Friday I completed the first week of my new job. Full time. Me. In a basement somewhere in Baltimore County, MD. I am not going to give too many details of this job, since it would be in bad taste and judgment, especially when I’ve just started. It would probably be a different story if I’d been there for, like, twenty years or something, like MANY of the people I’ve encountered in the past week. But since it has been only five days, I’m gonna keep my big mouth shut on this blog.

In terms of how this new situation is affecting my daughters, their lives have not changed so much. Their father installed car seats in his car, so he now takes them to school in the mornings, which they love. They were already kind of used to staying at school till 3 or 4. Now I pick them up at 4:30, and half the time they want to stay later and play with their friends. The other half of the time, they’re looking pretty tired. As am I.

I think my transition is the difficult one. At least from my point of view. The past four years have been spent focused on how not to screw up the girls, but also how to not lose my self. This week I was feeling very lost. Identity as a mother, identity as an employee, identity as a wife. But the identity that should be the concrete (Beenie was asking me about concrete this week) foundation of all of those other identities, is sadly lack-luster.

Yes, my stress level went down at obtaining said job, but this week as I realized how it IS possible to have even less time with which to be a creative person than I had when I was home full-time with my infant daughters. I’d rather lose my artistic time to them than to a job. But this is what most parents of children struggle with, right? And they don’t have the 35 hour workweek that I do, or the ability to show up at 8 and leave at 4, like me. This is the least obtrusive full-time situation I can imagine, so I’ll go back Tuesday (thank you MLKjr/first federal holiday of my new job), bring my own coffee, continue trying to sort out the gigantic scope of work I was presented with last week, and look forward to getting my first paycheck on January 28th. Hopefully when my bank account swells, I’ll be able to get some perspective with all of this change. Another thing I will be able to do because of this job is help to get my family a mortgage on a house in the neighborhood where the public schools are free and good. Just like my parents did forty-two years ago when they were met with similar circumstances. My job is located in the very neighborhood we’re looking in, and once we’ve identified which house we can afford/like, that will be an additional benefit.

All of that said, I really just want to paint some paintings.


delicious, moldy, rotten pumpkin

Nothing says cornucopia like a furry, rotting pumpkin on one’s front porch. Daily the squirrels nibbled the tasty morsels, and when the sun shone on the droopy orange delicacy, the flies congregated and held snacking parties on it. My husband made me remove it and the scattered seeds from the porch. Hopefully some random seeds were scattered into the front yard so another fantastic pumpkin patch will rise up next summer and produce some pun’kins for next year’s residents, who will hopefully not be us.

Last Thursday and Friday something strange happened in child/parent land. In my house. I actually felt like I was doing a good job as a parent. This isn’t a feeling I have frequently, amid fighting, competing, stealing, wrestling daughters. There was an unusual calm and focus from both girls in their own realms, sitting at the kitchen table.

Beenie worked on one of her many “books”– drawing pictures of things and people, then writing the names of the objects she drew. Her letters are beautiful and exact, like her. And Mimi was also drawing and writing, in her own way, usually her name, forward and backward, and drawing other miscellaneous letters, too. And singing. She loves to sing and has a strong, clear voice. Both girls were supportive of one another. Both were calm. It was strange and wonderful. And I hope it happens again today.

Though I don’t really define my self by my children’s actions, their actions inevitably affect me —  this experience of parenting can be so hard. Especially when trying to do the right thing for both girls, at the same time. Two girls who are so completely different. Whose ways of learning are so different. I can’t wait to have them in different classes so they can grow into their own, fantastic, individual people.

The past weeks are blurred with job applications and interviews. I’m considering a full-time career  just doing interviews. Do you think there’s a market for such a thing? Could be a funny premise for a short video. The Interviewee. Pom D’Or next year. Word.

September song

Hello, almost autumn. You’re cool enough to be autumn, anyway. Soon enough. Soon enough, I say… no rush back to the double blizzard kill my family in a Shining sort of way from last year’s winter. Take your time, old, cold.

