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Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Just Wanted To Blow Dry My Hair (A Post on Expectations)

The other morning I got up early for the 6 am Zumba class I've been attending. When I got home an hour later, I hopped in the shower and then went back to my room to start getting dressed. Marc was there, fully dressed and ready for the day, searching online for a Hanukkah present we needed to buy. He wanted my input on the present, as we'd only vaguely discussed it. I wanted to blow dry my hair.

Now if you know my husband, or just have an impression of him from reading this blog, you have probably guessed that he's a really great guy. And I wanted to be happy that he was taking the initiative to order the gift, something that otherwise would have been left to me (and I already had it on a list of things to do). So this post is in no way meant to hurt him.

Instead, I'm diving into what I expected of him during this brief time period that I was going to be getting dressed. I expected that he'd be downstairs with the kids he'd already made sure were dressed, feeding them breakfast. I expected he'd be packing Max's lunch and Hannah's snack. I expected that he would appreciate my extra cute outfit for that day since I was working from home, but hadn't yet done the laundry from our vacation and my jeans were dirty. I expected that my usual blow-dried hair would be part of that outfit.

But since he was looking around for that present, again, something I recognize also needed to be done, none of the other things that had to be done before the school bus arrived were being done. So I quickly got dressed and threw my wet hair up in a claw clip, and then quickly progressed through the rest of the morning routine. Everything was done pretty close to on time, including printing out some pictures from our trip that the kids had requested at the last minute, but I couldn't get over the fact that my hair was wet.

I know I'm a complete stressball in the mornings. In my mind, you don't do extras, like looking for Hanukkah gifts, until the mandatory tasks are complete. If I'm being really honest, I don't want to do any extras at all - if there's spare time, I want to sit quietly and think about the day ahead. But there really never is much extra time, especially once you ask Max to put his shoes on at least 74 times.

I was annoyed that my hair was wet all day. But I just expected Marc to read my mind and that's not remotely fair. The gift did get ordered, I got everything else done. I haven't died due to the cold I should have gotten walking around with a wet head. But I'm upset with myself for not speaking up about what I wanted.

Ten years ago, when Marc and I met with the rabbi who was to marry us, he told us that the secret to a successful marriage was managing expectations. I guess I'm still working on managing mine.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thank You

I'm typing this out quickly from my mother's house as it rattles and shakes to the sound of Star Wars video games being played below. The smells wafting upstairs from the kitchen are already incredible. I know how lucky I am to be with my family, with everyone in good health and good spirits, and I am ridiculously grateful for all of it.

I am also very grateful for this space. I love being able to share my life here, to process how things are happening and commemorate these small moments in time. I appreciate your comments and feedback, your shares and tweets and likes. I'd love it if some of you lurkers took a moment to comment and let me know who you are today. It's just my corner of the Internet, but it means a lot to me.

Thanks for being here. I hope you're all basking in warmth and good spirits in some capacity today. And for my few international readers (Chile? Really?) thanks for joining in the fun. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Perfect Storm

Yesterday was a cluster of competing priorities.

On Tuesday, Hannah brought home a note that said her art was going to be on display at the Education Center and there was a reception the following day. I had my eye exam scheduled for the same day and knew I couldn't really leave early, so Marc agreed he'd take her.

I assumed he'd take Max too, since he normally picks up Max each day. But at the end of the day Marc texted me asking if I could get Max, that he'd also been out for an appointment and couldn't get Max and get her to the art show. So I ran out the door like a bat out of hell, thankfully the train cooperated even if the traffic did not, and I got there by 5:45.

I was so angry about the whole thing, and every little complication along the way. Angry that the school system, which had obviously coordinated a big event for weeks in advance, only gave us a day's notice. Angry that I missed the call from my boss, who is traveling in Australia, three minutes after I left. Angry that Marc's day had gotten more complicated too, so he couldn't follow through on getting Max first. Angry at myself for not automatically rescheduling my eye exam (though we all know how critical it is that I get one, and I got *another* reminder phone call from my doctor's office about it yesterday morning!). Angry that my commute, while actually smoother than usual, was so long to begin with. Angry at our narrow driveway and that it took me four tries to navigate past the window-unit air conditioner and not wreck the house or car. Angry at all the traffic from Winchester St. onto Nahanton St. and the woman in the fancy SUV inching alongside of my car in the one lane portion of Nahanton St. before she could turn down Wells Ave. (shout out for the JCC crowd reading that part). Angry that I'd needed to use the bathroom for over 90 minutes before I had the chance to do so. Angry at Max's less-than-enthusiastic greeting and the fact that his car seat was in the trunk when I went to put him in the car. And finally, angry that I came home to emails cancelling something I really wanted to do.

