I've jolted myself awake with a snore before, but I'm not a regular yet. My husband snores about 30% of the time. 66% of those snores can be blamed on alcohol. A subtle bed shake usually squelches the snore for long enough that I can get back to sleep. If that doesn't work, I'll resort to shoulder pushing, kicking, or a Richter-scale-worthy mattress wobble. During the 33% of his snoring time that he's actually sick, I don't want to enact any of the nuclear options because I want him to get his sleep, get better, and stop SNIFFLING. Most wives roll their eyes when their spouses are sick; that self-righteous daytime eye-roll devolves into seething "Why don't I just suffocate him?" fury at 2:32 am. My sleep-deprived brain thinks, "He's already halfway there; it wouldn't take much." The eye rolling continues the next morning when he tells me he's exhausted because he didn't sleep AT ALL.
I'm not exempt from over-dramatizing aches and pains. I pulled a muscle in January on my bike; it was an "old/cold" issue. I'm too old to go out in the cold on my bike without stretching first. My imagined downhill trajectory was: constant pain, inability to exercise or work, depression, paralysis, obesity, death. I didn't tell anyone that I was thinking this way. Tim would have made me go to a "real" doctor. Instead I went to the chiropractor; I took a bike break; I did acupuncture; I did yoga. I had tennis balls by my bed to massage my ass, hip and thigh (I'm sure that was great for Tim's sleep.) I forgo Ibuprofen for the more-fun remedy of alcohol, but then I feel guilty. I was up at 3 am one night googling "hip gout." Now I have this irrational thought that if I can spread my legs on the floor and put my chest down the way Steel does, I'll pain free for the rest of my life. (That goal is as attainable as Donald Trump's becoming Ghandi.)
As Ghandi-esque as Trump is, this photo is an apt representation of my kids' happily helping in the kitchen
Normally Tim is right about facts. He's much better than I am at listening to an NPR story and re-telling it properly. My comprehension is vague. I'm a pretty good potter; I'm great at knowing the contents of the fridge; my grammar is strong, and I'm pretty good at kid scheduling, but that's it. Saturday before the clocks went forward I told Tim I was looking forward to the light at the end of the day, (because we're boring, and that's what our conversations have come to) Tim told me I had it wrong. My friend, Erica, was with us. She's MUCH smarter than I am, and she's a scientist. She agreed with him, (although in hindsight, she was probably not paying attention to such a boring conversation and nodding to be polite) so I let it go. However, on Sunday morning, I rolled over to Tim and said, "I really am happy that it won't get dark so early anymore. The sun went down at 5:30 yesterday; today it will go down at 6:30." He said, "Babe, I think it's so cute that you can't get your head around this!" I told him that was condescending. He responded, "I'm an architect. I deal with a lot of solar issues. If there's one thing I know about, it's the sun!" I replied, "I am from New England, and I had an evening paper route. If there's one thing I know about, it's Daylight Savings time!" We decided to stop arguing and wait and see what happened. I was fine with that. It didn't stop me from texting quite a few of my friends. Chesley responded, "Tell Tim, I think HE'S cute!" Jen waited until the evening to text him and say, "Aren't you loving the extra hour of DAYLIGHT?????" It's so rare that I'm right about something concrete. It's also rare that he's condescending like that. The combination was better than finding a 4-leaf clover.
With all of my marriage griping, you'd think I'd be jumping back into the online dating world. I actually LOVED online dating. It was so time-economical. I could make a bunch of cups in my studio then go out and meet someone for a drink. I'd know in 10 minutes whether or not there would be a second date. I'd either pay for the drinks, and tell the guy "Good Luck; it was so nice to meet you!" Or I'd stay for another drink. Either way I could be back to the studio in time to put handles on those cups. It was the only time I felt completely comfortable rejecting someone. Nothing had been invested, and no one had to know. Two of my friends just embarked upon the online dating process. One is an artist. She took artful, tasteful, gorgeous selfies. She met a guy the first week, and they are still dating. The only thing that bothered her about the process was that she felt she had to grow her hair longer because "guys only like women with long hair."
