Monday, April 30, 2007

Random Thoughts & Questions

I like my new car. I got my hair trimmed this evening. An hour ago I turned over my old car to my older son. I sent cinnamon crunch bagels with him. On a small child, when is it that those cute little dimples on the backs of their hands turn into knuckles? I don't think I understand punk music. The pile of books on my nightstand that I haven't gotten to reading yet is six books tall. I absolutely love the sandalwood vanilla candles from White Barn. I bought a red linen sundress yesterday. I wonder where/when I'll wear it for the first time. A t-shirt I won two years ago may at this very moment be in the mail and on its way to me. My younger son has now eaten pizza four nights in a row. The first cd I listened to in my new car was AbbySomeOne's Back to Me. I very nearly ran over a garter snake while riding my bike yesterday. Why can my younger son remember completely random lyrics to weird songs yet forget to take a test over a book he has read for his English class? Why does the Subaru logo have six stars, do they represent something specific? How is it that my supervisor at work is six months pregnant and still has more energy than three of the rest of us combined? When I was pregnant all I wanted to do was eat and sleep. I'm still contemplating the possibilities and pitfalls of the long distance relationship. Tomorrow is May first, a holiday called Beltane to us Celtic pagan folk. While I will celebrate it in my own quiet way, the traditional ritual activity of making your cows leap over a bonfire to ensure their fertility is a little impractical for me. Mostly because I don't own any cows and I can see where the neighbors would have cause to complain. I really, really need to get out there and do some yard work. Get out the deck furniture and hang up the hammock. Then I'll have all of you over for gin & tonics and a bbq. As soon as I buy a grill.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Blue Subaru

It is easier to purchase a car than it is to purchase a swimsuit. It only took two hours from being greeted on the lot by Cute Kyle to his handing over of the keys. I have spent weeks in dressing rooms trying on swimsuits of varying style and price and accomplished nothing but forming a lousy body image. You'd think they would put more flattering lights in the dressing rooms. I think they'd sell so many more thong bathing suits, shorts and micro mini skirts if they did. But maybe not to people who ought to be wearing such things in public. Or private. Or at all. But I digress. The car shopping experience that I had been dreading actually turned out to be very pleasant. Cute Kyle demonstrated and pointed out safety features, bells and whistles, switches, buttons, color-coded caps under the hood, cleverly designed storage compartments and ever so much more. He particularly enjoyed disassembling the beverage holder to show how it can actually be removed and cleaned. He even slammed his hand in the door to effectively show how it won't fracture your phalanges should you be so unfortunate to do such a thing to yourself. I really wanted to do a repeat performance of that little demonstration to impress my son but couldn't quite bring myself to do it. I am not a thrill-seeking personality! Even the paperwork, minor price haggling, credit check parts were okay. The only disappointing part is that, sadly, Cute Kyle does not come with the car. I just feel fortunate that I already own two swimsuits that I look pretty good in. So at least I don't have to go through that ordeal this season.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

In Praise of Working Mothers

Let me just say that I'm pooped. Exhausted. Tired. Which is my usual state of being after putting in an eight and a half hour workday. I wouldn't have thought that going to full time hours would be kicking my butt in this fashion! I have been fortunate enough to be introduced back into the working world gradually over the last four years. When I had the opportunity to go full time at my current job toward the end of last summer I jumped at the chance. Benefits! Vacation! And I would only be increasing my time on the job by an hour and a half each day. Oh, yeah, I was ready. Willing. Capable. And more grateful for having been able to spend fifteen years at home with my two sons. Not that there weren't sometimes very long, absolutely exhausting days. And not that I didn't work. I just didn't happen to earn a paycheck for being a cook, caregiver, chauffeur, housekeeper, accountant, procurement officer, scheduler, laundress and general domestic goddess. I was able to spend a great deal of time in my sons' elementary school classrooms. I put in some time volunteering for Public Broadcasting and Habitat for Humanity. I had the luxury of putting time into writing my first novel. All good, worthy, and worthwhile ways to spend that time. But since I have been putting in often forty-plus hours a week over this last winter I have a new appreciation for the women who put in the second shift every day. I don't know how they manage it, particularly if they have small children. Most evenings I have the energy to get supper together for myself and my son, read through two newspapers and usually accomplish some small domestic task. But most of the housework gets put off until the weekend. And then I am generally successful at rationalizing doing something much more fun than vacuuming and scrubbing bathrooms. So my metaphorical hat is off to all of the working mothers who find a way to do it all, or at least make it appear that they are. And that includes my own mother, who made it look much easier than it likely ever was.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Serious Like

