Tag Archives: Back in the day

reading, writing and reasonableness

18 Sep

I am pro-school.

Pro-education.

Pro-academia.

Pro-books, college-rule paper, graph paper, poster board, dictionaries, pink erasers, messy desks, atlases, recesses and fresh bottles of Elmer’s School Glue.

I love history, and hate math, like a normal person. I still grimace at the memory of the Presidential Fitness test, in which the only event I could complete with any confidence was the Shuttle Run. (Only recently did it occur to me President Reagan didn’t wake up, do his Chin-Ups, the Sit & Reach and the Shuttle Run before heading over to the Oval Office to keep “Red Dawn” from happening in real life. If he was making us do the Shuttle Run, he should have been doing it too.)

Like you, I took Home Economics, Drama, Band, Journalism, Speech & Debate, Photography and German. And, like you, it turns out I was terrible at some things and pretty good at other things, which I guess, is one of the coolest parts of our shared human experience.

But now I’m grown and don’t remember any German and as my kids will be quick to tell you, very little Home Ec. I have a high school sophomore and a fourth grader which gives us an uncomfortable front row seat to how much school has changed since the olden days, and how it has also weirdly stayed the same.

I never thought though, when I was actively hating Algebra from my graffiti-ridden classroom desk (only minimal graffiti from me) that I would one day get to re-live it through my kids, and hate it all over again, all the while wondering if I should pretend that I love it and use it all the time. “Just the other day, I was trying to figure out how much wall-to-wall shag carpet I would need, while slicing a pie ten ways, and figuring out how many rulers I can buy with 11 cents.”

Somehow, totally objective black and white math is different, having made way for creative thinking and areas of gray; adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing – the terminology is different, the methods are new.

Apparently my 1984 method of multiplying is the Shuttle Run of Math. I haven’t been excited to learn the new stuff, until this week. When the fourth grader unzipped his backpack, pulled out the red homework folder (the folder of doom), and a workbook sheet, simply entitled, “Reasonableness.”

Reasonableness

His assignment and lesson for the day was… Reasonableness.

Johan is selling baseball cards for $.45 apiece. He is selling 8 cards and says he’ll make $32.40

Now, is that reasonable? No, it’s not. Johan is being ridiculous.

I’ve never been more excited about new math! In fact, I think half of a school year could easily be spent on this one topic. The other half can go to state capitals and quiet reading, but September through mid-January? Reasonableness. In fact, more kids should major in Reasonableness, and shoot for the stars, break the glass ceiling and become Doctors of Reasonableness!

Why stop at Reasonableness?

“What do you have 3rd period?”

“Humility. You?”

“Oh, I have Honor.”

“Honors English?”

“No, just Honor.”

“Oh, right, I hear the teacher’s amazing.”

Generosity. Self-Control. Respect. Perseverance. Humor. Spelling for the Texting Generation. Common Sense.

I’ve started planning the curriculum.

Johan has two hours to get his homework done, do his chores, eat dinner, and enjoy some time spent talking to the family who loves him and wants to hear about his day. Knowing homework takes an hour, chores take 15 minutes, dinner usually a half hour, and that his parents love him very much, how much time should Johan budget for Snapchat? No, Johan, not two hours.

Your mom’s had a long day of… laundry? Looking at your baby pictures? Working? Coming up with stuff to bug you about? (Who knows what moms do all day, am I right?) Anyway, she looks more tired than usual. She is holding a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket and a frozen bag of peas. Is it a good idea to say, “Is that what we’re having for dinner?” No, Johan, it is not.

You use the last of the paper in your shared printer. Do you a) alert somebody b) pretend you did not notice and hurry away c) walk the 10 feet to the storage closet, get a fresh ream of paper, and fill the tray? You fill the dang tray, Johan.

Here, let me give you the answers for the next ten questions.

Hold the door.

Give him his money back.

Don’t say anything to her.

Tell him, but in the kindest way possible.

Put gas in the tank.

Write a thank you note.

Manage your expectations.

