It’s Friggin’ Fall Ya’ll

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It’s friggin’ fall ya’ll.

Ghords and pumpkins and apple bobbing showing up in my Facebook newsfeed.

A trip to the pumpkin patch is on my calendar, and there would definitely be cobbler baking in my oven if it weren’t still a million goddamned degrees outside.

Pillsbury has like seven new cake flavors out, including candy apple and pumpkin spice. Which both sound less appealing than licking the roof of my dog’s mouth, but still – it’s friggin’ fall! I’m pumped!

My grocery store has an entire section of fall themed napkins and paper plates now. Like I walk in and – BAM! – there’s pumpkins and leaves to choose from for my family to wipe their disgusting, sloppy hands with.

All the memes are popping up on Instagram making fun of people for drinking their basic white girl pumpkin spice lattes, too. And on the note of basic white girls, I was able to get my husband his annual nutmeg and chai infused coffee creamer, only available – you guessed right – in friggin’ fall.

It’s way too hot out still to wear fall clothes, but I can now look longingly at my scarves and boots and Uggs, my sweaters, my cardigans, my hoodies, my cozy socks and comfy, warm pajamas. I can look at them and know that the five days a year it’s cold enough to wear those things here in Southern California are coming soon. Because it’s friggin’ fall.

Last week – as I mentioned in my post last night – we wrapped up a week of glamping with a couple nights in a hotel and fall shopping. Clothes. New shoes. School stuff. I spent no less than four hours on Thursday deciding whether I wanted to get a brown hurricane lantern with fall themed leaves inside it; or a beige hurricane lantern with nothing but a fall colored candle inside.

Even though it’s hot as balls outside still, I feel suddenly compelled to cook up some chowders. Clam chowder. Corn chowder. Chicken chowder. Potato chowder. I have so many chowders planned, it’ll be coming out of our eyeballs.

I planned out my kids’ Halloween costumes. Every year they dress together as a theme, and it goes a little something like this: I plan the costumes, start working on the costumes, forget about the costumes for two months, panic three days before Halloween and run around town like a crazy woman to put something together, they put said costumes on and take a few photos, then change into something simpler to hang out with friends. I friggin’ love it – it’s fall!

There’s like twenty five bags-worth of leaves piling up in my backyard too. Which doesn’t make much sense, because we live in Southern California and also what the hell do we have gardeners for if they aren’t going to take care of the leaves. But still. Leaves! Yeah! Fall!

I don’t know what it is that makes me more happy about fall. The fact that eventually (maybe in mid-November) it’ll cool down just a little bit. Or this year in particular having been a terrible summer, and fall signifies the end of that. Whatever the case may be, I’m psyched. Ghords and pumpkins and apples and apple bobbing and apple picking and stuff with nutmeg and the other seasonings that go into PSL I’m unaware of; Halloween and then Thanksgiving. It’s friggin’ fall, ya’ll. It’s friggin’ fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I Went Camping And Survived

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Okay, so let’s start this off by saying that to call what I did “camping” is a bit of a stretch.

Four nights were in a hooked up RV with running water, air conditioning, and electricity; in an RV park with free Wifi by the beach.

Two nights were in a hotel.

Regardless of those little details, it was camping and I did it and also I survived.

I have a very complicated history with camping.

On one hand, the bulk of my childhood is made up of one camping story after another stitched together. So you’d think camping brought about fond memories.

I camped a lot when I was very little in Girl Scouts. We hiked and made s’mores and eggs in paper bags over campfires and we sang songs and did crafts, and all that other happy horse shit the Girl Scouts do that I currently am at a loss to remember. I think there was some ghost story telling and TAPS playing in there somewhere.

My grandparents owned a lot up at The Pines (near the California-Nevada border), so we went there often when I was little as well. In fact, there’s a huge pine tree on the mountain today that I planted when I was only 6.

As I grew older, though, I became way more high maintenance; the result of which was that camping was no longer something I generally enjoyed. I grew to love my conveniences and my hair dryer and my makeup. And, more so, to dislike things like hiking and allergies, being bored sitting and fishing and getting nothing, and really not liking to be almost eaten by a bear.

…which, for the record, happened once. We were camping when I was 15 at Kings Canyon and after my entire family hiked to a waterfall, someone started screaming because a brown bear was walking up the pathway, straight for us. It ended up turning back (or something); nonetheless, I slept in the car and stayed close to our campsite for the rest of the trip.

Everyone this year was doing big vacations and trips, though; and – by comparison – my kids had an all time shitty summer. It started with a funeral for my husband’s grandmother; and shortly after that my oldest daughter sprained her ankle, effectively canceling all of her summer tennis plans. My younger daughter still played some, but then around mid-summer we found out she has Osgood-Schlatters, further hindering our tennis stuff…and to make matters worse, we have no AC and it has been HOT AS BALLS since mid-June.

All in all it just kind of sucked.

So as summer started coming to a close, I was determined to figure something out to salvage the season. But I was also on a tight budget, it being last minute and all; so when my mother in law offered us up their RV whenever we want it, I knew that was the best option.

