the invites…

IMG_9507Yesterday my mother showed up at my door with 13 handcrafted birthday invitations in one hand and 1.75 liters of vodka in the other. The two are mostly unrelated.

The invites are made from paper and glitter. Stamp and ink. She didn’t write in them, but provided neatly cut slips of paper with prompts for the time, place, and rsvp.

She handed them off to me proudly. Almost cooing over the tiny planet earth and the heat embossed 13. Glitter sprinkled down as I turned one over in my hand. Not the fast fall of heavy glitter but the slow drift like the first few flakes of snow before a snowstorm.  Her work with the cards was done.

Later that evening K sat at the table as I made dinner and filled out each insert by hand. Making even the smallest mistake caused her to rip up the paper and toss it aside. The sound of ripping caused me to look up and cringe every time. I knew there were extras but I was afraid we would run out.

Early this morning I sat at the table and proofread, as requested. I tacked each insert into the card and slipped the black glitter covered birthday summons inside envelopes that had been carefully labeled with names and hand drawn emojis.

Later today my daughter, my still 12-year-old daughter, will hand deliver these cards to a special group of friends. Girls that she can’t imagine her life right now without. While K will be giving her friends the cards, they were made, with so much love, for her. With the hope that her birthday party will be wonderful. That she will feel joy. And pride. That her party will be a series of amazing moments to enjoy with her friends. Yes, those 13 invites were all for her.

The vodka is made from potatoes. It’s just for me.

there is not a raccoon in my kitchen…

As I sit quietly in my living room working I tend to listen to the sounds of home. The slight buzz and hum of my heater, the birds chirping and chattering from my high windows, the rush of cars on the street outside, and the constant chirps, pings, and trills of various notifications on my laptop. It’s my normal. It’s the white noise that fills my work hours while the kid is at school. It’s almost like the ocean. Soothing.

But as I sit here today basking in my mix of noises, curled up under a blanket, reading this, posting that, reviewing this other thing there’s another sound. A series of soft thuds. Footfalls. Scratching. A light rattling. And then a sharp *crunch crunch crunch* from my kitchen.

I drummed my fingertips lightly across the keys of my laptop. The noise stopped. I paused to listen, holding my breath. The crunching started again. I glanced around the living room looking for my cats. The sound of me looking around, the creak of the couch as I shifted, the sound of my feet hitting the floor after dropping from the ottoman. It stopped. The quite click of the burner on my coffeemaker switching off.

And then. That *crunch crunch crunch* again.

Look, you and I both know that there is not a raccoon in my kitchen. It’s my cat. Munching on his breakfast at a leisurely pace. Cats do that. They eat their food. Never mind that the big fat 20 pound cat just leapt from his hidden windowsill perch to stare at me in alarm. There is not a raccoon in my kitchen.

There is no reason for me to get up to check because it’s just my other little cat eating the scraps my big fat 20 pound cat left in the dish. When he eats he  just sounds bigger than he is. Really.

Please note: There never has been a raccoon in my kitchen. And there’s not one now. Most likely. Though I am reminded of the time a raccoon chased me for blocks because I looked at her for too long. She was a new mom. I get it. We’re cool now.

you put your hair in the coconut…

I remember putting some crazy things in my hair as a kid. Lemon juice, kool-aid, mayonnaise, avocado, tea, and that scalding hot oil treatment.  With that last one I might as well been torturing myself with tar and feathers.

Then there was the one summer I strived to find the perfect ultra-conditioning hair treatment. I read somewhere that I should condition with olive oil. Unable to find any while pilfering the kitchen cabinets, I did the only thing I could think of.

No, I didn’t go to the store to get olive oil.

I grabbed a bottle of Italian Salad dressing from the fridge, microwaved it. I ignored the heavy scents of vinegar, garlic, and oregano and doused my hair in the hot salad dressing. It got in my eyes, my ears, and my mouth. I don’t recall if it had any negative impact on my hair but I know it caused me a serious dislike of salad for the rest of the summer. Come to think of it, that could explain my reluctance to go to salad bars.