Take out the garbage.

Invite her to go with you.

Leave the 20% tip.

And don’t forget about the advanced course everybody should aspire to – Reasonableness with Oneself.

It’s been the longest week ever. Your kid, Johan has been a real handful. You haven’t been to the gym, and it feels like forever since you’ve practiced a Shuttle Run. Everybody else makes it to the gym; why can’t you? Everybody else has it together. Why don’t you? Everybody else knows what they’re doing with their life, why don’t you?

Correct Answer: Nobody has it together all of the time, and don’t worry about what those other people are doing. You got a chicken and a vegetable on the table this week, and kept your cool with Johan, and that’s pretty good. Take a nap, watch some TV, and just like, make yourself a really good to-do list for next week. It’s reasonable to assume that next week, is totally your week.

Thanks for reading. If you’re not too busy trying to figure out new math, follow me on Instagram, @colleenweems

you know more than you think you do (and don’t let those kids tell you otherwise)

24 Jun

FC Note

Most of them probably know better than to say it out loud, but I’m quite certain all of our kids collectively think we are idiots. I may not know how to start, stop, or pause a movie using Playstation controllers (I mean, those things don’t make any sense at all, I don’t even feel bad) So when my 9-year-old patiently holds out his hand for me to hand him whatever it is that doesn’t seem to be working, I have to audibly remind myself, and him, that I really do know quite a lot of stuff.  I’m guessing you do too, my fellow adult. And you know what? A good chunk of the stuff we know, is stuff those kids will never know. I almost feel sorry for them.

I was chatting about this at a graduation party with some savvy, know-a-lot, grown-up-lady friends. As required by the unwritten rules of attending a graduation party, we were lamenting the passage of time, and wondering what happened to those sweet little babies who used to think we were amazing. How can it be nearing the time for us to release them into the world?

I mean, they don’t even know how to properly put on pantyhose.

It’s a lost art. An art, we agreed, that might just disappear when we do. We know to scrunch the pantyhose down, and point our toes, after making sure there is not a jagged finger or toe nail in a five-mile radius. We expertly substitute the word “nylons” whenever we feel like it. I bet those kids don’t even know they can stop a run with clear nail polish.

You know what? If our lives depended on us neatly folding a note with a convenient pull-tab, to pass to a co-worker after the staff meeting, we could do it. I could do it in about 5 seconds, and have written your name and drawn stars all over it, and passed it to you without anybody else noticing.

We can tape a song from the radio onto a cassette. We may get a little bit of the DJ talking over the beginning of the song, but we could do it. Oh you don’t have a cassette player? Allow me to burn you a mix CD.

We can roller skate…backwards… on 8 wheels. If my knees weren’t bad, I would totally show you.

We can use a card catalog. And a Spiegel’s catalog. We could order blazers right now – in crimson AND navy – without ever having to get on a computer.

We can use an encyclopedia and a telephone book and a payphone and a Thomas Guide, and a microfiche machine. I think I have as many microfiche hours under my belt as I do parenting hours.

We know how to use an answering machine, a Walkman, a Discman, a floppy disc, and a fax machine. Granted, fax machines are the worst, but I can fax the heck out of an invoice or an insurance form.

We can fold maps, and we…can…fold…NEWSPAPERS.

FC Newspaper

Here’s my oldest kiddo, actively not knowing how to fold a newspaper.

We know how to make phone calls, and receive phone calls without being weird about it.

We know how to take care of a perm.

We know how to put a roll of film in to, and take it out of, a camera.

We knew how to find whoever was giving us a ride home from school/a concert/a movie with no phone to coordinate. It was practically like Outward Bound, or that show with Bear Grylls where you have to eat like, a pinecone in the wilderness, and look to the stars for guidance. It was almost exactly like that.

We know to program a VCR, and in a twist of fate, we know how to teach a mom how to program a VCR.

And though it’s not a skill, I’m grateful to have known the joy of a Jell-O pudding pop, how gross coffee used to be, and the satisfaction of reaching the end of a perfectly typed line on a typewriter.

