Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Day That No One In The Family Is Supposed To Mention, But They Always Do




I was recently sharing a conversation with a stranger at an amusement park (yeah, I like to talk to everyone, so what?), who informed me that he wished to forget his twenties. He felt like a "real adult" now, and some of the foolish and embarrassing things that he had done or said weighed heavily on his shoulders. I half-heartedly agreed with him, caught up in the moment.

Later that day, I started questioning the wisdom of eradicating an entire decade from memory.

If I removed my twenties from my brain, I wouldn't be able to remember my wedding or the birth of my children: The two most important things that have ever happened to me, except for maybe my own birth - but you know what I'm trying to say.

Sure, there were some awkward moments, but I think I want to keep those, too.

How could I live without recalling the night when my kid sister wandered into my room, deep into an episode of sleep walking - thinking that my beloved trunk was a toilet? I was around twenty and she was six-ish. She stumbled in, dropped trou, opened the lid of the trunk and sat down. Luckily, I was able to quickly lead her to the real bathroom in time. What if I couldn't tease Sis about that? I wouldn't have been able to tell the story to her entire group of friends on her own 21st birthday! What a travesty that would have been, missing that opportunity!

My mother had me before she turned twenty, so the following ten years were pretty busy for her. She didn't get to be carefree, just out of her teens. She was busy raising me and my brother.

Which is why I feel that I owe her the memory of one of the most horrifying events of my life, which happened when I was 22 or 23. Something truly awful happened to me, but it was gratifying for my mom - and I can't begrudge her her happiness.

We were at a shoe store together, looking for our next great bargain. I was ultracasual, that day; wearing dark sweatpants, a baggy Disneyland sweatshirt, a baseball cap and my glasses. I normally wore contact lenses, but I guess vanity went out the window that morning. I wore my dark hair in a short cut, so a couple mousy brown inches flipped out under my hat.

Now, my mother is not someone who usually chooses a grubby dress day. Also, her hair is platinum blonde and falls way past her shoulders. She's at least six inches shorter than me and almost always wears high heels. Although, I think she may have been wearing flip-flops on The Day That No One In The Family Is Supposed To Mention, But They Always Do.

She was sporting white denim short-shorts and a pink checkered tank-top. I will never forget that outfit, as long as I live.

Did I happen to mention that this was during the summer and she had a deep tan, somewhere in the color spectrum of the Hawaiian Tropic Girls? Well, she did.

Oh, wait - I think I might have a picture of Mom, around here somewhere:

Okay, I think you've got the idea, now.

On second thought, maybe I was adopted.

So anyway, I was over in the Giant Feet section and she was somewhere in the Tiny Delicate Feet section, when I hit the jackpot. I had found a pair of awesome penny loafers for under $10 and I wanted to share the good news.

"Mom!" I called across the store. No answer, so I grabbed the shoebox and stepped out of my isle.
"Mom, you've got to see what I found!"
She poked her head out from behind a stack of tiny shoes.
"What is it?" She asked.
I held up my find and she gave me a thumbs up.

Then it happened.

The guy behind the counter called out to us:

"Wait a minute, here! She's the mom? I thought for sure that you were the mom!"

He had believed that I was my mother's mom.

He thought that she. was. my. daughter.

That is one day of that decade which I would gladly chop out of my brain and donate to science. However, my mom really enjoys telling the story and gets so much enjoyment out of everyone's reaction, that I just let the memory sit there - waiting to attack: At family gatherings, luncheons, baby showers, and anywhere else that someone will listen.

She gave up a lot for me, so I guess I can suffer through endless recounting of that event.

Why couldn't he have at least thought that we were sisters?

***

October 23, 1985

When my mom had me I think the hardest thing she had to do for a job was changing diaper's, changing cloths , and feeding me. That--I think that would be very hard! I think I would like to have children, but all of that work! Oh, my, oh, my. but the hardest thing to do to raise children I think is to teach them the right things to do in life! Jeese! No, yes, don't do that do that! That's all I ever heard from my mom, but it's worth it so you won't do many mistakes. I wish I could say it simpler but, I bet raising children is hard!




Amen, Sister!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Good Ol' Summertime



This past weekend, I had a discussion with a dear friend, regarding a vital piece of the child-rearing puzzle. Something sacred and integral to creating long-lasting summer memories:

Otter Pops.

More specifically, blue Otter Pops. Because, you know, they make you have to cough. Something about them gives you a tickle in your throat, which cannot be ignored. If you eat a blue Otter Pop, you will have to cough - It's one of those great mysteries of life. And yet, if you ask me which color I'd like - I'll pick the blue one, every time. Ten Year Old Me would have made the same choice, I am sure of it.

Ahhh Summer... being a kid during the Summer months was pretty magical, wasn't it? Although, if I could have spoken to Just Graduated From Fifth Grade Me, I would have told her to make sure to wear lots of sunblock, since this would be the summer that she would burn her face so badly that the tip of her nose would swell up and almost fall off. I'm sure she would have raised her right eyebrow (I still do that, when I think someone is saying something, well, nutty) and said, "Uhm, like, yeahsure and what is sunblock, anyway?" Remember when parents thought that getting that first really good burn was the best way to prepare a child's tender skin for the next few months of exposure to UVA rays?

I also would have warned her that letting her friend's sixteen year old sister cut her hair in July would be an unwise choice - even if the budding stylist says that she just wants to give Eleven Year Old Me a "trim".

That was the same Summer that I began seriously crushing on the boys from the cast of Stand By Me. Okay, maybe not Jerry O'Connell - he didn't really get cute until at least 1991 - but I spent a lot of time looking through issues of Teen Beat and Tiger Beat, trying to find photos of River Phoenix.



