Archive for October, 2011

Monday. And sleep.

October 24, 2011

So, my in-laws are coming back, Dec 8-Jan 4.


I’m actually pretty happy about it; daydreaming of sending them out with the kids some afternoon after naps, while I stay home and watch a movie on the laptop and knit for two hours…. and of course I’m working on a short list of stuff I want them to bring us that we can’t get here.

They’ll also be arriving while Gimli is away in Armenia for two weeks, so it will be great to have extra help with the kids.

I am so spoiled for help.

My mom is taking the US Citizenship exam this week, and should be sworn in as a naturalized citizen in early November, which opens the door for her to get a US passport and an EU visa, which means she can come visit us!!!! Should all go well, we’re planning on having her visit in January. Hopefully my dad can come too, although his poor health might mean the trip would be too much for him. We’ll see.

Our nanny is going to a conference this week so I’ll be full-time momming. It’s ok. The hours suck, but the perks are great.

I read through my blog just now thinking of the Creme de la Creme… I don’t know… I have a couple posts that got a lot of comments, but I feel kind of shitty about submitting something when I didn’t actually read through last year’s list at all. I actually read ONE entry – the last one, at the moment when I pulled the list up, and I became a regular follower of that one blog – but it seems like if you’re going to put something in you should at least try to read through as much of the list as you can. Don’t you think? So I don’t know if I have the right to submit something this year.



I had a little encounter this morning with a neighbor that made me feel like crying; right after Dhurata arrived, I ran across the street to buy some milk before running off to my language lesson. I ran into our neighbor in the dairy aisle. “Why does your son cry so much?” she demanded loudly. “He cries and cries! Don’t you go to him?” I struggled to respond; I felt so attacked. She went on – “have you checked? Is it his teeth? What is his problem? Why don’t you bring him into bed with you?” She said some other things I didn’t understand, and I tried to explain that I know, I know it’s a problem I don’t know what to do about it, I do give him medicine when he’s teething for the pain, I hold him and give him water…

I just felt awful.

I told my language teacher about it. She sort of sighed and said “Yes, people always have suggestions, as if you’d never thought of it before!” making her eyes wide. She seemed to think I should just ignore the woman.

Oz’s bedroom is adjacent to this neighbor’s apartment; given how noise resonates through the building I’m sure they can hear him every time he cries. We’ve been doing some CIO this week; it seemed like Oz was going through a phase where he wanted someone near him all the time, so Gimli would go and lie on a mattress on the floor next to his crib, but instead of decreasing, the number of times he was waking up at night increased to like every hour. We have done some co-sleeping in the past, whenever we travel, he sleeps in bed with me, usually waking 4-5 times a night and nursing a lot. It feels like no matter what we do, we just never get enough sleep. Right now Gimli has taken over all the night-time parenting, at least until around 5:30 a.m. when he turns it over to me so he can get a few more hours before he has to get up for work. I still am not getting enough sleep. I go to bed at 9, but usually don’t actually fall asleep until 9:30 or 10:00. It’s just not enough for me. I’m tired of being tired.

The past two weeks, there’s been construction going on on the 7th floor of the building; we’re on the 4th floor but it sounds like the hammering and drilling is directly above us. It’s been awful for Oz’s daytime naps. Awful. It always starts at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., precisely his nap times. A couple times I just put him in the Ergo and took him out for a walking nap. I also tried putting him down in Illyria’s room but he wouldn’t go down in his crib, only in my arms on the bed. It’s hard to find a solution that’s sustainable.

I do feel bad that the noise of his crying bothers the neighbors. And I take this kind of criticism waaaaay too personally. I shouldn’t let it get me down, but it does. So I’m not sure what to do. We have talked about moving him into our room permanently, at the other end of the apartment. At least there he wouldn’t bother anybody. We’ll see.


blogging myself out of a mental hole

October 20, 2011

I’m fretting about my dissertation. Spinning wheels in my head. Two weeks ago I sent my committee a thought blurb about some analytical directions I was thinking about, and haven’t heard anything back at all. What does it mean??? Did it suck so badly that they can think of nothing to say, except “um, this is dreck, please go back to square one and start over and then come back when you have something that’s actually worth our time to comment on” but they’re too kind-hearted and so are delaying giving me the bad news, just avoiding the ugly task of telling me I suck and don’t belong in a PhD program after all??? Or – that I’m obviously not capable of balancing motherhood and academia at the same time and I should just give up???

Or are they just really busy and haven’t had time?

