I live in a reality that assumes everyone else is in it with me, but I’ve learned that maybe if you don’t have kids, you don’t know that My Pretty Pony and Strawberry Shortcake are back, but REVAMPED. Strawberry has long hair, and dresses a little more, shall we say, risque than she used to. My sister brought me the dolls that we had from when we were little, and SS was round and cute. SS these days looks to be more concerned with her figure, and making sure her hair is long with volume than being berry, berry fun!
Some of my time in Chicago was spent running insanely ridiculous errands for my boss at the time. He was an international traveler, and one of the last minute errands I had to run for him – if I remember right – was updating his passport. I wouldn’t think that you could throw some money at that type of thing to expedite it, but my boss was an expert at last minute.
As my heel hit the sidewalk, maybe there were 15, 20 seconds of trying to get my pace back before my heel skidded, my bag flew, and my arms hit the pavement. It was then and only then that I realized that I had turned into a M’AAM, because the resounding concerns from the 18 year old sailors were overwhelming. I also realized that my dream of being in a musical had finally come true, because I was being carried, by all of them, to my feet, while one of them put the contents of my bag back into my bag. It kind of felt like that part of Material Girl when Madonna is being carried by all those guys in tuxedos. (or Marilyn of course, no disrespect meant there). So I couldn’t help it, I broke out into “Some boys kiss me, some boys hug me….”
Just kidding. About the song anyway. But how cool would that story be. Soon enough my friends, soon enough.
The summer I was pregnant with Banana, I spent a significant amount of time at the beach. Why do I say “pregnant with Banana”. It’s not as if there are other youngin’s here that would make you wonder, “Pregnant with who?” but I can’t help it. Anyway most Saturdays and Sundays, I’d hop in the car with my roommate, we’d hit Dunkin Donuts and get an incredibly large ice coffee (I want to say it was decaf so I don’t get any judgment but I honestly can’t remember, it could have been a turbo) and we’d head to the ocean. One of our favorite places to go was Plum Island. If you’ve been to Plum Island, you know that the waves, and the undertow, are pretty intense. I love love love the ocean. Half of the reason I am so happy in Eastern MA is because I’m only a 15 to 20 minute drive to the beach, and everything about it makes me happy. I was brought up to think that sun and the sea were both very healing, something that will inevitably have me writing to you about my skin cancer any day now, because it is a very difficult mindset to break, especially when it feels so good.
In addition to loving being near the ocean, I love being in it. I am happiest when I’m completely engulfed by the water, even though the harsh salts pretty much rip your skin apart, and do terrible things to your hair, I love it. I was lucky enough to have a roommate that felt (and still feels) the same, so the two of us, on the particular day I’m writing about, probably spent about 2 hours straight in the water, even though it was a little cold, because the waves were beautiful and it was intensely hot out.
Side note – is the ocean, sun, waves, etc. bad when you’re pregnant? I have no idea. If it is, I am sorry Banana, but it looks like you’re okay now.
The waves were so intense that when they picked us up, because that’s what they were doing, we didn’t have much control over where and how we landed. But it was SO MUCH FUN. Maybe one of my favorite days at the beach. There weren’t that many people at the beach, but we were sitting hear a young family with two little kids, who were playing relatively close to the shoreline. I was wearing a bathing suit that was broken up into two pieces. Not technically a bikini, but there were two pieces. This is how I remember it: a wave came, and picked us up to the point that I think we were probably 10 feet in the air. Even if we weren’t, it felt as though we were. For the first second or two, I remember feeling lovely, and then, since the wave was so powerful, it sucked us both under and I think half of the ocean was being pumped into me through my nose and mouth. We were thrown, by the wave, onto the beach. I remember being sprawled out on the shoreline as the water retreated, trying to catch my breath, and rolling over to brace myself to get up. That’s when I realized I was face to face with the little boy that was playing near the shoreline, near my friend and I. His face looked like this:
I was sure that he had seen what the wave had done to the two of us, and he was probably now scared to go in the ocean himself. Good call young man!
Then I saw the rest of the family. As we’d been thrown onto the beach, they were not far away from us. And this kind of perfectly sums up their reactions.
