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Archive for the ‘Tired is my middle name’ Category

Do you ever feel trapped? Not TRAPPED like “I’m going to chew off my leg now,” but more, “Hey, this hamster wheel keeps spinning, and I’m not sure what will happen if it stops, but it’s probably not a good idea to stop, so I’ll just keep going.”

(I do enjoy a good run-on sentence from time to time.)

Tangent

I used to hate even the idea of being trendy or following some sort of herd.

I never owned a piece of clothing from Benetton (when it was all the rage) or bought Doc Marten boots (my college roommate had umpteen pairs, but unfortunately we didn’t wear the same size) or got a second ear piercing.

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I could have been so cute! On someone else’s dime! WTF is wrong with you, past me?

(I made an exception for those Banana Republic shirts with the animals on the back, for reasons I don’t remember. Who doesn’t like paying twice as much as normal for a dumb t-shirt?)

This rejection of trendy did not make me cool. It made me a dork. Sometimes people invest themselves in trends that are not worth it, but sometimes brands or styles really hold up. Sometimes you really can dress something up or down; celebrity endorsements aside, some items are just worth the money.

Now I am all about the intersection of “comfort and style and branding and fiscal responsibility and I don’t really care what everyone else thinks.” So I live in Naot sandals, buy a lot of SkirtSports gear, and am pretty devoted to my few-generations behind iPhone. So I am not on-trend, exactly, but more like chugging along on a parallel track that misses a few stations.

(PS I tried to buy a pair of Chucks, which I have never owned, in America a few months ago, but the store I was at did not carry them in half sizes. WHAT? I am definitely not shelling out money for shoes that don’t fit correctly.)

/tangent
(sorta)

Into the Hamster Wheel

So imagine my dismay when I discovered that my current fragile mental state is shared by so many GenX women. Blame it on perimenopause. Blame it on money worries. Blame it on career dissatisfaction. (Not mentioned in the article, but an astute IRL/Twitter friend pointed out that the last election has engendered mental pacing on an unprecedented level. “Oh HAI misogyny and bigotry and warmongering; we thought you were pretty unacceptable, but we see you’re back in a big way. Sad panda. I am not going to be needing this pillow, as I am never sleeping again.”)

Good thing I am fine with being in the herd now.

Say Goodbye to Your Shirts

I have a problem with my shirts. Almost all of them get tiny holes in them, about six inches from the bottom, right in front. Eventually, some holes “bleed” together and make much bigger holes. I try to reserve my new shirts, or shirts that I especially like, because I know that eventually they will be sacrificed to the “t-shirts I can only wear to bed” pile.

Because I spend a lot of time in my house, tiny holes in my shirts didn’t matter that much, but they made me crazy. Nobody else in the house was getting these holes. Was it my seatbelt in the car? Skirt buttons? Was it the washing machine nibbling only my clothes? None of these ideas made sense.

A friend tipped me off – it is our Caesarstone countertops hitting me in the gut every time I prep food or stand at the sink.

Oh.

Too bad I can’t take a pass on everything in my kitchen forevermore to save my shirts.

The Call is Coming from Inside the House

Yep.

But do I not wear shirts? Do I wear the same one over and over again until it disintegrates? Do I never wear the shirts I like the most in order to save them? Do I buy 3 of the same shirt?

I can already hear well-intentioned people thinking, “Oh, she should wear an apron!” That is so sweet. It will never work. I autopilot so many *kitchen things that adding a “step zero” will never take.

*Also life things. There is a relatively new law in Israel about re-usable bags. I have had to fling them around my house and car, literally by the dozen, so I am not caught without them.

So that’s my hamster wheel.

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This smushy face would never chew holes in my clothes. She’s too tired and has her own perimenopausal stuff to take care of, presumably.

It has tiny holes and kitchen chores. It does not have enough disposable income for a cleaning person. It does not have a full-time job.

