" I feel I am very sane about how crazy I am." -Carrie Fisher
"Own your Crazy." -Kim

Monday, November 22, 2010

THe Year It All Went To Hell...(or My Crazy Obsession With Pink)

This year we are going away for Thanksgiving. I have cooked the traditional bird and had my family over for eighteen years. This year I decided to take a break. We are heading up to Tahoe and replacing the traditional Thanksgiving activities of turkey, family, and parade watching with arcade, dinner out (think Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo), gambling and parade watching (look, some small tradition needed to stay in tact).

This decision has turned out to be both freeing and a downward, spiraling out of control madness that is quickly changing the traditions of Christmas as well.

Since we are not going to be here for Thanksgiving I packed up all of the Halloween and fall decorations the day after Halloween. With an empty house on December 1st I did not feel sad or regretful, not even for one tiny minute…I was both joyous and elated. Then my husband and girls went away for a Sunday in mid November and left me with a day and night entirely to myself. Since the house was empty I decided to get the Christmas decorations down early and get it set up so it would all be done upon our return from Tahoe.

To do this my husband had to get down all the boxes from the attic. A process that takes him all day and one that is done with such an extreme amount of deep sighing, exasperation and grumbling that you would think he was preparing to head off to war. But we are 16 years in, he knows the drill, and it goes fairly smoothly. I also suggested he go ahead and put up the lights since we would be gone on the day after Thanksgiving which is when we traditionally fight about, I mean work on, hanging our lights.

So he put up the lights, got down all the boxes and then left for the day. Here it was…my day alone to gleefully put up my decorations, “Christmasfy” the house, and really do it up in style.

Only when I walked into the dining room and saw the 25 boxes instead of my usual glee and delight…I thought I might throw up. This was the first sign that maybe I was in a different place in life.

It all really seemed to be too much. But, I started in, pulling things out and separating, laying things out and starting to get a vision. Only my vision kept returning to the idea of…getting rid of most of it.

The second sign that things were going a little differently is that instead of listening to my traditional Christmas CD’s with Bing and friends filling the house with ideas of chestnuts, snow and happiness, I had Pink’s Greatest Hits CD blasting out. Nothing says Christmas like lyrics that scream of dysfunction and angst. For those that are concerned, I do listen to this CD a lot…it is small obsession right now, I do listen to it with my children, they do know all the words, even the bad ones…but we have had a long talk about how Pink is an artist and sometimes in the name of “art” and “your craft” a bad word is needed to make your point (please note the title of this writing…I am an artist, mush like Pink, thus my need to suffer for my “art” and “craft”).

After about an hour I called Corey and told him I was getting rid of a lot of Christmas stuff this year. There was too much and it was time to downsize. Honestly, his reaction was greater than if I had called and told him we won the lottery. I had not heard him this giddy and elated since the niners were in a winning season, and I think we all know how LONG that has been.

So I set about setting up some things and boxing up the rest for Craigslist. I listed the items and included the beautiful red and green plastic storage containers I keep it in too.

Naomi, who is not a traditionalist in any way and has been after me for years to get a fake tree and call it day, sensed my weakness and began calling every ten minutes throughout the day. Each call with the suggestion of really keeping it simple and getting a very small tree (think potted plant that you give as housewarming gifts size) and just sticking the ornaments back up in the attic for another year. In years past I would have been irritated with her, frustrated that she didn’t get me or understand my desire to have the real tree with all my sentimental ornaments. This time (with my pal Pink reminding me that I was rock star and still had my rock moves in the background), I remembered that last year the two older girls weren’t home to do the tree (and didn’t really care they missed it), the year before I had left it for them to do with a babysitter (and didn’t really care that I missed it), and most other years everyone would bail out after the first few minutes of “Oh remember this ornament?,” and I would be left alone to finish and get all the ornaments off the ground and onto the tree.

In the end there is stuff up, I am going to get a tree (a small one, although not potted plant small), and I did find the Bing CD’s as it turns out after a quick search on google that Pink does not have a F*%#ing Christmas album out yet (note to Pink…that would be a great title).

