One Year

This month marks the the first anniversary of my mom’s death.
It was weird. I thought I would be struck by it, but mostly it snuck up on me. My brother, sister, and I each have A LOT going on, separately.  My brother is hustling trying to start a business in Seattle, my sister has four kids, each of which plays multiple sports.  Both have a lot to manage.  Me… I just… well… I just.  I haven’t figured out a way to a) say no; and b) work smarter, not harder.  So, for me, its often just grinding trying to make all the pieces fit together and work.  This was probably a bit of a blessing, to be honest.  It kept  the anniversary of her death from looming… I looked up one day, and it had been a year.

My dad hasn’t started sending her stuff yet.  She had en entire bedroom full of craft stuff- my brother’s wedding quilt, a quilt for Nico, yarn, wool, leather, so many craft supplies, patterns, and books.  The week that she died, my dad said that he would send these boxes; but I don’t think he appreciated how expensive that would turn out to be.  I can imagine when they do start arriving, that those days will be hard- or maybe they will be great.  Opening a box and touching fibers my mom had touched.  Or using a pair of her knitting needles for a new project. Maybe that will be comforting.

I am fighting in a judo tournament next week. Mom was really interested in my fights… often, she was the person I wanted to talk to after tournaments… after that first exhibition match at Cohens when I threw ura nagi with NO experience with it as a throw… and after my last Wisconsin tournament, when I tied for first.  For me, Mom was the only person I could talk in detail with about the shit I did… whether it was judo or soccer, my phd, crafts. That is probably the hardest thing about her being gone… she cared about the mundane shit I did every day, and the big shit I did. And she was so proud of me.

IMG_3680

I had a weird moment earlier this month.  I was taken aback looking at some of Nico’s classwork; he’s been working on a story in his writing class. It’s about soccer and my mom would have absolutely loved it.  She would have asked him question after question after question about his process and everything about it. And he would have been tickled over that.  Like wow… Granny was really into my story, right?  Which would have been 100% true.

Posted in mom

Taking Stock- Jan. 2020

Making: I bought some cotton from Joann’s back in December. It was the first trip I had made to Joann’s since Mom died, and I found cotton for the English Football clubs we support in our house.  That is amazing, right?

Cooking: I made a french silk pie for NYE and it was amazing.  I don’t think I remember this, but, french silk pie has raw eggs in it.  Isn’t that nuts?  It was so good.  Also, I decided at Thanksgiving, that I am no longer going to be bullied by recipes calling for garbage pie crust.  Honestly, everyone hates traditional pie crust; no one is brought to the pie plate with traditional pie crust.  It is NO ONE’s favorite part of the pie.  So, I am resolving to make pie crusts that either go with the pie or pie crusts that I like; which is to say, graham cracker pie crusts.  I am all in on this for the rest of my life.  Fight me.

(Turns out that this isn’t all that of an innovative idea, Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman) makes hers with a graham cracker crust.  Which means that I am not, in fact, special.)

Sipping: Smoothies.  Like everyone else back on their bullshit in January, I am trying to increase my fruit and veggie intake.  I bought some special smoothie cups for Nico and me, but it turns out he doesn’t like smoothies that don’t taste like milkshakes.  I *kinda* feel bad about blending them up at 630 in the morning, because my blender is hella loud and it takes a long time to get the job done.  But when I let it blend to completion, they aren’t bad.  Also, it lets me be super judgey… like, yeah, ya girl getting her spinach in, before you even woke up.

Reading: Not as many books in 2020. I went hard in the paint with books last year. At the expense of my Pocket App reading. Basically with Pocket, you can save articles on the internet to an app for reading later. Despite having thousands of articles saved, I haven’t done a very good job clearing them. So I need to take it down a notch with the books and kick it up on the articles I’m reading.

Looking: at all the single use plastics I use in my life. I mean, it won’t have THAT much of an impact in the grand scheme of things. The internet is full of think pieces about how we aren’t going to reuse, repurpose, and recycle our way out of our plastic problem. But I’m starting to feel that guilt that comes from purchases that come in plastic. Thinking about what it would take to change the WAY we buy stuff, reminds me how absolutely hopeless this feels. Things like contact solution. Sold in plastic bottles that are NOT refillable. Can you even imagine the kind of consumer model that would make it possible to have refillable contact solution solutions? Like you go to your no packaging store and get contact solution on tap, that you dispense straight into a reusable squeeze bottle? That would be cool. One thing I did find that might be a game changer for travel are these little squeeze bottles from REI:

smallsqueeze

Maybe that would at least eliminate the small travel bottles of contact solution I buy when I travel and don’t check a bag.  That is probably going to solve the plastic problem, yes?