If you’re too traumatized to click through to the piece linked above, this goes right to the heart of the matter, for me:

“The message Gen X women got was ‘You can have it all.’ … That came with better blueprints and also bigger expectations,” says Deborah Luepnitz, PhD, a psychotherapist in Philadelphia, a boomer and author of Schopenhauer’s Porcupines. “In midlife, what I see in my Gen X patients is total exhaustion. That’s what brings them to treatment. They feel guilty for complaining because it’s wonderful to have had choices that our mothers didn’t have, but choices don’t make life easier. Possibilities create pressure.”

(IT’S ME AND MY MOM, YOU GUYS!)

Possibilities. We still have them in midlife, but they can start to seem so abstract. Yes, I could go get a doctorate, but where would I find the graduate school tuition? I could switch careers—therapist? Zamboni driver?—but at this stage of life, do I really want to start from the bottom, surrounded by 20-year-olds? If I went on an Eat, Pray, Love walkabout, who would pick up the kid from school?

(IT’S ME AND MY LIFE, YOU GUYS!)

Midlife is when we need to take care of everyone else while we are our most tired, to trust ourselves when we’re most filled with doubt.

(Don’t show this sentence to someone with a new baby; she won’t be able to get out of bed ever again.)

If someone would like to meet in the virtual all-night cafe of insomnia, simmering with rage and worry, I am pretty sure they have pie.

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I saw this post in my Facebook feed and thought, I AM THE ELLIPSIS.

But not just in conversation. In LIFE. My entire life is a mishmash of speech, thoughts, desires, tasks, and journeys that become hopelessly tangled like a skein of yarn. And let me tell you, I rarely have the time to sort these things out.

In my own writing – please feel free to peruse my archives, when I was clearly smarter than I feel right now – I tend towards overuse of parenthesis. So I can explain myself in the middle of my thoughts. One might think (hope?) that I would just be more clear in the first place, but that tends to lead to shorter sentences, and I really like commas, so here we are, you know? (Note: For work assignments I behave myself and write crisply and concisely, but I never monetized this baby, so I am going to be myself. Just please love me! Also send candy. I like cinnamon things now that I have drastically cut back on dairy, which is a sad story for another time.)

Unfortunately, living the elliptical life is causing me to feel like I am losing my mind quite often. We live in a duplex, and I am constantly arriving at the top of the stairs and thinking, “Why am I up here?” Usually, it’s because my iPhone cord is still plugged in to where I charged overnight, but sometimes it’s because I need to change my shoes or get an envelope or brush poppy seeds out of my teeth. But I can’t just blame the elevation of the top floor, because this also sometimes happens when I go to the laundry room-slash-overflow pantry that is tucked behind the kitchen.

This total mess in my head is exacerbated when my kids are home. Because I will go upstairs – again, probably for my phone cord – and on the way, I spot that AM’s clothing drawers are open and a total mess. I mean, total mess is expected, but nobody needs to SEE it. Just close the drawers! Instantly neater! (This is an important life skill that I am one hundred percent committed to teaching.) I also see that Miss M has been using her floor as a hamper and, um, encourage her to cut that shit out. And the kids’ bathroom basically looks like a tornado came through. Open drawers and dirty clothes! Trash that missed the garbage can! Books that I have repeatedly said cannot be in the bathroom! It’s house disaster bingo! So by the time I pass these three open doors and am in my own not-neat room, I have completely lost the plot and have to stand there mumbling, “I am here for a reason.” If I am lucky, I will remember why. If am super-lucky, I will also stumble upon my glasses, which I am absolutely going to need the next time I go to drive the car. (I do not need glasses to read, use the computer, or watch TV, so they spend a lot of time off my face — and hiding from me, in case that wasn’t obvious.)

So what is my problem, exactly?

  • Sleep deprivation (always a winner!)
  • Undercaffeination (likely, but I can’t experiment with this too much)
  • Age (being over 40 is a garden full of delights)
  • Some sort of attention deficit (I blame social media)
  • Low blood sugar/dehydration (I am not always the best at self-care)
  • Terrible housekeeping (a disordered environment is how we roll)
  • No idea (but I hear bullet points are the bomb)

So, in conversation, I tend to be incredibly annoying and full of tangents. I think I have always been this way, but now it is worse than ever. On social media I can be pithy and wise, because of the magical delete button. There is no delete when I talk. Sadly.

