Monday, August 30, 2010

Have a Lovely Day

There are two things that I don’t want to write about today. One is the Scientist. The other is the Illness. I’d prefer to write about how excited I am to be going on another beach trip in just a few days, or how nice it is to have a quiet day with my boss out. But I don’t have the enthusiasm I normally would have for those things because of the first two. So instead you get this. It's very long, and there are no pictures, so you may want to click over to something with videos of kittens tumbling out of laundry baskets or something else. You were warned.

The Scientist

When I first began to put together some vague thoughts around maybe, MAYBE having a Jellybean on my own, I had lots of concerns. The expense. Daycare. How much more difficult was it going to be to meet someone once I had a child.

You read about it all the time, right? How it’s hard enough finding a man without bringing all kinds of kid issues to the mix. Hollywood loves to tell stories about women trying so hard to find the perfect Daddy that they forget to focus on good Husband qualities (yes, I am thinking of Look Who’s Talking, shh, I love that movie). I thought this was going to be the problem. I was never much of a dater to begin with, and I didn’t really have a lot of worries about the actual act of meeting someone – I was more concerned with my high-to-begin-with expectations, and how I’d look at him as a potential JellybeanDaddy.

Imagine my surprise when I got a few more emails from the Scientist, asking for another date, and felt really, really weird about it. Not happy, not excited. Then my stomach started to hurt. Then I started to shake a little bit. Then I started to feel really seriously panicky. I didn’t want another date. I don’t ever want to see him again. I don’t ever want to go on another date, with anyone.

I.Don’t want to share.Jenny.

That’s what it comes down to. I don’t want someone else in our lives. I don’t want my time with Jelly to include another person. I don’t want to even consider, god forbid, the idea of someone else saying something to her that I don’t agree with. I don’t want someone else playing with her. I don’t want someone else hugging her. I don’t want our routine interrupted, or a critique of how we interact, or my time with her taken away from me.

When I first became pregnant and joined the Single Moms by Choice forum, a lot of women said that they’d been criticized for getting pregnant on their own as being selfish. I thought about that a lot. I think there is a very small percentage of women who might do that, who get pregnant because they are lonely or in a bad situation or hate their lives or whatever, and think a baby will magically make everything wonderful. That’s selfish. The majority of SMBCs are the opposite – getting pregnant is an incredibly selfless act, and they recognize going into it that they are going to give up a lot, and compromise constantly, and struggle and get by and do it all for the benefit of someone else. I never felt like I made a selfish decision as a mother until I was faced with the idea of the second date. The first second date possibility in a very, very long time. Possibly the first the whole time I’ve been doing the internet thing.

I don’t think that a child suffers from a lack of a father, but I do think that a father is a really nice thing to have. I think there are times when not having a father will be very hard on Jelly, and since my driving force since the day she appeared in the world was to do everything within my power to make her life better, I feel like I should do everything I can to get a father for her. I also keenly feel the lack of male companionship, on all kinds of levels, every day.


39 years is a very, very long time to be self-sufficient. It’s a lot of years of having the whole bed to yourself, and watching what you want on TV. It’s a heckuva lot of dates where you see the same personality traits in people that you know you could never live with, where you see a lot of ‘could be’s were you willing to give up more of yourself, but it gets harder and harder to consider doing that. I’m all for pushing myself to try harder, to give more chances, to be more flexible. And there’s a nagging voice at the back of my head that wants to know if I’m pushing people away purposefully, in advance of getting hurt myself, or some such psychological rubbish. I don’t think that’s it. I just don’t think this should feel like such work. I’m tired of the same old ‘get to know you’ questions. I’m exhausted by the thought of saying the right things and looking the right way and fretting about what he thinks. I just don’t want to do it. That’s what it comes down to. I’d love to have someone else to share the responsibility with, and to cuddle up to at night, but when faced with a flesh-and-blood figure with a face, it makes me queasy to picture him in our home. OUTLANDER! INTRUDER! I don’t want to talk to him on the phone. I don’t want to get to know him better. I don’t want him to think he knows me.

My cousin said I might want to consider talking to someone. Like, a professional (not that you guys aren’t awesome). I dunno. Therapy in the past hasn’t done much but annoy me further. Is it possible that, despite all my bitching and complaining to the contrary, I really am happier by myself? Again, I say, I dunno. I do know that I’m going to have to come up with something to say to that very pleasant, very patient, Scientist dude. Um, sorry, but apparently I didn’t really want this. I thought I did, but here it is, and, oh shit, nope, uh-uh, get me the hell out of here. Thank you for your time. Have a lovely day.

The Illness

The three of you who faithfully read every single blog post the very second I click ‘Publish’ know that I am a migraine sufferer. You may also remember that not a lot of drugs have worked for me. And that while most of my migraines are triggered monthly by hormones, they are sometimes triggered by MSG, as well as a myriad of other things including alcohol, caffeine, time zone change, Teletubbies, etc..

