• Family,  Life

    She’s Nine. I Think.

    Yesterday evening I took Gwyneth shopping for jeans for her new “school uniform.” (jeans, khakis, navy pants/skirt/skort/capris and a polo – which Gwyn pronounced “Lame-o”) and I’m in the dressing room with what appears to be a hormonal teenager.

    “I’m NOT a size 12. I’m a 10. A TEN. I won’t wear those. I won’t try them on.” She tries them on. “They make my behind look flappy.”

    Flappy? Child. That is not possible. Your behind is adorable. Your skinny long legs – adorable. These just fit your little girl belly better.

    “No. I’m a 10.” She throws off 12s and we’re back in the 10s.

    Sit on the floor. How do those 10s feel on your tummy?

    “Fine. Just fine.”

    Can you tuck a polo into them?

    “Let me see those other jeans.” She tries the 12s again. She sits. “Okay. I like the 12 slims.”

    This is the condensed version. I hate shopping.

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  • Family,  Life

    Stakes Are High

    “Why do you speed up so quickly?” Gwyn asks as we rip through the parking lot.

    I dunno. It’s a habit, I guess.

    “You should break it. I broke my nails. I mean, don’t bite them anymore.”

    That’s nice. I’m remembering the last time I had a grown-up in the car and he remarked “Probably ought to keep it under sixty in the school zone.” Yeah. I’m sure you’re right. We ride on two wheels around the corner.

    “Mom! Stakes are HIGH that we’re gonna crash or somethin’!”

    Stakes are high? Well then, all right.

    I calmly drive us to the Diet Coke drive-thru. The Blonde One wants a cherry thing and to talk.

    “There was this man and he was a stalker. Stalking us in our neighborhood.”

    Silence. I look over at her.

    “Do you know that word? Stalking? It means watching your life when they don’t have one.”

    (Turns out, probably not a stalker, but I’m on it.)

    Moment prior to Christmas Dinner:

    Kids, I need your help putting food on the table.

    Son: I could work in a coal mine.

    Merry Christmas!

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  • Life

    She Moves Alone

    The load didn’t hold. Two hours in, the middle shifted – I saw the mattresses begin their driver’s side lurch. Three hours in, a trucker was very adamant I exit immediately. I did. The man getting gas at the station was very helpful: You need help.

    Forty-five minutes later and Cal and I have purchased and learned how to attach what I term “wench-y” things to the trailer. Every thirty minutes we stop and examine the trailer. Looks like we have a loose box but nothing left to hold it on with. We drive slowly and keep it wedged in tight as we can.

    I’ve already called Kevin and told him he’s meeting me – I might can hit Memphis with the load like this.

    Wee hours of a.m. and Little Rock: I see the box hit the middle of the road. I pull over what feels like half a mile down the road and step out of the truck. At that point, you really need to recall that scene in Terminator 2 when Evil Trucker plows off the bridge into the ravine. As I shut my door and turn, in the pitch black of morning, a semi hits the box and sparks all the way toward me quite rapidly although it all seemed slow-mo at the time. He stops 12 feet and parallel from me. He pulls over, inspects the damage (none, I suppose) and drives off, neglecting to sue me.

    I begin the walk back to find the box (ha). A policeman has pulled over and is directing traffic around the carnage: a wardrobe box of some of my lesser clothes (that Vishnu!) and Caleb’s computer. I step over pieces of monitor, hard drive (Kevin asks: Did you get the video card? Moron.) and speakers. I pick up clothing. I hear: Darlin’? Could you get out of the middle of the road and let me do that?

    The policeman begins making piles of my clothing and tossing computer parts at the bridge wall. I pick up the printer (I don’t know why) and cords. Nothing else looks really salvageable. Some of the clothing has flown over the bridge, we think, while noting (with a flashlight shining in the eyes of) the river bathers below: “Y’all get some clothes on ‘fore I get down there, hear?” Policeman yells. I wonder if they’ll be mine. The clothes, not the bathers.

    I make two trips (half a mile if it’s a quarter) to the truck and on the first trip I run into a trucker who’s pulled over and says to the cop: “I’m here to help you pull outta this.” They work together to get the sharp bits off the road and then the trucker goes to my truck to tighten the load, I guess.

    I pick up a low-heeled Van Eli boot and the Policeman yells: “Oh good! You found the other one!” No, just the one he’d stacked for me. We’re disappointed for a moment and then he says, “Tell you what, if that trucker says your load is good to go, you best get on out of here. I’ve called the Highway Department and they’re gonna want to know why I didn’t ticket you.”

    “Yes, sir” and I’m gone.

    None of this was my fault. I mean it.

    The kids went to Star Wars at 9p. I’m popping pills. Looking for wine. Whatever.


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  • Life

    What Procrastination Looks Like

    Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I have few days until my LSAT. I have 177 *new* emails in my inbox (most are shopping emails, but those are important too) and no time for anything. Therefore, I procrastinate in between working analytical thinking puzzle problems that are kicking my arse.

    Bits of my morning, for posterity:

    What kind of mom has to ask:

    What is the crockpot doing out and WHERE does it go?

    At Jitters Bliss Coffee Shop:

    “I want something hot. And sweet. But really, I don’t know what I want.”

    Counter Man: Most women don’t.

    He recommended “Seventh Heaven.”

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  • Life

    What 36 Sounds Like

    shellie_015.jpg Sitting at the Homecoming basketball game last night, I remarked to a family friend — one I knew would understand:

    I don’t think I like being old to enough to say:

    You look familiar. I bet I know your parents.

