Not Sick Anymore

I lost last week to being sick, which is unusual for me.  I did the bad thing and went to work anyway, because alas, the last of my vacation time is for this week and the kids’ break.  I have been living on Ricola and tea and soup and I even bought myself some cough medicine.  First time in years I have succumbed to buying cough and cold medicine for adults.  But good god, I forgot how nasty it was.  Ugh.  

This weekend was another great weekend.  I slept in, worked on some art, saw some good friends old and new, and mostly finished my Christmas shopping.  I still need to get some cheese.  Yes, if I don’t know what to get a person it will probably be Scotch or cheese, depending on my budget.  And there’s a cheese shop just down the road from me, how convenient!  Although I realized on Saturday morning, as I was puttering around finishing shopping that a) I love to wander by myself and not have the kids when I’m doing shopping and b) I have turned into the kind of yuppie that is thrilled – thrilled! to shop storage solutions.  Oh dear.  But seriously, it is nice to have a place to hang my keys.

I feel very grateful for my life.  I never imagined that being divorced in my late 30’s would be one of the best things to happen to me.  It’s the honesty of the situation that I like.  I’m not lying to myself or lying to other people about my feelings.  I have an apartment that takes half the time to clean and doesn’t weigh me down with endless responsibilities.  I have well-adjusted kids AND I have alone time.  I have a job that I really, really like and awesome colleagues that I adore.  And I have great friends who have seen me in all my frailty and stood by me.  I am loved and have a place in the world, with all my ordinariness.  I am really excited to see what 2014 brings, and what I’m going to bring to 2014.  (It will probably involve improving my mind through extensive reading.  🙂 )

Playtime

Today I had the girls again and I made some scones with clotted cream to go with our morning tea.  Every once in a long while, I pick some up, good thing it’s lumpy sweater weather.  🙂  The girls were not impressed with the clotted cream, oh well, they are only 12.5% British after all.

Then one of the girls wanted to come up and play with them.  This particular girl is about 5-6 and Rowan didn’t want to, but I made her anyway.  My girls are pretty good-natured, but they are incredibly fortunate.  For one thing, they have a dad in their life.  My apartment complex is small, but it is predominately female.  There are a lot of absent dads, and consequently, their moms are on parenting duty 100%.  I am the strange one in that I pay the child support.  And Rowan and Nova see their dad in the house they grew up in, because he wanted the house and was able to keep it (no regrets here, I love having only an apartment to worry about!).

Rowan wanted to speak to my privately, “Mom, she and I don’t have a lot in common and I don’t want her to go through all my stuff!”  I told her, she certainly didn’t have to share all of her stuff and top bunk is her domain – she doesn’t have to let anybody up there and she doesn’t have to share any of those dolls.  And I understood, her friend is a lot younger and not as mature, but it is kind to include her.  So she left and made do – and then the lot of them, the 9 yr old, the 5 yr old, and the 3 yr old played for four hours until it was time to make dinner.

I made them a killer play fort in the living room using the base of the papasan chair as a dome, it was one of my best ones yet.  Apparently, Nova wanted to be Copper (a bit villain in Justice League Unlimited) and the horror is that she would prevent the “princesses” from . . . reading.  Truly dastardly.  I was voted to be Lex Luthor is abstentia.

(This is Nova’s favorite villain)

Rowan, meanwhile, has been upset about the lack of books to read.  She’s read everything over here and we need to go to the library.  I asked her what her favorite series is.  She likes the “Poison Apple” series because according to her, it has horror and ghosts and zombies – but always with a happy ending.  So I gave her “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” to read.  She likes it so far, and since Lizzy and Mr. Darcy still get together in the end, I consider it a happy ending.  🙂

