Sunday, August 21, 2011

Look at Her Go! She's Really Fast!

The day had finally arrived. Ellie was leaving for college. I'd lamented this moment - the moment of my abandonment - for an entire year. And now it was time to say goodbye - to finally kick a kid out of the nest.

And she was ready to fly.

We took photos of everyone hugging her goodbye.  Here she is with her good friend Hannah - who stayed behind to man the fort with my other kids, which was no small or easy task.  Joel is in the background trying to make a stupid face because he likes to ruin landmark family pictures.

And here she is with The Boyfriend and she looks like she might cry but really she's trying not to laugh because I'm fussing at her dad who is in the background making a stupid face because he likes to ruin landmark family pictures.

And here she is with Camille, the most enthusiastic sender-offer.  Camille is going to miss her sister.  I had to take 3 pics to get one of Ellie with her eyes open.  She was wincing in the other two.  People often wince around Camille.  It is a protective measure as she is rarely still and usually hopping and jumping and screeching and occasionally she'll accidentally get you with a knee or elbow or even the top of her head when you bend over to kiss her and she picks that moment to JUMP (!).

And here she is with The Joels.  I won't go into how she and Joel were the best of friends, how they used to sleep in the top bunk together because it was their pirate ship, or the bathtub tea parties, or the forts and hideaways and endless lining up of the matchbox cars....I won't go into that or I might start crying.  

Jasper refused to pose for a picture. Ellie tried to explain to him that she was leaving. She said I'M NEVER COMING BACK TO LIVE HERE EVER EVER AGAIN. Jasper just shrugged, but I fell completely apart.

We arrived at the college town, and checked into a hotel. We went to dinner, went to a movie, and then Ellie stayed with us that first night. The next morning she'd check into her dorm.

I don't tend to sleep well in hotels, and this night was no exception. I dreamed a lot. I dreamed I'd given birth to a perfect baby.  She was all adorable and the word perfect kept coming up again and again when people looked at her and I was all impressed with myself for having had such a perfect baby.  Then I left her in a parking lot.  It was an accident, of course, and upon realizing my mistake I rushed back to the parking lot hysterically.....shouting to everyone, "Have you seen my perfect baby?  Remember the one?  You were all so impressed with her and I drove off and left her in the parking lot!"

They pointed to the dark scary woods and said they thought they'd seen her head off that way.  They acted as if this were the most natural thing in the world and weren't concerned about it in the slightest.  I took off for the dark scary woods. "Where's my baby?" I screamed repeatedly.  Finally, I saw something disappear around a tree trunk.

Other people were around, calmly commenting that they'd also seen her disappear around the tree trunk.  "Look at her go!" they said in very pleased tones.

"What?  Where?" I asked.  I looked but could see only darkness.  I took off running.  Finally, I came to a little red fox sitting peacefully licking its paws.

"There she is," said a man, pointing at the fox.

"What?  That's not my perfect baby!" I said.  "That's a FOX!"

The fox walked right up to me and I thought I saw a little smug glint in its eye.  It looked vaguely familiar.

I picked it up, and it started struggling to get away.

"Really?"  I said. "This is my perfect baby?  How did this happen?  She's turned into something else entirely and all I did was leave her momentarily in the parking lot when I got all busy doing other things..."

"Yeah.  They do that," the man said.  "She's a cute little fox.  You should be quite proud."

The little fox wriggled free from my grasp and jumped down.  She took off in a blurry flash....bushy little tail disappearing through the woods.

"Look at her go!" he said. "She's really fast!"

The next couple of days were spent shopping for last minute dorm items and taking care of things like registering, textbooks, obtaining studio keys, dropping one class and picking up a harpsichord class...figuring out how to gain access to the scholarship to use the meal plan.  She loved all of it (except orientation which she deemed a complete waste of her time).  She familiarized herself with the Steinways in the practice rooms.  She ditched us and our hotel room and spent her first night in the dorm. She woke the next morning to the sound of a lone tuba...the second morning it was drums.  She was home.

"Hey, can you drop me off at the practice rooms on your way out of here?" she asked. On your way out of please.

"Sure," we said.  Like we were leaving anyway.

When we got in front of the practice building there was a line of cars behind us. She couldn't get the van door open - it has a tendency to stick. She struggled while horns honked and Jeff fussed. I sat quietly, listening to the last echo of Normal.

When she finally managed to extricate herself from the vehicle, she sighed and stomped off down the sidewalk.  She didn't look back. The last thing I heard her say was crap.

As we pulled away to head home without my firstborn, I turned to look out the window, just as she disappeared around the corner of the building.

