Friday, February 28, 2014

Isn't that special...

When I was about 15 I was working the register one evening at the car wash when the guy I was ringing up caught my father's attention, "Is this your daughter?"

My dad smiled and said yes I was. Then the man pulled out his wallet and said, "Let me show you something," He held out a picture to my dad and my dad gave a low whistle and said "Well, isn't that something." Then he held out the picture to me. And there I was. Older. Probably around mid 20s or so, but it could have been a picture of me. The guy said it was his daughter and he wished he had a picture of her when she was my age because it was remarkable how much we looked alike.

When C was little and I was getting Parenting magazine there was one month where the cover baby was me. Okay not me, really, but the picture looked like it could have been one of my baby pictures. And then a few years ago there was a Facebook ad that had a picture of a woman from the 50s or 60s and there I was again. I was able to download that one so I could keep it.

And I can't tell you the number of times someone tells me that I look just like their best friend/best friend's sister/cousin/girl next door from third grade. Let alone the famous people I get told I resemble. Not exact in those cases, but close. 

And then there are the times where I share something on Facebook that I have always thought was odd, or different and half of my friend list says "Oh thank god! Me too!" Or I post something and a combination of auto-correct, typo and word skipping takes place and it really makes no sense at all but people understand just exactly where I was going with it and fill in the blanks and know what I was talking about because they would have said the same thing. 

Bottom line. I'm not special.

I don't have unique looks. I don't have unique thoughts. I don't have a unique sense of humor. It's all shared by someone else. Even something as basic as my face has been seen on other people. 

Now I guess this should bother me. But it actually (once I really got it) brought me a level of comfort. I know someone out there will get the joke I make. If someone is staring at me in public I can tell myself it's because they are trying to figure out where they know me from instead of thinking I must have something wrong with me. And I know that as I come in to and go out of people's lives I am filling the role that "my type" fills. What ever that is. And that's a good reminder for the times when you forget the world does not in fact revolve around you.

When I came back to work at the ad agency I had a poster by my desk. It was a pitch they did while I was living in Colorado. The reason I kept it was because I wasn't in the picture. It showed that without me the agency went on. It did just fine. Life goes on when we leave and people do just fine. It was a daily reminder that I could leave. I could go. They would be fine without me. And when I did decide to leave my boss hired someone who looked enough like me that it was slightly frightening...

What do I think of myself? I think I'm funny, though I'm often told I'm not really. But I think I am. I think I'm smart, though I know even in my own house I'm running a distant third. Thank god I'm ahead of the cat, though he has figured out how to live a life even more luxurious than mine for even less work so maybe not...anyway... I think I'm kind as well. I can have a bite. You all know that. But deep down I'm basically kind hearted. Funny, smart, kind but I'm not special.

Not in that unique little snowflake sort of way.

But I am me. And though there are others out there like me we fill a niche. A place. A purpose. In this connected word we live in doesn't it make sense that there are types? There are categories? There are people that are like you, like me, like that guy over there? And that we are all filling our rolls to make it all work?

So it doesn't really bother me that I'm not all that special. That I'm not unique. That I know at some point in the next year I will meet someone who will say "you look just like..." and I will make an obscure joke that someone else will get the punchline without me having to explain. That I will say something and get the "Oh my god! Me too!" response. The connections are cool to me. They make me feel like part of the world instead of sitting in the corner trying to make my own world from scratch. 

But maybe that's just me....

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

These kids today...

Finished reading The Fault in Our Stars yesterday and went to mark it and rate it on Goodreads. For the most part the reviews are pretty similar, 4-5 stars. I agree. Gave it a solid 4 stars. But there was one that was a one star review and so I had to look to see just exactly why they hated it. I read the review and had to shake my head. It was a similar review to others I have seen for the YA genre. Their gripe was that the kids didn't talk like kids. They were too smart.  They had too many deep discussions about life and things they couldn't possibly understand. specifically to this book these kids all have cancer. It's going to make you a deeper more philosophical kid, I would think, to know that your life would or could be cut short. And to have already known people your age and younger who had died. You aren't going to be a typical kid. 

Though that's also not right. These were typical kids. That's part of what I liked about the book. They were smart asses. They were living their lives with the hands they were dealt. Yes, there were some unrealistic things (not going to say because you might want to read the book) but it was fiction, there are always some unrealistic things. But the kids being smart wasn't one of them.

But like I said I've seen this sort of review before for YA books. The kids were too smart. It always makes me wonder if they don't remember what it was like to be a teenager or if they were just exceptionally dumb teenagers?

Your teen and early 20s years are THE years for the deep philosophical talks. These are the years where you are figuring out who you are. You've got the basics of life down and are now starting to dabble in the extras. The conversations you can only have at that age because it's the first time you've ever thought about them. The do we all see color the same conversations. The what if every atom is a universe conversations. The what is life conversations. 

So then I thought, maybe it was just because I hung around with kids who were prone to those sorts of thoughts. But that's not it. I had a variety of friends. I was a theater kid so sure there are the creative types that like to think about wild things. I was an honor student so I had the smart friends who like to question the meaning of life. I had a broad sprinkling of freaks (New Mexico slang for stoner) so yeah, they were a little mind expanded at times. But there were also band geeks, and ROTC and preps and jocks and on and on...I was a bit of a floater you see, didn't really belong to just one group. And I could and did have these discussions with everyone. Because that's what you do as a teenager.

So I think either the people who write reviews about how teenagers aren't that smart just weren't that smart themselves or they've forgotten what it was like to be a teen.

Sort of like the people who talk about how awful today's kids are. These kids today with their rock music and their disrespectful ways...

Yeah...hang out with better kids. Trust me. They aren't any worse than we were. Or our parents were. Or their parents were. It's just that you've forgotten. Being a teenager is a little bit about disrespect at times. But only because they are stretching for independence and we don't want to give it to them just yet. And we've forgotten what it feels like to be positive you could run your own life and have someone holding you back. I'm not saying we are wrong in holding them back, just like our parents and teachers weren't wrong when they held us back. But we resented it just as much as they do. You just don't remember that part anymore. Or you know how hard life did get once you were on your own so your perspective changed. But kids today aren't worse than we were. Not really. There are good ones and bad ones. Smart ones and dumb ones. 

