Monday, August 27, 2012

The Stranger in My House

Living with a teenager is an experience. I've gotten used to the eye-rolls (which are actually a genetic trait among the women in my family), the door slams, the tears over seemingly nothing and the gigantic mood swings from day to day. All of these normal symptoms seem to be exacerbated in my child because of her Gemini-ness. You know, kind of sweet and tolerable one minute, hating the world purely because it exists the next. One second she loves one of the dogs and the next hates them both because they breathe. And chew her lip gloss. That she leaves out on the floor.

Teenagers are supposed to be creatures that are unrecognizable from their previous incarnations as children. But I've heard very little about the nice parts. That's probably because the nice parts are related to the saddest parts and nobody wants to watch me turn into a dribbling pool of idiotic tears. The nice part has happened over the summer, practically over night. Here is how the nice part goes:

D: Can I go do such-and-such tomorrow?
Me: Yes, after you clean your bathroom.
D: Okay, that's fair.

What? Agreeing to a chore? This has been unheard of in my house for the last 16 years! Okay, maybe 11 years. It's not like I asked her to do the dishes before she could walk. But still.

She no longer cares about the amount of time that I spend with KY. She actually asks to spend time with us. She cleans her room fairly often. She's more realistic about her abilities. As in, she now admits she's not the greatest driver in the world like she originally tried to convince me. She just carries herself differently.

There are still the not-so-nice parts. The hormones are strong in this one; there are days I can't even look at her without her freaking out. "Why are you looking at me like that??" I'm now finding panties in the laundry that look like mine, but aren't. The Disney princesses and cute teddy bears have been replaced with lace and much less material.

This is probably the most bittersweet time in my life thus far. I'm watching my little girl grow up before my very eyes. She's beginning to leave her little-girl self behind as she tries on her adult skin. I'm proud of her and amazed by her and at the same time I want to scream, "NO!! Not yet! I'm not ready!" I want to turn back the clock to those days we'd sit in the rocking chair for hours, when I'd let her nap there with me because I knew the day would come when I didn't want to let go, when she wouldn't fit in my lap so perfectly, when she didn't look to me for all of her needs but to her friends and soon, to a boy. We're now farther from those days and closer to the days when she'll know herself how I felt.

She's really excited to start school this year as she feels that this is going to be Her Year. She has youth choir, Skyliner jazz choir, her first play, and she is ready to get started. Me? Not so much. This will be the second-to-last first-day-of-school. Can we postpone it until January? At least October? Because the sooner it starts, the sooner it ends and I'm not ready for it to end. I'm not ready for the quiet. I'm not ready to miss her grumpy face in the mornings. I'm not ready to miss the excited, talking-too-fast or the laughing over nothing. I'm not ready to pack up her room and let the world take her in. As much as I like and appreciate the new person she is becoming, I'm not ready to meet her adult self.

Not yet. Just not yet.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Travels with KY

This past weekend KY took me to Monterey for my birthday. Because that is where I wanted to go. Because I wanted to be in an actual castle on my actual birthday. And because he loves me. Which he should. And also because he's kinda great. Anyway. We did a lot of stuff, but detailed travel accounts are totally boring so I'll just give the highlights. (Unless you really want to see the slideshow and I can tell you more than you thought you'd ever want to know.)

1. Hearst Castle is a very nice place to be on a birthday. It's not an actual castle, but the guest cottages alone are three times the size of my house, and the pool (one of them) has gold in it, so it counts. However, when they tell you not to touch ANYthing, they mean it. Especially don't set your water bottle on a 2,000-year-old piece of marble. They kinda frown on that.

2. The California coastline was beautiful. My favorite part was how we went in and out of fog and coast clouds and how every now and then there would be a little puff rising from nowhere. KY got the best picture of the clouds hanging out over the ocean (see the slideshow!).

3. I am a total book nerd. Book nerds really need to go to the Steinbeck Center. It's small, but Rocinante is there and when I Facebooked it, nobody commented so then I knew what a huge nerd I really am. I made KY take a picture of me on the pony statue just because it was there. I took tons of pictures of the quotes on the wall, which probably sounds weird, but that's what book nerds do. Because they really love how certain words go together.

4. Planning is helpful because when you go to the Steinbeck house, and want to go inside and eat in the restaurant, you know not to go on Sundays. Which we did. But at least I got to sit on the steps and touch the window, which would have gotten my hands and feet cut off at Hearst Castle.

5. I loved Carmel! I so wish we had spent more time visiting that area. Even though I couldn't afford a sock there, the shops were all still really cute and there was a restaurant named The French Poodle (also closed on Sunday). We took pictures of cars that are normally only seen in magazines that were just casually parked on the street and we appropriately "cute-puppied" every dog that passed by. There were a lot (of both cars and dogs). The dog store was the best and of course I bought presents for the terrors back home.

