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 the diversity of Chicago-its not like its all mostly poor and black communities on the south and west sides of the city.

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.

Tired

I am about the age my mom was when I started noticing her as a person, not a mother or a wife or a soccer mom. But as a person.

She was 38-39. It was around the time of her 20th high school reunion. We’d returned to Michigan for a summer vacation combined with the reunion.  The band was back together and I had the very distinct feeling that they were grownups. Old. They sat around talking about the gold old days, things that had happened 20+ years ago. For a week she flitted back and forth between the worlds of our Mom and Marti Drake. We saw a different side of her that summer. But also completely, totally, absolutely off our “schedule” and “routine”.

It was disorienting.  I think I was going into sixth grade, so it felt like things were changing.

I know intellectually, that things in our house weren’t easy. While we didn’t as a family talk about family finances, there was a sense that my parents had to work hard to put a roof over our heads and food on the table. The ten acres where we lived housed a dozen Arabian horses, the remnants of my mom’s failed dream of having a horse ranch. Turns out the only thing more expensive than having a working horse ranch is having one that doesn’t work.

It couldn’t have been easy trying to raise the three of us kids with my dad. Long hours on the roof all over Florida was likely the easiest part of dealing parenting with him. But that wasn’t the whole of it…frankly my dad, introverted to the core, has never really been into typical family and house stuff. He couldn’t be counted on to pick any of us kids from school or soccer or yearbook.  And this was back before cell phones, I can imagine Mom not wanting to rely on him to do pertaining to us kids.

But it’s not like Mom was the Old Lady in the Shoe, with so many kids she didn’t know what to do. Nicole and I started feeding the horses when we’re in 2nd and 3rd grade. We did a LOT of chores; cleaning and cooking. I mean, it was probably nice to come home from work to your two eldest daughters who had fed the horses and made dinner.

And while she absolutely did weary work (in a daycare and later running small restaurants/cafes), I just don’t remember her being tired all the time.

Like I am.

Maybe she was.  Maybe she just didn’t talk about it.  Or maybe our evening routine, having dinner and watching TV was the result of her being worn out from having to deal with people all day.  Or having to deal with kids all day.

Things were different… we had 6 channels of TV, so its not like my mom ever accidentally stayed up till 1am binge watching anything.  She didn’t lay in bed scrolling through feeds watching people fight on the internet.  She likely didn’t feel rage about injustice in the world, of immigrant kids being kept in cages, or presidents making an absolute mockery of the country.  It was just different.

Tired just seems to be my default place now.

So its weird, thinking of myself in the context of my view of my mom’s parenting.  Its strange because I don’t remember her being tired all the time.  But I am tired all the time.  So am I an adult?  Is this what being an adult is?

Taking Stock: June 2019

Making : Nothing much.  Really just wishing I could knit better.  It seems like something that I should be able to do better.  I’m just so low on patience lately.  Maybe when things slow down a bit.  The knits from Outlander are inspirational.

shawl
Cooking : Not much lately.  It seems like the last two months we have just been in survival mode.  Nico’s soccer season is finishing up, and I am hoping to try my hand at making beef wellingtons.  They look amazing.
Drinking : Maybe about 7-8 years ago, I tried bourbon (Maker’s Mark) for the first time. It was mixed with ginger ale and it tasted like burn.  I didn’t like it.  But… back at Christmas time, we were visiting friends and I tried this bourbon, mixed with ginger ale.  And it was not bad… not bad at all.  Apparently, it is very “smooth”, I don’t exactly know what that means.  But I do know that I like drinking this.

img_3563
Reading: So, I am ahead of schedule on my 2019 reading challenge (52 for the year).  So far, I have read 25 books!  Great, right?  Yes, I am rather impressed with myself.  I just started Elizabeth Warren’s book from Audible and am reading the ebook version of Theft of a Decade.
Wanting: Still wanting a true travel backpack. Still can’t justify pulling the trigger and getting one.
Waiting: For summer.  So much waiting,f or so many reasons: for summer to be over, to start riding my bike again, to be done teaching the class that I am currently teaching (qualitative methods), to start teaching my favorite class (two sections of statistics for nursing students). Just waiting.
Liking: I like spring so much.  It is, I think one of the best ways to be rewarded for winter here.

