Used to be her town

I’m on this Google Earth kick and currently – between grading papers and checking Facebook – I am driving east on Hollywood boulevard towards the ocean. I just passed the former Hollywood Mall and the train station. Now I am in the area where there was a liquor store. My dad went in there a c0uple times a year to buy things for my grandfather. James Taylor’s Her Town Too came on Pandora and I find my heart aching for the feeling of being little and riding in the car down this palm tree lined road. It’s unnerving how well I can remember being young and what that felt like. I know so many people who put their past in the past and don’t utilize anything from their childhood. I use it to identify with my children and to spawn good feelings/good moods.

But I am already in a great mood today; as I posted on Facebook, we saw an amazing rainbow between rainy clouds all the way to daycare. Then I got sidetracked trying to photograph it and took another route. I ended up parallel to Thomasville on the other side of town and decided to ride Meridian to Monroe and then on to work. And somehow, I got all green lights. I mean, the entire way across town! The key now is to hold on to this good feeling. Music helps – my Ambrosia Pandora station likes to play James Taylor, Player, and Air Supply. All of this culminates into a feeling of belonging. I used to belong to Hollywood and, for a time, the Orlando area. There are songs I identify with those places and when I look at the same places on GE, I am instantly transported back. It’s an amazing phenomenon that this technology can aid in memory.

What also helps is being productive. I’m tying up some loose ends and working on my Fall syllabus. In a few hours I’ll go to Target. Shopping always lifts my spirits, even if I’m only purchasing undershirts and shampoo. Plus, I get time to myself. Shopping alone so very rarely occurs. I almost always have one if not two OR all three kids attached to me. And any parent knows: it is not easy to take them places. Sometimes they’re wonderful: behaving and quiet and grateful. But for the most part, herding them and wrestling them into any kind of submission is nigh impossible.

But they aren’t always bad and I have to remind myself that things really are great. And I must tell myself that just because it got all cloudy and sad outside, today is still going to be amazing. Today IS amazing.

Closing, opening

I have read a few blog posts lately wherein the writer was keenly aware that the summer – as it applies to the school year – is coming to a close and everything feels so very imminent. Backpacks and supply lists and Fall sports… it’s all coming; knocking at our doors. But I also read a few about how this mindset cuts off valuable “summer” time and activities. I said it earlier this summer: we could still go to the beach after August but why don’t we? The weather will start to get more bearable and the beach will be perfect. We so quickly give up the summer dreams when school begins because so too does the drudgery. I love the new semester in college – everything is so new and full of hope. But it quickly becomes day after day of WORK. The kids feel it too: homework and they’re tired and we just have less usable time to just hang out.  But I think we utilized our summer pretty well in that aspect. We hung out, we sunbathed, we hiked, we dallied, we goofed off, we ate and drank. I imagine that as the kids age, it’ll only get better. And though Fall is upon us soon, I look forward to the years to come.

14631551369_dccb19fe6c_z

14391704200_ce662028fe_z

14552905096_77e4b9a3b9_z

14573583667_afd8faa668_z

14403876329_55fc5057e8_z

Summer evening

We worked out then showered the sweat away, changing into loose house clothes. The air conditioner is good, cold, but this heat is insane and even in the darkness of our living room, the fan whirring at top speed, I feel the oppression of summer. Dinner is made and popsicles follow up – we decide to take a walk, though my weather app claims it is 100 degrees. Luckily, the sun is hiding behind some darker clouds and a breeze blows, though it merely whips the warm air around our faces. In the overcast mid-evening, I appreciate how each home harbors so much life inside it. No one else is outside; just our family of five humans, two dogs, dripping wet  by the time our 15 minutes of walking are over.

Another cool shower and I change and put Baby Girl to sleep. She drifts off lazily while eating and my days of this special time with her are numbered; we’re weaning. I only do this twice a day now and soon, she’ll be drinking regular milk from a cup. Sunday, she’ll turn one. I marvel at how quickly her first year seemed to go compared to either of the boys’.

Once she’s asleep – so peaceful – I slip out and put on a necklace and a slight bit of perfume and head out the door, on my way to a going away party. I rarely attend any events; so many people on my Facebook feed sending out invites yet, so many obstacles. It’s not that I don’t want to go out but with work, kids, mother/wife duties, it’s all so exhausting. So on a Monday, no less, I managed to find three hours to go and enjoy food, drink, and my peers.

