Balance (Or the Lack Thereof)

It’s too much. This has been an underlying theme of many of my posts this year, but it is lending to an unhealthy  obsession so I need (again) to articulate it in a way I can cut and paste, rearrange, and pick out the important from the whiny so I can figure out what is really at the root of my tenderness.

In a past life, I have been a baby sitter of everything from newborns to 12 year-olds unless you count my time as a camp counselor in which case we’ll say 15 year-olds. I have three nephews. I’ve spent days in kindergarten classrooms, church nurseries, and watched day campers at the YMCA. Each age brings with it a unique brand of weariness, from the physical damage of sharing and rotating pony rides for a solid hour to the mental depletion of answering philosophical questions in a manner inconsistent with the desires of the family. But the key; I always gave the kids back. There was always an end in sight. A few hours a night, a few days at the most. This too shall pass, and I could always pinpoint when.

I’m sure there will be so much more for me to learn and understand as I grow this tiny person, but for now it feels like under 1’s combine every type of physical, mental, and emotional burden for a gigantic wallop of real life adulthood. Hannah is exhausting, and she’s all mine. I can’t give her back.

It is almost impossible to do anything else when acting as the official guardian for Hannah. She changes the rules constantly and it’s hard to keep up. Sometimes you can put her on the floor and she’ll happily bang spoons around or stand leaning against the kitchen island or couch or wall. On those days, I can get a few dishes washed, a few bottles made, a sandwich roughed together before I have to stop her from sucking on the chair leg, get her unstuck from the bars of the baby gate, or comfort her from her own lack of balance and the jolt from her 26 inch drop to the floor (her current height). On some days, she cannot abide to be on the floor by herself and so the choice becomes sitting on the floor with her or listening to her shriek. Sometimes sitting on the floor doesn’t stop the shrieking and the only thing that will work is loading her into car seat and taking a drive or loading her into the baby carrier and taking a walk. Sometimes nothing works.

We’ve made our initial attempt at baby proofing the house, but there are still an average of 10 things a day that Hannah finds that we didn’t. Like the toilet paper holder in the bathroom , or the bug that happened to die and land on the kitchen floor, or the piece of shredded cheese that was literally dropped 2 seconds ago OMG child how did you get so fast???? (Bella’s spirit lives on.) We have a room blocked off just for her where we can close her in and feel fairly confident that she will not be in mortal danger, but she promptly decided she hates it in there because she can’t figure out how to put herself into mortal danger (I’m convinced that’s the reason). She likes the scenery to change every so often but its a game of roulette to find a room or activity that will stop the crying. So do you let her play on the brick fireplace because she loves waving to herself in the brass fittings? Let her shove plant leaves in her mouth because they’re small enough she won’t choke and your relatively certain they’re non-toxic? How far is too far for a few minutes of peace and quiet?

I completely understand when I get home from work and the house looks like a bomb exploded inside. I love my husband dearly, but general home maintenance has never been his strong suit. Nor have mornings, and when his day starts at 7:00 or 7:30 I consider it a small wonder if Hannah has clothes on by the time I get home. But the house does need to be maintained. We need dishes washed and laundry folded and clutter managed and this is where we are rutting and butting heads lately.

I think I’ve made it pretty clear here that work is no picnic at the moment. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback lately, so I feel like this area of my life has maybe been going better than I may have assessed, but that doesn’t change the total drag of mental energy and climbing stress levels and the constant feeling of being out of control. Then there’s the drive home where the primary things on my mind are how late I stayed at work, how badly Hannah is probably crying, how I must have missed something and have made Shelby late for the theatre. So when I walk in to the demilitarized zone of a living room and the hazardous waste area of the kitchen and the tower of tumbling diapers and whatever fresh hell Hannah ripped into the universe that day, I’d kinda like a minute to change my clothes before I tag in.

I don’t get an hour of just me time. I don’t get a weekend to sleep in. I don’t even get a break during nap-time yet Shelby is able to take full advantage of my being home for several nap-times of his own. And when am I supposed to pay the bills? Or deal with the stupid townhouse that still doesn’t have a renter or a buyer? And answer all the texts from friends and family about our calendars while trying to keep Hannah from sucking on power cords or breaking the door off the X-box that Shelby is playing? Some of this is admittedly self inflicted. A little martyrdom for a chance at a big cash-in on Mother’s Day or my birthday or the random Tuesday I totally flip out and do whatever I want. I let Shelby go to shows and drinks after, but mostly because I feel guilty about being away from her so much, or more accurately, sticking him with her so much. I let him sleep until noon on Saturday so I dont have to deal with two grumps.

