What I Haven't Got

Winter's change is the cruelest of all, for me. It is frozen and dark and offers no glimmers of hope, except those that twinkle reflecting off the frozen tundra, mirages in the desert of our lives holding out the distance sparkle of solace where the reality is that there is none to be had, and it is cold, and there is a long way to go before there will be warm, golden light.

Everyone is writing their end of the year posts this week. The best books they've read, the coolest places they've traveled to, the best pictures they've taken, the best goals they can think of for themselves in 2013 - this is the week that pretty much everyone looks in the rear view mirror, checks their blind spot, and changes lanes along the highway of their lives. People woke up on Tuesday - maybe refreshed, maybe hungover, maybe pregnant, and stared down a new day and a new year with the determination to do/be/write/love/act better.

More. Bigger. Differently. Something. 

These are the moments for which I hold my breath and wait for time to pass. These are the days I pray for forgetfulness or distraction. These are the times I wish I wasn't, and didn't, and won't. 

My year isn't ending yet. My year ends on January 7th when my entire world did. It ends again on January 25th, when the new house of cards I'd spent 17 years meticulously building up came crashing down. My year isn't restarting yet.  It begins anew on January 9th, just like it has every year since 1992 when I was shoved headfirst through an airplane jetway and into a brand new life. 

January marks the days of my mother - the day I lost her, and the day I left her forever. January marks the day I lost my husband and decided in my heart, if not my head, to leave him forever, too. January is not the month I reset or recharge or realigned; it is the month I die over and over again. January is a month of resignation, of giving in - letting go and letting whatever the hell will make this easier

...

But I am trying to change that. 

This year will be the first calendar year that I live start to finish intentionally, for myself, not in a way that I feel like someone else is making me live but in the way that I chose to live. I ended this year entirely too far over the edge of the precipice to let anyone pull me back into that old cycle, that old life that I keep setting myself up to live through and die from over and over again.  

I'm learning - no, I've always known, I'm trying to accept - how much of everything that has transpired is my own fault. I didn't make my husband drink-and-everything-that-comes-with-it, but he certainly didn't make me stay, either. I perceive requirements that don't always actually exist and customize my life around them, because I am a highly skilled, professionally groomed enabler, and that is what we do best. I've been so afraid of change that I found a near exact replica of my relationship with my mother and entered into a legally binding, contractual, lifetime relationship with it. 

Every January I mourn these losses that are in fact gifts. Twice in my life I have held my nose and stood tippy-toes-over a precipice, waiting and hoping for something, someone, god will anything just come shove me over? because I certainly have never had the courage to leap on my own accord. Twice in my life I have been given exactly that which I have wished for. 

And it is a gift. These weights I cling to are actually disguised wings. I just have to figure out how to use them to fly.

Fabulous Yellow Roman Candles

Fireworks

It's been just over two years since we came to Texas and already, my kids know the community we live within well enough to call who would be lighting professional-grade fireworks in the middle of a suburban cul-de-sac on a Saturday night, from a half-mile away.

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We spent a glorious last evening of 2011 with the @schandenfreudett/@ck_lunchbox family, and on our way home we realized that five minutes til midnight on New Year's Eve is the greatest time to be driving because A) no one else is and B) you can see fireworks for miles and miles.

We had this incredible 360 view of the fireworks going off in every community near us, and as we drove closer to home we could start to differentiate the ones coming from our neighborhood, then the ones coming from our side of the neighborhood, and as we neared the entrance to our sub-division, we realized that we pretty much could pinpoint the ones coming from one of the kids' friends houses. 

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Sometimes I cannot believe the resiliency of my children, that they learn and re-learn people so openly and easily, how they are so easily adopted into the communities in which they live because they hold nothing back but instead burn, burn, burn like this time it's going to be forever. 

There is quite a bit in this life I am only going to be able to learn from my children, I believe.

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My neighborhood is this amazingly balanced mix of people, of cultures, of nationalities and ethnicities and sometimes I get so used to seeing everyone that I forget to see everyone. We all share the commonality of parenthood, and that has a funny way of blinding us to everything else. I forget that every single kid at the bus stop is a different shade of human, because after a while they all just look like kids who want to eat my stash of good cookies. 

