Hanging On

I’m still hanging on here in my little corner of the world.  Things are quiet and busy and for the most part good.  Here’s a quick sampling of the latest and greatest goings on these days:

1.  I am running for the local Board of Education (again).  I’m so much more jaded and realistic about it this time.  I know it’s all just a shell game of name recognition and party affiliation.  Our town is a red town so running as a D is tough, but doable if you have enough name recognition.  I have done a lot in town so we’ll see what happens.

(Here is where I could lapse into a huge diatribe about how this whole government shutdown is keeping me up at nights and how party and politics is stupid and why can’t people do the right thing, but I digress).

2.  My daughter is busy, busy, busy and it’s getting hard to keep up with her.  It’s a good thing, a far cry from her awful days last fall when she struggled with friends and spent a great many days alone in her room after school.  I’m loving that she’s thriving in marching band, in soccer and landed a role in the middle school fall drama.

3.  My little guy is holding his own, but isn’t doing much for activities.  At this point we’re chalking it up to needing the down time after holding himself together all day at school.  We’ve had a few alarming meltdowns recently (one, two weekends ago, was a reminder of the bad old days, with an all out screaming fit that lasted over half an hour).  I’m not going to lie, I’m a little worried for him, but staying the course.

4.  Hubby is looking to potentially switch jobs.  This is big news but likely won’t mean too much of a change for us as a family.  He’s been putting feelers out with other companies and getting some results….we will see what the next few months bring.  After being with the same company for two moves and 13 years, it seems like a big jump.  Especially since this job was the one that brought us here to CT where we knew exactly one person when we moved here.  The new positions he is looking at mean no move but lots of travel for him.  It’s not a huge change for us, and will probably be a great thing for him.  We’ll see what happens.

5.  Worried about my son and daughter in law with all of this shut down business.  My son’s job is with a private company but a lot of their work comes via the EPA so this is all getting a bit much.  They have a baby on the way and I was already worried about how they will support themselves once he/she is born.  They don’t have the luxury of throwing away their savings right now on stupid party politics.  For the love of God, I hope these idiots in the House get their shit together today.

6.  Entered a weight loss challenge from now until Thanksgiving.  I’ve been trying to lose the same 15 pounds for…gulp….two years.  Enough is enough.  Hoping this will be the wakeup call/jump start I need to finally make better choices and feel better about my body.

7.  Speaking of losing weight, it would be perfect timing because I’m finally going to see my favoriate rock start again after four years.  A few girlfriends and I are going to see my pal Rick Springfield in NYC in November.  It’s a small, initiate, acoustic show at a winery.  I hope everyone enjoys it and I’m able to just lose myself in the moment without all the crap that used to be part of going to RS shows.  We’ll see.

That’s about it for now.  Deep thoughts are for later….it’s 6:15 am right now and time for me to start the day.

Meh

I have tried to write several posts in the last several weeks here and each time, I just come up blank.  It’s not that I’m in a funk, or not doing anything interesting or anything like that.  It just doesn’t seem like I have much to say about any of it.

Meh.  Who cares about this stuff.

I’ve been working on a local 5K here in town.  Truth be told, I’m running the damn thing this year.  It’s a 20 year race that used to be run by a chiropractor here in town who is an avid runner, along with one of our police officers.  Originally the money raised went to our local DARE program and the Jaycees.  But then our DARE program disbanded and the people running the race got kind of tired of putting it all together.  Enter me and my fresh face last year, trying to raise money for our schools.  Long story short, I got the unpaid gig.  I’ve spent probably 15 hours a week for the last six weeks working on the thing, and it promises only to take more and more of my time until the race happens in June.  On the one hand, I’m super excited and proud of the work I’m doing.  But on the other, I’m pretty much doing it single handedly and that’s never fun.

Meh.

My son’s wedding is getting closer, and I’ve been putting together the rehearsal dinner and shopping for dresses.  It is all very mother of the groom stuff to do.  The dress thing was insane.  My choices were either sexy teenager prom dress or dowager sixty year old beaded top and loose skirt with too many sequins to distract from the wrinkles of the person wearing it.  It was all just depressing.  I’m 42.  I get that I’m a young mother, and certainly everything about putting this thing together has reminded me of that every step of the way.  Not in a really great way, I might add.  More in the “yep, we’re all very aware you had this one under less than ideal circumstances” kind of way.

Meh.

