The Doldrums

Winter strikes again and I am wondering what to do with myself and why I haven’ moved to Puerto Rico.

I got sucked into a fun and quick paced four season British show on Netflix, which I recommend- The Last Tango in Halifax.

I fell back in love with David Sedaris. I had read a review that said he was an ass and so I retreated from his stories for a while but I guiltily fell back into them on a long road trip audio book. Then a friend told me how he isn’t an ass. He is wonderful and she told me this lovely story about how he condemned a Buckhead Betty who had been in his signing line after a show. This hoity woman had too many books to carry and she whined loudly for over two hours while waiting in said line. “Ohhh this is ridiculous. I’m buying all these books and now I have to wait forever for David to talk to each and every person. Soooo unfair and a waste of my precious time.” My friend was in front of Buckhead Betty who was desperately trying to put a damper on the preholiday fun for the rest of Sedaris fans. When Lee- my friend, got to her turn For Sedaris to sign her old paperback of his that she had under the seat of her car for emergencies, she sheepishly showed David that she had not bough his new book but wanted her old one autographed. Miss Grumpy Pants complained loudly one time too many. “Excuse me Lee, One second, please.” Sedaris tuned to Her- “You have ruined this experience for many people and that is uncalled for and will not be tolerated. Leave my line, immediately.” “Uh. Uh!” She said in staccato shocked intolerance. “I have bought all these books!” Sedaris replied, “Return the books. I don’t want some one like you reading my books at all.” He turned back To Lee and became lovingly obsessed in her fully embellished charm bracelet. He drew the Hoover Damn charm next to his signature, after she told him that the charm reminded her of how she needed to pee when she was on the Damn tour but no restrooms were available. The metaphor was not lost on Sedaris.

Sedaris’ essay entitled Sorry published in the book Calypso was delightfully entertaining. He writes with his feigned evil about his twelve year old niece playing the board game Sorry like Satan. The essay about his compulsivity with his step counting watch was both hysterical and representative of the strange times we live in. I loved his diary, too, Theft By Finding. The first half was harder to get through because I feel so deeply when I read and the empathy in me rose to intolerable levels. The poverty, drug use, discrimination and abuse he experienced and wrote about was painful. I couldn’t wait to see when he met Hugh and his travels and moves to France.

I do not recommend the reality tv show Married at First sight. But if you get trapped in Season 9, please call me. I was traumatized by the tall guy who fooled the sweet teacher girl and then was a cheater from Day 2 on. I am obviously not fit for dating or society because I cannot spot a cheater even with my wealth of experience. It was tragic. This guy when caught wouldn’t lay bear his reasoning or his stupidity. He did not appear sorry in the least.

I chose to regroup in February. Apparently, I wasn’t ready in January when everyone else vows change. Mim’s phone use had gotten more excessive than was excessive before the pandemic. And my naps had turned into depressive hibernation. I get exhausted by my own life often. I have been diagnosed with fibro-myalgia and that could be the cause or it could be a side effect of my anti-depressants or I have feared laziness is to blame for an eternity. (Don’t forget Walt’s OCD and inability to relax. In comparison I was serene or tranquil or present or in the after times of divorce my tranquility was seen as being an unfit mother who can’t keep her house sanitary. I’m guessing I am just me. Relaxed and giving of my time. And if the house was cleaned this week why Windex all the surfaces again?) I chose February 1st to change some habits. No phones after 5:00 for Mim. She has from 3:00-5:00 to regroup from school and goof around and have snacks and use her phone. The afternoon phone use isn’t a problem because things distract her- like our dogs or hot chocolate or a neighbor whizzing by on a scooter. But from 5:00 on she becomes antsy and frustrated. I used the phone to allow her to escape the coming of darkness in the winter and the coming of her unrest till bedtime. The phone backfired. When it ran out of charge, ran out of wifi, or when she needed to come to the supper table- complete meltdown. That re-occurring struggle with emotional regulation. Slamming doors. The cussing getting more hysterical and accurately used. My twelve year old overflowing her mind and heart and growing taller and stronger. Her aim improving. I need to buckle down. No more naps. No phones to allow the naps. No phones to trigger additional aggravations

Self-regulation allows kids to manage their emotions, behavior, and body movement when they’re faced with a situation that’s tough to handle. And it allows them to do that while still staying focused and paying attention.

That means kids know how to figure out that they need to calm themselves down when they get upset. They’re able to be flexible when expectations change, and they can resist giving in to frustrated outbursts. This skill develops over time. That’s why it’s fairly common to see a 4-year-old having a tantrum, but not a 12-year-old. A 12-year-old who regularly has tantrums likely has a problem with self-regulation.

Quotation From Self-Regulation


In parenting, these times come. When all has failed with the usual path and it is time to throw out the bathwater and keep the baby. Ignore my writing. Ignore my new camera. Mim is the priority. I can’t allow this to get anymore out of hand. No more excuses of being tired or a pandemic. Her vision is a factor because it is easiest for her to watch things on the phone because she can hold the phone an inch from her face but she can’t do that with the tv.

