Wednesday, July 28, 2010

words to live by

"Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can't change. Kiss slowly, play hard, forgive quickly, take chances, give everything and have no regrets. Life's too short to be anything but happy." ~~ Unknown

My son is the most amazing little guy in the world. He is everything to me.

I would do anything to keep him safe. I would give up anything so that he could have more. I would die for him if there were a choice between his life and mine. In the meantime, I live for him. He is why I am still here.

Evidence of brilliance:
We have a galley-style kitchen and I've put a baby gate in place so that he can't get into it. (There are too many dangers in the kitchen to let him wander free in there yet: knives, heavy things, hot things, electronics, chemicals, cat food, cat box, trashcans, etc. All the cabinets are baby-proofed just in case, but for the most part it's better if he's in the living room playing with his toys than underfoot while I'm trying to cook.) Yesterday I was cooking our dinner and he started bringing me clothes from the couch. (I had gotten all the laundry done late the night before but hadn't hung it up yet.) Normally, he brings me toys and balls, and things and throws them over the gate to me and I'll toss them back out of the kitchen for him. Since it was clothing, I didn't want it on the kitchen floor, so I looked at him and very seriously said, "James, I like that you're bringing me things, but those clothes don't need to be in here, could you take them back to the couch, please?" He toddled off with the clothes while I finished cooking and dishing up his dinner. After dinner, I got a clean towel for him off the couch and noticed that all the clothes he'd brought to me were back on the couch almost exactly where they'd come from. :)

Further evidence:
This morning, I was trying to get us out the door so I was sitting in our room putting my shoes on and he was playing near me so I said to him, "James, we need to get ready to go, it's time to put your shoes on, where are your shoes?" and he ran out of the room. I finished tying my shoes and started to get up to go after him when he reappeared with both of his shoes, came over to me, sat down, and handed them to me. :D

He doesn't say much yet, but he's such a smart little man.

I hug him every chance I get. I pick him up and fly him around (I know I won't be able to do it for too much longer). I kiss him. We snuggle. I read to him. We teach each other things. I tickle him, and he's learned to blow raspberries on me. We play together. I sing to him. We laugh. Our lives are full of love. Becoming James' mother cost me dearly, but it turns out that I've gained so much more than I lost... being his mother is seriously the best thing I've ever done and may be the best thing I ever do in this life. I don't want to waste a moment of the time I have with him.

Thank you for being a part of this with us.

<3

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The things we have to give up... to keep the things that really matter.

"It takes enormous courage and belief to meet your destiny in life; you can see it so closely, and yet you still have to struggle toward it. Once you're aware of its existence, it's more a hard-fought objective than a preordained fact."
Sting


I had thought that I would be able to make all of the life-upgrades I was hoping to make this year. It would've been tight, but at the end of everything I would've been in no more debt than I currently am.

Things have changed.

I'm having to put off a lot of things so I can deal with an abrupt and profound budget short-fall on both the financial and time scales.

The important thing here is that everything will be okay in the long run even if it's not okay right now or for the next few months.

Things would've been easier during this time if my car hadn't just eaten up my savings, but it had to be fixed, and it should now run perfectly (or close to it) for the next 6-12 months. The savings being gone means no new furniture (beyond the table/chairs I picked up for really cheap on C-list). Luckily, I think James will be okay in his crib for a while longer.

I'm exploring options to try to earn more money through part-time jobs. I have two leads so far. I also have some jewelry that I made a while back that I can put on an Etsy site and I've finally got my workbench organized so that I can make more, which will be good until I run out of materials. Through these avenues, I should be able to make enough to keep the internet on in the apartment (which will be how I do one of the part-time jobs and how I keep the Etsy site updated) and to bring in a little to put towards our deficit.

I'm trying to find ways to lower our costs. I've already been clipping coupons and shopping on certain days to get good deals on food. I've got a Costco membership because buying in bulk is almost always cheaper in the long run than buying in other ways. It's just the up-front outlay that is problematic. I keep the AC turned up warm and have programmed it to be more efficient. I've learned to live without a lot of things. I'm learning to use up all of something before buying new. (This includes cutting tubes open and getting every last bit of toothpaste or whatever out.)

I think I've done as much budget trimming on my phone bill as I could, and my interest rates are as low as they can be with my credit cards. I called and redid my auto/renter's insurance stuff the other day and, though I wasn't able to get the amount lowered, am now getting much more service for the same price.

James and I have been eating breakfast out 1-2 times a week so that I can get him used to eating in public and to give me a break from cooking/ give us a way to socialize with others, but I'm prepared to give that up. I'm already cooking/ putting together all of our other meals, usually making 2 big batches of food each week with some smaller meals interspersed, then alternating leftovers through the week so we don't get bored and so we keep our nutrition up by eating diverse things. The only thing I won't cut is our (mostly) seasonal organic fruits/ veggies, but I'm thinking we may need to try the farmer's market approach rather than getting them at the grocery store. I need to do a closer cost-benefit analysis to determine if it's really a better way to do things or not. If anyone's already done that, let me know. :)

The cats are eating a cheaper food and less of it. (They're both a little overweight, so now they're eating only the daily recommended amount instead of what they'd like which is about a third more than that.) I'm not scrimping on their litter though... cheap litter is way more work, way more smell, and way worse for the environment.

I've got possessions I can try to sell. We're going to gear up for the next Mama Cents consignment sale. I was hoping to keep most of James' outgrown things for my sisters for whenever they get started on kids, but, as they say: "Les temps sont durs pour les rêveurs.", and it could be years before they get around to it. I'll look through my clothes/shoes again to see if there's anything that any of the resale clothing shops in town would take. I have a few furniture items that might sell for a few dollars on C-list too. I guess I'll go back through my books again. I hate selling my books. I dream of one day having enough bookshelves to put them all out but at this rate, by the time I have the excess money for more bookshelves, I won't need them... and I guess that'll work out. :)

I'm putting off some medical work I need, and also some that I wanted. (Among other things, I was supposed to have a surgery in September.) I'm not going to die without having any of those things done so it'll be okay to wait a while longer on it. I've got things I can do that'll make things easier on me in the meantime. Maybe we'll be in a better position next year. :)

I'm also hoping that we get a scholarship at our current daycare, the application period starts next month and the discount would go into effect in September. It would help. Another couple of handfuls of sand in our bucket. The other thing that could happen that would be good is if we finally got into UT's daycare because it's slightly less expensive than our current daycare.

I'm keeping my class for the fall. It's already paid for and in the grand scheme of things it's not going to make a huge financial difference, but not taking it now would negatively effect us a lot by setting me back another year. Taking this class now and continuing with classes in the spring/ summer/ etc. is the only way I'll have the pre-reqs done in time to apply to the program I want to be in in 2012. I'm on a five year plan starting in August. When I get done, James and I will be able to have a much better life. The sooner we get to that day, the sooner I can stop fearing for our future so much.

I'm holding on to my ACL pass for now, but will probably end up selling it. The whole festival is sold out and that bodes well for at least getting my money back on it... but my sadness at the thought of missing it AGAIN... is pretty intense.

Anyway, that's where I am so far. I have faith that we'll be okay even if it's ugly for a while. I mostly feel good about what I've done and what I'm doing so far. It's a hard time, but we're moving forward. I just wish I could sleep better. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Listmaking

I've been busy over the last month. The bottom dropped out of a relationship I had high hopes for... and after I hit the ground pretty hard and lay there dazed and confused for a bit... I shook myself out, got back up, and got back to where I was heading before I got really distracted. Which is, as ever (despite occasional downfalls or detours): onward and upward.

Ways I've improved my life over the last few weeks:

Started reading to James every day again. We took a break for a little while because he just wasn't interested but that's changed and now he even brings me books and says, "B'uh! B'uh!"

Got internet at home.

Got an awesome friend's old laptop that she didn't need/ want anymore and started writing again.

Thoroughly cleaned and organized the apartment/ got things together for charity donation/ sale.

Have gotten my ACC admission status updated and am waiting for assessment test results so that I can register for class (the first of several pre-reqs for UT grad school).

Have talked to UT about their Alternative Entry Master's of Nursing program and have a little over a year long plan for how to get accepted so that I can join their program Summer 2012.

Started going to work early.

Started keeping a daily record of all the things I do at work.

Have taken on more responsibilities at work.

Scheduled appointments for various things I've been just living with instead of dealing with.

Stopped buying concert tickets and also have stopped buying extraneous things. I went through a bad spate of purchasing. Done with that now. Have turned inward... and also toward buying used.

Started bringing my breakfast and lunch to work almost every day and using reusable containers instead of plastic bags for the most part. Ideally I'd bring my own food in every day, but sometimes, I'm just too tired at night to do more than pack James' lunch.

Started listening to Spanish and French language tapes at work. I'm hoping to be conversational-ish in a few more months.


Ways I need/want to improve my life that I have either barely started on or am still in the process of getting started on:


Buy new socket covers and rework the child proofing in the apartment because James has figured out how to take the cheap ones out of the wall since my outlets are all loose.

Start going to bed earlier. I'm getting there every few days, but not regularly... and this may be a pipe dream. After all, who has time to sleep?

Register to take the GRE and a prep course.

