Oh, hello Internet.  Did you miss me? 

It feels a little strange that I haven’t been blogging or posting on Facebook much the last two months.  It’s honestly flown by.  My life’s gotten a bit crazy with work – my company was sold and for a while I wasn’t sure I’d even have a job.  Now, although I’ve discovered I still have one, it’s become apparent to me that I need to find one closer to home.  I’ve had to drive back and forth to our main office 90 minutes away about twice a week for a while, and they want me there more starting next month.  I interviewed at one place, but they couldn’t pay me enough so I passed.  One good side effect of it, though, was that it got me looking at my finances to how much exactly I could live on.  Another challenge lately has been that J has been acting out a bit – getting in trouble at school and getting upset at home.  He’s had a lot of deep things on his mind.  It’s taken a lot of energy to help him and to find other outlets that can help.  That’s looking up now, though.

On some positive notes… I’ve been busy with shopping for secular Christmas.  It’s very important to me to find gifts that aren’t just given for the hell of it.  Some of them I’m *gasp* even making.   I’m feeling really good about Xmas this year.  My family had a great Thanksgiving – the most drama free I can ever remember.   It feels foreign, but I’m happy to get used to it.  I also read a couple of really good books, got an IUD (that was an experience…ow), finished SG-1, and kept busy with the usual “single mom keeping a little family running” stuff.

I’ve also been spending time with my beau, who is also a J, so I will have to name him B for his surname.  Anyway, things with B have been fantastic.

Did you see how I stopped there?  That’s because B is actually a pretty private person.  Which is another reason I haven’t been posting much online.  It’s hard to gush about your boyfriend when you know he may not want his whole life up for the world to see.  It’s been a bit of an adjustment for me, but one that’s worth it, of course.  Besides, there’s probably only so many times my Facebook friends want to see me posting about the awesome dates or enthralling conversations or great sex we’ve had.

Okay, I know I cheated there. 

So part of it’s mooning, part of it’s challenge, part of it’s just that I’ve been living in the moment.  It’s been good, though.  Really good.  And I have a feeling (or maybe just a hope) that it’s just going to get better.  But I promise to post more so you know for sure.

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Yesterday morning I was joking around with my son J.  We were both smiling and laughing and I said, “You have the most gorgeous brown eyes.  At least your mom and dad gave you really good looks!”  He immediately stopped and snapped, “I don’t have a dad!”  His eyes filled with tears and he turned away from me.  It took a lot of cuddling and apologizing to get him back.

I’m dating a man right now who I think is really incredible, and although I know it’s early, I can’t help feeling really hopeful about being with him.  We clicked right away and we’ve been pretty open about our excitement.  I’m trying to be zen about it, but I do love hearing from him and spending time with him (and kissing his stubbly cheek and holding his hand).  I wonder if I’m messing things up by not playing hard to get, but I’ve never been good at that; my feelings are just what they are.  If I’ve ever seemed hard to get it’s because I wasn’t interested. 

It’s almost harder to be hopeful about being with someone – wait, I take that back – it is zillions of times easier to walk away. I’ve let down so many men that I stopped having any bad feelings about it years ago.  And I have walked away from one or two things that could be serious because of doubts.  So it’s much harder to be hopeful about being with someone, as wonderful as it is.  Especially now that I’ve been reminded that, ultimately, that hope includes J and his feelings as well. 

It’s like being on a New England mountain on a gorgeous fall day like today –  with the sun shining and warming me, feeling beautiful and loved and peaceful – and then looking down and realizing that I’m on a tightrope and all 80 pounds of J is strapped to my back.   If I even think about it for a second I’ll be scared out of my mind.  The trick is not to look down.  It’s too beautiful and my hopes too warm and bright.  So for a while I’m just going to keep looking up, and stand still, and breathe – and enjoy it.

I used my birthday gift card from Kohl’s to buy myself two new shirts and a new pair of jeans this weekend.   The shirts are cranberry and pumpkin colored and cotton, and I love them.  I wish I didn’t have to wash them so I could wear them all the time.  My mom bought me a pretty necklace for my birthday as well.  It’s nice to have new things.  I’ve been really good about my money lately, which has meant no treats. 

Every Monday for the last month I’ve gone down to our Hartford office and worked on a fairly large project that involves actual physical paper and which will make me feel totally accomplished when I’m done. 