I’m working on my freelance web stuff fairly steadily, which is good.  It’s just enough work and income to make me feel like I’m not some slob sitting on my sofa watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns because there’s nothing else to do.  Except when the freelancing grids to a screeching halt, as it has for the last several weeks.  I’m chasing, chasing these clients trying to get them to respond to questions, offer up opinions, meet with me so I can finish their sites and of course, collect my paycheck.  I hate that part of freelancing.  You’re either on the client’s radar 24/7 and you find yourself working at 10am on a Sunday morning because they had an idea that had to be addressed Right. This. Second. or you’re the last thing on their to do list and you’re like an afterthought after all the other Very Important Things get done.

Meh.

My husband has been traveling for three weeks now.  Normally not a huge thing, but after the first week he came home and threw out another possible job transfer, this one potentially overseas.  I don’t put a lot of credibility to it because it has happened so, so many times before and hardly ever pans out (especially since we moved to CT).  Still, the idea introduced just enough tension into my thought patterns of next week, next month, next year.  Will we be here?  Can we count on that?   Can I start making plans for the fall or next winter?

Meh.

Only I could take these things in my life, all good things, and be so blase.  I’m working on an important community event and doing a good job, my son is getting married, my husband’s job is going well and so is mine.  Maybe it’s this interminable winter and it’s long, grey, snow filled days.  Maybe some sunshine and warmth would help me shake the meh.

Busy Summer and Something New

It’s been quite a summer so far.

As you’ve seen, I have the all consuming drama of my daughter and her social stature at school.  I never in a million years would have thought that I could be so profoundly affected by the awfulness happening to her; it took over our entire household for several weeks in a roller coaster of emotion and tears and awfulness.

There’s a post I have inside me too about family and my grandmother and my recent visit there, but it is going to be emotional and hard and take a while to write.  Which is why I haven’t written it yet.

And, I was contracted for one of my biggest freelance website jobs yet this summer.  The time when I am the least available to pound out work on the computer.  This same thing happened to me last summer and it just stresses me out to not be as available to the kids and do everything I want to do with them.  I know, I’m still way luckier than most working mothers, but it is still making what should be a relaxing time more stressful.

But, all of those things aside, I did want to point out the new tab at the top of this blog.  I have started a fitness blog that I have linked here.  In some ways it is easier to write the little, short posts there because they are not emotionally charged.  There is much I have been wanting to say about my fitness journey, but I haven’t wanted to necessarily mix it in with all of the life stories that I share here.  So I have decided to start a new blog just for that purpose.

And now I have to wrap this up, because of course it is time to get the kids ready for camp, go to a meeting while they are at camp, grocery shop, pick up dry cleaning, work on my contract job, take my son to karate….you get the idea.

Happy Summer!

It’s Still There

I heard from him the other day.

Not unsolicited, of course.  No, I’ve hardly ever heard from him out of the blue like that.  Even when I was working for him, emails from Rick Springfield only appeared in my box with the inevitable re: in front of whatever subject title I had been writing about.  The emails were never long.  I learned, after we started hosting online chats with him, that he was a hunt and peck typist, which I suppose accounts for some of the brevity.

Still, it was a thrill to see his email address in my inbox just the same.  Even though it’s been years since I’ve worked for him.  Years since I’ve even been in the same room with him.  Why is that?  Most of the people I knew who were avid fans at the time of my work for Rick are still in the mix, posting like crazy on message boards or Facebook or the relic Yahoo email groups that were our lifeblood way back when.  They still are going to his shows because he still tours all of the time, nearly every weekend.   They fly, or they drive insane distances.

I get it.  I used to as well.  As I was looking back on some of my old photos after my trip to Michigan a few weeks back I marveled at how much I’d traveled.  At the time it felt like I was constrained, never as able to go to shows as often as my girlfriends who were fans.  They didn’t have young children, or their husbands were more able to care for the kids in their absences.  Still, as I ticked through the places I’d been, I chuckled.  Dubuque, IA.  Las Vegas, NV.  Rockford, IL.  Columbus, OH.  Chicago, IL.  Tucson, AZ.

But I don’t anymore.  Things are different now.  I don’t work for him anymore, and while I’ve come to peace with how that all shook out, it’s something I carry with me, still.  It definitely put out some of the fire I had towards seeing him, being a part of the madness and mayhem that is the fan experience.

Still, when I looked through those old photos, one leapt out at me.  The moment it captured, one of the first moments I’d ever shared with Rick.  It was after a charity event, where he’d sung about his dead father.  I’d used my mother’s inheritance to attend.   It all came together, his loss and my loss and I thought:  my mother made this happen for me.  She led me to this man who had been my unknowing savior during my teen years.  And I told him so.

At some point during that conversation, this photo was snapped.

