Do we get too old for new heroes?
Do we get too old for new heroes?
You know those Victorian corsets with all the boning, but not in the good way, that would squish women and girls to the nth degree? Where does the fat go? I will tell you, but you probably already know. It displaces.
So like the poor lady’s maid assigned to tighten said corset, I’m struggling a little right now after going back indoors. I felt really good this summer, strong and like I was getting stronger every week, literally. Like it was easy for me to build muscle and my lungs were huge. The first three weeks I started I thought I was getting sick by every Friday. Sore throat, fatigue, aches, lymph nodes rising on the back of my head and neck. Fuzzy brain and memory leaks. I’d be a dead ducky on Saturday and then on Sunday I’d be refreshed again and would cram ten hours worth of chores and errands into about six.
I think…I figured it out. The minute I walk in to my building I’m hit with fragrance and my face starts to dump. I sneeze and scratch my face all day. People are covered in corn-based deodorants, lotions, perfumes, aftershaves, laundry detergents. I think being around adhesives, industrial lubricants, dirt, and welding fumes actually agrees with me more. I’m going to die of something. It’s probably going to be my colon shredding and bleeding out like other members of my family have gone, but I think I want to feel good and spin the wheel with construction in the meantime.
I have to tell you though, it’s shaking my confidence. Corn makes me so weak. How can I go back onto a jobsite and lift buckets and rebar and do math and whatnot? I’m trying to remember that I’m going to be really sore at first but I’m probably going to feel great and be able to think super clearly in about a week. I’m still hanging out waiting to hear if I have interviews with anyone. In the meantime I have the best temp job I can get in terms of hours and pay. I’ve found some temp warehouse work which pays similarly, and is calling to me, but it cuts off a bit sooner and it looks like there’s some graveyard shifts. I’m weighing the advantages.
“I’m her mother.”
Desk jobs are comfortable in that you’re warm and dry but I don’t feel comfortable being forgetful by the end of the week, feeling my anxiety rise for no reason, and having physical symptoms. I’m having trouble explaining to some people why I want to leave these types of offices forever. I guess I don’t have to explain it to anyone.
“No she isn’t.” PS I Derp You
There is an interesting side effect when I get ill again, but not too ill to function. The corset squeezes and the fat displaces and it makes my wheels spin creatively. I read that the flu virus can make you more gregarious. I think my brain gets kind of frantic when my immune system goes off–“we’re dying here, make something!”
I’ve been kicking around doing something fictionalized with Samuel Pepys diary for almost five years now–kind of a story that takes place in that world. I thought it might lend itself to a podcast, sort of a “17th century mecha dystopian London meets Night Vale” thing (what’s that you say? Kevin Costner’s Waterworld?). But I realized I don’t want to work alone right now, so I wrangled a cohost to podcast with. And it will have NOTHING to do with Samuel Pepys, don’t worry. I’ve got a domain locked down and recording equipment on the way.
I’m excited. I need a carrot. I need to continue perusing my ridiculous hobbies. I will link when the first one drops, which I’m hoping will be around Thanksgiving, and put it in the sidebar, etc, but as usual I won’t really push it and see if it finds an audience. If nothing else it will be fun times with my cohost and a chance to dick around with Squarespace, which I’ve been wanting to do since my site’s design is STALE as hell.
A nerd with cheap custom fangs.
Me: We’re going to be seeing a lot of these fangs, aren’t we?
Franny: YEP GET READY FOR FANGS IN CHRISTMAS PHOTOS NOW, MOTHER.
Franny is switched on permanent Owen Meany capslock right now.
P. birthday cuppycakes: Orange cream with pecans.
“Bonus” Franny birthday. I forgot about this batch because I probably shouldn’t be driving two cameras at once.
It actually has to be some dog stairs
I keep realizing I’m not capturing things from this summer in anything resembling a timely fashion. This was my final project in shop class. When I get paid I will carpet them. I’m feeling…berber. EH? These are going at the foot of the bed when they’re done so the spaniels don’t have to go all DB Cooper on me every time they have to go pee.
In case you have a sharp eye, you will see the jigsaw hole I cut was wonky. I was down to the last five minutes of time! Whoops. I am also reminded that I need to get rid of my liquor decanters, since we don’t really drink brown liquor anymore.
Todd Chavez has displaced their old home. My new hobby of aquarium-keeping has replaced the old hobby of despair and malnutrition. Anyone need some cut crystal decanters? Also, don’t get me wrong. I still like some wine or vodka sometimes, which seems pretty safe as long as I don’t go for the super cheap stuff.
P. got soap on himself while doing the dishes, and then stripped off, and THEN went out to give the bees a little fall snack of heavy syrup. Naturally he just threw his beecoat on. He thinks he has invented Topless Beekeeping and wants me to start the website. N-O. But I had to snap him.
“Har har,” he said, as I papped him.
So here’s me and my face, which will be 38 in a couple of weeks. WHAT HOW DID THAT HAPPEN.
For fun, here is me ten years ago, at 27:
On this day in history I went to the electrician’s union and took the math and reading test. Reading test–very easy, of course, and I was the first one finished. Algebra test–I dunno! I think I got a majority of them. But ENOUGH? I will let you know in two weeks. I am allowed to call then and inquire about results. I think a letter will be coming and there are interviews next month and in December.
There were three ladies in the room, out of maybe 60 people, and one of them sat next to me. Which was cool. She started talking about her kids immediately, which was also nice. I like people who are like that, though we were told this summer to keep being a mother a secret. She was going for limited energy, which is stuff like data comm and alarm systems. I’m signed up for indoor wireman, which pays very well but I will not be swinging from cherry pickers at 2 a.m. in a power outage. I didn’t get a chance to speak to the other lady.
