May 3, Houston: The big one -- the Inprint reading -- occurs at the Alley Theatre on Monday, May 3. Do not miss it or you'll be sorry. I'm not kidding -- I'm going to say the craziest, most intellectual yet hilarious stuff I can think of, and I'll be sharing the stage with the ultra sexy Oscar Casares, too.
June 24, Houston: I'm one of the peeps scheduled to read at Poison Pen, at Houston's famous Poison Girl bar. Besides me, everyone there will be ultra, *super* sexy. Come see me and drink!
June 26, Washington, DC: I'll be reading at the American Library Association conference. Come on down.
My other blog: Go read my the Houston Chronicle parenting blog (or my ChronMomBlog, as I like to call it) and make sure my kids won't resent me more than other kids resent their own parents.
Buy my new novel, Lone Star Legend. Already did? Well, buy a few more for your friends, then. :)
Sunday, April 04, 2010Hi, y'all.
Guess where I've been. Give up? I've been home working on my next novel, or at a coffee shop working on my next novel, or at my friend Ashley's house, working on my next novel while she paints her next painting.
Or, more likely than that, I've been procrastinating and making excuses for not working on my next novel. Other than that -- including that, actually -- life is pretty great here. Hope yours is, too.
Come see me at the Inprint reading in Houston, at the Alley Theater on May 3, if you want to see me. They let you submit questions, so someone submit a hilarious one. Don't submit something like, "How did you become a writer?" or "What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?" because someone else already submitted those. Also, don't submit, "How are you Hispanic if you look white to me and I don't know you or anything about you and I've never read your writing but you look white to me so is that your husband's last name and why are there Hispanic people around you saying they're your dad and your cousins, I mean you look white to me so why are people saying that you're Hispanic?" because someone will undoubtedly stand up and ask that at the reading without submitting it beforehand. It's pre-ordained.
(My answer is always, "Meet me outside after the reading for a Taco-Off and we'll find out who's Hispanic, then, motherfucker." Then, after the reading, I just leave. But I do usually have a couple of tacos at Taqueria Laredo on Washington Avenue the following morning. They make the best picadillo -- reminds me of my Aunt Sylvia's.)
Pop Culture Obsessions
I was going to ask y'all if you knew of a DJ/electronica/hip-hop person named Dabrye, and if you liked him as much as I'm starting to, but then I refrained because I'm starting to realize that i have sort of unusual taste in music.
I used to think that I had excellent taste in music and that most other people didn't, but now I'm just accepting the fact that there are different kinds of tastes in music and everyone has whatever works best with the active nerves in their brain. See, I'm reading Oliver Sacks' Musicophilia right now, and all the stuff he's saying fits in with my newly hatched theory that the brain of any given human who likes music must like it in a certain range of frequencies. A lot of people enjoy a higher frequency range than my brain enjoys. Like Passion Pit, Fleet Foxes, the Raveonettes, the Whatever-Os, and the Whosits... all those people sound too high and tooth-grindy to me. I like stuff that I can only describe as lower, but which my husband might describe as too minimal, too repetitive, too subtle, too depressing, or just too. Just too not-Passion-Pit, he means.
And that's okay. Our brains are different. Why would you want to be married to the same kind of brain as your own? Wouldn't that be boring?
We had this raging argument about taste in music the other day -- it's one of the few things we really argue loudly about -- and it lasted us all the way home and ended up concluding in front of the kids. But we took little breaks to add footnotes for the kids' edification, and each of our footnotes had the same gist, which was that we'd rather argue about who has better taste in music than live with someone who doesn't care about music at all.
Oliver Sacks says that people whose brains keep them from loving music have "amusia." The very idea makes me feel sad and sick -- it'd be like losing my peripheral vision or something.
Not to be an asshole. I'm just saying. Well, and maybe saying that makes me an asshole, anyway. But I can't help it -- I'm just telling y'all that it freaks me out when people say they don't care about music, and I can't even imagine.
Um... I subtitled this part "Pop Culture Obsessions" and not "Raging Music and Neuro-Type Snobbery" because I wanted to also ask who else out there is watching RuPaul's Drag Race and letting it eat their insides apart, like I am. Anybody? Anyone? Crickets in the back? No? Well, whatever.
Oliver Sacks instructs Dallas and me.
I hardly get to see my son Dallas anymore, because as long-time readers know, he lives with his dad while his two brothers live with me. And all three of them are teenagers now, so they have weekend stuff going on all the time, just like little adults, and we're all at the post-divorce phase, thank-God-fully, where we can be flexible and miss a weekend visitation here or there for the sake of the kids' scholastic and social obligations.
But, so, the other day...
[I'm about to say something to do with Dallas having Aspergers, and you might wonder why I'm saying it here and not on my ChronMomBlog, and I will tell you that it's because the Chronicle now has two mom blogs about moms with kids with autism, so I feel like talking about my kid's autism there would, at this point, look like horning in on other writers' territory.]
So Dallas was here the other day, and I was reading him little bits from Oliver Sacks, because Dallas has synesthesia and absolute pitch (which I used to refer to, incorrectly, as perfect pitch) and Mr. Sacks talks about each of those.
Synesthesia is when someone mixes the senses a little bit. In Dallas's case, he sees a different color for each note on the musical scale. Some people might see different colors for each letter of the alphabet, or different shapes for each number, but Dallas has the color/music variety, which we're interested in because he's a musician.
So I'm reading aloud to him that, "Composer John Doe sees D minor as a bright yellow."
And Dallas interjects, "Well, he's wrong."
I say, "Hold on, baby," and read that John Doe, furthermore, sees D major as blue.
"That guy's totally wrong," says Dallas.
I read from the next paragraph: "When I told this to composer Joe Blow, he said, 'That seems all wrong to me.'"
"Yeah. Because it is," says Dallas. "What colors does that guy see?"
"He says D minor is light green."
Dallas snorts. "At first I thought that guy might have some sense, but now I see he doesn't, either."
It cracks me up, his confidence. His arrogance, you can go ahead and call it. It took me forever to convince Dallas that not everyone can see what he does, and not everyone can tell what note a rubber band makes when it snaps against a wrist. He would not believe me -- he couldn't imagine a mind that didn't work like his. But eventually I managed to convince him, and he finally said, "That explains a lot, actually." It explains the infuriating confusion caused by certain band teachers, apparently. He wondered if they were lying or purposely tuning the instruments wrong, maybe because they didn't like him and wanted an excuse to give him bad conduct grades when he argued or covered his ears in annoyance.
I read in Mr. Sacks book that synesthesia occurs in one of every 2,000 people and absolute pitch (the ability to identify a note on its own) is more like one in 10,000. That surprised Dallas and me.
Mr. Sacks said that having very fine absolute pitch can be a nuisance for some people -- that hearing very slightly off-tune notes can irritate them while the rest of us can't even tell the difference.
"Does it ever bother you when I sing a tiny bit flat?" I asked Dallas. Because I know that he knows that I sometimes do. Not flat enough to lower my score on Rock Band, but flat enough that he'll very honestly tell me if I ask.
"My pitch isn't that good," he says.
And I see that he's learned, finally, how to tell white lies to spare feelings. And I'm glad that I'm one of the people for whom he'll commit that sin -- number one on the list of Asperger commandments: "Thou shalt not lie," followed by "Thou shalt not not make sense."
But I see, also, that I'll never understand the way he sees the world, or how much it bothers him to put up with the rest of us. No matter how hard I listen. No matter how much I love him and want to understand.
What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, right? That's what I have to tell myself, to keep from crying when he gets on the bus to go back home. 9:33 PM # (4) comments
Thursday, April 23, 2009I want to be Amish.
You know? I want to live in a house that I built and cook food that I gathered or raised myself. I want to sew my own clothes and knit my own blankets. I want to take care of myself and my family, and only occasionally have to weave baskets to trade for the things I don't know how to make. That's just a different way to live... a way that isn't based on spending 8 to 5, every week day, dealing with other people's egos. I don't like working with or around other people's egos. Not so often, you know?
The problem with being Amish is that you have to conform to their ideas about good taste, and you can't use electricity. Maybe I want to be a Mennonite.
Or maybe I just want to be a farmer. In the movies, when times get tough, farmers always say "Well, we're fine here -- we have enough to feed ourselves for the rest of our lives. It's the other people [their neighbors or love interests] I'm worried about."
I want to be like that -- where I rely on myself, and I'm completely reliable.
Really, I think all of that just means that I want to start my own business. Because I don't really know how to slaughter anything, and I'm too finicky to sew whole wardrobes out of calico.
Or else I'd be happy working in a room by myself, maybe. Making widgets according to written specifications. It's not the working that bothers me -- it's everything else.
It's not even about people being jerks. I could be in a building where every single person is competent and nice, and it'd still exhaust me mentally. I'm an introvert, okay? (People who know me in real life, stop telling me I'm not. I am! I want to live on a farm or work in a room alone!)
Every spring I feel restless. I want to get up and run out the door.
Last night, though, me and Dat and the kids put together one of those patio structures that Target calls a gazebo, but which is actually more like a canopy with mosquito netting on the sides. Dat and the boys put it together, actually, while I trimmed the pear tree above them. We got a new lopper (is that what it's called?) a while back and this was my first time to really use it, and it lops off the branches very beautifully. I did the pear tree so it'd be out of the canopy's way, then started on the oak tree on the other side of the back yard.
Tonight I want to finish those and then do every tree and bush in the front yard. I'd been planning to do that anyway, but now that I've felt the power of the new ... loppers... I'm excited. I love trimming the trees -- giving them little haircuts and making them feel lighter.
We have a bunny living in our front yard, randomly. When he was smaller, he fit through a gap in the garage door and so spent his nights there. Now he's bigger and we're guessing he just lives in the nandinas. We get home from work and he's there in the flower patch, eating weeds. He just watches us. We watch him. We say "He's growing." Then we go inside.
