Category Archives: Freestyle Fridays

Milestones

I keep writing posts and leaving them in my “drafts” folder.

What does that mean?

Never mind. Don’t answer that.

In summary, I suppose, and in lieu of actually publishing them all:

This past month I

  1. Reached a sort of surreal milestone marking the day I have been married for more days of my life than I have not been married.
  2. Quit my job. But you know all about that.
  3. Agreed to work elsewhere for $650 a month. Before withholdings.  (What?! Did I also reach the milestone at which one does really, really, really stupid things?) It had really good hours. It’s the only item I have in my defense.
  4. Quit that job–after about two weeks of training and preparation and a grand total of about one hour actually on the job and an accumulation of $0 in wages. That’s a post in and of itself. That I probably will never post. Let’s just say that I feel like I have narrowly escaped the very jaws of Hell.
  5. Ran five miles. All at one go. Me. Yes, it took me an hour and six minutes. But I did it. And survived.
  6. Was outgrown by yet another child. Not to mention that I also became the mother of a 6′ tall 15 year old. (Clarification: I was always his mother; he was never this tall.)
  7. Speaking of really tall children, in consequence of #2, reached another, even more surreal milestone at which my 5’11” 16 year old makes more money than I do. And has a significantly healthier bank account.
  8. Pondered long over the question of whether or not to call certain of my children out on behaviors that are in no way against any of our rules, but which they clearly do not want me to know about. I don’t want to bring it up, because I don’t want them to lie to me. And I’m pretty sure they will. Because they  already have… without… technically… lying.
  9. Got my emergency teaching certificate for Warden School District.
  10. Realized that no matter what job I do or do not have, what classes I am or am not taking, I will never reach that nebulous point in the future when “everything will settle down”. Because that’s not who I am. Apparently. There is not enough space in twenty lifetimes to do everything I think I ought/want/need to do.
  11. Began the most insane class ever designed to sink a student. Ever. Unbelievable. This man is either brilliant or insane. Or both. And clearly OCD. EVERY assignment (of which there are many every week) must include a cover sheet. And not just any cover sheet. His wife slipped us a sample one the other night and recommended we use a ruler and some detective skills and figure out how to design one that looks exactly  like it.
  12. Read my first Louis L’Amour novel ever. Because someone gave my boys every book ever written. It was actually… pretty good.
  13. Quit checking my email. I used to keep on top of my inbox–it was the primary way I communicated with parents and the DEL and the USDA, etc. An email didn’t come in but what I deleted or dealt with it within an hour or so. Now days go by and emails pile up and I dread opening my inbox.
  14. Sold a lot of things on Craiglist and ebay. Ergo, I still have internet access to write this. Would you believe that somebody was willing to buy the movie “Condorman” for $20? I don’t even know where that movie came from, but we had it. Maybe I should have watched it first. It must be stellar.
  15. Have archived this post no less than 6 times thinking I would get back to wrapping it up in a quasi-meaningful way and publishing it.
  16. Am going to hit publish… right… now…

Unsolved Mysteries

Watched Freaky Friday last night with my kids. The one that is as old as me.

Yes, they had color television the year I was born, dear ones.

Do you ever thank God it is physically impossible to relive your past? True, there could be a bit of fun had, sitting in junior high, interacting with teachers who I now know were just poor, confused, fresh out of college schmucks themselves, playacting at being grown up.

But ugh. To really relive it?

For four months now, I have been reading my journal entries from each day twenty years previous to the one I’m now living, and let me tell you it’s a trip. Beyond a trip. I was one unorthodox teen.

Maybe they’re all like that, and I’m the only one who took time to write it down, but I don’t think so. I don’t see my children agonizing over the intricate issues of life and death that consumed my every waking moment.

Seriously, what fifteen year old that you know owns dozens of journals, filled with years of  unsolved philosophical questions?

(And why haven’t I solved them yet?)


