Monthly Archives: September 2014

Despicable Me

I was always a bit of an odd duck.  I was the kid in school who talked to herself, raised her hand for every question, and wore hockey jerseys and flowered boots to junior high.  I always felt different, and I always knew somehow that there had to be more to it than this small town.

Now I’m 30 years old, and sometimes I still feel that way.  Still the outsider.  I don’t care about entering my kid in contests.  I don’t care if she wears girl clothes or boy clothes or anything in between.  I don’t care if one of them grows up to be a lesbian, as long as they aren’t a teen mom.  I get annoyed by redneck Republicans and liberals alike, although it’s been so long since I talked to a dyed-in-the-wool liberal that it might be welcome now.  (They do seem, on the whole, to be better informed than the average Republican though less rational than a libertarian.)  I like gay people and honeybees and books.  Around here, gay people are still a joke, honeybees are pests, and books are something nobody looks at anymore.

I miss my weirdos.  I miss having friends like me – friends who read and can make solid recommendations.  Friends who have heard of Townes Van Zandt or Gillian Welch or Bear in Heaven and who can appreciate my intense hatred for “Nashville country,” as I think of it.  These are the friends who feel the electricity in the air before a big thunderstorm and revel in its sensation with you.  These are the people who will listen to Noam Chomsky on the radio when he comes to town because you couldn’t get tickets to hear him in person.  (I don’t agree with him always, but he is bloody smart.)  These are the friends who understand the value of antique furniture with character, of late night drives to nowhere, and thrift store fur coats.

On nights like tonight, I wonder where my American dream fits into all of this.  I want what they want, and yet I don’t.  I guess I want it on my own terms.  I don’t even know what those are, but I know instinctively that they are a bit different.  Sort of like I knew that most kids don’t cut holes in their jeans on the off chance that it might look cool.


The (Halloween) Season’s Upon Us

I think I’ve found my time to write, at least until Brett decides that she can go to bed like a human again.  Her meltdowns at night are truly epic.

Like any good lamer, I’ve been on Pinterest for the last half an hour, looking at ways to decorate our house for Halloween on the cheap.  Y’all know I loves me some Halloween.  We didn’t do much for it last year.  Brett wasn’t really old enough to get it or enjoy it.  I doubt she’ll get it this year, but at least she might enjoy it.  

Now that we have our own house, I’d really like to decorate it.  Sure, we’re going to get pumpkins, but I’m one of those people who would really like to do the front stoop up right.  I don’t even know if we get trick-or-treaters in this neighborhood, but I’d still do it.  Too bad I’m poor as fuck.  Also, it’s hard to find time to DIY a six-foot-tall yard decoration if you aren’t a stay-at-home mom whose kids have gone off to school.  

Fall has suddenly come upon us.  On Friday night, we had a big, weird storm that blew in the cooler, less humid air, and it now feels like harvest season.  The corn has dried out in the last two weeks, and the beans aren’t far behind.  The woolly worms are creeping across the road – mostly white and orange so far, so I hope that means a milder winter this year.  But in any case, overnight it went from feeling like the middle of summer to the start of fall.  And I don’t think summer is coming back.  

I spent last night planning out the next two months’ worth of weekend activities.  I refuse to miss out on the fun fall stuff this year!  We’re going to a pumpkin patch to get pumpkins, a corn maze for the hell of it, the steam show because it’s up the road and practically free, the jack-o-lantern spooktacular because it is free (and fun), and hopefully on the Spoon River Drive.  I hear the drive isn’t as good as it was 10-20 years ago.  It’s a lot of craft shows and apple dumplings and things like that.  I guess maybe people aren’t as into that stuff anymore.  But the Spoon River area is really pretty in the fall.  Bernadotte was always my favorite place.  I am, nevertheless, bummed at the news that the drive isn’t what it used to be. 

Hell, Halloween ain’t what it used to be.  When I was a kid, there were literally hordes of kids running around the neighborhood near Eisenhower Elementary, begging candy and waving hello to (or hiding from the older) kids from school.  We always had a parent with us, but we weren’t afraid to walk around or anything like that.  It was just a fun night of begging candy and then getting sick from it later on in the evening.  And it rained.  Always.  Fuck.  It always rains on Halloween around here.  

