Sunday, September 30, 2007

Stories to Tell

This might be the medicine cocktail talking, but lately I've been unhappy with my output here. There are some individual posts that I like, that I really worked hard to produce, but generally speaking, I'm not happy.

I don't know if I've become too aware of my audience, or really, of the fact that I have an audience. I don't know if it's the self-consciousness that this largely invisible audience brings, or the frustration I feel when I write something that I think is either so funny or quite moving and it's like I can hear the crickets chirping in here. And at that point, of course, the question becomes, am I writing for you or am I writing for me? Both, I suppose.

I don't know if it's the lack of time to really think and create something special (which is impossible to do day in and day out, anyway), which leaves me feeling most days like I've got 30 minutes to throw something together - and really, I'm not good enough a writer or witty enough a person to manage that successfully every day.

Whatever it is, I am not happy with what I've been producing here for a while. I apologize to you if you've felt the same way.

It used to be that I had a lot of stories stored up to share, and when those ran low, ideas came easily to me. At the same time, Max used to go to bed earlier and on his own, and it was easy to settle down to write for an hour before Ben got home from work. The single act of Max's sleep habits changing has altered my ability to have a specific space to dedicate to this writing/socializing thing called blogging.

What I find myself doing now is just staring blankly into space until the, uh, words come to me. Or I take some mundane thing and try to turn it into something interesting or funny - and I never like the result. It just seems like my focus has been lost, and I'm here crafting nothing.

A lot of this, I know, has to do with my problem, which has lately been really making me feel depressed and stressed.

But I can't very well devote each and every post to the excruciating details of the pain I'm feeling right now. And that leaves me once again staring at the blank canvas, wondering what approach I should take with this blog, and wondering what stories I have in me to tell.

I really don't have an answer to this one.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/30/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, September 28, 2007

Digging My Way Out of the Grave (Updated)

Well. You ready for this?

Chest infection.

Sinus infection.

Middle ear infection.

And the awful ache I feel deep in my bones? Turns out that, when sick, the "organism" (that would be my body) releases chemicals that get absorbed by the bones (the marrow, really), and that causes the pain. (I have no clue, people, that's what the doctor said).

I'm behind on my emails, my blog reading/commenting and life in general. I've ingested nothing but liquids for the last four days. The fact that I'm now on a dozen meds (o.k., 4, whatever) and hopefully on the mend is dampened by the fact the antibiotic is tearing my stomach apart.

The only good that can possibly come of all this? Weight loss. For all I've gone through this week, only the loss of some weight or fat will really cheer me up.

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Update: Yup, there's been significant weight loss! W00t! Every cloud has a silver lining, you know.

Posted by Tere @ 9/28/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Was That Mom

On Monday, Ben, Max and I attended a sneak peak tour of the new Whole Foods Market that's opening here today. Let me tell you, just getting there was full of drama.

First, it became clear that we'd be unable to get a sitter for Max. Which then got me thinking, you know, Tere, you have to start taking him places if you want him to learn how to behave in public. So I figured this was a good time to do just that and take him.

When I went to the website to add him to our registration, I found out that the tours were closed. So I scrambled around and found one of their PR persons, who kindly let me add Max because of the coverage I've been giving this new shop in my Gables blog.

Now, Max had spent the weekend with a low-grade fever and a bit of a runny nose, but it was no big deal. I assumed he had more molars coming in. But by the time he showed up with Ben at Whole Foods, he was a congested, tired, icky mess. And I myself felt kinda crappy.

So we're going into this thing with two of us feeling like hell. But what do we do? I've already been a PIA about getting my son in, and now they recognize me as "the Gables blogger" and I can't just be like, "see ya". So we go in and start the tour.

Right off the bat, Max is fussy about not wanting to be in his stroller or his dad's arms and insists on having me carry him. Which is fine, except that he weighs a lot for me, and so when I have to carry him for prolonged periods, I prefer to use my sling. But the kid doesn't want the sling, so he's just a whiny mess. Finally he agrees to get into the stroller, because the first stop is the produce section, and they're handing out samples, which he wants badly.

Now my son's father, he sometimes suffers from lapses of reason and common sense. This was one such time. Instead of breaking the (organic!) banana slices up into something Max could manage, he just handed them over to the boy - who promptly shoved them in his mouth. Within seconds, he's either choking or coughing because of his cold, but either way, as the guide is talking, my son is hacking up half-chewed bananas and coughing like an 80-year-old who smoked two packs a day for 65 years. You know what happened next: half the people turned to stare at us; meanwhile, Max has a mess of half-chewed bananas and saliva going on his stroller tray.

So by now I feel like an ass, like that mom who's kid is sick and miserable yet she's oblivious to any of it; or is, but doesn't care because her shit is more important than him. But that wasn't the case. I just felt stuck and embarrassed and self-conscious and just awful. I didn't mean to expose anyone to my sick child; it was just a thing where I felt like I couldn't leave and so tried to make it better by staying back and covering him well.

I ended up putting him into the sling and letting him use his pacifier (I know! For shame!), which helped settle him down. He was happy snuggled into my neck. But each stop on the tour (meat, dairy, bakery) was punctuated by Max's hacking cough. And then just as we're about to wrap it up, he goes into meltdown mode and I just knew it was time to give up and head home (we had planned to skip the wine tasting since we had a small child with us, so were at the end as far as we were concerned).

Poor boy has had a bad cough since then, and I ended up getting sick as hell. I still feel like shit and am heading to bed for more rest.

But on Monday, much to my mortification, I was that mom. And it sucked.

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But I got to meet Lisa, who reads this blog! Yay! It was so cool to meet a reader! It was also totally surprising - but really awesome! Thanks for introducing yourself, Lisa!

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Posted by Tere @ 9/26/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

And Now, A Message From Beyond the Dead

Well, at least it feels that way.

I've been felled by the awful cold/virus that's been floating around my house for a couple of weeks now, and it got me good. I haven't been able to get out of bed all day; and while I'd normally rejoice at such a thing, this time around, I've been in such pain (everything hurts!) and either hacking up my lungs or blowing the contents of my brain out my nose - and I basically feel like shit.

