Monday, February 28, 2011


while it pains me a little to admit this, everything is still packed. well, not everything. but most things. i could say it's because i don't have enough wall space for my furniture that houses said packed items, but that's only one excuse. i still have all that furniture in the basement ready to be used to house all the things i need but haven't unpacked.

it could be said that if i haven't unpacked it i probably don't need it. i mean, we are going on three months and nobody's suffered because i don't have my extensive collection of sugar and creamer sets unpacked.

except for me, of course.

but see, the thing is my stuff isn't just stuff. it is to some people, but not to me. because i use my stuff. if i didn't use it it WOULD be just stuff. but i use it. and i miss it. and i like all of my things around me. i like seeing my six different sets of beer glasses/mugs. which seems like an excessive amount to some, but when you've had beer out of the proper glass it's like heaven. and thus, they become a terribly useful necessity. i like knowing that when people come over my people coming over plates are where i can find them.

i like knowing where my tablecloths are. where are my tablecloths? or my serving platters and serving dishes my square plates with the big huge blue flowers on them? i cannot even begin to imagine where my blue glass sorbet dishes are. or the dish i like to serve olives in.

for everyday this is not a big deal. but when i have people over it sucks. i feel like i'm entertaining in a college studio kitchen.

(we could add in the psychological angle and talk about how i longed for these kinds of things as a little girl and after suffering so much loss last year that i am even more attached to my stuff than ever. which is only kinda true because i've let go of a lot and even just the other day one of my grandmother's awesome bowls broke and i just hucked it in the trash and didn't get all crazy over it as i once might have. i mean that's progress people. i'm STILL verklempt over a certain PERFECT rectangular serving platter that broke years ago and i've never met its equal. but, i digress. and we don't need to get into all that. moreover, who would want to?)

but the thing is most people don't care. they don't. they are happy to just hang out and eat. they don't care if the olives are in my special olive dish or not. most people would eat the olives from the jar. most people don't care that much about olives.

but i do.

and people say oh don't go through the trouble. oh sit down and visit. (i do eventually sit down and visit and i don't get up again. just so you know) oh let me help. they use one plate for everything when i've set out two. oh i don't need another glass for this wine. but that glass had merlot? and now this is shiraz? let me get you another glass.

most people come and they say you work so hard i don't need another glass let me help you.

but i WANT to work this hard i WANT you to have another glass i WANT you to sit and relax.


this is how i love. i love by creating food and making sure you have everything you need. i love by chilling the beer mugs before you come and making sure if we're having stella artois you get the fucking stella artois glass. i don't want you to have to keep asking for the salt and pepper at thanksgiving so i put individual salt and pepper shakers at various stations on the table. i WANT to do this. i LOVE to cook and to have people to cook for. i don't even care if you're vegan! or you have food allergies! i will do it!

i want you to come to my house and feel taken care of. content. this is not a sickness. this is not perfection i seek at the expense of everything else. this is just how i roll.

am i the world's best cook and entertainer? no. i am not. i am just me and i'm hoping you like what i make and i am glad when you do.

do i get stressed and overwhelmed in the process? yes. sometimes i do. but that's just part of the process when you are creating on a deadline. this does not mean i am a crazy neurotic who takes on too much crazy person. okay, i am all those things BUT not about this. this is me loving you by making sure you have a separate fork for dessert.


that being said


is my confession.

the dinner i ruined two weeks ago? with guests coming over? i ruined it because i was so obsessed by the fact that i didn't have my people coming over plates or my cutest tablecloth handy and could only find THREE champagne glasses in which to serve sparkling shiraz to FOUR. my dining room isn't put together and my kitchen isn't awesome yet. this house needed more TLC when we moved in than i gave it. the cabinets need repainting and the hardware needs replacing. and if i haven't unpacked all my clothes yet i sure as hell am not tackling the kitchen cabinets.

so. because i was being vain i ruined 3 dishes and barked at the boybarians and got all sweaty and ended up serving take out pizza to my guests.

did they care?

not a bit. they had the best time and are the kind of people who wouldn't care. they found my confession amusing and she even told me about a dinner she ruined consisting of a corn chowder that was delicious but ended up looking like vomit and biscuits that were hard as rocks. did she order pizza? nope. she served the 'ruined' dinner. and it became a story for her arsenal.

i AM proud of myself that i threw in the towel when i knew my goose was cooked (no pun intended and no i wasn't making goose) and stopped barking and sweating and running around trying to recreate an entire meal and called in for pizza backup.

(all that being said i am very much in the I DON'T CARE camp when i dine at other people's houses. you can feed me on a paper plate next to the draftiest window in the house with the stickiest mouthiest kid you've got on my right and your creepy relative across from me and i *literally* would not care. i am just so happy to be eating someone else's food in their space. true story.)

so. what is the lesson here? the lesson here is i need to unpack my stuff. because it's becoming a 'thing.' stuff is only stuff if you don't *use* it. the longer i don't unpack and use my stuff the more it becomes useless stuff.

you could also say the lesson here is that moving sucks and it's really hard for a long time. that every time i confront those boxes i miss my house and my family and my coast. those boxes make me sad and they make me cry. so i turn away and turn off the light and go where there are no boxes.

and the lesson here is that even though setting a table and cooking a meal is the way i love i could re-examine a few bits of my process. i literally need to not sweat the small stuff.

i have to remember that it's all about the olives.

and most people just don't care that much about how olives are served. it's okay that i do (i really really do) but it's not worth ordering pizza over.