It was the last time I used something not explicitly marketed as a hair product on my hair until…

This afternoon as I went about my chores my long, dry, damaged hair kept getting in my way. Annoying me as I cleaned the kitchen. Feeling like straw as it fell down my back. Existing on my head and annoying me as I baked cupcakes. While putting baking stuff back in the cabinet my gaze fell upon a nearly empty jar of coconut oil. I was reminded of my youthful forays into cooking products as beauty treatments.

Stupid hair. It’s getting long but it isn’t long enough. And though I know I need to cut it a couple of times each year to keep split ends at bay I don’t want to. Also I’m lazy about my hair. I want lots of it but I don’t want to have to do anything with it. Ever. I just want to wake up in the morning with naturally lovely locks.

That’s probably how I found myself sitting on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon hair slathered in fragrant oil wondering exactly how long I should let this sit and hoping it turns out better than the salad dressing…

The five stages of brunch line grief…

screendoorBrunch. That perfect lazy combination of breakfast and lunch. Decadent breakfast foods with a lunchtime sensibility served up with steaming coffee, a delicious assortment of carefully crafted cocktails, and a greatly reduced amount of food related guilt. I mean come on, it’s the weekend. And I’m sure that huge buttery meal I just had with 4 cups of coffee and two cocktails is totally a better choice than two separate meals. Just imagine what I could have eaten if I had both breakfast and lunch?

It’s without a doubt my favorite meal. I look forward to it all week – sometimes I can’t wait for the weekend and I sneak one in mid-week just to get a hollandaise fix.

But real brunch here in Portland is reserved for the weekend. For when you have the time to say Fuck it, I don’t have to do anything else today! Because you ate rich decadent food that makes you want to sit around and binge watch cooking shows, you went ahead and had the second Bloody Mary and now it’s nap time, or because you decided today was the day to go to that extra special brunch place and you know after you stand in line for half the day you’ll be out of time to do anything else. Yes, sometimes the brunch lines really are that long. And sometimes it’s worth it. But you need to know what you’re in for.

The 5 Stages of Brunch Line Grief

waiting1 – Denial

You and your partner stroll up to the crowded restaurant hand in hand. You see the crowd waiting out front and the folks seated in the entry but you push through the crowd all smiles. You tell the hostess there’s two of you and when she says “The wait will be about 90 minutes” you say “cool” and she jots down your name with a sloppy number 2 beside it. Sure she said it would be 90 minutes. But there’s just two of you and you said you’d be fine sitting anywhere. That opens up the patio and bar as options. Knowing you’ll probably be seated in 30 minutes you order Bloody Marys and coffee to take out into the warm Portland sun while you wait to hear your name.

2 – Anger  

As you stand out in the sun watching people come and go you start to notice things about your fellow would-be-patrons. Why are all of them wearing the color purple? Did you miss a memo? Are we required to wear 5″ heels or work-out clothes to brunch now? And what’s with all the pleather? It’s February for fuck sakes, why is the sun so bright? It’s in my eyes. Why is it in my eyes? And why does that guy keep using his toddler’s jacket hood like a leash? What an asshole! And why are people hogging the benches. There’s room for like 20 people on those benches and it’s being taken up by 8 folks who are just spreading out all over and setting their shit down. Those benches are meant for butts! And then you notice that someone who showed up after you is being seated. OH NO THEY DIDN’T!

3 – Bargaining

It’s been 45 minutes. That’s half the wait time. It would be silly to leave now because they’ll probably seat you at any moment. You want to go in and check with the hostess because you’re pretty sure that someone swiped your table or that she accidentally skipped over your name but you don’t want to be that person. You don’t want to be high-maintenance. If you’re just patient good things will happen. Any minute now. Any minute. “Do you want to leave?” you ask, almost as a requirement. “I mean, we’ve already waited this long…”

empties4 – Depression

The sun is bright and you wish you could enjoy it but your hands are cold and it feels like that will never change. You hate yourself for wearing the cute jacket with no pockets and you’ve been hauling around these empty pint glasses and coffee mugs for an hour. You just can’t do it any longer but there’s no bus tray and no one has come to take them so you just keep holding them because setting them at your feet is causing you too much anxiety. You don’t want to be that asshole who broke a bunch of glasses. As a family of six that was hogging the bench is called inside you give up standing and scuttle over to the bench before someone else snatches it up. With your sad collection of empty cups you perch on the bench leaning on your partner for support. You no longer have the strength to carry on a conversation. You know you’ve been forgotten. That quaint grumbling in your belly has given way to full on nausea.

