For Matthew

I think of him most this time of year.

I’ll never forget that morning – it was one of those Chicago days that starts out chilly, with dew around the edges, but you can tell the afternoon is going to be hot.  I was 23 or 24, one of those stupid ages where you think you’re just about as old as you’ll ever need to get, and I stepped into my bosses’ car, the radio playing, on my way to work, and my boss turned to me and said “it’s on the news…somone from your high school killed himself.  Did you know him?”

And yes,  I did know him.  I did know Matt.

He was one of the first people who was nice to me, who noticed me, when I transferred to my new high school in Chicago from my old high school in Oregon.  He was our class valedictorian, one of the smartest kids I’ve ever known.  I latched onto him a bit, because he was just so nice, and he made me laugh.  He was too smart to be popular, and he walked funny, and I am sure he took some shit from the boys in our class, but at the time, I didn’t notice.  I knew he wasn’t popular, but he was nice to me.

I gave him a tie for his birthday, that first year, one of the first presents I’d ever given a boy, and he wore it all the time, and every time he wore it, I felt a little something happy inside, because someone actually cared about something I’d done.

Senior year one of his best friends gave him this terrible jacket, it was purple silk, puffy, and just…just so not the right thing to be wearing in high school in 1994.  We all knew it.

He wore that jacket every day.

He was the first person I ever told that I didn’t eat, that I maybe had a problem.  Standing outside the computer room, between classes, just because he asked me quietly if I was ok.  And I wasn’t, and just the way he asked it made something in me break, jiggle loose, and I let a little bit of it out that day, and it was the beginning of getting better.

The winter of our Senior Year he had some math class for geniuses at the college across from my house, after school, and when he was finished he’d come over to my house and we’d hang out or walk around – he never had a lot of time because he always had so much work to do, math or volunteering or church stuff I guess, but we’d hang out and joke about boys I liked or gossip about kids in our class.    I walked him to his car one night and it was snowing – just letting loose those fat puffy movie snowflakes, and the parking lot was lit by this golden lamp light and I swear if you tilted your head just right you could almost hear music as the snow fell, sharp, and glittery, and I looked up at him and he looked down at me, and he had a girlfriend and I was moving away from him, away from his social circle and into my own, but I knew that if ever there was going to be anything between us, that was the moment.  And then the moment slipped away and was gone.

Freshman year of college, I was busy slogging around the redwoods in Santa Cruz and he was busy slogging around the physics department of the University of Chicago, but that new fangled thing called email meant that we kept in touch, and he emailed me late one night to say that they’d had an argument in the dorms, that his roommates claimed that everyone knew that all girls from Oregon were ugly, and he’d had to step up and say that no, actually, the most beautiful girl he’d ever known was from Oregon.

It was the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me, and I carry it with me and bring it out at times when I need it most.

And then, we lost touch, and drifted apart.  He headed to grad school, I headed home, and one chilly Chicago morning, he was gone.

I think of him all the time.  I wish, so very much, that he was still here.

I think one of the reasons I don’t care about joining Facebook is that Matt is the only person I went to high school with that I really wish I could talk to today.  And since I can’t, there doesn’t seem to be much point.

He was an only child, and it breaks my heart to think of his parents, and it breaks my heart to think of him, so smart, but so unhappy that the only thing that he could do was to end it.

He’s gone, and I miss him.  But yes.  I knew Matt.  And I will never forget him.

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Stabby Part Two

Just in case I decide to sue someone’s ass later on down the road, I’m not going to say too much about the doctor’s appointment on Friday.  Just that we’ll be finding a new pediatrician, STAT.  And that we have to repeat all of the blood tests that Eli has already had.  Which means I held my baby down while they drew his blood for NOTHING and every time I repeat that little tidbit of information to anyone my voice gets high and I feel the rage coming on, so that’s fun.  Oh, Cystic Fibrosis has come up for a THIRD time and I am really really so very tired of having that conversation, so hopefully we’ll be ruling that out for once and for all.

I am very glad we went to the specialist, but I am very pissed off at our pediatrician, and I’m a little pissed off at myself.  I know better. I know better than to just listen to the first doctor who comes along.  I know better.

