My semester is over, and so school work happens at a much slower pace.  During the couple of hours everyday that Julia naps, I totally embrace the summer like I’m a 20-year-old coed, which means a lot of string cheese snacks and naps on the couch.  I think the last semester was extra trying on my rusty 29-year-old brain.  Seriously, can you believe that?  I’m 29 – TWENTY NINE YEARS OLD.  I’m officially at the age that I thought was, like, superly totally OLD when I was 15.  And maybe it’s the superly total oldness, or maybe the full-time parenting with two insanely energetic kids, combined with the brain aerobics I was working all semester, but I’m just fried.  I can barely make a sentence right now.  Type hard it be.

Just for fun – McGrumpfacerton

But if I’m going to make the next 50 years of my oldness less dusty and worth living, a girl’s gotta have goals.  So I’ve been working on a paper on the Daphne du Maurier novel Rebecca (1938) and the Hitchcock adaptation of the same title (1940), and early this morning at about 1 AM I submitted the final draft to an academic journal that focuses on work with a feminist perspective.  I’m so nervous and excited – I’ve finally started that long, damning slide into rejection after rejection that is academic publishing!

So all I’ve really done since my break is rewrite that paper, chop about 800 words from it, write a biography (it felt very pretentious – have you ever had to boild yourself down into about 100 words, in 3rd person?  tres weirdo), and discover Spotify.  You can just look up anything you’ve ever heard and play it.  It’s kind of amazing, and I’ve been in a Tears for Fears and Lisa Loeb 90’s coma all day.  I have an unironic, deep-seated love of the Tears for Fears jam “Head Over Heels,” and now Hazel does too.  Raising kids is all about nurturing those seeds, y’all.

So I’ll be back regularly now, although honestly we’re being very boring.  Hazel requested full-time preschool, so she’s gone everyday, and Julia sleeps almost more than her Uncle Nick, which is just barely possible.  It’s amazing and strange.  Mostly, then, I do work when I’m not staring at the wall in a post-graduate haze, and who really wants to hear me drone on about Hamlet and Donne and Moby Dick?

Of course you do.

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I’ve been gone for a while, but all that hard work has paid off in the form of not very ripped-up papers and some hard-earned grades.  Now I’m feeling the 80 degree heat here in Jersey, and I’m looking forward to the summer.  These three monkeys are too!

Landslide

When you get pregnant, and you really want that baby, all you can think about is how much fun it’s going to be.  Everyone around you is joking about how much sleep you’ll lose and how babies never stop peeing, literally never stop even though you are in the middle of changing their diapers, but you keep thinking about little stripey onesies and pajamas with butt ruffles.  Then you’re humbled by the pain and the intense watching that birth brings, and after that intense glaring at you in your most raw, the light switches off you forever and onto your baby.  And there it stays, night after night, as the baby grows up and more independent and yet still more dependent.  While you’re rocking a wailing baby at 2, 3, 4 AM, you tell yourself that soon they’ll sleep all night.  Then, while you rub clove oil on their gums to alleviate teething pain and they just scream at your efforts, you tell yourself you can’t wait until they’ve cut all their teeth.  When you’re going through endless rounds of potty training, trying 400 strategies and having them all end in pee pee on the floor, you keep saying how amazing it will be when they can go to the bathroom by themselves.

But really, it isn’t.  It doesn’t really get easier when they sleep all night or can go to the potty alone, because that’s not the nature of parenting.  It gets harder.  Do you hear me, pregnant friends?  HARDER.  Because suddenly caring for them isn’t only holding them until they stop crying; it’s layered, it’s complicated, and it’s illogical.  I have been walking through this semester, trying my best to keep Hazel, Julia, the house, and my studies all pulled together, and it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  Hazel, who clings to me all day and would crawl back into my uterus for keeps – Julia, who’s so sweet-tempered and so much less needy than any other 10-month-old alive – the house, with its piles of laundry at various spots throughout – our food, which I try so hard to make super healthy and fresh and YAY, but is slowly involving more meals of just hummus and carrot sticks.  I’m so exhausted, and maybe parenting isn’t this hard for everyone else.  I concede that I have some factors working against me:  I’m a control freak, a neat freak, a non-touchy/feely loner freak who gets mad as hell when I can’t find my exact right highlighter and who, in reality, would probably have said “f*ck” instead of “hell.”  I’ve got some daddy issues, which are 1. being furious and 2. being furious.  Whatever the cause, whatever the complications, parenting, for me, is the most difficult, consistently inconsistent position I’ve ever held, and I mostly feel like a failure of a mother.  I WANT to go to school, want it so badly that I’m staying up until 1 AM reading articles and working on papers, and sometimes I get mad at the universe when I have to push it all off for the tiny humans in the next room.  Because I’m not mad at them, or at Amos or even me, it’s hard being mad.

