Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Art of Being Special, or Sorry We Don't Have a Section Called OTHER COUNTRIES

So if you read my last post, you’ll know that Thursday was a bad day for me and I, needless to say, was feeling a bit fragile/feisty about it at work on Friday. I was just hoping no customers would yell at me about a low offer for their moldy books, none of my co-workers would get under my skin, and that a customer wouldn’t come in a week after they put something on hold and not understand why in the world we’d say we’d hold something for them and then put it back, even though we don’t hold things for a week.

I could just imagine my lower lip trembling or my last nerve combusting and Nora going into Norse Rage Mode, on account of my Viking ancestry.

Less than thirty minutes before the end of my shift, that special customer walks in the door. Tiffany is at the register and I am standing nearby putting clearance stickers on some of my books.

Special Customer:
Where do you keep books about going to other countries?
Tiffany: Those are in the travel section.
Special Customer: No, not travel books. Just, like, information about other countries.
Tiffany: What kind of information?
Special Customer: You know, like going there, or just, other countries in general.
Tiffany: Nora?
Special Customer: I just want to know about other countries, like going there.
Tiffany: But not travel.
-Tiffany and I ponder for a moment, trying to determine where to send the Special Customer, since she’s so sure she wants to go to other countries, not travel there.-
Special Customer: Oh, come on now, it can’t be that hard to figure out.
-A nerve combusts. Luckily I happened to have one and a half available.-
Nora: Ma’am, if you’re looking for information about other countries, it’ll be categorized into something specific, like travel, photography, art, history, culture-
Special Customer: -exasperated- Well what about retiring to other countries? Where’s your retirement section?
Nora: We have a shelf for retirement in the business aisle but those books will deal with the financial aspect of retiring.
Special Customer: -tsks and sighs- Never mind. Where’s your travel section? I guess I just have to look at travel books.

Friday, January 11, 2008

when you leave, you leave nothing but broken hearts

Yesterday was the kind of day that made me want to get in the car, roll down the windows, drive to the beach and sit in the cold sand with the golden winter sun settling lower in the sky, listening to the sober voice of the water crashing rhythmically, telling me it's ok.

But I would have to get Liam all dressed up to go outdoors and pack up food and diapers and the closest oceanfront is a three or four hour drive (I don't have any gas money and I'm almost on E anyway) and I hear the beach is not that nice there anyway. Plus, cold? Apparently Texas forgot what that word means. In January. Oh Texas.

Liam hasn't been sleeping well, which means I haven't been sleeping well. Wednesday night was the worst. I didn't sleep for more than an hour at a stretch. In the morning it was over four hours before he even napped, so with that on top if his poor quality and quantity of sleep the night before, he was extra cranky. Which made me extra cranky.

I don't know where my patience was yesterday. I was told once that I have the patience of God, and that person meant it. I just could not handle my emotions. Or Liam's. My heart was racing, my shoulders were hunched, my teeth were clenched, I was drained.

Liam and I were supposed to go with my friend Mary to shop for her wedding dress but I had to call her and cancel due to his (and my) rather sour disposition. I ended up crying on the phone with her because I was feeling just so exhausted and stressed and terrible. As usual she told me to take a few breaths and try to get some rest and was the voice of reason in my otherwise upside-down day.

I know four hours doesn't seem like a long time- but is when your baby usually doesn't stay awake for more than two hours and at time, and when you didn't even get that much consecutive sleep that night and when your baby, who is usually all smiles and giggles and cuddles and play, finds something wrong with EVERYTHING... diaper changes, being held, not being held, walking around, not walking around, looking at him, not looking at him, EVERYTHING, and lets you know, quite loudly, about it.

It is a long time when your milk has dried up very recently and that feels like I have taken something away from my beautiful boy that I wanted to give him until he was at least a year old. I can tell he misses it because he keeps turning his perfect little face toward my chest when he needs me.

It is a long time when you've been struggling with depression since you were like twelve, and now you have post-partum depression and someone tiny to take care of, and your husband is also struggling with feeling constantly down, and you both hate living where you live and you're constantly broke and you are so down that you can't even clean your own damn house so your mother-in-law does it while you're at work, and your epidural gave you nerve damage and your back's always hurting and numbing and itching, and you just want to sleep, and you still can't believe your milk dried up and you're afraid of the cost of formula and you just want to hold your baby but he just keeps screaming at you, and you keep sobbing and he keeps peeing on himself EVERY TIME YOU CHANGE HIS DIAPER and you feel like you are the worst mom there ever was....

Four hours is a long time.

Finally it was lunch time. I made a bottle for Liam with six ounces of formula in it. I sat on the couch with him and I prayed out loud for strength and patience and peace of mind and for Liam to understand and feel calm and forgive me for not being the mom I think I should be all the time. I looked down at him and he was reaching into the air next to his bottle, moving his fingers like when he holds my hand, and I smiled. I said, "Is there an angel here to help you nap?" and he just kept drinking, his eyelids growing heavy, his arms becoming limp, his body giving into mine and sinking into me. When his bottle was done, he screamed when I took it from his lips, even though I thought he was drowsy enough not to care if I popped his Nuk in. I just had to stand up with him and bounce and rock him a bit and kiss his forehead and he was fast and peacefully asleep, at long last.

