Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Phases of my life (this post has nothing to do with sunsets)

I became who I am in chapters. Everything happens gradually, of course, but there are phases in my life in which I've really become, when the real scaffolding of who I am was erected. It doesn't have to be anything glamorous. Peanut butter M & Ms first taught me about fleeting popularity.

I was thinking about this because my son -- who has recently been infuriating, confusing, and inspiring in equal measure -- has entered what I consider to be my own first big becoming phase. I came to be rooted in who I was, and who I would, in many ways, return to being, between the ages of 8 and 12. This was when someone other than my teacher, mom, or dad read my stuff, and I decided I wanted to be a writer. This was when I really got into animals, even after my gerbil tried to maul me and also seemed to interpret competent mothering to include cannibalizing one's young. It was when I first hiked the Grand Canyon, hiked to the top of the Superstitions, and ate leeches (the last one, unintentionally). It was when I saw someone's house burn down. It was the time during which, after a very unfortunate incident with an evil yo-yo and my face, I realized "coordination" for my body most closely resembled "OK, limbs, everyone do your own thing!" It was when I was first bullied, when I first stuck up for someone, when I had my first crush, when I discovered the word "fuck," when I developed acne, and when I realized, to my great personal anguish, that certain things about me were abnormal, some OK and some not.

A few things happened between 12 and 15. Not much. I got my period, way after everyone else. (I was thrilled. Why would you want it earlier? No, I don't "feel like a woman" now. I feel like shit. Now quit looking at me.) I read the collected works of Christopher Pike. This was not a defining time.

Phase Two was, I would say, between 15 and 18. This was the first time I suffered a great personal loss. It was when I decided to rebel, learned I really sucked at rebelling, my boyfriend and I ran for our lives from a bear (which may actually have been a squirrel), I barfed lettuce out of my nose, I got religious, I began to get nonreligious, I got engaged, and I decided to get unengaged.

Later, I got popular for a few minutes. I got pregnant. But that wasn't really a phase. It wasn't even particularly life changing.

Having my son was certainly life changing. I became a mom, and that is and forever shall be my most defining charcteristic; and screw you, everyone who says that means I'm giving up some part of my identity. I'm certainly no perfect homemaker, as anyone who knows me can attest. For one, I spend WAY more time reading science fiction fan forums than I do cleaning my own house; and also, I had a cookie for breakfast this morning because I was too busy doing other stuff -- which, now that I typed it, doesn't look like something that should make me proud, but, well, so THERE.

Wait, what was I saying? Oh, yeah. Phases.

Anyway, after that, there have been plenty of big things, but they tend to fall back to parameters set in place in Phase One or Phase Two. And you know what? I don't talk much about those times.

So now, to fill up my blog posts, I shall bore you with the entirety of my childhood.

No. Kidding. KIDDING! Please don't go away. You'll make me cry, and then I'll eat a whole pie, and then I'll feel sick so I'll look for something to drink only all we have is sugary soda because I'm too crappy of a homemaker to go buy diet soda even though I want it and my husband's diabetic so he needs it; and THEN I'll enter into a Phase Three, which will be comprised entirely of weight gain and visits to my husband's doctor, and you don't want that on your conscious, do you?

I will share brief snippets from those times. They're actually all pretty short, but they're the things that drive me. Some are sad. Some are funny. Even if they're not particularly life-shattering, they're the stories that live in my head, and thus, who I am. I'm thinking of starting with the rabid squirrel-bear. What do you think?

**I'm still doing snapshots, or going back to them, I guess. You seemed to like them, and David's got a TON of shots I need to share.

**I'm thinking of making some kind of schedule, you know, themed posts of one type or another on certain days. What do you think? (I'm thinking Snapshots, Things I love/hate, critter day, maybe even Wordless Wednesday. I can be wordless. You know, mostly. Sometimes.)