6. We made two, count 'em - two! trips to In-N-Out. I got a chocolate shake the second time. mmmmmmm..........

7. Cannery Row is cool, even if it's pretty stinky. I couldn't imagine Steinbeck there though, and I'm sure he wouldn't recognize it. It had already changed beyond what he knew when he wrote "Travels with Charley". I doubt they had a Bubba Gump's back in his day.

8. California is beautiful. I saw more of it than I bargained for on our little detour, but it really is. I really miss those rolling hills, even when they're brown. I saw a HUGE lake I didn't know existed and drove by a Whiskeytown. With a Whiskey Lake. I choose to imagine that it's filled with whiskey, but I didn't verify that.

9. Northern Californians are really big into Bigfoot. Bigfoot restaurants. Bigfoot stores. Wooden carvings of Bigfoot. A wooden carving of Shrek. Like from the movie. Don't ask, I couldn't even guess.

10. I have one regret. Out of all the dozens of fruit stands we passed, we didn't stop once. Poo. At least I know what not to miss next time.

Danger in the Night

I was fast asleep in the dead of night, dogs snuggled up next to me. Cozy and comfy.

Until one dog started barking frantically, setting the other one off. They both leapt off the bed and went running towards the offensive, intrusive sound. Such brave souls! They run straight towards danger, not concerned with their safety, only protecting my well-being.

At first my inferior, human ear heard nothing. So I called them back, but they insisted that something sinister was afoot. Danger lurked just outside the door. And then! I heard it. It was the ear-splitting scream of a cat. Two cats! Two cats spitting and yowling at each other in anger. Oh, my brave, trusty hounds. Protecting me from such evil! From the horrors of felines! What luck to have them in my service to guard me. Suppose those evil beasts had allied themselves against me, scratching the window screen to get at me and tear my tender flesh with razor-sharp talons? I shudder at the thought.

I carefully, oh-so-quietly crept to the door to release my guardians, to unleash their wrath and fury on the ghouls in the night. Remy raced out first, while Ruby performed a check around the perimeter, assuring that all was once again secure. They performed these duties with such honor while I could only wait at the door, hoping for their safe return.

And then I went back to bed. Remy jumped back up on the bed, highly satisfied with his hero skilz and snuggled in under his blanket. Ruby, after licking my arm to either assure me that my life had been spared or to apologize for waking me up, curled up next to me once again.

Tonight the little champions just might find themselves in their crates.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Lessons From a Teenager

D had a friend over the other night and then a third friend went to the fair with them the next day. There were the usual silly, girly quotes and sayings. They were all screaming in anticipation of the concert they went to see and that was funny in itself. But she said some other things that were less funny but stuck with me afterward. See below.

"I got a guy's number!!!!!!"
Yes, she screamed when she said this. In the car. And it is funny. But terrifying at the same time. And the point I made at the time was that she didn't ask for his number herself. Technically her friend asked, she just put it in her phone. That turned out not to be the lesson. I'd like to say something about how boys are lazy these days and need to man up and make the first move. That isn't the lesson either. The lesson is that she wanted something and she found a way to get it. Life is short. You can't wait around for it, you have to go and get it. Sometimes you enlist a friend for help.

"The technicality just wasn't there."
This was in reference to a ballet we went to see in Portland. It was a rock opera ballet, meaning there was a live band and live singers and they played songs from the 60's while the ballet dancers did the twist and the mashed potato. At first I thought we've watched one too many talent shows, but then it struck me that she's just growing up. She's realizing that if you're going to do something and devote a large chunk of your time to it, then you better do it well. Nobody wants to see you half-ass it. My lesson to her was to look past the initial surface, let go of expectations, and just enjoy a situation for what it is. In this case it was a dance with fun songs and cute costumes.

"You're being mean and judgey."
My first response was going to be, "Did we just meet?" The second was "I'm your mom, I'm supposed to be." But this was about the boy whose number she had "gotten" and she was right. I was judging and red-flagging all over this boy I haven't even met and she just wanted to be happy and feel butterflies and imagine the first kiss. In my defense, I was only being judgey because she's my baby girl and nobody will ever be good enough for her and also I'm old and cynical and I don't want her heart broken a million times. But she was right and I was hurtful. She was living that second lesson about living in the moment and feeling the joy that comes and I needed to look past the serious stuff and the possibilities that may or may not happen and let her have her happy.

The first date with this boy is Saturday. For the first time a boy will come to the house, pick her up in a car by himself, and take her on a date. No parents driving. No parents dropping off and picking up. Yes, I am stressing this because it terrifies me. But I have to learn to let go and she has to learn how to move in her own way in the world. At least we're trying to figure it out together.

When You're Done, You're Done

People think they are funny. My friends especially think they're funny. They're not.

