Tag Archives: parenting

Classic Odysseus, Returning Home to the Bed of My Youth

imageAfter a flight from La Guardia with two screaming babies, a connecting flight from Dallas Fort Worth to Oklahoma City, a short drive from the airport to my sister’s house, another short drive to a restaurant for a heavy meal, yet another short drive to my other sister’s house for a slice of pie, and then one last short drive to my parent’s house, I’m finally home. Kind of.

I’m in the house I grew up in for six years while going to middle school and high school just down the road in Edmond, OK.

My sisters live in Oklahoma City now and as we were driving through I saw all manner of exciting things: Great Gravy Diner, a Pho place, three thrift shops, a drive-thru Thai place, a Moroccan restaurant, and a strange building with a gold dome. Most of the buildings look a little run down and they’re spread out and each have their own parking lot, but there’s a definite “vibe” here. There’s definitely stuff going on.

When I was growing up in Edmond (suburb of OKC), I was a dumb teenager. I didn’t think OKC was “cool,” or that there could possibly be anything interesting to do. Granted, I had little money and couldn’t drink alcohol so many of the best parts of the city were closed off to me.

Now, however, this place is teeming with excitement. Even the 24-hour vape place seems fascinating. I don’t know if OKC has gotten cooler, or if I’ve gotten more curious, but now it seems impossible to me that I didn’t think growing up here was the best cultural gift anyone’s ever been given. It’s like I don’t even know my hometown because I thought it was so lame growing up that I didn’t bother to explore it.

It’s also interesting being in this house again, sleeping in what used to be my brother’s room which was stricktly off limits to sisters lest his brooding be interrupted. It’s just me and my parents now and it’s like,,,well… looks like the kids are growing up, stumbling and staggering off in different directions and hoping we’re not making decisions that will haunt us. Only time will tell.

Until then, I still have a home here, until it’s no longer my home and my parents move or I live somewhere else for a million years and come back and realize I’ve forgotten where all the light switches are. Funny how in school they teach you a lot of stuff but don’t really prepare you for anything that difficult. Except for the tests, which they create. It’s effed up, man.

But anyways, here’s to making a hometown new again. *clink*

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OMG It’s a Sappy Father’s Day Post

Look at us goofballs.

Look at us goofballs.

I talked to my dad on the phone today. It was a 37-minute conversation, which is longer than usual. Happy Father’s Day!

I didn’t do anything else for him in the way of buying him anything or being sentimental, so as far as he knows, this is all I’m planning for Father’s Day. Hint: the “as far as he knows” was foreshadowing. Stay tuned.

In that 37-minute conversation, I spoke to my father about creative pursuits, and we were talking about how you have to make time for them, and how that’s not easy to do since flossing and an 80-hour work week take a lot out of you.

So I jokingly said that I was going to give him an extra hour every day for one calendar year, but that he had to spend that hour doing something creative like molding little figurines out of clay or making friendship bracelets with Mom.

Now, this is a gift I have no capacity to deliver on, especially considering the time machine I’m currently building is little more than a protein powder tub with a hat on it, but we all know that it’s the thought that counts.

But there must have been something of a boomerang in that thought because it came whizzing back and whapped me in the face just as I started to type out this very blog post.

If I could give my dad anything, what would I give him?

I’m at that time in my life when I can stop being a leech and contribute in a positive way to my family. In hindsight, it’s possible I’ve always had that ability, but starting late is better than never.

As someone on the receiving end of fatherhood, I’ll probably never understand what goes into it. I have, however, babysat a small child. This child did not trust me at first, did not even let me hold her hand and cried when she saw me. Three months later, I miraculously sung her to sleep and have yet to recreate the same sense of accomplishment in my professional life.

So maybe fatherhood is something like that, love and dependency and vulnerability combined. And it’s also sending your adult children pictures of Mom while on vacation in Colorado and encouraging them to write blog posts in pirate speak. It’s demanding to see boyfriends’ resumes and making sure family vacations aren’t too expensive and being the one to pack the car for road trips. It’s making/laughing at fart jokes and quoting Monty Python and Lord of the Rings and tricking Mom into seeing Hellboy and taking your daughters out to dinner. Maybe that’s some of what it is.

I don’t know what the perfect gift is for my dad. I do want to give him an extra hour a day for the next year, because he’s earned it. I want to give him yellow aspen trees all year round. I want to give him the same sense of joy he had when he was chasing my siblings and I on the playground and I want to go to his piano recitals even though they’re boring and watch him graduate and tell him that he can do anything, because he can.

And maybe, just maybe, the best way to say all of this is to buy him some athletic shirts with my sister, so when he’s at the gym at 5 am, he can remember his daughter(s) first thing in the morning and the fun we’ve had together and how much we love him. Happy Father’s Day.

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In Lieu of Post, a Funny Picture

In lieu of a post today, please accept my offering of a humorous picture, complete with detailed description

This is a picture of my dance troupe circa 1993. I am in the middle, and my sisters are on either end in the lower row. They are not smiling. I am not smiling. I can’t remember what exactly was going on that day, but I do remember my sisters and I both hated ballet, like we would cry and cry when we were going there and refuse to put on our tights, etc.

