Episode 209 – HATS!!

Click in the thumbnail above to view the full-sized webcomic!

Whoops! I could have sworn I put this blog post together and scheduled it to go up yesterday. I know it was drawn and ready to go on Friday. Oh well, I guess it got overlooked in the pandemonium of getting ready to take Girl Scouts camping.

Anyhoo, here it is. I know I spend more time volunteering than I do on anything else, and it drives me crazy. And the Hubster is in the exact same boat. We love the volunteer work, but I feel like it's taking over too much of our lives at times. I'm hoping we find ways to balance things out a bit more. We'll see how successful we are at that in the future.


Episode 32 – Laundry Karma

I know, I know. It’s about damned time, isn’t it? All I can say is I’ve been swamped… by laundry, among other things.

It seems to be a rule in my house – if there are piles of laundry waiting to be washed, dried, or folded, my world must be in total chaos. If, however, I can manage to get the laundry done and folded and keep up with it every day, then life goes smoothly. I call this laundry karma. It’s sort of like feng shui, only instead of rearranging the furniture, I have to deal with detergent and dryer sheets and dirty socks.

So while the laundry has been piling up these last several weeks, I’ve been doing my damnedest to churn out stories for the Heat Flash Erotica podcast, make cover art for one of my publishing clients, and attend various conventions. I wrapped up convention season on Memorial Day weekend with Balticon, and what a blast that was! Viv and Chooch from Into The Blender hosted a webcomic/podcast novel party where people where invited to come dressed as their favorite cartoon characters. Guess who I went as?

Since Balticon, I’ve been going nuts trying to keep up with work and Princess’ school. I swear, her class had more parties in the last two weeks than a high school graduating class on a trip to Cancun! Today was the last day of school though, and that means no more having to quit work at 3PM to be at the bus stop for a few weeks. We do have two weeks of afternoon swim lessons coming up, but I can deal with that because I can take the netbook or my drawing pad with me and knock out some work while Princess swims (Pixie will go into the nursery so I can have an hour of peace and quiet). But after that, we are home free of obligations. I’m keeping summer simple this year, with plans to garden, hit the local swimming pool, visit a few local museums, and in general get back on track with writing and cartooning. Here’s hoping I can get into a cartooning groove and stay there!

Things I Suck At As A Mom

I really should be working right now, but the current free-for-all/play date going on upstairs has inspired me to write the following list of Things I Suck At As A Mom.

  1. Mommies groups. Never joined one that I really fit into. Mostly because I am a Freak Mama, and mundane mamas scare/irritate me.
  2. Chit-chat with non-Freak Mamas. Related to item #1. I have very little in common with most non-fandom or non-freak moms, so doing the whole polite talk thing is painfully awkward for me (as I’m sure it must be for them to talk to me).
  3. Play dates with children of non-Freak Mamas. I do not relate well to other people’s kids at the best of times. Dealing with kids whom I am afraid will contaminate my kids with such anti-Freak ick like “Hannah Montana” or “Bratz” just drives me up the wall.
  4. Cooking dinner. Hubster used to do ALL the cooking, because I honestly never learned how. And since I get up at 5AM, my brain usually shuts down around 5PM, which is of course the magic hour at which dinner is expected to be prepared.
  5. Packing school lunches. I don’t know why I suck at this one. I had to pack my own school lunch for years when I was in school. Somehow, I can’t pull it off for the Princess. It may be that many times we don’t have what I need on hand to make said lunch (because I also suck at grocery shopping, yet another task the Hubster does). It may be part of the whole “brain shuts down at 5PM” thing. I just can’t say.
  6. Children’s parties. I think kids’ birthday parties should be small simple affairs. I don’t like renting inflatable bouncy death traps, nor do I like hiring evil clowns/magicians/balloon animal artists. I prefer simple parties at home. However, right now my home has no downstairs bathroom, no patio furniture, no grill, and no linoleum in the foyer. Also no fence, so no way to coral screaming children. Makes it hard to host a simple barbeque in the backyard.
  7. House cleaning. I’m too damn busy being Freak Mama and doing my writing/graphic arts thing to get around to this one. And don’t even ask about decorating the house. I decorate with dust bunnies, okay? That way all the rooms in the house match!
  8. Sleep-overs. I have not yet even attempted to have one at this house. I just can’t stand other people’s children long enough to force myself to suffer through one. I live in fear of the day I do have to do it.

