Tag: Blogging

1Dec

Gloom and Cheer

My little sister is sixteen and gorgeous. She sports a sparkly little nose stud, stylish clothes, and a haircut adorable enough to kill. She brims over with smiles, and in the Thanksgiving pictures, she and my mom are cheek-to-cheek with matching lipgloss, making silly faces together. I grin at the photos, but I can’t help the urgent stinging under my eyelids.

It’s not jealousy. I love my sister, and I’m quite honestly delighted with my current life. However, I wasn’t when I was her age. Frumpiness was thrust upon me young, and I spent nearly every moment of my early teenage years sinking with humiliation. Sinking and hiding. My mother—burdened with griefs I’m only now beginning to understand—never smiled at me. We never giggled together or shared makeup or staged silly photos. Any photos, for that matter. And when I see my beautiful sister and my beautiful mom having fun together, it inflames my war wounds. I may be a decade and an ocean removed from my past, but recovery still eludes.

Holidays in particular bring out the tangles in my emotions. No matter how happy I am with my sweet husband and precious girls, I can’t entirely forget the family life that once hurt me so deeply—the tense mealtimes, the clouds of violence, and the Christmastime hopes that always failed to fully materialize. While the New Year rang in on my fifteenth year, I lay in bed discussing suicide with myself. Happy holidays!

If I could ask any gift from my sister this year, it would be a memory—just one would do, and I’d return it in perfect condition. If I could just once remember my teenage self feeling beautiful or treasured or brimming over with shared smiles… well, Christmas would be a bit easier to look forward to.

With the gloom worked out of my system, I have to say that I really am excited about this month. We’re planning Christmas crafts and outreach projects and deliciously sneaky shopping trips with frost-tipped noses and hot chocolate at the end. One of my favorite parts of the holiday is planning gifts for friends, and I certainly can’t overlook the wonderful blog community this year. My husband may be getting tired of me telling him how much I like the internet, but I really do. I’m madly in love with it. I love having a place to spill my thoughts and having you all sop them up for me, and I love the way gratuitous kindness can spread unhindered across the globe. I know it’s not much, but I’m excited to send out a little end-of-the-year gift to you in time for Christmas. (Hint: It’s a recipe, and it’s Italian, and I promise it will be in the best interest of your happiness… and that of your sweet tooth. Enough said.) Just e-mail me with your mailing address, and I’ll send an envelope of holiday cheer your way! ‘Tis the season… and I’m grateful for you all.

26Nov

Mismatched Socks

Thirteen minutes, by my calculations, until the girls are awake… or at least half-awake, rosy from sleep, and needing closeness. Such little time, and as always—do I do, or do I write?

I think constantly these days about something Jenn Mattern once wrote, about her writing not being widely accepted because it was too haphazard. Too funny and too serious all at once with no firm publishable constant. That’s me, I think. My writing style is as steadfast as mismatched socks… much like my days, swooping from hilarity to dejection and always the vague sense that I’m not getting it right. I hesitate so often to blog because I just don’t know where to take this next. This isn’t a mommy blog or an ex-pat blog or a humor blog or a depression blog. It’s the unwashed contents of my brain, and who really wants to see that?

I’m in wildly different emotional territory than I was a year ago, but I can still feel these gray mornings tugging like gravity. I lie in bed until the last possible moment and wish and wish I knew what to expect throughout the day. The week. The month. Every uncharted moment faces me like a linebacker as I try to figure out if I am really as messy as I feel right now. Who knows? Maybe these daily giggles and heartaches are more of a gorgeous mosaic rather than a mess. I can’t help but hope so, at any rate… And until I figure out what kind of mosaic it is, this will just have to be a haphazard blog. Thank you for braving me.

21Oct

Warning: Do Not Scrapbook

I’ve caught that little internet cold that makes its rounds during the chilling downslope of seasons. I was hoping, sincerely, to catch the homey enchantment of A Week In A Life instead; everyone’s week looks so lovely in detail, and scrapbooking! What says “I am a fount of creativity and time-management” more than that? (I have a beautiful bin of scrapbooking supplies myself, but it only comes out during weeks my family agrees not to eat or wear clothes or use the floors. So, not often.) I did try starting a Week In A Life post, and it went like this:

Monday

7:30 a.m. – My alarm goes off, even though I don’t remember setting it last night. I kick husband repeatedly until he gets up to turn it off for me (thankfully for our marriage, he understands I’m not accountable for anything before 10 a.m… and sleeps with me anyway). I lie in bed thinking violent morning thoughts, ruing the day I was born, etc. until Sophie’s hungry shrieks become impossible to tune out.

