Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Elephant leg boots and other footwear

I recently took my daughter to a doctor's appointment, and because it was toward the end of the school day, I picked Jordan up at the same time. And because it was in Friendship Heights, which has Bloomingdale's, my mother wanted to join.

Which is how all four of us found ourselves, post-appointment, in the shoe department at Nordstrom Rack. This is, without sarcasm, my idea of fun.

So I spotted these shoes that looked like sneakers, but endless sneakers! They had big white bottoms! They were grey and soft, oh, so soft! And stretchy!

You pulled them on, and you just kept pulling them up and up and up, nearly up to your coochie-coo! (Yes, I know it's called a vulva, and we incorrectly continue to call it a vagina with our kids, except India still says GAGINA and I am OK with that as I know full well what she's talking about.)

Anyway, you pull those sneaker boots up really high.

I thought they were amazing. But they might be horrible. Amazing? Horrible? I couldn't tell.

So I asked Facebook.

My friend Tracy--and I love my friends forever for their honesty--said, "They make you look like you have elephant leg."

Wendy agreed. Then another person did. And another.

And actually, I'd be fine having elephant leg boots. I would happily refer to them as my "elephant leg boots."

Except that they didn't look good with a single outfit.

I was thinking, "Oh, great! These are sneakers that are also boots that are warm and I can just pull them on with everything and walk for miles and they'll keep my legs cozy!"


They looked terrible with jeans. And leggings. I didn't try them on with a skirt because I am not going to have a pair of high-maintenance elephant boots that I can only wear with like one outfit that I own. I'm just not.

So I took them back and stumbled across a black pair of over-the-knee real boots that have an actual heel. India totally approves. So far I haven't worn them, because I can't quite decide.

Maybe I'll put them on with some outfits and show you.

And finally, this is my India modeling Leigh Shoes.

As in, "Mama! These are so cute! Leigh would love these shoes. Look at me in the Leigh Shoes!"
She is absolutely right. Leigh would rock those shoes. I commended India on her choice.

However. I'm willing to bet Leigh would wear them on the correct feet. 

Friday, February 02, 2018

New news

Hello, friends!

Yesterday I got my hair cut and colored (see new hair above, not much different from old hair but also completely different). I asked my stylist if she could put fewer highlights so I can grow out more of my own hair color. I've decided I should see what color it actually is after all this time.

Also: selfies are hard. I always feel like a dork.

I'm always so amused by the foils that I have to take a picture.
Incidentally, and really only related to foil, I recently read Lizard Music by Daniel Pinkwater, a book that delighted me in 6th grade. It was a quick, fun book, and one I hope my children might be interested in.


In the top photo, the painting in the background is of me, on the shores of Lake Superior. My Aunt Jo, who was a painter, painted it after we'd been to visit her one summer. She had a houseboat, and she once took us out to the island I'm looking towards. In our parlance, that was Aunt Jo's island.

There I'm sifting through rocks, finding agates. We collected heaps and heaps of agates. Aunt Jo loved puns (I'm suspecting this is genetic), and once when my brother found a regular rock and asked her what it was, she said, "Oh, that's a snot agate!"

"What's a snot agate?"

"Snot an agate."

I've recently been in close touch with her daughter, Patti Jo, who has been sharing her memories. For a time I've been thinking I need to go back to where my dad grew up, and now, the pull to see family and familiar places is very strong.

Aunt Jo painted scenes of Duluth. I wish I had one of her scenes. She had these block puzzles called City Blocks. Why didn't I ever get one back then? They were wonderful.

Anyway. Experiences are more important than stuff.


On Wednesday, I start a full-time job that will last until my kids get out of school in June. A friend was leaving my old workplace, and they needed someone to fill in for a few months, until the organization gets a new president and that person can hire the new employee.

So I'm stepping back into the full time, office workforce. But I'm returning to a familiar place, where I already like my boss and am friends with many of my colleagues.

I'm both nervous and excited. It's going to be a big change for my family, as I've now been home over four years. India hasn't gone and Jordan doesn't remember going to aftercare.

This will be a big shift, but not a permanent one, and I think shaking things up will be good for all of us. And a paycheck is helpful.

All in all, I consider this a lucky turn of events.


We have gone back to India screaming, threatening, raging and all around shooting our nights to hell because she does not want to go to bed. That's fun.


Speaking of, it is currently cold as hell frozen over or whatever the expression is. I'm not best pleased with this situation.

Wishing you all a great weekend! Big hugs!