And ones that are just now having the conversation that starts, "But what if the blue I see isn't the same as the blue you see? What if my blue is your red?"

Monday, February 24, 2014

The best worst day...

I love the ocean. You all know this. I've talked about it a lot. Brent actually pointed out on this vacation that it's not just the ocean, it's all water. I love to be in the water, on the water, by the water, near the water, thinking about the water. A pool, a hot tub, a lake, a river but especially the ocean. Nothing makes me feel larger, smaller or more connected than the ocean. Larger because when you are in the water, and the tides are moving you it's like you are breathing with the world. Or at least it is to me. Smaller because when you are standing on the shore looking out toward the horizon and you cannot see the end,'s amazing. More connected because that water, the Pacific Ocean, that I am standing in in Hawaii is part of the same body of water my friends in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Japan, Australia for goodness sake, and on and on are standing in or looking at or near.

When we got in Monday we didn't have a lot of time between checking in and heading to our luau, but I made sure to go right down to the beach and put my feet in the water. And every time we would go in our room I was out on the lanai looking at our view of the ocean. It's not really feasible with Brent's job just yet but there is a huge part of me that would love to get a little house on the coast and just live out there year round. Though, to be perfectly honest, I would rather do it in Southern California or Hawaii where the water is warmer. Our water never gets really warm up here, wet-suits are standard even in the summer.

Tuesday was a busy day with the tour of Pearl Harbor and a hike as well. And we planned badly on the hike and didn't bring water and got a little over heated so anyway by the time we got back to the hotel and had dinner and cooled off it was already sunset and I was beat so I didn't go swimming. Brent said he would have lost a bet about it. I had been in Hawaii for two days (a day in a half really) and hadn't yet been in the ocean. I told him I was in it right away but he didn't count the feet. But we just had a lot to fit in in a few days so things got shuffled. Also I had built in ocean time in our activities for the next two days so I wasn't worried.

So finally Wednesday came and it was a big ocean day. Whale watching. I love whales. When we booked this trip I hadn't even thought of the fact that it was the right season to see the humpback whales. When I was planning out things to do and realized we would be there right smack in the middle of the season I made sure one day was spent on a cruise. Now here's the thing with these cruises, the whales don't always co-operate. When we lived in San Diego I went on a lot of gray whale tours. Usually we saw at least one, but sometimes you just didn't see any. So I knew that even though we had seen some the day before on our hike, it wasn't guaranteed we would see any that day. But the bonus with this tour was it included snorkeling as well as the whale watching; so no matter what happened it would be a good ocean day.

My worries were for nothing. Within the first 5 minutes on the water we spotted whales. During the tour we saw at least 8 different whales. Some far away, some closer. We saw full breaches (which has been a dream of mine since I was very little) we saw tail flukes, we saw them slapping the water with their fins to get attention. For one stretch we parked the boat and dropped an aquaphone in the water and listened to them sing. There was one male very close to us, we had seen him dive, and one farther away. I honestly could have sat on the boat and listened to that all day and been perfectly happy. It was awesome. And to top it off toward the end of our whale watching a mother and calf came to the surface very close to the boat. The calf was probably male because he made a little trumpet noise (think baby elephant) when he would breathe. Tori (the captain of our boat) said she had never heard a baby make a noise like that before.  It was a nice surprise to see them so close and to see a baby and mother like that.

It was the best day.

Oh wait, you are waiting for more because of the title of the blog right? Yeah...

So I discovered a few things about myself on the trip as well. One is that though sea sickness isn't usually an issue for me it can happen. See, we were racing spotted dolphins in the boat, super cool experience, we were in the middle of a large pod and they were racing along the sides of the boat and jumping over our wake in the back. When we would slow down to look for whales they would swim up next to the boat slowly then dash off then turn around and do it again, like they were trying to encourage us to race more. It was awesome.

I had been standing on the front bow of the boat as we had been out sailing and while the dolphins were playing I turned around to take some pictures toward the back. Mistake. The speed of the boat, the movement of the boat in the waves and the wake and looking backwards all combined to make me a little sick. Oooph... Okay, not a big deal, I just sat down and stared at the horizon, pressed the pressure point on the inside of my wrist and ate a peppermint. Before long I was feeling okay. It was probably only a half hour or so of touch and go with my breakfast. But I did miss out on being able to lay on the deck of the boat and put my hand over the water and feel the breath of the dolphins when they would come up to the surface. But I've been on boats with dolphins before that's okay. Next time.

Then it was time to go snorkeling. One of the women on the boat really wanted to swim with the Honu. That's sea turtles to you and I. And anyway, there was a spot that they knew about, a cleaning station, where the turtles would come in and little fish that live there would clean them of the algae and such that had accumulated on their shells. Super cool. We got the briefing on how to swim along side the turtles but not get too close, how to recognize when we were too close and needed to back off, and how to use the equipment. Brent and I had never been snorkeling before and were really looking forward to trying it. We had the small side trip that day and another full snorkel trip planned for Thursday.

So we get our gear on and get ready to go in the water. The woman who had wanted to dive with turtle specifically almost backed out. Seems her husband (who was wearing a Navy ball cap so Brent and I had assumed he was a former Navy guy) had gotten VERY seasick while we were out and she wasn't sure about going out without him. The boat guides told him and me that the best thing for seasickness was to get in the water. Since I was already over my spell I was fine but thought that was interesting and would keep it in mind if I ever had another bout. So as we are getting in the water they tell us to hold our mask tightly so they don't leak and either jump in or slide in. I decided on the slide in.

You want to know the absolute worst time to discover you are suffering from PTSD from you near drowning a few years ago? Yeah. Then.

So I hit the water and (as I discovered the next day as well) my hair is so thick that once it's wet my head shrinks quite a bit and I have to re-tighten my mask or it's useless. Yes, I know, who would have guessed right? I have very fine hair but I have a ton of it. So even cut as short as it is my head is actually smaller in the water than out of it. Very interesting. Or it was later. Right then, not so much.

