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Thing I do best in the whole world:
I can sweat with the best of ’em. Without even trying, I sweat like a badass. I get uncomfortably warm when the temp noses above 65, and all bets are off. I found myself in the airconditioned haven of Target the other day, fanning myself for relief and looking longingly into the freezer tubs, thinking, I wonder if they’d throw me out if I hopped in and rolled around in the beef? (I did not hop in.)
So why in all the holy hells did we just buy a treadmill?
One word, friends, one word: Research.
Yes, research. I do this, right? I want to know more about something, so I jump in whole hog and make a concerted effort to get to the bottom of things and understand them. And what I want to know right now is what it feels like to be a person who enjoys exercise.
I’ve never been sporty. Ever. I played field hockey for a semester in the eighth grade because everyone had to play a sport to pass the year, and I hated it. I hated the softball team I was forced to join in the fourth grade. I hated swim club (exercise with the added attraction of the potential to accidentally drown? Exercise while intermittently holding your breath? Are you kidding me?) I’m uncoordinated as fuck, and even my yoga practice (which isn’t really exercise so much as rolling around on the floor for 20 minutes) hasn’t done much to make it better.* I remember getting winded riding my bike as a kid. I even remember Kathy Arsenault in the seventh grade, talking about how she loved her morning run and the muscle definition it gave her, and squinting at her, thinking, Man that sounds terrible. I tried running a couple years ago and I cried through the whole thing.** So what the hell is going on now?
This is what research looks like for me:
Obsessive hunting down of information (which could take anywhere from hours to months), coupled with a bookmarks list in my Chrome account the length of my arm, coupled with a browser history that brings me the occasional deep and burning shame. And, frequently, an expression plastered on my face that’s somewher between “Oh! Oh, I Had No Idea…” and “What In the Actual Fuck?”
Consequently, my husband & I have an agreement that whoever goes first, the other one will erase their browser history and burn their journals, preferably before family arrives, optimally, before the medical examiner’s big grey van pulls up to the curb.
Because I am a curious fish, and I will Google, really, anything.
I mean, it’s one thing when I want to know about commencement speeches. It’s only mildly embarrassing to admit that sometime in the end of June I will inevitably find myself cleaning closets while sobbing as someone’s YouTube playlist runs on my laptop for three or four hours.*
It’s entirely another thing to not know, and then seach to find out what the terms “Destiel” and “Wincest” mean. And surely “knot” is just some Aussie slang for the common human penis? (Spoiler: nope. And you can thank me now that I’ve done the research so you don’t have to, because iw.)** For the record, I know now that the descriptor “slash” is not entirely synonymous with “fanfiction.”
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So occasionally I get panicky about my son, Our Man Cub. It doesn’t happen that often – he’s really got good accountability, and we have a pretty great relationship, so I generally have a clue about things going on with him. Also, we share a desk, so I have at least his side of the conversation to glean the goings on from.* In general, I don’t ask a lot from him aside from chores and school and, you know, being a good member of our household. One of the things I do ask of him is for him to let me know where he is when he’s out and about. When he hangs out with his friends after school, the deal is that he texts his dad to remind him to swing by after work and pick him up. ‘Cos, dinner, natch.
Well, on Friday we got no text. Will Dearest called me to ask if Our Man Cub had come home instead of going to his friend’s place. And then it got wonky.
I mean, my first instinct read that he’d turned his phone off in school and then forgotten to turn it back on. Things happen.** That morphed into the possibility that he had his phone on DND (which I’ve done accidentally), or that his reception was poor. So I decided to call a few times. Ok, four times. Five? Anyway, he didn’t answer. So I decided to text bomb him in hopes that his pocket would eventually buzz.
What wound up happening is that my texts never actually went through – just like the text that he had sent to his dad when he got off the bus with his friend. He did eventually look at his phone and notice that there were five calls from home, and he called me and everything got straightened out. But in the meanwhile, I sent him a bunch of texts, all the while trying to keep it light – because while the rational me was repeating the mantra of, Cell service is poor in parts of town. Cell service is poor in parts of town. Cell service is poor in parts of town, irrational me was screaming something about ditches and bad people and shop accidents and the mothership. Yeh, ok, so that worry from when they’re tiny? Apparently, it doesn’t ever actually go away.
Man Cub eventually did get the text – his pocket went off when he got into the car with his dad. We all had a good giggle – so it turns out I’m funny when I’m nervous, who knew?*** And on Saturday when he went out with friends and kept me posted about where they were, I sent him back a whale with four bars, because he earned it, natch.
I apologize for the lack of a cut on this entry, but the image is just too big. And after wrassling with the screenshots to make them all one, I don’t have it in me to go back and cut the sucker in two. Also, one-bar whales are endangered (I heard it from a good source on teh internets). so I don’t want to accidentally cut one of them in half.
