Thursday, April 30, 2015

Comfortsandalquest 2015

This is just ridiculously frivolous, and I understand that. I do have some guilt over my topic preferences.

But I'd still like to talk about shoes.

I need some comfortable sandals. This is not something I ever thought I would say.

See, I had that boot for a while, and while technically I can go back to exercise and normal footwear, I am still walking around in sneaks because otherwise my foot gets tender.

I cannot wear my sneaks with sundresses. And god willing, it is going to get toasty warm soon, and then hopefully hot as balls shortly thereafter. One of these days, I will be able to wear sundresses. I signed up to live in a swamp. I am WAITING for heat and humidity here.

Yesterday it got quite warm, but I was still wearing a long sleeved shirt. This winter was a bad boyfriend. I have no trust.

What I'm asayin' is, I need sandals. I believe it is time for comfort footwear.

They need to be very comfortable for walking, and preferably cute. But they could even be ugly in an ugly-cute kind of way.

I splurged and ordered this pair, which I thought were ugly-cute adorable and looked ridiculously comfortble because you could adjust three different straps.
They arrived yesterday and I tried them on and asked Nick what he thought and he didn't like the white bottoms. But I told him those were in, and those weren't what bothered me, so he said they didn't look any sillier than some of my other shoes. And also, by the way, he thinks skinny jeans are dumb.


India, as pictured above, is no help. We went to Nordstrom Rack and I kept telling her we were looking for comfortable sandals. I found myself trying things on and being all, but they're not comfortable. For the first time in my purchasing life, I felt like Maude.

We used to go out shopping and I'd try on whatever looked fabulous, and she'd be all, "But are they comfortable? They are not comfortable."

And I'd be all, "I understand your words, but what do you mean?" And then buy them and mince around in them all happy.

Those days, it seems, are gone.

There I was in the shoe section, rejecting perfectly lovely shoes because they weren't comfortable. This makes me feel older than my forehead wrinkles, I will tell you.

India, my dear love, kept pulling out the highest, pointiest, strappiest shoes and saying, "Try this one! These are comshterble, Mama!"

Oh, younger me, how I love you.

I want shoes that feel like putting my feet into, I don't know, a basket of puppies. I don't need my feet licked, and the shoes don't need to be furry or wiggle adorably. But I want them to feel like soft happy puppy magic.

My super-adjusty sandals are absolutely not the puppy magic of my dreams, and as such are not the answer.

Do any of you wear comfortable shoes? That you'd recommend?

In my fantasy world, they have a platform but no heel, because, well, they just do. (But in my fantasy world I'm also 5'8" and know how to do a smoky eye and regularly wear a tiara and/or veil and/or thigh-high boots, so there's that.) But they really do have to have a comfy footbed. And soft straps that adjust.

I think those are my requirements.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.

Sometimes I forget that my dad laughed a lot. I forget that he had a terrific sense of humor.

I remember watching the British Office with him. We both laughed until we weren't making any sound, until tears were rolling down our faces.

How often do we laugh like that? So rarely do I.

After my dad died, an old friend wrote that he remembered my dad's laugh, that he had a great laugh. I really appreciated him saying that.

Coming up on six years since his death, I've realized I've forgotten lots of things in my effort to gain some emotional distance, to not be so shattered. I understand that the forgetting, or anyway, diminishing in vividness, is helpful, part of time healing all wounds and such.

He hadn't had much of a sparkle, much of his humor, for a while before he died. But for a long time, he was hilarious.

I want to remember that he was funny.

My dad used to say shocking things and leave them hanging. He had a high tolerance for awkwardness, perhaps even an enjoyment of it. It was likely impossible to out-outrageous him; I never saw anyone try. Although in retrospect, why would you?

It's not a contest for normal people, I don't think. Whatever normal might be.

As it turns out, I inherited this ability/character flaw/behavior trait from him. I can't remember who pointed this out. Was it Maude? Probably.

I remember that I used to do this at parties, sometimes for attention. Sometimes if I was bored. Sometimes just to shut down a conversation.

Saying the extreme thing, I now understand, puts the other person off balance. Throwing people off balance is probably what my dad liked about it. And he was a performer. Am I a performer? I don't know.

