Sunday, February 24, 2013

Supermom, Supersinger

I have been sick again for a week or so.  Seems after the last bout, any illness goes right into my chest and makes me feel like an elephant is sitting on me.  38 years of not ever feeling a respiratory problem and now almost 6 months of not breathing normally.  Ugh.  I am going to listen to my own advice for a minute.  Everything about your own body, your own voice, feels permanent.  Four days of your foot hurting and you start thinking you'll never walk normally again-and I find this is human nature.  I am always sharing with loved ones that it will pass, it will pass.  But me?  I turn around and say, "this must be forever".  So I am raising an invisible glass right now to THIS WILL PASS and change will come.

I am watching the Oscars off and on tonight.  These shows are too long, and I don't really like them.  I am upset when they are on instead of sitcoms, I think I've mentioned that before.  I think it's annoying to congratulate people who are famous and rich.  I mean--they know things are going well, I hope--I really don't need to validate them.  Also, pretty much every year of my life I've been too busy and/or too poor to see all these movies.  Who sees all of these?  Therefore, they're just talking about a bunch of crap I haven't seen.

I do like the dresses, but that doesn't actually last 3 1/2 hours.

In the meantime, I was supermom today.  Oh, yes I was.  I went with hubby to buy a dishwasher (from a person on craigslist).  We picked it up, already with me thinking I needed to lay down at 11am.  Then the 3 year old and I went shopping for cake decorating supplies, and wandering through the craft store.  She loved that.  Then we came home and I ran around with her in the parking lot across the street while she was on her scooter.  I wanted to die a little.  I am just not up for parenting this week.  After that, I taught a lesson, and then we made princess cupcakes together, and ate homemade soup for dinner.

I mean--supermom, right?  THe evening ended with me making her cry because I wouldn't lay in bed with her until she fell asleep.  It's all so tough.  You never get off.

As a singer, I spend so much time lately thinking about what makes singers and songs special.  I guess, you don't really know, but I know it spreads across every genre.   I know I can't teach it.  I know I would rather have that than fame.  I have seen people so incredibly touched by the performances of singers.  And while I've had that, I guess, some part of me always wishes I was doing it, and I can't be completely swallowed by it the way they are.  Well that's not true.  Once or twice it's happened :)  I often give students the song "As Long As He Needs Me" from Oliver.  It's easy to sing, but the real reason I give it is that when I was 16, I heard a 14 year old girl sing that song with such a powerful depth of emotion that I still feel her voice in my feet, in my chest, when I hear the song.  It doesn't matter who is singing it.  It wouldn't ever matter.

I googled her recently, and found out she was a successful actress.  Not that everyone knows her, obviously, but she's getting regular work--good work, stuff you've heard of.  I wonder to myself if I'm happier knowing that a person who had that special talent got somewhere in the field, or if I sometimes want to be validated knowing that you can be truly special and somehow go unrecognized, or unsuccessful at the least.  I don't know yet.

I was offered a job teaching at another college this year. Part time, with a long commute.  I can't do it now, but I told them I would apply to teach on a longer contract in the summer.   I have no idea how that's possible, but I just keep hoping something will be the next lead at doing more of what I love, and surviving.  (and if it's not clear, I'm awfully flattered by the whole thing).

Future, future, future.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

I am experiencing an elusive and lovely experience for mothers.  A day alone.  I am filling it with lots of things, unfortunately some of which are my thoughts.  I am cleaning, and (horrifyingly) enjoying being able to clean in silence.  I am spending time at the gym, worried that both I and the fetus inside me seem to be growing much faster than I can handle.  He's 2 pounds already, and that scares me.

I refuse to be forced to bond with someone who isn't born yet.  I would like to note that.  I am not emotional about the kid I'm about to birth, I'm mostly freaked out.  I am way more involved in my myriad of health problems, brought on by genetics, lifestyle and advanced maternal age.  BLECH.  I want a glass of wine.  I don't know how we're going to afford daycare without a lifestyle change.  I love teaching so much, I think about singing all the time.  The one thing I never think about is sitting in my home, surrounded by children and trying to figure out things to do that don't involve TV, to prove to God and my culture that I'm not a bad mom.

That being said, I adore my daughter.  I mean, she still brings about in me love I didn't know I was capable of.  I look at her and my heart melts, I smell her hair and wrap my hands in her little curls and feel like I am a new person.  She had her first valentine's day yesterday.  She's 3, but this is the first one she was really conscious of.  She made valentines, waited for her teacher to distribute treats, played Valentine's games and talked all day long about the little gifts we got her.  Then she woke up at 3 am this morning and puked chocolate.  But it was still pretty magical.

