Sunday, November 30, 2008

How mittens may have saved my life. seriously.

In the past few days I have wallowed in my time off. I have lazed around, gluttonously reading blogs, snatching up endless Amazon deals tossed my way like candy at a parade by Mir, and watching episode after episode of CSI on Spike. Every so often my conscious will nag at me, remind me that I DO have to go back to school on Tuesday and I DO need to have that short story lesson plan done, but I push it firmly away and down. Shhhhhh.

Then, in the midst of my lolling about, I read one of Joshlyn Jackson's blogs about being thankful and it really got me to thinking. No small feat in the middle of this me-fest, but still. What am I truly thankful for? (Besides reading Jenny the blogess who makes me laugh so hard I that I can't read it during school. The kids stare when I snort.) I am of course so happy to have a wonderful husband and four healthy and moderately happy children (I can only let them be so happy, after all) and grateful that I am alive and ... but this is happiness. What am I truly thankful for? What in my life makes me a better person? This is the question posed by Joshlyn, the one that sniggled around in my head while I was trying so hard to pay attention to the miniature killer and had she really changed? Finally I have given in to this thinking while I am on vacation, and have decided to write about being thankful.

I am thankful for the awful people or even the normal people who do awful things. Yes, I know that this sounds strange, but it is also true. I don't like it when people are nasty, but I always try to give them the benefit of the doubt (maybe they are having a horrible day, a parent in hospice, trying to deal with infected hemorrhoids). At the very least, I always walk away with a story:

I did not grow up in this snowy, icy, slippery climate, so driving is a bit ... tense ... for me in the winter, but I stiffen my upper lip and just do it. So it bothers me A LOT when I am going the speed limit on a snow-packed road that is all twisty-turny and the person behind me is annoyed that I am ONLY going the speed limit and is completely disregarding how scary it is for me to be doing that. My white knuckles mean NOTHING to him. Or her. So when this person, who maybe was in a hurry because his wife was in labor or maybe had infected hemorrhoids (I'm kinda pulling for the second) passes me as we are on a swoopy downhill turn to the left with NO WAY to see if any cars are coming in the opposite direction, I did get a little angry. Angry enough that I forgot to worry about his anus or his imminent fatherhood. I was so immediately angry that I honked my horn and flipped him off.

I was wearing mittens.

I laughed so hard on the way to school at my ridiculousness that I forgot to be angry and mulling. I am grateful firstly that another car was not in the other lane and we all lived and secondly because I need to let that shit go. People will be thoughtless and rude and downright mean, and when they are I remind myself that I am not. I do not believe in an eye for an eye, an insult for an insult. This has been particularly difficult for me to stick to with only one person. This person is inadvertently part of my life on a daily basis and she. is. horrible. To me. Just me. It is a long and sad story as to why, but it wasn't my fault (really) but she obviously feels differently. And lets me know it every chance she gets. It can be depressing how often she has these opportunities. However, I do not reciprocate. Sometimes I imagine the things I could say to her, how I would slice her with my rapier wit, scathe her with caustic sarcasm, silence her with my Socratic logic. But I don't because it would be mean. And, in a twisted way, as I think about Joshlyn's question, I am thankful that I have her in my life because it is a constant reaffirmation of my commitment to be a nice person. I agree with Tom Hank's character in You've Got Mail: when you say exactly the right thing at exactly the right time, you end up feeling remorse. I can't believe I just admitted to watching that movie and that I quoted it. gah.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I should be more grateful for towels.

This past weekend I was at a conference - my first time away from home in a LONG time. A friend of mine and I had planned to drive together, so I left work with her so she could pack and I could tuck my little Blazer snug away in her garage. While she was packing, I laid on her couch and watched an entire episode of CSI without talking to anyone, folding anything, or getting up AT ALL. An entire show. I'm still reeling.

We arrive and at check in, I am casually informed that there is no. internet. service. None. It would have been less distressing if they would have said "Sorry for the inconvenience, but we don't have any towels. None at all. You'll have to dry yourself with the shower curtain." That I could handle with grace and dignity, even though I probably would have broken something from the knees down because, as I discovered, even with that adorable little towelbathmattything, the floor is wicked slippery.

