Thursday, November 04, 2010

The car game

When my children were tiny, I used to play a game with myself when the day came to a close. I would carry them around the living room and sing to them or we would dance to fast mucic while counting cars. SURELY Daddy would be home within 100 cars! If he wasn't home within 100 cars, he'd SURELY be home within the next 100 cars! As soon as he came in, I'd either hand the babies off to him and go paint or draw, or I would talk his ear off. How we had nine kids, I do not know.

Now we have teenagers. When he is late, I have no baby to swing and dance with, but I have teens fighting with each other and evading chores and nothing getting done without threats to take things away.

I still play the car game.

My muses are starting to dance again

For several years, drawing was to me like speaking. To better artists or people who just knew art, I probably "sounded" like a hill folk with my artwork, but drawing and painting was a form that I spoke in. I got shaken up and the place in my brain that draws and paints got cut off for a while.

I have hardly drawn 09-09. The only things that I cared about to rescue after the catastrophe were my paint brushes that my mom and dad gave me as a high school sophomore, some head scarves, and letters from a former friend. The scarves got tossed. The former friend was as shallow as a bird bath. But the paint brushes have been at my bedside from the rental house to the new house. My husband wanted a desk for our room and as I looked at them, I was drawn to a large wood table with drawers. When I say large, it is not a large table like the one that we having in our dining room that seats 14. But it is large for a desk, and is has drawers. It is plain but I started thinking about putting my water color blocks on it and setting my chalks out on it near my bedroom window that over looks a patio and a lovely yard. That was the first time that I felt like drawing again.

I have drawn since the fire, but it was forced. My drawing was OK, but it was like, "I think I will draw. . . a giraffe and a butterfly." So I got out my art supplies, put them around my bed, and, sitting on my bed, I forced a drawing. I had to get up many times and walk away from it and not let my husband sit on our bed for several hours. Something that is so intertwined with my emotions had me in an emotional tweak. I had no place to draw or paint, and thinking that I needed to because I hasn't done it in a while, I made myself execute them. (With as many issues as I have with my husband at times, he understands that I am connected to my work like this and he said he just wanted to watch TV, anyway.)

At our other house, I drew at the bar in my kitchen. I drew at that bar rather happily for as long as we lived there-- 10, 11 years? On those nights I would often dress up in a beautiful outfit and draw. I don't know what was with my fancy outfits, as I would take them off later and put on jeans and a t-shirt to finish them, but I had to get spiffy first. It was like my muses wanted some fun. (I blame my muses. While my husband isn't one to go to places, I wanted to go out and with so many young children, I couldn't. I was stimulated by nice things. Let's blame it on the muses because the muses are being muses and a mother of so many is being frivolous.)

In our rental, I had the supplies which I had asked my husband to get for me. The expense was great but I really needed to draw and paint. But I was never inspired. I did a couple of drawings, including one of a baby dragon and a Chinese princess, and I struggled to do them. It was like my muses were too crowded in there and found a corner to sleep and didn't want to get up. (Cranky muses are not nice.)

Here in our new place, it is almost like the house partially dictates where I will draw and paint. We have a much nicer island/bar for painting, but I took my supplies out and set things up and even had what I wanted to draw (more dragons!) and I couldn't do it. The muses had room to dance, yet they didn't come out. I worried that I couldn't draw again, then at the furniture store, the muses started getting excited.

I have also started knitting. Last year I started knitting and it gave me a sense of accomplishment, but while I could so it in closed spaces, it quickly became an art form and also shut off. I find that if I take a basic shape with something like say, a purse, the yarn tells me what it wants to do. As I work with yarn and I squeeze it and play with it, it gives me ideas. I don't get get an idea to say, bead it-- an idea comes to me on how to do it. I call my knitting teacher and describe what I am thinking and she comes up for the word. I look it up on YouTube and do it. I like how that works.

Fantasy vs. Reality

I am finally settling.

So much of my life is spent in chaos and I am thinking, 'I will be happy when _____ happens.' Well, ______ happens and I then feel at peace, then I panic awaiting the next jolt. I read a lot of Jewish on line stories and inspiration. There are several rabbis who I think G-d appointed to write for me. One of them is Rabbi Shishler. He wrote a great piece that you can see I responded to here. Since reading that, I am doing my best to enjoy the present moment. Inevitably chaos will resume. It always does and let's face it, it is what I write about and it makes me laugh. After I yank out my hair.

Fortunately G-d doesn't care when I curse people and things. He just says, "Kaylee is ranting again." He sends me a fascinating article by some rockin' rabbi at and I am calm for a bit.

(I'm not presently Jewish but so many of the articles resonate with me.)

If my life went as I wanted it to, I would write like this:

"This morning I awoke to my dear husband bringing me my favorite loose-leaf tea. We talked for a few minutes, then he took a shower. I got up and made him his favorite coffee and had it waiting for him on the counter in the kitchen. I went around the house and woke up the children. They loved the stone ground oatmeal with the side of fresh fruit that I had prepared for them.

"While I dressed, the children made their beds and got dressed. My eldest of the elementary school kids had made school lunches the night before.

