Friday, Fri-yay: November 9th, 2018

& (1)Oh guys, this… has been a draining week.  Nothing bad has happened, but everything that’s happened has been emotionally charged and has tested my anxiety to the limit.  With that in mind, I’ve got to stop and reflect on the little positive things that have been keeping me grounded.

First, I have a three day weekend – and a well-deserved one, if I do say so.  Monday is Veteran’s Day, and I legitimately forgot that I had the day off until mid-way through the morning yesterday (at which point I made a triumphant Facebook post because i couldn’t contain my sheer joy).  I plan on playing with Bear, reading, and catching up on NaNoWriMo.  I will also be tearing the house apart and doing a deep-cleaning, because…

…We finally bought a carpet cleaner!  I feel like it’s time for a sequel to my Ways I Know I’m Getting Old post, because I feel like the level of sheer joy and excitement I felt upon purchasing the carpet cleaner makes me officially Old (or puts me at Peak Parent Mode, at least).  But the one thing I’ve hated about this house almost since the moment we moved in is how filthy the carpet got, and how fast (though what did I expect with cafe au lait colored carpets and a toddler?)  We were going to just rent a cleaner, but Amazong was having a sale and the Bissel cleaner we got cost $75, and it would cost us $34 just for a one time rental from Home Depot.  The decision was easy.  I’m so excited.

I’ve also been starting to poke my head around AuthorTube, which is the section of YouTube populated by authors and aspiring authors.  I’ve started doing vlog style videos about my NaNoWriMo experience, and I’m trying to find time to watch and interact with others doing the same thing, hoping to create a habit that will sustain through November and beyond.  It looks like a nice community and I’m hoping to find a groove that allows me to be active in it.

Also – Christmas!  Dollar Tree Haulers are doing holiday hauls and DIYs, the stores are filled to the brim with Christmas stuff, and I’m getting ready to bring up all my holiday decor (and buying a ton of it from Dollar Tree and Target).  I’ve said on an earlier iteration of this blog that I understand why some people are put off by the earlier and earlier onset of the Christmas season — people who don’t celebrate/celebrate different holidays, people who have family issues exacerbated by the holidays, people who just prefer to celebrate one holiday at a time — and those are all valid complaints.  And I do agree that we are hauling out Christmas waaay too early — I saw some on display prior to Halloween — but for my own personal celebration, this is the time of year I start prepping.  Christmas makes me happy, and I’m going to do what makes me happy, okay?

I also just finished the book adaptation of Alice Isn’t Dead, and oh my gosh, I loved it.  It’s so… relevant?  So… visceral?  So refreshing to see a queer female protagonist with anxiety who uses that anxiety as a weapon and it totally works??  It’s such a good story, and I love Keisha’s character so much, and I know I speak only for myself, but this was such a well-written female character written by a male author, and some male authors could take lessons on this from Joseph Fink.

I desperately want to include NaNoWriMo on here, but that’s a little more complicated; I’ll probably have a post about it later, though.

What’s kept you afloat this week?

The Importance of a Routine

organizing my lifeI never really had a morning routine.

There were things I did every morning, sure.  I used the bathroom.  I got dressed.  Sometimes I ate.  But the idea of a routine has an implication of purpose or mindfulness behind it.  It implies thought and intent.  For most of my life, I’ve rolled out of bed at the last possible minute, thrown clothes on, and rushed out the door looking like hell warmed over.  I’d routinely overlook eating a meal, combing my hair, or brushing my teeth.

My rationale for this was I really didn’t get a lot of sleep at the front end of the night; going to bed early was not something I could manage (and often, even when I made it a point to turn in early, I could not usually get to sleep), so I allowed myself to sleep in on the back end, meaning I’d squeeze in an extra hour of sleep, but I’d be running out of the house to start my day unkempt, cotton-mouthed, and still half asleep.

As I got older, I got better about being able to squeeze in slightly more prep into slightly less time; I packed a breakfast to take on the go, and shaved off most of my hair (bye bye, combing!), but it was still literally fifteen minutes between throwing off the sheets and getting into the car.

