Friday, June 21, 2013

Yeah, you probably don't need to go to your high school reunion.

Have you missed me?
I know, it's only been a week, but I bet you want to hear about my high school reunion...

I walked into the upper level mezzanine of the Delafield Brewhaus on Saturday night.  Tad held my hand all the way up the steps.  He knew that I felt I had to go to this event. And that part of me wanted to show him off, show myself off even...  And even though he just finished a hard last month of school. And even though he was exhausted. And even though the last thing he wanted to do was to go to my high school reunion, he went. And he held my hand walking in there.

Prior to the reunion I had dinner with some of my old friends.  And that was fun.  And then I went and picked up Tad and we went for a walk around my old neighborhood.  And we talked.  It was nice to talk--we've been unable to really connect lately just due to the end of school and all the everything going on.

So anyway, in we walk, holding hands, albeit a little bit disconnected...but we're there.  And when we walk in and put our name tags on....all the air rushes out of me.  I look around and I realize I do not want to be there.  And I panic.  I look around at the bar, the narrow room, the people--many of whom I only vaguely recognize, and it hits me.  This is one of those events where I'll have to say sort of surface level things about what I do and where I live. I'll have to introduce Tad to person after person.  I'll have to make small talk.  I hate doing those things--I am WAY too socially awkward for all of that.  So then I walk us right up to a group of people-a couple old friends and my ex boyfriend Jeff and his wife.  (Jeff and I dated for four years from senior year of high school through junior year of college and lived together)  Still holding Tad by the hand, I say, "Hello everyone.  This is Jeff."

Yep.  Jeff.  That's what I said.

Friend: Jeff? His name is Jeff too?

Me: (Stammering) No! No.  THIS is Tad.  And this, Tad, is Jeff, Erin and Gregg.

Holy balls.

Tad and I steal away and order a burger and talk about what the eff was that?!!!!

After a while, I mingle a little and go say hello to this guy, Joel, who was really nice to me in high school.
Me: Hi Joel!
Joel: (Looking at my name tag and then back at my face, pausing uncomfortably) I'm sorry.
Joel: I'm so sorry. I don't remember you. There were so many people.
Me: (Laughing) It's okay! I hate this reunion
Joel: (Laughs) Me too.  Keep drinking.  He holds up his glass.
I hold my water up to him, smile and walk away.

We managed to make it nearly two hours and then drove home in the rainy darkness, my mind whirling.

Saying Jeff instead of Tad was just my brain, panicking at all of the oldness of it and my anxiety.  Being back in that old high school mind frame and whatever, it was just what my brain threw out.  But what I realized was this: I went to my reunion, not because I really wanted to, but because I felt like I had to. Because I thought about the insecurity I had then and the not fitting in and the bullying and how much I hated it...and I thought coming back would help me prove myself.

But the universe decided to let me know loud and clear: I don't need to prove myself at all.  And in trying to do so, I was just as bad as the ghosts I was trying to prove myself to.  The people at that reunion were all in high school too.  Insecure, figuring it all out and and maybe not knowing where they fit in....some in higher social castes and on more organized sports teams than others, but still....

And it wasn't all bad.  My old friend Mandy, she showed me a picture of a drawing I'd done in study hall and we talked about about much fun we'd had being weird in the library, how we were bullied by the same person...  And Amy, told me about how much being at my house meant to her and being with my family... And Kate and I laughed about how we already know more than we need to about everyone there because of facebook....And Missy, well her spirit just reached out to me across the decades and she feels just the same as she always did as a kindred spirit.  And those experiences were nice, but I could have had those by reconnecting on my own...

So now I know. I don't need to go to any more reunions.  I didn't like high school.  I didn't need my high school reunion to remind me of that.  And thanks, Universe.  I will now remember that I am just one human among many with nothing to prove and a good life to go on living. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

My senior picture

Here is my senior picture with a quote by Shel Silverstein

Would you like to hear of the terrible night when I bravely fought the--

I thought that senior quote summed me up pretty well.