I saw the new members of the Ladies Hammer Club filing into the building, which is housed with the electrical union. They looked harassed and tired in their exercise clothes and I wanted to talk to them but they looked so serious, which is the same as I was.
Here are some things I was told this summer.
1. “There is one ‘hen’ per jobsite, so watch out. Wait no, not really. But actually yeah kind of.” What we should watch out for, I am not sure.
2. “If there is a gossipy man on the site and he is trying to bend your ear, you will be the one fired for being the distraction, not him, so get rid of him ASAP.”
3. “Your pants are all too tight.” To be fair, that day most of us were wearing pants that were too tight. I pulled a page out of the Americorps workers’ books, who usually showed up to Habitat for Humanity in the those really stretchy lady jeans that are more like denim-colored leggings but do not cross the line into jeggings. Boy howdy are those nice to work in, though. What I finally ended up doing was buying enormous bib overalls. ZOOP! Gender vanish!
4. “This one guy wouldn’t leave me alone about my hair when it was down this summer, so I had to you know, corner him, and deal with him privately.” There followed meaningful jaw-clenching. I imagine this guy’s remains are entombed in a column of the new 520 somewhere. “Now I wear it up every day even though it’s brittle (sigh).”
5. “Sometimes guys will whine that they are special and should have a key to the female portajohns for some weird reason. HELL. NO.”
6. “DO NOT date on the job site. Whatever you do, don’t marry an ironworker. Don’t ask me how I know that.”
7. “Females.” I am no longer a woman, chick, lady, or girl, but a female. Females can be trouble, but the union needs females, so that’s lucky for me. Females cannot expect special treatment on a jobsite. They have to work harder and faster. Don’t let that 26-year-old white knight lift things for you. Help females out when you can, but look out and know a lot of them will try to stick the knife in your back.
8. DON’T TALK ABOUT YOUR KIDS. OR YOUR PERSONAL LIFE. OR ANYTHING THAT IS NOT THE JOB. DO NOT REMIND ANYONE YOU ARE A FEMALE. You may give 5 minutes to how the Seahawks are doing.
9. “What is the sounds of two turtles fucking?” ?? BONK *Get bonked hard with riddler’s hard hat*
I am going downtown to work tomorrow until Xmas, thank god, shoveling consumer goods into the maw of capitalist desire. I mean, I’ll be doing marketing again. More number-crunchy and less copywritey this time. HOORAY MONEY. And waiting for that call. That call for the scrappy, oldish, last chance, eight-of-nine-lives female to go to work. C’mon, phone. Do your ring thing.
WELL. Yesterday I went to my awesome dentist of a dozen years for the old semi-annual cleaning. I expected someone new because my hygienist of many years got promoted to more of a management position at the office and is now doing advanced dental work. She filled some of my teeth a few months ago. She was THE best and dealt with years of my sad bloody-as-a-stuck-pig mouth, which has since toughened up post-proper nutrition. She promised she would hand me off to someone who was a good fit.
So I showed up yesterday and my appointment started 20 minutes late, which is unusual for this office, but shit happens and I didn’t have anywhere to be. A hygienist emerged who kind of looked like Angela Merkel, but with worse highlight work, and said, “Alexander?” I get that all the time and kind of shrugged it off. Most people apologize once I correct them, but not this lady. “Well that can be a first name, though, right?”
She seemed kind of awkward and out of it at the same time. I had this funny feeling like she was really ill at ease and her sentences would start out kind of quiet and hesitant and increase in volume and certainty by the end, like she was at a terrifying interview and giving herself little pep talks every 10 seconds.
I mentioned my allergies, because I could see some of the products out on the table that I knew had corn in them, like the tooth polish. “Oh, I didn’t see that. I’ll make a note in your chart about those,” she said. I thought this was weird because I knew my old hygienist had taken extensive notes last time I was in.
I’ll skip past the rest of the weirdness, like her way of questioning me about what corn actually does not me (not a weird question–she just phrased it oddly like everything) and then her telling me all about how she went vegan five years ago and all about vegan cheese. I had to tell her like three times that yes, I have made cashew cheese. I felt like she didn’t believe me because she started quizzing me about the ingredients, which I knew and was able to tell her. And did I know about almond and coconut milk? What.
There was some folderol with the water pik thing, which is so painful it makes me twitch involuntarily.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Well, no. I forgot how painful that thing is. It’s not been used on me for at least five years, thank god.” I didn’t want to explain to her that I thought I’d try it, since my teeth are overall less sensitive now. STILL PAINFUL.
She switched to the old school metal picks, which is great with me. My previous lady did a great job with them, even when my mouth looked like the elevator in The Shining. Now I barely bleed. I noticed she was skipping around a bit, and being fairly perfunctory with some teeth when she stopped abruptly and I heard a “ting!”
The pick had hit the ground. She bent over, retrieved it. I did not hear it being placed on the tray or put aside. Did the floor pick…go back in my mouth? It couldn’t be. I felt myself tensing up a little. She was letting the sucky tube hang on the edge of my mouth, like it was a hanger and I was that dry cleaning flippy in the backseat of a car. I started really tensing up.
Okay, this is very pathetic but I got really anxious then. She was reminding me of the dentist who did my first filling when I was six, who had me hold my own Novocaine shot still inserted in my gums when he went out of the room to get something. I was very scared about the shot anyway, but to have to hold the needle in my head and be alone in the room was a bridge too far. I felt like I was right on the verge of being a little teary.
I told myself to GET A FUCKING GRIP; it was just a terrible cleaning. Then the sucky thing fell out of my mouth and landed on the floor. I listened for a sign that she was changing the plastic, or the straw itself…nothing. It went back into my mouth. Something flipped in my head then, weirdly. I began to find the situation humorous somehow. “Just get through this,” I told myself. I think she dropped a pick twice more. When she finished my teeth weren’t clean. I was a tiny bit heartbroken my old hygienist had seen fit to pair me with this person.
