September 30, 2008

Die Another Day

My brick-and-mortar friend (term credit: Marie) Mairzy is perhaps wondering if I am going to suddenly confess a childhood crush on another old classmate of mine, her husband August. We were in a combined-grade classroom, and August was in the younger grade while I was in the older grade. A grade makes a huge difference at that age, and I don't remember any of the younger boys even being on our Crush Radar--even though there was such a shortage of boys in the older grade. The grade-younger boys just seemed sooooo much younger.

I will, however, tell a story that involves August, and it is a story of an incident I consider one of the most mortifying situations of my entire childhood. ...How's THAT for a sure-to-disappoint build-up?

My family occasionally went over to August's house to play games in the evening. (Yeah, NOW the roller rink looks pretty fierce, doesn't it?) This was a ton of fun, and 99% of the reason is that August's family is the kind of family that, if you were going to have an arranged marriage, you'd be slipping the matchmaker bribes to marry you into it. They are NICE and FUNNY and SMART (also healthy and attractive with good teeth and hair!), and totally righteous dudes overall without being, you know, all treacly and lame about it.

One evening as we were saying our goodbyes, August's little sister (who was and is the sort of person you'd describe as Bringing Joy to the World, she is such a cutie/sweetie/sunshine) asked if I could sleep over. My parents had a policy for these situations, and that policy was No Spontaneous Plans: it's too difficult to arrange these things on the spot, and too hard for parents to say no if they want to. But for some reason they let this offer stand (THANKS), and four adults and four children waited to hear my RSVP.

I am not sure you know this about me, but I am not a "go with the flow" type. And so the thought of changing course like this and spending the night was...startling. My first protest, in fact, was that I didn't have my THINGS with me, and of course August's mother said that was no big deal and that they could even rustle up a brand-new toothbrush for me. And then everyone waited again.

But here was my REAL reason, the protest I couldn't say: "SPEND THE NIGHT??? In the house of a BOY from my CLASS???? Wearing PAJAMAS?????"

I mean! Imagine! BRUSHING MY TEETH down the hall from A BOY! Having him see me in the morning with Sleep Hair!!! PEEING IN THE SAME BATHROOM. It was unimaginable. Or rather: far too imaginable. If I had previously considered the grade-younger boys "SO much younger," I suddenly felt they were in fact my exact same age.

This is, however, not the kind of reason you can give when four adults and the boy in question are waiting for your reply. And here is another thing I'm not sure you know about me: I don't think quickly on my feet. Early in my educational career I considered law, but rejected it because a trial lawyer (which was the only kind of lawyer I knew about) needs to think quickly on her feet. Well, and also I was scared of the bar exam. Because I like to fear things way in advance if possible.

And so I needed an excuse, and I needed one fast, and I am a rabbit-in-the-headlights thinker, and so what I said was that I thought I was coming down with a cold. I believe I added a little fake cough for emphasis. This was so patently an Excuse Lie, especially when offered after the objection about not having my Things, it was insulting to all present. Like saying, "I can't---I need to wash my hair." I'd just spent the entire evening with them: if I were indeed coming down with a cold, I'd just given them a hostess gift of GERMS. And I'd betrayed no symptoms of said cold, not in several hours of visit. LIE LIE LIE GLARING LIE. I knew instantly, but there was no fixing it: even if I could have gone back in time, I still had no good reason to give in its place.

All the way home, I died. I continued dying when I should have been sleeping. I died over the next several days, and then periodically--to this very day--I revisit that scene to die some more. (STILL have no good reason.)

September 28, 2008

Sunday, and a Confession

First, the pay-it-forward updates, because I think at least one of them is ending today:

Scenic Overlook is starting a new contest.

Honest and Truly! is showing a giftie she got and starting a new contest.


Second, I am having super-fun shopping for Erin's prize, and I really do recommend this pay-it-forward thing if you enjoy shopping and want a little morale boost. It is FUN. And it is so pleasant to have something to look for at the store other than toilet paper, shampoo, and cat food. I have to stop myself from doing a new one EVERY WEEK.

And lastly, a confession/edit: I was talking with my mom about the I LOVE CHRISTOPHER!!!! post, and I was telling her about an edit I made to something I quoted, because I felt the original version was too excruciating, and she said I HAD to come clean because these are NO GOOD if they're edited to save myself embarrassment.

Okay FINE. FINE. What I TOLD you I wrote was: "I think that my love for him is different from my love of David. With David, I was in love with his appearance and not his personality." There is a snip between those two sentences. What I ACTUALLY wrote was:
I think that my love for him is different from my love of David. My love of David was a wild, crazy, all sex, no feelings love. I was in love with his appearance and not his personality.
OKAY? OKAY? My face is BURNING. "All sex"!! "Wild, crazy"!! What was I TALKING about?? I was ELEVEN! And had had NO PHYSICAL CONTACT WHATSOEVER with any boy! And was still in the "Ewww, kissing" stage! AAAaaaghhh!! The pain of encountering one's previous self!

Actually, I know exactly what I was talking about. I was quoting the adults who had taught me thoroughly about the differences between Physical Attraction and Actual Feelings, and I thought I was being Very Sophisticated to talk as if I understood the difference and could apply it to my crushes. What I MEANT was that I thought I'd only liked David for his looks, but that I liked Christopher for his INNERMOST BEING. (That contention is UTTER CRAP.)

My mom points out that this is why it's a bad idea for parents to read their children's diaries: imagine if she'd read that! Imagine how flipped out she'd have gotten, and over nothing of substance! I was merely trying to prove how much more Real my feelings for my current crush were than for my previous crush (actual difference: NONE), and my mother would have been freaking out that her 11-year-old was having sex and/or interested in sex. Sigh.

September 27, 2008

I LOVE CHRISTOPHER!!! HE IS SOOOOO CUTE!!!

I'm just going to keep going through the diaries until I get bored with it. Who knows how long that will be, considering how long I maintained interest in WRITING these awful things. You may want to go do something else for awhile. Like, okay, go make these brownies, but instead of salt, put in a bag of Andes mint baking chips and 1/2 t. peppermint extract, and add a few minutes to the baking time. MMMMMmmmmm.

