Biente

My mother's birthday was Saturday. Wait - maybe it was Wednesday. If it was Wednesday, then my little brother whom I don't talk to anymore had a birthday on Saturday, but I kind of feel like his was Wednesday. He'll be thir...*I'm39minusthreeyear*...tysix. He'll be thirty-six now. My mother? Christ. She was either 23 or 25 she had me and her mother was 18 when she had her and she married my dad when one of them was 18 and my dad was born in 49 so I think maybe she's 63ish? 

This one time I tried to do Ancestry.com and I got stuck at "grandmothers' middle names." My family is *amazing* at secrets. 

I used to get so mad at people when I was in school and they would, in all sincerity, ask me questions like, "If you don't celebrate your birthday, how do you know how old you are?" Because math, maybe? I couldn't understand how they couldn't understand that not having a party didn't equate not counting years. Of course, they had never not celebrated a birthday and I never had, so neither of us were going to understand. They never woke up on their 10th birthday to Tuesday.  I'd never woken up on the day of my birth to anything other than whatever the hell day it was that day.

Until I turned 19.

On my 19th birthday, my father threw me a party. He threw me a first birthday party, because he'd waited 19 years to do it and he wasn't about to let either one of us miss out on the Pooh decorations or the 101 Dalmatians cake or the Perma Frost shots until I couldn't walk a straight line. What? Everyone gets their minor child completely shit-faced at her first birthday party, shut up. (If you don't know what Perma Frost is, I envy you your childhood.)

After that, I kind of got what those kids couldn't understand. I got how a birthday meant something completely different when someone else, anyone else, acknowledged it.  39 years into being my mother's daughter I have no idea what her birthday is, and only a vague guess as to her birth year. I don't know any of my siblings birthdays (except the one I still talk to, and I get his wrong by a day on either side every damn year) and I won't because they don't celebrate them so there's no reason for them to tell anyone, and less reason for anyone to remember. 

I've been alive for 39 years, but I just had my 20th* birthday** a few weeks ago. That means next year? 40/21. Everything bad happens for a good reason, people. #vegas

My friend Ben the Blue Lobster tagged me in this Facebook meme where he picks an age and you talk about where you are now vs where you were then. Perfectly, albeit unwittingly, he picked 20 for me. I'm supposed to do this on Facebook but this is 20. We do what we want.  

<meme>

Where I lived then: I started my 20s living in Denver (well, in Arvada, which is just northwest of Denver and just southeast of Boulder and hasn't made pot legal yet, in case you were wondering) with my dad and step-mother. This was the year I moved into the one and only apartment I'd ever live in as a single woman. I loved that apartment. I loved the autonomy, the silence, the power that comes from being completely unhinged to any one or thing. I lived in the apartment on top of the office of a storage facility in Golden, CO, and every evening, so long as I looked up and out, and not down, I watched the Rocky Mountains devour every delicious ray of sunlight. I learned more about myself in those months than I think I have in all the years since. Aside: If you've never seen a sunset in Colorado, you've simply never lived.

What I drove: I'd just traded in the car my dad gave me when in my senior year, his 1983 Datsun Nissan Stanza red stick shift that I rode in with all six of my immediate brothers and sisters as a child, and all of my high school friends as a senior. We drove up to Boulder every Friday night - moonroof open wide, BADII blaring from the cassette player, our ironic berets nearly blowing away in the gusts of cold mountain night air, the car barely making it up the incline from Louisville to Boulder on I-36. My two little brothers vanished with their mother (for good reason) in the mid-eighties, and didn't resurface again until the mid 2000's (thank you MySpace) and that car was the last physical tie I had to them. When I traded it in for my Mitsubishi Eclipse in burgundy with a turbo-charged engine and an adaptor port for one of those compact disk players that year, I found one of my little brothers' army toys buried beneath the seats of the car and had one of the best cries of my life right there in front of the car dealer.

