Young, dumb Meg is the girl the the right. It should be noted that this picture is from a year before the happenings in this post. Neither of those boys (or the girl, for that matter) was involved in the creation of this ridiculous tale. Because, you know, they weren’t idiots.
Sometimes this whole wife to a husband, mother to children, fellow contributor to the human race thing has me a little intimidated. I keep thinking that life, you know with all its living and breathing, should be given with a dose of wisdom, a smattering of common sense. Maybe, you know, the ability to not be a complete idiot. Sometimes, most times, I feel like I missed that dose, that smattering, that ability to be less dunce-like. (If you want to revel in how truly ridiculous I can be, feel free to read this post.)
I mean my goodness. The magnitude of my ignorance is staggering. I have 1,200 pictures on my iPhone because I can’t figure out how to download them. I am seriously considering buying a new one so that I can just start over. I spent last week painting our basement. Halfway through the project, Viola snuck up behind me put her entire hand in the gallon of paint and ran it through her hair. Like a real amateur, I left it there until it dried. I mean what was I supposed to do? Stop painting and give my baby a bath? Please. Do you know how hard it is to get dried latex paint out of thin, feather baby hair? My first instinct was to shave it all off. My mom had to step in and tell me instincts like that are wrong. They are so, so wrong. And finally, until very, very recently I thought a balloon filled with air would float if you tied it to a string. Because you know, air becomes lighter than air when the rubber that contains the first air is restrained by a string while suspended in the second air.
My general stupidity (and I mean that in the most loving, self-accepting way) has been my constant companion and was never more apparent than during my ever so brief college years. (Brief because I like, totally, didn’t graduate.)
For example, there was this boy named Sethos*. He was a senior at Utah State University, an institution I had just left for the greener pastures of Provo. The two places were separated by 125 miles. However, I still had good friends at my former place of procrastination study and they said there was a boy I had to meet. So I took myself and my red lipstick out on a weekend holiday to visit with old roommates and you know, go on a blind date with this guy since I was going to be up there anyways. (I suppose I was wise enough to know that admitting to driving over 100 miles for a boy I had never met smelled a little desperate. Thank goodness for friends who were willing to pretend along with me.)
The first date was Chili’s (Chili’s!!! RED FLAG! RED FLAG!) and old Elvis movies at his place. He told me I was pretty. I was shocked. Surely no one had thought that about me before that day or would after it. I believed it was an observation unique to his brain. We kissed. He was nice and funny. He wrote witty, au courant reviews on all the most alternative bands for the school newspaper and loved Garrison Keiller. I loved the former and didn’t hold the latter against him.
The weekend ended and the cringe-worthy, pathetic, full assault on acceptable standards of self-respect began. We IM’d while I worked and wrote silly things on each other’s Myspace walls. (This was before Facebook. Please, I know you had one, too.) I scrolled through his pictures and read his articles and hoped he’d call. Around Thursday he generally did…to see if I would be in town. And boy, I always made sure to be in town. You know how guys love girls that drop everything and drive through freeway and mountain pass to get to them as quickly as their VW Beetles will take them.
There were many dates, but one stands out in my memory. We were eating at to my favorite local (to him) restaurant, a little place with a cowboy sensibility and country friend chicken. I was wrist deep into a pot pie when he started telling me about how he went through all of high school without eating ranch dressing because he thought it was too bourgeois. He chuckled and shook his head. Thankfully, he had learned the error of his ways by college. But truth be told, he still enjoyed a well-made house vinaigrette now and then. I nodded and smiled and wondered why I had never pondered the classist implications of my condiments. This was also same date where we discussed his life changing experiences at Lillith Fair at length. (Is this as painful for you as it is for me? Yeesh.)
That boy only came to see me once. He was visiting his family a couple of towns over, so it wasn’t too out of his way. I was glad. I didn’t want to be out of anyone’s way. We talked and kissed and I thought that both of those things meant something to him because they meant something to me. I started telling people about him and wondered if you know, this was going to turn into something, well, you know…more serious.
I thought I should ask.
A few weekends later, after watching a Ryan Adams concert and reading to one another (Yes, reading. To one another), I did just that.