Listening: To Post Malone lately.  I’d once heard that he makes music for people who are stressed, tired, hungover, and burned out.  And honestly, I get it.

Wishing: I hadn’t screwed up the Etsy order for a custom cover for my Hobonichi planner. It was from a seller in China and I accidentally included the wrong zip code. Technically, the cover has been in Chicago for two weeks and I’m just hopelessly tracking it around the Chicagoland area’s different mail facilities. To be clear- I think it’s fair to assume that the city and the address are right. I mean, would it not make sense to try my address in Chicago? Getting real sick of your shit, USPS.

I do hope I get it… it’s a cloth cover of Van Gogh’s Starry Night and it has a PVC cover.

Watching: I finished the Anne of Green Gables reboot on Netflix. I was a little skeptical at first- this Anne was a spazz. But I got over that. I kind of thought of it as Anne of Green Gables in an alternate timeline- one where Anne and Gilbert look like kids, Matthew doesn’t die, and there are people of color in Canada.

Hoping: We’re hoping David Ross at the Cubs has a good season.  While I am a huge David Ross fan, I am a little suspicious of the idea of making him manager.  I mean, he has certainly played in enough clubs, with enough managers to have seen some really good management and some really bad management. I think when Joe Maddon was the coach of the Cubs, he benefitted immensely from David Ross; Joe could be the feel good, hippy guy, but David Ross could crack the whip. Rossey could have really high expectations for the guys and want them to do things the right way, so Joe could be chill.   I just really hope that this doesn’t end up being a gimmick- mostly because David Ross is absolutely beloved by Chicago. I mean, he hit a 410 foot bomb to dead center in Game 7 of the World Series… and he is generally a nice guy.  But, I AM spoiled; I want the Cubs in the series this year and every year.

Wearing: Before Thanksgiving, I bought a new pair of warm-up pants.  My go-to pants for coaching and playing outdoor games has been a pair of black Under Armour sweats.  They did, at one point, have elastic in the ankle cuffs, but I cut that out.  They were so comfortable, but had the effect of making me look schlumpy.  If that is even possible (spoiler: it isn’t hard).  I bought a pair of tapered warm-up pants  from Target that are my jam.  I am basically living in these…its great, TBH.

Noticing: my face a lot lately. I can’t describe it- maybe it’s my age (40). Or just how I feel about my life. But I feel like my face makes me look older than I am. Maybe this is just my reality now: dry, pasty skin, dark circles, constantly broken out. In all honesty, all the ads I see on social for Curology, Thrive Cosmetics, etc. are very apropos.

Sorting: One of my goals this year is to go through my craft closet.  Seriously. I need to.  Think Monica’s closet:

TBH, I feel really good about the fact that when we lived in North Park, I had a 10 by 20 foot space that we called “The Girl Cave”, and I have managed to fit all this stuff into essentially a coat closet. But its such a nightmare to get stuff in and out of it, that I don’t. So, I don’t do a lot of crafting anymore, even when I have the time to do it.

Saving: his past holiday season was, in a word, annoying. A combination of stress and work resulted in there being nothing left at the end of the year. I need to do a little better not running out of steam in November. It would be useful to think about Christmas earlier in the year and not be surprised by it, so I have the money, time, energy to do Christmas the way I want to. Also, for all intents and purposes, I should not be leaning into the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That should be wind it down time, not kick this year in the face time.

Coveting: A house.  So badly.  Words cannot describe how ready I am to NOT be renting anymore.  I need more space… I realized this week that when you live in a small space, you absolutely must spend time and energy putting stuff away because if you don’t your space just gets messy and the messiness of a space can be draining.