I asked myself in the car why I didn’t confront her right then and jump out of the chair. That was an extremely valid question to be asking. I think I still have this habit of shutting down sometimes when shit gets weird or off script. It’s a bad “habit,” and an old one. Shit got weird a lot when I was growing up, and there was absolutely nothing I could do to change or control it, so I always got pretty poker face. My sister had the opposite reaction. When she got pushed too far she would scream! I remember thinking to myself, “I did not know that was possible.” Part of me admired it, in a way, even though ideally she wouldn’t have had to repeatedly react to trauma with earshattering screams.
It’s funny how you can step on an old rake, isn’t it?
My dentist was also new, since I had to reschedule my appointment due to Lady Hammer Club. The dentist seemed very young and was wearing red Converse and sitting on a yoga ball. I felt about 90 then. Then he told me my teeth were “cute” and there was marveling over my intact, straight wisdom teeth. WHAT. (Again.)
At the front desk on the way out I was scheduling my next appointment with the office manager, whom I have known from that office for many years.
“Sooo is Angela Merkel new?” I asked.
“Why, what happened,” I got from the manager, deadly serious.
I told her about the dropped tools and she blanched and apologized. I told her my teeth didn’t feel clean. I told her that she was generally clumsy and kind of mashing my nose and face. I skipped the part about veganism because I wouldn’t say she was proselytizing or being mean really.
“I’m not going to lie to you,” I told the office manager. “I eat food off the floor. I’m an animal. But I like to choose what comes off the floor and into my mouth.”
I was given a free reclean for next week. Then something good happened. The office manager said, “Angela Merkel is covering for your new hygienist, who is visiting her family in Europe for a month.” She was just a sub! Whew. Anyway, that is enough about my trip to Spain, my childhood pain.
Lady Hammer Club Update
The apprentice wrangler at the carpenter’s shop was upset we’re spending time in shop class building birdhouses and not cement forms. Also we are not carrying enough plywood or driving enough nails. We’re being timed on 3 at various angles and I came in under a minute and was proud of myself. HA. Apparently the test at the carpenters’ is 21 nails in two minutes. NO FUCKING WAY. I do not want to be a carpenter. My sad hand got bruised just doing a total of 21 over the course of an afternoon.
We have also been to see the glaziers’ (glass splinters, horrifying) and have had mock interviews. I showed up after being in bed for two days with my coffee glutening, thinking I was rolling into a math class. NOPE. Schedule change. I sat in front of a panel consisting of a cement mason (who I already knew), a machine operator, and a brick mason, and got highest marks. I wore my Adblock hoodie zipped up all the way since I was also wearing a shirt with a swear on it, genius. I think I brushed my hair.
Then I got dinged for my absence. ARGH. “We want to see you at 90% attendance, or we won’t be able to give you letters of recommendation.” They also don’t release any of your certifications until and if you finish the program in September. They really have me by the short and curlies here, but the good news is I think they will be able to stuff me into an apprenticeship pretty quickly as long as I do the cha cha with them. Ironworkers is on Monday–very excited.
It’s pouring today and Goethe is hiding under the eave. Stretching, not being furce. Horace is medicated due to thunder today.
Let me take a page out of Pop Culture Happy Hour and say what is making me happy this week.
I’ve been buying 17-cent feeder goldfish to keep in my wee ceramic pond, which is a thing by itself I really enjoy, and waters my bees and wasps, but draws mosquito larvae. Drop some goldfish in there, and BOOM, no more larva in about half a day. The first batch croaked, and I went back for three more. Two of those croaked, and then Todd was The Fish Who Lived. I started feeding him, and the pond was looking like murky nitrogen city, so I brought him indoors to live in a pickle crock with the world’s ugliest mug that I got contracting at Amazon six years ago (we were near Kitchen). He can go back outside when the larvae come back.
I forgot how much I like keeping a goldfish! I used to keep one for Franny when she was going through an intense Elmo thing at two.
2. Vacation week
P. took the week off last week and I wanted to hang with him, but I was sick for part of it and in class. But he had a nice time, and finished the electrical and did some insulating in the basement. When I had days off we did things, like renting a canoe.
Look, he’s even happy trapped in some bitchass lilypads.
We went downtown to the piers and ordered NOTHING BUT HAPPY HOUR OYSTERS and some neat vodka (me) with a lime and scotch for him and did not get ill. I had a feeling about going to a place with a dedicated oyster bar and I was right! We haven’t been out to eat anything since May.
During that week, Strudel had a MARVELOUS time at Celiac camp and did not get ill once! They were so good. She made a bunch of friends and I got her a photo album to put her pictures in. One of the first things she said when we picked her up was, “CAN I GO AGAIN?” Hell yes. Next year we might even go out of town during, but stay close enough in case she breaks a leg or something.
How’s your summer??
Strudel fell into a hole on my street last week and sprained her ankle. Fortunately it was a very light sprain. I sprained my ankle a couple of years ago and Strudel theorizes it was the same hole. I don’t believe it–my street (and most Seattle streets) has lots of holes! Lucky for her, it was a very light sprain. It poofed up very dramatically on the first day, turned an alarming shade of yellow quickly, and then she was walking on it with no pain by day three. Lucky kid. A couple of years ago I don’t think she’d have healed up quite so quickly.
I don’t feel any of my old aches and pains anymore, which frees me up to make new ones. I am just at the beginning of the 100 Push Ups challenge. It used to hurt to do push ups, but I did them anyway, sometimes. My back, my elbows, my shoulders. Now I only stop when my muscles do. Franny and I watched American Psycho late last night and it was okay. I thought she would like it because she enjoys horror and “mindfuck” movies. What I really enjoyed was Patrick Bateman and his “I can do 1000 sit ups now.” I used to think bodies like his were genetic outliers or Hollywood magic. Now, I think I can get about as fit as time and my motivation will allow.