*Here’s what I can tell is going on: his friends are nice to hang out with and they are funny more often than not, and they poke good natured fun at each other. College is a priority, and so is co-op. They’re not all boys; there are some smart girls that they hang out with. The Ender Dragon is a big boss in a square world. Also, making sure the balloon is fixed is of utmost priority. Hands Like Houses is playing on Friday, they’ll be taking the bus here after school, and I’m responsible for driving them to the show and picking them up after. That’s what I know today.
**Personally, I’ve lost my phone in the bottom of my handbag with the ringer off for a goodly amount of time. It never rang, so I never went looking for it. At bedtime when I went to set the alarm, I tore the house apart. Eventually I dumped the handbag and it came bouncing out (it’s a good case), and everything was fine. But had it been a Friday night, I might not have found it until Sunday.
***Generally, anxiety just makes me belch. Which is great when it’s social anxiety because I’m meeting someone for the first time. Good. Times.
Good morning, and welcome to Pretty Pretty Princessland, winter edition.* I am currently blogging it up in my pjs and bathrobe, with a nice hot cup of coffee, IN BED. Yes, sister, I am blogging in bed.
And really, what’s that about? you may ask. I might spend some sweet space justifying purchases here, but, really, let’s cut to the chase: teenagers today (the delightfully nerdy ones, at least – you know, my favorite ones) don’t use the phone so much as talk for hours over Skype while playing together on the same Minecraft server, and recording it for YouTube, and I share a desk with Our Man Cub. Which is to say, it can become a touch noisy at my desk. And I payed down the Best Buy card from the winter holidays last week. So a Chrome Book? Yes, please. I joked that I would blog in bed, and so here I am test driving that business, in bed, cup of coffee, big orange cat purring up a storm beside me, and all up in some soft blankets. Also, I sat in my studio the other day and collaged like a badass while watching Netflix. SO MUCH WIN.
SO! I’m trying to indulge myself more. Does that sounds ridiculous so early into the year? I know everyone’s all about getting back on the stick and losing weight and being more disciplined about their exercise regime, and cutting out sugar and all that – it’s resolution time, still, after all. But I’m so totally into indulgence tight now.
Honestly, I’ve been working like a dog since about mid-November. With the museum where Will Dearest and I work(ed)** closing down and then the cleaning and moving and consolidating, I’ve been on my feet constantly, and not taking very good care of me terribly well. And I discovered something important: when I don’t pour enough sugar on the everyday, when I come home exhausted and eat junk food and zone out, just waiting for it to be late enough to go to bed, and then get up and do it all over again, I don’t like being me so much. When I operate like that, even my weekends go to the dogs – I spend a ton of time just sitting still and feeling sorry for myself over how much energy I’m expending for someone else (no mind that I’m being, you know, paid for it, and that I really like the people I work with, and that I actually like the work I’m doing there) and how I never get enough time to do my stuff and blah blah blah whine whine whine oh, my feet. Yeh, I don’t like living in that headspace. It’s like moving a 9′ metal horse through a 7′ door – you can do it, it’s just really hard and involves a lot of heavy lifting.
Oh, November, how full you have been!
The biggest part of the month, of course, has been the annual gathering of the family at our place for Thanksgiving. As a blended family that isn’t terrifically religious, it was fairly easy to split up the holidays when Will Dearest and I got hitched – his family would get Christmas, and my family would get Thanksgiving. When my brother lived in FL, it made the most sense for our little household to get our bags packed and head down for a long weekend, and we’d all share a dinner together there. But then my brother moved up here, found the love of his life, and they had kids, and travel became a little less simple across the board. Now it’s much easier for our parents to fly up here and our auntie in NJ to drive up. Also there are perks to this arrangement – when my family comes into town, it means that Will’s family, who are all local, can join us too. It’s a mighty bit of something, a table for 18 (when all the kids are accounted for), and I’m pleased to make it.
The nicest thing about this year was that the cousins are all in the same age range, and all pretty much out of the parallel play dynamic. So there were four of them, and they were all able to really sort of meet each other this year. And by “meet,” I mean to say, run around the open-layout apartment, squealing at each other and giggling their little heads off. They had so much fun, I’m tempted to set up a play date for all four of them at our house again.
This beautiful sort of coming together is the highlight of autumn for me. I look forward to it, really, from August*, when I start the planning. I really like looking across the big tables that we set up in the living room/office, and looking at everyone together over the meal. I love that things have worked out so everyone is together, when we’re a little scattered and living our own separate stuff all the rest of the year.
So coming back together has been a big part of things this month. Can we talk poetry for a minute? Because it’s happened there for me, too.
From the London MCM Expo – I just love these clips to piecey partses!
When I cannot hold my shit together, which has been known to happen a time or two, I turn into an escapist like whoa. I read books that take place on other planets. I cook things I don’t generally cook. I buy new first person shooter videogames or binge on MI-5 episodes. I watch Serenity for the umpteenth time and then follow that business up with the whole Firefly series over the course of a week. I listen to the score from The Elder Scrolls IV Morrowind while I do anything that actually has to get done. I go through my file folder of torn-out articles about Iceland and get daffy over the fantasy that I will one day actually have a passport* and go there.
