August 08, 2003

kindergarten jenna

Went to see jenna's kindergarten classroom today and meet her teacher. Monday is the first day of school. OH My goodness. I really liked the teacher. She's calm (that is good with a room full of five year olds), not too young, not too old, and has a nine-year-old daughter herself. Wshew. The room is nice and loaded with learning tools, plus five computers that look rockin'. Only 15 kids in the class. Nice teacher-student ratio. Wondering if I can just go there to do my work every day. Wouldn't that be cool? Back to kindergarten I'd go. Don't mind me, I won't get in your way. I'm just going to sit over here and blog and suck my thumb and maybe take a nap.

Anyway, some of Jenna's classmates-to-be were there getting acquainted. A wonderful blend of hues and backgrounds. That is the best thing about the south. Especially this big-city south. But everywhere, really. Even the small towns; even the country. There is blending in the south that goes waaaay back. Even those who don't want to admit it know. It is much less segregated here than in the northeast and midwest--those other parts of the country I'm intimately acquainted with. That is important in our world. Jump in and experience the world of people the world over.

So the children seem great, the teacher seems great, the room is nice and cool and clean, the learning tools are top-notch, and I am breathing an unbelievable sigh of relief--until Monday. Monday our baby girl takes the first step out of this front door into the real world.

It's a tiny step for her, and a big one at the same time. For me it's a step I will never take again in this lifetime, an ending as much as a beginning, and it's as heavy as it gets. Truly.

Wish me a good cry and a strong coffee.

Wish Jenna much joy.

the young me

So let me jump right to this. While I was out to dinner last night, I was told I look 21. Then, no, wait a minute, 14 not 41.

That would seem like a compliment to some. If not that I have been trying to look and act my age--I have an age thing going on lately--you know? An age thing. I'm not sure what that means.

I'm trying to figure out how old I am. Really. Arrested development. Or something. So I've been coming out in this more grown up way, letting the wisdom of my years show for the first time, changing the way I dress some, those tall shoes and things like that, and then I get: 21, no 14.

Shut up, Jeneane, you're saying. Find something else to complain about. We know you have plenty.

But it's all related.

After I say my thank yous, I'm sitting there FEELING 14. Why try, you know? I feel my step father ready to belittle me. That's what 14 means to me. Dinner table arguments and drama. Become invisible--that's the answer.

The thing is, at 14 I didn't look 14, I looked 21. "You blossomed early," my mother would say. I'll say.

What does it mean--certainly it's not "the look" people notice when they tell me I look young as much as what--my manerisms? my humor? the way Jenna and I crack each other up? My vulnerability? My ....?

The harder I try, the younger I get, in some respects. In others I must be 100 by now. Maybe everyone's just too kind to say, 41? I thought you were 100!

I had an aunt--Aunt Gussie--the kindest woman on the Slavic side of my family. She never married and was the coolest of the cool, accepting and ever generous. She made tons of money during her lifetime, which she always shared with the children in the form of savings bonds. Aunt Gussie grew the best tomatoes I've ever tasted in my life.

She lived with her sister and her sister's husband in Ohio. They were mean to her, mean to everyone. They were just NOT nice people. Very unhappy. I remember the belittling that went on in that house when I would visit them with my grandmother. And I would think--but why does Aunt Gussie take it? She's the smart one, she's the rich one, and she's the cool one?

I don't know why she stayed. She never seemed to let it bother her, but it must have. I don't know. There is a lot I won't ever know. What I do know is that Aunt Gussie had a big laugh and a husky voice that always made me feel warm.

She lived to be 90, and she never, not ever, ever, ever, had a wrinkle on her skin.

I am serious. No wrinkles. Not one. I can't tell you how odd it is to look upon a woman of 70 (the last time I saw her) who's skin is as smooth as a baby's. Pure. Not one line. No one ever guessed Aunt Gussie's age right.

But it was more than her skin that kept Aunt Gussie young. It was something else. It was a reverse kind of thing. The something else WAS what kept her face and skin from showing her age. What was it? What was it? What was it?

