Transitioning to nowhere

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Finally trying to finish Finding Your Own North Star because it’s due at the library, and I can’t renew it again and I know I should just buy my own copy, but as you know, I’m too cheap for that. So, after 2 days of on-an-off speed reading, I finally finished it. I think the biggest takeaway right now was the discussion of the change cycle, specifically the first step (or Square One), which is “death and rebirth.” There are three ways one can get to this spot: 1) shock, 2) opportunity and 3) self-imposed transition. Right now, I’m clearly in the #3 category, having self-imposed my unemployment and SAHM status. I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but I still feel like I’m floundering around with no firm plans; I’m second-guessing my decision; I’m tired of people not understanding how I feel.

Martha says that “transition events are even more likely to cause social disruption – and intense self-doubt – than opportunities. When you change your whole life because of inner yearning, frustration or excitement, there’s no external force or prize to help other people accept your behavior…. You’ll be more fraught with indecision than people who receive shocks or opportunities. The fear of failure will be tremendous. There may also be shame, as you let go of your old status, income, or position in exchange for nothing but inner peace…. Welcome to the middle of nowhere. Since you’ve lost your old identity but haven’t really embraced a new one, you’re temporarily a kind of nobody. As old relationships and behaviors change, you’ll have no one to cling to, and nothing to do. Nobody nowhere with no one and nothing. Doesn’t that sound fun!”

So, here I sit, nobody in nowhere-land. And it’s not fun. But, reading this passage did reinforce once again that I’M NOT CRAZY. Just transitioning.

This woman will self-destruct in 23 seconds

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I’ve always held a firm belief that I would make a terrible stay-at-home-mom. I haven’t the patience, creativity or energy for it. This has been confirmed now that I have spent two whole weeks as a SAHM. I now know why trapped animals chew their legs off.

I don’t know if it’s a function of my suddenly being home all day, but for some reason, my son wants me to be within a 2 feet radius of him at all times. It’s driving me crazy – I’m not his playmate, I’m his screaming, psychotic mother who can fly into a shrieking rage at any time. If I were him, I’d want to be at least 50 feet away at all times. I’m speculating that he’s performing some sort of behavioral experiment – observing me to see how long it takes for me to go over the edge. Right now, he’s actually watching TV while I’m writing this, and he seems OK with that. Maybe we’ve turned a corner, or maybe he’s just watching me out of the corner of his eye.

Let’s talk about that shrieking rage, shall we? I’m flying off the handle with random abandon. Some infractions deserve shrieking, like not flushing. COME ON PEOPLE, WERE YOU BORN IN A BARN? And “I forgot” is not an excuse. Are you telling me that zipping your fly is so all-consuming that you can’t remember to push the handle post-zip? Yes, it’s Miles that is the major violator. BC is smart enough to know that EXTRA LOUD SHRIEKING will occur should I discover a non-flush incident. I don’t even care about the seat up or down – that’s a battle not worth fighting, but flushing? Are you fucking kidding me? So while I’m on the subject, I’ll just rant a bit about public restrooms and how little flushing seems seems to occur. OK, I know a lot of toilets have the auto-flush feature, but IT ONLY WORKS ABOUT HALF THE TIME WHICH IS WHY THERE IS A BUTTON YOU CAN PUSH TO MAKE THE TOILET FLUSH. Are people so oblivious, or apathetic, or just stupid that they can’t flush a freaking toilet???

Phew, glad I got that out of my system.

Sponge anatomy

In the almost 4 days so far that I’ve been unemployed, I spent the first 2 mostly sleeping. It’s amazing what a few good naps can do to remedy many months of insomnia. Yesterday, I decided to take a break from sorting stuff for a garage sale (yes, I’m selling my personal belongings for money), and scheduled Rotor-Scam to clean the roots from hell out of the basement drain, and the toothpaste sludge out of the bathroom sink.

