with lingonberry preserves

The 27th is my sobriety date. It doesn’t matter much, I know, but I do reflect on it every month on this date. For one thing, it is still an awkward and clumsy nut-punch that my blogging career changed so quickly. One day I was like, “write the theme tune sing the theme tune”, just living my life and documenting it as much or as little as I felt like it with a lot of detail, being as circumspect as possible regarding the feelings or experiences of others, and believing I did a good job not being an ass online about those I rubbed elbows with. And the next day BAM! I’m involved in work I can’t write about at all really – or I guess I could, but I don’t want to, most especially because it involves other people’s lives (and yes… I did start up a totally anonymous recovery blog, but I’ll never tell you about it!) and people sharing in spaces that are safe spaces. Yikes. It really felt like a muzzle and it came out of nowhere.

So, you’ll hear me say this again: I wouldn’t want to go through my first week sober. I was really scared, confused, foggy and exhausted. Baffling and yet very real, I’d been diagnosed an alcoholic by a kind but direct physician – the first time in my life this label had been applied by anyone but myself – but I didn’t know what, if anything, could be done (deep down I thought: nothing). More humiliating still, I’d never consumed the quantities alcohol that others can and did and do get up to (believe me… I checked into it), nor had troubles with the law, nor done a lot of the things pop culture (and my uh, family) liked to label as Alcoholic. It’s like you could have paraded my accomplishments, my attributes, the wonderful things in my life, and how many people loved me. And I would have heard you and maybe even felt a bit moved, but I was mostly just so profoundly confused. Nothing made sense. I had no compass and no sense of proportion. I was all habit energy. Some good habits, some bad. Kelly was lost to a depression and confusion more painful than she’d experienced. Yeah. I was lost.

I am not confused these days. I am not lost. I am rarely set back, angry, anxious, depressed, or resentful. When any of these feelings surface, today I often can know it, and I can figure out why. Today I have the help I need and I seek it out without hesitation. I have so much help, so much support, and a clearer conscience and vision. My life is very different. I am grateful and when I am not grateful, I am still profoundly okay.

I certainly don’t have to drink any more.

On Monday, I made amends to someone for something I did when I was twenty. That’s fifteen years ago.

This morning I was up and resting with a cup of coffee when the children awoke. Nels proudly skipped into the living room wrapped in a blanket, with his most-recent lost tooth in hand. The children were bright-eyed and happy, fresh haircuts and coming from a clean warm bed. It has always given me tremendous pleasure to care for our children. I have made a lot of errors and missed a lot of opportunities, but on many occasions I’ve also had the gift of perception to make the most of it. Time flies quickly while raising children, but the moments can be reduced with the most stunning clarity when I breathe and experience the moment. I am so grateful for the many wonderful experiences in my life, and for the hard experiences too because pain has been a great motivator. Pain and love, one or the other. I can seek to study the latter first so that the former is not so harsh a tutor when she arrives.

Tonight I had a lovely group meditation. And now I’m typing after dinner guests left, late. Like a little cooking show, I taught them how to make the spaghetti and meatballs (here’s my recipe). The kids trounced around and made all sorts of chatter with our guests. Nels, touchingly, has memorized birthstones and likes to tell people their stone and the stone’s meaning – if they are so inclined to listen. Phoenix brought out her little leopard gecko but held it at a circumspect distance from a guest not too keen on reptiles.

Our home is a peaceful and well-lived in one. I have been working too hard, and I hope to avail myself of some comforts the next few days. I’ll take pictures so you all can get a window view.

"we’re doin’ it, man. this is it. we’re right in the thick of the action."

Friday the 13th, indeed.

I had modest plans today. Go to a recommended antique furniture entity – creatively named The Furniture Barn – and look for a shelf for my children’s toys. As I formulated this plan my little heart started racing because as it occurred to me that my children needed a better play area, it also occurred to me it was time to give Sophie her own room. I’d been feeling guilty seeing them sharing dresser space and closet space and having no toys of their own. On the one hand I know it’s healthy to share space and toys. However, we do have three bedrooms and it’s entirely possible to accommodate one of our children per bedroom. My sewing space will have to evolve or die.

