Oh…to be in a cocoon

On this blustery, winter day, I’m wrapped up in my large duvet, trying to block out all the fighting and the fake gun shots (POW!  POW!), the million-and-one questions, requests and demands, just trying to find a quiet place to get in touch with my inner thoughts.  My cleaning lady quit and after the fifth (yes, FIFTH) load of laundry this weekend, I’m spent.

Incidentally, during one such load of (thank goodness) darks, when I went to put the washed clothes in the dryer I heard a *CLINK*…I ignored it.  Until I looked back into the washing machine and to my horror, found crayons…CRAYONS!!  So oh—my—GOD!!!!  Now I have to dig through half-wet clothes and turn out all the pockets because five loads of laundry were not a big enough chore?!  And if they find their way into the dryer…I’m screwed!!!!  WHO KEEPS CRAYONS IN THEIR POCKETS??!!

I know I shouldn’t blame them…they’re just kids.  They’re having fun.

And I can kind of see the humour in it.  I’m a horrible mother.  Why couldn’t I just turn their pockets inside out before I started the load?!  Ugh.  No matter now…

Crisis averted…I’m lulled into a false sense of accomplishment until I move onto the next:  cleaning “boy” toilets (eew), the kitchen sink, the floors, and dusting and I’m just about ready to admit failure again, abandon my intentions of becoming the best domestic there ever was and simply hire another cleaning lady.

duvetcoverFor goodness’ sake, in addition to all of the above, I’ve stripped the beds of all their sheets and mattress covers and, being a big believer of continuing education, I’ve even watched various online video tips for housework including one teaching an orgasmic, idiot-proof method of stuffing a duvet into its duvet cover!  Yes, this “new generation” of YouTube-ing everything and equating housework with emotional highs and true accomplishment is a new twist for me.  I’m SO PUMPED to try this out!

In truth, the video captivated me because it equated the method with a burrito roll and quite frankly burritos and I are super tight.  Like really tight.  Like Angie and Brad tight.  I can’t walk by a burrito and not eat it.  Chicken, beef, pork, veggies, cheese, eggs…put virtually anything in a burrito, hand it over and I’m in my happy place.  Add sour cream, some pico de gallo and that’s what I call orgasmic!

Incidentally, the idiot-proof method took much longer than my usual haphazard “Girl Fight” style of blindly stuffing my the duvet into the corners of the cover and now I’m upset with myself for having put so much faith into this fail-safe, quick, life-saving, orgasmic method.  Completely let down and feeling like I’ve been cheated on by a bad ex-boyfriend, in true homage to the burrito, I’ve rolled my idiot self up in my uncovered and totally naked, king-size duvet.

So back to where I started this entry, here I am, lying in fetal position; I’m desperately trying to drown out the wails, the complaints, the incessant questions and unrelenting complaints from my world.  I’m desperately trying to drown out my own wails, complaints and incessant questions and unrelenting complaints.  Like, “is this what a so-called balanced life is supposed to be like?” and, “I quit my job to be able to focus more on my family / personal life but I just can’t seem to find focus” and most of all, “is this what I went to graduate school for?!”

The thoughts swirl around me like an F5 tornado.  I can see all the different parts of my life but I can’t seem to catch any one.  Everything is a blur and in this total bewilderment I hear a tiny voice whisper, “give in”.  The blur morphs into a haze…and like a caterpillar waiting in its cocoon to turn into a graceful butterfly, I drift off into a blissful slumber, leaving the world behind…for now.

duvetcocoon

 

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Frenemies…a necessary evil?

I’m feeling a little vulnerable…coping with the dreaded Identity Crisis is hard…much harder than I actually thought.  Once again, after years and years (and years) at the same job doing the same thing and referring to myself in the same way, I am now charting my own course.  And while I figure out exactly what that is and where I will go, I feel discombobulated, disadvantaged and confused.  [As an aside, I take full responsibility for part of the “discombobulation” which stems from my particular A-D-D-like nature:  I have so many ideas, see so many possibilities, and have so many desires that it’s hard to pick just one!  While some may call this a lack of focus, I say…well, that’s probably quite true!]