"We left for their schools on time and I paused and admired the flowers in the principal's office that his wife had sent to him.

"I got home and did my housework. I do the big things. My children are good about keeping up with their chores so I just vacuum, do the laundry, cook and keep the little kids' room organized.

"I really don't know why some women are so frazzled all the time."

Instead, I write my reality:

I awoke to my husband saying, "Oy! I don' feel so hot." I asked what was wrong and if I could get him something. I was seriously congested and had headache that I'd gotten an ice pack a few hours earlier and asked if I could get one. He kept muttering, "I don' feel so hot." After he said that nine or a million times I snapped at him, "Don'T drop your T's!"

He wanted some tea, I got up to make him some and realized that the kids assigned to kitchen duty had not put the honey away. It seemed like one of the younger kids got into it because it had been knocked over and the lid was loose. I zapped some water and heard yelling down stairs. My sons were arguing over who was going to walk the dogs. It was only 4AM so I told them to go back to sleep. As I was leaving their room, the older one tackled the next younger one on his bed. I flipped on the lights. "What did you do that for?"

"He flipped me off!"

The attacked one denied it.

I was incredulous. "It was pitch black in here! How could you even see it?" I made him do 10 push ups for me in the hall while he complained how it was a terrible way to start the day.

I went up stairs and made my husband some tea, cleaned the honey mess and took the tea up to my husband who was back asleep so I put the tea on his night stand.

I decided that I couldn't go back to sleep so I cleaned up the kitchen. When it was time for him to wake up, I came out and my husband was annoyed with me because the tea was not hot and he'd not realized the time lapse. It was time to wake up for him and his tea was luke-warm.

I went down to zap it again. I couldn't wake up the kids who are in high school so I announced that I was turning on their lights on the count of three. There was screaming, "Moooooom!" My husband wanted to know where his work badge was. It was next to the tea I'd made.

My husband and older kids got out the door with some yelling and snapping. I got the younger kids up. I went back into my room and the tea was not touched.

While I showered, I heard lots of yelling. Apparently the dogs hadn't been taken out and there was a mess on the floor. I came out in , assigned dogs to kids and cleaned the mess up. I got dressed and couldn't find matching stockings. I wear skirts and stockings with garters-- it is old fashioned but I love them. I went in to my eldest daughter's bedroom. She had borrowed them as well as some of my stilettos. "Why did cloud have THESE?" I said, to no one in particular. My grade schooler daughter was standing in the doorway and explained, "She and Heather were trying them on. They were dressing up like hookers."

I gasped at her language and then asked, "Do you know what a hooker is, sweetheart?"

She didn't.

I told her that hookers wear hip waders and fish and that hooking is illegal. I made a comparison to snagging. She said "Oh" and left the room. She really didn't care. I threw on some sweats. My preschooler was charminingly mismatched. The rest of the kids had changed and were ready for school.

Some how, we were still on time. I told the kids to grab their lunches and realized that none were made the night before. I quickly threw them together and they had a lot of candy.

Trying to get out of the house, I had one of the dogs who had been taken on a walk want to come with us, so I put her on a leash and I walked out the door and she pulled when I wasn't ready and I fell on the ice in my driveway and split open the back of my head. I was bleeding bad but I angled the mirror to check it out in my bathroom and I was OK, it was just a flesh wound and not that big of a gash. I didn't have any gauze but I had a box of panty liners which I did a fast operation on with scissors and tape and parted my hair and taped it to my head and put a scarf on over my head.

I got in the car a few minutes alter and school was ready to start for one set of kids. We drove to the school and I had to sign them in. The principal saw me, "Mrs. Crumpet? May I see you for a minute?"

I knew it, I was in trouble. Did I realize that I was running late again? I started to explain it and how my mornings go and how I tried-- I stopped. A wise man once said to me, "There is no try. There is only do. Or fail." I took the scarf off my head, "Sir, do you know what this is?" I ripped off my bandage and handed him the fraction of the panty liner. He started laughing. I told him about my morning and that I'd gotten up early. By the time I was done, he had tears of mirth in his eyes. While he is Catholic, he and his wife only had two kids and he didn't know how I did it. He had some pretty flowers in his office and I knocked over the vase with my purse as I stood up to leave. He laughed harder and told me to exhale and take my time getting to the next school and to be safe.


Ahh! I think I am settling! I sure hope nothing comes up to throw my sense of calm out of order!

What I know as normal is probably not calm.

I have started getting all the kids to bed by nine o'clock in the last couple of days and I think I may move it back to 8 o'clock. One of my college friends had been a medic in the Vietnam war and he told me about helping a field nurse do an appendectomy on a soldier in the middle of a fight. There were bullets whizzing over their heads as they operated on the guy. It was a seemingly otherwise normal operation. . . this is how I sometimes feel!

Of course not all mornings are THIS crazy. When mornings like this happen, I get more into my chore charts and discussing how we treat each other and  going to bed on time. I am happy thinking about this. On the calm days I brace myself for days like this. It makes no sense, does it?

And if I ever achieve calm, what will I write about?