Friday, January 13, 2012

Not a sipper

Last week, I met someone new, and after we talked for an hour or so she declared, "You seem like a really laid-back person."

Huh. I'd never been accused of that before.

In fact, those who know me well would probably argue that "intense" is a better way to describe me. It seems that everything I do is done in a big way. I like to say that I am not a sipper (literally and figuratively). If I make coffee in the morning, it will not be in a dainty little cup with hand-painted curlie-cues. No, I make a tank of coffee - a giant mug that must be held with two hands and is responsible for my toned biceps for sure. And I stand at the counter chugging it down like a cheap college beer until it is empty.

There is nothing relaxing or leisurely about the way I drink my coffee ... or do anything else for that matter. I find something I like and go for it, all out.

Sometimes this is a good thing, like when I started hiking again, remembering fondly the family hikes we had taken in New Hampshire when I was a kid. It felt so good to get back onto a wooded trail that I suddenly wanted to hike at every opportunity. I even got the kids involved, taking them out every chance I got, and we discovered that Nathan has quite a knack for being sure-footed and quick on even the most rocky, rooty paths.


It was also a good thing when I discovered Zumba fitness classes. I'd never been consistent about exercising until I discovered this class that let me dance for an hour and called it a workout. I immediately started going every day, driving 30 minutes each way to class if there wasn't one closer-by. And now I am scheduled to take the instructor certification course so that I can teach the class myself.


Sometimes, though, not being a sipper can be problematic. Take music, for example. I don't think my friend Brian - my roommate 13 years ago - has forgiven me yet for my obsessive overplaying of the song "Never There" by Cake when it first came out. More recently, my son had to be the one to tell me that it was enough Wiggles already.

And I'll never get those two days back that I spent reading the entire Twilight series continuously.

Still, I have to believe that chugging my way through life has got to be one of my charms...'cause I won't be switching to small, dainty sips anytime soon.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Growing my mojo back

I feel old. And washed-up, physically and emotionally.

I think it started when I got my hair cut, somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It had been long - halfway down my back - and the weight of it in my ubiquitous ponytail was giving me headaches. I figured it was getting to be time for my once-every-two-years haircut, and I looked forward to a change.

In the hairdresser's chair, I confessed that I am not "good at" hair, and that I'd like a 'do that is low-maintenance while still stylish and youthful. She was excited by the challenge I presented, bringing forth countless hair magazines and style books for study. "What about this one?" she asked of a hairstyle that, to me, looked identical to the last three she had shared. I shrugged (again) and said, "Sure - whatever you think."

Eventually she settled on a look sported by Sandra Bullock on the cover of some woman's magazine. The cut was just above the shoulder, with sexy toussled waves and long, side-swept bangs. Sandra looked like she'd just had great sex while being done up by a makeup artist at the same time.

Yeah, okay, I'll have what she's having.

The stylist started snipping, and I felt good. Lighter. Ready to embrace my new look. Not scared at all, because it's just hair, right? And I felt proud when she held up the two fat braids that we were going to donate. Oh, and relaxed because I was there on a Saturday when Jason could be home with the kids, and I was sitting in a comfy chair with no little people trying to show me artwork or asking for another snack. Life was good.

Then the cutting was done, and it was Styling Time. A sinking feeling hit me hard as I looked at my reflection in the wall-sized mirror two feet in front of me. A professionally-trained stylist in a fancy salon, with all of her tools and products, came up with this look that I would never, ever be able to duplicate...and I hated it.

I looked ten years older. I had lost my ponytail and gained a head of wavy, shoulder-length, housewife hair. And it wasn't just me who thought I looked older. I stopped getting carded at the liquor store - all of them. Restaurants? Nope. Bars? Nope. The way the servers look at me now, they're more likely to ask me if I've had a chance to look at the senior specials.

So, since I lost my long, unkempt ponytail, I feel like I've lost something else, too. What happened to my sense of humor? Lately I'm just as likely to get teary at my husband's teasing than to snort and chuck a pillow at him. And where's my patience? Granted, I was never a champion in this arena, but I used to be able to sit through a guess-what-happened-at-recess-today story without fidgeting like a crack addict.

