Day Four and I am still behind in my word count. I know, I know I should have started November 1. Instead I contemplated about NaNo most of that day. That’s what I tend to do–ruminate. Ruminate is a word I learned in sixth grade science class. Cows ruminate. They ingest their food, give a little cough and then chew for hours on it and it eventually turns in to cream. However, all is not cream that comes from a cow, and just like all that I think about, chew on mentally, does not produce lovely results. I bite off more than I can chew and rarely get cream, and that means I usually get the other end result for my efforts.
I really have a difficult time finishing things. I don’t know why. For instance, I wanted to start writing about why my parents move so much and how that has affected my ability, or lack of, to make friends, get involved and I go off about cows ruminating. Then again do I want to slide into that whole, “if-it’s-wasn’t-for-my- parents-I-would-be-such-a-fabulous-person-whine mode?” It’s pathetic I am trying to blame my parents for my commitment and socializing ineptitude. What a whiner I am. It’s time to go eat some chocolate.
The chocolate helped, although I can’t stop from thinking how if my parents had regular jobs, ones that involved working in banks, hospitals, or even chain mall stores, if that would prevent their constant moving. Being freelance writers they aren’t tied to any one company and can send their writing from almost anywhere. Dad’s enjoys writing about anything that interests him. He interviews politicians, investigates issues, reviews books, restaurants, movies, and writes essays. He occasional writes poetry and short stories. He’s been working on the same novel for the past five years. I don’t know if he’ll ever get it publishable. Maybe Dad has procrastination issues as well. More likely he’s too busy writing to be writing on his book.
My mom’s writing is a little different. She writes descriptions of clothing for different companies. I’m not as enthusiastic about her writing I know that sounds mean. On one hand, it’s awesome she works in the fashion industry, then again it seems kind of cheesy choice of writing at the same time. I know she could do something more with her writing abilities. I guess someone has to write about the blue coat the model is wearing on page 35. “Step into fall with style. This hip-length wool coat will keep the autumn winds out and the looks lingering. Five colors available.” That’s me, not my mom. You can see why I am not cut out for writing. She can, and has made decent money at catalog copy. She works from home, supplying copy for a different companies. It’s mainly Mom who wants to move around. “See the world. Experience new sights, new sounds, new restaurants. There is so much to see and so little time.” That’s Mom.
Dad is basically happy wherever home happens to be. Dad likes some routine, but he can write from anywhere. He plugs in his laptop and tunes out the world when he writes. I like to pick up a magazine and find his name and words on the glossy pages. Dad is gone quite often, going on research trips or going on location to get the information he needs. Mom and I are accustomed to his absences and I think because he travels more than Mom he doesn’t feel the need to move around so much. He likes to keep Mom happy, and when she wants to pack up and move that’s actually what we do.
Dad doesn’t care where we live, as long as there is a decent coffee shop within walking distance. Unfortunately, he doesn’t always get that wish. Mom rates higher than espresso. We have lived in some unique situations, mainly because of Mom’s need for adventure. Living in the yurt stretched him a bit. We had to hike two miles on the trail that took us to where we kept the Jeep. Being only eight I couldn’t have cared less about coffee and I loved waking up in the wilderness. I felt like we were living an outdoorsy Swiss Family Robinson adventure during that summer. I am so glad my parents did the wilder kind of living arrangements when I was younger. We have become more domesticated and traditional as I’ve gotten older. Teenage girls and their need for modern conveniences can dampen alternative lifestyle living arrangements. Even my mom can be reasonable and understanding about some things in life.
Moving around so much has had some drawbacks. Considering how bright and savvy my parents are supposed to be they didn’t clue in that I was “having problems” when I was younger. Mom thought my behavior was due to needing a multi-vitamin. Dad bought me more books to read and rolled the television set into the closet. It took a school counselor, one of the few, if not the only adults around me, to notice I was having difficulty in school.
