Spirituality. Or something.

3 05 2013

While jokingly discussing past lives in the car today:

Her: I was a piece of hair in my last life that got pulled out.

Me: Wait. That GOT pulled out? Or that GOD pulled out?

Her: GOT.

Me: Oh I thought you meant God. Like, maybe God is this guy with really amazing hair, but he has an anxiety disorder so he pulls out his hairs and every time he pulls one out, it falls to earth and becomes a human.

*pause*

Her: I think every time I pull out a hair, I’m actually killing a person.

Me: Wait. Are we the gods? Or are we god’s hairs?

Her: We’re the gods.

Me: Maybe it’s like the Neverending Story. We’re the hairs of God and we’re the gods of hairs.

Her: WHAT.

Me: Remind me to blog this conversation when we get to Starbucks.





Oh by the way, I’m 35 now.

9 02 2013

The thing about 35 is that years ago my aunt casually mentioned that that was the age that both of her sisters (being the one I am named after and the one that birthed me) sort of lost their shit. So I’ve been counting down to my insanity for the last seven or so years. (Which brings me to the part about how isn’t it weird how time just keeps moving and how I’m not actually 17 anymore and who the hell put me in charge of these kids?) So, while I’m continually moving towards sanity and away from losing every last one of my marbles, I’ve often wondered how much I can handle. When I was reading through my mom’s old papers last year I had my first grown-up-perspective glimpse into what her life was like around that time and she really did have a lot on her plate. So part of me felt like I’d retain my sanity even beyond 35 because I am not my mom, but part was afraid that maybe 2011 had been the beginning of just Too Much. Once I arrived at 35, though, I felt pretty good about it. 35 is a nice, clean-feeling age. Not sharp and caustic like 33. Not slow and too-soft like 34. 35 feels nice and crisp and clear. (Let’s go ahead and go back to the part where I refer to myself as sane, mrmhrm?) Of course the next day I spent in tears for… no real reason. Even despite watching the Puppy Bowl. I’m hoping that might have been a cow dairy overload rather than anything more ominous.

But my birthday itself? Was lovely. Truth be told, I wasn’t expecting much out of it. My loneliness, my emo-ness, my broke-ness, and the fact that the latter point means we can’t renew our Disneyland passes right now so this was our last visit for awhile, all gave me low expectations.

upload

We need tiaras.

cuddles with my babies

But birthdays at Disneyland are never bad. And my kids were especially amazing on this particular visit. Interestingly, we spent more than half the day at California Adventure. If you’d have told me 10 years ago that I’d have done such I thing I’d have never believed it. At the time California Adventure was really kind of a disappointment. But they’ve made a lot of changes over the years, and especially with the opening of Buena Vista Street last year, it’s really become a fun park. And Cars Land? Just fantastic detail. So we headed over there first because the kids wanted to try the big ride there, Radiator Springs Racers. By 9:30 am they were already almost out of fast passes and the ones they were currently giving out were for 8pm, when we had plans to see a show, but the lines had gone down from the four hours back in the summer to only 80 minutes so we waited. The ride is really fun, and it’s one of my favorites for sure, but I won’t wait that long again, this was just a first time special. After people get used to it a little the lines (hopefully) won’t be so bad and we’ll get to ride it more often. Luckily the queue is very well decorated so there is lots of see while you wait. The kids LOVED the ride. When Elliott gets a little bigger he’s going to love roller coasters, but I think this ride is pretty much Margie’s limit (and mine).

Car things.

*snort*

We did some other stuff we don’t often make time for – riding the Sailing Ship Columbia, for one. I’d actually never been on that one, just the Mark Twain. Margie felt a little nervous being so high up, but she wanted so hard to make sure I had a good birthday, that she decided to be OK with it (and I made sure she wasn’t pushed beyond what she could handle).

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After dinner, we went to talk to Crush which is one of my favorite things at California Adventure. It’s MAGIC. Or else cartoons are real. One of those things. Elliott got the chance to talk to him and you can see the video here. (Everyone sees long hair and thinks he’s a girl.)