I used to be - on occasion - fun. I had some energy and some ambition. I liked the feeling of my ponytail swinging back and forth rhythmically as I walked with purpose into the gym or onto the playground. Now with my farty, motionless hairdon't, I walk more tentatively, and I no longer possess that "I can DO this!" spunk that made me the Horshack hand-raiser when volunteers were needed. Now I feel like a wrinkled-up raisin on the inside.

No, wait - a prune. That sounds older.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm (on my way) back!

I've been a neglectful blogger these last few weeks. But I'm back now, brushing off the cobwebs, getting ready to talk some more. I'd like to tell you that I've been in a warm, tropical place on vacation, and that's why I haven't written, but the truth is that I've been in a much darker place than Key Largo or Ibiza.

My old friend, the depression that has plagued me since my teens, has been visiting again. And he is the worst kind of guest: he pops in with no warning, plops his bags down in your living room, and has a seat, fingers laced behind his head and (dirty) boots on your coffee table.


For the last few weeks, I've been following him around and forgetting myself , my friends, and my family. But you know what? I think I'm finally getting up the gumption to give him the boot.

I hate to be rude, Depression, but I've got a lot of reasons to be feeling good right now. I've got new furniture, that while cheap and oversized for my teeny house, makes me feel comfy and cozy. I've got my favorite time of year starting up as we speak: Nathan's 3rd birthday (today!), Thanksgiving, Christmas, and then the girls' birthdays following soon after. It's a festive time, and I refuse to be bogged down in your bullshit. (Pardon my French.)

So. I'm going to start ignoring my dark, heavy houseguest and start focusing more on the things that make me feel good. Like doing stuff. (That sounds dumb, but I swear that when you have depression, it can be really, really hard to do anything. And the less you do, of course, the worse you feel.) And like listening to Putemayo Kids CDs. And blogging. And cutting way back on the comfort-eating crackers and Wispride cheese habit that makes me feel lethargic and, oh yeah, fat.

And I think I'm getting a little of my mojo back even now as I type. I'm feeling confident and strong (and I haven't even had my coffee yet). This time, I'm going to get rid of my unwelcome houseguest all by myself, without having to call in my big cousin Lexapro to kick him out. Hyyyyy-yah!*

*Yes, that was supposed to be the sound of me doing karate chops at Depression.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I'd love to show you some photos of my kids' costumes...

I am Halloween-ed out! We had a great weekend with beautiful weather and lots of fun, but good lord, is it tiring! Since I am pooped out and lazy today, I figured I'd share some photos of me and the kids in our costumes...until I realized that I don't really have any. I had tons of opportunities, too...

Halloween Party #1, Thursday: took a few photos, but mostly of other people's kids. The ones I took of mine came out weird because the girls had taken off their hats and Nathan was preoccupied with some kind of stretchy skeleton toy. No big deal, though, because there are still more Halloween events coming, right?

Halloween Party #2, Friday: brought camera, but left it in the car. I even made a trip out to the car during the party to get a change of clothes (plastic-y witch costume had frayed my nerves for long enough!), but didn't remember to grab the camera while I was out there. Still, I'm not worried - there'll be plenty of time on the actual holiday to take photos.

Town-wide Halloween Costume Parade and Library Craft Time, Saturday afternoon: didn't even think to bring camera. Didn't even think to think that I could take pictures later.

Trick-or-Treating, Saturday night: so exhausted from costume parade and library craft that I barely even thought of feeding my kids, let alone photographing them. (Well, alright, I actually DIDN'T think of feeding the kids - it was actually Jason who suggested that we give them dinner that night while I was sacked out on top of my bed, drooling.)

This is all rather surprising to me. I recently completed our family scrapbook for 2007, my first completed album ever. It was so chock-full of photos of, well, everything, that I had to split it into TWO large albums. So what's happened to me? This year's album is going to be, like, the girls' school pictures and maybe a random photo from a birthday party at Grandma's house. Geesh.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday Follow-Up

Happy Friday! It's Halloween weekend, which means that all of us parents are bound be be half-insane by Sunday night. Between the costume paraphernalia, the parties, and the trick-or-treating, we've got our hands full. And don't forget the candy, staying up late, and that oft-underestimated parental nightmare: The Hype. Good luck with all of it. May your child's stockings not tear as you pull them on, already late for that party.

Also this weekend is Daylight Saving Time. I've already done a practice run-through, so I think I am ready. Still, I'm not making any plans for Sunday, just in case.