Swistle age 12
(just got my braces off that very day)
(notice haphazard bangs: DOUBLE COWLICK)

I'm continuing through my journal from age 11-12. Here's an example of what a little planner I was:
Some things I'd like to do or have or whatever when I'm a teenager are: Have one thing I eat when I'm upset. I read a book about a girl who ate pistatios when she was upset. Maybe I'll eat saltine crackers. I also think I want one boyfriend (some freckles on him would be nice) who is my best boyfriend, and then I don't care if that's all the boyfriends I have or if I have seven more.
I think that was pretty flexible of me, don't you? Pistachios are expensive but saltines are cheap, and I was okay with ANY number of boyfriends up to and including eight. And I only had physical-attribute suggestions for the FIRST one.

I remember the very book I was referring to there. It was called The Pistachio Prescription, it was by Paula Danzinger, and I see they reprinted it in 2006. I liked the lead character's name, which was Cassandra.

Let's skip ahead to a couple of months after I announced my crush on David.
I am hopelessly in love (at least I think I am) with David. I don't want him to kiss me or anything, but I want him to like me for what I am. I think he might like (or maybe love!!) me already but he's trying not to show it. He smiles at me a lot and when he's grumpy and I get mad at him, he always apologizes VERY quickly.
ZO-kay, well obviously this was the early days of Female Delusion Syndrome, in which men who show zero interest are presumed to be hiding that interest. We are talking about an 11-year-old boy here. Considering he was outnumbered by girls and a good half-foot shorter than the shortest of us, I'd say the quick apologizing was a smart tactical maneuver.

Then there is page after page after PAGE of fantasy valentines and fantasy notes---and, most agonizing of all, fantasy SCRIPTS in which I have David confessing his secret love for me and only me, and in which I explain that I had been afraid to tell him I felt the same way until I was sure of his returned feelings. In each script, he brings a flower to the conversation: a daisy, a pink rose, etc. WINCE, GAG.

Okay, and then there is a gap of FOUR MONTHS, followed by this entry:
I think I'm going to crack. David doesn't love me. David doesn't even LIKE me. I think I'll just have to give up on him. Maybe he once had a crush on me, or maybe he'll love me in the future, but right now he thinks I'm a flirtatios, ugly brat. (Unless he's just pretending, which I dought.) I'll probley still love him for awhile though.
Well, gosh! What happened? I don't remember at all! Notice I still allow for the possibility that he's just HIDING his true feelings under a FALSE FRONT of dislike. Also: notice my misspelling of "flirtatios" is similar to my misspelling of "pistatios," above.

Luckily the heart mendeth with time, and within days I'm announcing a new crush, the new boy in school:
This time I think I've finally found a boy who loves me back. On the first day of school he said that he liked girls. I really would not be surprised if he kisses girls. I think that my love for him is different from my love of David. With David, I was in love with his appearance and not his personality. With Christopher I really do hurt with him and laugh with him. I think Christopher would make a good husband for me.* If I were to marry David I think I'd live to regret it.
ACK. FLINCH. BLUSH. The asterisk leads to this note at the bottom of the page: "*But I have no intentions of actually marrying him." Ermmmm-kay, noted.

This is all of two weeks after meeting Christopher, and I could not have been more wrong about his husband potential. Rookie mistake: thinking charm and good looks equal good person. He sure did capture the imagination, though. My old classmates Jen and Heather can back me up on this: was he THE CUTEST, Jen and Heather, or WHAT? I think every girl in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade liked him, and probably even the fourth-grade girls raised an eyebrow in his direction. Tall, blond, blue eyes, VERY FLIRTY in a group of kids where all the other boys were still going, "Huh? What?" Plus, he had a SPORTS INJURY:
Today Christopher broke his arm. He was being so brave about it that I could just cry. I could tell that the pain was agonizing because he was occasionaly making agonized faces, but he didn't cry like I would have. If he lets us sign his cast, I think I'll dot my i with a heart.
Excellent plan. A couple of weeks later, a newsflash:
CHRISTOPHER LIKES ME! So, you don't believe me, do you, Diary? We went through this all before with David, didn't we, Diary? Well this time I have a note to prove it.
Well, and as it turns out, I DO, and it's taped to the page. In the note he explains why he asked another girl to couple-skate at the roller rink (SHUT. UP. The roller rink was SWINGING), and his explanation includes the fact that he WANTED to ask me, but was "in a bind" because the other girl's sister asked him to ask the other girl. The best part of the note, though, is the end.: "P.S. Remember I only like her as a friend. You on the other hand." ZOMG is that HEADY STUFF or WHAT?? I write:
It's a strange thing, love is. It's very strange to be wild about someone, to wish on every star, and pray every night that that person will love you, and then they tell you that they do and BANG! you're in a confused world that probley every teenager has once visited. That's how it is with me and Chris. It's like he's a stranger; he's not the same boy I loved before, and yet, I can still see the same qualities. Right now I'm just confused. I'm sure, though, that it will clear up soon.
HA HA HA HA HA! Oh, YES, dear, love just clears RIGHT UP. (Also: BARF, WINCE, FLINCH.)

I'd forgotten how this little relationship between 12-year-olds ended, so as I was reading along I was thinking, "Well? WELL??" And geez, it's not pretty, so I'll make it quick: He asked to sit next to me every day at lunch, he gave me his last M&M, he told me "someone" was in love with me. Then he wrote me a note asking how I felt about him, and I risked it and wrote back that I loved him, and he wrote back that he'd been asking because he wanted to know if he'd hurt my feelings if he asked another girl out. He wrote: "So things were going fine and I thought I was falling in love with you, but a couple days ago her friend told me she liked me, which I had figured but I took it as good news. I still like you a lot but not as much as someone else."

YOWK. Do you know, that still makes me feel gaggy, well over twenty years later? What a nasty set-up that was, huh? I don't look back on that and think, "Ha ha, funny little puppy love!" I look back on that and think, "That was BRUTAL."

