Someone needs to save me from myself. (I saved you from me.)
Here’s the summary: We people in San Diego are weather wimps. When it’s cloudy for four days in a row–maybe five–we get a little twitchy. “Where is the sun?” we cry as we scan the sky. When it’s down to fifty-five degrees, women don puffy coats and gloves and knit hats and boots and scarves.
(Not me. But them. Some of them.) I know this is nuts because I know what type of weather so many of you around the country have been enduring.
I’m starting the countdown to summer, mostly because I am so completely over supervising school at home. Ten years, people. TEN YEARS. A decade. A tenth of a century. I just want to sit in a beach chair and read under a beach umbrella.
I don’t want to hear about the War of 1812 or the probability of picking a purple sock out of the dryer if there are ten socks and seven are purple and two are yellow and one is green. I don’t want to discuss Don Quixote or explain why it takes more than one draft to get a Final Draft right. I don’t want to give a spelling test or ponder past participles.
Tomorrow we are going on a field trip to Sea World. (No, I haven’t seen “Blackfish” and I don’t think I want to . . . but I am familiar with the controversy and I’m conflicted but on the other hand, when we go on field trips, we get the day “off” from schoolwork so you can bet your bottom dollar we are going to Sea World.) We are scheming–my 11-year old and me–about ditching Sea World and driving up the freeway to Disneyland (we have annual passes). My daughter makes a fairly good argument for doing so.
The thing is, I am acutely aware of how fast she is growing up . . . how fast these years are passing. You know when you’re driving down the freeway and you don’t think you’re going all that fast until you look down at the speedometer and see that you’re somehow driving 85 mph? If you look out the side window, the scenery flashes by so fast you can’t even really focus, but looking straight ahead, you’d swear you are driving under the speed limit?
(Maybe that’s just me.)
I just know that we are going much, much faster through this life than we realize. And why not drive to Disneyland for the afternoon if you can while your 11-year old still thinks it’s fun to hang out with you?
When I heard about Twitter some years back, I thought it sounded perfect. I am, after all, a voyeur at heart and love to know what other people are doing.
Eavesdropping is an awesome past-time, if you ask me.
What’s not to love, then about Twitter, that space on the Internet where everyone tells you what they are doing or thinking in 140 characters or less?
Here are seven reasons not to love Twitter. In other words, Twitter, let me count the ways I hate you:
1) I hate the way people promote their projects or sites by putting in links to other sites. I’m sick of clicking. I’m sick of your ads and self-promotion.
2) I hate dumb abbreviations. “U” is not “you”. I dnt care wut u say. (See? I hate that.)
3) I hate seeing half of a conversation between people who don’t seem to realize that their personal conversations are boring. So, when someone says, “thanks, so-and-so, I do, too!” I hate it. Use a text message. Send each other an email or a smoke signal but don’t “tweet” at each other. I don’t care about you and your private conversation.
4) I hate “retweets.” If I’m following someone, I don’t want to see a string of twenty “retweets” showing me a bunch of stuff from people I don’t care about. This is especially true for celebrities who are “retweeting” people who beg to be “retweeted.” SO. BORING.
5) I hate a dozen tweets in a row from the same person. Stop it.
6) I hate advertising, especially “promoted posts.”
7) Donald Trump. Why am I following him?
So why do I still have Twitter? Because occasionally I want to see what everyone else is doing, like tonight when Ellen DeGeneres Tweeted this from the Oscars:
7:06 PM – 2 Mar 2014
Sixteen years ago tonight, I was living in northern Michigan and I was over nine months pregnant. Our twins were almost five years old. My baby had been due on February 17th and there it was, February 25th. I’d woken up in labor before dawn and spent the whole day breathing through contractions and trying to rest. (I was really too excited to rest, though.)
The next day, February 26, my house would be full of midwives, their children and babies and helpful church ladies who were taking care of my children (who were almost five years old).
When my labor would stall, midwives would take me for a ride in a full-sized van that belonged to the midwife who was not Amish. I’d wear my flannel purple nightgown covered by a coat and slippers. The midwives had no pitocin, of course. Instead, they’d plan to drive down bumpy country roads to kick-start my labor.
I think getting pulled over by the sheriff is what did the trick. I was panicked, thinking I’d be ticketing for laboring in a van without a seatbelt. It turned out the midwife driving the van knew the sheriff and he’d pulled her over because she was driving too slow on the county highway. He didn’t seem to think it was weird that the midwife was transporting a panting woman in labor and a tiny Amish woman in a huge white van. (But what do I know, really? I was focused on breathing in 2- 3- 4-5-6-7-8-9-10 and out 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.)
It’s always strange to know exactly what you were doing at a precise moment years earlier. It’s mind-blowing to imagine the you that you were then seeing the you that you are now, sitting in a house in southern California, musing over how fast time goes and wondering–with a little fear and trepidation–about where you might be in sixteen years. When I do the calculations and add up the years, I can’t even picture my baby boy as a 32-year old man.
It’s hard enough to believe he’ll be sixteen tomorrow. He’ll always be my baby boy.