You remember how I confessed to dropping Nathan off at the YMCA's Child Watch area so that I could sit around in the lobby with my laptop? Well, not only did Nathan have a great time playing with the other little kids there, but I got a bonus Christmas present idea when I came to retrieve him and saw him playing with a little tool bench toy. The wonderful babysitters told me that he had been playing with it happily for over 30 minutes, which gave me the mom-equivalent of a cash register cha-ching in my head. Hmmm...if I bought him one of these, would he play with it at home for long stretches like that? Well, you know I intend to find out! I'm also thinking of getting him one of those Tag Junior reading thingies so that he can sit with a book and wave the little sensor-mabob over the words and pictures and be entertained.

I remember when they first came out with toys that would read to children (Teddy Ruxpin, shudder), and I judged. "Nice," I snarked, "Whatever you do, lazy-ass, don't read to your own kid. Buy a creepy robot-bear to do it for you." Um, yeah. That was before I had three kids, one of whom craves adult attention every second of the day. I've spent so many hours working with Nathan to engage him and get him talking socially that now I am ready to hand over the reigns to any creepy robot toy, wand, or laser-thingamajig if it will give me ten minutes to take a shower or (gasp!) read a magazine.

I am still loving my $6 sweatpants, and in fact find myself fantasizing about them throughout the day as my jeans get pinchy and the chilly autumn wind whistles right through the Target denim. My sweatpant manifesto proclaimed that I would be putting them on before my husband came home if he was working late, but now I find myself grabbing them out of the closet as soon as I've picked the kids up from 3:00. On the days when we don't have playdates, errands, or swim lessons to shlep to, and we are settled in right after school, I'm putting those suckers right on. Sorry, babe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A post that manages to reference Popeye

Now that I've told you about the dumb moments of my weekend, let me tell you something nice that happened: I went to a MOMS Club workshop and got to see my NY friends who had traveled down for the occasion. I "talk" to these ladies all the time via Facebook and email, but only see them in-person twice a year, at MOMS Club functions.

Though I hardly see them, they've had a major impact on my life. I won't get into the emotional stuff about how they are inspirational and all that - I don't want to trigger your gag reflex as I wax Hallmark-y. But I can tell you how they've influenced me in a cultural sense.

Two years ago, at a regional luncheon, we first got to know each other and instantly clicked. I'm usually shy and awkward when I talk to people, especially new people, but somehow I felt instantly comfortable in their presence. They just got me.

Toward the end of the night I must have whined about how it wasn't fair that they all lived close together in NY while I lived all the way in Massachusetts, because one of them plopped her Mac in my lap and demanded that I sign up for Facebook. I knew little about FB and felt a little unsure about its usefulness, but I signed up. Now, I can't imagine living without it.

Score one for the NY Peeps.

The next time I saw them, they were all a-flutter about those Twilight books, watching trailers for the first movie on their laptops and discussing which "team" they were on, Edward's or Jacob's. Inside, I rolled my eyes a little. Teen vampire stories, really? It seemed so weird. But I love and respect these women, so I thought that if they liked it, maybe it was worth a shot. I read the first Twilight book and remained unimpressed. I joked around with people about how lame the whole phenomenon was. Then I read the second Twilight know, just to see what would happen to the characters...and I was hooked. I read all of the books in the series and Netflixed the movie while Jason was traveling.

Score two for the NY Peeps.

And then this past weekend, they invited me to crash in their room, slumber party-style. I was so excited...until one of them brought out a True Blood DVD. I was exasperated. I mean, isn't obsessing over vampire books and TV shows the 21st century-version of the soap opera and bon-bon devouring housewife stereotype? I wanted to pass on watching, but they were all into it, and I wanted to be with them, so I watched. Well, it took just about five seconds for me to be so immersed in that show that I almost forgot to breathe. And now I've gone and downloaded the first book in the series onto my Kindle, a book I think about during the day as I'm driving the kids to school and shampooing my hair.

Score three for the NY Peeps.

What I've learned from all of this is that I should quit being so afraid of becoming a stereotype. I should quit worrying about what things I like say about me.

In the words of that sage philosopher Popeye, I am what I am.

I like watching soap operas. I record them on the DVR and watch them in marathons while Jason's away, or I'll watch a single episode here and there while paying the bills or doing some other random task - the familiar characters keep me company.

