Tag Archives: Children

Lessons Via Bastards Telling You Painful Stories

Once upon a Christmas Eve while visiting home for the holidays, my step-father, after having consumed his customary seven to eight gallons of cheap, rotgut whiskey, cornered me in the kitchen and apologized, ad nauseam, for being such a gigantic douchebag my whole life. He then elaborated on his sorrow by telling me a story I could have happily lived the rest of my life never having heard.

Before I relay the details of this glorious yuletide tale, (cause shiz about to get real……personal, that is) I want to pre-defend my mother’s honor. She was a very good mom, my mama: sweet, warm, loving, super fun and deeply devoted to her one and only child. As a human being, she is equally stellar: funny, intelligent, strong, reliable, incredibly talented and in possession of a heart as big as the mighty universe. But she came into this world with birth defects, back when ruthless bullying didn’t make the news or launch outraged media campaigns to abolish it, so she suffered. Greatly. Horribly. And, naturally it follows that, with low self esteem so instilled, perhaps she didn’t make the best choices in men. To this she always said, “I didn’t have that many options.” Given the right guidance in life, she may have felt differently. She may have empowered herself and she may have discovered many more desirable options, but that’s just not how our collective cookie crumbled.So….what happened was….

Back in that 2007 Christmas Eve kitchen, with my mother and my boyfriend serving as the audience, my step-father cornered me and muttered sloppy, random apologies about my upbringing over his ethanol-laden breath. Then, out of nowhere, he slurred the following cringe-inducing confession: “I feel bad sometimes…..like for that one time…..that one time me ‘n yer mom went to the bar……and you were sleepin’ in the backseat…..you musta been about three years old….and we left you asleep in the car….. while we had some drinks…..I don’t know how long it was….but then this one fucking asshole comes in…..he’s all pissed off….and he yells, at the top of his lungs, ‘WHO THE FUCK LEFT THEIR FUCKING KID ASLEEP OUT IN A FUCKING CAR???!!!’ ….and I kicked that guy’s ass. That guy was a fucking asshole!”

Isn’t that great?! Wonderful story, yes? One to snuggle up with loved ones and tell by fireside every Christmas, for generations to come. Warm family fuzzies for EVERYBODY! (Christ Almighty.)

As Step-Daddy-Dearest recounted his version of deplorable events, I remember turning to my then-boyfriend, now-husband, with wide dear-god-make-it-stop eyes. In that moment I felt an awful mixture of absurdity and embarrassment, and I sent the following message with my fully rounded, please-kill-me eyeballs: “Oh Scottie, I knew I was fucked up. I knew my childhood was fucked up, and that I am ultimately, psychologically, and possibly irreparably fucked up. But I didn’t know I was THIS fucked up! And I’m sorry. I would have warned you if I could’ve. I’m so sorry. If you leave me, I will completely understand. Matter of fact, you should probably leave me now. Save yourself. This ship isn’t sinking. It wrecked a long, long time ago.”

He didn’t leave me, though. He married me instead. Turns out he had a less than Norman Rockwell upbringing himself. Not Child Protective Services worthy, not even close, but his parents’ marriage couldn’t be categorized as a healthy one – and he picked up a good number of his own relationship-killing habits watching that mess go down. Even still, 2015 will mark our ten year anniversary. Ten years of working on taming our inner-insulant-children, and ten years of helping one another to do a lot of growing up. Progress. Improvement. Growth and expansion. My oh my, but it’s a marvelous thing.

I only wish my mom could revel in the same sense of accomplishment, having battled and won so much in her time. Because, while her husband sat spewing old, drunken, dirty family laundry that Christmas Eve,I looked over and found her with her head hung in shame – which simply broke my heart. I hate to see her in pain. I’ve seen much too much of my mom in pain. She’s dealt with more than her fair share of suffering this lifetime, and she really did do the best she could by me. Her parenting wins far outweigh her parenting fails. She taught me honesty and integrity. She taught me compassion and (though it took me something like 25 years to show it) responsibility. She taught me how to love with my whole heart. And, whenever anyone compliments me on what a good mother I am, I let them know I’m only emulating her example – and her overall example was LOVE.