September 26, 2008

I LOVE DAVID!!!! HE IS SOOOOO CUTE!!!!

I totally dug those diaries out of the trash. I'm still getting rid of them, obv. I just...I can't explain why I wanted MORE PAIN, but I did.

Okay, I have here my VERY FIRST journal entry EVER. It's, like, blogging 8-tracks. I was 11 years old.

Swistle, age 11

I think my mom bought the journal for me at a yard sale, and I was using one of those pens that has blue AND black AND red AND green at the push of various buttons:
Yesterday Melanie invited me to a sleepover. I went right after school and we had lots of buttery popcorn and soft drink after supper. We started off today with a walk, then we went swimming in their pool. We stayed in from 7:45 in the morning to 3:45 in the afternoon with breaks for lunch. I am very sunburnt, quite sleepy, and very sunsoaked.
So first off you can see that I've ALWAYS had a problem with overusing the word "very," and it must be comforting to see how little people change over twenty-five a few years.

But here's the problem: the two INTERESTING things that happened at this sleepover, I didn't write down. The first was that the walk we started out the day with--that healthful walk in the fresh morning air--was a walk out to Melanie's brother's p0rrnn stash in the woods. First p0rrnn I had ever seen. I'd considered myself a woman of the world because I'd seen a Frederick's of Hollywood catalog or two, but YIPES. I was so shocked, the one photo we looked at is burned into my brain. (We only looked at one, then walked away fast, pretending to be cool with it.)

And the second interesting thing was that the neighbor girl we swam in the pool all day with was a teenager, and she was the first girl I'd ever seen with underarm hair, and furthermore she must have had a good three to four inches of it. She floated on her back with her hands behind her head, and her underarm hair winged out to the sides. I was fascinated. Adding up all the peeks, I must have spent two good solid hours staring at her underarms that day.

And do I mention any of this in my secret, private diary? No, I do not. I tell about the POPCORN, for the love of pete. It was BUTTERY, apparently.

Ten days go by before I write my second post entry. I take the opportunity to announce a crush on David. I give two justifications for this crush:
  1. He respects and is nice to girls.
  2. He's cute. He has wavy brown hair and freckles.
And looking back on it, David was indeed a wise choice. For one thing, he was THE ONLY BOY IN MY CLASS. So, you know, he BETTER respect and be nice to girls, considering how OUTNUMBERED he is. He really was cute, though. I emphasized this by switching ink colors (I'd been using black) to put a red heart after my reasons.

This journal is the kind with lined pages on one side and blank on the other, so I have drawn a picture of my fish. I have labeled them with their names; evidently their names were Cleo and Martha. I've also drawn the little fish net, but I messed it up the first time and tried to be all subtle and cazh about the mess-up (on the first page!! aaaagh!!!) by drawing an arrow to it and labeling it "Doodle." So my future self would know it was NOT a mess-up but in fact a carefully planned doodle, deliberately drawn next to a successful drawing of a fish net.

September 25, 2008

I LOVE JIMMY!!!! HE IS SOOOOO CUTE!!!!

I'm cleaning house for an impending mother-in-law visit, and I'm finding I'm a little...scattered. For example, on Tuesday I spent over an hour tidying a bookshelf that is invisible to anyone not sitting at my computer in our back room. Meanwhile, the dining room table in the middle of our kitchen can't be moved to the exciting new dining room until I remove its cloak of detritus---and yet there it sits, still cloaked.

Yesterday's urgent cleaning task was a box marked Memory down in the basement storage. CLEARLY that box needs to be sorted out RIGHT NOW; it will make ALL the difference in the overall cleanliness of the house! I'm tossing out my old diaries, the ones from my teenage years. I've saved them for two decades on average, and I'm still not interested in reading them. Furthermore, when I DO read a little bit of one, it's excruciating. Not ha-ha excruciating, just excruciating. I went through and pulled out the photos (my family's living room in 1986! the boy I had a crush on for four years!), but the rest of this crap is getting pitched.

You may wonder if I am not being a bit hasty here. Perhaps in my crazed-bumblebee cleaning frenzy I am making rash decisions. But no: I've been thinking for a few years that it's time to stop saving the diaries, and I waited this long only because I wanted to avoid being hasty and rash but couldn't bear the necessary task of going through them first.

I'd thought, back when I was writing these drippy, emotional, overly self-aware tributes to self-absorption, that as an adult I'd want to go back and read admiringly about my younger self, but in fact I would pay CASH MONEY not to have to. It's not JUST that I was so lame, it's that I was so very sure of my non-lameness. This is the sort of thing that causes a person to wonder squirmingly how she'll feel in twenty years about her 30s.


Oh, hey, here's what I was looking for in a husband at age 15:
  1. nice eyes that show inside emotion
  2. a very sensitive sense of humor but can be serious
  3. never (or at least rarely) late
  4. likes to take walks
  5. likes to hold hands
  6. likes to shop
  7. not a male chauvinist
  8. sends me flowers and balloons and stuff
  9. doesn't like football or baseball
  10. generally cheerful
  11. good hygiene
  12. strong but not too macho

Here's the timeline of my first romantic relationship:
  • August 12 - asked me out
  • August 14 - called me long-distance
  • August 20 - visited with his parents
  • August 27 - took me to see Abyss and for frozen yogurt and a walk with his parents
  • September 22 - broke up with me
You know what's missing between August 27 and September 22? The part where I wrote him a multi-page letter Every! Single! Day! and it was filled to the brim with love love love. Freaking him the SNERHELL out, since we were FIFTEEN YEARS OLD.


One highlight from a college journal: "I am a difficult, irritable, cranky, critical, complainy person. How can I change this?" GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, college girl!


Here is a list:
FRIMPING
VEERING
IRRELEVANCY BUS
It's all in caps like that. What does it...mean?


Here's a poem that is better than all my other high school and college poetry by merit of being SHORTER:
so you say
you love me.

well.