And so, to the kids who think we’re idiots: don’t get too comfortable. The stuff you know today is cool, and great, and I would never wish irrelevancy on your burgeoning skills. But your day will come. And by “your day” I mean our day…the day you say, “I need to put on pantyhose/fax this form…..where’s my mom?”

how to bore yourself into having the best summer you will never forget.

12 Jun

FC REading

The Summer we…. read every day in these exact same positions

We’re all supposed to be experts. Especially if we dare write now and then, and then ask people to read it, we should have asserted our expertise in something. I have acquired mastery in a few things – obviously, cream cheese based dips, Disneyland, the long-gone TV shows Alias, and wearing t-shirts. I believe the term we are looking for to describe a person with this specific skillset and knowledge base, is lifestyle expert.

As a lifestyle expert, who, like you, is looking at weeks of summer stretching out ahead, I am anxious to get started filling those long summer days with the exact stuff that will make for great memories. I want this selfishly for me and, more selfishly, for my boys so they will someday reminisce with their own kids about how much fun they had with their amazing parents, and then for those future mystery kids to say, “Wow; Grandma and Grandpa are the best.”

“Well,” you might be saying, “tell us, Lifestyle Expert…tell us how to make a summer that we’ll never forget.”

After 40 summers of in-depth field research, the solution is clear: find something – even a tepid, mildly fun something – and then do it a lot. No! It’s not about manufacturing a new adventure every day! The key is intentionally indulgent repetition.

Look back at your own summers. No matter what cool big stuff you did, I’m guessing those long warm days blur together, and the parts of the blur you remember are: popsicles, water fights, sunburns, lounging around a pool/lake/park/beach with your friends, whatever your 4th of July tradition was, and probably a regular family trip to the mountains/lake/ocean/desert/city/backyard tent.

My kids may only have relatively few summers under their mom-made-us-wear-these belts, but they already start their reminiscing about just last summer with “We always…..” and then fill in the blanks like a couple of weathered older guys sitting on a porch, talking dreamily about their (mandatory) weekly trips to the library and subsequent reading time on the couch; and trudging through the cold San Francisco fog to the damp and dreary playground, and then to the burrito place, the market, and the pet store. Even lucky enough to take a dream vacation around the East Coast, our 9-year-old never fails to bring up how what he loved most were those nights we got back to our hotel room just in time to watch “The Tonight Show.” In 30 years, he may not really remember Paul Revere’s House, but I guarantee you, he’ll remember all of us, exhausted, sore, and punchy, lying there in the hotel air conditioning watching Jimmy Fallon.

I think of my own summers, and I instantly recall running errands with my mom every Monday. We’d zip around town in our giant Chrysler Cordoba, stopping at the bank, the post office, and finally McDonald’s, where I would think about how much paperwork is required to be an adult. It was easily 100 degrees every one of those Mondays, and my skin would sizzle against the car seats, and heaven forbid, the metal seatbelts. I’m sure I was a real peach when it was time to start our weekly Monday adventures, but, little did I know, in 30 years, I would treasure those trips as well as weeknight tennis with my dad. Not Wimbledon, or Palm Springs tennis, just regular old Tuesday night tennis on the old courts by the town’s recycling center.

Happy blurs aren’t just for childhoods. I treasure the summer I discovered the white wine spritzer, and the summer my self-tanner was full of *@&%$# glitter, and those 92 mostly-summer couch dates with my husband watching “Mad Men,” and the summer I listened to the new Franz Ferdinand album over and over, and the pre-drought summer I came home from work most nights to squirt the kids with a hose, (in a very classy sophisticated way before drinking my white wine spritzer).

Let’s look ahead to Summer 2016, and come up with some possibilities for stuff you always used to do in the Summer of 2015.

Remember last summer when we….

