Brighton and Beyond!

First a huge and sincere thank you goes to Anna. Not only did she house, drive, feed, and entertain me, she did it so graciously you’d never know how fragile she is right now. But she is and having put aside so many of the things which sustain and comfort her to be my guide and host required courage and love well beyond the usual demands of friendship. Thank you, dearest Anna. You made this trip a joy. I love you too.

Impressions

One of the things we all do when traveling is compare it to home. What’s the same, what’s different. What seems to be a better way of managing and what makes you roll your eyes and think/say, “I can’t believe you (do this specific thing so ass backwardly)!”

Over all I thought England stacked up against the US quite favorably. Almost all of the negs had to do with size and this can’t really be helped because, hello, small island with limited space. Though I do think when town planners weren’t having to deal with city centers that had been there for 900 years and pre-war housing clusters they might have made the roads wider. Nope. Aside from the motorways – the multi-lane highways where everyone drives 80+ mph in their wee little cars, all the roads in England are literally as narrow as my driveway. Two-way traffic is a constant exercise in manners. Drivers are forever having to pull off to the side to let the other guys through. Everyone takes turns and waves thank you, it was so British I got the giggles. And had the vapors imagining Americans on those tiny roads. The murder rate would skyrocket and the entire country would grind to a standstill with cars grille-to-grille and drivers out in the road nose-to-nose snarling, “No, you back up, buddy-roo!”

Other British things which amazed and delighted me- dogs. Specifically many, many people have dogs and the dogs are allowed to go everywhere. Dogs in pubs! Dogs in cafes! Dogs on buses and in shops! Well behaved dogs on leashes.

Kids on scooters! I love, love, love the scooters. Soon as kids can walk they are out of the stroller and onto a scooter. I took a lot of shit for putting Seb on a leash, which is quite stupid if you really think about it. My busy kid couldn’t bear to be strapped into a stroller, he wanted to move. And being fast and heedless and completely unresponsive to verbal commands hand holding and/or letting him toddle along on his own were out of the question. So. I kept my son leashed. He stayed safe and got to be free to walk and explore and use his bod. A scooter wouldn’t have worked for us, but it made me happy to see all the tiny British kids out on theirs. It’s a buggabear of mine when I see perfectly sound children crammed into strollers. Not babies, not even toddlers, but children. Sure, weep and carry on about childhood obesity and then keep your 6 year old prisoner in a stroller. Explain that one, please. Anyway, the scooters and all those little-uns whizzing along out in the fresh air, seeing the world, and gaining mastery over their bodies and their ability to navigate in public made me very happy.

Gardens! Holy moly. Flowers and veg everywhere! The majority of our dinners came straight out of Anna and Sam’s garden. Delish. It was a wonderfully peaceful way to begin my day with a cup of something hot and seat in their conservatory looking out at the garden. The birds squabbling at the feeders, the endless variety of flowers- always a new one to discover…ahhh. The near constant bouts of Lyme disease had driven me indoors to a degree I hadn’t really noticed before. I’d even stopped futzing with and seeding the bee meadow so really couldn’t say anything when I came home and discovered Mick had mowed it down.

I did so many things on my trip it’s still all a jumble. I’ll work on getting my pics in order and do a travelogue entry next time. Just know that England is gorgeous. Shirley the puppy is THE cutest in the entire world. And that I have amazing generous friends who knocked themselves out to give me the trip of a lifetime and I am humble and grateful.

steyning-tea-rooms

 

Much love from your newly transatlantic traveling friend, ~LA

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Hurry Up and Wait

Okay, now shit’s getting real.

I don’t over-pack. In my everyday life I have a couple favorite outfits I wear over and over, why should traveling be any different? Plus I’ve found if I get somewhere and need something I hadn’t brought I can just simply buy it where I am. Except for some brief excursions over the borders of Mexico and Canada all my travels have been in the States and I can find Colgate toothpaste and Hanes underpants pretty much anywhere.

My big dilemma with choosing what to bring to England is weather. I know, layer, layer, layer. But even layers can be problematic, I would like to look halfway put together, not to impress Anna, she’s seen me in my horrible housecoat complete with morning breath and bedhead, but to feel like a grown-up and not a backpacking hostel kid shambling along stoned and broke wearing Birks, a Baja, and four tie-dyed t-shirts in various stages of decay. Odds are this is THE trip, you know? I want to pull it off with some style.

