Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Hey, here's something not sad....

Summer is the only time I get to decide what I read, so all during the school year I gather books to squeeze in over the break. By the time school is out my stack is usually pretty tall. I feel a little braggy proud about the amount of reading I was able to get through in 3 short months. (Although, full disclosure, I started the first 2 on this list during winter break, so I did have a little head start.)

Here are the book reports~

I really loved this book. It is meant to be a letter to the author’s son on the meaning and navigation of being a black man in America. I think we might all be better off, if, no matter what our race and gender, we read this book with an open mind and heart.

What can I say about this? I love history and Hamilton. This comprehensive biography really gives so much insight into the amazing (and stubborn) man that Alexander Hamilton was. He was brilliant and his own worst enemy at the same time. As much as I wanted to finish so I could move on to the next book, I was sad when the end came.

Gah! The crying. I have not loved a book this much in a really long time. You guys HAVE to read this book. In several places literally wept. This is the extremely moving story of a teenage girl who has lost her favorite uncle to Aids and ends up forming a secret relationship with his surviving partner. But it’s really SO SO much more than that. It’s about all relationships and the suckiness of transitioning from protected child to protecting adult. The relationships were so personal and complex; I can’t say enough good things about this book.

Alright, so, I saw this recommended a couple of places, I think first on Design Mom, and thought it might be a good way to make sure my teenagers and I were continuing to have an open dialog about sex. My intent was to do what she had done and not only read it myself, but also to encourage my kids to read it. Wellllll, about 2 chapters in I changed my plan after coming across references to acts I had never heard of. (I don’t know how to say this without seeming one thing or another, but I don’t think I’ve spent my life in a dark and na├»ve place, I’ve been around, but not AROUND, you know?) Anyway…the more I read the more I agreed that these were important topics, but I wasn’t sure I wanted my daughter reading about them. But, then I got to the chapters on rape, As I read the stories of the girls interviewed for this book I found that I was reading my own stories and memories of boys bringing bottles of wine to dates, so I could “relax”, and feeling like the success of the evening depended on how far I was willing to go, came rushing back to me and I knew that I did want my daughter…and my sons, to read this book. In the end I decided that it’s possible, likely even, that my kids are not going to read this and come to me and say, “hey, can we talk about oral sex?”, but I don’t care.

Set in Nigeria, this is the story of Okonkwa, a man trying, like most of us, not be his father. He has a plan, to be strong and successful in ways his father never was, but life never works out the way we plan. Some times the more we fight something, the more likely we are to become it. As the outside world begins to creep into his previously isolated tribal life, Okonkwa finds himself unable to adapt, so instead he fights all of the changes in his world. In the end though, as we all know, change comes whether we like it or not. It's hard to know if he is brave or foolish. Maybe, like all of us, it's a little of both. This book reminded me in many ways of The Good Earth where a man tries so hard to defy his past that he loses not only the present, but the future as well.

This memoir alternates between the memories of McBride and his mother, a Jewish white woman who twice married black men and not only raised 12 children largely on her own, but worked hard to ensure that all twelve graduated college. This was a quick read and a great example of the influence of a strong mother and the power of expectations.

I know. Funnest title ever, right? This is actually very interesting, especially if you don't know much about the way our state was formed and how our constitution works. I recommend getting something like this, no matter where you live. It's much easier to understand, and work toward supporting or changing the law, when you see how the sausage is made. 

I just realized that the photo at the time includes the Bill Bryson book. I have not finished that one. It's a collection of essays that are charming and funny, and I pick it up and read a couple now and then when I have time. I'm a huge fan of these types of books (David Sedaris is probably my favorite), because there's not a time commitment, you can read a few pages, put it down, and come back anytime you want. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Woe and gloom and clowns and pokemon...

It's rough at there right now, eh? I don't know about you, but I am so worn out from election talk that I can hardly think about it anymore. Or at least I wish I could not think about it anymore. Sadly it is EVERYWHERE. The worst part is not our candidates (although, I think we can agree they are not the greatest), the worst part is how we are speaking to each other and behaving online...and lots of times, in person. Guys! Cut it out!!! Let's focus on real problems.

