Thursday, May 18, 2017

Proud


My oldest son graduates from high school today.  But, that's not why I'm proud of him.  High school is actually pretty easy to graduate from.  Plus, it's an expectation.  It's your job as a kid to go to school and to graduate from it.

Let me tell you about my son.  He's confident, charismatic and industrious. And yes, obviously he's adopted because he clearly didn't get any of these traits from me.  He got a work permit and a job at age 15.  Not because we suggested he get one.  But, mostly because we'd always told him we wouldn't buy him a car.  That he'd have to save up his money and buy his own.  Which is exactly what he did.  Last summer at age 17, he'd saved enough to buy a 1972 International Scout.  He was so proud the day he bought it.  He asked me to do the honors and start the engine so he could check the timing,  the first day it was home.  That's when I inadvertently crashed his car into my 1969 Karmann Ghia. (You can read that story here. )  Don't worry, his car sustained no damage.  Even though he had a car, he couldn't drive it.  Because he'd never driven a manual before.  After only two lessons with his dad, he was a pro.  Then he researched how to fix nearly everything on his car on the internet and spent countless hours fixing it up.  Spending about $2000 of his own money in parts.  He even painted it himself.


Photo Credit:  Ember Loerzel
Special Guest Appearance:  Clyde Loerzel
He loved that car.  I'd often look out my bedroom window and see him in the driveway standing and admiring it.  Who could blame the kid?  He'd worked his ass off to get himself the exact car he wanted.  Until one day, when he realized how much he could sell it for.   Then, unbeknownst to us at the time, he promptly quit his job.  And then to our complete shock,  he sold his beloved car and made $2000 in profit.  The man he sold it to was so impressed with my son, he finally asked him how old he was right before the sale.  18, he told him.

That's when he started shopping for a "new" old Scout to invest in.  And he found one.  A newer model from 1979.  In South Carolina.  That wasn't running.  And he had it shipped to our house sight unseen.  Not only that, when he couldn't secure a driver through a broker after trying three times, he cut out the middleman entirely and hired his own driver.  WTF was he thinking?  

One rainy day, it arrived and he rolled it off the truck and he and his dad towed it up the driveway.  He'd already bought the parts to get it up and running.  And within a week, he had a working vehicle again.   

Until...

he lost the key.  The only key to his new car.  He looked everywhere for it.  Then, he called a locksmith.  And determined that  $150 was too expensive.  Because, of course,  he'd be paying the locksmith with his own money.  So, he decided to hot wire the car.  And  buy a new ignition and key for $10.  Installing it took him a whole day.  But, he did it.  And promptly made two copies of the new key.  (The next day, when I was doing laundry, the old key fell out of the dryer.)  

That's why I'm proud of him. 
Because my kid has life skills...
and he can hot wire a car.   

Monday, May 15, 2017

Just Like Riding a Bike


The sun was shining, the temperature was balmy, but not oppressive.  None of my kids were home and my husband and I were headed to a wine tasting.  When I had an idea.  The tasting was only a few miles away and it was the perfect day to ride our bikes.  Never mind that I haven't ridden my bike in years.  Why haven't I done that again?  This is gonna be fun.

Just like riding a bike.

But first, my husband needed to perform emergency surgery on both of our bikes.  Because while we hadn't used them, our kids have.  And they left his with a flat and mine with wonky brakes that needed to be tweaked.  So after an hour and a half of preparations, we were ready to get on the trail.  Life slows down on a bike.  You notice how green the grass is.  How invigorating the breeze is on your face.  It's liberating.

That was the first two minutes.  When I was riding downhill on a smooth paved road.  And then we hit the dirt trail covered with small stones.  Still going downhill.   I'm so gonna wipe out.    Wait, why didn't I wear a helmet?  I always tell my kids to wear one.  And I've only been on this seat for about 5 minutes and it's killing my crotch.  It's all coming back to me now.  

Just like riding a bike. 

Now, I remember why I don't like riding a bike.  Because the bike rides your crotch.  And I'm a girl, with less equipment down there.  So, guys with junk....how does that work?  Where do you put your balls?   How can it possibly be comfortable?  And you can tell me about those padded seats and bike shorts, but I can't imagine it completely solves the issue.  This is why I don't like bike riding.  

Because it's just like riding a bike.  

And the worst was yet to come.  Because, after the wine tasting, we needed to get back on the bikes and head home.  Which was all uphill.  Because where I live in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at nearly 7,000 ft elevation, there is no flat stretch.  Not for miles.   So, we hop on our bikes and start pedaling.  

