Category Archives: Observations

Various observations about family, nature, life and whatnot.

Jealous of Boys

Seventh grade. Mr. Helton’s homeroom. He was the class clown and one of the most popular kids in school. I sat in the back row next to my Laotian friend and a girl who lived in a trailer park and once showed me a vile of some kind of powder (I winced at it and tried to ignore her the rest of the school year).

Even with my perm and freckles I was prettier than I ever gave myself credit for. The class clown sometimes acknowledged me but was more interested in the hottest girl in school with her long, shiny black hair, developed perky breasts, and cool mismatched socks.

I don’t know if I had a crush on the class clown or I just wanted to be the class clown. I think it was a bit of both.

He was confident. Kids giggled at his shenanigans. Even Mr. Helton found him amusing. He didn’t have the worry of covering up legs needing to be shaved, the inevitable arrival of a leaky menstrual cycle, or the proper way to curl unruly bangs into the perfect pouf.

I longed for his self-assured attitude and his fearlessness and talent for making people laugh. His tousled blond locks and casual, non-committal clothing required little to no maintenance yet he was gorgeous all the same. His wide, bright smile would surely take him far in life with minimal struggle.

When I look back at that time and the decades afterwards I think I was always jealous of boys. They were good at sports, didn’t have to wear make-up or an outfit that covered up the wobbly bits, didn’t spend hours pining over crushes that would never come into fruition.

For years I said if given the chance to come back in another life I would be Jeff Spicoli of Fast Times at Ridgemont High fame. His laid-back attitude and passion for surfing leaves little time to mull over the monstrosities of the world or the pressure of fitting into some perfect mold.

Now that I’m older and have a boy of my own I realize some of these prejudgements are just that. Not all boys get a free pass to blissfully ignorant-ville.

No, my son doesn’t have to worry about shaving his legs or getting a period. I don’t think he ever brushes his hair. But like me he worries about the world. He doesn’t always have that revered sky-high self confidence, especially when it comes to sports. But he’s miles beyond where I was at his age in seventh grade. He doesn’t seem to care so much what others think of him. He doesn’t slink away shyly in the corners of the classroom. For that I am thankful.

And in all honesty if I were a boy I would not have the experience of everything that goes with the unique ability to grow a human being in my body. That is some pretty fantastical and ever-bonding stuff. I wouldn’t trade that for any of the classroom joke-telling confidence in the world.

But…

It would be really cool to be Spicoli for a day.

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“All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine…”

 

 

 

 

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Communication Disconnect

Where has all this communication at the tips of our fingers brought us?

I’ve always been a proponent of texting. I’ve had six conversations at once doing this. Texting and instant messaging has kept many of my relationships alive, especially with those who live miles and miles away.

But recently I’m becoming a bit annoyed and confused at all this ability to instantly “connect” with others. I’m feeling lonelier than ever.

Texts can be misconstrued. And the fact that everyone has a phone and seems to be on them all the time doesn’t bode well when someone doesn’t text you back in a proper time frame. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions and self over-analyzation.

“Did I say too much? Not enough? Is their phone working properly? Are they dead in a ditch somewhere?”

Two days or two weeks later you finally get a response. And there’s no mention of a hey I’m sorry it took so long to get back to you, excuse excuse excuse.

It’s enough to drive you insane.

Not that I haven’t done the same. And for that I am truly sorry. My excuse is that I was either in the throws of single-working-momdom or I did not know how to respond to you so I just sat on it for a few days hoping the words would eventually reach my brain.

I’m not saying I hate texting. I’m a writer so it’s a lot easier for me in most instances to type out what I want to say rather than find the words straight from my head.

I just don’t know if this ability to connect instantly is helping us or hurting us. I’m half thinking of doing an experiment where I only actually talk to people on the phone.

There are things you can detect from the human voice. Like if they sound distracted, bored, distant, excited, nervous, cheerful. But there are also those empty spots of uncomfortable silence. Or even worse when you talk over each other and can’t hear what the other is saying. And even more people like me who don’t know how to end the conversation without dragging it on and on.

And what about the dying art of letter writing? The last time I received a letter was at least 3 years ago. It came from a friend overseas. And when this friend came to live state side our messages paled in comparison to the lengthy, thought-out detailed letters we’d written.

I guess it boils down to the age-old manners rule of do unto others what you’d prefer done to you. Try not to leave people in the dark. Do your best to communicate. And stay off your phone when you’re actually face to face with someone. And keep your arms from crossing in front of you and your eyes from blinking too much…

What are your thoughts on electronic communication? Is it helping or hurting?

