Archive for the ‘Franny’ Category

I Shaved My Dog Now I’m Not Sad; Or, Where’d You Go, Asshole?

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

There is a lot of music that reminds me of other people, but the other people don’t know I was ever thinking about them, nor have they heard the music themselves. I realized this this morning when I was listening to Felicia Carter, who I haven’t listened to since last summer really. It’s like someone else wrote the secret poems for you.

Yep, we’re calling it spring. I even went outside in the 6 a.m.s and could see things. The birds are going crazy, but my chickens, who do get the pellet, not the worm, are sleeping in.

I think the plum tree is going to have a good year. I made like Obama with the turkey and gave it a pardon after its extremely lackluster performance last year. I figure if it wasn’t actively diseased or foaming at the trunk or anything it could stay.

“We could just plant a new one,” P. said.

“Let’s give it one more year,” I said. “It’s old. Maybe it’s just tired.” If plum trees ever sit in judgment of my root system I hope they will come to the same conclusion about me. Next year. One more year.

He sprayed it with salad oil. I don’t question these things, really. I mean, maybe he knows something, or maybe he is just crazy. (Cue the sound of “HEY” many hours later when he discovers this.) Something seems to have worked.

I am considering spraying salad oil all over my own face at the moment. I’ve got the Prednisone poof. I’m not full-on Om Nom Hamster but it’s not great, either. There’s this rise where the chipmunk action starts and then it stops and I can actually see normal face and cheekbone behind, so it’s not like when my face has just been fat. I woke up the other morning and my nose was swollen–I actually noticed it in my peripheral vision. I am down to one pill and I feel pretty normal and sleep isn’t too bad anymore. By Monday I will be on half a pill, and then done by Thursday. I hear it can take a couple of weeks for the swelling to go down. In the meantime I feel like I have grit in my eyes so I wear my sunglasses everywhere, but am considering a bag for my head. I think I have had more veins burst in my cheeks but it’s hard to tell at this point. When no one is looking I kind of fondle my fat cheek parts and they sort of feel like dumplings or like mochi or something. My anpan filling is: bile.

[As a fun aside, P. came by while I was editing this, marveling over how my face is totally back to normal now. He is insane and can somehow sense when I am feeling bad about myself and will take that moment to say the most untrue thing.]

Franny left on Friday morning and I happened to be here since I had a vet appointment for the spaniels, who had ear infections and ear mites. I kind of understood their ears were off when I was really sick and I was trying to keep them clean, but I hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten until Horace yelped twice at work when people were petting him. They got shots and I have ear cream and I am getting drugs for them, all is well. I am ace at cats but still kind of a dog novice, sigh.

This is one of those things that is so easy to deal with when everything is normal. But getting sick, followed by lice, and now dogs. Whoosh. I think everything is under control now. (HA HA, did I really just type that.) After work I washed my car and made dinner and just that was exhausting, but not in a bad way. It’s weird to go from being able to do 12,000 things in a day to having to pick three things and then being forced to stop.

But this is all an aside to say that we decided to have a fight on the way out the door. I, Official Monitor of Toothbrushes, happened to notice that hers had been untouched for a couple of days, since I had put a replacement head in the bathroom for her. I should have left it alone. Am I actually capable of not answering the siren song of neglected oral hygiene? I am not.

“Hey, you went to bed early last night,” I said.

“Yeah, I was tired,” she said.

“You ate a bunch of candy and then I know you didn’t brush your teeth and then you went to bed.” Wait for it, it gets worse: “That is a recipe for cavities, friend.”

“I’m not going to GET cavities,” she said.

“SAY WHAT, CRACKER?”

“I don’t get them,” she rephrased.

“Well, if you keep up on your teeth you are less likely to get cavities. Magical thinking like that is not going to protect you from anything.”

“I need to be POSITIVE, MOM. I can’t tell myself I’m going to get cavities.”

“No one thinks they’re going to get them, honey,” I said. “But there’s steps you can take…”

“ARGH. It is so hard having divorced parents,” she said.

I think this bout of drama is coming from a friend at school whose parents are fighting unceasingly, causing the girl to worry her parents are splitting. It is also causing Franny to be in the ladies’ bathroom with her during 4th and 5th period while the girl cries, which I don’t love. Franny is the resident expert on divorce.

“I told her what it is like to go through a divorce,” she said, on Thursday evening.

“Do you remember?” I asked, innocently. “You were only three.”

“YESSSSSS,” she sighed at me.

But back to oral hygiene.

“So what is so hard about having divorced parents?” I asked.

“You’re so STRICT, Mom! If I forgot to brush my teeth, my dad would just say, ‘Oh well, do it tomorrow.”

This is where I interject in my head only: There’s an epitaph for you.

“Your dad and I are different people,” I said. “You know that.”

There was a little more scrabbling and then she stomped off to her room declaring she “didn’t want to talk about it anymore.” This is her tack lately–get very defensive about something, then declare the conversation over.