Last Thursday evening I got a migraine. One of those out-of-the-blue, on-you-before-you-know-it types. I got the nausea before the headache, which is common for me. I had just put Jenny to bed and felt a little unsettled. Since I hadn’t eaten dinner yet, I made the tragic mistake of trying to settle my stomach with nachos. Yes, I know, don’t even say it. Needless to say, the nachos short visit to my stomach was violently interrupted within about half an hour. As soon as it happened, I knew what was coming, and headed up to bed. I got the electric blanket plugged in, in preparation for the body temperature drop that was imminent, and had a glass of cold water ready by the bedside.

It was bad. Possibly the worst one yet. Despite the fact that I was in an 80 degree room with a heated blanket, I shook and twitched. All my muscles locked up. It usually starts in my abdomen, and travels down my legs. My thighs cramp, then my calves seize up. The pain works its way back up my body, to my midsection where I double up, and into my lower back, fingers of agony then clutching their way up my spine and pulling on my shoulders before settling into my neck at the base of my skull. Normal migraines tend to be a hollow pain on one side. This one made my teeth ache, and my ears ring, and my sinuses pinch. One of the irritating things about a migraine is that there is no distraction from the pain – you can’t focus on anything else. For some reason I repeated the words to ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Was a Bear’ over and over, trying to get my mind of the ripples of knotting going on throughout my body, telling myself I did not need to throw up again.

I threw up again. Unable to move more than a hand to tremulously grab a garbage can near my bed, I clutched it and heaved into dryer sheets and stale Fruit Loops and crumpled papers. I shook so hard that I have bruises on my upper arms where the pail handles dug into me. When I get like this, I also have the added bonus of relieving my bladder, which I uncontrollably did so in my bed. Around this time my temp caught up and I spiked a fever as well. It was not a fun place to be.

So there I was, for 3 more hours, sodden and soiled and sweaty, muscles clenched and unable to release, head throbbing, watching the clock and feeling grateful that Jenny was out of the newborn phase and safely in bed sleeping. Every so often, parched and desperate for relief, I’d try to rinse my mouth with water, but would immediately hurl again. The movement makes me sick to think about. I stopped throwing up around midnight, and the dizziness eventually overwhelmed me long enough to rest for 15-20 minute intervals here and there for the rest of the night.

So. Normally when I have a bit of a rough night like that I understandably feel like I’ve been through the ringer the next day. I have ‘migraine hangover’, where my muscles ache and I’m tired and generally not in a very happy mood. This time, however, was not like that. This was worse. I don’t know if it was just so bad that I triggered cluster migraines or what the deal was. I drove to drop off Jenny and almost threw up in the car. I hadn't showered, had vomit in my hair, and could barely walk. I worked from my bed the rest of the day, and the headaches didn’t go away. Saturday morning I woke up and started to cry. The headache was still there. The nausea was still there. All plans were cancelled. I made it through the day by taking an old Oxycodone prescription every 4 hours, on the dot. It helped enough that I could shower, and clean things up, and get out of the house for a few hours. I kept down the few bites of lunch and felt very positive. Finally, at 6pm Saturday night, like a light suddenly went out, the headache left. I got a good night’s sleep. And woke up with the headache again. And again today. I also broke out with several fever blisters at some point yesterday.

So this afternoon I’m going to see the doctor, although I really don’t expect him to say much. I mean, it’s headaches, what can he do? I’m going to ask for whatever birth control there is where you only have your period like once a year or whatever, because I think the trigger this time was wacky hormones. But, um, it was scary. It was the almost-black-out stuff that got to me. And that was my weekend! Sheesh. So here it is, Monday morning, and I feel like crap and I’m surly and I don’t want to go on any damn stupid date. But I have the beach to look forward to, and that’s a good thing.

Hope that inspired you to feel better about your Monday :-). Next post will be happier, I promise.

**I want to add that lots of people offered to help me, and I really, really appreciate that. Jenny was an angel, and played very nicely by herself, and watched a whole lot of TV, so there's not a whole lot anyone could have done. And apparently, no matter how bad things get, I worry about saving my favors for when it's 'really bad'. I'm dumb that way.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Save the Date

I hope someone is keeping notes about how many times I've posted this week, so that in the future when I go for like, 3 months without posting, I can refer back to it and be like, 'LOOK! I totally delivered soooooooooooooo much entertainment value that one week back in August '10!'. And hopefully no one is thinking, 'Hmm, she must be REALLY stressed at work right now if she's posting so much'. Just move along, people. Gift horses and all that. I'll be fine, really. Just because they keep adding more Beta customers to my list every day, no worries, somehow the magical work fairies will wave wands and sprinkle fairy dust and everything will be just fine.

