Getting So Much of the Not Having of the Sleep – Day One in Barcelona, Spain

“I feel like I am going to DIE,” I whispered from 17F across the plane seats as we jetted toward Spain.  It was midnight to my body, Eastern Standard Time, and I had been upright for 18-plus hours.  Kid A, my sisters, and I had flown into Atlantic City from Atlanta the day prior, then traveled on Monday in a monsoon by bus-limo to the Philadelphia Airport to take a flight to Barcelona, which would land 8AM on Tuesday.  I hadn’t gotten a wink of sleep.

"There's a colonial woman on the wing!  She is dressed in traditional colonial garb." - Annie, Bridesmaids (2011)

“There’s a colonial woman on the wing!” – Annie (after she mixed alcohol with Xanax during a flight to Vegas), Bridesmaids (2011)
P.S. I really took this photograph on our flight from Atlanta to Atlantic City.  Isn’t it so cool?

“It’s like when you have a newborn!” exclaimed Sister B, who was against the window in 17A.

From 17 D, Sister C agreed.  “Yeah, I would trade just about anything for some sleep right now.”

Kid A had been sleeping in 17C for three hours.  Teenagers can sleep anywhere.

We were so jealous.

“I would trade my first-born for a reclining pod in First Class,” I admitted.  “And conveniently, she is on this plane with me.”

There was no one in 17E, but we still couldn’t get comfortable enough to rest.  And there were miles to go before we would sleep.

We arrived in Spain to beautiful weather… it was bright sunshine and 80-plus degrees outside.  After waiting and gathering our luggage, and a quick power nap for me on a cold, marble pillar nearby, we boarded a short shuttle to our port of departure.

Conveniently, we were able to go to our rooms on the ship earlier than expected.  Our luggage hadn’t arrived yet, but we quickly got the lay of the land and saw the room we would call home for the next twelve days at sea.  “Tiny” was a generous description, especially with three of us sharing a berth, but no matter.  This was going to be an adventure!

The Royal Princess was scheduled to push off later in the day.  We weren’t due to be on board until 5:30PM, so several of us decided to tour Barcelona for the day.  We took a bus into the marina district and we walked from there.

For those of you still keeping track, none of us had slept since a couple of nights prior.  And we were getting a little punch-drunkety.

We made our way through the narrow, crowded streets as we held our purses close to our bodies.  We walked around with cameras pointed at the architecture and other unique sights in an attempt to capture the feel of the city in just a few short hours.  All I could see was graffiti, discarded McDonald’s wrappers, some fairly unsafe construction, and a lot of other tourists.

It is weird what sleep deprivation can do to you.  I was exhausted on a cellular level.  Yet, I still thought it was beautiful.  And I was in Spain.  Amazing!

After much walking and a little window shopping, we finally found the Museu Picasso.  I remember seeing paintings and vases and pitchers and sculptures, but I only saw them with my eyes, not with my heart or soul.  I didn’t feel any connection to the artist at all.  Utter and extreme weariness trumped everything at that point.  My dad sat on a bench by the gift shop.  He sighed and said he  thought he was missing the art gene.

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“Picasso used to say to me, ‘The smell of opium is the least stupid smell in the world'” – Jean Cocteau

Really and truly, how high was Picasso when he painted that?

Eventually, it was All Aboard.  We also desperately needed showers.  So we checked in and we scrubbed and rinsed the travel off of our bodies just in time to follow the crowds to our assigned Muster Stations for a quick safety drill.

We were barely still standing upright as we carried our bulky, orange accessories down to a dining room, with the rest of the people with whom we could potentially share a life boat or a deserted island for the rest of our days.

A message was delivered via loudspeaker from the ship’s captain.  He sounded exactly like the school principal from the television show Glee.  Every night for the rest of our cruise, when the captain would address the ship from the bridge, I would make the same comparison and think what a wicked shame it is that that talented Cory Monteith boy died earlier this summer.  Oh, Finn… such a waste!

During the rest of our practice at Muster Station F, we sat at a table with a mother and her daughter.  The teenage daughter was not yet unplugged and she was fiddling on her phone.  The mother was lost in her own thoughts, but likely hearing Sister C, Kid A, and I as we mumbled how completely and utterly tired we were.

I had become completely nonsensical at that point.  I said something to Sister C and Kid A about “getting so much of the not having of the sleep,” and they burst out laughing.  They knew exactly what I meant because they felt it too.  We were totally sober, yet completely intoxicated by our sleep deprivation.

Hey!  Maybe I did get something out of the Picasso Museum.  Do I smell opium in here?

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

I mean to do some random things… wash my car, clean out the storage room in the basement, send a wedding present to the couple who Sheepdog knows but I don’t, and who has now been married for well over a year – maybe even two or three.  I think they just had a baby.  I guess I should add “send a baby gift” to the list now too.  For whatever reason, I am just not inspired to do these things.  Ugh.  Thinking about it makes me feel like a slacker and a little icky, so I just put it off until later.  Much later.

But when it comes to my blog, I am motivated to write about things as they are happening in my life.  It goes nicely with my intention for “This Is How I Do It” to be a sort of memory keeper for me and my family.  If it is out of order or if too much time passes between the actual event and the time I press “Publish,” then it just seems wrong to me.  I don’t mean “untrue or fake,” because I don’t make up the stuff I write about here.   Maybe I mean it makes me feel like a slacker and a little icky, like the things on the never-ending, random to-do list.  But lets instead call it “less genuine and organic.”  Yes, that is exactly what it feels like.  Nevertheless, I’m finding out that sometimes it is necessary to break my own rules…

There is a milestone that I meant to address at the end of the school year, but it got pushed aside when Braden died.

