Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And the answer is.....

I should be sleeping. The kid is asleep. Wifey is long gone. Even the dogs are asleep. I haven't had a good night of sleep in three days. On Monday night some yahoo was wandering down the street whistling, in a shrill football coach kind of way at three in the morning. Tuesday we stayed up way too late watching The Wire. I'm at the point where I'm not even tired any more, but rather that wired-tired that means that you are really and truly screwed. Yesterday my blood pressure was 141 over 85. I really should go to sleep.

I'm sitting here at the computer, however, because I can't get the question that I posed to myself earlier today out of my head.

Is anger a wholly inappropriate emotion when someone, a friend, says publicly that they want to do the thing that you want to do?

Short answer: Yes, wildly inappropriate.

Long answer: You're angry because you're too scared to make yourself vulnerable. If you make yourself vulnerable, express emotion, give voice to your hope and dreams, people might laugh. Your mother might poke fun and others will disappoint you. Good God, I need a therapist.

When I was in the 4th grade I started taking violin lessons. In the beginning, I was awful. Really, is there anything worse than a nine year-old scratching out Twinkle-Twinkle?

Luckily, my musical abilities improved and I hit a high point in the sixth grade when I made second chair in the school orchestra. All of the other sixth graders, with the exception of my friend Jessica, were second violins, and I felt like the shiz-nits!

Don't worry, there will be no inflated egos here. Because the following year the bar was raised - it was time to introduce a vibrato. Vibrato (all that hand shaking that string players do) makes the music come alive, it adds depth, texture and, you guessed it, emotion.

I couldn't do it. Could. Not. Do. It. It was as if someone was aksing me to stand outside the school naked and read my diary. Through my sophmore year in high school I faked it the best I could, but I started to move further and further back in the pecking order - second chair to third and in my last year, fifth. I was starting to worry that I was going to suffer the ultimate humiliation and get demoted to second violin, so I quit.

Giving up the violin was not the end of my life, but I think the physical manifestation of my fear is just nuts. What else has it prevented me from doing? Ok, I can give two (or ten) examples but those are just the ones that I've thought about. How do you overcome this? By taking risks? Putting it all out there? Picking up the violin again? Maybe this is project #4 - getting sloppy with the emotions.

The whole point of moving is to have the life that I want. The career that I want. If I can't even be honest about what those things are, how are they supposed to happen?

Oh, boy.

No longer willing to be an emotional cripple,

Playing It Too Close to the Hand

Is that really a saying? Or is it just, "Playing it too close" or, "Playing a close hand" ?

I don't know, but the point is, when do you cross the line from being simply a "private" person to being weirdly secretive? I need answers because I think that my big toe, hell my whole foot is solidly over that line and maybe has been for a long time and I hope that there is still time to turn back.

I don't have nearly enough time to get into this today, but here are my questions to ponder:

a. Is anger a wholly inappropriate emotion when someone, a friend, says publicly that they want to do the thing that you want to do? (Yes, I know the answer to this is a big fat NO, but why, why, why am I so angry?????)

b. Holy heck, how did this writer, an Aussie at that, crawl into my head and write a book about every feeling that I ever had as a teenager trying to find her place in the world? How, how how???? Go out and read Liar right now!!! I can't wait to finish this book. So much to think about!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Project #2: The CD Collection

Living in a small house is like participating in a ongoing, ever changing, game of Jenga. This is why our stereo is in the living room and our CD storage is two flights of stairs away. When you want to, for example, blast Shakira's grandes exitos while wifey is out of earshot, you grab the disc, leaving the case behind, and shake your groove thang. Repeat, repeat repeat.

The problem, of course, is that after two or three months, the CDs start to pile up. When the stack by the stereo gets to high, we dutifully bring them upstairs, but typically neither of us has the time to actually put them back into their cases, so we stack them up, and up and up....

Recently the situation had gotten completely out of hand. It seemed like there were stacks of CDs all over the house and during our regularly scheduled cleaning on Sunday, I decided to tackle the project.

What I quickly learned, however, that it wasn't simply as easy as picking up a CD, reaching into the cabinet and returning it to the shelf. How in the heck was I supposed to know that the Edie Brickell Shooting Rubber Bands at the Stars case would be on the top shelf when the Everything But the Girl CDs were on shelves two and three and my Everclear (yes, I have more than one!) CDs were on the bottom shelf. Can't all the Es just live in harmony together????

After spending half an hour in a semi-crouched position and managing to return just four CDs to their proper homes, I had an epiphany. I would take every last case out of the cabinet and separate the ones that were missing discs, giving me a much smaller pool of candidates for my homeless CDs. Then I would group all the like artists together and return them all, in alphabetical order, to the shelves.

I was so excited. So proud.

At one point, I made a trip downstairs for a snack. Wifey was doing something on the computer.

Me: Hey, I am kicking CD butt upstairs,...[insert details of my awesome plan]

Wifey: [loooong silence] You know I just organized the CDs last week.

Me: [longer silence] Huh?

Wifey: Yeah, they are separated by shelf, top shelf is mine, second is yours, third is mine.... Oh and feel free to weed out your collection.

Me: [sputtering and stumbling over my words] What?....But I couldn't find....

Ok, you get the idea. I looked at the CD cabinet and saw a nonsensical jumble, she saw order. Really and truly, this isn't about right or wrong (even though I am always right!), but after living with someone for 10 years in 6 different houses, you'd think we would have worked this one out.

How can you know someone so well, but still not be able to figure out something so basic as how that person organizes her CD collection?

