Occasionally, I confront the reality that my future is limited. You know when you’re young and you think you can be anything at all? Doctor? Ballerina? Rocket Scientist?
I know better now.
Boy, do I know better now.
I can never, ever, ever be a driving teacher. Ever. Never.
One of my children has begun learning to drive. He’s paid for three driving lessons, a total of six hours of instruction. But, of course, he has to practice. Which is where I come in.
I believe that during every drive he’s made with me in the passenger seat he’s considered murdering me. That is scary because it would be super easy to kill me by swerving into oncoming traffic, especially when turning left. Actually, the easier, muss-free way to kill me would be to just GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK! THE LIGHT IS RED! STOP STOP STOP STOP!
Listen. Under the best of circumstances, I am a horrible passenger. I readily admit this. My husband has been driving since he was sixteen years old and has never had an accident. And yet, when I’m riding with him, I assume that he will crash into any car we happen to be following. I know this is a personality flaw of mine. I lack trust and possibly accurate depth perception. But I can’t help it. I’m a nervous nelly when someone else is driving. I expect to die. To crash and then die. But mostly to crash.
And so, this is a particular problem when a jumpy new driver is behind the wheel. Today he scolded me for my tone of voice but in my defense, the light was red and we did not seem to be respecting that particular law of physics which insists that an object in motion stays in motion unless the BRAKE IS APPLIED.
Seriously. I might not survive this part of motherhood.
So if you could all stay off the roads for the next year or two, I’d appreciate it very much.
(I thought about making a sign for the back of the minivan that would say “STUDENT DRIVER * TERRIFIED MOTHER” but I am pretty sure my son would not be amused.)
*Newton’s first law of motion: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
A few weeks ago I joined a “garage sale” group on Facebook.
A few days ago, I saw a listing for a Singer sewing machine for forty bucks. I’ve been wishing I had a working sewing machine for awhile now. I have a machine from 1970 that I broke awhile back trying to sew through some thick denim. I don’t know if it can be fixed but in the meantime, forty bucks for a working Singer sewing machine seemed like a great idea.
Last night, while trying to view a photo of the machine, I ended up on the seller’s Facebook page. It was then that I noticed that she and I had a mutual Facebook friend. In fact, she seemed to be related to that particular friend.
Remember, she was a complete stranger to me. Not a “Facebook friend” or anything. Just someone who listed something on the garage sale group (which has several thousand members).
Today, when I went to pick up the machine from her apartment, I mentioned our mutual friend. I asked how she’s related to that family, exactly.
It turned out that she was selling me the sewing machine that her aunt used to own. Her aunt is someone from our former hometown, someone who attended the church my husband pastored. I’ve been in her aunt’s home. I know her aunt.
What are chances?
As I drove home, I just kept thinking how weird the whole situation was.
And then I began to sing, “It’s a Small World after all . . . ” *
*Not really. But now you’re singing it in your head, aren’t you?
Monday was the last day of Spring Break. My kids had three separate Spring Breaks here, staggered for the past month. And now, it’s all over.
Sometimes I can’t even remember what season it is here. Last week, I literally had to remind myself whether this is Spring or Fall. It’s a strange climate. A wonderful but strange climate.
We went to the beach the first weekend of Spring Break, then last Monday, we went to Disneyland. (Daughter, me and her friend.) It was quite possibly the best weather we’ve ever had at Disneyland (not too hot, for once) although after the sun went down, my daughter was cold but that’s because she did not take my advice when I told her how to dress. I knew it would get a little chilly but she chose not to listen. Too bad, so sad, sorry you’re cold.
Today while driving to pick up my son’s guitar from the shop where it was being fixed, I was stopped at a red light. As I watched, a pick-up truck zoomed through the intersection, even though his light had turned red. The entire row of cars with the green light began to accelerate as that pick-up raced through the intersection and then the last car collided with the pick-up. The entire front bumper of that car fell off. The pick-up swerved off the road, over the sidewalk and straight up the hillside into an expanse of ivy.
The car’s driver got out immediately but the pick-up truck driver stayed in his truck.
And then my light turned green and so I didn’t get to see what happened next.