It's not always deliberate, however. Sometimes it's more that things fall out of my mouth that don't fall out of other people's mouths, because they know how to keep them shut. Which is odd, because I learned in therapy that I can sit with awkward silence for quite some time.

Since I am able to sit silently despite the expectation of talking, you'd think I'd have the ability to just not say the weird thing and leave it awkwardly and silently flapping around in my brain. But no.

There are people who chit-chat when they get nervous, or if there is tension and a conversational void. And oddly enough, I can wait it out. 

But then in therapy I'd remember that I was paying cash money to this person to help me sort out my shit, and waiting her out was counterproductive. Right?

The other day when I was complaining about the weather Nick said, "You know, April IS the cruelest month."

And I said, "My dad used to attempt suicide in April. So yah, tell me about it."

"Used to" is unfair. Twice isn't a used to. But it's still twice. And they were really bad ones. Not that there are good ones. But there are more and less terrible attempts, and these were on the very terrible end of the spectrum.

But that's not actually what this was meant to be about. Or maybe it sort of is?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Your true colors are beautiful like a rainbow

I didn't realize, until I had kids of my own, how scared I'd be of them getting hurt.

My rule for trees is that I won't help you. If you're big enough to climb it on your own, you can climb it. Yes, I make them hold the railing when they go down the stairs, and I'm vigilant about corners and when we cross streets.

But I try to give them room to test limits. Within non-deathy reason.

More than the physical, though, I've learned I'm so afraid of my boy having his feelings hurt.

And it's not like I can keep him from it, can I?

Not long ago Jordan told Nick, who had on a pink button-down shirt, that he was wearing a girl shirt. We said that actually, there are no boy or girl colors. But this is new for him, this "pink is for girls, blue is for boys" idea. My boy loves pink, but he's falling in line with what he hears from his peers.

So, about a week ago I painted my toenails blue. My kids, who don't miss anything, looked at my hands and said, "You colored your toenails!" They wanted color.

I hadn't painted my fingernails because I typically don't sit still long enough for them to dry nicely, and even if I do, I ruin them immediately. And also, if I'm being honest, I was afraid that then Jordan would want his nails painted.

When he was younger we'd painted his toenails, and some other little kids saw him barefoot on the soccer field and asked. But didn't tease. Just asked. But now he's older, and kids seem to be more unkind.

Does our capacity for meanness increase as we age? I think it must.

Both kids clamored for color. India wanted pink on one foot, orange on another, pink on one hand, blue on another. Jordan wanted blue on all nails. Feet and hands. (Blue is for boys, after all.) I painted India's first, then started with Jordan's toes.

Before I painted his fingernails I said, "Kids might tease you about this. They might say that only girls paint their nails."


"Because usually only girls paint their nails. And so I worry you will get teased, like how some kids say that boys shouldn't wear pink."

"OK, Mama."

"You still want me to paint them?"


"What will you say to kids who say something to you?"

"I'll tell them...What should I tell them, Mama?"

"Well, you could tell them that you don't care if usually only girls do it. That you're not trying to be the same as everyone else. I mean, do you want to be the same as everyone else? I don't!"

(Oh, how I used to try to be the same as everyone else! I regret the tremendous waste of time.)

But I was worried. What if he got teased so much he cried?

When I picked him up after school, he was in a great mood. He'd had a good day. We were malingering in the sun out front, and he was playing chase with a couple classmates, one girl said, "Is he a boy or a girl?"

I said, "He's a boy."

"Then why does he paint his nails?"

"Because he likes color. He loves that blue."

That was pretty much where it ended.

On the way home I asked if anyone said anything about his nails, and he said one boy teased him, and he told him he wasn't trying to be just like everyone else.

So he handled it, and that seems to have been that.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

India, you're my love song

Dear India,

Today you are three! Happy birthday, my love!

We had your birthday party yesterday, and you wore your new "Queen of Elsa" dress, and there was just so much joy.
Yesterday evening you were wearing your "two" shirt and eating a hot dog, and air was warm and the  light lovely and it struck me that you would never be two again. I was suddenly and profoundly sad.
Yesterday you were two, and now you are three. It's not like there's any real difference, one day to the next, but you put enough days together...