I expect to be back to normal (ish) tomorrow, and will be back then.

Posted by Tere @ 9/25/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, September 24, 2007

Just Call Me Greta Garbo

I want to thank you guys. The comments and emails you've sent me, in light of the funk I've sunk into, are very touching. This is the part about having a site like this that's always surprising but cool: having people reach out to you because they can see in your words that you feel like shit and want to at least extend a virtual hug or pat on the back. So really, thank you.

I've used the last couple of days to really think about all this. There are a few reasons for this blah-ness of mine, some over which I have some control and some not. I basically look at things like this and just want to get to the point: what can I do about it? A long time ago, I used to wallow in these feelings; I used to let them lead me and prevail in my decision-making. Now, I just care to fix it. Whatever it is I have to do, just let me figure it out, and I'll do it. I approach it with an almost clinical air now: what's the problem; what's causing it; what's the solution; fix it and move on. Next problem, please.

But over the last few days, as I've set about correcting whatever it is that ails me, one persistent thought kept popping into my head, even at times when I wasn't exactly focused on myself or my feelings: I want to be alone.

I don't think I can stress enough to anyone how very true it is that I am basically never alone, and how much a problem this is for me. If I have to be specific, the only times I have been completely alone in the last 2 years are when I shower (and even then, not always), and on the days that Ben leaves work before me and takes Max to daycare. That's it. Otherwise, I'm surrounded by husband and child, co-workers, relatives and strangers. Always.

People, this is a big part of the problem. I've gone from having enough alone time that I never even noticed it to having none. And I have the very strong feeling that this is so unhealthy and plays a big part in my feeling like shit. I mean, between work, Max, Ben, home, etc., I don't have the time or space to just think. I haven't been able to focus on anything real or meaningful about myself, and it's taking its toll on me.

I should clarify here that the issue is not that I'm not "allowed" to have alone time. Ben is actually superb about working with me to make sure I have down time and non-mommy time. The problem lies in my being alone in my own home. It's easy enough to send me off to the mall or out with a friend or to the library, but not so in creating a situation where the boys take off and leave me the hell alone for a day. Or three.

A lot of it has to do with our home life: we're in a groove (rut?) where we spend a lot of time at home and go out to run errands or do specific things, i.e., attend a party, eat a meal, etc. But given a choice of randomly doing things (things, admittedly that would be fun for Max but a hassle for us, like going to the zoo), we usually stay put and spend the day in the yard or playing in the A/C. So at this point, to get everyone but me out of the house for an entire day is totally doable, but a total pain in the ass. Toddlers are not always the most amenable of people, to put it nicely.

So anyway, Tere needs alone time. Real alone time. As in, alone in her house with nothing but silence. Ideally, for three or four days, but one will have to do if it's all I can get. I got to sleep in a bit yesterday, and all I could think, as I got up because the guilt of how long I'd been in bed was pressing on me, was that my current definition of "ideal" and "bliss" is to be able to sleep in as long as I want, then get up and just be alone.

Alone. Alone. Alone. The word fills me with a longing that hurts. I wish I could have a space to hear my own thoughts, to give those thoughts attention, to sit still and meditate and pray and just enjoy the silence. To step away from all that my life is now, just so I can check in with myself and find the energy and strength to do everything I need to do with an open heart. I would enroll in a spiritual retreat right now if it wasn't for the fact that even there I'd be surrounded by other people.

I suppose I'm feeling the cumulative effect of not being at all alone for so long now, which means the desire is amplified a thousand times more that it would be otherwise. It's making me want not just a day alone, but days alone.

And yet, looking at my life, that's asking for too much.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/24/2007   | | | links to this post

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Best TV Ever

From two of my favorite shows, my favorite scenes:




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Posted by Tere @ 9/22/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just So You Know

This post from earlier this summer? Yup, it totally sums up everything for me right now.

Carry on.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/21/2007   | | | links to this post

I'm Not Responsibe if You Follow my Hair Tips

Now that I'm temporarily done beating myself up for having a body that's imperfect but normal, let's discuss the real reason you all visit this site in the first place: my hair.

I dyed it.

I haven't had any color in my hair since October 2005, so it's all virgin hair, and this is exactly what I wanted. Why? Because I wanted to dye my hair with henna, and to do that, you can't have processed hair of any kind.

So, quick hair lesson! Henna is a natural, cool way to dye your hair. The bad news? It's a long process, messy and smelly. The good news? No ammonia and weird-ass chemicals. I began to dye my hair with henna when I was 17 or 18, using a simple recipe I got from a real Indian woman: henna powder, an egg, tea:

1. You get a regular tea bag (regular tea: nothing with fruit or other additives) and dunk it in water (room temp is fine) (about half a cup for long hair like mine).
2. Use that tea water and add the powder and egg.
3. You'll get a nice, greenish mud. Apply that to clean, dry hair.
4. Put on a shower cap and leave on overnight (protect your pillow and sheets with towels).
5. Rinse, shampoo and condition.
6. Stare at yourself in admiration.

Now, there are some points on this process where I differ with general opinion. Most boxes of henna (American-made) suggest you leave it on for an hour. I disagree. When you leave it on for an hour, nothing happens. The color doesn't take. You really do have to leave it on for a minimum of 4 hours to see any change (which is why I just sleep with it; because what else can I really do with funky-smelling green mud in my hair?). Also, with henna, you really only have one hair color option: reddish. It doesn't really work on people with black or blond hair. But now you can get boxes that are like henna plus color, which is done by adding natural ingredients like indigo, rhubarb and chamomile. I have mixed feelings about this, and have never cared for these products. I preferred to follow the Indian lady's instructions (she had such gorgeous hair) and used to buy my henna from an Indian grocery store that no longer exists (thanks, condo developers!). That henna was what I consider real henna, made and imported from India (and still crazy cheap at $3 a box).

My experience this week confirms my thought that these "color henna" products suck. For behold:

Me, this past weekend:


And me, post crappy color henna product:



Yeah, I don't see a difference, either.