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The Inevitable Come-down from Christmas and that New Year’s Resolution List

OK so it happened again. There was a definite come-down two days after Christmas for me. Did it happen to you, too? This was a particularly zen holiday so that makes it worse. I didn’t Scrooge one second this year. But since I was a chubby cheeked toddler and all the Christmases in between the come-down creeps in. Like New Year’s morn when your head is pounding and the clock to punch back in at work is ticking furiously.

I know the holidays aren’t great for everyone. But can I wax mystical about mine this year? Just for a minute.

It was so peaceful. None of my perfectionism reared its ugly annoying little sharp-tongued monster head. My son said it was “The best Christmas ever!” He says that every year but for some reason I think he meant it most this time. We saw lots of family and friends and also had quiet time at home. Our usual traditions still intact (although our fave Indian restaurant was closed on Christmas Eve so we had Thai instead. And they gave me a gift of hugging hippo salt and pepper shakers!) Me and my son’s dad, or as I will now call him my co-parent, had a truly lovely time together. Like old friends again. No stress. No high expectations. And the weather was fabulous.

So I had my little come-down pity party after. I had a short cry in the shower. It would have lasted longer if “Cat’s In the Cradle” had shuffled on my iPod.

Now onto the list. There have been years where I was like, “I’m not gonna participate in making that ridiculous resolution list. They all list-fully fall away in a matter of months or even weeks anyhow.”

But in my concerted effort to continue the forward motion of zen, I shall make one this year for sure. So off the top of my clear head here it is.

  • Lower my expectations and put a pillow on top of the mouth of the perfectionism monster.
  • Give gratitude. Every day. And infiltrate this into my son’s brain as well.
  • Have more game nights.
  • Less technology. Or at least stop bringing my phone to the dinner table. And infiltrate this into my son’s brain as well.
  • Write more.
  • Balance work-life. Try to stave off exhaustion and have a dinner party once in awhile.
  • Get to the beach more. Even if just for 30 minutes to watch the sunset.
  • Let go of the things I can’t control, like my son being an almost teenager and not loving all the things I like to do.

So there it is. I’m sure I could add more but I’ll stop now. Eight is my favorite number anyway. The first and the last on the list are definitely the most difficult.

I’ll refer back to this list in times of turmoil. And look back to the zen of Christmas holiday 2016. What are your resolutions? I’d love to know.

And oh yes, I wish you a beautiful 2017. Happy New Year!

 

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I Feel Strongly About Saturn

I’ve always been a proponent of vacations. Every vacation I ever took left me with a newfound sense of zen, an inspiration to tweak things in my life, and an altered way of looking at my surroundings.

I just got back from a three week road trip (tour de South) with the boy, who is twelve years old- that splendid minute between childhood and adolescence. He still sleeps with his stuffed animal Snuggles yet he forgot I existed once on our trip when a fellow 21 Pilots fan with long dark hair and a braided choker necklace entered his world.

Besides my glorious trips overseas in my teens and twenties I have not been away from home for this length of time. I can be a cave-dweller. When not at work or grocery shopping at Walmart I stick to my minute radius, often ignoring the slight nag to interact with humanity on a physical level.

Vacations pluck you out of your comfort zone, plop you into the unknown, and enlighten your sense of self. I learned I can keep up with preteens on a floating obstacle course (although I could barely lift my arms the next day). I realized I am pretty good at being a chameleon when it comes to cohabitating with various families and groups of people (although I had to slink away at small intervals to get away from the tiresome chatter I’d rather replace with a good book or staring at the tops of the trees).

I urinated in several outdoor locations without soaking my feet. I got lost in the banjo-echoed boonies without becoming completely inconsolable. I drove through thunderstorms and along winding mountain roads and alongside Live Oaks draped in Spanish moss.

I sang aloud to Boz Scaggs and Jimmy Hendrix and Weezer. I sipped coffee with my brother. I read fairy tales to my nephew. I poured my grandmother a glass of milk. I floated down rivers with friends I hope I have forever.

And all this with my son.

When we pulled into our driveway I was a bit dejected. Reality. Chores. Bills. Work. Homework. But if I can tackle these things with the zen I felt on the mountain, the freedom I felt on the open road, the happiness I felt surrounded by friends and family, then maybe these mundane tasks won’t be so stressful.

“I feel strongly about Saturn” was written in marker on a wooden bed in a cabin in the north Florida woods. It made me think of all the travelers who came there before me. And the dreams of stellar travels to come.

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Spinning Dresses and New Year Kisses

I rang in the New Year just the way I’d hoped. Surrounded by good friends, good people, and the absence of lemon drop shots.

It’s been a good time off from work. The whole holiday break has been fulfilling (except for the head lice situation nightmare which I may write about when I can just laugh about it).

I have spent quality time with people I have managed to neglect during my nine-hour workdays and various other mom, household, and health/hygiene duties.

I hope the neglected understand.