This list probably doesn’t even begin to cover the things I suck at as a mom, but right now I’ve got small screaming children in the house tearing things apart, so I have to go.

What do you suck at as a parent?

Techno Tuesday – not your mother’s "stay-at-home"

Technology and stay-at-home motherhood are subjects near and dear to my heart. As a work-at-home, write-at-home mom, I spend a lot of time online. Blogging, Twitter, e-mail, Firefox… the internet is a huge part of my life.

My own mother was a stay-at-home mom for the first few years of my life. Back then, we lived in a tiny, rural area of Georgia, miles away from any town. Fort Benning, the Army post where my dad was stationed, was about an hour’s drive away. We had neighbors, but nobody Mom (the city girl from Philly) felt close too. And my dad? Between his assignment at Fort Benning and the master’s degree he was pursuing, he was pretty much gone most of the time. So for two years, it was just Mom and me out in the middle of nowhere.

When I was three, Mom went back to work. She had to. Not for financial reasons but because she was going stir crazy. It’s a feeling I understand all too well. When your only companion for weeks on end is a three-year-old who endlessly babbles, throws tantrums, and gets into stuff she shouldn’t, you start to feel the walls closing in. My mom had an epiphany the day she ran me to ground, grabbed me by the pony tail, and prepared to nearly smack me into the next decade. She stopped, just in time, and realized that if she continued to stay home with me, it wouldn’t be good for either one of us. She had to get out of the house; she had to have adult contact. She had to get a job.

Flash forward thirty-seven years. Now I am the stay-at-home mom, living in a suburb where I rarely ever see the other moms in the neighborhood. Either they work, or their kids are much older than mine and so they’ve got different schedules, or there’s a gap between our personalities that’s too wide for me to want to bridge (freaky goth mom here, remember?). Michael frequently works late or is away on business, and my constant companion is…

A babbling, tantrum-throwing, getting-into-stuff-she-shouldn’t two-year-old.

I love Pixie, but honest to god, some days she just drives me crazy. Like my mother, when things get too nuts and I’m ready to blow my top at my adorable girl, I realize I need adult contact. Unlike my mother, I have more options. I have Skype, Twitter, e-mail. I can work from home, sending artwork and writing to clients via e-mail. I can give myself a purpose outside of motherhood all from the comfort of my own desktop. I am so plugged in, in fact, that I have not one but three computers in the house, all dedicated to me and they’re all plugged into the net. Whether I’m in the bedroom, the office, or the kitchen, a sane (or even just semi-sane) adult is only a mouse click away. It’s all I need to keep myself together.

These days, my mom lives out in rural Arkansas, miles away from the nearest town. Still the city girl, still the outsider, she doesn’t have any close friends within easy distance. She does have a computer and e-mail, but living in such a rural area limits how much connectivity she has via that medium. She can’t even get cell phone reception without getting into her car and driving to the top of the mountain my folks live on. Thus at the age of seventy, she’s still working at a grueling job because if she doesn’t she knows she’d go nuts.

I wonder myself how I’d fare out in those circumstances. Could I survive long-term without Firefox, Skype, Twitter, or e-mail? Would I eventually run my darling Pixie to ground, ready to murder her because I was too stir crazy to stop myself?

I hope I never have to find out.

Poetry? The Walk

I make no claims to being a poet. This is simply what came to me yesterday as the Pixie and I walked through our neighborhood in the rain.

The Walk

The world is mine today
Empty, abandoned
In the wake of some apocalypse
I must have slept through this morning

Dull little houses line
Oil-slicked streets
Blank windows, locked doors
Sing a requiem
for Suburbia

The ground is black
And bitter as used coffee grounds
The sky is gray
As my mood
Or the hair I found
This morning

One wiry antennae
Sticking straight up
From my skull
Receiving all messages of
Doom and gloom

Doom and gloom
Gloom and doom
Mist wraps around me
A second, clammy coat
My bat black umbrella
Flaps overhead
The leaden sky bleeds acid rain
Forcing all the sugar mamas
To stay inside
And gawk as I shuffle by

They’ll melt, they’ll melt
My god, they’d melt!
If they ever set foot outside

But I don’t have
That concern today
I’m old and sour
As a basket
Of assholes
And the rain, the rain
Fits me like a glove

