September 2013 Archives


I said out loud last week that I was ready for some rain, and I'm not saying that I caused it, but we had a pretty good downpour on Saturday. We left for a beach party in Carmel while it was still cold and rainy at home, and by the time we got to Monterey it was gorgeous weather. Plus, on the way we saw the biggest bull with the biggest horns riding in a little horse trailer behind a truck. What more can you ask for? 

Dear Jen,

We understand that you have the very best of intentions,and that you're really motivated and everything, but it's time for you to stop killing us and all our relations. Please, have some decency and just buy your herbs and veggies from the market and invest in some realistic silk flowers. 


All of the Plants, Everywhere

P.S. Stop daydreaming about that greenhouse for the backyard or we will cut you.
stop walking into me, please

We eat dinner outside every night, and sometimes (lots of times) it gets dark while we're still outside. When the light's just right, the screen part of the screen door disappears and nearly everyone has walked into it, arms full of dishes, wine or water splashing on the back step. I hit it face first and it was just plain RUDE how much my nose hurt. I kept thinking I'd sew a patch into the screen, but then I saw these old button magnets that I made forever ago and put them at about eye level. 

It's working really well. Last night, the magnets fell off and for a few minutes they repelled each other, but then I forced them together because I needed them to work, and suddenly they attracted one another again. Or the poles flipped. Something happened. Maybe we can ask one of the educated Insane Clown Posse dudes to explain. (Link to Wikipedia page, because hahahaaha of course this song has a Wikipedia page!)

Willow tried out for her school play, The Wizard of Oz. She got a callback for the part of the Scarecrow and was super excited and nervous for the second audition. When I picked her up afterwards, she was in tears, telling me that she blew it and her voice cracked because she was trying to sing too high and that they'd excused her partway through but kept the other girl who was trying out for the same role. Well, I said, probably they knew that they wanted you for Scarecrow, and they needed to have her do more stuff to see what part she should have. But Willow wasn't buying that, and spent from Thursday after school until Sunday morning super worried and sick to her stomach. Then on Sunday morning she came into our bedroom all smiles and laughing, I'm the Scarecrow! I'm the Scarecrow! 
This is an Instagram of a Polaroid that I took of my iPhone screen displaying a photo that I took with my iPhone using the Easy Macro rubberband lens. I think I may have broken some kind of hipster space time continuum thing. Or whatever. #instantlab

I remember being a young teenager.  I remember being so embarrassed by everything, so worried about what people would say or think about me.  I remember my face right close to the floorboard of my dad's Buick at every stopsign and stoplight as we went down the road toward the freeway one Saturday morning while we ran errands.  I pretended to tie my shoes repeatedly so I could keep my head down, so no one would see me.  I wonder what my dad thought.  Hopefully he just thought I was being weird and it didn't make him feel as awful as I feel now remembering it.  I will never not cringe and apologize for that.  But it's good to remember, right?  I'm able to sympathize and empathise with my kids when they get really spun about something that doesn't seem even a little bit like a big deal to me.  Because I know it doesn't have to make sense, and I know those feelings are like a tractor beam and you're just pulled along kicking sometimes and you don't know why but even so it's consuming you, and there you are, just acting like an asshole even if everyone knows that deep down someplace the you that isn't pelted with hormones 24/7 is really not an asshole most of the time.   

The summer I was fifteen was especially rough for me.  I can't remember what all was going on, but I remember being in the back of the car while we drove someplace, maybe across Texas, maybe we were in Kansas or Oklahoma.  Wherever we were, I was miserable, looking out the window and up at the sky, at the big white piles of clouds above the road, sure that my friends back home were all having fun and forgetting I existed while I spent the summer with my dad.  We had so much fun there, though.  We tracked hurricanes and watched thunderstorms from the backyard.  We lit candles at night and put them in the ceramic lanterns my dad made and turned off the lights and listened to the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit on a recording put out by the BBC (at least, I think it was the BBC).  And we listened to old radio shows like The Shadow.  We watched baseball and football while we sat on the floor in front of the TV and had salami and cheese and club crackers, the ones with all the butter, off a big cutting board. And the popcorn, with Cokes and dishtowels for our buttery hands.  We played poker with our jars of pennies and my brother wore a green banker's visor and counted out the money with reverence and serious concentration.  It was the only time he was both awake and still and quiet, I think.  We watched Alien and The Blues Brothers, a lot.  My dad drew designs in the air with his cigarettes in the dark, wrote our names so fast we could read them.  We listened to Bob Wills records, Willie Nelson, Billie Holliday, Bob Dylan, Cab Calloway, Pink Floyd, and ELO - backwards. I didn't appreciate that time enough when I was living it, but I did at least enjoy it as much as I could given my age and insecurities and all those fabulous beach parties I was sure I was missing far away in California.

