Monday, September 26, 2011

Rainy Day Confessions

'Tis rainy here in the center of Ohio.

A friend of mine recently lamented her Jr. High aged daughter's lack of enthusiasm over the prospect of donning rain gear. The child is not a fan of slickers.  Doesn't much care for the old mackintosh.  No rain coat for that girl, no way, no how.


As responsible adults, of course, we see the folly in her line of reasoning.  But a Jr. High girl isn't quite ready for that lesson.  Appearances are everything and there is nothing cool about the way one appears when one is actually dressed for the weather.  Somewhere along the line, we learn that it is also not cool to ruin your hairdo, sit around for hours in wet clothes, chafe..... but for my friend's daughter, that lesson is not yet relevant.  She's not biologically ready to hear it.

My immediate response to my friend was to ask if she'd tried to make her wear rain boots, too.  Except I didn't say rain boots, I said galoshes, which is a much cooler word.  Ask anyone.  And rain boots are so cute these days, why would anyone - even someone plagued by Jr. High girl sensibilities - refuse to wear them?  I'm pretty sure no one calls them galoshes, though.  And to be honest - it wasn't the first word that popped into my mind, either.  No.  The first word to pop into my mind was - rubbers.  Because when I was still tender and sweet and not wise to the ways of the wide, wet world, my mother insisted that I wear rubbers - huge red chunky abominations that slipped over my shoes to protect them from the puddles.  Sometimes she called them galoshes.  But usually she called them rubbers.

No matter what you called them, they were awful.

On rainy days I would try to sneak out of the house under Mom's radar, but in just the second before I would pull the door closed behind me I would inevitably hear, "Tammy!  Do you have your rubbers?"  There was no use in lying.  If I tried to lie, she'd figure it out and I'd run the risk of her delivering them to the school.  I could just hear the office secretary's voice over the intercom, "Excuse the interruption.  Could you please send Tammy Hunter to the office?  Her mother is here with her rubbers."

This was the mindset I had when my slightly older and much cooler cousins went to see Summer of '42 and wanted to tell me about it in that way young girls who have not yet learned the fine art of summarizing like to tell you about movies or books or TV shows or - anything.  That is to say, they left nothing out.  Every detail was included in their description.  I hadn't seen or read it yet at that point, so I wasn't positive, but I was pretty sure they didn't miss a thing.

When they got to the part about Hermie going to the drug store to buy rubbers - and how embarrassed he was - and how he bought other things - a comb and some other sundries to draw attention away from the offending rubbers, well, I laughed more than might have been appropriate for someone of my age and (lack of) experience.  I was, of course, imagining how AWFUL it would be to have to actually pick up a pair of rubbers and buy them WITH YOUR OWN MONEY.  And why did he need rubbers for his date, anyway?  Were they calling for rain?  Poor Hermie!  The humanity!  The concept of prophylactics - of condoms - was FAR in the future.  I didn't even know they existed.  Didn't know much, beyond vague and exotic whispered half-truths on the playground, about the act that might make them necessary.  But I sure knew that buying rubbers would be mortifying!

As a side note, they went on to tell me about the boys in the movie taking a couple girls to the movies.  One was trying to touch his date's boob and spent an inordinate amount of time instead massaging her elbow.  Again - inappropriate laughter from me.  Trying to touch her boob!  Why on God's green earth would he want to do something as dumb as that?  Boys are so weird!


Every now and then I'll feel the urge to watch that movie again.  The title music is just so lovely.  Gary Grimes plays Hermie with poignant beauty.  And Jerry Houser's character is a tool, but he's such an earnest tool that you can't help but root for him.

Y'know what?  You should put on your rubbers and wade through the puddles to rent it at Blockbuster!  Or maybe you'd rather minimize the embarrassment and just order it from Netflix.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Calgon, Take Me Away

It was one of those days.  No big drama, just little thing after little thing after little thing that prevented me from getting to the things I really wanted to do. Two o'clock rolled around and I hadn't found my way to the shower yet.  I was beat, but when I tried to take a little catnap, I couldn't turn my mind off.  Like I said - no big thing - lots of little things - life.

I needed that shower - it couldn't be put off any longer.


I needed a bath.

Maybe I'd have a glass of wine after my bath.


DURING my bath.

I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before.  Wine is relaxing.  A warm bath is relaxing.  Put them together and it's - well, it's a little bit of decadence is what it is.  I poured myself a glass and headed up the stairs to start the water.  


I needed bubbles. 

I was going this far, there was no point in half-assing it now.  Darn.  No bubble bath.  Shampoo then.  I poured a capful into the tub and the resulting suds were luxurious.  Decadence on a budget.  I placed my glass on the edge of the tub and made sure my towel was within reach.  Wet hands on glass would not be a good idea.  I stepped into the warm bubbles, took a long sip, and relaxed into the tub.

Calgon (ok, Suave...) take me away.