Get a new phone. The screen on mine is scratched all to hell and every time I drop it it comes apart. I should be eligible for the iPhone 4 in October or so... but I saw this video the other day talking about the Evo phone and, even though I hate Sprint more than bad lettuce, I actually started thinking about other phones as an alternative to the iPhone. Of course, the only real concern with the iPhone and continuing with AT&T is that the plan is more expensive than the one I've got now... but I've really cut down on the texting so I could probably do without unlimited now and with my UT discount, maybe it wouldn't be unreasonable.

I need to actually get rid of the culled items from my apartment (they're living in my outdoor closet which is currently piled high and deep). I should get rid of even more than the stuff in there, too. (It'd help if I had someone not-emotionally attached to any of my stuff to help me do the getting rid of it part... I'm not a hoarder... but I do have some crap that I've carted around for a while for only emotional reasons.)

I have shelves (in pieces) that I need to put up. (I suck at straight lines... and I don't have a level. It's also hard for me to do projects like that when James is running around like a tiny madman. Again I wish for a second pair of hands/ arms/ eyes.) The two shelves that are up from the set of several are heavily used.

New furniture: My mattress/ bed is so old you can feel the springs. James will soon outgrow his crib. There's a particular problem with being a single mother and trying to date while living in a one bedroom apartment with a child. I believe that this can be, if not remedied, at least ameliorated, with a pull-out couch or a futon in the living room. I want to get rid of my computer desk (which is falling apart) and replace it with a dining table so that I can teach my child good table manners. Recap: two beds, a table/chairs, and a new couch. I have no idea how I'll be able to afford such things... but I'll find a way. I'm trying to make my apartment into my safe sanctuary. I've always looked to other people to provide that feeling of safety and security for me... but that's just not really realistic anymore.

Improved work out regimen. I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago, but it feels better again, so it's time to ramp things back up. Prior to the sprain I was running a few days a week, biking to/ from the daycare/ work, and playing soccer whenever I could get the time and a sitter or a playdate for James on the weekends. I have a 7 week training schedule to help me be ready to run 5k races by this fall taped to the wall by my door and I bought running shoes recently. I think since I'm going back to school, I'm going to have to give up soccer after this season and just start running. I'll miss the social aspects and the competitiveness and chasing/kicking things and... well... pretty much everything about soccer, but it's too hard to get to practices or games now. With just running, at the worst, I can do it almost anywhere and I can take James with me in the jogging stroller. I need to add yoga back in and ankle strengthening exercises too. Maybe I'll join a running group for real this fall. I wasn't ready to commit to one this summer. A group would help me socially. I need to meet people... I miss the rush of meeting new people even if they don't stick around... hell, I miss keeping up with friends socially... and I'm cut off from social networking at work now... so I'm at a bit of a loss here.

I need to work on my inner self so that when I'm done fixing my circumstances, I'll be as good on the inside as I am on the outside. I'm tired of being fragile and broken and full of spikes and sharp pieces. I just want to be... whole and round and smooth and fine, completely fine, on my own... and I'm getting there. I guess I mostly just really miss having someone there to sleep next to me, someone to share things with and do things for and with... who is an adult and can reciprocate... but I guess I'm not ready... that's what I've started to believe... I wasn't ready for a relationship when I tried to get into one... and so I acted completely not myself because I still don't know who I am right now... which is what I've been trying to figure out for the last many months. I'm so used to adapting to my circumstances... to being a chameleon and changing to fit where I am (I've done it for years and years and years... not in all ways... just in many) that a question I finally had to ask myself recently was... "do I really like [thing] or did I just like it because [person] liked it"... and that probably means I'm still not ready... no matter how much I wish I were.

Getting out of debt. I'm trying to adjust my spending. I still want to and will make goal-oriented purchases, but I'm eliminating, as much as possible, random expenditures.

Improved interactions with the Child's Father (the CF) while maintaining my personal integrity and keeping my child's safety and mental health as the top priority. I honestly don't know how I can hold my ground and still improve things with the CF. It may not be possible.

Improved relations with my family.

I need to pay more attention to the world around me... I've had a light, but I felt, succinct, handle on politics for a long time, but it's becoming more and more important for me to try to get things right for my son in as many ways as I can, and that includes politics, from the local all the way up.

I also need to figure out some volunteering opportunities. My graduate program application requires them but, even before I knew that, I knew I needed to get my hands dirty in a medical/ emotional sense to really know if I have what it takes to be a professional in this field or not. If anyone has any advice on or recommendations of medically related volunteer ops, please let me know.


Ways my life will improve in the next six months that aren't on the above list:

My car will be paid off in November.

I will be on my way to getting into graduate school.

If I make the above changes I know that my circumstances will change. I want James and I to be so very happy. I want to be the best mother possible and to provide the best things I can for my son. I also want to be the person someone wants to come home to and I want to be the someone a person wants to come home to them. I want to like coming home to myself. :)

It may take longer than six months for true and deep changes to happen... but I'm working toward a defined higher purpose and that's helpful... I have goals and dreams and I'm being as realistic about it all as I can without tipping over into pessimism.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend

James and I had an action packed Memorial Day weekend.

We were house/ pet sitting out in Manor all weekend for our friend Bill, but we came into town and did tons of things during the days.

Friday night we got out there a little late because I was trying to get my apartment a little cleaner before basically not being there much all weekend. I swear I cannot keep up with the chores. Every night after I get James to bed (~8pm) I barely have an hour to sit/eat/think before I have to get back up and get things done for the next day (some of the following: lunches made, dishes cleaned, floors cleaned, highchair cleaned, laundry, cats fed, catbox cleaned, bathroom cleaned up, clothes laid out, trash taken out, etc.). I don't know how people with houses do it. If I had a yard, it'd probably look like hobos lived in it or I was trying to get it to revert to Great Plains status... maybe that wouldn't be a bad idea because the plains-dwelling Native Americans didn't do yard work; they had an annual fire and that was that. :)

Saturday morning we got up, ate breakfast, and then came back to my apartment where we went swimming for the first time. James' dad met us there. James wasn't quite certain about the pool at first, but splashing soon commenced and with it, great happiness. :)

I won four tickets at the last minute from City Search to the Ladies Brunch screening of Sex and The City 2 at the Alamo Ritz, so I found three other girls to go with me, and implored James' father to watch him for a few hours while I went. SATC was something I think I could've gotten into if I were a committed series watcher. I'm not really a SJP fan and there are definitely things about their lives that I can't identify with, but there are some universal girlisms that I think most of us can enjoy. I'm looking forward to getting to watch it all at some point.

The movie had one particular moment that I really appreciated. It's when Miranda and Charlotte both are commiserating over how hard motherhood is, and they basically break the fourth wall to say that they have no idea how women without a full-time nanny or partner do it. Honestly, ladies (and gentlemen), I don't know either. It's day-to-day, it's week-by-week, it's moment-to-moment sometimes. I feel like I live in a warzone. Whether it's a poop bomb or that the child (who has, as of 6/5/2010, learned to climb up onto the couch) is pulling down all the clean and folded laundry, or one of the cats has hacked up a hairball which my son immediately tries to pick up, or there are toys in my rainboots, or partially chewed graham crackers stuck in the child's hair... or he runs up to me, gives me a huge hug, buries his face in my chest and then proceeds to blow his nose... on my new shirt.

After the movie, which was a great mini escape fueled by mimosas (with orange and grapefruit juice), I picked James up from his dad's, and we went back to my apartment to clean up/ change. I put the child down for a nap (because he refused to sleep at his father's house). After he woke up, we went back out to Manor for the evening. After he went to bed I got to watch several episodes of LOST (which I hadn't been watching because of Glee, don't hate me for being practical: I knew people would record LOST but was pretty sure no one would record Glee for me), but started crashing before I got to watch the last three weeks' worth... so don't ruin it for me.

On Sunday morning bright and early (~7am), we went out for a run in the neighborhood where we were house/ pet sitting. There were lots of hills so it was a really good workout. We also found a frisky runaway Husky puppy and held onto him until his owners caught up. (The mother was driving around in an SUV yelling for him while her children were running/ wandering around also yelling. They didn't have a leash, or a collar for him when they got to us... pretty stupid if you ask me. We just stood still and I whistled at him and he came right up.) James liked the Husky and he liked James. The kiddo usually kinda gets freaked out by dogs because they move too quickly and get in his face too fast, but not this dog. Honestly, if I had to have one, I'd probably get a Shiba Inu or Husky type dog. They're really smart and don't smell bad like most other dogs do. (I'm not not a dog person, I'm just not an ALL dogs kind of person.)

After that, I got us cleaned up and we went back to my place to get ready to go to the lake with some friends. I made breakfast and scrambled to get our things together while James had a great time knocking over the chairs, cornering the cats, and toilet papering the living room. I finally got most of that all cleaned up and most of our stuff together when Lindsay and Daniel showed up with their little girl Zoe (she's about 7 months) to pick us up.

Lindsay's family is great. Their lake house was beautiful, her grandfather, and some of the other men in her family built it and the design is really cool. Lovely view, too. They cooked some great food and everyone was super nice. :)

After lunch we got in the lake. I tried to keep James from drinking the water, but you may as well try keeping a dog from scratching fleas. He didn't get too much in him though. I don't think he liked the taste. Lindsay bought these adorable little floats for the kids so that helped some too. They're inflatable with a little seat for their legs to go through and they have canopies to help keep the sun off. The water was pretty choppy from all the boats and there was a lot of debris, so James and I didn't stay in for too long. Lindsay and Zoe stayed out longer. Lindsay is a great swimmer; she can tread water better than pretty much anyone I've ever known.