The good news is that the specialist looked right at me and said “I don’t care what the test results say, I trust mother’s intuition every time.  If this is what you think, then this is what we’re going to do.”  Amen to that.

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Rain?! I didn’t order rain!  And my jeans are too tight.  And Eli woke up at 6 AM screaming and will only eat cookies.  Sigh.

Anyhoo –

Pants and I are spending the morning with the pediatric gastroenterologist.  Wish us much luck and few blood draws, would you?

I’ve Got Questions. You’ve Got Answers?

1. I want to grow grass on my bathroom window sill.  Not THAT kind of grass, just like, decorative wheatgrass or something.  So I need a skinny long metal bin sort of thing. Any idea what I could use? What I should search for on Ebay or Etsy? I thought maybe an old loaf pan, but they are too wide and not long enough and they also look like…well, loaf pans.  I saw the perfect thing in the CB2 catalog I just got and of course they don’t sell it, it’s just for DECORATION or whatever,  which, hi, I find to be uber lame.   When the only thing I want to buy in your catalog is some crap your stylist found at a flea market maybe you should just be selling the crap your stylist buys at the flea market.  Except these.  These I love and I think I might have to hang them from my ceiling or something. Luckily for me they actually sell them in their store.  Remarkable.

That reminds me of this story I think I have told before about how whenever Mr. E sees gourds in the grocery store, like around halloween time they have those big bins of small gourds for sale?  Anyway, he always freaks out whenever he sees them and one time he admitted that when he was a freshman in college he and his roommate Andrew bought a bunch of these gourds and hung them from the doorway of their dorm room, and after he was done telling this story I just looked at him and said “Seriously? What did girls say when they came over?!” and he looked right back at me and said “Oh hon.  Girls never came to our room.”

2.  What do you think of this yellow clutch?  I decided I needed something to carry all my crap around in at my sister in law’s wedding this summer.  I’m  either going to be wearing a pink as hell sashy v neck dress from J Crew or a navy v neck shirt with a poofy yellow skirt.  But I am undecided on the clutch.  Please don’t tell me the sashy thing is over and tired because that’s just how it is, the dress comes with a sash.  Let’s just be happy I’m not wearing a Snuggle and be done with it.

3.  Regarding point 2, do you say “blouse” when you mean fancy shirt from Anthropologie that costs $88 dollars?  Because I find the word blouse to be kind of distasteful.  It reminds me old ladies and their bras, for some reason.  But I honestly don’t know what other word I would use. I almost had an emotional breakdown during all four seasons of Felicity because she would not stop using the word “top” when she obviously meant sweater, so maybe I just have a fancy shirt word disorder or something.

4.  So I started painting the trim on the front of my house, but it was so peely and gross that I decided I had to scrape it first.  I couldn’t bring myself to just slap a coat of paint on top of the crusty mess that other people had already slapped seven trillion layers of paint on.  But then after I scraped, not that much of  the paint or stucco or god knows what else came off. So if I paint over that, you’ll totally see the bits where I scraped.  What do I do now? Sand down all the rest of the layers that won’t chip off?  Why am I now having a weird vision of myself spending all summer slaving over a hot power sander?  Sigh.

I love it when something that sounds so easy during a pre buying house walk through or written down on a to do list replace floors! Buy a gas stove! Paint the trim white! new gate! replace the front door!) turns out to be a giant giant pain in the ass project, don’t you?  And yet somehow it’s so easy to write these things on a list or dismissively tick them off quickly when buying the house to begin with.  You never remember how much the actual painting part sucks until you sit down to actually paint.

Wow, I am all kinds of deep today, eh?

5.  Has anyone out there ever used Yolo paint? I was planning on going Benjamin Moore all the way, but the color range of Yolo really appeals to me.  I get overwhelmed so easily when it comes to paint colors and there just aren’t enough Yolo colors to really freak anyone out.  Opinions?

6.  Does anyone have any idea how much it costs to put a window back in a house?  The jack asses who flipped my house removed two of the living room windows.  Before I do built ins, I was wondering if  maybe I should put the windows back in? But I have no idea if we’re talking $500 dollars or $15,000 dollars, you know?

