When I was very small, my two brothers, who were born in New Jersey like my parents, used to tease me for being born in New York. They called me a "born New Yorker." It hurt my feelings and made me feel like an "other" in my family.
Today? Today I am SO PROUD TO BE A BORN NEW YORKER!!!!
I'd love to raise my daughter in a world where rape, murder, genocide and all other atrocities don't exist.
But since I don't, and since I firmly believe that we must learn from the past in order to not repeat it, I believe it's important to read articles like this one, and the book which it references.
I'll be ordering it soon. It will make me sad, and nauseous, and angry, but I will learn from it. And I hope others will, too. Because we all have to work together to keep things like this from happening ever again.
I'll admit it, I was more than a little freaked out by our cabin in the woods on the first night. I already wrote about how I wanted to go home, how I was expecting hairy, sweaty madmen to appear at every window.
But by last night, I was feeling zen-like about the whole experience. I'd learned to love the dark wood surrounding me, the dangers of the slippery river rocks. I'd even embraced the wide-open windows and their mostly-unused, heavy drapes. By the time I went to bed last night, I was damn peaceful.
And then...this morning...at 5:30 in the stinkin' a.m....the phone rang.
NOT one of our cell phones. NOT a skype connection on our computers. But a land-line, a sole little phone plugged into one of these dark, wooden walls.
It rang for all its little life was worth. Ring. Ring. Ring.
We rolled over in the darkness, confused, muddled. "Wha..." Charles mumbled as my heart pounded with adrenaline from the sudden awakening.
I stumbled out of bed, scared.
Because...isn't this how most horror movies get started? Don't the peacefully sleeping heroes get awakened by a phone call in the middle of the night, only to find they're being stalked by the hairy, sweaty madmen who tells them he has the house surrounded? Don't they then dissolve into an evolution of terror only to wind up killed and hung on the walls to dry?
Isn't that what always happens?
I grabbed the phone, a cordless, and carried it wordlessly into the room and handed it, still ringing its death chime, to my half-asleep husband.
Who set it down on the nightstand and rolled back over into sleep.
It stopped ringing after eight long, insistent bellows, and I noticed I was still alive. There was no hairy, sweaty madman leering in the window. So I got out of bed and checked on Zoe who was sleeping, zen-like, peacefully, on the couch.
So I lay back down next to Charles and tried to calm racing heart with soothing thoughts of sunshine and rainbows.
Ten minutes later, the phone rang again. Death chimes re-visited.
I wanted to cry.
This time, Charles answered sleepily. "It's just beeping at me..." and he got up to make some coffee. And me? I never quite dozed back off either.
But...I'm still alive. Still. So is Zoe. So is Charles (even after a close encounter with a (non)venomous snake while hiking today). So all is well. And I'll just have to remind myself once again that my overactive imagination is better left for my noveling efforts.
And....today, Zoe got a set of marbles. She calls them "marvels." I like it.
This post should seriously be subtitled "Zoe is a trooper."
I mean really. We're on day four of our five day vacation, and we've been going non-stop pretty much since we got here. I already told you about our first hike (a full mile for some very tiny legs, without any complaints)...but there's so much else!
In the first place, the wedding Saturday night was excellent. The bride, our friend Ashley, was truly lovely, and even though the weather was TERRIBLE (they had to move the outside wedding inside at the very last minute), I never saw her break a sweat.
And Zoe? Holy cow, she danced the night away. Seriously, I've never seen anything like it. My typically shy little girl completely opens up as soon as there's music and a dance floor. Hopping, spinning, turning, leaping, she does it all. Even some ballet moves (and she's never even had one class). I mean, she DOES look a bit like Elaine from Seinfeld, so it's not like her skills are astonishing, but her energy and joy are boundless. We finally had to leave during the speeches because you could see the imminent crash by Zoe coming; she'd only had a 20 minute nap that day.
She slept until 7:30 the following morning, a record for her.
Our days since have included LOTS of driving, especially yesterday when the weather was pretty awful. She hasn't had a real nap since we left the house on Friday, and has instead caught 20- to 30-minute catnaps in the car. The few meltdowns we've had have been epic, but for the most part she's been cheerful, enthused and engaged.
Today we went to Tweetsie Railroad, a Wild West theme park, and it was like her holy land or something. She rode two separate trains, an airplane and a helicopter, and she even got to ride some go-carts with Charles. There was also a ton of junk food (argh, she's eaten SO MUCH JUNK FOOD) and silly tourist-trap souvenier souvenir stores where we picked out presents for friends, and a frog and a bag of rocks for Zoe. Plus, there was Rusty the Cowboy, on whom Zoe now has a huge crush. Whew.
