organized person. Coworkers especially would say that I tend toward the anal side of the organizational spectrum. Annoyingly so, even.

But this summer, I've somehow lost my shit. I am completely unprepared. Totally disorganized. Borderline negligent, I would say.

The kids both go back to school** on Monday. They both need the requisite state-mandated health/physical forms filled out before they can be admitted. I know this. I have known this for, oh, I don't know. A while. A month, at least.

Now, since we've moved, I had to find a new pediatrician for the girls. It's August. In the city. 999,997 other children also need their school forms filled out. And they all have mothers who made appointments for them in oh, say, May. I called on the first Monday in August, and the first time I could get two "initial patient" visits (since we're new to the practice) back-to-back was on SEPTEMBER TWENTY-SECOND.

I know.

So, with that scheduled, I sort of forgot about the fact that, hey, the kids can't actually go to school without these forms filled out. Details.

Very long story short, I just figured out yesterday that we were totally fucked, and tried to get the girls in to their old doctor in our old town, just for expediency's sake, only to learn that we have $700.00 in unpaid medical bills at that particular office, all due to a stupid insurance snafu. Like they'd schedule me an appointment, much less two! Much less within 24 hours!

Skip ahead a few chapters, and the girls are duly examined, only to discover that portions of their shot records have been misplaced. Not the whole things, mind you, just portions. They've had at least five separate pediatricians in the last four years, and no place since the first has had a complete set of records. They just don't exist. And you can never get one place to send things to a different place, or to you, and nobody ever communicates, and I'm fairly certain that somewhere in there I dropped the ball, for not insisting that records be sent, for not keeping copies for myself, something. But their new pediatrician will never know their complete histories, be certain of their full vaccinations, nothing. Ever. And that's my fault.

So I went to a *different* office, and got the records that they had, and so now the girls have sheets that look like shot records, even though they are woefully incomplete. Hopefully they'll be enough to put off the DCFS people until we can get records from two pediatricians ago. Which they won't even fax to me. The Mother. Of the Patients. I could pick them up in person, of course. It's only 500 miles! Whatever.

And then, of course, last night we had the Bear's Preschool Orientation. Seriously. And I had received a letter, in the mail, from the teacher, with a supply list, which I dutifully filed away for later. Two hours before the meeting, I pulled out the letter, only to see that all supplies were supposed to be brought along to orientation. Oops. So, super-quick, we dashed off to Target for her supplies. Last-minute and half-assed, just like everything else I've done lately.

So, I think I have all the necessary forms, maybe, or parts of them, and the things that they need, sort of, and when I read this, it doesn't sound all that awful, but I think what's wrong is that I just can't quite cope with it. I feel so overwhelmed.

On top of all that, Soon-To-Be-Ex-Husband and I have been randomly talking about postponing the finalization of our divorce, and possibly hanging out a bit, maybe going on a date. We miss each other. I think. I miss him, I know. I think. It's all incredibly confusing, and the range of emotions that it's bringing out is truly dizzying. I have no idea what to think, and I hate to get my hopes up, and I don't even know if I should get my hopes up, or if it's something that I'm even hoping for. I have no idea, at all. None.

Plus, I spent last weekend having mediocre sex with a friend, which only served to reinforce to me that A) I miss STBE-Husband, and B) I'm maybe not as ready to move on as I thought I was. Ugh. Yet, at the same time, it's nice to have someone to talk to, to take the edge off the loneliness, to make you feel human, even a little bit.

And I have raging PMS this week, which makes me tired and out of sorts, and indecisive, and a host of other unpleasant things. And I started my period, sort of, and then it stopped, which weirds me out, because A) I just want to get it over with already, 2) I always feel better after it actually starts, and C) what if it doesn't actually come? What if, heaven forfend, something really stupid has happened to me? Given as out of it as I've been lately, it would be in complete keeping with the rest of my life. So, that's weighing on my mind as well, which is just adding to the mental stupor I've been feeling.

Then there's:

anxiety about the Bear starting preschool
worries about money
the fact that I'm not ready for my own school year to start on Monday

and a host of other stupid piddling shit to worry about. My mind is fried. I feel like the World's Worst Mother Ever. It's a wonder we're all clothed and fed around here. And that, only barely. Good lord. I am hanging onto my sanity with a wish and a prayer over here. What a freaking mess.

