Sunday, November 16, 2008

in case you were wondering

Say you found my blog by googling my name. Say you heard my name through a mutual acquaintance. Say you were curious about me and thought you would check me out online. Say you read some of my poems, saw my students' comments on Ratemyprofessor, went to my department's website, saw my public Facebook listing, and read my postings as a guest blogger on the Best American Poetry blog.

And say you were still curious. Who is this Amy Lemmon person I've heard about who lives in New York? you wonder. So here you are on my blog, trying to read between the lines of my cheerleading, kvetching, and kvelling, clicking on my photo, looking for any clues to what makes me tick.

First of all, thanks for reading. I'm flattered that anyone would spend time with my maunderings, since I know how busy you are. Now let me make your sleuthing a little easier with a few facts that aren't in my "About Me" profile.

-I grew up in Ohio and led a relatively sheltered life until my twenties, when I moved to the east coast then back to Ohio for graduate school, where my "liberal education" was completed. Or so I thought until I moved to NYC.
-I was raised in a politically and religiously conservative environment. The political I've diverged from significantly. The religious--well, I have diverged, but I still have respect for the faith of my fathers (and mothers). I'm working on my own version. Stay tuned.
-I grew up feeling like my family were the only people with our particular brand of beliefs. This dovetailed nicely into my already well-established sense of alienation from my peers stemming from hyper-sensitivity and an inability to discern "kids being kids" making fun and teasing from kids really hating me, which finally began to dissipate when I went to college and discovered beer.
-I once had ambitions to be a musician. I started piano lessons at six, played violin at ten, picked up oboe and trumpet in high school, was voted "Most Musical" in my senior class. Then, in college, after one term as a music education major, I switched to English because the music department building was just too far a walk from the main campus. That, and practicing so much made my neck hurt.
-Instead of being a musician, Reader, I married one. I moved to NYC in 1996 as a newlywed because my husband played jazz and got a full scholarship to grad school. I was finishing my PhD in English from the University of Cincinnati at the time.
-Twelve years later, I still live (with my kids) in the same two-bedroom apartment in Queens that I moved into less than a month after my wedding.
-I am in the middle of a divorce. Not a "messy" divorce, and not an "amicable" divorce, but just a plain old emotionally draining, heart-wrenching, soul-search-inspiring, therapy-requiring, do-what's-best-for-the-children intoning, financially discouraging, thoroughly depressing yet apparently necessary divorce.
-I did not expect to be getting divorced less than a dozen years after saying "I do." This does not mean I thought my marriage was perfect. It's just that throwing in the towel wasn't my idea. Although I'm starting to warm up to it.
-The whole divorce experience has thrown me for a loop. It has painstakingly laid a crunchy layer of chaos over my baseline neuroses and occasional hysterical tendencies that is quite astonishing in its power to thwart any plans, goals, or good intentions I might have.
-No matter how sideswiped I've been by the crunchy chaos, I have never for a minute considered keeping my kids from their father, or doing anything to damage their relationship with him. I know how much that would hurt them. (Okay, so one time I said "Daddy is an a*****e" in front of my son. But it was raining and there were no cabs and I had been late picking him up from after-school chess and felt like a total failure as a mother. And the kid had asked why I was upset.)
-I am grateful that my kids' father is still around a lot, even though it makes separating from him excruciating at times. It's good for the kids, who adore him, and heck, I can use the free childcare.
-Here's a secret: I have come to believe that maybe, just maybe, all this is part of a Plan, and that Somebody is in charge of the blueprints. I just have no idea what the deal is, where I fit in or what I am supposed to do. I am trying to be okay with not knowing, and just trust and have faith. You can imagine how hard this is for me.
-I am ambivalent about the public nature of my presence here. I want to blab to the world but feel anxious when strangers (such as you, dear reader) find me, especially when it has something to do with someone I am dating.
-Oh--did I tell you that I have been dating? No? Sorry. Forgot to mention that. (Actually, I haven't mentioned it on purpose. It's private, and as you know this is a public forum.)
-I find "dating" to be an odd and antiquated term, a bit "dated" if you will, because the experience post-divorce has felt for me more like hearing a carousel and letting the captivating music and smell of peanuts and popcorn lead me off the paved path only to get sucked into a wind tunnel while simultaneously trying to squeeze into a wetsuit in anticipation of being dropped into a deep, dark, cold ocean when the tunnel abruptly ends. But sometimes, sometimes, I catch that carousel and let it spin me 'round and 'round, intoxicated. (Maybe my memory is going, but I do not recall it being quite this way the last time I was single, in my twenties.)
-I have a tendency to be a bit of a drama queen. Let's just say I have a close relationship with my inner Eloise.
-I find music to be incredibly healing. For a broken heart, or a broken home, I highly recommend Ron Sexsmith. Or K D Lang. Or practically anyone Canadian.
-I do not wish to spend the rest of my life without a partner. Conversely, I do not want to be with someone just so I can have a partner. I want the (or a) right person. I want it all!
-I feel guilty for not blogging enough about my kids lately, especially about the T21 community and special needs advocacy. I wonder if I seem completely narcissistic to the casual reader.
-My extended family (I am the eldest of six children) is precious to me, but I don't always feel as if I fit in.
-My friends are invaluable. Simply put: I would not be here without them.
-My relationships with most of my friends are complicated. This is probably because I have the most satisfying and intimate friendships with people who are as complicated as I am.
-Sometimes I need a break from my friends, and my friends need a break from me. I am trying to teach myself that this is Okay and does not mean that I should not be friends with anyone. (I'm starting to realize that the same principle might just apply to romantic relationships, too.)
-I am, quite often, my own worst enemy.
-I love, I love, I love. It's my nature. Sometimes it hurts and it ain't pretty. But I can't seem to live any other way.
-I'm procrastinating right now. Papers, papers, papers. I have a tendency to hype up the negative aspects of my life when I am overwhelmed with work, as I am now. (In this economy, people who are employed should not complain. So I'm not. About work, anyway.)

