Friday, December 25, 2009

"...make a little room for a man to hide...

...peaches are nature's candy in a can or cake or pie..."

I don't know why those lyrics are in my head right now... I guess I keep thinking I need a place, somewhere, to make a little room for my heart to hide.


It's strange.

My heart is wrapped around this little person, this little boy who does not know what it is I feel for him and cannot comprehend it yet, and may never. The love of a mother is something that I don't think anyone who is not a mother can understand. I certainly never expected to feel this way. It's the most painfully intense and wonderful feeling I've ever felt.

Always love for me has been mixed with pain. I do not know pure emotions. Everything is mixed: anger and relief, love and pain, joy and regret, trust laced with doubt. My heart is a mixologist, a bartender like no other.

I am so very very happy for you (and so devastated for me).

This is how I can do what is right, even if it is not best for me. This is how I can do what's best for you even if it is not right for me. This, being able to hold two full emotions in balance in my heart, this is how I survive.

It's our first Christmas together, James and me. It's our first winter holiday as a family. And there's a hole where... where someone else should be, but isn't... and I'm doing my best to make sure he doesn't feel the wind whistling through that gap, and this year, he won't, but I can't guarantee that next year or the year after or beyond.

He says "Mama" now. My son, he says it and it means me. My son has a name to call me by. Maybe this is all I really need right now. My body aches to be held, and my soul is calling out into the void, but maybe all I need is to just be a good mother. Maybe if I am that, if I put everything I am and have into that, the rest will fall away... or better, fall into place.

This is Christmas, the winter holidays, the end of the year, the end of a decade, of an era. I hope that the next decade brings me better luck than this past one.

Who am I going to be this next ten years? Who do I want to be? At the end of it, what will I have to show for myself?

I've been sleeping so little over the last many months that I've mostly stopped dreaming. I usually have vivid dreams but they're gone right now. I need them back. I feel like a partial person without them. In another sense, I don't want to defer my dreams until, like a raisin in the sun, they burst. I need to find my dreams again.

What are your dreams?

I want to weld wings made of scrap metal, car doors and such, and attach them to a building. That's the last giant dream I had.

Smaller dreams I've had were of becoming a nurse so that I can move my son and I out of our unfortunate apartment into a house with a yard.

A dream of coming home to someone. Of curling up on the couch next to someone wrapped in their arms, tangled up in their embrace, of being come home to. Of laughing about my child with them, of having someone to hold onto when his pain is too much for just me to carry. I had that one also.

A medium sized dream was of writing books, some for my son, a novel for me.

Everyone has dreams. We have to hold on to them and not let go, no matter how the wind changes or blows. Sometimes, I feel like my grip is loosening on them. That I will let them fall and shatter, but I can't because so much depends on them and on me.


I've been sick for a few days and I feel foggy now from cold medicine, but hopefully this will make sense to you. I'm going to go lie back down.

At the end, the most important thing isn't a dream. It's Love. Always love. Without that, a dream is worthless.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

the day of thanks

Things that I am grateful for:

1. My son.
His health, his smile, his voice, his fingers and toes, his sticky hands, his two little teeth, his bright blue eyes, his wispy bits of hair, his soft delicate skin, his little chubby knees, for the way he pulls up on things, that he recognizes his name, when he sticks his tongue out and goes pbbth! and when he yells "AHHHH Ah ah ah ah! Ah DADADDADAA BABA AH DAH!" when he's in my bed with me in the mornings and he puts his little hands on my face very gently and makes little sleepy mumbling noises. I'm thankful that I get to hold him. When he puts his arms around my neck, the world is a better place.

2. My friends and family.
Thank you for being around me. For supporting me. For loving my son. Sometimes, you may not think you've done anything, but you have. You guys have kept me going. Each of you has given me a gift by being in my life. Each of you has taught me things and continue to do so. I know that having you in my life has made it better and I'm glad that you're still here now that I have a son and that many of you want to be involved in his life as well. I only hope that I can give back to you as much as you have given me.

3. My child's father.
I'm thankful that despite our personal problems, he loves his son and that he tries to be there with and for him. I'm thankful that he does ask my advice and for my instructions on how to do things when he doesn't know, even when it bothers me sometimes. I'm thankful that he's smart and talented and attractive and has good taste in things because hopefully those qualities will make it easier to raise our son to be all of those things.

4. I'm thankful for my job and my coworkers. It's a good place to work and they're good people and have encouraged me and we seem to all get along well which is unusual sometimes. They've been there with me through my pregnancy and through James' infancy offering advice and tangible help above and beyond what I ever expected.

5. I've been lucky. Despite my occasional isolation, depression, and the black days, things are good. James is basically healthy; we were in a car accident and no one was hurt, I'm basically healthy. We're basically happy. We have basically everything we need. These are things to be grateful for: that we are here at all, and that each day is new.

Love.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the thin line

A thin red line is all that separates the living from the dead. Hope from despair. Love from hate.

Sometimes, the line is blurred, furred, like your tongue in the morning after drinking too much. Sometimes, it's sharp and bright and all too clear.

The most vehement Christians are often the ones with the most doubt. I know that when I still claimed religion I fought so hard to show how good I was, when all I wanted was to be "bad". I went out of my way to try to "save" people because I was trying to figure out faith and I thought I'd finally feel like a whole Christian if I saved enough other people. I don't know what I was thinking. All I know is that the fever finally broke and I saw clearly that I could not live the life I wanted to live, be the person I was, and be religious too... not without hypocrisy which negates the religiosity. I wanted to be whole and one, as myself, honest.

I found myself over the years though, hiding parts of myself more and more... not being honest... again... because people didn't want the real, undiluted me. I learned to lie by not saying things.