Like scary clowns.

I'm sorry. I can't even take them seriously. If a clown tried to rob me I would be laughing too hard, I would offer them my therapist phone number, because honestly, if that's the best you can do as a criminal...

Anyhow...I don't know why, but this made me laugh.

Let's all try to cheer up, K?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

This probably should have been broken into 12 posts, but, whatevs.

Being introverted is not the same thing as being shy. I can talk to people, small talk or big talk. I'm a talker. I don't want stay at home all the time, in fact, sometimes I LIKE to go out. Introversion is not agoraphobia. BUT, I need to know that there's going to be an end to the work day, the party, or the conversation, and when that end comes, I need to be able to be alone for a while. Maybe I'll read a book, or watch TV, or relive every single word I said while I was out in the world acting normal. It doesn't matter, what matters is that I get that time alone.

For the last couple of weeks I have been more anxious than usual, which is really saying something and yesterday I had a small panic attack. Being nervous and feeling worried all the time sucks and I've been trying to figure out what's different right now. It's not unusual for me to be anxious, but it is unusual for me to feel like I need to take something for it daily. I joke about it a lot, but the truth is one fill of my Xanax prescription usually last me the whole year. I really try to manage my anxiety without medication. (Mostly because I'm also a control freak who has convinced herself that this is another thing she should be able to deal with on her own. (Layer upon layer of crazy right here.)).

Although school is out I've been pretty busy. I work all day, I've been helping out with my grand kids a few days a week, Ivy's diabetes has been in a constant state of concern, we have a family vacation starting in a couple of days, and let's not forget the general state of things in the world. The thing that I see most, the common thread, is that I am rarely alone. The idea that I would have a panic attack because I cannot be alone is so utterly selfish and ridiculous to me that I fight it and try to prove to myself that I CAN do it all damnit! and thus a spiral is born. I do more, more is asked of me, I resent then fight that resentment, and Voila!! Panic attack!! 

I love my kids and grand kids and it makes me really happy that even the grown and married ones want to be here so often, but when everyone is here all the time I feel like I need to be in hostess/grandma mode all the time and I'm exhausted. (You don't need to tell me how awful it is to feel that way. Guilt is in a race with anxiety to be my chief emotion.)

I feel like a failure with the diabetes. No matter how hard I try I seem to be getting it wrong. In my mind I expected there would be a transition period, then we would figure things out and get into a routine. I didn't think there would never be changes or things to worry about, but I did believe that we would be managing and that it would become, I guess, a background issue. However, that has not been the case. I feel like nothing stays the same, It's a constant struggle, and the words I say most often every single damn day of my life are, "how is your blood sugar?" It the last thing I think of before I sleep and the first thing I think of in the morning, and it is driving my daughter crazy. I am driving my daughter crazy, but my fear that something terrible will happen keeps me from giving her any space. 

Travel, no matter how much I look forward to it always freaks me out a little bit. By a little bit, I mean a lot. Imagine a more intense Clark Grizwold Wally World melt down from the planning stage and all the way through post vacation laundry and you'll understand the tip of my leisure experience. I want to enjoy it, I want everyone,,,right down to our stewardess, to enjoy it, I want to make sure I don't forget to pack anything, or miss some landmark, or hurt anyone's feelings. Seriously, forget the cost of going on a trip. The reason I don't do things is because my expectations are unacheiveable. 

It's obvious to me that my need to control the outcomes of ALL THE THINGS is driving me insane but for some reason logic has very little pull in my brain. 

Ahem...I found this in my draft folder. It was obviously written a couple of months ago, before our vacation, but I wanted to post it anyway since this is my journal and I hate forgetting things. I don't want to spoil the ending, but our vacation was JUST FINE...better than fine. It was dandy. And I am feeling much less stressed. Today. That comes and goes, but what are you gonna do, right?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Part 4..are you kidding me?

This is the last one. I promise. I'm squeezing all the rest of the trip into this post, so you might want to get a snack. Or skip it depending on your tolerance for vacation recaps.
On our second day in D.C. we tried to squeeze in as many Smithsonians as possible. We started at the American History Museum, where we were a tiny bit early for their new election exhibit.

