Legal

Legal

As you probably know, not so long ago, Californians used the power of democracy to make recreational pot legal. If you’re an Angelino, then you were already used to having dispensaries on every corner, but now you don’t need a legit (wink wink) medical condition to purchase weed, you just need to be over 21 and ready to party.

First, let me admit that I am prejudice in favor of drinking. I’ve mastered it, at this point. I know not to drive, shop on eBay, or try any new hair removal products while under the influence.

Also, I still have some judgements about pot, probably stemming from it’s shady reputation on the legal front, and a lame boyfriend from the early 90s who still owes me money.

But I like to stay up on things.

I’ve got two teenage sons, and while we’ve talked at length about drinking and drugs, the dangers of getting into that while their young brains are developing, and the gigantic screw ups that can happen when you’re intoxicated, I’m not sure they take me seriously. Credibility is everything with kids, and I don’t want to come off sounding clueless.

Which is why I went to pot school.

My friend Wendy and I signed up for the respectable sounding “Plant Medicine: A Thoughtful Guide to Cannabis Use” workshop and showed up with sharpened number 2 pencils, ready to learn.

After signing in at the yoga studio where the event was hosted, we were greeted by our instructors, Jenna and Jenna. (I kid you not.) They couldn’t have been more lovely and, by the looks of it, not stoned.

We took our seats in front of a long table where the Jennas had set up small bowls of “flower”along with bottles, tablets, joints, bongs, and vape pens. Basically, all the stuff you dread finding in your kid’s backpack.

Wendy elbowed me. “Look at all that pot just sitting there.” 

It did seem strange. I looked around, feeling like any minute someone’s mom was going to storm in, with her hair up in curlers, and shut this whole thing down.

Then I realized, (some might say a tad late) oh yeah— we are the moms.

In fact, the room was full of our exact demographic, which actually made me feel pretty good. Forget the white Zinfandel and Andrew Bocelli CDs, sisters, we are on it!

The workshop started off with a brief history of Cannabis and the legal battles surrounding it, which have their roots in racism (big surprise), and continued with a little scientific info ,THC vs. CBD, terpenoids, and something called “the entourage effect.”

We took notes.

We passed a few buds around in little bowls and peered at them with magnifying glasses, sniffing them like a fine wine. It was pretty fancy and so LA.

The Jennas wrapped up class with a lively question and answer period, during which I asked about edibles, sharing that it was these that made me the most nervous when it came to my kids. When I said that being a more informed parent was one of my main reasons for attending the workshop, Jenna smiled and said, “Bless you.” I think she may have bowed a little. #potteacher’spet

We learned that, thanks in part to mistakes made in Colorado, California now regulates edibles (the candies, mints, baked goods containing THC) more strictly than it had when they were only sold as medicine. For this reason, it is now much more difficult to buy the amounts that would likely cause a severe reaction. Even still, the Jenna’s put on their serious faces, pointing to a graphic on the screen that they said was the most important of the day:

“You can always take more, but you can never take less.” 

While strains like Strawberry Cough, Pineapple Skunk, and Champagne Kush are hybridized to produce certain effects, the bottom line is that every body is different and only through trial and error can you really know what works, and what makes you want to wrap yourself like a newborn and hide under the bed for six hours.

I also learned that, unlike alcohol, there has never been a documented case of death or permanent physical harm from an overdose of pot. While it is possible to have too much (see above), and impaired judgement is a side-effect of marijuana use that can definitely lead to disaster, a binge drinker is at risk of dying of an overdose, while a binge smoker is probably only at risk for eating too much Kraft macaroni and cheese while couch-locked. Good to know.

The workshop left us feeling informed and curious.

Time for a field trip!

We decided to visit a dispensary called Urban Treez and strolled in all casual like. After showing our ID to a guy in the front who recorded our info (probably putting us on a watch list of badass hippie types, yo) we went up to the counter and met our young “budtender”, Angel. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

Perhaps embarrassingly,  I told Angel that I’m not that interested in getting stoned, but do have arthritis pain in my toes, and sleep issues brought on by peri-menopause, which I am hoping might be alleviated by a little ganja, so could he hook a sister mother up.

Angel suggested a  THC tincture called “Deep Sleep”, a CBD cream for pain, and a neat little disposable pen simply labeled CALM, which he said I could just “rip on.”

For medicinal purposes (ahem).

“How much?” I asked, holding out my credit card.

“That will be $120.00.”