Though if you took a peek in my luggage you’d think otherwise. Nobody carrying this much candy corn can be considered as anything but a loon. What? It was the dopiest American candy I could think of. No point in bringing chocolate, theirs is far better and I don’t want to worry about melting. It’s difficult enough trying to guess what will pass through the TSA and what might get me hauled off for a ‘special’ pat-down. I’m traveling with medication, an arsenal of toiletries and cosmetics, and I wear a bra with more metal struts and support than the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ve got an unused passport with a pic therein that was taken 20lbs ago. Basically I should wear a sign saying, “I did everything wrong, please do a strip search  and make me miss my flight.”

I know, right? I’m going in a machine that will be crossing the ocean a mile up in the sky, to arrive at a country where extremists regularly blow things up and ram cars into crowds (though nowhere near how often Americans shoot each other with guns), to visit a friend I haven’t seen in over 8 years and other friends I’ve never met in person at all, and my ONLY fear is getting through security at the airport.

For real. Such is the blessing of having zero social anxiety.

To be serious and a bit of a downer for a moment, when the people who should love you most treat you like a humiliating burden, a problem, and criticize your every thought, word and action as some kind of embarrassing affront to THEM it burns out that place where what other people think matters. By age 3 I had absorbed and accepted that I was wrong, no matter what and about every thing. What do you do with a child who speaks in complete sentences at 10 months old? In two languages? Can read and write before completely potty trained? A difficult, prickly child who argued like Clarence Darrow and yet looked like a Hummel figurine?

hummel2

In my case your family picks at you until you honestly don’t care anymore. Then you go on to live a life free from being afraid of being judged and no longer give any brain space to the entire concept. Where strangers are delights, stories to be enjoyed and bearers of gifts of skills and knowledge I hadn’t had before. I’ve told Mick many times that I’ve yet to meet a single person who didn’t bring me something new and cool to know. People are endlessly fascinating. I love that.

So. Traveling doesn’t frighten me. Especially traveling alone. Going out into the world is fun! I genuinely, truly enjoy meeting new people. Chatting up strangers. Sharing a brief slice of time and life with fellow travelers. Shoot, even the guy who drives the airport shuttle or the barista at the train station has a story. And I absolutely want to hear it. Just get me through airport security and I am A #1 good to go.

Today was spent dorking out and making technical arrangements. Phone? Good. A nifty little plan of talk and text well sufficient to cover my needs. Found a charger that has a outlet plug and a USB plug. Not international converter but one can be had over there. Arranged for my bank card to work without security blocks. Affixed my bright pink luggage tag. Counted out my meds and vitamins and have them in officially labeled containers, hopefully no hassles there. I am only bringing my phone and a camera. Planning on a quasi media-free vacation. No laptop, tablet, or even a Kindle. Not against those things, they’re just not me. I like being where I am without a screen or lens between me and what I’m doing. I do have a paper journal and a couple of my favorite pens. Old school.

Mostly what this trip is about is being free. Free of my usual roles. Free of excess stuff. Free of living up to or adhering to expectation.

In 1990 I took a short business trip to Colorado. I had my bookstore and went on a buying trip for stock not readily found in our area and to make connections with other antiquarian booksellers in those dim dark pre-internet days. Who you knew was everything back then. I also had a friend in Boulder who could put me up, someone I’d worked with in Texas. We’d met just after Alex was born and she’d even watched him a few times when my shift ran long. Sue was glad enough of my company and to have a reason to hit every used book shop and antique store in the Denver/Boulder area. We had a good time. I bought and shipped home a literal ton of books. Made a few book dealer friends. Drank waaaaay too many margaritas one night. And amused childless Sue to no end with this one peculiar habit of mine. Whenever we got to a street corner or started across a parking lot I stuck out my hand. Low. Low enough to block a child from darting out into traffic. Low enough for a 5 year old to grab my hand and safely cross. 1,500 miles away from my kid and I was still on mom duty. 32 years into this gig I don’t know if I will ever NOT be on mom duty.

Tomorrow I am going up in the sky and crossing the whole ocean. To land in the first foreign country I’ve been to that isn’t physically connected to my home. For nine days I will be well beyond an outstretched hand from my child. Too far away to cook for and kiss my husband. For more than a week I will just be Me and I don’t know how it will go. But I am excited to find out. I just have to get through the TSA first.

 

Up, up, and away! ~LA

 

 

The Accidental Contrarian

I feel rather Republican right now. There is SO much wrong and terrible, almost every system is in chaos- nature, governments, society, the economy, oy, shit is blowing up everywhere and me?…I’m happy.

Not happy about the bad things. No, no, no. I haven’t slid that far into the dark side. But in my little corner of the universe life is okay. Mick’s retirement is changing up a lot of things and we can’t make it on my wages and his pension alone, but said pension is more than anticipated and while the bite to keep my health insurance is still a big chomp it’s not the artery-severing impossibility we thought at first. So if Mick gets a gig at near the same wage he was making (and this is better than likely) we will actually be better off than we were before he retired. And my dear mannie doesn’t have to be at that job he’d come to loathe anymore. Sebastian’s health insurance is a goner, but he can get a decent plan through his union which will be more than adequate for a healthy 20 year old. All in all, the money/work prospects are hopeful and bright.

