Sunday, March 22, 2009

Inch by Inch, Row by Row

How he grows:

My wee Irish Cricket.

More than one person volunteered to take him home with them, but he's mine, my little Cricket, who is suddenly not so little, but a very sturdy wee man, who is two and loves to sing. We recited a litany of all his likes the other day before bed. Cricket likes, in no particular order: mommy/mama hair, trucks, books, clean sheets, salmon, Cheerios, playing outside, shoveling snow, the sandbox, comfortable pants, his evening tea, his bear, Tintin (who is not really Tintin, but instead Tintin's dog, Milou), driving, dogs, dinosaurs, singing-singing-singing, play-doh, painting, being Mommy's sous-chef, cupcakes, the Gaelic League, parks, letters (or as Cricket would say, "A-B-Ceeeees!), baths and swimming, his cats and sidewalk chalk. That's our short list.
On days when I am my most sad, I am still filled with this incredible awe at my child, his beauty, his little wisdom, the way his mouth rounds out when discovers something new, and his incredible capacity to take it all in, to learn, to love...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Clean Up, Smartypants

Today when Cricket naps:

Should I clean the kitchen from top to bottom, wash the cabinets down, get on my hands and knees and scrub the floor until it gleams, wash out the fridge shelves, organize the pantry, figure out what to cook for dinner? It will make me feel super to have a kitchen that clean. I love the clean, the sparkle, the way the room looks as light slices into the room in the morning. I may even like the cleaning process, enjoying the way I can see the dirt lift, the grime swipe away.

Or should I get out the acute care book, study EKG patterns, look at hemodynamic case studies? Will I really learn anything from doing this? I can read the book all I want, but in nursing school, it was the doing that taught me. I never learned as much as I did as when I was in the ER, doing things fast and watching changes happen to the patient in front of me. Studying in prep for the new job might not feel as good cleaning this afternoon, but it might feel great when I start the new job to not be a complete idiot. Because I like knowing things. I love when I see people now and they try to tell me drug they are on, and I know it. I like knowing the side effects, I like knowing the studies. I like to have the book smarts behind me.

Smart or clean? Clean or smart? Which one....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In the Wind

In my front garden, there are two copper bells hanging from a wide branch of the tree. They are connected by a semi lunar metal alloy. When the wind blows, one bell, the one that hangs a little higher than the other, rings often. Its clapper must just catch the breeze that much easier than the other. Sometimes I love hearing the bell, but other times I long to hear the deeper bell, the one that doesn’t sound off as often. The bells were given to Partner and me on the occasion of our commitment ceremony. To say the bells might be representations of us, well, it’s poetic license, but not a far leap. I’m the loud bell, often having my clapper rattled. Partner is the low sounding bell, not often pushed about the wind. Both bells have value.

It’s not a secret if you are reading this blog that we are having some problems. Over the years we polarized our personalities, which is easy to do but not fair to either partner. I’m sorta sick of being the thunder in our relationship all the time, just as Partner has gotten slightly sick of standing behind me. I never imagined having a relationship where I was the BIG personality all the time. I’m attracted to other big personalities, so I thought my life would be a joint front to the world. Suddenly I’m the ringing bell.

Yesterday Partner was accepted to a brief program where she will participate in a nursing outreach in Liberia. I’m so pleased for her, but more than a little jealous she is doing something I have always wanted to do. I sent her a text today to tell her how happy I was for her, but acknowledging my jealousy as well. She noted that she is changing to be more of a front man and wasn’t sure how that was going to affect our relationship. And I’m not sure I know the answer to that question, to tell the truth.

Answers used to come to me fast, and I would just know. Now I feel answers sneaking up on me, slowly rising as if I was walking into a shallow lake, slowly, slowly getting deeper and realizing things just before my hair gets wet. So I have no answers today. Just that it’s beautiful, it’s St Patrick’s day, and there’s a warm wind. And I sorta wish that damn bell would stop ringing for a few minutes.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

From the Cinders

One of the nice things about my wee house is that it is a short walk to another friend's house, up and down some hills, but just about a mile away (much closer as the crow flies) and a pleasant walk. I like living in a neighborhood where I know friends are near. In the opposite direction, another friend has moved in. Today my friend walked over with her little dog and we had tea and talked. I loved to see her face light up with laughter. My child snored from his back bedroom and her small white dog whimpered, wanting to see him.

It's sunny today and believe or not, little shoots are pushing out of the ground, the tentative green a purely happy sight. I believe (for right now) that everything in life is going to work out.