My workarounds for this? Ongoing conversations that are comprised almost solely of tangents. I have a Whatsapp group with two friends that’s basically the three of us dropping in and out of conversations. We try to do it once a week in real life. Or conversations that are long enough to circle back to my original point, when I have one, which is sometimes. Just today, I had a spontaneous brunch with a friend. Something else came up, we got distracted, and thankfully were still together an hour later when I remembered where I was going with my train of thought (the in-person reveal was worth it, so I am glad it worked out, instead of my having to email it later).

I am not quite sure where I am going with this, but if you stick around I might get to my point. (If the dog ever stops barking.)

In the meantime: Red Hots, Cinnamon Jelly Bellys, Atomic Fireballs, Hot Tamales. (Stay focused!)

jbs

All cinnamon, all the time

 

 

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The last year has felt like the world has been tilting wildly and weirdly, and often not in good ways.

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The first six months were emotionally tortuous, as we applied to high schools for Miss M. Her brightness and quirkiness have not diminished over time, and her official Aspergers diagnosis from a couple of years ago was refreshed by a new round of professionals. There didn’t seem to be a school that suited her within commuting distance. Not having an answer to “where is she going for seventh grade?” as May 1, then June 1, rolled past was…stressful. As usual, I dealt with my stress by not sleeping much.

The school question was finally settled, then RESETTLED at a different place OMG LIFE ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME? just in time to deal with the final birth pangs of her bat mitzvah. (Which was, admittedly, super great .)

Then the whole election debacle-slash-world-upside down. I still have a lot of anger about this, which spills over into things like discussing with Taxman in front of the kids why I shouldn’t call him a rapist in front of the kids but sexual assaulter is ok because he’s admitted it. Incoming president of the United States. I just. (For my utter bewilderment, see my Twitter feed.)

Also not a lot of sleeping happening in October and November. Because time zones, and who is driving this plane; are we crashing?

So when an acquaintance announced on Facebook that she was going to run an eight-week knitting for beginners class, I said please, please pick me!

Knitting was something my mom did, and my aunt. I have no idea where they learned – maybe their grandmother? (I certainly never saw MY grandmother with knitting needles in her hands, unless by knitting needles you mean cigarette or gin and tonic.) When I was old enough to have enough patience to learn (an early attempt had been quickly shelved), my brother was a baby and then a toddler. I think my mom, who worked full time, put away her own knitting for years.

As an adult, I’ve realized I have a ton of friends who knit, enough so that I felt I was really missing out on a generational experience.

So I’m learning now.

I’m not as terrible as I thought I’d be, although I’ve managed to break two sets of not-great circular needles.

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But I’m being propped up, sometimes literally, by Miss M, the ringer I drive to knitting class. (The kids’ class didn’t fit with her schedule.) She’s a natural at this stuff, if a little overly ambitious, so has saved my ass many times with her nimble fingers and multiple crochet hooks. She can’t really keep up with the “bitch” element of the class (a lot about parent teacher meetings and planning bar mitzvahs), but she’s spot on with the “stitch” part.

So that’s a skill I’m hoping to take with me into 2017 and beyond. I’m seeing the beginning of how it becomes A Thing – beautiful yarns, complex patterns, different equipment, but at the same time a way to really turn off the world and concentrate on what’s literally directly in front of you.

I’ll be here with my in-house knitting coach, hoping to finish my hat before winter ends. (In the meantime, I had to buy myself fingerless gloves because we keep the house at like 60 degrees.)

PS This blog turned 11 today! Crazy.

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Hi! I’m still here!

My sanity is…debatable.

Miss M turned 12, and we had 120 people for dinner to celebrate.

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Actually, it started last summer, when I said something incredibly stupid, like, “For the bat mitzvah, Miss M should make 12 pieces of art, then we should auction them off for charity at a gala dinner. We will make it nice enough to justify the grandparents schlepping over from America.”

