The Nothing

My mother in law is staying with me for the next three weeks, and you all know what THAT means.

Nothing.

Not one fat fucking thing, that's what it means. Well, except that I'm lonely.

See, my mother in law and I have never had the best of relationships. We've gone from 'Maybe you're gonna be the one to save me' to 'Mortal Kombat' to 'Half a world away' and yes, I realize that those three things aren't the same, and therefore make for a pretty weak analogy, but I also don't thing Analogy is what I'm going for here but I went to high school and this is a personal blog which is, like, one ill-placed semi-colon away from; being a rough draft, so whatever.

We liked each other moderately, then we wanted to beat each other's brains out with a herring, and then I moved to a different country and she moved to a different continent.

Does the possessive plural of other need an apostrophe?

Can you tell I've been doing a LOT of 4th grade catch-up homework lately?

And that the last time I was asleep, it was for three hours, and it happened 19 hours ago?

So, she moved back from Africa after 2 1/2 years and then came to see us in Canada for a few weeks. And we both acted like complete assholes during the whole lead-up to that visit, because we have drama between us and we're, um, the exact same person and it annoys the fuck out of both of us? Yeah, that's about right.

But like they say, or at least he says, the anticipation of death is worse than death itself and once she was here, we realized that we'd actually both grown up ever so slightly and that we not only could co-exist without the world ending, we could even enjoy it a little.

So this time she came for three weeks over Christmas and New Year's, and no one is the least bit worried about it. I'm letting her wash the dishes, which is one of those things my 'I don't need you' pride and my 'My momma dropped me too many times' stupidity kept me from ever letting her do before. She's letting me cook for her and not apologizing or over-thanking me for it.

There is balance in our lives. It only took 14 years.

She and 3of3 were playing hide and seek, and she walked right in on me in my bathroom while I was only wearing what my momma gave me, and my momma is slightly smaller than one of your average freeways, so what she gave me isn't actually fit to be seen in the light of day by the guy I'm banging, let alone his mother.

But there she was in the entry and there I was in front of the Wall of Mirrors, so she pretty much had Full Monty, and I almost but didn't exactly so much as bat an eye. Because for one millisecond I wanted to, but then I remembered her standing over me, holding a thigh in the air, spending the better part of an hour watching someone who looks slightly like her worm his way out of the one place goddammit she told her son to stay away from because this is exactly the sort of things that happens when you dumb kids get drunk unsupervised.

She's seen me in worse conditions, that's all I'm saying.

And we're at that point where we can look back over these past 14 years and sort of laugh off a good deal of it, because our priorities in life are changing and it's not so important to feel right anymore, or we're both just too old for this shit.

So she asked to come for three weeks, and I thought that would be absolutely lovely, and then I accepted three days of meetings at work. 2,000 miles away from home. I'm not THAT reformed.

So I've left my children alone with my mother in law for four days while I gallivant across the west coast over what are the first full days I've spent without my children in six months. And I don't feel the least bit bad about it, because I've been with them EVERY DAY STRAIGHT FOR SIX MONTHS and she hasn't seen them in over a year and I needed to take this trip 2 months ago to catch up and mother in laws are supposed to help you with your kids when you need them, right? And I'm finally comfortable enough with her to ask her to do this for me, and not grovel or over-explain it.

And here I sit in my pretty little hotel room with a great big bed that doesn't have a 4 year old that got kicked out of her room for the next three weeks so Gramma could have some privacy in it, and my clothes are hanging up on hangars, not scrunched in the corner of the closet because the kids' stuff needs a proper space, and my makeup/jewelry/stuff I'm not born with is lined in on the bathroom counter where I can just grab whatever I need, whenever I need it, and not have to dig through 15 Dora backpacks to try & find my q-tips and it's perfectly quiet here.

There is silence in my life for the first time in 6 months. There is deafening silence surrounding me. I can sit at a desk and actually work, I can lay in my bed and actually sleep, all because my mother in law got the balls to just ask for what she wanted, and I grew the balls to do the same.

And I'd give anything to be home with them all right now. Someone punch me in the face until I come back to reality, please.

The Stairway To Heaven Has Exactly Twelve Steps, And Maybe One Of Those Caboodles

I own a lot of lipstick.

