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meeting Bert and Ernie…

A few months ago on one of our neighborhood walkabouts the kid and I stopped in at a favorite little shop to browse. Tilde is one of those shops that really doesn’t have anything you would need but tends to have a lot of stuff that you want. Really really want. They curate a great minimal selection of cards, a few twee home items, fantastic well crafted purses and wallets, airy scarves, the odd hat, some miscellaneous gift items, and stock the rest of the store with jewelry that is a feast for the eyes. Usually I stop in when I need a card or have a strong desire to part with my money and for a new pair of earrings.

On this particular day I wasn’t even planning to go into the store. We were walking past. We were on a mission. I don’t remember what that mission was. It was probably just a mission not to go in there. But as I was pretending not to look in the window of the shop but totally looking in the window of the shop something caught my eye. A bag. A black leather bag. A bag that I can best describe as looking like an origami version of a doctor’s bag.

All other thought stopped.

matt_-_nat-vegan-leather-doctor-bag-black-9d484572_lI stopped my kid from taking those next 10 steps that would lead to the coffee shop and we ducked into the store. There was some eye rolling. We don’t share a love of bags and shoes. That’s a me thing. So the fact that I walked inside and made a beeline to the most beautiful bag that ever there was caused a lot of sighs and there may have been a reminder about how I just got rid of a bunch of purses and you know what, that’s right!! I had just gotten rid of a bunch of purses. To clean things out. To purge. To make room for something new, better, perfect. A black leather origami style doctor’s bag. Okay a black vegan-leather origami style doctor’s bag.

We walked out of the store without purchasing the bag, strolled over to the coffee shop next door, ordered some tea, and as we were leaving the store just as my kid went to turn left I turned right and marched right back into the store, picked up the purse, placed it on the counter, and gleefully handed over money to take home the best damn purse in the world. That very day I named him Bert and we’ve been together ever since.

Sure sure. Sometimes I have to switch to a backpack or laptop bag, but that’s to be expected. Most of the time it’s me and Bert.

And yes, I was thinking of that Bert when I named him. That grouchy lovable felt guy was a huge part of my childhood. And yes, now that you mention it, it is a little sad that Bert the bag didn’t have an Ernie.

IMG_4364-3And so yes, yesterday when I walked into the back room (affectionately known as the shoe room) of a favorite local consignment store and found the PERFECT little black shoes with all leather uppers in my exact size that had never been worn and looked like they could keep my feet relatively comfortable for hours but be adorable with dresses for sale at a hugely discounted price, yes I did snatch them up, call them Ernie, and bring them home so Bert could meet his soul mate.

Look out world, Bert and Ernie have never been more fashionable. And my kid has never been more embarrassed by my naming of inanimate objects.

 

 

 

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the saturday workout…

I distinctly remember a promise I made to myself this morning. It was after I woke up but before I got out of bed. Before I showered. Before I threw on jeans and a t-shirt, coaxed my kid out the door, caught the train, met friends for brunch, walked to a cute little shop with tons of sundresses, walked to a restaurant for cocktails and coffee while we waited for the dress shop to open, and walked back to the dress shop. It was also before we spent an hour trying on dresses and tops and sandals. Before we decided to head to my favorite little consignment shop to try on even more dresses.

So it was definitely before we went grocery shopping, grabbed tacos and margaritas for lunch, went to the beauty supply store for a bright new bottle of hair dye. And before we put away the groceries and settled down on the couch to continue season one of X-Files.

Like I said, it was after I woke up but before I got out of bed. I promised myself that I would fit a workout in today. Lift some weights. Do some cardio. At the very least, I lectured myself, do 45 minutes on the stationary bike.

And I really fully intend to do that. Just as soon as I find my sneakers — sadly the only shoes I can see from the couch are my wedges…

snowandfriends

I have a way with animals – or – there’s still not a possum in my kitchen…

Long long ago at a table at a restaurant about 5 miles away I sat eating some chicken wings. I must have been eating them daintily because one little girl sharing the table with us told her dad that I looked like Snow White. Another little girl heartily agreed.

