Augustus Gloop

Last day of August. All the things that happen this time of year have started happening. They actually started happening at the end of July. The weather turned cool — COOL! Felt like late September for much of this summer. Fantastique, or lame if you got a summer membership to the pool down the street and skipped the entire month of August. That was NOT COOL. Next year we may forgo the pool altogether since Mimi and Beenie go to a summer camp where they swim twice a day. By the time I picked them up in the afternoons, they could’ve care less about a big container of chlorinated water.

Sun diagram painting

Our summer was amazing in the following ways:

  • Mimi learned how to swim, then learned how to swim really well
  • Beenie got to be an even better swimmer
  • Both girls learned how to ride bikes!
  • Went to the beach for a week and collected tons of great rocks
  • Started re-watching Trailer Park Boys which really helps keep things in perspective
  • Worked on some art

The summer didn’t change the fact that husband and I still go to work every day. Strangely, I like my job, so for me it’s a bonus. I could work a few days less per week, but for the most part, I truly enjoy most of what I’m doing. Summer is not a special time. It’s just different. We have to pay extra money for summer camp, which sucks. But there is still a different amount of time and daylight to play with. Fall is workin’ time. Get the fuck back to work.

I swear, the girls’ school sent them home with homework THE FIRST DAY THEY GOT BACK FROM FIRST GRADE! Why isn’t it enough to learn stuff during the day? I don’t understand, I truly do not. And no amount of convincing will make me think it’s right for a 7 year old to be doing homework in the two and a half hours after school before bed. Nothing is being learned at this time of the evening.

In terms of art, some of the larger flower paintings got worked on this summer. And many new maps are in process. Once the girls have started up the Sunday school/church combo again Sunday mornings, I’ll have my quiet time back, and should be able to focus on finishing up some pieces. The next large project will be trying to figure out what to do with all the art once completed. That’s the part I struggle with, since it can take years before a real body of work is ready to be exposed to people other than me, it’ hard to keep up the art momentum. I’m not a great salesperson. I do need a new computer, though, which gives me some impetus to sell some stuff. Also to make room in my studio to make more art.

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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.

1/2 glass of whine, #2


Someone brought a bottle of nice white wine (Cab Sauv Blanc) to the house last night for dinner.

**OMG, Beenie just threw herself on the ground screaming, in tears “I WANNA WATCH MORE TWEETY BIRD!” I just had to share this with you.**

Back to the whine, I mean wine, I mean whine. I mean wine. I drank a glass of it last night with a delish vegan/gluten-free dinner I prepared:

  • black beans with chipotle peppers
  • brown and wild rice
  • fresh guacamole, with lots of fresh lime and cilantro and garlic and onion

And wine. I drank it. My ears are ringing from having three and a half year olds SCREAMING right next to me for long periods of time, every single day. That glass of wine did not give me a headache. I followed it by copious amounts of water. Tonight, after what I can safely say was an off-and-on grueling day, I consumed another glass of wine, then another half glass. And that is where I am right now. Maybe that’s why I seem to have fluid fingers to type an entry. The grape is loosening it all up. No shooting brain pain yet, but I think I’ll pour me a nice glass of water to make sure. But I gotta say, a little alcohol soothes the frazzled edges of nerves that used to supply impulses to my extremities. My first thought is to have more wine, but I’m going to ignore this until after the girls are in bed. No need to ruin this truly muted experience.

It’s all true, you know. Parenthood is hard, then it gets easier, then it gets really hard, then it is delightful, then it gets really fucking hard, simultaneously being a breeze in some ways. Not for the weak, because my friends, it will crush you. It is crushing me and also making me much stronger than I was pre-children. Dammit.

“NO! YES! NO! YES! NO! YES! YES! YES! YES! NO!” this is the conversation I just had with Mimi. And she’s still pissed. And so am I, but I’m just pissed with a little wine. She’s actually mad, not yet beaten down, like me.

I called my 90 year-old Grandmother to wish her a happy 90th birthday today. As always, me being on the phone demands one of my children, usually Beenie, to lose her shit. Today was no different. Oh she was howling! Luckily, my Grandmother, who miraculously survived a bout with a stroke,  skin cancer, and a heart attack, is now hard of hearing, so she probably wasn’t as bothered by the little terror’s screams as I was. But goddammit! I can’t fucking call my NINETY YEAR OLD Grandmother on her birthday without this?! I can feel my blood pressure racing as I think about this, while writing about it.

Right now I am feeling desperate, like if I don’t get some serious time to myself, painting, it ain’t gonna be pretty. Might try the wakeupat6amtomorrow to paint strategy, so that my absence isn’t even noticed. Better yet, I’ll try the leave at 9am and don’t come back till Monday at 9 to drive the girls to school plan. That one sounds better. Though less likely to happen. A girl can dream, can’t she?

At least my poor husband spent the day cursing customer service people both in the U.S. and India, trying to get our new cable phone and interwebs up and running after firing the heinous Verizon. He’s seeming kinda frazzled, too. Maybe the girls will just chill the f out tonight and sleep. Please, buddahgodbugsbunny. Please hear my prayers.