The other friend wouldn't let me style her at all. I furtively followed her around as she gardened, walked the dog, and cooked. It's really hard to take good pictures of someone who won't cooperate at all. I finally got an amazing shot of her making hamburger patties. Her fingers are long, and her nails are perfect and unpolished. Her hair was cascading down in front of half of her face. She thought it was gross and wouldn't let me put it up. The "guys need long hair" friend said, "Are you KIDDING me???? LONG CASCADING HAIR and HAMBURGER PATTIES?????? That's an internet dating slam dunk!!!!!" Hamburger patty nixer also deleted anyone who only wanted to date younger women. I found that smart, but self-defeating. She was too brutal for internet dating. In the end it's probably just as well nothing happened. I would be so maniacally self-congratulatory if I'd created her relationship from a profile concocted drunk during piano night with 5 kids running around. True love for her wouldn't be worth enduring my insufferable boasting.
Speaking of "insufferable boasting" my mom's pre-Superbowl "You hate us because you AIN'T us" comment has not been forgotten.
Who am I kidding? Kids weren't running around; they were glued to screens. Over the winter we had a major shift in our screen time policy. JP was lying and hiding away with the iPad or a computer constantly. I'd resorted to throwing every electronic into the trunk of the car if I went anywhere. The lying was the most disturbing. We actually spoke to his teacher and the counselor at school about it. The upshot was that my mother was right. We needed to turn screen time into our carrot. We'd run out of sticks. My sister in law instigated the CASH program one summer. They had to do something Creative, Active, Smart and Helpful before they could get screens. We've added a lot to the list, but if my kids hustle, they can earn screen time almost every evening. The girls like shows, so I had them watching FAME, the show about the performing arts school in NYC in the 80's. I would watch with them.
Totally destined for the show, "Fame!"
Not much has changed except that since then, small breasts have disappeared, and visible nipples must've become illegal. It took seeing those slim girls in leotards with their headlights on to make me remember that nipples used to be OK. To my daughters' chagrin, I've been liberating my tiny breasts and nipples. Padded bras are fine when it's cold, but I'm over it.
Eagles gear is the new lingerie.
Speaking of lingerie, I was feeding JP and Toby lunch before going to Fern's birthday party in February. As they ate I was going through a box of hand-me-downs for them. I came across a slinky pair of black undies with the tags still on them in MY size. My narration of the contents of the box turned into an all-out Hallelujah Chorus, but instead of singing "Hallelujah," I sang incredulously, "SEXY UNDIES! SEXY UNDIES! SEXYUNDIESSEXYUNDIES..." That pepped up their soggy quesadillas. After lunch I was organizing the gift bag we were taking to the party. Toby asked what we'd gotten Fern for her birthday, and as I put my hand into the bag, both of them chorused in the exact same moment in soprano voices that would have made Handel proud, "SEXY UNDIES! SEXY UNDIES!" It slayed me. Those weird Kinder genes bubbled up from the chickeny/cheesy depths of both of their souls at the exact same moment. It was that much more preposterous because Fern is the most innocent, wholesome 9 year old on the planet.
Fern is much more wholesome than my little vixens.
Valentine's day was exciting. JP actually asked a girl to the "Family Dance." At some point during the dance someone told me that the girl had "dumped" JP in front of all of her friends. I'd been misinformed, but my heart ached for a minute which quickly turned into Hunger Games fantasies involving my expertly shooting all the little twats with my bow and arrow. The house was completely covered in glitter after our Valentine-making session. Because I'm a sham of an artist parent, it was the first year they'd actually made home-made ones instead of using the store-bought ones that Nanny would get them. The uncanny thing was that the kitten only decimated one of the 90 Valentines on the table, and it was the one belonging to the glitter-hating 4th grade teacher. The cat had removed almost every sparkle. We discovered at the end of Valentine's day that JP has achieved his Dork Diaries-inspired goal of being class clown; EVERY single one of the Valentines he received said, Jack Peter, you're so funny.
He is pretty funny, and look at him making a "mom's pottery still life!"
