Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A good All Hallow's Eve to you...

Today was a good day. And I'll tell you why.

I woke up in a good mood - which is rare for me. ( I think it had something to do with actually getting to bed EARLY last night. I am NEVER in bed before 10:30 and last night I maaaaade it! ) Brad had the day off and succumbed to my pleas to join me, Penny, and Nate on our sojourn to the very-out-of-town chiropractor. I think he was mainly in it for the fun of riding along and going to Panera afterwards...but he ended up getting his back and neck crunched/adjusted and felt quite good afterwards! I was SO GLAD. He has had chronic neck pain for a long time and sort of learned to live with it...Hopefully this will help to make a difference.

And then, on to Panera. Oh, SO good. So delectable. So scrumptiously munchable. Why do people eat anywhere else? Why do they bother building Burger Kings when there is such food to be had at Panera?

We had so much fun with Nate and Penny... discussing strange things, like did Adam have canine teeth or a belly button...

....and it was a beautiful day.

One dark event of the day: My hands have been swelling and quite painfully stiff and sore in the mornings. I imagine it must be what arthritis feels like. I found that I could not take off my wedding and engagement rings this morning. I tried a couple different no avail, and with much great pain. I'm hoping that the swelling has gone down over the day and I'm going to go soak it in icewater and then put olive oil or vix vaporub or something on my finger in hopes of doing the trick...I do NOT want to have to cut these rings off my hands. It will be extremely odd not to wear them...

And Halloween was swell. Grandpa and I sat out on the front step and scattered candy to the great unwashed. It's been a warm evening and it was fun to be a part of the neighborhood festivities. ( Grandpa was afraid it would rain and ruin the kids' fun...No, Grandpa, we're in a severe drought. No rain in sight...) I'm always afraid we won't have enough candy so I hide it from Brad and we are stingy handing it out at first... and then we blossom into a spirit of largesse as the evening wears on.... and I feel bad about the kids who got scrimped on earlier. Oh well. Such are the economics of Halloween - the early bird does NOT always get the most candy. My pumpkin candles and the Jack O' Lantern are still out there burning away...and we still have candy... so come on by!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thoughts on motherhood

Last night I laid awake after midnight thinking about this child in my womb. I'm just intensely curious to know who this is. I know there are no guarantees in life and that often, things don't go as planned, but, barring tragedy or a glorious, awful End of the World sometime in the next fifty or sixty years, there is a good chance that this child will survive me. I will watch his birth, he will watch my death. If God wills it, modern medicine continues to advance, no plagues befall us, and my ancestors' long lives are any clue, I may well live to my late eighties and the family I have now will likely be the family that we are creating. The past and the future are hinging on the now. It's a bittersweet realization.

But back to this child...What is he going to be like? Will he be musical? Or tone deaf? Bookish? Athletic? Eccentric? Gregarious or shy? A bully or a target? Academically brilliant or struggling with learning disabilities? A businessman? A garbage man? An artist? What if I have nothing in common with him? What if he likes hockey? What unconscious expectations do I have of him which may be challenged? I suddenly had this frightening, random vision of my son - obsessed with quilting. Nothing against men who quilt but it's kind of ... unusual. I mean, what if he develops some sort of hobby that is socially unacceptable or in some way atypical- like quilting - and this is his passion, his dream...Will I encourage him to follow his strange dreams? Or what if he's really into something that he's BAD at? What if he wants to sing and even with singing lessons, he STINKS? Am I going to be the enabling, head-in-the-sand mother who sweetly and blindly encourages her little deluded teenage or adult child, saying, " You can do anything you set your mind to do...!" Or will I be a dream-crusher? Well, my guess is- I'll be a dream crusher, because I TOTALLY do NOT believe that you can do ANYthing you set your mind to do. I think that's a great big modern, warm-fuzzy lie. I'm sorry, but it's the cold, hard truth: usually there's some sort of luck and talent involved - not just sweaty determination. That's why there are concession speeches. That's why there are rejection letters. That's why there are tepid rounds of applause. Or boos. Yes- you can always try again, but sometimes some things are just NOT meant to be and that's okay; no amount of 'setting your mind' on something will conquer a contrary reality. Sadly, certain clueless individuals are BORN to inhabit a dual world; they have delusions of grandeur and dwell in mediocrity. I say, sometimes mediocrity is okay. Ditch the delusions of grandeur and accept who you are!

