Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Last days of summer

The shift from summer to fall is somewhat meaningless in Southern California. By mid-September we still face potentially a month of triple digit temperatures; no rain or chilly air will be felt until Thanksgiving, possibly even Christmas. Not complaining, mind you. It's just an odd fact I have not gotten used to even after 23 years "out here" as I like to call it. I tell Bobby fall is coming as I switch on the air conditioner and make sure they have plenty of ice water to get through the night. Cognitive dissonance at its best.

Last weekend I took the kids for haircuts, bought them used shoes and Halloween costumes (monkey for Theo, skeleton pirate for Bobby), took them to a playground, took them in the hot tub for desultory swimming lessons, and took Bobby to his very first concert, Kraftwerk in 3D at the Hollywood Bowl. He was very well behaved and loved it. The people around us gave him fist bumps and called him "little dude". I'm sure he'll never remember this, but I will.

I am still scrambling to tie up loose ends from my event - pay the hotel bill, follow up on uncashed checks, send an awkward email banning that guy from attending my event again - but I feel a lot more on top of it now than I did a week ago. I am hoping to tear down my old termite-ridden shed and build a new one in the next few weeks so I can finally have some proper storage for my event stuff, which is taking over the house.

I am also hoping to do a bit of refurbishment on myself, too. Maybe it's a mid-life crisis thing, maybe it's a the kids are finally getting older thing, but now that we are out of the high maintenance baby years and I have a sense of what my body will be like for the foreseeable future, I want to overhaul my general look. For a very long time I've been in ethnic hippie mode; as much as I love that stuff, I'm kind of sick of it. Also I feel like being a mom softens me up enough so I feel I'd rather harden up my look a bit. I went to Old Navy today and scored big time - looking for a combination of mod/punk/ska/80s/60s/50s stuff. My inspiration is the kick-ass Teddy girls of Britain in the 1950s. I think their general spirit embodies everything I think I am and still aspire to be:

It's nice to get to the point where you can focus on yourself a little, you know?

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


I believe this drawing by 4 1/2 year old Bobby sums up my attitude towards parenting right now:

I am still exhausted and fed up from the event, which is not helping, but oh man, is going back to being (nearly) full-time single mommy to two kids under five is fucking brutal. Once again I find myself gritting my teeth through each day with my endless mantra, ihatethisihatethisihatethis running through my head. 

Everything is a fight. Everything is a threat of punishment to get even the most basic things accomplished - putting shoes on, eating, peeing. I love that my kid (Bobby) is so irreverent and questioning of authority. But you know what I've discovered? Behind every awesome, kick-ass adult is an exhausted mother. There are memes going around Facebook of mothers praising their daughters' independence but wishing that independence wasn't asserting itself right now, in this supermarket. Right?

I don't know what the answer to this is. Does parenting ever get easier? More often these days I feel like it's gotten harder, not easier, as we shed the baby years and go full throttle into big kid stuff. And will only continue to get harder as they become less gullible and less easy to please. 

But five years into this game, I definitely still have the Stay at Home Mom Blues. I am considering having Theo at school five days a week instead of three, even if that will cost $300 more a month. I feel guilty even thinking about it. I may never make the call. But I am considering it. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Number nineteen

Well, back to our stupid lives!!!

Number nineteen (my nineteenth event) is in the bag. It went well. I don't even want to look at my bank account until all the checks have been cashed, my $10,000 hotel bill has been paid, and my credit card bill. Only then will I really know how I did. But it was a record year, so I'm not concerned.

The event wasn't without drama. My worst fear - that my bandleader's wife would go into labor two weeks early and leave the entire event rudderless - happened. We had a contingency plan, of course - but it meant a lot of careful guidance on my part; the guy left in charge of the band and contest music was a bit panicked and needed tons of handholding from me, and many disasters were narrowly averted. 

Some of my old friends ended up being real troublemakers. I am faced with the unpleasant task of banning someone who's been to every event since 1998 because apparently he's been preying on women the whole time, unbeknownst to me (oh, hi, Code of Conduct). And one friend attempting a comeback and failing has been railing on Facebook about how my judges suck, I suck, the event sucks, I only care about making money, with resultant sycophants cheering him on.

You know, the usual. 

In the past this kind of stuff would freak me the fuck out. Now? Meh. They'll all settle down. Maybe I'm getting used to handling malignant narcissists.

My tabulator came with his wife who has been battling stage 4 colon cancer. She was thin and frail, but she's here. A shag dancer in our circles who had been battling ovarian cancer died Monday morning. She was 31. 

And my bandleader is a new daddy. Sunrise, sunset. The profundity of this is not lost on me.

For now I'm still scrambling to tie up loose ends, get some rest, and reconnect with the mommy in me that has to be pushed aside for a few weeks each summer. Perhaps later I'll roll around naked in my money. I believe I've earned that.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Some kind of balance

In one week my event begins. I would say that I am a stress ball, but I'm not. There is very little left on my to-do list. Still more than I'd like at this point, but very little in the scheme of things.

The event is still shaping up to be my largest ever, with resultant multiplying issues and problems. We're all a little unprepared for an event of this magnitude. And with next year as my big 20 year celebration, I'm sure we'll have a similar experience. But in 2018 - what then? Still good attendance? A huge crash? These are questions we swing dance entrepreneurs have been asking ourselves since 1998, and yet we're still here. 

I am exhausted from long nights of paperwork and days of compulsive email and social media checking, yet am so hyped up that sitting quietly is kind of impossible, as much as I think I want that.

