Category Archives: Uncategorized

Thank you and please

I want to thank everyone for your remarkable responses to yesterday’s post.  I will reply more fully in time, but for now I have a favor to ask.  Many of you already have, but if you have not yet been over to Slouching Mom’s place, please go now and offer her condolences on the passing of her mother.

The Biggest Loser

Forgive me.  I know this is long and self-indulgent.  But, this has been a long time coming, and I hope some of you will read it all.  Plus, it sure gives you a lot of background info on me, should you be interested in applying to be my stalker.

          My sophomore year of college, I wrote and directed a one-act play.  It had three characters: a stylish career woman watching her fertile days disappear, her single gay friend who wanted her to have a baby with him, and a perky little waitress.  The play wasn’t half-bad.  I have a good ear for dialogue, and – despite the fact that I was clearly not writing about what I knew – the premise was interesting and plausible.  The ending was a little weak, but during one rehearsal, the main actress suggested her closing line should be the woman’s decision: cheesecake.

            It was the second of three one-acts I would write and direct.  I’m a solid director and it is work I enjoy, and for a time I aspired to be a playwright.  I applied to graduate programs in playwriting.  But, I applied to only the few top programs, under the theory that since I probably wasn’t good enough to get into those, I should give up playwriting. I was rejected.  It makes sense.  By then, I was already 21 and had little formal experience in playwriting, other than a couple classes and an independent study with the very gifted Romulus Linney. 

            So, I went to Ed School, instead.  I got a Master’s in Education and proceeded to teach high school English for three years.  But, I was edgy.  See, I’d always been the girl with all the shimmering potential, the promising writer that everyone just thought might be famous someday or the sharp mind who brought whole new lights to the books we were reading.  And, so high school teaching seemed dead-end, because the only place to move up was administration, and I figured if I were going to enter administration, it might be easier to simply inject arsenic directly into my bloodstream.  If there is one thing I am not, it is a leader of people.

            So, I applied to graduate programs in English.  This time, my attitude was a little different.  I knew how hard it was to get into Ph.D. programs in English.  I knew I had gone to the lesser Ivy, hadn’t published, hadn’t taken theory classes, hadn’t been working in an academic press.  I just hadn’t carefully groomed myself for this.  I figured my smarts and my test scores would help, but I knew that (had I but known how to do it) I could have spent the past few years building towards this career.

            I applied to 20 schools and got into two Ph.D. programs and one M.A. program.  I was thrilled.  This would wipe out the sloppy career trajectory.  They would train me to be a professor, give me exactly the path I needed to take.  I could stop feeling like the kid who started baseball two seasons later than everyone else.

            I started my Ph.D. program the fall I was 26.  All I had going for me was my intellectual gifts, my strong work ethic, and the fact that those two things were still more than enough to start a career at 26.

            I spent the next six years in graduate school, working very hard at learning that I did not want to be a professor.  I did well, professors saw a lot of promise.  I got articles published like I was supposed to, but I was not at Harvard, so I knew I would have a limited choice of career options, and that all of my hard work was simply to assure I could get a job somewhere.  Anywhere.

            Unfortunately, I was not married to a man who could just move anywhere.  He had a career, too.  One that would not flourish in North Dakota.  And I didn’t want to put my kids through Mommy working 80 hour weeks for crap pay living in the middle of nowhere with Daddy having either sidelined his career or being gone all the time because he couldn’t work where I did.

            So, I opted out.  Remember them: the Opt Out Generation?  Except that I was going to pursue a different career rather than give up my career completely.  I started looking for jobs as Zach’s first birthday approached.

            I managed to land a job as a contract speech writer, due to the help of a contact, because by now I was 31 and most people were just not all that interested in hiring me without relevant experience.  I loved the work.  I adored my direct supervisor.  The only problem was that this was the most dysfunctional office on the planet and it was clear to me that I was out of favor with the boss’s leading lady.  I gracefully declined to renew my contract on the grounds that I was moving to London and having another baby, both of which were true.  Six months after I left, my amazing supervisor fell victim to the office politics, demonstrating to me that I had gotten out just in time.