Here is my high school prom budget:
$100 prom dress
$10 chewing gum for crash diet
$15 haircut
$40 dyed-to-match shoes
$5 silver ankle bracelet
$4 two pairs of nylons
$4 nail polish
Please note that this was for an IMAGINARY prom: I had a crush on a junior boy I'd never even talked to, and was imagining how much money I'd need if he invited me to his prom. Which he did not do, and that was unsurprising because we'd NEVER MET.


Basic composition of high school journals:
50% boys boys boys boys OMG boys!
25% lame, self-conscious sarcasm
20% song lyrics
5% French

Basic composition of college journals:
40% boys boys boys boys OMG boys!
25% lame, self-conscious sarcasm
25% lame introspection
10% song lyrics

Clearly this is not information to preserve for the ages, and I am speaking from the point of view of someone who has just paged wincingly through hundreds and hundreds of pages of "I LOVE JIMMY!!!! He is SOOOOOO CUTE!!!!" with hearts doodled all around. FLINCH.

I'm remembering how my mom saved her old journals "for her daughter to read one day," and she finally let me read them when I was in my teens, and I suffered through about half of one journal before handing them back. I really DIDN'T want to read about my mom pining for some boy, and reading MYSELF doing it is if anything EVEN WORSE. For years I regretted my impulsive decision to burn all the diaries of a 2-year high school relationship that ended badly, but now I'm GRATEFUL: those diaries are so much better in my imagination.


I did have a couple of good finds. One is a note from my high school physics teacher on an assignment:
Young Swistle,
You have convinced yourself that you are going to get these exercises wrong no matter how many silly mistakes you have to make. Why do you insist on making life hard for yourself?

I'm saving that. The other good find is lists of my favorite baby names from 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988. I'm going to post those over at the baby names blog.

September 24, 2008

Music Lesson Report, and Photos of New Dining Room

We all knew Rob would be doomed, DOOMED! fine in the whole music lesson situation, and indeed he was. He came home from school and I pounced on him, practically grabbing him by the shoulders and shaking him as I said, "WELL??? What happened with the music lesson???" and he was all, "Huh? What? Oh, it was fine. Can I have goldfish crackers?"

He remembered the lesson, which was my primary concern: I couldn't believe I'd forgotten to remind him as he got on the bus, and also I don't know how I'm going to let him go off to college where he's going to have to remember to get up, remember to shower, remember to go to class, remember to do his homework....... Well, anyway, let's save that panic for another day.

He asked a teacher where the classroom was, and when she sent him to the music room rather than the band room (I didn't know there was a different room, either) he asked another teacher, which I was very glad to hear because he and I share the Panic Gene, which means that we sometimes get so nervous and upset we are no longer able to think of any sensible ideas other than crying. He found the room, and he was the only one who didn't have an instrument, plus he didn't have the book, but he said he just explained to the teacher that his clarinet was on its way but hadn't arrived yet, and she was fine with that----and see again the part about Panic Gene, because in similar situations he's been mute because he wasn't sure it was okay to explain things to the teacher in case it was like he was arguing or talking back. (Me: *empathetic pang*)

Then he went to his classroom, and his teacher had NOT known he had a music lesson but she DID know music lessons started this week---so as he put it, she "believed" him, and also he gave her my note so now she also knows Rob has an anxious mother, and it's just as well we get that out of the way while the year is young.

So. He handled it just fine and everything was just fine. I was glad he and I had gone over it ahead of time, with me explaining that sometimes _I_ felt panicky and had trouble thinking what to do and so it was good to think things out beforehand and realize that even if things went wrong they'd still be fine overall, because at the time he was vigorously nodding and saying he was the same way, even though afterward he was all cazh about it.


It is time for some photos of the new dining room! I wasn't very good about making sure I was taking pictures from the same angle, or, like, at the same time of day, and in fact it wouldn't be out of line if someone gently explained that I should make sure I was taking photos of the same room each time---and also, it's really hard to get a picture that shows much of it. But you'll get the idea.

This is standing in the kitchen, looking past all the shoved-into-the-kitchen junk (the dining room chairs will soon have a more sensible home, but where ARE we going to put the recycling bins that used to be on the porch??) into the dining room before the walls were painted or the floor was in. The opening there used to be sliding glass doors onto the porch. Do you like our original early-1960s kitchen light fixture? It has mod gold stars on the bulb cover.



This is after I painted the ceiling white and the walls white Behr Sea Salt, but before the floor was in. Look at all the outlets my dad put in for us! That's only half of them!

This is after the Armstrong fake wood laminate Black Walnut floor went in. Do you love it? I love it. We also installed one (1) baby.

September 23, 2008

Winner, and New Technology Needed Pls

Um, heh-LO! Did SOMEONE post a pay-it-forward contest and then just wander off and not choose a winner? Swistle, I am looking in your direction.

The winner is Erin of MO Mommy, which is practically COSMIC TIMING because she is feeling a little GRIM lately and has been inadvertently shoplifting and so forth, and so this seems like the time for a hot brownie injection. Except they will not be hot, they will be cold and beginning to get stale on the edges. And they will be surrounded by random Target finds, including a few cutie things I bought yesterday from the school supply clearance section, which does not sound very exciting I grant you but they're VERY CUTE THINGS and I bought them for myself as well because they were so cute.

Also: I am getting a NIECE. No, not for the pay-it-forward package! I mean, that's what the answer the pay-it-forward question ended up being. I guess now I will have to learn how to spell the word "niece" once and for all.

Okay! Now that I've handled that little matter, I need to have a big hand-wring: it's Rob's first day of clarinet lessons at school, and he doesn't know where he's supposed to go for the lesson (it's first thing in the day, before he goes to his classroom), and although the music teacher is expecting that some children will not yet have their instruments, she said they should come with their music books. Which we remembered at breakfast time, and yet managed to send him on the bus without.

I am trying to suppress my empathetic panic, imagining him getting off the bus already worried about finding where he's supposed to go, and then realizing he forgot the music book. And that's if he remembers to worry about finding where he's supposed to go: I was already half-panicked about him forgetting to go to the lesson instead of to class. Really, I am not sure this system is set up well for my mental health. What I need is a little tiny remote control I can use to steer him.

