Sunday, April 19, 2015

well, heck

I have never in my life so badly blown NaBloPoMo. I am so sorry.

Looking at my posts, there is a LOT of whining. Again, sorry.

Truly, this is one of the best (if not THE best) periods of my life, but you would never know it because of all the whining.

But this has also been one of the worst periods of my life because I don't know what the heck I am doing, or how to manage it and I feel like I'm always disappointing someone, if not everyone. It's hella hard not to care about that. I don't know how mommy bloggers have time to post. Because I barely have time to wash my hair. And sometimes I worry that I'll leave without rinsing.

It seems unfair that the lovely fleeting moments of early parenthood can be so thoroughly tainted by a constant hovering of a nervous breakdown.

Inevitably, I will look back on this time and hate myself for caring so much that the ironing didn't get done or that I could no longer keep up with coworkers who put in 70 hours a week.

Thank goodness we have cameras.

She makes everything I have to whine about seem not so bad. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

bet your bottom dollar

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it's not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

Today was the first day I didn't have enough milk for the baby. Learning to nurse was really painful and challenging for Ro and I, so I feel like I owe it to us both to see it through as long as we can possibly manage. And as hard as that was, accommodating times to pump during work has been even tougher in a place where no one on my team regularly breaks for lunch.

Yes, I realize how lucky I am even to get a drop out for my child. I am so very grateful for what I have. We all do the best that we can. Tomorrow is another day. We will try again.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

no regrets

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

What's that people say about how no one on his deathbed wishes he'd worked more? I'm having a very hard time getting my bearings back at work and still manage everything that needs to be done at home without dropping a ball or two. It's an impossible goal. There are only 24 hours in a day, and now more than ever, I need at least five of them for sleeping. So at any time of the day I feel like I am letting someone down.

And yet, my story finishes with me finding myself at the end of life with no regrets. Maybe I need to revise.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

what i suck at is efficient balancing

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

Ha. This is perfect.

I have always wanted to be a mom. I clearly remember thinking to myself in junior high: Self, it doesn't matter what you do for a career--you can't die without raising a baby. I'm genetically inclined toward the snuggling, the loving, the encouraging and the supporting that moms do. What I am not naturally equipped for is all the other required stuff that is often not advertised: The juggling, the organizing, the planning, the foreseeing the future, the preparedness. The TIME MANAGEMENT.

So the last five months have been exactly what Pixar Rule #6 is all about for me. Not being able to sit, stand, lie down flat or on my side, bend, kneel, shower without assistance, let alone walk without a walker for eight weeks was quite a curve ball. On top of having delivered a small human for whom we had to do everything but breathe. I'm dealing. I completed home physical therapy and managed to move again without equipment (though it felt like the hobbling was going to be permanent), but I would be dead on the bathroom floor without my A Team: Jon and my mother.

And just when I got a semblance of an idea about what needs to be done and how, I went back to work. That is another post, but let's say going back to working full time three months post baby to a job where you used to put in 50-80 hours a week has been challenging, indeed. I would be dead on the street without the A Team.

So the house isn't as picked up. Exactly zero personal projects get done, including decorating the baby's room and organizing her clothes before she's gotten too big for some of them. I get my news from Facebook now. And there is certainly no time for television. But we are getting by. Again, shout out to the A Team.

I try to keep in mind this paraphrased advice I got from a very wise lady ("The Wife" to whom Omar is "Mr. Wife"): As long as you have the same number of people at the end of the day as you had at the beginning, you're doing all right.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

everybody needs an editor

It seems like in every line of work, when you get so invested in something you've created, it's hard to see the parts that could be bogging you down. No matter how perfect I think something is, if I come back to it later, it can always be improved--mostly by trimming it.

I am trying very hard to keep my work emails to three sentences or fewer. It's hard.

Monday, April 06, 2015

in a nutshell

Once upon a time there was a very bored twentysomething. Every day, she worked the evening shift and was awake when her friends and family were either at work or sleeping, so she watched one Netflix movie a day (before there was streaming), read books and knit, but she was lonely. One day, she discovered a web log with good writing, started her own and bumped into some random, cool people. Because of that, she became very close to a few of the bloggers, especially Jon. Because of that, they started emailing every single day, then talked on the phone for hours and hours. Until finally they decided they needed to meet: Three years later, he moved across the country to be with her; three years after that, they got married; and three years after that, they had a wonderful baby.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

happy day

I need more crafts in my life.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

cylon blanket

Handmade stuff has always had a very special place in my heart. Things that my nani or mom made for me are among my prized possessions. So it makes me sad that I haven't really made anything for my daughter (save for one knit dress I had started for my goddaughter four years ago and finally finished before Ro was born. She is already too big for it).

