Imperfection and a picture.

I want to fire up my blog life again.

I keep coming here and trying to write something AMAZING to dazzle and permanently seduce a GIANT audience for my teeny blog.

But nothing comes to me.

And without a published paragraph, each day here feels bigger than the day before it.

Much, much bigger.

Bigger in a bad way.  An oppressive way.  An intimidating way.

Have I lost my skill set?

I want to write.

More than just that, I want to be good at writing.

I keep thinking of that as a single task – one I am ill equipped to start and desperate to complete.

It isn’t that though, is it?

It’s really a very long, involved process of little steps all smashed together, cut apart, rearranged, and done again.

Over and over.

So here I go.

Step one: post a current pic of myself (sorry to my Facebook friends who have already seen it).

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Step two: pick one thing to worry less about.

Step three: come back and try this again in a day or two.

Happy Monday.

♥♥

I Guess I Have Issues With This

Rage Against The Minivan posted about toilet paper today.

She brought up the old under-versus-over debate.  Then she asked her readers to share their preferences.  I was going to add mine at the foot of her page,  but I got distracted by the other responses.  I read every one.  And when I finished, I realized I had more to say than could politely fit in that comment section.

So yeah, this is a post about toilet paper.  Sort of.

Or maybe it’s about incredulity, defiance, misbehaving cats and a really memorable spider.

When I was a teenager, mom and I stayed a night with some friends in another town.  On our first morning as guests in their home, one of them quite loudly informed everyone at the breakfast table that my mother had replaced the toilet paper roll the “wrong” way in their bathroom.  She went on to imply that this insane act, placing the paper’s end under the roll instead of over it, had caused her some barely survivable inconvenience in the middle of the night!  Poor dear.

My mother politely explained that she didn’t know there was a preference.  I didn’t know that either, but I formed one right then.  And it was just the opposite of theirs.  I couldn’t believe this was an issue worth pointing out to a temporary guest in her home.  Why couldn’t she have done the polite thing and simply reversed the roll herself, without trying to embarrass or educate my mom?  Incredible.

My rolls went under from that day on.  And truly, when I saw one pointed over, and I could change it without much trouble, I changed it.  Because no one could tell me not to.  I did it in defiance of social norms and the dictate of that friend.

Years later, when husband and I bought our house, my defiance waned.  There were other things to think about.  Friends and relatives – people I liked – were pointing the paper over, so I just started to comply.

Then I got pregnant.  And I couldn’t have cared less about the direction of the roll.  Instead, I was obsessed with germs that might be on it.

Who had changed the roll?  When did they do it?  Were their hands clean?  Was the lid down when they flushed?  Did the paper get misted with bio-hazardous germs because the lid was up?  Was the paper still wrapped until the point of going on the roller?

If someone else did change the paper, did they put their hands inside the tube or did they touch the entire outside edge of the paper to keep from dropping it?  Or did they drop it and then wind the paper back onto the roll, complete with whatever germs were on the bathroom floor?

If the paper wasn’t on the roller, was it sitting on the toilet itself or, God forbid, on top of the sanitary napkin disposal bin, contaminating every piece?

Think about all of that.  I sure did.  And really, I still do.

Despite all of these heebeejeebee factors, I guess I was still largely compliant with the over-the-roll philosophy.

However, when I was five or six months along in my pregnancy, we got two new cats.  Boy cats.  Brothers.  Mischievous partners in crime.

The fur boys made sport of kneading the toilet paper.  And because the paper pointed forward, the kitties shredded the hell out of it, piling it playfully it a claw torn heap on the floor below the roller.  It was aggravating and so wasteful.  And gross.  Really, really gross.

For a while, we turned the rolls around to point the paper under.  That way, the kitties wouldn’t unroll it to the floor when they reached up to spin it.  But think about it.  Would you use paper from a roll with claw marks in it?  You know all the places those claws go.  You may as well just dip the paper in the litter box before you use it.  We stopped putting it on the roller.

For years it sat up high on the towel rack above the toilet.  Friends mentioned it.  We tried to explain.  I don’t think our home was anybody’s preferred place to relieve themselves.

When our son reached toilet training age, the roll went back.  The cats had lost interest, but our son was a spinner like they had been, so the paper had to point under until he grew out of his toddler toy attitude toward the bathroom.

I suppose there was a very literal turning point, because now we are all again in the habit of pointing the paper forward, over the roll.  Well, except in our son’s bathroom, because he has a different kind of toilet paper holder and it works better to point the paper under.  But whatever.

I guess the point of my post is to dispel the myth that there is a right or wrong answer to this debate.  There just really isn’t.  There is just preference and circumstance.

Oh, and here’s that spider I mentioned.

P.S.  The boy and I met Grammy at the Zoo last week.  We stopped by to see the polar bears.

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What are you up to?