  • played Uno on the porch every night?
  • ate all that watermelon?
  • went to the library and checked out every one of Judy Blume’s/Beverly Cleary’s/David Sedaris’/Nora Ephron’s books? (They may not all be excellent choice’s for 9-year-olds.)
  • watched every episode of _____________. I hear they’re making a movie of it. That will be great!/terrible! (The Lifestyle Expert recommends “CHiPs.” It works well, because it is hilarious, and they are making a movie of it.)
  • Ate lunch in the park every weekend?
  • Always rode bikes to get Slurpees? But then we had to drink them in front of the store because we are not skilled enough cyclists to hold our Slurpees and steer our bikes.
  • Got really in to the Giants? (The Lifestyle Expert recommends this. The Giants are the best.)
  • Learned how to do calligraphy? And then we wrote everything with our special pens all summer long, and then school started, so we had to stop and go back to boring cursive, and now I need to re-learn calligraphy.
  • Cooked our way through So-and-So’s cookbook? (The Lifestyle Expert is not an expert in this area.)
  • It doesn’t matter. Put whatever you want here. Put in the bank, the post office, the cracked tennis courts.

Sure, plan a grand adventure here and there, and enjoy every second of it! Big adventures are good for the soul. But, expertly speaking, make a lot of room for the nothing-special stuff too. You just don’t know how special that nothing may turn out to be.

FC Cordoba

Me, my mom, and our Chrysler Cordoba, in the summer.

The Zero Years: Hitting 40 (or 30, or 50) and Hitting Reset

27 Feb

40 outfit

I was sure this outfit made me look 20

When I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine what the adult version of me would look like. The only image I could picture was a generic brunette woman in high heels, miraculously free of freckles, holding a stylish clutch in one hand, and the upturned collar of a plaid blazer with the other – an image I probably borrowed from a model in a 1984 Spiegel catalog. I think I thumbed through the catalog’s pages and picked a future Colleen with just as much thought as it would have taken to decide upon the high-waisted, poly-blend, machine washable day-to-night stretch slacks that Colleen was wearing (slacks available in brown, black, crimson and navy).

But now, here I am – the adult Future Me; I’ve finally caught up with myself and am admittedly more excited to see what my kids will look like in 10 years, than what I will look like.

The arrival of Future Me has been on my mind for a couple of reasons. Not only does this week mark the one-year anniversary of the start of my saga with an incapacitating mystery brain illness and its iffy-turned-outstanding prognosis, but also, and more alarmingly….people born the same year as me have started turning 40.

We, the 1974ers, have been standing here holding our breath, waiting for our turn to jump into the 40’s abyss…an abyss I’m guessing smells like coffee, wine, car wax, chia seeds, and New Year’s Resolution gym sweat. We’ve already made our way through the 30’s abyss that was rife with kale, other wine, Black Fridays, parenting tips, and 5K’s.

I’ve been watching people gracefully handle their Zero Years– whether it’s 30, 40, 50, 60 or beyond – and how they choose to handle the new beginning the Zero allows them. They take a big trip, have a party, or sign up for a marathon. They write about it, too. They soul search, make a decision, change their hair, change their career, make a resolution, let go of something painful and, if all goes well, see the Zero for what it really is – a privilege.

We’ve made it! We’ve made it and the Zero rewards us with a chance to reset. Maybe we’ve been clinging a little too hard to that 9 year, but when we get to the Zero, it’s not an end, it’s a beginning; it’s a relief, and it’s a big deal.

Sure, 40 marks the beginning of getting to say “20 years ago” and still refer to a time in our adulthood. We check a different demographic box on the survey. We remember our parents in their 40’s when we thought they were so old. But now we know – they weren’t old, we were just young and dumb. It’s time to accept the reality that the NFL won’t be drafting us, and we might not get the chance to give the Academy Awards speech we wrote when we were 10.

But maybe we’re finally kinder to ourselves, and to each other while still enjoying the youthful luxury of expecting the best from ourselves, and each other. Maybe we’re still (or again) struggling to figure ourselves out. We’ve amassed actual life experience, and pray that it lifts us up instead of weighing us down. We’ve made mistakes, and we’ll make more, but maybe we’ll lean on that experience, and make smaller ones and fewer of them. Hopefully the Zero brings the wisdom that we’re not alone in this – whatever our “this” is.

