Escape of the Inner Monologue

World, inside of my head. Inside of my head, world.

The Neverending To Do

It’s funny how much is involved in keeping a little person alive, let alone entertained and happy. I’ve been reading a lot recently about the mental load of women, and at the end of each article I don’t know if I am more happy because I’m not crazy for feeling mentally drained all the time, or more sad because now I have the additional mental load of the awareness of my mental load.

I’m aware of how lucky I am on so many levels. I recognize that I have a lot of advantages others don’t, and my daughter is really the easiest kid. But nonetheless at the end of the day I can’t settle down to sleep because my brain is spinning up helpful things like “But did I REALLY write toilet paper on the grocery list?” and “I don’t have enough PTO to cover all these school breaks” and “Did my period just start, or am I just gassy?” The standard playlist of the mom at rest.

So anyway – I use an app, Wunderlist, to manage a lot of things. And I even set up a list in there for things just for me. One of the things on that list is “Write blog entry.” That item has been on my to do list for easily a year. I kept pushing it back. I either was too tired or too uninspired or too busy to ever sit down and do this one thing. A thing I like doing. A thing that is important to me. A thing that lets me practice my writing, which is a thing I love.

So I’m going to work harder to not negotiate with myself on this to do in the future.

Maybe if nothing else I’ll make lists of all the things I think of when I’m trying to fall asleep. At least then I won’t lose them. And everyone loves to read lists of 80s rap songs I still know the lyrics to, right?

Tears and Pride

Tomorrow we are putting our two elderly cats to sleep. They have crossed the point where life tips away from joy and down into struggle. R has owned these ladies since they were handfuls of fluff, only a couple weeks old. Now 16 years later it is time to say goodnight.

We have each discussed their impending departure with L. I dug out the Mr. Rogers book I bought about a year ago when our dog passed away. Tonight we got out the laser pointer and the catnip and sat with the cats for a bit.

Watching them roll around in the nip, R got misty eyed.

L: Are you sad?

R: Yes, I am.

L: Do you want to talk about it?

She then went over and gave him a big hug, and they sat together and talked about their memories of the cats.

It was an incredible moment. The person we are raising is by far better than either of us. Her innate caring and empathy are inspiring. I am so incapable of articulating how proud I am of her. And she’s only 5.

Keep shining, my little sunshine.

Safety

Me: Ok, you’re going to a big crowded place with lots of people. What are your rules?

L: Stay where (babysitters) can see me.

Me: And?

L: And where I can see them.

Me: And are you going to go anywhere with a stranger?

L: No!

Me: And what do you do if a stranger tries to make you go someplace with them?

L: Yell?

Me: Yep. Yell and fight like hell.

L: (brightly) I could rip their head off!

Me: You do whatever you need to to be safe.

Babbysitter: I never thought talking about ripping heads off could sound so cute.

New Foods: Guacamole

L: Mom, I tried whaucamole at school today!

Me: Oh neat! Did you like it?

L: It tasted like slop and car gas!

Me:….

L: Like, mixed together.

Me: Got it. You didn’t say that to the cook, did you?

L: No, but I’m saying it to you so you know I really tried it.

Me: Ah. Well. I’m proud of you for trying it.

L: The chips were good!

Monsters in the Walls

In the spirit of the Victorians, let’s tell a scary ghost story just before Christmas. It’s a better way to be in the Victorian spirit than using arsenic as makeup anyway.

When we moved into the current house, L was two years old. From the very first night, she refused to sleep in her room. Even though we’d been sure to set up her crib and make certain that all the essential, familiar items were unpacked and ready, she staged an epic protest and insisted on sleeping in the master bedroom with us. All she would say, when asked why, was that her room was not nice, and had monsters.

So I embarked on an epic effort to make the room nice. We hung her curtains, put up stickers… it was a regular Fixer Upper, Toddler Edition (more Tinkerbell, less shiplap). Still, she wanted nothing to do with the room at night. Eventually she was able to say why… there were monsters. I figured she was using her amazing imagination and working her way through a really big change. After all, I was feeling overwhelmed and out of my element after moving to a new state, so I’m sure she was too. I figured it would pass after things settled down.

Narrator: It did not pass.

Gandalf: I told you.

We would periodically have conversations with her about what would make her want to sleep in her room, which led to the purchase of a toddler bed, then a full sized bed. She would sleep in there if one of us joined her, but never alone. She insisted there were monsters.

As she got older, she was able to describe the monsters in more detail. There was a mother monster (not Gaga) and a baby monster. The mother monster did not talk, but the baby did, and the baby would tell L that the momma monster was “very bad.” The monsters were stuck in the walls and ceiling, but had very very long arms, with talons at the the tips of their fingers. Yes, my daughter used the word talons. And…the monsters only wanted blonde girls.

Gulp.

The consistency of her story, the details she included, and the way she’d talk about it so matter of factly all added up so much that now I’m afraid to go in her room alone. That plus the creepy notebook we found hidden in the basement ceiling when we moved in, and the fact that the last family who lived here moved out for apparently no reason, and how I’d been assuming it was the cats opening her closet doors all the time…

A couple days ago, L reported that the monsters were gone. They were bored, and left. Evidently we’d starved them out of house and our home. I’m grateful we had quitter monsters who decided to just peace out and find a new food source, rather than get all nasty about the lack of service. But I think I’ll sage the house just in case.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a monster-free night!

