Thursday, August 25, 2016

Just Joy | I've listened to preachers, I've listened to fools, I've listened to dropouts who make their own rules


  • Mads and I are both in our pajamas, and he should be winding down for the night, but he's playing that there's a monster in the house and insists on hiding with me in the arm chair under a crochet afghan which we tent out with our arms. I keep the chair rocking with my foot, and he leans into me whispering things like, "I have candy here. The zombie can't eat our candy." The way the afghan filters light makes everything warm and cozy.
  • I am stealing a moment to myself in the kitchen, eating a spoonful of coconut butter, when Mads proudly announces, "Mommy, I pooped!" He carries his poop-filled potty chair from me to his dad, so proudly, so precariously, and I am overwhelmed by surprise and delight and relief.
  • I am at the sink washing breakfast dishes. Wolfman is at the stove throwing together a largely improvised gumbo. Black Sabbath is playing. Our son marches into the kitchen wearing his new mask and cape, and with a flourish of that cape he tells me, "My name is Batman. I'm going to get you, ogre."
  • I am nearly home after a solo morning walk, sweaty, my blistered feet squelching in red clay mud. A neighbor's dog finds me and barks happily then runs to greet me, jumping up and wrapping his paws around me in a hug. It is as though he (or she?) is saying, "Hey, I know you!" though we don't know each other, I've never seen this dog, but perhaps this dog knows no strangers. He (she?) is that kind of guy.
  • I'm scheduled for a 10 hour shift and before that, I have some family-favor driving back-and-forth between Apex and Cary. It is early, and I am already exhausted by this day. But, first, my menfolk and I eat a quick little biscuit breakfast at Bojangles, and it is stupid how content I am, just to be in their company.
  • I am driving alone, and the sky is glorious. I pass the rickety little farm shed I've passed hundreds of times since moving out here to Wolfman's childhood home, but today it is astonishingly picturesque. Whenever I'm in a car, whether the passenger seat or behind the wheel, I see landmarks on the road--abandoned buildings, funny signs--and I wish I had the time to stop and take a pictures. Nothing was stopping me (except a "No Trespassing" sign), so I did just that. Turned around on a gravel road, parked in front of the little shed, took exactly two photos, then jumped back in the car and drove home. 
  • I am with Mads and Ella, and we've successfully chosen and checked out a weighty stack of library books. We've nearly made it back to the car when Mads announces, "I have to pee," and Ella repeats the same sentiment. I drop the books off in the front seat, then march the kids back across the parking lot and back into the library, to the loo. After some shifting of clothes, maneuvering around commodes, and general cheerleading, both kids pee in the toilets (Mads standing up on a foot stool the library smartly keeps at the sink for kids), wash and dry their hands, then stop for a sip at the water fountain on the way out. I feel adult and triumphant for the first time in a while, and the three-year-olds are the ones who did most of the work.
  • Mads, Ella, and I wait in the parked car, with the air conditioning on full blast, headbanging to "Crazy Train," until the song ends.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Struggle Is Real | I'm a lot of faith, this is how I feel

Little Michelle, searching for mermaids in Montana.
All of my birthday messages went unanswered. I've felt ambivalent, at best, about my birthday this year, and luckily for me I share a birthday with my son--it's easy to put the focus on him. Turning three is a lot bigger of a deal than turning thirty-two, especially when I've mostly lost track of exactly how old I am and have probably been calling myself thirty-two for many months now (I think). Let me just say: I am grateful, truly, to everyone who took the time to send well wishes my way. Certainly, I need those wishes.

There's this Dave Eggers short story, I can't remember the title of it, or much about it, except at one point a character is sitting out in the ocean on a surf board, bobbing aimlessly, water slapping against the palm of his hand. Eggers describes that simple sensation, of flesh meeting water, and asks, "Why isn't this enough?" As in, why religion and god(s), or for that matter, why uncertainty? Why angst? This moment, this feeling, is so miraculous: it should be enough. (Or, at least, that's the way I remember the story; I haven't read it in a while and could have this moment all wrong.) In a lot of my life, I feel like waves slapping against and tickling the palm of my hand, whether the ocean or my son's bath water, is enough. I identify as a pantheist. I see a lot of magic in the world, a lot of miracles, a lot of mundanity which is not that at all.

But sometimes, it's not enough. Sometimes, it is as though the lights go dim on the world, and I struggle. It's not really a big deal. Usually, I am striding along casually, confidently, easily, but on occasion, I stumble.

