I thought about this post all day. This evening, was getting ready to wind my day down by writing my thoughts.
That was kyboshed when I discovered my grandmother had suddenly become ill.
My normal nighttime routine was quickly overtaken by rushed phone calls to family and emergency services, talks with the EMTs. Childcare was arranged so that I could follow the ambulance to the hospital, where I stayed with grandma and spoke to doctors and nurses, mostly on her behalf.
My grandmother is ill. Tonight she will stay in the hospital, and tomorrow I will find out more about what is making her that way. Until then, I have to try and get some sleep.
If you read this, keep my grandmother in your thoughts and best wishes.
December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)
On January 2nd, 2010, I wrote my very first blog post. (Go and marvel at the cheeks, even if you don't read the post. Trust me. It's worth it.)
It's made of HTML and, um, pictures and words. And time. I'm really proud of this little blog, and my commitment to it. It's been a massive source of inspiration for me.
In the past few years, I've let my writing slide, to the point where even I believed it was nothing more than a pastime. A lot of the posts in this blog would not have been written in my journal. I would have made excuses - not enough time, not enough energy, not enough to say. Nothing to write about. For some reason, this blog has kept me from making those excuses.
I've found community through this blog. I've found some amazing writers, and some amazing people. It's made me feel less lonely on my journey. It's given me a lot of ideas. It's helped me be a better parent. It's helping me become a better writer. It's even teaching me about that newfangled interweb the kids are always talking about.
Someday, I may even have a semblance of computer literacy. My god.
Heh. I just re-read my prompt. This blog is certainly not the last thing I made. Since then, I've made another baby. It's made of DNA and, um, love...
I have a giant pile of things I want to make. My sewing machine is lonesome for me, and I for it. But life is busy, and I am a tired, tired mama. Writing is my priority right now, and the rest will have to wait till life calms down.
December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) didyou let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)
Dammit! I just popped over to Finslippy, Alice Bradley's amazing blog, and of course got caught up there for waay too long. Why does she have to have a link to Let's Panic! (about babies) right there? Now it's super late and I should be sleeping instead of just starting my post. Jeez. On the upside, I just laughed until I peed a little. And I started making a list of awesome kid's books for Chaos and Co.
*An aside. I was reading Let's Panic the night I had Cap'n Chaos. I'm pretty sure the hours I spent sitting in front of my computer, laughing till I cried and my sides hurt like hell, had something to do with inducing labor. Thank you, ladies. No, really. Thank you. Let's try again with baby #2.
Anyway. What (or whom) did I let go of this year, and why?
This has been one of the most transformative years of my life to date, and I have let go of many things. When it's all boiled down, though, what I have let go of this year is fear.
I've held onto many of my fears for years - my fear of sobriety, of leaving my childhood behind and fully embracing adulthood. My fear of success. My fear of failure.
Some are markedly more recent - my fear of being a single mother, for instance. Kind of had to take that bull by the horns.
I've had to take a long, hard, honest look at myself in the past year, and I certainly haven't liked all that I've seen. So, for the first time in my entire life, I've begun to work to change the things I don't like, rather than run from them or drown them in beer and smoke. I've begun to work towards goals that I've been shuffling off for years. It's goddamn hard work, and I've got a long road ahead, but it's worth it in the end.
I want my children to grow up unafraid. I want them to know what is possible if you trust yourself, if you are open to the sudden changes life brings. I want them to know what can be accomplished if you are singleminded in your pursuits and work hard toward your goals, in spite of what others may think or want you to do.
That's why I'm letting go of fear. For them. For me.
Children live in a world of wonder. Firsts abound. First smile, first solid foods, first birthday, first steps, first words. Every day brings a new discovery, new opportunities to learn and grow.
Our challenge is to let their wonder into our own lives. It becomes too easy to simply exist as caretaker and custodian, passively watching as our offspring soak up the amazingness that is the world.
Let the dishes go. Let the floor remain unvacuumed. Close the laptop. Spend a half hour stuffing your child into long johns, double socks, snowpants, two shirts, a sweater, a coat, mittens, toque, and scarf for a twenty minute sled ride. It's a lot more work than staying inside, but it's worth it's weight in wonder.
December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)
This one was easy. I smiled when I opened up my prompt last night, thinking of this moment.
This summer, I took the little guy on a road trip. His father had just walked out on us. I was four months pregnant, hurting, angry, and scared for our future. It was some kind of serendipity that brought me a bunch of time off work at about the same time a couple of very dear friends invited me to Starbelly Jam, a music festival in Crawford Bay, BC.