Look at her go....that was really fast.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Fellow Americans

So this post attracted the attention of Unity Productions Foundation, and they have asked me to share some information about a project of theirs called My Fellow American.  According to their website, "My Fellow American is an online film and social media project that calls upon concerned Americans to pledge and spread a message that Muslims are our fellow Americans. It asks people of other backgrounds to pledge, and share a real life story about a Muslim friend, neighbor, or colleague that they admire. Using the power of social media, My Fellow American seeks to change the narrative – from Muslims as the other, to Muslims as our fellow Americans."

What a lovely idea and worthwhile project.  After watching the shenanigans in Iowa over the weekend and listening to Michelle Bachman talk about Real America, I have to wonder, where would Muslim Americans (and  Jewish Americans, Gay/Lesbian/Transgender Americans, Atheist Americans, or anybody other than the White Straight Christian Americans).....where would they fit in?  Just something to ponder.

Unity Productions Foundation is a "501©3 media and education non profit organization. The mission of Unity Productions Foundation (UPF) is to create peace through the media. Founded in 1999, UPF produces documentary films for television and online broadcast and theatrical release, and implements long-term educational campaigns aimed at increasing understanding between people of different faiths and cultures, especially between Muslims and other faiths. We are convinced of the power of media to empower citizens with greater understanding and to nourish pluralism in America."

Pluralism?  Where would pluralism fit in with Michelle Bachman's Real America? didn't fit into
Anders Behring Breivik's Real Norway. 

The emerging Nationalism in America, where are we really wanting to go with this?  I've said it before and I'll say it again - If America is a Christian country...what does that mean for me?  I'm not a Christian.  What does it mean for you?  Even if you're Christian, are you the Right Kind of Christian?  You should find out, don't you think? Because Real Americans have very specific ideas about this, you know.  The Club will start out large because there will be all these non-Christians to deal with. But once they're gone...The Club will focus on itself and it's parameters are certain to narrow. If you're Catholic or Mormon or Jehova's Witness.....I'd be a trifle worried. 

First they came for the Communists,
And I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Communist

Then they came for the trade unionists,
And I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist,

Then they came for the Jews,
And I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew,

Then they came for me,
And there was nobody left to speak out for me

                                                              Pastor Martin Niemoller

Do you know any Muslim Americans?  Jewish Americans?  Buddhist Americans?  Atheist Americans? What place do you see for them in Real America?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Whereby I Wait, Flounder, and Critique Erotica. Of Course.

Dog days of summer, man.  So smurfing hot.  And I'm bored. And drifting. It's not that I don't have anything to's that I don't feel like doing any of it.  Because I'm floundering. And this floundering is taking up all of my time and energy.

I've been reading while floundering around....sweating in the heat and nervously awaiting the inevitable change that is upon me. I'm stuck in la-la land until the girl finally leaves. And I'm waiting...waiting...and so is she.  We will all feel better when she's gone and we're not waiting anymore, just because it is difficult to be in the place of waiting.  She's checked out but she's still here, her bags are packed but she still needs a toothbrush every night, we're tired of saying goodbye and we'll miss you and ready to get on with things.  I'm sad because she's leaving, and that is precariously close to being sad that she's gone, and entirely unfair, since she's still here.  We should be either:

a) Spending lots of fun time together while we still can or:

b) Missing her because she's gone but managing well enough.  As it is, we're stuck with:

c) Not really having fun because we know she's leaving and not being able to move on because she technically hasn't left. 

It's a weird place to be and since I'd rather not be here, I've been removing myself from reality with the endless reading.  Dang, but having a Kindle has made it all entirely too easy.  I about died when I recently saw how much money I'd blown on Amazon.  Yesterday, I went to order a book and saw that the Kindle edition was $14.99, and I said screw it. 

Screw it, I said!  I shall reacquaint myself with the library.  I'll request this book online and wait patiently for it to arrive.  My Kindle laughed in my face as I said this.  Really? he said.  You're going to WAIT? Once you've had instant gratification, baby,  you can never go back.

Yes, that's right.  My Kindle calls me baby.

Yes, I can go back, I said.  Just watch me!  Someone (pardon me...someTHING) was getting just a tad bit overconfident.

I logged into my library account.  And, as soon as I logged in I saw that I had zero books checked out. I was freaking flooded with relief.  Usually it says I have several books checked out that nobody in this house has ever heard of.  Did you check out the book about 19th century pottery-making???  No?  What about the one on spiritual dance as a way to cleanse the soul of psychic toxins?  