The little girl Michelle, who I still carry around with me in all things, in all places, believed the world was full of magic. And I don't mean that abstractly. Little Michelle believed in witches and ghosts, demons and angels, the fae, Bigfoot, Nessie, et al. Textbook escapism, as a kid I immersed myself in fantasy worlds, and I believed in the creatures that populated those worlds, but moreso, I believed that I was special. I believed I would be chosen, or I would choose myself, and there were adventures to be had. In my teen years, I'd let go of all my fairy tale baggage, but I still believed that when I was a woman, I would be special or doing something special, that I would be traveling and writing. I pictured myself driving cross country, talking to strangers, smoking thousands of cigarettes and putting them all out in cold, black cups of coffee. I imagined myself less as part of the story than story teller.

I guess what has me down, as I search for, apply for, supplicate myself for jobs that, deep in my heart and soul, I know I don't actually want, is the knowledge that this is probably it for me. This is my life. No traveling, not a whole lot of writing, and if there are cigarettes they will only add to how depressing this small life is. I feel a little stuck and a little sorry for myself, and I feel guilty for feeling this way.

Nobody has to remind me of what I have going for me. Put aside my own health and stamina, my mind and the vast unknown that is my future (full of possibility, even if not possibility I make for myself, possibility simply because I live in a weird, unpredictable world), I have a supportive family (including immensely kind in-laws), I am married to a rare good man, and with that good man, I have created a perfect son. So many intimate partnerships go sour and fail--people cheat and lie and hurt each other, or sometimes people just fall away from each other. Hearts are broken every day. But, I have this incredible man by my side who loves me, but more importantly, who sees me and speaks my language, and I love him, an unquantifiable love that humbles and sustains me. We love each other, but also we get along; we almost always see eye to eye, and when we don't, we're judicious and giving negotiators. I have a love and a partnership that works, and this is a rare thing, a thing I hold gently and feed robustly.

And our son: perfect. The very fact that he is here is magical enough, but more than that, he is whole. In an often cruel world, I am blessed with a beautiful child who is smart, who is healthy--he can run, he can communicate, he can absorb our love and reflect it back on us. Martigan will always be my greatest blessing, the most magical thing in my life; being his mom is what makes me special.

While I don't want to seem ungrateful for all this love, it has occurred to me time and again, most recently since being laid off, that maybe this is all I get. Maybe I have been so blessed beyond measure by the loves of my life, that I don't get job satisfaction or financial security or deep, lasting, in-my-bones contentment. Maybe I will spend my life working for other people, making other peoples' dreams come true, or worse, just drudging as a cog in the machine. Maybe I've cashed in all my chips. Maybe this is it.

In the weeks leading up to my thirty-second birthday (and maybe the weeks following), I'm just feeling like there is no magic in the world. I don't feel like I'm going anywhere, or that things are ever going to get any better for me. I have my husband, and I have my son, but as far as personal fulfillment goes, me, me, me alone, I don't think there's anything for me. And it sucks.

It's hard to admit this. A lot of people I know are going to read this and worry and reach out to me. And while I know that all that attention comes from a genuine, loving place, I will be embarrassed and will struggle with how to respond (after all, I struggled just with responding to "happy birthday"s on Facebook). I'm not writing this as a plea for help or a cry for attention. I'm writing this because sometimes life is hard, and I really think it's okay to admit that. It is okay to admit when you're unhappy. This unhappiness I'm experiencing right now is just a season, one brought on by losing my job and turning another year older (and summer hanging on too long). This melancholy won't last forever, but I wanted to give it some space and let it air out, regardless. It is okay to be unhappy, and it is okay to admit to unhappiness. As the great Natalie Imbruglia sings (seventy-five times a day for over a decade on Australian radio), "I'm a lot of faith; this is how I feel."

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Thankful Thursday | a single gesture of sweet emotion, a single notion of bitter potion, a strawberry-flavored composition