♥♥

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To The Rude Mom at Vons Today

Dear Rude Mom,

When you blocked my way at the end of the aisle, I said nothing.

It wasn’t enough of anything to think about.

I was annoyed that you had seen me walking in your direction and that you responded by turning your cart fully perpendicular to mine.

But I don’t think you did that on purpose, so I didn’t take it personally.  And I did nothing to visually convey my annoyance.  Why would I?

I slowed to give you time to move the cart (which your deer-in-the-headlights son did for you) and then I passed you without another thought about it.

That is, until I finished the rest of my shopping and realized I had forgotten something on that same aisle.

I made a u-turn and walked back.

You were still there, staring at the same shelf, completely oblivious to the other customers around you.

Thankfully this time, your son actively pulled the cart to the side to make way for everyone else.

You couldn’t be bothered to do that yourself.

I walked by briskly, grabbed my item, and was heading out of the aisle when you decided you didn’t like me.

In a voice clearly meant for my ears, you said to your blank-faced son “Wow! Get out of HER way or she’ll just knock you down.”

You said something else that I didn’t quite hear, but it included the same tone and the words “her way,”  so I can only assume it was more of the same.

Nice of you to let me know exactly how you feel.

I am so terribly sorry that I interfered with your oafish pace, careless cart management, and stellar parenting skills.

Next time, I will curtsy and ask if there is something I can find for you.

Like a shred of common courtesy?

Yeah.  That.

P.S.

What I love about the end of the summer?

It’s hot enough to run the a/c and briefly freeze the house, but close enough to Fall that the a/c makes my kid want hot chocolate.

🙂

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♣♣

Babysitting & Playing Hooky

Babysitting the nephews today.

They are sweet and they make me laugh.

Kids say the greatest things.

From the seven-year-old:

“You smell like your house.”

“Me and grilled cheese sandwiches are like two peas in a pod.”

And my own child, wide-eyed when I told him I would be taking his cousins to the park in his absence:

“My chin hurts too much to go to school today.”

Hmm…

I’m a big softie and a huge proponent of family first, even ahead of school.

The nephews and I are picking him up a few hours early and going to lunch and a park with him, instead of without him.

They are only little once, right?

Right.

I haven’t written anything here for the past few months.

I guess I have been feeling kind of private and withdrawn, and this is not the place for that.

But these boys, all three of them, have reminded me this week that life is good and sweet and short.

And my favorite bloggers have continually shown that some of the loveliest, most interesting lives I know are lived right out loud, in front of the world.

I don’t have to be all that.

I can be something in between.

I can just be a good mom and aunt who writes now and then.

So what the hell, here I am again.

♥♥

Sick Again

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The boy is home from school again today.

He missed three days last week because of a stomach bug and now he has a very annoying cold.

My kid can’t seem to catch a break.

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And neither can we.

He’s a bear when his nose is bothering him.  He wiggles and whines and screams and goes insane.  Same deal.  Different day.  Frequent topic.

It makes us all nuts.

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And there’s no real way to explain to anyone what we go through in our house.

He’s an angel out in the world.  He behaves, he is loving, he handles things.  (Except occasionally at school, but that’s another post.)

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At home though, when it’s just the two of us, or just the three of us, he is a different kid.

He is inconsolable, desperate, angry, sad, very physical, exhausting and exhausted.

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He wakes in the middle of the night, will do nothing to help himself, but is insistent that we are awake and miserable with him.

We rarely get a full night of uninterrupted sleep.

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Our son slams doors, throws toys, twists his body, flails his arms, furrows his brow, screeches, and screams, but he says nothing.

We try desperately to help him, but our efforts generally fail.

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Last night, husband actually got him to take some Motrin.  He was tired and it did help him to fall asleep, but he was up again at 3:45 and back to his routine of misery.

I asked him repeatedly what I could do for him.

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I suggested all of the usual remedies for his bothersome throat and nose and I tried to comfort him.

I offered him a snack, some water, and a hug.

Nothing worked.

At 4:30, I gave up and told him I was going back to bed.

I closed the door to our room, but that made him crazy.

He got louder and louder and finally crashed something into the door.

Husband got up that time.

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This morning has shown more of the same.

The boy is miserable from the cold and he wants everyone to know it and feel it right along with him.  It’s maddening.

He took some more Motrin about an hour ago.  He has eaten a hot dog and even exercised at my urging, but it’s going to be a long day in what already feels like an insanely long week.

Husband is gone for a few hours to catch up with a friend and I will get out for a while when he comes back, but I don’t know how far that will go toward preserving our sanity today.

It’s 12:15 p.m. and I’ve yet to make it out of my pajamas and into the shower.  My hair is dirty and flat.  My skin is colorless.  Honestly, I look like the sick one.

Stress.

We need a babysitter.

