Thursday, October 28, 2010

An Open Letter

Dear Seventh Grader,

You know that saying, "You're driving me crazy"? Seriously, I really think that you are. Driving me crazy. Look no further than this godforsaken twitch in my right eye. Did you see it just then? No? In fairness to you, I don't see how you could have noticed it, since I don't think you have actually looked me in the eye since your last birthday. But eye contact might be overrated. Conversation is really the key to a mutually loving relationship...of course, those are pretty hard to come by with you as well these days. No wait! I think we had one last weekend. It was fleeting, and of course I initiated it. It's a pretty amazing talent you have there, the whole talking without actually opening your mouth thing. Can't say that I comprehend many of the words coming out. But who needs to understand what you're saying when I can get the gist of it from your facial expressions?

One thing you could do for me? Just a little thing. Won't take up much of your valuable texting time. When I am pulling up in front of your school in the morning to drop you off, I'd REALLY appreciate it if you would not leap out of the vehicle while it's still moving. I know this maneuver spares you the agony of having to actually say goodbye to me. But as the driver, it is highly unnerving to have your passenger exit in this fashion. I promise not to hug you or smile in your direction or anything embarrassing like that. In fact, I've been practicing that whole mumble mouth thing? And I think I can manage "Have a great day" without moving my lips now! Let's just give it a try tomorrow. I won't visibly acknowledge your presence, you wait until the car comes to a complete stop before getting out of it. Deal?

I know you are going to find this hard to believe, what with all the expressions of frustration that are flying around both of our heads recently. But I happen to love you. Don't roll your eyes at me when I tell you I love you! If you rolled your eyes at me just a fraction less, I might even like you. Now that would be something, wouldn't it? I seem to recall that you can be pretty darn likeable. Clearly, your friends find you likeable. All four million of them. Then again, I bet you don't roll your eyes at them. That's a classic move, by the way, the eye rolling. I bet you think you invented it. Nuh uh. Girls have been pissing their mothers off with that one since the beginning of time. It's damn effective.

Also, I bet if you could keep your eyes still in your head for a minute, and maybe even temporarily focus them in my direction, you might notice something truly riveting. A mind-blowing something that you could tell all your friends. They may not believe you, but seeing is believing, right? Know what you'll see? That your mother is...get this...a PERSON! A real person! Multi-faceted! With hopes and goals and dreams of her own! And feelings! And a whole lot of stuff on her plate! Who likes to be liked! And doesn't like to be dismissed! I know, it's out there. But it's true.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, though. I don't want to send you off the rails with the rest of it. I'll just give you a hint. If you were to look in my direction - you know, just long enough to absorb the reality of my being a person - and if you were to keep looking, just a teensy extra minute longer, you might pick up the faintest glowing edges of something else. Only a reflection, actually. A bit of light coming off some unknown source. That source? It's the sun. Like I said, this might be more than you want to know right now. But keep that sun in mind, okay? Because someday, on some test, you may be asked what the world revolves around. And it might seem natural to answer that question a certain way, but trust me. That answer is incorrect.

Hv a grt dy! Lv U!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Maybe the Leaflets are Embroidered

Now that the boxes are unpacked (for the most part) and the contractor is gone (though, interestingly, not finished with the job) and we have befriended our new neighbors (befriended might be an overstatement. More like welcomed all of their children into our home while seeing pretty close to nothing of the parents), I've determined that it's time to take a look around this new town of ours.

My first impression: it's pretty Townie.