And then we ended the evening with a show we hadn’t seen yet. World of Color is a water-and-light show where they project images onto the water. Despite the fact that it is, um, a water show, I didn’t realize it was so, uh, interactive. We were warned that we’d get wet, but that it was “just a little mist”. By the end of the show we were soaked. Which turned out to be pretty OK since it was, for some strange reason, about 70 degrees that February night. Go figure. Elliott, who melts if he comes in contact with water outside of a bathtub (and sometimes even in) didn’t love that he got wet, but he also couldn’t keep his eyes off the show. He had that smile on his face that all the kids in every Disneyland commercial always have. I have never experienced such a stereotypical moment as a parent. It made me giddy with the warm fuzzies.

rainbows!

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i totally fake-instagrammed this in picasa

My quick review of World of Color:
It began with a simple (and yet amazing) show of lights and music and I thought for a second that it would be something like Fantasia, where they simply animated music. They were going back to one of Walt’s original ideas, pure imagineering, just experimenting with new ways to animate music in a 3D environment. I found it intellectual, exciting, honest, and heartwarming. That was the first 30 or so seconds. And the rest was all based on the bigger characters and movies. And it was still a really great show; I sang along almost the whole time and they used their various effects very, well, effectively. But I feel like they missed a big opportunity to make something unique and important. They, of course, feel like that would have missed a big opportunity for marketing of their bigger characters and movies. Ah well. At least Disneyland does commercials really well.

The point is that the show, and therefore my birthday, ended with rainbows. And that is, I hope, a good omen. At the very least it sure is pretty.

world of color





Letting Go

6 01 2013

December was a hard month for me. It was the culmination of my grief, not just of losing my mother, but of losing my whole family, really. Technically I have family still, but they are far away, literally and/or metaphorically. Growing up my family was the center of my world, and, while it wasn’t really a huge family, it felt big for all the love that was there. Holidays, birthdays, other events or not-even-really-anything-in-particular throughout the year, my family would gather and we’d laugh and fight and hug and make memories.

And then my grandma died. And we tried for awhile to stay close. And we did. For awhile. But then my grandpa went into a home and everything was different. And then there were various fallouts with various members of the family. And then my grandpa died and he was the last thing holding us all together. I am close with some members of my family, but it is a friendship in some ways, not a familial relationship. Really, I am on my own in terms of holidays and birthdays.

The holiday season has always been my favorite time of year. The lights in the darkness of Winter, the warm homes in the coldness of the night, the entire world celebrating together. It is still holy to me for all these things.

For all the turmoil of my childhood, we had a solid holiday routine. We went to Christmas on the Prado every year at Balboa Park. We visited the Gem & Mineral Society where my grandpa often worked, we saw the tree display that my grandma had helped the Garden Club with, we visited all the free museums, we drank hot cider, we listened to the choirs. We’d go see our city’s Yule Parade. Us kids counted lit-up houses anytime we drove somewhere. My grandparents would haul the boxes and boxes of decorations out of the garage and my grandma would sing “It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas,” at us while we figured out where to sit the elves and the nutcrackers. Christmas Eve was our big celebration. My grandma’s house smelled different on Christmas Eve; it smelled of warmth, of food, of coats piled on the couch, of branches cut from the coniferous tree in the back yard and trimmed with decorations and lights. We’d spend all evening pestering the grownups about presents even though we knew we’d have to wait until after dinner. At the end of the evening we walked a block to Christmas Circle to see the houses all lit up. Christmas day was quieter, just my mom and I. It didn’t feel as celebratory. I wonder now, if that was my mother’s own self-esteem, and anger at her life? I wonder now if I internalized that attitude and now need to reconsider it?

At some point in the last seven years my family stopped doing Christmas Eve. It was very painful for me, and I tried to fill it with a new tradition. I never really found one, but the pain dulled as time went on.

But I’ve tried to keep my family of origin alive all these years by holding on to the traditions I can hold on to. The kids and I go to Christmas on the Prado every year, we watch the parade, we still visit Christmas Circle.

