February 28, 2010

Books Read in February

This month I read five books (along with countless other parts of books). Instead of lumping the list in with my big ol' summary of the month post, like I did last month, I figure I'd post my book list separately.

Here's what I read this month, along with a short review:

1) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson - Wow, what a way to start off the month. This is a story of a high school girl who has become an outcast. It's obvious that she's been through something traumatic, and because of that, she spends much of the story refusing to speak. There were many similarities to Some Girls Are, which I read last month, but overall, I liked this one better. It's a phenomenal book, and Anderson is a fantastic writer.

2) Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan - If you like pictures with your books, then you simply must read something by Shaun Tan. This book contains a series of vignettes which are always accompanied by Tan's amazing illustrations. There are meditations on what happens to unread poetry, stories about stick figures, and journeys to the edge of maps. I love Tan's surrealist tendencies. His book The Arrival is wonderful as well.

3) Please Stop Laughing at Me... by Jodee Blanco - This is a memoir of the author's firsthand experience of being bullied from elementary school through high school. Because of what she went through, Blanco automatically becomes a sympathetic character. Even so, this book didn't illuminate much for me. And that is probably because I was very put off by Blanco's quite ordinary and sometimes boring writing style. I felt that she was telling me everything but I never really was shown anything. I never really understood why she was bullied so badly. And honestly, sometimes I found her annoying. (This is coming from someone who was bullied, although not nearly as badly as Blanco was.) Her story is just so subjective, and Blanco spends a lot of time in the book just moralizing. A quick read, but not really a compelling one.

4) Madapple by Christina Meldrum - Okay, this book is weird. It's supposedly YA, but it contained so much heavy subject matter that I can't help but feel a little weird about teenagers reading it. On the other hand, maybe it's a good thing for teens to have access to such a strange story. Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. It's very well written and researched. The story is pretty compelling. I felt at times that the author, like Dan Brown in The DaVinci Code, was really trying to show off how much research she'd done for the book. Some of the religious exposition was annoying because it was so obviously exposition. Again, I'm one for showing, not telling. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

5) Leaflets by Adrienne Rich - Adrienne Rich is one of my most favorite poets. Even so, I haven't read anything by her in years, which is a crime. In my overly emo state, I decided that reading some poetry was just what I needed. So I picked up this book, which I read about 10 years ago and loved. I sailed through it in less than a day. And wow. It's still an amazing collection of poetry, still as relevant to me today as it was when I read it back during my Great Depression.

So far I'm right on track with my reading goals for the year. 10 down, 50 to go!

February 25, 2010

Me, Today

Today when I woke up, I was so tired that the world didn't even feel real.

I thought for sure that today was going to be a repeat of last Thursday, and I didn't want that, so I made it my goal to make things different.

And I did.

We made it to baby storytime.

We went out to lunch.

We went to the park with Becki and Luke.

I got Charlie home just in time for his afternoon nap.

He was asleep when I put him down, but he sure didn't stay that way.

It was about that time when I realized that I hadn't seen Mao in awhile.

So I went on a search while Charlie rolled around restlessly in his crib.

Charlie's uncle Paul even came over to help.

We searched every nook and cranny inside and outside.

I thought for sure that she had gotten out of the house on accident and that we wouldn't ever see her again.

But just as we were getting Charlie ready to go for a search around the neighborhood, Paul spotted Mao slouching around in the hallway.

I still have no idea where she was that whole time.

I'm just so grateful she's still around.

Crazy cat.

That was our cue to run to the grocery store and get a few things.

On the way home, Charlie finally fell asleep.

He'd been up for about eight hours straight at that point.

He's a good kid, but damn, he can be stubborn.

So I put him to bed at 6:00 PM.

I've been unwinding ever since.

Today was good, despite the Mao scare and Charlie's lack of an afternoon nap.

I'm glad for the good days.

I'm scared for the bad ones.

I'm learning what to do when I feel the darkness begin to smother me.

But I will never for a second believe that I have control over this thing.

I do think that I will gain the upper hand in time, though.

First, I need sleep.

Because I'm still so tired that the world doesn't even come close to feeling real.

Good night.

February 23, 2010

A Few Words About Spring

Even though the groundhog saw his shadow, there are definite signs that spring is on its way. And I couldn't be happier. I normally love Southern California winters, but this one has been hard. I'm ready for a change. I'm craving sunshine and warmth. Not too much warmth, but just enough to drive the darkness out of my heart.