**I'm throwing in pretty sunset pictures because you all seem to like that. This post has nothing to do with sunsets. I could draw again, I guess, but I'm not sure if the kudos on that was because you were humoring me, or what. Or maybe you think my family really does have Jack-o-lantern heads, so the drawings were accurate. I did kind of like drawing, though. It captured how correct I was, right?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Things I Hate-with-murderous-rage-for-no-good-reason Thursday

I wrote this Thursday, but now it's the wee hours of Friday. Bah. It's not a Things I Love anyway.

The thing about me is I'm really pretty good at bad stuff. Like, actual bad stuff. I'm sad/angry/scared/whatever just like the next person, but I go into action. I react later, if ever. In an emergency, I'm your lady. Well; if there are no paramedics, police officers, firefighters, emergency-trained civilians, or my mom available; then I'm your lady.

But little stuff drives me INSANE. This leads to a curious contradiction in my personality, and I'll say things like "No; he's not going into a coma. Let's just keep an eye on him and if he's not better by 6, we'll go to the hospital ... HOLY CRAP; I RAN INTO THE DOORKNOB! AGAIN!!!! AND NOW MY HAIR'S IN MY FACE! THE WORLD HATES ME!" (Actual example.)

So this is more of a Stupid-crap-that-shouldn't-bother-me-but-does post. Enjoy my impotent rage.

• I was woke up with a HUGE headache, like worse than my usual ones, like my brain was trying to punch my skull and poke out my right eye from the inside. Naturally, my husband saw fit to remedy this by flopping over on top of me, before shoving me out of bed entirely. He didn't even have the courtesy to wake up and see my death glare.

• The door burst open.
"Mom! Mom! Mom?"
"Meow. Meow Meow! MEOWWWW!"
"MOM!" [I was grabbed.]
"MEOW!!" [I was bitten. Scratched. Generally assaulted.]

• The toaster burned my toast. It also burned my fingers, because I don't stick utensils in the toaster because you're not supposed to, but I can't help thinking sticking my hand into burning metal isn't much better. The toaster's a bastard. Also, I can't ever clean it completely. What the hell, toaster.

• My son was behind on his homework ALREADY. On the second day. It was only because he hadn't brought home the ridiculously easy worksheet the first day, and when I told him "Just think to yourself, 'What is it that I need to bring home?' before you leave each day," he looked at me as though this had never ONCE occurred to him.

So the next day he had double homework. But this is double easy-beginning-of-third-grade-BS homework. I reasoned with him. I told him it was only a few minutes of work, then playing and frolicking fun-time.

(Because another fun part of my day was receiving a scammy phone call that made me paranoid that I owed my student loan people tons of money, I called the real company and was on hold for a bazillion hours. In this time, I drew a depiction of my reasoning with my son. Few minutes of work, blissful kid-type hi-jinks):

He opted for a different approach:

He decided to do this FOR THREE HOURS.

• I had to retrieve the trash can, naturally, in the swelteringly-miserablest part of the day. By the time I got out to the curb, I was sweating. By the time I grabbed the trash can, I was playing reluctant host to a curious wasp. Also, the can lid fell apart. By the time I had properly abused, cursed, and reassembled the can and was hitching it back to the yard, I realized I'd been standing in an anthill this whole time and was now the proud owner of two living socks. Much leaping about and shrieked obscenities ensued.

• As I headed upstairs my husband asked, in a funny voice, "Do you want some company?"
Me: "What? Are you offering?"
Him: "Huh?"
Me: "I said, are you offering? Are you trying to hit on me?"
Him: "Uh, no, not exactly."
Me: "Oh. OK then." [I turn to walk away.]
Him: "Where are you going?"
Me: "Oh, so you ARE trying to. OK, then! It was just off-putting when you said no."
Him: "Never MIND, then!"
Me (crying): "What? Why? I was happy about it!"
Him: "You said you were turned off!"
Me: "I did not! I said put off! Actually, I said YOU were off-putting! Totally different!"
Him: "Not to me!"

It devolved from there. I have a depiction of that one too (I was on hold for a while):

I tried to make it better by explaining the difference. Somehow, this didn't help:

• Later, someone with whom I've been trying to meet rescheduled his already re-re-rescheduled appointment, then e-mailed later and canceled that one.