And now, I lie by doing the opposite of what I want sometimes... by saying the opposite of what I mean... and it's not all the time... it's just... I can't even explain it... I'm tired of being hurt... and being honest gets you hurt. Telling someone you love them is the scariest and hardest thing to do... and when they tell you they hate you... and act like it... well... what are you supposed to do? You can't just keep saying you love them... you can't just keep throwing yourself against a wall... you can't keep letting them tear you apart on accident... you just have to start telling yourself that you don't love them anymore... and fight everything in you until it's true.

I am not zen. I will never be a Buddhist... or spiritually enlightened I guess. Faith escapes me... like water through my fingers... like a reflection in a mirror you can never touch.

I am full of fire and light and energy and pain. I am still so hurt... so angry... so broken.

The only person in this life who gets all of my undiluted love is James, my son. And I protect him from my pain. I don't want him to know the depths of my sadness. He is the best and truest thing I ever did. He is the most amazing little person. When he hurts, I hurt. When he smiles and laughs, it salves my wounds. It keeps me going. He is the reason I can get up in the morning. He is why I am still here.

There are all these strange pieces of me that got broken when I found out that I was pregnant. There's the piece that wants to do right and what is best. The piece that is fiercely possessive. The piece that wants to run and play. The piece that never wanted to grow up. The piece that would sacrifice anything for someone else's happiness. The piece that is wracked with guilt. The sexual libertine. The addictive personality. The depressive. The logic bound cynic. The dreamer. The piece that creates. The piece that writes like this. So many little pieces.

I've been trying to get myself back together, but it's hard. There are all the main pieces still there: the sarcastic, darkly humorous girl, the girl who never got touched enough in the right ways, the girl who can't sleep, the girl who loves with her whole self... that girl came back... I never thought I'd see her again. But there are parts of me that are fighting with the others, to be heard and expressed.

Sometimes, when my son wakes up in the night and cries out, I go to him and pet him until he falls back to sleep in his crib. Sometimes though, if he just can't seem to get himself back down, I scoop him up and bring him to my bed with me. The other morning after a rough night for us both, I woke up to his tiny hands all over my face gently touching. When I opened my eyes, he smiled at me and made little noises. It was sweetness embodied. Those are the things I never want to forget. It was at least as good as, if not better than, getting VIP access to a show. I've come to realize that I lived my life up to this point, for those moments. I just didn't know it before.

And so, at times, I am fulfilled. The boy is the sun around which I orbit. What else could I need?

But at times, I am a bird trapped in a golden cage beating my wings against the beautiful bars. I need to be OUT. I need to go be with people. I need to be touched. I need to not be responsible. I need to be loud. I need to shine.

It's the Me versus the Mommy.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Un-mad yourself.

Un-mad... Your! Self!

Un-sad... Your! Self!

Get happy. Get happy. Get happy. WOO!*

This morning at James' daycare, they were playing PYT and Material Girl and some other 80s hits when we walked in, so, even though I was running late, I took a minute to bounce and dance with him a little to the beats. He loves bouncing. The kid is going to be a dancer, he's going to be a menace on the floor one day, I just know it. If he's like me, he'll have a slightly off rhythm and only find maybe one person in the world who has that same hitch in their step. Hopefully, unlike me, he'll be able to figure out how to make it work with that person. Anyway, for the meantime since we can't step on eachother's toes, we do great at dancing together. :)

Leaving him behind, even though I know he loves hanging out at the daycare, playing with the toys and the other kids there, and that the teachers really enjoy him and he enjoys them... for me, it's still hard. Every day, walking away from my son tears at me. The best parts of my day are waking him up in the morning, coming back for him at the end of the day and seeing his face light up when he recognizes me, playing with him, feeding him his dinner, and putting him to bed.

I was told the other day that I seem like an angry person sometimes. This bothers me. I'm not an angry person. I'm just a person... who is sometimes angry or sad or whatever... but who is also happy sometimes... who loves to dance, to write, to sing, to create, and to play with her son. I love to be touched by the right people in the right contexts (strangers beware... grrr). I love getting a good hug sometimes. I laugh. I love to laugh at things that are funny, especially the things that don't hurt anyone. Of course, I admit that I sometimes laugh at the horrible things that people do to eachother or that happen to them, like on FML, but who doesn't? I've had FML days too... and they're horrible when they're happening, but sometimes, they're funny later.

Like the "Who's Your Daddy" party. No, actually on second thought, still not really like that. That's still not really funny to me but I can see how it would be to someone without children or who didn't know the backstory. (Backstory: my child's father decided to throw himself a pre-Father's Day keg party, theme it "Who's Your Daddy?", cohost with and hold it at the house of a girl he slept with during one of our off-times and who later pretended to be my friend and then backstabbed me, and, in spite of the fact that he gave me a lot of hell about paternity [even after the test came back 100% conclusive], he didn't even mention Mother's Day to me, and he barely saw his child during the weeks leading up to this shindig despite my constant invitations for him to do so, still expected me to show up to this special event with our child.) Anyway, if it had happened to someone else, without the same background, I might've chuckled, but would still have said that it was inappropriate to use that phrase as a Father's Day theme. As it was, at the time, I was incensed. Now, I mostly just feel bad that it got blown up so hugely. James' father's sense of the appropriate is obviously rather different from mine. I shouldn't've gotten so angry, but the shock of the total inappropriateness (which is the same thing other people would find funny about it, like a shirt for a baby that says, "Birthcontrol FAIL" on it) knocked me for a loop. I should probably just have told him we weren't coming because it was scheduled to begin right around James' bedtime (true), and kept my upsetness to myself until I could find a better way to express it.

I need to learn to laugh off, or not care about, more things.

