Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking back on the Aughties...

What a difference 10 years makes.

When 2000 was ringing in, I was recovering from back surgery, still recovering from a bad breakup, 6 months into a new job practicing special education law, single and living in Atlanta.

This is what happened in the ensuing 10 years:

  • I went to Australia and Papua New Guinea, going below the equator for the first time in my life
  • I learned how to surf
  • I developed a talent for appellate oral argument
  • I did some knitting
  • The interest in surfing spurred me to take a trip to Costa Rica, where I met my husband
  • I got married
  • I left a comfortable life in Atlanta for the uncertainty of trying to set up shop in Hawaii
  • I had a baby
  • I tried (unsuccessfully) to run a small business
  • I left the uncertainty and isolation of Hawaii -- but also the sun and the surf and warm weather -- for a new life in Denver
  • I lost two of my grandparents
  • I had another baby
I can say for certain that life now is harder than it was 10 years ago. The choices that Jason and I made, in the name of seeking out adventure, have resulted in me less financially secure than I was 10 years ago. I'm more stressed out than I've ever been. I'm less certain about the future. These days I often feel like I'm hanging on by the barest of threads, just trying to wait it out until things get a little easier.

Sign of the times, I guess.

But, I love my husband. He is so different from me, but he is kind and sweet and funny. I love my children. They are beautiful and hilarious and adorable. I love my family, and their love for me keeps me going when times are tough. I have a roof over my head and food on my table and a decent job and I'm far better off than lots of other people these days.

Just gotta keep on keepin' on.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


My parents arrived the other day, and immediately things seem better.

I don't have tonsillitis -- I'm on my 9th day of antibiotics, and have had no improvement in my throat, so it's a virus of some sort. They've tested me for mono, but since I've had it before, it's unlikely that I have it again. So the doc thinks it's just a really crappy virus that's left me with night fevers and swollen lymph nodes and fatigue and aches and general feel-shittiness.

I am getting a little better every day, slowly but surely. My fever cycles are getting fewer and further between, and my sinuses aren't quite as swollen and irritated as they were, and there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

I've said it before, though, and I'll say it again. Sometimes I honestly don't know how I would function without my parents. My mother has done all of the laundry, taken over the grocery shopping and the cooking and the diaper changes. My dad takes Zeke with him to run errands and gives Josie bottles and holds her and talks to her. They don't let me get up to do anything. They don't let me pay for anything. They don't let me worry about anything.

"Sit! Sit! I'll do it!" one of them invariably yells when I start to get up to take care of something.

I thank them and thank them and tell them how much I appreciate their help.

"It's what parents do," they respond.

But I know alot of people who could use the kind of help I'm getting, and I know that alot of parents don't do what my parents do. Not that they don't love their children as much or anything like that. But they just don't think it's their job to be as involved, financially or otherwise, in the lives of their children. Or if they do offer assistance, it comes with lots and lots of strings.

I mean, for God's sake, all I have to do is look at Jason's family. His parents love him, but even when his mother came to visit, I could barely get her to engage with Zeke at all.

I know how lucky I am.

And I hope that as my children get older, I imbue them with the sense of comfort - of knowing that someone has your back - that I live with every day. That would be the greatest gift I could give them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The aches on Friday weren't just tiredness from working out too much. They were the initial signs that my body was going into full-on revolt against my current lifestyle generally, to wit, running ragged from dawn to dusk and getting no more than 3 hours of sleep per night.

So first I was achy. Then I was cold. Like, a bone-chilling, horrible cold that I couldn't shake no matter how many layers I put on and how many blankets I snuggled under. At one point I was wearing a short sleeved shirt, a long sleeved shirt, a fleece pullover and a wool sweater, in addition to two pairs of pajama bottoms, and I was under a down comforter, and I was freezing.

That began the cycle of freezing - roasting - sweating-off-a-fever that I started going through every 5 hours or so, and have been in ever since. Then the sore throat came on. Then the fever blister on my lip. Then the sinus problems. Then I started having other problems too disgusting to talk about, but suffice it to say that I have to have a follow-up with a proctologist. I've been to the doctor twice, I wake up with my clothes soaked with sweat every night, and I'm completely exhausted, not to mention completely disgusting to everyone except my children, who don't know any better.