So it was a perfect storm of moments, all designed to induce stress, anxiety and sadness. All of which I only want to numb with carbohydrates, TV that makes me cry (I recommend "Parenthood"), dark rooms and sleep. All of which I granted myself.

Today is a new day, a chance to do it better and try to have a little more control. But that's the thing I'm still struggling to learn: control is just an illusion. I can plan and execute everything to the best of my abilities, and there will always be that last minute interruption, the meeting that runs late, the traffic and weather corroborating to ruin the moment. So somehow, I need to find a way to roll with it more easily.

What do you do to get through moments like these?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Better Conversations

I've never had a particularly hard time making friends. Not that I've been super popular or anything, but I'm an outgoing, social person by nature, and friendship is important to me. For a few years while Hannah and Max were younger, friendship was still important to me, but the demands of juggling family and work meant there wasn't a lot of time left for movies and long, leisurely dinners. Thankfully, that's changing, and I'm making time to spend with friends about once a week.

This past weekend, one of my four roommates from junior year of college was in town, and she rounded us up to get together (though we missed Julie). In the picture above I'm sitting between Carol and Michael, and opposite me are Julia and Michael's husband Justin. We were roommates from 1998-1999, though I'd lived with Carol for the prior two years as well, along with Julie. Carol and Michael grew up together in Wakefield, MA, so I met him on the first day of college too (and Michael met Justin during that junior year as well). Julia joined our group not too long after when Carol met her in second semester Chemistry, I believe. There are so many stories that come to mind just typing these few sentences. We've been lucky to see each other through the years at weddings and now keep up with each other through social media.

But Sunday's dinner was different. Once we all settled in, there was a moment of awkward silence as we all studied our menus. It had been more than two years since the four roommates had last had dinner together, and I'll admit that I panicked a bit in that quiet moment. But that's all it was - one tiny moment - as we spent the rest of the night talking at a frenetic pace, catching each other up on so many details of our lives, discussing politics (gotta love it when everyone agrees with each other), and finally, dissecting disappointment.

There's a new song by Train called "Bruises" (video below), and the lyric "these bruises make for better conversations" has been rolling around in my head since I first heard it. And that's the point my friends and I got to as the night started to wind down. We talked about how much harder life has been than we anticipated back when we lived together in our fake apartment. That despite all of our education and career success, and trust me we are an accomplished bunch, that we still didn't foresee the things that we all have faced and struggled through. We were young and naive.

But the connections we made at that long ago point in our lives are still very real. And while we may not get together as often as we should, it was good to see that our conversations over our cheap attempts at meals in 1998 were no different than our conversations over fancy French fare in 2012. Well, other than the food being better.

I'm lucky to have them in my life still, and happy to make even more time to nurture these friendships in the years to come.
Carol, me, Michael, Julia and Julie in our "Grad" campus apartment, Fall 1998
 The table of friends at Marc's and my wedding, June 2002

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Doubt

Just before lunch on Friday, my bosses pulled my colleagues and me into a conference room for an impromptu meeting. This doesn't happen often, so my anxiety ticked up as we walked down the hall. Moments later, I definitely lost my appetite for lunch, after finding out that I need to take a licensing exam.

Both of my bosses have taken this test, and immediately began describing it as a non-event. However, they described Hurricane Sandy in similar terms just a couple days ago, and clearly most people would disagree with that assessment. But after a bit of investigation, I see that it doesn't look too bad. Multiple choice, just 120 questions over a couple of hours. One site said a fully prepared test-taker would have completed 70 hours of study.

Cue "needle scratching on a record player" sound effect. How in the world am I going to find 70 hours?

Life has always been busy. Long time readers here know I can juggle things with the best of them. My best friend from high school sent me a birthday card with Super Woman on the cover. So if I've survived so much before, why does a new test send me into a tailspin of doubt?

Maybe it's that the subject matter is only tangentially related to what I actually do, and therefore not something I really enjoy? Maybe it's that we're heading into the holidays, with travel and extra commitments? Maybe it's that I have fallen a bit behind on my commitment to exercise, at best making it twice a week lately? Maybe it's that work has been crazy busy as it is, and I'm not sure when I'll find time there to study either? Or maybe it's that it's been five years since I last took a test, and I really hoped I was done with that portion of my life.

Whatever it is, I need to get over it. I know that I will. But I wish my first thought wasn't "I can't do this."

What about you? What things send you into a tailspin of doubt?