The other day there was a storm in the area. I literally got back to work from biking to and from the daycare to feed James his lunch when the sky opened up. I was so happy that I missed the rain. Anyway, it poured all afternoon and I had my fingers crossed that it would stop before I had to go back out in it to pick him up. Amazingly, it did stop... just long enough for me to get almost halfway there and stopped at the longest light in the area (the ones that cross 38th street here all take a super long time to change). I wear glasses and luckily, my bike helmet has a little bit of a bill to it so that helped keep them somewhat clear, but while waiting for the light to change, I got completely soaked through. It's not like there was cover to take, and it's not like the time wouldn't continue marching on or that they'd not charge me for picking James up late just because of rain. At first, I was upset... but then, I just gave up. The wind was blowing the trees all around, green pecans were falling on the street (and a few pelted me), cars were splashing puddles, the rain was HARD, and my backpack was heavy and wet. And, I just started laughing. Because OF COURSE, it would stop raining just long enough for me to get partially there, Of Course I'd get water all inside of my car when I finally got to it. Of Course. When I finally got to James' daycare, I caught sight of myself in a mirror and realized my biking shirt was now seethrough and I was wearing a black bra. Whee! I couldn't stop laughing at myself. And then, to cap it off, the sun came out as soon as I picked James up (wrapped in a blanket to keep him dry) to take him outside to the car. The universe totally got me, and it was hilarious in its own special way. I'm sure the daycare people all thought I was a nut.

It was a: Laugh or you'll start crying, Laugh because you've stepped outside yourself and you can see the schadenfreude all over the place, Laugh to take the fire out of it all, Laugh in the face of certain death, doom, and destruction, Laugh and the world will laugh with (at) you, moment.

I totally laugh at particularly horrible diapers, too... because, my god... such a little man shouldn't create such a massive, revolting mess... and I know what he eats! It sure doesn't look or smell like that on the way in. Yikes. There's nothing to be done about the big nasty except clean it up and make sure that James is comfortable. I guess if he can poop that much it means he's eating plenty, so that's a good thing. Farts are also generally funny... unless they're directed at you.

My coworker just came by and asked if I could change fifty bucks. I said, "Sure." He handed me the bill and I said, "See, I can change it from your hand into my pocket." My sense of humor is literal. It's sarcastic and verbal. It can be off-putting at times. This, I know about myself, but it's not like you can take lessons in how to be funnier to the masses... or, well, you probably can, but I've got better things to learn right now.

I think things would be better, easier for me to be happy about, if James and I were more secure and I weren't worried about where we're going to live, how I'm going to make ends meet, or about my personal health (for financial reasons, I have to wait till after 9/1 to go in to discuss some issues). When I finally get all of that settled, it'll help. I've got a lot of ideas for how to make things better for James and I, and I'm working on them. The problem is that they're mostly all things that can't happen or be finished TODAY, or have an immediate effect. Like Phil Collins (and The Supremes, and Lady O, and whoever else) say(s), "You can't hurry Love. No, you just have to wait. Love don't come easy, it's a game of give and take." But replace the word "love" with "life".


*I sing that to James while I'm bouncing him when he's upset sometimes. I think that being a mom has turned me into a cheerleader of sorts. Weeeeird.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How is one supposed to do this?

How is one supposed to do this being a single mother thing?

Some days I want to take a time machine back in time, find myself, shake that younger me and yell: "Never sleep with ANYone EVER! Well, actually, I know you will, so, how about, NEVER with anyone who is "just a friend", NEVER with anyone without at least two forms of birthcontrol, and NEVER with anyone who doesn't love you because if you get pregnant and keep the baby, having a guy in your life who hates you and isn't interested in children, is a terrible thing to do to yourself and your child."

I love my son so much. I loved him from the first moment I saw him as a tiny flickering bean on the ultrasound screen. I know it's at least partially because I loved his father that it was so easy for me to love him, but I've loved him for himself too... even when he punched my bladder, kicked the hell out of me, stretched my rib cage until the ligaments ripped, and eventually well, caused me to be in the most concentrated form of physical pain I've ever experienced... for over THIRTEEN HOURS. I've been reading the books and web sites, and all kinds of things trying to learn everything I can and do everything I can to be a great mother for him. I send all kinds of things to his father about being a good father, too... but I don't think he actually reads most of what I send him. I honestly think the guy knows more about the Obama's eating habits than about his son's. It's really frustrating. I feel horrible because I know the guy didn't want to be a father, and because my son deserves a good father, and I don't know how to give either one of them what they want or need in that way. Maybe James' father really does love him, and maybe somewhere in him, his heart is telling him the right things to do and ways to be, but what comes out of him as action sometimes belies that.

It's like Star Wars: Darth Vader loved his son, too. (No, my child's father isn't a super villain or anything... but if he was, his name'd be something like The Party SlOB and he'd live in The Lair of Perpetual Layers... of... Stuff.) Unfortunately, Darth Vader showed his love by hurting the people Luke cared about, trying to turn him evil, and cutting off his hand before he finally did anything that resembled what the rest of us think of as love... and it killed him to do it. Yeehaw. Darth Vader didn't have to worry about trying to rebuild trust or a relationship with Luke. He also didn't have to say he was sorry for anything he did. He just did a big dramatic thing and was done. They had a party for him.

I think that's a problem these days. Almost no one says they're sorry for anything anymore. And maybe they're just not. Maybe as a group we're kind of a bunch of unapologetic buttholes these days... but as for me, I apologize. I do honestly and profoundly feel bad when I hurt other people. I do hope for forgiveness and reconciliation and I am proactive about it. I don't wait for "time to heal all wounds"... and maybe that means I rush into trying to get reconciled before people are ready and that makes things worse between us. I don't know.

I've talked to several people lately who were raised by single mothers (and totally came out great!) and I want to ask them: HOW did your mother do it?! But without being too intrusive or whatever. I mean, I really, honestly just want to know. Not all the logistics so much because lots of things have changed (thank god for cheap disposable diapers!) but the emotional stuff, like, "How did you get through the days? Or, the nights? What did you say when your kid asked where Daddy was or why he didn't live with them? How did you find the strength? Where? How did you stop loving that man enough so that it didn't hurt to look at and love his child? How did you stop feeling things for him enough to be pleasant with him or to at least not react to him or to provocations (actual or perceived) on his part? How did you protect yourself from your child's father while trusting him with your child? How do you protect your child from your dating mistakes if you ever date again? How do you fulfill your dreams and support your child so that he or she can dream and chase their dreams, too? How do you balance work and life?"