After indulging in yummy food and two IPAs, I drove home in a light drizzle, the streetlights a colorful hazy zigzag through the raindrops on my car’s windows. It reminds me of being in college and my friends and I driving around town. There’s something really comforting to me about being in a moving car at night – I can’t really explain it. Maybe I formed that when I was young and we vacationed, getting up super early when it was still dark to get to Disney World from South Florida or to the airport. I reveled in the quiet, the stillness of night.

At home, my night is coated in the alcohol after effects and my sleepiness, but I manage to wind down on the couch with my laptop. It’s so quiet and peaceful – two things that the majority of my life are not. Even in my office, when no one’s around, there is always something. I’m not very good at sitting for long periods of time, doing nothing. But these brief moments in the late evening, I appreciate for that reason. Life is crazy, busy, full, and wonderful.

Drink one for me

My friend Carrie and I decided our co-authored memoir would be titled “Drinking on a Tuesday”, because life and kids are stressful. I DID drink last night, in fact – sake. I am not a huge sake fan but it was pretty good. I paired it with a volcano roll (that was actually on fire, like so:)mKsqg26ABHCLWa

which made the stuff on top all hot and melty. I also had a spicy tuna roll and a couple pieces of unagi and then my night was capped off by picking up birth control. LOL. Actually, the best part was driving across town at 9 pm. It is rare that I’m out at night or at least, near downtown, so it was kind of nice. I always liked driving at night, seeing everything lit up, and it was a moment for myself as I approached the intersection of Tennessee and Monroe, looked up at the folks on the 8th floor of the Hotel Duval, and on the distant horizon, the sky was just a wee bit still illuminated a cerulean blue – because it’s high summer.

Our summer hasn’t been exceedingly hot, I noted, which makes it easier to get out and mow the lawn, walk the dogs, and enjoy outdoor activities. Tonight is Family Night at Ell’s camp so we’ll be attending that. I’m assuming it’s outside, as it is at a local park. On Saturday we have a birthday party for Ell’s friend, Lucas (my boss’s grandson) and I want to enjoy this weekend. Last weekend was kind of, well, crappy. It rained all Saturday. I normally wake up on weekends and make breakfast, drink a cup or two of coffee, then start on tasks. I usually feel motivated to do so and energized by accomplishment but this past Saturday? Nope. I didn’t feel like doing ANYthing. I read in bed actually, and it was hard for me to get going at all. I opted out of the birthday party so Ash took just the boys, in the rain, to a pool party. I stayed home with a cranky teething baby and forelornly stared out the window at the driving rain. Sunday wasn’t much better. Though the sun came out in the late afternoon, it was still a long day inside, watching movies.

I desperately need a beach day.

I’m ready for the summer term to be over.

I want more coffee, always.

I want the motivation to do more fun things with the kids.

I need something awesome, random, and unexpected to happen.

But as they say, a watched pot…

The intangibility of memories

Not long ago, I began a new board on Pinterest when I was feeling particularly nostalgic for my childhood. Specifically, I was remembering the McDonald’s near I-95, down Hollywood boulevard. That was the one with the indoor playground. I remember it had a green floor in that area that was slightly spongier than normal tiling. There were two Filet-o-fish bouncers that sprung back and forth, a slide, and a little climbing type house. But not much else. I was not able to find any photos of pre-plastic monstrosity indoor playplaces but it was one of my favorite places to go.

This led me down a wormhole of things I remember as a kid: Teddy Ruxpin, Lite Brite, telephones with long curly cords(!), Oregon trail, Muppet Babies, Picture Pages, smelly stickers! The list goes on and on and all these faded images made me feel young again – made me relive the feeling of being that kid again. There are few things  today than can replicate how wonderful it is to think back on these memories. And every time I get into one of these reveries, I feel as if I can’t *quite* reach the true feeling I want to. I can’t touch them; they’re just fuzzy images in my head but oh, for that brief moment, I am a carefree little girl who likes to ride her scooter over the hump of grass out front and catch a slight bit of air before landing in the street. I am the girl who runs around the perimeter of my huge yard because I love the speed and the feeling of being fast. I am the girl who builds Lego houses and names all the little Lego men. I’m a good student who puts everything into her work and I seem to have balance in my life: school, homework, play, tv, family.

These days I struggle to make sure everyone gets their respective lunches; did all children get a towel for water day? Did I pull out cash for various activities? Is it laundry day? Bottles have to get washed and clean laundry sits in baskets for far too long. I have these grand delusions of you know, reading a book or getting other work done once kids go to bed. But I am always exhausted.