*with accompanying eye rolls

**what we call "school" is really Pre-K and/or Lady Down the Street with a Daycare in her Basement. You know. School.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

this is just to say

that I have received
a few

asking where i've been

be not alarmed, gentle reader

the free wireless connection
which i hijacked
from my neighbors

was untimely ripped from me
but now i have


Am working on a few longer posts, about the perils of dating after divorce, being poor, proper playground etiquette, and a few other ramblings. When I get time.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Feeding Frenzy

I have a confession to make.

I hate feeding my children. I hate it. Of all parental duties, it has got to be the worst. I'm kind of picky about what I feed them, and it always just seems to take a million years to prepare food that they will either A) demolish in five minutes or B) eat two bites of and decide they don't want. Then there's the cleanup, which is always intensive when one has a Tank, and then five minutes later? "I'm huuuunnnngry!"

I would estimate that, in an average 13-hour waking day, I probably spend at least four of those hours doing something that deals with food. That's approximately 30% of my day. It's just all so time-consuming and messy and tedious and repetitive.

Before I had kids, I used to love to cook. I would cook every chance I got. I would have done it all the time. I would spend hours lovingly preparing meals, etc. Now? Such a freaking chore. I hate it. I wish I could hire a personal chef just to feed the kids.

What's your least favorite part of parenting?

Monday, August 04, 2008

Getting by

So, we're officially home now from all vacations and wanderings for the summer. It's nice to be back, but somehow the house that was clean when we left is now a complete pigsty, and I'm feeling a little overwhelmed with all the mountains of crap that need doing right now. I'm not quite sure where to start or how to proceed, really. I've made lists, and I'm crossing things off, which makes me feel good, but I'm not seeing the kind of progress I'd like to, which is frustrating.

I can't tell how much of this stupid crap is moving-related, how much is divorce-related, and how much is just the result of having two kids. Some days, just the mere act of keeping both of them clean, fed, and happy seems like a herculean task. My life is an endless cycle of dishes, laundry, meals, and disputes over the sharing of small bits of plastic. I sometimes feel like I'll never manage to accomplish anything beyond the bare minimum of daily survival. I suppose I am. Today, for instance, I:

went to the Post Office to buy stamps and mail bills
went to the grocery store for some milk and other essentials
called and visited a new daycare option for the Tank
filled out all the requisite forms for her to start in three weeks
located a reputable pediatrics practice and set up initial appointments for both girls
called the Bear's preschool to admit I'd lost the first set of forms they gave me
pulled out my school computer to check a student's grade from last year
emailed his mom explaining why he earned a C+ and not the B- she expected
maintained an extensive email dialogue with my ex about money, visitation, etc.
fixed a nutritious breakfast, lunch, and morning snack

So, yeah, now that you look at it, I've done *things*, it's just that none of it shows immediate results. None of the things I've done today have found homes for all the random crap still lying around my apartment, or picked up the toys on the floor, or involved me getting a shower. It's just a constant uphill battle just to maintain the status quo, it seems.

It just occurred to me that perhaps this is all due to summer vacation. I'm not used to having the kids home 24/7, or to being home 24/7 myself, and it's a little strenuous. Duh. That must be it. I've been reliably informed that single parenting has its ups and downs, but I'm feeling like I'm in a bit of a down right now... this is all a lot to take.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Well, *that* was fun

So, tonight Husband (I *really* need to think of something else to call him, don't I?) and I had The Talk with the girls. The one about how no, Daddy isn't coming to live with us in our new mapartment*. No, not ever. And surprisingly enough, the talk went great. Hell, the whole day was good.

He was late. He's always late. If he for once in his life showed up on time to something, I might very well soil myself. So, whatever. He was late. I'm used to it. If that's the worst that happens...

We had lunch. He looked at my electrical problems. We sorted out our needs re: child support and custody, etc. He played with the girls. We debated having sex. I made a fucking pot roast, for pity's sake. We had the talk, the kids were cool. It was great.