I used to have a very vivid “life of the mind” to the extent I was able, and even that was fading at the end, as my thought processes became increasingly clouded. I think I’m still mourning my old, more destructive, and just plain different former self. Anyone who has been reading me or knows me knows that I am a doer, and if I see a door I want to do through it. I see a lot of different doors now, and I am not hobbled by confusion or anxiety most of the time anymore. Discovering that I can do math this year (not fantastically, but well enough) and that my body will actually get fitter and do what I want–it’s pretty empowering.
I am left with so many questions. I believe people can change, or at least change their own lives. But now I wonder, who am I? Who was I for 30+ years? Was that really me? Am I a fake me now? How much do I sound like a stoned 15-year-old in someone’s basement, listening to Black Sabbath. (A: A lot.)
There’s a lot of before and after in life. I can think of before children, and after. Before divorce, and after. Hell, even before and after dogs was another big one. I am trying to accept this as another before and after, but it is taking time.
So. Up betimes and alone. P. is out of town (Portland). I wish I could have enjoyed the bed a bit more, but the dogs just smash up against me regardless, so by the time I wake up, I am on my customary 1/4 of the bed.
I watered the yard this morning and everything was looking very pretty.
We used to live a block from the rose garden, and when they switched over to not spraying, we watched our favorite roses very carefully to see which ones would continue to thrive without pesticides. Hot cocoa (above) seems to be one of the winners in our yard, as it was in the rose garden. “Silver” roses are my favorite but I am told they are very tricky here. I tried to plant ones that are made for the PNW.
Everything in the yard is absolutely going gangbusters this year. A hot summer is predicted. I am happy either way, as long as it’s dry. In 2009 my router melted. In 2006 I remember it was a glorious year for tomatoes. These things seem to cycle every few years.
I’m really enjoying doing this lately:
I’m not sure I’ll go back to fillets now. I was always daunted by the cost of a whole fish, and the…wholeness. Now I just walk in and ask them to scale and fin it, take it home, and stuff it with aromatics. This salmon was $40.00 (4 lbs.). We get about 4 dinners out of a fish like this. So it ends up being about $2.50 per serving. That’ll work. I figure if I can make giant roasts and always work with whole birds, then this is doable too. The fennel is from my garden! Since I’m not working right now, I am challenging myself to use every bit of everything. I mentioned I made gravlax recently and I dehydrated the skins and saved them for the dogs as treats. No wonder they like to sleep smashed up next to me.
The bees in the purple hive were also up beetimes. They are lean, mean buzzy machines over there now. It’s impressive. Franny helped me work the bees yesterday and it was really fun. She did great. She did say she was worried about getting stung, of course, but neither of us did. The comb hole that P. and I left last week was almost completely closed up. I’m not worried about them right now because I see a great variety of babies, pollen, and nectar, including some capped honey. You can hear the chickens singing along in the background.
I trimmed the roses out front around tax day, as some people say you should. It’s the first time I’ve touched them since I moved in. There was a lot of cross-caning and dead wood. This year they are looking great and are very pretty next to the raspberries. Year three here is when everything is taking off, plant and manimal.
WHEW. This is going to be picture-heavy. I will try to go easy on the commentary for this one because I know you gots other things to do with your day.
I’ve been dragging my feets on posting in part because the weather is SO DAMN NICE now, following the trend of this winter. Also because my laptop is a problem child and makes using the internet painful. (Hence me blogging at work *cough*.) I finally pinned it to the wifi adaptor. It randomly drops the wifi signal. I tried updating it, but the manufacturer doesn’t even have a page, and the random site that was hosting updates seems to be corrupted…anyway this thing works great if I am right next to the router. BRB the kitchen is my new home.
ALSO we had a little “staycation” for the first week of May, which was nothing too dramatic. Our only plan was to go see art at the Frye and we walked in and nothing was on display! We wandered around Capitol Hill instead. I like to joke that we are vampires now because we used to go out to eat but now we go into a restaurant and order whatever drink won’t make me ill (water/gin) and then watch the humans stuffing their gobs with any damn thing. SO INNOCENT. I USED TO BE YOU.
In other, less whiny news
I’ve been monkeying around with bread lately. I like these little “Paleo” biscuits, but not all the time. There is something about them that is very squishy white-bready, which is not really something I’ve enjoyed much for the past few years. They make pretty good biscuit subs, as in “biscuits-n-gravy.”
Ninety seconds of nuking later…
They creep up the side of the mugs. As far as “starchy” things go, it could be a lot worse. We’re still on the mostly veggies plan.
HOWEVER. I do like injera at home now. I let the batter sit for two days and get really sour. They are trickier to cook than pancakes or socca, but I am getting the hang of it.
Speaking of gluten free, Mother’s Day was nice. We got the yard pretty much spiffed up in time. Lights hung, more flowers planted…
P. spent a couple of weeks fretting about my request for petit fours. He found a cake recipe that was acceptable to everyone and spent some time testing things. It’s REALLY good. Many of my MD pics turned out blurry, so, ugh. Sorry about that.
In the end, there was CAKE!
He made enough for an army and and I basically had four pieces over two days. I sent some home with my sister, who was happy about that I think.
Evidence of happiness
“I’m a pupa” GET OUT OF MY HAMMOCK WITH THAT
“You eat borscht and get strong like ox, pull cart to village.”
In other, other news
Franny and I are both having nightmares about our respective problem parents right now. I feel bad for her because I basically married my mother, so this is 100% my fault. “Here, kid, have the same parenting experience I did.” GOLD STAR FOR ME.