This year I made it a point to create a night time/morning ritual – you might remember, yes?  Last I updated you, I said it was going “okay,” that I still hadn’t mastered including all the elements, but that it seemed to be an improvement over what I had been doing prior to that point.  Well, I want to re-update you and say, holy hell, I hadn’t realized how much of an improvement it has been, even without all the bells and whistles (still haven’t been able to work in morning pages or exercise).

This morning, my alarm never went off, and because I was keeping with my son in his room (rough night for him), I didn’t wake up with Andy’s alarm either.  Instead, I woke up when Andy came in looking for me at 6:20. And I flipped. the frig. out.  I was running nearly an hour late, and it messed up my entire attitude, and my entire morning.

The weird thing was, it was exactly the time I used to get up prior to instituting my new schedule, and it was a huge wake up call (ha!) as to how significant that extra time in the morning, combined with the prep work I do at night, had become.

Moving my wake up time up by an hour meant an hour in the morning during which I could shower – like, I had time and space to shower, instead of hoping I could squeeze it in at the end of the day, when I was already so loopy and so drained I’d just as often as not forget it.  I could apply makeup, on those days where I felt suited to makeup, and I – even though I made the change to laying out my clothes the night before  as part of this shift – if I had an unexpected, last minute shift in how I felt about my body, I had time to thoughtfully tweak my outfit.  My extra hour gave me time while I showered and dressed to listen to a podcast or two, which meant I got to wake up laughing along with some pretty fun, clever nerds every day.  My extra hour meant I don’t leave the house without brushing my teeth anymore.  I’ve moved to prepping my lunch (when I need it) and my breakfast the night before as part of this routine as well, but my extra hour means I have time to go downstairs and eat it in the comfort of my own home.  It means I forget fewer things, and am more fully awake before I leave the house.  It means I leave the house earlier, and get to spend a little extra time enjoying coffee at my mom’s when we drop Bear off.

I till want to try to work in morning pages (I think including writing in my routine would be so beneficial in so many ways), but I’ve realized that the benefit of establishing the routine is less about exactly what actions I’m able to perform (I can always downsize my makeup routine to make time for morning pages, or eat a quicker breakfast), but that it gives me time to work with, time that I can decide to use as I wish, time in which to just friggin’ breathe.  Time when I’m not running at full kilter, bleary eyed and groggy, out the door.  And that’s when I realized that I didn’t need more activities to add to my morning – I just need to add more time.

Rather than trying to cram your routine with more stuff (exercise can be incorporated later in the day – maybe taking a few laps during lunchtime!), just… give yourself more damn time.  Even if you only get through the essentials, dammit, do it at a leisurely, relaxing pace.  Give yourself that space to breathe.

I’m glad tomorrow is Friday, and I’m hoping to end the week with a distinctly less rude awakening than I was greeted with today.

 

How is He Mine?

 

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I mentioned we took Bear to the library the other day, but had to cut is short; I had a headache, we had to go grocery shopping, and I needed to go home and cook.  I honestly wanted to skip the library all together, but I can’t deny Bear that simple pleasure.  He adores the library, and the last thing I want to do is discourage him from that love in any way.

I’m thrilled that Bear is developing a love of books, and excited that he’s already starting to sound out words (pretty successfully!) months before his fourth birthday, but I also love watching him interact with the other kids.  It’s both a joy and a complete and utter mystery to me.

I have several people in my life with kids around Bear’s age; friends, acquaintances, coworkers.  Almost without fail, they are all sweet kids, but most of them have the typical shyness I always associated with small children; the coy, peeking-out-behind-mom’s-legs sort of shyness that people fawn over as being “sweet.”

I was one of those kids, except I never really grew out of it. I present, I think, as a pretty friendly person, and I feel like that’s what most people see; but from the other side, I spend a lot of time in my own head second guessing everything I do, hyper-critical of everything I say, overly anxious and worried about how to navigate socially.  I definitely have good (even great!) days and bad days, but being social and interacting (broadly) with people will always feel draining and slightly uncomfortable to me.

