the ghost of lobster dinners past

1993: as near as i can figure, lobster dinners started christmas of my junior year of high school. the original guests included my parents and me. the menu has changed little since that first meal: lobster, baked potato, and a salad, although the salad dropped off in the early 2000’s because it just got in the way of the lobster, and wine became a more prominent component once i reached legal-ish age. the dinners were designed as a way to welcome in the christmas season by taking a moment to be thankful and grateful as well as serve as a collective “introverted” moment for the immediate family. our extended family (which had grown crazier over the years) would soon be upon us, bringing with them all the stress and drama that turned the three of us into angry little balls of crankiness that we usually “spared” our family from by taking it out on each other. lobster dinner was just us and something to look forward to while we were preparing for anything else.

1998: 1998 was a big year of change for the dinners. the first guest at lobster dinner happened out of necessity. although there was some brief talk of making my new boyfriend sit in the other room while we feasted, he had travelled to dallas with me to visit my family and that seemed rude, even for us. there was much joking about the “outsider” while we ate, but it was clear to everyone that he was a permanent guest. this was also the first and only year that lobster dinner occurred on christmas eve instead of a week or so earlier, thanks to the timing of our visit.

1998 was also the year that the lobsters started growing in size. wanting to impress his guest (although he claimed this was all they had), my father bought slightly larger lobsters. the next year, when it was our turn to host, we didn’t want to “look bad” so we stepped up as well, likely with even larger lobsters. when it became my father’s opportunity again, he stepped up to show off, and so on and so on, until in recent years, one or more of us has been unable to finish our share. a decade later, the lobsters are a full pound larger than the original dinner, and that’s only because once you get over 2.5 pounds, they become hard to purchase and a logistical nightmare to cook (every year we tell the story of that one 5lb lobster my parents had back in the late 70’s).

2006: lobster dinners continued as an annual tradition for almost a decade without much changing except for the venue and the unfortunate animals startled by a confrontation with an angry lobster on their kitchen floor. In truth, there wasn’t much noteworthy about 2006, except in hindsight. The four of us lingered longer on how fortunate and healthy we all were. Although my dad was suffering from some strange pains in his stomach, this was not a particularly note-worthy event. He’d suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and the complications of the harsh treatments for almost 20 years, and was doing better than ever. i remarked that 10 years previous, when he was having heart attacks and the treatments for his RA weren’t doing much besides make him sick, that i hadn’t expected him to see 60 years old. “there’s still time,” my dad said, full of uncharacteristic mirth and optimism. “i don’t turn 61 for another 5 months.”

and because sometimes life is like a ridiculously contrived plot point in a “feel-good” christmas special, that strange pain in his stomach was pancreatic cancer and he died 5 months later. 10 days before his 61st birthday.

2007: lobster dinner added two more guests. the first was our daughter, who was less than 6 weeks old and might have been asleep before the bright red beasts made their way onto our plates. the second was my father-in-law. tragedy hung out for quite a while that year and my mother-in-law passed away as well. it just made sense to open the group up for him as well. i don’t remember much, thanks to the fog of new-parenthood, but i remember breaking a dish and finding it a few days later and generally being in a bad mood. i suppose it was understandable, given all the circumstances.

2008: tonight will be the first dinner back at my mom’s house since my father died. i didn’t really catch the significance of that until a few moments ago. while packing charlotte’s clothes for her over-night visit with grandma, i started telling her about lobster dinner and explaining some of it’s history to her. for a brief moment i couldn’t remember why her grandpa was coming. and then i did. and then suddenly i hated lobster dinner.

lobster dinner 2006 was the last night with my family before Everything Changed. it is the last moment before a wave of harsh anniversaries starts assaulting my family and although the intensity fades around june, it doesn’t really let up until september.

avoiding lobster dinner doesn’t avoid all of that, but there’s a small part of me that really wishes it would.

mini-rant

you’ll either know what i’m talking about or you won’t and i’ve got too much other stuff going on to track down the related links.

you know what? being a parent sometimes sucks. sometimes it has ridiculous consequences like ruined clothes and broken backs and any number of less than awe-inspiring moments. it’s okay to acknowledge this. it’s healthy to do so. pretending like it’s all sunshine and roses and that you love every single moment of it and it’s nothing but pure bliss is dangerous to your health. AND the baby’s. forcing the rest of the world to comply with you so that you can keep up the charade is ridiculous and again, dangerously unhealthy.

your back hurts from carrying that kid around all day. i know it does. take the damn motrin already.

(posts related to NY and nanowrimo coming soon-ish)

cold november reign

here’s what’s happening in the next month (in general planning order and including the last week of october):

