Thursday, March 27, 2008

Part 3: The City That Never Sleeps

Today we took the bus up to NYC. Tom is getting Randy and Aunt Jennie's cold and the weather was a little damp and cold, but other than that, it was another pretty darn nice day.

We started off by heading to a taping of the Today Show. Liv was very excited about this! It was a little bit crowded, but I thought we were pretty well positioned. I was not taking into account Liv's height. She couldn't see a thing. When "the talent" came out, and the crowd got excited, she could see even less. She was crying real tears and I felt so bad! There's no crying on vacation! I must say here, that while saying I'm not exactly Ann Curry's biggest fan is sort of an understatement, the woman is so beautiful she almost seems unreal. She is also extremely personable, staying out long after everyone else has gone in, greeting fans and posing for pictures. So she is beautiful and gracious. Now if she could only learn to conduct a decent interview or deliver the news in a manner that doesn't want me to poke my eyes out with a spork... It's a little harder to hate on her now that her grace has been witnessed close up.

We left there and headed to Central Park. We took a carriage ride and let the kids play in the park for a while. They loved it.

Next stop: FAO Schwartz. We walked in the door and Olivia's chin dropped to the floor. The heavens opened, the angels sang, and Olivia fell to her knees in overwhelming gratitude. Well, she didn't REALLY fall to her knees, but, you know. She had never even imagined that such a place could exist. These bigger than life plush animals met us at the door, and my little Harry Potter freaks were beside themselves.

Liv also wanted to go to American Girl Place, so after a yoooooge lunch (hot corned beef, cold slaw and a big dill pickle, natch) we headed there next. She gets so overwhelmed when there are so many choices to make, but she finally settled on a wheelchair and the "get better" kit.

Lea and I dragged everyone else along on the requisite pilgrimage to the Swatch store. Lea got a very punk rock plaid watch and I got this one, which, to my happy surprise, will result in me having another watch sent to me. Woo hoo! Something for nothing!!! (yeah right!)

A little more shopping and a piece of cheesecake (YUM!!!) later, we were all ready to head home. Tom succumbed to his cold on the way home (he fought it valiantly all day) and I think we were all ready to go back to Aunt Jennie's and relax.

Vacation rocks.

I sure hope the girls and I don't get this cold - it seems particularly wicked. Tom will have all day tomorrow to lay around and recover - I only hope it's enough.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Part 2: The City of Brotherly Love

We spent the second day of our Spring Break in my beloved Philadelphia. I was happy just driving into the city. Sure, we hit more traffic than we would've liked, and finding convenient parking was a bit tricky, but it didn't matter to me - I felt like I was home.

Philly has a Hard Rock Cafe now, so we had lunch there. Then I wanted to walk to South Street - which should have been very easy, but we made it a lot harder than it had to be. We went WAY out of our way, but that was ok, because we got quite the walking tour of all the ethnic neighborhoods in South Philly. When we finally arrived at South Street, I'll admit I was a little disappointed. It was probably a combination of things. First, they were doing a lot of work on the street itself - so instead of the happy buzz of all sorts of people that I associate with South Street, the prevalent sound was of jackhammers and other heavy equipment. Second, I suppose I've never really been there on a weekday afternoon before - I've always gone at night or on the weekend. I suppose that affected the "flavor" as well. Lea and I did manage to do a LITTLE shopping, though. But I'm afraid it didn't live up to the hype I'd given her.

By this time we were all pretty tired and we still hadn't done anything of "historical significance". We get there so rarely, so I really wanted the girls to see some of the more historical aspects of my favorite city in the world. We decided to take a horse and buggy ride through the historical district. Our driver was really knowledgeable and I think we all learned a thing or two. Olivia just liked being in such close proximity to a horse, and Lea really loved taking pictures. As I neglected to bring along what I need to post pictures, I figure I'll just post a little album after we get home.

This would've been the perfect end to a very happy day for me, but then I got an unexpected bonus. We had a hard time finding our way out of the city (I could always get in, but I always had trouble getting out. Maybe the city loves me as much as I love it and it just doesn't want to let me go...) We ended up heading north on Broad St., which, by happy coincidence, is where my alma mater (M.Ed. '92), Temple University, is located. We stopped and poked around the bookstore a little bit and I was able to buy a sweatshirt. This made me unreasonably happy and nostalgic.

