Or, What I Have Learned About Myself
Any of that surprising?
What have you learned about yourself?
I know, I know - Back to School always kills me. Every stinkin' year. You'd think, with 18 of these under my belt, I'd know that when I start to feel like I'm totally going to lose my cool all over the damned street, I should just take a step back and reflect and take a day or two. But! Like clockwork, every year - I'm on this blog, complaining like crazy. Just go with it, peoples. I'll be better - no, not better,not sane, but less crazy - by maybe the end of September.
I'm crazy because I have too much in my mind.
Tonight, when I stood in the shower and bitched and complained - out loud, to myself, with no audience - I decided to just let it all out. I was feeling very overwhelmed, frazzled and irritated at virtually everyone. Instead of bottling it up and then striking out - my typical M.O. - I just let loose and let spew.
It was a thing of beauty, those words dropping out of my mouth. Flying out with the accuracy of bullets would be more precise.
I've been feeling overwhelmed lately and I figured out why - it's because I'm expected - just like so very many of us, and I would venture to say, really ALL women - to do and know and say and respond and handle damned near every single thing about every single aspect of everything that we might touch, encounter, raise, teach, care for or be in charge of, be it a house, job, living creature, child, husband, parent -
you get what I'm saying.
Man, do I love the run on sentences.
Back to school is even more fraught with those things.
I did my first official 504 meeting - up until now, we've been at private school and it's handled differently. It was - an experience. I have had to do nurse visits and remember medication forms and asthma forms and go buy the stupid inhalers (those blamed things expire if you look at them crosseyed) and get epi pens and avi Q's in sets, plural. I'm responsible for making sure those kids are immunized, fed, clothed, wearing shoes - and they must be matching, the audacity - AND SOCKS.
And make sure no one forgot to wear deodorant.
I'm supposed to know that one needs 6 composition books (must be college ruled) and one will only use wide ruled paper and this one cannot possibly have the teacher that almost caused a nervous breakdown last year. Dont forget the notes to allow water bottles in the class and don't forget to buy multiple small bottles of Advil for each kid - and definitely don't forget the note granting permission. I'm supposed to know where I hid the bag of uniforms I haven't needed for three years - note: I still can't find it and I don't care anymore.
Please sign every form. Fill in every space, volunteer for every opportunity. I definitely should attend every open house, back to school, parent social, information meeting, book sale, PTA meeting, art festival, PE demo, be a room parent, send in gifts and work bingo. Cheerfully, damnit. Don't do it if you aren't cheerful.
I am supposed to remember the location of every.single.thing in my house and be able to lay my hands on it at any given notice. I'm supposed to remember that this one loves shrimp but another is allergic, one loves red peppers but not green and don't dare try to give this one Cheerios. I'm supposed to know the correct temperature to wash - AND DRY - every item of clothing in our house and find it in the dark, on the way out the door, with one hand tied behind my back on a day that Mercury is in retrograde.
Want to know how much laundry detergent/cereal/milk/spinach/floor polish/shampoo/chicken broth we have? Just ask me - I'm supposed to know within a millimeter. How did you possibly let us run out of laundry soap?? Want to know what's on the calendar next September 27? I'm supposed to know that too.
How many towels are under the sink? Who uses the special soap? Where can I find index cards, get a paper laminated, and where are the scissors? ASK ME.
Ladies, don't forget to work out for your health (and to stay slim), get your hair/nails/waxing done, buy cute clothes, learn how to do makuep, and wear the right shoes. Go to church and be active in your faith. If you have kids, make sure they say their prayers and model good behavior. Keep sweaters, wipes, extra food and changes of clothes on hand for anyone, for any situation.
Carry safety pins, too.
Remember to keep the sexy thoughts close by, so you can grab them right when you need them - but never, ever be too busy to drop everything and listen with both ears and total focus to the world's MOST meandering recitation of This one time, at recess? My friend... and the most boring play by play of your significant other's Monday morning 8 a.m. meeting - the very one you've heard about twice already, Keep a smile on while you do it, too.
And be ready to vomit the entire conversation back verbatim when asked.
Get everyone up, dressed appropriately, fed, out the door to school or work, home, fed, homeworked, exercised, showered, medicated, listened to, tucked in and out cold. Listen to the crisis du jour for each one, dispense wisdom and justice and courage and laughter, wipe tears and boo boos and support in times of anger and angst and sorrow and hilarity.
This doesn't even count the stuff I'm in charge of for work.