Oh and I have got to stop relying on take out meals to feed my family. I like food that other people fix. I like restaurant food. I like corn bhel at Chai Pani. I like pad thai at Siam. I like spicy shrimp rolls at Sushi Avenue. I like cold pizza for lunch after a night of Felinis. I like the chicken plate at Mediterranean grill. I like a sausage and egg biscuit from Pastries a GoGo. I love bbq from Community Q. And the cachapas at Arepa Mia. A hamburger is divine, too. I can neither afford all this eating out nor is it good for us. As of February 1- no more well, maybe once a week.

To do my own thing- like write or have conversations with my big kids- I need Mim occupied. The phone occupied Mim. And without the phone- well we shall see. Monday, I cooked- pasta carbonara that was way too salty. Last night we had ham rolls, baby potatoes and steamed artichokes. Progress. Slow. Baby steps.

The phone is my crux. Am I who I think I am or is reality not matching my view? Pain comes when those two things really don’t reflect each other. When who I want to be is so far from who I am. I’m reading The Yellow House a memoir by Sarah Broom. I picked it up because it is all about New Orleans East where my cousins grew up and my mom’s family lived for at least two generations before moving across the 24 mile bridge over the Pontchartrain to Slidell, Louisiana. I want to know everything about living there- the Catholic schools that diverted kids from the public schools. The snowball stands offering flavors like spearmint and tigers blood. Sometime in the mid 80s, my cousin Melanie worked in one of those small snowball stands and she got the very tip of her finger cut off in the big silver ice shaver. When I drive on the streets of New Orleans, the sound and vibration is like no other. The rhythm is unmistakable.The streets are made of concrete or at least they are the color of concrete. They are concrete squares glued together with a line of black tar. Each square has a low sounding bump bump. It is soothing and instantly recognizable as being from my childhood when surrounded by cousins and aunts and uncles. Sarah Broom writes about her appearance- her family’s genteel ways and proper dress with starched school uniforms and starched black and white checked pants for her brothers jobs in the French Quarter. Their hair smooth and fluffed with a touch more fineness than the Black people in her neighborhood. The Yellow House that they all inhabited was falling down on the inside- rotting from the humidity and shoddy workmanship of her deceased father. Rats ate the American flag tucked away in the closet to remember the heroics of her kin. The floor boards worn through to the dirt. The carpet disintegrated. The Yellow House became a source of shame and no outsiders were let in including their extended family. Who they knew themselves to be, Sarah and her mama Ivory Mae, did not match their home and we are our home. The handmade clothes sewed with love and a tag that said Made by Ivory Mae. The proud posture. The particular diction and accent. Their college degrees. These were in constant contrast to their home. That kind of pain creeps in and can destroy you. The world and your own friends don’t know the truth. Your outsides don’t match your insides.

I prided myself on not having television when my big kids were little. No cable. When I think of my best mothering with all the kids outside wading in creeks or putting on Dixie Chicks concerts with the kitchen counter as their stage- it is like hitting my refresh button. I am suddenly brighter and clearer. Mim hiding out in my bed watching youtube on my phone sinks me. It allows me freedom. But it doesn’t match my view of myself as a mom who prioritizes her kids needs first. One can definitely argue that I need to take better care of myself. I wasn’t using Mim’s phone time to do yoga or other healthy coping skills. I was slipping into long naps on gray winter days. I became more disappointed in myself. At this very moment Mim is eating dry Rice Krispies in our bed watching my phone and I am writing. This is acceptable to my heart because it is a weekend and I am writing. I can find balance. But I can;’t fight with my own image of myself because my reality is too dissident.

I think David Sedaris might be happy because his life matches his inner world. That is how we see his eccentricity. To write authentically, authors have to reveal their interior. I was weirded out when he froze his removed fatty tumor to feed to snapping turtles. That kind of interior is extreme. Sedaris writes about it matter of factly. No excuses. No apologies. I aim to live with no apologies and no excuses. So much interior work to do.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Duchess- Part memoir and part joyful romp through the fields of imagination, the story behind a beloved pseudonymous Twitter account reveals how a writer deep in grief rebuilt a life worth living.
Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is two stories: that of the reclusive real-life writer who created a fictional character out of loneliness and thin air, and that of the magical Duchess Goldblatt herself, a bright light in the darkness of social media.

I was so happy earlier this week when Lyle Lovett liked my reply to a tweet on Duchess Goldblatt’s twitter. I lit up like a Christmas tree and bragged to my children. My 15 seconds of fame. Lyle Lovett has been a love of mine since my teenage years. (I wrote about him in a couple of blog posts. Click her to read She Had Already Made Up Her Mind) He is a warm sounding fun man, whose voice is maple syrup, burgundy velvet, or the last chapter of a well written book. He seems like his insides match his outsides. His truth shows. Nervous pitfalls flash before me in some of his songs that flow like stories, because he writes of infidelity. I don’t know if I think his lyrics or all for show and that he isn’t himself unfaithful or if I am relieved that I don’t actually know him personally (unless we count his concert at the Ryman in 1999 when Lyle and I locked eyes or unless we count his tapping a tiny heart next to my tweet reply).

“And she cried How could you do it and I swore there weren’t nothing to it”

He makes me think so much about love and infidelity. How do people love and be unfaithful? I don’t know but I suspect Lyle does. And possibly Walt does, too.

Winter can take me down faster than a groundhog can see his shadow. I’m fighting back.

(This post does not reflect my writing ability. It is late at night and typos must be excused as well as annoying tense problems with verbs. Amen. Good night.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s