Wednesday, June 20, 2007

just what we needed

So we went to the beach this weekend. Oh, the beach!

The sound of the pounding surf, the sand beneath your toes, the knowledge that you have nothing more pressing than reading your novel and napping for at least the next two days...what could be better?

How about the knowledge that you have a built-in babysitter for not just the Kid but the Old Lady? Priceless. Thank you, wonderful in-laws.

It's difficult for me to accept the help of my wonderful in-laws sometimes. I don't talk about them very much, and really, who does talk about their in-laws, unless they are crazy, or mean, or horrible in some way? But I should talk about them more, because my in-laws are terrific. They are relaxed and fluid about where we spend holidays (usually here, especially for kid holidays like Xmas, or in GSO, for family holidays that include my mom, like everything but Fathers' Day), they hardly ever complain about my crazy family (er, crazy mom), and they are always offering to help us with something. I am now realizing this is 'normal' family behavior. Maybe I don't talk about them so much because I am just now beginning to take them for granted. It sounds horrible, but it's a godsend to me. I have friends that take their normal and wonderful parents for granted all the time- I have never been able to do that with my...irregular...parents. The fact that I can take my wonderful in-laws for granted is unbelievably precious to me. Also, they insisted on ferrying around the Kid and the Old Lady in their car the whole time we were at the beach, and you know what that means? NO backseat fighting! Yay! ( I swear, sometimes, it's like having two children...)

So they insisted that we go out on Saturday night...well...twist our arms. We decided to go to the Jolly Roger, since it was within reasonable walking distance from our hotel, just in case things got exciting. We just thought we'd get a couple of drinks and drive home to the hotel, but as soon as we arrived- lo and behold, who should we see? Adam Lane and his lovely wife Megan!

The night was lubricated by beer and karaoke. And before you ask, yeah, I did karaoke, and I think I didn't massacre "Power of Two," but only because I have been singing along with the Indigo Girls for many years. Of course, my only feedback was from my husband, an old friend, and his wife, and they weren't exactly impartial, you know? Anyway, it was much more enjoyable to watch Adam Lane rock the house on such hits as "Hurts So Good" And "Wanted Dead or Alive" (Adam is the lead singer and songwriter for a rock/alt-country/whatever band, and he owns the stage.) Also very enjoyable was dancing with the aforementioned Adam, who dances as smoothly as he rocks hard.

The highlight of my night was seeing Jason tear up "Born to Be Wild." If you know Jason, you can imagine- his waist-length hair bouncing around, his theatre-trained voice booming, his handsome yet scary-biker face scrunched up... If you don't know him, just trust me- it was awesome. We ended up having so much fun we left the car and were committed to walking back- until Adam and Megan offered to share their cab. Thanks, y'all!

The next two days are a blur of steamed fish and beachiness. Go to the beach, eat fish, drink beer, rinse, lather, repeat. I was so blissed out on beach, fish, and beer that I thought I would die of happiness. I was so relaxed that even going back to work today and dealing with umpteen thousand phone calls from agents and case managers and assistants didn't interrupt my bliss. And that is saying a lot.

We also managed to make it out on Monday night for a lovely walk on the beach at sunset, which was punctuated by such romantic utterings as, "You're not THAT hard to live with, baby," and "If we're here next year this time, I might be packing more in my tummy than two fish tacos and a scoop of ice cream!"

It's not Shakespeare, people, but that is real life.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

parental manipulation at its finest

The Little Dude has been in quite a state this week. Tantrums, acting out, refusing to eat lunch or take a nap, biting, hitting... You name it, and if it's verboten, he's probably done it this week. Not that this type of behavior is totally surprising in a four year old, but he is usually relatively laid back, so whenever he goes through a phase like this, it takes us aback. Luckily, they tend to come about every 4-5 months and only last 1-2 weeks, coinciding with big milestones like talking, potty training or going to a new school. He is learning to recognize letters and numbers now, and 'reads' new ones every day, so I think that's what's behind the latest round of fits. Too many neurons firing all at the same's enough to make a little boy crazy.