The Indian In Our Cupboard

More wisdom from fifteen-year-old me:

April 4, 1991

If you ever feel like you have a tiny house, get out an ice cream pail, a scrub brush, and a cloth, and start scrubbin’. It makes the floor stretch on endlessly. I think I put my kneecaps out of place today. No. I probably didn’t. But my hands smell bad.

We lived in these government-subsidized duplex buildings that year–well, quite a few years, actually. Eight I think, in the same one. Which is about eight times longer than I’d lived anywhere else. They had some kind of vinyl flooring throughout every room and up and down the stairs, and while my mother wasn’t too picky about clutter, she was a stickler about clean. She used to say that you could tell if someone was a good housekeeper by looking in the corners, not the middle of the room.

We did a lot of  deep cleaning.

The neighbors, I think when we first moved there, were an interesting family. In addition to a bunch of other  kids, they had three little triplets cuter than anything–one of whom we drove to the hospital while desperately performing the Heimlich manuever on. Why do I remember it being me holding that kid upside down on my lap wacking her between the shoulder blades? Surely it would have been the mother holding the kid? Maybe I was babysitting.

Anyway, their father was something like seven feet tall.  Or seemed like it to me. He was one big Indian. Which, to me,  was much scarier than one, big white guy. (Can I say that in a public forum? Will the NAACP come after me now? Can we relate how we really felt anymore, or do we have to pretend like we didn’t have some seriously ingrained prejudices when we were kids?)

The duplexes were made of stucco, and had big horizontal timbers between the upper and lower windows for decoration. One night my sister and I woke up in the middle of the night to see this dark face, with two enormous white eyes staring in our window. The father had had a little too much to drink (sniff? inhale?And yes, it was from this association that I came to know what pot smells like ) and had decided to climb around the outside of the building looking in windows. Eeeek.

The only other time I remember seeing someone’s face at that window was the night I was putting my brothers to bed and fell asleep reading them a story; I didn’t hear my parents pounding on the front door, and so they had to break into their own home. I think my brother woke up before I did, and unlocked the window for them.

Speaking of that family and banging on doors: I think this is the woman we hid in a secret closet we’d cut into the area under our staircase. There was all this empty space there, with just a coat closet under the tallest part of it, and my mother didn’t have a pantry, so she cut a hole in the sheet rock, behind the coats, put in a folding door, and even though we had the exact same floor plan as every other unit in the complex, you’d never know we’d gained a good twenty or so square feet of usable storage space. Anyway. I think her husband must have had too much to drink on at least one other occasion, because I remember her hiding in there and this guy pounding on the door. Shiver. I just remembered her name, too, because I could hear him shouting it.

Do you remember this Nena? Tell me I”m not making this stuff up…


On The Marriage Prospects of Whales and Lions

In light of my recent post on teens and truth telling, I think this journal entry from twenty years ago is quite fitting:

Why is it that adults think you are lying–or at least hiding something–if you do not tell them what they have already determined to be the truth? They are like artists who sit down to paint your portrait, only they never look up until they are finished, and then they are so shocked that their subject has not changed to mirror the picture they have drawn. Something must be wrong with the model, no?

They say, “You have to trust me!” but if what we say is not what they have already figured out, they think we are lying. If they think it’s pink and we say green, they can’t understand why we don’t trust them. When I say the world is round and all along they have figured out that it was flat, it upsets their entire world view.

It’s like trying to marry a whale or a lion. It doesn’t work. Not because one of us hates the other, our paths just never, never cross, never can.

For so long I thought  that adults were some semi-Godlike wonder who know and can do all. Suddenly I realize that this is me, the same person who will be here in 60, 70, 80 years. No miracle is going to pop up and I’ll be changed into an all-wise being.   I suppose I was kind of waiting for that moment, for my life to start, but then I realized that it’s me who has to start.

I think there are some adults out there still waiting for that moment.

My life, my future is sitting here, set squarely on my shoulders and it’s mine. I’ve had the materials since the day I was born and it’s all been up to me. I’ve got the tools, the supplies, and yet somehow I’ve spent my life watching for the delivery truck and a set of blueprints when really, I have my own set. So why was I waiting for someone to come out of some nebulous place and arrange it all for me?

