Tuesday, November 19, 2013

You are my Best Friend

Does anyone else remember the Elementary/Junior High school tradition of choosing besties? You know, that ONE person who called you their best friend and you did the same? I remember the feeling of having someone say I was their "Best Friend" and how that shot of confidence helped me navigate all kinds of awkward moments and stages.

If you didn't know me in Elementary and through most of Junior High, let me explain myself by saying that my Mom loved me. Being a Mom myself now, I understand the feeling of letting your children develop into their own little people. And for this, I am grateful. My Mother required modesty and adherence to our private school dress code but let me for the most part pick out my own clothes. She didn't see fashion or trends or popularity- she let me be myself. Maybe when she shouldn't have... I have seen pictures of me in an acid wash mid calf length jean skirt with a white t-shirt and wide (I mean, wide) neon pink belt. Pink rimmed glasses and full braces with Lakers colors on the rubber bands. My brother loved Magic Johnson and when all else failed, whatever my cooler older brother was into was good enough for me. My awkward phase lasted for several years.

When I was in 6th grade, the coolest girl in my class chose me to be her best friend. Charity Tinsley was everyone's favorite- teachers loved her because she was wicked smart, spoke up in class and always did her homework. All the kids loved her because she was hilarious and dressed super cool and didn't put up with anybody's crap. She never "went with" anyone (what did that even mean?? I remember being so annoyed that my parents kept asking me what it meant to "go with" somebody and saying that it just "means what it means, Dad!") so she didn't have any enemies. She was good at every sport, every art class, every instrument.. you can hear me almost 21 years later still gushing about how fabulous she was. You get the picture- Charity was rad.

And I still remember the day she gave me my half of the Best Friends heart necklace. All of a sudden, I was invincible. Shaun could like me or not like me, I didn't care. Josh DiYanni could break up with me and start going with Hannah, and it didn't matter. I could get a detention for passing notes in class and I wasn't embarrassed. My gym clothes could be sitting on my dresser at home and I was playing kick ball in the "extra" pair the gym teacher kept in his office for kids who forgot theirs and I had someone to laugh with about how big the shorts were. Because I had a best friend I always had someone to walk down the hall with, someone who saved me a seat at lunch and someone looking for me to get to school every day.

I think adults have a harder time making best friends because we are too cool to ask. Grant and I talk all the time about how easy making friends used to be, and now it seems impossibly hard. We meet tons of cool people- have dinner parties, playdates, drinks on the back porch, coordinate lawn seats for outdoor concerts- we have good people to hang out with. But Best Friends are harder to make when you grow up. It seems riskier to say "You are my best friend" out loud because it might make you sound clingy or immature. Or like you need that title to prove that someone really knows you.

But I'm not talking about simply staking a claim or using someone's presence to make you feel important. I am talking about that deep down confidence that someone is saving a seat for you. Meets you at the ER at 11 o'clock at night because your child has a fever and your husband is out of town. Shares a beer with you and let you rant about how hard it is to love your husband sometimes, then gives you a hug and tells you to go back and work it out. Remembered you had a dermatologist appointment the day before and made a joke about what underwear you wore. As adults we have so many friends that we can hang out with, but very few that we can share our deep dark secrets with. The Best Friend title is sacred, not for the faint of heart. As adults we are not supposed to care if anyone saved a seat for us, but I would argue that all of us feel that warm fuzzy feeling when someone does.

My Best Friends are girls who have known me for a long time. We don't live in the same state, we don't talk often (enough) and we can't hold each other's hair back when the stomach flu goes around. They are my heart, but as life goes, they live far away from me. So here I am in a place where I will put down roots and nourish my marriage and raise my babies and now I NEED some best friends. Why is it so hard to ask? Because I will feel needy or self conscious or scared they won't feel the same way about me? Adults need besties too. But it's hard.

I think it's because Claire's doesn't make the best friend necklace in our size.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Pursy is all about secrets right now. She loves to jump in my lap, pull my face to hers and whisper any number of strange things into my ear. Sometimes it is

"Hey Mama. I really like the red panda at the zoo"

"I pooted!!"

"I don't want to eat my celery. Is that okay?"

"Bode num. Tade totum. Isn't that crazy?"

Her secrets are fantastic glimpses into how a 3 year old mind works. Sort of like thinking in hashtags, it seems. Or a combination of psych diagnosis. Flight of thought, word gathering, expressive aphasia. Sometimes it is just a random thought, sometimes a complaint about Knox's actions and like yesterday- a spontaneous love letter.