So anyway, holding on to my mask did no good. I hit the water, my mask loosened I got a snootful of sea water and my mask sealed it in my nose for a second and then the world started to slip away. There was this thing that happened when I almost drowned. My mind kind of split. There was the rational part that was giving directions and the panicked part that was trying to override everything. Happened here as well. I could feel the panic starting to seep in and knew there was no way I was going swimming in the ocean. I just needed to get back on the boat. And now. I told Elizabeth (our dive guide) I wasn't going after all. She had me hold on to her for a second and stabilize my breathing then watched me get back on the boat. I waved Brent off to go without me and sat and watched everyone dive. And proceeded to freak the fuck out.

The shakes started. The panic kept creeping back up. Was the ocean ruined for me? I always said my second biggest regret was not getting in the ocean the day we left last time just so my last ocean experience would have been a good one. And I hadn't been swimming in the ocean since the near drowning. I had been wading, I had been strolling, but I hadn't been swimming. Was I never going to be able to swim in the ocean again? What about our tour the next day? I didn't want to miss it. More so I didn't want Brent to miss it. I could see the turtles coming up and going down and see the little group from our boat swimming along in a circle snorkels up masks down. And I couldn't even get myself to stop shaking long enough to grab the camera and take a few pictures.

The only other time I came close to dying (and was aware of it) was due to a bee sting. For years after that I had panic attacks around flying bugs. Not just bees, though they were the worst, but anytime a bug would fly towards me I would panic. The breathing would get shallow, the run NOW instinct would kick in. This lasted until I made myself get over it. Slowly. Calmly. Exposure over and over to bees. Standing next to bushes where they were flying. Taking pictures of them on flowers. Regulating my breathing. Reminding myself that I had been stung before with no consequences and the sting that almost killed me was a fluke. It took time but I got over it.

What was I going to do about this? I don't have an ocean that is warm enough to just work slowly toward getting over it. I didn't have years to do it. I wanted to be in the water TOMORROW. Hell I wanted to be there right now. Look at everyone out there and I'm on the fucking boat. Even seasick Johnny was now swimming behind the boat (it did cure his seasickness, amazing) and I was sitting there in a towel shaking like a little bitch.

The swimmers came back on-board and dove in to lunch. I wasn't hungry. There was no way I could force my body to unclench long enough to swallow. The tour ended pretty shortly after and Brent and I headed for the North Shore which had been our plan for the day. To see the waves off the North Shore during the winter was another big moment for me. You see them on TV and they are HUGE. Well there wasn't much wave activity that day so though you could see how the pipeline forms and they were much bigger than down in Waikiki they weren't as impressive as they could have been.  And I was in a hurry to get back to our hotel. I was on a mission. I wanted to go in the ocean there. To see if it was just a blip on my psyche for a moment or if I was permanently damaged.

Brent knew I was freaking out and he knew I wasn't ready to really talk much about it beyond, "I'm terrified" so he let me call the shots. We looked in a tide pool at the North Shore, walked on the coolest beach ever, if we go back I want to spend more time there, where the sand was "new" and you could still make out the shells that sand is made out of instead of it just looking like small grains.

Then we headed back and the moment of truth came.

As I waded out in to the ocean I reminded myself of the hundreds of times I had been in the water. Of all of the times I'd gotten a snootful of seawater and done nothing more than snort it back out. I reminded myself that I got in trouble last time because I got cocky. I wasn't paying attention to where I was. I hadn't given the respect to the ocean that it deserves. And then I looked at Brent and said, "Here I go" and I submerged myself in to the ocean. Felt the water rush over my head and fill my ears. The pressure on my face. The feeling of ocean all around...I resurfaced and smiled.

It was a fluke. Just a momentary blip. One last reminder that I had almost drowned and that part of my mind remembered. But it wasn't going to control me. I let it go. Relief flooded me. I turned over on to my back and floated. Let the waves carry me along for a bit. Brent and I stayed in the water for awhile swimming and floating and then went to grab some dinner.

Suddenly I was starving.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

He learned it by watching you...

Okay, so I've sat for a week trying to find other things to write about but the two moody pieces are going to happen first and I just have to deal with that.

I mean really deal with it. I've been avoiding writing them because I haven't wanted to deal with all of the emotions around them. Trying to convey what I'm feeling in a blog can be tricky. Sometimes I'm just sharing or trying to get something off my chest and it ends up sounding whiny. I am rarely whiny. And when I am I will tell you, "I'm whiny." But in reading things sometimes it's hard to get the tone from it that I was trying to convey. So anyway, these next two blogs are not whiny. But they are emotional. Or they were, I'm better now. Really.

Okay, so as you all know C broke his ankle a couple of weeks ago. And you all also know that he didn't want me to come to Burlington and that I was not happy with his choice. I respected his decision and did not go, but I wasn't happy about it. This is the story of everything around that.

When I first told everyone about his ankle and the fact that he didn't want me there and how torn I was a friend of mine sent me a message telling me that "no one would judge me for not going." I had to raise my eyebrows at this one. I know he was being supportive, not only of my choice not to go but of C's decision not to have me there, however, he's been my friend long enough that he should know the exact number of fucks I give about what anyone else thinks of my parenting choices.

Zero. That would be zero fucks given.

I might question my own parenting choices, I might have a few regrets in things I would have done differently, I might be completely unconventional in a lot of ways, but the only person who gets to openly challenge my parenting and have me actually care is C's father. That's it. I think more people should parent that way instead of by committee. We get so worried about what other people think of us and our decisions that we stop actually thinking about why we make the choices we do. And I know my friend knows this. And like I said, I know he was just being supportive and phrased it in a way that I raised my eyebrows at. Not only because of the zero fucks but because he was high and delirious to think I wouldn't be judged by my choice.

Of course I was judged. Moms are always judged. Work outside the home, stay at home with your kids, breastfeed, stop breastfeeding, solid food, homemade baby food, brands of clothing, lessons, school choices...on and on and on. Dads get it to a certain extent but I've never heard the phrase "daddy wars" have you? So of course I was judged. Sometimes it was really subtle, "Oh I would have been there within a day! You are so strong." sometimes it was overt, "I can't believe you aren't going. He is your CHILD." I just kept repeating to myself that this is what C wanted and that he would be fine. And talking to Brent about it and getting reassurances from him that this was the right call to make.

