June 2010


I can’t swim.  I mean, I can make it from Point a to Point B, but if you bring me to the deep end I will freak out.  I only tread water a foot from the edge, and only for a short time.  Despite that, I love being in the water.

Sometimes when I’m at the side of the pool, I lower myself down while I hold down on the side to keep myself below.  (It feels of a more deliberate escape than letting out my breath to sit at the bottom.)  When I do that, I feel like forgetting everything.  Everything about the world is muted.  I’m not really there. 

I come back up and the noise is welcome, the sun bright and beautiful.  My son no doubt would be calling to me to watch him do a dive. 

Tonight, I’m submerged.  I feel like everything fell apart today.  Tomorrow, I’ll be back, and I hope the sun shines  on me again.  Desperately.

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Tonight my son and I got stuck in traffic on our way home from my mother’s house.  He laid down on a pillow in the back seat, pulled a blanket over himself, and promptly fell asleep.

I remember when he was little and he used to fall asleep in his car seat.  Now, he’s nearly four and a half feet tall and 70 pounds.  I can’t believe how much time has passed and how he’s grown.

When I pulled into the driveway, I unbuckled his seat belt, propped open my apartment door, and carried him to bed.  I can barely do it anymore and someday I won’t be able to at all.  It’s strange knowing this may be one of a few last experiences – if not the last – of this.  I tucked him in and he’s been asleep ever since.

I love being a mom.

This morning, after four years of pretending it didn’t exist even though I knew exactly where it was, I pulled out my video camera.  I have no idea what possessed me.  I found the cable to plug it into the television, called my son into the room, and pressed play on the tape in the camera.

Before me was the best gift I ever gave myself: a medley of scenes from our life in 2006.  He was four years  old.  It was our first apartment together.  I recorded him singing along to Sarah Brightman’s Captain Nemo into a microphone that attached to his Little Tykes CD player.  Dancing with me in the kitchen.  Building with Tinker Toys and explaining his creations to me.   In the bathtub, telling me how his boats hunt fish to eat, and spend nights at the bottom of the ocean.  Racing cars with my father while the cat eagerly watched them circle the track.  Making up songs about dinosaurs and monsters while my brother accompanied him on his little keyboard.  Swordfighting with his friend as they wore boxes as armor, which made me laugh until I cried, because when they tried to reach down to pick something up, they couldn’t move.  “Reading” David Shannon books out loud by himself in his room.  Doing “karate” on a helium balloon.  Wrestling with my little sister, who mere months later would be pregnant with her own son and no longer living with us.   Every time the tape went blank, I held my breath hoping for another recording.  There must have been a dozen.  It was beautiful.

I interviewed my son in nearly every scene.  I asked him all sorts of questions.  When he was explaining things to me from his imagination, I was always asking follow-up questions, sometimes with hilarious results.  “They eat fish?  What else do they eat?”  “Men.”

I laughed a lot.  I recorded myself without makeup.  I recorded myself dancing.  I sang.  I was silly.

It made me feel so good to see how we were back then.  That December, his first cousin would be born.  In a year, I’d stop allowing his mother’s visitation because of her drug use.  Six months after that, I’d file for adoption.  Looking back, I’m so glad to see how happy he was, how happy I was, and how good we were together.

On another tape in the stack I found the Easter egg hunt from that year.  My second sister, his biological mother, was in it.  She looks skinny and clutches her cigarettes in her bony hand.  I can still remember what she smelled like; heroin is a toxic stench that never leaves your olfactory memory.  It was wretched.

As my son is looking for (obvious) eggs, she keeps pointing him to them, and you can hear my voice from behind the camera saying, “He’ll find them.  Just let him find them.”  Halfway through, a stray dog comes into the picture.  She says she has no idea whose dog it is.  You can hear me telling my son to stay away from it, and telling her to get rid of it.  She keeps petting it and telling him, “It’s okay,” and as he goes to pet it, you hear me saying, “Don’t pet the dog.  I mean it.  ONE…” and then the camera shuts off. 

I’ve forgotten a lot about that time of our lives, but I remember how it felt to be acting like his mom while she acted like an idiot.  I’m lucky that I’ve been able to put as much of it out of my mind as I have; it was a very difficult time with her.  It was nice to see my dad, though.  For all his faults, I miss him.  Or maybe I miss the man in the video.  Maybe he doesn’t exist anymore.

Some things haven’t changed.  My son still laughs the same way.  Still gives me the same looks.  Still rambles on about his ideas.  He still uses words that are beyond his years.  He still gets very silly.  He still gets impatient and pouty, and it’s still really cute (even when it’s not).  But his voice is different.  His articulation matured shortly after the video was taken.  He’s more grown-up now.  He doesn’t play like that anymore.  He plays video games and watches iCarly.  He’s in size 8 boys’ clothes.   He rolls his eyes at me and says, “Moooooom.”

I think I’m less fun than I was then.  Maybe I just got too tired and stressed out during the adoption.  Or maybe it’s just more natural to be sillier with a four-year-old than an eight-year-old.    I’d like to be that woman again, only with the wisdom I have now.   I think I can.  After we watched the video, we had a wonderful day together.  A light-hearted day.  A fun, ridiculous, teasing and tickling kind of day.  I haven’t had one of those in a long time.   I have a feeling there will be a lot more of those in the days to come.

Is blogging replacing Facebook as my internet addiction?  I don’t know.  But at least I’m writing more than one sentence in a row, and not referring to myself in the third person.

(It is, in fact, interesting what has changed for me and what hasn’t.  Let’s assume that’s a teaser for a future blog.)