My favorite carpool propaganda poster EVER. 
Don't ride with Hiter! That's for chumps!!
The giant floating whale is my favorite thing in the Natural History museum. I could stay in that room all day.

Air and Space was our last museum of the day. 
Then we went to Chinatown for dinner. Which was fun. Our restarant was super close to the Metro station, so we didn't really explore Chinatown at all, but what we did see was fun.
The animals of the Chinese Zodiac are painted on the crosswalks. For some reason I just thought that was the best thing EVER. 

After dinner we dropped the kids off at the hotel and went back for a night time stroll of the monuments. 

We didn't take an offical tour, but it was one of my favorite things we did. I loved seeing everything at night. (There were also less people, so BONUS.)

On the last day of our trip we got up and went to Arlington first. We almost skipped this stop because we didn't feel like we had enough time. I'm so glad we didn't. This is the only picture I took there, it just didn't seem right to snap a selfie in such a reverent place. The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was very moving, for me anyway. 
Afterwards we walked across the bridge towards Abe (if you look closely you can see him wayyyy off in the distance).
One last shot.
Obligatory White House photo.
After Arlington, time was running out. Everyone was starving, but the one and only thing Eli had asked to do in D.C. was go to the National Gallery. So we split up and most of our group went to eat while Eli and I made a mad dash to the museum. 
It was so peaceful and lovely inside. The crowds were so much smaller than any of the other places we visited on our trip. I guess not a lot of people feel like dragging their kids around to look a VanGoghs. 

Here is Eli doing his best Ferris Bueller. Except he wasn't joking, he was really loving the art. Like Arlington, we almost skipped this one due to time not being on our side. Once again I was SO glad that we figured out a way to make it work for everyone. Being there, just the two of us, is a great memory. 

This is in front of the National Archives where we had planned to run in real quick like to take a peek at the Constitution, but this time we really DID NOT have time. So off we ran to the Metro and just like that our trip was done.

The whole vacation was so great. I loved that my brother's family got to come to D.C. with us. It was amazing seeing everything with my niece and nephews, who, by the way, are awesome travelers and super curious, and ask the BEST questions. 
Hooray for family, vacations, and kids who don't get carsick anymore.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Finally, DC. Longest trip recap part 3

Look at this! We finally made it to D.C.
When we got to town we didn't waste any time. We hopped right on the Metro and hurried into the city because we had tickets reserved for the Holocaust museum.

I began taking pictures of the Washington Monument the second we landed. I probably took a 100. I'll have to make a collage one of these days.
Ok, here's the thing about the Holocaust museum. It is awesome and important, but guys, the tour is LONG. I think if I had known that we would end up spending 3+ hours there I would have either skipped it this time around, or planned for a different time. We were just so tired from all the driving and sitting and everything else we had done in the couple of days prior that I don't think we were able to really appreciate the magnitude. Also, I think that because we have all read so much about the Holocaust, there weren't too many things in the presentation that were shocking revelations to any of us. I feel like this makes us sound like a bunch of heartless shallowtons, which is 100% not the case. I just think maybe we weren't in the right mindset. Also, I for sure would not take little kids, maybe not younger than 14. The subject matter is hard, and, as I mentioned, the tour is long. I guess just know your audience. 
When we left the museum we were all starving, but we were so close to Thomas Jefferson and I was afraid we wouldn't make it back if we didn't go right then, so we walked over and took a look. I was so glad we did. Maybe it was exhaustion or Holocaust hangover, but I cried a little when we saw him. T.J. isn't my favorite founding father, but you know, he's a little cool. 
In his way. 
Oh look, The Washington Monument.