In my dream I was having extreme angst over the direction in which I am trying to take my life, and my mother was there. “Why can’t you just help me?” I pleaded with her. “Help me break into your field.” I don’t want to be in her field, but in my dream I think I was looking for a quick fix.
“I can’t do that. I’ve never done that,” she replied, scoffing. I teared up had a moment of being deeply ashamed of asking for help from her when I knew what the outcome would be, and felt rejected like I used to when I would ask for things as a child. I felt myself steel-up like I used to when I had to rely on just myself.
“I can do this,” I thought in the dream. God, that’s a heavy one, isn’t it!
I’ve had some serious and not-so-serious talks with my sister lately about the past. I don’t think I could really accept until pretty recently that she was kind of in the same boat I was in–which is to say looking for a mother outside of our biological mother. When I was much younger it was super complicated. I almost felt jealous of her, since our mother was present from the time of her birth without any major gaps unlike my upbringing. However, I also felt really guilty for moving away and “abandoning” my sister when I became an adult. I’m grateful that my mother (inevitably) hosed up her third marriage and moved to my city with my sister. That was when I was able to take care of some needs that I didn’t really understand that my sister had. Regardless of the different phases of our mother that we got, the outcome was about the same. I inadvertently (and often very poorly) filled in a lot of the parenting and it was still a much more satisfying situation for my sister. Loooongtime readers may recall my sister was at my house when she was in high school A LOT. She practically lived with me at one point. I have apologized to my sister for so many times for some of the dumb things I did, but have made peace with the fact that I was in my early twenties and did not really understand how much she was relying on me! I don’t think any of us knew what was happening.
Can we say HERO/CARETAKER ROLE? Gee, I wonder why I have 284 animals. HA HA. Quick, someone pour me a glass of something before I become completely sapient.
This is dark, but sometimes I think it would have been better for everyone in the past if my mother had aborted me, like she told me she wanted to. It was always clear to me that I was unwanted and a burden as a child. But I’m glad in my adulthood that people have me, like my sister, since I know what it feels like to lose the people you bond with as your parents. I’m glad my girls have me. And childhood is relatively short, and then you go on and make your own life. I’m the buffer (ordering business cards with that title now). We may not be walking down the correct path, always, but it will be a new one, by god. Mother’s Day made me have some deep thoughts, I guess.
The medlar has decided to make exactly one bloom on the top of itself, like the tree that thought it was a primrose, I suppose.
Finally framed it! This is my next one, this coming fall.
“What’s the difference between venerating women for being fuckable and putting them on a purity pedestal? In both cases, women’s worth is contingent upon their ability to please men and to shape their sexual identities around what men want.”
Franny called me early on Saturday and left a message. She’d been at her dad’s house less than 24 hours, which is always a…sign. Could be okay, could be not so good. I listened to it.
“Mom, something annoying and lame happened. Can you call me back?”
I finally got ahold of her on Saturday night. She went outside her grandfather’s house, where she was having an overnight visit, to talk on the phone without being listened to.
“Guess what happened when I got into my dad’s car yesterday? He immediately asked me about my boyfriend!”
“Uh oh,” I said. Her boyfriend was something she was super not ready to share with her father or his family, and so she had decided not to.
“Yes, and he said he found out because of YOUR BLOG.”
“Oh, shitballs,” I said. I understand all too well that what I write is public, but I didn’t think he had any interest. It got worse.
“THEN he decided to have a sex talk with me, and it was so awkward I wanted to die! He said, ‘When I was your age I started having sex and all high school boys are trying to do is get into your pants.’ I was like ‘UGH TMI DAD’ but I was just like, ‘Ok.”
“…That’s pretty terrible. You know he said that because that was his perspective, right? We know not all boys are like that.”
She and I talked about it more later, after I’d related the cringe-inducing story to P. He and I talked about how crappers it was to take this tack–the idea that Franny doesn’t really have any agency herself, doesn’t have any sexuality herself, and sex is something that will be winkled from her because blah blah girls have to protect their own virtuecakes whatever. Also this issue of promulgating the notion that all boys are predatory. UGH. He’s probably just freaked out because his high school girlfriend had an abortion (an acceptable solution, but one that he felt was Morally Wrong).
I had a hinky feeling about this whole thing and I left my ringer on for the rest of the weekend. There she was again, Sunday night around eight.
“Mom, I don’t know what to do. Dad’s been barfing all day and he’s just disappeared into bed and I don’t know how I’m going to get to school tomorrow and I HAVE TO BE THERE.”
“Okay, take a breath, let’s figure this out,” I said. We arranged it so we could go down to the ferry docks and pick her up (normally her dad would take her to school on Monday and she would come home from there).
Her stepmother took her down to the docks on their side and dropped her off. Franny said on the way down her stepmother heaped praise on SeaFed for having a sex talk with her, and wasn’t he a cool dad? And not every dad could talk to their daughters about sex.
“The message is possibly more important than the act of talking itself,” I ventured.
“Oh, Mom, there’s more, he also told me that you should get me on birth control.”
“Okay, I’ll get right on that.”
She told me what happened with her dad over the past couple of days, about how there was a birthday pizza party for one of the children and how he was drinking throughout the day. I get it, he had a couple of days off and was kicking it with his dad. It’s often kind of fun party times with SeaFed’s dad, but not in a creepy “WOO LET’S DO SHOTS” way. Just fun.
“So your dad had beer and pizza all weekend?”
“Yes, he was drinking a lot. When we were on our way back from Grandpa’s and waiting for the ferry he threw up off the dock.” She told me this nightmarish tale of how the usual island hop takes about an hour and a half, but it took four hours yesterday, because her stepmother kept stopping at stores and everyone had to pee and there was a child screaming because they ran out of movies to show in the minivan and then a child screamed for french fries and so THEY PULLED OVER AND GOT THEM.