It's okay with me that this entry might be boring.
Sometimes it has to go down that way.
Life's just plugging along. Like the bunny, our wedding is growing. It's still an informal wedding in our house, but now Dat's parents are getting even more into it, and so they're inviting extra people. Which is fine -- I want them to be comfortable and stay the whole evening, and having their peeps next to them will make that possible. I'm starting to think the wedding might spill over into the front yard, though. We still have physics in which we have to work, you know.
We're gonna... transform the back yard into a fairyland or something. You know how people do that for weddings, sometimes. It involves Christmas lights, mostly. It's not difficult, I don't think. I feel confident in my fairyland transforming abilities.
At first I didn't think we were going to buy flowers, but then my cousin said she wanted to buy them for us, and now I'm thinking of many ways in which flowers will be called into service. See? It's a tumor. Weddings grow faster than rabbits.
That's all. Back to work! Happy spring.
Oh, one last thing, just to annoy my kids....
My kids didn't know that Ozzy Osborne was the lead singer of Black Sabbath. Really, now that I think about it, how would they have known?
They found out the other day because they wanted me to look for MP3s of Black Sabbath songs, and I searched for Ozzy's name. And the kids were like "No, Mom...." and then I told them, and then they were like "What? Oh. But.... I thought he was just a guy on TV." And I was like "That's why that World of Warcraft commercial shows him as the Prince of Darkness. Right? Get it?" and they were like "Oh-h-h-h...." and I saw their minds reconfigure around the world.
They're also learning which musicians are dead from ODs and which are dead from suicide, and which were ever called "the best [guitarist or drummer] in the world" and which dabbled in black magic or were rumored to have done so. That's important history, I think. Kids should know these things. Don't you agree? 5:34 AM # (6) comments
Wednesday, March 18, 2009Guess what? 25 Random Facts About Me!
because I have been inspired.
Now, all I have to do is think of 25 new things to tell y'all, apart from the stuff divulged in the 100 things meme I did back in 2005, and apart from all the other stuff I've told y'all over the past 12 years.
1. I'm going to do a reading/event tonight in which I'm supposed to talk about my creative process(es). For that, I've decided to give a 5-minute history of my writing career. It's my first time doing anything like that, so I'm kind of nervous. But I'm always kind of nervous about all the events I do, no matter how new or old the material. Unless they're readings for little kids, that is.
2. I feel that the best Easter candy is Russel Stover's creme eggs, in coconut-in-dark-chocolate flavor.
3. I like to go to the grocery store with my fiance. That's, like, a serious date night activity for us. Sometimes I think it's because we both experienced hard times in our youth. But usually I don't try to analyze it.
4. I'm getting married on May 23rd. (THIS NEXT PART IS SECRET - SHH:) At first I was a little bit sad because my future in-laws didn't think I was the right person to marry their son. Not sad enough to let it stop us, or to dwell on it on a daily basis, but kind of disappointed. But, recently, my fiance talked to them about it, and they voiced their concerns... and now they're coming to the wedding. And I'm happier/more relieved about that than I would have expected.
5. I'm actually a really good daughter-in-law. No one here knows that, because last time I served in that capacity, it was in a tiny town that no one cared to visit. And then I left my husband, effectively removing the possibility of further communication with my parents-in-law. But I know that they loved me, because they told me so, more than once. And I loved them. And I spent jillions of hours with them, and I did what I could to make their lives easier. And I enjoyed doing so, because that's just the kind of crazy I am. And, I have to say here that my ex-mother-in-law was way, way, WAY more opposed to that marriage (and more vocal about it) than my current future in-laws have been. So, in general, I'm optimistic about the new in-law relationships I'm starting. I can rebuild them. I have the technology. I am... the $6 Million Daughter-in-Law. I've just been waiting for the paperwork to go through so I can begin.
6. I didn't realize, until recently, how much I missed being a daughter-in-law.
7. If it were up to me, and no one's judgment had any effect on my life, I'd cut my hair short and never wear makeup. It is up to me, I know, but I live in this world. In this world, prettiness can be a kind of armor. So I put on eyeliner every morning, just like a knight of old.
8. I turned 37 in December. A while back, something made me think that I was "almost in my forties." So, since then, I keep thinking that. "I'm almost in my forties -- I don't have to deal with that." "I'm practically 40 -- I should know better." "I'm in my forties now -- shouldn't I be doing [x] by now?" So now, in my mind, I'm in my mid-40s. I completely, mentally bypassed the last three years of my 30s. Weirdest part: I don't mind. I like being in my 40s. It's giving me an excuse to break old habits and try new things.
9. My favorite thing I've ever written is what I believe the fewest people have read: the very last story in my very first book. Every time I think about that, I imagine musicians I admire whose own favorite songs probably don't match up with my favorites. And I have no sympathy for them, because I wouldn't change my favorite Pavement songs, even if Stephen Malkmus hated those ones the most. And then, in turn, I have no sympathy for myself. So what if I like the ant story best? That doesn't mean it's the best one or the one that resonates with anyone else.
10. Sometimes I worry about Norm MacDonald. I was watching SNL, live, the night he accidentally said fuck and then immediately realized he'd get fired for it. He was fired. Then, after that, his career did a long, slow slide. I saw him on the Comedy Central Bob Saget roast, and he still looked sad, but you could also tell that his colleagues loved him. They joked about his gambling addiction. That made me worry about him more than before. I don't know why I worry about him, in particular. But that happens to a lot of people, right? You feel some weird connection/intuition for a certain celebrity or stranger, and you carry them around in your mind, right? Like a lot of people worry about Jennifer Anniston, or like Ben Folds worried about Muhammad Ali. I worry about Norm MacDonald. I hope that he's okay.
11. I fantasize about speaking every language.
12. I fantasize about having the psychic power to answer any question truthfully, and charging people (anyone) $500 a pop to answer their questions. Scientists' questions would be answered during weekly press conferences, though.
13. I fantasize... not about having the power to heal people, but about having the power to prescribe the perfect diets for them. I mean the diets that would make them healthy and happy.
14. I fantasize about having the power to perform telekinetic, painless, instant platic surgery on people. Because, you know how you'll see someone, and they're obviously self-conscious about some aspect of their appearance? Like a mole or their teeth or something? Well, I fantasize about having the power to fix that for people, without them even knowing it's being done.
15. All those fantasies mean that I'm a narcissist. Every time I take the personality disorder profile quiz thing, it says I'm mostly a narcissist. Which kind of annoys me, because I don't believe that I am. But then, people I admire score high on narcissism, too, so at least I'm in good company. Second-highest scoring for me is OCD. So what? I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Unless you're a clean-freak OCD'er, like our friend Cathy, because then it's just too much stress. (I like to converse with Cathy about various compulsions, but then I feel bad for her when she stresses about the cleanliness and germs.)
16. The score I don't get, and the personality disorder for which I have the lowest tolerance? Is histrionic-ness.
That means "attention whores." I especially hate being around attention whores who are boring -- that's the absolute worst. Second worst is catty attention whores who, for some reason, believe that I have something they want. Then they start trying to compete, and I never want to engage in that. I just want to get away. Actually... I've had histrionic friends, but they have to be interesting, and they have to have different taste in men, so that there's no competitiveness. In that case, I'm okay with them.
17. Really, this isn't 25 Random Things About Me. It's 25 Things That Have Been on My Mind a LOT Lately, Because I'm Slightly OCD and Think About the Same Topics Over and Over Until I'm Sick of Them. Thank you for reading, if you're still reading along.
18. I used to think that I'd hold my old grudges forever -- you know, like "She'll be sorry when I'm published and then I see her in public and she has to feel stupid about that time she said my writing was trite!" -- but it turns out that I don't. I work as hard as I can, and I forget about the old petty stuff because I feel like I've grown so far away from it. You know?
19. I worry about my kids way more than I let on. Sometimes I lie in bed at night having long, long strings of worries about them. But I choke it down because I don't want to be like Nemo's dad on that movie Finding Nemo. When I saw that movie, I cried super hard whenever his dad was on the screen. Because I totally empathized with that (fish) man, and I've never even had kids who were eaten by sharks. But, yeah, I don't want to bum out my kids like that. So I keep that stuff to myself, as much as possible.
20. I'm proud of the way my kids have turned out, but don't like to say that to people too often because it seems like a compliment to myself. But it's (mostly) not -- my kids are good kids. They were born good and worked to get better, independently of me or my parenting skillz.
21. Sometimes I want to post more pictures of my family online, but then I worry. Worry, worry, irrational worry....
22. I'm simultaneously excited and anxious about writing my next book.
23. I'm waiting to see if the last kids' book I submitted will get published. Trying not to be anxious about that. The kids' books get rejected way more often than you might imagine. Which doesn't feel too fabulous, but it toughens me up. It's all a business, you know. This writing stuff, I mean.
24. I feel bad/guilty/annoyed when I write an entry here and people feel compelled to reassure me about whatever I complained about. I always feel like I'm just venting/ranting/babbling, but then, if it comes off like whining or needing comfort, that bugs the crap out of me and I feel like I somehow betrayed myself. (But if it doesn't sound like whining, but people just want to offer comfort/reassurance, anyway, then that's okay.)
25. I don't like to need anyone. I like to be independent.
Whew. I did it!
The end. 5:58 PM # (9) comments
Wednesday, January 21, 2009Being a writer.
A couple of weeks ago, I reached that point in a writer’s career where the writer stops reading reviews and stops searching for her own name on the Internet. Not a moment too soon – it was killing me. Every time I did it, I’d get anxious. What if some stranger – some person I’d never met and whose impressions I couldn’t control or even affect – said something bad? The fear of that eventuality was making me feel sick, every time I opened a new review, no matter how favorable the review was or how many times I found favorable ones.