On the Metro, some us played, The Man Game. It's a famous game where you try to stand without holding on to anything and see if you can keep from falling into the laps of strangers. As you can imagine strangers love it when you encourage a train car full of children to play this game. 
Cooper was a champion. 
I on the other hand made lots of new friends when I fell on top of them.
Look at these guys? Seriously, I miss them SO much. It was the best going to D.C. with them. They are all so funny and smart. Living on opposite sides of the country sucks. 
Wait, is that the Washington Monument?
Abe. Both times we went to see Lincoln were at night. I've been in the daytime before and I can safely say, night is the best. Even though there were SO many people the first evening it didn't feel like a crazy crowd. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was a crowd. They just weren't crazy. 
And that, is how we spent our first day in D.C.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

All the rest part 2

At this rate it's going to take me 6 months to recap a 1 week vacation, but for the sake of posterity I shall soldier on.
The fourth day of our trip was Busch Gardens day! So we got up SUPER early and headed out. 
On the way we stopped for gas and found the best little store EVER. Bubble gum cigarettes AND butter rum LifeSavers!!! 
Our kids had never seen bubble gum cigarettes before, so naturally we took about a photo albums worth of "smoking" pictures. By the time we all started singing along to Come On Eileen, I was thinking we could call it a day and skip the amusement park. Unfortunately the rest of my thrill seeking party did not agree. 
Way in the back there, you can see the roller coasters from MILES away. I honestly have never seen so many LONG and TALL roller coasters. It was a fun day, but early on I remembered that I am old and my heart cannot take so much "fun".
Nate and Eli, however are not old. They let me take this shot of them, then they left us (in the dust) and went off to see how many heartstopping rides they could fit in before lunch.
I could write a lot more, but the gist of it is, we had a super good time at Busch Gardens. I felt like for the ages of our kids it was more fun than Disneyland, and it was a million times cleaner and more family friendly than Six Flags. We would definitely go back. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I can't even...

We interrupt this terribly fascinating travelogue for a short rant about sexism.

Last night Sylvan & I went to the movies. Before the previews they played this...

OMG, Seriously!?!  I was so mad. I started giving Sylvan a lecture about not wanting our daughter...or anyone's daughter to think they need to trim anything down there, especially into the shape of a heart...AND ALSO... where are the commercials giving BOYS suggestions of what shapes to use if and when they groom their bushes????

There are SO many things wrong with this ad.

I was whispering so loudly that I think he was a little embarrassed, but I don't care. Society's expectations of girls...good grief.

Excuse me. I have to go send an email to the idiots at Schick.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vacation 2016, all the other stuff. Part 1

When booking our flights it seemed like such a great idea to fly at night and maximize our time. I figured we could fly and sleep at the same time. I felt like a trip planning genius for making that decision. Turns out, most of us are so hot at sleeping anytime or anywhere...However, one of us (Sylvan), managed to find an empty row at the back of the plane where he stretched out and got some serious sleep for about 4 hours. Making him the winner of the "who gets to drive from N.C. to Va." contest.

We had a medium sized layover at JFK. Not long enough to leave the airport, but long enough to purchase mementos of our time in New York. 

This was taken right after we got in the car. 20 minutes later they turned into 3 year olds who were touching each other and complaining about my choice in music.
Although we met and were married while serving in the Army at Ft. Bragg, N.C., Sylvan claimed to have never seen a tobacco field before. He was so intriged that he convinced Nate to hop out and grab a leaf. (A feat I warned them both could find us all facing the business end of an angry farmer's shotgun.)
He put it right on the dash, and by the time we arrived at my brother's house it was nearly dried,  cured, and ready to roll into a cigar (just kidding, it was dry, but nowhere near cured).
There were about twenty pictures just like this on my phone. We have trees in Arizona, but when you are away for a while you forget just how many MORE trees there are on the East Coast. 
Trees for days, man. 
On our second night in Virginia we had dinner at my mom's house, where Sylvan was giving this affectionate greeting by his mother-in-law. Look at how happy he is to see her! 
The next morning my brother led us on a hike to the top of Virginia. 

Some of us went higher than others (let's just say, I know my limits).

The view from the top was AMAZING! Look at all of those trees.
After hiking we returned to my brother's house where those who could still use their legs engaged in a serious Nerf battle. 

We also went to an end of the season swim banquet for our niece and nephews, which sadly I took no pictures of. But it was fun, and fancy and a good time was had by most. I think.

To be cont....