2014: Kilroy Was Here

In prior years, I felt very sentimental on New Year’s Eve and spent time plumbing the depths of the year to acknowledge the good and bad, come to terms with my feelings and (often tearily) say, “godspeed” to the year, recognizing this year would never occur again.  More recently, I can barely be bothered to shrug and raise a glass. Heaven knows I don’t see midnight very often any longer.  The shrug isn’t meant to denote antipathy; it is more of a “holy shit. The year is ending already?  How is that possible? It feels like it just started!” Life has become a blur, and I’m not sure I could sift through it comprehensively if I wanted to.

But our year deserves something on its way out, doesn’t it? A virtual “Kilroy was Here.”

I don’t think I’d describe 2014 as a great year, but it wasn’t bad.  It was stressful and full of worry and anxiety, especially about Daniel’s school situation.  Full of change. I went through another re-org at work, got yet another new boss (who is amazing by the way) and moved offices twice but packed three times. When I return to work on January 5, I will be in a(nother) new space in a new building.  We’re up-ending systems and technology, and there are so many new faces at work that I have trouble keeping them straight. Jimmy went through a lot of the same although he is now able to work from home, which brings its own highs and lows.

2014 brought lots of snow; snow is different as an adult with school-age children, especially living in an area which still shuts down at the threat of snow.  We had two months of sickness, and I wore glasses for 6 weeks thanks to episcleritis.  No, I don’t think I would classify the first half, definitely the first third, of the year as good.

Our second year of Listen to Your Mother was a success with two nearly sold-out shows, and I can add another dozen wonderful women to those I met in 2013 during our first production year.

Daniel is thriving at his school, and his kindergarten year is going well. He is reading and doing simple math. He is sassy, funny, bossy and sweet.

It sounds so positive, yet why do I feel so down? Part of it may be my own over-sentimentality when it comes to change and endings. Part of it may be due to the holidays.  They were stressful, as they tend to be when you the adult in charge of making magic.  It didn’t help that it rained on Christmas Eve, as well as several days before and several days after.  The back yard is soggy, and little boys need to expend energy they haven’t been able to.  I think we all have a touch of cabin fever, and I feel precious vacation time seeping away faster and faster, making me fret: “have we made memories? Have we done good stuff this year? Can we point to any accomplishments or successes? Are we happy???”

Two beach trips.  Lego Fest. A house over-run with Legos built by a little boy who has become an amazingly proficient Lego builder. Snow. Maybe too much snow. Good food. Lots of books. Lots of good shows watched on TV.  A $250,000 grant awarded at work. Rewatching The Office. Making friends. Defending loved ones and standing up to people when they need it. Laughter. Love.

Not too shabby.

I have stopped making resolutions, and I’ve realized that years are seldom good or bad but usually a mix, especially as we age. So I’ll say this:  goodbye, 2014.  Welcome, 2015. It’s a blank slate, and may it be kind to us all.


Halloween 2014

Another Halloween is in the books and I ‘m still trying to figure out how. As usual, Halloween afternoon found us carving our pumpkins, placing them outside about an hour before the first Trick-or-Treater graced our door.

It was a great night. We spent most of it trick-or-treating with Daniel, who had a blast. And we did too. Our neighborhood really gets into holidays and since we are rural and large, you see golf carts and trucks pulling wagons as well as groups of walking families. I don’t think we’ve ever seen as many kids out (I’m sure Halloween being on a Friday helped). I saw only 2 Elsas and 1 Anna! Daniel got to stay up until almost 9, and we were all exhausted by the time we went to bed.

Daniel dressed up as a witch this year. Not a warlock (because I doubt he has ever heard that term), but a witch. He announced his intention to be a witch shortly after last Halloween, and we went with it.

We didn’t make a big deal out of the fact that witches are girls and D is a boy because we’re trying to make some gender differences a non-issue. Plus, Daniel is only 5. If he wants to be a witch, what of it??

Part of our commitment to let him dress up as whatever he wanted stemmed from a Halloween episode of Roseanne in which DJ, the son, wanted to dress up as a witch and his father was uncomfortable with it. The disappointment on DJ’s face at not having his costume accepted by his father really affected us, and we vowed that D could dress up as whatever he wanted and we’d support him.

So we found him a spooky black robe (because most witch costumes skew frilly girl, oddly enough). We bought him a broom perfect for his size and an awesome witch’s hat with purple (his favorite color) glitter cobwebs on it. He looked awesome. Best little witch ever.