Besides, I knew you'd all want to know that there was...

another internet date!

Yes, I know I probably said last time that I'd had enough of surprises like, 'I make bongs for a living' and 'I've been in a meth clinic'. But you know me, I get very forgetful about things like that, just like I can't seem to remember that the kid likes her routines and when I mess them up she tortures me. Plus, how am I suppose to get myself hitched to a sugar daddy who will support the Jellybean family in a life of luxury if all I do is sit and criticize all the dating site profiles, and forward them to Ta so we can laugh at them?

So yes, oops, I did it again. And the following is a list of things that should probably not be said on a first date:

1. This would be going a lot better if I wasn’t sober.

2. My hair isn’t normally this big.

3. I would’ve been on time if I hadn’t gotten lost in my own neighborhood.

4. Wearing this outfit was funnier in my head.

5. I should probably take a Lactaid tablet if I’m going to get a Venti Caramel Macchiato.

6. Can we wrap this up soon? I promised myself a Big Mac if I made it through this date.

7. Thankfully your hair does not look at all like the white fro as depicted in your online profile.

8. So if you’re Christian, and a Scientist, does that make you a Christian Scientist?

9. You’re tall and nerdy, you’re totally my type. The pretty ones usually turn out to be gay.

10. Does this shade of lipstick make me look like Barbie, or a hooker?

I somehow managed to avoid saying #1, #5-6, and #10, but I did say all those other things. I don’t know what is wrong with me, I get all spazzy on dates. Ugh. And I really did get lost. I pulled out of my driveway and thought I was going to meet Ta or something, I dunno, I was all nervous and trying not to freak the heck out or sweat through my clothes or foundation. I already had a sweat ‘stache, which is NOT COOL. I also had forgotten to put gas in the car. And my skirt was wrinkled, as I’d just pulled it out of the Old Navy Online packaging, and it was quite possibly on backwards or sideways (the multiple tags and zipper placement were no help). Yes, I wore a skirt. I KNOW. When we were messaging each other I made some stupid comment about how I was way more calm/confident on job interviews than dates, so I should just pretend I was going for a job interview. Halfway through wrangling my runaway thighs into Spanx stockings, I realized it was a terrible idea, but I was already running late, and hadn't shaved my legs, and the only non-mom jeans I own give me terrible muffin top, so I didn't have a lot of options. Also, it had been raining off and on all day, and the weather was threatening-looking. I had enough hairspray in play for things to go very, very badly if any moisture hit my head, and the only umbrella in the car was covered in little yellow duckies. And I really am in desperate need of a new bra right now, so I kept hunching my shoulders to hide the fact that my breasts were resting on my knees. Stupid Starbucks stools.

There were some definite red flags (he hemmed and hawed about how long he’d been divorced, which usually either means it’s been recent enough to still be painful and he’s hoping they’ll get back together, and this date is a way to try to make her see how attractive and wanted he is by other women, or he’s actually still married and just a jerk). His financial situation seems sketch (between grants, has a roommate, didn’t want to tell me what area he lives in, did not offer to get lunch). But he’s the first one to actually ask some questions about Jelly and seem interested (and didn’t blink an eye when I told ‘the story’), which got him points, and he called me 2 minutes before we were suppose to meet to let me know he’d be like 5 seconds late. You know how I am about punctuality (yes, I know I was late, quit pointing out the flaws in my logic, that’s not why we’re here). He’s also tall and very nerdy (dark hair, goatee, glasses, wearing khaki/golf shirt uniform), so that’s totally hot. And by the time I got home there was already a very polite ‘nice to meet you when can we do it again’ message, so dude has some good follow-up. I’ll definitely go out with him again, but only after more details on the ex-wife.

He also made a bong joke. So he was paying attention.

I know how you all love when the dates go badly, so I’ll try harder to mess up the next one more. With my total inability to control anything that comes out of my mouth, my utter lack of fashion common sense, and my desperation to try to avoid seeming like I’m, well, desperate, that should not be a problem. I’ll keep y’all posted.

All that makeup, and I still just look tired. And a little crazy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


On Friday, August 24th, 2007, at approximately 9:30 pm in a private residence in Durham, NC, I was doing what so many other single women my age were doing. I was watching TV in my room, quite possibly enjoying a snack and a beverage, and thinking about what I had on my agenda for work the next day. A very quiet tap, so soft you could almost mistake it for the house settling unless you were expecting it, was heard on one of the double doors that opened into the spacious ‘boudoir blue’ room. I waited a polite few minutes before rising, crossing the space between my chaise and the doors and catching just a glimpse of the top of a head dashing back down the stairs as I grabbed the cup left on my doorstep.