I don't know how many steps it'll take to get from here to zen, but I think the following is a good first step.

Step One: Cut Out Distractions

I talked with a counselor recently who told me that I'm doing really well all things considered. She says that I have to fully commit to being James' advocate and warrior, and that anything coming between me and my obligation toward him, should be avoided. In that vein, she told me I should commit to not dating or even trying to meet any guys until after James is a year old. Since I was crying and told her I never wanted to date again EVER, her advice was slightly more reasonable. In all the years I've been dating... I guess since I was 17 or so, I haven't been single for as long as I have now committed to being. So, from now until sometime after 4/1/2010, my baby is my copilot, he's my dance partner, and he's my focus.

Over the years, I have been given, and have purchased, a few battery operated acquaintances. Pretty soon, I'll probably get them out and stare at them for a long time. Probably a while after that I'll get around to putting batteries in one or two of them. Or maybe I'll just become a nun or something. I'm not a prude or whatever, but a toy is no man like a fast food burger is no gourmet dinner, etc.

Man (is Greater than) Toy
Ride in a Ferrari (is Greater than) Ride on the Bus
Gourmet Meal (is Greater than) Fast Food*

Are my preferences clear? Goodness, now I'm all distracted. Ferrari. Yum.

Another thing I'm going to do is trim down the focus of this blog. It's going to be less about the stuff going on in Austin and more about what it's like for me to be a single mother. If you want to know about events/ coupons/ etc. though, I post things like that on my twitter account and sometimes on Fb.


=h=

* For some reason >'s turn into weird formatting or DISAPPEAR ALONG WITH HALF THE TEXT THEREBY RUINING MY ALLUSIONS when I use them sometimes. UGH.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

I told myself this every time the father of my child broke my heart. I told myself this when I went home and didn't hear from him about his son. I told myself this over and over again and believed it when someone else came along and picked us up. I believed that I was finally a treasure to someone. I believed that my son and I would be treasured and valued and treated well... and we were. But, the person who seemingly gave us this value is leaving. And I've been wrecked over it.

I found myself thinking, "One man's trash is also another man's trash."

And.

I.

Got.

Angry.

I try so very hard not to be angry. I try so hard to just pull the plug on such emotion because it's destructive and not productive. When I do lose my temper, I do my best to channel it into other areas. I can clean a lot of things, get really organized, and run/ bike really far when I am angry. I don't want to let it out in any way but controlled. My mother and her father both had major anger issues with abusive physical expression. It was terrifying. When I was a child, growing up with those examples, you can imagine how I reacted to things... as I've grown, I've broken down almost all of that. Over the last year, I have thrown things at other things, I cleared a table of debris very expediently by tossing everything onto the floor, and I have harmed myself, but I have also walked away from someone whose face I wanted to beat in so badly that I was literally shaking. I have walked away from so many fights and escalations this year. Honestly, I know I'm a far cry from perfect, but I know that I'm better than I was when I was younger. I'm glad that James is getting this Holly and not the girl I was even 5 years ago.

Anyway, it's not anger at the guy. Honestly, when he said, "There was no way to know how hard this whole thing would be until we tried it," he was right. I tried to warn him about it, but even I didn't know how hard it would really be. We're both good people. I know I made a good faith effort. I appreciate everything he's done for James and me. He says it's over now, and if that's really the case, then I need the ending of that to be clean and clear. We can try being friends later but I've had enough muddy waters surrounding the beginnings or endings of my various relationships. That's how I have James and while I certainly wouldn't put him back, he's enough children for me.

I am angry that I let myself believe that my value, that James' and my value together, needed validation by a man. That we were only treasure if someone else said we were. Well, pardon me, but FUCK THAT. Sometimes I amaze myself with my gross idiocy.

I'm angry that I often feel like a bad mother because James' father hates me. I'm angry that I feel that because I can't fix things with him, or figure out how we can get along, that that has any reflection on my relationship with my son or on his future success in this world.

I'm angry that I didn't listen to myself before jumping into a new relationship I wasn't ready for because I wanted so badly to have a family environment for James, to have love for myself, to share this experience with someone who wanted to be here with me, I wanted so much... but it wasn't what we needed. What we needed was more time to work things out on our own, just James and me. What I did was weak. It's not a mistake I'll make again.

I don't know how to balance personal fulfillment with taking care of my son's needs yet, but I'll learn. This isn't the time for a new relationship. This is the time for me to buckle in and get our life figured out. Yes, it would be nice to have been rescued for real, but I can do this on my own too. The world doesn't need a superman and neither do I.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I love being James' Mommy. I love being the first person he sees in the morning and the last person he sees at night. I love feeding him, changing him (even when it's disgusting), I love washing him and clothing him. I love listening to him make all kinds of sounds. I love watching him inch and scoot around and try to sit up. I love kissing his hands and feet and face. I love tickling him. I love the look of surprise on his face when we play peekaboo. I love that he lights up when he sees me and that he quiets down if he's fussing and I pick him up. I love that he's so bright. I know what it means to say that someone is the light of your life now. He is everything to me.

What I don't love is all the stress about money and where to live and insurance and going back to/ being at work (even though I like my job and coworkers). I don't love being James' chauffeur to and from his father's house. I don't love having to make sure that both my house and his father's house are safe for him. I don't love staying up nights worrying about our future.

Being a mom is really hard. It's vastly harder than I thought it would be, and believe me, with my imagination being as good as it is, I knew it would be very hard. I just didn't count on being so tired, or on getting sick from being tired. I have to take better care of myself because I'm James' main support. I think I might be his everything, too. I know he knows that there are other people out there, but I'm the main person he knows. I'm his best friend in this world and I think he knows I love him more than and differently from anyone else.