September 22, 2008

Hogs, Basically. Just Saying.

You know what? (and try to contain your surprise): five children eat A LOT. Today, for snack: one entire box of granola bars. And afterward, they were STILL HUNGRY. I am going to have to grow crops in the backyard. Also: when the kids are teenagers, their part-time jobs will be at restaurants, so that they can mayhap eat up the scraps, like hogs.

At a camp I went to twice as a child, we scraped our plate leavings into big buckets to feed the hogs. A very efficient system, especially considering what picky and inconsistent eaters children can be. I've thought of that many times when lunch has come back to the kitchen nearly uneaten, to be scraped into the trash because it's not something that keeps. "Hogs," I think to myself. "We need hogs."

We do sort of have hogs, or a hog-like system anyway: It often happens that what one kid won't eat, another kid will. If Rob doesn't want his chunks of plum, Elizabeth does. And if Edward only wants the middles of his sandwich halves and not the edges---well, Henry is not so picky. And if Henry doesn't want all his cheese cubes, Rob does. And so during the meal the leavings and rejects are redistributed until everything is eaten.

September 21, 2008

To Jess and Torsten

This toast is part of Jess's Surprise Bloggy Bridal Shower. Jess and her fiancé Torsten went to a surprise in-person shower today, and the plan is for them to come home and find many blog posts wishing them well in their upcoming marriage. I recommend getting a glass of something delicious and taking a sip after reading each one. Toasts are being posted throughout the evening, and so this list will continue to be updated.

(If you've done a toast, remember to email me the URL after it's posted so I can add you to the list: swistle at gmail dot com.)


********

To Jess and Torsten, a toast!

May you be happy! May you agree on paint colors! May you agree how much time to spend watching television! May you agree how much snacking and desserting is appropriate! May you agree how much time you want to spend at the hotel and how much time you want to spend actively seeing the sights and how much time you want to spend in a cafe and how much time you want to spend shopping for souvenirs!

May you agree what is the right amount to spend for cable and what is ridiculous. May you agree how many pets to have, and of what species, and what is a good kind of name for a pet and what's silly. May you agree on the order in which DVDs should be sorted, and at what point the household has too many DVDs and should thin them out a little. May you agree on how many pairs of shoes a person can reasonably have without being considered to have "a problem."

May you agree on which of your parents' traits are annoying. May you agree on the splitting of holidays between the families. May you agree what time of day Christmas should be celebrated, and what foods should be eaten, and in what manner the presents should be opened. May you agree how much is the right amount to spend on presents, and whether the mail carrier should get one.

May you find a good "couple friend," where both of you like both other people without being attracted to either of them. May you find a car you both find comfortable and easy to drive. May you agree on which movie to watch at the theater. May you agree on the spelling of the word theater/theatre. May you agree whose turn it is to refill the ice cube tray.

May you have many beautiful babies. May you toast them on their wedding days. May your children have many beautiful babies, and may you toast them on their wedding days too.

To Jess and Torsten!



********
More toasts:


Earth to Bella
Not the Mother of the Year
Notthedaddy
Smart! by K. Rae
30 Dialogues
Big Dreams, Rainy City
Move Along - There's Nothing to See Here
Hello, Self
Moo's Moo
Spacebooke
Tea and Crumpets
Kristin's Four Kids
Each of the Two
A Life of Whining
All D's
All Dressed Up
Jonniker
Pseudostoops
Busty Satan
Eleanor's Trousers
Living Yellow
When I Look to the Sky
Anonymous Her
Marie's Blog Cafe
Midwest Mom
Turquoise Ribbons
Only Slightly Neurotic
Totally Serial
Kirida
Houndrat
Fat Sucks!
The Princess of Quite a Lot...
Leaf, probably...
...and hijinks ensued.
This? Is Not the Life I Ordered!
Emblita's External Monologue
Scenic Overlook
Miss Glass is Half Full
Pickles and Dimes
MO Mommy
Mighty Maggie
Pessimistic Redhead
Incubation Nation
Sagebrush and Serendipity
Just a Bunch of Silliness, Really
How About It?

September 18, 2008

Fly, Awesome Save, Chaos

Yesterday I killed a fly by using a bib to whip it down out of the air. Then I flung open the window sash, leaned out, and yelled, "I killed one with one blow!" No one thought I meant a giant. (Hee. If you don't read fairy tales, you're going to think I've been dipping into the painkillers from my last c-section.)

Speaking of tripping: earlier this week, I was going down the steps of our house, and a couple of steps up from the bottom I tripped. I am an experienced tripper, and I could tell there was no saving this one by grabbing the railing---and anyway, my arms were full and my reflexes are not good enough to have time to fling away the things in my arms and then grab the railing. So what I did was, I pushed up as hard as I could with my non-tripping foot, and I JUMPED. And it WORKED: instead of falling, I landed solidly if jarringly on two feet. It was not quite the jaw-dropper of JB leaping the fence (last photo on that page), but for me it was astonishing. I don't do Amazing Saves. I do Amazing Crashes.

Would you like to see a photo I'm titling "Chaos"?

This is me (except I am invisible) making a double batch of brownies with three helpers. Elizabeth is stirring, Edward is whipping his blankie around, and Henry has discovered a toy on a chair. The kitchen is already in chaos because things are moved around for the dining room work, and because the children have managed to rip the doors off TWO of our three freestanding cupboards, and it looks so messy to see all that stuff just hanging out. But the real clincher is the plastic JACKOLANTERN on top of the doorless freestanding cupboards. I mean, WTH? It's obviously too early for it. It's not there from....LAST YEAR......is it?

September 16, 2008

ZOMG PRETTY!!

Oh, hey. Do you want to read YET ANOTHER post about finding balance? I don't blame you. Do you want to instead talk about LOOT? OKAY!