“Hey, I was wondering. I mean. I think we like each other. You know, I like you. And you seem to like me. And I don’t know if you are dating anyone else…or if you want to….ummmm. But I am just wondering what you were thinking about this,” big gesture with my hands, “whole thing we are doing here….”
He looked grave and thoughtful and said something with so much more depth than what all those non-Garrison Keiller quoting boys would have said,
“Oh, Megan. Of course, you are safe, you are safe.”
And there it was. Those three words that every girl hopes to hear from the boy she likes. It was a sentiment that was both confusing (Safe from heartbreak? Safe from singledom? Safe from velociraptors?) and also seemed to go without saying (uh, was I in danger at some point?).
Here’s the thing, I totally bought it. Me and my smeared lipstick (where is your dignity, young Meg??) walked out of that apartment feeling like he and I had really found the beginning of something sort of special. On the way home I stopped at a few book stores and then decided to celebrate my good fortune by picking up extra guacamole taquitos on the way back to my friend’s place. By the time I got to her room, the taquitos were soggy and Sethos had sent me a message on Myspace. The subject line was “Falling Leaves”. It was a break up letter. With over 1500 total words.
Did I mention it was on Myspace? And that is was titled “Falling Leaves”? I mean. Come, on. You can’t make this stuff up.
It was days before I could eat guacamole again without feeling that sick slide of humiliation. DAYS! It was a week before I felt up to sending him the reply I felt he deserved. At the time, I thought I had written a masterpiece in post-break up snark. Something that was both nonchalant and devastatingly witty. I would like to think I was right. He certainly deserved it. But I was fresh off of considering it eye-opening to be thinking about salad dressing as a statement of political thought. I am not sure my judgment was what one would consider sound. And it was two months before I stopped reading his articles, checking his Myspace page and wondering if he was going to call.
My goodness, suddenly my balloon with string hypothesis is looking like one of my brighter moments.
May the saints preserve us.
*When I give my past boyfriends Pharaoh names as aliases, it makes me feel a little less stupid for having dated them in the first place. I mean his name was Sethos! What was I supposed to do? Not go out with the guy that defeated an army because millions of mice ate the combatants quivers and bows? Yeah, right.
I burned the holy heavens out of my hand last night. (The white in the picture is flour, the blue is aloe vera, two at home remedy suggestions that took the pain from four letter word atrocious to well, four letter word horrible. A considerable difference. But my hand would like to move to aw, heck bad as quickly as possible.) Notice that despite the intense pain I was able to left handed eat a full plate of prime rib and creamed corn. Mama does not mess around. I am off to Urgent Care today to have the blistering and oozing tended to by the proper authorities. Regularly scheduled blogging will commence tomorrow.
Have a good Monday.
It might be time to update the annual Father’s Day card. I am not sure that your “dear father” has much love for elaborate floral scapes.
This post is brought to you by American Greetings.
I spent so much of my childhood crying. My tears had no inhibition. They came when they felt like it, pouring down my face in public and private alike. I wept because the girls at school didn’t want me to play Little Mermaid with them on the playground. Teared up over the outcome of books I was too young to read (Of Mice and Men at nine years old? What were you thinking, parents?.) Bawled because I thought maybe someone looked at me in a way that really wasn’t that nice.
My goodness. It must have been exhausting to be around me.
The tears continued into my teenage years. The causes of my adolescent tears were very similar to my younger ones. Only by that time, it was Alicia’s birthday party rather than Little Mermaid, Tolstoy in place of Steinbeck and the girl in 6th period English teasing me about my hair rather than a roll of the eyes. We can thank the gods of teenagedom that while the tears still came, they began to show restraint in place and timing. They always waited to appear until I got home.
My parents were so patient. They listened, they counseled, they hugged. Having been a teenage girl herself, my mom understood. She knew that sometimes when you are fifteen and your jeans don’t fit and that one boy doesn’t even know your name, it can feel like the world is ending. She validated my hopes and disappointments while assuring me that life was so much bigger than that one moment. I wouldn’t say my dad understood, the world of an emotional girl can be a mysterious one. But he did something that was just as important. He made me laugh.