Then, it finally happened – I read an unfavorable review. (A real review by someone who didn’t care for my book, I mean. Not a “How dare this woman write such a thing! I have issues!!!” review.) And, after reading it, I thought, “Yeah, I guess I can see why that person didn’t like it. Oh, well. Not everyone’s gonna like it.” And then I stopped worrying. And then I stopped searching.
I’m very glad when people like my writing – especially when they identify with my characters and feel less alone in the world after reading about them. But I no longer need to read about people’s opinions of my work (or me) in great detail anymore. I’ll do my work, put my work out there, and do more work for as long as they ask me to. I’ll continue enjoying the work of others. And that’s enough for right now.
Are you an artist? Did you or will you reach that point in regards to critiques about your work?
Here’s a conversation I have often:
Other person: Hello. I am obligated to interview you, speak to you, or otherwise interact with you because of my job.
[We conduct the interaction. Then, afterwards….]
Other person: You know, I’m a writer, too.
Me: You are?
Other person: Yes. I write [poems or plays or a novel or librettos for operettas about mimes]. But, unlike most writers, my goal isn’t to get published.
Me: Oh, really?
Other person: That’s right. See, my goal is to create art, for myself. I don’t care if anyone ever reads it. I don’t need other people to read my work in order to feel fulfilled as an artist.
Me: Well, that’s good. Congratulations.
Other person: [Voice gets louder and faster.] That’s right. Because I write for my love of the craft. Not for money. I think so many writers these days are writing for the wrong reasons. Don’t you agree?
Other person: Sure, I could submit my work to an agent and probably get a two-book deal… if I were needy like that. But I’m not! I’m confident. Therefore, I don’t need the quote-unquote approval of being published, like some people. Do you know what I mean?
[Half an hour later…]
Other person: … and then I said to my friend who was debasing himself by sending his sonnets to all the journals, “Why do you hate yourself? Why are you so insecure? You must not be secure about yourself as an artist.” And he said, “I just signed a three-book deal.” And I felt sorry for him. You know why? Because….
Me: Right. Yeah. No, I know. Um, listen, are you going to email me the interview, when it’s done, so I can make revisions? Or are you just –
Other person: … because I’m a real writer! I’m the only kind of legitimate writer there is!! Anyone who seeks to be published is a lap-dog of popular culture and the lowest common denominator! Anyone who kisses ass in order to get published is….
Me: Okay. I have to go now. My kids are waiting for me. [Turns to go.]
Other person: What? Oh, okay. Hey, well, I’ll email you, okay? Take my card. Oh, and… Will you let me know if your agent’s looking for anyone? Hmm? Oh, okay. All right. Good talking to you! :) Bye!!!
(I’ll regret typing this half an hour after I post it. Then I may or may not take it down. But, then again, what am I risking? Being alienated from people like that? I’m too nice most of the time. See, people are rude to me and I just stand there and smile, because I want to be “nice.” Then, I worry about even describing the rudeness, because I’m *nice.* My friends tell me all the time – quit being nice to rude people and psychos, Gwen. Hell, I tell that to other women. (Except I don’t call them Gwen. I call them by their own first names.) ‘Cause it’s mainly a woman thing, right? No, it isn’t. Now that I think about it, I know men who are “too nice,” too, who put up with crap from people. Especially from interviewers or “connections.” You know why? Because, sometimes, unhappy people seek to have power over happy people. Like, if the “other person” described above put his/her energy into trying to get published, instead of putting it into trying in vain to make writers feel bad about being published, then this other person would probably succeed. But for some people, it’s way easier to put the energy into being negative. And then, for other people, like me, it’s easiest to just be “nice.” I hate being around the negative, unhappy people. But fighting them on their own terms would expel too much energy. My Nice Muscles are well developed. My Trying-to-Make-People-Feel-Bad Muscles are lax. Work to your strengths, I guess. That’s what I try to do.)
While I’m ranting…
let me just say something I’ve been wanting to say for a long time, which is this:
Homophobic parents, please stop encouraging your gay children to closet themselves.
I don’t know what the deal is, lately – maybe it’s just because I live in a conservative state? – but there have been quite a few closeted gay people in my life lately. And they are the most miserable, effed-up people I’ve ever met.
Seriously as hell, there have been at least four miserable closeted gay people in my life in the past year. And this is how my friends and I all talk about them:
“Joe just needs to come out.”
“He would be so much happier.”
“It’s, like, so lame – the way he’s always lying to us about all the women he sleeps with and whatever. It’s so uncomfortable to listen to him and know that he’s lying right to our faces and thinking that we’re dumb enough to believe him.”
“Or thinking that he has to lie to us, because he assumes we’re homophobes.”
“Right. I don’t know what the big deal is. Like, are his parents going to disown him if he comes out?”
“I guess. He never talks to them, anyway. They live in Hoboken.”
“It makes me think that he lies about other stuff, too. It makes me not trust him.”
“Really? I just feel sorry for him. He's young and handsome, and he could be happy dating guys, but he's not. He's throwing away his youth and he's gonna end up like Larry Craig, married to some woman and tapping his foot at a cop in the bathroom.”
“Really? I just lose respect for him. He’s so chickenshit.”
“You think so? He makes me sick, because I’m gay, and it’s like he’s saying that it’s shameful that I’m gay, and that you all must secretly be ashamed of my gayness.”
“Really? I just don’t care. I just ignore him as much as possible, because I can't deal with his closeted gayness.”
Then Joe walks in and says, “Oh, hi guys! Guess what! I just met a total blonde hottie with a nice ass and nice tits in the coffee shop today! And I’m going to screw her brains out! Ew, Bob, your shirt looks gay – watch out for the gays with that shirt on – they might gay you! Just kidding – your shirt’s fabulous, Bob! Let me feel the material…. Okay, well, I’m going upstairs to jerk off to this Victoria’s Secret catalog now! Because I’m straight! Toodles!”
And none of us say anything. And I imagine Joe’s parents, and I want to shake them until their teeth rattle. Just like they probably used to shake Joe.
If you have a son or daughter you suspect (know) is gay, and you're directly or indirectly asking that child to pretend not to be gay because you're worried about what others will think, then you are weak. You're not a good parent.
I'm on the phone with AT&T Uverse now, and I have to save some ranty-ness for them.
:) 8:53 PM # (14) comments
Monday, October 06, 2008Life in the Stranger Danger Lane
Someone finally let me in on the secret -- you can put your life in the hands of strangers, in the mornings as well as the afternoons, by getting picked up at your local park-n-ride and hitching a ride into the HOV lane.
Someone on Twitter tried to explain this to me -- said it was called "the slug line" in their city. But I'm such a car-town noobie, I didn't understand what exactly it meant.
You can ride with strangers downtown, for free. You can listen to strangers talk about their lives, and no one makes eye contact.
If you're me, you can try picking up your own hitchers one day. You can pick up two men at 6 AM in your mini van. After they're in your car, you can notice for the first time that your mini van contains, in order of nearness to your passengers:
- one torn cover of a Victoria's secret catalog
- one girdle, with all price tags, that someone other than you bought last Halloween
- no fewer than three pairs of shoes that smell very, very bad
- the contents of a busted box of emergency OB tampons, rolling all over the very back seat
You know I'm freaking awesome, because I turned around and saw all that, and then I just shrugged. And flowed down the road with my NPR on. Driving like a champ, even though my two male passengers were watching like a hawk, waiting for me to drive poorly. Sticking out my hand when I had to stop short, saving the life of the stranger on the passenger side, as if I'd given birth to him, myself.
The guys were good sports about it. I told them I'd pick them up at the same time next day. But I was lying. Next day, I caught a ride with someone else I'd never seen before. Another silent social contract. Another new face that never looked directly into mine.
The Sad Cowboy
I've been trying forever to tell y'all the story about the sad cowboy singer who works (worked?) at Larry's BBQ Buffet on 290. But I never remember.
Or else, like now, I remember but I can't tell you because I'm too tired. I'm so effing tired right now, I don't even know how I've typed this much so far.
I have a lot of stuff on my Master To-Do List. A lot of work I don't have time to get done.
So the cowboy has to wait. That's all he ever does, anyway. Wait and sing, wait for tips. Wait for someone to cut him a break.
I'm not supposed to tell you this, but
Shh -- one of my children went to his first dance on Friday night. First dance, first date. Shhh! Don't tell him I told you.
We were so happy to see it all go down. It was incredibly normal. Not like my first dance and not like my boyfriend's. But the two of us knew how a first dance was supposed to go, so we worked hard to make it happen for my son.
The girl he went with turned out to be a dud in the most cliched sense. ("I'm mad at you now." "Why?" "Figure it out.") But I'm even kind of glad for that. I pegged her from the start and was hoping they wouldn't start dating for real. I have the feeling I'm gonna be one of those picky-bitchy moms, for whose sons no girl is ever good enough. But oh, well. Everyone has faults, right? Even cliched ones, sometimes. 8:58 PM # (6) comments
Sunday, August 10, 2008le sigh
It's Sunday night and I have to go to work tomorrow, just like most of everybody else.
And I like my new job, but I always feel now like I get home so late that weekend evenings don't even count as free time... there's only barely enough time there to, like, go to the bathroom and change out of my work clothes and feed myself and ask the kids if they fed themselves and make sure there's a work outfit for the next day at work...
that I feel really pressured, each weekend now, to get as much personal stuff done as possible...
and by Friday at 6 PM, I'm already overwhelmed by the futility of it. I already know there's no way I can get it all done.
Then, Sunday night, I'm kind of crying. Or would be, if I weren't so dehydrated from running around like a maniac in the 105-heat-index heat, trying to get stuff done.
At least I got the kids haircuts, and got one of them new shoes. And did half a birthday for the other.
Just typing that out makes me realize, anew, how much I didn't get done.
I can't remember what else I wanted to tell y'all.