I won Amy Quarry's contest (here's her shop), and when the package arrived yesterday I would describe my reaction as "ZOMG." I even thought maybe I shouldn't show it to you, because deliberately taunting people is MEAN.

Also, my camera is on the fritz. I need to replace it, but have been lazy about that, especially since the camera sometimes works. Today it works but not if I use the flash, so I brought everything out to the new dining room where there's good light. So you can see my painting stuff in the background, and also the boxes of flooring. Artistic!


First, take a look at this dress for Elizabeth. I GASPED. Those are EMBROIDERED DESIGNS ( <--possibly not the right term; am not someone who sews) on the fabric. Also, there are two awesome fabric things to hang on the wall, and the pink sweatery thing you can see to the lower right is a pair of leggings made out of the arms of a sweater, if you can imagine anything more creative and snuggly than that.


Then I just kept pulling out one thing after another. I'd pull out an awesome little container with a fabric lid, and INSIDE the container would be MORE THINGS. There's a necklace with TWO different pendants. A flower keyring made of buttons. Two magnets made out of bottlecaps. Two of those things that pinch big stacks of paper, but with pretty fabric on them instead of the usual plain black plastic. A little zippered fabric pouch. A barrette. Two ponytail holders.



There was also this headband, which is not in the photo above because Elizabeth wouldn't let me take it off of her. And this is a girl who says every morning as I'm combing her rat's nest hair, "NO ponytails! NO barrettes!"

If you have Facebook, you can join Amy Quarry's fan page and be automatically entered for a monthly drawing of a surprise package. This month she's doing a handbag. Do you remember the handbag she did for the Guess Swistle contests? DROOL.

This was not TECHNICALLY a pay-it-forward contest, but I'm turning it into one because I've been moody and crabby and it seems like a pay-it-forward contest is a cheering thing. But! You should not expect anything as good as the package I got from Amy, because GEEZ! I mean, honestly. I am only human, and I am not an artist. The package I put together will be more along the lines of "Things I find at Target while thinking of you," and will probably include brownies and/or fudge. And then if you win, you'll throw a contest yourself, and the prize for YOUR contest needn't be so astonishing, either. A typical pay-it-forward prize is significantly smaller: some brownies and some trinkets, say, or a paperback and some candy.

Leave a comment on this post, ANY comment but if you freeze up in that kind of situation why don't you tell me if I will be getting a NIECE or a NEPHEW in February? Contest will close on Sunday, September 21st, at noon U.S. Pacific time.

September 15, 2008

Clarinet

It was so nice to have all that helpful feedback on the difficult musical instrument choice! I barely know the difference between a trumpet and a trombone (I have to say to myself, "slide ____" and see which word leaps into the gap; then I can picture the trombone, and know it isn't the trumpet), so practically all the information was new to me.

I answered some frequently-asked questions in the comment section, but then the comment section got kind of large and so here they are:

Q: What exactly makes reeds "disgusting"?
A: My mom, back when she played the clarinet, thought it was pretty gross to have to suck on the reed until it was saturated with spit, then screw it onto the mouthpiece and put the spit-soaked reed back in her mouth. But many of you didn't find this gross, and a few of you couldn't imagine what could possibly be gross about it, and I think that's a very good sign for reed instruments.

Q: Instruments with spit valves are way more disgusting than reeds! Way more!
A: Okay! I believe you! My mom didn't play any spit-valve instruments, so the "reeds are icky" opinion was stand-alone, not relative. I'm going on what I've got, here.

Q: You said no to drums because of the noise! You are wrong! They are actually the quietest! All instruments are loud! Let him play drums! THIS FACTORY UNFAIR TO DRUMS!!
A: I think there was more feedback on this than on anything else, even though I didn't say anything about drums being loud, or about why I was rejecting them. The actual reasons I rejected them were: (1) Rob has near-zero interest in playing them, and (2) I think one of the most enriching parts of learning a musical instrument is learning to read music. I asked him again about it, though, after reading all the appealing comments about what an easy/small/quiet instrument they can be to practice on, but he still says he's not interested.

Q: Flutes are for sissies. --Anonymous
A: Since I'd just said that my brother played flute for many years, this was kind of...tactless, yes? I do see the concern with "girl instruments" vs. "boy instruments" but I don't really LIKE it. If someone says very delicately that in their school the flutes were mostly played by girls, I hear the message loud and clear and am inclined to take it into consideration as a valuable point: I may think such divisions are ridiculous, but that doesn't mean I want to sacrifice my child on the alter of social change. When someone says "Flutes are for sissies," that makes me feel as if prejudices and gender stereotypes are ugly and stupid, and that the ridiculous ones should be beaten to pulps. By boys brandishing flutes, perhaps.

Q: Why not have him play [other instrument not on list]?
A: The seven instruments I listed are the only ones offered in the school program.


After several days of discussions, the decision is that he's going to take clarinet. He ranked it at the top of his list by a wide margin, and we thought his reasons for choosing it were good: he said he liked the sound of it best, and that he preferred the kind of instrument with a lot of keys where a certain combination of keys meant a certain note, rather than a "sliding" way of finding the notes (as with the trombone and with string instruments).

This is so strange for me! I tried piano and recorder in elementary school and experienced Epic Fail with both (no interest + no talent), and so I don't even know about practicing, or how to read music, or how to take the instrument apart and clean it, or how to suck on a reed. You can bet I'll be asking desperate questions in the future of all you ex band members.

September 13, 2008

Question: AFP Screen

Hey. I have a question. For those of you who during pregnancy got the 16-week AFP screen (or the Triple Screen, or the Quad Screen, or the MSAFP) (it's the one where they draw blood and then tell you your personal odds for a baby with Down Syndrome, spina bifida, and a couple of other things), would you please comment if you got a Scary Result and then things turned out Perfectly Fine? My sister-in-law got a Scary Result, and even though we can all see statistically that things are likely to be Perfectly Fine, it would be bolstering to hear a lot of stories along the lines of, "OMG, I got a Scary Result and I worried for my ENTIRE pregnancy, and then the baby was TOTALLY FINE!"