Everything west of the Rockies is on fire and the coastal south is drowning and by the time you read this every roof in Florida might be blown off, but here in downstate NY? It. Is. GORGEOUS. After a not-too-bad summer with enough rain and no extended hot spells we’ve hit the weather sweet spot, the time of year that makes the Hudson Valley like nowhere else on Earth. Glorious. Clear, cool, sunny, a delicious gentle breeze that smells like apples. There are pops of color but mostly the trees are still green and drowsing their way into autumn. Crisp and frost-brittle are coming but for right now everything is soft. Puffy clouds in an azure sky. The cricket song is a lullaby. When not in my work clothes I’m barefoot in leggings and a worn out cotton shirt, so supremely comfortable in my skin I feel almost weightless.

And what of work? The news there is good all around too. My manager is leaving! Moving down south to be with family, especially her MIL who is getting up in years and is ailing. Boss lady’s husband is already there and has a job and a place. She’ll be following him down in 2-3 weeks. She’s nowhere near the worst boss I’ve had, but overall she ain’t been great. However, knowing that she’s leaving has made putting up with her bullshit soooo easy. Especially since the new manager is already known and loved. He’s been our unofficial second-in-command since ever. Disciplined, even tempered, kind, empathetic. Pretty much a dream boss. The kind you WANT to knock yourself out for because he sees your hard work and appreciates it. That’s all I need. I’ll always do my job the best way I know how. If there’s something I can do more efficiently or needs to change per corporate bullshittery, just tell me. Don’t act like I’m a scamming bum deliberately out to make you look bad or that I’m some kind of lazy delinquent who’s wanting to coast. Both of which my current manager does ALL THE TIME and it makes me crazy. I do my job. I do it well. I do it well whether I’m watched or not. At most on a less busy day I might chat a bit more with customers and coworkers, but who doesn’t on a slow day? In any case I am always aware of the clock, the bottom line, and what needs doing. Always. So are my coworkers. At least on the day crew. We’re moms. Middle-aged moms with mostly grown kids and a lifetime of doing what needs doing. We totally get it. Budgets, time crunches, coupons, ageing parents, quasi-adult children who still live at home, ex-husbands, always working husbands, retired husbands who are like wayward toddlers with driver’s licenses. We fucking get it. And do for our customers accordingly.

I guess it’s okay to start talking about it. My trip begins in 9 days!!!! Oh my lord! I’ve got new luggage and new underpants. I’ve winnowed down my toiletries and have quart-size zip-lock bags to put everything in. I’ve alerted my bank card company and I check on my plane reservation 4 or 5 times a day. My snazzy new travel raincoat arrived. I’ve been approved for the time off from work. I’ve begun buying goodies for my overseas friends and look forward to the giggles over the dopey American Halloween candy and clothing saying, “Where the Hell is Montgomery, NY?” I realized most of my hit list involves food and catching British people being British. Highbrow culture has to wait for next time. All I want for this trip is to ‘be’. Be in England. Be with my friends. Be in the moment. You’d think since words are my thing that I’d be all about Shakespeare and Austen and Wilkie Collins and chasing down their places, right? Nope. I simply want to listen. To the accents. To the cadence of the spoken word. For an American I have a better than average grip on the various regional British accents so to hear them in person and do some audio sleuthing tickles me to no end.

british post box

I am also a cinephile so am all about the visual. Traffic signs and public allotments and bright red postal boxes. I want to see downtowns of Tudor buildings with modern day shops on the ground floor. I want to see terrace houses and council flats and stately parks and rowdy window boxes full of flowers. I’d like to visit a palace or two. Even if it’s just a view from the outside through a fence. As much as my photograph makes me cringe (so fat, so old!) I’d like to have my pic taken in front of a Marks and Spencer and an Asda and a Topshop and a Waitrose. But not Boots, because they suck. I want to visit Brighton Pier and hopefully see the starlings murmur.

How cool is that?

I can appreciate those who travel and want to Do ALL The Things! I have a few well traveled friends who’ve Done ALL The Things and the stories from their travels both sustain me and make me wan with envy. Yet for my week +1 in England I don’t want to bustle along, I want to meander. Rome? Paris? Prague? In those cities I might join the tours and See Things. If I were traveling with Mick and sharing his wonderment I’d be more proactive.

But this trip is for me.

