Monday, September 27, 2010

All the Things that are Killing Me

Oh man. If I could explain how exhausted I feel - and how ridiculously paralyzed that exhaustion makes me feel - I think I'd feel a whole lot better. But that's the problem: I can't even articulate what I'm feeling.

I've spent weeks rushing through life. Work is killing me, simply because there's so much going on that I'm caught in an endless swirl of tasks and projects and things I have to be aware of and remember. The thing with this job is that I love it, I really do. But the other thing is that I'm a boss now (of, like, an entire department), and while it's awesome, it's also a level of responsibility that carries a lot of stress. This is especially true because I'm someone who takes work and responsibility and my obligations to my employer very seriously, so failure is not an option. I'm not very forgiving of mistakes, either (my own). So, I'm sure I make regular stress that much worse. There's also the fact that I'm still newish and still on a learning curve, which I'm constantly trying to overtake. That's a big factor here. Once I've completed a year and I get the full cycle, I think I'll be able to ease up a bit. I hope.

But then, school is killing me as well. While I love the subjects I'm studying, they, like everything else, require time and attention and focus, and I'm generally short on all three. None of the work I have to do is technically difficult or unrealistic -- yet I manage to overwhelm myself anyway. A lot of it is still feeling like a newbie college kid, because a lot's changed since I got my bachelor degree a thousand years ago. This is just not my world, and I didn't even like it much when it was my world, so I feel like an outsider. That doesn't help. I'm not immersed in this stuff, because the truth is, my boy, my personal life, and my work are all more important to me. I keep telling myself that I'm doing the right thing, that this stress will be worth it in a couple of years, but meanwhile, it's just another thing that's killing me.

And finally, there's my personal life. That's killing me about as much as anything else. I can't even properly explain this, as nothing is actually "wrong." Even so, these last couple of months have felt important in a not-very-clear way (and yeah, that lack of clarity doesn't help). I've sensed some things crystallizing in me, and while it feels really, really good to know exactly where I stand on some important things, that somehow carries its own uncertainties. At the same time, I've been realizing how some things are really, truly fluid, and I am not able - nor would it be right of me - to act on any of it. This is a hard lesson for me; once I analyze something to death, I am almost always compelled to act. And in the past, acting - in haste, out of pressure, because I just feel like awareness compels action - has proven fatal. To stand back and let things unfold -- this is a difficult lesson for me. I've also realized that a lot about my personal life is not - not right now, anyway - in my hands, and letting go in this way, this feeling like I don't have all the control in my own life -- it basically kills me. Of course, I get that when the time comes to act, when everything's as unfolded as it's going to get, I may be up against some big, serious shit. And yeah, a lot of my stress is because of that. Life right now is not on a clear path.

Crap bunches up like this sometimes, and the stress is nearly unbearable. Ay. I need some light in this tunnel right about now.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/27/2010   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Come Sail Away

I just got back from a cruise. Jevo and I decided to celebrate our first year together by getting away for a few days. O.k., we actually had like, three, different celebrations, but so what? It's year one! Let us be cheesy about it!

The thing about cruises is that relaxation is basically forced upon you, which I have mixed feelings about. This particular cruise, unlike the one I took in January, did not offer a lot of activities. Ultimately, this bored the life out of me. I appreciated being trapped on a giant ship where I had no choice but to chill out and read, but at the same time... I'm just not used to chilling out for days on end. It creeps me out, actually.

Even so, I remain a huge fan of cruises and am already dying to try another one. I think the trick for a restless person like me is that there has to be a variety of activities, because I need that option. I may still go with chilling and reading, but I need to be able to make that choice because I wasn't up for a trivia game, or bingo, or a show. When I'm chilling and reading for days on end, and it's because I basically have no choice, argh. It unsettles me.

The other thing that unsettles me? All the damn portraits. I'm unsettled by them, period, but I'm also unsettled by my own desire to take them.

First of all, I just can't do all the various backgrounds with all the dorky poses. I'm sorry, I just can't. It's just not me. But a few of them, as a memento of the vacation? Hell yeah, I'm all over it. So while I'm mystified by the couple that's thrown themselves on the floor in a fake-casual pose, pretending they're lounging on a sandy beach, there I am, standing in line in my formal dress to pose under a full-moon, starry sky.

