Monday, December 27, 2010

Can't wait 'til I'm 78

Ooooh.  Woweee!  It's the 1980's around here now.  I'm cruising through the 20th century.  Vroom.  Vroom.  I got a microwave for Christmas from my mother!  I've used it 20 times in two days. I've done two hours less of dishes per day.  And instead of having my usual lunch of two fried eggs on polenta (the quickest gluten-free thing I can do around here) I've actually microwaved soup.  My anti-microwave stance started to wane in the Wenatchee McApartment which came with one.  I realized that it didn't necessarily have to reduce the quality of food we ate.  And I duly noted that the longitudinal mass-experiment has 30 years of no documented cancer connection.  So... throwing caution finally to the wind, I put it on my Christmas list! And bingo.  Mama Santa delivered!

With a little help, Huck got me the world's BEST tea pot: a cherry red ipot  It looks like it was designed by someone who actually drinks (if not grows and harvests) loose leaf tea instead of coffee.  It's got everything a girl could want and cute to boot!

The Candy Cane girls choir
Coyote was confused by his coal candy on Christmas morning.  Never mind that it was candy and it was on top of some pretty cool gadgets.  In his most disappointed tone he said, "But I was so good yesterday.  I wonder what he was thinking."  And also from the Kids and the Darndest Things file... today in the grocery line Coyote was looking at the tabloids and asked, "Why do you suppose they put all these women in bikinis on the magazines?" And before I could explain anything about their constant need to be critiquing bodies as good and bad and how dangerous that is for all of us, he answered his own questions, "Oh.  I get it.  It's to inspire the boys."  We might have another gifted one here, folks.

hiding in the bathroom cupboard
marshmallows or liver?  Rachel needs to know
I was wondering what the next Chinese New Year might hold for me, and loving all things divinational and having found the predictions of the last two years fairly accurate, I looked it up.  I am supposedly a rabbit.  A wooden rabbit.  So these last few years have really chewed me up and spit me out.  But in January, we return to the year of the rabbit.  And perhaps you'd think that was lucky for me.  What I found was a life time luck-o-meter.  Apparently, they said, I was born in very bad luck.  The lowest possible.  And the last decade has had medium bad luck for me.  And it just goes down from there.  Down.  Down.  Down.  I thought it had been looking up for us as a family, if not for me personally.  And I felt that we were due some upping-ness, not that life works that way, I just wish it did.  But my damn chart just sinks me all the way down to the bottom, perhaps lower.  I don't know.  The graph mechanism wouldn't let me see that far down.   Until I'm 78, at which point my luck-o-meter goes WAY UP.  Seems like if I'm having that bad of luck for the next 43 years, I probably won't be making it to 78.  But the way I'm feeling today, the sooner this human experience is over, the I guess all my bad luck might just mean living to 78.  I was trying to spin it like this: for the next 43 years I won't Need Luck because I'll be creating it myself.  But by the time I'm 78, I'll start needing all the luck I can stand.  Too bad I probably won't make it to 101, because then my good luck goes off the charts.

But really, what the hell kind of astrology is that?  A life time of hopelessness in one foul chart?
Coyote shows anti Rachel the video game he's writing

I prefer Rob Brezny's work. For instance, a few weeks ago, he said that a gallon of cow's milk requires over 300 squeezes.  This, people, is inspiring.  Because you'll remember that I was struggling with housework.  And instead of conquering the kitchen all at once, I realized that perhaps it could get done 15 minutes at a time.  And I did.  It took four days, but bit by bit I got it done.  And then I turned my attentions to the rest of the house and inch by inch it got all perky again.
Christmas morning fat lip from jumping over boxes

Simultaneously, in the segment of homeschooling I'm calling Psyche-Ed, we had begun reading a kid oriented book about perfectionism.  Blue's work book contains a list of only five attributes of perfectionists, while mine is loaded with about 25.  Mom, she says, I think this book is more for you than me.  Indeed.  And this is what, it turns out, is wrong with my housecleaning and yoga and yadda yadda yadda.  I won't do it unless I can do it perfectly.  My first husband used to come home sometimes and sigh and say, "Oh god.  Did you try to clean the house today?"  And there I would sit, crying on top of a pile of everything we own.  I would put a book away then realize the book shelf was dirty and all the books dusty, so I'd take it all apart to clean it, only to find an earring and then go put that away only to find a messy pile of jewelry .... etc... ad nauseum.  I've improved a lot over the years.  But it's been work.  When I was 30 I realized that perfectionism had prevented me from trying new things.  So that year I learned to down hill ski, surf, and took up jogging (I've since bailed on all of them due to the following reasons: expensive, lack of waves and ocean, and mind-numbingly boring, respectively.)  But this was the first time things coalesced to reveal my thinking about housework and yoga and the more mundane practices of regular maintenance.