I remember sitting on his office floor my freshman year of high school. I had just decided I wouldn’t try out for the cheer leading team, because I couldn’t dance or do the splits or bring myself to shout for a football team I didn’t really care about. It was one of those truly difficult moments of growing up. One of those instances where you realize the things you love, the things you are, don’t fit the ideal. I hadn’t yet realized that the ideal wasn’t real. It was a figment created by high school movies and insecurity. I remember sobbing out the words, “If I am not going to be a cheerleader then what am I supposed to be?” It was not the deepest question I have ever asked, but it is one of the most earnest. I don’t remember what my dad said in return, but I do remember that it made me laugh through my tears.
By the time I got up off that office floor I had begun to learn an important lesson. There is room and need in this world for every type of girl, even the ones that don’t want to be cheerleaders. It may be a simple truth, but it is an important one. I don’t think I would have heard it if the laughter hadn’t cut through the tears.
So this Father’s Day, I am going to be giving my dad one of the best things he has given me. A good, old fashioned laugh.
American Greetings has a collection of ecards that will do just the trick. They are perfect for a procrastinator like myself. Just click, send and let the good-natured guffawing begin.
Now go forth. Give laughter, steak and ties. Be merry.
It’s (almost) Father’s Day!
In case you wondered why I am not a craft blogger…this is what I make when presented with all the necessary tools and detailed instructions. Yowza.
I should be posting my next installment in my Call to Womanhood series today. It is nearly finished and I meant to dedicate a late night to it yesterday. But then I spent an hour reading about fashion gossip and fell asleep by ten. Not my best use of time, but not my worst either. Maybe sometimes womanhood is deciding to not do the things we are supposed to be doing? In which case this lack of a womanhood post is in actuality a post of womanhood? (Are you buying that? Me, neither.) In either case, the next post in the series will be up on Monday. Cross my fingers, hope to die.
A few weeks ago, Riley and I wondered through the mall with the girls on a rainy Monday. We let them play on the indoor tree fort and ate Chick-fil-A in crowded food court. (By the by, my love of that establishment is well documented. But a few months ago I came down with the stomach flu just hours after eating one of their sandwiches. I haven’t been able to touch one since. One of the true shames of my life. Sigh. Luckily, they now have delicious salads. Hello, Asian Chicken! How are you doing? I LOVE YOU.) During our mall wanderings, Margaret our resident observer, had a question for every sign we passed.
“Mommy! What is that word next to the star?”
“Well, then why do they have a picture of a star? They should call it Stary’s.”
“Mommy!”, she points to a Victoria’s Secret Angel, “Why does that girl in the window look so sad?”
“Oh! Sad? Hmmm. You know, I bet she is hungry.”
“Someone should bring her Chick-fil-A.”
“OH! MOMMY! Look! Monsters, Inc! What is it? Do you see them? What does it say?”
“They are having a Monsters University party here before the movie opens. Would you like to go?”
“Oh, yes! VERY MUCH!”
For next two weeks she invited everyone we met to THE MONSTERS UNVERSARARY SCREAM PARTY! DO YOU WANT TO GO? (No one did.) She woke up every morning asking if it was the party day. Yesterday, the answer was finally, yes.
We got to the mall when the party was already in full swing. It was…underwhelming. Margaret’s eyes raced ahead of our footsteps and her first exclamation was,
“Where the heck are all of the balloons?”
The hall was full of parents and children, crowding a DJ booth from a local radio station. The decorations consisted of three little monster stickers on the wall. In one corner there was a table with free posters. In the other was a table where you could make a pennant of glue, paper and pencil. It was about what I was expecting, she, however, had a grander vision. You know, characters, bounce houses, cake and ice cream, balloons. You know, a party.
I tried to make the best of disappointed hopes. We made a pennant while sitting crouched on the strollers. Viola danced in her seat while Margaret watched while I cut and glued.
“All done! How does it look?”
“You tried really hard mommy! It looks nice.”
We edged toward the DJ booth and mass of people. The parents had formed a circle and their children were competing in games and dance offs for tickets to the movie. Dozens of sweaty, round cheeked kids flailing their arms to Taylor Swift jams, hoping the DJ would call out to them at the end of the song. This was serious business and when THE GIRL IN THE PINK SHIRT won the first round every other kid looked dejected. It was hilarious and pathetic and a little smelly.