There was stuff -- semi-clever observations of life sorta stuff -- but I can't remember while I'm sitting here stressing over how little time I have.
I just taught someone long division, because he didn't learn it in school. This person told me today, "Mom... Can you teach me long division today? I still don't understand it, and I don't want to go back to school in two weeks not knowing it."
So I taught him, with much empathy, because I remember not being able to get that shit straight when I learned it in fourth grade. And then the 5th grade teacher pairing me up with some dude I didn't like so that he could teach me, because she didn't have time to teach me while the rest of the class was moving on to something else.
So it's apparently genetic, this hard-time-with-long-division gene. So now I can expect my son to have the same trouble with calculus, because I didn't understand calculus at all until the end of the year, when a kindly Rice professor volunteered to teach it to me the weekend before finals.
My son said, after I taught him, "They taught me, but with a bunch of little stories that just made it more confusing. Like, there was something about Santa Claus going up on the roof and dropping remainders down the chimney. I couldn't understand."
Me: "Oh my God. How can anyone learn math from crappy, unseasonable metaphors?"
My son: "Right."
And, in teaching my son long division, I noted other math skills he needed to learn. So now, some time during a break at work tomorrow, I need to find some teaching tools online and print them out, then take them home with me and hurry up and teach my kid more math skills tomorrow, in the 2.5 hours between my rush hour commute and bed time.
Oh, yeah... and then I have to finish writing a novel.
My oldest son, meanwhile, just turned 16. So, of course, 9 billion people have told me this week, "I can't believe you have a 16-year-old son."
Really? I can. I've been living with this kid for 16 years now. I can totally believe it.
I guess it's supposed to be a compliment -- that I look too young to have a kid that old. Unless, of course, you take it as shock and the dawning realization "OMG, this was a teen mom!
Or, unless you take it as people telling you that you don't seem mature enough to parent a teen?
Some time after that, I was at a social function where more than one person made witty remarks about the fact that I drink and say curse words in front of said 16-year-old son. Like, "Nice parenting skills, Gwen," said with sarcasm-dripping voices.
These were all people my age who had toddlers or babies only, mind you.
So I just didn't say anything. Well, eventually, I did say, "He's on the honor roll. Is your kid on the honor roll?"
But even that was too much. In the same way that I used to ignore criticism from kidless people, I'm now having to ignore criticism from people who only have babies and toddlers. I don't know what these people are thinking -- that they're awesome for cursing and drinking only when their babies are tucked away safely with their babysitters?
And what happens after that, when the babies get older? What am I doing wrong -- being myself in front of my kids? Failing to lie to them about how grown-ups have a good time? Failing to shelter them from reality? Failing to put on an alternate persona whenever they're not at the babysitter's? Or failing to leave them at the babysitter's in the first place? (That last item is probably the real answer.)
I'm so far removed from the conformist social mindset, as far as parenting goes these days, that I don't even know what that mindset is anymore. And, as far as I'm concerned, that's nothing to lament.
A while back, someone had a party and I was there with my kids, and someone else was there with her toddler. And people drank, and the toddler got sleepy. So the toddler went to sleep on the couch.
And, of course, someone who only had a baby had to make a remark about that. "I feel sorry for Toddler," she said.
"Why?" I said.
"That's so terrible that she has to live like that," NewBabyMomma said. She pointed to the toddler, asleep on the couch, then pointed to the toddlers' parents, who were having a good time. Then, noble point made, she walked away.
A guy next to me said, "What is she talking about? When I was a kid, I fell asleep at grown-up parties all the time."
"So did I," I said.
And then, silently, we both felt sorry for NewBabyMomma's baby, who we assumed won't be getting to go to grown-up parties.
I see parenting I don't approve of, but I keep those opinions to myself.
I don't approve of the style of parenting that ends up with teenagers putting on a big phony innocent show for their parents, then getting drunk on the weekends with their friends, God knows where, without their parents' knowledge.
I don't approve of the style of parenting that involves telling your kids phony words about yourself, then proving yourself a liar with your behavior. If I tell my kids I don't drink and I don't curse, and then they stay up late one night and see me doing it when I think they're asleep, aren't I only teaching my children that they're supposed to grow up and lie?
I see other parents do this shit, and I just think, "Better them than me." You know? Because I'm taking care of my family, and I don't have time to monitor anyone else's.
I had a duel with an old man.
One of my neighbors, an elderly gentleman, came to my yard the other day and started lecturing me about my lawn.
I don't like to be rude to old people, but I also don't like strangers telling me what to do. So he and I argued, as heatedly and yet as politely as possible.
In the end, we reached understanding. I think we even acheived mutual respect. We were very much alike, this know-it-all old man and me.
The funniest part is that, while we were having it out in my front yard, one of our other neighbors (one who hasn't spoken to me since asking me what church I attended and hearing the answer "none") was standing in his yard, gawking and eavesdropping like old Mrs. Kravitz from the Bewitched TV show. I would have pointed at him and laughed, if I hadn't been busy making my points to the old man who was trying to make his points to me.
The old man was trying to convince me that:
1. I have chinch bugs, not fertilizer burn.
2. I should have known that I had chinch bugs, not fertilizer burn.
3. If I had no way of knowing the difference between chinch bugs and fertilizer burn, I should have preempted their existence by seeking the advice of neighbors with nice lawns.
4. Since I failed at numbers 1, 2 and 3 listed above, I had proven myself an uncaring lawn mistress who was unworthy of neighbors coming by with friendly advice.
I tried to convince the old man that:
1. I obviously had fertilizer burn, not chinch bugs.
2. The knowledgeable, helpful neighbors were obviously the ones who had already helped me determine that I had fertilizer burn, and were not the ones who avoided me until this day.
3. I was not uncaring -- I was busting my butt at a job all day and had already spent a considerable amount of my paychecks trying to fix the fertilizer burn, and therefore needed no unneighborly old men lecturing me this late in the game.
In the end, cold logic won out. I have chinch bugs, and so do my two friendly neighbors. The old man does not, and therefore we all should have applied to him for advice.
Also, the old man was not in the wrong for avoiding us all. Because, seriously, how could you expect him to visit people who don't seem to care about their lawns?
Today I met up with my two friendly neighbors and informed them that they had chinch bugs. Then, I told them how to fix it, just like the old man told me. They told me that they'd seen me having it out with the old man, but weren't sure whether or not to intervene, since our arguing was so polite that they couldn't be sure that's what we had actually been doing.
I like the old man now. He's pretty awesome. I'm going to buy him a plant and write him a thank-you note, I think.
The hardcore Christian guy across the street, though? I have to say I've lost a little respect for him. A little more, I guess.
Time for bed now. I'll spend a few minutes at my new hobby, first, though.
My new hobby is so terrible and borderline OCD-ish, I'm not even sure I should tell it to y'all.
My new hobby: Checking out cookbooks from the library, marking the recipes I like, then xeroxing them and putting them into a Recipe Binder I made.
Why am I doing that? I don't know. I don't even like to cook. Everybody knows this. My kids are like, "Uh..." and then they're thinking, "Don't say anything aloud about mom's new OCD-ish hobby, which is totally nonsensical since she totally hates to cook."
And yet, this new hobby soothes me. So I do it, when I can, for a minute or two before I sleep at night.
I hope y'all's OCD-ish hobbies are soothing, that your lawns are chinch-bug-free, and that you all sleep well tonight.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008Life Skills
When I was in third grade at Roosevelt Elementary School, we had a very good teacher named Mrs. Dorothea Terry. Ms. Terry taught us a lot of important things outside the normal, Houston Independent School District sanctioned curriculum. I remember that whenever she had to discuss anything delicate or sexual, such as the time we read Johnny Tremain and someone asked what castration meant, she would first say, "If any of you feel like you can't handle this subject matter -- like you might feel uncomfortable and that will make you giggle or whisper -- please feel free to go into the hall and I'll call you back when we're done discussing it." No one ever left the room, and everyone understood that laughing during such talks was a mark of immaturity.
She taught us how to be good audience members. We were planning a fieldtrip to see The Nutcracker, and so she showed us the proper way to applaud. And I'm sure the lesson encompassed more than that, but all I specifically remember is the clapping, all of us lightly striking our left palms with the fingers of our right hands.
Since graduating from public school, I've noticed that a lot of adults in Texas missed out by not spending third grade in Mrs. Terry's class. Whenever I give a reading at a community college, for instance, I notice that a lot of my audience has obviously never attended a reading before. Either they'll pointedly avoid making eye contact with me and the other speakers, or else they'll look at us with facial expressions I'm sure they wouldn't consciously make in other situations. Or they'll quietly talk to each other during the reading, as if they're at the movies, discussing people on a screen. Or, saddest, they'll laugh at something that's meant to be funny, but they'll cover their mouths, thinking they're not supposed to.
I've been to community colleges where the professors treat the students like disabled high school kids. If I'm reading and someone starts giggling and whispering in the back, I'll do exactly what our teachers used to do to us in elementary school. I'll say something like, "Am I interrupting your conversation? Should I pause so you guys can leave the room?"
And then, afterwards, these students' professors will apologize to me and say, "It's hard for them... They come from different backgrounds... They don't go to many readings..." As if any of that is an excuse for rudeness. And I'll feel sorry for those professors and wonder what they put up with in their classrooms every day.
Sometimes I'll speak to a class that's well enough behaved, but very inhibited. And I'll interrupt my own reading/seminar and tell the students that it's okay if they want to laugh, or gasp or scoff, because authors expect listener reactions. I'll tell them, during the question and answer session, that they can ask whatever they want, and not only questions that sound teacher-approved. Because we're all adults, and a reading is meant to be enjoyed. And then the students will loosen up, and we have fun.
And afterwards, their professors will tell me, "Wow, they really enjoyed your reading!" and that they're going to do a class on audience ettiquette, or on how to interview authors, and that they're going to take their classes to more readings in the future.