J and I are at Starbucks right now (no, I’m not splurging; a gift card was another of my gifts).  As soon as he got home from school I whisked us away.  I love that he rides up on his bike right after school two days a week; it’s a far cry from when he was little and I’d drop him at daycare at 7:30 and have to get him at 5:30.  Anyway, he’s got a chocolate frappucino, which he’s sucking down like his life depends on it.  He’s doing his homework while I work.  There’s cool music playing in the background.  I feel like we don’t spend enough time together sometimes, and while this isn’t exactly quality time, it’s better than being in separate rooms at home.

Speaking of Starbucks, it’s not the Starbucks where the manager asked me out.  He never called.  That’s fine with me.  I’m not sure I wanted to date someone 15 years older than me anyway, and I definitely don’t want to date someone who didn’t call me to make plans within a week…that just means he can take me or leave me, and I think someone should have at least a little excitement about me, no?  I know I’m picky, but at least I’m not unhappy settling.

I’m finishing Season 8 of Stargate: SG-1, which means I’ve got about 30 hours left of the series.  I’ve been watching too much of it, and although I’ll be excited to finish it, I think I need to slow down for the time being…read some books…watch a movie that doesn’t involve inter-stellar travel.  I’m really not normally a scifi girl.  I think I need an action movie mental palate-cleanser or something. 

My next two weeks will be filled with Halloween preparations and Cub Scout wreath-selling, which will be an odd justaposition.  I can’t wait for the holidays to start.  I want to bake desserts and feed them to the people I love.  Is that weird?

 

I left the club early.  It had been a surreal, sober night.  I didn’t feel like having any conversations, and my attempts may not have been as smooth as I’d hoped.  Although I’d spent days making my own mask and fan for this evening masquerade, my heart wasn’t in it even before I’d arrived.  I was exhausted from too many late nights at home, laying in bed thinking or watching tv…just not wanting to sleep.  I can’t believe I was awake enough to go; I knew I’d need to leave early enough to be awake enough to drive home.

On my way out I passed a girl sitting on the stoop of the apartment building next to the club.  I’d seen her earlier hanging onto a parking meter, swaying drunkenly and looking abandoned.  She hadn’t been bothering anyone then; now she was just quietly crying.  She was pretty young, and I find myself using youth as an excuse for a lot of people’s behavior lately.  I sat down next to her and talked to her, went back inside and bought her a bottle of water.  I instructed her to drink the whole thing and keep an eye out for her friends before I left.  It made me feel like such a mom, even in my silly wig and corset.  I suddenly wished J wasn’t sleeping over his friend’s house and that I’d be going home to him in the apartment. 

I got home at 2:00, stripped off all my finery and got into the shower.  I took off my makeup with Vaseline, took out my braids and even managed to take out my contact lenses in there.  I threw on a cotton t-shirt that said “When Mom is happy, everyone’s happy” made myself a snack, and crawled under my down comforter.  It felt so good to feel so much myself again that I don’t think I’ll be going out dancing again anytime soon.  Maybe I’ve lost my enthusiasm for the pretty lights and music.  Or maybe I felt like I wasn’t myself there: that people’s words and looks were as flimsy as my paper fan, and that only stripped down in my plain and chubby form could I actually trust who I was and what others were seeing in me. 

I was tired the whole rest of the weekend and ended up with a terrible headache today.  I took a nap and woke up feeling much better this evening.  I wish I had another day to clean and decorate my house more, to go through my fall clothes and hang up my favorites, to go to bed with shaved legs in new clean sheets (which always reminds me of being a teenager).  But I’ll just do those things tomorrow.

(I wish I had a better ending.)

Back when I was dating Eric for like, 5 minutes, I got caught up in the moment (the whole thing was caught up in the moment honestly) and told him about a gift I’d always wanted but hadn’t told anyone about.  Both our birthdays are in October and somehow one topic led to another and I spilled.  Somehow that makes me feel like my birthday has something of a broken promise about it, maybe moreso about the idea of being in a relationship again than the gift, but it’s there nonetheless.

On the rare occasion when I get caught up feeling lonely I really kick myself hard about it.  I am always counting my blessings, I really am.  I even do it with Bing Crosby’s voice singing away in my head.  I do it while I’m washing dishes or making Sunday dinner or reading on the pappasan.  I do it when my wrists hurt and when I drink tea from my favorite teacup and when I see J riding his bike around the neighborhood out the window.  I do it no matter what the scale says and no matter what my bank account balance is.  You have no idea how privileged I feel to be here.  Sometimes I feel like an alien, marveling at my own emotions, tickled to no end just to be alive – nevermind under such grand circumstances. 

