Mid-week slump

IMG_3255

There’s really nobody in the office this week. This lawn gnome is keeping me company.

It’s Wednesday, and 5 out of 6 of us are home. My stepsons got out of school early for finals week, FJ is sick, and Martin and I are home because FJ being sick meant we didn’t sleep enough last night.

I’m staring out the window at a tree like it’s going to tell me how to salvage the day.

Look, I do a lot- so I’m not positive why I’m berating myself- except that I should be putting in a solid 8 hours of work-work today and there just isn’t that much to do with most of the office already on Christmas break.

And I have this crawling feeling like something is escaping me, and I’m not actually on top of anything and I shouldn’t relax. Maybe that’s just a testament to how the year has gone.

Things went unhinged (again) with my stepkids’ mom back in April, and we’ve had full custody of them since April. Stepkidsmom is bipolar, but, like my sister, she also has schizophrenic episodes too. She was in a fully manic state throughout most of the early spring, but even after being arrested and placed in a mental health facility, she wouldn’t take medication. Fast forward to July and (after some other brushes with “the law”) she got herself arrested at 3 in the morning.

Her dad had frozen access to the retirement fund he has for her, because she’d blown through so much money in a week. She threatened him with a knife and got herself arrested for second degree aggravated assault (a felony, if you’re counting).

I can still see the faces of my stepkids when my husband broke the news to them. Resignation- a combination of “what now?” and “of course”. She was in Harris County jail from July on.

Mental illness runs in my family too. Manic depression (as Emily Martin prefers to call it) runs in my family. This could easily be any of the 4 kids I take care of- my biological kids, and my stepkids.

Stepkidsmom hasn’t gotten better, as she still is refusing medication (with the exception of melatonin to sleep). She thinks she’s fully rational. Her father finally bailed her out of jail a few days ago, for Christmas, but all that did was introduce chaos into all of our lives- she texts my stepsons, she texts my husband. We have to compartmentalize in order to deal with the situation (them much more than me).

Stepsons don’t want to see her, which is heartbreaking, but understandable.

Meanwhile, we’ve tried to preserve my stepsons’ relationship with their maternal grandfather. He comes over on Mondays to make dinner with them, and he picks them up from school every day (even though I could do so).

Imagine how awkward it would be to have your ex-father-in-law over for dinner weekly. It’s not much less awkward having your husband’s ex-father-in-law over. But he’s a really sweet person, and it is genuinely very important to me that his daughter’s state not rob him of his relationship with the grandsons he so clearly adores.

So.

She has a competency hearing in January. In the meantime, who knows? My anxiety disorder doesn’t like when she’s “on the loose”. I don’t want one of us to be the next to have a knife pulled on us.

My aunt did that to my dad when he was little.

Anyway,
It’s almost Christmas, and I THINK we might be killing it on the “keeping things normal / keeping things merry / giving the kids a good Christmas” front. And I’m whisking everyone off to Pennsylvania for a week after Christmas, where we’ll be safe for a while.

Advertisements

My part of Houston loves gaslighting

Bougie Memorial house

The above house is pretty much the template for new expensive Houston houses. In the swamp, we like brick. And we like gas lanterns because… the South. 

Sales pitch: Are you ready? This one’s just going to be introspective hand-wringing and therefore might be the most boring thing you’ll read today. 

Stepson #1 (A.) had a tennis party to go to last night- “Tennisgiving” they called it because… tennis+Thanksgiving. And I should have known that whomever offered to host would have a BFH (big f’ing house). They always do.

But I Google Street viewed it, and was pleasantly surprised to see a wee little ranch house (I call them grandparent houses, because in many neighborhoods, the only ones that haven’t been torn down for a McMansion are owned by the elderly.) When we pulled up, I saw that the grandparent house had VERY recently been leveled and, yep, replaced by a McMansion complete with the flickering gas lanterns beloved by southern bougies.

“I want a rich friend.” C. exclaimed.

In their school district, they probably have several already. There’s certainly money to be had in Houston, albeit much of it is the “live well while the world burns” variety. But our house is not in their school district (where the money is)– they’re zoned from their mom’s house, which made a lot more sense logistically years ago, and still makes sense from a “that’s the better school district” perspective.

So desirable is Memorial/Spring Branch, that it is among the places in Houston where people choose to buy up the tiny lots and build McMansions with no yards.

But I digress.

I liked these people’s house. It was very on-trend. I liked their bougie gas lanterns, though I make fun of EVERYONE needing to have those. I hated that they had Christmas decorations up already, including two gaudy Christmas trees (can’t buy taste!)

Mostly I hate how it made me feel. Like, if I’m playing this game where money is why I do things, I need to win it. Because I always need to win everything. Even though I like my quirky house, and I like that it needs renovation so that I get to do it. And I genuinely love home decorating.

I think part of it is that at age 40 (in 2 days), I feel like I’m just starting out and that I’m horribly behind the curve in life. Never mind the amazing adventures I’ve had- OTHER people are mid-career.