No wonder I'm crazy. I take heart, though - I think all of us are equally crazy.
I remember the first pair of high heels I bought. I saved my babysitting money – you know, at the time I only made two or three dollars an hour – and when I finally had saved enough money, I bought a pair of backless Candies.
Seriously, I couldn't try to even figure out why people stared at me when I walked down the aisle at church that first week. Now, now that I'm a grown-up, I understand that I must've looked ridiculous. But at the time, I was 14 or 15, and completely full of myself.
I have four daughters. I know that it's a rite of passage for girls to wear heels, but learning to walk in heels is a skill that takes a lot of effort.
And time. And effort.
My 17-year-old has walked in heels a few times, but it's not something in which she's completely confident, and so tonight, she put them on and attempted it once again. Young girls in heels for the first time completely forget that they have kneecaps, or ankles, and in fact they barely remember to bend their legs at the hip.
It's completely funny is what it is.
When she put them on tonight, she couldn't stand that we were laughing, and so she gave her two younger sisters a pair of heels. I finally put mine on as well, so that I could demonstrate the proper walking technique.
It was a riotous evening of fun – and the surprising part? The best high heel walker – besides myself of course – was my 10-year-old.
I think I have much to fear in the years ahead.
Every six months or so, I make an appointment. I take time out of my schedule to go get it done.
I consider it a very important part of my "Let's help Carmen look like she's not quite ready for the grave" scenario.
Along with coloring my hair, waxing those hairy bits of me, going to the dentist and doctor for checkups, buying contact lenses, wearing good makeup, using quality skin care, getting my nails done, exercising, trying to find clothes that flatter -
I go visit the bra shop.
I have been abundantly blessed with extra filling in that area of my body. So much so that it makes an undergarment a difficult purchase, for the band size is smaller than many feel the cup size should warrant. And, being that those larger than typical girls weigh more, they tend to wear out their restraints a bit quicker than typical, even though you hand wash those restraints in specially milled soap pressed from the tears of unicorns and scented with violets and rainbow water, never ever EVER using the washing machine OR the dryer, but allowing those special snowflake garments to trail like gossamer - Nazi German Prison Matron Gossamer - all over any available protruding protuberances in your bathing area.
And when you go to the only bra shop in the shopping mall -
you come out wearing the same size everyone else wears - 36C. Vicky, it's not a secret - your hot young things selling the goods don't know how to fit the goods. They can fill them out, but they can't fit 'em.
When you go to the professional store, and you disrobe in front of a little old woman whose nose is right on a level with your clavicle, and she lifts and tosses your girls over your shoulder and in every direction, having you bend over and stand up and shrug your shoulders one way and another and take a deep breath and now let it out and scoop and lift and press and shimmy and your modesty is gone in a flash and you talk more openly about your girls than you ever thought possible
And you try this one, which is not right, and the cup on this one is wrinkled, so even if you like it you can't buy it because it doesn't fit and she will be double dog damned if you are leaving without your girls looking amazing, even if one is bigger than her twin, and that more abundantly blessed girl is christened "Your Bad Girl" because it just doesn't want to behave and you talk hooks and straps and lining and lace and minimizers
And, finally, she is satisifed and you are exhausted and sweaty, hair all over the place and feeling as if you've been violated nine ways to Sunday and someone, somewhere, owes you a drink and a dinner
and the fact of the matter is that your size is so weird that the store only had one restraint in your size - which happens to be 32HH and 6 months ago was 32G, so the weight you've gained clearly went to your girls, so glad someone is not starving herself- and so they will order several more for you to try at absolutely zero obligation
and your girls look good.
And that's all that matters.
When I took my kids to Texas, we were able to visit Whataburger.
Now, you should know that I rarely eat fast food. Don't often take my kids to any of the choices. Nothing against people who do – it's just not my thing. But visiting Whataburger is a tradition – every time we visited my father, that's where we go. And I was anxious to take my shorties, neither of whom remembered ever having been there before. Well, I wouldn't say anxious, because that's overstating it. But they were super excited to go.
And if they're interested, I'm interested. :-)
My youngest pronounced it, "the best fast food I've ever eaten!". Her siblings agreed. When we got home, I decided that I would see if there was a location anywhere near us. Just for kicks. Just because they liked it, and Riley could not stop talking about it.
I decided to look and see if there was a location near us. I figured it was a crapshoot, especially because the restaurant chain is based in Texas, but I thought I'd give it a try. For my first step, I went to their website. I entered our city and ZIP Code in the Whatsburger website, and came up with no results found.