Why do I know this? Because I decided to really clean my house. Step one of any good life-douching is admitting that you are powerless and that your life has become unmanageable. Check. Step two is believing that some greater power can restore you to sanity. Check check. Step three is giving yourstuff self over to that thrift store greater power. Triple check, yo.

The fourth step, the inventory one...I always get stuck on this one. I've never actually made it past this one in any of my numerous trips up and spills down the 12 steps, but this time I am going to. This time, I have a tape gun and a spreadsheet.

I admitted that I couldn't tackle this alone, and enlisted the help of my husband. We got some boxes ready and we started sorting. Everything. Every nook and cranny and drawer and corner. It's downright ghastly the amount of shit I hold on to. I like to think I'm sooo organized because I have these five wooden crates where all my Items of Great Sentimental Value are stored, astonishingly flammablelely, in a closet. I think my father also presumes himself a tidy man, what with his neatly stacked boxes filling more than half of his garage, containing Roy Rogers coupons and Acme weekly circulars from when he moved cross country.

In 1986.

We hold on to stuff in my family. We hold on to so much stuff that sometimes we forget the stuff we're trying to hold on to. I forgot the cute little Laura Ashley shoes I bought my daughter (on a sale that can only be described as orgasmically divine) because her closet is overflowing with shoes she outgrew last year. I unburied my laundry room and discovered that I indeed still own this.

Box



It's just about my favorite thing in the world, and I honest to god thought I'd lost it in my move to Vancouver three years ago. Nope, just shoved it in the back of a room I never enter. Because there's too much crap in it. And it scares me a little.

This box hasn't been used since somewhere in the early 90's, in the year when my friend Johnny broke his father's fishing heart and went vegan. He gave me that box many many years later, when he found out I love to fish, and it's sat in this closet or that cabinet since then, hardly touched. And I cannot get rid of it. CANNOT.

Tackle



Each one of those forgotten lures, every one of those abandoned marshmallows, they hold a moment in time shared between a father and his son. It doesn't much matter to me that it wasn't my father or my son; the proverbial someone's is quite enough for my sentimental heart.

And so that box will get closed up tight once again, left out of one of the ever-growing thrift store boxes, and I will have to pray a little harder to my higher power for the strength to accept the things I cannot get rid of, the courage to hoard the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

And maybe for a make-up bag, too. Holy crap, the lipstick. I have no idea what my steak knives were doing with Clinique in Honeynut, and I really don't want to find out.

Recessive Genes

I am really nothing at all like my mother, which is convenient for me because I hate that woman like she's a member of the Judean People's Front, or still uses Internet Explorer. I don't look anything like her, I don't sound like her or walk like her or write like her or anything. Of course, I haven't seen her since 1992, so I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that I'm off the hook on this one. Except we do share one little quirk....we cook alike.

I say this as if my mother ever cooked, which she didn't, but once or twice a year some Church Royalty Dude would come through town and she'd offer to host him (Yes, him. Always him. Fucking patriarchal cult) at our home for a meal. This would be the one day a year when we ate real food. We loved Church Royalty Dude, because he meant hoagies and Pepsi.

She always cooked something, because she believed that if you had a guest, you cooked, and yes I totally got that trait from her, too. She'd make these amazing, complicated dessert things, or whip up a stew, or make some sort of salad or dip or something and it was always great, always from scratch, always seriously complicated, and she always did it effortlessly. Maybe she'd just stored up a years' worth of energy in her ass, I don't know. What I do know is that, though she didn't, the woman could cook.

You could just never, ever ask her to heat up a tv dinner. That thing would resemble a brick in a war zone by the time she was done with it. Ask for macaroni and cheese? You might as well call the CSI people to help you find it later. She couldn't make anything easy, ever; she just didn't think that way.

Guess who inherited something from her mother after all?

When I buy Kraft Dinner for my kids, I have to buy four boxes because I will, without a doubt, burn or boil to mush the first two boxes without fail, every time. Once, my kids' godfather's mom had 1of3's birthday at her house and asked me to bring ice cream sandwiches, just ice cream sandwiches, and I can't even being to think of the words I'd need to use to describe the monstrosity I brought to her house.

I cannot make cookies. COOKIES, PEOPLE.