That all being said, what if this child becomes President of the United States? What if he wins the Nobel Prize? What if he writes multiple best-sellers? Becomes a billionaire? Discovers the cure for cancer? Invents the next revolutionary technology? Not that I'd love him more if he's successful by society's standards. I'm sure I'd be just as happy with a Sanitation Engineer for a son as I would a popular politician. Maybe I'd be HAPPIER with a garbageman for a son! I just like thinking about What IF?!

But the whole eccentric-quilter line of thinking led me to remember a song I heard on NPR several years ago on Mother's Day. I loved it so much that Brad looked it up for me and bought it/downloaded it...Let me share the lyrics with you...It's called, " I'm Forty Years Old, And I'm Living In My Mom's Garage" by the Austin Lounge Lizards. Never having listened to another thing they've done, I can't really vouch for them, but I found this song absolutely hilarious. To those of you who know what I mean, this song, to me, is what "Junkfood Junkie" and "The Yodeling Song" are to my father - a jewel that I must share.

40 Years Old and I'm Living In My Mom's Garage

She used to be the one who held me closest to her heart
We were like one person, but we've drifted far apart
Now when I need her most, she will not support me
And if I won't go quietly, she'll have to report me
She wants me to act like some middle-aged man
I used to think she knew me, but she can't understand
That it's hard to make a living doing watercolor and collage
That's why I'm forty years old and I'm living in my Mom's garage

My girlfriend's all but finished with her graduate degree
She always knows the questions when we're watching "Jeopardy"
There's a coffeehouse near campus where her work is on display
The critics from the weekly paper go there everyday
She's a true creative, which they cannot abide
So they compensate by being condescending and snide
They say her work's a mangled mess of macrame and mucilage
But they're all forty years old and they're living in their Mom's garage

Forty years old and I'm livin' in my Mom's ga
Forty years old and I'm livin' in my Mom's ga
Forty years old and I'm livin' in my Mom's garage

My hobbies are Godzilla movies, mountain biking, and triage
I've got to relax 'cause I get so stressed from this incessant negative barrage

Mom wakes me up, she needs the car, for what I can't say
She dresses up and goes out early almost every day
I try to explain that an artist needs his rest
At least 12 hours, so I can be my best
Now I'm outside sleeping under the hedge
But someday they'll recognize me as the genius with an edge
I'll meet with the New York elite, I'll be the Duke of Decoupage
With a carhole full of limos for my sycophantic entourage
Hey, at least I'm chasing something, even if it's only a mirage

But now I'm forty years old and I'm livin' in my Mom's ga
Forty years old and I'm livin' in my Mom's ga (sixty!)
Forty years old and I'm livin' in my Mom's garage

Now I'm forty years old and I'm livin' in my Mom's ga (seventy!)
Forty years old and I'm livin' in my Mom's ga (dead!)
Forty years old and I'm livin' in my Mom's garage

Now wasn't that utterly enjoyable? I admire any song writer who can successfully incorporate the words 'sycophantic entourage' into a song. That is just plain impressive.

But back to my child...the unknowns still tantalize and dazzle me.