• I needed to finish a query, but I couldn't find my latest document because, like a fucking genius, I named the last three documents "Document1," "Document2," and the super-specific "Article."

• The computer erased all my work (all 45 consecutive minutes of it!) and informed me that I had "chosen" to do something that made it crash. (Apparently, making something italic is verboten.) Which, by now, the computer might as well have grown a giant middle finger. I get it, computer. F me.

• The cats both did their best to help me concentrate: "Meow. Meow. Meow. [Second cat joining.] Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. Meow. [Cats beginning to fight. Murderous yowling.] MeowMeowMeowMeowMeowMeowMeowMeowMeow Meooooow. MEOW. MEOWWW!"

• I craned my body around the bend in our stairs to look at the front door, and bashed my head on the ceiling. This happens often. It is, of course, the ceiling's fault.

• My husband tried to proposition me again, more directly this time. Unfortunately for him, verbal repartee is not his strong suit. He used the word "boobies." He tried to make up for it by telling me how nice I smelled, how I smell unnaturally great for so long even between showers (kind of odd, but good so far), and that it stays wonderful "after you shower, for like a week and a half!"
Me: "Wait. A week and a half? You think that's how often I shower?"
Him: "No! I just meant..."
[Crickets chirping]
Him: "I mean, not that you don't..."
[Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.]
Him: "I only meant that you smell SO nice..."
[Chirp. Chirp. ChirpChirpChirpChirpChirp ChirpChirpChirpChirpChirp ChirpChirpChirpChirp.]
Him: "You're sexy?"

• And now I can't go to freaking sleep.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Things I love, summer edition

Did I mention I was taking a break? Sorry. Break over.

It is Thursday, so here's what I love today:

Vacation. Family. How traveling to another place, carrying all your stuff in a sack, and being disconnected from most of your everyday life reminds you that really, you've brought the best parts with you.

The ocean. The ocean frickin' rocks, especially to a desert dweller.

French silk pies. I've eaten at least three this summer. The guys might have helped, but not much.

Arizona insects. What, you mean you don't brave 115-degree weather to tote around a heavy lens for hours and muck around for giant-mandibled arthropods to hold? Your loss, I suppose.

Parenting. I do it right every once in a while. I only hope it makes up for the 90 percent of the time I seem to screw up royally, and also for my complete inability to pretend that I enjoy tickling or video games. But the incident with the cat, the spoiled milk, and the plastic planets? Nailed it. The question -- "Is God really really real? How can we know if he's real or fake?" -- posed while we were covered in sweat, dirt, camera gear, and the aforementioned giant-mandibled arthropod? Postponed thirty seconds, then nailed, I think. The extended middle finger behind my back? Happened to "miss" that one, which I think is nailing it, given the apology/hug that quickly followed.


Tom French. He was one of my MFA mentors, and I believe I've rhapsodized about the guy before, on other blogs if not this one. He's got a new book out, and you really have to read it. If you like animals, if you like zoos, if you hate zoos, if you're not sure. Whatever. Just go read it. I remember Tom telling a story during residency about when he was a kid -- he would climb trees, hide up there for hours, snoop on his neighbors, and become simply enthralled by their lives and their stories. ALL their stories. I think that's the thing. He doesn't take sides, or rather, he takes all sides. I don't know anyone better at getting to the heart of a story.

Finally sort of getting this marriage thing right. We're keeping the house clean! Without fighting! PLUS we kiss passionately enough each day to gross out any 8-year-olds in the vicinity.

Octopuses. For everyone who booed my booing of Paul the Psychic/Prescient/Whatever Octopus, I really really love cephalopods, kind of more than is normal. So there. P.S. It's "octopuses," not "octopi." The "i" is only used to pluralize an "us" if it's a Latin word; whereas "octopus" is more of a Latinized Greek word. I'll accept "octopodes," in a pinch. (See; you can be sure it's still me. Who else is so pedantic about these things? Well, half of you, probably. But my husband and his friends the other half likes to make fun of me.)

I love lots of other things, but I'll want to be even longer-winded about each of them. Also, snapshots to come. How's everyone's summer going?