After breakfast and cleanup we pile into the car and drive to Aberdeen. The kids and I park in the rain and my children hop out of the van and accompany me into the store, where: it’s happened so many times I recognize it right away. I can sense it immediately like a lion can smell a rotting kill downwind: hatred because I have small children with me. As long as I live I will never forget what this feels like. The clerk in the antique store is not happy I’m bringing in children even though they are well-behaved and I am keeping my eye on them. And bear in mind these aren’t “antiques” along the lines of Fabergé eggs, depression glass, and tiny breakables. This is mostly furniture.

I ignore the shopkeep’s vibe and start looking around. Sophie is not the problem of course; Nels is. Still, he is mostly behaving himself except for his desire to go to areas of the store where I can’t see him – sorry, buddy. After a few minutes of a well-managed shopping stroll the clerk once again looks up from her book and asks in a chilly tone, “Anything I can help you with?” I tell her I am looking for shelves. She noises in the negatory and sort of fake-looks about – pointing out a large 3-part set for $200 a pop. “I’m sorry, we really don’t have much in the way of shelves.” I thank her and keep looking. I find about a half-dozen other items easily classifying under my category, including a nicely sturdy pine set for $45. My children are still relatively good so I look around a little more – there really are some beautiful pieces. For a moment I fantasize about having my beloved Mac resting on a $450 mission-style desk. Finally I am ready to go.

I’ll spare you the further conversation with the clerk – who makes a sharp noise as my son handles the fake fruit in a bowl, then apologetically and nasally drones, “Those are busy years, aren’t they…” Let’s just say by the time the money had changed hands I really wish I hadn’t bought anything from yet another snotty-assed shopkeep in my life. Of course the woman doesn’t help me carry the bookcase to the car, but as it turns out, that’s a blessing – it ends up that this seemingly slender, modest piece of furniture does not easily fit into my large-ish van and I fuck around and adjust and take it out and put it back in and finally do some kicking – breaking a small piece of the just-purchased item! – finally getting the goddamn thing in with only the threat of tears, no actual ones manifested. Throughout this my children have buckled themselves in their seat and are watching me and I behave nicely enough.

Finally, finally the shelves are secured. “See mom, that did go well!” Sophie enthuses (responding to some grumblings I’d made as I struggled), and she and Nels repeat the mantra as we drive on to our next destination. We get to her preschool early and as we wait in the van she comes and puts her arms around me and strokes my hair. Thank you, little girl.

After our Aberdeen errands The Boy and I pick my father up to help me with some furniture moving at home. I pick him up and get to vent about the shopowner (he is sympathetic and asks about my experiences in Port Townsend – I tell him it was worse – we commiserate) and my stupid assy attempts to get the shelves in the van. I make coffee and dad and I chat about family, children, jobs, and mess about moving a large rug into Nels’ room.

This afternoon suddenly I am aware of a horrible smell in my house – very much a burnt paint / rubber smell. We recently had a new gas insert installed (which is a lovely addition, by the way) and the fumes upon installment had disappeared but are back now. This sucks as it surfaced this afternoon and putting a call into the furnace people doesn’t go over well on Friday night. But when I mentioned “headache” to the receptionist she got off the phone pronto, to get me a technician.

So right now I am currently late to a friends’ for dinner, as I sit waiting for a man to come over and tell me what I’ve been breathing today. At least Nels and Ralph are off to dinner – provided they find the place.

Here’s hoping my weekend goes a teensy bit better.

why do i even try

Maybe I should have stuck with what works – staying home with my family, my new house, my projects, my peeps. But no – today I “ventured out” and have been rejected in minor yet thoroughly annoying ways. I’m considering going into hermitage.

