Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Thursday, January 31, 2013

For Porckr

The eight year-old, midway through a viewing of "Meet the Robinsons" and apropos of not much:

"Oh, yeah, I forgot to read something."


"A love letter."

From whom?

"I have no idea.  BECAUSE I HAVEN'T READ IT, MOM."

Ah.  Of course.

"It may be from J___________.  Yup, this is her handwriting."

The love letter consisted of five pieces of notebook paper, bound into a book by tying string through the holes (clever).

Page 1:

FOR PORCKR  [Still using inventive spelling, I see.]

I like you, Porckr.  [Strong start.]

I love you, Porckr.  [Well, that's sweet.]

I wish you liked me, Porckr.  [J___________, I think that you and I need to have the "you can't change him" conversation, because the sooner you learn that lesson, the happier you will be.]

YOU LOVE ME, PORCKR.  [Okay, now we're just being stalkerish.]

Page 2:

[Stick figure illustration of Porckr and J___________.  She got his hair right, but she gave him green eyes instead of brown.  Guessing that she only had a limited supply of what appears to have been Crayola fine-tip markers at her disposal.   There are two slashes under his left eye.  Is he crying . . . green tears?  Or has she wounded him in some way?  J___________ is, herself, entirely green:  green hair, eyes, smile and dress.  Green with envy over the good fortune of some classmate to whom Porckr demonstrates more affection?  One can only guess.]

Pages 3 through 5:

[Blank.  Reserved for future gushing, or stalking.] 

"Porckr" spent about 5.5 seconds evaluating her labor of love, shrugged,  tossed it to me and resumed watching his Disney cartoon.  And then I kind of felt sorry for J___________, her "borderline Kathy Bates in 'Misery'" tendencies notwithstanding.   I imagined her slowly writing out each character, making sure that each letter was perfectly neat and straight.  I imagined her agonizing over which colors to use for her drawing out of the options available to her:  purple, pink, green, yellow and #2 pencil.  And I imagined her imagining my son's reaction when he first viewed her work product.  Indifference probably wasn't what she was going for.

I am on record that I want to raise my boys to be the type of boys worthy of female attention - not in the "oh, he's so hot" way (save for giving them half of their DNA and hoping for the best, that one's out of my hands) but in the "he's such a gentlemen that he's the first guy I think of come Sadie Hawkins dance time."  (Do they still have those?)  My archetype:  a kid named Jason who was two classes behind me, and whose sister was  two classes ahead.  Said sister made it a point of teaching her little brother to treat the fairer sex the way she wanted to be treated.  "We have the babies, Jason, so the least you can do is open a door, or return a phone call in a prompt manner."  That stuck with me.  So I look for teachable moments, and the appearance of the love letter was one of those.  I waited until "Robinsons" was over and stated my case - as subtly and non-threateningly possible.

You know, that was awfully sweet of J____________ to write you that note.

"I know, Mom." 

It was awfully brave of her, too.

"I KNOW, MOM.  I thanked her before the last bell [so much for not knowing who sent it?] , and I told her that I recognized that it took a lot of time for her to write it and also a lot of courage to tell me how she felt - even though I already knew."

Ohhhkay, we still have a little work to do.  But we're on the right track.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

They Know Me Too Well

Things that I got for Christmas this year:

From Spouse

A new router for our home computer network, because I kept losing the signal on the old one, and he was constantly having to flip the switch (located in his office) to reboot it.  The new one kicks tail.  Haven't been kicked off the network once since it was installed.  Marital harmony restored.  Also, he named the new network "Surveillance Van," which is pretty awesome.  Totally stolen from Someecards, but awesome nonetheless.

One of those things that you plug into your dashboard, and it diagnoses what is wrong with your car.  I'm sure that there is a technical term for this concept - I just don't know it offhand.  What I do know is that I have remarked, more than once, that I wish I had the diagnostic dealie that they use when they inspect your car at the service station, and SPOUSE HEARD ME.  Also, Spouse recognizes that the best way to deal with my paranoias is to address them head-on.

A hand-held UV light that kills germs and mold.  See:  paranoias, above.

Spouse bought me other stuff - some of it traditional husband-to-wife stuff, like some really pretty aquamarine earrings.  However, it's the routers and engine diagnostic tools and sterilizing equipment that tell me that he REALLY loves me, and totally gets me.   (Sister-in-law D and brother-in-law A also get "paranoid" me.  WOOHOO, A GERMAN AUTO EMERGENCY LIFE HAMMER!  I seriously have always wanted one.)

