Tuesday, March 30, 2010


She's back, y'all!

Have I really only posted twice since Christmas? How big an asshole am I? I'm sorry. I haven't had time to read anybody's blogs, either, so if you dropped some huge bombshell on your followers in the last couple of months and you're wondering why I haven't chimed in, I haven't seen it. It's not that I don't care; I only work a couple of days a week, but those days mean less time I have to run errands and whatever, and I rarely if ever blog in the evenings, so it cuts into my blogging time more than I expected.

Speaking of work, I've had a job for five months now! SQUISH is such an ideal fit for me. It's the job of my dreams - a great combination of routine elements and endless potential for spontaneous creativity. My unique range of talents is appreciated. I've never had a job I liked so much.

So here's what you've missed, in no particular order.

1. Check out what R made for me for Valentine's Day:

It's my very own Penny necklace!
So creative! I love it.

2. My birthday was January 13th. I'm 39 now. I'm going to go ahead and call myself 40, and then when I actually turn 40, I'll have mentally prepared myself for a whole year and it'll be no big deal. I don't really fear turning 40. I don't really have any concept of how old I am, until I turn on the Kids' Choice Awards and don't recognize any of the presenters (except Los Hermanos Jonas, por supuesto!). I don't feel any age. I definitely don't feel like I look 39.

I'm really more freaked out about Beeb turning 13 this summer than I am about turning 40. More on that in a future post.

3. During a bit of downtime, I finally watched Grey Gardens. I'd been wanting to see it for a while. It had been recommended to me by several friends, and who doesn't love spying on crazy rich people? Last week R and I bought a Netflix-enabled BluRay player for our bedroom, so I would be able watch it instantly.

Anyway, I grabbed a Diet Coke and some pretzel sticks, got under Beeb's Snuggie and pressed Play. See, you can do that with a Snuggie, cuz it has sleeves. I hate myself for loving that stupid thing. But I digress.

I enjoyed Grey Gardens. Really, I did. I love the Direct Cinema genre. It's so real and raw and the people speak freely and unfiltered, from the overflow of their hearts. I love wondering what's going on in the characters' heads; or, at least, I love hearing the subtext of their words and trying to imagine the layers of emotions and the complex personal history behind them.

But it messed me up. Here's why.

I manage it (with varying degress of success) day-to-day, but I live in, quite literally, a CONSTANT state of anxiety when it comes to my children. Their health, safety and well-being are always at the front of my mind. I question almost every single thing I do in the role of my children's mother. I question what I'm going to do in a certain situation before it even happens, I question it in the moment, and I question it long afterwards, imagining my child tearfully recounting the story of whatever stupid thing I did on some psychiatrist's couch.

As I saw Little Edie's wistful reminiscence of the life she believes she could have had, had her overbearing mother not insisted she leave New York City, followed by her sorrowful acceptance of the way things are and the unlikelihood that it will ever change, I thought about how awful I would feel if one of my children missed out on their life's dream because of me. I would never forgive myself if my child didn't become whatever it is s/he wanted to become because of me and my own selfishness. NEVER.

It made me replay in my mind all the hurtful things I've ever said to my kids (Beebie, in particular) in a moment of stress, frustration or anger. It also made me replay all the hurtful things - many of which probably weren't meant to be hurtful things - said to me that I've internalized; filed away and absorbed, but never forgotten. It made me wonder which of those things said to me had a hand in changing my life's trajectory. Would I be a different person if I hadn't been picked on mercilessly in junior high? Even if someone didn't meant to be hurtful (and even if they apologized afterwards), many times the hurt leaves scars that never quite fade all the way.

It made me hyperconscious of the potential to change my children's lives with the things I do and say, and it totally freaked me out. It made me question my parental aptitude.

I've apologized for things that I've said, and I try really hard to be careful in selecting the words and actions I use in response to the childish things they do, but I have this constant sense that everything I do, every syllable I utter, every day, is going to factor into their future and determine whether they become productive members of society or the sort of people who walk into an office and just start firing away, and then, when interviewed by the media, answer, "I just got sick of my mom constantly asking me if I was born in a barn. NO, MOM. I WASN'T."

(You know that phrase, were ya born in a barn? It means, Will ya quit leaving the front door open, for cryin out loud? Do other people say that, or just me?)

