Next month:
June 2005

Farewell, Star Wars

Okay, I'll admit it right now: Marc and I are total Star Wars geeks. Purely and truly. We've never been of the "dress in character, go to conventions, stalk the little guy who played Wicket, and name our child Anakin" thread of geek, but the Star Wars theme WAS our wedding song. So we rate.

Last weekend we joined the masses to see Episode Three ... we lucked out that my mom was in town for a wedding and gladly watched her only grandchildren for a day so we could go ... and doggone loved it. We aren't so jaded as to expect perfection. This is George Lucas, for Pete's sake! If characters and plot finesse were his strong point, the whole dual-trilogy would have been a completely different creature. We loved it for what it was: lots of action, the tying-up of loose ends, a move toward the familiarity of the movies we knew from our childhood, amazing special effects. We aren't going to sit around and debate issues the story raised or ignored or invented for no other purpose that to be a story appliance. We're just going to sit back and bask in the glory of Long Ago and Far Away. And we're going to miss having Star Wars to look forward to.

It's so ingrained in us, after almost thirty years of watching and rewatching. We can't go to a 20th Century Fox movie and hear its music without expecting the Star Wars theme to immediately follow.

At least we can watch our son reliving the excitement. We took him to Toys R Us today (it happened to be located between Michael's - where I needed to get a book 50% off - and Bassett - where I needed to show Marc the buffet we'll be getting in our dining room in 4-6 weeks) and the first thing we saw upon entering was the Star Wars display. Ships! Trading cards! Action figures!! Henry was a kid in a candy store, and Marc and I followed him around just as eagerly. We watched him look at all the figures, compare who came with the most guns and hardware, debate the merit of having more bad guys than good, with a droid or two added to the mix. Pretty soon he was hobbling around the display with six different figures clutched to his body. Marc asked me how many we should let him get. I said four. Marc retaliated with six. Our little guy looked just like we did 28 years ago; how could we say no?

So now he's upstairs playing with his figures, and Marc and I are left to feel proud, amused, kindred ... and a little grief-stricken that a whole era ... the one thing we have always had in common ... has come to an end.

Finding Me

PrologueThat art journal class I signed up for? Turns out I enjoy the "journal" aspect more ... no big surprise there.

Our first assignment two weeks ago was based on spring, new beginnings ... at least that's what I took from it. I immediately wrote down my thoughts on the matter, thinking the art would be inspired by that. The prologue is the result ... hidden journaling on the as-yet-uncompleted page is as follows:

Over the past eight and a half years, Marc and I have said countless times: “It feels like our life can finally begin!”

Obviously bad things happen, otherwise, we wouldn’t need to repeat over and over … and OVER … that we can finally begin living.

Things have a way of continually cropping up for us. Job changes, location changes, financial changes, family changes, relationship changes. We’ve never just been happy, been in a good place, things going along swimmingly, and everything STAYS that way. Our life is constantly in flux, one way or another.

The past three years have been the biggest test – of our strength, of our patience, of our faith. Luckily, never our love. The one thing we are grateful for is that we are always, first and foremost, best friends. But we had to put up with Marc’s highly stressful, highly depressing, highly underpaid stint at Marketwatch, we dealt with constant strain on our finances, we dealt with our inability to get pregnant (which was somewhat of a mixed blessing, considering the underpaid part of the problem), we dealt with the stress of living in an expensive city and never being able to take a vacation and get away from the pressure.

Then 2004 rolled around and things looked brighter: Marc switched jobs and his salary was once again in a comfortable zone, we started to look forward to moving to a bigger house in a quieter neighborhood, maybe plan a vacation for the first time in four years. Then I got pregnant and it was the cherry on top. Until my miscarriage. But we sold our house, moved to a lovely home in a lovely neighborhood (not our dream house or dream location, but it’s perfect for a family with youngsters), and I found out I was pregnant again.

2004 ended very upbeat, despite my serious “morning” sickness. (What a crappy name for something that causes a woman to throw up multiple times all freaking day long for 22 weeks … )

2005 came and everything looked great. I started to feel better without medication, Henry turned five, and Harper was born. Then Marc’s job shifted yet again. Then that shift became “we’ve sold the company and you are effectively unemployed at the beginning of next month.” In typical Marc fashion, he is rolling right back into his former consulting job, but the stress of the unknown has been hard to deal with.

I find myself, at seven weeks postpartum, overweight and out of shape. It’s time I own up to the fact that I’m just plain FAT. I’m unattractive. I’m depressingly far away from who I used to be. It could be a baby blues thing (thank god it isn’t as bad as it was with Henry, though), but I’m constantly feeling the lack of something in my life. I see what I used to be only a few short years ago – in shape, thin, dressed nicely every day, living out my Life Plan as an editor at a magazine, writing daily, talking with adults who challenged my mind. In many ways I’m happier now: Marc and I are actually closer than ever, and I have two beautiful children whom I love more than anything I ever imagined and bring my life more joy and sense of worth than I ever thought possible. But I feel so AVERAGE. Actually, less than that. I try to find something to be proud of – I write, but I show no one so that does me no good. I scrap, but only when I have the time and energy, and when I do finish a page no one seems to notice it and I then feel my work is unworthy. I clean-cook-shop-run-the-house but hear no sense of appreciation for it. And then I notice the trend: I somehow need the positive reinforcement of others to feel self-worth. And that just plain sucks. I never noticed that need in myself before and wonder where this lack of pride and confidence in my abilities or who I am came from. Seeing it in black and white now though, that need has always been in my life – a favorite or admired teacher says I lack ability so I stop trying, a parent doesn’t praise something I’m proud of so I stop caring, a husband doesn’t tell me I’m pretty so I believe I’m not - but I had a few good years where I didn’t let it come to the surface. And now it’s back, worse than ever.

