Old skool

Section of a map project I'm working on. Crappy photo.

Today’s post is total old skool stylee. Home at 3:48 in the afternoon, fixin’ to leave in ten minutes to collect the ladies from school. Stayed home today because I’m sick, and now that I am employed, I get paid to be sick. I should get sick more often. Really tho, nobody likes a germ carrier polluting the already questionable air in the fluorescent cube-land where I work. I’m hacking in my own space today.

We moved into our house at the end of April 2011, and today, October 20, 2011 is the first day I’ve had all to myself in this house. It has taken six months for me to have total peace. And peaceful it has been, friends. Almost napped with two cats pinning me down, drank tea and coffee, coughed and sucked on cough drops. Contemplated the cause and cure for canker sores (OUCH), wrote a bit. Read a bit. Walked to the grocery store to get some healthy food to help me feel better, and make for my family. And here I am. Still have to unload the dishwasher, maybe throw in a load of laundry. But those are things I typically do once I’ve picked up the girls and come home after work. Those things can wait.

I could use a couple thousand more days like today. Not necessarily sick, tho. Just quiet and curious. And gettin’ paid for it.

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ten pros and cons of non-employment

PROS

  1. wearing the same clothes for two or more days in a row (not including sox and undies! those get changed daily, thankyouverymuch)
  2. don’t have to shell out $2/hour to park in front of work
  3. don’t have to pick up coffee and treat on way to work
  4. don’t have to get ready for work whilst also getting children ready for school
  5. don’t have to pack the children’s lunches since I can’t afford for them to stay and eat lunch at school
  6. have the whole day to bake and make food for my family
  7. can take the children to the library or other places after school since I pick them up at noon
  8. don’t have to shower as much as when I go to work
  9. back doesn’t hurt so much when I’m not sitting in front of the computer all day
  10. two longish driving trips are erased when I’m not driving to work after driving the children to school, then picking them up on my way back from work again

CONS

  1. wearing the same clothes for two or more days in a row
  2. have the whole day to bake and make food for my family
  3. don’t have to shower as much as when I go to work
  4. no money when I’m not working
  5. no autonomy when I’m not working
  6. my work is all emotion and physicality for no money, instead of four or five hours of pure cerebral problem solving for money, then all emotion and physicality
  7. no grown-up joking around and simple banter with office workers
  8. my work is cleaning up the house, doing laundry and breaking up fights
  9. my hour and a half of peace while the girls are at school in the mornings is filled with manic job searching, finding nothing, then feeling like I did nothing with the hour and a half I had of quiet
  10. panic that I am unqualified to complete even the simplest tasks, despite large quantities of web experience

Like it or not, gainful employment is preferable to non-employment, at least for the moment. I have barely worked in the past four or five weeks. Maybe things will pick up at the place I’ve been part-time/contracting it for this fall as is rumored, or maybe it will continue to be slow for contract production work, and I’ll be shit out of luck. Who knows, right? Who knows how things will play out? I would very much like to be earning money again. There are many bills to pay, and me with an empty bank account makes me feel powerless. I don’t want to feel that way. But duh, who does?

While the girls color on the kitchen table, I’ve started bringing out my own special art project, coloring and drawing, too. Like the cool kids. I’m diggin’ graphite again, y’alls. Someone told me recently that the moon has graphite on it. So do my drawings. The ladies prefer colored pencils and crayon for word and letter writing as well as drawing people. Mainly Beenie is doing this, though Mimi was rocking C-A-T this evening. She likes the letter C, I can tell. I gotta get some of the great art and writing my little four year olds are producing lately. If only I could locate my scanner under the piles of paper on my desk…

Eight nine ten

gyard_trees

October 25th was the last moment I had enough uninterrupted time to write here. I have a feeling even this post will be cut short due to a certain Beenie, who, in her troubled sleep is hacking up a lung as I type, which is quite distracting. She fell out of bed a half-hour ago and didn’t wake on impact with the ground. Poor sweet sickly thing. She’s had big gooey snots for the past week and now is choking on them, and Mimi is in and out of two days now with her second mystery fever of the season. I suspect this won’t be the last one. She’s not particularly sickly other than becoming quite hot in the evenings, and is now displaying lesser snots than her big sis, but snots nonetheless. Of course, this means I, too, have contracted some form of their hybrid scourge, leaving my right lymph node swollen and sensitive, as well as my left sinus filled to the brim. Damned viruses. Nothing quite as dramatic as to bring me to the doctor, but certainly tiring and uncomfortable, getting in the way of autumnal fun. At least we didn’t miss out on Tricks or Treats. The ladies donned flamenco dancer outfits imported from spouse’s old friend living in Spain. Extremely cute. I took the ladies to Michael’s, the hideously fantastical craft mecca to pick out the obligatory fake long stemmed red rose and acquire deep pink fake blooms to attach to headbands, completing the practically perfect Halloween costume. Despite traveling no further than two blocks from our little row house in Baltimore, the girls somehow came home with TONS of candy. Much of it to my liking, some of which I threw in the freezer, especially the copious M&M’s, some which I sent with my husband to his job. And there were a fair amount of Dum Dum’s lollipops left over from the candy bowl, which I now whip out when it seems like nothing else could help. Lollipops are the candy of choice by the resident three year-olds, with plain M&M’s coming in at a close second, though nobody sings an M&M song, which is not the case for lollipops.