Update: When I woke up this morning, I regretted posting this last night at 2 AM because I sound like such a whiner. I’m leaving it here anyway, though I have just assumed you are all judging me because I would judge me if I read this. This post is not approved by Oprah and others who keep a daily gratitude journal.
* * *
My husband’s day off is Monday. I also have Mondays off, unless you count the hour on Monday mornings when I log on to answer work email and then the three hour shift I work every Monday night. I work seven nights a week, but have the daytime hours off on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Mostly.
And today was President’s Day, a holiday, right?
But we have kids so we never have time off. Now that our older kids are working part-time and going to school part-time (just one of them, just one class) and our middle kid attends school twenty minutes away and our youngest child is in sports and a choir and church activities . . . well, things have gone from bad to worse. (I know it’s temporary because the older kids will be driving at some point and all that. Still. Right now it’s ridiculous.)
In the old days, we could just hire a babysitter and be on our way. (Theoretically, of course, because in reality, our youngest two kids hated to be left and we rarely had a babysitter.) Because everyone was just home, it was easier for me to leave home, to get a mental health break, away from the chatter and noise and cooking.
It’s the cooking that’s killing me. The constant and relentless requirement to think up something to serve to the people who live in my house and need food. I’ve been doing this for twenty-six years, being the sole provider of nourishment and I’m sick of it. I used to not mind so much . . . back before I realized the futility and despair that would come from trying to adjust to feedback received at various times over the years:
- No red meat because it’s hard on some (unnamed) tummies.
- Avoid pork because it causes some unpleasant side effects in some (unnamed) people.
- No dairy please, because of lactose intolerance.
- Vegetables are yucky. Except for the ones we like. (“Wait, is rice a vegetable? I like rice.”)
- Salads are not a meal.
- Nothing too spicy.
- Nothing weird or different or with substituted ingredients.
- No chicken cooked in the CrockPot.
- No cornbread or biscuits or muffins.
- No rice or pasta.
- Mashed potatoes only, please.
And the worst? When I cook something and then the other people in this house choose to eat a bowl of cereal or a sandwich or whatever. It’s depressing. I wish I were Jane Jetson and I could just order nutrition pills from my magic robot. Who wants to waste time cooking when there are books to read?
But I wasn’t talking about cooking. I was talking about how we don’t have a day off . . . from kids.
And today, a holiday? Not so much.
I did get to sleep in since my husband woke up and took our son to work at 9 AM. I did my hour of work online, then spent a rather frustrating stretch of time working with my daughter to get her school work reviewed and organized since I need to turn in samples tomorrow. (I am also sick to death of supervising kids doing school-at-home . . . I’ve been doing this now for ten years, ever since my 6th grade twins started a virtual school. They graduated but now my daughter is enrolled in a charter school and doing school-at-home . . . it’s trying to kill me.)
We finally finished–after my final lecture and rant about her effort in Composition–and then it was time to shop for a lacrosse stick and accessories so she can start lacrosse practice on Friday. We returned home just in time to pick up my son to take him to work.
And when I got home, it was time to cook dinner. I had put corned beef and cabbage in the CrockPot (a weird favorite that my family likes, though I could live without it), but I still had to clean up the kitchen and peel potatoes and roast cauliflower and slice strawberries and mash the potatoes. By the time we had dinner, it was after 6:30 PM.
It wasn’t much of a day off. That’s all I’m trying to say.
I wonder what we’re having for dinner tomorrow.
What are you having for dinner?
I pulled over on my street and took this photo this morning. Later this afternoon, we spied this message left in the sky.
Alas, a thick bank of fog hovered along the edge of the beach, obliterating the sun.
One of these days, I’ll be at the beach at sunset again and with any luck, the clouds will not be there, although they did add a certain mystery tonight.
Maybe next time. (She’s just mad that she put on sunscreen for no reason.)
I didn’t mean to ignore my blog but I’ve been spending all my spare time driving my kids around Southern California.
My husband was in Florida for a couple of days on business and so I had to do all the driving myself. I tallied up all my time behind the wheel today and lost track after adding up five hours of drive time. FIVE HOURS.
Driving kids around is a part-time job, the kind of part-time job that costs you money and makes you wonder why you had kids in the first place. It’s like pizza delivery only without the smell of pizza and without any tips. It’s driving for hours and finding yourself back where you started, only minus the gas in your tank.
At least the kids are old enough not to kick the back of my seat. And I don’t have to carry a plastic potty chair in the trunk of the car just in case like I used to do when we lived in Michigan a million years ago.
Tonight while I was heading home, pink spread across the sky and I wished I were at the beach snapping photos. The best I could do was a photo taken at a stoplight with my iPhone.
I’m not sure what else I’ve been doing lately, but I can tell you what I have not been doing. This list is not exhaustive. (I, however, am exhausted.)
1) I have not been organizing my laundry room. I’m not sure what has happened in there but Martha Stewart would disapprove of the situation involving dryer lint, empty detergent bottles, tangled hangers and stacks of fabric.
