Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Film Teacher

I so often hear the question asked, "have you ever been in love?" If someone ever asked me this, I wouldn't know how to answer. At forty years old, I don't really know what romantic love between two people is. Is it physical attraction? Codependency? Relief at not being alone? Excitement over a big fairytale wedding? Compatibility? I don't know. But just for the sake of argument let's say it's like in the movies, where you are completely obsessed with someone, you would die without them, and even the mention of their name makes you tear up with how amazing it is that you found each other. I had this once. I was a seventeen-year-old high school senior and he was my twenty-eight-year-old college film teacher.

It was the fall of 1989. I was graduating from high school a half year early because I hated it. Don't get me wrong, I was good at it - I was valedictorian after all - but I HATED it. I couldn't wait to graduate and get on with my life. And my life, despite my stellar grades, did not include plans of college. Why? Well, in my family's screwed up anti-establishment value system, college was a waste of time and money. My mother flat out told me if I wanted to go to college she would not support me and would not help me pay for it. But I did not have another plan for myself. To say I was scared and adrift at that point is putting it mildly.

However I did love movies and was intent on becoming a filmmaker. I had started taking film production courses at a nearby college at the beginning of my senior year. My first class, Film Production 101, was taught by a nerdy, overweight, but devilishly smart and charismatic teacher named John. He was one of those guys who knew he had no "game" so correctly worked on his intellect and charm to attract women. And boy did he.

At the end of class we all went out to a bar to hang out (this was at a time in New York where seventeen-year-olds could get into bars), and soon enough the two of us were left alone, talking about movies (do you see a pattern here from my previous posts...?) And guess what - turns out he was - everybody, now - JUST MY TYPE.

He suggested I see the movie Don't Look Now. It is an incredible, disturbing nightmare of a movie (I could never handle watching that today - no sir). There is a very interesting sex scene in it which is shot backwards. When he called me a couple of days later to ask me if I'd seen it, I remember saying to myself, "if he asks me about the sex scene, it means he's interested." And he did. And we started dating.

Right about now you're probably thinking, um, how did you, an underage girl, date a man eleven years your senior, your teacher no less? Where was your mother? The answer is - not around! At fourteen I had moved in with my twenty-four-year-old sister in our new stepdad's studio apartment in the East Village while the new stepdad moved in with my mother in our midtown studio apartment. At the time this seemed perfectly normal - and I was thrilled to be "on my own", and in that neighborhood, which I loved. However this gives an indication of my mother's judgment and priorities at the time. So to say I was left to my own devices is an understatement. And young girls like that, especially ones with daddy issues already, are perfect prey for people like John.

That's not to say John was a "predator". Just for the record I never slept with him (much to his chagrin). I think he was just a mixed up guy with a hyperactive romantic sensibility, a drinking problem, and as it turned out a coke problem. Immediately we were "in love", "engaged", and far more complicatedly, both working at the same video store. It got even more complicated when he was fired and I continued to work there. It was the only time he ever got physical with me - he grabbed my neck and shoved me against a wall. It remains the first and last time anyone ever did anything like that to me. I should have ended it there. But I was "in love"! We were going to get married! He often threatened me no one would ever love me like he did. And you know what - turns out he was right. But I'm not convinced that's a bad thing.

Our relationship was completely nuts. We were totally obsessed with each other for upwards of a year. We would have knock-down, drag-out fights, over everything and anything; his ex-girlfriend still contacting him, my refusal to sleep with him, his hatred of my mother (he was kind of right about her, I have to admit), my not leaving my job in protest because he'd been fired. I remember standing on the street and his yelling at me to "get the fuck out of my life!!" and me storming off. That's how ridiculous it got.

I knew I needed to end it by fall of 1990 but quite honestly I was scared of him. He often threatened that something bad would happen to me if I tried to leave him; he was using more coke, showing up on my doorstep in the middle of the night; it was a nightmare. But bizarrely, it ended with a whimper. One day I screwed up my courage to tell him over the phone that I didn't want to see him anymore, and that was it! He said he knew it had to end, too, and it was for the best. And that was that.

I went into a bit of a depression after. I still didn't have a clue how to achieve any of my goals, all of my high school friends were gone to college, I was hideously lonely, and living a hard low-income life in a shitty neighborhood. It was my Working Class Hero years. Doesn't it suck that when you're at your physical peak you're usually the most shiftless and miserable?

I have to admit I chased that "love" dragon for a long, long time, always with John's curse haunting me, that nobody would ever love me the way he did. The first time we kissed I actually felt an electric shock run through my body. So again I ask the question, is that kind of passion just for the young and stupid? Honestly I don't think I'd have time for that BS today. If someone were that into me right away today I'd think they were nuts (and they probably would be). And I do wonder what he thinks about it today. Does he, like me, consider that episode an example of "amour fou"? Just two people at the right time with the right emotional scars coming together to create a big dysfunctional mess? Or does he consider it a great romance? Depending on your world view it could really go either way. A lot of people do in fact consider relationships like ours "love". Again I have no clue what love between two people is, but one thing I do know is that ain't it!

The Australian

Due to popular demand (one person asking is popular demand, right?), here is another story from my dating past. Gather round.

It's the fall of 2008. After three years of psychological torture and the loss of upwards of $200,000, I have at last managed to pawn off the fourplex I bought in New Orleans that was days later wrecked by Katrina off on some poor sucker. And not a moment too soon, as vandals had been tearing it apart for months and my insurance had canceled me for suing them, and little did we all know within weeks the world economy would collapse rendering risky loans like my buyer's completely impossible. But sell it I did, leaving me $100,000 in debt, however FREE of that terrible burden at last. I also had recently jettisoned my mother and childhood religion and made the decision that I was going to "get happy". All my friends were married and having kids. At 36 this was looking less and less likely for me, so I decided it was time to travel the world and see all the Great Wonders. I decided to start with the Pyramids.

I booked a cruise called the Three Continents cruise which would start in Athens and then land in Egypt, Cyprus, Israel, Turkey, and finally Mykonos and Santorini. I was traveling solo for the first time since a disastrous trip to England at 20. It was going to be a great adventure.

The cruise it turned out was a bit of a party boat. There were groups of Australians and Brits and Canadians that stayed out on deck partying all night. There was a lot of drinking, which I'm not into at all. But like every contestant on every reality competition show has stated from the beginning of time, I wasn't there to "make friends". I kept to myself and enjoyed the utter madness of Cairo and visiting the holy sites in Israel which was very bitter for me having just broken away from an intense Christian cult shortly before. I found a lot of comfort in the impossibly irreverent Australians who to me were like Americans on crack - totally loud, tacky, and disrespectful. I was digging them. They had the balls to say what I felt about all the religious sites we were visiting, and I respected that.

One Australian in particular caught my eye but I didn't dare act on it - a single guy about my age with a certain John Lennon-like swagger named Cameron. He was traveling alone, too, and had the charming habit of helping the old ladies on and off our tourist coach, making sure they were comfortable and safe. He seemed like a really sweet guy, and I thought he was Just My Type (you may come to the realization that just about anyone is Just My Type). But he seemed to be fooling around with one of the bawdy Canadian girls, and I thought ugh, the trip was only ten days, what was the point of trying to strike up something there? I didn't dare make a play for this person and potentially ruin my trip if I were spurned. Still one day he was standing alone on the deck of our cruise ship and I forced myself to go talk to him, and as it turned out we got on like a house on fire. From that moment on we were pretty inseparable.

He was from an industrial mining-type area of eastern Australia (kind of like our Philadelphia), he worked as an advocate for the disabled (he placed disabled people in suitable jobs - probably hence his solicitous nature when it came to caring for the older members of our party), he was a singer/songwriter and quite a good one. We spent hours singing songs together and talking about our favorite bands, and movies, and relationships, and religion, and lives.

One night he was in my cabin after dinner and we had that wonderful moment where he screwed up his courage to ask me if I had feelings for him, to which I said I did, and he said he did for me, too, and had been interested in me from the moment he saw me in the hotel lobby the first day we arrived in Athens. I asked about this Canadian girl and he said yes, they had been drunk one night early on in the cruise and had messed around, but left it as friends. We spent the rest of the night recounting every minute of the trip up until that point and what had really been happening underneath all the pretense - that time I had swam up to him in the ocean in Cyprus and how excited he was that I had done that (and how at the time I had felt foolish doing it); how I had glanced at him a certain way in that church in Bethlehem, etc etc. It was one of those wonderful (and incredibly rare) moments when you realize you really like someone and they actually like you back. Then followed probably the most romantic night of my entire life - lying sweetly in his arms, feeling the sway of the boat and hearing the gentle slap of the waves as we sailed overnight to the Greek Isles.