After everyone got out and dried off a bit we went out in the boat. James hated the life vest we put him in and screamed his head off and tried to escape from it whenever he wasn't entirely distracted by things, but he looked adorable in it. :) He eventually wore himself out, and after a few minutes of being on the boat, he passed out. Zoe stayed awake the whole time. They let me hold her while Lindsay held James and she sat in my lap happily watching her parents. I'd almost forgotten what it's like to hold a kiddo as small as her. James weighs a ton these days.

Later, after we got back to shore and cleaned up (I put together a mini bath kit for James before we went out there and brought his PJs so he could go straight from there to bed) I was holding and playing with Zoe while James ran around trying to destroy things in the living room. Then he noticed... and he ran over to me, climbed up in my lap, and started trying to push Zoe away from me. He was actually jealous. He got jealous when I held his classmate Athena the other day, but he didn't push her, he just wanted me to pick him up too. He's a funny little guy... definitely likes being an only child which is good I guess since that's probably what he'll be.

We didn't get home till pretty late on Sunday night and it was even later getting back out to Manor, but all the cats everywhere were okay and purring at the times when I saw them, fed/ medicated them.

Monday we got started later than I'd kinda hoped because there was more to do at the house to get it ready for Bill to come back than I'd anticipated. Mostly, that was due to James knocking down a box full of tiny objects (which of course opened upon impact) and dispersing its contents widely, and secondly, James' desire to become a sanitation engineer... by which I mean he knocked over the garbage can and started sorting through it (thankfully, it was mostly paper items) while I was trying to clean up the aforementioned box of tiny objects. It was a busy morning for us. So, after we got back to the apartment, deposited some things and readjusted our travel gear, we went out to Taco Deli and had migas before heading to the outlets in Round Rock to hit their sales.

James has so much energy it's hard to confine him for any length of time. It was also super hot out. I had six stores on our list. We hit five of them, one unplanned one, and then bailed. I needed two new belts (one brown, one black since my current belts were falling apart), a pair of black summer sandals (since my black-trimmed espadrilles are coming apart), and two small going out clutches/wristlets (one brown, one black) so that I won't have to ask anyone to give up their man card by holding my lipstick or cellphone or whatever for me again. I stocked up on outfits for James for next summer and picked up some 18 month things as well. I figure if I get enough clothes for about a week in all of his sizes that between that, the grandparents, my friends, and his father's friends (birthdays/ Christmas), we'll be set wardrobe-wise and just pick up anything else from resale shops.

Post-outlets I was just exhausted. I had to set James free from the stroller a few times because he was starting to screech, and he immediately crawled under the clothing racks and hid... and he grabbed things off hangers (he did that while in the stroller too)... and he took off down aisles... and when I tried to try something on, he tried to crawl out of the dressing room... it was just exhausting... and then there were several "UP MOMMY, NOW!" moments and then the repeated tossing of the pacifier and the sippy cup, etc.

But we weren't done. Mondays are grocery days for us, so we had to go pick up some things. James was mostly good in the store because he was finally tired, but then he started getting cranky. I got us in and out of there with minimal damage... I had to take him out of the front child part of the cart and put him in with the groceries for a bit because he was just too squirmy and kept hurting himself and then yelling... and after I got all the groceries out, he stood up, and started opening and closing the child seat part of the cart... and when I tried to stop him, he did it one last time really hard, SLAMMING MY FINGER in it. :( I yelped. Tears came into my eyes. Then I carefully made sure the cart wasn't going anywhere and that he wasn't going to fall out of it, then I took a step back... turned away, methodically opened up the car, turned on the AC, and tried to breathe before retrieving him and putting him into the car. I looked around to see if anyone had seen what happened and sure enough, some kids across the parking lot in bikinis and cutoffs and other party gear, were loading up their truck with beer and saw what happened. One of them yelled over, "Damn, that looked like it hurt, Lady," and I said, "Yeah, it really did." Then I put the child in the car and we headed home.

Somehow, even though we hadn't spent much time there, the apartment was still a wreck. I did so well at Bill's house, you practically couldn't tell we'd even been there, but our house... what a mess. :( So, I started laundry, put things in the dishwasher, and tried to get stuff ready for the week.

I think sometimes my weekends are harder than my weeks... and I need to work on readjusting that, because they're supposed to be a time of rest and recuperation or something, right?

Anyway, that was Memorial Day weekend. It was a good/ busy one. How've you been? <3

Friday, May 28, 2010

the future's so bright...

... I'm going blind.


I want to go back to school. I'm smart and talented, and mature enough to do well if I were able to do so. But, I don't have the time... or money really.

The money's not the biggest problem, I've never minded putting classes on credit or taking out loans for them. I believe that whatever I learn will repay me in ways far beyond money. I guess you could say that money is the least of my worries in going back to school this time.

It's the time involved that is the biggest concern now. It's the infrastructure and support system. It's that I have a young son who cannot be left alone. It's that I already work and have to spend time away from him and, though I need my space and adult activities to stay sane, and someone has to be the bread-winner in our dyad, I actually hate giving up any more of our awake time together than I am forced to.

This desire/ need to go back to school is just one of the many scenarios in which it would be good to have a parenting partner and why I'll tell anyone to go traditional with their child rearing practices if they can (or to plan ahead way better than me career-wise if they're going the single parent route). In a way, I have a few parenting partners. My friends have really come together to support me in many ways. Other parents at our daycare have stepped in every now and then to watch James so I could go do something for myself. However, the child's father is still the primary partner in this venture though he has limited his role through some of the personal choices he's made. The fact that I am the fierce guardian of our child's safety and well-being and will not allow some of the repercussions of his father's choices to have an influence on or any contact with our son also limits his involvement in some ways.

Anyway, I think going back to school will have to wait until James is a little more able to take care of himself, or I have a trustworthy partner whom I can trust to have James' and my best interests in mind. Whether this partner is another single mother or a couple with whom I can trade child rearing favors, a romantic partner who wants to make a family with James and I, or maybe his father decides to be honest and trustworthy, and seriously upgrade his priorities, it doesn't matter how it happens. I'm just going to have to wait for more auspicious circumstances to come along.

Going back to school and completing a degree in Nursing, which is what I'm thinking would be a great fit for me, would give James and I a better life. I'd be able to save more money for his college and my retirement, afford a better place for us to live, music and other kinds of lessons, summer camps, better toys and things for him. I'll be able to give him better opportunities. That's what I want. I want my child to have things I didn't. I want him to be able to go to Oxford, or Harvard, or Brown, or MIT, or Julliard, or wherever wants him or he wants to go... because even though some of those places wanted me and even offered me scholarships, I couldn't go... because we couldn't afford it... and I wasn't, now thinking back on it, wasn't really stable and secure enough to have handled it at 17... but I want James to have more and be more than I ever will be. I can't give him that as I am now... but I could, if I grew and changed and became more, myself.

I just don't want to compromise too much... I don't want the time we have now, while he is still so young, to be wasted or cheapened because I'm anxious about his future.

I love being able to come home and play with James for a while before dinner every day, I love playing with him during his baths, at breakfast, etc. I love the weekends when sometimes we get up, eat breakfast, and then go back to bed for a while. I love taking him with me to go do things in the city. I love giving him new foods to try, showing him things, and giving him new music to listen to. I love introducing him to new people.

You should've seen his face when we were at Pachanga Festival and he saw violinist Hadyn Vitera playing. He was mesmerized by the violin and his electric violin (Viper). After the mini-show was over, James ran right up to the stage and stood there watching the musician put away his gear, and bouncing to the music (Hearts on Fire by CutCopy) playing. I know he comes by his love of music naturally. I loved the looks on his face when he had his first mango paleta: COLD... SWEEEEET... MORE!... NOW! You could see all the feelings cross his face like clouds racing across the blue field of a summer sky.

I love snuggling with my child. He gives the best hugs. Unlike adults who guard themselves so closely sometimes and give awkward one-armed "hugs", James' whole being is involved. I love carrying his sleeping body up the stairs from the car. I love being the last person he sees before he sleeps and the first person he sees when he wakes up. I don't want to compromise and lose any of that because of dreams I have for him that may not be what he eventually wants. I mean, he hasn't even begun to dream for himself yet. But then, even if my dreams aren't his, if I do better by myself and for him, it'll give him more room to dream and give me more ability to help him achieve them.

We still have so far to go and I'm very excited about our journey... but I'm trying to be patient too... to plan better than I have before... and to love every minute I have with my son. I'm learning that it's okay to wait... while planning ahead so that when I finally don't have to, I can hit the ground running. :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

stealing from yourself

This is a touchy subject... how do you deal with a gift or an action that is inappropriate, or not 'right', poorly timed, or is otherwise unfortunate?

I don't consider myself to be a horribly picky person... but over the years, it's been pointed out to me that I am rather particular about some things. Like food... I don't care for lettuce and I really dislike melons in a mixed fruit cup/bowl... to me they're cheap and gross and a waste of space... if I'm going to pay for a fruit salad somewhere, I want fruit I enjoy and that's worth paying as much for as you have to pay for a fruit salad. So, I'll ask waiters and waitresses what fruits they have and if I can have no melon, just the other stuff instead, or just a cut up fruit... like a grapefruit half or a banana or something. Or I'll order something else as the side. I have been known to eat melons... but it's really rare.