My mom goes to more baby showers than anyone else I know, so I liked to make blankets while I watched tv so she doesn't have to knit them all herself. She had been putting aside blankets for my kids since I turned 25 because "she might be blind/dead/unable to move her hands by the time I gave her any grandchildren."

This is one I made while Jon and and I bingewatched Battlestar Galactica in 2009. 

I had no idea she was also saving a few that I made for my kids. At my baby shower, she gave me two large wicker baskets: One full of new or beloved stuffed animals from my childhood, and the other bursting with eight rolled-up baby blankets. I had made three. It means so much that she thought far enough in advance to save things for my child from me, too.

February 10. Don't worry, she doesn't sleep with a blanket (or in this Rock 'n' Play) now that she discovered how to roll over.
It didn't even occur to me that our own child might one day be holding onto what I made while we were watching Starbuck and Boomer. 

Friday, April 03, 2015

missing the forest for that one broken twig on the ground

I took a few art classes in college, which were nearly impossible to get into. I had to petition, write an essay and go through two rounds of portfolio interviews because art was not my declared major and the administration didn't want "dabblers" tinkering around among the serious students who would go on to get their MFAs in oil painting or concrete sculpture. They begrudgingly let me in, though I had to win a lottery to get an actual spot. I absolutely loved those classes. But I did not change my major to art.

I tell people I didn't pursue an art and design career because my parents* ("Have you heard the term, 'starving artist'?") convinced me that I needed something stable, a field that I could rely on to pay a mortgage.** Professional art was much too unpredictable.

But the true reason I didn't consider art as a vocation is because I can't stand being around the pretentious segment of that population for more than a few minutes (does that make me pretentious?). Plus, I feared I would turn to drugs to help me come up with enough good work to compete with them (I got my best stuff by staying up so many hours in a row I was practically delirious).*

Even though I only got to take one class, the final for Life Drawing presented me with a huge life lesson. Too bad I didn't understand it for almost 15 years. The light bulb went off recently when I was trying to figure out why I can't get a handle on time management.

It's the details. The details are dragging me down.

I have always noticed things that few others do. Like spelling. And continuity. And what the extras in movies are wearing. And which television shows share the same sets. But sometimes I miss the big picture because I get hooked on the minutiae. And I'm often distracted by anything that floats by in my peripheral vision. It makes me great at Trivial Pursuit. But not awesome at effective productivity.

The final for Life Drawing was a still life set up in the middle of a circle of easels. We each took a seat and had three hours to draw what we saw. It was a bunch of stuff arranged on a table: some vases, dried flowers, I think a plate of fruit and some sort of brass instrument. I can't remember if it was a trumpet or French horn, but my eyes went directly to it.

I immediately started with the buttons on the horn. I drew each one of them painstakingly, erasing and redrawing until they were totally perfect before doing the same for the other parts of the horn. I must say those horn buttons and tubes looked almost like a photograph. I stood up, stepped back and was pretty happy. Until I looked at the clock and realized I was nearly out of time! So I started throwing down some of the other items in the arrangement. It became obvious I was going to run out of room—I had started the horn too far in the center—the composition of my piece as a whole looked terrible.

I think I got a C or D on that final. The teacher said my horn work was exquisite, but because I didn't have much else, she couldn't give me a better grade. She said I should have done a rough sketch of everything to get an idea of the entire composition (translation: MAKE A PLAN) before getting that horn nailed down so permanently. That was humbling. I knew she was right, but I had always done things this way; they had just happened to always work out in the end. I didn't win the lottery again the next semester, so that was that for art classes at university.

The other day, there was stuff lying around the living room, including several plastic bags. Instead of picking up all the random stuff to improve the overall look of the room, I decided I needed to addres the plastic bags in a big way. I pulled out the entire stash of plastic bags from under the kitchen sink and began sorting them into piles for recycle, keep and use for small garbage cans. I didn't finish that task because the baby got hungry, and left the living room with original clutter plus huge piles of plastic bags.

Why do I do this? Who knows. I've always squeaked through life using hard work and no sleep to get everything done to my specifications. But now that there is a small human who depends on us for everything, pulling an all-nighter affects more than just me.