The next day we did our tours of Mykonos and Santorini, which were amazing. One of my bikinis is still stained brown from the clay bottom of the natural hot spring we visited on Mykonos. We had the night to ourselves, so we went on an actual "date" on the island; went to dinner and walked around and shopped. Unfortunately my stomach was extremely upset from all the rich food and I spent the night alone in my cabin writhing with nausea. But the next day we were back in Athens to enjoy our final day before returning home early the next morning.

We both talked about trying to extend our "relationship" past just our vacation - but knew it was a long shot. I couldn't possibly have picked a further destination for a future boyfriend than Australia! Still I had done this before with the Frenchmen, so I thought, why not? You have to take love where you can get it, right? He said to me "why do I have to finally find my soulmate on a cruise, and she lives in LA?" That's how quickly things moved in just a few days.

Then we had to leave for our flights. He actually cried as he kissed me goodbye at the taxi, while I tried to be practical and businesslike and told him we'd talk as soon as we got home. That it would work, we'd make it work. I'd come visit, he'd visit me. Crazier things had happened. We could do this.

But as had so often happened with me and my love interests, everything in his life fell apart after he got home. He lost his job, the house he'd been renting for years was sold and he had to move, he didn't have a computer outside of his work so he wouldn't be in touch for a while, ditto his work-owned cell phone. We had a couple of emails and a couple of phone calls, all initiated by me, until finally he said he was moving hundreds of miles to live with his dysfunctional dad and would get in touch when he had a new address, phone number, and email address. He never did.

What happened there? Was it all just a put on? Was he really married with kids and looking for an easy vacation fling? Or, like Cyril, was he just so discouraged when he realized we couldn't ever realistically be together that he just turned off? I'll never know. And he remains to this day a total enigma. Other than a couple of articles in an Australian newspaper from the late 90s reviewing some live shows and CDs of his, there is little proof on the web that he even exists - no Facebook profile, no LinkdIn, etc. He is one of the most out of touch people I have ever encountered.

Still. What happened between us was incredibly foolish, fun, and romantic. I think back on those few days very fondly, and I'm so glad I had that experience. And somewhere out there Cameron exists, too, probably now married and a dad, and I hope he remembers me fondly, too. I hope sometimes when he hears a soft wind sweep over his house he thinks of that night he held me as we sailed to the Greek Isles, singing Beatles songs in two part harmony, thinking we were the luckiest two people in the world.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Remembrance of Online Dating Past

Maybe it's the "thinker" SMCs still in the Los Angeles dating pool (also known as the Seventh Circle of Hell) I've been talking to lately, or the emergence of MTV's online romance-debunking TV show "Catfish" that I've been obsessed with the last few days, but I am having odd memories of some of my online dating experiences. The most dramatic of which was a Frenchman named Cyril.

In Jan of '05 I came across Cyril's ad on Craigslist in "men seeking women". He said he was a filmmaker currently living in Paris who would be moving to LA to make a movie and wanted to make some connections. I emailed him and he immediately wrote back, asking if I wanted to get on Yahoo chat. I had never done any Internet chatting before (to this day I avoid it like the plague), but I thought what the heck and added him late one night. He popped right on and we got to talking about movies, and soon discovered we were kindred spirits; total film geeks in love with all things 60s. The next night we chatted again...and so it went. He asked me to get a webcam and I did, and was delighted to see that he was indeed just like his picture - ridiculously French looking, with black hair and ice blue eyes, a crazy long nose (kind of an Adrian Brody type, also known as Just My Type). He seemed to like the cut of my jib as well, and soon a charming little romance blossomed. I couldn't wait for him to get to LA so we could start our lives together.

But. Something went wrong with his proposed plans. He couldn't get a hold of his LA producer/partner. Everything was falling apart. Right around three months in I felt a lack of enthusiasm coming from his end. He seemed depressed and resigned to the fact that he'd never make it to LA. Desperate to kick things up a notch, I decided to push the envelope and go to Paris to meet him. I found an upcoming swing dance event I could go to there, booked a flight and hotel, and went.

And we met. And he was just great. We spoke Franglish together and he showed me the city. I saw his tiny little garret of an apartment. But. He wouldn't touch me. I thought he was just shy or a gentleman, but deep down I knew there was something wrong. Unfortunately this is a theme that would play itself out over and over in my dating life - men seeming to be attracted to me, but then refusing to touch me when the moment presented itself. I've never quite figured out what this was about - and once I undertook to be a Single Mother By Choice I stopped giving a crap. But back to Paris - my last day in town he had to take a train to some suburb for work and I went to the Louvre alone, determined to enjoy the day and ponder my time with him and what it had all meant. I turned off my cell phone as I didn't want to be the Ugly American with the ringing cellphone in the Louvre. When I emerged at the end of the day I switched it on, and to my horror found text after text after text from him, saying he'd rather spend the day with me so why don't I give him a call, why haven't I called, maybe I'm mad at him? He misses me already, he feels so deeply for me, he has to see me one last time. But it was too late - he was long gone by the time I got a hold of him. It was heartbreaking. And then the next day I left.

After that things went downhill rapidly. He would be absent from the chat (once our hours-long nightly ritual); when he was on he'd be bored and distracted. Finally I caught him making flirty comments on other girls' pictures on MySpace (yes, that's how long ago this was!). We had a couple of big email fights and then it was over. But in retrospect it was really over a couple of months into it when things fell apart with his LA plans; I should have cut my losses then, but like these poor deceived people on Catfish, I just wanted so much to hang onto the dream.

And what was the dream, exactly? To have this impossibly hip, good-looking, stylish French boyfriend. To get married and live this unbelievably cool LA life with our bilingual kids and our artsy professions. To have a great story to tell all our (my) friends. It seemed so close at one moment. So very close. And yet.

I had a lot of heartache ahead of me. That year I bought the building in New Orleans that days later would be wrecked by Katrina. A year later my mother and I would stop speaking forever and I would come to the realization that I had been raised in a cult, which would require months of extensive exit therapy to recover from. My business would boom and then crash with the economy. And I would endure more pointless Internet dates, more real-life meetings that went nowhere, an affair with an Australian on a cruise to Egypt that also went nowhere, etc etc etc. And a year after Cyril and I stopped talking I looked him up out of curiosity and found he had recently married an American girl and moved to Georgia.

Why do I think of all this now, when it's been so buried, when I had to scour my brain to even remember his name to google him today (back in Paris, getting some accolades for his photography)? Because he was just another brick in the road that led me to having my son. It was a difficult patchwork of a road that had a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of disappointment along the way. It does make me a little sad to think about Cyril and remember how hard that all was on me at the time, but you know, it's really ok. It's just part of my story. And it ended well, because I did get to be a mother. And maybe someday B and I can speak French together when he learns it at school.

And I'll always have Paris.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sittin' in the car, baby sleeping

I'm doing my usual daytime activity, which is sitting in the parked car while the baby rounds out his nap. I don't like that one of the only ways B can nap is by being in the car (a far cry from those early says when he screamed his head off every time we got in the car). I've noticed he will also nap if I put him somewhere and leave the room for a while - like in the playpen and I go to wash the dishes, etc. I often wonder if I'm not doing us both a disservice by not having a set nap time in the crib...and that's not to say I can't get that going at some point. But I do have a fear of having a baby that rigidly must be in his crib for a nap at an exact time otherwise he can't sleep - right now it just works better for us that he can be flexible. I expect this, and everything, to change at any moment, however. As goes parenthood.

The Poo Marathon seems to be coming to an end at last. I do think it must be teething related, based on anecdotal evidence. It seems odd that teething would cause diarrhea and endless pooping, but hey, what do I know? I haven't fed him anything but breastmilk the past couple of days, partially on accident but also partially because I was tired of scooping it out of his diapers five minutes later...and ten minutes later...and fifteen minutes later...etc. I keep meaning to make his food - I bought all the ingredients - and I keep not doing it. I don't mind admitting I'm a little shiftless and depressed. Today I couldn't get either of us out of bed until about noon. Just facing another day of workmen tramping around the house getting everything filthy, no privacy, no safe or comfortable way to use the one toilet or take a shower...and knowing I have days of this still...well, it's not terribly motivating.

