Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Alcoholism and bullet points

Let me preface all of this by assuring you guys that Cory does way more than his fair share of housework and parenting. He's the one that bathes the kids every other night 99% of the time and thank god because that's probably my least favorite thing in the world to do. 

I heard an interesting story on NPR the other day while driving to one of my 2.5 jobs (I don't really count photography as a full legit job most days) that most definitely hit home.

In short? Alcoholism among women, especially mothers, is a pretty serious issue right now. The woman being interviewed discussed the stress associated with working a day job and transitioning to mom mode when she gets home. Dinner, homework, baths, laundry, dishes....
Add, as we can in so many of our lives, financial stress on top of that and pass the booze please.

Sometimes I do this thing where I jokingly tell someone something that's totally true. Like when I told friends that if we could afford it I'd drink myself into a drunken stupor every single night. "I like the way it makes me feel. It makes me all warm and tingly inside...I can finally let go and just relax."

Every night when Cory leaves for work I wish I had something to drink. If I had access to it could I just drink a glass or two of wine or would it just progress from there? I have no idea. But I do know that alcoholism is a pretty serious issue in my family so ya know..it's in my genes and all that.

It's just something I haven't been able to shake from my mind since hearing it..that story. It's like we have an epidemic of exhausted parents running in circles trying to keep everything afloat yet feel like we're drowning way too often, hence the alcohol.

The solution? I have no idea. Except socialism. I'll take socialism..redistributing the wealth and all that. And I'm only sorta joking.

Bullet points:

I'm watching "Today" and they're doing a story on items in the grocery store geared toward men. "Powerful Yogurt" with the tag line "Find your abs!" And I just wanted to say that I'm offended for you, male friends. They've said the word "manfluence" at least a dozen times and seriously why am I watching this shit?

Eisley started following me on twitter. I have no idea why and know only two things about them: I want the adorable girl's house, wardrobe and body to go with the wardrobe. And two: adorable girl sounds like the chick from Sixpence.  

I've started watching "American Horror Story Coven" and even though I'm a 33 year old woman with 3 children I'm terrified that my mother will find out and haul me off to be delivered of the evil within.

The last book in the Divergent series came out and why didn't I know that was happening??? Why is Samuel L. Jackson doing commercials for a credit card? Why won't my hair grow faster?

Kanye & Kim got engaged and my only feeling about it all is that I'm desperately hoping Kelly Oxford graces us with something brilliant to say about the issue.

I've been listening to basically nothing but Katy Perry for two days and I'm not sorry because I owe the universe nothing. And speaking of Katy Perry watching this and crying is what almost made the kids late for school this morning.

What almost made them late yesterday? Drama over pajama day and so. much. sobbing from this kid...

Life is good
Life is beautiful
Life is stressful

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Good night

The house feels crisp and cool tonight. I'm basking in the kind of comfort that only a good quilt and mug of hot tea can bring and am thinking about a hot shower before bed.

I've been a big ball of emotions for the past few days. It's a yarn ball...the kind you want to unravel yet find nothing but layer upon layer of absolute mess the longer you work with it.

I gave my PLP (that's platonic life partner, guys) some terrific advice yesterday when she was feeling overwhelmed. "You have to let something go," I said. That's some solid advice...advice I have yet to take for myself.

But on the days when I feel well rested I find myself thriving on the chaos. It's one of the things I got from my mom that I don't necessarily count as something horrible to have...the longing for craziness in my life. If it weren't for it I probably wouldn't have three children that call me mommy.

Wonderful, silly, ridiculous children

with their freckles, dimples, stickiness and down right glorious giggles.

It's funny how you can feel overwhelmed and like you just can't stand any more then Katy Perry comes on your television and it all feels not just okay but....right? It's the Katy effect.......better than paying money out of pocket for therapy. Katy Perry in leopard print. Emotional healing.

Then there's community and having places where you can go to feel whole. And it doesn't matter if you find yourself sitting alone surrounded by dozens of people having their conversations, filling the air with laughter. Because you have your giant mug of warm caffeine and know that sometimes being alone by yourself is really all that you need.

I was asked by someone today if I could pinpoint the thing that people got from them. And I think I finally have an answer.

Just. You.

No one has a life that's identical to someone else's and it's really beautifully poetic when you stop to think about it. Some lives run parallel at times, but then we all verge onto our own paths until they meet up again.

We've all had different experiences that have taught us different lessons. Even the same experience can teach two people something completely different. And those lessons don't only benefit us but those around us if we're willing to open up and share every once in a while.