Who had my heart: I was right in the beginning of the end of a relationship with the one guy who'd ever been genuinely nice to me in my entire life. Even when we were in high school and I was fixated on the idea that he was the one, the answer, the beginning and the end - and he couldn't get far enough away from me fast enough - he had still been nice to me. We dated for years after high school and I pushed him away every way I could during that time. When I was 20, I met some guy at work. He wasn't nice to me. He pushed me away. Obviously, I had to have him. I didn't even try to get him for a long time after, and didn't success for even longer, but at 20 I knew he had me, and I think he knew it, too. 

Where I live now: I grew up in the actual 'hood, and the road I've traveled so far has taken me from So. Philly/Northern Delaware way up & over to Colorado, then all the way up to Canada and all the way down to Texas and across to Arizona. All long, I've dreamed of living on a farm. If i had my way, I would own some land, grow my own food, keep a few animals. Nothing major, nothing profitable, just a life that includes simple, quiet contact with the earth. I didn't quite get my way, but I came pretty close. I ending up settling down for the long haul way in the very suburbanized end of a cozy little farming community on the outskirts of the San Francisco Bay area.

Yes, there is a farming community in the bay area. No, not even the people in the bay area know where it is. (It's that impossibly far away place where you have to drive your kids to play soccer in the summer.)

I don't live anywhere near the cable cars San Francisco is famous for, and there are no fog-lined bridges near my house. My neighbor lives in an old cottage and keeps goats, and the biggest town event of the year is the local corn festival (NorCal Corn Capital, representin'). You have to drive through either an enormous wind farm or 11,000 acres of active farmland to get to my house. It takes me as long to drive to the city in traffic as it would to drive to Lake Tahoe. We can pick our own fruit; hell, we could grow it if we weren't so lazy. I pretty much got exactly what I dreamed of and I have a nice basil and mint plant-thing growing in in my kitchen windowsill for happy hour to show for it. 

What I drive: I had a five-passenger Jeep, and Jim has a five-very-skinny-passenger Volvo. We have five kids between us, so we needed something bigger, and there was no way we were going to live in the one place in Northern California where you can get away with owning a truck and not own one. So we bought this.

suburban.png

I'd like to tell you we bought it so that we could get everyone around town one car, but I'm really pretty sure that one of us bought it to play Toby Keith real loud and also this.

Who has my heart: This is the year that I legally ended my relationship with that guy I met when I was 20 who wasn't very nice to me most of the time, but did end up giving me the three greatest gifts I ever could have asked for. He didn't have my heart for very long, mostly because once I realized what my heart was in for with him, I took it back and hid it in a deep, dark box inside of myself where no one would ever find it and fuck with it again. Except I underestimated this guy. He saw right through my heartless facade and over time, over years, he helped me remember what corner I tucked my heart away into. He helped me find the courage to go into that deep, dark place and re-examine what I'd hidden away. His faith in me was constant and pure, without condition or pretense. He offered me nothing but support, and he asked for nothing in return. He taught me to trust again, to open up to the possibility that my life could be different, even good. He showed me what I looked like through a lens not warped by co-dependence, but one bent for potential.

This thing that I have become, it is all because of him.

Who has my heart now? I do. I have it and I feel it and I follow it and I trust it and I'm grateful for every hole poked in it, because they are the spaces he was born to fill. Who guards it and nourishes it and heals it and drives the very beating of it? This amazing, wonderful, funny, beautiful, intelligent, creative, ridiculous, driven, inspiring, loving, passionate, protective, nurturing man. This guy that makes every single thing I had to get through to get to this point in time with him worth it. This guy that brings order to my chaos and reason to my insanity. This guy that is my perfect complement, and my exact counterbalance. This guy that takes my breath away every moment he is alive, either in awe or laughter. He also has my tackle box.

This is a pretty big deal.

</meme>

*I also recently had a 22nd birthday. I have 19 years of missed birthdays to catch up on. Judge not, friends.)

**HTML is fun

If You're Going to Be the Worst Parent Ever, Make Sure You Have a the Best Co-parent Ever

The Tooth Fairy didn't make it to our house last night. This is a huge problem.