ANYWAY, so I logged in, saw that my alternative self in my alternative universe had not been covertly checking out books without consulting me, and I attempted to request a book like other people who are not missing library books they apparently checked out while sleepwalking. I felt very confident as I clicked on "request a hold." But then it said, "Request cannot be processed due to a problem with your account." Turns out I owe $13.96 for a book (probably about the origins of metalsmithing or something equally ridiculous) and I can't request another book until I pay up in person.  Paying up in person would not normally be a problem, but since Camille is out of dance for the week I'm not going to be in the general vicinity of the library and just can't justify spending $25 in gas to pay a $13.96 library fee when I could freaking have the book in my possession Right This Minute for a mere $14.99.  What a deal! What a bargain! 

I told you, doll face, smirked my Kindle.    You can't resist me so don't even try.

God, he's so sexy when he talks that way. And he's right, too.  I can't resist the pull of instant gratification. The book in question?  Is awful.  It's by Laurel K. Hamilton and it's the latest in the stupid vampire porn series that I quit reading over a year ago...had seriously kicked the embarrassing habit...but then my Writer Friend (and she knows who she is) said, "Oh you really have to read the latest one.  They're still awful but really good."  Since that made perfect sense to me, I set off to get the last book only to discover that there had been 2 BOOKS published since my having kicked the habit (quantity versus quality) and so I had to start where I'd left off.  While reading these books (the Anita Blake series) I like to text my Writer Friend to make fun of how badly written it is.  Because that's what bitter unpublished writers do for fun.  Anyway - the books are classified as paranormal romance but really they're just vampire smut.  Read them if you dare, but don't say I didn't warn you.  Now I must redeem myself.  On my Kindle I've also recently read:

The HelpSometimes I like to follow the masses.  Actually, a lot of the time I like to follow the mass.  In fact, I suspect that I am, in fact, a part of the masses.  I loved the book.  I know there's controversy surrounding it but I honestly don't know why.  Maybe I'm being insensitive.  If I am, I don't know it.  That's how insensitive works, after all.  I've read that people are upset by the heavy dialect/accents/speech patterns used by the Black characters.  I noticed it, but it didn't bother me.  I'm used to reading books or watching movies or television shows where Texans are depicted with the most ridiculous and unreal accents imaginable. The characters were 1960's Mississippi Jim Crow Times Black Characters...and I'm not saying their dialects are expressed correctly in this fictional representation - I'm just saying that some of the people doing the criticizing probably don't know, either. Anyway - I do plan on seeing the movie.  See?  One of the masses.

I also read What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. It was one of those amnesia stories - but I loved it.  The character, Alice, wakes up on the floor of a gym, where she had passed out.  She doesn't know why she's in a gym (she hates to exercise), she doesn't know why her friends look so much the worse for wear, and she thinks she's pregnant and happily married - because ten years before - she was.  She's lost ten years of her life.  The story doesn't go on and on about what happened during those years like a lot of amnesia stories - it just throws her right back into her life only she's a different person.  She's still fiercely in love with her husband....yet she's in the middle of a divorce and custody battle with him - which is strange because she doesn't even know why they're getting divorced in the first place, and since none of the things that stressed their marriage have even really happened in her mind, she sees things from a very different light than her non-amnesiac self.  It was really very interesting.  It was a good read with a satisfying ending. Who was I ten years ago and how would that person do if plopped down right here right now in what I currently call my life?  

I'm currently reading Spinning by Michael Baron and I honestly don't know how I came to have heard of this novel.  I have notes jotted down everywhere with novel titles on them.  Anyway, it's too soon to say whether or not I like it. The dialogue seems awkward and unnatural and I'm also having trouble with the believability of the main character at this point.  It could be it'll turn a corner very soon and I'll end up being enthralled.  After all - I am The Person Who Is Apparently Reading The Entire Anita Blake Series.

I'm waiting to read two books (already on the Kindle!) by authors I heard interviewed on NPR.  I always listen to these interviews with the full intention or getting my hands on the books but then I can't remember the titles or the authors or I forget that I ever heard the interview because the only time I ever listen to NPR is in the car.  But this time - with my handy Kindle - voila!  Instant books.  So I'll soon be reading The Family Fang: A Novel, by Kevin Wilson.  And no, it isn't about vampires.

The other book is called Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock.  I didn't actually hear Pollock discussing this novel.  He was discussing his latest novel, Devil All the Time. But it isn't available on Kindle so....I bought an earlier novel of his that is.  I liked how his interview went - I liked HIM.  He is an older writer.  I appreciate that.  It gives me hope.

I'm also (ahem) currently reading a bit of erotica.  I read a book review in Slate about an erotica author and the review was good and strange and I liked the language of the excerpt and I picked up my Kindle and BINGO!  Erotica at my fingertips.  The author is Nicholson Baker - he's written other novels I haven't read because, believe it or not, my bookshelves are not overflowing with erotic fiction (unless you count the vampire porn and I'd really prefer that you not).  If my bookshelves were overflowing with erotic fiction, by the way, I wouldn't admit it.  But they're not.  We're still somewhat of a family show over here in The Can.  In fact, were it not for my sexy new Kindle, I doubt I would ever have purchased Baker's newest novel, House of Holes, at allBut I do have a sexy new Kindle and I did order it. Wow!  Did you hear how much I defended my purchase. Me thinks she does protest too much...