Then there is my son.

My son is like local celebrity at our library; the librarians know him by name, and he likes to ask them about all the stuff on their desk, and the new displays at the front of the children’s room.  Being that he sees them every week (and we’ve been going there for a couple of years now), I’m not totally shocked that he’s gotten comfortable with them.

But then there are the other kids.  This past visit, we walked in and he noticed two other kids, both slightly older than him, sitting at one of the tables coloring.  Immediately he smiled and walked over.

“Hiiii!  What is your name?  What are you doing?  Are you coloring?  What’s a contest?  I would like to do a contest.  Can I sit and color with you?  I would like to sit and share crayons with you.  Can I have a pink and a blue crayon, please?  Thanks.  Are you coloring a ghost?  What is your ghost’s name?  Is he Casper?  Casper is from a show.  It is called, ‘Casper, the Friendly Ghost!’  He is not a spooky ghost.  What are you reading?”

To my son, the idea of not going up to a person and trying to make friends with them is unthinkable.  His instinct upon meeting anyone new is to try to engage them; to greet them and ask them questions about themselves.  He doesn’t understand other children’s reticence to open up to him; he isn’t mean-spirited about it, but he can’t fathom why anyone wouldn’t want to try to make friends with him.

It’s fascinating to watch, as a person who was very much unlike that for the vast majority of my life.  It’s enviable, that level of absolute comfort he must have in himself.  It’s also a little scary.

Because when I say he wants to make friends with everyone, I mean everyone.  Little kids, big kids, the cashiers at the supermarket, people on the train, people waiting for the bus.  Once in Florida, we got off the tram at MCO, and when I turned to look at my son (whose hand I was holding), he was also holding the hand of a strange woman who had been seated near us during the ride.  She was kind and amused at his antics, but while I laughed it off, it gave me pause.

I don’t want to shut my son down.  I don’t want to instill fear into his heart, or make him afraid of talking to people he doesn’t know, or reaching out to befriend others.  But I also need to teach him – in a way that won’t do those things – how to be cautious around strangers, and how not everyone you meet is a kind or friendly person.

The world needs more people like my son, people who go out of their way to try to include and befriend people, and I need my son to be both happy and safe, without depriving the world of his vivacity.  As someone whose native language is, in so many ways, social fear, I’m not totally sure how to do that.

But, as has been the case with literally every other aspect of parenthood, I’m sure I’ll learn.  For now, I’m just going to enjoy watching my son do his thing, wherever we go.

Friday, Fri-yay: October 12th, 2018

& (1)Hey yo, it’s Friday!

I’ve been having an uncharacteristically productive week, creatively, and hope to have a good balance of work/pleasure this weekend, the highlight of which will be my cousin’s wedding tomorrow evening.  All in all, things seem to be moving along pretty smoothly, but I’ve gotta say, it’s still pretty great to hit the weekend.  So, Bear is in bed, I’m sitting here, munching on some homemade empanadas, sipping on some Grand Mariner, and enjoying the quiet.

This week:

Last week I mentioned that The Good Place was back, but did I mention Forking Bullshirt was back, and have I ever mentioned the official The Good Place podcast I love Bullshirt because I love the geeky fan discussion (from the perspective of geeky fans!), and I love the official podcast for the behind the scenes insight and how lovely and adorable the cast and crew all are.  If you are at all interested in the show, you might want to check out the podcasts.

NaNoWriMo prep is starting full-force, and I’m so excited to give it a go this year.  I’m trying my hand at… I guess it would be categorized as magical realism, and I’m kind of nervous but also really psyched to try something different from my usual lit!fic attempt.  I’ve been reading the forums the last few nights and need to find time to incorporate NaNo prep work and NaNo socialization into my schedule.

