Friday, December 28, 2007

2007: The Year that Basically Sucked

A part of me hates year-in-review things. My favorite cable channels are going nuts with all kinds of retrospective, count-down, looking-back shows, as are all kinds of blogs, news programs, websites, etc. It gets annoying after a while. At the same time, I can see the personal benefit to looking back and assessing and gaining perspective and blah, blah, blah.

So yeah, my 2007 Look-Back Review (minus links because I'm lazy).

This is going to be short, because in essence, 2007 sucked for me. The year began hopefully enough on my end, but was quickly consumed by a problem (for lack of a better term) that clouded everything. I made a decision on good faith and very quickly learned that it was a mistake. Fixing this problem took almost the entire year, with a resolution presenting itself in November. So far? So good. Looks like things are back on track and I'm once again feeling hopeful.

The problem when you're mired in such an overwhelming situation, of course, is that it affects everything. As a result, 2007 was really frustrating on the motherhood front. As fun and wonderful as life with Max is, I have not been in the frame of mind to be as patient and creative as I know I should be. Add in the challenges of being a full-time working mom and life in general in a place like Miami, and well, I just fail. I've been doing a lot of work on a personal level to get back to my center and you know, get a grip. The resolution of my problem has opened a door for me, and I'm just trying to recoup from a year of suckitude.

It seems like that's it for me. Looking back, I only recall how unbelievably frustrated I've felt all year: at myself for making bad decisions; at the typical setbacks life brings; at my inability to really rise to the challenge of mothering a boy like mine (super-duper high energy, much too smart for everyone's own good). I can only hope that the steps I've taken in the last month or so are putting me back on the right path. I'm viewing every aspect of my life as ripe for improvement, from decluttering my home to dealing with my anxiety to taking care of my health.

Wow, I've been watching Lifetime TV all morning and it's obviously showing.

2008: A Look Ahead

One of the biggest things looming before me for 2008? Baby #2 and what to do about him/her. I don't foresee myself even seriously contemplating this until the latter part of the year, so you know, no need to freak out right now.

Also looming: excelling at work. I won't get into this topic here, since it's tied to the big sucky problem of 2007, but as part of my fresh start, I both need and want to kick some serious career ass and am very excited about what lies ahead for me in this department.

And since I'm knee-deep into organization mode, there are many home-related changes afoot. We're redoing our bedroom (more on that later, as it is chock-full of high drama and cheap Swedish furniture). We're also going to (finally) finish Max's bedroom and change our entertainment center (a vital part of the house because it houses a bunch of crap).

The changes have begun already. We have this habit of taking advantage of all the super sales that go on at this time of the year (big-ticket stuff like couches and computers), which explains why our perfectly good TV set is now sitting in the garage and I'm staring at this ostentatious flat panel thing that I agreed to get just to shut Ben up. Really, that's it. I didn't want to go another year discussing this, nor hearing about wonderful sale after wonderful sale, nor any of his scheming and dealing and plotting. It was a battle I was going to lose, and I just didn't want to hear it. Now he has his TV, and I better not hear a peep out of him regarding any kind of pricey, unnecessary gadget for the next three years.

So, for 2008, it looks like I have a lot of work ahead of me. No sweat.

I think we're off to a good start as it is: my true love has finally come to his senses, and any moment now, he'll be mine for good.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/28/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

This is How We Roll Bowl

It's currently 7:45 p.m. and Santa Claus has not officially passed by our house yet. Ben worked yesterday and is working today, and so we've put the gift-giving aside until tonight, when we'll have a chance to do it patiently when Max is less tired and cranky than he was last night after an evening of playing with his 50 cousins.

Max and I spent the morning at my parents' house with them and one of my sisters and her family. Other than that, Christmas Day has been a bust. Boring. Quiet and slow. Max took a long nap and by the time he woke up at 3, the relatives I'd planned on visiting were no longer home. Then, as I planned on taking him outside to ride his trike, it began to rain. Also, I had hoped to have some friends over this afternoon, but I nixed the plans at the last minute. I was, however, waiting for one friend who never showed and never called and he's now on my shit list. I hate that kind of rudeness and lack of manners. Just effing call and cancel, you know? Thanks to that alone, I lost my entire afternoon.I can't believe it's been such a wasted day. Really, it seems that because I failed to strategically plan my day, as I typically have to do, it pretty much crapped out on me. Lesson learned. (I know, I'm totally whining, I apologize. I'm cranky and annoyed and disappointed).