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Pay-it-forward updates:

Happy Dash is starting a new contest with a fun twist: she's passing on one item from the package she received, and when you receive HER package you have to pass on one item from it with the package YOU send.

This Wonderful, Crazy Life is starting a new contest.

Scenic Overlook is showing the giftie she got.

Thank You For Not Being Perky is showing the giftie she got and starting a new contest.

September 12, 2008

Musical Instruments

Yesterday at school, the zipper of Rob's soft lunch box got stuck. So one of the cafeteria staff SLICED THE LUNCH BOX OPEN WITH A KNIFE.

Does that seem a little...extreme? Instead of treating this as an emergency surgery situation where the clothes are cut right off the patient, why not treat it as a Forgotten Lunch situation? Call the parent or have the child buy hot lunch or do whatever is ordinarily done when a child forgets a lunch box. Because I got that zipper unstuck with less than 5 seconds of wiggling, and so I'm pretty cheesed to have the lunch box completely destroyed.

Well. Anyway. Rob is in fourth grade, and in his school that's the year they get offered musical instrument lessons. They take them at school, so I don't have to do anything except provide the instrument and books, make sure he brings them to school on the right day, and nag him to practice. Well, and LISTEN to him practice. Perhaps that should be Item Number One.

Paul and I have decided to let him do it, and "let" is the verb we're using, too. Furthermore, we're not going to rent the instrument, we're going to buy it. Renting makes me nervous, and if we buy, we can reuse the same instrument for each child who gets all excited about band but then drops out after a year.

And so the question is, "Which instrument?" There is a list of seven instruments offered, and I've marked the four Rob says he's interested in:

1. Flute. After listening to my brother practice WITH DEDICATION for years and years and YEARS, I'm not sure I can bear to hear ONE MORE NOTE from a flute. And it didn't make Rob's list.

2. Clarinet. This is Rob's first choice, but his experience is limited to a short instrument demonstration given at school. My mother played the clarinet, and says that by the time she was done with it she never wanted to hear a clarinet again---and she's a musically talented person. Also, she says the reeds are disgusting and keep breaking. My dad says he thinks the reeds are synthetic now (and therefore less disgusting/breakable) for student use. Another issue: Rob has an overbite, and my mom thinks the clarinet could make it worse, since the clarinet pushes firmly against the inside of the front top teeth.

3. Alto saxophone. This has some appeal, but it's a more expensive instrument, and it's fourth on Rob's list. My mom says this one has the disgusting reeds problem too, though my dad again counters with the synthetic thing. My mom further declares that the sound of a child practicing on a saxophone "defies description." Then she describes it anyway: "absolutely nightmarish."

4. Trumpet. The dentist recommended it for overbites. It's second on Rob's list. But my mom points out that the trumpet is a LOUD instrument, and that we should take into account whether we want to subject the neighbors to a 30-minute daily practice session.

5. Trombone. Also recommended for overbites. Third on Rob's list. Loudness/neighbors issues.

6. Baritone. No. It's too large and it's too expensive.

7. Drums. No.

September 10, 2008

Addiction

This morning our internet is down, and I am writing this post in the body of an unsendable email. I am, of course, feeling antsy about the internet being down. And this reminded me of something I've been irritated about lately: all the buzz about how if you feel antsy without your internet connection, that means YOU ARE ADDICTED TO THE INTERNET OH NOES!!!

I think I've mentioned before that I have a phone phobia. But when our phone is out, do I feel intense relief? No, I feel antsy. When will it be back? What if we need it? I keep picking it up to check if there's a dial tone yet. I HATE AND FEAR the phone, but apparently I AM ADDICTED TO MY PHONE OH NOES!!!

If my car broke down, I would feel antsy and uncomfortable until it was working again. I'd keep thinking of things to do, and then going, "Oh, wait. No car," and feeling unhappy. I'd be stressed about not having it. I would have trouble living my life without it. I am also addicted to my car.

If the postal workers went on strike and there was no mail, I'd be very unhappy indeed. No mail? AAAAGGGHHH!! Where is my mail? When will there be mail again? What do you mean I literally can't mail anything?? I am also addicted to the mail.

I like to read. If I wasn't allowed to read, I would have times every day when I didn't know what to do with myself. I like to read while supervising the kids in the playroom. Reading keeps me from interacting with my children! I am addicted.

I am addicted to so many things! Food: I have to have some SEVERAL TIMES A DAY or I get upset. My washer and dryer: if they break down, I get stressed---and I get increasingly stressed with every day that goes by. Running water: if the water gets turned off so they can work on a pipe, I hardly know how to live my life. Pens: you should see how tense I get when I can't find one!

I don't struggle with this one myself, but I've heard there are people who exercise every single day. If they can't do it, they say they feel restless and jittery. They NEED their exercise fix. "Natural high," my ass: they are ADDICTED and should SEEK HELP.

Some people have jobs, and they spend HOURS AND HOURS A DAY doing them. They think about work even when they're home. Sometimes they're eager to get back to work, even though they were JUST THERE. Addicted, clearly.

From what I hear (hi, mom and dad and many of their friends!), some people enjoy sex. They'd rather not give it up. Get this: even when they don't want children, they STILL engage in this now-pointless activity! Often with the SAME person, again and again over YEARS! Man, they are SOOOO addicted.

It's possible to be accustomed to something without being addicted to it. It's possible to enjoy something---even enjoy it IMMENSELY---and not be addicted to it. It's possible to miss something very badly when it's gone, and yet not be addicted to it. It gets pretty tiresome to keep hearing otherwise.

September 9, 2008

What I Ate for Lunch AND What I Ate for Breakfast

I am perfectly willing to listen to Caillou whining in the background that he doesn't WANNNT his mommy and daddy to go to work, he wants them to PLAYYY with him, as long as it means I don't have to listen to Edward and Elizabeth whining the same thing.

I ate yellow for breakfast and orange for lunch:


The yellow is lemon muffins (they always come out a little dry; I'm still working on them) with lemon glaze, and the orange is orange bell pepper and baby carrots. I didn't include the heaping bowl of blue cheese dressing because it's (1) really heaped and (2) not orange.