“Hold up,” I said. “A child screamed for french fries and then was taken through the drive through and given french fries?” I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve been hearing these stories for years now.
“Further delaying the trip home even?”
“I would walk into the ocean with my mouth open until I drowned,” I said.
“…OOOOOOR you can just say, ‘No’ to that sort of thing as a parent,” said P., sensibly, as always.
A person could look up the word “hyperbole” in the dictionary and there would be a picture of P. with a strike through it and the caption would say “NOT P.” SIGH.
On top of all this drama, here’s SeaFed thinking he has food poisoning. He’s had problems since he was a small child, or so he told me several times when we were married. Daily stomachaches and frequent headaches. Franny said in recent years he’s been complaining of vertigo. We were discussing his condition in the midst of all of this.
“He has these body and joint aches and feels terrible and I say ‘DAD, you should get off the wheat!’ He says he’s in good health!”
“Yeah, his mother had a ‘bad stomach” too,” I said.
It just made me think…there is a weird style of “AHA!” parenting I have observed (and was practiced on me at times) involving “busting” and humiliating your teenager. It really, really seems to make them not want to talk to you and more likely to keep secrets next time.
I guess this is how SeaFed was treated in some cases, though. I think of his stories about his phase of breaking into cars and stealing stereos, hood ornaments, etc. His sister found his stolen goods and instead of speaking to him about it, pulled all of the items out from under the bed and displayed them on his bed, hoping their parents would find them and draw the obvious conclusion. (Not saying that Franny is doing anything bad here–her boyfriend is delightful, really.)
So it came out that his mother-in-law has been reading my blog [HELLO THERE] and was the one who blabbed all this to Franny’s stepmother and father. After how the weekend went, I can’t imagine why Franny was so reticent to share this news.
On the way to the ferry Sunday night, she said that her stepmother was kind of nice. Points deducted from Hufflepuff for praising SeaFed for that “sex talk” but then she was kind of apologetic about her embarrassment and conceded: “Well, Gabba’s nosy sometimes.”
I told Franny I could stop blogging about her, and assured her I am keeping it positive and/or neutral now that her peers are online. (There’s really nothing “bad” to write, though. She is really not a troubled kid.) I apologized profusely for the embarrassment I had caused her at the hands of her father.
She said it is okay if I keep writing about her, but I realized there’s lots of other things I could write about. I could write about how many times Franny has stumbled upon her stepmother’s “secret” cigarette stash. I could write about how Franny has stumbled upon her father’s and stepmother’s weed stash several times in the course of looking for ordinary household items. I could write about what Franny found in her father’s drawer this weekend when he asked her to fetch a handkerchief (“…And I knew IMMEDIATELY it was his dick piercing.” “Yes, honey, this is why your father sits to pee.”). I could write about the strife and tension caused in the household by having a mother-in-law who barges in, hoovers down all the milk, and then splits. I could write about how much SeaFed hates his mother-in-law’s dogs and how Franny has to hear all about that.
And no, I don’t have the good sense god gave a goose and I am a terrible person. Have a nice day.
Dorty goes outside; attempts to come back in; discovers: CATBLOCK!
For a while I thought this was general cat obtuseness, but it happens far, far too often for it to be a coincidence. The view out the catflap isn’t even that good. It’s partly obscured from the leavings of slobbery faces and the view is pretty much Porch and Bush. We have many many other windows that show other views like Road or Birdbath. Hell, Nightmere can GO OUTSIDE and view everything up close and personal-like. This is deliberate griefing.
Thing two is this problem:
I have discovered I have opened the LAST jar of strawberry jam, and it is from 2012. That’s fine, it’s still good and all, but there are no REAL flavors left after this. P. kept not making jam because we “had so much left from previous years.” LOOK AT WHAT IS LEFT. And there are MULTIPLE JARS of this nonsense–this is just a sampling. This is like saying, we don’t need guest pillows, there’s loads of cow plops around. WHAT.
Review of remaining jams.
Currant: Delicious but weirdly gelatinous, due to high quantity of naturally occurring pectin in currants. Best melted with wine as a glaze for meat, or diluted with vinegar and used as a mint sauce for lamb. I will commit to this, but it does not solve my peanut butter problems.
Rhubarb: Rhubarb is a devil invention and only fit for doomed livestock that has broken out of its paddock. The only allowable thing that starts inedible and gets WOW with a fuckity load of sugar is cranberries. Related point: where are thou cranjam?
Blk sauce: No, this is not dark matter squeezins, it is blackberry sauce. Delicious, but not blackberry jam or jelly, which we were out of before frost kissed the lawn. As a show of goodwill I vow to use this once we run out of our open container of maple syrup for anything I would put maple syrup on (pancakes, porridge, second-degree burns).
Kiwii: An attempt at fooling me into thinking this is some kind of Hawaiian or Japanese concoction. We all know this is KIWI. A thing that should not be jammed, but only occurring as wheels in fruit salad or eaten out of hand. It should be noted that the creator of this abomination also eats kiwis whole without peeling them. Nice try at fitting in on Earth, Ford Prefect.
Plum: Plum jam tastes okay, and you cannot swing an ikat infinity scarf around here without hitting an Italian plum tree that is usually overladen with fruits and an owner saying, “Dear god, please take some.” One year we got something like fifteen pounds of plums from Plum Tree Park alone. So kudos for thrift and creating what I think of as a Seattle classic, but there is something about these plums…they form a grey scum at the top which makes it difficult to get through the first half of the jar. It’s really daunting for the children, especially. No one wants to open this five years old jam.