Doom and gloom
Gloom and doom
The world is mine
The world is grey
And I shuffle through it
A zombie at home

In the damp, in the dead
In the swampy mists
Only one thing seems amiss
One small detail out of place
The little Pixie who dances
At my side

Her tiny pink coat
Is a shocking wound
In all this glorious misery gray
It rips me
Out of my stupor and into
A world where squirrels
Natter and birds
Shriek and shrill and puddles
Wait to be stomped

Splash and dash!
Dash and splash!
She flits around
The little busy buzzy bee
Tearing my world apart

Her high pitched giggle
Like a sword-thrust
To my senses
Simply kills my good bad mood
Like holy water on vampires
I am forced to step out of my
Steaming gothic remains
Into the world of the living

Splash and dash!
Dash and splash!
Look Mama
A bird!
A squirrel!
Another puddle!

The world is hers
Not mine
I hope I can surrender it
With grace

What I Miss

I miss…

  • Sleeping in on weekends.
  • Staying up late to watch movies or have sex.
  • Breakfast in bed.
  • Listening to grown-up music.
  • Having the weekend to myself, with no obligations to be anywhere.
  • Evenings out with friends.
  • Afternoon naps (mine and the kids).
  • Time to read.
  • Time to draw, just for fun.
  • Crayons.
  • Magic markers.
  • Trips to the craft store.
  • Trips to the fabric store.
  • Sewing.
  • Costuming.
  • Being Xena Wariror Milkmaid.
  • Watching Xena Warrior Princess (but only the first three seasons).
  • Regular workouts at the gym.
  • Long hot baths with bath oil and fancy body scrubs and candles and aroma therapy.
  • Long hair.
  • Red hair.
  • My pre-baby body, especially the knees.
  • Feeling relaxed and well-rested.
  • Fat, happy, sleepy babies curled up in my arms.
  • My two cats who passed away in the last two years.

I don’t miss…

  • Wondering if I’ll ever get pregnant.
  • Being single and living on my own.
  • Working at a ‘real’ job.
  • A big paycheck.
  • Not knowing what I want to do with my life.
  • College.
  • The Army Reserves.
  • The Army Physical Fitness Test.
  • Wearing a uniform.
  • Wearing a business suit.
  • My twenties.
  • My thirties.
  • My teens.
  • My acne.
  • My braces.
  • The ass-holes who tried to make life miserable for me in school.
  • School in general.
  • Any of my ex-boyfriends.

I turn 40 in a couple of weeks. There’s a lot of things I miss these days. Looking over my list, I realize I can fix most of those, if I want. Then there are the things I don’t miss. I’m glad I’ve moved along with my life and left those things behind.

What do you miss from your younger days? What are you glad you left behind?.

Episode 25 – This Is My Life!

Yes, this has been my life the last several weeks. Since November, I have struggled to survive the holidays, a convention (9 panels, 1 reading, an all-day author table!!), final edits on my new book Future Perfect, creating the cover art for said book, getting set up to join the “Oh Get A Grip” group blog (read us – we’re fun!!), keeping up with the Heat Flash erotica podcast which now airs on Thursdays at 8PM on Radio Dentata (streaming internet radio with teeth!!), clean the house, feed the kids, help the Princess with her homework, potty train Pixie, and somehow find a few moments to have sex with my husband.

Yeah, it’s been a little busy.

Things are starting to slow down a bit. I got my last major deadline out the door on Friday. I submitted a short story to Alessia Brio’s Coming Together: Al Fresco, and regardless of whether or not I make it into this volume, I highly encourage everyone to buy a copy of any of the Coming Together books (I do have a story in Coming Together: With Pride, if you’re interested). Coming Together is a charity anthology and all the proceeds go to the organization of choice for each volume. It’s doing good while being bad, and ya gotta love that.

So this week’s cartoon is just a glimpse into what’s been going on at la casa de Cynical Woman. I’m tired, but things are evening out and I hope to be back on some sort of regular schedule in the next couple of weeks. I’ll be at the Farpoint science fiction convention on Valentine’s Day weekend, the same weekend as the release of Future Perfect, so I will be gearing up for that, getting promo ready and preparing for the panels I’m on (only six this time, I believe). Otherwise, I’ll be turning my attention back to the podcast and this cartoon, putting in a little more time on my two favorite projects for a while. Hopefully, I’ll have another cartoon ready within the week. See ya then!