** I have to pause for a moment… I really have so much I want to jot down, and it is just freaking me out now that it has taken almost ten days to to come to a place where I can sit down in solitude, at 11:34 p.m., listening to the clunky dishwasher half-wash the dishes (better it than me), listening to Beenie cough and cough and know there isn’t much more than what I’m already doing that is going to help her out. How is it possible my life has been so hectic that I can’t even write a blog post?**

You may be interested to know my brother got married this past Sunday to his Rebecca, who I wholly endorse and am delighted to have absorbed into my dysfunctional but creative and honestly strange and great family. Well done, young peeps! Okay, not that young, but younger than me, which gives me the right to say ‘young peeps’. Love love love. I offered up to do the flowers for their intimate event, a wedding bouquet for bride and boutineer for my bro, the groom, as well as random other arrangements dotted throughout their house, where they held the ceremony and reception. In case you didn’t know, it isn’t weird that I did the flowers for the wedding. I was a freelance floral designer for over ten years, in one of my many pasts. From my early twenties through my early thirties, up until I got suckered into learning how to make websites once I moved to Baltimore in 1998. I am old enough to have had two completely unrelated careers, if they can actually be called careers, both of which have exceeded ten years in length. If that doesn’t make me feel old, I don’t know what will. Anyway, I had two anxiety dreams over the course of the week I started thinking and discussing what kinds of flowers Rebecca wanted. My husband hit it on the head: I don’t have any sort of outside demands in my life, only internal to the house and people in the house (and don’t you worry, all of this is plenty demanding), so when an outside act that would require some sort of work and exposure to unknown people came about, it was more than my little pea brain could handle. It automatically went into potential failure mode and I started worrying about all the things I worried about when floral design was the way I made a living. Funny. It all worked out in the end, tho, you should be glad to read. The bride loved her bqt, groom was fine with bout, the flowers all looked great in their house for the excellent happening. Whew! Now I can go back to worrying about what preschool to send the girls to next fall, where my identity went, how in tarnation I’m going to squeeze out some artwork so that I don’t have to go into therapy for lack of creative expression, despite the fact that THERE IS NO TIME FOR ANYTHING. Breathe. Breathe from the belly.

Oh, and I think I’m going to start working soon. Like in the next two weeks. I got through the nine pages of paperwork required to start the process, then today had blood drawn to check for strange diseases floating around, and peed into a cup for a drug test. I felt a little bit violated, though understand why it is all done… I’ll be working with a hospital, in their marketing department, building out websites through a content management system, ten hours per week. If it all goes through, which it should. I never in my entire existence thought I’d agree to a drug test. But today I did. And lived long enough to tell you all about it. Someone said this sounded like a “Gateway Job”, which I thought was clever and accurate. It could possibly lead to bigger, more addictive employment. We’ll see. I can’t imagine being able to hold down a full-time job when both my daughters are sick. How do people do it? You can’t take ’em in to school when they’re sick. Reinforces my conviction that you should find the cheapest preschool available, that treats your kid/s well, but doesn’t have too many bells and whistles, because in the end, they won’t be there much in the first year or two.

Oh boy I’m tired. There’s more to write, like about me moving my petty art operation into a corner of my friend’s studio. Hoping to start work on a few commissions, get the turpentine flowing. Maybe that would clear out my sinuses. Can you neti pot with solvents?

On my way home from my pre-employment screening, the sun was beginning to set for the evening. The quality of light was something glowy and cool and warm. I drove by a nearby graveyard and snapped some pics. I find old graveyards to be grounding. This graveyard in particular has the most gigantic fabulous trees. The trees look like the sum of all the dead people was concentrated into growing these ivy covered mammoths.

My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare

Two Camera Morte inspired paintings and a puddle painting, in progress.
Two Camera Morte inspired paintings and a puddle painting, in progress, 4Horseshoes studio, a garage in Roland Park, Baltimore, MD. Late May, 2009.