This picture was taken the day that we arrived. Chaos was hot, tired, and cranky after two days on the road, and I wanted to thank him for being such an awesome road trip companion by taking him for a swim.
We met up with my friends on the road to the beach. It was quite an experience, seeing them in their truck, with their son strapped into the back, and me following in the first car I've ever owned, with my own little guy in tow.
You see, twelve or so years ago, we had been together in almost exactly the same spot, on the same road. We had met up for a weekend in the Kootenays then, too - my friends, who were still just dating at the time, in his '84 Charger, and myself (with yet another ill-advised boyfriend), who had hitchiked in from Jasper. We had no money and certainly no kids, but we did have a lot of beer.
My friends ended up getting engaged that weekend and were married a couple of years later. We live in different provinces now, and we've shared our ups and downs, but we've weathered the passing of time as friends do.
So, when we reached our destination that day and got out of our respective vehicles to greet one another, it was a very special moment. I had met their little guy once before, and they had never met Chaos. I remember the crunch of gravel beneath our feet as we hugged and introduced our children to one another. I remember the scent of cedar baking in the hot summer sun and the incredible view of the Kootenays that opened up to us as we made our way out of the woods and down to the pebble beach.
We spread blankets on the rocks and broke out water bottles, snack containers, sunscreen; all the accoutrements of parenting young children. I remember thinking how amazing it was that we were here, together, at this time in our lives, and how lucky I was to have had these people in my life for the past fifteen years.
My girlfriend's mother had come with them for the weekend, and she took Chaos while I swam in the lake. I remember the gratitude I felt towards her for allowing me that. It had been a long time since I had really swum anywhere, as opposed to simply splashing around with a squirmy water baby in my arms. It was wonderful.
We sat long into the late afternoon sun on that beautiful pebble beach on Kootenay Lake, eating oranges and blueberries, chasing our children in and out of the water, talking as old friends do. At some point we rounded up the kids and wrestled them into dry clothing, packed up our blankets and snacks and hats and bags, and headed to where we would be staying that night.
As we drove out into the soft evening light, I opened my windows wide and felt the breeze on my face, smelled the fresh mountain air. It had been an amazing afternoon for me. I had come to this place of healing brokenhearted, lonely, and found my friends again. I looked ahead at the tail lights of their truck, and behind me at my precious son sleeping in his carseat, and was happy, surrounded by love.
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)
Well, damn if I don't ask myself that same question, framed differently, on a regular basis.
Why am I not writing?
The answer to my question is always easy.
I'm exhausted. Cap'n Chaos kept me up all night with his incessant teething. I'm nine months pregnant. I've been busting my ass around here all day.
I'm too busy. Grandma has a doctor's appointment then it's playgroup time then I have to make lunch then it's naptime then I have laundry and dishes and cleaning to do then it's time to wrassle with Chaos for a bit before I have to make supper then it's bathtime and bedime for the little guy then I have to talk to gramma about her meds and make a shopping list and then I have laundry and dishes and cleaning to do...
And so on and so forth.
The answer to Leo's question was harder for me to find. But only because it caught me off guard.
What do I do each day that doesn’t contribute to my writing — and can I eliminate it?
A quick look at Twitter this morning confirmed my suspicion that I wasn't the only one who had been caught off guard by the question - and probably more specifically, the way it was framed. A lot of people seemed put off by the question. A lot of people seemed defensive.
I was too, at first.
Everything I do each day contributes to my writing. I can't "eliminate" any of it. That's a stupid question.
I write about my life and the people in it. It's just that they keep me so busy I don't have time to write, really.
I love that my prompts come first thing in the morning, because I've actually carved out a tiny bit of space at the end of my day for myself. For writing, mostly. I have all day to think about these questions, and believe you me, I do. It's awesome. Anyway, as I was rushing around today making breakfast for three people and cleaning the kitchen so grandma wouldn't have to and comforting a tired, cranky Chaos who wanted my undivided attention, please, and starting lunch for five people, it hit me.
I do too much for everyone else and not enough for me.Too much is what doesn't contribute to my writing. Too much, also known as procrastination.
Fahhk. I knew it!
I've been a procrastinator ever since high school. It's always taken on different forms. Alcohol and drugs, mostly. But this one, this taking care of everyone within arm's reach, has always been there too. It's much easier to take care of everyone else than to take care of me. It's a great excuse to put off working toward my goals.
Procrastination is insidious. Just when you thought you booted it out one door, it sneaks in another, wearing a different guise. I started this blog as a form of motivation to write, as a space for myself, after Chaos was born. I did it because I knew that if I didn't, I would spend all of my time and energy taking care of the people around me, and none of it taking care of me. And here I am, doing just that.