I felt like today was all about me. I started to feel a little guilty about that, then decided it's ok to have days like that from time to time. Tomorrow Tom and/or the girls can decide where we go and what we do. As for me? If I were a cat, I'd be purring.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And Now for Something Completely Different - Part 1

I am on spring Break, I am completely relaxed, I am not feeling remotely whiny.

For the first year since I've been teaching, my Spring Break coincides with that of my girls', so we've chosen to travel. We went to my moms for Easter, then headed out east to spend the rest of the week with (my favorite aunt) Aunt Jennie and her family. Aunt Jennie has a calming influence on me, anyway, so we were off to a good start. She's one of those people who truly loves unconditionally. Whatever I'm doing has always been good enough - she never pushed - yet she always encouraged. When I was in grad school, I spent many weekends studying in her dining room. She was so proud of me when I graduated. So were my parents. The difference is that she would have been equally proud of me if I hadn't. She always just loved me for me. Nice to have someone like that in your life.

Yesterday my cousin, Randy, hooked us up with a tour of the Martin Guitar Factory. It was really cool! Best of all, LEA loved it! She loves so little these days, so it was nice to see her get excited about something. It's neat to see a product made so close to completely by hand - this is the only factory that makes these particular guitars, and it goes a long way towards explaining why they're a little pricier than their competitors. Pictures were taken and will be posted when we get home.

We ended the day with cheesesteaks and a couple Yeungling lagers in our bellies. Ahhhhh. Life is good.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Half-Assed Life of a Full-Assed Chick

I am trying to do too many things and I am not doing a very good job with any of them. Each area suffers for the others, yet there is nothing I actually can (will?) give up at this point.

School. I can't give it up because the money is decent and, perhaps more importantly, I still do wrap a little of my identity up in it. Before I went back to work I found that being a full-time mom sent me into a pretty major identity crisis. I had nothing to contribute to most conversations beyond "the girls did the cutest thing today....." If you ever need to clear a room, I'd suggest that as your opener. Going back to teaching made me feel relevant again. This may or may not be justified, but I felt it nonetheless. I guess I feel like I'm not giving it my full attention because, well, it's part-time, it's tentative, and lately I really wonder if I'm any good at it anymore. I used to be confident that I was, but now I'm not so sure. This is probably currently exacerbated by the fact that it's finals week and my students are driving me crazy with issues that should have been resolved months ago. It's very hard to care when it's clear so many of them don't.

The Pizza Shop. Who takes up waiting tables for the first time at 45? That's hard work for this old back, feet and legs! The volatile nature of food service in general and this shop in particular is not good for my gentle soul. Also, I just don't think I'm that good at it. When pressed as to why I don't think so, I can't really come up with anything, but you know when you're doing a job well, and I just don't get that feeling with any kind of consistency with this job. I suppose those are the downsides. Why don't I leave? Well, first of all, I genuinely like the folks I work with - beautifully flawed as they are. If I left I would miss them. I would also feel like I was letting them down in some way. Secondly, it's just darn nice to go home a couple times a week with cash in my pocket. It's really allowed me to make some lifestyle changes which I enjoy. It's nice to be able to go out now and then for a couple beers or cocktails. I missed that, and it would be gone without this job.

The House. There was a time when I thought I wanted to be June Cleaver. Just wanted to make a nice home for Ward and the boys (or, Tom and the girls, as it worked out). Turns out I really wanted to be Carol Brady. I wanted to not have a job, but have a full-time live-in housekeeper. Cook if I felt like it, work on my embroidery, do a little volunteer work maybe... See, the thing is, I am a TERRIBLE housekeeper. I hate almost every aspect of it, particularly the temporary nature of it all. Everything I do needs to be done again in an hour, a day, a week, a month (depending on the job) - nothing stays done and I HATE that. It just feels like such a frustrating waste of time. Time I could be spending doing something I LIKE doing. And, selfish hedonist that I am, that's what I often opt for. Because of this, the house almost ALWAYS looks bad and it's just not fun place to be. I know I should attend to it more, but it's just not a priority. Alice? I need you!!!

The Family. Listed last, although they truly are my first priority. Maybe that's why I put off acknowledging the half-assed job I do with them until everything else had been discussed. I love all 3 of them beyond all reason. I'm not sure even one of them knows it. I feel like I let them down constantly by giving time and energy to other areas that shouldn't matter at all in the grand scheme of things.