The whole thing had an air of subterfuge and sordidness, but it wasn't exactly a commonplace situation. I went through it for just over 8 months, and every single minute of it felt surreal. A part of me still doesn't think it's possible, that it could actually work, despite the irrefutable evidence that is suppose to be sleeping upstairs but instead keeps trying to sneak into my room.

The next step, of course, was NOT what most women like me were at home doing. The next step involved dipping a needle-less syringe into the tiny precious droplets of goo in the gifted cup (still makes me gag slightly to think of it), and relaxing back on the chaise in the dispirited hope that lightening would strike twice. I'd had a very uncertain and relatively non-traumatic miscarriage a very short time earlier in the month, the kind of thing where I hadn't even really accepted the belief that I was pregnant yet so felt ok to plunge onward. Literally. Since I was doing another attempt immediately, I was totally unexcited about the whole thing. I didn't think it would work. I didn't really believe it had worked in the first place. Normally I was doing 2-3 attempts each month, but that week in August I only did that one-shot deal. I was already having difficulty pushing back the what-ifs; what if this whole thing didn't come to fruition, what if I miscarried again, what if I had to go another route.

Friday, August 24th 2007 Jellybean was conceived.

I would argue about this fact with many healthcare professionals in the next few months, who were unused to women being able to pinpoint conception with such absolute certainty. They said she measured bigger, older, younger, smaller, that it was earlier or later. I would smile and shake my head. Nope, sorry. I KNOW. I may not have known it at the time, or I would have paid more attention to the whole thing instead of whatever show I was watching or worries I had. I would have had a journal about what I was feeling, and thinking, and my hopes and wishes for her. But I know what I was feeling and thinking. I was discouraged, and watching my clock, and feeling things in the house starting to shake and shatter around me. Those first few months were filled with afternoon vomiting, and tears at night, as I rubbed circles on my stomach in the tub and wondered who Jelly would be.

I look back at baby pictures, and the person she was then. I looked down at her earlier today, listening to my heart with her toy stethoscope, declaring me sick and running off to make me some sort of pretend medicinal concoction at her play kitchen. I think I know her now, but she's going to change again in a second. It's scary, and bittersweet, and wonderful, and magical. Just like that night three years ago. Motherhood is the great unknown, always. But if I thought she'd understand I'd tell Jenny that my heart is just fine now.

Myrtle Beach Part 2: Highs and Lowcountrys

Jelly and I set out for Myrtle Beach, August 2010 edition, last Friday afternoon at approximately 1pm. After much back-and-forth with myself, I decided to keep her in a pull up for the 3-hour trip. Roughly halfway there, outside of scenic Lumberton, the non-napping child in the backseat piped up, ‘Try pee pee, mama!’ (it’s totally cute, she doesn’t just say ‘pee!’, she lets me know she think she’d like to try). At that moment I was zooming past a sign for an upcoming exit in ½ mile, so I took it. There happened to be a little Exxon station right there, and because it was totally all about us this past weekend, the outside restroom was – wait for it –UNLOCKED. So our girl made it into the bathroom, dropped off a variety of goods, and we were back on the road, happy and dry. To save you from excruciatingly boring details later, the whole trip was accident-free. On the way home we stopped at the side of the road. For our stay we had her potty chair with us. Even in the pool, she asked to get out and use the bathroom. So yes, you are totally right, Jelly IS amazing, I agree completely.

We arrived just after 4p, got checked in and unpacked, and hit the beach. Jenny met the ocean last Labor Day Weekend, when we went to Wilmington for our now-annual getaway with Ta. The meeting did not go well. She had only recently learned to walk, and the water played cruel, taunting games with her. She was not happy about any of it – the salt, the sand, the sun, the heat – not a fan. Therefore I was unsure how they’d get along this trip.

I shouldn't have worried.

I will say I think she was the youngest person on the beach in miles to brave the surf, headlong and howling at the top of her little lungs. She thought it was hilarious that the undertow tried to drown her. She got knocked down, over and over, with facefulls of saline, and bounced back up to yell some more. As if to say, ‘c’mon, BRING IT!!’. At one point I’m pretty sure she was actually playing tag. And winning. Several couples strolling along the beach attempted to dash in after her, thinking I was a negligent parent. Even more stopped dead, paralyzed by the cuteness of her bathing suit, and unable to move or utter anything other than a drawn-out ‘awwwwwwwwww!’. I had to drag her away from her newfound friend with promises of cupcakes and returning the next day.

She is dipping it in what was labeled 'Buttercream Shot' on the buffet. Seriously?! Is that necessary?!