Listen, my girls are all in the Nutcracker, the school Christmas play (yes, we still call it a Christmas play NOT a winter performance), the church Christmas play (where I do not listen to Pink), and several holiday choir performances…hmmm? Maybe this is why I don’t have the energy for decorating. I still love Christmas, just maybe in a different way.

So, Christmas is changing, I’m changing, and that’s OK. I can change. Change is good. No worries, I haven’t changed completely…I didn’t throw out all of the girls’ Christmas art I have saved (although I thought about it, but with the announcement of Pink’s pregnancy I was feeling a little sentimental…key word root “mental”).

Upon returning from their day away not one child commented on the Christmas decorations that had been set up. Onward we go.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Girlfriends

I have this friend, Jodi, we will call her Jodi because that is actually her name. When I write I try to take out the names and “depersonalize” things a bit, for several reasons. One being, I don’t want to offend anyone. But, it turns out Jodi was only offended that I did NOT use her name.

Jodi is a relatively new friend, our children dance together and we work together. She is also not called Jodi in our house. She is referred to as Jodeen…which is said in a long drawn out, lazy way as though we are from the south and headed over to her house for a glass of iced tea with a side of okra and grits. She is called this because it is her birth name, and once she had to write me a check for something, and when my husband went to deposit it, he happened to catch her name, her birth name, and it stuck.

In life, I have had some good friends. My grandmother used to quote Truman Capote as saying, (and this will be paraphrased per my memory) “I am lucky in life. I have had three really good friends,” in answer to a question from a reporter that implied he must have many, many friends. I always thought my grandmother was trying to tell me that really true friends are few and far between. That being said, I guess I don’t know how many friends I have, but I do have a lot of great people in my life. I have figured out that without great people in your life it is a little harder to cope. Many of these great people are my girlfriends. The girls, well ladies...well women now...that have come into my life and made a difference.

Several months ago I headed off to a reunion with my sorority sisters from college. Most of these girls I hadn’t seen in over twenty years. Based on the emails flying back and forth before the event, it promised to be a great time, and it was. I shared a room with the same girls I shared a room with twenty years ago. It was exactly the same. We laughed at the same things, we got ready the same way, and if that damn mirror in the bathroom hadn’t been there to tell me otherwise, I would have assumed I was twenty again. My favorite pictures from the trip are not all the ones we posed for throughout the “dressed up” events we had, but instead the ones people snapped in the morning while we were having coffee and late at night when everyone was chatting and talking in bed.

My best friend from high school is still with me. Over the years the friendship has changed, grown, laid at rest only to wake back up again when we need each other. She is one of my Truman Capote friends. She was on my doorstep on 9/11, she was my first phone call when I had cancer, and she is my “go to” girl when I need a drink. Blessed am I to have had this girl in my life at fifteen and woman now, at forty two. My favorite picture of her is when I had my first child. She came in those first few days and she is laying down holding my oldest on her tummy. There is also a series of pictures of us from one year in the 90’s when, after an episode of Oprah on “How to Take Your Best Picture!” was aired we have our chins lifted so high we look like giraffes. This was before the instant digital checking we can do now, so it wasn’t discovered until a year’s worth of pictures were finally developed. She “gets me” in a way no other does and we have thirty years of shared history.

As my children grow and make friends I find a few keepers in their parents. Yesterday I had coffee with the mother of my oldest child’s best friend as we discussed plans for an upcoming prom (this will be a writing all by itself!). She is delightful, fun and always on the same page as me when it comes to parenting a teenager. The mother of my second child’s best friend is my summer and swim team companion…our hours together at the pool are something I look forward to each year as spring wraps up and summer looms ahead. We have several children the same age so there are shared experiences and some shared family traditions that have set in that I enjoy and look forward to.

My family is my first priority, it is my strength, it is my main focus in life, but these girlfriends are my support. My moments of calm and funny when all else around me is crazy and demanding. I cherish them and all that they bring to the table.