Strudel was sitting across from me at the table.

“Do you want to live somewhere else?” I asked her sotto voce.

“Where would I go? I belong here.”

“The train station?” I offered.

“There is no one who loves me at the train station.”

Later Franny came out to pack her backpack for school.

“You know, honey,” I tried again. “Your dad and I are so different, that even if we were still together, we would have drastically different ideas about how you should be raised and treated. We did when we were together and trying to raise you. This isn’t just a divorced parent thing. This is a different people thing.”

She said nothing. I went on, because when things are going down the crapper I like to enhance the situation by sticking my head in tiger mouths I guess.

“P. and I don’t always agree on you guys, but we find compromises. That’s the key.” Silence. “Um. So. We’re not going to see each other for a week. Are you sure you want to leave things like this?”

She walked out.

“Bye, Mom!” Strudel said, following her.

Franny was like this last summer as well. Really, really shitty before long breaks or vacations. This was bound to happen if I’d brought up the tooth brushing or not. I have heard all the theories and I’m not going to spend the week fretting. I assume we will have a talk at some point. I hope someday we can have more of a “Bye, have a nice trip, see you in a week,” interaction.

Later, after school, Strudel surmised that Franny was jealous we are taking a trip to Portland without her. Maybe so…maybe not. I know Franny is going to Walla Walla for spring break.

In other “stupid things I have done lately” news I decided to “loan” my sister my ye olde butcher block table.


VANISHED! Now all the plants have moved and are in a terrible jumble.

It’s actually really good because their apartment needed an additional countertop. Their space is like ours–50′s apartment, instead of house, with a galley kitchen and an open nook and no counterspace. So the butcher block will be a counter and a workspace in the nook. You can make bread on it and chop things, which is what it was used for when SeaFed’s mother had it in her kitchen. Since I’ve had it, it’s been off to the side somewhere, holding plants, not actually being used. It was acting as a plant stand in this house, which is a shame. I just gave her the whole “If you move and you think you want to get rid of it, let me know first,” but really we will be here a while, and this kitchen will never magically expand to hold it as an island, and my ass needs drawers and shit. I did give her the “This is an Alexander heirloom” lecture since we West Coast meanderers have such few possessions that actually mean anything. I did have a sigh when I tucked it away into a corner in another house yet again.

So P. is like, “Yo, what is your plan for this corner now that you have given away a thing we had that was working.” This is a very legitimate question. Sadly, I do not have an answer. Yet. I think I need a Countertop Solution. I really like what’s going on at this house. I’m imagining sealing the “permanent” counters that are by the sink and stove, and leaving my standalone guy sealed with food-grade oils so P. can continue making bread there as he likes. But maybe something in the corner too. Well, I have done it now. Godspeed, little butcher block table. You made my mother-in-law’s 80′s kitchen look fabulous, and I’m glad I inherited you when she remodeled in the aughties.

I’ve signed up for fruit and veg delivery, which was kind of a little epiphany I had when I was sick and getting stacks of frozen Trader Joe’s food in. It’s not a proper CSA in that they use multiple sources, but it’s nice. I’ve been meaning to do it for years but the time was never quite right. It’s making me really creative, because I take it as a challenge to use everything up before the next delivery. I’m thinking about going back to Amazon Fresh too. I may never leave my house again, except for work. (I am working on a secret mole tunnel; it’s only four miles).

Anyway, I forced myself to quick pickle this asparagus before I left town so it wouldn’t go bad.

HAVE A GOOD DAY.

My Bark is Worse Than My Barf

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Oh a twist–Monkey #10, who successfully traded hats on stage with eleven monkeys for two matinees and an evening performance last week, not to mention all the practicing, has suddenly come down with lice. What a crazy random happenstance. I dropped a dime on her with the school, because I am also hearing that there is a full-on outbreak and girls are “hiding” lice so they won’t need haircuts.

Things kind of festered because Strudel has not really been having me braid her hair at night for the past week or so, and I was just suggesting a Nice Bob to resolve her tangling and pain issues.

“NO!” she said last night, as her dad picked her nits.

Franny, meanwhile, has not had a haircut since September, and her ends and layers were getting a little tired. She asked me to give it a blunt trim across her shoulders, which was easy to do once I had gotten laundry load #4000 in and dishes were done.

“Oh that looks nice, Mom.” She thought for a minute. “Should I have…BANGS?” She started pushing little wispy bits down to preview what it might look like.

“I think you should, but I’m going to tell you what my hair stylist tells me: commit fully. No wimpy little bangs that you will have to style endlessly and they will still kind of look crooked and weird and not behave. You should make it a hairstyle.” I pulled a chunk of her hair forward to show her how it would look full and frame her face.

She went for it.

I like it. It’s very hipster anime Cleopatra. I showed her about a little heat, and a little style product, and BANG (no pun intended, but there you go).

