Back In Business?

My Pretend Business CardsI think I’m discovering the kind of person I am. It’s Friday night and I’m making fake memes out of a picture of Anth’s first wife–the Ex. Not normal, not cool, kinda snarky of me. I’ve been working on updating Anthony’s website and ran into some huge hiccups that turned a would-be hour long project into four days of woe. And internet-speak is all I have to show for it. Internet speak directed to the newest development in the divorce wars (Over her smiling face: “Thinks 3 weeks…is half the summer”) of course I’d never post these little gems anywhere, they’re just Lincoln-letter memes for me, but she’ll probably be bugged I mentioned it (“Likes to online stalk kids’ step-mom”). Which brings me to my next bit…

The world is too small a place lately. All of the lovely is mashed up with all of the banal and I’m starting to get a little cross-eyed over it. Wanting to get out of my corner. Wanting to be something else. Mostly wishing for employment, but busying myself with Husband’s business. He had an Open Studio over the last weekend, and when it came time to make the new business cards, I made a few of my own.

Yes, this is a picture of my minicards.* Needless to say, it makes me feel better. To be honest with myself about finding work in Michigan, while being honest about myself, too. Just a little reminder that things are aren’t so bad. The real me does things, even while the internet-version has been a bit uninspired. The real me reads books and writes stories and hangs pictures. The real me can have a conversation, laugh, be nice to people… Sometimes the real me even does dishes.

So here’s to a minute of real. The reality now. Me back at myself.

The real you

*Shameless plug for Moo.com business cards, they were a great resource. Both for my jokes-y cards and for Hubby’s thick fancy art deck cards, so if you need nice (or pretend) cards and want a discount feel free to click here.

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Filed under Art, Humor

How One Day I Woke Up and Didn’t Play FreeTetris for Hours

It might not be today, but it’s going to be tomorrow.

See, tomorrow looks alot like Spring. Birds chirping, treebuds cracking, and even though yesterday was the official end of Anthony’s Spring break, I’ve caught the fever.

I’ve been a little lost lately. And by lately I mean, for the last three years or so–a fact that I coerced out of my husband during one of those “Why don’t you just tell me what’s wrong with me” conversations, an observation he began with, Ever since you met me it seems like…

And yes. This is true. Ever since I met him, I’ve quit school, quit my job, quit talking to my friends  ex-boyfriends people I had relations with, and gained 60 pounds. Unhealthy? Yes.

Thing is, I have an intimacy disorder. Thanks to Internet, I’m pretty sure I can self-diagnose the hell out of that idea, and I hate to think Mom and certain boyfriends could recognize my fear of intimacy long before I could. But only now–in the face of that triple-threat of love, marriage and its intricacies–can I admit I have a problem.

So if admitting I have a problem is step one, where oh where could step two be? Could it possibly be scanning the web all day? Computer my higher power as I look for more ways to inform my diagnosis? Or maybe I could just make funny shapes fit into lines while listening to NPR online.

Okay, so I have two problems. While absolutely failing in life moments, I’ve been rallying at Tetris. Like, level fifteen rally. And I’ve noticed when I’m feeling all thwarted and crazy inside, it happens in the game, too. But, when I feel like I might be able to sort things out, Tetris is my mirror.

http://www.salon.com/2012/09/01/touring_the_brain/

Credit to Salon.com, Free Tetris, and my Microsoft Paint skills…

So where is the Tetris of my brain? The arrow buttons I can push that will start shifting things into place and making baggage disappear? Can I a therapist teach me that? How to get satisfaction in myself like game therapy? Cause I’m pretty sure that there are some indicators that go all the way back to my addiction to Spider Solitaire in college that I wasn’t working effectively through my real-life situations. In fact, right before my total meltdown sophomore year, I had a dream I was shifting card-like objects of teachers, classwork, and problems into stacks to make them disappear.

I’m hungry for answers. Trying to get Anthony to tell me how to fix it. Calling my mom and sister more often. Opening up more to friends. And I’m making goals for myself–goals that extend beyond my line-count.

One of them should be writing more. Really writing. It’s a safe? way to manifest my Self, and then be paranoid that someone could read it. Whatever creative energy you can harness and explore, it can be your own intimate way to express a thing. Though I sometimes find easy ways to back out of it, zero-feedback it by sending it out to the Universe and detaching, my plans are to start signing my name to it and owning myself. Taking back what I lost a lifetime ago when someone flipped my switch from trust to fear.

This is my Springtime of the People, a time to learn that I’m a People too. No more oppression, from me. I can be strong and beautiful and vulnerable and maybe, in the near future, free.

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Filed under Marriage, Writing

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood…

Last night, two doors down, they carried our neighbor out on a gurney. Second time this month that cops, a firetruck and an ambulance show up in front of that house. Of course, the first time I didn’t want to pry, shrugged it off as other people’s business, but this time I was peeking through the window, even cracked it open a little bit so I could hear the firefighters laughing, the cop mumbling to himself, and a couple of paramedic ladies making light conversation with the patient sitting on the stretcher, a brunette I’ve never seen before.

