The other day, I was moping around– no, I wasn’t moping around, because I’ve had this vertigo thing going on. The word “around” indicates movement. The other day, I was sitting in one spot moping, because my affliction renders me useless and keeps me tethered to the sofa. Vertigo really is a crazy deal. Initially, I thought I’d just pop the pills that the ER doctor gave me, and the world would return to its normal, balanced state. Of course, nothing’s that easy. From what I’ve read, the vestiges of this little inner ear issue can linger for a month or more.
So I’ve been down in the dumpster, I’ve been mopey. I can’t babysit the Grandpea, because I can’t chase small, speedy creatures. I can’t hold them in my arms or put them in the time out chair when they’ve yanked the leaves off of my plants or used my lipstick. By the way, toddlers are horrible makeup artists.
I worked on my current project, a little e-book of poems, and wobbled around a bit. I looked up my symptoms on Web MD to make sure that I wasn’t secretly dying, but then I remembered that we’re all probably doomed anyway, especially if Mitt Romney becomes president. So I gave that up and took a nap. These medications make me drowsy.
Ordinarily, I love my alone time, those hours when Amadeus is off teaching his hellions. My son, who came to stay with us for two weeks eight months ago, stays upstairs for the most part, and I can’t really talk about that much except to say that he’s wrestling with health issues of his own, including environmental illnesses and sleep disorders. Even with him here, the house stays pretty peaceful.
Normally, I use my time well. I write and research and
goof off on Facebook and play word games and write some more, then zip into domestic mode before Amadeus gets home. I also try to look a little presentable to conceal the fact that I sit around in a t-shirt and yoga pants all day with my hair yanked back in a bad ponytail with Oil of Olay slathered on my face in place of makeup. I try my best to create the illusion that I can write good things, run a household, put dinner on the table and look fairly decent doing it all. For the past week though, the jig’s been less than jiggy. I look like hell 24/7. Dishes have stacked up, the laundry’s been sitting in a pile near the washer, staring at me in the same accusatory way that Theo the Wonderdog® stares when his food dish is empty. The sofa cushion now bears a permanent indentation of my butt. Lack of motion is driving me mad. Really, moping and writing are about the only things I can do, and I’m not doing the second thing very well. This post is evidence of that. I’m excelling at the moping though.
But back to the other day. My daughter called to chat, an event so rare that I mark the date on my calendar and celebrate it annually. I reminded her that she’d promised to look over the e-book I’d written and give her critique. Both of my kids are great editors, and they have no problem gleefully pointing out when I’ve screwed up. I fully expected her to decline, because she’s always busier than twenty beavers at a dam site, but to my surprise, she said, “How about 4 o’clock?”
And that was the turnaround. That was when the day became magical and beautiful and sweet. My daughter came over at the appointed time, plopped down on the patio with my laptop and began reading my little book of poems. My son was lured downstairs by the sound of his sister’s voice.
“Hey,” she told him, “I just wrote a new song on the way over here.”
“I’ve got a new song too,” he said. “You should come upstairs and listen.” The 16-track recorder was up in his room.
“Wait a second,” I butted in, “she came over to help me with my project. I reserved this time slot.”
I handed my daughter a pad and pen, so that she could scribble down notes and criticism, but by the time she’d finished, she only had one little suggestion. I was thrilled– she loves the book and so does my son, who’d done his editing earlier. Those two read so much that I’m pretty sure their brains are shaped like the Library of Congress. They’re picky about their literature, and my son does book reviews for a local bookstore, so I value their opinions in a jumbo way.
My husband, Amadeus, arrived home from work, and a few minutes later, my daughter’s baby daddy stopped by and dropped off the Grandpea.
“Oh, oh, oh…you’re here– you’re here!!!” I told her. She sat on my lap and hugged me and I squooshed her big and covered her with kisses. I’d been having Pea withdrawals since the vertigo started. She toddled around, doing her toddly thing. Amadeus went to the kitchen and made us all dinner, and the Pea followed him, asking every fourteen seconds or so, “Whatcha doin’?” My kids went upstairs to work on music projects. I sat on the stupid sofa throughout most of this, but it was okay, because I was still basking in the glow of my daughter’s book review. Besides, the Pea kept stopping by to hug me.