Then we went on a huge hike to see a waterfall, and once again (once we got past the epic meltdown for the day) Zoe was great. She kept up with us, every step. Over hills, crossing streams, climbing up and down stairs. It was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
Not a single complaint. Zoe is a trooper.
And as for me...well, traveling with a three-year-old is less relaxing than, say, my solo trip to London, but it's been mostly great. I've been enjoying some amazing views of some seriously breathtaking mountains, and I had tons of fun at Tweetsie, too. Plus, today there was a piece of the hike which was maybe a little too complex for Zoe, so she and I sat on a bench and waited for Charles to go check it out. When he got back, he said it was great, so he and Zoe started back for the car while I went to go see. I promised to catch up. The view to which I climbed was pretty amazing (waterfall, trees, valleys, mountains...wowsa!), but my favorite part was trying to "catch up." I decided to jog (even though I was hopelessly ill-equipped), and seriously, it's been years since I did any sort of running on hills. I'd forgotten how FUN it is!!! So that was a lovely moment in an equally lovely day for me.
Oh - and the hot tub? Gonna be great for some sore hiking muscles.
Charles, Zoe and I are in Boone, NC, to attend a friend's wedding (but to all you would-be criminals who want to rob our house knowing we're out of town, please know that our house is protected by a FIERCE and FEROCIOUS dog, as well as wonderful neighbors who are VERY attentive). A couple months ago, when we heard about the wedding, we decided to make a proper vacation of the trip and rented a small cabin on a river for a full five days.
So here we on in the mountains, where it is breathtakingly beautiful at all turns, where little tourist traps offering gem mining and fossil factories line the windy roads, and where Charles would love to live.
Really, it is gorgeous here. We got our first view of the mountains yesterday about four hours into our five-hour drive, and it was sooooo nice to be out of the lowcountry where we live. And then, our ears started popping. And then Zoe, who had been damn near angelic for most of the trip, had just about had it. And then, to get to our cabin, we turned down a gravel road that is lined on one side with one house's private art (junk) collection. And I've seen the movie "The Last House on the Left" far too recently, and I began to freak out. A little.
So we got our bearings in the cabin, then headed out to find some food. We wound up eating dinner at a Japanese steakhouse, Zoe's first hibachi experience. It was totally random, and not what we'd have typically picked while on vacation (we like fancy food, I'll admit it), but it was perfect. Zoe loved the "cook on the table" show, and we relaxed, me with two glasses of strong red wine.
So then, we came back to the cabin, and we tried to take a walk on the river. Which I cannot do when I've had two glasses of wine. At least not without sitting down hard on my bottom after slipping on some algae. Whoops. I felt even more insecure.
We let Zoe stay up late to try to look for fireflies (she'd never seen any) but it apparently gets dark super-late here, so suddenly it was 9:00, Zoe was falling apart and so was I, and still, no fireflies.
We learned last night that you cannot expect a child to sleep in an unfamiliar, dark, kind of creepy room on her first night in a little cabin. She finally fell asleep on the couch, but not after one of her most impressive meltdowns ever.
Oh well, lesson learned.
I'll be honest, I was ready to throw in the towel by then. I was exhausted, frazzled, and I swear I kept expecting to see a creepy face out every window I saw. I wanted my own bed in my bright, sunny house.
But we persevered, and things were much better this morning...except for a dizzy-spat I can only attribute to the much higher altitude here...my head was swimming for much of the morning.
But still, we persevered more. We headed out to explore the Blue Ride Parkway and it was AMAZING. We stopped at a "Craft House" (gift shop) and explored around this old mansion a bit, and even got to pet some horses. A few miles up the road, we stopped again to hike a "moderate to strenuous" trail that was so much fun I wish we could do it every day. Zoe kept up with us for a full mile (half mile out and back - we were afraid to push her much further than that) and was hilarious, hopping over and off of large roots and tree stumps. She only fell once, and hopped right back up to keep on hiking.
I'm glad we've found something we all love doing together, and I've already gotten much more comfortable in our cabin. Zoe's still having some sleep issues (translation: no nap) so tonight's wedding might get a little hairy for us, but still, it's going to be beautiful.
Oh, and the weather? When we left Charleston yesterday at 9 a.m., it was already pushing 90, with near 80% humidity. Here? Oh, it's been in the 70s. All day. I hiked in jeans and a hoodie. AMAZING. So we'll be staying the full five days.