On MY trip I want to walk and talk and notice things and eat foreign food and see a Banksy in person and take Sammie for a stroll on the promenade. I’d like to meet Anna’s kin and share a meal with them, all or in groups as necessary. I’d like to bop up north and visit Simon and Tracey and meet their kids. And visit the actual village of Ripon and get my ‘Downton Abbey’ geekiness on. I know Highclere Castle is nowhere near Ripon, but on this trip the building isn’t as special as the town. Besides, I don’t have any friends in Berkshire but I do in York.

I live in NEW York might as well visit Original York, yeah?

I’m happy and I’m trying like mad not to feel guilty about it.

 

I’m not even a Boomer!

 

Much love, ~LA

Driving Into The Future

Like so many things since the turn of the millennium, it started with an email.

My nutty husband actually likes spam. The electronic variety, not the yummy canned meat. (What? Shut up, I like Spam, so does Obama. Nar, nar, nar.) Anyway, Mick doesn’t solicit Nigerian prince spam, but he’s quick to give his email address to any nice cashier or salesperson who asks for it because he luuurves when companies beg him to buy things. Why? Beats me. That mailbox is awash with ardent retailers pitching woo to my husband’s wallet. Sometimes it’s good like members’ only coupons at B&N or Torrid that he and I can actually use, so I’ll give Mick credit for those. Ditto for the one from Nissan. Which is where our story begins.

I’ve leased two Nissan Rogues. Both from the same dealership. It changed hands but not brands between Rogue #1 and #2 so as far as Nissan’s concerned I am a “YAY! Sparkle Unicorn Make Her REALLY Happy!!!” customer. They want to keep my biz. A lot. And the other day Mick got a spam from the ever-tumescent Thruway Nissan. Sentras. Stupid cheap lease deal. Seriously. Stupid cheap. Only for sparkle unicorn customers who’d take delivery by Aug 31. I looked at the price. I researched the car. I thought about model year end clearance. I listened to my son’s wheezy, beat to heck, thrice hand-me-down wee truck labor up the driveway every night after work. I did the math. And I looked out my office windows at the trees in the bee meadow that had subtly but definitely put on their autumn dress. Sebastian’s truck would NOT go another winter. Even if it did I couldn’t deal with how unsafe and foolhardy driving that tired un-weather-worthy thing was. Not with my child in it. Nope. Not anymore.

Off to the dealership. The deal, while not smooth nor without its misunderstandings, finally came together. It was ‘officially’ an August purchase but we picked up the car yesterday. Sebastian had his very first brand new car.

There were many, many tears. All mine. I don’t have to explain.

 

The other huge news is that Mick has retired. We cannot afford to live on just his pension and what I make, and it’s been plenty scary, but he has a plan and a very do-able goal about the next phase. I don’t want to get into it now, suffice it to say that when he’s established in this next thing we’ll be solid. The *ahem* retirement? The district has been doing this to all the long-timers- putting the hard word on them to retire or face endless evaluations and disciplinary bullshit for minor molehill stuff they (the district) would be happy to make mountains out of.

Money. It’s always goddamn money. The district is looking to get rid of the high salaried employees and hire in a bunch of per diem/part-timers who get no benefits and have zero union protections. A trickledown from the Trump White House? Oh, you know it. Hell, even without Trumplethinskin this would have come eventually. The Reagan legacy and its union busting, anti-worker, Lord of the Flies/Ayn Rand philosophy has destroyed everything decent and kind and forward thinking about this country.

 

Greed hasn’t saved America, it’s killed us.

My little clan? We are a union family. FIL was a lifelong member of the UAW and did his starvation/violent times to defend workers’ rights. Mick’s pension and our continuing health coverage is because of his membership in the CSEA, not the most powerful union but it’s something. I am a paid member of the UFCW, again, not the mightiest but my union keeps my employer on its toes and me getting regular raises. Sebastian belongs to the Meat Cutters and it has more influence than any other retail union. I’m hoping Mick will end up in the Teamsters. Oy. Please. It’s my favorite. Say what you will about the Teamsters and the Mob and Jimmy Hoffa and whatever. My Pop was a Teamster. For 17 years the ex was a Teamster. For a good chunk of my life I breathed easy. Secure jobs, good benefits, and protections from the greedy bosses I never had at my own shitty ‘right to work’, “Suck my dick or you’re fired”, “Tip and commission jobs aren’t covered by NYS labor law and we can fuck you over at will” food service and sales jobs. Unions are the bees.

If you EVER think trade unions are a bane, that they inhibit free enterprise, that they are some Commie Liberal scam, ugh. Think about who’s telling you this. *coff* Billionaires who own the media *coff* .01%-ers who make more in a day than you will for your entire working life, and politicians who are owned by the billionaires.