Wt actual f???

It could be the 30% tax on cannabis products, but let me tell you—that shit is expensive. I imagined what my husband would think, perusing the statement at the end of the month. Let’s just say he might not understand.

“Hold up, Angel. I’m not sure I should put this on my card.”

Wendy and I huddled to discuss which product I should keep, and which I might put on next year’s Christmas list.

“If you don’t want it showing up on your card,” Angel said, “don’t worry. We run it through as Manhattan Clothing.”

Done.

After our products were all zipped up in the nifty child-proof bag they make you purchase ($1.50, but reusable), we said our good-byes and headed home, promising to report back after we’d tried out our products.

It was reminiscent of a Mary Kay party, only with armed security and more guys.

I ended up telling my husband all about it, of course, and he surprised me by being more open than I’d expected. As far as the products I purchased, here’s a quick review:

  • The “Calm” pen gave me a barely noticeable chilled-out feeling lasting about 45 minutes, which I chose to spend in a hot bath listening to the Oprah podcast (it’s still me, after all.) Not bad!
  • The sleep drops tasted like I imagine the Jennas’ bong water tasting, and acted like a shot of Nyquil. OK to have on hand, but not the sleep-aid of my dreams.
  • The CBD cream did nothing for my achey toes but made my feet soft and shiny.

The verdict? Even though I don’t think I’ll be adding another vice to the rotation at this point in my life, I did gain some knowledge and walked away with a more open mind, which is enough for me to call it a win.

Like, totally, dude 🙂

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Let It Go!

Let It Go!

This week, I was planning on writing about a book I just listened to, called Soulful Simplicityand how, while not exactly ground breaking, it had inspired me to do a major clutter clear and closet purge. (FYI, this moved me much closer to my lofty goal of creating my own capsule wardrobe for slackers, consisting of pretty much only jeans and white t-shirts. We will revisit this topic in future posts.)

But then, in keeping with my nature, another shiny thing caught my eye, and I dove head first down the rabbit hole of Bullet Journaling. I thought maybe I’d post about that instead, how it made me feel super organized, and also a little insane. images

The BuJo, as it is cringingly called, is either the neatest thing to spring forth from the personal productivity world, or sent directly from hell to make us all feel like losers with shit handwriting. In a bullet journal you track habits, make lists, and “migrate” tasks, all using colored pens and something called washi tape. It’s porn for the persnickity. It both soothes and creates anxiety and I totally dig it.

Soulful Simplicity and bullet journaling might seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum. One practice is all about paring down and getting less busy, and one practice elevates business to an art form, but it occurred to me that, for someone looking for order and reassurance, they fit together perfectly.

Get rid of all the stuff + Complete all the tasks = You will be OK.

My sister told me once that she is sometimes scared when she rides her big horse, Sharkey. At first I was surprised because I’m the kind of person who, if at all possible, tries never to do anything scary, so people who “feel the fear and do it anyway” are like sparkly unicorns in my world. The fact that at any moment Sharkey could decide he’s had enough and throw her off, doesn’t dampen the joy she feels as she gallops him around.

It would appear then, that it’s possible to hang on and let go at the very same time. Who knew?

Anyway, tomorrow I have a task written in my bullet journal: surgery.

Yep, tomorrow I will be bidding a fond farewell to my uterus. For all who have listened to my epic period stories and TMI rants about the whole sitch down there, this is indeed an event worth celebrating. It’s nothing really serious, but it still feels like kind of a big deal, parting with a body part and all.

There are only empty pages in my journal after the word surgery, because I have no idea what to expect, how long it will take me to recover, or just how it will feel to have my uterus gone. I can’t know for sure yet, but I imagine it’s not all binge watching The Crown and eating take-out. There are so many places my dark mind can go with this.

Will I have regret that I didn’t try more herbs, more acupuncture, more positive thinking to cure the stupid condition that got me here? (See? Bad attitude.)

Should I have taken the suggestion of the Chinese doctor who said I could fix fibroids by hula hooping a half hour every day? I mean, I hula hooped occasionally, but I never really committed to it, if I’m being honest.

Maybe I’m a quitter.

How long before I feel like my old self again, and should that even be the goal?

Or maybe none of that will occur to me, because maybe, just maybe, I will be too busy shouting from the rooftops— YeeeeeeeHaawww!! Free at last! Free. At. Last.

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I might look back on our trip to Hawaii, last summer where I was dead sure I would be eaten by a shark on account of leaking blood like a fucking sieve, and feel only pure relief to have that chapter closed.