Quince: I LOVE quinces in desserts, but this is a similar problem to currants. It is not so great with peanut butter, imo. I used to eat it with cheese, but now cheese is out and so is quince! I will make a note to glaze a turkey breast with it or something.
In conclusion, we are out of jam. Yours in ingratitude, SJ
Psych though, because I am really into sleeping eight hours. I am all OCK OCK teenage problems and then I am all…sleeping eight hours. I dunno. The answer is probably: cigars on ice. Okay, I know I am supposed to be quoting D’Angelo now, but I am still not over Bey.
Chalkboard Christmas Steve welcomes you the fuck into Xmas.
Okay what happened this year? Nothing, which I think is very exciting. We did Capitalism on Christmas Steve, since Franny was set to leave on xmas eve.
I wanted to give her a little time to enjoy her big present. Naturally, she took the guitar away with her to her dad’s house. I threatened her gently and said YOU MUST BRING IT BACK. I can just see her father’s children sitting on it or something. So can she, actually. She triple assured me she would bring it back. As a side bar, it’s interesting to me that she’s trying to talk her dad into getting off the wheat. He’s having all kinds of problems that are just like hers were (and mine). He’s not biting. He was always a super big fan of not believing anything because BLEAH. Why believe anything anyone tells you? Fuck that noise.
So. Strudel was ready for her first earrings and Franny really wanted her nose pierced, so as part of their xmas presents I took them back to the place where I took Franny when she was eight and wanted her ears pierced. I don’t think I got a good picture of her–just a crap one on my phone. She said she wanted it on her right nostril, like her Auntie Morgan.
They did really well. Strudel wanted to hold my hand but of course Franny did not.
“A present!” Franny said. That is not a present, that is a Dr. Hoho.
I asked Strudel something later that day and she said “WHAT MOM I’M LISTENING TO DRAKE.” Please don’t make me regret my earphones decision. It did get her to clean with us very pleasantly today. “WOW I LISTENED TO MUSIC THE WHOLE TIME.” Okay, please turn it down before you start talking…
Stocking happiness. I had to go the the Special Store (read: expensive) and get corn, dairy, and gluten-free candy for stockings. If you are very bored I defy you to read labels in a store and try to find something processed that does not contain any of those things. I sent Franny away with mad vitamins and a command to actually take them. Our lives are vitamins right now. It’s working.
Look who has a mild case of the ocds.
She’s always like this. I make her insane because I am chaotic neutral and leave stuff lying around differently depending on how profitable it is.
Edith spent the whole time doing this every time I took the camera out.
“FOOD IS THERE FOOD???” No.
Okay, so there’s no graceful way to slip this in here. Strudel spends A LOT of time holding Dorty upside down. I always like it, because Edith likes the attention and it doesn’t seem to be interfering with anything. But at the same time, I feel like she’s an old thymey model being mesmerized by Strudel.
FURTHERMORE MY LOANS ARE PAID OFF. Ten years later. I reckon that’s about right. And now, I am ready for new debt.
So tonight I decided to make Thai food: phad see ew, tom yum, spring rolls, and a red curry with duck. I got it all from my guru at High Heel Gourmet. As a bonus I made a hot sauce with bird’s eye peppers and peanut sauce. WOO GLUTEN FREE.
Also I had a captive audience to test salad dressings on. I pulled five samples out and a bunch of veggies as appetizers. Lucky for me, my guests were hungry and like to give opinions. I’m plinking away at developing a first salad dressing that tastes awesome and is relatively hypoallergenic. Lucky me I am a closely related to two supertasters.
I also made real appetizers: spring rolls.
It’s like an ad for Natural Calm, really.
The recipe called for cooking the mung bean sprouts a little, which was cool, because it made them kind of like noodles.
This is the bouquet garni for the tom yum. Galangal, kafir leaves, and lemongrass.
When I was desperately making Thai food at my house in college almost twenty years ago, I thought that I could sub limes for kafir limes, because HEY they are both limes right? The smell that filled my house today….holy shit. Intoxicating. So that was Christmas.
A forgotten cheepie thrift store coat has been found in a closet:
Lots of phad see ew lately. “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED??”
I finished working Monday thank FUCK. I would like to have another job lined up, of course, but I am loose and flapping for now. I will be tinkering with recipes and probably writing, because that’s how I roll.
I keep thinking to myself that I feel like a baby, new. Not only is that one of the most hackneyed cliches in existence, but I also think that by all accounts I had a pretty horrible time as one, so I think I probably don’t feel like a baby. At least not a me-baby.
I’ve been told that when I wasn’t screaming, I was vomiting, or running a high fever, or all three, and I was covered in a rash. I was always sick and had terrible fevers, and I truly don’t know how many times I “had to be put in an oxygen tent” but I understood it was a big deal when I would overhear my grandmother telling people about it. I see pictures of myself from around the time my mother got her act together and showed up again and it was probably the worst. I looked like a six-year-old tiny Lydia Deetz, pallid with dark circles under my eyes.
I told myself I was going to take a break from whinging about my health for a while, and I’ve made somewhat good on that, but things are getting…a little weird. I’ve had tinnitus and vertigo since high school (twenty years) and it’s suddenly evaporated. I was holding my breath waiting for it to come back, but it’s been a couple of weeks now. Normally cessation for me is a couple of hours. Sometimes people would be talking and my hearing would just cut out and be replaced by the sounds you hear in a hearing test. I’d just watch their lips move and nod. Or guess.
“Yes, I would like it in the butt,” I would reply, my whole head going BEEEEEEEEEEEP HUUUUUM RIIIING.
“Wait. You feel like you’re in a rut? Sorry, keep going.”
Now I am an explorer on an exploration mission that is always christened, “What is making that noise, I don’t think it’s coming from inside my head.” [Spoiler: it is the refrigerator.]
Sometimes I like to play “DID YOU KNOW?”