And then? Departure time. The Bear was literally in hysterics for an hour. I had to beg her not to shriek all the way upstairs to our apartment so that the neighbors wouldn't start gossiping. They're nosy like that. So we sat on the couch and cried. And cried. She cried. I cried because she was crying. She sobbed. She hyperventilated. She wailed. She howled. She practically tried to hurl herself out the window.

It was the most gut-wrenching experience. I felt so powerless. She was hurt and confused and sad, and there was nothing that I could to do fix it**. I hated myself in that moment for doing this to her, to our whole family.

Then, later, as I sat on the floor of my kitchen, in the dark, drinking warm beer***, talking to a fellow divorced friend, I found myself saying that I think Tank really has it easier here. She's two. She cried because The Bear cried, and stopped after about 5 minutes. She is so young, she'll never remember a time when we all four lived together. And then I realized: she'll never remember a time when we all four lived together. How fucking unbelievably shitty. There are no words for how wretched that makes me feel.

So, yeah. I guess this is how it is from here on out. I hope to hell this gets easier. Otherwise I'm going to have to start keeping the beer in the freezer.

*A Tank-ism. Everything starts with M. The apartment is a Mapartment, the remote is a Memote, etc... Very cute if you actually see it. Sounds pretty stupid otherwise.

**We settled on a late-night showing of Aladdin, a big bowl of popcorn, and a tall glass of lemonade. And an extended bedtime. Cause I'm a sap.

***My refrigerator is on the fritz. It steadfastly clings to the 50 degree mark, spoiling any and all perishable foods in days, and reducing my perfectly good beer to... well, you know what they say about warm beer.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Internet, it is *so* frustrating to have something to talk about, that you can't actually *talk* about!

As I age, I'm trying to learn a modicum of discretion - a quality not abundant in my past, I'll admit. But damned if it's not the hardest thing in the known universe to do! I like to gossip. I love it. And to have juicy tidbits that can't be shared? Possibly the most frustrating sensation I know. Being good is *boring*, people.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Not dead or gone, just very busy, and not always connected to the Internet.

Do you have any idea how hard it is not to have the Internet? I just moved, and I didn't have my Internet service set up right away, and then the day they were supposed to come, ComEd shut off the power in my building. all. damn. day. So, no service that day. Then, I left for a few weeks and I was all, like, why pay for three weeks of service when I won't even be home? I'll just get it turned on when I come back. So, I was Internet-less for many a day, plus on the road, driving all over hell and creation with the kids in the backseat, visiting various family groups, which was nice, but none of whom have the Internet connection I've become so accustomed to.

So, while moving, I was all, let's order a pizza! Now, I have no phone book with yellow pages yet to look up the number, but that's never stopped me before. I've always had the Internet. I hardly ever even use the phone book - quicker to look it up! But no, I had no phone book, no Internet - I was literally powerless to do ANYTHING! I had to go ask the downstairs neighbors* to borrow THEIR phone book, and they were all, phone book? We don't even have one. But we do have the Internet! So they kindly offered to google the place for me to get a phone number. So nice! Click, click, done!

Then, I wanted to visit this store a friend had told me about. I couldn't remember where she had said it was - on this one street, kind of over there, by some other stuff. So helpful. Ordinarily, I would just google it. But no, no such luck. I had to go to the store I could find, which was not the one I really wanted to go to at all, all because I had no Internet. And also no phone book.

Enough whining. I'll get it turned on when I go home, along with the gas so that I can cook on my stove, which I misremembered as being electric, which is why I never called the gas man. And then, again, I was all, why turn it on when I'm just leaving? I'll do it when I come back. So we ate only microwaveable foods for the week we were there. Shut up.

So, things are chugging along as usual. Divorce proceedings are... proceeding. Summer vacation is flying - I have no idea where the time has gone. Kids are growing like weeds - every day they come up with some new antic that just has me rolling on the floor. Those two are turning into friends on top of being sisters. It's really nice to watch. They're ridiculous, but in a really sweet way.

And I? I'm actually doing really well, all things considered. I like my new home, I love my job, the kids and I are a happy little family of three, and I've finally gotten to Acceptance. I'm okay with divorce and single parenthood and all that it entails. It won't be fun, and it won't be easy, but most of life is like that, at least in my experience. Why should this be any different?