Tomorrow husband goes back to work after a week at home with his family. There was much packed into last week. A road trip to North Carolina and back, an out of town guest, two nights grilling meats and veggies in the back yard — what Marylander’s call a “cook-out”. A few meltdowns, but more often hysterical laughing and running around. Same for the toddlers. HA! Seriously, tho, it is important to have every member of a family present on occasion, otherwise the little ones don’t realize who is truly involved in this group of people. The importance of each person, how they relate to one another, how they love. I still think it is horribly unfair we live in a system where one person, or both, are expected to be away at work all day, while sometimes the other person is at home all day with children. Balance is healthier. I hoped there would be balance when I finally had a child, but I find there is not. Just sometimes. I’ll take those times when they come, tho. It is what it is. Architects don’t work part-time. Not the ones who have health insurance.

early phase of small lotus painting
early phase of small lotus painting

An hour remains until my darling Mimi and Beenie arise from their naps. I have a pile of index cards in front of me on the kitchen table and hope to assemble them into something remotely cohesive to inspire the writing project I have undertaken. Writing is a solitary undertaking, to be sure. I don’t find myself in many solitary situations.

I believe I am going to quit writing about food. At least for other people. Unless someone wants to offer me some real money. I just don’t have time for it anymore. If I do write about food, I would like to do so without anyone coming in and changing titles, or interfaces that don’t allow me to use words like “pissed-off” or “shitake”…can you imagine? Silly. I started my own foodish blog called CHEW YOUR FOOD, so when the spirit moves me, I can share snacky thoughts there. Just thought I’d let you know.

I’m in love, L U V

slips_1
It has finally happened. Yesterday I officially became a “mom”. Not mommy/ie, not mama, but MOM. You know how I can tell? Look at my feet — JUST LOOK AT ‘EM! Where a simple pair of thin, cotton socks used to cling, now lie thick sheepskins full of fluff, fluff to keep my tootsies toasty. You guessed right, friend. Mom ordered a pair of HOUSE SLIPPERS online last week and yesterday they arrived, along with four or five pairs of overpriced “SmartWool” socks, all designed to keep my cold toes warm. I didn’t know I had it in me, truth be told, to woman on up to the web and say, without shame, MY TOES ARE COLD, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE! I didn’t even know they were cold, not until I noticed a little redness and swelling on two of my left foot’s toes, then went to a podiatrist.

Diagnosis: barely a case of Raynaud’s disease.
Treatment:
keep ’em warm.

Now it is clear I have completely embraced motherhood, and all its sundry fashion trends. Though I am hoping a caring person will altert me if I some day fall into a pair of “mom jeans”, neither flattering nor comfortble, just wrong wrong wrong. Maybe I’ve already fallen…

Yesterday was a good day all around:

  • Wore then fell madly in love with my new hot slips
  • Had lunch with fellow mum to twinsies, Gillian
  • Went BY MYSELF TO A MATINEE!!!!!
    Saw Coraline because it was showing, and ended up thoroughly enjoying myself.
  • Witnessed the moment when my daughters realized how good pizza was. This was the most intense event of the day.

More days like yesterday. More days like today. More days.

Red, white and blue. Patriotically warm feet.
Red, white and blue. Patriotically warm feet.

This morning the ladies and I went to Mother Goose on the Loose at the library. They actually participated this time. Knew what was going to happen and fully immersed themselves for whole minutes at a time in the activities. I was so proud and relieved that they are capable of coping in a group of adults and children completing tasks.

The sun shines on Charm City today. Hopefully it will heat up the back wall and our little row house enough so I won’t have to turn on the heat and burn up all of our income for the month. Where’s my regulated heat/hot water/electric power, yo? BGE is ripping off the entire state of Maryland this winter. Brrrrrrr! I need slippers for the rest of me. A house parka.

The Second Honeymoon is Over

bankees
blankets, like empty cardboard boxes, are the world's best and cheapest toys...

I’m sure there will be many honeymoons followed by horrors. The ladies are toddlers after all. Terriffic and very terrible. We had a good run these past few months. Exhibitions of empathy, kindness toward one another, sharing, sweet chatter and energetic galloping goodness. Until this week. There was a new biting incident, perpetrated by the shark, aka Beenie, there have been endless hair pulling incidents by Mimi and then last night she bit her big shark sister on the thumb. Deserved to be sure, but still, we have a zero tolerance in this house for chomps, no matter who is handing them out or receiving them. Nothing makes me more furious and full of self-loathing (what have I done or not done that this heinous act has happened again?!) than the bites. I’m not sure what has brought this nonsense on, frankly, though I suspect this is more the norm, and I should be wondering what had brought on the past excellent and mature behavior of late. More importantly, what was I doing right that I am now suddenly doing wrong? I did have two beers Tuesday night, then again one beer last night, after not drinking anything but the occasional thimble of Scotch for probably two months due to endless colds and almost-colds. Plus, the alcohol these days does not settle well in my head. I am susceptible to headaches and sinus issues, frequently triggered by booze, no matter how small the amount. WHICH SUCKS. Mama needs her little vices. I think I am turning into one of those people who will be able to have the occasional nip, but who does not get to have regular evening cocktails. There has to be something as nice as a beer or glass of wine I can indulge in sometimes. Maybe I’ll turn to excercise…. YUCK!