I wouldn't keep you two forever, although I myself would be overjoyed to stop aging. But it was such a stark reminder of the inexorable forward motion of time. So often I am too caught up in the day-to-day to notice, and then suddenly I'm all, mais où sont les neiges d'antan!

Today in the sandbox you announced to a stranger who was watching his child that now you are three. And you held up three fingers.

A mom sitting near me said, "Oh! My son just turned three as well! You're both three!"

And you looked at the boy and looked back at her and very casually said, "Is he a tiny three? I'm a big three."

You are so bold. I hope as you age you learn to filter but never lose your boldness. You believe that the world is an open place, and you charge without hesitation into its embrace.

I fervently hope that you keep this strong sense of self.

You still love talking about your gagina, although you do know that the outside is called your vulva, and you say so solemnly. For the time being you've stopped bellowing about it in public, and I do appreciate this.

Oh, you love to cuddle! And if I'm facing the other direction when you crawl in my bed, I'll be given a directive. "Cuddle!" You like to take off all your clothes and then say, "I'm coldy! Pick me up!" And you hold so tight around my neck. Sometimes this is charming and sometimes incredibly inconvenient. Or both.

You generally have nice manners and have started thanking us effusively for meals, clothing, taking you to the park. It's just so sweet.

And even when you are angry, if you're offered something you will clench your teeth and growl, "NO THANK YOU, NANA!"

In stark contrast to your brother, you love brushing your teeth, and you've started asking to floss. This, while I'm still pretty much prying Jordan's mouth open to shove the toothbrush in.

This is not to say that you're never a wretched little beast, because you sometimes are.

Not to dwell on your beastliness, but bedtime often leaves me feeling hostile and battered. But then the nights you are sweet are just so delightful, and I push my nose into your hair and nuzzle the back of your neck and wish those times would stretch forever.

You know how to traumatize your brother, who is not as emotionally sophisticated as you. He's a lot kinder to you than you are to him.

The other day he came to me sobbing and when I asked what was wrong he wailed, "I told India that she's not the boss of me! And she said she is! She said she's in charge!"

I had to say, "Jordan, she's two. She is not in charge."

Although now that you're three, you might soon be.

Have mercy.

I love you love you love you.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Well, then. I'll just stick to refrigeration.

Enjoying the nature.
It is spring break, and as the kids are too young for Daytona Beach and plus I still have regrets about getting talked into going there my freshman year of college, we went to visit Leigh on her farm in Western Maryland for a few days.

We drove for approximately 87 hours, although if you don't have children then it only takes about three.

The Lego movie got us through part of the trip, but then it ended and then they began fighting over the iPad. We played I Spy for a while, although India is a little young for it.

"I spy with my little eye a truck! Right there!"

Then we listened to Taylor Swift, which typically engenders good feelings and cooperation. Jordan is now completely over Frozen, and doesn't even remember that he used to sing along.

"NOT Frozen! It's so Bow-wing!" (Suddenly everything is so boring. And he's five. He's never done Internet dating. He has no idea how bored he might be.)

And then, then...

"Are we there yet?"


"Now are we there?"

"Getting closer."

"Are we there, Mama?"

(Clenched teeth, trying not to stab myself in the ears with the nearest sharp object.) "So close!"

Yes. And I'm the person who, until Nick pointed out the practicalities and also sheer insanity, thought it might be fun to drive my mom and kids to Texas. Texas!

I think I'm a smart person and yet I come up with some less than stellar ideas.

So anyway, finally, we were there! There was more grass than my daughter had ever seen in one place! And BIG ROCKS! And a pond! Magical!

I called Leigh to tell her we'd arrived, and said I had a bunch of things I needed to get into the fridge.

(On a side bar, you cannot buy wine or beer in a grocery store in Maryland. You have to go to a liquor store. Who knew?)

She gave me the door code and said, "Sounds great. But you don't have anything to freeze, do you?"

I said I didn't think so, that we only had stuff for the fridge.

"Good. Don't open the freezer."


"My cat's in there."


"See you shortly!"

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Turns out

In high school, my dear friend Kristin used to say, "Life would be so much better if people just did what I wanted."

I would always agree; it totally would. Wouldn't it?

Which brings me to Marriage. Specifically, ours, now. Because high school was back when I believed that you got married and then you lived in a state of happiness. The end.