The lesson I learned? Drive all over Miami if that's what it takes to find the real deal. Henna fades naturally (though, like all dyes, you end up with brassy ends, and I did manage to get those this time around), so I'm thinking I need to wait a few weeks and then try again.

And yeah, crazy fly-aways are as crazy as ever. I've taken to wearing headbands 93% of the time just to hide them.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/21/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Setback, then Progress, then Chocolate: An Update on the Fat Saga

I can't tell you what the setback was in my efforts to lose some weight and get in shape because I have no clue what it is. None.

I just know that between my last post on this topic and this week, my clothes were back to looking like crap on me, and I swear that my thighs tripled in size. I've done nothing different, meaning, that I didn't start eating sweets or junk food or anything. I have no choice but to chalk up to hormones, since that seems like a good catch-all reason.

Despite this setback, there has been some progress. The biggest thing for me is that I am not eating sweets at all and am not even craving them. Same goes for carbs, at least by the time I get home from work. This is a big deal for me, because I am definitely one of those people who eats carbs and is instantly puffy and bloated.

There's also the fact that I'm definitely back to eating smaller (normal) portions. In the last 10 days, I've had two large meals (think Cheesecake Factory portions), and I felt sick afterwards. That made me so happy. I was getting to a point where I could feel my stomach expanding with every bite I took.

The one thing where I'm failing is the gym. I'm barely going. Besides my innate hatred of the gym, it's just hard to schedule it. I'm usually exhausted at the end of the day, and I also have a ton of things to do. My only days for taking care of things are the days Ben is off because he can pick Max up from daycare and be with him. So if I have a million things to do or am exhausted, and I only have very limited free time as it is, do you really think I want to waste my time in the gym? Well, I don't. I know I have to be active, and this is a real challenge for me, but I just. hate. the. gym. Hate.

The only thing I'm really working on is how I look in clothes. It's a trick, trying to dress this body of mine. Even things that shouldn't cling, cling. Or, those that actually flow still manage to show my bumps and lumps. Ugh. I'm self-conscious and hideous no matter what I wear.

So here's my plan: more of what I've been doing in the eating (or not eating) department, and greater effort to be physically active.

I wanted to make this a little deeper and get into all the psychological shit that's going on parallel to this thing, but honestly, I'm not in the mood to own up to how weak and vulnerable this makes me feel; or to how angry I am at myself for being so vain; or to how I hate feeling so self-conscious; or to how I feel unattractive and depressed and just want to cry over it all. This is an issue that has never been an issue, and it affects how I see myself and how I think others see me.

Basically, it sucks.

Oh, and about the chocolate. There is no chocolate. Are you kidding me? The guilt of eating chocolate would probably lead to days of self-loathing. We'll talk chocolate again when I'm not such a ball of flab.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/20/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Random Mix Wednesday

The Personification of the Stereotype

A few weeks ago, I shared with y'all my conviction that the new fashion trend of high-waist is utterly ridiculous because they're nothing but over-priced, over-hyped mom jeans.

I remain convinced.

And now, some poor soul has unwittingly proved my point:

''I like that they are honest about the way you look in something when you try it on, and that they're just not trying to make a sale,'' said Eileen Falcon, 32, of Coral Gables, who has been shopping at Aura since it opened, and particularly likes jeans by Fidelity. "I'm a mom, so the high-waisted jeans are great.''

Oh, Eileen. You've just set us back two decades. And totally wrecked whatever coolness we've attained in that time.


It's Tere's Favorite Day!

Avast, mateys! Today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Smartly now, learn the lingo and drive everyone you know crazy!


Being a Cuban-American Really F***s You Up

My friend Jenny is going through some nostalgia but stops to acknowledge that growing up Cuban-American in Miami really warps you. And sister, I feel ya. Your experiences are uniquely yours yet universal to all us CA's here in this no-man's land.


Wherein I Encourage You to Blow Your Money on Cute Baby Things

My post at GNMParents went up early this week, on Monday, but I'm programmed to announce it on Wednesdays, so here you go. This week, links to awesome baby and kids clothing sites that are super cool, but not very well known.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/19/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dear Facebook and Bill Maher: You're Idiots

So hey, remember when MySpace went stupid and banned a user who {gasp!} posted a picture of her baby breastfeeding?

Facebook just did it too. Oh hell, people, I swear that I don't have the patience for this shit. I mean, are you kidding me? Breastfeeding is obscene? But half-naked 16-year-olds are not? We are such an ass-backwards society! Our priorities are so ridiculously effed up!

As IzzyMom points out, Facebook considers pictures of nursing babies obscene, but they are perfectly o.k. with hosting more than 350 pro-anorexia groups. What a great way to sum up what is wrong with the way our society views women.

And here, of course, is where Bill Maher comes in. This dickbag recently went on this totally unfunny diatribe about how mothers who breastfeed in public (and take on the cause) are petty and narcissistic and angling for the "spotlight". Yeah Bill, because the times when Max would yank his sling or blanket off his head, I was all check me out now, muchachos! My B's are now unbearable D's, and all this milk that keeps gushing out at the wrong moments? So fucking sexy! Indeed, didn't you all know that the only reason I breastfed was to be stared at and glared at and have everyone look at me while I struggled with a fussy baby who couldn't decide if he wanted on or off the boob?

Normally, I would dismiss Maher's comments as nothing but an attempt to shock and draw ire by a political comic who no longer matters, but my problem with him in particular is that he is - as has been pointed out - a regular at the Playboy Mansion, and my guess is that the bare breasts there don't really bother him. So he is guilty of what so many hypocrites in this country are: breasts to sell sex are o.k., but breasts to feed babies are not. Breasts popping out of tiny, plunging tops (on teenage girls, no less) are o.k.; but breasts barely (if at all) exposed to accommodate an infant are not.

I feel like a broken record: this is wrong, this is stupid, this is so ridiculous my teeth ache. And yet this is reality. For untold amounts of people out there, the sight of a baby taking nourishment from his or her mother's breast is obscene. It's wrong. It shouldn't be allowed in public.

