Monday, August 31, 2015

Netflix Emergency Preparedness Plan

We were supposed to have a tropical storm this weekend, but Erika was weak and disorganized and fell apart -- a plan of action that mirrors many of my own. We honest to God had more rain during our vacation at the beach house, without the excitement of a named storm.

I was really well-prepared for a weather event so I honored that and worked from home, secure in my bedroom fortress, wearing pajamas and well stocked with snacks and supplies. There wasn't really a storm though, just a steady gray drizzle, but I consider this a successful dry run.

Since the family wasn't able to attend the weather event dress rehearsal, I went ahead and binge watched Don't Trust the B in Apt 23 once I wrapped up work. Now I will feel obligated to laugh at all of the jokes like it's the first time I've heard them since the show used to be something Mr. Ashley and I enjoyed together each night, one episode at a time. It was worth it, though. I never watched while it was on the air because the title is awful and I don't like girl friend shows, but I am glad I happened upon it because it is hilarious. I don't know the last time I've laughed out loud so often, I'm going to be sad to get to the end. Maybe I shouldn't have watched ahead.

I also watched Secret of the Kells over the rainy weekend, which was on Netflix a long time ago and then disappeared for a while. little kid and I loved it then and we love it now, it is so beautifully animated and unique.

Another new favorite is Freakshow, even though it seems a little contrived and occasionally offensive. It's a reality show featuring the family that runs the Venice Beach Freak Show and they seem nice enough but they have a two headed baby in a jar and that's sad.

So, there's a peek at my weather event preparedness plan. Please take not-quite-a-tropical-storms seriously and prepare your queue accordingly.

Please note: I'm a member of the Netflix Stream Team but that doesn't affect my opinions, just my productivity. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Wonder of 9

Yesterday was your birthday. You turned 9 and I know it will suit you well.

Everything does -- from the sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of your tan little nose to the little spike of hair at the crown of your head -- you are vibrant with life and excited about its possibilities and it shows on your happy little face.

You chose Chinese food for your birthday dinner and your fortune said, "Age is just a number, it's how young you feel inside that matters," and you were delighted at this bit of serendipity. You always exclaim about your good luck but I think it's your sense of  gratitude that creates your good fortune. I believe you will always feel young inside.

You still play with toy soldiers. You look for treasure. You play in the dirt with friends. You need hugs from your brother even when you're fighting. You catch and release fish and weep if they die. You make friends effortlessly. You dream of being an engineer or the owner of an tiki hut camping resort with an exotic pet store on site some day.

I hope you're always like that. You are a wonder to behold.

Tonight you proudly presented your clean bedroom and bathroom that you had worked on as a surprise to thank me for giving you such a nice birthday. Every day there is some bit of sweetness, some gift of kindness from you, and every day there is laughter. You are a gift in and of yourself.

9 will be amazing because you are. Stay young forever, I think you can do it.

Happy birthday (yesterday. I was busy birthday-ing you).

I like you, I love you, and I'll always protect you,

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Teen Spirit

School started on Monday, a fact that caused much angst around here. Mostly from one person. A person at an age where life is extremely dramatic.

Whenever school was mentioned -- always accidentally since we all knew not to mention it -- this person would start with the complaints.

"Seriously, what is the deal with you and school?" I finally asked him.

"It is pointless! It never ends, it's all about everything you don't know and your performance on some test is the only thing that really matters. It's always about moving on to the next thing."

"'s learning! You don't know everything yet, and of course they have to move on to the next thing. I don't even know what you imagine changing about this system, the entire point is pretty much to learn one thing and then move on to new things," I replied, confounded.

This was the wrong answer. Any answer was the wrong answer. Anything you say to an irate 7th grader is likely to be the wrong thing.

"It doesn't matter. None of it matters. I'll end up working for Target for $5 an hour, unable to support myself until I die of old age."

I'm at a phase of life where Target sounds like a pretty sweet gig. No offense Target employees, but how stressful could it be? And there's the employee discount and you get to look at things. I wondered why he chose Target in this rant.

"Well, at least you know what you don't want! That's something! Start there. Do you even know the opportunities available to your generation? And your dad and I totally support whatever you want to do or be -- no one is demanding you grow up to go to med school. You don't have to work retail or in a cubicle if you don't want, you could have a career where you work for yourself, pretty much right out of the gate but it will take hustle! Go to art school, write comics, build computers, do whatever you want! Nurture your creativity and find skills that will help you leverage your talent for profit. But you will have to do things you don't like. You know, you could learn to code,  and by the age of 16 you could be building websites for clueless middle-aged business people! You could be making $1000 or more a pop! And then grow into your own business after college but you have to cultivate your interests and do the hard work, even if it's boring now. The world is your oyster, you need --"

Both boys had been watching this speech intently and little kid interrupted, "Wait. The world is his oyster? Why would you say that, mom? Like, the world is your seafood, son, but not even expensive seafood like lobster, just an oyster -- one oyster -- which is probably what, like, a dollar? I don't even know but I don't think it's that big of a deal. The world is your oyster, mom? I mean, really?"

