Friday, October 30, 2009

Make It Work, People

I do it every year. No, that's not right, I do it every other year, because even I am not that stupid that often. Intermittent stupidity, that's what I have.

I don't know if it's in my genetic makeup. I'd like to blame it on genes, but I may have used up that excuse on too many other things, like my continual desire to change my haircolor or my inexplicable aversion to team sports. This one may just be me.

Here's the underlying problem. I am 100 percent, utterly confident in my ability to do anything. Anything, you name it. Figure out instructions, power tools, math problems. Fix a toilet, a roof, grammatical errors. Build a shed. Sail a boat. Cut hair. Assemble a swingset. Grow a garden. As long as it does not involve making phone calls, I can do it. At least, that's what my inner voice tells me. And that inner voice calls to me each year come September..... Heather (she calls in her siren voice) should sew your children's Halloween costumes....that's right, sew's not that hard, you can do it...imagine how cool they will be....those storebought ones are so ugly and'll have so much fun and the kids will really appreciate it....they'll think you're the best mom ever...the best mom ever...the best mom ever...

And every other year I am smart enough to smack myself in the head so that my inner voice will shut up.

But then another year goes by and the frustration and overwhelm and lost hours of sleep fade into the lore of ancient fuzzy memories that seem so sweet in retrospect and then Boom! I'm pregnant again. Whoops! Same nostalgia, different outcome. Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, Boom! I'm crouched over my sewing machine with my hands gnarled and stiffened from gripping the seam ripper, my eyes bloodshot and red-rimmed and staring in hopeless frustration at piles and piles of little used up bits of fabric and thread and trim as the clock ticking on the wall grows louder and louder and my temper grows shorter and shorter and my children get hungrier and hungrier and I swear to myself one more time that I will never. Again.

See the problem is, although I have complete confidence in my abilities, I don't actually (air quotes) "know how" to sew. Or any of those things listed up there, actually. My mom tried to do her duty in passing on her sewing knowledge. I actually "made" two "dresses" during my preteen years. A little blue and white sailor number, the inspiration for which has completely abandoned me. Pollyanna, perhaps? An old Gene Kelly movie? I don't recall sailor dresses being popular in the late eighties, but who knows. The other was a floral cotton sleeveless drop-waist tea-length dress with (wait for it) doilies sewn to the pockets. Mom, remember that one? We ate lunch at that Nut House place in Oakhurst ( that a town?) that was an old house/restaurant/shop that was all shabby before it was chic and they had this dress on display and I loved it and you thought that it was your big opportunity. To teach me something of value. And then I kicked and screamed and pouted and frumped and tried with all my adolescent might to make you rue the day you tried to teach me to sew. Did it work? Did you rue that day, Mom? I think there was a steady stream of rue flowing through our house for a good number of years. Ah, memories.

So I can sew a straight (ish) line. Wind a bobbin. Thread a needle. Whatever. But just where did I get the idea that I could go all Project Runway and whip up the elaborate costumes envisioned in my head? No pattern (who needs it?!) no skills (how hard could it be? I went to college, I can figure it out) nothin' but the sense I was born with to see me through. And lots and lots of candy. Although I've sworn off, or at least down, for the time being, so that's a real handicap. And sad.

It always starts out so good. A month before Halloween. I'm drawing patterns and doing muslin mock-ups and basting and draping and it's all so Fashion Institute of Technology I could just wrap myself in my smug little fantasy and quit my day job. Then I hit trouble. Followed shortly by The Wall. A small problem, involving seam removal, new cutouts, and two broken needles, snowballs rapidly into a meltdown of my entire concept and a shaking of my self-confidence and a flood of memories of "the last time". It is not pretty, dear readers, not pretty at all. Remember the ghost outfit that made my sweet 5 year old look like a klan member? The princess dress that required my 3 year old to lose 2 pounds before I could do up the back? The cowboy chaps that had to be stapled on to keep from falling off? What am I doing? What was I thinking? (Insert smallish mental breakdown)

So we close the curtain on our little vignette and allow our heroine to regain her inner strength and resolve. But it just doesn't happen. She postpones. And procrastinates. And mulls. Rues even. But doesn't sew much. There's a whole month until Halloween, what's the rush? Well here leads to there and all of a sudden it is two days until Halloween and she realizes that her daughter's preschool program is slated for the day before Halloween, which actually gives her only one day and she has to start sewing at this very second or her innocent and unsuspecting daughter will be going as her big brother. If big brother has any clean shirts, that is.

A big frenzy ensues, as you may imagine, a big messy frenzy, with fur and feathers and yarn and glue and spangles flying. And from it emerges a costume. A so-so, serviceable costume that if I'm lucky, looks ok from 10 feet back, and if I'm real lucky, stays on while they stand still for pictures, and if I'm really really lucky.... actually, I've never experienced really really, so I can't imagine what it might entail. Flying or invisibility, maybe? Gee! But I've also never sent them down the catwalk--I mean out the door-- naked, or with last year's costume on, although I have come very very close. And they always seem to be happy. But they're kids and its Halloween, so I can't take the credit there. Somehow there always seems to be a Halloween miracle, things get wearable in the nick of time, and I think it is that lack of showtime disaster that keeps me thinking I can do it again. What else could it be? Is that what it will take to teach me a lesson I will never forget?