Tomorrow's the reunion!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

High School

Saturday is my twenty year high school reunion.

What?  How did that happen?

I can remember, like it was yesterday, walking up to Freshman orientation with my fluorescent green t-shirt and enormous earrings of (more fluorescent) pink, green and yellow, wearing one yellow sock and one pink sock.  And a pair of aqua Chuck Taylor's.  Yep.  Needless to say, I got a bully pretty fast.  But I made friends too, and I still wonder if the funny pictures my friend Mandy and I made of said bully and stuck inside a random book in the Arrowhead High School South Campus Library have ever been found by another (future) student.

I can also remember sitting in the lunchroom my sophomore year with my friend Amy (shown below) and other girls who were equally in love with the New Kids on the Block, talking about ways to get to their Alpine Valley Concert (which we did get to, thanks to Amy's mom) and writing about extensively in painstaking detail in my journal circa 1991.  I think Donnie looked at us! Uh. huh, Alie. Looked at you--out of thousands of screaming girls. Sure.

Me (on the right) Freshman year. With my friend Amy.
I can remember Junior year (which was my hardest) when I was still the girl with two different colored socks, but also an Anthrax-Attack of the Killer B's t-shirt, and a long hippie skirt, blowing bubbles in the hallway by my locker, wondering why it was so hard for me to connect with people. (Hmm, I wonder, strangely dressed girl blowing soap bubbles in the hallway...I wonder)  I was getting straight C's on my report card and spent all my social time with people two and three years younger than me.  And seeing a therapist.

I remember senior year.  I made friends with a group of kids over the summer who listened to punk rock music and were smart and I got my first real boyfriend and worked part-time at a hospital and did really well in my AP English Class and loved my teacher who quoted Nietzsche and taught us about Existentialism and used lyrics from Police songs to make points.  I went to Denny's at five in the morning with my friends and drank coffee and went to school afterwards so hyped up I sat on top of my desk.  And I remember making friends with our German foreign exchange student, Verena, and sitting with her on the shore of the lake where she was living and talking about kindred spirits and connection and how we happened to meet even though we were countries apart from each other and how that made my world explode and made me want to travel and meet people all over the world.

Verena and me at our senior party

But mostly I remember high school for the feeling of not being sure where I fit in and how to fit in and even if I really wanted to fit in at all.  I was painfully aware of the social hierarchy and how low down on it I was.  I loved movies like Pump up the Volume and Breakfast Club and watched them over and over again and walked around my neighborhood feeling brave and bright and wondering if I'd grow up to be the person I wanted to be.

So here we are, 2013.  And I did grow up to be the person I wanted to be.

And even though, admittedly I'm a little nervous...High School Reunion, here I come.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sometimes it is so much fun to be this immature.

I was getting some snacks ready for a youth meeting I held yesterday.  As I pulled out the microwave popcorn, I had an overwhelming desire to do this:

So I did. 

And it has been making me laugh for two days.

Butt lovers popcorn.

hee hee hee.

Monday, June 10, 2013


 Yesterday morning, after TV time Coen asked me what we were going to do that day.
"I was thinking about Pride Fest." I said.
"Pride Fest? Is that the one with the huge playground?"  Coen asked.
"Yeah, it's on the Summerfest grounds with the huge playground."
"YES!" He said jumping up. "Let's do THAT today!"
I rarely these days get this enthusiastic of a response from him so I was all about it.
We took our bikes in the minivan and parked at my office.   On the ride there, I explained what Pride Fest was about.  I explained mine and Tad's belief in marriage equality and that it's okay to be whoever you are.  But for Coen and Lucy, it's not really a groundbreaking conversation. It's been part of our conversation since they were born. Of course women can love women and men can love basically what Coen had to say.  But as we talked about civil rights and equality, Lucy said, "That's what Martin Lufer King did, right?"  I smiled back at my kids. 