Politics and health benefits aside, breastfeeding is such a beautiful thing. I would daresay that most mothers (at least, I) aren't eager to nurse in public. But sometimes we have to, and we should have that right. When I had to nurse Max at the mall or at a restaurant (and when I will surely nurse my as-yet-unborn children in public), I was meeting his needs; I was being his mother. It wasn't about you; it wasn't about my breasts. It was about Max and what was best for him.

That people equate that with obscenity is sad and despairing.

(And hat tip to Mojo of a Mama for putting it so, uh, graphically!)

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Posted by Tere @ 9/18/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Birthday Party I Can't Decide if I Loved or Hated

The day got off to a bad start, with Max having an accident at my parents' house and cutting the corner of his left eye. When he showed up at home in time to get dressed for his party, he had an ugly, blue/black eye, accentuated by an ugly, red gash.

Should I have taken that as a sign?

Probably not, since Ben and I worked really quickly and smoothly and - thanks to my dad and BIL - had everything ready to go on time. Minimal stress, really, especially since my sister took care of getting Max ready so Ben and I could jump in the shower and get ready as well.

Really, I should be writing this today and saying it was a great party. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, we had plenty of shade, and the food was abundant. Plus, snow cones and cotton candy - we had both.

But... I don't know. I'm frustrated. Mainly, it's because half the people we invited did not RSVP, and it really fucked us up. Given that it's happened before where people don't RSVP and then show up, I felt compelled to factor extra (invisible) guests in, just in case. So you know what happened, right? I ended up with a ridiculous amount of tables, chairs and pizza. Ultimately, I would rather be over-prepared than not, but still. That was a lot of money and food that we spent for nothing. And I can live with that, but I'm really, really, really over the way people just do not RSVP. It's o.k. if you can't come, but shit, INFORM ME. It's bothered me all weekend. It's making me feel like there's something wrong with us that inherently makes people be totally rude, thoughtless assholes with us.

The prevailing feeling? I'm not going through this again.

Why do I have this sense of deja vu? Oh yeah, I've been here before.

In the end, though, Max had a blast. That boy ran and jumped and squealed his heart out. He was a hot, sweaty, dirty mess by the time we called it a day. That's really all that matters to Ben and me - that our boy thoroughly enjoyed his special day.

The next morning (yesterday), his entire eye was this awful purple/black color. I had some errands to run and instead stayed home all afternoon because honestly? I didn't want to deal with people staring at us and judging me as the abusive mom who gave her kid a black eye. And around here, people will not only stare, they'll question you about it. Which in a way is fine, but I was not in the mood for that shit yesterday.

So, before I get all cranky again, enjoy the pictures from this weekend's festivities!


The party in full swing.


Ben rocks the snow cone machine.


Bounce house! I bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce!


Piñata!


Dudes, seriously? They're not even going to let me eat any of this candy.
(Please ignore dirty, dirty, white-trash-like socks; at some point, I stopped putting his shoes on every time he left the bounce house.)


Cake! Cake for me to stick my fingers in! Oh sweet cake! I will dive head-first into you!

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Posted by Tere @ 9/17/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Ex Files: Even a Good Ex is Bad in the End

It mattered a great deal to me that we were on good terms. Not just because I have such a crappy history with ending romantic relationships on good terms, but also because he was someone with whom I wanted a "good" relationship, even if it was no longer a romantic one.

With him, of all the guys I've dated, it was most important because he had been the best of the lot. We shared a long history and had managed to date on and off over the years with basically zero drama. That alone was miraculous unto itself. So when we ended for the final time, I was worried. This last go-around was the one and only time we'd dated as adults, and it had been a surprisingly great relationship; I don't think either one of us expected it. But when we ended, he was hurt and angry and vowed that we would never, ever, ever be together again. Considering all that, I was convinced I'd also lost a very good friend.

So when he contacted me months later to see how I was doing (and to slip in an apology for his behavior when we broke up) it was nice to know that he held my friendship in high enough esteem to reach out. I won't lie - I was happy that to have him back in my life and happy to have him as my friend (and really, there was nothing more than that. We had both moved on).

Because we had an easy rapport, that meant that we could talk about a lot of things with minimal awkwardness. When he began to discuss his relationship issues with me, I felt very qualified to give advice and did so.

But. Maybe it was inevitable, but there came a point where I became uncomfortable. The turn for me came when I realized that the benefit of the doubt he never game me, the trust he never placed in me, the attention and priority he never gave me, he was giving his girlfriend. Guess it was a sore spot with me, and I guess I just was not equipped to handle it. It was the point where friend and ex-girlfriend converged, and the ex-girlfriend won out.

In typical fashion, I could not let it go. I couldn't be diplomatic, and avoid the topic but be myself in all other respects. Regardless of the all plain facts that stood in front of me (it was pointless, it wasn't my problem anymore, I was happy with someone else, who cares, it was just the leftover remnants of that part of me that needs answers to and reasons for everything - and I knew it), I just could not keep my mouth shut and leave it be.

So I wrote an email.

I told him in an e-mail (an e-mail I was extremely embarrassed to write) that I was writing that e-mail because I needed to tell him what was on my mind, get it out there, because it was getting in the way of our friendship, and I valued that friendship too much to have things festering in-between us. And that was true, but it was also a lie. It was a lie because quite frankly, my feelings were deeply hurt. I could not make sense of how all the things that had been an issue between us (and I strongly felt that they were issues because he made them issues) were not issues between them. It didn't matter that we were no longer a couple and that I was not looking to become one again: some part of me just could not understand why. Specifically, I could not understand why he had had such an attitude adjustment, why he hadn't carried over all his "women get in the way of the creative process" bullshit into that relationship.

But I did understand why: because he loved her more than he loved me, and for her, he was willing to man up and dive in.

And so be it, you know, but I did not feel like I should have to hear about it. If I didn't go on and on about how wonderful my man was, how happy I was, just out of respect for the past, why should he?