7.  Any ideas for cheap mother’s day presents that aren’t pictures of my child? (That chip has already been cashed many many times.)  We have about nine presents to give in the month of May, so the  cheaper the better.  Books?  Necklaces?  Just cards?

8.  Is $24 dollars a good price for four pairs of summer pajamas, or should I buy them at Target?  The child own no summer pajamas, somehow, and he can’t sleep in just a diaper because he’ll take it off and start crying at the injustice of the pant less state.  He’s so high maintenance, that one.

9.  I am trying to think of random things to ask you now just because I want this list to be ten things long.  A little crazy?  Yessir.

10.  How great would it be if they would just hurry up and invent the Diet Coke Slurpee already?  The time is NOW, 7 Eleven peeps – I have tried that Crystal Light business you’ve been trying to pass off for three summers now and I am not having it. DIET COKE SLURPEES or NOTHING!

Busting Out All Over

Holy cow, you’d think we lived in one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions.   In other news, I totally had to look that up on Wikipedia to make sure we actually lived where I think we live.

Here are my most precious tomatoes that I grew from seed with my bare hands.  Please note elaborate system designed to keep  dbag dog out of the tomato plants I GREW FROM SEED WITH MY BARE HANDS.  I am hopeful that after planting seventeen tomato plants I should be able to grow at least one tomato.

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Look at that grape arbor go to town! It’s covered in baby grapes. Mr. E likes to count the clusters as he maniacally rubs his hands together. I’ve had to stop him from reporting the number of clusters to guests.  I can’t take too much credit for the grapes as this bad boy was here when we moved in but I did prune it back last fall so on second thought, I rule.  Also, I am not really exaggerating when I tell you that I think we sort of kind of bought the house because it had a grape arbor in the back yard. Totally worth it too.

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And bean sprouts! Woo hoo!

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Mr. E’s obsessing has paid off and the lemon tree is in full bloom.

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I’ve never had much luck growing mint even though apparently it’s the easiest thing to grow on Earth and most people have a harder time getting rid of it than they do growing it. My step father told me to plant it in shade by the back hose and it seems to be working, despite the fact that Eli stomped on it the other day and then laughed at me when I asked him if he wanted to go in time out.

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Poppies! Mr. E chucked a packet of seed on the ground and voila!

I would like to mention that at no point did I cease to open up a seed packet and think “Huh! Those look just like (tomato, poppy, cucumber) seeds!”  I am clearly very wise in the ways of the planting.

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Can you see it? There’s a lily just coming up right in the middle of this picture.  I have a secret diabolical plan to fill my backyard with lilies so I don’t have to spend six dollars on a bouquet every time I walk in Trader Joe’s this summer. Look at me – all the total budget economizing genius!

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Some very tiny (transplanted too soon?) pepper plants.

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Either a cucumber sprout or a weed. I know, I know, I could not be more fascinating if I tried.

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Here’s my nasturtiums not doing a damn thing, in these window boxes. On the plus side you can see my awesome new window boxes and the front of the house I painted black the other day. Mr. E hates it.  Also, at one point during the haranguing necessary to goad Mr. E into putting up the window boxes Mr. E informed that me that attaching them to the house would probably RUIN THE HOUSE FOREVER and that was why no one else in our entire neighborhood had them.  Then we went for a walk and I pointed out all the house with window boxes on our street and then I made him buy a new drill bit at Home Depot and then he put up the window boxes.   I am pretty sure he hates them too.   I just hope he doesn’t hate ME.  (All of you are thinking : Chances NOT good)

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Look at my hydrangeas! I am in love with my hydrangeas so intensely much.  Despite the fact that they’re covered in earwigs, my least favorite bug of all time.

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I forgot to take a picture of the fig tree in the side yard, please accept my apologies, but it’s totally got leaves and considering it was just a bare stick a month ago, that’s pretty exciting.  It doesn’t even have to get figs, I don’t even really know if I’d even eat a fig, I just think the leaves are the bomb diggity.

And what’s this tender sprout, you ask?  Those are MY PEONIES WOO HOO!  I stepped all over them this  morning before I realized they were actually growing.  Only the second best flowers in the universe, growing right there in my yard, yessir, and considering that it was less a month ago that I had call to make multiple phone calls AND consult the internet to figure out which was the “up” end of the peony root, I am tres thrilled that they are growing. And let’s get another “Woo hoo!” for that.