I'm picky about fabric and color as well. I've relaxed quite a bit on the color issue since becoming a mother... beggars can't be choosers and James doesn't care what I wear. I'm Mommy and therefore beautiful in his eyes. :) I used to, however, never ever ever wear pink or salmon or peachy pink. Being a girl, that was a huge color problem while growing up... it was a cause for tears and screams and secret destruction or hiding of certain items of clothing. I do occasionally wear things in that color range now... but not much and it's still not a mainstay in my closet.

I'm seriously picky about a few things, but for the most part, am flexible. If something isn't right to a point where I feel like I have to say something about it, I'll raise my voice in protest... but then, more often than not, whoever I've complained to takes whatever it is away or just stops doing it entirely. So, I lose any chance of either getting the thing I wanted OR the sort of incorrect/uncomfortable (but sometimes mostly right) version of it. I feel like I'm being punished for being communicative about my needs/ wants, for trying to be understood better.

I know it's something to do with the way I do or say things. The way I say, "Thanks, but next time could you ___ instead?" or, "Thank you so much, but I prefer __ instead," whatever it is I'm doing. I guess I have some tact issues... and I'd like to fix them because the current results are, at best, annoying to everyone (me included). I think it's the "but" part... but how do you manage to thank someone for thinking of you, and at the same time express a preference for something similar but not what you have been given or what has been done to you... or let someone know what you really like or prefer without offending them?

I feel like I'm not unintelligent... it's just that there are different kinds of intelligence and this kind isn't my strong suit. I can read people really well in many ways, but when it comes to how I come off... I'm blind.

Some people's solution is to just say "thanks" and leave it at that, and yeah, I suppose that would work... but what if the other person just keeps giving you the wrong things or doing the wrong things to you or something? Won't it be worse later if you correct them after they've done it more often and believe that you really enjoy it or find it completely acceptable? Isn't it sort of like hiding something about yourself from them if you don't tell them what you actually want? Do people not actually want to know you better or give you things you like/ need/ want?

I just... I don't know. This is one of those areas in life where I feel like a Martian anthropologist.

Anyone have any ideas?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Moving up.

So, they finally gave us a date for James to move up from the Dewdrops to the next classroom. In another two weeks, he'll no longer be in the baby room. He'll be in the toddler room.

He went and visited the Hummingbirds a few days ago for the first time. I think he was overwhelmed a little because he's used to being the big man in the room, the tallest, the strongest and most active, and the most able. However, in the new room, he's more average. There are some familiar faces in the new room, but James hasn't seen them in so long that he probably doesn't really recognize them anymore. Of course I remember the kiddo who bit James on the face (he better not do it again, grrrr), the one with the continually super-runny nose (adorable and gross at the same time, poor little thing), and a few of the others, too. It's nice to see how they've progressed.

I know he'll have more fun in this new classroom once he gets over the adjustment to it. He'll thrive and learn a lot. It's funny though, I think back and try to remember my first memories... of pre-school, of finger painting, of pretending to fly to faraway places in a plastic refrigerator, of chasing other kids and being chased, the first time I ever had to stand in a line, of all kinds of things, and then the more recent, but still distant past. The shock of coming from my tiny hometown to UT... I was one of the best and brightest at my high school, Salutatorian, National Merit, without even trying really, or ever learning how to study, I just did my homework, showed up for tests, and was a really good test taker. At UT, almost everyone I ran into (I lived next to the Honor's Dorms) was a Valedictorian or Salutatorian and/or National Merit and/or some kind of genius and it blew my mind. I felt small and unshiny. Later, I sort of managed to come into my own... but it took a while to readjust my world and self-view to deal with the new circumstances... and it's still hard for me... it wasn't just then... I've been shocked with changes a few times... because I didn't know enough about what was coming or could be, or who I am out of context... and sometimes even, who I am IN context... and so, when cornered or severely hurt, I definitely shut down and retreat... I still haven't mastered keeping my mouth shut... but now it's mostly to a place of talking-down to you, cold, intellectualized not-niceness. I guess it's better than screaming which also doesn't help anything much.

I'm glad that James is learning how to view himself and others in many different ways early on... I want him to be secure in the person he is regardless of his circumstances. I don't want his faith in himself to be shaken dramatically one day... leaving him with more questions than answers when he looks in the mirror. And I know that most people go through that at least once in their lives, but maybe when he hits that point, it'll go easier for him than it did for me. I think that these little shake ups early on will help him be more adaptable and resilient and less like me in some ways.

I want him to be a tremendously self-powerful, successful, and happy man one day. This is my hope for him. He has all the raw talent and tools to be this man; it's my job to help give him the opportunities and experiences that will help him learn to use them, and a safe place to come home to when he's ready to rest.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cooking for two

My life is centered around the child and has been since I discovered his existence. What I ate fed him for almost 18 months. We were one cohabitational entity for nine months and then split in two... and we've been growing apart in some ways ever since, but growing closer in others. It is what it is.

I started slowly substituting formula for breast milk when James was about 8 months old, because he was going to daycare, my milk was starting to dry up, and when we moved for the final time last year (five times in a year) we had to throw out a whole lot of the supply I'd laid in of frozen breast milk because our new-to-us freezer is incredibly small. When he got to 9 months, we stopped breast feeding entirely.

This was sad in some ways, but joyful in others. I had my breasts back to myself! Of course, they're not the same shape that they were and my rib cage is slightly bigger, so none of my bras fit perfectly anymore... but they're mine to do with as I please again. Ha! The sadness was centered around the bittersweet idea that my son is another step closer to being independent of me.

It's more trouble to carry around packets of formula, bottles, and wonder about water purity and temperature. Breast feeding means no bottles, almost no clean up, and it's always the right thing for the child. It's also an intimate experience. From my body to yours. What I eat is processed by my body, almost by magic, so that my child can be sustained by it. It's a strange experience, almost holy in a way... and then you get bitten a few times, and your nipples get chapped or crack or bleed or get infected, and then you're like, "THIS IS HELL," except for the peaceful look on your child's face, eyes closed, fully intent, your bodies in a gentle rhythm of breathing and giving and receiving life. I swear, I fell in love with my child a hundred times when he ate till full and then gently fell away from my breast asleep in my arms. There were times when feeding him was so painful that I cried, but for my son, I would do anything and I was glad that I could feed him myself for at least a few months.

Spooning food into his eager mouth was fun, too... once we got over the initial refusal of all solids as being "of the devil" as evinced by screams and cries of horror from the child. :) He's been pretty easygoing and not picky with most foods once he realized that they were food.

A few weeks ago, James started refusing to eat his oatmeal or any other mushy baby food type thing (unless it was fruit which is pretty sweet, and even that he complained about a bit). I knew it was time to move him up to chunkier foods and even to let him eat grownup people food and feed himself. I'd known it was getting close for a while, but it was hard to let go. I really enjoy feeding the child, connecting with him through food. There's a sense of accomplishment when we finish something.

It's okay though, because now we've got something better going on.

I'm learning to cook, for real. I don't have a whole lot of time when I get us home from work/ daycare, but I've been learning to throw healthy food together and I've been cooking food for his lunches/ daytime meals at night. We definitely eat some scrambled eggs and toast and cut up fruit. It's easy and super fast. But we also eat things like steak, mashed potatoes (with a little skin left in), and asparagus. It may not be fancy cooking, but I'm using fresh, organic, and locally grown ingredients as much as possible. I never took so much time selecting my own food or thinking about balancing fruits and veggies or serving sizes and things. I've always liked the idea of being a foodie, and now, with my son as my copilot and taste-tester, I am finally really becoming one.

Watching him eat the food I make and enjoy it, when he does, is a tremendous feeling. It's accomplishment that I did something he likes, that he's capable of feeding himself, and that I'm doing something healthy for him. In that vein, I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas for super simple, fast recipes or cookbooks, especially things that both babies and adults could eat? I'm still kinda just winging it for now. :)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Some kind of -itis

"Sooo, I love my job and I love my baby.
I used to love my life, but now sometimes, I just kinda like it, maybe."


I wonder if this is a common thing... to be so torn between working and wanting to be home to raise my child. I accept that I have to work so that we can have insurance and so that I can provide us with food, clothes, shelter, and toys. I don't like that it means that the daycare workers see my son awake more than I do and that they are so intimately responsible for shaping him.

The other day, I heard that they were going to move a child up to the next classroom. Since my son has been almost walking (he'll walk all over if I hold one hand, and a little on his own), saying little words, doing some signs, and knocking things over... while none of the others were as mobile or advanced... I really thought it would be him. However, there was a baby who is technically a few months older than him, but because she was premature she's still developmentally behind him (I read that very premature babies don't generally catch up to their same-age peers until they're 2 years old) but they decided to move her up instead. I was okay with this until I heard that they weren't moving any other babies up for almost two more months.

Two months from now, my child will be running over everyone in the baby room, including the newest babies which enter at 3 months. For the next two months he basically won't be learning anything new from watching or interacting with his classmates because he's more advanced than them. Then I started feeling anxious because they're not inspiring my son. I don't want him to be bored and feel like things are too easy. He's learned all he can in the baby room, he needs to be up with the toddlers. He's already trying to climb the fence to get in with the older kids... but there's not room in the next level yet. It would be different if it was just another week or so till he moved up, but MONTHS?!