Oh, and a snowstorm is hitting, so Jason is stuck in Vail.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that my parents have taken pity on me and are coming into town this weekend to take care of me and my children. Thank God for Mom and Dad.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"They're bigger than I expected"

Just for fun, and to lighten my own mood, I searched out the infamous SNL "Schweddy Balls" sketch. Even after more than 10 years, I think it is one of the funniest things ever to appear on that show, demonstrates Alec Baldwin's impeccable comic timing and delivery (not to mention his and his castmates' ability to keep a straight face), and is a perfect send-up of National Public Radio.



I'm having one of those days when I feel like I've been hit by a truck.  I've been doing a pretty intense exercise program, and while I'm not particularly sore anymore, I just feel achy.  I need a masseuse and a chiropractor.  

And I couldn't sleep last night.  Partly because I'm going through an insomnia cycle, partly because I was achy and couldn't get comfortable, and partly because Zeke's feet or ass were in my face most of the night.

Speaking of, Jason and I have completely lost control of bedtime.  Zeke used to go to bed easily and cheerfully, right at around 8 or 8:30.  Then it started creeping up to 9.  Then 9:30.  Oh, and he didn't want to sleep in his bed anymore.  He wants to sleep with us.

And most of the time, I'm so worn out that I don't have the energy for a battle, so I let him.

But it has to stop.  Tonight's going to be ugly, I fear, because the little monkey is in for a rude awakening.  I firmly believe in the child-rearing lesson taught to me by Kathleen:  you don't have to pick every battle, but if you pick it, you have to win.  

Well, Zekey, my love, I'm picking the battle.  Sorry, honey.

I dread bedtime.

And I'm heavy-hearted because a dear, dear family friend, one of my grandparents' best friends and a woman who I have known and loved my whole life, is not well.  I fear another trip to Detroit for a funeral may soon be in the cards, and it tears me up to think about it.

On the other hand, today is my brother Joshua's birthday.  Happy birthday, big guy.  I love you.

And happy weekend, all.  Maybe I'll get some rest and feel better soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

TMI Thursday: I guess I'm just that approachable, even when naked from the waist down. Wait, that came out wrong.

TMI Thursday

OK, folks, time for another TMI Thursday. Click the picture above to read more awesomely cringe-worthy TMIs courtesy of LiLu at In a strange kismet-y twist, Lisa at That's Why and I both have IUD stories today. Go figure.

So I have to start by saying that while I can be very social when I want to be, I don't really have this image of myself as the most approachable person in the world. My friends and family and people that know me know that you can come to me with any problem and I'll gladly talk to you and give you advice, and I'll keep everything confidential to the extent that you want me to, and I don't judge. But I'm sort of reserved with people I don't know all that well, so I'm always surprised when strangers chat me up and start telling me their deepest darkest secrets.

And yet, it happens pretty often, so maybe the bitch-mien that I think I'm projecting -- or maybe hoping I'm projecting, so people will leave me alone -- isn't really there at all. I don't know.

Anyway, this afternoon I was at my OB/GYN's office for a follow-up visit after getting an IUD put in four weeks ago (no more kiddos for me, thankyouverymuch). And I love my OB to pieces. She is easy to talk to and friendly and is a terrific doctor. Over the course of my pregnancy with Josie, she and I developed a really nice rapport, and would talk about our families and our lives in addition to just what was going on in my uterus.

So today when she started talking to me about an issue she is having with one of her employees, I was happy to listen and to offer my take on it, and even give her a little bit of legal-ish advice.

But she started the conversation while she was washing her hands getting ready to start her examination, continued it with her head in my crotch and my feet up in stirrups while looking at my cervix with a speculum in place, continued it further as she lubed up her hands with K-Y Jelly to poke around inside me while pressing on my abdomen at the same time, and finished it as I sat there, naked from the waist down, holding a little wipe-y thing that I was supposed to use to remove said K-Y Jelly from my cootchie. Except that I felt too awkward to reach down and wipe myself with her right there, so I just sat there, feeling all jellied and drippy as we finished our conversation.