            I lived in London and had Benjamin.  I knew we would only be there two years, so finding a job once he was a year old (when I would have wanted to return to work), didn’t make sense.  I couldn’t teach because I wouldn’t even have a full year, and I couldn’t write speeches because I didn’t know the culture or the voices well enough, and I didn’t have any experience in anything else.

            So I wrote a book.  A good one.  And I threw all my effort into finding an agent, which I found.  And she was going to get the damned thing published, I just knew it.  All it would take would be more hard work and talent, the only two things I ever seem to have going for me.  Except for the contact who helped me find a good agent, of course.  And then my career would finally be on a clear path.

            And then this crappy economy happened right after we moved back and I had another baby.  And now I am 35 years old, and my resume doesn’t look all that shiny because it has nothing on it.  The six years earning the degree only made me six years older unless you are searching for someone with a Ph.D.  The years raising kids weren’t years off from my career, because somehow it never got launched before I had them, even though I was in my early 30s.  And the book I wrote?  Isn’t all that impressive since I can’t get it published.

            I can’t even figure out how to land all those paid writing gigs that other bloggers mention all the time.  Seriously.  You people go on about how much you love my writing, but anyone know how the hell I can get someone to pay me to do a couple articles from home?  Yeah, I’ve been to elance, but those are not exactly career-building gigs, and I don’t win those, either.

            And, all of this is to say that I was trying to make peace with forever being the kid who started baseball two seasons too late by telling myself that I was still young, but then I realized something.

            Everyone else who went to school with me is as young as I am.  And you assholes are rocking your careers as legal counsel for Senate Committees and using art to inspire kids to be eco-friendly and making millions and getting books published and running businesses and in the FUCKING PRIME OF YOUR LIVES.  And I am supposed to be your age, but somehow you all got your damned careers in order while I was fucking around with my piddling self-esteem and complete lack of ability to close a goddamned deal.

            And then I saw this, published in a news source I admire.  And you know who the woman who wrote this is, apart from a famous movie actress?  She’s the goddamned perky waitress I cast in my fucking college one-act.  

The everyone’s sick and jetlagged, my husband is traveling, Benjamin is biting again, and I have no help this week blues

Please be forewarned; I am about to whine when I ought to be grateful. This post will consist of bitching about little things and will not end, as it should, with gratitude for healthy children, an income coming in, or even the fact that I have an au pair arriving tomorrow night (cue singing angels).

Eh, never mind. I just talked myself out of bitching. I’m such a killjoy.

Pointing fingers

I have a new post up at L.A. Moms Blog.  I wrote it in response to this post of Julie’s.

And happy birthday to my husband.

Thalon Bruce Myers

I have never before read this blog, but someone else’s post sent me over there today.  As I sit here, bone tired from dealing with three jetlagged kids while my husband is on a business trip in the middle of our vacation, I am suddenly filled with dread.  As far as I can tell, she just went in and found her beautiful little boy dead and tried to revive him.  Today, he passed away at the hospital.

Go leave her a note of support while I go check in on my babies. 

And, to the grieving mommas out there in the blogosphere, the support we are trying to give is so tiny in the face of your grief, but we offer it nonetheless.

Ready, aim

I have a new post up at LA Moms Blog.  Head on over there and answer a sticky question.

And she left a little letter said she’s gonna’ make a stop in Nevada

            I was never the hard-rocker type.  Even in my wild and carefree youth, you were more likely to find me cranking up “Oh, What a Night” than whatever it is that The Scorpions recorded. I’ve been to two Simon & Garfunkel concerts, seen three Billy Joel tours, had nosebleed seats for Clapton, gotten drenched at Wolftrap right after Peter, Paul & Mary sang “The Great Storm is Over,” and been forced to sit through Phil Collins’s version of choreography (which mostly consisted of running about in a circle).  The first concert I ever saw was Cyndi Lauper.

            I used to know all the words to “Miss American Pie.”  I’m that girl.