I'm only partway in (that sounds bad considering the subject matter and the book title, but truly, it was unintentional or possibly a Freudian slip), so the jury is still out on whether or not I LIKE it.  I mean, the story is weird and the sex is not sexy sex or romantic sex or hot sex.  It is just extremely strange and rather unemotional sex.  So I don't know for sure whether or not I like it. But do I like the writing?  Yes! Very much!  He says the strangest can't just read along without being very aware that you're reading because the sentences never take you where you think they're going.  I love delightful surprises in the details.  You know who this author reminds me of?  Haruki Murakami (my all-time favorite author).  It is just the kind of erotica Murakami would write if he wrote erotica. 

It's as if the guy writes his novels using Mad Libs.

Check this out:

...he wanted to meet a nice, smart, sexy woman, so he went to a lecture on the history of the municipal water supply... Don't you think that's delicious?  See how he dumps little surprises into your lap while you're sitting there totally not expecting it?  I was like, "Municipal water supply...that's hilarious!"

...and sat down on a folding chair next to a woman with mustard-colored stockings.  Again - just knock me over with a feather there have been no mustard-colored stockings in the history of colored stockings.  He could have said ANY color on the planet.  He had the full color spectrum to choose from and chose MUSTARD and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that.   

...such a beautiful boy - ascetic looking, with a shy large toothy smile and high cheekbones and large bony knuckles and heartbreaking shoulders.  Heartbreaking shoulders.  I had to read it three times at least because I loved the idea of heartbreaking shoulders so very much. I wish I had thought of heartbreaking shoulders but most people just don't think that way. I am very much like Most People and I really hate that about myself.

Nicholson's characters speak in the same clipped, blunt manner as Murakami's characters. One character will say something supremely strange and the other character will respond in a delightful ho-hum manner, as if they heard things like that every day. That kind of quirky dialogue is a trademark of Murakami's. 

Let's see...I've pulled a Murakami novel off my shelf, Kafka on the Shore.  Now I've just randomly opened it up to page...let's see...247.  And aha!  Let's just look at this dialogue, shall we? 

I turn red. "I can't really explain it," I reply. "It's complicated and there's a lot of stuff I still don't get."

"But you're probably in love, probably with Miss Saeki?"

"Right," I say. "Very much."

"Probably, but also very much?"

I nod.

"At the same time it's possible she's your mother?"

Another of my patented nods.

See what I mean?  This is on every page. 

Baker's characters do it, too.  One character, Shandee, is having a relationship with the disembodied arm of a man named Dave.  She refers to the arm simply as Dave's arm. She and Dave's arm have ended up traveling through a porthole to the House of Holes, where Dave is supposedly running around without an arm, having exchanged it for a larger penis, of course.  And she meets a young man who entered the porthole through the pierced ear hole of a girl he met.  And here, she's introducing Dave's arm to the young man, who acts as if it is perfectly normal to meet an arm.

"Dave's arm, meet Ruzty. Ruzty, meet Dave's arm."  She held Dave's arm out.

"Hey, dude," said Ruzty, and gave the arm a thumb-to-thumb handshake. He smiled at Shandee - dazzling teeth. "Good for you to travel with somebody who is a friend."

"That's very true," said Shandee.

It could be that you're reading this and thinking, "Wow, that Sardine Mama is quite strange."  It could be that you're reading this and not getting the slightest bit enthusiastic about clipped dialogue that takes you down rabbit holes, or unexpected details like mustard-colored tights.  It could be you have absolutely no intention whatsoever of jumping onto Amazon and buying either vampire porn (and I really suggest you don't), erotica or Japanese sci-fi based on my less than professional critique, and are, in fact, thankful that you are the master of your own Kindle and can avoid erotica and Japanese sci-fi, entirely.  And if that is the case, that means I am sometimes a part of the masses, and other times.....not so much. And if that is the case, it makes me perfectly happy.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Lamenting and Smurfing

So, the lamenting about the this and the that and the other thing over there has got to stop.  I have become a bore.  BUT - for the 3 of you who commented?  Wow!  Awesome, Long, Amazing comments.  And Mark - I know how hard it was for you to write so many words all at one time....and I even suspect you had read my entire post!  You guys were great.  Thanks for taking one for The Team!

I was going to write something all happy and inspirational - really I totally was - but then....just as our co-op meeting was starting, Camille came in saying she had fallen.  And I took one look at her and said, "What did you break?"  And she said, "Nothing. But I fell on my back."