It's fascinating to me to watch him figuring out that we aren't the same person. It takes a baby a little while to realize this, but he's figuring out that my hands aren't his (although I let him play with and chew on my hands). He's figuring out that he's his own little man and that sometimes, it'll take a little while for me to come get him, but that I will come. He's started doing this thing when he first wakes up where he starts "talking" and gets louder gradually until I answer him or come see him. It's really cute, sort of like this: mmmmmrrrrrrrmmmmglllllrrrrrr... ... AhhhglalGALAgala orrrrmmmmuguhlugulug... ... AHGLaaahhrrrruuuhhhhLRRRRRLLLLRRRRRRRUH... ... AAAHHHGAGAGALLLLLAAAHHHHRRRROOOOOOMMMMM (By this point I'm usually right on top of him picking him up out of the crib and he's all smiles because he knows he's got me.) He doesn't even hardly cry when he wakes up now because he knows I will be there.

I never knew I could feel like this. It's both the best and scariest thing in the world to have so much trust and faith placed in me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Trying to find a better way.

The father of my child sent me the most perfect article ever the other day about how much people spend on raising their children to 18: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090804/ap_on_re_us/us_fea_parenting_cost Despite my insistence that this has to be possible because somehow people do this who are less smart and talented than me (of course, many who are smarter and better than me too)... it just is so daunting at times. I'm glad that James' father is paying for daycare. That's a huge burden off me, but it's not enough. There are diapers and clothes, and all kinds of other things to buy, there's laundry to be done, dishes to be washed, breastfeeding, there are all kinds of things that I do for my child and time spent, that don't have a price-tag on them.

My current job is a good one for a single girl. It's secure, stable, has good benefits, and I've been there long enough that I get longevity pay. But, it's not nearly enough to support myself and a child. Adding James to my insurance policy subtracted over $300/month from my paycheck. I was barely breaking even before having him while paying $550/month in rent with all bills paid as a roommate in a house. Right now, we're in an efficiency and I'm paying the rent on it, but not all the bills, and the rent goes up by $200/month in November, so I'll have to find a new place. A new place means deposits. I also eventually need to get James his own room. That would mean at least a one bedroom place versus an efficiency. I think about all of this financial burden, and I start shaking. I don't even own a TV anymore, my toaster oven got broken during the moving (about 4 times in the last year), and my computer is a franken-machine with its cooling fan on the outside. I have about a year left of payments on my car before that's all wrapped up. My credit cards will take a bit longer since I'm just paying the minimums right now, but I've got them both at really low interest rates. I've got student loans, consolidated, and at a really low rate. I've done about all the trimming I can do in those arenas. I'm going to see if there's a way to trim my cellphone plan. I've also been considering finding a new home for my two much beloved cats. I just don't know where else I can save money. Really, the only way to do better here is to make more money somehow.

I tried to pick up a second job, but I'm not doing well with it. My time and attention have gotten hijacked.

I've been looking for other opportunities within the University, but there's not a whole lot right now that pays better that I feel confident about going after. I've been racking my brain, trying to think about what I'd be good at and what I want to invest in (other than James). For a while, a few years ago, I thought maybe being a teacher would do it for me, so I did an online "get your certificate" bootcamp sort of thing, took the tests, aced the shit out of the tests (I am a good test taker), and got a conditional teaching certificate. If I'd gotten a teaching job and survived it for a year, I would've been a fully accredited teacher. Unfortunately, I chose the wrong certification: middle school, and basically got laughed out of the job fairs I attended. "You haven't been around this age of kids since you were in junior high? You haven't been in a classroom as a teacher ever? HA HA HAHA... oh um, I'm sorry, I don't mean to discourage you... Follow your... ah ha heh hum, follow your dreams and all, right?" followed by more snickering and looks of disbelief. Anyway, that sort of reaction, in company with the nightmares I started having about being in front of a room of 30 evil pranksters (which was fueled by stories from some of my brilliant friends who used to be holy terrors) and I decided that that probably wasn't the best career move for me right then. I think that maybe if I re-certified, but for the little kids (EC-4), instead of the middle school age range, I'd probably do alot better with it. It'd be nice having summers off to be with James. Teachers don't get paid all that much more than I am getting now and their jobs are alot harder too, but those weeks off really help even it up. I could get a part-time second job during the summers maybe, or I could keep James home from daycare and save some money that way.

Other ideas I've had are: write some children's books and find someone to illustrate them. It can't be that hard to get things published. I've seen some pretty lame kid's books since I've been looking at things for James. I don't think I'd be the next Dr. Seuss or anything, but I can rock a rhyme, I love to write, and I'm pretty sure I can come up with likable characters and a formula that would sell. I just need time to devote to it. I need time to actually think an idea through.

Two days ago, James and I almost got killed by some douche in a little red pickup truck that decided to abruptly make a right turn from the lefthand lane and cut us off. I had to slam on my brakes, the ABS came on, and we narrowly missed him as I honked wildly and screamed. The guy didn't even look. I didn't have time to think about it really or tell anyone about it. James and I made it home, and I put him to bed. Then I had a brief conversation with the guy I've been dating (since the father of my child told me he hated me shortly after I gave birth to our son) and he reiterated that he's most likely going away permanently in the near future, but that he really likes me and James alot, and I lost it. The accident I avoided was forgotten in the wake of the impending shit storm in my future and my doubts about my abilities to provide for my child or maintain an adult relationship. I left the room and called my mother. She tries to be encouraging, but after telling me I should look into welfare (which is one of the worst things I can think of doing) and telling me that it can't be that hard to raise a child alone because she did it [even though she didn't work and her husband was in the Navy and definitely coming home, and definitely loved her], her main solution to most of my problems is to offer to take James... and that would be worse than slowly starving myself to death I think.