We hit the strip and went straight to the most overpriced, tackiest establishment I’d read about, and always secretly wanted to visit. One of the many nice thing about a Just Jenny vacation was that I got to make up all the rules. She immediately lost her mind when we were greeted at the door by a pirate giving out bead necklaces, and when she saw sharks hanging inside – I didn’t think she’d ever stop talking about them. Going to a buffet by yourself with a toddler is tricky. If the place is small and you will always have eye contact, you can seat them and go get all the food, but this is rare. Instead, you have to constantly cajole and prod a hungry, tired 2-year old through a crowd of impatient, starving to DEATH vacationers while you juggle plates and try to at least snag a dry cracker for yourself. It’s tough, but you can do it. I learned that Jenny loves, and I mean, LOVES, some crab legs, just like her mama. She would not eat anything else on her plate, except for the aforementioned cupcakes and melon. I thought I was going to need some sort of wrist support for all the cracking I was doing.

The best part was that there was a play area below the restaurant for the kiddies, with play boats and toddler-level aquariums and rides and puzzles and dress up clothes and… you get the picture. We got to Original Benjamin’s Calabash at the perfect time – walked right in, served immediately. So we decided to play after dinner, where all the surly waiting-for-tables people hung out. We were fed, happy, and relaxed. Also, it rained while we were inside eating/playing and stopped exactly 3 minutes before we walked out, so our timing was great. Did I mention we got a parking spot right by the entrance?

After dinner we did a little shopping, to pick up a few souvenirs. I chose a hot pink ‘Myrtle Beach’ hoody, while Jenny talked me into getting her an ‘Elmo’ beach towel and a pool ring/floaty. When we got outside the sun had set, and the palm trees were lit up with Christmas lights. Since I’m pretty hardcore about little girl being in bed by 8pm she seldom sees nighttime, so was very excited. We ramped that up a notch when we got back to the hotel and hit the pool. Did I mention how freaking cool the pool was? When we first got to the hotel I was a little disappointed by the size of it, but quickly realized I was only seeing half of it. See, half the pool was outside, and half was indoors – there was a wall of windows about 2 feet above the middle of the pool, that I presume drops down or closes somehow or something in the winter, and you could actually swim back and forth underneath, inside to outside. SO COOL. Jelly thought it was the best thing ever, and referred to the indoor section as ‘the cave’. Also cool – since we were staying in an ancillary section of the main hotel, almost all the guests went over to the bigger pool, which was crowded and in the direct sun and noisy etc. We had our pool to ourselves almost every single time we went swimming.

After the swim I got the Bean dried off and into cozy jammies, cranked the A/C to 66, had cookies and milk in bed, read some stories, then down she went.

Saturday was pool, then breakfast, then beach, then poolside nuggets for lunch, then naps for both of us, then more beach/pool (I think I calculated 4 hour minimum in the water), dinner at a decent Sushi/Thai place (she ate calamari!! I ate a raw quail egg and almost threw it up!), another night swim (she caught onto that concept real fast – as soon as we hit the parking lot after dinner, it was, ‘Ny swim? Ny swim?’), then a bath and cozy jammies and the trip was done. Sunday’s weather was overcast and grey, and we hit a storm driving home, so we left at the right time. It was very short, but very fun. Why did I eat a raw quail egg? Well, because I didn’t know it would be raw, sheesh, and thought Jelly would like a little piece of baby egg sushi. And then when it arrived, I decided that I can’t teach her to try new things unless I’m willing to do it as well, so she watched wide-eyed as I swallowed it, gagged, drank some water, went beet-red, tried to think of anything other than the consistency of raw egg, and finally took a breath. Then she ate all my mango from the Mangoes with Sticky Rice. Stinker.

Doing it by yourself on vacation is hard, no question. There’s no one ‘extra’ to run upstairs to the hotel room for that one thing you forgot that you desperately want/need. There aren’t any extra hands, for water wings or wandering ones. Once the kid is asleep, you’re trapped in the room. It’s a LOT of one-on-one time. You have to have the kid at the bar with you, which gets you some looks. She still comes first. But I got a lot of extra hugs this weekend. As the pictures show, she was ear-to-ear grins for practically the entire stay. We were still away from everything, which meant relaxing. And, you know. The ocean. A salt breeze, laughter of happy people, good smells, excitement of things to come. The perfect Just Jelly trip.

And we get to do the beach again in less than two weeks, but this time with added bonus Ta (who Jenny asked to go see upon waking this morning, because 'Ta cute!').

You know, Labor Day; long weekend. How lucky are we?!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Myrtle Beach Part 1: Why I Hate an Entire State

My car just hit 100,000 miles, shortly before the weekend getaway to Myrtle Beach (or the mini-break, as I like to call it, since I’m so very Bridget Jones). I love my car. I bought it at a really, really stressful and awful time in my life, and it was a completely stupid purchase that I never once regretted.