Anyway, today he gets up for the umpteenth time during what is supposed to be his 'nap'. He goes to the bathroom right before he takes his nap, but still will often get up right after he goes down to 'poopy.' It's like he holds it in until after he lies down just so he has an excuse to get up. Anyway, on this day, he gets up after he's been put to bed, and barges into my office without knocking. 2 strikes, buddy. Just when I open my mouth to be stern with him and tell him to get back to bed posthaste, Mister, he looks up at me with the sweetest smile.

"I forgot to do something I wanted to do before I went for my nap, Mommy..."

"Oh, yeah, what?" I ask, fully expecting him to have to go poopy or get a stuffed animal buddy or something.


And with that, he reached up, planted the sweetest kiss right on my kisser, and then flitted back off to bed. After I scraped up the puddly goo that used to be my heart before it instantly melted, I thought to myself, "Damned kid, he knows just how to push my buttons."

They learn young, they do.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

By 'recreational', I mean tennis and horseshoes, of course...

I am in the process of archiving all my old photos (you know, those things we had developed from film at the drugstore before there were digital cameras?) It is a painfully long and laborious process, but there is an upside. I keep coming across some very...interesting... photos from my past. I never think of myself as old, but when you look at photos from high school and realize that they were taken 15 years ago, makes you wonder if you are maybe just starting to get a wee bit old.

I forgot how much 'recreational' time I had during my younger days. Once I had a child (really, once I became pregnant), all those recreational activities necessarily ceased to exist. But I had forgotten how much *fun* those extracurricular activities were...or at least seemed to be...and luckily, I have documentary evidence.

I present...4:20, A Retrospective.

I know something you don't know, my younger self teases.... (Namely: Your ass will never be this small again!)

Huh huh huh, I burped in your face, huh huh.

Eww. That stunk.

Stop! Munchie time! Oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh, oh oh, oh oh oh oh oh oh!

(No, that is not what you think it is in the background. And if it was, well, that was 10 years ago, in college. I haven't seen it in years...unfortunately....)

By the power vested in me by the state of North Carolina and this alien eraser top thing on my finger, I now pronounce myself stoned.

Yoda one for me! Hahaha! Get it? I made a funny! Aaaaagh!

OH, all this recreation is so taxing...don't you agree, Sammy?

Sammy, you ok, man? Sammy?

Monday, June 04, 2007

I'd rather be shattered than know forever without you...

How many times can one person break your heart?

And what does it say about me that I have asked myself this same question about more than one person?

Sometimes it feels like all I have ever been looking for was love, and all I have ever gotten for the trouble was heartache. I have tried to make my parents love me the way I wanted them to love me. I have tried to make my lovers love me, too...I have tried to make my husbands love me...and they all did, or do, in their own way...and I couldn't see it, because it wasn't the way I expected or wanted them to love me.

My parents, perhaps incapable of the so-called normal kind of parental affection, have tried in their own way to love me, even if that way is often incomprehensible and irritating. I try over and over again to make lasting contact with my father, we have wonderful conversations, both in person and over the phone for a couple of years, and then, he vanishes yet again. I try over and over with my mother to keep her in my life, regardless of her erratic behavior, even when it wrecks every holiday and special occasion. My friends sometimes question why I keep trying. So do I.

And yet, if a parent's love for a child should be unconditional, shouldn't it also be the other way around? I think that it should, and yet, when my mother acts out for the umpteenth time, or my father goes months, or a year now, with no contact, I feel the parental-child bond stretched to its breaking point, and I just want to cry out, "I give up! You win! I quit!" But I don't- because I am the one who wants this relationship, and I will continue to work at it, to try to love, to try to get them to love me, no matter what they do.

Besides my husbands, and I laugh to myself when I put that 's' out there, the lover that mattered the most, the only other person that shares that kind of romantic real estate in my heart, he did love me. I know that now. He just didn't love me best. Does that matter? It did at the time, when I was young, newly single, in love, and very lonely...but now, after having a child, I understand better than I ever could have back then. And I wish I could have understood better, but I don't regret having loved him, and now, I don't regret having had to live without him. He loved me as best he could, and if he had done the things I wanted him to do, I would never have been in a position to fully understand why he did what he felt was right. And no matter what other regrets I have, having a child has not ever been one of them. And no matter what else happens, not matter how hurt I might still feel, I understand that nothing else matters quite as much as your child. And now, any love or hurt I still feel is also infused with deep understanding.
My heart breaks not just for myself, but for those people I disappointed. I feel, on some level, that I disappointed my parents, or else they would love me more. I feel like I disappointed my lover, by not being able to understand him more. But I know that these disappointments, whether real or imagined, are not anything I had much control over at the time, and I don't regret the circumstances.