Meanwhile, Max and I have been playing with some of his new toys. His immediate favorites are the complete Mr. Potato Head Set he got (to go with the "Darth Tater" his Tia Mel got him) and his bowling set. In fact, we've spent a good while bowling together:






Last night's Noche Buena dinner was a success: lots of people, lots of food, lots of fun. The best part was watching Max's happiness and excitement at having so many cousins to play with (OMG, so cheesy, but true!). He just did not stop running, shrieking, laughing, jumping and playing for about 3 hours straight:





Unfortunately, he wasn't at all interested in sitting down to eat; but he was very interested in the pig itself:



I've got a while left before the day is done, so let me go make it as fun as possible for my child. Ben is home and it's time to celebrate Christmas.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/25/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Swedes Got Me and Other Musings

Well, it's over. I finally went to IKEA and the life I knew is no more.

What was my life before discovering this wondrous playland? How did I make it 30 years without them?

I am still absorbing the experience. I wouldn't know where to begin, what to say, how to express all that I feel inside.

I just know that I have much making up to do. Oh, sweet IKEA, I am now wholly yours.


I'm a Bigger Shoe Whore Than I Imagined

The Miami Herald just ran a short piece about shoes that included some statistics that, quite frankly, surprised me. Or rather, how I compared to these numbers surprised me. I don't know if I totally fail or pass with super-stellar colors.

A sampling:

• Percentage who have more than 30 pairs in their closets: 15 (I'm part of an elite group!)
• Percentage who have trouble finding room to store all their shoes: 33 (because my house is no match for my shoe passion)
• Pairs purchased per year: 4 (surely, they meant "purchased per month"?)
• Percentage who say shoe shopping has never given them financial problems: 97 (we're all a bunch of liars, then)
• Percentage who have hidden a shoe purchase from a significant other: 13 (it's not our fault, they just don't understand)
• Percentage who have regretted at least one purchase: 60 (isn't regret part of the fun?)


A Roll That Wasn’t There Before

Even though I'm doing well with my whole "I'm fat" thing (and by "doing well" I mean "haven't done a lick of anything but also haven't gained any weight"), I really, seriously, truly need to get into some kind of workout routine. I really, seriously, truly have no time for the gym, but still, I have to come up with something. Because my back? Is now fat.

I can't believe I just admitted that. But it is. I can't lie: there is a deep line under each shoulder blade that has effectively made wearing open-back shirts an impossibility. I made the mistake of standing with my back to the mirror and then looking back, and there they were, mocking me. It was so much better when I was ignorant of the matter; but now that I've seen it with my own two eyes, I'm appalled.

So, I must dig my dumbbells out from wherever the hell they've been hiding this last year and get with it.

If I can stick to it in the new year and make some real improvement, a few new pairs of shoes will be the perfect reward.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/20/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, December 17, 2007

For Not Even Existing, This Second Baby Sure Is Causing Me A Lot Of Angst

We've been getting asked a lot lately about baby #2. It seems that because Max is now two-and-some years old, we should naturally be getting busy on #2. And all around us, friends and relatives are joyously expecting their first-borns and others are planning to start that journey in the coming year. It's really no surprise that people wonder about us: we are young, doing well in life, and our son is growing older and more independent. So what are we waiting for?

But if people only knew how torn we really feel about this mythical #2 - I wonder if they would understand, or if they would tell us to just get over ourselves and on with the procreating that seems to the charge of every young couple. Ben and I discuss it (it is not yet real enough to be a him or her or anything but a concept) at least once a month, if not more. It is a topic that makes us fight and cry and feel a strange mix of hopeful and miserable.

The truth is that we're not sure we want a second child, but we do feel (or rather, I feel very, very strongly) that Max needs and should have a sibling. Coming from a large family, I just can't wrap my head around having just one child. I know Max would miss out on so much as an only child, and I worry that I would drive my one child crazy with my neurosis. No, no matter how I slice it, I love large families and want one myself.