Friday, February 11, 2011

wherein i become a mommy blogger for a day. you have been warned.

it is a commonly known fact among parents that when you have a baby you know a growth spurt is coming when they start to nurse (or bottle feed) a BUNCH. and when they are toddlers there is the uptick in snacking and a few well placed tantrums in a row to let you know. as tweens there are the growing pains, and as teens they just appear at the breakfast table one day in comically too short pajama bottoms that you could have sworn fit the day before.

but there is a time in there when it's less easy to tell. the growth spurts in the 8 to 10 years old set seem to be more subtle. a more gradual process that's not so easy to detect. even as it is happening right before your very eyes. at least in my house.

when the duke was that age the only way i knew he had a growth spurt is i had to go and purchase new clothes. wow, he's really growing i'd think. but wingman wears mainly his brother's hand me downs, so i don't have that consistently to go on. fortunately, wingman has a 'tell' when he's about to sprout up. and it's not a subtle one.

the last time was about 9 months ago. i went into the back room and he had the box of old thomas the tank engine videos out. he ended up watching them all and kept watching on and off for the next week. then he got out his wooden train set that hadn't seen the light of day in about a million years. he made tracks and took those apart and made more for the next week or so. then, he was done. the videos were stuffed back into the closet, the train set went back to where it had been unearthed from. two weeks after that we were buying new pants.

he hangs on for the move forward by going back.

and it isn't just the nostalgia of and sudden interest in old toys and favorite videos that signals a growth spurt in wingman. cut to last week. it was just the two of us at target. we were tooling around and i had to be in the office supply section. you can go look at the toys if you want i told him. no, that's fine. i'll just hang out here with you. which i thought was weird, that he wasn't interested in the toys.

so we're done with office supplies and headed towards cleaning supplies. and there on the end cap was a valentine's display of housewares. and he saw something and went right to it and had to have it. oh, mama can i have this! it's only 1.99! that? you really want that? yes! it's awesome! um, sure. okay. and it was this;

yes, a plastic bowl with a smiling bear and hearts.

now, you wouldn't think it to look at him because he's 'all boy' and snark, but wingman has always gravitated to things like this. well not hearts, which he says he cannot stand (all photographic evidence to the contrary), but just smiley things. things that are soft and happy. since he was a baby until now. things like that bowl make him happy. they also give him security.

for instance, last summer he went to YMCA camp for the first time. for a week. he had been waiting forEVER to be old enough to go. he was packed up and on the bus and off he went. i cried. and then i figured it would be like the duke, he'd jump right into camp and be sad it was time to come home.

turns out, i found out MUCH later, he was horribly homesick the WHOLE time. he said he had fun, enjoyed it a lot, but the homesickness never went away. and the very first chance he got he went to the camp store and spent all of his money on two stuffed animals and slept with them both every night. he told me he still felt homesick, but that the stuffed animals made him feel much better. they've joined pooh bear on the bed and he sleeps with them still.

and yes, they are smiley and sweet and soft and they comforted him when he needed it. and while i am sad to think of him missing home so much, i am proud of his ability to tend to his emotional needs.

so cut to the bowl with the bear and the hearts. he knew immediately he had to have it. and, i did too. (thank god. i wish every aspect of parenting came so easily.) he eats out of it every night. and he will continue to do so until one day i'll notice when he's setting the table that he doesn't set it at his place. instead there will be just a regular white plate like the rest of us. shortly after that we'll be buying new pants.

and the bowl will go in the cabinet. and i'll see it occasionally when he digs it out, or when my goddessdaughter or youngest niece come to visit. eventually, i won't see it anymore.

the thing about growth spurts in children is that we tend to think of them as purely physical. but there's a whole emotional component and when you're little it seems to hard to put a finger on. you know you feel...something. but what is it? it's hard to describe, because you feel it but you also "feel" it.

babies nurse more for the nourishment to sustain the growth spurt and as they do they stay close to their mamas longer than usual, holding on and keeping safe until it passes.

being a toddler is just one HUGE growth spurt. and they tantrum because they have little to no ability to adequately verbalize their feelings. god what an intensity to grow so much so fast. can you imagine? and not just feelings of i'm mad i'm sad i'm hungry i don't like those socks. more the WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON WITH ME feeling that is surging through their tiny bodies, and not just physically. sure they snack for nourishment, but the tantrums are the hold-me-closer-even-as-i-scream-because-trust-me-i-need-to-scream nourishment for their exploding souls.

tweens need empathy and understanding for their growing pains just as they do for their rapidly growing inner emotional lives, too. teens need new clothes to cover their person and they also need the same assurance that you've got their back for the rest of it. 'it' being a very big deal even if they can't quite explain it fully. it's easy to notice too small pajama pants and fix that. but it's just a symbol of a larger expansion going on inside. one that doesn't need 'fixing,' just noticing. and understanding.

note to self; keep that last paragraph handy for a not so distant future reminder.

for now, wingman has his bowl. and for how long i don't know. and as much as i like to see him grow and mature, i kinda hope he eats out of it for a little longer than i know he will. because i miss my little kids. and i think i always will.