And I chose to tell the very person who had hurt me (as opposed to just bitching to my girlfriends) because I wanted to be sure he knew that I knew. I wanted him to know that I wasn't stupid, that whether he did it on purpose to sting the fuck out of me or whether he was completely unaware of his own words, I understood. For being such a "good" friend, such a "good" ex-boyfriend, it sure was unkind and unfriendly of him to rub in my face the stark difference between his behavior with her and his behavior with me when I was in her shoes.

And why should I care, if I too had moved on? Perhaps because I had really believed in the friendship, because I needed to be able to believe that two people could move beyond a failed romance and still get along and catch up every now and then and have it be a pleasant experience. In the end, though, I got stuck at the part where I saw quite clearly that I was nothing that I thought I was. To learn that another could get all that I couldn't, all the attention and priority I was denied, and worse even, repeated chances to try to make it work - it was a hurt so shocking and strangely oppressive that I may as well have had the wind knocked out of me.

More than that, there was this: because I had really loved him. For real. Really real. Super, incredibly loved him. As in, man-of-my-dreams loved him. As in, had I been in a different place emotionally, and had he dealt with some shit I thought he needed to deal with, I would have never let him go. And for that, I needed to believe we could be friends. I needed to believe that what we had was so meaningful and deep and real that - in lieu of a romantic relationship - we would want to - need to - be friends.

UGH. I'm an idiot, I know.

We aren't friends anymore, much less good exes. Although he replied very nicely and understandingly to my email, it ultimately caused the awkwardness I was hoping to prevent. We probably could have moved past it after some time, but he made the choice a short while later to cut all ties.

I had been looking at the situation through rose-colored glasses, believing that our *connection* and our basic concern for each other would make friendship easy, believing that the present could be unaffected by the past - and it just doesn't work that way.

I suppose I could have then begun to brood about why I wasn't friendship-worthy, but why bother? There was no point. There are times where all we can do is live with the consequences of our actions and choices, and push no more.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/14/2007   | | | links to this post

What I Did the Day I Turned Two; or, a Guest Post from Max; or, Warning: Baby Butt Ahead

After we got home from dinner the other night, we realized we'd be really lame parents if we didn't get at least a few pictures of our son on his second birthday. For the history books, you know.

So, here's Max celebrating the big 2 with a bath and some ice cream. And to make it even extra more special, he himself is providing the narration.

Hellooooo, people! I so love bath time! I just recently learned to put my face in the water, and I particularly (what? he speaks like that, I swear!) love sticking my ears in the water! Feels good! I also love dumping water on my mami as she tries to bathe me, but she has no sense of humor and refuses to take pictures of that.


Swim! I swim in tub! Whheeeee!


Mami seemed giddy when she saw me scrubbing the tub. I saw her reaching for the tub cleaner and was about to hand it to me when Daddy jumped in and stopped her. Wonder what that's about?


Oooohhhhh, ice cream!


Sooooo good!


Soooo, sooooo good!


Oh yeah, that was GOOD!

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Posted by Tere @ 9/14/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, September 13, 2007

True Things About Me That Will Shock* You

(* "Shock", of course, is a relative term).

You know that "100 Things About Me" thing that a lot of bloggers have on their sites? I love those. I've read some really funny ones. I decided I wanted my own funny list, too.

I started working on mine in March or April, and right now, I'm at like #46. Turns out there might not be 100 things about me. Maybe I'm more like 50 things or something.

Anyway, since that list isn't coming any time soon, I figure I may as well toss some true-but-WTF? things about me out there. I'm not sure what you can hope to gain from them, other than to confirm that I am not always sound of mind; or maybe you'll be comforted in knowing that someone else is just as effed up as you are. Or maybe we can pretend I'm a celebrity doing the "shocking and true" interview with People Magazine, and you'll learn all these things about me that will surprise you but will ultimately move you because, yes, I am human, too.

And so:

1. As a teenager, I regularly attended demonstrations and protest rallies against companies that opened businesses in tourism resorts in Cuba. To this day, I refuse to shop at Benetton's.

2. I once went on hunger strike just to see what it was like. I lasted two days.

3. I had a gay husband. Well, I still do. We love each other dearly; we're just not on the same team.

4. In the darkest days of my depression (in college), there was one particular afternoon where I was so despaired and miserable that I racked up about $1,000 on my credit card in the span of 3 hours.

5. One of my ex-boyfriends, after he fake-broke up with me in a fit of anger and I refused to take him back the next day, started stalking me. Then he threatened to kill me. He was my neighbor. I'm still scared of him.

6. For the first three months that Ben and I dated, I thought he was Catholic. And Cuban.

7. I have never, ever tried a single drug or had a one-night stand. I'm kinda bummed about the former, but not the latter.

And that is that.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/13/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Thankfully, I was Never a Girl Scout

Had I been one, I most likely would have been kicked out for my obsession - my freaky, freaky obsession - with being prepared. I must be prepared for every. possible. scenario. imaginable. I live my life with plans A, B, C and D all lined up and ready to go. It's also typical of me to pick random things and harp on them to the point of being absurd. Because my name is Tere, and I'm a control freak.

And yet, I'm so not always prepared, nor am I compelled to control everything. It's always little things, like the way I ask Ben to do something simple then tell him exactly how to do it. In excruciating detail. And let's face it, when it comes to parenting, I am mainly unprepared - in every regard. Still, there are just some things that I can't leave well enough alone.

This morning, on my drive to work, I noticed that my iPod battery was dangerously low. And panic seized me. How had I forgotten to charge it? How could I be caught out on the road without a way to revive my dying music player? What would I do if it - ohmigod- died?

I became aware of this mental meltdown half-way through it, and it was such an out-of-body moment that I had to stop and laugh at myself.

But the iPod battery thing is a good example of what I'm talking about here. I am paranoid of having things "die" on me: my iPod, my cellphone, my car. So I take all these precautions to make sure I always have enough battery, enough gas. My gas gauge drops too close to E, I run to the gas station; my cell phone beeps one warning of low battery, I hook it up to the charger. The iPod, unfortunately, has no warning, and quite frankly I knew the battery was dangerously low. It's just that for once, I wanted to be a daredevil; I wanted to let it go and see what would happen if I just let the thing play and play and play without minding the battery.