            But, the music I listened to I loved passionately, mellow though it was.  I was the first one on the dance floor for Gloria Gaynor every single time.  The day after I got accepted to the Ph.D. program at UNC, I listened to a certain James Taylor song about 72 times on my long commute to the job I was quitting.  When J and I got engaged, I knew just which song I wanted for our first dance.  I had gone my whole life moving between families and states.  There was no doubt in my mind that “You’re My Home” was our song.

            When Zachary was born, I listened to Norah Jones while nursing until the baby hit three months old and got distracted by that kind of wild and crazy music.  When we lived in London, I’d put on the soundtrack to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert so the boys and I could dance in the kitchen.  Sure, now I also listened to the Bacon Brothers singing “Philadelphia Chickens,” but that’s some rockin’ kids’ music.

            Over the last couple of years, I have somehow stopped listening to music.  I play it for the kids in the car, but when I drive alone I listen to the news because otherwise I’ll be out of touch with current affairs.  In the house, I rarely turn on a CD.  I am too busy with the Getting Done of Things.  There are lunches to make and bottoms to wipe and Zach is learning to read and Ben finally recognizes two letters.  And, oh shit, the baby didn’t get the memo about how six-month-olds are supposed to stay where you put them, so she’s fucking crawling towards that one-inch Lincoln Log and shoving it in her mouth.

            I used to be charming and interesting and funny.  Now I am efficient.  And, I mean efficient.  No one I know is as capable as I am.  I breastfeed with one hand and type with the other.  I get three kids out the door by 8:45 every morning with all teeth brushed, everyone dressed, and no breakfast dishes left in the sink.  And I pump five ounces before they even get up for the day.  By the time we make it to the preschool, I want a fucking marching band to be there waiting to point out how amazing that feat is.  We have recently had to cut back our childcare help significantly (glad the folks at AIG are getting bonuses, by the way), but that’s OK, because I can pick up the slack.  I can bathe all three kids.  I can answer Zach’s questions.  I can bake pumpkin muffins during Lilah’s morning nap on Tuesday because the boys are at school and that is the day someone else brings Ben home.  I CAN DO IT.

            People ask me whether my husband gets time to pursue his interests because he works so hard and is such a dedicated Daddy.  People also worry whether we have enough “us” time.  And I want to scream at them.  Because I don’t need “us” time when I have no “me” to contribute.  Fuck “us” time; I’m drowning in one us or another around here.  I have buried ME under a sea of US. 

            You can take your “us” time and shove it up your ass.  I want to know what happened to the girl who used to sing “Cecilia” in the car, albeit off-key.  As far as I can ascertain, she is allowing everyone else the luxury of falling apart now and then because she is holding it all together.

            We have an au pair coming soon, and that ought to help.  Except, of course, the first priority has to be finally getting time alone with each kid.  And volunteering a little at the preschool.  And dealing with summer vacation.  And reintroducing Benjamin to the concept of discipline.  And perhaps actually reading a book to Lilah now and then, rather than putting her down on the floor to choke on her brother’s toys.  And I have to get my resume in shape, because if we have learned one thing in this economy, it is that five people being reliant on one person’s hirability is not a wise idea.

            Tonight, the boys watched the second half of their show while I did the dishes.  I put Lilah on the floor with some toys, but she fussed.  She cries so rarely that we end up taking advantage of her easy-going nature and ignoring her too much.  Tonight, she had enough and wanted some attention.  There were lentils all over the floor from Benjamin’s protein-fest.  I had to water the tomato plants we just put in.  I thought some music might keep her occupied.

            I just recently rearranged the house to make room for the au pair, so the stereo is in a new spot.  It wasn’t even plugged in yet.  I fished out the cord and plugged it in, then dug through the CDs until I found Piano Man.  And there was “Travelling Prayer,” as beguiling as ever.  I picked her up and began to whirl around the kitchen.  And she giggled at me.  The boys came in, and Benjamin – exhausted from a missed nap – started spinning around.  Lilah laughed some more.

            And then I had to put her down to do the dishes.  I sank back into the woman who can do it all, although I did pick her back up for a moment when we got to “You’re My Home.”

            When J gets home tonight, all the housework will be done.  But, as usual, his wife will be missing.  Let me know if you come across her.