Saturday, February 21, 2004

Melancholia & the Transformative Process

Today, I find myself a little down. Just worn out. I've had ab pains all day and my hands are nearly completely useless, everything hurts... I would love to take something but I can't, no pain meds, surgery Monday. Can't wait for those pain killers!

I had a 2 hour nap this afternoon, but it was one of those naps where you wake up feeling worse than when you went to sleep in the first place.

Ow ow ow ow ow

Of course I can't walk around going "ow" all day, it just isn't done. But I was still pretty useless. Didn't do a lick of housework today -- unless you count bringing the laundry basket full of clean clothes upstairs. The clothes are still in the basket. Didn't clean the bathrooms, or dust, or vaccuum. Honestly, vaccuuming is not in the cards these days, although I will probably do the others tomorrow. I did make beef burgundy in the crockpot for dinner so that was nice, didn't require too much effort this morning.

I had about half a glass of wine with dinner and had to give up on it... hurt too much. This sucks, but the timing is good, I suppose... just one more day to endure.

I've been watching TLC a lot lately. Somewhere or other I was talking about what shows I watch recently, and I realized I don't watch any network TV except for "24". My favorite shows, though, are "Clean Sweep" and "What Not To Wear". Both of these shows are similar in that they help people to strip away all the extraneous garbage they have going on in their lives that they are hiding behind.

"What Not To Wear" is tougher on the participant, I have to admit. Stacy and Clinton, the "style consultants", are really brutal about making the woman (rarely it's a guy) really look at herself and be honest about the clothes she has been wearing. They've had on 20-something-year-old school teachers that dress like grammas, and 43-year-old business owners who dress like "hoochie mamas" they call them, they can't bring themselves to say "ho", I guess.

It sounds terrible, and there are oftentimes tears, but by the end of the show the women uniformly realize that they are beautiful and there is no need for them to hide in tents or to wear wildly age-inappropriate clothing. You can just see them learning to really value themselves, and be more themselves. It's not about making them into runway models or making them follow some arbitrary fashion rules. It's about finding the clothes that are right for their body styles, and helping them find clothes that fit. Plus hair and makeup that flatters them and fits their lifestyles. They've had all ages and body types, races, moms and professionals and students, and every time they give these people what they really need to shine. It's really no surprise why I love the show, it's great to see how awesome they look in the end.

Plus, it's basically about learning to shop and which clothes look good when, and I'm all over that. I don't know which came first, me being tired of looking like I lived in a pre-school (even though I basically do, you should see my house), or starting to watch "What Not To Wear". The show may have come first and fed into the feeling. Anyway, I started buying different clothes. Not just new versions of my old clothes. Different clothes. Haven't been spending a fortune, just keeping my eye out for different things that look nice, and not just buying things because they were on sale, like I used to.

I do find I feel better in clothes that fit right and look good. Sloppy clothes feed into a messy self-image. Right about now I'm even thinking about getting new pj's because my old ones are so big they are falling off me... and DH deserves to go to bed with someone looking better than that! (hee)

"Clean Sweep" is more about life than wardrobe, but it's similar. Invariably, you've got a couple that has let their clutter over-run their lives. They have so much stuff they can't even move. There's one organizer I really like, Peter, he gets right to the point: if you're going to keep something and say it's important to you, then you should treat it with respect. Use it, display it, or put it away properly. None of this boxes of crap all over the place, people! And, people? Buy some furniture, will ya? About 50% of the time all these people really need are a few bookcases or cupboards and some organization imposed on them.

This whole fascination with "stuff" is beyond me. I got over "stuff" during the dissolution of my first marriage. My ex came from an Upper East Side Manhattan family, and they had some money. Not so much they didn't have to work (his dad was a name partner in a law firm), but enough that they owned a 3-bedroom, 3-bath coop on 79th & York and a 5,000+sq ft custom-built house in Westchester County. That house rocked, although there were some stupid things in the design. The fieldstone fireplace in the great room was outstanding, as were the grounds and the pool. But I digress.

When I realized that the marriage was dead, I knew I was going to have to leave, and leave all that stuff behind. I took a while for me to come to that decision. My ex and I had a gorgeous three-level condo in Cambridge. Lofts, spiral staircases, rooftop greenhouse room & terrace. That space rocked, truly, and we had all this kick-ass Scandinavian furniture (which I still adore). But eventually I realized that it was just stuff, it wasn't love, it certainly wasn't happiness. It wasn't the life I wanted to be living. In those days, I used to read over a 1200 pages a week, all I did was read, I had no real life.

So: bye, stuff! When I left him, I took my clothes and my books, a few things that were mine from when I was single. In the divorce agreement I asked for a few more things, but they were trivial: the glider, a vase, some artwork that had been painted by a family friend.

It was odd starting over again, to say the least. But it was liberating, too, not to have all that stuff. I did miss the really comfortable couch we had. I still don't think I've had as comfy a couch, LOL! I can't remember missing anything else, though. We had 3 posters of Tiffany stained glass windows. Those were nice and I would still enjoy them if I had them now, but there's no sadness in the fact I don't have them. I wonder if I'm just repressing the memories of the feelings? Seems to me, from this point, I just picked up and moved on. I had to furnish an apartment on a shoestring, but that was kind of fun. And I still have the leather furniture I bought all those years ago -- it has stood up pretty well to the beating the kids give it.