I have enough emails now (about seven) that yesterday I sent out a feeler email to the women who have contacted me through SMC to see if they want to start some Thinker/Tryer meetings - many of them aren't interested in the Pasadena group because it's all women with older children (I don't think I'll be dropping by again for just this reason). I still feel very close to the thinking/trying times and like to talk about those particular issues, so hopefully I can get a little meeting going. If it looks successful I may form a meetup group and/or put it on Craigslist from time to time. I know there are tons of women considering this route that really need someone to talk to who's been in the trenches. Hopefully I can be that person!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sleepy Sunday

Last night went remarkably well. I had to take B to my gig because my first two sitters were busy, the third had to cancel due to illness, and the Baby Kennel wasn't open late enough. My bandleader's wife kindly offered to watch him while I sang, and luckily there were lots of other babies and toddlers there, so I didn't feel too uncomfortable having him there. And unlike last time I brought him to a gig and he was pretty much over it right away, he was actually just fine, playing and happy, until about the last hour, when he fell asleep. What a relief!

His nose started running last night and he felt a little warm; but we had a good long sleep (waking once at 7 am for a prolonged diaper change/feed/play, but then sleeping until after noon, hallelujah). His nose is still running but he definitely does not have a fever now. However I have changed probably ten poopy diapers in the last twelve hours. And that's a question I have for everyone - what's going on with the poop?

For the last two-three days B has pooped probably every hour on the hour. I have gone through a whole box of diapers in just a couple of days. It is on the runny/diarrhea side for the most part; could he be dehydrated? How would he be dehydrated if he's still mostly breastfeeding? I haven't fed him anything he hasn't been already eating for a couple of months. I can't seem to find anything about this online - most infant poop web searches only talk about newborns, not ten month olds. Is it teething, maybe? He does appear to be cutting two new upper teeth. He doesn't seem bothered by any of this. But I'm just worried because it's not normal to change a poopy diaper every it?

Beyond that, looking forward to everything being done this week - the attic, the sewer, final checks written, and I can sit down and assess my situation for real. Also I open for registration Friday and that will give me an idea of where I stand. A lot of anxiety around this. I'm hoping the excitement generated by this event I played last night will make people want to sign up early for the next big California event, mine. Here's hoping!

Here are some pics of the attic right now with the cabinet frames in, and Bumpus sleeping in last night's "tux".

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Feast or Famine

Last night I wrote a blog post that was so full of anger and self pity that I didn't dare publish it. Thank God for the "save as draft" option! Today is a new day and I just want to move on and deal with my new reality - which is debt, no savings, and a tight belt for the next 7-8 months.

One thing that's made me feel better is checking my "house projects" list I keep on my phone. You know what? I have accomplished nearly everything I wanted to do in this house - from the attic space to the pool to the fireplace to the bathroom to the landscaping. Oh there's always repairs and upgrades and re-dos of things done wrong the first time around, but for the most part I just have small projects left, like changing out light fixtures and fixing window bars, etc. So really, any savings I would have had won't be needed for any more dream projects around here. I've done them all.

And I won't need savings for travel - as noted, we're (mostly) grounded until B is old enough to travel well, which could be years. So any savings I would have used for cool international travel wouldn't be useable for a long time anyway, well long enough for me to pay this debt down and start saving again.

Apart from a few small expenses - printing and mailing of fliers, B's birthday party - I have no major expenses between now and my event. Taxes may be an issue, but I did pre-pay a bit back in September and maybe by April I can borrow some (or put some aside, since this year I know to expect a big increase unlike last year where I was caught off guard).

I went absolutely off the rails last night when, still reeling from this giant sewer line bill, I went to the mailbox and got a bill from Kaiser for $606. From the birth last March. Apparently various labs/drugs etc that they originally covered they have now decided, a year later, that they aren't covering. I immediately called and opened yet another grievance. So, now I've got two going (one denied), and this bill will remain unpaid, which puts my credit in jeopardy. Oh, and then I got my gas bill, which normally at this time of year is about $80 or $90, which is really expensive. This month's was $253.

I hate that my life is so feast or famine - famine the first half of the year, feast the second. I hate that despite how well I budget and prepare I always get socked with some ridiculous unpredictable thing that I never could have known was going to happen. I hate that after fifteen years in business I never seem to do any better. I hate that I always, always get screwed by the system. I hate that I never seem to be able to catch a fucking break.

But. I did choose this life. Everything from being a single mother to being a homeowner to running one event a year and trying to live off of that. And there's a lot of insecurity and potential for disaster at every turn in my line of work. I'm lucky I have not yet dealt with some of the potential hazards in the event planning world - a terrorist threat or attack shutting down airports and rendering my event impossible; a major earthquake; a major lawsuit (well, I did have one of those). An IRS audit. Major competition nearby that could shut me down. So far, so good.

And this, too, shall pass. I worked on various of my calming techniques last night because I was so distraught - I got B & myself into a nice warm bath as a distraction, practiced some deep breathing (it really did help), and tried to remind myself, "it's only money." I don't know why but that phrase does make me feel better. It's not a race - the person who dies with the most stuff does not "win". Yes, it sucks that I can't save any money for a long time. It doesn't make me feel good or safe, especially not with a baby. I hate that I'm having to deal with all this unfair crap right now. But last night I hugged him to my chest and felt very secure with just us - we're ok. We're going to make it. We have each other.

Friday, January 25, 2013


This blog title comes from the Latin radio station the guys are playing up in the attic while they work. They are putting in the cabinets today; finally the room will take shape! But as expected the work will drag well into next week. So this whole process is taking twice as long as anticipated. Sigh.

Also as anticipated the plumbers want an additional $6500 on top of the $5500 they already charged me (and the $4000 I already paid for the piping under my house) to "sleeve" the piping in the street. I almost shouted "NO!!!" at them. But they kept pulling this "we really need to do this now while we have access" line; apparently despite the $10,000 I've now sunk into this, it could still start backing up again any time, so all of this is pretty much for nothing. They got me to agree to a hydro jet and chemical root killer treatment for an additional $1000 that has a five year warranty. So at least I won't have any surprises for five years. But man oh man, what an absolute nightmare and SO unfair. And please trust me when I say I know what I'm talking about - when I posted this on Facebook I had tons of fellow homeowners tell me their tale of woe - yes, you're responsible for your entire sewer line to the city line. No, the city will not remove trees that cause the damage even when they're on the sidewalk. It's a total scam and ripoff and it's criminal. And yet I just have to suck it up and take it and put myself in debt for years to pay for it (and now I find out I'm not even done). Great, huh?

Well, if one good thing has come out of this it is that I feel I can use this as a good excuse to get off of the Hall of Fame board. I'm going to call the VP and tell her I cannot handle the added stress, nor the babysitting fees for meetings now that I have this huge debt to pay. Which is kind of true. Mostly the stress part.

My event opens in a week. God, I hope I don't get a lousy ten people signing up opening night like usual otherwise I'm in serious trouble! I moved the opening time earlier to make it easier for people and gave a nice discount so hopefully this will get people motivated. Come on, people. Mama needs a new sewer line!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

10 months

We're having a particularly fussy morning, but I did get one decent shot today - you can see his teeth!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Debt ceiling

So first thing this morning I got the news that yes, the air-blow thingee didn't work on the sewer line and so yes, they will have to dig up the sidewalk. Guess how much this is going to cost me? $5500. So add that to what I've already spent and we're at a staggering $10,000. And guess what? The tree the city planted in front of my house a couple of years ago that I was all excited about is the culprit. And guess what else? The work they're doing now is only so they can SEE into the remaining pipe I'm responsible for in the middle of the street. That may need to be repaired too for countless thousands more. Which I'm just going to have to say no to because I am completely tapped out.

And by tapped out, I don't mean money I actually have. This is all going to fill my line of credit that I so painstakingly paid down all of last year at $1000 a month. Which means if I need it to get by the next few months, I'm SOL. And with what will no doubt be a giant tax bill, I probably will need it.

This also means I will now be heavily in debt for years. So, no more saving, no more being debt-free while preparing a safety net for anything child-related. To say this is a game changer is mild. This pretty much fucks everything up for the foreseeable future. Good thing I had no plan to try to have another baby this year-!

So I had a momentary freak out, then melted some chocolate and frozen cherries, mixed them into a tub of lite Cool Whip and ate it. And I do feel a little better.

Here's the thing. I've had many, many financial disasters in my life, mostly things like this that I could neither prepare for nor escape. And I always survive, and I'm not homeless nor hungry nor cold. And if this year's event goes as well as I hope with the new dates, I might just be able to pay this disaster off in one fell swoop. And had I done only the sewer and not the attic first, I would have never put the money out to do the attic, and I would never have had a play space for B or a place for overnight visitors. So now it's within days of being done and there's nothing I can do to stop it so I have to just roll with it. And it's going to be great (the attic, that is. My drains will no doubt be as slow and maddening as ever even after $10,000 worth of work).

