Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Caught Up

After an exhausting day, I was looking at Cathy Zielske’s newest book, Clean and Simple Scrapbooking: The Sequel, and the section headed “Finding Neverland” caught my attention. In it Cathy debunks the idea of a magical place called “Caught Up” that all scrapbookers should strive to reach. She says, “It’s very quiet there. And from what I hear, insanely boring. Same food. Same scenery. Same finished albums. And the scrapbookers are scratching their heads, wondering, ‘So this is the place I was trying so hard to get to?’”

This idea resonated with me. It’s true that I have been wanting to get my albums Caught Up (though I haven’t had the desire to scrap for several months) but, more importantly, I have been a leeeeetle bitter about the fact that my life was never going to be Caught Up. At night, when I stagger into the bedroom drained of all my youth and vitality, barely able to utter a complete sentence, the house does not look like I cleaned and picked up and wiped and folded all day. In fact, the house looks exactly like I sat on the couch all day in my bathrobe watching soaps and occasionally screaming at the kids not to murder each other, only getting up to microwave myself a Hot Pocket. That’s how my house looks, despite my best efforts. I don’t do laundry one day, JUST ONE FREAKING DAY, and you can’t walk into the laundry room due to piles of dirty clothes. I sweep and mop the kitchen floor, forgetting that we’re having couscous for dinner, and the next day the floor is crunchy under your feet. In fact, the floor around our table is pretty much always covered in dried food. You could tell our week’s menu by examining the tile. Like taking a soil sample. Every night I went to bed feeling like I hadn't accomplished anything.

Reading Cathy’s words, I felt a knot loosen in my chest. It doesn’t pay to try to get Caught Up, I thought. That way madness lies. Yes, you clean and cook and wash and fold and wipe noses and hineys—and do it all over again without things staying in place. You have to try to do these things for the people you love, instead of trying to arrive at a destination that is impermanent by definition.

I thought of what a Caught Up house would look like: a magazine photo, a Pottery Barn catalog. Unfortunately, it would also mean a house with no children. With children involved, a house would look like that photo for about five minutes. Less, if the kids are jacked up on sugar. The only way my house is going to be like that is when my children are gone. I sat with that thought for a while, and I came to believe that when that happens, I’m actually going to miss tripping over blocks and moving plastic ponies out of the sink to brush my teeth. Because Caught Up may mean Finished, but there’s no such thing when it comes to being a mother.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Freakin' Idiot!

Some days, when it's cold and rainy and there's a lot of whining and snot interrupting whatever you're trying to accomplish, it's better to just stop trying to be useful and watch Napoleon Dynamite.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Currently reading

Over there to the right, I have a list of what I'm currently reading. (I don't know how to put little icons of the book's cover. I have so much to learn about technology, and it'll probably never happen.) Anyway, that list is going to be out of date all the time, since I usually have three or four books going at the same time.

I just finished The Conversations of Dr. Johnson. It's an excerpt from Boswell's Life of Johnson. The part excerpted is, you got it, the conversations. I think that's enough said, don't you?

Amazingly, the Dr. Johnson book wasn't nearly as boring as the other one I have listed: The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud. I read it because of all the rave reviews. I have since concluded that all the reviewers must have been smoking the same drug, because I hate this book. It's pretentious and over-OVERwritten and every single one of the characters make me want to hit them over the head with a mallet.

Not to put too fine a point on it. Anyway, my recommendation is: don't read it. I have only gotten halfway and I won't read the rest--it's a waste of time I won't get back. I rarely abandon books, either: they have to be REALLY bad.

I'd never abandon the book I read this weekend: George Pelecanos's The Night Gardener. I'd heard of this author but never read him (I'm new to the current mystery/crime novels) and boy, was I hooked. Fast pace, totally believable including an ending that doesn't neatly tie everything up in a perfect package yet still feels satisfying, great characterization, AWESOME dialogue (definitely rated R, which doesn't bother me, but just so you know.) I'll be looking for more from Pelecanos.

Sunday, January 7, 2007


Miss Pink had so much fun over the Christmas holidays that she now wants to celebrate all the winter holidays. I blame Elmo for propagating the "War on Christmas." Bill O'Reilly needs to get over to my house stat. (Um, joking. I think that insistence on the total domination of Christmas is ridiculous. There are much more important things to think about than whether store advertisements say "Happy Holidays." I'm quite sure Jesus is not up nights worrying about whether Christians are pushing his holiday onto everyone else.) Anyway, on with the anecdote.

Miss Pink was watching an Elmo "Happy Holidays" video. It starts off with the Christmas story, then goes on to Hanukkah. They described the origin of the holiday, which went completely over Miss P's head, but she went crazy over the dreidel. She's been singing along to the dreidel song, except she heard the words wrong. Instead of "Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made you out of clay," she's been singing, "Cradle, cradle, cradle, I need you how to play." And she really wants a menorah.

I tried to explain that we don't celebrate Hanukkah. It's a great holiday and all, but it isn't ours.

"Why not?"
"Because we're not Jewish."

This didn't make sense to her. (Of course not; she's barely four. She doesn't know there are different religions.) For the moment, she just wants a dreidel and a menorah and a tree and presents. So I dropped the subject and she's forgotten about it by the time I got around to writing about it.

Of course, this is the child who informed me in early December: "Christmas isn't about Jesus." We worked on that, but you know, it's got to be pretty confusing to a little kid: it's supposed to be about Jesus, but Santa brings you all the good stuff. Except dreidels.

P.S. Sorry those of you who commented had to sign up for Blogger. That is fixed now.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

What a year 2006 was. The best way I can describe it: I was asked to contribute to a “Best/Worst Moments of 2006” article on a website, and I knew at once what the best moment was. The birth of my son, my second and (if all goes well) my last child, was exactly what I’d hoped it would be.

I didn’t contribute to the article, though, because I couldn’t be honest about my worst moment of the year. (And it just seemed wrong to lie on a Christian web site.) In October, I slammed headfirst into postpartum depression. I was lucky: I sought and received professional help, my friends offered support even if they had no personal experience with this kind of thing, and my husband was a rock. I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone else I knew, though. How could I explain depression, which for me was more like an electrical storm in my brain than sadness? If you’ve never been clinically depressed, be grateful. The insomnia, panic attacks, crying jags, and hyperirritability brought me to a place I never want to visit again. Trying to write about it as I fought my way out, I wrote, “If I could have ripped the flesh from my skull and stepped out of its confining limits, I would have.” Here’s how I know I was not the same person I’d been: I neither wrote nor read anything until the medicine began to kick in. For me, that’s like saying I was dead.

I had another blog, and I had no desire to post. What could I say? Who gets postpartum depression when the baby is nine months old? (Thanks to an online support group, I found out it’s possible, and my greatest fear was assuaged: that I was somehow “making this up,” that I wasn’t genuinely ill and therefore not worthy of help.) Besides, I had to keep taking care of the children and keep the household running (I’d seen how things fell apart when I did) and keep my four-year-old from killing her baby brother in a jealous fit disguised as loving him too much. This I accomplished, and things are much, much better now. I haven’t even become addicted to the Valium! (That was a joke.)

So here I am. I wanted a new blog, a new start. I have no idea if anyone will be reading. I will try to be as entertaining as I can, since that’s what I look for in a blog. But mostly I will try to be honest, to attempt to capture what one must in a journal: this is what it is like to be me, to think these thoughts and have these feelings, here and now in the year 2007.