How's that for dramatic?

Lots of yellow flowers have popped up all over my neighborhood within the last week or so. They make me smile. I've always loved flowers and springtime. When I was little, I used to pick flowers for my mom. We had a big field where wildflowers would grow, and it made me so happy to bring a big bunch of them home to her. That field of flowers is one of my happiest childhood memories.

When we were in Texas for Christmas, I went through my mom's photos for the eleventy-billionth time. Instead of leaving them behind, I brought them back with me to scan so I can have access to them, too. But that is a big, huge, emotional project to take on right now. So many of them are from happier, simpler times.

Like these.

I'm sure you can guess that the little blondie is me, and the boy wearing the Superman shirt is my brother. There we are with my mom and dad. Back before my dad got sick and everything changed.

I look at these pictures and I feel like my heart may explode. I can so clearly see what we lost. None of us had any idea what was going to happen. But that's the way life is. It's like Nate told Claire in the finale of Six Feet Under.

You can't take a picture of this; it's already gone.

The flowers are gone, too. They don't grow in that field anymore.

Feelin' the Love

Kari was nice enough to bestow upon me the Beautiful Blogger Award. Thanks, Kari!

I'm supposed to share seven random things about myself. Here goes...

1) I sometimes read old posts of mine and am horrified by how awful the writing is. I consider myself to be a decent writer, but apparently I'm not always.

2) I am making a bucket list, or a life list if you prefer. It's surprisingly hard to do. But it's also really motivating to write down your dreams. I'm a firm believer in the act of writing things down, because once it's there, it's real, it's concrete, and it's time to do something about it. I will share when I'm done. I've been at it for quite awhile now.

3) Out of all the five senses, my sense of smell is the strongest. You'd think it'd be vision, right? But nope, my nose knows.

4) Despite #3, I am a complete and total mouthbreather. Always have been. I don't really know why, but it's hard for me to breathe through my nose. And I'm stuffy a lot. I'm sure I have some undiagnosed allergies that I should probably get checked out, but I'm afraid that I'll find out I'm allergic to cats. Which would totally break my heart because I love my kitties, even though they are the biggest pains in the ass.

5) I have a razor-sharp long term memory. I was once in the Nutcracker when I was twelve, and I still remember most of the choreography. And yet I can't find my phone. Or my iPod. Or my keys. And I sure as hell can't remember if I paid the gas bill. No, really. I can't find my phone or my iPod or my keys. And I really can't remember if I paid that bill. I'm not saying those things to be funny. It's truuuuuuuuuuuuue.

6) Roy bought a box of 36 Reese's peanut butter cups (two in a package, so 72 total) on Thursday when I got a real case of the crazies. Guess how many packages are left? ONE. Guess how much I care? Not at all.

7) I am drawn to tragedy. Honestly, I'm not sure why I continue to torture myself by reading such sad stories. I guess it's good to be reminded of our fragility, but seriously. When it comes to really young kids like Layla and Hunter, I don't need to be reminded. It is so completely unfair for these children to be so sick and for their parents to have to watch them die. I hate it. And yet I keep reading. And I offer my words of support when they need them most. I think you should do the same. Because both of these children are soon going to pass away, and you know their parents are heartbroken. Click on the links. Show them some love.

So those are my seven random things. And I don't normally give awards to people because I don't want anyone to feel left out. But I would like to say a rousing thank you for your support. You guys are amazing. You're all beautiful bloggers to me! Even if you don't blog. And if you don't blog, why? Better get on it. I'm waiting!

February 22, 2010

I hate Blogger.

No, really. I do. I'm almost considering making a move to WordPress.

Anyway, I'm doing some housekeeping here on the ol' blog. You'll see I added a blog roll - it is SO easy to do now! If I left you off, let me know and I'll add you.

I figured out how to add the date to the top of my posts and how to get my post titles to stop yelling. All caps sucks! Now I have to work on other random things. Why are the links in my blog roll all in bold? Why are the titles of things in the sidebar in all caps? Why do I all of a sudden want to change how I label my posts?

Yikes. Looks like I'll be at this all night.

17 Valentine Memories

I wanted to do a post like this for Christmas, and I still may (if I ever get off my emo ass and go through my holiday photos). For now, though, here's a list of our most precious Valentine weekend memories.

1) I did a photo shoot of my friend Becki and her two guys, husband Andy and cutie patootie son Luke.