And you know what happened? The battery died. Before I got to work. In the middle of a good song.

Yet I managed to survive. I turned the radio on and resumed my singing. I will have to drive home without my favorite songs playing.

But I think I'll be o.k.

******************************************************

I am now contributing to a great new blog called Moms Speak Up. My first post just went up. Be good people and check it out, o.k.?

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Posted by Tere @ 9/12/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Max Turns 2, and It's Mostly About Me

Dear Maxi,

Last year, when you turned one, I was still marveling at how you came into this world; I was reliving the memory of that night when everything changed.

I've had time these past 12 months to let that night settle into my memory, into a place where I can recall it, enjoy it, and then lay it back to rest. This is important to me, because I have a history of getting so stuck in the past that I can't see or move beyond it. And considering that your daddy and I want to, maybe in the next year, try to bring another baby into our family, it's important that I keep that night in proper perspective, or else it might negatively affect my second pregnancy and labor.

But I digress - and you will see plainly over the years that I digress an awful lot.

Max, your turning two is bittersweet for me. This last year has been full of moments where you have astounded me; where I have felt so incredibly proud of you each and every time you mastered a new skill or spoke a new word; where I have felt so frustrated by your stubbornness and the way you ignore me and keep doing whatever it is I'm asking you not to do; where I have held you tightly and felt your chubby arms around my neck as you sighed in sheer contentment.

This last year you have shown us - in no uncertain terms - who you are: a ham, a drama queen, willful and temperamental and exhausting. And smart. So very smart that it freaks me out. It could very well be that you're like every other kid out there, but I just can't buy that. I see you and the way you observe people and things, the way you remember words you are told and games you are taught; I see you connect the dots and come back at us with your understanding of these things. And I see a little boy who is bright and funny and who loves to laugh and be the center of attention. I see a lot of me in you, and that is both wonderful and awful.

At the same time, though, you turn two at a time when I am so mired in a problem that I have practically lost my common sense. I have lived with this ridiculous thing hanging over me for so long now that it is affecting everything: my general disposition, my sense of humor and my ability to keep things in perspective. You'll learn one day that there are times when a seemingly small, unfortunate thing can morph into an obsession that consumes you. I am a point where I honestly fear that once this problem ceases to be one, once I can breathe easy again and not be such a crank, I won't be able to get back to normal, nor will I know how to.

Of course, this is where I turn to you, to your sunshine and innocence. Because the truth is, Maxi, it is you and your sunny, happy nature that has effected whatever positive changes I've made in the last two years. It is for you that I constantly fight my own darkness. If for nothing else, I do it just because I know you need and deserve a mom who won't fuck you up too badly; I understand that my issues are mine alone, and that it's my responsibility to you to not let them damage you.

It's important that I say this to you because the possibility that I do the exact opposite is always there. I have felt, I feel, I probably will always feel, always on the brink of veering off the "good" path and into my own abyss of despair.

But um, how about I save that for another day and not ruin your commemorative second birthday letter?

Max, you have brought us so much happiness that it's almost criminal. Your greatest gift is your ability to make people laugh. Maybe it's impossible to not laugh at the antics of a two-year-old, but my son, you've got this thing about you - maybe it's a combination of your quirky little face and mannerisms and maddening energy and skills at mimicry - that leaves everyone you encounter laughing.

And so today, my greatest wish for you is that you will forever make people laugh. And that as you grow and understand the value of such a gift, that you also grow in compassion and kindness. When I think of how I will measure how "good" a mother I have been, it will be in how kind and compassionate a man you are. No pressure for either one of us, right?

Happy birthday, monkey. Thank you for coming into my life and making it infinitely better than I ever imagined it could be.

Now, if only you would let me get some sleep... we'd be golden, my boy. Golden. Hhmm... maybe next year...

Te quiero,

Mami


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Posted by Tere @ 9/11/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Nice" is an Underrated Word

I myself am guilty of underrating it. How many things do I absentmindedly describe as "nice"? How many times do I, quite sarcastically, mutter "Oh, that's nice" when I see someone being blatantly rude or self-absorbed?

But "nice", I think, gets a bad rap. Being "nice", however overused and abused that word is, is important to me. In fact, it's not very easy to be a genuinely nice person. I don't know that I myself fit the bill; but the wonderful Julie over at Using My Words was kind enough to award me the Nice Matters Award, for which I am grateful. I am now to pass this award on, which I will happily do.

I've chosen to single out some new readers who have not just been reading my lil' ol' words, but who have been nice enough to comment and share their thoughts with me and the rest of you.

So, I hereby bequeath the Nice Matters Award to:


InTheFastLane from That's Life v 2.0

Miss from Rura and Miss

Slouching Mom from Slouching Towards Past 40 (though not a new reader, always nice enough to leave a thought!)

Heather from Blog, Blah, Blah

Julie from Learning & Laughter

Of course, there are dozens of you who are nice and friendly and kind, and I certainly don't intend to single anyone out. Normally, I avoid choosing people to award things to, because I'm just not good at picking some and not others (and it seems so exclusive of me to do so); but in this case, I really did want to give a shout-out to some new readers who have really become a part of the little community I've got going here.

Finally, there is one more person I really do want to single out for some special lovin'. Bill over at The Florida Masochist - despite the fact that he doesn't know me from anyone - has never been anything but unfailingly nice to me. Nice, in all the best parts of the word. I am ever grateful at the way he has regarded me since we first *met* through the local blogosphere.

Bill has been on my mind a great deal lately. He is currently in the midst of dealing with a tough health issue, one that I hope ends well, with his winning over this beast. Moreover, Bill is a dad, one who has faced the greatest of all tragedies, and for whom my heart aches whenever I think about him, his wife, and the way their lives must go on with such sadness underscoring it. And yet, his own personal situations aside, Bill is prolific in the blogging community and is always, always, respectful and intelligent - and nice.

So, my nice people, go forth and multiply.

And have a nice day.