My BFF and I would ride our bikes to the movie theater down the street while our parents were at work, because tickets were only fifty cents and nobody cared if you hopped from screen to screen, all day long. The movies were a few years past their prime, but it didn't matter: We saw Purple Rain enough times to have memorized the lines - though most of what we were quoting was way, way over our heads.

Yes, I really did just tell you that two eleven year old girls were allowed to ride their bikes to a discount movie theater and sit in the dark with strangers watching Rated R movies, for hours and hours at a time.

It was a long time ago. If the internet had been around, I'm sure we would have been spending all day long in the house, chatting with strangers - for hours at a time. We did have MTV (at least my BFF did), but you can only sit through so many dozens of hours of Wang Chung's "Everybody Have Fun Tonight", before you have to move on to the next activity.

Funny, but those are the memories that make me smile. Sunburns, bad haircuts, movies: All of those things were -and are- part of being a kid during Summertime.

And blue Otter Pops. Don't forget the Otter Pops.




June, 1986

Well 1 more day of school! tomorrow is the last day! this is my first year at this school and I am already going to leave, oh, well this was a very short year! I hope next year will be this short, it seems like it was only a few months, but it was a whole school year,oops! Sorry Mr. K, I forgot we were supposed to write a topic!! today, can I just write what I want, I mean only 1 more day , I won't change anything! this will be my 3rd time switching schools: I switched to go to kindergarten, I switched to go to this school, and I'm switching to go to middle school! I will probably stop pretty soon, oh, yeah I have to call my best friend C.E. today this is all about her:

She is short, 11 years old, she has brown hair, haesel eyes, she goes to a different elementary school, I think, she is in Mrs. M's class, and I've known her for almost 8 years. I will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever forget her. Well anyway, she is an ice skater and she used to live across the street from me! I met her when I was about 3.

LAST

DAY

OF

SCHOOL

I

LOVE

IT!!!

I

REALLY

DO!

HIP

HIP

HOORAY!

You know, I'm really going to regret that! I used all those pages for nothing! Except junk! Well, guess what, I am going to write a journal in Canada. I really want summer vacation to come!

Monday, July 5, 2010

All in the Family



A couple of months ago, I found out that I am part Cree Indian. When I got this news, I immediately felt as though a hole inside of me had been filled. I always knew that something was missing and now I understand why.

Although my husband would disagree - because I change my mind a lot and I look awful with bangs - I kind of feel like having a tribal wolf tattooed on my forehead, or something. I'm still Team Edward, girls, don't worry: This is about something else, altogether. This is about being totally excited about a recently discovered heritage. I've got a whole lot of German in my background and I'm French,English and Irish, too. But I had already known about all that.

The Indigenous thang is all-new to me.

For some reason, my daughter has decided that being Sicilian is what it's about. Her dad is half Sicilian and she has decided that she is made up of mostly that half of him. I can't entirely disagree: She tans like crazy and can put down more pasta than the Super Mario Brothers. Peanut's not quite as thrilled about my discovery. She's content to work at her Auntie's booth at the Italian festival, wearing her red, white and green hat; indifferent to the rest of her DNA.

My son and I have square feet, sort of like Fred Flintstone. Super sexy image, I know. If you put his left foot by my right, it looks like one set of different-sized feet, except that the smaller one doesn't have a little flower carefully painted on the...er...thumb. I don't usually like thinking about feet, but I think this might be some of the reason that he is diving into the whole "being Indian" thing, with more gusto than his sister.

Now that I have children, I think about my ancestors a lot more than before. I've always had a dusty, halfway sort of interest. Now I really want to know where I've come from - where we've come from. I'm lucky, because part of my family history is still around: My great - grandmother is still living. That means that my children have a great - great - grandmother. Nana danced in the conga line at my wedding.

She celebrated her 100th birthday, last October.

Generations gathered to revel in her accumulation of decades: There was something really amusing about hearing a one hundred year old woman being called "Mother", by her children. Keep in mind that her three children were in their eighties, themselves. There was a huge cake - thankfully they withheld the candles, or there may have been a disaster. I can barely manage to extinguish my birthday candles and I am- well, quite a bit younger than Nana. My sister created a beautiful slideshow, which made everyone simultaneously have an allergy attack (*wink*). I made a photo album of Nana's life for her gift, but the centenarian and the octogenarians brought it home to Mother's house and promptly forgot where they put it. Stuff like that happens when four people's combined ages equal around three hundred and fifty-five years.

It's still missing.

Knowing where you've come from is important. It helps you decide where you are going. And I think I am going to buy a dreamcatcher and learn to speak Algonquin, which is the language that the Cree people of my family spoke. It might take me a while - but I've got sustainable genes, so I've probably got close to seventy years to do it.

On second thought: I don't think Nana is a fan of McDonald's and Taco Bell, like I am. I'm pretty sure that she doesn't add five Splendas to her coffee every morning, either, so I might have considerably less time than I've estimated.




September, 1985

My ancestor's came from England, Ireland, France, and Germany. My grandmother just came back from visiting my great grandmother. My grandma just went to Germany before crismas '84 and when my mom was young, she went to France, my friend Samantha just got back from England. Her grandmother lives there. Know one I know went to Ireland, except my friend, Rachel, who is mostly Irish. I have lots of ansestors still living, like my great grandmother, my great uncle, my great aunt, and a great cousin, Lot's of them, most of them are really old, and they just sit and watch t.v. But my greta grandmother goes out to lunch and shopping, and shopping and shop, shop, shopping. My great grandfather is dead, he used to fly and airplane across the street from the house at the airport.


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