We currently have plans to do something I want to do. Something we agreed on last summer after a stint in the marital Fire Swamp.

Marriage, or anyway ours, is never even. You don't have the same amount of anything--love, happiness, chore doing, child rearing--ever. Sometimes it is 80-20, sometimes 52-48, sometimes 17-83. It sloshes back and forth and I believe that things generally come out even, even if they never are on a daily or weekly or monthly basis.

(And here let me tell you that I had to do math for that. Because I am the person who once asked for a 60-30 beverage mix.)

Sometimes we do what Nick wants, sometimes what I want, sometimes what neither of us wants, but we know that the kids will be delighted. And we agree that delighting our kids is a worthwhile goal. Occasionally but rarely we all want the same thing.

I mean, we want harmony and happiness. (We being Nick and me. The kids want candy all the time.) We want a strong family. Those are common goals. But what we actually want to do when we have time to choose? Those are rarely the same.

So back to the issue at hand.

We are at a decision-making point in the doing of what Lisa wants. And yesterday Nick felt blindsided because I was, seemingly out of the blue, trying to force him to make a quick decision.

But the fact is that none of it was out of the blue for me. I just hadn't involved him up to that point  because I know he's not interested.

He was mad and I was mad. Ragingly so.

And finally he said, "Stop. Yes, I'm doing this for you. And I don't understand why I'm being yelled at. You said this was important to you and I said yes, and now we're doing it. So why are you punishing me for doing what you wanted?"

Fair point.

So I had to look inside and realize that actually, I'm annoyed that it's not what he wants to do. If we get there and he doesn't like it, it's on me. And it is a reminder that one of us will always be doing what we wouldn't choose, no matter how nice it might be.

It is true that I can't make him want what I want. People just don't work that way. He'd love it if I loved sailing, for example. Or wanted to go to Maine every summer.

These are luxuries. They are nice things. A trip to Maine is lovely, truly. But it is not my desire; it is his.

Preferences are all pieces of who we are. And when we reach a point where we can do or have things that most of the time are out of reach, they feel a lot more urgent.

To me, anyway.

And so, yes. He's doing what I want. And he's not complaining. I've done a lot of what he wants. Sometimes it's been terrific. Sometimes not. Sometimes I've complained and sometimes I've not complained. And still I think he knew I was going along with what he wanted.

So maybe he felt the same way I feel now. I don't know.

Marriage is complicated, is I guess what I'm saying once again. You choose your person for a reason, or 54 great reasons, but that doesn't mean they're going to want to do what you want. And when they do, it doesn't necessarily make your life better.

Basically, you don't just live in a state of happiness because you're married.

Who knew in high school?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Please can we talk Peaky Blinders?

Have you watched Peaky Blinders? No? Then I would like you to do something, and it is this.

I want you to get past the fact that Peaky Blinders is an odd and off-putting name and go watch it.

Because it is fantastic. So incredibly compelling. Much better than House of Cards, truly. And there are only two seasons (so far). And they are short, like eight episodes each.

Damn the BBC and their high-quality short-seasoned programming!

Netflix bought it from the BBC rather than re-making it. So it is English with some hard-to-understand accents. Nick's mom is from Yorkshire so I sometimes ask him to interpret. Sometimes we have to go back. Sometimes he makes his best guess. Sometimes he just shrugs.

Through it all, he refuses to use subtitles. One day I will actually learn how to use the new and many-buttoned remote and then I will do subtitles myself.

OK, so here's the deal.

The Peaky Blinders, silly as their name may be, are a criminal gang. Tommy Shelby is the main character. He and his cohort fought in France in WWI. They've been through terrible things. Tommy is regularly faced with death, he calmly stares it down. And then has a whiskey.

He's like a 1919 British criminal version of Don Draper.

It's set in Birmingham, England, starting in 1919. Same time period as Downton! But a lifetime away in terms of social strata.

And if Sybil had met Tommy Shelby, she'd have loved him. (But who wouldn't? That boldness! Those eyes!) And THAT would've been a big, big problem for Lord Grantham. Much bigger than Branson the chauffeur. But I digress.

There is a lot of violence. I do have to cover my eyes quite a bit.

But it is so deliciously good. Please watch it and then come back so we can talk it.