Me: DID YOU KNOW the porch light makes a really loud buzzing noise?
Me: DID YOU KNOW the dining room chandelier makes a humming noise?
Me: DID YOU KNOW the toilet in the guest–
No one else likes this game. Sometimes it makes me cry a little, like in the case of the porch light, but not really in a bad way and I get over it quickly.
And now there’s the wiggling and stretching. I will be stuck in a waiting room and if I’m left for too long I start moving. I tell myself I want to stretch, and I do, but then it becomes a test. What if I do this? Does that still not hurt? What about my neck? Okay, neck’s okay. Shoulder joints are always bad, soo…nope, they’re like butter. By the time I am called I am practically rolling around on the floor, looking like a cat stoned out of its mind on the nip. “Ha ha, I was just testing the back of my knee (IS THE NURSE BUYING THIS??).”
I test myself in bed, too. I had that nasty nine month patch where my shoulder was just a little out of joint, causing constant pain. I didn’t realize until it was over that I was kind of rocking Bob Dole arm since it hurt so bad to move it. I had to get used to moving my arm again. So, just having this fixed, I felt much freer, but sleep was a strategic exercise in trying to minimize pain and praying that I would stay asleep for more then four hours at a time. I used to have very specific positions I could sleep in (sometimes) and if I was lucky I would not wake up with both of my hands dead. Now I sleep ON my hands sometimes, for kicks.
“I am sleeping on you, hand,” I say. “Just try something.”
“While this is probably not the best for our circulation, I am aware that you are sleeping on me because I am not wracked with nerve pain/burning from being dead asleep.”
“Okay see you tomorrow, when I will use you to hold up a book or do a project for more than three minutes without a break.”
I looked out the window on Sunday and realized I could read the street sign across the street. I can write words sequentially and without a million typos. I can write like it’s NBD, it’s just flowing out of me like diarrhea. Which is ironic, because what is NOT flowing out of me is diarrhea. HA. Sorry…I am not sorry.
I’m not wracked with anxiety or unexplained black moods. On nights that I slept deeply enough to dream, I would dream about break-ins, being held hostage, being tortured. I would snap awake at the slightest sound coming from outside. Slowly I am retraining myself that I don’t need to take more than normal precautions, that this house and neighborhood are normal and safe. I knew the fears I’ve had since moving into this house were irrational, but now I really believe it.
There’s actually more little things that have improved, like my nails don’t peel down to the beds anymore. No more pica. A year ago I was with a friend, putting my hair into a ponytail, when a clump of it just came out in my hand. A significant one, like a piece of fettuccine, like my weave was coming out. I was kind of embarrassed, but he was extremely unsettled. “I haven’t seen that since my wife had cancer,” he said.
“I’m fine. That was weird,” I said. I knew I couldn’t stop it so I just accepted it.
I had decent patches as a kid when I wasn’t anxious for no reason, and even as an adult where I would muscle myself into getting things done. But I always felt like something was missing, like normal was just out of sight somehow. This was just a crazy notion from hunchport but I didn’t think there was actually anything off with my brain. I tried anti-anxiety and depression meds when I was younger and nothing seemed to really help. I thought about my family history of thyroid issues, and strokes, and how they took one of my grandmother’s inner ears to “fix” her vertigo, and I thought I was just walking that path.
I think the weird exclamation point on all this that made me want to write about it again happened last night. I was in the kitchen and, naturally, the subject of head injuries and how much they bleed came up. I mentioned what was probably by biggest head injury, which was when one of those 300 pound dart machines you find in bars fell on my head and made a split in the skin. It didn’t bleed as expected, I think maybe because the machine was so heavy it sort of split the skin and then compressed the open vessels against my skull somehow? I was only about 25% Carrie on prom night until they started sewing me up in the ER and then it went full Carrie, blood running down my face.
“I was your age,” I told Strudel.
“WHOA!” she said.
“Your mom has a huge scar on her head, you should feel it,” P. said.
This scar has been with me since childhood, huge and raised. My stylist comments on it every couple of years or so, since it’s so obvious once my hair’s parted. She always asks if it’s recent. Occasionally it starts hurting again, especially in the presence of orcs. He prodded my head to show the kid, since I was up to my wrists in lemon juice.
“I can’t find it,” P. said.
“Hang on,” I said, rinsing. Then I couldn’t find it. It was flat. I immediately checked one of my other ancient scars, the infamous hole in the roof of my mouth. Still holey but no longer painful! I keep prodding it with my tongue, like my rolling around in waiting rooms. Does it still not hurt? HOW ABOUT NOW? Sometimes I like to sneak up on it when it’s not paying attention.
JAB JAB JAB
“Do you, like, need something, man,” my hole says. It’s the Dude now.
Now I have a new hole: a lack of all this shit I’ve been wrestling with for my whole life. What do I do with myself now? I feel like I’ve been playing on the hard setting for 36 years and someone just unlocked God mode. I don’t feel manic, though, just calm. Steady. Productive. Trying to figure out who the fuck I am and what I want. Everyday life is now super easy and not torture or battling back one symptom or another, but I am confused about the big picture. My goals actually seem attainable now, like doing a lot of writing and having my own business someday.
P. and I talked about it the other night and he was very, very honest with me and it made me happy but it almost made my heart break a little.
“Now that you’re feeling so much better, there’s a part of me that’s afraid you’ll decide you don’t need any of us and blow out of here,” he said.
I don’t think so. It’s no fun to cook for myself.
TL;DR: I have had celiac-induced malnutrition my whole life, it’s had an impact on things. Currently I cannot eat wheat, dairy, or corn, and my intestines are mostly a waterslide so this shit 100% does not apply to me. I am going to keep an eye on myself, keep taking vitamins and keep getting my thyroid tested.