Someone sat at my desk this afternoon or evening while I was away from my computer. I noticed the evidence of a water spill first when I saw the curled page of my calendar page for this week. I found that annoying enough because it’s a brand new week and that page was unsullied and there’s nothing I love quite as much as a clean calendar page, but even more annoying is the fact that the culprit TORE off the opposite page, so Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are missing. We go straight from April 8 to April 16, as if time isn’t already going by too fast. The current page is crumpled in my trashcan. Very sneaky but not sneaky enough, kiddo. Then when I picked up the calendar book, the entire back was wet. Seriously, people.
Tonight, my 12-year old daughter “Koolaided” her hair. I really despise rainbow-colored hair, unless, of course, it’s on a clown, but I am trying to not be the jerky mom who keeps saying, “Blue hair is only cute if you’re a clown.” And her hair is now half-pink, so I don’t know. Maybe it could be worse. It’s only hair. It’s only hair. It’s only hair.
It’s only hair.
The fourth kid had hurried out out of the house and I’d taken a few photos of them in their non-Easter finery (the oldest boys looked like Christmas–one in a red polo and one in a forest-green button down shirt; the middle kid wore the short sleeved button-down shirt that has a red pen mark stain near a button and the girl wore the same exact white dress from last Easter). Half of them had wet hair still.
We got into the van. I had the key in the ignition and my sunglasses on and realized I just could not wear the dress I had on.
I think my kids were utterly shocked, but I said, “I have to change clothes!” and then I ran into the house, peeled off my pantyhose and shed my dress and pulled on a pair of white pants and a flowery blouse and hot pink flip-flops. I would not be surprised if I were voted out of the Pastor’s Wives Association.*
My last-minute costume-change is why we were one minute late for church on this beautiful Easter morning.
We’ve reached the era in our family where we do not dye Easter eggs. I do not hide plastic eggs in the back yard. We’ve never had a visit from the Easter bunny–ever–but I do occasionally manage to provide Easter baskets–and this year was a total triumph in that department since I snatched up two baskets from Costco the second I saw them. (One year I meant to do that closer to Easter but then they were all gone.) (Only two baskets, though, because my older kids are almost 22 and “too old” for baskets, though they got a chocolate bunny each which I completely expect to find under a bed or tucked on a shelf somewhere in a few months, at which point I will throw it away and wonder at kids who don’t eat chocolate Easter bunnies because some things never change.)
After church, I prepared lunch and we all sat at the table and tried to see each other over the too-tall flowers.
And then, glory be, a lazy afternoon scrolling through Facebook and Instagram and then napping and reading.
*Not a real thing. As far as I know.
Tonight, I missed the sunset.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I did glance over toward the west as I drove my daughter to school for an event. The sun was low in the sky, hovering just above the horizon.
But then I had to make a left turn and the sun slid out of sight. I dropped off my daughter and headed to the pet store with Lola the Dog. She hasn’t had a bath since October and since I had an hour to kill before picking up my daughter, dog bath time it was.
After the bath, we headed back to the school and then I saw it.
(Just now, while checking to see if the moon was actually an official “Full Moon” tonight, I discovered that it was actually a “micromoon”, a smaller-appearing moon than usual because . . . of some scientific stuff.)
A check of social media, though, showed people posting photos of tonight’s moon. I tried, myself, to take a photo at a stoplight with my cell phone. (I deleted those blurry results.) It was a beautiful sight. I hope you looked up and saw it, if you could.
So I missed the sun setting but saw the moon rising as I drove east to pick up my daughter.
And now, in lieu of a conclusion, here’s the selfie my daughter took while I was driving instead of standing on the beach, waiting to watch the sun set. (Oh, sorry . . . you’ll have to click here because I can’t seem to embed anything tonight!) (Oh and I can’t hyperlink either . . . so . . . uh, if you care, you’ll have to copy and paste this link into your browser . . . and I’ll try to fix this after I reboot tomorrow.) https://instagram.com/p/z3jjrWN5Q3/?modal=true
Technical difficulties! I blame the full moon!
Today I received a Summons for Jury Service. Twenty-six years have passed since I was last called for jury duty. And that time, twenty-six years ago, I had to decline because the summons came from Washington state and I had just moved to Connecticut.