(Quick side note:  Man, I really miss that kid.  I continue to struggle with understanding his sickness and his untimely passing.  I waffle back and forth between believing that life is precious and meaningful and I should soak everything in like a desperate sponge, or thinking that it is all a random crapshoot, so why bother?  Fortunately, I loiter most often on the former side of that fence.  There are several songs that remind me of him and they move me to sobbing tears when I let myself listen.  I really want to argue with him about the NFL trades (like Welker to the Broncos and Tebow to the Patriots) and the IRS scandal, and Edward Snowden, and Egypt, and Turkey, and Trayvon Martin, and the list goes on and on and on.  I wish I could talk to him or text him.  But that is no longer possible.  Sigh.)

Anyway…

In May, Kid E finished his last year of pre-school.  They did a ceremony back in April with songs and dances and a picnic in the park to mark the special occasion.  They did it early because his school had two GA pre-K classes and both lead teachers were pregnant and due sometime during the month of May.  Both of them delivered their beautiful babies before classes were out for summer, so substitutes came in to finish out the year.  They were very nice teachers and the kids still learned and had fun, but the end result was that the last day of school was kind of  “meh.”  With everything else that was happening in the last two weeks of May this year, I let the last day of pre-school pass without much fanfare.  Stuff happens, right?

But it is too bright of a highlight to let it slip by unacknowledged.

Starting with Carol and ending with Miss Bethany, my kids had some of the most awesome pre-school teachers on the planet.  They loved them like they were their own children.  Even on the days when I could not have been happier to get them out of my sight drop them off at school.  Especially on those days, and that is something I am very thankful for.  These teachers taught my kids so many things, but they also taught me as well.  And I’m talking about the important stuff here…

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I don’t care how cute those heathens look… this drop off deserves the Dance of Joy!

Carol taught Kid A how to be an outside kid.  She loaded up four or five kids a day and strollered them down to All-Wars Memorial Park, where they ran and jumped and played, until they collapsed in heaps and napped for hours.  Carol taught me the importance of regulating my kid’s day naps so that she would actually go to bed at night.  She also potty trained Kid A for me.  The first lesson was necessary for me to learn, but the second was just plain awesomeness.  Carol also taught me the importance of a margarita after the kids are in bed (her husband rented out the big machines for parties as a side business), which I found to be invaluable advice over the years.  Cheers to Carol!

Rosemary taught Kid B how to soothe herself to sleep when she was almost a year old.  Up until then, Sheepdog and I traded nights of sleep… he would get one, then I would get one.  It was a special time in our lives (and by that I mean e-special-ly SUCKY).  Kid B did not go to sleep unless someone was bouncing her, even during the day.  I don’t know if she had colic or we spoiled her, or what, but it was just plain awful.  And then like an angel from heaven, Rosemary came into our lives, and Kid B started sleeping through the night.  And it turned out she wasn’t a horrible devil-kid.  Rosemary also potty trained Kid B.  I did nothing but drop her off at pre-school and then I would pick up a non-diaper-wearing kid at the end of the day.  So I guess Rosemary taught me that, even after having two kids, you still may not know how to do the basic stuff, like get them to sleep or potty train them.  She also talked me off of the ledge when I was completely desperate and sleep-deprived and wanted to sell Kid B on e-Bay.  I really owe her a debt of gratitude for that one.

Kid C had the least amount of pre-school teachers because I had stopped working after I had her.  Following the adage of quality over quantity, the one that stands out the most in my mind is Miss Cora.  She was from a faraway land and said Kid C’s name in the most awesome way, with about seven more syllables than it actually has.  She taught Kid C about letting her freak flag fly.  Up until then, I had been butting heads with that kid about absolutely everything, mainly because she had/ has a very different way of doing things than I was used to.  Kid C took Cora’s lessons to heart and really started being her true self without reservation, which is a little bit crazy and a lot of bit different.  And somehow, they both showed me that it was okay for me to let it happen too.  It was a very good lesson for all of us.  Oh, and Cora also taught me that when a kid swallows a button during quiet time because her friend dared her to, don’t freak out because it will be just fine and probably just come out in her poop.  Another good lesson.

Miss Carla taught Kid D how to read.  In pre-school!  She was a seasoned veteran when it came to teaching kids (and their parents) all sorts of things, but the timing was just right (he was ready; she was so very patient) for her to instill a love of books and reading that continues with him to this day.  And even after four years I was still adjusting to having a kid with a penis, so Carla’s incredible patience was a well-timed example that I definitely needed in my life right then.  That patience also came in handy when I had to eventually potty-train the last kid.  I guess I had to learn sometime, right?

Kid E started pre-school early, especially given that I was a full-time SAHM.  But he would just follow me around all day, staring at me, muttering, “Where my brudder?”  So, I loaded up his backpack and his lunchbox and sent him out the door when he was barely two.  He had the most awesome teachers… every single one was fabulous.  Miss Lori, Miss Judy and Miss Tina (You’re Not Ugly) at Little Creek, and then Miss Waldy, Miss Robin, Miss Bethany and Miss Erica at Open Arms, just to name a few.  They taught him so many things, but they all taught me that teachers do sometimes have favorites, and it is pretty damn awesome when it is your kid.

Yes, the pre-school years have finally come to an end for my kids.  They were filled with some amazing experiences, and some crappy ones as well (lice letters, anyone?), but overall I can say that pre-school has left an indelible mark on both me and my kids forever and ever.  And for that I am very grateful.

This is a mark that I left on one of the schools when I may or may not have backed my truck into a No Parking sign.

…and this is the mark that I allegedly left on one of the schools when I may or may not have backed my truck into a No Parking sign.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…