Monthly Archives: July 2013

Cold, Heartless Beastie

There’s this reporter type who’s been asking to meet with me for almost a year now, and today our schedules intersected–directly after a really, really long tennis match, during which I may have dislocated my entire right arm and maybe my ankle, too; I’ll let you know tomorrow, when I can’t get out of  bed.

Unfortunately he brought along his camera. And took pictures.

I’m pretty sure it was bad enough that even though I’m curious about what he’ll write, there is no power on earth strong enough to compel me to buy that paper. I’m pretty much in denial about what I look like, post-tennis. My children describe it as, “grotesque”. (That’s a direct quote.)

The curiosity part stems from the strange bend of our conversation. It’s hard to read a reporter–they are, after all, supposed to be fair and unbiased, right?

But at one point he sat back in his chair and looked me up and down.

“Huh,” he said. “I would have never expected a Republican to say that.”

“What do you mean?” I asked, “Republicans don’t believe in education?”

“No, no, I never said that,” he protested. “I just would expect to hear that coming out of the mouth of a liberal.”

“Hear what?”

“Well, about helping your students that way.”

Because apparently Republicans are cold, heartless beasts? Really? That is why Republicans are out of power in this country. It’s a stereotype–and it’s a strong one–but I don’t believe for one minute that it’s representative, any more than I believe that Nancy Pelosi is representative of every Democrat.

I’m the very first person who will  say that an immigrant student should be taught English–but I also think that student ought to do everything in their power to hold on to their mother tongue. I’ll go toe-to-toe with anyone who thinks a single mother ought not to have enough food on the table to feed her kids, and access to medical care for them. I don’t believe you should be able to treat someone like a second-class citizen because they are different from you. I don’t own a gun and hope I never need to.

Those things don’t make me liberal. They make me human. I think most Americans, Democrat and Republican, share similar values–we just disagree on how to reach those goals. I don’t agree with a lot of the dogma on both sides of the aisle, but in the end, I’m a Republican because I’m not a Democrat. I agree with more of the stances over here than I do over there. And if that isn’t cold-hearted enough, fire me; I’ll be the first in line to sign that pink slip.

I actually have an evil fantasy about fair week. I’ve never really paid attention before, but apparently in the past, the Democrat and Republican booths have been pretty competitive–even combative, at times. I think that this year, I might cut short our family vacation by a couple hours and come home early, just so I can go visit the last day of fair and mess with protocol–maybe saunter across the midway,  introduce myself to the chair of the Democrats, drink some of their lemonade, and try to understand their position on things more clearly.  Come on people.  We aren’t enemies.


Grand Experiment, Day Zero

Saw a woman dancing in her car today. And by dancing, I mean full-fledged, whole body, arms flailing, head banging rocking out while she waited for the light to change.

She was at least 100 years old.

I’m pretty sure.

I was actually a little concerned that she might fracture a wrist on the steering wheel.

I also saw an entire pickup truck plus a trailing RV turned over in the ditch. A woman was talking to the cops, while three small children played in the dirt on the median. As we blew by, I thought, “Man, it’s too bad I can’t stop and see if they need help.” And then I continued agonizing over the possible outcomes on the test I just took.

Half an hour later, I thought… wait a minute… Why couldn’t I have stopped to see if they needed help?

Was it because I was travelling at 70 mph, and there was traffic all around me? Was it because there were already cops everywhere? Was it because I was not personally in the driver’s seat? Was I so wrapped up in worrying about various imperfections in my own life that this other woman’s plight took 35 miles to really sink in?

I’m still puzzled by that. I had this thought that they needed help, but somehow was unable to interject myself into the role of helper.

As you can tell, it’s still bothering me.

Am I that self-absorbed???

Maybe I need to start a grand experiment. One in which I live wholly in the moment, and outside of my own head–fully aware of other people’s needs and my own opportunities to serve them, instead of pouring so much energy into regret over my own failings.  (Just as soon as I stop ruminating over this latest one…) Maybe I need to stop worrying about all the things I haven’t done, and simply look around me for the things I can do, right now, as my own imperfect self.  Yes?


Hi, My Name is Kimber

Well.

First of all: Aroma Rice Cooker, Costco, less than 30 bucks. Worth every stinkin’ penny. I bought it two weeks ago, and I’m in love. It also works as a crock pot, and I don’t use the term “works” and “crock pot” in the same breath lightly.

