Friday, June 29, 2012

Waiting for the Green

A simple foray  into my overstuffed closet to put away laundry triggered some self-realization and has inspired me to make some changes in my life.

As I struggled to make room for the same sweats and shorts I wore last week and will probably throw on again this week, I stopped to admire of many dresses with a tag still attached. It wasn't a recent purchase, I've probably had it about a year. As is my habit, I styled it in my head, recalling some cute wedges I bought last summer that also haven't been worn yet and chunky bangles. I've always done this. I plan outfits, looks, ensembles, down to the eye shadow. But I never wear these stunning creations.Well rarely since becoming a WAHM. But I keep buying. I don't think I'm a compulsive shopper or a clothes hoarder (though Hubby might argue this point). I'm just waiting for the right reason to wear the outfits. I started to straighten up my desk and I see two brochures and applications from two film courses I want to take. I'm just waiting for my life to slow down, finances to speed up,etc, to apply to the schools. After I cleared my desk, I went through my inbox and read emails from two charitable organizations I did actually join, but have yet to attend a meeting or function to, because I'm waiting... waiting....for the right time.

Yeah, I see the pattern too. I'm always waiting for "something" to begin the life I want to live. I can't remember who told me that I need the right moment, or a clear path in order to make a positive change. But I'm guessing somebody must have. But I'm beginning to suspect I've been scammed, While I'm waiting for a green light, somebody else is taking my spot in that class, wearing that outfit, heading that new project, writing that story and I'm thinking no one told them ready, set, GO! They just went.

This will be hard habit to break. But It can only help me. I promise myself today to stop waiting for the green light, the clear path, the right omen. I'll blow my own whistle and start the race now.....maybe

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Soapy Past...Ode to Soaps

Tonight's premiere of the new Dallas has me nostalgic for my soaps, All My Children, One Life To Live, Dynasty, Knots Landing. Televisions line up is chock full of talk shows and reality shows. They can be entertaining, but it can get tiresome. I miss the days of scripted dramas, with twists and turns and ball gowns with shoulder pads. In honor of tonight's Dallas comeback. I am re-blogging a post I wrote a while ago about my soap love.

   An Ode to Classic Television Soaps and 41 Years of “All My Children”

So, in addition to my many varied entertainment addictions, is my sometimes secret shame.... Daytime Soaps. Yes that's right, I said it. Most people who know me, would call me a TV snob. I'd like to say I'm a connoisseur of sorts. I respect the art of good storytelling and cannot be convinced to watch a show because it's popular, if it's just not there.

This is why I've always found it hard to defend my 30 year love affair with Pine Valley. I mean I've heard all the complaints, they're too predictable, too far-fetched, the writing is bad, the acting is bad. Then there are the stereotypes for soap watchers, I recently came across one study that said “Typically, soap viewers have been equally condemned and stereotyped for their addiction to this so-called mindless form of entertainment. Early accounts of the radio-soap listeners envisage groups of educationally backward, emotionally and socially deprived women, all eagerly tuning in to their favourite serial. The typical listener was thought to be a lower-class housewife, using soaps as a form of escapism from mundane isolation in the home and an indisputable source of advise on personal problems” [Buckingham, 1987 : 5] Seriously? This doesn't make you want to wave your Soap Fan Flag. I will admit I have occasionally had the same complaints about my beloved soaps. I've laughed derisively at ridiculous plots and thrown the remote down in disgust and vowed at least 2 times a week, to never watch this bull^&*@ again!

So why did the prospect of soap (that I've watched maybe weekly at best for the last few years) leave me in genuine tears? This is before I even tuned in to watch the last two weeks of episodes. Now that I've had a few days to recover and analyze it, I think I've figured out why. Of course, I love it for all the typical reasons: mindless entertainment, the escapism, melodramatic romances, all the corniness you expect from a soap. But its been more than that to me. Soaps were always on in my house when I was young, My mother and grandmother were both ABC soap fans ( though they've both long since stopped watching). I can remember the first day I actually paid attention to them. In November 1981 my mom picked me up from Kindergarten, and she rushed back to my grandmother's house, I can remember my mother and grandmother shushing me repeatedly, while they stared at the screen as they watched Luke and Laura's iconic wedding. Out of boredom and maybe some curiosity I watched too. I'd like to say I was so blown away by what I saw that it made me a fan for life, but that's a lie. Gimme a break I was five years old. What I do remember is the connection I felt between them as they watched and discussed the epic episode. They bonded as they watched “their show”. I wanted to be a part of that. So I pretended it was my show too. Until one day it actually was. I turned to ABC Channel 7 everyday at 1 pm on every summer vacation, every sick day, every school holiday.