I’m starting to forget what my laughter sounds like.

P.S.  The best thing to happen today?  I got out the camera to make a video of his on-going tantrum and suddenly he’s a model – posing, smiling, saying “cheese” for all these photos.

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He’s on the couch, watching a video now.  Maybe I will get a shower after all.

♥♥

A New Chapter

My husband lost his job last week.

We were a one-income family and now we’re a no-income family.

I don’t even know what to write.

I am experiencing great relief and deep panic, all at the same time.

It was once a good job.  And then it wasn’t.

He liked it.  And then he didn’t.

It was comfortable.  And then it was prickly and painful.

It is a great relief to have him home, away from there.  Away from them.

But the future is completely freaking me out.  Not so much because I don’t know what it holds, but because I do.

We have to make money.  Fast.

I haven’t been in the workforce since my son was born, over ten years ago.

That’s not what we anticipated.  It’s not what we planned.  It’s what we did for our very different kid.

I stayed home.  I gained some weight.  I learned how to be a fierce advocate for my son.  And I lost my professional skill set.

You think technology evolves too quickly when you’re right in it.  Try looking the other way for a decade – you won’t even recognize it when you turn back.  I am scared.  And old.

I have also watched my wardrobe transform from business casual to “is-that-stain-somewhere-that-I-can-cover-it-with-a-sweat-jacket-while-I-drive-my-kid-to-school?”

Who will hire me?

I can edit like nobody’s business.  I can write, sort of.  But what about all of those other things people do at jobs these days?

I can learn anything.  I know this.  I am smarter than average, I have a BA, and I work well under pressure.

Will anyone care about that when they see a ten-year gap on my resume?

I can’t type without looking at the keys and I am not bilingual.  Well, I do understand a lot of Spanish.  But I answer it with English.

Where will that get me?

Husband thinks I would be a great office manager.  Anybody know an office that needs some managing?

A friend suggested I ramp up my crafting and sell some things on etsy.  I’d like to, and I will, but that’s not going to pay my mortgage.  The Office Manager job won’t do that either.  In the prime of my employment, I was earning less than half of what my husband has been making this year.

I used to work in Human Resources.  Considering our current circumstances, I can’t rule out doing that again, but I felt dirtier in HR than I did as a hotel maid, years ago, cleaning toilets all day.

I am nervous.  If it were just me and my husband, I wouldn’t be.  We can roll with the punches and adjust along the way.  Alone, the two of us would have a ton of flexibility.

But we have an autistic child in the equation.  Our son needs a schedule and a stable home with room for Legos and stuffed animals.  He needs fair warning about things and he needs routine and familiar surroundings.

Yes, I am nervous.

Unfortunately, we may be have to sell our house.  If we can’t find employment, or some other way to keep from depleting every penny of our savings, then we will have to go.

As scary as it is to think of that, we’re going to downsize like there’s no tomorrow under this roof.

Most of my cookbooks are going.  Dressers and chairs and side tables are going.  Old clothes, extra blankets, and toys are going.  Husband’s old band equipment is going.  Big plastic bins of baby clothes are going.  Fabric is going.  Kitchen crap is going.  Two little bikes are going.  CDs, DVDs, magazines and a file cabinet are going.  Maybe even one big, hard-to-manage Christmas tree is going.  And absolutely anything we have been oppressed by, is going.

We have resolved to clear things out – donate, sell, give to friends.  I am calmed by this decision.  I have never before felt so completely, psychologically freed of any commitment to my stuff.

That is one good thing to come from our new reality.

I hope there are other good things on the way.  We are ready for them.  We really are.

♥♥

Holiday Brain Dump

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Bad Mommy

I waited too long to get my son an advent calendar from Trader Joe’s, so now they’re sold out and I feel like a bad mom.

Well okay, I felt like a bad mom before I went to Trader Joe’s.

Today, I made my son cry.  And I made my mother cry.

Just for good measure, I asked my husband if there was anything shitty I could say to him too.  Wisely, he offered no suggestions.  😐

The little boy’s upset was related to homework.  Or rather, my upset was related to the homework (and to the accompanying note of parental reprimand from the teacher.)  The little boy’s upset was related to homework and to my reaction.  Big surprise.  Might I just say, AGAIN, that I am baffled by the papers that come home with my son?

Getting him interested in looking at them is a daily nightmare for the two of us.  He is tired when he steps off the school bus.  He wants a snack and then something mindless to amuse himself for the rest of the afternoon.  Homework is painful for my child and painful for me.  We both hate it.

But enough about that.  It’s an old, worn-out problem with no solution.  I work daily not to care what the teacher or anyone else thinks of how we handle it.  Or don’t handle it.

Moving on.

Bad Daughter

I made my mother cry because I reminded her that we weren’t the best of housemates when I returned from college feeling all independent and snappy two decades ago.