Gimli says I have self-esteem issues (yeah yeah, but that doesn’t logically RULE OUT the possibility that my data and analysis are, actually, dreck). It’s kinda hard to get motivated to keep working when I’m not sure that the work is worth anything.

Isn’t this a fairly universal problem, though, for pretty much all writers? LAME. I just need to get ON it.

I’ve also committed to helping a friend do bulletin boards for the pre-school nursery/Sunday School at church, and making soup for a church/work acquaintance who just had a baby. I think I’ll make pumpkin and potato soup with sausage meat balls and parsley. Much more fun than transcribing these endless interviews… but also time away from work – unless! I do both projects with Illyria instead of on my work clock.

Okay, now that’s out of my system – back to the grindstone. Thanks for listening.


Sister update – I think my dad’s taking her loss really hard, since it happened while my sister and her family were staying at my parents’ house. I suggested they plant a tree in my parents’ back yard. It’s spring in Peru, so possibly a good time of year for that.


October 17, 2011

Thanks for your kind words on the last post.

It’s hard being so far away. Feeling so completely helpless, unable to do ANYthing. I called yesterday, but my sister was nursing the 2 year old and unable to come to the phone at the moment. The time zone difference sucks too. She wrote me an e-mail later and filled me in on the details. All her symptoms are gone. And that detail just seems to me the saddest of all.

I’m not sure why I checked my e-mail right before we left the house for a picnic lunch yesterday, but by the time we got back home again for naps I realized how hard I’d been clamping down and compartmentalizing. I felt brittle and snappish. It was a gorgeous fall day, the light long and low and golden at noon, new grass underfoot from the return of the rains after a very dry summer. It should have been a perfectly peaceful and lovely time in the park – and it was, it was – but only half of me could be there with my own little ones. Who seem all the more beautiful themselves, now.

It’s hard to accept that there’s nothing, nothing I can do to make the sad go away.


October 16, 2011

My sister is bleeding and thinks she lost the baby.


October 14, 2011

We found Pooh!

He was stuffed into Illyria’s dollhouse. So relieved. I’d told her last night when she asked for him at bedtime that I couldn’t find him anywhere, and that I thought we left him at the playground, and maybe another kid who doesn’t have as many toys as she does found him and took him home.

She seemed ok with it. When I asked her this morning if she misses Pooh she said “No!” And she didn’t seem upset. I was the one who couldn’t keep back a tear last night when I told her – so lame.

But I’m glad we found him. And she was really happy too.


I feel like I’ve sort of jumped into mental crisis mode with Rose’s situation. Like I have to sort out all these loose threads right this minute. Maybe I shouldn’t go to the doom-and-gloom place right now. Think positive. I guess in a larger sense I feel like since Illyria was born I’ve been very self-absorbed and haven’t given as much of myself to my friendships as I did before. Like I left a lot of people dangling. I’m not sure how to change that.


October 13, 2011

It’s the end of my workday; typically I head home by 3:30 so I can be there when Illyria wakes up from her nap. Otherwise she will lie in a dark room crying until I get there. But I don’t feel like going home today. I wasn’t sure what that was about, and then I figured it out.

We lost Pooh. Illyria’s grandma brought her two plush dolls, a Pooh and a Tigger, and they have been her constant companions for the past six weeks. This morning she threw the old “classic” Pooh out of Oscar’s crib and demanded the other Pooh, and suddenly with a sinking heart I realized I haven’t seen Pooh in… a while. She’d asked for him at bedtime on Tuesday night, and I was so tired I’d said “we’ll find him in the morning,” but when morning came I’d forgotten all about him. We’d had an exciting day, Wednesday, visiting Gimli in his office and going out for lunch together, so she hadn’t missed Pooh again until today.

And I realized the last time I saw Pooh was at the park on Tuesday. TUESDAY.

There is no way he’d still be there, but I went to look just in case. I even saw several moms and nannies again who had been there on Tuesday, and they all said they hadn’t seen him either.

So he’s gone.

I bought another, much inferior Pooh this morning but I don’t know if I’ll give him to her or not. Do I try to pretend it’s the same Pooh, and he never went missing? Or do I acknowledge that we lost Pooh, and this is a new one and it’s different, but it’s the best we can do? Or do I just see if Grammy can buy a new one in the States and mail it to us? I feel wretched. I suspect that Pooh got left out of sight in a little tunnel by the slide, but that’s still no excuse. I’m the mom and I should have remembered Pooh.

I’m dreading facing the moment when she realizes that we lost Pooh, and that’s why I don’t want to go home today.