Later on, as I was leaving, she said, "Wendy, thank you so much for talking to me about that issue. I feel much better about it, and I appreciate your advice."

"You're more than welcome. I hope it works out OK," I responded.

I just didn't know how to say, "Doc, I really like you so much, and I enjoy talking to you and am happy to help you out in any way I can. But would it have been so hard to wait to initiate the conversation until after I'd put my pants back on??"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Making progress, but just barely

When Zeke was about 9 weeks old, Jason and I went out together to his company's Christmas party.  We left Zeke in the very capable hands of one of his daycare teachers.  We trusted her completely and knew he was fine, and we didn't worry about him.

And on our first night out as adults in months, with the opportunity to dance and have a few drinks and just enjoy each others' company as married people ... we spent all of our time cooing over pictures of Zeke on Jason's cell phone.

It's been two years, and not much has changed.

The childrens' daycare does this great thing of having a parents' night out on the second Saturday of every month, meaning they will watch the children from 6 to 11 at night and give the parents an opportunity to have some time to themselves.  They charge a reasonable fee (less than I would pay a babysitter anyway for that amount of time), and the children are safe and sound with caregivers that are familiar to them (as well as being trained professionals).  

For various reasons, we haven't been able to take advantage of it for a few months, but this past Saturday we decided it was high time for a date night.

We dropped the children off -- Zeke skipped off to play with his friends without a glance back at us -- and headed over to the west side of town to have a scrumptious, leisurely dinner at Cafe Brazil.  Yummy wine, yummy food, yummy ambiance.  

Then we came back to our neighborhood and headed to PS Lounge, a funky local bar where every woman that comes in gets a rose and the owner walks around chatting people up and sometimes giving out free shots.  The jukebox is full of Billie Holliday and Frank Sinatra and Etta James and Elvis.  I had a dirty martini, Jason had a margarita, and we both had fun.

We talked about how nice it was to spend time together.  We talked about some movies we wanted to see.  We talked about current events.

But mostly, we talked about our children.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Breaking up is hard to do

My stomach feels kind of queasy from thinking about it.  

Should I do it over the phone?  Is that too impersonal?  Should I not say anything and be like that guy that dates a girl and then one day just stops calling?  

That guy's a dick.  I don't want to be that guy.

Breaking up with someone sucks.  

It's a bummer to be dumped, but I think sometimes it's even harder to do the dumping.  There's guilt over hurting the other person's feelings.  Will they be devastated?  Will they cry?  Will they turn it back on me and make me feel like an asshole?

But when you know that a relationship has run it's course, when you've given it every chance to succeed and it's obviously not working, it's time to bite the bullet.

I take a deep breath and steel myself.

I pick up the phone and make the call.
"Hi, this is Wendy."

"Hi, Wendy.  What can I do for you?"

"Well, I was in last week and Rita* cut my hair, and I feel terrible for saying this, but it just looks awful."

"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that!"

"Yeah, and she had already messed it up once, and I went back to her to get it fixed, but basically she gave me the same cut that I didn't like, only shorter.  So I need someone else to rescue it."

"No problem.  We will have one of our master stylists fix it for you, and we won't charge you, of course."
Sorry, Rita.  It's not me, it's you.

*not her real name

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same

When I got home from picking up the kids from school the other day, I was getting them out of their jackets and snowsuits and various cold weather paraphernalia (seriously, y'all, it's freezing here these days), when Zeke asked me for something.

"What do you want, honey?" I asked, not understanding him the first time.




I thought for a second. "You want a cookie?"

"Yes, please."

And I had to laugh. Because his pronunciation of "cookie" obviously comes from his teacher, who speaks perfect English, but with a Hispanic accent. It reminded me of one of my mother's favorite stories about me as a kid.

We were living in Venezuela, and I was about 4 and going to a Spanish speaking nursery school. My teachers were all Venezuelan and only spoke Spanish.

One day I came home from school and announced to my mother one day that I had learned "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," and proceeded to sing it for her.

I should have prepared her.