It’s nice to have the company, and maybe in an inevitable moment of weakness, when we are comparing ourselves to each other and evaluating who’s accomplished what by when, the Zero will help us remember that not one of us is doing it exactly right, or exactly wrong. We each have sweetly unique stories to tell, augmented by all those Zeroes. I remind myself of this every day – when I’m feeling a bit lost, or unsure, or uppity.  I reminded myself of this when my husband woke up on his 40th birthday, and somehow looked younger than he did the day before.

Let’s help each other greet the next decade warmly so we can move on to the next thing like “make dental appointment” and “take up the bass guitar,” and let’s be happy we made it all the way to Zero.

Happy 40th to all my fellow 1974 babies. By the way, 1974 gave the world a lot of stuff: “Happy Days,” “Good Times,” “Little House on the Prairie,” Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” Stephen King’s “Carrie,” and Carl Bernstein’s “All the President’s Men.” 1974 brought you Leonardo DiCaprio, Jimmy Fallon, Elizabeth Banks, Christian Bale, Tiffani Amber-Thiessen, Lark Voorhies and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (that’s most of the “Saved by the Bell” cast right there), Ryan Seacrest, Amy Adams, Nelly, Cee Lo Green, Victoria Beckham, Derek Jeter, Lil Kim, Steve Nash, Carrie Brownstein, Kate Moss, Penelope Cruz, Alanis Morissette, Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes, Jenna Fischer, Mekhi Phifer, Bear Grylls, Jewel, Da Brat and Hilary Swank. You have 1974 to thank for “Blazing Saddles,” “The Sting,” “The Godfather: Part II,” “Chinatown,” “Young Frankenstein,” ”The Conversation,” “The Towering Inferno,” and “Murder on the Orient Express.” In 1974, Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s timeless hit “Takin’ Care of Business,” was released as were Steve Miller’s “The Joker,” and Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets.” Don’t forget Connect 4, the Magna Doodle, Post-It Notes, the Rubik’s Cube, Hello Kitty, Dungeons & Dragons, liposuction, the Heimlich Maneuver, and Richard Nixon’s resignation. 

40 bakingI got my 40-year-old lady haircut when I was 12.

You can find me on Instagram at colleenweems,

and Twitter @FulcrumChron

The Accidental Time Capsule: I was in Physics Club?

11 Oct

xrayIt’s been six months since we moved into our new place, and I ran across that box. “Oh, I know the one,” you might say, “Coat hangers, expired coupons, a tangle of wires that probably belonged to John’s college stereo, and the mail that was delivered on the day you moved?” Nope, not that box. I already unpacked that one!

I’m talking about the other one.

The box with:

  • The long-forgotten jr. high yearbooks full of awkward brace-face kids in acid wash jeans, who, right now, all across this land, are awkwardly parenting their own brace-face kids in skinny jeans.
  • The senior yearbook, with all of the hand-written notes promising to be friends forever, never imagining we would have to keep that promise on Facebook 20 years later. I immediately sat down with a cup of tea and flipped through it because…because I am a human, and my kids were at school. Man, we were young, and because we were a generation that lived our teenage years before the flat iron, our hair was so…fluffy. I have my share of memory issues these days, but I thought I remembered everything from high school.  I was in Physics Club??
  • The weathered copy of Biography Magazine from September of 1998 with a winsome memorial portrait of Princess Diana on the cover along with the ratty address label from our poorly insulated newlywed apartment.
  • The oversized manila envelope containing x-rays of the poor guy from the Operation game my wonky knee.  The cap part of the knee sits unnaturally askew, and a cartoonish but clear-as-day silhouette jumps right off the plastic page – a standard Home Depot screw that was drilled straight into my knee bone. (That’s the one between the shin and thigh bones, correct? )
  • An address book made obsolete a decade ago by our globe-trotting, transient cadre of friends. (Does anybody need to know where they lived in 1997?). The cover of the address book is Renoir’s painting, “Luncheon of the Boating Party,” purchased during my first grown-up shopping spree that also included my first business suit (wool, navy, pleated, unflattering), a big wicker hamper, and a sauté pan.

