Friday, October 26, 2012

I Miss You, Baby Tina!

When I was a wee lass, I had an imaginary friend who went by the handle Baby Tina. Baby Tina was a disastrous bitch from hell, let me tell you. She did awful things like the time she pushed me off the top of the flight of outdoor stairs at our apartment building (she promised me I could fly. I couldn't. It hurt). Or the time she painted the bathroom sink with hooker-red nail polish while I watched in horror, cowering from the voice of my mother shrieking at me through the locked door. Mom could smell nail polish. She got a screwdriver and took the door off the hinges. Baby Tina ran for the hills and I got a wooden spoon upside the ass, repeatedly.

Once she took my mother's brand new Avon demonstration kit, uncapped every last lipstick sample, and painted my face clown-style. It took four days of repeated scrubbing to wash off. I was blamed. But I made sure to rat the crazy bitch out, no way I was going down alone. Of course she skipped off to wreak havoc elsewhere while I was spanked, again, and grounded from watching Land of the Lost. Also, I got sent to therapy. What a scrunt.

For many years, Baby Tina got up to bad girl shenanigans and I took the fall. It was easy for her to get away with it; we looked exactly alike. Also, she vanished any time anyone else was around. So I looked liked a lying, delusional dumbass when I explained, very patiently, that it was Baby Tina who poured a bottle of dish soap into the coffee maker, cut the curtains with pinking shears and scratched the paint off the rollbars in my grandpa's Jeep, not me. My mom never bought it. There were many spankings. It did no good.

Somewhere along the line Baby Tina hitched a ride out of my life for good. Hopefully she landed herself in juvie hall and got her shit straightened out. I really could have used her in high school, though. She would have come in handy. Like, "Oh what's that? You think I made out with your boyfriend? Nah, that wasn't me homegirl, that was Baby Tina. That bitch a playa."Or "I swear to God officer, this is NOT my bottle of purple death-flavored Mad Dog 20/20. I'm just holding it for Baby Tina!"

My kids have never had a Baby Tina in their lives and I kind of can't relate. I guess they just blame each other for stuff instead (Grady), or sheepishly admit their transgression and beg forgiveness (Fletcher) or flat out deny it and call you bad names for accusing them even though all evidence points to them (Gwendolyn). Perhaps I should enlist Baby Tina's help in parenting. She could be the one who "forgets" to buy Toaster Strudel at the grocery store (as if I'm gonna get 'em that. Pssssshhht!) or ruins their favorite clothes in the washer or decides that brownies and popcorn are actually a fine dinner when served with milkshakes. Perhaps I'll summon her, dress her in my pajama pants and a grey pocket t-shirt with no bra and see if my family notices the difference. Then I could go crash some cars or fly off stairs or.... well, the possibilities are just endless, aren't they?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Reticence and Redemption

When I think about the differences between 19-year-old me and 39-year-old me, it's sometimes hard to believe I'm visualizing the same person. But then there are the similarities: The young woman I was and the mature woman I hope to become are both on the brink, the precipice, the cliff, the diving platform, the edge of something so great and so huge and monumental, yet there we are, both clueless and hopeless and fragile and as messed up as a sack of cats.

Nineteen-year-old me would go on to become a mother at 20. She would make terrible decisions and take way too long to complete her college degree. She would helplessly cower in abject sadness when friends turned evil, wear her heart on her sleeve, and laugh loudly, head tilted back, with great joy and enthusiasm. Wow. It kind of seems like I'm talking about 39-year-old me. Because I am still that silly, fragile girl, but with a 20-spot of combat duty under my belt and a better understanding of how to cope with my crazy frizzy hair. Yes, that is a real issue.

On the edge of 40 (ok not for six more months, but still), I have a husband and three children (one almost 19!) and a house and cars and issues and bills and Wi-Fi and sadness and hypertension and stress and a stalled career and all the suckish stuff that adults have to deal with. I waffle between the definition of my current precipice: old age, or mid-life crisis? Real issues, or imaginary shit trying to kill me from the inside out? What to do, what to do.

I was thinking earlier today that I so wish I could go back to 19-year-old Amy and slap her around a little, tell her to grow a pair of ovaries and go kick some ass. But I know I wouldn't listen. A good indication of this is a conversation I recently had with my almost-19-year-old daughter who was bitching about her appearance. I find this truly ridiculous, as she is hot as hell yet walks with the dejected slump of an 85-year-old farmer. If I was her, I'd be out doing some damage.