Frigid


I’m having flashbacks to my five years spent in Chicago lately. Today wasn’t too bad, probably because my body temperature is elevated due to a certain monthly visitor… speaking of which… shouldn’t that just go away after you have all the kids you want? There is no longer a biological necessity to menstruate, and shit, I’m 42 years old. Why bleed? It is the stuff of teenagers — Stayfree, BabySoft, LipSmacker. Free me from this tyranny of tampons! I AM FINISHED! The days are hard enough without having to worry about bleeding through my jammies. TMI, eh?

As I was saying, cold and windy. S’posed to snow again tonight, too. Strange for winter in Baltimore. Usually there aren’t any noticeable snow accumulations, maybe a week or two of coldness, some rain, then it is springtime. This winter has been snowy and really cold for almost two weeks now. The sun was out today. It felt good on my face as I strolled in Fells Point from my car to my job. I love typing that I have a job, even though it doesn’t crack ten hours per week usually. I’m still happy to put on grown-up clothes one morning a week and try to be a part of an office culture. Trying to find outfits that don’t give me away is hard. Most of my clothes have permanent stains of some sort, small holes, or are just shabby looking. This has been a fine costume for the past three years, running with wolves, aka toddlers. But I should have a separate, locked-up pile of clothes I can slip into and appear to the outside world that I belong, even if I don’t entirely think it in my head. Packaging is everything in this instance. Today I discussed content management systems, WordPress, canonical header tags, and broken links with my supervisor/friend. Delicious.

I got home from work, changed, then after the girls had eaten they started fighting on our tall, hardwood staircase, at the top of course. I walked over to yell at them for fighting on the stairs, and Beenie let go or Mimi let go of the ribbon they were fighting over, then Beenie did a SOMERSAULT down a stair or two and because I was there yelling at them, I happened to catch her as her head bashed into the side of the staircase. Big blue goose egg over her forehead. Ice pack. Bring it. She and her sister are now sitting on the couch with their Dada, watching The Simpsons. I think she will live, and I think I may survive this spill, too. It is weird how much this event DID NOT freak me out. All those years of babysitting when I was in my teens and 20’s showed me many a goose egg. Beenie’s was a very small lump compared to the doozies I’ve seen over the years. One instance where being old and experienced benefited parenthood.

My scourge is essentially gone. No cough drops today, almost done my anti-biotics. Lots of good cough medicine and no reason to take it. Still have a day or two before I’ll feel up to drinking booze. Maybe I can have a thimble of scotch before bed. Medicine. Right?

Christmas tree came down Monday or Tuesday. I can’t really remember which. It had solidified into a large, dry piece of firewood, so I carefully removed the cardboard ornaments and paper chains, threw the worn ones into the recycling bag, kept a few, bagged ’em up and put into the basement for next year. A real tradition started, for my own little family! How exciting! So not the trauma, crying fit Christmas season I’m used to. Kind of festive despite the month long scourge and no money. I suspect no money took the pressure off buying things. Yeah for no money, in this one instance.

I went to the studio and painted for about an hour and-a-half Wednesday morning while the girls were in school. It was tedious and fantastic. Greens and yellows. I’m gonna be ready for a loose painting experience once I’m done the big flower piece. Maybe some Camera Morte based paintings are in order. They tend to be in an abstract vein. It seems like a month since I was able to get away and paint. One day maybe I can spend a few days a week painting. Visualize this, along with the piles of money required to achieve this goal. Happy New Year.

Time keeps on slippin’


When was I here last? A week ago? Oh, December 9th. Five days. Seems longer. Maybe because in that entire five days I have not had one second during which I could go into a quiet room and type. The girls are back in school today. They will stay for the pathetic snack-based lunch I packed for them, until collected around 12:45. I have 2.5 hours before then. Vacuuming must be done, and hummus must be made. Those are the two things I cannot do with the girls in the house. TOO LOUD! they say. So, when they tell me they don’t want to go to ‘cool in the morning, I tell them that I will be doing all the loud things while they are out, and it somehow makes getting them there easier.

This is what I have learned after two and a half months of preschool:

  1. Make sure you have some kind of pop-tart thingy in your house for quick morning brekky bribery food tool.
  2. Orchestrate things so that they are already wearing most of next-day’s outfit when they go to bed, making the possibility for a morning fight over clothing almost impossible.
  3. Really, really give yourself more than a half-hour between waking up and getting out door. Forty-five minutes is better than thirty.
  4. Do you have coffee in the house when you return from dropping them off? If not, pick something up on the way home. Even better if some kind of muffin or bagel accompanies it. With butter.
  5. They are gonna get sick. Come to terms with this and do your best not to get sick also. And if you do feel like you’re getting sick, take zinc and go to bed very early. Sleep seems to the be the best defense against illness.
  6. Try not to get stressed out in the morning, because they do pick up on your stress and will use it against you.

