Friday, May 20, 2016

Oh, ye'll take the high road and I'll take the low road...

Nick and I have been watching Outlander.

We don't watch a lot of TV--although I must admit that I would happily watch more if I had more time. Nick and I agree on a series and then we watch together.

(He's on his own with Archer.)

I wanted to start Outlander ages ago, but I took the wrong approach. I was all, Outlander! Romance! Love! Hot men in kilts! Claire + Jamie 4EVR!

Nick was not intrigued.

And then finally I realized and was like, "Shall we try Outlander? It's historical, but mostly about SEX and SCOTLAND."

Nick was all, "Well, you know I have Scottish ancestry." (Oh? Tell me more...)

Yah. So we've been watching, and they have these delicious accents and I found myself wondering why it was that I never ever even kissed a Scottish guy? In fact, in my traveling youth, why didn't I head to Scotland and have a torrid affair with kilt-wearing, Gaelic-speaking Scotsman?

Seriously. Why? Why? I do not know.

It's one more thing on my list of things I will now never do, like cocaine or a threesome.

I'm not saying I should have done all those things...more like, they're choices I never made, and are now long gone.

But. Perhaps I should talk Nick into buying a kilt?

(Maybe one that matches his gold jacket?)

They may take our lives...

Happy Friday, all!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

What are you reading?

My title reminded me that I like to call Nick and say, "What are you wearing?" and hope that he doesn't have me on speakerphone, although at this point in our lives I believe he knows better.

Recently Australian Builder was walking up the stairs after our HVAC guy, who was carrying a big roll of bubble wrap, and before I could stop myself I was all, "So, Mike's not planning to wrap you in bubble wrap and do kinky stuff, is he?"

This, before I remembered that I don't actually know Mike, the HVAC guy.

I mean, I do now.

Soo, yah.

Here is the actual story. This weekend my mom and I are flying to Los Angeles. I got the flights late, and so we don't have assigned seats.

Know what that means?

I mean, beyond that fact that we might each be squozen in middle seats? Because of course that's true and unfortunate.

But what it also means is that I will have hours and hours where nobody is asking me to do anything for them. Or anyway, nobody I'm obligated to respond to. I mean, unless I'm in the emergency row, and the plane loses and engine or something.

Which is of course always a possibility and the reason I'll have cake for breakfast at the crack of dawn and then probably a Cinnabon or five at the airport.

But beyond that. No Mama Mama Mama! Nobody fighting. Nobody asking for snacks. Nobody spilling juice on their clothing and their backup clothing and then me having to work to keep their gagina covered for the rest of the flight (and yes, I know it's her vulva).

Here's what it means assuming all goes well.

It means I'll have hour after uninterrupted hour to read! Airport time to read! Plane time! Maybe even evening time in the hotel!

My friend Ingalisa just recommended and then so kindly sent me Birds of America, which, although I am not typically a short story person, sounds right up my alley. But I'd like to have an abundance lined up so that I don't find myself stuck in the middle seat without reading material.

I should tell you that we are going to LA for a memorial service, about which I am terribly sad. And I have of late been reading self-help-ish books, and would like a diversion.

What I mean is, I want no death or tragedy or self-improvement. 

I would ideally like something that is going to suck me out of my seat and straight into the book, much as that may make me sound like Thursday Next (and who doesn't love Jasper Fford?).

Anyway, you are all smart, interesting people. And so I turn to you.

Do you have any suggestions?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table

This weekend comes every year.

I mean, as they do.

Although I suppose technically they don't, in that the dates are not fixed to days, and the 15th has shifted to Sunday, when seven years ago it was on a Friday. But it is still mid-May, and it is still that particular weekend.

I feel it and I start to dread.

On Friday, seven years ago, I answered the phone at my office. It was my parents' number, and I started to cry even before I said, "Hello."

Because I knew. I knew.

I answered the phone, and my mom said, "Dad is gone." And I knew that we would never see him alive again.

But even though I knew, I held out some minuscule hope. Because this had happened so many times. It had happened a month prior. And they'd found him. Barely alive, but alive.