I like reading and watching vampire stories. Maybe it's not high art, but it's fun fantasy and it's easier for me to relax at the end of the day with one of these books than with Dickens' Hard Times.

I like watching reality shows like America's Next Top Model, So You Think You Can Dance, and Project Runway. And I get psyched about craptastic teen dramas like 90210 and Gossip Girl.

I like goofing around on the internet (a practice Jason and I call "gweeping" for some reason). I think it's fun to see what people are up to via Facebook - it's the perfect way for a phone-phobe like me to keep up with her friends.

I like fake shopping in catalogs. I browse through the pages and tear out the ones that have something on it that I'd like to buy, whether it's a toy for one of the kids, a pair of curtains for the living room, or a sweater for myself. I even organize the torn pages into a tabbed folder in case I ever want to look at them again. I do this because I have a hard time sitting still, just staring at the TV without doing some kind of "busy work," and also because before I did this I actually bought all of that stuff. This way, I get the thrill of shopping, of finding that perfect thing, without really pulling out the wallet. Once the page is torn and filed, I know that I can go back to it and make the purchase for real if I want it that badly, but I rarely do. Instead, I exclaim, "Look at this old-fashioned train set! I'm gong to fake-buy this for Nathan's birthday!" Jason doesn't even make fun of me for all this, probably because he prefers the fake buy to the real one.

I'll own up to all of these hobbies and interests because I am less afraid now: if you don't like me because I admit to knowing who Chuck Bass is, well, then I guess that's too bad for both of us. I owe this new-found confidence to my NY Peeps, who showed me that a stay-at-home mom can be intelligent, responsible, valuable, respected...and a Twilight fan, all at the same time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The blue hands mystery

So, I told you about being tricked into thinking it was the start of Daylight Savings Time when it wasn't, causing me to blow numerous obligations and disappoint multiple people on Sunday morning. I'm still reeling over this weird mistake - who doesn't know what time it is?

But you know what? That was not even the dumbest thing that happened to me that day. Here's what else:

On the way home from Annabelle's game, I grabbed some Dunkin' Donuts iced coffees for the grown-ups and some kind of apple pastry-things for the kids. We were all sitting around the kitchen table enjoying our treats when I suddenly noticed that my hands - particularly my fingers - had turned blue. I must have made some kind of noise about this, because the next thing I knew, Jason and I were both standing up, on high-alert, trying to figure out why my fingers looked dead. I stripped off my shoes and socks: nope, toes were whitish-pink as usual. Jason noted that my lips were a little pale, and we immediately (but silently) started jumping to all kinds of medical conclusions. I was baffled that my hands didn't feel particularly cold or numb or pins-and-needlesey - when you have a major circulatory issue that makes your fingers turn blue, shouldn't you be able to feel something weird going on there?

I sat back down at the table, flexing and rubbing my hands together, trying to get the blood flowing back into the Smurfy digits. Annabelle started to whimper in concern. Jason started Googling and Web-MDing to figure out the possible whys and what to dos. Mad and Nathan kept eating their pastries.

Jason called down the hallway to me: "Try washing your hands!" I agreed that some warm water and rubbing might do the trick, so I got under the faucet and washed with gusto. Sure enough, my fingers looked just about normal again.

My husband returned to the table with a diagnosis: I had Raynaud's Phenomenon, a vascular disease that can cause fingers and/or toes to turn blue in times of cold or stress. I came to terms with my new medical condition quickly, recalling strange pains in my right hand over the last couple of weeks. And, yeah, I certainly had been both stressed and cold that morning - I'd run out without a coat and shivered through the whole Pop Warner game.

It all fit. I started to envision myself in a rubber Raynaud's survivor bracelet ("Live Blue!"), plastering my van with blue ribbon magnets, and leading a talk about overcoming Raynaud's discomfort at the next MOMS Club meeting.

By now, the kids were bored with the whole scene and had migrated to the room with the TV. Clearly, Mom wasn't dying.

Then, my hands got a little wet from my iced coffee cup and I rubbed them on my jeans as I often do to warm them. As I had for an hour straight at the game that morning just before coming home.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

Yes, my hands turned blue as I rubbed them on my jeans.

Turns out my hands were not blue from some weird syndrome out of a House episode. It was just the dye rubbing off of my jeans.

And that fifteen-minute escapade was how I out-dumbed the Daylight Savings Debacle.