My brain is flat. I managed to paint for one hour yesterday, which was all the time in the past week I’ve had to do so. Sad sad sad. At least I have work to look to with a ray of hope. I never in my life thought I’d think, much less utter those words. But I do love my small, 10ish or less hours of work I have to focus on each week. I love my co-workers, if you can call them that, working only 1oish hours. In reality they are my adult, non-friend or co-parent friend contacts. They speak to me in terms of websites, links, forms, content management systems. Documents to decipher, web architecture to build from. Their emotional involvement in dealing with me is pleasant and respectful, quiet, well-dressed. They go to the bathroom without my help and if they are thirsty or hungry, I wouldn’t know about it, since they don’t alert me to such things. Which is nice. Truthfully, I’m so happy to come home after being in an office for one day, seeing Mimi and Beenie’s gorgeous faces and seeing them healthfully whirl around the house like the wild animals they are. But those few hours being purely cerebral and computery are golden. For now. I’m sure I’ll curse it all when I’m back to working full-time, in the next six months, year or whatever, but for now, I am loving this escape called work.

Was in a pissy mood when I walked into the painting studio yesterday morning, but things lightened up when I saw my old pals, the big flower painting, the puddle painting and the neglected octopus painting. Haven’t worked on the octopus since the hellishly hot and muggy days of summer, so when I managed to do a little work with Sap Green on those tentacles yesterday, it really warmed my cold, black heart. The big flower painting got some of that Sap Green action, too, but more so with Cobalt Violet, all over the big flower bloom in the center of the canvas. In a way, it is perfect to only work on this big piece for an hour or two per week, because there needs to be a good deal of drying between layers, and a week is a good amount of time for most pigments to settle onto the canvas. In another way, if I had, say, forty or fifty hours per week to spend on painting, I’d be able to produce a cohesive body of work, not just one piece here and there, which I’d prefer. I know it is not realistic, and I know it does not fit into my current reality of supporting two extra people in our house. So what.

I made a vegan/gluten-free banana cream pie yesterday, which is sitting in the fridge, still not solid, but warbly. I’m not sure I want to eat it. I may have to stick to making fruit pies and pumpkin-type pies. This one involved a double boiler, which I can tell you right now is WAAAAAY out of my pie-making element. But you gotta try new pies, right? Maybe I learned something from this experience. Not sure what. Perhaps not to make cream pies again… Oh dairy, why havest thou forsaken me?!

The Charlie Brown xmas tree sits on our counter, looking cute and full of cut-out cardboard paper chains and ornaments. Still haven’t fixed/finished the tin foil star on top, but it is coming together. Maybe it will be finished by Christmas.

The second cup of coffee is being made. I am going to make like the cute, organized, satisfied, efficient little housewife that I am not and try to get some of the cat hair and crumbs off the rugs on the first floor, perhaps making it up to the second floor rugs, too. But more likely, not. Wish me luck, or not.

sleeping beauties

dc
adieu, diaper champ. adieu.

This afternoon presents me with a rare treat… sleeping daughters. They have actively denied me and their tired selves the pleasure of a nap for weeks, months… I cannot remember. Alls I know is I have not written here in a while, not regularly, and it is because the only time I have, ever, at any point during the day or night to do this is when they nap. So here I am, whoever I am, writing. We went to Callum, J. and Janet’s place this morning to play and then a quick and annoying trip to Target to search for shoes followed. They passed out in the car on the way back and remain sleeping now, almost a forty-five minutes after we returned home.

There is some kind of shift happening in my life at the moment. There is probably always some kind of shift occurring, but this one seems large scale to me, different than the one million small shifts that happen every day. Mimi and Beenie are getting older and less baby-like. Three this coming September 25th. Hard to imagine how much they have changed in only three years. That is always what parents say about their children. Their starting preschool in September, also, marks a large change, a moving away from total dependence on me. The slow beginning of separation, three mornings per week. As much as I need this to happen and they need it to happen, it is still somehow sad. I’m so grateful I’ve had the past three years to be immersed in such profound love, need and insanity. Such genius and humanity. Uh oh, I’m gonna cry. It is the nature of mothers to cry, you know.

What is not going to make me weep will be the moment the well-used and much hated Diaper Champ leaves the house. It stinks to high heaven after almost three years of piss and shite. Now that the ladies use the potty all of the time except for nighty-night time, there is really no longer a need for this capsule of stench. I will expedite this most glorious of tasks and we will all be better for it.

Since I have absolutely no time alone, ever (except for right this second), there has been no art production. And it is this lack of quiet contemplation and pure visceral channeling of energies into paint or pencils or music or video that is driving me the most mad at the moment. I’m assuming once I have the chance to devote an hour or two per week, when the ladies are in preschool, to this pursuit of creative expression, I will feel less desperate. Until then, it will be mopping up urine and trying to keep my head from exploding off my neck. Oh yeah, and finding a flexible job that fits comfortably in with the machinery of our family.