I proudly told everyone who asked about Halloween what Daniel was going to be. I anticipated comments (and was curious what I would hear) but received only one. Jimmy received a few more. The frustrating part of these comments is that they alleged we were hurting Daniel somehow by letting him dress up as a girl, that we were damaging him. He is FIVE!!

It’s interesting because women can dress up as men with little comment. A coworker at the Halloween potluck was a football player. In the same Roseanne
episode with DJ as a witch, Roseanne dresses up as a guy. Hijinks ensue. Why is it OK, even funny, for women to dress up as men but not the opposite? Obviously because men = strong; women = weak. Of course women want to emulate the “stronger” sex while men emulating the “weaker” sex are suspect.

Parenting books tell you how to feed, discipline, and sleep train children. They tell you how to handle tantrums, disobedience and non-compliance. That’s nice, but they don’t help you figure out how to raise a little boy in a world beginning to view them with suspicion; how to help them understand and respect gender differences while not being defined by them; how to be sensitive and strong; how to see injustice and speak up. It’s heavy. My little boy prefers the pronoun “she” for everything, loves the color purple and has a good heart. Our job is to support and nurture that in a hard world.

My son was a witch for Halloween and rocked the hell out of it.


Where’d You Go, 2013???

I’m in my last full week of vacation before returning to work. I have coworkers who will return to work on Thursday. I still have several days left to go but at the same time, my time off has passed in a blur.  Each day filled with a hum of activity, yet a lot of nothing out of the ordinary as well. I’m not even sure I could tell you how we spent each day, mundane though they might have been. It’s just a blur of meals, cooking show reruns, and whatever we had scheduled that day.

And that perfectly describes 2013. Somehow we’ve made it through 365 days and, to put it colloquially, shit happened, but at the same time, it happened so quickly that I barely had time to lift my head up and reflect.

2013 was a roller coaster of work drama (low), Listen to Your Mother (high), and Daniel starting Pre-K at his new school (one of those sickening highs that thrills you and leaves you with your stomach in your throat). We went to the beach twice, which was much needed and some of my favorite memories of the year. And I spent way too much time in meetings, a major low. Overall, though, the pace of the year was so fast that I don’t even know if I could describe it as bad or good. It just was.

So, yeah, this is my obligatory 2013 farewell post only I’m not sure exactly what I’m saying farewell to. I don’t want to make any resolutions because that seems destined to fail. I’d like to set goals but we’ll see. I honestly haven’t had a chance to reflect upon any but hey, I’ll give it a try.

What I’d like for 2014 is calm. I know I cannot control my environment but I can control how I react to it, so this is a personal goal I suppose. I want to figure out how to obtain a more zen-like focus. There’s a lot of shit in my day-to-day life that just. doesn’t. matter. Truly. I need more teflon and less fly paper.

I need meaningful change. I can think of a few areas in which change would be a good thing, and I want to pursue it.

I want more books! I think I read more books this year than I’ve read since Daniel was born. Probably at least 30. I honestly cannot remember. I want to read more in 2014, and I plan to keep track of my “to-read” list as well as my “completed” list here. I’m an eclectic reader, so consider yourself warned 😉

I want more family activities. Daniel is at a great age, and it’s wonderful to be able to do so many things that were…challenging…when he was younger. We made a good start with Friday Family Fun Night (pizza and a movie), but I want us to to more places and get out of the house. There are so many places and activities that he can appreciate and participate in now. Along with that, Jimmy and I need to leave the house more when we have a child-free night as well as look into babysitters. A few hours apart is good for sanity, no?

2013 wasn’t bad. We have our health, jobs, housing, spoiled kitties and frankly whatever we need or want. There were a few dark nights of the soul related to work, which in some ways is pathetic when you think about it. Shouldn’t existential crises be saved for more important matters?

So 2014, be kind. I’m 36 years old. I’d like to think I have a measure of control over my life, but I know that might be an illusion.  My little boy will start kindergarten in 2014. My little boy. No matter what each year since 2009 has brought, I’m so blessed and grateful to be able to include him in my thoughts and plans for each upcoming year.

So maybe, maybe, 2014, help me make this year be a great one for him. Because then it will be a great one for us.

Happy New Year and Happy 2014. I’ll raise a glass although I seriously doubt it will be anywhere near midnight 😉