16 May 2013
29 January 2012
It started with planning. Planning meals, planning events, planning homework schedules. The planning became a compulsion, a temporary world where (if the spreadsheet was done right and the colors complemented each other) everything made sense. Planning gave her a sense of power and a feeling of control. She liked the control. Control of the order in which the house was going to be cleaned, the number of loads of laundry that would be completed, or the vision of a sparkling clean and peaceful home. The order and plan varied by project, naturally. But the picture in her brain of the end result...that stayed the same. At the end of the day, there was always to be a spotless home, a warm cup of coffee, candles flickering with tropical scents, all her homework assignments complete, and the serene quiet that is only really yearned for by heavy metal roadies and mothers of toddlers.
Mediocrity became her arch enemy, and done well and half-assed became synonymous. Somehow, she felt that if their household was organized and her desired level of perfection attained, the feelings of peace and accomplishment would overshadow the emotions she fought tirelessly to ignore. The longing to have her husband home, the dull ache in her stomach as she waited for the phone to ring, and the fear that the phone would not ring, and that she could easily become one of the many that...well, you know. As long as their home stayed dust free and in precise order, the dust covered Afghanistan would somehow balance karmically and keep her husband safe. She knew the thought process was as senseless as some of the war casualties were, and she knew that if life were to change, the absoluteness of the situation wouldn't be altered or sugar coated by a clean bathroom floor or laundered curtains. But she scrubbed and washed, nonetheless, until everything shone and smelled pleasantly of bleached flowers.
Bit by bit, she worked her way through their home. Meticulously wiping, scrubbing, vacuuming and rinsing every inch of reachable space. Nothing left undone, for fear that it would mess up the order of the never ending task. Although two pets and the spastic three year old loin fruit rendered the task of cleaning down to little more than a vicious, lavender scented circle, she scoured every inch of the self-imposed first circle of Hell like each stroke of the sponge put a gallon of fuel into her husband's plane home.
The plastic doctor's kits and floppy brown slices of apple became par for the course, and were picked up daily without thought. Spiderman stretched proudly across the comforter that was tucked in neatly every day, and the dinosaurs knew better than to stay the night with the train sets or the puzzles. Once the task of righting the toddler-topia was complete, she would move to their room. Although it had long since felt like her room, she worked around it as though doing it wrong would make him uncomfortable. So she continued to fix the sheets on his side of the bed just the way he liked them. Sometimes she'd pretend that he would be there to sleep under them that night, and sometimes she'd allow the knowledge that she'd sleep alone again. In either event, she'd convince a smile onto her face and keep tucking, as though tucking the bedding tightly enough would coax her sanity to stay in place, too. She kept his soaps and razors in the shower caddy, although they were so light from being nearly empty that the bottles frequently fell down onto her head when the caddy was bumped. She put the t-shirts of his that she wore back in his bureau, even though she was the only one there to take them out and wear them. She left his cologne taking up space on the shelf, missing his scent but terrified that if she smelled it, the emotions would take over. So there it sat and there it would stay, dust free and full of the smell of the love she missed, encased in green glass and silent mocking.
Most days she was able to ignore the pain and loneliness. Even when their son cried relentlessly for Daddy. Even on those days, she was able to keep a brave face and provide comfort. But some days...some days, being human took hold. Some days she would cry relentlessly with the boy, and they would hug each other back into solace. But those days, the days when humanity flexed its awful grip, the glorious feelings brought on by cleaning, organizing, and perfection came to a screeching halt. The glorious feelings were then replaced by feelings of anxiety, discomfort, and fury with the marital dislocation. Most times, she was able to push them down so they weren't so overwhelming, so it was just enough to feel like things weren't the way they were supposed to be. Like when you pick up a pencil and your brain and hand don't agree, so the pencil takes flight. Easily remedied, but still askew and still all her fault. Still needing to be fixed, regardless of the situation the repair interrupted.