Again, I could have died a happy woman never knowing that I was once a tiny, blonde, pigtailed three year old left alone in the back of a car (1979 Camaro? 1976 Nova? It’s anybody’s whitetrash guess), while her mother and her mother’s jerk of a boyfriend went to drink in a bar. In fact, after hearing the story, it took me months to absorb it. Sorta shook me up. In a logical sense, it shouldn’t have. There are much lousier childhood incidents I can recall easily and vividly, but I still tear up when I think about that little girl left alone.

It’s not the worst thing that ever happened to a child. As far as kids and atrocities go, I got off all sorts of lucky. But a wound is a wound. A scar is a scar. And a drunken stepdad on Christmas Eve is a pitifully old, selfishly unburdening-himself bastard. However uncomfortable inebriated step-dad’s over-sharing might have been, it afforded the opportunity to confront a bunch of my ancient mental bullshit, and it prompted me to work on getting the sam hell over it. I’m far from all the way over it (clearly), but I’m getting there.

What I find truly fascinating, even encouraging, is the idea that I might just be a better person for it. For ALL of it. All the sad, all the shame, all the massive heartache: the whole tumultuous lot of my youth. This notion that it didn’t just “all work out in the end”, or that I didn’t merely “turn out okay”, but rather than it all meant something and it was all intrinsically necessary in order for to me be ME…….well, I dig that. I get that. It makes sense. I lived it all, and now the trick appears to be learning to love it all.
.
If you pay attention, all existential roads seem to lead back to love.
And if you’re not getting there….maybe you (we, US) are doing it wrong.

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Letters to a Tall Girl: Part II – From Dad

Dear Maddy,

I can’t tell you what it’s like to not be tall.  I’ve always been tall.  It’s not always easy – clothes are too short, there’s not enough leg room, people always assume you play basketball, you have to be careful so you don’t bang your head or strain your back.  But you know what?  All sizes have their pros and cons.  And very often, human beings want to be what they are not.

My sister had super curly hair – so she wanted straight hair.  You will find that many short people wish they were taller.  Some things we can change to a degree – hair color & length, body weight, getting a tan – but height is not one of them. (Well, shorter people can wear heels or platform shoes.) If you’re tall, you are going to stay tall.  It’s part of who you are; your genetics.  Embrace it.  Be closer to the sun and the stars.  Raise your head and breathe deeply from the clearer air only tall people can reach.  Help shorter people when they need it – change a light bulb, get something from a shelf, look for their friend (or yours) in a crowd.  Hopefully, they will return the favor by crawling under the table to retrieve something you dropped or shoveling snow.

When you are old enough to sit there, you should always try to get an exit row on airplanes – they have much more leg room.  When you have a car, you will need a bigger one for the leg and head room.  Guess what?  Little sporty cars may look “cool”, but bigger vehicles hold more friends and family and stuff from your latest shopping trip.  They are more comfortable on road trips and generally safer.

You have to take fewer steps to get anywhere.  People will literally look up to you (and quite often figuratively too).  Your long arms will give more hugginess to your hugs.  Your high-fives will be higher.  When you are older and out with your friends in a crowded place, you will be able to see them easier, and they will be able to find you quicker.  You will almost always get to sit in the front seat of other peoples’ cars; that is a generally accepted social benefit of being tall.

Sometimes being tall will be awkward, or uncomfortable, but you will get past that.  You are tall.  It is part of who you are.  Accepting that and being comfortable with who you are leads to a happier outlook on life.  It’s not worth being worried about it; your height is here to stay!  Stand up straight, be proud, never let any bring you down for being what you are, and enjoy being a wonderful, lovely, sweet tall young woman.

Lots of love, always,

Dad

GraceInUpwardMotion

Ending Agony in Fry Town

When Sierra Vista became an incorporated township in 1956, it excluded a half square mile of land that was originally owned by turn-of-the-twentieth-century settler Oliver Fry. Mr. Fry resisted inclusion with the town growing around him, and as a result his land, which came to be known as Fry Town, remains un-annexed and has steadily fallen into disrepair; its residents poor, its crime rates high.

Residents of Sierra Vista proper do not go untouched by this, either. Crime is not conveniently contained within Fry Town’s historic blocks, nor can Sierra Vistans easily ignore such a relatively small section of disrepute. Not when Fry Town and its many bedraggled residents are so prominently on display at Sierra Vista’s main entryway. It’s the first thing newcomers see. It’s not a problem that can be swept under an indifferent rug. It is front and center, and it demands our attention.

