I have a cousin who is 12 years younger than I, making her smack-dab in the middle of the “OMG everyone is stupid you don’t understaaaaaand me!” phase of life where you have a vague inkling you might be the most annoying person in a twelve mile radius but you will never, ever admit it. Remember?
For my cousin, though, her parents actually don’t understand; they don’t “do technology”. Case in point, my aunt (finally) has a cell phone but carries a paper phone book around because programming numbers into it is too complex. She doesn’t have an email address, she can’t use the computer that well at all, and I think she just got a DVD player this year. My cousin, on the other hand, is on the Facebook and the MySpace and the ooVoo and the YouTube, and texts and emails and all that stuff which is great – I was pretty sure that she would end up way behind her peers technology-wise and would struggle in college – but it poses the obvious problem of her parents not being able to keep an eye on her online. Guess who in her child-raising village had to step up to the plate? Now I’m challenged with walking the line of being approachable and full of older girl wisdom about boys and hair, and coming down on the stern side when she does something out of line like POST HER ADDRESS TO FACEBOOK oh my god WHAT were you THINKING?!
Raising teenagers is so hard.
I blew my allergy-afflicted nose at my in-laws. It was a trumpety-dying cat-moose mating call kind of blow, the only one I know how to do, the blow that had my second grade teacher sending me out into the hall to do so I wouldn’t send the class into giggle fits. I’ve never done it quietly. I don’t know how.
I turned to see my father in law giving me the amused and befuddled “what the hell are you doing?” look, the one that makes you automatically start in with, “I have allergies! They’re bugging me! I always blow like this, ok?! STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT!”
It’s the same look Rob gives me, but older and with more eyebrow, if you can believe it.
“You’re putting too much salt in your soup!” said Rob’s older nephew to his nine year old little brother.
“I like too much salt!” he exclaimed, a sentiment I can totally relate to.
Rob’s sister tried to calm the manic sprinkling of her youngest son, but he protested.
She sighed and shrugged. “Alright. The worst that could happen is he eats too much salt.”
This was the most brilliant thing I’ve heard in a long time.
Yesterday was the funeral of a very dear loved one. I don’t want to talk about it here, really, but I’ll say this: it was really great, as funerals go. There was good music, quirky tributes, and a whole lot of love.
At one point I went in for a hug and caught a glimpse of my mother-in-law hugging her sister-in-law over my cousin’s shoulder. They’ve been hugging each other since the early 70′s, and it hit me that I will be having these same hugs during all sorts of occasions for the next sixty years, too. These are my people, and I am theirs, and we are all so, so lucky.
Christmas Day 2007. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Puerto Rico. It’s me and Rob, Rob’s parents and his brother and sister in law. Rob gets up to go to the bathroom, and Russ, Rob’s brother, calls the waiter over. “It’s my brother’s birthday today,” he says, “so do you think I could have the waiters bring dessert with a candle in it and have them sing?”
The largest slice of cake any of us has ever seen arrives with a steak knife stabbed through it and a birthday candle in it. A group of waiters crowds around our table singing “Happy Birthday” at the top of their lungs, and everyone at the table joins in while Rob, whose birthday is in October, shakes his head and laughs.
This year, we were one night into our vacation when Rob got his brother back. We sang Happy Birthday to Russ on the outdoor patio of a seafood restaurant, and a year long score was settled. Russ, who was born in August, glared over his “birthday” candle and smirked, and we all knew it was war.
Night two was Rob’s “birthday”, of course, orchestrated by Russ again, and I assumed that was the end; they’d each gotten each other once this year. On night three, I had NO clue. None. Russ said afterwards that I looked like was “three minutes from peeing myself” because I was laughing so hard I started to cry and could barely pull it together long enough to blow out my candle. Even better, the enthusiastic waiters finished “Happy Birthday” and did a second verse in Spanish: Feliz Cumpleanos. I’m keeping the candle forever.
This is the family I married into.
I’m bummed out. My dad hasn’t returned a phone call or email from me in months, I haven’t seen anyone in my extended family in ages and I have no idea what’s going on for Christmas. I feel so un-familyed, and I don’t know what to do. I always say, “When in doubt, do the friendliest thing.”, so I’m holding onto thin ribbons of optimism that plans are still gelling and we’ll be invited somewhere soon. But this is not what I pictured being grown up to look like.
Anyway, this cheered me up… pugs are cute! Happy weekend.
I hung out with my little brother yesterday. I’m in a position where I can help him achieve SO much, but he doesn’t have the motivation to make even one step forward, and it freakin’ kills me! My uneducated parents didn’t do a good job in instilling the “you can do anything you put your mind to” thing in us; there were no long-term goals they shared with us, and there was no sense of “let us always strive to be better and press onward, through the most difficult, to the bright end”. It was always, “this is hard, I quit.” and “we deserve this luxury, even though we don’t have the money.”
I floundered around a lot when I left the house at age 20, and I didn’t so much pull myself out of it as marry out of it, which is marginally acceptable, but only because I’m a woman. My brother is still mired, and I don’t know how to say, “make one step and I’ll help you take over the world!” He’s a wickedly brilliant artist (his drawings, even the ones from when he was little, are jaw-dropping) and he wants to learn video game design and graphic design. Game design is about as hard to make a living at as fashion modeling is, but graphic design is not, and it’s a logical starting place for the long-term goal of video game designer. Sorry, snooze fest; my point is that, especially with the kind of natural talent he has, anything is possible, and Rob and I have about one bazillion friends in graphic design that would be willing to impart their wisdom to my kid brother, if only he were enthusiastic to learn.
In the meantime, I’m now trying to pull myself out of that whole mired mentality, too, because while I’m fine being married and living this life (which is really 90% Rob’s life), I’m not the person I want to be, and I’m certainly not the person that I want my children to become, which is forever my hallmark of success.