If I have any regrets, it's that I wasn't a better wife to my first husband. Yes, we both had our issues, but as much as we loved each other, perhaps we should have been able to overcome those. Maybe we didn't have good role models, maybe we were too young, too immature, too different at the core. Maybe we had too many problems to fix for our own selves before we could ever fix our relationship issues with each other. But as many problems as we had, I don't think not loving each other enough was ever one of those problems. I wish love was just enough.

It all adds up, over the years, and I guess that's what they call 'experience'. You get hurt, you hurt others, you try to figure out how to stop that crazy cycle whenever possible. For my part, I try to be a more open, outspoken person, more ready to flare up, more ready to get it all out on the table to discuss and argue and make up, and now, I'm nowhere near as combustible and crazy and out of control as I used to be on occasion. I try to be more accepting of what people are able to give me, as opposed to what I expect them to provide, no matter their role in my life. I try to be more patient with my family, all around, and I appreciate their patience with me.

We all do the best we can. I try to remember that now. I wish I had known that back then. And I hope that they can forgive me for not.

*The title is a line from "Please Break My Heart," by Caitlin Cary, from her album I'm Stayin' Out.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I'm not ok, and you're ok with that?

Originally posted on my MySpace blog 6/3/07.

half crop glasses
Originally uploaded by gkp
I am one of those people that's always fine, thanks for asking. Or at least I try to be. My very closest friends can get away with calling bullshit when they hear something in my voice that indicates I really am not fine, and god bless 'em, because by that point, I have 'I'm fined' myself all into a tizzy and they hear more than they ever wanted about how un-fine I really am.

Now, I understand the social conventions that underlie the "hey, how are ya?" and 'oh, just fine, and you?" that make up our passing acquaintances. And I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes it's hard enough for me to express myself fully to my very good friends, so I am more than happy to keep everything nice and easy with passing pals.

But then, every so often, something happens that makes me wonder. A few weeks ago, a person I counted as a good friend let me know she was getting divorced, and that the circumstances had been trying. I was aghast. I hadn't seen the signs, I hadn't asked the questions, I hadn't known anything had been wrong, and all this had been going on for several months. I had been occupied with the wedding, and because she is a good friend, she hadn't wanted to worry me with the details in my happy time or during the holidays. I felt horrible. What kind of friend was I not to be attuned to her grief, and what kind of friend was I that she thought she couldn't worry me during my happy time? Sheesh. I suck.

Then my best friend reminded me I did the same thing during the time she was getting married, which was on the cusp of my subsequent separation and later divorce. Oh.

I guess we don't want to trouble our nearest and dearest when things are not going well, but those are exactly the times that we should. There's even scientific evidence:>1=10102

Look, friends are as good as Prozac! Or at least a good adjunct therapy!

There's a lot of things we don't talk about in this culture, and not being fine is way up there on the list. But what happens when we don't talk about it? We internalize, we gunnysack, and then we end up throwing shoes at walls (or maybe that's just me. Don't throw any high heels at drywall if you don't like heavy duty spackling, that's all I'm saying.)

I actually haven't thrown any shoes in a very long time, thanks to understanding friends listening to my whiny drivel (at least that's the way it feels sometimes) and a partner who is willing to talk it out, even if it is painful (which, God, it is! Sometimes I would rather throw shoes at walls!) I wouldn't have believed this was possible a few short years ago, but lo! I have learned the errors of my ways. If you have a couple of very good friends, they will listen to you complain about anything from not getting laid to the fact that you just can't find good half and half these days, and it takes a lot of the pressure off. And did you know that if you tell your spouse he/she is pissing you off before you get to the shoe throwing stage, then the conversation generally goes a lot smoother? I didn't know this. And also, you should be there to listen to your friends bitch about whatever they want (not generally a problem, since my friends have much more interesting lives) and also- you are probably pissing your spouse off, too, and you have to be ready to hear that (ooh, not so much fun, but that's the price of being a grown up. Plus, when you argue, you get to make up. Hmmm...)