From my mother

A new candy thermometer.  A refillable icing pen.   A cookie cutter shaped like an Erlenmeyer bulb flask.  (For Halloween and mad scientist parties.  It was on my cookie cutter wish list.  Yes, I have one of those.)   An apron.  A Cuisinart chef's pan in a size I didn't have.  A bottle of princess cake emulsion.  Jars of Vietnamese cinnamon and espresso powder. 

Because my mother also totally gets me.  Other people who get me "domestic" me:  my sister-in-law M (AKA "the awesome person who filled a Neiman-Marcus shoebox with cupcake liners and toppers FOR EVERY FLIPPIN' OCCASION, wrapped it and, God love her, put my name on it") and my brother-in-law Z (subscriptions to Bon Appetit, Saveur and some really cool Italian cooking magazine filled with things that I can't pronounce but totally plan to try).

And the hits just kept on coming.  A Keurig machine.  (Okay, that was TECHNICALLY for Spouse, but I'm rockin' the heck out of it.)  The world's softest robe, with matching hair band and spa shoes - none of it pink.  Books I have been wanting to read, and can utilize in tandem with my - ahem, OUR - Keurig machine, and my fluffy robe.  Books I had never heard of before, but now totally love.  A Someecard desk calendar (so that I can come up with other funny stuff like naming our WiFi "Surveillance Van"!).   Spoon Man (really, that's what he's called - he's a metal sculpture made out of flatware, holding a tumbler, in which we now store straws - so he's kinda morphed into Straw Man.)  A membership to the new science and history museum in Dallas.  Nordstrom and Neiman's gift cards to apply towards LeMystere bras, BB cream and other ridiculously expensive consumable necessities.  Cash to apply towards monogrammed chair slipcovers from Ballard Designs and pillow slips from Etsy.

 This year, more than any other year, I was struck by how well the people in my life know me.   And, more than any other tangible thing, that made me feel awfully good.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas Returns to Thomas Place, Part Deux

A couple more "teal, teal Christmas" pics.  The first one was a canvas I painted, threw in an old frame and topped with a folk art Santa.  It was the perfect dimensions to replace a framed mola that was a little too bright (and too orange) to leave up during the holidays.

My sampler of Elf quotes was displayed below my odd "Santa installation."

Since I have a small collection of matryoshki and kokeshi dolls that sometimes find themselves displayed on the shelf in the hallway, I decided to make the area outside of the boys' bathroom "Doll Central."

I had as much fun decorating the kitchen - because there's lots of new nooks and crannies to bedeck.  I was particularly happy with these wreaths, which started out as two dusty, unused wreaths in the carriage house, a handful of sugar cookie-themed ornaments and some vintage light reflectors.  (As I was packing down stuff after the holiday, I came across more kitchen-themed stuff, and I tricked the wreaths out a bit more before putting them up for the year.)

I actually found four wreaths total.  The other two I decorated for outdoor use, utilizing a bunch of shatterproof ornaments that I acquired for . . . something, can't remember what . . . a few years back, and never actually used.  I felt very virtuous for having repurposed so much useless junk - and the wreaths came out super-cute, to boot.  Will share those photos when I get around to downloading 'em.

I Buddy-ed the master bedroom, too.   A Santa here, a garland there, and lots of Stewart tartan.  The tartan sleigh was a major score at the antique mall - I think I paid four dollars for it?   I think it's adorable - AND (bonus) it made a great remote control caddy.  Didn't lose the ceiling fan remote once over the holidays, which is a remarkable feat in our household.

A few more pics to follow.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christmas Returns to Thomas Place

So it was a bit chaotic locating, and then integrating, Christmas decor stowed in eight bazillion different locations (stuff that accompanied us to the apartment last year ended up in two places - indoors and out - and some stuff never made it out of the attic or carriage house last year), and I will admit to calling it good with a couple of big Rubbermaid totes still unopened and unexplored, but ultimately I was happy with the results.  Really happy, in fact, because for the first time in seventeen years I succeeded in weaving a cohesive thread through all of the decor in all of the rooms.  Sure, snowmen ended up in one cluster as they always do, angels landed in another, etc., but all of the various vignettes were tied together (as much as I am ever able to tidy anything up, with my schizo decorating personality) by:

1)  Color.  Red (real red - not burgundy; I have a visceral hatred of burgundy that I cannot even begin to explain), Martha green, teal and a splash of pink.

2)  Santas.  Vintage, folk art - I have amassed quite the collection,and I scattered those babies everywhere.  