I’m not gonna lie. I was flattered. Tremendously so. Is Snow White the princess I would choose to emulate were I in the position to be a princess? No. But I have been dying my hair black as coal for the better part of my life. I do avoid the sun or wear a thick smear of sunblock to protect my delicate skin. And I do imagine that I rock a red lip like nobody’s business.

I still have a soft spot in my heart for those two, though I doubt either of them remember me or even each other. And if my similarities to Snow White ended with the black hair, pale skin, and red lip I’d probably be pretty happy. I’ve discussed before that I don’t have a need to clean up after 7 miners. And the thought of having to fear an evil witch’s poison every time I take a bite of a big juicy apple, well that’s a bit too much stress for me.

But there is this weird thing with the animals…

I wouldn’t say I’m an animal person so much as I would say that for an urban girl I seem to have an awful lot of run-ins with animals. Now Portland isn’t really your typical urban city setting. Yes we totally have a lot of plants and trees and stuff. And those come with animals. But still. Sometimes I think I’m an animal incident magnet. Or maybe I’m just a little paranoid and overly dramatic.

snowandfriends

 

But at least twice a year a murder of crows will follow me on a walk. And when it’s just a crow or two about they’ll walk at my feet. Or call to me from power lines, hopping from line to line, following me all along the way. At times it makes me worry they know something I don’t know. Am I about to drop dead and they’re waiting to peck out my juicy eyes? Do they love my shiny black hair and want to line their nests with it? Am I the crow whisperer?

And then there’s the occasional run-in with squirrels. Or that time a mama raccoon chased me for blocks and then I had to jump over a snake. 

And all the times that my neighbors dog gets out and goes straight for my door instead of hers. It’s even learned to knock so I’ll let it in.

And when I was a kid and we were camping there was this one time that a squirrel who we had named Cookie climbed up into my lap, looked me right in the eyes, and then plunged her little squirrel hands right into my bowl of ramen noodles, grabbed up a big ol squirrel armful, and then shoved them into her chubby cheeks and ran away with a noodle still flapping out of the corner of her mouth.

And you know, I had rats that one time. *shudders*

But I won’t count all the times the tiny little birds have harassed me on the patio of the Mexican restaurant down the street because I’m pretty sure they just wanted chips… but really, who knows?

And then there’s the possum. Well possums. Maybe it’s because of the years I spent in Texas as a child but I seem to see possums everywhere. Hanging in trees. Skittering along the sidewalk. Sometimes squished in the road. And then there are all the times that for some reason I have imagined that there’s a possum in my kitchen.

Now I know what you’re going to say, “Cami, you never told us you thought there was a possum in your kitchen.” And you know, you’re right. I’ve only written about the time I thought there was a raccoon in my kitchen.  Spoiler alert: There was not a raccoon in my kitchen.

To make an unreasonably long story even longer, this morning as I stood at my sliding door sipping my coffee and surveying the vine farm that is my back yard I saw a possum stumble out of the weeds in the back corner and onto the patio. It stopped on my rug for a moment as if to appreciate that someone had so thoughtfully placed an outdoor rug there for its paw comfort and then looked around. That’s when it saw me through the door. It’s tiny little black eyes looked into my sleepy blue eyes and I am pretty sure I took another sip of coffee before I fully comprehended that there was a possum just feet from my kitchen and it was staring at me.

I imagine it was making the difficult choice between making friends with me, playing dead on my rug, or running for its little possum life. I don’t think it realized that I am more afraid of it than it is of me and it made a run for it into the vines that run along the side of my house on the external wall of my kitchen. The last thing I saw was its skinny little possum tale disappearing into the vines.