5 – Acceptance

It’s been 2 hours. You’re in it for the long haul. You’re hungry. You’re weak. You know now that the Bloody Mary and 3 cups of coffee were a mistake but the crowd is thinning. They’ll call your name soon. And hey, if they don’t you can always stop at a drive through on your way home. Damn a cheeseburger sounds good right now.

Epilogue

Yes. Two hours. We waited for two hours to have brunch on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Hearing the hostess call my name was like the gentle tinkling of a chime. “Cami! Cami?” We pulled ourselves from the bench. I can’t speak for him but my ass was asleep, my stomach ached, and I was in some weird trance-like state. We hauled our empty pint glasses and coffee mugs into the bustling restaurant. Where it was warm. And bathed in a yellow light. And there was a soft seat. And an actual table. And clean coffee mugs into which a waiter poured fresh coffee. He, amazing man that he was, took away our dirty mugs and glasses. Brought us fresh lovely cocktails. As we sat with our cocktails after our orders had been taken (while I was away waiting in line for the bathroom) we chatted about the fact that it just isn’t worth it. This long line standing out in the elements. Waiting. For food. When really you can get amazing food all over the city. And we totally have other brunch places we really like.

And then it happened. The waiter brought my brunch plate. A bowl of grits with shrimp and some amazing bacon sauce thing. With green onions sliced on an angle sprinkled on top. And two poached eggs on the side.

And I took a bite. And my heart melted. And I know we’ll do it all again because, damn I love shrimp and grits.

updated: In case you wondered, Portlandia is a documentary.

because I needed one in hawaii…

IMG_9432I think at some point in my life I had a jean-jacket. I can’t recall having one but it seems unlikely that I didn’t. You know, as a kid or something. I know I had a corduroy jacket styled after a jean jacket. I had a denim jacket with a mandarin collar and 3/4 length sleeves, I don’t think it counts.

I have a suede jacket styled after a jean jacket which I’ve only worn twice in like 10 years. Because Portland and suede. And also it’s tan. K once wore it when she had to dress up as Amelia Earhart for a speech – she was ridiculously cute that day with her little hat with earflaps and my too-big jacket. Neither of us are likely to ever wear it again. Because, Portland and suede and tan.

A denim style jacket actually made of denim is not something I can recall in my long history of owning and wearing (or not wearing) jackets. I don’t think this would ever have come to mind except that when I was in Hawaii last month I suddenly realized that the only pieces of clothing I actually needed were long sundresses, a swimsuit or two, and a light denim jacket. Rather than spend precious time shopping for a jacket while I was there I made do with one of Rick’s button down shirts. But I never really let go of that need for a jean jacket.

I know, I know. Let it go Cami. Let it go.

So today at lunch when I decided to go get a bottle of bourbon (because we’re all out and it’s Friday night and who really wants to have no bourbon on a Friday?) I found myself in a favorite little local boutique looking for a sundress because Spring is well on its way and I like pretty things. And it hit me in that moment. I need a jean jacket to go with the sundress that I have not yet found but hope to buy. To go with that mythical sundress (which I didn’t find) and all the other sundresses that have been and might be.

At this point I would like to say “long story short” but that’s no longer a possibility, so I’ll just say I found a jean jacket on one of the racks at the cute little consignment boutique. A cute jean jacket. A jean jacket that someone else had done the hard work of breaking in. A jean jacket that wasn’t expensive. A jean jacket that I can take with me should I have the chance to go back to Hawaii.  A jean jacket that I will make excuses to wear again and again for the next few weeks before it’s likely forgotten in my closet. A jean jacket that I will wear with pajamas as I sit on my sofa and sip bourbon because from where I’m sitting a jean jacket goes just as well with bourbon as it does with a sundress.