I'm trying to remind myself, in moments of doubt, that there are a lot of things I should pat myself on the back about, too, but that's a topic for another post. I will sing my own praises soon. I'm actually doing pretty well, now. Expanding my social circle to include a happy lot of positive influences is helping.

4. Speaking of influences, I have recently purchased and begun reading my very first Fantasy Genre novel. Go ahead and give me shit. I can't believe it either. It's A Game Of Thrones, written by George R. R. Martin and recommended to me by a lovely new friend we're going to call Wes. We'll be talking more about Wes.

My tiptoe-ing into full-on Geekdom has been well-documented on this blog, from my first Pirate Fest, to my first Ren Faire, and of course, the now-legendary Star Wars Trivia Night. My resistance to this conversion from "muggle who mocks the geeks" to "geek who mocks the bigger geeks" has also been well-documented.

The fact that I just used the word Muggle to mean "outsider" is further evidence of my descent into worlds I never dreamed I'd enter. Sigh... the things I do for the people I like.

To wit, I've never read a book with a fake map of some non-existent place on the first two pages. Fantasy's not really my thing. I like reality. I love reality shows, as you know (Ooooh, have you seen my new favorite show, Undercover Boss??). I read a lot of autobiographies, when I have time to read.

I read Kathy Griffin's book Official Book Club Selection, which was mighty entertaining, and if you should ever doubt your parenting skills, I highly recommend Mackenzie Phillips' High On Arrival. You'll feel like Parent of the Year, I promise you. It brought me out of my Grey Gardens funk, that's for damn sure.

That's plenty for you all to gnaw on while I construct my annual Spring Break post! Again, we drove the Odyssexy to San Antonio and stayed with my parents for a week. And, as most Karma Family Events are, the highlights are blogworthy. Stay tuned.


Skye said...

Glad you're back!

Apparently we have two things in common: an affinity for reality shows and autobiographies (ie. non-fiction); and perpetual worry that anything we say or do, or any decision we make, may cause our children to end up on a therapist's couch years from now, wailing about how we ruined their lives.


elspeth said...

I just turned 41 and I wish I could say I didn't feel it (and I've got 3 kids too). 40 is a really hard one. I'm sure you'll survive, though.

Were you talking about the first Grey Gardens or the Drew Barrymore one? I saw a bit of the Drew one, and it was really depressing. I did really enjoy Kathy Griffin's book (can't get that story about her brother - how sad!) and have MacKenzie Phillips one right here. You might look for the Loni Anderson autobiography - I really liked that one, or Fran Drescher's Cancer Schmancer. Both good autobiographies.

Can't wait to hear more about your trip!

Rachel said...

You're voluntarily reading fantasy sci-fi? Dude, it might be too late for you. Tell me, do you wear a 3-wolves shirt unironically?

Anonymous said...

Life begins at forty! Ask any forty-plus person. So glad you are back. You are an awesome parent. Alida South Africa

Penny Karma said...

What's a three wolves shirt?

buttercup said...

I love the "Song of Ice and Fire" series. Just don't get too into the series, George RR hasn't put out the 5th book in years and the fans are restless. But well worth the read.

Putting on my geek hat and membership button.

Discoknits said...

I turned 40 on Jan 2nd. Don't sweat it!

The fact that you are thinking about the kid stuff makes you a better parent than most. Read Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" to find out what else goes to make people 'successful'. Actually, read all his books - very interesting.

Congrats on loving your job - that's pretty big :0)

Batty said...

So glad SQUISH is working out for you! I can't imagine you in a job that doesn't have a creative aspect to it.
Lovely necklace, I understand all about being a worrywart about loved ones (not sure I'll be able to raise kids without resorting to medication).

I started Game of Thrones and didn't make it through, but Mr. Batty really liked it. I guess I'll try again.

Good to have you back!

Kev said...

Oh Penny...

You are well on your way to being the big geek that looks down on lesser geeks...

On another semi-related note, it was nice to see Penny McBadass make a triumphant return this week.

without significance said...

i'll admit, the first book starts a little slow, but just a little. it takes off quickly and then it never slows back down. i can't wait to have nerdgasms with you discussing the series!