So, what am I supposed to do? At home during the evenings and weekends, I'm teaching him, talking to/with him, reading to him, signing with him, playing him music and singing him songs, showing him educational videos, pausing to talk about what's on the screen, and helping him stretch his physical and mental facilities as much as I can in varied ways.

At school this morning, I talked to the daycare teachers, expressing my concerns, and asked them to bring in some puzzles and toys that require more thought so that hopefully he'll be able to problem-solve and be entertained instead of just throwing things around and knocking things over. I'm going to have to talk to the daycare leaders though and tell them that this sort of thing isn't acceptable. If he's more ready to move up than someone else, he should be moved up... REGARDLESS OF AGE... if they can't do this, and keep my son inspired and constantly learning, I will have to find some other place to take him.

Ability should come before personal feelings. My son is more able than the other child and should've been promoted first.

If I were a stay-at-home mother, this wouldn't be a problem. I'm frustrated and angry that I don't have the control I want over my son's educational opportunities and potential future... instead it's left up to others. And yes, I'm grateful for them, they do a good job in general, but it'll never be as good as what I would do.

It makes me resent having to be at work. I enjoy my job in general. I like my coworkers. I love being on campus. But I would much rather be with my son. Sometimes, feeling this way, causes my work to suffer.

Thoughts? Ideas for what to do? How to deal with this sort of thing?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Appearances

So, the other day, James and I were doing a few fun things around town and we ended up pretty close to his father's house. He'd previously said he would be available about the time that we were there, so I texted him and told him where we were and asked if he wanted to meet up with us.

He said he'd show up shortly. That he was going to take a shower, etc.

He showed up way before I figured he'd have had a chance to have a shower. He was still in dirty soccer clothes, and that was fine, but his game was at 8am and it was now after 2pm. You'd think he'd've had the opportunity to get cleaned up. Ehhh. Whatevs. Dirty clothes, smelly guy, it's not extraordinary for him to be like that.

However...

He turned his head slightly to the side and there it was... it took me a minute to register what I was seeing. Then, I said to him quietly, "Do you know that you have a hickey?"

He said, "COOOL!!! Where?"

I gave him a look, "Where do you THINK? That's really gross!"

My heart started to race. All I could think was: "HOW TOTALLY DISGUSTING AND TRASHY! Then, I thought, OH MY GOD SOMEONE IS GOING TO SEE THAT AND THINK _I_ DID IT. Then I thought, THEY'RE GOING TO THINK THAT ALL THREE OF US ARE TRASHY! I CAN'T LET ANYONE THINK JAMES IS TRASH! I can't believe this guy would show up like that and expect us to hang around being associated with him. This is not what a good father would do. As a good mother, I would never be like that around James. GROSS. GROSS. GROSS. The only thing to do is to leave. We have to go. Right now."

While this was processing, he said something like, "What am I supposed to do about it? Put make up on it?" And I tried to be polite and change the subject while the gears and flywheels in my brain raced. We chit chatted a little. They lost their soccer game. The event James and I came to was cool. I handed him a sample I'd gotten from somewhere, but I was getting more and more agitated and it was a huge struggle to contain it. Finally, I knew that if we didn't go, I wouldn't be able to hold back so I told him quietly and politely that we really had to leave. He didn't understand why. I tried to explain as calmly as possible, but was rapidly failing... it felt like the hair on the back of my neck was starting to stand up, so I just started walking. He followed. I finally barked at him that he needed to not follow because we couldn't be around someone so effing trashy with a disgusting hickey on his neck. He asked where we were going and I said, "Away from you."

And that's where we went.

He sent me a text message, "When you cool off, you should come back."

However, the disgusting mark would still be there, so I didn't reply or return.

In my opinion, (and I am not an expert, but I did get my BA in Psych with a focus on Human Mating), publicly viewable hickeys are a sign of an incompetent (or inexperienced) lover, and/or someone very possessive or insecure. Marks like that aren't amusing or cool, they are (and should be) embarrassing. At our age, especially as parents, they are trashy to the extreme. You'd think someone in their 30s wouldn't think hickeys were "cool" anymore. As a competent and thoughtful lover, you don't want to mark up your partner so that they wander around looking like they battled a cephalopod, or a failed vampire, or a curling iron or something. If you want to be possessive, why not just pee on your partner? I guarantee that almost no one will want them after that, especially if they shower irregularly.

Anyway, later I was finally a little more able to articulate my feelings succinctly and mostly unemotionally on the matter and sent him the following text:

"I'm glad you want to hang out with James. However, you need to think about what kind of role model you want to be and what you want people to think of him. You can trash up yourself and your life however you want but you better come proper when you're with him. I'm not raising trash. I'm raising someone who could be a hero one day."


I received no reply. That is also far from extraordinary.

It's frustrating to me because I feel like I shouldn't have to tell him that what's okay for someone who is a single, non-parent is oftentimes NOT what's okay for you when you are a parent. Despite the fact that he goes out all the time and parties exactly the same way he did pre-child, he, in fact, is NOT child free. He is (supposed to be) a parent.

In my mind, being a parent is kind of like being the President. People hold you to a higher standard... or at least they SHOULD, and you should try to live up to that... especially in front of your child.

I know he didn't originally want to be a parent, but he's mostly changed his tune (when he finally stopped suggesting that I should've had an abortion even though our child was already born, it was a big step) and now he's started saying that he wants to be a good parent and even doing a few things to achieve that end (he bought babyfood and a crib and cleaned his place). The desire to be a good parent is a Great Start... but wanting to be something and actually being something are two different things. It's the difference between being someone with incredible potential and being someone who actually IS incredible.

As the time passes and I continue to find myself being mother to both my child and to his father, I understand more and more how and why a woman would choose to raise her child alone. Even with that growing understanding, I still believe that his occasional positive contributions to his son are worth putting up with the occasional "WTF?!" moments. I just want my son to grow up to be a very good man: responsible, truthful, honorable, loyal, yes, I want him to have fun but I don't want him to be a complete hedonist, I want him to be a classy guy, a gentleman with a backbone, someone who doesn't take advantage of others, and who protects himself from being taken advantage of, I want him to be compassionate, and strong. I want my son to be the kind of man that people look up to.

I worry that I won't be able to protect him from bad influences, I worry that he'll take the wrong lessons from things he sees. I know that I am far from perfect myself, and knowing my faults inspires me to be a better person. All I can really do is love him with everything I am, minimize contact with gross and bad things as much as possible, explain as much as I can when I can't keep those things away from him, and hope for the best.

I have never completely run out of hope or love... even if my patience and good will occasionally get tapped out.

What do YOU think about hickeys?

Friday, February 26, 2010

what is evil?

This is an honest question 'cause sometimes I have a hard time figuring out if what I think is evil actually is or not. I was raised Baptist, they think most things are evil. :D I'm not religious anymore, so I've been working on my own scale of what's evil/ bad/ good and whatnot.

Anyway, here's an example:

Say someone you know has decided to hate someone they have to deal with indefinitely: like a neighbor in a neighborhood of houses so it's hard to move because you've bought the house and you're in a mortgage and the economy is bad, for instance.

Say this person tells you that he/she has decided to do everything in his/her power to make the hated neighbor's life miserable, including doing super-nice things for the other neighbors to try to sway them to his/her side of things and eventually make them hate the neighbor, too.

Basically, instead of dealing with the problem by attempting to work with the neighbor, maybe by being considerate or compromising or something, or seeking outside mediation in a fair way, the person you know is going to manipulate other people into making the neighbor's life miserable. And this could potentially go on forever.

Is that evil of the person?

I'm of the opinion that it's certainly shitty if nothing else... but I'm pretty sure that it's wrong in an evil sort of way, too. Doing things that look good on the surface, but which are intentioned to purposefully hurt someone else... this just doesn't sound right to me. It's saccharine when you're expecting honey... still sweet, but one will give you cancer.

Truthfully, pre-baby, I think if I were a friendly acquaintance of this person, I would probably have taken advantage of the potentially fake nice/fun stuff for as long as I could before taking definitive preventative/safety measures. I was generally a lot more hedonistic/ curious to know the why and wherefore of other people's behavior before I became a mother. Now though, I just don't have the time, energy, or inclination to keep things in my life that could dramatically blow up or turn on me anymore... excepting, of course, people I cannot remove entirely for genetic reasons.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

SXSW

My god, I love South by Southwest. I love it ridiculously. I love the pandemonium, running into friends and acquaintances, the rush of getting into a party. The thrill of being on the list. I love RSVPing. I love getting someone else into a party as my 'Plus One'. I love eating and drinking for free. I love the way you can just bob from place to place and never be bored, never stop seeing something new, never stop hearing something interesting, and how the place is full of strangers.

I used to take off the entire week of Spring Break for my birthday gift to myself. Then it became just the last half of the week and the following Monday so that I could just do music and I'd have time off during the year for other things.

Anyway, due to being a working single mother, my kid being sick a whole bunch this year and burning up all my sick/vacation time, and THE VERY BAD NO GOOD AWFUL ECONOMY, I have to work during South by. Soooo, I bought my son very good ear muffs (part of his Xmas present!) to block sound/noise and we're going to go out and be weekend rockstars. (At least we're going to try.)