And do you know how many hours I sat holding his cold hand, willing those monitors, coaxing the numbers up and up and up. And, when they dipped and the alarms screamed and the nurses came running, do you know the bargains I made with God? How fervently I begged and pleaded, all the while acknowledging that I'd really not been that into Catholicism or really done any of the formal religious things, which of course God would know, because God...

So when I say I knew, it is with the caveat that a tiny piece of me was still praying, still begging. Please, God, please. I need my dad. I need him to know my kid. Please, God, let him be alive, and I will do anything. Please, please please.

He lived last time, even though they didn't think he would. He lived the time before that, even though he was, in truth, mostly dead. Please, God, please.

I was six months pregnant.

I'd believed, naively, that my dad's enthusiasm for my baby would keep him alive. That he would stay with us long enough to meet my baby, and he would love him so much that he would never, ever leave.

And then, then he left us. He never met my boy, born three months later. He never met my girl. We never saw him again, even in death.

Seven years have passed, and I now understand that I couldn't keep him alive, no matter how hard I tried. And I didn't somehow fail to save him that one last time.

I am better and healthier and no longer weighed down by guilt.

But if you have ever lost someone you loved dearly, you know the day. You will know it forever.

And it is this weekend. Every year.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day reminder

My mama somewhere in the 1960s.
Dear Lisa:

This is your annual reminder to be kind to yourself. You say this to other people, and yet you are so self-critical.

You tend to believe everyone else has it all figured out. That they all feed their children balanced, nutritious meals. That they always speak gently. That they stick to their routine and their kids go to bed on time. That they are organized and calm.

You are grateful when others admit that they, too, struggle. Not because you wish struggle on anyone, but because it is so nice not to be alone.

Before you had a child, you were a stellar parent. Your kids were going to eat organic fruits and vegetables and baked chicken and homemade lasagne. Certainly not chicken nuggets and fish sticks and buttered pasta with butter and nothing but butter because my god tomato sauce just ruins it.

Your kids eat chicken nuggets and fish sticks and endless buttered pasta. Oh, and pizza. This is what they eat. Your son likes fried eggs, but only the yolk, because the white part is gross. Your daughter eats scrambled eggs if it's Tuesday and the moon is waning and the jasmine is in bloom. Otherwise she hates them.

They like fruit. Sometimes they like broccoli. Please remember these are a win.

Before you were a mom, you were never going to be the parent who lost her temper. You can only remember one time when your mom lost her temper. Genuinely. Once.

And you know, you know that if you can remember to breathe while your kids are losing their little minds, you can remember to say things like, "You're so angry." Or, "You're very frustrated."

This stuff works. But only if you remember to do it.

When you don't remember to breathe then you lose your little mind and melt down as well and then it all goes to hell. And you feel absolutely terrible about yourself.

You apologize. You ask them to forgive you. They always do.

You're doing a better job of remembering, though. You didn't grow up with this. You grew up with spanking and being grounded and waiting in terror for your dad to get home for you to get into trouble.

You are reading about it and learning and doing your best.

You feel guilty when you let them watch TV because you just don't have the energy to interact. You should be doing projects. Why haven't you made that Calder-style fish mobile yet? You've been talking about it forever.

But honestly, your kids are bright and curious and interesting people. They use words like "lollygagging" and "malingering" -- probably because this is something we seem to do a lot of.

They're both very articulate, and Jordan loves math, which is something you do not share, but you are glad he does.

Speaking of glad, India says, "It's glad" rather than "I'm glad" and it is one of the cutest things you've ever heard. Like, "It's glad that it's sunny today so we can go outside."

They both use "may" like "would" and this you love as well. "May you pour me some milk, please?"

These are things you will never, ever correct. They will eventually go away, although hopefully not soon.

You sometimes wonder if your kids would be better off with a mother who is normal, and not someone who barely approaches an even keel on her best days. Your love is exuberant and boundless, but your lows are low.