What there is that doesn’t love a mystery. Intrigue just two doors down. Now I’m wondering about the time I saw a couple guys dump a mattress there. I’m wondering about the cramped dog kennel out back that houses at least three huge animals that sound other-worldly when the train goes by. Their horrible howls. And who feeds them?

I’m wondering about the street walker who, an hour after the ambulance had gone, passed our porch and asked my husband if he had any Vicodin. I’m thinking about the drug dealer that showed up at our house a couple months ago, saying oh, sorry… thought you were somebody else. But hey, you need anythin? while gesturing to the vein in his arm.

I’m thinking about Roscoe, the beautiful caramel-colored pit bull across the street who likes to tear through the neighborhood, king of all things, only to have his turn with the switch, twice when he gets home. People who stumble by with their brown paper bags. A broken bed frame on the other side of the tracks. Empty lots. Boarded up homes. The moment I realized I didn’t know the difference between firecrackers and gun shots.

I’m living on the corner of community. A little dystopia of a dying-but-not-yet-dead industry’s making. I can’t help but think of the last lines to T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men”:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

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Filed under Michigan, Uncategorized

Do you want to save changes you made to Document39?

CSA Alert Symbol

A startling realization from Word. Yes, apparently I have created 39 unnamed documents during my designated writing time. And the startling realization from me? No, I do not want to save anything from Document39.

This is my new practice: setting aside specific daily time commitments to writing. First, an hour or two of job hunt (the worst), then lunch, then an entire afternoon of reading and writing. Writing time, all to myself, to get back into the swing of things.

But things are not swinging. Things are garbled. Boring. I’m bored with myself. I’m thinking of all the stupid things that I’ve done in the past, how I have a way of projecting stupid into the future. And why can’t I seem to get outside of my own head? Write about trees or bakeries or make some interesting political noises?

Why do I write?

This morning my left arm seized up, right in the shoulder-area and for a minute I thought, here goes, I’m having a heart attack. The big one. It was maybe a full minute of clutching my shoulder and wondering who will find me before I realized (via a dramatic popping sound when I raised my left arm) that it was just my spine playing tricks on my trapezius and shoulder blade.

I’m reminded of this because sometimes I get writer’s cramp in my mid-thoracic spine. Some doctors have told me it’s actually because I’m lacking the natural curvature at the base of my neck, or because I have an extra vertebrae, or because my t9 or c4 or [insert random spine doctor talk for a bone in my back] is rotated slightly inward instead of outward… but rather than accept their diagnosis of me as a spinal circus freak I learn to manage my condition by writing–recognizing that my body has graciously decided to channel any uncomfortable, upsetting or unexplored thoughts/feelings into sharp back pains.

But writing is a pain.*

(*see comments)

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New Year’s Resolution: Write Nothing.

Crisis.

Anthony goes back to school on Monday.

This means no more sleeping in. No watching movies all night. No rolling into the studio together, whenever we want. Parties…

Worse. This means I’m going to need Blog again.

At first, Blog was a fresh and new idea–a way to cope with the stress of moving/job-hunting/Pontiac and a busy/absent husband. But then the holiday break came and I realized, Husband is the best way to cope with the stress. Husband and home and like it was before grad school. Like I was before.

Sure during the break I had moments, times I thought I should write a post, or, this will be my first sentence. But every time I sat down to write, I felt this strange Blog-speak tumbling through me and I realized my writing has become foreign to me. I’m writing in the language of Blog. More venting than writing, more sum-up than break-apart. I’ve forgotten how to make my words scatter and flow! Why am I already thinking of the end? Why is this language so lazy?!

It’s my fault. Too much internet. Too much TV. Too many tiny packets of nothing special to keep me going. I told Anthony I need to re-read my theory books, force myself to write more seriously. Craftily. He told me I need to go back to school.

(A chorus of English professors, drawing red lines through everything written above, telling me Aha… See this is where the essay really begins…)

And shit. They’re right.

End Blog post.

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Filed under Holiday, Writing

Shh… We’re Reading

Suddenly a mom and all the things that go with it. Piddle missing the toilet, muddy pants, orange juice on the floor…

Yesterday I had the mom cry–the one where you lock yourself in the bathroom after lunch, turn the shower on and stare in the mirror for ten minutes wondering what’s happening. The thing is, it’s not the boys’ fault–they’re fantastic. They follow rules, rarely fight, and they care a lot how we feel about them. And we respect their space, their personalities, their differences.

But they ask so many questions! They don’t like vegetables! They don’t like bread crusts! They want to eat cheese and candy all day! I feel myself disappearing… Who am I?

I told Tink and Wy that I will be a wicked stepmother every day at lunch. When we don’t eat our food, we don’t get to play. In fact, we stay at the table and watch the food get colder and grosser and everyone gets more tired of staring at it. No negotiations.

