Exactly What Do I Do?

In our society, we like labels. They help us put people into roles and more define how we see them. This can be helpful and completely the opposite of helpful because all of us at some point do not fit every aspect of the labels we are given. Labels are rigid boxes instead of flexible spheres.

The absolute go-to label is that of occupation. When we meet someone new, “What do you do?” is almost always the second question after “What is your name?” We are very much about being defined by our careers. Once upon a time the answers were usually easy. Doctor. Fireman. Milkman. Businessman. Homemaker. Nurse. Teacher. Now? I am the manager of the software and web development team for an international multimedia conglomerate does not roll of the tongue. Because we like simple and boxes over spheres, the answer becomes, IT Manager.

Homemaker has morphed into Stay-At-Home-Parent for the most part. (Nothing against anyone who manages a household minus the parenting part.) Which on the surface seems like it fits that simple formula. Even when we acknowledge it is not an easy career, it is a simple idea to understand. It’s a tidy, neat box even if the house you work in is not.

After my son was born and I chose to be a SAHM, though that label didn’t fit perfectly. I worked very part-time as a babysitter in the Y’s Childwatch and several days a month at a public library at the reference desk. Still my children were the focus of my career. I enjoyed the time outside the house. I liked what I did at the library, it was rewarding and stimulating, without making me feel like I was juggling, and I liked the free Y membership.

Both jobs ended in July 2013, and I started a new position that now clocks in at 24 hours a week.

So how do I answer, “What do you do?” I am no longer a SAHM, but I do not consider my job, my career. I still think of my family as my career. I want mother to be my career even if I do a job outside the home. I want to contribute to the financial stability and savings for my family, but I do not want to be defined by the activity I do towards that goal. I want to be defined as a mother, wife, pet owner, watcher of My Little Pony and Scooby Doo, reader of Harry Potter, art critic of Crayola No Mess masterpieces, catcher of pool jumpers, snowman building supervisor, bugkiller, Amigurmi aficionado, friend, and occasional novel writer.

There’s no box for that.

So I say librarian. And maybe as someone gets to know me better, they start seeing all the other things, the important things. The things that are me and not just what I do.

Stealing the Random

I haven’t written here in a while, and I want to keep more up-to-date. I’m having topic block though, so I thought I would steal from my husband and throw everything at the blog and see what sticks.

* I miss my dog. (He will get his own post soon, but I am not ready yet.)

* My kids miss our dog, and the honesty of their grief is almost overpowering.

* John misses our dog and has managed to be strong and honest and wonderful.

* The kids are going through a major defiant streak. There should be a CrossFit move called Carrying the Preschooler to Timeout. All you have to do is carry a limp punching bag around the room and place it in the corner.

* Despite workout out a lot and recording my calories (and trying to keep them under a certain level), I am not losing weight. The doctor is concerned. He gave me two months to try and change things up and see if the weight comes off before we try any tests or medication. He wants more cardio and suggested no “carbs” for at least a little while. So I have been severely limiting my bpp (bread, pasta, potato) intake. And, fuck it, it is working. But FUCK IT. I hate it. I am not one of these people who will happily post pictures of the mashed cauliflower and spaghetti squash dinners they are loving. I want some mac and cheese stat. I will always want garlic bread. Hamburgers should not be eaten without fries. And I will live by that creed even if I weigh 120 lbs.

* Also it is really annoying that my current obese weight is the healthy weight for someone six inches taller. Sometimes I hate the Greek genes.

* I got my notes back from the editors at Bannerwing whom John hired as a Mother’s Day present. I have also met with them via Facebook chat. I am overwhelmed and energized by rewrites all at the same time. I am really hoping to have a publish-ready manuscript by the end of the year.

* I wish I could think of my writing as serious and not as a hobby or something that takes away time from things I should be doing.

* In August I leave my husband and kids behind to attend a wedding in Napa Valley. On one hand, I am thrilled for a get-away to a place I have not been with family with whom I do not get to spend much time. On the other hand, I am going to wine country without John. On a third hand, I am glad the kids will be with him because then I don’t have to worry as much about what is going on at home. I know he’s got it. It would be different if we had to leave them with another family member. So less worry, but no romantic wine tastings. I am conflicted.

* Our trip to the beach can not come soon enough. Four weeks seems so long right now.

 

 

Catch Up Haikus

I have to admit that these birthday haikus are not as easy as I thought they would be. Thus, I have put them off and then forgotten to do them, especially when there is a stretch between birthdays. Add that I spent a day trying to get pictures to load to an SD card for a digital frame present, and you see how I am just not getting around to my sister and Anne. It doesn’t mean I love either of you any less. It just means I am not creative, organized, or sharp-minded.

Alex

She’s small but mighty

Always cumblebeets aware

We are so lucky

 

Anne

Red wine makes giggle

Tasty gluten and dairy free

Only her cooking

 

Once Upon a Time I Was a Reader

I always had a book with me growing up. Any free time at school was filled by reading. Even in high school, I would rush to my next class to spend the extra transition time reading. I read while I watched TV. If I was into a book, I would stay up until 3 A.M. because it would be impossible to put it down. While in college my pleasure reading was diminished, but I at least always had a book I was reading that was not for a class.

This continued into adulthood, but somewhere in the last couple of years, it has changed.