In the decade that she and I have had to work together to manage the extraction of baby teeth from out of little faces and under little pillows, she's not been able to complete her end of the deal a only a handful of times. There are numerous reasons why the tooth fairy has missed picking up a tooth - usually, it's simply that the tooth was dirty. Everyone knows the tooth fairy doesn't take dirty teeth. This is why you have to brush twice a day every single day, because you never know when one's going to fall out. Once she had the stomach flu (no one is immune from that BS),  and once or twice she's embarrassed to admit she's been a little drunk. What? Tooth fairies have parties, too. Who's going to be the DD for the freaking tooth fairy? You want her to drink and fly? Didn't think so. She very responsibly stayed home, feels terrible about the entire thing today, and won't be making that mistake again for a very long time.

But last night, conditions were perfect. It was Thursday night, a work night and hardly a night for revelry. We waited until every single one of us was home from work and school to go out back and call the tooth fairy, making a wish on the brightest, firstest star we saw that night - and we all made really good, sincere wishes out loud that she'd come and take 3of3's tooth. The tooth itself was carefully tucked under the perfect spot on the pillow - not so deep that she wouldn't be able to reach it, not so close to the edge that it might fall out onto the floor if 3of3 had a restless night's sleep.

We did everything exactly right, and still the tooth fairy didn't come. Needless to say, 3of3 was devastated. 

When she handed her tooth to me in the kitchen this morning, I looked closely at it. "It was probably dirty, honey. You know she doe...." "No mom, I brushed it extra last night before i went to be to be sure it was super clean." 

Oh shit. 

"Well maybe she...maybe we...um..."

"She just didn't COME, mom. She just FORGOT about me."

My 15 year old walked in, and I asked him, "Hey, why did the tooth fairy miss you when you were little?" He grumbled something very tired and 15 back at me. I tried to find a silver lining. "But didn't she always leave you extra when she missed a night?" He glared at me and said, "I don't remember. I just remember her not coming."

Ouch. 

I went over to 3of3, offered her a baggie for her tooth, and gave her a hug. Jim came into the kitchen and asked what was up. We told her the tooth fairy hadn't come, and 3of3 was just so sad about it, and he said, "Well of course she didn't come. Didn't you read the news?"

3of3 looked up. So did I. So did the 15 year old trying to not be a part of any of this. 

"Polar vortex," he said, while he brewed his coffee. "Reuters had a whole article about it. Public service crews are all jammed up, up and down the eastern seaboard. The tooth fairy was grounded, like my plane was the other day coming home from my trip to New York. She didn't get to a single kid last night."

"OOOOOH," 3of3 said. 

"I'll print the article out for you today while you're at school," he said back to her. 

She smiled, and went back to eating her oatmeal. I offered to put her tooth back under her pillow, in case the tooth fairy spent some school hours catching up on pickups, but she said she didn't think that was very likely. 

She went off to school, and I went upstairs and got to work. I was on a conference call when Jim left for work, but I found the news article on my desk for her, printed out just like he promised. Apparently, she's so backed up FedEx has stepped in to help her out, and they're expecting possible delays of up to two days. 

Thank goodness someone in this house knows how to read the news in the morning. Also, Photoshop. 

Write

I got this text message today from my friend and great mentor:

Deb Write.jpg

Sigh. 

I was telling Jim last night in bed that I actually miss blogging, it's been so long. Of course, I followed that up this morning with reading all of ShitFoodBlogger's tweets to him. Yes, I'm aware I'm doing Bedtime with Busydad wrong. 

The best I've got right now is that I heard this NPR piece about memory yesterday (or maybe it was the Christian radio station. They're always tricking me into listening to their shows, with their nearly-secular news bits and catchy and slightly emo pop Jesus rock) and it made me realize that I need an actual doctor/scientist/expert to explain to me why it is that I can't remember how many years I've been alive or the names of the three people who dug their way out of my Holiest of Holies, but I can right now without even THINKING about it recite the name of each book of the Old Testament to you, in order, or all the words to Cool It Now (even the raps, yo), or the entire 1988 McDonald's menu song (now in two breaths; getting old is hard). 

Audre Lorde says that everything can be used, except what is wasteful, and I suppose I'm still young enough that I haven't yet had to figure out how I'm going to need the lyrics to New Edition songs, but old enough to know that being able to recite all the books of the Old Testament out loud in order may just come in handy sooner than I'd care to admit. (I never did get my free McDLT for singing the whole damn menu song, though. I think I'll write a letter. I hope that counts, Deb.) 