My mom is throwing me a little birthday party at her house this weekend, and although I complain I don’t need the attention the truth is I’m really glad she does it.  It makes me feel loved.  It’s weird – this is my first birthday in four years where my dad and my sister H are in my life.  He’ll probably get me a present, and I’ll let him.  She probably won’t, but if she does, although she owes me thousands in back child support, I won’t criticize her.  (She’s taking nursing classes – I’m more than a little astonished at this turn of events.)  My older brother will probably send me a text message from California.  And my baby brother and sister, who everyone knows are dearest to me, will be at my mom’s party too, along with both my nephews. 

How in the world did I get here, I wonder. 

I’m not sure I mentioned it but I organized a weekly coffee with some amazing single moms I know.  We’re all home-based, we all live in the same town, and all our kids are friends.  It’s been so nice to get out of the house and to talk to them.  They’re really kickass women with a great deal of drive and moxy.  They’ve been through a lot, just like I have – though in a different way, and being with them is reassuring and well, fun.  They make me feel better about being where I am, literally in town and also as a mother.  When I’m with them I never think about what I don’t have; I feel like a writer and a singer and a career woman and a great mom and basically a smart person.   I really, really love that.

I haven’t thought about it for a while, but I’m suddenly reminded of J’s name.  When I adopted him I had the chance to change his name around, which I took advantage of because everyone called him by his middle name, so I moved that forward, and I got rid of his bio dad’s surname and gave him mine.  I also wanted to add in my own middle name as part of it, so I added “Sean”.  It means “gift from god” and though I’m not theistic I did like that idea that he was a gift. 

And now, thinking of that makes that stupid little present I asked for seem like nothing at all.

Life has finally settled into something of a routine here in my little world. 

J is back at school and so far it’s going well.  I usually don’t get calls from teachers in the first month anyway, but I’ve seen him maturing lately so I’m hoping 5th grade is getting off to a good start.  So far he’s only had one unfinished assignment sent home.  He’s doing his homework better; this year he has a larger desk at home and I’ve figured out little things, like letting him rest his feet on a basketball will make him less fidgety and letting him type his assigments helps him to write.  He’s enjoying switching classes at school and the responsibility they’re giving him with time management and challenging work (oh, heaven, finally – challenging work).  I started letting him ride his bike to school, which gives me palpitations a little but I know it’ll be okay. 

He’s still doing cub scouts and I’ve enrolled him in flute lessons outside of school, with the aim for him to be able to rejoin band next year in middle school.  It’s expensive but I’m balancing it all.  He decided a few weeks ago that he wants to be a Buddhist and vegetarian.  I think Buddhism is right up his alley even if he doesn’t realize it completely yet.  He’s doing well with his new diet, although he does confess to missing steak. 

Mostly, I’ve just been looking at him lately and wanting to burst with pride over how he’s growing up, and cry over how he’s growing up at the same time.  It’s hard to explain. 

For my part, things are good.  Much better than my pissed rant (which honestly only lasted about as long as it took to write).  Work is getting better.  I figured out if I go down to our main office at the beginning of each week, I can set myself up with work for the week that offers some variety and urgency to my queue.  Plus it’s energizing to see everyone.  I’m working at coffee shops a few mornings a week.  There really is too much benefit to working from home for me to complain about it.  I realized I suffer generally from a lack of self-motivation in many areas in my life and I’m just going to have to put on my big girl undies and figure it out.  It’ll be good for me.

I’m making some friends in town – building a support network, as it were, but also just enjoying the company of other women like me.  I’ve been out a bit in the city, too, although I always assume that people there aren’t friends but acquaintances.  I can’t imagine someone calling me up and wanting to come out to the ‘burbs for a drink and to watch House or something.  I wish they would, though.  They’re very interesting people.  I don’t mind the juxtaposition with the two lives anymore…just two sides of the same shiny coin.

I’m still feeling the aftereffects of my personal epiphany this summer.  I’ve honestly been enjoying life more, just being in the moment and not thinking at all about how I fit in to situations or people’s lives or about how I’m perceived.   It’s been a little odd to lose that voice in my head after all these years.  It makes me a little sad that I wasn’t like this sooner.  Life is what it is, though, and I’m just glad I did change. 