Oma and Coyote at Duck Land
I think my relationship to cleaning sounds like the way some people describe yo-yo dieting.  This one method, you think you've got it.  It's really going to stick this time.  And then it doesn't and you feel like a failure and all crappy.  And then another method catches your eye and you think this one. This One.  It's really going to work this time.  And then more failure.... and on and on and on.

And so my latest method which I anticipate failing is the fly lady, a hoot and a half.  I love her radio posts, especially when she starts crying and gets all blubbery.  It's so endearing and yet nutty.  I am working through her baby-steps system.  And I am realizing that I wasn't that far behind.  My house wasn't THAT bad.  My expectations were just THAT high, however.  And this method... this one is really going to stick.  I just know it.  I just KNOW IT!  Damn that Chinese astrology.  I'm not Chinese anyway.  This method is going to work until I'm 78, and then some.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ho Ho Ho

I witnessed the worst movie ever made last night.  It was so painful, I started asking around for oxycontin.  It was even worse than Soccer Dog.  Seriously.  Huck wouldn't believe me.  But it's true.

Coyote's school hosted movie night.  Kids in PJ's.  Big screen.  Popcorn and icecream 25cents each.  Sleeping bags.  And Huck took Blue to choir practice as they are both singing in the pageant.  And that left me.  I am frightened by large groups of children, especially excited ones.  But my lil' Coyote was excited and what could I do?  The movie was The Search for Santa Paws and is not really worth a full review.  But it did include Santa, magic crystals, swirling magic sparkles, a talking stuffed dog who comes to life, dies and gets resurrected (no, it's not a cartoon), an orphanage out-fitted by Pottery Barn, orphans by Mini Boden, a plunger microphone, and a workshop full of Down Syndrome midgets and short Asian women.  I treated my self to ice cream.  Rolled off my chair (it's was just a cushion on the floor so no one was hurt) laughing when Santa's tear brings his dog to life and Mrs. Claus hammers us over the head with: "You see, Santa, your love brought life back to Paws," because Santa is stoooopid and couldn't interpret that himself.  And I was horrified to see myself crying when Santa was on his crystal induced death bed.  I NEVER cry at movies, not even terribly made, badly acted, horrifically written wastes of resources.  The only movie before this that made me cry since Anne of Green Grables when Matthew dies,was La Vie en Rose, during which I bawled from opening to credit roll and not because it was bad but because it was sad.  I pray to god my tears had something to do with PMS or the moon or all this darkness or some subliminal over-reach of Hollywood music or the whole hopeless mess of a movie.  Because it really didn't have anything to do with me.

I see this movie as a kid version of Rocky Horror Picture Show some day.  The kids will toss glitter at all the right moments, throw soft icecream at the cave crystal, Hoho's at Santa, and sing with the orphans into their own plungers from home.  It has real possibilities for kid campiness.  But I can't bring myself to say anything to Coyote who thought it was a pretty good movie.

So, in case you hadn't heard, Coyote and Blue were really naughty AND Huck was off cleaning up an oil spill this week and I got all exasperated and wit's-endy and grasping-at-strawsy and bluffed, "I see Santa's just going to fly right over this house without stopping this Christmas!! Bah Humbug AND Harumph!"
Coyote says, "No.  Santa doesn't care how we behave."
WHAT?!?!?!  WHAT??!?!?!
Coyote:  "I was pretty bad last year and he still filled my stocking full."
And thus a major conundrum was created.  The entitlement chafes.  The not-even-trying-to-be-good chaps.  But could I really drop a lump of coal in a six year olds stocking?  Won't this Christmas then feature prominently in the therapy sessions?  Won't I?  But under what circumstances wouldn't I feature prominently in therapy?  I'm the mother.  No matter what I do, I'll always be a topic of psychological plunging.
And has he really been that bad?  Worse than his sister?  Other than first grade detention last month (well earned and a topic for a post of it's own), wantonly peeing his pants, hiding when it's time to catch the bus, waking up at midnight to play with his toys, and begging incessantly for video games and candy, what's so bad?  Other than the fact that he seems headed to either be a spy, a ninja or a drug dealer, he's a good kid.  And he upgraded his opinion to Santa only caring for the three days before Christmas.

But Blue's all on board with the coal.  I took her along Christmas shopping, because she's home all day and I had to.  And she kept trying to cheapen Coyote's gift.  "That's too expensive."  "You can't get him two things."  "He doesn't deserve two things."  "You can't get him that, I want that."  "Well, if I get it for him, then I'm not giving him the thing I'm making, because he just can't get two gifts."  "No, I think you've gotten him enough stuff for his stocking."  "If you buy him that, you have to get one for me too."  Okay.  Fine.  I'll just head out late some night next week WITHOUT his sister.  And then maybe they'll both get coal.  Hahahahaha.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I think I just really hurt my cows' feelings.  I didn't mean to, obviously.