A lot of times I'll do a reading for one particular class that's reading my book, and then other classes who aren't reading my book will show up to my reading -- required attendance for credit. So, when I go to community colleges or high-school-age events, the first thing I like to ask is how many people in the room want to be writers. Usually, only one or two people will raise their hands. Then, I'll ask how many people are there against their will, and most of them will raise their hands.
In those cases, I shift from talking about my writing to talking about acheiving one's goals. And that's when I get a lot of questions from people who want to be DJs, nurses, entrepreneurs, and etc. And, the more I do these kinds of readings, the more strongly I feel that I have a personal mission. It is to let kids know that they're allowed to do stuff.
You know? Because that's the big undercurrent in all these situations I'm describing to you. I think that a lot of kids are raised with sentiments like, "You don't go to plays and readings. Only those people go to plays and readings. Therefore, I don't expect much of your behavior on the few occassions where you're forced to go to a play or a reading." And how easily does that attitude cloud one's whole life?
"I go to community college. Only those people go to the university."
"I don't want to be an artist. Only people like that get to be artists."
"I'm not going to speak up. Only people like her are supposed to speak up."
I look at Facebook and see all these kids from Choate and Marymount bleeting out their opinions of the presidential candidates, all sexist and misspelled and uninformed, and I wonder where the sexist, misspelled, uninformed comments from 5th Ward and East LA and Compton students are. You know? No, I don't wonder, actually. I know. They're frozen in those students' heads, because only those other kids are allowed to spew silliness, right?
I'm not trying to brag, but I'm a very popular speaker at local community colleges, and the audiences there enjoy the hell out of my readings. I enjoy talking to them, too. My favorite part is after the reading, because -- inevitably -- a few people will come up to me and say, "I really do want to be a writer, but I didn't want to say it earlier." Or, "I write all the time at home, but I didn't think that counted until you said so just now." And, even if I don't sell many books at those readings, I'm always glad I went.
A while back I went to read to a bunch of junior high girls at a local community center. We ended up talking not about my book, but about applying for high schools. We spent more than half an hour erasing misconceptions about who's allowed to apply for better public schools, who's allowed to ride the school bus, who's allowed to get on the Internet and look for information, who's allowed to be smart without worrying about fitting in, who's allowed to want a little more success than their parents had. We didn't talk about writing at all. (But, even so, at the end, someone came up and whispered to me that she wanted to be a writer.) And I was glad I went. If all I ever taught someone was that she was allowed to do a little more, that would be enough for me.
Every time I go to one of my son's junior high band recitals, I resent most of the other parents because they're very rude. They talk and yawn during the performance. Between pieces, they make insensitive remarks. The band teachers wear suits and dresses. Our kids wear tuxedo shirts, bow ties, and vests. I wear whatever I wore to work that day ("business"), but then half the parents are in shorts, flip-flops, undershirts, baseball caps. Their hair uncombed. Their teeth full of food.
I used to hate them, but now I just pity them. You know why? Because no one taught them better, because no one ever thought they'd grow up to go to plays or readings or even junior high recitals.
More than that, I pity them because their kids will go places that these parents won't. And their kids might keep things from them, might say things like, "No, I didn't invite my parents to see me play in Boston, because you know how they are. They never go to things like that. There's no use even trying to teach them how to behave."
But, then again, that might not be so bad. I'd rather have my kids do things that I'm too ignorant to understand than have them be afraid to do things, because I never told them they were allowed. 12:05 PM # (25) comments
Tuesday, January 08, 2008There was bad news, too.
I went to court to finalize the arrangements for my middle son, Dallas, to go live [elsewhere] for the semester. And then, [magically, in a process I'm not supposed to describe in detail], my child support got reduced to nothing. And that wouldn't have bothered me so much if it weren't for [the emotional ugliness surrounding the process].
And I wrote a long, angry entry about it here. (And some of you responded with very kind, helpful comments. Thanks, y'all.) And then I deleted that post, because there's no use filling up my blog with [that ugliness]. You know?
So, aside from the fact that I miss my middle son and I'm even broker than I was before, life is still very good and there's no use dwelling on the ungood parts. Right? Right.
1/9/07: And now that I'm having to go back and censor this entry, lest it invoke more ugliness, let me say again how happy I am to have removed myself from my previous life. Thank God.
Tad and I got engaged for a few personal reasons, particular and special to him and me and no one else. Namely, this ring symbolizes a promise to each other, and that promise is, "I promise you didn't just spend five years dating me for nothing."
I explained the word engagement to my kids. I told them it usually means the fiances are planning to marry in a year. But that we aren't getting married in a year. "How long?" my youngest asked. "I don't know," I said. "Maybe five years from now. Maybe two years. But probably more than two years. I don't know."
The kids accepted that answer, but no one else will. :)
On Friday evening, while visiting Tad at his place, I fielded my third or fourth phone call from congratulatory friends and family members, all of whom were eager to help us plan the wedding. RIGHT NOW. I was explaining to the caller that we wouldn't make plans until we saved up enough money to have the kind of event we wanted. The caller was trying to persuade me that we should have an inexpensive wedding this spring. Tad was on his second such phone call. We hung up and turned to each other over the turkey spaghetti dinner Tad was cooking.
"Man," said Tad. "I thought getting engaged would make people quit asking us quesitons. But now it's even worse."
I nodded sympathetically.
He said, "I'm telling people, 'She's not pregnant. We don't have to get married right now.'"
"People are excited," I said.
"People need to mind their own damned business," he said.
I told him it was a good thing, that people were so eager to see us married. It meant that they thought we'd be happy together. He grudgingly agreed, then we made up a unified strategy for dealing with other would-be wedding planners. Then we agreed we wouldn't talk about this anymore, for at least a year. Then we ate our spaghetti.
After dinner, we went to a friend's art thingie, where a local string quartet played. While we listened to them, it flickered through my mind that it might be nice to have this string quartet play at our hypothetical wedding, however many years in the future. But I decided to keep that thought to myself. I didn't want Tad to think that I'd been infected with the fever.
After their first piece was done, Tad leaned over to me and whispered, "We should get them to play at our wedding!"
On Saturday, we went to Barnes and Noble so I could spend the last of the gift certificate my dad got me for my birthday. I couldn't help looking through the wedding mags. It's my right! This ring on my finger means I'm allowed! I picked out three of the least obnoxious seeming, then added something called Asian Bride to my stack. In case, you know, I decide to wear an Asian wedding dress instead of a white one. Well... I'm pretty sure I'm not going to wear a white dress. Not a white wedding dress, in any case.
Asian Bride turned out to be for Indian weddings only. (However, those Indian wedding dresses are pretty freaking awesome. I wish I had the slightest excuse to wear one.) The other magazines seemed to fall into one of two categories:
1. Magazines for brides who only care about looking like princesses on the biggest day of their entire lives.
2. Magazines for couples who care about their wedding guests... and thinking up a million ways to force their "personality" down their guests' throats.
I bought an issue of The Knot (Texas edition) because it had the nicest photos and design ideas worth knocking off for cheap. I also bought five gazillion non-wedding magazines. Thanks, Daddy! At home, I flipped through about a quarter of the Knot before thinking, "This is ridiculous. We don't need all this stuff," and putting it aside.
That night, Tad was visiting me at my house. I came upon him in my bedroom with my wedding magazine in his hands and a look of distaste on his face. "This is ridiculous. I don't think we need all this stuff. Do you?"
No. No, I don't. We don't need escort cards or signature cocktails or monogrammed favors or save-the-date cards. Shoot, we don't even need bridesmaids or groomsmen or big white wedding dresses. We decided it right then, as we flipped through the magazine. No superfluous expense. No symbols without meaning.
My friend Yvonne passed on really good wedding planning advice. She said you're supposed to decide which two elements of the wedding are most important to each of you. Then, you spend your budget on those and forget the rest. For Tad and I, the two most important things are food and music. We've already talked about it and decided that, years ago, even back before we ever admitted we might get married some day. Third most important thing, to me, is flowers. But I think we can just have it in a garden, then, and not worry about buying too many.
We've thrown a lot of parties together, and I've always been pleased by how well they go, and how our party priorities dovetail. So I think our hypothetical, years-from-now wedding should be just fine. The more we agree not to discuss it, the more I realize that we've already, pretty much, telepathically planned the whole thing.
"There's no use getting married until we can afford a bigger house," I said.
"I wish... Don't think this is weird, but I kind of wish we could get married and then not live together," I said. "Just get married and then keep doing the same exact stuff we do now."
"That's what I've been thinking, too!" he said. "Wouldn't that be cool?"
Maybe we'll end up doing that. Just have a tiny, beautiful wedding, with good food and good music, for our family and friends. Then go back to living our lives and being happy. 6:13 AM # (16) comments
Monday, December 17, 2007How is it Monday already?
I have a long to-do list in my purse. Its primary purpose is as a focal point -- it gives me something to look at while I say, "How in the hell am I going to get everything done?"
My tooth hurts but I don't want to tell my dentist yet, because his wife just had a baby, so I don't want to give him bad news while he's still functioning on a half-tank of sleep. It's bad news because my teeth have become notoriously difficult to work on. I used to be the kind of person who wasn't afraid of dental appointments. Now I kind of dread them. It's a race for time -- catching and saving each tooth before it rots out of my head. I keep saying "Just give me full dentures now," but he won't. We are in the middle of excavating the left side of my mouth. I'm so used to blood and gore and drilling and needles now, it almost doesn't bother me anymore. Almost. I used to have nightmares about my teeth falling out. Now I think that would be a happy dream -- all my teeth picking up and leaving, just leaving me alone.
Oops. I didn't mean to talk about my teeth for so long. Oh well. Don't read that part.