Having two kids ages 14 and 12, and then two who are 2 means that I’m constantly crossing worlds, between established folks and young families just trying to manage the drama of small children.

Who do I want to be as an adult?

I don’t want my uncertainty to keep manifesting as disdain towards these people whom I’ve never met. I don’t really feel disdain. I feel like I’m still finding my way.

I think I need to read this book, just for the title: What if This Were Enough?

***

p.s. Somewhere along the line I signed up for notification of incoming UPS deliveries. Yesterday I got notice that I am going to be receiving two UPS packages from a law firm today.

The problem with being anxious is that I’ve spent the past 24 hours preparing to find out that M or I have done something horribly wrong and been sued. I can’t think of what this horrible thing would be – but the only interaction I’ve had with the legal system in my life has been our current custody filings. Oh, and the time my ex-roommate took me to small claims court for moving out of our apartment early (underscoring why I wanted to move away from her). I go out of my way to avoid trouble.

I think by the time you read this, I’ll know what the stupid packages are.

A literal p00pshow

Walking with the twins

We spotted 4 alligators during our Sunday walk in Brazos Bend State Park with M’s family

It’s been a strange week and my rhythm is off. Work meetings prevented me from both yoga and barre class, which help me to feel less like a desk-blob. The election. Toddlers. Not sleeping well….

This morning I was changing CW’s diaper when FJ approached me:

“I wanna go on a walk.”

Well actually, first he said he wanted to go Trick or Treating, which thrilled me. He liked it this year! 2.5 marks the beginning of a fun time in our Halloween lives. Anyway, I reminded him that he needed to get dressed for school first.

The next thing I knew, there was a turd on my kitchen floor.

FJ had decided to wriggle out of his pants and diaper- but he’d pooped. And as he’d pulled the diaper down he’d rubbed it all down his legs before “dumping it” on the floor.

“Is that my poo poo on the floor?” he asked me, as he stood there covered in it.

I laughed. M thinks it’s a good sign that I didn’t lose my… shit. Honestly, I was too tired.

I’ve been waking up at about 5am and tossing and turning for a while. I want to be asleep, but I’m not. So today I’m feeling a mix of incompetent, ambivalent, and cranky about everything.

And my 40th birthday is less than a week away, but this year my strategy has been to pretend it isn’t happening, for some reason. M and I are going to California so I can give a presentation (that I haven’t written yet), and I sort of assumed a hasty getaway was all the present I could ask for. Plane tickets to Silicon Valley sure aren’t cheap!

At one point I made a list of things I wanted for my birthday. It included a massage at Dolce Vita, to get our bedroom painted (finally), and new bath towels that I’d picked out. And it included gathering with friends in some way.

Instead, I have been paralyzed on all fronts. I feel like I sit around a lot of the time, telling myself I’m about to spring into action, but instead I just pick off “quick wins” on my to-do list all day.

More soon. Earlier today, I mulled over visiting my stepsons’ mom in jail (she’s still in jail, and has been since early July), but I came to the same conclusion that I always do- it would be weird for everyone. Yeah, I know I can’t just drop that as the last sentence here and run away, but that seems to be my m.o. this week. I’ll tell you about the jail thing some other time.

No, YOU’RE awkward

I don’t often wear skirts, but when I do, I don’t know what to wear under them. Bare legs = no good. Everything indoors in Houston is way too air conditioned, and I have these weird residual feelings from growing up WASPy that skirts without “panty hose” are immodest. Tights are no good- they ride up and down. But they keep me from flashing someone while failing to sit like a lady.

So here I am, post-lunch drowsy despite the irresponsible amount of coffee I’ve downed.

Since I just started blogging again, maybe I should reintroduce myself? Hi, I’m Liz. I started this blog while living in Japan and needing somewhere to get my thoughts out in English. Then I maintained it, mostly to vent/whine while going through my grad-school induced divorce. Then I got re-married and got two stepsons. Then I had twins and, well, damned if I didn’t try to keep this thing updated. But while trying to work a full-time job, teaching part-time on top of that, and wrangling 4 kids, I kinda fell off the bandwagon. When we took over full custody of my stepsons, blogging became more of a pipe dream (so did showering and… makeup?). From 0 to 4 kids in 3 years? Intense.

Anyway.

I decided to blog again because I’ve got a lot of pent up anger. As far as I can tell, this anger comes from two sources:

  1. Every time I respond lovingly to the twins when I really want to bang my head into the wall while screaming (they’re 2.5- this happens a lot)
  2. Every time I don’t yell at my stepsons for being teenager-y/tween-y when I should, because I am afraid of being the evil stepmom.

M, my husband, is having similar issues with simmering anger. I’m pretty sure 90% of it is #1 for both of us.

FJ (Twin A) is super high maintenance. He’s a stubborn diva (which, I deserve), who won’t stop talking if he’s awake. CW (Twin B) is a semi-verbal snugglebunny. The only time M and I get any peace when they’re awake is when we cave and put on “The Monster Truck show” (Amazon Prime)

I hope you’re having a bearable Thursday. I’m going to go do a Barre workout later because I am apparently a masochist. And I need to punch out some work frustration.