AND it gets BETTER. The brochure reads "For cell phone reception, we suggest standing in the middle of the parking lot." I couldn't make that shit up. So imagine me, standing all hunched and shivery, in the sleeting rain, trying to talk to the Peanut who refused to even speak to me because I left in the first place.

At least I know for CERTAIN now that I will never become addicted to heroin - this place had a rehab feel to it and I don't want anymore. Please.

So, even though we did have a wonderful time (we really did), I am glad to be home. And this morning, after I slept in so blissfully late after our Superintendent (who I always KNEW was a genius) canceled school, I awoke to an Ansel Adams landscape right out my back door:

And a deck that looked like it was made of marshmallow.

So we stoked the fire, brewed some tea, and snugged right in with a good book (I read The Book Thief while Taylor chose to reread Droughts and Earthquakes).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Droughts, Drums, and Laura Ingalls

I love to read. I have from the time I was ... well, truly as long as I can remember, I have always had a book at hand. And in the car. And in the bathroom. From Stephen King to Faulkner, Picoult to Bradbury, Sanford to Steinbeck, I love it all.

At one of our recent book club meetings, instead of choosing a book for all to read (like we normally do), my friend Shannon asked everyone to bring her favorite childhood book. In trying to decide on which book to read, my husband commented that I had an easier time choosing names for the children than I did in picking out my favorite childhood book. But there's Laura Ingalls, I said. So choose that, he said, perplexed. I laughed at his simplicity. But then what about Walter Farley? Anna Sewell and the amazing Black Beauty? The Shark in Charlie's Window?

Please, I chuckled, you cannot be serious in thinking I really must choose only one. Did it have to be MY favorite or could it be a favorite that I read to my girls, like Too Much Noise, or Ming Lo Moves the Mountain, or Leo the Late Bloomer?

I did finally choose to bring The Secret in Miranda's Closet, because it had a huge impact on my life, as big as the others. And I knew Shelly would bring the Little House series.

So I was baffled by the Peanut's library choices this past week. Probably 'baffled' isn't even strong enough. I know that my Peanut does not fit snugly into any stereotype - she marches to her own drummer that sometimes I am pretty sure toured with Pink Floyd or the Refreshments - but even this was unexpected:

Yep, Droughts. A uplifting tale with twists and turns and a sweet heroine. But, just in case this is a tad on the serious side and she needed to lighten it up, she also checked out:

Perhaps she is just a John McPhee in the making. Or perhaps she is ... weird. Either way, I am so happy it makes me wiggle that she loves to read as much as I do. I have to tell her to put the book down when it is time for bed, to leave, to eat, to bathe. It causes me physical pain to have to tell her this.

I am putting out my first question ever, since it appears that people actually read this (w00t!):

What did you love to read? Do love to read?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

girls, taffy, and time

I was reading Is There Any Mommy Out There and she was talking about her surprise at being through the Halloween ritual three times - time had done to her what it does to all of us: lulled and rocked and moved right on. What brought me up short was when I thought, "she's been through this three times and I only have three more left."

My stepson, 11, wanted a costume. Not to trick-or-treat in (he declared he'd rather just hand out candy, which since we have ZERO neighbors, amounts to "I'd rather just play computer games or watch Bear Grills) but to go to a party. With GIRLS. "Gak," I replied, stunning him with my parenting skills. This is a terrifying turn. Not because it isn't expected (I have two older daughters; I KNOW what is coming), but because ... well, let me tell a story to explain.

I had to take him to get a filling done. My first child with a cavity - I reeled when the dentist told me. It was awful - they had to get a paper bag and everything. So we took the afternoon off, just him and I, and went. On the way home, being Mother of the Year, I bought him a big ol' watermelon Laffy Taffy. He couldn't eat it yet, since he still had to keep checking that he even HAD a tongue, so he was turning it over in his hands and noticed the jokes on the back. Being the loving child he is, he read it aloud:

"Hey Rikki, why are football players never cold?"

I ponder this, and give up (see? Mom of the Year, I'm telling you).

"I don't understand the answer."

Me: "What do you mean, buddy? Tell me and we'll figure it out."

"Under flap."

Me: "huh?"

Him: "It says 'under flap.'"

That I have to explain to this wonderful boy that the answer to the joke is under the flap and he is at the stage where he's starting to notice girls, ah, makes me worry a tad.

So I'm going to enjoy the now, the third-from-the-last trick-or-treating.