Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Catching My Breath

Man, I was doing so well at updating this journal every couple of days, and then the last week or so really knocked me off track. Time to refocus.

Things have been hectic and insane hereabouts. Not necessarily "bad," exactly. Just too damn busy. The last month or so, I've found that my free time has pretty much vanished completely, and it's really beginning to stress me out. Let's walk through some of the events, causes, and whatnot.

I mean, there's the usual work -- too much of it, or too little. But I think it really started just before my daughter's birthday party last month -- all the preparations, all the money going out, all that noise. Along with that, my son started soccer with the local YMCA league -- practices are schedule for 6:30 Friday nights (ack) and games are the following morning (8, 9, or 10 o'clock). Then there's always something that has to be taken care of on Saturday. Running around, shopping, buying, returning. So, as it is most weekends don't actually begin until about noon on Saturday these days.

Now, let's add to this the fact that we've taken a leadership role in this young families dinner group thing at our church. Basically, you get 5 or 6 couples together for dinner once a month, they get sitters for the kids, and we do... I dunno... stuff. There's discussion topics, but we've never really followed them -- We basically treat it as an opportunity to socialize with some folks from our community that we wouldn't ordinarily spend time with. Even though neither of us is particularly ourwardly super-religious, we decided to do this last year to expand our social circle in some new areas and we wound up meeting two other couples that we really get along with, so we figured we'd try it again this year. This time Christine volunteered to lead the group.

Well, we had to host a dinner Saturday night, so we had the classic awkward Getting To Know You dinner. Of course, since it's a church-oriented group, no one ever knows what to expect. We attend church, but in my case it's for two reasons only: I like the kids to have a simply structured religious environment so that later we can start really digging in on some of the trickier philosophical stuff with some sort of common starting point and b) I enjoy participating in ceremony. Otherwise, I have very strong religious convictions, but they don't tend to overlap well with folks who are very into organized religion in general. I always wind up sort of biting my lip and waiting to get a vibe from the others. Once I hit a comfort zone, I may interject my opinions, but in general I do the nod-and-smile thing.

So, we were supposed to have 6 couples altogether. One couple -- friends from last year -- couldn't make it, and a second couple kept us on the hook waiting to get a confirmation until 3 days beforehand, and then canceled 45 minutes before the dinner (lost their sitter, and when we gave them a list of names to try they never even bothered to call us back to let us know that it-hadn't-worked-out-but-thanks. Rude. Later, in e-mail, we let them know that Febraury and April months that would be good for them to volunteer to host, and they come back with "we'll see." Let's just say we're REALLY hoping that these folks will bail on the group. I don't need this shit.). That leaves us, the other couple we knew from last year (Ginny and Dave, who are awesome, and also from New York. In fact, Ginny used to underage-drink in my hometown. Small world), and two new couples.

One couple seemed nice: Pleasant, if hard to get a reading on, but that's not too unusual for these sorts of cold meeting things -- it always takes a couple of these things before people begin to relax. I mean, it's all very artificial and forced, so it's silly to expect everyone to be at ease. She was pretty, Mexican, and 2 months pregnant. He was nice, drank some wine, chatted amiably, etc.

The other couple, though, seemed to be competing in some sort of Mr. and Mrs. Catholic America competition. Every Single Thing they said over the course of the evening had to do with Catholicism, our church, the pastors at our church, the Catholic student groups at the school where they met. Everything. Bright eyed and smiling, like Christian Pod People. And they're good friends with the bozos who canceled at the last minute and didn't even thank us for trying to help them work things out. On their way out, it was very clear that while He had retained his Wide Eyed Pleasant Gaze, She was somewhat ruffled by the Uppity Women (Christine and Ginny were in rare form -- stress + wine = snarking amiably at each other all evening). If you know them, you know it's all in fun, but if you don't share their sense of humor it can get brutal. Perhaps it worked: We're hopeful that they will bail on the group as well.

But anyway, stressful evening after stressful day of preparing for stressful dinner. Finally, at about 10, after I deployed some mild untruths about needing to wrap things up so I could go get our kids from my mom's house, the new couples bailed, leaving us and our friends to spend the next 2 hours, drinking wine as quickly as possible and trashing the Super-Christians.

Finally! The weekend had begun to be fun! It only took until 10PM Saturday. And unfortunately, that's how most of my weekends have been feeling lately. Agh.

So, on top of this we are in the midst of planning our annual Halloween party. Now, I LOVE throwing this party. I wouldn't skip it for the world. This will be the third one we've thrown since we moved into our house here in Texas, and it keeps getting bigger (in complexity and attendance) each year. First year was smallish, around 20 people or so including kids. Last year was significantly larger, about 50 or so people total, with a kids party going upstairs (we hired a couple of nannies to keep the kids occupied so the adults could relax and party downstairs without kids underfoot) and this year looks to be larger still. Current guess is that we'll hit 70-80 people altogether (around 20 kids, 50-60 adults), over the course of the evening, although it could be significantly more. Christ, if everyone who hasn't responded shows up we'll hit about 200.


So, there's a LOT of preparation to be done. Decorating the house (graveyard in the front yard, new window decor I'm currently building, new tombstones, tons of stuff inside as well). I'm nearly done with the music mix for the party (6 hours of mixed stuff -- I love MixMeister). Then there's buying stuff. Beer, wine, food, probably some liquor as well. MONEY MONEY MONEY. In the middle of all of this, there's soccer (still), as well as a fund raising fair at my daughter's school on Saturday, plus we're bringing the kids to a Halloween show with the Austin Symphony on Sunday.

Jeez, how am I gonna get all this done? I see some late nights in my future. And I still haven't figured out a costume. Aggh.

Anyway, that's a ramble for you. A bit more rambly that usual, but I do what I can.

Mood: Mildly harried
Now Playing: Reel Big Fish, "Turn the Radio Off"

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