That doesn't mean I ever got comfortable with the choice. In fact I had a few moments of crisis around it. One happened in Hawaii. See, part of not ever getting comfortable with the choice was a daily check in with C to make sure he was okay. And to reinforce with him that I could still be there by the time he had his surgery. We got home from Hawaii on Friday I could be on a plane Saturday and there with time to spare for his Monday check in. Finally he told me "I got this."

I had to turn to Brent and ask, "Is it as frustrating to hear from me as it is from him?" Because see, that's what I say. "I got this." It's my back off warning. I can handle "it" whatever "it" is and until I tell you I can't then back up and give me room.

And that caused a little moment of crisis for me.

I didn't turn to my parents for much when I was growing up because it never crossed my mind to do so. I've talked about how I got there in earlier blogs, so I'm not going to rehash things, but I just didn't depend on my parents by the time I was in high school. I think this was shocking for them at times, by the time they had the energy to focus on just me and help me out I didn't want it. I didn't have room for it and I never thought to ask for it. When Brent and I decided to get married I can remember telling my parents. I walked down the hall to their bedroom knocked on the door went in and announced it. We were getting married in December, Brent was joining the Navy and would be leaving in January for basic training and I would be joining him when that was over. I didn't ask their opinion or their permission. I just told them what I was doing. I was 17.

So to hear "I got this" directed at me gave me a little moment of doubt. Just a moment. I talked myself back from the ledge of "He thinks we aren't there for him!" to "He is confident he can handle this because we HAVE been there for him." But it was still a moment where all of the mistakes you made as a parent come rushing back, and what if this is another one? What if I really need to be there and I am not there? But I had to trust that he meant it.

Now I have to clarify a little here. If he were 16 and away from home for something he wouldn't have had the choice. Even his freshman year in college I'm not sure I would have let him dictate if we came out or not. But now? He is 21, he's been living on his own for the majority of the year for the past 4 years. He has his own social support network. If he says he's got this he probably really does. And the only way he's going to know if he does or doesn't is to try.

So I didn't go.

Monday came time for the surgery and he left word to have the hospital call when he got out. I'm not going to lie; when the nurse called to give me the update and then put C on the phone and he was groggy and doped to the gills (but still coherent enough to warn me he might not be coherent) I cried. The relief was like a wash over me. I still wanted to be there, but he was fine and so I would be as well.

Then Tuesday hit. Talking to C via text while waiting for service on the car he tells me he doesn't think he will come home for Spring Break. Multi-level house and crutches are not the best mix. I had been holding on to the "Just a few weeks and I will see him and touch him and fuss over him and make sure he is fine" very tightly. Even knowing there was a shot he wouldn't come I had convinced myself that he would. So I broke down in tears in the waiting room of the dealership. Quiet ones, not the big ugly cry, but I still couldn't stop. Then the phone rang and it was another nurse from the hospital. She had seen the note to "Please call my mother with updates" and wanted to make sure someone had called me because she was a mother as well and knew she would want them.

And then...

"So you aren't coming at all?" No, not at all. He wants to handle this on his own and as he is an adult we need to respect his judgement and trust we've raised him to be independent and competent.

"He says he's been using cabs as well as friends for rides. He says he has money but I just wanted to make sure you were aware." Yes, he has money. I sent him extra money. In fact I'm the one who reminded him he could use cabs to get around if he needed to when friends weren't available. Trust me I'm in touch with him.

"He's been really great, but groggy. Hopefully he will be fine when he's on his own. Though the weather is such a mess I'm not sure you could make it anyway." Well he is going back to an apartment he shares with three other people so he won't really be on his own, but yes I hope he handles the transition well. (I didn't say anything about the not so subtle dig that I should still be headed out there, though she was right, the storms that weekend had caused huge travel snarls so even if I had disregarded his choice and gone there is no telling if I would have made it and depending on what cars were left to rent if I would have been any sort of help at all anyway)

"I have to say I hope my 16 year old turns out to be as pleasant and as thoughtful as C is at 21." Well, to have them turn out that way you need to be as lousy of a mom as you seem to think I am so good luck with that...(okay I didn't say that, but I was thinking it by then)

The rest of Tuesday passed with me in about the foulest mood I've been in in years. One of those that is so dark people walk in a wide circle around you as they see you coming. You are just radiating "Don't fuck with me today" vibes. When Brent got in the car after work he said, "Not a good day I take it?" before I even said a word. And as I told him about the day the tears kept coming back. I ignored them because they were pissing me off, and he ignored them because he didn't want to get in the line of my pissedoffness. But they were there.

Then C changed his mind and decided that he would come home after all. Once he was inside the house he can live on the main floor so really it's just negotiating a few stairs in front and he thinks it will be fine. I was relieved but it still took another few hours for the dark cloud to lift. We had chocolate ice cream at the hockey game and that helped.

So is it has been really challenging.

Not for me, for him.

I've had to deal with some self doubt and the typical parenting response of wanting to do everything for your child even when you know that's a bad idea.

He's trying to learn how to negotiate the terrain with crutches and a wheel chair. He's learning just how non-ADA places that say they are ADA really are. He's trying to keep up with school work and lab hours and not go out of his skull with cabin fever. He's had to deal with an overbearing mother on an almost daily basis. He's had his first broken bone, his first set of extreme drugs, his first surgery all in the span of two weeks. And he's done fine.

It's not been easy, I'm sure there have been a lot of times he's been super frustrated and maybe even a few times he's thought it would have been easier to have me there (Hey! It could have happened) but the bottom line is he has handled it. Not because he thought we wouldn't be there for him but because we raised him to know he didn't need us to be.

He's got this.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Coming home...

I think I got about 3 or 4 blogs worth of material while I was in Hawaii. Which is about what I would have written if I had been home (still trying to keep pace for my yearly goal) so now I just have to figure out when I will make up the missed blogs, maybe double blog days? Or a blog a day for a stretch? Or realize I have a lot of year left so no worries? Hmmm....