Fry Town’s annexation into Sierra Vista’s city limits seems long overdue, but Fry residents have voted against this appropriation in the past. And, while annexation would certainly offer Fry Town residents many city benefits they’re currently bereft of, it is not going to eradicate the problems derived from a socio-economic petri dish of poverty, drug abuse and crime – one that’s been left to fester over the last half century.

Similarly, recent city and county led efforts to give Fry a cosmetic makeover –demolishing abandoned, dilapidated mobile homes and raising new, more aesthetically pleasing, low-income housing – merely whitewashed the neighborhood for appearance sake. It did little toward the long-term health of the community. And, without investing in the future of the residents themselves, it’s only a matter of time before those new developments look like the graffiti-laden relics they replaced. Real change starts with people, not real estate.

To be certain, residents, city leaders and law enforcement have debated the issue for years, and there have been several efforts on all sides to address it. But, ramping up police presence and tearing down structural eyesores amounts to adhering Band-Aids to gushing wounds. And, while not all of its inhabitants live in abject poverty, many do. Many of Fry Town’s inhabitants are trapped in a hellish cycle of poverty. They grew up with crime as not just a fact of life, but a way of it, learning no honor among countless thieves. Their parents were poor, uneducated, abused substances, and abused them. They grew up to do the same, and their children, and their children’s children, in one, long, ghetto nightmare.

Helping these people break the cycle, that is the solution. Granted, there are programs in place designed to address this issue. Unfortunately, Arizona isn’t all that keen on funneling tax dollars toward welfare subsidies; thus, said programs are not adequately funded. Most agree that welfare isn’t intended as a way of life, but rather serves as a helping hand; a hand that pulls one up from the gutter and helps them stand on their own feet.  That is the definition of a working welfare program, and the impoverished population of Fry Town desperately needs it.

Their plight calls for a program that offers drug rehabilitation, where necessary, and intensive therapy. No one abuses drugs because they have a healthy sense of self-worth. You don’t do that to your body, or to your life, if you’re not already in a profound amount of pain. These people, whether they’re abusing drugs/alcohol or not, need to be armed with healthy, psychological tools in order to combat their own mental anguish. Fry Town needs a crackdown on mental health; a SWAT team of counselors at the ready.

If part one of a successful welfare program teaches life skills, then part two offers job skills and employment training. Of course, that would require there being viable jobs for which to train. Sadly, there’s a vast wage gap in Sierra Vista. The local middle class sustains itself with government jobs, government contracting jobs or healthcare work. And, as the government downsizes, it’s a very small employment pool to draw from. Sierra Vista must work on drawing new industry to the area. After all, food service and retail work does not a middle class make.

Yet, the most important, most sure-fire resolution to the woes of Fry Town is this: educate its children. If children are the future, let us plant the seeds that ensure a bright one – and those seeds are called tax dollars; tax dollars that fund their schools and tax dollars that fund the social programs these children require. Some of these kids play in dirt lots and crumbling streets, some with empty bellies and bruised bodies. I know. I have seen them. They exist. They need their community at large to help. They need citizens who are invested enough in their city’s future to pay it forward in taxes, just as they need a city council and a school board that won’t mismanage those taxes.

You can avoid Fry Town all you like, ignore its struggles if you wish, or be satisfied with quick-fixes to its unsightly surface but, eventually, Fry Town will call on you. Whether its presence drives your property values down, its criminals steal your car, or its drug dealers sell their wares to your kids, its suffering spills over those half square mile borders, and its consequences will affect you. It is not their problem, it is our problem – and luckily, it’s one we can fix.

Only the Unlonely

It happened just the way I’d pictured it. We waved goodbye to our girls; one tall, one small, hand-in-hand, backpack-strapped, escorted by a flight attendant aboard a plane headed for Nana’s house. And, as anticipated, tears were spilled. We sat at the gate long after it had emptied, awaiting departure, and, an extremely somber 30 minutes later, they were gone.

A few blocks from the airport we dined at our favorite sushi place and gradually I felt the mood begin to lift. Clouds rolled backward, heavens opened up, and to our mutual amazement, something like a choir of joyous angels descended unto earth, banishing sorrow in a sweet falsetto, “Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found theeeeeeee,” and all at once it hit us: we were FREE!