*Very nice people. She came up to introduce herself on the day we moved in, and was very sweet in offers of help, etc. I like her. Her husband? Kind of an ass, it seems, which is a shame.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Today I took off my wedding ring. And put it in a box. On a high shelf.

Yes, I know that technically we are still married, but when your husband says things like, "Perhaps we should have never gotten married in the first place. Maybe that was our real mistake," then I think it's totally justified.* It's obvious that we're not going to be married for much longer, and that the emotional, intimate aspect of our marriage has already gone down the shitter, even if the legal side persists. So why mislead the general public, or myself, about my status?

When we decided to separate, I moved my engagement ring to the other hand and left the wedding ring where it was. It was a fitting symbol, I thought, to separate the two parts. When things took a turn for the worse, I took off the engagement ring for good (same box, same shelf) but left the plain wedding ring in place. It was a kind of grim statement about my commitment to this whole thing. Yesterday, I went out and bought myself a nice big chunky wavy silver ring, just so I didn't have naked hands. I need something to fiddle with when I get nervous. It's cute, but it's been years since I've worn something without platinum and diamonds, and it's a little odd. I think I kind of like it.

I wish I had not hidden my camera somewhere inconvenient so that I could take a picture of the smooth, untanned skin that was under my ring, and now sticks out like some glaring beacon - Hey, look at me! Newly single! You can still see the indent left from my wedding ring! Point it out and I just may cry all over you... Awkward!!

I am keeping the ring, rather than pawning it, even though it would probably pay off my MasterCard, because my mother has a very similar looking ring that she inherited from my great-aunt, and when I die, the girls will each get one and nobody will have to fight over who gets Mom's ring. We are nothing if not practical.

*FWIW**, that quote is taken completely out of context from a much longer email in which he actually said a few relevant, not-hurtful things. Credit to whom credit is due.

**That means "for what it's worth," dear. :)

Monday, June 16, 2008


Jesus God, if I was 16 again I would be posting angsty lyrics on my MySpace and analyzing them to smithereens.

But now, since I'm a grown-up and all, I can calmly sit back and realize that I'm going through the various stages of grief. How many are there these days? 5? 7? 42?

Most of the time, I can clearly identify which stage I'm in. At the moment. Some days, it seems like I'm going through all seven stages at the same. damn. time. Like tonight, for instance.

At the moment, I'm straddling six of the seven:

Shock - the complete paralysis of disbelief? Gotcha.

Denial? Puh-leeze. This shit only happens to *other* people.

Anger? Boy-fucking-howdy, let me tell you about the anger. Barely contained fury is more like it.

Bargaining? I think Husband could attest to that. Tonight's premium offer? "What if I promise to *act* happy all the time?" No takers? Seriously? Bueller?

Depression? Are you kidding me? Isn't that what got me here in the first place?

Testing? Looking at Every. Possible. Solution. (except the obvious one, of course). I'm on it.

Somehow I'm managing to sit in all six at once. A feat of emotional gymnastics, if you will. I am an Emotional Olympian.* The only one I'm missing, the ever-elusive Antarctica of grief stages?


Nowhere near. Can't even imagine it. Sometimes, when I'm leaning more toward Depression rather than, say, Denial, I can see that, yeah, sure, this is probably the End. But just because I can see the End doesn't mean that I have managed to Accept it yet. I don't want to accept it. Plain and simple. I don't want to accept that this is the end of my marriage. That this is how my life is meant to turn out. In my head are a million mantras and catchy sayings and, it should go without saying, song lyrics about moving on, picking oneself up and dusting oneself off, putting back together the shattered pieces of ones' entire world. But none of those are making it from my head to my heart.** Because I don't want to. Is there a secret eighth stage devoted to sheer pig-headedness? I'm there. And I'm not leaving. And you can't make me.***

And then, miraculously, someone small comes running in and dives into bed next to me, and as she does a faceplant to the mattress, all limbs flailing, I hear her whisper under her breath:

"Kung Fu Panda!"

And that's when I know I'll be all right.

*There's a Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding joke waiting to be made here. Go for it. I left my sense of humor back in Shock.
**Good Lord, that was trite. Feel free to click away now. I am, too.
***And if you had a webcam, you'd see me crossing my arms and sticking out my tongue at you.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


In a conversation with Husband earlier tonight, he said something that really got to me. He said that he could never really understand my depression.