Kind of glad my sister and I are making B's cake now. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's On

Finally got a hold of the venue today to book a spot for the birthday party. As long as we clean up nicely I can even get $25 back, so the rental is only $75 for an entire day! Definitely the best deal in town. Hopefully they don't figure this out any time soon. So with a place and a time I now have enough info to make invites. I figured I'd do a hybrid - I ordered 20 printed invites from Etsy, and I'll just use the design on my Facebook invite. The 20 will go to the people closest to me, or older people not on Facebook. And of course I want one to keep.

My sister and I have linked up on Pinterest to share cake ideas. I think it's going to be pretty great and probably way better/cheaper/more fun than ordering from a bakery. It will be a fun family project even if it comes out wonky (which it probably won't).

In other news, today was just one of those bad vibes sort of days. The sewer thing is turning into a huge mess. Apparently the problem causing the backing up is in the street - but in the section between my house and the city's main line that I'm apparently responsible for. So now this is yet a third section of sewer that I have to fix and maintain - and of course it's not under warranty. They tried to blow it out today but to no avail - they will come back tomorrow probably to tell me they need to tear up the sidewalk, which will probably run thousands and thousands. Just to blow out the line was $1100 so I can only imagine what demolishing the street will run. I can't even think about it; it's too upsetting.

After getting this information I went to a meeting with my new contact person at the hotel and nearly got killed on the freeway. Two cars just zoomed right into my lane, running me literally off the freeway in Inglewood. If I hadn't slammed hard on the brakes I would have been in a major accident. This has only happened to me a couple of times in 20 years of driving. My heart is still pounding a little bit.

Oh, and my registration page isn't working. Sure am glad I'm having a friend check it before going live! Have I mentioned how much I hate computer stuff? My new laptop has been sitting in a box in the corner for a week because I simply cannot stand the idea of learning a new computer's ins and outs and transferring all the programs, etc to the new one. I used to know a guy who did this stuff for me but we're not in contact anymore. I did buy some software that's supposed to switch things over for me - but I know it's going to be problematic. I promised myself I'd wait until after registration is up. I can only handle one stressful computer-related thing at a time.

B's sleep has been good - and he's not biting me as much (knock wood). I was thinking about preschool again - if I start him at 18 months (right after my event), it's $500 a month for two days a week (half days), then six months later it drops to about $350. So I will have to reevaluate after the event to see if I can afford it at eighteen months; I can always wait until he's two or older if not, or just find somewhere cheaper to go. Anyway as of right now I'm in no rush. It's nice having him around.

Here's a comparison of modern mommy vs. vintage mommy:

Monday, January 21, 2013

One born every minute

Suckers, that is. And I believe I became one when I agreed to be the secretary at my Hall of Fame meeting yesterday, rather than resigning from the board entirely which was on my mind when I walked in. So now I'm stuck with this huge responsibility which also requires me to keep three file boxes of paperwork somewhere around here, take minutes every meeting and print and mail them to the members (because of course none of them have computers or use email). Ugh. Just writing about it now makes me think I really need to get the hell out of this thing. I guess I just got suckered in by the fact that here are these helpless old people who desperately need someone to come in and fix things...and I can help them, so I'm morally obligated to help. What is wrong with me? Why can't I just walk away like everyone else? Bleh.

The good news is the construction finishes up this week (fingers crossed); they are painting now in preparation for putting in all the built in cabinets. The changes will be fast and dramatic this week.

Today I am going to a mommy & me movie; I thought to invite my meet up groups to come along but nobody RSVP'd. I'm feeling a little like the unpopular girl at the dance - but oh well, not all of my proposed meet ups can be winners. And I did only give people about a day's notice, and it is a holiday that most of these women will spend with their HUSBANDS.

Last night I had a lovely conversation with someone who contacted me through the SMC website, a thinker just looking to talk. I continually find it amazing how much we women who choose to do this have in common - all those same fears and concerns, similar family dynamics, etc. I think I *may* have enough emails now to at least send out a little feeler to see if anyone's interested in forming a group. They may not, but I think I can at least try. I know these things have to start small. And I know how much those thinking/trying times need community and comraderie.

Am I crazy to think I can make Bumpus' birthday cake myself? After getting a few quotes it looks like I'm in over $150 - which is way outside my budget ( and highway robbery in my opinion). Then it got down to having cute cupcakes made to match the theme instead of a single cake - and then I thought, well, I can friggin' do that myself, for (almost) free. I have professional cake decorating equipment, I know exactly what I want, I can make little printables for toppers. It might actually be fun! So I am considering getting my Pinterest on and doing that.

Here are some pics of our mini golf adventure Saturday. He actually was totally fine & didn't fuss the whole time.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

First World Problems

So we all agree blogs are places to vent, even when the problems are kind of petty, right? Ok. So here's my list of petty concerns for the week.

Had a crappy sleep night last night. B was just inconsolable so I broke down and fed him twice. Not that this is so terrible, but the way he was before I broke down and fed him concerns me - madly arching his back and screaming and kicking; not his usual middle of the night fuss. I've noticed sometimes during the day now he'll be just fine one minute and then in the blink of an eye screaming and arching his back violently. Someone pointed out this may be teething - but would teething hurt when the teeth are already out? And why wouldn't he be consoled by a teether then? Is it just gas again? I don't know what it is but only nursing seems to calm him, which makes me fearful of the day he's weaned - how am I going to comfort him when nothing else will do? So another night of very little sleep. Since our new sleep schedule I feel just as badly rested as I was when we were up to feed every two hours. Wondering when (or if) I'll ever wake up feeling rested again.

He has also developed this raised red mole under one eye. Google tells me it's just a hemangioma and nothing to worry about, but I'm still worried.

Everyone I've asked about going to Hawaii has ditched out, again. So yet another year with no Hawaii. Can't wait until B is old enough that he and I can go and I don't have to watch him every second! There will be so much freedom when he can travel with me, alone. Oh well, maybe the family can gather in Miami this summer. That'll be kind of like going to Hawaii.

The workmen were here all week, yet the attic space looks no different than it did last week. It's been a week of "mudding" which means it's all prep work. It's just at that frustrating point. Next week I hope they finish - although who knows. It'll be all cabinetry, painting, etc. That will be exciting. But for now it's only bare walls, every day. I didn't even bother taking pictures. And we stretch past the intended finish date (yesterday). Sewer line isn't done, either. Sigh.

Yesterday at my meetup group I was mentioning how I was made an administrator and will be planning some fun stuff for us all to do, because the current admin is moving out of state. Hours after I got home I got a slightly irritated email from the admin telling me to please not tell anyone she's moving because she's a private person...even though at every meet up I've attended she's always spoken freely, and publicly, about this move. Huh? I immediately apologized and said I'd keep my mouth shut from now on...but I'm a little annoyed. How could I have possibly known this was a taboo subject, and why all the need for privacy all of a sudden? Now I feel insecure, like I can't talk about anything without offending someone. I hate it when I feel like I've been chastised for doing something I couldn't have known was wrong - it's like being ticketed for some obscure traffic rule that you and everyone else breaks every day unknowingly. So it's over and we won't speak of it again, but it's really bothering me.

Today I have a birthday party to go to up in Ventura which involves a round of miniature golf. I don't know how I'm going to manage all that standing around, leaning over, etc, with a baby. Obviously strollers are out, so I'll use a carrier, but I know unless we're moving he's going to strain to get out, and it could be kind of a nightmare. Come next year I may not be able to bring him at all :(.

When I get home from this long exhausting day I have to do hours of intensive paperwork that involves math - I have to re-check all the scores from our doomed Hall of Fame celebration back in September, for our meeting tomorrow. It's my own damned fault for putting it off till the last second. But I absolutely have to do it - and I'm dreading it.

I also have to book three trips for the band...that I am not going on.

Ok, in positive news, I'm having a blast planning B's birthday party, my stupid ex who owed me money for 2 1/2 years finally made the last payment unbidden, enthusiasm is gearing up for my event opening Feb 1st, and it's a beautiful day. So, let's let those cares and concerns go and go out and have some fun!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Baby daddies

Today I met with a whole new meetup group, one for single mothers. Not single mothers by choice - just single, period. There were four of us, different races and ages and, as it turned out, circumstances. Two of us were donor-conceived-baby mamas. We didn't say much. Why? Because there's no drama in our lives. One poor gal regaled us with her baby daddy tale of woe - what a jerk this guy was, how they can't even agree on what kind of coloring book to buy the little girl, how complicated it is when his family is so invested in the daughter's life but he is not (except to dictate her coloring book options apparently). It reminded me of my own parents' struggle - how basically two people who had nothing in common and couldn't stand each other came together and made a baby, and the mother believed in old school "cry yourself to sleep" parenting while the father was more of an attachment parenting type (hard to believe but true - at least based on my mother's accounts). And I know all of this is well worn territory on this blog and those of other choice moms - but boy am I relieved I don't have to deal with any of that crap!!!