Two seconds after arriving home the mister was naked. Simply to be naked. And, unless forced to be in public, he ceased wearing clothes altogether. At some point I found him standing in the backyard, basking in the setting sun, a warm breeze blowing through his…chest hair. We giggled like loons. We agreed to have naked breakfast on the patio that weekend, because….what neighbors? Neighbors who? We’re a childless couple now. We’re naked old people in our backyard now; top o’ the morning to ya!

Nudey-dudey breakfast time never came to pass, however, for we did something far greater with our mornings; we slept in. We stayed out late, we woke late, we lounged in bed, snuggled like it was an Olympic sport, made each other laugh, made each other smile, made out, napped, watched t.v., ventured outdoors only for food, came home and did it all over it again. We stocked the refrigerator with kale, fish, coconut Thai tomato soup and stinky cheese. We hatched a plan to scope out recipes; alternating nights in which one would surprise the other with an exciting new dish. We didn’t purchase a single frozen toaster pastry, shitty chemical-flavored cheese cracker, or any product with a character from Frozen on it. It was like living in a dream.

By Sunday I, too, had kicked the habit of wearing clothes. Had we ever gotten along so well? Ever been more in love? Was it as magical back when we were dating? I didn’t think so. And the house! We’d cleaned it just after our daughters left, and days later…it was still clean! I turned to my beloved, bald, giant, hairy nudist and cried, “It’s THEM! It’s always been THEM!”

But at the close of our refreshing weekend, around 10 PM, he learned his father had been hospitalized in Michigan. He spent Monday morning gathering info, Monday afternoon making travel arrangements, and by Tuesday morning I was once more at the airport waving farewell (though I’m relieved to report, his pops is presently on the mend and recovering well).

My 37th birthday followed, the very next day, and every member of my household was in a different state; one in Florida, one in Washington, one in Michigan. I was a little bummed out by this, until I reminded myself how I’d kicked them all out, on purpose, just three weeks prior – for Mother’s Day. That was my gift request: GET. OUT. I only wanted time to myself, without having to go anywhere to get it. I sent my little family out to dinner and just kicked back in silence, soaking in the stillness, and ignoring texts like, “If you change your mind, we’d love for you to join us” and “I wish you were with us mama.” Perhaps the opposite of leaving me in peace, but I didn’t mind. I also didn’t feel bad. I told my preteen, “Someday, you’ll be all grown up and out on your own. Someday you might live a zillion miles away and I will miss you like a crazy person. And someday I’ll thrill to get a phone call from you, I’ll ache to spend time with you, and I’ll count the minutes until I see you again. But NOT today.”

And thus, Life, being funny the way Life insists it’s very funny, said, “Happy Birthday, Niki! Here’s some of that mega-extended ‘me time’ you value so much. We left the cat. Cheers.”

But joke’s on Life, for once, since I’ve been enjoying myself. Between my husband making surprise birthday arrangements before he left town and my co-workers/friends rallying around me, I’ve been quite content. In the week and a half since the fam deserted, I’ve discovered this weird, yet incredible thing called “do whatever you want.” I make whatever I want for dinner, rent whichever movie I please, go to bed at any ungodly hour suitable to my fancy, and I leave the house without announcing where I’m going, or when I’ll be back. I answer to no one! Except the cat.

Dr. Pickles disapproves, but he’s not the boss of me.

Dr. Pickles

The entire scenario has caused me to reflect on the fact that I’ve never lived alone. I talk a lot about growing up alone in the woods – and minus a pack of wolves raising me, it’s mostly true. Between the ages of five and twelve I lived smack-dab in the middle of 17 acres of forest, and because my stepfather hated children (and being that I was a child, sucked to be me) I was forbidden to have friends over. I spent A LOT of time alone. With a cat.

As an adult woman, though, not so much. I’ve lived with my mother, a roommate, a significant other, or, later on, my first born – but never alone. Good thing I got so much practice at solitude when I was small, it made the last several days doable. Pleasant, even. Definitely an interesting and introspective journey, but I’m done now. All done. All caught up on the “me time.” If this is some “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of shit, go ahead and hook Clarence up with those wings, Universe, because I got the message. I’d like my family back now, please.
Posthaste, tout de suite, and hurry the lonesome hell up.
They are my life, and my God am I a lucky woman for it.

My Placid Panic Attack

My babies are leaving the state today, and that’s fine. I’m perfectly okay with it. Completely comfortable and entirely at ease, save for some small, anxious, inner-portion of me that is quietly yet persistently FREAKING THE FRACK OUT!
But I’m told this is normal.