Sometimes it's a funny story. Sometimes it's a story that moves someone to tears. Sometimes it's nothing but staying completely silent and a furrow of the brow to show concern. That happens to be one I'm really skilled at. I've never been much for words but have mastered the furrowed brow.

The thing my brain is trying to tell you while I'm up way past what should be my bedtime is that we all have wisdom and good things to give. And it doesn't always have to be obvious does it? My favorite grocery store here is one filled with fancy cheese and a truly magnificent bakery. Their prices are somewhere between Crest and Whole Foods...a nice almost comfortable middle ground I can venture to when longing to be spoiled. It's the smiles. Everyone there is always smiling. They talk to my kids...they talk to Cory about his Doctor Who shirt...they have halfway decent sushi that won't land you on a toilet for hours on end. Those people in that grocery store? Sometimes they make my day.

And that's what they have to give. Just themselves.

Now I give you picture dump for posterity from our weekend in my favorite town last weekend. It was beautiful and I, once again, was energized by the craziness of it all.


Sleep well, friends. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hitting pause with my reader

I read a really eye opening quote recently that's been on repeat in my head all day.

"The days are long but the years are short." Apparently it's from this book which I obviously need to read.

Run here..run there... hurry hurry hurry. My word for 2013 was supposed to be pause and I still haven't learned where the damn button is hidden in my life. And it leaves me wondering whether any of this will even register as memories ten years from now when my children are all teenagers preparing for a life completely separate from mine.

I've had conversations with a few people recently about society's big rush when it comes to educating our kids. We want them reading fluently by the time third grade is done. Sight words are being sent home in kindergarten. KINDERGARTEN, you guys. When 5 year olds should be coloring and eating glue we're forcing them to memorize words in preparation for reading.

There are some fascinating documentaries on Netflix right now full of tragic stories of parents desperately working to get their toddlers enrolled in the most prestigious pre-schools in hopes of an ivy league future.  It's seriously like that horrible pre-school in "Daddy Day Care" with Anjelica Huston in her severe kitten heels. This shit's real, you guys...

Really though, what's the hurry?

It was a constant battle when Elliott was in kindergarten.

He needs to memorize these sight words.
Why doesn't he know his sight words?
Are you drilling him on his sight words?
He's behind on his sight words.

Truth: I never drilled him on those stupid sight words. He's proven to me that his memory is more than adequate with his Doctor Who knowledge. The 10th Doctor's timeline? He can give you a run down from Rose to Donna and back again. Amy and Rory Pond? Their whole life story's in that tiny head too.

The kid just wasn't ready to read. And guess what?

I.didn't.panic. Because I was the exact same way.

She's not reading yet. Why isn't she reading? Shouldn't she be reading by now? The story I'm told is that one day nearing the end of first grade I picked up a fucking book and started reading...and basically haven't stopped since.

Sometimes that puzzle piece just has to fall into place. And if the piece is still floating around somewhere else it really is gonna be okay. Because guess what....

the piece finally found its groove and fit right in.

So when I'm being told that his handwriting needs work...that he shouldn't be mixing capital and lowercase letters....that he can't be writing his name in cursive until his printing is better....

well, I deal with the public school system that I appreciate so damn much and never take for granted the exact same way I do my mom.

Nod. Smile. Agree. And let Elliott write the way Elliott wants to. At school he can write in print with the appropriate dotted i's and crossed t's. 

But here at home Elliott will still look like ELLiott because that's the way his tiny little left brained mind sees it and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

So if you were to peek into my living room right now you'd see that I hit pause. There are banana peels scattered here and there, blankets covering the couch and books a plenty. My kids are almost as sticky as my kitchen floor and dinner was far from perfect nutrition. 

And in spite of it all I feel at peace because tonight Elliott will read me another story at bedtime and I'll be reminded that we are, in fact, doing this whole parenting thing the right way at least a good three-quarters of the time. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Stormy weather

Stormy days always make me feel a tad bit uneasy. There's something unsettling about it being dark at 2:30 in the afternoon. I go around my house flipping on all the lights, turning something on to fill the place with noise...

It's still terribly unsettling for me to not have the kids here with me during the day but I'm learning to cope and be alone again.

Tomorrow I start a second job. (Third if you count the random weekend photo shoots)
It's just all part of trying desperately to stay afloat.
I won't lie..the past few months have been some of the most difficult we've had financially but most days I'm able to camouflage the stress with massive amounts of love and optimism.
Some moments are more difficult though and we find ourselves feeling crushed under the pressure.

Everything will be okay..it really will...