Ever since, I’ve felt like I was missing out. On March 12, I’ll know for sure if I have perhaps romanticized jury duty. My husband and two sons have been summoned since we moved here and they report that it was unremarkable and even boring. What do they know? I’ll let you know. Ha. (It’s entirely possible I have watched too many 48 Hours episodes.)
So today, I took one of my sons to the DMV to get a photo identification card. He’s leaving on a jetplane to go to a choir conference in Utah and a couple of days ago, I suddenly realized that he doesn’t have a photo ID. (He has a driver’s permit which is not valid for identification purposes, apparently.) He’s flying out on Tuesday and so it was urgent.
I told him I’d be waiting in the car and sent him to stand in line. (At the DMV here in California, you can make appointments. However, a new law enables undocumented immigrants in California to get driver’s licenses. And a lot (50,000 since January 1) of them are super excited about getting a valid driver’s license. So when I tried to make an appointment, the next available slot was in April, two months ago. Six months ago, you could get an appointment within a week.)
Anyway, I took him late this afternoon, figuring the longest wait would be 90 minutes because the office closes at 5 PM. And sure enough, he got through the line and was successful, though unsuccessful at the same time because the card will be sent in the mail within the next two to four weeks. So, he still has no “acceptable identification” for next week. (But that’s a complicated story for another time.)
I have a point to this story.
So I’m waiting in the parking lot, reading blogs on my iPhone and looking at photos on Instagram and eavesdropping through my open windows on the people coming and going. I heard the distant cries of a baby and some man screaming at some woman who tattled to the security guard. Then I heard a man’s voice saying, “Your car is over there! Your car is over there!” and a more feeble voice saying, “No, no.”
I turned to catch a glimpse of the man with the feeble voice. He was an elderly man wearing a hat and a a big bandage on one of his thin legs. He tottered around the parking lot, clutching his key fob as if it were a dowsing rod. He held it straight out as he wandered the parking lot, first going one way, then another. I wondered if I should hop out of my car and help him listen for the tell-tale sound of a car beeping. Just as I’d convinced myself to help, a couple of younger men stopped and talked to the man and pointed him in yet another direction.
And then I didn’t see the elderly man again . . . until I saw him driving around the parking lot in his sedan.
Oh wait. Maybe I don’t have a point to this story except that I was kind of scared that the elderly man with his dowsing-rod-key-chain-fob who couldn’t find his car for ten minutes was now operating a motor vehicle.
When I told my kids about him, one of my sons said, “Well, just because he couldn’t find his car doesn’t mean he was a bad driver.”
And then I realized how many times I myself have wandered a parking lot, trying to find my car, waving my key fob like a magic wand, hoping to make my car appear.
I wonder if any young whippersnappers have watched me and wondered if they should help the lost old lady? You never know. You just never know.
(My so-called life has come down to this. I’m writing posts about the DMV and jury duty. I would like to apologize in advance, except that you’ve already read this. So I apologize after the fact.)
I’ve had a very long week. My husband was out of town. I drove carpool three days this week. I cooked dinners and drove kids around and met friends in my free time while everyone was occupied by school to hike the trails at Torrey Pines. Every single day I’ve thought it was the next day. I worked every day and went to bed late every night.
When I finished working today, I cooked dinner and put it in the Crockpot to keep warm. Then I drove through rush hour traffic to pick up my daughter from a game where she was cheerleading. When we got home, we had five minutes to change clothes before heading out to watch my son and his girlfriend perform in the high school’s Coffee House event. They were the first act of many. (He played guitar and she sang.)
Even though I was exhausted, watching those high school kids was a delight. The monologues, the skits, the songs, the dancing, the laughter, the forgotten lyrics . . . a blink ago, those kids were first graders with gap-toothed smiles and enthusiastic motions and boisterous shouted songs. At least that’s how it seems. Now they are careening toward adulthood.
It was so touching and encouraging and scary and impressive to see these high schoolers express their big feelings and humor and confidence and beliefs. Such talent and vulnerability and hilarity. Their peers in the audience cheered and yelled “I love you!” and shouted out lyrics. Paying seven bucks for the honor of being a witness to the awesomeness of high school kids onstage was a bargain.