I knew she had broken something.  She had that shocky look - big eyes - pale face - rubbery vibrating quality to her.  But obviously, it wasn't her back that was broken.  She was holding her wrist. 

I am not good with Broken Things.  If something breaks around the house I just want a new one....I am turned off completely by anything that dares to be broken.  Now if you add humans to the list of broken things I am more than turned off - I become downright disgusted, nauseous, and depending on whether or not there is blood involved - quite useless.  So it was with great trepidation that I looked at her wrist, and I had one foot halfway out the door when I did it.  That's right.  When things are Really Bad...I run.  My kids will tell you that they were often amazed when on the playground, kids would fall and get injured and their moms would run TOWARD them instead of AWAY.  If my kids really needed my assistance, they had to catch me first.  Stop bleeding and we'll talk! I'd yell.

The wrist didn't look bad.  There was no bone poking up through the skin, there was no bone sticking up almost but not quite through the skin, and nothing was bent the wrong way.  I relaxed.  But I knew it was broken - because we were literally covered in the broken bone fog - that feeling that something is not right and is, in fact, broken.  Do you feel that fog when something's wrong?  Maybe I'm just special.  Anyway - I was all Mature and Adult-Like in front of the other mamas....getting ice, settling her on my bed, etc.  I didn't rush her to the hospital right away because I really wanted to wait and see if maybe I was wrong - maybe in 30 minutes or so she'd be right back out there trying to get in the tree (that's how she fell).  After co-op, however, her wrist was swollen and she was still quite content to lie in my bed, which is very unusual for this kid.  Joel The Lifeguard looked at it and pronounced it sprained.  He asked if she needed a floatation device.

We had about 2 hours until we needed to leave for Ellie's Un-Graduation party.  Dang!  I threw her in the bus and we headed to the ER - where she was pronounced the happiest patient they'd had all day.  The idea that she had broken a bone (her first) was quite thrilling for her.  She's my little attention-hog.  We were seen quickly - it was deemed quite broken - and we see an orthopedist we keep on retainer on Monday.  (He's seen 3 of my kids in the past few months - remember Jules' broken hand that happened that weekend we tried to leave to celebrate our anniversary?  You know the weekend - the one where Ellie wrecked the car while we were gone trying to celebrate our anniversary?  Yeah - THAT WEEKEND.)

I'm sorry!  I'm still lamenting, aren't I?  You didn't come here for lamenting!  So here's some pics from Ellie's party.  It was a nice little group shot and then Jeff jumped in at the last minute.  He looks like an axe murderer who's about to start picking these kids off one by one.

These boys posed to show off their new aerodynamic looks. Between the 3 of them, I'm thinking they've recently cut over 20 inches of hair off.  Austen (middle) is missing his dreadlocks!!  They hardly recognized each other. And that's my Joel on the right - I TOLD YOU he cut his hair!!

And here's The Joels.

No pics of poor Camille - she was busy being propped up on pillows and pampered at my dad's house.  Jasper was at the party - no pics, though.  He never slowed down long enough.  But if you want to know what he looked like just imagine him drenched in sweat, covered in ice cream, and fueled up by All Natural Soda.  Got that image?  Good.

It was something like 104 when we arrived at The Cove, where we'd reserved the outdoor patio for the event.  We did that several months ago, when it was in the mere lower 90's or so...and it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Rick Perry has been praying for rain and it hasn't been working.  We've still got The Gays and a Middle Class, too.  So he's just not praying hard enough. 

That reminds me.  When we were in the ER, the doctor told Camille to put her hand on her chest like she was saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  And then he said, "Oh, that's right...they don't LET them do that in school anymore, do they?"

Now folks - I was tired.  I was cranky.  I was wondering if Jules last MRI had finally met our freaking deductible.  And so before I knew what I was doing, I had opened my mouth and said, "Did you hear that on Facebook?  Huh?  Because it's WRONG.  They not only still say the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands.....they ALSO say the Pledge of Allegiance to TEXAS and the Republicans for which IT stands."  I didn't actually say the Republicans for Which it stands...i mean...i said it right you...but not then because i didn't think of it until just now.

"Really?" he said.  "I didn't think they let them do that anymore."