But sometimes things unexpectedly clear, and, for a moment, it’s perfect.  Today I have had Julia home, still feverish, while a coughing but not feverish Hazel went back to preschool after several days home sick.  I’m super behind; I have to read Bleak House, which is like 900 pages of Dickens that I had never even heard of before, and having two sick girls has seriously affected my reading time.  So I have Julia in the sling, letting her doze on me whilst I read, and Hazel’s school calls with a suspected case of pink eye.  An hour later I settled a newly clean Julia, who pooped in the bathtub for the 3rd time this week (she has a bad diaper rash, so I put her in there to give her some non-diaper time) in her crib with relaxing nature sounds playing on my phone and a Hazel who’s half asleep and half irritated and just doesn’t know what to do with herself.  I put her beside me on my bed, hoping she would sleep.  She asked me to read to her, and because I’m so behind I started reading Bleak House to her.   What should have been a boring book for her was, for some reason, exotic.  That moment turned into Hazel stealing my glasses and book and reading the text to me.  That ordinary moment of maternal desperation turned into something so beautiful and refreshing, made extraordinary by the amazing little girl I have.  It gets harder as they get older, but the beautiful moments get exponentially more beautiful.

 

Moving Fast

Life moves so fast.  I remember being a kid, wishing away the boring hours in the Alabama country, taking very long, very slow walks and bike rides, meandering around. Even after I grew up and had Hazel, there were some afternoons when I could literally feel time stretched out long and thin like taffy.  Those days are past, friends.  I don’t know if it’s having Jules around too, or just me getting older, but I can never find enough time or sleep to do all the things I need to do, let alone all the things I want to do.  So, I’ve been sporadically updating, and that will probably continue for a while until we truly settle down in New Jersey.  Some of that is editing the 300 (I’m not kidding) photos I’ve taken since last summer.  I edit some, but most are just sitting there, leering at me.  One of these is below, a fun picture of Hazel I snapped at an art festival we went to in downtown Kansas City, when we thought we would get to live there forever.  A big part of that happens next week, when Hazel starts preschool.  She’s starting a real, awesome school, not daycare, and she couldn’t be more happy and reluctant to go.

Art Festival, September 2011

I’ve started school again, too.  After all this moving and putting my career goals on hold, I decided to begin again at Morehead State in their online master’s program.  I already had 15 hours there, and it looks like at least 3 of the 6 I took at UNA will transfer (maybe the other 3 too), and I just reached a critical mass with all this moving and stopping and changing and retaking, so I am going to plow through and be done by this time next year.  The online program has some drawbacks – missing professor interaction, classroom discussion, the spontaneous exchange of ideas with other people – and it’s a lot more work.  Yes, I said it – seriously, there are always more assignments, more papers, and more outside research and reading for these courses.  It’s so incredibly student-driven; you really have to be a serious student, committed to the work, to make it.  But luckily for me, I totally am.  So I’m taking two classes right now (The English Novel and Intro to Film Lit), will have a linguistics course in the summer (VERY EXCITING), and then I’ll write a big old thesis.  Seriously – THAT’S ALL I HAVE LEFT.  It feels awesome.  And scary.  But mostly awesome.

Oops…

Dudes, I have been so mega busy (and gone for a week to St. Louis) that I’ve ignored the blog.  And, um, it’s going to continue for just a bit longer.  We have been crazy busy, but luckily it’s been mostly FUN busy.  I’m one small present away from being totally done with Christmas shopping, and today I’m planning to get all the ones that are here wrapped up.  I’m waiting on a couple to be delivered, but I have wrapping ready for them, so I’m good to go.  Today I have to write one more assignment, and then I’m pretty much done for the whole semester.  I’m of two minds about that, but I’ll elaborate later.  Right now I want to get on my assignments so I can move it to the kitchen.  I’ll be baking this delicious-looking Mondel Bread from one of my favorite blogs, Lottie & Doof while I finish up that wrapping.

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