So, to that end, I'm going to post a few RSVPs here. Just some of the fun things that are on the Saturdays and Sundays of SXSW and a few other things that are weeklong/multiple day parties/events. I post/ repost a lot of other things on my twitter feed: @astar_alone HOWEVER, if you want to know about ALL the parties, you should check out the people in the know (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) like:
@thepeenscene @knuckle_rumbler @austinbloggy @ultra8201 @atxhipsters @wornwhite @laurenlytle @sailorlegs @do512 (and all of the @do512 people) @sweetleaftea (and all the @sweetleaf people) @misohungry @broylesa @chrontourage @laniAR @wherescarla @richard_henry @dominixon @atxfoodnews @flipscene @tollym @stephensurefire @sxswfreenoms @sxswist @sxswpartylist @sxswparty(or search twitter for #sxsw or follow the list I made of @funintheatx) or just start looking around twitter for other wonderful people who tweet and blog about everything there is that goes on in Austin all the time.

If you ask some of these people nicely, you might even be given glorious access to their files of wonder and find the RSVPs to all the public parties collected in one place, and maybe even details on secret and selective parties that you know you want to go to.

Speaking of, I just got this:
@FlipScene
We just got a hold of someone's list of parties during SXSW. The really good ones haven't been announced yet. http://bit.ly/9QRzfH

(I'm not sure how long that link will be good, so click it while it's hot.)

Beyond the twitterati, I would check the following sites for info on SXSW (and Austin events in general):
http://www.do512.com
http://www.showlistaustin.com
http://austinist.com/
http://sxsw.ning.com/

Anyway, without further ado here are some week/several days long and Saturday and Sunday parties (it's not comprehensive as these should mostly be non-wristband/badge events, and I've left off some whose RSVPs are already full):


Weeklong:


The PureVolume House
PV House
504 Trinity
(open during SXSWi and SXSW music)
Among other things, there will be free Taco Bell.
http://www.purevolume.com/thehouse

Levis Fader Fort
The Fort 1101 E 5th St
1p - TBA
Drinks. Music. Awesome.
http://www.facebook.com/levisfaderfort
@levisfaderfort

(The RSVP isn't up yet, but will be soon. Check there and check their twitter.)

All Together Now
The Bayou
FREE/ $5 Under 21
More details will be coming, for this MTV/Invisible Children sponsored event:
Wednesday, March 17th – Street-Teamers promoting sponsors and showcases all day.
Thursday, March 18th – Street-Teamers promoting sponsors and showcases all day.
Friday, March 19th – Bands Noon to 2am
Saturday, March 20th – Bands Noon to 2am
Slots: 25 mins w/ 15 min change-over
http://www.atnshowcase.com/details/rsvp/

----------------------------------

Saturday 3/13/2010:

WindowsPhone Blogger Lounge
Austin Convention Center Room 19A
9:30a - 6p
http://sxswbloggerlounge.eventbrite.com/


Buffalo Exchange Day Party
Buffalo Exhange
12p
Free/ No RSVP

Mobile Social
Mellow Johnnys
2p - 11p
Urban Ride
* BBQ
* After Party
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=125560744351

Survey Gizmo Party
PureVolume House
4p - 7p
free food and drinks
http://thesmallbusinessweb.com/sxsbw/

3six5 meetup
The Gingerman
5p
http://twtvite.com/nmcqxe

Mozilla SXSW Happy Hour Party
Cedar Door
6p - 8p
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=310283178032

The Bigg Digg Shindigg
Stubb's
7p - 12p
Diggnation Live & The Walkmen!!
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=311714389768

(RV)IP NING Lounge
Mobile Party: follow twitter.com/ning to find the RV.
8p - 11p
karaoke and drinks
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=305166980218&ref=mf

------------------
Sunday 3/14/2010:


Adobe Brunch
Convention Center
10am
bacon, coffee and geekery
http://adobesxswbrunch.eventbrite.com/

WindowsPhone Blogger Lounge
Convention Center Room 19A
9:30a - 6p
http://sxswbloggerlounge.eventbrite.com/

Buffalo Exchange Day Party
Buffalo Exchange
12p
Free

KickApps Bar Party
Hickory Street
7p - 10p
free drinks for the first 100 RSVPs
http://www.kickapps.com/barparty

(RV)IP NING Lounge
Mobile Party: follow twitter.com/ning to find the RV.
8p - 11p
karaoke and drinks
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=305166980218&ref=mf

Cupcake Social
http://plancast.com/a/pf8
(Keep checking for more info. The party wasn't completely planned when I posted this.)

Geobash
PureVolume House
8p - 4a
http://plancast.com/a/wnn

----------------

Saturday 3/20/2010:


Flatstock 24
Austin Convention Center
10a - 6p
Flatstock 24 will display the works of more than 100 artists from across North America and the globe. Posters representing decades of styles, colors and techniques will be on display and for sale as well as additional merchandise.
Free

SPUNE 2K10 SXSW DAY PARTY
J Black's Feel Good Lounge
11:30am - 6:00pm
SARAH JAFFE (Denton)
DAN MANGAN (Arts & Crafts / Vancouver)
TELEGRAPH CANYON (Fort Worth)
THE ORBANS (Fort Worth)
SERYN (Denton)
DOUG BURR (Denton)
MONAHANS (Austin)
SPONSORED BY: Tito's Vodka, Waialua Soda, J Blacks, Cupprimo's Cupcakes, Caffe Medici, pan-ector industries, Y&YRS
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=319431403341


East Meets Fest
Uchi-801 South Lamar
11:00am Curses (myspace.com/thecurses)
11:45am Many Birthdays (http://www.manybirthdays.net)
12:30pm Dana Falconberry (http://www.danafalconberry.com)
1:15pm Woven Bones (http://www.wovenbones.com)
2:00pm The White White Lights (www.thewhitewhitelights.com)
2:30 pm The Red Boys (http://bit.ly/a6DiES)
2:45pm The Authors (www.theauthorsmusic.com)
Between sets The Octopus Project (theoctopusproject.com)
**Japanese street cuisine and beer will be available for purchase**
Free/ Open to Public (Carpooling/Biking is strongly encouraged)
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=340080507800&index=1


Urban Outfitters Back Lot Party
Urban Outfitters
Free/ No RSVP
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4008/4383375812_e2d804f2d6_o.jpg
http://lstn.urbanoutfitters.com/

Rachel Ray's Party
Stubb's
11a - 4p
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=296043629868&ref=ts

Sounds Australia/Aussie BBQ
Maggie Mae's
12pm - 2am
BBQ
http://www.stagemothers.com/rsvp/

MPress Records
Soho Lounge
11:30 am - 5:30 pm
Katie Costello, The Mieka Canon, Seth Glier, Paper Raincoat, Rachael Sage, Melissa Ferrick and The Kin
http://my.sxsw.com/events/event/42
Email to: rsvp@mpressrecords.com

The Seattle Party 2010
Beauty Bar
12p
http://sxseattle.com/

Aussie BBQ
East Tent, Brush Square Park
12:00 pm - 7:30 pm
free food and drinks
http://my.sxsw.com/events/event/4898

Do512: The Big One
The Compound (This Venue may be changed)
12p-6p
Holy Fuck, Warpaint, Hood Internet, Royal Bangs, Miss Li, WhoMadeWho
Free Drinks from Shiner and Deep Eddy Vodka
http://do512.com/c/sx2010/event/2010/03/20/do512-presents-the-big-one-2010#rsvp

Alt Press Day Show
Emos'
12p
1. Never Shout Never
2. Title Fight
3. Hey Monday
4. Ruiner
5. The Cab
6. La Dispute
7. Every Avenue
8. Honor Bright
9. The Summer Set
10. Zlam Dunk
11. There For Tomorrow
12. Cymbals Eat Guitars
13. Stereo Skyline
14. Conditions
15. Lights
16. Terrible Things
17. Sum 41
18. Circa Survive

Free/ No RSVP
Follow on Twitter at: @AltPress

Standard Recording Party
Shakespeare's Pub
12p - 5p
metavari, dead beats, burnt ones, thunderhawk, amo joy, husband and wife, bridges & powerlines, etc.
beer
http://www.standardrecording.com/sxsw/

Twangfest
Jovita’s
12p-5p
http://twangfest.com/2010-sxsw-day-parties-confirmed/

LAWYER4MUSICIANS & KARMALOOP PARTY
MoMo's
1:00pm - 5:00pm
Rakaa Iriscience (Dilated Peoples), The Cool Kids, Cool Calm Pete, 88-Keys, Kidz in the Hall, Bad Rabbits, Hey Champ, French Horn Rebellion, Whatzisface, More TBA
Free (NO RSVP)
http://www.thepeenscene.com/2010/02/fer-yer-health-sxsw-lawyer4musicians.html

Auditorium Shores Concert Series
Auditorium Shores
2p - 9p
Kimya Dawson, 3 p.m.
Dawes, 4 p.m.
Justin Townes Earle, 5 p.m.
Deer Tick, 6 p.m.
Lucero, 7 p.m.
She & Him, 8 p.m.
Free/ No RSVP

Six Stages Over Texas
Block Party On San Antonio St behind Cream Vintage, Hole in the Wall, Slices and Ices, etc.
2 - 10pm
The Crystal Method, Admiral Radley (Jason Lytle & members of Earlimart), The Hounds Below (Von Bondies new project), Tommy Lee (Motley Crue Dj-ing), The Lions, Buick Mackane, Findlay Brown, The World's Greatest Ghosts, Holiday Shores, That Ghost, The Points North, Candy Claws, King of Conspiracy, The Glorious Veins, Dinosaur Bones, Jeremy Messersmith, Mata Leon, Mon Khmer, Miss Dust, Nazcar Nation, DJ Jason Soundstorm, Kids At The Bar, Boy Eats Drum Machine Boy, DJ Czech One, DJ Laissez Faire Club, Halves, TIGER! SHIT! TIGER! SHIT!, Killola, Red Leaves, The Vitamins
***$20 cover benefitting Yele Haiti***
http://www.sixstagesovertexas.com/
(This is the only party I'm posting that costs anything, but check out the line up!)


