Tag Archives: moving

Car “Problems”…

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Last week, I went down to the garage to take the kids somewhere in the car. It wouldn’t start.

I called James, “Um, the car won’t start. You wanna give me a hand?”

So he comes down and turns the key because I might not have done that part right.

“Well,” he says, “When’s the last time you drove it?”

I stared at him blankly.

“Um, when did we go to the library last?” I say, “Last week? No. Week before last? I don’t know.”

“Really?” he says, “That’s awesome.”

Because that, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the reasons we moved to the city, to walk.

At first, the use of the car was regular. My four year-old couldn’t make it to the store four blocks away without being stricken by a sudden and bizarre attack of muscle dysplasia at least once. Walking to the library was out of the question. Walking to Golden Gate Park was a day-long venture.

Once, we tried to walk to dinner at a new friend’s house. It was twenty-six blocks away. James and I discussed it over the phone. Google maps said the walking route would take half an hour. Google maps has considered many possibilities. It has a car icon, a bus icon, a bike icon, and a walking human icon. It does not, however, have a four year-old icon. It took us forty minutes to get halfway. James had to pick us up in the car.

There are many, many double strollers in San Francisco for a reason. They are all owned by kind people.

I, however, am not a kind person. I believe in the power of my daughter’s legs. I believe in the strength of her character. I have witnessed it; I potty trained her. If she can hold a determined turd at bay for forty-eight hours, then she can walk.

And my husband is even crueller than I am. He plans hikes.

And so we made them walk. There are three parks within walking distance. There are many markets, about four we use. There are laundromats, libraries, museums, and two beaches. There are trails and hikes and numerous eateries all within reach of my four year-olds two little legs.

It sounds amazing doesn’t it?

It is.

Because one of the amazing things about living in the city, evidently, is that you have to remind yourself to drive your car at least once a week so the battery doesn’t die.

Who knew?

Of course, the downside to all this exercise is more energy, for them. Did you know they could get more energy? They can. It’s crazy.

Who knew?

Introvert Issues Part 2…

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I was dragging my feet all morning. I was watching the clock and moving a little bit slower than was absolutely necessary. Part of me hoped that something would come up to make it impossible for me to go. Or, I would look up and it would be, so sad, too late.

I almost went so far as to wish one of my kids would throw up, the ultimate excuse infallible.

But I didn’t relish telling my husband that I had somehow missed the mommy group I was supposed to go to today.

I knew I could come up with an explanation that would be acceptable to any other Mom, but not my husband. He knows me too well. To him I am saran wrap. He sees right through me.

This is one of the reasons I’m terribly glad I married him. It’s healthy for me. And, like today, sometimes healthy tastes like a disagreeable kale salad.

At any rate, I arrived at the predetermined coffee shop at about the last possible moment. And my anxieties subsided when no one was there. Actually, I felt my spirits soar.

“Oh, well!” I thought, “At least he can’t say I didn’t try!”

And so I got a coffee and sat down with the kids.

At this moment, when I’ve already committed to a table and a for-here cup, another mother shows up with her son and we get to talking. And then one of her friends shows up with her daughter.

So, we had our own little mommy hour, and the universe contrived to make my husband correct once again, because I had fun. I’ll even go so far as to say that I needed that.

Best cappuccino I’ve had in this city, yet, too.

Introvert Issues…

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I’m not a person who requires a great deal of social interaction. One might even call me a loner. I never really felt alone. As someone who writes I’m almost never without a character’s voice chatting away in my head, anyway.

Friends used to come by my house to play and I was invariably in the middle of a project. I used to grab the first book I could find and pretend to be so involved I couldn’t play.

“Sorry, I’m right in the middle of a chapter.”

“You sure do read a lot.”

My sixth-grade self found it a very valid excuse.

But motherhood is a strange dichotomy. You’re lonely but you’re never alone. You’re without someone to talk to, but never without someone talking. You’re busy from morning till night and get nothing accomplished. You’re constantly standing over a stove, but never eat anything hot. Your nipples have never gotten so much action, but you’ve never felt less sexy.

In one minute you go from the ethereal revelations of first words and baby kisses to elbows deep in toilet water scrubbing poop out of superhero underwear.

Motherhood. It changed me.

Suddenly, I was lonely. The voices in my head couldn’t get a word in edgewise. And when the barista asked me how my day was, you better believe she heard every stitch of it, occasionally unto salty tears, mostly mine.

So, moving to a new place hasn’t been easy. I’ve been mourning a bit for the friends I left behind. And maybe I’ve been pouting a little about having to go in from scratch again. I wouldn’t say I’ve hit the point where I want to be social, but I have hit the step right before that one, the mommy loneliness.