(of course I blurred my face….couldn’t actually put a real photo of myself here)

Looking at it again, after all of these years, I couldn’t help but be amazed.  At the intensity, the beauty, the essence of what passed between us captured in it.  And so, even though I haven’t emailed Rick in probably a year or more, I uploaded the photo into an email and sent it along to him.  I told him that I had found this photo and was moved to share it.  How wonderful that moment was.  And that despite everything, I would never forget how wonderful he was to me, that day and many of the days that followed.

I won’t say what words he used in his response, but I will say that they brought a very big smile to my face.   For whatever it’s worth, even after everything, there is still something special about him.  And I am grateful, every day, that i was fortunate enough to live out that one, crazy, teenage dream.

The Hardest Thing

On Easter Sunday, my husband and I took our children to Mass, as we do every Sunday.  I wasn’t born Catholic, and I haven’t always been a regular churchgoer even after I became one.  But we love our church here, mostly thanks to the wonderful priests who run the place.   I originally became a Catholic because I felt that there was something I got during a Mass that I never was able to find anywhere else.  Our current parish carries that sentiment to the nth degree for me.  There’s always a peace, a message, a hope that comes over me during the service.  I’m able to put the petty worries of my life aside and just breathe.

During this week’s service, our priest talked about how so much of our time is spent running.  At first I thought he was going to rail on about the evils of this high impact exercise that I’ve come to love, so my dander was up (plus we went to the 7:30 service to avoid the crowds, so I was uncaffeinated as well).  But then as he continued, he made it clear that he was talking in much more of a figurative sense.  We’re running towards a financial goal, or a material one; we’re running from some horrible event in our past, or a person we were hurt by; running so fast, all of the time, that we don’t take the time to do what I do at church.

Breathe.  Reflect.  Be calm.  Remove the cobwebs and prioritize.  Figure out what is truly important.

Later that day, my husband asked me what I was running from.

“Excuse me?” I asked the tone I always assume when I feel my husband is making an accusation or a critical statement.

He was referring to the amount of traveling I’ll be doing in the next little while.  In a few days I am loading my children into our SUV and driving out to Michigan to see my brother and sister.  And I suppose it doesn’t make a lot of sense to him that I am doing this.  After all, neither of my siblings ever comes out to see me.  And most of the time when I drive out to see them, my brother and I get into some sort of fight that ends up in months of silence between us.  Why would I want more of that?

But my brother and sister have both had some trauma in their lives recently.   And frankly, they somehow seem less equipped to deal with the hard stuff that I’ve always been.  I’m not sure why that is.  For me, I thought the hardest thing I would do would be having gotten pregnant and 18 and have the father leave me.  And it was, until three years later.  That was when the woman who had supported me and helped me through that experience, my mother, was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer.  I was her caregiver at home, while finishing my student teaching and raising my two year old son alone.  She died eleven months after being diagnosed, and then I was left alone with a college degree, a part time substitute teaching job and a pile of bills.  My father moved across the country six months later, weeks before I started the only full time teaching job I could find; teaching in the inner city.   The next few years were a mixture of fear, despair and worry that covered me and everything I did like a blanket.

It was different for my brother and sister.  My sister was married and independent.  Where I was 21 at the time of my mother’s diagnosis, she was 27.  She was an adult, and had been for a while.  She had gone to college for a while but quit when she started dating the man who later became her husband.  When my mother was diagnosed it was devastating for her as well, but she wasn’t expected to provide round the clock care.  She was helpful, very helpful.  But not responsible for everything, like me.

My brother had dropped out of college and was floating from job to job when my mother was diagnosed.  He had partied his way through his late teens and early twenties, barely scraping by.  He had friends, and they drank and smoked through the weekends as lots of kids that age do.  When my mother was diagnosed he was working part time at a gas station.  He actually lived with us briefly but found his own place nearby later.  Again, it was an awful thing for him when my mother was diagnosed.  But the only responsibilities he had at the time were to himself.  He would show up, sometimes.  When he was able to.

I think for my brother and sister, while their lives too were sad and hard in the aftermath of our mother’s passing, it wasn’t going to change much in their lives.  They would still live where they lived, work where they worked, and go back home to a house that was going to be the same as it was before.  I didn’t have that.  Everything in my life changed.  It was horrible.  When I read back in my diaries or the words I’ve written here about it, I still can’t believe that I made it through, that I did everything that needed to be done.  That I went on to have a pretty normal life, despite the scars that I carry with me every single day.

Now, both of them are going through some pretty life altering experiences.  Different, for both of them, but still harder than much of what they’ve ever had to deal with before.  They are scared.  They are paralyzed.  They are unable to cope.  And so I am running, I suppose.  Running to give what I can in the hopes that it will help.  The same way that they “helped” me when I needed it, during my most difficult time.  I won’t know what it is like to live in either of their lives right now.  But I can be present, lend a hand or a shoulder or a few bucks, and try to make the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do a little easier.