Sorry- this post is too long. It was the lyrics' fault.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

This week's news bulletin

This week has been rather a busy one, with most mornings taken up with an appointment or meeting or somesuch thing which caused me to arise to greet the morning early. I say "greet" in a decidedly sarcastic tone, as this earlier rising brought with it the usual feelings of general resentment of the universe and grumpiness and the dawning realization that the horrible feeling of less sleep is one I should get used to. And then I thought about how I always tease Joshua when he is acting grouchy and say, "Are you Mr. Grumpypants?" which sometimes brings a reluctant smile to his face. So I started praying one line upon getting out of bed, "God, help me not to be Mr. Grumpypants today" and for some reason, saying that to God makes me smile inwardly just a LITTLE bit - but enough to put a small crack in the pall of gloom. Either that or I think about chocolate - and that helps too. But I'm afraid those little tricks will probably fall impotently by the wayside in the first weeks of taking care of an infant - I will have to be on the lookout for new strategies.

SO yes- back to this week being all busy and such. I went to a chiropractor on Wednesday morning with Nate and Penny. This lady was recommended first by the Adams' family, and then my father went to her, and then Nate and Penny...and now I have joined the bandwagon. Supposedly she is going to help prepare my back for labor and delivery. Anything that helps, sign me up! She's located at a bit of a distance, but the good part is that there's a Panera Bread right near her place...and I was SO excited to eat lunch there. But back to the chiropractor.

She's a very positive person and in fact, the first thing she said upon clapping eyes upon me was, "You're so BEAUTIFUL!" Yes- she is one of THOSE types. I was a little embarrassed but immediately I decided I liked this lady. But at the same time that I appreciated her positive outlook and was comforted by the things she was saying about how she knew I was going to have a good labor and delivery, my natural negativity and skepticism leapt to the fore. I was thinking," REALLY? Can I really believe this lady? How can she tell I'm going to have an "easy" time from looking at me and touching my back? What IS an easy delivery? An 8 on the pain scale, as opposed to a 10? How can she promise this to me so blithely? Well, perhaps it will be easy because I'm planning on drugging myself to the hilt...but will my hip bones being properly aligned really contribute to an easy birth?" Call me Doubting Claire. Sigh. But it was nice to be so swathed with reassurance, even if I doubted some of it. And I forgot how weird it feels to have your bones crunched into place; it's been a while since I've been to a chiropractor. My startled reaction was to laugh nervously at the crunching. And then afterwards, you feel like you want to wrap yourself in bubble wrap to make sure you don't undo the adjustment.

And then...on to Panera. MMMMM. A turkey artichoke panini awaited me and it was like meeting an old friend. Sigh. *sinks into blissful remembrance*

I also got my hair cut and restyled (!) this week. ( Thanks for the J.C. Penney coupon, Mom!) It was fun and I was happy with the results but it's always intimidating to me to go into a salon because they automatically make me feel like a cavewoman. ( I wait too long between visits and my hair grows into this gargantuan, wild mess.) " Me want hair looky nicer!" No, I've never colored my hair. Yes, I know I'm a martian. No, in fact, I've NEVER had success in making my hair look normal. ( Okay- I did not actually say that and that was not a question they asked me but that's how they make me feel.) I ended up spending WAY too much on hair product...Argh. So I swore off yardsaling for this week and cut back in spending on other areas of the budget. I didn't even get all the stuff she recommended! It amuses me because they always straighten my hair within an inch of its life and I end up not even looking like myself. And Brad doesn't like me with straight hair. Okay- he likes me - he just prefers the curly haired version of me. When I came home, he looked at me doubtfully and I assured him that I was really his wife. When I asked Philip what he thought of my new look, he went to his animals page and said, "Monkey." I died laughing - again. That boy is cracking me up more and more these days. I don't look that different - I just got a more layered look.

Oh yes, I've also been watching a great deal of the Red Sox recently. I figured this is probably a good way to inaugurate our son to the vicissitudes of his future favorite team - start from the womb. ( He has no choice in the matter. He WILL be a Red Sox fan. It is already in the blood coursing through his miniscule veins. It is part of his heritage. And his nursery is going to have a Red Sox theme - and he already has two Red Sox outfits.) I introduced his Uncle Andrew's famous saying to him on Tuesday night, " Good old Red Sox- stinkin' their hardest." But Thursday night made up for Tuesday night's downer. Hope springs eternal...or infernal, depending on how you look at it. Tonight we shall psyche ourselves up to be hopeful yet again.