Feeling: I feel really squirrely on Sunday nights.  This is likely due to the combination of adderall and pre-workout, combined with the adrenaline from playing in games late(ish).  But lately, it seems that I can’t shut it down.  So I come home from my games and am basically up all night.  At some point, I ought to just make hay out of that… and decide that is when I am going to work on papers, read articles, etc.

The Great Swamp Hike ‘19

So, I attempted a half hike of the Ocean to Lake Trail (aka The Lake to Ocean Trail).  It is part of the Florida trail and goes from Lake Okeechobee to Hobe Sound.  

I originally chose December for such an endeavor because I grew up in South Florida (the swampy part, not the South Beach part).  I largely know the score when it comes to weather down there, which is to say there are three seasons: Wonderful Mild Winter, The Run Up to Hot, Wet Summmer, and Hot Wet Summer.  I thought that hiking it in December would allow me to enjoy the best that South Florida has to offer (Winter), even if the the plan was to hike through some “swampy” parts of the state.

Well, the annoying thing is that the southeast part of the state got more rain than usual in December.  So, when I checked to see what water levels were like at the beginning of the month, I gave myself the green light.  Then it rained a lot. But I didn’t bother checking in with my plan.

The problem with Florida in general in wild spaces is alligators, snakes, and misquitoes, TBH.  I have been told that it is winter and that alligators don’t like to tangle with anyone in the winter… but I never liked that logic.  Its not like alligators are like, “dude, you’re cool…I’m just chillin here.  I know alligator is latin for “murder log” but that refers to an incident that happened ONE TIME!! I am actually really friendly, if you get to know me.”

And it wasn’t even a problem walking through spaces like this:

The ground here just got saturated and hence, hiking through 4-6 inches of water was sometimes necessary.  No big deal.

For me, the problems started happening when most of the trail was under water. The first part of the first day was nice… some road walks and some well-defined trail walks… which I can do all day.  Very nice.

But then I got to one of the more remote sections of the trail.  And frankly, where there were more bodies of water.  Ponds and lakes that had overflowed had me walking through deep water (over knees) in terrain where I couldn’t see the ground in front of me, which increased tripping and falling territory. as well as sprained ankle territory.  I only ate it once, but it wasn’t a great feeling, to constantly have to stay hyper concentrated on the ground under your feet.  I had to focus so much, I couldn’t listen to anything during th is stretch… and half of the goal was to be able to listen to ALL THE BOOKS!!  And ALL THE PODCASTS!!

Also, I *highly* underestimated the misquito situation; which is honestly shameful, because I KNOW.  In any case, I had a few “OFF” wipes, because I was trying to save space and didn’t think I needed a whole ass bottle of bug spray.

Reader: I definitely needed a whole ass bottle of bug spray.

One of the nutty things about this trail, is that it cuts through private and wildlife/water management lands, so there is NO random camping.  So, you’re not supposed to just set up camp anywhere you want.  Because my progress walking through water was so slow, I was honestly afraid I’d be in a position of having to random camp, which is a huge no-no.

So I decided after a day of hiking to get off the trail.  The next section was going to be even wetter, with more water on the trail.  And to me, it wasn’t worth it, I wasn’t having fun, it was NOT relaxing.  So I stopped.

I did get a chance to try out some gear I had never used, which was cool.  I filtered water for the first time, which was kinda fun.  When I got the permit to hike/camp in the first section, the lady who sent it to me was like, bring some rope to tie your water bottle to and throw that into the water… so alligators don’t mistake you for deer and other wildlife drinking at the water’s edge.  And I was like, “yes, I am definitely going to do that.”  

I think I dialed in my sleeping set up.  Back in August when we camped in Pictured Rocks, I set up a hammock, but didn’t sleep in it (slept in a tent).  But, being in the hammock, I was always on the verge of sleep, so I thought I would try that out.  It was not bad at all.  I think I tied the hammock up with a little too much tension the first night, because I could not get comfortable.  Also, it was hot and I had an underquilt rated to 20 degrees under my hammock, thinking *I guess* that I would probably be cold.  I was not.  In fact, I was sweaty trying to sleep with misquitoes biting me (no misquito net for hammock because I am, in fact, an idiot).