"Mama. Guess what? I love you more then all those other people."

I don't know who all the other people are, we were the only two humans in the room, but the sentiment was beautiful. And after the last three days, I needed to hear it.

Monday morning I woke up with the immediate knowledge that I was sick. My belly was rolling, every muscle in my body ached, I couldn't open my eyes and I was freezing. Only a few seconds after that terrible realization, the impetus for my waking up arrived at the side of my bed and whispered "Hey Mama, I have to poop. Will you help me go poop?" It was all I could do to reach over and hit Grant on the back. He needed to take over until I assessed my situation.

Today is Thursday, I think. This week was supposed to be awesome. We had an epic date night planned for Monday night, with concert tickets and a babysitter until midnight. Tuesday I was going to see one of the foremost leaders in archeological anthropology give a lecture at University of Pittsburgh. Wednesday was a work day (yay!). Thursday was a free evening and Friday we had another date night. The GI black plague is no respecter of parents who managed to score two babysitters in one week.

Monday was the worst, with no one getting dressed or leaving the house. I think the babes ate gingerbread and apples for dinner. This was particularly painful as I watched the tickets to Built to Spill grow dusty and blow away. Tuesday was mildly better, including a gross estimation of my recovery and bundling myself (and Grant, who graciously accepted my offer) to campus to hear the anthro lecture. I should have listened to my body because halfway through the evening, I knew whatever was working its way out of my body was not finished yet. Wednesday was back to the couch, calling out of work and dramatically proclaiming that no one understands the plight of a Mother with the stomach flu.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the babes did not get sick. I say unfortunately because if they had gotten sick, I would not have had two very active little humans crawling all over my feeble body begging to go outside and play in the first snowfall of the year. (really?? that special event had to happen this week??) But then, I cannot imagine what it would feel like to be cleaning up after three people instead of just myself, who can at least aim towards the toilet while vomiting.

Then came today. Today with its glorious sunshine, beautiful early rising children and kind handsome husband. Today with it's deep breath and strong legs and invisible stomach. Amazing that we can't feel organs until they are sick. Today my stomach was back to it's original business- just hanging out, waiting for something to do.

I learned a few things this week. The first is that I have the most talented husband on the planet. He always says he could never do my job, but he is just being polite.

Bread making is a dream distraction. Three hours of physical activity, science project, creative process, educational learning, and delicious eating with minimal effort on the part of sick Mama. Made me feel like a little less of a deadbeat.

Not being sick is the bee's knees.

I told the babes to find things to put their hair back with.

Elbow Grease

Knox punching down the dough. Literally.

We made bread!

Near perfection.

Is there anything sexier then a pile of clean dishes that your husband stayed up washing while you were sleeping?? Maybe if he were lying naked next to the dish soap...

The kindness of friends. On top of everything else, not drinking coffee left me with a splitting caffeine headache. My sweet friend Lydia brought dinner so my husband and babes didn't starve, and a box of black tea so I would stop telling her I wished I were dead.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New Babies and Corn Chowder with Dill Biscuits

What is more delicious- a one month old baby named Eleanor Gene or Cajun Corn Chowder??

Obviously the correct answer is the babe, and it is absolutely true. She is a gorgeous girl baby with alert deep brown eyes and a perfectly shaped mouth. Her parents are some of our dearest friends and my favorite sort of people- the ones who actually take me up on offers to come to OUR place for dinner so I can cook and do all the dishes while they relax. After Pursy was born a friend of mine always made that offer and I realized how luxurious it was to just show up and eat. People bringing us meals was fabulous as well, but not having a messy kitchen afterwards?? Amazeballs.

So last night they came over with new babe in tow and we feasted on these rustic drop biscuits (I added the last of my fresh dill from the garden to fancy them up- a great decision) a Cajun Corn Chowder from my new America's Test Kitchen cookbook (ask me for the recipe- you can't get it off line unless you buy a subscription to the website), green salad with pears and honey roasted pecans and any room we had left was devoted to gingerbread with pears.

When I realized I was out of my favorite Emeril's Cajun spice mix, I whipped up some of my own with paprika, onion powder, thyme, cayenne, cinnamon, red pepper flakes and oregano. I reserve the right on my own blog to give myself a huge pat on the back. The balance was perfect- the spice hit the front of your tongue and the heat warmed up your palate and throat.

Fabulous food, fabulous company, cute baby.