“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” –Elizabeth Stone

Indeed. Like, 1500 to 2000 ridiculously bothersome miles outside and far away from your body.

In less than six hours I’ll be escorting my 5 and 12 year old children through airport security, locating their gate, walking them to the entrance of a gangway, hugging and kissing them profusely, possibly crying already, waving goodbye still as I watch the backs of their beautiful little heads get smaller and smaller, watch them make a left, out of sight, boarding a plane to Washington state. WITHOUT ME. And I’m freaking out.

On the other side of their non-stop, three hour flight awaits my mother. She’s probably already there. She probably arrived at Sea-Tac yesterday; brought a sleeping bag and is camped out at the girls’ arrival gate. I need not worry about their safety in her care. But still. Freaking out.

My 12 year old will only be on Washington soil two days before she flies to Orlando, Florida with her bio-father and his family; off to see her older brother (from another mother) graduate high school. She’ll spend three days in Disney World, a few days in a condo on Cocoa Beach, and she’ll have an amazing time. And even though I have a positive, healthy co-familial relationship with my ex-husband, his wife and their little girl – one that centers on respect, and acting like grownups – and even though I trust them with the safety of my little-now-big girl, even still and all the same, I’m ever so serenely FREAKING OUT.

After a week in Florida, my little-now-big girl will fly back to Seattle, reuniting with my little-still-little girl at Nana’s House of Perpetual Joy and Cookie Time. They will bake all sorts of goodies, dive imagination-first into Nana’s wonder-world of arts and crafts supplies, roam Nana’s lush green garden and help her plant flowers – learning the names of approximately 8000 species of Dahlia along the way. They’ll play with, snuggle and/or terrorize Nana’s plethora of cats. They’ll rarely be told “no”, or go to bed before 9 PM, or be forced to eat vegetables, and they will have the time of their lives. And while the thought of it makes me happy beyond measure, still…..you know….little bit…with the freaking a lot out.

My house will be quiet for three whole weeks. For three weeks my husband and I will not be shuttling children to and from school/birthday parties/sleepovers/art classes/sports practice, and on long car rides no one will be fighting in the back seat or be bored out of their minds. For three weeks no little ones will wake us up at 6 AM on Sunday morning demanding food and cartoons. And no preteens will huff, “I know!” when you ask them to do the thing you asked them to do an hour ago (which was the same thing you asked them to do an hour before that) – and absolutely no one will roll their eyes at us, then vehemently deny having done so.

For three weeks my love and I can walk around the house naked, go out dancing all night long, watch foul-mouthed movies at top volume in the middle of the day and try out new recipes besieged with “gross” and “yucky” ingredients – like kale. We can hike mountains, explore caves, book romantic weekend getaways, relax, sleep in, and miss our children like mad.

Because I’ll miss them no matter the scenario. Whether I spend the next several weeks at home with a book (and a bottle of wine), or out on the town (with a bottle of wine), I imagine I’ll be saddled with this low hum of anxiety throughout. Little dark-recessed brain-whispers of “Pssst. Hey. Guess what. Your kids are still gone. It’s FREAK OUT TIME AGAIN!”

I know they’ll be fine, and I’ll be fine, and everything will be fine and perfectly stinking dandy, ….but still. Someone to talk me down from the crazy-mommy-ledge, please.

Vegexperiment: Day 13

Day 13 of a 30 day vegetarian (accurately, pescatarian) November, and…..screw this. Just kidding.

But I’m sad to report there’s been some serious dissension in the ranks. The eldest child (who kicked off this undertaking by announcing it on facebook) and the eldest, paternal member of the household (who rallied the family to join her in support) have been at odds. Both have confessed to meat cravings, yet both harbor differing opinions on whether or not we should continue on in our noble quest.

To my daughter, my husband said, “You need to follow through on your commitments.” And my daughter countered with, “But I’m 11. I latch onto ideals and speak passionately on all sorts of topics I don’t yet fully understand. I also haven’t the benefit of much life experience; the kind that might aid me with the follow through on such a major lifestyle change. Because, again, I’m 11.” She didn’t say that, of course (because – all together now – she’s 11), instead she sulks in pouty silence and avoids his gaze, but that’s the gist of it.