Stinking, fuming mad. I just did a bunch of push-ups, hoping to release some energy, but they didn't help, and now I'm panting in addition to being mad.
I've realized that I must have Anger Management Problems and probably need to spend a bunch of money on some sort of Anger Management Therapy in order to keep from turning, sometimes, into the very ugly, very hideous, very not-so-incredible Hulk.
As it turns out, Zoe is a button pusher, and I have never been one to handle having any sort of buttons pushed. Because you see, sometimes I get angry, and trust me: you won't like me when I'm angry.
Take tonight, for instance.....
Zoe's been having a hard time going to bed for a couple months now. It's a phase, I know, and it's only gotten worse since she spontaneously gave up her pacifier a couple of weeks ago. We put her to bed at the same time we always have (7:30) and some nights it's 9:00 before the crying and the requests for potty and drinks of water quiet enough for her to actually fall asleep. I'd love to say she can just stay up till 9, but the thing is, it's already a struggle to get her out of bed for school in the morning, and if I change my work hours to later, I lose time with her in the afternoon. So 7:30 pretty much HAS to be her bedtime, but she fights it every night.
And I HATE it. Something about this nightly process gets under my skin, raises my heart-rate and my anxiety to dangerous levels.
So we've been trying to cope. But most nights I wind up angry.
Tonight we decided to try something different, a new routine. Instead of getting pajamas on, coming down for a story then heading immediately back up to bed, we would let Zoe wind down a bit more with a show. She loved the idea, and requested Peter Pan.
Netflix only streams a Broadway version of the play from a few years back, so I put that on and Zoe sat, enthralled, for about 30 minutes. Then it was time for bed.
And oh my GOD, the drama tonight!! She cried. She yelled. She begged. She pleaded.
We tried ignoring. We tried placating. We tried hugs and kisses and love. And when all else failed, and I could feel the anger bubbling up from my toes to my stomach to my chest, where it always explodes, I tried threats.
And what did I use to threaten her? The one thing that I've been COUNTING on this week, that I've been looking forward to more than anything.
She was going to spend the night at my parents' house. A whole night! A night away from the dreaded bedtime routine. A night for Charles and me to relax and maybe go see a movie. And most importantly, a MORNING of not having to get up at the crack of dawn to dive head-first into another busy day. A morning where, if Zoe got up early, she'd be in an entirely different house, and I could stay in bed and be lazy, dammit.
Yep, no sooner did the words come out of my mouth than I was wishing I could pull them back. "Zoe, if you cry one more time, you can't go to Sassy's tomorrow night."
Oh. Shit. What was I thinking?
And I couldn't take them back.
But it seemed to work, for about five minutes. Five minutes of blissful, lovely quiet.
But then the shouting started again.
"MOMMY! YOU NEED TO COME BACK UP HERE!! MOMMY!!"
And it took all my energy not to punch a wall.
So instead, I got angry, and out came the Hulk. I could feel it. I don't turn green (quite), but I hold my self different. My hands are clenched, my shoulders are raised. I stomp up the stairs and I yell.
Oh, how I yell. And I hate myself while I do it but I can't stop the words from coming out.
"THAT'S IT, ZOE! YOU ARE IN TROUBLE NOW!"
Who SAYS that to a three year old? I mean, really? Who?
Apparently I do.
And tonight, I finished with, "You will NOT be going to Sassy's tomorrow. I can't let you go, knowing you won't go to bed like a big girl."
Yep. That's me, too. I hit below the belt. Zoe's so proud of being a big girl lately, and I just told her she wasn't one.
And now, minutes later, I'm angry. At Zoe. At Charles (who has done NOTHING wrong, mind you, other than, you know, marry me and have a beautiful child with me).
But mostly at myself. Sometimes I feel like I ruin everything.
Gah. It's so ugly. I hate it.
And by tomorrow, when I'm not angry anymore, I'll want to send her to Sassy's anyway, to tell her it's all ok and I'm sorry for fussing and she can go if she wants. Actually, I'm dying to go wake her up and tell her that now (for the record, she only went to sleep because Charles is now laying on her floor, probably sleeping himself).
But I know I shouldn't. I need to be consistent so she learns her actions have consequences.
But couldn't I have at least thought of something ELSE? Like, no fun picnic lunch with me tomorrow? Can't I backtrack just a little?
I don't know. I'll have to see what Charles thinks in the morning. So for tonight, I'll sit here a while longer, do a few more push-ups, then probably toss and turn all night long, hating myself for losing my temper yet again.