Oh my god, teething sucks. That is all.
It’s early enough on a Saturday, and I’m sipping green tea under gray skies. Hard to believe that six months ago today I was at the hospital waiting to meet the babe (“waiting” may not be the most accurate word for what I was doing, I guess). Both of us born on twelves. Today will be a quiet celebration. Next year we’ll both have bigger, louder birthdays (a first in March and a thirtieth in September – oh my!), but for now, it’s naps and tea, a tag sale and an evening with Grampie (the babe) and dinner out (for me).
We’re back. Even though our road trip ended over a week ago, I’m only now just starting to feel like we’re settling back in. Part of the problem, of course, is that it’s hard to tell what we’re settling back into. Big changes are afoot for all of us, and our day-to-day probably won’t feel like it has a normal rhythm for the next month or so. Transition makes me anxious, so the real challenge for me now is to slow down, take a deep breath and maintain some perspective. The changes are all good, even if it means the next few weeks are a little bumpy.
This isn’t exactly related, but I keep meaning to post it and haven’t until now. Isn’t our town nice? First of all, we live in the Bezerkshires which tend toward the liberal end of the political spectrum, so this seems a little sad and lonely. And of course I love the use of the parenthesis, which are thankfully here to help clarify what might otherwise be lost due to sloppy graffiti scrawl. Isn’t that considerate? In light of the craziness that is the current health insurance debate (loaded guns? really?), this particular defacement of public property is just so damned polite, I can’t help but smile.
I was all set to post a little bit about 2666, the Bolano book I am (still) finishing up and loving. Just as I started writing, though, a bookish friend tagged me in a bookish Facebook note. I like the thread, so I’m just going to post it over here.
Here are the rules:
Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes.
My list of books, chosen only for their stickiness and in no particular order:
Madame Bovary – Flaubert (yes, really)
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Anna Karenina – Tolstoy
The Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles
Solibo magnifique – Patrick Chamoiseau
Inner Experience – Georges Bataille
Savage Detectives – Roberto Bolano
As I Lay Dying – Faulkner
The Tin Drum (& The Flounder – not part of the trilogy, but connected in my own mind) – Gunter Grass
Miss Lonleyhearts/The Dreamlife of Balso Snell/The Day of the Locust – Nathanael West
Germinale – Emile Zola
Winesburg Ohion – Sherwood Anderson
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas – Gertrude Stein
Swann’s Way – Proust
The Balcony – Jean Genet
I like the idea of books that stick. It’s an interesting way to think about your own personal canon. There are books that stick with me because I taught them (in some cases repeatedly), or because I wrote papers about them; others because they pointed me in a certain direction or are linked to other important books/events/ideas. Some books are sticky but not enjoyable, and I know that there are plenty of books that I have loved in the moment that did not exactly stick, at least not in a way that I can recall easily. I have made repeated, useless attempts to keep track of my reading, but on some level I like the idea that some books – like ’em or not – will leave an impression that I can trace and others will wash over me and their effect will occur without needing a mental footnote.
All this talk of books is making me wish I had long stretches of time for reading. It’s true that babies eat time, but when I was a grad student (studying literature, of all the things), I blamed coursework and teaching for stealing hours I would have liked to devote to reading for pleasure. I am officially adding this to my list of new priorities. I’d also like to find a way outside the context of graduate school to talk more about books with friends, but I’m not too keen on a book club per se. (I don’t really like to mix my reading with Oprah, cheese, and “I statements.” No, I take it back, there is room for cheese. And wine. But no Oprah and no “I really liked…” or arguments about how “realistic” a work might be.) Something to think about.
I used to read the modish blog, but stopped at some point, so I must have missed the launch of Modish Biztips. Fortunately, a tweet from Berkshire Made pointed me to the site and their awesome “Retail: Brick by Brick” series. Detailed business plan help from creative types about starting a brick and mortar store? Yes, please. This is all so new to me, and I am hoping over the course of the next couple of months to start interviewing people I know who have started creative businesses.