THEN, not to be left out, Strudel clamored for a bob. I JUMPED! This is probably the quickest haircut I have ever given and she said the same thing she ALWAYS says every single time.

“I HATE THIS. Wait. This is actually okay. This is pretty good.” Sigh. “I think I like this. Thanks, Mom!”

And then after I was done, P. swooped and picked even more nits. This was after a round of smothering with tea tree oil and almond oil, too, of course, since I was out of Listerine (note to self). It will probably need a wee bit of clean up when she wakes up.

I tried to take a picture, but she turns into a blur. I get that she doesn’t love the camera, or holding still, and a lot of times I just leave her be and “miss” stuff. It’s okay, some of it stays in my head. I really wanted to snap the bob though and I was a little disappointed in myself for pressing it.

“Can you just…hold still?” I asked.

“Not really!”

“I want to see your hair in this, can you just, like…act normal?”

“I AM ACTING NORMAL!!” Hmm. Touche, there, Calvin.

Lady Lice-a-lot is coming to the rheumatologist with me this morning. Guess what? I “have something” now, I think. Parvovirus B19 came back positive, finally. I will let you know more when I know what the heck this means, overall.

Also I am burning with desire to show you my bathroom, but I am missing VANITY LEGS. OH GOOD GOD. SJ problems. I am going to shoot it later anyway, because there is an inspection today and tomorrow and then it is DONE, vanity legs or not (legs are backordered til next week).

ETA: Okay, it’s NOT parvo. It was just showing that I have had it. Dammit. Still, I’m getting better.

Hey, Mr. DJ, I Thought You Said We Had A Deal

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned that my sister is a DJ for a local radio station. I think she’s been official for about a year now, but she’s been with the station for much longer. It’s been a cool thing to see unfold, since she worked at the University of Washington station and interned at KEXP for a long time. I know people pick and choose which radio personalities and hosts they like, and some people don’t like certain voices or styles, but I think she’s good at her job. Friends and people I don’t know tell me they like her on-air too. I think she’ll be there for a while.

I mention this not only because I think it’s a cool thing, but also to say that Franny is getting interested in being a DJ now. We’ve been watching Veronica Mars together, and in the third season a college radio station is prominently featured.

“Being a DJ would be so cool,” Franny said one night after we were done with an ep.

“You know, your aunt…is a DJ,” I said.

“Oh yeah!”

“She knew she wanted to do music in high school and she did a job shadow in Olympia with Calvin Johnson. Maybe you could ask if you could watch what she does at the radio station?”

And she did. I have been trying to talk her into signing up for an email address, because I know she’ll need one for high school next year. This was my chance–I asked her to email her aunt about this. Morgan was wildly enthusiastic and she managed to get Franny in for a pretty typical (but exciting) day on her show where a band comes into the studio and plays live and there is a little Q&A. Franny was even able to introduce a Depeche Mode song. I believe she is being recruited.

I let Franny borrow my camera and she took a ton of pictures. There’s just a couple here (I will throw the rest onto Flickr for posterity) but I uploaded the ones she came home with and turned them into a little printed album for a keepsake.


Franny with The Thumpers

My sister has just moved within a couple of neighborhoods of me for the first time in…ever? I am excited to be seeing her more, but I’m also glad that Franny can make more of a connection with her. Morgan’s kind of a bridge (nine years younger than me, thirteen older than Franny) and knows about things I don’t and can give her advice that I can’t. Yay for family.

Cautious Optimism

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Good news, I suppose. Things seem to have stopped getting worse. I am in kind of a holding pattern now and am still crazy tired. The doctors have officially settled on viral myositis, which is nice because it goes away eventually. I am really hoping this will be the last week of my convalescence. I don’t think I’ve had a fever for 24 hours, but it’s gone away and returned before, as has the pain. We’ll see.

Strudel’s birthday is Wednesday and she will be nine. She wants to go out to dinner, which is a typical thing here at Rancho Asshole. If I am having trouble walking I’m going to take some codeine and suck it up. We’re going to have FUN. Dammit. I am also on the hook to make her usual pineapple upside down cake, which blessedly she is not making me dye blue or anything this year. Don’t tell her I said this, but YUCK.

She has demanded Indian food and submitted a long birthday list before we went out of town, which I cherry picked from as usual. Several years ago Franny began including “surprises” on her birthday lists, which I think is a very legitimate ask. Strudel twigged to that idea and has run with it. I like to be surprised sometimes as well–a good one is a gift in itself.

On Sunday night P. and I were laying in bed at the late hour of 8:30 or so, and we had done all the necessary marshaling to send the girls off to blow zees. Strudel came in to have her fine, thick, long hair braided into two chunks before laying down, which makes it less of a tangled nightmare when she wakes up. She took in the picture of her destroyed parents in repose. For a moment I imagined we looked like Charlie Bucket’s grandparents, just ancient and broken.

She said goodnight and turned to leave the room, but lingered in the doorway for a moment.

“Are you two going to…flake on my birthday?”

“NO!” we said in unison.

I’m not going to lie, that hurt. The thing about this kid is that she says things like this, which is exactly what’s percolating in her roiling, evil brain, and has no idea how things may come over.

Franny, hypothetically in the same situation: “I am worried that you two are too sick to execute my birthday in a satisfactory fashion.” Franny’s first word was “poopbubble” (while pointing at an airplane) and while I don’t quite remember her second, I’m pretty sure my little Betazoid’s second word involved an “I” statement.

Strudel: “Sup, flakes.” Ouch.

But you can decode the message easily enough. I have never flaked on a birthday, though I think she was less than impressed at our tired, lackluster Xmas decorating in the first year in this house. There was presents and Feast though.

Franny was feeling better this weekend. She never got the voms like the rest of us, but she was still pretty knocked out with the virus. This weekend her volume went up again so I knew she was doing okay. She was chattering about Stephen King’s IT, which she read recently and brings up anytime she sees a clown, some balloons, or even something like a funny-shaped cloud. I think it’s made itself home in her psyche.

There were balloons tied to an open house sign on the way home from the store.

“BALLOONS! ‘They all float, motherfucker!” she said in a funny voice.

“Is that what Pennywise says?” I asked, laughing. I skipped the whole IT experience.

“Well, I added the ‘motherfucker’ part.”

She made me laugh so hard I peed a little. She doesn’t drop the MF bomb too often lately, but when she does, it’s pretty effectual. And a good sign for her health.

The Plan of the House, the Body in Bed

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Let’s get this over with.

Things came to a head with the neighbor, so I am hoping this will be my last dispatch about her. A couple of days after the shrub incident I discovered that something else had taken place earlier that day. I spoke to my contractor the following Monday morning and he said that she had trespassed into the house and yelled at the electrician on Friday, demanding to know where we were and telling him that she “had to talk to us.”

I filed a police report and the cops spoke to the electrician, who gave his account. Now we’re on no contact. I am left scratching my head over what made us so infuriating on that particular day that she had to burst into the house and begin yelling. I cannot come up with an answer, so I am going to go with “is crazy.” Naturally she had the no-contact order extended to us as well. The funny part (in a way) is that the only time we’ve contacted her was to knock on her door to ask her to stop digging up our yard.

Anyway, lately it probably seems like all I think about is my crazy neighbor. I guess in reality it’s something less personal and dramatic I can write about. There’s a lot of old ground I don’t feel like retreading lately. It’s for the best, not to bulldog everything until it’s shaken into shreds. Also, I am an insane Bisy Backson. I feel like my time is claimed from the time I wake up until I lay down in bed. I stand at work all day so some days I feel like I don’t even stop moving until it’s bedtime. I suppose there’s dinner, too, though.

I had my sister over for dinner last night and we talked about being on cruise control and what the year is shaping up to be. She was saying she doesn’t have any burning goals right now, nor any huge obstacles.

“I keep thinking I should get a hobby, but there’s nothing else I really want to be doing,” she said, while I stirred my bologese.

“She’s 26,” I said to P. by way of explanation, who was listening.

“You’re just living!” he said. “That starts to happen in your late twenties if you’re doing okay.”

It was funny to hear her talk about her life with some wisdom and calm clarity, as opposed to the kind that comes with “this crisis is happening and I just had this epiphany at 3 a.m.” That shit is exhausting. Not to hear about, but to live through. I’ve done a combination of holding my breath and cringing for my sister for the last ten years or so as I’ve watched her move out from my mother’s shadow and grow her own life, as you do.

I remember that strange feeling when I started to realize the years really had a rhythm to them and if I chose, I would be doing the same thing over and over again every year. I would be making the same meals, or something just like them. I would be pulling the same weeds out of the garden beds. When it got cold, I would pull out my sweaters for the fourth year in a row. I would spring clean the same house, or at least in the same way. There are small victories and disapointments, but the only real difference is that I’m getting wrinkles and the girls are getting taller. I guess one of the keys is to ask yourself if you still like what you’re doing every now and then. Cruise control does have a seductive quality that can turn into inertia.

I was considering taking up a new hobby this year as well, since I so love new years, but I made the same decision as my sister. I don’t have any serious medical complaints right now, other than my normal bag of genetic weirdness/early old age. I don’t have any goddam court cases. Maybe this is just a year of normal doing, and being grateful for that.

Franny and I have been touring high schools around town right now. I feel really lucky to be in a position to let her make a choice about which high school she wants to attend. It’s been fun spending time alone with her, and hearing her reaction to the schools.