And I didn't have anything to say to that.

Unless it's something that you live with 24/7, inside your own head, I don't think that you really *can* understand it. And that's okay. It's to be expected. I don't understand what it feels like to be dying of cancer. I know that it must really suck - I know that there are probably fear and anger and uncertainty and pain and incredible sadness. But that's all conjecture. I don't know, because I don't have to live it.

But I think that, if I needed to, I could probably empathize with someone who *was* living it. If I was put into close contact with someone living daily with a terrible disease, I'd like to hope that I would be able to *try* to understand what that person was going through, to realize that I *can't* understand, and to be there for that person anyway.

Of course, I might not be able to. Much as I'd like to think that I could, chances are that, in the moment, I'd be too selfish, too distracted, too frustrated to come through for that person. It's human nature - the spirit is willing, yada yada...

And so I can see how easy it is for him not to understand my depression. I understand, even, how hard it must be for him. But where I get hung up is this:

If I was put into a situation in which I wanted to understand someone's pain, but couldn't, and I tried to empathize, but failed, I don't think that I would have the balls, EVER, to blame my failure to understand or empathize on the person who was sick.

Hey, Joe, you're dying, and that sucks, but you have to stop bringing the rest of us down all the time! *We're* not sick, ergo why should *we* be bothered with all the doom and gloom? It's really starting to piss us off!

And, in effect, that's what he's done. He doesn't understand my depression, but somehow, that's not his fault, it's MINE. And I don't buy that. I don't care if he "gets it" or not - I just want him to *try*, to realize that maybe he can't understand, and figure out that it's okay.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

BadMommy comes back

Things here have been going pretty well lately, or so I thought. But today, all my hard-fought-for self-control went straight out the window.

It all started at midnight. The girls have developed some sort of sudden virulent summer cold thing, and the snot and The Cough are back with a vengeance. So the two of them spent the entire night, both of them, in my bed. Awake. Coughing, sniffling, asking for kleenex, water, covers, etc. So, a good night's sleep was out of the question.

Oddly enough, when I woke up this morning, Tank wasn't wearing any pants. Or underwear. I swear she had them on when we went to sleep... nowhere to be found this morning. Until we went into the living room. Where she had apparently gone in the middle of the night, pulled out my whole bag of nail polish and files, etc., peed on the couch, taken of the wet pants and left them in the middle of the floor, and come back to bed, all without waking anyone up. In the pitch dark, mind you.

Then, too, we woke up a little later than I had hoped, and the time it took to breakfast, clean, shower, and get ready for the Bear's soccer game was really tight. Let's not get me started on how I feel about three-year-olds playing soccer. She hates it. I hate it. It was all my MIL's idea. She just stands there on the field looking miserable the whole time. Which pisses me off. So I sit there, steaming, the whole time, wishing we could just call it quits. It doesn't help that my in-laws are sitting next to me, calling out helpful things like, "Run, Bear!" "Go for the ball, Bear!" "Come on, Bear!" when it's painfully obvious that she doesn't want to do any of those things.

Then, too, I had made tentative plans yesterday with a newish friend from work. Nothing earth-shattering: a garage sale and a trip to the beach. I forgot, of course, about the game, inconveniently timed so as to conflict with the garage sale. I overlooked, too, the fact that the garage sale, while relatively close to my new apartment and work, is a million miles away from my current location. By the time the game was over, the kids were changed, and we were ready to go, we wouldn't have gotten there til noon, which is way past the prime of any good garage sale. Not to mention the price of gas and the thought of spending two hours in the car with Things One and Two. Not an appealing prospect. So, needless to say, I didn't get to go.

And the thing that really grated on me is that my friend was all about making tentative plans and seeing where the day led. Which is all fine and dandy for the single among us, but as any mom will tell you, it's all about the schedule. I can't do this whole freewheeling, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants stuff. I need concrete times and plans so that I can work around the girls' schedule. So I was frustrated by that, too, but it's not the kind of thing that you can explain to someone who doesn't live that kind of life, so I just backed out and left it at that.