As this year went on, I began to feel, more and more, as though I am the last. My kids don’t know my grandparents, and they, frankly, aren’t really interested in learning their stories. But even if they were, or grow to be someday, I couldn’t stop wondering what the point was, anyway? What is the point of passing on stories that will, eventually, be forgotten? Is it an attempt to keep my grandparents and family close to me? Is it a primal fear that someday I will be forgotten by my descendants as well? Is it a desire to have someone to share my history with, so that I am not as alone as I feel? I don’t know. I just know that it hurts to let go. And that I have a desperate need to not let go.

So December hit me hard. The kids and I went to Christmas on the Prado. And it was OK at first. But it is so very different from what it was when I was a kid. It’s far more crowded. There are lines to enter the museums. There are vendors selling crappy merchandise and scammy vacation homes lining all the walkways now. We pretend not to notice the carnival that sets up every year. So it was OK at first. But then we went to the art museum. And I’d told my kids before we went that I really wanted to enjoy it with them. But then they didn’t enjoy it at all. They sat on the benches to wait until I was finished. And that wasn’t what I’d wanted at all. What I wanted was for my family – my childhood family – to be there with me. It was unfair for me to expect that from my kids, from my life in 2012. But I expected it. And when I saw that I wasn’t going to get it, I left the museum. The kids were upset that they had hurt me, but I knew it wasn’t them. I wasn’t able to put my finger on it, though. Not for a few minutes. And then I named it: grief. I was alone. My family, at least metaphorically, was dead. I was an orphan. I couldn’t handle the heaviness, and I sat down in the place where it hit me, just across from Santa Claus in his sleigh, and I wept bitterly. I cried like someone had just died right at that moment. And when my tears were spent, the kids and I got up and did a few more things and I think they had fun. But I felt dead inside. And I realized that I have to let Christmas on the Prado go. And maybe everything else that ties me to my childhood.

And that was how December went. As with grief, some parts were darker, but others were lighter and filled with real joy. Last year I wanted desperately to have my home filled with people for our holiday, but this year I was content to make it a celebration with just us. And it really was beautiful; even if it was small, it didn’t feel empty.

I wonder if I can find a line between remembering where I came from, and living my life for what it is now? I don’t know what that might look like. For now I am sitting with the idea of my Alone-ness, and what it means for who I am and who I will be, both the positive and negative aspects of that. I feel like, as usual with grief, December was transformative for me. I am seeing things differently, and that means operating differently. I’m letting go, at least of some things, and that can be freeing and can provide a fresh start. Maybe 2013 is the year my life begins?





Demon Adventures. Also personal growth n stuff.

26 04 2012

I have so much to say. But only while I’m driving or in the shower or something. I need to make a habit of audio recording myself all the time and just posting that. Only it would be SO CONFUSING for you to try to follow my brain while I talk to myself. It’s harder than following my brain while I talk to you. Which is pretty hard to begin with.

Suffice it to say that this has been a time of incredible change and growth for me. I’ve learned things about myself, and let things go to regrow more organically. I’ve learned things about life, about friendships, about parenting and my children. I wish I could document all of it, but it happens so fast, and so naturally, that I can barely make verbal note of it before I’m onto the next step. I guess I’ll have to just let that be what it is, too.

This week has been a surreal week of new things for SOAM, too. It got picked up first by the Daily Mail in the UK, and then by Yahoo (wherein a woman WHO WAS *IN* OFFICE SPACE said my website was “meh”. Which. Actually. Might not be a compliment. But it doesn’t really matter because SHE WAS TOTALLY IN OFFICE SPACE and also TALKING ABOUT *MY* WEBSITE) and a few other sources. And the traffic crashed the site. Repeatedly. Like to the point where I had to find a new company to host it for me. And that, my friends? Was beyond stressful. Tech is not my language and to try to fix something so INCREDIBLY TECHY was downright traumatic. In case you’re here for advice, the coping technique I used follows:

1. Cuss a lot.
2. Deep breath.
3. Remind self to take it one step at a time, and do whatever the smrt people say.
4. Panic.
5. Repeat.

It might need work, but it got me through.