Huge sigh of contentment.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Quiet Kitchen Floor

Tonight I came home from work with a heavy, disconnected soul. Nothing in particular happened over the past 9 hours at the hospital but I find myself sitting on the kitchen floor in the dark eating pretzels and wishing I were different. I feel disenchanted with my profession, my response to people when they don't act like I hoped they would and my inability to "rise above".

I usually run right upstairs to the shower after stripping off my scrubs in the front hallway, but tonight I wandered into the kitchen- probably hoping there was a beer forgotten in the back of the fridge. No beer but I did find a container of pretzels with a white chocolate coating on one side and an M&M on the other. A weird confection and three elements I don't really care for, but somehow all smashed together it worked. Or maybe my sad heart just needed some homemade junk food to soothe. So I leaned against the counter in my gross scrubs and began browsing the intertubes.

It started out innocently enough- I checked my email, my Instagram page and two of my favorite blogs. Then, in the white chocolate no beer black hole of the kitchen, I fell.

Headlong into the mad craziness that is Facebook on a Tuesday night.

There are no words. No, there are lots of words. In two minutes I learned that Justin Beiber went to a sex club in Brazil (earning him the scornful nickname Boober, which I found delightful). I learned that several of my friends are receiving baskets of random natural snacks. I watched a video about a woman who has personal life experience with "gay therapy". I learned that the boys behind the Norwegian music video What Does the Fox Say are actually brothers. I saw a recipe for eggnog.

And I realized why social media is here to stay. Because it is the online Target without the buyers remorse. You can discover all sorts of things that you didn't know you wanted to know about.

It is 20 minutes later and I wish I hadn't eaten so many of these chocolate pretzels but I am no longer downtrodden. I feel full of whimsy and like a hot shower would feel really good. Am reminded why I no longer troll facebook because too many hours a day used to disappear the same way these last few minutes did for me. The rabbit hole of random information and who it comes from. Isn't it fascinating?? What people choose to post on facebook just might be the truest expression of their affections. Or at least, their affections of the moment.

So here is the question I will leave hanging in the dark air above my head, eerily lit by the glow of the computer screen.

Does your facebook feed reflect your interests or your awareness?

My brother and I discussed last week the difference between being truly INTERESTED in something and simply being AWARE that it exists. I find myself talking about certain interests of mine as if  I have already invested something in them. Time, money, mental energy, sharing with others what I found. When I walk through the library and see a book cover that catches my eye or reminds me that I heard an interview with the author on NPR and was riveted for 7 minutes, I reflexively and probably very subconsciously label myself as "into" XYZ, whatever that may be.

Urban homesteading? Absolutely. The Jazz Age? Totally a fan. Organic gardening? I DO that! (I think) Metalworking? I almost had an apprenticeship with a girl I met on Etsy but then we just ended up talking about Thai food and never made anything. But I am so into metalworking. Loretta Lynn? She is playing at the Rivers Casino here is Pittsburgh soon...or maybe already has. I was so excited to hear she was coming but never looked at the schedule.

  I talk about new things I get excited about without having the time to really learn about them or get into them or invest anything other then one or two really animated conversations about how great this thing is. How could you not agree with me?? So I sold you on it, then promptly became aware of something else but reserve the right to be annoyed you actually spent some time and now officially KNOW this thing.

The point is, I have been trying to differentiate between my true interests and the things that I am just happy to know are out there. Here is why I think it's important for me. I don't have enough alone time to read a magazine article, let alone a book. Thus my nightstand is a family joke, groaning under the weight of books that every time I look at wish I could just flop down on the bed and read cover to cover. I love listening to music. Grant faithfully makes a playlist for me every week on Spotify and it takes me almost all 7 days to get through the whole thing. I discovered succulents over the summer but one trip to the Phipps plant sale with two babes killed my desire to linger over rows of gorgeous spikey leaved plants. I have a box of lidded glass jars in the basement still waiting to be magically filled with the handmade bitters I was going to make last Christmas.

 My life is a gorgeous parade of constant activity with not enough time to be interested in so many things.

Maybe I could recognize that I can appreciate something simply for it's organic existence and not give myself such a hard time that I didn't pursue every shiny thing that catches my eye. Maybe the guilt-inducing pile of books on my nightstand could be replaced by a happy little jade plant in a ceramic pot. That I will most certainly kill because my interest in succulents did not extend to learning how often to water them.

Am I rambling? I am starting to get really tired.

I think I made myself quite clear.