That and I have an itchy pregnant belly. Weird. I didn't even know such a thing could happen.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Going to Jail and Not Collecting $200

Yesterday afternoon I went to a bridal shower with Penny. It was for Penny's boss, Teresa, who is getting married to Brad's former boss at Wolf - Nick. I can't remember the last time I went to a bridal shower- I think the last one might have been my own...Anyway- this was definitely a new experience for me because usually when I go to these kinds of shindigs, I know almost everyone there...This time I knew only two people- Penny and Teresa. It was a fun time, complete with bridal bingo - which I did not win- and another game where three of us ( Penny, myself and another girl) were chosen to be the guinea pigs/models/mannequins/brides and everyone on our teams had to bedeck us/dress us/swathe us in toilet paper with which to make us bridal outfits. Ah. Nothing like having three complete strangers getting up close and personal with you as they drape you with t.p. It was quite surreal and hilarious. But that wasn't the end of the bizarreness for the evening...

I think it was I who came up with the idea that since we were in the same town where Brad works, that we should swing by the jail and say hello. Fortunately, the bride-to-be knew where the jail was in relation to where we were ( Penny and I not being too familiar with this particular town) and led us straight to it on our way home. Brad came out to the lobby for a few minutes and we had a little visit...and then we left. As we got on the highway, my cell phone rang and it was Brad saying that his supervisor said that if we wanted, we could come in and get a tour because they weren't busy just then. Penny thought it was a great idea, ( and I did too) so we turned around and went back...probably the only people in the world who were excited to be going to jail.

It was a strange mixture of enjoyableness and weirded-out-ness to see his work world and meet some of the co-workers he talks about. Boy, I'm glad I am not in jail. It looked pretty depressing - but I guess that's the point. Why would they make an attractive jail? I think if I ever do go to jail, I'd fake insanity so I could get solitary...I don't think I could handle being in such close proximity to other people all the time.

So, all in all, it was a pretty interesting day.

Happy Us-Day, Stanley!

One year ago today, we got Stan at a yardsale. He's still often rambunctious, curious, and bitey but has mellowed enough to occasionally curl up on my lap, as he is doing now. How precious. Never having had a pet of my own before, I didn't quite know what to expect going into this experience. In spite of his many transgressions ( including the Great Waffle Debacle, The Repeated Scaling of The Christmas Tree, The Scratches on the Cabinets, the Holes in the Curtains, and The Many Scars I Bear in My Flesh As A Result of His Claws), I really, genuinely LOVE this cat and can't imagine life without him. Since we don't really know exactly when his birthday is, this is as good an occasion as any to celebrate him - so instead of a birthday, I call it an "us-day" because it's the day he came to us.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Philip Makes a Funny

This day has been one mad rush from one end to the other. But fortunately, I am now on this end of it all and can collapse into my "Sabbath noodle mode" as Brad terms it. This is where I pretty much melt into an inert mass and do nothing for long periods of time. Okay, so I do have SOME plans for tomorrow, but they do not involve mad rushing.

As I pulled into Philip's neighborhood this afternoon, on my way to pick up his van and then pick him up from school, I spied a yardsale. It was literally one minute from his house. I could not resist. I HAD to stop. So I did. And I'm glad I did- I got a couple delightful and useful items. But it caused me to be about three minutes late in picking him up from school. This NEVER happens - I am always, always, ALWAYS early. The earth teetered on its axis a little bit and then righted itself. So on the way home, I confessed to Philip what I had done - that I had stopped at the yardsale in his neighborhood and that's why I was late. ( He well knows my obsession with yardsales.) He then proceeded to go to a certain page in his Dynavox and hit his switch for a certain pre-programmed response, so his Dynavox said to me," You should be ashamed of yourself." Oh my goodness - I DIED laughing. He was grinning from ear to ear. Philip made a funny! I didn't even know that sentence was in there! And somehow, hearing the computer voice say it just made it ten times funnier.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

In Today's News...