It's strange to be the new person in town. All of my experience with this has been in places where I have spent a fair amount of time there already. But the view of any town is different when you live there. Midway through my sophomore year of high school, for instance, my parents decided it would be just perfect to buy a house in a town twenty-five miles north of the only one in which I had ever lived, thereby ripping me away from everyone and everything I had ever known. Truthfully, in many ways this ended up being one of the best turning points in my life. The original friends who were truly my friends are still my friends today. Plus I made a bunch of new friends. And I was able to stop skidding down the path I was surely on to becoming a reclusive Goth and develop some actual social skills. So thanks for that, Mom and Dad. My point, however, is that the "new" town was actually the place where my parents would take me as a child when they wanted to have a rip-roaring "Family Day." We mostly went to the mall. It seemed pretty cool back then, but that same mall today is kind of old and stale. Going to the mall is fine, but moving is something else entirely. This will be the subject of my eventual blockbuster novel written for the angsty "tween" market. But I guess I'll need to insert some zombies or something.

Returning to present day, I actually worked in Townie town for a few years and sent both of the Tornadoes to preschool here. Let me just say that the preschool was not some super-exclusive place with a forty-year waiting list. It was just a regular preschool, strongly recommended by a friend, that initially was very convenient because I worked in town, but became a major pain in the behind once I found myself working in another town. (Ironically, in the town where I lived as a child. Before all the ripping and turning point stuff took place. It will all be in the novel.) Where was I? Oh, yes, Townie town. So I've done a little looking around now, beyond all the places where I used to order lunch. Here are three observations I have made:

They sure do like diners. It seems odd to me that a town of this size can support such a large number of diners. There are downtown diners, drive in diners, off the highway diners. And they're all pretty busy. Doesn't anyone know how to cook an egg around here? I would have killed for a diner in our last town - the one in the middle of nowhere - just for a chance to go out for breakfast once in a while without involving the whole rest of the day in the commute. But this seems like too much of a good thing. There is one particular diner that I pass every morning that is currently advertising 99 cent ice cream cups on its marquee. Who is this sign for? Is this supposed to lure me away from the competing diners? Or is it some kind of global warming commentary, advertising ice cream in the middle of October? What happened to the Sunday all-you-can-eat buffet?

There's a craft fair at the high school this weekend. I know this because it is being advertised all over town via giant handmade signs that are stuck into people's front lawns. As though the craft fair were running for office. Which come to think of it, I may have to go find out how those craft people feel about a few issues. This could sway my vote. Seriously, why is everyone in town so all about this craft fair? I've been to my fair share of these things. Not one of them has been thrilling enough to evoke this kind of mass euphoria. Maybe it's code. Maybe there's going to be a revolution. It's a good thing I bought that cow.

Are there any parents around here? Hello? Maybe I shouldn't share this observation. On the off chance that I actually become friends with one or more of these parents, and they inadvertently read my blog, this could be considered offensive. But who am I kidding? Nobody is reading my blog. So here is basically what I mean. Within days of moving in, the Tornadoes ensnared the interest of every kid between the ages of 7 and 17 within a one mile radius. They all congregate in a giant blob in front of our house. Except when they're inside our house. Now I kind of like that their new friends are comfortable with me and with Future Husband. We both enjoy that Seventh Grader's friends have come to expect that we will be their ride to school on rainy days. It's nice that we've figured out to buy five times as much tomato juice as usual so that Fifth Grader's friend from two doors down will always have a ready supply. This would all be a great deal more fun, however, if the contractor would come back and finish the basement like he was supposed to. That way the kids could all go downstairs and hang out, instead of taking over my kitchen, until their parents call them to go home. Which, by the way, they don't do. So when I tell Seventh Grader to come in the house once it gets dark outside? I look like a big ball of mean. Because apparently all the other kids are allowed to roam the neighborhood indefinitely.

I guess I can't help wondering where I fall on the parenting spectrum. In our former town, I found the overall parenting standard to be Rampant Overinvolvement - to the point where it became difficult to discern the children from the parents at times. Here? Well, the kids are all wearing shoes and seem to be attending school regularly. Good signs indeed. But where are they getting the shoes? Not entirely clear. And why can't anyone else's mother ever pick up from a school dance or movie?

You know what I think? They're all off getting ready for the "craft fair." Well that's fine. I'll just stay here, cook up some steaks for the kids.