I know in my heart of hearts that the decision I have made is the right one (not just for me but for my family), although it seems that today and at this moment my “self-sabotaging” nature has got the better of me.  For example, while I had hoped for a very smooth transition into my woman of the world or female conqueror being…instead, I feel more like that circa 1952, Betty Crocker baking, bon bon eating, woman of the house…and I put myself here!  Truth is, I know that’s not who I am – nor is it someone I could pretend to be – but the reality is that I went from one uphill battle to another…from working in a very male dominated industry with extreme expectations to altering the perception that just because I’m on my own and I’m at home doesn’t mean I’m now a “Lady of Leisure”!  (Not that it would be a bad thing…?)

I keep wondering…am I letting down the Lean-In generation?

With International Women’s Day coming up on March 8thhave I let down the entire female species? 

Here, in my new office (the local Starbucks), I am left with the thought that these sentiments are akin to the whole frenemy conundrum – yesterday I caught up on the latest Glee episode which centred around frenemies and complicated relationships. Frenemies…we can all point to one or two in our circles…and just in case, here’s a definition from Wikipedia (which I think is très apropos!)

“Frenemy” is a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” that can refer to either an enemy pretending to be a friend or someone who really is a friend but is also a rival.

For me, my frenemies have almost always fallen into the latter category.  I have been fortunate to have some of the most solid bunch of friends:  from my near and dears who challenge me and support me through life’s ups and downs, to my mom friends who have helped me tap into my inner nurturer and saved me from an unbreakable cycle of diapers and drama, to my work friends who are always up for a bitch session and a beer…like I said, I have been lucky.  But I’ve also been lucky – really lucky – to have had frenemies.

Frenemies can really make you feel small, unsure of yourself, and down.  Like try spending hours upon hours getting deflated balloonready (ok, maybe just minutes upon minutes as who am I kidding?  I can’t remember the last time I actually had hours to primp), picking that perfect outfit to go along with those brand new shoes which you know are KILLER statement pieces and will make any girl swoon and you show up and POOF.  You’ve been trumped.  Her shoes are more killer.  Her outfit, to die for.  Not a hair out of place, not a single nail chipped, not an unconfident bone in her body.  What’s worse – she’s totally oblivious to all of your effort at taking centre stage.  Fssssssss….like a deflating balloon whose fate is sealed, you try and endure.

But, frenemies have had their place in my life – and they certainly continue to.  They have fed my competitive nature, my need for rivalry, and my love of the game; they drive me to find that 10-letter word complete with a Q, X or Z with a triple word score, or fight tooth and nail to find a way to build hotels across Park Place and Boardwalk.

Without frenemies I perhaps wouldn’t have strived more, tried more, dared more and risked more.  Perhaps not right at those moments where I’d been defeated (while I was slinking in some corner wishing I could blend in with the drywall)…but definitely later.  They fed my dreams and desires and just when I had been ready to take myself out of the competition, they put me right back in.

I’ve often thought:  just stop competing.  Stop worrying and getting anxious about what you don’t have and focus on what you do.  Be present.  Be now.  Perhaps that works for some Zooey Deschanel-looking hipsters who are laid back and free spirited – but that’s not me.

With International Women’s Day right around the corner, I hope you will forgive this following imposition.  Let us women, all of us, agree to accept each other for who we are and the parts that we play.  There’s always so much to learn from everything…and every-ONE around you.

Besides, if I have frenemies, then I must be one too….onward and upwardTRUMP!  

onward and upward

Screw the weather…I’ll just make lemonade!

I AM SO SICK OF WINTER!  There, I said it.  And now I’ve joined the grumpy, bundled up masses just trying to get through the day without freezing off their a**es!   Generally, I love winter, love the snow, love the beauty of it…I even love the cold when I’m prepared for it as it utterly fascinates.  But today, at this time, I’m sick of it – let me explain…

Growing up in the desert (Saudi Arabia), has made me appreciate extremes.  For example, the heat in Saudi, is very similar to that of say, Vegas (if one makes it outside the casino) – unrelenting; like being a chicken cutlet in a 450 degree oven.  So for me, the arctic-like cold is also fascinating.  Without the appropriate protection, one can freeze to death.  And it is this danger that fascinates.  And this amazement that makes me realize that I’m so small – my problems, are so small – and that life is a precious and privileged thing.

