Sunday, May 24, 2009

Holy Traditional Division of Labor, Batman!

In which I discover that I am home all day and Huck is at work all day and I am wondering how this all happened.

Eight years ago we were broke ass folks, all radical and too good for 9-5 drudgery. So we were working 3 jobs without benefits and bad pay so that when the cars broke down, there wasn't enough to fix them all AND pay rent. Then there was this moment: midnight, a borrowed truck (the sort without a title), and an explosion at the zenith of the West Seattle Bridge. I mean, EXPLOSION. Motor through the hood style. We screamed. And screamed. And at that moment, the darkest sky I'd ever seen hanging over my head, my husband on my left, my baby on my right, the Dwamish River hundreds of feet below us, I saw the evidence of everything that had gone wrong, might have gone wrong, and could still go wrong, and us dangling precariously on that precipice. That was the moment where everything had to change. And so this journey began.

It was the bust in Seattle. I'd had a W2 since I was 15 and a college diploma and for the first time ever I could not find work. No one seemed to need a secretarial skilled college graduate. We were over-populated. In planning our escape from grinding poverty, we decided that Huck had the more marketable skills of science and math. So, we set to work on his career.

And that lands me here. In this wonderful house. Wondering why I'm here all day and he's gone. This would've killed me, but I just spent the last few months talking to myself and parenting alone so it actually looks quite nice. Some one comes home and relieves me of my shift... sort of. And talks to me. And cleans the kitchen. But it's
certainly not a situation I was TRYING for. I guess I never fully considered the full ramifications of Huck being the bread winner. We were just looking for a way one of us could work a 40 or so hour week with benefits and enough to live on.

But it turns out that parenting full time in a giant house on 5 acres is WAY easier than in a tiny 2nd floor apartment. And being a stay at home mom with just one left in the nest all day is going to be my cushiest job ever. So I'm not exactly complaining.

The work that remains is for me to find some peace with house hold chores. The outside chores get me out of bed in the morning... that and the prospect of a delicious rendezvous with the noble Earl Grey in the sun room.

Peace is on it's way however, with the most satisfying epiphany: No One Can Tell Me What to Do!! except maybe a crazed 4 year old. Otherwise, my life is mine. No boss. No rules. Not much of a schedule. Pleasure in my spine. My time is mine. I don't need no freaking list. I don't need to perfectly plan my day in the most sensical way possible. I can wake up and do what ever I want... sort of... after lunches are made, the bus is caught, the kids are dressed and the teeth are brushed (possibly in that order, but preferably not). And then: the world waits for me. It's a satisfying moment.

Summer "vacation" in two weeks. That will be a different story.

Photos: Blue's third first day of school in the 08-09 year!
Hoosier love in the sun room.

Moved to Tears

Moving is like child birth in so many ways. One of those ways is this: if you haven't done it in the past 5 years, shut up. You have no idea what you're talking about. It sucks. It makes you want to die. Especially if it's your fourth time in less than a year.

And like child birth, there is an immense sense of responsibility and oh-shit-ness when you move in to your new house. There's a lot of "What have we Done!!??" going on.

I've also fallen in love again. I can scarcely believe my good fortune. "They" just let me have this, this beautiful, old, perfect thing?

And then there's the diaper changing: the doors that nolonger fit, the floors that aren't perfectly flat and all that old house stuff. "Oh Honey, it's so cute, look how the floor slopes up here, like our own little Palouse hill. Cooo. Cooo."

And there are thrills I wasn't prepared for like soil that digs like sand. I took one dig and installed a 200 square foot garden on our third day here. And the sunsets. Every damn night! EVERY NIGHT! And 10 neighbor kids ages 3-9. We've been here a week and the garden is in, the clothesline is up (as that is my FAVORITE ALL TIME CHORE... seriously), I've got 20 new flowering plants in, and I just found my clothes box. I'm so happy I could piddle on the floor like a cocker spaniel.

But that night, that Saturday night, driving across 1/2 the vast state of Washington until mid-night, a crisis hit. An Existential Crisis, for which I am so well known. I was happy. Happy. My heart trilling, flying, soaring through the evening, dipping and swooning with my fabulous good fortunes. And then Splat! What is the point of all this happiness? Splat went my heart. Splat on the wind shield in the purple night.

Some soul-CSI eventually uncovered just what happened on the night of May 16, 2009:

Blue's last book from the Rock Island school was on the Titanic. She read aloud to Coyote and I. We sat on the futon, dangled our legs out in front of us, and let our minds wander in and out of the tale. Carefree. And then she reads something like, "The poor were not allowed on deck. So that when the ship began to tilt, many of them could not even find the stairs to the upper deck. Most of the poor died in the hull."