So I have to train myself to map out the big picture before solidifying each, tiny, perfect piece and hope they all fit together. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one, right?

*A semester or two before my graduation with a degree in a "stable field," my mother calls to say, "My friend at work told me about this degree—you should do it—it involves computers! What's it called? Oh yes, graphic design." When I explained that graphic design is ART, she just repeated that bit about computers.

**Three weeks into my first job out of college, the entire company was asked to take a 2.5 percent paycut to prevent layoffs. What I didn't realize was that first paycheck was the canary in the coal mine. And by coal mine, I meant sinking ship. And by sinking ship, I meant an industry where people suddenly didn't want to pay for the product anymore, so there was no money to pay people to make it anymore. It would take me another six jobs and four layoffs to realize that this career was not ever going to be steady enough to pay the mortgage.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

we're hoping not to take any new members

This post isn't fun for the writer. And probably not the audience, either. Sorry. 
During my first pregnancy, I had a pregnancy buddy, who was just a few weeks behind me. We had planned all kinds of fun prenatal crave-binging, swim classes or yoga, and had done plenty of commiserating. Then my baby came at (what I know now was) 19 weeks and didn't make it. Sadly, a few weeks later, hers didn't either.

Everyone offers kindness and advice, but few people understand what it is like to lose a pregnancy that far along. We are bonded for life. She was so supportive during my difficult pregnancy with Ro, even though she was struggling terribly to conceive again. But they finally did. I was overjoyed for her and already planning on all the cute things I was going to get for her new baby.

But I got a message today that it happened again to them. Almost exactly the same scenario. It was like a roundhouse to the face that knocked me right back to May and June of 2013. I asked my mom to make a dish that this friend particularly enjoys and I left it on her doorstep with a note that essentially just said, "hugs." When I see her, that's all I can offer as consolation. Because, when you're in this horrible, terrible club, there are no words.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

because I'm trying

This blog is really important to me. It helped me out of a very low time, it kept me sane when I was isolated (I cannot stand to be alone) and—most of all—it led me to Jon. And now, Ro.

She turned five months old yesterday.* Time has never gone by as quickly as the last five months has flown. 
So it's been killing me that I have only posted here once since the end of October. Beyond parenting, trying not to get lost in our house clutter and readjusting back to working full time, the main thing I do these days is look at Facebook. It's a serious habit that started when I was on bedrest because it is easy to do on my phone while lying down. Or holding a precariously sleeping child. Or while I'm pumping. Or waiting at a stoplight. Or unable to sleep. And now something horrible will befall humanity if I miss a single FB post/link/article/video/meme. I have probably read ten books' worth of linked articles in the last five months.

This blog has always been something I do for myself. Even when no one reads the posts, I like to have the record of what was going on in my life at any time (it has settled bets). The act of writing and the small community of commenters/other bloggers makes me happy. And while I want to be a great parent, in 18 years when my kid is off saving the rare spotted iguana, deejaying in Berlin or curing mesothelioma, I don't want to be sitting here wondering where "me" went.

Part of the reason I hadn't posted in so long is because I thought my first posts back needed to be about the "birth story." Some crazy stuff happened (spoiler alert: I separated my pelvis) and I put a lot of pressure on myself to carve out time to get it all down, in order. Because OCD.

"You don't have to do it perfect," Jon said. "You just have to do."

I ignored his advice for a few months and then decided that I wanted to make posting a priority. I am quitting FB for the month of April and putting that time into a good old-fashioned NaBloPoMo.

A few days ago, I saw a slideshow by Gavin McMahon at Make a Powerful Point. It was created from a set of 22 tweets originally tweeted in 2012(?) that has gotten a bit of notoriety recently. The "Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling"  were written by a former Pixar artist and director, Emma Coats. I'm going to use those rules as inspiration for this month's return of Cadiz.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time have been through a lot with me. I went from a dream job (yes, the dungeon was actually pretty prestigious) to being laid off four times in five years and having to start at the bottom in a totally new career. Jon and I found each other in such a happenstance way and had to make it work for years from 2000+ miles away, get laid off within a day of one another and had to scrape together the monthly mortgage on a condo that wouldn't sell for more than two years. And then there's all the baby stuff. I have never known joy like I get from a single one of Ro's smiles. If we had given up after the bad times, we would have missed out on the very best thing in our lives. It was terrifying. And painful. But so very worth it. 

Don't tell my dad you've seen photos of Ro online or he'll try to ground me or something—he likely saw some horrific news story about predators and is adamant that she stays offline.