  • 3+ birthday parties: two dinners, one casino night. (ever wonder why the end of october and the beginning of november is so chock full of birthdays? valentine’s day is appx 38 weeks earlier.)
  • make hella baby food: finger foods are where it’s at, so i need to figure out how to turn squash and sweet potatoes and such into bits of cooked food without being mush and without having to steam and cut up stuff every day. i think cutting and roasting in the oven is where it’s at, but i’ve got to figure out how and do it. soon.
  • planning for charlotte’s birthday: aack! clean the house. finally put up her door-curtain. plan a menu. order food. etc etc.
  • picture time: planning and plotting to get the 3 of us to the photographers before the month gets too far under way. kill the 1 year pictures (ready for party handing out) and the christmas card pic in a single shoot…if we can make it
  • planning for NY trip: because planning, shopping, assembling will be quite time consuming. man needs a suit. we both need winter layers. i don’t want to go to NY looking like i stepped off a farm tractor.
  • VOTE! thank goodness that sample ballot arrived the other day so i can finally start investigating some of the local stuff.
  • charlotte’s birthday: gets it’s own item because it also includes planning
  • toddler transitions: figuring out and beginning all those transitions from baby stuff to toddler stuff. no more formula, “grown up” meals, etc etc.
  • charlotte packing: she may not be going to NY, but she’s still going to need some serious packing for her vaca with her great aunt/uncle
  • 5 day trip to NY: for a wedding + mini-vaca (leaving 3 days after charlotte’s birthday)
  • thanksgiving: complete with 3ish day trip to chicago planning is less of a deal, and fortunately, there’s a whole week after the NY trip to recover and regroup.

AND

i’m going to try and write a 50,000 word novel. i’ve succeeded before, but that was 2006, which was a very different (childless, NY-vacationless) year. my plan of attack is to task and calendar the entire month. i know that the “1800 words a day” plan is not going to work since there are too many days where i won’t have time to write more than 10. i’m going to have to double up and block out some serious time.

fortunately, i still have a week to plot the month, plot the novel, and plot the writing chunks. also, i can stay up late on 10/31 and get some done before midnight. and the plane rides and the airports and the car rides and….

man. i’m exhausted just thinking about it. maybe i’ll take a nap instead.

not my best day

so…it’s been a week. and then another week. …and then a third week? surely not. i think it’s only been the two. anyway, my “a week and then i’ll see,” week is totally up.

the first week was full of all sorts of potential planning. i didn’t get very far because, well, it wasn’t the week for that.

the first week was hard because i still had so much work-related information in my head. i still had ryan coming home with “well, today was messed up because we found out at the last minute…” and i could say “no, someone has known about that for three weeks.”

the first week was hope.

the second week went by in a blur.

the second week was half lists and todo items and half celebrating all my free time

the second week was telling myself how great it was that i had all this free time.

the second week was denial.

today is the third week.

today it’s hard to deny things.

today i look at my facebook and think, “if i was a friend from a past life that i hadn’t talked to in 5 – 10 years, i would think i’d become one of those women who lives their lives through their husband and children.”

today i look back over the last 2 weeks and realize that i was never not with my baby.

today i think more and more that i got a “we’ll still be friends” speech when i was let go.

today i realize that i’ve been avoiding feeling hurt.

today i admit that being “of use” to my husband and my baby and my family is probably not good enough.

today i admit that i haven’t made any plans because plans are scary and i’d rather just wait until i can’t stand it anymore…like i do when i’m in control.

tonight i wallow in this feeling.

tomorrow i wallow in this feeling.

the rest of my week is booked, so i’ll be too busy to notice i’m wallowing.

next week i get the hell over myself and fix it.

2007: in review

so, how’d i do?

drink less soda (maybe 1 a day?)

well, i’m not sure what “less” was before i got pregnant, but due to pregnancy and breastfeeding, i’ve cut back to 1-2 “doses” of caffeine a day. that’s certainly less than the “triple venti” mornings i used to have. i’d call this one accomplished    

drink way more water (some in the form of tea)

went above and beyond while pregnant. i could stand to drink a bit more water than i do right now, but i know it’s way more than i used to. accomplished    

wean myself mostly off of caffeine by march-ish

heh. one or two cans or a single grande bevvy *is* weaned for me. accomplished    

exercise regularly (once week by march, adding a “once” every week every quarter)

heh. no. missed    

read one book a month (pitiful goal, i know, but considering i read about 3 all 2006, it’s not an unrealistic one)

also no. i think i managed about 6 books total, and all but harry potter 7 were pregnancy/labor/baby related. so very missed    

write (at least 6 hours a week)

oh god no. if i couldn’t find time to read, there’s no way i could find time to write. i tossed a few blog posts out there, but as far as *writing* goes, 2007 was a wasteland. missed    

eat better (one “take out” meal a day, healthier choices in general)

while pregnant, i only gained 15 pounds. since giving birth i’ve lost almost 40. i’ve been healthy the entire time. while i’m not eating rabbit food, i have drastically redefined what a portion is. i’m closer to my goal weight today than i have been in almost 6 years. i’d call that accomplished    

take my vitamins

can’t build a healthy baby without ’em! accomplished    

finish ryan’s scarf before spring

oh. right. i remember that scarf. missed    

and the lofty “i have no control, really” goals:sell the house

finally happened in february. accomplished    

move into the loft

sold in june, moved in during july. accomplished    

get pregnant

healthy, beautiful baby girl was born in november. accomplished    

find a cure for various forms of cancer

missed this one and lost so much as a result.    

take a really-real vacation (or two, or three, or more)

made it to seattle. nobody went to florida. had to skip out on the NY trip, and i barely remember wanting to go to mardi gras except to not be here. mostly missed    

buy some shiny new apple things (won’t be able to help myself)

…i think i bought an ipod? will probably get a new laptop this year, depending on what apple brings. accomplished    

earn lots of money to support all these goals ;)

…i managed to not get fired, despite my horrendous attitude, multiple week-long absences, and drastically decreased productivity. heck. they even gave me a raise! accomplished    

…you know what? looking back, i feel almost satisfied. i have a feeling my 2008 goals are going to look quite different, but i’ll save that post for another moment.