I can’t decide if I should dig up the grass around them and make a little sort of sectioned off area.  I  guess I’ll ask Mr. E what he thinks. I don’t think I want bark dust in the yard though, that seems like it might look a bit quinky.

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I also conquered the weird feelings I get when I take pictures of my house where other people can see me doing it and took this picture of the gourd birdhouse for you all.  It started off green but then I changed my mind and painted over the green with sky blue as per Jess’ suggestion and now I love it.  We had to zip tie it to the branch after a bunch of shitheads delightful neighborhood children were caught in the act of smacking it off the branch one too many times.  Also, please note that no birds have ever considered living in it.  But it does get LOTS of admiring glances and confused stares from the street. Mission accomplished!

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In other news, I am already sick of watering.  And the NBA Play Offs start tonight. Rip City, Baby!

Why I Probably Won’t Have Five Children After All

I’ve been hating my living room for months now – something’s been off for ages and I couldn’t put my finger on it, so this weekend we started Project UnSuckify The Living Room (Hey Mr. E:  We’ve started Project UnSuckify the Living Room) and I moved in a area rug and sold some crap on Craigslist and conceptualized some new curtains and some built ins.  I shoved a bookshelf across the room and since Mr. E refused to let me just leave it full of books and let the books fall where they may, I had to unload it before shoving it ten feet and so behind some books on the third shelf I found a box of pictures – prints that BFF Sara had taken of Eli’s first few moments in this world as well as some pictures of his nursery a few hours before his first few moments in the world.

Looking at those photographs of his picture perfect nursery reminded me a of a moment – sometime right after the last ABC poster had been hung and the last little outfit had been lovingly placed in a drawer.  Mr. E was in shock at the amount of time and money I’d poured into the nursery quietly admiring all my hard work and he dug a little green polka dotted receiving blanket out of the tote where I’d stored them – carefully folded and ordered and sorted, and then he casually put it back, but turned the wrong way.

I darted across the room and corrected the orientation so that all the receiving blankets were lined up correctly again, the corners neat, the smooth edges facing up, the cutest ones toward the front of the tote, and Mr. E looked at me, shaking his head, and said “You SO need to have five boys.”

But two years and some change later, I’ve realized something.  I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to figure it out, but the fact of the matter is, this is who I am.  I am a perfectionist, a receiving blanket straightener.  I line up the tea bags while I wait for my latte at Starbucks, and it doesn’t matter what you think of me, it doesn’t matter how many pills I take or how many eye rolls you throw my way or how many kids I end up having.  I am hard wired this way.  There will never be anything, any amount of children, that makes me not care how the towels are folded, how the receiving blankets are lined up in the tote.  Because I don’t end up caring less. I just end up frustrated that I don’t have the time or the energy or the free hands I need to do things the right way, my way.

There’s probably some talk therapy out there, some perfectionist treatment that could make me care less.  I could zap my wrist with a rubber band every time I thought about my linen closet.   Maybe I could have five boys and see how that works out for me.

But I am starting to think maybe it’s just easier to admit that this is who I am.  To smile when other people roll their eyes.  To laugh when Mr. E shakes his head.  And to keep right on straightening the towels, lining up edges with the best of them.

Poem of the Day

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? At least I hope that it is and I didn’t totally make that up, but regardless, Mr. E has been writing me a poem every day and emailing it to me. Which is all kinds of awesome, I think you’ll agree.  Some of his poems are actually quite lovely.  It’s very romantic, I think.

I haven’t committed to writing a poem EVERY DAY because long term involvement in broad social movements makes me nervous but sometimes I get inspired and write poems back to him.

Here’s my poem of the day for Mr. E.  It was, you could say, loosely inspired by real life events.

Poem of the Day

I love you very much my dear
more than the sun and the stars combined
more than you can imagine in this whole life

but if you take my fracking towel out of the bathroom
one more time
and leave me stranded
dripping and cold
in the icy bathroom

i shall have no choice
but to urinate
on your toothbrush.