But there's no way around how hard it's been for me to accept all the ways that having a child has changed my life. Two years into this motherhood thing, and I'm still at odds with so much of it. I don't even fully understand it - I just know that as much as I love my son, as much I enjoy being a mother and feel blessed and happy to have Max in my life, I am also resentful of the way motherhood has taken away my own personal time (and must go through a bunch of hoops to arrange some alone time) and of the way that even the simplest things are now a mission. I don't feel this way all the time, but I feel it often enough to feel like shit over it.

And this is something I really need to come to terms with, because a second child is only going to make it all worse. If right now I get frustrated with the way my days usually go, what will I do when that's doubled? I can't in good conscience get pregnant when I regularly feel like Sisyphus, forever trying to just get one thing done quickly and efficiently and failing miserably every time.

For someone who works so well under pressure and who tends to get most frustrated at things I perceive as unjust or wrong in some way, I feel very puzzled and upset by how uptight and negative I am about my life as a mother. For example, when I'm facing a weekend where Ben works, I can feel the dread rising in me as I wonder, what the hell am I going to do and how am I going to get it done? But in every other aspect of my life, I just get shit done. I act. I move. I don't second-guess or wallow.

And yet, Max is the single best thing in my life. For all that he does to contribute to these feelings (very little, since I think it's all mostly in my head), he is the best person I know, and there is no question that I love him like a fool and am completely devoted to his happiness and well-being. And when I think about adding another child to the mix, my prevailing feeling is one of happiness, like this love I feel for one will undoubtedly double, and that I would ultimately be happiest with another child (if not a third!).

I guess I just keep waiting for this to get easier, and it's not happening. There's just so much strategic planning of every single move I make that I can handle before I start feeling trapped and crazy. As it is, in those moments when I talk about this #2 as if he/she were a fact and not a question, it's always with the understanding that the next few years of my life are going to suck ("I will suffer now for the greater good of the life and family I want," I've told Ben a few times already) before this special kind of dread eases and I feel less suffocated and like any effort on my part to do normal things like groceries and dine out is totally pointless.

But really, who knows? Who knows if I will be able to get over this? If I won't always feel trapped and suffocated to the point that it overshadows everything? I wish I could just surrender to all this, and not just certain parts of it. Loving my child unconditionally and happily placing his needs first? Check. Accepting how convoluted simple tasks have become? No check. Patiently repeating the same thing over and over because he thinks it's some kind of game? Check. Patiently running my errands even as he's climbing out the cart and slapping me? No check. I'm trying to find my center and basically feel like a failure.

Meanwhile, there's baby #2: a baby I will love no matter what; a baby I know I'll be thrilled to discover I'm carrying; a baby that will undoubtedly be as much a blessing and joy as my cherished #1. But it remains an it, a baby for whom I'm going to have to do a lot of personal work before I can peacefully accept it into my realm of possibilities.

A baby that right now stands as much a chance of being as of not being.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/17/2007   | | | links to this post

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Learn Something New Thanks To Me

For my post at GNMParents this week, I thought it'd be fun to share how Christmas was celebrated during my parents' childhood in Cuba (Castro abolished the holiday when he seized power); and then how that was adapted here in exile.

Fun stuff, I promise! So go read it!

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Posted by Tere @ 12/13/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

This is Most Likely in Direct Contradiction of my Recent Angst

Nevertheless, the aforementioned Gus and Michelle from Miami Beach 411 invited me to write a piece on my most favorite TV show ever, ¿Que Pasa, U.S.A? and of course, I said yes.

It went up today, so go read and enjoy. Frankly, it's a fabulous piece of cultural analysis that sheds much light on the phenomena of bilingual entertainment and the ass-kicking nature of the Cuban.

Or something like that.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/11/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday, December 10, 2007

And Yet, I Managed to Party on a Sunday Night

So in the middle of all these changes and busy times I'm going through, I apparently found some time to party. And on a Sunday night, no less. Yes, I had school work the next day, but ppfffftt!

Priorities, people, priorities.