What I want to do this year.

I had meant to post my New Year’s resolutions the very first day of the year, but I’m still sort of stuck in 2008 thanks to a project I’m working on that won’t be over until next weekend. I hate this project, and can’t wait to get past it. It’s been taking up so much of my time at a point when I really need to be working on other things. I won’t say what said project is, but those of you that know me well know what I’m talking about. It’s something I volunteered for and I will never volunteer for this particular project ever again. Nope, no sir, couldn’t pay me to suffer through this misery another year.

Any way, let’s take a moment to look past next week and into the time when 2009 will finally start for me. I’ve been thinking about what I really want to do this year, things I’d like to change, things I’d like to start, things I’d like to finish, and here are some of my goals.

  • I want to work less and spend more time with my family. I spent several weekends in the library slaving away over this project I hate so much and missed a lot of time that I could have spent with my husband and kids. I don’t want to do that this year. Plus having a kid in school has turned out to be more demanding of my time than I thought, and I have no choice but to quit working at 3PM so I can focus on the kids.
  • I want to lose 10 lbs. Yeah, yeah, I know, everyone thinks I’m skinny and I’ve got nothing to complain about, but I’m starting to get that middle-age creep in my weight, and I swear, I don’t want to be 40 this year and be 10 lbs. over weight. I can lose the weight if I make a few changes, so that’s what I’m going to do. And I’m going to reward myself with a new summer wardrobe because for once, I’d really like to have something to wear in the summer that I can enjoy.
  • I want to read more. I got the mini-laptop for Christmas and promptly bought two erotica e-books. I was enjoying the first one very much, but the dreaded project I hate reared its ugly head and ate up all my reading time in addition to my work and family time. So after next weekend, when the dreaded project finally dies– er, I mean is finished, I want to go back to reading half an hour a night before going to bed. Just today I bought three more e-books through Fictionwise.com, and I can’t wait to sit and read them. Plus, I want to go to the library once a week as a family so we can all have a chance to browse and pick out books to read. I love the library. When I was a kid we used to go there every Friday night, and I want to start doing that again.
  • I want to play more games. We spent a week over the holidays with Michael’s family, and those guys play a lot of games! Cassie is old enough now to sit in a lap and play with someone, and on ocassion, she can even play a game herself (she’s not bad at Uno). I want to pick up some games to play with the kids and then some games I can play with Michael and other adults when they come over (I’m looking at you, Mary, John, Patricia, Vince, Patty, Lloyd, Rick, Cindy…). Games would be good!
  • I want to watch more TV. Not kidding on this one. I watch almost no TV these days beyond the ocassional half-hour of kids programs during the day. I had to give it up to do some of this work I’ve had all year, and it sucks. I miss watching all the cool sci-fi shows, and I’d really like to start watching some of the history and science programs that show up on PBS, Discovery channel, etc. I love those things. Plus I’m way behind on watching ‘Coupling.’ That show is such a scream! So yeah, I’d like to get in a little more tube time, just a couple of hours to vegitate and enjoy myself each week.
  • I want my hobbies back, at least one or two of them. I want to get back into sketching again, and maybe either beading or polymer clay again. I’m thinking polymer clay is more likely, since I can sit with the kids on a Friday afternoon and make little figurines with them (with Cassie anyway; Sam could make beads). It would be fun to have a hobby again.
  • I want to take the kids out to play more – swimming at the Y, hula-hooping in the backyard, long walks, hiking, working in the garden, etc. We don’t get outside nearly often enough, and I want to change that. I’m thinking I want to surprise Cassie and Sam by picking Cass up for school and then taking the three of us straight to the pool for an afternoon swim. That would be fun! And it wouldn’t take a lot of work either, just grabbing the swimsuits, towels, and shower stuff and tossing it in the car before Sam and I head down to the bus stop. I think we’d all really enjoy that.

Anyway, so those are my ideas for this year. More fun, a little less work. I still need to sit down and figure out the work schedule, because I do have things I need to accomplish writing-wise and art-wise this year, but I won’t be taking on anything that eats up all my time again, and I’ll work on just one project at a time, so this could work. One more week until I can get started. I can’t wait.

Oh Shit.