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In all honesty, with the amount of a high maintenance, pain in the ass princess I am now – today, 21 years after that day the bear almost mauled us all to death up at Kings Canyon – I considered our four nights in an RV and two nights in a hotel really roughing it.

  1. Have you people ever showered in an RV? First off, it made me feel like Andre the Giant. My head hit the ceiling; and the shower head was effectively a glorified hose. And to make matters worse, calling RV hot water “hot water” is a bit of a stretch.
  2. It was just me and the three kids. That, alone, was absolute craziness. I had to make fires, put together the charcoal grills, use matches – all while keeping the baby from falling out of the RV window, and the girls busy and happy enough to feel like the summer had been salvaged.
  3. The third morning we were there, it rained. This soaked all of our stuff outside, including our firewood. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal (the sun came out shortly after the rain storm); except that the firewood wouldn’t light in the evening. I came up with the GENIUS idea to pour lighter fluid all over the small amount of flames I had been successful in getting going. I’ll let you guys know when my eyebrows grow back.
  4. The final morning we were there – and this was a big one – the RV toilet clogged. As it turned out, we were using the wrong type of toilet paper. Nevertheless, we couldn’t figure out how to get it unclogged, until finally we found this magic wand my in laws had stored in one of the outside compartments. It sprayed the paper out of the toilet, but after we got it back outside, my daughter started unscrewing it from the hose before the water was fully off; and, in short, there was a large mess.

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Okay, obviously two nights in a hotel was not even remotely like camping. But it was      still roughing it. We were on the first floor with some noisy walkers above us; and there was a local corn hole tournament going on, so the hotel was packed with rowdy corn hole enthusiasts.

We’ve been home, now, for two days and I feel like my entire perspective on life has changed. I can handle a long and rough vacation with the kids, alone. That’s a really big deal. Also, I can figure out how to do things like build fires and unclog RV toilets if I’m given enough time and resources.

I’m definitely more of an all-inclusive resort kind of gal, though. What about you?

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young B(itch)

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Some of you may or may not know this (depends on how much you pay attention to my blathering), but I am quite the educated lady. I don’t mean that I’m smart or wise or know shit, though. I mean I’ve had a breadth of education.

In spite of approximately a decade of higher education, I still consider myself pretty much an imbecile.

When I first moved to California, I had just graduated high school. I went to community college for two years, where I did what I always planned on doing – majoring in studio arts. But as time wore on, the obsessive nagging of my parents to “do something more realistic” got to me so I changed my major to political science and philosophy. After earning a bachelor’s degree, I went on to graduate school in philosophy, became terribly disillusioned with the entire process, left graduate school and have since been floundering around.

To some degree, I’m pretty happy with my current life. I homeschool, which in a way is teaching – it just isn’t a room full of college kids, or (for the most part) philosophy that I’m teaching. And I get to have the time to be a writer, which is cool.

But something in the back of my mind (heart, soul, whathaveyou) has not been satisfied in all of this. I miss being an artist.

Semester after semester has gone by that I have attempted to take an art class at the local college; or to start drawing and painting on my own – neither thing I have done in over 10 years. I thought that after I renounced majoring in studio arts, I really needed to renounce art altogether to be comfortable with doing that. And so it has been a struggle to get back into it. I find excuses not to draw or paint on my own. Classes I have signed up for have been canceled, or I have found a reason not to take them in the end.

Then last night, I got passed into a class that was full at the local community college by my former studio arts advisor and teacher. He remembered me. He was happy to add me, in spite of the fact that the class was already filled to capacity. Today the class began.

But there are things that come along with going “back to school” that strike me as odd, maybe annoying – even when I’m just going for fun.

#1 Student Parking = State of Nature With Cars

I never used to have problems parking at school. There were always spots, and where I wanted to park. I never had to get to class an hour or two early just to have a place to put my car. Now it’s different, though. Now you have to very carefully manipulate yourself around the parking lot to get a spot.

You have to defend your prized place with everything you have in you too. After parking my car today (something that took twenty minutes and an hour early to class to do), I saw two guys get out of their cars and begin to fist fight for a spot. As I walked to class I heard someone screaming obscenities out their window.

Student parking is like the state of nature with cars. It’s nasty. It’s brutal. But if you don’t hold your ground, you won’t get a spot and you’ll miss your class. With a student body of roughly 12,000, it seems like the college could work to have better and more adequate parking availability. But then again, maybe this is a part of weeding out the weaklings. Only the true warriors will survive in this community college.

#2 Artists Have Too Much Freedom

I realized today a big part of why I have avoided doing art on my own for so long – there is too much freedom in it. After I changed to a political science and philosophy major – and especially when I went to graduate school – I fell into that groove of doing exactly what I was told. Papers could be about one topic, and one topic only. And it was the topic you were told. Essay length was no more and no less than what the professor told you as well.

You can imagine, then, my response today when my professor said “projects this semester are entirely based on you and what you want to do … it will be your topics, your ideas, and whatever medium you wish to use.” I almost passed out. Choice? Freedom? My ideas? These are concepts I abandoned a long, long time ago.