Steel and Toby are much more cagey about their romantic lives. I know Toby fancies a little boy named Harrison, but that's all I've gotten. Steel just likes to orchestrate other people's love lives. She's a liaison and a hammer. She'll set up a couple and then step in and tell her friend to break up with the boy if she deems his behavior inappropriate. She almost axed Lucas on behalf of Margaret because he was flirting with other girls. She came home and asked, "Is it OK for a boy to flirt with other girls if he has a girlfriend?" I told her that it all depends on the relationship and that some couples like to flirt with other people, but they always come back to each other. "Well, I'm not going to have a relationship like that." she replied. No players for Steel!
It always cracked me up when gymnastics parents would ask me which Thundercat was mine. (the Persian cat?)
That Katness Hunger Games impulse erupted in me at the beach the other day. (wanting to whip out my bow and arrow to impale obstreperous children) I have my issues with predominately white, upper-class places in general, but this occurred in Manchester-by-the-Sea. When I was growing up there, I felt like a fish out of water, and I'm always on the lookout for the roots of those feelings when I return. Steel was sashaying around and singing while she carefully lay her towel down on the sand. Two little girls about JP's age were in front of us. I watched those spiteful little brats appraising Steel and whispering to each other with disapproving looks on their little, unimaginative faces. Steel was oblivious, but I wanted to scream at them, "You'll never go south of Boston or West of Worcester. You'll probably never leave this town, you small-minded little cunts!" Now I remember why I hated New England! You're not allowed to have fun.
I'm glad my kids still embrace Halloween; speaking of "wacky and fun"
Tim has been working 24/7 on his current project. It's a 25-unit 0-energy, passive house project in Northern Liberties. At some point he decided that it would be nice to have my hand-made tiles as backsplashes in all of the units. This meant that my green-haired, millennial employee, Shaina would still have work making tile this summer during the times that I was away with the kids, so I took it on. It was over 15,000 tiles. I had to hire a high-school girl to glaze them all (and I made the kids and various friends come in and help as well) 16-year-old Jasmine was an amazing worker. She would be there before I showed up. She never griped about having to clean. She was perfect except that her arriving before I did meant that she would already have turned on the radio. She listened to the Christian radio station...."positive and encouraging radio." All of the breaks in between songs would be people calling in to tell us how Jesus intervened and saved their great Aunt who was riddled with cancer and then survived. All I could think was why the hell is Jesus intervening with some old Christian Aunt and not with 38-year-old-mother-of-2 Rochelle and 9-year-old Marlee in Steel's class? Jesus sucks, and so does positive and encouraging Christian rock.
Shaina comes in at around 12 every day which meant that I was never alone in my studio. I also had to drive the kids to camp before I went to work, so that meant I could never ride my bike. The combination of no alone time and feeling out-of-shape made for a grumpy me this summer. Tim had it worse. He was working 14-hour days and not getting to do any of the "fun" summer stuff. (He hates "fun" summer stuff, but I know he was missing us.) He actually came up to my mom's for 2 nights in August. We went to a play, and he surprised us at the intermission. It made me cry.
The next day he suggested we "do something DIFFERENT!" We always just hang out in Manchester-by-the-Sea. We hatched a plan to go to Salem to see another part of the North Shore. I'd just gone running. I said, "Let me take a quick shower, and then we'll go!" Mid-shower he came to the bungee-cord-secured-shower door in my mom's bathroom to inform me that water was pouring into the living room. The trip to Salem was scrapped for some emergency plumbing. There's a part of me that believes that he was probably happier working on my mom's plumbing that he'd have been wandering around Salem, but it was still sort of sad.
Speaking of sad, I've not published a "throwing and tantrums" blog post in over a year. Since then all of the pictures I had to go with this post have disappeared in the coffee-saturated desktop of my previous computer. This new computer got baptized with a kid spewing gingerale from a straw 3 weeks after I'd bought it. I will never not invest in the Apple care liquid accident insurance. I'm also clear that I do not deserve to own anything that costs over $200. I'm also going to start writing again- sticky keyboard or not.