Margaret watched with me and looked worried. She thought I was going to make her chicken dance her way into the movie. When I told her we would buy tickets with money rather than her sweat, she smiled and then looked around.
“Well, let’s go, then.”
In the car she tried to make the best of it. We had driven to the mall for her and I think she was worried about hurting my feelings.
“Hey, Margaret. I actually think that party was pretty lame.”
“Really?? Me, too!”
“Yeah, no cake or characters? What was that about?”
She grinned and we spent the drive home talking about the kind of monster party we would throw.
I know it seems like such a little thing, but I have spent most of my life afraid to say the things I think, the disappointments I have felt. And I am absolutely terrified of letting anyone down by giving them less of a reaction than they hoped to have from me. About anything. I will give my daughters so many things, but I don’t want to give them that. It is an exhausting, disingenuous flaw I have struggled to let go of and if possible, I would never have them wrap their tiny fingers around it.
It’s okay, once in awhile, to be upset that there were no balloons.
I went to a conference for bloggers way back in January. It was full of fabulous people with fabulous hair and fabulous ideas. Many of the attendees were of the design/craft blogger variety and, while I felt totally welcome, I also felt a bit out of place. I am writer that doesn’t own a glue gun or one piece of neon clothing. No, not one. Everything those great girls with red lips and top knots talked about was a little outside my realm of understanding. (Wait. I am supposed to style my pictures? How is washi tape any different than scotch tape? What the hell is a bounce rate and will it affect my credit???)
By my third class, I had decided that I would leave the conference with good friends, good memories and very little practical (for my pursuits) knowledge. It was not such a bad realization. I like good friends and I like good memories. Also? The food was included in admission and there was a lot of it. A recipe for success, as far as I am concerned.
On the first day we were all gathered into a big ballroom for a meal and our first key note speaker. I sat next to my dear friend Ashley and chatted with her in between enormous bites of clear broth soup, sushi and salad. I would like to defend the amount I ate at that meal by pointing out that the food, while delicious, had about the same mass and stomach filling potential as a large bowl of air. However, I eat that way anytime I am presented with free food….it could have been steak and eggs, I would tucked in just as prodigiously.
He talked about this amazing age of industry we have entered into together. A time of around the world flights and 3D printers. It is the first time in history that the means of production have belonged to the single man rather than just the ruling body or giant business. He talked about innovators and dreamers.
And then he talked about movable type.
The Gutenberg Bible was published around 1454. The first major book printed on movable type in the west, it was a work of genius, beauty and complete exhaustion. This masterwork, this leap into a world captured on print, didn’t just take some time, it was the work of a lifetime.
Of course, once Johannes Gutenberg had perfected the art of movable type, the real work began. Each printing of the bible required an estimated 100,000 individual sorts of type. Setting a single page could take as long as half a day and the intricacies of printing required at least 25 craftsmen working on the bible at all times. The simple act of publishing one book took the combined effort of nearly thirty individuals, immense sums of money and a certainty that the book published would be of interest to enough people to justify the man labor and printing costs. It is estimated that the first printing of the Gutenberg Bible cost 30 florins, the equivalent of three years wages for a clerk at the time.
Consequently, the only major works published for centuries were the ones that were of interest to and approved by the ruling classes.
Today? Today we each have the power of creation and dissemination in our own homes. The days of approved messages and limited information are long gone. We live in a time when those 25 craftsmen and long days of type setting have been replaced by the “publish” buttons on our blogs, websites and phones. My goodness. The glory of it all! The joy of creating a message and sending it out into a world! It is such a great gift and such a great responsibility. It leaves us each to beg the question, what are we creating each day? And, perhaps more importantly, what creations do we partake of each day?
At this point I was crying into my plate, my tears puddling into a dark pool of soy sauce. It was not pretty, but it was happy. I know I will never create anything as beautiful and lasting as the Gutenberg Bible, not even close. But I am blessed to live in a time that allows me, and others, to try.
I learned two important lessons that day,
1.When you are surrounded by people who are passionate about their craft, even when it is so different than your own, you will always learn something.
2. It is always OK to cry into a plate of free food. Especially when you know they will be serving lavender hot chocolate and cookies within the hour.
Here’s to a day of creation and passionate consumption (whether of food or books or both is completely up to you).