The past is like a pile of stones. Each one a moment full of joy or sorrow. It occurs to me that I can pick and choose which ones I build the foundation of my future with.  I don’t have to pick up every shattered stone and try to piece them back together, understand and fix them all, or add them to my present or future load.

My mistakes, and those of my family don’t have to be part of the future.

Ahhh, to be fifteen and omniscient again…


Flashback Friday in Photos

In honor of flashback Friday, this week we turn to the photographic record–which (thanks to fire that consumed two different childhood homes) is pretty sparse.  I apologize in advance for the image quality. They are copies of copies of, etc.  But I did find irrefutable proof I existed in miniature (and bald) form:


Frequently in blue:

Also proof that my bad hair days started at a young age:


As did wardrobe malfunctions:

And that I really was, for a time, an alien:

And did I ever mention that I wore REALLY big glasses (not to mention ’90’s hair in all it’s glory):

It took me until 10th grade to realize that I could safely navigate my way to the photographer’s chair without my spectacles, and thereby avoid the entire issue. Apparently I also discovered lipstick:

That’s pretty much it, until I got married. A few snapshots here and there (cameras weren’t a common possession then, like they are now) none of which I have the umph to go find at the moment.

I’ve been told twice now in two weeks that my daughter and I look like twins. I think it’s just that we have similar bone structure, and long hair. Some day I’ll have to post a m/d picture and let you be the judge. PSPheonix did a few days ago, and it brought tears to my eyes, they were so beautiful. As for now, enough procrastinating the real labors of the day…


On Carpet Snorting and Building the Character of Teens

Got on my treadmill last night at 7:30 pm. Got off  three times in the next twenty minutes. Got back on. Wanted to throw myself headlong on my bed and never get up. Or maybe get in my van, drive-thru some poisonous fast-food joint and negate the entire last six months of effort.

Because I didn’t feel any stronger last night than I did six months ago. I committed to ten more minutes. And then two more. And finally a good, angry song came on and I jammed my thumb into that up-arrow and I ran a mile and a half/hour faster than I’ve ever set that thing. Ran hard because I was angry at a body that could possibly betray me like that.

I committed to one more tenth of a mile and then another and finally I hit my usual goal and then I kept running. Because I’m not giving in, not after this long, after this many months and hundreds of miles. My elbows were dripping when I finally stopped, and I paid for my arrogance during cool down–my usual three sets of twenty push-ups became one set of nine, one set of three–followed by a lengthy session face-first on the floor with bits of shag carpeting fluttering up my nose as I tried to catch my breath–and then three more. That was it–that was all I had. I didn’t feel tired, so much as I just… couldn’t… do it.

May I point out that these were modified push-ups? My knees planted firmly on the ground?

The first set of sit-ups were five shy, and then ten shy, and the first one of the final set would have been easier to do than convincing an entire room full of toddlers that silence is a blessed thing. I got about two inches off the floor, then curled up in a fetal position on my left side. I eventually made it over onto my stomach at about 11:30 and lay there, pecking out a facebook status with my pinkie finger about listening to morose and sentimental tunes when I should have been in the shower.

Getting out of bed at 3:55 this morning wasn’t much of a picnic, let me assure you.

But I’ll be back on the belt tomorrow after class. I’m blaming the arm weakness on all my dejunking and kitchen cleaning activities–you know that gunk on the top of your kitchen cabinets? Yeah, I cleaned that yesterday. Went through almost an entire bottle of 409, doing it. The top of the fridge awaits. I think I’ll leave the inside and the underneath of it to one of my teenagers. It’ll be a  good, character building experience for them…


Easy Street… Spa and Beauty Parlor?

Since most of what I wrote twenty years ago this week is morbidly unprintable or insanely boring (unless you’d like to study adolescent perception of the events surrounding the war in the middle east and the purpose of life) let us, instead, honor instead, a true free spirit. At lunch today he was very methodically coating every square inch of his skin with noodle sauce, and then rubbing his hands in his hair. By the time he was done he put all the ’80’s era rockers to shame: