Thursday, January 27, 2011

whose clothes are these?

some man has broken into my house and left his clothes in the basement to be washed and folded.

the clothes keep coming back and it's always the same duds. the intruder doesn't damage the house or make a mess. but he does steal.

he has stolen time from me. a theft so insidious that it leaves me in a shapeless sighing heap wondering: "where has it all gone?"

my oldest son is now almost 13 and wears size 14 pants and adult small t-shirts. his socks could be mine; his underwear is not 3T anymore. he is the culprit who leaves his clothes. this is the same round-headed kid with the cherry lips and enormous, knowing eyes that graced this aching world and changed my life in the spring of 1998.

he is the one who made me care about China. the country, not the serveware.

while building a lego batman car the other day, he asked me about sex. this inquiry came on the heels of the "family life education" classes they're teaching in school so i was ready for it.

i didn't bristle and stammer. i sighed.

he looked at me and asked, "why are you sighing? i can ask dad - is this difficult for you?"

i vigorously shook my head "no."

i feebly explained said, "it's not difficult to talk about, that's not the issue for me; it's that you're ... well ... you're asking about it  instead of me assaulting you with it."

his big eyes looked up from the batman-car to let me continue, "you're not building a garrison to protect yourself from an endless barrage of unsolicited Hallmark-card-esque advice like i did against the awkward moments about 'love' and 'special' and 'meaningfulness' and 'respect.'"

he nodded.

i added, "you're not running and hiding  from this conversation like i did when my mother literally couldn't wait  to hold a summit to talk to me about it. so, what is it? what do you want to know?" i said, brightening and sweeping the hair from my eyes.

he wanted to know about STDs. i was so grateful for his appropriateness and yet not surprised. it's not that i don't want to talk about the Hallmark moments, it's just that i want to match his approach. no sense wearing designer taffeta to a bar-b-que picnic.... but the grown-up in me reminds me to be careful to not mistake his quiet accord with comprehension.

he sat patiently while i explained things to him like transmission of the diseases and answered his queries betwixt the sweet gifts that betray his sophistication and advancement: "look at this -- when i turn the steering wheel, this bat-shield comes up..." and then lightning bolts of reality that belie my ease, "so condoms can really protect people..." to which i emphatically and silently nodded my head, gripping the carpet to suppress the relentless wave of vertigo and welling of tears in my eyes.

when his younger brother, now 10 who seems ready to open a combo teen social club, fashion revue and recording studio walked into the playroom, my older son said, "stop. not now" and then quoted my favorite not in front of the kids phrase, "little rabbits have big ears."

i blinked almost territorially and did one of those Looney Toon head-shaking/clarifying speed shakes without the sound effects; thinking about him and almost sneering at him with suspicion, "who invited you to the grown-up conversation?"

a year ago, he was mystified by the "mechanics of sex" as he put it. in recalling, his questions seem beautifully detached, just interested in the engineering. he noticed girls. sort of. now it's a little more frequent, this sort-of noticing of girls.

"how? i mean, really? how does that happen? how does it work?" he asked, with profound disbelief. he didn't laugh about it or squirm like some kids could, he just didn't understand. he said, "well, if that's how it works and that's how we all got here, i guess i'll just have to figure it out."

that discussion i decided to opt out of -- i asked if i could leave that for his father - i said, "i don't have one; well, what you have. i don't... i'm a girl. i can explain to you the biology of it all, but if you'd be able to wait for dad to handle this, i would be most grateful."

he assented and said, "i don't have anything going on, i'll wait for dad."

i stifled a smirk and sniffed, "k. thanks; i'll go get the mail."

so again, i'm waiting for the grown-up. the one who's gonna come into the room and say, "it's ok; you can go back to doodling or pretending to make dinner." 

thank you. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

still waiting for the grown-ups to step in

sometimes, in those rare moments when i get a chance to actually SURVEY MY DOMINION, i.e., when i'm not vacuuming myriad lego pieces or fishing unidentifiable masses from the dispos-all, i'm amazed by how much has actually happened in my life.

i'm, like, not a kid anymore.

well, where the hell was i when that  went down?!

i was signing PTA checks tonight. and i thought, i should probably initial by the memo line to show (myself) that i'm paying attention... that i'm not actually doing this on someone else's behalf. that i'm the main one: the prez.

and so it reminded me of that feeling i had when i first said yes almost 17 years ago to my wonderful not-yet husband when he asked me to marry him. i was looking around... "now what? where are the grown-ups who are coming to tell me this is really an OK idea?"

no one showed up, so we went along.

months later:

"do you?" "i do."

"do you?" "i do."

"then i..." >kiss.<

airplane: honeymoon...

close the blinds.

a few months later, we bought our house.

it still blows my mind: we. bought. a. house.

when we signed the papers and initialed all the documents (sorta like what i experienced a moment ago with the PTA checks) i remember as if it were today thinking, "surely, someone with common sense, decency and authority is gonna blaze in this here office and snatch this pen out of my God-lovin' hands because i have no  bidness doin' this..."

nope. no one stopped me. the grown-ups in the office not only let us keep signing away, but when we were done: they slid a pair of keys across the table to us. real metal keys - not like a giant KEY TO THE CITY key that everyone knows is a fake. no doors are that big. and if there are some, i don't want to open them. someone might grind my bones to make his bread.

actual keys to the lock on the door of the house. one for him. one for me. they were just like the keys that i had on my keyring at my house that i lived in when i ... lived   with    my    parents....

hey. wait a min-nit. and the grown-ups in the room where we signed the papers all smiled their cheshire cats grins and said, "Congratulations!! Thank you! Well, let's go!"