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  • Family,  Life


    Five days. Is that a record?

    Surely not. Surely other teen-aged daughters have wrecked their cars in less time.

    The stated circumstances:

    Speed limit.

    Descending mountain.

    Hairpin turn.



    And someone thinks we should add that someone told the children that if you hit a deer you will total the car. So teen-aged daughter hit the ditch.

    Yeah, she’s okay. No harm done. The car wasn’t drive-able home. And did I mention that I leave next week for a cross-country move and that vehicle was needed?

    I’m crying and using Navy Words™ on the inside.

    Shebang, a word meaning “any matter of present concern; thing; business” or is the “#!” characters in the first two columns of the first line of a UNIX script file. Guess which way I’m using it.

  • Life


    The house isn’t quite empty, but it is boxed up. We have furniture and boxes. And pillows. Must mention the pillows.

    I have been leisurely this morning since most of what I can do is done, at least until the house is completely empty. The kids have not been leisurely. They’ve been bored — so they amuse themselves with a game of hide-and-seek with one smallish twist.

    I round the corner into my bedroom and scream for all I’m worth. My 5’11” son attacked me and pounded a pillow upon my head, upon which my sunglasses were perched — for all he was worth.

    So that explains the kids’ screams this morning.

    What explains the screams yesterday was the Internet. Or rather, the lack thereof.

    I’m sitting at my dining room table, surrounded by junk that is so precious the movers can’t pack it, (like dry cereal, bills, and Easter candy) and ordering up new phone service, electricity, water, for the new house. Then, just then, the ‘net fades to black. This is not good. Pandemonium ensues. Can you imagine us here for the next few days without Internet? Frankly, neither could I.

    This situation necessitated the opening of boxes because those movers are fast. In no time we have found the router, splitter, and lastly, the modem. And we’re back. Some days I sit amazed at the myriad bullets I manage to dodge.

    I now realize how truly, utterly useless my paralyzing worry was the past 90 days. Because it accomplished little-to-nothing. I should have had the modem marked. I should have realized I might want to save out more kitchen items than paper plates, plastic cutlery and cups. But that’s all I saved out. Which, under normal circumstances would have been fine. I like to eat out.

    But I have a neurosis. I only like to eat out when there’s a choice. If I have no choice and should eat out, I get frantic with the thought of not finishing the mayo, strawberry jam, bread, crackers, stuffed olives and raw eggs in the fridge. I decide to cook. I try to make pancakes — without a bowl or spatula. We buy both. The plastic fork stands in as whisk. Yes, I could have saved all of these items out, had I been thinking, but I haven’t been thinking for months on end.

    Perfect time to start cooking.

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  • Life

    Why Mom

    ALL day yesterday I had to listen to “Why, Mom?!?” and “But Mom….” I’m ready to harm the little hostages.

    But I have to admit that I fully cracked up and made no effort to contain it when my three daughters were in the kitchen and it went something like this:

    Kate: Take this bag downstairs for Mom.

    Gwyn (7): No. You do it.

    Kate: I’m busy; you’re going. You do it.

    Gwyn: No. You’re lazy.

    Kate: I am up here doing all the dishes and I’m lazy?!? You think you don’t have to do a blessed thing you little princess, now take this down to MOM. Moooooommmm!!!

    Mom: Gwyn get that freakin’ bag and take it down the stairs. You’ve got nothing else to do.

    Gwyn: You told her to; I don’t want to. She’s always bossin’ me.

    Cori meanwhile gets the bag and takes it downstairs unbeknownst to me. Lovely middle daughter, she.

    Mom: Get. The. Bag. Gwyn.

    Gwyn: But Moooommmm, I refuse tooooo…..

    I can’t even type it without laughing. I know, you guys can’t imagine the scene. It just sounds patently offensive. But it was so whiny and pitiful and crazy funny.

    Be glad the hostages are mine.

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  • Life

    I Miss Mama-San

    This is not right. I’m looking at laundry this morning and sighing heavily.

    I miss Mama-san.1

    That woman could do anything and do it quickly. She blew through my house and had it spotless by 2 p.m. I’ve been trying that trick out for the last two weeks, much less in one day by 2 p.m.

    But she was much more than a household helper. She was a friend. She taught us Japanese words and cared about our family over her beloved Taco Bell tacos and Diet Coke.

    She never minded when the six year old wanted to help clean the bathroom. They spent the day engaged in a game of trying to scare one another by creeping silently through the house.


    1 My favorite Mama-san memory:


    Today, my Mama-san walked in on us. (She does that if the door is unlocked.)

    Whoa. Just 15 minutes earlier I had decided to get out of my glasses, robe, and fuzzy slippers. Seriously.

    I’m in the bathroom upstairs when I hear “Is your pretty mama here?”


    She was returning a pie plate. She was totally unexpected. I felt like she must be looking at us like Mr. Incredible:

    “I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for… for ten minutes!”

    History: For five glorious weeks, I had a Mama-san. She did everything.

    My friend was in America on vacation, so I inherited her Mama-san.

    Lovely. She was such a dear, we fell in love with her.

    Today was the first Monday we did not have Mama-san. We were not expecting her to come visit us, but there she was, as I came out of the bathroom — fully clothed and hair brushed, hallelujah — talking to the little one.

    We visited a sec, she came downstairs with me, showed me the apples she brought us and then proceeded to take out my kitchen trash, replace the bag, and pick up some crackers the kids had spilled before I could convince her to return to my neighbor’s house.

    Amazing woman and friend with a huge capacity to love.

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