Life slows down on a bike.  Like how is it even possible we aren't even half way there yet?  I feel like my heart is going to explode.  Then, I notice how green the grass is.  And how it's filled with dog crap.  What kind of ingrate doesn't pick up their dog's shit?  How invigorating the breeze is on my face.  While a bug flies up my nose.  But it very well could've been my mouth or eye.  My ass burns, my thighs burn and so does my crotch.  

Nothing makes you feel quite like riding a bike.  
Which is why mine will remain parked in the garage. 




Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mother's Day Gifts


Not only am I a pathetic gift giver, I'm also terrible at receiving gifts.  Especially if the gift comes in the form of a compliment.  Those are the worst and I'll make you take it back.  The thing is, I'm both a little bit picky and a lotta bit practical.  Flowers?  They're expensive for something that's going to die in 3 days.  Jewelry?  I'm not going to wear it.  A spa gift card?  I'll regift it to someone who actually likes spa treatments.  

It's not that I'm a bitch,
I just really don't want gifts. 

Unless you can gift me my teenage metabolism back.  Or make my kids pick up after themselves.  And I'm talking every day, not just on Mother's Day.  Not that they'll do that on Mother's Day either, mind you.  Although, if I were presented with a trip to Bali, I wouldn't pass that up.  Because an experience is the best thing you can get or give.  A girl can dream, can't she?

Two years ago on Mother's Day my husband got me an Amazon Echo.  Which was a fantastic idea on my husband's part.  Except that, it doesn't follow any of my commands.  (Just like my kids.)  So, I end up shouting "Alexa" over and over before I start shouting obscenities, until I finally unplug it.  Last year, my husband got me a foot bath to soak my feet in.  Which I just took offense to.  Are you telling me my feet are gross?  Also, I'm going to have to clean the thing out after every time I use it, so obviously, I'm not going to use it.  Because I'm lazy and it's just one more obligation.  Not that my husband didn't try, he did.   Wait...maybe I am a bitch.

Anyway, this year, I bought my own Mother's Day gift.  I was shopping at Costco when I saw it.  They were on display, all shiny and beautiful.  And with a manufacturer's instant rebate for $35 off too.  New stainless steel pots.  And there's no way my husband could've bought them for me.  Because if he did, he'd be considered sexist.  Same as if he got me a vacuum or a blender.  But, if I buy them for myself for Mother's Day, I'm a fiercely independent, post-modern feminist.  The irony isn't lost on me.  Maybe next year I should get myself a cast iron Dutch oven even.

But, really my fondest Mother's Day wish is that buying my own gift means that my husband will buy himself his own gift for Father's Day.  Oh, well...that and world peace.  But, I think world peace is always implied.  

Monday, May 8, 2017

Barefootin'


There comes a time, after the snow melts and also after a few weeks of anti-fungal treatment because you forgot to wear your flip flops in the shower at the RV park, for your feet to make their summer debut.  Most women delight in sandal season and kick it off with an industrial strength pedicure and a coat of bright polish.  But, I'm not most women.

I hate spa treatments, including mani-pedis.  Among the many reasons for this is that I don't want to pay for women to gossip about how gross my feet are in Korean.  Not to stereotype or anything, but in my vast pedicure experience, three times, I've had a pedicure, they've all been Korean.  Wait, I think I've only gone twice.  Anyway, obviously I have a huge pool of data to draw from.  And no one should see my feet that close up.  Even with a mask on after my feet have been soaked in disinfectant.  What kind of psycho wants to be a nail technician?  Or a dental hygienist?  They are two of the grossest jobs.  I'm personally doing my best to make the job go extinct, by reducing demand, but so far it's not working.

It's not that I don't take care of my feet.  I clip my nails regularly.  Well, when I finally locate the nail clippers.  They're usually in my sons' shower.  Which helps explain the 20 minute showers they take.  Then, I use a PedEgg a few times a year to cheese grate off the thick callouses.   And I push back my cuticles annually, whether they need it or not.  So, it's a very strict regimen, obviously.

After all the obligatory maintenance is complete, that's when I go full-on glamming them up.  Not because I want to, but because with age, toenails get thicker, yellow and deep ridges appear.  Even without my distance glasses on, I'm repulsed when I look down at my own toenails.  Never mind when I sit down, pull my feet in and inspect them close up with my reading glasses on.  It's akin to looking at your face with a magnifying mirror.  Which only an esthetician should do.  Which is the third grossest job.  Extracting blackheads and popping other people's zits, really?  Anyway, this is the part where I paint my nails a gorgeous extremely pale pink that makes it look like I don't have polish on at all.  And even with my reading glasses I manage to glob it up and I will have to remove it and do it at least three times.  The third attempt is marginally better than the first, but by then I've just given up.  Plus, all my friends are middle-aged too and can't see my feet clearly from 5 or 6 feet away either.  So,  it really doesn't matter anyway.