There are just those raw feelings that float to the surface without me even knowing they're coming.
Feelings of jealousy, anger, frustration and..well..lots of anger.

During those times I find it safest to hunker down like you're waiting for a storm to pass.
I grab mini candy bars, (hi, stress eating leading to no more weight loss) make hot tea and begin the tedious task of distracting myself with whatever will work at that moment..a book, a movie, cleaning the bathroom again..

Once the storm's passed through the air will smell amazing and the sun will feel so warm on my skin.
I'm ready...

Oh and by the way...

Happy birthday, Hermione.

Monday, September 16, 2013

107 days

My heart has been heavy today. Time spent with friends this evening helped to lighten the load a bit, but overall I just feel like there's been a heavy cloud hanging over my head everywhere I go.

I typed out a few thoughts that were rolling around in my head, read over them once..twice..three times...then deleted them all. None of them felt right. They were sincere but felt forced.

But here's the gist of it with me being a bit more real.. life fucking sucks sometimes, you guys.

Let's not sugar coat it by uttering nonsense phrases like "things'll get better" or "that which doesn't kill us blah blah blah".

And not to get all stupid on you, but The Doctor really did say it best.

"The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant."

Bonus material: because I happen to think that my Elliott happens to be a better 11th doctor than Matt Smith himself and this picture makes me smile...

It's September 16, friends. There are only 107 more days to go til 2014 greets us.

Just another day, yes, but since we humans seem to measure everything in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years it just makes sense that we think of the passing of 365 days as a new beginning.

It gives us something to look forward to. It's a time for renewal and changes, even if those changes are silly resolutions that only last a week. They still gives us brief glimpses into what could be, and sometimes that's all we need to feel whole.

I'm counting the days...

And I'll end these nonsense thoughts with something for those of us who are still reeling from last night's episode. Flashbacks to happier times..

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wibbly Wobbly, that's all

I volunteered to help with the moon bounce at the kids' festival thing at school tomorrow and I'm not really sure where my life is headed or how I wound up doing such a thing or why I don't have chickens yet providing me with fresh eggs so I'll never run out again since the boys want them for breakfast every morning with the strawberries and pancakes which I still need to go for..the strawberries that is...and while I'm there I'll need to get more skim milk because I'm convinced that the whole milk I've been having with my cereal for the last two days has made me gain another six pounds minimum but at least I'm still better off than when I started all this mess but I should really join a gym soon if money ever works itself out because it'll be a nice break outside of the house if only my ankle would cooperate and I still really wish I could get it looked at since it still hurts in that one spot but oh well that's life without healthcare til Obamacare works itself out and I can go to the doctor without spending a massive amount of money so I'll have more to spend on important things like those strawberries I need or the new bras I'm desperately needing or getting the screen replaced on my phone or more coffee since I'm out yet again but at least I have a husband who loves me and doesn't think that doing housework is beyond his masculine abilities or will make his dick fall off.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was a tiny peek into my brain on a Thursday night at 9:20pm.

But since we're already well on our way to lunacy and my suspicions of adult onset ADD... Look! New pretty shoes! (Thanks, Beca) Do you guys know Beca? You should get to know her and give her all your money so she can send you pretty things in the mail.

Seriously though, you guys. My brain is a constant stream of mish mash thoughts that are never organized. It's basically in direct correlation with the rest of my life at the moment.

Straight. Up. Chaos.

and here I am

on my couch

with the holy fuck I'm stressed playlist attempting to soothe me

and no moscato to be found, not a simple damn drop

But I have a comfy bed and soft pillows beckoning me like lost lovers. There's even a scalding hot shower wishing I would join it for just a few minutes to soothe my exhausted body.

And that's so much more than so many people have right now.. so I'm choosing to be grateful and repeating my mantra.

Things aren't broken, just a little wobbly.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hold on

Today while at the post office I stuck my hand down in my bag (otherwise known as the black hole of death & doom) and something definitely stabbed me right under the fingernail of my right pointer finger. Is that the right way to say that? Pointer finger? Regardless I just wanted to let you guys know that it hurts like fuck to type right now and I'm enduring the pain just for you. Surely a smart woman would find what poked them in the first place and remove it so it wouldn't happen again, but I'm most definitely not a smart woman...

I've been thinking a lot about jealously lately and how it can have a direct effect on our happiness. I could also say comparison...which usually leads to jealousy.

Over the last few years I've spent so much time looking at other photographers' work wondering what they were doing that I should be doing as well. Should I follow the editing trends? Do I need those expensive florabella actions everyone else is running? I need to find a brick wall with peeling paint to put my brides in front of. And I have GOT to book a wedding for a bride that'll wear fun colored tights or wear her hair in a big messy bun/beehive!