I closed my eyes, but instead of picturing myself falling into a field of wild flowers, or whatever womanly vision the old Calgon ads portrayed, I remembered a bath from years ago.

I was twenty.  I was in Paris.  I had a room with a claw foot tub in a bathroom with a balcony that overlooked the Paris Opera House.  I don't remember what floor I was on, but it was high enough that I felt comfortable opening the doors (the french doors...) to the balcony while I bathed.  I filled the tub with bubbles (french bubbles...) and decided the only thing the picture needed to be complete was wine (french wine, of course). I wrapped myself in a towel (french terry cloth, no doubt) and made my way to the honor bar. I read the price list, dismayed.  This was shaping up to be a cool moment and all, but holy moley.  I pushed the wine aside and grabbed the only thing in the honor bar that was in my price range - a Diet Coke.  Ok, there was Evian, too.  But it was Paris.  Coke was imported.  There was Evian everywhere.  They pumped Evian through the bidets, for Pete's sake.  (Ok, that part is a lie.  Or maybe wishful thinking.  Can you imagine?  All that effervescence.....)

Oh my.

I seem to have digressed.

I opened the Diet Coke.  I poured it into a wine glass.  The aesthetic could still be there, even if the fruit of the vine could not.  I stepped into the tub - the bubbles - and gazed out over the city.  A light rain began to fall.  Nothing that would warrant a mad dash to close the balcony doors, just a gentle drizzle.

It was divine.

I thought of that bath as I let the bubbles and the wine do their job while my kids did their homework and my house remained uncleaned.

Calgon, take me away.

"Remember that nap you tried to take earlier?" the wine whispered to me.  "You might want to take another go at that when you get out of the tub, Gorgeous."  Wine always calls me Gorgeous.  Vodka calls me Sexy and gin calls me DangerBroad.  Rum calls me Baby - BabyDoll with the right mixer.  Coffee calls me Hun or Pumpkin.  Champagne calls me Dahling.  Tequila just calls me Woman.  I think that might be because it's heard me roar.  Whiskey doesn't call me much anymore.  That's probably for the best.

But today was wine.

Just one glass - not enough to do much more than smooth off the rough edges.  It didn't take me to a field of wildflowers (maybe that's because I used the Suave instead of the Calgon), but I didn't feel like I was tiptoeing through a minefield anymore.  And wine was right.  About the nap, not necessarily about the gorgeous.

Just a little nap.

Just enough.

Hey, world.  You look nice.  Are you doing something different with your hair?

Wine in the tub.   With bubbles.  I can't recommend it highly enough.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Particular Sadness of Potato Pancakes

There is a book which is titled The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  I didn't much care for it.  I didn't get all the way through it, actually, but the premise was an interesting one:  The protagonist in the story would feel, upon eating, all of the emotions that the person who prepared the food had been feeling.  Lots of potential there, eh?

Execution?  Meh.  (One readers humble opinion, of course.  Your mileage may vary.)

There is, though, something to the idea that different foods conjure up different emotions or feelings.  I know I'm far from alone in this - there are specific foods I need to eat when I'm in certain geographical areas.  There are particular foods which can evoke a certain mood.  The perfect food - like the perfect song - can transport you to a different time and place.  Some make you feel young, some like you're on vacation, some taste like the comfort of home.  Some foods bring certain people to mind - even if you haven't thought about them in ages.

This brings me to potato pancakes.

My dad passed away just before festival season began this year.  He loved a good festival - he never wanted to miss a thing.  He listened to every band and tasted nearly every food.  That man fested with gusto.

His favorite festival food by far was potato pancakes.  He would stand in lines a full city block long for a potato pancake, lovingly made by the little old ladies of the local churches.  (I feel obligated to tell you that not all of them are little and not all of them are old and not all of them are even ladies, but there is something about the phrase "little old church ladies" that appeals to me.)  He always knew who had the best potato pancakes and would advise me on the best time of day to acquire the same.

Yes sir, he did love him some potato pancakes.

I visited my mother this past festival weekend, during this year of first-time-without-Dad events.  As a side note, I have been personally feeling the loss of my father more profoundly this week than I have since the first days after his passing.  When I call home (or home calls me) it's always Mom who does all of the talking.  Twice a year, though, Dad would call me (at Mom's insistence, I'm sure, but that is entirely beside the point).  Those two times would be my birthday and my adoption day.  When I went to bed on the night of my birthday without having received that call - knowing that I'd never receive that call again - well - you're a smart person.  You know how that played out.

We're getting through those firsts.


My mom has been unable to attend many festivals this summer, so caught up in the memories is she.  As I headed out the door on Saturday, I said, "Are you sure you won't join us?"

She shook her head.  "I don't want to go.  But I wish", she added wistfully, "I could have a potato pancake."

"I can bring one back for you", I offered.  I understood why she didn't want to go, but was pleased that I could possibly offer a treat - a consolation.

She shook her head again.  "I couldn't eat one", she said, choking back tears.

I nodded, understanding.