Nom-A--Thon
Cedar Door
Mount Righteous, Linus of Hollywood, and world record performance of "Hamster On A Piano (Eating Popcorn)"
http://nom-a-thon.com/


Filter Magazine's Showdown at Cedar St.
Cedar St. Courtyard
11a-6p
11:00a-1:00p Julia Marcell. L. Stad, Pustki
1:00 Children Collide
1:50 Codeine Velvet Club
2:40 Athlete
3:30 The Constellations
4:20 The Boxer Rebellion
5:15 Frightened Rabbit
Free BBQ
http://filtermagazine.com/index.php/rsvp/sxsw/


Dickies Sounds
Lustre Pearl
3p - 2a
3p Golden Triangle
4p This Will Destroy You
5p Oh No Ono
6p Sondre Lerche
http://filtermagazine.com/index.php/rsvp/dickies/

Carniville
MACC
12p - 8p
MAJOR LAZER, the walkmen, diplo, glass candy, the very best, rusko, the toxic avenger, jack beats, kid sister, hudson mohawk, sleigh bells, yacht, GZA, amanda blank, japanther, the death set, dam funk, franki chan, acid girls, men, ninjasonik, juiceboxxx, best coast, cymbals eat guitars, jokers of the scene, maluca, popo, l-vis 1990, nadastrom, moonrats, 12th planet, paul devro, wild yaks, royal bangs, bosco delrey, cubic zirconia, dr. manhattan, outasight...
There will be rides! games! carni food! fun booths! free booze!

www.austincarniville.com
(RSVP wasn't officially open when I posted this.)


Music For Listeners
Red House Pizzeria
12p - 6p
12p Big Soy
1p Charlie Parr
2p Wild Moccasins
3p Allo Darlin'
4p Elk City
5p Still Flyin
6p She Keeps Beez
Free
http://www.musicforlisteners.com/mflatredhouse_day01.html

---------------------

Sunday 3/21/2010:


Six Stages Over Texas (Continues from Saturday)

Carniville (Continues from Saturday)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the thing about time

Is that it takes as long as it takes.

I've finally discovered the power of saying "NO" and meaning it.

And yes, I know I wrote the last post about forgiveness and being forgiven and all that, and maybe you'll say that writing this now is hypocritical of me, but bear with me, I have a point. The point is: Sometimes, in order to be able to forgive later, you have to protect yourself now.

(Not only from others, but from yourself. Seriously. At times, it's better to withdraw in silence than to let yourself keep talking.)

Before I became a mother, I didn't have anything much to protect. I never saw myself as anything worth defending. After everything I've been through in this life, what worse could anyone really do to me? You could harm my physical body, but you would never break my spirit. I've been beaten before. I've been harmed in ways you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy, both by other humans, and by strange circumstances, mentally and physically. The thing is, no matter what happens to you, no matter how life tries to crush you, you can't just lie there, you have to get back up. You have to keep moving. You have to get away. I'm good at getting back up.

Anyway, becoming a mother turned on a light switch for me. My son inspires me to joy, he inspires all of my love and all of my protective instincts. I want him to learn, to experience as much of the beauty this life has to offer as he can. I know that some harm will come to him along the way and that that is part of life and eventually attaining freedom and self-sufficiency, but in the meantime I am his protector and defender. I am his champion. It is my solemn duty, and great pleasure, to shield him from the worst this world has to offer for as long as I can.

When someone sets off my mother alarms through making comments about their hatred of children, or lying, or disrespecting me, or any number of things, my instinct is to make sure that my child is absolutely not accessible to them. I am not going to deny my instincts or ignore them. I am going to protect my child. If someone threatens me, they are, by extension, threatening him and I will react accordingly. I will draw a circle that will keep people of this kind O-U-T, out.

Anyway, that's sort of an aside, related, but an aside. Sometimes, you just need a break. You need to step away from the crazy before you get drawn farther into it. Step away and let time work its magic. Forcing the issue too soon won't fix or help anything, it'll just make it worse. It's like trying to walk too soon on a broken leg or bending a finger with a just-staunched gash to a joint; when you break the scab, it'll just keep bleeding.

If someone says, "I don't want to have anything more to do with you," you should leave them alone. It's okay to make some sort of plea in reaction: for understanding, maybe an apology, to let them know that you want to reconcile. After that though, be respectful and let them go. Let them have space and peace. When they're ready to talk to you again, they'll unblock you, or they'll make an effort. When THEY are ready. Not you.

This is something I too have had to learn. Timing is everything in life. If I'd been more patient at times, well, my life wouldn't be the way it is. If I'd waited longer to do some things, I would never have done them. Mainly though, patience isn't my virtue... or at least it wasn't.

When it comes to my son, patience and caution are commingled. They inform each other and work together to keep him safe. In keeping him safe, I have learned to protect myself. No one else will or can do what I have to do, be who I have to be. No one else loves my son the way I do or loves me the way he does. When I put him to bed at night in his crib and he clings to my hand until he falls asleep, it's the sweetest and most heartbreaking thing in the world. Only another mother could truly understand that or how fiercely I would fight to protect him. I could identify before, but I never felt the way that my son makes me feel until he came into my life. I did not know it was possible to feel this way.

The risks I used to take with people, to forgive them immediately and give them seventy times seven chances, I cannot take when it might effect my son negatively. I don't have the energy or time to deal with the repercussions. If you have a broken bowl and you need to scoop up water, put aside the broken bowl and use one that's not broken. When you're done scooping water, then you can look at the broken bowl and see about fixing it if you really want to. The time to fix the broken bowl is not during a flood, but when there is no emergency.

Forgiveness will come when it is time. I don't hate anyone. I don't believe that anyone is beyond redemption, and I am not unreasonable. I do however, believe that when someone says, "I've had enough," it should be enough, and they should be respected.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"You were worth it."

Those are some of the best words that have ever been said to me. Even better than some of the instances of, "I love you".

I've screwed up in my life. So so so many times. I can never pretend to be perfect. I never would. I've even done things for which I don't believe I'll ever be forgiven. Partially that's a factor of the badness of the thing done, partially a factor of the person or people effected by the thing.

There are things for which I never believed I would be forgiven, but that I was. There are people in my life who have seen me at my worst, who have been subjected to me at my most depraved... and yet, they have come back to me.

Sometimes people wonder out loud to me how I can be friends with some of the people I am, love the people I love, how I can continue to love people who hurt me... and it's at least partially because I know that I am far from perfect. It doesn't hurt that flawed people are really interesting too.

I love people now, because of, in spite of, their imperfections. I look for their flaws. I've stopped looking for perfection. I just want someone perfect For Me. I want to eventually be with someone whose worst faults are things I can live with. Because all the great events and parties and shows, all the fun flash and whatnot, all the bells and whistles will eventually fade away, and what you'll be left with is everything else. Just the soul of the person. With all its goodness and badness, with all of its multi-coloredness. You'll be left with the essence of a person. With their kindness or their meanness, with their gentleness or their brusqueness, with their desire for closeness, or desire for isolation, with their trust or their suspicions. I want someone to look at me and say, "I love all of you, all of everything, the quirks, the weird things, the good things, the bad. All of it. I love you for being you." I want to be able to look at someone, look into their eyes, and say the same thing.

In utter despair recently I asked a dear friend, "After all I put you through, after everything I did. How did you finally forgive me? Why?" He said simply, "You were worth it."

This is love. It's not romantic, it doesn't have to be. It's just love in its most pure form. It's a feeling, an action, it's something that takes the whole person and accepts them as is.

Though I've quoted it before, I never fully understood the following poem until that moment:

"He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic , rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle and took him In!"


From the poem "Outwitted"
— Edwin Markham


I felt like I was broken before, I was at a very low point, feeling that all was lost, that I was worthless... and I cried out... but with four small words, I realized how foolish I was to feel that way. I was taken in by the circle.

I believed in myself again... I believe in love... and I am full of gratitude and hope.

2009 recap-ish thing in music

Yeah, this is late, but it's some of my top most-listened to albums of the year for 2009. I posted some songs from the albums and links to some pretty good remixes and things of interest as well. :)

--------------------

Before I get to the albums. There are a few songs that I kept hearing over the last year that I can't listen to with complete enjoyment anymore because they got overloaded with meaning. Here are a few of those, some in remixed format:


The Killers - Human
(The Armin Van Buuren Club Remix)

Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks

Journey - Don't Stop Believin'
(The Glee Cast Version)

Nelly Furtado - Say It Right
(There's an interesting Bloc Party Cover of this song.)