Love? Joy? Fun?

Oh you should have seen her eyes. Sparkley blue with cheeks that rose to meet them when she smiled. I'm remembering her writing this, these words are forming her face for me, her laugh. Her bending down to pick me a plumb tomato.

I forgot her voice until I started writing this. Now it's in my ears and with me. Thank you, blogging.

Hello Aunt Gussie. I'm okay. I miss you.

August 06, 2003

morning coffee with...

tablespoon of non-dairy creamer, two packets of sweet-n-low, and two sugar ants.

yes really.

Too tiny to fish them out; too expensive to waste the coffee.

Ante Latte: Coming soon to a Starbucks near you.

August 05, 2003


but not out.

only 5 days left til kindergarten. must go spend them the right way. what else matters.

til later... j.

ain't it funky now

In a low spot today, trying to ward off Jenna's cold, and gettin' funky ova hea. Been listening to this.

I like this interview with George Clinton. Dig how he describes the funk beat:

"It's hard to stay there. You don't want to stay there forever because that would be RI-DIC-U-LOUS. That would be like coming 24 hours non-stop. And every time we start getting there, we'd push it to another level to reach for. We'll never be satisfied with where we're at, so we push it a little harder."

RI-DIC-U-LOUS. uh-huh?

Loud is the only way to go, driving the most funkless automobile ever built--this conservative blue Chevy Venture Value Van, which is no way to go through town or through life. But, it has wheels and a CD player, and four speakers that beat my head with the funk.

Be thankful for whatcha got, ya'll.

August 04, 2003

Atlantans in the House with the little bitty ants, lemme here ya say HEY! HO!

Hey hey ho!
Hey hey ho!


Where the hell are these tiny fuckers coming from? All summer long, ant bait after ant bait, boric acid here, ant baits there. I've put them under the microwave, on the window sills, under the cupboards, and those teeny tiny stinking little millimeter sized sweet-eatin ants don't quit.

Is it all the water? Is it just me? I can't take them any more.

I'm beginning to think they're hatching out of me.

I see them in my sleep.

Help. Me.

Mental (Health) Part 62

One of the other brain rearrangement projects of the last few months has been claiming the house back from the five year old and the animals. Sure, I go two steps forward, three steps back, but it's coming along little by little.

First the living room. It wasn't. For the last five years it has been a playroom, along with the dining room, kitchen, Jenna's room, and the master bedroom. Yes, since she was mostly at home she invaded everywhere and it took a genuine effort to begin to channel her STUFF into proper places, to restore some kind of order and then look upon the destruction that had taken place under layers and layers of toys and paint and glue and sparkles and stickers and and and and.

The living room is happy now. Remainders of Jenna's Stewardship now include a small table and chair for her to work at and ONE (count em--ONE) small box of toys. The colorful bins containing what must be thousands of pieces and bits of polly pocket clothes and barbie limbs and hundreds of other important things are now in her bedroom. Her desk in her bedroom boasts a globe and a clean workspace. Her bed is in a new place--no wall needed to keep her from rolling out anymore! Next, her closet. But not too much too soon. Change should be measured in relation to the sanity it creates or destroys.

A week or so ago, I decided that the dining room should be claimed back too. It should be a place to--well--dine. Or at least eat. So more organizing and categorizing, very little tossing of anything, but much relocating. Desktop PC's should live on computer desks, CDs in CD holders, etc.

Little by little, long before I knew what I was doing, I was preparing the house for a kindergartener. A school girl. Not a hopping bopping 1, 2, 3, 4, and finally 5 year old.

I took the deck back too--or I tried to--from the dogs. I painted the deck furniture without expecting the summer of rains the likes of which I haven't seen here before. But still, they look better than they did. A sprayer attached to the hose put a dent in the Diva-Dog hair which is matted from one end of the property to the other, especially on the deck. Spider webs sprayed away. At least six layers of dirt washed away.