But now?  Fucking churches have trick-or-treat deals.  Am I the only person who feels like it’s kind of ridiculous for churches to have Halloween parties?  People will bring their cars to the church parking lot and the kids just go around to the back of every mom van and get some treats.  What fun is there in that?  Oh, but it’s safe!  Well, hell’s bells, don’t take ’em to the ghetto!  Be smart!  Take them to the nice neighborhoods and subdivisions!  I don’t even think the hood rats trick or treat in the  ghetto!  

I understand that people get worried.  I don’t want anything to happen to my kids, either.  But I’m not going trick-or-treating in a place I don’t know.  The way people carry on anymore, you’d think Jacksonville was Detroit on Devil’s Night in the 70s.  Halloween feels pretty tame and watered down, compared to what it used to be.  

Growing up, my grandpa would tell me stories about how the boys at Lynnville would tip over outhouses, put buggies on top of the schoolhouse, and generally wreak what would now be considered criminal havoc on the village.  I’m pretty sure my uncles would soap windows, and I know that they would “tick tack” people’s windows, too.  Tick tacking is where you get a wooden spool of thread and carve some large notches in it.  Then you wind some string around it and put a nail through the hole in the middle.  You use the nail to hold it against someone’s window, pull the string to spin the spool, and I guess those old wooden spools made a terrible clatter.  It would scare the bejesus out of people, or so I’ve been told.  

But that doesn’t happen anymore.  

For my part, it’s not like I’m going to be out creating mischief, anyway.  I’m more of the mindset of taking my own kids trick-or-treating, decorating the house, and going to various fall festivals and things like that.  I’m just glad the season’s here.  I wait all year for October to roll around.  And every year, it never seems long enough.  Hopefully this year we’ll be able to cram it all in!

The Long Kiss Goodnight or: This Time Last Year Might as Well Be a Lifetime Ago

I can’t remember the last time I updated.  Hell, I can’t really remember the last instance that I had time to sit down and compose my thoughts when it wasn’t for a work email.  Pretty sad, huh?  The only reason I have time now is because I’m sitting on the floor, desperately hoping that Brett will pass out sometime in the next 30 minutes.  She’s slept great for months, but suddenly she won’t go to sleep at night without me.  I’ve taken to perusing the Internet to stave off boredom/falling asleep on the hard floor.  

Let’s see.  We bought a house.  It’s your typical little American ranch house.  One car garage.  Nice finished basement with a bar.  Three bedrooms.  Good kitchen that has been remodeled in the past century.  Good closet space.  Excellent raw storage room in the basement.  It was a good deal. The carpet in two of the bedrooms needs replacing, and the wallpaper looks like something Laura Ashley circa 1992, but we’ll get it taken care of eventually.  The point is that the house was the right price, the right size, and didn’t need a single thing done to it.  Good roof, good HVAC, no plumbing issues, no collapsing porch, and best of all, no water in the basement.  Every house in South Jacksonville has water in the basement.  No ours.  We’re up just a bit higher than every other house on the street, and our sump pump never even kicks on.  Marvelous.

We bought a van because the Sebring was a POS.  Seriously, it broke like, four times in seven months.  I think we got a lemon.  Or Chrysler sucks.  Whichever.  We have a Toyota now.  Awsoma sparkle!  And also, it’s a mom van.  I have a mom van.  I hate it, but it’s so damn roomy and convenient.  I hate that I love it.  All I ever really wanted was a G-Wagen, and here I am.

Anyway, I had intended to write posts about things – lots of posts about lots of different things.  The ridiculous Korean ferry accident.  The floods and mudslides in Changwon.  I’m pretty sure that I saw a picture that was taken near Gyeongnam University of flooding, which is my old neighborhood.  One more reason I’m glad we’re no longer in Korea. 

I don’t think about Korea much anymore.  As sad as this is to say, I look back on it with nothing but relief that I’ve gone.  That’s probably not a completely fair recollection of things, but my first and last years there were so crap that I feel as though that is what’s sticking with me.  You always remember the first and last performers in a series, right?  