When something triggers a childhood memory though, boy, that’s a magical little moment in my day. Instantly transported back to jelly bracelets and velcro shoes. Riding on the back of my dad’s bike, getting slushies from a trailer parked by the beach. I’m the kid my dad took to McDonald’s for his favorite filet-o-fish sandwich and who he graciously watching  play on the plastic toys, the slide, the swings. In that moment, I am free.

0e08b4de1f9df9ebce127436c2a06273

 

16a954aff98037ea34ace4262f896b93

Currently

Stolen from Kenzie; done before but needed blog fodder today. SO, Currently I am:

 

READING | Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. So far I like it. The 80s references are great but it’s depressing that I can imagine our world being this way.ready_player_one_by_sepiawolf-d5iw7bc

WATCHING | World Cup, mostly. When Game of Thrones ended, we haven’t’ picked anything else up.

LISTENING TO | If you know me at all, Jimmy Buffett.

LOVING | These “vintage” v-neck shirts I found at Old Navy. I needed a new one to replace my old brown shirt from there and though they haven’t a single bit of brown in their current line, these are super soft and wash great! They fit even better after the first wash.Old-Navy-Vintage-Tee-Product-Photo

WANTING | To do some fun things with the family but with the energy needed. I feel exhausted and blah every weekend so it’s hard to make plans. (OK, last week we made it to the beach so I should stop.)

NEEDING | Clarity. Simplicity. I have some possible new things on the horizon and they might bring this about for me.

GETTING READY FOR | class, and working on editing a manuscript.

EXCITED ABOUT | The fact that it’s summer and I do feel a sense of laid-back-ness. It was actually hard to think of something I’m truly excited about. All I could think about was how I might be getting some extra money soon and it’s like, should I be happy about that as much as I am? I kind of hate money, in principle.

THANKFUL FOR | The fact that I have a job and money and great kids and for the most part, stability in my life. Silly, I know, but I just feel grateful for those things.

Second son

There were about two years, right after Isaac was first born, that I liked him more than Elliot. Parents always love their children but it’s true that we sometimes favor one over the other. He was my baby and at the time, I thought I was done having children so I held onto his sweet innocence for a long time. As he’s entered his fourth year, some of his less desirable traits have come to the forefront. He’s always been a rogue, sometimes stealing food right off your plate if you’re not looking, but lately, he’s just mean. He’ll push his brother to the absolute limit and he’s not afraid to hit him if need be. He gets frustrated when Ell talks over him, which anyone would since that boy can talk and talk. But what is really irritating lately is the fact that he’s holding onto the feeling of being a baby – THE baby.

5434554259_e11b6ee6aa_z

He cries and moans over so many things. And perhaps I have vaulted him forward, ahead of where he may actually be, emotionally and maturity-wise.  Every child outgrows things at their own pace, I know this. He still wants to carry his little doggie in the mornings and as soon as he gets home from school and his major concern lately is that he’ll one day have to leave the house and be on his own. He says he doesn’t want to leave us and even though we can visit, he’s scared. I don’t ever remember worrying about this as a kid, just as I noticed Elliot is worried about having to be an adult, Isaac has similar worries.8133276423_f014f0ab70_z

 

 

I hope he can let go of that fear and just enjoy his childhood. I sometimes wonder if we’re doing this to him; if in telling him we want him to be responsible and independent he mistakes that for us pushing him out and away. I have no idea how to explain to such a young child that I both want him to understand that the world is a harsh unfair place AND that he needs to enjoy being a kid for as long as possible. I felt like a free and easy child for most of my youth and I so very much want mine to enjoy and appreciate that time. Lord knows it’s not getting any easier!14394167381_0f34dfb5d8_z

My life in tweets

Not that I DID tweet these thoughts, but this is what I’d say if I did:download

 

My parents are taking the boys to Animal Kingdom today and I have to grade papers. Seems unfair.

My sister and her boyfriend were supposed to come hang with us at the hotel next Tuesday but he has to have a tooth pulled; poop.

One of Ell’s friend’s dad is this big guy, epic beard; feel like he’d be a mechanic. But he’s getting a PhD in… religion. I was way off.

I watched a video last night of these mobula rays flying out of the water; they looked like they were having the time of their lives. Rays!

If I take a photo of a nail design to my local salon, do you think they’ll do it? I have never asked for anything other than solid color. (OK, this one I actually did tweet. I gotta know…)

Watched a 20 min vid last night about the Barkley, the hardest ultra in America. It made me realize I will never run that far or that hard.