Did anyone else grow up watching a lot of magic on TV?  Because I recently found a few  old David Copperfield specials on YouTube.  Ahhhh, I don’t have a lot to say about this, except, maaaan I remember these so vividly, and I remember those nights those specials aired on TV being like, a big deal in my house, when we all settled in together to watch them.

I got a lovely compliment at work today from one of our SLPs, who had been talking to one of the school psychologists who had done an observation in one of my classrooms, and was apparently very impressed with how good I am with the kids and how well I work with all of them.  I don’t want to sound snotty – I know that I’m good at my job – but it’s so, so nice to hear someone appreciate my efforts.

I think that’s all for this week.  What’s been carrying you all alone lately?

Friday, Fri-yay: October 5th, 2018

& (1)So, I think I’d feel worse about being “behind” on OctPoWriMo if I was actually behind on OctPoWriMo, but I’ve actually been working on some poems — I just haven’t been able to pull them completely together yet.  Tomorrow I’ll probably write up three separate posts for each of the entries (the two backlogged poems, plus tomorrow’s entry proper) but get myself back on track.  Weirdly, Inktober, which I expected to be so much harder, has been going really well.  Maybe because I’ve never, ever identified myself as a visual artist, and my expectations are lower?  Anyway.  This is a Fri-yay post!  Let’s yay!

Number One can be that Inktober is going well!!  I’m not a good artist, but I at least find myself sitting down and working on something everyday, and honestly, I’m discovering I’m actually not as hopelessly terrible as I thought, and maybe — through daily practice, even in short exercises — I can actually get better.

Number Two, The Good Place is back!  This actually should have been posted last week, but uhh, I fell off the bandwagon a little with posting lately (and so much else, but that’s another post).  We just finished episode three, and it is so refreshing to be watching a show where I look forward to speculation, but don’t want concrete, long-range spoilers.  I love that this show can surprise me, and that literally any plot twist feels very genuinely on the table.  Also, this show is a multishipper’s dream come true.

Number Three, I have a three day weekend with no plans!  I will probably clean, catch up on poetry, and online shop, which leads me into Number Four…

…It is the first week in October and I am about halfway done my Christmas shopping!  Which probably sounds crazy to some of you, but I’m so, so sick of agonizing over what to do and what to get, and I always wind up waiting until the last minute, and the holiday devolves into a stress-fest, and no thank you.  I love Christmas, and I have a young son; the holidays should be a fun, festive, relaxing time.  If I can be proactive about making that happen, I will be.

Number Five, I saw Hamilton last week!  I honestly don’t even know what to say.  The whole evening felt like a throwback to my theatre-geek high school days, where my friends and I (we went with my best friend and her boyfriend) get dressed, go to dinner, have a sleepover, go out to brunch — you know, we make the night An Event.  I feel like that doesn’t happen often anymore.  We all took the day following the show off, and went out for brunch at an Irish restaurant near our house, and it was damn near perfect.  The show itself was stunning, and the perfect culmination to a season of theatre.

What’s been keeping you in good spirits this week?

Keep It Busy

This past month was great, but didn’t really feel like I had any down time, probably because, um, I didn’t.  The last weekend in August hit, and suddenly over Labor Day weekend, we had four non-stop days of parties, festivals, and social gatherings, and from there, we never really lost steam.  We had theatre tickets, apple-picking, bridal showers, game nights, social events, and while it was fun, it was also go, go, go, pretty much non-stop all September.

I find myself — as I’ve gotten older and grown more into my identity as an adult who is actually able to make their own plans — feeling like I need to fill every possible opportunity with activity, and I’ve found that’s become doubly so since having my son.  I can’t tell you exactly why that is – or, I guess, I don’t think I can narrow it down to one thing.  Part of it is that I lived a fairly sheltered and socially deprived life as a child and young adult, and I often feel like I need to “make up” for all the freedom I never got to have during my formative years.  Part of it is, when I have down time, it’s really down time; I wind up being almost entirely sedentary, and my ADHD keeps me from doing anything really constructive (even those things I want to do and enjoy doing).  Having a place to be or an activity to do that is externally scheduled and structured is one of the few ways to guarantee I get out and engage.