Fighting the Rain

Outside it is pouring rain.  My son pointed out, as we waited in the warmth of my SUV at the end of our longish driveway for his bus this morning, that pouring rain is his least favorite weather.  For him, it is because his sensitive sensory system makes the wetness that results on his skin and on his clothes feel like sandpaper, or fire, or some other horrible sensation.  He can’t focus anymore, he can’t breathe, because all he can feel is that awful, awful feeling.

I dislike the rain too, but for different reasons.  The dark clouds that gather, the heaviness from the damp….it muddles my mind and brings out the darkness that lives inside me.  Always, always, rainy days bring back sad thoughts and hard memories.  I look through the window with the rain streaming down, imagining I’m on camera somewhere, and a soundtrack soars in the background giving life to my internal grief.

I haven’t been writing here lately.  I think the catharsis of putting my thoughts into words is something I’m missing.  But it’s hard because I’m not sure which words I should be choosing for this space now.  I’ve completed my mission, my task for why I set up this blog.  To go through my former life, my stories, my path that led me to where I sit now.  So what now?

The question is one I’m asking myself not just about this blog, but about my life.  With my son finally doing well in school, I’m less and less needed during the day while he’s at school.  Most stay at home mothers arrive here at some point while their children are in elementary school.  It’s an enviable place to be:  we don’t really need an extra income right now.  Sure, my being at home makes everything easy for everyone:  the laundry is always done, the food is always bought and cooked, the beds are made and the dog is walked.  But there are hours and hours left over.

These are the hours I’ve previously filled with writing, or volunteering at school,  or working on freelance websites or at the art studio.  But with the art studio closing and my two current clients in “wait and see” mode, and the kids getting older…I find myself thinking….now what?  There has to be a way to transition into something new, something different.  I mean, I can’t possibly spend the next eight years folding laundry and watching endless loops of my Grey’s Anatomy DVDs in the downtime, can I?

The rain outside the window today makes me think I can.  I need to fight the rain.

 

Unemployed

I lost my job yesterday.

It’s not a huge job, mind you.  I’ve been working on and off at our local children’s art studio for five years.  Jill and I started working together after she allowed me to host a Kyle Vincent concert at her studio in late 2006.  I didn’t know her then; a friend I’d met at my son’s preschool did, though, and when I wondered if all of my girlfriends would fit into my small roomed house for such a “living room show”, she suggested Jill’s studio close by.  By the end of the event Jill was talking to Kyle about business, and he mentioned that I did his website and graphic design.  A few weeks later, she approved my mock up for her site, and we’ve been working together ever since.

Jill put me to work doing anything my skill set allowed.  First the website, then her accounting and some clerical work, and finally, some teaching of the classes she offered to the children of our town.  It was extremely part time, but perfect for my busy life that didn’t allow me to work outside of my childrens’ school hours and sometimes required me to be available even then to meet all of their needs.  It was my first foray outside of my home since I’d moved to Connecticut, and it was just enough to make me feel like I wasn’t allowing my skills to evaporate while tending to my children’s lives so fully.

Working for Jill introduced me to other business owners in town too, and before long I had a small roster of website design clients.  With Jill’s studio being popular and well known in town, all I had to do was drop her name and jobs came my way with very little effort.  It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was enough to feel like I was doing something meaningful in my off hours.

Unfortunately, since I did Jill’s books for her, I could see that the economic crash of 2008 took a huge toll on Jill’s business.  Children’s art classes were a pricey luxury that most parents were easily able to slash out of their budgets.  Jill responded as any shrewd business person would by cutting her own costs.  One by one I saw most of the seasoned teachers leave.  Jill taught everything she could herself, and when she couldn’t, she hired cheaper college and high school students to fill in.

And for a while, that was enough to stay afloat.  I marveled at how her summer camps and her birthday party businesses kept her in the black.  She bought a kiln and added paint your own pottery aspect to her studio, which brought income in during the long stretches between semesters when the bank account often grew thin.  But she also quietly put the property up for sale, waiting to see if anyone would be interested in buying the business.

No one was.  After two years on the market and over $100,000 in reductions of the price, she made the hard decision to close the studio.  I was unprepared, when I went in for my usual Thursday perusal of receipts and tasks that this would be the last time I would be asked to come in.  I knew it was coming, of course, but didn’t realize it was happening now instead of later.  This was it.  Five years and what seems like a lifetime of growth and change later, Jill and I are parting ways.

I’ve always called my job a “little job”.  But today, in its absence, it feels much bigger than it ever was.  And I will miss it.  Very much.

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