And then my MIL is pissing me off in so many innumerable ways I can't even explain. It's like now that she knows we're leaving, she doesn't feel the need to hold back on what she really thinks about me. Which is obnoxious to the nth degree, even though I kind of get where she's coming from. That doesn't mean I don't want to give her a piece of my mind about 2348901 times a day, though.

And Husband has been traveling for work a lot lately. Like, A Lot. Like, they only let him come for three days at a time between trips. And it's going to last all summer. Not that it should bother me, since I won't be here, but it's still very frustrating in ways I can't quite explain. I miss him, and I'm lonely.

Whatever. That's a lot of lame excuses for the fact that I can't control my temper very well. And my kids are the ones who end up paying the price.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Sitting on opposite couches with matching laptops. I'm googling when I hear Husband muttering under his breath:

"...gently rub the tip and place it in the..."

He has a look of intense concentration on his face. I'm intrigued. "What?" I say.

"...gently rub the tip of the multimeter and place it in the sensor..."

"Electrician Porn!" I exclaim.

How can you give this up? Why would you want to?

I hate it when they're right

Someone* once said, "You can't go home again." The main idea there, of course, being that life is a one-way progression, and that as we learn and grow and change and age, it's impossible to go back to the place we came from. I mean, sure, people go home all the time. When I'm back in my old hometown, I drive by the house I grew up in to see what it looks like. The house is still there. It was home for many years. I can go there, but I can't go back to the way I was when I lived there. Life, once lived, cannot be un-lived.

I may have mentioned once or twice or a thousand times that Husband and I have a house. Our house.** The Albatross, as I like to call it in moments of affection. As of the first of July, our house will be the dwelling place of three single college boys. They will have wild parties in it. People will vomit off of my lovely wraparound porch. They will spill beer on my refinished hardwood floors and reheat stale pizza in my gourmet kitchen. They will shack up with sorority girls of questionable morality in my girls' pale yellow bedroom.

And I'm okay with that. I don't live there anymore. I will never live there again. Somebody ought to. Their rent will pay my mortgage, and enable me to pay my own rent. It's circular. Life moves that way.

As of the first of July, my girls and I will be the newest tenants in a small apartment building on the north side of Chicago. Two bedrooms and a bath, heat and water included, will be our domain. Four flights up, four flights down. Locks on every door. We will make our mark on our new space, decorating and arranging to suit our needs. We will dirty up the new bathtub, let milk sour in the new fridge, spend sleepless nights under this strange new roof.

I'm okay with this, too. It's a strange change, a strange set of circumstances. Most people go from renting to owning, not the other way round. I couldn't provide any landlord references but myself and Husband on my rental application. People look askance, but most are polite enough not to ask too many questions.

We leave one house, we enter another.*** People move everyday. We are not unique in this. We are not of the generation who grew old and died in the houses they were born in. We are nomads, wandering from house to house, relationship to relationship, city to city, looking for the one that's "just right."

I'm going home to pack soon, to sort through the things we want to keep, the things we want to get rid of, recycle, hand down, throw away. 1000 square feet of apartment doesn't hold 2200 square feet of house. We will pare down judiciously, taking only the things that we really want, really need. Everything else is expendable.

But even though I'm going home, to the place I own, our first house, Thomas Wolfe was right. I can return to the physical location, but I can't ever recapture that time in my life. Now that we've come to this place, where words like Separation and Divorce are bandied about as carelessly as Husband and Wife, Love and Hate, we can't go back to that place. To be fair, it wasn't that great a place to start with. In the time we lived there together, I had a baby and a nervous breakdown. When Husband lived there alone, after I left, he had an affair. There was fighting, a lot of fighting. There was no sleep, but lots of crying. But there was also hope, the underlying hope that if the kids would just get a little older, if a little more time would pass, if the bills would get paid, if the schedule would change, if he could only see, only understand, then things would get better. There was always this hope.

That hope, once lost, can't be regained. There are different kinds of hope, certainly, but that one is forever tied to our old home, the one that was Ours, not just Mine. It's not coming with me when I pack.

*i.e. everyone who feels the need to turn perfectly decent book titles into cliche phrases about life. See also "Things Fall Apart."

**It's a very very very fine house.

***Choosing, for the moment, to completely ignore the Transition Year spent here with my inlaws.