Upon hearing this pointless, painful, heart wrenching detail, the little man in the crows nest of my own psyche began calling loudly, "Existential Crisis dead ahead! Turn Turn Turn!!" The little girl at the helm turned. She cranked. She spun. She turned turned turned. And at first, we thought all was well. But that Crisis, that Existential Crisis, was larger below the surface than anyone had thought. And come Saturday night, the deep gash had become evident. What was the point of all that pain? 1500 people died, that many die perhaps every hour! What is the point of all this death? And the life that came first? And the incessant pain of living, the stupid hopes, the absurd dreams, and then death... anyway. And Yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.

So, my psyche turned up on it's back side and dove down. The band on deck played on.

In Wenatchee I had the tremendous (albeit ultimately pointless) good fortune to be in the confidences of a group of folks ages 53-85. They ALL assured me that there is NO POINT. That life is a random collection of interesting experiences and there's NO GRAND PLAN. There's not supposed to be.

Huh? "Supposed to" some how indicates a grand plan. A prescription. Supposed to make sense or not, I guess it just doesn't? Some seem to say that the point of this life is that after you die you meet the five imbeciles that you killed. But then that just begs the freaking questions already. Some say this is all a test of your soul. But either way HEAVEN ends up being some point (which we can't see from here, so we hope it happens in death) at which this whole thing makes sense. And to me, THAT would be heaven.

But perhaps my elders are right. What I demand from life is nothing that it even can offer. It's like ordering at a restaurant in India:
"I'll have mango lassi."
"We don't have mango lassi today."
"I'll have Palak Paneer."
"We don't have Palak Paneer today."
"What do you have?"
"Everything on the menu, you just ask, I will bring it."
"But I AM ordering off the menu."
"Pick anything, I will bring it."
"We don't have naan today."

What I demand from life is nothing more than what I seem to demand from myself which is total consciousness and intention in every moment.

I've been complaining about not being able to think lately. And I realize that perhaps my standards have jumped the shark, as they say. I expect that as I brush my teeth, I will be fully conscious of the love I am showing for my body and the hope I am displaying in my longevity, long enough gevity to need solid teeth for the next 6 decades. Is that too much to ask?


So, here I am, accepting that perhaps not every foot fall upon these golden wood floors, or checked tiles warmed by morning sun, will be carefully undertaken with gratitude for our good fortunes, thanks for the people that layed them, thanks to the elements for their creation and thanks to the termites for dining elsewhere. No, sometimes, I am going to just have to walk across the floor to some sort of destination, without thinking about it.

I gotta say, that for all that mooning about the journey being SO important, I'm all about the destination today. It rocks. And that messed up journey is finally over (can I say that or will the gods strike me down and chain me to a rock for monsters to eat?). We'll call the house Ithaca. It didn't take a full twenty years. Just eight. But we're impatient moderns. Eight years IS twenty. And I want those eight to make sense by morning.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothr's Dae

First we have some business to attend to. It's another announcement. This is because, shockingly, not EVERYONE that loves me is on Facebook. That's good because I don't have that many friends on Facebook. So... here's what you probably already know: we got the house! I drive to Spokane tomorrow to sign the final set of papers. I've signed 4687 sets already, but this is the final final set! Huck's being sent to Montana for the week, so I'm signing for the both of us (queue evil laugh).

Complicating and simultaneously simplifying the process: the "sellers," whose house was on the market for 4 months and subsequently had 45 days notice, have declared that they NEED the whole legally allotted time to move out. Their time runs out at 9 pm Wednesday and that's just how long they intend to be there. That's not my style, but apparently they ARE going for "skin of their teeth" style points. This means however, that I don't have to drive back to Spokane to pick up the keys on Wednesday, but Huck can do that Thursday. These are a lot of irrelevant details, I can see. However, that's where my brain is.

But, more importantly, this announcement means that I will be internet-ent-ly silent for some days now. Do not be alarmed. I am merely loading up a moving van for the fourth time in less than a year. Then I will be unloading a moving van for the fourth time in less than a year. What's that you said? You want to help? You're dieing to clean our apartments? You're longing to lift an old heirloom piano? You're soul aches for a chance to cleverly situate boxes. Yes, I thought that's what I heard. Bless your soul. Be here by 4 on Friday.

So anyway, on to the next source of news: Mother's Day!
This galactic-wide holiday produced another full set of children's artwork and projects. Yes, I did tear up. Both at the sentiment of it all, and at the fact that I have no place to put this stuff.

Blue woke up early, dressed herself, cleared off dinner plates from last week... er night... I swear. Washed the table. Spread her favorite table clothe. Then chopped up fruit salad and toasted toast for everyone! Wow. It wasn't much of a surprise though, and included my NOT sleeping in, as I basically sleep in the kitchen. Breakfast is always in bed in an apartment this small.