I was talking to a friend the other day and his kids got into a tussle while we were on the phone, and his son dislocated something on one of his daughter's dolls. She cried and cried, like her heart was breaking. She made such a fuss that we had to end the call, so he could attend to the doll. This may seem cold but I just didn't get it. This girl has like a gazillion dolls, and although the doll was messed up, it was fixable. I'm sure part of the tears were just from being angry with her brother, but that level of heartbreak should be reserved for being truly hurt or losing something really precious. This wasn't her favorite doll she took with her everywhere, far from it. She was just carrying on like it was. I hate it when my kids do that, the big over-reaction to something that should be trivial. Why is stuff so important to them?

I let my DD buy a new beanie baby the other day ("Corsage") because it is completely adorable: little white bear covered with purple flowers. Since the word "Corsage" just will not stay in DD's brain, she has nicknamed the new bear Violet, which works very well. DD has a gazillion beanie babies and beanie buddies and other stuffed animals, but she actually plays with them. She has her Teddy, always by her side, but she rotates the other ones in and out.

Still... she has a gazilion toys, so I told DD that if she wants to keep Violet, she has to go through her stuff and give me 6 things she doesn't want anymore. Surprisingly, she was able to do it. I was really proud of her. However, there are about 20 other stuffed animals she never looks twice at that she insisted on hanging on to, because they are "really cute". Those will have to wait until some other time. DD is only 5. She has time to learn about the tyranny of stuff.

That's what "Clean Sweep" is all about. The tyranny of stuff: at a certain point, you have so much stuff, you don't even know what you have. Then you waste time looking for things, and you waste money buying things that are duplicates of what you already have. I did that last year at Christmas time, I had shopped for books and things for the niblings, but then forgot about them... then I found them again, quite near Christmas, so a few kids got double presents, I didn't want them hanging around any longer so I could forget about them again. Nobody complained. (hee)

My current resolve is to keep this house closer to a Clean Sweep "after" than "before". We are OK in the common rooms but the kids' rooms need help. If the contractors ever finish I'll be able to do something about that. I hope! I'm psyched because DD's new closet has all these little shelves in the dead space, they will be so useful for out-of-season clothes and toys and stuff. I hate going into the kids' rooms now, they are barely contained chaos. They have bins and shelves and things for their stuff, they just need to be prodded to stay on top of it more often. Right now most of the shelves and drawers are empty; the stuff is all over the floor. Ick. I'm not getting into the business of cleaning their rooms for them, nope. I will, however, stand there and nag them until they clean them up themselves.

Listening to "One" in the van with the kids, one of the songs I always sing along with is "Can't Buy Me Love". Yes, I am counter-programming...

Parenting lately has been forcing me to examine my own beliefs and behaviors. I can't explain things to my kids or realistically impose rules that I don't understand myself. It's also hard, though, because I have to not impose my own personal preferences on them, I have to respect their own personalities.

The big issue lately has been helping them to understand how well-off we are. They never lack for anything, literally. I don't buy them stuff randomly, though. They get money for holidays and birthdays and I let them spend it, and once it's gone, it's gone. I do set rules on what they can buy, but they aren't unreasonable. They have to buy age-appropriate toys and nothing that is sending a bad message (Bratz dolls, anyone?). They all wanted neopets after Christmas, so I let them get some; they're small! Hee. Along the same lines of letting them make their own decisions within reason, I let DD keep her 'really cute' animals for now, because we do have the space. I don't have to be ruthless. Yet.

But I'm still struggling about teaching work ethic and the value of the money when they have so much around them, and so many people giving them really nice gifts or cash all the time. It's hard. I'm glad they're still little and I have some time to figure this out.

Man, this is all over the place. Part of me wants to go back and restructure and rewrite it, the rest of me is like, are you crazy? this is your journal, relax! I should go work if I want to do work, I haven't put in many hours this week. That's OK, though, as the boss was away all week. I hope he got my email about the surgery Monday. Hmmmm.

I've been too much in my head (and on the computer) lately, I think. DH has been working extra hours (that's where he is now) to make up for time he will miss next week when I'm out of commission, so I haven't been spending any time with him. I was all pumped out to go out last night and then that got cancelled, so now I feel completely deflated. I was looking forward to a real social evening, hours of chatting and eating good food and just having fun, out with friends... instead, zip. I didn't even get to watch the news with DH because he went to bed early. ***sigh***

I was thinking the other day I need to get one of those pain charts and fill it out every day. These charts have two outlines of a full body, one front, one back. You put the 1-10 pain scale number directly where the pain is hurting. So, if your lower back is nagging you, you'd put a "4" on the lower back. At this point I think I would just color the whole f'ing thing in and mark it "6". The pain is distracting but I can still function. Can't figure out why my left thigh muscle is seizing, though. That usually only happens when I've been doing a lot of driving. I hope I feel better by Monday, because last time I had surgery I had to fill out one of those things and then I got grilled on it, and this time it will be even worse. Sheesh. I suppose I could lie? Not a good idea, lying to your doctor. Now, that's a whole 'nother topic.

I'm off before this gets even more whiny Ow ow ow ow ow

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