|My favorite one|
We barely arrived on time (screw being ten minutes early). Why? Because I couldn't get my act together? No. Because I can't tell time? No. Because the baby was having a "bad day?" No. Because Ron got called into work and it messed everything up? No.
Because the godforsaken (GODFORSAKEN) highway we call 202 (which for the record, I refuse to use. ever. at all) had a turned-over tractor trailer that shut down the whole highway in both directions for miles, and everyone in Chester County was trying to get around it. EVERYONE.
THAT IS, ALL PEOPLE WHO OWN AND DRIVE CARS.
IN ALL OF CHESTER COUNTY.
I may or may not have started to cry at one point when Waze refreshed itself and shifted our arrival time from 3:49 to 4:10. It was one of those moments where you really just hate your life, regardless of how irrational that may be. I may or may not have started ranting about how all I do is bust my ass from 7am until midnight and don't get paid for any of it; I rarely ever eat; I hardly sleep (thank you, messed up hormones); I never sit down (unless I'm in the car driving to some place I usually don't feel like going); and half of my energy is spent squeezing blood from the proverbial stone that is my memory: my totally shot, malfunctioning, riddled with black holes (without the benefit or fun of extreme drunkeness!), gasping for life memory. In spite of all of this, I had REMEMBERED to schedule this during the SUMMER, I remembered it was ON said schedule in the late fall, Ron was NOT working that day or screwing a co-worker by not working (miracle!), none of us were sick, the baby's outfit that I bought in October fit (perfectly!), AND WE HAD LEFT THE HOUSE ON TIME. WITH A BABY WHO WOULD BE STARVING AT 4 WHEN THE SESSION WOULD BE STARTING AND WHO WAS HAPPY ANYWAY AND DIDN'T CARE.
And then every road between us and the Christmas tree farm was a nightmare.
Yeah, I cried in the car. I would say "like a child," but it was more like an angry, rageful woman with two (mostly) unpaid full time jobs and no sleep who just wanted one goddamn NICE thing to go correctly without having to bleed herself dry for it one more goddamn time.
|We chose this one for our Christmas card.|
But some freakin miracle (I would say "of God," but I'm careful about what I give him credit for these days because the last time I checked, he never gave birth to anyone or had to be a mom for a day, let alone a lifetime. I mean really, what has he even done lately? Have you looked around this world lately? And how do we live in a 5,000 year old patriarchy again? and why is it that women control everything and yet NOTHING all at the same time? SOMEBODY EXPLAIN THIS TO ME BECAUSE I CANNOT PROCESS IT PLEASE HELP ME) anyway, by some miracle of SOMETHING, we got there at 4:01. I still don't understand how. And Laurie is just Laurie, being herself, and doing her work, and standing out in the cold while laughing and talking for hours while taking pictures on what was (at that time) the coldest day of the season.
Ultimately it was fine. It went well. Weeks and weeks of prep and remembering and planning was not totally wasted. But it almost was. And not even for a decent reason.
|Story of my life: so happy for Ron, big cryfest for Momma. Leftover vibes from the car, I'm sure.|
Several times this month, I've read on people's blogs and Instagram posts a repeated message, almost verbatim across all these unrelated accounts: "2017 has been such a shitty year," followed by some prayer, however secular, that 2018 will be significantly better. I don't think (?) that 2017 has been that terrible of a year. Frankly, I don't watch the news anymore: I don't read stuff online; I don't "follow" anything remotely like the news or political people or outspoken celebrities of any stripe on any platform; I don't read any headlines anywhere for any reason. I know that if I need to know something, somebody I know personally will tell me relatively quickly. If it's a school day, my students will breathlessly ask me about it before they even reach their seats. And if no one tells me, that I probably don't need to know it and there's nothing I could do about it anyway. I don't have much space left in my mind and the meager leftover space that's left I selfishly try to save for unimportant things that still matter to me, like taking pictures or putting outfits together for school or choosing a new lipstick. This is as good as it gets, and it's enough.
Anyway like I said, I don't think 2017 was shitty? I'll just speak for myself here, but I would much prefer "surviving" 2017 than 1941. Or 1942. Or 1943. Or 1944. I'm sure someone else could argue otherwise. I can't say that 2017 was FABULOUS, but I purposely spent the year living under a rock, so what do I know?