Maybe next time I'll outline my failings as a sister, daughter and friend... but for now there are papers to score and dishes to do and laundry to wash.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Maid, Mother, Crone

The three stages of womanhood - the three bloodrites- how difficult it is to pass from one to the next! I have been in the transitory phase between the second and the third for six or seven years now. They (the ever elusive "they") tell me when I finally make the transition, everything will be fine again - better than ever, actually (they say). But getting there is taking way too long, and it's way too hard. And what's my reward? The title of CRONE for Pete's sake?!?

I have attempted to make this transition naturally - without drugs - but finally - a couple months ago - I broke down and requested a prescription for some low dose hormones. My doc fully supported this decision. I didn't want to do it, but I'd gone 8 months without getting more than 2 consecutive hours of sleep. Some days I could barely remember my name. I thought once the hormones were in my system the return to a reasonable sleep schedule would be instant. Silly crone. Sleep is for maids! It's been almost 2 months now and I'm sleeping about 5 hours a night. Once I wake up I have a difficult time going back to sleep - often I don't. It's still better than the every 2 hours sleep/wake cycle, but it's not nearly as good as I'd hoped for.

For some reason, I've been vividly remembering my 23rd birthday recently. A fresh young maid (tongue more firmly in cheek with each word), I went out to celebrate with my 2 roommates. We were having a great time, until one of them told the DJ it was my 23rd birthday. He announced it and said something like "if you see Tammy, wish her a happy 23rd". Pretty innocent. Except that I was mortified. I was so angry with them for telling him how old I was. I felt like everyone in the place was looking around, trying to locate the old chick (the crone, if you will). So I've been feeling old nearly half my life. Which is funny to me, because I think I sometimes err on the side of feeling/acting/dressing too young. Too old, too young; almost never just right.

I really need to find some friends my own age. As a person who entered the "Mother" stage a little on the late side, the mothers of my children's friends tend to be younger than me. Everyone I work with at the pizza shop is (obviously) younger than me - many of their MOM'S are younger than me (YIKES!). Yet, I still feel like a young 'un when I hang out with folks who are older than me. I really don't have much opportunity to actually spend time with women my own age, and I think I really need that. I think maybe that would help me put some of these issues in perspective. Maybe it would help me figure out how to feel "just right" about the age I actually am.

Then again, maybe not.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Forward

Everyone who knows me knows that I suffer from SAD (seasonal affect disorder). I start getting a little more depressed as the winter goes on - generally peaking around February (the Great Gray Beast) then getting steadily better. By mid-March I'm usually back to normal - good days and bad days - more good than bad. So I was congratulating myself for making it through February. Last week we had spring weather and bulbs started coming up in my garden. I went to the gym for the first time in probably 5 weeks. Things were looking good. Then this weekend happened! We are buried under more snow than I believe I've seen in the last decade. The weatherman just said it was the biggest storm in Columbus' history. (Really?!? - cause this Pennsylvania girl has seen a LOT worse...) It really feels like the weight of the snow - of the weather - of the winter - is literally holding me down. I have a hard time getting off the couch. I am still in the jammies I wore to bed last night. Everything feels like a bother.

There were so many things we could have done today - those things you never find time to do - but we didn't. We laid on the couch and watched terrible movies because changing the channel would've involved movement and decision making. It was an utter and absolute waste of a day. Olivia enjoyed it a little- she played in the snow and was a little disappointed that none of us would join her. Lea used it as a jumping off point for the latest round of drama and angst.

Tonight we set the clocks forward - Spring has to be just around the corner, doesn't it?

Friday, March 7, 2008

stepping into the 21st century

I figured it was time to step into the 21st century - only a couple years late - and put my thoughts out there for public consumption. I've kept a private journal (sporadically) for years and have always found writing to be cathartic, so this seems like a pretty obvious venue to explore.

Things I'm thinking about today:

The Weather: Is Spring EVER going to come? The little tease last week was almost cruel. I need me some sunshine!!!!!

School: Finals are right around the corner - have I taught my material well? Will my students grades reflect this? But mostly - how the hell am I gonna manage next quarter with all this new technology? I fear change. Mostly I fear it will take a course I really love and turn it into something I don't recognize.

My Health/Body: Okay, get used to this topic - I've been obsessing on it a lot lately. I'm so angry with the changes age has made/is making. I can't think of a single thing about the physical me right now that makes me happy. I used to be happy when I went to the gym, but after over a year of REALLY hard work with barely negligible results, it just feels like a waste of time. I just am having a very hard time making it make sense. I don't feel (on the inside) like the person I present as (on the outside). It's so frustrating.