Monday, September 16, 2013

A Year Without Summer

It's apparently a one-step-forward and one-to-three-steps-back kind of a thing.  And I'm really sick of it.  My brain has been telling me I've "done too much," but my ego is screaming "What The F*** are you talking about!"

We had a great, if challenging, annual trip to San Diego to commune with Huck's maternal side of the family.  My symptoms were well managed by occasional Ativans and multiple naps per day, many of them on the beach.  And betwixt my moments of shut-eye, fun was had.  I enjoyed the amusement park and zoo, vicariously via voluminous recaps.
Coyote caught on on his second wave of soup!

And I visited with a friend from high school, which was amusing.  I hadn't seen Yuri in the twenty years, since we graduated, and I was a little nervous as I've changed so much and was sure to not meet any kind of expectation. But I was calmed by the memory that Yuri was one of the most reliably nice people in the entire state of South Carolina, and likely hadn't abandoned that trait entirely, if at all.  And also, in high school, she'd just come from Japan and her English was quiet, unsure, and infrequent. Our friendship had involved mostly a lot of smiling at each other and nodding our heads. In fact, I believe we shared more words during our lunch in San Diego than during our entire high school career. The funny thing is that she's lived in San Diego for 15 years.  I've been visiting for 12.  And her husband's office is only a block from where we stay at Mission Beach.  I'd noticed that many of her facebook photos involved very familiar buildings and the exact same lifeguard station we normally hang out around and a meet-up plan was hatched.  It was a great visit and the cool thing was that her English was perfectly eloquent and included the surprise of a Southern California accent.

20 years later
Then my parents came to visit, close on the heels of our late night, zombie return from California.  We tried for a mellow visit and accomplished that in isolated moments.  My mom had the idea to help me can, but I've decided this is a non-canning year.  It's exhausting when I'm in peak condition, but I can't even imagine the fiasco's that would ensue in my current state.

End of Summer Celebratory Snowmen cupcakes!
Then I let the kids talk me into going to watch Huck's band play at a festival downtown. It's supposed to be the largest free music festival in the U.S. and it has the worst, nastiest, makes-me-wanna-puke name ever.  Okay, grab a bucket and I'll tell you: "Pig Out in the Park." The name just oozes good times and classy grub, right? OR, possibly an unholy alliance of eating disorder and exhibitionism. Regardless of the fact that I got to chill in the VIP tent, it threw me over the top. It had been against my better judgment but when your son cries, "Are we ever going to get to do anything fun again?" you go. Then you have a total, crying, hissing melt down wherein your brain actually oozes out of your ears and nose and down a city drain (I believe). Then you go home and sleep for three days.
seedpod of Love-in-the-Mist in the mist

And then school started, while Huck's bipolar job decided to (unannounced) ramp up to 16 hour days for 14 days straight.  This left me doing it all, dawn to dusk, driving to town 4 times a day.  And napping for every possible minute in between. And that left me feeling super angry and sad about my lame-oh life and self.  Driving is still a challenge for me, with all the zooming and my eyes still not better, despite five months of work.  You might think, "Oh, if only she lived in town!  It would be so much easier."  And I am here to tell you that's a fantasy city (Spokane-size-city) people have.  The truth is that it takes 13 minutes to get from our house to Blue's school across town, or Coyote's homeschool school on this side of town because it's all freeway driving. And it takes 15 minutes to get from Blue's school to Coyote's and 20 minutes to get from one of my therapists to Blue's school.  Cross-town driving sucks way worse that out-to-in-town driving.  Anyway, I eventually was able to make a five page spread sheet to help me cope with every damn day being entirely different than any other day of the week.  There's no way I can remember every necessary pick-up, drop-off and extra thing to bring to school without an extensive, externalized memory thing, such as a clipboard with graphs and pre-made lists for each day.  And I guess that's one of those glass-half-full things, whereas I couldn't even make a spreadsheet only a few months ago.

unweeded grass in the mist amidst strawberries
And, if you caught that, why yes, I am homeschooling Coyote this year rather than playing Russian rulette with the roster of un-fire-able teachers at a standard school which was incapable of coaxing his hidden genius out of his crab-shell after three years. Although his second teacher last year did a much much better job with him than his first, it was during the break between teachers that we'd checked out The Enducation Coop and he loved it.  And he also got in to Blue's school based on IQ testing, rather that i-dotting/t-crossing testing and he will get to go there one day a week this year, and full time next.  This leaves me with two days for homeschooling, exactly as I did it with Blue, and he gets five years of school semi-security. I cried with relief when I found out.

One last sip of nectar before I go, don't mind if I do
But by Friday of last week, I was a total disaster on multiple levels.  Coyote awoke at 6:30, jumping and ready to homeschool. "Do we get to do science today? Do we do we dowe?  Or art?  How about I make stuff out of recyclables?!  OR maybe history?  When do I get to study WWII techonology? Whenwhenwhen? Is today cooking day?  I'm gonna make chocolate chip cookies.  Can you come clean the kitchen so I can make my cookies? Do we have all the ingredients? Are you gonna help me? Are you are you areyou?!" And I stumbled out of bed at 10:30: worst homeschool mom ever.

In the middle of all this mayhem and foolishness, Autumn started creaping in.  Flucking Fall.  Normally, it's my favorite time of year: crisp colors, apple cidering, laying down the garden to rest, my birthday, chili (I don't know why I associate that with fall, but I do love a good chili on a fall day), and there's this refreshing nip to the air which acts as a nice foil for the rich sweetness of nostalgia and meloncholy that always coat my soul during these days.  And I love it.  I love it, normally.  This year, I HATE IT.  My left foot keeps trying to slam on the season brakes.  Back it up, earth-darling.  Right your axis, for once.  This fall-crap is just BS. Take it back and apologize.  NOW.  And here's why I think I'm so full of loathing for this fall: I never got my summer.  Not really.  I just shifted naps from the house to the back porch.  I never got the full-on hard-living summer fun.  I never stumbled home from a sleepless camping trip, my back crimped from the hard ground and the rock beneath my sleeping bag.  I never floated the winding river, hot and sweaty on top, frozen in mountain run-off on the bottom.  I never went skinny dipping!  That's a first in 20 years.  I haven't had summer.  Normally, I love the turning-inward of fall, preparing for long dark days with good books and hot tea, finally, after all the balls-to-the-wall raucous fun of summer. But for me, it's been inward all year.  My gardening-lite year did produce rediculous amounts of food.  But in my real life, there's no fruits, no real labors, and no cashing in on the fruits of my labors.  There's just nothing.
Zinnia,darling, you make me want to write sappy poetry

To cope, I accidentally bought a GIANT bar of chocolate and some marshmallows on summer clearance and when I came home Blue jumped to the most obvious conclusion: we were having a s'mores party.  And so I said okay. It's been a long long time since we had anyone over.  So I invited a family for s'mores by the fire, for just a little while in the evening.  It made me feel human again and happy for the two hours they were here, which is two hours less of feeling like an utterly failed human. Even though the fire department came out and told us it was illegal still to have fires in our grassland plateau and even though that was embarrassing, what with our ignorance on display and all, and having to put out the fire just when the coals were perfect, it was interesting at least.  And it wasn't driving kids around town. And it wasn't napping. And so maybe another step forward is coming my way soon.  Just in time for winter.  Maybe this winter I can actually read a book. 


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