I can bake anything. I can make the most complicated pastry, but not a chocolate chip cookie. I can bake the most amazing beef roulade you'll ever put in your face, but ask me to make a simple pot roast; go on, I DARE YOU. I can make homemade green chili that will make you cry out to the virgin Mary for mercy, but this one time I tried to make a homemade marinara and yeah, we're still having nightmares about that one.

I once made a fantastic meatloaf and cooked it on a styrofoam tray. I wish I was kidding.

I couldn't have inherited the green eyes or the jet black hair or the perfect fingernails or the nose that didn't look like a coat hanger, oh no...I had to get her mad kitchen skills. Thanks, really. On the upside, I'm not batshit crazy and I have had sex since 1981, so I'll live with my refrigerated cookie dough and take out chinese and call it even, I suppose.

I'd have really liked that black hair, though. I mean, look at it.

Yes, that's my mother. Shut up.



Bitch.

Say Click

As parents, The Donor and I try really hard to avoid cramming our own unfulfilled hopes and dreams down our children's throats, but there are just some things in life that cannot be avoided, like cramming our unfulfilled hopes and dreams down our children's throats.

For example, my husband was a really really REALLY good swimmer for a very long time.

He's on the block



So when our first child didn't exhibit anything that started with "deadly" when near the water, we slapped a speedo on that very cute little diapered bootylicious and crossed our fingers.

Swimming



Both of my parents are freakishly talented musicians and I always wished I was more like them that way, so naturally when my children so much as bop to a song on the radio, I compulsively start leaving trails of instruments around the house.

Roll Over, Beethoven
Ain't Noise Pollution

When our children show pre-dispositions to our own genetic quirks, like being double-jointed or able to roll our r's, we can't help but encourage them to keep practicing to perfect those traits.

Genetic Brilliance



It's exciting to see yourself in your kids, to see what weird thing they've taken from you or your spouse while you weren't looking.  It's neat when one kid has blue eyes and one kid has green eyes and one kid has hazel eyes.  It's fascinating how one kid can be completely literal and unimaginative while one kid can live with his head at cumulus level at all times, but at the same time neither of them are physically capable of estimation, just because that's what you've passed on.  It's fun to try and figure out which of the penchants or quirks or ticks your children possess came from nature and which came from nurture.  It's the question between what is taught and what is given.

I have no doubt at all that my kids like to take pictures, however, because they've lived most of their lives with a lens in their face.

My parents are just artists.  They sing and paint and play and photograph.  All of my siblings and I are also artistically inclined.  I can't for a second argue the fact that our musical and artistic abilities are just engrained into our DNA, and I also have to acknowledge the fact that my two brothers and me, who essentially did not know each other for most of our lives and still all grew up pre-dispositioned for engineering must be sharing some genetic ability.  I also know for a fact that I am never more than 10 feet away from my camera because my parents were never more than 10 feet from theirs and this is a simply a habit that I picked up from them.

And then I passed it down.

While we were in Whistler Village last week, my daughter came up to me and asked me for the camera.  So I gave it to her and wept for its untimely demise.  Except she didn't break it; quite to the contrary, she kind of rocked it a lot.

Taking Pictures



My three year old, it turns out, has quite the eye for photography.  She took a lot of pictures of her fingers, but then she saw a bird that she HAD to photograph, so she followed it all over the square, trying to get the shot.

Budding Photog



Now, those two shots up there were taken on my new Dingleberry, but this one, the money shot, was taken by my three year old. And it's totally unedited.

First photography session, take two



Do you see the bird? The girl's good, yo.

In fact, she's so good that she managed to take a totally crisp, perfectly centered and absolutely horrifying picture of her mother. You know how y'all are always like, "Dude, do you ever take a bad picture?" Wanna know why? Because I am the one taking the pictures, and I care enough to delete the rancid ones before anyone else can see them. But my kid doesn't.

First photography session



Because she won't have her art tamed. She won't be censored by the man. And she says you're welcome.

MIA

My mother in law is here for a week.  My mother in law doesn't know about this blog.  It's kind of important that it stays that way. This puts me in a tedious position.