For this holiday I will remember–

The spicy, fresh smell of a health food store while walking side by side down the aisles with my mom on a mother-daughter date.

Reading incredibly sick yet nostalgic nursery rhymes to my nephew while his little hand rested on mine. “He put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well…

The relaxing and grateful feeling of my sister-in-law, and then my mother, and then my new dear friend combing through my hair to remove nits.

Witnessing my Little Boo exercise good table manners (placing his phone down without being asked and engaging in friendly dinner conversation); quiet chunks of time playing board games with him; a spontaneous Face Time call while he explored his aunt and uncle’s lakeside backyard in the cold Tennessee wind.

The quirky and adorable story my neighbor recited to me in her refined Liverpool accent as we sipped Australian wine.

My cousin’s hearty laugh and the resonation of it throughout the years and over state lines.

And yet there is much more. I am truly blessed.

I’d like to be, and be able to be less neglectful in the coming year.

I rang in the New Year with dear friends. And ended up dancing with  a stranger. A little girl with wavy locks the color of caramel and a dress that sparkled like fireworks as she spun and spun like a top that had no way of stopping.

And a strong little bear hug and kiss on the cheek from her before she scooted off into the balmy night.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Girl-Twirling

Photo courtesy of veganfashionblog.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Frustration of Artists

It’s easy to get frustrated with your art. The paintings aren’t selling. There’s two people in the audience. There’s one “like” on your latest blog post.

I’ve been blessed to be acquainted with and very close to some various artists. Singers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, painters, writers. We are drawn to each other.

Regardless of the sometimes lack of response or accolades these people continue to create. Because stopping creating is worse than hearing a cricket in the audience. It would mean giving up.

We don’t do it for the money. We don’t do it to be famous. Although a little bit of that would be nice! We don’t do it to inflate our egos. Because if we did, our art wouldn’t be real. As I type on this keyboard now it feels good. Even if no one reads it.

I’ve given up thinking I could make a real living at writing. And maybe that’s sad and maybe that’s also like giving up. But if I don’t put that kind of pressure on myself then I can just create to create. Because it’s been a part of me since I can remember.

And I thank those who do read. And I hope I can make someone smile, or laugh, or find a different perspective.

Perhaps I will make a living out of it one day. But right now I’m just gonna write when time allows and when my brain, soul, and fingers get that itch. And in the meantime help the kids in class learn how to spell and fill them with the confidence to follow their own passions.

I consoled one of them the other day when she was upset that the other classmates were on her for not doing exactly what they were doing in the Thanksgiving production.

“You be you, ” I said. “You just be you.”

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The Creative Tap

I’m having one of those writer moments where everything I type is crap. I actually have time and a quiet place to write. A hundred thoughts going through my head. But nothing is coming out of my creative tap.

I avoided the computer all afternoon yesterday. Instead I watched a marathon of my new favorite show Master of None. Now there are no more episodes to watch because I finished two entire seasons sitting on my recliner in my “house dress“. But it felt good to be lazy. It rarely happens.

The boy (my son) is with his dad for a week. So there are no video games being played. No begging for playdates. No requests for food. Cherry Pearl (the dog) is also with dad. If you dropped a piece of popcorn you could hear it hit the tile. And it would stay there until I noticed it.

The branches outside are dripping with fat, glistening droplets of rain. The sun is trying to peek through a band of cloud cover that has hung over the city for 48 hours.

Nature’s tap is also forever changing. Flowing, dripping, drying, clogging, peeking, gleaming.

I think one of the reasons I love my alone time so much is that I am surrounded with an abundance and overflow of energy and stimulation every day for 9 hours nonstop. Then I get home and there are always chores to be done.

This energy keeps me alive and mostly sane but there are moments I need to just look at a tree branch dancing in the wind. Or a pelican dive for fish. Or a twinkling string of stars on the occasions I actually look up at the night sky.

I need nature’s tap to regroup, gather inspiration, pause in stillness. And to keep my creative tap flowing.

What inspires you? What keeps you level-headed and able to create freely?

97040-full Photo courtesy of Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

 

 

 

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Cool Change

Early sunny Saturday morning brought with it a cool breeze. This is the kind of breeze where you want to fly open the windows, every window in the house. Go grab a light sweater and relish in the refreshing break. My son is on a high today from just stepping outside and not sweating immediately.

It’s mid-November. It is technically autumn. But Florida has been hanging on tightly to its tropical bones. We’ve been participating in a resounding groan about the heat not wanting to leave with the remnants of Halloween. Hell we were groaning before Halloween.

The weekend is supposed to be chilly by Florida standards. And it is greatly welcomed. Sometimes you just need a cool change. Whether it is the weather, a new job, adventure, friend, toy, dress. Shedding one layer of skin like the leaves shed their brown, red, and yellow leaves. Replace the skin with newness, a shift, a rising bud from within to reveal itself in spring.