I promise you- if there’s someone trying to persuade you that your below-subsistence pay, your $3,000 deductible health care, your OSHA protections against being poisoned or injured, that your wage guarantees are THE PROBLEM they are lying. Flat out. You are being bullied, scammed, and huckstered. Profit is the god worshipped and woe to the worker and the consumer because you are the meat the CEOs carve for their feast.

Sebastian’s car was made in Tennessee by UAW workers, btw. I checked.

So my husband is embarking on a brand new career. My son has a brand new car. I have a brand new kidney stone that came out of the RIGHT kidney and is so painful I clocked out of work early and came home. To take better-than-nothing meds, rest, and distract myself (and you) with a brand new blog entry.

 

That’s all for now.

 

Love you lots, LA

All The Things

Astonishing thing: Sebastian is 6’2″ and still growing. Oh, he has the DNA for it, it’s just mind-boggling to look UP at my baby. He rested his chin on top of my head last night. (Okay, I had to scrunch down a little for him to do it but still!)

Bewildering thing: People who are grieved by a parent’s death. At holidays especially I see posts saying how much someone misses her mom or wishes her dad was still here and I am genuinely stumped. I have at times wanted a mom but certainly I do not miss MY mom. The only thing I felt about her death was relief. The idea that my holiday might be dimmer or emptier because she or my father the complete stranger aren’t there is weird and vaguely upsetting.

Cute thing: Otters. Otters are always cute. They could be in a knife fight to the death and would still be adorable to watch.

Delicious thing: My bed. It’s like lying on a cloud.

Energizing thing: Gay dance club music from the 90s. THUD! THUD! THUD! beep beep THUD!

Frightening thing: What’s happened to our country. A bloodless coup. We now live in a dictatorship. Not Trump, he’s just the sideshow meant to distract and dismay. Even Bannon and his pet Nazis weren’t the true menace, it’s the .01%. They’ve taken over. Our government is owned, our rights forfeit, and the world is theirs to plunder and rearrange and destroy as they will. I say this without hyperbole. It’s over. Not just the US, we’re just the latest and loudest.

Google thing: I’m slowly being forced to give up IE because nothing on the internet accepts it anymore. So I’m fumbling my way through Chrome. As discussed previously computer stuff isn’t intuitive for me. Almost the opposite, in fact, so what seems logical to me never works AT ALL. Sigh…

Helpful thing: If a recipe calls for buttermilk and you have none soured regular milk works just as well. Measure amount needed for recipe, add a teaspoon of white vinegar and leave on the counter for about 1/2 hour. Voila! Faux buttermilk.

Impossible thing: “It’s impossible…to shove an elephant up your nose…it’s just impossible…”, gleefully sung on the playground to the tune of ‘It’s Impossible’ by master crooner Perry Como.

Jinxed thing: My trip to England. I am treating it as such and will until I land at Gatwick and clear customs. Then even if I am struck and killed by a runaway luggage trolley I will die happy knowing I actually made it. As of now my purse keeps getting slimmer, my health lousier, even where I live is up for grabs again. My superstitious dread is at such a pitch that last night when I bought a packable trench coat online I crossed myself, forked the sign to ward off the maloik, and looped a candy necklace around the statue of santeria orisha- Elegua who shares an altar with the Virgin Mary here in my office. Not giving Elegua candy is worse than drinking Jobu’s rum, y’all.

King thing: It was bound to happen, I lost track of a Stephen King book. A short story collection to be precise. Haunted (heh) by one story in particular I went through the short story collections over and over and could NOT find the story I wanted! Maddening! I hadn’t imagined it. A couple other stories were missing too. But that one! The one about the guy in the motel room and the notebook of graffiti, oy, I needed that one. Finally an excavation mission on the office loveseat to dig up some clean socks (don’t ask, I live in creative chaos) the renegade short story collection floated to the top of the bumpf. AHA! ‘Everything’s Eventual’, how did I forget that one? And the story I sought is ‘All That You Love Will Be Carried Away’. Despite the lingering unease of the story’s The Lady or The Tiger ending I was blissfully relieved to have found it. Very few things irk me more than not being able to put hands on a book I MUST have and know I own.

Learning thing: Is it just me or do people seem dumber than they used to be? I can’t decide if stupidity is being actively cultivated or people were always this stupid and it’s just that the internet has allowed them to gather in large numbers. I do know some people are quite proud of being ignorant and that seems new. Discuss in the comments.