And the thing is that I'm not them. I'm just not. I never have been and never will be. And I'm coming to terms with the fact that it's okay.

Being raised the way I was individuality was something that was frowned upon and never encouraged. The very first time hair dye touched my head was during a visit with my sister. I was 14 and miles away from home. My loving sister did everything she could to free me from the box I'd been put in. She put those bleach blonde streaks in the front of my hair. She gave me my first alcoholic beverage...amaretto sour, heavy on the sour..light on the amaretto. My first date? Definitely arranged by her. (Total disaster by the way.) First tattoo? Oh yea...she paid for it and everything. Second tattoo? Yep. Her fault, mom.

Those visits with her were my only glimpse into a life outside of church three times a week and nothing but "The Lawrence Welk Show" or TBN on a television. I will never forget the magic of Carey Elwes in "Robin Hood Men in Tights" or the first time I saw a for real gay couple in real life.

There was so much constant pressure to be the good girl at home. I couldn't disappoint anyone...that was just not an option. And I'm still living that life when it comes to certain members of my family.

Inside I'm still that 16 year old girl who was terrified her mother would find out that she snuck out of her friend's house that one night to go down to the lake and be ignored by every boy there. I'm still hiding in my bedroom watching Buffy with the volume turned down as low as possible..my finger hovering over the last channel button on my remote that would take me to something less demonic in case she walked into the room. Knock? She never knocked. Knocking just isn't what good Christian mothers do.

That fear of disappointing anyone has carried over into adulthood for me. Constantly lying to keep the girl good persona is an unfortunate byproduct of me being absolutely terrified of ever letting anyone down.

I can be honest here and it feels so good. Pouring my thoughts out to a keyboard can be so therapeutic at times. Maybe someone will read it..maybe someone won't. But even if they don't it's there for me. I can look back here to remind myself that there are happy moments..there are stressful moments..there are angry moments..but they're all my moments. And those moments all rolled up into one big ball are what make me who I am.

So here's me choosing not to lie. Here's me allowing myself to be an open book. Aren't there enough fluffy clouds and bows in the blogging world already? The crafts and pretty peachy pictures are out there for all of us to enjoy. It's a gap that doesn't need to be filled any more. That page has been colored...it's time for me to write my own.

So anyway...
First step towards honesty...

I don't enjoy photography as a way to make a living any more. I haven't for quite some time and a lot of you know that.

Before anyone sees this and feels the need to take this personally I have to say that that's so not the case. It doesn't have much at all to do with the people. Honestly it doesn't. Yea I have the overbearing mom sometimes that insists on things being a certain way. And the fact that I never know what my financial status will be month to month can be irritating.

Here's why I don't enjoy it any more, in the simplest way I can think to put it.

1. It's lonely. I leave my family to go hang out with other families...sometimes I know them, most of the time I don't...and I don't get the great face to face co-worker experience I'd get at any other job. I drive there alone, make small talk while clicking the button, then drive home alone and it's just down right exhausting mentally.

2. The work is never ending. Seriously. People have this preconceived notion so often that I just take the pictures, put them on my computer then send them back out. So not the case. There's editing to be done (because you don't want that little pimple there, or your bra strap is showing, so on and so forth) then the backing up of files...the burning of discs..the constant endless emailing..the blogging...the unsuccessful attempts at social networking.

3. It's taken all the joy I used to get from photography. Seriously. Browse my flickr for proof. Years ago I was uploading picture after picture. The last couple of years when I've been working so much more? They nearly stop all together. Taking my camera out and using it outside of work feels like, well, work. It used to be the thing that kept me sane..now it's the thing that makes me insane.

So 2013 will be the last year I do this. And I need you guys to hold me to it.
I'll do little things here and there for friends because those are the little things I love doing. But it'll be on a casual let's hang out, I'll snap some pictures and maybe you can buy me lunch basis.

One last wedding for friends in November then it'll all disappear. To be honest I'm more than a little excited about packing it all away and making it just a memory.

I'm ready to be Vanessa, the mom with the camera again. It's so cliche to say, but I need to find my center once again. I need to find that healthy head space and reconnect with that creative outlet that's pulled me out of some of the darkest times in my life.

It's a new beginning and I couldn't be more excited. And this blog? I'm really gonna try to come visit it more often. Because as you can tell from this post that started out as deep thoughts on me comparing myself to other photographers and turned into a bitch session about my upbringing proves, I have a lot of shit to work out and it just feels right to do it here.

So....see you soon I guess.