The wonderful, wonderful Gus and Michelle from Miami Beach 411 did a super awesome and generous thing and invited basically local bloggers to enjoy a holiday dinner together at Tuscan Steak.

How could I pass that up? Exactly. So I didn't.

I decided that everything else be damned, Mami was going to put on a cute top, heels, make-up, and mingle with the grown-ups. I can't stress enough how very big a deal it was for me to go out on a Sunday night. This was unheard-of even before I became a mom, because my brain just can't grasp the concept of being out late when work looms bright and early the next day.

But it was so worth it. I got to spend some time with folks I already know and love, and meet others whom I know of or whose work I read.

Seriously, for all of you who attended:

Ipanemic (it's official: we love each other.)
Sex and the Beach
Miami Rhapsody
All Purpose Dark
Stuck on the Palmetto
Dan Renzi
FANLESS! (who FINALLY spoke to me! as in, a real conversation full of words and thoughts and such!)
Discourse.net
BlenderLaw
Miami Condo Investments
Miami Vision Blogorama
South Beach Real Estate Blog
Burnett's Urban Etiquette
Miami Fever
Restaurant Gal

I was so happy to meet you and only regret not being able to chat with every one of you. Thankfully, I know our paths will cross again!

Gus and Michelle - thanks for such generosity and for kindly inviting me to join in the fun. You don't know how much I needed it!

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Posted by Tere @ 12/10/2007   | | | links to this post

Monday Morning Thoughts

*Sigh.*

I know.

I've been kinda MIA around here (and everywhere in the blogosphere). It's just a situation where real life obligations, the holidays (and related activities/stress) and a case of writer's block/personal introspection have all collided.

For a while now, I've been posting every (week) day because I wanted to and because my schedule permitted it. On the one hand, I wanted the challenge of writing on a daily basis; on the other, I wanted to see if I could even do it. But now, some life changes are effectively ending my daily posting schedule.

Honestly? I'm glad. Reflecting on the last year of my writing here, my overall feeling is that I wasn't very good at writing "good" or entertaining or funny or moving or thought-provoking things here. I'm o.k. with that, but the realization brought something else to the forefront for me: at some point, I slipped from writing and sharing for writing and sharing's sake to writing and sharing for the audience's sake. And - I hope you understand - that's just not what I want out of this blog of mine.

Other bloggers have written about this struggle with writing when you know you have an audience, and how that affects both what one writes and how they feel about their writing. And yes, I'm going through a mild form of that. I just don't want to be entertaining thoughts about how something I write will be received - if it will generate lots of comments or be linked to from somewhere else or, I don't know, make me sprout wings and fly - because really, I just want to write.

I know, I can't write in a vacuum, not on the Internet. But I want to get back to the core of why I decided to do this and what I hope to achieve by it. And while yes, having an audience is very important to me, as is that audience's feedback, it's not the core. At least, I don't want it to turn me into a fake blogger/writer/person who is motivated by factors outside herself.

Does that make sense?

Anyway, I've also been feeling overwhelmed with all my writing responsibilities. I maintain two other blogs and contribute to a few sites, and if I had no full-time job, I could totally write everywhere with little problems, but. But I work full time and come home to be a full-time mom and basically have no free time until at least 9 p.m. And by 9 p.m., I just want to pass the hell out. I sound like I'm making lame excuses here, but honestly, I just don't have the time. Not if I want to maintain my personal relationships and clean my house and wrap presents and fulfill my work obligations and pay attention to my son and take the dog out to poop and clear all the junk out for the big garage sale.

So I've been a scatter-brain, a flake, an absent Internet person. I know, and I'm sorry and I'm digging myself out as best as I can.

As the dust settles on some personal things I'm going through (nothing bad, just different), I'll have a clearer idea of what kind of writing schedule I can set up for myself. I'm hoping I can keep all my projects/gigs going, but there may be some casualties if I honestly believe I just won't be able to juggle it all.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/10/2007   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Holding Back, Pushing Away

It was so easy when he was an infant. Because I regarded him as pure and vulnerable, a creature so innocent and fragile that to not fully dive into my mother-love for him would be a crime. Purely and simply, an unforgivable crime.