8:30 a.m. – Natalie, who is coughing up bits of spleen, is sent off to the doctor who prescribes antibiotics and staying home from school. We have a solid ten minutes of fun dusting the living room before she deteriorates into boredom as I start Hour #1 of dishes for the day. “Mommy, can you pleeeeease play with me? Mommy, can you pleeeeease read with me? Mommy, isn’t it a struggle not to succumb to the guilt of wasting away my precious childhood by scrubbing windows that will just be grimy again by the weekend?” She hasn’t coughed once since getting back from the doctor’s, of course.

12:30 p.m. – Sophie, who may or may not be teething, is up from her nap and wants to be held. I, multi-tasker though I am, have limits and cannot manage to hold her whilst simultaneously mashing the potatoes, hanging the wet laundry, and washing Hour #2 of dishes before Dan gets home for lunch. Sophie stands in the middle of the room perfecting her Nazgûl scream. Natalie is frustrated with her puzzle and begins to cry. My sanity calls in a sick day.

Technically, the week started with Sunday, but that found me three seconds away from a nervous breakdown at church, complete with bloodthirsty fantasies toward Natalie’s Sunday School class bully and the very near cussing-out of the kindly old people pestering Sophie into gut-wrenching sobs. It hasn’t exactly been a scrapbook-worthy week.

No, the internet cold I got is the one that makes people forget who they want to be when they grow up and lose inspiration for everything from art to regular showering and wonder why they keep blogging anyway. I caught it right in the face, too. It’s a doozy of a mental crisis, and it usually distills down to The House. More specifically, the messes that characterize The House. Even more specifically, the hours upon vain hours I spend cleaning up the messes that characterize The House under some sort of delusion that it will stay clean. You know, at least for 24 hours.

And now you know how much of a pansy I am. Historically significant elections are going on, my nation is teetering on the brink of economic collapse, war and terrorism are flourishing in the Middle East… and I’m falling into pieces over misplaced loads of laundry and smushed carpet peas. Who knows—maybe The House is just a metaphor for some greater mental tableau I can’t adequately process. I hope I’m that deep.

In some ways, it’s exciting to be in the midst of a breakdown. It means that something is happening, that I could wake up tomorrow with an epiphany or a new superpower. On the other hand, it means I’ve written nary a word in days. It means I feel both aimless and harrowed, and my brain tissue by now is mostly held together with smushed peas. And lemme tell ya—that, combined with soap-splattered clothes and my lack of showering inspiration? Is not a lovely thing.

21Apr

Public Service Announcement

This is a public service announcement:
Mortification Monday is on temporary hiatus while I hook up to a coffee IV and pound out meaningful and inspired art 24/7 finish A Project. Blogging may be sparse for the next few weeks, but don’t worry; I’ll still be lurking in the fringes of the internet, popping in from time to time to shake off the coffee jitters. In the meantime…

What we Bassetts do when dinner guests are late:

PARTY!

19Feb

Construction Zone

I know people whose days are shaped like circles, bringing them smoothly back to their concentric beginnings each night. I know of others’ days like squares and rectangles and octagons, structured in short, linear periods. Some ambitious people live in shooting lines, and some spontaneous ones ride out dizzy rollercoasters. Little children play on their days like playground equipment; octogenarians sink into theirs like pillows. PMSing women survive days shaped like chocolate briar patches. And my days? They’re the erratic patterns of an echocardiogram.

That upward peak is my heart bursting into light when one of the girls giggles, and that downward surge is my pessimistic realization of how quickly their joy will be diluted by age. This low point is the laundry basket lid, floating on the sea of my never-ending responsibilities, and this hopeful spike is an uninterrupted hour to pretend I’m Zen. That sudden quickening is a mad dash of courage to leave the house, and this gentle slowing is a half-asleep bear snuggle with my family. The points fluctuate, beeping steadily, a constant gauge of my emotions.

I once overheard someone close to me indicate that “moody” women aren’t worth marrying. That thought has stuck perniciously with me. I think of it during both up and down moments and especially during those dark flat-lining days. I’ve spent numerous birthday wishes on stability. I’ve hammered at my brain, trying to reshape its landscape, trying to replicate those titanium-plated models I envy. After all, multi-colored emotions = moodiness = worthlessness.

But believe it or not, self-performed brain surgery doesn’t work. Not even when I’m desperate for a transplant and especially not when my fingers are skidding on the guilt of being “complicated.” I often feel defective, and, unfortunately, the frontal lobe doesn’t come with a return policy. (Damn frontal lobe.) I guess this is the main reason there are often gaps and caverns and craters of time between my blog entries–because I can’t think of anything un-moody to write about–because no one will want to marry me* if I can’t equalize my feelings.