Katy Perry - Hot and Cold (Yelle Remix)

Lady Gaga - Poker Face (Acoustic)

MGMT - Kids (This is James' song and it's the only one I'm going to explain.) His dad posted a tweet when James was born that says, "A baby is born crying out for attention." It's funny because some of our mutual friends saw his tweet and then freaked out because I didn't post first, but after 13 hours of labor I was kinda not really in the "post stuff" mindframe. I mostly stayed offline for days/weeks after James was born and I didn't really miss it much. This is an interesting cover: Weezer - Kids+PokerFace/ MGMT+LadyGaga (Live)

Kings of Leon - Use Somebody (DJ Slink Remix)

Black Eyed Peas - I Got A Feeling (Barletta Edit)

Kimya Dawson - My Rollercoaster


Passion Pit - Sleepyhead

Taylor Swift - You Belong With Me


Amanda Blank - Shame on Me
(Chew Fu Festival Fix Mix)

----------------------------------

And now on to the albums.

1. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
This was my top most listened to album of the year. And all the remixes. Man. There wasn't a bad song on the whole album.

Fences (Friendly Fires Remix)
Fences
(Jongleur Remix)
1901 (Bo Flex + Passion Pit Remix)
Armistice (Yacht Remix)


2. Florence + The Machine - Lungs
This was another really full and solid album. I love her voice. I love the power and the cleanliness of it. And her lyrics. She sings like someone older than she is.

You've Got the Love (XX Cover)
Rabbit Heart (PEST Remix)


3. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest

Two Weeks (Fred Falke Extended Remix)
While You Wait For The Others



4. XX - XX

Infinity (Christian TV Bootleg Remix)
Shelter (Death To The Throne Remix)


5. Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

My Girls
(Mexicans with Guns Remix)
Summertime Clothes (Dam Funk Remix)


6. Passion Pit - Manners
PP did some really great remixes over the last year, but their album was also really great. :)

The Reeling

Little Secrets
(Felix Da Housecat Remix)
Sleepyhead (Starsmith Remix featuring Ellie Goulding)


7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Bliss

Heads Will Roll
(Passion Pit Remix)
Zero
(RAC Remix)
Soft Shock
(Acoustic Version)


8. Miike Snow - Miike Snow

Animal
Silvia (Sinden Remix)


9. Metric - Fantasies

Gold Guns and Girls
Help, I'm Alive (The Twelves Remix)


10. Bat for Lashes - Two Suns

Daniel
Sleep Alone (Live Session Version)
Use Somebody
(Kings of Leon Cover)


11. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Higher Than The Stars

Young Adult Friction

This Love Is Fucking Right


12. Fever Ray - Fever Ray

Seven (The Twelves Remix)
When I Grow Up (Bassnectar Remix)
If I Had a Heart
(Fuck Buttons Remix)


13. Little Boots - Hands

New In Town (Fred Falke remix)
Mathematics
Remedy (Kaskade Club Remix)


14. La Roux - La Roux

I'm Not Your Toy (Data Remix)
In For The Kill
(The Twelves Remix)
Bulletproof


15. Deadmau5 - For Lack of a Better Name

Moar Ghosts N Whatever
Not Exactly

I Remember (Deadmau5 + Kaskade - Caspa Remix)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

When in time a feeling goes away...

... and for a while all that's left is the memory of the feeling... but then... eventually... even the memory of the feeling grows indistinct... there is no need for grief. It's time for joy.

Ten years ago, 2000, I was engaged. I was deeply involved in the most intensely passionate and personally overwhelming relationship I will probably ever have. I lost myself, we lost ourselves in that relationship. He and I. When we came into each other's lives, it was our shared desire for death, that probably most glued us together. We had nothing, nothing but amazing potential and the crushing expectations of our parents and our need to rebel against them. Both of us by underachieving, but also by him dating a white girl with blue eyes and blonde hair, and me by dating a Hispanic boy with green eyes, us both, by living together unmarried in a blatant "fuck you" to the religion of our families.

We tried to escape the bonds of this world and fall up into the nameless unknown through drugs and dance, and music, and film, and writing, and horrible jobs, and sleep deprivation, and every other way we could, by losing ourselves in each other. We shared plates (one plate at dinner for two people), cups, showers (I rarely had a shower by myself for the majority of our relationship), we only spent maybe a week total of nights apart, practically everything was held in common except toothbrushes and clothing.

At one point, he over-dosed himself and I nursed him through it. His body over-heating from the chemicals, I poured cold water over him and helped him cool down and vomit until his violent fever broke. I held him through the rabid dog dreams that took him far away from me in their jaws and shook his body like a limp rabbit before throwing him back down roughly on the shores of life. Another time I held him above water when he tried to drown himself in a pool shimmering with rain that shone golden under streetlights. I swore time and again that I would never leave him, that I would always love him.

This turned out to be the crux of the problem. At the beginning of us he had lied to me about who he was and he did not believe that I would love him if I knew the truth. He did not believe that he was worthy of love. He believed that my love was false and would not continue because I loved the person I thought he was, that he had led me to believe he was. He did not want to live a lie forever, but he was afraid to lose my love by telling me the truth.

We started fighting. He fought to make me leave, maybe because he was testing my love. I fought to stay, and against the pain he caused me. I fought also, because I was worried that we would never be more than just surviving and because I started seeing our potential wasted. I would drift away sometimes because he would hurt me, and then out of fear, he would fight to bring me back. It was a strange, back and forth pattern, we did not want to be apart, but we did.

Then, he began to lie about small things, which movie he saw, who he was out with, where he was, maybe he was testing me finally, with whether or not I could love someone who lied. Maybe he wanted me to break up with him so that he did not have to break up with me because he thought I was stronger than him in that way. Regardless, in return I became vigilant and wary as I began to uncover the little lies. I began looking for falsehood in every move he made, and it was too much for us. He could not bear my utter and bare-faced, brutal honesty. He lied and he believed that I lied too.

Anyway, the truth finally was spoken and the truth was finally the thing that broke us... I could not bear the fact that he lied about the fundamental nature of himself of the man he led me to believe that he was. I asked him to leave. I made him leave. He left. I did not know what to believe if he could lie about both his complete inner nature and also about the small things that he lied about. I still loved him, always and forever, but I didn't know who I loved anymore... or if he had ever truly loved me.

He left, but he only retreated a few blocks away. I think we could have gotten back together, but I couldn't stop throwing it back in his face. His failures, our failures. The lies.

I couldn't stop. I was too hurt. I was not able to deal with what happened appropriately. I was too young and inexperienced with life and other people.

Eventually, he really left. He cut me off years ago and went away. We have not spoken since.

I wrapped myself around my pain, around the vacuum left in his wake, I believed that that lack defined me.

All this time, my heart has been mending itself. I was struck with grief about two years ago when I first heard that he was married, I got drunk, did some stupid things, and wrecked a relationship I really wanted to work. I have been afraid that I would never fully heal.

I have loved other people. I do not know if I have ever learned all of the lessons that relationship had to teach me. I should have.

I will never completely empty myself in service of another person, a lover, like I did then. I want to stop being so bitter, always bringing up the failings of the people I love most. This is what killed us in the end, why we could never be friends, why I will never hear from him again... and I am desperately, horribly sorry.

I have found myself doing it again. Injecting poison into a person I loved because he hurt me, by throwing how he hurt me back in his face at every turn. The thing is, once someone has committed an action that hurts you, it's over. The incident only lasts as long as it lasts. The ramifications of the action may reverberate, there may be fallout from an atomic bomb, but it's your choice as to how you react to that hurt. You can hold on to it and embrace it until it informs your every movement, or you can react at the time, and then step back to protect yourself and rebuild.

To truly be able to forgive and forget, or at least forgive and never mention it again, that is what I want to be able to do. My son needs it from me, and, if I ever have another lover, that man will need me to be able to do that too.

I needed a place to put my pain where it can be forgotten. For a while I was putting it out on display in full. But it turns out that that's not ideal so I recently created a "dead letter" blog, anonymous and unconnected to me in any way, where, like in post-secret or something I can put whatever things I feel or need to write there, and no one who knows me will be able to read them or find them. It was important to do that. I can explain myself there and I feel better. I'm not cured, by any means, but I am trying with everything in me, to be able to separate my emotions from my actions more.

I do not want to hurt the people I love and/or care about to the point where we cannot be in touch anymore. To this end, I have sometimes, over the last few years, cut contact for a while. In my mind it was and is better to just STOP, than it was to accidentally, keep chopping them up and slicing them and holding them over the fire.

I'm tired of losing people.

This is the lesson, my ex-fiance taught me, the hardest lesson... and it's taken until now for me to really be able to accept the lesson.

A friend of mine who knew us both found his wedding pictures and sent them to me. I was afraid to look at them at first, but went ahead. I didn't feel hurt, or pain, or anything really. A regret that I was responsible for so much unhappiness in his life, and a regret that we are no longer friends. That was all I felt. Otherwise, I was fine.

I wish I could tell him that I'm sorry, thank you, and I'm glad that you're happy. That's all I have left to say to him after all this time. In this case, I am going to believe that it's the thought that counts.