The real thing with these portraits, though, is that they're a total scam. I mean, $20 for ONE print? And you can only get an 8x10? What? The $20 is a total rip-off, and the size is impractical. Moreover, why are they still offering prints, and only prints? Seriously, in this day and age, digital images are not an option? I bet it's cheaper for them, and at the same time, I bet they can charge a little more for CDs and they'd still sell.

So... yeah. We did a few of the portraits and bought a couple, the ones where we looked too adorable to pass up.

That was a first for me, seeing some value in having a couple of nice pictures of us around and therefore doing the posing and the buying of the overpriced prints. Other firsts? Visiting Mexico for the first time and snorkeling for the first time. I really wanted to visit the ruins at Tulum, but it would've made for a very long day, and I wasn't up for spending the majority of the time in a bus. The snorkeling was great, though. Loved it, can't wait to do it again.

There'll be a chance for that, I'm sure.


Ahoy.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/22/2010   | | | links to this post

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stop (Five)

This has to stop, Five. You’re here and you’ve given me a boy so delightful and maddening that I can’t bear the thought of his growing older. So, stop. Stop, like Auden wrote, all the clocks. Freeze time.

Freeze these moments when my boy wraps those skinny arms around me and smacks a hard kiss on my cheek; when he contorts his face and flails his arms as he describes something; when he yells at me that I'm a mean mommy and stomps off, slamming his bedroom door; when that smile that I live for lights up his face, and a hearty cackle quickly follows it; when it's the middle of the night and he creeps into my bed, his tiny body pressing into mine and his sighs whispering in my ear; when he's focused on his trains, his coloring, on destroying the living room; when he sees me after a few days with his dad and is so rapturously happy that all he can do is sigh, "I'm so happy to see my best girl"; when he bats a ball with furious accuracy and speed; when he hunches over a book, trying to spell the words out; when I say "no" and he bursts into babyish, ridiculous tantrums, acting all melodramatic until he realizes I'm not falling for any of it and is instantly fine; when he sings and dances; when he's batshit crazy, running around like he's possessed; when we happen to look at each other and I look into those eyes, so full of curiosity and sweetness and spark.

This boy at five is so much fun, so smart, so tricky. Being his mom is never, ever, dull. He is as exhausting as ever, and as sweet. I see his world expanding, his brain soaking everything up, and I get excited at all the possibilities and discoveries before him. I am joyous in his joy and I ache for the challenges life will bring him.

I think about the way he has transformed me, how it is that I am everything I didn't know I could be because it's what he needs of me. My Five is everything that makes my life right, and everything that fills me with sadness. He teaches me every day, and at times I wonder if I am indeed, and if I can continue to be, the kind of mother he needs, who will help him navigate life with a strong heart, confidence, intelligence and compassion, and if he understands deep in his bones that my love will always be with him.

I am in awe of my boy, amazed at how he's growing and growing and growing. Time is passing by too swiftly for me; days blur into weeks into months into seasons.

And so, for just one moment, Five, stop. Let me just hold him and breathe him and freeze this moment when my boy is in my arms, his head nestled against my heart. Before he takes off running again, before life continues to flash by. Stop and let me hold him.

Happy Birthday, Max.



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Posted by Tere @ 9/11/2010   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Everybody Sees You're Blown Apart

I had always figured it was a pretty obvious fact that this blog – no matter how personal and open I am in it – never paints a complete picture of anything I write about, of the situation at hand. I mean, that’s simply impossible. And with that, I’ve assumed that no one would ever read anything here and walk away feeling like they have all the information/details about what I've written about, or like they know exactly what my feelings are.