I totally collect pictures of places. And when I get stressed out, I flip through them. Hello, Pinterest. This is where I go at least twice a day during the working day – feel free to browse and sigh too. For example:
I know, I know, we’re only up to No. 3 and I started this when it was cold out! It’s not so much that there aren’t delightful things to be found, it’s just that I’ve been monster-sized busy lately, and I want to give this project good, focused attention (focus is at a premium right now) . BUT! Um, here I am with a review, right?
So let’s talk about That’s Entertainment, or TE, as we call it around No. 208. Man Cub went in there the other night to trade in some games for store credit and was astounded that he walked out of the place with a handful of games, a couple of comics, and an Xbox controller, and only spent a dollar of his precious lawn-mowing money in the process. Dearest Will explained to him on the car ride home, that when you’ve remained a super good customer for eight years, that the people behind the counter tend to treat you well.*
Has it been eight years? For reals? Holy carp, it has.
File under N for Not My Best Moment in Parenting: when Man Cub was in first grade, I threw (pitched!) a copy of the Mouse and the Motorcycle across my bedroom, and ran sobbing into the bathroom, something about you’ll have to do this with your father! rolling through my throat in a (thankfully) unintelligible manner. It wasn’t that I had any sentimentality for the mouse, or that I had an issue with Beverly Cleary. It was that Man Cub was supposed to be reading to me as part of his homework, and rather than actually reading, he was fighting the reading, one freaking word at a time. This was not an issue of inability – he’s always been a quick study, and I had no doubts that he could learn to read. But it was clear that he was a resistant reader – he just didn’t want to.
Which was heartbreaking – I was the kid (and really, am still the adult) whose best escape plans always involved a book. It was also monumentally frustrating to get through an evening’s homework – there was squirming, there was complaining, there were tears (mine, mostly), and there was more complaining. There was more complaining than actually reading, in fact.
So that fateful day when I stormed out of the bedroom where we had been “reading,” I retreated to a hot shower and had myself a Think. There had to be a better way to do this – there freaking had to be. And then it hit me – as soon as I get clothes on, kid, we’re going for a drive.
Summer is officially here – it’s Solstice, school has let out, and summer camp begins on Monday. And soon we shall install Pretty Pretty Princess Land* in order to beat the heat.
Our Man Cub is now officially a high school student! The middle school held a ceremony for the leaving eighth-graders yesterday, and I totally got weepy when they all filed into the auditorium. It felt like when he was graduated from grade school two years ago, and it felt like when all the kindergarteners were lined up at the end of the year and paraded around. He’s growing up.
I’m excited for him, and I’m scared for him, this gangly, tall, hairy-legged boy. And I hear that’s right about where I should be, as a parent. This year brings a new school, new bus, new classes and friends, and a new sense of freedom. It’s huge. (Also, I’m freaked out about driving and about the costs of college, but that’s a different story.** )
The most exciting/scary part of this all is remembering what business I got myself into in to high school. Dude. I did some stuff – a lot of it reckless, a lot of it without permission, all of it without experience. I drove into some things with my car. *** I cut some classes.† I smoked on the sly. I had sexy times. I drank some drinks that my friends said were harmless.†† Really, the least of my trouble-making was the part my parents complained most about, dressing in black and listening to Bauhaus at volume.
When I was little, there was a darkroom off the living room – I’m pretty sure it had once been a closet. It was my father’s darkroom, built with his own two hands. There was a red light, and there was equipment and paper in there, and it smelled of chemicals that I came to associate with my dad and with grownup stuff. My dad carried his camera pretty much everywhere when I was little – it may or may not have been a Minolta. Whatever the camera was, he took some truly bitchin’ black and white photos, and he processed them himself (I was really impressed by this when I was little – I still remain impressed, to be honest) over the course of my childhood, in a series of smallish rooms cordoned off in every house we lived in. When the digital age arrived, he moved on to digital cameras, of course, and the darkrooms disappeared. At some point he picked other hobbies,* and really only shoots pictures now at family events or when he and my mom go on vacation. They’re still really good pictures, just not as many.
Me, I never got into photography that much. When I was thirteen, I ended up with a Minolta that had once been my dad’s. I dropped it directly on its lens onto a brick sidewalk in Princeton, NJ, and the cap got jammed so tight it had to be taken to a camera shop to get fixed, and I had to borrow two weeks of allowance in order to do it. I brought the camera home from that outing in tears – I was mortified, and also afraid to pick it up ever again. I think I shot something like two rolls of film, all told. When my son was born, I shot lots of pictures for, like, two years – but I never had the money to develop them,** and once it became apparent that I took pictures and never developed them, I stopped taking pictures altogether.
But now, zomg, I got a phone.