I've also thought about going back to school. I'm smart enough to do pretty much anything I want, it's more a matter of time, finances, and commitment. Being able to afford to take care of James and myself while I'm in school would be a major difficulty. I'm already running myself ragged with just a job and a baby. Adding school into the mix might make my head explode. However, I've got two different ideas on what to do if I were to go back. One idea is nursing. There's a program I heard about where you can get certified as an RN in a year if you already have a Bachelor's degree and you meet the prereq's (of which there are about 30 hours, so that would take me a little while). ( http://www.utexas.edu/nursing/html/academics/ae_msn.html ) I don't want to deal with people dying, but I think I could do preventative maintenance or women's health sorts of things without too much problem. It would take me about a year to do the prereq's if I took 3 classes per semester for three semesters, then a year of full-time intense school to get my RN certification, then I'd work for 2 years and end up with a Master's of Science in Nursing. If I were careful with my money, I might be able to pay for school while I was working. I also think I could probably get some grants or scholarships as a single mother.

The other idea for going back to school would be law school. I've heard that probate law, things like wills and estate settling and whatnot, will be big in the future. So, if I got into it now, it'd probably be a good time. That would (optimistically) take me about a year to get in somewhere and then about three years of school and extensive loans most likely.

Basically, to be honest at this point, going back to school is a pipe-dream. It'll take too long to see results and I need something faster to keep James and I off the streets. When he's a little older, like when he's in elementary school, so we're not paying for daycare, school will be easier for me to get into/ afford.

My parents have again offered to let me move home. If the relationship is over with the guy (who, at the beginning of everything I thought could be The Guy, because he was such a superhero... I even told people he inspired me... and I've never really said that about ANYONE), since the father of my child "hates" me, and acts nonchalant/ unconcerned when I tell him about my dire financial straits and that James and I might need to move away... and up until very recently has been referring to the times when he sees James as "babysitting", rather than "time I get to spend with my child" or anything even remotely positive-sounding... since I won't be able to afford even the amount of rent I've been paying and keep food on the table or gas in the car, or creditors off my back for long... maybe it would be the best thing.

Somehow people do this. Somehow they do this single mother thing. I don't know how. Honestly, I have no idea. This is probably the lowest I've been in my life. I want my son to have the best. The best father, the best supplemental father (s), the best family, the best things, the best mother, the best life, and right now I'm FAILing in all those regards. For him, I smile and I laugh, and I talk to him and tickle him, and keep him fed and in clean clothes and diapers, soothed, and supplied with toys, even when he throws them on the floor twenty times and I have to wash them. For James, I make myself keep going. I read to him. I sing to him. I fly him through the air and rock him and bounce him and put him to bed. I take naps with him when I can. For James, I'm doing whatever he needs.

I wanted to come back to Austin because it was "my home"... because I love the music, the culture, the food, the people, the potential... but I can't DO any of that stuff now. I can't go to shows. I can't go out to eat. I can't afford a babysitter. My child's father for the most part treats dealing with me and his son like a chore unless someone else is watching... and I can't blame him. He didn't want this. He didn't want us. You can't make someone into something they aren't. You can't make someone feel something they don't. I can't keep the superhero guy around because he's got other fires to put out and I won't stop someone from pursuing something they believe will finally make them happy. I wanted to help him. Hell, I wanted to go with him. But when you love someone or something, you've got to let it go sometimes. Love means that you want what's best for the object of your love. It means that you want them to be happy. I wanted my child, the father of my child, and the guy I was with to all be happy, and I had two of the three done, but that left the guy I was with... and ME out... there just isn't enough of me to go around.

The instant-family isn't for everyone. Especially with ex-girlfriends, ex-friends, and the estranged father in the picture because things aren't settled about his role with his son yet. There's just too much talking about things, time being spent thinking about things, crying, fighting with other people, fighting for your relationship, trying to stay afloat, and whatnot. It's just too much. Even married couples have a horrible time right at first with a newborn and they start off fully committed and usually without any other adults causing trouble except by being overly "helpful" or instructive or intrusive.

I think I need to let go. Definitely of the idea of having a partner, I mean, honestly, right now, what do I have to offer? A lot of hard work and long hours, a brilliant, beautiful, happy baby, with lots of diapers to be changed, drool to be wiped, laundry to do, bottles to be washed, he hasn't even started teething yet, and a stressed out mother who really needs to sleep more, but can't because there's too much to do even to stay up with a normal mom level and not even a super-mom level. Maybe I need to let go of the idea of Austin for a while, too. I'd have more help with my parents in the picture. I might even start getting better sleep and stop crying so much.

I don't know what's best for right now. I've been looking for answers, but there just really aren't any but time. I know that things will eventually get better as I come up with better solutions, more efficient ways of doing things, and hopefully some way to make more money, but right now, things just seem really dark to me.

Friday, July 31, 2009

An assortment of weekend happenings...

This is by no means an exhaustive list as there are hundreds of things to do in Austin on any given day. These are just a few of the things that stuck out for me. :)

Friday Night:


All Austin All Handmade Bash at the Beauty Bar (support your local artisans): http://bit.ly/fjmFW

Miracle Berry Flavor Trip at The Belmont (for a good cause): http://bit.ly/1E7Wq

Peel's Farewell Show w/ {{{Sunset}}} at Baby Blue studio (support local music for cheap): http://bit.ly/CskHC

Buttercup/Deathray Davies and more play at The Mohawk (cd release party, support TX musicians): http://bit.ly/10MGhO



Saturday:

Cupcake Smackdown (family/dog friendly plus yummy!) at One 2 One: http://bit.ly/67Yx5

Room 710's Final Weekend with Pong and Foot Patrol @Room 710 (say goodbye to a great venue, they're having shows every night, but the Saturday one is the one I'd go to): http://bit.ly/Z6pXv

The MJ vs Prince Raspberry Criminal Party at The Scoot Inn (costume contest, great djs, custom clothing onsite, etc.): http://bit.ly/rsAdJ

The Steps / Southside Sanctuary cd release party at Stubb's (local music and local graphic designers): http://bit.ly/2xWZz4

De La Soul at Emo's (do you really need a reason?): http://bit.ly/18sXi7


Sunday:

Free Austin Symphony at the Hartman Concert Park (a family friendly way to get cultural): http://bit.ly/RVPks

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Gadabout

gad·a·bout
(gād'ə-bout')
n. One who roams or roves about, as in search of amusement or social activity.