I then went to Google, just to look, and entered "Whataburger locations" into my search bar. The search bar completed itself, surprisingly, with a location in a neighboring city about 1- 1 1/2 hours from me.
I popped my four youngest in the car on Friday afternoon, and we headed for a "road trip adventure". I didn't tell them where we were going, but I did give them clues. The guesses included Cracker Barrel, Busch Gardens, and Great Wolf Lodge. Other guesses included: The Taste Unlimited, Olive Garden, and "somewhere to eat, can we be there already? Can we stop for a snack on the way?"
Tunnel traffic, weather, and accidents all conspired against us, and it was easily 90 minutes before we were there. People were crotchety. People were hungry. People were irritable. But then we pulled up in front of this, and their surprised faces made it all worthwhile.
It's totally not the same thing. I mean, it's not the same restaurant, it's not even part of the chain. It's a teeny tiny little place, walk up only, staffed by older church lady types, who call you "Dearie" and ask you, "Didn't you want no soda with that?" And they were really overwhelmed with customers, and it took a long time to get the food.
It was good, for fast food - fresh and hot. It wasn't too expensive, and the people were really super friendly.
It was a fun summer time adventure.
And I guess we will save our Whataburger cravings for our trips to see Grandpa.
In March, maybe April, I saw an offer on my facebook from a local photographer who specializes in vintage photography. She was offering a vintage photo shoot with old cars and trucks. Being that the only thing I love more than vintage anything is old cars and trucks, I asked for more info.
I went back and forth for a LONG time as to if I should do it.
Ultimately, I decided to go for it - even though I'm not feeling good about my looks right now. I didn't know if I'd ever get the opportunity to do it again, and I'm trying to be more, "Take each experience offered to you when it's offered" in my life.
Mainly, I wanted to get a new photo for my husband's desk. The picture he has of me is about 6 years old and I don't like it - but he loves it - I think it looks nothing like me. (Maybe that's why he likes it?) I wanted to try to get a photo that wasn't overly sexy, but nice enough - and safe enough - for a desk that sees many, many visitors.
So, I'm hopeful that he likes one of these.
All images from Pop & Locke Pin Up Photography.
So, um, yeah, it's Wednesday, and the weekend is not only in the distance, but we are coming up on another one. I have terrible time management skills I think. Here is some of the fun we had last weekend - wonder what will be on tap for this weekend?
My girls had their ballet performance. They couldn't quite believe that their mom, their old fuddy duddy mom, not only knew how to do stage makeup, but could actually do a pretty good job.
We had to bury the second hermit crab, which was devastating to the shortie brigade of the family. I'm thrilled that they departed our lives - I'm SO not an animal person.
But my shorties are deeply feeling people, and so we have tombstones, scattered flower petals. and remembered the lives of Coral and Hermie with a short prayer service and an off key rendition of Amazing Grace.
Please try not to notice that my fence needs to be painted. <sigh>
And then I had some fun, which will later be shared, with these guys....
So. Now that the weekend has passed, I can't very well ask what you did - so I wonder - what's on tap for you this upcoming weekend?
Please do not feel sad for me with this post - I'm just processing some things, and it's most helpful for me to write them out. I promise - I'm in a better place than I was.
Some of my best, most favorite memories of my sister in law are centered in holiday time, and Easter figures prominently.
And I've been reminded of it a ton this weekend, because, you know, it's Easter and all = and also because I have many Greek Orthodox friends (well, a handful, anyway) on my Facebook, and they talk a LOT about lamb in their posts, a few of them, and my sister in law, well, she was the lamb maker of the family.
I don't like lamb. I never did. Yucky stuff.
But my husband grew up eating leg of lamb roasted with garlic and little potatoes, and he never really asked for it, but it was a "thing" that my sister in law did for him and for the rest of the family. I never touched the stuff. But she'd always call me the day before, wondering when she should start it and when it might finish, how many potatoes should she make, when might we eat so that she could make it on time
And I didn't realize, until my niece brought it up, that, subconsciously, all day Saturday I was waiting for my phone to ring. Waiting for Jo to call me and talk lamb.
Two years ago, I decided I'd grill a pork tenderloin for Easter dinner. I bought a fantastic rub, rubbed it all over the pork, and let it sit in the fridge to get really good and tasty for a couple of days. I was nervous to make it, being that I'd never grilled one before, and I spent the entire day before researching the best method to grill it, how long, and at what temperature. Everything I'd read said to be SURE not to overcook it - that the new guidelines from the USDA said 145 internally was a great temp, not to worry if it was pink. (It's true. You can read it here if you want.)