In honor of the late George Carlin, I flat out refuse to censor the title of this post, especially after what I had to deal with this afternoon.

It’s summer camp week in the Madden household. I tell you, I had a time finding a summer camp for Cassie – not too many places take pre-K kids. Technically, my girl is old enough and way smart enough for any camp, but 99% of them insist that your child be finished with kindergarten before they’ll accept them. Don’t know why; maybe they’re afraid the uncivilized little pre-K’s will eat the post-K’s alive.

So anyway, I found a camp at Virginia Living Museum and I signed Cassie up for it, completely forgetting that Cassie’s pre-school graduation was the same week, so I had to go back and cancel that. I lost ten dollars on that, but fortunately the Norfolk Botanical Gardens also has a summer camp that costs ten dollars less than VLM and they had dates available at a time when our calendar was clear, so I signed Cassie up for that and now she’s happily attending summer camp.

Unfortunately, Sam and I are attending with her. Cassie’s camp lasts from 9 AM to noon, and Norfolk Botanical Gardens is just far enough away that I can’t really justify dropping Cassie off and then going home, especially given how bad the traffic can be in that area. It has taken us anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to get to camp, and if I were to drop Cassie off and go home, chances are really good that I’d have to turn around as soon as I got back just so I could pick her up again.
Now I know I could just leave Cassie at camp and go somewhere else in Norfolk, but really, my only options are to go shopping at the local stores because three hours isn’t that much time for sight-seeing, and I don’t want to go shopping because I’m already losing enough money as it is on gas and camp fees on this venture. Sooooo, everyday this week we arrive around 9 AM at the garden, I drop Cassie off with her class, and then I grab Sam and the stroller and I take off into the garden for a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour…

Huh? Where was I? Oh year, three hours in the Norfolk Botanical Garden. It’s pretty much all outside, so you know what that means – no air conditioning. The temperatures have been in the nineties all week, and I’m thinking that between the heat and the exercise I get from lugging around Sam, her stroller and her snacks, I just might be another two pounds lighter come Friday. I know because this is just like Disney World all over again – heat + lots of walking + lugging around kids = negative weight gain. If I could patent this weight loss plan, I’d make a fortune. Oh wait, everybody already knows about the wonders of exercise, don’t they?

So we’re in the garden all day, hiking and sweating and practicing karate (which seems to only slightly scare the other visitors) because I have a review coming up tonight. Then around 11:45 I meet Cassie in the children’s garden and we walk back to the car and head home. Now I know that after three hours in that kind of heat, doing that much walking, I am exhausted. And Sam and Cassie should be too. Should be. Cassie has been nodding off at the drop of a hat all through the day, so no problems there, but Sam?

Sam. I’m gonna kill that kid.

I put her down in her crib shortly after we got back today. I know she’s tired. But did she go to sleep? No, she spent an hour or so singing in her crib. And doing other things.

Other things like pulling off her diaper and smearing herself, the crib, and all her toys with shit.

I discovered this activity when I passed by her room on the way to get myself a soda. The odor was overpowering, wafting out from under the door to permeate the hallway. I had to put Sam in the tub and scrub her from head to toe, then take all her bedding and crib toys and throw them in the washer. The room still smells like poop, which makes me wonder if I’ve missed a spot, but I searched and couldn’t find anything. My luck, I’ll step in it later tonight when I put Sam down for bed.

We have one more day of camp left, and then I’m praying that we go back to a quiet summer schedule – no more travel, no more unexpected trips, no more hours spent walking around in the heat just waiting to die. I want to stay home and work. Lord knows, I’ve got more to do than hours to do it in.

Better get crackin’, I guess.

Welcome To My Week-Long Total Freak Out

So I had a nervous breakdown or three this past week. Actually, I probably had even more than that. I have been stressed out for a while now, trying to get **WORK** done because I am a **PROFESSIONAL WRITER/ARTIST/STAY-AT-HOME-MOM** who has responsibilities and drop-dead-lines and a career to forge, blah, blah, blah, blah…

The last several months have just hit me like a steam roller, smashing me flat over and over again. It’s partly due to the amount of work that suddenly fell into my lap (four art commissions at once!), plus the extra work that I created for myself (New podcast! Write and record a new story every week! Promote EPIC VA and market your writing career! Make personal appearances at conventions!). And it’s partly the fault of my own anal retentiveness over the state of cleaning in the house (Must do laundry every day! Must mop and dust once a week! Scrub those toilets! Clean that shower! Scour that sink!). Oh, and don’t forget exercise (Swim 20+ laps three times a week! Karate class twice a week! Practice 2-3 times a week! Walk! Stretch! It’s good for you, dammit!).

