Sunday, March 23, 2014

Getting Through Wednesdays This Winter

Spring thaw is here people.  I can feel it.  I don't care that it's in the 30's in Pittsburgh today.  Every few days we've gotten a burst of warmer weather, or sunshine, or both, and it's doing wonders for my brain, body, and mood.  Not that I'm not still cranky and irritable.  But I'm less so than I have been.

But let's not talk of my moodiness and self doubt today!  I did enough of that at the end of last month.

No, today I want to mention a couple of things that got me through Wednesdays this past winter.  More specifically, a few ladies.  I'll start with Ask Polly.  Although, to be fair, she's been a favorite of mine since she started on The Awl- maybe a year or two ago?  She's an advice columnist and she's awesome.  She gives you the kind of advice that you wish your friends would give you.  Or maybe you don't wish for that, but you know it's probably what you need to hear from them.  There are times I read her column and think, it would be so great if we were friends so that we could go out for drinks, and then she could set me straight when I'm in need of it.  Sort of like a fun voice of reason in my life.  I read her column every Wednesday without fail.  Usually right before bed.  Because it's so much easier to fall asleep thinking about other people's issues than anything I'm currently dealing with.  (If you haven't read her before, and you start with this past Wednesday's column?  You may want to dig deeper.  This was the first time she's written anything that large numbers of people seem to disagree with.)

The other thing that made my Wednesdays happy this winter was Broad City.  I can't begin to tell you how much I love this show.  I love it so hard and it's so fucking great.  To be fair, my husband doesn't love it as much as I do- although he does like it- so maybe this one's not for everyone either.  But it is for me, and it made my Wednesday nights highly enjoyable and something to look forward to over the past months.  I think it's hilarious and I really like Abbi and Ilana and a lot of the other characters.  I think the me in my 20s (so long ago!) had at least a bit in common with Abbi.  Although, I'm thankful to say, my roommate never dated anyone has horrible as Bevers.  (Her ex-boyfriend was rather nice, actually.  And I liked him better than the guy she ended up marrying.)  Anyway, if you haven't seen it yet, I highly suggest giving it a try.  The season finale is this week, but I'm sure you can catch up on On Demand or Hulu, or whatever.

And that is how I spent my Wednesday nights these past couple of months.  Broad City & wine at 10:30, followed by going to bed and reading Ask Polly before drifting off to sleep.  Honestly, kind of awesome.  And way better than some of the other weeknights.  Leaving you with one of my favorite Broad City scenes from this past season.  Enjoy.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Guilt. An Outpouring.

I've been wallowing in guilt these last couple of weeks.  Fun!  Here are a few things that I've been guilt ridden about lately...

Being a terrible mother.

Being a terrible wife.  Or a selfish one?  I'm not sure.  Maybe a bit of both.

Not going to the gym regularly.

Staying up too late.

Being diplomatic.  Because sometimes people want you to be stronger at running interference.  Or something.  I don't know.  Why can't we all just act like adults and get shit done?  People are goddamn confusing.

My house should be cleaner.

And the clean clothes have sat in the dryer too long this week.  Really.

Not always having the patience to deal with the boundary testing of my 3 year old.

Not sending thank you cards in a timely manner.

Being a terrible listener when I know better because I'm usually a good one.  I don't know where my mind is these days.

I should really be eating better.

Not sending photos.  I suck at that.  And I have so many photos to send.  Some are way overdue.

And just not keeping in touch with people in general.  I used to be better at that too.

Wanting more time alone.

Being diplomatic.  Because sometimes, people act way more hurt by what you say than, let's be honest, they probably are.  And then you have to go back and stroke egos and then they still drag their feet anyway and don't do what they keep saying they will do.  People are fucking frustrating.

Not being able to let some stuff go.

Not always having the energy to deal with the emotional roller coaster that is an 11 year old.

OK.  Not always having the energy to just generally be the parent I want to be.

Not being more organized.

Feeling as though I may be constantly disappointing people.