Staring at all those blank pages in February, I can’t help it— I want to know what to expect. 

Hold please, while I consult my pretty Bujo “Feelings Tracker.”

Nope, some things, like feelings, can’t be planned.

Hard truth, I guess: Letting go is always a little risky, even when it’s liberating.

Which brings me back to closet cleaning. Right now, my closet is full of empty hangers, and I’ll admit, it’s a little tough to let go. What am I doing, I think? I’m not ready. I need these things. Even though I haven’t worn or thought about them in years, they feel like part of me, and I want them back.

I want the crochet poncho I made a decade ago, because it’s not just some ugly poncho, it’s  hours spent at home with my babies, and the rhythm of those early years. I want the cute velvet jacket because it’s me, twenty pounds ago, with a career and my own apartment and all that discretionary income. Sigh.

It’s not the things I’ll miss, it’s the person I was when I had them.

Look, I’m not saying that parting with a pair of tired wedge sandals is the same as having an organ removed but, in a way, for me, it’s not completely different. I’m ready for this operation– I’m past ready. It is my choice and I am lucky beyond measure that I am able to have it done.

Yes, and…

I just have to take a moment.

When I got pregnant I couldn’t believe the whole system actually worked the way the films in health class said it would. It seemed crazy— while I lay around eating gyros and watching Seinfeld, my uterus held the developing human, kept them hydrated, and even made a placenta, for god’s sake.

And when having a vbac with my second son, I was amazed at how my uterus ran the show. She performed like a champ, this organ that I’d barely noticed all my life, doing most of the work, contracting and pushing out an actual person. A miracle.

You did it, old girl. Thank you.

It feels really good to have those memories, and those aren’t going anywhere. As for the rest of it, I’m taking the reins, and letting it go, even if I’m a little bit scared.

Alrighty then. See y’all on the flip side 🙂

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Surrender the Pink

Surrender the Pink

You know how sometimes you have a little extra time on your hands? Or maybe you just drive by something you’ve driven by a million times before, but suddenly you’re like, “What the fuck??”

Back in early October, I had one of those moments.

See, there are these pink vans peppered about my fair city, advertising a topless maid business. I’ve driven by them for years, rolling my eyes. Once my boys were old enough to read, they asked a lot of questions about them. From the backseat of our minivan I’d hear, “Mom, what is a hot topless maid?” “How come they’re hot?” “Is that why they take their shirts off?” “Is $99 a lot of money for a topless maid?” 

We had some interesting conversations about sex, politics, and jerks in those tender years. The looks on their shining faces gave me hope. They instinctively understood that the whole enterprise was a little whacked.

As years passed, I’ll admit, we all got used to them. The vans were like roadkill– only disturbing if we stopped to notice, and mostly we didn’t. (It’s kind of scary, the things we can stop noticing, which is maybe how free societies crumble, not to be dramatic or anything.)

Then for whatever reason, one night back in October, I saw one, parked in front of a crappy strip mall not far from my house, and I heard a voice saying, “This is bullshit.”

I stopped the car and left a nasty note on the windshield telling the owner exactly what I thought, signing it “A mother who is your worst nightmare!” Shout out to the random guy who snapped this pic:

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The note stayed untouched for a few days, and I realized that no one was tending to these vans at all, and that whatever message I left would only ever be seen by the people passing by.

So what did I want to say?

Well, here’s what I didn’t want to say:

I didn’t want to blame the women working for this man. I didn’t even want to call into question his right to have this business. It’s a free country (sort of) and this is apparently all legal and legit.

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Time out– just so you know what page I’m on. To me, there’s a difference between nude dancers, and maids who are paid to clean naked. There just is. The number plastered on the side, 1-800-SO-DIRTY, says it all. It’s the power play there that makes this disturbing. While that kind of thing might be fun and a-ok between real life lovers, when money (power) is in the picture, let’s be real.

Oh, and also, the guy with the money (power) in this scenario is a total stranger to the woman. I ask you- What could possibly go wrong???

Even though I am no fan at all of this guy or his business, my goal was just to get him to stop taking up our public parking spots with his offensive advertising, and to start a conversation about the message these vans send. He gets a voice, so I do to, was my thinking.

Free country.

Over the next few months, I had my say:

At one point, photos of the signs were posted on another neighborhood’s Next Door page, and the response was encouraging. That was when I realized that it wasn’t just my friends who were giving their thumbs up. Lots of people responded that they also resented the presence of these vans in their neighborhood.