I hate conflict. I hate the potential for conflict, and maybe I'm not so willing to compromise as I think. Maybe I'm my mother (gasp, horror) and never learned how to cohabitate gracefully.

Yikes, ouch, painful truth ahead!!!!

This is where that pesky goal of being a better partner comes into play. This seems like a pretty harmless way to start. Ask a direct question, "Wifey, how would you like to organize the CDs?"
"Oh, really, I would really like to do this, can we compromise and do this?"

So beautiful, We'll see how it goes.

Trying to be a bigger and better person,

P.S. This is what happens when lesbian CD collections don't use protection.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Project #1: The Garage

I've been thinking a lot lately about the ways in which your environment can lift you up, inspire creativity, or at least make you not cry. And then there are the spaces that make you want to scream, stick your head in the sand, or in my case, stare blankly at the wall. Worst case scenario? The space in which you live or work or play turns you into a shaking, slobbering blob of stress and anxiety.

Guess who is drooling on her keyboard as we speak?

Ok, I'm not drooling, but I am shoveling Swedish fish into my mouth at an alarming rate. I can't help it, it is a reaction to my environment. Take my garage for example...

Is this the space of a woman who has her shit together enough to move her whole family cross country in six months? No.

Is this the garage of a woman who can't even find the tape measure to take the dimensions of the refrigerator, so she can sell it on Craigslis,t so she can even get to the ten other boxes of crap that need to be dealt with? Yep, that would be me.

I don't know how this happened. We didn't always have a refrigerator sitting in our garage, but when we inherited a larger, newer model from the MIL, what were we supposed to do? We inherited the fridge because MIL moved, but when she moved she thoughtfully brought us all the crap that we had stored in her shed when we moved three years ago. Now we are housing a desk, a bookshelf, a dryer and a traditional Balinese xylophone, called a tinklit, to name a few.

The other problem is that junk begets junk. It takes so much rearranging just to put the hammer back into the tool box that it seems perfectly acceptable to put it on top of the dog blanket, that is on top of the 4 track cassette mixer, that is on top the shelf where we keep the iron. It is like a pulsing, oozing sore that is sucking the life out of our house.

This is hardly my most glamorous project, but we have literally been hauling some of this junk around for years. Well, maybe different junk, but same jumble. This is one habit that I'm hoping to break.

First step, sell items on Craigstlist. I've been putting this off for ages because it seems so overwhelming. There are so many things and some of them I can't even reach, but I came up with a genius idea - don't try to sell everything at once.


Once the refrigerator is gone, I can get to the dryer. After the dryer goes I can get to the desk which is blocking the pile of donations. See, this is a habit to break....don't try to tackle an impossible problem head on.

I always joke (well, it's mostly a joke) that if it's not hard, why do it. Maybe it's time for a new mantra.

Details on the great garage sale to come!

Seeing a light at the end of the vortex,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Projects, Projects, Projects!

I am quickly finding out that moving two moms, a 4 year-old, and two dogs across the country without anyone losing their mind, their favorite blanket or a tail is going to take a lot of work. Just the logistics are mind boggling, but throw in the whole 80's make it better scene and we are talking about a Kilimanjaro sized goal. Heck, maybe even a K2 or Everest sized goal - it's that big. And, just to make it all the more exciting, we're going to try to have another baby along the way as well!

Yep, you heard right. We're going move, find new jobs, revamp our wardrobes, get some therapy, write a book (me), become the next Annie Leiboviz (also me), record an album (wifey), get out of debt, take two road trips, get our house ready to rent and make a baby. Awesome! Because really, if you're not doing the impossible, what fun is life?

I realize that some of these things might not happen in six months, but (brace yourself, it's cliche time!) this one is going to be about the journey. Yikes, did I just say that?

Achieving these things is really important to me. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good about what I do, about my body, accepting my past, creating something beautiful and fulfilling, creating a beautiful family, but for such simple things, they are quite elusive. Maybe this isn't how it is for everyone, but I am getting too old to to keep hoping that one day I will just wake up and have fulfillment shine down upon me from high. It's time to do the work. Shit or get off the pot. Be the change you want to see in the world. Yadda, yadda, yadda,'s time for action. Maybe by some miracle this all happens in six months, probably not, but I want my feet firmly planted in the right direction.

So action it is.

Phase One: The Home Front, or, how not to lose your frickin' mind when you can never, ever, ever, find anything.

Coming up tomorrow....the garage.

Peace, love and home organization,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New York? Yes, please.

I don't know exactly when my love for the Bay Area began to wane. I've spent most of my adult life here and this area has seen me through some pretty big milestones - falling in love, getting married, establishing a career,having a kid and buying a house. It seems that most people, normal people, would, at this point in their lives, thank their lucky stars for the good fortune to have achieved those things, sit back and enjoy life a little.

Me? No way. I've got an itch that only New York can scratch and I'm giving myself six months to get there.

Of course, this move is much less about the change in physical location (although I dream in brownstone) and more about the possibility of creating a better, more authentic me that will be a better partner, mother and friend. The problem facing me, however, is that I've moved, changed jobs, etc...but never really unloaded my baggage. I've rearranged nicely several times, but it's like one of those bushes that grow more vigorously when you prune it - take it out by the roots or you're screwed.

This time I'm ready to do the work. Old habits, however, die hard and I am hoping that sharing my journey will help me reach my destination. (Note to self: Step one in journey to fulfillment - articulate what you want to achieve. Outloud. Yes, someone might actually hear you and hold you to it.) See, we're learning already!

Giddy with anticipation,