Maybe later we'll all go out for ice cream cups.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Date Night and The Other Man

Now that Future Husband - and Seventh Grader and Fifth Grader - and I are cohabitating, I felt it enormously important to insist upon a regularly scheduled weekly "date night". Just me and Future Husband. Alone. Doing whatever. Initially, I had a whole bunch of creative ideas for what might constitute the "whatever" of these specially set aside two hours. But the effort of thinking up all those ideas was so exhausting that I'm pretty sure we'll end up simply agreeing upon the Restaurant of the Week, throwing back a few watered down drinks and a nice piece of fish, and hastily making out in the car before one of us reluctantly volunteers to pick up the Tornadoes at gymnastics practice.

The non-picker-upper will be faced with going home for a little "alone time", (which is code for "Relax, but not too much or you'll fall asleep, for crying out loud DON'T FALL ASLEEP! Date's not over! Must! Stay! Awake! ...Maybe I'll my eyes for a few minutes...*cue pillow-drooling*...). The picker-upper will have to resign him or herself to the fact that whatever mild aphrodisiac buzz may have been earlier set alight will now, most likely, be killed by the extended break in events. And will have to be conjured up all over again from scratch if called upon. Which it won't be. Because the non-picker-upper is unconscious.

At least that's how it went last night.

We haven't actually managed to pull off too many of these "date nights". In fact, when I think about it, last night was only the second in the roughly eight weeks we've been in cohabitation mode. This has been a point of frustration for me, one I have made known to Future Husband. Points to be made with Future Husband - I have learned the hard way - must be cushioned in a nest of the softest possible introduction, using a minimum number of sentences that begin with the word "You." Figuring out how to express dissatisfaction to him has become a bit of an art form for me. A creative outlet, if you will. Not that I find myself dissatisfied with a lot of things. Just a few. Date night is not the ideal place to practice this form of personal expression, but last night I found the opportunity to outline this handful of items (gently, in hushed tones, while wearing my new sweater) positively irresistible. They were as follows:

1. What's with the lack of date nights? As I said, we are eight or so weeks into this new living arrangement. The monotony is absolutely killing me. It turns out that, while not killing him, the monotony has been at least noticeable to Future Husband and has caused him at least a moderate degree of discomfort as well. That made me happy. We were able to revisit the way we'd like our life together to be - which is NOT monotonous - as we have dreamily talked about together on many occasions leading up to cohabitation. And while I may find the very concept of "date night" to be about as glaringly symptomatic of monotony as is possible, I was able to voice my insistence that we must carve out this time to, if nothing else, continue to talk dreamily about all the ways we will not become monotonous. Point made.

1. What's with your boyfriend? Future Husband has a male friend with whom he is particularly close. I'm talking to you, CB. Future Husband and CB speak by phone two to five times per day. It's weird.

True, he lives several hours away in an entirely different state. True also, I consider him and his wife to be friends of mine as well. We've vacationed with them. CB's wife was highly instrumental in the design of my engagement ring. They're good people. But seriously. Two to five times. Per day. Very frequently these calls take place when Future Husband and I are in a car together. And they consist of approximately this:

FH: Hey.
CB: Hey.
FH: Heading to the office.
CB: No s**t. Me too.
FH: Talk to you later.
CB: Yuh.

One or two of their daily conversations are longer than this. CB is particularly fond of ending all sentences with the words "and s**t", so it might sound something like this:

FH: Got much going on today?
CB: Yeah, I have some appointments and s**t. Thinking about knocking off early, go drink some beers and s**t.
FH: Yeah, that's cool. Talk to you later.
CB: Yuh.

Really, this is their relationship. And the thing is, I'm jealous. What I'm jealous of is the fact that Future Husband has someone, other than me, that he can reach out and talk to every day. Even if, technically, I wouldn't really call that talking. Women cannot have conversations like that. There must be substance. Substance is time-consuming, and all the women with whom I am friends are very busy people. As am I. So I don't have any daily calls. I don't even have any weekly calls. And so I am a little jealous of the man-love between CB and Future Husband. No need to curb it, or do anything differently. Just voicing a little frustration and s**t.