***************************************************

Please let it be known that I survived the weekend without eating sweets. No sweets. At all.

Surely, there's some kind of prize for this?

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Posted by Tere @ 9/10/2007   | | | links to this post

Friday, September 07, 2007

Update: Still Fat But Not As Fat

Well. Lots to report today regarding my attempt to de-fatize myself.

Actually, should I even be using the word "fat"? Is that not PC? Is it an insult? I just have no other word to use. I mean, I'm still on the skinny end of the spectrum, but due to the fact that none of my clothes fit me and that- no matter what I wear - I look like one of those cans of biscuit dough when it pops open and all the dough is squeezing out the sides, struggling to get out, I think I'm allowed to say I feel fat.

That said, it's been an interesting few weeks since this drama problem became a primary concern of mine. If I may get a bit too TMI on you, I had some problems with my, um, period this month and I spent about three weeks in this awful limbo where there was no period (and definitely no pregnancy, so I knew something was up), but I was in the throes of a PMS that had me bloated like a dead animal left in a pond to rot and craving food that's acceptable to eat only when you're 38 weeks pregnant and nothing else matters.

Let me tell you, people, getting my period has never felt better. Because in doing so, I lost, no exaggeration, four pounds. Seriously.

Add to that the efforts I've been putting in to eating better. Since I had that whole bloated dead animal/crazy pregnant woman cravings, I didn't really put my heart into eating better until this week. What I've done so far is forsake all sweets, eat small portions, and not have anything to eat past 7 p.m. And I went to the gym. Once, but hey, that's better than nothing.

The result for now is that today I'm wearing a t-shirt I bought at the height of my post-pregnancy thinness, and it looks fine on me. Not tight. Also, I have these jeans that I got soon after I had Max, my transition jeans, which are smaller than maternity ones but bigger than my regular size. I've been wearing them non-stop lately because they're soft and were basically the only ones that didn't squeeze the life out of me. Today, they're big on me. When I put them on this morning, I even did that thing they do in diet commercials where the person stretches the waistband out so you can see just how big the jeans are on them. Yup, these are big on me, too.

The thing I've noticed as I've tried to focus on getting in shape is that my problem is not so much *weight* as it is understanding how my body is different now and what I need to do to get it firm again. Ultimately, the numbers on the scale don't mean anything to me. I measure "fat" and "skinny" by the way my clothes fit and which part of my body jiggles, and how much it jiggles. So for me, it's about being jiggle-free and fitting into the clothes I already have. The clothes that've fit for years and which I'd like to continue wearing.

So now the weekend is upon us, and this is the hard part for me. I usually allow myself dessert and treats like Slurpees on weekends, plus my large Cuban breakfast on Sunday mornings. So my challenge will be to stick to small portions and to limit sweets. I keep thinking that once I get into this groove of smaller portions and my stomach is used to it, it'll be easy to do (this has happened before, and I seem to go through periods like this, where I get used to eating more but once I cut my portions, my stomach readjusts and smaller portions fill me up just fine).

Basically, some progress has been made. I'm pleased with how I've been working on some bad habits. The next big thing to tackle: getting my butt to the gym, which I hate. So hate. Tere hates the gym. So you can imagine how hard this part is for me. Hard. So hard.

But then I look down at my thighs and realize that - sigh - I have to do this.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/07/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Things that Freak You Out in the Night

One night when Max was almost seven months old, we were woken up in the middle of the night by an awful sound. The sound was Max, obviously struggling to breathe and coughing this awful cough that made my heart stop.

That night, after a failed attempt to give him a breathing treatment and to sit with him in a steamy bathroom (by then, we were old hands at dealing with his asthma-like issues) and seeing no change (he was worsening, in fact), a quick call to his pediatrician confirmed what we thought: we had to get him to the ER, stat. We called rescue and they took my tiny boy away.

I have some already-vague memories of stumbling to throw some clothes on, grabbing my purse and his diaper bag, and running out the door, wild and worried, flying down the streets in an effort to reach the hospital before anything tragic happened.

It turned out that Max, who had been battling a cold and was also teething, had croup. He did not respond to treatment, though, and he had to be admitted to the hospital. The most vivid memory I have of that time is the sight of my boy (who at that time was still quite small for his age) in the big, cage-like crib, an IV needle stuck in his hand, wearing his peach hospital gown. It was so long and flowy on him that it just accentuated his vulnerability.

For those of you who have ever had to rush your child to the ER in the middle of the night, who have had your little one admitted in a crazy blur that takes you from thinking your baby is mildly ill to standing at death's door - you know what this is like, you can imagine what we were feeling.

That hospital stay was pivotal in many ways - some obvious, like being forced to acknowledge that you can lose your child in the blink of an eye; and realizing that when shit goes crazy, I am in fact capable of coping and moving forward and doing what has to be done with no whining and no drama.

There were other things that came of that hospital stay, though, that we didn't necessarily see coming. Namely, it was the thing that caused a rupture in my husband's relationship with his mother, a situation that is very complex and that we've tried to navigate as wisely as possible but that is fraught with pain and general suckiness.

Anyway, after that very emotional and stressful hospital stay, Max has had a couple more visits to the ER, but has never been admitted again.

Two nights ago, at about 1 a.m., I heard a familiar sound through the monitor. I knew, as I stirred in bed and Ben went to get Max, that it was croup. One unsuccessful breathing treatment later, we had a little boy who was clearly struggling to breathe - and off we rushed to the ER.

The good news: the ER was empty and we were seen immediately (o.k., fine Ben is also a nurse in that ER, but normally, while we just walk right in, we too have to wait 10 years before the doctor sees us). Not only did we see the doctor within 10 minutes, but the doctor that night was THE head of ER, a man with a long, distinguished career; meaning, I felt safe and I trusted him.

The bad news: Max did not really respond well to the medicine, and although we were discharged and back in bed by 4 a.m., he was soon having breathing problems again. We didn't sleep at all as we tried to first do a steam in the bathroom with him and then give him yet another breathing treatment (his fourth that night). He did get somewhat better, but by morning, it just seemed like the medicine wasn't really doing its thing. After some consultation with the ER physician, we went ahead and gave him some medicine he'd been prescribed but which we'd been advised not to give him unless he got sick again.