We went to her neighborhood school, which allows thousands of students in. It is an old 1950s building, which I find inherently charming because I am mushy-headed, but even I can see the drabness of the grey and yellow bathroom tiles under the fluorescent lights. I was embarrassed to feel the unpleasant visceral reaction I was having to being in a building like that, like I immediately wanted to graffiti on something or go outside and smoke. We were wandering the halls after the initial orientation was over and she got the standard “Oh my god, that girl has teal hair,” from some students who were there late at a robotics club, which completely irritated her.

We popped into the art classroom and looked around. It looked like a very cool studio space, and was obviously some kind of haven for freaks, as it always is. The walls were covered with handmade posters the teacher had done about bullying and about the studio being a safe space. It was nice to see that being addressed head-on.

The girls in the robotics club went by the art classroom door to spy on us and did that loud griefer thing that kids do when they want to harass someone without directly confronting them. It reminded me of nature shows with monkeys screeching with displeasure when there is a foreign monkey in the next tree scoffing all the best breadfruit. Franny’s cheeks colored and she rolled her eyes.

We went to the opposite of that the next night–a very small school housed in The Seattle Center, which is where the Space Needle is, if you are unfamiliar. We were shown slides of test and SAT scores, but I imagine the makeup of the feeder neighborhoods surrounding the center (mostly white, wealthy) may have had more to do with test scores than the amazingness of the school. I suspect most of the kids in the school have enough support to do well wherever they went. Franny was very charmed by what was presented, and I’m sure she’d do fine there. I think the dealbreaker was the attitude of the kids themselves, who were allowed to present a large portion of the curriculum and programs, and the fact that there is no Japanese program.

I’m informed that this reads, in part, “You are a butthole.”

We picked up some dessert on the way home. Strudel and her father had been out to multicultural night at the girls’ school, but they arrived home first. When we walked in she was making a face like she was going to pee herself with excitement and she started whispering at her dad. Something was afoot. I put my coat away and Franny walked into her room and promptly screamed. Strudel had picked up a life-sized standee of Justin Bieber abandoned on the side of the road on the way home, and had installed it in her sister’s room. All her idea. Franny took it with good humor. The funny part is that Franny is one of the only ones in her peer group who doesn’t like the Biebs. We like to tease her about the Biebs since it’s what she’s “supposed” to be doing. She still has the card I sent her last summer at her dad’s house.

The smallest drop of pre-Christmas can get you immaculate pregnant so always wear your rugelachs

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Wherein we feature two basketball hoops, 70 quail eggs, Edith, “ten years ago”, and &etc.

PRESENTLY (h/t B-Potts) we are seated in the dining room, surrounded by the aroma of natural gas (well, okay, that gross stuff they use to scent it) and the windows open. There is a terrible grinding sound coming from the floor below me, but I am promised that the washing machine will be working by tonight, which is a fucking Xmas miracle in December. The cats and Horace are looking at me murderously, but Edith is chewing on a tendon that is almost as long than she is, with the attitude, “Tro lolo, it has always been this way and so I suppose it will always be.”

Puppies, like Earth girls, are easy.

I’m on vacation. Yah-TAH. I have no plans except to get out of town to Portland at some point soon. I’m enjoying hiding in my house when there is not banging noises. I think I like almost anything that changes my perspective some, which this remodel is doing. It has renewed my enthusiasm about having access to my very own personal washer and dryer that is accessible at any time day or night. That is really fucking special, isn’t it? How fortunate.

There have been small trials along the way, mostly under the column of capitalism fails. My contractor and I got our wires crossed and I ordered a tub and then he ordered a tub. Two tubs were hurtling towards my house from Kentucky. What a waste! My tub, which as it turns out was the wrong tub, had a bunch of fixtures I needed to fish out from under it, which involved cutting it off its pallet. I was afraid to have the tub come all the way to my house, thinking it would be a major fiasco to find strapping equipment to restrap it, and that it would take up too much room, since the non-Elco half of the garage is filled with things like dodgy dirt piles and tools.

So I decided the most efficient thing would be to drive to the shipping company that received the tub. They were amenable to this and were nice men to boot. One helped me undo the tub, fish the shower and sink fixtures out, and restrap it. I offered to pay for the materials but they waved me away. It was pretty cool to go out to a freight company in Woodinville. I need to find a job where I can hang out all kinds of places where no one wants me, like the laundromat and freight companies. I really wish I would have brought my camera. The office/dispatch area reminded me of some blue collar jobs I had in the way back before college. My back hurt just looking at the “YOU MUST BE COMPLETELY OFF DUTY FOR YOUR BREAKS” sign. I did get a sneak peek of the chrome lion footies as they will look on the correct tub and HOOBOY TACKY SHINY BONER AHOY.