Hey, if you have Netflix, has it ever told you at the top of your queue that you've qualified for a bonus DVD? Not the thing where it says toward the end of the month that you can upgrade to 4-at-a-time for only $1 or whatever, but that you get one extra just as a one-time thing? It told me that for the first time today, and when I looked it up in the Help section there was nothing about it, and I don't exactly "read mailings," and I couldn't find any email way to contact them: it just kept looping me back to the FAQ and a phone number. It's probably fine, I am just a little teeny bit worried that there will be some downside to it. A secret charge! An accidental upgrade! ...Now that I'm writing this out, it seems like kind of a silly thing to be worried about.

I'm in the market for a new, inexpensive but awesome camera, and also for a new, inexpensive but awesome upright vacuum. I was going to ask for advice, but...I mean, do you ever feel like you've hit your absolute maximum for posts about cameras (Nikon!!/Canon!!) and vacuum cleaners (Dyson!!)? I've read so many of them, I shouldn't be posting about it at all, I should just search for other people's posts. Besides, I'm probably getting the Canon PowerShot and the Hoover Tempo Widepath, and so why even START a discussion that's going to involve Dyson and SLR?

September 7, 2008

Apple Bread Recipe

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Crisco
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoonfuls cinnamon (optional; it's good both ways)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped apples (I leave the peel on)
1/2 cup nuts (optional; I always leave them out)

Cream sugar and Crisco. Add eggs. Add dry ingredients. Add vanilla. Mix in apples and nuts by hand. Don't taste the batter or you will end up eating ALL of it.

Pour into greased bread pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 hour. Spill water on it and fling it into the yard in a weepy tantrum, or else slice it and eat it. I like to toast it and butter it and eat it with a hot cup of coffee or tea. MMMmmmm.

September 6, 2008

Prescription for Feeling Better

Cup of caffeinated tea

Large glass of water

B-Complex

Eight (8) ginger snaps

A "the world is a good place" video sent to me by Laura:

Saturday

This morning started out with a cat accident on the carpet.

Then I looked out the window and noticed that I got distracted and missed the pear harvest: 30 perfectly gorgeous pears were rotting on the ground. I'd been looking forward to those pears since last year, when they were so delicious I ate every single one and barely shared, and then was upset because there were no more. That kind of attention lapse can't be taken back; I have to wait another year.

I made apple bread for my brother's birthday. It was cooling on the counter, and I was so glad that chore was done because I hadn't been sure when I was going to be able to do it. I got myself a drink of water. I spilled the water over both loaves of apple bread. We don't have enough eggs or enough apples to make another batch.

My tooth is still hurting. The dentist said it might hurt for up to a week just as a result of messing with it. So maybe this is still okay. Or maybe it is a root canal. And then maybe the root canal won't stop the pain, either, and then we'll find that OOPS it's actually an adjacent tooth that is the problem.

I have seasonal allergies, and even with allergy medicine I want to rip my face off.

Henry is "between naps": he needs more than one nap a day or else he's fussy, but if he gets two naps he doesn't go to sleep well at night. So today he cried and fussed and cried and fussed, and finally I put him down for a morning nap when it was really too late to go down for a morning nap.


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Pay-it-forward updates:

Spuddy Buddy is starting a contest for a good cause.

A Little Left of Lost is starting a new contest.

September 4, 2008

Also: Don't Bite Numbed Cheek/Tongue

Back from the dentist, and if that's all I need done I'll be happy. He said there was a little decay under an old filling, and so he redid the filling. And since the old filling was silver, and the new one is white, I am pleased about this for vanity alone. Also because all my silver fillings are old and gradually need replacing, so I'm glad that the one that needed replacing was an older filling and not a newer one.

He said that unless I keep feeling twinges, this means we've solved the problem. Continuing twinges = root canal. So you see this can go either way here, the Happy Path of Nice New White Filling and Not Going to the Dentist Again for Awhile----or the Sad Path of Nice New $200 White Filling Taken Right Back Out to Make Way for Even-More-Expensive Root Canal.

Another mom at the bus stop this morning said her dentist charges $100 as soon as you walk in the door, so I thought it might be interesting to compare our dental costs. Yesterday, when he looked at the tooth and did an xray, the bill was $70. Today, with the filling, the bill was $200. I know fillings can vary in price depending on how significant they are: when they schedule one, the receptionist is always asking the dentist how much time, and for this filling the dentist said "2...no, 3," whatever that means. So this was a 2...no, 3 filling, and it cost $200. Is this about what your fillings cost?

Today's plan: wait for novocaine to wear off; then, eat candy.

September 3, 2008

Wednesday

I spent most of Labor Day priming the new dining room. I'd thought, "Hey, it's just one room. How long could it take?" LONG. For one thing, it's a dining room but there's also a mud room. And both rooms need not only the walls but also the ceilings painted. Best purchase: the $12 extendable-handle paint roller I dithered over in the store. Mediocre purchase: the $7 non-stick paint pan that claimed I could let the paint dry and then just peel the paint off in a sheet (FAIL---but fun to pick at the paint).

We chose and ordered the floor. It's Armstrong Laminate, the Black Walnut. It's the kind of floor you snap together. I hope it's not going to be too dark/dramatic.

Oh, hi. Have I mentioned we're putting in a dining room?


I went to the dentist this morning about a tooth that's been doing painful little twinges. I'll say this: it is WAY more satisfying to go to the dentist when something hurts. What I hate most is when I go in for a routine cleaning and they find $1,200 of work that "needs" to be done. It's like when the auto place says the car "needs" $1,200 of work: What if they're just totally making this up? There's no way I would know! But if something hurts and they can make it stop hurting (or, for the car, if something is clattering/smoking and they can make it stop doing that), I still hate to spend the $1,200 (panic panic financial panic) but at least I know I'm getting something out of it. ...Unless they broke it last time they were in there. Well, not thinking about that.