Jesus Christ Almighty. Who the fuck was I kidding? Not even Wonder Woman could do all that every day. But I sure as hell tried. Have been trying for the last several months. I think it started back in August, when the art commissions came in. About that time I started up the EPIC VA group. And then I started working on the podcast in September. And the housecleaning thing? That particular losing battle got started the month before Sam was born. I can recall being eight months pregnant and having so much energy that I could get up at 4:30 AM **before my alarm went off** and being all excited about doing a couple of hours of housecleaning. Only it didn’t seem like a couple of hours, because I was doing the Fly Lady thing, and which turns housecleaning into 15 minute blocks scattered throughout the day, mixed in with 15 minute blocks of other stuff in between, like work, playtime with the kids, exercise, etc.

Not to knock Fly Lady, because she’s got some really good ideas there, but parceling my life out in 15 minute segments to do all the shit I thought I needed to do was really killing me.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to juggle too many chainsaws at once, and failing at it. On the days that I managed to do all the stuff I told myself I had to do, I felt like I was running one massive long marathon, with no end in sight. I was getting up almost two hours before Michael was (and resenting him for sleeping in) and going to bed an hour before he was. This made it seem like we lived in two separate time zones, even though we were in the same house. I only saw Michael when he was asleep, and many mornings this frequently led to me not getting out of bed at the ungodly hour of **5AM** because if I did, I was giving up quality time with my husband. Yeah, sleeping with my husband was considered quality time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the fun kind of sleeping with my husband.

What was really bad was what all this **WORK I HAD TO DO** was doing to my temper. I was so frantic and so harried and so overscheduled that I had no patience left, especially with the kids. I resented every minute I had to take to herd them along through the day. Five-year-olds and toddlers do not move fast, nor do they live their days parceled out in blocks of 15 minutes. I was yelling at both kids way too often, and then on top of it I was yelling at Michael because his attitude was a bit more slack than mine and he wasn’t doing things **EXACTLY THE WAY I WANTED THEM DONE, ESPECIALLY THE HOUSE CLEANING WHICH WAS DRIVING ME NUTS AND DIDN’T HE UNDERSTAND HOW HARD I WORKED TO TAKE CARE OF THE HOUSE AND THE KIDS AND HOW WOULD HE LIKE TO DO HIS OWN DAMN LAUNDRY BECAUSE I’M TIRED OF PICKING UP AFTER HIM**.

So yeah, this sort of shit has been going on for months now and last week it sort of all came to a head and I have three or four meltdowns in a row and then something miraculous happened.

The car went into the shop.

Huh? Say what? What does your car being in the shop have to do with melt-downs and sanity-salvation, Helen?

See, it was like this. The steering column in the SUV was making this horrendous squeaking noise every time I turned the wheel. I ignored it for a while, because I really, really didn’t want to spend several hours chasing Sam through the Saturn dealership while someone fixed my car. I had too much shit to do, see? And besides, I’ve been in that dealership often enough in the past few months that I’m sick of it. The people who work there are really nice and they’re very patient with Sam, but they make crap coffee. Anyway, the squeaking noise in the steering column got so bad that last week I finally couldn’t ignore it anymore so I finally broke down and made an appointment to have the car repaired on Friday. Only when I made it, I decided to drop the car off **the night before**. That meant I would be stuck at home all day Friday, unable to go to the gym or anyplace else, but hey, it beat being stuck at the dealership with the crap coffee with nothing to do but chase a screaming toddler.

So Thursday evening came. Everybody in the family had a raging cold that day. I had spent the previous several days killing myself to finish up a commission, which still needed a lot of work, and I was dead on my feet. When I picked Cassie up from preschool, I decided I was simply too fried to make dinner, so I called in an order for Chinese. Michael picked it up, brought it home, and we ate a really delicious but very-bad-for-us meal. Then we all piled into the cars and took the SUV to the Saturn place and left it there. When we got home, I sat down at my computer and went back to work on the bloody art commission that had become the bane of my existence. And I worked on it until 2AM.