Quite a few years ago now, I had a friend whose house caught on fire. She brought me to the house to witness the destruction. My heart caught in my neck and when I saw her melted bed frame, I started to cry. I don't think I had any idea of the ravages a fire brings, melting and destroying literally everything. As a positive I tried to focus on the idea of fire as rebirth. The images are out there, namely that Phoenix. I'm not sure that anyone who is dealing with the aftermath of having all her possessions destroyed can rightly imagine life as Phoenix. But the fact of the matter is having things reduced to ashes forces a person to rebuild. There are choices to be made consciously that were made unconsciously the first time around. If I had had my forehead smeared this year on Ash Wednesday with those symbolic ashes, I might have come to this conclusion sooner and more peacefully.

I wonder if a cold frozen winter is like fire in some ways. Everything taken to the ground, burned off by ice and snow. In January when I fell at my lowest of the low, I hoped that spring would be an apt metaphor for me. I'm not sure yet if it is, but it helps to see the snowdrops pearling out of the ground, the sap running in maple trees, and warm enough weather to bring friends to my door.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Image Workshop

Cats are lolling in the patch of sun that is sifting through the bare branches of the tree that I hope I will own in my front yard. I am going outside soon to strip the Christmas lights off the tree. They haven't been on in a while, but they are still tightly coiled around the tree branches. In one month, the tree still might not have leaves on it, but hopefully new buds will have come forward, softening the edges of winter.

And I can't decide if my own edges are soft or hard. My jaw feels hard, angled out from clenching. My legs feel soft, my spine a line of scales sticking straight up like the dinosaurs in Cricket's books, but my shoulders melting.

Lately I have no where to rest my thoughts. Everything I think of is another worry. My relationship, my kid, my house, my family. I resort to images: the sea on a sunny day in Spain, the sound my bike tires make when riding fast down a wooden boardwalk on the way to the beach, the smell of salt water, the feeling of having windows open and bare feet on warm asphalt, sweet Michigan corn.

When I couldn't sleep as a child, my mom would say to me, "Think of something happy and cheerful. Think of Christmas. Think of the Easter bunny." I never thought about those things, but instead thought about diving into a pool, gliding through the water, my grandmother's house, the smell of percolated coffee, the sweet musty smell of church incense.

My mom-- she never knew she was giving me good exercises to see me through this early mid-life depression.

Cats in the sunshine. Cricket's hands and toes. Long stem red tulips in a vase.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Home is Where

We're living in the little house I fell in love with this summer. There's a longish story behind it, but essentially we were able to make an offer on the house that involved us renting the house for six months before we could buy the house. The supposition was that I would get a job and be able to qualify for the mortgage with no problem. Partner ran the numbers and the mortgage payment was going to be a little steep for a few months while I was the sole earner, but we felt we could do it.

Then life happened. It took me longer to land the job. I had offers, but in places I didn't want to work. I finally got the "dream" job offer, but the Big Urban Hospital wasn't able to offer me a place until April, starting me after we were supposed to close on the house. Our mortgage broker pre-qualified me and noted that she thought she'd be able to get me the mortgage with just the letter of offer. We're waiting to see about that.

In order to make it happen, I need to continue to borrow money from my parents, something I am more or less loathe to do, but it's necessary to make life spin for the past few months (like being able to afford diapers and milk, and yes, it has been that bad). Borrowing is something I will keep needing to do in order to be able to afford to make this house work. My mother finally agreed to help me with the house, but noted in a voicemail that although they would continue to loan me the money I needed for the next few months, neither she nor my father thought I was making the right decision.

I'm lost a little. Is it a good idea to buy a house that we can easily afford when we seems to be splintering more every day? Is it a good idea to continue to borrow money from my mom and dad?

I'm annoyed and angry about this. I already blogged about it a little, but I just feel that as a working nurse in a major metropolitan hospital, I should be able to afford a home in a safe city on a nice street. My house I want is 925 square feet. It's small. It's not extravagant. It has a nice little backyard and a detached garage. There are window boxes on the front the windows. There are cherry cabinets, only a few, in my tiny kitchen with lino floors. There are two small bedrooms, the "master" only big enough to fit a bed and two nightstands. There's a beautiful back porch I want to sit on this summer with friends, a tree branch full of leaves brushing over our heads.

Sometimes I think maybe we shouldn't go forward with the purchase, but the fact is that I love this wee house and I love my neighborhood and I love my street. I love the way Cricket already knows the name of his street. I don't want to move again. I just want to win the fucking lotto and have a healthy down payment that will make the monthly mortgage payment reasonable and I just want to live in my little blue house at the end of a cul de sac.

I'm not sure what I'm looking for with this post-- I don't know that I want advice unless it's telling me to go for it. I am as scared of buying the house as not buying it. I'm again, in a whirlwind, like everything else in my life right now, lost about not know up or down. Looking for change in the cracks of the couch... Literally and figuratively.