Now I'm on the other side, with a teen daughter who is often horribly humiliated that she actually has a family, and I know she's going to grow out of it.  Eventually.  I remember the moment that things kind of changed for me.  I was in the back of the car, on that trip across someplace in the heat, someplace that was not cool, someplace where we stopped for breakfast in a small truckstop and didn't fit in with the locals, at all. I was still looking up at the sky and what must've been a college radio station played Fall On Me by REM and I was suddenly connected to all the things I'd been pining for.  I knew that song, I had that album back at home, and it was on the radio and for every single second of it I was floating and smiling and relieved and not lonely anymore.  It's not really working for me to explain, because it doesn't have any logic behind it, but I felt saved from the country highway we were on.  I felt really super cool and my heart beat with the music and I had no idea what Michael Stipe was saying (and I still sing along with my own version of lyrics, I'm afraid).  Anyway, that CD is in my van and I've been listening to it, feeling that rush and connection again nearly 30 years later, and feeling like a kid again even though I spend most of my time taking care of them.

Another InstantLab photo. Original was taken with my iPhone 4 and the Easy-Macro rubberband lens at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco. 

I took four years of art classes in high school, but without at least some natural ability, well, things tend to come out not really right.  Right isn't probably the best word to use.  I think if you want to be more tender and forgiving toward yourself you can make the case that something created in the spirit of art is always right, even if the lines that should be fine are clumsy and the perspective is off and distracting.  At the time, I was really frustrated that all we ever did in art class was copy.  It was like, Find a picture in a magazine of something and copy it in pencil.  Use charcoal to sketch this still life of blocks set up on my desk.  Paint the fruit bowl in acrylics.  


Yes. That's a mid-80s Fendi ad.  Yes, it's framed.  I worked in a frame shop.  sigh.  

And, because I was a teenager and I knew *everything* I thought it wasn't really art if we were all just copying something, I thought This is a copying class, not an art class.  Do I get the point of the copying now?  Sure.  Of course.  It was learning the alphabet in order to be able to write down all those words you know.

Now, to me, art is something practiced, something you fine tune and adjust and reshape until it's in tune with your intent and vibrating back the right chords to you.  Medicine is art.  Science is art.  (Even though they are usually held up as two examples of opposite ends of the spectrum.)  Math is art.  Relationships are art.  Taking care of yourself is an art.  Listening, observing, contributing, moving your body, getting dressed, waiting, feeding people, holding someone.  There's an art to everything we do, really, if it's something that we keep in a fluid state until it feels right to us and then we go back and revise when it's feeling not really right anymore. 

I'm having a hard time with some things.  Some relationships.  I have teenagers so I'm sure that's how it's supposed to be right now, but even if that's how it's supposed to be I have to say that I am struggling.  I'm trying to reshape and fix and fine tune things but also I'm standing back looking at the whole thing with a lot of tears and trying to figure out how it got to looking like THAT when it used to look so much better.  I shouldn't belabor this metaphor thing, but I'm hoping that time and outside forces that aren't me will help shape this situation like how the ocean takes broken coke bottles and spits back pretty beach glass.  Because I'm looking at this from all sides and I don't know what tools to use to create something that feels right again. 
I steamed way too much milk, so made a giant cappuccino. I will try not to talk too fast today, but you may want to steer clear, just in case.

Every morning Scuba makes me a cappuccino and brings it to me while I'm still in bed trying to wake up.  He wins at mornings, that's for sure  Usually I am awake a lot of the night and fall into a good, deep sleep just about an hour before I need to wake up. Yes, I take melatonin.  No, I don't ingest any caffeine after 10 a.m.  There's just something about 3 a.m. that wakes me up a lot and something about 6 a.m. that makes me so, so sleepy. 

I've got the house all to myself tonight for the first time since we moved in, I think.  I spent my precious alone time doing dishes and laundry, picking up the girls' room, figuring out where in the hell the crawl space trap door is before the electrician comes tomorrow (floor of Lex's closet!), and watching the videos my cousin gave me on Sunday of our family's 1988 reunion.  There's my dad, telling a story.  I'm next to him, just a tiny bit older than Lex is now, in my baggy clothes, ducking my head when I know the camera is nearby.  Hearing my dad's laugh again is devastating and wonderful in pretty similar amounts, so I'm laughing and crying and maybe kissing my finger and touching it to the screen once or twice.  God, my stepmom was pretty.   

Scuba says, in the nicest way, that it's a little depressing around here.  Here being the blog and not our house or anything.  Our house is mostly happy - as happy as it can be given the number of teenagers and all that.  Well, I tell him, I'm just so sad still.  And he says, Of course you are, how could you not be? 

Mostly, though, I am not sad.  I mean, I *am* sad about my dad, but everything else has finally arrived after a lifetime of wishing.  My dad used to make this kind of clicking sound and shake his head when he was talking about, well - missed opportunities and things that we'd say were too bad, I guess.  And that's what I have, this sad click all the time that he's not able to come see our new house and help with the physics homework and watch the girls play soccer and debate politics with Lex and his girlfriend and then tell me afterward how impressed by them he is.  He still had so much of a life to live, you know?  But I've got this incredible kitchen to cook in, this amazing garden to try and care for, all this light coming in the windows.  I'm happy and I'm crushed and I don't think that one really excludes the other.
Partner since June 2006




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