08 November 2010

bigger = better?

(The wireless internet was having some problems all day yesterday, so I'm extending the end date another day, to April 23rd, to compensate once again.)

I'd always believed that I lived in a city.  I would whine and complain to myself because I didn't live in the country.  I would rant about having to put up with city folk.  But that was before I came here.

This city more than dwarfs mine.  Our Walmart super centers have two main entrances; theirs has three.  We have one highway connector; I've lost track of how many there are here.  On and on.  It's a regular realization now that the city I live in is more a big town instead.

But bigger does not mean better.  We have more friendly faces, significantly less litter, visible street signs, regular postings of speed limits, and are pedestrian friendly.  With all the crosswalks, pedestrian lights, and pedestrian right of way that I'm used to, there is an enormous culture shock to be here where almost none of that exists.

07 November 2010

opportunities lost

I struggle very much with control.  I like to know exactly what's going to happen and how to respond to it.  I like things to stay the way I am used to them being.  I like things to be reliable.  I've grown a lot - even last year I'd be saying "need" instead of "like".  But I still find myself spending tons of time in preparation for any known upcoming event.

Take, for example, my first experience flying.  I felt so vulnerable stepping out into the unknown in this way that I became consumed with research.  I studied and compared and learned all the necessary steps and actions.  I discovered that countless people have been or felt mistreated by airport security, and worried that I would find myself in a similar scenario.  I prepared by memorizing words to say and tones to use them in.  As clearly as possible I defined to myself the line of safety vs. fear in compliance with unnecessary regulations.  I seriously considered how far I'd be willing to bend on privacy in situations that might come up.  I practiced respectfully declining things I concluded through research to be too invasive or harmful.  I meticulously went over my packing list, ascertaining that nothing I brought would be against regulations.  I planned in great detail how to pack my bag so that there could be no confusion on the X-ray.  I prepared for the possibility that my bags would be searched, ensuring that my bags were packed in such a fashion as would allow contents to be gone through speedily and with extremely small risks of mess, and would also assist in speedy re-packing.

I studied the specifications for carry-on and personal items.  I checked weather conditions to determine whether I needed a coat or jacket and the space to put it.  I selected a personal item capable of containing reading material as well as all the other personal things that I required, so that I wouldn't need to spend time taking those things out of pockets.  I carefully chose the outfit I'd wear while flying: pants with no pockets, zipper or button, that did not need a belt; a nursing tank, to prevent the possibility of a bra's underwire setting off the metal detector; shoes that were both comfortable and quickly and easily removed and put back on.

The results couldn't have been better.  Even though I'd never done any of it before, the research and preparation I had put myself through made me so confident in what I did that a few uncertain strangers viewed me as an experienced flyer, and thereby someone who could assist them.  Similarly, at the second time through security for my connecting flight, the man scanning my bag commented that it was the best packed bag he'd seen in a long time.  I zipped through security because I was so efficient.

But at what cost?  Looking back, I sacrificed almost two weeks to obsessive research of how to fly successfully.  It consumed my free time, and even some of the time I had for minor responsibilities (folding laundry, for one).  I  declined daily opportunities to play and hang out with my children so that I could read more research.  I was so focused on it that I got horrifically snippy when I had to stop prematurely to take care of sibling squabbles, unscheduled messes, another insistence of growth-spurt related hunger, child climbing somewhere and forgetting how to get back down, or whatever other issue they deemed screaming-worthy.

Sure, I had an phenomenal and highly positive experience flying because of all that research that I did, but was it really worth the cost to stop a few short-lived moments of looking like I don't have it all together?

catching up

I missed two posts the last two days, and for that I apologize to anyone following this journey.  Friday was busy, and the time I could have used to post was eaten up by a very long and satisfying conversation with my husband.  Even though I will be seeing him very shortly (he's on his way now!), I couldn't help but let the conversation not only eat up spare time, but also significantly encroach on my ability to get sleep that night.  Not only did I miss the blog, but I was too busy packing and completing my checklists to be able to sleep at all.

Last night I fully intended to spend my evening alone writing - first here, and then unleashing a whirlwind on my NaNoWriMo project.  I passed out before completing the first sentence in yesterday's post.  Flying, a brand new experience to me, takes a lot more energy than I had given it credit for, seeing as it really is just a lot of sitting.  Of course it might have helped had I gotten sleep the night before.

Regardless, I missed two days.  To compensate, I am extending the end of this challenge by two days.