Anyway...starting with the last Hawaii blog and working my way back.

Right after we boarded the plane on Friday there was an announcement, or two really...they had stopped boarding due to a "boarding emergency" and someone had left a coat in the pre-board area. We weren't sure if the coat was the emergency, you know how they are about things being left behind, but it didn't seem like that was it. Anyway, we were on the plane and sitting while most everyone else was waiting to get on the plane. Except for the woman who left her coat; she was with us. Worked her way back and got her coat. Then back to her seat. Talking the whole time. Chatty one...

So as we are sitting the pilot comes on and says that there has been an electrical issue and the in-flight entertainment needs rebooted. To do this they have to power down the whole plane and bring it back up. I guess it runs on Windows...

So they power down the plane. Planes get really quiet when nothing is running. No fans, nothing. It didn't get super dark because it was 3 in the afternoon, but dimmer for sure. It's kind of eerie. And it reminds you of just how noisy a plane is. Then everything powers back up. The pilot comes back on and says that didn't work so no in-flight entertainment system. Good thing I have a book and don't watch.

Boarding starts again (we have to think the emergency was the powering down part, no one boarding seemed to know of anything else) and we are looking at a late start, but at least we are going.  Pilot comes on again, says the jet stream is very strong so even with the late start we are going to get in early. Yay.

We've been in the air for a few hours and Brent looks over at me with a panicked expression. "What?" "Did you not hear that?" "Nope." So a few rows behind us (remember chatty coat lady?) he had just heard her saying to her flying companion, "Well if it's viral nothing will do any good, and it can't be something you ate because we all ate the same thing." Oh no! Ick sick on the plane! So then the next thing I hear is her telling her sick friend, "Walk all the way to the front of the plane and all the way back, see if that helps."

Umm....what? You are sick and we are all sharing the same canned air but just in case that's not quite enough please walk through the entire plane to spread the love...

So down the aisle comes sick dude. I point him out to Brent who makes the disappointed face, "Great, he's walked past me three times already and touches my seat and brushes my arm each time." So now I am hoping he had bad poi at his luau (is there good poi?) and we haven't just been contaminated with ick sick.

Now, I am sympathetic to flying sick, had a memorable miserable flight home from Louisville one time where my PNW digestive system didn't process the southern fry the fried things and fry them again meal we had the night before. And I've had a few flights home from Vegas where I was a little rough, but both of those I knew what (or who) had caused them. Mystery illness? Nope. I told Brent, "just try to not use the restroom" because sick dude had used both of them on our side of the plane. No non-contaminated option for us. Of course on a 5 hour flight that's pretty much impossible for most non-camel people, so just extra soap clean up of the hands and don't touch anything directly you don't have to.

Now the sympathetic part of me was also feeling badly for him. That strong jet stream? Well it meant strong turbulence. The really bumpy kind. The please stay in your seats and flight attendants take your seats kind. Ugh. Poor guy. I mean poor guy right now but I reserve the right to curse you and your offspring if I end up with the ick sick.

But now we are 3 days out and no problems so I just hope he is fine and all recovered. And who knows maybe it was just a clever way to get rid of the extra vacation pounds?

So the flight home wasn't great, but honestly, it's a flight home from Hawaii so even if everything had been working well, the flight had been smooth as butter and there hadn't been ick sick guy wandering the aisle like a contamination machine it still wouldn't have been great.

Aloha and Mahalo....

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Breakfast conversations...

This morning at breakfast I had to put my fork down and take out my phone to write a quick note. Brent asked if I was okay and I said (very quietly) "Just needed to make a note for my blog." He nodded and said, "Wealth of material right?"

See we went to Arleta Bakery Cafe this morning and it's a very small restaurant. Only about 7 tables in the place and they are very close to each other. The couple who pretty much sat with us (a mother and son, not couple like married or dating) talked. A lot. And it was all just so, well, just so...

There was the point where son told mom very excitedly about talking to his Anatomy and Physiology professor about options for a Phd. program and the interest this instructor has been showing him and his academic and future professional goals. Great right? Well mom followed this very quickly with telling him to go back to his professor and ask for her. Because she wants to do the SAME thing! Isn't that exciting? And fabulous? And...shhh...Mom..shh...don't make him lie to you about talking to his instructor on your behalf. This really isn't about you...

Then there was when he told her about having it pointed out to him that women are socialized differently than men. See in class if a female student walks in late, or asks a question or joins a conversation she apologizes first. Whereas the males just talk. This is an actual phenomenon that is super interesting to behold and he then said, "So now when I'm talking to a girl and she apologizes I tell her not to." Which mom then said, "Well, I see the point but it's not up to you to tell her how to behave, right? Isn't that the same thing she's been socialized in, in the first place? Apologizing for being who she is? Maybe instead of telling her not to you should ask her why she does. She might not even be aware, because the apology isn't an admission of wrong doing, it's a female verbal tic." Which led to an insightful discussion on....nah...I'm just kidding with you. What she did was list a whole bunch of slights that women get, such as going in to sit by themselves in a restaurant and having the greeter say, "Only one?" where they never say that to a single man, or to a couple, "Only two?"

Which is complete bullshit. First off, as a woman you have no idea what a server says to a man. You just don't. But I can tell you as part of a couple we get hit with, "Just the two of you?" all the time. It's not a condemnation that we should be part of a bigger group, it's a clarification that we don't need a bigger table. And Brent did say on the way home that when he travels and eats solo he gets the "Only one?" all the time. See, as a man in that situation he knows what men get asked. There are real, actual, differences in the way men and women are treated and her early 20s son just now seeing them and reacting to them is a perfect opportunity to instill change, but not if you just rail against the world instead of opening a further discussion.

There was the stretch where I felt sad for her. They were talking about Crater Lake and the son was going to go this summer with a friend camping there and she volunteered to go with them as a tour guide. Watching his reaction to that suggestion she back peddled, "you know, only if you want me to, but you don't have to, that's fine." I feel her sting there. Kids and wanting to be adults away from their parents...the nerve.