I was contemplating wrapping up this blog recently. It’s been almost three years (more like 2.5, 3 in February). My daughters are turning four at the end of this month. I am currently not feeling completely and totally, almost every minute overwhelmed by being a parent. I realize this may be an aberration, a hiccup, a break in the mommy matrix, and that soon again my blood pressure will rise at the realization of how seemingly impossible this job is. 24 hours/day, every day, for the rest of my life. I am not thinking about the rest of my life, tho, at the moment. I am thinking once again in the constant now. And not out of any sort of conscious choice. It is just how things are working out. Sure, sure, there are challenges… like watching Mimi, who wakes up like a proverbial angel almost every day, and degenerates into the devil’s minion at around 5 p.m. every day, punching, pushing and berating her sister, teasing her mercilessly… Sure. There’s that. And listening to her abused sister Beenie being forced, and rightfully so, to tattle on Mimi and her bad bad ways. Though, if she’s not tattling, she may take matters into her own hands, and those hands are powerful my friends. Beenie is no wilting flower, as they say. She’s mighty big and very strong and when she’s had enough she will, indeed, open that well-deserved can of whoop-ass on her sweet and rotten sister. She’s just been in such trouble from the past history of her own bad behavior, I think she thinks she’s not really allowed to beat on Mimi. Which she’s not. But then, if she can’t fight back, and she can’t tattle, what can she do? I guess I’ll take the minute-to-minute reporting of the cruelties enlisted by Mimi, when the alternative is more violence. Oh, the violence. Oh the toddler humanity. Are they even toddlers anymore? Doesn’t that seem like a title not befitting a four year old?

The thing, though, is, that when they’re NOT fighting, they will retreat to their room or downstairs when I’m upstairs and play. Together. Detailed, time consuming play. That does not need to involve me. And this may be what has given me pause to not pull out my graying hair. They have each other. They always have and always will, unless they kill each other. I take great comfort in their companionship. And wonder if it has suddenly given me the smallest amount of space in which to re-investigate my own identity. I know its in here somewhere. It may be ready to come back out again. I hope it does soon. I miss me, whoever she may be.

Maybe I’ll keep writing here. It’s cheaper than therapy, and its fun to put up pictures. I just don’t want it to lose the miserable edge it once had. Nobody wants to read about how well things are working. They want dirt. Despair. Don’t they? All three of you who read this thing? Maybe mildly plodding through will have to be enough for now.

Speaking of miserable, creating art continues to be hugely rewarding and utterly unrewarded. Except, of course, for supportive friends and the occasional patron of said art. I am remiss in mailing the Puddle Painting out west to its new home. It’s the proper packaging that delays me. Why does it take so long for me to complete even the simplest tasks? I did manage to send off a rolled-up drawing last week to Boomerang!, which looks like a cool thing to participate in. And progress on the Beet-Shell-Flower painting is slowly crawling along. I believe that piece will complete the “2010 — Year of Making Things for Other People” project. It has been a good year art-wise, considering I’ve had less time this year to work on painting and such than at any other time of my life (except for the girls’ pregnancy, but it wasn’t a lack of time that held me back then, it was feeling like shit for about 9 months, then being attached to said babies for another however many months…). And it has been good for me to have assignment-type goals to work toward. It made what little time I did have more productive. And I believe it actually gave me some fresh ideas of directions to pursue in the future. So all around it was a good year. I think next year I would like to begin to build a new body of work. I realize that I’ve sold off most of my pre-parenting work, so it is time. I’m a very different person and artist now. I look forward to making more new things.

Happy fall, y’all!

Gen HeX

Oh geez… it’s starting to happen. My personal demographic mirror, the New York Times makes it official. GenX is hittin’ mid-life crisis. Of course, it’s only the male GenX-ers who write about it (or, rather, are recognized for writing about it), who are feeling the true ennui. S’up with that?! Where’s the wimmin’s representin? I KNOW you ladies are just as freaked out as the dudes. Am I wrong?

I have had a mid-life crisis occur every ten years or so since my early twenties. Usually I  just move to a different city, start a fresh new life, change up the friends a bit (though, eventually, all your friends end up living in one of the same cities you do, so a true chance for rebirth doesn’t actually exist, which is okay by me. LOVE the friends.) 22, 30, 42… you get the idea. I think my most recent MLC happened this past summer into fall, when my daughters went from babies to being grown-up girls in a matter of months. That just about threw me over the edge, that and the fact that I hadn’t had non-parenting interactions with other adults in three years. Hate to say it, but my acquiring a part-time job as the girls embraced their three day/week preschool schedule, God help me, has lifted a miserable little depression from my head. The timing was great for all of it. I think I might be becoming part normal again, whatever that means. Less isolated, I guess. Better dressed.

