Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year to YOU!!!

New Year's Eve.

Right off the bat, I just want to say that I traditionally don't get very hyped-up about New Year's.  I don't know if it's a sense of apathy bleeding out of my nose or what, but it's just never been that big a deal to me.  Matter of fact, when I think back on the most memorable New Year in recent history, what I come up with is my first New Year's Eve with Michael.  He was living in a loft with his good friend, we had been dating a few months, and his bedroom shared a wall with Steel, a club downtown.  On New Year's Eve we lay there in his bed, with a toddler-age Padawan sleeping soundly in between us (because his mom had wanted to go out that night), and listened to the music and the sound of the obnoxious dj next door pulse through the wall.  For some reason, it was a really sweet moment.  (Probably because if the chick you're dating is willing to spend New Year's Eve with you and your toddler, in bed by 10:00, you BOTH know that you're probably both in it for the long haul, right?  =)  But whatever.

Anyhow, even though the rolling over of the calendar doesn't actually mean beans to me, when I got out of the bath this morning I found myself doing some obligatory reminiscing over the year gone by.  So here are a few things that happened, and a few things I learned:

To begin with, I learned that I have a REALLY hard time remembering what was happening 12 months ago.

Let's see. . .  Oh yeah.  I had a broken wrist. 

I had broken it right before Christmas, and had pins placed in it surgically TWO days before the 25th.  This was a REALLY stupid move on my part, because I was in a LOT of pain on Christmas day.  I must shamefully admit that I was also probably a huge bitch.  (This is true.  I have been informed, by reliable sources, that this is true.)  But I made it through it, and my family eventually forgave me for this momentary lapse of pleasantness.  And if nothing else, I can now one day inform my child that "When you were a baby, I took care of you with ONE HAND TIED BEHIND MY BACK!" 


And I did.

I changed his clothes, fed him, put him down for his naps, and changed his diaper.  All single-handedly.  So here's to a small sense of pride.  (He wore a lot of zippered clothes for a few months.  Snaps were the devil.)

We put in a new fence in the back yard.

This might not seem like a great big deal, but it was important to me.

You see, I have an optimistic heart, but a fatalistic mind.  I hope for the best, most brightly and consistently, but typically prepare for the worst.  (Like the apocalypse.  I am CONSTANTLY preparing for that.  Or a fire. . .  Or a flood. . .  Or zombie hordes. . .  You name it, I've got a contingency plan in place for it.)  Anyway, as I have been through a slew of horrid and ultimately unsuccessful relationships in my life (think "flames and sulphur"), one of my greatest fears is that I will somehow lose my husband or my family.  So, to someone as prone to complete and utter panic as I am, the installation of a new fence in the back yard is NOT merely the "installation of a new fence in the back yard."  Rather, it is visual and concrete proof of plans for the future.

When you're as batshit as I can be at times, it's the little things that make ALL the difference.  (It's a blessing and a curse, really.)


Summer came, and Michael and I went to the Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores.  It was THE first time that we had left the baby, and I walked around all week long feeling like a part of me was missing.  But in truth, we had a FABULOUS time.  We ate hot wings at Bahama Bob's, we lazed on the beach, we giggled and talked, we enjoyed the company of friends we hadn't seen in far too long and even made some new ones, and we saw some truly kick-ass shows on the beach.

Flogging Molly.

Jack White.

Enough said.

(Seriously, I could write an entire post about either one of those shows, but ENOUGH SAID.)

We lost my Granny.

This one I can barely write about.  It's not the shock over losing her. . . she had a very long, and what I suspect was QUITE happy, life.  No. . . it's just the reality of her being gone.  It's the look on my mother's face when I say or do something that reminds her of The Gran.  It's missing the sweet way she always smelled, and remembering her deep and abiding disgust for Roseanne Barr.  ("She's just a foul-mouthed hog.") 

But there are certain slants of sunlight on really blue-sky days, and certain pots of absolutely perfectly brewed tea, that will always make me feel as if she's RIGHT THERE.  Just on the other side of a veil that I, for now, lack the ability to lift. 

But there nonetheless.

And we do what we must.  And that is drink tea, make coffee, change diapers, and go on.

We had Took's very first birthday party in our back yard.  =)  Water balloons, grilled food, cousins, aunts & uncles, grandparents galore, and lots and lots of punch.  It was hot as hell, and one of the best days of my life.  My baby was a year old. 

It was a day that seemed fictional.  That's all I really know to say about it.

Then came August, and there was. . . unpleasantness.

Mostly in my head.

I started having real issues with anxiety. 

I don't know why.  Honestly, I don't even CARE why.  But it happened.  I lost my shit, I fell of my horse, I dropped my marbles, I killed my furby.  I took some time to regroup.  And for a really long time, all that I was really certain of was that I had ruined my entire life.  That it was done.  All the happiness was over, because I had destroyed it.