Anyway, friendly, supportive group and I will definitely be spending more time with them. It's funny how I was so bored a few months ago and now my schedule is positively packed - as is so often the case the solution was so simple; just find ways to make new friends. Thanks to the internets this was accomplished quite easily.

I had an (extremely rare) make-out dream last night. It was about kissing this guy I barely know - and have zero interest in - in the dance scene. In the dream we were at some vintage event (and as far as I know he's not even into that aspect of what we do) and he was in a fabulous 40s suit and we kissed and it was just incredible. For much of the day I was under the fog of that dream and had to keep reminding myself that in real life I don't even find this person attractive (although I think he does, me). I often wonder if I'll ever kiss someone like that again - or if even given the chance if I'm too old and jaded to ever be swept away like that again. Is that kind of romance the habitat only of the young? It may very well be. Was my last (disastrous) attempt at whirlwind romance the final nail in the coffin? I think about this entirely dispassionately - don't think I'm sitting here in despair about it. I kind of don't care. It's all illusion, anyway - what starts out as having the hots for someone at best just dissolves into comfortable codependency; at worst you end up with situations like these single moms in my group. Or like a recently divorced friend of mine who now sees her ex's bad traits and wonders if he's always been like that and if so why she never saw it before.

I watch some of these dumb shows on Bravo (usually the six episode "mid-season replacement" type) about all the hot twenty-somethings and their relationship dramas and am simultaneously fascinated and repulsed. Because as much as I want to mock these people I was exactly like that at that age. Who's cheating, who stole who's boyfriend, who's talking crap about who, blah blah blah. I recognize this stuff is just as developmentally appropriate as Bumpus' new found separation anxiety or stool consistency; but boy am I glad all that is behind me!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Ok, I was up until the wee hours last night obsessing on B's birthday party. Since I have made the decision to "go big" I now feel like I can solidify things, and being a Type A planner, I really want to get this nailed down now.

So today I scouted locations and made phonecalls. Despite having been temporarily tempted by various park picnic areas, I have decided on Travel Town after all. They provide a tent for shelter and there's lots else there for people to do - they can check out the trains, go to the gift shop, ride the train. So hopefully people with kids can look at it as a fun day out and not just my kid's birthday. As long as it isn't freezing and raining I imagine I'll get a decent turnout.

After spending an entire night on Pinterest I have settled on a The Cat in the Hat theme. There's just something about the bold colors and graphics that really appeal to me - I think I can pull together a really nifty party design with just coordinating colors without it being too busy and overwhelming. I'm going to hit up the dollar store for ideas. It served me well at Christmas.

I'm still concerned about costs, though. The rental is $100, and if I get enough pizza for the 50 people on the guest list, I'm looking at another $150 at least, not to mention cake, drinks, and decorations. I am considering asking people to bring drinks and ice in the place of presents, since honestly I can use that more than a sea of toys. I don't know. I'll have to think about it.

I also would love to do proper printed invites to send in the mail...but that's another cost, and keeping track of RSVPs would be much easier on a Facebook invite. Maybe I'll just make one to print out for my scrapbook. I can see how easily women get all psychotic about this stuff.

Bumpus is becoming such a little man lately. We have conversations in which we make noises back and forth at each other; he looks at me with such an intelligence that even a guy on line at FedEx today commented on it. He has four teeth all busting out at once, and he's making solid little doodies now, no more runny messes! It's so weird. I'm so used to the constant poop blowouts. The idea of rolling his poopies right into the toilet is a revelation.

I may actually make an attempt at making baby food. He eats so much of those squeezy bags that I did a little math today and was a little horrified at what it'll cost each month to keep buying these things. I have a pin on Pinterest about making a month's worth of baby food for $20. I may try it.

Bumpus is biting the crap out of my nipples. I may start using my old friends, the nipple shields, again, just to save myself. It's extremely unpleasant.

I'm meeting a new single mothers group tomorrow for a hike. Hopefully I'll find some comraderie there. I don't know that they're single mothers by choice, but we'll at least have singleness in common.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Big One

I can't believe how much happier I am now that I have been straight with my bandleader and he responded in such a gracious way about my hiatus on traveling. It really weighed heavily on me last week and threw me into a bit of a depression. But that's done with and I feel like I can move forward!

And what's next? The Big One, which is Bumpus' birthday in two months. I actually wrote about this some weeks ago but saved it as a draft, which is something I've never done before (I am very much a write it and publish it kind of gal). Other than a surprise party for a friend ten years ago I have never planned a birthday party for someone else before. It's odd because it's a party that won't be appreciated, or remembered, by the recipient, yet everyone wants that cute picture of themselves at one with birthday cake all over their face, so it must be acknowledged. And of course I have no intention of ignoring the day my son was born, but I wasn't sure how big to go and have been vacillating for weeks about it.

A book club friend recently put on one of the most amazing kids' parties I'd ever been to - it was fall, so caterers making grilled cheese sandwiches to order and tomato soup, a whole yard set up with different play areas for different aged kids (B was very fond of the ball pit); it was just great, and all (except for the caterer I'm sure) clearly done on a budget but with a lot of creativity. I wish I could do something like this, but unfortunately B's March birthday could be freezing and pouring rain, and I have no usable outdoor space that doesn't involve the pool.

My sister will visit and possibly my erstwhile stepmother as well, so I could just have it be the four of us and a cupcake. And that would be fine. But my friends have started asking if I'm having a party, and I do feel like some people actually want to go to his party and celebrate this milestone. Despite my fears to the contrary, I don't think they would consider it a drag or an obligation, not this first one, anyway. In the future I may only invite parents of similar-aged kids, but for this first one I think it's ok to invite adults with no kids (it's hardly like Bumpus has "friends" at this age).

Anyway I am going to try to rent a cheap outdoor space that hopefully has a covered area in case of rain and just do an inexpensive pizza and cake party, since just in case half the people bail like they did for my Christmas party I don't want to be stuck with tons of uneaten food, nor do I want to labor for days in the kitchen only to have to throw out all my efforts. And besides, who doesn't like pizza?

I think the biggest challenge for me will be not taking it personally when a bunch of people "just can't make it". I can't promise I'll be able to do this. I've already lost one long-standing friendship when I felt she had insulted my son (although of course there were other issues there); I will be hurt if people are lame and don't show. And I know if it does pour rain then a lot of people won't show, which is the Southern California way after all. But I think really the only thing to do is invite the world - everyone with similar-aged babies I know, plus the group that came to my shower and are close to me and invested in B's existence - and hope for the best.

In the meantime I can work on cute cheap ideas from Pinterest to make it fun and entertaining for adults. I will have no money at all in March so it's going to have to be done cheaply.

It's a big day. In our ancestors' time it meant that this baby survived the most vulnerable time of its life - that this one might just make it. I want to make sure this moment is acknowledged in style, and B is surrounded by people who love him.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Perfectly delightful

Sleeping baby, home from gig, mind racing. Time to blog, eh?

First off I want to commend two fellow bloggers who are contemplating changing gears in order to create their families. I feel like a total chicken shit in your very presence, for how much I would rather dive into the lake of poo under my house than endure another pregnancy and labor, even if it came easily. That shows the utter lack of gumption on my part.

But few things could be worse than the radio show I listened to while stuck in traffic today. It's a female talk show host who normally I enjoy very much, but today she was just SO off the mark, and was so frigging ignorant, I could hardly stand it. She was talking about the RE who said something about relaxing being essential to getting pregnant (which we all know is utter nonsense, despite old wives' tales to the contrary). She talked about a friend who'd done "the turkey baster" which she also kept referring to as "in vitro" (and I wanted to scream that "the turkey baster" is in fact IUI and is not even close to IVF - although most people I know seem to be under the illusion that I did IVF to get Bumpus, which I did not). Then she went on to talk about her four kids and how easy it is for her to get pregnant and how good at it she is - and she went on and on about this. I winced when I thought of all the infertile women out there who may have happened on that show and how bad it made them feel. Being super fertile is just not something you should brag about, if you ask me. It's like bragging about being rich or good looking. It's just unseemly. But anyway.

So after stressing out all day I told my bandleader about my unwillingness to travel, and not only was he not surprised but was perfectly delightful about it, saying that of course my priorities have changed and for all I do for this band (like all the paperwork, legal & tax stuff) he's so grateful to me, he could never begrudge me anything. And now I feel like a total asshole for the lousy characterization I gave of him recently here. He's really a good guy and deserved a lot more faith than I gave him. So, crisis averted, huh?

