Friday, February 1, 2013

The Perfect Storm That Prompted the Potentially Frightful Fit of Pique and Inspired a New Blog

I didn't plan on going missing in action in January. Frankly, I didn't plan on just about anything that happened in January. Nothing dire happened, I just had a small mid-life crisis.

The month started out fine. We had a lovely Christmas and school holiday. Come January 6th, two days before school started, I had everyone organized for the new term. For writing I had new plans for this blog as well as an assortment of articles in various stages of readiness for PJLifestyle.

Then Tigger spiked a fever. The next day, Terremoto spiked a fever. Less than an hour into the first day of school, Calvin spiked a fever. The nurse called at 8:35. I had him home, in one of my special sick beds of brightly colored blankets in the den, by 9. So the first week back to school, I did the nursemaid thing.

Writing waited, as it should. But the gym also waited. Like most people, I had over indulged over Christmas and never made it to the gym. Two weeks of neglect is usually no problem, but by the time the kids were well, I was heading into week 4 without exercise.

The first glance at myself in the aerobics mirror was the first time I noticed the storm heading my way. I was...dissatisfied with my appearance. Then, in a leap of logic that only makes sense to mothers, I thought perhaps bangs would help. They were supposed to balance out my slightly fluffy face. Of course, I was way behind on all of my to dos and couldn't make it into my hairdresser for a color a few weeks previously—I'd had my mom teach 7 year old Cupcake how to color my grey, but back to that in a moment—so I cut them myself.

I think I have mentioned previously that prior to post pregnancy hair loss, I had straight hair. Now I have curly hair. Do you know what happens when you cut long curly hair? Yes, that is correct, the curls tighten making the hair much shorter than where your scissors snipped. Compounding my problem: the color.

Cupcake had done a fine job coloring my hair. I don't do highlights, I just cover grey, and for that the modern box stuff is much cheaper than a salon job and up to the task. It was my first time, however, and like wall paint color, the box color is deceptive. I had chosen a color perhaps 2 shades darker than I wanted. Complicating matters, since Cupcake was learning, she went slowly, so the color stayed on about 15 minutes longer than the recommended time for typical hair. In short, my hair is very, very dark. This only accentuated my now too short bangs. I look ridiculous.

So wanting to avoid public spaces as much as possible, I retreated to writing. I worked on various pieces and submitted two short ones. My editor published one, but kicked the other back to me recommending that I make it shorter or longer, i.e. it was too long for a short piece but not well developed enough for a full article. I could choose. This is perfectly reasonable and helpful editor advice, but I was annoyed at myself for not seeing it before I submitted it.

Faced with personal and semi-professional crises of confidence, I defaulted to my tendency under stress to fix things by using a "ready, fire!, aim" strategy. My husband has hand signals to go with the declaration, to make me laugh and diffuse my frenzy. Thankfully, that usually works but not this time. I penned a few rants about assorted topics, which I will not ever publish. I made 3 new blogs, all of which my husband declared dreadful marketing mistakes. It took only a little reflection to realize he was right. So before I did something drastic and stupid, I thought it best to step away from the computer for a spell. Actually, my husband took me to dinner and suggested that a cold turkey short break from blogging would help.

I was leaning in that direction already. The not-quite-right piece was about the depression of women my age, namely Elizabeth Wurtzel and Liz Jones.  I'm not in that kind of loneliness danger, but I have spent too much time hidden behind this computer. I just moved back stateside and left my early motherhood comrades at arms behind. I miss that my kitchen table was full of women and teacups most afternoons. I've not cultivated that well here.

Kathy Shaidle's article about geek culture didn't help, either. I take her point that we do not want to absorb morality from pop culture, but I disagree that we should avoid it. We must engage and shunning works of pop culture because they are inferior hampers our ability to influence culture by missing the occasional gem, depriving us of a common reference, and by assuming that we are better than all that. That said, to positively influence pop culture, to understand it, one needs a firm grounding in the classics. Between motherhood and writing, I have a stack of classic works that I still have not read. (Note well, if I had my before children life to do over again, I'd stuff almost every bit of that free time with classic reading.)

So I stepped back for a while. In not quite two weeks, I've gotten back to the gym. I've digested a few chapters of some of those books on my nightstand. I've gone out for a few girls nights. I've served a few cups of tea and a glass of wine to new friends at my kitchen table. I've also done a fair amount of gardening. Hacking and digging seems to help me think.

With a clearer head, I've set up a new WordPress blog, one which keeps An American Housewife persona that I have established. This will be my last post here at blogspot. I'm returning to the format I once used for my letters home from London. It will be slower, briefer (maybe), less busy. I hope it will be funnier.

Sometimes you just need a little bit of time.