3)  Blown Glass Ornies.  I collect them, but I never hang them on the tree. Weird, right?  But I have met my family (fur children included), and it's a safe bet that the tree is going to tip over at least once.  Unless we tether it to the plant hook in the corner of the dining room, which is where we have traditionally set up the tree, but this year I decided to take advantage of a new furniture configuration (envisioned especially to afford me living room "tree real estate," but I liked the layout so much that I have decided to keep it) and move the tree to the east.  As a result, I didn't have to fold down one half of the gateleg and was able to enjoy my full dining room table, and dining room - until Christmas morning, when the tree came crashing down.  Let me back up a bit:  on Christmas Eve, only a couple of hours before we were due to depart for church, Spouse got a wild hair to clean out the trunk of my car "to make room for gifts we're hauling to Mom's."  Why did this seem like a good idea at T-minus two hours on Christmas Eve, versus - oh - some random day in September when the weather was still warm?  Because this is Spouse that we're talking about.  And, while he denies it, I am somewhat convinced that he tackles these projects at inappropriate times just to futz with me.  Because I can't really complain, because it's stuff I have been asking him to do for, like, FOREVER, AND NOW HE IS FINALLY DOING IT.  AT THE MOST INOPPORTUNE TIME IMAGINABLE.  I HAD JUST GOTTEN THE HOUSE READY FOR SANTA, AND BAGS OF RANDOM JUNK START MATERIALIZING IN MY LIVING ROOM, BEGGING TO BE INTEGRATED OR AT LEAST STOWED.

Griswold Moment #1:  Big Kid stepped on a nail.  Yes, it happened when he was wearing shoes.  Yes, he recently had a tetanus booster.  Yes, he was smart enough to immediately pull up when he felt something protruding into his foot.  No stitches were required - just some peroxide and bandages.  But, still.

Griswold Moment #2:  Big Kid locked keys in the trunk.  Spouse claimed to be unable to locate his set.   USAA Roadside Assistance was called.  Spare keys turned up in Spouse's jacket pocket.  "Never mind" calls were placed to, and acknowledged by, tow truck people and USAA.  Tow truck people showed up anyway.

Griswold Moment #3:  Little Kid, who was doing precious little to move Project Trunk Dump along, saw Spouse come around the corner, decided to jump into action and look busy, and dang near concussed himself when his head collided with the car door.

That was Christmas Eve.  Moving on to Christmas Day:

Griswold Moment #4:  Big Kid remarked that he hadn't opened as many Mom and Dad presents as Little Kid.  Mom responded, "That's because you had one item that was more expensive than some of his - WAIT, WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ROCKSMITH FOR XBOX?"  Children were dispatched on hard-target search for gift that, somehow, did not make it under the tree.  While Mom was searching in the closet:  TIIIIIIIIIIIIMBER.  The sound of the not-tethered-to-the-ceiling tree making contact with the floor.  Because, apparently, Little Kid shimmied underneath to inspect the haul of gifts headed to Nana's that had been pushed to the back, and when he shimmied back out, the tree was disturbed from its axis.  Fortunately, he was thirty seconds and several yards clear when the tree tumped over.  Only one ornament broke, but all of the branches got tangled up - let's just say that contents shifted in transit - causing Mom to have to spend the next half hour applying lipstick to the tree pig, and fighting the urge to just strip the thing of  its ornaments and call it good.   Adding to her frustration:  the fact that the tree was decidedly listing in its stand, and could not be righted, requiring a quick relo into the dining room, where it got tethered to the ceiling hook with fishing wire, and the dining room table was hastily turned onto an angle to make room.  Further adding to her frustration:  her suspicion that Max Cat was laughing his little kitty tuckus off, because THE TREE CAME DOWN, AND HE WAS NOWHERE NEAR IT.  (In fact, I saw him run past me, in the direction of the tree, when it first came down, and the look on his little kitty face said, "SERIOUSLY?  SOMEONE ELSE KNOCKED IT DOWN THIS YEAR?  PRICELESS.  BWAHAHAHAHA.")

Griswold Moment #5:  Mom stormed out to her car - I forget why, but it was Tree Collapse-related, or possibly Missing Xbox Game-related - and discovered that the trunk had been left open all night, and IT WAS SLEETING INTO HER TRUNK.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh, the reason why the blown glass ornaments don't make it onto the tree:  because we are the Griswolds.

So, this year, I clustered them in vases, and hurricanes, and large glass jars, and trifle bowls, and I distributed them all over the place.

4)  Trees.  Not the fall-down-go-boom kind.  Folkloric felt and tinsel ones, mixed in with the Santas and other stuff, providing a little festive "scenery."

I have two of the teal felt ones.  Love that they are teal, and that they match the tablecloth so well.  (They should - all purchased at World Market out of the same collection, I think?   But the "Merry" plate on the dining room table was an earlier purchase, and it totally goes with the other stuff.)

More images of the Griswolds' teal, teal Christmas to follow.   (Elvis would be so proud.  Or confused, because "teal" might not compute.  Doesn't strike me as a 64-crayon box guy.)