At last I can put this issue that's tormented me since my "thinking" days - what to do about band travel - to rest. I feel more like I can embrace the coming changes now rather than dread them. I saw a friend's fifteen month old today, and she was adorable and a riot - running around and playing with crinkly tissue paper and having a grand old time. Maybe this whole toddler thing isn't so scary after all.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Real parenting

Many times in the past 9 1/2 months since parenting Bumpus, I have felt like this is just a warm up - that this is the easy part and the real parenting comes later. After all, he's just a little baby. My job right now is to keep him fed, clean (relatively), rested, and most importantly, safe. And I've done that. When we celebrate his first birthday in March (however we do it - and that's a whole other post-!) it will be all about having kept him alive that first year.

But soon comes the hard stuff. The discipline. The keeping him entertained. The teaching. The lack of portability. The need of schedules. The need of keeping adult things - and language - away from him. It's going to be hard. And it's going to be the beginning of the real sacrifices - as I've noted recently about not being able to travel with my band anymore.

A friend and I recently talked about suddenly discovering you've let your child watch inappropriate movies and TV - that one minute you're watching your shows and movies with a baby in the background; next thing you know that baby is a grown kid quoting said movies and TV and people around you say, shocked, "you let X watch that...?", they not realizing that you didn't intentionally take your kid to see that R rated movie, it was just on TV when they were too little to understand, and then you kept watching it even when the kid could understand. It just happens. I could see this happening to me, very easily.

Last night I had a moment of thinking I could make this travel for work thing work - in particular the New Year's thing to Sweden. I started googling about travel car seats and how to entertain toddlers on airplanes. And found many helpful articles...which reminded me what utter hell this is going to be. One thing that came up again and again - you simply cannot have a toddler on your lap, period. And especially not a boy. Girls may sit contentedly and play for a long time - boys absolutely will not. Boys will climb the walls. And I think I know enough about Bumpus at nine months old to know that he will be one of those who climbs the walls. So, back to Plan A. No traveling with the band. Sigh.

We have a gig tonight and I must tell my bandleader and it's not going to be pretty. I wish I could put it off but I've got a bunch of emails from promoters wanting to lock us in to this year's events, and they all are insisting on buying our flights RIGHT NOW, so unfortunately these decisions have to be made now for gigs even a year away. He's not going to take it well. Like me a year ago, he'll not understand why I can't just bring a toddler on my lap and get someone at the event to watch him for me while I sing, what's the big deal? Why can't I just leave my one-year-old with relatives for a weekend? All of those things seemed entirely possible before I had B. Now I understand how wrong I was - that my relatives are not set up to care for a small child for days on end, that travel with a toddler needs a separate seat on the plane, that you can't just hope you'll find a sitter once you get there, that car seats have to be installed and uninstalled, that food has to be cooked and kept cold or warm (you can't just feed your toddler power bars), that sleep patterns get impossibly ruined by jet lag, etc. He won't get it and he'll be mad at me, and resent my son even more than he already does. I'll never forget one night when during a gig he found out I had not hired our band for another event I was doing with partners (the partners wanted someone else and I was more than happy to not have to sing at my own event for once) and he refused to even look at me the whole rest of the gig. Yeah. This is the maturity level I'm dealing with here. So. I don't expect this to be pleasant tonight.

In other news, as I had feared the work on the attic is probably going to stretch into another week. I am already fed up and it's only been one full week and a few days around the holidays - now I'm looking at potentially two more weeks-! I know this is just the way things go and I shouldn't have expected anything else, but it did knock me for a loop a bit. That and a loan officer friend of mine private messaged me on Facebook yesterday after seeing pictures of my attic to ask me if I was doing this with permits, because without permits could make it a major problem to refinance or sell. And I know he's right; that's something I just pushed to the back of my mind, figuring I probably will never sell so who cares? But I hadn't thought about refinancing. I think I may have just screwed myself.

In good news, in a panic about not getting to travel EVER AGAIN I hit up a couple of girlfriends about trying to go to Hawaii sometime this year. I have enough mileage points for two tickets and a free stay at a nice resort, so it would be cheap. It's just a question of people working out their vacation schedules for work. I think we'll be able to do it, possibly over Memorial Day. It could be a blast - and with aunties to play with the baby I may even be able to enjoy the trip! So despite all the other not so great things going on around here, at least I have that to look forward to (and the attic will be done eventually, and that'll be great).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

What would you say to that girl?

My mind has been a maelstrom of regrets, dread, and frustration today because of my revelation that I won't be able to travel with my band...pretty much ever. In fact I fell into a bit of a depression about it. I drove up to Target again with the intention of having lunch and then cruising around the store just to get the hell out of the house with all the construction going on. But when I was in the restaurant I went to sit at a table for just a minute while waiting for my takeout food, and the man sitting at the table next to me took one look at my stroller, picked up his food and moved all the way to the other end of the place. I felt like walking over to him and saying, "I get it, you hate my kid." After that I didn't so much feel like shopping, so I of course got a drive through Krispy Kreme (and by "a" I mean "two"), ate them in the Men's Wearhouse parking lot in a shame spiral, and then drove home.

I knew some friends would be at a dance place tonight so I threw caution to the wind and went, despite keeping B out late, despite the bitter cold. And boy am I glad I went. I told a friend who has a grown son about my woes, and she said when her boy was young she had to miss out on a lot of dance teaching jobs for him, and it bothered her at the time, but she said she never regretted it, and actually feels all the better for it now because she feels she has been able to maintain balance in her life. And this is very true, she has. I always envied her back in the day having this nice home life when the dance world was so all-consuming and I had nothing else. She even said that when I sit at home watching all the pictures pop up on Facebook of some other singer with my band and all the awesome people looking like they're having an incredible time, to remember that most of them really want to be doing what I'm doing.

I often envy women who had their children young, because then they're still young when the kids are grown up, and then they're free to live out the rest of their lives, and never have to deal with the terror of never having kids, fertility issues, etc. But those women feel like they missed out on the best years of their lives. What would I say to that young girl with two kids? I would say thank your lucky stars you did this when you were young, when you had the physical energy to keep up with small children, that you'll never know the pinch of a needle with some fertility drug in it, or the worry of wondering what your genetic tests will reveal about the health of your "advanced maternal age" baby.

So along those lines, what would I say to myself, this 40-year-old new mother, depressed about missing out on some fun and lucrative opportunities, worried about disappointing people? I would tell that girl this: that your relationship with your son is the most important relationship in your life, that nothing matters but his well-being. That some day today's concerns will seem so petty and unimportant that I won't even care anymore. That I am so frigging lucky I got to have him at all. That I had twenty plus years of gadding about before I had him and I know damned well I'm not missing out on squat.

Today when I got home, before the workers knew I was back, I overheard this youngish guy with an ironic mustache up in the attic saying, "yeah man, this would be a SICK space for a little kid." All at once my bitterness fell away as I thought about how happy B will be to have his room up there, all the good times he'll have, and how fondly he'll look back on his childhood. And how I can show him pictures some day and tell him, "when you were just a little baby, I built this for you." Somehow going to Sweden next December just doesn't seem so frickin' important compared to that.


Last night was another night of sleeping baby, awake mama. Sigh.

In the early morning hours as I lay awake, my mind raced with thoughts of some emails I'd gotten before bed. Basically, my bandleader friend decided to handle all band emails in one sitting (as he usually does), copied me on said emails, and I discovered we have many offers for cross-continental and international travel this year. And I was in terror of what this means.

After agonizing over it for hours, and then talking about it with my sister, I think I've decided to tell the bandleader I am out for traveling, period. And not just this year - pretty much permanently, or as permanent as seven + years can be. I just can't leave Bumpus behind, and traveling under those conditions (being picked up by college kids in rattling cars on icy roads, no food, 6 am flights because they're the cheapest, questionable sleeping arrangements) would be an absolute nightmare with a kid of any age, much less a toddler (who could even be a nightmare at home!). Now that I really think of all the details involved - carseats, keeping toddler food warm or cold, finding someone to watch him, etc etc- I can't believe I ever thought traveling to gigs with him would even be possible. And I now know even leaving him for a weekend at six, seven, even eight - might not be doable. I went to summer camp at those ages and cried my eyes out each time. And that was to do something fun! And who, exactly, am I going to leave him with? All my friends have multiple children already, jobs, giant pit bulls, etc etc. Even if I could pay someone not to go to their weekend job and instead watch my child, they can't jeopardize their job by asking for the time off. I always knew I'd find a solution to my band travel worries - unfortunately I'm afraid it's going to mean not going, period.