With Coen behind me on his bike and Lucy in the trailer, we rode down to the festival.  After locking up our bikes in the parking area, we got in line to buy tickets.  Immediately a couple came over to us and offered their tickets for free. 
"Whoah!" I said. "This is the best day ever!"
"It's a good day." Lucy said, ever keeping it real, "But not the BEST."  
Coen and Lucy went happily off to the playground as soon as we got in the grounds.  Lucy got a balloon which was, as she called it, a heart on a handle.  We got ice cream cones. We walked around the info booths and got a free hug. (Well, Coen and I got a free hug. Lucy was not interested.)
After we bored of the playground, we went over to the parade route, meeting up with some of my friends.
Lucy, Coen and I sat on the street and watched the parade.
Lucy turned to me. "I didn't know it was going to be THIS much fun!"
They got lots of candy and other handouts (though I gave the condoms they caught to the guys standing behind us) and Lucy got a huge bouquet of paper flowers from a woman who didn't want them anymore. 
After the parade was over, we biked back to the van and headed home.  Once there, Lucy ran over to see our next door neighbor who asked where she'd been.
"Well..." I waited as Lucy launched into her explanation to listen, "It was like a fair but with lots of rainbows. And people talking about love."  She paused, "...And God."
Pretty right on, Lucy.


Friday, June 7, 2013

How a rather insane parental rant somehow led to a peaceful night.

It has been a loooong week.

I think the fact that my birthday was yesterday made the week take even longer to get to the end of it.

And I had a wonderful, wonderful birthday.  I brought treats to work (which I still love to do because I'm still in first grade in my heart) and then my parents took me out to lunch and shopping at re-threads which is my favorite store in the world.  And then Tad and the kids and I played soccer in the school gym until it was time to go out to dinner at Maharajah, which is where I like to go for dinner on my birthday.  The parking lot was nearly empty and I wondered where the four of us would sit as I opened the door.  We walked in and...
There sat my parents, my sister and family, and a collection of some of my very most dearest friends.  Tad arranged a surprise for me and I LOVE surprises. And the surprise was hanging out with a lot of people I love and I LOVE hanging around with a lot of people I love.  Plus he got me a light-up hula hoop.
It was a lovely dinner party and I had a tremendous time.  And I felt very lucky.

But throughout the course of this week, parenting has been hard.  I have felt impatient.  My elder child seems to be on the cusp of adolescence. In fact, the day before yesterday I said to him, "Do you know what tomorrow is?"
"What?" he said.
"My birthday!"
"Well, that doesn't really excite me."


So today when he was asked by a friend to accompany him to a baseball game tonight and I said "no." (Mostly because I was not asked by any adults and the adults who were taking the children -- who I never spoke to directly) I have never met before.  He was - to say the least - unhappy. 20 straight minutes of crying-unhappy.

And later when he asked to watch his usual Friday night movie, even though more than anything, I just wanted everyone upstairs reading or resting or doing anything that wasn't talking to me as soon as possible, I said yes.  Because I know he needs a little love time.  (He is having a hard time with the transition -or idea thereof-to fourth grade and the end of the school year).  He chose Return of the Jedi and I had him showered, both kids fed and Lucy in the bath by 6:00.  I was so excited about my success and I popped in the DVD for him to start while I bathed his sister.  I got it all ready to go.



The screen said that the device wasn't connected and sure enough things didn't look plugged in where they needed to be. And try and I might and plug as I plugged I couldn't get it to work.

I thought I was going to

Because it was suddenly 6:30 and he still wasn't watching anything. Because he was talking about looking around on Amazon and Netflix and Youtube for something and I didn't think I could bear another 30 minutes of him looking around for what to watch and another 30 minutes of him deciding.  Because I thought that if he cried in disappointment one more time about a decision that I had to make I thought I might climb up on the roof and stay there until some sort of fire person came to get me down with a ladder and some Valium.