That being said, it would be great if 2018 were better, but I'm not putting any eggs in the basket that relates to any matter of the public sphere. I see myself turning only more inward, which I would've thought impossible in past years only because how much more inward can I go? Potentially, it seems, much more.
Recently, someone said to me, "You are incredibly hard on yourself." And they were being incredibly serious so that I ended up being backed into conversational corner where saying something like, "Pfffffttt + [random self-deprecating comment that comes to mind] + change the subject" wasn't going to get me out of it. This happens only very rarely, thus I was impressed with this person. So I just conceded and said, "I know." And then they had the audacity to ask me, a philosopher, "But why?"
How dare they.
Rather than waste 2018 trying to answer that question (which I've attempted too many times to count before landing--yet again--on the answer, "It's how I get things done. Whatever"), I would like to bypass the answering and just stop being so hard on myself. While this will inadvertently (I hope?) make my life easier, I really hope it will prevent this pointless habit from trickling down one more generation to my daughter. Do I want her to be responsible? Yes. Do I want her to avoid generally dumb stuff most of the time? Yes. Do I want her to be respectful and aware of others? Yes. Do I hope that she becomes self-reliant sooner rather than later? Yes.
But do I want her to live most of her life with her stomach in a tangle of knots? No. Do I want her to sign all of her work--literally or figuratively--with a heavy sigh and a crushing feeling of self-doubt? No. Do I want her to spend a single dollar--whether earned or a gift--on herself even just one time and hear herself think, "I am not worthy of this?" No. Do I want her to be completely enslaved by Perfection, the most hideous and disgusting of all masters, and not even make a run for it when she realizes that he's not even Real? No.
|Always checking for earrings.|
All I know is that if I don't destroy this internal way of life now, Rose will continue to involuntarily absorb it indefinitely from me. In general, I've spent much more time pondering what I don't want my daughter to inherit from me than what I hope she does. I don't care if she gives a crap about philosophy; I don't care if she enjoys the same art, books, or music as me; I don't care if she learns a foreign language or travels to the places that I love; I don't care if she goes to college, let alone finish a PhD; I don't care if she loves dessert or dresses or fancy shoes or sparkly things. But I do care that she never talks to herself the way I talk to myself, or that she worries about the dumb crap that paralyzes my poorly functioning mind on a daily basis. Whatever I can do to help her be far more evolved than me, I'll do it. But how can I show her the way if we're both blind? If I want to change things, it appears I'll be trapped in something like a strange fairy tale where I'm both running ahead with the bread crumbs and coming back to report what I've learned on a regular basis. The idea is that eventually she'll out-run me and hopefully won't turn back. I'll just follow her trail at that point. Ideally. Or maybe not. I don't know.
|(I can tell she's yawning. We can say it's smiling.)|
I don't believe in New Year's resolutions, and I always feel bad for all the people who make all the lists--short and long--of all the stuff they want to change and improve just because there's a new date on the calendar. It just looks like the surest shot for disappointment and self-loathing. My double new year has always been the last week of August: birthday and school. Even then, my only resolution has been, "Just go to class everyday, don't get fired, and get your grades posted on time in December, k?" Pretty low bar. And let's be real, being "less hard on myself" is going to take the entire rest of my life, not the next twelve months. "One swallow does not a spring make," says Aristotle. (Yes, he says that. In the second chapter of the Nicomachean Ethics.) But I guess now is as good a time as any to start.
I can't believe how much text is in this post. The only reason why is because Ron has nearly completely taken over all baby care for something like nine consecutive days at this point. Entire parts of my mind that have not seen the light of day in thirteen months have just barely sputtered back to life. But, they're alive enough for me to know that they're not totally dead which I had begun to acknowledge, with tremendous sorrow, as my new reality a few months ago. (Honestly, my mind is like that scene in The Secret Garden where Mary is convinced that everything is dead, and Dickon shocks her by revealing Nope: everything is wick! But damned if you can tell by just glancing at the wasteland that it appears to be.) Things will go back to "normal" on Tuesday, and while a part of me dreads it the same way I dreaded school all those years, another part of me wonders if this commitment that I've made for 2018 is the trick to avoid the dread. I don't know. I hope so, though.