I went to the liquor store tonight.  I really wanted wine, and I really wanted to just get it over with and go back to normal.  Funny enough, as stressed out as I was by the prospect of seeing S—-, today I felt prettier and more confident than I had in ages, and the radio kept playing really great songs that had me singing and smiling the whole way there. 

I saw him out of the corner of my eye when I entered, but went right over to where they have my wine (the only organic merlot they have, so there’s no actual browsing involved), mentally prepared to do some major ignoring.  Of course, the owner of the place is taking inventory a few feet away and yells out, “Heeeey!  How aaaaare you?” which just totally put a smile on my face.  She’s this sweet little woman with big red curly hair, and I think she’s very cool.  “I’m great!” I replied, smiling.  “Reeeeally great!”  (The emphasis couldn’t hurt for anyone overhearing me, right?)

Just as I was about to have to hand him my bottle to ring up, a guy comes out from the back and asks if he can help me at the other register.  Joy!  I glanced around so I didn’t look as though I was totally staring at my shoes, and S—- caught my eye and said hi.  I said hi.  He asked how I was.  I said great.  He said he’d been busy lately.  Oh, so busy.  Did he mention he’d been busy?

When I got to my car, I deleted his number off of my cell phone. 

I think what bothers me most isn’t that he didn’t like me (I’m not everyone’s cup of tea) or even that he ignored me to get his message across (not everyone’s as direct as I am).  I guess it’s that I so very rarely like a man – I mean, after the first five minutes of talking with him.  I can crush with the best of them but when it comes down to actually thinking I might be compatible with someone – well, it’s rare.  So it’s just disappointing. 

Onward and upward.  And off to sleep, where my dreams will hopefully be filled with Nathan Fillian.  Naked.

This morning, you could have drawn the sky with a single, fat, grey crayon.

Right now, it’s this perfect light blue with perfect fluffy clouds.  You would smudge their edges with your finger on the paper.

I am pondering my shoulds right now.

I should be freaking out about missing my work deadline right now (but I know it’s not the end of the world).

I shouldn’t be wearing this shirt; it’s not flattering (but it’s comfortable).

I shouldn’t avoid going to the same package store for my wine just because S—- works there (but I’m afraid it will be a reminder of my rejection).  And I shouldn’t be running over scenarios in my head about how I will totally get someone else to ring up my purchase and ignore him (because that’s immature).

I shouldn’t change apartments; it’s such a pain in the ass and costs so much up front (but I really want to).

I should be writing; dieting; learning; working harder (blah blah blah).

I honestly can’t muster the energy to be upset over anything today.  It’s too beautiful.  I’m too relaxed.  And life, in all its messiness, it pretty shiny right now.

Last night, I dreamed that the boy I’d had a crush on in high school left his wife for me.  It was odd, seeing as how I hadn’t thought of him in years.  We’d talked on the phone all the time when we were teenagers.  That was back when phones were corded (or at least mine was) and I remember laying on the floor under the dining room table, whispering to him as I tangled my fingers around the cord and stared at the manufacturers markings on the wood above me.  I adored him.  It occurred to me this morning that he wouldn’t have spent all that time on the phone with me if he hadn’t liked me too.  But neither of us made a move, and he ended up marrying his next girlfriend.

It made me kind of sad waking from that dream.

Obviously, I have boy issues.

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Today is my first official day in my new job.  In actuality, I’ve been doing this job for quite some time now; they just finally got around to promoting me.  At first, I was very excited about it.  I’ve been an admin all my life, and this was my chance to change jobs and escape it at last.  I started doing projects and tasks that had me learning new things, gaining skills.  My boss was extremely encouraging.  I could see a lot of ways I could add value to my department as an analyst.

Unfortunately, the process took nearly a year, so instead of being excited I’m feeling more taken for granted.  I also changed bosses to someone I don’t click with as well as I did with my last boss.  I did get a raise, and I realized that I make enough money now.  Enough for what?  I don’t know.  To not care if I make more.  To get the focus off of my day job and back on my life and my passions.  To pay my bills.  To maybe get a new apartment.   It’s relieving, in a way.  I feel as though I’ve made it to a finish line of sorts.  I know a lot of people who make a lot more money than I do, but I also know folks who make less.  I’m good with where I am.

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I did quit Facebook last week, but not as any kind of statement.  There were just a few things that had started to disturb me about it.  Here are my reasons why I left:

1. It takes the fun out of running into people.  What’s new?  Well, since when?  Did you see my status update?  Aren’t you engaged?  Or was that Jen R not Jen P?  Loved your pictures from Tahiti.  Well, ciao! 

Also, there are just people who you don’t need to catch up with.  I don’t care what that frumpy girl in high school who raised rabbits is up to now.  I just don’t. 

2. There’s a limit to how much you need to know about people.  Some people post entertaining or informative updates, but some just post what they had for lunch (or drama!).  I can’t take the glorification of the mundane that’s going on in the world.  Even when I turn on the news, most of what is being reported isn’t actually news.  It’s the news’ version of what they had for lunch.  I can’t take it.

3. My close friends aren’t on it anyway.  Or at least, aren’t on it much.  I like the idea that if something happens in their lives, they’ll call me.  Or at least e-mail me.  Directly.  Facebook confuses me; it makes me feel like knowing the minutae of people’s lives makes me closer to them, when really it only makes me more informed.  At this time in my life, what I need is real human connection, and I’m not going to have time for it if I spend my evenings scrolling through pages of status updates.

It’s affected me already – the unplugging.  I swear my thoughts have elongated into prose.  I find myself looking for more meaningful things to do, and engaging in them more completely.  I miss the distraction and some of the people – I really do.  But I am liking the moment.