Six_Emperor_PenguinsWhile I’ve reveled in these thoughts of puniness, and insignificance, and relished in the bigger picture (i.e. boys stop fighting don’t you realize that the climate outside is colder than where the penguins in that movie live?!  That shut them up…) I’m now completely in the present.  And my problems don’t seem puny or insignificant for I have discovered a hole in my boot.  Not a metaphor…but a real hole in my boot.  And NOT one that is obvious either. NO.  Just a tiny, small crack that for the past 2 weeks has been the source of perplexity…

It’s hard to think of the wonder, the greater, the bigger and the larger when you have a hole in your boot!  I bought these boots that are supposed to insulate and protect – to shield me from the cold.  And now that my defenses are down, my problems have become the wonder, the greater, the bigger and the larger.  The solution should be simple…buy a new pair of boots.  In February, however, every store window has succumbed that winter has overstayed its welcome and so I’m met with “oh, sorry ma’am, we sold out weeks ago” more times than I care to share and “did you check out our new cruise wear?”   Say what?!

I have an “I want it all” attitude.  And this attitude has fuelled many a decision – one in particular which I will divulge in the coming weeks (stay tuned!)  Just this past weekend, while having dinner with some friends I was asked, “Do you prefer it when your mascara fans out your lashes or makes them thicker?”  To which I responded, “Why can’t I have both?”

If I can’t have it all, why am I willing to write it all off?

As a self-defense mechanism, I frequently decide that something is just not worth having / pursuing / getting when that very thing is no longer exactly as envisioned.  For example – I covet a particular bag.  It’s absolutely fantastic in the window.  Then when I go to visit said bag, it has a funny zipper, or the hardware is silver (and not gold) or the cross-body strap does not adjust and is fit for an amazon instead of 5 foot, four-and-a-half-inches-on-a-good-day, me.  And instead of being upset about how things just didn’t work out, I toss it aside and move on.  So, if I can’t be insulated, well protected and shielded, am I prepared to just toss aside winter?

Here’s where my thinking has lead me:  it’s not worth the negativity.  I need to get over it as it’s not the end of the world.  It’s just winter – not the cause of all problems.  And it’s not going anywhere…at least not right now (especially according to the science that is Groundhog Day…wha?!)  While I’m not at all prepared for the 8 (or so) weeks of winter that remain, I may as well succumb – like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day – I need to move on.  So, snow boots or no snow boots, I will stop worrying about the little things and instead focus on what is possible – like a little more skiing and hanging out in the bright sunshine.  Like making lemonade out of lemons…a tasty delight…or perhaps a pink lemonade cocktail…now that would be more apropos!

Pink lemonade cocktail

Funky blues…Part II

A week has gone by, and I still can’t shake the blues…but at least it looks like we’re actually going to be on time today.  Kids are dressed and fed, bags are packed for school, and just as we go outside to load everyone up in the car…DISASTER! Oh. My. God. There is rotten food everywhere…I forgot to close the garage door last night and raccoons got into my green bin!! GROSS!!!

A quick clean up later I’m thinking, crisis averted, when up the driveway comes my cleaning lady. My existing cleaning lady – the one that keeps rearranging all of my stuff; the one that keeps breaking things in my house; the one I’m putting off letting go because I’ve never “fired” anyone in my life.  I wasn’t expecting her!  Especially since I am actually trying out a new cleaning lady…TODAY!!! And who is set to arrive any minute! What to do now???!!! I blurt out, “Oh…hi! I wasn’t expecting you today.  But…ummmm….great.  Go ahead inside, I’ll just be a minute.”  Quick, send text. No response. Call….pick up, pick up, pick UP!! “Hi, it’s me.  I’m so sorry, part of our roof fell off last night and I really don’t feel comfortable having you come here while they work to put it back on.  Us?  Oh, geez, we’re fine…thank you for asking.  I will pay you, for sure, I’m so, so sorry! See you next week.  Thank you so much.  OK, bye.”