All this rambling is to say- it's ok not to be ok all the time. That's life, and some of it's magic and some of it's tragic and right now I'll stop before I quote more Jimmy Buffett. But when we stop and acknowledge that, as hard as it is, it makes the rest of the journey a little easier, and we'll have a good life all the way. And sometimes we just can't help the Buffett.

...and then, the SOB made us all buy funny hats!

Originally posted on my MySpace blog 5/24/07.

ole thumbs up
Originally uploaded by gkp
Or, What I Did on My Weekend Vacation to South Carolina

Last weekend, my family went to South Carolina. South Carolina is right next to North Carolina, but it took us six hours to get there. I guess that is because we stopped at Hardee's in Scotland Neck on the way, and they were busy, since apparently everyone in Scotland Neck eats breakfast at Hardee's on Saturday, because Mommy is tired of cooking. Noah went to preschool there in Scotland Neck and he learned that Mommies do all the cooking and Daddies aren't supposed to cook. I guess that is the difference between Scotland Neck and Kelford. And that is also why it took us thirty minutes to get a damn biscuit.

..Once we got on the big highway I-95 in Rocky Mount, we could pick up the speed a little. I think we went about 85 mph the whole way to the South Carolina border, but I'm not really sure. I didn't pay that much attention, because I was too busy driving. Jason took a little nappy while Noah and Mama fought in the back seat. It was really fun.

We finally got to South Carolina, and as soon as we passed the border, everyone got the urge to go to the bathroom. I guess there is something about South Carolina that makes you want to take a piss. We stopped as soon as we could, and everyone got out to pee. I got to take Mama and Noah to the bathroom at the same time. Mama is 96 and Noah is 4. That was really fun.

Then we called Uncle Laurin and Aunt Shirley. "You're still two hours away at best!" they said. We were already late, but that was ok, because our car goes really fast. I didn't notice any speed limit signs on the highway, because I was too busy driving. Then I passed a policeman doing 90 miles an hour. That was not so much fun. But he didn't come after me. So that was nice of him.

We finally got to where we were going. My Uncle Laurin and Aunt Shirley live in the lovely town of Summerville. I think it is historic and folkloric, but I have not seen much of it except their subdivision, which is like a fucking labryinth. We always get lost in their subdivision. That is really fun.

We all had to pee again when we got there. They have one bathroom on the first floor, and Noah and Jason decided to pee there instead of in the backyard, like I suggested. So I had to wait. That was not really fun.

Then we had a nice weekend. I forgot all about the drive. Especially after we all peed, and Aunt Shirley gave us turkey sandwiches and hugs, and Uncle Laurin got up from his nappy and we went to the grocery store and bought four bottles of wine and we came home and drank them. And ate shrimp. That was really, really fun. Except for the part when we had to get Mama up the flight of stairs going to the bedroom she was sleeping in. That part was not so much fun. It was sceeeeery.

And then the next day, we got up and got Mama back down the stairs, which was not quite so scary, and Aunt Shirley stayed home from church and made us french toast. Then she made us pork chops and mashed potatoes and salad and fresh bread and Jason made broccoli and we ate again, except with sweet tea this time. That was really, really fun, too. And we had pecan pie with whipped cream and brownies for dessert, except for Noah, who had bananas with whipped cream since he didn't want pie and brownies. Sometimes I think that there was a mix up at the hospital.

Sometimes I think that I want to run away from home and go live with Aunt Shirley and her pecan pie.

Then we went to the park, where Noah and Sadie and Bonnie, Aunt Shirley and Uncle Laurin's new dog, ran around like carzy. That was also fun.

Then we got on the road back home. That was not fun, because I was really hoping I could stay and move in with Uncle Laurin and Aunt Shirley. Oh well.

But we did get to stop at the South Carolina border again, except this time, we stopped at a place called South of the Border. They call it SOB for short. That is really funny. We saw their colorful billboards on the way. I made us stop to take pictures of the big sombrero, but we ended up eating dinner there and even buying our own sombreros, which explains the funny picture. That was really, really, really fun.

And then we drove a long time and got home at 1 am. We had to take the sleepy dog, the sleepy Noah, and the sleepy Mama out of the car and put them to bed. And then get up for work the next morning. That was really not much fun. I hope we are staying home this weekend.

The End.