Early in the summer of 2003 I was contacted by a recruiter, looking for someone to overhaul a customer service department for a children’s supply company. I was working for a struggling cardiovascular diagnostic group, which was great experience (can you picture me, with my English degree, talking to doctors about Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy technology?), but they had recently added some management and made some changes I didn’t agree with, plus didn’t pay very well and refused to give me the title that matched the work I was doing, so I was ripe for the picking. That sounds kind of gross. Anyhow. Basically I jumped at the offer, which included a salary increase, a chance to do something different, and relocation. Relocation to the happy, sunny, oceanside town of Beaufort, South Carolina.

Much like the rest of the world I had never heard of, or been to, Beaufort. It’s close to Hilton Head but nowhere near as fashionable. Their claim to fame is mostly ‘military establishments’ and antebellum historic homes, which sounds fancy but means the town looks very pretty, but is totally a craphole.
They have to use mini-bottles in their bars, so no drink can be more than 2 oz. As IF?!

I listed my house on the market and rented a lower-level furnished apartment in a small block of concrete where the A/C never got colder than about 82 degrees and made so much noise you could hear it from the parking lot, and started my new role attempting to institute a series of exciting department changes for surly, despondent military wives who had been doing the same thing in the same way for 20 years. My boss, Beecher Hoogenboom (TOTALLY SERIOUS), looked exactly like Christopher Lloyd only more crazy, lived in the house ‘The Big Chill’ was filmed in, and offered helpful suggestions for managing the team like ‘lie to them’.

As you can guess, things went badly from day one. I thought living at the beach in the summer would be the most awesome thing ever, but I was so homesick and lonely and just plain damn hot that the experience was miserable. My boyfriend at the time, who I was pretty sure was The One, had commitment issues that were exacerbated by my unhappiness and longing to be rescued from a bad situation. So there were constant fights, and long drives back and forth between Raleigh and Beaufort as I tried to sell my house, and lots of tears on Sunday nights when I had to drive back. And humidity. The A/C in my car, a used Cavalier, died sometime around July. I was sweaty and sad before I even walked in the door of my ‘office building’, a warehouse crammed with cubicles in the middle of the swamp. My employees resented me, especially the one who had been promised my job, and the only friends I had were a girl who talked non-stop about the awesomeness of Virginia Tech, and a binge-drinking bulimic who thought it was funny to write notes on napkins to strangers in bars and say they were from me. I took a couple drives to the beach and tried to cheer myself up with roadside crab claw and shrimp purchases, but that just resulted in a decidedly foul stench in my soggy trunk (*not* a euphemism). I joined a local gym but gained 17 lbs because all I cooked for dinner were fries with cheese and bacon. Friends who took pity on me came for visits. You know it was bad because even The Ta, who despises all things cramped and humid and only 2 oz, and has a fear of driving over water (of which there is PLENTY in SC) came for a weekend, despite a dangerous single-bed pullout that cut my cousin Jim.

She's so pretty when she sleeps.

Eventually I admitted to myself it just wasn’t the right thing for me, packed my little hot mess Cavalier with as much stuff as I could and threw out the rest (this is why I don't own a Swiffer), and drove back to what was truly home. Thankfully the house hadn’t sold and I had a home to return to. The day I gave my 2-week notice I went and test-drove the Pontiac Vibe, a short-lived line of cars that were brilliantly designed (household outlet in the dash!) and looked like they would be easy to get a carseat in and out of, since I was already thinking Jellybean thoughts at that time. People could not believe I would buy a brand-new car with no job, but I could not begin to deal with the idea of driving around to job interviews IN AUGUST in the South with no air. It’s the only time I’ve quit a job without another already lined up, and it’s the only new car I ever bought. Luckily I did what I needed to do to make it through (took a day job as a receptionist, and a night job at a market research call center, aka ‘where hope goes to die’), and had good friends that were an incredible emotional (and financial) support. The boyfriend and I broke up shortly thereafter, which I am only now finally getting over, and I decided I HATED SOUTH CAROLINA, which was partially to blame. No one was allowed to mention what was henceforth referred to as The Bad Place to me ever again. April through August of 2003 just did not happen.

So. That being said.

I love Myrtle Beach. LOVE. Despite the fact that I still get slightly sick to my stomach and panicky when I see the ‘Welcome to SC’ sign, there is something about Myrtle Beach that speaks to me. It’s touristy. It’s brash. Days are slow and sleepy, and nights are neon and fast. I first visited with my family and high-school boyfriend when I was what, 17? Although I live so darn close (a mere 3-hour drive, it turns out), I’ve only ever been back a handful of times. Once with my sister N for a girl's weekend. Once with Loud and Quiet for a wedding. Once with my family for an ill-conceived Christmas holiday. Once for New Year’s with my friend Traci, where a dude in a bar with fish swimming under the dance floor shoved a handful of lettuce down the front of my dress and told me I was about to become an all-you-can-eat salad bar.