So I went on some sort of a parental rant.  I'm not even sure what I said. I think I floated outside of my head. It was something to this effect:  I'm just so tired and I want to relax for a little while and sit and read by myself and I am worried about you getting some good sleep and you've been up until 10 every night this week and I am tired of being up with children until 10 every night and I'm tired of not just having one minute to myself and if I have to have another child cry because I did or said something they weren't satisfied with and what the heck is my problem that I don't even know how to use the DVD player and why doesn't your dad just LEAVE things plugged in and what kind of a ridiculous AV set up is this anyway and what the HECK why can't I just figure it out and I just wish your daddy was home but no way am I calling him on his night out and on and on and I think I threw a H-E-double hockey sticks and a G-D it in there somewhere.

Coen just sort of watched me rant and Lucy called from the bathroom, "What is Mommy talking about?!" and Coen asked, "Are you mad at me?" "Are you mad at Daddy?" to which I answered "No. I think I'm mostly mad at the DVD player and myself for not knowing how to use it." And then Coen yelled back to Lucy, "She's mad at the DVD player!" And Lucy yelled back "OH!"

Then I stopped and took a bunch of deep breaths and looked at my child who was staring at me (with the glimmer of a smile I think). I apologized to Coen and he said, "Don't worry Mommy. Everyone gets crabby sometimes. Daddy does too." 

At any rate, the rant somehow gained me two calm and cooperative kids.  Lucy took her bath and put her pajamas on and brushed her teeth and I tucked her in with relatively little comment and mostly smiles from her as I read her book and of course one extra.  Coen and I have been cuddling while he watched his movie and when he moved over to the other end of the couch, I began writing this. His blinks are like nine seconds long and I can tell that he is one worn out kid.  He was completely cool that there is no Star Wars anything to be watched and that I just picked this weird lizard movie with Johnny Depp as a voice that he's never even heard of and he just settled back with a blanket and watched it.

So, not that I'll be going on rants anytime in the near future. I did sort of take leave of my senses for a minute there.  I guess it's okay to just be honest about how overwhelmed and done you are with your week once in a while and my rant did result in a very calm and peaceful evening.

So there's that.

And I'm going to post this now and cuddle with my slow-blinking 9 year old for the last 1/2 hour of this movie, if he'll have me.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Adventures in Miscommunications


On Saturday, during the Washington Heights Rummage Sales, I wanted to go visit my friend Brooke, who was having her own rummage sale. 

I texted her to see if we should come over as it was getting late and I wasn't sure if people would be closing up shop. 

Then after she said to come, Tad reported that he just saw she and her husband in their car.

So then I texted her on the assumption that they weren't home anymore.  (Which they were, Tad was mistaken)

The result makes me laugh.


Yesterday Tad was talking to our friend Barry about music.  They were talking about all kinds of stuff and really involved in their conversation.  At one point, Tad mentioned that he had taken $10 out of the ATM yesterday and I suggested that was a rather small amount to take out.
"Well, I wasn't going to buy you roses yesterday!" Tad said, teasing me.

I was feeling sensitive though, so I got a little annoyed with that comment.

Roses!! I thought Since when do I ever want ROSES!

Then their conversation went on, and later Lucy was looking for a stick and went off in search of one on her own. 
"That's the difference between Lucy and Coen." Tad said. "Lucy just shrugs and goes off to find what she needs. Coen would stand here and somehow enlists Alie to help him."

Inwardly I scowled. (well, probably outwardly too since I do everything inwardly also outwardly)

Who does he think he is! I thought. Suggesting that I get duped into helping!

And then the conversation took its turn to music and Black Sabbath in particular.

Barry asked me if I like Black Sabbath.
"Not really." I said.
"No." Tad confirmed "Definitely not Alie's style"
I started thinking, Well, jeez! I could be into Black Sabbath if I wanted!
"Not even the song Changes?" Barry asked.
"Ummm." I said, "Yeah, I like that one"  (I thought it was one that I knew--I always like the ballads!)
"No!" Tad said, "That song was never on the radio; you wouldn't have heard it."