See also: Synonyms of gadabout


Ugh... so apparently on Jeopardy the other day, which, along with Tyra and Judge Judy, is what people who are unemployed or stuck in their homes either without "the good tv" (i.e. cable or satellite) or much to do seem to watch, there was a person in a sparkly ascot who was introduced as a self-proclaimed gadabout. This, of all things, inspired my child's (unemployed since January for an indefinite amount of time by choice rather than lack of opportunity), father in some way. "That guy's kinda funny," was the explanation. I really don't understand this, so I'm going to say that it's probably a guy thing. Sorry guys that don't get it either, I'm blaming the Y-why-why- why- wh- wh- wh- why-Chromosome (imagine me singing into a vocoder to the tune of Jaime Foxx's "Blame it (on the alcohol)" song) for this one.

I found a link to the self-proclaimed gadabout... http://gawker.com/5325119/meet-john-munson-self+proclaimed-gadabout After reading that and seeing the clips and whatnot, from here on out, I think the term gadabout should be used to describe hipster-douchebags. My friend Leigh and I had a brief talk about hipster-douchebags on twitter the other day.

What I posted: Aren't these two groups sort of the same definitionally? :-P from @ultra8201 : Hipsters meet douchebags, douchebags. Hipsters. Mingle....

Leigh replied: @astar_alone I always thought of a hipster as more of a "fashion" person going for a certain kind of a look, certain labels. A douchebag is...
basically a guido outside of new jersey...and they don't have to necessarily be orange-skinned... so in a nutshell, hipster for "fashion" and douchebag for personality. hence a hipster douchebag in single or combo... or you can have the ultimate scenester hipster douchebag, whom of which should be avoided at all costs

My reply: @schatze78 - Based on your explanation, I'm imagining a Venn diagram: american apparel -hipsdouchesterbag- abercrombie w/circles and colors.


Here's where I tried to draw the diagram I was talking about, but with "gadabout" as the designation for the overlap:

Click for Diagram

Probably if I slept more and didn't live in an efficiency apartment with a four month old, or if I had faith that someone would magically show up to bail us out, I'd want to be a gadabout (at least so far as the pursuing fun with no consequences sort of idea/definition goes) too, but I still don't think I would've ever, even at my most hedonistic, embraced it as one of my labels because I'm a process person. I don't like labels because I know I'm going to change and outgrow most of them in short order. I wonder if there isn't a point in everyone's life where you just want... if not something else, at least MORE? If there's a point where the parties and the drinking and the hangovers get old? What does a self-proclaimed gadabout grow into? Where do you go from hipster? What's the next step in the evolution of your life?

Of course, I guess I should say that, as with greatness, some are born with a label while others have it thrust upon them. Like me with the whole Mommy thing. That's my label now. I wasn't born a Mommy... and I'm still more than just a mom. I'm not too worried about labeling what else I am right now... but gadabout is certainly NOT any part of it. <3

Monday, July 27, 2009

Trainspotting and whatnot

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed- interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing sprit- crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life... But why would I want to do a thing like that?

RENTON: I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who need reasons when you've got heroin?


This movie is one of the first things I saw in the theater when I got to college. My parents kept us from seeing Rated R movies in the house until after I was 17. Trainspotting was far and away the most liberating, horrible, and changing thing I'd seen up to that point. I'd never seen anything about drugs other than Health class films. I'd never known anyone in a club scene. It was sort of a crash course in a whole other world. I even read the book. (The glossary was a huge help since it's written in dialect.) I chose to read this book and watch this movie. I chose to bail on the goody two shoes life and be someone radically different in college... and not having the tools to deal with that choice, I got crushed like a bug by people who take advantage of people who are anxious to lose their innocence. I tried on a hundred different suits and I survived it but that's not the point here.

I didn't choose a regular life with the washers and dryers and game shows and all of that because I wanted to know more than that, because I wanted to experience other things. I still haven't chosen whatever life that is because I still want something more than that. I don't look down on the people who have all that, it's a nice life if you can swing it, and who knows? Maybe one of these days I'll turn into someone who wants that stuff, but for now, I mainly just want enough to get by and maintain my artistic integrity. I will never sell my soul for a job just to get THINGS... but I'm starting to feel the pull to get things for my son. It's weird, I want him to have EVERYTHING, but I don't want him to be spoiled. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.

History and its place.

Tomorrow makes it a year since I found out I was pregnant officially. I'm one of those people who, once I've discovered something interesting or out of the ordinary, starts noticing every little thing about it and I'd noticed alot of strange things happening to my body. I thought that I'd hit my head too hard while playing soccer and had finally shaken something loose in there because I was clumsier than I'd been since Junior high and kept getting dizzy and had other issues. (Eight concussions including a very severe one my senior year of highschool made me a little paranoid about aneurysms and damage and whatnot.) Turns out, it wasn't that at all. Turns out that I wasn't brain damaged, and that I wasn't finally losing it. Turns out that yes, my world HAD shifted and I was unbalanced because my center of gravity had completely changed both physically and in every other possible way.

Science has come so far that once I went to the doctor we were able to track back to the very day James was conceived. But before that, sitting at home 20 days after the fact, holding my breath, it took mere seconds for the official word in black digital on the pregnancy test to abruptly appear: Pregnant

I forgot to breathe for a little while right then and every possibility ran itself through my head from abortion to adoption, from running away and not telling anyone to killing myself, I had to sit down for a while. I wanted a cigarette more than anything in the world, but when I went and found my pack, all I could do was look at it, crush it in my hands, and throw it away. At that moment, basically the choice was made, but there was a great deal of agonizing over it after, of course. From that day through the present and for the rest of my life though, my center of gravity is my baby. James. My world revolves around him.

