No party is any fun unless seasoned with folly

Last night my girl and I stayed up late together while Ralph and Nels slept; she and I watched Rabbit-Proof Fence. I worried this story would stress my daughter out. Instead it stressed me out, and it was the second time I’d viewed the film so I’m not sure why this surprised me (I think the epilogue is the most gut-wrenching bit). In fact Phoenix was an attentive and earnest viewer and I loved that when the Aboriginal characters spoke in their native tongue she called it “Australian” (I forgot to ask her what language she thought the white colonizers were speaking). It was kind of an agonizing film for me, but I stayed next to her and soon after we were asleep in one another’s arms.

My girl slept in, and after she woke I put a breakfast up for her while Nels and I ventured out. Phoenix had requested a present a day from her birthdate to the day of her party. Nothing would give me greater pleasure; my son and I traipsed over the – frankly, it must be said – slim pickings of Aberdeen. I finally found her ten pair of cotton panties, a few unique candies, and a bottle each of glow-in-the-dark and “mood” nail polish (in hues of blue, of course). As for the panties, I’m not allowed to discuss it with her but let me tell you, she had grown right out of her previous batch. The panty was quite scanty, as we’d been saying. A few minutes ago, out of the bath and squeaky clean, she modeled the new and improved scenario, wiggling her derriere the proper amount.

I’m ahead of myself, though. My trip with Nels was wonderful. He’s already charmed the ladies at the new coffee shop, where we first stopped today. Mostly because he is very friendly and tells them exactly what he’s up to these days. As he paid for my drink one of them leaned down and said, “Two twenty-three, do you know how much that is?” and he counted it all out perfectly. He then confided he had enough change the weight was pulling down his pants (true, as he seems to be getting thinner instead of stouter), so she gave him a little cup with a lid. For the remainder of our errands – to the fabric store, to get a hot dog, then a shake, to the mall – he carried and skipped and shook his little money cup, paying his way – and my way, occasionally – talking happily (“Oh! You’re so pretty you scared me!” to the JC Penney’s associate, who – very prettily – laughed quite a bit) and finishing up in grandiose fashion with a huge Skee-Ball win (he then packed the tickets back into the near-empty Tully’s cup and gifted this to his sister when we arrived home).

When we got back this afternoon I wrapped my daughter’s gifts and whipped up a few clues and stealthily planted them. Our friend Sophiea had come over by then and was quite impressed with the treasure hunt, such as it was:

Now let me remind
we’ve a present for you.
Venture to find
a shoe with a clue.

Nothing too showy,
a gift that’s a token.
Now look high and low-y
where things go once broken

Your gift is so close!
A good hunt you’ve led.
Now follow your nose
to where we store bread.

You’ve scoured our home,
looked low and looked high.
Once more you should roam:
find clothing that’s dry.

So my day was lovely, although I got a bit distracted. I have a lot of food to cook, friends and visits to arrange, some costume-sewing to put together. Friends stayed over late and even while in the midst of much-enjoyed conversation I could feel the paralysis of Too Much settling on my chest. It’s 2 AM here and anxiety, now, hits me like a truck. There’s so much I have to do. A handful of families did not RSVP – at all – which makes food preparation tricky and means there will likely be extra, so if anyone wants to crash, please do.

But the guest issues, difficult as they are, are not what really bugs me; what bugs me is the pressure I put on myself (see, if I *know* how many people are coming, it is one less thing that feels out of control and confusing). One might think that’s how to get things done, but if anything pressure seems to immobilize me. As I alluded to before, typically I have great plans and forge ahead, then as game time approaches I begin to feel like I’m wading chest-deep through molasses. This time at least I’ve been brave enough to ask a few people for help, and brave enough to admit – here, and other places – that I often have a hard time with even simple tasks.

Giving up is not an option at this point, but if I did no one could blame me, right?

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