(Then I came home and worked some more.)
Okay, everyone. Gather close. Listen carefully.
I was born half a century ago. Five decades. So long ago that I can remember when you had to dial a rotary phone, often WHILE STANDING IN THE KITCHEN, to call someone. And then, for privacy, you could hide in the laundry room and try to talk while other people in the house kept picking up the phone the master bedroom extension saying, “Oh. Sorry. Are you almost done?”
It was a time before the Internet. Before DVRs and way, way before Taylor Swift. When I was a kid, our parents shooed us out of the house in the morning and we wandered through our neighborhoods and undeveloped acres of land surrounding our neighborhoods and played in the creek and often rode our banana-seat bicycles without helmets. Or shoes. We came home when it was dark or when we were really hungry.
I can remember watching the moon landing on a black and white television. I remember television back when there were only five channels: ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and channel “11” which is where all the magic happened (aka “Gilligan’s Island”). Okay, maybe it was channel 13. Maybe I can’t remember, but you’ll have to understand because I am old.
My dad only lived to be 47, so I’ve lived three years longer than he did. But my grandmother lived to be 102, so I’m not even halfway there. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a design flaw, this inability to know exactly how many days we each get.
Some people say you should live each day as if it were your last, but that’s kind of impractical. Am I right? If you only had tomorrow to live, wouldn’t you make it count? (Or maybe you’d just eat cookies all day and burn your diaries so no one would discover your deepest, darkest thoughts.) But if you had another 18,980 days you might be forgiven for slacking off a little and wasting time. (I hate to waste time but I have Instagram. So, I’m a hypocrite, basically. An old hypocrite.)
I don’t know. I’m figuring things out as I go along.
Tonight, I just read another blogger’s list of things she’s learned in forty years of living and I thought, hmmm. Maybe I should create my own list of things I’ve learned. Also, I thought, “Forty? Humph. Forty is so ten years ago.”
While the idea of writing a list of things I’ve learned in fifty years contains promise, I’m too tired (read: old) to come up with something tonight. I have all year anyway. (I hope. If I don’t, wouldn’t that be ironic? And tragic?)
For now, all that matters is that it’s my birthday.
I will celebrate and eat cake and postpone all chores and duties. I may also mourn my lost youth and wonder why I’m losing pigment even though my essential self–the me inside my brain–feels as vibrant as I was when I was twenty-two.
I will not remind myself that in ten years, I’ll be sixty or that in twenty years, I’ll be seventy or that it’s possible (WHY AM I EVEN THINKING THESE THOUGHTS?) I’ll be dead in thirty years. I remember thirty years ago. Thirty years isn’t really all that long. I’ll try not to be bitter that all of this ends for all of us with being dead.
Wait. Okay. Focus. Reframe. Stop with the morbid. Birthday! Cake! Presents!
Getting older is a gift you receive that you did not order and which you cannot return or exchange.
(If I were younger, I’d get that tattooed on my ribs or my collarbone or my scapula.) (Just kidding. I would not.)
I can’t seem to stop rambling. You know why? Old age.
Seriously. I’m going to bed now.
When I wake up . . . I will be fifty. When you read this, I will be at least fifty.
Fifty. Fifty. Fifty.
(If you are thirty or younger, you think I sound ancient. If you are seventy or older, you think I’m a whining whippersnapper. I’m just a rambling middle-aged woman who can’t quite find the punctuation mark to end this treatise.)
T H E E N D (of an era)
Here are a few of my least favorite things:
1) Missing the sunset, especially when I hear later that it was spectacular.
2) Not knowing what an acronym stands for.
3) Raw tomatoes.
4) Stopping at red lights when I’m in a hurry. (Basically, all the time, in other words.)
5) Thinking up a plan for dinner and then executing that plan.
6) Forgetting some thought I had earlier in the day that I was convinced I could remember without writing it down.
8) Car trouble.
9) OVERFLOWING TOILETS and subsequent leaky ceilings.
11) Taxes. Paying them, filling out the forms and filing them.
12) Problems without clear solutions.
13) Having to pay money to fix dumb problems. (See: Overflowing toilet; leaky ceiling.)