2) We went to Old Town San Diego for the first time. I was in such a rotten mood when we first got there because 1) I was exhausted and Charlie would not nap in the hotel room, and 2) I was starving. Charlie took a brief nap in the stroller while we walked around and I stuffed my face full of banana and all was right with the world.

3) While we were in Old Town, we had dinner with Becki, Andy, and Luke. The host told us, after we were already seated, that it would be about 20 to 30 minutes before someone came to take our order. We were all like "WTF?!" but we sheepishly agreed that it was okay. The food was mediocre. The company was awesome.

4) It was in Old Town that a lamp post grew out of Roy's head.

5) We stayed in the cheapest hotel we could find and laughed our asses off at the garish bedspread.

6) Someone down the hall from us had this sign stuck on their door. Long live Astroglide!

7) Charlie slept through the night for pretty much the first time ever that Saturday night. In a strange hotel room. I was shocked. I have no photos of this. I think a photo of a margarita is a good substitute.

8) On Valentines Day morning, we gave Charlie his gift, the Baby Love book that was used in this photo.

My mom always gave us little gifts for each holiday, and it's a tradition that I always loved. We're going to keep doing it with our own kids.

We also gave Charlie this little pop-up card. I'm big on cards. Like huge. There is nothing better than a card with a note written inside.

9) Even though we said we weren't going to give each other gifts, Roy totally tricked me and got me two nerdy gifts: a Moleskine and a book light. Oh, and a card, my favorite, with a sweet message written inside. He picked out this one because the two kids were going on a trip, just like us.

10) For Valentines Day, we dressed Charlie in an adorable red velour sleeper. He was so cute in it.

11) After checking out of our hotel, we went to the University of San Diego, which caught our eye because it is just so beautiful. We walked around and took some photos. Mass was just letting out and the nuns were outside selling random religious books. I'm not religious at all, but I couldn't resist buying this book.

12) From the university, we went to Balboa Park. Almost immediately we came across a big display of original artwork. We found a print we loved for Charlie and bought it. I'm too lazy to take a picture of it, though. Look at this instead!

13) We hung out in the grass for awhile.

14) There were some amazing performers out that day. My favorite was this guy, who played the didgeridoo.

15) I decided to do some shooting from the hip and caught some great images.

Fountains. There's not a damn thing about 'em that I don't love.

16) We spent some time in the Museum of Man.

17) Around 4:00, we packed up and called it a day. As we rolled into our neck of the woods, this song came on and I sang down to the depths of my black, withered heart.

It was a lovely weekend trip, and I am so happy that Charlie's first Valentines Day was filled with the things we love most, especially each other. We are broke mofos, and we never have a surplus of money. But we have fun. Nothing else matters.

February 21, 2010

Top Tune #11

This song came up on my iPod today and it hit me like whoa. I've posted about it before, but I don't think I really understood what this song meant to me until today. I love how dark it is, but underneath all of that despair lies hope. It was a good thing for me to hear at this point in my life. I think it may even be my new anthem.

I have an appointment to see the doctor (well, her nurse practitioner, actually) on Tuesday. On Thursday, I finally realized how sick I am of all the ups and downs. Things have gotten remarkably worse since the first of the year. I do think I know what's going on, and I'm sure you all can guess what it is as well, but I feel like someone has my heart in the tightest grip ever and I don't want to say those words. I don't want it to be that thing.

I'm scared. I'm sad. But more than anything, I'm exhausted. And if this is indeed what I think it is, I'm going to need mega-help to make it through.

Calendar Girl by Stars

if I am lost for a day
try to find me,
but if i don't come back
then i won't look behind me.
all of the things i thought were so easy
just got harder and harder each day.

december is darkest,
and june is the light.
but this empty bedroom won't make anything right.
and out on the landing
a friend i forgot to send home
who waits up for me all through the night.

calendar girl, who's in love with the world
stay alive
calendar girl, who's in love with the world
stay alive

i dreamed i was dying
as i so often do;
and when i awoke
i was sure it was true.
i ran to the window
threw my head to the sky,
and said whoever is up there, please don't let me die

i can't live forever.
i can't always be.
one day i'll be sand on the beach by the sea;
the pages keep turning, i'll mark off each day with a cross
and i'll laugh about all that we've lost.

calendar girl, who is lost to the world
stay alive
calendar girl, who is lost to the world
stay alive

January Febuary March April May, I'm alive
June July August September October, I'm alive
November December, yeah all through the winter
I'm alive
I'm alive

February 18, 2010

Me, Today

Charlie woke us up around 5:30 AM. I think this was the third day in a row.