Putting the girls down this afternoon was a doozey. Mimi went peacefully enough, but that Beenie, boy is she a piece of work. She has to have things just so always every day (thanks a lot, babydaddy!), which I don’t mind indulging, because I think it is good to actually know what you want, and how you want it. But you also have to be able to bend a little, ya know? And Beenie wasn’t bending today, which was a problem, since neither was I. Usually going down for a nap does not involve screaming at the top of her lungs, but today it did. I went in the bathroom door and closed it and cleaned the sink — water running is a good mask for said howling. When I was done, after about seven or eight minutes, so was she. Crying out seems to be a need with young people sometimes, especially when they are exhausted, as she was today. I don’t make a habit of it, tho. If they are crying at night, if it doesn’t go away relatively quickly, I pop in to find out what’s up. This is also a precautionary measure, as if one girl is crying there’s a good chance she’ll wake her sister. Two 2.5 year olds are more difficult to calm down than one. Put that in your Ferber method pipe and smoke it! Bet thems docs didn’t have twins.

There is a shift here, with me. Perhaps because the end of my staying at home with my children nears — they are signed up for full-time pre-school/daycare starting in September when they turn 3. All is contingent on my finding gainful employment, that pays enough to pay for said daycare. I have some reservations about this impending situation and am looking forward to it simultaneously. I know that working an office job is infinitely less exhausting than wrangling two toddlers, and that is mighty appealing to me. But there is a place in my soul that feels that because my Mom stayed home with me till I sprinted off to Kindergarten (when I was 4 years old, and only for a 1/2 day back in the early 1970’s, mind you) I retained a solid sense of self and self esteem — and I wonder if my children will have enough of that when they go off for FULL DAYS, FIVE DAYS/WEEK when they are three. At least they have each other, right? That will have to count for something. And re: Mom staying home with me… who knows if that was what drover her over the edge? Ha! No, seriously, snaps to Mom for holding it together as much as she was able to. For that matter, snaps to all the Moms of the 70’s, putting up with petty sexism and trying to raise decent humans. Thank you!

Is this coming summer really the last summer I am going to have with my daughters for the rest of their childhoods?! That seems preposterous now that it has been written. How can this conundrum be solved? I am at a loss, unless I magically come up with some kind of teaching certificate/degree that lands me a job with summers off. There’s got to be a solution.

In other news, despite whatever rants and complaints I can muster, I continue to be exceedingly grateful for the health and eccentricity of my daughters. Thanks to who/whatever is responsible for such things… good DNA, good luck. Good gravy.

Twenty Minutes

Purple Clock, as declared by Mimi & Beenie. Neon by Gwen Weimann.
Purple Clock, as declared by Mimi & Beenie. Neon by Gwen Weimann.

That’s how much time I have left to type before it is time to awaken my sleeping beauties. This morning was fun. Good pal Jiyun came over with her little boy, Marko, to paint and eat and chat and play for a few hours. Marko is about four months younger than Mimi and Beenie and also happens to be the apple of both of their eyes. They LOVE him. Really. They talk about him when he isn’t here and point out children on DVD and VHS who look like him and cry out “MARKO”! It is beautiful. Painting lasted about 15 minutes before everyone was starving, so we all ate on some banana bread I made this morning (very tasty, I’ll put the recipe on my food blog).

By the way, I believe I have been demoted from being the  “Food Examiner” to the lowly “Cooking Examiner”. That is, if it is possible to demote someone you don’t actually pay. What kind of idiot would write a few times a week for free, anyway? Well, me for one. I took the “job” back in April of 2008 to try to keep writing in some kind of public forum, so that when I start applying for jobs one day, I can point a potential employer to my efforts and say, “See? I have been doing something in addition to changing diapers and drinking coffee and making coffee cakes for the past three years…”. I can appear to have been mildly productive and a thinking person, even if it is only thinking about food. Or so I think. I know why my illustrious title has changed… I am not committed enough to the hefty role of “Food Examiner”. I don’t really write about the stuff that is suggested to me by my “bosses”, I can’t manage to get more than two, or at the most, three posts up per week. And I use the word “I” in my posts. Dear whoever is in charge over there: I DON’T CARE. I don’t. And you aren’t the boss of me.

It is now fifteen minutes later than it should be, and I adjourn to the ladie’s room to rouse my darlinks.