But the second night, I hauled ass to make a primative camp site before the rain blew in.  It took several tries with different trees (and how far apart they were), before I finally got it right.  Tarp went up first, then hammock, then I sat my ass under the tarp on the ground (in pineneedles and branches and sticks and stuff) and made some dinner, drink some water, and tried to dry my feet out (futile).  It didn’t start raining till I got in the hammock and honestly, I was snug as a bug in a rug.  The tarp/hammock set up was all kinds of great.  The only thing that was a little annoying, is that the tarp had to be readjusted in middle of the night- restaked and clipped to the ridgeline.  It was great.

In all, it was fun. I liked it and want to keep doing it.  But I think I am going to try to stay on more maintained trails.  I don’t mind gravel paths and dirt roads at all.  In fact, I learned a bit about the Lake Okeechobee Trail, which is a trail that runs along the top of the levee of Lake Okeechobee.  Nice and flat, and an actual trail.  But not a lot of shade.  Seems like my jam.  Just saying.

2019 By the Book

I read 53 books in 2019.

So, I didn’t realize that I have this obsessive aspect of my personality- where I get to doing something and then convince myself that I need to keep doing it to get to some  magical number.

In 2018, I planned to read 25 books, but that went pretty quickly. So, I was like 50!! My goal is 50. And I got it. But then last year, I was like, 52 is nice because that is a book a week. 52 is the number!!!

Seventy-five percent of the authors I read were white, 13.21% were black, and 9.43% were asian.  I thought I started the year with a lot of diversity, but I somehow just did not keep that going.

Over 70% of the authors I read this year were female.  Compare this to 2018, when only 38% of the authors I read were.  Not bad.  I didn’t do this on purpose.  I am not sure how I managed this.

I read about the same propotion of American authors in 2019 as I did in 2018 (75%). Also, In 2019, about  63% of the books I read were non-fiction, which was slightly up from 2018, when only 54% were.

My favorite books this year were:

The Water Dancer (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

Writing Science in Plain English (Anne Green)

The Valedictorian of Being Dead (Heather Armstrong)

Becoming (Michelle Obama)

Educated (Tara Westover)

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Surival, Resilience, and Redemption (Lauren Hillenbrand)

Mixed Feelings on 2019

In some ways, 2019 was a real shitkicker of a year. I think my mom dying in January basically set the bar real low. Anything after that wasn’t really all THAT bad. Like how you date someone who cheats on you and steals your shit and everyone you date after that is deemed ok by your very bruised standards.

Reader: 2019 was not all hearts and flowers after January.

To start, there are, I think, a lot of people who are fairly patriotic and who are absolutely horrified by everything this president has done. From putting kids in cages to rolling back environmental regulations, many of us have been rocked to the core over things we *thought* we knew about America and Americans are actually wrong. Of course, I’m sure many POC and individuals from First People nations are like, “Oh, that’s cute.”

Still.

There is a sense that 2019 has been a dumpster fire, which is unreal because a lot of people thought 2018 was a dumpster fire. So at this point they are really just competing with each other to see which could be more of a mess.

I “worked” too much in 2019. Basically I have two modes in my life: work and not work. Everything that pertains to responsibilities, duties, obligations, commitments, and actual work is work. In June I agreed to be president of the parent group of my son’s school. I consider this work because it is comprises activities that I do not find fun or relaxing: asking people for stuff, getting approval for stuff, organizing stuff, etc. It’s not stuff I would do for fun: I am not energized nor invigorated by it. I’m not all that great at it; I consider myself a caretaker president, just trying to keep the lights on and help the school the best I can given all the ways in which I am the absolute worst person for this “job”.

Professionally, it’s been a weird year: a couple of different opportunities for advancement with my current employer didn’t go the way I thought they would. Even though I’ve been “alt-ac” for almost 7 years, I honestly believed this year I had a chance to go back on the tenure track, which is really the only career I’ve wanted since 2003. It feels some kind of way to still want that, like I’m the worst kind of delusional. Like a 15 year old still desperately believing in Santa Claus, because not believing means something.

It’s hard to explain all there is to explain about it. But Reader, know that I am aware of the choices I made…I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. I’m also very bad at making decisions and should *really* never be allowed to make them. To be completely honest to myself, I have a hard time making anyone do things thing I want to do. So it wasn’t as easy as “going off” the tenure track. It was going off the tenure track with a husband and son in tow.