You know what it is? I think you might. And I hesitate to say it because my inner voice will have a total field day with it. Unless it came from her...? But here goes: I like it. I do. I like it. I like the creation and the drama and the setbacks and the problem solving and the hundred little triumphs and the thrill of seeing something that I made slide off the shoulder and up the rear of the little girl walking in front of me. That's hard to beat, right? And then that little girl turns around and says "I look so beautiful Mom, don't I!" and I feel like the best mom ever.

Just like she said I would. I hate it when my inner voice is right.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Here It Is

The answer to your most burning question "Heather, does your husband really believe you will one day kill him?" Yes. I was not kidding when I first shared this disturbing news, several months ago. And now I lay bare my soul:

Last night my dear husband and I were involved in our usual nightly activity. Watching House in our bedroom. In this particular episode, an apparently devoted and happy wife turns out to have been slowly poisoning her husband, in order to kill him. This turned my mind to a certain incident of several months ago...

It all began one night when we were both asleep in bed. I woke up thinking I heard someone throwing up. The air vent in our bedroom leads directly to the girls' room below and we can hear quite clearly everything that goes on in there (making it so much easier to keep up the "Mom knows everything" racket). Not my favorite 2 am sound, I admit, but best to catch it in the early stages. Or I don't know, maybe I was just imagining things...I'll ask Darron if he heard it.

Me: (whispered and a little urgent) Darron! Wake up!
Him: (startled and panicked and jumping away from me just a bit.) What?
Me: (wondering if his instincts have already told him something is wrong. What a sensitive dad.) Did you hear anything? That sounded like barfing? I thought I heard someone throwing up.
Him: (confusedly and breathing a little quickly for 2 am) No, I didn't. But I'll go check. (Runs from the room.)
Me: (Wait a minute, Darron doesn't run. Thinking...) Hmm. Hope things are okay down there. *yawn* Gosh. He's sure taking a long time. (Lays back down on pillow) If there was throwup, he'd come up and get me. *yawn* I'll just rest my eyes until he gets back. I'll need my strength if I'm going to be up all night with barfy kids. Hmmmmm... (falls asleep)

What I didn't know was his version of the terrifying events:

Him: (woken from a sound sleep by the woman your instincts tell you is about to kill you, as you have secretly known for a long long time. Panicked and awaiting imminent death, but perhaps only after a lecture...? "For 12 long years I've had to live with your...." something along those lines) What?
Me: (urgent and confusingly off topic) Did you hear anything? That sounded like barfing? I thought I heard someone throwing up.
Him: (realizing he is not about to be destroyed and chopped up into small soup-size pieces with that big knife his wife received for Christmas from her mother. Not tonight.) No, I didn't, but I'll go check. (Exits speedily but clumsily, trying to calm his anxious breathing, and really to get some space between him and his loving devoted wife. Thinking...) So not tonight, I guess. That's good. There's that BYU game I'm going to on Saturday, would have sucked to miss that. Hmm. My reflexes aren't what they should be, that's surprising, I'll need to work on that. If she wakes me up first, it could really make the difference.

Yeah, so a few days later, we were just sitting there doing--I don't know--something, when he pipes up with this revelation:

Him: You remember the other night when you woke me up to tell me you thought the kids were barfing? (deadpan) I thought you were waking me up to kill me.
Me: (even more deadpan) Why would I wake you up first?
Him: Yeah, see, that's what I was thinking, too! Doesn't make sense, does it?
Me: Well, I certainly don't think so. But I tend to question the entire murderyouinyourbedoranyotherlocation scenario as a whole, so I wouldn't take that as a sign of our simpatico. How do you envision me doing it?
Him: (quickly) With a knife, like that Bobbitt lady. Wasn't she the one who cut off her husband's ***?
Me: Yes, Lorena Bobbitt. Huh. So after dismembering you, then I take the knife to the rest of you? Is that how it goes? But why? Why would I do it?
Him: (truthfully) I'm hard to live with. You've had to put up with a lot from me. I just think one day you are going to snap.

Sigh. You know, you work so hard at a marriage, trying to get the other person to believe that you aren't going to murder them in their beds and then something like this happens, that makes you see just how far you still have to go. It's a little frustrating, to be quite honest. Yes, Darron has his quirks. But I do like him, still. And I am not a sociopath. And I have a deep and abiding fear of prison that maybe I need to let him in on, to give him a little peace of mind.

So back to our House-watching. They didn't give this wife any sort of motivation, which kind of bugged me, and I asked Darron about it. He said something about never being able to tell... what did that mean? So I asked him in a very level, non-confrontational-type way if he really thought I was going to kill him, or was he just being funny. I really needed to know. He answered that he did believe it. That I had the "personality". And the voice. Then he smiled at me and turned to go brush his teeth.

There you have it. I can't fight that. And I won't anymore. If he's okay with it, so am I. See that's what marriage is all about. Planting ideas in someone's head and then cultivating them through your paranoia to fruition. I was so misguided for so many years, but now I see the light. Shining off the surface of my big shiny kitchen knife. Sleep tight, Darron.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My New Favorite Quote

You know the one I spent a day and a half searching for?

"A happy home is but an earlier heaven." --Thomas S. Monson