Banana has entered the world of knock knock jokes. I don’t know who decided these things were a good time. (Pause for quick wikapedia lookup, and here we go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knock-knock_joke ) but they are painful for me. I trust that many people will say perhaps the infant years when you get no sleep are painful, perhaps the stage when they start to walk, which leads them to the potential safety issue, whether that be safety for themselves or others of course, or even when they realize they can crawl out of their crib. Yes, if we are thinking of the early years (I’m not even touching 12 and later, because I’m assuming I will need to write a novel for therapy given B’s early years) For me, the knock knock jokes have been the most utterly painful time in her childhood life. Mainly because I can’t not laugh, or give her the look I give my father when he says, “I got ’em all cut” in reference to my noticing his haircut. I have to smile with enthusiasm and congratulate her on her wit. Which is dwindling daily. Because here’s the lineup from the last hour:
B: Knock Knock
E: Whose there?
E: Moo who?
B: Moo I’m hungry, can we eat pizza?
B: Knock knock
E: Whose there?
E: Barbie who?
B: Barbie wears a dress sometimes.
B: Knock knock
E: Whose there?
E: Moo who?
B: Move on. See mommy? I told you to move on.
B: Knock knock
E: Whose there?
E: Pizza who?
B: Pizza pizza
Now had she known the last one was a lovely reference to little Ceasar’s, I might have been able to choke up a giggle that was remotely real, but all of these knock knock jokes are met with her slapping her knee, almost crying she’s laughing so hard. Will I be able to survive this? I fear that in a moment of weakened patience, which, let’s be honest, is really just my state normally, I will roll my eyes and say come ON Anna, can you come up with SOMETHING funny?
When I was in high school, the early days, I was in the band. In Berlin, NH, this was not the worst thing in the world. I wouldn’t say that you were held up as a musical genius but you were not brutally made fun of either. When I moved to Dover, the most shocking part of the move was the social suicide of being in the band. I had no control over it, or so I thought at the time, my parents would make no move to bless any quitting of any kind. I go back and forth about that philosophy, I mean, I was actually in an everyday hell being in band, considering we were ridiculously hazed – how ridiculous – and, at one of the worst moments of band – spit on while we were at a rival high school. I am sure that there is something to be said for forcing your children to follow through with a commitment, perhaps it is why I have a great work ethic, but perhaps also, it might be okay to let something go when it’s literally making your child want to die.
I don’t mean to make my high school experience sound awful, because it wasn’t. I loved high school. I don’t know why – I think once I was in Dover I entered a Romy/Michelle type blindness and had so much fun with the three other girls I attached myself to that most things like that, didn’t matter. At the same time, I will admit I completely hid being in band. Most Friday nights when we hit the field in our terrible wool uniforms and lovely hats adorned with feathers, once we were secure in the stands, I ran to the bathroom to change into jeans and a sweater so I could sit with my non-band friends. And now, being an adult, I would not go back and make anything different about my high school experience. I love music. Sometimes, I love music so much I think I ache with it. One of the most amazing things, if not the most amazing thing, I’ve received as a gift was a piano, that I pay homage to almost every day because I feel it would be horrible not to hear it, even if my playing is far from perfection. And I loved band. I loved almost everything about it, except for the fact that the football team slightly, brutally made fun of the band that was spending their down time cheering them on. So goes high school though, ey?
When I was in Berlin, and in general in my early days, the only two things I knew how to play were piano and flute. So when you have to be in a marching band, clearly, you can’t play the piano, and instead of the flute, you are forced into a piccolo. I have no idea why, but I hated the piccolo. I think it was just too small, and wasn’t enough sound. So my teacher basically gave me the choice of that, or the bass drum. And since I had already solidified my lack of popularity at Dover High, I was all about the bass drum.
Here’s where you need the visual. Green wool/polyester blend uniform. Hat, with plume attached. White, pointy, rubbery sneakers. Big, fat, bass drum. If I had a scanner I’d throw one of the lovely pictures in right now for your benefit but you’ll have to use your imagination. Imagine something lovely, because that’s what it was.
What was lovely about our setup at Dover High was that the band practiced in the parking lot, and the football team practiced in the football field. I get that that’s obvious. Anyway, one of those brutally hot afternoons, when you’ve technically entered the fall, but the weather is still summery, we were practicing one of our formations in the parking lot. Marching band is NOT easy. You might think it is if you haven’t done it, but you do actually need to coordinate playing and marching, and I promise you it’s not easy. I’m sure any of the lovely ladies that were in the same boat as me will attest to this when they read this, we worked hard. One of the things that made marching hard, especially in the parking lot, were the unexpected dips in the pavement. On this particular afternoon, I was marching along, with my bass drum, when I hit a dip in the pavement. Now there’s tripping, and then there’s tripping with a bass drum. Because you’re “wearing” it on you. With straps. So when you trip while wearing a bass drum, perhaps you will land on top of it. Perhaps it will roll a tiny bit, while you fall, and then, just if you’re lucky, you’ll land on top of your drum. Your drum will roll, and then you will roll over it, and then tip over so your drum rolls on top of you. No worries, you’ll be sweating, because it’s 95 degrees in September. And at the pinnacle moment, your crush, your DREAM man, the one you giggle over, the one you desperately hope to be at the PROM with later that year, that total idiot Jake Ryan type of guy will be driving by, catch the roll, and yell out “Alriiiiiiiiiight Erin!” and then whistle. And then you will melt into the pavement.