Monday, January 29, 2018

That time we drove to Canada and learned how to cross the street

Last night I suggested driving Betty and the kids to Duluth, MN this summer to visit my cousins. It couldn't be a whole lot farther than Toronto, could it?

You may recall that I occasionally decide it would be really fun to drive somewhere. Like Texas. Or Denver. And then Nick points out the distance and difficultly.

When I pulled it up on Google Maps it said it would take me 378 hours. Then I realized it had defaulted to the walk option. (Also, I'm a fast walker, and am confident I could do it in like 350 hours.)

Even so, it is almost 1,200 miles far, and I'm not sure how we will go. We have time to decide.

But. I still haven't told you about last summer when we drove to Canada!

We drove to Canada. My car was in park when I took this picture.
Last August, Betty, the kids, and I set off in the direction of Toronto. We had Waze, passports, Kindles for the kids, a giant bag of snacks, and the Hamilton CDs.

We figured we'd get as far as we could--hopefully Buffalo--sleep the night, and then drive to Toronto the next day. I was going to call Nick when we knew where we'd stop for the night so he could get a deal on reservations online.

About an hour out of Buffalo I got the kids to get out of the car and use the bathroom at a very clean convenience store by saying, "Nana will buy you candy if you try to pee pee."

I'm not proud of this, but it worked, and let me just be totally honest and say I am not above blatant bribery.

Nick asked if we could make it to the Canadian side of Niagara. I polled my passengers, who said, "Sure!" So I said, "Sure!"

We were super bummed that they didn't stamp our passports at the border. We also didn't jokingly ask for asylum. Best not to push the humor with border police.

I mean, I it's all fun and games until you're in isolation getting a cavity search.

So I just said we're here to visit old friends and we'll be staying for five days and then heading straight back home and thank you very much for letting us in.

The next thing I did was get stuck in the E-ZPass lane for the toll. I was all, "Look, they have E-ZPass! I have E-ZPass!"

But! I don't have Canadian E-ZPass! I...couldn't pass. And then a van pulled up behind me. And I got all panicky. Then the van driver signaled for me to back up, and I was trying, but I am a sucky backer-upper and there wasn't much room.

And then a lovely man opened the gate for me and we drove forth into Canada. EZ!

Nick had booked a room with a spectacular view.
Right? We were astounded and delighted.
Our room had a better view than we managed anywhere else. Also, they light the falls different colors at night.

And then! Then Toronto! Oh my gosh, Toronto is incredible!

We headed straight for Sophie and Sean's house. Sophie had organized for us to stay the house of one of her friends who was away for the week. So we were super comfortable in a truly lovely nearby  house.

Sophie, one of my dear Delhi high school friends, immediately poured us wine in cups from her childhood days in Pakistan. Sean grilled. Our children began playing with each other.
It is as I have long believed: Canada is a magical land.

They taught us how to ride the streetcar. Toronto has amazing public transportation.
We went out for dim sum. The kids tried everything. Everything!

We went downtown. We hung out at the Toronto sign. We shopped.
We took the kids to the local park, which has a wonderful playground with a splash park, a skating rink, and a pool. And a farmer's market on Wednesdays!

We went to the Don Valley, which houses an old brick factory. It's a gorgeous, giant park right in the middle of a huge city.
One night our high school friend Jon and his lovely wife Christine invited us over for a cookout. They built their house to back up to their best friends' house. Between them they have two yards, a trampoline, and a heated pool.

Also! We had ice cream with maple sugar. Which is what I imagine pixie dust tastes like.
My kids never wanted to leave. According to my children, Oakville, suburb of Toronto, is the best place in Canada.
This is how you cross the street in Toronto. You push the crossing button and you point. All the way across. I am not kidding.
Taught me how to walk this way...
Sophie's neighborhood has everything. My friend Rob, who you may remember from my NYC Overnight walk, came down and joined us for a delicious dosa dinner.

One night we walked over to a local brewery. While we were there a new brewery opened up across the alley from Sophie and Sean. Our last night, we tried poutine.Yum!

Sophie and her family were the most extraordinary hosts. Toronto is an incredible city. We all loved it. I could spend so much more time there. And now I know how to drive there and back.

So maybe we will.

Monday, January 22, 2018

A whole lot of things all at once but mostly the quiet juggley inside your head kind

Oh, and I like to do a little protesting as well
I've been doing a self-paced online parenting class, and watching parenting videos, and reading parenting articles. (Honestly, I'm trying to be a better parent than I've been. A really good, loving parent, who doesn't lose her shit.)