But I could hear it. The vines were rustling as it ran on its four little possum paws. And they moved in as they pulled against its pale possum pelt. So now I can’t feed my cats in case it finds a way to get into the kitchen. And obviously I can never go in my back yard again in case it tries to make friends. Which is a shame because I really love sitting at the patio table enjoying the outdoor rug someone so thoughtfully placed under my patio table.

Also, Rick will have to do all of the grilling from now on.

 

and then my brother turned 42…

42 years ago  today my brother was born. I guess that on the day of his birth he was not yet my brother. I wouldn’t come into play for another few years. So, technically it wasn’t my brother’s birthday. It was just Matt’s birthday. But 8 years later when this picture was taken it was my brother’s birthday. And there was yellow cake with chocolate frosting. And jelly beans.

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Now I’m going to be really honest. I hate jelly beans. I mean I really hate them.  We’re not talking about Jelly Bellys, those are pretty good. I mean those plain old jelly beans that taste like some gross sugar and color combination that no human can identify. They’re awful.

But this post isn’t about them. It’s about my brother. An advocate for the underdog. A strong feminist. An animal lover. He appreciates books, comics, and most of all Transformers. He’s an adoring husband to his wonderful wife. A loving son to our long suffering parents. A supportive brother to me. And the best uncle my kid could ever hope for. And those who call him friend are lucky indeed to know him.

On this day, his 42 birthday, I’m wishing that life return to him all the goodness he’s given to others. And that he find the answer to life the universe and everything.

Happy birthday, big brother.

when the binge watching ends…

That moment where Netflix pauses play on your show and asks you if you’re still watching? Yes I’m still watching!

Yes. I know it well. You know it well. We all know it. We’ve all been there. Deep in the moment of annoyance meets shame meets I’m-a-grown-ass-person-I-do-what-I-want! Half the time I have to scramble to find the remote control to prompt it to continue.

And then I can’t find it. Because I’m snuggled down in a pile of blankets and cats and the only thing I can reach is my phone. So I just pull up the Roku app on that and use it as a remote.

No judgement. This is a judgement free zone. Binge watching is a thing now. And it totally has a place in our society.

But sometimes I long for the olden days where tv shows are meted out. Trickling to the viewing public one episode at a time. Week by week. And yes I totally know that’s still a thing that happens on television. But for the purposes of this post it doesn’t matter because I’m talking about what happened to me last week.

We snuggled down on the couch with a carefully prepared dinner. Probably pokè since I request it for dinner 6 times a day or so. We flipped through a few options and settled on a show. Typically we have a few shows going at one time. Variety is important. But mostly it keeps us from running out of one show too quickly. I’d been particularly savoring Luther and so we’d been watching it an episode or two at the most at a time. That night it was a choice between House of Cards and Luther. Why? Because there were no new good cooking shows.

Yes. Cooking shows. I have a cooking show addiction. That’s not what this is about.

We opted for Luther. Less ruthless. Less blood-thirsty. More tweed. Just my speed that evening. I sat enthralled for an hour. Finishing my dinner. Snuggling into the couch. Invading my partner’s space.

And then it happened. The end. They walked off into the bright gray sky and that was that. The show was over.

The same thing happened to me over the weekend with another show. I mean, they drove off into the blue instead of walking off into the gray but same same.

Which is why last night after watching only one episode of House of Cards we opted to watch nothing in particular whatsoever for an hour afterwards to avoid watching the last episode. These things come on so suddenly. I’m not ready to start looking for a new show…

we were out of hand soap…

IMG_3422Earlier this year I came down with a case of the crud and a horrible cough and it turned out to be Pneumonia and, as Pneumonia does, it knocked me on my ass for a couple of weeks. It was around my birthday and I hemmed and hawed and pouted because I couldn’t really DO anything. And I couldn’t go on long walks, or keep up my exercise routine, or ride my really pretty shiny new bicycle.

I took the cough syrup with the heavy-duty drugs in it even though it gave me hellish nightmares and rendered me totally useless. Because it stopped the horrible rib aching bone rattling cough. And I took the complete course of antibiotics prescribed by my awesome doctor who managed to squeeze my appointment in on a super busy day at the end of her lunch break.