Failing practically every subject in fourth grade and standing by myself at recess should have been a red flag clue. The counselor suggested changing schools so often could be “hampering my ability to stay focused on my studies, and could be attributing to my inability to make friends.” My parents actually listened. Dad even wrote an article about the mobile family and the effect on children for Parents magazine. We now try to finish out the school year before they get itchy feet and move somewhere else.
After fourth grade my parents kept their moving to only another part of whatever city we were living in. This meant with a little bit of effort I could usually attend the same school throughout the year. When I got into high school I did a rare thing: I demanded to graduate with my class. Eddie Liptenstein transferring to our high school might have had something to do with it, but more of it had to do with I was really, really, really tired of packing, unpacking, adjusting and readjusting. I had kind of a meltdown last year.
We were getting ready to move from our apartment with the view of the river and I realized how much I had grown to like my room and where we lived. I did not want to move. I wanted to wake up and count on the view being the same, knowing how long it would take to walk to school, when the mail arrived, and who our neighbors were. I sat down and cried. A fourteen and a half-year old girl hugging her tattered stuffed rabbit and wailing in the middle of her bedroom definitely gets attention from her parents. Soothing me and consulting each other, my parents came to a decision. Usually my mom takes the lead in decision-making, yet this time my dad made a rare show of firm decisiveness. Actually it was more of a off-hand negotiation, as he is much too mellow to get into a show down with Mom.
“Hon-“ he addressed me, sitting on my bed, looking a bit out of his comfort zone, “if you really like it here, we can stay. We simply didn’t know how much you liked it here.” I sniffed and nodded. He gave Mom a look and I knew that look said something like, “We are staying and that’s that.“ She didn’t argue with the look or Dad, and showed relief of not having to deal with her traumatized daughter.
From there Dad contacted the landlord, who was quite happy at us staying because he liked us very much. We pay the rent on time, never have parties, we don’t own any noisy pre-schoolers or pets. We also don’t have loud domestic quarrels and don’t blast music until the sheetrock shakes. We are a landlord’s idea of dream tenants. Even though we stayed and are still in the apartment and my parents are probably still congratulating themselves at staving off a monumental developmental crisis in their child’s life, I don’t think they understand the why I had the meltdown. They missed the whole point of why I had been so upset. The view and everything is great, but not so great I felt the need for a drama queen performance in order to keep from parting from it. The breakdown came down to this: I simply wanted normalcy. I wanted to be able to keep an address for more than six months, one year, even two years. It wasn’t like my parents have this ingrained pattern of moving like those kids raised in military families who grow up being stationed all over the place. Both Mom and Dad had grown up in houses that their parents still live in. I always feel a sigh of relief when we arrive at Gran’s. Nothing changes in her house–it’s very comforting. I can’t imagine having the same address for more than forty years.
Dad’s parents live in Scotland, and we rarely see them, but Mom’s parents still live in the house they bought when they first got married. They are perplexed by Mom’s need to move so much. They don’t like getting their Christmas cards returned with “no forwarding address” stamped on them and that they have to change our address in their address book once again. I heard Gran talking to Mom once.
“Is it because Tom can’t hold a job and has bad debts that you move so much, Sylvia?” My mom in her usual blunt way had replied, “Good grief, Mother. You know he is a freelance writer. He moves to go on location for a magazine piece sometimes. He makes good money. His income isn’t weekly, but he does well for a writer. Give him a break.” Gran, used to Mom’s less than tactful reproaches had deflected and asked her if she wanted a refill on her coffee.
I don’t know how long we will hold out in this apartment. Three years might set a record. If Mom starts getting itchy feet I might have to renegotiate. I better get my rabbit ready. The other day as I passed through the kitchen I noticed her laptop screen had a Google page of best smalltown ratings. It’s too early in the schoolyear for the Moving Around Blues.
- Tips for Staying Motivated (bigfuture.collegeboard.org)
- Day Three: Attention Defeated Disorder (veranano.wordpress.com)
- Your 4th Grader’s Social Life (education.com)