Wednesday, October 1, 2014

All routine and no aquamarine

Sometimes I fall face first and stiff as a board onto the couch at the end of the day and wonder aloud, my voice muffled by our peanut butter cracker scented couch cushions, "but what did I DO today?" The days are full but I don't feel a whole lot of personal satisfaction at the end of them.  I mostly feel a bit "what?" with a sprinkle of "sh*t" and a pinch of "derp."

It's a little blurred and a little dull.  Lately it's all routine and no salk vaccine.

(I googled "words that rhyme with routine" in the hopes of finding an inspiring match.  I didn't find an inspiring match.  Instead I found words such as wide screen, propylene, slot machine and salk vaccine.  I'm going to run with it.)

I'm good at getting the daily checklist done.  I pay the bills on time, we rarely run out of clean underwear, I fill out ALL THE FORMS (when you have little kids there are billions of forms), and our fridge is cleared of rotten produce regularly (annually, but whatever). If the rental house has a busted dishwasher, I'm all over it.  If Oscar is due for his shots and/or flea medication, done and done. If Bobo hasn't pooped in two months yet again then -- KABLOWIE! -- it's time for another sh*t-inducing warm bath for everyone's favorite lizard.

None of this is particularly bad but none of it is particularly life-giving either.  I'm guessing most people feel this way about their daily lives.  It's a slog, man, the daily grind.  It's all routine and no arithmetic mean.

You've got to break free sometimes and do something radical, something insane.

I think you know where I'm going with this --

You've got to go nuts and learn how to throw pottery on a wheel

I've always wanted to learn how to throw pottery on a wheel.  The movie Ghost likely has something to do with this, though admittedly I would feel uncomfortable if some guy came up behind me while I was sitting in my class and started kissing my neck.  I would be more, "What the hell is wrong with you, guy?" than "Take me on this pottery wheel while I pretend you're Patrick Swayze."

Throwing clay on a wheel is hard.  To make matters more intimidating, there are many people in my class who have years of experience.  They sit down and touch the clay and beautiful things spring forth from their strong and capable hands.  I, however, touch the clay with the grace of a t-rex and usually spin it right off the wheel -- *thunk* -- into the chest of the unfortunate person sitting next to me.  I *dab dab* their shirt delicately with a wet rag and promise to work very hard on the centering step so it doesn't happen again.

There's one woman in the class who's a beginner like me.  We have thus gravitated towards each other and hunker down at neighboring wheels in the far corner.  We can be found back there either muttering a string of the foulest swear words you can imagine or laughing uncontrollably with tears streaming down our faces and flowing down our arms -- which is handy since one must keep one's hands wet when throwing on a wheel.

We're beginners in the far corner throwing wonky looking pottery made with our own tears.  There's something really great and appropriate about that.

My new friend's clay spun off her wheel last week and hit me in the side of the head and it was all downhill from there.  When she accidentally poked a hole right through the side of her wobbly vessel, she proclaimed, "Oh thank God, that's exactly what I wanted it to look like."  When my own jacked-up piece of work couldn't take it anymore and flopped over on itself, I put my arms up and announced, "I think it's obvious I have learned all there is to know here, I'm ready to teach!"

The teacher comes over to us often but there's little she can do to stem the insanity happening in our corner.  Last time she gave us some pointers and said, "It's so frustrating to learn this and I love that you guys are laughing and not giving up."  Then I said, "Well, at least we're not throwing things yet" and received a collective groan from the class.  It was my first public pun and my first collective groan and I feel good about that.

The kids crashed our date night last weekend.  Alex and I were set for a nice dinner at Salty's with a heart-swelling sunset view of downtown across the water.  Our time alone is rare these days and we had much to catch up on.  But then our babysitter didn't show.

After a brief deliberation, we decided to keep our reservation and expand it from 2 people to 4 people.

Hey kid, what are you doing on my date?

It ended up being a good decision.  It was a truly enjoyable family dinner at a nice restaurant and those are hard to come by.  Plus now I know what Coco looks like through a pink balloon --

So this little girl is turning 5 this weekend.  Here she is climbing her aunts' tree and marveling at her feat as only a kid can --

Damn, she's five already. When did that happen?  I often feel I'm missing a large chunk of my kids' childhoods because I've got my head down too much, stuck in the boggy details of daily living.  More often than not it's "Coco, I can't read you a book right now, I've got to get dinner started."  I hate that but in the moment it's fatigue and trying to check the boxes for the day so I can go to bed.

It's the ole paradox of parenting  -- the days last forever but the years go so fast.

I'm going to promise Coco this year will be different.  I WILL read that stupid book I'm sick of for the umpteenth time and feed everyone bologna sandwiches for dinner.  She's not going to stay young and cuddly and thinking I'm awesome for long so I better live it up.