I've been keeping notes on my facebook page. I've been debating over transferring them here or just leaving them there and starting over.

It's hard when your whole life has been turned upside down and inside out not to grab at the familiar. Not to hold onto what was. New things are scary. New routines, new people, new selves. I'm not ever going to be the same girl I was a year ago. I'm still trying to figure out what sort of girl I am. Or woman really. I think that maybe one of the hardest parts of all of this right now is that girlhood really is over.

James isn't hard to care for. It's easy to take care of this baby. He's happy and healthy and active and wonderful. It's the rest of things that are hard. Taking care of me. Taking care of the bills, the chores, being back at work. All of that is hard. Trying to figure out how to interact with James' father without crying about it (the loss of one of my best friends, the fact that his life is basically the same and mine absolutely isn't, the fact that all of our friends still go out with him alot and I haven't even seen hardly any of them). Trying to figure out how to keep my friendships together, how to make new mommy friends, how to maintain a new relationship with a new guy, or how to let him go and just be grateful for the time he's been here helping me if that's what he wants.

What's hard is figuring out how to organize everything so that it fits. Knowing what to leave behind and what to keep. Maintaining order for my child when I've always been a sort of disordered person. Trying to cut out all the drama I used to have swirling around me. Drama is for the bored. I don't think I'll have time to be bored again. It's alot easier to let things go when you don't have time to think about them. Of course, when I do have time, everything sort of just crashes right on in and I have to deal with it in a big pile all at once instead of having little bits on a regular basis. I've found that I cry harder, but for shorter periods of time than I did before.

Anyway, I'm not complaining, or well, maybe I am, but I don't think I'm the only one among the mothers who has these thoughts.

I'm not going to cheese this blog up with fluffy platitudes or pretend I'm an uber-mom or that a gentle series of rainbows and stars came out of my uterus in the delivery room and were handed to me with my perfectly clean child. This isn't the movies. The reality of right now is that I love my child with all my heart, I would seriously harm anyone who ever harmed him, and I love to play with him, watch him learn and grow, but some days, his smile and the promise of others in our future together, is basically the only thing standing between me and taking a dive off a really tall condo building. :)

To get back to the real point of this. History and its place. I think I might repost some of the blogs I wrote a while back here and there, just to have some of the background here, but for the most part, I just want to move forward. I'm not that girl anymore. That's not my life anymore. I am a mom. My life is something else.

20 questions about motherhood...

1. How old were you when your first child was born?
30

2. What month and year was your youngest child born?

April 2009

3. How did you feel when you first found out you were pregnant?

Horrified

4. Who did you tell first?

My sister.

5. How many pounds did you gain during your first pregnancy?

~40

6. What did you crave while you were pregnant?
Tacos, chicken wings, creme brulee, coke classic, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, steak, odwalla super food (the green one), seaweed salad, chocolate pudding, human touch

7. Did you find out the gender of your first child? Why or why not?
Yes. I needed to be able to at least try to plan and it helped me feel more connected and less scared of him.

8. Did you have any complications during your pregnancy?
I had Costochondritis and Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy

9. How much did your first child weigh?

8lbs 1 oz.

10. Was your first child early, late, or on time?

Exactly on time, practically to the hour. 8:40am.

11. What is the most difficult challenge or health issue that any of your children have faced?
So far, James is pretty much the healthiest and happiest kid I know about.

12. What's your favorite part of being a mom?

"Talking" with James. Seeing his face light up when he sees me.

13. Do you think it's easier to be a mom or a dad?

If you're a single mother like I am it looks a whole lot easier to be the dad.

14. What is the best piece of advice you could give to someone who is about to have their first child?
It's okay to be confused and to love so much you hurt. It's okay to not know who you are at first because you really won't recognize yourself in the mirror for a while. Get as much sleep as you can, take good care of yourself, and plan before the baby gets here because once the baby's here, there's just no time.

15. Did you always think you'd have kids?
Certainly not.

16. What's been the biggest surprise about motherhood?

When you think there's nothing left, but then there is. I had no idea I could do this or how, but somehow I just am. I can always find the energy somewhere to play with and take care of James even if I haven't slept in days.

17. Are there things you miss about life before kids?
I miss going out. I miss spontaneity. I miss the days when I spent hours trying to figure out what parties or shows I was going to every week. I miss sleeping.

18. How many children do you have?
One

19. Do you plan to have any more children?

No, but I didn't plan to have James until after he was already on his way. I think that every child needs a sibling, so there's a distinct possibility that I'll have another at some point.

20. Who's the mom that you admire most?

Yo mama. :P

Friday, July 17, 2009

What's in a name?

I was never a hipster, but I went to hipster parties and shows, drank hipster beer, and I wore hipster-lite clothes. I was into American Apparel before alot of people. I was one of the first to buy a shirt from Threadless. I like bands that no one's ever heard of. I've totally made fun of people for their lack of taste in music or for not knowing who the "coolest band ever" was... even though that title was awarded to different new bands at random and often. I guess maybe I fit the hipster definition pretty well, even down to the denial part. What can you do?

Anyway, my life changed pretty dramatically when I discovered that I was pregnant, and even more so now that I have a delightful baby boy, but I still love the music and spreading the word about the next big thing. I love the fashion. I still love the feeling of finding out about a cool party and RSVPing and getting on the list. I love telling people about the cool stuff going on, especially the cool free stuff since some of us are working for two now.

This blog is going to be a mix of everything: from my thoughts and feelings on life and my kid and whatnot, to what I love musically, and cool things I find to do or get.

Here's what the Urban Dictionary says about Momsters. But I like the idea that maybe it's a hipster who grew up a little bit and became a mom. <3