And that’s the crux of it really, I am having a really difficult time balancing my “needs” with the needs of my family. Do I really neeeeeeeeeed a shower and an extra hour in bed? Probably not. Will it go a long way to making the rest of my day more enjoyable? Yes. Is it worth asking for? I am unable to come to a definitive answer. We’re talking about it. I think we’re doing a pretty good job of being respectful of each other. I don’t think I was as transparent with him as I was on the blogosphere. I have set some expectations and he has voiced his struggles. 7 months after she broke into the world kicking and screaming, she is still rocking us to the core in every way imaginable. It’s a good thing she’s cute.

Sunshine

Jackson

Friends for over 20 years. Housemates for much of their adult lives. How does one handle such a grievous loss? Losing a piece of history, a link? Losing a confidant? Losing the beauty and turmoil of a mind constantly in motion. The one he turned to in times of creative need.

The way he tells it, I owe my life as it is to this man. We wouldn’t have met if Jackson hadn’t encouraged a relocation, hadn’t offered a desperate Shelby the chance to start again. He supported creativity in my husband. We have his paintings on the walls. He had just promised us a painting for Hannah; a more personal gift than the books he gave her at our baby shower.

And then he died.

I don’t know how to do this. It’s different. When someone dies, I can be strong, I can take care of the logistics and give the space needed for grief to pass through those around me. But he died in our house. The house my husband has to live in. All day, every day. And Shelby found him. He feels everything. I can’t even imagine.

I keep trying to make a comparison, to gain even an inkling of what he might be feeling. I think, what if I found my sister or brother? Because that’s what he was to Shelby, as close or closer than any of his brothers. What panic would I feel? What demons would gnaw at me for having gone to bed before them? What added pain would haunt my loss at having to see their lifeless body somewhere other than a funeral home; somewhere so familiar? He found him dead on our own bathroom floor. Nothing comes to me. I can’t match it, I can’t imagine it, I can’t feel it.

I feel separated. I feel like the man I am sworn to stand beside is falling and I can’t catch him. I’m walking a tightrope of respect and courtesy but watching him disappear farther below me. I don’t know when to push, when to give room. I didn’t have the same connection so I don’t know how far is normal. I don’t know if I’m doing this right.

I don’t fear for Hannah. He can put on a face for her. We bathed her last night and he smiled and played with her. But he’s alone today, no friends to lean on, and he can’t fake it when she cries. He knows I’m just a text or call away. At least I think he knows. He knows. I wish I was closer. I wish he didn’t have to be alone. I wish I knew what was hurting him most. I wish I could help him.

RIP Jackson Hall…Jason…Mule. You are sorely missed.

 

And There Goes My Back

It took a while, but I think this pregnancy is finally catching up with me. Let’s just say, though I am not ready for the labor, the medical bills, or the baby herself, I am totally ready to be done with being pregnant.

We’ve got about a month left, but I absolutely cannot think of it that way. A month seems like a lifetime of waddling and crankiness and uncomfortable seated positions and even more uncomfortable sleeping positions. And stairs, so many stairs. But a month is sooooooooooooo not enough time for packing and loan documentation gathering and replacing carpet and signing contracts and loading and cleaning and moving and cleaning again and unloading and unpacking and shopping and SANITY.

So, today is Monday. I can get through Monday. I have a few to do items and a few more honey do items and then it will be Tuesday. On Tuesday I will deal with Tuesday.

But in the meantime, it was Friday and Saturday. The days I overdid it. The days the niggling pain in between my shoulder blades stopped fading and started to worsen. The days my ribs died.

Shelby took a chance. His first contract negotiation as the new Executive Director of our local community theatre has been haunting him since it was signed 3 months ago. A friend and Artistic Director of an established theatre company (LGP) was helping a friend launch her first production with her newly formed theatre company (Black Ops) and they needed a space to perform. Being a new company, the financial aspects of securing a space became difficult. Shelby was tasked by the board with filling this slot, and so he was very flexible with his contract negotiation. Instead of a set rent amount, he negotiated a box office split, a split that lent in favor of the renters rather than the theatre. Basically, every performance would have to sell out in order to break even with what he could have made.

No one really expected the production to be a rousing success. It had an established name supporting it, and blast broadcasts fired from three directions, but new companies tend to take time establishing an audience base. Patrons generally don’t take risks. This show in particular was advertised as containing “unidentifiable weirdness”, not always the most marketable quality. Shoobs was prepared to lose money, but hoped to gain a powerful relationship that would benefit him and the theatre over time. But with the exception of two performances, the show sold out.

Let me say that again.

The Show Sold Out!

Friday and Saturday, the days I volunteered, the house was way oversold. The audience was arranged to accommodate 56 patrons. We got in about 75 (there were no Equity or SAG contracted performers, so this was totally OK). We started a waiting list, added chairs, put gym mats down on the floor, generally ran around like headless chickens trying to get everyone in…Now unfortunately, with the amount of comp tickets and student pricing and the vast undersale of those two performances that did not sell out, the estimation was still an overall financial loss as compared to straight rent. But that loss would amount to about $40. And throughout the unexpected success, spirits were raised and the “high” of packed houses and responsive reviews flowed through the veins of the cast, crew, and staff. An alliance was formed. Ideas were generated. Black Ops will be the resident theatre company for the 2015-2016 season. Without provocation, LGP devised a rent party for the theatre that will be happening next month, complete with donated refreshments, professional lighting and video designs.

