The October Train

Here’s a look into my therapist’s office.

I’m in a pretty angry place again.  It’s hard to be angry with someone who’s not alive.  It’s a mess of emotions, let me tell you.

Jana says gently, “Tell me what you’re mad about.”

I tick things off with my fingers, listing my grievances.  That’s when I realize my hands had been clenched so tightly that my fingernails have left half-moons in my palms.

“Have you written about it?”

I flinch.  “No.”

“Well, I’m going to need you to.  We’ve got to get into this.”

“I don’t want to.”

“I know.  But look at you.  This mess has to come out.  So give yourself time to write about it, and then give yourself time to recover from writing about it.”

“Well, that’s just it.  Let me tell you about my next two weeks.”  Conferences, book deadlines, travel, meetings with publishers, endorsements, parent teacher conferences, football games, gymnastics… I’m a whirlwind, to my own detriment.

“Ah, it’s October.  That’s right.  Tricia in October.  We’re about to hit the ground running.  She won’t be ‘falling into’ anything.  She’s running, headlong, as fast as she can.  Okay, Tricia, do tell.”

I laughed out loud.  I always forget my own patterns. But of course this is happening.  Every year in October, I have this sprint of action and behavior and decisions, just before ‘the holidays’ hit in November.  It’s like I think if I can get a running start, I’ll stand a better chance.

 

Jana continued.  “Tricia, I could ask you to slow down, but I think you’d just blow right past and think, ‘Did someone say something?  What was that sound?  Ah, well, it’s a dot on the horizon now.  I’ll catch her on my next lap.’  So I won’t try to slow you down.  I’ll just get on board.  Tell me where we’re going in the next two weeks.”

This is the October Train.  Apparently the best advice is to get on, or get out of the way.  For better or for worse, this girl is on the move.

One More Fist Bump, Baby.

I meant to wake up at 6:30. That was the plan. But the sound of my alarm wove itself right into my dream, and I slept right through it, as if this were any old day – not The Day we had been waiting for. I got up at 7:15. Not a travesty in the realm of preparedness, but not what I had planned.

 

And so began our day of travel.

 

Robb was a very timely, punctual, efficient man. Efficient in every way. Efficiency was a hobby of his, I’m pretty sure. And traveling was a science, the ultimate test in organization and efficiency. If he told me the plan was to leave at 8:00, I eventually learned that the top secret plan, revealed for security clearance only, was to leave at 7:45.

 

Best to be early. (I never was.)

 

Turns out, I’m raising his son, and the morning was very reminiscent of traveling with Robb. Tucker was irate over the delayed schedule.

 

“Mommy, why? Why did you sleep in?”

“I didn’t mean to, buddy.”

“Why didn’t you wake up the first time you heard the alarm?”

“I meant to. That was the plan. And then it just didn’t happen.”

“Why did you stay up all night?”

“I didn’t. I went to bed right after you did.”

“Then why didn’t you wake up?”

“Oh, Tuck, just because I didn’t. It’s called oversleeping.”

“I don’t understand it.”

“I know.”

 

We raced around the house. Scratch that. I raced around the house. Tucker followed me with a moment-by-moment update on what time it was and how late we were and how narrow our margin had become.

 

I sit here on the plane, absolutely incredulous that we made it here in three hours. Everyone took their medication(s), we took Max to his version of Puppy Camp, navigated airport traffic, and traveled through security like total professionals at this traveling gig, as if this isn’t our maiden voyage in the world of traveling with Mom on a business trip. We even had time for pancakes and Sprites at McDonalds.

 

(The idea of pancakes and Sprite makes my mouth tingle a little bit, but whatever. I choose my battles.)

 

The only thing I forgot are headphones. So, a big fat kudos to the people around me who are allowing minimal volume in our row as the boys watch Tom & Jerry and The Three Stooges. No, seriously. Thank you.

 

2 boys.

1 mom.

1 nanny *extraordinaire.* (G.)

4 suitcases.

4 backpacks.

1 Nikon.

2 laptops.

4 movies.

6 iProducts.

7 items of reading material.

732 snacks.

Boarded and ready for lift-off.

 

An unbelievably smooth transition. A complete success. G and I keep reaching across the aisle to give each other victorious fist bumps. Seriously, give me another bump, G. We kicked it.

 

You would think we just won the Amazing Race.

 

We kind of did.

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Two Boys and a Business Calendar

“Guys, I have such a great idea. I am starting to plan my calendar for the winter and spring, because sometimes I’ll be traveling to speak and teach and talk about the book. I was thinking… would you like to go with me on those trips?”

Their eyes lock with one another, sparkling with pictures of airplanes and suitcases and adventures. “Yes! Yes!”

“I’m thinking I will take one boy at a time, and you can each be my helper for the trip.”

“And I will go on the first trip with you,” says one who is still learning to put others first.

“Well, we will have to look at our calendars – school, gymnastics, football – all of those things, and decide when its best for each of you to slip away with me. So I’m not sure who will go first. But I am excited to plan with each of you.”

“I have an idea, Mommy. Why don’t you just send us?”

And there we have it, my friends. I’ll send my children and a meal plan. Done.

Two Movies and Some Sour Patch Kids

Robb and I had a no good, very bad, terrible, horrible history of watching movies together. Any trip to Blockbuster ended in an argument and extreme conclusions drawn about ourselves and our marriage.

He had lots of rules for which movie to pick.
If it doesn’t have enough big names in it, then it probably isn’t good because they couldn’t interest any good actors to be in a movie that sucks.
If it has too many big names in it, then it probably isn’t good because they had to invest in so many good actors and big names because the script and plot and story suck.
If it is on the rental shelves too soon, that means it didn’t last in the box office very long, which means it sucked.
If there are too many copies available on the shelves, that means nobody wants it, which means it sucked.
And nothing, ever, with Woody Allen’s name listed as an actor, director, producer, or endorser.

Add to this list of rules: I invariably, without fail, chose poorly. But a bad movie is still a movie, and I wanted to watch them.

I had this idea that we would be a couple who watched movies after bedtime, on the weekends, on date nights. That we would talk about what it afterward, I would compare it to the book without remotely expecting him to read it, and when the Oscars came around, we would have half an idea of what was going on.

We were not that couple. There are certain things you come to terms with.

But, I’m reinventing myself now, and guess what? The new me: she watches movies.

I caught a double header at the theater on Tuesday night. I saw The Way, Way Back – which I loved, and I will give two thumbs up and I’ll tell you why in another post that’s not about reinventing myself.

When that one ended, I still had over two hours on the babysitting meter, and Jobs (also two thumbs up, also another blog post in the wings) started in seven minutes. Just enough time to get a ticket.

Yes, I thought of quietly slipping into the theater and catching this second movie for free. But I didn’t want to sell my integrity for $10.50. Plus, they strategically put the second movie on the other side of the theater, so one would have to walk right through the lobby looking like a redhanded criminal of piracy.

So I bought a second ticket for my second viewing. And – wait for it – Popcorn, a large diet Coke, and Sour Patch Kids, the ultimate movie candy. And I only needed to take out a second mortgage for all of the above. And ‘butter flavored topping’ both cracks me up and creeps me out.

Sometimes I feel like such a grownup.

This was how I celebrated Robb’s birthday. I wanted to celebrate in a way that would refresh and renew, yet not require me to think about the fact that it was my husband’s birthday. Two movies = Perfect.

Aside from being the ultimate movie candy, those Sour Patch Kids are pretty much the perfect analogy for such an evening by myself: just enough sweet to make it not too sour.