Who the smurf is THEY?  I saw what was coming next....because you can't mention how they stopped the Pledge of Allegiance without going into how they won't let the kids pray in school.  So before I could stop myself, I had cut him off by saying, "And they follow all of the pledging up with a moment of silence.  So kids can PRAY if they want to."  Which most of them smurfing don't!!  I remember School Prayer.  At times, I LED School Prayer because I was on the student council or whatever.  It was a little written-down thingy that was read (badly) with no thought or emotion over the crackly intercom while 90% of the kids picked their noses....God is completely beside himself now that this tradition has been removed from public schools and replaced by a moment of reverent silence.  I mean, He's so mad about it he's apparently trying to kill us with a drought!!  But that's okay because Rick Perry and His Friends are Talking to God RIGHT NOW and trying to distance themselves from the sin and debauchery (not climate change) that has led to this punishment.  Like God is gonna fall for that!  But it's a Genius Plan because eventually - it's gonna rain - and then Perry can take the credit. 

Oh wow!  I didn't see that coming, did you?  I had no intention of talking about any of that at all.  It is just crazy how things come out when I blog.  Crazy, crazy, crazy.

Since I am obviously still lamenting instead of inspiring or informing, let me lament about how, despite Rick Perry's efforts to save us, we are all going to hell in a hand basket.  We really are.  How do I know this?  Because I saw the Smurf Movie.  You read my earlier post about how I was feeling all Lame-O, right?  This spurred me to travel to our small downtown theater with the little people and suffer through the Smurfs.  This particular movie caused all kinds of Special was really THAT in even worse than Mr. Popper's Penguins.  God, you don't have to punish us with a drought.  Really.  Mr. Popper's Penguins was enough!  Stop!  I'll stop coveting, else do I do on that list?  Oh yeah....I'll stop dishonoring my poor dad by writing a blog....I'll do just about ANYTHING if you could just stop allowing idiots to create children's movies!!  I'll even stop CURSING.  Oh!  Cursing!  That's where this was all going.  I knew it was going somewhere.

The Smurfs cursed.  A lot.  Not with Real Curse Words.  With SMURF.  And I found it unbelievably smurfing offensive.  I was like, What the smurf, Smurfs?  And then I was like,  REALLY? Did you really just say "Smurf yourself?" and "Kiss my smurf"?    I was completely stunned.  And let's face it kids, I curse like a sailor.  WHY DOES THIS BOTHER ME SO MUCH?  I mean, it really really really bothers me.  I've been known to substitute the word "freaking" for the word "fu*king" and I don't think I'm fooling anyone.  In fact, I'm sure I'm not.  When I clutch my shin and scream, "Why can't anyone in this freaking house close the freaking dishwasher door???"  I think it's pretty obvious what I'm Actually Saying. And I'm not defending myself.  But at least (here's where I defend myself) I don't use the word FREAK as a VERB.  As in, "Go freak yourself."  Or, "Freak it...I'm just gonna do what I want."  Or "Freak me."  Or "Freak you."  You know...there's just lines you don't cross when you Fake the F-Word.  Unless you're writing the script for a CHILDREN'S MOVIE using little tiny blue cutesie creatures.  OR, as I recently discovered, furry little high-pitched sounding cutesie creatures.  Wanna hear about the latest Chipmunk movie?  (I swear to God if you said yes to that you deserve to have God dry you up in a drought.)  Just go to  That's right!  Munk yourself!!  This verbiage is coming soon to a toddler's mouth year you.  "Munk you mama!"  Very cute.  Also?  For the record?  When I dropped my 16-year-old off at the pool where he works and he saw all the daycare vans parked in the lot and said, "Mother-smurfer?"  I was not amused.  And he hasn't even SEEN the Smurf movie.  There's a Winnie-the-Pooh movie out and nobody's telling anybody to go Pooh themselves.  You know why not?  Because Pooh's got class, that's why.  SOCIETY IS DOOMED.  Smurfing doomed, I tell you. 

I've worked myself up into a smurfing fit here.  I need to let off some steam.  Maybe I'll just go munk my husband. And yes, I know that was a tacky and offensive thing to say. That's my point!

I think my work here is done.
Signing off as the Smurfing Sardine Mama

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Regrets: I've Had A Few

Do not read this if you're Mark from Our Simple Lives sensitive and emotionally drained and somewhat bored with my going on and on and on about The Kid Leaving.


My life is such utter chaos right now that you'd think maybe I wouldn't have time to be so singularly focused.  I mean, Jules' tumor grew, JOHN FRUSCIANTE GOT MARRIED, and I still have two little people doing all sorts of things requiring my Direct Involvement. And all comes down to Her. Leaving.

Yesterday she loaded up her two youngest siblings and headed into the city with them. She took them ice skating and to the movies.  Her movie of choice?  The Winnie the Pooh movie.  The stories of her own childhood.  She'd deny it - but I think she's missing her childhood, too.  Or at least, remembering it.

Anyway - so she took the two littlest because she feels she really hasn't spent all that much time with them during the last couple of years.  She's been super busy being her Big Non-Child Self to worry with the siblings who are still busy being their child selves.  I think she's kind of hoping that after she leaves, all their little minds will eventually remember is that they had all kinds of crazy fun with their big sister doing things like skating and movie-watching.  She's trying to trick them.  I know where she's coming from because that was my Official Plan with HER. 

