Any Given Saturday

Most Saturdays the routine was the same. Get up early(8:30am, this was b.k. as in before kids) get gussied up, walk to work. Then I would wax, scrub, steam and tweeze the women of Southern California to near perfection, walk home to my apartment at about 4pm, fling myself on my couch and sleep until my boyfriend came over, beg for just twenty more minutes, get up, hang out with said boyfriend, maybe dinner, movie, hot monkey love.

This particular Saturday was much the same. After a grueling day at work up to my elbows in cha, I paid homage to my couch, face down, exhausted from the long day and late work night the day before. I was deep in sleep, a small strand of drool pooling on my pretty silk pillow when I heard my boyfriend's key in the door. We didn't live together but I had given him keys and all manner of personal stuff many moons ago.

I had probably looked fresh in the morning but now resembled more of a small, blond raccoon.
“Hi babe", I slurred, not really awake yet. I looked at him, smiled and turned to face into the couch and unceremoniously went back to sleep.

“Hey, wake up, I have something for you.” he said.

"Great, just put it on the table," I mumbled incoherently.

“No, come on, get up," he said as he tried to pull the pillow out from under my head.

"Noooo," I whined, "I'm sooo tired, just a half hour, pleeease?" I clamped a pillow over my head and grunted to send the message I was not entirely communicative yet.

"Come on, I made you something."

"That's nice honey, can I look at it later, really, very tired." I opened up my eyes a little further and noticed he looked weird, not weird like weird but unusual, something was different. I reluctantly sat up and eyed him skeptically, my eyes narrowing as I tried to put my finger on it. I huffed and pouted, the look on my face said fine, what, you wanted to show me something, okay already, on with it.

He sat beside me and produced one of those brown kraft envelopes from which he pulled a sheet of paper.

"I know how much you love crossword puzzles so I made you one," he offered as he proudly shoved the paper at me.

Oh, great I thought, he was bored at work and discovered one of those teacher programs that lets you make crossword puzzles. He really got me up for this, I thought annoyed. "This is nice honey," trying to hide the vexation in my voice, "I'll do it later," I said as I put it on the coffee table.

"No, come on, do it now."

"Oh, gawd honey," I whined, "I'm not even awake yet." I looked at the excitement on his face and realized he wasn't going to let me do it later.

"Fine," I said," give me a pencil".

So he did and I started doing the crossword puzzle. Hmmm, number one,

What Chris wears all the time _ _ _ _ _ sweaters?

Awwww, it was stuff about us. I filled it in, Chris wears GREEN sweaters. I started to warm as I filled in the answers to sweet inside jokes only the two of us knew.

Oh, oh, _ _ _ _ _ _?

Hotdog! Oh, oh, hotdog!*

After a few more of these, I looked at him, something was different, I saw him look at the crossword and then at me expectantly, he was sitting on my coffee table shifting around looking as nervous as man in line at airport security with a bunch of heroin up his bum. And he hadn't taken off his coat. I looked down at the crossword and scanned the rest of the clues, they were pretty easy so I mentally filled it all in while pretending to try and solve one clue. My ears started to buzz and I could hear my blood pumping through my body and that familiar feeling, that swell that marks the beginning of tears. The clue for the long answer across the middle read

The start of the best love story ever?


And with that he got down on one knee, produced a box with the most beautiful diamond ring I had ever seen and nervously asked me to be his wife. Why he was nervous I don't know, we had talked about it wistfully, knew it was going to happen eventually. Still, it must be different for a man to actually ask the question, put his heart in your hands. That's what the wedding ring really is, it's a big shiny pretty object to entice you to be gentle with his heart. And anyway, I knew it was coming one of these days and I still cried.

He put the ring on my finger and held me tight. We had already made a million promises to each other but this one cemented all the others.

"Let's go celebrate," he said.