The horrific tantrums of the last few weeks seem to have softened. Mostly gone away. I’m trying to be sensitive to these EXTREMELY LOUD outbursts (imagine two healthy shrieking girls screaming in your ears at once-ouch!), to be present instead of exhausted and mad. The effort perhaps has worked. Weird. I’m not taking out my earplugs yet, tho. Don’t wanna be caught off-guard.

There is a strange something in the miasma. I’m feelin’ it. Not sure what’s up. Do you know what it is? Seven year itch? Seven year bitch? Really. What is going on around here?

Almost spring

My “free” time of late has not been spent being creative in any way, unless you consider procuring clothing to appear as if I belong in an office work environment a creative endeavor. Maybe it is. I certainly do not appear to be the same person who had the life sucked out of her these past three years since becoming a mother. As I write this, I would like to clarify that the life that was sucked out of me was the life I was leading before becoming pregnant with Mimi and Beenie. That life is gone. I’m not sure if it had completely disappeared during the eight week bedrest pre-birth, but whatever remnants were left post-birth were vaporized during the first few months of the girls’ lives outside my belly. I’m still not entirely sure what this life is yet, but I am sure that it is a denser and more thoroughly lived life than the one I lived before. Not to say that the previous one was not delicious, because, sweet lord, oh it was good. It was simple and it was self-involved and full of sleep of all kinds. It was creative in this wonderfully self-serving way, and I painted and made music and videos and traveled. Never made much money, but it always seemed just about enough to support my varied interests. Goodbye, really good life. I am grateful for your memory, experience and knowledge. This most current iteration of existence I’m still kind of new at, though feel more seasoned each month. I suppose I could liken it to using muscles I’ve always had but never needed. A good physical example being when I attended a yoga class a few months back, shocked by my new upper body strength in plank pose, thanks entirely to lifting two 40-ish pound girls all day, all night, every day and night. Flexing parenthood. You can always spot the old pros. They’ve got a certain look in their eyes. My eyes are still in the ‘I wish I had more sleep’ phase of knowing something.

I came to the tearful realization that these sweet and powerful daughters I now have will one day not want to sit on my lap. The past few years I’ve craved my own lap, rarely having it, but today for some reason the idea of a cold lap became the saddest thing ever. I was silently weeping as they rested and fought over me and rested again, finally both warming me. I know it must happen, of course. But the separation isn’t going to be a kind thing.

calculatus eliminatus

Everyone loves you when you’re a freelancer. Or temporary. There’s a certain Je ne sais quoi about someone who isn’t in the office from 9-5 every day, won’t always be available for meetings unless you give them lots of notice. I’m still the new girl in town. I know it. I see the tired eyes of the full-time office workers. My eyes are tired, too — not from sitting under florescent lights all day, knowing there is no end to this existence — but from being woken up two times every night to get certain 3 year old ladies to the potty. Still, though, I am not yet a known entity. In many ways I don’t want to be known, or owned, as the case may be. I like being hourly. Some weeks I can make lots of moolah, hopefully balancing out the weeks I just can’t do anything because my girls have infected me with numerous illnesses. I like not knowing. As long as I complete my projects when I say I will, I hope things will continue to run smoothly.

That’s what I’ve been up to, ya know. Working. The ladies have been going to school from 9:15-3, MWF. That gives me four solid hours to either go into the office to work, or work from home. I like both. What has changed is this: time they are spending in school has transferred from time I spend cleaning the house, or going grocery shopping, or writing my blog, to doing web stuff, trying to make a buck. Attempting to appear bona fide. For real.

I miss this, though. I miss having an hour or two, once or twice a week to tidy up, drink a cup of coffee, think about stuff, by myself. I lost this part of my life this past summer when daily naps disappeared, then again, when I started working more and they started staying in school longer so I could work longer, so they could stay in school longer… uh oh.

Nothing creative has happened in weeks. Nothing creative will happen again, until it does. Until it must. I’m going to go downstairs, get a big glass of water, take the last pill of my latest course of antibiotics, and lie in bed. No cocktails, no stretching or thinking. Just laying down on my bed. Waiting for someone to wake me up to piss. I am happy last night/this morning revealed nothing more than a light dusting of snow. Thanks, mother nature. And I am also glad my daughters are healthy again, back in school, and generally wonderful. Both stripped five minutes before we went upstairs for the bedtime ritual tonight, ‘swimming in the pool’, which meant jumping naked off the purple chair in the living room, onto a pile of pillows they set up as ‘slides’. Brrrr!