I feel a little silly about this so I thought I should share it with you. I become emotionally attached to cars. Not just any car, but a car that I have driven for years. Even if the vehicle was a pain in the ass and required too much maintenance and got lousy gas mileage. There was only one car that was mine that I didn't shed a tear over when I traded it in. That would be the 1986 Ford Aerostar minivan that I drove for five years. Yes, we got it cheap. Yes, we put many, many miles on it. Yes, they gave us a ridiculous amount of trade-in value when we bought my current minivan to replace it. The thing is, it was a horrible car plagued constantly with needing small, medium, and occasionally large repairs. Mostly small ones that weren't very expensive. But it wears you down when something is always going wrong. Funny smells and quirky behaviors. Odd noises and sudden, subtle variations in performance. We came to believe the vehicle was demonically possessed and began to refer to it as the AntiChrist. I did not miss it when it was gone. All of the other cars that have belonged to me I have become attached to. Even to the point where it was impossible for me to drive through the back of the dealers lot and take a final look at my cast-off car without shedding a tear or two. I do realize that this is completely irrational. But it is something that I accept about my twisted brain. Today I have fallen in serious like with a car that is not mine. I almost feel like I'm cheating on my Mercury Villager. My friend Jeany stopped by with her new Subaru Outback and invited me to take it for a little spin. So I did. And like I said, I am in serious like. I don't need all the fancy features she has on her Outback, but I'm definitely smitten with it and in two weeks may very well purchase one. I am absolutely excited about the idea of a new Outback parked in my garage. And my older son is equally ecstatic over inheriting my current minivan. Which means I'm not really abandoning it, I'll have visitation privileges. Which will assuage some of the guilt and sadness I will undoubtedly experience when I ditch my ten-year long relationship with the Villager. I swear there were boyfriends who were easier to part with. Much easier.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Occupational Deconstruction

It always comes up. It's just one of those inevitable things. In social situations when I, you, pretty much anyone, meet new people, they ask this question. What do you do? Just four little words. Three, actually, with one of them repeated. The general gist of the question is, for most people, what is your job, your occupation? Doesn't seem to be the least bit loaded at all but there have been times when I have had difficulty with this simplest of questions. During the fifteen years when my occupation was stay-at-home-mom I sometimes struggled with how to answer. While it was my choice and my pleasure to be a homemaker and mother there often was a pause and a smile from the questioner. And a second question ultimately followed. And when do you plan to go back to work? Somehow suggesting that I wasn't busy enough, occupied enough, stimulated enough by caring for my two sons, volunteering at their school, keeping house, and often working on various remodeling projects in our home. I was sometimes left feeling inadequate, as if I was somehow not doing my part by not being out there in the world. That somehow I was doing my children a disservice by being there for them and denying them the opportunity to fend for themselves. That somehow I was failing my husband and family by not bringing home a paycheck. Another surprise was that I happen to be somewhat of a rabid feminist despite the fact that I allowed myself to be "kept" by a man. Now that I have been back out there for a few years, I have discovered something. I find it interesting that so many people almost wholly define themselves by the work that they do. Usually the work that they get paid for. When I believe that certainly most of those people have a much more interesting story about themselves aside from their jobs. I staunchly defend my fifteen nurturing years when I worked without pay at home. Because in retrospect I can't imagine having done anything more important during that time. I don't think that it is the right choice for every woman, and many women don't have the luxury of that choice in today's economy. But it was the right choice for me. I think the whole point of the feminist battles that our mothers and grandmothers fought were not so that women could become just like men. The point was to free us all from stereotypes so we could have choices in our lives. That goes for men, too, who often have a tendency to define themselves by their careers alone. I find that much too confining. So now, when people ask me what I do, this is my standard reply. I am a mother. I am a writer. And the thing that they pay me to do is torture seeds. When the questioner is engaged by my unconventional answer I know I have found the one person in the room I would rather be talking to.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Contemplating the LDR