I was cross country skiing around our unfenced property, having misread the clock and thinking I didn't have time to go to the field at the end of our road to retrace my route from yesterday.  So I was doing the loop around our house which involves a short stint in the neighbor's five acres (which are for sale and which I desperately want to buy and am hoping the economy stays down until our income is up enough to nab it) and I got bored and I looked across our flat field of virgin snow, eyed the cows lounging in the barn, and I went for it.

My skis are new to the last century and me, this year.  We all got outfitted with 1980's sets of cross country skis from the ski-swap: this thing here in Spokane that takes over the entire fair grounds and is... just... pure mayhem.  So my ski boots/shoes are Addidas: silver with royal blue stripes and trimmed with: hot pink, garish purple, hot yellow, and red.  But seriously, these shoes are easier to put on, more comfortable and slip in to my skis smoother than any other pair I've ever owned or rented.  So I was cruising around our ice-covered snow.  Luckily we'd laid tracks a while back because when I put a new one down in the neighbor's field yesterday, I spent most of my calories on groin control and splits prevention.  But there, just beyond my own fence, laid my own pure field.

Without even removing my skis, I performed the miracle of opening and shutting the gate behind me.  The lazy cows looked up and smacked their cud.  I slipped through their brown snow and on to the crust.  I glided across the top, my skis just where I wanted them, my legs parallel, smooth, fast.  At the end, I turned the corner hoping to make a big square.  And just in time to see three winter fat cows RUNNING AT ME!!!  They were hopping, skipping, leaping, twisting, and RUNNING.  I suppose they'd kept themselves inside long enough.  And I had inspired them.  They were obviously playing, bellies bouncing, hooves flinging.  Either that, or they're actually predators confused by my prey like motions of flight.  But I'm family to them, so the natural thing to do would be to play with me too...or trample me.

Any time we're outside, they love to stand as close to us as the fence will allow.  This summer, every time we played tether ball, bocci ball, baseball, frisby, horseshoes, or whatever.  They were there, parallel playing in their field.  Not those games specifically, but it was like they'd catch the mood and join as best they could.

So there I was... cornered against an electric fence with giant, cumbersome, dexterity and flight preventing sticks attached to my feet.  I worried the cows would first stand on my skis and then trample me.  So I popped one shoe out and stood on it.  And that foot sunk two feet further into my grave.  My foot secure again in the awkward feet-antennae skis, I turned to face my bashers.  And I brandished my voice and my ski poles both.  I learned pole weaponry skiing in central Alaska where I was always prepared for a moose or a wolf out there in the fire break. And I yelled the same things I did back then:  "I DON'T WANT TO PLAY!!! I can't play with you.  You'll kill me.  You weigh five times more than me and I lack hooves!"  Sukie shimmied in circles around me, kicking up her back legs.  Hendrika stopped just short.  "Thanks."  Wild-eyed all of us, we stared eachother down.  I head-faked to the right.  She dodged.  And there we stood, wondering what the other was thinking.  We cooled off.  I skimmed away.  Only to be surrounded once more by the Swing Dance Heifers.  Maybe it was polka and they needed a fourth for their square.  They let me get a head start back to the gate.  I turned frequently to make sure I was likely to survive the next 20 feet and they looked at me with big, sad cow eyes.  The dejection of rejection written all over their long furry faces.  They looked truly forlorn.  And I felt truly guilty.  Here I am, their family.  Here they thought I'd come to relieve their winter boredom and all I could think about was myself, my own damn self and it's continued existence.  Ouch.  They charged again, once I'd crested the frozen shit pile. I stumbled and crashed out the gate before they were upon me. Huffing and puffing, I'm glad we all survived our exercise today.

A note about my world famous shit-ice pile.  The two feet of snow (under which lies our hose, somewhere) got all slushy for a few days there, slid off the barn roof to make piles right in front of the barn doors.  And this is where I had to shovel a very heavy, very special slurpee you can't get at 7-elevent (or maybe you can) twice a day, to open the doors in the morning and shut them at night. All the while mostly dodging the shedding ice sheets myself.  If I'd had any faith the slush would melt within the next four months, I would have left it there.

I am having some trouble with the wheelbarrow in this stuff.  I think I should designate a shit-sled for winter use.  But the point is that I can't really load up my wheelbarrow (held together with baling twine) with that slush.  So I just tossed it as far as I could with the shovel, thereby making these fabulous hasbrouck brown (or also: rootbeer candy) mountains that are now ice and are kinda in the way.