Going out with friends and drinking too much when my family goes away for an overnight ski trip and I promise myself that I'm going to be so, so productive while they're gone.  And then I wake up the next day with a raging headache and it takes me hours to actually get my act together.

Talking too much.

Feeling burned out with some of my volunteer work.

Being annoyed with relatives.

Staying just a little too long.

Being quite irritated with parents I don't know who say things at birthday parties like, 'I mean, I don't pay $17,000 a year in tuition to have my kid's teacher tell me she's at the bottom of her kindergarten class.'

Being judgey.

There are things on my front porch that desperately need to be put away.  But it's just so cold.  

Feeling irrationally annoyed with crowds.

Not writing here.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

This One Goes to 11

The Boy turned 11 yesterday.  I can not even believe it.  Eleven.

We took The Boy and a herd of his friends bowling last night.  Ordered some pizzas, served up some mustachioed cupcakes.  It was a pretty easy party.

From what I could tell, a good time was had by all.  Even The Girl got to knock down a few pins.

After the party a couple of The Boy's friends stayed the night.  And while they played video games upstairs, The Husband and I had a well deserved drink.  Or two.

And then tonight The Boy declared it his best birthday ever.  I'm pretty sure we hear that every year.  But I'll take it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Oh the Humanity

Honestly, 2014 has been good to us so far.  Very low-key.  We've spent quality time with friends, had some fantastic dinners, and we're getting stuff done around the house.  The Boy has had one snow day and is looking forward to at least one more- probably more of a the-temperature-is-too-cold-to-leave-the-house day than an actual snow day.  But it still counts.  Personally, I'm back in the exercise groove after holiday bingeing, I've been cooking more often- which I love, and reading a little bit more.  Everyone is reasonably happy and healthy- even the cat is getting much better than I had expected.

And yet.  My anxiety about the world at large has crept up.  It's not just the major news- terrorists in Russia, continuing problems in Afghanistan, legislative fights over women's birth control.  It's been some of the smaller stories too. I recently heard a story on NPR about how one of the Newtown families has been coping since the loss of their only daughter.  Also on NPR a few days ago, I heard a story about the homeless in Maine, and they interviewed a man who's been on the street for three years.  At my dentist's office I read a story in a magazine about a woman who lost her three daughters and both parents in a Christmas morning fire.  A couple of days ago I read a story in our local paper about how Homeland Security is conducting internet child pornography stings.  The article also focused on one of the victims, which was heartbreaking.  And two nights ago I read a story online about Ariel Levy, and how she lost her baby while overseas.  Let's not even get into all the horrible stories I read in today's paper.

People.  I'm not sure that I can take much more.

I realize that I have the power to change this.  Just don't read the fucking stories, you might be thinking as you roll your eyes at me.  But it's not that simple.  At least it doesn't feel like it is.  Often times, when I listen to stories about people who have lost children, or are homeless, or who have lived through some other kind of tragedy, I feel like I almost owe it to them.  Surely, the storytelling must be cathartic for them on some level.  So I, as a listener or reader, feel like I should hear their story. Maybe I will learn from it, or it will motivate me to take action.  Or maybe it will just deepen my empathy for them and the human condition in general.  But I do feel that I owe it to them to hear their story.

Sometimes the stories are more informative than a personal storytelling. Today's news about prison rates, childhood poverty, etc. was also a downer, just not told from any one person's point of view. But I feel like I should read these stories too. To stay informed, to remember what the world is like outside of my bubble.  I have a hard time ignoring these stories too.

Balance and action are the key, I think.  Balance out these stories with ones that are more uplifting.  And make sure that I'm doing positive things for me, my family, and community.  What would be helpful too, is to start looking at more ways that I could take some action.  Donate to related charities, or volunteer my time to related organizations.  All good things to do and to plan for in the coming year.

OK.  And maybe not turn a blind eye, but I could put the fucking paper down once in a while.  Or turn off the radio.  Maybe that would be all right too.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mad Angels

'Mama, what's that on top of our tree?'

'Her?  She's an angel.'

'I don't like her.'

'Why not?'

'She looks mad.'

'Do you really think so?'

'Yes.  She was sad and now she's mad.'