I’m revisiting ELO’s Eldorado album, whose cover scared the hell outta me when I was a child. Curse that Wicked Witch from Wizard of Oz!Front

 

 

Summer daydreaming

This time of year makes me think of your typical summery things: sprinklers in the yard, sunglasses, warm breezes, cold beer, and grilling out. My father had a basic charcoal grill and sometimes I get a whiff of that smell somewhere in our neighborhood. I am instantly transported to our Hollywood backyard. My dad would be starting the grill with his makeshift coffee can and newspaper chimney, and I’d be running around the spacious yard or hiding under the Persian lime tree. 2ba25495963e7f7d767d98814697bca3

 

Our tree was huge and had a big dome-like shape so I would climb under and play in the shade. The smell of charcoal floated on the air until it switched to the savory taste of  country-style ribs or hamburgers. Every now and then, we’d eat outside but mostly, I remember climbing the huge sycamore tree, then being called into a big Sunday meal. My parents went all-out on those days: meat, mashed potatoes, corn, salad. We ate as a family almost every night and that really embedded the importance of family meals.

****************

When I was in high school, we moved to Orlando and started going to the July NASCAR race. This was before they added another layer to the stands so we had seats in the top row. In the case of car racing, being higher was better. For the summer race, this was the case because at the top, you got a breeze. Since that one is an evening time start, we used to stay in some little beach motel called The Talisman, eat breakfast, then tailgate at the track all day long. I wasn’t old enough to drink, but the adults did while we grilled and chilled until race time. I remember it being so hot but distracted just enough to ignore the swelter. We’d always get a fly-over and a good race, followed up by amazing fireworks.13e8c3479011b67fcc8d2fd61c1b8008

 

****************

Lately, my summers equal trips to the beach with the kids and seeing how much they enjoy it. There’s a certain comfort in knowing that we’re helping them build childhood memories that they’ll look back on – hopefully like me – and think fondly of. I love seeing how much they love the water and building sand castles. As they grow, we’ll try skim boarding and shell collecting (on other beaches; St. George, not to much) and other summer beach type things. The goal is to rent a beach house at some point and maybe these memories will morph into extensions of that. I want that so badly, it huts. But for now, plug away at work, bide my time. It will happen.Beach-House-4

When the wildlife betrays me*

*Jimmy Buffett

You can pretty much count on all references to be of that nature. JB playlists ad nauseum. I have no interest in listening to other things right now. We all go through phases; you understand.

Here’s a mosaic of my mind today:

It’s hot again in Florida, which is normal for about 8-9 months out of the year. I still contend that I’d rather be warm/hot than cold so I’m not *actually* complaining about this. I love the sun. I don’t necessarily like sweating in my own home when I am cleaning, but I’m also not bumping the A/C down any more. For now, this early summer is suiting me just fine.

I was perusing the rest of Elliot’s baseball schedule and you know what? We have to play that little team of no-good punk kids for the final game. This bothers me – a lot. I wish we could end our season on a high note but, well, probably not.

An acquaintance of mine recently posted that she and her husband got divorced. I didn’t know a whole lot about her personal life but when I first met her, she’d recently gotten a boob job. She was one of those people who was very proud of it and she even mentioned it was something both she and her husband wanted. I guess I just find this all sort of interesting. Sometimes that superficial stuff can’t fix what lies underneath.

I scored a 117 point word in Word with Friends against my dad.

It’s been bothering me for a little while now but I have to confess this: I didn’t really like Frozen. I think I am being nit-picky but here’s a brief list of its problems: unexplained powers, horrible examples of men, songs that don’t send good messages but do get stuck in your head, no clear resolution, what IS the message it’s sending? I don’t know!! Ok, there. I feel better. I just expect more from Pixar but that was pretty sub-par.

We saw one of these cars on the road the other day:2012-Fisker-Karma-6

It’s a Fisker Karma 6. The company was not in business very long so it’s kind of surprising to see one here in Tally. Though, I have also seen a Delorean and a Tesla, so you never know!

Did I tell you about how I was searching for the call of the mourning dove last week? (Scroll down) I’d heard one in the trees outside my office as I walked in. It reminded me of being at my grandparents’ house in South Florida; something about its calming call plus the breeze ruffling palm fronds and the distant shh shhhh of the ocean… echoes of my childhood.

What is more odd is that one of my friends on Facebook just posted how HE was also searching for this sound. And one of our other friends said she’d googled it just last week. Mourning doves ftw.

I have leftovers for lunch and zero interest in eating them. I am very tempted to go out and pick up something. I am going to wait until noon and see how badly I want to eat something else.