That is one thing about having a family - you have to be present for them; you have no choice. Right now diapers have to be changed, meals have to be cooked (and, of course, deposited in the garbage disposal untouched), baths administered, laundry done, etc etc. And like it or not, it does drag me out of the all-consuming insanity that the event becomes each summer. Tomorrow is the last weekend pre-event and I have to entertain them all day; I'm taking them to the baby kennel for a little while on Sunday but still have to make breakfast, dinner, etc. There will be no work accomplished for the next two days. And honestly, that is a good thing. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Quiet desperation

I'm sitting at a tire place getting a flat tire repaired. I got it on the freeway last night on my way to the hotel to meet my new floor guy to take measurements. Good times. Still, no harm done - got the car up and moving, did the walk through, and got home by midnight. Thank goodness for flexible babysitters and AAA.

I had lunch with my old Nemesis the other day - which I do often. We have maintained a very positive and enjoyable friendship despite my all-consuming jealousy of her initially; I'm so glad I kept it to myself and just let it (eventually) pass as we both went on to have two children and live (mostly) happy lives. She was laid off from a high powered executive job in November and has not been able to get a new job since despite endless interviews and resume send outs. I really feel for her - I can't imagine trying to find a job in today's environment. Then she tells me - as I had suspected when she walked in - that she is pregnant again, and is in utter despair about it. She had no intention of ever having a third child and is distraught that this will make ever resuming her career that much more difficult. I really felt for her. Despite one mumsy moment when I had Theo, I quickly realized a third child in our lives would be an utter disaster, and push things from my usual "barely hanging on by the tip of my fingernails" to just falling right off that cliff. 

It's so funny how you go from being desperate to not have a baby to being desperate to have a baby to being desperate to not have a baby. I wonder how many third babies are brought into the world being unwanted but grudgingly tolerated. I wonder how many women of more than two children are boiling cauldrons of resentment. 

Is this why women in the sixties lived under hazes of Valium and booze?

I feel like there is a tipping point between two children being manageable and still being able to have somewhat of a life and having three and giving over to being consumed by family life. And many people want this, and that's great. But for me - no. Not one bit. I'm barely cutting it as it is, and this is only because I spend thousands a month on childcare even though I'm technically a stay at home mom. 

To those of you who adore little children and want nothing more to be in their presence, I salute you. The world needs you and you are awesome. I, on the other hand, especially this time of year when I have mountains of work and 800 other people that need my attention, am not that person.

Even though Bobby is starting kindergarten in just a year, I often despair when I think of how many years of my life are still going to be devoted to "little kid" stuff - diapers, major food issues, having to do everything for three people. It's three more years of having a preschooler when it comes to Theo; and when Bobby starts kindergarten our lives are going to turn upside down and not in a good way. We'll have to be up at 6 AM every day for the rest of our lives, and to try to align Theo's preschool schedule with Bobby's kindergarten schedule will cost about $1000 more a month, and even then I'll still be doing full childcare four days a week. The years 2017-2019 are going to suck. So I am going to enjoy this last leisurely year to the fullest. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Superman in heels

This is Bobby modeling his superman cape and my shoes from last night's gig.

I'm delighted when I think how cool and progressive our kids are going to be. It all starts with momma's heels.

Tomorrow we finally get together with Bobby & Theo's "diblings" - twin girls about to turn three. For now I have decided to not make a big deal about it and just tell Bobby we're meeting up with friends - we'll be at a playground where all four kids will probably run off in four directions anyway - and if it becomes a regular thing then maybe have "the talk" about his origins and who these girls are. I think that would all be over his head at the moment and he hasn't asked so I haven't been in a rush to tell him. He knows we're just a mommy family (without use of the word "just" of course!) and that he mysteriously came out of my belly, but that's about it. 

I am flirting with the idea of starting a Facebook group with our donor number to see if anyone finds us. I'll run it by the girls' moms and see if they'd be interested. Even though much of my interest in donor siblings has waned since having Theo (largely just because my plate is more than full at the moment) I do still think it would be great to have a network of half-siblings for the boys if they want access some day.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Three weeks

Today I came home to the puzzling sight of my garage door closed. But it didn't look like my garage door - it was so dark from years of dirt from not being used that it looked like a cool vintage-y copper door, which in my foolishness I thought someone had "surprise" installed for me, like the BF or my sister or the neighborhood council that once painted over all the graffiti on the garage walls. But upon closer look it was in fact my old door just pulled down (years ago the automatic door closer stopped working and I just never fixed it) - and as I bent down to wrench it open, I smelled the stench of stale cigarettes, and to my horror, discovered a homeless guy camped out in there with all his stuff. 

I blurted out, "excuse me!!! I need to park here now!" And he grumbled some curses at me and trundled along, leaving all his crap behind for me to clean up, not to mention all my wires pulled down and everything just a big mess. 

I'm pretty rattled. That garage has been the bane of my existence for some time, but to make it so I can fit an actual car in it and close the door might require extensive and expensive (and possibly not even permittable) renovations. Still, I think it's time I get an estimate. If nothing else it can be something I can work towards. Between my garage being vandalized, my car repeatedly broken into, and now this, I think I need to just find the money. 

In other news, Bobby's poop situation is *somewhat* resolved. It culminated in me just having to pin him down and clean him out and put on balm over and over and then force him to sit on the potty and poop every night, all amidst screaming and crying. It's been a nightmare. But at least we're at the end of the nightmare. 

There are only three full weeks left until my event. I have to work my butt off every day and every night until Labor Day. I feel like I can do it...I think I can do it. In the meantime in between answering emails we did get a lovely couple of hours in the park today.