The medicine chest arrived and when I brought it into the house I could hear the contents tinkling merrily–the mirrors were totally shattered. Also I have bought entirely too much tile, because I measured the basement before the plumber showed up and changed the design. The day they cut the cement floor open, many spaghetti poodles as well as other brik-a-brak jumped to their deaths off the shelf, gouging my toilet seat on the way down. There was something I’d never seen before that was original to the house–an electrical lock that opened the garage door, which was the entrance I was using for the workers. This lock is broken now. It’s these little things that I didn’t foresee happening that are adding to costs and are just kind of generally a bummer. It will be worth it when it’s done, though, and I am sitting in a giant vat of hot water reading a Lawrence Block novel.

I put the tile together last weekend to make sure I liked it and the design. This will be, basically, what the shower looks like when it’s done. If you cock your head to the left 90 degrees you will see what the vanity backsplash is meant to look like. Everything else is chrome and white.

This lighting is terrible, but let me assure you it’s a light green and black–Daltile “Mint Ice.” I decided to dance with the one what brung me and make the basement look like the upstairs. So, darker border tile, a “sizzle” tile and BINGO. It’s surprisingly hard to walk into a modern local tile store and get your mittens on boring 50s tile. HA.

Speaking of trashy writing like vintage Lawrence Block–I have written another short story, but unlike the one this spring which turned into a novella (whoops) and the one after that in the summer that turned into a novel (double whoops) this is an ACTUAL SHORT STORY. It’s about a woman who splits in two. I’m going to submit it to a few “exposure” (free) journals and see what happens after New Years. So that is a good thing that came out of my laundromatting.

I have been doing very little cooking, since my water is unpredictably off or on, and almost no entertaining. I did pickle a bunch of quail eggs on a whim, so these should be delicious in about three weeks. I used the last of my long pepper from my Victorian year. As well as allspice and mustard seed, so they will be Victorian goodness.

On one of my last days of work I decided to take the Elco out. It’s only coming out about weekly now, since it does not run as well in the cold, and as the former owner told me, “If the roads are icy and the back is empty, the rear can catch up with the front of the car and kill you.” Oh, okay. Good times. It’s rarely icy here, though, and the sunrises have been glorious lately. I think this car was made to be in Seattle now, really. Anyway I was driving it home and the volt gauge for the battery started jerking around.

“Nooooooo!” I melodrama-ed, which is my reaction every single time it’s not running perfectly. I ran home and played internet mechanic until I found out it was probably one of five things, all likely to do with the alternator. “What is an alternator,” I wondered to myself. I have made a vow to learn how cars go and so far I am doing okay with a lot of help. I gave P. the rundown of my findings and he volunteered to take a look. In previous lives before library school he was a tractor mechanic and a fishing boat mechanic, and what is an El Camino if not the bastard child of a boat and a tractor?

I added the weekly big gulp of oil and he looked from the other side. “Loose wire,” he said. I was so happy! I need to get a grip. (Not going to happen.)

As a finale to the 2013 part of the school year, Strudel performed in the holiday concert. She is in choir now, so she got to participate in almost every number done by each grade. Franny and I came to the school early so we could drop Strudel off with her music gang and we took a seat with a cherry view on the world’s most uncomfortable bleachers. There is not enough legroom for adults so all the parents end up sitting sideways and twisted for every event in the gym.

LO AND BEHOLD who should enter and make a beeline for where we were sitting but Loudmouth Nemesis Dad, who I have not seen since Halloween, thank fuck. Wait, what is someone who is like a baby nemesis who you only remember exists when you see them? A nemesette.

This jackwagon sat behind us and started making loud declarations about how busy they were and how stressed out his wife was. He has the loudest, most booming voice that can cut through, well, a gym full of parents and their excited children. “Well there’s the tree fundraiser,” he foghorned. “And my wife is busy with the wine fundraiser. She has to collect 35 more bottles! She is totally overwhelmed! And then we’re driving to Idaho for two weeks to visit my wife’s family…”

“Do you want to move?” I asked Franny.

“So much,” she said.

Our new seats were farther away on the other side and involved a very unpicturesque view of a basketball hoop. It was PERFECT.

SO. Let’s talk about TEN YEARS AGO. I am all over the place today, and I cannot even be arsed to use chapter headings or anything.

ANYWAYS. Look, Ma, I left my husband.

Am I different at 36 than I was at 26 with a three-year-old and totally freaked out? Yeah, I suppose I am. I’ve learned a lot, but sometimes I feel like the things I’ve learned about I will not have to go through again. Like, uh…tech contracting, maybe? I know how to do it, but I may never have to call on that special skill set again. I think I’m better at life in general. I learned how to go through a terrible divorce with years of custody fallout shit. Probably won’t do that again, because I know how to detangle myself from things now, as well as not getting with people who are rill bad for me.

This is what I, personally, would do differently, if my 36-year-old self was standing behind that little baby 26-year-old graduate student (ha).

1. Document all violence, big and little. I should have taken a picture of where his fist went through the wall, and when he put the doorknob of my new apartment through the wall. I should have called the cops when he was smashing the backyard. I should have called the cops and documented when he assaulted me after our separation, because then I might not have had to deal with the humiliation of the commissioner telling me in court that I “looked like I could take him.”

