Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ronia D'Arc, the pseudonymous brainchild of the sometimes brainless person named Isabel, made her appearance on the cyberstage June 3rd, 2008. Ronia's mission in her brief life was to spill the beans about Really Personal Stuff (RPS) in an anonymous blog, a goal that was hard to keep because a) no one who didn't know her wanted to read her blog, and then b) no one who did know her wanted to read her blog.*

Blogging about RPS, it turned out, was self-defeating. As much as it provided a journal-like release, and as much as it temporarily allowed Ronia to see herself as a "Soldier of Honesty," sharing her innermost thoughts and embarrassments with family and friends made her eventually seem (and feel) much more like a Soldier of Idiocy, someone with no sense of why, in real life, we don't tell our parents about the weird _________ on our _______. Or how we ______ our ________, despite his _______. Or, incidentally, about our ________ habit, the one that on several occasions landed us in ______ _______. Yes, there are reasons we shouldn't share RPS with everybody: besides the whole preserving-one's-dignity thing, there's the whole they-don't-want-to-know thing. They don't want to know because, frankly, it makes them uncomfortable. And we should respect that.

If Ronia's blog had remained anonymous, if she had managed to acquire an audience made up solely of strangers, things might have worked out. She might actually have been able, as she hoped, to help someone by showing them that they're not alone in their weirdness/problems. But, by December 21st, it became depressingly clear that things were not working out.

Unafraid of the truth, Ronia packed her bags (with 48 bad blog entries) and headed down the long dusty road to the Next Dimension.

She bequeathed her blog, and its remaining entries, to Isabel.

*except for her devoted fanbase/sisters and, somewhat reluctantly, her parents


Monday, December 22, 2008

The time has come to say goodbye
to Ronia D'Arc, high in the sky
She began as a blogger and ended one, too
She found out the hard way what a blog shouldn't do

What Ronia learned in her short six-month life
Is a blog's not the place for complaints by a wife
It's fine to share if nobody reads
But once you have readers, have discretion, too, please

A blog should be honest, yes, that is true
And soul-baring's fine if it's what you must do
But watch what you say about those whom you love
Or you'll soon find a coffin and a new home above

Ronia D'Arc wasn't the worst blogger there was
Some of us even liked her, well, just because
We'll remember her story (or the parts we could stand)
And remember her lesson when we try our own hand.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Everyone knows it's best to look for Christmas decorations while standing on a stepladder balanced on the Mt. Rushmore of dirty laundry. One leg of the ladder burrows deeper into a high-art rendition of George Washington's face--done entirely in socks and underwear--while l'artiste herself declines the suggestion, made by a very loud voice in her head, to remove the suitcase from the shelf. Obviously, it's much more fun and adventurous to try to locate the zipper on the suitcase while balancing, 6-month-tummy and all, on the lopsided stepladder, two black and white dogs staring up in rapt admiration at such a display of holiday spirit.

The suitcase is filled with baby clothes, toddler clothes, infant clothes, and, inexplicably, children's clothes. They all fall to the floor of the garage, mingling happily with their soiled relatives making up the Lower Plains section of the Mt. Rushmore exhibit. A few tiny socks nestle into the embrace of a stained long-sleeve t-shirt nobody wears anymore but which mysteriously ends up in the "laundry basket"/Mt. Rushmore exhibit on a regular basis. Before the miniature pastel-colored socks are tarnished by seedy influences, they are saved. By a dog. With remarkably bad breath.

The socks are a little damp and strange-smelling, but they are saved, just like a certain species was saved by a certain hippy carpenter. Just like I saved approximately $20 by purchasing a Christmas tree from Target. Just like I saved the tree from falling out of the open trunk of the car by tying a piece of dental floss around it and through random holes in the car's body--holes that might have been designed for the pouring of brake fluid but might also have been designed for the pouring of egg nog.

Luckily, my prayers/swears were heard, and we did NOT cause a Christmas-tree-induced snafu on the busy freeway. Despite a disturbing creaking sound made by the trunk lid, our tree did not fly out and under the wheels of the car behind us. Everyone made it home safely.

The tree was immediately cut loose from the plastic netting Target's people used to snare it in the deep dark bowels of the Ventura Authentic Pine Xmas Trees forest, and once it was able to stretch out its limbs and yawn, to loosen up and adopt its natural shape, it became full and beautiful and gave off a scent that was in marked contrast to The Dog With The Breath. I managed to get it onto its base with a minimal amount of seasonal slurs, and as we strung the white lights and silver garlands around it I had the feeling I always have about a new, fresh, not-half-dead-and-potentially-a-housefire-risk Christmas tree: I wanted to keep it forever, like a houseplant or a pet. Sula apparently had the same thing on her mind:

"Maman, what happened to our other Christmas tree? Remember, the one at the old house?"

"We...put it in the trash."

"In the TRASH?! No, Maman! A tree can't go in the trash!"