"I have to shower and change," I said thinking of my couch-raggled hair, rumpled clothes and raccoon eyes. I looked at my hands, two days of work had ravaged them and no self-respecting newly fianceed girl could go out with this piece of art on my hand with ragged nails and chipped polish. So, the boyfriend who was now the fiance made himself a peanut butter sandwich to tide himself over while I did my girly ministrations. We went and had dinner and I not so subtly admired the way my ring cast prisms all around it when it caught the light. We ate good food and lightweights that we are, got all silly on one Mojito each and we went on like before, but different.

Today is our anniversary, well, actually it's his. We have two. The first one is our Vegas wedding where it was just the two of us, holding hands waiting for our turn at the Little Chapel of the Flowers. The second, our family wedding in Wisconsin, has become my anniversary.

Happy Anniversary Gene. I love you babe. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You mellow out all my less than stellar qualities and you bring out the very best in me. You tell me I'm beautiful/hottie/rockin' milf/heinyrific/bootytastic/fp nearly every day and you tell me you love me at least twice each day.
You are supportive of every silly idea, notion or secret longing of mine. I waited so long to find you and finding you, my partner in crime, is the biggest reason why I believe in fate. You coming into my life was serendipitous, everyday magic.
I can walk into a room full of women and know without a doubt that there isn't one woman in there who is treated better than I am. You respect me, you protect me. You tease me, you let me have my way much more than is truly equitable.
You are my soft place to land and my favorite person to nerd out with. Me, the one who's usually pretty good with words can't even begin to capture how much you mean to me. I hope we make it, I know that sounds pessimistic but lots of good couples lose it, whatever the 'it' was that made it work. I never went into this marriage thing with the hubris that we were any better or more special or somehow smarter than all the other people who faced the precipice of matrimony and jumped off. I know we're not bullet proof, I only hope we will grow together, resting firmly on this foundation we've laid. I love you and I look forward to rolling over in bed and seeing your handsome wrinkled face when we're old and smell weird.

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Hornicopia - Random Bits

Every so often I get a food compulsion where I literally want to eat a certain food everyday for a couple of days or weeks and then I'm over it, rarely will I eat it again. My most recent compulsion is salt and vinegar potato chips. I don't even particularly like potato chips but apparently when you slather them in vinegar powder and citric acid they sing my siren song.

Normally, I would grab the individual snack size bag but I was at the grocery store and saw a larger bag and thought, this bag suits my salt and vinegar potato chip needs far better than the single serving size bag. I was eating my lunch(yes, the salt and vinegar potato chips)(yes, only the salt and vinegar potato chips, well and a diet coke) when I noticed on the package it said sharing size. Sharing size? Fuck that, I'm an only child and probably a dog in a past life, I don't share my food with anyone. So I ate the whole bag myself and half of my tongue dissolved and I feel kind of dehydrated like I drank a gallon of pickle juice but no one was getting near my chips. By the way, do you think they are healthier since they were thick cut? In my mind the thicker chips actually contain more potato thereby really qualifying as health food, no?

In other news, I have been all aflit planting-- determined we grow some of our own food. I got seeds and planted tomatoes, peppers, onions, basil, carrots, beets, broccolini and a few other things. I still have some seeds left in their packets and have neatly folded over the edges and stacked them all in one of the kids little plastic sand buckets. I was really proud of my little seedlings as they sprung forth from the proper ph soil and extended their planty goodness to the sun. I showed my husband our eventual bounty. Did you plant all of the seeds he asked me.

No I have the rest here in my seed bucket i said. His reply?

a. wow, I can't wait to try the tomatoes
b. thank you for providing food for our family
c. looks like we are going to be eating a lot of salad


d. you're my seed bucket. What a pig, he's lucky he's cute.

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Picture This

My husband, in addition to his day job, operates a photo & slide scanning/photo restoration/photo to dvd movie business. So if you have any photo scanning needs of any kind, any, let me know. Sorry, husband said since I force him to read my blog all the time I have to at least pimp him a little.