But she lost me as she started to bash her ex. Oh please, people, if you split up from your partner and you share children don't do this. Please. If your ex really is a piece of shit, trust me, your kids know. They don't need you to drag them in to the petty grievances. Just remember that the person you are talking to is half you and half that piece of shit. That's what you are telling them. You know the half that is like your dad? Or the times you act like your father? Well I think he's a piece of shit so take that with you. Just keep the kids (even if they are grown) out of it. The problems you have in your personal relationships aren't theirs. They are yours. So hush.

And then there was the line that made me pull out my phone. Because it was too beautiful to miss.

Son is telling mom about girlfriend and if they are going to buy a house. He doesn't think so because her credit is even worse than his. He's tried to give her some tips but...and here mom said, "well you can try and help someone by showing them how to be logical and reasonable.." and son came in..."yeah but she's..." and mom and son together..."yes, she's a Scorpio."

So there you have it. You can try to help someone be logical and reasonable but...Scorpio.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Thems the breaks...

We really need to work on transporter technology. I have errands I need to do and I'm stuck in the house. Have been for days. It would be so much easier if I could just get in a little personal sized transporter, beam out to where I need to go, and beam back. Of course during the winter it might be a little crowded. You would have to wait for your specific window to go just to ensure you didn't end up mixed in someone else. But I think it would be super useful.

That's what I was thinking yesterday when I got the text "I'm in the hospital...." C fell on the ice (stupid winter) and broke his ankle. It's sort of amazing to me that some of the phrases we use without thinking about them actually happen. "I'm just sick" really happens. The bottom dropped out of my stomach, the blood left my face.  And I wanted to be there. Right then. That transporter technology suddenly seemed like less of a pipe dream and more of a NEED THIS. I texted back and forth with him, not a lot of details, he fell, sure it was broken, at the ER, was alone (!) but people knew he was there and would come get him when he was ready to go home...Then the big bomb; surgery sooner rather than later. As soon as the swelling goes down. Probably 7-10 days. I asked if they had a good estimate because I need to make a plane reservation. Started thinking, well, 7-10 days so fly out Saturday on the red-eye assume he will probably have surgery Sunday or Monday, stay until Wednesday and...

And he told me no.

Wait, what? There is no "no" here. There is only I will be there. So then Brent put it in perspective, what would I have said to my mom at 21 about coming out for a broken ankle? I told him that wasn't the point. But it is. Completely. C is a grown up. He's a really good grown up as well. Funny, bright, considerate, all of the things you hope for as a parent. And independent. Which is a great personality trait. Until he gets independent from me right when I feel the strongest need to go right back to being MOM.

I'm not going to lie; there is a big part of me that wants to ignore him and go anyway. But that's not fair to him. He wants to handle this on his own, not have me come in. And really what would I do? Sit and wait while he had surgery, which is more for me than him, make him come back to the hotel with me for a day at least instead of going back to his apartment, which again, more for me than him. It might make it easier for him to have me there to do everything I can for him, but that's not really my job as a parent. To make things easy. It never has been. My job was to give him the skills to take care of things. And to remind him that one of the ways to take care of things is to ask for help when you need it. And to trust that if he decides he really does need me there he will ask. And to hide the credit card so I don't buy a ticket anyway...

So anyway, I am now looking at our trip to Hawaii again. Which I have to tell you I am less excited for than I was. Hard to set aside the worry. No matter how many times C says "Don't worry." But I'm sure once we are there and in the sun and busy and checking in daily with C I will be fine.

We leave tomorrow, the weather is supposed to break so hopefully the trip to the airport and the flight will happen as scheduled and the house/cat sitters will be here with no issues. Everyone will get where they need to get. But wouldn't it all be so much easier if we just had a transporter to use?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


"I just don't think like that, you know? A car is just a car. I drive them for years, my current car is 10 years old, I just can't see buying a new one what a waste of money. Right?"

Then Julie (my dental hygienist) took the tools out of my mouth so I could answer. See, she talks while she works, but she makes you talk back so there is always the pause while the various instruments are taken out and you can rinse and spit and then answer her.

So here is where I have to make the choice, just nod and smile or admit the truth. "Yeah, I'm not the right person to ask about that. I love a new car." Trying to count back I think we've had 15 cars over the course of our marriage. It could be 16, I feel like I'm missing one, but at least 15. Probably half were used when we bought them and during most of that time we were a two car family so that increased the number, but still, that's a lot of cars.

So we talked about cars and what we've owned and what I liked best. She is looking at buying another car, and as she drives them for a decade the thought process is that when she is ready for a new one this car would be handed off to her daughter to drive.

I answered that my two favorite cars to drive were my second Civic and the BMW. For different reasons. We talked about handling, and road feel, and responsiveness. We talked about our current new car. I like the Audi. I really do. It's a good car. I don't have any complaints. I just already know that we will go back to the BMW after this one. I like the way the BMW feels connected to the road. No other car I've ever driven feels as "stuck" as the BMW did.

And then I started thinking last night about the cars and how they fit in to our lives. The first car we had was Vinnie. My beater Vega. It was my first car. Or I could say cars I guess. My dad got it for me before I even got my license. No idea what he did for it, but some sort of barter/work deal. And it sat and waited for me. It was a Vega station wagon, red with a decal paint thing down the side that was purple and blue and shiny. Now there are people who I went to school with thinking, I don't remember that? Well that's because my brother's car was kaput one day so he took mine and wrecked it. I hadn't even gotten to drive it yet and it was done. My dad found another body in the junk yard and pieced together Frankencar for me. Away went the shiny decal. And the car tended to look more orange red than deep red. But it was mine.

Our next car was cursed. It was my parent's old car. Bright yellow Capri. BRIGHT yellow. And it got hit every time we turned around. By the time we gave up on it and gave it to my sister it was literally held together with duct tape and bailing wire. And she got hit two more times in it before she gave it away. We were never sure if it was because it was so bright that people were blinded and ran in to it or what. But BRIGHT yellow, people, how could you miss it? And I guess they didn't....

