Monday, July 21, 2014

Things I've learned after 5 days in the Woods with the Boys

1. Not all paddles float. 

2. The longer one debates if the paddle is worth being rescued when it is 60 degrees outside and the lake is cold, the less likely the rescue attempt will succeed. 

3. Diving into lake to rescue paddle 3 seconds too late is cold and futile. And wet. Did I mention cold? 

4. Goggles also do not float long enough to be rescued. 

5. (Some) Amish people have a decent sense of humor about having model rockets land on their roof. 

6. Alpacas have three stomachs. They chew, swallow, regurgitate, and chew more. You can watch the food go up and down their necks, making their necks looks like big fuzzy anacondas.  I'm now quite sure that alpacas are really big headed snakes with legs. 

7. Little boys occasionally sing odes to their penises when they think no one is listening. 

8.  When one has lost a rocket or two onto the roof of the Amish farm, you can make a rocket out of a stick, which is way more satisfying than using a pre-made rocket.  This causes one to become obsessed with what else they can launch.  Ugly shoe launching seems a worthwhile endeavor.   

9.   It only takes about five minutes for small boys to collect enough rocks in their pockets for their pants fall completely off.

10.  When using a tractor to pull a truck out of the mud, it is best when the truck is taken out of park before the tractor guns it. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Name Calling - A Better Word Than Boyfriend

My father always called his love interests lady friends. It was sort of quaint, sort of awkward, but more accurate that girlfriend  at his age—they were grownup women, not girls. 

How then, does one introduce a man one is dating? Boyfriend is too youthful. I was done dating boys a long time ago. Man-friend is ridiculous. Beau is too unexpected, and too close to boo to work for me. Gentleman Caller is a little too old fashioned, and besides, I hate to talk on the phone. People never call me. 

As a child, I was saddled with awkward language to describe my lesbian mothers' relationship, and I recoil from words like significant other, or partner. I stole the term honey from my friends at the flower shops of my youth, as in your honey is on the phone, but I can't introduce my children to my honey.  It just doesn't work well with children. Same with suitor, companion, or Heaven-forfend lover.

I tell myself that I am smart and I can come up with a better word. 

"Mama, you are never getting married again, right? You already did that before. You are done with that," my eldest says. 

"Mama, I want a stepfather or a stepmother," my youngest says, "in case you or Daddy die."  Note to self: reassure youngest child about death.  

No, I am quite firmly not getting married again any time soon, even if Tiny Pants would like a tidy name in his lexicon like stepfather and I would like a more exact word than boyfriend. The only time I waver in this is when I see wedding dresses, but then I remind myself I can always have a really cool fancy party some day and wear an over-priced dress if I want to. The rest of it I am not ready to sign on for, and I don't see myself changing my mind for a long time. That means fiance is out of the question.

I have asked all of my writerly friends to coin a word for me, and none have taken up my challenge. I guess I'm going to have to do it myself.  

Special friend. Um, eek. suggests darling, tootsie, flame, dearest, steady, sweetheart, suitor, swain. How do you even pronounce swain? That's a ski resort by my home town. 

Cohort.  That is totally what I will use around grownups. Maybe. But kids? Probably not.

Main Squeeze. Too 80s.  Besides the kids do not want anyone else squeezing their mother.

Paramour.  That's kind of cool, but I'm not entirely sure of its meaning.  

Um, no.  Too sexual, and besides, I'm not even married so it doesn't apply.

Maybe there's a cool word in another language I can steal. Amigo. No. I'll try Yiddish, the language of my ancestors. Bwypr'nd. Guess that won't work either. 

Words.  I'm a writer.  I should be better at this.  Got any suggestions?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Best Advice I have Ever Been Given

A few nights ago I was very upset and stewing into the early morning hours over a fight I had with a loved one. I was quite sure that I was entirely right and they were entirely wrong. I asked on Facebook if anyone else was up—it was 4 o'clock in the morning—and an online writer friend I've never met in real life was awake and answered. She lives in Guernsey where it was a perfectly normal time to be awake. 

I typed out my anger and heartbreak, and she said:

Listen to me very carefully, because I have to go pick someone up at the airport in five minutes.

OK, I typed, my heart full of hope for the One Great Answer that would change my life. She was a single Mama, too. I was sure that her struggles led to Deep Insight, I was confident that her next words would change my life.

Go to sleep. It's the middle of the night. You aren't going to resolve anything at four o'clock in the morning.

That was it. No judgement, no commiserating, no comment on my Great Personal Struggle. 

Go. The F*ck. To Sleep. (I added the obscenity, she's far too polite for that.)

She was right. Sleep didn't magically fix anything, but it certainly was better than mentally picking at sores all night and resolving nothing. 

It's 4:00 AM.  There are no magic words. Go to sleep and try and become rational. 

Had another friend answered, we might have stayed up for the rest of the night rehashing all my feelings and arguments and doing nothing but making me more sleep deprived.  Instead, she Mama'ed me and put me to bed.

Go to sleep. It will be better in the morning, or at least the same in the morning, but you'll be less tired at least. It is truly the best advice we can give anyone in the middle of the night.

Thanks, Limpet Girl.