It should be noted that a lot of the stuff that faculty do are things that I do with my jobs currently: research, teaching, and service. I just don’t have the benefit of being able to earn tenure. The thing I really liked about being tenured/tenure track was the ability to control my destiny somewhat. And to me, however hard I had to work, whatever it took to earn tenure was worth it because it meant security after 5-7 years. Now I feel like I have work just as hard, but without the promise of tenure in 5-7 years.

And I know my privilege is showing here, that I am pissing and moaning about the exact shade of the collar of my white collar job. And it’s not really hard work like farming, roofing, plumbing, or the service sector. It’s just not what I wanted is all. But that’s not even all that rare these days. The Academy has changed in earth shattering ways since I started grad school. Under and mis-employed PHDs are a dime a dozen. I’m not special.

I went up for a big promotion at work and didn’t get it. I did get a smaller promotion- one that is mostly in title. The big promotion would have meant I wouldn’t need (financially) to teach, that I could lean into research enhancement and promotion and I’d have the nearly perfect non-tenure track job. But that’s not how this story goes.

I have a new boss. I think it will be okay, but new is new. And sometimes it’s hard to tell how that will shake out. I’m hopeful though.

I did some things professionally that were really good. I got a paper accepted that has been hanging around for three years, that I started data collection on shortly after arriving to Chicago. Its publication is kind of the end of a chapter: the unsure steps of my first largely unsupervised research project.

I applied for and won a grant. I wanted to purchase some data from the state of Illinois and couldn’t figure out a way to get it funded. I learned about this opportunity and put the application together in about 2 weeks. It’s great because it will allow me to purchase A LOT of data. I can publish on this data for years- which would be really important if I was on the tenure track.

I leaned into learning R. I posted about it on Twitter, but my markers for what this would look like were 1) doing a workshop on it, 2) debugging R code on the fly, and 3) having a functional markdown document.

In the waning minutes of my last day in the office of 2019, I accomplished this. Even better, I did it with data for one of my new projects. So when I get back in the office in January, I’m ready to continue developing my R chops.

I put together a series of writing workshops/retreats that were well received. The sense is that we should keep them going in 2020 and I think I will.

But ultimately, I worked too hard in 2019. I didn’t move enough, I didn’t sleep enough. I did stupid shit that interfered with both. I need to develop better habits; so that is what I am going to prioritize in 2020. Not because I have some type of superficial sense that This is What We Do in January: make promises to develop new habits. I literally need to, for my health. For my sanity. I just concluded part 1, but I feel like I’m starting part 2 in a hole.

I also desperately need to have some perspective on work tasks. and recognize that just because it has to be done, doesn’t mean it has to be done right now. I can go to the gym, I can go for a walk.

There is also nothing that happens on social media before work that is worth not cooking a good breakfast, doing yoga, or having a slow cup of tea before a 10-12 hour work day. I need to drink more water and eat more salads, which means having stuff for salads in the fridge.

I’m much more than the work I do. I need to remember that. Please remind me.

The End of Part One

In our house growing up, turning 40 was A Moment.

It was a different time. Back when life expectancy was 60-65, 40 was the beginning of the downhill slide to death. Also, my maternal grandfather died very young and one of my mom’s brothers was convinced he wouldn’t make it to 40 (he did).

I remember my mom being apprehensive about turning 40. She was also incredibly anti-vanity. So if she did obsess about it, she didn’t verbalize a lot of her thoughts on Turning 40. And honestly, I can’t imagine my dad engaged in a long conversation about my mom’s anxiety turning 40.

So intellectually, I felt that turning 40 was supposed to be a big deal. Like, what does it mean to be 40? Previous generations treated 40 like it was “over the hill”, which is weird, because it implied everything after 40 should be easy. You’re going downhill. What is hard about pedaling downhill? Nothing.

But it definitely feels too early to start coasting. Like, I don’t think I’ve done enough to start coasting. But it also feels strange to lean into “forty is the new 30” sentiment. Because honestly, no one knows shit at 30. You think you do, but you don’t. Which makes it even funnier… oh, you thought you knew shui? You’re 30… you literally know nothing. You might as well be Jon Snow with all the shit you don’t know.