At the bottom of the box are the heavy books that once sat on a bookshelf we no longer own in a home we no longer own: a tome about California’s cities by one of my favorite college professors; a book on the 1992 Los Angeles riots seemingly published as the riots were still happening; and the 1992 Newspaper Designer’s Handbook that simultaneously overestimated the future existence of newspapers and underestimated the impact of technology on the once-safe field of newspaper journalism. I refuse to get rid of it. It might still come in handy.

When we moved from the suburbs to the city earlier this year, we downsized our belongings by 40-50%, yet the stuff in this box remained creating an unofficial, accidental time capsule – one I did not even put together myself. I’d been out of the hospital for a few days when John, and his quiet army of thankfully non-judgmental volunteers, helped get our move started while I lay in the other room eating Jell-O.

In recent years, I’ve really worked on overcoming my pack-rat tendencies, and tried not to be so sentimental about stuff. This stuff though? This stuff made it this far, and through multiple moves. It could stay. I separated the box’s contents, and they were quickly absorbed by the rest of our belongings – a shelf here, a cabinet there – with the 1992 Newspaper Designer’s Handbook at my bedside for quick reference.

Also, I just ordered my son’s 8th grade yearbook, and it’s time to put down the tea cup, stop looking backward for a while, and focus on a freckly face that will soon appear in the pages of that book.

*The pic up there? That’s my knee, and my hardware.

** That down there is from my senior yearbook. That’s me, at 17, with my new wave/middle aged lady haircut.

Image

sunburnt: a summer (cautionary) tale

9 Jul

Image

There are a few minor adult ailments that might be described as humbling. The first of the non-graphic variety rhymes with… tangover.

The second – a summer staple, perhaps next to the tangover – is the sunburn.

Maybe you are of Irish descent, and you have freckles, and you spent 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s summers with ineffective and/or expired SPF 4 slathered on your parts, only to have the lotion rinse immediately off on the first pass through the sprinklers, or with the first toe dipped in the pool, or with the first sweat broken. Maybe you decided you were better off with an unflattering oversized t-shirt covering your bathing suit – a shirt that became a 40-lb anchor once you jumped in the pool.

Maybe you are an olive skinned beach beauty who’s only had to look with pity at one of us less fortunate folks, roaming the sweltering grounds of the state fair, pink and defeated.

As a grown-up, I listen to my doctors. I wear sunscreen on my face every day. I wear a hat. I sit in the shade. I even went so far as to move to the foggy part of a notoriously foggy city. This ain’t my first rodeo – I’ve been burnt before. (I have been to a rodeo, but it was at night, so I was not actually burnt at the rodeo.)

I was burnt in the usual locales – the pool, the park, the passenger seat of a car, the driver’s seat of a car, the back yard, the front yard, and while sitting on a bench/blanket/lawn eating a sandwich/popsicle/cheeseburger.

In college and during that sliver of time in which I wore a bikini, my then-boyfriend/ now-husband and I uncharacteristically spent the day jet skiing on Lake Tahoe. It turns out Lake Tahoe is closer to the sun than I am used to. The jet-skiing part exposed enough parts of me – top, bottom, front, and back – to make sleep impossible as there was not one way to avoid resting on a throbbing purple and blistered patch of skin. I was out of commission for two days, calling in sick to my barista job, and freaking my mom out with sunburn fueled hallucinations.

In high school, I went to the mid-day Oakland A’s baseball game with friends.  Our upper deck seats put me at roughly the same elevation as Lake Tahoe. As I rode back home, rolling around in the back of my friend’s grandma’s old van, I knew I was in for a world of hurt. I couldn’t bend my knobby violently violet knees and the blisters were already presenting themselves. It was days before I could ride my bike.