When we passed that particular booth, Tom and Livia decided to partake.  I found that I just couldn't.

Not this year.

Not yet.

Maybe next year.

I'll try next year.

Those little old church ladies do make a fine potato pancake.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Another Trip 'Round the Sun

Yesterday was my birthday.

In my own little ego-centric universe, that marks the beginning of the year for me much more accurately than January first does.  If resolutions are to be made, I tend to make them birthday to birthday rather than calendar year to calendar year.  Reflecting over the past year takes place at this point, too - the good the bad and the ugly.

Every year, it is so easy to say, "Well THAT one was rough!  I sure am glad to put THAT behind me and start with a fresh slate!"

There are, of course, a couple problems with that particular line of reasoning.

First of all, we don't get a clean slate.  It just doesn't work that way.  We bring all of our baggage along with us. Throwing away the old calendar or blowing out the candles on the cake doesn't clear the record - it just marks the passage of time.

Second, every year - EVERY SINGLE YEAR - has good stuff and bad stuff.  Sometimes these don't balance out, causing us to attribute particularly high or low rankings to specific years - but if you REALLY think about it - no year is COMPLETELY good or bad.

This past year was indeed a rough one.  I lost my dad, one of the best men I've ever had the privilege of knowing.  I had other family problems I wouldn't wish on anyone.  For a while there, I crawled up so deep inside of myself that I wasn't sure I'd ever find my way out.  It was a rough year.  One of my roughest to date.


I went to some great places this year.  I met some cool people this year.  I ate well and drank well and laughed well this year.  I felt loved this year - often from unexpected sources.  I journeyed a few steps closer to contentment.  I watched sunrises and sunsets.  I grew.  I was humbled.  I was joyous.

A year ago, when the past year was the upcoming year, I christened it "The Ugly Duckling Year".  I had just had a tooth extracted - right up front - and I suffered a lot of private and not-so-private indignities as a result of the prosthetic and the implant procedure.  I thought it would take a year, but it's been pushed back two more months.  That's beside the point.  The point is, I knew that it was going to be an ugly year.  (I couldn't have anticipated how ugly.  I was really just thinking aesthetics when I came up with the name.)  I accepted it.  I welcomed it, even - recalling the story of the ugly duckling - and its transformation into a beautiful swan. I would USE my 'ugly' year.  I would lose weight.  I would learn the 'beauty stuff' that has always eluded me.  I would dress better.  When that crown was finally placed, it would be like a big ole' reveal on a makeover show.  I would be smokin'.

Well, the truth is, the ugly duckling was a swan all along.

I didn't lose weight.  BUT I came a long way towards improving my health and accepting that fabulousness is not one size fits all.  (It's a journey.  I'm not there yet.  But I've made a LOT of progress.)

I didn't really learn any 'beauty stuff'.  BUT I am paying more attention to it and learning.  See above.  It's a journey.  Plus I've started to get regular manicures and it is really astounding how much better a small thing like that can make one feel.  Could proper hair care be next?  Nothing is impossible.  Stay tuned...

I don't know if I'm dressing better or not, but I do know that I'm paying more attention to how much I like something as opposed to how good the sale is.  Again - not a destination, but a step in the right direction.

Bottom line?  I'm doing ok.

A duck is a duck and a swan is a swan and me?  As my tagline states, I'm just a frustrated bohemian suburbanite.  I think I'll spend the next trip 'round the sun just hanging out being the best FBS I can be.

I'm too old to blow out candles - I'm veering into fire hazard territory - so let's just lift a glass together, shall we?


Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Commute

The start times for my kids' schools have changed this year.  Liv starts Jr. High almost a full hour later than Lea starts High School.  This is a problem, because last year I got into the habit of driving them to school.  They both hate the bus.  I still make them ride it home, but I figured if I could start their day on a brighter note, why not do it?  Eliminate that first-thing-in-the-morning stress-er.

When we received notification of the time changes for this year, I told them I wouldn't be able to do it.  It takes me about fifteen minutes to get to the school.  I would have to take Lea, come home, and take Liv.  Over an hour, all told, spent on getting the kids to school.  Ridiculous.  Wasn't gonna happen.  Sorry girlies, you're back on the bus.

They balked, but understood when it was laid out for them.

The first day of school rolled around and they were set to take the bus.  I said, "Aw, first morning, I'll take you - just for today."

Second morning?  You guessed it.

I think I'm going to try to keep it up.  That's crazy, right?  Not entirely.  My reasons are more selfish than not.  For the first time in a long time I get daily, built in, alone time in the car with each of them.

Every parent knows that the best conversations take place in the car, right?

Realistically, the amount of times I'll be able to do this is finite.  Lea will be sixteen in six months, for Pete's sake.

Sometimes when they start talking, I hear the ghosts of their little pre-school voices, chattering at me from the back seat, telling me about their world.  Their world has changed significantly, but my interest in it has not.

"Y'know what?"

"Tell me."