Muslim thing: I have been hocking management to increase the amount of halal products in the store. We do have chicken and sometimes lamb and a few frozen things, but the selection isn’t great. Right now the closest source of a good variety of halal meat is way over by the river and halfway up to Kingston. Inconvenient if you live around here and judging from the influx of Hijabi shopping at our place, they do. I am trying to be patient while management mumbles about ‘not enough market’ and other mealy-mouthed shit. I also know Shoprite is no bastion of inclusion, heck 15 years ago I couldn’t even buy tortillas at my Shoprite, I had to go to Middletown for them. But markets and demographics change. Right now I make sure to greet the Muslim women and tell them about our (paltry) halal section. Why? Because you know you’re part of the community when you can find your shit at the local grocery store. And besides if I have to be polite and helpful to the assholes in the MAGA hats I sure as hell can do that (and more) for the chicks in the headscarves.

Netflix thing: I caved and started watching ‘Atypical’. Curiosity overcame my antipathy for TV shows and movies that are basically ‘Aspies Say The Darnedest Things’. I’ve seen two episodes so far and I’ve cried both times. Recognition, you guys. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character is ME. Not entirely but enough to make the tears gush. Dead envious of her support group too. ‘Atypical’ is a far better representation of my parenting experience than ‘Parenthood’ was.

Opiate thing: No worries about me becoming a Lorcet/Vicodin junkie. The stuff just makes me muzzy-headed. However this round of antibiotics is helping. My kidney feels much less angry and I can move some without too much pain. YAY!

Pizza thing: No stunning insights or cool anecdotes, I just really, really like pizza.

Quarterback thing: Colin Kaepernick is getting shafted. Those who call him a traitor are morons. What is more American than protest? Standing up (or taking a knee) against injustice? And the cowardly NFL will not give him a job. GAH!

Rhyming thing: Can anyone adequately explain why Nickelback is so scorned? Yes, their songs rhyme, so do a lot of others. Their tunes are easy to sing? Ooo, big crime there. They are about regular life and memories and hopes for a better world? Am I the only one who’s listened to Green Day, U2, and the Kinks? So, yeah, I truly want to know why everyone hates Nickelback.

Sparkly thing: I am having a passionate love affair with ILNP nail polish.

ilnp

At $10 it’s at the high end of what I’ll spend for polish. It’s worth it. Wears really well. Easy to apply and remove. And so, so, so sparkly!

Togetherness thing: Mick was hosed out of working summer school and has been home fulltime since June. Yup, alllll day, everrrry day for the ENTIRE summer. And dig this, we’ve only had one fight. This is a record. Mick’s parents set a horrible example- they did EVERYTHING together! They never took vacations and didn’t ‘believe’ in babysitters thus Mick and his sister were forced into constant parental presence. Their whole life was a group endeavor. FIL retired early and spent the next 40 years trailing around after MIL. If she went to the garden he came too. A trip to the kitchen for a snack? FIL was hard on her heels. He even went to the beauty salon with her. And that is some serious encroachment on a sacred thing, no woman should have to deal with keeping her husband entertained while she gets her hair done. So my darling Irishman had some screwy ideas of what our life was supposed to be like when we first got together. We’ve duked it out for the past decade and have settled into a decent compromise on ‘me’ time and ‘we’ time. Only one fight this summer. I’m rather proud of us.

Unusual thing: The eclipse. A pretty ‘meh’ experience here in NY. I kept track on my computer then when it was time I went outside with a sheet of paper with a small hole in it. Held the paper out, looked at the tiny crescent on the slate sidewalk, shrugged, realized my bare feet were broiling on the hot slate, and came back in to brood in my chair and look at everybody else’s eclipse pics on FB.

Vexing thing: Having gotten myself into this I’m struggling now to finish it. Plus you’d think I’d have more to say since it’s been so long since I updated.

Walking thing: I have a step counter, it’s as basic as a sundial. I wear it attached to my work sneakers. Average distance covered during a 4 hour shift is 2.5 miles. Just about 6,000 steps. Of course I don’t walk at speed nor is it continuous, but it’s something.

X-tian thing: Funny, but the co-worker I share the most personality quirks and day-to-day attitude with is a hardcore Christian. J is kind and goofy and she and I dance at the least provocation. One time a bunch of us clocked in together and were heading as a group down to the department, I laughed and wondered aloud if we were the Sharks or the Jets. BOOM! J and I started snapping our fingers and busting out the Jerome Robbins moves. It’s not just pop culture stuff, she and I truly see so much from the same perspective, and it’s difficult for me to reconcile that my friend is one of ‘them’. She doesn’t proselytize but also isn’t hesitant to state her belief in God’s divine hand. Until J my experience with Christians both personally and in the larger sphere has been overwhelmingly negative. And yet my work friend isn’t ugly or cruel or hateful, all things I associate with ‘Christian’. I try to hold my friendship with J in front of me when I am tempted to ‘other’. I imagine she does too. Oooo, scary, liberal atheist out to get the God-fearing, Fox news watching, gun toting real Americans! Nope, it’s just LA who never hesitates to smile, give a compliment, or hold a 30 second dance party in aisle 14.