It wasn't all bad, though. The hard work and exhaustion, whether from algebraic equations or furniture polishing (or, more often than not, both) were rewarding. For each dish put away clean, each sheet smoothed and pillow plumped, each paper typed and resource cited, she checked off a block on her mental list that equated to keeping up her end of the bargain. She'd traded in her dusty boots and guns in favor of securing the home front, and she would be damned if their home ran like anything other than a Swiss timepiece. As long as he was away, she'd keep the world they'd built in order.
As long as nothing was out of place, in her mind, he was safe.
05 January 2012
Part of the funFunFUN of airplanes and airports are seeing people at what they think is their best. They've prepared, scheduled, squeezed the air out of space saving bags, and long term parked. They've caffed, they've coiffed, and they're ready to fly the friendly skies, bitch. Exhibit A:
You think I googled that? Think again, baby. She and her shiny pleather aura of awesomeness were three rows in front of me. She was here, she was in lamineer, and everybody was going to have to get used to it.
Except me. I just snapped a picture and made a mental note. Because there's nothing I like more than a good ole fashioned verbal point and laugh.
What I do not like are surprises. I am an early arriver at airports. I abide by the three ounce rule, and make sure that everything is in its quart-sized zip lock bag. I adhere to the carry-on size and ratio. I take my laptop out of its case and give it its own security bucket. I don't wear belts or jewelry, so as not to take too much time and inconvenience my fellow travelers.
They tell you that you can book seats ahead of time...one of the perks of buying the tickets early, I suppose. I know that it was supposed to be that way, too, because I looked at the seat numbers, and was pleased that we weren't tucked soundly in the ass of the plane like we were on the flight out. 12C and D sounded like super duper seats. After biting the bullet and paying the $50 to check two bags, I wrangled the backpack, small duffel, purse, and Spawn-on-a-String (or Drew on a monkey leash, if you prefer) through security and the small cafe. After securing Midget Bait (Twizzlers) and Mommy's Go Juice, we settled our butts on the ground near the gate. We sat, he with the iPad and I with my Parents magazine, munching Twizzlers and relaxing. The intercom bing-bonged, and I heard them page those poor saps...you know, the sad few always stuck in standby purgatory. I'm sure you can imagine the sadness I felt when our last name echoed across the thriving five-gate terminal. I shoved our shit back into our carry-ons and dragged the boy and his half-chewed Twizzler up to the podium, where we were handed two paper stubs. I glanced down, my gaze greeted by the seat numbers 4a and 5c.
What on United Airline's green, expansive, everloving earth was I supposed to do with THAT? As much as I'd enjoy a silent-ish plane ride minus my offspring, I'm fairly certain that the Mom handbook forbids placing your three year old with a stranger on a flight. I think it was in the same chapter as not leaving them on a city bus or allowing them to attend the Warped Tour at 12. Anywho, upon explaining the issue to the very sweet flight attendant, she rolled her eyes in sympathy and pointed to one side, instructing me to take two seats on one side, and then plead my case to whomever was actually supposed to sit next to my child. Thanks, United Airlines, for entrusting my child to someone who may or may not be required to update their living location every ninety days to their local law enforcement agency.
We weren't seated long. Basically, just long enough to settle the boy and our carry-on circus. And then we were greeted by the sneer of what I'm pretty sure the guy on Nighmare Before Christmas looked like before he lost his skin to skeleton-ism. As he glared down his Burton-esque nose, I explained what the airline had done. As I stuttered the words, I looked at the stupid paper stubs, and realized that I'd gone a row too far. As I wrestled our entourage o' crap to the preceding row under the condemnatory gaze of Airbus McPissypants, we were lucky enough to discover his wife, Puffy McPissypants. Our introduction consisted of the same disapproving gaze in our direction, breaking it only briefly to look pointedly over her shoulder at the FOUR people behind her. In fact, she was so busy not-so-subtly indicating that we were holding up boarding that she didn't notice my leather and reproductive baggage trying to squeeze by her massive, flower-clad, Charlie scented corpulence.