Her heart still breaks at the idea of suffering animals, but her stomach revolts at the sight of beans and tofu. She loathes them, and many other foods, with the fierce passion that only picky children can irrationally muster. My God, I presented a dish this week that was heavy on quinoa (light, tart, savory, highly recommended) and, by her reaction, you’d have thought I’d just shot her cat. No. Worse. It was like I’d taken her iPhone away. She was positively despondent. And the little one, who refused meat beforehand, also refuses all this substitute bullshit. Making my job so much more not at all any fucking easier. YAY!

Full of Beans

Still, the mister is insisting we persevere (see: stickler). Not so much for personal reasons, but as a lesson to the eldest about sticking to one’s guns, finishing what one starts, and all that character-building jazz. Though I understand and sympathize with his position, our daughter’s pre-existing reluctance to ingest about 8,000 varieties of food means she’s not ready to limit her diet further. She needs to grow past her childhood pickiness and expand her palate before she can truly commit to a meatless way of life. And she definitely needs to be down with the tofurkey on Thanksgiving – which, as of now, she is most assuredly NOT.

And then there’s me, the once self-proclaimed connoisseur of the burger; I’m the only one in the house who enjoys meat yet hasn’t had any longing for it. And that’s a big deal. Quick story…

Once upon a couple years ago, my husband, my children and I joined my ex-husband, his wife, and their small daughter for dinner. It was the first time my husband and my ex-husband had ever met, and the tension was not high but…not exactly relaxed, either. Many details of that meal went swimmingly (another story for another time), but most memorably, my husband and ex-husband’s unexpected bonding moment. I was reviewing the menu and maybe said something about ordering a burger, because my ex piped up, “Yup! Take Niki to a nice restaurant and watch her order a cheeseburger.” And my husband chimed in, “Oh, I know! The Queen of Cheeseburgers!” And they laughed together, like best buddies. Ha. Ha. Ha. (Batsards)

It was then that I realized how your ex(es) and present significant other should NEVER be allowed to convene! It won’t play out the way you think it should. Perhaps you imagine it would go something like, “Ah yes. Indeed we both agree she (or he) is amazing, in countless ways, and made a thoroughly positive, unforgettable impact on our lives. A saint and a goddess (or god), really. How lucky we are to know her (or him).” But in reality it’s more like, “Oh I KNOW! And how she (he) always does this one thing? What a dummy. And, oh wow, she (or he) STILL does THAT other thing? Holy crazeballs!”

And I didn’t even order a stupid burger during that meal. (Bro-moment havin’ bastards).

Yet the anecdote illustrates a point: anyone who knew me before 2008 would assert me to be the “Queen of Cheeseburgers.” I really do love them. And for me to not crave that flesh any longer, it says something. It says I can change. Rather, that I’m ready to. But my daughter, I think she jumped aboard an emotional bandwagon that her taste buds aren’t yet tall enough to ride. You know, she’s always disliked dairy, even cheese (insanity!), so maybe she’ll make an excellent vegan someday. And possibly, in a year or two, she’ll judge the portions on her plate not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their tastiness.

But not today.

At any rate, I’ll be stocking the cupboards this weekend and she’s asked, “Let’s just not have as MUCH meat.” Already done. And this experiment paved the way. Take the fajitas we regularly make for dinner, substituting tofu for steak went over splendidly and everyone agreed to pass on meaty fajitas in the future. A small success. And as I learn more new, appetizing vegetarian recipes that might please my children, we’ll keep taking our baby steps toward discovering a brand new way to eat.

But if you happen to see me out at burger joint (saucy juices running down my chin, something akin to celestial ecstasy in the whites of my rolled back eyeballs)……don’t judge.

Perils, Parties and Propositions

Hi. My name is Niki and I am an inconsistent blogger.
(Hello, Niki.)
But I suppose there are worse things to be.

I’ve had stories to tell, and happenings to disclose, and opinions to share, and ideas to bounce off the universe, but 2013 has been something of a challenge in nearly all areas of my personal life – and the time or energy for sharing has been minimal. And since there’s a ton on my plate at present, yet I’d really like to get back into the writing swing, pardon me while I babble about my week.