Yummy thing: Cauliflower rice. Mick’s diabetes has forced a radical change in our menus. Carbs being the biggest no-no, which effectively junked around 80% of my easy dinner dishes. Pasta? Gone. Beef stroganoff, goulash, all the other budget-friendly meat-stretching recipes served over egg noodles? Gone. Monte Christos, quesadillas, panini? Gone. Basically we’re living on salmon, chicken breasts, and steaks served with steamed veg. Mick is grateful and his health is tip-top, which is the most important thing, but I’m bored out of my skull and struggling to find things to add to the dinners for variety and to hopefully whittle down the expense of these protein bacchanalias. Enter cauliflower rice. Next up is cauliflower ‘mashed potatoes’. Whoo.

Zed thing:

zed 2

 

And those, my friends, are all the things from A-Z, ~LA

Seb and Silent Mom

2017080595073259I am not a cosplayer. Frankly, figuring out who I’m supposed to look like as my own self is difficult enough these days – that hugely fat, grouchy faced stranger in the mirror is NOT the me who lives in my head. Anyway, some weeks ago Sebastian came to me all dithery over something he’d seen on Kevin Smith’s twitter feed…

Kevin Smith? Director, screenwriter, and half of a duo of recurring characters who appear in almost all of his movies. As the starship Enterprise is the axis upon which the Star Trek universe revolves, so Jay and Silent Bob are for the View Askew universe. A pair of weed dealers who lean against walls in various locations in New Jersey and provide comic relief, continuity, an odd sort of moral philosophy, and occasionally a deus ex machina  for the nerd boys and garrulous slackers who populate Kevin Smith’s foul-mouthed yet romantic cinematic slices of life. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of ‘Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash’ – the real life comic book shop and home base for the AMC reality show ‘Comic Book Men’ – Kev and company were throwing a party. Not just a party but an assemblage of enough Jay and Silent Bob cosplayers to break the Guinness Book World Record of Jay and Silent Bobs in one place.

jay bob

This is us. I am on the extreme far left leaning against the fence with my elbow. If you can’t pick me out, no worries, it was wiggy enough to be IN this crowd. Sebastian made an excellent Jay, btw. A nearly note-perfect get-up and quote source. It was gratifying to see my son so animated and engaged! Life with Mom and Mick isn’t lively. Work, chores, school, the occasional movie, meh. So the opportunity to jaunt off with my kid to do something wacky and strange was GREAT! The 2+ hour drive made in the wee sma’s in a fricken MONSOON, the make-up and 15lb leather trench coat, the endless standing and queueing, fuh, all worth it. Sebastian was over the moon! And that, even without the delight of interacting with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes as a fan myself, oy, my son’s joy was priceless.

Once your kids are grown the opportunities to do cool shit with them drop to nearly zero. Thanks to Sebastian’s peculiar (?), exhausting, okay…fucking BRUTAL early years he and I missed out on many, many memory making moments. So to be invited along to something like this? A mile marker on Seb’s lifeline? Yeah, screw the 3:00am departure time, the frightening torrential downpour, the parkway tolls, and construction detours, and the physical punishment…….I did something FUN with my son!

For that I’d endure anything.

 

20170805_102542

Heh.

In the setting up and importing pics and formatting this entry I needed Sebastian’s help. The frustration and outright disgust from him! I don’t understand why he’s so angry. For real. I am sooo sorry I don’t understand how to do these ‘simple’ things. Silly stupid me wasting brain space on 54 years of memories, history, science, experience, and dopey shit like recipes, movie and book plots, music, current events, how to drive a stick shift, first aid, stats, culture, how to weight a ceiling fan so it doesn’t wobble, HIS ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE, the infield fly rule, DMV requirements in NY, paleontology, comparative religions, how to crochet mittens and sear sea scallops, Steve Buscemi’s public biography, the fees and operating hours of the Walden Humane Society animal shelter, how to identify and treat Lyme disease, Fiorello LaGuardia reading the comics, etc, etc, etc…

laguardia comics

My hard drive is so, so, so full.

I would truly like to believe that Sebastian’s distress is simply the gap between his view and mine. But having been married to his father and knowing firsthand the Aspie disconnect between THEIR feelings and assessments and those of us on the accepted ‘normal’ scale I know my younger son is ‘off’. I get it. Sebastian and those on his spectrum are a one-way street. YOU do for them, they do NOT do for you.

This sucks. It sucks big time.