However, there’s this funny thing about the blogosphere… It’s made up of people–real people, not just unattainably cool, authory ones–who “sit down at a typewriter and open a vein” as Red Smith said. And I’m learning, in large part due to some wonderful, open-hearted bloggers, that nearly every woman is an emotional storybook. I had no idea that so many women found themselves dog-paddling through sudden oceans in their minds. Loneliness. Confusion. Depression. Doubt. Frustration. Irrationality. Pessimism. I also hadn’t realized how many women buoy the world with their hearts. Creativity. Appreciation. Compassion. Hope. Wonder. Devotion. Beauty in a million shades.

I’m still thick in my quest to disown regret, and this might need to become a construction zone. Maybe we women were made this way on purpose, to touch a largely impersonal world with our varying forms of tenderness. Maybe our emotions provide both the balance and the upheaval necessary for life to plunge forward. Maybe vulnerability shouldn’t be shamed or hidden or stigmatized. Maybe I should stop grimacing at my honest reflection on the page. Maybe someone can remind me that the heart monitor’s peaks and valleys and persistent beeps signal above all that I’m alive.

*Except my glorious husband, who insists on liking me despite my chronic unmarriageableness. (::Love::)

31Jan

Voodoo vs. Violence

This has been a weird week. I’ve woken up most mornings feeling like someone mixed together liver and onions in my soul and not even the largest tub of orange sherbet could alleviate the horror. (Not like we can actually get orange sherbet here… Excuse me while I weep.) I’ve tried blogging, but the High Voodoo Witchpriest of Blogger keeps sticking pins into a little model of my brain, particularly the part that controls EVERYTHING. Last night, some monkeys infected with rage escaped their lab and zombified everyone in England. Then this morning over breakfast, Natalie calmly said, “Mom, I don’t appreciate your singing.” (Weird, I know. I’m a wonderful singer! Which is why I don’t even sing in front of The Hubby, for fear of overwhelming him with my wonderfulness. Ahem.)

Sticker-nose 1

However, no matter how liverandoniony the last several days have been, they have been periodically jolted with a kind of happiness that voodoo can’t touch: Sophie grinning and kicking and exploding into little pieces of glittery happiness while she tells me all about her day (met a new boyfriend, learned the Riverdance, ate milk). Natalie spinning in clumsy, delighted circles, singing at the tip-top of her lungs about robots and slimy snails and how the writer’s strike should be over already and how she loves us. Dan walking in the door from work, smelling scrumptiously like his red leather coat, rain, and aftershave, his arms instantly open to wrap me up. That moment just before I crawl into bed when I peek into the girls’ room and hear them breathing in harmony, their precious little faces serene and dream-dappled. That moment just after I crawl into bed when I finally relax from the day, melting into my husband and knowing we’ll be tangled together in the quiet until tomorrow.

Sophie adoring her dad

So. Glasses are up there in our leprous credenza. Champagne is in the fridge. We’ll give away the furniture so that more than 2.5 of you can fit in our kitchen and invite someone who knows how to make a touching speech, and we’ll all share a toast to happiness. Then we’ll infect ourselves with rage and take it out on the world’s liver and onions, because everyone knows gratuitous violence is the secret to happiness. Who’s with me?

12Sep

Is There Life Outside of Blogging?

What I’ve been doing instead of blogging:

– Staggering around in a state of mild extreme shock at the fact that our earthly possessions actually made it across the ocean and to our door. Intact! In just one month! Our stuff! (Keep in mind that we haven’t had access to it since May. See, it’s not that bizarre for me to keep groping our lovely, soft mattress…)
– Unpacking, and unpacking, and then unpacking just a ton more.
– And cleaning, which you would think could have the decency to wait for a week or two while I tackle our sea of boxes. (You would be wrong.)
– Eating marvelous food at the homes of marvelous new friends, and keeping up with conversation more easily every time. Perhaps I will learn Italian after all, despite the fact that I have been
– Not studying my Italian books. Bad, Bethany, bad!
– Growing more bellyful and simultaneously less capable of things like movement and rational thought.
– Pining away for DSL, which I am estimating–based on current speed and helpfulness of phone company–will arrive in 2010.
– Forgetting how to write.

To those of you still reading, thank you. I’ll get back into my daily rhythm eventually. Or rather, since I haven’t had a daily rhythm since EVER, I’ll just try to carve out more quality time with my laptop in between unpacking the picture frames and forgetting where I put them. (Ah, the joys of placenta brain…)

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