Then this happened:

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It totally wasn’t me, I swear. Neither was the bent license plate, windshield wipers, or the note on the windshield reading, “Sugar in the gas tank, asshole— more to come!”

This van was gone the next day. The. Next. Day. Gals, it’s possible that our good manners are slowing us down. Just sayin.’

As for me, I played nice.

I made online complaints to parking enforcement, emailed and called my LA City Council member, called local law enforcement, and the Department of Transportation to register complaints. Legally, vehicles can not be parked on public streets for longer than three days, without being moved. Even though every person I spoke to agreed that the vans should go, no one was optimistic.

It seemed like nothing short of spray paint and elbow grease was going to work.

Then, last week, I drove by the spot where one of my vans has sat for months, and saw this:

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Gone. Just like that.

I couldn’t believe it.

I’d become so used to feeling like nothing I do matters, that I was nearly knocked off my feet at this tiny ray of hope. I was on top of the world and utterly proud of myself, for about a whole minute.

After all, the truth is that there is no way of knowing whether my actions had anything to do with the van disappearing. There is no doubt that it took several people registering complaints, and the passage of many weeks before that one van disappeared. When some of my friends congratulated me, I was honest when I said I didn’t think I could claim any credit.

But y’all – it felt SO good to think I had had something to do with it.

Like a lot of women socialized to reign it in, I didn’t like sounding too big for my britches. I didn’t want to sound like I thought getting a van towed meant anything in the grand scheme of community action.

There are people living on the streets, after all.

The thing is, when I feel I can’t make a difference, I stay home. I look away. I hush my mouth. What if calling really did help? What if, very secretly, I let myself believe that I can be heard?

I think it’s worth fanning that flame.

I love imagining the conversations that might be happening in cars driving by those vans. “Mom, what’s misogyny?” is a pretty awesome opener, don’t you think? Fan that flame, sister!

At home, my husband had made the same calls to the city I made, and was feeling his own glow of satisfaction. Ever the buzzkill, I reminded him that that particular block is still pretty shitty, managing to add “but at least now, it’s a little less shitty.”

For now, that feels like a call I can answer. I can just try to make things a little less shitty.

In the words of my anonymous pink spray painting comrade,

“More to come.”

Door Dreaming

Door Dreaming

‘Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.” —- Virginia Woolf

Wednesday of last week: I wake early, make coffee, and settle in on the couch in our sunny front room to meditate for a few minutes, go over the day’s schedule, and squeeze in a bit of writing before the house wakes up at 7:00.

It’s easy to get distracted by the morning sounds of garbage trucks and leaf blowers in our neighborhood, but I’m learning to say, “this too” when aversion bubbles up. It works ok.

Then I hear my husband come in and pour his coffee.

Damnit, already?

This too.

That’s kinda bitchy of me.

This too.

I say a quick amen, on the off chance there’s anybody out there, take a breath, and open my laptop. I have an idea and want to get it out before it loses that shimmer of urgency. This doesn’t mean it’s a good idea, but I’ve been going through such a dry spell that any idea is reason to fall down and kiss the ground.

So I get right to it. Tappity-tap-tap-tap go the keys.

Enter, Chris, who settles across the room from me and smiles. “Morning, baby.”

I want to hurl my laptop at him.

I feel a self-righteous anger way waaaayy out of proportion to the situation. Clearly, we must divorce.

This too.

“Were you writing?” He asks.

“Yes,” I answer, already softening because he thought to ask. Being asked feels like being seen, and that feels like love to me.

“Oh, sorry. I’ll go in the other room,” he says, in a way that tells me he is completely fine with it.

“No, that’s ok, you don’t have to go,” I call after him, guilty.

What a bitch I am. He just wanted to say good morning, and moments alone together don’t happen all that often. Looking down at the screen, I’ve lost hold of the thread and wonder why it even matters. Let’s be honest, this thing I take so seriously is really just a hobby, bringing in no money, taking focus and energy away from the people I love.

I’m reminded of a quote from Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art. “Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.”

Apologize later and let it pass, I think.

This too.

I’ve just started typing when I hear my youngest son’s door open. His hair is sticking up every which way as he shuffles in and, still warm from sleep, sits next to me. His head rests in my lap and I shift my computer to the arm of the couch.

“Good morning. You’re up early,” I say.