#3 There’s Always That One Asshole…

Something I absolutely despise about community college classes is there is always that one asshole that has to show off to the teacher. It’s as if they designate this person in the registrar’s office in the beginning of each term. “OK, we need some total jerk off that will interrupt the teacher, try and impress everyone with facts, ask way too many questions, and share a plethora of personal information no one else in the class wants to know.”

It never fails. Every single damned class I have ever taken has been like that. These people in community colleges – no matter how old, how seasoned, how experienced they are – just don’t know when to shut the hell up.

This class is no exception.

This lady in the class (and I call her “lady” using the term loosely, really I just want to signify that she is clearly older than me), will not shut up. She asked no less than forty-five questions today. She talked and talked and fuggin’ talked over the teacher. She rambled when her name came up during roll. She rambled when other people’s names came up. And just when the class was about to dismiss, she asked a detailed question that absolutely required a detailed answer.

Ugh.

So our first assignment to kick start all of this free-will-do whatever you’d like-stuff is to do a self-portrait. Of course even that is loosey-goosey: we can do something that isn’t even an image of ourselves, just what we think of when we think of “me.” I started snapping photos of myself today to see what I could come up with, and this photo below is my favorite. It really depicts all the levels of my psychosis. I think I’ll call it A Portrait of the Artist as a Young B(itch). Or – alternatively – Psychotic Nosepicker, a Study.

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Saying Goodbye to Summer

I don’t mean “saying goodbye to summer” as in it’s nice and cool and you can all break out your Uggs and seven-layered scarves and crap. No, no – as I sit here and think about changing my shirt since the boob sweat has now soaked through – no, I don’t mean that.

I mean that all these little bastards are going back to school somewhere between the end of this week and the Tuesday after Labor Day. This is a blessed thing, in my book.

Now before you all get huffy because I called your precious cargo “bastards,” please keep in mind that I don’t actually mean to say all kids are bastards. Just the majority of those in my community are. And we’ve all got to admit that some kids just are not the little sweetie-pies kids are supposed to be anymore. I think video games, television, and the culture of entitlement really ruined it for everyone.

Being a homeschooling family, I don’t usually get a sense of “back to school” time. I know when the kids are back to school, because those little jerks aren’t running their scooters into my car and letting off fireworks outside my bedroom window anymore. They aren’t screaming at 6:30 in the morning to each other. Their parents are back to work too, rather than overcompensating for their lack of involvement during the school year.

I think you know what I mean, though, when I say we don’t really get a sense of “back to school” time. We are in school all the time.

There will be no “back to school” supply shopping for me because homeschooling is done all year in this house. Sometimes I take advantage of the back to school sales – because, quite frankly, homeschooling ain’t cheap – but if I don’t really need anything at the time, it usually comes and goes with no notice. This year, I already had more than enough of everything and had planned through the end of December of this year.

I will have no overachieving parents to contend with whose children are in the same class as mine. I won’t have to stand around at the bus stop and chit-chat with mothers who don’t know my name, no matter how many times I’ve told them. There will be no carpool to deal with. No pick up/drop off lines. I won’t have to dread the return of the P.T.A. or P.T.O. or whatever the school calls them now. The “back to school” carnival will have no fish for us, because we won’t be there. My husband won’t be worried that this year he will finally have to volunteer for the carnival’s dunk tank. And when the Halloween party comes, I won’t have to take a Valium to prepare for the parents yelling at me – the room mom – for not presenting the baked goods in a way that properly highlighted them.

There will be no volunteer hour requirements to once again meet. There will also be no fundraisers. There will be no auctions that I have to make baskets for. There will be no bake sales. There will be no cookie dough orders and gift wrap sales. There will be no bills for funds not raised and hours not volunteered.

Summer may be coming to an end, but my sleeping until 9 in the morning every day won’t.

Summer may be coming to an end, but trips to the museum whenever we want won’t.

Summer may be coming to an end, but the added traffic and lines and public hassle sure will.

At the end of the summer, I usually celebrate the return of school by scheduling all of our really fun stuff. This year we’re going to Catalina Island, although there will be very few people there. We’re going to Disneyland and there will be no lines. We’re heading to the Angels/White Sox game – in the middle of the day on a school day. No one will be around, but we will and this is so awesome words cannot describe.

There are plenty of reasons why I am envious of the end of summer for many of you. You get showers again. You get “me” time again. You get order again and eight free hours a day to sip your coffee or tea or whatever until it’s time to get the kids and start on the homework. You don’t live and breath school, which is exactly what we do.

There will be no day that comes and it is suddenly quiet in my house. There will be no quiet shower in the morning; uninterrupted by questions and complaints and “I’m hungry”s. There will be no eight hours of uninterrupted “me” time, when I can go to the spa or mop the floor in peace. Shopping will still include a stop at the toy store as a bribe to get the rest of the shopping done with no issues.

But on the note of shopping, we will have no “school clothes shopping” day, where I am suddenly confronted with dress codes and the rising cost of uniforms.

In the end, I still prefer my end of summer much better. Without the hassle of supply shopping, and the drag of getting out of bed before 7. Without the jerk kids running their scooters into my car and the overachieving parents forgetting my name. Saying goodbye to summer is saying hello to pretty good times for me.