I like Valentine's day.  I have never once, in my 33 years of singlehood, cried over not having a valentine.  But I do respect that this holiday seems to hurt more people than it makes happy.  They take it as a mile marker of singlehood--a sign that they are "outside" their own culture.  I don't like talking about it, except in the context of kissing my husband and promising him that after the pregnancy I will wear lingerie again.  I also bought us "his and hers" pillows.  Ahhh, finally our necks will feel comfortable again.  But essentially, I used Valentine's as an excuse to buy something more expensive than I think we "need".  THis is the crappy part of being married to a frugal wife.

Darling daughter says she wants a "humsand" like I have.  I feel like this is a good sign--that she watches our relationship and desires it herself.  But truth be told, my relationship with hubby is the best relationship I have ever had.  I miss friendship, desperately, but my friendships had more drama than my marriage.  I went in and out of love with friends.  I felt more...passion?  I had to call them all day long to tell them funny things.  I miss them terribly in this life.  But there was also more disappointment.   More realization that they loved things more than me.  That they didn't think of me when I needed them to.  That they didn't need me the way I needed them.

Instead, my relationship with hubby is more about acceptance.  It's more about having someone catch me when I am , in my own life, in my own drama.  It is more about feeling like my heart belongs somewhere, to someone, it's safety.  It's recognition.  So I'm not sure we're a perfect Valentine's couple.  For years I longed to be half of a whole.  I cannot remember what life was like before that.  But let me not forget that singlehood, with it's "unsafety" also felt like more could change.  The things I didn't like had more possibility of being new around the next corner.  Sometimes, I even miss the fun of looking for a spouse.  The promise of something new, which was usually devastating, was still....welll.....new.

Now, if I could only transfer that feeling to a new baby.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stuff People Should Think I Like But I Don't

In college, I was always doing crazy crap.  One day, I sat down with a stack of paper and wrote one word on each piece of paper.  The words were generally words I "liked" for whatever reason.  Nothing specific.  Then I taped all of the paper to my dorm room door, until you could no longer see the door.  My roommate tolerated this weird behavior.  Some people whispered about it, and a few people liked it.  But I don't really remember--since I guess I did it because I was bored, it was there.  Not so much for general opinion.

A few weeks later, when the paper was already peeling and looked atrocious, a guy came to my door selling t-shirts.  Our conservative college always had people selling alternative t-shirts.  When he came to my door, he seemed confident I would buy one.  They were some sort of pro-choice shirts...though I can't remember what they said.  And I told him I was not interested.  This guy, not knowing anything about me but my door told me he was surprised someone like me wouldn't want one.    And all I could think was a person like me, regardless of how I felt about abortion, would never trivialize that enough to wear it on a shirt.    So I guess he had the wrong idea of a person like me.

Anyhoo, this makes me think of all the times someone has assumed I would absolutely like something I don't.  I suppose most people have that issue.  Here is a list of 5 things people assume I'd like, but I don't.

1.  The Grammys.  I don't have patience for awards shows, I always find people whom I've never heard of get a lot of time.  I like watching CLIPS of the grammies later, though, I'll admit that.

2.  Stuff with music on it.  Like--stuff with musical notes, or treble clefs, etc.  I just don't like that stuff.  I don't know why.

3.  American Idol.  I don't even feel like explaining this one.  I should admit I do like The Voice.  Seems like that show rewards experience, trials, etc.  Not just raw talent.

4.  Listening to music in the car.  I often ride around in silence, it's creepy. Or I sing and makeup songs.  I like the quiet of being in a car.

5.  Musical toys.  I think this is like someone who spends their life working on the art of growing fresh tomatoes and then has to eat canned tomatoes?  Something like that.  The shadow of the real thing makes the real thing seem even further away.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Battle Axe Fach

I planned a great day for my daughter which involved making valentines and baking cookies.  That lasted 10 minutes.  She got bored, and then I got ...well pregnant-tired, which is way worse than normal tired.  So mostly now our day has been sitting on the couch together playing with computers or watching tv.  I feel like a bad mom, and I don't actually have the energy to care that I feel like a bad mom.