Over the next 20 years my baseball outings were relegated to night games, or day games at the San Francisco Giants’ ball park where one usually freezes one’s rear end off, regardless of what weather is happening immediately outside the gates. But July 4, 2013 – armed with a hat, two tubes of sunscreen, and an additional precautionary spray from my friend Megan’s sunscreen can- I re-entered Oakland Coliseum at mid-day, ready for my show-down with the sun.

Our kids had been lined up in the parking lot and sprayed down with an additional protective layer of cream over their little faces, necks, and the oft-forgotten tops of ears.

Somewhere in the 2nd inning, I took off the knee brace that protects my wonky joint but makes my leg fall asleep when I sit for very long. Maybe it was my hops-based beverage in a souvenir mug. Maybe it was the nostalgic and patriotic delight of being with friends at a baseball game on the 4th of July. Whatever it was, I missed sun-screening my darn knee. On that day, in the stadium cleverly designed to focus the sun’s powerful rays on whatever seat my pale limbs occupy, the sun won.

Our friends from New Mexico emerged from the game looking as if they had been kissed by the sun. (Fun “fact”: New Mexico’s climate was designed to resemble that of the Oakland Coliseum, so they had the advantage going in.)

My little family unit walked to the car with 7 pink knees, and one familiar-looking, raging violet knee.  I knew I what I was in for.

Beginning with the failed attempt at prevention, your general sunburn experience might look a little like this:

  • You feel false confidence that you’ve done enough to protect yourself
  • As the sun goes to work on you, you remain blissfully ignorant
  • You congratulate yourself for wearing shorts and a tank top because it’s so hot
  • Your friend slides her sunglasses down her nose, peers at your afflicted area, alerts you to your pinkness, and pokes it with her finger
  • You put on another layer of sunscreen or move to the shade, knowing it’s already too late
  • You realize it’s going to hurt
  • It hurts
  • You wonder if it should really be as purple as it is
  • It hurts more than it did before
  • You vow never to wear a tank top and shorts again, let alone go in the sun
  • You love aloe
  • You love aloe so much
  • You consider filling the tub with aloe and sitting in there for a while
  • Nobody is allowed to touch you
  • You do not sleep
  • You can’t stop talking about your sunburn, as much as you want to
  • Your mom tells you not to worry, it will fade into a tan
  • You assure her that it most certainly will not fade into a tan
  • She remembers that she and your brother are the only family members who enjoy the “fades into a tan” phenomenon
  • You realize the burn does not hurt as bad as it did yesterday
  • It’s itchy now, a sure sign it will peel soon
  • It peels
  • It’s peeling and you feel like a lizard, and you have finally found the one thing that grosses out your boys so it’s kind of funny

All the while, and just like with a tangover (I’m guessing) you waiver between feeling sorry for yourself, and feeling like an idiot.

You should know better. You cooked your own goose. Or in this case, you cooked your own knees.

Image

* At the top is our actual sun prevention collection. It is strategically spaced through the house, so that by the time you reach the front door, you will have had three to four opportunities to remember it.

**This is me and my awesome friend Megan at that fateful game. I’m the one in the stripes. The one with the freckles. The one who’s legs are sizzling just out of frame.

sounds even better now

14 Nov

When you become a person of a certain age – no longer a freewheeling 37, but not yet a contemplative 39 – you might find yourself in a curious spot. You are continuously being propelled deeper into adulthood by health, family, bills, career, and a waning metabolism. At the same time, you are still tethered to your youth… maybe by your family, your hometown, memories of your old metabolism, and quite possibly by something very simple – your music.

And when you are of that certain age, the bands that shaped your adolescence are also of a certain age – older than they used to be – but still performing. You buy tickets to their show, maybe at a county fair, or a casino, or a vineyard instead of the huge arena where you couldn’t find your mom’s car in the parking lot, and you felt lost and panicky, wishing for the invention of some kind of portable telephone you could carry with you.

