Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's not ironic.

If you’d ever like to be reminded just how old you really are, and I can’t think why you would want to do that, but IF YOU DID, then I suggest you wander into an Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters was around when I was a teenager, and my 14-year old self spent plenty of Saturday afternoons poking around the M Street store, looking for ways to waste my allowance. Twenty-five years later the store is pretty much the same, which is to say that it sells some reasonably cute, hipster clothes and a lot of ironic t-shirts and ironic posters and ironic furniture and pretentious classics for the young, urban readers among us. Of course, the hipster element is belied by the fact that the store has an outpost in almost any urban shopping mall, which lets me know it was probably the same level of cool when I was 14, too.

My point, though, and I did have one, was that when I walked into the store the other day I felt like I had been hit over the head with my own irrelevance. The doughy young clerk folding t-shirts near the door struck the tone for me with a decidedly unimpressed sneer. Even her pimples regarded me mulishly. I was tempted to moo at her. Instead, I walked through the store, eyeing the various displays of clothes too tight, too short or made of material too unforgiving for a frame that has been stretched out from providing a crash pad for two separate human beings. I didn’t even touch anything; what was the point? If I ever have occasion to wear a tiny, ironic t-shirt again, I have several in a bin in my basement. I guess I need to give up the ghost and donate them to some overprivileged 15-year old they were designed for in the first place.

It’s hard to make peace with bidding adieu to one’s youth. But when my personal trainer says perkily, “I thought you were 35!” not realizing her marketing plan doesn’t have quite the ring it was probably supposed to, I have to face the facts. And the facts include the requirement that I stay out of stores for our up and coming young citizens. I’m sure I’ll be back in them soon enough anyway, shopping for the next generation.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Pretty soon you’re going to drop me from your list of work time-wasters, if you haven’t already. I have an excuse, although it’s not one I’m happy about. My head is in a fog. Any energy I have for thinking goes into my job, and the rest of the time you’d be forgiven for wondering if maybe I’d been in a car accident or something since the last time you saw me. I just don’t feel that right in my head.

I hope it’s all simply attributable to the now 8 months of horribly interrupted sleep, and not to the anti-crazy pills I am on. Because while the bone-tiredness hopefully one day will be gone, I really, really don’t want to give up my happy candy. However, if it means exchanges like the following also go away, then maybe OK:

Kate, in an email: “They were supposedly happiedly married. I can't remember how to spell happiedly. Is that a word?”

Kate’s Friend: “Uh, do you mean “happily’”?

Kate: “Mmm. Perhaps.”

And everything about my head is like that now. When I drive to work and hear an interesting story on NPR, I think I should write about it that day. By the time I am at the office I have very little memory of what I heard or what sort of opinion I should have about it. My mind is like the floating tentacles of a jellyfish, pale and ephemeral and sort of prehistorically unchanging below the ocean’s surface. Shit, that doesn’t work, because with jellyfish you’re expecting that diaphanous, billowing creature to suddenly tense up and sting the crap out of you. There’s no caffeinated spark behind the marshmallow fluff that passes for my brain these days.

Although, the more I write here the more I feel reassured it’s just the exhaustion and not the potentially lobotomizing antidepressants. I can almost feel my brain tuning up below the fog; like a pencil sharpened with one of those old-fashioned, hand-cranked sharpeners.

I sound nuts, but for somebody who considers herself pretty sharp normally, it feels so strange. I don’t think about the future anymore, and I rarely think about the past. Everything is very much “now” – as in, “now” we are going to the park, and “now” I will be feeding you dinner and “now” I will be cleaning the kitchen for the 4th time today and “now” I will be tucking you in and reading you stories and giving you the requested “up-hug.” Part of that is not so bad; I have wasted way too much time in my life not living in the moment and instead obsessing about what should be different that would make me happy. Well, now I actually am happy, and I know it because when Ian asks me every day, “Mommy, are you happy?” I am able to honestly reply to him that I am. Even when I see myself in the mirror and I see that I am finally starting to look my age; that all this is taking a physical toll on me, I’m still happy. Just a little concerned about when I am going to get an important part of my brain back.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The ends of the spectrum.