So I started the day off exhausted.

I gave Charlie his breakfast and while he played, I read this article (thanks for sending it to me, Kari). It got me pretty teary; the comments got me pretty angry.

While Charlie took his morning nap, my weary bones sank into bed and I slept pretty lightly.

Because when Charlie woke me up, by screaming, I felt like I hadn't slept at all.

I felt like shit. Complete, utter, I've-been-run-over-by-a-truck shit. Tired and with a headache from hell.

But I looked at the time and realized that we could make it to baby storytime at the library. I figured it would be just the thing to perk me up. Charlie loves it.

So I rushed around getting ready, without showering, and I managed to get us in the car in plenty of time.

I decided to go through the Del Taco drive-thru and get a Dr. Pepper. Yeah, I know I gave up the stuff, but with how I was feeling today, fuck that.

The guy in line in front of me was having issues ordering so it took for-fucking-ever to get through the damn line.

When I pulled into the library parking lot, all the free spots were taken.

I stood in line to get a parking permit for-fucking-ever. Once I realized that baby storytime was halfway over, I said, "Fuck it" and drove us to In-n-Out.

I got a double double combo and came home and inhaled it.

Meanwhile I fed Charlie and it was while I was feeding him that I just burst into tears.

I just felt so drained. And tired. And overwhelmed.

I sent Roy a mildly hysterical text.

Next I called my mom and left a voicemail.

Then I called my mother-in-law.

She answered. I unloaded. We talked for an hour.

And I felt so much better. (Thanks, Patty!)

I knew all would be okay. I'd put Charlie down for his afternoon nap and take a nap myself. Then I'd shower. We'd go run some quick errands and then take a walk up the mountain.

But Charlie didn't feel like falling asleep.

For over two hours, I tried to get him to nap.

I finally gave up and we went to run our errands.

Of course, he fell asleep in the car on the way home.

Roy had come home early so he came and sat in the car with me.

And again those tears came and I just admitted to him that I am just nothing but highs and lows these days.

I want so badly to balance out and some days I think I've achieved it.

But I feel like I have more bad days than good ones.

There is so much going on right now.

My dad is sick.

I'm stressing over my thesis.

I'm stressing over beginning to charge for my photography.

I miss my mom.

I relive my birth experience every single day.

I am tired.

I am trying to get into better shape.

I am lonely.

I don't know if I am cut out for this stay-at-home mom gig.

I sometimes feel like I don't know who my friends are.

I feel so isolated.

I love being a mom, and it is truly the best thing I've ever done.


I am still me.

A person, a woman, a writer, a photographer.

Not just a mother.

I wonder every single day if there is something wrong with me.

Is it possible that I need some happy pills?

Am I normal?

Why do I feel like this?

I am so anxious and overwhelmed.

And sad. I am sad.

But happy, too.

I have many moments of pure and incomparable joy.

I recognize the blessings in my life.

I just wish that life made more sense.

Because just when I think I've got it figured out, I don't.

And so that's why today I started the self portrait project I've been wanting to do.

I figure that maybe the best therapy is taking a picture of myself as I am, not as I wish to be.

So today I am unwashed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Not very pretty. My bangs have sprouted wings. But hopefully you appreciate my red bra strap. Not to mention the expletives scattered throughout this post.

What are you today?

February 17, 2010

Life is a funhouse.

We went to San Diego this past weekend. I have a post planned out that's dedicated to the trip, which I'll hopefully get to in the next couple of days.

On the way there, Roy asked me if I ever wished I could go back and do things differently. I thought about it and then came to the conclusion that I wish I had not been so stupid about some things (mostly guys), but having been stupid about them then has made me infinitely more confident and less likely to put up with bullshit now. From anyone, not just stupid boys.

You know, all that learning from your mistakes crap, having no regrets, blah blah blah.

So I started thinking about my life. And I've been through some stuff in the course of my thirty years. Some mega-hard shit. Some things I've done or experienced literally make me cringe.

But as I looked over myself and what I've experienced, I've realized one thing:

I've had so much fun.

I must keep this in mind the next time someone is pissing me off: that in a few years or months or days or even hours, I'll look back and remember how fun life can be despite all the idiots in the world.

(PS - All those photos were taken in about a year's time, back when I was still employed at the job from hell. Living proof that you can still smile and act stupid even as your soul is being sucked into the vortex of corporate America.)