Powerful partnership? Mission accomplished. Sore ribs be damned.

2014 Can Go to H E Double Hockey Sticks

Please tell me this year is almost over. I don’t think I can handle much more of this BS.

In the middle of designing a show, the computer died. Like, dead. Not turning on kind of dead. Mac Store Genius Bar please save us kind of dead. The show opens Friday, it would be kinda nice if they had sound to go along with it. Especially since it is income we have already budgeted for.

It started as a few gray bars across the screen. Then a few times the computer would crash and need to be restarted, but it would always restart. Until…

Luckily, we learned from a previous mistake and backed up the cues onto a USB drive. Unluckily, that apparently means absolutely nothing if the sounds that the cues are pulled from are not on the recipients computer. Which is easily fixable by drop-boxing the cue list to another computer. That somehow takes all the sounds over with it. (I clearly have very limited technical understanding of cyberspace.) Which we could easily do if the freakin computer would just turn on one more time!

So, as a stand-by, we have a friends computer to use to hopefully salvage some of the design or build from new in about a day. We have another appointment with the Genius Bar in the hopes that they can get the thing on at least once. And then we have a new external hard-drive (cuz oh yeah, did I mention, the old one decided to stop working for no reason) to back-up the whole computer so the GB can dig further to see if the computer is fixable with a new part, or if a new computer is required. They are reluctant to do that now because it will mean an automatic wipe of the computer, and if it is not backed up, their opinion is that we would be better served just buying a new one.

I mean seriously. I’ve had the TV for over 3 years now, so I’m expecting that to be next month’s pain in my butt. But it could be the water heater again, cuz my hot shower lasts for about 2 minutes before it gets lukewarm, a consistent problem since before the explosion. Perchance we will just convert to Amish and eliminate all modern conveniences from our lives before they get the pleasure of doing it themselves.

Shaky fist at sky!

Stage Manager

Bless his poor little anxious heart, I roped the Huz into theatre and he took the bait, hook line and sinker.

Some of us are built for management. Shoobs is definitely one of those people. He has remarkable instincts, sees the broader picture, and has the creativity to get to an end goal even when obstacles line the path. He has a calming nature, a sense of “don’t worry, I’ll take care of it”. He exhibits this in work, theatre, and party planning (among other things). What he lacks is confidence. He would admit this whole heartedly I am sure. He also lacks the willingness to turn in anything half-assed (when it comes to things he will be held accountable for).

And so he has fallen victim to the love/hate relationship that is theatre.

It is a job. It almost requires full-time dedication, and depending on the cast and complexity of the show, may require more than full-time dedication. And with a full-time job that actually pays, it can be hard to balance. I think he is losing interest, and it makes me a little sad.

This started as a last-minute “dresser” position. Our friends were putting on a production that required many quick changes and they simply couldn’t do it on their ow. While we were out of town for a friend’s wedding, I got a text message asking if we would be willing and available to help out. Shoobs jumped at the chance, entranced by the world of theatre and the coolness of the people in it. This dresser position turned into more of an ASM role which he gobbled up with vigour. He would be given instruction and with a hearty “Yes ma’am!” would run backstage and ask me what the heck that meant. He never gave the impression he didn’t know what was happening, and was always there with a smile and a calming attitude.

So he got asked to do something else. Which he did with equal excitement and anticipation. Which led to something else, and something else, and something else. I think he took a long enough break for us to get married, but has pretty much been all theatre all the time. He is currently stage managing a show for Little Green Pig, and will take a short break for us to go on our honeymoon before he starts another show for Ghost & Spice. And so far I think that’s all he’s committed to. And then he might be done.

Theatre has lost its shine. He delved into the dredges where people are bitter, lazy, irresponsible, and will only stretch their creativity in so far as coming up with excuses. He has worked on shows that don’t sell which is as demoralizing as theatre can get. Especially when you have poured hours into an exhausting affair that most people were only half on board with in the first place. Now you don’t even have the ticket sales to validate your self-torture. But he has also worked on shows where professionalism is key, and folks are genuinely excited about the project they are taking on, and everyone loves him and his creativity. But sadly, those experience aren’t with “our” company and so he has to receive the bitter remarks and underhanded comments regarding commitment and dedication to a (failing, apathetic, disjointed, creatively stagnant) theatre company. 

So what do you do? Hurt your friends feelings by leaving and joining a more positive team? Destroy personal relationships for what may turn out to be an equally dismal affair? Or stick it out, try to fix what’s broken?