04 November 2010

the might be

How far do I let myself be pushed by fear?  The question occurred to me as I did some research into airport security.  I was surprised to see how much fear rules us when it comes to airplanes.  We allow ourselves to be pushed and pushed and almost beg for rights, freedom, and privacy to be stolen from us, all because we are afraid that something might happen when we're in the air.  The irony is, the same people who fret and worry about airplane security don't even blink when they get into a car - when they buckle their little babies in and drive them around.  Cars are infinitely more dangerous than airplanes, yet they are completely oblivious.

I have let fear dictate my driving, my public parenting, the way I interact with people.  But when it comes to airplanes, I'm not afraid.  I am, however, nervous.  I don't like doing new things for the first time.  I don't like not knowing what to expect.  I don't like how there are no set in stone rules and regulations - it all depends on which airport you're at, who's on shift, what kind of day the TSA employee is having, how consumed by power the screener is.  Even the most basic rules differ, sometimes drastically, and apparently not every employee is aware of the official regulations posted by the TSA.

New security measures are coming into play, and I am sickened by the amount of people reporting feelings of violation, fear, self-hate, sexual assault, and trauma because of these new attempts to keep us safe from what might happen.  I am horrified that many of them, far too many of them, merely accept this abuse because there's the slightest chance that maybe it will keep that bad thing that might happen from happening.

I am horrified because I can relate, and I'm sick of it.

03 November 2010


After spending 3-4 hours in a feverish writing frenzy that just happened to occur after midnight on October 31st (thereby falling upon November 1st), I realized two things.  One was that I am so intrigued by the brand new story that was unveiling itself that there is no hope of ceasing writing until I reach the yet unknown ending; the second was that I had unknowingly begun this project within the time limits of NaNoWriMo.  Deciding I'd be writing feverishly on the story as it was, I signed up to participate.  Besides, the 4,584 words I'd written in the wee hours of November 1st were an excellent starting point.  And as extra reasoning, there is enough unhappy craziness unleashed in my life right now; why not add some happy, creative insanity to balance it out?

NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as the National Novel Writing Month, is in its 11th year.  It is a mad dash to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days (and nights), beginning at 12:01am November 1st and ending at 12:00am December 1st.  The reward for winning?  Personal satisfaction and bragging rights.  (I have heard mention of a certificate being mailed, but not from official sources.)

As a part of the month, there are Write-In's, where participants gather to consume caffeine and sugar while working feverishly on their works in progress.  Some of these are friends gathering in each other's homes, others take place at libraries or stores (usually those that sell books) that have opened their doors to celebrate the unleashing of creativity.  I probably won't make many of those, but the knowledge of the local NaNo community boosts my confidence.

Tonight I am at 8,034 words.  Most of my writing takes place in the sleepless hours of night (which coincide with the natural bolstering of my writing ability and desire that comes between the hours between midnight and 6am).

Will I win, or will I just have fun trying my hand at it?  I don't know, but I am ready to find out.  I'll be posting regular updates on word count and progress.  (One of the effective tricks to complete that the founders discovered was the deliberate use of humiliation over falling short, created by telling everyone you know and pass in the street what you're doing.)

02 November 2010

small victories

Today, if I get nothing else productive done, I will be confident in the fact that I managed to wash another load of laundry, clean up some of the mess in the bedroom, and fold a big armful of clothes.  It's a hard thing to decide - and it is a decision - to be content with small victories.  Maybe more needed to be done, but from now on I am going to be proud of what was actually accomplished.  I'm tired of ending each day feeling like a failure because I didn't take care of everything, so I'm going to change my mentality.  Tonight, I'll leave what was left unfinished for tomorrow.  I'm not going to tire myself out by going through the nightly regrets.

I'll also be confident in the "unproductive" things that I did - spending time with my kids, or getting some me time, or sending a letter, as some examples.  Because those are victories, too.

01 November 2010

new eyes

Last night's adventure into Halloween reminded me of many things I'd forgotten over the years.  I'm excited that Yonah is old enough now to enjoy it like I once did.  It's more fun for me now that I get to live it through his eyes, somehow.  At the same time, I'm more aware of the irony of the holiday than ever before . . . The festive "Happy Halloween" signs next to skeletons, skulls, and other distinctly un-happy decorations.

Maybe I'll follow my sister-in-law's lead in renaming October 31st "Dress Like Batman Day" - even though we didn't dress like Batman at all.  Instead we were a fearsome dragon with claws like Wolverine to fight bad guys, a growling duckling, and a weekend warrior.  (Yes, I dressed up as my husband, and Yonah had a blast calling me Dad all night and complained about missing Mommy.)

As for next year, I'm already planning ahead.  We'll need a calm dog, a pig costume for the dog, a manner to fasten a small child to said dog, a monkey costume, and the latest addition to our family.  All because of this cursed song . . .

I'm just kidding about the dog.  Mostly.