Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Some thoughts on gratitude

This time of year always evokes a multitude of frankly weird emotions in me.

At this moment I am watching BBC News and the headline was about some miners in New Zealand. Because I love many things about New Zealand, including everyone I have ever met, this makes me sad. A second explosion has left no survivors. While the world rejoiced when the Chilean miners emerged from their temporary crypt, there will be no such celebration in New Zealand. Another story is about Ireland’s horrible economic forecast, with all the cuts in public and social services. It is truly sad to comprehend that in so many local areas, not just in my own country, so many people are facing economic – and by extension, psychosocial – depression. The news is not good. And it is not good from anywhere.

Today I worked on getting some new hires trained, and dealt with an “old hire” – a current employee who seems bent on not doing what I ask. This seems to be a pattern. It makes me think that I have exhausted my ability to make a difference there.
And then I come home. The BBC News lets me know that things are touch all over. More stories. Demonstrations in the street in London. Death toll in Cambodia by stampede now over 450 persons. Persons who may have had hope, may have thought they could make difference.

Tara greets me with a hug, shrieking, “Mommy!” She traipses through the house in her old princess dress, and tells me she has tried raisins, and likes them, but not from a box. She tells me she has had a long day, and demonstrates how her toes can hold a pencil just like her fingers do. No matter how dark the news, no matter how bleak the freezing rain outside is, Tara can bring light and balance to my perspective. Kind of like her namesake. The female Buddha, Tara.

So gratitude. Here’s my take. I am grateful for having an open mind, a worldview that allows me to see others with compassion at times, knowing that I would be better served with more compassion. A perspective that gives me the ability to see the injustice in the world, and a mind that can sometimes trap and release words that allow others to understand these injustice in a more personal and meaningful way. A mindset that allows me to seek the spirit and not get mired in dogma. And finally, a intrinsic happiness that enables me to gain some small saving joy from little sillinesses in each day with my fellow human beings.

May your Thanksgiving be what you need to it to be to bring more enlightenment into your world.

Friday, November 19, 2010

So burned out I'm charred

This was a week that the impossibility of my situation finally hit me.

As usual, I am exhausted beyond belief. I've been working over 100 hours per week since April. Everything that I am trying to accomplish, both personally and professionally, is constantly derailed by the bad behavior of others, or by my own dragged out inability to see anything to fruition.

I can remember working seven days a week once before in my life - when I was in grad school. At that point, however, I was making excellent grades, received an endowed scholarship, and basically had some kind of positive feedback in my world. I was thirty.

Now, eleven years later, I am too old for this. And there is no positive feedback.

I just went to the bank and found out my third job has not paid me (it's supposed to be direct deposit) for the last two weeks. I was overdrawn so I couldn't even put gas in my car to get to all my jobs.

Yesterday I was literally working with three different groups of people/tasks/goals at once at the office. I asked my boss to sit on ONE of them. And then he said, after FIVE minutes, "Can't I go back and do what I was working on?"

Today will be more of the same. I'm already miserable before I start.

Two days ago, I told St Timothy, "You are going to have to go get a job soon, because I am going to have a breakdown and quit all my jobs." He just said, "Okay." And nothing has changed.

So dear reader, just bear with me. I am trying to make it through this and onto something better, if that something better exists.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A day in the life of a bitter old woman

Today has been a long and weird day. I awoke early, around 5:00 am, knowing I was scheduled at my Starbucks gig at 7:30. I lay in bed and tried to eke out another hour or so of sleep, to no avail. So I got up, took a shower, noting that two of my shampoo bottles had disappeared overnight. Then I got dressed and went and gave six hours to the coffee gods.

Arriving back at home, I am greeted by the vision of St Timothy, reclined on the couch, and the television blaring (volume level 32, when the kids and I watch it at 18) with endless football games. Periodically he takes out his computer, tries to get a signal to look at something, and then turns it off again, the television still shrieking. He moves from the couch to the loveseat, and back again. He steps out on the balcony every 15 to 20 minutes to smoke – “taking a couple of puffs,” he retorts when I pointed out that he smokes every 10-20 minutes. And then he returns to the couches and the idiot box. This is the sum of his existence, beyond arguing with 90% of all statements I make and screaming at the kids.

Tara goes from room to room, person to person, including the dog and her little voice is never silenced for longer than three seconds, except when she is asleep. Since Thursday night she has been sick. A visit to the pediatrician on Friday afternoon confirmed that she has double ear infections and a fever of 103. So we’ve been chasing her with Amoxicillin twice a day – well, I’ve been chasing her – today there was not time between football games, visits to the toilet/kitchen/smoke balcony for St Timothy to dose her. Not that I am shocked. At this writing she is wrapped around my left arm, making it difficult to type, as she giggles and tells me she “is [my] love.” This is the only positive feedback I will receive, and I am all for it.

Chloe took the money and ran. Literally. I gave her a $50 Visa card for her birthday, and she went to shopping with the parents of a friend. Apparently the fact I work multiple jobs is a real inconvenience to her, as I am not available to drive her to all the places she demands. Other parents are all more available and just all-round better human beings than me. Yet my shampoo is beguiling, as its allure is more than she can resist. When I question where it has gone, she pulls both bottles out of a bag in her room. My things are public property, but I don’t deserve the courtesy of a kind word. Teenagers.