So here comes the first real sacrifice of single motherhood - giving up money, accolades, and fun, plus letting other people down, to keep my child happy and safe (and spare myself a lot of misery, too, of course). It's very bitter for me. Telling my bandleader is going to be terrible; I know he's going to be crushed, might not even want to do the gigs at all (I would try to find a replacement for me). I will tell him at our gig Saturday. It's going to be awful. But would I choose the band over my kid? Nope.

This also brings up family visits. I mentioned to my sister that I am in terror of flying east for Thanksgiving this time, when B is exactly at the age that I now know (from reading your blogs!) is the WORST age for toddlers (20 months). Honestly, I think I'm going to pass. Like so many of you I think I need to just not travel, period, for a while. Or at least unless the circumstances are better - we may try to visit a cousin in Miami in the summer; this might be ok, since I can stay at a Marriott and it will be warm, etc. No icy roads to worry about.

So, my goal to see family a lot is kind of shot. For now. Of course years from now all of this will be behind us - maybe I can even do our weekend traveling gigs again assuming we still have them. But I just can't be hopping on planes for 5+ hours at a time with a one, two, three, four, or five year old. I just can't do it. I raise the white flag. We're just going to have to be on lockdown for a while.

In other news, preparing every day to have the water off all day the next day, only to have the repairs put off. Last night I showered, washed dishes, put aside a big bowl of water for washing up, made plans to be out of the house all day, only to be told not today, but tomorrow the water will be off. Sigh. Can't wait until it's all over.

Here are some pics of the drywall going in.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

First rides and lakes of poo

So my contractor just showed me a picture of the lake of poo under my house. Oh my God. How could that be going on and not even know about it, other than the occasional whiff of "something"? Well, the good news is the lake goes away today. And not a moment too soon.

We had another good night last night - one wake up to eat around 5 and that's it. I can't say I feel more rested, really - I still wake up a lot (old habits die hard when you're an old dog, huh?) but hopefully this will change if we keep going in this direction. I'm kind of shocked by how quickly this whole new system worked, actually. I expected a lot of crying and set backs, and they may yet come, but so far so good. Last night I even flirted with the idea of not giving him that 5 am feed. But that's pretty ambitious.

This morning I got the fabulous news that my "I **** you" post is going to be featured on BlogHer! Awesome! I don't know how they found me but I am honored. Also hoping I'll pick up some new followers but maybe that's asking too much. That's kind of the reason I didn't participate in the de-lurking that went on yesterday; I was too afraid I'd ask my readers to comment and introduce themselves...and nobody would. Can you say "fear of rejection"? Which is also kind of the underlying theme of my "I **** you" post.

In other news, things moving right along on the upstairs. Boxes for lights and outlets in, floor in, finishing insulation now. I mentioned to the contractor my disappointment that the skylight doesn't open (the contract does say an "operable skylight") and he said he'd either replace it or rig it to open. I think in the summer having that cross breeze will be essential. So I think this is a good guy. He actually listens and does what he says. A rare thing in the building industry!

Yesterday I was too full to put The B on my belly in his carrier while at Target, so I took the chance of putting him in the cart. I don't know why I didn't do this before - like so many things, it really just didn't occur to me. He is a little small for the cart and kept pulling his feet out to sit cross-legged, but was never in danger of falling (I kept my hand on him at all times). All the other mothers had nifty cloth cart inserts to keep their babies safe and clean from germs. Yet another instance of my being The Most Ghetto Mother in the Room.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Night #6

Once again no crying, just one wake up for food. Could it be that this is working...? Unfortunately I was awake a lot last night, for no particular reason (maybe the dozen chocolate chip cookies I shoved down my throat at bedtime...? I admit yesterday was not a good food day for me. I'm so addicted to sugar since the holidays that at around 9 PM I decided I "just had to use up that half bag of chocolate chips" and made some cookies which I then wolfed down, even the burnt ones. Sigh.). So being awake much of the night I do not feel very rested even though B slept well. But I was up early enough to shower before the contractor got here, so that's something. No word on when the water goes off but it could be any time in the next couple of days.

I can tell by the sounds up there that they are laying more floor. Yippee. Hopefully this will be the end of the daily rain of sawdust onto the clothes in my closet (somehow it's coming down through a vent and sticking in my sweaters, which really sucks); if not I finally got smart and put a garbage bag over it in the interim.

A friend who likes to panic me about things is urging me to rewire the house, saying she's doing hers because a fireman she knows told her the old wiring is a major fire hazard. I know she's right, but...a) that would put me into debt for the rest of the year, and b) it means breaking into the walls, ie major damage and clean up. It's not that I don't recognize it's an issue, but...can't it wait a year? Can't I deal with my plumbing issues first? Ugh, this homeowner stuff never ends! Well, at least my home value is way up, mostly probably due to party neighbor's house selling for $415,000 in April. So even with my massive debt from my New Orleans debacle, at the moment I actually have equity in my home. It means nothing, but it's a good feeling.

This news came at a good time because I had a minor heart attack when I checked my various bank accounts last night, since I've been writing checks willy nilly from different accounts for the contractor the last couple of weeks and not really keeping track. Um, yeah. My money is pretty much gone. If ever there were a time for someone to hack into my bank accounts, now would be it, because there ain't nothing there. In fact once my giant Kaiser plan payment automatically goes through on my personal account any day now, I officially have nothing left in that account to pay January's remaining bills (ie, all of them). Thank God for mobile deposit apps, I was able to deposit a check quick last night at home before checks started bouncing. It'll all work out - Feb 1st I open for registration and technically that's when my income begins for the year, and hopefully my new pay structure means more people will buy earlier rather than later. So as usual I will *just* scrape by. But boy, this time of year is scary sometimes.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Night #5

Last night was neither here nor there, really. Not bad, not great. One feeding during the night which I guess is the goal - but a lot of waking towards the morning, so really I was up from about 6 am, which isn't good for me. I may want to invest in some shades for behind my light curtains in the bedroom because it just gets too darned bright here in the morning, which makes it almost impossible to sleep once you've woken up.

Construction resumed today. My contractor also got the first check for the sewer line work which officially puts me in debt. He will start tomorrow or Wednesday - and not a moment too soon, since the house has now officially begun to stink (it's probably stunk for a long time, I just attributed it to the diaper pail). I am dreading having the water turned off for possibly days - that's going to SUCK big time. I will have to find friends who will let me shower at their house. But boy will it be a relief when it's done - can you believe I've been delaying that repair for nine years???

Today it doesn't look like much was accomplished upstairs, other than part of the floor being laid down. Once the drywall is in it will really start to look like something. I already enjoy going up there, though. It's really nice to go into a little hidey spot like that and look down on the back yard. I love having an upstairs! It fulfills my Cancerian need to hide and be private. Heck, maybe I'll make it my bedroom.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Victory - of sorts!

Just a quick post that last night went the way I wanted - nurse to sleep @ 10, B didn't wake until 5(!), had a nurse, then sleep until 9:30 or so. Yessss!!! I don't know if that was just a fluke or what - there's always a million factors affecting sleep (stuffy nose, feeding habits that day, naps that day, activities that day, how the evening was spent, teething, what the night before was like, etc etc), but for the first time since he was very young he actually slept a good six - seven hours at a stretch. If this keeps up I may even be able to transition him to the crib so I don't have to worry anymore about him falling off the bed (never has happened, but still is a potential hazard, the worry about which I'm sure interrupts my sleep as well).

For now I've got Cajun red beans & rice in the crock pot, yogurt yogurting in the yogurt maker, and life is good. Happy Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Night #3

Last night didn't go so great, mostly because the schedule was all messed up because I had a sitter from 8-12:30 and the baby apparently slept this entire time (see, I told you he sleeps better without me!). So when I took him to bed with me at about 1 AM I gave him a little feed figuring that would be the middle of the night feed and I wouldn't feed him again until we woke up. Well, he woke up a couple hours later and I was determined to let him cry rather than feeding him, using the argument that he couldn't possibly be hungry again that soon. But after an hour and a half of screaming I started to question my logic and broke down and fed him. Then we were up for the day at nine and I had gotten maybe five hours of broken-up sleep. Ugh.

Well, tonight's a whole new night and there won't be anything breaking our normal routines, so I'll just keep plodding away. Right now I have zero evidence that any of this will actually work - so far each night has been worse than the last. But I will say my nipples thank me. That's something.