Milano cookies are very bad at hide and go seek.

I stand on a corner with strangers, though no one can really be a stranger who's children you know, spending the first hours of this year under the bombtrack of roman candle warfare with people I suddenly regret I've resisted coming to know, watching our rainbow of children laugh and play under 1.3G rainbow of spiders exploding across the Texas stars.

It Was The Best of Decades; It Was The Worst of Decades

The decade ends tomorrow. I've seen the 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's all roll out. Christ, I feel old.

The 70's taught me to hate tie-dye and to love Joni Mitchell. The 80's taught me that you can't trust anyone, not even your own flesh and blood, especially not men who wield Aquanet. The 90's taught me that I can hold down whiskey, but not vodka. The 00's taught me that I was wrong about everything I'd learned up to that point.

I learned to love with everything I have this decade. I learned that I do know what I want to do with my life, and that I'm capable of it. I learned to forgive, I learned to accept blame, I learned to accept help. I learned who I am at the peak of my game and at my lowest point.

The best thing about this decade was that I lost my husband, my marriage, and most of my mind....and I got it all back, plus. If you were there for that, thank you. Thank you to each and every one of you that held me hand through it. You know who you are.

The best thing that happened to my husband this year is that his job got yanked out from underneath him, and then re-offered to him. In another country. You know when you first take on a project and you do the very best that you can with it, but the next time you have to try that same thing again, you realize that you're a bazillion times better at it the second time around than you were in the beginning? That's his career right now. His last gig, in Canada? Was fine. He was good at it. This one? He shines. He smiles when he comes home from work. He knows he's doing something right; he's not doubting himself all the time, he's confident and kicking some ass. It's pretty fucking hot, I'll admit.

The best thing that has happened this year to my oldest son was going to junior high. He gets up every morning and brushes his hair. He puts on cologne and arranges his hat just so. He tells me he thinks he looks like Chris (his godfather) when he wears his hat a certain way. He washes his face and uses astringent. He generally gives a rats ass.

The thing with this kid is that he's very cocky. He's very confident. He very much so does not give a flying fuck what you think. (I wish I was more like him.) But getting on that school bus full of strangers and getting asked out by some girl on his very first day in the biggest school he's ever seen in his life has changed him somehow. He's becoming a young man, and it's beautiful to watch.

The best thing that's happened in relation to my youngest son is that he finally hates math. See, he's the kid that will tell you that your dinner is FANTASTIC and SO GOOD and he CAN"T WAIT FOR MORE and all of that means that he will not eat one stinking bite of it, but you won't realize that because he's so busy LOVING it that you can't see him hate it with all his might. He's brilliantly manipulative that way. And when he comes home, day after day, singing the praises of math class because it's HIS FAVORITE and he's SO GOOD at it and he CAN"T WAIT FOR MORE math class, I know he's struggling. And a few weeks ago, when I asked him to practice math facts with me and he ughed at me, I asked him why he was being so crabby. He said, "Because, mawwwm, I HATE math."

And now that he is willing to let down his guard and not try to charm his way out of this, now that he can admit it, we can finally make some progress.

The best thing that's happened with the girl is that she's totally sick and she slept with her daddy last night.

She loves her daddy. She loves him a lot, but he's pretty busy most days scrambling to provide Every. Single. Thing. from Q-tips to cars for 5 people, and that takes up about 27 hours of each of his days. She doesn't see him a whole lot; none of us do. Naturally, when she's sick, it's all momma. But about two months ago, daddy lost his job and we got shipped across a country for the new one and he had just about a month during that transition time with us, at home, every single day. She remembered who her daddy is. And last night, burning with fever and restless from exhaustion, she wouldn't be anywhere but in his arms as she slept.

My family; we've made some progress.

As for me? Well, it's been a year. I'm glad it's over. We laughed, we cried, we hurled. I suppose I should figure out what the best thing that happened to me in 2009 was, huh? I don't know if I could pick just one.