A tremendous feeling it is taking back the house, putting the prison guard back in charge of the inmates rather than vice versa. We needed that kind of order boost. No idea if our natural tendency to do a million things at once, or the natural tendency to be... um... scattered will catch up with us. Probably. But in the mean time, I'm going to survey the fruits of my labor, stretch out on the couch, and enjoy the lack of complete randomness.

August 03, 2003

Talking to Clothes

Six garbage bags full of clothes that haven't fit me for months (and longer) are on their way to the clothing dropbox at the gas station up the road. I tried them all. Too loose. Wow. Six bags. Who knows? Not me. It's not up to me. You can hand it over. That's the beauty.

Old friends once crumpled in the corner of the closet are now hanging on hangers, saying, Hey, where you been?

Who me? I set my mom down a little over a year ago, didn't you hear? I don't have to carry her anymore.

Oh. You thought you did?

Well, no. It's not that you know you're carrying their illness around for them. It's not conscious. It's how it works until you see that you're not doing anyone any favor by carrying that load--least of all yourself and those you love. Plus it tires you out. It took me a long time. Longer than some, not as long as others, I guess.

Well, to a silk blouse this stuff you're saying doesn't make much sense. But we're glad to see you anyway.

Glad to see you too.

Recovery in progress.

out with the old, in with the even older

Clothes. They are something. Something I haven't paid attention to for a long time. It happens after you have a baby. Yah, that was five-and-three-quarters years ago, but somehow the time in between birth and kindergarten are a whirlwind that leaves a woman happy to have made it through the day. Work full time means you have "those" outfits. The kind you don't have to think about in the morning. Put on business casual and out the door. Then you start telecommuting and--Whoa. Why get dressed? Think of the ten minutes I can save by working in sweats or those silly cotton shorts all day. Trip to the grocery store? Shit--gotta run to the doctor here, prescriptions there, food here, mailbox there, school here, kinkos there. All the while without realizing you're in the same clothes you got up and threw on, or worse, the clothes you slept in.

One thing about shrinking is that it takes you deep into your closet. Out with the stuff that just hangs there, in with the clothes you forgot were hidden in the recesses of your closet. You take out an old pair of jeans, not worn in six years, put them on, and you remember what you were doing when they were new. You remember that part of your life. Barn jeans or dress jeans, interview suit from two jobs past. Are they still in style? Well, kind of. Not really. But since you can't afford to dash off for a closet of new stuff, and since shrinking is still in progress, you put on those old friends and feel pretty good about them welcoming your body back into them.

Old clothes, old lives. There was a time when.

I wear taller shoes now. Jenna made me do it. OOOOh, mama, you look nice in tall shoes. Buy those.

Oh honey, mama wears sneakers. I don't need tall shoes.

Just one pair mama. Just get these.

So I did, at the beginning of summer. There is a lot of perspective to be gained from a tall pair of shoes. Seeing the world from a vantage point that isn't your own. I think it's good for the mind. Thinking outside your height. They're not fancy pumps, which wouldn't find much use traveling to and from summer camp every day, but tall sandles that add a nice angle to the ankle and keep my feet cool.

That's the thing about clothes and shoes. Sometimes you need to dig back far into your closet, or let your kid talk you into one try at something different. To give yourself permission.

That said, off I dash again. Been in and out most of the day--a day to myself--and off I go again.

Then, to rest.

oh dear

Well, I made it to the week before Kindergarten without a mention of it. Just a recognition of it. But never a direct question. Just something that was. Because it's not done in our house. Just outside the house. So it never came up. Til today.

Mama, why do you smoke? It's not good for you.

[heart stops. deep breath.]

Well, you're right, Jenna. It isn't good and Mama is working on quitting. You should never start because it is something that's very hard to stop. But I'm working on it. In the mean time, it's adult business and not anything you should worry about.

Okay. It's bad to do though.

Thank you for asking about it, sweetie.



Quitting must now begin in earnest. Just what I need right now. My one escape. May need to find another.

Because I Been Busted.