So, can I eliminate it?
I've committed myself to caring for my grandmother and my children. That is not negotiable.
What is negotiable, though, is how I go about it. I have a wonderful support group here in the form of family. I have aunts and uncles and parents who are willing to help shoulder the weight of this task. I may be a single parent, but I am definitely not alone.
So? How do I do it?
I recognize that writing is an integral part of my life and my well being. I make it as important to me as my family is. It is not simply recreation, it is not a waste of time. It is my goal in life to make a living and a difference with my words. There is nothing trivial about that.
When I need help being a good parent, I don't hesitate to ask. When I need support taking care of my grandmother, I get it right away. When I need a hand with my own goals? I will reach out.
From now on.
* PS I am due to give birthany day now (hear that, little guy? Anytime) so I may be out of commission for a couple of days. I don't really consider it procrastination, though.
This project has been, as a friend put it, keeping me up at night.
One of the most tumultuous years of my life so far is drawing to a close, and another, surely as chaotic exciting as the last, is dawning. In the midst of everything that's gone on, it hasn't occurred to me to sit down, take a breath, and reflect on what's passed, let alone manifest what's next.
But that's exactly what I am doing, every single day, on an unconscious level.
For my kids, for myself, I am becoming the person I've always wanted to be. It's hard work, to put it lightly. So difficult, in fact, that until I had children (okay, one and one on the way), I'd always given up. It was easier to party than to create meaningful work for myself, to wander than to put down roots, to kill time instead of manage it, to avoid the people I loved than to face myself in them.
Now everything is different.
Which is why my word for 2010 is simply change.
I want to keep on this path of positive change. I want to explore it. I want the opportunities that lie ahead to be realized. To make sure that this happens for me, I need to be mindful, to be grateful, to be open and strong. And I can be all of these things and more, as long as I keep at it, and don't lose sight of my goal.
I'm fairly sure that my new-to-me car has been parked in my driveway most nights. I use it on a daily basis. I can say with almost total authourity that it hasn't been sitting in the back 40 for the last six months.
So how the fuck do I have mice in my car?
I'd love to post more on this subject, but I have to go clean my car out. Like, now.
I'm having kind of a rough time being able to write. It's not for lack of things to write about; my life provides ample material for that. It's more that I'm dog tired.
It's molar cutting season around these here parts, and it's a miserable process. I sleep when Cap'n Chaos sleeps, and I comfort him when he's awake. I wish those fucking molars would come in so that I could get some laundry done or run some errands without all hell breaking loose. I'll probably hold a grudge against his molars for the rest of my life. Sad, but true.
What is the biggest sacrifice you've ever made for someone? Was it worth it?
When I was nineteen, I fell head over heels in Love. No - IN LOVE. First time; we all know what that's like. Well, in a fit of teenagey-angsty-Iloveyoumorethananythinginthewholeworldandwoulddieforyou stupidity, I gave my soul to my beloved.
Seriously. I just said "you can have it" without a second thought as to what I may have been doing. Honestly, I'm pretty pragmatic about that kind of thing anyhow. I didn't think there would be any repercussions, much the same way I don't believe I will see pearly gates (or more likely hellfire and brimstone) and all my long lost relatives when I die. It didn't occur to me at the time that I actually did, on some empheral level, believe in my own soul.
What followed was seven years of pure hell. I floundered through my twenties. Bad things and bad people happened to me. I couldn't find my shit, much less get it together. I didn't know who I was, didn't know what I wanted, where I was going. I dropped out of college three times, then out of life altogether. I struggled with addiction and severe depression. They were the darkest years of my life.
Now, I realize that a lot of this sounds like a chapter in the lives of many people. I also realize that to blame it all on something like verbally giving your soul away to a teenage love is a little naive. But I am convinced that I made a huge mistake saying those words all those years ago.
The number seven is associated with good fortune, luck, and forgiveness in several cultures, including our own. It is prominent in diverse circles of math and science. I won't pretend I know anything past that, but I do know that it took me seven years to earn my soul back after that slip, and I won't be letting it happen again.
Was it worth it? Yes it was. From that one seemingly innocuous youthful encounter, I've learned a great deal about my own belief system, about myself. I was allowed to peer over a precipice that most people simply fall from, and I was shown what life without my own soul would look like. To say it wasn't pretty would be to lay a thin veneer of words over the sheer horror of what I saw.
Every day I am thankful for those seven awful years. Every day I am thankful that I was allowed to leave them behind. I will deal with the psychic and physical scars from those seven years for the rest of my life, to be sure, but I survived for a reason. Even in my darkest times nowadays, I remember that, and I am willed to go on and be the best person I can be for myself, and indeed, for my soul.