I had moved back into the house with her and my dad and she and I argued sometimes.  Who wouldn’t have?  Headstrong twenty-something suddenly sleeping in her old twin bed?  I was unpleasant.

Ultimately, mom and I came to a mutual understanding that I needed to find myself a real job and somewhere else to live.  It was an excellent idea, and I am the better for having done just that, but now mom is worried.  She hadn’t remembered the low points of that summer until I burst her rosy impression over a cheap plate of pancakes at Denny’s this morning.  Sorry, Mom!  😦

So, two for two.  My son cried.  My mom cried.

I cried too, but that came after I had filled my cart at Trader Joe’s and then discovered the item I had come for, the advent calendar, couldn’t be had.  I bought every seasonal chocolate product the store carries.

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And yes, I waited until I was in the car to open the teary flood gates.

Okay, so changing the subject completely…

Husband Update

Husband is mending more each day.  He might even go back to work tomorrow – driving in his own car!  Yippee!  He is still uncomfortable at night and if you watch him for a few minutes you will notice how much he favors his right side, but he’s getting there.  The ribs, the collar bone…they are repairing themselves.

The Mission Inn Festival of Lights

We drove up to Riverside on Thursday to spend one quick night at The Mission Inn.  We sort of owed it to the boy (and ourselves) to do something spontaneous and fun to make up for the Palm Desert accident weekend.  The Mission Inn was the perfect answer.

The Festival of Lights is amazing.  There are animated characters, lighted horse carriage rides, giant nutcrackers, icicle lights, garlands, candles and falling snow too.  There are real reindeer and vendors with gingerbread, roasted nuts and miniature doughnuts available every night during the holidays.  There are Christmas carolers and a roving Santa in the restaurants.

The sleeping rooms are luxurious and full of charm.  The spa products in the bath are rich and fragrant and the windows actually open.  The beds are very comfortable and loaded with extra pillows.  The linens are crispy white and super fresh.  There are big fluffy bathrobes in the closet and the package we got came with a divinely citrus-scented aromatherapy candle.

The hotel itself is a work of art.  There is a rotunda with a spiral staircase.  There are gorgeous plazas and flowered balconies.  There are stained glass windows, catacombs and an amazing clock.  The hotel pool is walk-in warm and landscaped to feel private, even though it is surrounded by sleeping rooms.  Everything is beautiful.  Everything is humbling.  And we didn’t even see it all.  We saw a lot, but we missed far more.  Next time, I think we’ll take a guided tour just for the heck of it.

My favorite thing was the twenty-foot, ornately carved church pew sitting in the hall outside our room.  I told my husband that I would gladly tear up the inside of our house and completely rebuild our decor to accommodate that pew, if only they would let me have it.  Sigh.

One of the best things about the trip for me was the little gray striped cat who appeared at the pool when we went for a swim.  My own gray baby passed less than a week before.  It was comforting to see a similar little face so clearly interested in my activities.  When my son splashed near, this cat was just as reserved and removed as my Poupon, but when my son wandered away, the cat came a little closer and talked a little more insistently to me.  I wish I’d gone back down to visit with the cat once we were dry and dressed.  Maybe next time.

Before I change the subject yet again, I have to mention Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s, the store across the way from our room.  I went in once with my husband and son and immediately I knew that I’d have to return again without them.  When I did, I bought a painted metal bird and a weird little nativity set.

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Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s is jam-packed with the most interesting little trinkets, wrapping paper, bath soaps, whimsical tins, garden treasures, dishes, tiny paintings, knick-knacks and Christmas ornaments ever!  The hours aren’t set in stone, but it seemed to me there was someone behind the register most of the day.  It will take you some time to see everything, so be prepared to browse for a while!

Happening Now

The little boy has liberated some empty magazine files from my bedroom and is constructing makeshift body armor with scotch tape.

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thomas magazine rack armor

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The husband is playing computer games and I am dreaming of pajamas, ice cream and a better camera. 😦

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The last remaining cat has finished eating dinner alone in the kitchen.

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And tomorrow our routine starts all over again.

What are you up to?

P.S.  That Santa plaque at the top of the post is something I picked up on clearance in Bazaar Del Mundo a few years ago.  It reminds me to tell you how emotional it was for me when Santa stopped by our dinner table at the Mission Inn Restaurant the other night.  It was the first time our ten-year-old had ever met him.  Because of the many challenges our son faces just getting through a “normal” day, we have never bothered with shopping mall Santas and their incredible lines.  We’ve never been to any event where Santa was a main attraction and even the occasional Santa in front of a store or at an amusement park has always been too removed or surrounded by other children for us to have a meaningful experience.  This time, Santa came to us and asked our son what he wanted for Christmas.  Our sweet little boy told Santa what we already knew…he just wants pencils.  🙂

♥♥