'Why is she mad?'

'She's mad at the girls.'

'Why is she mad at the girls?'

'Because they told her to stop.'

'Stop what?'

'Stop crying!'

And… cue maniacal laughter.  I should be a lot more concerned.  But it's been a tiring week, what with the children at home, visiting relatives, and one very sick cat.

On the plus side though?  Arcade Fire's latest album, Reflektor?  Is perfection.

Happy New Year everybody.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Last Minute Christmas

Somehow, despite my best intentions, I got my act together late this year. Although, really, I should just be happy that I got my act together at all.

It wasn't entirely my fault.  I ordered my cards, but got them a lot later than I expected.  And then my husband couldn't get the mailing labels to print properly. Oh, the joys of being in a house that runs on open source software.  (OK, actually, there are some big advantages to that.  Running labels just isn't one of them.)

We bought our Christmas tree two weeks ago, but it fell over twice.  An issue that we're not really used to dealing with- I don't even think that's ever happened to us before.  We got a lot of advice.  Shims.  Cutting more off of the bottom.  Attaching the tree to the wall, which I didn't even know was  a thing.  But apparently lots of people do it, my mother included.  Of course, my mother gets like twenty foot trees because her family room ceiling is two stories high.  So it makes sense that a tree stand alone can't keep them up.  But still, I had no idea.  In the end we didn't have to do that (so far, fingers crossed).  Thankfully, because I couldn't figure out where on my walls I felt like putting in hooks to attach fishing wire.

We are all good now though.

As a result of falling trees, off center labels, and late holiday cards, we didn't decorate the tree or work on cards until late last week.  I crammed tree trimming and card writing into an eight hour period.  Instant Christmas!  I now have a trimmed tree, a decorated mantle, and cards in the mail.  Presents are even purchased too. The Husband and I are determined to get them wrapped during the day tomorrow.  As opposed to 11:00 at night on Christmas Eve like we usually do.

We are still grocery shopping though.  Still!  After two trips to the Strip District.  And I've been at Whole Foods just about every day for the last two weeks.  But we're doing a Seven Fishes dinner tomorrow, and realized that when we planned our menu we only came up with six fishes, not seven.  So, there's a menu re-do going on.

Anyway.  Tomorrow will be busy, but I think the actual Christmas Day will be very laid back, which will be awesome.  Just presents and eating.  And, I guess, college football, because my dad is here.  But otherwise not too much to do.  So looking forward to that.

Happy happy whatever you celebrate this year.  May it be joyful and relaxing.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Oh Come On

Me: So, what do you want for Christmas?

The Husband: I sent you that link for the headphones I wanted…

Me: I know.  I just thought it might be nice to get you a couple of CDs.  Maybe a book?  Is there anything like that that you want?

TH:  I don't know.  Let me think about it.

Me: You know, Iron & Wine has a new one out.  It's pretty good.

TH: …

Me: I mean, I know that I like him more now than I used to.  Now that he has a band and all.  And I know that you don't like him as much as you used to.  I know that you liked him better back when he was all by himself and it was just him and his beard and his guitar.

TH: You get me.


And then, this afternoon The Husband asked if I'd heard of The Julie Ruin.  And I hadn't.  So then I watched this video.

And I love it.  I mean, God bless The Julie Ruin for bringing Riot Grrrl back.  And now I officially feel old, because I've been in denial that I'm old enough to have to watch the kids bring back things like Riot Grrrl and keyboards.  Even though keyboards have been all over the radio this past year.  And I'm sure grunge is just around the corner.  Unless it's already happened and no one has told me.  Which is totally possible.

UPDATE: And now I feel so, so dumb.  Because that is none other than Kathleen Hanna.  And The Husband said to me, isn't that Kathleen Hanna?  And it looks and sounds like her but for some reason I didn't think so.  I'd heard that she'd been really, really sick so I didn't think that she'd been recording.  But I guess she's better and she's back and I'm very happy about that.  And also?  Not feeling old, because it's the original Riot Grrls bringing the Riot Grrrl and not the kids.  Yet.