By the time I got to high school I started taping them. They became a part of my life through their sheer consistency. Even if I ignored them, for weeks or months at at time, while I became engrossed in new friends, new boyfriends and new activities whenever I looked for them, they were still there waiting, as if they knew eventually, I’d be back. I didn' t need a reintroduction. There was no awkward reunion. In the space of a day or maybe two, It would be like I never left. I've heard people reminisce on the music soundtrack of their youth. I think I have a ABC Soap film reel of my youth.

And as fantastical and over the top as they were, they taught me so much, I was pulled from my seemingly important teenage dramas of grades and cheer-leading and boyfriends, into stories involving serious issues, my school and friends and family weren't talking about, like cancer, mental illness, rape, drug addiction and homophobia. As I raged and cried and suffered along with my favorite characters, I was exposed to issues that would one day touch my life. And I wouldn't be lying if I said it gave me empathy and a perspective at an earlier age than a lot of my peers. But I didn't just learn from their tragedies. I watched characters go from enemies to super couples and I learned to give people second chances. I watched the under dog characters that no one believes in anymore climb out of well or save the day and shock ( well not really) everyone and I learned perseverance. I watched con men, murderers and rapists save lives, selflessly sacrifice themselves or bring another beloved character back from the dead and I learned the power of redemption. I watched soul mates die ( sometimes 2 or 3 times) and come back to each other and I saw love's undying devotion. And they never let me down. They were always there, waiting to give me exactly what I didn’t even know I needed on that particular day. So I cried for more than an entertaining TV show, more than a deeply ingrained habit, I cried for my friends, these characters that have lived in my head and heart for thirty years, making me laugh, cry and throw the remote.

Good Bye “All My Children” I'll miss you.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Super Mom Guilt

In the internal (and sometimes external battle) of Stay at Home versus Work Outside the Home moms. I was pretty sure I had won the war when I became a Work at Home mom. I figured that a flexible schedule and a low minimum of time requirements would allow me to contribute financially to the household, take care of my family and leave some time to pursue my writing. I win right? Umm Nope. I wonder if everyone isn't losing.

When I'm working, I feel like I should be playing with the kids (actually they are standing there telling be I should be playing with them). So I never put in the time I promise myself I'm going to put in. When I am spending time with the kids, my mind constantly wanders to that pile of dirty laundry that's been giving me the evil eye for two days or the scene I promised my writing partner I'd have finished tonight. And if I buckle down to write that scene, I'm haunted by the money I'm not making chasing a dream instead of putting in  hours at my "real job". And since I am obviously a glutton for punishment, I then start a blog so I can feel guilty about not posting regularly. Oh and I did I mention my parents have started a new family business. How much is it for that cloning thingy? I need like three. After I run on this guilt treadmill for about a week, I spaz out and do nothing for a full 24 hours, which will only give me more guilt fuel for doing nothing when there's so much to be done.

I've seen WAHMs who juggle everything without dropping a ball. How the hell do they do that??? They are scheduled and structured and manage their time all efficient-like. That's how I imagined myself to be. I can barely manage to find time for a shower. I try so hard. I make to do lists, I meal plan, I schedule time for everything and I write it all in my cute way too expensive planner, and I stick to it for 3 days at the most then I can't find the lists, forgo the meal plan for grilled cheese and forget to crack the planner open for days at a time. Then I start all over again at which time I see that I missed my daughter's eye doctor appointment, a writing deadline and didn't send the cable payment.

I'm so tired of being tired, so I promise this to myself today. The guilt stops now. I will not make to-do lists that are longer than my supermarket receipts. I will not flog myself if a Martha Stewart dinner isn't on the table every night. I will not trade sleep for work. I will not expect two novels a month. I will not make activity filled mind stimulating playdates with my kids.

I will do what I can on the list, and give the finger to what I can't. Laundry be damned! When the kitchen starts to look like a prison, I will serve PBJ with a smile. I'll just hang with my kids and veg out. I will write my movie, my novel and this blog, when I feel inspired. And I will sleep, at least sometimes. I will learn how to say No, I can't do that! Even to myself. And I will not feel guilty ( or at least I'm really, really going to try). And now I have to sign off because that evil laundry pile is starting send me death threats.