As an adult, you arrive at the vineyard, prepared to defend yourself from the mobs of pushing teens you remember having to navigate as a scrawny concert-going kid. Then you see those unruly teens have grown up too, and they’ve spread their picnic blanket next to yours, and they are kicked back on the lawn ready to reminisce with a glass of chardonnay and their spouse of 10 years.  You are chagrined to see that your-now-middle-age-teen-idol still insists on not wearing a shirt to perform, and that you will not get to say to your fellow revelers, “Stop stepping on me with your giant Doc Martens!” Or “You kicked me in the face with your giant Doc Marten when you were crowd surfing. Not cool man…not cool.”

My suburban high school sat geographically equidistant from the surprisingly urbane streets of Sacramento and the rolling countryside of the Sierra foothills. We had rap kids and country kids. We had wannabe Rastafarians and punks and metal heads and teenyboppers and kids who undulated between all of the above, simply because they could. (Kids in my high school also loved Jimmy Buffett, RUSH, the Grateful Dead, Journey, Van Halen and The Steve Miller Band – and I don’t know what to say to them, because those bands were already old way back then.)

Like most high schools since the advent of music, and I guess since the advent of high schools, social divisions could easily be drawn by musical tastes, that is until Seattle based grunge exploded, which happened my senior year. It didn’t matter where your musical allegiance had been – you still turned up “Smells Like Teen Spirit” when it came on the radio.

Not to worry, I’m not stuck in my high school years; I’ve picked up new bands along the way. I don’t wear my once favorite Edie Brickell, OMD, or EMF shirts to the gym. (Even if I went the to gym, I wouldn’t wear them).

I do feel like I’ve been lucky enough to have some of my favorite bands stick around to provide new soundtracks for my adulthood. Depeche Mode and Duran Duran are still together, and touring. The Cure, as far as I can tell, is still together. REM broke up the same day Facebook launched a redesign, sending Gen Xers everywhere into a collective tizzy. We sadly lost MCA of the Beastie Boys to cancer. Last year, I had to block Erasure from my Facebook feed, because the frequency of their posts was simply out of control. Somewhere along the way, I lost They Might Be Giants to children’s music, perhaps when they started having children themselves. The Smiths, of course, had already been long broken up by the time I got around to appreciating them. Now after, 35 years, INXS has officially called it quits.

INXS was special. The car ride to Oregon with my childhood friend Jenni and her unfailingly patient parents was defined by repeated playing of our Kick cassette. Kick was the first tape I wore out, listening over and over until the perfect voice of Michael Hutchence was left warped and  garbled.

My mother’s own unfailing patience allowed me to go to the INXS concert the night before my huge junior year project was due. I was hoarse from screaming “I love you Michael,” and delirious from seats so close to the stage that Michael Hutchence had surely heard me. I was home by midnight to finish the paper, and asleep by 4:00 am, my mother by my side the whole time. I love her.

Someone stole my “Welcome to Wherever You Are” CD during a party in our freshman dorm suite, even though Michael, Tim, Jon, Garry, Andrew and Kirk (my second favorite) watched protectively from the poster on the wall, and the guys of The Cure kept vigil from their spot, one poster over.

I surely wasn’t the only young adult to cry when Michael suddenly died in 1997.

The band’s televised quest for a new lead singer, “Rock Star: INXS” played in the delivery room, a happy distraction in between contractions as John and I waited for the birth of our second son in 2005. Oh, how I am not kidding at all.

But you grow up a little, and you don’t buy the new albums, but you go back to the songs you sang in the car with your friends. You go back to the song you listened to with your boyfriend, only to find out he was mostly tolerating INXS because you liked them so much, which apparently was a good idea, because you married him. And when you read the headline telling you your special band broke up, you feel a little guilty, like if you had been a better fan, they could have made it. And you feel guilty because the way you found out they were still together, is by hearing they had broken up.

I’ve used these photos before – but I love them. That up there is my sophomore dorm, and my INXS poster. Down here? Freshman dorm…and the guys from INXS, though you can’t see their noggins.