My apologetic motivation and stupidity tolerance waned. Well, they didn't so much wane as disappear, and were promptly replaced by visible irritation and my stern voice. I fought the urge to shout that her wrinkly popover cleavage was not only in my way, but also visual pollution. Sweetly, I explained that if she wanted us out of their seats, she needed to back up a bit and give us some room. She sighed heavily, and scooted back. I settled us down again and seethed. I seethed about the injustice of the cost of checked baggage, the injustice of being tired, and the injustice of the airline's carelessness in assigning a toddler a seat that was not parental adjacent. My silence was rapidly rewarded, though. As soon as they were seated, she began to nag at her husband. From family issues to her discomfort with flying (and flying coach, perish the thought), she wove a verbal web of contempt and loathing that made her sound like nothing short of a lovechild of Dr. Laura and Salinger. Smiling at the slight victory, I hugged the boy and cracked the December issue of Martha.
I shouldn't have smiled. My triumph lasted only as long as the tray tables were in an up and locked position.
As soon as Puffy McMonsterbitch was allowed, she dropped her tray table and began to consume a Ceasar salad of comic proportions. Seriously. This thing was roughly the size of the bottomless Olive Garden salad bowl, and smelled like low tide on the Hudson. After she warthogged through it, she passed out snoring at a decibel that furthered the illusion that we were, in fact, tugboating through NYC.
There are a few morals to this story:
Number one: Booking seats when you purchase a ticket does not guarantee said seats. Number two: When needing to vent on a plane, it's a good plan to have a charged laptop and the gift of wit. Number three: When traveling during the holidays and are surrounded by assholery and embossed gold jackets, just smile and think about the power of the internet and camera enabled cell phones. Because now that it's all said and done, I get to show y'all this shit:
09 October 2011
Fall has arrived, everyone! Things are apple and vanilla scented, stores are boasting everything from frozen turkey to Christmas trees, and neighborhood porches are encrusted with maniacally grinning orange gourds. It’s also getting chilly, which signals the beginning of the Great Winter Couch Potato Race! Rather than save your cleaning for spring, why not get some of it done now? Make some room for those holiday gifts, and decluttering will make the house much more bearable during those dark winter months. I promise.
1. Set it up the night before.
I know this sounds simple, and I know it’s something that a lot of people do. But taking it to an extreme is easier at night, and leads to a MUCH simpler morning. Need your morning cup of go juice? Preset your coffee maker. Kids scrambling in the morning to find their backpack stuffers?
Suck up the extra energy it takes to find all the homework and permission slips, and get it all in there the night before. Do the kids eat at home in the morning? Set out bowls, spoons, oatmeal packets, etc. For kids that can’t pick out their own clothes and get dressed (or for kids that will come downstairs in a tutu and cowboy boots if left to their own devices), set aside a drawer or use a cloth hanging organizer in the closet. Then, when folding the mountains of cartoon underwear and t shirts, set aside a week’s worth of outfits. Slide them into the drawer or organizer; and you’re set for the week!
2. Look at your coat closet.
Seriously. Open it up, tilt your head, and squint one eye. Pretend you aren’t you, but a neighbor/friend/family member. Okay, maybe not friend, because it is a cardinal rule in female friendship that you may not judge another Mom’s coat closet. Anyway, take a gander at it. How many coats are hanging? How many shoes are scattered around? Backpacks? Purses? Crayons, kites, neighbor children? Figure out what you need in that closet, and set it aside. What else is in there? Set aside the items that should be put away in other places. Be honest, we don’t need seven pairs of shoes per person in the coat closet. Or, if you do (and you have the type of door that permits it) buy a plastic shoe organizer and hang it on the door. Presto –change-o, floor space! Next, are there extra coats that are in there, but don’t get used? Perhaps they have been outgrown, or one of the munchkins decided they hate purple now. If you can use them again, pack them away. Now, I understand that letting go of things is hard. We love our children, and many times have emotional attachment to the memories that happened in the clothing. Repeat after me: “Getting rid of a BLANK does not make me a bad parent, and does not take away my memories!” Now pack that purple jacket in the donation box mentioned in the next tip, and move on!