So instead of leaning into any of these sentiments: I’m going hard in the paint for 40 being the end of part 1 (and beginning of part 2). It’s nice because it’s open ended; I could have parts 2-5? Or whatever. Also doesn’t have that fatality of being “over the hill”. And I don’t have to kick my own ass after saying “forty is the new thirty” sounding like I’m trying to convince myself (and others) that I am not really depressed by being 40.

Should or shouldn’t?

Some visual displays of how well I am handling the quarter at this point:

lucy

honeyboo

bad hula

So there is that.

I haven’t talked about it much, but I am the president of the Nico’s school’s parent group.  To be fair, I thought it was a bad idea when I said I would do it.  I think most people who know me would have been like, “Yeah, you shouldn’t do that.”  But here we are.

It is a bad idea mostly because I am just too busy to do it right.  These are the things I need to remember: just because I CAN do something doesn’t mean I HAVE the time to do it right.  These are very important distinctions.  Like today, right now, I just realized that I had planned to go to wordpress to update the website for the parent group.  And I was distracted by my blog.  And decided to write a blog post about how busy and distracted I am.  So, there is that.

Before the next school board meeting, I have to write 5 proposals for fundraisers for the fall semester, so that they can be approved by the school board.  Some of these are for fundraisers that are already underway. A couple are pretty cool though, so that is alright, I guess.  I just don’t want to be the reason why we aren’t successful at raising teh monies this year.

 

Ten!!

Nico turned 10 this year.

It’s so weird. I worry so much about him. I worry about him at 30- I worry that he’ll be depressed and aimless. I worry that nothing will bring him joy or happiness. I worry that he won’t like to do any job or basically have any thing that gets him out of bed every day.

I wonder if I’ll look back on moments during his childhood for proof. Like, “I knew this was going to happen! I worried so much about it! If only we had done __________ differently!”

Something I’m starting to realize as he gets older is that he is his own person. And that soon he’ll be making choices that will have a lot more impact than doing some things differently now.

He is his own person.

That’s weird, right? To think of him as a person separate and distinct from me. Just ten years ago, we were literally bound by flesh. We shared oxygen and blood.

Now he is his own person.

There are so many choices I won’t be able to make for him in the future. Maybe that is good. I mean, how awful would it be to make decisions under the burden of another person’s 40 years of fears, anxiety, and cynicism?

Because he is his own person.

So I’m trying to appreciate and enjoy him for the person he is becoming. It’s cool to see him changing- he is starting to care about how he looks, which is funny. He’s not too old to have idols (or be open about his admiration). He is fairly certain Javy Baez (Cubs’ SS) is the greatest athlete to ever play any sport- but recognizes that there are phenomenal athletes on other teams.

He’s starting to recognize how his actions impact the world around him. A couple of weeks ago, he put a can of soda on the counter so it’s bottom was partially hanging off (a nod to me always re-positioning things further back so he doesn’t knock them off). He looked me dead in the eye and said, “I’m giving mom anxiety right now.”

He is mastering the fine line between sass/humor and disrespect.  Earlier this week, he asked me to homeschool him.  It was a conversation during homework and Dave continued to be incredulous that Nico didn’t just memorize his times tables, because that is literally the easiest thing in the world to do.  I told him, “Absolutely not!  You don’t even know your times tables.  And you’re in fifth grade! I learned mine in 3rd!”  And he laughed, saying, “Easy nerd! I don’t care!” Which is such a funny thing to say.

We spent the week leading up to his birthday on vacation; seeing Cubs v. Brewers with his oldest cousin, aunts and uncles, we camped in Michigan, and went to the Wisconsin Dells for the first time. It was a good time.

Photos We Don’t Have

We are in the thick of planning for my mom’s Memorial Service/Celebration of Life, which is going to happen next month.  My mom didn’t want this.  In all the times (at least five) she brought up her wishes for what she wanted,  she specifically and explicitly said that she didn’t want a memorial service.  She wanted to be cremated and she wanted us kids to take her ashes and spread them in the UP.  In the times we talked about it, she mentioned specific details: there was birch forest, there were cliffs overlooking Lake Superior, there was a log slide, a place close by that served breakfasts on turkey platters.  In the past 5 months, I have done extensive research and I think I have the place narrowed down.  I think I know where she wants her ashes spread.