Liam napped for three hours, longer than any nap he's had since he was very new. We laid on the couch together and I was able to sleep, on and off, for the final two hours. While I dozed I dreamed of home and the ocean and a big black whale that was swimming near the shore.

When Liam woke up he just laid on his back for a while and talked to the ceiling and played with my fingers while I pretended to still be sleeping. When I sat up to smile and greet him he gave me a sweet, calm, well-rested smile. I kissed his cheeks and forehead and neck and hands and belly, and the rest of the day went better. After getting the rest he/we needed, he/we were in much better moods and better able to enjoy each other's company.

Gabe was late getting home from work because he had to get his oil changed on his way home and stop at Target. And, um, pick up some ice cream for me from Sonic. Until he got home, Liam and I sat on his blanket on the living room floor and just existed together. He was still pretty clingy, but not in a fussy way. He just didn't want to be far from me which is ok. I don't like being far from him either.

He gave me a kiss when I asked him for one. Three times, because I needed it. I knew that he forgave me. Maybe he doesn't understand why I can't always know what he needs, but he does forgive me. He's seven months old. He's a better person than many adults I know.

Today I don't feel great- still really down, I can feel my period coming on, I feel malnourished from hardly eating and really only having junk yesterday- but I am breathing a little easier. Gabe has taken Liam to bed with him and they are sleeping soundly together on the bed. I almost didn't make it through the workday without crying, just because, but I managed.

This was a really long post, I know. And not easy for me to write. But it's the truth. This is me sometimes. I hope I haven't scared all three of my readers off with my crazy-talk.

Just know you're not alone.


This is my Liam on a happier day earlier in the week:

Sunday, January 6, 2008


I want to move back to Maine so bad it hurrrrrrrrts, oouuuuuuucccchhhhhhh.

The apartments listed on Craigslist are like a drug. I cannot get enough. I check them whenever I can. More than once a day. Sometimes I keep clicking on the same listing over and over just to drool over the pictures of apartments we cannot afford.

There's one listed in Bath that's been up for a while. This makes me wonder two things: a. Is there something wrong with it that you can't see in the pictures? and b. Is it still vacant because it is meant for Gabe, Liam and me? I prefer option b.

It's $650 a month, 1-2 bedroom (one bedroom with double parlor or two bedroom if you close the pocket doors), has new windows and hardwood floors, off-street parking available, and is close to beaches, state parks, Brunswick and Topsham. Rent was recently reduced to $625.

$625 is what we paid for our two-room apartment on Congress Street in Portland from April 2003- November 2004. Our electric bill was like $15 a month. Praise the north.

It is also $35 less than what we pay every month for our shoebox of a 650 square foot apartment in an undesirable town.

The problem with this apartment is that utilities are not included. While I know the electric bill would be considerably and lovably less than our current $100+/month (screw the south, the heat, the necessary a/c ten months a year), we need heat included in our rent since we are not sure of our future job situations when we get to Maine.

The other problem is that it's available now and we won't be moving until April at the earliest. Dannnnng.

Another problem is that I am not familiar enough with the town of Bath to know what we can walk to, where we can shop, etc. and if this apartment is in a good area.

I wish I had the confidence of heart and voice to call up the property owner and say, "I am really interested in this apartment. I'd like you to include utilities in exchange for groundskeeping/ gardening/ painting and cleaning when other tenants move out, etc. Sounds good? Great. We'll be there in April."

If only.

Liam is seven months old today. Yay Liam!

Gabe's birthday is in fifteen days. I told him to write down a bunch of things he'd like and I'd see what I could afford. This is the birthday wish list he made for me, as per my request:

PlayStation 3
XBOX 360
XBOX 360 games
Assassin's Creed
Halo 3
Call of Duty 4
wireless headphones/mic for 360

Yeah, I married a video game nerd.

I already know what I am getting him and it is not on this list. Heh, heh, heh.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


It's 2008 now. Liam will be seven months old on Sunday and he's so close to crawling and knows he's so close, and he keeps trying so hard. Santa was really good to him last week. He got mounds of clothes and books and a couple toys. He enjoys it all. His hair is getting thicker and the other day, as I was looking at him as he looked up at me, I could see shadows of the future of his hair and it was adorable. He looks at me like he loves me.

It's 2008 now. I am hoping 2008 means our return to Maine. It's been cold(ish) here lately and it makes me ache for home. For the smell of snow, the quiet of snow, and the wet, triumphant return of spring. For my family and their really good hugs. For watching Liam at the ocean, in the country, in his Grandmere and Grandpop's arms, in the woods, in Portland. For that feeling Gabe and I used to have when we lived in Maine.

It's 2008 now. This Valentine's Day is our five year anniversary, five years of cuddling in bed, five years being sillier in front of each other than we can be in front of anyone else, five years of making each other laugh until it hurts, five years of bickering, five years of still thinking it's unbelievable, the way we met, and that it's worked. Despite the bickering. We're allowed that. And he, too, looks at me like he loves me. In August we'll have the second anniversary of our marriage.

It's 2008 now. Will this be the year I finally finish writing a novel? Find more motivation and success for my arts and crafts and design? Save some money? Stick up for myself more? Keep my house more clean and organized? Grow a garden? Win the lottery? Here's to 2008.

Here's to maybe updating this thing more. It's 2008.

xoxo Nora