3. Boxes, boxes everywhere….
Got some boxes? Cardboard, plastic totes, or footlockers? (We Military folk move a lot, so we all know about the empty boxes hidden away.) Grab a few empties, and designate some general purposes for them. Now that many of the Armed Services require members to arrive hauling every green and tan piece of equipment known to man, it is likely that there are many oddball pieces floating around. And, if you are like me, the stray pieces left after deployment packing were shoved into a closet. Unfortunately, out of sight, out of mind doesn’t work when the stuff ends up teetering precariously on a shelf of an often-used closet. Empty footlockers? Start by putting the equipment in there. If you’re feeling particularly froggy, you can separate the equipment from the clothing, separate it by seasonal use, and even label them with the contents. Voila, packing for the field no longer requires a prayer and a 10 digit grid coordinate!
4. Storage is a Mom’s Best Friend.
Plastic bins are great for seasonal decorations, crafts, and clothing that aren’t immediately necessary. If you don’t have plastic totes with lids, I suggest acquiring some. They aren’t super cheap, but they are worth their weight in organizational gold when you’re getting your life streamlined. They can be found at any Wal Mart or Target, and occasionally on places like Craigslist and Freecycle. Keep your eyes open, and opportunities for these sweet, stackable babies will cross your path.
5. Donate, Donate, Donate!
Big cardboard boxes (like those left over from household goods shipments) are great for donations. Toys, clothes, jackets and shoes are always appreciated this time of year, as are decorations that no longer fit your home and costumes that no longer fit your ankle biters. Drop them off at any ARC, Salvation Army, or Goodwill, and they will be thrilled to have them. Or, if you are busy and selfish about your free time (like I am), the Yahoo group Freecycle allows you to create a free local account. Then you post your offerings, and people will come pick them up. Not at home when they’re coming, or don’t want strangers in your house? Close the box, slap a note on top and let them know it will be a porch or curb pick up. Easy peasy!
6. Dress your closets for success.
I l I liked the snappy title of this, but it by no means applies only to closets. This is also for dressers, bureaus, and overflowing laundry baskets. We all have our “skinny” jeans, the shirts we don’t wear anymore, and the holey granny-panties. Start by going through and pulling out things you just don’t wear. I don’t care how much your BFF swore you’d be able to wear that mint-green bridesmaid dress again, she was wrong. Reach down and grab the inner seething you endured when you had to buy it, and set it free. Shoes that fit before you had your kids? I don’t care how much weight you lose, your feet aren’t going to shrink. Let your foot misfortune bring joy to someone else, and donate them. Purses from yesteryear? If they are too small to hold everything you need and aren’t dedicated to a specific outing (clutches for dress up occasions, for example) lose ‘em. After all that is gone, take out the things that you don’t wear often, and put them into a storage container, and put the storage container away from your closet. Wait thirty days. After thirty days, keep only the clothes you had to retrieve during the month and actually wore. If you didn't need anything, donate the box. Don’t open it, don’t double check. If you didn't get it out for a month, you don’t use it.
Okay, we’ve gone through a lot of information. And just thinking about organizing everything in your life can be exhausting, let alone actually doing it. Take it a bit at a time, or get on a roll! However you choose to streamline your life, remember that your hard work will pay off!
13 September 2011
There are days the panic starts to take over.
You know it won’t last. You know it’s just a bad day, and bad days are bound to happen. They will creep in, unexpected, like a frost that heating off of your car makes you late for work. They will rear their tiny, ugly heads, like an English folk creature that won’t leave your kitchen until you provide the object it’s been looking for, or a cockroach that has taken up residence under your refrigerator.
Days that you wonder what you’re going to do, how you’re going to do it, and if it’s what you’re supposed to be doing. It’s so easy to ignore the big questions and just keep pushing forward, because momentum is good. It makes you feel like something is getting accomplished.
But at what point do the cold cups of coffee, and trips to the potty, and term papers start to become blurry and inane? At what point do you simply avoid reaching out for comfort or solace? Because when you really, really needed it from the one you’re working so hard to emotionally support, and it’s not returned. It’s not rational, not logical, not fair. And when you ask, you’re scoffed at.