In my first few weeks working at RR Donnelley, we were forced to attend a training workshop. I honestly have no idea what it was for looking back now, maybe one of my former coworkers will, but I think it was under the premise of working better together? Problem solving? I don’t know. There were lots of “sessions” where we did things that felt human resourcey. I remember at one point we had to pass a ball around, I think we had to say things about each other that were positive or negative? Maybe there were hugs. And they’d give us breaks but when we heard the ROCKY theme we had to quickly come back into the room. Wow, looking back, I think it might have been kind of the worst?
Yesterday I was at the grocery store with banana picking up a few necessary items for a trip to see some of my favorite Berlin girls (and boys). We trotted through the store for roughly 45 minutes. At the tail end of our trip – I was dumping all of my change into one of those coinstar machines – y’know where you can get actual dollars for all of your change? Well it’s at the front of the store, in front of all the checkouts. Saturday mid-day at our local grocery store is a pretty busy time. Each checkout – and there are 10 – was about 5-7 folks deep. The coinstar machine is in the middle. So, you know, at any checkout, if you are even the third person in line, you have a pretty good view of the machine. My receipt was printing out when a lovely elderly woman put her arm around me and said, “I really like your dress,” to which I responded, “Oh, thank you!”, to which she responded, “But I don’t think that’s the way you want to wear it dear,” as she pulled the back of my dress out of my tights and covered my previously exposed rear-end.
There he was. Although I was somewhat right, he was slightly older than what I’d be into, at 22, I now realize that he was probably only 30-35. Oooohhh, perspective. Anyway, we talked for a few minutes, I can’t remember now what I said, but I do remember thinking it was witty and cute. We were about 2 and 1/2 minutes into our coversation when someone drove by and beeped their horn. “People are always beeping at the mailman….” he said smiling. “Oh, what am I thinking, they must be beeping at the pretty girl next to me….”. As if it was my cue in a bad play, WOOOOOSH – my feet were in the air, my ass was on the ground. Because it was so icy, when he grabbed my arm to help me up, my feet did that thing that a cartoon characters does when they’re trying to run. You know when their feet just keep going in circles as if independent of their bodies, and the lovely sound affect that goes with that? There’s nothing prettier than a woman in a skirt slipping on ice being held up by the mailman that’s trying desperately to get her back up on her feet.
When I googled “cartoon character trying to run” this was one of the images that came up, and none of the images were accurately portraying what I wanted them to, so I thought I’d include her for fun. Does she look like a cartoon character trying to run to you? Anyone else questioning the google images/dev team?
I moved to Chicago when I was a tad bit younger, and being a very small town girl in a very big city, these were the days that the best and most powerful *moments* happened. Moments of embarrassment, love, fun, and all of it BIG – everything – Chicago was maybe the most fun I had in life. Before Anna of course, who also happened in Chicago. Maybe they were bigger because when I was hurling myself down the stairs, there was more of a population to witness and comment on these things, but they were good times no matter what.
I handed him the paperwork, I have no idea what he said, because I believe his hair was also blowing in the non-existent wind. He was beautiful. After I handed him the paperwork, I swirled around to walk back up the escalator. I was GOOD. I knew that if I turned around, he would be looking at me, because my feminine swagger was right on. What I wasn’t paying attention to was which escalator I was hopping on. So, when I realized that the stairs were escalating down instead of up, I was too afraid to turn around and go back down, just in case he was watching. So I spent 10 minutes walking UP the DOWN escalator. Eric told me later that he was laughing too hard to pay attention to the beautiful man, but assured me that there was no way anyone in that lobby missed it. It would have been less embarrassing if I hadn’t have been picturing myself in a white gown in non-existent wind on the front of a romance novel, but what can I say. Escalators can be confusing.
I’m updating this post because I found the actual photo that documents the actual dress that was worn along with the actual hair and actual amazing dresses and hair of my lovely friends, who (I can only hope) will be mortified yet ecstatic that they are in this post. So below, with updates italicized, of course.