Then we bought Christine from Jim. It was his car in high school, his grandparent's car before that. It had a 350 Chevy small block engine. Looked like a grandma car but could blow the doors off of anyone in a race. Not that I raced it. That would have been wrong. After Christine was the 300 ZX with the t-top. Super fun car for California. When you would put the car in gear it would drop. Felt like you were sitting about 3 inches off the road. And it cooked. It was a 2+2 so technically it had a back seat, but it wasn't much of one. Took a memorable road trip from San Diego to Alameda (where they keep the nuclear wessels) with 4 of us crammed in that car. Don't recommend it.

Now that lowering? It was great for Southern California, not so great for Idaho. When the snow hit I was stuck inside. I couldn't drive the car without getting high centered on the ice moguls in the road. And since I had a baby I needed to cart around as well it wasn't practical anymore. In came the first of the new new cars. An Accord. A sedan. A grown up car. It was a turning point. Where safety and comfort (can we get the car seat in and out easily?) became more important than how fast can this puppy go?

From there on out cars became more than just speed. Or looks. They had to serve the right purpose. When we got to a space where a second car was needed we would end up with the family car and the other car. For a few years the family car was my car. The first Accord then a second one, brand new off the truck with 7 miles on it when I got the keys. I worked for Honda at the time and got to pick it out and order it and track the car as it headed my way. Loved that car. And the first week I had it someone hit it in a parking lot. I remember walking out of the grocery store and looking to where I had parked my car and thinking, "Oh that can't be right, my car is brand new, that one has a bashed bumper." Oh no, it was mine. I was sick. Hadn't even made a payment on it yet. But the benefit of working for a dealership was they fixed it up for me and unless you were at the exact right angle you couldn't tell. Did it again when someone keyed every car parked along the street at work. Ugh.

A few years later we traded in that car and Brent's current car (it was either the Mustang or the second 300 ZX, can't remember) and got the Expedition and a baseline Civic. The family car switched to Brent's car and the other was mine. I only drove it to drop C off at school and then to the Max stop to catch the train to work. It didn't need to be anything fancy. The Expedition was fun. Sitting up above the traffic and able to see what was going on was great. It also held the three of us and the 4 Staggs so when we wanted to all go do something we could take one car. At the time C was still in sports and we were thinking ahead to that as well.  But then we moved, he dropped sports and gas went over $3 a gallon for the first time. Eek! Time to switch again. Though I was glad to have it for winter in Colorado it was nice to trade it in and pay less than $75 to fill the tank.

But from there on out the family car became Brent's and mine was the other. Thus the second Civic. It was a coupe. Gorgeous lines on the car and zippy. The thought was that we would have it paid off and C could take it as his car when he was old enough. But then the time came and he wasn't interested in driving. And I quit my job. And we went down to one car. We had an Acura for awhile, figured we really liked Hondas so the Acura would be a logical choice. Yuck. Hated it. Couldn't wait to get rid of it. It was after the first BMW and we went right back to BMW. Then this year it was time again. I wanted something with either front or all wheel drive. Rear wheel just doesn't cut it for me in the snow anymore. Not that I generally drive it in much, but when I do I'd rather have surer footing. So we did the trade again. And now we have the Audi.

And I look back at my Vega and wonder what the girl who drove that car would think of the Audi. To start the Vega you had to pull out a manual choke, start the car, ease the choke back in. If you drove it for more than a week it needed a quart of oil. I actually got pulled over once and given a ticket for "excessive smoke." But I loved that car. Like I said, it was mine. I didn't have to ask my parents for permission to drive it. It was freedom. Sitting in that car it was my own space. Mine. And I think that has to be where the car love started. Each car we've had has reflected where we are in life. Kid, no kid, luxury, speed? Gas prices, one car or two? Lease, loan, paid in full. Each different. But all the same. When I get in the car and start it up (now the push of a button instead of the pull of the choke) and turn on the radio (satellite instead of the boom box on the seat next to me) it's mine. My space. My little pocket of movable freedom.

So what would that girl think?

I have to think knowing how I was then, and who I am now that as she kicked off her shoes, put the seat as far back as she could, put a toe on the brake, started the engine with a single push of a button and listened to how smoothly the engine runs...well...she would be pissed as fuck that she couldn't smoke in it....

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pick one!

I haven't been sleeping well the past few nights and then last night when I finally slept I had a crazy bad dream. If I wrote horror I would probably try and turn it in to a short story, but honestly I just want the images to go away.

I'm also taking a week off from working out before we go to Hawaii. I have a fairly active schedule booked out for us with a few small hikes and swims and such. Right now my knees sound well, rough, rough works. I have a feeling when we get back I will be at the doctors getting some PT scheduled. They don't hurt...much. But they are swollen and loud. Very loud.

So the lack of sleep, bad dreams, no work outs, combo is causing a busy brain scattered thoughts issue.

I was going to sit down and write a fiction piece. I have a few lines bopping around in my head, but I realized other than those lines I am not sure where I want the story to go.

Then I thought about writing about being surprised when people remember me. And tying that in to a story about an old high school boyfriend. But I keep getting part way in and then changing subjects.

Instead of writing or working out this morning, which is what I normally would have done by now, I've been watching the little Facebook videos that are going up. It's interesting to me to see what Facebook chooses to include. Mine made me a bit misty. The first picture they showed of my "earliest posts" was a visit from my parents. Everyone has their back turned to the camera, and it makes me laugh. Not the best picture, but I know what we were doing and looking at and can even hear my mother and father talking. Good stuff. Looking at other people's videos I just know they are probably a little misty as well.

The rest of the day will be a challenge. I can already see it coming. I have a few things I want to do but I'm not sure I have the focus to get them done. I might start one or two or 12 and see how they go. Or I might decide it's a sit on the couch and watch TV day. Or read a book. Or do all of the things at once...that's probably more likely.

I imagine when Brent gets home tonight he will ask "what did you do today?" and I will stare blankly at him from the middle of  pile of kitchen supplies, coloring books, half watched TV shows on the DVR and a book I've read the same chapter in 3 times lost somewhere in the house, I'm betting the linen closet, and say..."Ummm...don't know."

Monday, February 3, 2014

In search of perfection...

It all started out innocently enough.