That bad day…that gnawing, aching pain that rests in your shoulders, your stomach. That bad day that makes you feel like you could crawl out of your skin. That bad day that caused a fight, and then the phone line stopped working. Stupid third world cell phones. Stupid Fights. Stupid bad days. Stupid that I didn’t say I love you before the phone died. Sorry I brought up anything to cause a fight. Sorry that unless you’re here, a house is not a home.
I’m sorry for my bad day.
06 September 2011
I'm looking for a bike so I can learn to ride. Something in good condition, since I know nothing about bicycles. I don't need anything huge.
OFFER: some pink and some purple toole (Fountain,CO) some small bits of pink toole some large parts ofpurple toole toole= see through lacey stuff like ballet dancers wear or decor around windows.
WANTED: 99 Ply Voyager parts (manitou ) Both visors w/brackets,drivers headlight assy., full size rim/spare, travel/stow gear,window sunscreens,tires, hubcap if match or 2 or 4. Thanks Freecycler
OFFER: 2 twin comforters (Springs Ranch ) I have two holey twin comforters. One is GI Joe and I think the other is blue and green. A dog we were watching got a hold of them. They are washed.
WANTED: gps navigator (80923) get lost all the time.
able to move it out yourself with at least 1 or 2 other strong persons, very heavy.
OFFER: pencils (80910) pencils - enough that I can't get my hand around them all. The erasers are hardened. When responding, please include a window of time on which day(s) you'll be able to pick up.
OFFER: full sized futon matress ( rockrimmon) Also have a frame at seperate location
They appear to be Christian books? What, are they wearing masks?
OFFER: manual breast pump & pads (80910 ) had a no show. good condition.
WANTED: FeaTHERS, FEATHERS, FeaTHers, (central) Does anybody have any feathers?????
28 August 2011
I’m fully aware that this is the first blog I’ve written in, like, six months. It should probably be a piece riddled with beautiful, Soldier adulating prose.
Maybe next week. Today I’m pissy, I haven’t talked to my husband, and the underwire broke in my bra. The clouds keep coming in, and there's just a tiny bit of rain. Then the clouds part and we're back to the miserable hot that makes me grumpy enough to punch a kitten.
Despite the oven-like heat, the fall semester has started, which means a few things:
I am already officially frustrated with the classes that I thought would come most easily to me.
Campus is swarming with every 17 year old flippy haired, patchouli smelling high school graduate in Colorado Springs (except for those going to actual colleges).
I can now purchase candles and plug ins that make my house smell like baked goods. Fall and winter are the only two seasons where cinnamon, apple, or coffee scented things are allowed in my home. Otherwise, I'd gain another hundred pounds and you'd find me sitting in my closet, eating carrot cake mix out of the box. I'm just saying.
We're almost ninety days into this CRAPCRAPMEGACRAP deployment. It feels like it's moving at a snail's pace (if the snail were on crutches and in high heels). But ninety days is three months, and three months is a quarter of the deployment down. I guess 25% isn't so small, percentage wise. Hells bells, those math classes are paying off.
It also means that we're creeping up on the Midget's third birthday, and the first Halloween that he'll actually have some understanding of what's going on. It's a double edged sword, though, his understanding Halloween. Sure, he can walk on his own, he's old enough to pronounce “trick or treat”, and he's decided to dress as Daddy, which is the cutest EFFING thing I've ever seen. I know, I know, it really seems like any down side would be simply overshadowed by all of this, right? WRONG.
“Why?” You ask?
Because, people, genetics are a BITCH. He loves all the candy I love, which means that I either have to sneak the good pieces out (hello, Reese’s, you delicious mofos) or actually share. I think it’s crap, to be honest. I thought that one of the simple pleasures of parenting a toddler was getting the good candy. I mean, I bought the costume, I’m the one taking him out in the cold and making sure he doesn’t get hit by a car or doesn’t end up on a milk carton.
I think I may have found the only acceptable solution.
I’m telling him the good candy tastes like vegetables.