Before you judge…part of the roof DID fall off last week (some trim thingy) and tomorrow a roofer IS going to come and put it back on…so…not a lie…just a stretch??

I hop in the car with the rest of the gang who have now (thank goodness) offered me a ride to the subway.  Purse?  Check.  Spare bag with shoes?  Check.  Latte?  Checkity, check, check! Things are starting to go my way…I think I’m going to shake this funk after all…I mean, what a comedy of errors this morning, right?  And I survived.

This subway is disgusting.  It is crowded and hot.  I hope I don’t almost faint again.  Focus…perhaps I should turn off Zero Dark Thirty and just stare at the ground – somehow torture scenes seem too akin to what I feel like I’m going through right now.  Hmmm…why don’t they have the AC on? OUCH!!! What the…OUCH!!!!!  Some totally oblivious woman has not only just stomped on my foot with her big, high-tech sneakers but when I turned to see what was going on, she clocked me with her giant backpack.  And now there’s a medical emergency and I’m stuck here??? Oooofff. Funkity, funk, funk!

It’s eight hours later…I did make it to work, had a not-so-productive day evaluating my life again and managed not to cover myself with my lunch this time – so all in all, not so bad.

And now I’m at my son’s baseball game (which I signed him up for as a way to at least cross one more item off my list). We’ve been in our neighbourhood for close to five years and this is a great way to get involved – and yes, this new-ish environment will be just as tricky for me as it will be for him…I just wish I wasn’t in such a funk…

I look around…there’s a group of women who seem like they’ve been on this circuit for years: they have their folding chairs, their travel mugs and hunter boots (on this unseasonably cold and rainy Tuesday evening I am wearing a thin t-shirt and converse and willing the sun to come out) and they appear more interested in comparing notes over their latest acquisitions, recipes and social agendas. I swear that if I were to look closely enough at the grass by their feet I would see tiny little brass plaques denoting their respective, individual plots of land at the park – undoubtedly passed down for generations.  I know this because I got the “once-over” when I was carrying our gear to “their territory” so I did a quick 180 and changed course…I’m too funking drained to deal with this…

But…oh no.  I’ve now wound up with the really nice and inclusive group.  You know these people – they are overly sweet and complimentary.  They want to know every little detail about you and where you come from, seem oblivious to the fact that you only met five seconds ago, and for some reason, believe that you are just as interested in every detail about their lives: “We’ve been at this league forever!  You’ll love it!  We live right over there…see my house?  What about you?  What street?  What number?  My son, X, has been playing for the past two years but just look at him, he can’t focus or listen – X!! PAY ATTENTION TO THE COACH!!!!! – I swear that child is going to be the end of me.  You know, he won’t eat any vegetables??!! What do I do? You must have some ideas?  Which one is yours???” Oh boy.

So now I’m sitting by the dugout. This really is the best spot anyway – near all the kids and I can really get into the game.  Little-by-little I’m feeling not funkadelic anymore, but bewildered.  I’m trying to figure out how I got here.  And how I’ve let my funk dictate so many of my moves…like not making an attempt to get to know some of these people, or worrying about the consequences of each and every decision I’ve made up to this point, or the consequences of each and every decision I have to make hereafter.

I look up and start to really watch.  To my surprise, I notice that my son has joined, I mean really joined, his team without hesitation.  He’s talking to all the other kids and having the best time. He got thrown into a situation he knew nothing about, or had control over, and is doing just fine.

As the innings progressed, I found I was enjoying myself and letting go of all of my other wonderings…the noise in my head grew quieter as it was replaced with cheers, squeals and my favourite, the crack when the ball connects with the bat.  Then, to my utter astonishment, the game has ended and I am being congratulated by the coaches: “Your son had the hit of the game!” And all of a sudden, I knew that we had accomplished what buying a new pair of shoes could ever achieve…I was out of the “spin-cycle”…for now.