My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Don't Mind Me......I'm Just Musing.

2004-12-31
Our neighbors have spent the day building us a new fence on the eastern side of our closest pasture. It has taken a year for this to happen but who’s complaining? They are nice people who did it for nothing – or, well, so they could graze their horses there again, but at no cost to us. Unfortunately, the north facing fence of this pasture is the same one that was destroyed by an out-of-control car during the ice/snow “event” on December 20th. Perhaps it’ll take another year to fix that side? I hope not. Time moves slowly out here but if the woman’s insurance will cover the costs, we’ll find someone to replace the fence by spring.

It was a strange, but not bad, holiday. It was Red’s first Christmas but Dusty raked in the loot. No one was sick ON Christmas day for a change but my husband and I felt like crap – catching some form of Dusty’s previous cold (for me it evolved into some kind of sinus infection), and Red came down with a cough and ear infection. Again. But, the nurse practitioner we visited on Monday (who was also my doula during both births) at the doctor’s office slipped me some miracle drugs that finally cured my lingering illness.

We were supposed to have driven down to Roanoke to visit the in-laws (a 3-hour drive each way on one of Virginia’s most godforsaken highways, I-81) on Monday but Red’s diagnosis killed that idea. I felt bad because we haven’t visited them in at least two years and Dusty and Red are their only grandchildren and I know my mother-in-law, a pleasant person I share nothing in common with, was really looking forward to us coming. But, instead, we have used the week to recover from life, hang out, take a few trips into town doing this and that – Target, Barnes & Noble, visiting Grandpa and his wife and my half-sisters, the museum – and getting a few projects done around the house. Despite my lingering guilt for not going to Roanoke (and thus adding even more stress to my life), I’ve enjoyed this week. I could have used more stretches of time completely alone but I’m not complaining. And, despite Red’s sudden penchant for waking in the middle of the night and demanding to be nursed (and, yes, she’s getting lots of real food during the day – it just isn’t helping to keep her sated yet), I’ve gotten more sleep overall because none of us have had to go anywhere. I dread Monday morning.

Red has changed so much in the past 10 days that when I take her back to the sitter’s on Monday, I’ll have a whole new list of instructions: 2 real meals a day – fruit in the a.m. and cereal in the p.m.; she’s really scooting now, almost crawling, and she needs the exercise so more floor time and less saucer time. Red has also developed a much more obvious personality. She’s always had one but now she’s really reacting to objects and people around her and is able, when she feels like it, to occupy herself by playing with her toys. She likes pears and banana and sweet potato but isn’t crazy about peaches. She’s much harder to nurse now because she gets so distracted by things around her, especially the antics of her older sister whom she just adores.

In a different vein, a number of things over the past week have caused me to think back on the critical juncture of my life: my parents’ divorce. One of these has been reading my 57th and final full book for 2004, “The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll” by Jean Nathan, a biography of Dare Wright, who wrote and photographed the Edith the Lonely Doll books. In reading about this bizarre woman and her crazy mother, I reflected on the nature of parent and child and wondered how much of the talent and creativity people possess is inborn and, if so (which I believe), how much of it is directed by how we are raised and by WHOM we are raised. How much of who we are is determined by who our parents are? Would I always have been a writer no matter who raised me? No matter what my parentage? Would I be less weird if I had a “normal” mother? One who is not a residential hoarder who doesn’t use boxes of Tic-Tacs as place settings at Christmas? And, if I were raised by “normal” people, would I not possess any kind of talent, any creativity, and thus be a typical boring SUV-driving, cell-phone using Middle American?

Or would it be a matter of how I write and what I write about that would have changed? Is there a ratio between unhappiness and output? In selfishness and output? The most selfish artists also tend to be the most prolific but is it because they ignored any family they had or didn’t bother to have one? Or were there circumstances in childhood that predetermined that art would override life in the form of personal attachments? I’m sure I could finish my novel if I neglected all my other duties or simply forced those around me to give me the time I needed but the result of that forced solitude would be added unhappiness and stress. It’s a lose/lose situation in a way unless you simply put one thing aside for a time, as I’ve done, and make promises to yourself to pick it up later.

Hence the creation of this journal. A small outlet for thoughts, for recording the small things my children do, a proof that no matter what happens, no matter what kind of strange mother I turn into later, I do and did love my children and did the best I could to help them become themselves, whoever that may be.

Up there I mentioned my parents’ divorce and I will write more about that soon, at the risk of alienating those family members who might stumble upon this journal. In visiting various relatives and reading about the nature of Dare Wright’s completely fucked up relationship with her mother, I’ve thought about the person I was when my parents divorced – I was eleven – and who I’ve become and how, though we’ve all grown up in our various ways over the last 25+ years, I still have lingering feelings of distrust and betrayal. We always are who we always were, huh?

Tonight, perhaps, I’ll ask my husband to play our new Spinal Tap DVD to celebrate the ending of an odd and not-too-terrible year (new job, new child, etc). Perhaps I’ll hop in the car and tool down the road and pick up a six-pack momentarily. The neighbors have popped in with their kids so Dusty’s suddenly got an impromptu playdate – a rarity out here.

Have a great last day of 2004. I’ll be back next week!

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4:13 p.m. ::
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