2. I should have kicked him out of our shared home. This, along with the documentation of violence, may have put me in a different standing for custody. I was operating from a place of personal ethics–it was not my house (his father owned it), so I felt like I had no right to stay. I’m sure my ex-FiL wouldn’t have minded, and if I’d daylighted the violence outside of court they might not have given him money. Hard to say now.

3. I should not have bothered trying to be friendly. This was a person I could barely talk to before I told him I was leaving him, so there was no point trying to chat with him after. I don’t think it hurt anything, per se, it was mostly just a waste of time and a headache. Cordiality and basic communication is different than friendly.

4. This is so small I hesitate to even mention it, but I left way too many things behind. Once the dust settles and you heal up emotionally, there was a lot of stuff I missed. Art I bought in Mexico, other dishes and appliances I’d had for years. I had to trade him a brand new Mark Bittman cookbook just to get the basic bitch Betty Crocker thing I taught myself to cook with, that I am emotionally attached to. Of course all the lovely Mexican art has been chucked now, but it was important that he keep it all at the time.

What would any of this have changed? Again, hard to say. You are rolling the dice when you set foot in family court. I’d like to think we could have avoided those two loooong years of 50/50 custody, as well as his bullshit claims that we should go back to 50/50 time when I filed for child support. But he moved away and his attention wandered eventually, so she has one room and a home base in the end. Would I do it again? Of course, in a heartbeat, and I would do it even more poorly if necessary. Things like my calavera last supper and my dignity lives on in my memory, at least. Merry Fuckmas.

I often kiss you when there’s no one else around

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Franny is fundraising for her trip to Japan next spring. I came home and saw two giant boxes of candy bars on the table.

“How’s it going? How much are these going for?” I asked.

“Two dollars, and I’ve sold a bunch already,” she said.

“How much?”

“I’ve already made $33!”

“Hmm, okay.” I decided to let that one go. “I have advice for you. As we say in the drug dealing business, ‘Don’t get high on your own supply.”

“Okay, Mom,” she said, laughing.

Later I was in my room and I heard her talking to P.

“I’m hungry, I really want to eat these candy bars,” Franny said.

“Don’t do it,” P. said.

“Yeah, it’s like Mom said earlier: Don’t drink your drugs.”

CLOSE ENOUGH.

~fin~

DEAR FRANNY

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Last night in the car.

P., to me: Are you okay?
Me: *cough cough* I’m sick.
Franny: Boo, you whore!

******************

Today, you are thirteen years old. I’m not going to lie to you, this scares the ever loving crap out of me. Of course your life is very different than mine was.

You were born at home, in a split-level rental in Shoreline. Later I was told the neighbors heard me screaming. The neighbors, presumably, were civilized people and had their children in modern hospitals. You were nine days late, and I was a little bummed when I knew you were coming right then, make way everyone, because your day was also the day of my childhood best friend’s birthday, and there were sad memories there. I never told you that. Your day superseded my thoughts of her pretty quickly, though. It’s funny how what comes after overwrites what came before so easily sometimes that you barely even notice.

Here is a secret: I felt kind of smug that my body had toted you along into my month, and out of your father’s birthday month. Yes, I was thinking thoughts like that even then.

I was very alone during my labor with you, like I was in a long, dark tunnel. I remember people kept leaving me alone in my room where time would crawl, and then crash forward. I remember voices outside the room, and the smell of coffee being made. Sometimes I would be fed and then throw up again. There would be a lot of pain, and then nothing but staring and thinking about the book I was reading that your labor interrupted and how the rain looked crawling down the window. I still never really came back around to Hardy. I kind of wished I was in a hospital, not because I was scared, but because I knew there would be people around.

It made sense to me that in the final moments I would feel alone in labor. I was alone a lot as a child, and in my marriage. Everyone saws on about how you are born alone, and how you die alone. This is dark, sorry. There’s a lot of cobwebs and bullshit in here. But when I saw you, I felt, well, confused as hell. Having a little creature come out of my body and open its eyes and start breathing was crazy! WHO THE HELL INVENTED THAT.

You were very solemn and looked around the room with your unfocused eyes. The light was dim. Your eyes would lock on my face and then flicker away again. They looked very deep grey. You were not the horrible slime goblin I was expecting at all. You were very cute. And then I felt something else: less alone. I joked that you were my 23rd birthday present.

Now you look like this [further commentary redacted]:

Fierce, girl, fierce.

When I was thirteen I was living with my mother in a terrible apartment after she had run away from my stepfather for the second or third time. I had just started high school and I was getting dark for real. I think this was my second real depression. The first one happened after I was picked up as a runaway at ten. I started collecting black clothes from thrift stores and moping endlessly. I tried to teach myself transcendental meditation from a book I got at the library. I stayed up for three days at a time because I could and there was no one to tell me not to.