Eventually this method works. We talk about choosing to eat, or choosing to sit, and eventually they realize that it’s up to them to make the decision that will set them free. But how awful am I? How stubborn and horrible do I have to be to keep these precious little children captive? Wicked wicked.

And now I’m doing it again. I told them we are doing an hour of reading. A read-a-thon while I write. C absolutely hates it. They’re missing school to be with us right now, so I’ve been taking on their tutoring. Fractions and division for C, speed reading drills and paper arts with Wy, and Tink “reads” me stories based on the pictures. But getting C to read is the key. After finishing a chapter book my mom brought on her visit, he informed me, “My teacher said I only had to read one book on the break, so I’m done!”

I told him I had different plans. Wicked wicked plans. And now we’re reading more.

 

And writing! C finished reading for an hour and asked if he could write now. Pretty sure a panda named Fredrick is about to have an adventure…

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How to tell them this can be their world? Words and what they mean, what they can do. Volcanoes and sharks and pandas and being. A way to get away. Make something their own. I’m trying to force it on them. Maybe too hard. Maybe it’s not do this for an hour! Not sit there!

Maybe it’s just making myself work in new ways. Making me. Maybe it’s Hey guys, time for your wicked stepmother to do her writing.

A pause and the magical chorus of three little men, me too!

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Filed under Family, Writing

And Were We Ready for Our House Guests?

1212122233Anthony’s boys are finally in Michigan. Finally finally finally. I was so nervous about seeing them I was almost sick–would they like the house? Sleep through the train horn? Like their bunk beds?

Yes on two out of three of those. They like the house. They can sleep through the train.

We haven’t finished building their bunk beds. Yup, building. In my brilliant wife-mind I thought, since we have such limited space, we should build a triple bunk bed. Anth was skeptical, but I assured him, if he can build stretcher bars for canvasses, he could build this bed with me. After all, I’ve built a bookshelf before. And my grandpa was a carpenter. And this is the cheapest way…

So I printed off a bunch of DIY bunk bed patterns online. I altered them to fit our narrow kid’s IKEA mattresses, and made a mock-up out of paper.

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The text to Anthony read: If it stands in paper, it’ll stand in real life… right?

He promptly took my plans to the wood shop guy on campus, the one who builds things for real. And he promptly told us that we would need crossbars and maybe a bolt to the wall. Unsightly crossbars and a bolt didn’t fit into my plans. I wanted to put bookshelves between the spaces, I wanted the beds to be interchangeable, mobile, and I wanted all manner of impossible storage fun… We decided to go forward with our original plans and then see what we were dealing with.

Our wood shop friend is right. After Anthony made all the right cuts in our 2x4s and we drilled the holes and placed lag bolts and wood screws–we’re both a little nervous about that top bunk. Also we discovered the bedroom floor is crazy crooked. Like the left corner of the room is a sinkhole. Not optimal when you’re trying to level three beds.

So when the boys arrived with my mom, we had the middle bunk set up like a fort and all three mattresses on the floor. To make it fun, we put all their stuffed animals out and I made a sign that said Welcome Home! and WHO FORTED?

It was a hit. They are at those perfect ages (4,7,9) where the process is still part of the fun. Our failure to complete the project so far doesn’t register as failure with them. The youngest (Tink) thinks his dad is made of magic and power. The oldest (C.) is using the middle bunk right now as a play table. Plus they get to see their dad moving about this world, constructing things and changing space.

It’s strange how easily they transition into an entirely new state. A new house. Different rules. Sometimes I take it for granted. Sometimes it seems like more of a difficult transition for me–going from master of my day to Master of Squabbles, Master of Do-Your-Homework and Eat-Your-Vegetables, Master of Where-Did-All-This-Water-Come-From?

But we get to make the rules. Anth and I don’t know what it’s like to be split between two houses. Both sets of parents are still together, we’ve never had to divide our holidays with them, never had to leave our friends in one neighborhood to stay in another. Never had different toys for different houses, different clothes, different beds.

I want them to have a sense of stability. A sense of control. They help us make a meal plan and activity chart. We post our house rules and behavior expectations, things that we have talked about and agreed upon as a family. The expectations are there, but also the respect.

But still, this Christmas is going to be different than any other. Normally, they are with their mom on Christmas Day. For the past two years we’ve celebrated early with them, a tradition we invented to try to quell a holiday tug-of-war. If you built a tree at Dad’s house (out of fabric, chickenwire, paper mache, or boxes…) your presents would be delivered early by Christmas Bird, who steals the presents from Santa. The legend has grown teeth and it’s gone fantastically well.

This year, though, they are with us for the big day. Santa and Baby Jesus and a real Christmas tree. I’m starting to feel the weight of it. The big ole’ sleigh-bell weight. No family dinners, no trip to Grandma’s house, no one to make the holiday for them… it’s on us.

And I think when the time comes, it won’t matter how unsightly the crossbars or wall supports will be. The way that we stand will be the most important thing. Strong for them.

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Filed under Family, Holiday, Michigan