MR: Who has the best happy hour in Bend
Me: I don't know anymore, I don't go out much.
MR: You not go out? Are you pregnant?
Me: Not working for a year meant not going out.
MR: Well that's boring. It would be funner if you said you were preggers.
Me: Oh hell no!! I would throw myself down a flight of stairs!
MR: lol. You wouldn't dare.
Me: Totally would.

And if I didn't, my 16-year-old would probably push me down the stairs herself.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

A Frog Eulogy

Amongst all the crazy goings-on of the weekend, we had a death in the family. Because I chose to talk about other things first makes me no less sad that our little Potato Beans passed away. I held a private, one-person service for him last night, sending him to his toilet-watery grave, but I'd like to take a moment to pay my respects and let Potato know that he has been flushed, but not forgotten.

Potato, we knew you for almost a year and enjoyed every minute of it. You brought us joy with your little froggy antics. You were, hands-down, the sexiest frog, nay, amphibian, that we've ever met. The way you put one little webbed foot up against the glass, your other on your froggy hip with that "Hey, ladies. How YOU doin'?" look just took our breath away every time. There is no question that you packed more personality into your one ounce than most people do in their 150 pounds.

We will miss you dearly and think of you fondly. We wish you well on your journey to lillypad heaven.
Goodbye, our little froggy prince.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Fair Trends 2012 Edition

I went to the fair in Redmond this weekend. My favorite thing about the fair, aside from the food, is seeing all the animals. Of both the four-legged and two-legged kind. The four-leggeds outdid themselves this year. I saw baby goats, baby bunnies, baby chicks AND baby piglets! Oh, it was cuteness overload!!

I also saw the saddest thing I've ever seen in the world. Or at least at the fair. Of course I know that the fat piggies go to Bacon Heaven after the fair because I read Charlotte's Web. But knowing something and knowing something are two different things. In one of the little pens there was a boy, about eight or nine years old, lying in the hay next to his pig with his arms around the pig's wide, wide belly. He would sit up now and then to wipe the tears from his eyes and then throw his arms around that big belly again. It was heartbreaking, really. I questioned how his parents could put him through an experience like that. I couldn't do it. Life is harsh on its own, but I'm sure they have their reasons. If only I could have spun a web that said "Fucking fabulously fantastic pig right here!", I would have. I would have done it for that little boy.

Now for the real meat of the trip. The review of Fair Fashion. If the atrocities I saw can be called fashion.

The first noticeable trend is the pairing of short shorts with cowboy boots. I know that cowboy boots are kind of a fair thing, but it was hot and they don't look comfortable. And, although the girls wearing them got plenty of looks from members of the opposite sex, I couldn't decide what it was about them that bothered me. I asked KY* his opinion and he replied that he wasn't a fan, mostly because the girls dressed this way appeared to be about 12. Good point. I definitely preferred the boots with dresses and skirts. It's possible that only Daisy Duke or Jessica Simpson as Daisy Duke can get away with the shorts/boots combo. And even Jessica will likely never be able to do it again.

Next we have neon, which has reared its ugly 80's head once again. It comes mostly in the form of obnoxiously bright shoes, but I did see a teenage boy wearing shockingly yellow pants. It was pretty awful, but they were pulled up all the way, revealing no underwear, so I let it go.

I think the most disturbing trend I have yet seen is the showing off of the fat. This is when a girl who really shouldn't, but does, wears skin tight clothes that show off every roll of fat on her body. Now, I am no size 2 (well, sometimes I am. Or used to be. Actually I was once a zero, but I was also 13 and I would look dead if I were a size zero now. But I grossly digress.), and I just blogged about how we should embrace and accept our bodies, but there is a limit. I have a belly. I try to hide it, not accentuate it. And trust me, ladies, nobody wants to see in great detail exactly how fleshy you are. It's just wrong. It makes it even worse when you're standing in the line for a funnel cake because we know those rolls are just growing by the bite. Yuck. For the love of good taste and the sight I have left in my eyes, cover that shit up appropriately!

Remember this advice for next year. Or don't. I like having something to make fun of. I'm snarky that way.

*KY is Mr. A. and they are his real initials, which are funnier than any nickname I could come up with and I don't know why I didn't realize it before. KY. How did I miss that one?? He will be known as KY from this point on.


Dudes. How could I forget the all-important, New-Jersey-shore-style-on-the-wesst-coast known as the bump-it?? Yes. Bump-its. In Redmond. And yes, that is the plural form. As in more than one. As in more than two. I saw a whole FAMILY of bump-its. As in grandma, daughter, and granddaughter. I swear if that baby in that stroller had enough hair, they would have bumped it too.

And, Grandma Bump-it, yes, you have a great body. Except that you probably had your daughter when you were 16 so you're probably not as old as you looked. Or as the cheese on your legs made you look. Yes, cheese. Cover that shit up, take out the bump-it, and you'll take 10 years off your age. I promise, girlfriend. Do it.
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