In the process of doing some testing (at no charge) to see why our water pressure is insanely low in a different bathroom sink, the guy must have dislodged some gunk which proceeded to stop the flow of water completely. This is after he said he would put new valves on the intake lines, and charge me $99 “only if the pressure increases.” Well, duh, of course it’s going to increase, moron, you think I was born yesterday? I give him the line about having to check with hubby – I don’t want this guy taking stuff apart and then $500 later I finally have an operational sink. As luck would have it, the testing boogered it up, and he ended up replacing the valves at no charge.

What is the point of this story? Well, for one, to assure you that I’m not sleeping 24/7. Second, and a more important corollary as you will see below, is that I discovered that Nickelodeon actually shows something other than SpongeBob and Penguins of Madagascar. Apparently, they run iCarly ALL DAY LONG, which we discovered during the 2 hours we spent watching the plumbers break the sink and fixing it again. I was actually irritated at one point when the plumber guy wanted me to inspect the sink, and I’m thinking, “dammit, I’m going to miss what happens on iCarly.” I come back and ask BC where Carly, Sam and Freddy got the trampoline, but he’s face down in a Nick-induced coma (or maybe it’s sugar coma from the box of gummy worms). Thanks, buddy, now I’ll never know.

Later, Miles comes home and says, I see you guys are being productive. Honestly, we weren’t even watching TV. We were watching Annoying Orange on YouTube. So you see, I have a lot on my plate – good thing work isn’t taking up my time. WAIT A MINUTE!!! I used to spend all day at work watching Annoying Orange, and getting paid for it. What have I done??? AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!

So, finally, I leave you with this scintillating conversation from yesterday – wow, it WAS a full day, wasn’t it?

A conversation with my 7-year-old son:

BC: Mom, I think I have two hearts.
ME (slightly distracted by making BBQ sauce): Why do you say that?
BC: Because I can feel my heart beating here (points to left side of chest), but my heart actually is here, in the middle (points to sternum).
ME: Your heart is actually located on the left side, not in the middle. You only have one heart, and it’s on the left.
BC: But on SpongeBob, when they showed his insides, his heart is in the middle.
ME: Well he’s a sponge, not a human.

OK, as soon as those words came out, I had one of those “Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m actually saying this out loud.” Did we really just have a conversation about a fictional sponge’s anatomy?

The conversation continues:
BC: If you saw somebody’s insides, that would be really gross.
ME: Yes it would.
BC: They would be a burger butt. [I’m not really sure whether it was burger butt, biscuit head or some other food/body part combo, or what that really had to do with anything.]
ME: Where did you hear that? Captain Underpants?
BC: Nope.
ME: SpongeBob?
BC: No, I’ll give you a hint – it’s on Nick.
ME: Madagascar?
BC: No, it begins with an i.
ME: iCarly.
BC: Yep.

Thanks, Nick. We love ya, man.

A life not in technicolor . . . yet

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I finally walked away from my job. And I feel… flat … and angry. I believed I’d walk out the door and everything would be in technicolor like it was for Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, but it’s not. In fact it’s quite the contrary. I feel more like I’m in Night of the Living Dead. The anger and resentment I’ve been carrying for so long is boiling inside of me. I’m trying not to play the victim, but it’s hard not to.

When I first entered Corporate America I thought I was smart and capable, and people would recognize that. That delusion didn’t last long, and I learned very quickly to suck it up, and get a thick skin. That’s why they call it work, I told myself. You should be lucky to have a job that pays so much for so little. Peers and family couldn’t see what the problem was. “Are you nuts? You’re getting paid to fill a cube. Who cares if your boss has the IQ of a toad and the only intellectual stimulation you get is deciding where to go for lunch? Get over yourself.” I would go along with this line of thinking for a while, but eventually a spark in my soul would try to burn its way out of the mind-numbing fog of Cubeville, and I would start to question what I was doing in this world that was obviously trying to kill me through boredom, oppression and mediocrity. And then the hands would reach out of the fog and pull me back in, and I’d start thinking it wasn’t so bad, and this cycle continued on for the better part of 20 years. Then, a miracle occurred. The company I was working for went into bankruptcy, and loads of people were riffed. I waited every day with giddy anticipation of being the next one tapped on the shoulder, handed a box and shown the door. Finally, I thought, I can get out of this hell-hole and blame it on the Company, because I can’t just walk away on my own – everyone would think I was crazy. Getting riffed would be the perfect solution. But as fate would have it, I survived.