But. . . time has a way of fading away and dying.  Bruises start to lose their color, and what you did on Tuesday turns into what you did last week, and that eventually turns into a photograph in your memory.  And what did I learn?  I learned that OH YEAH, I can be a complete nut-job.  I can come unglued, and I can completely panic.  But strangely enough, I'm comforted by it.  Because even at my worst (and believe me folks, that was IT) . . . my greatest fears were never realized.  I never became this truly evil, soulless person.  I got lost, but I don't think I lost Me, if that makes any sense at all. 

And I learned that even when my hair turns to snakes and my eyes shoot fire, this incredible soul that I am pledged to. . . stayed.  And he didn't stop loving me.  (And that shattered QUITE a few mirrors of fear, let me just tell you.)

So the overall feeling eventually just turned into one of overwhelming gratitude.

I started painting.

I've never really done this.  I've drawn occasionally.  I drew a few things with pastel chalks back in my college days, and maybe created a fairy here or there along the way, but I've never really painted.  And certainly never done it consistently.  So one day I just sat down and did it. 

And it was very relaxing.  A quite lovely and productive form of escapism.  (Let my brain off the leash for a while.  You know.)  So I painted something.  And the next day I painted something else.  And I just . . . kept doing it.

And some of it was crap, and some of it was actually okay.  I really LIKED doing it. 

And I kept doing it until one day I looked up and. . . I was out of paint.

I had used up all my tubes of watercolors.


So.  I asked for more for Christmas, and I got them.

And as for this year. . . who knows?  I'm no artist.  It doesn't come naturally to me.  It's hard, and it's frustrating, and I usually get really pissed off if something doesn't come out precisely the way I pictured it in my head.  But I love it.  And I have this beautiful stack of supplies sitting over there in the corner just waiting to play with me.  So maybe some Tuesday while the baby's asleep, I'll sit down, the stars will align, and I'll make something beautiful.  Here's hoping.  =)

I learned a lot about parenting.

This is not to say that I am anywhere CLOSE to actually knowing what I am doing.  Nope.  Still fairly clueless, and totally making it up as I go along.  But still. . .  I learned that babies love it when you're silly.  And thankfully, I can probably out-silly anyone on my block.  They also love it when you sing to them, and dance, and I just so happen to know every word to every song in every classic Disney cartoon ever made.  (Finally!  A use for that skill set!!)

I learned that scooping Took up off the floor, tickling his fat belly, and placing a flurry of kisses on his face feels like the most natural thing in the world to do.  And, just yesterday, I learned that because THAT comes naturally, responding to Pad in the same way now feels more natural, too.  Don't get me wrong---I've pretty much loved that kid since the day I met him, and I've been his "Dani" for as long as he can remember.  I've given baths, made grilled cheeses, gone to doctor visits, kissed boo-boos, administered time-outs, and read Star Wars bedtime stories.  But, for the VERY first time ever, yesterday as I was playing with Took on the couch, he came up and just. . . crawled up in my lap.

He has never done that before.

So I just sat there and tried not to cry and completely ruin the moment.

I learned that, since having the baby, I have become an open emotional wound that will cry at the drop of a hat.

This could not BE more true.

Granted, I have always felt perfectly okay crying if I was sad enough, but it NEVER used to happen this frequently.

I cried when Took got his first haircut.

I cried when my cousin's new baby started bawling because she was in pain.

I cry when I hear stories of hardship from other people.

I cry when I see that stupid Carter's commercial that says "When you hold my hand, I hold it right back."  Destroys me.  Every time.

And I cried two mornings ago when Took and Padawan ran to the computer to watch a music video with me, then BEGGED to see it four more times.  They were enchanted.  The music made them HAPPY.  And one of my greatest wishes had been fulfilled, and I just. . . cried.

So my hopes for this next year are high, even though I don't really see things in a "year to year" type way.  I see in more of days and weeks.  (Or hours and minutes, if I am being completely honest.)

I am learning to see the good in myself, which is hard, even though I can always quickly and surely spot it in others.

And one of the best things that I have found so far is this:

I am grateful.

For every breath my husband takes.  For every family member that walks this earth.  For every curl on my baby's head, and every meal that I eat.

I really am.

And if that means that, for the foreseeable future, I may cry like a baby every time something meaningful, spiritual, or truly important happens in my life, then I'll take it.

It hurts, and it's not always easy.  But I'll take it.

Because you can't cry if you're asleep.

To cry, to appreciate, to be truly and perfectly grateful. . . you have to be truly and perfectly awake.

Happy New Year, folks.

More importantly, Happy Today.

Peace and Love,

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