I honestly don't know anymore why I don't want her to know about it.  When I started blogging, no one that knew me knew about it, save a handful of people.  About a year and a half into it, my husband found it.  Right after I left him, conveniently enough.  Good times, good times.  Once it was outed to him, I started letting it slip to others.  My best friend sent me an email one day saying that she was starting one of those self-indulgent, woe-is-me blogs and to not judge her too harshly, to which I replied that I already had one of those myself and maybe our blogs should meet.  Then a mutual friend started one, and so I fessed up to her as well.  My old next door neighbor and PTA bestie found me on NaBloOhYouKnow totally by accident.  And then one night I got extremely trashed and sent my brother the link.  I will never understand why I told my ex-boyfriend about it, but I did and he still talks to me, so I guess it's okay.  Maybe.  I gave the link to my best work-friend when I moved to Canada and swore him to secrecy.  And I even told one and only one of my in-laws about it, which is kind of fun because now when I get busted, I'll have an accomplice.  Truthfully, I guess I've told three in-laws since both of my sisters-in-law know about it, but none of them really count as in-laws because I like them.

My point is that it's coming out, this blog.  But I still don't want my family to read it, I still won't tell any of my neighbors about it and dear god in heaven, I will die the day my mother in law finds it.  Because I like my privacy, which is completely fucking ridiculous since I'm talking about a public website that any old joe-blow could read at any given point in space or time.

I never claimed to make any sense.

So she's here for a week on her way to Alaska for the summer and I can't exactly sit around commenting on blogs logged in as Mr Lady and I can't exactly have her reading over my shoulder when I open the heymrlady email account and I can't explain that the girl I talk to on the phone 15 hours straight a day is a blog friend and so I just can't be on the computer while she's here.  Which is a whole lot like saying that Paula Abdul can't take pain medications for a week straight, and so I just have to get myself and the computer as far apart as I can.  Or get really sick.  Or exert myself more in one hour than I have in the past decade.  Or send my husband to have surgery on his balls.  Or do all of those things at the exact same time.

Which is what any totally reasonable person would do, of course.

The Donor had his snip on Friday and his mother got here on Saturday, and they had some wholly disconcerting lovely mother/son bonding time.

A Little Too Familiar
They get bigger if you click'em, and the rest are on FlickR.  

Which all sounds almost but not quite naughty.



At 1 am on Saturday night/Sunday morning, my throat swelled shut.  AGAIN.  After a week on penicillin for strep.  Which was awesome because A) it was 1 in the morning, B) my mother in law was here, and C) we were running in the Vancouver marathon in 8 ever-nearing hours.  Which we totally did anyway.

Sight for sore eyes.  And legs.  And arms.  And everything.
Better than a happy meal toy.

And directly after that, we rented a mini-van and drove it up a mountain to Whistler for an overnight stay on a school night, because we're great parents.  At one point, when 2of3 asked us to turn up the radio because Kiss was on, The Donor turned to me and whispered, "You gotta admit; it's kind of awesome that the kid knows who Kiss is" and a few minutes later 1of3 told 2of3 that the next day was (our last name) Family Ditch Day from school and 2of3 asked, "What does ditch mean?" and I leaned over to The Donor and said, "Yeah, but that's more awesome."

We drove for 2 hours and I passed out in the front seat for all of it because ohmygod I was so sick I could die, and I missed a whole lot of this.

Does Not Suck



We checked into the hotel and then checked out the town.  Which is like Vail's little brother and is going to rock the fucking kasbah in 2010.  We got directly to doin' it like they do on the Travel Channel.

Princes of Main



And then I sent my 68 year old mother in law and my mutilated husband and the children I am no longer capable of replacing off to strap harnesses around their special bits and slide on wires over ravines which loom in the fathoms below.   

zipline



We got home late on Monday night and woke up early on Tuesday morning for an all day track meet.  In the goddamnmotherfucking Pacific Northwest rain.  Because I'm totally not sick enough.

3rd Place



And tonight, the night I have to write the American Idol recap, the night I HAVE to be on the computer, Ms. I'm An Antique and Have To Be In Bed By Eight decided that she wasn't tired at all and would just read.  On the couch.  Directly behind the computer.

We were off to such a good start, too.  Now's it's 3:25 in the am and I just want to bring that bitch DOWN.