It’s impossible to be mad. He is twelve, and every one of these minutes is precious. I want to keep writing, but I also want to be in this moment with my boy, who won’t be a boy much longer.

I can do both, I decide. Tappity-tap…tap…

It kind of works.

In a way.

But then he’s up and in the kitchen. (Insert Foley effects for: getting the bowl, the spoon, pouring the cereal, the milk, stubbing toe, dropping the spoon, etc.) My lap is empty. The day has begun.

We need more doors, I think.

That is when, as if on cue, our dog Jackson gallops in and makes a flying leap onto my couch next to me. I nudge him away and he settles next to me to lick the cushions until time for his walk. I make a mental note that he is cute but a little gross, and to wash the slipcovers. Trying to find my train of thought again, I hear Jackson on my left, making a noise.

This too.

My brow is furrowed. I type.

The sound persists but so do I until, finally, I turn and find the most lavish display of dog barf I have ever seen. It is everywhere.

This too?

Thus ends the time allotted for writing that day.

Reader, if you think I sound like a privileged housewife, whining about how she gets no respect, well, I’m sure there’s some truth to that. But the need for solitude is basic and profound.

I notice how my fourteen year old has taken up the habit of staying up well past the time the rest of us have gone to sleep. He uses the time to watch old t.v. episodes of Mission Impossible, draw, create, and raid the pantry for snacks. For those few hours, this is his place. I understand how great that feels, and I am happy he’s found that pocket of time for solitude. It’s important.

But the fact is, both of my sons have a room with a door. We have a knock first policy, so they maintain privacy. My husband has an office and, while I know he’d prefer to spend less time there, it does provide solitude when needed.

It has a door.

Several weeks ago, I created this setup in my closet. I wanted to finish a piece I was working on and it actually did the trick. IMG_0655But it also made me want to sob into my pillow. Still, I’m trying to figure out if I can make this a working space. It will require getting rid of most of my clothes, which may be a decent trade, at this point.

Am I privileged? Yes. Obviously.

I have a home and a support system for which I am always wholeheartedly grateful. But the struggle is real for women, especially mothers, who want to want to be creative in the way that requires solitude. We are socialized to believe that it is wrong to ask for it.

“There’s a season for everything,” friends have told me. Roughly translated this means: “You can’t have that now, maybe later.”

Maybe. Unless something or someone else requires your time. And there will always be something else.

Last night I had a dream. Actually, it wasn’t really a dream, exactly. I heard a voice. Creepy, I know.

“Maggie!” was all it said, but it sounded angry and was scary enough that my eyes flew open the second I heard it. It wasn’t my husband, who laughed this morning when I told him about it.

The voice meant business. It was pissed.

My babies were all asleep. The house wasn’t on fire. So what could be so urgent that needed my attention?

What, indeed.

I’m really curious– do you have creative projects that require time and space alone? Have you carved out a corner, a niche, or have you found a door you can close? Maybe you haven’t but you want it so badly that you are screaming on the inside, ashamed of what that must look or sound like on the outside.

Well, I see you.

No shame here, my friends. No shame here.

WillyWonka_veruca

It’s a Dirty Job and Somebody’s Got To Do It

It’s a Dirty Job and Somebody’s Got To Do It

 

Summer’s coming and I am glad.

HowEVER…

While I love the change in routine that summer brings, there are some very key ways that I would like this coming summer to NOT resemble last summer. I’m a big fan of free time for kids. You know, time to decompress, daydream, be a little bored. That sounds good in theory but in reality, last summer, this was me:

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And this was them:

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As much as I hate to admit it, I do way too many things for my kids, and not because I’m all that nice. I just forgot to notice that while I’ve been busy wiping counters and making haircut appointments, they have been growing up.

And so it has come to pass that I am, in many ways, exactly the kind of mom I always swore I would never be.

Let me paint a picture: Recently, I handed my 14 year old a can opener to use, and he looked at it like this:

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That was my ah-hah moment.

This kid is capable of so many things. He is a fine upstanding gentlemen in the making and yet my perfectly smart enough teenager is mystified by how to get to the refried beans.

(Note to my son, on the very off chance that he may one day read this: Dude, this is on me. Why, if you have someone removing from under your bed the cereal bowls that have grown fur, would you ever need to do it yourself? And, in fairness, our can opener sucks. But still.)

I decided to do a little online research, with the goal being to find someone better at all this than me, and just, you know, do what they do.