October 13, 2011

I learned from a church e-mail that she had her thyroid removed recently; I didn’t know until another friend told that it was cancer. And that there might be more.

Rose’s daughter Violet is what, 10? 11? and has never met her father, although he’s been sending checks more-or-less monthly since she was born.

It’s hard to know what to do from so far away. I imagine she is scared out of her mind, probably more for Violet than for herself.

And then there’s this silly thing I’ve been sitting on, meaning to talk with her about it when we get home, now wondering if maybe I shouldn’t wait – several years ago, when Rose was dating a guy I’ll call Ron, whom Violet adored and asked repeatedly to be her daddy, I ran into him out with another woman (also, oh rock and a hard place, a good ¬†friend of mine!) one afternoon – and I never told Rose about it.

She found out eventually, from someone else, shortly after Ron stopped returning her phone calls. He ended up knocking up and then marrying the other woman (Diana); their daughter is about 6 months younger than Illyria. We continued to socialize with them as well as with Rose and Violet, just not at the same time. When Illyria turned two, I debated whom to invite to her party, and ended up choosing Ron and Diana mostly because their daughter is closer in age to Illyria than Violet is.

And…. I feel horribly guilty, still, about never telling Rose that I knew about Ron and Diana, and about not inviting her and Violet to Illyria’s birthday party. It seems like silly stuff, but it also seems important.

So, is it worth bringing up now? Because really, at this point it’s more about ME seeking absolution, forgiveness, and relief from the guilty feelings, than about what Rose might be needing right now.


Right now

October 10, 2011

I feel the shift of the earth in its orbit: the seasons have changed, and the first bite of winter came this weekend. It feels like one day we were sweating and hiding from the sun, and the next day shivering and seeking it out. This weekend I raised the awning over our balcony to let in more light, and dressed Oscar in his winter pajamas.

The turning of the seasons makes me contemplative all the more because it marks our first year in Albania. We moved here at Solstice last year, and we’ve now gone a full turn around the sun in this place. The coming of the cold usually makes me a little sad, but there’s a funny gladness in me this year as the angle of the light and the smell of roasting chestnuts evokes the memories of last year. It feels like we have come so far as a family in one year, in so many good ways – Illyria talking and engaging in pretend play, learning to use the potty, overcoming so much of her anxiety and fears from the first few months. And Oscar – wow. Transformed from an infant into a toddler. All those milestones – rolling over, sitting up, teething, eating solids, standing, walking – if only he would SLEEEEEEP! Ah well.

I find that the same things that bothered me a year ago about Albania still bother me – the litter, the second-hand smoke – and the same things I enjoyed a year ago are still my favorite things about living here – the kindness and generosity of the people, learning the language, the plentiful fresh produce (which I’m told is de facto mostly organic, not so much from an ideological motive but more just because farmers can’t afford a lot of agrochemicals).

As we took another interminable bus ride through southern Albania last week (accompanying my husband on yet another work trip) I was struck with a feeling I have not felt since 1998 – a feeling of rightness, a feeling that this is where we are supposed to be right now. I don’t think I could give a reason or explanation; I just know, somehow. Over the past decade Gimli and I have made a lot of big life-decisions – changing jobs, buying a house, going back to school, trying for and then having kids – and in each case those decisions felt more or less arbitrary; there wasn’t a right or wrong choice (which in its own way was a big agonizing), just a choice. The decisions we made never felt like part of a master plan, just stuff we decided to do, for better or for worse. This feels… just a little bit different. At the time we decided to move here, it really did feel like just another thing we decided to do, because what the heck, why not. But now, for whatever reason, it just feels right.

And that’s a good feeling.

It could just be where I am in my cycle, or some function of neurophysiology, or a natural result of having acclimated enough to feel at home here, but it feels good.


Recently people here have begun asking me if we’re going to be staying on after next year. The first time someone asked me this I was completely taken aback; the thought that we might stay beyond two years had literally never occurred to me. But when I mentioned it to Gimli, in a sort of “what a weird question someone asked me today!” he just sort of nodded and said “Yeah, I’ve sort of decided not to think about that until January or February,” and that surprised me even more than the original question – that he’d even thought about it as well.

I still can’t quite envision it. Just because this feels like where we’re supposed to be right now doesn’t mean we’re, like, married to Albania. We’d have to really think about the implications for our careers, our kids, our relationships. So I don’t know. I like to have a plan and then stick to that plan. Gimli likes to wing it. In our years together, I’ve come to learn that sometimes “we’ll decide at the last minute what we’re going to do” can actually work as a plan… but I don’t think this is one of those times. So we’ll see.