Then, it's time for the big reveal.  So I slide into my flip flops with the arch support because I traded in the cheap Old Navy ones for a more comfortable, stable and orthopedic-friendly version years ago.   And that's when I douse my feet in sunscreen.  Even then, after reapplying several times throughout the day, I'll still have a tan line from the straps of my practical flip flops all summer long.  Which will be the least hideous thing about you seeing my bare feet.

 Do not make direct eye contact with my feet. 
 You've been warned.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Graduated


Later this month, my oldest will graduate from high school. With lofty goals and dreams for the future just like every 18 year old.  Not knowing that the dreams he has right now are completely delusional.  I know this because all 18 year olds are delusional.

First of all, they're 18, technically a legal adult, but they're not actually adults.  Because adults pay their own car insurance, health insurance, utilities, phone, food and rent.  And that's the minimal list.  The more extensive list includes deodorant and q-tips.  Because hygiene.  Which means most people don't reach adulthood until about age 30.  Or even later.  And some never even get there at all.

I was no different from any other 18 year old, other than the fact that I had a really sweet mullet and looked like Jeff Buckley's twin brother.  Yes, I said brother because I was a huge tomboy back then and I had no chest to speak of, so I was mistaken for a boy quite a lot.  Also, because I dressed like a boy back then.  Which might be why my dream when I left for college was to get a business degree then move to New York City and open my own men's clothing store.  Getting married and having kids weren't a second thought.  No.  And nope.

And then I went to college.

But, that summer before I did, I met a guy.  Yes, I still looked like I drove a Subaru.  But, I didn't.  Not that there's anything wrong with driving a Subaru, cause there's not.  But now, two of my big plans changed overnight.  I wanted to get married and have this man's babies.  I know it's gross, but that's life.  Also, the gross part is over and you can open your eyes and keep reading now.  My big plans didn't even make it to freshman orientation and they were already defiled!  

Who am I?  

The thing is, who really knows themself at 18?  All I knew was I was still going to college for business so I could pursue my dream of living in a concrete jungle, as my mom used to say.  It was only after my sophomore year that I finally figured out that I hate business.  I hate selling things.  I hate money.  And I hate numbers.  None of these things interested me at all.  Which became really obvious after I failed an accounting class.  There's no better teacher in life than failure.

So, everything I thought about myself was a lie.

But, I had to come up with a major.  And fast.  Then, I thought about all the classes I really liked and came up with Political Science.  The best thing is, there's no actual science in Political Science.  Also, no math.  Which is secretly why the US doesn't have a balanced budget.  No one in politics can do math.  It's not a prerequisite.  All you need are ideas and words.  And you don't even have to be accurate with those.  This is how I got a degree in something I hate.  Because I found it horrifically fascinating.  I may as well have a philosophy or liberal arts degree.  It's that useless.  Which must be why I went on to get a master's degree.  Obviously, I didn't get one in English Literature, cause I had to look up whether you capitalize master's degree or not.  And then I went on to start two additional degrees I never finished.  Because if I had my choice I'd be a student forever.  

But, you've gotta graduate sometime.

And get on with living your life.  You're gonna screw up.  You're gonna doubt yourself.  You're gonna realize you can't run away from problems or numbers.  That there's no perfect job, no matter what it is.  And you're gonna be depressed about all of those things and all your myriad of failures along the way.  But, none of these things define you. You do.  By what you put back into the world.  The truth is, it doesn't matter much what you do, as long as you do something in your life that fills your soul. So, share, give, create, inspire and love.  This is what you're here for.  And when you come to this realization, that's when you've truly graduated summa cum laude into adulthood.

Monday, May 1, 2017

On Reading


Every day in the late afternoon, I sit with a hot cup of tea and read.  While it may sound indulgent to make time for books, it's more of a necessity for me.  It's my solace from the responsibilities and constraints of adult life.  With my nose in a book sitting on my couch, I can go anywhere and live a thousand lives with none of the pesky real life consequences interfering.  I know this sounds all sentimental and Reading Rainbowish.  But, it's not all that simple.  I want....no...I need, a challenge.  Lately, in response to the politics of our president, I've made a conscious effort to read more books written by foreigners, minorities and women.  Bonus, if the author fits all three categories.

I'm aware I'm not saving the world. 
I just want to understand it. 