I was going to spend these last two weeks together doing all sorts of crazy fun things with her.  Of course, it hasn't worked that way.  For one thing, her idea of having crazy fun rarely requires my presence.  She's been hopping around from one friend's house to the next....up to Bandera to visit her boyfriend....Mom, I'm LEAVING soon and I have to spend time with these people!! 

Before you get all teary-eyed imaging me sitting here in her path of destruction - just sitting here all lonesome -like and ignored while she visits with Other People Who Are Not Me...let me just say that I have been running around like a crazy person and wouldn't have had time to give her if she'd wanted it.  I've had no sense of a relaxing summer at all - and now it's all over and done with.  Next week is Ellie's official last week here before college - and I'll be driving Camille into the city every day for her Dance Intensive Workshop.  And taking Joel to work.  And picking Joel up from work.  And getting our co-op going again. And doing a million other things.  I won't know whether I'm coming or going.  The one thing I know I will NOT be doing is sitting around waxing nostalgic with Ellie while bestowing womanly words of wisdom.  I'm pretty sure she has a schedule planned for herself....I've heard her talking to she's not all worked up about the lack of Mother/Daughter Time, believe me.

Recently, Ellie performed at the McNay Art Museum with her Aloegretto Quintet as part of the San Antonio Cactus Pear Music Festival.  (That's her on the very end - far right.)

It was a great concert and a rousing success for these kids.  Here's a pic of my dad and Ellie's best friend, outside on the grounds of the McNay after the concert.  Hey! Ellie's Best Friend!!  Ellie's leaving and I'm going to be All Kinds of Needy!!  Come see me!!

The museum sparked a little panic. As we were leaving, I was overcome with REGRET! I suddenly had an overwhelming sense of regret about all the things I thought I'd do with Ellie and haven't.  I mean, when she was a little baby - I had all these big plans, see?  And most of them have not happened. 

"Ellie!" I said.

"Oh my god, Mom...WHAT?"  She's cute, isn't she?  The way she always thinks I'm overreacting and hysterical when in fact, I'm just using a normal tone of voice (in my head).

"I never took you to an art museum!!  Like, ever!!  Why didn't I ever take you to an art museum?  I've had almost 19 freaking years to take you to an art museum and I never did! There are all these things I haven't done with you and now it's too late!!" (Notice the exclamation points!!  That's how I'm feeling ALL THE TIME!!)

"Mom, you would HATE walking through an art museum."  Ellie loves art museums.

"I wouldn't HATE it.  And even if that were true, I should have taken you. I have totally sucked, haven't I?"

"Michele took me. Papa took me.  And they enjoyed it. You wouldn't have enjoyed it."

"But that's not the point! The point is we have things to do and no time to do them! I never took you to the symphony!  Oh my god, you're a classical pianist and I never even took you to the symphony."

"You took me that one time I performed with the San Antonio Symphony," she said.  With a smirk.  "And Other People took me."

(I'm totally whispering here)....I don't like classical music. Whenever we attend a recital or performance, Ellie always feels the need to apologize to me. "What are you talking about?" I'll say. "I love this!" She'll snort or something. The truth is, I love it when she is playing. I more than love it. I can't even think of a word to describe what I feel when she plays. I'm completely absorbed by her, mesmerized by her, in love with her, when she plays. But when other people play? Even the really good and famous people? Well, it's kind of like T-Ball.  Have you ever had your kids in T-Ball?  It's Crazy Exciting when your kid is batting.  The rest of the time...not so much.  I'm embarrassed by this analogy, believe me.  But it works.

One time we sat down in a recital hall to listen to a concert pianist and Ellie skimmed the program. She did her snort-sound.

"What?" I said.

"Oh, nothing," she said. "You're just going to die, that's all. Well, maybe this song and this song....hmmm....the rest are going to kill you."

"Are they all really slow and really long?" I asked.  She just smiled as the lights dimmed. 

I survived that recital and countless others. In fact, I more than survived. I enjoyed them. Because I was with her.

On any given evening, I'd rather sit through a piano recital with my kid than do any of the million things I love to do. Because I like her. A lot. Have I mentioned she's leaving for college in two weeks?

When she was little I took her to the aquarium with friends.  And we were both filled with all kinds of awe when we walked through the doors into that underwater world.  We stopped at the first exhibit and I read all the plaques and signs to her.  Then I tried to move along.  She didn't want to move along - she wanted to ask endless questions and have the plaques and signs re-read.  Finally, we moved on to the next exhibit.  Repeat.  Next exhibit. Repeat.  The magic of the underwater world was quickly losing its appeal for me, especially when Ellie wanted to hear all about things like plankton and ocean current patterns and oh, I don't know, the mating habits of shrimp.  "Come on!" I said.  "We've been here 2 hours and we haven't even seen the sharks, yet!"