Second of all, speaking of two weeks ago: Remember that one time, back in 2012 when I was going nuts writing a 500,000 page Master’s thesis, and my bedroom walls were covered with sticky notes and I stopped washing my laundry, sorting my silverware, eating, sleeping, and even seriously considered delegating the act of breathing, but it would have taken too much time to interview anyone else for the position and so I continued to do it for myself?

Yeah. That time. And remember what you promised me?

That you would never… let me… (is it coming back? yes?  that devastating feeling creeping up on you–that’s guilt, I’m glad you are not totally heartless) … that’s right: You promised to never let me pursue a Phd.

In fact, if I remember correctly, you took a solemn oath to remove my thumbs if I even considered it. And clearly, sinceI’mnottypinglikethis,youmusthavedroppedtheball.

Because WSU just conditionally accepted me into their doctoral program, pending GRE scores. Got the letter today. Where were you two weeks ago when my outgoing application was in that mailbox, hmmm?

Not to worry. I may still redeem you from your neglect by failing the quantitative section of the GRE I have to take on Monday, even though I’ve had two weeks to review for it, along with 106 pages of math review materials with which to do so.  I’m nice like that.

Or just really, really unmotivated. Every time I’ve sat down to look it over I decide to take up tennis or organize the files on my thumb drive instead.  And now that it’s Saturday night and I have exactly four hours and 7 minutes left to study, obviously I’m going to blog–and eat rice, from my awesome cooker, in which (if I fail to redeem you from your neglect by failing to fail the GRE) I will be making dinner every day for the next four years because I will never be here in person to supervise food in a real pan on an actual stove top.

Is there such a thing as a 12 step program for people who continually find themselves enrolled in degree seeking programs?


Atonement

I just made a potato salad you are morally obligated to try.

Seriously. Not trying it ranks right up there with killing small, helpless animals (which, actually, I did this week, but that’s no excuse for you), telling your best friend that her infant is adorable when clearly it’s not even human, and craving oysters.

First of all, boil 15 eggs, and 15 whole, lemon-sized Yukon potatoes.

(Yes, lemon-sized Yukons. If your local grocer doesn’t carry them, you’re out of luck and your culinary soul is doomed to eternal writhing. Kidding… Potatoes, folks. In about that amount. Eyeball it.)

Also, only boil the potatoes until they are just barely done. Unless you enjoy mush, in which case, boil away. Or just use instant mashed potatoes. Or rice cereal.

If you go with the fresh potato route, you’ll have about 15 minutes while they boil to:

dice one cup each of celery, green peppers, red peppers, onion, and dill pickle.

Add one cup of fat-free mayo.

Stir in 1/4 cup mustard, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Cool and chop eggs (peeled, duh) and potatoes (those, actually, don’t peel), and stir them into everything else.

Seriously. Try it. Because if it is life changing, I will have made the universe a better place and possibly it will forgive me for mangling small house pets (yes, plural) in the engine of my motor vehicle. And also, when you taste it, that last image will be obliterated from your consciousness along with every other tragic event of your life. You will sit there on your kitchen floor and eat all 2700 calories of it. For a reduced calorie version,  allow someone else to lick the bowl.


Snorting Oatmeal

I mentioned yesterday that I had the urge to kiss a man I’d never spoken with before. While that may sound shocking, I’ve got a worse confession:

Sometimes I’m sitting across the table or the room from my children–particularly the older four, who are turning into actual people–and I have this surge of maternal pride, and I think, “You know, I could just kiss you, right in the middle of the forehead. You are that awesome.”

But I don’t. Ever.

Not kissing the man on the airplane? Totally understandable. My own children? See, that’s where it gets fuzzy.

Here’s what I want to know: What day, precisely, did I stop touching my children? When did I go from rocking them to sleep and chucking them under the chin to… this? When did we pass the point of no return?

And let me assure you that there really is a point of no return. If my mother were to kiss me on the forehead at this point, I’d be pretty freaked out. (No seriously, Mom. Don’t do it. I’ll move to Kentucky, and then you’ll have to live out the rest of your life in guilt that I no longer have a job.)

Honestly, I’m pretty uncomfortable even with hugs. Particularly if we know each other very well. Strangers in distress? Not a problem. Elderly women I know only by name? Totally fine. My own children? Not a chance. In fact, you can probably measure my affection for you by the inverse of how many times I’ve hugged you in the past thirty years.

I know it doesn’t make any sense. But that’s how it is. I wish it were different, but I’ve genuinely tried to be one of those touchy-feely types, and it’s like trying to inhale oatmeal. Through my nostrils.

My point is this–I don’t think it had to be this way. My point is that if you have little children you are rocking right now, don’t ever let that last hug happen. Pull them down on your lap every day for the rest of their lives–because if you stop, even for a nanosecond, they will morph into adults, and then if you hug them, they’ll mostly want to punch you.