Anyhow, I help out, especially when there are large jobs since I have more extra time being that I only see clients at the spa on Fridays and Saturdays. I have become adept at things I never wanted to, like handling 35mm slides without my fingers ever touching the film. I can unjam the slide feeder with my eyes shut. I understand the technical meaning of DPI and I can tell you what is the best resolution for what you are intending to use your images for. I know how to apply corrections to eliminate scratches, dust and even correct overexposure and funky colors. I can even Photoshop your arm flab or pimples. I have seen nearly every size of film available from the standard to the more obscure large format film and I scanned film shipped to us all the way from Norway.

It's all rather boring I'm afraid. Well, that is except for one part--the pictures. I have seen more of some peoples families than they have. I have seen pictures from so far back that no one smiled and the photos were just a step or two above the daguerreotype. I have seen the ubiquitous seventies family with their shag carpeting and wood paneling and brightly colored crocheted afghans strewn over funky couches. I have seen fifties mom--her hair artfully curled with a precision I don't see in today's mom, thank heavens. I have peered at her sturdy heels, red lipstick and weary, hopeful expression.

Here is the thing that strikes me, that I have noticed after perusing thousands, tens of thousands of pictures. We are all the same. No one is special except to each other. There is no one that isn't loved by someone. No one will live forever. No matter how beautiful you are, one day you will become old and droopy and if you are lucky, gazing into the beautiful faces of your grandchildren.

There are pictures everyone has. The baby asleep in the highchair, the war wedding, the picnic, the small kitchen overflowing with family and food. There are young mothers, their faces smiling but the exhaustion still apparent. There are fathers holding their babies, exposing the tender side of even the most hardened, inaccessible men. There are the pictures of people in front of new homes small and grand. There are the family vacations both tense and fun. There are the kids at Halloween, whether it's the fifties hobos, cowboys and tramps or the more modern Ninja heroes and Disney princesses. There are the aging grandparents gingerly holding their great grandchildren, broad smiles washing over their faces making them look years younger if only for that moment.

We are all the same. It makes me feel so small and so big. Like I said, it means none of us matter in the end except to the people for whom we do. Rather than make me feel insignificant, I find this is really very good news. I need to keep this in mind when I worry too much what people think or spend too much time aspiring to greatness forgetting the micro in search of the macro. It is useful to remember when I worry too much about stuff or trivialities because it can keep things in perspective when one remembers that nothing is lasting, except maybe the photographic memory left behind.

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Daddy Done Good

I know it will probably take you a week or more to read this but you know that whole Mother's Day? Yeah you did really good. See I realize this in part because I orchestrate Father's Day and at least at this age, Mom and Dad generally have to pull the whole thing together.

I loved that you recognized how much satisfaction the garden is giving me and got me the solar lights so that at night after dinner when you are sprawled among the children watching an episode of Star Trek or the Your Baby Can Read videos(that I bought off of Ebay and think are pirated but the baby really likes them) I can go sit outside by myself and take in the smells of fresh dirt, gardenias, jasmine, freesia, orange blossom and cypress or sit on the swing filling my mom in on the kid's latest escapades.

I love my new trees. This Wisconsin girl never dreamed of a yard where I could pick a lemon off a tree for my diet coke or tell the kids if they want a snack to go outside and get an orange. I pined for the Cara Cara orange tree with it's sweet pink fruit, my variegated lemon tree the perfect compliment to the Meyer Lemon I already have and the tangerine. Unlike chocolates or even flowers, I will think of you every time I pick lemons off the tree to make lemonade or peel a tangerine while I walk barefoot through the grass with the bebe or bring a basket of extra fruit to a friend.

I adore my tomato trellises, I cherish my tongue depressor garden signs and crafted kid gifts and yes even though we tease about appliances doubling as gifts I love my new coffee maker. Breakfast was wonderful but of course you grace me with breakfast and coffee nearly every morning. Don't ever think that I don't know how spoiled I am.