And I drank a lot of water. And I slept a ton. And I worried my daughter and boyfriend. And probably really annoyed them too because wow am I a giant baby when I’m sick.

But I was patient. I followed all of the instructions my doctor gave me. And I rested for WEEKS! And even when I was able to go back to work I took it easy because I really wanted to make sure I was healthy when I took my kiddo on that surprise birthday trip.

And I WAS healthy enough to take her on that trip. And for 4 days and 3 nights we traveled and tromped and were amused endlessly. But that amusement involved both amusement parks and airplanes. Both of which are notorious germ factories. I’d say they’re worse than pre-schools. And there I was. Touching doors and rails and rides. Eating less than healthful food. Sleeping in a hotel bed. Sitting in that recycled airplane air.

And so after we got back from her surprise birthday trip I got sick again. And I was like

THIS IS TOTALLY JUST A COLD AND NOT A BIG DEAL. I’LL BE FINE.

Until I had to go back to the doctor and it turns out I have a horrible sinus infection and cruddy lungs and an awful cough and I can’t get enough air and I am so tired and I hate being sick. And I totally needed antibiotics. Again. And I almost never have to take antibiotics so twice in one year seems insane. Twice in a month is even more insane. But I needed them so that happened.

And roughly 24 hours after I started my most recent course of antibiotics I, expectedly, turned a corner. The coughing slowed. I had energy, I could stand for more than 2 minutes without wanting to climb back into bed to sleep for a year. And so I did what anyone would do.

I refilled the soap dispenser at the kitchen sink because it was empty.

And I think that would have been fine. Except then somehow I unloaded the dishwasher, loaded the dishwasher, scrubbed the sink and counters, put a load of wash in the dryer, put another load of wash in the washer, started roasting some seasoned pecans, made my kid dinner, cleaned the dining table, and just as I was getting ready to wash some pots and pans I started coughing.

And then I coughed some more.

And then I almost fell over from coughing. So I stopped doing the things and the stuff.

Which means that right now I’m lying on the couch typing this post and thinking I should probably pop bubbles on that mindless iPad game I like instead of washing those pots and pans, hard boiling eggs for the week, taking a shower, folding a couple of loads of laundry, feeding the cats, and doing all the other stupid stuff I might do if I stand back up again.

But I’ll still need to get those pecans out of the oven…

 

 

vacation from the vacation…

Knowing I would come home exhausted from many hours of running the concrete paths that are the amusement parks of Orlando. And flying from one side of the country to the other. And then back. And sharing every moment of 4 days with my teenager without a private place for either of us to go for a moment of peace except the bathroom. And some understandable lack of sleep. And timezone changes. And life.

I was smart enough to schedule an extra day off at the end of my long weekend. Arriving home Monday night I had the clever plan to spend Tuesday with my  feet up. Maybe reading some blogs. Perhaps doing some food prep for the week. Binge watching tv. That kind of thing.

And it’s a good thing I did.

Schedule that day off that is. Not relax and rest up. No no no, that would be silly because as we’ve heard time and time again there is no rest for the wicket. Faced with a whole non-weekend day off I was overcome with excitement to get things done!

I woke up early, made a big breakfast, and  created a monumental task list which included, but was not limited to all of the laundry, grocery shopping, scraping out the old gross caulk in my tub, re-caulking my tub, and general doing too many chores and running all over the place like an idiot trying to get things done so I wouldn’t contemplate doing them during my work day.

Next time around I think I will schedule a vacation from my vacation for a vacation day. But at least I have a clean bathtub.

at fourteen…

At 2:30 on Friday morning I crept into my daughter’s room, turned on the decorative “K” light sitting on her dresser, and whispered as quietly as I could.

“moooooooo”

There was no response. I raised my voice a bit, but still quietly.

