Saturday, October 30, 2010

Damn you DNA!

I was so excited to get to spend last night hanging out with Second. Fourteen is a TOUGH age for a girl, but she and I have found some really good, connective moments lately. Times when it has just been the two of us, and I am so relieved to know that she is in there, still, although mostly lost amongst the teenage dramz of hair flipping and eye rolling and general parental avoidance that marks her current tribe.

She bought a new camera last week with the Gran money that arrived a few weeks ago. She really impressed me with how well she researched her choices, and narrowed down what features she wanted. The thing is -- it worked for two days, and then it went to some sort of techno heaven where I could not reclaim it, even after carefully following the directions in the manual. Of course, I had been the last one to use it, thoughtlessly (ahem) borrowing it to photograph her last field hockey game. So there was a good hour or so of "MOM! YOU BROKE IT!" followed by me frantically and also methodically trying to fix it.

I made the radical suggestion to take it back to the store and let the people who actually know about cameras try to fix it. The technician at the store was one of those guys who I totally get. He loves a puzzle, that one. From first sight I could TELL he was not going to walk away until he had cracked it. An hour later he had been on the phone to Zeus himself up there on Mount Olympus, and even Zeus couldn't fix it. Well, what do you know? It wasn't me at all. Even in the seemingly perfect world of cameras, a lemon craps out now and then. Did I get an apology? Nope, just denial. "What, mom! I never SAID you broke it!" Alzheimer's runs in my family, but it's not here YET peeps....So the technician asked us to come back today when the manager is there, and they are going to give us a new one, hopefully, since the camera *is* only two days old.

And Second went into the funk I know so well, but have never actually seen her do before. She is either getting a new camera, or they are going to send this one off to get fixed. It's going to get better. It is! But she stewed the whole way home. "I wanted the ONE THING I have wanted for ages to be perfect. But noooooo - I can't have ONE THING go right!" Oh, how the heart weeps to see the reflection embodied. All that whining aloud I have done in front of them seriously came back to bite me in the ass. I said all the things to her that I wish someone would say to me when I am being thoroughly martyred. And it did naught. Oh, Second. I do apologize.

And thus the Anne Shirley chorus erupted in my head: from now on I shall relentlessly seek silver linings and poop rainbows and laugh at tribulation, and quote the classic poets and be a GOOD MODEL for my children! Sure. That'll happen.

Right after Zeus calls to personally apologize for making a camera that was less than perfect, and provides us with a year's supply of free prints for our troubles.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Epic fail at failing

Everyone says I am too hard on myself. Everyone. For years now. Have I tried to fix it? Can't really say. I suppose I try to give myself a break now and then, but to be honest, I don't feel that I push myself that hard. If you saw my house, you would know what I mean....I think its more the case that I ream myself over everything I do wrong, and don't forgive myself for much.

Example: walked out of the house last night and was greeted by a flat tire on the car. Whee. Things like that are SUCH an interruption, aren't they? But really, I was quite lucky - I was home, everyone that needed to be somewhere was there, First let me borrow his car to drive Third to her game, and on the whole, no harm, no foul.

I didn't even address it last night. Have the day off, so I figured I would get around to changing it and then drive over to the dealership later today and get it straightened out. I was so stuck on the idea that I was going. to. put. the. spare. on. myself. Except that -- I couldn't. Could NOT get that stoopid locked bolt thing to turn, even the slightest bit. So I had to call AAA in the end anyway. And the guy changed it in two seconds, and life went on.

Here's how the Greek chorus in my head sounded:

I am woman, hear me roar!
God, please help me do this....I need to stand on my own two feet...
Of course you can't do this! You are a pathetic cartoon, call AAA already, like you are supposed to
I don't have any money to tip the guy, and he is going to hate me
Call AAA already, of course YOU can't change a tire!
The AAA guy is going to laugh when he sees how I tried to do it
Everyone is going to laugh at you - you suck at this. If you weren't such a fat, out of shape, goofball, it would be done by now.
Call AAA

I called AAA. And seeing it now, written out, I am getting a hint at why people might say I am rather hard on myself. I think the biggest question is why I hesitated calling AAA in the first place. I paid for the service, why not use it? Why did I want to do it myself so badly? Why do I think there is some inherent cool factor in doing stuff like this myself?

And why do I allow that Greek chorus to go on striping me? I wish I knew how to shut them off. It's like a double bind now. I hate how I feel when I listen to them, and I hate myself more because I put them there and have yet to figure out how to shut them off.


Monday, October 25, 2010

it glitters, but it's not gold

So, the Homecoming Dance was this weekend. First was going with his girlfriend, so he just took a shower got dressed and left, but Second took HOURS to get ready, get her hair and shoes juuuuuust right; clearly this was a major frock opportunity. We were invited over to the house of one of the girls in her class in order to take photos. How precious are these kids gonna get, I ask you? I think I *may* have yelled "Bye Mom!" on my way out the door to my Homecoming dance, but perhaps my memory slips....

Anyway, photo calls seem to be de riguer these days, so I dutifully trundled off to the photo call, with Second looking picture perfect.