When Jelly and I go to the lake I like to tell myself that it’s almost as good. Maybe better, because the water isn’t salty and there aren’t annoying waves or people from Texas shaking cigarette ash off their hotel balcony into the pool water. But then I get to the beach, and it’s the ocean. It roars, and Jenny runs out into the waves and roars back, and shakes her fat little fists at it, then laughs hysterically and races on pudgy little legs back to the safety of the shoreline, where she gathers seashells and digs at wet sand and marvels at the planes with their advertising banners. We go eat crab legs, and I can’t keep up with her, and she hides from the pirate and rings the bell in the play area, and then back at the hotel later there is night swimming in the dark with lights on all the trees and it’s like magic. I sing Catch a Falling Star even though I only know those two lines, and Jelly is in love with all of it and sleeps til 8:30 in the morning and I think, yes, this is the best place in the whole world.

To be continued...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Box of Bento

Ok, so remember how on Monday, I had posted that I had ordered some stuff?


I LOVE to get a package. Know what I love even more than getting a package? Getting a package like, FIVE SECONDS after I order it!!! I know, right?!! Check that action out!

All Things for Sale dot com - I heart you. Truly, madly, deeply. Because there is nothing better than very-close-to-immediate gratification. Go shop there! I got cute free gifts (including a little strawberry pink bento box!) and everything I ordered looks totally awesome. I already know what my favorite things are. And I have to rethink that whole 'put-food-picks-in-a-toddler's-lunch' thing, because while they are shockingly adorable, they also look like something she'd pop in her mouth, get halfway down her throat, and have her esophagus pierced by. So, uh, I might hold off on those for a while. Or maybe we'll do some trial bento box runs so she can practice being overwhelmed by their cuteness, while growing accustomed to their inediblity (yes, I know that's not a word, I was an English major you know).

Now to just make it through the next few watching-the-clock-anxiously hours until I can go snag the Bean and play with this stuff...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Lunch Boxe$

Who knew packing a lunch was so damn expensive?

Before today, I didn’t know that such a thing as an ‘egg mold’ or ‘food punch’ even existed. I knew about food markers and couldn’t wait to get my hands on some, mostly because any decorating like that I’d done in the past I’d laboriously hand-painted, all the while muttering that there HAD to be a better way. But like I said, ‘food dividers’ and the like had never managed to cross my path. Until today. Because today, I decided to research bento boxes.

Some of you are laughing now. Laughing because you know what bento boxes are, and have yourself succumbed to the siren song of little environment-friendly BPA-free food containers that are also super freaking adorable. You may already have packed a bento box or two yourself. But for those of you who are looking confused, don’t worry. You are going to hear PLENTY about bento boxes. Because I am going to be the thing we all hate. I am going to be THAT mom.

You know, the mom whose kid always has clean clothes and socks that match. The mom who volunteers to make cupcakes, and not only remembers to do it more than 5 seconds before the event, but actually does make them. The mom who goes on field trips and knows interesting facts, the mom who reads the notes that come home, the mom who doesn’t have to be prompted by a 2-year old to change the bed linens. Yes, I am going to be the mom who packs an awesome, healthy, creative, fun lunch.

Now, those of you who didn’t know me pre-Jelly may not know I’m actually a very craftsy person, when I have hours and hours of free time, energy, sleep, money… (you get the idea). I’ve gone through all the requisite phases that women of a certain age pass through – Fabric Painting, Quilting, Decoupage, Sewing, Rag Painting, Scrapbooking, and Knitting (I have not yet hit Jewelry Making but have been tempted). Since Jelly’s scrapbook is stuck on the ‘Home from the Hospital’ page, and I just can’t seem to cope with sorting through the 8 million photos I took in her first 5 seconds of life, I welcome a different project (no, I have not painted the playroom yet, thanks for reminding me and SHUT IT).

The idea of making little cute bunny shapes out of normal household foodstuffs, and accessorizing with ornamental pics and tragically adorable condiment holders makes me breathe a little faster. Vegetable cutters that will make a carrot magically look like a flower, some questionable device that will turn a hot dog into either an octopus or, well, another flower (those Japanese love their flower-shaped food, apparently), and a banana keeper have all been purchased. I made the mistake of going to this site, see. And, well, you know how I love to shop online. While it is totally true that Jellybean refuses to eat sushi, she does like a goodly amount of other Asian-inspired delights; several members of the Thai family, noodles, rice, basically any carb. So I will be practicing more the art of 'kyara-ben', or 'character bento', than nori-based bento. I also think it's hilarious that it's another way for crazy moms to compete ('look how much cuter my kid's lunch is!'), so I'm onboard with that.