And you know what happened this week? My first baby turned ten. TEN. Oh, you know what? It’s kind of like this. Only with less pot and no professional killing. Take out those things and it’s EXACTLY like that.

she's weird, too, though

She’s amazing lately, too. This time of change isn’t just about me (unlike most other things in this world, which totally are just about me). She’s made some incredible growth that gets me all verklempt just thinking about it.

So here’s to spring and growth and life and The Happy. And to not taking a ride on this bus.

um. i don't think i fancy a ride on THAT bus.

Or, TO taking a ride on that bus, if that’s your thing. If the demons are hot I guess it might be mine.





I only hoard SOME things.

15 04 2012

At some point in my early 20′s I realized I didn’t want to grow up to be like my family, trapped by Stuff. So I started regular purges. Living in a small apartment has helped with this. I really can’t own too many things if I still want, for instance, places to sit or walk or put my clothes. So for the most part I get rid of things as I stop using them.

titanic, second class, white star line

Except for coffee mugs.

I love them. I can’t bring myself to ever get rid of them. Even when I don’t use them. And I do tend to be rather serial monogamous with my mugs so there are some I’ve not used for years.

my favorite mugs

This picture really makes it look like this isn’t an issue. In large part because it really isn’t an issue. But I will say that these are only my favoritest mugs (not counting my Starry Night mug which is packed away with the camping supplies) and that there are more in the cupboard. The only aspect of this which threatens to maybe someday become an issue is the fact that I can’t bring myself to get rid of them. But I figure I’ve got awhile before the couch is covered with the extras and once that happens I’ll understand when you stage an intervention.

And last week I added a new mug to my collection. We’d gone to see the Titanic artifact exhibit and they had replica dishes and teacups and mugs. And while I hope someday to have an entire set of this First Class china (so we can have Titanic Thanksgivings, duh) for now I settled on this one. The First Class mug, while beautiful, is demitasse, which is fancy for “too damn small” and I’d need like 30 refills each morning (which is simply too time-consuming). So I went with Second Class which was still very classic-looking while also allowing for a decent amount of coffee (even if it is still smaller than I often need).

titanic, second class, white star line

And so I shuffled some things around in my cupboards and got rid of some of the kids’ toys and clothes* and found some space for my new fancy and slightly morbid mug. And so maybe I do hoard coffee/tea mugs/cups. I’m totally ok with that.

*KIDDING. For now.





In Which I Don’t Get Eaten By a Mountain Lion

8 04 2012

this is a lie

I had a day to myself today and after puttering around the house getting various things done, I decided to head out for a hike. I’d been wanting to go for a hike but didn’t have a date, and while hiking alone doesn’t bother me, I am less inclined to go if I don’t have anyone there I have to meet. So I surprised myself with a late afternoon visit to Mission Trails. I packed some water, snacks, and the book I’m currently (re)reading and headed out.

But I am me. And Me is anxious. Or cute. There’s a pin I’ve seen that threatens to seduce you with my awkwardness. I wonder now if I can also seduce people with my anxieties? Because if so? WATCH OUT WORLD.

But I digress.

Point being that there are signs as you enter the park about mountain lions and how to not get eaten by them. I’ve never worried about these signs before because I’ve never hiked alone. Also because I have never noticed these signs before.

Mission Trails isn’t desolate and lonely. I won’t hike in places that are. Not alone, anyway. That’s how you get killed by, well, mountain lions. Or bad people. Or possibly sasquatches (our local ones are called “zoobies“. True story). So there were mostly lots of people around (including ones high up on the hills climbing rocks and shouting, “THERE’S A BIG RATTLESNAKE BY YOUR DOG!” True story) except for when there weren’t. People around. If you lost me after that last parenthetical phrase. (What? I like parenthetical phrases. It’s like my catchphrase. Except it’s not a catchphrase at all. It’s a… catchpunctuation?)

Oy with the digression already!

So there was a time where I was totally alone. And it was beautiful. And I was quite proud of myself for loving the solitude, for I am a citygirl who is quite afraid of solitude. But here I was enjoying the moment. The birds were singing. There was a frog croaking. There was something giant moving in the bushes. WHAT? The thing about Nature is that “giant” things in bushes tend to be, like, tiny birds or lizards. But my brain had already moved on to tomorrow’s headlines, “Woman, 34, mauled by mountain lion IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAMN ROAD.” And then I knocked wood and forced myself to, like, think of hobbits and stuff. Thank god there aren’t horses at Mission Trails or I’d have been certain the ringwraiths were coming.

