Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Yes, and...

Can we just take a moment to acknowledge how perfectly gorgeous Tina Fey looked at the Emmys on Sunday?

Good gracious.

I've been spending a few minutes here and there over the last few days trying to figure out how I could justify putting this picture up here.  While I'd love to just be able to put up pretty girls on here for your viewing pleasure (and mine), I feel like I need a reason.

Not having Tina Fey on my TV every week has not made me forget about her, but I don't think about her as much as I used to, but seeing her in this form-fitting blue dress has left me with little else to think about. There is one part of Bossypants that always sticks with me and it's when she's talking about doing improv, and how one of the main rules is that no matter how the scene starts, your job as a fellow improv player is to say, "Yes, and..."  So no matter what world your partner is creating, you have to agree to it and add something to it.  I remember her talking about how this has helped her on every level of her life, from her professional to her personal life.  I re-downloaded the book on my iPad this morning so I could search for this section and find out exactly what she had to say.  It is more fitting to me now than I even remembered:

"To me, YES, AND means don't be afraid to contribute.  It's your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you're adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile."

This comes as I'm a little bit more than knee-deep (maybe thigh-deep) into a journey of trying to find my way back to writing, trying to figure out why it is that I write... or more appropriately, why it is that I don't write, and why it is that I want to write.  A lot of little things I've been coming across lately speak of "responsibility" - to yourself, to the world, to your artist. I'll now add this to the list.

I am certainly not one to argue with Tina Fey.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Do the right thing

Once Maddie came to stay with us full time, parenting went from a Very Manageable, Enjoyable Job to High Stress, High Stakes Career.  Isabella had been such an easy kid - very mellow and adaptable, somewhat ornery at times, but overall, a breeze.  She had a set bedtime and she rarely woke up before 6:45 in the morning.  Gina and I thought we were getting away with murder, basically - we had this cute kid who admittedly arrived with a bit of trauma but who seemed unaffected by said trauma.

Maddie alone is a tough kid - beautiful and sweet but with a temper running in her bloodline she sometimes can't control. Alone, both kids present their own challenges...toddlers are difficult, as a rule. Together, they are maniacs. They are lunatics in adorable little-girl bodies. 

Parenting two children this young is not something I would have ever avoided on purpose; however, it is also not something I was prepared for.  Would it be different if the new child that had arrived had been a newborn?  I'll never know.  And I don't have time to think about it - my life is now full to the brim with transitioning the girls to the next part of the day: asleep to awake, morning at home to morning at daycare, daycare to car, car to home, home to dinner, dinner to bath, bath to bed, mommy to Jack Daniels, and so on.  These transitions are never consistently seamless, despite our best efforts.  Our daycare provider suggested bringing something to entice them into the car so that we could avoid the screaming fits from one or both if she couldn't open the door, or shut the door, or climb over the other's car seat to get to her own, or buckle herself in (ISABELLA HELP YOU!  ISABELLA DO IT! - News flash, you'd help me a whole lot by SITTING THE EFF DOWN and letting me BUCKLE YOU IN LOVE YOU MEAN IT OKAY?).  So one day when I had a little extra time, I ran home before going to get them and I secured some pretzel sticks for them.  They are ravenous little beasts right after school and I thought maybe a small snack would help.  It turned into Isabella having some pretzel left that Maddie wanted, and Isabella wouldn't give it to her (even though she wasn't eating it), and Maddie didn't regain control of her wits until about an hour and a half later. And then there is bedtime, which admittedly is getting better (Maddie is starting to fall asleep to songs and rocking instead of Rizzoli & Isles), but it is such a process, and there are no rules, and Gina and I end the night barely awake at 10pm, wondering what we are doing wrong, if we are doing ANYTHING right, and if we are ever again going to have a life that doesn't include trying to console a 3 year old because her 2 year old cousin flushed her poop without her written permission.