“moooooooooooooooo”

She rolled over and I mooed again. She pulled the blankets over her head and I gently tugged them down and told her it was time to get up. She, understandably, disagreed with me.  So I mooed.

The night before she’d had an unscheduled case of silliness and mooed at me before she went to bed. From the hallway. From across the room. And then just before she took her leave of us she placed her face just inches from my ear and whispered to me that she would sneak into my room some night soon and moo until I woke. 

I mooed again and told her that we were leaving in 15 minutes. That caught her attention. The conversation went as you might expect. What? What time is it? What? Where? When? Why?

What?

I handed her clothes to put on and left her to get dressed and then it was a whirlwind of confusion and movement as we took the next 20 minutes to get out of the house, into the car, and on our way to the airport. All before 3am.

Why?

Because one of my favorite memories from my own childhood was the time that my parents woke me up in the wee hours of morning and, in my recollection, kidnapped my brother and me to take us to an amusement park. I’m sure we were disgruntled messes and tried every inch of their patience with us as they drove us the 250 miles from Fresno to Disneyland. But I so clearly remember my dad carrying me out of the house. Sleepy and confused and excited. The car ride with my brother getting frustrated, my mother getting irritated, and my father trying to drive. And sitting in a Denny’s eating breakfast and the look of joy on my mom’s face when my brother and I finally figured out where we were going. Oddly I don’t remember our time at Disneyland. But I  remember the adventure of getting there. The excitement of the anticipation. And the joy that my parents loved us so much that they would kidnap us to take us to Disneyland.

And I felt like, maybe, I was running out of time to make something that magical happen for my own kid.

Fourteen years ago I held in my arms a tiny little baby, more resembling a miniature shriveled version of Patrick Stewart than any other person I can think of.  Helpless but full of strength. All my hope for the future wrapped up in tiny clothes and blankets that were somehow far too big. I wondered what would happen to this little bitty person. Who would she be? What would she be like? How would she dream?

And each year I take a moment on the day she was born to wonder all those things again.

But something is different this year. So many playful pretenses have been cast aside to make room for something new. For caring more. For caring less. For introspection. For planning. For life in the now and in the future.

Fourteen. It’s a big year. A year to celebrate who is becoming, not who has been.

kFor the first time I’m beginning to feel that my parenting is in maintenance mode more often than I’m actively teaching her something new. She knows who she is and she’s figuring out who she’s going to be. She’s in the driver’s seat of her life and I’m just along for the ride. Watching the choices she makes, throwing my arm across her chest in a pointless panicked way as though I might stop her flying through the windshield if she throws the brakes on too hard. Calling out words of warning when I think she’s cutting a corner too fast or taking a wrong turn.

The destination she chooses is her own. The path she takes is up to her. It’s just my job to keep her safe along the way.

And there’s a lot of letting go in that. A lot of giving up control and authority. And maybe that’s why I decided that this was the year to wake her in the wee hours of the morning to fly across the country together to spend a couple of days immersed in a fairytale world of wizardry and merchandising.

It was an opportunity to give her something magical while I still can. To thank her for being the awesome person she is. And to wear robes in public, let’s not discount how amazing that was.

Happy fourteenth year to my amazing kid who continues to define herself on her own terms and make the world a better place every moment she’s in it.

 

 

 

a thank you note to kidney stones…

IMG_5253Not so very long ago, my father, whom I more commonly refer to as “Daddy,” was diagnosed with kidney stones.

Now, I’m no doctor, nor do I play one on tv, so you’ll have to forgive my simple assessment and description of the situation. He had big fucking kidney stones. Not the kind you simply pee out and watch for in a strainer. The big grown-ass variety of kidney stones that require surgical intervention. His kidney stones were like the size and shape of a kidney.

Big.

Because of the big-ass kidney stones my dad had to go under the knife. Or at least the modern equivalent there of. He went under the laser to get rid of those rocks and give his kidney a fighting chance. And you know, at the time, that seemed like a really big deal. A really annoying annoyance. And he and my mom handled it wonderfully. It was a surgery sure, but it was still in and out of the hospital in one day. He had to rest a bit but as far as surgeries go, easy-peasy.