Creature Comforts:

(I think I’ll make a little corner for the self-care that allows me to appear semi-functional, because (to cannibalize a quote from that seminal show of our times: UNHhhh), it’s my blog, and not yours.) Nested parentheses will be part of it, obviously.

Show: Poldark – it’s a Masterpiece Theater production, so I feel like I’m about to watch Downton Abbey every time the music starts. There are a lot of crackling fires and dimly lit pubs, which makes it perfect for Fall (even in Texas). I have just told you nothing about the plot. (Amazon Prime)

Image result for poldark
Why is Poldark so swarthy? He’s English and his cousin isn’t swarthy.

Drink: Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Coffee Mix (the Achieve blend) – drinking mushrooms mixed with my coffee weirdly makes me feel like a high-function hyoooman.

Cordyceps & Chaga Mushroom Coffee Mix

Rub on ye: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Body Butter…. As a product junkie, I’m not easily impressed. But good God does this smell amazing. It’s sweet and spicy and I’m sure someone has tried licking it.

Trader Joes Pumpkin Body Butter - Luxurious Body Butter Made with Coconut Oil, Shea Butter & Pumpkin Seed Oil - 8oz., 227g.

(Ed. note: I get no money from linking to these because I don’t have my $hit together like that.)

p.s. I will never be cool:

Boss #2: You should meet [colleague], she’s kind of the opposite of you.
Me: Oh, less introverted?
Boss: Less… awkward.

 

Starting Over

  1. I think I might blog again. Just because writing is kind of how I think about things. And it’s almost my 40th birthday, and what the heck.
  2. Might actually get this here website a URL.

Corporate FOMO

I’m going to try to write more in here. To what end? I don’t know. But it seemed like a good 2017 goal- either I update this thing, or I delete it and move on.

So.

For the first time recently, I started to see the value in a life coach. My plans have been in such flux for a while now as I wrestled with the challenge of staying in Houston and somehow not wasting the years and years I’ve sunk into academia… getting my PhD and whatnot. You know, training to be a professor.

I’m contracting right now, because adjunct teaching don’t pay the bills. And as I type this, I’m listening to the people at this company laugh from the kitchen. I keep wanting to wander in there and insert myself into the conversations, whatever they may be. I don’t want to miss out on what sounds like fun. And even after only a year, I’m tired of feeling like I’m endlessly scratching on doors, trying to get someone to give me a chance– tenured faculty members, company leadership, editors, etc. I’m always questioning whether I should be shmoozing (I hate shmoozing), chatting up potential bosses if I bump into them in the elevator (I hate unplanned encounters).

I wonder if my sense of humor is too offbeat. I made a joke earlier today about being a cokehead with my supervisor. He gave me an odd look. I get a lot of odd looks. What works for me as a teacher doesn’t seem to work in a corporate setting- and I know better, but I can’t seem to help myself.

Since I’m not full-time here, I didn’t know about an all-company meeting they were having, and walked into the wrong door this morning, right into the path of the CEO’s presentation to the crew. I froze, unsure whether to back out or move forward. I smiled a close-toothed, wincing smile as I stood there.

I actually applied to be a director at this company. Thing is, I’d actually do a great job. But my resume is basically: “School!”, so I need someone to give me a chance (in this case, a massive leap of faith). After 2016, in the short term all I want is financial security- and some serious home repairs. So I hope they will.

Pumpkin Spice Baby Food

Ok, I’m about to get Pinterest-y up in here. Or rather, to get Pinterest-y on behalf of my husband, who invented this recipe.

We’ve been venturing back into making our own baby food, because the twins currently eat 21 cups (!) worth of baby food a week. Oof, my budget. Anyway, it’s a lot of fun to invent recipes for them, and my husband, M, made this one as a poke at me for my love of fall Pumpkin-spice goodness.

img_8519

Here’s the recipe:

-8 cups cubed pumpkin (go ahead and take out your life frustrations on a pumpkin, or find some frozen, if you can)

-1 tsp vanilla
-1 apple, your choice of variety
-1 tbsp nutmeg
-1 tbsp cinnamon
-1 tbsp ginger

  1. Cook the pumpkin – M. boiled it, but he recommends roasting it instead. Either way, cook it until the texture is a bit mushy. (*See roasting instructions below.)
  2. If you boil it, reserve the water to thin the mixture later and add back some vitamins!
  3. Add filtered water (if roasted) or pumpkin water (if boiled) to thin, and food process/blend.

Optional: You can add a pear or more apple  if it’s not sweet enough for your baby (it won’t be very sweet, but we’re trying to train the babies away from needing sweets at every meal).

*Roasting: preheat oven to 425, then place pumpkin on a baking sheet and roast until they are tender when pierced with a knife tip, 30-45 minutes.

The twins love it. img_8522img_8523

Happy Fall, Y’all!