If my mom were still around, I’d interview her, although I can almost hear her laughing at me now. In her opinion, retail was a crazy business for crazy people. This was a woman who lectured me about the rise of the service economy when I could not have been more than 12 or so. Retail is so, well, tangible, and art/craft is a particular celebration of the tangible experience of creativity. That’s also a fancy way of saying you are stuck with the dilemma of managing inventory. My mom grew up in a retail family (my grandparents owned two stores for a number of years), and she worked in various aspects of the industry for a lo-ong time until I came along. When she started her own business, it very quickly moved from the tangible sale of computers to the more dynamic business of computer support. Smart lady. Me? Well, we’ll see.
In somewhat related news, I’m crying uncle. I can no longer hold down a full-time job in addition to staying home with the babe for the better part of the work week. I’ve had a very flexible arrangement with my employer, but with cut-backs there, I’ve taken on responsibilies equivalent to a job and a half and have been trying to fit it all into two full office days (when the babe is with a sitter), naptimes and nights and weekends. What this means in practice is that I walk around feeling awful about how many corners I have to cut and anxious about what things will be like during the busy seasons ahead. Right. The whole life/work balance is not a new thing, and it’s something plenty of others struggle with (probably with a lot less whining), but I need to be honest rather than competitive. It’s not a question of how much I can handle (i.e. before I break down completely, or what? win a prize?). It’s a question of what I want my days and life to look like. And what I want the next few years to look like. If I am serious about starting a store, then maybe I need enough breathing room to parent, work and explore future possibilities. And right now that means reducing work to a part-time position.
I’m just starting this process now, and there’s actually no guarantee that there’s a part-time position for me. That’s kind of up to my employer, and yes, there’s a risk I’ll find myself without an out of the house job. I’ll still have the parenting gig (!) and will probably seek some supplemental (paid) work. It’ll be ok. I am lucky that I can say that, and I am trying to push down the inner worrywart, but, yeah, it’ll be ok.
We are unexpectedly spending this weekend at home after plans to go to NYC fell through, and so far, so, so good.
As I write this, there’s a baby bathed and asleep on my shoulder, homemade grilled pizza in my belly, a great tag sale score waiting for a new home sitting on the porch, a new small knitting project for a new small person on the nightstand, and a modest batch of sour cherry jam setting in the fridge. Not too shabby, and it’s not even Sunday night yet.
Yes, there’s mounds of work to do and laundry to fold, but it can wait until tomorrow. Today didn’t leave quite enough time to worry about all that, just enough to take this in and enjoy.
So there’s this, which has thrown us for a loop over here. (Ask Moxie is an excellent site, by the way. I’ve been reading up on the “four-month sleep regression” that seems to have taken hold of the babe.) Today has been without any sort of recognizable form. We are all eating/sleeping/working/playing more or less as best we can, and I trust that eventually some pattern will re-emerge.
Andthen there’sthis damn space bar which seems to be the latest computer malady. This thing is just clunking along, I guess.
Kind of sums it up: clunking along.
Which is not to say that last night’s (short) break for an anniversary dinner was not lovely, because it was. Or thatI’m not enjoying this gorgeous Berkshire summer weather, because of course I am! But it’s all a bit of a blur right now.
Some things have been crystallizing. I have been thinking and talking a lot lately about my someday store. An entrepreneurial spirit is something of a family curse, and I have my sights set on diving into retail at some point. At heart, this would be a stationary and gift store specializing in work by independent and local designers, but I feel pretty strongly that I want this to be a place where people can connect and find ways of getting involved in this wonderfully creative community. Workshops, events, an ever-changing showcase for local artisans and crafters: I want my little store to do all of these things and more.
Yesterday, Design*Sponge profiled moomah, a new kid-centric venture in NYC. I love the way this group has put together a space that is so much more than just a store. And also? It is gorgeous.