It was still a good day.  She cried because I put her turkey hot dog on the wrong plate.  Otherwise, no drama.  That's really not bad.  She let me braid her hair!  It was like a miracle.  She's also sick with a mildly hacking cough, so that doesn't help. oooh...and I found a 20 dollar bill on the piano!  So that means it was an even better day :)

I talked to a student this week about my strategy to not becoming a bitter singer.  I often think of how my life would have gone differently had I gotten money for the doctorate program at Iowa that I tried so hard to get into.  I would be a dr. now, and would have a job with maternity leave.  I would have a job where I didn't have to teach 50 students a week in hopes that I could save up.  This week I taught 13 students on Thursday, my birthday.  On the 14th student, something horrifying happened to me.  I started having an ocular migraine (I know what these are now, as I had one during the miscarriage and the doctor explained to me the symptoms).  It is very painful for me (not everyone apparently) and then my speech became....kind of incoherent.  I had a 30 minute lesson with a 16 year old boy that  didn't make any sense.  I mean, literally, I said bizarre things to him that didn't flow together in a sentence, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't talk.  I couldn't read the pitches on the music, as my sight was coming and going, and I cried afterwards.

I dropped him today, with apologies to his parents.  I can't do it.  I just can't.  It's too much.

I still dream of being a singer.  As I try to sing through my music, I find that while I can sing, I am still feeling very "labored" in the process.  My voice is thick, heavy, and it doesn't have it's previous flexibility.

My old voice teacher used to tell me that I had a voice that might be suitable someday for the "battle axe fach"  She obviously made up this term.  A fach, if I haven't mentioned it, is a very specific voice type that Germans have applied to opera singers and most of opera has adopted it.  You have operatic "types"....the young sweet girl with the light voice, the hero tenor with the loud high notes, etc.  And as my voice teacher said, the battle axe....the loud, low, older woman, usually a little pissed off at what life has dealt her, and often with a touch of the "witch" in her. 

This week for the first time I wondered if I'd be born again as the battle axe....I still can't imagine that this whole thing has just passed me by, that I've failed it in some way.  I dream of putting on a cabaret show next year...but will i be teaching 50 students with 2 children?  Because that's not actually physically possible.

This is why in AA you say ONE DAY AT A TIME.  Sometimes one minute at a time.  It's all God gives you, why try to push it? 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

39 and Pregnant

I have a feeling I'll be writing these a lot more in February.

Today is February 1, and in 6 days I will be 39.  And then, soon after, I will be a woman in her forties with two little children.  I love my birthday, and it is so strange to me that I haven't thought about it...with the exception of my husband's annual "what do you want to do on your birthday" question, and a quick babysitting arrangement, I haven't thought about it. 

I think a lot about other things these days, way too much.  I wish that pregnancy didn't curse me with a demon of over-empathy, of depression, of a general sense that the world is out of control and I'm all alone in it.  I think this a lot.  I feel happy in my life, I feel love coming out the wazoo, and I feel totally and utterly alone.  It's not a feeling I have much outside of this hormone-driven state.

I often wonder if Iowa makes me feel isolated too much...the winter, the lack of people I find who are just like me.  I am not sure there is a place in the world where people might remind me of myself.  I dream of that a bit, but I don't know where it is.  I think NYC was the closest thing I'd found. 

My daughter is a little bit obsessed with the word "penis" currently.  She introduces my having a boy to people by explaining that he will have a penis.  She also begs daddy to let her watch him pee, because, as she says, "I like your penis, daddy."  It freaks the heck out of my husband, who is basically begging her not to say the word.  Interestingly, she won't say the word vagina.  She just says, "Boys have a penis, girls have a butt."  I don't know when that will end.  I guess I just think everything will pass....I am rarely if ever embarassed by her.  I guess I just tend to think that
 everyone expects three year olds to talk about genitals publicly.  Right?

It is frigid, bitingly cold, white and unfriendly outside.  It is pretty if you are inside, but it's hard to get exercise, takes a long time to get outside (by the time you dress yourself and your child) and hard to drive.  I don't necessarily hate winter, but I'm starting to feel pretty "cooped up".  And that doesn't help.  I'm looking forward to our trip to Florida in March, when I'll feel the sun on my arms for the first time in months.  It's so nice to have something to look forward to.

I know there are people who enjoy parts of pregnancy.  I certainly love time with my 3 year old.  She is such an enormous blessing to my life.  She's much of my heart now, and it's better than I can imagine.  That being said, I am literally counting these last 114 days of pregnancy....I look forward to just feeling happy, to not questioning everything about my life, about politics, about christianity, without tears, frustration and anger.

Hubby said to me yesterday that "something's gotta give."  He's right.  Is it just spiritually, emotionally, financially...locationally?  We are waiting for a new stage, one where we might see each other more, or feel embraced by some real spiritual fellowship, or just not feel like we stand outside of the world, struggling to pay for things, and pay off things, and wondering, at least from my end, if I ever had this vocational calling I believed in for so long? 

My mom said these blogs are depressing.  Try being 39 and pregnant, lady!