Much of my young life after an initial stair tumbling incident (referenced here: In the beginning, there was humiliation) was spent figuring out how to coordinate. As I’ve watched my daughter grow, I do think there are reasons for this. Totally logical reasons. Scientific even. If your body is growing at an alarmingly fast rate, how are you expected to keep up with how to coordinate it? For this reason I’ve given my own path of self destruction some reflection. In short, I was just too tall (and of course too beautiful, but that’s a separate post) for my own good.
I think the teachers that we had in the 6th grade, were bored. I think they thought, “How can we entertain ourselves with the kiddos?”….and then, the 6th grade semi was born. Most folks had the 8th grade prom, we did it up in the 6th grade. If I could find the gem of a dress I wore, this post would be SO MUCH BETTER, but alas I cannot. (Oh! But I can now!!) We’ll just have to rely on my descriptive skills. It was teal. A deep, green teal. It was long, it went down to my ankles, and it of course it had an immense amount of tulle, so the (could it have been) satin POOFED out like I was Cinderalla on crack in the 80’s. It had spaghetti straps (As you’ll see below, the straps are gone, but that’s because Matt Theberge broke them, which we’ll discover later in this EDGE OF YOUR SEAT story), and a large bow on the left hand side at the top of the dress (Ok, so I got the bow placement wrong, but how dead on is my memory? I’m brilliant). My hair was done to match, a feathering job that only a small town girl could appreciate, as we were sporting the fashions that were probably popular 5 to 6 years earlier in the rest of the world. I was gorgeous. Since we’re lacking a real picture of the beauty, I provide only the best comparison I could find. I looked almost EXACTLY like this:
Update with beautiful red reference arrows – how right was I? I mean, sure, the girl on the left (who I originally used in this post to give you reference) has LONG hair and mine is more shoulder length – but see the waves? They’re identical. She could LITERALLY join this photo, and I would have my missing twin, instead of being the only non twin in the picture. In fact, maybe she even IS my missing twin. The similarities are, in fact, ENDLESS.
In addition to my visible radiance, as any lovely young lady knows, when you are going out on the town you wear/buy new underwear. I won’t say panties, because it’s on my top ten list of the worst words in the dictionary, but when you’re going out on the town, they are certainly not just underwear, and you need them new. I was wearing what I thought were adorable undergarments, white with red hearts plastered all over them.
We had a courtyard in 6th grade. It was SUPER COOL. It was where all that is important happens. Marriages. Divorces. Duels. Gloves were thrown. Swords were DRAWN. Slaps were felt by the gentlemen, thrown by the ladies. Ok, maybe just me slapping Brian Cloutier’s face after I found out he wanted to date Crystal and not me. I was always searching for a spot on General Hospital, even in the 6th grade.
Anyway, before the 6th grade semi formal, of course, the coolest of the cool, the relationships, the drama, was happening in the courtyard. All of the girls were gathered in circles talking about the boys, imagining the boys were doing the same (When in fact they probably were talking about football) while we waited to go into the dance. I believe I was cultivating the first of what would be about 25 relationships over the next few years with Matt, and we were flirting. Flirting in the 6th grade of course meant pushing each other while giggling. I can’t remember exactly what we were saying to each other, but Matt had his hands on my shoulders, and was pushing me down the courtyard. As he was pushing me there was of course a group of guys at the bottom of the courtyard on their skateboards. The courtyard was a hill, and I had the disadvantage of not only being pushed by Matt, but also walking backwards as he was pushing me, and down the hill at the same time. I have to believe he didn’t know this, but Matt was pushing me right into an abandoned skateboard. As my legs flipped over my head (they really did too. Sometimes you can say something like that and not entirely mean it, but my legs actually did flip over my head), tulle a plenty taking over, my white underwear with red hearts plastered all over them were displayed for the entire sixth grade. Perhaps if it had been only a moment, perhaps if I had POPPED right up, not everyone would have had time to see, but as I was in a mess of tulle and dress and halfway down a hill, it was a little tough to bounce back. My spaghetti straps had snapped in half on the way down too, and my 80’s like hair was not as perfect as it had been when I aqua netted it up hours before.
You can tell it was not as perfect in the above shot, which I’ll go ahead and insert here again so you don’t have to scroll. I believe the combination of Aqua Net and sweat from the AMAZING dancing we were doing is most likely the cause. Between the Golden Girls-esque look of the ladies to my left, and the Blossom-without-a-hat look of the ladies to my right, MAN, we were STUNNING, from our hair to our underwear.