It's hard.  There is yelling.  Lots of yelling.  By me, by Gina, and by them.  I don't want to yell at them, I know yelling is my temper tantrum, but it usually WORKS and it makes me feel better.  I say stuff to them, try to reason with them, in a way that makes absolutely no sense.  I ask them insane questions - "Why would you do that?" Answer: I am 3 or I am almost 2 (depending on the kid), I make no sense whatsoever, haven't you figured that out yet, you fool?  And then my favorite is when they have a case of the "MINE!s", we are both known to say something like, "You know what?  NONE OF THIS IS YOURS!  It's all MINE and I let YOU play with it, so calm down!"

We both have college degrees, you guys.

They say you should be the person you want your child to be.  I'm not there yet, and I can see it when Maddie plays with her babies and gets right in their face and says, "Stop it! Nap! Quiet!" in the sternest voice a three-year-old can muster.  I can see it when Isabella looks at her milk (HER MILK) and says, "Stop it, milk!" in her quiet, authoritative voice.  And I can see it in how they talk to each other, when Isabella tries to shut the door (there is a no-shutting-the-door rule in our house (lest fingers get caught) that is broken every six seconds), and Maddie goes up and grabs her by the arms and says, "NO, Isabella, no shutting the door!"  It's in moments like this that I know I'm just screwing them up, and they will grow up talking about their mean mommy/auntie, and by then, therapy will be like $2000 an hour.

Inevitably, the tears come.  You get to a point where you are too angry and too tired to even yell, and the tears start falling if for no other reason than your body forcing you to just CLOSE YOUR EYES for a minute.  About 30 minutes after we got them home from daycare on my 35th birthday a few weeks ago (a birthday I was NOT looking forward to), I hit my wall.  They were fighting and screaming at each other over I can't even remember what, and there was still dinner to give and a kitchen to clean and baths to administer, and I had nothing. left. and I just put my head in my hands and let the lump in my throat evolve to tears, because just like yelling, tears make me feel better.  They stopped fighting and just looked at me.  Maddie came over to me and put her hand on my arm.  "Aunt Katie, so sad?"  I said, "Yes, I'm sad."  And then, as though it were scripted in a movie, she rubbed my arm, and then leaned her head on my shoulder and said, "It's okay, Katie.  I got you.  No sad.  I got you.  Ssssh.  I got you."

I guess we're doing something right.  Maybe they can get away with bi-weekly instead of weekly therapy sessions?

Monday, September 02, 2013

Autumn and The Method

It's that time of year again. Fall! Well, not technically. But September brings all sorts of fall feelings out in people and I'm no exception.

Fall is the only time I find it hard to live in Los Angeles. Fall has always been my favorite season. Growing up in the Midwest, I used to love everything that it brought... School, football (marching band), my birthday, and the start of the Holiday Season. I love the smell of the trees changing. By the time September rolls around, you might not be ready for winter, but you're ready for a bit of crispness in the air.

In Los Angeles, September means the start of fire season. Just when you are ready for that break in the heat, the heat becomes more relentless; October is often the hottest month of the year. You start to realize that chill in the air you're waiting for isn't coming for another couple of months, and you start to long for the bitter (yes, bitter) cold that comes in January. 

You have to be a bit of a "method" actor in Los Angeles when it comes to seasons. The calendar says September, so you send the kids back to school, you watch football, you buy the pumpkin candles, you order the pumpkin spiced latte... You play the Autumn Game, and eventually, it does start to feel a little like fall, at least in your mind. You buy Halloween stuff and then you get ready for Thanksgiving, and finally the weather starts to cooperate in December, bringing the Midwest fall temperatures you had been waiting for.

And then, when the rest of the country is digging themselves out of snow, you don't feel so "left out" of the whole seasons thing. I'll take a late fall over an Ohio winter all. day. long. 

(To make the lack of cool temps a little easier on the soul, we are headed to the beach today. Fall in LA isn't that bad...)