2) I have not been reading. I have so many books stacked up and I keep putting a book next to my pillow right before I fall asleep without reading it.
3) I have not been cooking. You’d think at a certain point I’d be fired for dereliction of duty but somehow I still have the job of cooking dinner even when I don’t cook dinner. Why am I not fired? (Someone fire me!)
4) I have not been sorting through my office closet and organizing it. When we moved in, I just sort of stacked things in there, intending to tend to it later. Later has come and gone and that closet taunts me.
5) I have not been watching the Olympics except for right now while I am watching the cross-country skiing event where they periodically stop and shoot a gun. I don’t really understand the gun portion of this sport. I usually love watching figure skating but this year I can’t get interested. And all the speed skaters look the same . . . I have no emotional attachment.
What have you not been doing lately?
Although, this photo does shed more light on my personality and character and general squeamishness. My husband alerted me to the fact that a lizard was lurking in our living room, so I did what any normal woman would do. I found a plastic container and trapped the lizard so I could assess the situation (scary!) and craft a solution (leave the lizard under its plastic dome until the next day).
I also scooted a piece of cardboard under half the plastic container which gave the lizard enough room to escape, so the next day, I had to trap the lizard again on the other side of the room after my daughter declined to pick it up with her bare hands. I slid a plastic place-mat under the lizard and then a cookie sheet under that and managed to carry the lizard to the back yard. I am ridiculous.
Grace’s soccer team played in the State Cup this weekend, so we had to drive to Lancaster, California and spend the night in a hotel. Otherwise, we would have had to get up at about 4:00 AM to arrive at the field by 8:00 AM. Since we have passes for Disneyland, I suggested we stop by, park in the free Downtown Disney parking lot and spend a couple of hours at the Happiest Place on Earth. My plan worked great.
Except that we ended up driving through heavy Los Angeles Friday night traffic which was decidedly not great.
Saturday morning, the other team scored at the very last minute–literally–of the game. The final score was 1-0 and our girls were knocked out of the State Cup. It was sad, except it was awesome because it meant we didn’t have to spend another night in Lancaster.
I found the neutral landscape quite enchanting with its unfamiliar trees and shrubs the looked like they came right out of a Dr. Seuss book. (Except not this one . . . but I didn’t get any pictures of the wacky trees because I was driving and my daughter was not a fan of me pulling over to take pictures in the middle of nowhere.)
And then, traffic happened.
I’d decided to avoid going back down Interstate 5 so we wouldn’t have to negotiate the freeways winding through Los Angeles again. Instead, we headed down the less populous route (down Interstate 215).
We were literally stopped on the freeway or creeping along at two miles an hour for a solid hour. I’d seen a sign that said there was an accident ahead with the two right lanes blocked, so I moved over to the far left lane. This did not help at all. All seven lanes of traffic had to merge into one lane–MY LANE–as we approached the accident which blocked off everything except MY LANE.
Our return trip home took four hours. It should have taken no more than three, closer to two and a half hours, really. The worst part of being stopped on the freeway for an hour was the fact that I needed a bathroom quite desperately.
* * *
In other news, the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl today. They won by such a wide margin, in fact, that I spent the entire second half deeply asleep.
On Saturday, Grace had a soccer game in San Diego. We woke up at 5:45 AM to arrive at the field by 7:15 AM.
After the game ended in a zero-zero tie, we headed back home.
Over the weekend, I’d heard there was a high surf advisory, so we decided to stop by the beach on the way home.
And what a glorious day it was. We walked quite a ways down the beach, picking up shells and snapping pictures of waves and surfers and rocks and, as it turns out, a line of swooping pelicans.
And I really love the clacking sound rocks make when the waves rush back to sea.
My friend, Alisa, suggested that maybe I could write a book about this dog. It would be called The Money Pit Dog because, oh my. She’s limping and the veterinarian mentioned scary words to me today like “surgery” and “money” and “let me check the cost of that.”
(Did I tell you about that incident when Lola the Dog was a year old and ate a bottle of ibuprofen? That stuff will kill a dog unless you hand over a bucket of gold to the Animal Hospital.)
So now Lola the Dog is limping and has been for quite a few weeks now. Sometimes she seems better and then, inexplicably worse. There is no rhyme or reason, only worry.
So we’re going to start her on anti-inflammatory medicine and then, if she’s not better, she’ll have x-rays and I refuse to think about what might happen after that except that if you see a middle-aged woman with a beautiful dog on the street corner holding a sign that says, “HELP! MY DOG NEEDS SURGERY!” you’ll know it’s me.
That reminds me. My kids and I once had a contest while we drove around in our mini-van. We tried to come up with the best slogan to put on a cardboard sign for begging purposes. (There are a lot of people on street corners around here who beg. Is it just here? Because our weather is so nice? Or are these people everywhere now?)
Some suggested slogans for signs:
“Sick baby. Homeless. Help.”
“Need medicine for Grandma. Help.”
“Need money to surf. Help.” (Okay, just kidding on that one.)
What’s your best slogan for a sign? Best to be prepared just in case you need to beg someday.