I've noticed over the past year or so that I not only inherited my father's eye color but also his eyelids. The left one is in the lead but the right is starting. They are getting a little puffy pocket in the corner. If it continues the same way Dad's did eventually I will have to have a little procedure to remove it so it doesn't affect my vision. Not technically plastic surgery like you think of for vanity sake, but plastic surgery nonetheless.

But as I looked at my eye and tried to guess how long it would be before it was a real issue I thought about what else I would have done, if I were the type to get things like that done.

I'd get a tummy tuck. Just get rid of that little rounded bit that has been there since I had C and decided I was eating for 12. And while I was at it I would smooth out the skin. Get rid of those stretch marks. Lift my boobs. I've always wanted perky boobs. They don't need to be bigger, but higher would be nice. Oh and smooth out my legs and butt. I've had cellulite since I was born and wouldn't it be nice to have it all go away? And lift everything there too. Just tighten it all up. It would make the muscles stand out more and just be smoother. Oh and since I am resurfacing things, how about my face? Just to get rid of the scarring from the bout of hormonal cystic acne in my 30s. That would be lovely. To go back to the face I had in my 20s. Or at least the scar free 40s version of the 20s face.

And yes, I realize that this idealized version of me is exactly what advertisers sell to us every day. Smooth. Blemish free. Tight. And that nobody really looks like that without help. And it's silly to even want it when I know it's not natural.

But that doesn't stop me from looking in the mirror and lifting, squeezing, smoothing...

The surgery will never happen. I'm not a fan of the idea of major surgery for vanity. Anytime you go under anesthesia there is a danger of complications. And then with the things I want done I would get one result but end up with scars. So would that be better? I don't think so.

And what about unintentional results? I remember an interview with Kenny Rogers years ago, before his latest round of oh my god what have you done, back when he had a little lipo to get rid of his love handles. He was talking about after the surgery his back got fat. See he removed the fat cells in his belly but still was eating too much and his body had to store it someplace so...back fat. And then there is the oh my god what have you done aspect. Sometimes things don't turn out quite like you imagined and you end up with a face that is unrecognizable, not only as your face but as a thing found in nature at all.

So I'll keep the body I have. Knowing that the little rounded bit at the bottom of my stomach is there because I grew a person. That my boobs don't sit high and round on my chest because I'm 45 and I've had them since I was 9. That's a lot of living with these girls, and if they are a little more relaxed, well so am I so that's cool. The scarring, well let's see, it's a reminder that stress can do serious things to you and that you should pay attention. The cellulite? Yeah, I will rail against that the rest of my life. I know that it has to do with connective tissue and mine is just prone to splitting but...nope, not ever going to be happy about that one.

And that's okay as well. I don't have to think everything is perfect to love it anyway. My legs and butt might not be smooth but they are strong. I can kick down a door if I need to. Not that I've ever had to, but it's nice to know I could if I needed to. The scars are mine. The pouches and puffs and droops are as well. And all put together it's not bad, not bad at all.

And will all of that self affirmation keep me from tucking and pulling and smoothing in the mirror every once in awhile?

Hell no.

Yeah, sorry, I could have lied and said Of course! I'm all shiny and new and full of self love, but you all would know I was lying so instead I will just say, in the right clothes, in the right light, with the right people, who have had the right amount to drink, I am just as perfect as I ever was.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

You've got to bleed for it...

Yesterday after posting my 31st blog I had a little mini discussion with a friend of mine who also writes. You can see it on the Facebook page for my blog. We have different writing processes. He's a polisher, you wouldn't see his work until it's been written and rewritten. I'm a brain dumper. Or at least for my blog.

I don't rewrite (as you can tell) much of what gets posted here. I have other stories in other folders that I work on, fuss over, change each word in a sentence so many times over that you can't even tell what the original sentence was anymore. The endless polishing and rewriting of something that you want to get "just so" before you send it out in the world. I still have to open the folders from November and work on the rewrites for that story. I've been putting it off because for now I can imagine there is some brilliance in there, but I'm worried it's all cranked out crap. I will look after I get home from Hawaii. I will live my fantasy for a few weeks longer.

But the thing that got me really thinking was a quote that Svet posted by Charles Bukowski: "If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is."

Okay, a few things, Bukowski was a poet. And he was German. And an alcoholic. So he's kind of predisposed to this sort of thing. But I actually see it a lot. Maybe not a dramatic as this, but like I said German, poet, alcoholic. People will tell you that if you don't really work for something you can't appreciate it. Blood, sweat and tears.

But I'm not that person. I'm not saying I don't know how to work hard. Or that I don't work hard when it's called for. But if what I am doing is making me miserable and there is no way to stop being miserable while doing that thing, I stop. I think hard work and misery are two different things. I know there is a romantic image of the writer or poet suffering for their art. The starving artist. From great pain comes great art. And all that jazz. And there are other people in the world who are successful in their fields who love to tell you their tale of struggle. I walked uphill in the snow...

But does it have to be that way to really be worth something?

Does the suffering make it better?

Do you really appreciate it more if you struggled to make it happen?

I'm not sure.

At least not for me.

I can tell you that I have been successful at things I struggled through. And things that I enjoyed every minute of getting there. Did I appreciate the ones I struggled at more? Not really. It becomes a spite win. I will do it, just to prove I can. But I'm not really happy with the result, because I wasn't happy with the process. Because that's the way I'm wired. I want to be happy with what I am doing. The process, the journey, is the end result. If I am unhappy 90% of the time to get to that 10% of perfection it stops being worth it to me.

So that means brain dump blogs and short stories here. And the polished stories in folders to be sent off to be published, after a few more rounds of polishing. And the only way the ones can be polished is if I have the happy free space to write what I want as the words tumble out of my head here. Because I really struggle with the polishing. And truthfully some of my favorite stories are the ones I write here in an hour and never change a single word of.

There are people in the world though who love the struggle of it. If they aren't at least slightly uncomfortable they don't feel alive. If they aren't a little miserable they don't feel like they can create something worthwhile. Beauty is pain. Blood is the life force behind the art. And they do make beautiful art. They write wonderful books. They create incredible pieces. But I can't do it that way. If the smile leaves my face for too long I start looking for something else.

So I'm not a German, poet, alcoholic.

And I'm okay with that.