If you want to know more about me, ask our mutual acquaintance for my email and I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Thank you again for your time. Have a good day.


Stacey Harwood said...

Hi Amy,
This is a beautiful, heartfelt, moving post. I hope our relationship is one of those that is satisfying to you b/c I value having you in my life. It is hard to negotiate this weird public space, isn't it? I've been on the receiving end of some nasty attacks by people who don't know me at all and know how painful that can be. Anyway, you're tops in my book. Stacey

Amy said...

Thanks, Stacey. Yes, you are one of the friends I am thankful for--and I'm not just saying that because this is public! xo

Miriam said...

Amy, I found your blog through a random DS feed, and I'm glad I did. I love the quote in your header--Edna St. Vincent Millay is one of my favorite poets. This is such a sad post... I'm sorry to "meet" you during such a difficult time in your life. I poked around a bit and found an your post from last November about the divorce rate among special needs parents. You know, I've been in the DS community for 16 years, and reading DS email lists for 13, and I do not recall this ever coming up as a topic with actual discussion and help. Now, you've got me thinking. Thanks for sharing at such a vulnerable time in your life.

Amy said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Miriam! I will make a point of visiting your blog on a regular basis.

I think that divorce in general is a taboo subject, despite (or perhaps because of?) its ubiquity. In particular, the non-intact family seems to be verboten in media, advertising, product packaging, and anything that is supposed to tell us how we live. Combined with the difficulty of discussing developmental disabilities to begin with, well, it's understandable no one talks about this. I hope to make a little dent in the enormous silence.

jeneva said...

Hi, Amy, I've been coming to your blog intermittently from either DC or MD for a few months. I think I originally found the link to your blog on another blog for moms with disabled kids. I have a child with disabilities as well--he has basal ganglia disease. It's good to read about how other families cope--makes you feel less alone. I also used to live in NYC (have a PhD from Columbia) and enjoy soaking up that New York vibe from your blog. Just thought I'd introduce myself.

Amy said...

Welcome, Jeneva! It's great to know that this community continues to grow and links are established...

Tara Marie said...

I love you dear, next time it would be better for me to share this with you over a glass of wine. Lets make a girlfriend date soon [my birthday is next month....what a great excuse for me to come visit you in the city] and my girl keeps asking about your girl. We must get our little diva's together!


esk said...

How poignant. I've been reading your blog for awhile now (and have even added you to my blog roll!) and very much enjoy it.

Kudos to you for having the courage to be so transparent on a public blog! No doubt your stories help others out there.