When you make a commitment to your ex and your child, stand by it, no matter how trivial you may consider it to be. I can assure you that you ex does not consider it trivial. You probably don't understand, but being a full time single mom is really, really tough. Your ex may have to work, she may have appointments, she may be going to school or working on a project, or she may just need a couple of hours to have coffee with a friend, go to yoga, go for a walk. None of these things are any more important than the other. She is doing what she needs to do in order to be the best parent that she can be for your child/ren.
Your commitment to your child/ren is equally, if not more, important. They may be too young to be let down when daddy doesn't show up, or they may not show their disappointment, but they are learning all the time. You are always setting an example. You are also setting a precedent. Your child/ren are relying on you to teach them to keep their word, no matter what. They are also relying on you to teach them - through actions, not merely through words - that they are loved and valued enough that you will come through for them when you say you will.
So, once again, baby daddies, I implore you. Stand by your commitments to your exes and your children. In the end you will be helping to better all of your lives.
She had a pearl. One perfect, opulent pearl. She had been born with it; had never known life without the pearl. When she was young, she hid the pearl from everyone. She didn't know why she had it, didn't know what to do with it. She didn't know if other people had pearls, or if they had anything like the pearl - one unique, perfect endowment that had been with them as long as they could remember. She was afraid to ask, fearing exposure.
The pearl stayed with her through the years. There was nothing she could do to get rid of it. She felt she would not be the same person without it. Sometimes, that sounded good, when she did not want to be the person she was. She wanted to try on different cloaks, wrap herself in different personas. She felt there was one out there that would suit her better than the one she had.
Still there was this sameness. This pearl. No matter how far away she went, how many different lives she lived, the pearl stayed. It aged with her, became burnished and rich from wear. It suited every cloak she ever wore. It was the perfect accessory to her constantly changing styles. It became more beautiful with age.
*When I was twelve, my snowboarding instructor told me "If you don't fall, you're not learning." It's stuck with me through all these years.*
Hi y'all. Hi NaBloPoMo. Did you miss me?
Well, I guess it was only yesterday that I copped out. That doesn't give much time for the heart to grow fonder.
Well, I missed you.
I stayed up all night thinking about what I had done. Questioning my decision to back down in the face of adversity. That's not really me. To be fair, I stand by my not wanting to post a bunch of crap that I really don't care about on my blog, but seriously. I just can't throw my hands up and walk away when the going gets tough.
I mean, I'm a single mom, for Chrissake. I would never give up on that. I'm a caregiver to an elder. How would that have gone down, after a few months of being here and realizing how fucking tough that job is, to just walk away? "Sorry, grams. I know I told you I'd help you stay in your home as long as possible, but I didn't realize how hard it was going to be. If I can't do it perfectly, I don't want to do it at all. See you around."
C'mon. I can hardly bring myself to write that, let alone do it.
I'll give you the shirt off my back if I love you. I'll bend over backwards making sure you have what you need to be happy, healthy, and comfortable. I'll push my own needs aside for you.
That's all fine and good, but I need to do those things for myself too. I tend to give up on the things that are important to me, simply because I'm too fucking busy doing things for everyone else, and I don't have the time or energy (or divinity) to do it perfectly, the first time around. I don't like fucking up. Especially not in public. And that's not cool. It kind of stands in the way of being open and learning.
NaBloPoMo was important to me because I set myself a goal that I knew would be difficult. Attainable, for sure, but out of my comfort zone.I've enjoyed being forced to think of things to post about every day. I've loved writing every day. I may have grumbled, but I knew I was working towards that goal. And dammit if some of that stupid novel that's been writing itself in my head, but nowhere else, hasn't been rearing it's (ugly) head. That was exciting, even if it does read like a damn harlequin romance right now. Sigh. It'll get better. That's the whole point of writing every day.
So anyway, here's me, copping out on copping out. I'm gonna make spelling and grammatical errors that I may not catch right away (omg I think I just threw up a little bit), and my blog may look like a scratch pad for the next twenty-two days, but damn if I'm gonna give up on this.
So here's the deal. There's a lot of really shitty writing on the interweb. Really. Shitty Writing.
I don't want to be a part of that. Filling up space with crappy writing that I didn't have time to think about, don't have time to edit, and really don't give a good goddamn about is not something I want to be invloved in.
I have a whole lot of shit going on in my life right now. It would be amazing if I managed to get one well written, well edited piece of writing out by the end of the month (I promise, I will try).
Maybe next year, when the boys are older and I don't have any loved ones in hospital, I'll be able to give NaBloPoMo a real shot. Right now, I'm not. So here's me, copping out.