First off, today was my first time helping at my daughter’s preschool as the assigned snack / helper parent. First let me say this group of parents seems to provide far less healthy food options than the co-op we were involved in for years in PT. That’s fine – I am no control freak and I know it’s hard to constantly think of healthy options to feed your family. In light of how acclimated to quick snack food the kids are at this school, today I wanted to make something that wasn’t plain bulgar or whatever – something homemade that the kids would actually eat. So I made an apple tart (puff pastry, apples topped with a crumble of brown sugar, oats, butter, almonds, and cinnamon) and whole-milk plain yogurt topped with craisins.

OK, so as the kids come to the table at 2:05 three children see the “raisins” on their yogurt and *IMMEDIATELY* start bitching about them. Two of these children *hounded* me about how nasty it was I’d put these on their yogurt (whoops – I only did it b/c I thought it looked pretty). Then one child takes a bite of the yogurt and lectures me loudly on how bad it tastes – I can only assume he’d been used to high-corn-syrup / sugar versions. At that point I was very appalled by their manners and thanked my lucky stars that I’d taught my kids no matter how much they *don’t* like what someone puts in front of them to eat (and sometimes they really don’t), it is not OK to YELL at the person who made it (these three children literally were yelling). I know this is dumb but for some reason it hurt my feelings or irritated me or something. Maybe because of the complete lack of gratitude? Thinking of the households these children must be raised in? (I’m careful on the judgement thing though – God Only Knows in what ways my children reveal my own lacking parenting). All the other children ate up – or picked off craisins, or whatever – without comment.

So after a big day at school with my two kids and these five others I get home and check my gmail – usually a positive, relaxing experience. I immediately see the admin of a recent Flickr sewing group I’d joined had sent me a poisonous email regarding an image I posed with “offensive” language (whoops – I did have “fuck” in the title – I’d named it so before I’d joined the group). Now, I had read the FAQ / guidelines before joining and there had been no mention of “offensive” language so I didn’t think about it. The email was one of those prim, uptight messages about how if I “keep using offensive language” I will be BANNED from the group. Ooo, so powerful! So mighty, admin! Who gives a shit!

Of course I edited my tag and re-uploaded the photo. I am not wanting to offend anyone and had I been alerted to this upon joining I would have happily edited away first. Just wanting to share my love of sewing with others who sew. GODDAMNIT!

maybe they need a little laudanum with their Froot Loops

Today I went to our County Library which has a very lovely preschooler story hour. There were so many friends and acquaintances there. Unfortunately for whatever reputation I may have, and for my own piece of mind, my kids were fucking savages while we were there. Nels sat for exactly two minutes, then wandered around fondling Mamas’ asses (accidentally, I hope), then found some wooden cars and skateboarded on them (quite well, actually. I may have to buy him a real skateboard). Sophie was great (if a little hyper) until the other parents and kids filed out of the room at the end of the event and she stopped in her tracks and yelled, “They’re leaving without me!” and threw her head back and her mouth opened into a big square and she HOWLED at the top of her lungs. I guess she wasn’t ready for fun-time to be over.

Hours later while at home I noticed she wasn’t wearing panties under her skirt. I wonder how many of the couple dozen PT Mama friends there today got an eyeful of Sophie’s punani.

These things made me laugh today:


and Me loves the Steve Carell. So much.

"… without adding, ‘you’re making a scene.’"

It’s 3:45 PM and I’m at a little celebratory ice cream social at a sweet li’l uptown shop that is celebrating a successful first leg of business. I’m here by personal invitation (which I’m very touched about). The owner of the store is giving a small, tactful speech thanking each person there. Everyone is smiling. Then.

My son. Is the one. Writhing on his back, thumping his head against the flooring, and squalling. Brandishing two markers threateningly. The room is mostly adults who are probably alternating between pretending I don’t exist and wishing I didn’t. Of course, three other toddlers are there (one, my lovely daughter who is behaving herself very well), but they are pulling it together for the five minutes needed. But it’s my kid. Right now. That is the problem.

Today Michelle said, “You must be pretty worn out by the end of the day.”