I’m throwing three parties in the next nine days. Two of them for children. Correction, one of them for children, one for preteens – an entirely different species. I’m doing this because I’m a crazy person. Oh, and I’m drawing invitations and 6 ft. banners by hand, and painting, and possibly building a Space Needle out of foam board, because (it’s so much fun, and I’m rockin’ it) I need professional help with my crazy.

tumblr_mus2w2wvjE1qafr64o1_500Party one is a farewell affair for my best guy pal in town (I already lost a best gal pal last month to Chicago – this year can seriously suck it). He’s moving to Seattle to pursue love and happiness with his boyfriend. Since Seatown is my hometown, I volunteered to host a party in his honor and I’ve been having a blast with the decorations. I’ve suspended umbrellas from my ceiling and shaped shiny blue, fringed wire garland to hang from them like streams of rain. I practiced drawing an orca whale, Mt. Rainer, the Space Needle and spent four hours incorporating them into a sketch for my giant banner. And, though my aging, aching, withering right hand currently detests me, I’m tossing around the idea of launching construction on a 2 ft. tall Space Needle centerpiece. Foam board or perhaps paper mache; not sure. I’ve never worked with either, because I don’t usually do shit like this.

Sketch of Banner. Unfinished.  Hand on Strike.

Sketch of Banner. Unfinished.
Hand on Strike.

Why the sudden burst of creativity? There are lots of answers to that, the simplest being: my little one is in preschool and (in a forever furloughed/sequestered/government-shuttin’-down military/border patrol dependent town) I have not been able to find a decent job. This leaves me with free time, for the first time in five years. And you know what that means, don’t you? Aww yeah. It’s bout to get crafty up in this bitch!

Party two and three are Halloween-related. My eldest had asked for a costume party, I’d agreed, and then the little one said, “Will I have to stay in my room for her party?” *GASP* Heart cracked in two! See, my girls are seven years apart, and more and more the activities one will partake in is neither age appropriate nor age appealing to the other. A spooky, creepy, scary (possible haunted house in my garage) event designed for 11 year olds would not necessarily go over well with 4 year olds, or their parents. Or Child Protective Services. So I told my littlest one, “No, baby. You’re going to have your own party!”

YAAAAAAAY! Everybody wins! And gets a party! And mommy didn’t need to sleep or eat, anyway.

I also have some sewing to do this week. I don’t own a sewing machine – and, in fact, never learned to operate one – so it takes a while. I know it’s a simple skill to pick up, I just haven’t gotten around to it…in 36 years. My mom tried to teach me when I was a girl, but much like her attempt to teach me to cook, and craft, and fold a fitted sheet properly, her efforts met with my surly teenage obstinance. “OMG! I’m NOT going to be housewife! Ever. Ugh.” Just kidding. We didn’t say “OMG” back then. We said “Oh my God.” It was a dark, barbaric, internet-less time.images

By refusing to learn “women’s work” (I really must have thought Future Niki was going to have servants) everything is hard now. Thanks, Younger Impractical Feminist Niki.

Funny side bit about the sewing project, though; the other night I was asked out on a date in a fabric store. I had to walk through the mall to get to this store, and I remember briefly making and breaking eye contact with a fellow (standing? walking? don’t recall) just outside the entrance. He followed me into the store and called to me with a “Hey!” I turned as he approached me, holding out tickets in his hand, and he said, “Uh, do you want to go on a date? I have these movie tickets and…..” he trails off, looking at me…hopefully.

He couldn’t have been a day over 25, clean-cut, average looks, on the short side, not my type (but considering no one I’ve dated looks like anyone else I’ve ever dated, I’m not sure I have a type – rather, my type is funny and smart), and, naturally, it wouldn’t have mattered if he was my type, being that I’m a happily married lady who has no interest in any gross cougary business. So I said, “Oh! If I weren’t married, I would. I’m sorry. Good luck!”

Which was a lie. I wouldn’t. Not if I were single, and not even if I were single and his age, because my sense of stranger danger is (possibly overactive) very acute. “Hey! Uh…do you want to go on a date? I have these movie tickets…and…oh yeah? You do! Great! My name’s Ted, but all my friends call me Bundy. Real quick, do you mind if we stop by my nondescript, windowless van first? I left my wallet in there.”

He was probably just a lonely kid working on a new dating tactic, or maybe the pre-bought-tickets/scout-the-mall-for-chicks thing had worked for him in the past. Or maybe he indeed lures 30-something women toward a grisly death in his van of terror. Beats me. But I do wish I’d found out which movie he’d preselected. Was it “Machete Kills”? Or maybe “Cloudy with a Chance of Freakballs”? Alas, we shall never know.