The ferry's ancient motor started up and the captain gave a short blast of the horn, warning anything in the way to move. It was merely protocol on a day like this. There would be nothing else out on the water. Not in this weather. The tide was coming in, creating a strong current, and the wind was blowing the chop around, high waves already breaking against the bow. There was a storm coming on.
I got stuck on a mad click-through binge from my reader and ended up reading this (by a blogger I have come to have a great amount of respect for). I have to say, every time I read shit like this, I am truly glad I'm single.
I don't mean any disrespect to those of you who have worked damn hard to make a marriage work and last the test of time. I truly believe that it is an amazing feat to accomplish. But I know that, with my horrendous taste in men, if I were ever to marry, this is where I would end up. And I don't want that. Not for myself, not for my kids.
In closing, I would like to thank every shitty fucking boyfriend I've ever had (which is all of them) for helping me realize just how amazing I am, how much more I desereve, and how, holy shit, I am so much better on my own. I am truly grateful to each and every one of you.
I don't want to spend my precious time writing this blog post. I want to be sitting here passively, reading other people's posts. I want to be entertained, and maybe inspired. No, fuck inspired. I have lots of inspriation in my life right now. It's motivation I'm lacking.
Maybe it's not even that. Chaos is cutting his first molars as I write, and just wants to be held. All day long. Which makes things like cooking supper and doing laundry difficult. And those things are neccessary. A blog entry a day? Not so much.
But of course, I make it out to be lack of motivation. There's something wrong with me. I've begun another project that I won't finish, and it's due to my own laziness, right?
So I lay awake, thinking of what I could possibly write about, frittering away my precious sleep time until Chaos wakes for comfort and Tylenol in the middle of the night. Now, he's sleeping soundly again (thank g-d) and I'm still up, tapping away my guilt over unfinished business.
Tonight, I held Captain Chaos in my arms and rocked him long past the time when he fell asleep. I find myself doing this more often these days. It's not neccessary anymore - at least, it's not for him. But I know this time is drawing to a close, and I find myself wanting to savour every last second of it.
Every day my little guy takes another step (sometimes literally) towards independence. The things he learns and the pace that he's learning them at astound me. I'm so proud of him. Today, when he looked up from his little red barn and took two steps into my arms, he probably made me the happiest person in the entire world.
I watch as he races through his days, devouring all the sights and sounds and experiences (and food) he can handle. It's amazing. Sometimes I scoop him up as he careens past, just for a quick kiss and a snuggle. We play together, and then he's off on another adventure.
I know that he'll need me for a long time to come yet. But this particular ritual, which I've cherished so much, is coming to an end. I can see from here.
So I sit, just a little bit longer, with my special little guy sleeping away on my shoulder, and I rock.
Elise weaved her way back through the cars and headed upstairs to the warmth and comfort of the passenger lounge. In good weather, the passage between islands was only ten minutes, but in inclement weather like this, it could take much longer. She was not inclined to spend that much time getting soaked, getting colder than she already was.
She settled into a seat and looked out the window. Ahead, the island rose from the grey chop, a lopsided mountain peak covered in dark green forest and shrouded in thick fog at the top. It had always been a foreboding place in the winter; isolated, far from the mainland. Far from everything. Elise smiled. Though she hadn’t lived there for more than twenty years, it still felt like coming home.
Unheeded, his plea faded away into the white noise of the city. His clothing, the color of dust and uv rays, camouflaged him against the cement. No one saw him dissolving in the rain among castoff coffee cups and yesterday's news. Eventually he was washed away into the gutters, swirling briefly at the sewer grate, for once shining bright in a million stars; streetlight refracted in water.
The first thing that came to mind was a cup, no, a carafe of coffee. The second, a pen.
Wind blew sea spray across the bow of the ferry where she stood among the cars, bringing her back with a stinging salt slap to the face. The carafe of coffee and the pen would have to wait until this frigid journey ended.
I am crazy overrun busy, 8 and some odd months pregnant (and completely unprepared), and I have no clue how this damn NaBlowPogo thing works. Oh, and I'm starting a day late. But what the hell! I'm a feet-first kinda girl. So, here goes nothing. Prepare for a lot of inanity.
Also, I'm doing fiction. Yes, I am batshit crazy, for those of you who don't already know.
*This post was inspired by the It Gets Better Project. Check it out, and if you live under a rock and don't know who Dan Savage is, check him out too, because he's awesome.*
When news of Tyler Clementi's suicide broke, my heart did too, for a couple of reasons.