And Coyote was about to take off on another crying adventure today. These things don't stop once they are started. But I said, "My god, son, not today, PLEASE! It's Mother's Day!" And he said, "Oh!" and trotted off happily. You might find this a relief, but not I. No... the problem with this event is that he revealed to me that he CAN do this. He can simply chose to NOT cry. Which I suspected was the case, but could never prove it. Now there's evidence; he cries because he CAN and he WANTS to. I expect a certain amount of crying, but he's way over the top with his quota. He could not cry for 20 years and that would just barely balance out the past 4. I'm compassionate, usually. I try to be. But sometimes, don't kids just need to suck it up and deal?! And that's why that lady who tried to have kids for 3 years thinks I'm a shitty mom. Because I think my kids should learn some coping mechanisms so they don't cry CONSTANTLY. But her kid...OMG...her kid is god and if her kid wants to cry over a dropped Cherrio, well... she is going to sit there and hand her tissues until her baby graduates from college. That's because her kid is a MIRACLE and mine were, obviously, mistakes. Any competent god could see that.

But, I'm actually an awesome mom and I do make lots of sacrifices for my kids. For instance, just the other week I actually wore Khaki pants for Coyote. YES! I DID! And I'm proud of it... but not proud enough to have taken photos. Nothing makes me feel dorkier than I deserve to feel like crisp, sheening, Khakis. I wore them in South Carolina, but only to save my life, literally. They are the Uniform, if Confederates can be allowed to say that word. I haven't owned a pair Since until I got this notice that Coyote's Montessori School was having this float in the Apple Blossom Parade and all the parents had to wear Khaki's and PINK SHIRTS!! These ridiculous costumes had a point, apparently. Not sure what. Being a good parent and wanting to ride the float with Coyote, I trotted off to Ross-Dress-for-Less to look for some Khakis. Of course, my idea of Khakis is DORKiNESS squared. And these are the expectations I felt I had to meet. I also picked up a five dollar shirt in the color of "conch shell". It will be a decent addition to my wardrobe with enough bleach.

At the float, I could see I was only 1/2 alone in my discomfort with Khaki's. Most of the parents had some wardrobe addition that was meant to balance out the Khaki's. We were like teenagers, trying to follow the rules and yet also clearly over-stating we were too good for the rules. There were pink shirts flapping open over Bon Jovi T's (I'm not sure how that was supposed to help, but the wearer clearly felt it did.) There were jaunty bandana's and rebellious scarfs, studded belts and movie star sunglasses. I opted for the braids-on-top-of-the-head look, which I realized just added to my issues rather than balanced them. And then I noticed that NOT everyone's Khaki's were lame. I realized my mistake too late. Of course, if one assumes that ALL Khaki's are lame, one will find, largely, lame Khakis.

And then the biggest disappointment was that after all that, I sat down on the float in a way that No One could see my Khaki's, much less gawk in horror at them. And all my fantastic images of people throwing rotten fruit at my sheeny, beige ass bitterly vanished.

Apparently someone "got" the wardrobe and our float won 1st place. I wish someone had taken a picture. It's not every day I win first place in Khaki's and a vagina-pink shirt with my son clinging to my arm, crying.

Happy Mother's Day to me. I leave you with an essay my daughter rote:

"My Spectakler Mom by Blue Palmer
My mom is spectakler and this is why. First, she was born in Canada. Her parents named her S***j***V** B****. Second, when my mom was little she loved to dress up. I love to dress up too. Third, when she was little she abslutly loved chily and corn. I like chily and corn too. Fourth, her job right now is to be mom. I wish to have that vary same job. Fifth, what she likes to do now she likes to hike, right, and draw. I love to do all thos things too. Sixth, My mom rely dosn't like at all in any whay shap or form she abslutly hates doing landry or washing dishis. (But I do anyway) I don't like that ether. (Oh! No! What have I taught her!) Seventh, right now she like to eat portebello sandwiches. I don't lik them. Eighth her favorat color is red. I persenently don't like red. Ninth, her favorat book is housekeeping. I know it's weard mom hates house keeping. Tenth, mom's favorite movie is the Prinsses bride. The prinsses bride is my favorite movie too. Eleventh, Something special too mom is hollding Blue's hand. I think that's funny."

There is SO MUCH wrong about this essay, not to mention the spelling. This could be the only Mother's Day gift that worries CPS. My only job is to be a mom right now... and I apparently don't like 3/4 of that job, which is cleaning. But there's also something to love in this essay too... which is the fact that my own daughter wrote it. And planned or not, she's still just as much a miracle as any other kid, at least.

And to be fair, I love Coyote too. Oh! and my mom also!


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