"But you're my mom. You think I'm pretty but you have to," she said.

That's when it occurred to me that no matter what I said to my past self, I wouldn't have believed my future self, anyway. At that time in my life, I had the benefit of having friends that were a great deal older than I was. Friends who knew things. And I listened politely and believed what they said. I believed it was true for them, but not for me. After all, isn't that what youth is all about? The cocky confidence to do everything for yourself, yet the disabling insecurity and nagging feeling that you constantly suck at whatever you do? No? Maybe it's just me.

So what would an aged me tell 39-year-old me? Don't sweat the small stuff? Let it go? Live and let live? None of this will matter in 100 years' time? If you're an ass to people, people will be asses to you? All this I already know. But there's a huge difference between intellectually knowing something and emotionally owning it. And there's the rub. And also the reason I'd never, ever want to be 19 again for anything in the world.

Monday, October 8, 2012

It's Mother Fuckin' Fall, Y'all

This weekend was the first really cold snap we've had so far this fall. Or maybe it wasn't that cold and I'm just an elderly d-bag. I tell you though, the crispiness is out there. On my nightly walks this weekend? I could almost see my breath. And I wore a sweater with my shorts. I also tripped, skidded and twisted my ankle on about a billion f'ing fallen nuts. Walnuts and pecans. Yup. It's mother fuckin' fall.

Besides the icy breath, the cursed nut piles, the four batches of cookies I baked in the last two days, the furnace coming on at night and the pile of hoodies in the chair by the front door, I can tell it's fall by the needs I've been experiencing. See when the seasons change, it's like a primal alarm clock goes off in my brain, and there are things I must do or I'll not survive. 

The first thing I do in the fall, as though on autopilot (and I like seriously have no control over this): Hoard yarn. I buy yarn. Lots of yarn. Even though I have lots of yarn left over from last year. And the year before that. Because I must make hats! And mother fuckin' scarves! Usually all for my daughter Gwendolyn, who is not a hat and/or mother fuckin' scarf person. But I make them anyway! Because I must! I can't even knit. I crochet because it's the only "craft" my grandmother was ever able to pound into my block head. And if the thought of me with a crochet hook scares you, then you're probably smart. Because I'm way more likely to wield a crochet hook as an eye-gouging weapon than as a craft implement. But I digress. This year the insanity has grown to epic proportions.  My need to crochet is so big and so violent and so insane, that I have so far woven 23 skeins of really fat yarn into this epic blanket of doom. Afghan? That doesn't seem like an adequate word. This fucker weighs so much it's arduous to move on my own and it's only half finished. You could snare small children under it. Seriously, like if I tucked my little boys in under this thing? They'd not be able to lift it off themselves. Moohoohahahaha.....

Rambo helped me with this project. He's awesome like that. 
Also? The need to snuggle. This season is the reason why I have a king-sized bed. I'm freezing cold, miserable and unhappy unless I'm sleeping in a dogpile of heavy quilts, flailing children, the cat, and approximately 100 pillows. Until of course I end up at the bottom of this hot, sweaty mess of arms, legs, blankets and the cat, at which time I cuss and bitch and pry myself loose and go sleep alone on the frosty leather couch. Because seriously? Leather couches are f'ing cold in the winter.

Incredibly important: Movie marathons. Every single film Wes Anderson has ever made, including the really bad first ones (sorry Wes). And of course all six Star Wars movies. Yes, even the embarrassingly bad prequels. Including Jar Jar. Seriously. And the Goonies. And popcorn. Lots of it. And Donnie Darko. And lots of other movies, too. Movies and snuggly children. And this is the reason, I do suppose, for the need to crochet the blanket of infinite largess. I want a blanket that will cover the entire couch and every body snuggled on it.

There are other rituals. Pies to be baked, soups and stews and squash and roast beast and football and apple picking and scenic drives and shit like that. Hopefully I'll be over the insanity soon and we can move on to Christmas/Kwanza/Hanukkah/Festivus/etc. After the harvest is in, everything is canned, pickled, dehydrated and otherwise perserved for the winter season, what do you do with your free time? What, dear readers, are your autumnal rituals? I'd love to hear about them. Till then, Mahalo for listening!