Now that I'm a parent, the idea of losing a child after 18 short years on this earth is too painful to think about for long. Actually having it happen would be a fucking nightmare.
Long before I was a parent, though, I was a misfit high school kid with lots of misfit high school friends. More than a few of these friends came out during those years - at least, they came out to people they thought they could trust. I was one of them in a few instances. Most of the time, at least to the people to whom the kid was coming out, it was A. not really much of a surprise and B. not really a big deal.
But to those kids, who had been struggling with thier identities and thier sexuality for a long time before summoning up the courage to say it out loud, it was a huge deal. It was terrifying. I clearly remember one friend, who told myself and another friend at the same time. He was shaking, there were tears in his eyes. At the time, we made light of it, saying "no shit" and laughing. We made sure he knew we were in his court, we still loved him, and joked about how he was going to break it to his girlfriend (she already knew). And it seemed fine. And I wondered why he had been so scared.
It didn't take long to find out. My friend lost tons of his friends in one fell swoop. All it took was confirmation of his gayness and people retreated. I was surprised. Until that point, I had thought that our merry band of misfits were all open minded, that we were all in it together for the long haul. After all, we were all "different" in one way or another. I didn't realize that being different - being from a broken home, being artistic/intelligent/geeky/wierd - didn't neccessarily grant a person freedom from homophobia.
I started hearing the words "fag" and "dyke" used when describing my friends. These, once again, from people that I had at one time thought to be open minded. I started hearing about fears that a person would be construed as gay if they hung out with these kids too much.
I witnessed friends of the "fags" and "dykes" begin to be harrassed for hanging out with them. I was one of those friends. I was labelled a "fag hag", a "dyke", a "loser", and, interestingly, a "skank", because I hung out with the gay kids. I lost tons of friends too - people who figured I had to chose. I couldn't possibly be friends with them and with gay people at the same time. Which was fine. I'm not really down with people who think you can catch the gay the same way you catch a cold. Fuck.
I'm still friends with a lot of people from those tumultuous years. Many of us, gay and straight, have gone on to live interesting and successful lives. We are designers, musicians, writers, artists. We are teachers, mechanics, entrepreneurs. We are parents and lovers and friends.
We are also survivors. The lucky ones.
A lot of us didn't make it. Isolated from our peers, lacking support from our families, too shy or scared to reach out to people who would care, we found solace in drugs and alcohol. Found ourselves in abusive relationships, or in the wrong place at the wrong time. We OD'd, were beaten to death, or figured that it was all just too much to take, and ended our own lives.
There are too many of these stories in my past. There are too many of these stories period. Too many young people who didn't or don't realize that things change, that life is long, and that it does, indeed, get better. That's why I'm coming out as a straight ally for Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Transgendered youth or anyone who feels they don't fit in. I took the pledge to stand by these kids, to let them know that they are valued regardless of how or who they love. I took the pledge to be there for my own children if they ever feel isolated, and to be straight with them about bullying, sexuality, and homophobia. I hope you will too.
Since Captain Chaos was born, a little over one year ago, my garden has gone to pot. (Not that kind. Put down the phone.) It was beautiful - and bountiful! - last year, but something had to give this year, and the garden drew the short straw.
Unfortunately, I'd spent the year before Chaos was born conditioning the (very neglected) soil in the garden, so when I let it go, the weeds and crabgrass feasted on roughly 500 litres of compost and are now doing very well, thank you.
Now that Chaos is big enough to "help" out in the garden, I'm back, trying to get 'er done. It's a big project, and I'm not making any promises, with Little Brother due in about 8ish weeks, but I'm going to do what I can, and if all we can plant is one bed next spring, I'll consider that a success. If nothing else, I get the satisfaction of getting my hands back into the dirt. Ahhhh...
Here follows a visual confession of my negligence - and an idea of what I've got in store for myself.
Our three apple trees...thankfully unaffected.
The only potatoes this year, growing out of one of the compost piles...heh heh...
Strawberries, lavender, peppers, spring onions, daisies. Sigh..
Cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, zucchini
To the left of the chokecherry bush was my potato patch. In front was lettuce, spinach, and kale. And a bit of Chaos.
The de riguer gratuitious shot of my helpy helper, making sure the apples are ripe.
" Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out."
Yesterday was a terrible day. Not in the usual "BD's a douche and I'm hormonal and tired and broke and nothing ever goes my way and hey! where are you going?" kind of way, but in a "Spectacularly screwing up my blog to the point of deleting it, trying it out on another platform, and failing" kind of way. There was a point where I actually got a little sick to my stomach thinking that I had completely lost my blog.