The first thing you saw this morning was your daughter's sweet face, because she likes to sleep not further than two inches from you, although preferably partly on top of you.

This keeps you tired on a daily basis but you also love the snuggles. And you figure she won't be doing this forever.

You smiled at her, and touched her cheek, and she did the same to you. This is the kind of gift you could never have imagined.

You love your kids more than your own life. Your kids drive you up the wall. You would give them anything. You would give anything for more time to yourself.

These are contradictory and yet all simultaneously true. And more importantly, totally OK.

It's very glad that you're a mama. You love your kids. They love you.

You are doing your best. We are all balancing on an elephant's trunk while wearing a pencil skirt. None of it is easy.

Be kind to yourself.



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My space pod

I tend to complain in the evening on Facebook.

If we are FB friends, you likely know this. You may even be all, seriously, Lisa and bedtime again? Can't she get a grip? Set up a routine? Stop whining?

No. I mean, yes, we have a routine. But for the rest, it seems that I cannot quite get there.

Dinner, bath (not nightly, although usually a pleasant part of the evening), teeth brushing, into jammies, bedtime...all of these things are a potential nightly struggle. Some nights they are ALL a struggle. Some nights, none of them. This is rare. Usually there is at least one activity that incites belligerence.

If I can get them past brushing their teeth and into their jammies, we tend to be good. We will sit together and read, and then, with minor struggles, get into bed.

This isn't to say that some nights India doesn't protest wildly. Usually I stay with her until she falls asleep. This can take a long time. Sometimes I have stuff to do, and when she seems like she's asleep I get up as quietly as I can and she is all, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?

Sometimes I say I'm going to take a shower, which is true.

And then when I tiptoe past, naked because I always forget to bring my jammies, she is all, "Hey! Still awake! You're back!"

Most nights if I get up before she's asleep I tell her I'm going to clean the kitchen. She told my mom, "At night Mama kisses me and goes to clean the kitchen."

She typically makes me promise to come back. Sometimes she falls asleep before I do, but that is rare.

Recently she stayed up for over an hour yodeling and making dying goat noises.

Yes. I get it. You don't want to go to sleep.

But back to my evening lamentations.

One night my dear friend Banna, who has a grown child, said, "What you need is a space pod and a bottle of vodka."


Since then, this space pod has been my imaginary little safe haven. Let's ignore the fact that I never, ever want to go to outer space. Nor am I all that interested in vodka.

Really, it's more like my I Dream of Jeannie bottle. Somewhere personal, fabulous, cushioned, and indulgent for me to retreat to. I add to it regularly.

My space pod so far has the following:
  • Super comfy couches
  • Squooshy pillows
  • The absolute perfect temperature, whatever that means on any given day
  • Wine and martinis
  • An endless supply of M&Ms
  • Oh, and Reese's cups
  • A soft serve ice cream dispenser under which you can fit your face for easy consumption
  • All the 80s music ever, plus the option of David Bowie and Prince on endless loop
  • Orange Gatorade
  • "New Yorker" magazines. Which sit in a pile under a sign that reads "NO GUILT!"
  • Shelves of delicious fiction and difficult-childhood memoirs
  • Amazon Prime and Netflix and a really easy to use remote control where you never click something and then have no idea how to get all those commands off the screen or why you suddenly have French subtitles.
A friend asked how I'm going to dispense ice cream straight into my mouth in zero gravity and I was all, uh. Hmm.

The truth is, I hadn't actually thought about going anywhere.

I love my children more than my own life. I like Earth and I like gravity. This is where I belong.

I mean, I know I've been rhapsodizing about my space pod. But it wasn't ever meant for space. Really, it could even be, you know, a big closet.

Space pod just sounds better. In fact, it sounds a hell of a lot better than WHERE IS MY CLOSET AND BOTTLE OF VODKA?

Which actually sounds rather alarming and problematic, no?

Really, I am just mentally constructing a little retreat space that is entirely my own. With a lot of imaginary stuff that makes it perfect. It is my mental refuge from the entire world.

I intend to keep calling it my space pod.

What would your space pod have?