I don't need that pressure, Ron.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

In Target:

Emily: I don't get "fitbit".

Me: Neither do I. I don't need that kind of pressure in my life.

Woman in target looking at the FitBit display: Oh, actually they're really fun!  I don't even want to recharge mine in case I miss counting steps."

Me ( looking balefully at her): Yeah. I don't need that kind of pressure. I got other shit to worry about.


In Gap:

Me to Em in dressing room: Here are some nice summer dresses.

Em ( changing into one): Mom. You got me a romper. Did you want to see me in a romper?

Me: I did not get you a romper. That's a dress.

Em: There are legs on this. It is a romper. I am coming out to show you.

Me: Jesus. That's terrible.  Do you like this?

Em: NO! But you gave it to me to try on.

Me: No one should wear a romper over the age of 3.  I apologize for that awfulness. Take that off.


In Walmart:

We are picking up Em's Adderall. The pharmacist comes over to ask "Any questions?"

Emily: NO.

Me: Geesh, that was emphatic.

Emily: I've been taking this for years.

Me: You make it sound as if you are a hard core drug user.

Pharmacist stares at us.

We walk away.

Me: I don't think Dave found us to be amusing.


Home:

I am in my bathroom changing the liner and shower curtain. 

Terrance: Hey!

Me: Oh, hey.

Terrance: Did you buy more cider? When I pulled in, I saw two more six packs of cider.

Me: Yeah.

Terrance: Got plans to drink all of that?

Me: Shit yeah. I have a new shower curtain and liner and 12 bottles of cider. Shit's getting real now that school is almost done! Watch out! I plan on binge drinking and showering!

Terrance (completely deadpan): Okay.




No one finds me as funny as I find myself.








Indirect Conversation

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Emily and Terrance have the perfectly awful habit of attempting to have conversations through me.

I detest this, and have told them both a million times to just. converse. with. each. other.

The truth is that my daughter and husband are more similar than either would care to accept, and as such, they are both squeamish about certain topics.

Neither are squeamish with me,  mostly because there is very little in life that I am squeamish about and  because I rarely hesitate to have conversations about anything, even if the conversations feel weird at first.

On Friday, Em tells me that she would like me to tell her father to make sure that he takes care of his condoms because it horrifies her to see them. Terrance tried to flush his condoms- even though I have been telling him for 25 years to knock that shit off.  He does not listen to me. He flushes them.

They do not flush well. Emily comes into the bathroom in the morning to take a shower, looks down and sees floating, used condom.  Becomes horrified that her parents have sex....adds this to list of things to discuss with therapist.

Em complains to me. I tell her father. Terrance denies that he has left a condom in the toilet and/or gets horrified and promises to stop flushing the condoms ( until a week or two later when he reverts to his same old procedure).

Both of them freak out at me: THE ONLY PERSON WHO IS NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN EITHER END OF THE HORROR.

On Saturday, I tell her again that if she wants to have the most direct impact on her father that she needs to convey how uncomfortable seeing the condom in the toilet makes her. My telling him hasn't changed his behavior, so perhaps she should address this herself.

Later that afternoon, she walks by him and lays on my bed. He is in the hallway. They can not see one another:

Em: "Dad?"

Terrance:" Yeah"

Em: "I'm tired of seeing the things in the toilet. So can you just not do it anymore?"

Terrance: Silence

Terrance: More Silence ( I watch his face go through the horror of having his condom usage indirectly addressed by his 17 year old daughter)

Terrance: Ok. But you have to take care of your situation. Because I don't want to have to see that in the laundry.  ( He is now referring to her leaving her menstrual pads in her underwear which he never finds until they've been through the wash. And yes. I've communicated his horror to her before.)


Emily( from bedroom) : Ok.

Terrance ( from Hall): Ok.



It's a beginning.






My 2 Hours with a Felon

Sunday, April 17, 2016

My birthday is coming.

Terrance finds it increasingly challenging to find gifts with which to shower me after 25 years as a couple. This year, however, he came up with a novel solution: Tickets to see Night Vale.

Now, I love the Welcome to Night Vale podcast.  As such, I got Emily to start listening with me a few years ago and we all know she loves a good fandom venue.

Terrance understands none of this. He stares at his wife and daughter as we yammer on about the levitating cat, or the Hooded Figures or the sentient Glow Cloud. Terrance doesn't enjoy fantasy or science fiction. He will endure these things because he wants to be near us but the collective love of all things weird by his wife and daughter just leaves him flummoxed.

When he figured out my love of Night Vale and figured out that the podcast was doing a live show in Minneapolis on a date adjacent to my birthday?!? Ding, Ding, Ding! We have a birthday winner!

The show was to start at 8 p.m. on Saturday the 16th. We live about 2.5 hours from the Twin Cities so we decided to sleep in, then get on the road at about 1 p.m. We would get to the city, walk around, have some early dinner then head to the theatre.

The drive is typically uneventful. We pass the first largish city on the journey - Rochester, MN, and head into the pure farmland that is that part of Minnesota.  60 miles of unmitigated farmland, resplendent with the aroma of manure as the farmers till the fields to ready them for planting.

About 30 miles from Rochester, Terrance says "What was that?"  Dawn, enjoying the first truly warm day of the spring and wearing her glamorous sunglasses says "What???."

Terrance aims for the exit ( which ends up being a roundabout) as our Mercedes SUV sputters and bucks to a halt.

(Backstory - the car just got out of the shop on Tuesday with a new water pump and all new sensors. That was a $1350 makeover. We do not expect this car to break down.)

I keep calm. Terrance can get hysterical when car stuff happens. This hysteria is tripled when Em and I are in the car.

We wait.

He tries to turn the car over. Rrrrrr, Rrrrrrrr, Rrrrrrr. Battery is clearly fine.  No bizarre sounds. Just no turning over.

Terrance calls our roadside assistance and they begin to arrange for a tow truck. However, the nearest city is behind us by 30 miles, and the next one (Twin Cities) is about 60 miles away. Terrance explains that whomever comes to get us will have to drive us to someplace because we are in the middle of nowhere on a Saturday afternoon.

Roadside Assistance lets us know that this really isn't their problem. ( Why yes, Progressive, you ARE getting dropped at the end of May for that little customer non-service tidbit) Roadside Assistance tells us we should find a rental car place to come and pick us up. On a Saturday afternoon. At 3 p.m. in the LITERAL middle of nowhere.

I begin googling car rental places that may even be open. Hint: none at all.

Roadside assistance calls back to tell us that the tow truck is 2 hours away. He is coming from the Twin Cities. Roadside assistance also tells us that they will pay for 12 miles of towing....and after that the tow will most likely cost $10 a mile.  So $500.

Armed with smartphones and the bottles of water I wisely bought at the onset of our journey, I look for rental car places in the Twin Cities and find the airport. AIRPORT!!!! I book a rental car at the airport while Terrance, the savvy negotiator that he is, schmoozes the tow driver via phone for a heavily discounted rate ($3 a mile) and a promise of a cash tip if he will drive the three of us to the airport after we drop the car off at a mechanic in the Twin Cities.

A Plan! It comes together!

The blessed tow driver appears and hooks our car to his flatbed. He cleans out a portion of the extended cab and Emily and I cram our bodies into the back. Please envision my legs at a severe 87 degree angle, with one foot twisted at an very odd angle as I drape myself over a mobile battery kit.  I also have not one but TWO wrenches digging into my left hip.

However, I care not. We are moving.

The sainted driver seems a typical tow truck driver. A dude's kind of dude. Late 40's.  He makes typical small talk with Terrance. Asks what does Terrance do for work, then some light politics chat.

This starts to get dodgey, as he wants to complain about "people on entitlements", but Terrance smooths this over. I hide behind my giant sunglasses. Tow driver asks if we watch the History 2 channel.

Now this wasn't a segue I expected. I listen with interest.

Tow driver talks about the shows on the channel, emphasizing the ones about the legal marijuana grow operations. He emphasizes this twice.  He begins to expound on the uses of hemp. I say "It makes a lovely fabric" because I think in terms of fabric and what I can make from it.

We are an hour into the ride when he shares that he ran a large grow operation in a Southern State for 16 years. When he got caught, he had 360 plants. He served 13 months in prison through a deal and is now on parole.

Emily and I start squeezing each others hands, which is usually a code for "Did you hear that?" We go silent and I am so grateful for my very large, very dark sunglasses.

Terrance, bless him, takes this in stride. Tow Driver expands on the particulars of who was the informant, and the circle he ran with and the things they got up to, including hustling pool.

Emily and I sit in the back, contorted into bizarre positions, eyes wide as saucers.

We get to where we are going and drop off the car. Tow Driver transfers us to his car ( inherited from his father who was married 4 times, and the last marriage to a younger woman who went through all of his money while he had Alzheimer's) and drives us to the airport.

We get the rental car and finally get to our hotel by 7:20 p.m.. We looked so sad and bedraggled that the lovely front desk gentleman upgrades us to a suite at no extra charge.  We ask for directions to the theatre because we have 30 minutes to get to the show. Daniel, the front desk gentleman, informs us that he has a shuttle! And will drive us as soon as we put our bags down!

We make it into the theatre with 10 minutes to spare.

The show was wonderful. We laughed ( Not Terrance, but Em and I), we bought overpriced Tshirts, and tried to explain three years of plot lines to an uninterested Terrance.

We sat down for our first meal of the day at 10:30 p.m.

As the first drink arrived, I began to giggle. Emily began to giggle. Terrance said "What?"

I put my head down on the table and began to really laugh.  As I looked up I said "Honest to God, if I hadn't just lived through that I wouldn't have believed it all. I mean, the grow operation and the prison sentence and just - all of it."

Terrance begins to laugh too. Then, with all seriousness he turns to Emily and says "And this is why you stay in school."

I begin to laugh so hard that I nearly fall out of my chair.

It seems I was in a classic mid-80's after school special.

Stay in school, kids.


Words matter

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I've spent 27 years caring for other people's children.

I have no complaints about how I have chosen and managed my career. It was the absolute right choice for me and I do not recall a single day in which I hated my job. I may have hated budgets or policy or standardized tests, but the children and the job? Never.

I never expected to become wealthy doing what I do. Those of us who have worked in early care and education for any length of time can empathize with the plight of our students who, after investing in their education, are asked to work for near poverty wages. The last year I worked in direct care, I earned just over 13,000 dollars. For 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year work during which I cared for eight infants and toddlers ages 6 weeks -18 months of age.

For a very long time I have taken the view that what we call things matter. Words denote respect.  If I call you a babysitter, I have subtly denoted that I am not paying for for anything more than temporary, unskilled work. Babysitters bring to mind an image of a teenager who works on a limited, temporary basis without a great deal of education in child development or curriculum.

Would it be appropriate to call me at age 23, a person with a 4 year degree, a babysitter?

No. It would not.

Day care is a term that aligns with babysitter. While it may have been helpful to discuss "daycare" circa 1889 in Hull House ( which is when we saw some of the first formalized non family care for working women), it is a term that needs to be left on that side of history.

I do not care for days. I care for children. I am not a temporary worker without education who provides unskilled labor.

I recently had words in another online venue with fellow PhD holders about their continued use of the term "daycare". I am considered to be an outlier in my opinion and continued reiteration that they use the term "child care" instead of "daycare. Most of these people with advanced degrees simply can't figure out why I insist on drawing this distinction. The feeling I get from these interactions is that I am being pedantic and silly.

Yet, I continue to insist that I am neither. I am a woman with an advanced degree in a field that continues to be underpaid and way undervalued. I see my students march into a working world in which they are also underpaid and undervalued.  The important work of shaping brains through experiences and supporting families continues to be considered "less than" in the field of education. I mean why on earth would you work with toddlers when you could teach in elementary school?

While others may casually talk about their "daycare providers", I see an inherent disrespect in that term.  Implicit in any inherent disrespect is a devaluing of the work you do - I get to look down on your work because it is less valuable than that of a teacher.  And we all know that teachers are less valuable than medical doctors.

What happens in high quality early childhood environments is far more than warehousing of the bodies of children. We are laying the foundation for thinking, for perceiving, for understanding.

We deserve some respect. We deserve to be called more than babysitters who provide daycare.

We are early care and education professionals and we provide child care.






Fledgling

Thursday, March 17, 2016


The thing you don't want to do, when laying with 25 acupuncture needles inserted into your body, is to make a sudden movement.

Your muscles will tense. They will tense around the needle.  They will lock onto the needle and drive it more deeply into your body, a subtle tensile pull.

You will come out of your foggy liminal state into pain.  Radiating waves of intense pain. You will forget what has happened because you were in the liminal state, floating elsewhere in your consciousness when your leg made the independent decision to stretch out, toes flexing.

The word that shouts into your skull cavity is "RELEASE!" You do not shout this out loud because you would startle the other people in the room who are, presumably, deep in their own fuzzy liminal states.  Instead you focus on the word and the mechanical process of trying to consciously unclench your muscle from around the needle.

This is not a swift process. Moment before you were not asleep and not awake. "RELEASE.RELEASE.RELEASE.RELEASE" loops like a warning siren, rattling around your previously fluffy, zen brain cavity.

The body reacts to pain by withdrawing, pulling back into itself. This is not unique to humans. All living organisms withdraw from pain.  What I must simultaneously manage is my body withdrawing, locking up, locking down, sending messages to my fingers to "GET IT OUT" with the awareness that removing the needle does not help.  Removing the thing causing my pain does not help. The benefit will only come when I walk up to the pain and melt myself around it.

I take deep breaths and exhale slowly.  It must be clear to the others in the room that something has happened. There has been a shift in my breathing and the others must have noticed, the way a parent can hear when the sleep cycle of their child is disturbed.  You hear it before you hear it.

In tiny increments, the circles of pain begin to subside.  I breathe.  "Don't fear the pain", I say to the "RELEASE" siren.   I do not ignore it, I do not console myself that it will be better soon if I just wait long enough.

I am tapping at my shell.


Limits

Monday, January 11, 2016

An open letter to my beloved siblings:

If you plan a vacation to Japan to intentionally visit the "Suicide Forest", do not anticipate that I will drop what I am doing to come save you when you are trapped as some forlorn ghost.

I love you, but come on.

Baleful Regards,
Your oldest sibling.


lists from 3 a.m.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Did I remember to change the office hours in my syllabus?


I must refill the school lunch account for Em. Those reminders are worse than the cheery "Hey! It's time for your student loan payment to be snatched out of your savings acct!"  You'd think that the .20 we own the school district is what is keeping the god dammed lights on.


Since I am awake, I might was well update my library order list. I've finished all my pleasure reading as of yesterday so it is either re-read the Genome book, or read work  things, which I do not want to read.  Let me order  40 books then obsessively read until I develop bedsores.


Cat. Honest to god.  You must scratch at your litter for like 35 minutes. There are no predators here. I get rid of your poop as soon as you vacate the space.  And do not fuck with the rabbit. He's sleeping. Like I should be.


Should I take more melatonin? Melly tonin. Mellie Tone-in. If I take more then the dreams will be off the fucking planet.  And not in a good way.  If I don't, I may stay awake until 5 or six, then collapse and wake up far too late.


It has now been six days since I've left the house.  I mean yeah, I shower and change clothes. But I don't LEAVE - not even to go get the mail. Fuck the mail. I think Terrence worries, but I am happy in my cave of flannel sheets and books and mugs of mint tea.  It isn't depression.


I will have acupuncture in a few days. I'll leave the house then. That will be good.


I should definitely not look at Korean skin care products. I should also not research when I can use my microdermabrasion tool again. It's bad enough that I own a microdermabrasion tool.


There is something I should remember....but I don't. I can feel it sliding out of my view.


It is not depression. I just need to keep a better schedule so I am not awake in the middle of the night.


I'm lonely, but I don't really want to see anybody. Sometimes this is how I feel about food. I am hungry but nothing appeals so I just wait until the hunger moves on.

I shall move a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer - and start the dishwasher. I like padding through the house at night, deep into the hours of 2 and 3 a.m. It makes me feel like a house-elf who only works when no one is looking.


I just finished a book in which the main character uses cutting to relieve his inner pain and shame to control his outward expressions of rage.  I've not dug at my skin for a long time, but this book woke something back up - I *felt* the urge when I read the descriptions of his cutting.  I think the author wanted to use the cutting as a literary device, or some abuse trope but I felt it.  Then I wondered if the author was a cutter and was whispering out to those of us who understand the appeal of harming ourselves in order to quiet the inner swirl.   I sometimes wonder if my obsession with my skin is a subversion of my desire to pick, pull, tug, rip at my own skin.


I wonder if I can point to the products on my shelf as a healthy foci of this obsession, a "see! I've mastered it" - which is all I ever really want, isn't it. Mastery.  If I focus hard enough, I will master it all. No one will unquiet me. My crumbley mortar will hold and repel.  I will reach across pain and sadness to an untouchable stillness, a zen of imperturbability. Safe.


****


This above is a typical cycle of small-m Mania that sometimes consumes me at night, particularly if I am not sleeping. Night is difficult for me.  I crave the silence, because it feels close, intimate, mine. However, I can spin, whirl, tumble into places in my mind that can exhaust me. Not simple physical exhaustion, but something deeper. Deeper than bone. 

I am all right, truly. I wake from these evenings aware of what has happened - embarrassed and a bit befuddled, but not scarred. 


These are my winter doldrums.







 
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