Brad set up the crib! Brad set up the crib! Brad set up the crib!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My confession

I seem to have hit a dry patch, writing-wise. Life sort of lopes along in a somewhat comfortable routine and I am lulled into a happy little stupor. A stupor punctuated by moments of alternating terror and unbelievable, joyous impatience as I contemplate the life-changing earthquake which looms upon the December horizon. A stupor punctuated by my extreme struggles to try to eat healthily - something which lately, I have been failing at miserably. Each evening is like New Year's Eve - I make a resolution and the next day, I start out successfully until, on a good day, about 8:00 in the evening, and on a bad day, early afternoon.

Today, my downfall was candy corn. I love candy corn. It's one of the great joys of autumn, one of the great redemptors of the Halloween season. ( How else could I put up with the ghoulish and tacky decorations in my neighborhood? Please! Bushes adorned with huge cotton spiderwebs which could only have been spun by Shelob herself? There should be a LAW!) On my way to work, I went into an unfamiliar Kroger in search of a branch of my bank, which did not appear ( but to be fair, several other Krogers I have visited have this bank in it so it wasn't a totally random venture), and I ended up walking out with a supply of candy corn in my hand. WHAT?! Yes- this equation makes complete sense in my world: I find no bank in the grocery store = I must buy candy corn. Can you not see the logic? I must have some reward for walking into the store. How the used-to-be-skinny have fallen.

Now please don't email me and tell me that I have to be careful because of the baby. I KNOW THIS. I am guilt ridden every time I eat ANYTHING besides my home-made granola and yogurt and fruit and wheat germ. And brussel sprouts and broccoli and salad. ( But I don't blend all those things together.) The guilt is almost enough to destroy my sweet pleasure and keep me on the straight and narrow. And I've been pretty careful about a lot of things - like sugary soda and caffeinated stuff etc. - even though occasionally I CRAVE a carbonated beverage. ( One time I was really in a stupor and started drinking Dr. Pepper and Brad looked at me like I'd lost it because I denied that there was any caffeine in it. Um. Yeah. ) And most times, my strong frugality forbids me from spending money on frivolous, junk-food items. But I have noticed a particular weakness in the past few days. So I am writing this, in part, to keep myself accountable. Maybe I should force myself to post what I eat every day and that way I won't be so prone to buy things like Edy's icecream and Cheetos ( and hide them away so Brad won't reprimand me or partake of them. Ohhhh...the truth comes out. Humiliaaaaaaaation.)...I don't know. That sounds pretty drastic. ( NO I don't eat them TOGETHER! EW! Icecream and Cheetos??!!) Yes, Brad- look closely in the freezer and you will find the Edy's. It's where the oatmeal used to be. In the door. Not that you were probably ever aware of the oatmeal in the freezer...( He already found out about the sin of the Cheetos the other day.)

Sigh. I used to think that when I got pregnant, I would go organic and be a total health nut. But, horrifyingly, it's been the exact opposite recently. I feel bad. To make up for it, I'm going to feed this child a good healthy diet of spinach and brussel sprouts until he turns eighteen. Organic? Well, so far, the only organic thing I've bought has been eggs. And they're wicked expensive!

Ooooooh- that reminds me: egg-nog season is almost upon us. Woe is me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

October 3rd

So here we are again, at another October 3rd. Well, as I write, it's October 2nd but I was lying in bed thinking about the day ahead and knew I couldn't fall asleep until I got up and wrote. And I'm sure by the time I finish, it will be October 3rd.

For the first time, I am not in New Hampshire on the anniversary of my brother's death. It's strange not to be there. I wonder if the sun will shine on Fairwood and if Uncle Tim has stabbed his sword into the earth at the traditional spot.