But part of it, more and more, is that I feel like I need to be proactive and conscientious about not saddling my son with the stagnant, asocial childhood I had.

I didn’t have anything resembling a social life for, well, most of my life.  There were never any sports teams, never any dance lessons, or swim lessons, or gymnastics.  No Girl Scouts.  A lot of it was because my parent’s didn’t have the money for so much of what makes up a busy, structured youth – our grammar schools were tiny and private (read: where all the money was going), and didn’t offer any extra-curriculars; dance and gymnastics were pricey; and my folks had neither the time, energy, nor inclination to have to put forth the effort for something like Girl Scouts.  Even trips out to eat or to the movies were few and far between.

And I get that.  Bear is an only child and loves to sing and dance, so I’ve sat and priced out a number of music and dance academies, and I can appreciate how my parents – who had three kids and were already also paying tuition for our private schooling – must have felt overwhelmed by the potential cost.

But there were also no bike riding lessons.  There were very few trips to the park, or to the pool.  There weren’t many festivals or fairs, very few events, activities, or parties.  Trips to the library were sporadic at best, and I ha only one friend whose house I was allowed to visit.  I didn’t go to a birthday party until I was thirteen, and I had to fight tooth and nail for that, years after most of my classmates had given up inviting me to parties I was never allowed to attend.  Hell, there was barely even any plying outside. We could get hurt on bikes and skateboards and everyone in our neighborhood was looking to do us in, if you were to believe my parents.  Our time even in our own yard was infrequent.

And I don’t want that for my son.  I don’t want my son to be the kid who is never allowed to go out, and never learns age-appropriate social skills; I don’t want to be the parent that turns around and uses the fact of their lack of social skills as reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to go out.  I don’t want my son to grow up and realize at thirty-six he has virtually no memories of his childhood because he basically didn’t have one, because had so few stand-out moments and formative experiences.

I feel like we’re doing an ok job.  My son’s goes to parks and fairs and parties, and at 3, has already been on a plane more times than I had by the time I was 30.  We go to restaurants and the library, and while I hesitate to spend $14 on a movie ticket when I’m sure he’ll spend most of the time climbing on the seats, he’s been to several free outdoor movie nights.  We’re doing ok.

We’ll see what opportunities October brings, and what memories we can make.

So It Begins

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I started back up at work on Monday.  This year, I don’t know, felt different – in a good way.  I don’t know if I was just feeling especially good after having finally gotten the house under control, or that I was feeling particularly rejuvenated after actually getting up with my alarm, having a nice shower, and having time to apply makeup and eat a decent breakfast (while listening to one of my favorite podcasts), for once.

But whatever it was, I just felt, I don’t know… on.  Like, on form; sociable, confident, relaxed (or at least as relaxed as I ever get, which, granted, is several notches above baseline for most people).  I felt productive, I felt connected to the students and staff, and conversation was fun and fluid, all of which are often challenges for me.  I don’t know if it was my resolve to start changing these things about myself, or the scaffolding I put in place to make the mornings (and subsequently, rest of the day) run more smoothly, but whatever it was, it apparently worked.  It was a great first few days back.

And I am so, so glad I have a four day weekend, because damned if that shizz didn’t drain all my energy.

But I feel good.  I feel like things on the job front have gotten off to a good, fresh start, and I’m happy to return Tuesday to my new assignment, and to resume my vocational duties (one of my favorite parts of my job) later in September.  And it leaves me free to divert the energy expended on school prep the last few weeks back to things like creating and maintaining a managable schedule for my hobby time, and for my weight management (both of which fell by the wayside – again – in the last few weeks).

To those of you fellow educators recently returned to work, I hope you likewise had a smooth transition back to the daily grind.  To those parents sending their kids back to school after the summer, we are ready for them.

2 down, 178 to go.