You did good Daddy. Which is why I insisted you and the boy go see Star Trek yes on Mother's Day. Thanks for such a great Mother's Day and tell James T. Kirk I say hi.

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Soapbox Part Deux

The question has been asked. What exactly is so wrong with things like Bratz dolls?

First, let me direct this at the parents who buy Bratz dolls or have kids that watch Hannah Montana and the like. I don't think any of these things are inherently evil or bad for our kids. Much in the same way I don't think Heavy Metal can cause some teen to commit suicide, I also don't think a Bratz doll is going to turn a girl into a passive pole-dancing, no-voting, abuse allowing woman.

And still, I have a problem with the Bratz dolls and other toys like them. It's the same problem I have with women's fashion magazines. Even as adult women, we look at these and emulate them, aspire to them, we want what they wear, we want their smooth thighs, visible collar bones and thick hair. A lot of the things we want are a product of the images we have been bombarded with. High heels are not a natural feminine construct, they are what society has told us is feminine and sexy. Now, I love high heels but I love them in part because what they have come to represent for me.

Our girls look at the world around them to construct their idea of what they should and can be. It's not a conscious decision, it's choices made based on the choices we provide them.

I hear a lot of parents say, why can't we allow the girls their own predispositions to in part determine what kind of girl they will be? Oh, we should. One of my points in the previous post was that without a lot of interference, I was naturally a very girly girl, many of our girls are. So yes, the dolls and the pink and the dress up are fine. But why do we have to let them be sexy or provocative. Why do we need to allow them to aspire to icons and images that are unreal and unreachable. Isn't it bad enough that we already force this upon ourselves? Don't we already know as women how difficult it is to unprogram ourselves even in the full glaring light of the knowledge of why these images are thrown at us and how inconceivably unreal they are. And don't we still quietly aspire to them? Don't we want better for our girls?

Let me pose it to you another way, is it ok for our sons to be sexy and provocative. Should we dress them in uncomfortable tight pants and low necked shirts? Have you looked at the differences in the cut of girls and boys jeans lately? I remember a day when girls and boys jeans were nearly identical. Now, boys jeans are cut for comfort and movement, girls for silhouette. Even as moms we see images of cute girls and want our girls to be cute, we want them to be accepted, socially popular. My husband and I have a little rule of thumb with regard to the clothing we dress our girls in; if on me it would be sexy or fetishwear, it's not appropriate for our girls.

Like I said, I don't think letting your kid play with Bratz makes you an irresponsible parent but I do think we need to look at these things critically. None of our kids toys are just toys. Every toy we hand our children is a teaching tool. So we need to vigilantly ask ourselves, what is this particular thing or image teaching? I'll use an example of toy selection. I loved Barbies growing up and even though I am slightly conflicted about their impact on girls self-concept, I have allowed my girls to play with them. My five year old has Soccer Barbie, Barbie Space Camp, and Veterinarian Barbie. She doesn't have Barbie Totally Stylin Tattoos, Barbie Totally Nails, Barbie Wedding Day or Barbie Fantasy Groom. Can the girls aspire to be pretty, yes. Should they aspire to be pretty for pretty's sake? Are we making this too important to them by parading images of "beauty"? Are we making marriage and weddings a fantasy? Why not Barbie Totally PHD or Barbie Small Business Owner or Barbie Cures Cancer or Barbie EcoPatrol? You may say that your girls wouldn't want to play with these dolls but we don't even give them the chance. Instead we limit their options by telling them that the hair and the clothes and the accessories are the most important. I want to help define my daughters(and my sons for that matter) self-concept, not let Disney and Mattel do it.

Like many of you, I think you can allow your children to be around some of this. I don't think any of these things are inherently evil but my girls are bombarded with enough of these images every time we go out, I don't want to add to it at home.

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Sometims I forget as I dream about distant tropical locals and old European cities that I have a pretty kickass backyard.

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