I paused and realized it is a weird thing to say. "That is a thing people say, I didn't make it up. It means that you're the pearl and that --"

Big Kid started ranting again. "Yes. It means that I am TRAPPED in this WORLD and that a seagull will probably SWOOP down and pick me up and POOP ME OUT wherever! I have no control!"

"Okay, well, we lost all momentum with this discussion. Do what you want but school is starting and you have to go."

I was on a roll for a minute there. I'm new to this whole practically a teen thing, it's super tricky.

We're almost one week of school down and he says it's slightly better than prison so I think it's going really well.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Power of Unimportance

Max saw the ocean for the first time on vacation.

We stayed at a cottage on an island without cars or businesses. Our double glass doors opened just steps from the beach, with a view of the Gulf.

After a water taxi ride in a steady gray drizzle, and unloading enough stuff to tide 4 people and a dog over for 8 days, I put the leash on Max for a walk on the beach. As soon as we mounted the small dune that separated us from the sand, I could sense his excitement as he strained at the leash with a wild abandon, racing to the water.

Once we reached the shore, he stared smiling out at the expanse of ocean, radiating happiness.

A lot like this.

That's exactly how I feel when I see the ocean; an exhilarated swelling inside followed by feeling momentarily paralyzed with gratitude.

There are days when I just need that -- my feet in the sand and my breath matching the beat of the waves. I look out at the endless horizon and revel in feeling small; finding relief in my insignificance.

Sometimes I need to zoom out.

I'm always so zoomed in; to parenting, to work, to relationships, to finances, to housework. Everything that is going wrong is so easily magnified and seems urgent and imperative, constantly compounding into even more problems for me to solve.

But when I look out at infinity and focus on the sound of the ocean and my breath, it's all fine. Zoomed out, I'm doing great and I am exactly where I should be, doing what I need to in every area of life. None of it is a big deal compared to forever.

I read three books, collected shark teeth, walked for miles, drank wine early and coffee late, played Uno and refused to play Uno, ate too much dessert, saw an armadillo, and helped two baby turtles beat the odds. I stared out at the ocean and up at the night sky and felt wonderfully, deliciously unimportant.

In the grand scheme of things, everything is awesome.

A perfectly imperfect day.

Now I just need to remember that.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Tomorrow I will Be

Tomorrow I will be the mother of a 12-year-old boy.

I remember bringing him home from the hospital (it was yesterday, which makes this 12 years thing confusing but I'm bad at math because, guys, it can't really be 12 years) and surveying every inch of him with my eyes -- his feet the size of my thumb, his skinny, purple vein-threaded legs, the soft blond hair on his tiny back, the perfect swoop of his nose, the golden fuzz on his round head; I would stare in wonder at the veil of gentle serenity that enveloped him as he slept and marvel that such perfection and possibility now suddenly existed in the world.

And I would think, "Oh my God, I better not fuck this up."

With both driving and parenting, sometimes I have intense moments of self-awareness where I just can't believe I'm permitted to do something so potentially dangerous. Then I freak out that people even less qualified than me are allowed to do it.

And sometimes I have close calls, but it mostly goes surprisingly well.

Now I look at him and marvel that his feet are as big as mine, his legs are long and sturdy, his shoulders are broadening, his hair is thick and brushes his shoulders. Little girls seem particularly outgoing in his presence and then I remember being their age and see him through their eyes and, well, it just seems impossible -- this him being 12 thing.

I remember looking at him and wondering what he would look like as a little boy, a teenager, and a man.

Now I look at him and think I know.

I study his character, the essence of who he is, of what he may offer the world -- his quick wit, his philosophical nature, his kind but cautious heart, his appreciation of books and nature, humor and good design, his love of animals and his thoughtfulness, and I know, despite some swerves and bumps in the road, that we are headed in the right direction.

And I am grateful and proud and amazed that we've come so far.

And also sad that we've come so far.

Tomorrow I will be the mother of a 12-year-old boy.

Oh my God, I better not fuck this up.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Role Reversal

We just got back from an island vacation and it was amazing. Mr. Ashley and I were home kid-free for three nights immediately afterwards since the kids went camping with my mom.

This being alone for three nights thing has never happened. Ever. It was also amazing.

We had big plans -- nice dinners out, late nights doing whatever, a trip to the movie theater for an R rated movie. Really exciting stuff if you're a parent.

The reality is that we're old and tired and going to bed early is also really exciting stuff if you're a parent.

"Hey, I was thinking since we're home alone we should experiment with role playing," I proposed on the second night.

"Really?" he asked, interest piqued.

"Yes. I will be sweet and innocent but a little bit naughty. You will be a masseuse --" and then he laughed and laughed and laughed so I couldn't finish.

He (finally) calmed down and said, "That's a really fun idea. You can massage me."

"Uh, what kind of shady shit is that? The customer having to massage the masseuse?? That makes no sense, can you imagine if you went in for a massage and YOU had to give it? You're the masseuse, so you have to do the massaging. I'm going to have to report you to the licensing board if I don't get the massage."

"I've got to give it to you, it was a nice try. But no."

We had dinner at 5pm, went to Home Goods and fell asleep watching Netflix.

It was a pretty exciting night.