And I'm in a six-week online writing group focused on using time effectively, and how to create writing space in a busy day, and fashion a writing life for yourself. (Here sometimes I'm like, do you actually need to write your story? Maybe you should stop and  just live your fucking life. Although I'm not quite sure what that means, as I don't know how not to write.)

I parent daily, hourly, minutely (hey--I just realized! minute+ly! minutely!), with varying degrees of skill and success. And I try to write almost daily, although I haven't been writing here.

Both of the activities I mentioned meet in Facebook groups.

Actually, I'm in another Facebook group, a workout one, where we post daily status updates on our workouts. Or our boobs. Peri-menopause symptoms. New jobs, injuries, disappointments. Life. But my friend Wendy started it originally as a workout progress group.

You know, I think my blog used to be kind of my own personal life progress group. I used to write here daily. But I also used to feel like interesting things used to happen to me daily.

Now I feel like there isn't enough compelling stuff to write about, and I worry that everything funny or interesting that was ever going to happen to me has already happened. That's a grim thought, isn't it?

But I do also wonder if the issue is more that so much life happens all the time, and I don't necessarily have time or energy to tease out the interesting bits.

Oh, because have I told you that it doesn't matter how long I sleep, I never wake up refreshed? This has been going on for years now.

About two months ago Nick left me to sleep until I stopped sleeping. Which was noon. I'd slept for about 13 hours.

So in December I went to a functional medicine doctor, which is the term for an MD who looks beyond Western medicine and incorporates herbs, acupuncture, etc into her treatment plan.

This doctor took my blood, had me do a test where I had to fill a tube of saliva at specific times during a day, freeze them, and ship them off to a lap. I also had to give five days of stool samples. I'd done this plenty in my youth, but this whole process has gotten a lot more particular and hygienic since then. You mail those little suckers off as well.

In any case, I did all this and as it turns out there are a variety of biological reasons that I have absolutely no energy and haven't since I got pregnant with Jordan. Seriously, she asked when the last time I remember not being tired was, and my best guess was nine years ago.

It's always nice to have someone tell you that how you're feeling is valid, you know? It's even nicer when that person follows it with, "And I can help you feel better."

It felt like when I first seeing a therapist. I was in such a low place that just knowing that someone was going to help me gave me this overwhelming feeling of relief.

So now I keep asking Nick if I seem any different than I did last week. Last night when I asked he said yes, and then when I asked how he said, "Actually, I just said yes to encourage you. I don't think you're any different."

But I actually think my brain is less cloudy when I wake up in the morning.

For a long time, I'd wake up and I'd shake my head in the same way I shake my phone when it's moving slowly even though I do understand this is a pointless gesture. I know it won't help, but when my phone screen is spinning, I shake it side to side to hurry it up.

I often feel that same impatience with myself, honestly.

It takes me a while to get my bearings, and feels like surfacing from a very deep water swim. I can see the light and the air, it just takes effort and time to get to the surface and be in the present.

It has only been a week but I do think this is improving. I don't think it's my imagination, though I am totally suggestible. If you tell me that some wine has hints of tobacco and forest leaves, I will definitely taste them. I suppose this is why I could be semi-hypnotized all those years ago.

Anyway, I wouldn't say this essay has a point except to say that like everyone, I am juggling all these pieces but most of them are internal.

So it's not like I'm some important CEO and my helicopter picks me up at 7:00 am and I have a day packed with meetings and important decisions and whatever. I mean, we all know this.

Mainly I have all these small, quiet issues and projects that need my attention. I mean, I am one of my ongoing projects at this point. And then I also have these large and growing, loud things I like to call my children who need more of my attention.

And I'm trying to be present, and interested, and praise them for their effort and not for just being smart. And to give them special time. And to connect with them by walking to the room and looking in their eyes at their level and putting my hand on their shoulder, thus upping the likelihood of cooperation.

And when I do this and my daughter, who is five, rolls her eyes and says, "I don't want to. I'm not going to," it makes my head completely fucking melt.

Last night I yelled, and I yelled loudly.

I still feel bad about this. This is not the parent I want to be.

What I suppose I am saying is that I am not fully the person I want to be, but I am trying. I am working at it one little bit at a time.

And so far I haven't posted, "I did my 15 minutes of writing!" in the parenting class, and I haven't told the writing group that I yelled at my kid. (I also haven't told my workout group that I haven't worked out, and it just may not happen today.)

It's Monday, and I'm doing my best. I like to believe we all are, though that thought has been sorely tested of late.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tell me something good

A friend asked on FB this morning for people to tell her something good that had happened to them this year.