More neurons died slow and painful deaths and I stared at my cube walls and dreamed of causing bodily harm to my boss. I would come out of my stupor long enough to pots around online, and one day, I ran across Pamela Slim’s book and blog, “Escape from Cubicle Nation.” I woke up. The book became my manifesto. It gave me permission to admit I was miserable, and that I wasn’t crazy for wanting to leave Corporate America even though I had an allegedly “good job.”

The part of the book that really hit home was the discussion of thawing out your soul. Slim basically says that some people were never meant to fit into corporate life, and they spend so much energy playing the game that they can no longer access their true emotions. Symptoms of this include:

Not being able to identify what makes them happy
A feeling of numbness and emptiness
A feeling of burning rage
A feeling of powerlessness and loss of self
A sense of loneliness and loss of direction

OOOHH, OOOHH, I wanted to yell when I read this part – this is me, this is me!!! And I’M NOT CRAZY!!! So by hook or by crook, I decided to escape. I just walked away.

But that’s as far as I’ve made it. Barely out the door, and the demons are clawing at the door of that chapter of my life I’m trying so desperately to close behind me. I feel totally, completely and utterly defeated by Corporate America. I finally cracked and they won. The waste of human capital continues unabated; intelligent, sensitive, caring, logical and yes, business-savvy, people are trampled upon by idiots, back-stabbers, and most of all, ass-kissers. Corporate America goes on its merry way, happy to be rid of one more thorn in its side who was smart enough to play the game but not dumb enough to drink the kool-aid.

That episode was a crier

My 6-going-on-7-year-old son was watching an episode of Bakugan on the computer yesterday (OK, I know I probably shouldn’t let him watch it, but he LOVES it, and I do try to limit it to one episode per day… mostly.) In case you don’t know what Bakugan are, they’re kind of like Pokemon on steroids. The show has no redeeming qualities and solely exists to get your kid hooked on it so you can spend lots of money on the toys that he just has to have because all the other kids have them and he would be a total dork if he didn’t have any. Note I did not provide a link; if you want to know about it that badly you can Google it.)

Anyway, I’m upstairs and I hear him start wailing, so I rush downstairs thinking he’s cut off his arm or poked his eye out or caught the cat on fire, but he’s just sitting at the computer sobbing his eyes out. He looks at me and says, “that episode was a crier.” OMG, he’s crying at some silly show with cheesy cartoon (i.e. not real) characters?? Are you kidding me? Of course, I hug him and rock him and kiss him and tell him it’s OK, and not to cry and it’s OK, etc., etc. Then he says, “I’ll just be in my room awhile.” I say OK, and am completely confounded by the whole exchange. A bit later I check on him, and he’s fine, and I ask what happened on the show that upset him so, and he says he doesn’t want to talk about it. I try a few more times throughout the day, but never did find out who died or got blown up or lost a battle or god knows what. But I am slightly disturbed, like I’ve done some completely awful piece of parenting and I’m not sure why. Did I react properly? What should I have said? Should I be concerned that he was crying over a cartoon? Do I not let him watch the show anymore? How do I justify that – that’s like saying you can’t watch anything that makes you cry. Maybe he’s just going to be an easy crier?