Saturday in December

I have the kids this weekend and it’s amazing how much I don’t get done in a day when I do have them.  But it more than makes up for it to have them, I like being good to them.  Somehow my BBC watching has rubbed off on Rowan, so she wanted to watch Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth version).  And since I like a strong cup of tea first thing in the morning, I usually just make a pot for all of us.  If it’s just me, I’m terribly pedestrian–a teabag in a cup and I let it brew forever.  But on weekends, I do a pot with my octopus tea cozy, and bring out the cups with two bowls of sugar cubes and a little pitcher of milk.  The girls love adulterating their own cups, and yes I ration out sugar cubes.  They’re not that well behaved that they could resist an endless supply. 🙂

I’m also really glad that I bought them IKEA mattresses instead of the typical setup – the thinner mattresses are easy to move around and they make great play forts and can be curled around to make mattress tunnels.  It’s fun to make cozy hideaway spaces, I remember loving those sorts of things as a kid.  Now that I’ve put a curtain up in front of my closet they like playing in there – at least Nova does.  At Teslacon, I bought a new corset and apparently Rowan hates the smell of leather.  “Mom, it stinks in here.  Why does leather stink so much?  I’d rather smell my own farts than smell your corset, ugh.”  I told her it was probably the smell of the stirred cow brains they use to tan leather, heh heh. (though I don’t know how they really tan leather, someone told me that’s how you tan an animal hide.  An animal will always have enough brains to tan it’s own hide. Truth? Fiction?)

As a fun side note, Rowan got her report card for term 1.  She got mostly excellent remarks, except sometimes she rushes through things to get back to her reading and needs to pay attention to the task at hand.  🙂

Subversive Art, Part II

When I was in high school, I liked to draw and paint.  I could never get down exactly what was in my head, rather frustrating.  And I was very devout.  I couldn’t decide whether to go into Chemistry or Math – but I also had a secret dream of being a missionary’s wife.  I always felt odd and out of place in high school, and I hated that no one talked about mortality, death, the afterlife, the meaning of it all. Due to a dying man’s wish, I looked into going into a Christian college, and indeed, that’s how I ended up in the Midwest.  I thought that it would be the place where I would find my tribe.

But whatever I expected from attending a conservative Christian college, I soon found out I didn’t fit in there either.  I ended up dating a guy from a different university who introduced me to his role-playing friends, and we would play “Dr. Who The Role Playing Game” on Friday nights.  And then my roommate, who loved fuzzy sweaters and proudly displayed “Jesus Loves You” posters found some of my artwork.

I had a piece I had done somewhere between 16-17 that I loved.  It was supposed to be allegorical, the world in the claw of sin, separated from the snake of Satan by what I considered a bad-ass sword of Christ.  And to top it all off, I translated a Bible verse into Tolkien runes that I had transcribed from my dad’s red-leather bound version of “The Lord of the Rings.”  This was the epitome of my feelings as a warrior for Christ.

I found myself called into the office of the Dean of Residential Affairs to explain myself.  Specifically, was I a pagan *cough, cough* Satan worshiper?  They brought up the drawing and I explained it, and the Bible verse.  They brought up my off-campus boyfriend and how I was hanging out with a bunch of non-Christian guys on Friday nights.  They brought up the role-playing.  I explained that the Dr. Who didn’t have any spellcasting, not even the fake kind.  It was science-fiction based.  And I was back by the midnight curfew, regardless.

I later found out that my RA stuck up for me and told them I went to chapel every day (which I was), was taking the college van to services every Sunday, and it hardly seemed likely I would be doing that if I was actually worshiping Satan.  But I was stunned.  Naive, I know, but I really believed in non-judgement.  That was Jesus’s affair to judge me.  Heck, I thought I was doing a public service, I was a positive witness for Christianity.  You could wear black and role-play and be yourself.  I can laugh at the incident now, but it was the beginning of the end of my being a conservative Christian.