Here’s a chart I got from a blog called Modest Mom. Her world view and politics are pretty polar opposite to my own, but you know what? She’s got six– count ’em six kids and they all do shit!

According to her chart, my boys have been skating by like eight year olds when it comes to their domestic duties. So while I may not want to party with this gal, I say don’t be modest, sister, because– except for the part where you give a pass to those freeloading one year olds— you are killing it in the child labor department!

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Sheesh- my kids don’t have to do daily Bible study and they don’t do half this stuff.

For. Shame.

But today is the first day of the rest of my life, and as Modest Mom is my witness, here’s what my two little stinkers will be doing come September, or else. (Do not ask me or else what. I don’t know what. Something tells me MM would have a few ideas.)

Make their own lunches. I can’t believe I’m outing myself here, but I’ll admit this has been a control thing for me. What can I say, I’m a little weird about the balanced meal thing. (Humble brag– learned it on Facebook.)

But here’s the thing– they don’t eat what I pack anyway, so I am finally doing what I should have done years ago: giving up.

I have a feeling Giving Up is the secret sauce to sane parenting, at least as it applies to cleanliness and feeding. So, I will clear my house of all the crap “food” and they can have whatever is left, with no comment from me.

Late to the party, I know.

Wash their own dishes, like, ALL THE TIME. Gone are the days when I will put lipstick on the pig of housework and try to make chores fun. My dear husband is a great one for turning on loud classic rock during dinner clean up, and that’s fine because he likes it, but I actually do not see this translating into my sons wiping down the stove with any more gusto than if AC/DC wasn’t blasting from the radio.

My plan includes a rotating schedule for dinner dishes, and then a clean-as-you-go kind of thing for the rest of the day. Loud music, timers, games and cheeriness optional.

Cook something that isn’t a quesadilla. My boys have inherited their dad’s complete and total aversion to all things culinary. When they were little, we baked bread. I know because I have the pictures to prove it. We made cookies and pancakes, and they took to it so naturally, it seemed, but it turned out that what I thought was an aptitude for cooking was really really just an aptitude for licking the bowl.

To all the young moms out there who’s kids love gardening and grocery shopping and your favorite bands, I say enjoy it now because one day all those things you thought you knew about your little darlings will come crashing down around you and you will be face to face with someone who is probably totally awesome but who is maybe not awesome in the exact way you *planned* for them to be awesome, and this can be quite a blow.

Just saying.

To get my kids up to speed with the pits and pans, I (with the help of Blue Apron 2x a week), plan to change that. I’m hoping that all that practice assembling Lego sets will come in handy when I hand them the box. What could possibly go wrong??

Do hard work that is not pretend hard work. Guilty. I have given my kids faux chores for years to make myself feel better. I could sleep at night knowing that my kids were not some special snowflakes– no! They fed the dog, for god’s sake. They unloaded the dishwasher and made sure the toilet was flushed before company came over (keeping’ it classy, y’all). I was raising young men who would know the value of hard work; why just look at them sweep the front porch, would you???

You guys, those are the same jobs they’ve had since they were in booster seats, and while I give them props for never giving me grief about doing them, I think that might be because they just don’t want to call attention to the sweet gig that they’ve had for the past several years. The last time I sent my son out to weed the front yard, he lasted twenty minutes and then needed to convaless for the better part of the afternoon.

No more, my darling.

Time to get real. Our fridge needs cleaning, the garbage bins need scrubbing and the patio furniture needs scouring.

From here on out, I will perform the duties of my new job as my sons’ Uber, with a smile. This will, however, require that I resign, effective immediately, from any job that includes me sweating under my boobs while scraping melted fruit rollups off the backseat of our Honda.

Seems like a fair trade.

In closing, this summer will not be last summer. This summer we will disperse the load. This summer I will give up a little control and my boys will give up a little free time, and all of us will struggle with that, I’m sure. But I’m optimistic.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

 

Stealing Time

Stealing Time

I am not what you’d call a fast writer.

I’m also not great at fitting writing into little nooks and crannies. In order to get anything down that makes sense, I need decent chunks of time. In my next life I’ll be super productive (I’ll also play the banjo, have delicate ankles and a good sense of direction), but for now I  have to accommodate this weakness.

Because we homeschool, solitude is in short supply, so I schedule a few hours on the two days when both my kids are in class, and I try hard to keep that appointment with myself.

I haven’t told many people about my writing time until now.