Back up a second - it's important to know that my husband likes all of his food very, very well done, and he's super concerned about food not being done and becoming ill. No harm, no foul, right?
Except when you are so worried about the pork tenderloin, and you obsess over it, and you hang out by the grill with your sister in law (we really were the odd couple, together all the time) and you take it off the grill at just the right moment and you bring it in the house and let it sit for a few minutes and you slice it so beautifully and the entire family raves and your brother in law snags a piece and pronounces it delicious and everyone is so positive and pleasant about it
Except your husband, who decides, and reports, that you are CERTAINLY trying to give everyone in the family food poisoning by serving uncooked pork and tells everyone in a very LOUD and strident voice that they should most certainly NOT eat the pork tenderloin and he proceeds to grab it and wrap it in foil and
your sister in law, your very favorite, slaps the meat out of her older brother's hand and puts it BACK on the tray and then stands in FRONT of him to keep him away from the meat and they have a very loud and obnoxious discussion that ends with him grilling just HIS pieces until dark brown and your sister in law telling everyone how great you are and how delicious the pork is and your husband is telling everyone NOT to eat the pork, because they will certainly DIE and he gets more and more red in the face and so does she and you realize it's not all about the pork tenderloin, but it's more about an older brother who knows EVERYTHING and a younger sister who also KNOWS EVERYTHING
and thus, you have one of my favorite Easter memories with my sister in law - PorkGate2012. It wasn't funny then, but it surely is now - the memory of my small sister in law, yelling at her older brother in my defense. The way she always was.
Inspiration came from Kendra today, with some modifications from me.
What is the last thing you watched on TV? The news. I'm not really a TV watcher, but I do try to catch the news a couple of times a week - which goes hand in hand with the Today show. Gotta stay informed.
When did you last step outside? What were you doing? I just got home from picking up my kid from choir practice. It's FREEZING. While I was in DC, it was 70 degrees at home. Today? 36, with wind gusts of 35 mph.
What is on the walls of the room you are in? Pictures of my kids, pictures they drew, 2 white boards with work notes jotted all over, funny and sarcastic sayings - I'm in my office.
If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy? I'd have a lazy river pool put in my back yard, a hot tub and I'd redo my bathroom. And then I'd go to the bookstore.
Tell me something about you that most people don’t know. I don't think that there's anything about me you don't know.
Who made the last incoming call on your phone? Telemarketer.
What was the last book you read? I just finished Unbroken. I'm midway through Orphan Train.
If you could change something about your home, without worry about expense or mess, what would you do? I'd rip out the stupid garden tub in my bathroom, convert it to an enormous two or more person shower, with jets from all angles. I'd make the current shower in to a bunch of cool shelving.
What was the last thing you bought? I paid for golf team for my son. No, wait, then I went to Target, where I bought the following: Method laundry softener, razor blades, shaving gel, bandaids, deodorant for a kid, Ensures, cortizone cream, eczema cream, raspberries, strawberries, fresh green beans and cherry tomatoes. And Peet's French Roast K cups and half and half. Oh, and a new pair of sunglasses, since the old ones had a super scratch right over the middle of the lens.
If you could eat lunch with one famous person, who would it be? No one. I'm not a celebrity person. The reality is, eating lunch with a celebrity isn't a big deal to that person, and when you are done, they don't remember you and it made no mark on their lives. I once had lunch with Jillian Michaels and found this to be so true. I'd rather eat with someone who isn't famous, but to whom that lunch would mean something - really, mean something to both of us.
Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Sephora. All the way. Or Amazon, but that's not really a store, I guess.
Is the glass half empty or half full? Of what?
Name something that took you by surprise. When I took my kid to the doctor today to have her face looked at and we left with an ear infection - she has reported absolutely no pain.
Name one TV show you will watch every time it's on - Family Feud with Steve Harvey. That guy is hysterical.
Name a movie you will watch no matter how many times you've seen it. Overboard with Goldie Hahn.
What's your favorite musical? I have a ton, but probably Fiddler on the Roof, Rent, or Spamalot.
What’s the farthest-away place you’ve been? Vancouver.
What’s under your bed? The controls to my bed. I'm super anal about keeping it clean under there.
What is your favorite time of the day? When I'm in bed, reading for a few minutes. Everything is done - everyone is quiet.
What Inspires You? Really good writing.