After finally reinstating Toquegirlworld right here, in all its' obsolete glory (this template is no longer, and is very difficult to find again once you have stupidly gotten rid of it and totally can't find the HTML code from it that is saved somwhere on your computer), I will never again question whether or not I am wasting my time writing here. And I have suddenly become obsessive about backing my shit up.
I had spent so much time in front of this screen during the day that all I could see when I closed my eyes to sleep that night was a burning white rectangle. Which prompted me to announce, via my Facebook status, that today would be a "screen-free day". Which totally didn't happen. The first thing I did this morning was check my Blackberry to see if anyone had commented on the status I had posted. Self defeating much?
Which brings me to the point of this post: to turn the mirror back to y'all.
I just want to know two things;
1. for those of you who blog - what is your motivation? Why do you do that thing that you do? And how would you deal if it were suddenly gone?
2. for all y'all - do you think it's even possible to have a screen-free day anymore? And I'm talkin all screens here. Smartphones included.
Well, maybe it's three things. But it's still in two-question form. Kind of.
Autumn, while sometimes spectacular around these parts, can often be a little cold and drab.
It makes it a little difficult to get off the computer and get outside, especially when dressing Captain Chaos for inclement weather is a full-on Battle Royale that can take upwards of half an hour. Hell, just getting pants on him has been my undoing some days.
He prefers surfing nekkid...ish.
Today, however, Chaos was clearly interested in getting out. I, too, was climbling the walls.
After reading this post from Lindsey at A Crunchy Life, I was inspired. Let the battle begin! Soon, I had wrestled the little man into three layers of clothing and we were off!
He starts squealing every time we roll up to his playground.
Let the wild rumpus begin!
Up the stairs....
Across the bridge
And down the slide
Up the slide
And down the stairs
And down the slide
There are some playground concepts he's still a little unclear on.
I'm sure I rocked this very same look in 1993 - with parade boots instead of Robeez.
Then he saw these stairs, which heretofore had not been climbed.
He's nothing if not determined.
Playground (and staircase) conquered and Chaos corralled, we settled in for a nice nip and a stroll through the hood.
I took pitchers
Even on the gloomiest of days it's pretty around here.
3:30pm - Chaos FINALLY tires of crashing around in his crib, falls asleep.
4:30pm - I finally tire of trying to get blood from a stone (i.e. doing my finances), start getting my sh*t together for supper.
5pm - Dinner is in the pot! And baby is still sleeping! OMG I am so going to pluck my eyebrows! ( As if it's some wicked, delightfully sinful indulgence..)
I rush downstairs to perform said wicked, sinful act. On the way past the washer and dryer, though, I happen to notice that the dryer has stopped.
Alright! Grandma's clothes are dry!
Transfer grandma's clothes from dryer to basket. Transfer Chaos' clothes from washer to dryer. Start dryer.
Well hell - that leaves an empty washing machine. Do I want to throw another load of tiny, scuffed pants and fruit - stained t-shirts in? YOU BET YOUR ASS I DO!! Yeehaw!! Pshew Phsew! ( that's the noise I make when I fire my imaginary six-shooters in the air. In case you wanted to know.)
Hit "fill" on washing machine. Add soap.
I'm one of those people who has to wait till the machine has filled and started agitating before I put my clothes in. It's a hangover from my misspent college days. Many was the time when I would curse as I pulled my clothes from a laundromat washer, only to find them covered in undissolved powdered soap, thereby forcing me to spend much-needed beer money re-washing them all.
Anyway...while waiting for the washer to start agaiting, may as well check my reader.
You guessed it - while I'm wasting time online, washer goes through half a cycle.
Finally! Clothes are in. And baby slumbers yet! I grab my tweezers and the baby monitor and make a beeline for the washroom.
I put my son down for a nap this morning and instead of doing something constructive, I opened up my reader and started getting lost. It's a bad habit. I'm sure you can relate.
At some point during my aimless wanderings, I invariably end up reading about "copy" writing. I don't even know what this is, but it always intrigues me, because I think "Holy shit! Writing to make money? That's what I want to do!"
I'm always disappointed, because it's always about advertising. Maybe if I hadn't smoked most of twenties away, I would remember that when I get on the 'puter and start surfing around. Maybe I should just google the damn word and stop being such a dumbass about the whole thing. I mean shit - I am at least intelligent enough to realize that, if there was an easy way to make money writing on the interweb, everyone would be doing it.
I'm getting a little off topic, though.
I keep coming across this "hard sell" shit and it's a little tough to swallow, but today was the worst. I read that blogging is "mainly a for - profit enterprise" - "otherwise, why do it at all?" and that it is also a popularity contest. I need a brand? I'm selling something? To a "target"?