From there, he really began to improve. He spent a good chunk of last night coughing and sneezing, but at least he was breathing well.

Two sleepless nights later, I find myself thinking about the way everything is more frightening at night, how much more vulnerable we are in darkness, when we're shaken out of sleep and forced to react and act and move and do and rush. I suspect I have more nights like this ahead of me, and I suspect that they will never, ever get any easier to deal with.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/06/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Who Are The Other Parents At My Son’s Daycare?

For those of you who have kids in daycare (or, maybe this applies to those of you with kids in school, too), I’d like to know something: what’s your relationship like with the other parents?

The other parents in Max’s home daycare all seem like very nice people. But with the exception of one mom (a family friend who recommended the nanny in the first place), I don’t know any of their names.

The rest of this embarrassing and riveting story can be found at GNMParents. Please go check it out and share your thoughts with me.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/05/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bending and Bending Even As My Heart Breaks

I'm having one of those days where I feel like, September already? Where did the year go? We're barely into the month and I'm trying to brace myself for all that lies ahead in the next few weeks, mainly:

The fact that MY BOY IS GOING TO BE TWO YEARS OLD IN A WEEK. WTF?

I have had moments in the last few weeks, when Max repeats something I say to him or when I catch him doing something that shows his cognition is changing and growing, where I stop and think, kids under two can do that? I rely a lot on my experiences with my nieces and nephew to remind me of what developmental milestones I should be looking for or encouraging along, but since my memory pretty much sucks, I am constantly surprised when Max says or does something that, frankly, I just didn't think kids his age could say or do. I vacillate between marveling at him: My baby is a genius! to freaking out: Oh hell, he's mimicking my bad habits!

Either way, I can't handle the fact that HE IS GOING TO BE TWO YEARS OLD IN A WEEK. I can't. My pregnancy feels like it was just yesterday (even though I've pretty much blocked out the first 8 weeks of parenthood). He has become so much more his own little man this summer. It is a million little things, impossible to capture here in a catch-all post, but he is both a delight and a nightmare. He is charming and bright; and temperamental and mischievous.

He is also affectionate and joyful and free in a way that makes me ache; in a way that I envy; in a way that makes me worry and cry and fear for all the pain that lies ahead of him, for all the protection I can not guarantee him, for all the ways that life will push and pull and change him. The toddler who today is so trusting and blissfully unaware of the world at large has so much before him - many of it good, much of it sad. And I, for the most part, can do nothing about it.

I won't be able to prevent his heart from getting broken; or having to experience his friend hurting his feelings; or understanding the dangers the world holds; or from realizing that life, in so, so many ways, sucks.

Yes, I will be able to comfort and guide him; to offer him my arms and my heart and my soul as a source of love and understanding and acceptance and knowledge. I will be there to pick up the broken pieces and to listen and to offer all kinds of unsolicited advice. I will be there to make him go when he is scared to, and to smile when he leaves my side even as I die inside.

But I won't be able to stop or prevent a lot of things that I just wish I could. A lot of those things, I know, are part of growing up. But frankly, growing up is scary and harsh and awful in many ways; and looking at the pureness of his soul as it is right now, I want to spare him all of it.

I rejoice in all that Max is - in his presence in my life; in the totally temperamental, tantrum-throwing, charming ball of a boy that he is.

But I have to confess that motherhood, for me, is - at its deepest, most personal levels - completely heart-breaking. It is soul-crushing. It is devastating.

And yet - I would rather know and live with this endless ache than not at all. A million times over, I would choose this.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/04/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, September 03, 2007

W and his Minions Pussy Out to the Formula Lobby

I'm shocked, really. You mean to tell me W & co. actually allowed political considerations to interfere with public health campaigns? I'm shocked. Can you see the shock seeping through your monitor?

If you ever doubted the power of the formula lobby, doubt no more. Former surgeon general Richard Carmona has alleged, among other things, that his efforts to promote breast feeding were blocked, and the formula lobby pushed the government to tone-down some strong (but accurate) PSA's promoting the health benefits of breast feeding.

At the very least, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is looking into this, calling Carmona's allegations "credible". That good ol' boy W and his minions would give in to any lobby with enough money and influence to force their hand is no big surprise. The problem here in this case is that it's yet another example of how formula companies work magazines, doctors and now the federal government to push their agenda and purposely misinform the public.

The federal government still promotes breastfeeding as the optimal choice for babies. It's just such a shame that an effort on their part to really stress the many known health benefits of breastfeeding was thwarted by a powerful lobby that only care$ about their own bottom line.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/03/2007   | | | links to this post

RE: The Site Crashing for Some of You

A few of you have informed me that my site crashes your computer. First, I'm really sorry about that! I feel horrible knowing my site is causing some of you problems. I want to fix the problem, but I need your help.

On my end, the site loads just fine. Slow, sometimes, I think due to the large blogrolls at the bottom and/or LibraryThing, but fine. I'm on the latest version of Firefox; I mention this because there have been mentions of my site crashing IE, and if that's the case, I really don't know how to fix browser issues.

In order for me to get to the bottom of this, I need some additional information. If any of you could help me out, I will be very grateful and will - in said gratitude - send a certain two-year-old and his puppy over to your place for a few days of fun, fun, fun!

So, here's what I need from you: please post a comment or send me an email to tere (dot) the (dot) blogger (at) gmail (dot) com and let me know the following:

1. Is my site crashing your computer?

2. How often (every visit; every other)?

3. What browser are you on?

4. Before it crashes, do you notice anything in particular that might be helpful in solving this?

And if you're someone who knows about websites and browsers and crashing and errors and ARGH, I'm going to stab my eyes out, and you think you can help me out, please let me know!

Again, guys, I'm really sorry. Please be patient while I try to figure this out.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/03/2007   | | | links to this post

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Nap Time

Recharging

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Posted by Tere @ 9/02/2007   | | | links to this post