I have lost my reading fervor. I can’t tell you the last time that I was preoccupied with a book to the point that I would pull it out at every possible moment. I don’t feel drawn in like I use to. I have a stack of books and electronic books in my Amazon account that I start and stop and start again, unable to connect enough to the story to make picking it up after the kids are in bed worth the energy. Plus, there is no staying awake no matter how interesting the story is. I borrowed The Maze Runner electronically from the library. It is definitely a page turner, fast-paced with a good mystery at its heart. It was automatically returned yesterday. I was only halfway through. In two weeks, I could only read half of a teen book. I am now 24th on the waiting list. If this happened when I was 14 or 15 or even 20, I would have had to buy it. Now? I can wait.

And I just keep asking myself why?

I think partly it is there is so much more to fill up my brain than there use to be. There just isn’t room for the preoccupation of a current story. And my passion has gone to other things that require all my energy and attention. In my youth, I had so little responsibility and demands on my time, my mind could live with fictional characters at great length with no detriment to my real life interactions. Plus? I was not popular. If I didn’t have a band thing or a Shakespeare Troupe thing, I didn’t have a thing. Fictional characters did not judge me based on the height of my bangs or the label on my jeans. I could pretend that Mr. Darcy would totally find me pleasurable to look at even if high school boys thought I looked like their kid sisters. Characters didn’t know about my parents’ divorce and the awkward situations my friends might see if they came over. And as a young adult, I had a long commute and evenings in an apartment that needed very little attention with a dog who just loved to curl up. Now? None of those things are part of my life anymore. My time and even my thoughts are hardly ever my own. My real life is now worthy of all of my time and passion. Which is wonderful. I love my real life.

But I know my story passion is still there as I do get enthralled in audiobooks. When I can get into the story while doing other things like driving, work-outing, cooking, or cleaning, it is easier. Motherhood thy name is multi-tasking.

But I miss the printed word. I miss giving the characters my own voice. I miss curling up and not multi-tasking, giving something my attention for no other reason than it pleases me.

Ultimately, it comes down to this…. Dance of Dragons bored me to the point that I haven’t even finished it.

I think the world of reading, for me, has been forever dulled.

Well, maybe not forever.

If Tyrion rides a dragon to The Wall, stopping by King’s Landing to turn Cersei into ash along the way, my pilot light might be re-set.

When and Where

I recently join the Bannerwing Write Club. It has become a great source of inspiration, commiseration, and celebration when it comes to my writing. We decided it would be fun and challenging to do a round robin story. I am starting it here today, and several other bloggers will be continuing it and finally ending it over the next couple of weeks. None of us have any idea where the next person will take it. Next week you can catch the continuation of When and Where on the blog of the one and only Angela Amman, who, I am sure, will put me to shame. 

The crunch of the gravel under her feet was deafening. Even the pebbles were screaming at her to turn around. Yet her flashlight beam continued to play across the path in front of her, and she followed. Every few steps she would sweep the beam to the right and then the left, reading each name, stopping when the age of the carvings made them hard to decipher.

“Robin, don’t do this. It isn’t necessary,” Paul appeared at her left shoulder.

“Paul’s right. Please, you can turn around, get in the car, and go,” Phoebe added from her right.

Robin squared her shoulders as she checked another tombstone. “No. It’s time. I can’t put it off forever. Better sooner than later.”

“You’re not ready.”

“Says you.”

“Says me who has a century more knowledge and experience than you.”

Robin glanced at Paul. “Is it really experience if it happens after you are dead?”

Paul scowled. “Semantics? Really? ”

Phoebe snorted and said, “That’s Robin. Arguing the minutiae of death when her life is in the balance.”

Robin’s jaw tightened, but she didn’t say anything. The twins may have seen more in their afterlife than she had in her physical life to date, but she knew her own power and limits. Fate was leading her and follow she must. She just wished it didn’t scare her so much. It was taking actual mental effort to keep her hand from shaking and bouncing her light all over the place.

The flashlight played over another grave marker, covered in water stains and lichen. She couldn’t make out the name, but her gut told her it wasn’t the right one. Reading the names was probably a useless gesture. The one she sought would make its presence known when she found it.

Paul said, “If you are going to insist, at least wait another week or two. We can be better prepared, study the manuscript more closely. Gather more information.”

Robin stopped and turned to look at Paul. “You have been waiting for this for a hundred and fourteen years. I would think you would be more anxious.”

“Those years have taught me patience and caution. I can wait another few weeks to insure that you are truly ready for this confrontation. If you aren’t then all those decades are for naught.”

They held each other’s eyes for a long moment. Quietly, Robin replied, “I understand the gravity and the consequences of my actions. But I also know that waiting any longer will drive me mad. I am filled to the brim. If I don’t release this power at the appointed target, I will burn out in a matter of days if not hours.” She paused and stepped closer to him. “Please, Paul.” Phoebe moved to face her brother as well, now making a united front with Robin.

Paul sighed. “Very well. When we find it, you must promise to listen to my instructions exactly. Everything must be precise. It will be the only way to direct the storm you are holding inside.”

Robin went back to crunching the gravel and sweeping the light beam back and forth, path to stone, stone to path. Read. Move on. They came to a cross path. Robin closed her eyes and let her arms drop to her side. Her left hand, the one holding the flashlight, rose and pointed down the left path. She turned and walked that way for another twenty yards. Abruptly, she stopped. The beam scanned the stones around her as she read.

Finally, it came to rest on a very old one. It was brownstone, squat and heavy, like a malicious toad guarding its treasure.

“There you are, you bastard,” Robin whispered.