I Am Grateful:
  • for running water.
  • to have a husband when the toilet clogs.
  • for the way Mads wraps his arms around my neck so tight when I kiss him goodnight.
  • when I lean my forehead against the cool monkey bars at the playground with Mads and right at that moment a breeze blows over me.
  • for a coconut cream latte at the cafe with coconut oil in it.
  • for the patience and grace of regulars at the cafe when the men I love are not at their best, when Wolfman is in a stormy mood and Mads is in a stinky mood.
  • that there is an end to summer in sight.
  • that I did not get into an accident in the Beaver Creek parking lot (though I almost did, and it would totally have been my fault).
  • for Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Philip DeFranco--for people who see and highlight the absurdity in current events, even sad and scary ones, and can reduce it all down to me in a palatable, digestible little blip of humor (and comfort) at the end of my day.
  • for the Deadpool Pizza Special, finally (black olives and pineapple). Yum!
  • for immediate call backs when I send out my resume. 
  • for coconut butter.
  • for Wolfman's Halloween enthusiasm even though (especially because), admittedly and shamefully, I'm not quite feeling it yet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Madmartigan, 3 Years Old! | well I know karate, voodoo, too

2016: 3 Years Old & 32 Years Old

My guy is three. He wore his new Batman utility belt all day yesterday. Wolfman, a wearer of knives and tools attached to his own belt daily asked, "Do you want to be like Batman? Or do you want to be like Daddy?" Mads answered, "No, I want to be Martigan." I wrote in last year's birthday post that this boy, his character and personality (and I don't think this is only me speaking from a place of bias) just slays me. That is still the case one year later, but moreso, because now he is more Martigan than ever.
About Mads, 3 Years Old:
  • Mads has started using the word "amazing." 
  • He is resistant to potty training, but did surprise me with one glorious potty poop that gave me hope and made me so happy. 
  • He hates having his hair pulled back.
  • Counting down from five to get him to follow instructions works 75% of the time.
  • Mads throws his head back and laughs loudly, maniacally, often.
  • Mads says, "No! You must not do that!"
  • Mads also says, "Mommy, that's enough," ("that's enough" being one of those parenting reprimands I give often).
  • His favorite books this month were: Dear Fish, The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Mads has much of this one memorized), I'm Trying to Love Spiders.
  • His favorite movie/show this month was: Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh (Wolfman and I love this, too).
2015: 2 Years Old & 31 Years Old
2014: 1 Year Old & 30 Years Old
2013: Newborn & 29 Years Old

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thankful Thursday | and if you want we'll make it good before my mood swings

I don't feel like doing this tonight, which means I definitely need to.

I Am Grateful:

  • for Grandma surprising me as we leave the science museum with a pair of honey bee stud earrings she'd bought at the gift shop.
  • for coffee.
  • for running through sprinklers with Mads.
  • for tater tots so crispy it's like eating nothing at all.
  • for pizza delivery, and to eat a dinner I didn't have to make or clean up after with my funny little family at the dining table.
  • for my baby's small, excited, happy voice--particularly when I hear it on a day he's otherwise been so grumpy.
  • for tattoo artists on Instagram.
  • for consumers at the farmer's market who are concerned enough and passionate enough to ask questions about where their meat comes from, even when all those questions and all that conversation inconveniences me as I wait in line to buy some Polish sausage.
  • for the smell of my new whim-purchased live basil filling up the cab of the car as I drive home from work and the grocery store.
  • for the opportunity to grocery shop alone.
  • to be working again.
  • for the smell of crayons.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

July Joys & Favorites | just leave me to do my dark bidding on the internet

| Joys |
Independence Day! We celebrated the 4th at Grandma's house with grilled brats and corn-on-the-cob and backyard fireworks. Grandma's neighbor gave the kids these balloons, and I am so grateful for this neighborly gesture. More even than the fireworks, this was the part of the afternoon Mads and Ella loved most--running through and bouncing off of a bouquet of balloons.
Fuquay-Varina Splash Park! I think perhaps we adults enjoy this place more than the kids. They're still small enough that getting a spray of water to the face is not always an entirely pleasant surprise. But, it's not far from our house, the kids get to expel some of that destructive 3-year-old energy, and it's a great way to cool off in this heat. My only complaint is that of a vampire: I wish it were shaded.
Batmobile! Martigan's Grandmommy and Grandpa Tommy spoiled him royally with his own batmobile (it's black, so it is a batmobile). He drove it furiously for two days before the battery stopped holding a charge, but what a glorious two days (we'll buy a new battery soon; honestly, I'm enjoying the break from the car).
Oak Island! We're not beach people; we're not good at beaching. We always get it wrong, never give ourselves enough time. But, once we get close enough to an ocean, my compulsion toward it becomes an unassailable, tangible thing, a tether that tugs. We're not beach people, but every time we stand in the sand staring at the ocean, we discuss the possibility of moving to an island and becoming fisherpeople. Or merpeople.
Interviews! I truly do loathe job searching. It is among my least favorite experiences, right up there with depression and giving birth, which perhaps is why in the past I've often stayed stuck in a job that didn't suit me or my talents for far too long (years). Unemployment would be a breeze were it not for the fact that I have to spend so many hours a day searching for a new job. But, I must admit, I've been really lucky in my interviews thus far--businesses for which I can see myself working and excelling, businesses for which I feel optimistic and enthusiastic. And, even were they not businesses that seemed to fit me, how lucky I feel just to be granted opportunities to interview.