Trixie Belden and other ghosts of the past

For some reason, I broke out my old Trixie Belden books over the long weekend.  Well, they are old but only acquired within the last couple of years.  I had collected a bunch of them in my younger years but left them all when I went to college and my parents got rid of the them when they moved.  Which is what I would have done.  But I had a hankering for them and found a bunch on Paperback Swap.  It’s funny, they’re from the ’50s or so (my favorite covers are from the ’70s reprint because that’s what I remember) and so wholesome.  My favorite character, besides Trixie the girl detective herself, was Jim Frayne.  Ah, that probably started my love of redheads–at least in cartoons where they’re always losing their temper and I just start laughing.  Also, Japanese cartoons always make them somewhat catlike.

    

(Tasuki’s looking especially ’80s on the right, that probably helped)  But since Trixie herself is 13/14 and the books were written in the ’50s, they unsurprisingly chaste.  They focused on the mystery on hand and the group of friends, both boys and girls.  Ah, friendship, one of the best things in life.  I find that of all the stories, those are usually the ones I like best, the ones I can read over and over.  So I reread Trixie Belden, or Maia, or anything where’s there’s a strong friendship element involved.  And I go through life looking for the people that will still be a part of my life in 10, 20, or however many years I get.  I find I am fortunate to have friendships that go back 20 years – amazing, and we’re not sick of each other yet.

After digging out my old books, I dug out my old drawings and writings.  Old letters, journal entries, lost loves and lost people.  I could barely stand to look at them, my writing was so dreadful.  The drawings, at least, I could laugh at.  But it made me nostalgic because I remember how my friend Katy in high school would always read whatever I wrote, all of it, poems, letters, short stories, my small fragile attempts at novels, my even worse attempts at *cough, cough* romance. . . and by that I mean *cough, cough* sex.  (Man, I wish I had copies of that – virgins writing about something they had never done.)

“I have always have loved your writing,” she told me, more than once.  We were the kind of friends that told each other we would’ve have married each other – if one of us had been a guy.  So sadly, we were going to have to go out and find real guys.  I loved that acceptance of me, the naked, vulnerable, unpolished, really dorky me.  ‘Cause, god, I was a mess.  Even now, obviously the blogging doesn’t bother me too much, at least when I bother to do it.  But my poems, my stories, I share them very, very rarely.  It’s too much, I don’t want to know if they’re bad.  They’re part of me, the part that doesn’t want criticism.  A little bit of the stereotypical Cancer after all.

Sunday Blues

Aw man, I usually don’t get the Sunday blues anymore but the long weekend induced a bad case of them.  It’s mostly because I did not get to finishing as many projects as I would like, though I did paint and amazingly enough, even drew.  My eldest couldn’t find a coloring book so she commandeered me to draw some princesses.  I was looking for some suitable models so I used my old copy of Sir Lancelot of the Lake.

(Wow, just checked out the price of this old book on Amazon and it’s certainly more than the 50 pence my parents spent on it in a used book store in London, ’83.)  

And then to out-nerd me, R. wanted to watch “The Doctor’s Wife,” which she had already seen and unfathomably, I have not.  So we watched it and it was fun, but I found myself pensive.  When I was a kid and a teenager, I loved fantasy and science fiction.  The idea of different worlds with different challenges that I could more relate too seemed so wonderful.  Let’s face it, if the Doctor existed, and you could travel with him, it would be the best thing ever.  But it’s not real.  I found that I would simply get sucked into it and give up on my own life – because, after all, how could my own life ever be exciting?  

It’s a strange thing to realize how ordinary you are.  Really, how ordinary we all are.  I presume at some point my daughters will come to the realization that neither one is the smartest or the prettiest or the nicest – because the world is infinite and most of us are in the middle of the continuum.  So yes, it’s really fun to escape to someplace more exciting.  I’m still trying to figure out how to break it to her that it’s okay to somewhere in the middle, that you can still do good things in the middle.  But our culture is one that espouses individuality over everything else – though for the biggest problems we have, it will take many people working, not just one genius.  It would be great if we had a Doctor, but what we really have is a bunch of companions trying to figure it out.