They picked up their papers and faded like that feline while leaving us our own  22-lb batch of signed legal-size recyclable white paper. i felt like lily tomlin's "Edith Ann" when she sat in that huge rocker.

and so it went.

i looked at him: "ok."

he looked at me: "ok."

we left the office.

we hopped in our cars, drove to the house, walked up the steps and tried the key.

the key worked. the door swung open and we stepped in the house. it was lovely, light, airy, brand-new and supposedly ours. complete with a stove, a sink, running water, 3.5 baths, a dishwasher and an ice-makin' 'fridge and our first dispos-all in the kitchen. and a washer & dryer in the basement.

i looked around, caught my breath, thought. waited and almost hoped: "when are the grown-ups gonna get here and tell us to get out?"

no one showed. not for 6 more years. no one showed when we turned up the music. brought in a dog. dug up the yard. brought in a baby. had parties. (well, people showed up to the parties... c'mon, we weren't losers). 

but no grown-ups showed up asking us where we got the baby, if we had papers for him, or who demanded we  leave and give them back their home. i wouldn't have blamed them if they did. i mean, i was still, what? 14?

and so here i am with the same guy but in another house, 1o years later, 2 more kids, 1 more dog, 2 cats, countless fish,  2 SUVs, 2 stoves, 2 sedans, 3 dishwashers, 3 sports cars, 3 microwave ovens, 1 (gone) minivan and dozens of Buzz Lightyears later... and i'm still waiting for the grown-ups to step in and tell me to leave.

surely this can't really be my life. i'm a stand-in or an understudy for someone completely fabulous who has their shit together.

i don't feel any older. and now i go to restaurants or movies with the same guy and these kids i live with.  i look around, waiting for a grown-up to sit down. i hear a grown up say at our table, "take out your napkin." and "please, keep it down." and "that was his first." and "so, how was your day?" and those kids i live with all look up and begin to answer me.

thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snifter of Vicious Cycle, anyone?

I considered writing about my children’s bat-man car or something witty but I couldn’t shake the idea to write about relating to the world and self-concept. Sometimes ya just gotta go with the plan, even if it's not yours.

How we relate to the world and our appreciation of our self-concept can make or break our enjoyment of our lives and the lives of those around us – anyone, not just those we love.

Because I am so self-absorbed (really, I have to be to write a blog or a book) I was thinking about my own childhood and how I often would relate to moods. Unlike Jasper in Twilight (egad, yes, I read those stories – but, uh, that was so last decade and they’re not on my Kindle, in fact, I never bought them – always borrowed them) I would absorb the mood rather than endeavor to change it. If the mood was happy, I would be happy; if the mood was tense, I would be tense. Seems logical, er, rational, er, reasonable. Right? RIGHT??

It occurred to me then, that this mood-absorption technique is possibly more profound in our so-called “adult” hoping-to-become-self-actualized selves. Imagine aspiring to be self-actualized and daring to not wonder if you are; that’s gotta be the ultimate “are we there yet?” Aaaggghhh…. Snifter of Vicious Cycle, anyone?  That eye twitch is back.

I have often remarked that I am just a big kid with a driver’s license and a voter registration card. I can be impulsive and spontaneous and reactive and defiant – just like any “captain a-hole” (a new name I have for my ’tween, he laughs hysterically when I say it, which means it’s working … so far) teenager. Am I stuck there? I like to think of it as a temporary visa. But I don’t like this visa, I don’t want to be the Captain of A-holeville. I want citizenship in Copacetic, U.S.A., nothing fancy… just a regular a-hole.

So I considered my appreciation of my world and my perception of it. I didn’t like the side-effects of this temporary visa: may cause occasional sensitivity, undue perceptions of feeling misunderstood, slight reactivity, intermittent vulnerability, may increase risk of telling people off and the boldfaced warning on the leaflet: Do not operate heavy conversations. It seems I am a candidate for an egoectomy. Honestly, no one thinks about us as much as we think they do. We only wish they did. Or do we?

I remember chatting with a friend who has a slew of fancy letters and periods after her name. We discussed that oftentimes, how we feel about ourselves directly mirrors how we project ourselves to the world and what we get back is 100% what we have coming to us. The universe makes no mistakes.   

So that got me thinking about something else I heard: that often what we love about or are repelled by in others is a mirror of characteristics in ourselves. If we love how someone makes us laugh until we pee our pants and cry, and have to grasp any nearby furniture just to prevent ourselves from collapsing in a heap of air-restricted rapture, that’s because we have given that gift to the world. (And really, it is a gift.) Conversely, if we have an experience with a person that leaves us bristled and agitated, feeling invisible, misunderstood, snarky and competitive, you can bet your bippy that’s similar to the energy or the part of ourselves that we present to the world – in that very exact instant. But instead of being grateful, as in the case of the everlasting laughter, we are ungrateful and snarly. So it continues. Until we stop.