| Favorites | 
| Recipe | Not Ice Cream! Mads and I have indulged in this recipe nearly every afternoon, sitting on the back deck or front porch (whichever is shadiest at whichever hour). So simple: one frozen banana, half an avocado, a handful of frozen berries, and enough yogurt or coconut water to get it all blended. A thousand imaginable variations. (A food processor works better than a blender, unless you're working with peanut butter--peanut butter is impossible in a food processor.)

| Kid Craft/Play | Moon Sand! I've mentioned this already in my last Project 365 update, but it's just not a North Carolina summer if you don't hear me complaining about it: it is too hot to be outside. I am not just being a hyperbolic whiner; various heat advisories in our local papers and radio station bulletins back me up on this. And any parent, grandparent, child carer can tell you that keeping 3-year-olds cooped up indoors for too long is a dangerous play, particularly when they are together (think Lord of the Flies, but with all your collectibles in the cross fire). This recipe is relatively simple to throw together and cheap (just 4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of baby oil--recipe found here). It's messy, but I'm a mom; I'm impervious to mess.
| Product | Boogie Wipes! Mads and I were briefly sick this month. Again. I don't know how anybody survived a persistently runny nose before Boogie Wipes. They are so worth the however much they cost--it doesn't even matter, I won't blow my nose on anything else.
| Movie | What We Do In The Shadows! After my fifth time watching this in a row, I think it became pretty official that this is one of my all-time favorite movies. Like, I would get a tattoo of Jemaine Clement as Vlad the vampire as a cat.
| Show | Stranger Things! Typically, Wolfman and I are at least two years behind everyone else in our television consumption. It's a nice place to be--we already know what happens on any given show, we know what critics thought of it, what audiences thought of it, and we've decided we don't give a shit about any of that and don't mind wasting (or not wasting) our time on it. Stranger Things, however, is very new. The only thing I knew about the show came from a tweet which described it as "Twin Peaks meets Goonies." Having seen it, I don't think that's an accurate description, but only because it's something better and more interesting than a rehash of other things. (I will say, though, that it has a just a touch of John Carpenter Halloween to it.) However, part of what makes it so lovely is that Stranger Things definitely gives you all the feelings you feel while watching ET or Goonies or Stand By Me or any other beloved 80's movie featuring a group of boys coming-of-age. It feels wholesome. Scary, weird, wholesome: some of my very favorite adjectives. And, god, how beautiful are David Harbour and Winona Ryder. I've always liked Winona Ryder (I'll get a tattoo of Lydia Deetz right next to my Vlad-as-cat), but she is a complete revelation to me in this show. Her crazy eyes, the way she stabs the air with her cigarette and walks with a hunch, I just completely, utterly love her performance. And now, because Wolfman and I are riding the zeitgeist this time, we have to wait for season two. In classic first-in-a-franchise horror movie style, season one did not quite wrap up, and I could not be happier.
| Links & Etc. | On Instagram, I've been particularly taken with @nurturingnova--her account is so chill and joyful and beautifully cultivated. | I've been following Julia Dreads on Youtube for a while, but this month she's increased her output, and her daily vlog videos are the prettiest dailies I've seen. | Recently discovered Drew Monson on Youtube, and though it took me a few videos before I'd made up my mind, I do think he's very funny. But, it's his videos discussing his struggles with depression that I find most impressive, perhaps because they're vulnerable, but more because they're real, and I don't often hear people discuss depression in a way that feels real. | "Literally, right now my body is heavy. It just had a child. My tits are bigger. My stomach is, you know, still soft and giant. And there's this part of me that's going, 'you're going to look kind of ugly,' and then there's that wiser voice that goes, like, 'no you're not. You just had a child. You're going to look real. You're going to look like the thing that you are.'" Love this Amanda Palmer's Style Like U strip interview. | Loved the TED Radio Hour episode "Animals & Us" and recommend it if you have animal companions. | I want this to be a real thing: Mom Tiger Will Finally Lose Her Shit on New Episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood



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