The house was, in a word, stunning. Total tract mansion, complete with two story family room, "communications nook" (bulletin board and a phone for us regular folks), and my least favorite home feature EVER - the refrigerator with a facing panel that matched the ones on the cabinets. The husband, fresh out of Greek mythology, was meticulously dressed from head to toe in that "oh, these are my casual clothes!" look the rich so carefully construct and execute. The wife, all Lily Pulitzer size 2 ass of her, was the requisite beautiful, coiffed, perfect. I only saw the bottom floor, but it seriously looked as if Pottery Barn had exploded in there.

It was a lovely house, it really was, and the host and hostess had made efforts to make sure everyone was comfortable. Plates of sliced calzones set out, nibbles, a selection of sodas and water bottles. I had an iced tea and did my best to be friendly and meet people. I finished my iced tea, and nonchalantly asked Mr. Host where they kept the recycling.

"Oh, just chuck it right here in with the rest of the trash!" assured Mr. Host, even pulling out the garbage drawer, with detachable bag insert, to show me how easy it was to just throw it away. But I couldn't. We recycle EVERYTHING here on the Homefront, and there was no way I was going to add one more can into that bag of mixed trash staring me in the face. So I deferred and said never mind, I would just take it home with me and recycle it myself. And he was not offended, but he was brought up short. He accused me of being "a real greenie, huh?" And I said no, but I didn't back down, either. He then got all "oh, now I feel guilty!" at me, and I told him, not forcefully, but well, directly, "I don't want you to be guilty, I want you to be different!"

That house does not look beautiful to me now. Not one bit. How can people in this town, in 2010, not recycle? There they sit in a million dollar home, and they simply could not be bothered to do one simple thing - recycle. Hometown has curbside, single stream recycling. How much easier does this guy need it to get? What can be the rhetoric he uses to rationalize this behavior? Does he think it's beneath them? Do none of the uber rich recycle? Is it somehow some sign of less than stellar wealth? Do they not want to offend the neighbors by putting out a less than stylish green recycling bin? I just don't understand it.

I don't want too, either. This town really is just one big high school after all, but I just don't wanna play their reindeer games anymore. Mr. Host, you and Mrs. Host are picture-perfect, and all shiny on the surface. But your ignorance and complicity make me so sad, and frankly, very, very tired. If you need me, I will be under the bleachers with the rest of the nerds like me. The ones that will be carrying water for the beautiful people like you for the rest of our lives. Shame on you.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

a gun shot or a starter pistol?

I don't know why I even focused of the sound of the gavel. But oh, how that became the center of my thoughts. I obsessed over how my marriage, which started with a kiss, in a church full of people we loved, and who loved us, would end in a room full of strangers, with that bang of the gavel. I fixated on how it would sound like a gun shot, the shot behind the barn that would finally put the tired horse that the divorce had become to rest. The sound of ice cracking on an unsafe pond, and down I would go, submerged in icy terror, sure I would not survive. The sound of a shock, a rip in the air, death.

I was terrified of that noise. I thought about it all the time. How its sharp staccato would rip a hole in what was left of my heart. Finally tear in two the what was not totally broken. Not. just. yet. I was just sure it would echo in my head for years.

Except, someone asked me a tilting question. A woman I have never actually met and I can't even say for certain that I know her real name. She is a "friend" from an internet game I play, not even someone I really know, but all it took was one question from her to change the entire game.

What if it's not the sound of a fatal shot? What if you hear it as the sound of a rocket launching, fireworks going off, or...a starter pistol?

And that was it. Suddenly that sound I dreaded became open with possibilities. Could it be that I had the power to decide how that sound would, well, sound? The idea that I can have power over ANYTHING is still one I am getting used to. For 20 years I thought of him first, to the point where I could not even figure out if I was hungry, thirsty or tired, unless I thought of how he would feel about first. But maybe it's on me now. Maybe I could decide it was a starter pistol, and I could set the pace I run at. Wow.

I grow almost giddy with the opportunity, and more than a little overwhelmed at the responsibility. I DON'T WANT to be in charge, I whine. Oh feminist me, I must admit - I liked not having to worry about the 401k, the trash going out, the tax return. I thought that is how it went - you divided things up according to your skill sets. He did dead things in the yard and retirement savings, I did funerals and school visits (ofter indistinguishable, btw...). But if this is all up to my to decide - quelle horreur! What if I choose poorly? I am not always so sure which is the cup of a carpenter (and if you get THAT reference, congrats - we are now best friends, you and I....word!). And it won't be Elsa screaming whilst I turn into dust, it will be the children, my family, the other members of the coven. Didn't I see it coming? Everyone else knows, what's your problem? Suddenly I am 14 again, and hopelessly hopeless and just WRONG. No one to turf in onto, it's all my fault. I chose, I must deal with the consequences.

Interesting to note that in the movie in my head I am only ever wrong. Can't say I have spent a lot of time mulling over scenarios in which I get lots of things right and people admire "how well I have done." That one? Ummm.. ....feh. Not so much.

Of course the biggest joke of all is that in the end, no gavel. A simple nod, as the judge recited the line I am sure she has had to say too many times- She pronounced our marriage dissolved and that was it. No bang. No gunshot. No starting gun. I remember I watched the clock. Time of death: exactly 10:30 am.

But I have decided it was my starter pistol. If we accept that I have the power to decide what it was, I should also have the power to decide if it was. And I say it was so. A starter pistol announcing the start of my new life. The one where I decide what the sounds are.

....and she's off!