 

FUCK YEAH CHRISTMAS

I love Halloween. I love costumes, I love trick-or-treating, I love scary movies, I love love love it all. My daughter and I make decorations, paint pumpkins, and trim the Halloween tree. Yes, I have a Halloween tree. Yes with ornaments. What am I, an animal?

But once Halloween is over… and as much as I truly believe we should all express gratitude on a daily basis, and as much as I enjoy eating Thanksgiving food, and as devoutly as I watch the Macy’s parade… I’m totally fine with starting Christmas season. Because FUCK YEAH CHRISTMAS.

I think this year especially, I am fine with the so-called Christmas creep. I need merry. I need bright. I need cheer. I need hot chocolate. There’s some truly horrible shit happening in the world, and Christmas feels like the opposite of that. Christmas is thoughtfulness, and love, and radiant joy on my daughter’s face.

We’ve already been watching Christmas movies and specials. And with my newfound love of baking, I’m researching all kinds of cookie recipes we can work on together. And the tree arrives December 5. Which is a little late for my tastes because I would decorate the tree at 12:01AM on the day after Thanksgiving if I could. But we will make it work.

As an orphan, I appreciate the unique memories of my family at holiday time. And I’m mindful of the fact that my daughter is building memories every year. Christmas is a time for magic, and I want to create that for her so that it stays with her for a lifetime. Each year I do a theme for Santa’s gifts, and make certain to hide the wrapping paper so she never stumbles upon it. We write a letter, and a thank you letter, to Santa every year. And I can’t wait to see what traditions we develop together.

Christmas is the mother fucking best. And this year, bring it on. We’ll still have a lovely Thanksgiving, even if we are bookending it with Christmas carols.

Murder: A Commuter’s Tale

On my way to work today, three people died, and it was hilarious.

Ever go through a period of time where listening to music just isn’t comfortable? I’ve been going through one of those times for about a year now. Sure, there are a few songs that I will put on and play at all volumes over and over again (Wait for It from Hamilton is tattooed on my soul now), but generally I just can’t music recently. It’s too evocative intellectually and emotionally. But what is a woman with two 45 minute drives a day to do? Minnesota drivers are far too infuriating to have to deal with them with no distractions whatsoever.

So, I discovered something the young people are into – podcasts. You should try them. They are fun. And you should especially try My Favorite Murder.

It’s not a perfect podcast, but it’s about one of my favorite evil interests – true crime. Descriptions of some of the most horrible things people can do to other people, juxtaposed with commentary and humor by two average people – not lawyers or police or profilers, just a couple of true crime friends.

Aside from the reassurance that there are other people in the world with as dark a sense of humor as mine, I’ve wondered why I enjoy listening to this recounting of horrific murders. There’s a bit of a totemic aspect to listening – if I hear what terrors have befallen others, those terrors can’t happen to me. There’s also a bit of a perspective setting – whatever I’m struggling with isn’t anywhere as bad as it could be. There’s also a lesson – don’t hitchhike, listen to your gut, cats can be trained to meow for cookies. Ok, so not all the lessons are about how not to get murdered.

But regardless – I’ve really enjoyed having these two funny women tell me sickening stories about the very basest of humans on my way to and from work.

Because at the very least, listening to stories of murder makes me feel far less like murdering my fellow drivers.

Ah The Holidays

And we’re back!

I hope everyone had a terrific holiday season. We had the chance to host one of our dearest friends for Thanksgiving, and showed him all the wonders our new home town had to offer. Just kidding, we totally sat around in our pajamas eating too much and watching movies. I did get to share the wonders of a much loved family recipe with my awesome new MN friends, who loved it as much as we all have for years, so that was very rewarding.

We spent the middle of December on a boat. Our second Disney cruise, to be precise. Disney has perfected vacations and cruises are no different. We sailed on the Disney Wonder and got to enjoy being unplugged for a solid week. Then we spent a quick weekend with friends in Houston and it was back north for Christmas.

I felt mixed emotions about being gone for 10 days of my precious Christmas season. I really really love Christmas, and I did miss being away from our new home and experiencing the season just as things were starting to ramp up. Between that and the odd weather, I just never got around to feeling Christmasy. Until Boxing Day, of course. Timely as always. But then again I’ll never complain about being on a cruise.

New Year’s we went to the birthday party of a charming young man, the son of one of my MN friends. L had a ball playing with all the kids and talking to the birthday boy’s uncle for the better part of an hour about her sippy cup and snacks, while he very patiently did not ask her to please stop standing in front of the football game he was watching.

An overall low key but enjoyable holiday season.

I didn’t end up making resolutions for this year, really. Last year proved that anything can happen, so fuck your plans. Instead I decided to pick my focus for the year, a focus I could apply to decisions, plans, and the day to day. This year’s focus is self care. I’ve been letting a lot slip when it comes to slowing down and taking time and energy to serve my own needs. So now every day I try to set aside some time to think about what I’ve done and what I can do to make sure I’m taking care of myself. I know it’s only day 22 but so far so good.

I hope you all had a wonderful season and set sail with happy hearts in 2016.