What the f*ck am I selling? Myself? My child?
And if I'm not, am I just wasting time?
I started this blog as a space for myself, to explore a new avenue of writing, to keep people who know me in the loop, and hopefully, to find a little bit of community out there who may be able to give me some pointers, or at least enocuragement, in this whole new "mom" thing. I mean, I don't have a whole ton of friends with kids, and my mom isn't around to give me advice anymore, so I figured "what the hell?"
Now I do it because I enjoy it. I like seeing my words on screen. I like having a little impetus to write. I like constantly challenging myself to write better. I like seeing what's out there, and I love getting feedback. I love that people out there are reading this blog because they enjoy it.
I grew up swimming in cold, clear lakes, rivers, and creeks in the mountains; glacial runoff that never seemed that far removed from the ice it had once been.
During long, hot summers at grandma's place, we cooled off by splashing in the murky waters of the dammed - up Saskatchewan river.
On epic canoe trips, the icy waters of Northern Shield lakes served as both pool and bathtub.
On the Coast, the cool salt embrace of the north Pacific lures me and I cannot resist the call.
I love the water, and I know the only way in to our frigid Canadian birthright is headfirst, or feetfirst, fully committed.
I know the deep breath before the plunge.
I am well into my third trimester now; Chaos will soon have a little brother, and I will have two boys under 18 months old. I'm on my own, broke, and terrified at the thought of the sheer amount of energy it is going to take to keep it all together.
I am up to my waist in glacier water, trying to gather the courage to just dive in.
There are going to be days in the months ahead when I cannot conceive of getting out of bed, or off the floor. Days when I'm feeling alone. Days when I don't know how I'm going to make it.
I am concentrating on that headache-y moment when I first go under. The cold stealing the breath from my lungs.
I am forgetting what happens after the splash subsides and the water calms, and I'm floating cool and refreshed and relaxed. The feeling of weightlessness, of being held aloft by something other than myself.
After the deep breath, after the plunge, the joy of swimming. The exhilaration of opening up, challenging myself to go further, faster, and be better than ever. The feeling of accomplishment, seeing how far I've gone and how well I've done. The satisfaction of overcoming the fear of deep water, of the unknown.
I know that, for the rest of my life, I am going to be blessed with two wonderful boys, who will grow into two amazing people. I know the challenges will be there, and boy howdy do I know the next year especially is going to be tough. But I am surrounded by a loving, supportive family. I have a job that takes really, really good care of me. I am blessed with the most awesome friends a girl could hope for. And, I have an astounding will. ( I come from a long line of stubborn women. Just ask my grandma.)
In these closing weeks of my pregnancy, life has slowed. Yoga, long naps with the baby, and enjoying as much time with Chaos as possible are my main focus on days when I don't work. I'm sewing cloth diapers to soothe the nesting beast and at least partly calm my financial panic.
I need to remember that it will all work out.
I will be taking many deep breaths before this, the biggest plunge of my life.
I wish I had just breathed into a paper bag like you're supposed to when you're upset.
I wish I had been able to nap earlier in the day.
I wish that I hadn't found out the night before that some people in my family think I'm not caring for my grandmother properly. That really hurt, considering I had to hear it secondhand, and considering the fact that no one takes into account how hard I work around here.
I wish I hadn't done my finances two hours before going into work.
I wish I hadn't found out that my expenses outrun my income..by a longshot.
I wish, oh I wish, that I hadn't turned to my ex for help, because god only knows that ain't gonna happen.
But, that's just the way it went, and by the time I got to my night shift, I was already in full blown panic mode. Two or so hours into work, I hit the floor, rendered unconcious by my third ever anxiety attack.
I spent the night in hospital, on an iv drip to replace fliuds, trying to sleep, trying to calm my racing mind. The thing that kept occurring to me is that I haven't been back to work long enough to warrant sick pay, and my little episode in the kitchen has now set me even farther back.
Yes, I am what is known up here in the Great White North as "up the creek without a paddle".
I need to get more hours at work or find a second job, which means I need to find more childcare. I've tapped my family out, can't afford to pay someone, and the ex is beyond unreliable. So what? What do I do?
I buckle down, cut the fat, make sacrifices, work really really hard to find that little bit extra that I need, and I find a way to make it work for all of us - Chaos, baby-to-be, gramma, and me.
To everyone who thinks that I can't, or that I won't, or that it's not going to work; to the people who talk behind my back and the people who should be pitching in but aren't, buzz off.
And to my angels - all the people who've really stepped up to help in whatever way, in spite of some inconvenience - you have my love, my respect, and my eternal gratitiude.