It's all routine and no time machine,


  1. mj this post is so funny but so acutely close to home ..... no children aging parent 2 homes 1 I barely get to enjoy(beach house south jersey shore with heat) animals and city house doctors appts vet appts bills etc etc etc -I AM WITH YOU sometimes I pray for bed just to not think of the endless to do lists-it was my bright idea to have all the windows replaced at one time that was a week ago I got sick and still the house isn't put back oh well we are not super people-good luck with the spinning pottery wheel-and SERIOUSLY cannot believe your little Paris baby is going to be 5 WHAT THE WHAT???? Read her the story bologna sounds pretty good to me add Dijon mustard and call it gourmet --- no one remembers the dinners but she'll remember how special she felt when you were reading to her or do the switchero...sit her in the kitchen and tell her to read the story while you are getting dinner That should be a funny story they usually are.

    1. G, I love that idea. I'm trying it this evening. "Coco, read me a book while Mommy burns dinner again." She's gonna love it!

    2. Bologna sandwiches with Dijon mustard. You might be on to something, G;)

  2. I have all the understands for you regarding the to-do list. I fear bedtime because it means I'm losing precious hours in which to procrastinate doing my to-do list.

    In radically different and untimely news, ZOMG. OVER THE SUMMER I HAD A SIGHTING. Of your family.

    Despite living in the same general locale as you at multiple points over the past five or six years (Paris, then Seattle), I've never seen you out and about. I read about other people's MJ sightings on your blog, but you were, to me, as elusive as some really elusive thing.

    But back in July, my boyfriend and I were walking through the food court at Uwajimaya when I saw Alex and the kids sitting at one of the tables. It took me a second to realize it was them, but when I did it was like.... FINALLY! Although my first instinct was to run over and give Lucien a noogie (and maybe Alex, too), I contained myself. Only if you emerged from the bathroom (or wherever it is that elusive beings hide) could I calmly walk over and say that I love your blog. Then give your husband a noogie.

    I waited surreptitiously in the middle of the aisle, feigning an inability to decide on what to eat. While looking at the bathrooms. You never emerged, and I don't think I did a very good job of blending in. Alex definitely gave me a look like, "What are you looking at, crazy lady? The food is that way."

    The best part is that my boyfriend stood there the whole time, puzzled but not asking if I was suffering a fit. He's a keeper.

    In summation, it was close, but no cigar. I don't despair, though. There are hundreds of bathrooms in Seattle and you're bound to emerge from one of them. Plus, through my magical powers of verbosity and extraneous detail, you probably feel like you were there.

    Did I mention I love your blog? (;


    1. Kiki! I remember that day! Alex took the kids out so I could go out with a friend. He drove around forever looking for a suitable place to eat and finally settled on Uwajimaya because the kids were fading and he needed something FAST. Don't be shy to walk up to Alex and say hi -- it takes a lot to faze that man. You'd freak Lucien out, too, which is always fun.

      Keep your eyes peeled -- next time I'll likely be with them. Come on over and say hi!

  3. Ah, that explains why the kids were so quiet and very, very still. It seemed like an inopportune moment to run up and awkwardly yell, "I've been reading about you since you were in leg condoms! Now bring me to your mom!" Alex might have been a good sport but things like that are possibly disturbing to children when said by a stranger.

    Next time, I'll just go for it and hope Coco doesn't use my face for karate practice.

    Happy birthday to your fine-legged, ass kicking, funny little girl!

    1. They were quiet and still? Actually nothing explains that. Maybe Alex drugged them.

      OMG, leg condoms. Thanks for being in for the long haul, Kiki.

  4. Look at the girl CHILD who is aging WAY too quickly! Holy freakin' FIVE. I think I just had a heart palpitation. It just goes so, so fast (not always, lol, but looking back on it, it seems like it).

    I'm dying at the thought of you guys yukking it up in the pottery room. Sounds like a hoot.

    This made me very introspective, though, and my heart warmed much:

    "We're beginners in the far corner throwing wonky looking pottery made with our own tears. There's something really great and appropriate about that."

    Yup. It's a nice metaphor for life. :-)

    Be well, chica, and so nice to read another amusing and touching post. Thank you for finding the funny and helping us see the humor in life!

    1. Karin! Karin! How is the job search? And more importantly, how far is Loveland from Denver and will I be able to see you next time I'm there? Thanks for your support and love as always, and right back atcha.

  5. God! Coco is turning 5 already?! Where did time go?!

    When I think of pottery, I recall that scene in Ghost, but I also the episode of The Wonder Years when Kevin's mom decided to break the tedium of housewifery and took a pottery class in which she started making funky-looking ashtrays fit for 500 smokers, to her husband's great displeasure:)

    Time sure flies, I agree, especially when you're trying to cram six lifetimes into one:) I hope that despite your crazy schedule, you still manage to find time for your Paris opus:) Can't wait to read it:)

    1. I remember that episode of The Wonder Years. I am so going to make an ashtray for 500 smokers. I sure hope all my friends take up smoking soon.

      I'm still touching the Paris book from time to time. Summer was a bust, then I got back into it again, now I've had a couple weeks in a row of constant motion so not a lot of contemplative writing time there. It's going to be marathon getting that thing written, not a sprint. But I'm still in it!

  6. "It's all routine and no time machine." That's damn poignant, woman.

  7. "....climbing her aunts' tree" it! My granddaughter turned 5 this week too, though she was born in Lafayette IN and not PARIS!! But they are both stinkin' cute and one of a kind. Happy birthday, Miss Coco!