We managed to have some good times over the weekend, though. Don't think it's all bad and I'm just going to complain at you. We went to the movies and cleaned our house and killed silverfish as a family, again. We all yelled at each other to stop being so effing negative. We opened the kids' Christmas gift last week (Guitar Hero III) and unlocked every song with our family-style fake-guitar-playing prowess. (I realized that I'm meant to be a bass player, not a lead guitarist. And that's just fine with me.) I told the kids that when I get my next book advance check, we're going to buy an XBox 360 and the Rock Band game. And then we will take over the world. I'm designing our band's logo right now, so we can stencil it on the bass drum. We don't have a band name yet, though. We toured Guitar Hero under the name Frostbight, but that was just for practice. Of course we will need something better than that for the XBox 360 stadium tour. The Partridge Family is already taken, and The Zepeda Family doesn't have the same ring. I don't know. I'll get back to y'all on that one.
The other day I gathered leaves from the cemetary by my work. I had to make up a practical excuse, so I said I would use them in a collage. I have two 16" x 20" canvases at home that I've painted very red. I said I'd put the leaves on those canvases, instead of painting yellow and orange gourds on them, like I'd planned. The leaves we gathered were burnt umber, gold, light olive, and a little bit of cinnabar red. My boyfriend didn't gather any, he just observed and checked my picks for insects. We walked around the graves, because I don't like stepping on the dead people. It makes me extremely uncomfortable to do so, because I suspect that they don't like it, either. But there were a lot of leaves on the edges of the plots, so everybody stayed tranquil. And I noted, for the zillionth time in my life, how very beautiful birch trees can be. Or maybe it isn't a birch, the one I always look at. It has white bark now and colorful leaves, but it also drops those balls that you step on to smash and unlock the downy, densely packed seeds. You know which ones I mean? The seed balls that look kind of like big, acorn-brown cherries? That's not a birch tree, is it? Or is it? I don't know, but I love that tree.
So I put the leaves in a plastic bag that I had in a desk drawer, and I took them home, and I hope they're not moldy now. Because I haven't had time to make the collage yet, of course. But, in the meantime, I've been thinking that I need to repaint the red canvases and make them blue like the sky, plus gray/white like the tree bark. Then I'll put on the leaves. Then the collages will clash with the colors of my living room. But that's okay. I'm okay with that. If they don't look right, I just won't put them in the living room. I do still want to make them, though.
I said I was going to make a bunch of gifts for Christmas. Made gifts only. But then I realized that I don't have a lot of people to trade gifts with (thank godfully, sigh, ha), and the ones I do trade with, I'm now worried that they won't like the gifts I have in mind to make. But really, what does it matter? How could they like it less than a plastic thing from Wal-Mart? And I've had this argument with myself, in my mind, 9,000 times now over the last 35 Christmases of my life. So I'll stop now. Move forward!
Here's some stuff about parenting teens now. (I wrote a subtitle about venting. Then I vented all this stuff, then realized it was mostly about parenting teenagers. So I came back here and changed the subtitle. Ta da.)
My children (oldest child, mostly) have finally reached the age where they've realized that I'm incredibly ignorant and have no business trying to raise them or even running my own household. And I'm supposed to argue my case -- prove that I am the smartest one, and therefore they have to listen to me and do what I say, always no matter what. Right? I mean, isn't that what you think, when you don't have kids or when your kids are still too young to question your authority?
You say, "I'm not going to let my kid talk to me like that. I will slap my kid across the mouth, and then she will know that I'm the boss."
Or whatever. You say all this stuff to yourself and your friends, about how awesome and fear-inspiring you're going to be, and how your children will be meek subjects who keep their noses clean and still get good grades. You see older parents at the mall with their teenagers, and their teenagers say, "No, Mom, that's stupid!" and you think back to the one time your mom finally lost her temper with you and slapped you across the mouth, or took away your Atari. Or the one time you eavesdropped and overheard someone tell your mom that you were a spoiled fucking brat, and your mom maybe reluctantly agreed, but still defended you because she loved you...
And you bleep over those painful memories and retroactively remove all the spoiled brattery from your own past, and raise your standards for the youth of today and for their parents. And you say... you say...
Whatever. It doesn't matter what you say, or what you said. Because you grow up and your kids grow up. And then they talk back to you, because they're smart and you're dumb, or because they're spoiled and you love them. And sometimes you do get mad, but sometimes you just let them, because you know by now that's what has to happen. Let the kids talk back sometimes. That's what they're supposed to do. Give them their chance. Maybe they really are smarter than you. You hope they are, anyway.
I say, "You're free to disagree with me or express your anger, but you need to do it respectfully. I gave birth to you, and for that alone, you need to respect me. Because, hello, that shit hurt. Y'all were big babies."
It used to upset me when they got angry. But now I'm okay with it. That's their job -- to be little fireballs of anger. Teenagers have to burn off a certain amount of anger, or else they won't grow, right? Anger is the byproduct of adolescence's chemical reactions, right? Seems that way. I kind of enjoy it now, seeing my oldest son get so pissed off. Even when he's mad at me. You go, little boy, I think. (Big boy. Little giant man, actually.) You get mad. It's your time to get angry now. I'm so proud of you for growing!
I listen to my kids argue and complain, and they're now reaching the hardest issues -- the ones it seems like I've only recently overcome, myself.
The first issue is boundaries/control/what you can expect from the people you love. "I helped you level-up your orc but you never help me level-up my druid," in their minds, sometimes equals "You don't love me. I love you too much. You aren't living up to your contract as my brother/friend/guild member." And I have to talk to them about what we owe each other versus what we do for each other out of love, and I try to teach them to set their own boundaries and take care of themselves. And I have to make sure I'm practicing what I preach in my own relationships. Do they see me treat my boyfriend, my friends, my family, the way I tell them to treat each other?
The second issue is wanting approval from others, and caring what others think, and meeting social contracts. One of my kids is so concerned with what his classmates think of him, it stresses him out all night and all weekend. And that one is so hard, because I remember the pain of worrying about that, but I don't remember what finally made me snap out of it. (Time? Exhaustion?) So I just repeat to him what my family said to me, and of course it works just as well, which is not at all. And then he trips me up with logic. He says, "You said I shouldn't worry about what other people think. Then how come I can't wear shorts and flip flops to the party? I don't care if people don't like it."
And y'all know how that goes. Y'all remember, either because your own kids have done it to you, or because you did it to your parents. Right?
I feel like I have to hurry and mature faster, myself. I have to stay several steps ahead of my kids, in terms of maturation and personal development, or else I'll become worthless to them. So I'm doing it. I'm growing.
Cliched syndicated columnist lesson: Watching the kids go through this crap is part of what makes me grow. Duh. Y'all know this already. I don't have to tell you. I'm just venting.
I've been wanting to write something here about reader mail. I got a really angry email from a reader recently, and I wanted to post it and dissect it here, and talk about the patterns that occur in the hate mail that gets sent to me. How it's usually Christian fanatics who feel compelled to scold me, or older women who think I'm making some big mistake in my life, usually related to either dieting or sex. (I used to get a lot of mail from politically conservative men who wanted to lecture me, then assure me that I was still smart and pretty enough to be worth converting. But that's dropped off a lot. I guess I finally turned them off somehow. Darn.)
Then I felt bad about that, and thought that I should instead (or first, at least) talk about the nice mail I get, and how very, very nice it is. I wanted to tell y'all that some of your emails are so kind that I have a hard time responding to them, because I can't figure out what to say because "thank you" doesn't seem like enough. Some of y'all's emails, I put away in my Save box to read again another day.
And I thought that I'd tell y'all that I myself am very, very bad at writing emails to people I admire and whose art I enjoy. I think I'm the absolute master of overthinking my fan mail -- trying to make it sound flattering but not fawning, interested but not stalker-y. And so, instead, I manage to come off as weird, rude, or pointless. This is usually in emails to musicians or artists or other writers. So, after all that, I appreciate y'all's nice emails even more, and it always makes me smile when y'all express fear that you're coming off as stalker-y or crazy.
(You aren't. The general pattern I see is that, if you worry you sound crazy, then you aren't. Because the few crazy, stalker-y people who do write me on a regular basis? Never worry at all about how they sound. They just pour out the crazy with all the confidence in the world, then hit Send and move on their merry, crazy way.)
So, yeah. I wanted to tell y'all all that stuff, and now it looks like I did. Want to see the hate email now? It's the most messed-up one I've received in a while, and I'm going to post it with the sender's full name, and this is why:
1. It's a beautiful exercise in hypocrisy and nonsense, almost to the point that it has to be fictional, in which case the fiction is art and should be shared. Or...
2. If this person, Melissa Mahoney, is as mentally ill as she seems, then maybe someone who knows her will read this and get her some help. Or...
3. If this Melissa Mahoney is just incredibly immature, then maybe someone who knows her will see this and ridicule her in real life, and she'll then learn a valuable lesson about communicating with people on the Internet. Also...
4. If I get murdered any time soon, y'all can give the police Melissa's name, and, most of all...
5. This email does double-duty as advance promotion for my next book!
And now, here it is. My hate mail, by Christian tamale-maker (and aspiring author?) Melissa Mahoney, uncensored and unabridged:
fucking stupid ass bitch. Me and my family make tamales too by Gods grace. FUCK your 'petty judgemental evil thoughts' you fucking antiChrist bitch. dont say 'Jesus Christ'! about some book you like. dont take my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ's Name in vain. He is Almighty God, and He saves. God gives me deep, merciful, non-judgemental thoughts by His grace. you shouldnt have judgemental evil thoughts. judge not, lest ye be judged. when you judge others with your evil thoughts, God will judge you. God has mercy upon us, and we should have mercy upon all by Gods grace, and not judge one another but LOVE one another by His grace. who the fuck would want to buy a childrens book for their children from you. Jesus Christ saves.