  • Best internet tool in 2009: MySpace. Why? Because of MySpace, I found my long-lost brothers, that's why. Truth is, I found them in 2007, but we really found the connection again in 2009. When the last time you saw someone, you were changing their diapers/getting your diaper changed by them, it's hard to just pick up where you left of, 25 years previous. We did, finally. And it is good.

  • Best overplayed inside joke that no one gets and certainly no one thinks is funny anymore, but we do: Hey! Did you know that me and Greeblemonkey used to be neighbors?

  • Best neighbor to have find you online, if you happen to be so cursed lucky as to have your next door neighbor find you online, twice, even though you're totally anonymous: Luke In Van.

  • Best cooking blog to find that just so happens to be written by a guy who was in your wedding: Christopher Cina {dot} com Especially if you haven't really seen him since.

  • Best blogger to find out you're sleeping with half-way through a conference that all of your peers are attending, by way of whispers and hush-hushed conversation: Busy Dad. Because even though you're devastated for, like, an entire 10 minutes, not just because a rumour like that discredits one of your most valuable friendships, but it also discredits everything you've done in the past two years to save your marriage, and no one warned you so you didn't even shave your legs that weekend, after those 10 minutes are up you get to take a really quick inventory of your life and decide what actually matters, and that's when you realize that your friendship does. As so you take your husband's advice, which was, "Fuck. Them." and you proceed as usual. And you win. And your fake internet mommy persona gets to fake internet sleep with the one of the hottest fake internet dad persona out there. Coattails, Jim...coattails. I ride them.

  • Best blogger to actually sleep with every night of a conference that all of your esteemed peers are attending, and most of them are sharing a room with you: Tanis. Especially when she mistakes you for her Boo and burrows her fluffy blond head under your chin and drools all over your nightshirt. Because nothing says, "I love and value you" like, "I find your chin-stubble to be convincingly rugged enough to allow me to mistake you for a 30 something Canadian lumberjack." Also? I've never slept so well in my damn life. That's how you know it's true love.

  • Best hour and a half I spent this year: Speaking at that conference about health and those of us whom, occasionally or not, blog about it.  Never, NEVER in my life have I been more moved by the power of what we as bloggers can do. Never have I been so touched by so many amazing women and their stories. Listening to her speak and watching her be truly brave and just being able to participate in something that, well, big....it was an honor. Well worth the nightmare that getting the paperwork to leave Canada was.

  • Best thing I did to totally fuck up my chances of ever doing anything cool for my kids ever again: Letting them hang out at EA for a weekend and then with Tony Hawk for another one. It's going to be really ugly when they realize it's all downhill from here on out.

  • Best blog I'll ever have the honor of being associated with, even in some minuscule sort of way: Violence Unsilenced. THIS is the reason blogging matters. This is where there is change being effected and a difference is being made.

  • Best list I'm ever going to appear on, because at some point, someone is going to catch on to their mistake and I'll fade back into obscurity and go on being Greeblemonkey's Pony-Boy, which is all I ever really wanted anyway: The Babble Top 50 Mommy Bloggers. Partly because now I can say that five fucking years of doing this shit and someone finally noticed, but mostly because I've struggled so much with being labeled a Mommy Blogger. I don't think of myself as one, but you know what? I AM ONE. And I think I'm finally ok with it.

  • Best post that will keep me from shutting this blog down, no matter how many times I want to every single day: On All You Need, by ZoeyJane.

  • Best thing I was ever kind of trapped into doing, even though I knew I had to do it eventually: Tell my mother in law my blog url. I mean, I walked out of my bedroom and she said, "Good morning! So, what's your blog url?" I kind of had to give it up then, right? And you know what? I'M GLAD. I'm glad it's out. I'm glad that it's all on the table now, that I don't have some big secret hanging over my head anymore. Because seriously, do you have any idea how hard it is to keep something you do daily a secret from 95% of your family for five years? And now that she knows (everyone say Hi, Sarah!) the rest of the family is going to know and that will be the last of my super-secret-stealthy online identity. I will be public to those whom it matters most, my family. And I don't think anything will change. At least I hope it doesn't. You'll tell me if it does, right?


Here's to a new decade, a new adventure, a new me and a new you and a new us.

Mr Lady, out.