And you know, that was that. Once we figured out what had been causing problems I stopped thinking about my dad’s kidneys. I think that’s pretty normal. I mean, you don’t obsess over your dad’s kidneys on a daily basis right?

So a few weeks later when my dad called and asked if we could have lunch—him, my mom, my brother, my sister-in-law, and me—I didn’t think anything of it. We’re a pretty close little family, they want to have lunch whenever they’re in the neighborhood. Plus it was a super busy work day. I’m sure I was all tied up with stuff and things and thinking about WordCamps, WordPress, and people.

So it stands to reason that I was not thinking about my dad’s kidneys. I was thinking about work and maybe iced tea and my favorite salad rolls.

Why would I assume that after buying us all lunch my father would lean against the table, look right at me, and tell us all that they found something? That those kidney stones weren’t the real problem? That, suddenly, my not obsessing over my dad’s kidneys would take a complete 180? Flip a bitch, as it were?

My dad had kidney cancer.

Whoof. Even though I’ve known for a couple of months, I need a minute. So go ahead and take a couple of deep breaths. Don’t think about cancer. Or about peeing through a strainer. Or about how hard it is to get your tongue comfortable in your mouth once you start to think about it.

Redirect.

Let’s make this about me for a moment. My dad just told me he has cancer. I was just sitting there minding my own business. It’s not like I did something awful and my dad was like “I HAVE CANCER AND YOU SUCK!” I was devastated. I listened. I hugged him. I smiled at my dad. I probably acknowledged the existence of my mom, brother, and sister-in-law. Maybe. And then I excused myself to head to the bathroom. Partly because I wanted to splash water on my face and hyperventilate in private but mostly because I wanted to text my guy to meet me at home because WHAT THE FUCKING HELL MY DADDY HAS CANCER and I was not okay.

But life is life. I took the day off work and freaked out a bit. My parents went on a cruise that they lived to regret. And minutes and hours and days continued to pass. It was all relatively normal. But for me punctuated with some intense anxiety.

Let me let you in on something that some of you probably know—and the rest of you have totally figured out. I’m a daddy’s girl. I love my dad. We had our problems when I was a kid—I was an asshole and so was he—but I am so happy and fortunate to have an amazing dad. Some folks think it’s awful. Some folks think it’s quaint. I don’t care either way.

Back to the story. Back to what this was all leading up to. Back to today. Today, my dad had his kidney removed. You see, when a kidney has cancer—and again I’m not a doctor—that kidney is fucked. It’s just shitty now. It’s just a kidney that is going to continue to be all gross and cancery and the only thing to do with it is to cut it out.

And that’s why I’ve been a little distracted lately. And short. And distant. And spacey. But not why I’ve been unpleasant. That’s just a normal part of my personality.

So when I say that my dad had to go under the knife today I mean it more literally. Today they IMG_2200cut him open and took out his kidney and poked around in his guts a bit. And he’s okay. He was surrounded by family who loves him. He had a kick-ass surgeon with cool hair. He had nurses with purpose and personality. And he had his Android phone to text and call people. Which, honestly, I don’t really get. I mean, wouldn’t you want an iPhone in this situation? But whatever.

I feel like I should have something to say now. Something to wrap this up and display an acidic wit. But really all I can do is feel thankful for the amazing people in my life and for kidney stones. Thank fuck for kidney stones. Because without that fucked up shit, we would have totally missed some really really fucked up shit….

And for the record, fuck cancer.

reasons…

reasons don’t matter
I have them
plentiful. meaningful. beautiful. trivial.
but they don’t matter.
reasons have no soul
they don’t wake from a dream wanting…
breathe life into an inconsequential day…
make memories…
reasons won’t change your heart or mind…
and they won’t soothe mine.

-CK