I’m not saying you can’t have a good relationship without, you know, hugging, because I think I have a pretty good one with my adult and almost adult children.But I am starting to foresee some possibly awkward moments: you know–those times when families typically hug each other? Weddings. Funerals. Significant departures.

There aren’t very many good replacements for a hug as a socially acceptable way to say goodbye. You don’t think about that when your children are small. You plan ahead for the tuition and the plane fare and the empty bedroom; you don’t think about how you’re going to say goodbye at the boarding gate, or hello two years later. You know? So just… don’t quit. That’s all. You’re welcome.


Buckle Up

I was sitting on an airplane to Dallas a couple weeks ago. Through the window on my left, distant rivers slipped away under the wing; on my right sat a man I’d never spoken to in my life. He was terrified. He had, in fact, taken three pills in order to get himself into the seat at all.  Also, he’d checked the latch on his seat belt three times.

Like that was going to increase his chances of survival should the engines cut out at 30,000 feet.

Personally, I find escalators and cold sores more terrifying than air travel, but I figured it wouldn’t help if I mentioned that the worst possible thing that could happen to us was death. I mean, really: It doesn’t get much simpler or more swift than a commercial airplane crash.

As I was discussing our likelihood of survival with my seatmate on the return flight (apparently a lot of people share this same fear) she proffered the opinion that while death by airplane crash would be swift, don’t we all want to live?

Well, yes. Which is why I don’t smoke, drink mouthwash, or ingest dubiously obtained and/or illegal substances. But I also get in my car and drive it to work every day, and I almost never wash my produce before eating it.

The thing is–once I’ve made the decision to get on the airplane, how awesome is it that my decision making is done until we touch down at our destination? Nothing I do or do not do will affect in the slightest that outcome, and so I put my energies into something infinitely more useful–like eating Skittles and reading “All Quiet on the Western Front” in which people actually are being maimed and dying at alarming rates.

You rarely come across such an unambiguous situation in life.  When you buy a house or choose a college or sign an employment contract, that one choice is just the beginning of dozens of other concomitant choices that bombard you daily and could affect your quality of life and possibly that of your children and your children’s children for generations.

Not that there aren’t plenty of situations that might feel like you can’t back out of mid-flight. Parenthood, for one. Once you’ve made that kid, he can’t be unmade. You can end his life, or give him up to another mother, or be an all-around crap bucket of a parent, but those are all choices, too. Marriage is another. You can’t get unmarried–you can make a lot of decisions and throw a lot of punches and some people even reroute an entire flight to the nearest emergency landing so they can get themselves ejected, but isn’t that a lot of trouble?

Life doesn’t get much simpler than a transcontinental flight. Once that airplane taxis down the runway, all you have to do is sit there and not, I don’t know, puncture the window with your ballpoint pen. Whether you eat the red ones first or last isn’t really a cosmic decision.

Dude. Enjoy the ride.

I kind of wanted to kiss him, right above the left eyebrow, like he was a small child, but I thought that would be a little strange and he might get the wrong idea.

Which brings up an entirely different topic of consternation that we will save for tomorrow.


Unmasked?

Masks were taboo during my childhood. The rationale being that while wearing a mask you are more likely to do things you wouldn’t normally do–things you might be ashamed of.

The question I’ve been elbowing out of the way for a couple of months now is if an anonymous blog would be the cyber-equivalent of a mask. Because obviously the reason such a thing seems tempting is so that I can say the things I’d never say wearing my real face. Right?

Or.

Is this the mask? The one you put on in the grocery store checkout line, at high school reunions, and during Parent/Teacher conferences?

Call me  37 or whatever, but part of me wonders if I need to put on a mask temporarily just to find out who I really am… even while the other part of me suspects that really I just want to say things I shouldn’t.

Because, after all, the other thing our elders used to drill into our consciousness was, “If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all.”

It isn’t that I want to say bad things; I want to say startling things; I want to confess to thought processes that might make other people think. But I also know that these confessions will mostly just make other people judge me or my family or the people with whom I associate.

But if these things are worth thinking about, writing about, standing behind–are they not then worth putting my own face to?

Obviously I haven’t been writing or talking much the past year; it’s all just been percolating.

But what is the use of thinking if it just sits in your brain and doesn’t impel you or anyone else to action?

Am I brave enough to say the things that should be said, kind enough to say the things that shouldn’t, and wise enough to know the difference?

So far I haven’t been. Mostly the wise part.