Later that night when we got home, Tad came in to find me reading (pouting) in bed.
"Are you angry?" He asked.
"No." I said. 
And I explained that my feelings were hurt about the roses and the comment about me always getting talked into helping Coen.  He hugged me and apologized, saying he didn't mean at all to push me away, that he was just concentrating on the conversation and absently making jokes and thought I thought it was funny.

Then I looked at him, "And you didn't have to act like I'm not cool enough to like Black Sabbath!" I said.

And then we both laughed.

I totally don't like Black Sabbath.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What parenting sometimes means....

Let's face it.  Parenting (albeit magical, wonderful, deeply moving and life-shaking) is just really hard sometimes. 

Especially when you parent a child who looks like this in her class photo:

Who just this morning stood in my closet crying loudly and yanking down some of my shirts because I wouldn't let her wear a tank top to school when it was fifty degrees outside. Because her dress just didn't feel right with a shirt underneath and she tells you this in a high pitched shout as she flails dramatically on the ground.
Or when you have a child who looks like this in his class picture:

Who makes this particular ridiculous face at you even as you try to tell him some serious etiquette or other parenting type rule. 

Yesterday was one of those days where I wasn't really at my best, as a mom.  My intentions were good. I picked them up from school, excited to see them both and immediately was met with a semantics argument from Lucy
Lucy: Do you know what I'm going to do?
Me: Yeah?
Lucy: (crossing her arms haughtily) Yeah? You DO know what I'm going to do? Okay, what am I going to do then?
Me: I don't know what you're going to do. Tell me.
Lucy: Well, you said 'yeah' so you know what I'm going to do!
Me: I didn't mean, 'yeah' like I know what you're going to do. I mean 'yeah' like 'what' What are you going to do?
Lucy: I don't want to tell you now.

I threw up my hands and just sort of drifted away as she went back to the playground. But what I wanted to say was this:
You know WHAT, sister! I don't give a &#!% what you're going to do!

Being a parent sometimes means keeping the things you really want to say inside your head.

Then Coen came running up to me to say he'd been invited to play at a friend's house.
"I'm sorry." I said, "Not today honey, your Baba and Papa are coming over." (my parents who were generously coming to be with my kids so Tad and I could both attend to our extracurricular plans)
I was met with immediate anger and then big time tears.  He went over to the other side of the playground and sat with his arms folded.

He got over it. But got mad again when no friends were outside to play with, and again when I wouldn't let him drag my parents back to our neighbors so they could watch him jump off the swing, and then again when it was time to come in. And then again when he was in his pajamas and he saw friends outside and wasn't allowed to join them.

Being a parent sometimes means making unpopular decisions that people get really mad at. 

In addition to all this, my sensitive boy has been going through his 1-2 times a year nighttime neuroses where he can't sleep because he's "thinking about things he doesn't want to think about" and I try to be patient and lay with him and rub his back and tell him that everything is okay and that the world won't end or Tad and I won't die or 4th grade won't be as scary as he thinks it will. When what I'm really thinking is this:
Honey, everything is fine. Look-the moon is out, the stars are glimmering; Daddy I are both home. Now shut the #*@% and go to SLEEP!!!!

Being a parent sometimes means that you don't get to sit down and relax until you're unconscious and don't even know you're relaxing.

It's a hard job. It's a twenty-four hour job.  And it's a job I chose.  And I love it. And sometimes I want to call in sick from it.  But since I can't, I have half-assed parenting days like I did yesterday.  But there's always today and tomorrow and tomorrow. 

Being a parent means you are a human being who is trying her best to be all the things a parent should be.
Being a parent means that even though you have a bad day, you're still the parent and you get to try again another day.
Being a parent means, even with all the hard stuff, you get to look at those two pictures above and know your kids are totally weird and wonderful.
And that's pretty great.