Let's consider the Long Distance Relationship. Hereafter referred to as the LDR. Not that I'm in one, just pondering the possibilities with the insight of having been in one before. And my conclusion is...I don't know! The monkeys in my head are running free with all kinds of ideas, theories, postulations and premature conclusions. I knew I shouldn't have had jellybeans as a breakfast appetizer! Sugar and caffeine are a dangerous concoction when imbibed by hyperactive monkeys. They're resting right now, victims of that old insulin-rebound drowsiness, so that I may type in peace for a few moments. Yes, the LDR. I'm contemplating the possibility of the LDR as a result of having met the college professor/punk rocker last weekend. Hereafter referred to as the CPPR. And after an hour-long phone conversation with him on Friday evening...which touched on the subject of the LDR...this is what I know. The LDR with no end in sight can be a dealbreaker. On the other hand, the LDR with the flexibility/possibility of one of you moving is workable. The LDR where one of the parties is whiny/high maintenance can be a dealbreaker, not to mention seriously annoying. The LDR where both parties have lives to tend to, juggle and manage bring to the relationship a certain confidence and willingness to compromise. Two people with otherwise full and satisfying lives can make room in said lives for a significant relationship whether the significant other lives around the block or across the state. This one last thought I know is true. Primarily because I have lived it. Four hundred miles is manageable when the two people involved have their eyes wide open and choose to make the effort. I have lived with an insurmountable measure of emotional distance sleeping in the same bed with me. And that is a chasm wider and chillier than the width of this state. And I hesitate to bring up the dreaded L word at this point because we're not in that particular neighborhood nor is it nearby. But I don't have another word that will suffice in its stead. I do not believe that love conquers all, fixes all, excuses all or heals all. But I do believe that when two people come to the conclusion that they indeed love each other and want to include each other in their lives...that love can be an unstoppable force that takes on a life of its own and makes things fall into place. And I held that particular belief long before I met the CPPR.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Sleep Deprivation and Public Displays of Affection

Something happens to me when I go west and cross over into the Mountain Time Zone. I think I don't need to sleep. Let me be more specific. There is no conscious thought involved. My body and brain shift into an overdrive mode fueled by caffeine and the company of friends that nearly refuses to let me abandon the fun. So I had three late nights in a row that I'm just beginning to feel recovered from. And I don't recover so quickly from sleep deprivation as I used to! It could be the aging process which occasionally rears its ugly head of late. I'm doing my best to remain in denial of aging by behaving in a more or less adolescent manner. This is a remarkably effective tool at times. I simply take an average between my appearance age and my behavior age and it consistantly comes in far below my calendar age. The magic of mathematics cannot be denied! Just as surprise public displays of affection cannot be ignored. Sunday evening I had the pleasure of sitting by a very attractive and very smart and funny man. We talked about writing and music and acting. He was engaging and sweet and funny and it seemed that over the course of a couple of hours that we were sitting closer to each other by the minute. Maybe not. I'm not doing the best job of sorting out the physical perceptions from the inner ones. But I do remember this next part very clearly. At 2 am we were all summarily kicked out of Paddy's and found ourselves out on the street. And to my surprise this very cute guy gave me a hug. Nice. It gets better. And he kissed me. Quite thoroughly and enthusiastically. I uttered a small prayer. Please, God, let me not be old enough to be his mother. This prayer was almost immediately answered. I did the math. I was rescued once more by the simultaneous logic and magic of the numbers. I was not nearly old enough to be his mother. So I asked him if he'd kiss me again. So he did. Again, quite thoroughly and enthusiastically. And except for the fact that I have a witness, I find myself wondering if it was a dream. Because I just woke up from a very similar one. And now I wonder if he'll read this and recognize himself. I hope so.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Greetings From West Coast SD

There I am. Over there. To the right. Yes, this is what a peri-menopausal goddess looks like. And like I told you a week ago, I'm not all that photogenic. This picture, nonetheless, does look like me and conveys a certain attitude that I like. There will be others now that Colleen has overcome the technical problem of Mac versus Windows and I look forward to seeing them and posting them here. I am posting today from my room at the lovely Rapid City Days Inn via the magic of an ethernet wireless connection. Anna and I are spending a long weekend here for some long awaited R & R. Aside from the weather being cold and crappy we have managed to have a pleasant time away from home. We have experienced some most excellent live music at Dublin Square where Abby SomeOne has played the last two nights. Thanks to Shawn, Gary, Randy, and Dennis who played their asses off for an energized Friday night crowd and a somewhat indifferent Saturday night audience. I also got to visit with various other friends of ASO and I finally met The General! She does exist! I had been referring to Gary's better half as the "alleged Janice" because she was never around when I was. I really like her and not because she happens to be one of the few adults who I am taller than. I got to spend some time with Shawn's mom, Mary, who is beautiful, warm and wonderful and absolutely cool. We have also had some tasty food, some relaxing time in the hot tub, and got our shopping habit somewhat satisfied. I took a lovely hour-long walk on the bike trail this morning through Memorial Park and beyond. It was a little windy but warmer and the sun was shining! Anna should be showing up any time now and I have no idea what the rest of the afternoon has in store for us. I am merely happy to be here and look forward to the open mic at Cheers tonight where Shawn and Gary will be hosting. You never know who will show up and play and I must say that over time I have heard some astonishingly great music from mostly amateur musicians there. Now if I could just decide what shoes to wear, it's not quite barefoot weather yet. I came prepared, though, my toenails are painted a festive Revlon color #470, Amber Afire. And now, I must go play, I am on vacation.