Sunday, October 9, 2011

Off the Road (MB)

Hey, Ab:

Well, we didn't exactly get off to a vigorous start with our blog concept.  But, I am determined to keep trying.  You have now been off the road and settled in the San Diego area for months!  I know you are homeschooling the boys, the elder two have an agent in LA (!), and you have a pretty snazzy apartment that may not be a long-term option but is a good place to be while getting oriented out there.  I also know you were digging the climate and the bad-ass feeling of driving through LA to take the boys to appointments with their pretty serious agent out there.  I love it.

We definitely miss you guys.  I have seen glimpses of the people who have moved into your house and I know you are so far beyond even thinking about this now, but it is really weird to see a different family calling that place home, and slowly evolving it to be their own.

With the falling leaves, I can't help but think of Halloween, and how that will be a true landmark in your first year away -- we won't have our usual motley crew of neighbors and family members gathering in last-minute costumes to eat chili, gorge on candy, hit the bourbon, and take turns with our cute kids out in the trick-or-treating paradise that is the Jenifer Street neighborhood.

I don't mean to get all sappy.  I guess I'm just pointing out that -- despite limited contact these last few months -- you and your fam are always a present force for me, and I do miss having your refreshing perspective in person here.  I need to get in a routine drawing on it by phone, or -- hopefully -- through this blog.

Here's the quick-and-dirty on me for the moment.  I feel a little "off-the-road" myself, to be honest with you.  I'm doin' it, keepin' it all going, scrapin' by, raisin' kids, payin' bills.  But.  Not sure where exactly I'm going or if I'm moving forward.  I won't elaborate too much more on that other than to fill you in on the basics of what's been going on lately.  We'll get back to the bigger philosophical aspects of it all in future posts if we ever finally get this blog rolling.

First, I am relatively blissed out and getting way in touch with my roots these last several weeks as my life-long and tormented love affair with Milwaukee Brewers Baseball has taken a dramatic turn for the better.  They are currently playing for the National League Championship and have a damn viable chance at playing in the World Series.  It's been divine.  This remarkable circumstance (last time they got this far I was 5 years old; I vaguely remember it and strongly romaticize that team; we've barely broken .500 a season since) has been accompanied by across-the-board success on the part of Wisconsin sports teams all fall.  It's been delicious fun -- in the way that those summers and winters when we obsessed about the Olympics on TV we found a certain wonderful escape and diversion from the ordinary -- except even better, because in this case it's all about Wisconsin loyalty, tradition, my personal and family history with these teams, and how happy this shit makes a vast majority of people I am related to.

Second, and more importantly, Peter started high school and Madeline started middle school -- I could write a lengthy essay of observations about this but for now let's just say they were both more than ready and are doing great, and I am loving the transition to higher expectations of them, and more responsibility on their part in general, etc.

Third, I have a new neice and a new nephew!  My sister Anna had her second baby in Paris -- Livia -- on April 26th; my sister Julie had her first just last Sunday on October 2nd -- Benjamin David!  Madeline and I happened to be in Chicago on the night that Julie went into labor so we were sort of along for the ride on the dramatic turns of the situation (she went into labor almost a month early but baby has done great and went home from the NICU today).

Fourth -- I remain in relative single mom stress and uncertainty about money, work, and relationships.  I know -- what the hell?  I don't know, Ab -- I could use some help on this one.  Running a single-income family/household with kids who are only getting older and more expensive remains a significant challenge.  On the other hand, I've become so damn independent and intolerant of any inconvenience when it comes to relationships, I'm not exactly on a steady progression toward life-long partnership.  This notwithstanding the fact that, as you know, there's a guy who's interested in pursuing that with me.  It's all quite confusing.  I am truly enjoying many aspects of my work life -- I have been learning a ton and developing a lot in my role as an agency executive.  My law practice also plugs along fairly loosely, and I have a few great clients that I get to do pretty fun work for.  I'm not charging enough which leads me to a certain squeeze fairly frequently.  Argh.  I could use a lucky lottery ticket, a sugar daddy, something.  How did I get through all those years of law school on student loans, grants, and a small part-time teaching salary?  It seems things have just gotten a lot more complicated since then.  I know I can make it all work, but I'll tell you -- securing a partner in this most basic anthropological proposition of modern middle class living (keeping the lights on and providing your kids with some basic opportunities) definitely makes a difference, and sometimes I feel like that ship has just sailed for me.  Dating a guy who is nice, but also has his own kids and his own single-income household to worry about, has not helped simplify the issue.  We continue to spend time together and at times it looks a hell of a lot like a committed long term relationship, but I just don't see where it's going, or how.  More and more I feel like I just need to buck up and realize that I will be doing this single mom thing indefinitely, and I just need to keep getting better and better to be sure that enough income's coming in and I can simultaneously continue to be at least as attentive to these kids in that classic way that I inherited from my own mom as I have been these last couple of years.

Man.  You and Frank have seen me through a lot of stages in this adventure, and you've always been so good to me.  How many crappy meals have I prepared for you due to my general state of exhaustion and distraction in the midst of all that's going on; how many pots of your beans have my kids and I eaten, how many times did Frank un-clog my disgusting rental property sink for me, how long did you put up with my kids and I staying with you guys before we went to Argentina -- you guys are freakin' saints!  I swear.

It's a gorgeous fall here.  Bright colors, and is if in response to a request I made quietly many times this summer, it seems we're getting a gentle Indian summer into the month of October.  June was cold for almost the full month, so my quiet request came from a sense of justice -- if we're not going to get a warm June, we sure as hell better get a long warm late summer/early fall before stuff hits the fan.

Kids and I went camping with the Elizabeth Street neighborhood crew at Wyalusing State Park this past weekend and it was delightful.  I nursed a few PBR tall boys around the fire and talked big ideas with a bunch of the smart folks from that neighborhood group, we took a great hike this morning and saw a cool cave and the kids all put pennies on the railroad track and waited to see what they got after the train came by.  Peter and all the teenagers had one cabin and were super cute and seem so innocent compared to the shenanigans we were getting into at that age (famous last words, I know).  Mads and a posse of middle schoolers essentially did the same thing -- strewed their personal items all over the inside of their own bunk house, played into the night and then crashed and were up again by 7 eating pancakes on lunch trays in the mess hall at the group camp we were at. 

The next couple of weeks we'll be running around trying to keep up with the Brewers, East High Homecoming, and seeing my sisters and their little ones (Anna and her girls are visiting).  Work will not ease up, nor will school, for these extra-curriculars, so it'll be another busy time.  What's new though?  You should've seen me this past spring/summer while you've been gone.  I over-committed myself like never before -- 5th and 8th grade graduations, All-City Dive Meet (Mads did great by the way!), tons of work stuff, baseball team mom, visitors staying with us from out of town, blah blah blah.  All fun and good but I burned myself out big time.  Late summer and early fall I've been pretty anti-social as a result. 

Oh, fun tidbit -- I did take the kids to NYC for the first time in August.  I'll fill you in more on that soon.  We had a blast.  We just tooled around without major plans.  They were ready to ditch me and ride the subway on their own within about 24 hours.  Made me proud.

I'm thinkin of you guys.  Be in touch.  Write!

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