I spent some time this weekend (when I was not watching squirrels water ski) perusing lunchbox blogs, of which there are a surprising amount. This will not become another. Err, at least not intentionally or permanently. But I do have plans to stretch my imagination to create works of art, twice weekly, that would tempt even the pickiest of toddlers. You see, Jellybean starts preschool in two weeks. I got the lunchbox in the mail on Friday and it’s awesome. I’ll go take a pic of it right now for you (scurries off to locate camera and necessary cord to upload said pic). Ok, I cheated and used the iPhone, but here you go.

Yes, I paid for it with her first year’s college tuition fund, it was ridiculous, you can totally make fun of me. But look! So cute! Interchangeable, personalize-able faceplates! And the little containers! The weird looking thing on the side is a removable drink holder. And the handle can be moved, so you can carry it both length- and width-wise. The whole thing comes apart and goes in the dishwasher. It will be easy for her to open, easy to carry, easy to clean after I forget about it and leave it in the car over the weekend. Good thinking, huh? Oh, and there’s also a little ice pack that fits into the bottom. I got the whole starter kit, from yubo. No, you're right, observant fans, it's not a bento box, I am still looking at several options for more of a true bento box-type containment unit. If you have recommendations for me, or suggestions of things you'd like someone else to try first in case they totally suck, please leave me a comment. I like to beta test anything other than my software product.

I’ve put together my initial list of actual meal ideas, broken down into sandwiches, sandwich alternatives, snacks, desserts, and tips/tricks (sprinkles in yogurt! Cream cheese dyed blue served with goldfish!). I have both meat and vegetarian options, and try to include representation from all food groups so no one feels left out. I am pretty sure Jenny’s teacher is going to roll her eyes the second she sees it, because I know I sure as heck would’ve when I taught. I’m also pretty sure Jenny will be like, ‘lady, what the heck is wrong with you?’ and most of it will come back home because, well, she’s still two and very fickle and likes to make me shriek with frustration.

It’s the thought that counts, right?

And in case you thought I was joking, meet Twiggy. I did not photoshop this. I did, however, punch The Ta in the arm as hard as I could for making me sit through it.

Happy Monday, blog fans! Don't expect goods like this next week.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Really, Monday Again?

I got tagged by an extremely good-looking and refreshingly honest mom-friend-blogger over yonder, and since I have been experiencing Bad Blogger guilt, figured I'd just go ahead and do the damn thing.

1. Sum up your blogging motivation, philosophy and experience in exactly 10 words.
2. Tag 10 other blogs to perpetuate the meme

Sheesh, that's a lot to try to cram into just 10 words.
Ok, here's mine:

1. Openly document achieving (single) motherhood to share, scare, and remember.

2. Other awesome ladies;
Yes, I can clearly see that is only 5. However, I have recently tried to prune my list of who I'm following, and I don't think I should tag my favorite salt or trashy entertainment news blog. Yes, I follow a salt blog. Mmmmm... salt.

In other exciting news - OMG JELLYBEAN IS SUCH A ROCKSTAR!!!!!!

Yes, another potty training post, my apologies. But until you know the happiness that is no longer having to touch someone else's poo - you do not know happiness. On second thought, I'm pretty sure you know happiness if you never have to touch someone else's poo in the first place, so scratch that. But, SO HAPPY. My mum had said we were in the clear last week based on how great Jelly was doing, but I was skeptical (waiting for the other, uh, shoe, to drop). However, after this weekend, I think that I could quite fairly declare, done.

Yes, done.

With a 2-year old.

I know, right?!!
Since I know you are also skeptical, and rightly so, I submit for your reflection the following three examples;

1. We were at a playdate at McDonald's and she both poo'd and peed in the potty there (she has no fears of using public potties, even with auto-flush).
2. She has never had an accident in the car.
3. I was upstairs folding laundry (ok, you caught me, I was moving wet laundry from the washer to the dryer, and throwing what was in the dryer either in an old diaper box on the floor or on top of the machine) and when I got back downstairs, Jenny was just getting up from the potty. So she identified the need to go, got there in time despite the lure of Thomas the Train, pulled down her pants/lifted her shirt on her own, and did her bidness by herself. Like it was totally no big deal at all.
4. This morning she woke up dry, got out of bed and used the potty by herself. #1 AND #2.

Yes, I know there were four examples, but I think I've already proven myself bad with math today. It's a Monday, you know.

So for those of you struggling - IT CAN BE DONE. For those of you with boys - pay someone else to do it (I swear, the majority of my friends have little boys and they are MONSTERS when it comes to PTing, the horror stories - ).
I am so proud of her. I am still reading all the PTing pointers and they crack me up. It's like, 'don't make too big a deal because you don't want them to get all worked up about it and they'll never pee again'. I would turn cartwheels when she goes, if I had ever learned to do a cartwheel but didn't because I was too afraid of getting my fat butt up over my head.

Best of all, she is proud of herself. For the Bean, who loves to be independent and a 'big guhl!', she knows that it's a big deal and that she is totally awesome. I'm glad I could help give her that.