It feels undeserved. I haven’t done anything to earn it, in fact it actually costs me five bucks every time, on account of the dirty chai latte my thirsty muse requires.

But my life is full of things I don’t deserve. I am privileged AF.

PS: This is weirdly hard to talk about.

Remember that Seinfeld episode where Jerry compared the two kinds of naked? There was the attractive naked, he said, e.i. naked while brushing your hair, and the unattractive naked, i.e. naked while opening a pickle jar?

Stay with me.

Right now, I feel like I am naked, opening the pickle jar.

I imagine you wondering why, if I have this time

  • Do I have so many typos and grammatical screw-ups on my blog?
  • Don’t I employ a fucking thesaurus instead of resorting to all the four letter words since they are (I’ve been told) just lazy writing.
  • Do I not donate those five hours to helping others, instead of contemplating every waking moment of my completely regular life.
  • And finally, with all that time, why don’t I get a job, or a degree, or at least a gym membership, for gods sake??

If you’re not wondering those things don’t worry, because I certainly am.

I told a friend on Facebook recently that when I hear that critical voice I try think of it as a man named, oddly enough, Donald, and I like to tell Donald to shut the fuck up.

Try it. It’s satisfying on many levels.

Donald thinks he knows what people should do. He thinks money is the same as value. He thinks the world has enough blogs, paintings, poems, popsicle trucks and hamster sanctuaries, so zip it already and just be happy driving the carpool.

Telling Donald to back off  keeps me writing, and keeps me holding on to the hours I need to do it, but it’s not easy.

This morning I was talking to my friend Jo Dee, and I told her about my weekly writing date and how I’ve kept it secret because it feels self indulgent. Like a great pal, she didn’t miss a beat.

“It’s not self-indulgent, it’s your job.”

“Jo Dee, it is so not my job.”

“Writing is absolutely part of your job.”

“Writing is how I keep from going insane.”

“Well maybe that is your job… no offense.”

Ouch. That left a mark, but I loved her for it.

Up till now, I’ve hid my secret by just saying “I have some errands to run” or “things to do,” stopping short of actually lying, but not by much.

In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, she suggests treating your creative time like you would an affair. If you had a hot lover on the side, she says, you would steal any time you could to be with them. You would lie, you would sneak, anything would be worth just a few hours. She suggested we treat our creative time like that.

I love her analogy because that is exactly how I feel!

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Here’s Mark Ruffalo giving me a writing prompt. “Twenty minutes on your best meal ever– go, baby, go.”
As Emily Dickinson wrote, “The heart wants what it wants.” Time is a luxury I can’t pay for, but I want it all the same.

So I steal it.

I steal it from my from my family, my community, the causes I support, and all the other things I tell myself a good person does.

When I was a teenager, my father once said to me, “You’re no bargain, Mag.”

That explains a lot, I thought.

Who knows what he was talking about. It might have had something to do with me being a pain in the ass, because I totally was. He didn’t know that I would drag those words behind me for the rest of my life like a corpse, forever trying to be what I thought he wanted: a bargain.

But I would never feel like one.

So when I was saying good-bye to Jo Dee this morning, she told me to enjoy my writing  time. “Don’t lie about it,” she said. “Own it!”

But is it possible to own something you’ve stolen?

Maybe I should stop shaming on it and just say it. “I’m going to be writing from 9-12 today at the cafe across from the Indian grocery. I’ll be home after that.”

Bam. Just like that.

I am aware that it is not fair.

I am aware that I am not bringing in a dime with my writing. Not a dime. Probably ever.

I am aware that there are some things that don’t get done because I am here, from 9-12, at the cafe, across from the Indian grocery.

I am aware that Daddy may have been right. I am not a bargain.

But I am

free.

 

 

Faking It

Faking It

“Change is the only constant in life.” — Heraclitus

I have two sons, a teenager, and one soon to be. When they were younger, sometimes the only way I knew to how to show up was to just stone cold fake it.

Whether it was pretending that I wasn’t terrified of flying in order to get my then five year old  to board a plane, or acting like the toddler classes at My Gym were fun, and not actually the tenth fucking ring of hell, IMAGE_My_Gym_Children-s_Fitness_Center_4_mediumfaking it has always been a useful strategy in my mommy tool box.

People say little kids can tell when your lying, but I’m happy to call bullshit on this  myth because my boys fell for all of it.

Thank god.

Pretending I was relaxed and in control allowed me to be what I thought was a better version of myself, and I wanted that for my kids.