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

i messed up.


i bitched about someone in an e-mail i sent to the husband. only i sent it to the person. i bitched about. instead.

and you always hear about these things and you hope it never happens to you and it feels just as you would imagine something like that would feel. and yes. there was the OMG maybe i can get it back!!! hopeless totally sinking moment.

with shaking hands and a pit in my stomach i quickly sent a sorry. i explained what caused the bitch. why i was upset. it's been an upsetting day. i should have just said no. this has been a problem before. this is my issue. this is not your issue. i apologize for dragging you in. i understand if it's just too much and you want to terminate the agreement. (this was a professional acquaintance) please let me know.

she didn't let me know. not yet.


just because you mess up and feel like a colossal ass doesn't mean you don't have to feed your kids. chopping the cucumbers and the tomatoes washing the lettuce. vegetables are easy. slice slice neat rows of four. turn and chop chop chop. they get shoved to the side in a tidy little pile. i set the table with a fresh tablecloth. i sat down. i ate with my kids.

and the thing wasn't that it was bitchy *about* her. just the situation. but it could very definitely be interpreted as directly hurtful. it was not an e-mail any of us would care to receive.

moreover, it revealed my inner ass. it shed light on my absolute ability to appear passive aggressive. to BE passive aggressive. my 'say one thing with a smile and feel quite another with a bitch' side. sure, it was supposed to be private. a vent from a wife to a husband at the end of a long day. i'm entitled. but it revealed to someone else what i cannot stand about myself. it revealed my inner silly mortal. i felt ashamed. and embarrassed.

i am a good person. but i felt like a bad person.

i messed up.

she didn't let me know. still.

i went upstairs and brushed my teeth. a shower. a shower might be a good thing. i never shower at night. but it was if cleaning my teeth and my person could clean my conscience. see. i'm clean. good people are clean. i AM a good person. as if the minty flowery foamy steamy would really wipe the slate.

the thing is, when you hurt someone's feelings it feels worse than when you get your feelings hurt. at least when my feelings get hurt i get a dose of righteous indignation. the free pass to cry. the opportunity to rise above it. to forgive and feel better. even as we are hurting, these are soothing balms. when i hurt someone's feelings i just feel like shit. and there's nothing i can do about it. except keep breathing, know that we all slip up, and hope for the best. and feel like shit.

i wanted to cry. but i didn't. because i was way too anxious. and because i didn't think it would be fair.

i messed up.

she didn't let me know. still.

i set up the coffee for the morning and made the husband's lunch for the next day. the salad arranged so nicely in the container. the dressing separate and nestled in so it was presentable and convenient. the leftover homemade pizza fanned out in the next container. containers stacked neatly. good people do nice things for others. see! i AM a nice person. look at the care i am taking with someone else's lunch. look at me be a good person.

i wonder if she who does not know me well knows that i am a good person. not the sum of my bitchy parts. i wonder as i wait for her to let me know.

here i am on the couch. doing flashcards with wingman. i cannot stand doing flashcards. but here i am doing them. with encouragement. and a smile. good people do things they don't want to do to help others. with a smile. yeah. and that's what got me into this mess. this is not lost on me. but mothering is different. yeah. at least that's what i tell myself as i ignore the blurred lines in my life.

i see wingman through the evening and get him into bed. i am a good mother. good mothers are good people. see me being a good person. see.

i messed up.

and then i opened my e-mail. she let me know. she was more than gracious. i was gracious back. with humility. and appreciation. and after all that, that was that. she is a nice person.

so. we go from here.

yeah. and did i still go overboard and agree to a bit too much (though not as much as before?) yep. i absolutely did. but, this was a good huge humbling step. and i am still learning. and truth be told i created a HUGE situation over what, in the end, amounted to changing two hours. two freakin' hours. even though i felt justified and she didn't listen to my needs as closely as i would have liked, i didn't take a step back i just jammed forward. i should take more time to take that step more often. and i am too accommodating, it's true. BUT i am also a person who does like to help others. and in the end i agreed to a bit and she conceded a bit and it will work for both of us. maybe not perfectly for either, but...

there is a balance. and i will find it. it will likely take me the rest of my life. but, isn't that why we're here? to keep trying until we get it? hoping we'll get it.

so. i'm an ass. i mess up. and i can hurt people's feelings. and sometimes i do.

my advice to my kids in this situation is exactly what i did. own up, be honest, apologize. hope for the graciousness of others. learn from it. move on.

and, as an addendum, absolutely check the name in the TO: box on your e-mail before you hit send.

because lessons can be learned and we can move forward but that does not mean the silly mortal won't rise again. because it always does.