It's inevitable that an anniversary should make you remember. But as three years have gone by, it's not simply a day of recalling the past; it makes me reflect on life in general - what is important. Andrew's death has taught me to take nothing and no one for granted. It helps me to keep short accounts with people and to see the preciousness of each human life. I still struggle daily with the negative side - fear - that comes with that good principle. I had never experienced that level of loss before and did not know the depth of sadness that life could hold. I don't like being sad; I never want to be that sad again. But I know it will happen. I can't stand the thought. It makes life hard to live this way but there is no joy or love in life without risk. I'm glad I knew Andrew and I would gladly live the part of my life that included him over again, even knowing that I could lose him again. So I must continue to live and love those around me now. Even though I know there is no safety net and no guarantees.

Now I'm going to say something that might sound like I'm making a blasphemous analogy but I don't mean it that way so don't be offended - you'll see where I'm going. I was thinking recently about Jesus' disciples and how they must have felt as they watched him die. They must have thought that this was the end of the world. I'm sure they were confused and heartbroken and had little if no concept of the larger picture and greater meaning - the 'deeper magic' as C.S. Lewis would say- that was unfolding before them. They were blinded and paralyzed by grief and shock. This is the Son of God! This is not supposed to happen! How could The Father LET this happen? Being executed like a criminal?! Jesus never hurt a fly! What is going to happen to us now? The future is unthinkable - a blank. Our lives are meaningless. Surely SOMETHING is going to happen - some miracle...angels...a voice from heaven...some heavenly rescue mission...maybe...please?! But nothing happened. And Jesus died.

WHAT?! He DIED?! That's it. End of story. Game over. That's what they thought.

And why did Jesus lie in the tomb for three days? ( Other than to fulfill prophecy and all that kind of thing...) Why wasn't He resurrected the very next morning? Or six hours later? Blood and water came from his side - proof of death. Okay. He could have accomplished everything He did during those three days in a shorter time, couldn't He? Why did the disciples have to endure that period of darkness and bewilderment? I have no idea. That's just the way it happened. I don't feel like going down the road of "character building." Maybe it's true - but it sounds too sappy. Whatever.

But one part of the story - besides the wonderful, amazing part about the resurrection- helps me. It's that blindness to the bigger picture. We're still in those three days between the death and the resurrection - when little or nothing makes sense. Somehow, it encourages me to KNOW that I'm blind. It's okay that I can't see. It's okay that we've been blindsided by grief. That's normal. But grief, as terrible as it is to encounter and endure and as much as I naturally dread it, grief never has the last word. My faith tells me that there is something beyond my blindness; I am suffering in the presence of great hope. It's a strange, dual reality - suffering and faith. There are so many clues around that point to the fact, I believe, that there's something much larger going on. It's called 'eternity' and I've already started to live it, even if I don't understand all that's involved - because the eternal life that Jesus offers starts before death. Eternal life is now.

Did I say this already? Somewhere else? The thing about being blind to the bigger picture? In some past post? This is sounding like de-ja-vu to me... Maybe I'm reminding myself of John Eldridge in "Epic." I'm trying to remember...Things are not what they seem. There is a great battle going on. And you have a role to play. It's a good book- if you haven't read it already, go out and buy you a copy - it's not big and it's not expensive.

Another thing that encouraged me recently: I was listening to someone talk about the story of Lazarus' death and how Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you were here, my brother would not have died." As I listened to that, I could relate to Martha. I could have said those very words three years ago. Almost accusing Him of not caring. But I can't do that now. There has been, and continues to be, healing in the last three years. I still feel the pain of what Martha said, but as I do, I remember at the same time what came next: Jesus said, "Your brother will rise again..." Stop. That's enough for me- just that. Never mind that Jesus didn't raise my brother from his coffin in a New Hampshire hillside on October 9th or 10th or 11th...My brother will rise again.

Now I think I should go to bed.