And nobody with some sense thought to stop me and my gigantic mouth.

(System failure!)

So that’s pretty much what happened. Miss M learned her Torah portion and commentaries in-depth, created art pieces, wrote explanations of them in Hebrew and English, picked charities, and there you have it. EASY PEASY. (Hahaha, plus dozens of sleepless nights. And speeches!)

We of course hired an event planner because I still don’t know how to say “easel” in Hebrew, never mind having a clue where or how to rent ELEVEN of them for one night. She also herded us through a catering crisis and a billion other things.

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My takeaway is that three detail-oriented people on one project makes for a beautifully micromanaged event, but if I never have to answer my phone or return a related email again I would be ok with that.

Anyway, it was a big enough thing that I had hair and makeup and wore heels. It was nice.

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Then we squired our American visitors around for a few more days for some sightseeing in Jerusalem and Tzipori. Then we had a big Shabbat do (more food! more speeches!) at our synagogue and had 13 relatives over for meals.

Then I legit had jet lag, trying to recover. Did not matter that I hadn’t been on a plane – I needed midday naps and freezer meals to get through dinner.

I’m better now.

Whew.

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Last week was trying for me in a lot of ways, mostly because AM was sick and kindly shared his germs with me. He gets very snuggly when he’s ill, and while I find this endearing, the fever and deep, rumbling chest cough were not appreciated. To add insult to injury, he got a pneumonia diagnosis and therefore got on some kickass antibiotics while I had “clear” lungs and muddled through on cough meds and fever reducers.

(There was also the night when I was so tired I took Tylenol PM and had a paradoxical reaction. And was even more tired the next day. Plus extremely bitter. But “one tired, bitter ema” does not have the same ring to it.)

So, to recap: sick, tired, sick-and-tired. Plus all the usual backtalk from the children, mess in the house, and, you know, life. (Taxman was around a lot, to make up for the times when I just could not leave the house, or drive Miss M to various scheduled appointments, but by Friday he hadn’t thrown in a load of wash either. Bought milk, yes; laundry, no.)

I felt crappy pretty much every afternoon, so in the mornings I tried to do the minimum I had to do for work. Sometimes with company hanging over my shoulder. Or dancing on the couch. Because why go to school when you can stay home and play Fruit Ninja on my phone? Or whine at me to play backgammon until I give in? Because the alternative — is not pretty.

Humans don’t eat their young.

I don’t know why I thought of this so suddenly last week. Perhaps because I’ve been reading a couple of books right now where mice are prominent (The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo and Intuition by Allegra Goodman); mice, of course, do sometimes eat their young.

But we are not rodents. We are in this kid-raising thing for the long haul. At first it’s all about how to keep them alive. When they are asleep at night we sigh in relief because we managed to keep them from harming themselves…sometimes with varying success rates.

We are past that stage. Honestly, we had it pretty easy (my toddler nephew is a climber; we never had to deal with that, or lock picking, toilet drinking, street running or other particularly hair-raising toddler things).

Now we are in the long muddle of making our children socially acceptable. Table manners, polite conversation–hell, any kind of two-way conversation–empathy, friend-navigating. It’s harder to score how you, the parents, are doing. The metrics are totally foggy.

  • What if other adults find them lovely but they don’t get invited for playdates?
  • What if they are happy to eat three kinds of raw vegetables but never salad?
  • What if they get great grades but collectively blitz through a box of carefully hoarded pencils from Target in 2 weeks? (Seriously, do they EAT them? Are they not children but beavers? Do beavers eat their young?)

I decided that this is part of why parents are so joyful at their kids’ big events. It means that other people find them socially acceptable and want to celebrate that too. It’s a big cosmic reward for not eating them.

Graduation –> Your kid earned a degree! They applied themselves! You probably only had to do 50% of the work/80% of the cajoling!
Good job –> Somebody else wants to PAY your child to work at something! Someone else is trusting them to be responsible! Let’s hope the job doesn’t entail putting laundry into a hamper!
Wedding –> You’ve been so successful at child-rearing that somebody else wants to live with your child on a permanent basis…and even finds some of your child’s qualities worthy of passing to a new generation. (We hope. Because how else will you exact your revenge?) Cute and breedable! Good job, parents!