So here’s my resolution: our life is now, once again, finally beginning. Money is okay, house is okay, kids are okay, husband is okay. Now I need to be okay. I need to spend some time figuring out who I am now, what my new role is. I need to realize that it’s okay to take care of me now and then. I need to get back to who I was. The weight needs to come off, I need to once again take pride in my appearance, and I need to get back to the simple things that used to bring me pleasure: writing, painting, observing, finding beauty all around me. I need to find my art again and do it just for me and not for the critics-at-large. I live my life behind the lens of a camera and record all the blessings this world has given, but I am missing from it all. There is very little record that I exist in this family, other than the fact that my kids are dressed, fed, healthy, cared for, and well-documented. This journal is the kick in the ass I need. The accountability to figure things out on a daily basis and to stick with a new routine and new set of priorities. The permission to create something without borders. The way to make my presence known in life, even if it’s just to my family and myself. The way to be ME again.

Here I go.

Jesus loves me. This I know.

Don't you love serendipity? When, to quote my favorite movie (Field of Dreams, for the unenlightened), "All the cosmic tumblers click into place"? It's those moment of serendipity that I feel most watched over by God, that he knows my needs and knows when I need a tap on the shoulder.

Marc and I are heading to Indiana for two weeks in June. Yet again spending our vacation days traveling to the state we desperately wanted to leave. This time it's for my cousin's wedding. Anyway, my dad and uncles are heading out on their annual one-week-long manfest they call "fishing" and Marc is going with them as my Father's Day present to him. (He gets one week off, away from work and kids and chores. I got diamond earrings for Mother's Day - 1.5 karats in each ear. I think we're just about even.) Instead of making the 10 hr trip back to Minnesota alone with the five-year-old and the three-month-old, I decided to stay the week with family and friends. And then I got an idea: call the three best girlfriends from high school and see if there's some way we could manage getting together.

The four of us live in four different states - Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana (though she just moved back to Indy after spending the past five years in Florida) - so getting together is rarer than rare. The Michigan friend, Katie, was my maid of honor, my freshman gym class buddy, my New Year's Eve plan. She has a two kids under the age of three. My Indy/Florida friend, Amy, has been a dear friend since sixth grade when we both took a summer drama program and got a kick out of each other. She is currently pregnant with her first child and due in August. The Ohio friend, Candi (though most people call her Candace now ... because she's an adult), had her first baby on March 15 ... just fourteen hours after I gave birth to Harper.

I was looking online for a B&B near Indy that Marc and I could stay at for a night during our first week down there. One caught my eye and as I read about it I noticed a blurb about their special Girlfriend Retreats. !!!! So I quickly e'd my girls and said, "Let's Do This!" and magically all said yes. We looked at the three weekends surrounding my trip down and the only one that worked for all of us is the weekend of the 25th. I called the B&B with not much hope ... what B&B has an empty house in the middle of June, for Pete's sake? The innkeeper checked the schedule and said, "We're full the weekend before, we're full the weekend after. But that weekend we have no bookings."

No bookings. Somewhere in the great beyond God is smiling at me.

In the eight and a half years Marc and I have been married, we've had one vacation. And that was six years ago. Since Henry was born five years ago, we haven't spent a single night away from him. And since I became a mother, I can probably count on both hands (but just barely)  the number of strictly girlfriend get-togethers I've gone to. That's just sad.

The serendipity of this upcoming weekend is overwhelming. The fact that we can all get together. The fact that the B&B was vacant. The fact that each of those two things could only happen on a specific weekend, and that weekend is the same for both. It's just amazing.

And I'm so grateful.

Here I go.

I've officially entered the now-somewhat-pedestrian world of Those Who Blog. To be honest, I've had a blog for about a year, but it's just a simple little private one ... a means of making myself keep a pregnancy journal since I was online more often than I was sitting down with a pen and paper. But now baby is here and I've recently been feeling very OFF. Not post-partum blues ... I had a nasty time with those after Henry was born five years ago and this is completely different. I just feel off-kilter, like I am looking at myself for the first time in years and have no idea who I am. I've tried to scrapbook to get my groove going again, but that hasn't worked. I've been playing with my camera a lot, but basically to document my kids. I haven't found ME anywhere yet. It doesn't help that when I look in the mirror I see the former me hidden under about 50 pounds that crept on over the past seven years ... since working as an editor at a magazine publisher under a boss who nearly launched me into a nervous breakdown. Bad job and two kids later, the former me has disappeared, taking with her my figure, my health, my free time, my sanity. My kids are great and in many ways I'm happier than ever, but that's the MOM side of me.

Then I heard about an online art journal class and signed up without thinking twice. I want to do something that's just for me, something that will force me to think about who I was, who I am, who I will be, and what I will create along the way.

It is the "journal" aspect of this class that has prompted me to start the blog. There will be times when I will create something and tuck my words away, but I want a place to put them so if anyone in the class wants to see, they can. And I want a place I can come periodically to create a record of what I've observed or felt that day, something I can later print and save for my kiddos. Plus, I can now say, "Hey! I have a blog too!" Anything to keep myself in a conversation these days. Didn't want to miss THIS train. Ha.