Try not to look at my granny hand as you revel in this cuteness:

Although, honestly, what is up with that hand!? I’m 40, not 85. I remember when I was a kid, and I’d look at my mom’s veiny, 30-year old hands from behind my smooth, youthful eyes and see it as a reflection of the great chasm between our ages (23 whopping years). I couldn’t even imagine being old enough to have age reflected on my body, and 30 was OOOOLLLLLD. Of course, I had no idea that having veiny hands wasn’t even an issue of age; it’s just a genetic trait and one which I inherited.

The other day I was looking at my own children’s perfect skin, still so fresh from creation as to be plump and unblemished. I wondered how old they will be when they start criticizing me for my age: Mom, you are so old and so out of touch and your clothes are horrible and please don’t make me be seen with you, gross gross gross gross gross. Not yet, at least, although I do get plenty of giggles from Ian when he drives a little fist into the doughy non-resistance of my tummy. Ha.

I wonder if boys are as casually cutting as girls are, or if they just view their mothers more as fossils to be ignored. I’m sure there will be plenty of snide comments on a wide range of comments, but I don’t know whether boys waste time remarking on a parent’s physicality. Or, whether it’s more of a same-sex thing, and R. will be the target of the boys’ sartorial disdain. Ooh, I can hardly wait to find out; to endure the good time I put my own mom through.

Here’s another picture; rest assured that they don’t share a bed. No, Ian is pretending to like Alex for ten seconds because it means he can enjoy a relaxing hit on a pacifier. Ian isn’t allowed to have a binky unless he’s taking a nap or down for the night, so he likes to climb into Alex’s crib and pretend it’s his naptime, too.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hanging by a thread.

As I started my file for “October 2009” this morning I realized it’s been four years since I started this blog. Four years of spouting off to the world about the silliest or most distracting things going on in my mind, which according to what I glanced over this morning has rarely carried a lot of intellectual weight.

October 2005 found me trying to make the best of being somewhat lonely through music, alcohol, cigarettes and lame interactions with lame guys, all described in my tough-chick persona that clearly belonged to someone who came of age in the Breakfast Club years. I think it’s fair to say that the way my life has evolved since then has mellowed me a lot, and thank God for that. I think all that bravado would have aged poorly. It’s not like I didn’t have the gooey center even then that would allow me to cry at Disney movies and Hallmark commercials, but now I don’t have the energy to keep up the hard candy shell. My kids would just hit it and eat the pieces.

On another topic, another thing about me that is apparently dissolving is my cornea. I know, that’s a nice segue, isn’t it? Today my eye was bothering me enough that I dragged myself into my opthamologist, only to learn that the little corneal scratch I had a couple of months ago has morphed into another abrasion. How can that happen? Well, apparently it’s not uncommon for the cornea not to heal properly in the first place, and if you have dry eyes then when you sleep your eyelid can attach to your slightly roughened cornea and when you wake and blink, pull off corneal cells. Yuck. Now I have to apply a greasy ointment to my eyeball every night until the tube runs out, followed by nightly gel drops until I die:

Doctor: “Use this until it runs out, then you’ll need to use these gel drops for the rest of your life.”

Kate: “Forever!? You mean, IN PERPETUITY!!??”

Doctor: “Uh, yes, Kate, if that's how you'd like to phrase it.”

Tonight my husband and I and my ragged eyeball are going to see the movie “Paris” at our favorite movie theater – the one where they sell you glasses of decent wine in real glasses that you can take into the theater. Since we last saw a movie there, the thought of seeing a movie in one of those big ol’ movieplexes teeming with wretched, pimply-faced teenagers (or, in the one near our house, teens with guns shoved into their britches) just hasn’t held the same appeal. Popcorn goes just as well with chardonnay as it does with diet Pepsi, my friends – maybe better.