This time last year, my grandpa had just died, and we were getting ready to come to the U.S.  We were trying desperately to sell the Musso and whatever else we could to scrape some extra cash together.  We were taking this huge leap into the great unknown, and looking back on it, the amount of faith it took to leave was incredible.  I think that’s why so many people get stuck there – they don’t have the faith to believe that they can.  That there’s life after Korea.  That it can be better than life in Korea. 

But here we are.  House.  Car.  My husband finally got his green card, so now he just needs to find a job.  God, that green card.  It took for freaking ever, and when we finally went to St. Louis to do the interview, it took 10 minutes.  They granted the green card on the spot, and it arrived in the mail within a week.  It seemed so anti-climactic, after all the work, money, and months of waiting.  They barely asked us anything.  

Whatever the case, we have settled into this life that is so far removed from our old life.  Living abroad is not something everyone does.  Most of the people I work with have never left the country.  And they don’t want to.  They are willfully and happily ignorant of other places and people.  It baffles me, and I still get that urge to go and explore, but I’ve rather boxed myself in now.  I am the average American.

I get up, shower, hope to God the kids sleep for 30 more minutes, and go to work from about 7:30 to 4:00.  I deal with my agents’ problems, co-worker drama, ridiculous government requests, and nearly getting a speeding ticket while driving to a meeting in Kansas City with a carload full of people.  At 5 a.m.  I come home, we go grocery shopping, I play with the kids, make them dinner, (try to) put them to bed, and then, if I’m lucky, I have 15 minutes or so to read about Austrian economics or crop insurance before I pass out with the headboard light still on.  When the bills come, I pay them.  Metro, boulot, dodo.  

Part of it is refreshing, being “normal.”  Sometimes it sucks, knowing that some of the most extraordinary adventures of my life are now behind me.  And sometimes it’s comforting.  Sometimes it’s nice to climb into my own bed in my own room in my own house, knowing that aside from that mortgage against it (which I’m at least paying down), it’s really mine, and nobody can order me to move out for no reason.  Nobody can fire me from my job without a good reason.  Yes, I have to keep up with everything, but ultimately, this is the safe route.  And I can at least appreciate it now, but I never would have, if I hadn’t known life on the rocky mountain road. 

Changing tack, parenting.  My kids are as different as night and day.  Brett’s blond.  Millie’s… Well, kind of really dark auburn.  Millie is happy 24/7.  Like, she’s never mad unless she’s hungry or pooping.  She’s happy about everything.  Brett?  Brett’s happy… as long as she’s getting her way.  She’s talking, sassing us, and making a general nuisance of herself, as I’ve been told toddlers are prone to doing.  I think she might actually be asleep now, thank Christ.  I hope she doesn’t wake up at 4 a.m. and want in my bed again.  I don’t share a bed with my husband (he’s an oft-times insomniac and thrashes terribly, and I snore because of course), and I have no desire to share a bed with my kid.  I’m way past the stage where I feel like I have to justify my need for personal space to others.  Some people love having their kids in bed.  I don’t.  It’s cute at nap time, but not all the time.  

It is really cool that Brett can follow directions and actually understand us now.  She likes to help clean up the kitchen, and she can sort of dress herself.  We’re trying to potty train her, and so far all parties have failed.  She tried to tell me she needed to go one day and, like a dumbass, I didn’t understand her, and then she didn’t make it in time.  Those are the times that suck because it’s way more disappointing to fail as a parent than it is to watch your kid fail to get something right.  I hate letting my kids down.  

Okay, Brett is asleep.  I’ve escaped to the basement.  I love our basement.  It’s like a cozy cave of excellence.  Except we’re having to replace the shower.  I take it back about not needing anything.  The outside of the shower leaked, so there’s some water damage.  We’re waiting to get it fixed, but we’re not using the shower, in the meantime.  We’ve only had one shower for years.  Since we met.  We had two showers for two months, and it is fucking up our lives to only have one.  You can’t go back, man.  Where else are you going to shower at night without waking the kids up?

So there’s my life update.  I’d like to say that I’ll update with a more concentrated topic soon, but that may make me a liar.  I never know when I’m going to have time.  Right now, bed sounds like a winning option.  Mmm, bed.  Sleep is so damn underrated.