My perceptive husband came in last week and let me know, “Barbara, it’s time to get a Mom’s group.”

Well, if there’s one thing I got from my family, it’s the inability to come to a decision coupled with a blazing resentment when anyone tells me what to do. So, after five minutes of looking at Mommy meet-ups I called it good.

And last week I put it off as I was in the throes of another book, my own, chip chip chipping away. I was writing so much I don’t think we left the house for a few days. Oops.

Well, my husband came home Friday and saw the state of things. And he took us all out to the park for a little airing which, I acknowledge now, was desperately needed.

And wouldn’t you know? I met a very nice Mom who invited me to her Mommy group.

So, this week’s project, besides chip chip chipping away at my book, is to be social.

Somehow writing a novel seems more attainable.

Mommy group is tomorrow. I think I’m nervous. I feel something like it in my belly.

Farewell my Nalgene…

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Glass Mug

When we moved into my Mom’s house my favorite glass mug got packed. It doesn’t match any other cup or dish I own; I think it might have been my grandmother’s. I like it because it’s exactly the right shape and weight in my hand, and holds the perfect amount of milk to go with waffles. At any rate, I’ve been without it for a year and a half.

Meanwhile, at the time of the move I had one of those tall plastic cups with the hard plastic straw. It came with me because I was at that very thirsty point of pregnancy, every point, and it was attached. It was there cutting a tall clear figure, practical yet chic.

Then it broke while I was on a three-week road trip. And Momma was thirsty.

There were two or three days of trying to suck enough water out of drinking fountains and refilling plastic bottles in gas station bathrooms before I got fed up. The inner estuaries of my growing abdomen demanded floods, not these piddly rains! I asked a friend on my trip if she had an old extra bottle maybe?

She did and for the next, well, year I drank out of an old scratched wide-mouthed Nalgene bottle that looked eminently functional and tired. As I was very pregnant and uncomfortable I couldn’t help but see the resemblance. The reflection wasn’t a pleasant one.  But it was an accurate one, even the wide-mouthed bit.

And then today I abruptly noticed I wasn’t drinking out of the Nalgene anymore. I looked around for it. Could it be? Yes! It was still sitting next to my bed where I had left it two days ago. And what was I doing? Drinking little sips from my favorite glass mug.

Ha!

I’m no longer a camel carrying water around on his back in quantity sufficient to make it to the next oasis. I am here. No nomad, I! And my oasis before me allows small glass mugs and the reliability of tiny sips.

So, fare thee well, my Nalgene. I send thee on with the help of the great karabiner in the sky where you shall lie in peace, forever resting in the shadow of the eternal Jansport. Amen.

Processing…

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Well, today was the sharp pinch finishing off my dreamlike weekend.

Did I mention that I like quiet?

Sometimes it is so loud.

I spent it all this weekend. Everything I had. My body’s tired. I’m overstimulated with artistic input. All I want to do is crawl into a dark cave and rest my overexerted five senses.

But I have three children.

And today was band practice day. So, instead, I listened to the new hit song, “Baby in a Rainbow” with my son accompanying on lap harp-

–on repeat.

Maintaining house amid boxes while still missing important pieces of furniture is difficult. It’s taking more time from my day than I would like. I’ve been away from my keyboard, too much to process and not enough processing.

I can’t quite reconcile this part of me with motherhood. Perhaps no mother can. Perhaps motherhood has done this to all of us. But, now, whatever the reason, every night I have to do this:

As soon as they’re all in bed I sit down in the dim nearly-dark at my computer. The first thing I do is mute my computer and turn the ringer off on my phone. Then I dim the brightness down on both until they are as low as they can go. Then I sit alone and “ride the day down into night”.

It is almost night now. I have the windows open to let in the ten degree drop that always happens in San Francisco at this time of day. There is a line of faint yellow light enunciating the unromantic silhouette of the apartment building across the courtyard. I can see through my kitchen window the light in the bedroom of our neighbor unit has been turned on. Since my kitchen window is open I can hear the movie they are watching. The baby fusses a few more times and then grows quiet. I take a deep breath. I hear a curse word from the movie, the distant problem of someone facing what could only appear, to him in that moment, to be reality. I still smell the chili I made for dinner, which reminds me of the jobs left to do for the day: bring up the load I left in the dryer, put away the leftovers, do the dishes.

If things you experience become forever a part of who you are then right now I feel a little like Velcro with smothering layers dangling, hanging on by odd threads. And now in the dim I must be still and go deep and meet myself for a moment in the middle. I will be still here for a bit longer and listen for a foghorn, maybe, letting the layers settle gently and a little firmer into my being.

How I wish I could pause on occasion like my computer and allow things to load.

Processing, processing.