Interestingly, a few days prior to this incident, he was randomly going through the books on his book shelf looking for something we could read together. As I watched in horror, he pulled “Love You Forever” off the shelf. For those of you not familiar with this little gem, there is much controversy over the appropriateness of the book, with one camp claiming it is just a lovely story about a very strong mother/son relationship. The opposing view is that the mother has serious psychological issues around attachment and letting go, and well, it’s just plain creepy. Madeleine Brand did a really great podcast about this and other popular children’s books that sums it up nicely.

I bit back the urge to scream, “NO ANYTHING BUT THAT!” and silently observed as he flipped through the pages – all of them. He turned to me and says, “This one’s a crier mom, so I’m going to put it under my bed so no one reads it.” Again, the wave of “whoa what was that all about” comes crashing down, and I’m speechless. On one hand, I want to say, “Awesome! Let’s throw it in the garbage because I never want to read that stupid book again.” On the other, I think “How does he know that, because I know I’ve never read that book to him.” NB: My mom gave it to us when he was a baby, and I stuffed it on the shelf and promptly forgot about it. And then, “OMG, he needs therapy.” So I say nothing. And we read a Sesame Street book about Grover. And he laughs.

Oh crap and a recipe for BBQ sauce

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Oh crap, I just realized like 3 more people actually looked at this blog, so now I have to write something. Oh god help me.

OK, here goes. I blew off a meeting today. That’s right, just totally did not go. Actually it was a conference call, and I DIDN’T CALL IN. Can you believe I would do something this brash and irresponsible? Of course I would, sillies. Because I had way more important things to do, like finishing my jigsaw puzzle (pictured below – sorry for the glare, just couldn’t get a good angle), signing my son up for swim class at the Y, yakking with my MIL, and figuring out what to make for dinner, and then going on the hunting gathering mission to make said dinner.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am just totally uninspired about cooking. I mean, I really like to cook, but sometimes the ideas just don’t flow, like with this whole blog thing. Anyway, DH (I guess I should give him a name…. how about Miles? ) Miles told me that our local grocery had chicken leg quarters on sale for 59 cents a pound, and I’m like OK I’m there. We like legs! So I decide to make said chicken legs and go to the store and see that one must purchase a 10 pound bag. So, for the second time today, I threw caution to the wind AND BOUGHT A TEN POUND BAG OF CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS. No, I did not make all 10 pounds. Three on the grill and the rest in the freezer – I figure we can get at least 4 meals out of it – oh, and did I mention I’m cheap? So, BBQ it is. I make my own sauce – here’s the recipe which I got off of cooks.com at some point. We love it!

1/4 c. water
1/4 c. vinegar
2 T. oil
1/2 c. ketchup
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. dry mustard
1/2 t. pepper

Combine all ingredients and simmer 10 minutes.

Oh, and here are the promised pics of the puzzle.

Luke Skywalker and the garbage disposal

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I just had to share this post from Amalah.com, not for the part about the business trip, but for the photo below the fold. It reminds me of the time we lost Luke Skywalker’s head in the garbage disposal…

I was washing Luke because he had some sort of gross, sticky, day-old gunk on his head, and as I was giving him a good scrubbing, his head popped off, and I couldn’t find it anywhere, and my son was distraught, and OMG WHAT ARE WE DOING TO DO, and husband says why did you lose his head, like I did it on purpose, and it was just a complete fucking disaster, which we promptly forgot about 4.5 seconds later.

A few days after this horrific incident, I turned on the garbage disposal, and it made this GOD AWFUL noise, and literally ground to a stop. I’m thinking, oh great, now I’ve got to call the plumber, and how much is that going to cost, and so I search the internet like a fool getting all kinds of advice on how to unstick a garbage disposal, one technique apparently requiring a broomstick and a flame-thrower. So, just as I am about to capitulate to the agony of defeat and send several hundred dollars down the non-working drain, I finally have this most amazing thought – why don’t I take that rubber thingy that covers the drain out, so I can actually see into the disposal. WOW, I fucking amaze myself sometimes!