I love this. Tell me something good that happened to you in 2017.

In truth, 2017 felt calamitous in many ways. The news was relentlessly dark and exhausting. Conversations in DC are always political, and this year all the more so. I went to my dermatologist for my annual skin check and asked how he was, and he said, "Fine, thanks. I mean, considering."

That's how many conversations started this year. It felt inescapable.

But recently I read an article about gratefulness which said that basically, just thinking about what you are grateful for, even if you can't come up with anything, changes your brain for the better. Now at dinner we go around the table and say something we are grateful for.

I will say that one of the positive things about having 2009 be the absolute worst year of my life is that my benchmark for most terrible is very high.

But let me not bullshit you about being all zen and grateful because we all know I fret a whole lot and get sucked into depressive vortexes and the like.

Mostly I'm saying I try to be grateful, because it is a better way to life. I was delighted to learn that because of cell turnover, every seven years all of the cells in our bodies are new.  I think it was seven. In any case, you aren't exactly who you were, and you are constantly changing.

Kind of like Heraclitus and the moving river. I like this idea.

This was a pretty sporadic blogging year, and I'd love to tell you it's because I was working on my book, but it wasn't. It was just because of life, anxiety, depressive vortexes, the moving river, and more life.

We had some calamities--mainly my mom's cancer scare, and her being hospitalized thrice in the summer for anemia.

But we had some good, beautifully good things, for which I am extremely grateful.

In January Betty, the kids, my friend Leigh and I went to Cartagena, Colombia. This is possibly the best piece of 2017 for me. We rented a great house, and Cartagena is a magical place. All of us loved it. The kids ask when we can go back.

These are memories I will cherish forever, and such a gift.

We also attended some protests in January and February. (We missed the Women's March, as we were flying back that day, the trip having been planned and tickets bought well before the election.)

In April we lost our friend John. In May we lost our dear friend Pat. Both of these people I had known my entire life, and Pat was another mother to me. These continue to be tremendously hard losses.

In June I walked with my dear friend Laurie and Team SOLOS in my fourth Out of the Darkness Overnight walk.

As I am listing them this way, I realize it really was a year with big events and travel

In July the kids and I joined Wendy and her family in the Outer Banks. They invited us for the second year in a row, and kindly included us as family.

Beyond that, my kids call Wendy's mom and dad "Mimi" and "Papa," which is what Josie and Zeke call them. My kids don't have a grandfather, and her parents are so loving; I am extra grateful that my children get to have these grandparent relationships with them.

The end of July, I had the good fortune to visit Seattle for the first time, to a Peace Corps reunion at our friends' house on Whidbey Island. In blogworld and real world convergence, my Internet friend Laura picked me up at the airport, and we spent the day in Seattle together, before she dropped me at the ferry.

I got to see friends I saw at Rhonda's birthday in Austin, and others I hadn't seen in decades. I am so very grateful to have these people again in my life.

It was a quick three-day trip, and then I was home for a few days before loading up the car and driving to Toronto. I have an unfinished blog post on this adventure and I plan to post in the new year. We visited Sophie and Sean and their family; it was an extraordinary week.

We got home in time for my birthday, which was the same day as Australian Builder Kim's memorial service. (We realized at Christmas dinner that it was Kim's birthday, and we put candles on the cake and sang Happy Birthday to him.)

Just days after returning from Toronto, Betty went into the hospital for the second time for severe anemia. I had tremendous guilt, having dragged her all over creation or anyway multiple states and a bit of two countries.

And then, then we went to Family Camp in Maine.

This fall I went with great trepidation to a reunion of my Kappa sisters in Chapel Hill. And I left with a heart so full of amazing reconnections. It was a fun time, and for me, it was healing.

We gathered because two of our sisters have passed away, and Melanie, the amazing organizer, took the lead on getting us all together before too much more time passed.

We all took a photo in front of the house, and signed mattings to give to the famlies of the two women who died. I delivered one of the photos, and the parents weren't home when I stopped by, so I left a note with my number.

The mom called to tell me how grateful she was that we had gathered in memory of her daughter. She asked about her daughter's friends. We talked for a while, and she asked if I'd get in touch when we are out that way again. I said it would be my pleasure, and in truth, it would.

I didn't go to the reunion looking for that kind of connection, but I lucked into it nonetheless.

So I suppose that 2017 was not the kind of year that I might have anticipated, but it taught me a lot about myself and the world, and brought me a surprising number of gifts.

I'm thankful for all of them.

I wish you all a beautiful, bountiful, love filled 2018. I am grateful for you.

Happy New Year.