The other part of her wishes, were that she wanted it to be easy on us kids.  She didn’t want a memorial service that was going to require planning, or messing up any grandkid sports schedules.  She didn’t want us all boo-hooing about what a great woman she was, what a pillar of the community, etc.  Essentially, she wanted an Irish Goodbye, slipping away unseen and unnoticed.

And I respect the shit out of that.

Slipping out of a party lets the leaver avoid hard conversations, having to answer questions about where you’re going, why so early, why don’t you want to stay at this party?  It also decreases the likelihood of the conversations after, like, “Can you believe her?  Who does she think she is?  Like she had some place better to go?” or even the less biting, like, “That was an interesting choice for her hair?”  Or the one that scares the hell out of me whenever I am putting on primer mascara before going out, “Did she really do white mascara?  What IS that?” (technically, this happened one time, I went to a 40th birthday party and forgot too put mascara on top of the primer- which is never a good look when your eyes are what make you look old.  Shout out to my “friends” who didn’t say anything about it… Y’all the real MVP).

So, we’re doing this memorial service/celebration of life as a picnic and my dad is working on a scrapbook of my mom’s life.  Which requires photos.

And I don’t think we have many.

There are reasons for this.

First, it was a different time.  During her life, photography included digital photos taken on phones on cameras, digital photos taken on cameras, 35mm that you sent away to be developed, instant cameras, polaroids and everything that came before that.  For much of our childhood, my mom had nice 35mm cameras, but an 8 year old cannot be trusted with those.  So, the majority of her life, which was spent with us kids, included 3 humans who could not be trusted to hold a camera, focus it, etc.

Second, since my dad didn’t have the time or the inclination for being around us, there wasn’t another adult who thought it was important to document our lives. The lives still needed to be documented- pictures taken for Christmas cards, and the grandparents and and aunts and uncles.  The conesequence is that, we have a ton of photos of us kids.  Like, one could piece together our growing up and developing, almost before the camera.  Which is great.  But she was behind the camera.  So there are so very few of her.

Third, she seemed uncomfortable in front of the camera.  I am not sure if she always struggled with her weight, or if it was just the thing that happens to women when they have children.  Before she married my dad, she was an absolute smoke show.

momsadle

Later, I just always got the sense that she didn’t want her picture being taken.

So we don’t have many photos of her.

Photos I WISHED I had: I wish I had pics of her and me on first days of school.  I wish I had pics of her, Nicole, JJ, and me during the few years when all three of us played soccer and spent our weekends driving all over the state.  I wish that I had a pic of her with me before each of the formal  dances I went to in high school, she made two of the three dresses I wore.  I wish I had a pic of her when I signed my letter of intent to play soccer at Lee University.  I wish I had a photo of us during any one of the drives we made between Tallahassee and Florida when she’d come up to babysit Nico during weeks when his preschool was closed.  I wish that we had made Dave or my brother-in-law or someone take pics of the three of us kids with her in Texas.  There are so many.

It makes me think about the photos I take with Nico- a lot of selfies.  It’s weird to ask other people to take pictures of you, even your husband, I think.  But I should be better about asking Dave to take pictures of Nico and me (and maybe Dave just needs to be better about taking pictures of Nico and me without having to be asked).  But even that is weird… like for all of our relationship that hasn’t been us.  We don’t post on FB or Insta pics with captions like, “He is my world, I wouldn’t know what I would do without him, love ya babe, yada yada yada.”  I think we’re just old enough to be self-conscious of that kind of social media behavior.  Or maybe 16 years together ingrains patterns that are hard to break. 

I guess the lesson here is if you’re a parent, make sure that your kid/s will have pics of them with the people they care about: moms, dads, grands, aunts, uncles. Some day those photos will be the only thing they will have left.   I wish I had more photos with my mom. 

 

Posted in mom

Peak Summer

We spent the 4th down on the far south side.  A grad school friend, who lives in Chicago with his wife is from here. Their families are from here- south side white families that are fascinating to me.  In the middle of the 20th century, there were large neighborhoods of whites who lived on the south side, near factories and industry.  They lived in places like East Side and Mount Greenwood, with Irish, German, and Polish and other Eastern European immigrants.  Knowing a little about these neighborhoods reminds me of how fast Chicago has changed.