What I do know, however, is that I can't start sentence with But anymore, which makes blogging quite challenging, and also that everything has changed so much since the last time I really, truly *wrote* on this blog that I don't even know where to start with it all. Our memories are terribly and hilariously subjective; each shift of angle, of experience, of perception changes them with radical unpredictability. I believe that you have to write what you know, and what I've always know is this pile of remembered shit I've drug around with me like the most unwilling sort of companion. 

I know it because I haven't been willing to let myself know much else. My husband gave me nearly nothing, and I held on to that almost-void with all the strength I had. But now (that was hard, but I did it) I'm one four-hour online parenting class away from not being married to him any longer, and I'm okay with that. Somewhere in this down/quiet-time I've found my peace with him, with all of it, and let go of that wonderfully familiar nothing I've been clinging to. 

I don't need nothing anymore.

I don't even want it.

That's a pretty big deal, for me. 

I have all these posts in draft - stories of this new life that we're building, new memories we're making in a new place with new people where the slate is clean for all of us, where we can decide what we want to be now, where we are equally as excited and terrified of the possibilities laid out before. It's hard to write it out, largely because I don't know a single thing about it yet...but I want to. 

I heard Jim say to one of his clients the other day (and I'm paraphrasing) that what bloggers have that no other form of media has is emotional attachment; our readers are a part of our narrative, they are invested in the stories of our lives. I remember what that was like, feeling like my story mattered to more than just me. I'm going to try to start writing this new story, with these new players, in this new place that I don't know, but I'm excited to discover.

Ancient Chinese Secret

I've found the solution to the work/life-slash-life/blog balance issues everyone is trying to figure out. Ready? The answer is simply this - don't update your blog. 

*** 

I got sick three and a half weeks ago, one day after Jim got sick, and up until this Monday, we were both more or less useless. I couldn't stay awake for more than 30 minutes and he was coughing so hard for so long that I started to smell his clothes for meth. I feel as though three solid weeks without a moment of rest from illness is unreasonable really, especially when it hits both of the adults in the house at the same time but leaves the children more or less unscathed. I'm pretty sure this virus we have is the reincarnation of Mao, doing his best to knock off the remaining adult intellectuals so he can take over the world. 

Or, you know, it's the 2013 version of Bruce Lee's samurai demon coming to take our asses down because Jim keeps telling his gwai lo girlfriend all the ancient Chinese secrets.

Secrets like this one.  

Ancient_Chinese_Ramen_Secret.png

You think you know ramen, but you don't know ramen. THAT is ramen. That is ramen with chunks of vegetables in it, ramen that burns when you eat it because you aren't supposed to know about this ramen. You're supposed to be eating the ramen you bought in the styrofoam cup at Wawa. This ramen is secret. It's sacred. (It's Korean.) It's amazing. It's like two dollah or something at Ranch 99. 

It's also the only thing that will make you feel better when you contract a raging sinus infection three short days after the 3 1/2 week pox was lifted off of your house, and I'm pretty sure now you have to tell someone about it or a creepy little girl will melt your face off in seven days. (Wait. that's Japanese. Shit.)  

 

42 Ways to Write a 309-Word Freudian Slip

Every day in my social media streams I see a handful of 15 reasons to ____ or 7 way to ____ and it is driving me crazy because I'm in marketing, I see what you're doing there, but also because I have been doing this for nine years which means I am an overbearing preachy know it all who had to code her own sidebar content boxes that weren't even called widgets yet uphill both ways in blogspot and do you even know what FTP is? Get off my CSS. 

But thankfully, my dear friend Denise Tanton reminded me - with her signature graceful eloquence - that there are multitudes of opinions about how we write blog posts, which work together to create a vast and diverse blogosphere, and each viewpoint is as valuable and important as the others.  

And she even went so far as to demonstrate her point for me. Read it here.  And that got me thinking about all the great (read: not pseudo-marketing formulaic SEO click bait pointlessly numbered) list-posts I've read over the years, and the few I'd even written myself (there are a few here, here, and here) before I decided no one should write them anymore, and that somehow turned into a group of us co-chairing The Sigmund and Freud Cross-Dressing Six Flags Sexy Sexy Safari Tours, or something like that. 