That was when my friend, Ann, took Ellie's hand and said, "I'll read you the signs.  Your mama just likes to look at the Big Fish."

I don't think that was meant to be a summation of my entire personality, but it kind of is.  I am a Big Fish Girl. 

Ellie has always been more of a Microscopic Sea Creature Girl.

She liked jigsaw puzzles. I never did one with her....even though she begged.  I cheated in board games or surrendered, entirely.  Whatever would get it over with the quickest.  I slept through countless children's movies.  I never strung beads, tie-dyed, or played Barbies.  UGH.  I have regrets, people!  I do!!  But am I transferring these feelings to the current Little People Living in my House? The ones who are not too old to play games and string beads?  Nah.  Not really.  I'm entirely focused on my failures with the oldest kid!  One at a time, people.  Get in line.

Regrets, regrets, regrets.  I didn't sing enough lullabies.  I didn't pack good lunches.  I was never prepared and never organized and her entire life has been a helter-skelter mess of us running around like chickens with our heads cut off.  What will she remember of her childhood?  If I took her to the art museum tomorrow - do you think maybe time will all run together-like and possibly convince her that her childhood was filled with trips to art museums?  Can a lovely little fog descend where she'll remember a mom who worked puzzles and painted tea sets for hours on end?

I doubt it.

I'm afraid I've missed so much by only looking at the Big Fish.  And now it's too late to go back and slow down and enjoy instead of sighing and tapping my foot as she lingered here and there and everywhere.  I linger in my mind, I linger between words on a page, but I don't linger at the physical places...the places where I could have held a tiny hand and clung to it with the knowledge that it wouldn't stay tiny forever...those physical REAL places where we could have stood side by side looking at seaweed and sandcrabs.  In the physical world, the REAL world, I am often in a hurry to get it over with.  And what have I missed?  Too much to contemplate. 

Will she remember me that way?  hurry up, let's go, why are you stopping, how long are you going to take....

I'd like to wrap this up with something catchy, at this point.  I know you think I'm leading up to it.  And don't think I haven't tried. I've been sitting here for ten whole minutes thinking...and that is a long time for me. But the truth is, I don't think she's spending a lot of time contemplating my parenting skills.  I think she's pretty busy being herself, which is something I've always encouraged.  Is that my legacy? 

Recently, I was looking for a very particular post I wrote years ago....a post about Unschooling.  I couldn't find it but I did find a post I'd written when Ellie was maybe 15 or so.  I was talking about how I had been a little blue - feeling that I was losing her (if I'd only known then that I wasn't losing her because I am FREAKING LOSING HER NOW and there is a big difference....exclamation point) and how I'd arrived at my dad's house and looked in my mom's desk drawer for some reason....and my mom had been dead for several years.  I missed her dreadfully and wanted to tell her how my baby was pretty much refusing to stay a baby and how it was dreadfully inconsiderate of her and it never occured to me that my mom's baby had done the same thing to her.  And I found something in the drawer that seemed to have been left there for me  to find just that very moment. 

I found a poem, tucked away in her drawer.

Here's what I wrote:

My dad noticed I was kind of blue. I tried to explain to him what I was blue about but I could tell he didn't get it. Male minds are not tuned into the subtle nuances of mothers letting go of daughters. I felt the need to talk to my mom - which is a frustrating need since she is dead. I walked back to the bedroom and for some reason, opened the drawers of my mom's desk. I don't know why. I wasn't snooping - just trying to find her, I guess. I needed to touch her things. Inside the drawer I found a little journal. My mom kept a journal? I hadn't known about that. It was mostly empty, except for two entries. The date was October 30, 1990 - two years before Ellie was born. Glued to one of the pages was a copy of this, by Kilil Gibran:

Your children are not
your children.
They are the sons and daughters
of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you;
And though they are with you
yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love
but not your thoughts,
for they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies
but not their souls.
For their souls dwell
in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit,
not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not
to make them like you.
for life goes not backward
nor tarries with yesterday.

The funny thing is, I had forgotten all about this post.  And then today I found it while looking for something else.  Like it was left there, just for me to find, at this particular moment.

Thanks, Mom.  You were a Microscopic Sea Creature Girl who raised a Big Fish Girl.  And I turned out okay.  Thanks for reminding me of that.....just now.
Dang! I almost made myself cry.  I wrapped this up quite nicely, after all.

Here's the Aloegretto Quintet performing something classical by Brahms :).  Ellie's on the piano, of course!