But lately faking it has started to feel, well, fake.

Last weekend, for example, I drop my oldest off at his sex-ed class, you know, like you do.

(I’ll for sure be writing more about the whole sex-ed thing. It’s a great program you can learn about here.)

Anyhoo…

Afterwards, I’m in the car with my eleven year old, who’s using my phone to find an age appropriate educational podcast we can listen to on the way to the park (not really – he was playing Doodle Jump), when a text comes in. It’s the teacher of the class, a friend of mine. From the back seat, 11 reads it to me. “We need fifty condoms, asap”. Apparently there was some kind of game planned for class that day and they were short a few supplies.

“Tell her I’m on it!” I chirp. I am the go-to mom, I think to myself, with satisfaction. Yep- cool and capable, that’s me.

On a roll, I decide to take advantage of the teachable moment and make sure 11 is up on all things condom. I keep it real matter-if-fact, like they tell you to, explaining to him in simple but accurate language, how they are used and why.

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I’m doing great, I think to myself.

But as we get out of our car and enter Rite Aid, I start to feel the tingle of something like embarrassment creeping up on me. I try to shake it off. Buying condoms is a life skill, I tell myself. “Come on, let’s make it quick, kiddo!”

(Time out— Just so you know, I am not usually hung up about sex stuff. Seriously. It’s probably one of the few hang-ups I don’t have, but I haven’t bought condoms since grunge bands were a thing, and apparently I am a little out of practice.)

So after going up and down every aisle, passing right by all the normal mothers who are there for sunscreen, or Claritin, we finally find aisle seven, now more aptly known (by me) as The Sex Aisle.

“What are those?” My son asks.

“Condoms,” I answer brightly, “like we were talking about in the car.” No biggie, I think, perusing the vast array of choices.

“Why are there so many kinds?”

Clearly, I am a what they call an “askable” parent. Awesome! But I ignore his query for the moment, and dig around in my purse for a pair of readers.

“Back up honey,” I say, “Mom needs to see.”

Someone passes behind us. Did I imagine it, or was that a snicker? I feel my face flush. I just need the cheapest, biggest box, and I need to get it before anyone comes and judges me for being all sexed up and desperate for rubbers at two in the afternoon.

Peering over my shoulder to get a better view of the merch, 11 asks, “Do they mean the skin of an actual lamb?”

Reader, I’m totally down with this conversation. I read Meg Hickling’s book, and at the right time I am capable of answering all these questions and more, but at this moment, I am feeling fifteen years old and I just want to get the goods and get the hell out of there.

I lift the plastic door of the case to grab some Trojans (brand loyalty is alive and well) when–DIIIIINNNGGG! An alarm sounds, making us both jump.

“What’s that?” 11 asks, but I’m busy reading the box I’ve snagged. Twenty-six, not nearly enough. Shit. I go in again.

DIIIIIINNGGG!!

“Are you stealing?” My son asks, as I frantically search for a bigger box, knocking something called a Pleasure Pack to the floor. I’m intrigued, but need to stay on task.

I reach in and quickly try to put it back—

DIIINNNGGGG!!

For the love of all that is holy,  can a person not just buy fifty condoms without the world knowing??? With sweaty palms, I fling open the cabinet, and try for a different box.

DIIIINNGGG!!!

“Security check on aisle seven!” blasts over the store intercom.

“Let’s get out of here,” I hiss.

As we make our way to the registers, I grab a few other things— index cards, pencils, Us Magazine, just to round out my haul.

“You dropped these,” 11 says, handing me a supersize box of Stimulations Ultra-Ribbed. My eyes dart around as I shove them in my basket.

At the front of the store, the cashier on register #1 looks a little judgey to me. Reguster #2 is some poor high school kid, so I opt for the zoned out woman on the end, and casually place my items on the counter for her to scan.

11 is watching me with a smile that says, “who are you trying to fool?  

I have to laugh

Once again, I’m trying to fake being cool, but he sees right through the act.

And you know what? It’s a relief.

The last thing my kids need is yet another person in their lives who is pretending they have everything figured out. Life is awkward, and strange, and sometimes you get embarrassed even when you know you shouldn’t be. Being myself is the only parenting trick I have left, and it’s no trick at all, which doesn’t mean it’s always easy.

The automatic doors slide open and we leave behind the frigid air of the pharmacy, plunging into the warm afternoon sun.

Just for a moment, the change takes my breath away.

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