This last part occurred to me because an Internet friend married off a child last month. She projects the picture of calm and happy level-headedness, but through some private messaging I know that some of her children have provided a few sleepless nights and therapy sessions in the past. But here she is, walking to the chuppah and sending off to be amazing grownups. So there is hope!

So, no, we won’t eat them. We’ll try to raise them right and turn them into real people. But if anyone would like to, say, borrow a 6-year-old who will play backgammon all day and night or an 8-year-old who is up on all kinds of 19th century diseases (yellow fever, cholera, scarlet fever), just, you know, give me a buzz.

NB: In the time that elapsed between me wanting to write this post (last Thursday) and actually writing it, I served a dinner everyone ate. It was teriyaki salmon and rice. Everyone had seconds. Civilization is coming faster than we think.

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Or perhaps it’s just my life.

I have a sink. It’s never empty. I just…have a problem doing dishes right away. Possibly because I have more interesting things to do–like figure out what I can download on my Miss M’s new Kindle. Or work for pay. Or I don’t want to stand up just then. Or there’s no hot water. (Hello, Israeli winter!) Or…I just don’t know.

I have been feeling overwhelmed, and I can’t put my finger on why.

We are all, thankfully, healthy. Life’s not perfect, but we are financially, emotionally, and physically ok.

I’ve been battling my old nemesis, insomnia, during the past few weeks. That’s certainly sucking the wind right out of my sails. When I do sleep, fitfully, I’ve been having really weird–though vaguely entertaining–dreams.

Like when I dreamed that we were at a highway rest stop and there was a vending machine that dispensed (seriously) live puppies with a handful of kibble. And before we could stop them, a group of tween boys pressed the buttons TWICE and then abandoned two puppies (one of whom had a gimpy leg!). Taxman rescued them, put them in the car with us, and we cancelled our Christmas (I KNOW!) plans in order to turn around and come home with them. Then we pulled up to my boss (?), who was standing on the sidewalk, and I said, “Want to hear about how we turned 1 dog into 3? I’ll tell you tomorrow over coffee–you take black, two sugars, right?” And my boss was Alicia Florrick. Played by Julianna Margulies. And when I woke up, I thought: “Weird…I’ve never even been to Chicago.”

This is why I don’t feel rested, I’m sure of it.

So, in conclusion, my subconscious and not-so-subconscious are conspiring to keep me exhausted and unable to keep my house clean. And how is YOUR winter vacation?

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No intro. Seriously.

  • Someone has replaced my sweet son with a changeling who is surly, rude, and obnoxious. And also partially insane. He woke me up at 5:30 this morning by kicking the walls in his room, then complaining that “It’s not fair that [Miss M] has her own room now.” The inverse of this is that he also has his own room. So the unfair part is…what?
  • (NB: I had also been up in the middle of the night tending to the other child and her questionable tummy.)
  • The weather, though beautiful, is confusing. It’s hot in the sun. And cool in the shade. And might rain, but probably not, but it poured in Herzliya and drizzled in Tel Aviv. How does one dress for that? (The answer, apparently, is the same as so many other weather-related quandaries: light layers. So how many weeks until we will lose a sweater?)
  • It was, however, amazing weather for fruit picking yesterday for Leket Israel, a volunteer organization that owns and harvests fruit orchards and vegetable fields (among other projects)–all the produce goes into food baskets for the needy.
  • Work. Just. I can’t even.
  • I made peanut butter & Nutella cookies for Shabbat and forgot to serve them. I wasn’t that happy with them to begin with because you couldn’t taste the Nutella all that much. So of course I ate like three dozen of them.
  • The cleaning fairies still have not found my house.
  • Oh…Miss M left her pencil case at home. There will be tears. Even if (as I assume will happen) someone loans her a pencil.
Off to find coffee. (Or, as I like to call it in friendly company: COFFEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE)

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