I build walls. No matter what I say when I talk about myself to others, when I try to paint myself in a favorable light, the truth is that I build walls around myself to protect any and all emotions. Not to be melodramatic about it, but I learned early in life (learned hard and often) that those I trusted were sure to devastate me. I learned that to show any emotion that was too close to my heart was a sign of weakness that would eventually be used against me. With rare exception, this has been a solid truth in my life. Maybe it's not so much that to trust is to be devastated, but rather, that to show that trust, to make obvious my vulnerability, is to guarantee that I will be shattered.

As a child, I pitied myself for it and would dream of a different life: different parents, siblings and relatives, and later, different boyfriends. I relied so much on my books and my imagination because they were, emotionally speaking, the safest places I knew. When adolescence hit, I turned to writing (or the words just began to spill out) as my self-pity turned to anger. As an adult, I have simply accepted this as the way that I am: paranoid that private moments of trust will turn to public betrayals and that those who know my secrets will spill them for sport; but understanding, too, that I must rise above those fears and persist in trusting and not having to be on guard all the time - and trying, really trying. I am, generally speaking, on guard, tightly wound and always needing to be strong and in control to hide the fact that inside, I am a sensitive, vulnerable, sappy mess.

It is this thing about my life and the way it's played out, this thing about me that has played such a central role in making me what I am today that figured prominently in my decision to choose Ben as the man I'd spend my life with. Because no matter how hard it is for me to show my vulnerability, I know that with him I can and will not be shattered for it. That's not to say that it's easy for me or that it doesn't cause problems between us; just that he is like no one else and worth my efforts to trust and be vulnerable.

When I found out I was pregnant, one of my earliest questions was will I build a wall to block this baby out? Will I put my automatic guard up and shut him out before he can even get in? Because I knew that in becoming a mother, I would know the greatest devastation of all. But as my belly grew and my unknown child became my sole reason for being, I knew without doubt that there would be no walls. For once I would welcome another into my life and into my heart openly and completely. Not knowing how to do such a thing, I trusted (as I did so, so many things those life-altering 40 weeks) that it would all just be o.k. That it would come to me and I would recognize it and not shut it out.

Max was born, and although it took me a bit for it to hit me, I felt it: I did not want to shut him out. I didn't. I didn't want to protect myself; I didn't want any more walls. So I took what was for me a giant leap into an abyss of vulnerability and "weakness". And it's been so easy. He is so easy to let in. It's forever changed me, and I'd like to think it's made me a better, freer person.

Which is why I feel so worried and so close to that all-to-familiar devastated to find myself, in specific moments here and there, pushing my son away. That wall of mine, it's like with Max it now exists where before it didn't; and while it may not be made of brick like it is with others, it's made of some retractable material that can zip up and down depending on the situation and how much I need to protect myself. I am undoubtedly doing it. Something happens, and it's like I can physically feel my heart squeezing; I shut down and find myself wondering how to act and be so that I don't feel so hurt or rejected or misunderstood. It is the same as it ever was. Except that this is my son, and I can't do this. I can't let this happen. I can't give in to my darker, negative tendencies.

I don't know why this is happening or how to stop. It happens when I feel like Max is manipulating me, and I instantly feel guilty because I just don't know how true it is that a two-year-old can be manipulative; yet I feel manipulated. Or it happens when he displays his temper and is hurtful, and I know without doubt that a two-year-old can indeed be hurtful, even though it is not with the malice and intent an adult employs. It makes no sense to me, why this is happening so early on, or with a baby. My baby. I don't think I ever expected that I would be able to not hold back forever, but I figured that by the time he was less a pure innocent and more a fallible human just like us all, I'd be used to it and could keep it up without much struggle. Is it that my level of impatience and the way I easily become frustrated are too overwhelming and require more than mindful efforts and therapy?

I don't know. Right now I just feel so very aware of all this and so troubled by it.

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Posted by Tere @ 12/05/2007   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

FREE Things! Go Check It Out!

The great people over at GNMParents are celebrating their one-year anniversary by giving things away!

This is the "week of contests" - it's spelled out here - and you have many chances to win something.

So, go! Go, go, go!

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Posted by Tere @ 12/04/2007   | | | links to this post