3. When are we GETTING MARRIED???? ...Actually, this didn't come up last night. Nor do I think it ever will, at least not in that manner. I'm kind of digging being engaged. Not that I want to be just engaged forever and ever. I'm sure there is a limit, somewhere out there. But I haven't given it a lot of thought yet. In fact, I thought for sure that if there was even one point of dissatisfaction that Future Husband would reciprocate with last night, it would be "What's with not remembering to tell people the good news?" Because I do forget a lot, when we see people whom we haven't seen in a while, to tell them about the engagement. If it were him forgetting, I might be bothered by that. But he didn't bring it up. So either he was ruminating on what I had said, or it isn't an issue. Why isn't it an issue? Doesn't he think I should be shouting it from the rafters? Is there a problem I don't know about?

We'll have to discuss this on our next date.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'll Take Eleven Chuck Roasts, A Dozen Ribeyes, and Thirty Pounds of Hamburger. And Another Piece of Pie, Please.

I have just returned home from a lovely dinner at an old friend's house where we discussed, primarily, the ideal way to hack up a cow. Lots of fun.

We didn't lead with cow-hacking, because that would have just been weird. This is a friend whom I have not seen face-to-face quite literally since high school graduation. And honestly, I don't exactly remember what time I may have spent with her on that specific day. There was a lot going on. But thanks to the miracle of social networking, I have been able to reconnect with said friend. We have "chatted" and what have you over the past year or so. Catching up with her has been one of a variety of positive experiences I have had since I reluctantly dipped my Luddite toe ever further into the realm of twenty-first century communication.

Another of these positive experiences took place a month or so ago, when I was reunited with another high school friend, whom I have also not seen since the fated step-up into the real world. This other friend - CG, we'll call her - showed up at my house to carry away a desk that I was not taking with me to the new home. Drove multiple hours to get to my house, in fact. We then found that we did not have the collective strength to carry the desk down the walkway, so we proceeded to empty her car of blankets and random two-by-fours to craft a device for dragging the desk across the lawn. I didn't ask why she had 2x4's in her car. Because I remember her in high school. Anyway, then she left to drive multiple hours back home. It was nice. But odd.

So back to the original friend. We'll just call her C. So we had occasion to get together this evening for dinner, and continue the catching up process, with the excuse that we needed to discuss how to cut up the grass-fed cow that we had decided to purchase together. Well, half a cow, actually. Anyway, according to the cow's current custodian, it seems the time has arisen to prepare for its arrival. So C and her husband had us all over for dinner (a fine barbecued rib roast, thank you husband-of-C, who also bakes a mean apple pie.)

After dinner, Husband-of-C presented a diagram of a cow. The four of us - C, Husband-of-C, myself and Future Husband, then took a trip around the cow, in sections, and I now know precisely where the meat for steak fajitas originates. Husband-of-C was quite knowledgeable about the regions of cow. Apparently, there is some butcher shop experience somewhere back in his youth. This was a relief. I fear that, without him, I may have just elected to grind up my whole quarter of a cow into hamburger. There are lots of ways to use hamburger, you know. Fortunately, Husband-of-C was able to educate us to a degree about the various kinds of roasts one can procure from the Round Region. And the answer to "why can't we select both porterhouse AND filet mignon"? Well, I doubt I can relay it in any kind of educated fashion, but you just can't have both. But you can have strip steaks with your filet. So that's good news.

Our take on this joint cow purchase will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 125 pounds of meat. I'm feeling a little Ted Nugent-y about the whole thing, to be honest. But I've done a fair share of nutrition reading this year, and this seems like a wise decision for a family that is going to eat red meat anyway. And for a woman who has always secretly wanted to own a deep freezer. Which I guess we will be purchasing in the near future. Because the cow is coming. And he'll need a home.