Saturday, February 7, 2009

Good Stuff

I've been feeling rather gloomy lately. I recognize that it is a combination of things. The winter has been dragging on quite a bit here in the East Coast, and while I am a fan of flaky snow and warm scarfs at the start of the season-- I am well over it now. It stinks to park the car on the street, sidled up next to these huge, icy snowbanks that make you need to get the boys out on the car side of the street, always concerned about impatient drivers who just want to get past a woman helping three little fellas from the side door. I am also in the thick of things work-wise, at the height of the season, and feeling well out-of-control this first go-around. I don't even know what I don't know and that ignorance would be bliss, except that it smacks me in the face a bit too often-- when suddenly someone asks me if I've finished something that I didn't even know I was supposed to do. It makes me feel crappy to feel crappy at my job. Finally, P is off on a required school thing for five days, leaving tomorrow. The anticipation of the suckiness of single parenting this next week, as I feel the heat and weight of job expectations, as I scrape up against dirty mounds of ice and snow, just has put me over the top. The irony is that he is off to a five-day retreat, filled with quietness and contemplation, something that I know he needs and is good for him, not just a part of fulfilling his MDiv requirements. However, it feels like it is just what I need, but could no way do right now, and makes me feel bitter about his program and how it is so clearly not designed for a parent of young children.

When I am wallowing in self-pity, I often do a pretty good job of beating myself up even more but putting stuff into perspective. I am lucky to have a job, especially given the economic climate and the reality of more and more folks finding themselves jobless each day. I am lucky I have these three amazing boys and incredibly fortunate that I don't have to single parent every day of their existence. I am profoundly blessed by having this amazing partner, who is good and kind and supportive and actually feels incredibly guilty about going away for rest and retreat for four-and-a-half days.

And while I was lying like a lump in bed this evening, feeling all these things, and thinking all these things-- I realized I have touched up against some really good stuff lately. And I love sharing good stuff that I discover with people. And I felt like I should put this all in a post. So here's some good stuff that has made me buzz a bit:

1. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. For the past few months, I've been voraciously reading YA novels. I tend to get on reading kicks-- memoirs, British/Irish chick lit, mysteries-- and I just look for more and more. I've had people ask me how I possibly find time to read. I don't even know how to answer that, except that I just do. I couldn't live without reading, and oh, how I wish I felt like that about exercise or broccoli, but I always find time to read even in just short snippets between responsibilities. Green is such a smart writer and I fell for this book and the protagonist immediately. Colin Singleton is a recent high school graduate and child prodigy, not a genius he reminds folks often, who is freaked out about losing his edge (you're not a child prodigy once you become an adult) and being dumped yet-again by a girl named Katherine. Colin and his best friend, Hassan, set out on a road trip right after graduation in that buddy bonding plot that I've seen before. However, there's tons of anagrams and a whole lot of math in this book and it's just smart and quirky and funny and like nothing I've ever read. And I secretly devoured all of Colin's thoughts because I couldn't help but think he is a bit like my own C , whom I don't dare label a prodigy, but has his own tremendous brain that gets in the way of his social connections at times. I suspect that author Green is a bit Colin-ish himself and I love the idea of this guy finding his own niche in the world. Good stuff.

2. Abstract City: I Lego N.Y. by Christopher Niemann . This collection of photos of Niemann's simple Lego creations that remind him of a much-missed New York City just got me with its cleverness. I had one of those "oh-I-wish-I-had-done-this" moments when I first saw it but I just love that Niemann did and the New York Times published it. I also just like the idea of Niemann hanging out with his three sons overseas, playing Legos in their room. Good stuff.

3. Slings & Arrows. I made mention of this brilliant Canadian television series in my last post. P and I watched the very last episode of the last season last night and this morning, we both admitted that we were in a bit of mourning about finishing it. The series takes place around a fictitious town's Shakespearean theater festival and has moments of great drama, laugh-out-loud humor, and just incredibly smart writing. The acting is top-notch and the series is such a great reminder of what good television really can look like (and a sad reminder that nothing on TV right now looks anything like this). Each of the three seasons focuses on a different Shakespeare play the company is putting up, and it was a bonus that I taught Hamlet and Macbeth, and made me yearn to teach King Lear. However, one could really enjoy this show without knowing the plays or even liking Shakespeare all that much (to start). It made me wish I had discovered the show earlier when I was teaching high school so I could have shared this gem with my students. Now, too, I want to watch everything that has actor Paul Gross in it, who just astounded me as artistic director Geoffrey Tenner, struggling with his own demons while trying to create great art and get the woman he loved and lost. Good stuff.

4. They Might Be Giants: Their kids' albums, especially Here Comes the A,B,C's and Here Comes the 1,2,3's are tons of fun. Clever lyrics. Good music that kids love and parents can stand to listen to again and again. And yes, we did just go see them LIVE last Saturday-- the boys' first ever concert. I love that from now on, now matter how old the boys get, when someone asks them who was their first concert, they will always be able to answer TMBGs! The band was amazing live, the energy awesome, horns blaring, kids and parents both stomping their feet and jumping in the air. Plus, I love them for passing out yellow foam hands with the big #1 fingers for free to all the attendees so we didn't have to be the mean parents saying 'no' to buying them stuff at concerts.

These guys (the band, not the three pictured) are nominated for a Grammy this year and I am so totally routing for John and John. Beside their CDs, it is also worth it to purchase the DVDs full of old-school animation and this good music-- you just don't feel guilty letting your kids sit in front of these videos. "Now that monkey rides a bike around with me. I named him Larry." Good stuff.

And bonus, while finding a link on TMBG, I found that on their website, they had posted the video of Bishop Gene Robinson's prayer at Barack Obama's Inauguration festivities and that just made me like They Might Be Giants even more. Good Stuff.

5. Finally, just tonight I just started reading David Levithan's Wide Awake. He's one of those YA novelists I have been recently devouring and have really appreciated his Boy Meet Boy (reading some incredibly poignant lines aloud to P) and the two novels he co-authored with Rachel Cohn, including Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. The premise of Wide Awake, published in 1996-- a gay Jewish president has just been elected. I can already tell that more Good Stuff awaits...


Jennifer said...

Sorry that you're in the middle of a down period. You know I'm always happy to toss my job out the window to come help with bathtime with my three most favorite under-7 guys.

Sending good thoughts and extra energy your way.

Andrea said...'s the February Blues, and it usually lasts through April or May. Hope that the single mom kick plus sick kid is going OK (and you so totally deserve a retreat! That should be required for everyone working on her M.O.M. degree!!!)

Terra said...

I have been feeling a bit gloomy too:' weather, boss, blah, blah, blah. I don't know how you do it Sara, and manage to keep reading. Yes, don't be too hard on yourself... that same thing happened to me at work just yesterday. When Peter gets home you need to go get yourself a spa day.