I'm not entirely sure.

The internet moves fast.

Keeping up is hard. 

Awesomely enough, this random post I was writing so I could keep avoiding the giant herd of elephants in this here room on the internet has somehow brought me around to that giant herd of elephants in this here room of the internet, comprised of everything I haven't found a way to publish yet, for one reason or another.

The human psyche is a dick.

Bygones. I needed a segue into the rest of my life, because really, two months of dodging elephants is exhausting. Also, not as good for the glutes as you'd guess. 

And so partly to let Denise know that I heard her, and hopefully avoid getting thrown into the lesbian tiger pit (though if it's the lesbian cougar pit, SIGN MY SHIT UP) and more-partly because I now have more posts in draft than I do published, I thought I would write a list post of my own, wherein I gloss over a whole lot of pretty important information* that really should go into a series of long, deep, meaningful posts, or, you know, MY BOOK, but you know. 

Things ain't nobody got time for:

  1. That.

HOLY DIGRESSION. I think it's time to just list out everything I'm not writing, and then maybe start publishing all the posts I have in draft line item number by line item number.

Color by numbers blogging. And I bitch about the list-makers. 

So. 

  1. I moved.
  2. To Northern California.
  3. And to Busy Dad.
  4. Over the first week of July, which was in-between BlogHer Food and BlogHer 13. Which is the perfect time to move. 
  5. If you hate yourself.  
  6. But I hate Arizona, and love Busy Dad, more.  So I moved.  
  7. And here is where I have to give my kids' father massive props for letting us go, because really, he totally could have said no and then we would have been stuck in that god-awful place for like ever and really, i would rather not-quite-die but you know what I mean than stay there one more day.  
  8. Of course, he has been nothing short of a  
  9. Chump ass
  10. Crying in his beer
  11. Breast-feeding
  12. Motherfucker
  13. To me ever since we moved, but he let me move. There am I happy. 
  14. And I know he's reading this, which is a lot of why I can't write anything anymore, because try having your ex of 20 years read your diary as you write it, but I found and read some of his journals, too, so quid pro quo, bitches. 
  15. And of course my daughter started having massive panic attacks the day before I left for BlogHer '13. 
  16. And her fish died the morning I left. 
  17. Because GAH. 
  18. But my teenage son stopped talking about killing himself. 
  19. No, I am not telling you which one. That's his business. 
  20. But you should watch this video from VOTY or read the post here on Adrienne Jones' blog No Points for Style, because we have to be talking more about our kids' mental health as a community and I for one have no idea how or where to start, so I am eternally grateful that she started for us.  
  21. Also, I got to spend, like, quality time with
  22. Queen
  23. Motherfucking
  24. Latifah
  25. at VOTY.
  26. There isn't one single picture of us together. 
  27. But man does she say Mistah Laydee just riiiiiight. 
  28. And now BlogHer is over and I am at the doctor kind of a lot with my daughter, who seemed to turn a really large corner a few weeks ago and is even putting herself to sleep at night again. 
  29. Baby steps on the bus.  
  30. And then I learned exactly how fun it feels to have your child tell you he hates you
  31. And mean it
  32. And have reasoning and facts backing up why
  33. And not being able to do a thing about it, because being the sober parent means you get to take the punches and keep wobbling back up and being the consistent, even, rational, not-emotionally-outbursty one and just hope he remembers it on the other side.  
  34. Which I think/hope he will, because holy SHIT do I love him
  35. Even if I never even wrote a post for him on his 15th birthday which was 4 1/2 months ago
  36. Best. Blogger. Ever.  
  37. But I'm getting much better at Facebook
  38. Which really isn't something I ever wanted to brag about, but here I am, checking Facebook alone in the dark and getting busted by my step-son who makes really funny faces at you when you get busted checking Facebook alone in the dark
  39. But not as funny as this face 
  40. Nothing is as funny as that face
  41. Except maybe watching BusyDad load up a grocery belt
  42. But that is a story for another day. 

And hopefully now I can start writing it. 

 

*For me. It's possible that maybe it isn't as important for you.