When a friend recommended I read, Reading Lolita in Tehran, it seemed like the perfect fit for me.  1.  It's a memoir.  2.  It's set in Iran.  3.  It's about a secret gathering of women from Iran reading forbidden Western classics.  A perfect fit in theory anyway.  Because: 1.  I've requested Nabokov's  Lolita from the library no less than five times and returned it unread every time.  2.  I can't get over the fact that in the book an adult male obsesses over his sexual interest in a 12 year old girl.  3. And this is the big one...I currently have a 12 year old daughter.  But, I'm not actually reading the book Lolita, I reasoned. I'm reading about other people reading it. I can do this.

So, I started in on the first chapter.  About how Professor Azar Nafisi established the reading group after she resigned her academic post in Tehran.  And then, they began reading Nabokov and that's when I lost interest and put the book down, which I almost never do, not sure if I'd ever finish it.  In the interim,  I read three books before I finally picked it up again to give it another try.  The truth was, I didn't lose interest in reading the book.  That's just what I told myself.  I was so averse to Lolita, it was to the point of being hostile.  This about a book that I'd never read.  Which when I think about it, seems utterly ridiculous.  Especially, when I think of myself as an unprudish, open-minded reader.  It's just a book.  But, it's never just a book. 

Books have power.  
As evidenced by the power Lolita has over me.
And I haven't even read it.

I was ready to give Reading Lolita another chance, reluctantly at first.  But, I did love hearing about the women in the group and what their lives were like a world away from mine.  If nothing else, this was worth another cup of jasmine tea and a couple more hours of my time.  They'd already finished discussing Lolita and now were on to reading The Great Gatsby, and other books after that.  Not only did I end up finishing the book, I really liked it.  What I look for in a book is transformations.  I want the characters I read about to evolve.  And I want to cultivate an understanding as to why they did.  

But, this book only left me with more questions.  Why am I so antagonistic about reading Lolita?  After all, I've read and loved books that are confrontational.  Ones that are gruesome and horrific.  With repugnant characters.  Why is this book holding me hostage?  Obviously, there's only one solution.  I have to read Lolita.  After all, it's a classic for a reason.  And I need to know why.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

First Impressions


Every once in a while I'll meet people who only know me from my book, blog or social media.
I really try to portray myself accurately and authentically in everything I put out there.  However, there are confines.  I have kids I try desperately not to embarrass.  Not to mention, my husband.  And I try to preserve some sense of privacy and restraint in a world that thrives on TMI.  Luckily, my dogs don't give a crap about any of this and they love me unconditionally, provided that I feed, walk, pet and share my nightly popcorn with them.

The thing is, no matter how much you put out there for the world to see (or don't),  you can never be sure what impression people have of you.  Because ultimately you have no control over how someone perceives you.  And how someone sees you usually has more to do with them than with you anyway.

So, with people who only know me through my writing, I'm always a bit nervous to meet them.  First, because I'm socially anxious, so I always feel this way about any social interaction.  Second, because I don't want to be a big, gaping, letdown.  About a year ago, I was invited to a small, intimate get together by a woman who'd read my book.  At the end of a truly lovely evening, she told me she'd wondered if I'd be funny in person or not.  And then I had that "oh shit" moment and I had to mentally run through everything I said.  Please, tell me I said something funny tonight so I didn't disappoint her.  I can actually be funny in person.  But the truth is, I'm really quite serious too.  Most of all though, when I'm in a group of people, I don't want to be the center of attention.  I'm much more comfortable one on one.

Because I'm an introvert's introvert.

When I hear things like, but you don't seem like an introvert in your writing, I'm happy to hear it. But, please know, when I'm writing I'm completely alone.  I'm not standing in a kitchen trying to make conversation with someone I've never met before with cilantro stuck between my teeth while juggling a paper plate of food and a stemmed wine glass I have nowhere to put down.  I mean, I probably have cilantro in my teeth at home too, because I love it.  But, who cares?  I'm alone.  And I'm at my most comfortable when home alone.  Unless I have workmen in my house repairing the damage from my overflowing toilet going on two and a half months now.  Then, I'm at home, but completely uncomfortable.  The only thing worse than being at a party trying to make small talk is trying to make small talk in your own home with uninvited guests.  That or trying to pretend that my house is usually clean.  I admit right now, my house is never clean.  Ever.

Anyway, skip to yesterday, when I met someone I've followed on social media for the first time one on one.  And he turned out to be exactly the way I imagined him to be.  And he said the same of me.  Which is the highest compliment and best first impression to make with a new friend.  After all, we all just want to be seen for exactly who we are, only way better.

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