In other news, men are icky. Two more weeks of construction and really the only major unpleasantness has been the state of my bathroom. Every day after the guys leave I scrub the whole room down - the bath mat is covered with dirty boot prints, the towels are filthy from men wiping their dirty hands, the sink is covered in muddy dried drops, and of course the toilet seat is up and there's dried pee and worse all over it. There are dirty hand prints all over the door jamb and someone has the weird habit of taking the toilet paper off the roll and leaving it on the back of the toilet. It's a nightmare. I wish I could ask them to please not use my bathroom - but do I really want to say that and then spend the next two weeks with pissed-off workers alone in my house, with all my stuff, when I'm not there? Not really. So I just grit my teeth and put up with the daily trashing of my otherwise lovely white bathroom. Two more weeks, two more weeks...

I asked the main contractor to have a look at my broken sewer pipe in the hopes that he can work up an estimate for me. He said there's a lake of spilled sewage under the house. I'm so glad I didn't put this off any longer - he'll start work on it as soon as the attic is done. It's going to be very expensive but it has to happen - it's a major health hazard. And then I'll probably never have to deal with sewer line issues again! So I'll just have to go into debt for a while.

B ate nothing but a squeezy bag of food at the Baby Kennel today - woo hoo! So I won't have to pump as much anymore. This makes me so happy.

Here's some pics of the attic space at this point - the skylight is in, framing is done, and half of the insulation. I am discovering the space is a lot smaller than I'd been picturing (the hole for the stairs takes up about half the room) and a lot more difficult to access. I don't see many other mothers being ok navigating that ladder with their baby in their arms (I'll have to put B in a carrier just to get us up there safely) and I don't see easily porting boxes up and down, either, so my fantasies of play dates and tons of storage may have been a bit premature. I may have to replace that ladder at some point with something more substantial. But we did come up with the idea of putting a door over the hole to make it baby-safe. Now it's just getting up there safely, ugh!

Friday, January 4, 2013

I **** you

This is a hard post to write because it's kind of embarrassing (I can talk freely about cervical fluids but not this, apparently). But I would like to out myself as one of those weirdos who can't say "I love you." And I mean not just in a relationship - to anyone, even my own son.

Like all my bad habits, I blame this on my mother. "I love you" was never said in our house, not ever, and physical contact was kept to a bare minimum. Only later in life did my sister and I hug our mother as a greeting; I remember almost no hugs or kisses as a child (I'm not saying they never happened, I just don't remember any). I know we're not alone in this - there are many New England WASP-y types who grew up in emotionally stunted, non-demonstrative families. I remember an Intervention episode some years ago where a young addict was desperate to have her mother say "I love you" and the mother just couldn't say the words, even during the intervention, even with everyone in the room yelling at her "just say it!!!" This is how deep this stuff goes.

I so don't want Bumpus to have to guess if I love him or not. You do have to say these things out loud - kids need to hear it; you can't assume they understand that if you cook for them or save up to buy them something cool or sacrifice something you want for them that they understand you do these things because you love them. No. Kids need to hear it. Early and often. And yet.

I have lately been making a point to look B in the eye and say "I love you, Bumpus." And there are times it catches in my throat like the scene in Cheers where Diane demands Sam tell her he loves her, and he chokes on the word, "Diane, I...luh luh luh luh luh....". It's kind of like that. But I've decided this is just something that's going to take practice, like telling him the story of how he came to be. So I'm determined to overcome probably hundreds of years of uptight weirdness in our family and make this happen. We are going to be the kind of family that hugs and says I love you, dammit. I'm going to do it, even if right now saying the word makes me feel like a hole is going to form in the ground and swallow me up. This, too, shall pass.

Night #2

Continued on with the "sleep training" last night. It went about the same - serious crying jag from 4:00-4:40 in the morning; a couple more throughout, but still woke to a happy, smiling baby at 9 AM who had only eaten once in the night yet didn't seem particularly hungry. If this is how it continues for a while, I'm cool with it. I'd be up all those times anyway, I'd just have sorer nipples, and this way at least there's hope that the sleep will improve soon.

This is so much better than just leaving him alone in his crib to scream while I'm in another part of the house. Now when he screams I am right there patting his back and kissing his head. When I feel guilty I can say to myself, "he knows you're right here, he knows he's safe, he's just used to soothing himself back to sleep with a nipple so now he has to learn a new method." There is a big part of me that feels like I fucked up - that I should have had him in a crib CIO ages ago, that he could have been sleeping straight through months ago and I could be so much better rested. And I wouldn't have to be playing catch-up now. But I did try before, twice, and it just didn't feel right. Now it feels right, because I know he's darned well old enough to be sleeping better than he is. I really just needed that evidence I got on New Year's that he sleeps better without me. I just didn't have the confidence to follow through before, but I do now. Also the method feels kinder to me.

One of the things I'm learning is it's ok to admit as a parent that you make mistakes. Because with your first baby you're always doing things for the first time. There are plenty of times I've tried taking him somewhere, keeping him out, tried a certain set up or food and had it just be a big mess. So many times in the last nine months I've said out loud, "ok, that was a bad idea."

So we'll see how this thing goes. As noted there's no harm in it - it doesn't change how badly I'm already sleeping, and B seems content (except when he's screaming his head off of course). If nothing changes in a couple of weeks I may need to step it up, but I'll keep on like this and see if anything gets better, if he sleeps longer without waking.

I missed out on the comedy show tickets for tomorrow night so I am treating myself to a movie and shopping during the day instead, using the Baby Kennel as sitter. And since it's during the day I'm going to try an experiment - instead of a bottle I'm going to send a squeezy bag of food. If I could be free from pumping for sitters it would be AMAZING. Can you tell I'm kind of over breastfeeding? Any old time it's time to stop, I'm ready. I really am.

Yesterday I broke down and bought a smaller size of jeans since all of my pants hang off me and I look like I'm dragging around a soggy diaper. I am convinced all of the weight will come flying back on once I cut back on breastfeeding, but until that happens I need some pants that fit, dammit. It's not even that I'm so skinny, it's that the pregnancy took away my usually rotund butt. I am flat as a pancake there now, which has never been the case, even when I was ten pounds thinner than I am now. Apparently this is a thing that happens, hence the ill-fitting pants. So I at least have one pair of jeans I can wear until things shift around again. I got cocky enough to try on a pair of bright orange super skinny jeans. On the theme of this blog post, I thought as I looked in the mirror, "ok, that was a bad idea."

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Last night I decided to try a little experiment. My Mom Guru friend sent me a really interesting article about "sleep training" which takes a very gentle, gradual approach (and doesn't recommend anything but giving in to baby's wants until at least a year, but I ignored that). It occurred to me that maybe I just need to be very patient and sloooowly move B towards the kind of sleep I want us to get (ie, unbroken). So while I wait for the sleep experts to respond to my email, last night I did this:

Nursed to sleep at 11 PM when B lost interest in playing and started whining out of fatigue.

When he woke up an hour later to feed some more, I let him cry. It sucked. But as recommended by the article I patted his back, hugged him, let him know I was right there, but there weren't going to be any breassesses. He was very angry and frustrated, but after about twenty minutes he rolled into me and went to sleep. Victory!

At 4:30 he woke again and I gave him a good long feed.

At 6:00 he woke again and I let him cry; this time he only cried for a few minutes and again rolled into me and slept.

At 9:00 he woke and I fed him so he could take on the day, then we got up.

He does not appear to be traumatized by not getting what he wanted twice in the middle of the night. I have no idea if I'm doing the right thing or what tonight will bring, I just thought a) I need to slowly reduce the number of night feedings, and b) I can't reduce them all at once because I will end up with hard, painful boobies, and he may actually be legitimately hungry.

So tonight I will do the same - nurse to sleep, offer one feeding in the middle of the night but no more, and one as we wake up. And I'll just keep doing that and see how it goes. It would be so excellent to one day only be woken up once...!

In other news, the windows went in on the attic space yesterday. It is a big step! But the space still won't look like anything until they start putting in the subfloor and drywall. It's still almost impossible to picture. This morning though I did see light coming in through the new windows from under the staircase, and that was kind of exciting. We talked about making the hole in the floor baby safe. It's going to be a challenge.

Yesterday I met with my mommy meet up group. I have made some friendships there and I like how active the group is - two to three meet ups a month, and always interesting things, like museum trips or hikes or downtown exploring. Unfortunately the group leader is moving to Florida in a couple of months, so I asked yesterday what will become of the group and offered to take it on with others. She said that's what she'd hoped, that three or four of us would step up and host events occasionally. So hopefully we can continue!

I was looking at another empty weekend and decided to see a comedy show Saturday night. I have plenty of milk pumped and I'd love a night out not gig-related. So my bandleader friend, his wife and I will go see our favorite comic and have a nice time when I don't have to be on stage or in charge of something. I'm looking forward to that!