Crazy, neh? Typical overworked stay-at-home mom shit. But then Friday came and this is where the miracle really started. Because I had been up until 2AM, **I decided to sleep late**. That’s right. I shut off all three of my alarms (because I’ve been so damned tired I actually needed **three alarms** to get my ass out of bed) and I slept in. I let Michael get Cassie up and ready for school. Somehow, they got themselves breakfast and made it out the door. I don’t know how. I slept through it all. And then around 9AM (oh my gawd, did I really sleep until 9AM?!), I woke up feeling pretty decent and got out of bed. And I made breakfast – Captain Crunch for me and yogurt for Sam – and I brought it upstairs to the master bathroom, and then I got Sam up and we both got undressed and we took a bath while we ate breakfast. And that worked out pretty well. And since I was feeling lazy and I’d been up so late and I didn’t have a car anyway so I couldn’t go to the Y, I decided to say, “Fuck it!” and didn’t bother to do any exercise. I did fold some laundry, but that was really more an excuse to listen to some podcasts. And I let Sam watch two hours of TV, which I watched with her while I worked on the bloody art commission. And while I did this, all I could think of was, Jeeze! When was the last time I watched TV? When was the last time I just goofed off?

The rest of the day went pretty much like that. We had a simple lunch with Michael (holy cow, we were both awake and talking!) and afterwards I took Sam out for a walk. While she ran around in the field behind our house, I followed along taking pictures of whatever caught my interest, and it was nice. The weather was warm, flowers were blooming, Sam played in the dirt and I had absolutely nowhere I had to be because hey, my car was in the shop.

Sam went down for a nap after that, and I kept working on the bloody art commission, which was now actually turning out to be kind of fun because by this point I had decided it was the only thing I was going to work on that day so now I could actually take some time to play around with it. And it came out sooooooooo nice. Mary’s seen it and she likes it so I know it’s good. And when it was done, I sent it off to the client and he likes it too, which means he’ll pay for it now and that makes **me** happy. Then around 5PM, Michael came home to get me and Sam and we all went to get Cassie at preschool and then we picked up the car and I took the girls home and make leftovers for dinner – Chinese with mashed potatoes and green beans. Yum!

And then we all watched some TV and I tinkered around with the art commission a bit more and bedtime came and the girls went down fairly easy and no one was shouting, especially me, and I stayed up too late after that but I didn’t care and I still got a good night of sleep because I slept through the alarm the next morning but I was only a little cranky about that because we still got to Cassie’s karate class on time and I was able to do the writing work I had meant to do at **bloody 5AM** while sitting in the dojo watching my girl do her Okinawa thing and then the rest of the day I just sort of relaxed and went along with the flow because I was wearing my favorite Hawaiian shirt with my favorite pirate socks and the weather was sooooooo nice again so I took the girls out for a photo safari and we took pictures of tree bark and tiny flowers and a little bumble bee and all the spring-is-in-the air stuff inspired me to write the coolest story for my podcast and then Mary and Shawn came over for dinner and karate and we all had a good time even though the pork chops I cooked turned out kind of lame.

And all this happened because the car was in the shop all day Friday.

I took a break. I had no choice – the damn car was in the shop. And afterwards I felt better than I had in months. So good that it makes me cry thinking about how damn hard I’ve been flogging myself to make things happen. So I’m rethinking some things this week. I’m going to keep wearing my Hawaiian shirts and just work on one thing at a time and I’m going to slooooooooooow down because honest to god, nothing I do has to happen except for taking care of the kids, my husband, and myself. I have been so stressed out over all this other shit that I told myself I had to do to succeed as a writer-artist-mom, that I felt like I was working back at Langley AFB again. And everyone who knows me knows how bad that job was. When I quit that place I swore I would never work under those conditions again. And yet somehow I recreated all that right in my own home. Well not anymore.

I’m goofing off today. I’m gonna listen to some podcasts while I fold a little laundry. I’ve got an article to start for ERWA. Maybe I’ll write a little flash fiction I’ve had in my head and send that in to the writer’s group. But I’m only doing those things because I want to, not because I have to. And none of it has to get done today. As for the other stuff that’s on my list? Well, all that shit can wait its turn, can’t it? I mean, it’ll still be there when I’m ready for it. I’m pretty certain of that.

So that’s all for now. Chill, dudes.