Summer may linger longer here in Florida than we’d like. But sunny days are welcomed graciously. The sun warms the skin, the water, our cheeks, and reminds us there is light after darkness. And when it scorches we wince and pray for a rainy day to nestle inside and keep our skin from burning. But even better is a day like today. Both sun and light chill to awaken and bring about smiles on tired, weary faces.

I don’t think I could ever handle the tundra. And I might not always live in Florida, who knows. But I know I prefer wearing flip flops so I have to take the heat. My boots are patiently waiting in the closet. And I’m looking forward to wearing them. For just a little while.

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First Crush. Love Bites.

The moment I saw her I knew he would fall for her. She was just his type- quirky with a tad of edge, a splash of artist, and eyes so deep and beautiful you were unaware of time for a moment. They overrode the scars on her face.

Within two days of meeting her he professed his admiration for her. Not to her, but to me. It would be over two months before he would tell her.

My son is eleven years old. And this is the girl he adores. I work in their classroom so I am present in their lives daily.

Oh god I feel for him. I remember the boy I adored in 6th grade. He was in my class and a local model. Well I think he did a jeans print ad and a cheesy commercial for Hills Department Store.

He was going to be the first boy I kissed. I had it all planned out in my head. We would attend the Homecoming game together. At some point in the cool of the fall evening we would duck underneath the bleachers, look into each other’s eyes, and press our lips together in a non-klutzy fashion.

Well that never happened. He didn’t show the slightest interest in rendezvousing under the bleachers even though we were “going together”. Shortly after that he broke up with me. For a cheerleader. Ouch.

I remember longingly watching him at gym class while he jogged the perimeter of the gymnasium. His thin, white legs keeping the pace with the others. Why didn’t he like me anymore? What did I do to make him go away? I felt a pang in my heart and a jab to my pride.

But the crush and the pain eventually slithered away, making room for more crushes and more pain.

My son finally confessed his admiration for his crush during the class camping trip. Somewhere deep in the woods he bared his heart to her. She revealed although she really liked him, it was not in the way he liked her. Ouch.

I tried to console him. But in that moment he wanted to be left alone.

They are pretty good buddies. And there is a certain effortless cadence to their friendship. Later when he was ready to hear my advice I told him it might be better they are just friends, as then they won’t ever have to break up!

But I see the way he looks at her during recess while she sits on top of the picnic table reading her geek girl novel du jour. I can feel the longing. The quiet desperation of seeing something you want so badly and having no words to describe why and knowing you can’t have that very thing you so desire.

One day one of his other friends asked if he loved his crush. There was a pause. And when I saw the look on my son’s face I knew. This was not just a crush. This was his first love. Or the first girl he felt love for. I both celebrated and lamented this in my mind as I so carefully remained unreactive.

Here we go, son. This is the beginning of that arduous, til death, glorious, horrible, wonderfully amazing, despicable, tragic, magnificent journey. Hold on, but not too tight.

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Three-Day Weekend

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I have a three-day weekend. For the time being I’m going to ignore the messy yard, the laundry, the school projects, and the emails I need to tend to. I’m letting the sun warm my body as it blasts through the sliding glass door. I’m going to stay in my jammies til at least noon.

Yesterday afternoon was a bit of a train wreck at work. One kid in particular was wearing my nerves so thin I actually had to pause and put my head down and regroup lest I pull out my hair or turn into my version of The Hulk. I had a day where I felt I hadn’t been a great teacher. I wasn’t getting through to some of them and my voice was a mouse fart against their elephant trumpeting and T-Rex stomping.

So I believe I deserve a three-day weekend. Reboot, please.

Sometimes three-day weekends put a lot of pressure on you, though. If you don’t have a trip planned (which would have been nice) you are immersed in your surroundings and all the things you know you should do since you have an extra day. Rest and relaxation is on the agenda. But wait, that bill… that email… the yard… the kids… my creative projects.

Maybe I’ll just pretend I have to work Monday. So Sunday night will be a grand surprise when I don’t have to set my alarm for the next day.

I’m half-joking about the pressure because I believe everyone should have three-day weekends all the time. Or at least three days off per week. People will ask less time off from work because they will get all their doctor appointments, etc. covered. More time with family and friends. More time for exercise. So in turn less time at the doctor’s office. One day less of work commuting so better for the environment. More productive at work because they are refreshed. More balance in life.

That’s my opinion. I won’t get into the reasons why it might be difficult. Let me just stay in my jammies writing, ignoring the chores, and listening to my son have a blast with his friends he only gets to see on the weekends.

How do you feel about three-day weekends? What would you do with that extra day?

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