Thanks, Melissa, for reminding everyone that I have a children's book coming out in May, and it is called Growing Up with Tamales, it's in English and also in Spanish, and it is suitable for young readers, as well as for reading aloud to children who are too small or lazy to read it themselves. Email me your mailing address if you are an educator, librarian, reviewer, or book blogger and you'd like an advance copy to review.
:) 5:44 AM # (25) comments
Wednesday, December 05, 2007Sad News
My middle son is going to live with his father for a semester.
I'm sad about it. But it's not about me. It's about him, trying something new and hoping for certain improvements in his life. So I support his choice, like any parent would.
It's apparently a more common occurence than I'd previously thought -- kids wanting to try living with the other parent; courts allowing siblings to live apart. It's all been arranged better than I could have hoped, and all three brothers will still spend most weekends together, happily.
And that's it on this topic for now. Even if I felt like saying more about this, I wouldn't because I've agreed not to. In advance, I'd like to thank anyone who wishes to express concern. And I'll ask that they instead just send my son good vibes. Thanks.
We also got some good news recently, concerning my writing.
Annoyingly, I can't disclose the details of that, either. Yet. Sorry! I just wanted to tell y'all there was good news, too, so the more sensitive among you wouldn't worry too much.
(This is me keeping my chin up. I'm like a British soldier in a Vonnegut novel, that way. Keep your chin up, keep your dignity intact, keep your stoicism fresh, etc.)
something different on which to conclude
I found a really exciting magazine. It's called Shop Smart. I'd seen it before, but assumed it was a knock-off of Lucky. Then, the other day, its cover caught my eye, and I flipped through and realized it was actually Consumer Reports, but for smaller things.
Are you like me, in that you've always loved the idea of Consumer Reports, but don't buy enough cars, trucks, washing machine, or bagless vacuum cleaners to make a subscription worth it? If so, I'm thinking they made Shop Smart for us. This month's issue rates hot cocoa mix. (Nestle's got hated on.) It calls out department store "sale" prices, comparing them to MSRPs. (Sears got burned.) It shows you which Barbies are worth money and gives you tips on decorating for the holidays. In short, it's awesome, and it's all I can do not to call in sick so I can read it cover to cover instead of going to work. 6:06 AM # (12) comments
Monday, November 19, 2007Gourds!
We went to an HEB in the middle of nowhere the other day. (HEB is a big ol' grocery chain in Texas.) Out in front of the store, they had crates of bagged gourds and mini pumpkins for $1.50 per bag, surrounded by desperate fruit flies. So I bought three bags of gourds. Even though it's almost too late for harvest decorations, I bought them, figuring I could paint them silver and gold and use them for Martha Stewart-y xmas decorations.
Last night I cut open the bags and sorted through all the mixed gourds, picking out the best ones to display on the mantel. And, oh my god, I love mini gourds so much. I wanted to hug and kiss each one. They're so cute and harvesty. And now I don't want to paint them, because they're so beautiful just the way they are. I want to keep them forever. I want them to be my pets.
blipping over Thanksgiving
So the kids are going to their dad's for Thanksgiving, and we're not even cooking turkey--we're going to a Chinese restaurant. So, in a way, I feel like Thanksgiving doesn't exist and therefore I'm already planning for Christmas.
And it kind of makes me sad, to skip a holiday like that. But then again, I'm so glad to have the kids for Christmas this year, I'll gladly skip Thanksgiving in exchange for that.
I got my hair cut, but didn't have it all cut off, like I threatened. They layered the hell out of it, but left the back long. While Tina hacked away, I noted the clear line of demarcation between my old color and my roots. So I went home later and dyed my hair Navajo Bronze, aka "light caramel brown," and it came out dark auburn instead, and it looks nice and I like it.
And we got a new scale, and I've lost 35 pounds total in the past 6 months. And my goal is to lose 20 more, and I'm giving myself 6 more months to do that. So... yeah. Wish me luck.
My boyfriend can cook like a mofo.
The other day we were ambling around the grocery store, trying to decide what to make for dinner. My boyfriend says, "How about chicken wings?" And I said, "You mean like buffalo wings? Eh."
And he made us baked chicken wings, with salt and pepper and garlic, and DAMN they were good. My boyfriend is the master of cooking stuff with just salt, pepper, garlic, and making whatever it is taste like a $29 entree.
My night elf, she is sad.
My World of Warcraft character, Xora, has been stuck on Level 32 for the past nine months. I'm on this quest where I have to go into a haunted house and kill a bunch of zombies. Whenever I log on, no one else is playing that quest so no one can help me out. So I'll go into the haunted house and kill a few zombies, until the biggest zombie kills me, and then I'll spend a while bringing my character back to life, and then I get tired and log off.
I told my kids that, unless they wanted to get grounded, at least one of them was going to have to get online with me and help my character level up.
"I can just play your character for you until you're like, Level 35," said my youngest, who is 10.
"I don't want someone else to play it for me!" I whined. "I want to level up by myself!"
"Fine," said my oldest. "I'll help you the weekend after next, if I have time."
It's that time of year, when the world needs new clothes.
My boyfriend Tad wanted to look at trenchcoats, even though he already owns at least two. But we finally had a cold front, and the temperature set off that trenchcoat impulse within him.
So we went to the Galleria, which is where a few rich people go to shop, and where zillions of poor people go to watch them. We went into Neiman's and pretended we could afford it. We went to Saks 5th and pretended we were classy enough to lift our noses at the mannequins. We went to the new Barney's and sniffed that it was nothing like the one in New York. We peered into the window of Fendi and disagreed over the spotlighted purse. (I was for, Tad was against.) We went to Club Monaco and enjoyed the music. We went to Nordstrom and left in a huff over the fact that there were no more BCBG sweater dresses in size XL. (Which was good, since I couldn't afford one, anyway.)
Most importantly, we noted that fingerless knit gloves (solid or striped) were all the rage again, just like back in the eighties. We thought my 10-year-old son might like a pair. But the cheapest pair we found was $14 at Urban Outfitters, and that was too much.
We left the Galleria. The next day, we went to Target, where we purchased a set of two pairs of knit gloves--one black and one black and white stripes--for $1.49. We took them home and cut off the fingers with pinking shears. When my youngest son got home from Austin that night, we told him our Galleria adventures, then presented him with the knock-off gloves. He takes after us... I couldn't tell if he was more enchanted with the trendiness of them, or with the fact that we'd recreated the trend for so cheap. 6:37 AM # (6) comments
Friday, November 02, 2007"You were destined for a pauper's grave."
You wouldn't think listening to depressing songs would cheer a person up... or maybe you would. Maybe you know.
I am undergoing stress lately, so I listen to sad songs from the '90s and it cheers me up. Or maybe what I'm actually doing is listening to the sad '90s songs that got me through my last custody battle, and they are reminding me that I have nothing to fear in this recent custody battle. (Other than attorney's fees.) Because I'm still a good mom. In fact, I'm a better mom now than I was then. And Steven Malkmus and Ben Folds validate this feeling within.
Okay, who knows what happened after Ben Folds Five recorded that song using Ben Folds' dad's answering machine message? What did his dad say? Was he amused? Embarrassed? Proud? I imagine he was proud, but I wish I could get an anecdote on that. Wikipedia has nothing. What, then, is the purpose of Wikipedia? I have to wonder, because it's sorely failed me in this regard.
Last night, as I read the kids their latest Harry Potter chapter, we got to the part of the book where Harry learns the astonishing, shocking, hardcore truth.
Usually my kids like to crack little jokes throughout the readings, or else poke each other and poke the cat, but this time everyone was listening, silent as heck, mouths agape.
"That's sorry," my middle son finally said, upon the conclusion of the chapter. His brothers agreed. What happened to Harry Potter was sorry.
I'm now gearing up -- gathering the emotional strength -- to read them the next chapter. AKA, the Tear Jerking Chapter. Y'all who read the book know which one I'm talking about.
I was telling my friend Joolio about this -- the Boy Who Lived and The Chapter That Awed -- and he asked if I purposely read the book in a dramatic way.
"Well, yeah," I said. "I try to do different voices and stuff. You know. You can't read aloud if you're gonna do it lame."
He said that he not only did voices, but he would also do dramatic hand gestures when reading to his kids. (Back before they turned to teenagers.) He said they'd tell him, "How did the monster do it, Dad?" and he'd have to do the gestures again. He did his monster gesture and I had to laugh.
But I wasn't laughing at his monster. I was laughing because it's kind of awesome to read your kids a story and have them enjoy it, and people who don't know that are missing out.
I said this before, I know. But I'm still thinking about it, because reading my kids Harry Potter is one of the best things going on in my life right now. Just like it was nice when we got into the van last night and the old '90s songs came on, and my middle son said, "I remember this song. Isn't this Ben Folds Five?" He's a musical genius, that one. He remembers every song he's ever heard.
Don't think I'm being insecure, but I have something I need to say, to clarify.
Remember how I told y'all I lost 31 pounds? (It's 32 now.) Well, I meant that I lost the 32 pounds I've gained since 2003.
So, if you haven't seen me since 2003, you won't notice anything different.
That's all. Just wanted to disclose. Don't want anyone to think I'm misleading, here. For the record, I am still proud of this accomplishment. The other day I told my boyfriend, "Look. These are the pants I wore on our first date! They fit me again!"
He was like, "Oh, wow." But non-chalant. He's a very good boyfriend and therefore doesn't get too excited about the weight loss. I love him.
I was supposed to have lost 33 pounds by Wednesday, but I've only lost 32. Sighz. Okay, onward. 12:35 PM # (6) comments
Wednesday, October 24, 2007Right Now
1. I am tired because tonight we did CathE's workout instead of Gilad's, and CathE is driven by demons. My triceps tremble and burn.