My birthday is in a few weeks.  I’m not sure how I feel about being 34.  Seems old.  At least for me.  But I’m doing pretty well, I think, and besides, I always did love life and cake.

The mention of reality television can have a variety of effects on me: it can make me turn off to a conversation, bring to mind the Ayn Rand quote about the “glorification of mediocrity” (she may be flawed but I always loved that turn of phrase), tempt me to make an argument for its ill effects on society, or make me sad for the loss of great writing in modern television (with few exceptions).

I am of the generation that started tuning into it originally, with MTV’s The Real World debuting during my high school years.  I remember watching it then and thinking it was okay, but I didn’t watch subsequent seasons, and by the time the genre began to dominate television, I didn’t even have a television. 

My mom, on the other hand, loves reality TV.  She used to tape (yes, tape) episodes of Beauty and the Geek and give them to me unsolicited.  I started watching some network shows like Dancing with the Stars after that, and tried out a few other shows to determine the appeal (I didn’t find much) and generally because I love pop culture.

Which brings me to my subsequent embarrassment over how much I love watching Bachelor Pad.  It started with The Bachelor/Bachelorette, which I could only stomach for a couple of seasons (okay, okay, so that’s more than stomaching).  But I could eat buckets of popcorn enthralled by the stupidity that is Bachelor Pad.  I don’t know why.

The people on this show make me want to yell at the TV.  I want to gossip about them like they’re neighbors whose antics I’m privy to sans binoculars (yes, I call my mom to talk about them).  I google “Bachelor Pad recaps” to find other like-minded people who are enthralled as much as I am.  I know it’s all edited, I know it’s all made-for-tv, scripted so Jake doesn’t get booted too early (ratings rule!), but I love the trainwreck.

Last night, one of the players – Vienna – was talking about how she needed the $250,000 prize at the end of the show because her mother was 4 months behind on her rent and was going to lose her house – as if this was some kind of reason to keep her in the game because her cause was so noble.  She was comparing herself to another player, Ella, who was intending to open a shelter for battered women (her mom was shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend in front of her when she was 3) and use the money to give her 9-year-old son “the life he deserves”.  Vienna wanted to vote Ella off because her story was just too empathetic and part of the granting of the prize has to do with people’s intention for the money.

I think Ella’s story is amazing, but it also bothers me.  She’s a single mom, and she keeps saying repeatedly that she’s doing this for her son.  Part of me wants to say, “If you really love your son, you wouldn’t be going on The Bachelor and Bachelor Pad and being away from him months at a time to win money.”  Maybe I’m bitter because there are a lot of us single moms out there, and all of our kids should have “the life they deserve.”  My son’s been through some shit, and I work hard to ensure he’s got a good life – but to me that means mentally, physically and especially emotionally.  What kind of life does he deserve?  How much money would I need to buy it?  I’d like a house too, but it’s probably not in the cards.  How many single parents out there would benefit from having $250K for their kids?  I know for a fact I’m better off than most, and yet I’m still not where I’d be if money were no object.

Maybe it bothers me because she’s asking for sympathy – maybe because it’s her “vote for poor l’il me” cry.  I’m sure she’s a great person and obviously she’s been through a lot.  I guess it strikes a chord because I’ve never asked for charity – hell, I can’t even get the overdue child support from J’s bio parents for my guardianship years.  People tell me all the time to use my situation to ask for cheaper rates on things (karate classes, music lessons, etc).  Maybe I’d be better off if I did, but my pride is too great. 

I think it also bothers me because I’m jealous.  Two of the women on the show are single moms and they obviously have family to take care of their kids while they go away, frolic in the sun, make out with hot guys and become quasi-famous.  I couldn’t be away from J that long, but sometimes I’d just like to have someone around who I don’t have to pay so I can go see a movie.  By myself, even.  Another mom who I can exchange kid-watching with.  I’d like to go out on awesome dates with hot guys without worrying about my curfew or my reputation like they do (because it’s all in the name of winning money for a noble cause!).

I’d like one of the single moms to win – because of solidarity, I guess.  It isn’t easy.  And I hope they find love too – despite the fact that it’s reality TV and that’s a ridiculous expectation.  Maybe having one kid have a great life in exchange for junk-food-entertainment is worth it.  When it comes down to it, what would I do?  I’d probably do anything for him, too.