Sometimes my mother wouldn’t come home, or at least I wouldn’t cross paths with her for days. Sometimes there was a sign she had been there briefly during the day while I was at school. What was she doing? I have no idea, it was none of my business. Was she avoiding me? I spent many nights in my room crying, being ignored. There is this small part of my brain that hisses, “Well, you were a real drag then and I had my own shit to deal with” and I realize that is my mother’s voice.

I try to imagine leaving you alone for days at a time and ignoring you while you cry heartbreakingly and I think I would rather pluck the veins out of the back of my hand with my teeth. It all seems so foreign to me. I am your protector. I care about you. Here is another secret: when there is love and a certain level of functionality, it’s not that hard.

I did not know I would have a daughter who was so smart and funny and who quotes Mean Girls and is easy to live with. I am a happier person for knowing you and having you in my life.

I feel like we’re on a hump now, but the land below is all foggy. On one hand, I see the floodgates opening and BOOM you’re almost a teenager now. On the other, I know you have another year or two where you will actually listen to my lectures about compound interest, the dangers of open containers at parties, why you leave a note, how teeth are not tools, and The Importance of the Correct Undergarments. Soon I will need to listen, listen, listen to you or I could push you away, or at least bore the crap out of you.

Happy birthday, Franny.

Wide Open Beavers Inside!

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

”If you want to know who your friends are, get yourself a jail sentence.”
–Charles Bukowski

It’s turnabout this weekend. My friend Laurie who I recently stayed with in San Francisco is now here with me.

It’s a gorgeous day and the tomatoes have died and so the chickens once again roam the Earth. Well, the limits of their Earth. They are happy to be out of their summer pen and they look TERRIBLE. The older ladies are molting, possibly worse than I have ever seen any of my chickens go. They look diseased, except they are just missing feathers, of course.


[Not pictured: dag chickens]

Like the chickens, I am sort of pecking away at my house. Hanging pictures and switching out things like doorbell covers, because brushed chrome is not where it’s at. Besides, you can see the little original outline in the cedar, right? When this house was built, space was the place.

There is something about places being exposed in houses that are normally not that makes me think of surgery, or of parts of the body. I see a sad vulnerability, as if I can see a place for what it really is. Sometimes I feel guilty when I have friends over when I am half through a project and you can see through the walls. Sorry, I want to say to the house, and throw a gown over it. It’s all a big metaphor, isn’t it? Nothing’s ever as together or as whole as it seems.

I think this is part of the reason I went crazy living in a three-year remodel of a very small house. There were constantly gaping wounds everywhere.

As an aside to Kurt Vonnegut and wide-open beavers, I wrote one of my high school term papers on Breakfast of Champions. I liked the idea that something could be so raw and smutty and still make me feel my feelings, all six of them. Also I think duality and insanity are some of my favorite themes, after death.

My contractor says he has obtained permits to begin construction, so what I really need to do, which terrifies me, is commit to about a billion dollars worth of tile. The purchase I am looking forward to is giant tub of doom. The upstairs tub is one of those short 50s bastards that is for kids or dogs and needs to be refinished to boot.

In Other News

Strudel was in the living room on Friday morning before school, braiding something, or sorting something with her dolls. Her favorite dolls are having a little hiatus because she broke a door on the chicken coop (long story there) so she was playing with the second stringers. Franny was at the table, attempting to memorize the capitals of the Northeast.

I walked from the kitchen, through the dining room, and towards the bathroom. I was getting ready for work. As I passed through the dining room, Strudel spoke to her sister.

“…So that’s someone ELSE added to my shitlist now.”

“What!” I interrupted. “How do you have a shitlist? You’re eight years old. What are you, Tiny Nixon?”

“Her sub sounds pretty bad, Mom,” Franny said, in Strudel’s defense.

“She’s a yeller, she yells at everyone. She’s talking to one person and yelling at them and it’s too loud. Everyone hates it.”

“Hmm, fair enough,” I said.

I don’t know what to do with this. I just needed to write it down.

P. made danishes this morning. I think I like the blackberry ones best.

Frannys Gonna Fran

I think it’s funny that she’s spending a lot of time lately trying on what teenagers are “supposed” to be. The other day she stomped off to her room shouting “NOW I’M GOING TO SLAM MY DOOR BECAUSE HORMONES” and went in and closed it with a little snick. She wasn’t even mad as far as I can tell. Though some times, it’s stormy for real.

Report From Lone Pine Mall

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

It’s the first day of school. The video cuts off since my camera is still full of vacation pictures, but suffice it to say I carried on with the wakening.

As soon as Franny popped up, before she even had a glass of water, she told me about a dream she had about Kyle MacLachlan who was looking at a dead lady on a table and then she melted into cheese. Strudel has a nervous stomach ache.