2. I am sad, tired, annoyed, resigned because my children's dad is trying, aGAIN, to sue me for custody of them. This time he claims that I neglect them -- that their physical and scholastic health is endangered every day that they spend with me. I strongly suspect that he's pulling this last ditch effort in the vain hopes that he'll get custody right before he has to show the court his latest 1040. (The one that shows that he just had a new house built, and that he still owns a big chunk of property that he's renting out to commercial tenants, and that he therefore cannot possibly make as little money as he's been claiming he does.) His most damning evidence against me: One of our children has plantar warts. ONE OF OUR CHILDREN HAS PLANTAR WARTS! I pray that the judge makes the right decision...
3. I am happy because I got my auto loan refinanced and will henceforth save 3% interest and $75 per month. Saving money! Yay! My Excel budget spreadsheet is happy. I fed it this arithmatic and it liked it.
4. I am (not as) stressed (as I should be) because I haven't yet begun to make my costume for Saturday night's costume party. I have all my materials, and I dyed the top half of my outfit. But I still need to make a skirt and wings. I need to take my sewing machine out of the closet. That's the hardest part, probably -- taking the sewing machine out and threading it. After that, it should roll like duck back water.
5. I am about to read Harry Potter to my kids. Remember the NYTimes book critic who said the last HP book sucked, and that his daughter was relieved when he gave up reading it to her half way through? I feel sorry for that guy and for his kid. Maybe he should take some lessons in how to read aloud. I get a lot of practice reading aloud, since I'm an author and I occasionally read to college kids and whatnot. College kids are a difficult audience -- especially the ones who are only listening to you for course credit. Anyway, maybe the NYT critic should read to college kids for a while, then go home and read to his daughter. Because I'm reading Harry Potter to my kids, and we're all into it. My kids are like, "OMG! Ron is annoying! Hermione is annoying! Harry is annoying! What's gonna happen next? Please read one more chapter, Mom!"
6. I am going to bed early, in the hopes that a little extra sleep will help me out. Lately I'm having lots of crazy REM time, and lots of dreams in which I eat sugary foods by the pound. Maybe because my body's pissed at me for working out now?
7. I am planning to wear something boring tomorrow. I've lost 31 pounds since May. Today I wore something a little bit less than boring, and I got a lot of comments. (I wore a skirt that fit instead of a skirt that's one size too big.) I don't really like it when people comment on the way I look. I mean, if you want to compliment my clothing choices, or my fitness progress, then that's fine and I will thank you. But it isn't necessary to compliment or backhandedly compliment my body or any of its parts.
8. I am looking forward to the year 2008. I have a feeling that's going to be a good year for me, and that 2007 was just prep time. So I'm still prepping. But I'll be glad when this year's tucked away and I can move on to new things. You know? 8:17 PM # (12) comments
Thursday, October 18, 2007The Dark Is Rising, people!
Just have to say this real fast, before it's too late.
If you read The Dark Is Rising, by Susan Cooper, as a child and you thought it was awesome, and you:
a) don't want to see the movie because you're scared it'll suck, or
b) didn't even know they'd made a movie of it because they only advertised it on kids' TV stations...
then you should go see it, real fast, before it leaves the theaters. Because we saw it last night and it was awesome. I went in with the a) mindset, above. I didn't expect much. They modernized the hell out of the story, setting it, like, yesterday, with the Stanton family keeping in touch via online video and Will Stanton having an IPod and all that. And some of the events were nudged around, of course. But, in general, it was awesome. The cinematography was beautiful, the special effects fabulous yet tasteful, and the actors, all unknown to me, were well-groomed and did their jobs very well. All three of my kids, ages 10, 13, and 15, enjoyed it. Even though the younger two hadn't read the book, they were able to follow along quite well.
It was better than that Eragon movie, and probably better than most if not all of the Harry Potter movies.
Funny thing: We were the only ones in the theater last night. (Actually, we were probably the only patrons in the entire cinema.) Since they were born, I've been very strict with my kids about movie manners. We don't talk during movies. Never, ever. Unless it's an emergency, and then we whisper directly into each others' ears.
But last night, since we were the only people in the theater, that rule could be relaxed. We talked, and then we yelled. Well, I did, mostly. I was like, "OMG, that's messed UP! No way! Dude! Oh my god, I'm freaking out! That is too scary for me!"
And my kids were very indulgent, only rolling their eyes affectionately or else politely yelling "Ooh!" a couple of times to keep me company.
I'm gonna go back and see it with my boyfriend, who never read the book, to see if I'm just imagining how good it was.
Okay, that's it. I have a hundred other things to tell y'all, but will save them for later. 6:14 AM # (8) comments
Tuesday, October 16, 2007Possible Reasons to Get Into Shape
Not my reasons, necessarily. Just hypothetical ones.
1. To fit into better clothing.
2. To wear a certain Halloween costume that you didn't feel comfortable wearing before.
3. To participate in activities you were physically unable to do before.
4. To improve your health.
I know we're not supposed to say that fat people are less healthy, but I have to tell y'all that my hypoglycemia has improved dramatically since I've lost a little weight.
5. To look sexier.
Cheekbones, high waist-to-hip ratio. Human biology says these are sexy.
6. To be able to try new... um... yoga positions.
7. To get more clothing on sale.
Smaller clothes always seem to go on sale more often. To be able to find better stuff at thrift stores.
8. To go up the parking garage stairs without breathing all hard and making your lunch dates worry that you're going to have a heart attack.
Reasons to Lose Weight that May End in Heartbreak
1. So that people will love you.
2. So that people will treat you better.
3. For revenge.
4. So that your life will go from miserable to awesome.
Thrift Store Shopping
I don't mind telling y'all that I'm kind of broke right now. This mortgage and all the expenses that houses incur are kind of killing me. But it's all right -- I have a house. I have equity.
So, in the meantime, I've been losing some weight, right? Remember I told y'all that? And, I'm glad to be losing it, but at the same time, I can't afford to buy new pants as fast as I've been needing them.
Enter: Thrift store shopping.
I have tons of fluctuating issues with thrift store shopping. Sometimes I think it's cool, and fun, and good for the environment. I know lots of people who shop exclusively at thrift stores, and they find really awesome clothes to wear, and I admire them for it. I like vintage clothing, in general. I like the idea of wearing something creative, and something you won't find at every single mall on earth.
But then, sometimes, it gives me PTSD over growing up poor. The smell of the Goodwill will depress me, I mean, and I'll have to turn around and leave.
Other times -- times when I'm fatter -- I hate thrift store shopping because, apparently, fat people never give good clothes away. I don't blame them. When you're fat, it's hard enough to find good-looking clothes. Why would you give your good stuff away without knowing if you'd be able to replace it? No, fat people have to hold on to their good stuff. I know, because I've been fat. More than once.
I'm still pretty fat, but less fat than I was before. Less fat than the pants in my closet, in fact. So, over the weekend, my boyfriend and my youngest son and I went thrift-store shopping. And, oh my god, I am going to shop at thrift stores for the rest of my life, y'all. I mean, at least for as long as I'm less-fat and I have a mortgage I can barely afford.
We went to this one by my house -- one of those gigantic ones with a name like Value Village or Thrift Town or Used Universe or whatever. One of those ones where all the aisles are organized by color, and all the signs are in Spanish, then English, and the staff who sets the prices has NO IDEA what's valuable and what's not.
I mean, granted, what's valuable to me doesn't have to be what's valuable to them. It's good when everyone likes different stuff, right? But still -- it doesn't cease to amaze me how you can go into a thrift store and buy either a polyester jewel-toned skirt suit with big gold buttons for $11.97, or else a wool sweater for $1.93.
Luckily, this thrift store didn't have Depressing Smell. It just had the normal, slightly musty thrift-store smell that fades from your nostrils within a few moments.
I found two sweaters, one top, one skirt, a pair of work pants, and two pairs of jeans, for $30! Dude! And they were nice, too. Some of the stuff even seemed new. I've noticed, lately, that the Goodwill carries new clearance merchandise from Target, Mervyn's, and Wal-Mart. So maybe this Value Thrift World store does, too.
One of the pairs of jeans was from the Gap, and it was good to know that I can wear pants from the Gap now, because I haven't had the guts to try on Gap pants in an actual Gap store yet.
I probably would've bought more stuff, but I was tired of looking through the racks. You have to be in the mood for it, and we were pressed for time. My boyfriend didn't find anything because he wasn't in the mood. My son, however, found a $6 men's blazer that he simply needed to own. He needed it, y'all. For formal wear. For cool weather. For the simple fact that it was six dollars and it looked good on him. Never mind that he's only 10 years old. He needed it, so I bought it. I can't deny him. I know how it feels, to need cool clothes like that.
So we raked it in, and I was glad we went. Just like, for the second year in a row, I was glad we went thrifting for our Halloween costumes, too. A while back, we went to a smaller local thrift store -- our costume-luckiest, and my boyfriend bought a suit and a shirt to use in his costume, totalling about $9. I bought a bee-oo-tiful ladies' full slip (the kind of thing you'd only find in the lingerie section of the thrift store, these days) for $2.32, that will, with a few yards of tulle, become my fairy costume.
I know a photographer who uses thrift store lingerie for photoshoots. I know several bloggers -- including some of y'all reading this, maybe -- who regular post their thrifting finds on their Flickrs. I know artists who scout thrift stores for art supplies. During the summer, I bought a bunch of Barbies from the thrift store to use in my own project. It was, like, twelve barbies for six dollars. Something ridiculous like that. Beautiful Barbies in all colors and vintages. And then a big-headed Filipino Bratz boy, for good measure, for 75 cents.
Anyway. I'm happy. I'm broke but I'm happy. You know? I'm realizing lately that it's totally possible to be both, as long as you have people to love and a little bit of creativity.
Tell me about your thrift store finds, your reasons to get into shape or not, or whatever you want to tell me. 6:25 AM # (24) comments