We all ate together in our little living room, talking and laughing between bites. The Grandpea finished up, then went off to have an important imaginary talk with her father on our calculator, which she believes to be a cell phone. The evening was nice and warm and flowing with goodness. My daughter cleaned the kitchen, then helped me take the Pea upstairs so I could get her ready for bed. She and my son went back to work on her song, while the Pea and I did our elaborate bedtime ritual.
THE ELABORATE BEDTIME RITUAL
1: Brush teeth.
2: Change diaper.
3: Put “big girl panties” on over diaper. They must have princesses on them.
4: Jump on bed while Mimi sings a John Lee Hooker song.
5: Arrange five stuffed animals just-so.
6: Spray pillow with special Magic Spray (body mist). This makes things smell nice. Also allows for sweeter dreams.
7: Cover stuffed animals with Special Blanket (actually a satin nightgown). Make sure each one is tucked in just-so. Pat their little stuffed bottoms and tell them “night night.”
8: Surround Pea with mountains of pillows and blankets so she doesn’t roll off the bed.
9: 5-minute discussion regarding what the Pea will dream about, followed by 3 or 4 songs.
10: Kiss. Say “Good night, I love you.” Close door.
I went downstairs. Amadeus was reading my book, because he’s on the editorial board (and he knew that I wasn’t going to publish the thing until I had his approval). He pointed out a typo. I wanted to hug him and kiss his eagle eyes, but just then my daughter came down and asked if I’d come listen to the new song. I weebled my way upstairs, put on the headphones and gave it a listen.
I’m a huge fan of my daughter’s songwriting and my son’s tunesmithing. I listened and gave feedback and they reworked it. Within a half an hour, they were downstairs, 16-track in hand, waiting to play it for Amadeus. He listened thoughtfully, more thoughtfully than I had, because he’s a musician and his ears are built better. Baby Daddy came back and soon we were all in the living room, discussing this new song– what we liked about it, what needed work, how to arrange it. Amadeus pulled out his guitar, and everyone discussed musicky stuff while the baby slept upstairs. We gathered around the laptop to watch a video that Baby Daddy wanted us to see (he’s a musician too).
Then they packed up the Pea and left. “I love you,” I told my daughter, and she said it back. “I love you,” I told the Pea, and she said it back. “I’m very fond of you,” I told Baby Daddy, although I secretly love him too. He’s the shy type you know, and I didn’t want to freak him out.
“Man,” Amadeus said, when they’d left. “You guys are the most ‘I love you-ing people I’ve ever met.” His family is very reserved. They keep their I love you’s to themselves. When Amadeus’ father was dying, one of his brothers gave him a goodbye handshake. It’s just a difference in our upbringings.
“We’re pretty demonstrative,” I agreed. “Oh my gosh– can you imagine? I was stuck in the house for hours with all of the people I love most. What could be better? My heart is so happy.”
He nodded. He really does get me. And although he’s still getting used to his big new noisy family, I think he really loves all that love.
My writing sucks right now, but I wanted to paint you a little picture of this crazy, wonderful household. Everyone’s working on a project. Everyone wants feedback from the other, because we value each other’s opinions. There’s almost always music and creativity and the excitement of something new in the works– whether it’s a song that Amadeus has had rolling around in his head or a story that’s in mine. My son plays guitar and harmonica and posts wistful tunes online. My daughter composes songs and sings them into her phone. I often record my husband when he sings and plays guitar. I listen to all of it when I’m alone, and my heart soaks it in and expands like a sponge. Friends visit and they sometimes bring their dogs. Girlfriends and boyfriends and baby daddies roam freely. Musicians come over and sometimes Amadeus pulls out his towering upright bass and they play and sing and for a moment, every worry I have disappears.
There’s a constant ribbon of gratefulness that winds its way through my world. Despite the worries and the woes, this life we’re living does wonderful things to my brain and my heart. Even vertigo can’t ruin it.
My son recorded a cover of this sweetly quirky song.