Or maybe she should have known and prepared herself, to avoid having to practically gnaw off the insides of her cheeks to keep from laughing in my face. Because here's how it came out:
Tween-kell tween-kell leee-tell e-staarrrr
'ow I wohn-dare what yoo aaaarrr...
What can I say, I had a multi-cultural upbringing...

Four years ago today

Four years ago today, Jason and I got married on a mountain top in Australia. It was beautiful and romantic and I was scared shitless.

And I think I was right to be. Anyone who doesn't enter into marriage with just a little bit of trepidation is either the luckiest bastard on the planet, or an idiot.

Marriage is hard, particularly when life is hard. And right now, life is hard. I'm by myself raising two kids during the week, and when I do get to see my husband, we're often so tired and stressed out that it's more like being roommates than like husband and wife. And as I've admitted, there are definitely times when my greatest fantasy is to be single and childless again, to have time to myself and not feel like I'm charged with taking care of absolutely fucking everything, not just for myself but also for everyone else in the house.

But that's the way of things. For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. My husband is a good man, a great husband and father, so different from me but so perfect for me.

So I guess I'll keep him.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It must have been Scary Yogurt Monster. Or something.

Zeke suffers from night terrors from time to time.  He'll start crying in the middle of the night and will thrash around, inconsolable and unresponsive to questions or efforts to comfort him.  He doesn't seem awake during these episodes.  He'll just cry and flail around for awhile (usually 10 minutes or so), and then, as suddenly as it starts, he'll calm down and go back to sleep.

The other night he was sleeping in between Jason and me (a horrible habit that I need to break, if only I had the stomach for the inevitable drama that would ensue).  At around 3 in the morning, he yelled, "No! No!!" and then yelled "Yogurt!"  He proceeded to cry and throw himself around the bed for 15 minutes.  

My first thought was, "what the fuck?"

"Do you want yogurt??" I asked incredulously.  He didn't respond, he just kept crying.  I knew that there was nothing to do but try to keep him from hurting himself.

Finally he calmed down, crawled over to me and said, "snuggle?"  His voice was all shaky and pathetic sounding.

"Sure, honey.  Come snuggle with Mama."  

"Sleep song?" he asked, referring to a lullaby that I sing to him most nights.

"Of course, baby."  

I wrapped my arms around him and sang softly for a couple of minutes until his breathing steadied.

I can't even begin to imagine what the hell is going on in his little 2-year-old brain.  But could someone please just wake me when he's 7 or 8, and relatively sane again?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

On the plus side, my baby brother is the shiz.

This is how my day has gone so far.  

I basically didn't sleep after 1:30 or so.  First Josie woke up to eat.  I fed her and put her back to bed.  Half an hour later, Zeke woke up with night terrors and it took me 45 minutes to calm him down.  I fell asleep for an hour or so, then Josie woke up to eat again.  She had a harder time getting back to sleep, so I kept jumping back and forth between my bed and her room to pat her on the butt or replace her pacifier.

The long and short of it is, I'm really tired. 

I managed to get the kids up and ready for school, but 5 minutes before we were set to leave, I called to Zeke that he needed to put on his socks and shoes, and he completely lost his mind.  Crying, throwing himself on the floor, rolling around, the whole 9 yards.  Josie had been sitting very calmly in her bouncy seat for 45 minutes, but felt the need to weigh in on the chaos, so she started to cry.

"Oh, yeah, I need to take my Zoloft," I thought to myself.

Then Jason called to inform me that his car was broken into and his satellite radio thingy was stolen.  And, oh yeah, he can't find his driver's license.  

And my mom is coming in tonight because we've got our big annual convention this week in Colorado Springs, so she's going to come look after the monkeys while I'm busy presenting and shmoozing and doing whatever else one does at these things.  And of course, the house is in shambles, so I need to go home during lunch to clean so that she doesn't realize I'm an incompetent shlub of an adult.

And we have no food in the house, no dishwashing soap and no laundry detergent.

But, when I got to work this morning and opened my email, I discovered that my brother Sam, who writes and performs under the nom-de-song The Flying Change, is doing a show in New York City on Thursday night, and was written up in The New Yorker.  

Which is pretty fucking cool.