I like going because I get to make some delicious dessert and take it… without the guilt of eating an entire tray of it.  This year, I went back to Smores Bars, which I took a couple of years ago.  I had one when I first got there and then had to claim a second (it was that good). I mean…

smorebar

It was nice to see my friend, his wife and this large group of friends who I am starting to get to know through Fantasy Football.  I tried, weakly, to talk shit to the guy who is periennally a front runner for our trophy, but honestly, it felt wrong.  The first year I was in the league, I had some major good look, but every season since then, my team has been a dumpster fire.

In any case, my friend’s crew are all really into fireworks, so there was a pretty big fireworks display, which involved timers and

such.  The weather started out pretty garbage.  But then came around.

brucelyrics

I got to snap some pics with my phone- which I used as a background for my ubiquitious IG post… fireworks pic+Springsteen Lyrics=Basic Bitch JBR in the house.  I did switch it up scotch this year by going with the Independence Day lyrics (instead of the Sandy lyrics).

Honestly, I am glad I am a grown up now, because if I was a kid, everyone I know would get me a basic bitch barbie every year for Christmas.  And I would desserve it.

In other news, we are getting travel plans in place for our trip to the UP in August. In a stroke of crazy luck, the Federal Government has moved some camping sites at National Parks into an online reservation management system.  Which is incredible.  Because there is a very specific place I wanted to stay in the UP.  Basically, it is a place that my mom described to me.  And based on 7 months of googling and deciphering clues, I think I have it figured out.  And the only way to get a campsite was to actually, with my feet, like some type of peasant in 1750 walk to the campsite and reserve it.

Until this summer, when all the camping stuff in the NPS got moved into an online system.  The system when live and 5 minutes later, I had a site reserved, which I am thrilled about.

I am feeling a certain kind of way… which is hard to describe.  It is probably a little bit of overwhelm that I am feeling… there are so many things I want to research and do while we are there… shipwreck glass bottom boat tours, fishing, blueberry picking, camping (obviously), making good noms over a campfire (even more obviously).  I am trying to figure out which lake we can hike to in the morning for fishing and whether that will be too far?  What kind of bait do I need? Like, I want to actually catch A fish this time.  Should I try some of those fancy fly lure things?  I can get some from Amazon.  Interesting.  Are these for fly fishing or can I just tie this to a line and throw in the water.  But maybe I will need worms.  Where can i get worms there?  Probably any store.  Don’t be stupid, JBR. Assuming I catch a fish, will any of the knives I have be long enough to filet it?  Sharp enough?   I want to make smore cones, do I need foil for that?  I understand that there are wild blueberries among the birch forrest… how different are they from commercial U-Pick berries?  I mean, I think I’d recognize them, but maybe I wouldn’t. Can I get a book on edible/poisonous plants in the UP.    Also, do I need some type of grill thing? Like, what is that called?  Like, to set over a fire ring?  It seems like I could take the rack thing from the oven, that would work, right?  Do I even need this, since I have a two burner Coleman stove?  Plus a MSR pocket rocket? Do I have straps for my hammock?  So, when you’re camping, can you just set up your tent and leave it there, or do I need to pack and unpack every time we leave the campsite?  Will anybody bother our shit?  What if I come back from fishing with Nico and there is a bear in the tent, tearing shit up?  What if the bear wants to fight? I mean, he wouldn’t be wearing a gi… but maybe his fur would be long enough to throw him with Osoto Gari?  Right?  No.  That is ridiculous.  You can’t do judo with a bear, JBR.

So… basically my brain has about 30 browser tabs open at this point in time.

I have been thinking, “This is too much information to track and filter and engage with. Could I just have a book that tells me what to do?”  So, I think we’ve reached peak information age.

Dave is going to have to do at least some work while we are there… so we’re renting a hotel room for him to work in during the day.  The UP is definitely not covered with cell service, so I didn’t want to risk him not being able to work.  Also, Lake Superior is like in the 50s even in the summer… so I wasn’t really gung-ho on that being my method of shower.  We are taking a water purifier though, so it will be fun to sort of camp, rustically, but with backups not far away.  Because I am going to need him to recharge my battery packs, since I have over 3,000 stories saved in my pocket app and I plan to read them all.