Now if only I’d been able to find new pair of boots…

the twenty…

On Tuesday as K and I were walking to her class, as we’ve done hundreds of times before, we were deep in important conversation. I can’t recall what the conversation was about and the topic wasn’t the important part. It was that we were talking. Chatting. Laughing. Smiling. And strolling down the sidewalk. We weren’t in a rush. She didn’t have a bunch of homework to do. I was done working for the night. Her hair looked perfect. And I was wearing my polka dot trench coat and toting my bright red purse. We both felt lovely. And sassy. With a spring in both our steps we neared a corner and I noticed that a bus was waiting at the bus stop as Portland busses often do when they’re running early. A few feet away from the open bus door a twenty-dollar bill lay face-up on the sidewalk. I smiled and scooped it up in my hand thinking about all the lost and found dollars of my life and turned to the open bus door. I asked the waiting driver if anyone had dropped it.

I admit, that was a dumb question. How was she supposed to know? And she did look at me, for a moment, like I was an idiot. But then she replied that only one guy had gotten on the bus. I peered down the length of the bus and asked her which one.

Again, the look. But she replied by kindly shouting “Hey! Guy that just got on!” A man looked up and I asked “Did you drop anything?”

As he stood up and walked to the front of the bus  he answered “I hope not!” and started to pat himself down as folks tend to do when they feel something is missing. I held out the bill and handed it to him. His eyes lit up, he brushed a long curly brown lock of hair out of his face and smiled. “Thank you. Wow. Thank you!” he said. I smiled and stepped off the bus to see a smile on my daughter’s face. And we started to walk away until a voice from the bus door said again “Thank you. I want you to take it. A reward for being honest and doing the right thing!” I told him it wasn’t necessary. But he insisted, “I’m not broke or anything, and I want you to take it. Please.” He held out the bill to me and I smiled and said “Okay. Thanks!”

And he smiled. And the bus driver smiled. And I smiled. And my daughter smiled and then quickly animatedly pointed out that there was a woman running to catch the bus. The bus driver nodded at her and the man who wanted me to keep the money returned to his seat and the woman running to the bus caught up and stepped inside.

It was a perfect moment for so many reasons. A restoration of faith for many people. As we walked I folded up the twenty and slipped it into my pocket as K imagined aloud where that woman might have been on her way to and rejoiced in the fact that she caught her bus. And then mentioned how happy the attempt to return the money had made the bus driver and the man we tried to return it to.

We talked all the way to her class and she let me hug her as she went inside and I left to meet a friend. As I walked back the way we came I reached into my pocket to fish out the twenty. Such a little thing but it had a big impact on my day. As my fingers scrounged in my pocket to feel the soft paper I thought about what those twenty dollars might mean to other people. I fished around my pocket some more but came up empty. I checked my other pocket with the same result. And my bright red purse.

I guess I dropped it as I tried to slip it in my pocket and the money was back in the wind. I like to imagine that it found its way into the hands of someone who needed it. Or made more people smile. Or helped someone catch a bus to somewhere they needed to be. That twenty was worth so much more than face value.

the chicken or the egg…

IMG_5727You know those mornings when you really need a cup of coffee but for some reason the coffee grinder isn’t where you normally store it and it’s not sitting on the counter plugged in. And so you think “That’s okay, I just need coffee. I don’t need the extra special coffee I brought back from Hawaii .”. And then you look for the pre-ground-not-great-but-not-shitty coffee you keep in the fridge because it will be fine.

FINE.

You just need a cup of coffee. If you can just drink some coffee. Why can’t I have my coffee?

But when you look in the fridge the coffee is gone. So you take everything out of the fridge and put it all back. And then you check the cupboards and think you would totally reorganize your kitchen if only you had the time. But you don’t. So you just check all the cabinets one more time and when you’re about to give up and go to the coffee shop instead you remember that you actually keep the ground coffee in the freezer.

Those mornings? Yes. I’m having one of those.