img_3473
Loving: Ali Wong’s “Always be my Maybe.” It’s brilliant and funny. And it has Mariah Carey on the soundtrack. And while we are on this topic, I love the fact that Netflix releases movies to stream and for theaters at the same time.  Honestly, I would see a lot more new releases if I could stream them at home.
Pondering: I follow Chase Reeves on social.  A couple of years ago, I came across his YouTube channel, where he creates videos reviewing bags.  He is doing a new thing where he is expanding into reviewing every day items (like shirts, etc).   He said something to the effect of “When something that you use or need everyday is disappointing, then, it is disappointing every day.” Which is remarkable.  As someone who thinks about and cares a lot about the experience of using things, this resonates with me, a lot.
Considering: Taking up cross-stitch. Like, a lot. I discovered Subversive Cross Stitch and honestly, it’s my jam. Smaller scale projects. Some with cursing. 🙂
Buying:
Watching: I finally pulled the trigger and started watching Outlander. Basically the level of curiosity has been there for a minute. When I saw it pop up on Netflix, I was like, “Ok. I’ll be the judge of this.” It’s not bad. My mom would have liked it.
Questioning: The life choices that have lead to our live situation in the last 2 months. It’s unreal.  And its been a wet spring, so we’ve had a lot of baseball games early in the season get post-poned, which spins them to later in the season.  So, it seems like we have something going on every night of the week.  Or day of the week.  Really looking forward to the end July, which we basically have *mostly* off.
Sorting: Nico’s room.  I basically spent last Friday night cleaning his room.  Honestly, I don’t know why it is always a disaster.  It’s not like he spends copious amounts of time in there. Trying to keep up with all of the equipment and stuff he needs for sports reminded me of a solution that my mom had when we were kids, which was to threaten to throw away a lot of our stuff, so we could find things (like library books and calculators for school) better.  I kinda see her point.
Getting: I ordered a book about tartans, mostly because I realized I knew absolutely nothing about them.  The tartans that are used in Outlander are kind of cool looking.  So is the one for Dave’s family (the Gordons).  Also, I kind of want to know what tartans from my family might have looked like.  I am not really sure if I even have any Scottish ancestry… I just sort of assumed I did, given how English my ancestry has been.  Also, I really like the idea of different types of tartans, like modern, ancient, dress, etc.  I think it’s very cool.
Bookmarking: I came across paper.li last week.  I am not really sure what it is.  It looks like an easy newsletter/aggregator tool.  According to the “learn more” page, it is “the easiest way to collect, publish, and share content on the web.” When I came across it, it was as a sort of career newsletter.  I am not sure what I would use it for.  Like a curated twitter feed of interesting links?  I don’t know.  But I am, indeed, intrigued.
Coveting: A yard. This time of year is just full of growing things. And I wish I had a big ass yard to grow produce in.
Giggling: at my son’s giggling. His best friend from school has been in town this weekend and they just make each other laugh. And it devolves into giggling about non-sense. It’s awesome.
Feeling: Elizabeth Warren. She has a response to a question about abortion that I thought was really articulate and thoughtful.
Snacking: I went into a grocery yesterday that had cases on cases of beautiful ripe mangos. I cut it up and ate it yesterday and it was honestly, the best mango I’ve ever had.

Me, an intellectual…

In a book store, I cannot ever NOT by a book.

Honestly, it is worth considering why I am the way that I am.  Seriously.  Why?

I don’t need anymore books.

It’s just that I want more books.  I know I don’t need to purchase more books, when I should just visit the shelf on my desk and make my selection.

I think it is weird.  I would rather stroll the aisles of a bookstore looking at covers and deciding on the fly (and rather dumbly) the books that I am interested in, than walk to my desk at home and choose the next book to read.  I think maybe  because I don’t read the synopsis of a lot of the books that I add to my “want to read” list,  the reptillian aspects of my brain that are attracted to shiny pretty things, takes over and I buy books that I am not really all *that* interested in reading.

This might be the case.  I have figured out that I have grand ideas about what I *think* I’d like to read.  I know this because sometimes I will, willy-nilly like go through GoodReads, clicking “Want to Read” somewhat cavalierly.  About once a month, I sit  down and decide to request some of them from CPL.  Lately, I have gotten a few books and once I read a bit of the book or the book description, I’m like:

noforme

But at least I am not spending 100 pages reading these books before deciding I hate the book and quitting it.

This is progress, people.

I wonder if this is partially about wish fulfillment.  Maybe I want to be a person who has the time to read so voraciously that I can afford to waste time reading books that I have carelessly decided to read, because, big deal.  I have plenty of time! I worry about this a lot with some of the things I want to do.  Like, do I *really* want to hike the Appalachian Trail, or do I want to be at a place in my life where I *could* hike the AT?

Because they aren’t exactly the same thing.

Honestly, I could just see me having decided to hike the AT and bailing before I even got out of Georgia, like, “NOPE.” But it would be nice to be *able* to hike the AT.

Or maybe this is just about identity and impression management.  Like, I just want to seem like the kind of person who reads some books.  I could be this shallow.  The more Man-Booker books I read, the more I wonder if this is the case.  When I decided to read the Man-Booker books, I mostly knew what I was doing.  I knew that the MB Prize is awarded to the “best” English literature published during the year.  Not the most popular.  But “best” awarded by literature types who read for a living.  They read and eschew the popular and plebian.  That is how you end up with The Finkler Question (a “comedy” about old Jewish dudes obsessing about their dicks, being Jewish, and philandering).   Maybe if I read these books people will think I am smart?  An intellectual? Is that what is happening?

Oh, you can definitely tell it is the end of the quarter and I have a shit ton of grading to do.  When I am getting meta about my life, it’s time to sit my ass down in a chair and grade some more.