The Bible says women are to be man’s helpmeet, and I’m doing that, and loving it. (*kerBLAM!* That’s the sound of every feminist’s head exploding.) This wife thing, though? I’ve got it down cold. (Of course, I have the world’s most mellow husband to make it easy.) I need to do something else, too, in addition. But what?
I’ll keep you posted.
Sunday Rob and I walked in CancerCare’s 6th annual lung cancer walk with a bunch of family members. We needed to register as something, so we decided a few weeks ago at a gathering at my in-laws. After an hours long conversation with passionate arguments, alliances, loads of bickering over dessert and, finally, a complicated, multi-staged voting process, we settled on a team name.
We were Team Soup!!!.
(I married into a weird family.)
It was a five mile walk so nothing major, but I have the athleticism of an old brick and was pretty sure that I was going to drop dead before I got anywhere near the finish line. I ditched the rest of the team to walk solo so I wouldn’t have an audience when I fell apart.
You’re supposed to “listen to your body”, but I knew that all mine would be doing is whining the entire time, so I threw in my headphones to drown out the huffing, puffing, wheezing and sniveling that I did as I dragged my ample booty across the golf course. (I’m so sexy.) It was a nice day and a pretty setting; they had geese and trees and shit, but I didn’t really pay attention that much. That’s probably how I managed to miss a sign and make a wrong turn at one point, which pissed me off.
The finish line came up out of nowhere. There weren’t markers to indicate how far along you were, and all I had to go by for any sense of time was the Girl Talk album I was listening to. I was SO proud at the end… it was like “Go, go, go, haul ass.” and then all of a sudden WHAM! and WAHOO! I made it!
At the finish line there was a woman taking pictures as everyone crossed; based on the way I felt, and the fact that I forgot to tie my hair back, I’m pretty sure my end-of-the-walk photo looks like Nick Nolte’s mug shot.
But whatever! I did something athletic! (Nevermind I spent the rest of the day flat on the couch watching horrible reality television because my legs didn’t work.)
1. Keep steadfast in your hunt for the perfect purse. It will be worth it in the end.
2. If you don’t read the paper, cancel your subscription.
3. Irish car bombs are fun! But only once.
4. Meeting people in real life from flickr is fun and not creepy! (Happy anniversary, G!)
5. You have to let bread rise twice, or it won’t be as pretty. If you can’t wait, though, it’ll still taste good having risen only once. Also, if you need it to keep for several days, undercook it a little bit. When you’re ready for a slice, cut off your slightly doughy portion and finish it in the toaster over. Fresh bread for days! Make sure you keep it wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, though, or it will mold.
6. Tow truck drivers really do say “ten four!”
7. Seriously, don’t buy hard to register cars, like, say, vintage Volkswagons you can’t drive. Really. Really. Just don’t.
8. I build pretty snazzy shelves!
9. It’s fun to get up the day after Thanksgiving if you have fun guys to hang out with. And totally worth it if you want to score a Wii.
10. Speaking of Wii’s, you really do need to respect that they are “physical activity”.
11. I don’t need an expensive bed.
12. I don’t need two Thanksgiving dinners.
13. Photography is not too hard to learn. You should get a book, though, to help.
14. To clean vomited calamari out of your car: 1. Make your husband do it. 2. Be smug in the fact that you have something with which to mock certain friends with for a good long while.
15. There are a lot of REALLY amazing people in Puerto Rico who will help you should you find a dirty hurt dog and want to adopt them.
16. Dogs > diamonds.
17. 50mm lenses are AWESOME!
18. The iPhone is NOT over-hyped. It is awesome.
19. The only marriage anyone should ever have an opinion on is their own.
20. Rainbow Christmas > White Christmas.
21. Bringing your own shopping bags to the grocery store isn’t too hard once you get into the habit, and so much nicer than lugging gross, bad-for-the-earth plastic bags that cut into your hands.
22. When you are too sick to decorate your Christmas tree, it is wonderful to have friends come over and do it for you.
23. When you are part of a family, you can make up silly phrases, words, and songs and then use them on a regular basis. (In our family, some of them are, “Happy Dog Face”, “Happy Dog Foot”, “Uncertain Foot”, “Kind Words”, “Furminating”, “Snearaly”, “Sweetie Ears” and “Puppy Pile”. Also, the “Mountain Laurel Song” and the Song for Chubby Dogs.)
24. Rob and I have nearly the same political views. I honestly didn’t check before I married him, but I’m glad that worked out.
25. Bring your camera everywhere.
26. You can’t split a White Castle Crave Case three ways without risking a horrible stomach ache.
27. I learned a lot about the real estate and geography of western Brooklyn. In fact, I’m pretty much an expert on western Brooklyn neighborhoods.
28. Keep your eye on Tino. He’ll escape.
29. Ask tons of “stupid” questions if you’re confused about your health insurance. It will save you hundreds of dollars.
30. Dogs get colds! Who knew?!
31. Peeps are fun!
32. The dogs like goldfish, and so do I.
33. My husband makes breakfast in bed for me on my birthday. SCORE!
34. Good photography comes from the heart and soul and eyes. It does not come from the camera.
35. If you’re feeling blue, throw a dinner party with true friends who don’t care that you threw it together last minute. It will be good for your soul.
36. Margarine is the devil.
37. It’s ok to make $350,000 impulse purchases for sentimental reasons. Wait, hang on, this one I’m not sure about yet.
38. Ehhhhhh, you can cut your own hair. Well, I can.
39. If you have no dishwasher, you need to just buckle down and handwash on a regular basis, otherwise you will be stuck with Mount Dishmore.
40. Podcamp people are cool.
41. Living in Brooklyn suits me.