What? Are those who interact with the autistic automatically nominated for sainthood? Is our need for a social quid pro quo…gosh, is it always to be forfeit?

Interacting with the autistic is hard cheese all around? Tough shit?

I object.

I am NOT saying the autistic are unworthy of love. Nor am I advocating they be punished for behaviors they cannot help. All I ask is those who don’t skew as ‘different’ have some compassion. I just spent quite a bit of time describing an adventure and how grateful I was to have shared it with my kid and BOOM! Within minutes he shamed and hurt me and sucked away all the happiness I had from our time together Saturday. Because I wasn’t ‘perfect’. Nevermind HE’S not perfect; all that counts to Aspies is how everyone else disappoints them.

Take a day off from work? No. Assemble a decent costume and spend $17 on contour sticks and eyebrow pencils to fake a beard? No. Get up at 2:30am? No. MapQuest and navigate the 112 miles between here and Red Bank, New Jersey? No. Pay for tolls, gas, and parking? No. Get sopping wet while parking the car and then stand in line for four and a half hours in an intermittent drizzle without coffee or food (IBS issues) and maintain smile and enthusiasm? No. Sign legal documents and then be herded into a holding pen to stand around for another 3 hours cheering on command and providing ‘B’ roll for camera guys? No. On and on. Not once did I allow my physical distress and boredom show. Because I love Sebastian and only wanted him to have the best memories of this crazy goofy thing we did together. BUT because I asked for help with a blog post and was less than a star pupil about some computer crap IT’S ALL RUINED and I’M A SUCKY PERSON!

See how this goes with them? Mike the ex, Alex the elder son, and now Sebastian the younger son? They demand the impossible and give NOTHING in return. And I’m supposed to be okay with this. More so, grateful. Then if I exhibit frailty or confusion or any need of my own…ka-BLAM! I’m dead. I’ve become an enemy and a shit and a betrayer.

I am so tired of this. Do NOT talk to me about ‘accepting’ and fucking ‘celebrating’ the autistic and their ‘unique’ perspective. Their ‘unique’ perspective is soul crushing and endlessly painful. It requires sacrifice beyond the impossible. It demands you give and give and give and are immediately punished for anything less than saintly perfection and complete self abnegation.

All I wanted was to do a cool thing with my kid and make a happy blog post about it.

How foolish of me.

I did, however, help set a world record and sometime next season will be on an episode of ‘Comic Book Men’. I even get an IMDB credit out of it.

 

Pained, humiliated, and struggling to make a feast from scraps as usual, ~LA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things That Rhyme With ‘Ohs’

“Where do you get your pedicures?”

This being the question I put to several co-workers last week. About half the time the reply was the name of this salon or that. The other half garnered me such incredulous looks as if I’d asked, “Do you eat boogers?” or “Where do you perform human sacrifice?” The former acted with such revulsion! “Let someone touch my feet? YUCK!” And the latter found the question so beyond their experience I might as well have been asking about ritual murder. “Pedicures? Is that even a thing?” Their confusion and astonishment made me want to pat them soothingly and make the scary question go away.

The only reason I was asking is because I’d foolishly invited my sister to join me at a nail salon for that most girly bonding experience- the adjacent pedicure. Hey, I was scrambling for something to do which would let us talk…but in a public enough space to avoid any true intimacy. Keeping my dippy hot mess of a sister and her Lifetime channel dramatic life at arm’s length from my hard won tidy peace and happy family is necessary. Besides, I’m pretty sure she’s in no big rush to have her judgmental difficult bossypants sister all up in her biz either. Gidget was glad enough for an activity to share. In the end we met up at my usual nail place, whereupon we both sprang for the ‘spa’ pedicure and I held it together when Gidget did the “Only you, Leelee” eye roll as I caught up with Jon and asked after his family in my rudimentary Vietnamese. Ditto when I got another eye roll and condescending smirk when I said something to her about my bee meadow.

See? This is why I’ve absented myself from my crummy family for so many years. Imagine the fury I felt at being smirked at for conversing with my favorite nail tech in his native language, and being scorned for making a habitat for bees! You know, the pollinators for 75% of our fricken FOOD? But to my ignorant dipwit sister I’m an object of mirth and scorn for doing ‘weird’ shit like teaching myself Vietnamese and doing something useful like planting flowers and housing bees.

On one hand I couldn’t care less, but on the other it’s maddening to be smirked at and mocked by a stupid person. It’s like trying to deal with Trump voters. Yes, the Dunning-Kruger effect is in full force here, but it’s small solace.

So. Zero points and half a bottle of Tums to me on the topic of ‘toes’.

I had more but I’m too grouchy now.

 

Good night, Lovies. ~LA