The only thing I liked were the outfits, and I wore this particular red number for roughly a month after our recital, which was completely FUBAR. The pressure that age is really overwhelming and you should have seen how many cheetos some of the girls were cramming down backstage, just trying to cope with the stress. It wasn’t pretty.

So you can’t blame us for not being able to smile and pretend that everything’s all right when behind the tutus and the glitter, there are four-year-old minds that would rather be watching Barney.

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We’re Modern Now. We Don’t Have to Sweat.

It’s functional. Don’t worry about it.

Saturday afternoon, 1:30 pm. College graduate exits bedroom and runs into father, also a college graduate, for first time of the day. Pleasantries are exchanged. Father, pleased to see the college graduate, lists the yard work he has done that day. He has trimmed the hedges, cleaned out the pool, fixed something, moved something else, and used a loud machine for about two hours. He didn’t mention the last one, but the college graduate knows because she was sitting inside and had to listen to the racket for about two hours.

He’s tired and asks the college graduate if she was planning on making lunch for everyone, a laughable prospect. She chuckles and thinks of this question later when she sees the family has cracked wheat in the pantry. Why didn’t he just make this? She wonders.

In the meantime, college graduate has also been busy. She applied for 3.5 jobs and wrote 2.5 blog posts and made herself an English muffin with peanut butter and jelly on it for lunch. Her mind is tired but she’s hasn’t left the house, hasn’t made any money, and is wearing an old pair of sweatpants and a shirt from two days ago.

She was reflecting on her outfit earlier that day and how she felt surprisingly accomplished despite the fact sweatpants are viewed as the garb of the defeated. At least, she had accomplished until she met father, who had exited the house, made money by virtue of the fact he is a salaried employee of a real company, and burned over 20x as many calories as the college graduate.

She wonders how to explain to father that despite the sweatpants and the fact she was emerging from the bedroom, she had also done work that day, work that was laying the ground for her future and paving the way for his entry into a comfortable nursing home. In the digital age, she thought, we don’t have to sweat while we work. We don’t have to do anything besides stare at a computer screen and think really hard and sometimes type/write stuff down. This is the technological era. We don’t need to go outside anymore.

But instead of saying any of this, she lets the conversation fall into silence and quickly hides the tab with the YouTube music video of “Call Me, Maybe,” the music video that the college graduate had danced to only seconds earlier, maybe, when trying to recall some moves from her hip-hop class last spring.

Maybe father will read blog post later on and want to dance to the music video as well, she thinks, and then we will both burn calories.

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A Nerd Fights Her Destiny

The bane of the science classroom.

I spent most of sixth grade sucking up to my teachers by leaving them anonymous thank you notes along with homemade muffins. My social status suffered accordingly. The day before summer break, as I watched the popular crowd milling in the hallways, I promised myself seventh grade would be different. I would prance with the best of them. My yearbook would be so full of signatures  I would have to buy extra pages. I was going to be gloriously popular and it was going to be awesome.

Summer zoomed by, and all of the sudden I was stepping into my first class of seventh grade. Big changes were afoot. In the back of the classroom sat the cool girls, radiating indifference and social status, already discussing the coming weekend’s social happenings. Next to them was an empty chair. If I could just sit there, I and the cool girls would be BFFs and giggle together until we died. All of my dreams were coming true.

Suddenly I heard, “Emily! Emily! Sit up here!” It might as well have been the call of the grave.  Two friends from my former life as a frumpy nobody sat at the very front of the classroom and beckoned to me, as friends do. They were of my own social class, both of them nerdly and pleasant, but I was completely aware they could not help my popularity level.

Tempted by the familiar faces, I hesitated. I looked again to the vacant seat, longing to be next to the cool girls despite the fact I could almost  taste their animosity and knew I wasn’t welcome there. Overcome with fear, I finally turned towards my geeky and less good looking friends.

I wish I could say this was the deciding moment, that from then on I didn’t want to be popular. But I did, devastatingly so, and it was only my blinding cowardice that kept me from palming my old friends in the face and approaching the preening girls at the back.

I made my way to the front of the classroom where my fellow nobodys eagerly pulled a chair up to the head of the table, which jutted directly into the aisle. Mr. Harrington taught right behind me, and the extent of my back damage due to swiveling and craning is still unknown.

But I made the best of the awkwardness, and used my proximity to the teacher to ask an astonishing amount of ridiculously off topic questions, like “What is color?” in the middle of Ch.8: Rocks. Thankfully, because of my location and intense focus on Mr. Harrington, I never felt the weight of the class’s collective eye rolling.

Despite my initial disappointment, I was actually living out my dream of being the ultimate teacher’s pet as well as beginning my life as an attention monger. Soon this opportunity to nerd out mitigated my desire to chase popularity. Why sit in the back and put on lip gloss when I could lead an entire classroom on rabbit trails and goose chases? Though I still occasionally wished to be popular, I believe this class was the point at which I learned I was probably happier as a nerdy and obnoxious student than a social ladder climber. In the end, I couldn’t resist my destiny. Abercrombie would have to look elsewhere for new customers.*

*Full disclosure: I shopped at Abercrombie until sophomore year of high school. Oh the shame……

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