And now I’m never going to Mission Trails again.

But MOSTLY the hike was lovely. I stopped at the dam to read, but the flies were all, “Wow, this chick is seducing us with her anxieties!” so I didn’t get very far before I decided to head back.

The moral of the story is, I think, always bring xanax to Nature. Just in case.

pretty spot to rest





Photos and Friends

18 02 2012

I’m at a loss for words lately. I think it’s because my camera’s sensor needs to be cleaned and I therefore feel frustrated with it. (Because pictures = inspiration, see?) But it could be simply a lack of inspiration. And time. Definitely time. We have gotten very busy this semester with the kids having appointments, classes, or park days four out of five weekdays. Not to mention all the personal stuff that’s happened like selling my mom’s house. I don’t take as many pictures as I did a few years ago because, frankly, there’s only so many pictures I can take of my kids doing school work, or of the food I eat before it gets dull. ANd when I don’t take as many pictures I have a hard time finding the beauty in life. But short of doing something amazing every day, I don’t know really how to get out of this rut. And sometimes I wonder if I should get out from behind the camera and just enjoy life and I can tell you now that, no, not really. I enjoy life much more when I can photograph it. It’s magic to make the colors pop and save them forever and ever. Sometimes the sky seems bluer when I take a picture of it, than it does when I see it with my own eyes.

But that’s not what this entry is about.

This entry is about Sonja and Noah coming to visit us this week.

We had a beautiful time with them. We hiked, we visited with Elaine, we ate, we stayed up too late snorting over Pinterest and Twitter (well, the grownups did), we had coffee and pancakes and bacon, we ran around in circles screaming like crazed animals (well, the kids did), and we cried when we had to say goodbye (well, Elliott did). Here is some photographic evidence of some of the above.

flowers

boys on a cliff

juxtaposition

rocky beach

sonja and her belly <3

climbers

cooperative seagull

While we were hanging around with Elaine (after the hike with three kids, mind you) I was too tired to photograph much, but luckily Elaine and Anya put on a show right next to me with the sun positioned perfectly behind them so I didn’t even have to get off my arse to make art. I just fired off the camera and I was pretty sure none of them would come out since I put exactly zero effort into them. And then I got home and saw these:

And my heart was full. Friends, art, bacon. It was a good time. Thank you, friends.





Thirty-Four

3 02 2012

FINALLY.

birthday mad tea party

On the morning of my birthday the kids and I woke up, got dressed, and went out for breakfast. Hit Starbucks (where they wrote me a little note on my lid), and then hopped onto the freeway and headed up to the Happiest Place on Earth. Birthdays are awesome. Disneyland is awesome. Birthdays at Disneyland are exactly what you’d expect: awesomer than I can describe.

I was prepared for the kids to be, well, kids. Tired and overexcited kids tend sometimes to be grumpy and cry-y kids. But the day went relatively smoothly with everyone in mostly good spirits.

pontoon bridge

The day was also full of firsts for both kids: first time on Pirates (Elliott), first successful time on Pirates (Margie), first time on Star Tours (Elliott), first successful time on Star Tours (Margie). We also got to check out Tom Sawyer’s Island (now inhabited by pirates) for the first time since the remodel. We were all new to Turtle Talk with Crush which I’d heard good things about and I was looking forward to and which totally lived up to the hype. The first person Crush wanted to talk with was Elliott and then he asked to talk to me. Margie didn’t seem to feel left out, but that’s probably because she got to battle Darth Vader earlier in the day (so did Elliott).