I don’t know if you’ve ever removed that rubber thingy, but OMG it is disgusting! I about hurl at the sight of this brown slime on the underside of that thing, but soldier on. I stick my hand down there (no, I don’t think we turned off the power, that would have been too logical) and try to move the blades without slicing off my fingers. They give a little, and then POP, out flies Luke’s head, which looks like, and smells like, it had been chewed on by a wampa. Husband, always helpful, says “way to go,” and not like “way to save us $100 for not having to call the plumber,” but like “way to go you fractured Luke’s skull.” Not being as creative as Amy with her juice straw light sabers, I retired Luke to the rest home for unrepairable toys. We did salvage his light saber though.

The chicken nazi

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We went to an out-of-town wedding over the weekend. Actually, it wasn’t so much out-of-town, as out-in-the-country. Some excerpts from our trip:

Me: “Watch out for the Amish buggy!”
Husband: “My god, could these people drive any slower?”
Me: “My god, look at the traffic.” We pass two cars going in the opposite direction.
Me: “Watch out there’s a cop.” 45 seconds later: “Watch out there’s a cop.”
Husband: “Does this church have a bathroom?” Me: “No, protestant churches don’t have bathrooms.” (I guess some Catholic churches really DON’T have bathrooms.)
Husband: “I like these padded pews.”
Son, about a minute after we arrive at the reception hall, and about every 3 minutes thereafter: “Can we leave now?”
Aunt saying goodbye: “Sorry we can’t stay – we have to go pick up a horse.”
Observations regarding my son’s meal of exactly two bites of chicken, and five slivers of raw carrot salvaged from my salad: “Oh, is he a picky eater?”
Reception hall worker to guest who asked if he could have two pieces of chicken, “No.”

Actually, it was a very nice wedding, with a beautiful bride and a fine time had by all. Newlyweds are off to Niagara Falls for a frolic in the mist.

We must cultivate our garden

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A colleague and I were commiserating on the sorry state of our imprisonment, and I mentioned that I had started this blog as a way to distract myself and keep my mind from rotting. Being much more industrious than I, he decided to take Candide’s advice literally, and plant a garden.

I’ve always loved that line, “we must [or let us] cultivate our garden.” I think the version I read many moons ago actually said, “let us tend our garden,” at least that’s how I remember it. Regardless of all the academic puffery that has been written about this quote, for me, it means that we need to get our own lives in order before we can help others, and to a certain extent, mind our own business. I become extremely irritated when I hear people complaining and vilifying and just generally being mean and curmudgeonly about either a) something or someone they have absolutely no control over so why do they even spend the energy worrying about it, or b) something they do have control over, but would rather sit around complaining about it than taking any action to improve the situation, because oh god, that’s just way too much effort.

Another quote I’ve always liked, since we’re on the subject, is “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” (That’s from the bible, believe it or not. I guess some information must have inadvertently lodged in my brain during all those torturous hours spent in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Sunday Night Youth Bible Study, Wednesday Night Family Bible Study and Church Camp). Anyway, when I went through my divorce, it became very clear to me that everyone had opinions about my life (not sure why I was so shocked by this), and I’m certain everyone else’s lives within a twenty-mile radius. And I kept thinking that they had no idea what went on in my life or anyone else within a twenty-mile radius, so who were they to judge? I suppose that’s part of the reason I get so honked off by self-righteousness; at the end of the day, who cares? It’s not your life, and you don’t get to vote on it.

Am I tending my own garden? Or am I more like the curmudgeon who complains and yet does nothing? Or am I being too judgy? I must admit that some people in my life rub me the wrong way, and I have a hard time remembering that they too, have their own lives, and I have no idea what goes on there.

OK, I know this post isn’t earth shattering, but sometimes we just need a reminder. So I put this out there to the universe… help me not to vote on other people’s lives and just tend my own garden. It makes life so much simpler.

BTW… these are my neighbor’s peonies a few weeks ago before they lost their petals, or were deflowered, so-to-speak.