There is nothing more vexing than feeling like you’re the most important person in the room only to be immediately and firmly educated that you’re the least important person in the room.

>Your needs aren’t more important than anyone else’s! Doink!<

I remember feeling invisible and unheard many times; some as recently as an hour ago! When I take a step back and think about what’s going on, I am often amazed to realize that I felt that way because I turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to that world. Am I awake now? Yeah. And if I’m lucky, I’m humbled (not humiliated – there is a vast difference) and primed for change.

When we’re having “one of those days” when nothing seems to go our way; it’s probably because we’re in our own way… if you want to change the way the world perceives you, change the way you perceive the world.

Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

taking my own advice.

hi - thanks for clicking my way. this is my debut. so excuse me while i take a sip of water before speaking. 

tonight on facebook i did something i rarely do. talk about myself -- in a way that uses my own words. often, i quote some amazing and inspiring saying; words seamlessly strung together, but profound nonetheless. other times i will discuss the weather or post about things i have experienced or make comments about i dunno, superficial stuff. 

but tonight (about 30 minutes ago actually), it was quite different: "i have determined that not doing something is worse than actually failing at it. so... i'm going to do it. (this is huge for me to actually state "publicly"): i'm going to start writing. i dunno what medium (book? blog?), i dunno what genre (fiction? musings?), i dunno what timing (now? 2099?). but well, evolution requires motion and not doing something is well, doing nothing. wish me luck. thanks." and in a matter of less than 30 seconds, two of my cousins "liked" my status. 

upon typing those words, i felt like i'd just stepped into the "cold room" (as my youngest son refers to the refrigerated vault at Costco) and had taken an exhilarated breath; like i'd just had a baby; or had my first kiss (from a boy i actually liked, not that guy my mom knew from her teen drama classes -- yes, parents actually paid for their teens to learn drama... but i digress). or like that moment when you first put on glasses. everything seemed Crys-Tal Cle-ar. like i'd made the right decision.

often, i give great advice (i've been told). i tell other people, "do it!" or "you can't win if you don't play!" or i quote (butcher) to my kids that great line from "The Dark Knight": "why do we fall down?" "so we learn to get up." but me? i'm full of reasons, or at least i was full of reasons to wait. not to fail... just to wait. and wait. and oh, wait. i'd rather clean out my car or basement freezer than actually do something that inspires taking a chance. i know the wrinkled blueberries in the freezer (or the car, third row, under the eco friendly shopping bags) need to go. that's an easy choice. 

but enough is enough. i can't hide from myself. i will rat myself out eventually. i'm terrible at secrets. privacy i'm good at. secrets - not so much. "look! there she is not writing!" i'll say to myself and then i'll say, "molly, what are you waiting for?" and i'll say, "better advice." ugh.  

who will read? me. probably my parents, because they're that cool about this stuff. i hope my cousins will. and some really great friends. and maybe they'll tell their friends and theirfriendswilltelltheirfriendsandoneofthosefriendswillknowapublisherandtheni'llbefamous! egad. i dunno if i'm ready for that. 

>sip. need more water. i really don't like to fly. book signing deals. i don't have a lawyer. can the Today Show do a remote from my home? sip.<

will i swear? perhaps. that's me. this is me. it's wildly ironic(?) that i'm doing this at all -- not because i shouldn't, but because i've been fighting doing it for years. it's part of my genetic denial program, or GDP. 

it really doesn't matter. because what does matter is that i'm doing it. and not doing anything to me is worse than doing nothing. as my dad said (i'll quote my parents a lot), "i don't care what you do, but you're not doing nothing." it seems i'm finally listening to his ...advice? or would that be more of a maxim? 

oh, about the title: "Grass Oil" - that's the name in homage to my youngest son. you know how lots of kids say things really cute when they're little -- like "miminee" for "lemonade" or "botty bots" for "monkey bars"? those two examples are actual things my first two sons said. but my youngest? he said those kinds of things too, but he took it to the next level and didn't stop. "Grass Oil" was a phrase he would use to describe how something i made for dinner tasted. it tasted like Grass Oil. simple. random. elegant. there it is. what was it that tasted like Grass Oil? hell if i know, but when the kid was three and he came up with stuff like that -- well, it just stands out. he's brilliant. the phrase has become synonymous around here for things that are unique, that stand out. to me "Grass Oil" doesn't mean "bad tasting." its use transcends meaning -- it just is. and no one else in the blogosphere had taken it. but it speaks to who i am -- a mom who can write and knows great phrasing when she hears it. 

so i'll write about all sorts of stuff. motherhood, my cleaning lady, observations and that deflated and overused word, "musings" which maybe i will refer to as "mewsings" or "moosings"; no sacred cows here. but i pledge to be eloquent, occasionally use proper Case and i'll always be grateful.   

i'm clicking "publish post" now... eeeeeeeeeeeeee!

thanks for reading. see? i'm grateful now.