Isn't that enough for those cows, or do I have to risk my life and play with them too?  Aurgh.  The guilt never stops.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Kiss and make-up

All yesterday I was in this terrible funk.  I thought, when I saw the sun for the first time in weeks, that my funk should have lifted, but it didn't.  It settled, a fog of discontent smothering my head.  And I thought, "Damn it!  It's always on these days when I have to go to some social function or party or whatnot and I SHOULD be perky and party-animalistic and all.  But instead I have this irritating ire under my skin!  What is wrong with this universe?  And Yeah, I'm talking to you: god or planets or higher self or whatever!"  Ah but the answer was in the question: that type of funk only happens on days when I have to go to a party where I didn't plan it and I don't know anyone.  Huck's holiday office party.  Could you invent a worse nightmare?

I remember one of my coworker/friends bringing her boyfriend to the clinic's holiday party one year (which we had in January because the party planner sort of forgot about December and all).  And all I could think was, "Suffering succotash! Why in the world would you bring someone you love to a work party?!!" Unless you are conjoined in a surgically-defying way, this just seems like the worst form of cruelty.

The problem is they're Huck's coworkers.  And they're his coworkers.  This means that I don't know anyone there and can't drink enough to alleviate the awkwardness.  And people you don't know are crazy.  A room full of people you don't know is a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get:  is it a moldy cherry covered in chocolate flavored poop?  Or is it a cream-filled lecher?  Does it look all fancy, a gilded delicacy who thinks you might be the same but then upon closer inspection is turned off by your unplucked eyebrows and cow-milking hobby (pure projection on my part, but you reach to explain behaviors sometimes)?  And what could be worse than having to behave yourself and not embarrass your spouse in front of his coworker? Not that Huck is particularly embarrassable...

I was simultaneously helping to plan a party at church (which is now a comfort zone) while also arranging for a babysitting swap with another church family without once connecting the dates to be the very same.  It's like the hemispheres of my brain are two ships passing in the night. So that got all kafoofled.

And what should I wear?  A friend gasped at my empty closet.  I don't buy clothes I don't love and I can't afford one's I do.  So it leaves me wearing the same mostly lovable thrift store finds again and again and again.  And then, what was I going to do with my face?  Is make-up expected at these things?  It's been two years, at least, since my last attempt.  All I can really do is a little mascara and a little lipstick which both seem to sit on top and refuse to integrate.  And the rest of make-up-dom is some foreign language I've never learned.  I come from a long line of cover-up being interpreted literally: what's so bad that you have to cover-up?  What are you hiding?

I tried once, when I had a pixie cut that made me look like a man and/or Liza Minelli and I tried to make up for it with make-up.   And then in a powder room one day this 14 year old goes, "Ohmygod!  Not like that.  This is how you apply that!"  I was simultaneously grateful and offended and ashamed.  Application is apparently rocket science.  I put the big girl tools away and haven't looked back.

In Mexico, I let my friend take me to an eyebrow shaper.   And there was one incident at a spa in Seattle that left me with a red, swollen unibrow for days.  And that's pretty much the extent of my experiences in beauty.  That and these photos of Miss Teen South Carolina doing me up (she convinced my eager mother to let her) for my Junior/Senior in my Junior year.  She also let me rent the dress from her! The look on my face is unrelated to my date, MQ, who was obviously just a nice, normal kid.  And, probably deserving of a blog post in and of itself, the night commenced with a heated debate among people who knew me over who MQ's date could possibly be.  One emphatic that I would NEVER be dressed like that and another pretty sure that underneath it all there lurked a Sarajoy.  And also, boys who hadn't even glanced at me were scooping in on MQ's time.  And they got an earload about how shallow they were. And here are photos at 18 (look at that glowing baby-skin) with a growing-out crew cut.

Last night, Blue donated some eyeshadow that she got from a spa party (the absurdity!).  I didn't know what to do with it, so I artlessly smeared the most invisible-looking powder I could find on my eyelids.  And then I suddenly wanted my eyebrows shaped, maybe a hair do, or nail polish, or some thing else...  I didn't know.  Maybe I could look a little more lively than I do.  But where to start?  Meh.  Forget it.  I live in the Northwest where 1/2 the women never wear the stuff.

The party was fine.  I had enough wine but not too much.  I purposefully got cornered by an extrovert who seemed not the least put off by a room full of strangers.  I clung to Huck at times.  I laughed with the room.  And I kept silent otherwise.  And I actually enjoyed myself here and there and we all made it through the mine field of the office party.  Phew.

Except I still can't figure out how to get the mascara off.


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