The dog. Oh, the dog. He greeted me at the door, sniffing in an overall invasive way. Then he climbed onto the couch, into my lap. Which is lovely, except he has fleas. Despite telling me to buy flea powder yesterday morning, St Timothy has not found the time to dust some powder on the dog. Guess the dog wasn’t close enough to him during a commercial. He did find time to yell at Chloe to wash the dishes however.

So, having made it home and to my bedroom, I went to bed. Since ear-blasting football is not my cup of tea, I went to read in bed. I cannot watch television or listen to the radio in my room, as cords and converter boxes have been taken for others’ use. I drift off to sleep, and am awakened every 10 to 20 minutes by one of the kids coming in to ask me a question, or Tara’s overexuberant sharing. Finally after a couple of hours, St Timothy comes in to ask to use my debit card, as he wants to get fast food for Tara. Preparing any of the $200 worth of groceries I bought yesterday is too tedious. He goes to McDonald’s, venturing away from the safety of the screaming idiot box for a whole 20 minutes, and even returns with a sweet tea for me.

After he returns, I microwave a plate of generic pizza rolls for my one meal of the day. Tara meets me in the kitchen, demanding to know why I am eating her and her sister’s food. I explain I am only having a few. And then I retreat to the bedroom to eat the soggy crap in relative peace.

Today I have been reading Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs on the Kindle between interruptions. I can’t say I agree with all or even most of his assertions, but I do applaud his writing and his right to make them. It’s interesting to read the ramblings of someone who grew up somewhat in my cultural era (Klosterman is roughly six months older than my younger sister). It’s also helped me demystify a thinking male’s take on such ephemera as “The Man Show,” a cancelled cable piece of shit show that St Timothy has made rare reference to as a cultural touchstone of his. (Figures.) Bottom line, Klosterman writes about some of the same crap I have pondered in my spare time, when I waste my time thinking about ultimately meaningless stuff. This is not to make light of his courageous treatment of cinema questioning the nature of reality. The subtitle of this book is something about “low culture,” but the end result is that reality can be about as low as you can get. In several sections he derides “snarkiness,” yet I’ve often felt, at least in my own life, that snarkiness is next to godliness. Small g, at that.

So today, with the reading, working, and trying to live in domestic harmony, I have come to one conclusion. There has to be more than this.

I am older than my parents were when they owned a home, provided a Catholic school education and took a vacation, and had a “real” life. Yet I can do none of these things. I work roughly the same amount of hours as both of them combined. Yet I hate all of it. There is no calling here. There is no love or passion for what I do. It’s like a prison sentence I am trying to get through until I reach the blessed furlough of death. I was told that if I got an education and worked hard, good things would happen for me. Whoever told me that LIED.

There has to be time to enjoy my children. Isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do? There has to be time to enjoy something other than reading someone else’s writing. I wonder how old I will have to be before I find it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

getting older... redux

Yesterday I became the mother of a fifteen year old. Yes, I did see this coming. And I have been ruminating on the idea for a while now. In the US, where I live, this means I am one year away from dealing with a child who drives. This is not what I want to even consider, especially considering that this same child still sucks her thumb, forgets to walk the dog, and leaves a trail of crumbs everywhere she goes.

It’s not like I didn’t see this coming. Ever since she uttered that first evil cry in the delivery room, I knew this little one was someone to be reckoned with. But now every sentence is a demand, and I am the one at fault. I am the failure. The one who has failed to provide her with one thing she has ever wanted, and the one who has forced her to live a deprived life of boredom, tedium and evil.

So today I sit at the dining table that is as worn and beaten as I am. I type frenetically on my MacBook. I have the same dreams I had when she was born: to be a writer, to live independently of others, and to have time and freedom to explore my craft. Unfortunately, I have not been able to realize any of these dreams for the past fifteen years. Another child has come. And still the dreams remain.

I look around myself. I am still preparing meals for various people when they are hungry and drop into my hovel. I am still listening to my ex-husband snore on the couch – the present husband, St Timothy of the Incessant Humming, has run to the store to pick up cream cheese, water and caffeine-free soft drinks for the restless natives. Four girls (aged 15 to 5) currently are perching in my home, their cackles can be heard through the closed bedroom door. And I still sit at the dining table, typing away, and wishing my life away, just to be someone else.

Someone who words come easy to. Someone who possesses style and grace, both on the page and the pavement. Someone whose mind does not flit from regret to regression. Someone who does not look back, and is not afraid to look forward.
I may never be a writer. I may fall off the planet tomorrow, either hit by a bus or taken out by my high blood pressure. I may even be crushed by the towers of unread books by my bed. Sweet irony, indeed.

However, I may also lose my mind and have to try to sneak a laptop into the asylum of my choice so I can lull the lunatics with the pitter patter of little keys.

At any rate, we are another year older. Not wiser. And no closer to the goal. But we are still here.