"Yes, it can--a special trash. You put the tree on the sidewalk and special trash people come and take it away and put it in a big, big trash place called the dump. Remember how our old tree stayed on the sidewalk for a really, really long time? Until the neighbors started looking at it funny because the pine needles had turned completely brown and it was mostly just a trunk and some spindly broken branches?"


"That's what happens when you miss the trash people and then ignore the dead tree for a few months."

"Oh. But what's going to happen with this tree, Maman? Are we going to keep it for a long long very time?"

"Yes, baby. We are. Until we're sick to death of looking at it and it's time to hunt for Easter eggs."

The new, fresh, lovely-smelling tree sits in its little corner like a happy troll, dressed in twinkling lights and a few tacky Target decorations. For now, it's home.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yesterday was mostly awful, today was mostly good.

I actually had a wonderful time with Sula this afternoon, after she threw a massive tantrum: we ate pizza together, then she helped me make hot chocolate. We drank the hot chocolate in the darkening kitchen and talked and had fun.

She was sweet with me the rest of the afternoon and all evening, and when I turned out the light in her bedroom I was filled with relief and happiness.

Santa might be coming to our house after all.


Friday, December 12, 2008

The past few days have been difficult, partly due to not getting enough sleep and having a cold, but mostly because I'm worried about Sula. She's still not her usual self, and a few times lately I've felt like I'm losing my connection with her.

She's usually been pretty well behaved with me in the past, but now she'll use a tone that's blatantly rude and downright insolent. It's like she all of a sudden lost her manners, like she just doesn't care. I find myself reprimanding her all the time, and I find myself feeling apprehensive about dealing with her: will she be happy and normal, or will she be unpleasant and difficult? It's like she's regressing, but in truth she never was as bad, in the past, as she is now.

The school situation is not great--she doesn't seem to have bonded with the teachers and kids there yet--so Johnny and I are wondering if she's going through a delayed reaction to the switch from the old school, where she was so happy and comfortable. If this is the case, I'm sure she'll get over it soon enough, and I'm sure she'll be happy and probably stronger for the experience in the long run, but I can't help having pangs of regret at having moved her.

Tonight I picked her up from school and when she told me in a surly voice that she wanted to stay and finish watching the movie, I told her to say it again pleasantly, with "please" and "Maman" this time. She did, but then she was surly and demanding again while we sat on a park bench eating french fries, watching the dogs run around, and then again walking back to the car. When we got to the car I lifted her up and told her I love her, and that she needs to talk to me like she loves me too. She looked so tired, with her fingers in her mouth and gray shadows under her eyes, I didn't have the heart to go on, making her feel bad for making me feel bad, so when she nodded yes I just brushed her hair back from her eyes and gave her a kiss.

I was looking forward to having some alone time with her, to getting back on a good level and seeing her happy and herself, but as soon as we pulled into the driveway the neighbors invited her to go look at Christmas decorations, and that was that--they piled into their big car and took off. I walked into our dark house alone and, purposely leaving the curtains open, turned on all the lights so Sula would see a cozy, warm-looking home when she returned.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Lately I've been feeling like I don't know what the hell I'm doing with Sula. I thought it was pretty easy: you put the kid in her room when she's misbehaving, maybe throw in a spanking or two, and ta da! Problem solved!

Well, guess what--it ain't workin' that way. For one thing, the spankings feel all wrong. I don't like giving spankings. It makes me feel like I'm losing control, like I am not, in fact, in charge.

I read that successful discipline needs to entail anticipation--you have anticipate that the kid will chew with her mouth open 6 times in row, despite your having told her to close her mouth while chewing, and then be all ready to calmly explain that, since she's disobeyed, you're taking away her cars.

The kid is now in her room and you're collecting little cars off her rug, from between the books on the book shelf, and out of the toy box, feeling like you're on a weird Easter Egg hunt. You're feeling weird altogether, because is this going to work? The cars are all in a basket now and you show them to her, then lift the basket to the top shelf of her closet. You close the closet. You leave her room, shutting the door behind you.

She cries, she yells, she kicks her feet. She is being awful. You think there's something wrong with her. You think there's something wrong with you. You wish you hadn't promised, last night, during the wonderful conversation you had with your husband about installing a Parenting Plan, to stop giving spankings. A spanking would work great right now. It would shock her, it would scare her. She'd know you meant what you said. But afterwards, you know, you'd feel like a jerk. Most of all, you'd feel like you can't control yourself around a 4-year-old. It would scare YOU a little.

Eventually she comes out of her room. She's still being bratty, but you can tell she's exhausted. She's also hungry. She doesn't mention the cars but she's got one clutched in her hand; you consider demanding it and putting it with the others, but decide not to.

She finishes eating. You give her a bath, no playing. You put her in bed, no book. You tell her she's been a bad girl and you're not happy with her. She's crying when you leave the room.

You sit back down at the kitchen table and think of her hand holding onto the little car. After a while you go back into her room and kneel beside her bed, rubbing her forehead. You tell her you love her.

Sitting there, you wonder at the fact that you feel so lost.