All along, I’ve treated this like such an obvious given, that it never occurred to me to even address it. But recent conversations I’ve had about my blog, and the subsequent thinking I’ve been doing about it, compels me to state this, no matter how obvious it might in fact be: everything I’ve shared here is utterly incomplete. There is absolutely no way to read anything here and draw an absolute conclusion. And if you have, chances are high that your conclusions are not correct. This, I’m afraid, is the unintentional trap of every personal blog, the conundrum every autobiographical blogger finds him/herself in: we share as honestly and openly as we can, and readers feel a connection, like they *really* know us and our lives... and yet, it's not true. This is ultimately such a limiting space, and our immediate moods many times affect what we say and how we say it. And I personally feel such relief most times after writing about something that I pretty quickly don't feel what I wrote as intensely as it came out. Even with the best of intentions to share and share honestly and all that good stuff... in the end it's always felt like a futile endeavor on my part.

Snapshots. These posts are merely snapshots. And snapshots never offer a complete picture. And once the snapshot is up and it's been viewed and digested, everyone moves on. Even the writer. Not that what I share is not real or that my feelings just leave me - just that the act of writing itself loosens the grip the tough feelings have on me, and the thought process behind the writing offers a better perspective. While some feelings are so deep that they don’t really change, a lot of the intensity with which I write does. It ebbs and flows, and sometimes it settles somewhere more manageable.

And in moving on from certain themes, the question becomes, how do you go back? How do you (should you) revisit things and try to offer some more insight because finally, finally you're able to?

I'm thinking specifically of the difficult posts I wrote after my marriage ended. I felt even as I wrote and wrote all those (seemingly endless) months about my feelings that I was doing nothing more than searching for healing and catharsis. I never thought about hurting my ex with my words, or about making him look bad - nothing along those lines. Frankly, it wasn't about him; it was about ME. I was too wrapped up in my feelings and my mess, too focused on just making it from one day to the next, to be that strategic about things. I remember feeling like if I didn't get those terrible feelings out, they would kill me. And there were some things that I need to see in writing - I needed to see them in all their painful, ugly truthfulness - so that I could accept it. I tried to keep him as out of it as possible even though I understood that wasn't entirely possible; so I tried to focus on my feelings and myself and not on him.

And yet, even with that, whatever my intentions were or were not, the truth is, my words did hurt him, and I did make him look bad. That's an unfortunate circumstance in all this, but honestly not what I was aiming for.

I think about that now - now, that it is, frankly, easier to - and I feel a mix of emotions. That time was overall such a f**ked-up time, and I regularly struggled with finding the fairest way to write my pain out without being an angry bitch about it. But why, he's asked me, write about it at all? And while it's a fair question, I'm afraid that my answer - because there was no other way to survive it - is not exactly a satisfying one.

This is the closest I can come to explaining it:

And she said losing love
Is like a window in your heart
Everybody sees you're blown apart

(Paul Simon, Graceland)

That's it, really. I was blown apart, utterly blown apart. It was such a giant, immense thing. And it seemed like everyone could see it, like there was nothing I could do - no words I could say, no smile or expression I could plaster on my face, no place I could go - to deny this or hide from it. It felt like I oozed my blown apart-ness. And so, feeling so terribly exposed, it was like a subconscious part of me - apart from needing to write to heal - said, "F this, if I'm out, I may as well be all out." When you hang your broken self out for all to see, there's a strange comfort, a power, even, in that. You can't break someone like that any more than she already is.

It sucks that in what was a necessary process I hurt someone else, someone I have such a complex relationship with. I was so angry and hurt, but I wasn't thinking then, and never thought at any point, about vengeance or lashing out. And I can't think now about going back and rehashing any of that. But I think about this, and I wonder if there could have been any way to go through the process without hurting him. The truth is, I don't know.

I was simply blown apart.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/07/2010   | | | links to this post

Friday, September 03, 2010

One More (Anthem)

There is one more. One that right now - for the last two years, actually - pretty much defines me.

This song has been like a slow burn for me. I liked it for months before really learning the lyrics and seeing in them a connection to my feelings about my life and myself. Then there was the way the music itself caused some kind of physical reaction in me, making my heart beat faster and causing this flutter in my stomach. For whatever reason, everything about this song came together in a perfect way. Soon enough, I would find myself thinking, wow, this really describes my feelings these last couple of years. And lately, over the last couple of months, it's finally just dug in and become an anthem. And that's that.

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Posted by Tere @ 9/03/2010   | | | links to this post