mark twain

The highlight of my day (aside from conversing with a cartoon, of course) happened as we were disembarking from Star Tours and starting our walk down the hallway to where we dispose of the glasses. The kids wanted to go again (and again and again) so I thought we’d swing around and grab another FastPass, but one of the Star Tours castmembers stopped us saying, “I reward people for wearing Doctor Who shirts. Wait here, we’ll get you on the next ride. Allons-y!” To which Elliott replied, “CYBERMAN! CYBERMAN!” (Which may also be French, what do I know?) The moral of the story is Always Wear a Doctor Who Shirt to Disneyland. Actually, I think that’s the moral to most stories.

better than cake: dole whip float

Originally I’d planned to bring our lunch with us to save some money, but then the eggs were being assholes in the morning and not peeling properly, and the dishwasher was all, “What? You WANT to do dishes on your birthday?” So I was like, “You know what, Dishwasher? You speak with wisdom beyond your years.” So the kids and I wandered into the new bakery at the end of Main Street and – surprise! – they had gluten free bread for their deli sandwiches! And for dinner we found a place in California Adventure that did gluten-free buns for hamburgers. And it was all delicious – even the food within Disneyland, which is impressive, since, in my experience, you must pay the big bucks for food that is adequate while within the confines of the original park. I love how Disneyland is so accommodating in regards to food allergies.

gluten free sandwich for lunch

And so, after a long day, we stumbled into our home at almost 10pm and crashed into bed. And it was a good birthday. And you know what? Im going back in two days. With grown-ups.

Thirty-Four is gonna be a good year. (KNOCK WOOD.)





A blurb on selfies. But that’s all I have time for today.

19 12 2011

Self-Portrait: Post a picture of you that you like, write about yourself, post a video – what do you want your self-portrait to say about you?Kristen

Honestly, I have SO MUCH to say on the subject. I am planning to write an entire post about it for TIAW soon, but I won’t get to it this week. I did write a paragraph about it in this post for Own Your Beauty last year, if you’d like a taste of my thoughts on the matter.

I will, however, leave you with my most recent selfie. The kids and I were walking through a department store today and I saw these fancy light-up mirrors, and COULD NOT STOP MYSELF. My kids were all, “Ugh, mom, no.” Like they’re teenagers or something. So I made them make funny faces and at least they participated.

fancy mirrors get my attention every time.

7 Days starts in two days, friends! *squee!*





TMBG Again

18 11 2011

A few months ago, my friend Karen sat down next to me and told me, “My husband wants to ask you out on a date. I’ll be there, too, of course. And he says you can’t say no.” Which, honestly, sounds more like a hostage situation to me. But I’m completely comfortable with being a hostage to go see They Might Be Giants. As long as it’s not scary and I don’t get hurt and then my kidnappers let me go home to my bed that night. That’s the kind of hostage situation I love best.

Anyway, as the months went on, it was confirmed that Jonathan Coulton would be opening for them which turned out to be exciting, because, although I didn’t realize it, he’s AWESOME. He writes catchy songs about geeky things or unorthodox love or zombies or sweet, sweet covers of Baby Got Back. As it turns out he wrote the Portal song which my family has been a major fan of for the last couple of years, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with him, after all.

Happy Thing: My Giants ♥

And then, as the week of the show dawned, so did an asshole sore throat. I spent days lying on the couch trying to make the cold go away, but it staked itself out there pretty good. So I bought some DayQuil (actually, store brand). And you know what? DAYQUIL IS TEH AWESOME. Why are the hippies trying to keep it from us??

Early in the evening Karen turned to me and remarked, “I’m standing here at a concert with a beer in my hand and I can’t tell if I feel 19 or like I’ve been married for 14 years.” (Which, it turns out, is a concept I wrote about last time I went to see TMBG.) So we discussed this through the evening, finding evidence here or there of one side or another. And, when the evening was over, we hobbled out of the venue and down the street, with our ears pounding and our legs stiff and our feet aching, and we realized: Mayyybe not 19. And I am totally OK with that. *waves cane*

So it was a fantastic evening. My Giants are always, always awesome, Jonathan Coulton was awesome, the company was awesome, AND, when I had lost most of the rest of my voice, I got to enjoy that fun sexy lady voice that comes along with head colds. And that was also awesome. (Yes, I did talk to myself all night long just to hear my own voice, or lack thereof.)

Here’s to next time, John & John. ♥








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